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OPINION

Public institutions and public trust, By Jerome-Mario Utomi.

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Talking about the public institution, Mahatma Gandhi in his autobiography titled; The Story of My Experiment with Truth, among other things stated that a public institution is an institution conducted with the approval, and from the funds of the public, warning that whenever such an institution ceases to have public support, it forfeits its right to exist.

Institutions maintained on permanent funds, he noted, are often found to ignore public opinion, and are frequently responsible for acts contrary to it. And concluded that India at every step experienced situations where public institutions instead of living like nature, from day to day, abandoned the ideals of public trust.

Indeed, if such worry expressed about a century ago was ugly, what is currently happening here is a crisis. As the same attitude of ignoring public opinions has become a word made flesh, and now dwell among public institutions in Nigeria.

Concretely, developed societies encourage public institutions to get in constant touch with reality and open dialogues with well-informed but quietly influential citizens and organizations in order to benefit from their experience and expertize.

But what we have here is but a direct opposite- as the public institutions are against all known logic  reputed for flagrant disregard of public opinions, advice and requests from well-meaning Nigerians and organizations; that ordinarily ought to be their partners in the business of moving the nation forward.

Telling evidence of such scourge is the Code of Conduct Bureau’s (CCB) recent refusal to grant the Freedom of Information’s (FOI) request by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) for the release of copies of the declaration forms of former state governors and Presidents on the grounds that the declaration forms are private documents.

Admittedly, some documents are lawfully tagged classified. However, looking at commentaries, apart from the fact that power to decide whether the private document in a public office remain private or otherwise lies not within CCB but the Court, its refusal  to the request curiously negates provisions by both the ‘UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption which clearly articulates important roles for civil society in the fight against corruption further plagued the Bureau’s argument’.

And runs contrary to the provisions of Section 1(1) of the FOI Act which clearly stated thus; notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, law or regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is established.

Working under this condition, one becomes more and more occupied with questions as to how this attitude of public institutions in Nigeria can be corrected particularly as the sole aim of such establishments is service. Who will stop this progressive decay in our public institutions which like an unchained torrent of water is submerging our ‘political and socioeconomic countrysides?  Should we allow it to continue, leaving the nation to enjoy or suffer whatever fruit it bears in future?

Obviously, in my opinion, our principal duty for the moment should be to find out factors fueling public institution inefficiencies and disobedience to public opinion.

And as far back as I can remember a link inevitably exists in practical as well as moral terms, between these frosty behaviours of our public institution and bureaucracy which characterizes public administration in Nigeria.

Specifically, nothing supports this claim more than the position as argued by Robert Kiyosaki, a world acclaimed management consultant, where he among other concerns noted that the problem with the world is that many allow their institutions to be led by bureaucrats. And went ahead to define a bureaucrat as someone who is in the position of authority such as government/public office but who takes no professional and financial risks. And further underlined that a bureaucrat can lose a lot of money but they do not lose any of their own. They get paid whenever they do a job or not.

The above without  doubt explains why many Ministries, Departments and some other Government Agencies in Nigeria is without strategic plans in spite of development practitioners arguments that strategies and policies are fundamental to the progress and development of institutions. Having known that their salaries will be paid with or without doing any work, many of the public institutions don’t bother reviewing their policies.  Even in some extreme cases, the implementation of the existing policies have been characterized by discontinuity, reversals and somersaults’

It is on good the ground that one of the most basic of these realities is that since independence in October 1960, the country has demonstrated that there is no development plan that achieved fully its core objectives- a fault traceable to lack of systematic planning framework that ensures adequate data and research, good information system, monitoring and evaluation.

However, poor service delivery may not be the only consequence or bureaucracy, the only explanation for flagrant disregard of public opinion by public institutions.

The barefaced illusion by these civil servants that they are more nationalistic or patriotic than other citizens is a contributing factor. This baffling disposition in effect prepares the ground for exercising power and responsibility, not as a trust for the public good, but as an opportunity for private gains and promotes nepotism, cronyism and corruption as consequences.

Next to gross poverty of history which roundly prevents these bureaucrats learning from the consequences that befell their predecessor who ignored public opinion, is the excruciating poverty in the land which drives more people into the ranks of beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders insensible to demand quality service from public institutions.

 

Looking ahead, If truly a people- purposed leadership is what we seek if the accelerated economy is our goal, if social and cultural development is our dreams if promoting peace, supporting our industries and improving our energy sector forms our objectives, then, the solution lies  in the government’s  urgent recognition that those structures that created failures in those institutions will also prevent the  implementation of incentives that will improve performance. Also, attempting to engineer prosperity without first confronting the root cause of the problem and the politics that kept them in the place is a mere waste of time.

While calling for the restructuring of  public  institution to deliver service, Mr President should start thinking public-private-partnership for key responsibilities such as infrastructural development-a structural and managerial model globally recognized for curbing bureaucracy and corruption in public institutions and instilling public trust.

Monday 24h  June 2019.

The Editor,

Greetings.

Please, kindly find below/attached an opinion article with the above subject for publication; for the benefits of the reading public.

Again, many thanks.

Jerome-Mario Utomi,

jeromeutomi@yahoo.com

08032725374

Public Institutions and Public Trust

By; Jerome-Mario Utomi.

Talking about the public institution, Mahatma Gandhi in his autobiography titled; The Story of My Experiment with Truth, among other things stated that a public institution is an institution conducted with the approval, and from the funds of the public, warning that whenever such an institution ceases to have public support, it forfeits its right to exist.

Institutions maintained on permanent funds, he noted, are often found to ignore public opinion, and are frequently responsible for acts contrary to it. And concluded that India at every step experienced situations where public institutions instead of living like nature, from day to day, abandoned the ideals of public trust.

Indeed, if such worry expressed about a century ago was ugly, what is currently happening here is a crisis. As the same attitude of ignoring public opinions has become a word made flesh, and now dwell among public institutions in Nigeria.

Concretely, developed societies encourage public institutions to get in constant touch with reality and open dialogues with well-informed but quietly influential citizens and organizations in order to benefit from their experience and expertize.

But what we have here is but a direct opposite- as the public institutions are against all known logic  reputed for flagrant disregard of public opinions, advice and requests from well-meaning Nigerians and organizations; that ordinarily ought to be their partners in the business of moving the nation forward.

Telling evidence of such scourge is the Code of Conduct Bureau’s (CCB) recent refusal to grant the Freedom of Information’s (FOI) request by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) for the release of copies of the declaration forms of former state governors and Presidents on the grounds that the declaration forms are private documents.

Admittedly, some documents are lawfully tagged classified. However, looking at commentaries, apart from the fact that power to decide whether the private document in a public office remain private or otherwise lies not within CCB but the Court, its refusal  to the request curiously negates provisions by both the ‘UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption which clearly articulates important roles for civil society in the fight against corruption further plagued the Bureau’s argument’.

And runs contrary to the provisions of Section 1(1) of the FOI Act which clearly stated thus; notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, law or regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is established.

Working under this condition, one becomes more and more occupied with questions as to how this attitude of public institutions in Nigeria can be corrected particularly as the sole aim of such establishments is service. Who will stop this progressive decay in our public institutions which like an unchained torrent of water is submerging our ‘political and socioeconomic countrysides?  Should we allow it to continue, leaving the nation to enjoy or suffer whatever fruit it bears in future?

Obviously, in my opinion, our principal duty for the moment should be to find out factors fueling public institution inefficiencies and disobedience to public opinion.

And as far back as I can remember a link inevitably exists in practical as well as moral terms, between these frosty behaviours of our public institution and bureaucracy which characterizes public administration in Nigeria.

Specifically, nothing supports this claim more than the position as argued by Robert Kiyosaki, a world acclaimed management consultant, where he among other concerns noted that the problem with the world is that many allow their institutions to be led by bureaucrats. And went ahead to define a bureaucrat as someone who is in the position of authority such as government/public office but who takes no professional and financial risks. And further underlined that a bureaucrat can lose a lot of money but they do not lose any of their own. They get paid whenever they do a job or not.

The above without  doubt explains why many Ministries, Departments and some other Government Agencies in Nigeria is without strategic plans in spite of development practitioners arguments that strategies and policies are fundamental to the progress and development of institutions. Having known that their salaries will be paid with or without doing any work, many of the public institutions don’t bother reviewing their policies.  Even in some extreme cases, the implementation of the existing policies have been characterized by discontinuity, reversals and somersaults’

It is on good the ground that one of the most basic of these realities is that since independence in October 1960, the country has demonstrated that there is no development plan that achieved fully its core objectives- a fault traceable to lack of systematic planning framework that ensures adequate data and research, good information system, monitoring and evaluation.

However, poor service delivery may not be the only consequence or bureaucracy, the only explanation for flagrant disregard of public opinion by public institutions.

The barefaced illusion by these civil servants that they are more nationalistic or patriotic than other citizens is a contributing factor. This baffling disposition in effect prepares the ground for exercising power and responsibility, not as a trust for the public good, but as an opportunity for private gains and promotes nepotism, cronyism and corruption as consequences.

Next to gross poverty of history which roundly prevents these bureaucrats learning from the consequences that befell their predecessor who ignored public opinion, is the excruciating poverty in the land which drives more people into the ranks of beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders insensible to demand quality service from public institutions.

 

Looking ahead, If truly a people- purposed leadership is what we seek if the accelerated economy is our goal, if social and cultural development is our dreams if promoting peace, supporting our industries and improving our energy sector forms our objectives, then, the solution lies  in the government’s  urgent recognition that those structures that created failures in those institutions will also prevent the  implementation of incentives that will improve performance. Also, attempting to engineer prosperity without first confronting the root cause of the problem and the politics that kept them in the place is a mere waste of time.

While calling for the restructuring of  public  institution to deliver service, Mr President should start thinking public-private-partnership for key responsibilities such as infrastructural development-a structural and managerial model globally recognized for curbing bureaucracy and corruption in public institutions and instilling public trust.

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OPINION

25 lessons I learnt from Olusegun Osoba’s autobiography, ‘Battlelines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics, By Azuh Arinze

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I devoted my weekend to devouring Aremo Olusegun Osoba’s autobiography, Battlelines – Adventures In Journalism And Politics. And without any apology, I want to confess that I thoroughly relished and enjoyed it. I also would like to recommend it to all, but especially journalists and politicians whose terrains were well covered in the book.

Parading all of 341 pages, and published by Diamond Publications Limited, Battlelines, besides being racy and unputdownable, is simply one ‘helluva’ a book. Once you pick it up, you won’t want to put it down. And personally, I never stopped till I finished.

Like most autobiographical works, the book is littered with life’s lessons. But below are my 25 favourites:

1. ALWAYS BE PREPARED: Osoba, from my deductions from the book, was more than prepared, especially by his godfather, Alhaji Babatunde Jose, for all the roles he ended up playing, both in journalism and politics. Simply put, it was that preparation, both internal and external, that enabled him rise to the top ‘so fast’. Imagine having a Vespa and a telephone line even as a reporter! Osoba sure invested in himself and his craft.

2. YOU NEED QUALITY CONTACTS IN JOURNALISM: Osoba, in his active days, was not an ‘office journalist’. He was always out there in the field. And armed with enough quality sources and contacts, his report card is still being admired and saluted till date, even by the younger generation. For example, while the Nigeria/Biafra war was on and Zik made a surprise appearance at the Lagos airport, he was there to capture it; he also interviewed President Tubman of Liberia, President Gowon and equally got some exclusive photos, from the singular event, although the headline he gave the story: ‘Head Of State Excited, Very Happy’ later earned him an arrest by Umaru Shinkafi, who was in charge of national security then.

3. TO SUCCEED, YOU MUST BE READY TO TAKE RISKS: Osoba, a master risk taker, captured it thus: “A journalist who cannot take risk and is unadventurous is not worthy of the name…” Risk takers, sincerely, usually succeed more than those who are lily livered. And it’s evident in the book. From moving even when there was a curfew to venturing where many dreaded, Osoba, simply put, is lion-hearted.

4. RECORD KEEPING IS VERY IMPORTANT: Facts, indeed, speak for themselves. So, always keep records. Osoba, besides making some shocking revelations, was able to back them up with incontrovertible evidence(s). From Confidential government documents to decades-old letters, the Akinrogun has them all in the book. Obasanjo/I.A Taiwo, Jose/Sketch, Momoh/Ibrahim, Omowale Kuye/ Herald…Even personal communication/letters between Alade Odunewu/Babatunde Jose/L.L Cross concerning his studies abroad were all captured in the book.

5. PRAY TO BE AT THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME: Journalists are not spirits. They only depend on sources, ideas, tip offs and so on to write beautiful stories. Being at the right place at the right time also helps. And it really, really helped Osoba. Just two examples will suffice here – he had gone on a visit to Atom Kpera in Enugu and while waiting in the man’s office, the then CP of the State, Kafaru Tinubu came to inform him that Dimka had been arrested and thus he became the first to break the story; same with his discovery of the corpse of our then Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

6. YOU MUST ALWAYS STATE YOUR SIDE: And then let the people judge/decide. Osoba, from the book, detests being ‘lied’ against. And here is a solid example. Despite having conclude work on this very book, Afenifere chieftain, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, released his own book, ‘Telling It As It Is’, where he said certain uncomplimentary things about Osoba. Know what he did? He recalled his own book and added an extra chapter, which he called ‘Replying It As It Is…’ Just to state his own side!

7. TRIBALISM HAS ALWAYS BEEN IN NIGERIA: Yes, tribalism didn’t just start in our country. It has always been with us and most likely will continue to be. According to Osoba, just because he’s from Ogun, himself and Mr. Peter Ajayi were labelled non-Kwarans at the Nigerian Herald. So much so that the people after them almost succeeded in instigating General George Innih, the man who took over from Ibrahim Taiwo, who recruited him, to send them packing.

8. LOYALTY MATTERS SO MUCH: Besides his own angles, Osoba also talked about the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo; how despite advice against fielding J.S Olawoyin as UPN guber candidate in 1979, he still went ahead, just because of the man’s loyalty. And guess what? Olawoyin later lost to Adamu Atta of NPN.

9. ALWAYS GIVE HONOUR TO WHOM IT IS DUE: I love people who admit their imperfections, inadequacies, foibles and mistakes. Osoba, magnanimously, acknowledged APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as a man of both immense political sagacity and strategy. He gave a public ‘Tuale’ to the man whose followers and admirers fondly address as Jagaban, Lion of Bourdillon, Strongman of Southwest Politics, Alpha & Omega of Lagos Politics for the two new parties that eventually ended up as APC, the roping in of more political parties and ultimately the dislodging of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration and PDP.

10. LIES HAVE SHORT LEGS: But certainly not truth or the truth. Mercilessly accused of betraying Chief Frank Kokori, the erstwhile NUPENG President, who tormented the hell out of late General Sani Abacha’s life, and following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, won by Bashorun MKO Abiola, Osoba was however exonerated after 20 obviously agonizing and sad years of carrying that cross and stigma by Kokori, who exposed it in his memoirs that the fellow who sold him to his enemies was Mr. Fred Eno. The just, indeed, shall always be vindicated. Though it may take long, it must surely happen.

11. BE NICE TO THE PEASANTS: The saying that ‘oga’s life is in the hands of his houseboy and vice versa’ rings through in the book. While the security agents were looking for him here and there, the vulcanizers on his street, and who obviously he had been very nice to, were always tipping him and his wife off whenever they suspected any person or smelt any rat. Thus, he was able to repeatedly escape from Sergeant Rogers and his gang.

12. KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN: History never forgets. In fact, it always sticks out like a sore thumb. The shameful role played by Chief Francis Arthur Nzeribe, Abimbola Davies, their cohorts as well as their ignoble ABN (Association for Better Nigeria) was well documented and frozen for posterity in the book. So, let’s always remember tomorrow and be mindful of the things we do.

13. ALWAYS MAKE YOUR BOSS LOOK GOOD: Robert Greene, in one of his classics, 48 Laws Of Power, admonished us never to outshine the master. And this was exactly what Osoba did when himself and Abiola were trying to get the late General Musa Yar’Adua to convince his men to support Abiola. Abiola, according to Osoba, made a political mistake, but rather than blame him for that when confronted by an obviously angry Yar’Adua, Osoba chose to be the fall guy.

14. PRAY FOR A GOOD WIFE: He that findeth a good wife indeed has it all. And Abiola’s first wife, Simbiat, was a good example. According to Osoba, while trying to govern Ogun, which is also Abiola’s State of origin, it happened that Abiola was not only supporting SDP’s Abdullateef Dele, but had also given him N500,000 then. On getting wind of this, Osoba, a member of SDP and from whom Abiola not long ago sought a favour, visited him at home to complain. While they were at it and arguing back and forth, Simbiat, who obviously was eavesdropping and watching the drama unfolding in their sitting room, went to bring Abiola’s cheque book, insisting that he also be given a cheque of N500,000. And ‘na so equation come balance’.

15. BE A MAN OF PRINCIPLE: The late conscience of the nation, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, used to have one popular quote: ‘Stand for what is right even if you are standing alone’. Osoba, on a few occasions, did exactly that. And two examples will suffice here – one was when Obasanjo needed the support of Egba people, and face to face with Ebora Owu, Akinrogun told him he wasn’t going to do that; the second was when he personally issued a statement countering Egba’s support for Chief Ernest Shonekan, to ‘inherit’ Abiola’s mandate.

16. IT PAYS TO LEARN FROM THE MASTERS: We all need mentors; quality mentors. And just like the disciples of Jesus learnt at his feet, Osoba, politically, learnt at the feet of masters of the game like Obafemi Awolowo, Bola Ige, Michael Ajasin, Bisi Onabanjo…

17. A LITTLE MADNESS IS SOMETIMES GOOD: Yes! Nobody has a monopoly of madness, and Osoba confirmed it in Battlelines. Believing that Sketch, which Osoba was overseeing then was against him, Governor Omololu Olunloyo, had visited in Osoba’s absence and locked up the office. On his return, Osoba broke all the padlocks and ordered his men to return to work. To cut a long story short, a truce was eventually brokered. And that was it.

18. GOING TO PARTIES IS NOT BAD: In fact, we must all cultivate the habit of attending parties. But mostly quality parties. It is good for networking and other things too. It was while at a party at the Officers’ Mess in Marina, Lagos that one John Momodu informed Osoba about his sack from Daily Times, and instantly he swung into action and eventually had it reversed. Again, it was also at another party in Apapa that he met his wife, Derin, after their first encounter at the airport. Even the controversial story on the deportation of Shugaba, the GNPP Majority Leader in Borno State, accused of being from Niger Republic, equally came at a party.

19. LIFE IS AN UNENDING BATTLE: So also is jealousy. And Osoba had his fair share, both in journalism and politics. The sweetest thing,however, is that ultimately he triumphed over most of them. A vivid example in the book is Mr. Dayo Duyile’s alleged futile attempts to scuttle his joining Sketch.

20. CARRY YOUR PEOPLE ALONG: The popular saying, ‘chop alone, die alone’ must have ‘guided’ Osoba in most of his undertakings. Nearly all through the book, you would hear him talking about his two buddies, Peter Ajayi and Felix Adenaike. In fact, the trio were so inseparable that the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo nicknamed them ‘The Three Musketeers’. They were together in good times and in bad times. Which all of us must also learn from.

21. FORGIVE ALL, BUT DON’T FORGET ALL: Yeah, our Christian brothers and sisters may disagree with this. But that is Osoba for you. He forgives and forgets some, but definitely not all. Currently in the same political party with Chief Tony Momoh, who incidentally succeeded him as the MD of Daily Times, Osoba couldn’t resist capturing how Momoh attempted to have him sacked from Daily Times until he deployed his wide network to circumvent that. And according to him, both of them are still friends!

22. WE ALL LOVE WOMEN: Yes, all men do. Except those who pretend or choose to be discreet about theirs. Osoba admitted sowing his seeds of wild oats and tumbling under the duvets with daughters of Eve. He was a man about town and even dated a white lady, whom his mother never wanted him to marry. Everything, however, changed when the ebony beauty called Derin appeared on the scene, bought his heart ‘wholesale’ and locked it up permanently.

23. ALWAYS THINK ON YOUR FEET: To his then editor, he was after his job. But having occupied that position myself and also seen how panicky some editors become whenever they begin to see you as a threat, Osoba has my total support. A coup had just taken place, but rather than race to the office to do the story, an editor remains at home. A daring reporter steps in, does the story beautifully, ably guided by the great Babatunde Jose, his editor makes it to the office after almost 24 hours and then begins to accuse the reporter of eyeing his position! Anyway, Osoba eventually landed the position, but certainly not because he had his eyes set on that from the onset. Rather it was his good works that did it. So, you must always be strategic; don’t just do anything, but do the most strategic ones. They will always announce you and open special doors for you.

24. WE ENJOY DEFENDING OUR MISTAKES: Osoba, alleged to be temperamental, interestingly, blamed it on journalism. Hear him: “You cannot be in the newsroom and not be temperamental…” Hmmmm! Coming from an elder, I won’t say more than that.

25. AND YET WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES: Yes, nobody, including the master is insulated or exempted from mistakes. So, what exactly am I trying to say? Simple – it’s that some things could have been done better, especially editing-wise. On page 295, paragraph 1, …as Rogers told the curt (instead of court); still on that page, but in paragraph 2, …earlier in this book, I have (instead of had) narrated; on page 283, paragraph 6, …Ooni…was the first of (instead of to) discuss; on page 286, paragraph 4, …continued making ight (instead of light); on page 293, paragraph 2, …at Ogun Stae (instead of State) INEC; on page 306, paragraph 2, …Economic (and was missing) Financial Crimes Commission; page 315, paragraph 3, …earlier is (instead of in) the same speech; page 318, paragraph 2, …The (National) Independent National Electoral…; on page 40, last paragraph, you (instead of your); on page 17, paragraph 2,…Animashaun whose remains is (instead of are); page 31, paragraph 2…such as the Ajiborishas (,), Ajibodus and other (s is missing); page 108, paragraph 2,…succeeded also of because (instead of because of); page 153, paragraph 3…accussations (instead of accusations); page 160, paragraph 1,…while Ikenne wouold (instead of would); page 184, paragraph 1,…meant winning ar (instead of at)…

Hopefully, all that’s been noted above and others will be corrected in subsequent editions of this awesome book, which once again I implore everybody to get copies of. Thanks so much for reading and may all our battles always end in our favour…

– Azuh is a respected journalist, author and motivational speaker

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OPINION

Serial lies about Amnesty Programme, By Murphy Ganagana

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The Presidential Amnesty Programme is set to graduate no fewer than 137 persons trained in different vocational skills, its Official has said.

It is a sad commentary that the Niger Delta people face the paradox of having an amazing wealth in crude oil but are buffeted by a whirlwind that has choked genuine efforts to turn around the situation in a region that is bare in human capital and infrastructural development.

Ironically, parochial interests, greed and an unbridled sense of entitlement have beclouded sound reasoning of some persons who claim to be leaders of the region and possess a monopoly of knowledge on how to run interventionist agencies established by the Federal Government to address developmental challenges.

For these elements, there is no line between darkness and light; morality or absurdity. What is paramount is the means to acquisition of illicit wealth, power and fame, not the common interest of the Niger Delta people whose balloon of hope they’ve consistently deflated whenever it was inflated.

That is the scenario being enacted in their desperation to take over the office of Prof. Charles Dokubo, Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, whose unblemished integrity they’ve unsuccessfully been trying to blur with tar. My worry, however, is that the drama has taken an absurd dimension.

Recently, Pointblanknews, an online portal notorious for blackmail and promotion of fake news on Amnesty Programme published an “exclusive” report that Prof, Dokubo had fled the country to the United States “after being implicated in an N23billion looting under the cover of the National Security Adviser, Gen. Babagana Monguno”, who it alleged, was his godfather.

The news portal claimed its investigations revealed that the presidency had asked Prof. Dokubo to prepare his hand-over notes and hand over to the most senior civil servant in the Amnesty Office, but the NSA advised Prof. Dokubo to escape the prying eyes of security operatives and go into hiding in the US.

It further said the presidency was concerned with security reports detailing fraudulent contracts and payments of over N10billion and the looting of the Boro Town Amnesty Programme training facility in Bayelsa State to cover up N13billion fraudulent contracts. It summed up that a total of N23billion Amnesty funds were looted between 2018 and 2019.

These are pointblank lies sponsored and recycled overtime by self-styled leaders to distract Prof. Dokubo from working to achieve the objectives for which the Programme was initiated, except for the recent addition that he had fled the country; when, in fact, he travelled to the Washington DC on official duty after being duly cleared for the trip by the authorities.

It turned out to be an unfortunate outing for the purveyors of fake news who were unaware that Dokubo had returned to Nigeria on the day the “exclusive” was splashed on PointblankNews, which has elevated junk journalism to a nauseating level. As a face-saving measure, the publishers deleted the report from the news portal same day to befuddle undiscerning members of the public, in a clear case of mischief.

That was a misadventure in which the publishers of PointblankNews had a bloodied nose and quickly needed a pad to clean up. So they went to town the next day, September 3, with another fabricated report that Prof. Dokubo had laundered over N5billion in two Turkish banks in connivance with three senior management staff of the Amnesty Programme, including the directors of Administration, Procurement, and Legal Adviser.

The report also claimed that investigation on the case by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had been stalled because Dokubo is a nominee of the NSA, General Monguno, who is also the godfather of the acting chairman of EFCC. It further claimed that companies registered and owned by some of President Muhammadu Buhari’s principal aides and leaders of the All Progressive Congress, were awarded fraudulent contracts at the Amnesty Programme.

But it fell short of expectation on ethical standards as no mention was made of the two banks in Turkey where the alleged sum of N5billion was laundered and how it was perpetrated, neither were other details of alleged contract scams provided.

Rather than indulging in concoction of fake news in furtherance of their smear campaign against Prof. Dokubo with the objective of removing him from office, the publishers of PointblankNews might have earned for themselves, an inch of credibility (if there was any left for them), if only they had done a bit of checks and cross-checking of what was availed them as facts.

That way, they would have known that the unfortunate incident of vandalization and looting of the Amnesty Programme Vocational Training Centre at Kaiama, Bayelsa State by hoodlums in February, this year, had been under investigation by security agencies, particularly the Police, which has concluded its assignment and submitted a report to the appropriate authorities. I hope that the findings will be made public soon to put to rest the chain of fallacy churned out as exclusive news on PointblankNews about that incident.

I have no doubt that discerning and well-meaning Niger Deltans and Nigerians are conscious of the ignoble role of Pointblanknews to please their paymasters by discrediting Prof. Dokubo. Which is why, reports celebrated on the portal in recent times are mainly about Dokubo and the Amnesty Programme.

It is unfortunate that the publishers of PointblankNews have gone a step further by dragging the names of respected top government officials who have no business with the Amnesty Programme in the mud, in a desperate bid to get at Dokubo. My prayer is that his detractors will soon come to terms with the futility of their actions and succumb to the supremacy of the will of God, the Almighty. No human should play God.

*Ganagana is Special Assistant (Media), to the Coordinator, Amnesty Programme

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OPINION

A vision and flyers to fly with: A case study of Mallam Isa Pantami and Kashifu Inuwa

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By Hashim Suleiman

 

Let me start this piece from the year 2014 when me and my bosom friend Babukar Tanko through our always interactive and progressive discussions devoid of gossips and unrealistic dream birthed an idea about how we must encourage our young men especially those from the Northern part of Nigeria to imbibe the basics of how leadership comes by through capacity building and integrity. We basically wanted to encourage the government, private sector and political institutions to engage worthy young men as they were capable of injecting faster and most recent innovations in achieving their goals, many articles related to these have also been written by me and published in several media fora.

This entire idea birthed One Heart Initiative for Equity and Good Leadership which in-turn championed #30PercentOrNothing affirmative action and was coordinated nationally by my humble self. It was a non partisan effort aimed at speaking to both youths and institutions to harness one another, the entire aims and objectives is story for another day.

In the course of the above stated activities inter alia, we were also very interested in attending preaching classes and motivational speaking events and I remember vividly when Sheikh Zakir Naik came to Nigeria and was at the Ansarudeen Mosque at Maitama, Abuja, we were there at one of the days and his preaching about how the northern Muslims of Nigeria must embrace people of other faiths in the country with the aim of getting them attracted to the faith was aptly in tune with the aims and objectives of our vision and goals.

Subsequently that year was the Ramadan fast and all roads in Abuja led to Annur Mosque where there was a quintessential Sheikh from Saudi Arabia who had come to liberate Nigerian Muslims with a preaching that was very easy to decipher, we attended all of it and in the course we heard it was a young Sheikh from Saudi Arabia who was also  a PhD holder and was coming to contribute to the much needed awareness regarding Islam and  the general progress of the society as no society can grow without commensurate knowledge and awareness. At the end of the entire Tafsir session for the year 2014, I and Babukar were not the same people again and our vision for youth liberation and involvement in progressive activities got richer by no small means.

Thereafter, we moved on with our campaign for youth involvement and was always also echoing how the youth must behave appropriately to deserve such honors while the institutions must also select appropriately if they wanted to truly harness the ingenuity were highlighting in young people. Remember, the 2015 general election campaigns were also on at that moment and we visited all political parties, support groups, select private sector organizations and esteemed individuals. The entire idea was well received and the lot of it also afforded us an opportunity to understand better the complexity of the problems associated with young people and progress in Nigeria even though some appreciable number of them have done great things in personal capacity e.g Adebola Williams and Jaafar Jaafar etc.

In all of the above however, it was clear to me that if you have vision, then the most potent ingredient you need for it’s coming to fruition is people who will believe in it and fly with, we were blessed to have some of those in our movement and they were always ready to contribute their energy and resources to the success of the vision simply because they were convinced by the idea that the message was carrying.

Considering that it was a deliberate effort and self sponsored coupled with the complexity of the problems and lack of commensurate number of flyers to carry the vision, our activities retracted and we resorted to social media activism and motivational talks. The last major event we attended was the maiden dinner organized by Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari where we categorically told the young men there that they had to switch their social media handles from mockery to advertising government policies as some of those policies could be complex for those at the downtrodden to decipher and participate.

So now we are in change and there are lots of expectations, promises and the need to do things differently. We watched and observed and made comments where necessary then boom came an announcement about the appointment of Mallam Isa Ali Pantami as the DG of NITDA and the first thing I did was to reach to my phone and called Babukar Tanko, I said my friend change has come and he replied he was also about calling me. Change had come in the sense that the person we heard his preaching the other time about the sort of ideals that were essential for a new society had joined the team of a change government and again he fits into ideals and vision of our wanting to see excellent young men join the team of the management of the country. Everyone then moved on and there was a new perception from our side regarding the change movement. Further to that again, there was the coming in of people like Tolu Ogunlesi, Mallam Bashir Ahmad, Ismail Ahmed, Ife Adebayo, Abdulrahman Baffa Yola and others numerous to mention. It was generally not bad for us at One Heart Initiative.

Going forward, we began to hear about NITDA taking over major headlines over quintessential performance that was associated with capacity building, saving money related to execution of IT projects by the Federal Government as well as major efforts aimed at ensuring Digital compliance by the nation. These news never stopped coming and Mr. President himself had to attend the e-Nigeria summit for 2017 and because of the content he followed it up with attendance at the 2018 version. There was general acceptance by the public that NITDA had been transformed into an unusual government organization in Nigeria. These achievements and more catapulted Dr Isa Ali Pantami to become the Minister of Communications in the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the general acceptance of all Nigerians as square peg in square hole.

Almost immediately after the appointment, there was the filling up of the vacancy at NITDA with Mr. Kashifu Inuwa and a look at his resume revealed him to be the one who has been flying with the vision of his predecessor. This further revealed the wisdom and the secret behind the successes NITDA had experienced all along. More fascinating is how both have formed uncommon synergy to consolidate their already started efforts at rejuvenating the ICT industry in Nigeria which will now spread to the associated communications industries.

Messages like these are essential to be brought to the fore for purposes of enlightening the public in relation to loyalty and belief in credible  visions including mentorship and patriotism. Also very importantly to note is how criticism of policies of government must not be based on partisan considerations and bandwagon information. A closer look into events and activities could reveal information enough to make you form an objective assessment of ventures.

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

Hashim Suleiman wrote from FCT, Abuja. oneheartnaija@yahoo.com

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