Nigeria News

NIGERIA: So When will the Diezani N10b Probe Begin?

About two weeks ago, the Speaker of the House of Representatives had vowed that the probe of the use of N10 billion by the Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke to charter private jets will continue. But the talk about the said probe, since then, has gone on silent mode. The embattled minister had rushed to court again, seeking to stop the House committee on Public Accounts from doing its work.

And her latest lawyer, strangely, is acclaimed rights activist, Mike Ozekhome.
I have been wondering why Madam is shunning the lawmakers and employing all tactics within and outside the books, to scuttle her appearance before the lawmakers. I wonder what she is afraid of. Why the slalom race to the judiciary?
Many suspect that her resort to legalese is only to shield her from the probe and conceal the many suspected skeletons in her cupboard. Were it not so, why has Diezani and the lawmakers suddenly become light and darkness which never meet?
Diezani, in a bid to circumvent the invitation, has been scouting for reasons to avoid and discredit the probe. First she argues that unless the resolution to invite her is published in the lawmaker’s journal, she cannot honour the invitation. Really? So all the ministers that have been and are being invited for one form of appearance or clarification in the National Assembly, all have their invitations published in a journal before appearing? Why is Diezani trying to be more Catholic than the Pope?
How can an appointee of a government, a supposed servant of the people, defy the invitation of lawmakers in the name of vexatious due process?
I am waiting to hear that a Judge (in the absence of Justice EgbohEgboh) will rule that lawmakers should not perform their duties on oversight functions, simply because a certain psychedelic Countess is involved.

Are we not aware of how the resources of the NNPC have been abused in the past and even now? NNPC and Petrobras of Brazil are both oil companies owned by Nigeria and Brazil respectively. While the one was established in 1977, the other was established in 1953. Do both organisation have the same leverage today?  While one is promoting rot and sleaze in its country, the other is transforming the economic indices of its country. Petrobras had the largest market capital in Latin America a few years ago. It is a world leader in the development of advanced technology. What can we say of our dear NNPC today, other than that it has grown to become an institution whose name collocates with corruption and arbitrariness?
What is more, Diezani has requested that the lawmakers secure the permission of President Goodluck Jonathan for her to appear before them. What a condition! Here is a President (during the last media chat) who begrudges the lawmakers for “distracting” his ministers for the frequent invitations to the National Assembly, being asked to give permission for a  choice minister to appear before her “traducers”. Nobody will expect the President to cut his nose in order to spite his face.
Indeed, the belief in the public is that Diezani is this obstinate because she has the backing of Mr President. Were it not so, it should have shocked the President that a minister spent, no, blew, N10b for the chartering of private jets in three years for private use of herself and family members. But it counts for nothing to our President, or so it seems. We are benumbed by the degree of brazenness.
At a time when the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is yet hanging in the alleyway of the National Assembly; when oil majors are divesting like mad; when there is shale oil boom in America resulting in shrinking market for us, one would expect the nation’s oil corporation to put on its thinking cap to overcome these real and present threats, not go hunting for the most garrulous lawyers in town that can help cover the tracks of impunity and impropriety.
Imagine This…

Boni Burnt His Base
Penultimate  Thursday, Mr Boni Haruna, the 62-year old Minister of Youth Development, had his first major outing ever since he was appointed minister four months ago. In that outing, Boni burnt his fingers as he drew parallel with his principal.
He was former governor of Adamawa State for eight years. Having parted ways with his former boss, Atiku Abubakar, Haruna was rewarded by the presidency with the ministerial position, just as Ibrahim Shekarau was “rewarded” with ministerial nomination last Wednesday.
On that day, President Goodluck Jonathan had addressed the nation on his Democracy Day speech, vowing to go all out against the Boko Haram insurgents.
But not quite two hours after, Boni Haruna had his own show where he announced that Mr President has granted amnesty to Boko Haram members. It seized all the headlines the next day. A day later, he was disowned by the president’s spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati who insisted that the President did not use any such word as amnesty, not even in a denotative sense.
So Mr Boni Haruna, on whose authority did you mislead the nation? Or is it your suggested wish you paraded like a government gazette? Surely, too many cooks spoil the soup.

Mbu Over Ruled
I thought Mr Mbu Joseph Mbu, the FCT Police Commissioner, in his characteristic controversial manner, will insist that the ban on peaceful #BringBackOurGirls protest remains in force, after he had been over-ruled by his boss, the Inspector General of Police.
But he has remained mute since Tuesday when he was disowned by the Police high command.
In an attempt to please his “madam at the top”, who has never been comfortable with the street protests, Mbu had suddenly claimed there was intelligence that some terrorists want to infiltrate and hijack the protests with the intent of causing more destruction…   Really? Why has that intelligence not been able to locate the abducted Chibok girls 54 days after the abduction? Intelligence my foot! I will not be surprised if Mbu, in the manner of crooked cops, arranges any unsavoury incident around the protesters in order to give fillip to his acclaimed intelligence. The echo from Rivers state is now reverberating in Abuja, and we can feel it.

Canticles…
Wanted: Cure for Akwagreediosis
I
hear the entire political class has contacted a foreign medical research institutionto discover a cure for a malignant affliction troubling some of its members.
Really? You mean the said affliction is beyond the competence of the great Nigerian Academy of Science?

Oh, sure. This is beyond the expertise of local scientists. Not even the most alchemic physicists among them has a cure for this malaise.

Are you serious! Pray, what is this so-called disease, that has no cure in Nigeria? Or is it HIV/AIDS?
Oh no! it seems an upgraded version of an aged disease, now called Akwagreediosis. You can even tell from the heaviness of the name of the disease that it is both new and complex.

What did you call it, Akwagri-what?
It is called Akwagreediosis, an old ailment that reinvented itself and struck some executive leaders in Akwa-Ibom State. The eponymous disease is therefore named after its first location of attack, just as we have Lassa fever or Ebolla fever.
Some executive leaders in Akwa Ibom are now suffering from the disease? Pray, who are the leaders and what are the symptoms of the disease?

The chief sufferer of the disease is Governor Godswill Akpabio, and his deputy, whom he just dragged into the infection
I hope you are not referring to the new Pension Law in the state?

That’s it! Only such an envisaged terrible sickness can make someone want a whopping N100million Naira per annum as allowance for medical treatment.
No, you have to be fair. The governor has been explaining that the medical bill brought by former leaders in the state have been outrageous and it needed to be pegged and curbed.

So in pegging it, you ask for N100million? What kind of sickness will require N100million to be cured every year? Or shall we indeed mobilise all the Akwa Ibom women to go naked and call on God to afflict Akpabio with enough diseases that even $100m will not be enough to treat in a year? You mean you were taken in by that silly explanation?
Look, you never can tell. The story was told of how Chief Sam Mbakwe, the late governor of old Imo State was rushed to Enugu Government House in one rickety car one morning, in search of just N300,000 to undergo surgery. I think it is to avoid such helplessness that Akpabio is being proactive in exercising uncommon vision in preparing for life after office.

You are still talking raw rubbish. Did you know that part of the said law provides for monthly domestic staff of N5million, annual pension of 26.7million, annual housing allowance of N6.7 million, Retirement Villa of 5-Bed room in Uyo or Abuja, severance pay of N6.7million, annual car/fuel allowance of N6.7m, including new car and furniture every four years? Can you imagine! And pray Akpabio must be specially in love with 6.7; that was how he also gave N6 million to some party chiefs in Port Harcourt last year to go have lunch in Mr Biggs.
Don’t you ever forget that he is a governor.A generous one at that. You do not expect him to live life at half measure. That he is a governor does not necessarily mean that he has to compromise his living standard. And remember that he’s got a family as well. The state he has faithfully served for eight years and bequeathed with uncommon transformation  should be able to take care of him, when he is out of office. That way, those who occupy the office will not be tempted to rape the treasury.

Another Bunkum with a capital B! What is the guaranty that even with such obnoxious rougish law, that a rougish governor will still not rob the till blind? Why can’t the governor build a world class health facility instead and make former governors come for treatment, free-of-charge, in the facility? Eh, tell me! Look, with all the monies and wealth that have accrued to a governor of such a wealthy state for eight years, he can never go hungry, except he is cursed. So the approximation of the treasury of a state in the name of Pension Law is nothing but a coefficient of roguery powered by greed.
Take it easy. Don’t forget it is a democracy. The governor did not impose the law on the state. A legitimate arm of the government passed the Bill and the governor signed it into law. So it went through the normal process. It is the wish of the majority as represented by the House of Assembly.

Another balder dash. You mean you do not know those legislative puppeteers called lawmakers were corralled into passing the Bill? Could they have had the guts to say no to Governor Akpabio, with all the political and financial arsenal at his command? Do you realize the unholy haste with which the Bill was passed? Just 11 days! And signed within 24 hours. If there is nothing fishy about it, why that supersonic speed? Was there any public hearing on such a heavy Bill that will drain the public purse?
But the legislature is an independent arm of government, and that is why the doctrine of separation of powers is an integral part of democracy.

That theory is only on paper, in the classroom books. Not what obtains in real sense in Nigeria.
But do you know that this Pension law has been in existence since Year 2000 in the state? All Akpabio did was to effect some amendments.

It is those amendments that are the issues now. They were amendments that were powered by selfishness.
It is ok. Save your breath. The governor has just shown that he is a democrat by deferring to the needless criticisms that have trailed the new Pension Law. He has promised to write to the legislature to remove the amendments pegging Health allowance at N100 per annum for ex-governors.

We are not persuaded by that gimmick. Has he not been shuttling media houses to help him douse the flame of criticisms, seeming to yet justify the law? Don’t forget many other provisions of the silly law are obnoxious and self serving. So what happens to such provisions? And who says there won’t be less than proper ways of arriving at the same destination without the law? The affliction of akwagreediosis is yet strong. You want to bet?
You should first appreciate his humility and responsiveness in reversing himself.
Humi-what? For such greedy rump-fed ruler, it is anything but humility.

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