Monday, April 30, 2012


Most persons that are fortunate to hold prominent public offices would not accord respect to the judiciary until they come down from their Olympian Height and are hunted by their own shadows. They would sack top ranking judicial officers without recourse to due process. In most cases, they even choose court orders to obey or ignore. Just as the elders would always say, “power and money put together, cannot buy the future.” This is the reason why even the rich sometimes cry, run, or hide.  

News of the former governor of Kwara State, Senator Bukola Saraki attempting to use the court to stop the police from inviting him to assist in their investigation of an alleged N21b loan scam is quite unfortunate. This writer is not of the opinion that the senator representing Kwara Central is guilty of the issue for which the police invited him. He is rather worried about the seeming introduction of a novelty that will make the routine police investigation of suspected crime very cumbersome. More than that, this methodology adopted by Senator Saraki will slow down the war against graft in a country where corruption has destroyed the foundation of national unity and socio-economic development. 

While not dismissing the fact that Senator Saraki has all the rights to approach the court to protect his fundamental rights if it is being abused, he is equally under obligation to help the police carry out their lawful duties without impediment. He should not be tempted to set a bad precedence that will hinder the battle against graft. 

If I were in the shoes of Senator Saraki, I will cooperate with the police to unravel the mystery surrounding Joy Petroleum Ltd and the alleged N21b loan scam. He should see this as his own little contribution towards fighting the growing tide of corruption in the country. 

If I were indeed Senator Saraki, I would promptly make myself available to the police, irrespective of whether or not I have any relationship with Joy Petroleum Ltd- the company at the center of the investigation. The issue of the police not informing him of the reasons behind his invitation should be sacrificed to help free truth from deceit and concealment. 

Senator Saraki should be reminded that the action of one innocent man will sound louder than the voices of a thousand guilty persons. His quick response to the invitation by the police would have definitely saved him the embarrassment of being declared wanted by the police. This ugly development has not only opened a sad page for democracy in Nigeria; it has also stained the culture of integrity in public service. 
Many observers and commentators of contemporary issues have condemned Senator Saraki’s approach to the matter and suggested that he responds to the police invitation without delay. From all indication, his invitation by the police is just to assist in the investigation of the alleged N21b loan scam involving Joy Petroleum Ltd. Nobody has accused him of anything and therefore remains innocent. It is said that a clear conscience fears no accusation.

Secondly, Senator Saraki should use the opportunity of the police invitation to flaunt his integrity and shame his “detractors”, if there are any in this case. Another reason Senator Saraki should respond quickly to the police invitation is the sacred fact that he is senator of the federal republic. He is supposed to live above board. To live above board also means doing nothing to stop the law from moving about freely in search of the truth. 

Let Senator Saraki discontinue his attempt to ask the court to determine if he could be invited by the police to assist in investigating a matter in which he is not linked and for which no definite allegation has been made against him. He should go and tell the police what he knows and do not know about the matter in question. Even if he has no confidence in the police, the courts will come to his rescue when if it amounts to that. Let him just do the simple, honourable, and right thing.     

Nigerians should not be surprised if his political beliefs, opinions, and alignments are thrown up as the reason for his invitation by the police. It has become fashionable for people to abandon facts and hold on to sentiments each time they are accused of wrong doing. 

Already, some sympathizers, notably Save Nigeria Group (SNG) and Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) have gone to town with the theory that Senator Saraki is being hunted by members of the “cabal” that benefited from the fuel subsidy scheme. They argue that it was Saraki that moved the motion to investigate the fuel subsidy management scheme on the 16th of September, 2011. While this is possible, should that be enough reason for a suspected criminal matter not to be investigated? Let us not play politics with sensitive issues like this. This was how the seeds of corruption were watered in the early 60s. Just as the SNG and CNPP are doing, individuals and organizations came out openly to whitewash evil with shallow and narrow sentiments. Today, Nigeria has become a whited sepulcher: beautiful from outside but stinking with corpses inside. I am not surprised that both the CNPP and SNG are losing so much respect in recent times. It is not unconnected with their approach to critical nation issues. We cannot continue to sacrifice justice on the laps of shallow and narrow sentiments.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Farouk Lawan: Teaching Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi how to fight corruption

There is no denying the fact that corruption has reached a pandemic state in Nigeria. Even unborn babies can feel the pains of corruption right inside the wombs of their mothers. The situation has become so bad that no one can take for granted minor issues like electricity, road, petrol, kerosene, water, sanitation, education, and health care services that even small and poor nations have conquered decades ago. Unfortunately, the desire by the larger Nigerian society to dislodge the growing culture of corruption has been hindered by the profuse insincerity mostly on the part of those saddled with the responsibility of managing our common wealth. We must not forget the fact that people are government for different reasons. While some are in government to serve the interest of the wider society, others are there to promote their personal interest. There are also some who go into government mainly to advance tribal and religious sentiments. Of greater danger to the nation are those who stay in government to promote the agendas of third-party organizations and foreign countries. Despite the gloomy impression most people have about corruption in Nigeria, we have the capacity to effectively check it. The problem has been that those who are supposed to champion the fight against graft end up just paying lip service. Take for instance the issue of corruption in the management of the fuel subsidy scheme. Surprisingly, the minister of finance/coordinating minister of the economy, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and the CBN governor, Mallam Lamido Sanusi went to town painting a very sad picture of Nigeria being a country without citizens credible enough to be trusted with the mere management of her fuel subsidy scheme. It was partly on the strength of this flawed opinion that they both suggested the outright removal of fuel subsidy even though they knew quite well that it will create serious economic problems not just for the poor and unemployed citizens, but for the president as well. The other reason they prescribed the removal of fuel subsidy was to mobilize additional cash to adequately finance the transformational budget of the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration. As against the lies they (Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi) have been telling vulnerable Nigerians, the United States and EU all maintain different subsidy schemes purposely aimed at promoting production and at the same time protecting the purchasing power of the citizens. Ironically, the IMF and EU were the first to congratulate President Jonathan when the federal government implemented the fiscal policy of fuel subsidy removal on the 1st of January, 2012. The handwriting was clear enough. They simply wanted a situation where the already poor and suffering masses will raise up their voices against government. With such development, the nation’s political leadership will not have the required space to design and implement practicable fiscal policies that will help free the country from western economic slavery. Quite frankly, most of the industrialized nations are not happy with Africa’s early attainment of political independence. It has robbed them of cheap access to raw materials from the continent. Therefore, the last “mistake” they (industrialized nations) will make is to allow Africa gain economic independence too soon. For decades now, western democracies have been hiding behind the World Bank and IMF to prescribe fiscal policies that will hurt than help grow developing economies. Examples of some of such policies include Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), currency devaluation, and anti fuel subsidy among others. In case we are not aware; much of the economic gains made by Asian countries did not come from prescriptions by either the IMF or World Bank. Rather, their economic experts and fiscal policy formulators developed indigenous strategies to meet their peculiar needs and circumstances. No matter how deep corruption has eaten into the fabrics of our national life, the least one expected from Okonjo-Iweala and Lamido Sanusi was their painting of Nigeria as a failed country with no credible people. This writer will never agree that Nigeria does not have the capacity to manage a program as small as the fuel subsidy scheme. The best they did was to invest so much of half-truths and threats to stampede the federal government to removal fuel subsidy when there were better options that will not hurt the poor and suffering masses. To Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi, the removal of fuel subsidy is the best way to fight corruption in the NNPC, PPPRA, and Customs Services. This opinion is not only wrong but carries long poles of insensitivity to the plights of ordinary Nigerians, most of who are unemployed, poor, and hungry. Perhaps, they should be reminded that a medical doctor worth his onions will not prescribe the amputation of the neck because majority of his patients were complaining of headache. What the House of Representative did with regards the fuel subsidy scheme is the best way to approach critical national issues such as corruption. This writer commends Honourable Farouk Lawan and members of the House of Representative ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy utilization for charting the right course in handling sensitive national issues. At least, we have now known the truth. We now know who the real enemies of Nigeria are. We know those who have stolen our common wealth. Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi are scared of the truth because of its bitter taste. Let them stop administering the prescriptions of the IMF and World Bank. Though they coat their tongues with sugar, and carry on as patriots; their minds are made of steel from the west. The time has come for all to look inward and develop fiscal policies that will address our peculiar needs and circumstances without placing more burdens on the frail backs of poor and hungry Nigerians. They are not helping the president at all. This was the reason behind my piece, “How technocrats destroy political leaders” and “The art of misleading a president” published on my blog and some off and online media.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


On the 15th of September, 2011; I posted a piece on my blog titled “Okonjo-Iweala: A Patriot Blinded by the West.” This piece was also published by some off and online media. I had attempted to highlight three major points. In the first place, I had wanted to drum home the point that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy has the passion and courage of a true patriot. The second point I wanted to establish was the fact that Okonjo-Iweala was an involuntary “apostle” of western democracies. Thirdly, I was of the opinion that western democracies can only use but never trust “apostles” like Okonjo-Iweala. The outcome of the election to select a replacement for the outgoing World Bank chief, Robert Zoellick has vindicated me. The withdrawal of Colombia’s former finance minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo from the World Bank presidential race was enough for Okonjo-Iweala to see the spirit of United States celebrating with bottles of champagne on the streets of Washington DC. Sentiment apart, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had a superior credential to occupy the World Bank presidency.

Typical of every vibrant and complex society, some applauded my candid opinion and others poured heaps of condemnation on my head. One fair point to note however is the fact that the criticisms that followed my piece had no capacity to change what was wrong to right. What was then wrong, if one must ask? It was wrong for Okonjo-Iweala to look at Africa with western eyes. While it is true that advancement in science and technology has compressed the world into a global village, we cannot stand on this truism to deny the fact that population, culture, and religion plays critical role in shaping the local economy of every society. Perhaps, owing to the fact that she was an “insider”, Okonjo-Iweala often times acted in manners that suggested she was too informed to accept contrary opinions- especially the ones dressed in the robes of criticism.

Not only was the foundation of her campaign very shallow and stained with racial sentiments, she was undoubtedly a victim of her own characteristic arrogance. Right from the first day she came to work for the Nigerian government during the Obasanjo administration, Okonjo-Iweala has refused to accept the bitter fact that in economics, issues are isolated and treated on their individual merits. Only lazy people who do not believe in themselves will rely on the ideas of others without paying attention to associated evidences and facts. It would also not be fair for any person charged with managing the economy of a nation to rely only on old ideologies or viewpoints of political parties to design fiscal policies. What else can one expect from a World Bank apostle?

Not aware of the hidden agenda of her western mentors, Okonjo-Iweala was deliberately deceived into looking at Nigeria’s economic problems with “western eyes”. It was for this simple reason that she could not accept a fundamental truth spoken by even uneducated women in village markets: every society on the face of the earth has its peculiarities. Sadly, this was the very point her sole opponent and eventual winner of the World Bank presidential election on Monday 16th April, 2012; Jim Yong Kim used to sink her boat. Kim later revealed to the BBC that he would consider the cultural and social peculiarities of various regions to ensure that the Bank’s schemes achieved the desired results.

As part of efforts to successfully use both the IMF and World Bank to secure pole positions in global finance and economy, western democracies intentionally creates the false impression that population, poverty level, culture, and religion does not matter in designing fiscal policies. It was based on this false opinion that Okonjo-Iweala spearheaded the subsidy removal battle against the Nigerian masses. This was what I wrote on my blog: “It must be noted that every society has its own peculiarities. As a result of this, what has worked in country A may not necessarily work in country B. Africans wearing “western eyes” will never realize this fact even though it is profusely clear. For instance, the governor of Nigeria’s Central, Lamido Sanusi and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala are all bitterly agitating for the removal of fuel subsidy simply because same has worked elsewhere in America and Europe. Since they are wearing “western eyes”, they have failed to realize that: (a) Unemployment figures are very low in America and Europe (b) An average American or European worker earn as much as $130 or N19,500 per day. With this kind of salary, Nigerians can afford to buy fuel even at N150 per liter.”

If after failing to win the confidence of her mentors, Okonjo-Iweala does not learn anything, repent, and jettison her World Bank “mentality”; President Goodluck Jonathan should waste no time to offload her. Industrialized western democracies have through her, succeeded in turning most Nigerian masses against the president owing to some non-aligning fiscal policies she introduced. We must not forget the fact that one of the veiled aims of the IMF and World Bank is to prescribe fiscal policies that will pitch the masses against governments of developing countries. This is to create crisis and give little or no room for political leaders to build their national economies and secure economic independence. Western nations are afraid that Africa securing economic independence will mean lesser exports and dwindling foreign exchange revenue.

Is it not sad that Okonjo-Iweala suggested the removal of fuel subsidy as a sure way of fighting corruption in the nation’s oil sector? Is this how other countries fight corruption? Subsidy in itself is not a bad idea. Nations introduce subsidy to protect its citizens. As you read this, the EU subsidizes agriculture and fisheries and yet advice Nigerian government to withdraw fuel subsidy. This is not just ironic but suspicious. The fiscal policy of fuel subsidy removal is directly in conflict with the World Bank’s commitment to fighting poverty in developing countries. We are aware that the partial removal of fuel subsidy in January has expectedly jumped the prices of goods and services thereby weakening the purchasing power of a greater percentage of Nigerians. The direct consequence is increase in poverty level. Those that used N20,000 to meet the needs of their families now require about N40,000 or more to do same because the cost of transport, rent, food, education, and health care services have climbed up the ladder.

I have always maintained that just as there are many ways to kill a rat, there are also many ways to remove fuel subsidy. It is quite sad that Okonjo-Iweala preferred the option that will serve the parochial interest of her western mentors. We are no longer fools.