Connect with us

Headline

Good Night Great Banker, Herbert Wigwe, Family and Friend

Published

on

By Eric Elezuo

The death on Friday, February 9, 2024, of the Group Chief Executive Officer, Access Holdings Plc, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, has brought much more than tears to the eyes of a crowd of Nigerians. The reason is obvious; Wigwe is among a few Nigerians, who have used their wealth to affect the lives of the ordinary citizens as well as celebrities and high profile people.

It is more saddening that he died on the day the Access sponsored Lagos Marathon was underway in the city of Lagos.

Wigwe, in company of his son, Chizi, his wife, Doreen and Abimbola Ogunbanjo, a former chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group, died after the helicopter they were traveling in,  crashed between California and Nevada, in the United States of America. It was revealed that the fun loving family was traveling to Las Vegas to watch the Super Bowl billed for Sunday evening.

While the world ruminated over the plausibility or otherwise of the news of Wigwe’s death, his company, Access Holdings Plc, put all doubts to rest, confirming the death in the Eurocopter EC130 helicopter around 10pm on Friday in California; 7am on Saturday in Nigeria, near the Nevada border.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Access Holdings said Wigwe “brought his remarkable passion, energy, and experience” to transform the company.

“Dr. Wigwe died alongside his wife and son on Friday, February 9, 2024 in a helicopter accident in the United States of America,” Access Holdings said.

“The entire Access Family mourns the loss of Herbert, Doreen and Chizi. We extend our deep and sincere sympathies to his family and loved ones. Dr. Wigwe was a key driving force and a larger-than-life personality who brought his remarkable passion, energy, and experience to the transformation of the Access franchise since joining the Bank in 2002.”

Abubakar Jimoh, chairman of Access Holdings, like majority of Nigerians, said Wigwe’s death was a major loss, adding that the Access family owed him a debt of gratitude.

“The Access Family has suffered a major loss with the passing of Dr. Wigwe who was a great friend and fine gentleman,” Jimoh said.

“He had a prodigious intellect, admirable personal qualities, and vast business experience which he brought to bear on the Access Family and for which we owe him a debt of gratitude.”

The statement was issued hours after Access Bank, a subsidiary of Access Holdings, said it lacked detailed information concerning the helicopter crash.

Access Bank had said it was actively collaborating with the US authorities for updates on the situation.

Meanwhile, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has said preliminary investigation into the crash pointed to rainy and wintry weather as possible causes.

The ill-fated Flight N130CZ, operated by Orbic Air LLC, took off from Palm Springs, California, at 8:45 p.m. but was last seen near Fort Irwin/Barstow, California, at 9:49 p.m., Friday before it was reported crashed at 10:12pm.

Wigwe, only a few weeks ago, supervised the burial of the Access Bank Group Head, Media and Corporate Affairs, Abdul Imoyo, who died in December.

 

THE MAN, HERBERT WIGWE 

Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe, who was born on August 15, 1966, in Lagos, hailed from Omueke Isiokpo in Ikwerre LGA of Rivers State, Nigeria.

Wigwe earned a Bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1987.

In 1990, he received the British Council Scholarship to study at the University College of North Wales (now Bangor), earning a Master of Arts in Banking and Finance in 1991. He later earned a MSc in Financial Economics from the University of London in 1996. He was an alumnus of the Harvard Business School Executive Management Programme, and in 2018, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Wigwe originally started his career at Coopers & Lybrand, from where he later joined Guaranty Trust Bank, where he committed over a decade of his working life.

In 2002, Wigwe and his business partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, bought Access Bank, marking the beginning of a transformative journey in the Nigerian banking sector. Between 2002 and 2017, the bank grew to become the 4th largest bank in Nigeria.

 

Between 2002 and 2014, he served as the company’s Deputy Managing director. Wigwe also served as the chairman of Access Bank Ghana Limited starting in 2013, Access Investment & Securities Limited, and Central Securities and Clearing System.

At the time of his death he was the chairman of Access Bank (UK) Limited. He was a board member of Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company and a member of the advisory Board for Friends Africa.

He was also a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, a fellow of The Institute of Credit Administration, and an honorary member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

From January 2014 until his death, he was CEO and group managing director of Access Bank.

Wigwe was involved in the creation of a leadership series known as the Access Conference. The biennial event is Access Bank’s response to a global call for corporate involvement in resolving the major challenges facing humanity. Since its inauguration in 2013, the Access Conference has consistently engaged global leaders by provoking debates on issues of threats and opportunities to the world. In the 2013 edition, themed “Sustainable Leadership”, Wigwe spoke alongside George W. Bush, Nicolas Sarkozy and John Kufuor, reaffirming the importance of leadership to national and corporate successes.

At the 2015 edition, Wigwe hosted global leaders such as Steve Wozniak, N. R. Narayana Murthy, José María Figueres, Muhammad Yunus[12][13] to discuss the theme “Leading in a Transformational World – The Imperative of Innovation”.

Wigwe philanthropic gesuures arw larger than life. He had partnered with Access Bank and UNICEF to offer support to vulnerable children, orphans, and internally displaced persons in the northern part of Nigeria. To raise awareness for this purpose, the bank organizes the annual high-profile Access Bank/UNICEF Charity Shield Polo tournament.

In 2016, Wigwe founded The HOW Foundation, a non-profit organization.

In February 2017, he was named co-chair of Nigerian Business Coalition against AIDS, a private sector initiative to help eradicate HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and support people living with the condition.

A few months before his death, he announced that Wigwe University would open in fall 2024.

Wigwe was named 2016 Banker of The Year by The Sun and Vanguard, two of Nigeria’s largest newspapers.

In recognition of “his exemplary role in the society and contributions to youth development”, the Boys’ Brigade inaugurated Herbert Wigwe as State Patron for Lagos State Council in 2016.

In October 2022, Commander of the Order of the Niger, a Nigerian national honour, was conferred on him by President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

Wigwe was not only a prominent figure in the financial industry but also a philanthropist with a deep commitment to community development. He founded Wigwe University, a world-class institution aimed at providing top-notch education and facilities to students. During an interactive session with community stakeholders at the University hall in Isiokpo, he pledged to build a world-standard hospital and ensure 24-hour electricity in Isiokpo Ancient Kingdom, showcasing his dedication to uplifting the lives of residents.

The promise of a hospital and continuous electricity not only demonstrated Wigwe’s commitment to the community, but also underscored his vision for sustainable development. This initiative would not only benefit the students and staff of Wigwe University, but also improve the quality of life for all residents of Isiokpo Ancient Kingdom.

The community stakeholders expressed their appreciation for Wigwe’s unwavering commitment to their welfare and pledged their support for the success of Wigwe University.

Wigwe’s sudden departure leaves a void in the banking industry and the community he served tirelessly. His legacy of excellence, compassion, and dedication to community development will forever be remembered.

NIGERIANS REACT TO WIGWE’S DEATH

Nigerians on social media have continued to mourn following news of the sudden death of the group chief executive officer of Access Holdings Plc, Herbert Wigwe.

The prolific banker, whi supervises one of Nigeria’s top five banking institutions has been described as one of the country’s finest deal makers.

An X user, Seun, said “Appears it’s true. Herbert Wigwe was one of the biggest and finest deal makers in Nigerian financial services sector. May his soul RIP. 💔” he tweeted @Oluseun_akin1

Other respondents on the app described Wigwe’s death as a big loss to the nation and its financial sector.

He was just giving a farewell speech to Uncle Abdul Imoyo few weeks ago. Whaoooo… Life is truly fickle. He is one of Nigerias finest. May his soul be accepted by his creator. Rest on Herbert Wigwe,” another user, identified as Abby Curtis (@CurtisAbbi) said.

Tolulope Micheal, while bidding the late banker farewell, described his death as shocking and hard to believe.

“The news of the death of CEO of Access Holdings, Herbert Wigwe is shocking and horrible!!

May his soul and the soul of other victims involved in the helicopter crash, rest in peace.

It’s sad. I’m still hoping for someone to come out and debunk this,” he tweeted @im_tolumicheal.

Another X user, identified as AareMusbau (@musbauceo), who shared a short clip of Herbert Wigwe speaking to his community people about his university project, tweeted: “This video of Dr. Herbert Wigwe assuring his community people of providing them with the best university in Africa keeps flashing on my mind.

“Indeed, life is too short, and the next seconds is not guaranteed. Rest on.”

Lawrence Okoro (Sir Law), who tweeted @LawrenceOkoroPG, said losing both Wigwe and Ogunbanjo to a helicopter crash was a very sad incident.

“It’s a very sad day for Nigeria as two business icons are confirmed dead in a helicopter crash in the United States. Rest in Peace, Herbert Wigwe & Abimbola Ogunbanjo.”

Dr Dipo Awojide, while reacting to the passing of Wigwe, described him as one of true champions of human capital in Nigeria and African continent.

“Herbert Wigwe was one of the true champions of Human Capital in Nigeria and Africa. He wrote some much about skills, education and recently started a university. God please console his family and friends. This is tragic and heartbreaking 💔. God please have mercy!!! 😭😭😭”

TOP CITIZENS MOURN WIGWE 

Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, leads the crowd of mourners at the demise of Access Holdings boss. Tinubu, through a statement by his media aide, Ajuri Ngelale, described Wigwe and Ogunbajo as exceptional Nigerian business leaders adding that their passing is “an overwhelming tragedy that is shocking beyond comprehension.”

He condoled with the Wigwe and Ogunbanjo families, the business community, and all those impacted by this harrowing incident.

“I pray for the peaceful repose of the departed and asks God Almighty to comfort the multitude of Nigerians who are grieving and the families of the deceased at this deeply agonizing moment,” Tinubu said in the condolence message.

In their condolence messages, Senate President, Godswill Akpabio; Peter Mbah, governor of Enugu; and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, paid high tribute to Herbert Wigwe.

HE’S A MAN OF INTEGRITY – Akpabio

Akpabio, in a statement on Sunday by Eseme Eyiboh, his media aide, described Wigwe as “a man of integrity”.

“I received with shock the news of the passing of Mr Wigwe and some of his family members in a helicopter crash in the USA. Mr Wigwe’s contribution to the growth of Nigerian banking industry and indeed the economy of the country were exemplary and commendable,” Akpabio said.

“In his chosen career he exhibited a high level of professionalism and unmatched leadership which marked him out as a true patriot. He was a man of integrity who never believed in cutting corners to achieve success in business.

“On behalf of the the 10th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I offer our condolences to the Wigwe family, the Board and Management of Access Bank, the Governor of Rivers State, the President and Commander-.in-chief of the Armed Forces of Federal Republic of Nigeria for losing such a great son, iconic entrepreneur a serial investor at such a time that our country needs his services the most.”

HE WAS A BROTHER, TEAM PLAYER, PHILANTHROPIST – Gov Mbah

On his part, Mbah said he received the news with “deep shock”.

The Enugu governor described Wigwe as “a brother, team player, philanthropist and throughbred professional”.

“This news comes with deep shock and rubs in, once again, the vanity of life,” Mbah said.

“Wigwe was a brother, a team player, philanthropist, visionary, and thoroughbred professional, who distinguished himself in the banking industry and corporate world, rising through the ranks to become a pioneer and titan of our time as well as an entrepreneur of global repute and reach.

“This incident is, therefore, an unspeakable disaster and monumental tragedy, not only to Nigeria, but also to the entire corporate world.

“My heart goes out to his immediate family, relatives, the Access Holdings Plc family, corporate Nigeria, and indeed the nation over these grave losses. May God grant their souls eternal repose.”

A ROLE MODEL TO ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS – Gov Abiodun 

Dapo Abiodun, in a statement by Lekan Adeniran, his chief press secretary, said he is deeply saddened by the incident.

He said Wigwe was a quintessential banker who contributed immensely to the Nigerian economy, adding that he was a pillar of support to his administration in Ogun.

“I am deeply saddened by the news of the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Herbert Wigwe and five others. My thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time,” Abiodun said.

“Herbert Wigwe was not only a respected business leader but also a role model for many aspiring entrepreneurs. His contributions to the banking sector and the Nigerian economy will always be remembered.”

WIGWE’S DEATH IS A MONUMENTAL LOSS – Rivers Gov Fubara 

Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, expressed shock at the news of the death of Dr. Herbert Wigwe, his wife Chizoba, his son, and others in a helicopter crash in California near the Nevada border, United States.

Wigwe hailed from Rivers State.

The governor described the incident as a “monumental disaster.”

He said Rivers State and Nigeria were in tears over the development.

A statement on Sunday signed by the governor’s media aide, Boniface Onyedi, quoted the governor as saying that there were no words to convey how terrible the losses are, and the state and indeed Nigeria will miss “an unassuming, iconic, and accomplished illustrious son of Isiokpo in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.

“Rivers State and the nation are in tears because it would be extremely difficult to understand this sweeping loss of a family involving a strong pillar, accomplished banker and philanthropist with tentacles in the education sector.”

Fubara said the Wigwe University, which the deceased pioneered, must not be allowed to die.

I’M TERRIBLY SADDENED – Okonjo-Iweala

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said in a message posted Saturday on her X handle that she feels deeply saddened by Mr Wigwe’s passing.

“Terribly saddened by the news of the terrible loss of Herbert Wigwe, Group CEO Access Bank, his wife and son as well as Bimbo Ogunbanjo in a helicopter crash.

“My deepest sympathies and condolences to the Wigwe family, the Ogunbanjo family, Access Bank Group employees and Management @myaccessbank and my younger Brother Herbert’s partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace,” she wrote.

HE WAS A CONSUMMATE BANKER, EDUCATION PROMOTER, AND PHILANTHROPIST – Atiku Abubakar 

The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election and former vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, described the death of Mr Wigwe as an unfortunate incident.

He also expressed condolences and sympathy to the families and loved ones of the deceased.

“In the words of one of Nigeria’s finest CEOs, Herbert Wigwe, ‘Today and always, let us remember that life is a precious gift – a chance to breathe, feel, love, experience and connect. Let’s honour this gift by living with purpose, kindness, and gratitude, making every moment count. Let us number our days’.

“I’m deeply saddened to hear about the unfortunate incident that led to the loss of Herbert Wigwe, Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, and his family. Indeed, Herbert Wigwe, consummate banker, education promoter, and philanthropist, numbered his days. On behalf of my family, my heart goes out to their loved ones and everyone affected by this unfortunate incident. May their souls rest in peace.”

THIS IS A TRAGIC LOSS – Keyamo

Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, also paid his tribute while describing Mr Wigwe’s passing as a tragic loss of a friend.

“The reported tragic loss of my friend, brother and not-far-away neighbour in Lagos, Herbert Wigwe, the co-founder of Access Bank, the CEO of Access Holdings and the founder of Wigwe University, is very devastating.

“He was in my office earlier this week (where we took the pictures below) and actually left my office to fly out of the country and never came back. I am also shocked to learn his wife, son and other friends were involved in this tragedy.

“We were on the verge of announcing something big for the aviation sector, the reason he actually came to the office with his entire team, both from Access and Wigwe University. This is surreal and I am lost for words.

“May Almighty God comfort his aged parents and siblings (who were also my neighbours in Lagos for many years as a very young lawyer in Anthony Village), his immediate family members, his staff, friends across Nigeria and dependents,” he said.

I’M SPEECHLESS – Gov Soludo

Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo said Wigwe lived a life of impact and purpose, and also expressed his sad feelings on the suddenness of his demise, which he said, had denied humanity the much more the deceased had to offer.

“To think that we were together about two weeks ago with a promise to meet again this week makes the announcement of Herbert’s death tragic.

“This is another stark reminder of the ephemerality of life. While Herbert lived a life of impact and purpose, I am pained that there was much more he had for humanity that his sudden exit has denied us.

“I am just speechless!” Governor Soludo wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday.

ONE OF AFRICA’S BRIGHTEST MINDS’ GONE – Sanwo-Olu 

In his condolence statement on Sunday via X, Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, described Wigwe as “one of the brightest minds in Africa” and a “visionary leader” who made unparalleled contributions to banking and the financial sector.

“Herbert was not just a brother and visionary leader but one of the brightest minds in Africa. His impact on our nation and beyond will be remembered forever. My heart mourns,” the governor said.

According to Sanwo-Olu, Wigwe was an “unapologetic believer in the Nigerian solution” whose dedication and passion for progress inspired many.

“Today, we mourn not just a leader but a true friend and brother. Lagos and Nigeria have lost a remarkable soul. Rest in peace, my brother,” he added

Other notable Nigerians that sent in their condolences include Kwara governor, Abdulrazaq Abdulfatta, former Ekiti governor, Kayode Fayemi, Senator Shehu Sani, and a host of others.

There is no doubt that Wigwe will be missed. His turnaround of Access Bank remains a phenomenon, his bias for education, and quest to empower women arw debatable standards. It is no secret that Access Bank is the bank of choice for the female folks. This is not forgetting the ambitious Wigwe University, with state of the art facilities, billed to take off in September 2024.

We at The Boss wish enigmatic banker a glorious journey to eternity.

May your soul rest in peace sir!

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Headline

Who’s Blaming Who? The Sad Tales of APC

Published

on

By

By Eric Elezuo

The Nigerian nation is today polarized across three divides; those that believe that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government, under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu, has failed woefully, just nine months after assuming power; those that believe that he can still turn the table around and spring a positive surprise, and those who are standing aloof, unconcerned of whether the administration succeed or not.

One thing is however, certain, and that is the fact that all believe that the country has dived into an abyss of exigency of which recovery may have become a mirage.

Across the country, and in hidden corners, cries of agony, sorrow, hunger and death continue to reverberate. The masses, going by utterances, actions and protests, seem to have had it where it hurts most. But even as the hunger bites harder in the land, with the prices of food items hitting the roof, the naira crashing miserably against other currencies of the world and people dropping dead from insecurity, the government of Bola Tinubu, has yet to cease blaming the government of the immediate past administration, his predecessor and fellow party man, Muhammadu Buhari.

Just like Buhari spent eight years to blame the 16 years of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rule, with special emphasis to the former President Goodluck Jonathan era, the Tinubu administration has not ceased to blame the immediate past Buhari administration for its inability to hit the ground running, leading to the hardship that has engulfed the length and breadth of the country since May 29, 2023 when he was inaugurated as president.

It would be recalled that stakeholders, analysts and followers of the eight years of Buhari administration, an era referred to as ‘regime’ by The Punch Newspaper, have unanimously agreed that the period qualifies as the darkest age of Nigeria’s administration. Many has said that the ‘regime’ borrowed much more than all the administrations that have ever existed in Nigeria combined.

“Buhari, in a nutshell plunged the country into a quagmire of incomparable mess,” various political analysts have said at various fora.

As the blame continues, Nigerians have recalled that the present administration of Bola Tinubu had vowed to continue where the Buhari era ended, given the impression that the APC as a party has an agenda that is not pro-welfare, especially with the flippant way with the petroleum subsidy was removed, and naira floated.

Tinubu, while addressing participants at the third Ministerial Performance Review Retreat currently at the State House, as the presidential candidate of the APC, said that if elected, he will show due honour to the efforts and legacies of Buhari, and work in the spirit of unity, national purpose that informed the creation of the party.

Tinubu had said his government will be devoted to continuity, particularly of projects that will bring prosperity to the citizens, while his guiding principle will be hinged on providing the best of progressive governance and reform the nation. But all that seems to be promises made under duress.

“Tinubu completely exhibited the prowess of a warlord, who is unaware of the challenges ahead of his troop, inexperienced and lacking in ability to launch or organise. Otherwise, he would have been more mature when he made his inauguration speech; a speech that destabilized the whole country from his day one in office,” a source told The Boss.

Wver since the advent of the administration of Tinubu therefore, the blames have continued to be traded between the immediate past and the present with each throwing tantrums at the other in as a much as both sides of the divide are members of the APC party. While the Tinubu camp has alleged that Buhari and his men wrecked Nigeria to near irredeemable, the Buhari camp has maintained innocence, accusing the present of inability to perform.

“We are talking about the same party. The same people that inordinately supervised and is supervising both the past and present administrations,” a legal officer, who wished anonymity mocked.

Recall that earlier in the life of the administration, a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who is now the National Security Adviser (NSA) admitted that Tinubu inherited a bad economy from President Buhari administration that he is working hard to fix, underscoring Buhari’s boast in his final broadcast to the nation, that “I am confident that I am leaving office with Nigeria better in 2023 than in 2015.”

But Ribadu, while addressing a meeting of the Presidential Steering Committee on Palliatives at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in August 2022, admitted that “We inherited a very bad situation,” and pleaded with organised labour to give the administration little chance to fix the battered economy.

It is known that during the 2023 election, Tinubu had hailed economic progress of the Buhari administration and attacked the opposition parties for underscoring the failures of eight years of APC rules and proposals on the economy and the social welfare of the citizens.

“We inherited a very bad situation. Most of the problems people are talking about are not a creation of this government. This government is barely two months old and since we have been facing these difficulties and challenges, we have a listening and engaging President, a president who will want to have a conversation and react.

“He is truly, genuinely, honestly doing it. Our appeal is please Nigerians give us the support that is needed and required, we are working, we are trying to change things. We inherited a very bad situation, we are trying to stop all those things we witnessed in the past, we are trying to stop the killings, stop the attacks on trains, stop attacks on prisons, stop IPOB what they are doing, stop bandits, stop Boko Haram,” he said.

However, seven months after Ribadu showered attacks of blame on Buhari, the country continue to sink deep into the quagmire of want, lack and hardship.

The body language of the Tinubu administration has directed every attack of ineptitude and incompetence at the Buhari regime. But what has remained a poser is the fact that majority of the officers, who supposedly ‘wrecked’ the economy of the country during the Buhari years, are also officers in the Tinubu administration. Some of them are the former leaders of the 9th National Assembly; the duo of the former Senate President, who is still a serving Senator, Ahmed Lawan, and the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is now the Chief of Staff to President Tinubu, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila.

“There has been a recycle of incompetence, and this is a situation where new incompetence is blaming its old self of incompetence. It’s like someone looking himself in the mirror, and telling the one in the mirror that he is a failure. It’s a case of APC talking to itself. Telling itself how it has wrecked the life of Nigerians in as many years,” a political analysts said.

Recently at a Senate seating, the members resolved to probe the N30trn Ways and Means spent by Buhari-led Federal Government which according to it, was recklessly spent.

It further stated that reckless spending of the overdraft collected from the Central Bank of Nigeria under Godwin Emefiele largely accounted for food and security crises currently facing the country.

The Red Chamber then resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee, to carry out an investigation on what the N30trn Ways and Means were spent on by the immediate past government since details of such spending were not made available to the National Assembly.

The ad-hoc committee will also probe the N10tn expended on the Anchor Borrowers Scheme, the $2.4bn forex transaction out of $7bn obligation made for that purpose as well as other intervention programmes.

Senate’s resolutions on planned investigations followed consideration of report of its joint Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Finance, National Planning, Agriculture and Appropriation on State of the Economy after interactive sessions with the Federal Government’s economic management team .

The plenary later became stormy with accusations, counter accusations and barefaced blames by senators on why and how the N22.7tn Ways and Means was passed by the 9th Senate in May 2023 and additional N7.2tn passed on December 30, 2023 by the 10th Senate.

The 9th and 10th Senate were proved to be wasteful and therefore, contributed in the wrecking of the nation’s economy, which culminated in the present economic umpasse, trickling down to the regular man in the street.

In his blame argument, the Senate Whip, Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno South), attacked the Senate for approving the request without details from Buhari. He was however, reminded that he was part of the system then and now.

Note that Ndume was vocal in defending the allocation of N160 million to senators for a car in the midst of economic hardship. The money was even spent on camry cats, not Nigerian made cars.

Ndume said, “When the N22.7trillion Ways and Means approval request was brought before the 9th Senate, I insisted that details of spendings made with it , should be provided before approval but the Senate then went ahead and approve it.”

It was every man for himself while the APC members traded blames.

In his defence, the former Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who supervised the process, claimed that the Ways and Means was in the past and urged the Senate to focus on the present.

“All of those is in the past, we must focus on the present which is the fact that people are hungry and they are crying. That’s what we should focus on.”

The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, in his remarks said, as recommended by the committee , and supported by most of the Senators,  thorough probe must be carried out on the N22.7tn Ways and Means approved in May 2023 by the 9th Senate which later increased to N30tn , with passage of the N7.2trillion accrued interest forwarded for passage in the December last year .

Akpabio said, “The food and security crises confronting the nation now are traceable to the way and manner the said Ways and Means was given, collected and spent .

“Details of such spendings must be submitted for required scrutiny and possible remedies because what Nigerians want now is food on their table which must be given.”

Lawan was noted to approve every proposal brought before it by the executive, often boasting that he was not sorry to approve every of Buhari’s request.

Most of the APC stalwarts, who served in the Buhari administration are facing one form of persecution or another. Some of them are a former Accountant General, Ahmed Idris; a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, former Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Godwin Emefiele, and a former Minister of Aviation, Hadid Sirika. These men are said to have been involved in huge financial crises.

The former Accountant General is said to have stolen a whopping N109 billion, and was arraigned on a 13-count charge bordering on alleged misappropriation.

In one of the charges, the EFCC said between February and December 2021, Mr Idris accepted from Mr Akindele, a gratification of N15.1 billion, which sum was as a motive for accelerating the payment of 13 per cent derivation to the nine oil-producing states in the Federation, through the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

Also, it alleged that N84.3 billion from the Federal Government’s account was cornered by Mr Idris and the second defendant (Mr Akindele) between February and November 2021.

According to the charges, the alleged offences violate sections 155 and 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.

Idris, according to the EFCC admitted to all the charges, and agreed to a plea bargain. He however, claimed he was deceived to admittance by the EFCC.

On his part, the former Aviation Minister, sold the nation a bogus national carrier, and ‘pocketed’ N85.42 billion for eight years while working on Nigeria Air that never was.

Data by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Compilation of Budgetary Allocations show that the Federal Government spent N85.42billion on transaction advisers, working capital and consultancy bills for Nigeria Air between 2016 and 2023.

Despite the huge amount spent on the national carrier, the airline has not only failed to secure Air Operating Certificate, an approval granted by a Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to an aircraft operator to allow it use aircraft for commercial flight operations, but has also not secured a single aircraft for its operations.

As Buhari’s administration was close to winding up, stakeholders reminded Sirika of the monies spent on the national carrier and his promise to deliver the project before the administration was over.

Findings show that the former minister of Aviation had contacted Ethiopian Airlines few days before the handover, to provide an aircraft that would be presented to Nigerians as an aircraft belonging to Nigeria Air.

Ethiopian Airline had obliged by repainting and rebranding one of its Boeing 737-860 Max aircraft.

Investigations show that the Boeing 737-800 aircraft has registration Number ET-APL, Mode S Q4005C and serial number: 40965/4075.

The entire process was orchestrated by Sirika to hoodwink Nigerians.

The list of blame games is endless, making Nigerians to wonder if the same men that wrecked the country can repair it, and how long before the regular citizens have a lease a fresh air one more time.

But as it is today, the future awaits a miracle to normalize as it appears bleak.

Continue Reading

Headline

Peter Obi Faults INEC’s Report on 2023 Election, Says It’s ‘Medicine After Death’

Published

on

By

Presidential Candidate of Labour Party in the 2023 elections, Peter Obi, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of deceiving Nigerians with report of the poll released earlier on Friday.

In the 526-page report of the 2023 elections, formally released ahead of the first anniversary of the election, INEC explained why the IREV failed to upload the presidential results despite the seamless working of the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS).

The commission attributed the challenge to technical glitches, which was, however resolved and that this did not in any way affect the credibility of the elections.

Obi, who spoke to Daily Trust through Dr Yunusa Tanko, the Chief Spokesperson, Obi-Datti Campaign Committee, described the report as medicine after death.

“I think the INEC report is medicine after death. The truth about it is that if I didn’t mean that INEC actually deal with this issue as it happened during the election, possibly Nigerians will have believed and trusted this particular report.”

“But here we are, the report of the INEC which signifies that the IREV refused to function or been uploaded during the election is false. Considering the fact that there were three elections that happened on that day, the Federal House of Representatives, the Senate, and the result was uploaded and there was no issue.

“Why must there be issue as regard to the presidential election? So totally for us is deceit, disdain for the people and is trying to promote an indecency,” he said.

He lamented that unfortunately everyone knew when INEC gave a written document, citing that they would not agree with any result that is not posted on the IREV.

“It is documented and everybody saw it. But then this is the same INEC who went again to the Supreme Court citing that they had an authority to collate the result manually and it was stamped on authority on illegality by our judiciary.

“And you want to convince me that that particular issue of glitch was not done deliberately? The truth is that nobody was arrested. Somebody ought to have been arrested who has been saddled with that responsibility.

“And if he is saddled with the responsibility, he must be held responsible and account for why the glitches occur.

“And even if there was a glitch, it’s just like your network taking off. It shouldn’t take up to a whole day. A few seconds it is off, three seconds it is back. Why was the server not back or why is the glitch not resolved?

“So for me and many of us, this is totally unacceptable. The report is deceitful to the Nigerian people. Our electoral Act and electoral law must be revisited to give clarity as regard to the process of our election.

“We don’t want to give any lacuna to any of our election process and give room for the judiciary only to decide who wins election. Election should be done and dusted at the polling units,” he said.

Continue Reading

Headline

Akpabio Lied, No State Received N30bn from FIRS – Makinde

Published

on

By

Oyo State Governor and Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Seyi Makinde, on Thursday, declared that there was no truth in the claim by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, that states of the federation got an additional N30 billion each outside of their statutory revenue allocations, to address food insecurity in their states.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Suleiman Olarenwaju in Ibadan, the state capital, said the state has not received any N30 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service or the Federal Government, and that his administration has been and will always be open and transparent to the people of the state.

The Governor, who added that he has been doing everything to cushion the effects of the economic hardship on the people, warned that leaders should instill confidence and hope in the citizenry in this trying time rather than playing the blame game.

Makinde stated this in Iseyin where he commissioned the newly-renovated multi-billion naira Iseyin Central Mosque facilitated by a legal icon, Ahmed Raji, SAN, hailing the religious harmony in the state as being exemplary.

The Governor decried Akpabio’s reliance on unverified reports, clarifying that states couldn’t get funds from the FIRS, since all revenues go into the Federation Account and belong to the FG, states and local governments.

“The only fund that Oyo State got from the Federal Government outside of statutory allocation was N2 billion out of the N5 billion promised to all states in the wake of the removal of fuel subsidy, adding that the Federal Government had even been asking for the refund of the N2 billion,” he stated.

Makinde added that his government has been doing its best to mitigate the hardship on residents of the state, having been the first to announce and implement measures to cushion the effect of the hardship through the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery.

He said, “This is a very difficult period in our nation’s history because all of us are aware of what we are going through economically. But for us as an administration, I can say we are the first in Nigeria to announce and implement measures on the 9th of June 2023, to cushion the effect of this policy through SAFER.

“We have been doing our bit. And the reason I came here is for us to talk to ourselves and intensify prayers. So, this is one of the edifices through which we can reach God, though we have done our bit. We have health insurance for our own people, we give farm inputs to our farmers but, at this stage, we need to cry to God.

“For the workers, we have been paying a wage award; N25,000 for workers and N15,000 for pensioners, and we have paid for close to six months. Only last week, I announced an extension for another six months so that we can have the time to conclude the discussion on minimum wage. Well, we know there is much to be done and we will continue to do everything within our power to support our people through this hard time.”

Makinde cautioned that “this is not the time to play politics, as we have real issues that deserve real solutions. But yesterday, I saw the video and read in the news where the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, made a statement, though he said it was an unverified report, stating that the state governments received an additional N30 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, outside of our statutory allocation, in the last few months, to address food security.”

The Governor added, “Please, listen to me loud and clear. I can speak for Oyo State and can also speak for any of my colleagues. This is because, as the Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, I know when things are happening.

“If I want to play politics, I will keep quiet and let this slide, but I am not going to let this slide. FIRS cannot give money to any state. It is not possible. All revenues accruing to the country go into the federation account and it is distributed to all tiers of government.  The FG does not give states money. The money in the federation belongs to all of us; it does not only belong to the Federal Government.

“So, if the Senate President, who is the number three citizen in this country, could be quoting an unverified report, people are looking at us as leaders. This is the period that we are supposed to give confidence to our people. It is not the period to start playing politics or to start looking for scapegoats.”

“We need to engage with our people. If our policies are not working, we need to listen to the people and amend them. So, if the number three citizen had nothing but an unverified report, why did he need to say it? Does his statement give confidence to the people or solve the problem of hunger and anger in the land?” he queried.

“Let me say it clearly, as for Oyo State and for most of my colleagues, there is nothing like N30 billion being given to states for food security and I stand to be challenged.

“Yes, the Federal Government promised the states N5 billion and out of that, it only gave N2 billion and they are even asking that the N2 billion should be refunded right now.

“It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to manage the fiscal situation in Nigeria and manage the inflationary trend we have in the country right now.

“We have been transparent about everything we are doing here and this is the time for us to stay together as a nation to solve the problems we are facing. It is not the time to engage in blame games and propaganda. Hunger and anger are real and, as leaders, we must address them.”

Also speaking, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, appreciated Makinde for attending the event and for speaking passionately as expected of leaders, saying the state governor is on the right track.

Earlier, the facilitator of the Iseyin Central Mosque renovation project, Raji, appreciated the governor for his presence, urging citizens of the country to continue to pray for its leaders and to pray to God to lessen the burden of the people.

The Punch

Continue Reading

Trending