Posted in Poetry

The first cut – a song against FGM/FGC

 

by Noel Ihebuzor 

I wait eyes half closed stilling myself,

seeing all around dimly,

heart pounding and racing,

sweating, shivering.

 

Then the blade flashes fast,

tears down, biting

deep into loose flesh, full lips

my body all tense,  

uncontrollable shivers and tremors,

another slash, the lips are gone,

 

a spurt, a splash

then the gush of running wet red spreads slowly,

and swells and swells, emptying me,

stunting me, marking and hurting.

 

The pain in my head stings, stuns and swells,

throbs banging,

pain plays discordant persistent jarring strokes,

hammering pounding,

my flesh now raw, red and ragged.

 

My sobs of pain and bewilderment

are drowned in the jubilant ululation of aunties

while mother looks on,

sharing my pain, not speaking,

lips trembling as I tremble, lips sealed,

recalling her own past and initiation,

an unwilling accomplice to a stubborn slow to die practice

that slashes, gores, gashes and stunts portions of life of the living

in keeping with the hollow voice of an outmoded moribund tradition.   

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“Report Finds Gradual Fall in Female Genital Cutting in Africa” NYT 22/07/2013

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

Sometime ago, following advocacy visits to some parts of Nigeria and to Sierra Leone, I wrote this poem  to describe and condemn the practice of FGC.  I later discovered with great joy that the practice of FGC was being abandoned in a growing number of societies/communities and so I wrote this poem to celebrate that positive development. The hope was that such a positive development would spread to more societies and that such HTP would eventually die and become history.

Just last week, I came across this article in the New York Times.

Progress is being made in the eradication of FGC but the practice still continues, largely because of norms and social pressures.  The excerpt below from the NYT article explains why

“The most common reason women give for continuing genital cutting is to gain social acceptance. United Nations researchers for the first time cross-tabulated data on women’s views and learned that many mothers opposed to the practice reported having had their daughters cut”.

“This shows the gap between attitudes and behavior,” Mrs. Cappa said. “What you think as an individual is not enough to put an end to the practice because of social pressures and obligations.”

My view is that the world can end this practice when mothers, aunties, fathers, uncles and husbands and all of us join hands and forces to resist such social pressures. It is also important that we all come together to provide a network of security and support to all those who resist such pressures. Lend your voice today to stop this practice. Men and women, uncles, aunties, fathers, mothers, husbands and wives, yes, all of us stand to gain from an abandonment of FGC given the limitless health, emotional and relational externalities that would flow from such a humane and human rights based decision and choice,

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Futile search for a Good Igbo – by Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

The voice and views of Rudolf Okonkwo from 14 years ago but still relevant

Between 250 CE and 1948, Jews were expelled from Europe over 80 times. That is, in 1,700 years, people in Europe expelled the Jews at the average rate of once every 21 years.

It happened in France, England, Spain, Portugal, Germany and dozens of other countries. These countries in their own characteristic ways rose up one day to declare that they were tired of hosting Jews and tolerating their behaviors and accepting their attitude that whatever land they lived in was no man’s land. These Europeans claimed they were more charitable, hospitable, accommodating and generous to the Jews than any other nationality, but the Jews abused it. They demanded that all Jews leave or be vanquished. They said they tried but they could not see any good Jew to make them change their minds.

Historians who have studied the phenomenon came up with the usual explanations given as the reason why Jews were expelled. Here are six typical reasons (from history books and online sources) as expressed in popular quotes used during each expulsion, massacre and persecution. 1.) “We hate Jews because they possess too much wealth and power.” 2.) “We hate Jews because they arrogantly claim that they are the chosen people.” 3.) “Jews are a convenient group to single out and blame for our troubles.” 4.) “We hate Jews because they killed Jesus.” 5.) “We hate Jews because they are different than us.” 6.) “We hate Jews because they are an inferior race.”

Historians have examined these reasons in order to see if they were causes of the hatred or the excuses for the hatred. Historians propound that if they are causes, once the cause is taken away, the hatred will vanish. But if the cause is taken away and the hatred remains, then, it is mere excuse.

On the economic reason which says that Jews possess too much wealth that causes envy and resentment, historians found out that the Polish and Russian Jews of the 17th -20th century were “dirty poor” yet, they were hated. When the Jews are doing well, the myth that they have a plan to rule the world by controlling governments and financial establishments took shape in the fictional work called, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Though it has been debunked as fiction, it remains a bestselling book in the world.

On the idea that the Jews were claiming to be the chosen ones, historians noted that the Jews of Germany in the 19th century denied the concept of being the chosen ones. Many of them assimilated with mainstream Germans, abandoning their language and culture and ways of life. Yet, when the holocaust started, it did not save them. And the Larry Kings of America, who changed their names to hide their identities and those who are not practicing Jews like Madam Albright, have not been spared as objects of hate. Surprisingly, in today’s world, it is the Christians and the Muslims who openly claim that they are the ones chosen by God and nobody can get to God except through their intermediaries- Jesus and Muhammad. But they don’t get the kind of hatred that the Jews get.

The scapegoating of the Jews, especially in difficult economic and political times, is not a cause but rather an excuse. To scapegoat, you must first of all hate. Hitler conveniently used Jews as scapegoat because the hatred was already there. It made it easy for Germans to believe that Jews were the reason they lost World War I and why the German economy was fluttering. The fifth reason, that the Jews killed Jesus, falls flat when the Christian Bible says that the Romans killed Jesus with the help of Jews but the hatred was reserved for Jews alone. The Roman Catholic Church, in its Second Vatican Council in 1963, had to officially exonerate the Jews, but the hatred continued.

The idea that the Jews were outsiders should have waned with the increase in Jewish assimilation over the years. But it didn’t. Instead, the complaint changed. In Germany, it turned into: “We hate you, not because you’re different, but because you’re trying to become like us! We cannot allow you to infect the Aryan race with your inferior genes.”

The final reason is that “we hate the Jews because they are an inferior race.” The Jews are not a race, to begin with.

This is how Rabbi Kalman Packouz put the dilemma of the Jews. “Every other hated group is hated for a relatively defined reason,” he wrote. “We Jews, however, are hated in paradoxes: Jews are hated for being a lazy and inferior race – but also for dominating the economy and taking over the world. We are hated for stubbornly maintaining our separateness – and, when we do assimilate – for posing a threat to racial purity through intermarriages. We are seen as pacifists and as warmongers; as capitalist exploiters and as revolutionary communists; possessed of a Chosen-People mentality, as well as of an inferiority complex. It seems that we just can’t win.”

In 2005, Okey Ndibe wrote a piece he called, “Thou Shall Not Rent to Igbo.” In it he brought to the fore the discriminatory challenges Igbo tenants were facing in finding apartments to rent in Lagos. In a rejoinder titled, “Igboman can be a good Tenant,” Kola Akomolede’s argued that it was not only Yoruba landlords who do not want the Igbo tenant but landlords of other ethnicities, including some Igbo landlords. He suggested that the real problem was the nature of the Igbo man and not the discrimination against Igbo tenants which he made every effort to justify. He suggested that Ohanaeze should advice Igbo men to “change their attitude and behave like gentlemen.”

European intellectuals, including some Jews, made similar appeal to Diaspora Jews across Europe before Hitler came. Many Jews bought into it. They changed their names and many abandoned their religion all together. Some intermarried with Germans. But when Hitler came, it did not save them.

Instead of finding practical structures based on law and order to deal with universal issues between tenants and landlords, Akomolede made flimsy arguments like the one about the Igbo with “good background” being good tenants. Property consultants and owners, he suggested, should care about good background of tenants. He finally fell back on the popular refrain that the Yoruba are the most accommodating nation in Nigeria.

We have heard that line before. And we are hearing a lot of it today. Some have observed that beneath the issue of discrimination against Igbo tenants is the bigger and subtle issue – the battle for Lagos.

That battle for Lagos has actually come out in the open.

Common with all things Nigeria, Akomolede’s greatest failure was in subscribing to the predominant Igbo stereotype on the basis of which he demanded a change in the nature of the Igbo. “Stereotypes are not necessarily malicious,” once cautioned Chinua Achebe. “They may be well meaning and even friendly. But in every case they show a carelessness or laziness or indifference of attitude that implies that the object of your categorization is not worth the trouble of individual assessment.” That’s how the action of a man or a group of people in Nigeria is often ascribed to the action of an ethnic or religious group.

The old conventional wisdom was that of Samora Machel: ‘For the nation to live, the tribe must die.’ The new conventional wisdom is that, the tribe can live as long as it wants. But for the nation to live, impunity must die; citizens’ rights must be respected; law and order must be established and enforced, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or creed.

On the one hand, since 1914, the primary question of Nigeria has been the Igbo question. There are other important questions, but in the answer to the Igbo question comes the understanding of all the other questions. On the other hand, the primary tragedy of the Igbo is that they are living in a Nigeria that is yet to come, if it ever comes.

The innocence of the Igbo ended long time ago. It ended before 1945 when some Northern elements in Jos first rose up and massacred Igbo people. When it was repeated in 1953 in Kano, the British inquiry reported that, “No amount of provocation, short-term or long term, can in any way justify their (Northern Nigerians) behavior.” The British report went further to warn that “the seeds of the trouble which broke out in Kano on May 16 (1953) have their counterparts still in the ground. It could happen again, and only a realization and acceptance of the underlying causes can remove the danger.”

Of course, it happened again. It happened in all of northern Nigeria in 1966, Kano in 1980, Maiduguri in 1982, Jimeta in 1984, Gombe in 1985, Kaduna & Kafanchan in 1991, Bauchi, Kastina, & Kano in 1991, Zango-Kataf in 1992, Funtua in 1993, Kano in 1994. Since 1999, over 10,000 people have been killed in more than a dozen incidents of religious/ethnic conflicts. And since 2009, over 4000 people have died in Boko Haram attacks. The dispossession and displacement of Igbo people once desired by the leaders of the Northern House of Assembly in the 60s have now been achieved by Boko Haram in the 2010s. In places like Maiduguri only death-defying Igbo stayed put. Even those types have sent their wives and children home.

Usually, before Igbo bloods were spilled, it was customarily preceded by arguments in several quarters, official and unofficial, in the media and in secrecy, about the disdain of the very nature of the Igbo and the need for Igbo to change. In Northern Nigeria of 1964, there were calls in the Northern House of Assembly to revoke forthwith all Certificates of Occupancy from the hands of the Igbo residents in the region. Lawmakers stood up in the assembly and promised to find ways to do away with the Igbo. Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gashash, O.B.E and Minister of Land and Survey, told the assembly in March of 1964 the following:

“Having heard their demand about Ibos holding land in Northern Nigeria, my ministry will do all it can to see that the demands of members are met. How to do this, when to do it, all this should not be disclosed. In due course, you will all see what will happen. (Applause)”.

The Northern People’s Congress, NPC, followed Alhaji Gashash’s promise by issuing a booklet called SALAMA: Facts must be faced. This booklet portrayed the Igbo in a very bad light and gave the masses in the North the sense that the Igbo were the source of all their problems. At the same time, the government of Western Nigeria also issued their own booklet called UPCAISM in which the Igbo, called “strangers,” were depicted as land grabbers who must be removed from Western lands and government positions. The booklets also displayed pictures of shops and stores owned by the Igbo and indulged in undue character assassination.

The military coup of 1966 presented a pretext to carry out a plan that had been laid out years before. It was a plan that aimed at a total extermination of the Igbo or, at least, their containment. The pogrom and the brutal war that followed was the final solution to the perceived Igbo problems in Nigeria. When Anthony Enahoro traveled round the globe arguing that starvation was a weapon of war, he was following the script for the total extermination of the Igbo. When Benjamin Adekunle boasted to foreign reporters, “I want to see no Red Cross, no Caritas, no World Council of Churches, no Pope, no missionary and no UN delegation. I want to prevent even one Ibo from having even one piece to eat before their capitulation. We shoot at everything that moves and when our troops march into the centre of Ibo territory, we shoot at everything even at things that do not move…,” he was following the same script.

Just like the once accommodating and charitable and hospitable and generous Germany became a graveyard of Jews when Hitler came, Nigeria became a graveyard of Igbo when Gowon came. And, equally, like Germany, Nigeria failed to accomplish the final solution plan. The only difference was that the Jews learnt from that horrible Holocaust experience and formed their own country while the Igbo failed in that struggle for Biafra and returned to embrace Nigeria as if nothing had happened. Thomas Sowell, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University and a renowned scholar on Races and World Economies wrote that, “Most of the great mindless slaughters of the 20th century — whether of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, the kulaks in the Soviet Union, the Jews in Germany, the I[g]bo in Nigeria or the Tamils in Sri Lanka — have been slaughters of those who dramatically eclipsed the accomplishments of others.”

The kulaks were liquidated. The Armenians, the Jews and the Tamils are struggling and still fighting to keep the memories alive and stop it from ever happening again. The Igbo on their part, forgot what happened and why. But the Nigerian elements, disappointed in their unfinished job, have not forgotten. Instead, they are busy preparing for the final battle. Those in doubt should listen when they remind the Igbo openly that “history will repeat itself.” In ways subtle and covetous, they are laying the ground work for what we all know must come. They are making public and closed door speeches in which they are promising that “how to do this, when to do this, will not be disclosed.” The seed of the trouble, as far as these Nigerian elements see it, is in the nature of the Igbo. As long as Igbo will not denounce their Igboness, it will happen again. And this time, it may be a total annihilation, from Port Harcourt to Lagos on to Gusau via Abuja.

Acknowledged, it has been difficult, and will always be difficult, for the rest of Nigeria to interpret the Igbo life and worldview. There is a big difference between what the Igbo think and what others think the Igbo think. This misunderstanding, in many quarters, has continued to be transformed into inert hatred. The myth of the Igbo constantly in the face of Nigerians everywhere, has proved very difficult for many to decipher.

In a 2005 Igbo Day keynote speech titled, The Primacy of Political or Economic power: The Igbo Dilemma, Professor Anya O. Anya noted that:

“There is an inherent paradox and contradiction in the lgboman’s place in Nigeria. On the one hand given his industry, his intelligence and his enterprise, the Igboman is a desirable gift to Nigeria and the stuff of which great nations and great civilizations can be built. On the other hand, given his presumptive confidence in his abilities and his unabashed hunger to succeed at whatever cost, he engenders fear and unwelcome visibility amongst his compatriots. His lack of subtlety, his drive to overcome and his insatiable “greed” for material progress engenders resentment and often inexplicable, and perhaps, undeserved hostility in the host communities. His “loud” style of Life and the facility with which he can adapt to and adopt new ways can also be unsettling to foreign cultural formations that have come in contact with the lgbo including the colonial masters. There is thus an underlying sense of conflict in the lgbo presence in Nigeria.”

For those who care but do not know and those who know but do not care, the Igbo are not perfect. Like so many other groups, the Igbo have those uncommon human frailties and foibles as well as unique virtues and wisdoms. When their sense of vanity is heightened, their sense of modesty is diminished. When their sense of belonging is enhanced, their sense of variance is lessened. The Igbo know that things others did to them were many but the things they did to themselves were more. (Apologies Prof. Chieka Ifemesia). But the Igbo history warrants that the Igbo must keep eternal vigilance – chasing away the prey while scolding the chick.

In trying to find an answer many observers of negativity in Igbo life seek, I stumbled on “The Focus of Igbo Worldview,” a paper presented by Prof. Donatus I. Nwoga. In it he wrote:

“The opportunity which the present times have given for the predominant attributes of the Igbo to blossom into the ugliness of materialistic indiscipline, and lack of grace and finesse, must not be taken to represent the all-time behavior of the Igbo. A characteristic which could have been favorable and positive in one phase of the history of a people, which could again be positive and beneficial in another phase, could present the greatest negative consequences in a transitional phase. In practical terms, the attributes which make the Igbo appear vulgar and materialistic at this phase, could be the same attributes that made them achieving and titled people in the past. The present could merely be revealing the impact of new, uncharted times to the chaotic instinct in those who had been restrained by the limiting structures and facilities of the ordered past. And it is important to retain then the diachronic consciousness that transitional people have the handicap of having lost the grace and poetry of their past, without yet acquiring the grace and poetry, or at least the discipline and sanctions of the modern.”

The duty those who believe in Nigeria owe to this transitioning Nigeria is to give her a structure. In a structured Nigeria where there is law and order, people will be treated as individuals according to the laws of the land. Those who currently take advantage of the disorder in Nigeria would have to get in line or face the letters of the law. In a just and equitable society, those who are industrious, honest and creative will soar. Until then, those who dream of changing the nature of the Igbo or any ethnic group for that matter are confounded with many paradoxes.

The fundamental truth is that the Igbo, as part of humanity, have the right to live anywhere – with or without Nigeria. Let it be known that the original sin of the Igbo has not changed and will never change – it is the sin of being Igbo. It is from it that all other sins emerge and get magnified. The Igbo have nothing to prove and must not begin a defense of that right or a discussion of their Igboness on the terms of others. It is a matter of expediency for the Igbo to know this and for the Igbo to understand its implication in their final battle for survival.

If the Igbo had not embraced western education in the mid-1930s and overtaken the rest of Nigeria thirty years after; if the Igbo had not accepted Nigeria and emigrated from their tropical rain forest of the east to all corners of Nigeria; maybe, the pogrom would not have happened.

For many, a good Igbo is one who is only Igbo in his home; who is not Igbo everyday and everywhere; who is apologetic for being Igbo, and who wears the following expression on his forehead: “how dare you assume I am Igbo?”

Though my last name is as Igbo as they come, I’m sure that I’m not a good Igbo man. I do not conform to every man’s definition of an Igbo, including definition by the Igbo themselves. But that should not be a problem, unless you are Femi Fani-Kayode and his like.

There are serious people vigorously dedicated to the search for a good Igbo man or woman. I enthusiastically applaud them. And I must add, with all honesty, “Bros, Good luck with that!”

(This is an updated version of my 2005 article, Igbo: The Final Battle)

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Legality, constitutionality and the separation of powers – Reflections on the readings of 27th Jan 2019 of the Catholic liturgy

The link line below takes us to today’s readings in the Catholic liturgy

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/012719.cfm#.XE3ax5U_CpN.gmail

A number of the themes and points in today’s readings resonate with ongoing events in Nigeria, especially the suspension from office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) by the president who said he was acting on an order of the Code of Conduct of Bureau (CCB). There appears to be almost unanimity of views concerning the unconstitutionality and thus the illegality of the president’s action in this regard. The dominant view is that the president’s action violates sections 292 and 157 of the 1999 constitutions of the FRN, a constitution the president swore to defend.

Supporters of the president’s action have tried to justify his action by claiming that the CJN had admitted to making incomplete assets declaration before the CCB, this failure being a sign of corruption, and that the president was thus right in the taking the action he took to deal with the wrong that the CJN had admitted to doing. This type of argument amounts to saying that an illegality is justified if it is perpetrated to deal with an illegality, never mind if that illegality in question is still an allegation. A president is thus justified to flout the constitution according to the dictates of his sense of what is right and not what is constitutional or legal. An argument of this nature is dangerous in that it amounts to saying that the personal whims and leanings of a president supersede the provisions of a country’s constitution. But worse still, an argument like that could lead to a situation where one person becomes judge, jury, and hangman at the same time a situation that violates the principle of separation of powers, a principle upon which modern democracies rest. For democracies to survive and thrive, the three arms of Government must be separate, with no arm encroaching on the duties and functions of the other, with no arm thinking that it has the right to lord it over the others or that it has a monopoly of moral consciousness or of overbrimming patriotism. Relations between the three parts must be governed by respect and recognition of interdependence. The constitution clearly spells out the ways and manners that these three arms of government are to interact. Processes enshrined in the constitution and stipulations on the limits to the role and powers of each arm of government must also be respected by all.

Today’s readings, especially the first and the second readings, illustrate the spirit of such recognition of role scope and limits as well the interdependence of functions. In the first reading (Nehemiah 8: 2-10), Ezra brought the law before all the people. The message here is full transparency before all, no opacity, no hanky-panky. Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people. Again, nothing is hidden. Was the process for the suspension of CJN undertaken with the same transparency? The answer is NO! The process is shrouded in opacity and smirks of an operation carried out with indecent haste with the head of the executive stooping to some low practice such as by-passing laid down processes. When you stoop to such practices, you lose respect. Recall too that in the first reading, Ezra stands above the people as he read to them – proxemics, height in this case, being used to symbolize the moral authority of Ezra on matters of the law. Notice here that Nehemiah, the executive head, recognizes and respects this separation of powers between him and Ezra.

The second reading is a classic text in systems thinking and functional interdependence. No part of the body can exist in isolation from the other parts, none can claim that it is the most important, none can carry on in a spirit of arrogance. Each must recognize its limits as well as respect the roles and limits of other organs. No role usurpation, no shortcuts to laid down processes or self-promotion at the expense of other parts are allowed. As with the body, so with the principle of the separation of powers in democratic governance. And governance is at its best when this principle of separation of powers but functional interdependence is maintained and respect. Sadly in the suspension of CJN, the president neither kept faith nor respected this principle. Even when one concedes to arguments that seek to justify the president’s actions by appeals to the goodness of his intentions, the point needs to be made that respect of the constitution is superior to an admiration of intentions, whether such intentions are real or imagined. Corruption should be fought but the fight must be within the limits of legality. Adopting or advancing an approach to deal with corruption that suggests the subversion of laid down laws and processes is dangerous not because it reveals a flawed and corrupted mindset but also it can launch the whole country down the slippery road to tyranny and anarchy

The third reading enjoins us as children of God upon whom His spirit rests to speak up against injustice, against the abuse of power and against all gimmicks by which persons in power who seek to hold others in bondage and mental enslavement. The good news of the gospel is a message of freedom, a message that is designed to restore sight to the blind and to restore liberty to all those who are held in shackles by the demagogy of power-hungry persons and their allies who are willing to subvert laid down processes for political gains. The duty of all on whom the spirit of God rests is thus to proclaim the truth which will set captives free and break the chains and limitations that ignorance and fear cast on such persons. The word of God speaks to us every day and has relevance to each challenge that life throws at us. May we be open to His words and may His spirit illumine us to derive meaning from his words which are truth and life and to share these with others..

Source: January 27 2019

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Ben Nwabueze, GMB June 12 declaration and politics. (Excerpted)

*Professor Ben Nwabueze, Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN), has faulted the June 12 declaration made by President Muhammadu Buhari.*

In a statement, he personally signed, Nwabueze described the declaration as “unconstitutional, a masterstroke of mischief and insincerity and a deceitful contrivance”.

The full Statement:

In a special press statement signed by himself personally, which is unprecedented, President Buhari made the following momentous announcement:

“For the past 18 years, Nigerians have been celebrating May 29th, as Democracy Day. That was the date when for the second time in our history, an elected civilian administration took over from a military government. The first time this happened was on October 1st, 1979.

But in the view of Nigerians, as shared by this Administration, June 12th, 1993, was far more symbolic of Democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29th or even the October 1st.

June 12th, 1993 was the day when Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our Independence. The fact that the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then Military Government does not distract from the democratic credentials of that process.

Accordingly, after due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12th will be celebrated as Democracy Day. Therefore, Government has decided to award posthumously the highest honour of the land, GCFR, to late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12th, 1993 cancelled elections. His running mate as Vice President, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, is also to be invested with a GCON. Furthermore, the tireless fighter for human rights and the actualization of the June election and indeed for Democracy in general, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, is to be awarded a GCON posthumously.

The commemoration and investiture will take place on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, a date which in future years will replace May 29th as a National Public Holiday in celebration of Nigeria Democracy Day”.

LEGAL ISSUES ARISING FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DECLARATION

The President’s Declaration raises several issues concerning, first, the intention behind it, whether it is motivated by the public interest or by a political desire to secure the votes of Nigerians in the 2019 election, especially the votes of people of the South-West or to sow the seed of division among the members of the National Assembly in order to scuttle the threat to impeach him or to throw the country into turmoil or to smear the polity with the taint of illegality. A motive of mischief seems evident on the face of the Declaration. It is indeed a masterstroke of mischief and insincerity, a deceitful contrivance, suddenly and mischievously trumped up to rescue his dying image three years after his installation as President.

But the question of primary interest to us here concerns the legal aspects of the President’s Declaration, which raise three issues of some intricacy , viz (a) whether what he calls the cancellation of the June 12 election by the then Military Government is binding legally on him and Nigerians generally, or putting it differently, whether as President he has the power or competence to overturn or disregard the cancellation without an Act of the National Assembly repealing it; (b) the legal effects of the cancellation; and (c) whether the President’s 6th June Declaration does not require, as a condition for its effectiveness in law, that the results of the June 12 election should have been officially announced and Chief Abiola officially declared its winner.

Binding force of the annulment of the June 12 election by a Decree of the Federal Military Government (FMG).

It is as indisputable that a presidential election was, as a matter of fact, held on June 12, 1993 as that the said election was, as a matter both of fact and law, annulled by a Decree of the Federal Military Government (FMG) Decree No. 61 of 1993. The binding force, or rather the supremacy, of Decrees of the FMG has a history which is appropriate to recall here. The issue of the binding force or supremacy of Decrees was settled with finality 48 years ago by the Federal Military Government (Supremacy and Enforcement of Powers) Decree 1970 re-enacted by Decree 13 of 1984 made by Gen Buhari as the then Head of the FMG. (He, Gen Buhari, enacted 37 Decrees during his one year rule in 1984 as Head of the FMG). Even the 1999 Constitution from which he derives his authority as President to make the June 6 Declaration is the product of a Decree, Decree 24 of 1999 to which that Constitution is scheduled. The 1999 Constitution itself, in its section 315(4)(d), recognises the annulment Decree 61 of 1993 as an existing law. So President Buhari has no moral right or justification to disregard or disdain Decree 61 of 1993 or to do things as please him, as if that law does not exist.

Nigeria is or is supposed to be a law-governed state, a state of law where the Rule of Law reigns and governs not only the lives and affairs of people in society, but also the actions of government. It is an axiomatic principle, accepted nearly by all, that democracy cannot meaningfully exist or function without the Rule of Law any more than it can meaningfully exist or function without Justice. Nigeria itself cannot exist without the Rule of Law – and Justice too.

Of the two cardinal principles of governance, the Rule of Law is more fundamental and overriding, since the Justice talked about is justice according to law. The alternative to the Rule of Law is anarchy and the ruin of communal life. Respect for the Rule of Law must not therefore be sacrificed to the need for Justice. We must strive to pursue and maintain both subject to the more overriding demands of the Rule of Law.

Nigeria, our dear country, should not be turned into a state where the President can, in his unfettered whim, set aside the law or do things contrary to the law; his June 6 2018 Declaration clearly affronts the law. The annulment of the June 12 1993 election is admittedly loathesome to millions of Nigerians because of its injustice, inhumanity and its culmination in the sad death of its presumed winner, Chief Abiola; its error has been acknowledged and duly apologised for by its author, Gen Babangida. The annulment should therefore be set aside, but that should be done in due form of law, i.e. in a manner required by law, meaning by an Act of the National Assembly, not by the President’s unilateral Declaration unbacked by an enabling law. The process of getting an enabling law enacted may take more time than is agreeable, but it is better to follow the process dictated by law.

Legal effects of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election by a Decree of the FMG.

The legal effects of nullity are authoritatively stated by Lord Denning in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in an appeal from the West African Court of Appeal in Macfoy v. United Africa Co. Ltd [1961] 3 WLR 1405 at pp. 1409 – 1410:
“If an act is void, then it is in law a nullity. It is not only bad, but incurably bad. There is no need for an order of the Court to set it aside. It is automatically null and void without more ado, though it is sometimes convenient to have the court declare it to be so. And every proceeding which is founded on it is also bad and incurably bad. You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there. It will collapse.” (emphasis supplied).
Lord Denning’s statement of the law on the point was echoed by Oputa JSC in Adejumo v. Ayantegba [1989] 3 NWLR (pt. 110) 417 at p. 451. Said he:
“If a transaction is void, it is in law a nullity, not only bad, but incurably bad and nothing can be founded on it, for having no life of its own, it cannot vivify anything.” (emphasis supplied).
The legal implication is thus that an act or transaction which is a nullity is in law regarded as having no existence or never to have come into existence at all. Both Lord Denning M.R. in Macfoy v. United Africa Co. Ltd [1961] 3 WLR 1409 – 1410 and Oputa JSC in Adejumo v. Ayantegbe [1989] 3 NWLR (Pt 110) 417 at page 451 describe it as amounting to “nothing”. Its non-existence or nothingness arises from operation of law and does not depend on a court’s decision declaring it null and void, which only re-affirms and reinforces its inherent nullity. The dictionary definition is at one with the law on this. Collins English Dictionary defines “nullify”, and “void” as “having no effect or existence”. “Nullity” is defined in New Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language as “nothingness”.

It follows that the annulled June 12 election, deemed in law not to have taken place and to have no existence and therefore to amount to nothing, cannot vivify or give life to anything; June 12 cannot be declared Democracy Day and a public holiday, and Chief Abiola the “presumed” winner of the June 12 election and his running mate, Amb. Kingibe, cannot be awarded the national honour of GCFR and GCON respectively based on their presumed victory in the June 12 election. Both the declaration and the award are illegal, null and void; the annulment Decree, No. 61 of 1993, an existing law under section 315(4)(d) of the 1999 Constitution, must first be repealed – with effect from a date before June 12, 1993 – before the declaration and the award can legally or lawfully be made. The point being made here, and on which we insist, is that, as a country committed to respect for the Rule of Law, the law should be duly followed and not disregarded, as if we are still in a military dictatorship.

Whether the President’s 6th June Declaration does not require, as a condition for its effectiveness, that the results of the June 12 election should have been officially announced and Chief Abiola officially declared its winner

The repeal of the annulment Decree, No. 61 of 1993, does not dispose of all the legal issues arising from President Buhari’s 6th June 2018 momentous Declaration. It is not enough for the purposes of the law to presume Chief Abiola as the winner of the June 12, 1993 election, whatever that means. To presume something means, according to its dictionary definition, to “suppose or believe without examination; to assume beforehand”. The results of the June 12, 1993 election should have been officially announced and Chief Abiola should have been officially declared its winner to form a legally valid basis for the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day to be henceforth observed and celebrated as a public holiday in the country, and before Chief Abiola can be awarded and invested with the national honour of GCFR, the highest honour that is reserved for a President of Nigeria. He cannot be President-elect, which is necessary to qualify him to be so treated, unless the results of the election have been officially announced and he has been officially declared elected.
The law is clear and emphatic on the matter. Section 70 of the Electoral Act in force today (June 11, 2018) provides:
“In an election to the office of the President or Governor whether or not contested and in any contested election to any other elective office, the result shall be ascertained by counting the votes cast for each candidate and [the candidate that satisfied] the provisions of sections 133, 134 and 179 of the Constitution……..shall be _declared_ elected by the appropriate Returning Officer”;
The word “declared” is italicized to emphasise that a candidate “deemed duly elected” under section 179 of the Constitution must formally be “declared elected by the appropriate returning officer” under section 70 of the Act.

The National Assembly has proposed that the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) should now formally announce the results of the June 12 1993 election and declare Chief Abiola its winner. This proposal raises the question whether INEC, constituted under the 1999 Constitution (section 153), has the competence to announce the results of an election that took place 25 years ago, and declare a candidate under it the winner, so as to constitute him President-elect. The power of INEC, as conferred on it by paragraph 15 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution, is power, among other things, “to organise, undertake and supervise” presidential and other listed elections. By its terms, the power is power to organize, undertake and supervise elections in the present and in the future; it does not authorize or enable the Commission to do anything in relation to an election that took place in the past – 25 years ago – and organized and conducted by a differently constituted Electoral Commission. It may be that under the residual clause of paragraph 15 above authorizing INEC to “carry out such other functions as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly”, the Assembly may make a law enabling INEC in the behalf. Even so, the problem will still remain as to how the provision of section 70 of the Electoral Act is to be complied with, having regard to the specificity of the words “shall be declared elected by the appropriate Returning Officer”; the reference is to the particular returning officer involved in or who took part in the conduct of the particular election.

President Buhari’s 6th June 2018 Declaration disdains the law of the land in other respects. The sacroscanctity and supremacy of the Rule of Law, as a principle in the government of society, need to be reiterated. Although not expressly enshrined by name in our Constitution, as is done in some of the modern constitutions in the world, like the Constitutions of Romania and Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, all three adopted in 1991 after the collapse of communism in the 1989 – 90 world-wide democratic revolution, the Rule of Law is embodied and incorporated in our Constitution as an inarticulate major premise, to borrow the pithy phrase of the great Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes of the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, the supremacy of the Constitution, as provided in its section 1(1), enures, by extension, to the Rule of Law, as incorporated in it as an inarticulate major premise, overriding any action or declaration of government that is inconsistent with the principle: section 1(3).

The question again arises whether the posthumous awards of the national honours of GCFR and GCON to Chief Abiola and Chief Fawehinmi respectively accord or are consistent with the law of the land – National Honours Act. The Act does not, by its express provisions, authorize posthumous awards, nor do those provisions give any indication that they contemplate posthumous awards. The indication is indeed to the contrary; it (the indication) comes from the provision that “a person”, meaning a living, not a dead person, “shall not be eligible for appointment to any rank of an Order unless he is a citizen of Nigeria”, and that “a person shall be appointed to a particular rank of an Order when he receives from the President in person at an investiture held for the purpose (a) the insignia appropriate for that rank; and (b) an instrument under the hand of the President and the public seal of the Federation declaring him to be appointed to that rank”.
The words “when he receives from the President in person” exclude posthumous awards, a view that derives support from the fact that no posthumous award had ever been made in the past to any one before the awards to Chief Abiola and Chief Fawehinmi. There is, however, a provision in the Act that seems to give a lot of leeway to the President. It says : “The President may, by warrant, make provision for the award of titles of honour, decorations and dignities”. It may be that posthumous awards are not authorized by the Act as a matter of policy decision. If so the Act needs to be amended to change the policy.

President Buhari could not have been more disdainful, and more careless, he could not have made a greater mockery, of the Rule of Law than by his announcement on June 6, 2018 of the decision of the Federal Government that “henceforth June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day”, knowing, as he well does, that May 29 is enacted by law, the Public Holidays Act, as Democracy Day, and that that could not be changed to June 12, except by amendment of the Act, not by mere presidential Declaration; and that his wishes, intentions and whims, however pure and benevolent, are not law, as in the days of the absolutist military dictatorship when laws could be made simply by word of mouth, later to be put in written form by Decree or Edict. It is incredible that, knowing all this but still believing himself to be an absolute ruler, he went ahead to organize the farce of commemoration ceremony on June 12 at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa. His perception of himself as absolute ruler is antithetical to constitutional democracy, and constitutes a danger to the country. He should be made to shed that perception of himself.

Culled from The Cable, June 15, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized

Fighting “kwarapshan” with style – this is how we roll – Buhari’s allegiances as always negotiable and corruptible…. . .. Now this is a punch to the belly…

Excerpted from the Punch

Punch EDITORIAL
Buhari’s scandalous recall of NHIS boss

IN a baffling move, President Muhammadu Buhari demonstrated clannishness and lack of respect for procedure once more by reinstating the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf. Yusuf was suspended in July 2017 following serious allegations of corruption reported to the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, and is being investigated by both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission. The premature recall sits uneasily with Buhari’s commitment to openness and transparency.

Yusuf, who was appointed in 2016, allegedly cornered N919 million, being part of the contributions of the subscribers to the scheme. He claimed that some of the amount was expended on the training of the NHIS staff. He allegedly bought a Sport Utility Vehicle for N58 million, approved contracts worth about N1 billion for his cronies and filled the organisation with his relatives. The Senate also accused Yusuf of “corrupt expenditure of N292 million…without recourse to any appropriate approving authority.” Rightly, Adewole suspended him from his duty post, and empanelled a committee to investigate him, which is in accordance with extant Federal Civil Service rules.

However, claiming that the minister had no power to suspend him, Yusuf said in his response: “With due respect, sir, I am unable to comply with your directive.” He claimed that only the President had the power to suspend or sack him. But the Health Ministry insisted that the NHIS is an agency under its supervision and reaffirmed Yusuf’s suspension from office. But Yusuf refused to appear before the committee set up to investigate him. The ministerial committee’s report on the case was reportedly submitted to Buhari last September.

Instructively, both the EFCC and ICPC stepped into Yusuf’s case. But rather than follow due process, Buhari, through a letter from his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, reinstated Yusuf. According to a report, the President informed the minister of Yusuf’s recall, adding that he (Yusuf) had been “admonished to work harmoniously with the minister.” The minister has reportedly confirmed Yusuf’s recall: “Yes, what you have heard is true.”

The recall is shocking and outrageous, squared and cubed. It has, once again, revealed Buhari’s true colours. Unfamiliar with the nuances of modern governance and insular to the point of self-entrapment in primitive provincialism, he does not give a hoot about the consequences of some of his missteps. The to-hell-with-you attitude that played out in his notorious admonition to survivors of Fulani herdsmen massacres in Benue State to “learn to accommodate” their tormentors is on display here again in the memo asking Yusuf to “work harmoniously with the minister.”

The incident raises larger questions about Buhari’s stand on corruption and discipline: is this how to fight corruption? Is this good governance in the face of so much moral rot in the land, which Buhari vowed to fight if he was elected? Corruption is defined most comprehensively by Transparency International as an abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Have both the EFCC and the ICPC cleared Yusuf of corruption allegations? Even if they did, should the decision and memo for his recall come from the Presidency or from the supervising ministry that suspended him, in the first instance? The recall is a slap in the face for the minister. This is unequivocally awful. Henceforth, any official with connections to the “right” ethnic group or to the Presidency may feel emboldened to break the rules and defy ministerial oversight.

No doubt, this executive recklessness has left an indelible stain on Buhari’s increasingly tainted administration. Allegations that the war is selective and vindictive are gaining traction by the day. It is disconcerting to watch how this government has been lurching from shambles to debacle. Indeed, the unfolding scandals involving Abdulrasheed Maina, and the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, as well as the intrigues of the Attorney-General, some security chiefs and aides have tarnished Buhari’s once sparkling image.

All things considered, the government has acted irresponsibly: instead of raising the bar to reach for global best practices, the Presidency has descended to a primitive form of arbitrary governance. The promise of change from the culture of graft and abuse of due process of the Goodluck Jonathan era has dissolved into a cauldron of incompetence and exclusivity. The recklessness and impunity by the Buhari government is quite troubling. Where the interests of the commonwealth matter and standards of public service transcend greed, the parliament would have been up-in-arms; alas, the House of Representatives, impetuous and retrogressive as ever, had earlier weighed in on the side of a public official facing corruption allegations.

This disturbing trend in Buhari’s administration has to end. His provincial approach to governance is corroding the fabric of the union; he should step back and run a more inclusive and responsive government. Yusuf has no business at the NHIS until he has been cleared of all allegations by the ministerial probe panel and the anti-graft agencies. Institutions should be allowed to work free of interference; they should not be undermined by whimsical presidential indiscretions.

Buhari should reverse himself and allow due process to run its course. As for Adewole, he should make his case and politely request that Buhari rescind this untidy recall. When the man who calls you up for national service begins to undermine you, it may be the best time to quit with your integrity intact.

Posted in Uncategorized

Nepotism Smelling All Over Nigeria
===========================
“Words of Dr. Junaid Mohammed a northern ethno-religious irredentist.
“Let me say straight away that whether one calls it a cabal or a mafia or power within the presidency under Buhari, whatever you say it is; it is, and a lot worse. First, the most influential person in the presidency today is one Mamman Daura whom as you know, is a nephew of the president. His father was Buhari’s elder brother. In addition, Mamman Daura was the one who single-handedly brought up Abba Kyari, the current chief of staff to the president. In fact, Abba Kyari knows Mamman Daura more than he knows his own father.
“Next, the personal assistant to Buhari himself is the son of Mamman Daura, next is the State Chief of Protocol (SCOP), and is also a son-in-law to Mamman Daura because he is married to Mamman Daura’s daughter. Next, the minister they unilaterally chose, against the interest of the party and against the wishes of Sokoto people, happens to be the daughter of the younger sister of Mamman Daura’s wife. Both of them are daughters of Sultan Dasuki, who was sacked by General Abacha. We have the aide-de-camp to Buhari himself, Colonel Abubakar. He is married to the granddaughter of one of Buhari’s elder sisters. Next we have the woman who represents Kaduna in the Federal Executive Council, she is a cousin to Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai. It is a well known that el-Rufai is one of the closest governors to Muhammadu Buhari.
“Next, we have the Minister for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The Minister of the FCT is the man called Musa Bello, who used to be the Managing Director of the Northern Nigeria Development Corporation, which used to be the biggest holding company that belonged to all the northern states. His only qualification to be the FCT minister is the fact that his father has been Buhari’s friend over the years. Now, there is a young man called Sabiu Yusuf, nicknamed Tunde – probably because of the late General Tunde Idiagbon. He is another PA to President Buhari. He is also a grandson of another sister of Buhari.
“This is enough to prove to you that this is shamelessly the worst form of nepotism in the history of government in Nigeria. In fact, in the history of Africa, let me make bold to assert that I have never seen any level of nepotism that has equalled or surpassed this in my entire life – I am now in my 67th year. Another thing I also want you to know is that Amina Zakari, who was and is still a national commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission representing the entire seven states in the North-west; it is being claimed that Buhari knows nothing about her appointment (before he became the president), it is a lie.
“When President Goodluck Jonathan was reorganising INEC and he was bringing in Prof. Attahiru Jega, he reached out to Buhari and asked him to nominate somebody from the North-west so that, that person would be a national commissioner. Of all the people in the North-west, Buhari decided to nominate his own niece, the daughter of his elder sister – Amina Zakari. She has been there; when Jega left, Buhari was determined to make her the chairman, it was because of the massive backlash that he dropped the idea like hot potatoes. As we are talking today, that woman is a national commissioner which means she is one of the principal members of the election umpire.
“Throughout my reading of history, political science and social sciences generally, I have never heard of any dictator or any tyrant under any system of government whether totalitarian or fascist, appointing his own niece to conduct elections in which he was either a party or going to be a party to; Buhari has done that. The immediate younger brother to Amina Zakari is currently the Minister for Water Resources representing Jigawa State in the same Buhari government. In addition, even though they are from Kazaure, Kazaure is contiguous to Daura. The eldest sister of both of them is now the Commissioner for Education in the All Progressives Congress government in Jigawa State. If this is not nepotism, then I don’t know what nepotism is. For somebody who had the guts and the brutal arrogance to appoint these relations, not bothered about public opinion, about the sense of justice, and about competence, then you can see that he has a very serious question to answer.”
SHARED AS RECEIVED I

Posted in Uncategorized

Make we Patience with Sai Baba

The Unprecedented Level of Patience Shown to Buhari—the ECONOMIST

Nigerians have never shown such level of patience and tolerance towards any of their past leaders for his record and strange policies as that shown to their current leader, Muhammadu Buhari – a former military dictator now self-confessed democrat who said he came to fight corruption.

Buhari, 75, is being plagued with failures across every single sector in the economy, the like as has never been seen before. Less than a year into office, the economy plummeted into recession, an economy which had till then grown at an average rate of 7% in previous years (2011-2014). The nation’s currency lost 70% of its value, unemployment rose from 6.5 to 26%, commodity prices tripled across many quarters and the state-regulated premium motor spirit prices were hiked by 67% without practically anybody batting an eye.

There have been stern opposition to his policies however and to his very personality as well, notably in the South East and South- South regions in the country as they are called, where he both received less than 5% of the votes cast at the last Presidential election and where he has always been sternly unpopular for his history of bigotry against the people, perceived incompetence and dictatorial tendencies. But in many other regions across the country the people have rather resolved to suffer patiently, drawing up excuses for him at will, blaming everyone including his hundreds of political appointees, anything and anybody but never the man himself.

Buhari’s party, the APC, promised Nigerians unprecedented swiping changes in government and the eviction of all corrupt individuals.
One possible explanation for this could be his party’s hope narrative in the 2015 General election where citizens were promised an unprecedented crackdown on corruption and the abolition of all government waste by a man whose financial worth they declared to have been less than N30million ($150,000 then), a historical low for a former top official in the country and most especially a former leader.

In a country plagued by acute corruption problems and with the unremitted crude oil revenue scandal of 2014 still fresh in the people’s minds, many were eager for an abrupt change, the like as never been seen before. He was seen an army general, already experienced in government, with a great strength of will, tough to take on the nation’s cabal of hardened criminals. He promised to appoint only technocrats to head the country’s departments and to see out the lingering Boko Haram insurgency from the warfront. For a nation lacking basic amenities such as power supply in spite of its huge energy resources and with the lingering insurgency crises, the choice seemed easy to many- the general with integrity was the man for the country.

Talk was cheap then but now reality has taken its course. His earliest opponents pointed out to his track record and not to his speech, noting that the last time Nigeria fell into dismal failure, currency woes and commodity shortages was when he had seized power as a military general in 1983 and stating that the facts of that record contradicted the poems of his image brokers.

Many however just wanted “change” as it was then called and so voted the General and sat to wait for the sung promises. But from the onset of his government, the course was as his critics had predefined: Incompetency, bigotry and dictatorial tendencies plaguing the country.

He ignored the newly born genocide in the middle belt of the country perpetuated by the Fulani herdsmen of his kindred against the Christian communities in Benue, Plateau and later on Kaduna. He breached the Central Bank’s 2007 Act of Independence, telling it to suspend forex disbursements to steel importers and other manufacturing sectors in a bid to defend the Naira, a disastrous action which kick-started a spiral of recession.

He took 3 months to appoint his Chief of Staff, 6 months to appoint a cabinet and now 23 months and yet counting to appoint heads of agencies and board members he was so eager to fire upon his assumption into office and rose import duties on the most basic of commodities in a bid to raise government revenue.

And as for the corruption fight, the facts on ground do not show any one at all. Apart from a few officials harassed or imprisoned without court order, the country is yet to witness the first victim of the said campaign at the court stands.

Government waste is on the rise, officials publicly caught in graft acts were swiftly excused, the 2016 Budget year passed without implementation and most worrisome, the Central Bank’s foreign reserves were being shared among unknown Bureau De Change operators at variable rates at the detriment of critical manufacturing, business and banking sectors.

The government continues to praise itself but the people seem to be increasingly tired of the paraded self-righteousness. The President’s recent illness was greeted with cheers by many. Many are just tired of the government. But the remarkable level of patience shown so far has been unprecedented and many a times the general reactions towards acts of constitutional violations was one of calmness or insensitivity.

If the Change narrative of the 2015 election and the songs of man of integrity are to account for this, then Nigerians may have just certified themselves on the world map as a nation easy to fool with propaganda. An adult should be judged on his track record not on his tongue.

Culled from The Economist

Posted in Politics, Prose

Drawing Lines in the Sands of Time

By

Noel Ihebuzor

One hears a lot of things these days. But one has learnt never to believe most of them as we are now in a time of easy retractions and of claims of either being misunderstood, being misquoted or being quoted out of context. Shehu Garba and Femi Adesina, both presidential spokespersons, have now become experts in such methods of denial.  But wilI their skills stop speakers from speaking and hearers from hearing what was said at those increasingly frequent moments when the mouth appears to run ahead of and faster the brain?  “Mouth run” is a hazard and the best cure for it is a padlock but such a solution is painful and also violates a fundamental human right.

I hear the General has now decreed, yes, decreed that the probes into corruption in Nigeria will now be limited to the period when President Jonathan was in power. Femi Adesina has come forward to defend and justify this cut-off line that his principal has now drawn in the sands of Nigerian time. Note that this new cut-off line represents a departure from earlier indications that the period of “PDP misrule” (1999-2015) was going to come under serious probe.

The first question then is – what really prompted this departure? Logistics, fear of OBJ, fear of offending northern sensitivities by any focus on the short period of the Yar’Adua presidency? Nigerians are no fools and can read beyond the lines.  And lines that are purposefully drawn to include some and to exclude others represent the worst forms of arbitrariness and dishonesty, both of which have no place in good governance.

The second question is why the narrow focus? There are myriads of corruption allegations all over Nigeria starting from accusations of a $2.8 billion scam, to outright screaming headlines of an alleged heist by Halliburton that are yet to be closed out. Allegations such as these merit the attention of anybody genuinely interested in fighting corruption.

The third question is this – why this exclusive focus on the federal level? Are we suggesting that crooked deals at the state and LGA levels are unworthy of attention and prosecution?

The fight against corruption is not one of “pick and choose”. A selective approach calls into question the ultimate intentions of persons posing as anti-corruption crusaders. It exposes them to legitimate accusations of witch hunting and of attempting to use state powers in the pursuit of personal vendettas. It is worth reminding ourselves that whenever the instruments of state power are hijacked for personal pursuits, we are dealing with a case of abuse of power, and abuse of power is also a form of corruption. Let those who are drawing lines in the sands of time note that line drawings driven by vendetta and spite will eventually turn around and catch the same drawers. Finally, credibility is a requisite attribute of all who must fight corruption. Acts by corruption fighters that undermine this credibility will eventually sink the anti-corruption crusader.