Each time I see television reports, online videos and snippets from the actions, activities and pronouncements of Yahaya Adoza Bello, the governor of Kogi State, I cannot but draw comparisons between him and Mohamed Abdulsalam Onuka. Not many remember the latter, but he was a lieutenant colonel in the Nigerian Army, who was deployed to serve as military administrator of Edo State, during the administration of Gen Sani Abacha.
In a state brimming with top class military talent across the services at the time, Abacha favoured the young Onuka at the time and made him chief executive of one of Nigeria’s most politically sophisticated states. Just in case you have forgotten, Edo State is the home of Brig-Gen Samuel Osaigbovo, who as military governor of the Old Midwestern State, was easily one of the greatest success stories of the Yakubu Gowon dispensation. Edo State is also the birthplace of Admirals Augustus Aikhomu and Mike Okhai Akhigbe, who served at various times as Nigeria’s Number Two citizens, in the official designation of Chief of General Staff, CGS.
Onuka was famous for intemperate language, abrasive comportment and unbridled arrogance of power. He was brusque, brash and impulsive. He traversed the expanse of Edo State, with his trademark swagger stick, barking orders, spewing threats, sacking and dismissing workers in tow. He seemed overzealous to impress his masters in Abuja, who were even more discerning and genteel than he was, as the Abacha gang strove to legitimise itself in the immediate post ‘June 12’ era.
I cannot forget one of Onuka’s televised appearances on Nigerian Television Authority, NTA Network news, in the course of his visit to one of the many state-owned parastatals, sometime in 1994. I recall I was visiting a friend in his Oregun, Lagos accommodation that day and like the newsmen we are, we tuned to the news telecast to catch up with the day’s events. And there was the voice of Onuka belching out of one of the news reports, his eyes blazing like the furnace of the bronze casters on Igun Street, Benin City: ‘This is the last time I want to see things this way. The next time I have cause (to) come back here, you will see the redness of my eyes.’ Then he stormed out, military escorts and security personnel fawning over themselves to clear the way for him…
I don’t know if Abacha watched that Aminian dramatization by Onuka. I wouldn’t know if it was the CGS to Abacha, Lt. Gen Oladipo Diya who did. Better still, I can’t recall if it was the revered royalty in Benin, the Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, N’Ogidigan, Oba Erediauwa II himself who put a call through to Aso Rock, Abuja, seeking an end to the continued repression and mistreatment of his subjects by Onuka. What I know for sure is that a few days after that inglorious outing on national television by Onuka, his tour of duty as military administrator of Edo State, came to an unceremonious denouement.
Appointed as chief executive of the state on December 9, 1993, Onuka got the boot on September 14, 1994, after barely nine months in office. He was promptly replaced by a more mature, more charismatic, less noisy and controversial Bassey Asuquo, an army colonel. And trust the military with its punitive, if not vindictive reward for misdeamenour, Onuka was flung, with immediate effect, to the battlefields of Sierra Leone on a peacekeeping mission in a nondescript capacity. And that marked the beginning of the end of an otherwise promising career, the same pedestal on which the Hamid Alis, the Jafaar Isas, the Olagunsoye Oyinlolas and the Buba Marwas, among others, rode to subsisting national acclaim and relevance.
I have been checking Wikipedia recently and it tells me Yahaya Adoza Bello of Kogi State and Mohamed Abdulsalam Onuka, are indeed first cousins! Maybe herein lies the uncanny congruences and affinities in their destinies, persona, official carriage and administrative demeanour.
Yahaya Bello loves the military swagger stick. It is a part of his customary sartorial make-up. The only times I have not seen his walking stick with him, are in those short video clips of his boxing trainings where the gloves he wears, prevent him from adorning the stick. From the biography of him in the public space, he was most probably still in secondary school when his older cousin was military administrator and strutted about with that trademark stick. And he loved it.
Very much like Onuka, Bello was awarded the governorship of Kogi State on a platter of platinum. Here is a man who didn’t campaign to be elected governor, whose name was not on the ballot paper, who didn’t contest to be governor, but who was woken up by a phone call and presented the position as a fait accompli! Yes, Abubakar Audu, a two-time governor of the state and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was coasting home to victory in that November 2015 gubernatorial election, when the unexpected happened and he died just before the conclusion of the election. Against all electoral and political permutations, a strange legalistic invention to the effect that the runner-up in the primary election which produced Audu as candidate, become beneficiary of the votes cast for Audu, and by extension, ‘duly elected’ governor of Kogi State! And thus entered Yahaya Bello. Bello, before then was totally unknown in Kogi State.
Yes, he contested the APC governorship primaries in the state in 2015, but he walked away as soon as he lost. There is no record of him accompanying the campaign train of the APC in the build up to that election, because he was sore and bitter from his predicted loss at the primaries, and he opted to abstain from the process.
Onuka, his cousin, was as well an unknown quantity in the Nigerian Army, probably serving as Staff Officer or Battalion Commander in Bama or Bakassi, retiring to a bottle or two of kunu or Trophy lager beer at the close of work every day, before fate catapulted him to the leadership of Edo State.
And what has Yahaya Bello done with this fairy tale opportunity since his inauguration as governor of Kogi State in January 2016? He has striven assiduously, committedly and consistently to make the state the headquarters of national scorn and public opprobrium in all ways possible. Kogi State is easily the capital of mass suffering, pervading misery, palpitating insecurity, inestimable despondency and crippling despair across the country.
Workers’ salaries and emoluments are unpaid. Labour unions have been unanimous and consistent in saying that the salary backlog is in hovering around the 40-month mark. The civil service has been phenomenally degraded and debased such that permanent secretaries at the topmost echelon of the bureaucracy commute to work on motorbikes! Pensioners who gave their active and productive years in the service of state and country are deprived their gratuities and entitlements.
The economy of the state, largely powered by the civil service, is virtually crippled. Sales are low, businesses folding up. Many businessmen have indeed folded up and left the state. Hunger walks on all fours in the state, poverty has become a way of life. Kogi State today holds the infamous national medal for the state with the highest rates of depression, stroke and suicides.
Amidst such despair and hopelessness, ‘GYB Boys’ as the clique of like-minded characters around Yahaya Bello brand themselves, live in such grandeur and opulence, with contrasts so disturbingly sharply with the overall morass around and about them. They ride the choicest, automobiles adorned with women procured from tertiary institutions in the state, move about with bands of police escorts and live large like tomorrow will never come. They virtually talk down the people by their body language, as though saying: ‘This is our time, to hell with you.’ Kleptocracy is at its despicable best, even as a recent intelligence report indicated that an attempt to convert the sum of N7 Billion for a serving, top government official in Kogi State, to USD, was discovered, blocked and reported to the President.
Gangsterism, thuggery and lawlessness have become critical aspects of governance and statecraft by a governor so power-drunk he’s ever taking an aim at critics, enemies and antagonists, real or imagined. The Office of the Deputy Governor has been virtually abrogated and the powers transferred to the Chief of Staff. Even as the National Judicial Council, NJC, found no merit whatsoever in the governor’s petition seeking his summary removal, Bello has since instigated the pathologically genuflecting state assembly to orchestrate the ouster of the Chief Judge. Such is the reign of terror foisted on Kogi State by Yahaya Bello.
You descend into the lounge of your hotel in Lokoja, and you are greeted by gruff-looking, gun-wielding fellows in unfamiliar uniforms pacing about. They are operatives of the private army of the Bello government, christened the Kogi State Vigilante Services, whose very activities as they patrol in unmarked vehicles is a recurring source of trepidation for the people.
The recent general elections witnessed a new high in provocative, state-sponsored illegality and brigandage, where state appointees, notably commissioners, advisers and local government administrators personally bore arms and targeted hapless citizens, as they fell over themselves attempting to impress the Capone in the hall of infamy. This is the abyys into which Yahaya Bello has dragged Kogi State, in the last 40 months.
Traditional rulers who were once the conscience of the people, who spoke truth to power in the service of their subjects, have become an integral part of the propaganda machinery of the administration. Except for the revered Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Alhaji Abdul Rahman Ado Ibrahim (the paramount ruler of Bello’s home ethnicity by the way), who has been typically blunt and courageous in telling the governor some stinging truths, the others have been cringing and caterwauling before him, for fear of being deposed or not being presented their staff of office, for those who haven’t been installed.
Those of us who believe in the energy, the vibrancy, the resourcefulness and the creativity which the youth can bring to any sphere of human endeavour and have always canvssed youth inclusiveness, as well as members of the younger generation themselves, must be thoroughly disappointed and embarrassed by the below par outing of Yahaya Bello in Kogi State. Yet, our democracy has thrown up genuinely youthful bright lights across the political spectrum who left positive imprints on the sands of time. Donald Duke was 37 when he was elevated governor of Cross River State in 1999. His legacies still echo around and about the state. Nnamani Chimaroke became governor of Enugu State at 39, Bukola Saraki became chief executive of Kwara State at 41, we can go on and on with examples.
My mind just keeps going back to how people stroll into irredeemable oblivion, after handcrafting the mismanagement of providential opportunities, very much like Yahaya Bello.
There are loud insinuations that he may not get the governorship ticket of the APC at the August 2019 primaries. If the party desires to begin the process of salvaging whatever is left of its battered reputation in Kogi State, that would be strategically face-saving. Yahaya Bello is a grievously unsellable brand.
If the courts rule that his sack of Haddy Ametuo-led APC executive last year and his singlehanded installation of a new executive is null, void and of no effect like we’ve witnessed in Rivers, Delta and Zamfara states, that report card of his conquest in the last elections, culminating in two senatorial positions, seven House of Representatives seats and 25 State House of Assembly offices, becomes ash dust.
If perchance he survives these two landmines and confronts the rage of the people at the polls on Saturday November 16, 2019, not even the fear of guns, bullets and machetes will break the resolve of a people he has so Pharaonically suppressed.
And Yahaya Bello, head bowed, shoulder dropping, takes the long walk to join his ageing kinsman and mentor, Mohammed Abdulsalam Onuka, on the vacant, lonely roadway to Agassa.
* Debo Alabi is a public affairs analysts
Festus Keyamo: Amazing story of his journey to the top
One of the major problems the Nigerian nation is facing is the PhD syndrome. In Nigeria, everybody is a PhD holder. By this, I mean Pull Him Down syndrome, once you have access to a dilapidated computer and you’re able to manage its keyboard, then the coast is clear to indulge in self gratification by yelling some nonsense down a hole. Like they say, Nonsense is so good, only, because common sense is so limited.
It is the twilight of another democratic assembly and again, as expected, errand boys, employed by political opponents have began the usual mudslinging games. Some attention seeking political jobbers, in a bid to impress their paymasters have started throwing gauntlets, looking for victims where there are none, just to steer the body polity-a case of kettle calling pot black.
A typical example is a fictitious article making the rounds where a self-harm writer of an article titled, ‘Keyamo’s Reward’ spuriously conjured his deliberative polling on one of Nigeria’s gifted young men with exceptional intellectual ability, Barrister Festus Keyamo, SAN.
The sad thing is, the problems of this generation are its dramatic personae. We don’t ever see anything good in ourselves. The writer, though gave credence to the brilliance and intellectual capacity of the legal luminary, Festus Keyamo, like all hatchet men, he didn’t forget the primary briefs from his sponsors- to weigh-in, undermine and subvert the sterling and exemplary career status the young man, Festus Keyamo has laboured to build over the years.
Maybe he should be reminded that excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.
Those who have followed the footsteps and career mastery of the youngman will not be surprised the way he has emerged so far. He, is a product of dedication, doggedness and gradual result of always striving to be better, in actual fact, excellence, to Keyamo, is not a skill, it is an attitude. His likes are rarely found and more rarely valued.
The writer did not forget how he has nurtured a blossoming career from that super genius youngman who hails from a humble background and how he was able to walk tall amongst scores of brilliant legal team at the late Gani Fawehinmi’s chambers to earn himself the ‘Gani Boy’. If the dead do look back for real, the late legal icon, Chief Fawehinmi will be proud of what he has become at the moment and if it’s that easy, the mischievous writer too should have been able to step into the shoes of the famous Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Shoyinka but obviously, wicked and envious people never see anything good in greatness for envy is pain at the good fortune of others.
He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration, the youngman has prepared himself for this job long ago right from his civil rights activism days to his relentless battle at the legal field.
His sins must have been his willingness to accept to serve his fatherland and they’ve forgotten that, the worst disservice to any nation is the act of winking in the dark. We now live in a world where politics has replaced philosophy, there’s no way you can make a difference if you continue to bark from behind.
Leadership is the ability to have a compelling vision, a comprehensive plan, relentless implementation, and talented people working together. It is however, not by chance that the C-in-C, President Mohammadu Buhari had had the vision to choose someone whose cerebral influence, oratory prowess and over bearing personality was able to break the enemy’s camp without fighting during the last presidential election.
There’s no doubting the fact that, guided missiles from misguided men are expected at this point in time, from those cowards who now play victims to circumstances they created.
Jite Usman Writes from Akoko Edo, Edo State Nigeria
Ministerial Nomination: Godwin Jedy Agba, best man for petroleum ministry
One of Nigeria’s very experienced energy administrators, Mr. Godwin Jedy-Aba, is a minister-nominee of President Muhammadu Buhari. And there is, understandably, song and dance in the quarters of those who know the capacity and experience of the nominee in the oil and gas sector. But for those who crave the enthronement of mediocrity to aid and abet the culture of incompetence or the regime of laissez faire in the management of the petroleum sector, the prospects of Jedy-Agba emerging as Buhari’s choice for the critical sector cannot resonate well with them.
Regardless of the prognosis of possibilities or otherwise, Jedy-Agba is one of the few “technocrats” in a list that has been largely dubbed “political” by critics. Notwithstanding his previous temperate, restrained and strategic foray into partisan politics, his accomplishments and exploits as an astute administrator have not diminished a bit. His administrative savoir faire and legerdemain had been writ-large in his public service trajectory from which he retired at the NNPC.
While the likely portfolio that would be assigned to the Prince of Obudu from Cross River state is not the subject of this piece of writing, it is, however, not in doubt that Buhari has made up his mind about using the few “technocrats”-like Abubakar Malami (SAN), Sunday Dare (journalist) Osagie Ehinare (consultant physician) et al, in his list to man some specialized ministries to demand value for knowledge and experience.
And, if this is the intendment, then one does not need a crystal ball to guess where Jedy-Agba, a former Group General Manager (GGM), Crude Oil Marketing Division (OMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will likely be assigned: perhaps, not far away from the petroleum ministry. While it is unlikely the President will hands off his direct control of the Petroleum Ministry, as the substantive Minister-in-charge, he will need a brilliant and effective minister of state who can be saddled with all the basic responsibilities of the ministry without caving in.
If the politics of administration is played with humility and wisdom, a minister of state can enjoy the privilege of full control with the confidence of the President to boot. Nothing suggests to the contrary that Jedy-Agba cannot be trusted to deliver on a presidential mandate with tact and precision. That will be in spite of the salacious narratives by detractors and traducers who are on a voyage of upending a luminous epoch that beckons.
With President Buhari’s commitment to consolidating on the achievements of his first four years in the saddle, attention is focused on experience. The president appears unprepared to gamble with “untested hands”. He is greatly seeking to make a better impression in his second term of office. To do this, he cannot afford to put square pegs in round holes. Buhari cannot afford to deploy a learner who cannot take the pressure off him in the administration of the critical petroleum sector.
Besides, time is of the essence. While the nation is waiting to see the ministers hit the ground running, critics are also waiting to feast on the administration’s mistakes.Viewed from any angle, Jedy-Agba is a good pick who could help the administration to weather the storm in the entire oil industry. That is why the malicious media campaign against him has been thick. His traducers know that he cannot be stopped when he gets cracking in delivering on any mandate.
Sadly, we are in a season where traducers who masquerade as critics, are wont to sacrifice everything – knowledge, capacity and accomplishments – at the altar of contrived criticisms in the guise of seeking the promotion of perfection in the land of sinners. This is not unexpected. However, the ninth Senate is urged not to entertain needless distractions in the screening and confirmation hearing of Jedy-Agba.
But of course, while the law must take its course where and when it is activated to do so, a phony media campaign to smear someone who has never been questioned or prosecuted by any anti-graft commission, must never be dignified as something worth scrutinizing or countenancing. President Buhari was an appointee of the late General Sani Abacha. Hundreds of millions of dollars that were taken out of Nigeria during that regime have been recovered from the late dictator and his family; but, this cannot, in anyway, qualify or translate as an indictment, simply because Buhari served under Abacha.
Unfortunately, the merchant of the smear campaign against Jedy-Agba cannot grapple with the fact that he was a top official of the NNPC, who could not escape working with a Minister of Petroleum. It is therefore disingenuous and wicked to think that everyone who has anything to do with Deziani Alison-Madueke, in the line of duty, is guilty as opined in the media. This is distasteful and uncharitable. This concern is not just about Jedy-Agba alone but it is also inclusive of everyone who had previously worked with Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Interestingly, in all the corruption cases filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) involving Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, there is not one in which Jedy-Agba has been listed as a party, whether separately or jointly with her. This is a matter of judicial records for anyone to verify. In addition, the sponsors of this narrative about his involvement in large scale corruption under Diezani Alison-Madueke should also have known that the security agencies must have subjected the nomination of Jedy-Agba to due diligence checks before the final pick.
This nomination, for Jedy-Agba, is a spring board for bouncing back to a familiar terrain of service, having worked for several ministers as a Personal Assistant and in different other capacities between 1985 and 1995. He is perhaps one of the most versatile nominees with requisite administrative experience, who once worked at ministerial level. For decades, he had acquitted himself creditably and meritoriously without scandals. He is indeed a great addition to the Buhari’s team. It is going to be difficult to cut shady deals on his watch behind the government, whether or not he is sent to the petroleum sector.
It is therefore not impossible that the people behind the smear campaign against Jedy-Agba are among the notorious oil mafia and cartel whose deep backend activities and shady deals are threatened by this strategic nomination. Jedy-Agba knows the oil industry like the palm of his hand, and his likely headship of the sector or as a minister of state to Buhari is bound to ruffle feathers and put an end to some underhand dealings. The level of opaqueness in the management of public finance in the oil industry in Nigeria has continued to be worrisome. This could thus be another tough call for an administration that has committed itself to fighting corruption.
It could be recalled that Jedy-Agba’s onerous tasks as Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, NNPC had put him in a good stead to manage a complex terrain. He was responsible for liaising with Crude Pricing & Technical Evaluation Section on Price movement and other input data for market reports. He also monitored and analyzed consumption of other energy types, terms of cost availability and relative impact on world petroleum supply/demand balance. Jedy-Agba was simply vast and deep; and was capacitated enough to handle his huge responsibilities.
The campaign of calumny will not be over even after the senate screening and confirmation hearing. To be sure, those behind the sponsored malicious media reports are likely to shift their attack to the specific – calling on the president, not to appoint him as a Minister of State for Petroleum, while playing up their unsubstantiated allegations. Regardless of the shenanigans, Jedy-Agba remains a wonderful pick.
Tasks before Kyari in turning around NNPC, By Abba Dukawa
ALL eyes are now on Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Male Kolo Kyari in turning around the fortunes of the Corporation and also need to make the company to be runs in very transparent ways. In view the challenges before him in whirling the NNPC to practice the best norm in the world oil industries. There is need for Kyari, to focus his attention on the implementation of the findings of the audit reports of the NEITI which has severally indicted the NNPC of operational maleficence. Nigerians were expected see that his nicked mane of Mr. Transparent really translated into the way he will tackle on poor transactional transparency, as NNPC had over time recorded differences in actual volume of crude oil lifted and actual volume of production NEITI stated.
A recent World Bank report had shown that Nigeria spent N731 billion to subsidizes petrol consumption last year. The report had explained that within the year under review, Nigeria’s oil sector declined in productivity, ending on 1.9 million barrels a day (mbd) production mark as against the government’s hope of 2.3mbd.
In April 2019, Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) in its publication of National Oil Company Database, place NNPC as one of National Oil Companies (NOCs) with record challenges of transparency. There is need for Kyari to initiate a see-through process in management of the corporation’s operations and also making it more profitable. It’s hardly and even became part of NNPC tradition not disclosed its net income from core revenues; capital and operational expenditures; cash flows from operations; total assets worth to public.
Saudi owned of National Oil Company ARAMCO raked in profits of £85 billion in 2018 as most profitable company making more than Apple and Google combine. Aramco raked in more cash than global ITC giant companies, Apple made roughly $60 billion, while Exxon Mobil made roughly $20 billion). The Wall Street Journal reported. ARAMCO revealed details of its finances for the first time since it was nationalized in the Seventies as part of a push ahead of its first bond sale.
Nigerians expected to see Kyari turning around the fortunes of NNPC into rakes profitable national oil company through openness, transparency and accountability. Establish a concrete economic Diversification plan with a concrete path to a post-oil future for Nigeria, based on emerging global trends.
This plan, akin to the Saudi Arabian government’s economic diversification plan, should include a clear strategy with interlinked policies – trade, industrial, fiscal – and far-reaching structural and governance reforms of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that could include partial privatization (with share listed on the stock exchange for purchase by ordinary Nigerians and not by Government- Related cronies).
The uncanny tasks before GMD are to turn around the nation’s nation feeble refineries remained terribly poor in operation and mostly constituted a deficit to NNPC cash flow. This decades problems placed the NNPC as a mere trader in the oil industry as against its potentials as a national oil company capable of establishing and running profitable ventures in the Upstream and Downstream sectors of the industry. Finding a lasting solution would in many ways be a plus to Kyari and his team. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation recorded losses in the region of N551.46bn between January 2015 and December 2018. The Corporation repeatedly failed to meet projected profits as its subsidiaries, particularly refineries, running cost at the headquarters and other arms left whopping deficits.
Things you need to know about Kyari
Male Kolo Kyari was appointed to head production sharing contracts management in the Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD). Also led the team that proposed and managed the Direct Sales And Direct Purchase (DSDP) arrangement of petroleum products from 2016 till date replacing the Crude Swap Arrangement. Under his watch, the Crude Oil Marketing Division has recorded noticeable transformation in the management and sales of the various Nigeria’s crude oil grades via an infusion of transparency and automation of the processes.
He contributed to reconcile alleged loss of $48 billion and established actual status of transactions involving NNPC in 2014. Malam Kolo Kyari pursued the determination of the tenure of the Amenam/Kpono carry arrangement with potential savings of over $1 billion; he also revised and initiated the process for the redetermination of the Applicable Fiscal Regime for the Addax PSC with potential shortterm savings of $1.6 billion. As the group general manager, crude oil marketing division. He created systems to ensure maximum transparency and accountability of crude oil and gas sales in the industry. He was the supervisor of production sharing contract for the NNPC.
Mr. Transparent’ he was one of the major people that came up with the NNPC’s commodity trading initiative. This initiative makes it possible for the government to know those who are buying the country’s crude and at what prices, and how much has been made. Kyari led various teams in developing the petroleum industry bill (PIB) that redefined the government’s take in production sharing contracts with oil companies. He was the secretary of the FG INTER-AGENCY team that coordinated the creation of the current basis of the fiscal and regulatory framework of the PIB.
He is unionists, per excellent and he is fearless toward welfare of his follows members and Kyari popularly called ‘Grand Chairman or Mr Transparency by other comrades in the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) often refer to him as a comrade after he was group chairman of NNPC PENGASSAN.
Male Kolo Kyari won four awards, namely: GMD Prize for the Overall Best Performance for NNPC Management Development Program; GED CS Award for Best Performance in Leadership; GM Group Learning Division award for Best Project work, NNPC Management Development Programme; and Examiners award for 1st Runner-up for Effective Presentation.
Dukawa a public commentator and can be reached at email@example.com
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