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On June 12 We Stand, by Reuben Abati

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It is ironic that it had to take a member of the military establishment now turned democrat, that is General, now President Muhammadu Buhari for June 12 to be accorded its pride of place in the socio-political calendar of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Before now, the recognition/celebration of June 12 as a watershed in Nigerian history had been observed majorly by the states of the South West of Nigeria, thus making its symbolism and significance a restricted and ethnic referent. But that has changed, thanks to President Buhari. His decision to declare June 12 a national holiday, his award of a post-humous honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic to Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola and the subsequent amendment of the Public Holidays Act to accommodate June 12 as a Federal holiday is a welcome development. President Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) had pointedly ignored all entreaties for his administration to take the same step.
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (2007 – 2010) did not address the June 12 issue. President Goodluck Jonathan (2010 – 2015) had taken steps to immortalize MKO Abiola when he decided to name the University of Lagos after the late icon of democracy, but the staff, students and the alumni of the University rejected this, as they insisted that the name University of Lagos must not be changed. The Jonathan administration would later recognize Chief MKO Abiola as one of the major Nigerians of the 20thcentury. That administration also considered giving Chief MKO Abiola a post-humous national award, but the then President was advised against doing so on the grounds that national honours in Nigeria are never given post-humously. Obviously, the controversy over the re-naming of the University of Lagos was so overwhelming, President Jonathan chose to listen to the Justice Alfa Belgore-led committee on national honours.
Whereas all other Presidents before him failed to make a statement with June 12, President Muhammadu Buhari has now chosen to do so. Tomorrow, all Nigerians will observe June 12 as a national holiday. It will be the first time that this will happen. This should lay to rest all the conspiracies and the revisionism involved in the attempt to reduce June 12 to a narrow, ethnic event, which it is not. The recognition of June 12 as a special national event would be one of those developments for which President Buhari will be positively remembered. It is again ironic that 26 years after, it took another member of the military elite to correct the problem caused by the military. It has taken President Buhari to correct the error committed by General Ibrahim Babangida and his group on June 23, 1993 when they chose to annul the Presidential election held in Nigeria on June 12, 1993. That unwise decision became General Babangida’s Achillee’s heel, and the ugly thing around his neck.
General Babangida or IBB as he is fondly known, could have ended up as one of Nigeria’s greats, given the performance of his government, but what is now remembered as his legacy, despite the best efforts of his biographers and PR managers, is that singular negative act, his violation of the people’s sovereignty.  President Buhari is now being lauded for the courageous manner in which he has taken Nigeria beyond the denial and conspiracy foisted on the people by both the military and a segment of the professional political class. We look forward to what President Muhammadu Buhari would say to Nigerians and the international community, tomorrow, June 12. His speech writers have a good opportunity to put words in his mouth that can reverberate like the claps of thunder. They must not waste that opportunity with their sleepy prose. President Buhari should have a word for those who have kept this country down by perpetually denying the truth and turning back the hands of the country’s clock. He should take credit appropriately for the wise decision that he has taken on the matter of June 12.
I remember June 12, 1993, as clearly as if it happened only yesterday. On that day, Nigerians trooped out en masse to make a choice between the Presidential candidates of two political parties, Bashorun MKO Abiola of the Social Democratic Party and Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention. General Ibrahim Babangida was military President, ruling the country with his Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and finally getting to the final stage of a slow-moving democratic transition programme. By 1993, Nigerians were already tired of military rule and particularly of the Babangida government which seemed to have mastered the art of deception.
The people wanted the military out of the way, to allow a return to civilian rule, which had been truncated by the military at regular intervals since independence in 1960. On that day, Nigerians voted massively for the Social Democratic Party and its candidate, Bashorun MKO Abiola (8, 341, 309 million votes – 58.36%). The NRC candidate, Bashir Tofa came second (5, 952, 087 million votes – 41.64%). This was an election in which neither religion nor ethnicity – two major dividing factors in Nigeria was an issue. MKO Abiola, a Southerner got as much support in the North as he did in the South, even beating his rival, Bashir Tofa in his home state of Kano. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) was headed by political science Professor, Humphrey Nwosu. As the results were collated, it was clear that MKO Abiola (SDP) was leading in 19 states, with Bashir Tofa (NRC) winning in 11 states. On June 16 however, NEC announced that it would no longer announce the results “until further notice”.  Civil society and pro-democracy protesters objected to this. It had been a free and fair election, the most peaceful that Nigeria had ever known. On June 23, 1993, the Babangida government annulled the election and suspended the Electoral Commission. The NEC Chairman, Humphrey Nwosu went underground and became incommunicado. Bashorun MKO Abiola claimed victory. The people demanded that their will as expressed on June 12, 1993 should be respected and that the results of the election should be declared.
The refusal of the military establishment brought it into direct collision with the people and the international community. June 12 became a catalyst for much that would happen to Nigeria. The crisis escalated so quickly,  General Ibrahim Babangida known then as the “evil genius” had to “step aside” as President of Nigeria. He put in place as he left, an Interim National Government led by UAC chief, Ernest Shonekan with General Sani Abacha as Defence Chief. That ING survived for only 83 days. General Sani Abacha, a veteran of military coups in Nigeria, pushed aside the ING and its Head and proclaimed himself Head of State. To put it as it was, hell broke loose. Civil society became tempestuous.
Concerned Professionals, Concerned Democrats, Progressives, voices of reason in Nigeria across all divides, the church, market women, every one with a voice, took to the streets to say: “Never Again to military rule.” The general consensus was that the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election was after all a subterfuge by the military to remain in power and that IBB had played a “Maradona” game against Nigerians. “On June 12 we stand”, the people proclaimed and they took to the barricades. The diplomatic community even joined the protests, with the likes of US Ambassador Walter Carrington, leading the charge on the diplomatic front.  The Abacha government was bound to fail. It died a-borning. It descended on Nigeria’s civil society and the progressive camp, and as Nigeria began to witness the worst form of dictatorship since 1960, the people fought back. And Abacha fought back. Not even newly born babies were spared. Journalists were special targets: those who were not hauled into prison, were made to flee abroad, or go underground. Those were the days of guerilla journalism in Nigeria. The people at home fought, those abroad set up a short wave radio, Radio Kudirat which reported Abacha to the world. In due course, Nigeria became a pariah nation.
Three major events made this happen: the first is the declaration by Chief MKO Abiola of his due right to the mandate that Nigerians gave him on June 12, 1993. On June 11, 1994, Chief MKO Abiola in the Epetedo area of Lagos declared himself the democratically elected President of Nigeria. That speech is now known as the Epetedo Declaration. It should be widely circulated tomorrow, June 12 and on every June 12 henceforth, for it has become one of the landmark speeches in the mapping of Nigerian history, and the trajectory of our country’s democratic evolution. I am tempted to quote from that eminently quotable speech but I recall that it was in that speech that the phrase “Enough is Enough” was first pronounced as a revolutionary call to action. Abiola said: “Today, I join you all in saying Enough is Enough! We have endured 24 years of military rule in our 34 years of independence.…Enough of military rule…” And he went on and on.…
The Epetedo Declaration became another catalyst for the Nigerian Spring! It was a call to action. The people responded. Abiola was arrested by the Abacha junta but the genie had left the bottle. The people of Nigeria heard Abiola: “Enough is Enough” and they too responded: “Never Again to military rule”. Second event: On November 10, 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa, a writer and internationally renowned environmental rights activist was hanged by the Abacha administration. Third event: On June 9, 1996, Abiola’s wife, Kudirat was assassinated by Abacha’s killer squad. There were attempts on the lives of key pro-democracy activists as well including Chief Alfred Rewane who was murdered, and Chief Abraham Adesanya who survived. Journalists were murdered. It was as if at the Epetedo Declaration,  Abiola had placed a curse on General Abacha. Nigeria suffered but the people wanted an end to it all. On June 8, 1998, General Sani Abacha died. There was dancing in the streets. But as it happened, Chief Abiola also died, in very suspicious circumstances, while still in detention, on July 7, 1998. By then, General Abdusalami Abubakar had succeeded General Abacha as military Head of State. Nigerians still didn’t give up. They wanted democracy. They wanted to be liberated from the shackles of military autocracy.  On May 29, 1999, their will prevailed. General Olusegun Obasanjo who had also been framed and jailed by the Abacha government became Nigeria’s civilian president after all the turmoil.
It is sad that those who have benefitted most from the June 12 debacle have been the most desperate in denying the value and symbolism of that date and what happened therein. June 12 was a turning point for Nigeria as the foregoing narrative indicates, and it became, in its trajectory, the catalyst for Nigeria’s second liberation, that is liberation from internal colonialists, but as things stand 26 years later, we may still need to construct a strategy for a third liberation: liberation from the rent collectors who seem to have resolved that Nigeria’s progress is a threat to their own interests. By declaring June 12 a national public holiday, President Buhari has given us all an opportunity to reflect, to think and to remember. In a country where memory is short, people don’t like to think, and state institutions are constructed to erase memory, the teaching of history was even at a point “outlawed”, now it is taught as an optional subject, it is a good thing that President Buhari in making June 12 a national holiday has given us all an opportunity to do what we do not like to do in this country: to think, reflect and remember.  June 12 is an idea that cannot be ignored. It is about national unity. On that day in 1993, we saw that it is possible for Nigerians, “though tongue and tribe may differ” to unite around an idea. June 12 is a philosophy, a way of thinking by a people who resolved at a critical moment in their lives to move forward. The evil agents in the military tried to block that and suppress the people’s sovereignty, but tomorrow, the point shall be made that the truth is indestructible! We hope that there will be celebration in every state of the Federation.
The story of June 12 has inspired a bibliography that should be promoted. Indeed, apart from the civil war, it is probably the most dramatic and telling incident in post-colonial Nigeria. I have been privileged to read many of the books, which I recommend to the reading public. They include, not necessarily in any order of importance, Abraham Oshoko,June12: The Struggle for Power in Nigeria, Abraham Oshoko, June 12: The Annulment; Frank Kokori,The Struggle for June 12,Omo Omoruyi,The Tale of June 12: The Betrayal of the Democratic Rights of Nigerians;Humphrey Nwosu, Laying the Foundations for Nigeria’s Democracy: My Account of June 12, 1993 Presidential election and its annulment;  Wale Oshun,Clapping With One Hand; Wale Oshun,Open Grave; and Wale Oshun, Kiss of Death; Kayode Fayemi,Out of the Shadows: Exile and the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy in Nigeria;Joe Igbokwe, Heroes of Democracy;  and Wole Soyinka,The Open Sore of a Continent. These works represent in varying degrees, the literature of resistance against military rule in Nigeria.
The revisionists led by General Ibrahim Babangida have tried to rewrite and revise the same story (there would have been a coup if the result was allowed (!), a cabal within the military didn’t want Abiola, it was an unfortunate incident… story…); see:  their narrative is not selling. On June 12 we stand! I have also heard some people express the view that the Buhari government should go a step further and formally announce the results of the June 12, 1993 election and thereafter declare Chief Abiola the rightful winner of that election. I disagree. The June 12, 1993 process having been inchoate and the beneficiary dead, such a declaration will have no probative value. For me, what has been done serves the purpose. It would all have been better though, if June 12 had been declared MKO Abiola’s Day. He was the symbol, the rallying point, the icon of Nigeria’s second liberation in whom is fully embodied the essence of the struggle from June 12,1993 to May 29, 1999. But have we learnt any lessons from June 12?  Sadly, I don’t think so.

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COLUMNISTS

GODSWILL AKPABIO: The Count Down

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(Part 1)

  1. Introduction

Godswill Akpabio, Hon. Minister, Niger Delta Affairs has dominated the news so far in 2020 for all the wrong reasons. The Corona Virus Pandemic is only slightly ahead for obvious reasons. Why has Akpabio been so controversial? Indeed, the President deserves an international award for his uncommon patience with Akpabio given all the embarrassment caused to his administration. Of all the Ministers in Buhari’s Cabinet, Akpabio stands out like a sore thumb and is currently tasking the President’s restraint. Why is decorum so difficult for him to maintain? In the recent past, he operated as Lord and Master; oppressing the Akwa Ibom people mercilessly and absolutely without question.

 

A simple matter of constituting a new Board for the NDDC was made to look impossible to achieve. The President of Nigeria forwarded names to the Senate for approval as required by law. The names were duly approved. Then Akpabio came up with this whole idea of Interim Management Council! Why was it considered impossible for the Senate-approved Board to undertake the Forensic Audit? Okay, this had been overtaken by events? The first IMC prepared grounds for the Forensic Audit. Then the Acting Managing Director, Dr. Joi Nunieh was sacked for reasons now emerging as her refusal to accept juju oath-taking! The new IMC headed by a Professor and former classmate of the Honourable Minister is in charge now. He also fortified the IMC with the addition of two persons, thus making it appear as though Dr. Nunieh was not the issue but the need to expand and be more representative. How has that helped accountability? There is the issue of US$200 Million left in the Dollar Account of the NDDC y the Nunieh led IMC. It has been depleted now. Then there is the perennial issue of the Headquarters Building. Some N16 Billion has further been spent against Government regulations. Again N40 Billion is reported to have been spent on unauthorised disbursements! And then, as if to tender some defence, the new IMC claims to have spent N22 Billion as against the N40 Billion alleged. What a defence?

 

  1. Questions

The IMC was designed to prepare grounds for Forensic Audit and then quit. Technically speaking, having transmitted the relevant documents to the Auditors, the IMC ought to have been dissolved and a permanent, independent Board sworn in. Some of the questions now begging for answers are:

 

  1. a) What difference does it make if the NDDC-IMC spent (misappropriated) N22 Billion Naira in 3 months and not N200 Billion? How does that exculpate the IMC from the allegations of irregular selective payments for jobs not cleared by the Forensic Audits? Is it not shameful that while the Minister goaded the IMC to make selective payments for jobs not cleared by the forensic audit, it failed to meet recurrent obligations to students on NDDC scholarships in foreign institutions?

 

  1. b) Is it not an affront to the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari Administration for the IMC to have made selective payments for the NDDC Headquarters building, supply of Lassa Fever kits, etc. when these projects had not passed through the integrity test of the forensic audit?

 

  1. c) The directive of the Minister that substantial payments be made, including the payment of N22 Billion conceded by the management, for whatever purpose for jobs not cleared for payment by the Forensic Report; does it not compromise the outcome of the Audit and undermine the authority of the President over this Minister?

 

  1. d) The Audit process, having been sabotaged by the Minister and the IMC and caused embarrassment to the President and the National Assembly, what measure of punishment does the Minister deserve in the circumstance?

 

  1. e) In the light of the Minister’s implication in some of the contracts, whether it makes sense to insist that he should continue to supervise the project?

 

  1. f) Concomitantly, whether the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should continue his perceived policy of restraint in the face of this barbaric rape of the NDDC, the only interventionist hope of the Niger Delta Region till, what now amounts to eternity?

 

  1. 3. The Essential Akpabio

Akpabio is a very ambitious person. He had shown ambition from his days in Secondary School. In the University of Calabar where he read Law, he showed promise as the Speaker of the Students Union Parliament. He leveraged on all these in his Political career. He is also a Schemer of dangerous proportions. He would identify his target and eliminate every obstacle to that achievement. He would use Machiavellian tactics to arrive at his destination. He has always had the ambition to become the President of Nigeria. Some of his buildings in Uyo, Lagos and Abuja are fashioned to evoke prestige, in his quest to become the President of Nigeria. From those who have worked very closely with him, he is intellectually lazy and acts on impulse. His miscalculations are always disastrous. He has no stamina for long suffering, independent project conception or any long term planning. His quest for gratification and vain-glory is legendary. How else does anyone rationalise the fact that he is the only Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with a Chief of Staff, just like the President? Even the Vice President has no Chief of Staff! Upon the demise of Abba Kyari to the dreaded Corona Virus, Akpabio flew a kite. Dubious publications emerged from all corners of the Social Media suggesting or in some cases nominating Akpabio to succeed the late Chief of Staff to the President. He overrated himself! He does not believe anybody else exists. He recoiled under the backlash. His Social Media boys changed tactics and abandoned the inglorious campaign. His close associates are steadfast and insist that he will still take a shot at the Presidency but would settle for the Vice Presidency in the hope that an opening by some providence, might open for him to emerge as the President. Surely, he needs money for the endeavour. Who does not know that it costs billions of Naira to get close to the Presidency?

 

  1. Some Insights

Akpabio’s idol was Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Of course for the wrong reasons! Tinubu is well known to be a builder. He is loved by his people for his peculiar Human Capital Development. Tinubu has produced a few Governors in Lagos and elsewhere. His foundation membership of the APC, long-suffering and influence in the Party is respected. Akpabio is a Gate-Crasher to both the PDP and the APC. He reigned as Emperor of Akwa Ibom and installed Governor Udom in spite of the violence that characterised the 2015 General Elections. He expected Udom to kotow to him in every respect and thereby compromise good governance. Udom disappointed him there and is the source of the unending friction between him and the Akwa Ibom State Governor. Akpabio’s appointment as a Minister was God-sent. His means of vain-glory and ostentatious living was almost extinct.

 

Akpabio’s penchant for scandalous upward revision of contracts is legendary. He started what is now a monumental waste of Akwa Ibom State resources in the name of The Tropicana Project. The project was originally estimated to cost N33 Billion. As at 2012, He had revised it upwards to a whopping N120 Billion! He knew all along that the project was a white elephant conduit pipe never intended for delivery. He awarded the contract to an entertainment company with no engineering experience.

 

  1. Lamentations of Akwa Ibom People

It is heart-warming that some Akwa Ibom persons and groups have lent their voices against the embarrassment caused by Akpabio to our dear Akwa Ibom State and the Federal Government. Is he the only Minister? Akwa Ibom people have been thoroughly humiliated by the financial improprieties discovered under his watch at the NDDC. The impression was already being spread that the scrutiny of the interventionist agency was being masterminded by non Akwa Ibom persons and groups solely to insult the Akwa Ibomites. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the sponsored articles by persons and groups affiliated to Akpabio make that suggestion. Some even imagine that Akpabio is the only Minister that can reasonably emanate from Akwa Ibom State. What insult! We have had Ministers from Akwa Ibom in the past and they made us proud. There is nothing sacrosanct about Akpabio and his office. There are fantastic materials from which the President can make his choice of Minister from Akwa Ibom State and they will deliver.

 

  1. Proclivity for Violence

This subject has become imperative in the light of Dr Nunieh’s personal safety alarm raised specifically to the Inspector General of Police. She warned that Akpabio should be held responsible in the event of any danger to her person. This should not be discounted as pedantry. There is a frightening pedigree. What is more, the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA) had issued a warning by their publications of the 7th May, 2020 to all those distracting Akpabio from his ministerial role to steer clear or continue at their peril. The threat did not go unnoticed. Akpabio was Governor of Akwa Ibom State from 2007-2015 (8 years). Under his watch as the Chief Security Officer of the State, it was pure hell. The following scenarios played out:

 

  1. a) Senator John Udoedehe. He contested the Governorship elections in 2011 under the ACN against Governor Akpabio. He was one of the first victims of Political intolerance. So many of his supporters were hounded down and killed in Uyo and Ikot Ekpene where he had gone for his rallies. He was subsequently arrested in Abuja and arraigned at the FCT High Court on trumped up charges. These facts are in the public domain and available on the internet.

 

  1. b) Chief Sunny Udom, the Director-General of the APC Governorship aspirant in Akwa Ibom State, Hon. Umana Okon Umana was the target of political assassination in his office. He held a press conference on Thursday the 8th May, 2014 in which he highlighted the fact that one of the assassins lost a finger in the process of indiscriminate gun shots. Some security agencies to which the incident was reported had dismissed the report as mere armed robbery by the local Police. There was no condemnation or any interest by Akpabio the Governor. The APC candidate was then his immediate past Secretary to the State Governor.

 

  1. c) Albert Ukpanah, a well-known opponent of Governor Akpabio’s 2015 Senate ambition was strangled to death in his residence in Abak, Akwa Ibom State on the 5th of March, 2014. The Government did not show any interest and the matter went cold.

 

  1. d) In December, 2013, Hon. Umana Okon Umana himself was the target of hired assassins when he received threats at his Uyo residence. It is instructive that contemporaneous with that threat, His Excellency, the then Governor ordered the withdrawal of his security details. This was widely reported in the press. That matter was promptly reported to the Police in Uyo.

 

  1. e) Her Excellency, Mrs. Comfort Ewang: wife of a former Military Administrator of Ogun and Rivers States, Group Capt. Sam Ewang, was abducted by kidnappers who reportedly demanded that her husband rescind his decision to contest the 2011 elections. She was released after her abductors had secured a heavy ransom.

 

  1. f) Madam Philomena Udonwa, a retired civil servant; a grandmother of over 70 years, and mother of a Singapore based Marine Engineer and Governorship aspirant, Iniekong Udonwa, was kidnapped. Her son was shot at, in a failed assassination attempt, but escaped with bullet wounds. Once again, the kidnappers allegedly demanded that Engr. Udonwa rescind his bid to contest the 2011 Elections as a pre-condition for his mother’s release. Madam Udonwa was not lucky after-all. She was abused, murdered, stripped naked, and abandoned on a lonely rural road.

 

  1. g) Mr Mike Eduok, the brother of the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Nsikak Eduok, was kidnapped, over his brother’s perceived opposition to Akpabio’s tyrannical governance, pre 2011 elections.

 

  1. h) Barr Umo Udonwa, slated to take over as the State PDP Chairman, was murdered in shrouded circumstances. He was a close ally of prominent members of the opposition to Akpabio.

 

  1. i) Elder Paul Inyang, a PDP stalwart also billed for the State PDP Chairmanship, was shot dead in the premises of his church. Inyang was the associate of the opposition duo of ex-Governor Victor Attah and Senator Udoedehe, on account of Akpabio’s high handed administration of the State. It soon became clear that Elder Inyang had shifted his political allegiance after he began to hold meetings with key opposition members. Clearly, Paul Inyang’s murder was not unconnected with his allegiance to the opposition.

 

  1. j) GENERAL EDET AKPAN: a former NYSC Director and prominent Akwa Ibom son, was kidnapped after a reported disagreement over sale of shares of Universal Energy Resources (Akwa Ibom indigenous oil servicing company) of which he (Akpan) was Chairman. The General was in Church and other innocent worshippers in the church premises were murdered. He was released after a ransom was paid and subsequently relieved of his office.

 

  1. k) OKUIBOM RJ OBOT: The most senior Ibibio monarch on earth was gruesomely murdered in his palace.

 

  1. l) THE EKPENYONG BROTHERS. Engr. Emmanuel (aka Submarine) and his brother Matthias (aka Mbota), were murdered in the family quarry site. Knowledgeable sources claim the brothers refused to sell. Fabian (the surviving sibling), was framed for the murder of his brothers by the State Government, after he had identified two of the actual killers. He was detained for several months and later released for lack of evidence.

 

  1. m) Dr Chris Ekong, an Economist and University teacher and former Commissioner for Youth and Sports, and later Economic Development, was framed for complicity in a kidnap case, detained for over two years but later discharged and acquitted of the charges. He was a subject of relentless persecution.

 

We have taken pains to demonstrate the infamy that was the lot of the Akpabio Government. It is, in the circumstance, unwise and indeed stupid to ignore any sign of threat to violence as raised by Dr. Nunieh.

 

CHIEF JACOB ESHIET

Chairman, Akwa Ibom Solidarity Front

267, Oron Road, Uyo

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COLUMNISTS

Exposé: Presidency And Many Lies Of COVID-19 Figures In Nigeria

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By Jumu’ah Abiodun

I can’t write anything about the most popular phrase on earth, “novel Coronavirus pandemic” without sending my special greetings to those medical teams and caregivers home and abroad as well as journalists who have also been on the frontline of reporting day and night activities of how the deadly virus has affected many homes, sports, religious and the global economy among others. “Ooin, you are all doing well”

Many Nigerians since the first confirmed case of an Italian man who came into the country from Italy via Istanbul, Turkey, on Thursday, 27 February 2020, believe COVID-19 in Nigeria is fake due to the saying that the virus can’t survive in warmer weather and immune system of black people to malaria and typhoid. But the deadly COVID-19 is obviously not ‘fake news’

Due to corrupt nature of many Nigerian politicians and the poverty rate in the country, the citizens believe the virus has become a money-making venture for Nigerian government because of the relief fund from governments of the United States, European Union and the United Kingdom as well as support from International Monetary Fund and World Health Organization (W.H.O).

Before the European Union donated 50 million (N21 billion) to Nigerian government as part of its contribution to boosting the country’s COVID-19 response the highest daily figure the country recorded was twenty (20) cases that was confirmed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as at 09:50 pm on Monday, 13th April 2020.

The Day’ Nigerian government cash out contribution fund from EU, Nineteen (19) new cases were reported as at 09:20 pm Tuesday,14th April 2020 with 14 in Lagos, 2 in Federal Capital Territory (FCT), 1 Kano, Akwa Ibom and Edo states respectively, raised the total number of confirmed cases to 362 while 99 were discharged and 11 deaths. Same day at around 11:00 pm NCDC reported an additional eleven (11) new cases in Lagos state totalling 373 confirmed cases, 99 discharged and 11 deaths. Who is deceiving who?

A day after Nigeria received the donation, the country’s reported cases shot up to thirty-four (34), Lagos recorded 18, Kano with 12, 2 in President Muhammadu Buhari’s state, Katsina and 1 in Delta and Niger states respectively, that was confirmed at exactly 11:20 pm on Wednesday, 15th April.

As at 11:20 pm on Thursday, 16th April, NCDC confirmed another thirty-five (35) new cases with 19 in Lagos, 9 in FCT, 5 in Kano and 2 in Oyo state which brought the total confirmed cases to 442, 152 persons discharged and 13 deaths recorded.

Aside from EU contribution, notable Nigerians and many corporate organizations donated billions of naira to support the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and state governments in the fight to combat the deadly virus. The funds include $13 million (N5 billion) donation by the United Bank for Africa (UBA). Herbert Wigwe, Segun Agbaje, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Keystone Bank, Femi Otedola, Jim Ovia and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote all donated N1 billion each to support the government in curtailing the pandemic in the country https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/03/27/africa/coronavirus-nigeria-fund/index.html

Away from the above figures or statistics, many Nigerians accused FG of siphoning the donations and not focusing it to the right channels.

Meanwhile, during the five weeks of lockdown in FCT, Lagos and Ogun states, millions of Nigerians most especially those in Southwest region of the country faulted President Buhari’s type of palliatives as being biased and not sincere with the distribution of the fund.

 

A lot of Nigerians took to social media platforms to express their bitterness and asked Mr President to approach the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to distribute palliative for them through their respective Bank Verification Number (BVN). Instead of doing this, Nigeria’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, contracted it to two payment service providers and distributed the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) to poor Nigerians in some part of the country.

Sadiya Farouq, in a statement on Tuesday, 14th April 2020 named Zamfara, Akwa Ibom, Abia and Bayelsa among states where the delay in payment due to the inefficient of the contractors.

She said, “The Federal Government cannot accept delays in the current payment round of N20,000 stipends to beneficiaries in poor and vulnerable households under any excuse in the four states or any other state of the federation.

“The failure of any payment service providers to meet their contractual agreement is unacceptable.

“The Federal Government through the ministry cannot allow contractors to derail the immediate CCT to the poor and the vulnerable.”

Nigerians lambasted the Presidency for televised recorded ‘Presidential broadcast’, saying the only way President Buhari can know their agony is through media chat where journalists can ask questions.

These clearly show how few opportunists who found themselves in power ripped off the masses. These few people not limited to the arrogant President’s spokesman, Femi Adesina who on a live radio chat said somebody is talking like a “Broken Record”. This is the height of irresponsible government who don’t want to be held accountable for their incompetence.

My questions to the Presidency on contracting CCT to payment providers are:

Can’t CBN generate number of BVN and disburse the same amount approved at all level, either billionaire, millionaire, “thousandnaire or hundrednaire”?

Mid-April, NCDC and Kano State Government disagreed on the number of confirmed cases and announced conflicting figures to the world. Kano published 21 cases on its twitter handle while NCDC recorded 16 for the state in its chart https://twitter.com/NCDCgov/status/1250550394847203328?s=19

http://worldtopnewsng.com/ncdc-state-govt-post-conflicting-covid-19-cases-reports/

The NCDC on Sunday, 10th May 2020 afterwards published that Nigeria recorded 15 deaths, 238 new cases of COVID-19 and 33 persons were discharged apologized to Nigerians that it posted an additional 32 discharged cases and 2 deaths to the figures of the FCT https://twitter.com/NCDCgov/status/1259618115543072778?s=19

According to the agency, Nigeria now has 4, 641 confirmed cases with 150 deaths and 902 discharged.

Recently, one of Nigeria’s top television station, TV continental in a special report exposed how Nigeria government handle the most popular virus in the world, COVID-19.

A TVC correspondent was in Prof. Idris Mohammed Infectious Hospital, Kwadon, Gombe state where he spoke with some of the patients, exposed the living condition in the hospital where patients protested about their welfare and feeding.

The patients also alleged that since some of them have been confined for up to two weeks they have not been given any medication by the team, neither taken care of by the government. They also complained of not seeing any doctor for days.

A male patient who spoke with TV Continental said since he has been at the isolation centre he was not given anything.

Another patient, a female who explained her grievances said nothing like drug was given to any of them expressing that even if any of them feels headache they give the hospital their money to buy drugs. She expressed further that they don’t have any drug neither no doctor, just them and the gateman. They also complain about eating unhealthy food.

The COVID-19 patients went out that fateful day to block the highway that links Gombe to Borno and Adamawa states where they mingled with members of the communities protesting alongside with them.

Some of them said COVID-19 pandemic figures in Nigeria is fake and is just being used to make money.

The Gombe state COVID-19 Pandemic Response team spokesperson, Dr. Mohammed Kwami in a message conveyed to me via the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media & Publicity, Mr Ismaila Uba Misili, confirmed the protest by the patients and said the government noted with dismay and disappointment then apologized for such an incident.

The COVID-19 Taskforce explained that the truth is; one of the female patients was admitted to the centre with a wound she got long before she came into the state. The Taskforce took it upon itself to treat the wound, similar to what was applied for all the isolated patients; all those with underlying diseases are being managed irrespective of its relation to the COVID-19 infection.

Kwami explained further that the social implication is clearly visible. That majority of the cases in the state are menial workers who returned from Lagos, Abuja or Kano, after realizing they could not bear the consequences of the on-going lockdowns in those cities, as their earnings depend on a daily outing.

If truly all these protesters as reported by the NCDC or the state government are confirmed patients of COVID-19 imagine the number of people they would have mingled with during the protest, hundreds of people might have been infected by now and not showing symptoms yet. ‘There’s fire on the mountain’

President Buhari should declare total lockdown in Gombe, Borno and Adamawa states and provide a genuine and serious palliative for Nigerians. And also continue an in-depth investigation into the causes of the death toll in Kano state.

Jumu’ah Abiodun is a social commentator, political analyst and journalist based in Lagos.

 

jumuah.abiodun@gmail.com

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COLUMNISTS

COVID-19: Making Nonsense of Philanthropy

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By Ingram Osigwe

When did the Igbo become Beggar? Never! They are not and can never be.The can do spirit every Igbo person possess, the inherent enterprising spirit in the Igbo do not allow such condescending attitude.

It is below the dignity of the Igbo to lay prostrate in utter grovel for crumbs when he or she has the unyielding spirit to hustle and survive.

However, the coming of COVID 19 has turned some privileged Igbo sons and daughters into agents of ridicule against their own people- portraying them as beggars or how else can one explain this penchant by such persons to employ all the instrumentsof the mainstream and social media to capture the handing out of COVID-19 palliatives to the needy?

Let me say it loud and clear here: philanthropy is not compulsory. Giveaway is not compulsory.No one is compelling anybody to give.But if you must give, do so quietly and silently and leave applause and commendation to God to do.

Dont turn the art of giving or philanthropy into theatrics, a drama of the absurd by noisily advertising it on the social media.Doing so defeats the very essence of giving.

Whatever happens to the Biblical injunction to us never to let the right hand know what the left hand is giving

God who bestows blessings and wealth does so silently but some recipients of these blessings and wealth are now trumpeting their philanthrophy so as to receive undue attention, cheers and applause from the public.This is wrong.

The current viral picture of aged women, each lifting tuber of yam donated by one of such noisy philanthropists as COVID-19 palliatives tell a sickening story of how low and cruel some people have descended all in the bid to be in spotlight.

Can the character who subjected the aged women to such humiliating outing be proud enough to do the same to his own mother?

This piece is by no means discouraging philanthropic gestures to the needy in this very difficult period of global pandemic but let those who have decided to give do so anonymously without attracting attention.

ECHI DI IME ! ( tomorrow is pregnant) is an Igbo aphorism.It underscores the fact that nobody can exactly predict the future.For example, who would have thought that sellers of hand sanitizers, disinfecting chemicals ,nose masks among others would suddenly become overnight millionaires.

Therefore, the sons and daughters of that old man, that old woman or that poor widow you subject to unwarranted publicity because you are doing giveaway could turn round to become a billionaire tomorow.

So, my brothers and sisters, let’s continue to give but as Christ commanded us, let the right hand not know what the left is giving.

Let’s give anonymously, it is more edifying and mote spiritually fulfilling.

Enough of playing to the gallery, biko!

Umu Nnem, Happy new month in Advance and stay safe

Ingram Osigwe (Olu of Akokwa) wrote from Akokwa.

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