Akpabio, Nunieh, Magu And Malami

By Casmir Igbokwe

The past few weeks have been very interesting for Nigeria. Corruption and the forces fighting it have been entangled in an intricate war. I thought the capture of suspected cybercriminal, Raymond Abbas, popularly called Hushpuppi, would put an end to Nigeria’s disgraceful outing on crime this year. I was mistaken.

Last week happened to be more eventful. Different public officers claimed that corruption was fighting them. Ibrahim Magu, the nation’s erstwhile frontline corruption hunter, suddenly became the hunted. He spent some days in custody and is facing a presidential panel probing his activities in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Though he has been suspended as the acting chairman of the EFCC, he believes he is innocent and has asked for fair-minded hearing from the panel.

On his part, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said he was traumatised by different allegations, which had subjected him to “considerable distress, psychological trauma, anxiety and greatly injured his character and reputation.” He has threatened to go to court.

It is at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) that the national drama is about to reach its climax. My old-time friend and former acting managing director of the NDDC, Joy Nunieh, revealed how she slapped the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, for alleged sexual harassment. In denying the allegation, Akpabio regaled us with how he was happily married and contented with his wife and that they were blessed with four daughters. He also enthused that he had appointed several women into various high-level positions like commissioners, permanent secretaries, etc, and had continued to champion the cause of women. The two combatants have also threatened legal actions against each other.

It is becoming more interesting and I think we are in for a long-drawn war. None of the characters involved in this comedy show plays minor roles anywhere. Akpabio does not shy away from political battles. And Nunieh is a veteran of many struggles, including the Ogoni emancipation struggle. Look at the way she outmanoeuvred the security agents who stormed her house in Port Harcourt last week to arrest her. She called Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike, who quickly came to her rescue and took her to Government House to cool off.

As the headlines these days go, President Muhammadu Buhari has been ordering and vowing to deal with the variegated mess in the country. But, the more he vows to get to the root of the crisis rocking the NDDC, the more the mess.

The other day at the National Assembly, the acting MD of the commission, Professor Kemerbrandikumo Pondei, walked out on a House of Representatives panel probing the alleged N40 billion irregular expenditure of the commission in Abuja. According to Pondei, the House committee chairman, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, is an accused party in the matter and cannot preside over the investigative hearing. On his part, Tunji-Ojo alleged that the commission’s expenditure between January and May 2020 was N81.5 billion, which was far above the N40 billion they were asked to investigate. Part of the expenses reportedly include N1.5 billion as COVID-19 palliatives for NDDC officials, and N475 million to the police to procure face masks and hand sanitizers.

Even the Senate and the NDDC are also at loggerheads. NDDC director of projects, Dr. Cairo Ojuogboh, reportedly said the problem was not with his commission but with the chairmen of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on NDDC. He accused them of hijacking the 2020 budget of the commission.

I don’t know what gave Pondei the effrontery to walk out on the House. But, again, Buhari, in the words of his media aide, Garba Shehu, “has expressed strong determination to get to the root of the problem undermining the development of the Niger Delta and its people in spite of enormous national resources voted year after year for this singular purpose.”

For now, we can only wait for truth to unravel after the series of investigations currently going on. The only snag here is that the back-and-forth accusations have made us a joke in the comity of serious nations. I am concerned that the hitherto tough-looking Magu, whom I visited recently as a member of the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), would be taking the same corruption drugs he has been administering to people. I am disturbed that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malami, who supervises Magu, would be weighed down by allegations of corruption.

Little wonder, a recruitment agency in Dubai, Shirley Recruitment Consultants, advertised for some positions for Africans recently but excluded Nigerians. Don’t blame them. It is called perception. In corruption perception index, we have been scoring very low.

Not that we don’t have good and transparent Nigerians. We do. Recently, for instance, a Nigerian Ph.D student in Japan, Ikenna Nweke, received the commendation of the Japanese government and the police for returning a lost big purse containing huge sums of money. He even rejected the 10 per cent of the money, which he is entitled to by Japanese law.

Besides, Nigerians have excelled in many fields of human endeavour. Dr. Chidubem Obi, from Anambra State, scored 5.0 grade point average (GPA) to become the first African to achieve that feat in Sechenov Medical University in Russia. In the United States of America, Nigerians are the most educated immigrants. Some of them hold commanding heights in that country’s education, health and business sectors. The first black woman to be president of the Harvard Law Review, Imelme A. Umana, is a Nigerian.

And just last week, a Nigerian from Anambra State, Professor Charles Egbu, was appointed the first black vice chancellor of a United Kingdom university, the Leeds Trinity University.

These are the people who give us hope, who send signals to the world that not all Nigerians are criminals. As Ikenna Nweke put it, “The criminal elements are just a tiny fraction of the country’s 200 million population.”

Re: Galaxy of brains for Anambra governorship race

I just think that the dysfunctional nature of governance in Nigeria including Anambra has less to do with the poor educational or other qualifications of candidates for public office per se. Politicians over the years who have performed badly in office have degrees and solid years of experience as lawyers, doctors etc. Some of them have PhDs and even taught for years in the universities like Governors Ikpeazu of Abia and Ayade of Cross River. Look at the successive Attorneys General of the Federation from Andoakaa under Ya’Ardua to Adoke under GEJ and the incumbent Malami, all seasoned lawyers in practice who rose from the ranks to become SAN before they were appointed AG. Look at their records in public office. In the Nigerian system, you might get the best candidate on paper and someone who parades known credentials elected and he will end up as disaster in office. Let’s hope Anambra gets luckier after Obiano to get some with discipline and focus to govern with a sense of purpose and not carried away by the frivolities of paraphernalia of public office, a deadly virus that attacks most public officials in Nigeria!

–  Prof. Obi Aginam, Canada 

Dear Casy, the galaxy of the eggheads that are jostling for Anambra governorship election of 2021 is great and intimidating but my concern has to do with leadership deficit in our body politics since the second republic. I pray that whoever emerges as the governor after the election must continue from where Peter Obi stopped. Obi showed good leadership in Anambra state. May God bless the souls of M.I. Okpara, Akanu Ibiam, Sam Mbakwe, Emeka Ojukwu and also the living ones like Jim Nwobodo, Peter Obi and the rest of them in and outside govt. Let Anambra vote wisely. God bless Anambra and Igbo land.

–  Eze Chima C. Lagos, +2347036225495

Prof. Chukwuma Soludo who is incidentally your brother and starting point is a first class brain. The other side of him is that people are complaining that he is not a good mixer with average people. Secondly, shall we continue to produce the adherents of Roman Catholic denomination? The same thing goes to Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, Chief Obiora Okonkwo and Dr. Godwin Maduka who are incidentally the first class brains in Anambra with Roman Catholic background. In the case of Sen. Ifeanyi who is incidentally a Roman Catholic and business mogul with poor academic background, we should recall that Americans told Ross Pero that there is difference between the management of private and public sector. The other sides of Mrs. Uche Ekwunife who defeated Chief Victor Umeh to equalise the defeat meted to her by Umeh are (i) She is now from Anambra Central.(ii) She is a Roman Cath. (iii) She was a 3rd class student who cannot beat the records of Chief Umeh in the red chamber not to talk of beating the records of her predecessors if she eventually emerges as a governor.  The only option is Chief Godwin Ezeemo who is incidentally a good marketer and business mogul with Anglican Communion background.

–  Mr. Chinedu Ekwuno (JP) 08063730644

Anambra 2021 gubernatorial election is going to be interesting in the sense that those aspirants are not pretenders but contenders in their ambition to rule. All the bigwig aspirants have what it takes to develop Anambra state. May the will of God be done in Anambra state in 2021!

–  Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

Dear Casmir, I expected you to title it “Galaxy of Stars”. Glory be to God that Anambra is now parading professionals in politics. It’s a state that never had their boys reading beyond primary six in the 80s and JSS3 in the 90s. Salvation has come to the house of Israel.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215

Ndi-Anambra should vote wisely to ensure that the best candidate succeeds Obiano. Also, Federal Govt. should make sure that there is level playing ground. INEC and security agents should discharge their duties professionally.

– Smart, Abakaliki, 08134774884

Casmir, it’s easier to put together a galaxy of stars or an avalanche of men with fantastic academic records pre-election period. However, what we lack, even as a nation, is an avalanche of ‘men of integrity’ with a genuine heart for ‘selfless service’. Anambra and Nigeria desperately need men who are ‘legacy conscious’ and who desire that their names be written in gold in their states or country’s hall of fame.

  –  Mike, Mushin,  +2348161114572

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, July 20, 2020

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