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South East: Why Tinubu must reject Asari’s pact with Buhari

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Muhammadu Buhari hates Ndigbo. Buhari, until May 29, this year, Nigeria’s President for eight years from May 29, 2015, never made any bones about it nor had apologies to anybody. It was obvious that his sentiments were deap-seated. It must have been an offshoot of what Femi Fani-Kayode once described in one of his outings, some years back.

The former Minister of Aviation, in a video of his encounter with the former President, narrated how he swore never to forgive Ndigbo, because, as he said, “they killed our leaders.” He was obviously referring to the January 15 coup that claimed the lives of former Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, Sarduana of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello and some other leaders in the putsch that was allegedly led by the late Colonel Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu.

Despite that the North had had ample opportunities to retaliate at various times, first with the counter-coup of September 29 of the same year, the pogrom that followed the civil war, where about three million Igbo were slaughtered and others allowed to die in hunger and disease, as well as the various riots that had taken place in their region, subsequently, Buhari, who was actually one of the soldiers, who was used to vent the anger of his people in retaliation, as a civil war veteran, seems not assuaged.

It was evident in his eight years in office, where the Igbo was handed the short end of the stick. In fact, that an Igbo man did not become President in 2023, was the high-point of his agenda for Ndigbo. Indeed, it would have been as tasking as moving Mount Kilimanjaro with bare hands for an Igbo man to have replaced Buhari. There was no way it would have been possible before his very eyes.

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It would have defeated the essence of what he lived for in his entire adult life. So, whatever happened to Peter Obi, who evidently won that election, had the imprimatur of Buhari, than it had to do with Yakubu Mahmood and his Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) or the All Progressives Congress (APC) thugs in Lagos or ex-Governor Nyesom Wike’s arrangement for policemen to move ballot boxes in Rivers. Without Buhari’s malevolent attitude to Ndigbo, things would obviously have turned out differently.

But nowhere else, was Buhari’s sentiments for the Igbo more demonstrable than in his handling of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) saga. That was where he demonstrated the rare quality of a quintessential soldier and a strategist. His trapping and abduction of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the group, is one that needed the release of several cannons to celebrate his deep thinking and prowess as a soldier.

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Many people must have been wondering how he achieved the feat. But the answer to the jigsaw puzzle did not come until recent unfolding events. The recent unravelling of Muhajideen Dokubo Asari and the revelations he made, has led to what seems a watertight theory that could only be defeated by a more concrete contrary evidence. It is to the effect that the leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), played a key role in this.

Recall that Kanu once teamed up with the NDVF boss for the IPOB self-determination project. This was the time Asari swore to the world that he was first Igbo before anything including Ijaw. What is not known is whether it was a decoy to worm himself to Kanu or that his sentiments were actually genuine until he was reached to sell out. What is known is that the pact between the two eventually broke down with each one vowing to get the other. Recall how Kanu, revealed that he gave the Niger Delta militant a whopping N100million for his efforts, which he blew, before turning against the IPOB project.

But even with the breaking of the relationship, it was too late. Enough damage had been done to enable Kanu to insulate himself completely. For one, he must have disclosed the inner secrets of IPOB and by their association, Asari, must have gotten enough knowledge of some key figures close to Kau, no doubt, Simon Ekpa, an indigene of Ebony State, an APC state. All he needed was to identify those pliable ones willing to play ball and with the dangling of bundles of dollar notes, which must have had in abundance from his sponsors, it was easy to squeal on the target.

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Thus, with a well hatched plot, the IPOB boss was finally trapped in Kenya, and delivered to the waiting hands of the Buhari men. Of course the reward of good work is more work, as they say. Having delivered very well, it was time to move further – the total annihilation of the true IPOB set up by Kanu. With the IPOB boss now firmly out of circulation, it was easy.

The only way to do this, following the huge support the group enjoyed in the South East was to give it a bad name. This was where Ekpa came in. As a trusted ally to Kanu, whom he had ordered IPOB faithful to listen to, he was clearly fit for purpose for the task. So, while Asari had the gun, Ekpa had his phone camera to record propaganda messages.

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It was a tripartite arrangement. Ekpa churns out sit-at-home order, Asari’s men enforce it and the sponsors trumpeting the message that Ndigbo are killing themselves. Thus, nobody would ever hear that while the attacks – carnages unleashed on the citizens, burning local government headquarters, INEC offices, police facilities, be it the zone 13 headquarters of Ukpo, Anambra State, or Imo State Police headquarters in Owerri or any other related crimes, the perpetrators were ever rounded up on the spot.

The nearest anyone would hear or see are either videos of people “confessing” or dead bodies of those killed during “raids.” End of the matter. Nobody ever witnessed a court session where IPOB members allegedly captured in operation are put on trial in a regular law court and evidence adduced to him to elicit clear punishment under the rule of law.

Now, having worked effectively with Buhari, as he himself confessed, he seemed to have turned to Tinubu, apparently to negotiate a new contract or perhaps, extend the preceding one. There is no doubt that this is all his recent outings are for. Of course, he makes no bones about his relationship with President Bola Tinubu, Buhari’s successor. He has already visited the President at the Villa to underscore this and even used the platform, with the Nigerian Coat of Arm embossed on his seat to make his pitch.

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For instance, apart from discrediting the Nigerian military and boasting of how his own men whom he recruited to work in parts of the country actually did the job of degrading in the onslaught of insurgents in his areas of duty, he had also made videos depicting him as ready to work with the President in further punishing the Igbo, his supposed current enemy.

After making a video a few weeks back, brandishing his latest weapons and practically threatening the Igbo, his latest move was to showcase his men he had not only trained to defend the President, but crush his enemies, which are no doubt the Igbo. Not surprising, in another video, he had also warned that Kanu must never be released, while urging that the Igbo should be left alone to “kill themselves!” How convenient!

Of course, the reason for demanding that Kanu should not be released, ought not surprise anyone. With the arrangement he probably has with Ekpa, Kanu’s release would definitely destroy his pot of soup. In a state of flux that he has created, the words of Emma Powerful, the official voice of the Kanu IPOB, since recognised its spokesman, no longer counts. Even when the IPOB spokesman, gives the official position that the group did not order the evil sit-at-home, it is easily ignored because Ekpa’s own version would come with power of cohesion through the guns.

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Daily, the IPOB authentic IPOB, has laboured together with Kanu to give the correct picture that they are either responsible or in support of the onslaught against the Igbo people in their name, all to no avail. The latest is the handwritten letter, unveiled on Friday, July 28, where the IPOB boss in his own handwriting ordered the stop of the sit-at-home. That too is discountenanced by Ekpa and his group, who brushed it aside and released another sit-at-home order for two weeks, which, of course he is sure would be observed because his enforcers would be prowling around during the period.

Now, would Tinubu nibble at the bait or even swallow it? That is the question. It would be the greatest tragedy if he does, because the result would be quite grave. In the first place, outside politics and the need to preserve himself in power, the President, does not seem to have any primordial beef with Ndigbo, unlike Buhari.

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So, it would be suicidal on many grounds for him to toe the step of his predecessor or follow his route. For one, it would effectively put paid to his touted political wizardry and deep thinking capacity, because there is really nothing to gain, but accumulation of more evil baggage, as has been shown in Buhari’s own case of leaving office in infamy, having left the business of governance to settle scores with real and imaginary enemies.

Has the Fulani hegemony he spent his eight years trying to enthrone in Nigeria succeeded? Instead, despite the huge credit he came into office with as Nigeria’s messiah, he left with the unenviable trophy of the worst President Nigeria has ever seen, with even his people his government was all about, badly hit to the extent that speculations are rife that he has been confined to constantly looking behind his back today even among his people. How sad!

While Buhari, for the already established reasons, would not mind the pool of blood of Ndigbo following him to Daura, his home town or even Niger, his alternative home, Tinubu would have a lot to contend with should he allow himself to be hoodwinked into the thinking that the Igbo are such an enemy that must equally pay with their blood. For one, who already has a lot of baggage, the outcome will not only be grave, but fatal.

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Editorial

Who will save Nigeria from NNPC?

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On August 18, 2013, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as he then was, gave a very pungent treatise to a group of Nigerian youths, in Abuja. He was the guest speaker at another edition of TEDx Youth, a grassroots initiative that encourages young people to harvest, grow and nurture new ideas.

It was while engaging those youths through a speech he entitled Overcoming the Fear of Vested Interests that he delved into an issue that is as germane as it is critical to the development of Nigeria or lack of it for many decades now – oil. The black gold has remained a source of huge blessings to many other countries across the globe where it was ever struck.

Sanusi, now the 16th Emir of Kano, spoke about the evil of the massive corruption in the system and how the vice grip of the perpetrators, whom he aptly described as vested interests, through their manipulative hands, have mindlessly, but persistently squeezed the very life out of the country and the people.

Hear him: “We talk about fuel subsidy. In 2009, this country paid N291billion as subsidy for petroleum products. By 2011, this number had jumped to N2.7trillion. Did we start consuming 10 times as much petrol? Did we have 10 times as many cars? Did the population of Nigeria multiply 10 times? I did not believe those numbers. I screamed against those numbers, a number of people screamed and of course we tried to remove subsidy, and there was Occupy Nigeria (protest).

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“There had been investigations and what did we discover? That a lot of that money never went to fuel subsidies that were consumed by Nigerians. There were people in this country that produced pieces of paper and brought to the PPRA and somebody stamped those pieces of papers and said that they brought in petroleum products and paid them subsidy. Those pieces of paper said I brought 30,000 metric tonnes on so, so ship and we discovered that that ship was nowhere near the coast of Nigeria on that date. We had seen vessels that did not exist or were retired on bills laden and money had been paid. And you know what, as I speak to you, none of them has gone to jail.

“This is the only country in the world where you have something called oil theft, where vessels come and take crude oil and literally drive out of the country. You see the numbers everyday – 100,000, 200,000, 400,000 barrels a day. Nobody even knows – N7.3billion! How does anybody take oil in a vessel and leave the country? We’ve got the Navy, we’ve got NIMASA, we’ve got security services, we’ve got oil companies themselves and everyday, we complain about development. We don’t have development, because vested interests continue to rape and take the money out.”

Now, that was in 2013 – some 11 years ago. Ask what the situation today? Simple! Those vested interests have since upped the ante. In 2023, the same subsidy climbed to between N3.7trillion to about N4trillion under President Muhammadu Buhari. Instructively, this was the selfsame Buhari, who prior to his assumption of power in 2015, had declared that there was nothing called subsidy.

In recent days, Nigeria has again been beset with another round of long queues at petrol stations due to scarcity. This is despite the last ditch effort to end it by the Nigerian government. On May, 29, 2023, President Bola Tinubu, in his infamous statement – subsidy is gone – announced to the whole world the end of the subsidy regime in Nigeria. This was before the ink with which he signed his inauguration papers as the new helmsman of Nigeria got dry. It was said to be a move to end the decades-old orgy and introduce a new lease of life to the Nigerian economy and to the people.

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Pray, how far did that abrupt, and as many had also argued, hasty declaration take the country or redeem the parlous situation? Part of the answer lies in a memo by Wale Edun, Minister of Finance, suggesting that Federal Government could spend as much as N5.4trillion for the same purpose in 2024. Edun’s memo, tagged: Accelerated Stabilisation and Advancement Plan, which broke into the public domain on June 5, 2023, not only confirmed what Nigerians had believed that subsidy was not gone as Tinubu declared but, had in fact, worsened.

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As it is wont for the government, always pushing back against issues, including those that are obvious to the goat and hen, the Presidency, through Bayo Onanuga, Tinubu’s spokesman, in a frenzied reaction denied the development, insisting that Nigeria had indeed, ended the subsidy regime.

But a recourse to Edun, would clearly contradict the assertion and strengthen the basis for not only the continuation of the subsidy, but the huge figure attached to it, as he explained that it was one of the bold steps to up the purchasing power of Nigerians and to tackle inflation.

“Fuel subsidy: At current rates, expenditure on fuel subsidy is projected to reach N5.4 trillion by the end of 2024, This compares unfavourably with N3.6tn in 2023 and N2.0tn in 2022. The amount represents an average of N450bn monthly subsidy bill,” the memo, specifically said.

But why subsidy? The answer is not farfetched. Nigeria has continued to import petroleum products, despite being a major crude oil producer and having four mega refineries, which put in operation anyday, would end the parlous story. The next natural question, would then be, why are the refineries not working? That is where Nigerians and the entire sane global audience remain lost.

However, all fingers are pointing in one direction as the main culprit – the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL). That this entity, is aptly dubbed as the warehouse of corruption in Nigeria, is not out of conjecture or empty talk. Picture this. A peep into the books of the body, before it transmuted from a government entity to a public firm, showed that the Kaduna, Port-Harcourt and Warri refinery companies spent the sum of N127.326 billion on salaries, wages and employees benefits between 2020 and 2021, without a drop of petroleum products coming out of their pipes.

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In which other country of the world could such a sordid and utterly outlandish tale be told apart from Nigeria? Of course, discerning people ought to believe that things would change with the new status of the entity. Nada! Between then and now, nothing else has been said about the situation. Workers in the refineries have continued to draw their salaries, have continued to travel abroad at dollar expenses for “training,” as well as enjoying other mouth-watering allowances.

Were that to be the end of the ugly tale, there would have been less tears in the country. Instead the sad narrative lies more in the outright plundering, mindless stealing and the brazen nature of it all. Each day, as they up the ante, the obtuse tales coming from within seem to widen, the impunity seems to grow and the audacity ostensibly develops fresh impetus, all geared towards one direction – money and more money.

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Hear the song of lamentations from Nnaemeka Obiaraeri, renowned Development Economist and investment expert as he tries to captures the the picture, recently: “NNPC is alleged to be owing $6billion unpaid bills on PMS importation to the suppliers of the products. This is very shocking. In January, February, there was a report allegedly credited to NNPC, which claimed that they spent $2.1billion importing 2.7 million tonnes of PMS, which is 3.78billion litres for 69 days consumption, which simply means we consume 61 million litres a day in Nigeria.

“We know that this is not true. Empirical records disprove this. It is a very funny place. This country seems to be at a place where we can call it irredeemable because those who purport to lead us from Aso Rock to the 36 states to the National Assembly, deliberately, for whatever reason, don’t care, no empathy, no compassion – they are so brazen about their insensitivity to the plights of Nigerians.

“Between 1999 and 2007 under (Olusegun) Obasanjo, when we had a massive middle class population of four million people who were earning between $30,000 to $170,000 a year, at a time when we had high purchasing power, when we had GDP per capita of $2,600, Nigeria was not consuming more than 28 million litres of PMS a day. This madness started under Diezani and Jonathan and under Buhari, it snowballed at such atrocious, monstrous proportion.

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“The DPR, this is under the current NMDPRA, in February 2022, told us that what we consume is actually 38 million litres, which some us argue is still very high, because there is no way anybody can convince me based on empirical evidences that Nigeria consumes more than 32-33 million litres of PMS everyday. But here we are, in 59 days, the guys at NNPC are telling us that we consume 69 million litres, when they told us in July, August, 2023 when Mr. President announced the removal of fuel subsidy that consumption has come down to 40 million litres.

“Yet, nobody is asking them questions. No forensic investigation is conducted. The level of level of corruption, the level of sleaze, the level of opacity, the level of brazenness and impunity at the commanding height of our oil and gas industry leadership position is something that defies explanation. It defies logic. In 2021, the current GMD told us that they are going to spend $1.5billion to fix Port Harcourt Refinery and another something billion to fix Warri and they said by June 2023, it would be commissioned. By December 2022, they told us it was technically completed. June 2023 came and passed, nothing. They shifted it to December 2023, it came, nothing. They moved it to March 2024, March 2024 came, still nothing. Now, they’ve kicked the can down the road and people are still keeping their jobs.

“Yet, we have a President and Commander-in-Chief! This is madness! Now we’re being told that they’re owing $6billion. Crude oil output, we budgeted 1.8 million barrels per day, today, we’re not doing up to 2.4-2.3 million and people are still keeping their jobs. A the NNPC, at the NMDPRA, people are still keeping their jobs.

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“Nobody has been sacked, nobody has been queried, nobody has been interrogated. Our crude oil is being looted like sweet. Inefficiency is everywhere, corruption is walking on four legs. “I feel sorry for Nigerians. We have been totally captured, totally emasculated. I’ve never seen this kind of thing before. Is it a spell?”

What Obiaraeri’s bewailing did not capture, was the latest drama involving Dangote Refineries that every Nigerian had hoped would come to the rescue. The 650,000 barrel a day capacity facility is now crying and running from pillar to post, because it cannot get crude from Nigeria and has to resort to importation. Guess the culprit? NNPC of course!

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Yes, the selfsame entity has become the dog in the manger, which will neither eat nor allow other dogs the chance to eat. Again, even an imbecile could guess the reason for this. The same vested interests, who are at work, to ensure that the government refineries which have been comatose for decades despite the huge amounts continuously sunk to revive them, have also turned their attention to the private initiative.

Why? Why not? The coming of Dangote is an effective way of seizing their feeding bottle and ending their daily pillaging of the commonwealth through all manners of wacky stories. Recall how Aliko Dangote, President of the conglomerate, told the world that a global cabal had made it impossible for any African country to build a refinery in the last 35 years. Of course, he sees the same hand in the current woes besetting his own project.

Now, is it not strange that Tinubu, who was quick to announce the removal of subsidy, resulting in the massive socio-economic crisis in the country, seems to have gone mute on the Dangote case? Who knows why? The answer may not be far from the same monsters. Maybe they have found a way to convince him that it is better to keep importing than engaging in local production. After all were they not able to convince Buhari, who was once a Petroleum Minister and Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), that ought to made less than a passenger in the industry?

Interestingly, Ali Ndume, Senator, representing Borno South, while appearing as a guest on Prime Time, a current affairs programme of Arise News Network, has now introduced a new dimension. On Thursday, July 11, he had told his host that Male Kyari the NNPC GMD had actually informed him that the company was using the money saved from the subsidy removal to pay old debts and that remittances could only come to Nigeria, when those debts were fully defrayed.

Yet, this is the same company is being linked to a fresh debt of $6billion. Now, giving this fresh, but disturbing angle, does anyone need be told from the foregoing that NNPC has become a drain pipe – a bottomless pit and an irredeemably bad case? Does anyone need to be told that with the way the company is carrying on with its bazaar on corruption, and with concomitant effects of the endless sleaze that continues to see to the rise of fuel prices, Nigeria is fast approaching the edge of the precipice.

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Why is Tinubu not taking action to prevent this doomsday? Before Thursday’s TV outing, Ndume had warned Nigeria that the President is caged inside the Aso Rock Villa. If so, who will save Nigeria from NNPC?

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Editorial

Wike vs Kingibe: Echoes of Adedibu, Anenih; lessons from Mantu

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“I challenge that legislator. If you are very popular, in 2027 come and run under Abuja, we will fail you. You think what happened the last time will happen again? You think so? It will not happen again. If you’re popular, come and run. Luckily for me, I’m the FCT minister now. so, here is my territory. I’m not afraid.

When Nyesom Wike, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) made the above statement on Monday, July 1, 2024, what followed was outrage from a groundswell of Nigerians. Why? Only the political imbecile would have missed the inherent message.

It was reminiscent of a similar statement made by Vincent Ogbulafor, the late National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in 2008 when it still held sway as the party in power in Nigeria. He had boasted derisively that PDP would be in power for the next 60 years.

Wike came with his version at the inauguration of the construction of Mabushi Bus Terminal, Phase I, in Abuja as a clapback to Ireti Kingibe, the Labour Party (LP) Senator representing the FCT, who had a day before, while appearing on THISDAYLIVE, a programme on Arise News, tacked him, for allegedly not carrying her along in the administration of the territory, as the highest elected officer and political office holder.

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Recall that neither the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party in power at the centre nor the PDP, the party under which Wike had risen to political reckoning secured 25 per cent votes in the February 25, 2023 presidential election.

The LP not only confined them to the electoral dustbin at the Presidency and the Senate, it also cleared all the two other federal seats for the House of Representatives, in the galloping victory. That was what Wike was referring to, vowing that the feat would not repeat under his watch.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, Ogbulafor’s audacious prediction never came to pass. Things happened quickly soon after.  Not only did it not, the former party boss even, lived long enough to see the fatal blow delivered to the PDP. He died on October 6, 2022, 14 years after. By that time, PDP had lost the Presidency in 2015, six years after his boastful talk, through Goodluck Jonathan, who as Vice President, came to power at the death of Umaru Yar’Adua, in 2010, two years after.

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At the time the former PDP boss was making his impudent talk, how was he to know that Yar’Adua, a Northerner would die in office and change the political dynamics of Nigeria so quickly so soon? Had Yar’Adua lived, he could have served out his eight years and ensured he handed over to another PDP President most likely from the South and the relay would continue. But fate came calling.

Because Yar’Adua died and Jonathan completed his term, did another and wanted to go for a second term, the entire North rallied against him. Even the PDP members from the North joined in the grand sabotage to kill that ambition and ensured that power was wrenched off him. That was how the cookie crumbled for the PDP. That was the end of the 60-year arrogant talk.

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Providence? Yes, to those who believe so, God took charge and showed the PDP that like the foolish man in the bible, who thought he had arrived and prepared his soul to make merry, tomorrow did not belong to them and they could not predict its outcome. But assuming God did not intervene and left Nigeria to its design? PDP would probably be in power till now and for the next 60 years and the heavens will not fall.

However, it seemed Wike was not persuaded. His imprudently and impudently passed across on Monday, suggests so. When he dared Kingibe, and her party to come out in 2027 and collect their disgrace at the poll, he was of course, not talking about the normal election that is based on peoples’ power or the power of the thumb. He was boasting of his own kind of election.

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Yes! He was not talking about the type of election that brought in William Ruto in Kenya in 2022 or more recently Bassirou Diomaye Faye in Senegal in March 2024. No, he was talking about the Nigerian variant that produced President Bola Tinubu, in 2023 – that historic event that would go down as one of the worst electoral processes in the country since the return of civilian rule in 1999. More specifically, Wike was talking about the Rivers version of that disgraceful outing where supposed images of ballot box votes were replaced by the bloody faces of participants – of sorrow tears and blood – of a deadly process, where those who dared, paid with their lives.

When he talked about popularity, it was not about being one in accord with the people, but having control over the institutions of  state – Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the police and the courts. He was talking about replacing the results of voting at the polling stations with those cooked in the dingy smoke-filled rooms of government offices by thugs and electoral brigands.

He was talking about crooked university lecturers, applying their intellectual knowhow to compromise the process or looking the other way while the heist went on. He was talking journalists, who in spite of knowing the truth, gleefully quoted figures handed down to them, either out of compromise or because the figures carried the tag – “official.” He was talking about a corrupt judiciary, whose hands would be tied by the lure of office or intimidated to do so by the powers that be, endorsing compromised results.

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Else, what magic would he have done between now and 2027 that would be so effectual as to turn the table so soon and turn the people of the FCT into APC lovers so suddenly in so short a time? How would he make them hate Kingibe and the LP, at a period Nigerians are witnessing the hardest times of their lives, when families, including those under his watch are going to bed on half, if not completely empty stomach? So, his drift is clear. It will be election by other means, the type Fela, the Afrobeat maestro, aptly described as democrazy.

In fact, Wike, may have, by that statement, unwittingly provided the reason for his appointment as the first Minister from the South to man the FCT since 1999. Having done so well in Rivers, he must move to Abuja, to reenact the feat.

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His brief, could be to ensure that not only the party, but Tinubu wins the territory in 2027. How would it look that a ruling party was unable to secure victory in the area that is supposed to seat power? That is not only an affront, but a shame. The people of Abuja must love Tinubu, willy-nilly, just like the people of Rivers!

We are therefore not deceived. Indeed, if anyone is in doubt as to the direction Wike is pointing, we are not. Like that child sent by his father to go and steal, is wont to break the door with his bare feet, Rivers of 2023 might be a child’s play from what will happen in 2027. That was the signal inherent in the Minister’s outburst. Ceteris paribus, Wike would be central to that outcome. Who will stop him? Is it INEC, the police, the courts? No!

However, as sure as night would turn to day, Nigerians can go home with the alluring feeling that all iron must return to the furnace. Before Wikes of today, many were here just yesterday. Ogbulafor, Lamidi Adedibu, of Amala Politics fame, Tony Anenih, Mr. Fix It of the PDP, et al. Where are they today.

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Months before his death, Ibrahim Mantu, the late former Deputy Senate President had come out, to denounce his ways and apologise to Nigerians for his role in rigging elections. It was apparently in restitution, perhaps, with the knowledge that the end was nigh. Obviously, Wike and his men seem deaf to the echoes of that era. Pity.

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Editorial

Why the blackmail President Tinubu? Go get your planes!

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News broke on Wednesday that President Bola Tinubu flew in chartered flights to attend the inauguration of Cyril Ramaphosa in South Africa. According to reports, the President, who has been holidaying in Lagos since last weekend to celebrate the Sallah season, jetted out of the country with his entourage in two private jets.

The PUNCH, which broke the story, reported that Tinubu and his team left the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, on a Dassault Falcon 8X aircraft around 11:06 am, quoting a source, who saw him leave as saying: “They went in two private jets. Of course, you are aware that the presidential jets are no longer in good shape.”

Nothing was said about whether the planes were donated as goodwill by Tinubu’s numerous wealthy friends or the Presidency paid for them. But the message was clear – the presidential fleet is no longer fit for purpose and the President is abandoning it as his means of transportation, henceforth. In other words, Nigeria may never see Tinubu in those planes again.

Now, even an imbecile will not fail to decipher or at least suspect the inherent motive behind this move, which is pure blackmail, simplicita! It will be one of the most enchanting news if the President settles for something less than what has been recommended for him – two brand new aircraft. In fact, Nigerians should roll out the drums if it turns out that Tinubu has settled for the refurbishment or repairs of the existing fleet. It will mean that he has decided to listen to Nigerians for once. Else, the picture going by the prevailing signals from the Villa, suggest otherwise.

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Bayo Onanuga, the President’s spokesman had actually set the ball rolling on this line of engagement with Nigerians when he clapped back against Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), in the February 25, 2023 election, questioning his motive for railing against Nigeria acquiring two new jets for Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima at a time like this in Nigeria when the country’s economy is at its nadir.

Hear him: “Does Peter Obi want the President dead? Is that his wish? Does he want him to continue moving around in a rickety plane and die like the VP of Malawi and Iran President? Let him tell us. This is a basic thing any sane government will do.

“You can’t toy with your President’s welfare. Why will any right-thinking person still want the President to move around in it? In this way, it is the National Assembly that officially recommended that new ones should be bought. Sometimes, Peter Obi opened his mouth to make unnecessary statements.”

Now, what did Obi say that could be interpreted as a possible death-wish for the Jagaban Borgu? Hear the former Governor of Anambra State, who used his X platform to drive home his position: “At a time when our country is on the front page of global newspapers for facing its worst economic crisis, marked by high inflation, a falling currency, and widespread poverty, the government is contemplating buying new presidential jets. This demonstrates extreme insensitivity to citizens’ struggles.

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“With rising insecurity, poverty, hunger, and homelessness, this decision highlights the disconnect that is apparent between the government and the people. It is unacceptable as the situation in the country today more than ever demands a more compassionate use of resources, prioritising citizens’ welfare.

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“It’s on record that our presidential jets have an average age of 12 years, purchased when most Nigerians could afford necessities. Now, as our country faces significant challenges, including a high debt profile, our citizens are in even greater need. Instead of adding to our luxuries, we should be focused on alleviating their suffering and finding solutions to their problems.

“For long, our bad leadership has made our priorities, as leaders, to be at variance to the needs of society, which is why we are headed now south, as a nation. To elucidate further, despite dropping down to the fourth-largest economy in Africa, with a GDP of $252 billion and a per capita income of $1,080, with huge debt burdens and borrowing to service debts, yet, we are spending $15 million for our Vice President’s residence, while the USA, the world’s largest economy with a GDP of $25 trillion, about 100 times our GDP, and a per capita income of $80,000, about 80 times ours, still houses their Vice President in Number 1 Observatory Circle, a house built over 100 years ago, and whose value is less than the $15 million we are spending on our VP’s residence.

“A reputable real estate company reports that the US Vice President’s Official Residence is valued at about $7.5 million today. While we had earlier refurbished the old VP residence with $2 million, the over 100-year-old US Vice President’s house has only undergone wide-scale renovations twice, funded by taxpayers’ money; in 1993 and 2021. Every new US VP is free to finance any minor refurbishing from his funds.

“It’s, therefore, time to stop this impunity, insensitivity, and shamelessness and refocus on the needs of our people. We must prioritize education, healthcare, and lifting our citizens out of poverty. Let us work together to build a nation that truly serves its people, not just the interests of a few. Let’s rise to the challenge, and build this new Nigeria which is now more possible than ever before.”

Now, how does this sound like a death wish? Certainly, Obi did not speak in isolation. This remains the groundswell of opinion canvassed by many Nigerians. But it has to be so ascribed to achieve the purpose of shutting the naysayers up. After all, would it not amount to high treason for anyone to wish the President dead. So, like Josep Gaobel, the German propagandist under Hitler, the message has to be twisted to cast them in unpatriotic, if not devilish image.

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Come to think of it, at what point has Tinubu or those in government with him ever hidden their appetite and love for high taste and luxury? Have they not consistently shown the tendency to the George Orwell’s Animal Farm penchant for revelling in opulence at the expense of Nigerians? Have they also not had their way in doing so?

Despite the hues and cries from Nigerians that it was crazy to spend N160 million to buy luxury vehicles for each of the 469 members of the National Assembly, especially from a loan, were they not told that it was better to buy them to navigate the bad roads in the country instead of using the funds to repair them for the benefit of the whole instead of the few? Did they not go ahead with the acquisition?

Did Tinubu not also acquire his presidential yacht from the same loan to boot? Did he not acquire luxury cars for his wife or engage in renovation of the presidential residence in Lagos and building of a luxury home in Abuja for the Vice President, outside other obviously frivolous and nonsensical projects? Did anybody stop him.

So, why the attempt to hoodwink the people with this propaganda, drama and blackmail? Is it lack of money? Certainly no! Were Nigerians not served the palatable news the other day that another cache of $2.5billion is sitting somewhere at the vault of the World Bank to be picked? What would stop its use to acquire luxury items for the pleasure of the President, including a better and more luxurious yacht in addition to the brand new, tear-rubber planes, not only to keep him alive, but in pleasure?

Yes! Obi and his Obidient Movement, can go ahead and make all the noise. It will neither stop nor affect anything. After all they have already been adequately labelled for what they are – villains – unpatriotic group – noisemakers who do not wish Nigeria well, by attempting to circumscribe the pleasure of Mr. President and disturbing his peace with their rantings.

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Like the harassed hen, flapping its wings and jumping around while watching the kite in flight with one of its chicks, it is for the world to hear its voice and not because the predator would be persuaded to return its victim. Remember that it was the selfsame Obi, who almost lost his voice at the Time Muhammadu Buhari and his own irresponsible cabal were acquiring loans from every imaginable corner from around the globe.

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Yes! He not only warned about the consequences of the indiscriminate obtaining of loans, but about feasting on them like drunken sailors through all manner of illicit designs by those at the corridors of power at the time. Today, is Nigeria not suffering those consequences he warned about? At that time, just like Onanuga and his team at the Villa are doing, Obi was feasted on by Buhari’s handlers, especially the duo of Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu.

What is the picture today? Who is right and who is wrong. Those who attacked him those days, calling him all sorts of names in return on behalf of their principal, are probably living the best lives from what they acquired as part of their own share from the official bazaar on the commonwealth at that time, as is now being revealed, while the country sinks deeper in the thick morass of poverty and human degradation.

For the LP boss, he has done his bit. He has spoken again. The only time he could become culpable is if he decides like many others of his national stature to keep silent. He has pointed out where he stands on the matter, not because it would stop anything, but for the world to hear his voice.

This is also our position as well at WhirlwindNews as well. Powerless and ineffective as it might sound, we must lend our voice in stating that this is not the time to buy the new planes, because we totally believe that contrary to the official position Abuja is touting the planes are being acquired more to maintain luxurious tastes which has become the character of the people in government and even around Nigeria where government money is seen as slush funds to be enjoyed by those at the corridors of power to the exclusion of the ordinary people.

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Furthermore, that the idea was broken at the NASS by the House of Representatives Committee on Security, means the deal is already completed. Perhaps, the new birds are even in the air enroute Nigeria already. What is in issue therefore is the present drama now trailing development. It is distasteful because it suggests that the purveyors of the idea are simply rubbing it in. By suggesting that Nigerians would swallow lullaby that they are part of the decision – a decision the has already been taken long before they had a whiff of it is what rankles. Such a suggestion is an uncanny way of rubbing the insult in. It presumes that Nigerians are daft who do not know what is going on. That not only rankles, it is the TRAGEDY!

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