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Tinubu a symbol of collective suffering

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By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa

Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been a politician for the better part of his life. He has the uncanny reputation of seeking to do the impossible, in very difficult circumstances. By his own declarations, the presidential ambition has been in the works for a very long time, so he was well prepared for the job and nobody should pity or cry for him. We were taught that the best way to know somebody is through what other people say about him, what he does and what he says about himself.

This piece is a simple analysis of the impact of Tinubu’s government upon the people of Nigeria since May 29, 2023, when he commenced his four-year tenure. The President gave out himself as a progressive, by which term it is understood that he will implement programmes and policies that will lead to major and remarkable improvements in the lives of the people.

The President is seen as a welfarist, judging by his eight-year tenure as governor of Lagos State, during which time his supporters claimed that he executed people-oriented programmes of mass transit, that he revolutionized the judicial sector and even increased the internally generated revenue of the State. You will have a hard time convincing them that he was not a thorough democrat as they will cite examples of his legal battles to enthrone true federalism, when he pioneered the creation of local government development areas and dared the federal government.

You will not be able to convince his fans that the President as governor of Lagos State could not guarantee water supply to many homes, that he was not able to arrest the incidences of cultism, the ‘area boys’ syndrome and that he did nothing to upgrade the various slums that litter the State beyond primitive land acquisition and reallocation.

The governance structure in Nigeria is designed to deliver durable infrastructure and guarantee inclusive government for the people. This is clearly the purport of Chapter 2 of the Constitution. In its various sections, the Constitution provides for a government of the people, for the people and by the people.

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Section 13 enjoins all persons exercising legislative, executive and judicial authorities to uphold the provisions of the Constitution. Section 14 (1) states clearly that the Nigerian State shall be governed on the principles of democracy and social justice, while section 14 (2) (a) gives ultimate power (sovereignty) to the people.

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Section 14 (3) prohibits nepotism by stating that the composition of the Government of the Federation and indeed the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and to promote national unity, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government. What do we have in the current Tinubu dispensation?

The judiciary is headed by the South-West, the Army is headed by the South-West, the police is headed by the South-West, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is headed by the South-West, the Immigration is headed by the South-West, the Customs is headed by the South-West, the FIRS is headed by the South-West, the Governor of Central Bank is from the South-West, the Comptroller-General of the Correctional Centre is from the South-West and the Minister of Petroleum (Tinubu) is from the South-West. In simple terms, the South-West region of Nigeria controls the executive, the judiciary, the security and the finance architectures.

This is one of the causes of constant agitation in the land, when the leader in power sees himself as the representative of his region alone. And as if following Tinubu’s example, I was shocked to read that in the composition of the new governing councils of federal universities, Adamawa, the home-state of the Minister of Education, produced a whopping 22 chairmen. Section 15 (2) requires the President to promote national integration and to avoid all forms of discrimination. For this to happen, the government will provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the Federation.

But you and I know that the roads are not motorable and even when they are, the fear of terrorists will not encourage people to use the roads. In section 15 (3) (b), the government is to secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation. Some weeks ago, it was reported in the news that the Lagos State Government gathered persons suspected to be from Osun State into a truck and dropped them off in Osogbo to go back to their State. This is not new.

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Should other States of the Federation retaliate this gesture, there will be crisis everywhere. Section 15 (5) enjoins the government to abolish all forms of corrupt practices and abuse of power. Since the advent of the Tinubu administration, the State Security Service (SSS) has been let loose on Nigerians. The agency invaded a court in Ota area of Ogun State to arrest litigants right inside the court. Journalists are languishing in various detention centres on account of their professional engagements. The sad impression being conveyed by the President and his team is that might is right.

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Section 16 (1) (a) directs the government to harness the resources of the nation to promote national prosperity and an efficient, dynamic and self-reliant economy, with equality of status and opportunity granted to all citizens. The question to ask is this: what is the current state of the Nigerian economy?

Inflation is at its highest ever (33%), energy cost has gone beyond reach, many companies are closing down due to negative economic factors and the unemployment rate is rising daily. The ballooning exchange rate has worked to cripple many businesses, with the unfortunate result that purchasing power has dwindled drastically whilst the cost of living has quadrupled.

This has led to mass exodus of Nigerians to other climes in search of greener pastures. In section 16 (1) (b), the State is directed to control the national economy in such a manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity. I am pretty sure you can resolve this issue yourself, if you go by the increasing cases of suicide, mental illness, broken homes and crime rate.

From being the happiest people on earth a while ago, most Nigerians have been turned into emergency beggars, barely able to eke out a decent living. If you get fifty messages in one day, forty of them must come from those who claim not to have eaten the whole day or to have medical bills to settle or they need your support to pay their children’s school fees or settle their accommodation bills.

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The fuel subsidy removal has only worked to pauperize the people, creating lamentations in various homes and businesses. Section 16 (2) states that the government shall ensure that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good. Nigeria has oil and gas in very large quantities but they are not harnessed for the benefit of the people.

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If you go to the Niger-Delta area you will see degradation and the wicked effects of oil production and pollution on the ecosystem. We also have gold, bitumen and other natural and mineral resources. The real issue is that our leaders are not deploying these huge resources for the common good.

In section 16 (2) ©, the government is to ensure that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of a few individuals.

It is the opposite that operates presently, as the same people who control the banks also control the real estate sector, they play in the oil and gas sector, they dominate the power sector and indeed all other important sectors of the Nigerian economy. It is a circle of friends who have not allowed and will not allow any outsider to invade their “privacy”.

In particular and for loud emphasis, section 14 (2) (b) states that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government. And this is the real deal. Or how do you promote the welfare of people by keeping them in perpetual darkness without electricity?

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I cannot remember anytime that we have enjoyed stable power supply for up to one week since May 29, 2023 when Tinubu was sworn in. We are currently experiencing the worst in power supply because all we hear across the land is the sound of generators.

To make matters worse, the government empowered the power distribution companies to extort money from their consumers, when the nebulous Band A group was purportedly created, with the assurance of 18-22 hours of power supply everyday. It was only a clever design to milk the people dry, given that those who are touted to be in Band A have since confirmed the scheme to be false.

The Tinubu administration has not done anything to improve the lives of Nigerians since it assumed office. Insecurity is at its worst and nobody is ever sure of who is next but for God. Nigeria is presently an open field of suffering such that even those who have are themselves victims. No government should pride itself for foisting suffering on its citizens.

Adegboruwa, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is a rights activist and human rights crusader

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BREAKING: One week after US Congress threat, Court frees, Binance boss

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Exactly one week after the US Congress, moved against Nigeria, Tigran Gambaryan, Head of Financial Crime Compliance of Binance, was let off the hook on Friday, as the Federal Government, dropped charges against him, with a Federal High Court in Abuja, discharging him on the four-count charge of financial crimes.

Sixteen members of the US Congress, had last week, written a letter of protest to President Joe Biden, demanding his intervention into the case of Gambaryan, who holds US citizenship, who they said was in danger of losing his life under terrible conditions in detention in Nigeria, while insisting on his immediate release.

The letter had alleged that Gambaryan, “has been wrongfully detained since late February after granting the Nigerian government’s request for discussions regarding the crypto giant’s business in the country. The government of Nigeria took Mr. Gambaryan hostage and thus needs his government’s help to be freed.”

Raising alarm over the state of his health, the group of lawmakers, which said: “Mr. Gambaryan’s health and well-being are in danger, and we fear for his life. Immediate action is essential to ensure his safety and preserve his life. We must act swiftly before it is too late,” had emphasised “on behalf of Mr. Gambaryan, his family, and concerned Americans, we, the undersigned, urgently request and strongly encourage the transfer of his case to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.”

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Confirming that the government had dropped the charges against the Binance boss, on Friday, Dare Adekanmbi, spokesman to the FIRS, said: “Please note that the charges are being dropped against the second and the third defendants in the matter,” adding that the accused had been confirmed not to be a decision-maker at the cryptocurrency firm.

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He said in a statement: “We are relieved that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has served and filed amended charges today, resulting in tax charges against Tigran Gambaryan being dropped. Further illustrating that Tigran is not a decision-maker at Binance and does not need to be held in order for Binance to resolve issues with the Nigerian government. We await the court’s ruling on this, discharging Tigran from this matter completely.”

Elsewhere in court, the Federal High Court sealed the freedom of the accused, whose ordeal began on February 28, with Justice Emeka Nwite, discharging him of all the charges, bothering on tax evasion charge preferred against the company by Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Nwite, in a ruling, discharged and struck out the names of Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, who had since fled Nigeria, after escaping from detention, in March, after Moses Ideho, lawyer to the FIRS, filed a fresh amended charge wherein Binance is listed as sole defendant.

Gambaryan, who was in court during Friday’s proceedings, had stepped into the dock, when Tonye Krukrubo, SAN, who appeared for Binance (1st defendant), then informed the court that the cryptocurrency firm had just appointed a representative in Nigeria in the name of Ayodele Omotilewa.

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Ideho, who confirmed that his office received a notice of appointment of a representative by Binance, also told the court that the notice was dated June 13, 2024, appointing Ayodele Omotilewa as its agent in the country, adding that against the development, an amended four-count charge listing Binance Holdings Limited as sole defendant was filed on June 13 and therefore Omotilewa should be docked to take a plea on behalf of the company.

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But Krukrubo in vehement disagreement argued that the company’s representative was yet to be served with the fresh amended charge, said Omotilewa was only appearing in court for the first time, adding: “I think my learner friend should confirm whether he has served him or not first. We are not there yet. The prosecution has not served us with the amended charges. He ought not to enter the dock. He was appointed for specific purposes, to receive processes. He is one of us; a legal practitioner. The proper thing for the prosecution to do is to address the court on the charge he intended to substitute.

Also arguing in the same direction, C.J. Caleb, who appeared for Gambaryan, argued that law on criminal trial of a corporation did not contemplate that a corporation or its representative should be in the dock, while the Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJA) Act, particularly Part 47, was very clear on how a trial should proceed in respect of a corporation.

“The Act also specifies all that is required for a representative in criminal trial in Sections 478 , 481, 482 and 483. So I align with my learner colleague that the representative is enough to be in court but does have to be in the dock,” he said.

Ideho, however disagreed, citing Section 481 of ACJA to back his argument, while adding: “If my lord is to look carefully at the provisions of this section and subsection, a representative cannot just sit in the gallery and watch like a spectator how the trial is conducted. He should be in the dock because this is a criminal charge not civil matter.”

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But, Krukrubo while jumping into the matter, argued that there was no where in the section cited by Ideho where it was said that a company’s representative must be in the dock, adding: Section 481 is written in black and white and it does not say that a representative of a corporation must be in dock. What he is saying is not contemplated by ACJA.”

When Nwite directed Ideho to move the latest application, the FIRS, lawyer, said: “We will like to amend and substitute the charge with the earlier one of May 17, 2024, which was our last amended charge my lord,” which neither Krukrubo, nor Caleb, opposed.

Subsequently, Caleb applied that the court should strike out the two earlier charges that listed his client, Gambaryan, as 2nd defendant, dated March 22 and the amended charge dated May 17, adding that Gambaryan should be discharged from the dock and from the proceedings in its entirety.

Nwite, before adjourning the matter to July 12 for pleas, granted the Federal Government’s request for the substitution of the June 13 amended charge for the May 17 one, set aside the earlier order, directing Gambaryan to be served on behalf of the company, and thereafter discharged him from the dock, while ordering parties to file written addresses as to whether Binance representative should be docked or not.

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NLNG signs agreement for new cooking gas vessel

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Shipping and Marine Services Limited (NSML), a subsidiary of the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) and Temile Development Company Limited on Tuesday, signed a Vessel Management Agreement (VMA) to provide comprehensive vessel technical management services for the new 23,000 cubic metre LPG vessel, LPG Alfred Temile 10.

At a ceremony in Abuja, NSML’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Abdulkadir Ahmed, and Temile’s Chief Executive Officer, Alfred Temile, signed the VMA at the event, witnessed by Adegboyega Oyetola, Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, represented by Ekanem Ogegere Celia, Deputy Director, Cabotage and Shipping; Felix Omatsola Ogbe, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board; Andy Odeh, General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development; Salihu Jamari, Chief Investment Officer, NNPC Gas & Power Investment Services, among others.

Speaking at the milestone event, NSML’s MD, Ahmed, emphasised that NSML will leverage its expertise and resources to ensure the safe, reliable, and efficient operation of the Alfred Temile 10. He stated that the relationship with Temile Development Company started with the delivery of the first LPG vessel – LPG Alfred Temile – to NLNG in 2020.

“The relationship grew and continued with the construction, supervision and delivery of the 2nd LPG Vessel – Alfred Temile 10 – to Nigeria in March 2024. This momentous occasion represents our shared commitment to excellence, safety, and innovation in the maritime industry. It also represents the tenacious can-do-spirit of Mr Alfred Temile who has grown his LPG vessel fleet within a span of four (4) years. The Alfed Temile 10 is a testament to our dedication to operating a modern, efficient, and environmentally responsible fleet. With its cutting-edge design and technology, this vessel will set a new standard for LPG transportation in Nigeria and the West Africa,” he said.

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Also speaking at the event, Mr. Temile, stressed that the new vessel will play a critical role in gas transportation in Nigeria, enhancing the company’s capacity to deliver high-quality services while adhering to the highest standards of safety and environmental stewardship.

“We are confident that this partnership will set a new benchmark in the industry, and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. As we embark on this new chapter, we also anticipate further strategic investment decisions including a third gas carrier later this year, demonstrating our commitment to deliver sustainable growth and value to our shareholders and Nigeria,” he added.

The keynote speaker, Engr. Felix Ogbe, commended NSML and Temile Development Company for partnering together. He stressed that there was ample human capacity, resources and tenacity in-country to achieve great feats, calling for increased colloboration and cooperation in the maritime industry.

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Presidency to get two new aircraft for Tinubu, Shettima

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President Bola Tinubu and Vice President, Kashim Shettima, would be cruising in brand new aircraft soon, going by the indications coming from the National Assembly, which has announced its approval to allow the acquisition of two of the flying birds for the Presidency.

The House of Representatives, which gave indications on Wednesday, explained that the need to acquire the aircrafts was to ensure maximum security for the President and his deputy, as part of its findings after an audit of the presidential fleet currently serving the two principal officers of the nation.

The House relying on the recommendations of its committee on National Security and Intelligence, said: “The committee is of the strong and informed opinion that considering the fragile structure of the Nigerian federation and recognising the dire consequences of any foreseen or unforeseen mishap that may arise as a result of technical/operational inadequacy of the presidential air fleet, it is in the best interest of the country to procure two additional aircraft as recommended.

“This will also prove to be most cost-efficient in the long run apart from the added advantage of providing a suitable, comfortable and safe carrier befitting of the status and responsibilities of the office of the president and vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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The investigation, which was sequel to the inability of the VP to travel with his aircraft in May this year owing to technical faults, was instigated by a motion by Satomi Ahmed, member from Jere Federal Constituency of Borno State, who had raised an alarm over the matter, on the floor of the House, leading to a comprehensive investigation being ordered by the members.

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Despite the heated debates over the matter, with some lawmakers, who were uncomfortable with the suggestion, citing the current poor economic situation in the country, urging the Tinubu and Shettima to use commercial aircrafts of travel by road, Ahmed explained that the proposal remained the best solution at the moment.

The committee had met the commanders of the Presidential fleet, when Shettima, was forced to use a chartered plane from the Netherlands to Saudi Arabia during his recent trip abroad, after initially cancelling a trip to the US to represent Tinubu at the 2024 US-Africa business summit.

Ahmed, who told reporters on Wednesday that the committee would set up a technical committee to interface with the officials at the presidential air fleet and come up with a resolution.

Reports say the six aircraft currently in the Presidential fleet, include one Boeing 737 (19 years old, currently unserviceable and undergoing maintenance); one Gulfstream G550 (13 years old, in good condition), one Gulfstream GV (23 years old, unserviceable); two Falcon 7Xs (one serviceable, one unserviceable); and one Challenger CL605 (12 years old, serviceable).

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The helicopter fleet includes two Agusta 139s (17 and 18 years old, both unserviceable); four Agusta 189s (no information on their condition).

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