RECORDS OF MAY 2012

1 May, 2012

Tuesday was the first day of this month, but it turned out to be scary.  Journalists did not want to go to their offices; some of them refused to go with their ID cards and those who had official vests would dare not wear them.  One good thing though: many visitors who thronged the press houses, at times, for unnecessary and foolish enquiries thinned out; no one wanted to die. So journalists too dey fear?  Na so we see am o!

Boko Haram, the violent Islamic sect, came out today to confirm that it would soon attack some newspaper houses. Leaders of the group named The Punch, The Guardian, Vanguard, The Sun, Nigerian Tribune and National Accord as tabloids that had offended them and which must pay the same price paid by Thisday Newspapers. The group said Thisday was attacked because of the sin committed by one of its reporters in 2002, when she wrote something against the Prophet. And since this sect said its members must kill the lady and staff of the newly marked newspaper houses, no journalist felt protected again and everyone became extremely cautious.

To push this fear further, a former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Defence, Theophilous Yakubu Danjuma, said Nigeria was becoming a Somalia, where terrorists had taken over the reins of government.

2 May, 2012

Now, there seemed to be no respite for Mr. President. Under the fire from Boko Haram insurgency, Christians today vowed to withdraw their cooperation with the government if the activities of the deadly sect were not checked. Intimidation, killings, bombings and wanton destruction by Boko Haram must stop, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) declared in what its President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, described as “final call” to the Federal Government.

Probably because of the earlier threat, a bomb scare at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MM2) and the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) caused anxiety among passengers, motorists and airport workers today. The scare of a possible explosion around both the old and new domestic terminals propelled security agencies, including the Police, the Air Force and para-military agencies, to deploy their men on the road leading to the airport. These intense security checks, with the use of a mobile anti-explosion device, caused traffic gridlock. Now it was curtailed, but everyone feared Boko Haram!

3 May, 2012

Who wouldn’t fear the merchants of death? Today, again, razed homes, burnt cows, scorched trees and vast ground covered with black ashes, were all that was left of the once throbbing Potiskum livestock market. Some unknown gunmen, in commando style, stormed the market, shooting indiscriminately and throwing explosives. The traders lost about 60 people.   Potiskum is the major commercial city in Yobe State, while Damaturu is the state capital. The livestock market, West Africa’s largest, was filled to the brim when the attackers came. It is located between two security check points manned by the military and the police – less than one kilometre to each other. That was why the attack and the escape of the terrorists looked so miraculous.

4 May, 2012

‘Maybe this will solve the problem,’ everybody seemed to be saying today. The Federal Government said it would soon release the list of Boko Haram sponsors. The list was said to contain names of suspected backers of the sect and other terrorist groups. The decision to compile the list was borne out of the belief of security chiefs that the anti-terrorism battle could be won sooner than expected if people linked with violence were exposed.

As happy as the citizens would have wanted to be, the story that NNPC had been spending N1. 35 billion annually on 36 of its employees was so nauseating that no one could afford a smile!

Then came the shocking news that former Super Eagles striker, Rashidi Yekini, had died this afternoon in a private hospital in Ibadan. He was aged 48.

Shameful' Nigeria: a country that doesn't care about inequality ...

5 May, 2012

Many people did not know he came from Kwara State, they were thinking he was from Ibadan, until they heard Rashidi Yekini had been buried in his home town, Ira in Kwara State. Football fans and younger footballers remembered Yekini and there was gloom written on their faces, while they were shocked by the fact that Rasheed died so young.

From the Presidency came the cheery news today that 2015 was not in Goodluck Jonathan’s mind. There was a reminder to the political class to leave the President out of the hue and cry over the 2015 presidential race and allow him deliver on his promises to Nigerians. Though no one could vouch for the sincerity of the Presidency in this, at least it showed there was the need to stop the rubbish coming from the hungry lions in the political circle. They wanted Jonathan to remain in office beyond 2015, yet they could not advise him on how to solve the myriad of national problems threatening his administration.

6 May, 2012

Well, the opposition parties were dissatisfied with the Presidency’s explanation that Goodluck Jonathan did not want to remain in office or was not planning to run for election in 2015. He started it all, said ACN, CPC and Campaign for Democracy (CD). They argued that Jonathan was the one who sent a bill to the National Assembly proposing a seven-year tenure for the  president and he had continued to tell everyone that this was his first term in office. So, who was fooling who? Truly, it might be difficult for Oga Jonathan to go: the office of Nigerian president is like a heaven on earth, which no one would want  to leave for a submerged creek.

Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, surprised many today as he offered a reward of N10 million for information leading to the arrest of the killers of his Principal Secretary, Olaitan Oyerinde. The aide, who came from Ede in Osun State, was killed in the early hours of Friday, 4 May, 2012.

7 May, 2012

For those seeking answers to the sudden crash of the stock market, some came today. The market succumbed to a combination of ailments – sensational lifestyle and financial recklessness, among others – according to the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Arunma Oteh. She was explaining why SEC eased out the former DG of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mrs. Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke. Oteh, in a presentation before the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee probing the near collapse of the Nigerian Capital Market, said: “There were incidents of financial skimming, misappropriation, false accounting, misrepresentation and questionable transactions against the former DG. For instance, the NSE bought a yacht for N37 million and wrote down in the book value within one year by recognising it in the books as a gift presented during its 2008 Long Service Award (LSA), yet there are no records of the beneficiary. The Exchange also spent N186 million on 165 Rolex wrist watches as gift to awardees out of which only 73 were actually presented. The outstanding 92 watches valued at N99.5 million remained unaccounted for.” Hmmmmm, terrible things dey happen for our obodo Nigeria!

8 May, 2012

But the former DG of NSE, Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, was not impressed.  She said the so-called intervention of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the affairs of NSE was illegal. Besides, she dismissed the allegation of financial recklessness hurled at her by the SEC. Ndi had this to say: “The SEC has no business over how a private company spends its money. We did not collect money from anybody and we have a right to spend our money the way we want.”

9 May, 2012

There seemed to be serious problem bigger than what the public had been hearing from the Director General of SEC, Arunma Oteh and the ousted Director General of NSE Ndi Okererke-Onyiuke: there was a gulf between Arunma and her management team. In public, the SEC chiefs disowned their boss, saying she was running a one-man show. It meant that all Oteh had been saying about Okereke could not hold water as most of her directors did not support her and were in fact behind the former NSE Director General.

The schism between the DG and her executive team was exposed as Oteh was left to defend her actions all alone. Besides, the Executive Commissioners reeled out reasons for the division in the commission, which was clearly different from what their DG had presented. And the Rep committee could not help but look stunned, as the case of a house divided against itself stared them in the face.

10 May, 2012

Those who knew the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, were today in a joyous mood. News flashed to town that: “NJC reinstates Salami as President of Court of Appeal.” It stated that after considering the report of an ad hoc committee set up to resolve the crisis within the judiciary, the National Judicial Council resolved to reinstate the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, who was suspended by the council on 18 August, 2011. Of course, those who were conversant with the problem of Salami would rejoice with him for his career was hanging in the balance as he had been tarred with the same brush used by politicians on their opponents. He was accused of being an ACN sympathiser; nothing could be worse in a PDP controlled Federal Government!

Another good news today was that the Federal Government said it had sent emissaries to leaders of Boko Haram. According to Namadi Sambo: “Government is ready to discuss. History has proven that even wars that are fought for decades, at the end, are only concluded by dialogue.” The problem here was that it would be the first time the government was saying it knew those behind the violent sect. And Nigerians were impatient: Go and arrest them now!

11 May, 2012

Another problem, another dimension! The belief had earlier been that members of Boko Haram were all from the North, but here came the embarrassing news to the people of the Southwest: Yoruba Boko Haram leader, wife, kids arrested. It was reported that the high ranking operative of the Isalmic sect was raked in at Baban Layi, Maiduguri Road, Kano, by the Joint Task Force (JTF), who gave the suspect’s name as Mohammed Sulaiman, believed to be a native of Ogbomoso in Oyo State. So, no section of the country is completely safe!

But it was Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice President, who carried the day. He thrust at his opponent with an arrow; hitting where it pained most: “Stop pretending on 2015, it is well known that you want to run!”

12 May, 2012

A sigh of relief; the man was not Yoruba after all. No one could trace the quarter or area from where the suspected  Boko Haram kingpin arrested in Kano came from in Ogbomoso town. The Yoruba in Kano, especially those from Ogbomoso, today denounced the media reports which described the suspect as a Yoruba from the Oyo State town. As soon as the various publications hit the newsstands yesterday, the Yoruba within and outside Kano began to put phone calls through to their contacts to ascertain the background of the suspect with no one being able to confirm knowing him or his origin. Then the spokesman of Ogbomoso indigenes in Kano, Afolabi Omotoso, came out and said: “We are saying with all emphasis, there is no Ogbomoso indigenes bearing that name. And if the security operatives doubt it, let them tell us the suspect’s family’s compound name. We demand for clarity of purpose from the security agents.” Thank God, no one came out again to say the man was a Yoruba; the matter ended there.

Just as Atiku Abubakar had predicted, Jonathan loyalists started underground 2015 campaign and ACN was horrified: Oh, the President was interested in 2015!

13 May, 2012

Opposition parties today were shocked to learn that come 2015, PDP was plotting to capture Lagos and other states. They were very agitated, wondering why PDP should be planning such devilish ambush. But the calculation of the ruling party was that if it allowed these opposition parties to retain their states, the noise-making alliance between the CPC and ACN might come to fruition, since General Muhammadu Buhari, the flag-bearer of CPC, was now visiting Bola Tinubu of ACN at home.

The rift between the Lagos State Government and its doctors had refused to go and the latter had gone to court to challenge their eviction from their quarters. Trouble started when the doctors began an indefinite strike on 24 April, 2012 and all antics to get them back to work by the government failed.  When the Fashola administration could not bear the confrontation of the doctors any longer, it sacked 788 of them on 7 May, 2012, in a desperate face-saving strategy to arm-twist the doctors back to work. And when they wouldn’t budge, order came on 10 May, 2012 that they should vacate their living quarters, since they were no longer employees of the government. And the doctors went to court!

Why flooding in Nigeria is an increasingly serious problem

14 May, 2012

The political class was thrown into a serious confusion today, with some of its members thinking deeply if they should remain in the business of managing other people’s lives and collecting their money for keeps or look for other ways of getting money. It was Muhammadu Buhari who scared the day light out of them: he told them blood would flow in 2015. In his words: “God’s willing, by 2015, something will happen. They either conduct a free and fair election or they go a very disgraceful way. If what happened in 2011 (rigging) should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood!” This statement from any army general would be frightening enough and coming from Buahri with his known antecedent, made it blood-curdling. And throughout today, the men of politics knew no rest. Buhari had put their bravery to test.

15 May, 2012

Buhari under fire over threat of bloodshed! That was when some of the politicians could get their voices back. The Presidency and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) responded hotly today to the threat by former military Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, that there would be bloodbath in 2015 if the general elections of that year were not transparent. While the Presidency said the statement was ‘saddening’, the PDP said it portrayed the former Head of State as a blood-thirsty person who lacked democratic credentials. But Buhari was not disturbed by the name callings as he insisted that there was nothing different from his statement and what other had said. And CPC replied PDP: “The truth is always bitter for the PDP and it should be known that the party is evil and should go and make amends.”

16 May, 2012

This was what Fela Anikulapo-Kuti would have called ‘Roforofo Fight.’ Because of the 2015 elections, ACN today joined Buhari’s CPC to attack the Presidency. Now, more missiles were fired in the Presidency-General Muhammadu Buhari’s battle as ACN queued behind the CPC presidential candidate and asked: “If the Presidency and PDP have no intention to rig in 2015, why are they so worried about the consequence of such actions?” And because the Presidency had called Buhari a serial loser, the CPC raked: “We insist that it is never ignoble to lose elections because President Abraham Lincoln (of the USA) was known to have lost elections several times.” But some people were saying this should have been left to 2015, but one man quickly retorted: “You no know Nigerian politicians. Before then, dem fit change Nigeria name self!”

17 May, 2012

The war continued! Northern governors met and tacitly supported Muhammadu Buhari, saying what he said was not truly different from what other people had been saying and wondered why his statement was generating such attention. But one good news from the governors’ meeting was that they promised to end Boko Haram’s activities in the region. They would reach out to the stakeholders and intensify efforts to find lasting solution to the problems.

There was, however, a more threatening and urgent issue than the 2015 elections. The coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala today expressed serious concern over Nigeria’s daily declining crude oil production and sales.    That should truly concern all politicians because the serious fighting about this 2015 had a lot to do with the crude oil and its sales. Na money palaver!

18 May, 2012

There was palpable fear in the land again today, because more than four months after anti-fuel subsidy removal protests paralysed many parts of the country, another crisis over the deregulation of the oil sector was imminent. In preparatory to the total fuel subsidy removal, the Federal Government had started funding various groups that would lead the campaign on complete deregulation of the downstream sector. The organised labour said it was aware of government’s move to remove the fuel subsidy, but warned that it would resist it.

The imminent subsidy removal and consequent protests that would follow seemed, however, manageable than the prediction of Balarabe Musa, former governor of Kaduna State, that “revolution looms in Nigeria!” No politician wants revolution, the word always gives them stomach-ache.

19 May, 2012

In fact, there was a face-off today between the Southwest PDP and the leadership of ACN in the zone. Bola Tinubu, the ACN national leader, had berated the PDP saying the only thing it knew how to do well was rigging. But in a quick reply, the zonal publicity secretary, Kayode Babade, said Tinubu and the ACN lacked the moral qualification to talk about rigging. Before they could talk, Babade said they should first explain what happened to last year’s council’s election in Lagos State, where winners could not be announced until four days after. So if PDP was rigging, and ACN was rigging the electorate was done for!

Indication also emerged today that the National Assembly and the Executive would go for each other’s jugular because of the oil subsidy scam. The House of Representatives said it had submitted the report of its findings to Mr. President Jonathan, but it seemed the Executive was not keen at taking any action against those indicted, because most of them were friends of the powers that be. And the House was angry.

20 May, 2012

The Executive made the first move. It came to the open today that some Nigerian lawmakers were in trouble. They were to explain how N24.8 billion government funds they collected were spent. The Auditor General of the Federation said to make clarifications, 313 House of Representatives members collected from the consolidated Revenue Funds, N19.9 billion in unretired personal advances, while 62 senators were yet to retire N4.8 billion personal advances. The Auditor General was becoming impatient; the Honourable members must come out clean.

There was, however, more hooked knot to be untied by the Executive than the issue of subsidy: the President’s 2015 ambition was being threatened. The Northern governors were planning a disgrace for Mr. Jonathan, for they wanted to truncate that ambition of returning to Aso Rock in 2015. But despite all the denials by Jonathan and his aides that they were not interested in the race, it was evident they were jittery.

But the former acting National Chairman of PDP, Abubakar Baraje, had said in 2015, his party would demolish all alliances against it and its candidate would remain the President of Nigeria.

21 May, 2012

Well, even if the PDP candidate would still remain the President, some members of the party from the North were not thinking towards the direction of Jonathan. Influential members from the zone were banking on the Southwest to help it send the man from the South-South away. This was revealed today and it nearly caused some members of the executive a heart attack to think that there would be a day when they would be sent packing from the seat of power.

To compound the confusion of the men of the Presidency, security personnel today arrested a 39-year-old man suspected of attempting to bomb the Radio House in Abuja, while three ministers were holding a press briefing within the premises. The suspect, one John Akpabu from Nasarawa State, had in his possession at the time of arrest, a bag containing 37 rounds of live ammunition and canisters suspected to be grenades. And ministers were wary of briefing the press again; for the name of Boko Haram could do wonders in the life of a minister, as it drained the neurons of pomposity in their brains!

22 May, 2012

Very interesting! The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), came out today lamenting seriously. Its National Publicity Secretary, Rotimi Fasakin, said the People’s Democratic Party had perfected plans to destabilise the party. He said PDP was plotting to goad some of its members to a meeting where they would pass a vote of no confidence on the leadership of the party. The interesting side of it was that PDP did not deny. Chief Olisa Mentu, the PDP Publicity Secretary, merely said that the CPC was an inconsequential party, destined to die! He said the CPC was only afraid of what was going to be its sad end, insisting that PDP was doing everything possible to ensure the opposition party was killed!

And probably to ensure the opposition parties had no fuel to rev the engine of hatred for him by the general public, President Jonathan had succumbed to pressure and was now ready to prosecute the fuel subsidy thieves. He had passed the report to the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, with instruction to prosecute after thorough investigation of the allegations. And by that everything seemed calm.

23 May, 2012

There were indications today that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) might have begun the overhaul of its legal department as a way of presenting a strong team to prosecute perpetrators of economic crimes and those indicted in the fuel subsidy report. The leadership of the commission did express serious concerns over the way most of its cases were being handled. Most of the prosecutions earlier pursued by the commission had always lost the steam when it mattered most. It was like the government was serious this time: subsidy thieves must go to jail!

Most of those who heard ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo call some members of the National Assembly rogues and criminals knew it would generate the usual hullabaloo from the House. And it came today when some agitated members wanted Obasanjo sanctioned. But Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker of the House, would not take that. He told his members: “Leave Baba Obasanjo alone o!” And he hit the gavel on the table, gbam!

24 May, 2012

But if the House would not want any confrontation, the opposition and adversaries would not let the matter die a natural death. So former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s ‘rogues and armed robbers’ comment attracted more umbrage across the country today. Obasanjo on Tuesday at the Fourth Academy for Entrepreneurs, Nigeria’s annual national conference in Lagos, had said that the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly had rogues and armed robbers as members. Edwin Clark, Itsay Sagay, Olisa Agbakoba and others were fuming, saying Obasanjo created the rogues and the robbers in the various Houses.

The Presidency could not contribute to this because it had a troubled fly in its ointment. There was this scandal about a huge sum of money, N155 billion to be precise, in which the names of people in the Presidency were mentioned along with some big oil companies. Despite the noise it generated, there was this disturbing silence from the seat of power and today, civil organisations were meeting for a show: the President must say something.

25 May, 2012

It was getting worse. Today, a former governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubabkar Dangiwa Umar, asked the Senate to conduct an open enquiry into the alleged N155 billion deal on oil block OPL 245. This was the scam in which the Federal Government had its hand.  So, Umar said: “We commend the decision of the Senate to investigate the OPL 245 transactions between the Federal Government and Malabu Oil Company on the one hand and the Federal Government and Shell Nigeria on the other. We cannot, however, understand the rationale behind the decision of the Senate to conduct the investigation in camera. Only an open investigation can satisfy the need for transparency and accountability.”

This was unbelievable! Armed robbers today attacked the branch of the First Bank Plc in Ilasa Ekiti, Ekiti State, killing three policemen and four others.The robbers, who gained access into the banking hall by blowing off the entrance using dynamite, carted away an undisclosed amount of money.

26 May, 2012

Now, loyalists of the President would fight back. Why should a gang of governors from the North insist that Goodluck Jonathan could not be president again in 2015? Whereas the President wouldn’t have been able to finish all he intended to do for Nigeria in a single term and that he had continually said this was his first term, the Governor of Niger State, Aliyu Babangida, vowed that the North would have the President in 2015. So those who were loyal to Jonathan set their own machinery in motion, they must checkmate the trouble maker in the North and ensure their master clinched the presidency again. Many strategies were going on within the camp, so was it revealed today.

27 May, 2012

Well, this was a direct attack. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) broke his silence on the case of Justice Ayo Salami, the President of Court of Appeal. Since August 2011, when the Judge was suspended after being accused of supporting the ACN to regain some states it had already lost, many citizens had said he should be reinstated and the Judicial Council had also cleared him, but the Presidency had its reasons for keeping the man away from office. That was why the statement from Tinubu was long expected since his name was mentioned as the man who put Salami into trouble. Now, Tinubu said: “We are witnessing something historic. The Federal Executive has launched a compound coup against the rule of law and judicial integrity. The first is the subtle assumption of a power the Presidency does not properly wield!” All the same, Salami was left in the balance.

The President has assured everyone should cheer up because Nigeria would not break as noose had now been tightened on Boko Haram. Jonathan predicted that soon, the sect would fizzle out of our lexicon.

28 May, 2012

The PDP, naturally, would not allow Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to have a field day and it said words coming out from the leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria on the issue of reinstatement of the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, indicated the party had a veiled vested interest. The party did not hide its disapproval of Tinubu’s intervention and comment on the issue. Olisah Mentu, National Publicity Secretary, had this to say: “For Tinubu to describe as a coup on the rule of law, the engagement of due process in the resolution of Justice Salami’s reinstatement sketches a graphic effigy of a hypocrite in a desperate agenda to re-shape facts.”

Another shocking news that came to town today was that the Goodluck Jonathan administration had cancelled the 2012 Democracy Day that would have held in Abuja. The fear of Boko Haram had now turned to cancellation of national programmes.

29 May, 2012

Today was the Democracy Day and it came with a bang: “The Federal Government has decided that the late Chief M. K. O. Abiola be honoured for making the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of justice and truth. Destiny and circumstances conspired to place upon his shoulders a histroric burden and he rose to the occasion with character and courage. He deserves recognition for his martyrdom and public-spiritedness and for being the man of history that he was. We need in our land, more men and women who will stand up to defend their beliefs and whose example will further enrich our democracy.” And with this statement,  the Federal Government renamed today the University of Lagos. It would now be called Moshood Abiola University. Immediately this was announced, however, there was a huge debate and protest on the matter.

30 May, 2012

Lagos was groaning today under a massive traffic jam that crippled business and social activities. Protesting University of Lagos (UNILAG) students blocked the ever busy Third Mainland Bridge, the major link between the Lagos Mainland and the Island, for many hours. It was the second day of protests against the renaming of the institution Moshood Abiola University, Lagos by Prersident Goodlluck Jonathan in his May 29 Democracy Day broadcast.

What was so surprising was that the same group of people clamouring that Abiola be honoured were the ones now criticising the government’s action. What they were saying was that the honour was belated. It came to a time when the government had no answer to the protest and quickly sent the students home and shut the university!

31 May, 2012

Again, the month ended with its own tragedy as abductors of a German engineer today in Kano shot and killed the expatriate during a rescue mission spearheaded by the Joint Task Force on terrorism. The murdered German, Edgar Frithz Raupack, had been seized since January 26 along Zaria Road, Kano, by gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram. Before he died, he had been begging: “I beg any government to save my life. My life is in your hands now. I beg you or this people will kill me!” What a sad end!

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