Nnamdi Oduamadi claimed a hat-trick as Nigeria shook off the jet lag to thrash minnows Tahiti 6-1 in their opening Confederations Cup game in Belo Horizonte on Monday.
The African champions only arrived in Brazil 36 hours before the game after a row over bonus payments, but they could even afford some wasteful finishing as they leapfrogged world champions Spain to the top of Group B.
It was a predictably chastening experience for Tahiti, ranked 138th in the world, but they were nonetheless able to celebrate when Jonathan Tehau headed in their first ever goal at a high-profile international event.
Tehau's goal, early in the second half, trimmed Nigeria's lead to 3-1 after a deflected Uwa Echiejile shot and a pair of goals from Oduamadi had put Nigeria in command.
However, the south Pacific islanders' hopes of a famous comeback were dashed as Tehau put through his own goal before Oduamadi and Echiejile added further goals to give Stephen Keshi's men a spring in their step ahead of Thursday's crucial showdown with Uruguay.
A sparse crowd of just 20,187 made their way to the newly renovated Estadio Mineirao but they were vocal in their support of Tahiti, who registered the game's first shot on target through Vincent Simon.
Fortune deserted the underdogs moments later, however.
After the ball bounced off referee Joel Aguilar, Echiejile launched a speculative shot that deflected off Tehau and captain Nicolas Vallar and ricocheted past Tahiti goalkeeper Xavier Samin.
Oduamadi added two more, neatly side-stepping a pair of challenges and sweeping home in the 10th minute, before tapping in his second when Samin spilled a low cross from Ahmed Musa.
Nigeria made heavy work of putting the game to bed though, with Musa miskicking in front of an open goal before Anthony Ujah and Sunday Mba both allowed Samin to save when clean through on goal.
Tahiti had already seen their one professional player, Marama Vahirua, drive a shot narrowly over, and they threatened to make things interesting as Steevy Chong Hue headed wide from a Ricky Aitamai cross.
Musa miscued again from 12 yards early in the second half, before the goal that Tahiti had been threatening arrived in the 54th minute.
The honour fell to Tehau, who headed in a deep corner kick from Vahirua at the back post and then led his ecstatic team-mates in a canoe-paddling celebration.
The goal also sparked jubilation on the bench, coach Eddy Etatea leaping from the dug-out with his fists in the air, but Tehau's day took a turn for the worse in the 68th minute when he inadvertently toed the ball into his own goal to restore Nigeria's three-goal advantage.
Oduamadi tucked in a cross from substitute Brown Ideye to complete his hat-trick in the 76th minute, with Echiejile adding a sixth shortly after as Tahiti's reserves of resistance finally ran dry.
Federal Government, yesterday, announced a discovery of about N58 billion, which some revenue-generating agencies of government refused to remit to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) in collaboration with some banks.
In a statement, the Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, threatened that such agencies accounts would be frozen.
The minister said that the objective of the conspiracy against the national interest is clear: “To keep government monies indefinitely in accounts earning interest for individuals at the expense of the Federal Government and the Nigerian people.”
This unwholesome practice has persisted despite the efforts of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) to encourage the agencies and the affected banks to do the right thing.
“Rather than comply, the agencies and banks, through their lawyers have engaged in all manner of legal subterfuges to ensure that monies which are due to the Federal Government are not remitted,” the minister said.
She also noted that the act is totally unacceptable and the Federal Ministry of Finance is determined that this practice must end forthwith.
To this effect, he said that starting Monday, June 17, 2013, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, in exercise of its powers under the extant laws and rules, will close the accounts of agencies involved in this practice in all banks.
Source: Sun Newspaper
The ex-wife of a Nigerian oil tycoon won a landmark divorce settlement battle in the UK's Supreme Court on Wednesday in a closely watched case that had raised concerns about the accessibility of corporate assets in wealthy divorces.
Family law practitioners and wealth managers were watching to see how the court could issue a fair judgment without piercing the legal "corporate veil" which treats companies and their shareholders as separate entities.
Ex-wife, Yasmin Pres Photo: AP
In a decision that will affect anyone seeking to protect personal assets by putting them into a corporate structure, Britain's most senior judges upheld a ruling which awards Yasmin Prest a share in seven properties controlled by her husband's company Petrodel Resources Ltd.
The court ruled the property, initially represented as assets of the offshore company, was actually held in trust for her oil trading ex-husband Michael Prest from whom she was seeking the balance of a 17.5 million pound divorce settlement.
"I'm delighted and relieved that the Supreme Court has ruled as it did," Britain's Press Association reported Yasmin Prest as saying after the judgment in the case Petrodel Resources.
"None of this would have been necessary if Michael had been sensible and played fair."
Sandra Davies, head of Family Law at top British law firm Mishcon de Reya, told Reuters that although the court ruled the assets be transferred to Yasmin Prest, it did not set a legal precedent on access to corporate assets because the property was actually held in trust for Michael Prest.
"There has to be a situation where the husband has done something to evade, frustrate, put the company beyond his control with deliberate intention," she said. "There has to be some element of unfairness, illegality about it."
Despite the careful ruling, family law partner Sam Longworth at Stewarts Law firm said Wednesday's decision would have a significant weakening effect on court powers when dealing with sophisticated wealth structuring in a divorce setting.
"This will encourage wealthy spouses to consider 'divorce planning' before and during marriage, which risks further undermining the institution of marriage," he told Reuters in an email.
Solicitors for Yasmin Prest said that the court's ruling left legitimate companies with little to fear, while restoring an element of fairness in the area of family law.
"This is a great result for Mrs Prest and for others who might find themselves in a similar position," said Farrer & Co Partner Jeremy Posnansky.
"The Supreme Court's decision will ensure that dishonest husbands can't cheat their wives and flout court orders by hiding behind a web of deceit and a corporate façade."
The long-awaited revisions to Nigeria’s gross domestic product data have been a drawn-out saga. Nevertheless, whenever the revised data are released, they are likely to show that Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer have already claimed South Africa’s crown as the continent’s largest economy.
Most developed countries overhaul their GDP calculations every five years to reflect changes in output and consumption. This is particularly true in emerging economies, where measurement techniques tend to be less developed. But Nigeria's economic output data is still calculated using 1990 as the base year, which fails to capture booming sectors like mobile telecommunications and the “Nollywood” film industry that have emerged since then.
The National Bureau of Statistics of Nigeria has been working since early 2012 to gather enough data to rebase Nigeria’s GDP. The original plan was to complete the revisions last year, but the finish date has repeatedly been postponed due to technical difficulties (i.e., low survey response rates). Yemi Kale, the statistician-general of the Federation, admits he underestimated the size of the task. The proposed revisions have now been delayed until 2014 -- hopefully in the first half of the year.
First, the base year for real GDP will be altered from 1990 to either 2010 or 2012, to capture structural shifts in the economy by giving more weight to sectors such as retail and telecoms. Agriculture, which last year made up 40 percent of Nigeria’s GDP, is likely to decrease in influence, with telecoms and entertainment sectors given larger weightings. The second change is the use of improved methodology and surveying techniques, according to Capital Economics African economist Shilan Shah.
Africa’s second-largest economy has been one of the continent’s most consistent performers in recent years, with annual gross domestic product increases of between 5 percent and 8 percent since 2003. In the first quarter of this year, growth was 6.56 percent.
While the petroleum sector’s contribution declined due to legislative uncertainty and industrial scale theft of crude oil, the non-oil sectors remained a strong driver.
Early estimates suggest that, as a result of the revisions, measured GDP in Nigeria ($258 billion in 2012) could increase by up to 40 percent in nominal terms. Even taking a conservative estimate of a 20 percent increase, Nigerian GDP would overtake South Africa’s by 2014, according to Shah.
While this seems enormous, there have been some notable recent examples of changes to GDP data showing huge underestimations of the size of an economy.
For instance, following revisions in 2010, Ghana’s measured nominal GDP was shown to be 60 percent bigger than initially thought, Shah said in a research note. Similarly, revisions to Turkish nominal GDP in 2008 revealed a 30 percent increase.
On the positive side, the rebasing will help Nigeria narrow the budget deficit and public debt ratios as a share of GDP. However, the revision would reduce the relative size of Nigeria’s current account surplus.
“Given the current account surplus has been in decline for some time, this will raise further questions about the effectiveness of the management of oil revenues,” Shah said.
Towards the realization of July time frame for the amendment of the 1999 constitution, the Senate committee on the review led by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Wednesday, formally presented its report on the floor of the green chamber. One of the main highlights of the report is the proposed amendment of the relevant sections on local government administration in the country. This includes, among other things, abolition of state/local joint government accounts, direct funding of state houses of assembly and state independent electoral commissions. Auditor-General and Attorney-General are to also receive funding directly from the state Consolidated Revenue Fund.’’ In the same vein, there are equally indications that the Senate might be considering inclusion in the 1999 Constitution a provision that will stop the allocation of funds to any local government council that is not being run by democratically elected officials. “
The report reads in part: “In the bid to engender accountability and efficient service delivery, the committee proposes the creation of first-line charge for certain bodies and offices in the states. “State houses of assembly, state independent electoral commissions, auditor-general and attorney-general of a state are to get their funding directly from the state Consolidated Revenue Fund.’’
Since the advent of the present democratic experiment, autonomy of local governments has been a recurring issue in the polity due to illegal diversion of funds belonging to the local councils by their respective governors. In the bid to make the administrators subservient to their whims and caprices, some governors even have deliberately refused to conduct local government elections and put in place caretaker committees to oversee the affairs of the local governments. As a recent statistics shows, only 17 states of the federation including the FCT have elected officers running the affairs of their local governments as enshrined in Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution. As a result, it has been very difficult to make the officials at that level to be accountable to the people. It is also part of the reasons why performance has been abysmally low across the states of the federation.
If these recommendations eventually scale through the state and national assemblies, it will surely go a long way to reduce overbearing influence of the governors. But it appears the governors wouldn’t let be, as they have consistently continued to oppose the bill. Before the latest crisis that is plaguing Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), its embattled Chairman, Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, literally launched an open campaign against the proposal, insisting that it would not see the light of the day. The question now is: Will NGF succumb?
While the controversy still rages, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has also raised its opposition against the planned policy, fearing that it would affect the fortune of education sector. Their resistance to the proposal is based on the past experience where local governments piled up backlog of arrears of salaries of primary school teachers with resultant strikes that also paralysed the subsector. The President of the union, Comrade Michael Alogba said, “The entire teachers of this country are saying no to local government autonomy. Not that we have any fear or any grudge against the policy but because of the fact that local governments had been given such responsibility in the past, they failed woefully. That is the fear Nigerian teachers are entertaining. We are aware that the House of Representatives is handling the matter; we pray they represent the entire Nigerians very well. We would not want a situation whereby the recorded gains in the sector will be thwarted by this uncalled for autonomy.”
It was gathered that members of the Senate Constitution Review Committee, at their recent retreat in Lagos State, agreed that any council that is not under the control of elected chairmen should be excluded from benefitting from monthly allocations from the federation account. Therefore, when amended, the constitution may include a provision that will totally outlaw funding councils run by caretaker committees since there is no provision for such arrangement in the constitution.
The aim is to enhance effective performance of elected local government Chairmen. Before the fresh wave of agitation for the autonomy of local government, control of the affairs of the local councils was vested in the various ministries of local government and chieftaincy titles. This was part of the measures to ensure prudent management of resources at the grassroots level. But most analysts have criticized the supervisory role of the states because local governments have always been used as conduit pipe for siphoning money meant for development. This concern may have informed the decision of the senators to provide for a clause that would further be inserted in the constitution to authorise the Federal Government to release funds for the payment of local government staff while caretaker committees would be denied access to funds in states that may want to resist the new law. The belief in most quarters is that elected chairmen will perform better under autonomy arrangement given the support of the party.
It has equally been argued that abolition of state/local government joint accounts would check corruption as well as embezzlement of public fund. The implication is that elected officers will now be directly answerable to the people. Some pundits are, however, skeptical that council administrators may become reckless for lack of supervisory role of the state. But the proponents of the idea maintain that it is better for the electorate to be the watchdog than allowing the state to control council resources.
If as it is being suggested, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is given the power to conduct local government election as against state electoral bodies, it will be impossible for the ruling parties to manipulate election in favour of their candidates. At present, there is hardly any state where the opposition has won local government election. It has always been winner takes all syndrome.
A level playing ground that guarantees a free and fair contest will not only promote competiveness among parties in power but also accelerate the pace of development at the grassroots level. Unlike the present arrangement where governors use their power of incumbency to foist unpopular candidates on the people, performance will now be a yardstick for election of council officials. That way, it will strengthen the power of the people to demand accountability.
But there are fears and apprehensions among concerned stakeholders that conferring the power to supervise local government election on the INEC may be at variance with the principle of power devolution, which is primarily the objective of the new reform policy. Besides, the tendency is there that the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) may want to use the federal might to penetrate the states under the control of the opposition, unless the INEC is determined to sustain its integrity as an unbiased umpire.
Even at that, the issue of speedy and fair resolution of electoral disputes that often arise from one irregularity or the other during the conduct of election may be a huge challenge to the judiciary. It will be recall the in the recent past, some judgments of the tribunals have raised a lot of questions on the integrity of the judiciary. A case in point is Osun and Ekiti State Appeal Court Tribunals which brought in Governor Rauf Aregbesola and Kayode Fayemi respectively. The way and manners the matter was handled has made many people to lose confidence in the judiciary. With the deluge of petitions that may likely follow local government election, the crisis of confidence now bedeviling the judiciary can only be best imagined. Only a staggered election can reduce the burden on the tribunal.
Source: Daily Sun
Countries with Largest Number of People Living with HIV Infections
South Africa - 5,600,000
Nigeria - 3,300,000
India - 2,400,000
Kenya - 1,500,000
Mozambique - 1,400,000
Tanzania - 1,400,000
Zimbabwe - 1,200,000
Uganda - 1,200,000
United States - 1,200,000
Russia - 980,000
Source: CIA World Factbook, 2009 estimates
Global AIDS Figures
People Living with HIV
Adults - 30.1 million
Children - 3.4 million
People newly infected with HIV in 2010 - 2.7 million
AIDS deaths in 2010 - 1.8 million
Nigeria and Mexico played out a tantalising, and at times, breathless, 2-2 friendly in Houston’s Reliant Stadium. A Chicharito strike was cancelled out by an Ideye Brown penalty, and with Mexico down to ten men following the dismissal of Pablo Barrera, Nigeria took the initiative through a deflected John Ogu strike.
Unfortunately, their lead was not to last, and Chicharito popped up once again in the second half to save face for El Tri.
Heading into the contest, both teams were in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable predicament; being unbeaten in five—as the pair were—ought to inspire confidence, but instead there was unease and uncertainly.
Nigeria, shorn of some of their finest attacking talents, beset by internal strife and player politics, and reeling after an unsatisfactory home draw with Kenya in World Cup qualifying, approached the game under massive pressure.
Mexico, meanwhile, had problems of their own; some disappointing results prompting malaise within the camp.
The early stages saw the North Americans prosper. Keeping a fast tempo, using their pace down the flanks, and swamping the midfield, Mexico sought to take control and put pressure on the Nigeria backline.
Photo By Melissa Phillip
Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle
Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle
In midfield, Ogenyi Onazi and Sunday Mba battled manfully—the former particularly tireless—but were generally overwhelmed, with Mexico seizing the initiative in the middle of the pitch and the heart of the contest.
It was a massive test for the two midfielders—both revelations at the Cup of Nations. Who could have imagined, only a year ago, that these two would be headlining the Super Eagles midfield heading into such an important period of fixtures?
Eventually, after a few close shaves, the pressure told, and Pablo Barrera fed Chicharito through on goal on 21 minutes. The Manchester United forward didn’t need a second opportunity to profit from some particularly shoddy defending from Godfrey Oboabona and Kenneth Omeruo, and sent a simple finish past Austin Ejide—deputising for Vincent Enyeama in the Nigeria goal.
At this point, Mexico were firmly in the ascendency.
But in football, as in life, fate often plays unexpected tricks, and from a position of absolute disarray, Nigeria suddenly found the initiative swinging firmly to their corner.
After some over-elaboration from the previously impressive Andres Guardado, Onazi regained possession in the midfield. He was quick to play through the forwards, and a quick interchange forced a smart save from Coruna in the Mexican net. Unfortunately, the rebound was saved in similar fashion by the previously-impressive Barrera.
The block, interpreted as a goal-denying handball by the referee, warranted a straight red card and a penalty; Ideye Brown made no mistake, and stepped up to confidently spank the ball past Corona.
From this point, Mexico shrank, while Nigeria grew into the African champions they are. Further attacking forays forward were met by firm resistance, until the ball was cut back to John Ogu on 40 minutes.
The assist was inviting, and the midfielder’s brave strike flew in past the stranded Corona after a cruel deflection off veteran anchor man Gerardo Torrado. In the blink of an eye the complexion of the contest had changed, and the advantage lay firmly with Nigeria.
Ignoring a horrible miss by Aldo Di Negris at the death of the first 45, it was the West Africans who sought to dominate the game, clearly keen to make the most of their man advantage.
The second half began much as the first ended, with the Super Eagles now looking the more adventurous and the more likely to secure another goal.
However, as they struggled to find a convincing rhythm in attack, Mexico—perhaps inspired by the partisan crowd—pushed forward. Eventually, the North Americans found an equaliser.
Former Fulham man Carlos Salcido, perpetually dangerous down the left side, sent in a delectable ball at the second time of asking, and Chicharito made no mistake.
The poacher demonstrated sublime movement, positioning and finishing to nip in ahead of Enyeama—a half-time substitute, and hit an equaliser with a smart finish.
As the second half came to a close, it was Mexico that looked more likely to find the winner—despite their numerical deficit. Twice, Enyeama showed his class—athletically preserving his six yard box, before saving sharply at his near post.
Nigeria battled hard in midfield, and often sought to find cohesion in the final third, but ultimately struggled to get in behind the Mexican defence—an Oduamadi deflected shot which hit the crossbar being a notable exception.
A 2-2 result will be more encouraging for Mexico, particularly after the first half dismissal of Barrera. Nigeria, with so many key personnel absent, struggled for rhythm, and were often left exposed in defence. Still, the performance of Ogenyi Onazi, and the contributions of the wide players, can be regarded with optimism ahead of a crucial summer.
KANO, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigerian authorities said on Thursday they had arrested three Lebanese in northern Nigeria on suspicion of being members of Hezbollah and that a raid on one of their residences had revealed a stash of heavy weapons.
The three suspects were arrested between May 16 and May 28 in the north's biggest city Kano, the city's military spokesman Captain Ikedichi Iweha said in a statement. All had admitted to being members of Hezbollah under questioning.
A raid on the residence of one of the Lebanese had uncovered 11 60 mm anti-tank weapons, four anti-tank landmines, two rounds of ammunition for a 122 mm artillery gun, 21 rocket-propelled grenades, seventeen AK-47s with more than 11,000 bullets and some dynamite, he said.
"The arms and ammunition were targeted at facilities of Israel and Western interest in Nigeria," Iweha said, but did not elaborate.
Separately, five fighters from Chad and two from Niger were arrested among insurgents fleeing a two-week-old offensive against Islamist sect Boko Haram in the northeast, as they tried to cross the border into Chad, Nigeria's defence spokesman Brigadier General Chris Olukolade said in a statement.
Authorities believe there has been a growing involvement of al-Qaeda-linked foreign jihadists in Nigeria's insurgency.
The secret service detained the first suspect, Mustapha Fawaz, on May 16 at his supermarket in Kano. His interrogation led to other suspects, including Abdullah Tahini, who was later arrested at Kano airport with $60,000 in undeclared cash.
The third, Talal Roda, a Nigerian and Lebanese citizen, was arrested on Sunday at the house where the weapons were found two days later.
"The search team uncovered an underground bunker in the master bedroom where a large quantity of assorted weapons of different types and caliber were recovered," Iweha said. "All those arrested have confessed to have undergone Hezbollah terrorist training."
The possibility of a link with Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram, which Nigerian forces are battling in a major offensive in the northeast, was being investigated, Iweha said at a news conference.
An alliance between Salafist Sunni Muslim Boko Haram and Shi'ite Hezbollah would be unusual, and there has never previously been evidence of such a link.
Though most Nigerian Muslims are Sunni, there are several thousand Shi'ite Nigerians, a legacy of Muslim radical Ibrahim Zakzaky's preachings since the 1980s. Zakzaky still leads Nigeria's main Shi'ite movement and has campaigned for an Islamic government and stricter adherence to sharia law.
Iweha declined to say if any link to Zakzaky was being investigated, and his movement is currently seen as largely peaceful.
A Nigerian court sentenced an alleged member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and a Nigerian accomplice to five years in prison this month over an illegal shipment of mortars and rockets seized in the main port of Lagos in 2010.
Making his first official trip to sub-Saharan Africa, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday demanded that Nigeria respect human rights as it cracks down on Islamist extremists and pledged to work hard in the coming months to ease tensions between Sudan and South Sudan.
Kerry, attending the African Union's 50th anniversary, backed the Nigerian government's efforts to root out Boko Haram, an al-Qaida-linked radical sect. But he said there is no excuse for abuses by armed forces in Nigeria's long-neglected north, where President Goodluck Jonathan has declared emergency rule.
"We defend the right completely of the government of Nigeria to defend itself and to fight back against terrorists," Kerry said. He added, however, that he has raised his concerns with Nigerian officials to insist on the military "adhering to the highest standards and not itself engaging in atrocities."
"One person's atrocities do not excuse another's," Kerry said. "Revenge is not the motive. It's good governance, it's ridding yourself of a terrorist organization so that you can establish a standard of law that people can respect."
Speaking to reporters alongside Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Kerry also blamed Sudan's government for much of the tension along its volatile border with South Sudan. He says residents in the contested areas of Blue Nile and South Kordofan don't want to be subjected to strict Islamist rules.
Both areas border the new nation of South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011 under an agreement that ended decades of civil war. Many residents are sympathetic to the South, and both areas have experienced regular violence in recent years.
"There are very significant border challenges, but they're bigger than that," Kerry said. "You have people who for a long time have felt that they want their secular governance and their identity respected."
"They don't want independence; they are not trying to break away from Sudan," he said. But he said the response from Sudan's government has been to "press on them through authoritarian means and violence an adherence to a standard that they simply don't want to accept with respect to Islamism."
"That's the fundamental clash," Kerry said.
He acknowledged, however, the North's concerns that the South is fueling rebels in the areas and said the U.S. would try to work with Ethiopia and other international partners to ease tensions. He said he'd soon appoint a new American envoy to both countries.
Kerry met Sudan's foreign minister later Saturday.
His meetings in Ethiopia's capital also included the U.N. and African Union chiefs and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
The Associated Press
"We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism”--- Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr.
The legendary American civil rights leader could well be addressing the Nigeria of today given the relevance of the above excerpt from his landmark speech, “I Have A Dream.” Like the turbulent days of civil rights activism in America, Luther King’s nugget captures our prevailing emergencies which invariably now call for decisive, urgent action; or what may be defined broadly as the “fierce urgency of now”.
The current situation in our country has reached the stage where the divisive forces ranged against it constitute a clear and present danger to its corporate existence. The forces in question-corruption, which is the toughest enemy; terrorism, crime and Islamic fundamentalism, are well known to most Nigerians. What we don’t know is how the federal government intends to deal with these problems expeditiously before they get out of hand.
The government’s latest response to terrorism as exemplified by the Boko Haram insurgents is to grant them amnesty in line with the request of the Northern Elders Forum. How that would work remains to be seen. The fact remains that we are encircled by a whirlwind of violence that is threatening to blow the nation apart. Therefore, this is not the time for a gradualist approach to conflict resolution.
The massacre of scores of policemen in Bayelsa and Nasarawa states while on tour of duty has reinforced the argument that our law enforcement agencies are not on top of the situation. Equally of grave concern is the high handedness of some of our security personnel in dealing with people suspected to be terrorists or criminals. The Baga massacre is for instance a major dent on the integrity of our security forces in the ongoing war against terror. We must never justify extra-judicial killings for whatever reason.
Yet it must be said that corruption is the Frankenstein monster that birthed terrorism, crime and Islamic fundamentalism. So if corruption is checked, then other crimes like terrorism and related crimes would abate. Meanwhile, the nation is moving gradually to a stage where corruption has become so pervasive, so powerful in its impact on development that routine service delivery by agencies of government is being severely affected. The increasing violent crimes on our streets; and kidnapping for ransom are obviously telling that joblessness and economic alienation are at the heart of our current state of siege.
The anti-graft agencies and the existing legal framework within which they operate are not strong enough to engender speedy and effective prosecution of corrupt elements who are known to have very powerful government connections, and the capacity to mount stiff legal challenges in court because of their financial clout. The inadequacies of the law in dealing with corruption must be reviewed to give the required legal bite to the anti-corruption agencies.
A miasma of corruption now hangs over our once revered judiciary. One could only look back with nostalgia on those days when the men in wig and gown held out great hope for our society. Today, some of the verdicts emanating from our courts clearly undermine the integrity of the judiciary; that makes our situation really bad.
How can we kill the monster of corruption when the sacred altar of justice is also corrupt? That is the question. It underscores the fierce urgency of the present situation. But we have a precedent in dealing with rotten institutions of state. The late Gen. Murtala Muhammed carried out the great purge of the civil service in response to the decay of that institution. It was one of his memorable actions as military head of state, before he was assassinated in the aborted coup of February 13, 1976.
It may be argued that it was easy for a military head of state with sweeping emergency powers, to launch an anti-corruption war of that magnitude because he was not encumbered by the bureaucratic red tape that constrains an elected president who must act within the confines of the constitution. Yet, a president, regardless of his route to power, be it the ballot or the barrel of a gun, could launch an effective war against corruption if he is able and willing to muster enough political will. For example, ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo did battle with corruption in a way that its perpetrators couldn’t act with impunity as they are now doing under President Goodluck Jonathan’s watch.
The virus of corruption is now eating deeply and speedily into our economy as never before. Its effect on the nation is comprehensively devastating. It accounts for the slow pace of governance, no thanks to depleting resources as a result of the reckless pillaging of public coffers by government functionaries.
Given the foregoing, something drastic and urgent must be done to arrest it. Mr. Jonathan should act like a Murtala Muhammed to instill fears into the hearts of the heartless looters of our common patrimony. If corruption is fought frontally this way, resources meant for development would fulfill their purpose and expand the economy, which hitherto is experiencing paper growth without jobs to show for it.
Terrorist activities always flourish in environments where there is economic disequilibrium and mismanagement of national resources by a corrupt ruling elite. Opposition forces easily exploit religious sentiments, especially political Islam, to attempt to create instability and ultimately; Islamic rule where there’s a predominant Muslim population. That is the end game of Boko Haram.
This is also the pattern of instability and terror wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Islamic Maghreb, Somalia, the Arab nations affected by the Arab Spring and the North-east of Nigeria, home base of Boko Haram. The fierce urgency of our present situation can, therefore, not be overstated if we are not to become one of these fragmented, war lord countries.
•Okotie, a cleric and politician, former popular musician wrote from Lagos.