Category Archives: Opinions

Six Strategies For Ewu Development – Self Help Approach – Eromosele

SIX STRATEGIES FOR EWU DEVELOPMENT – SELF HELP APPROACH

(Being text of a Paper delivered by Saintmoses Eromosele Esq aka SME at the EPF ONLINE POLITICAL LECTURE SERIES organized by the Ewu Progress Foundation/Ewu Political Forum on Sunday, 16th September, 2018, in the EPF Platform)

In this presentation, I decided to use Ewu as a case study for community development because I am addressing the Ewu Progress Foundation, and the Ewu people.

While we must continue to call on the government to come and develop Ewu, but we must realise that our destiny as a people lies in our own hands. There is a saying that “Heaven helps those who help themselves”. I share this view.

Most people, especially the politicians, think of “doing a project” when they hear the words “community development”. But my research (and experience) has been that the process of development, or following a development program is more important than mere projects – majority of which are mere stunts, not sustainable.

Ewu Political Forum incorporated in Nigeria by the CAC in Abuja as Ewu Progress Foundation, founded on December 27, 2017

We all want Ewu to have good roads, clean water, thriving economy, better access to health care, food and income, etc. But how do we achieve this? That is the ‘Selavi’ of the matter.

Successful community development approaches focus more on the “how” of projects than just receiving them.

Here are six common strategies we could utilize for the development of Ewu, before the government comes to our aid.

1. Ewu Needs Food Security.

I recall my childhood in Ewu. My uncle, Francis Airahuobhor (aka Jomo Kenyatta), and father of the BOT Secretary of EPF, Osi Jomo, he farmed in many places in Ewu. My annual visits to Ewu, especially during the Ihuenlan feast, I witnessed food, surplus food, in Ewu. My uncle had large rice farms, oil palm and yams.

I still recall my childhood with nostalgia. My grandmother, Nene Aihe, from Ehanlen-Ewu (God Bless Her Beautiful Soul) would process cassava into Akpu and corn into Emumu, Ori, Ekor and Amadidi and trade them at Ehanlen Market, Ekpoma and Irrua markets. From the proceeds she was able to buy us few presents and ‘Elamen Esi’ (Pork) which we loved then and relished. Life was simple and blessed.

Idunwele-Ewu didn’t have these tarred roads and culverts at that time (only one tarred road stretching through the whole of Ewu) yet hunger was virtually absent in the community. Why? Because the people mastered this first strategy – Food Security. Development does not consist of skyscrapers or railways only.

Ewu needs agriculture related projects that help people produce food, store food, use food more economically, or grow/produce marketable products. The EPF could obtain land in each of the seven communities of Ewu and set up EPF Farms and a Cooperative Society to produce food, generate employment and stimulate local economy by way of trade and transportation for the farm produce.

The process of Food security could also invariably bring job skills training or encourage small business startups to help increase overall individual and family income.

2. Ewu Needs a Healthcare Programme

Our ancestors were wise. They had provisions for protecting the community against sicknesses and diseases, even epidemic. But we must not continue to blame ourselves over our apparent deficiency in this area. We can evolve one today.

Let’s take active interest in all the healthcare centers in Ewu. We have a General Hospital at Idunwele, a Primary Health Care center at Eguare-Ewu and PAX Herbal pharmaceuticals at Ehanlen-Ewu, among other private hospitals and clinics (orthodox and traditional). Notable is the Omosun Trado-Psychiatry Hospital at Ehanlen-Ewu.

We must work out strategies to support these institutions to work well. We must supervise especially the government owned Hospitals and healthcare centers to ensure that they provide optimal service.

3. Ewu Needs Clean Pipe Borne Water and Sanitation

A common development oriented project is needed in Ewu to help the community with clean portable water. EPF could inspire, or execute, one. In the founding document of the EPF, we stated that we want to see this done. This is possible.

We could try to sink one or two community owned industrial boreholes sunk at the uphill part of Ewu and have safe pipes laid downtown to streets in Ewu, from which landlords could tap and get community water supply into their homes or gardens, and get water. Of course the water may not be free of charge, as those who get the service may pay a community levy or fee to maintain the Ewu Water Board that would be established to maintain the boreholes and treat the water where needed. If the government is absent in your community, organise to govern yourself!

This suggestion may sound crazy at first, but on a second deeper thought it would be seen to be a good approach in self-help to give clean water to more homes in Ewu, before the government comes – if they ever will.

4. Ewu Needs To Promote Education, Skills Acquisition and Adult literacy for Ewu People

Ewu can evolve a strategy for children and youth education, as well as adults literacy and skill acquisition for all. This strategy could include child sponsorship projects, accrual of necessary materials for attending school (books, supplies, uniforms, etc.), or even simple things such as healthy school lunches, encouragement of wealthy indigenes to provide grants or scholarship to gifted but indigent students. The EPF Community Library & ICT Centre that was commissioned by you in Ewu recently is a huge effort in this direction. We can do even more. And especially education for our women and girls too.

5. EPF Can Set Up or Encourage the Setting up of Co-operative Societies, microenterprises or microfinance ventures.

I am proud that EPF President, Mr Fidelis Edokpa, who is already doing the Faithful Investment Ventures, a micro finance investment in Ewu. He should as well lead the EPF to also set up cooperatives for agriculture, trade and other economic ventures.

President of EPF, Engr Fidelis Edokpa

6. Ewu Needs to Evolve Novel Political Engagement Strategy for Politicians, Parties and Government

This might sound odd but it’s necessary. Ewu must deemphasize partisan politics when it comes to development. Anyone who elevates political parties’ interest over community interest, in matters of development, should be ostracized.

Without political engagement, self-help may just not be enough. EPF is already doing well in this direction by mobilising for voters in the recently concluded Continuous Voter Registration ahead of 2019 general election. But it could do more.

During the campaigns, EPF could, and should, invite all the candidates and political parties (not merely to hear their delicious empty promises, but) to demand that they swear on Oath at any of the community shrines in Ewu or depose to an affidavit at the High Court (whichever they subscribed to is ok) what they pledge to do for the community if elected.

Anyone that avoids this demonstration of commitment should not be trusted and your organization, in concert with others in Ewu, should mobilise the Ewu people to vote against such a person or the party. Vote for anyone who takes the Oath (Every politician takes an oath in filling the INEC Forms, so taking an Oath in making promises to the people shouldn’t be strange unless they aren’t sincere). And other communities in Nigeria would take a cue from the Ewu model once this is adopted and you would see a better nation quicker that expected and inspired by our innovation in Ewu.

This Oath taking suggestion might sound crazy, especially to those pretending to be asleep that are hard to wake up, but – trust me – it is the way to go in Nigeria of today. The Oath might not end bad leadership overnight but it would significantly reduce promise and failing and also make parties and politicians make realistic promises and take people more seriously.

HRH Zaiki Rasaki Ojiefoh III, Onojie of Ewu

The Oath taking, if successful, would help to get the future government to come to our aid and not to frustrate our self-help because, even a straw carried over a long distance becomes heavy so also, self-help if we failed to get the government to come in at some point would eventually degenerate to Selfstress.

May God Bless Ewu.

Thank you and good evening.

Saintmoses Eromosele Esq.
Executive Director
ONEGHE SELE FOUNDATION
Irrua, Esan Central.
Tel: 0 702 040 7106
E-MAIL: info@oneghesele.com

Ewu Declaration: Our Resolve Against Continued Inequity And Marginalization

Press Release:

14 January 2018

Ewu Declaration: Our Resolve Against Continued Inequity And Marginalization

The Ewu Political Forum (EPF) is a voluntary socio-cultural/political movement made up of Ewu sons and daughters.

Ewu Political Forum is one of the brand names for the incorporated name of Ewu Progress Foundation (EPF).

The membership of EPF is drawn from Ewu people living within and outside Ewu kingdom and Ewu people in the Diaspora. The body is exclusively for charitable, humanitarian, educational and developmental purposes of Ewu Kingdom.

As to be expected, this body could be partisan, if the need arises. But before doing that, it shall be very critical and dispassionate in all assessments, before taking sides. The EPF shall only support anybody or party that will help minister to the perennial and contemporary problems and aspirations of the Ewu people and kingdom.

In a statement signed by Mr. Isiwele Osezuwa, the Protem President, and Mr. Chris Egbele, the Protem Secretary General of Ewu Political Forum (EPF), the body is constrained to make public pronouncements after painfully observing the decades of deliberate neglect of Ewu kingdom in the areas of development, economics and politics.

This statement, therefore, is categorical that the good people of Ewu kingdom who are naturally peaceful, law-abiding and loving to their neighbors will no longer allow the decades of neglect and marginalization to continue. The EPF has resolved and is determined to alter this position through all lawful and available means no matter the consequences.

The Crux Of The Matter.

1. The present Esan Central Local Government Area Council made up of Irrua, Ewu, Opoji and Ugbegun was carved out of the old Okpebholo Local Government Area Council by the regime of the former Military President General Ibrahim Babangida in 1991. 27 years after, no other person from the three ethnic Esan groups that make up the Esan Central LGA  has been deemed fit enough to lead the council in any elective or executive capacity.

As if this is not enough insult on the collective sensibility, Ewu the next major kingdom after Irrua in this group, has been deliberately marginalized in all areas, be it political, economic and also in the areas of appointments, infrastructure and human development.

2. To make matters worse, in these  27 years under review, there is nothing tangible on ground to show that Ewu, that we call City of Commerce, Industry and Hospitality, belongs to an area council.  No single road has been built or tarred in any part of Ewu Kingdom. The same is the case in other areas of the economy or infrastructure. But within this same period in question, just to mention one area, almost all the major roads and adjoining roads in Irrua town have either been reconstructed or built afresh. This act of injustice can no longer be allowed to continue, and the EPF has therefore vowed not to allow this to continue, if we must continue to live in peace as Esan people from the same area council. If this state of affairs continued, we are left with no option but to demand for our excision from Esan Central LGA and rejoining with our equally oppressed brothers; Ukhun and Idoa in Esan West LGA, and Jagbe in Etsako West LGA, we will demand for our new local government area or local council development authority, as the case maybe – which name may be Esan North LGA or Kugbe LGA.

3. Another very disturbing trend is the deliberate abandonment of the Ewu market. For centuries now, the Ewu market sited in Ehanlen-Ewu, has been the center of trade and commerce in the whole of Esan land and Etsako areas of Edo State. For unexplainable reason(s), the Esan Central Local Government Council officials who diligently and dutifully collect tax and other levies from the town and market have continued to watch while the market deteriorates to a state where it is now a great source of a possible epidemic outbreak. As at this present time, no effort has been made or contemplated to clean up the market. We demand an urgent action from the Esan Central LGA council government so that we could continue to be law abiding.

4. For emphasis sake, it must be stated very clearly that Ewu people are not asking to be given undue advantage over other people or towns that make up Esan Central Local Government Area Council. All that the EPF is saying is that local government councils as the third tier of government is meant to draw development closer to the people that make up the council area; in this case, development has only been centered and concentrated in Irrua town. This is certainly not good enough for good neighborliness, peace and harmony; hence the EPF is now demanding an immediate change of tactics in the handling of the council’s affairs.

As law-abiding citizens and loyal Esan people, the EPF is not ready to play any second fiddle in the affairs of the Esan Central Local Government Area Council anymore, and is therefore appealing to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the National Assembly, the Edo State Government, the Edo State House of Assembly, and the Esan Central LGA to immediately look into the unjust and inhuman treatments of the Ewu people, so that the people continue to live in peace in this area council.

5. For the avoidance of any doubts, as from now onwards, and as 2019 approaches, any politician seeking to represent Ewu people in the Local Government Area Council, State House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate, must have the Executive and vibrant Members of the Ewu Political Forum (EPF) to contend with as this is the only way we can guarantee quality representation for the people.

The EPF meanwhile awaits the immediate and prompt response of all those concerned, especially the members of the National and Edo State Assemblies representing Ewu in any capacity, Edo State Government and the Esan Central Local Government Area Council to the demands.

We make these non negotiable demands because, as we say in Esan language, Oneghe, Osele!

The time to agitate for action through justice and fairness has come.

I am convinced that there is an evil spell enveloping this country – Reuben Abati

The spiritual side of Aso Villa

Reuben-Abati

People tend to be alarmed when the Nigerian Presidency takes certain decisions. They don’t think the decision makes sense. Sometimes, they wonder if something has not gone wrong with the thinking process at that highest level of the country. I have heard people insist that there is some form of witchcraft at work in the country’s seat of government. I am ordinarily not a superstitious person, but working in the Villa, I eventually became convinced that there must be something supernatural about power and closeness to it. I’ll start with a personal testimony. I was given an apartment to live in inside the Villa. It was furnished and equipped. But when my son, Michael arrived, one of my brothers came with a pastor who was supposed to stay in the apartment. But the man refused claiming that the Villa was full of evil spirits and that there would soon be a fire accident in the apartment. He complained about too much human sacrifice around the Villa and advised that my family must never sleep overnight inside the Villa.

I thought the man was talking nonsense and he wanted the luxury of a hotel accommodation. But he turned out to be right. The day I hosted family friends in that apartment and they slept overnight, there was indeed a fire accident. The guests escaped and they were so thankful. Not long after, the President’s physician living two compounds away had a fire accident in his home. He and his children could have died. He escaped with bruises. Around the Villa while I was there, someone always died or their relations died. I can confirm that every principal officer suffered one tragedy or the other; it was as if you needed to sacrifice something to remain on duty inside that environment. Even some of the women became merchants of dildo because they had suffered a special kind of death in their homes (I am sorry to reveal this) and many of the men complained about something that had died below their waists too. The ones who did not have such misfortune had one ailment or the other that they had to nurse. From cancer to brain and prostate surgery and whatever, the Villa was a hospital full of agonizing patients.

I recall the example of one particular man, an asset to the Jonathan Presidency who practically ran away from the Villa. He said he needed to save his life. He was quite certain that if he continued to hang around, he would die. I can’t talk about colleagues who lost daughters and sons, brothers and uncles, mothers and fathers, and the many obituaries that we issued. Even the President was multiply bereaved. His wife, Mama Peace was in and out of hospital at a point, undergoing many surgeries. You may have forgotten but after her husband lost the election and he conceded victory, all her ailments vanished, all scheduled surgeries were found to be no longer necessary and since then she has been hale and hearty. By the same token, all those our colleagues who used to come to work to complain about a certain death beneath their waists and who relied on videos and other instruments to entertain wives (take it easy boys, I don’t mean nay harm, I am writing!), have all experienced a re-awakening.

Everyone who went under the blade has received miraculous healing, and we are happy to be out of that place. But others were not so lucky. They died. There were days when convoys ran into ditches and lives were lost. In Norway, our helicopter almost crashed into a mountain. That was the first time I saw the President panicking. The weather was all so hazy and he just kept saying it would not be nice for the President of a country to die in a helicopter crash due to pilot miscalculations. The President went into a prayer mode. We survived. In Kenya once, we had a bird strike. The plane had to be recalled and we were already airborne with the plane acting like it would crash. During the 2015 election campaigns, our aircraft refused to start on more than one occasion. The aircraft just went dead. On some other occasions, we were stoned and directly targeted for evil. I really don’t envy the people who work in Aso Villa, the seat of Nigeria’s Presidency. For about six months, I couldn’t even breathe properly. For another two months, I was on crutches. But I considered myself far luckier than the others who were either nursing a terminal disease or who could not get it up.

When Presidents make mistakes, they are probably victims of a force higher than what we can imagine. Every student of Aso Villa politics would readily admit that when people get in there, they actually become something else. They act like they are under a spell. When you issue a well- crafted statement, the public accepts it wrongly. When the President makes a speech and he truly means well, the speech is interpreted wrongly by the public. When a policy is introduced, somehow, something just goes wrong. In our days, a lot of people used to complain that the APC people were fighting us spiritually and that there was a witchcraft dimension to the governance process in Nigeria. But the APC folks now in power are dealing with the same demons. Since Buhari government assumed office, it has been one mistake after another. Those mistakes don’t look normal, the same way they didn’t look normal under President Jonathan. I am therefore convinced that there is an evil spell enveloping this country. We need to rescue Nigeria from the forces of darkness. Aso Villa should be converted into a spiritual museum, and abandoned.

Should I become President of Nigeria tomorrow, I will build a new Presidential Villa: a Villa that will be dedicated to the all-conquering Almighty, and where powers and principalities cannot hold sway. But it is not about buildings and space, not so? It is about the people who go to the highest levels in Nigeria. I really don’t quite believe in superstitions, but I am tempted to suggest that this is indeed a country in need of prayers. We should pray before people pack their things into Aso Villa. We should ask God to guide us before we appoint ministers. We should, to put it in technocratic language, advise that the people should be very vigilant. We have all failed so far, that crucial test of vigilance. We should have a Presidential Villa where a President can afford to be human and free. In the White House, in the United States, Presidents live like normal human beings. In Aso Villa, that is impossible. They’d have to surround themselves with cooks from their villages, bodyguards from their mother’s clans and friends they can trust. It should be possible to be President of Nigeria without having to look behind one’s shoulders. But we are not yet there. So, how do we run a Presidency where the man in the saddle can only drink water served by his kinsman? No. How can we possibly run a Presidency where every President proclaims faith in Nigeria but they are better off in the company of relatives and kinsmen. No. We need as Presidents men and women who are willing to be Nigerians. No Nigerian President should be in spiritual bondage because he belongs to all of us and to nobody.

Now let me go back to the spiritual dimension. A colleague once told me that I was the most naïve person around the place. I thought I was a bright, smart, professional doing my bit and enjoying the President’s confidence. I spelled it out. But what I got in response was that I was coming to the villa using Lux soap, but that most people around the place always bathed in the morning with blood. Goat blood. Ram blood. Whatever animal blood. I argued. He said there were persons in the Villa walking upside down, head to the ground. I screamed. Everybody looked normal to me. But I soon began to suspect that I was in a strange environment indeed. Every position change was an opportunity for warfare. Civil servants are very nice people; they obey orders, but they are not very nice when they fight over personal interests.

The President is most affected by the atmosphere around him. He can make wrong decisions based on the cloud of evil around him. Even when he means well and he has taken time to address all possible outcomes, he could get on the wrong side of the public. A colleague called me one day and told me a story about how a decision had been taken in the spiritual realm about the Nigerian government. He talked about the spirit of error, and how every step taken by the administration would appear to the public like an error. He didn’t resign on that basis but his words proved prophetic. I see the same story being re-enacted. Aso Villa is in urgent need of redemption. I never slept in the apartment they gave me in that Villa for an hour.

Oh God! Lead Us Not Into The Hands Of APC-Led Government In Edo State.

By – Iredia Osakue, JP.

The present state of affairs in the country is appalling and as well pathetic. The citizens cannot categorically say what are the plans of the government. They come up with issues haphazardly and without clear-cut implementation, therefore, leaving the country to flounder hopelessly.

When the idea of anti-corruption came up, the citizens embraced it with the hope that the long awaited sanity in the perceived polluted system will be treated without fear or favour. But, sadly, those that have been following the trend of events are dissatisfied with the entire anti-graft fight – they see it as lopsided, politically motivated witch-hunting and without seeing the end of justice.

Many of the legal minds in the state describe the war on corruption like a written script and actors brought in to put their expertise into making it look real. This is the unfortunate situation that the country is confronted with. In the same vein, some are worried that not all those brought before the court or interrogated are actually involved directly or indirectly in any graft, rather, it is a sort of “cleaning exercise” by removing prominent political rivals whose political future they are determined to damage at all cost. With this in mind, many fear that the country is tipping towards one party state.

Many sectors are left to wallow in despair and it appears that the people up there that charged to speak on behalf of the citizens have been lobotomized – they are calm, serene and ready to carry on. They believe that when they wake up from sleep, things will return to normalcy without working towards it.

The people’s dashed hope and aspirations can be seen virtually in the faces of the people. They are desperate so much that they are ready to hold on to a poisonous snake for survival notwithstanding the inherent danger. This is the pitiable condition the citizens are left to contend with!

When the president came on board, he was described as “baba go-slow” and true to type the state of affairs has been infected and things are really slow. It took the government a considerable time before the ministers were appointed and the excuse was the usual “integrity syndrome.” But, amongst the “well selected” ministers, rumour have it that at least some suffer from the disease of corruption which the government profess fighting. The comatose state of affairs in the country is attributable to the handiwork of a leader with crass knowledge of governance in a democratic settings.

The state governors that are sympathizers or politically inclined to the federal have queued behind and willing to tow the same path undermining the circumstance. They are narcissistic some much that they claim glory in failure.

According to many, the APC government has failed the country. The states that have the opportunity for a change, like Edo state must be insistent in their resistance against having an APC-led government. The citizens have seen the bully at play and any mistake of caving in for ” continuity” will snowball into an unbearable political turmoil that will take another considerable time to fix.

The discerning minds can easily distinguish between the two popular candidates who is ripe enough to satisfy the needs of the people. Opinion pool has shown that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has long been awake and working assiduously ahead of time. This best explains his preparedness to deliver the state from further damage, on this note, it remains the duty of all Edo state citizens to support and vote for him come September, 2016.

A true leader is known by his words and deeds, on this score, let me introduce you to one of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s quote that x-rays his personality; “I am not desperate but confident that I can lead the people of Edo State working side by side with you to make Edo State the envy of others, we are almost there and we shall arrive by Gods grace.”

The state needs a thorough overhauling for it to bounce back and becoming the envy of other states. The deaf can hear the noise and the blind can see the extent of damage in the state. The hands of the clock of the state since the inception of the present administration has been working anti-clock wise and the governor who has the tool to correct it is unwilling.

The government’s interest is no more in governance but in the drive to regain power and further plunge the state into abyss. The citizens have been hook, line and sinker for more than seven years and the APC-led government is out again with their game plan to bring about another tortuous four years and even more.

A prosperous Edo state which the citizens long clamour for is sure with Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu at the helm of affairs.

The Dynamics of Youth Enterprise in Contemporary Nigeria – Saintmoses Eromosele

I would have loved to begin this speech by thanking Thomas Edison, the man who invented the electric bulb, but due to the frequent infrequency and consistent inconsistency in power supply to many parts of Edo State, despite the reportedly huge investments in power by successive administrations in Nigeria, all my thanks go to the unknown one who invented the candle.

By thanking the unknown ‘talakawa’ who invented the candle, I am challenging those concerned with managing our commonwealth to step up and hurry up to meet up with the Millennium Development Goals and bequeath to Nigerians, especially the youths, the most basic of citizens’ demand – Uninterrupted Power Supply – which has the potential to stimulate enterprise and bring Nigeria to her true stature – The Giant of Africa. Without energy, work is impossible, and without work, wealth is only a tall dream.

Without a doubt, the youths are the life-force of any nation, thus this brings me to the topic that have been assigned to me to speak on, “The Dynamics of Youth Enterprise in Contemporary Nigeria”.

When I received this topic, two things immediately crossed my mind; the words of Albert Einstein and a true life story of my childhood acquaintance, Jimoh – a son of the soil.

According to Albert Einstein, one of the world’s greatest scientist and philosopher, he said and I quote;

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”.

Jimoh was a naturally gifted but poor orphan who was an illiterate technician, workman and inventor. He manufactured a chopper (Helicopter) with locally sourced materials. He knew neither school arithmetic nor mathematics and he sure had no idea what they teach in school physics or chemistry. All that Jimoh knew was how to put material together and get results – practical results.

Jimoh could fix virtually any technical problem. As a teenager, I recall my admiration for Jimoh. It was rumoured then that his chopper could take off from the ground to the air. But I actually only entered the chopper, which could seat about five adults comfortably. He moved the aircraft with me and another inside within the compound, close to my alma mata, Edokpolo Grammar School, in Benin city.

Jimoh’s feat caught the attention of the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa who promptly offered him full scholarship to study at Word of Faith Schools. Everyone had hoped that Jimoh had arrived by that scholarship grant and that he would end up creating the first locally made automobile engine in Nigeria.

That scholarship looked like a promise of fame and fortune and a banishment of poverty for Jimoh but it was not to be. I will explain, shortly.

Today, Jimoh is popularly known as “Goskolo”, a derogatory term to describe an alcoholic. Jimoh is a shadow of his self and a parable of a sort for “How Not to Waste a Talent”. Why did Jimoh lose it despite the scholarship? Would Jimoh become Goskolo were he to be born in Germany, America or anywhere in the developed world?

The answer is simple and direct. Jimoh lost it because that otherwise good-intentioned scholarship was misplaced, more like sponsoring a Tilapia fish for tree-climbing lessons or sending white monkeys for swimming courses.

It is apparent from this narrative that Jimoh was not cut out for academics but practical sciences. A purely technical college or technical apprenticeship programme at a production centre or factory, say Ajaokuta or Aladja Steel, would have prevented a Jimoh from turning into Goskolo.

Our educational system is seriously faulty. Our education system seeks to train fish to climb and monkeys to swim. That is where we have the tragedy. There is urgent need to reorder our educational objectives and overhaul the whole curriculum at our schools. I would strongly recommend a thorough understudy and eventual application of the German “Ausbildung” system of education.

The German ausbildung is very similar to what we in Nigeria derogatorily term “Learn Work” or, properly called, “Apprenticeship”, which lays emphasis on practical on-the-job training with recognized & prideful certification and with high chance of employment or empowerment at the end of the training which normally is three years.

The difference between German Ausbildung & Nigeria’s Apprenticeships is only that in Germany, the government recognizes, supports, & promotes the practice whereas in Nigeria today, as with many other sectors, the government abdicates its principal duty – to empower her people – and fails to stimulate youth enterprise.

Had Jimoh been in Germany, with his deficiency in academics, he would find a place in Volkswagen and be trained under the Ausbildung system on specific aspects of the automobile production process. Within three years, Jimoh would be issued with a certificate after he has been qualified and, if he has white skin and is sent to Nigeria to work for Siemens, he would be the Supervisor where Nigerian engineers who studied for Masters Degrees in Engineering would be his juniors.

This is the irony of the purposeful purposelessness and functional malfunction of our education system which mainly focuses on encouraging the acquisition of certificates and ignores the acquisition of practical life skills.

My decision to talk about Jimoh who became Goskolo was not hinged on intent to tell old wives fable or the engage in entertaining narration, rather it is intended to bring to fore the challenges that the ordinary man faces in Nigeria which in every way impedes his entrepreneurial engagements and ultimately impedes the growth and development of our national and state economy.

It is imperative on governments at all levels, especially state and local governments to wake up from their self-imposed slumber and begin to articulate policies to engage the youths in gainful employment, empowerment and proper education so as to spend less on Security Votes.

Rather than ‘create employments’, governments at all levels should start to create jobs and promote the creation of jobs for our people, especially the youths. It is no longer tenable to say that ‘it is not the duty of government to create jobs’. It is the duty of government to create jobs or pay social welfare support to the citizens who have no jobs until the government finds jobs for them. This is the practice in Germany, Canada, America, United Kingdom, Australia and all those so-called developed countries. If the practice is possible in those countries, it is very possible in Nigeria. It is only a matter of a courageous leadership with vision and passion to perform.

Governments should also promote the possibility for the citizens, especially the “talakawas”, to get access to credit for their businesses. Banks and financial institutions should be encouraged or pressurized to provide functional loans and credit facilities to the small and media scale entrepreneurs, not the bourgeoisies who eventually stress the bank by never repaying. This would not happen by wishful thinking. It requires concerted effort and courageous leadership.

Governments should stop employing youths for mere services like ‘traffic wardens’ or ‘neighborhood watch’. We have the properly and adequately trained Police and the Civil Defence Corps. What governments should rather focus on is creating jobs in agriculture, manufacturing or ICT and get the youths creatively engaged. This way, government would be committing to the next generation, rather than what we observe today which is more or less committing for the next election.

The time has come for us to look each other in the eye and tell each other the truth. Youths need jobs, not employment. We need life skills & credit facilities for our ideas and businesses, not political appointments. If you want to stop the brain drain, start the brain train and secure the happiness and security of the people.

Having said much, I would like to conclude by analyzing the words of Albert Einstein and identifying the inherent lessons to be learnt from them.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” – Albert Einstein.

This is very true. Jimoh is a genius. Even Goskolo is a genius. It is only a matter of where the genius is placed and who supervises the genius.

In physics, it is believed that “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed…but could be converted”. This is true beyond physics. Our youths are full of energies. These energies can neither be created nor destroyed. The energies are their talents, their skills, their intellect, their strength, their zeal, etc.

When government and society identify their positive energies and utilize their energies in the form of employment or empowerment, then the society would be having less need of buying more ammunition or armory for the police to kill the youths. Rather governments would convert the funds to buy more tractors, tools or machinery for our industries which the youth would drive.

Let us not forget that should the government or society not utilize the positive energies of the youths, the youths are left with no option but to convert their energies to the negative. That is when anomalies like kidnapping, armed robbery, terrorism, rape, corruption and all such vices and crimes would become vogue.

We have a chance to make amends. The task is before all of us. Government is to take the lead. Let us save the youth by encouraging work and reward culture as well as creating jobs at all costs and by all means. A government which fails to create jobs (not mere political appointments) for the youths should be regarded as a total failure.

My hope and wish for Edo State is that affliction should never return a second time and that Edo youths should never again be seen as stupid but they should be seen as the genius that they are and their energies be positively tapped to the glory and peace of Edo State.

Thank you!

– Saintmoses Eromosele

(Being text of a Speech delivered by Saintmoses Eromosele, Guest Speaker at the EPF Leadership Conference & Achievement Award held in Benin City at Best Western Homeville Hotel, 2013)

Oshiomhole’s 2 Billion Naira Bonanza: Matters Arising.

By – Thompson Omorodion, Ph.D.

Yesterday this writer read in the papers that Edo State government has “injected N2 billion into the economy through the presentation of cheques to 10,000 beneficiaries” in what was described as “State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund”. Instinctively, based also on objective evaluation of the available facts and judging by the antecedents of this government – a government that has a very poor reputation in transparency, accountability and objectivity, this writer had the impression that Edo state has made a huge loss, nay, wastage of hard earned tax payers’ money to the reckless abandon of an outgoing administration. But why should this writer form such an opinion?

Ordinarily anyone should be happy to hear of such major booster to the economy particularly at this time of grave national austerity occasioned by purposeful mismanagement of the economy in the last fifteen months – first by an outgoing government that bled the country to prosecute an election and a new government that completely strangled the country and has brought untold crunching hardship on the people the end of which is not in sight. Thus, an injection of 2 billion naira into the economy ought to elicit joy and satisfaction to any well meaning Edo citizen. But this reported injection could not achieve that effect because it is a highly suspicious injection – if it was ever an injection – into the economy. And why is this writer worried over the reported injection of 2 billion into the economy? Four broad reasons why this 2 billion naira injection in the economy is either a fraud or a monumental waste of tax payers’ money, or both, will be examined in the following paragraphs.

Firstly, the people of Edo state and this writer would like to know who are the beneficiaries of, what this writer prefers to call, the Oshiomhole 2 Billion Naira Bonanza – what are their names, where do they stay and what proof of their identities are available for veracity. This writer, on behalf of the common people of Edo state, demands that the government should publish the names of the beneficiaries in at least the Nigeria Observer or any notable newspaper circulating in Edo state. Anything less, would be viewed as an attempt to pull the wool over our face. This is politically suicidal, especially in this politically volatile season.

Secondly, how were the beneficiaries selected? This writer, most of his friends who run micro finance companies in Edo state and most of Edo state’s small and medium scale business people are not aware of any publication or announcement inviting them to send in application for this micro credit scheme. The question now is how did the Edo State government get the reported 10,000 people who applied for and got this opportunity? Were they informed in their dreams or through a private communication channel not available to the general public? These are germane questions that invariably lead rational thinkers to believe – reliably – that the 2 billion naira was removed from the treasury to service the pecuniary interest of the governor in order to hoodwink the public into voting for the APC in the forthcoming election.

Thirdly, Edo people would like to know whether this disbursement, if done by the government as the governor claimed, was a valid budgetary expenditure. Was the disbursement captured in the extant 2016 budget? If not, how come government could be spending that amount of money, nearly the monthly allocation from the federation account, without budgetary appropriation? For any expenditure to be validly categorized as an expenditure of government, it must be captured in the budget and approved by the people through the legislature, whether or not the legislators of Edo state are actually paper tigers, greedy squirrels or pussycats as Edo legislators described themselves in recent times. To the best of the knowledge of this writer, there is no evidence that this Oshiomhole Bonanza was appropriated for in the 2016 budget. Edo state government is hereby put on notice, as a matter of duty, to, within seven days, answer the question of where this 2 billion naira is coming from, failure of which may provoke litigation as the courts are truly the last hope of the common man.

Fourthly, when and how will the money be returned back to the treasury? Who are the beneficiaries? How were they selected? How are they going to pay back? Government should not be dashing tax payers’ monies out without due regard to the objectives and fundamental principles of state policy which must be based on objectivity, inclusiveness and justice. Government should have devised a modality for making the 2 billion naira into a sort of revolving loan, to be administered by reputable micro credit institutions, probably relaxing the interest rates, but ensuring that the money must be repaid to the treasury for others to benefit also. It is the realization that the beneficiaries have to repay the debt that would put them on their toes and enable them to make judicious use of the money. When the money is a dash, as it appears to be in this Oshiomhole Bonanza, the monies will end up going in the wrong direction – wastage.

In conclusion, it is safe to assume (unless the Edo State government, within reasonable time, comes forward with valid defence) that the current administration has illegally and fraudulently tempered with their commonwealth and is attempting to waste the commonwealth and hard earned tax revenues of the impoverished people to fund an election. Edo people should rise up and stand up to their government because the power lies, not in the hands of the government but the people. And the people should participate more in democracy through coming out at elections to select only leaders who are not only popular but also competent and prepared to assume leadership role. People should begin to ask questions capable of deepening our democracy and making their voices more heard and respected. A people who ask their governments questions would never be taken for granted by their governments.

Enough is Enough.


Dr. Thompson Omorodion is a scholar and development researcher writing from Benin City.

 

The Honourable Assault and the Rest of Us

– By Emmanuel G. Onofua

“It is unacceptable and very embarrassing for an aide of the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Prison Service to slap a female Honourable Member of the House. He has completely offended the House” thundered the Minority Leader, of the House of Representatives, Mr. Leo Ogor while citing Section 16 of the Powers and Privileges Act which protects legislators from assault. In support, the Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila added “I’m not interested in the issue of fair hearing. The man is guilty of assault, battery offence and violence against women”.

Those were vitriols that followed the alleged assault on a female member of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Onyemaechi Mrakpor. While totally condemning the alleged act, I am moved to question, why the anger, interest, total condemnation and summon of the Minister of Interior and Nigerian Prison boss? Are these Lawmakers even in Nigeria? Are they aware of the treatment the rest of us are subjected to on daily basis?

I momentarily took myself on a mental excursion to previous events I have either witnessed, experienced and or read/heard about; the encounter of the Lawmaker does not even sufficiently define the magnitude of terrible treatments other Nigerians face every time from security officers. Be it Army or Air force officers, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Police Force, Civil Defence, Immigration Officers, Prison Service, Federal Road Safety, Nigerian Custom officers, Vigilante groups or even Man O War, the story is same and in Fela’s words – they leave sorrow, tears and blood as their regular trademark.

There seems to be a spirit that comes upon security officers the moment they put on their uniforms. That same spirit instantly makes them serial oppressors; they suddenly become super-humans and from then on their relationship with civilians is a prey/predator situation.
Take our highways as a case, if you are pulled over by the Police, military officers or any security agent, you have to in your best interest act as a mannequin; one cannot as much as argue his own date of birth, complexion or even what you had for breakfast if you are avoiding battery.

In Benin City, it is almost an abomination to drive a flashy car when you are or look below age 35. The police will pull you over and charge you for DWY (driving while young). This I have not only witnessed but experienced. In their wisdom and in my view, their lack of it, young people driving flashy cars must have engaged in dishonest ventures to afford such cars.

Sometime in September 2013, just in front of the Eagles Square, I and other Nigerians watched helplessly as a young man who was a first-timer in Abuja was severely beaten to pulp. His crime was attempting to walk past the military zone, a pedestrian walkway with no notice opposite the Eagles Square. He got a raw deal, beaten by three energetic soldiers with wooden planks and made to stand with his head resting on the grass while his body rested on a tree. They didn’t mind the blood gushing out of his nose. This I was not told but witnessed and I wrote a letter to the National Assembly on this incident. It was never read or deliberated upon; why, because it happened to one of the rest of us.
There are two kinds of evil people: those who do evil things; and those who are aware of evil things being done, have the power to stop it, but don’t even try to. The brutality of security officers in Nigeria has been on for decades unchecked and aided by the silence of our lawmakers until now that it has gotten to one of their own.

She was slapped once, maybe twice or even more; multiply that by ten, the result is what she would have gotten if the assault was not “honourable”. In my opinion, she was given preferential assault; she was assaulted with respect because of her status. Several times I have wished for the “honourable assault” each time I see someone getting the “rest of us” treatment.

Doing nothing has consequences too. It is the seemingly harmless traces we leave behind that can later be used to destroy us. Our national leaders should know that what goes around may take a long time. In the end, it would come around.

Emmanuel G. Onofua
Writes from Abuja, Nigeria
e_onofua@yahoo.com
Twitter: @e_onofua

Gov. Oshiomhole at war with peace.

– By Iredia Osakue JP

The road to the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Edo state is rocky and fraught with danger, turbulence, violence and uncertainty owing to abuse of power and outright disregard for the rule of law. APC in Edo state is polarized to an unimaginable height and as a result, party members are cautious with whom they converse with for fear of not touching the cobra’s tail. As it is today? there are different factions that bear allegiances to their choice of candidates – and considering the number of aspirants in APC, there is fear of the unknown. As a result, the free flow of information that characterizes the good interest of political like minds has been rubbished and swept under the carpet – at least for now. – perhaps till after the primaries.

The in-fighting and imbroglio have been repeatedly felt within the APC-led government of the state. The party is at war with itself and the center can no more hold – as the supposed custodian is sword in hand and ready to fight any perceived enemy – not of the state but any person that stands in his way of actualizing his ambition. The law has become his instrument of reprisal and antagonism with impunity. The people are astonished as they watch events inimical to true democracy at play. Worse still, his deputy has eventually become an archenemy – and both estranged because of Mr. Odubu’s intention to vie in the coming gubernatorial election. It is on air that, the Comrade Governor’s inappropriate reactions and restlessness is simply on the ground that the state’s second in command might not exit with him as their tenure expires this year (if he wins) – and there is a strong fear that the deputy, with his popularity and, connection can truncate his ambition to
becoming a political godfather in the state. Apologists of the deputy see it as laughable because Mr. Egberamwen Odubu’s action is not at variance with the constitution. The citizens are somewhat apprehensive – not knowing what will happen next.

Social and news media are agog with pity stories of Oshiomhole’s desperate move to impose his “anointed candidate” as the next governor of the state – even at the expense of making the party becoming a mere social group without political agenda and future in the state. He does not give a damn! All he wants is for his political dynasty to remain as along as he lives. His fear according to some people is that the incoming person could be pushed to react by way of prosecuting him for gross misappropriation of funds and other finance related matters. For this not to happen, he is all out to make sure that the next governor of the state comes from his camp.

Reports have it that he has stepped on many toes to realize his ambition. This is why many people are not at peace with him. In the recent past, Barrister Gentleman Amegor was embarrassed by some elements in the state and arrows of accusation was pointed at him because of the difference in their choice of candidate, other political matters and his indifference to the plight of the embarrassed party chieftain.

In a similar action, this happened just recently, one of the Comrade’s Senior Special Assistant on media was arrested, arraigned and was released on bail and as luck would have it that the charge preferred against him was bailable. If he had perfected his plan, the man would have been languishing in jail. The reaction of the first citizen of the state was because SSA made bold to publicly pledge his support to the candidate of his choice to the dismay of the Governor. The people of the state in reaction see it as an outright intimidation and an attempt to infringe on his freedom to exercise his fundamental right as a free citizen of the state.

In a similar vein, Hon. Osaro Obazee, the elected chairman of Oredo local government was suspended from office allegedly on the ground of corruption and other related matters. In a swift reaction, the Chairman went to court for redress. The court gave him an audience and the judgement went in his favour, but in flagrant disregard for the court’s decision, the office of the chairman was barricaded by some people – denying him the opportunity to gain entrance into the office. In this episode, the people also believe that the Comrade Governor was behind the action as the latter felt slighted because the chairman supposedly pledged his loyalty to another political stalwart in the state. On this very matter, as you read, the Iyamho man has become a law unto himself as thugs at his behest remain stationed at the Oredo secretariat refusing the local government chairman from gaining access into his office.

Therefore putting these pieces together, one can deduce that the political atmosphere in the state is unfriendly and if not addressed by using the right apparatuses of the government to resist any act of abuse, oppression, and intimidation by these agents of evil, there is fear that in the coming days leading to the election might become volatile and unbearable.

By Iredia Osakue JP

Opening a new page in Edo state political history

– By Iredia Osakue

The long-awaited election in Edo state is fast approaching with a difference. The participants are not leaving any stone unturned as they race to the finishing point. In athletics, three winners take home medals, but in this case, only a candidate emerges as the winner and as such becomes the governor of the state for four long years and possibly because of good work, he could be voted for another four years as enshrined in the constitution of the country.

This is akin to the modern-day Olympic Games. This being that, athletes need four long years to prepare for the games and whoever wins hold the title until the next games. Failure to win, requires another four years of hard work, total commitment and concentration which of course is onerous. It is on this note that some athletes go out of their way to take muscle-enhancing drugs so as to excel. The importance of victory in every sphere of life cannot be overemphasized because of the comfort, fame and Honour it brings.

In the political circle, the same tactics is devised to outwit opponents. Some candidates go out of their way and rules to hoodwink or worse still intimidate the electorate as they source for support and vote.

Oftentimes, the missing link between candidates and the electorate is credibility, track record and the ability to perform when voted into office. The above ought to be the fundamental parameter acceptably required to measure the political calibre, preparedness and conviction of any candidate. But, be that as it may, the candidates cannot do without the electorate because the only sure way to victory is the electorate’s constitutional right to vote and the latitude to decide who wins. Sadly, this has been abused as some citizens out of greed or disdain over a candidate fail to act in tune with objectivity and thus sell the future to the unwelcome candidate.

Now that the citizens know all these, the right thing to do as the election time bomb ticks in Edo state is to identify the credible candidate that can right the wrongs. And considering the present political situation; the spate of abuses, executive excesses and arrogance, various degree of crimes, poverty, intolerable environmental degradation. Paucity of basic amenities, educational collapse, high rate of unemployment and infrastructural dearth, the people do not need a soothsayer to help them identify the man with the right political frame of my mind to reposition the state and catapult it to an enviable level.

Amongst the gubernatorial candidates, one stands tall like the statute of Liberty, taking into cognizance his political journey and experience. The state does not need a “pupil governor” that needs to be taught the rudiments of governance especially in this present political climate – the state requires a trusted and tested candidate who already has the blueprint of what needs to be done and not just a mere ambitious political neophyte without the genuine credentials and foresight to dispense the right dose of healing pills that can bring about a healthy society.

To this end, a new page is about to be opened and the true candidate that knows how to read through the lines and understand the formula is the ever humble and committed Edo man with a burning desire to govern according to the tenets of democracy. He is Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. The people call him “leader” not as an act to blow matters out of proportion but an appellation that represents his purpose, idea and existence.

As you reflect on this, be it etched on your minds that “one cannot lie on the lap of Delilah and wants to wake up in the bosom of Abraham.” Also, somebody once said that, ” vision without action is a daydream and action without vision is a nightmare.” Therefore, it is a compelling necessity that we should carry the vision of this willing-to-serve man to a logical conclusion, so that the aspirations of every Edolite will be achieved when he mounts the saddle of governance.

POI is real and key to his vision for the future is now!

Iredia Osakue JP is a Nigeria writer and researcher based in Turin, Italy.

Curious facts about Ibori London case

– By Tony Eluemunor

Suddenly, things seem to be turning around for Chief James Onanefe Ibori. There is a frenzy of writings in FACEBOOK about his release date; some of the postings actually say he has already been released and will be in Nigeria as soon as he could possibly get a seat on a flight. To those who post such, I have little to say. So, this article is not addressed to them, but to those who are doing their malicious best to destroy whatever ray of positive light, from the Ibori point of view, that has been trained recently on this case.

One such person approached me a few weeks ago to ask where Ibori got the money with which he bought a private jet. When I told him that Ibori never bought a private jet, he began to stutter. From there he asked if it was not true that Ibori got some oil majors to launder money for him. When I reminded him that Ibori never faced such a charge, and that such nonsense only appeared in an unconscionable newspaper allegation that Mr. Nuhu Ribadu made, and that such a question has given his revisionist source away, he left after promising to call me for further questioning. This man who came all the way from the US and who claimed he was researching a book has yet to call me again. Yet, why such revisionist efforts?

Suddenly, the hunters are becoming the hunted as the British Police investigators and the Prosecution officials that were arrayed against Ibori have been so deeply indicted that they have all been dropped from the case. And the recent court sessions on the case came at Chief Ibori’s behest. Now, Ibori’s legal team may actually ask that Ibori’s conviction be quashed – as a lawyer, Mr. Stephen Kimlish, advised openly on London-based Ben TV interview as was rebroadcast by AIT.

He said: “Well, the fact is that most times, people plead guilty for the wrong reasons. It does happen. In my career I have seen people plead guilty because of wrong advice or when the evidence seem too strong or when they have lost hope and sometimes they don’t have the will-power to stand long trial or their Barrister might say you will get a much lower sentence if you plead guilty, so I can’t say in particular why James Ibori pleaded guilty and whether he is guilty or not guilty but what I can say is that when there is corruption on this scale and in the background of the case, I’m involved in this case, the British law says that even if you pleaded guilty or not, your guilty plea can be quashed because the British public can’t discountenance such major corruption in a common investigation, therefore, whether you plead guilty or you plead not guilty, your conviction can be quashed. So in this case that is what we are currently aiming for. As for Bhadresh Gohil, I am going for quashing”!

One of the devilish media bashings Ibori suffered from is this example from Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, implying in a newspaper article of September 20, 2012 that Ibori had no other source of income while he was Delta State Governor.

Relying on the 44-page paper filed by the London Metropolitan Police, against Ibori in court, I’ll prove that Adeniyi and others erred terribly. It bore a simple title: “R versus James Ibori. Opening Note For Sentence”. It proclaimed in line one that the Defendant, James Ibori, was the Governor of Delta State, one of the richest oil producing states in Nigeria….Second item; “He deliberately and systematically defrauded the people whose interests he had been elected to represent”. Third item: “The total sum that Mr. Ibori has stolen remains unquantified.

However, the sums that formed the subject of the two indictments to which Ibori has pleaded guilty amount to approximately Fifty Million Pounds”. Yet, most news organizations said Ibori had pleaded guilty to stealing 350 million Pounds.

The Guardian of London, which reported the 50 Pounds sum, added that Ibori “amassed a portfolio of six properties outside Nigeria worth £6.9m at a time he was being paid £4,000 a year as state governor of the Delta region. “The properties in London included a flat in St John’s Wood, a house in Hampstead, and one in Regent’s Park. He also had a £3m mansion in South Africa and properties in Texas and in Dorset, near to where his children attended private school. “Ibori also bought a fleet of luxury cars, and in three years ran up £920,000 on his American Express Centurion card – a card only available to the super-rich, was told the court.

In 2005, Ibori instructed a London solicitor to buy a private jet costing $20m”. Now, on whether Ibori had other sources of income, may we jump to page 14 of that same document, item 81, and dealing with MER Engineering? “MER was a company that was incorporated in Nigeria in 1990. It built houseboats, which were rented out to oil workers in the Delta. It was Ibori who was able to influence the contracts with Chevron and Shell and the NNPC” Item 83: “It was MER money that paid for the Ibori property in Hampstead, Westover Hill: Count 5. Item 84, “It was MER money that paid for the house Ibori bought in Houston Texas. Item 85, “it was MER money that paid for the deposit for the $20 million Challenger Jet airplane that Mr. Ibori was in the process of buying when his monies were restrained by the UK courts”.

Weeks before Ibori was sentenced, EFCC arrested and questioned one Dr. Babalakin on the charge that he helped Ibori launder money, using the account of Babalakin’s company. EFCC said Ibori never tried to buy a Challenger jet but was only helped to launder money by pretending he was buying a jet. I replied that the EFCC was lying because it had known for years that Ibori actually invested some money in a registered air-charter company for a jet that would be used commercially, but the world has been deceived that Ibori had bought, or was in the process of buying, a private jet. The aircraft investment made with MER Engineering funds appeared in the Guardian of London and other papers, thus: “in 2005, Ibori instructed a London solicitor to buy a private jet costing $20m”. Now, which private jet was London MET Police talking about? Or did the EFCC not arrest Babalakin on the allegation that he helped Ibori launder money in the guise of buying a private jet?

And didn’t the same London Met Police state in court that Ibori had invested only $4million on that aircraft – money from MER Engineering? Adding the $4 million for the jet to the $6 million for the properties, sums that came from MER Engineering, brings the entire sum to $10 million. If you make allowance for police exaggeration of property costs, you would have a sum that is below $8 million. It is a huge amount but it is nowhere near 50 or 250 million Pounds. And the monies came from MER Engineering accounts.

Also, I don’t want to go into the amount of the travel and overnight allowances that Ibori was paid during his eight-year tenure as Governor. In fact I once reminded Olusegun Adeniyi, that he collected allowances for trips with the late President Yar’Adua and especially for that 2010 South African World Cup jamboree which he, among a “lean” retinue of 500 officials costing Nigeria N314, 473,438. 22, attended. Was the allowance for that trip part of his annual salary? Sometimes I am tempted to disbelieve my eyes. On item 175 of the same court document: “By the time he was into his second term of office as Governor of Delta State, James Ibori had defrauded Delta State of such large sums of money that he was planning to buy himself a private jet aeroplane costing $20 million.” Is this not the same plane for which Mr. Babalakin was arrested, and EFCC said he was laundering money for Ibori in the guise of buying a plane? Item 183: “MER had an account at Barclays bank in Knightsbridge. The Money went from the oil companies straight out of Nigeria and into MER account in Barclays”. And that too is a crime? Item 29: “Mr. Ibori used money defrauded from the people of Nigeria to buy a property in Houston in Texas … “only to see in Item 84, “It was MER money that paid for the house Ibori bought in Houston Texas’.

Ibori’s many sins for which he was convicted included this terribly grave crime: Item 34: “In addition to his millionaire life style, Ibori called himself “HIS EXCELLENCY”, a title not recognized by the constitution”.

Also, Nuhu Ribadu accused the oil majors of helping Ibori launder money over the same MER Engineering contracts, claiming that MER Engineering had no contracts at all with those oil companies. And such nonsense even found its way into the Financial Times of London in September 2007 and the Saharareporters even published a story; “How Ibori Bought A Private Jet”. Really, truth has been terribly eclipsed in the Ibori media-lynching bid.


Tony Eluemunor is Chief Media aide to James Onanefe Ibori.

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