Tuesday, 22 June 2010

President Goodluck Jonathan’s 10 Billion-Naira ‘Owambe’ Party.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s 10 Billion-Naira ‘Owambe’ Party.

Madam Dora Akunyili and her colleagues in government have come to the conclusion that Nigerians are zombies who would take everything that comes out of the mouth of government officials hook line and sinker.

Here is a brief background. The government of President Goodluck Jonathan sent a budget proposal of 10 billion Naira to the Nigerian National Assembly. The money is not for the maintenance of roads or to equip hospitals in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, neither is any significant portion of it to help the underprivileged or the educational sector - it is a budget meant for the celebration of Nigeria ’s 50th Independence anniversary on the 1st of October 2010.

In the world of President Jonathan and the unwise men and women who seat in council chambers of the federal executive, all is so well with Nigeria that we can afford to flush money down the toilet or simply throw it in river Niger and let it flow through the length and breadth of the river bank.

Well, we may all blame the presidency for the outrageous budget but is the presidency not a reflection of the culture of waste, noise, idiocy and extravagance that is part and parcel of our psyche in Nigeria? A larger proportion of the Nigerian middle class would spend money to bury and re-bury a departed relative; they would not hesitate to overindulge in a naming ceremony or 50th birthday celebration.

Do not even let us get started on weddings! We always have an excuse to celebrate and squander money. Our priorities are not well laid out. We reward hard work with disdain and corrupt people with accolades and national honours as we fancy. Why blame the federal government, are we not as guilty as those in Abuja? I have been informed that some members of the civil society are queuing up for a share of the 10 billion naira windfall, attending Dora Akunyuli’s consultative meetings, event managers have relocated to Abuja and very soon importers of the famous This day Dome will be smiling to the bank, Hurray we will be creating new millionaires and thanks giving in Church will sky rocket.

Do we ever reflect? Ask ourselves ‘do I really need that third car? Do I need the 4th mobile phone? Must I take that weekend trip to Dubai just to gather more gold and trinkets? Do I need to spoil my child with another designer outfit though I bought them one less than 4 weeks ago? So many questions we refuse to ask ourselves and it is that thoughtless way of spending that is reflective in those who govern us.

As we spend and waste money, we are “blessed” with millions who starve, hardworking Nigerians who live on under $1 a day, did we not see the BBC programme welcome to Lagos? Cant the presidency listen and take it home that we have nothing to celebrate?

So President Goodluck Jonathan and his fellow travellers are still amazed at our disdain and reaction for wanting to give Mrs. Patience Goodluck Jonathan 50 million naira to visit special homes, orphanages, prisons, and selected hospitals. 20 million naira to organise a party for 1,000 children who will probably be sons and daughters of those in public service, and guess what, Madam Dora Akunyili’s Ministry of Information and Communications gets N1.2 billion naira for the “insertion of special reports on Nigeria in both local and international media” Another N320 million naira will be spent on jingles, adverts, billboards, documentary and publicity.

No wonder Dora came out in her disgrace of a press conference to defend the 10 billion scandalous budget and lay the blame on late President Musa Umaru Yar’Adua. Even if it was Yar’Adua who gave the approval for the outrageous budget, is he holding the hands of Goodluck from reviewing it and coming out with something austere and reflective of the current financial crisis we find ourselves? Did the Goodluck government not just apply for a $915m loan from the World Bank?

Granted the terms of the loan may be good but the reason for the cynicism is that in Nigeria, ‘loans’ tend to disappear with little to show in the form of development of social benefits! It is in Nigeria you see hospitals commissioned without staff or services in place, half finished roads ‘opened’ by the president, and numerous abandoned projects. Why would we be optimistic about ‘new’ loans? Dora should save us all the hue and cry about cabals being responsible for everything going wrong in the current government - Nigerians resisted the cabal, Goodluck is the president now, he must demonstrate transparency and stop every effort to scandalise his government.

Do we have human beings in government at all? Do they think the way we think? Are they aliens from an unknown planet? The Goodluck presidency had better think twice and send the 10 billion-naira budget to a well deserved graveyard. We know politicians are desperate to raise funds for the 2011 election but do we also have to pay for them to further send Nigerians to the land of no return?

As for the members of the civil society who seat in “consultative forums” towards the planning and so called successful hosting of a 50 years jubilee celebration, every kobo you collect to partake in the fraud make you as culpable as those who send the budget to the National Assembly.

The 50 years golden jubilee should be a moment for sober reflection and not an opportunity for the presidency to create jobs for the boys and girls and make new millionaires of friends, concubines, relatives and political associates. The proposal as published below is a shame and out of order. Mr Goodluck Jonathan, Nigerians are running out of patience and you may soon lose all the goodwill. A word can only be good for a listening President.

Itemised 10 billion naira Budget Proposal for 50 years celebration.

1. Anniversary parade including march past, fleet review and aerial display - N950 million.
2. National unity torch tour - N350 million.
Special visit to special homes, orphanages, prisons and hospitals - N50 million
3. Special session of the National Children Parliament - N20 million
4. Party for 1000 children - N20 million
5. Presidential banquet - N40 million
6. Calisthenics performance - N50 million
7. Cultural, historical and military exhibitions N310 million
8. Food week - N40 million
9. Secretariat equipment, accommodation, logistics and utilities - N320 million
10. Designing and unveiling of the 50th anniversary logo - N30 million
11. Special reports on Nigeria in both local and international media - N1.2 billion
12. Jingles, adverts, billboards, documentary and publicity - N320 million
13. Accommodation and Transportation of guests - N700 million
14. Production of branded souvenirs and gift items for foreign heads of state and erection of a coat of arms on Aso Rock - N450 million
15. Variety gala night and fireworks - N210 million
16. International friendly football match and local competition - N200 million
17. Event managers and producers - N120 million naira.
18. Designing and publication of a compendium on Nigeria - N400 million,
19. Compendium on the legislature - N150 million
20. Compendium on the judiciary - N50 million.
21. Commissioning of the golden jubilee plaza - N10 million naira;
22. Designing, construction and mounting of Tower of Unity in the 36 states of the Federation - N540 million.
23. Debates, essays, conferences, lectures, and a colloquium - N150 million;
24. Musical concerts and carnivals in the 6 geo-political zones - N60 million;
25. Durbar, masquerades and cultural dances - N100 million and
26. Designing and construction of 10 monuments of the founding fathers - N80 million.
27. A memory stone at the Tafawa Balewa Square , Lagos will consume - N40 million,
28. Security and protocol - N500 million
29. Medicals - N25 million
30. Miscellaneous - N105 Million.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Still On June 12 And Letter To Mko Abiola Written by Kayode Ogundamisi

I phoned my dad, Joseph Ogundamisi, last night and I have been speaking with him for the past few days. He got to heaven two years before you were killed. I have been trying to get your phone number from him but he never liked you when he was alive.

He always called you “the one who sold out the Yorubas to the ‘Gambaris’” – referring to the role you played during the UPN/NPN saga. Daddy held Chief Obafemi Awolowo in high esteem and to a fault. In his opinion, Awo could do no wrong. He refused to discuss you. He, however, grudgingly gave me your address in heaven. I am glad you made it to the right place – in the bosom of Allah’s protection.

Bashorun, my first one on one meeting with you was at the University of Jos. I was then a blazing Secetary General of the student’s union government and led the then more than 13,000 strong vibrant, militant students of the university to oppose the conferment of an honorary doctorate awarded to you by the University of Jos establishment.

On the day of the convocation, I confronted you at the Naraguta convocation ground presenting 10 reasons why we did not want you on our campus. You never lost your composure; you did not wrestle the microphone from my hand (unlike General Olusegun Obasanjo who as president of Nigeria snatched the microphone from Oronto Douglas, then Niger delta environmental activist and threatened to get him locked up). You listened to us as we stated our position and acknowledged some mistakes but you also blamed us for misunderstanding you. We afterwards met with you and we, Unijos students, later saw a different side of you. The philanthropy, the compassion towards indigent students and a will to partner for the progress of Unijos.

I remember the last time I saw you – it was a meeting you had with Yoruba youth leaders shortly before your kidnap by the government. We told you in that meeting we could resist your arrest through civil disobedience. We warned you might not come back alive but you said, “struggle but no blood”. Your loyalists then vowed to bring the world down if you were harmed much less killed! Today, they are elected representatives of June 12, but sadly they have deserted the principles of June.

The man who told the world you are not the messiah is now the Godfather of Nigerian politics. He installed a sick man as president, done with that, and he now decides who becomes what in Nigeria. In fact he’s got the current presidency under his spell. Well, I should also say we managed to get some of your loyalists to the national assembly but not one of them is interested in June 12.

Before your demise, we stood on June 12. Chief, on June 12 we now chop, on June 12 we wine and dine, on June 12 we loot and on June 12 we betray the collective will of our people of having a truly federal Nigeria.

Today, they no longer talk of true federalism or hope for the poor, the poverty level in Nigeria is unimaginable. The poverty you experienced as a child, the tale of poverty you loved to talk about is luxury compared to what Nigerians go through today. Oh, lest I forget, your wonder loaf bakery is gone, Concord airline is dead, and concord newspaper was buried long ago. Abiola bookshop is terminally ill just like a host of every other indigenous business enterprises that are dying by the day. But the South-Africans are smiling to the bank though, to foreign banks that is.

It’s not all bad news! Dele Momodu, your boy, has really achieved a lot. He has got Ovation magazine although it is being used as platform where most of those who looted our national treasury now display their stolen wealth. He even gave us the opportunity to see Abacha’s massive bedroom and swimming pool and now he aspires to be the President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

Chief, your dream of eradicating poverty remains that – a dream. Our party, the AD is dead, the only alliance left is that of self-destruct. Well not really we have the AC, not that it is so different from the PDP, but at least it is a little bit to the left. Oh! Did I tell you we also got rid of Ayo Opadokun and that we have no leader – almost, and Pa Adesanya is gone.

I am sure you must have come across Chief Bola Ige and Tunde Idiagbon during one of your walks over yonder. As you would have noticed, the list of Yoruba leaders killed after your demise tripled.

Well chief, let us talk some more about the activities of your “loyalists” after your death.

Thanks to your sacrifice, your “loyalists” captured the southwest “on behalf of June 12 and the Yorubas” (even though you never really cared for a Yoruba struggle).

Chief, all we have is an annual jamboree in your honour on June 12. It is a day commissioners, local government heads and others use as an opportunity to loot the treasury of the Yoruba. We sing, dance and cry for you on the day. Everything ends there.

On 12 June, we make sure we say hello to Hafsat (the one I refer to as the true you -a good fighter) and or Jamiu, or Kola if he is not too busy hobnobbing with the Abachas and the Babangidas.

After the jamboree, it is business as usual. June 12 dies on the day of the celebrations. Many newspapers write previews and reviews and that is where it ends.

Oh Chief! You remember that group that provided security for you when you declared yourself President? We were nameless, but we later transformed to what is called the Oodua Peoples Congress. I must tell you I became the secretary general of the O.P.C and with time moved on.

Well, you must be wondering why things have got so bad. Do not wonder too much chief; things had never really been good to start with. You and our past leaders missed the point when you felt it was okay to mix fire and water : A sovereign National Conference should have been the only option to balance the imbalance in the Nigerian federation and put a stop to the re-emergence of another June 12.

I beg you chief to help tell God to come to the aid of Nigeria as we do not have a messiah and the future looks bleak as the country engages in a macabre dance. People still continue to loot, chop and betray the collective will of all of us every day and on June 12 of every calendar year.

Rest in peace, Bashorun. May your blood and the blood of all those that died as a result of the annulment of June 12 elections by that evil friend of yours Ibrahim Babadamasi Babangida never have been spilt in vain.



Thursday, 10 June 2010

I witnessed the Ibori Girls go to Jail

I witnessed the Ibori Girls go to Jail

Written by Kayode Ogundamisi

I woke up morning of Monday 7th June 2010 to my alarm clock. I literarily flew out of bed. I really wanted the day to start.

I was going to be at the Southwark Crown Court. I was going to witness the sentencing of James Ibori’s sister, Christine Ibori-Ibie and mistress, Udoamaka Okoronkwo Onuigbo I had together with a few of my friends been following the progression of the case and had joined other Nigerians in fighting James Ibori’s well-oiled propaganda machine. Not just that, Nigerians in the United Kingdom had countered Ibori’s ‘rent a crowd’ method by taking time off work on several occasions to attend court sessions, report on and analyse the case. Some had even been bullied in court by thugs.

In the early stages of the trial, I had overheard two Nigerians discussing an incident in an elevator. They had shared an elevator with some other people who they were asking impatiently when the trial would end as they were looking forward to their next shopping spree. They were obviously relatives of one of the accused persons.

I also remembered on another occasion the mistress strutting like a peacock outside court premises like she was on a fashion parade showing off expensive jewellery in her own words ‘this is Gucci’ and that one, ‘that is Versace, customised’. They had come in a customised Mercedes Benz jeep. I feel certain they felt they were ‘untouchable’ back then, but I knew better, this was England – not Nigeria.

Deep inside of me I thought of the power these elements held in Nigeria. I thought of the colossal amount of wealth at their disposal and thought of their influence on the international scene. I remembered Tony Baldry lobbying top UK govt officials on their behalf and for a moment I feared justice would not be served, but then I remembered the spirited efforts of Nigerian organisations to get the letter into the public domain, the state of the nation and Delta state in itself and banished the thought quickly. The arrogance of the women enraged me and I made up m mind, I would join other Nigerians in the UK and elsewhere who were also in the quest for justice to ensure they do not go scot-free.

This case had already revealed the amazing spirit of Nigerians, especially the influence of social networking sites. A large portion of the work that had gone into this case was as a result of the contribution of ordinary Nigerians - busy, in the working class. The most impressive aspect was their simplicity and reluctance for recognition or take any credit for work done. One particular gentleman readily came to mind. He had made it a point of duty to attend court intermittently and sent independent reports as needed. There were others - a lady who is a student in London, another lady whose short-hand skill became invaluable in getting the transcripts in court out and others too numerous to mention.

To fight James Ibori’s money machine, we needed the spirited efforts of Nigerians and although some fell on the way side, these Nigerians remained focussed and stood with extra strength against attempts to thwart their efforts with the use of divisive tactics.

Sitting in the public galley, the now convicted persons looked a lot less self-assured than at the beginning of the trial. Now they could not even meet my gaze! All through earlier sessions, all they had were dirty looks for anyone they perceived was the enemy.

During the defence pleas for leniency, by the time the mistress’ counsel finished, I had started to believe the woman would get off with a lighter sentence. A sorry picture was painted of her helplessness in the matter because she had given her heart to the wrong man.

I also could not believe the change in demeanour of the convicts. I nearly felt sorry for them. You had to be there to understand. However, my compassion for them was quickly overshadowed by thoughts of sorry state Nigeria is in and the deprivation of the people of Delta State of the basic needs of life. My feelings were replaced by subdued triumph.

I marvelled at the turnout by Nigerians. I recognised a lot of them and it was amazing how most had met had been friends on social networking sites and Sahara Reporters news updates.

I was really impressed with the judge, Christopher Hardy. The sentencing was meant to have taken place at Court Room 8, but had got filled up in minutes. He then graciously moved us to the larger Courtroom 9, which also got filled up equally quickly. He finally moved us to the largest courtroom complex - Room 1. We all dashed two floors down and in a twinkle of an eye the room was filled to the brim with people standing outside. They crowded round the door trying to catch a glimpse of proceedings. The courtroom was indeed packed. It was interesting to note court personnel that worked in the same building standing outside with other Nigerians wanting to catch a glimpse as well.

Then the words of the defence lawyer Andrew Trollope QC “You should ask why such a woman with a good back family background in this crime. The answer is James Ibori and it is he that must bear fullresponsibility.“

Those words hit me, so even the Ibori girls now admit Ibori is a common criminal? And as if that was not enough Udoamaka’s defence counsel added his own twist. “my client did it for love”

Over 40 million pounds?

I could not wait for the Judge Hardy to have his say and when he did had his say, it came in sweet lyrics. On nigeria? He implied

“Countries who are signatories to fighting corruption and money laundering must live to the full letter of their commitments.” And then

“I would therefore apply the full weight of the British law to serve as punishment and deterrent. The jury was satisfied that you were connected to the assets that were spread all over the world including safe havens. Each of you benefited massively. You are not simply agents. Who knows how much you are still hiding?“ and he passed a reward of 5 years jail term to the Ibori girls, I just witnessed history, the Ibori girls going to jail and away from the mafia country, no more Asaba Judge to ubstruct the course of justice and no EFCC to file dim-wit charges and no King Ibori to put a phone call to the President. It was victory for the people of the Delta and for Nigerians in a United Kingdom court. I wont forget Court 8,9 and 1.

Finally, people started streaming out of the courtroom. The court session had to be over. I noticed one of my compatriot dash pass me and screaming ‘5years each’. The jubilation amongst Nigerians was apparent – it was like the super eagles had brought home the world cup! No more Gucci stunts or Vivendi designer blings, Nigerian justice had been served in a British Court. We are not complaining - Half justice is better than No justice!