“It is only here that judicial officers work harder than slaves and yet, they are not appreciated. But, the consolation is that the judges in Nigeria are attached to the devil they are contending with. Whether we like it or not, we have to be proud of our judges and justices. They are brilliant and bold and some of them are appointed as justices in other countries.
“A mistake by one judge should not be generalised to warrant general condemnation from any quarter. They surpass judges from other countries. They deserve commendation for resisting the evils. The majority of judicial officers are standing in the face of challenges and unless we are careful with the way we attack judges, we will lose our minds and conscience.”
These were the exact words of Kanu Agabi, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF-MoJ) a few days ago. He was invited to speak on behalf of the senior members of the SANs, otherwise known as the Inner Bar, Nigeria’s equivalent of the UK Queen’s Counsel, now King’s Counsel, on Monday, September 25, 2023, at a special court session marking the commencement of the 2023/2024 Legal Year in Abuja.
As usual, and as it is wont with his ilk, the learned silk, once again attempted to shift the blame, this time for the rot in the society, particularly the heist that underscored the 2023 general elections which has hurt Nigerian democracy so badly. His was that instead of Nigerians directing their condemnation where they believe it is supposed to be firmly resting – the Nigerian judiciary, the camera of shame should be panned elswhere.
But what that would entail is to confirm as the judicial camp, perhaps believes, is that Nigerians are equipped with the brain matters of animals or at best morons. Otherwise, there is no other way the Nigerian judiciary would not take a large chunk of the blame if not all the blame in its entirety. In fact, nowhere else could it be more fitting.
Before him, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem President of the Court of Appeal (CoA), while opening the event, was no less unhappy herself about the brickbats the judiciary has been getting from Nigerians, while attempting to shift the blame away from the judiciary to Nigerian politicians, whom she blamed for not accepting their fate by walking away.
By the combined efforts of the two and indeed many other lawyers and commentators, some of them employed as undertakers, not only to beautify the ugly corpses that judicial pronouncements have become, but deodorise their putridity, the judges remain irreproachable, simply because they are merely interpreting the law the way it is rather than the way it ought to be.
For the rest of Nigerians who believe that judges should go beyond this straightjacket concept and deliver the justice of the matter before them in all ramifications, they are accused of committing a mortal crime of daring to bemoan the fate they have been handed. Their insistence that saving the society and the people from the insults, indignities and consequences arising from practically being fed their own excreta – a cocktail of faeces and urine, the usual mantra is that they are dwelling on sentiments. “Law is not sentiments, they would readily say.”
But put this statement on a proper societal balancing scale, it simply lacks the basic elements of logic. In the first place, judges are not inanimate objects. They are not machines either that could be placed at a spot and remain there permanently, never acting until their owners move them. They are also not trees that would be threated with being hewed down and still remain standing. No! Judges are not only human beings, but live in the same society they deny justice.
So, if democracy is raped so furiously and brutally as Nigeria has witnessed over the decades, most particularly in the 2023 elections, which has been acknowledged in informed quarters as the worst in the history of the country, judges, who by their pronouncements, help to sustain the outcome, cannot escape the blame, by snoring in the save and comfortable duvet of merely interpreting the law as it is or enjoy the alluring lullaby of praise singers, who tell them that their refusal to unilaterally take up the gauntlets to defend the society, reflects professionalism and courage as Agabi implied.
Rather they deserve to be called out and the guilt of the collapsed house that could result from such a convenient, irresponsible and most times devious shirking of their supposed ennobling duty, hung on their necks like yokes on the bull of burden. They must be dragged through the septic gutters of the infamy they deserve to travel on. That is what Nigerians are doing at the moment and there is no way they can escape the anger of the people no matter their obvious attempt at a pushback.
Yes! Agabi described Nigerian judges as “brilliant and bold” reasoning that “some of them are appointed as justices in other countries.” Of course it could be true and he may be right. But brilliant and bold in what sense? While the brilliance part of it is left to the jury, it is clear that only a bold judge could look at what happened in the 2023 elections, allow it to endure and keep a straight face. But that is in the negative sense.
Only a bold and courageous judge would look at Nigerians in the face and tell them that it is okay for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), not to upload results of the 2023 elections real time, in line with their guidelines and what they mouthed everywhere in the market places across the country and even as far as the world stage, including the Chatham House in the UK, because they are not legally bound to do so. It is only a negatively-tutored and inspired judiciary that could hug such an obtuse, even if convenient excuse.
Perhaps, the former AGF was talking about the Nigerian judges of old and not the type Adamu Bulkachuwa, a Nigerian Senator once told his colleagues in his contribution at the closing session of the ninth Senate, held at the hallowed chambers of the Senate before the beaming cameras and millions of eyes within and without Nigeria, that he he effectively influenced and manipulated from his bedroom.
They are certainly not the type Chidi Odinkalu, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), told the world recently that Nigerian politicians put behind their pockets as they go about committing various forms of crimes and whose skewed appointments are the products of bedroom and other filial considerations. Certainly not!
If indeed they were, those who whose vice grip on the throat of the 2023 election asphyxiated life out of it, would not have been that daring to be singing the go to court mantra. It is because they were aware of the insipid and pliable nature of the current Nigerian judiciary that they sang that song with such ecstasy. That way Dongban-Mensem, would not not have to cry out about how election cases have overshadowed the entire judiciary system by the sheer number. In other words, the only way of stopping the deluge is to do justice. That way, electoral brigands will have no reason to continue in their bad behaviour. If they continue enabling the criminals, not only the judiciary but the entire polity would continue to suffer.
It is such raw, indisputable boldness and courage that delivered that heavy blow to the impunity demonstrated in the Rotimi Amaechi case in 2007. Ordinarily the former Rivers State Governor, would have been told to go home and lick his wounds, if he had presented his case today. But the judges demonstrated that they were part of Nigeria and decided to go for the spirit of the law in righting the wrong embedded in the impunity of one man authority, who posed a danger to democracy.
It was still within the same period that Peter Obi, against the moving train that was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got justice in the Tenure Determination Case, and was restored to power, even as a member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), one of the least influential political entities in Nigeria at that time.
That obviously ought to be the judiciary Agabi should be cloaking in the toga of brilliance and boldness and not the obviously timid, lethargic and probably compromised judiciary of today that would permit the type of judicial murder that saw Dave Umahi and Godswill Akpabio return to the Senate after contesting presidential elections in one circle. How could such a judiciary earn the type of respect the former AGF envisages?
Imaging the cacophony of contradictions that are coming out from the election petition tribunals in the states – judges giving with one hand and taking with the other at the same time – in shameful display of outlandish pronouncements. Are they reflective of the type of judiciary that Nigerians would ignore and celebrate?
Certainly no! In the unlikely case that the present Nigerian judiciary has forgotten the colour of justice, only a scratch back to history would reveal it in the eternal description of the late Chukwudifu Oputa, one of the unforgettable minds that had ever sat on the noble and exalted position of the Nigerian bench.
Indeed, the only argument Agabi seemed to have got right is when he reminded his audience that whatever decisions they made or failed to make in the journey towards delivering justice, they must account for them, if not on earth, before their creator when they die, as many of them are doing right now.
But beyond that the eternal words of Oputa, Justice of the Supreme Court (JSC), as he then was, remains enduring – Justice to the accused, justice to the accuser and justice to the society. That is what Nigerians want and demand, without which, everything is but a white-painted sepulcher, beautiful outside but habours rotten remains in its bowels.
Nobody needs be told that the Nigerian society have continued to hold the short end of the stick in this context. But so long as it is denied its own share of justice, the judiciary would continue to suffer and endure the bespattering image from the paintbrush of shame! No more no less!
Caveat emptor! Why Nigeria must watch France and its Abacha ‘Greek Gift’
Desperate times, they say, require desperate moves. Would it not be apposite to question the current Franco-Nigerian relationship that is unfolding since President Bola Tinubu took over as leader on May 29, 2023 or look at the scenario with one kain eye, as Nigerians would say? Everything points in that direction.
Because it is said here in our clime that caution can never be equated or interpreted as cowardice, we recommend at WhirlwindNews, from the outset that this dinner Abuja is having at the table with Paris, must be one with the axiomatic long spoon, with eyes darting like that of a squirrel on unsure ground. Nothing could be more appropriate.
What is not known is whether relationship between the President and France is a mere coincidence or planned, but it is coming at very significant era in the life of France, one of the global powers with a very powerful influence on Africa.
Outside Britain with 24 countries speaking English, France is the next with 21 speaking French in the continent. That leaves only nine out of the 54 countries in the African continent that do not speak either of the two languages. Therein lies the powerful control of the two world powers in the continent.
Today, however things seem to be taking a different dimension for Paris in the direction of its sphere of influence with the testy moment it has been experiencing in recent years in Africa.
To say that times are hard for the country would be stating the obvious. The more apt way to put it is that France is fast losing grip of its former colonies. But that is even very mild if it stops at the question of just mere ceremonial influence. It goes further than that. The country is facing an existential phase with the threat coming from the said countries.
Why is this so? Unlike Britain that has fashioned an ingenious way of still having its fingers in the till of its former colonies, albeit cunningly, France’s style is direct and audacious. Its economy is poignantly tied to its former colonies. To get clarity on this, listen to Arikana Chihombori-Quao, former African Union representative at the UN and a massive supporter of anti-French campaigner in the continent speak on the issue in very graphic details.
“The government of France has significant control over all their former colonies, specifically 14 of them. When they were giving them independence, they forced them to sign a document which they called the pact for the continuation of colonisation. On one hand, they say we are giving you independence which comes out to be political independence but that you have to sign this document… You are going to be independent, but you have to agree to continually be colonised. Two countries said, absolutely not, they (were) not going to sign the document. They are Mali and Guinea. What the French did was that, they entered those countries, took everything that they thought they brought into those economies, poured concrete into sewage pipes and completely devastated the two economies. They did this to let other countries know that if they did not sign this document, this was the fate that awaited them.
“The impact was terrible. The pact that that those countries had to deposit 85 per cent of their bank reserves with the French Central Bank, under the control of the French Minister of Finance and should those countries wish to request some of those monies – remember they are only left with 15 per cent of their reserves – they have to submit financial statement for the country and if approved, they can only access up 20 per cent of whatever they had deposited the year before as a loan at commercial interest rate. The only difference now is the 85 per cent deposits have now been lowered down to maybe 50 and 60 percent but the countries are still forced and required to deposit their bank reserves with the French Central Bank.
“Now, picture this situation: You are depositing your monies with France. Should you need some of your money, you get it as a loan at commercial interest rates. Immediately, you have credit with France, but you begin to owe France! This has been going on and continuous till this day. So, combined, the 14 countries are giving to France cash of over $500 billion every year and France takes that money and invests it in its own stock market under the French name… currently, for every 14 billion that France takes out of Africa, by the time they finish investing it in the French stock market, they realise upwards of $300 billion. So you do the maths to see how much France takes out of Africa every year.”
In recent years, the submissions of Quao, has resonated in the actions of the leaders of the recent coups in countries like Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad and Niger, who all want the vice grip of France loosened on their natural resources, at the best, but at the worst, demand the total exit of the former colonial master out of their individual countries.
Niger, for instance did not mince words when the new military junta, led by Abdourahamane Tchiani, which sacked the former President Mohamed Bazoum, toed the same line, by giving France a marching order to leave their country. The sacking of the French ambassador to the country, Sylvain Itte, who eventually left Niamey on September 27, after Paris initially refused to heed the order of the junta on the ground that the government that gave it was illegitimate sounded the final death-knell on the face off between the two nations.
But it did not end there. There was actually a report that Niger also raised the price of uranium, the major raw material used building nuclear power plants for the supply of electricity, from €0.8 to €200 per kilogram, which was later debunked. But even if not so, the point still remains that French companies represented by Orano, formally known as Areva, which exploits the uranium, is paying peanuts for the precious mineral.
Imagine more than three-quarters of Niger being in darkness without electricity, yet with France’s massive energy economy being fuelled with the uranium from the country, such that two-third of the electricity generated is sold to other European countries without nuclear electricity power.
We believe the importance of all these should therefore be factored into the new relationship between Abuja and Paris. Like President Muhammadu Buhari before him, who took the United Kingdom as his second home outside the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Tinubu seems to have confirmed that Paris is his preferred destination outside his current abode. Virtually all his medical tourism is in the country. Shortly after his winning the presidential election, he retired to the country and returned there immediately after he was sworn into office on May 29.
It is therefore not left to any form of guesswork that he is in love with the country, or maintains a strong affinity to it. This must never be a reason to loose-guard or drop the ball. Going by the reputation of the country in Africa, this ought to be a red flag. What must be avoided is a situation in which the snake that sank its poisonous fangs into one victim would whip another with its tail. In other words, Nigeria must never be another Niger.
Apparently to underscore its goodwill towards Nigeria, France through its visiting Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, on Friday, announced the return of a whopping $150million it claimed former Nigerian despot, Sani Abacha salted away in their country, a day Tinubu, her host, also indicated that Nigeria also signed a €100 million agreement with the country to support the i-DICE programme — a Federal Government initiative to promote investment in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Creative Arts Industries.
The quick question any keen observer would raise is, where France has been all these while. Why has Paris suddenly remembered the Abacha loot? The former military Head of State died in 1998, a clear 25 years ago? Since then, many countries have been releasing the illicit funds from the former despot. Why has France kept its own tranche and why has nobody heard of it before now? Is the move because it has found a new friend in Tinubu or is it a ploy to make Nigeria provide the alternative destination, now it is finding it hot with its colonies in Africa? Nigeria is home to virtually every mineral deposit known to the world, not the least, the most popular oil and gas, the nation’s current geese that lay the golden eggs. Who says there might not be the much sought-after uranium to boot?
So far, the answers to this barrage of questions and more, are ensconced in the bowels of ambiguity and inexactitude. But what should not is the approach to dealing with it. Nigeria has a way of calling for caveat emptor – shine your eyes.
Pray! What manner of trust does Justice Okoro and the Supreme Court want?
Justice Iyang Okoro, made a very remarkable statement on Thursday. At the end of his judgement, while leading the seven-man panel of the Supreme Court, which ended the legal challenge to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as winner of the February 25, 2023 presidential election as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on March 1, 2023, he said, the public, must learn to trust the courts.
Of course, the erudite jurist, ought to be stating the obvious. Courts are temples of justice or have been described as so. Therefore, anyone and everyone that comes to them must bow to their authority. This, of course is predicated on the assumption that judges, lawyers and other judicial officers, themselves are the priests and servants at its alter. In this wise the pronouncements of judges therefrom are supposed to be words coming direct from God. That ought to be the source and essence of the respect and nothing more.
It is like the Pope speaking ex-cathedra – when he mounts the Papal Chair of Saint Peter to make a pronouncement – the Catholic Church believes that therein lies the infallibility of the Pope – where everything issuing from his mouth in that condition, is authentic and correct teaching of the church and of God, to wit.
No true priests of Osun or Amadioha would decree the trust of the people. Their conducts and outcomes of their divinations simply speak for them. In law, it is the doctrine or dictum of res ipsa loquitur – the facts speak for themselves or what in internet technology is referred as garbage in, garbage out. In other words, you cannot plant orange and demand to reap cassava. There are so many ways to put it.
The moment it is suspected or discovered that the judgements from the courts are no longer reflective of the pristine qualities of a temple, a natural reaction follows. It is either the trust and respect they are supposed to convoke or invoke become shaky, at best or at the worst, they collapse completely and in that case, suffer the fate of the biblical salt that loses its taste, and only fit for the fire as its final destination.
Is that not what is obvious in the situation at hand? To what extent, have the pronouncements of the courts Okoro wants Nigerians to trust reflective of the voice of God that dwells in the temple of justice? That is the question that he must first answer, without which, his disenchantment at the reaction of the public goes into no issue. It is akin to eating his cake and having it or blaming the victim and not the oppressor or as it is said in Nigeria, beating a child and saying it should not cry.
It is a common saying that anything that acts in the manner of a rat would naturally attract the attention of the cat. That obviously is the case here. Over the years, the Nigerian courts have acted in manners that not only raised the suspicion of the public towards their true intendments, but reached outcomes that have dealt heavy blows to their impetus as the eyes and ears of God in the temple of justice.
It is a common dictum in law and many judges have also adumbrated so that justice must not only be done, but seen to have been done. To make the concept more reflective and understandable, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, JSC as he then was, popularly referred as the Nigerian Socrates on the bench, even expanded it to mean, justice to the accused, justice to the accuser and justice to the society.
To what extent has this been reflected in the judgements of the courts in recent years to enable them command the trust Okoro demanded of Nigerians? Consider the case in question regarding the Supreme Court itself. Could the apex court say with its full chest that it did not act as a rat that should attract the attention the cats within the Nigerian society?
This particular Supreme Court panel, which Justice Okoro presided over, holds the record today for posting the fastest judgement time in the history of Nigeria. At no time had the apex court given such a critical judgement in such a record time. Three days to prepare and read a judgement in a presidential election, is such an extraordinary feat, to say the least.
Ordinarily, that particular speed ought to earn the panel and the judges a special mention on the pages of honour for being so diligent to their call, especially in the view of the dictum that justice delayed is justice denied. Yet, did it? But was that the case? Certainly not! Why? The answer simply lies in the sequence of events that occurred before it. Many did not see the urgency that would lead to the speed in the face of the prevailing circumstances especially with the information preceding it.
The reason is simple. Outside the main substance of the presidential election and its outcome, a bigger issue had come up in its wake – the true identity of President Tinubu, a development, whose implications clearly outshone the other questions about the credibility of the election itself during the pendency of the matter.
Before then, Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President, as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had roused the interest of not only Nigerians, but indeed, the entire world with the damning issue of the depositions at the District Court of Illinois, Chicago in the US, regarding the Chicago State University (CSU), where the President claimed to have obtained the degree certificates he submitted to INEC.
At the time the admissibility of the matter was being argued at the apex court, there was another argument at a court in the US, where Atiku was again pressing the judges to order the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to release its much touted dossier on Tinubu, which he and his supporters, believed would have given a further impetus to their claims that the President was complicit in all manners of crimes, including identity theft, which made him unfit for the number one job of Nigeria he presently occupies.
It was few hours after the District Court in Detroit, reportedly denied the former VP the request to release the record before the October ending, in order to aid the Supreme Court decide on what to do that Okoro and his panel decided to move. Therein lay the suspicion! Who could actually blame anyone that believes that they were working to an answer, even if the intentions of their lordships at the SC were noble?
Three days to prepare and deliver a judgement was incredible in Nigeria simplicita! It even got curiouser with the pronouncements of the Okoro panel proper. Who told Okoro and his men that what Nigerians and indeed the world were looking for was to hear their mastery of the law as was showcased during that judgement on Thursday? No! Nigerians and the world were looking out for answers to clear questions.
Who won the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria? If you agree with INEC that it is Tinubu, how? All Atiku, Peter Obi, his counterpart at the Labour Party (LP), their supporters and indeed a groundswell of the public wanted was a glean into the real and entire contents of the Independent Results Viewing (IReV) Portal of INEC that showed the images of women in the bathrooms or eagles chasing their preys.
They also wanted a credible judicial scrutiny of the contents of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), which Atiku and Obi actually got from INEC itself after such a tortuous process, so as to ascertain to prove to Nigerians that Tinubu truly won the election. Did their lordships provide the answers as required of them? Were they supposed to and if yes, what response were they expecting if they did not? In other words, having provided what the public needed in the breach rather than substance, how then do they want to get the trust?
Today, the critical questions trailing Tinubu’s true identity remains in the public domain – in the back and forth dingdong of speculation – no thanks to the reticence of the courts to settle it finally. Even before the likes of Yinka Odumakin, a member of the inner circle of Tinubu’s empire, affirmed that his real name is Yekini Amoda Ogunlere from Iragbiji in Osun State, many of his close associates had cried out and pointed in that direction like a crying baby would point in the direction of the mother.
Coming back from the US court, Atiku et al, had equally pointed in the same direction in the allegation that Tinubu’s depositions on oath to the INEC as required by law are untrue as the certificate he presented from the CSU was forged. But instead of delving into the matter to affirm the veracity of the document or denounce it, Nigerians were offered loads and loads of law. In the end like the Gordian knot, Tinubu’s identity remains a mystery.
Yet, Okoro, demands the trust of the people? From where will it come? Trust is neither hawked in Balogun or Dugbe markets, nor is it a common commodity like the fura the Fulani woman sells at Kaduna Central Market nor the okpa the Nkanu women carry around on their heads at Ogbete Market in Enugu. Trust comes from integrity and integrity comes from demonstrable evidence of constructive human behaviours over time. It is not forced, it is earned!
This was the essence of Justice Musa Muhammad Dattijo, JSC, made on Friday during his valedictory speech to mark his retirement from the apex court, when he told his colleagues: “My lords, distinguished invitees, ladies and gentlemen, it is obvious that the judiciary I am exiting from is far from the one l voluntarily joined and desired to serve and be identified with. The institution has become something else. Nobody could have put it better. And surely, his indictment was a tip of the iceberg.
Olisa Agbakoba, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), did a follow-up on Monday, when, while endorsing all the former SCJ said, only to add that by describing the apex court as toxic, stressing the dictatorship tendency at the highest court in the land.
Hear him: Out of the three arms of government – the executive, the legislature and the judicature, the most undemocratic is actually the judiciary. The huge amount that budgeted for the judiciary is not reflecting in the welfare of the judges because there is a mafia there. I know of judges who have passed on as matter of critical illnesses. On the budget, we have to have a democratic process, whereby the funding is spread and not just retained.
“Do you know that when a Supreme Court judge retires, he leaves his house to nowhere. The only person who gets a house in the Supreme Court, is actually the CJN. He has a choice of two houses, one in Abuja and probably one in his home state. And sometimes this runs into billions. So, that is part of why the situation in the Supreme Court has become so toxic.”
So, if Okoro et al and those before him who took a similar route in deciding on such critical matters were content in skirting around the issues by dishing out trailer-loads of law in place of answering simple questions, they might as well hold on to their law, while the people hold on to their trust. They could decree Tinubu as President of Nigeria. They have the powers to do so, as they have demonstrated. What they do not have powers to do is command public trust. That is left to Nigerians to give – to those deserving of it! Chikena!
NASS exotic bulletproof cars: It’s about Obi, not LP
On July 4, 2023, at this year’s edition of the yearly lecture series organised by Freedom Online, one of the frontline online newspapers published by Gabriel Akeneworo, Richard Akinadewo, lawyer, journalist and one of Nigeria’s earliest and foremost rights activists of the Gani Faweihinmi school, raised what had been in the public discourse at that time – the place of the lawmakers produced by the Labour Party (LP).
There had been heavy talks, mostly in the social media that the LP members at the National Assembly, had not displayed any characteristic different from the ordinary day Nigerian politician. If anything, they had been as acquiescing as the next man or woman sitting in either the Green or Red chambers, especially those from the much vilified All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
For supporters of the other parties, particularly the APC and by extension, President Bola Tinubu, it was an ample reason to believe that the Obient Movement, through which sentiment the lawmakers got to power, would be no different. That also stretched to a further argument that Peter Obi, the patron and purveyor of that movement, would also not be different from those he had vilified and painted in inelegant colours and accused of official bad behaviours.
Sampler – the issue of the “token” Godswill Akpabio, Senate President, had promised the members of the upper legislative chambers of the NASS, which he later changed to “prayers” but which Nigerians understood quite clearly to mean what it actually meant – free money for members – money not earned – money not covered in official seal – money not required for any useful purpose outside for the members to enjoy themselves, of course in the midst of the suffering masses they were supposed to be their constituents – came to the fore.
Hear the remonstrations! Where are the LP lawmakers? Where are the Obidients? Why have they suddenly gone quiet? Did they collect their token or prayers? Why didn’t they reject it? Why are they not speaking out? Are they no longer the moral compass of the nation? Are they not supposed to be as clean as Obi, their patron? These people are just pretenders. Just like their master.
Now, it is not known from which angle Akinola was coming during that event held at the Sheraton Hotel, Lagos. Was he part of the mocking, jeering crowd of the mostly APC and Tinubu supporters or was he just raising a genuine concern, as an ordinary citizen and compatriot, in consistency with public advocacy, an enterprise, which had informed his activities for decades now? That, again, was difficult to ascertain.
But there was no doubt that he was right. So were those who had spoken on the issue before him. They were all right, regardless of their motivations. There was incontrovertible evidence that the Obidients and the LP members had presented themselves in like manner and had acted no differently from the usual Nigerian politicians.
But where the critics miss the point is to associate, tag or blame Obi for this reality. Even the former governor of Anambra State must be aware of this fact. He would be quite naïve not to recognise the fact that most of those who trumpet his name are like the biblical pretenders Jesus Christ, warned the world about, when he stated that it is not those who shout father, father in the street that represent His adherents, but those who do His will. Of course, a cursory check, would reveal that the LP candidate, does not paint the picture of a political imbecile.
If he does not know that he is almost alone in the battle for the pristine and untainted brand of politics and leadership he preaches and for which millions of Nigerians have become his converts and devotees, then he would naturally fit that character of a neophyte. It will also be the same and quite surprising an disheartening if he allows this realisation either skew his mission or sedate his enthusiasm towards attaining it.
Only recently, Julius Abure, National Chairman of the LP came out with a directive that the party’s 36 members in the House of Representatives should reject the exotic bulletproof cars worth N160million, in consistency with the philosophy of the party. What has, however followed, is a definite silence. Almost every Nigerian would be ready to wager a bet that nobody would listen to the party boss. Not even the most passionate Obidient, including those who claim to be ardent friends and his close allies.
Abure did not mince words when he gave the directive on Tuesday, October 17, when he clearly told the LP members to: “Kick against this unnecessary wastage of resources in line with the ideology of the party which is social justice and equal opportunity for all.” He presented a clear picture on which he relied on to make the declaration, reminding the members of their obligation, not only to propagate the ideals of good behavior, but be on the side of suffering Nigerians.
His statement, read: “A few days ago, the news filtered that 360 members of the House of Assembly are to be gifted with vehicles worth about N160 million each. The Labour Party is indeed shocked, saddened and disappointed at the level of insensitivity being displayed by the executive and the legislative arms of the President Bola Tinubu-led All Progressives Congress administration.
“It is saddening that with deepening poverty among Nigerians the administration has decided to increase its appetite for a life of opulence to mock hardworking but underprivileged Nigerians. How else can any government justify the bloated Federal Executive Council of 48 cabinet ministers, with each of them given three luxurious four-wheel drive vehicles on the first day in office, paid for and fueled by taxpayers?
“This is notwithstanding hundreds of presidential and ministerial aides, as well as numerous aides to the aides who are being funded by the government. These vehicles will be costing Nigerians about N57.6 billion and this is happening at a time when the government claims it cannot afford to increase the minimum wage of N30,000 monthly to workers.
“A bag of 50 kg rice is today N50,000 and most families can’t afford two square meals a day, how insensitive can a Government become? This same government is still going round the world cap in hand seeking loan, what a shame! As things stand today, inflation is likely to hit 30 per cent by December 2023, yet all they are concerned about is the comfort of a privileged few who found themselves in public office.
“Why spend so much money on the import of and purchase of vehicles from other nations amidst the scarcity of needed foreign exchange for manufacturing? Why not empower local manufacturers such as Innoson Motor in Anambra and Peugeot Automobiles in Kaduna to save forex and boost our local economy?
“When our Presidential Candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, said we in the Labour Party want to move the economy from consumption to production, this is what we mean – Nigeria first! We implore this government to in the interest of our dear nation retrace its step and give priority to revamping the economy instead of its current obsession with luxury living.
“We are also calling on the Labour Party legislators in the 10th Assembly to kick against this unnecessary wastage of resources in line with the ideology of the party which is social justice and equal opportunity for all. Nigerians will hold them responsible if they fail to live above board or give proper account of the electoral investment reposed in them. Nigerians are fed up with the status quo and they crave for a different leadership that must factor in the interest of the suffering masses. The poor must be allowed to breathe again in this country.”
But even the party boss, must know that the best his admonition could get is to serve as a mere reminder to the lawmakers, should they claim to have forgotten on what vehicle they rode to their current destination. Beyond that would be to expect the ninth wonder of the world to happen in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, it is not impossible. A random check will prove that none of the LP members is a pauper in the real sense of the word. There is virtually none of them that would not have more than two cars already, which is enough to live a fairly appreciable life of luxury.
Yes, to a British Member of Parliament (MP) or US Senator or member of Congress, having two cars might actually be unnecessary surplusage. But not in Nigerian where, greed, avarice and show of obscene, vulgar wealth is the second skin of those in the public sphere, the picture is different.
If anything, for just that singular car largesse, which they actually do not need, the lawmakers would be prepared to become willing tools in making choices that could plunge the country into the deep ocean from where it will never rise again. For that singular gesture, virtually all of them, would give their index fingers as well. So, for the joke is on those who are mocking, they are actually the ones to be pitied for not reading the political character barometre well.
In fact, the next stage is for all of them to denounce Obi and his ways. The only thing holding them back is the ray of hope that somehow he could still emerge President, if the judiciary reverses the victory of Tinubu. If that does not happen, the bandwagon effect, could happen from the minute the court affirms his presidency.
Indeed, the only way the table could turn is if Obi actually becomes the President. That way, they would either be whipped into line with the official leadership he would toe as President, or bow to the new reality out of fear of losing out.
The fact that Obi seems not prepared to yoke the lawmakers with the same moral standards with which he has pursued public life, underscores the reason he has carried the LP burden on his own shoulder, including funding the party with his private resources, without any recourse to reliance from outside help. He knows those he is dealing with.
Yes! A New Nigeria many desire is POssible! But it does not lie in the LP NASS. It lies in Peter Obi. Anything else is wishful thinking!
December 6, 2023 9:47 pm
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