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Shehu Shagari: A Good Man But Bad Leader

Shehu Shagari: A Good Man But Bad Leader

Former President Shehu Shagari, left, with President Muhammadu Buhari

By Jiti Ogunye

As we mourn the passing of President Shehu Shagari, in a country like ours where our cultures prescribe that we do not speak ill of the dead, and where our past and recent histories are often distorted or forgotten, we must truthfully state his poor leadership records, even as we recognise his warm, and genial personality.

Former President Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari passed on yesterday at the age of 93. Our condolences go to his family, his people in Shagari Village in Sokoto State, Sokoto State and fellow Nigerians. Being a former president of this much raped and abused country, his loss should be mourned by all. May Allah, the merciful, the beneficent, grant him Aljannah Fridaus.

Before becoming president in October 1979, Alhaji Shagari served in many capacities at the Northern Region and federal government levels. He started his career as a school teacher before his foray into politics.

He was a federal parliamentarian and minister in the First Republic, under Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the prime minister between 1958 and 1966, before the first military coup aborted that Republic. After the end of the civil war, he returned to government in 1970 as a minister, a position he held until 1971, when he succeeded Chief Obafemi Awolowo as minister of finance, on the resignation of the latter from the Gowon government. Alhaji Shehu Shagari served in that capacity between 1971 and 1975, when the Gowon government was sacked in a military coup, paving way for the emergence of the Murtala/Obasanjo military regime.

Thus, when he became the first president of Nigeria in 1979, upon a switch of the country to the American presidential system of government (from the parliamentary or Westminster system), he was not new to politics, government and power. Although his emergence as president was controversial, it was expected that he would bring his experience and knowledge to bear on the running of the business and affairs of government.

Two controversies dogged his emergence as president. First, Alhaji Shehu Shagari was said not to be an overtly ambitious, power craving politician. He reportedly had initially expressed no interest to run for the office of president, indicating his preference of becoming a senator. He was, however, persuaded by the kingmakers in that era, principally and allegedly the “Kaduna Mafia”, a Northern Nigeria political power epicentre, to vie for the office of president. He was, therefore, an unwilling and (presumably) unprepared candidate. When his performance in office became lacklustre, his leadership failures were attributed to his being an unwilling president.

The second controversy was about the very contentious election that brought him to power. The Electoral Decree No 34 of 1977 that governed the presidential election of 1979 had provided, just as it is the case currently, that in order to be elected to office, a presidential candidate must have scored at least one quarter of the total votes cast in at least two-thirds of the states in Nigeria; and the highest number of the votes cast. The requirement addressed the need for spread, since the entire country was the electoral constituency of the president. Nigeria had nineteen states then. In the election, held on August 11, 1979, Alhaji Shehu Shagari scored the highest number of votes cast (5,688,657, as against that of the top contender, Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s 4,916,651); and at least a quarter of the votes cast in twelve states. But that was not two-thirds of the nineteenth states, mathematically. In the thirteenth state (Kano), Alhaji Shehu Shagari failed to score the required one-quarter of the total votes cast. He secured 19.94 per cent of the votes cast in Kano State. Yet, he was declared winner of the election by the Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO) and proclaimed as president-elect. The outcome of the election was challenged by Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in the subsequent election tribunal, which dismissed the petition.

When an appeal of the tribunal’s verdict eventually got to the Supreme Court (in Awolowo v Shagari), before a full panel of seven justices, Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN), who eventually became the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice, rehashed his arguments before the Election Tribunal, which had been accepted by the Tribunal. His contention was that in order to get one-quarter of the total votes cast in the thirteenth state, the reckoning must not be the total votes but two-thirds of the total votes; meaning that once a candidate satisfied the requirement of obtaining one-quarter of the total votes cast in twelve states and in two-thirds of the thirteenth state, then he should be accepted as having satisfied the requirement of scoring at least one-quarter of the total votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of the nineteen states of the federation.

The argument was rejected by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who counter-argued that one-quarter of the votes in the thirteenth state could not be determined on the basis of a split of the total votes cast in the thirteenth state into fractions. He pressed the Court to accept that one-quarter of the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of nineteen states must be one-quarter of the votes cast in each of at least thirteen states of the federation.

The Supreme Court in a majority decision of 6-1 (Kayode Eso, JSC, dissenting) accepted the 12 2/3 argument and upheld the earlier dismissal of Awolowo’s petition. That decision did not rest the argument about the legitimacy of the Shagari government. Especially, given the fact that the election was held under the “anti-Awolowo disposition” of General Olusegun Obasanjo, the outgoing military ruler, who had declared before the election that the best candidate might not necessarily win the election.

Upon being sworn into office, President Shehu Shagari exhibited humility, geniality and generosity of spirit. He conferred the highest honorific title in Nigeria, the title of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), usually reserved for heads of state, on Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

When patriots began warning that poverty had become accentuated under his government, a garrulous and cynical member of his cabinet reportedly taunted Nigerians that no Nigerian had started eating from the refuse dump! The government boasted that the economy was strong, and when the bubble burst, President Shagari, faced with the grim situation of an unraveling economy introduced “austerity measures”.

Unfortunately, President Shehu Shagari was a genial leader who presided over a profligate and financially reckless government that squandered the opportunities for a post-thirteen years of military era development of Nigeria. With the hawks in his government like Senator Uba Ahmed (secretary general of the ruling National Party of Nigeria, NPN) Umaru Dikko (the transport minister), Meredith Adisa Akinloye (chairman of the NPN) and inspector general of Police, Sunday Adewusi, who he couldn’t rein in, a budding fascism was being implanted in Nigeria. Every patriotic admonition by the opposition, principally the Obafemi Awolowo-led UPN, that Nigeria was headed in the wrong political and economic direction was derided as a prophesy of doom from an ever-lamenting Jeremiah (a reference to Obafemi Awolowo, whose baptismal name was Jeremiah).

Most of the policies and programmes of the administration were incoherent and not well thought through. In the agricultural sector, for example, a meaningless Green Revolution programme, patterned after the previous Olusegun Obasanjo administration’s Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), was put in place, with millions of naira being voted for the importation of fertilisers to help farmers. Yet, evidently, the fertiliser importation frenzy was largely a scam to siphon money. So also was the rice and cement importation policies. The ports became congested, with task forces set up to clear them. It was an era of the unbridled importation of goods, including luxury goods, leading to the depletion or evaporation of Nigerian foreign reserves.

To the credit of the administration, however, there was an expansion of the country’s education system at the federal level; establishment of River Basin Authorities, irrigation schemes and dams across Nigeria; and the laying of the foundation of the steel development sector in the country.

In a departure from the pretentious “low profile” culture of the Obasanjo era, when the official car of members of the military executive (military governors and the head of state) was a Peugeot 504, for example, President Shehu Shagari brought a thoughtless flamboyance into government; a lifestyle that the economy could not support. Mercedes Benz saloon cars became the official vehicles of government officials (just like the Toyota SUVs of today). And Nigerians were quick in naming the car “Shagari Style”. His government bought a presidential jet, thereby starting the tradition of acquiring and maintaining a wasteful presidential fleet, a tradition that continues to rule our lives as a country till date.

When patriots began warning that poverty had become accentuated under his government, a garrulous and cynical member of his cabinet reportedly taunted Nigerians that no Nigerian had started eating from the refuse dump! The government boasted that the economy was strong, and when the bubble burst, President Shagari, faced with the grim situation of an unraveling economy introduced “austerity measures”. It was the hardship brought about by that gross mismanagement of the economy that the military used as a pretext to stage a come back coup, which unfurled a chain of unbroken military rule for another 16 years, until the death of General Sani Abacha led to a short transition to civil rule programme, which brought Olusegun Obasanjo, the retired military general, back to power.

Unfortunately also, President Shehu Shagari ran a political party (the National Party of Nigeria) and a government, which obviously did not exhibit the character of having learnt any lesson from the tragedy of the First Republic. That Republic collapsed, in part, because the politicians of the era, who were in control of the federal government, took democratic opposition as treason, and political dissent as insurrection. It’s war on the opposition and persecution of opposition politicians presaged the collapse of the First Republic. Alhaji Shehu Shagari was a participant in that era. He was a Northern People’s Congress (NPC) minister. He was in attendance at the meeting that the remnants of the Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa government had with Major General Aguiyi Ironsi on January 15, 1966, following the abduction and killing of the prime minister, and also the assasination of the Northern Nigeria premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello; the Western Nigeria premier, Samuel Ladoke Akintola; finance minister, Okotie Eboh; and other military commanders. The meeting purportedly transferred powers to the military.

The historical significance and lessons of that meeting ought to have been etched in the memory of Alhaji Shehu Shagari for ever, such that when he had the privilege of taking over power back from the military, thirteen years after those unfortunate occurrences, he ought to have striven to run a government and played a politics that would avoid the mistakes of the First Republic’s civilian administration, in order to inoculate the Second Republic against self-inflicted destruction, and prevent it from coming to grief in the hands of ambitious soldiers, who had seen themselves as the military wing of the Nigerian ruling class and the alternative to a “fumbling” civilian administration.

That was not to be. In spite of President Shagari’s personal geniality, he lacked the requisite discipline in leadership. Just as the NPC had behaved earlier, intolerant of the opposition, the NPN government, under Shagari, began persecuting the opposition. In Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, the governor from the Aminu Kano-led Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) was impeached by an NPN-led House of Assembly. Bala Muhammed, the radical Marxist lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) was mobbed and burnt to death by political thugs. And, Shugaba Abdurrahman Darman, the house leader of the Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP)-controlled Borno State House of Assembly was deported from Nigeria to Chad, for purportedly not being Nigerian. The minister of internal affairs signed a deportation order in 1980 to ground the forced eviction. Darman’s ostensible offence was that of being a fierce critic of President Shehu Shagari. It took the UPN-inspired legal intervention of Chief GOK Ajayi (SAN) to restore Darman’s citizenship and bring him back into Nigeria. He won the legal battle in the High Court in Maiduguri, and the appeals that followed up to the Supreme Court. Not without drama though. At the High Court hearing, a woman who had been procured from Chad to claim that she was the real mother of Shugaba surfaced. She wailed all through, pleading that her son “who had run away from home in Chad should be returned to her.” But it was noted that in 1980, Shugaba, born in 1920, was a sixty year old man!

President Shehu Shagari certainly was not like many politicians of the Fourth Republic, who engaged in massive asset stripping of the Nigerian state in the name of privatisation. Nor did he recklessly loot the treasury of the country, as many of them have done. But, by his laissez faire approach to governance, his negligence of duty, his permissiveness and his lack of exhibition of a disciplined leadership, he created a basis for the collapse of the Second Republic.

Of course, the apogee of the political infamy of the Shagari administration was the massive rigging of the 1983 general elections. Political violence to terrorise the opposition ahead of the election was combined with actual police clampdown to spread terror before and during the elections. Ondo State resisted the political robbery of that perios with tragic consequences. And predictably, three months after being sworn into office for a second term of four years, the military struck and overthrew his administration.

Instructively, while he and the vice president, Alex Ekwueme, were detained following the coup, notable truculent members of his administration, whose actions contributed to the collapse of the Second Republic escaped into exile, including: Adisa Akinloye, Richard Akinjide, Umaru Diko, and Uba Ahmed.

President Shehu Shagari was not known to be a personally corrupt ruler, as some of the military rulers before and after him were known to be. He was flamboyant in his resplendent, well embroidered “Shagari Style” dress, with the tall cap to match. He enjoyed the pomp and pageantry of presidential power; and he enjoyed traveling the world. He liked paying state visits. In 1983, he left Nigeria on a scheduled trip to India on the sad day that the NITEL Building in Marina, the tallest structure in Nigeria, was consumed by an inferno. On that day, he visited the burning NITEL building on his way to the airport, left it burning, and embarked on his trip.

President Shehu Shagari certainly was not like many politicians of the Fourth Republic, who engaged in massive asset stripping of the Nigerian state in the name of privatisation. Nor did he recklessly loot the treasury of the country, as many of them have done. But, by his laissez faire approach to governance, his negligence of duty, his permissiveness and his lack of exhibition of a disciplined leadership, he created a basis for the collapse of the Second Republic.

It was sad that when the possibility of a military coup stared him in the face, he attempted to dissuade senior military officers from embarking on the coup by allegedly providing luxuries for them, including gifting Mercedes Benz cars to the upper echelon of the military. That did not stop the planned usurpation of power.

As we mourn the passing of President Shehu Shagari, in a country like ours where our cultures prescribe that we do not speak ill of the dead, and where our past and recent histories are often distorted or forgotten, we must truthfully state his poor leadership records, even as we recognise his warm, and genial personality.

This is the right thing to do. By so doing, history is not robbed. Facts are not distorted. And the current power welders, who are “good people” surrounded by some “bad people” may take heed in the realisation that personal character and integrity means nothing if they are not matched with transparent competence, and if it cannot be used to prevent bad people who find their ways into power from being the determiners of the direction of government, while the elected good people wring their fingers and do nothing.

Adieu President Usman Aliyu Shehu Shagari.

Jiti Ogunye, lawyer, public interest attorney, legal commentator, author, and essayist, is the legal adviser to PREMIUM TIMES.

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Why I backed APC in Osun rerun – Omisore

Why I didn’t support Adeleke during Osun gov rerun – Omisore

Omisore, middle, with APC leaders

Femi Makinde, Osogbo

The governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party in Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore, has said that he opted to support the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, in the rerun election in the state because the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state said they did not need his support.

Omisore said this in Osogbo on Thursday during a meeting with members of the SDP from across the 30 local government areas of the state.

Omisore, who defected from the PDP to the SDP some months before the election, said that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar wanted to come and discuss with him before the rerun when he came to Osogbo but he (Atiku) was prevented from coming by the leadership of the PDP in the state.

A former Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines, Dr Yemi Farounbi, had said this while narrating why Omisore decided to work for the APC candidate in the rerun supplementary poll held on September 27.

Farounbi said the same thing and Omisore, while addressing the party members, said he adopted everything the former envoy had said.

He said the party opted to support the candidate of the party that was ready to implement the manifestos of the SDP because the party was for the best interest of the majority of the people.

Omisore said, “I want to adopt all what Dr Farounbi said. We gave them (APC and PDP) our manifesto. We dwelled on payment of arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities, on local content, employment for our youths and the reorganisation of the educational system, among others.

“We went to negotiation with a clear mind that Osun must be free and thank God our coalition has produced a new future for the state.

“In addition to what Dr Faroumbi said, the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomole, said clearly that our discussion was devoid of any financial commitment. He said they were ready to work.”

Speaking earlier, Farounbi had explained that the SDP leaders decided to support any political party that was ready to put the people of the state first, saying Omisore earned his respect more because he was selfless in arriving at who to support.

He said the issue of arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities which had impoverished workers and pensioners was given priority. The reorganisation of the education sector and local content were also prominent on their agenda.

Farounbi said, “Apart from these, we also said the state must return to 6-3-3-4. That contracts and services must be given to Osun indigenes; that infrastructural development and food security must be given priority because our people must not be hungry and they agreed.

“The Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, was the first to come and he came from the airport to Ile-Ife with some senators and Dr Doyin Okupe. We gave him our manifesto and we waited for 24 hours but no response. We heard that they were saying that we wanted to reap where we did not sow. We heard that they said they would win without us and all that.

“Also, former Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniel, who is the director general of Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation, called and said they were in Osogbo and they would come to see us. But they did not come.

“But former Vice President Atiku Abubakar called and expressed his regret for not being able to come. He said he wanted to come but the leadership of the PDP in Osun State said they should not come because they didn’t need us. That we should go and do anything we liked.”

Credit: The Punch

2019 Governorship: Ogboru, Dapo Abiodun, Cole make APC list of confirmed candidates

APC releases names of 24 approved governorship candidates (FULL LIST)

Lois Ugbede

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has released the list of 24 cleared candidates for the 2019 governorship elections.

The list was contained in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Yekini Nabena.

This list according to the statement is a result of the meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) held on Thursday.

“Following the Governorship Primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) held across the country, the Party’s National Working Committee (NWC) at its meeting held on Thursday, 4th October, 2018 ratified the reports of the various Electoral Committees and adopts the under-listed as Governorship candidates of the APC for the forthcoming 2019 general elections,” Mr Nabena said.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the APC held its primaries across states from September 30 spilling into October due to rescheduling of the exercise in some states and controversies in others.

The party did not name candidates in some states whose primaries are yet to be resolved. New electoral panels will be set up to conduct governorship primaries in Imo and Zamfara states, the APC said in an earlier statement. No candidate has been named yet for Adamawa.

Below is the full list of approved candidates

1. ABDULLAHI UMAR GANDUJE – KANO STATE

2. MOHAMMED ABUBAKAR – BAUCHI STATE

3. SIMON LALONG – PLATEAU STATE

4. NASIR EL-RUFAI – KADUNA STATE

5. MOHAMMED BADARU ABUBAKAR – JIGAWA STATE

6. AHMED ALIYU – SOKOTO STATE

7. ABUBAKAR ATIKU BAGUDU – KEBBI STATE

8. AMINU BELLO MASARI – KATSINA STATE

9. ABUBAKAR SANI BELLO – NIGER STATE

10. BABAGANA UMARA-ZULUM – BORNO STATE

11. MAI MALA BUNI – YOBE STATE

12. ABUBAKAR A. SULE – NASARAWA STATE

13. EMMANUEL JIMME – BENUE STATE

14. BABAJIDE SANWO–OLU – LAGOS STATE

15. TONYE COLE – RIVERS STATE

16. UCHE OGAH – ABIA STATE

17. NSIMA EKERE – AKWA-IBOM STATE

18. ADEBAYO ADELABU – OYO STATE

19. DAPO ABIODUN – OGUN STATE

20. GREAT OGBORU – DELTA STATE

21. OWAN ENOH – CROSS-RIVER

22. INUWA YAHAYA – GOMBE STATE

23. SUNNY OGBOJI – EBONYI STATE

24. SANI ABUBAKAR DANLADI – TARABA STATE

Credit: Premium Times

Corruption: The US Senate report that finally nailed Atiku Abubakar

Corruption: The US Senate report that finally nailed Atiku Abubakar

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar

Abubakar has for a long time been challenging Nigerians who accused him of being corrupt to come forward and prove it. So far nobody has come forward.

Well, PMNEWS has received a report on how Atiku was the subject of a probe ten years ago, by a United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Senator Carl Levin.

The report detailed how Atiku Abubakar while still the vice president of Nigeria between 2000 and 2008, used offshore companies to siphon millions of dollars to his fourth wife in the United States, Jennifer Douglas.

Specifically, the report said Jennifer Douglas, an American citizen, helped her husband bring over $40 million in suspect funds into the United States through wire transfers sent by offshore corporations to U.S. bank accounts.

In 2004, the then President Bush barred Atiku and other corrupt politically exposed persons from being issued visa to the United States.

The US Senate probe was motivated by US government concern about corruption in the Third World and its corrosive effects on the development of honest government, democratic principles, and the rule of law.

“It is also blamed for distorting markets, deterring investment, deepening poverty, undermining international aid efforts, and fostering crime. Some have drawn connections between corruption, failed states, and terrorism. Corruption also continues to be a massive problem. The World Bank has estimated that $1 trillion in bribes alone exchange hands worldwide each year,” the committee noted in its bulky report.

Atiku was not the only foreign Politically Exposed Person(PEP) probed by the committee. He had company in Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, now the 48-year-old son of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mbasogo, the President of Equatorial Guinea (EG), late President of Gabon, Omar Bongo and three Angolan PEP accounts, involving an Angolan arms dealer, an Angolan government official, and a small Angolan private bank.

The committee submitted its report on 4 February 2010, three years after Atiku left office.

The report unveiled violations of US laws by Atiku and his fourth wife, Jennifer Douglas. It also included revelations about Siemens bribe paid into one of the accounts, and it possibly provided the basis for Atiku being barred from entering the United States, since then.

This Report examines how politically powerful foreign officials, their relatives, and close associates – referred to in international agreements as Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) – have used the services of U.S. professionals and financial institutions to bring large amounts of suspect funds into the United States to advance their interests. Using four case histories, this Report shows how some PEPs have used U.S. lawyers, real estate and escrow agents, lobbyists, bankers, and even university officials, to circumvent U.S. anti-money laundering and anti- corruption safeguards. This Report also offers recommendations to stop the abuses.

Here is a summary of the report:

Atiku Case History.

From 2000 to 2008, Jennifer Douglas, a U.S. citizen and the fourth wife of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and former candidate for President of Nigeria, helped her husband bring over $40 million in suspect funds into the United States through wire transfers sent by offshore corporations to U.S. bank accounts.

In a 2008 civil complaint, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Ms. Douglas received over $2 million in bribe payments in 2001 and 2002, from Siemens AG, a major German corporation.

While Ms. Douglas denies wrongdoing, Siemens has already pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges and settled civil charges related to bribery and told the Subcommittee that it sent the payments to one of her U.S. accounts.

In 2007, Mr. Atiku was the subject of corruption allegations in Nigeria related to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund.

Of the $40 million in suspect funds, $25 million was wire transferred by offshore corporations into more than 30 U.S. bank accounts opened by Ms. Douglas, primarily by Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Ltd., LetsGo Ltd. Inc., and Sima Holding Ltd.

The U.S. banks maintaining those accounts were, at times, unaware of her PEP status, and they allowed multiple, large offshore wire transfers into her accounts. As each bank began to question the offshore wire transfers, Ms. Douglas indicated that all of the funds came from her husband and professed little familiarity with the offshore corporations actually sending her money.

When one bank closed her account due to the offshore wire transfers, her lawyer helped convince other banks to provide a new account. In addition, two of the offshore corporations wire transferred about $14 million over five years to American University in Washington, D.C., to pay for consulting services related to the development of a Nigerian university founded by Mr. Atiku Abubakar.

American University accepted the wire transfers without asking about the identity of the offshore corporations or the source of their funds, because under current law, the University had no legal obligation to inquire.

Executive Summary

Combating corruption is a key U.S. value and goal, due to its corrosive effects on the rule of law, economic development, and democratic principles. In 2001, the Patriot Act made the acceptance of foreign corruption proceeds a U.S. money laundering offense for the first time, and required banks to apply enhanced scrutiny to private banking accounts opened for senior foreign political figures, their relatives, and close associates. In 2003, the United States supported the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, now ratified by over 140 countries. Also in 2003, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) formed an investigative group dedicated to combating foreign corruption by PEPs. In 2004, President Bush issued Presidential Proclamation 7750 denying U.S. visas to foreign officials involved with corruption, and Congress later enacted supporting legislation. A 2009 study sponsored by the World Bank analyzed PEP controls worldwide and recommended stronger measures to reduce corruption.

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (Subcommittee) initiated this investigation to learn how U.S. laws apply to PEPs utilizing the domestic financial system, and examine how foreign senior political figures, their relatives, and close associates may be circumventing or undermining anti-money laundering (AML) and PEP controls to bring funds that may be the product of foreign corruption into the United States. It is the latest in a series of Subcommittee hearings examining foreign corruption and its U.S. aiders and abettors.

During the course of its investigation, the Subcommittee staff conducted over 100 interviews, including interviews of lawyers, real estate agents, escrow agents, lobbyists, bankers, university professionals, and government officials. The Subcommittee issued over 50 subpoenas and reviewed millions of pages of documents, including bank records, correspondence, contracts, emails, property records, flight records, news articles, and court pleadings. In addition, the Subcommittee consulted with foreign officials, international organizations, financial regulators, and experts in anti-money laundering and anti-corruption efforts.

Credit: P.M. News

Saraki formally declares to run for president

Breaking: Saraki declares to run for president

By Anthony Ogbonna

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has officially declared to run for the president of Nigeria come 2019 election.

Saraki made his intention known during a dialogue with Youth and Young aspirants, held at Sheraton hotel, Abuja, on Thursday, august 30, 2018.

According to him, he possesses a blend of executive and legislative experience being a former governor of a state in Nigeria and now, the Senate President. Saraki said, as such, he has all it takes to “push for and implement reforms that will deliver real improvements in the daily lives of our people. I know what it takes to create jobs and grow the economy. I can make the tough decisions when it matters. I will spearhead a new agenda that can transform the lives of ordinary Nigerians in real terms.”

Saraki said it will not be business as usual because his government will, if elected as president, “be a dynamic government of action that will pursue the growth of Nigeria with doggedness, determination and conviction.”

Saraki also said that he will lead a result-driven administration that will set targets “with clear timelines to ensure that anticipated deliverables are met.”

Saraki said he will deliver on all promises driven by what is best for Nigerians.

The full speech reads thus:

“Let me say, once again, how wonderful it is to see so many talented and purposeful young people at this first edition of the Public Dialogue Series with Political Parties on Youth Candidacy and Party Primaries. Looking at you, I see future leaders who present themselves as capable and worthy to take on the mantle of leadership in this country, and this gladdens my heart.

From my interactions with many of you, and with your contemporaries across the country, I can see that we are blessed with a determined generation that stands ready to join with us to power a Nigerian renaissance. The quality of people I see here today affirms my belief that, indeed, you are Not Too Young To Run.

I deeply appreciate this opportunity to share some of my ideas about where we are as a nation, as well as the challenges before us as we approach the great decider that is the 2019 General Elections.

It is widely acknowledged that ours is a relatively ‘young’ country bursting with tremendous energy, ability and potential. More than 70 per cent of our population is under the age of 40. You are indeed the future of this country. Ordinarily, such a young population would be the envy of many Western countries that are faced with ageing populations, but the dire state of our affairs tarnishes the youthful advantage that we have.

Up and down our country today, Nigerians are crying out for succour. Many of our children are hungry. Many people are dying of avoidable or otherwise treatable diseases. Many have fallen below basic living standards, and are now among the 87 million that sealed Nigeria’s position as the country with the highest number of people in extreme poverty. Our young people lack opportunities. The necessary education facilities and system to equip them for the future simply do not exist. We are not creating the jobs needed to usefully engage them in order to grow our economy. And too often, the youth feel shut out, prevented from having any say in the direction of this nation.

The harsh conditions of extreme poverty faced by the people, fuels the state of insecurity all over the country. Hunger, lack of education and lack of opportunities push many Nigerians into criminal activities including terrorism. Many of our communities are paralysed with fear – due to incessant communal crises, kidnappings and other social ills, as well as the threat of terrorism. We are failing abysmally to tackle the problems of today and to prepare for the future.

Our economy is broken and is in need of urgent revival in order for Nigeria to grow. GDP growth rate has declined. Diversification remains an illusion. Unemployment is at an all-time high. Businesses are shutting down. Jobs are being lost in record numbers, and the capital needed to jumpstart our economy is going elsewhere.

Nigeria is perhaps more divided now than ever before. We are increasingly divided along regional, religious and ethnic lines. Nigerians are also divided by class, a festering gulf between the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have-Nots’. The fault lines of this nation are widening to an alarming degree. We must do something fast, and we must be brave about it.

We must ensure the security of lives in Nigeria. As things stand now, no one is safe in this country. No one feels truly safe. We must restore the sanctity of the rule of law and strengthen democratic institutions in order to build a just, fair and equitable society for all. We must rebuild the trust of our people in government. We need a new generation of leaders that are competent, with the capability to rise to the challenges of the 21st century. We must pull this country back together and rebuild, block by block, with dedication and commitment.

You will agree with me that this is an urgent task that requires the concerted efforts of each and every one of us. If we look around today, what do we see? What is the condition of our citizens? Where are we as a nation? How are we perceived locally and internationally? Why are we not making the expected progress? Why are we not growing? There is no time to waste. The time is now, to come together to stimulate growth in Nigeria, especially in the national economy.

The choice we face in the forthcoming election is either to keep things as they are, or make a radical departure from the old ways. To find a better way of doing things or keep repeating the mistakes of the past. To fix the problems or keep compounding them.

It is with all these in mind, and taking account of the challenges that I have outlined, that I have decided to answer the call of teeming youth who have asked me to run for President. Accordingly, I hereby announce my intention to run for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the coming General Elections in 2019 on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). I do so with the firm conviction that I have what it takes to secure inclusive growth for Nigeria and Nigerians.

My Plan for Nigeria has inclusion in all aspects of the country’s affairs as a central pillar. Every citizen has the inalienable right to feel a sense of belonging, no matter their background or creed, or what part of the country they come from. No matter who you voted for or what your convictions are, government must work for you.

Your generation does not deserve to live in the poverty capital of the world. It is no longer an issue of how we got here, but how do we get out of this situation? I promise you that I will lead the fight and employ every God-given resource available to us in turning things around. I am determined to grow Nigeria out of poverty. We will stimulate the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as one of the ways of energising the economy and to create wealth for our people, especially the youth.

I want to see the youth play major roles at all levels, not only in government but also in the private sector and indeed in every area of Nigerian life. This will be a government driven by youthful energy, innovation and a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit. Nigerian youth will be given all the opportunities to realise their potential to the full within a national framework that guarantees inclusiveness. For youth who have ideas and capacity, we will make sure that there is funding for their ventures; and we shall build on the Made in Nigeria legislation as part of our job creation drive.

My plan is to secure Nigeria by redesigning our national security architecture, while adequately equipping our security agencies to fulfil their primary role of protecting lives and property.

I will address our infrastructural deficit through aggressive financing initiatives including mutually beneficial PPP arrangements, regular floating of bonds and other financial instruments, which will ensure stable, adequate and reliable funding to see to the completion of core projects especially road, rail and power.

My plan is to protect all Nigerians and defend their constitutional rights and freedoms. I will stand for and uphold at all times the principle of the rule of law, which is the bedrock of democratic governance.

Ours will not be a selective fight against corruption. The emphasis will be on strengthening institutions, with a particular focus on deterrence. We cannot afford to compromise our institutions with proxy wars against perceived political opponents. We see the fight against corruption as crucial to Nigeria’s economic development.

I offer leadership driven by empathy. Where leaders are responsive to the citizens. Where they know that government cares. We will not be indifferent or turn a blind eye to the real concerns of our people. Every single Nigerian life matters.

For me, the leadership we deserve is one that will be a source of pride to all Nigerians, one that will be respected and admired in Africa and around the world. It should be a leadership that can hold its own and stand tall anywhere in the world. That is the type of leadership I offer.

As a former two-term Governor and currently President of the Senate by the grace of God, I believe I possess a unique blend of executive and legislative experience to push for and implement reforms that will deliver real improvements in the daily lives of our people. I know what it takes to create jobs and grow the economy. I can make the tough decisions when it matters. I will spearhead a new agenda that can transform the lives of ordinary Nigerians in real terms.

Believe me when I say that it will not be business as usual. This will be a dynamic government of action that will pursue the growth of Nigeria with doggedness, determination and conviction. I will lead a result-driven administration. We shall set targets with clear timelines to ensure that anticipated deliverables are met. You can benchmark us and hold us accountable. In short, I assure you that I will deliver on all promises. What I envision is a new chapter in governance in this country. We will be driven by what is best for Nigerians.

I have deliberately chosen the opportunity of being here with you, my Number One constituency who I see as the future of our great country, to make my intention known. I believe the Nigerian youth are critical to rebuilding and growing the economy, and restoring our national pride.

I therefore ask you and all well-meaning Nigerians to join hands with me in this noble cause.

My brothers, My sisters, Let’s Grow Nigeria Together.

God bless you all.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he concluded.

Credit : Vanguard

The great political transfer window

The great political transfer window

By Saratu Abiola, Contributor

Every four years, football plays a most wonderful game of What If.
What if you have Luka Modric, who plays for Real Madrid, and Ivan Rakitic, who plays for Barcelona, marshalling the same midfield?
Can Mo Salah be Mo Salah without Firmino and Sadio Mane? There are other tournaments, of course, but the World Cup provides the grandest stage.
As we watch, our league season loyalties are momentarily forgotten. A United fan is forced to reckon with a disturbing new fondness for Kante.
A Messi fan is forced to confront their hero’s underwhelming tournament when not fed with Iniesta’ through balls.
With national team football, the deck shuffles and our loyalties shift.
The players may now be on different sides, but we get a rare insight into what it is like for our loyalties to be elsewhere and understand that the disappointment at near-misses and ecstatic celebration hit us all in the same way.
If you’re in Nigeria, we now see a different kind of shuffling of the decks – in politics.
Saraki ported to PDP before Akpabio moved to APC, and that is just naming two seismic examples.
The musical chairs of defection will continue for a while yet while power brokers make their calculation of what would suit their short-term ambitions best.
We react in similar ways as when players move during a league transfer window; we simply follow the player when he moves, watch his progress in his new team.
However, if football can organize itself in ways that shocks us out of our typical loyalties, why can’t politics?
With all that is happening in our politics, you will be forgiven for forgetting that the stakes are quite high.
Nigeria is not a country without problems: for all the noise attributed to it, our agriculture is still beset with challenges where many farmers cannot yet access the financial and technical support to improve their productivity and achieve the government’s dream of self-sufficiency; we have a humanitarian crisis in conflict-affected states in the northeast where displaced persons live in the most grim of conditions; we have bans of importation of items where our government is not always providing the conditions for improved local production; we have drug problems; a healthcare crisis; an education crisis; we have communal violence in places that get the headlines, and in places that get less attention.
All politics is local, and many of the challenges Nigeria faces are as much local and state-level as they are national ones.
And yet, our politics renders us more rocking chair than vehicle; a lot of motion, but no movement.
The Nigerian version of Nero is the politician swapping jerseys while the country burns.
There are many who will contend that what Nigeria needs to do is give up on these two main parties and go for a third party.
After all, if your club never makes it out of the first round of a tournament, you simply find another to root for.
However, it is not quite that simple. Rooting for a non-major party candidate is a strong political statement, but it works on the assumption that simply having one good egg at executive level is all that is needed.
Nothing that we know about Nigeria, however, suggests that is true.
What if only major parties win the legislature and then decide not to work with the Executive?
Given that our two parties are essentially one and the same, is it too far-fetched to wonder if they can both collude to make a third-way president ineffective? We have no real way of knowing.
A candidate with good ideas is truly not enough, even if having ideas in the first place is a good place to start.
There are no good answers, but it is clear that where 2015 was a hope-filled election on the part of the electorate, 2019 will be a more cynical one. The use of security forces to intimidate lawmakers has now happened in consecutive election cycles.
We can hold the promise of a less-thieving government against the recent report from the Office of the Auditor-General that has shown us that our government is no more accountable than the one most of us voted out.
Insecurity many of us thought will be a thing of the past is very much a thing of the present and possibly our foreseeable future.
In many important ways, actions taken in the mistiness of hope are perhaps not the best time to take a measure of a people.
It is when no such hope exists, when the match has largely been played but with fifteen minutes still to go, and your team is down by two goals, and you are teed up for a free kick with a strong wall but just a glimmer of a sight on goal.
that what Nigeria needs to do is give up on these two main parties and go for a third party.
After all, if your club never makes it out of the first round of a tournament, you simply find another to root for.
However, it is not quite that simple. Rooting for a non-major party candidate is a strong political statement, but it works on the assumption that simply having one good egg at executive level is all that is needed.
Nothing that we know about Nigeria, however, suggests that is true.
What if only major parties win the legislature and then decide not to work with the Executive?
Given that our two parties are essentially one and the same, is it too far-fetched to wonder if they can both collude to make a third-way president ineffective? We have no real way of knowing.
A candidate with good ideas is truly not enough, even if having ideas in the first place is a good place to start.
There are no good answers, but it is clear that where 2015 was a hope-filled election on the part of the electorate, 2019 will be a more cynical one. The use of security forces to intimidate lawmakers has now happened in consecutive election cycles.
We can hold the promise of a less-thieving government against the recent report from the Office of the Auditor-General that has shown us that our government is no more accountable than the one most of us voted out.
Insecurity many of us thought will be a thing of the past is very much a thing of the present and possibly our foreseeable future.
In many important ways, actions taken in the mistiness of hope are perhaps not the best time to take a measure of a people.
It is when no such hope exists, when the match has largely been played but with fifteen minutes still to go, and your team is down by two goals, and you are teed up for a free kick with a strong wall but just a glimmer of a sight on goal.
Culled From The Guardian

Osinbajo sacks DSS boss, Lawal Daura

BREAKING: Acting President Osinbajo sacks DSS boss, Lawal Daura

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

In what appears to be a twist to the siege on the National Assembly by security operatives on Tuesday, the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, has sacked the Director-General of the Department of State Service, Lawal Daura.

The DSS and the Police had locked down the National Assembly on Tuesday, even as the Senate leadership had scheduled a meeting to hold in the chambers in the afternoon.

Lawmakers who came with the hope of attending the meeting were denied entry into the Assembly by the security operatives.

Lawmakers elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress had dissociated themselves from the security operatives’ actions, even as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party had accused the Executive and APC lawmakers of an attempt to truncate democracy.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, disclosed Daura’s sacking on his Twitter handle, @akandeoj.

He wrote, “AgP Yemi Osinbajo has directed the termination of the appointment of the DG of the DSS, Mr. Lawal Musa Daura.”

Details later…