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Pendulum: “I’ve Seen Dictators Rise and Fall. Beware, America”

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www.securenigeria365.com

By DELE MOMODY

Email: Dele.momody@thisdaylive.com

Fellow citizens of the world, the above title is not original to me. It is the headline of a very profound and inspired article written on June 3, 2020, by one of the greatest novelists of the last century, Salman Rushdie, in the Washington Post.

I know many of today’s readers may not know who Salman Rushdie is, so let me a give brief description of this prodigiously gifted writer and how significant he’s been in the past three decades. I first encountered the novels of Salman Rushdie around 1989 as a reporter at the Weekend Concord. Rushdie had just released his controversial book, Satanic Verses, which many Muslims found gravely uncomplimentary and deeply offensive to their religion and faith.

The book was banned by the Islamic faithful leaders. Riots took place all over the world as the heretical book was burnt and shops stocking it were attacked.

On Valentine’s day, 14 February 1989, a death fatwa was proclaimed and issued on Rushdie’s head by the then spiritual leader of Iran, the much revered and feared Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Khomeini. For those who may not know the meaning of fatwa, let me quickly explain. It is a ruling under Islamic Sharia law which leads to a culprit who has committed heresy against Islam or the holy Prophet Muhammad, being declared a persona non grata who deserves to be killed wherever and whenever he is found. This sentence may be enforced by any Muslim faithful and such a Muslim immediately becomes a Martyr. This was certainly dangerous and perilous times for Rushdie. He knew the faith, calibre and fanaticism of those whose faith he had abused and promptly went into hiding under the protection of the British Government. The situation was so charged and inflamed that the British Government and Iran broke off diplomatic relations over the fatwa.

Rushdie himself was not to surface for many years, eventually doing so and appearing, at a U2 music concert in London in August 1993.

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie was born in Mumbai, India, on June 19, 1947. By the time his second novel, Midnight’s Children, won the prestigious Booker Prize in 1981, he was already recognised and acknowledged as a distinguished writer. The book was subsequently rated “the best novel of all winners” of the Booker Prize on two occasions, the 25th and the 40th anniversary of the prize. But in September 1988, he bit more than he could chew when he wrote The Satanic Verses.

The book as I have said attracted widespread criticism and protests across Muslim countries and other nations including the UK where Rushdie was then living, when some people realised what they claim to be the irreverent depiction of the holy Prophet Mohammed. He received death threats and ultimately a bounty and the fatwa were placed on his head. Incidentally, ironically, and by a quirk of fate, Ayatollah Khomeini died on 3 June 1989 after having five heart attacks in ten days, barely only four months into the fatwa that he had proclaimed against Salman Rushdie. It is also significant that the Rushdie comment that I am reproducing here was written on the 41st anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini’s demise.

I first got hold of the highly controversial book in March 1989, through my boss at the Weekend Concord newspaper, Mr Mike Awoyinfa. It was sacrilegious to be seen with the book at the time, although the hullaballoo was not that prevalent or ferocious in Nigeria. We are both greedy about books.

Since the Satanic Verses debacle, I’ve been a keen follower of Rushdie and purchased most of his works. He moved from England to the United States in 2000 and has permanently lived there, acquiring American citizenship about four years ago.

I was excited to stumble on his essay yesterday as I was getting ready to write my weekly column. The article was lucid and logical and I decided to make it available to my African readers for the benefit of the strange acolytes of President Donald Trump in Africa who seemed to have been conned and scammed by the antics of a man who has never hidden his pathological hatred for people of colour. Some of the ugliest descriptions of colour were coined and “patented” by Trump. But for those who think Trump can do no wrong and that he is infallible, the unfortunate and unnecessary wasted blood and life of George Floyd seems to have united the world against the white supremacists of which Trump is the undisputed champion. Let me allow you to read and savour the words of Salman Rushdie…

“In my life, I have seen several dictators rise and fall. Today, I’m remembering those earlier incarnations of this unlovely breed.

In India in 1975, Indira Gandhi, found guilty of electoral malpractice, declared a state of emergency that granted her despotic powers. The “emergency,” as it became known, ended only when she called an election, believing she would win, and was annihilated at the polls. Her arrogance was her downfall. This cautionary tale formed a part of my novel “Midnight’s Children.”

In Pakistan in 1977, Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq staged a coup against Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and executed him in 1979. This dark story was the inspiration for my novel “Shame.” The circumstances of my life have given me some understanding of the dictatorial cast of mind.

Extreme narcissism, detachment from reality, a fondness for sycophants and a distrust of truth-tellers, an obsession with how one is publicly portrayed, a hatred of journalists and the temperament of an out-of-control bulldozer: These are some of the characteristics.

President Trump is, temperamentally, a tinpot despot of this type. But he finds himself in charge of a country that has historically thought of itself — by no means always correctly — as being on the side of liberty. So far, with the collusion of the Republican Party, he has ruled more or less unchecked. Now an election looms, and he is unpopular, and flails about looking for a winning strategy. And if that means trampling over American freedoms, then so be it.

I have lived in the United States for 20 years and been a citizen for the past four. One of the most important reasons for becoming a citizen was my admiration for the ideas of freedom embodied in the First Amendment to the U.S.

Constitution. Trump, whose regard for the Second Amendment is well known, needs reminding of the First, which, if I may help, states in part that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

And yet, the man whose incompetence allowed the pandemic to tighten its deadly grip around our necks, and whose inflammatory language full of racist dog whistles has played a significant role in unleashing white-supremacist bigotry upon us all, stands in the Rose Garden of the White House and announces without an iota of shame that he wants to protect peaceful protesters. At that very time, just down the street, his security forces, some of them on horseback, are attacking a peaceful protest with tear gas and rubber bullets. A moment later, he characterizes the demonstrators as terrorists and characterizes their protests as crimes against God.

He has the pictures to prove it: the fleeing young people, the clouds of tear gas, the line of horses advancing in the name of the Law. If there’s one thing Trump knows, it’s how to construct an image the cameras will like.

This man who, before he got his present job, was almost never seen inside a house of worship, then holds up a Bible outside a church to demonstrate his piety, and if the bishop of the diocese denounces him soon after, accusing him of misusing the church in the service of “a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus,” what of it? Once again, he has the pictures, and they speak louder.

We are so inured to the behavior of this man, so used to his lies, his inexhaustible self-regard, his stupidity, that maybe we are tempted to think of this as just another day in Trumpistan. But this time, something different is happening. The uprising that began with the killing of George Floyd is not fizzling but growing. The man in the White House is scared, and even, for a time, takes refuge in the basement and turns out the lights. What is such a person to do at such a time?

If he is allowed to use the actions of a tiny minority of criminals and white extremist infiltrators to invalidate the honorable protest of the vast majority against the murder of Floyd, the violence of the police toward the black community and the entrenched power of American racism, he will be on his way to despotism. He has threatened to use the Army against American citizens, a threat one might have expected from a leader of the former Soviet Union, but not of the United States.

In my most recent novel, “Quichotte,” I characterized the present moment as the “Age of Anything-Can-Happen.” Today I say, beware, America. Don’t believe that it can’t happen here.”

Thank you, Sir. Nothing more to add with respect to the reckless and dangerous bully that Trump is. For me, his day or reckoning is imminent, and he will get his comeuppance very soon at the conclusion of the November 3 election in America. Maybe then, the scales will fall from over the eyes of those black people, particularly Christians, who see Trump as some sort of Messiah who has come to provide them salvation from the heathens that other Americans represents to them. On the contrary, for me Trump is the archetypal Anti-Christ doing exactly as the Bible predicts and deceiving the shallow and the unwise.

However, it is important to draw lessons from the above piece by Rushdie for African leaders who think they can rule in perpetuity by using ethnicity and religion to divide their people. It may work for them for some time, even a long time in some countries, but that time will finally end and the people will suddenly realise how much they have been brainwashed, hypnotised and hoodwinked by these selfish and unpatriotic leaders. The day is therefore coming, and very soon too, when the people of Africa will wake up from their deep slumber and reject the primordial sentiments, packaged as parochial bigotry and prejudice founded on the insular and divisive tenets and platforms of sectarianism, ethnicity and religious intolerance. Unfortunately, these divisive policies have kept most of us in Africa in bondage almost forever.

Those who have ears to hear and eyes to see should watch out, listen, and see how the death of one man can ignite the fire of togetherness and unity across the world. There have been too many deaths before now. But this is obviously one death too many. The frenzy for equity and justice for George Floyd in particular, and people of colour in general, is reaching fever pitch all around the world. The fire will consume all in its wake who do not see the conflagration reaching out to tear the barriers, shackles, manacles, blinkers and blindfolds that have prevented Blacks from achieving real freedom, egalitarianism and emancipation for themselves. What is becoming clear is that Black people will not wait for these to be handed to them anymore, they will grab it themselves by fire, by force. George Floyd’s blood was not a sweet blood for vampires and, so, it has turned into poison coursing through their infernal veins and internally and eternally worrying and exterminating his killers and their ilk.

May George Floyd’s soul rest in peace…

#icantbreathe

 

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COLUMNISTS

Senator Peter Nwaoboshi’s Unlimited Lies 

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By Francis Udoka Ndimkoha

 

It was Mark Twain that was quoted to have said that “A lie can travel around the world and back again, while the truth is lacing up its boots.” This best describes the speed of light with which the lies peddled against the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, by no less a person than the Senate Committee Chairman on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, representing Delta North for a second time.

 

It is no longer news that the insistence of the Minister that the Forensic Audit instituted by President Muhammadu Buhari on NDDC must see the light of day has upset many interests in the Niger Delta, Chief amongst them being the various National Assembly Committees on  Niger Delta. Every spanner has virtually been thrown into the works, to ensure that the audit is crushed. The desperation on the part of those alleged to have held the region hostage has reached an unimaginable crescendo as they daily churn out spurious lies, half truths, twists and turns through various media channels.

 

Recently, the Senate Committee Chairman on NDDC, Peter Nwaoboshi, peddled a heinous falsehood against Sen. Akpabio about a certain N300m naira fencing contract for a Polytechnic in Akwa Ibom State. It is important to begin by saying that every other allegation, founded or unfounded, against the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Akpabio and the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC, at this time, is part of the attempt to distract them from the Forensic audit which they are supervising. This fact does not, in any way, deify these personalities. No! They are humans, with their weaknesses. But they are so bent on sanitizing the NDDC, at this time, that they need our support to see through the forensic audit.

Nwaoboshi lied without recourse to the oath he swore as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to uphold the Constitution, while brandishing documents that have no substance in his allegations. It is surprising that a man who has found himself through the corridors of power for several years now is not done with such mannerisms as to deceive the public over what is a Zonal Intervention Project meant for Akpabio as Senate Minority Leader which has nothing to do with the NDDC budget as the Presidency, every year, makes provisions for the two Houses of the National Assembly.

 

That said, Sen. Akpabio has in response to the allegation of N300m contract, denied ever being an NDDC contractor, and insists that Zonal intervention projects of the Senate minority leader is different from NDDC budgeted projects. In real terms, zonal intervention projects of NASS are NOT done with NDDC budget. Project intervention which has a threshold for each Senator and each House of Representative member is a Federally approved Program of the NASS, annually. The Senators identify cum suggest the projects, in writing, through the Sustainable Development Goals  (SDG). In most cases Senators do not know the companies that win the contracts after the bidding is done, by the domiciling agencies. It is therefore shameful that a high ranking Senator like Nwaoboshi would seek to bring the sacred chambers of the National Assembly to riddicule. In his bid to stop the Forensic Audit of the NDDC, he has succeeded in undermining the integrity of the Senate and by extension, the Legislature.

Such is his unparalleled desperation that he has succeeded in corrupting the Clerk of the Senate and inducing him into an  inglorious path in exchange for an extension of his Service year, a move that has generated knocks against the NASS.

 

In fact, for a Clerk of the Senate begging for extension with retirement at his door step to release such zonal intervention letters to Peter Nwaoboshi for a press conference, with a view to deceiving the public, says a lot about how far desperate people can go to sink a good cause. Sen Nwaoboshi lied, in this case, as those contracts referred thereto were Senate Zonal intervention jobs and none has been paid for nor performed, since 2017! It is important for Nwaoboshi to also come forward with proof of payment for the purported job and effectively link the contractors to Sen. Akpabio. The supposed fencing project began and ended on that piece of paper being bandied by Nwaoboshi, unless he has added it to the 1,000 contracts awarded to his front man, Nelson Agbamuche. Otherwise, the embattled Senator should bring proof of the contract award with the name of the company to which it was awarded. Nigerians are not gullible  to believe the lying Senator who has failed to show evidence of payment made to any company belonging to Akpabio or his crony. Again, is there any proof that the job has been executed?

 

It has become clear that many Senators were deceived to suggest projects to be executed in their constituencies, and even though they were appropriated but were never executed. Why is Nwaoboshi desperate to cover the lies even before the Auditors are through? If payments were made for such jobs as he claims, is it not proper to allow the Forensic Audit expose the real beneficiaries? Is he afraid that other lawmakers will discover his grand deception over the years where he has used his position as Senate Committee Chairman to amass voluminous, phantom contracts to himself through his proxy? Should only one Senator be running amok on National Television over a Presidential order for a Forensic Audit?

 

Akpabio is the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and requests for patience because in no distant time the Forensic Audit will expose those complicit in the failure of the NDDC and all who joined to impoverish the Niger Delta region. In any case what has N300m fence job got to do with N3 trillion naira fraud? Or is Senator Nwaoboshi trying to justify his 1000 NDDC contracts, as alleged by the Executive Director -Projects (EDP), NDDC, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, against him and his cohorts, Nelson Agbamuche and co? Mr. Agbamuche says the hundreds of jobs he controls do not belong to Peter Nwaoboshi who purportedly acted and continues to act on behalf of members of NASS, but what is left is for Mr. Agbamuche to prove how he won all the jobs and why he merits such quantum of jobs per year.

 

It is a view held in some quarters that the self-styled oracle of Delta state Politics and Senator Representing Delta North Senatorial District mistakes the Delta in Niger DELTA Development Commission (NDDC) to the effect that the commission is a property of Delta State where his brazen rascality is dreaded by those who deify him. Thus he believes he can turn NDDC into his own ATM with which he churns out emergency projects, even in time of no emergency. Nothing else explains how NDDC under his oversight supervision is committed to over 2 trillion naira concerns which has crippled the agency.

 

The NDDC, therefore has no regional project to its name. Only emergency repairs and aimless trainings, running into billions of naira as well as his annual contract for the supply of plastic chairs to schools. This contract which gulps over 3 billion naira annually is usually executed in his personal warehouse in Asaba and never reaches the selected schools, yet, NDDC pays in full for it. These and many more are part of sleaze already exposed by the forensic audit for which they can do anything to make sure it is never completed.

 

As a matter fact, Sen. Nwaoboshi who has pending cases with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) involving over 22 illegal bank accounts is also the same man who purchased The Guinea House, belonging to Delta State Government, a deal that has become subject of public outcry. This is not a man who should adorn a saintly garb and pretend to care about anything except that which enriches him.

 

Part of the inability of the  NDDC to meet their mandate to the people is the penchant of Sen. Nwaoboshi and his counterpart in the House of Reps to sit on the NDDC budget for months into the fiscal year, until they extract some huge financial commitments from the management of the NDDC or phantom projects are padded into the budget, even if it means, as in most cases, supplanting meaningful projects in the region. This calls to question the source of the powers of a committee  Chairman to adjust timeline for budget defense and presentation, as Sen. Nwaoboshi has been doing.

Just recently, the duo of Nwaoboshi and his House of Representatives counterpart without recourse to plenary, extended the deadline for the submission of the NDDC Budget for 2019, submitted it 5 weeks to its expiration, in order to ensure that it is not implemented for the selfish reason of forcing the IMC to pay for old contracts awarded by the previous Boards.

The Budget failure is simply because only two people sit in the comfort of their hotels to assign details of the Budget, thereby allocating huge sums to Training, Medical Retreat and other non physical and meaningful projects.

 

It might also suffice here to say that whatever financial misappropriation levelled against Akpabio or anyone else, in the context of the NDDC can best be exposed by the forensic audit. So why not let it thrive?

 

It is obvious that Nwaoboshi has so much to cover up as he is running against time. Could it be that he was elected as Senator for NDDC since he has in the past few weeks devoted so much time and resources to frustrate the Forensic Audit by throwing ceaseless mud at the supervising Minister and members of the Interim Management Committee?

Senator Nwaoboshi’s unlimited lies only confirm that he has been the unseen hand that has run the NDDC aground and has kept the Niger Delta region in chains under the Change Government.

Will the leadership of the National Assembly look the other way while a senator cause such grave injustice to a people, so rich yet so helpless? Time will surely reveal the truth.

 

Francis Udoka Ndimkoha is the National Publicity Secretary of Citizens Question For Truth Initiative.

Contact: citizensquest247@gmail.com

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COLUMNISTS

The Anti Buhari Forces in NASS

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Written by Rachel Kufreabasi Nse

In an ideal democracy which Nigeria is copiously adopting, separation of powers is one of the pillars on which Government is anchored.

Notwithstanding the above, they still  complement each other in the onerous task of nation-building and in guaranteeing the positive growth and development of the country.

 

When the 9th National Assembly came into being, and the leadership emerged with the backing of the ruling party, unlike the 8th Assembly that preceded it, the people expected that there will be a better working relationship between the executive, the legislature and of course, the judiciary.

 

Though they exist independently, they are meant to perform the role of checks and balances. In doing so, they avoid encroaching on each other’s responsibilities and constitutionally assigned roles.

As the representative of the people, the National Assembly should be seen to align to their constitutional responsibilities and shun all forms of political and party leaning, in the course of discharging their duties. The above can not be said of this 9th Assembly.

 

The 8th Assembly were rancorous with the executive leading to myriads of challenges and endless crisis arising from disagreements over the manner of emergence of the leadership of the NASS, budget padding and delay budget passage, jumbo pay, refusal to clear nominees of the executive timely, among other issues.

The leadership crisis lingered beyond expectation which led to defection from one political party to another.

 

The  ugly moments took another turn when in a commado style political thugs invaded the Red chambers creating pandemonium made away with the Mace, the symbol of authority of the Senate. The nation watched with dismay and disbelief the show of shame and gross misconduct by one of its own which led to the desecration of the hallowed chamber of the Senate.

 

With the emergence of the 9th Assembly from the leadership of the party, one would have expected more support and cooperation from the National Assembly to the executive. The legislators carry this heavy burden of effective representation with all the seriousness it deserves.

 

The President has expressed his readiness and commitment to the development of the Niger Delta region. Happenings of recent has shown the NASS in the light of a clog in the wheel of the process of development of the region.

 

Heeding the call for accountability and probity by the Governors of the region, the President set out to redirect the course of development by calling for a Forensic audit of the funds that accrued to the region through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Due process was followed and the FEC approved of the auditing firms. The President not wanting any interference set up the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC to oversee the forensic audit process. The IMC is  recognized under the act of the NDDC and they set to work.

 

The auditing firms are gathering momentum and gearing up to deliver within it’s approved time frame. They are carrying out with the cooperation  of the IMC put in place by the President for this purpose.

 

The NASS being fully aware of the Constitutional powers of the President to set up the IMC, bickered over the composition of the IMC. Not done questioning the legality of the IMC, they went a step further by dragging the IMC through a media trial by accusing the 7 month old IMC, for the late passage of the 2019 Budget and other financial misappropriation.

 

In the midst of all these, it is the Niger Delta people that suffer. There’s an urgent need to address the challenges of power failure, critical infrastructural decay, insecurity, crass poverty, corruption, environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region, amongst others.

 

The legislators are brazenly undermining the President who in exercising his executive powers set up the IMC to oversee the Commission while it undergoes the forensic audit from inception till date.

The NASS is exhibiting a callous disregard of the democratic principles which empowers the Executive to appoint into positions in office.

A dangerous trend is being set and it’s threatening the continuing practice of democratic structures in the country, if care is not taken.

The Constitution provides for the full adoption of the doctrine of separation of powers and not antagonistic show of strength as the NASS is seen to be of the executive.

 

NASS in a recent resolution have declared  constitution backed forensic auditors of no mean repute as illegal. This is an affront not only to the executive arm of government that hired the auditors following due process but the Judiciary since the NASS have illegally arrogated to themselves the judicial powers of declaring the firms illegal.

 

Rachel Kufreabasi Nse writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State

State Coordinator, Citizens Quest for Truth Initiative

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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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