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The Oracle: How Buharocracy Put Nigeria in Throes (Pt. 1)

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By Mike Ozekhome

INTRODUCTION

NO TO HISTORICAL REVISIONISTS

I will not allow historical revisionists the opportunity to quickly rewrite Nigeria’s recent history – especially of former president Mohammadu Buhari’s dismal performance and misgovernance of Nigeria in the last 8 years.  True, the fawners, bootlickers, toady flatterers and clappers, who benefited greatly from his warped tenure, are ever ready to applaud, clap and “rankadede” him forever. I am not one of them. I never was. Never will be. Or are you? Let me however thank President Buhari (as I had done severally before now), for decorating me with the prestigious National honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), the 4th highest honour in Nigeria. This adds to my 2009 National honour of Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR). Buhari did this notwithstanding my strident criticism of his governance and leadership style throughout his 8 disastrous years of poor governance. He sure has tons of guts and strong balls to have taken my frequent disagreements with him in good faith. He earned my deep respect and admiration in this regard of large-heartedness. This is because not many in his huge shoes would have done so, given the same circumstances. However, whilst thanking the ex president, I will not be fair to history, the present and future generations yet unborn, if I do not give my earnest, but humble assessment of his 8 years misgovenance of Nigeria. It was simply squandering of riches. Missed opportunities! Missteps. False steps. This is where BUHAROCRACY comes in. he wobbled. He fumbled. He dawdled. He groggled. He literally crumbled. Buharocracy is the concept of government. But, let me background this writeup with my neologism.

I have since evolved OZEKPEDIA- my own neologism – my coinage of new words and phrases that appear not to exist before, but which I now throw up to achieve popular or institutional recognition and thus get accepted in the mainstream English language. It is in this regard I have since minted fresh words such as ELECTIONOCRACY (https://www.premiumtimesng.com/opinion/595657-nigerian-politicians-and-the-go-to-court-antics-by-mike-ozekhome.html); SELECTOCRACY (https://mikeozekhomeschambers.com/building-bridges-for-a-new-nigeria/); EXECUTOCRACY (https://independent.ng/building-bridges-for-a-new-nigeria/); LEGISLATOCRACY (https://barristerng.com/is-this-the-nigeria-of-our-dream-a-lecture-by-chief-mike-ozekhome-san-on-ambrose-alli-day/); and JUDOCRACY (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg8ByKVWWj0).

I had also coined, with reference to former President Buhari not treating Nigeria as one unified “Federal Republic of Nigeria”, some aberrative terms employed and practised by Buhari in his peculiar style of governance. Buhari practised “Federal Republic of the North”; or “The Northern Republic of Nigeria”; or “Republic of Northern Nigeria”; or “Republic of Federal North”; or “Northern Nigeria Republic”; or “Republic of Northern Nigeria and other vassal states”.                                  (See http://mikeozekhomeschambers.com/nigerian-leaders-and-the-ephemerality-of-power/; The Cable, “It is illegal for Buhari to Solely Appoint IP, says Ozekhome, https://www.the cableng; 6/4/21). (https://www.capitalpost.ng/nba-fractionalisation-jibrin-okutepa-san-sorely-missed-the-point-Ozekhome/); (https://ourpeoplesfm1041.com.ng/2021/01/16/remove-that-fatwa-from-bishop-kukahs-head-by-mike-ozekhome-san/); https://www.latestnigeriannews.com/p/153190/remove-that-fatwa-from-bishop-kukahs-head-ozekhome.html).

I did not coin, but I have since used and popularised “Amala politics”; “Gbegiri politics”; “Come-and-chop politics”; and “Stomach infrastructure politics”, etc. But, I have also minted into our political lexicon, words such as “tuwo sinkafa politics” “politrician”, “militrician”, “civitrician”, and “politics of akpu”, “edikang ikon”, and “politics of omisaghue and amato”. In one of my outings as far back as May 11, 2015 (even before Buhari was sworn in for his first term), titled, “Era of Decampment: Politicians Without Principles”                                                         (see https://globalpatriotnews.com/opinion-era-of-decampment-politicians-without-principle/), I wrote as follows:

“The “come-and-chop” or “chop-I-chop” politics syndrome found its name into the Nigerian political lexicon long before Fayose. Long before now, we had colourful politicians like Busari Adelakun (Eruobodo) and Lamidi Adedibu, who popularised “amala” or “gbegiri” politics. Some call it “akpu”, “edikang ikon”, “tuwo sinkafa” politics. I call it “politics of “omhisaghue and amato” (don’t ask me what these mean in my Etsako, Weppa- Wanno language).

“This genre of politics is simply anchored on the cheap principle of sharing (never baking) the national cake amongst family members, old school mates, kinsmen, religious peers, business companions, political affiliates, etc. It is a euphemism for freely stealing from the national treasury and pillaging our commonwealth.

“It thrives on cronyism, tribalism, nepotism, undue favouritism, clannishness, religious bigotry, ethnic chauvinism and ethno-religious jingoism. It abhors merit. It detests brilliance. It enthrones mediocrity. As a principle, “come and chop” politics advocates that the strongest continuously pummels and subdues the strong into a comatose position of irreversibility, while the already weak ones are battered into oblivion and totally interred or entombed alive.

“The Nigerian politician (sorry, politrician) is at once a “Militrician” (Military top brass turned into politicians and “Civitrician” (civilians practising politics). The Nigerian Politician has corrupted politics and madly stripped it of its inherent nobility and integrity.

“Like common whores, they prostitute from one political party to another, never ashamed to return to an earlier party that he left with éclat and celebration to eat his vomit. Whether the party is PDP, APC, AD, APP, AC, ACN, CPC, ANPP, the Nigerian Politician gallivants about shamelessly, strutting from one party to the other. He lacks morality. He is allergic to political decorum or democratic nuances. He is a loose cannon. The same political class rotates offices amongst themselves. The same faces, but different offices. Once a local government chairman, he aspires to be member of a state House of Assembly; then House of Representatives; then Senate.

“Later, he leaves Senate to become a Governor; or from his gubernatorial seat to become a Senator. Over the years, it is the same dramatis personnel. No new entrants. No fresh ideas. Power is rotated from father to son, mother to daughter, brother to brother and kinsman to kinswoman. Little wonder that Nigeria has not grown. Even her purported development has been without actual and real development. She continues to suffer the fate of the barber’s chair of perpetual motion and rotation on its axis, but without progress. Her growth is stunted, for there is no manure or fertilizer to resuscitate the parched soil.”

On OZEKPEDIA, therefore, do not blame me or come after my jugular for daring to challenge Collins, Websters, Blacks and Oxford English Dictionaries. This was how Andrew Le Breton first conceptualized 28 Volumes of the Encyclopedia in French. It was later translated by Dennis Diderot, an 18th Century French Philosopher, Art Critic and writer, between 1751 and 1772. Indeed, it was actually an avid writer and admirer, who after following my writeups for a very long time, sent me the coinages – “OZEKPEDIA”, “OZEKMATICS” and “OZEKDICTIONARY”. He was referring to many of my writeups, including those on the requirement that the Nigerian President must compulsorily need to have 25% votes of FCT, Abuja; and my linguistics; syntax and prose style. I thank him immensely.

Thus, as at today, we have ENCYCLOPEDIA (1751-1772); SMITHSONIA (1846); WIKIPEDIA (2001); SCHOLARPEDIA (2006); LEGALPEDIA (2007); and EUROPEDIA (2008). Now, enters OZEKPEDIA (2023). So, help me God.  Amen.

OZEKPEDIA AND BUHAROCRACY

Nigeria had her independence on October 1, 1960. She was however totally severed off the umbilical cord of imperialism in 1963 – when she became a Republic. Since then, the story of her leadership travails has become an unending tragedy; a cesspool and affront on the labours of our heroes past. The Nigerian polity became engulfed in the grip of series of military juntas under the thin guise of salvaging the decaying system. This went on until 1999, when a democratic government was ushered in. This year makes it 24 years of uninterrupted democracy. But it seems – like a man with a heavy load of web on his face – that Nigeria is still undergoing a vicious cycling and recycling of her leaders, de – die – in – diem.

In times of much uncertainty and untrammeled corruption bazaar, Nigeria was so unfortunate to have been governed by an apparently pretentious man who was almost deified and canonized. Buhari, like a man who never believes that once beaten, twice shy – ensured that Nigeria was beaten twice by the same man – Buhari. First as a military dictator. Later as a civilian ruler (not a democratic leader, in my humble estimation). I hope we are now awake from our self-imposed slumber and selective amnesia in this democracy.

NIGERIA IS FAR FROM PRACTISING DEMOCRACY

Strictu sensu, Nigeria, in my humble view, does not practise democracy. Rather, we practise other “cracies” (not democracy), which I have coined from my dictionary – Ozekpedia. These are Judocracy, Electionocracy, Executocracy, Selectocracy and Legislatocracy.                                                                                     (See https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=93SFQYIpkpU; https://www.page36news.com/2021/10/02/mike-ozekhomesays-we-are-not-practicing-democracy-in-nigeria-declares-that-what-we-have-under-president-muhammadu-buhari-others-is-election-ocracy-where-the-leaders-elect-themselves-into-office-o/amp/;   

BUHAROCRACY

I have today, added another “cracy”, but this particular cracy is crazy – ‘Buharocracy.’ Buharocracy is a type of cracy, where government is ‘abysmally ignoramus, zero-idealistic, and dictatorially at it’s crescendo.’ Little wonder, popular African singer, late Anikulapo-Kuti, in one of the ‘Abami Eda’s songs, “Beast of No Nation”, sang, “Na craze world be dat, craze world, No be outside Buhari dey, craze world, na craze man be dat, craze world.” (See https://punchng.com/fans-remember-felas-lyrics-on-democracy-day/). Fela warned us then, but Nigerians feigned deafness; maybe because they said he smoked weed. Nigerians forgot that to be fore-warned, is to be fore-armed. Former President of America, Barrack Obama, once admonished, “I always believe that ultimately, if people are paying attention, then we get good government and good leadership. And when we get lazy, as a democracy, and civically start taking shortcuts, then it results in bad government and politics.”

Oh, see where our refusal and neglect to pay attention to history have landed us!. Leadership, to be sure, would also be accounted for in the last days of human existence. Taking solace from the Bible; “Blessed are you, o land, whose King is of nobility and whose instructions Princes eat at the appropriate time – for strength and not for drunkenness.” An Islamic cleric, Ma’qil narrated, “I heard Rasulullah (SAW)  saying: “Any man whom Allah has given the authority of ruling some people and he does not look after them in an honest manner, will never feel even the smell of Paradise.” (Sahih Muslim).

John G. Lake, once told us, “the man with a groan never moved the world except to more groans.” Buhari tried very hard to flourish himself like a saint in white apparel, when in fact, he was the chief repository of negative governance.  Therefore, Stanley Baldwin was not wrong when he said, “Dictatorship is like a giant beech – tree – very magnificent to look at in it’s prime, but nothing grows underneath.” Where have the 8 wasted years of the once feared “anti – corruption Czar” led us to today? I don’t know. Or, do you?

The voyage of Nigeria since May 29, 2015, through May 29, 2023, (being the second and final coming of Buharocracy), amounted to a craze of all cracies.

There are many “cracies” corrupted from the word “Democracy”, as shown in Ozekpedia above. When Abraham Lincoln on 19th November, 1863, eulogized “Democracy” during his Gettysburg Declaration as “government of the people by the people and for the people”, he could never have imagined that subsequent world leaders would corrupt this beautiful term invented by the ancient Athenians of Greece in 507 BC, following a turbulent era of aristocracy and tyranny. “Demos” derived from Greek, meaning “people”, or “population”. “Crasy” means “rule”, “government”, “governing body”. So, democracy is government of the people.   

BUHAROCRACY AND ITS EFFECT

Buharocracy is a form of government where the people expect so much, but get nothing; or at best, so little in return. It is a system of government in which the ruler, during campaigns and in his manifesto, promises so much; but brazenly discards and trashes all promises upon being voted in by the people. In Buharocracy, the ruler freely deceives the people. He is a maximum dictator, rules by precepts, rather than by examples. The concept allows the ruler to ride slipshod on his people; destroy institutions, enkindle divisions; and enthrone cyronynism, prebendalism, nepotism, favouritism, ethnicity, sectionalism, tribalism and religious bigotry.

Under Buharocracy, rule of law is literally suspended in place of so called National Security, a veneer for self interest or government interest.   Under Buharocracy, the elected rules, rather than governs. He tells the people, “do what I say and not what I do”. Because the ruler suffers grave disconnect with the people, he feigns amnesia of their sufferings and despondency. He neither sympathises, nor empathises. He lives in a make-belief world; a world garnished with grandeur of illusion. The ruler is permitted to discard his hitherto pretentious Spartan-like life. He indulges in vain-glorious affluence, pomp, pageantry and razzmatazz. Kakaaki trumpets escort him to the airport when travelling, and also welcome him back from his frequent medical trips abroad. The maximum dictator under Buharocracy is deaf, dumb and numb to the feelings, yearnings and aspirations of his beleaguered and vanquished citizens rendered prostrate through misgovernance, high-handedness, corruption, insecurity and jack-bootism. He would rather build rail lines, refineries and industries in a neighbouring country like Niger, wherein he has his own firm roots of origin, to the detriment of his own country – Nigeria – that elected him into office. Restructuring and true federalism are an anathema to Buharocracy. That is Buharocracy for you. And more …

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Opinion

A Standing Ovation to Aare Dele Momodu @64

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By Kunle Oshobi

Two weeks ago, I woke up to receive an invitation from Aare Dele Momodu via WhatsApp, requesting my presence at his inaugural leadership lecture in celebration of his sixty-fourth birthday. I was really excited about the initiative because such forums tend to serve as incubation rooms where wealth of ideas that can be used to propel the country forward are consummated.

I was even more excited about the topic “The politics of energy and the way forward” but what really thrilled me was the choice of Prof Bartholomew Nnaji as the guest speaker given his phenomenal exploits in the Nigerian power sector which is already transforming the economy of Abia state and promises to serve as a template that can be used to resolve the power sector challenges in Nigeria.

I waited with abated breath till the sixteenth of May when the event was scheduled to take place at the prestigious Nigerian Institute for International Affairs (NIIA) in Victoria Island, Lagos. The day couldn’t come early enough, it actually felt as if I was the one going to be the celebrant given how excited I was about it. The day eventually came and there was a heavy downpour that morning which resulted in a bit of traffic congestion but it wasn’t enough to deter me as I looked forward with excitement to the event of the day.

On getting to the premises of the NIIA, the ambiance of the venue was augmented by a beautiful collage of photographs of the celebrant with leading past and present, national and global leaders which showcased him as a man with vast networks and influence even though he has always downplayed this with his exceptional humility.

As expected the ambiance of the auditorium was congenial as it had been well decorated to suit the occasion and the Master of Ceremony was no less than Dr Reuben Abati who is one of the top and most respected journalist in the country. The occasion was graced by three former governors who have also been leading presidential candidates in previous elections namely Peter Obi, Donald Duke, and Rabiu Kwankwaso while the Chief Host of the occasion was the governor of Osun state, His Excellency Governor Ademola Adeleke.

The royal father of the day was no less a personality than the Oonirisa, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi who brought pomp and pageantry to the occasion. The chairman of the occasion was Dr John Dramani Mahama the former president of Ghana who did a lot to transform the power sector in Ghana, while as mentioned earlier the guest speaker was Professor Bartholomew Nnaji who is probably the most qualified Nigerian alive to give a lecture on the subject matter.

The event started with a brief welcome from the MC, Dr Reuben Abati who added a lot of flavour to the occasion with his wit and charm as he dexterously handled the affairs of the day. Next was the celebrant, Aare Dele Momodu who told us about his dream for a better Nigeria and wanting to leave a legacy of contributing to the country’s development being the inspiration behind opting for leadership lectures to celebrate his birthday going forward, to the applause of the audience.

The chairman of the occasion Dr John Dramani Mahama was the first to speak and he shared with us his experience in solving the power problems in Ghana during his administration while he advocated for greater cooperation between Nigeria and Ghana in resolving our economic challenges in the ECOWAS sub-region. He also emphasized that Nigeria being the big brother has a bigger role to play in developing the sub-region.

Next was Prof Bartholomew Nnaji giving us his keynote address in which he first spoke about the politics of energy at the international level, the issues regarding the quest for renewable energy to protect the planet while he pointed out the hypocrisy and double standards of Western powers when their interests conflict with the ideals that they have set for the rest of the world. He then delved into the power sector challenges in the country and what can be done to assuage them.

He was particular about the availability and the cost of gas which the government and the oil companies prefer to export rather than making it abundantly available for local use. However, he didn’t delve into the specific challenges he had in setting up Geometric Power Limited in Abia state and how he was eventually able to overcome these challenges which was what I really looked forward to hearing about from the horse’s mouth. I guess that he didn’t want to shake the table so he avoided a topic that could end up being controversial.

A few eminent personalities were then called upon to respond to the keynote speaker’s address starting with Mr Peter Obi who emphasized the critical role the power sector will play if we were to move our country from a consuming one to a producing one. Next was His Imperial Majesty Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi who dazzled us with his charm and eloquence as he emphasized the importance of the power sector while he advocated that we unite as a people to solve the country’s problems.

On his part, Donald Duke told us of how Nigeria lost a major investment opportunity from America in the mid-eighties when they proposed to build a gas pipeline from Nigeria to Europe due to the arrogance of our leaders at the time while inferring that the problem persists today. The pipeline was meant to evacuate over 25 billion cubic feet of gas that was being flared away at the time which was equivalent to about 25 million litres of diesel being frittered away daily, instead of harnessing it to add value to the country’s economy.

Contributing further, Kola Karim the chairman of Shoreline Group a major player in the Nigerian energy sector emphasized the need to develop infrastructure so that we can fully harness our resources to produce an efficient and stable power supply in the country.

It was indeed a very elucidating event but like all good things, it had to come to an end and our ever-so-professional MC was determined not to keep us waiting beyond the timeline planned for the occasion even though most of us wouldn’t have minded spending more time learning from the brilliant minds that spoke at the event.

At this juncture, I would like you to use this opportunity to once again congratulate my boss and egbon, Aare Dele Momodu on the auspicious occasion marking sixty-four years of his sojourn on this planet and celebrate him for the giant strides that he has made within the period. More commendable is the passion he has for our beloved country Nigeria and the desire he has to contribute to the development of the country which he has continuously demonstrated over the years and has now decided to institutionalize it by making the leadership lecture an annual event on the occasion of his birthday.

I pray that the almighty will continue to prosper him and reward his labor of love for the country even as we pray for good leaders that would turn the country to the path of progress and prosperity.

This is also a call out to other influential Nigerians to endeavor to use their means to contribute to the development of the Nigerian society. With what Aare has done with this leadership lecture, he has demonstrated that you don’t need political power to contribute effectively towards the development of the country. Where there is a will, there will surely be a way.

Oshobi writes from Lagos.

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Opinion

Increase in Minimum Capital Requirements for Nigerian Banks (Pt. II)

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By Bashorun J. K. Randle

It is self-evident that whatever the Governor of the Central Bank is doing (or not doing), the backing (and banking!!) of the President is critical. On that score, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu did not pull any punches when he spoke at the Hague, Netherlands during the business session of the bilateral meeting with the Dutch team, led by Prime Minister Mark Dutte.

“I am ever ready to take tough decisions in the best interest of the people, even if with initial pains. I am a determined leader; I will continue to take the difficult decisions that will benefit our people, even if there is a short-term pain. I am unafraid of the consequences once I know that my actions are in the best long-term interests of all Nigerians.”

Hence, we must recognize the over arching influence of Mr. President in economic, financial and political matters. When he was sworn in on 29th May 2023, he released an unscripted bombshell while delivering his inaugural address at Eagle Square, Abuja: Shortly afterwards, he spilled the beans in Paris while addressing Nigerians. According to AFP [Agence Francais-Presse]

“When I got to the podium, I was possessed with courage and I said fuel subsidy is gone. Also, no more parallel (black market) for dollars.”

On November 22, 2023, when President Tinubu addressed German-Nigerian Business Forum again he did not pull any punches:

“Nigeria voted for me for reforms, and from day one of my inauguration, I started the reforms. To me if you didn’t mention me in the Guinness Book of Records, I’d strive to find a way to insert myself because I did it without expectation.”

The endorsement of the IMF [International Monetary Fund] followed on February 14, 2024.

“The new Tinubu Administration has made a strong start, tackling deep-rooted structural issues in challenging circumstances. Immediately it adopted two policy reforms that its predecessors had shield away from: fuel subsidy removal and the unification of the official (dollar/naira) exchange rates.”

Front page editorial of “Nigerian Tribune” newspaper.
Headline: “BRIBES : TINUBU’s CHARGE TO INVESTORS”

“President Bola Tinubu recently set tongues wagging when, during his just concluded trip to Doha, the Qatari capital, he told the country’s captains of industry to report directly to him if any Nigerian official demanded a bribe from them in order to facilitate a business transaction. Revealed in a signed statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, the president’s message to Qatari investors at the Nigeria-Qatar Business and Investment Forum could not have been clearer: “Do not offer a bribe to any of our people, and if it is requested or taken from you, report to us. You will have access to me.”

Eager to drive home the point that the country is open to business and will adopt a business-friendly approach on his watch, he added: “Whatever is the obstacle or problem that some of you might have experienced; it is in the past because there is no obstacle in the future. We are removing obstacles today, and we are going to continue to remove all obstacles. We have done so much within nine months. And I assure you, it is free entry, and free exit. Your funds will flow smoothly into and out of our country. Bring your investments.” Finally, he urged Qatari investors not to allow “perceptions” about the country to “become a hindrance to [their] will to invest,” since “Nigeria is serious about revolutionizing investment promotion.”

We could not be more delighted to read this promise of radical transparency from the president since, at the very least, it shows that he is not unaware of the tremendous odds typically faced by any entity- individual or corporate- seeking to do business in Nigeria. While, as the president mentioned, corruption is the most significant among these challenges, it goes without saying that it is just one of many tangible and intangible obstacles to investment.

Accordingly, not only do we welcome the president’s statement, for nothing could be more timely, we urge him to do everything within his capacity to ensure that the book is thrown at whoever flouts it, no matter how highly placed such a person is in the current administration. In other words, nothing is more important than the president backing his rhetoric with action, for understandably, many Nigerians are bound to sneer, saying that they have heard such soaring rhetoric before and that when the time came for egregious misdemeanors to be punished, the government lost its nerve. Since such skeptics have a point, the task before the president is to show that their skepticism has no basis, and that he will let the hammer fall on whichever official demands inducement to do their job.
Until then, he can, as a matter of fact, do something about the current situation in the upper legislative house, where rumours of budget-padding and dubious awards to senators have cast a shadow upon the integrity of the lawmakers. If the government is truly interested in fighting corruption, it can do no better right now than to act on the many cases of corruption dotting the landscape, including those affecting and relating to those within the inner circle of government. This would send the right and correct signals that Nigeria is ready for positive change and a new approach to public life rather than following the usual ineffective and tawdry public assertions that mean nothing in reality.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria used to boast of an excellent Research Department with a world class library. The King’s College Old Boys Association [KCOBA] would not take matters for granted. Here is a list of books which are to be delivered to the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Yemi Cardoso and Deputy Governor, Mr. Phillip Ekeazor (who are both old boys of St. Gregory’s College, Lagos:

(i) “Curse of Cash” by Kenneth S. Rogoff
(Harvard University)

(ii) “The Origin And Prevention of Major Wars” by Professor Robert Rothberg
(Harvard University)

(iii) “The Bottom Billion” by Professor Paul Collier
(Oxford University)

(iv) “What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing The Threat” by Professor Louise Richardson
(Oxford University)

(v) “The Elite Africa Project” by Professor Peter Lewis
(John Hopkins University)

(vi) “WONDER DRUG”
(7 Scientifically Proven Ways
That Serving Others Is The
Best Medicine for Yourself) by Stephen Trzeciak M.D.
and
Anthony Mazzarelli M.D

(vii) “THE ROAD TO FREEDOM, ECONOMICS
AND THE GOOD SOCIETY” by Joseph E. Stiglitz
(Winner of Nobel Prize)
Professor at Harvard; Yale;
Emerson College, University
Of California, Berkeley

From the archives we have the following vignettes:
(i) When the British Bank For West Africa
(now known as First Bank of Nigeria Plc)
was formed in 1894 among its founding
shareholders was Dr. J.K. Randle. The
inaugural meeting was held at the Colony
Hotel, in London.

(ii) When British Bank of West Africa launched a branch in Kano in 1929, Alhassan Dantata (Aliko Dangote’s grandfather) opened an account by depositing twenty camel-loads of silver coins.

(iii) “The Chairman of EFCC [Economic and Financial Crimes Commission] has announced that the embattled former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello withdrew funds from the government treasury and obtained U.S.$720,000 from a Bureau de Change to pay for his children’s school fees in advance at American International School, Abuja”

“Business Day” newspaper of May 8, 2024
Headline: “CHIKE-OBI CAUTIONS AGAINST POOR EXECUTION AMID BANKS’ RECAPITALISATION”

Mustapha Chike-Obi, chairman, Bank Directors’ Association of Nigeria, on Friday lauded the Central Bank’s latest bank recapitalisation policy but warned that poor execution could scuttle the gains.

Chike-Obi spoke at a roundtable assessing the bank recapitalisation policy organised by BusinessDay Media Limited in Lagos. He noted the 2004/2005 recapitalisation exercise was a good policy but was poorly implemented due to governance issues.
The CBN on March 28 announced new capital requirements for Nigerian lenders from commercial to merchant banks. The last such exercise was in 2004/2005, two decades ago.

During the recapitalisation of 2004/2005, a surge in liquidity occurred without adequate investment opportunities, leading to an asset bubble and subsequently the dismissal of several bank chiefs.

“A good policy that brings bad results means execution was problematic along the way. We are seeing bad results from good policies and nobody is taking responsibility for that. We should celebrate the policy and the results,” he said.

Speaking further, he said, “I encourage more engagement from the CBN, it’s better if they talk to the banks about why retained earnings are not considered at this point in time.

I think there should have been better engagement, some things need to be explained. Why does an international licence require more capital than a national licence? If you’re diversifying across nations, does that mean more risk? If I have one branch in London as Fidelity, am I in the same boat as a UBA who has many branches in many countries?” Chike-Obi, Chairman of Fidelity Bank Plc, said.

The CBN said all international banks should move their capital to a minimum of N500 billion; national banks up to a minimum of N200 billion; regional banks (N50 billion); merchant banks (N50 billion) and N20 billion for non-interest banks operating nationally and N10 billion for those operating regionally.

In his keynote address, Ike Chioke, Group Managing Director Afrinvest (West Africa) Limited, noted that “after the announcement of the last recapitalisation we had 89 banks operating with N311 billion total capital, which was equivalent to $2.4 billion at the time.

We ended up by December 31 2005 with 25 commercial banks each with a minimum of 25 billion and a total capital of N932.0 bn.
He said that commercial banks have a capital gap of N3.7 trillion to meet the capital requirements while the merchant banks have N200.6 billion.

There is some scepticism that banks will take on significantly more lending to the private sector once their minimum capital is raised given the risk in an economy battling with accelerating inflation and a severe cost-of-living crisis.

“We can still lend, but we’re limited in how much. As a banker, it’s more attractive to buy Treasury bills at 25 percent than to lend to people,” Chike-Obi said.

“There’s a reluctance by banks to lend. I would have reduced CRR, and told banks they can’t buy more than 10 percent of T-bills. This will force them to lend to people.”
He also said the notion that banks give people money to buy FX is not true.

“People only buy FX because it makes sense to them. It’s a rational economic decision. What we have to do is to make it more rational to hold assets in naira than in dollars. I’ll raise short term rates to 30%, and prevent banks from having more than 10 percent in T-bills.

What we have doesn’t allow growth and banks aren’t lending. I believe GDP growth will be lower in the fourth quarter than predictions. The raise in capital is necessary because the FX adjusted basis has gone down. So, the recapitalisation isn’t as massive as it looks from the outside,” he said.
Front page of “The Punch” newspaper of April 22, 2024
Headline: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria

Recommendations made by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria on the New Minimum Capital Requirements for Banks in Nigeria: Our Position.

“Given the above, the following recommendations are made to ensure a successful implementation of the programme:

1. The CBN may consider allowing the inclusion of retained earnings on the condition that they are not impaired by losses, to make it easier for the banks to comply with the new capitalization policy.

2. The two-year period allowed is considered sufficient to implement the programme. However, in view of the young age of non-interest banks in Nigeria, they should be allowed a longer period, probably three years, to meet the minimum capital requirements.

3. The Institute urges the CBN to extend the 30-day period it gave banks to come up with an implementation plan to 60 days given that it would take some time to obtain the consent of shareholders.

4. It is also important that the CBN provides some incentives to banks to facilitate the recapitalization exercise as was done in 2005. This can take the form of tax incentives and ensuring that the overall cost of recapitalization is low by seeking the cooperation of relevant stakeholder institutions such as the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Nigerian Exchange as well as the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission given that banks have the option of raising funds through the Capital Market or Mergers and Acquisitions.

5. The CBN should adequately supervise the banks to ensure that the costs of recapitalization are not transferred to their customers by way of higher bank charges.

6. The CBN is advised to engage the Bankers Committee on measures to put in place to ensure adequate compensation to staff of banks that may be disengaged as a result of the recapitalization exercise.

7. Exercise due verification to ensure that corrupt and laundered money do not find their way int the capitalization.”

Frontpage of “ThisDay” newspaper of April 13, 2024
Headline: AUDIT REPORT: SENATE PROBING 774 FEDERAL AGENCIES OVER AUDITOR GENERAL’S QUERIES”

“The Senate is currently scrutinizing the financial records of 774 Federal Agencies based on the queries raised against them in the 2019 report of the Auditor General for the Federation.

The Chairman, Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC), Senator Aliyu Wadada, disclosed this yesterday in his Keffi, Nasarawa State, country home while speaking with journalists. He noted that his committee was not out to witch-hunt anyone but pledged that members of the panel would discharge their responsibilities diligently in the best interest of the country.

Wadada, also disclosed that the 10th National Assembly with the support of President Bola Tinubu and critical stakeholders in the nation’s economy would soon embark on the amendment to the 2007 Procurement Act so as to curb financial infractions before they take place.

He nevertheless appealed to leaders at all tiers and heads of government institutions at the Federal, State and Local government levels to embrace the spirit of self-discipline and fear of God in the discharge of their responsibilities.

The Senator, who is representing Nasarawa West Senatorial District on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), said no matter how beautiful a law is crafted, it needed godly people to implement it.

Wadada said, “When I became the Chairman, Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC), I was emphatic on the need for President Bola Tinubu to appoint the substantive Auditor General for the Federation (AuGF).

“I even wrote a letter to that effect to the President and he responded by appointing a substantive AuGF.

The AuGF report for the 2020, 2021, 2022 fiscal years were not all ready. It was only the 2019 Auditor General’s report that was then ready for us to take actions on.

The Auditor General’s report for 2020 was ready at the time I became the Senate Public Account Committee but it could not be signed by the acting Auditor General for the Federation.

As we talk, the 2020 Auditor General’s report is ready and the substantive AuGF has appended his signature to it. The development is a confirmation that the Presidency under the stewardship of President Bola Tinubu is available, is responsive and supportive of the Committee on Public Accounts in the two chambers of the National Assembly. We have since started work on the 2019 Auditor General’s report before us.

Under my chairmanship of this sensitive and strategic committee, I have repeatedly said that we are not out to witch-hunt or pull down anybody.

Our ultimate objective vis-à-vis the primary focus of the committee is to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.”

Front page of “The Punch” newspaper of April 12, 2024
Headline: VIETNAM TYCOON SENTENCED TO DEATH IN
$12BN FRAUD CASE”

“A court in Vietnam sentenced real estate tycoon Truong My Lan Thursday to death over her role in a 304 trillion dong ($12.46bn) financial fraud case, the country’s biggest on record, state media reported.

CNN reports that her trial, which began on March 5 and ended earlier than planned, was one dramatic result of a campaign against corruption that the leader of the ruling Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, has pledged to stamp out.

Lan, the chairwoman of real estate developer Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, was found guilty of embezzlement, bribery and violations of banking rules at the end of a trial in the business hub of Ho Chi Minh City, state media said.

We will keep fighting to see what we can do,” a family member told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. Before the verdict, he had said Lan would appeal against the sentence.
Lan had pleaded not guilty to the embezzlement and bribery charges, Nguyen Huy Thiep, one of Lan’s lawyers told Reuters.

“Of course she will appeal the verdict,” he added, noting she was sentenced to death for the embezzlement charge and to 20 years each for the other two charges of bribery and violations of banking regulations.

Vietnam imposes the death penalty mostly for violent offences but also economic crimes. Human rights groups say it has executed hundreds of convicts in recent years, mainly by lethal injection.

The Thanh Nien newspaper said 84 defendants in the case received sentences ranging from probation for three years to life imprisonment. Among them are Lan’s husband, Eric Chu, a businessman from Hong Kong, who was sentenced to nine years in jail, and her niece, who got 17 years.

Lan started as a cosmetics trader at the central market in Ho Chi Minh City, helping her mother, she told judges during the trial, according to state media.

She later founded her real estate company, Van Thinh Phat, in 1992, the same year when she got married, according to state media. She was found guilty, along with her accomplices, of siphoning off more than 304 trillion dongs from Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank, which she effectively controlled through dozens of proxies despite rules strictly limiting large shareholding in lenders, according to investigators.

From early 2018 through October 2022, when the state bailed out SCB after a run on its deposits triggered by Lan’s arrest, she appropriated large sums by arranging unlawful loans to shell companies, investigators said.

The defendant’s action not only violate the property management rights of individuals and organisations but also put SCB under scrutiny, eroding people’s trust in the leadership of the Party and State,” state newspaper VnExpress cited the jury as saying.

The bank is currently propped up by the central bank and faces a complex restructuring under which authorities are trying to establish the legal status of hundreds of assets that were used as collateral for loans and bonds issued by VTP. The bonds alone are worth $1.2bn.

Some of the assets are high-end properties, but many others are unfinished projects. Before her fall from grace, she had played a key role in Vietnam’s financial world, getting involved in the previous rescue of troubled SCB more than a decade before she contributed to the bank’s new crisis.”

Front page of “Africa Voice” newspaper of 29 April, 2024
Headline: “PROF WINS TOP AWARD FOR ISLAMIC MORAL ECONOMY”

“Professor Mehmet Asutay has been selected as the first-place winner of the 2024 Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Prize for Impactful Achievement in Islamic Economics and influential contributions to the field of Islamic economics and finance.

The prize laureate is a Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Political Economy & Finance at Durham University, United Kingdom. He is an internationally recognized academic who produced pioneering and impactful scholarly works.

Professor Asutay was selected in recognition of his novel work on Islamic moral economy and the articulation of Islamic finance to be supportive of sustainable development and the welfare of human beings. This year’s prize cycle aims to recognize, reward and encourage significant knowledge contributions in Islamic economics with the potential to solve major development challenges of IsDB member countries. The prize comes with a US$50,000 award for the first prize winner, US$30,000 for second prize, and US$20,000 for third prize. However, the second and third-position prizes are withheld this year.

Every year the winners of the IsDB Prize are selected by a different committee of experts from outside the IsDB Group, whose work is coordinated by the Islamic Development Bank Institute (IsDB).

The winner of this year’s prize will receive the award during the IsDB Group Annual Meetings, scheduled for 27 – 30 April 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In his comments on this occasion, the President of the ISDB, H.E. Dr. Muhammad AI Jasser, congratulated the laureate for his impactful knowledge contributions and wished him success in this various endeavours. Acting Director Generl of IsDB, Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, also congratulated H.E. Dr. Al Jasser for guiding the Institute towards the successful coordination of the prize.”

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Rivers’ Crisis: Wike’s Illegal Impeachment Plot Against Fubara Distabilizes Your Administration, Timi Frank Tells TInubu, APC

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Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, on Friday, warned that the current illegal impeachment plot against the Governor of Rivers State, Sim Fubara, would have devastating effect on the President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

He therefore called on President Tinubu to call Wike to order in his bid to install another Ikwere man as Governor in Rivers State through the back door.

Frank made these assertions in a statement made available to reporters in Abuja. He underscored the critical and strategic importance of Rivers State to the economic, social and political survival of the country.

According to him, Fubara was freely elected by Rivers’ people during the last general election, “so any attempt to illegally remove him will lead to a very serious political crisis in the state that may not only affect the economy but setback the present administration’s revenue and development drive.”

He declared that the renewed orchestration by Wike to illegally remove Fubara, is an attempt to undermine the Ijaw people in Rivers State.

Frank said: “Since 1999, this is the first time in Rivers State when you have a Governor from the Ijaw ethnic extraction.

“Every other person who has become governor since 1999 had successfully done two tenures of eight years.
So, Wike must allow Fubara to do his own term
peacefully.

“Even though it is common knowledge that he was one of those that were instrumental and backed Fubara to become governor, that does not mean Fubara will now become his stooge and neglect to carry out his constitutional duties as the governor of Rivers State.”

Frank, who represents the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in East Africa and the Middle East, added: “Fubara was not elected for the sole purpose of protecting the interests of a godfather or a dictator.

“I dare say that the same way Wike feels that he supported Fubara to become governor is the same way he was supported by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, to become governor of Rivers State which he ruled for eight years.

“So, God will always use people to support anybody to become governor or whatever position they aspire to, but that does not mean those who emerged will now become slaves to those that helped them to power.

“During Wike’s time, he was not a slave to Jonathan nor his wife, Patience that helped him to become governor but rather he displayed ingratitude to Jonathan and his wife.

“Therefore, we are using this opportunity to call on Tinubu to call on his Minister Wike to stop his illegal and devilish plot against Fubara.”

He noted that even the Rivers State House of Assembly members now being engineered by Wike to impeach Fubara are not known to law in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by reason of their defection from PDP to APC.

“The only constitutionally recognized members are the few ones that did not defect to APC. These are the only members vested with the rights to carry out legislative activities in Rivers State.

“Therefore, Tinubu must make sure that there is peace, law and order in Rivers State to allow Fubara to work and deliver on his campaign promises to the people.

“The President must not allow this illegal impeachment being masterminded by Wike against Fubara to trigger the wrath of Ijaw people against his administration.

“Already the Ijaw people are unhappy with his administration because they believe he has handed over the entire Niger Delta region to Wike to dictate and decree according to his whims and caprices.”

According to him, the perception is not not good for Tinubu’s administration “because Wike does not have the capacity to control or influence any Ijaw man or the people of Niger Delta.”

“Let the President advise and restrain Wike to stay out of Rivers’ political activities otherwise what is about to befall his government will come from Rivers state because what is happening is clear tribalism as Wike want to install another Ikwere man as governor through the back door,” he said

Besides, he said that the Niger Delta people will do everything to stand by Fubara and the people of Rivers state.

He called on the President to heed the call of Ijaw people who called on him to end Wike’s present desperation and madness in Rivers State, like Chief E.K. Clark, Alhaji Asari Dokubo and others who are insisting that Wike’s shenanigans and impunity must stop.

He added: “If this crisis is allowed to degenerate into an ethnic war in Rivers State, it would affect both the state and the entire country negatively.”

Between Fubara and Wike,
If there is anybody that Tinubu’s government should hold to account, it is Wike following revelation that he was declaring N12billion monthly as Internally Generated Revenue during his tenure, which has now risen sharply by over N25 billion IGR monthly under Fubara’s administration.

“So if there is anybody that should have been questioned and facing trial it is somebody’s like Wike.”

He warned Wike attempt to use Federal Might to gain political mileage in Rivers State will not work because Ijaw people are not known to be afraid and they will surely fight to safeguard their political interests.

Comrade Timi Frank is the ULMWP Ambassador to East Africa and Middle East

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