Yar’Adua: Please Stop This Nonsense

In a week that the international market soared at a hint of recovery but the naira hit its lowest value in history and the world’s attention is focused on the gathering of the finance ministers of the G20 to grapple with the economic crisis, you would expect that the attention of the Nigerian government and its media would be focused on the strategies to protect our interests from whatever decision comes out of the G20 meeting.

Isn’t it sad that a nation that claims to represent 25% of the black race is not represented at a meeting of the 20 most important countries of the world? It would then drive you mad to learn that those most likely to be marginalised by events at the meeting goes about unconcerned and are rather engaged in childish distractions; stupid things that are as irrelevant to today’s troubles as they are nauseating.

On this all important weekend, what dominated the Nigeria news agenda?

Punch Newspapers, Sunday, 15 Mar 2009: Electoral Reform: Committee member accuses “hawks” in presidency of manipulation. It went on about a member of the Justice Mohammed Uwais (rtd.)- led Electoral reforms committee, Mr Festus Okoye has alleged the manipulation of the committee‘s report by elements he described as hawks in the presidency.

Our Champion: Inside Electoral reform: Yar’Adua is insincere — Umeh, Tofa, others. The National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh, has joined prominent Nigerians in condemning the recommendations of the Aondoakaa-led Electoral Reforms Review Committee that kept the appointment of Independent National Electoral Commission chairman with the Presidency.

The VanguardAhead of Ex-VP’s return to PDP: Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who is on his way back to the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, launched into a marathon meeting with several of his friends in the party in Benin City, on Friday night, ahead of the planned return to the PDP.

The one that claims to be our Guardian:   As Federal Character Collapses, Scramble for Replacement of Soludo, Okiro, Pepple, Arab heats up.  As a result of imminent top vacancies in the increasingly complicated federal bureaucracy, power brokers are beginning to analyse the likely colour of politics that will shape the filling of three top and sensitive vacancies that will emerge shortly ahead of vacancies in the office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, the Inspector-General of Police, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Clerk of the National Assembly, among others.

The Guardian Editorial: What to do with Iwu – the Senate in plenary rejected a motion to censure its Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which had passed a bizarre vote of confidence on INEC Chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu. President Yar’Adua like all other discerning Nigerians knows that his promised electoral reform would be meaningless with Iwu and the present INEC still in place. No one would be persuaded by assurances that Iwu’s INEC has been reformed. If anything, Iwu’s recent provocative utterances show that he cannot be entrusted with the conduct of free and fair elections.

On Thisday of all days, its leading pundit, Simon Kolawole, proclaimed: Professor Maurice Iwu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is an incurable disease. He should be booted out of that seat now. He has not only demonstrated spectacular incompetence, he has been an embarrassment to this country with his pronouncements and actions in an age when other countries are making progress. Anyway, he does not expect Yar’Adua to move for the sack of Iwu. Most politicians in power love Iwu. He did them a lot of favours in 2007. Some “distinguished” Senators, who care nothing about the Nigeria they want their children to inherit, have rushed to endorse Iwu. Some governors are endorsing him one after the other. Now, pro-Iwu groups are springing up all over the country.

My people, you see; while other nations are assiduously articulating and implementing strategies to combat the global economic crisis, Nigerians are being taken through the usual ritual of distraction by the elite who elevates their personal feuds to the status of national controversies and ultimately sucking the unwary populace into their agenda with the consequence that more important issues of the day are side-tracked.

The blame for this sad state lies squarely at the feet of President Umaru Yar’Adua. At the inception of this administration, Yar’Adua captured the nation’s mood when he expressly proclaimed that the election that brought him to office was fatally flawed and he immediately promised to reform the electoral process.

Had selfish political calculation not got the better part of him, Yar’Adua would have sacked Maurice Iwu long ago, to make way for his much touted electoral reform and so much ink would not have been wasted this weekend on Iwu’s flatulence.

Had Umaru Yar’Adua not been a weak president, his underlings would not have been manipulating and strategising to exploit the political vacuum, to fill positions that should have been decided on merit rather than regional affiliations.

Had Yar’Adua been a tough minded focused individual, the Turks would have not taken over his administration to rubbish a white paper produced by a panel set up by Yar’Adua, on a recommendation by an Electoral Reform Panel that Yar’Adua himself set up.

Had Yar’Adua ran a focused administration, he would be setting a worthwhile agenda that would capture the mood of the moment.

And to finally cap this week of a “rhapsody of the absurd” ThisDay had this piece:

“Charity begins at home,” In Nigeria, situations are hardly normal. Little wonder, then, that President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is planning to do his first prosecution of high profile corruption cases abroad. The Yar’Adua government has, reportedly, initiated a process, coordinated by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa, to sue foreign companies involved in bribery in the country. It is believed to be an image-cleansing venture coated with anti-corruption drive and revenue hunt.

A tsunami of scandals has hit the contract business in Nigeria in recent years. Courts in the United States and Germany have indicted Halliburton and telecommunications giant, Siemens, for bribing Nigerian officials.

A German court indicted Siemens for large-scale bribery to win multi-billion dollar contracts in Nigeria and about 15 other countries. The German court listed Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (rtd.), Dr. Bello Haliru Mohamed, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, and the late Alhaji Haruna Elewi, as well as Senator Jibril Aminu among the alleged bribe recipients.

Amid public outcry, the Yar’Adua government blacklisted Siemens. But the government, it is alleged, has since reversed itself quietly by removing Siemens from the blacklist and re-listing the firm among the country’s contractors.

Anglo-Dutch giant, Shell, was also implicated in the bribery scandal. Officials of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and A former General Manager of Wilbross International, Mr. Jason Edward Steph, is currently facing prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Act in the United States for distributing US$6 million to senior officials of the federal government, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), and SPDC.

In all the cases, the Nigerian officials named in the scams were never prosecuted despite assurances that the matters had been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Our government want to engage in legal battles against foreign firms when it failed to prosecute its own citizens implicated in the cases. How can we proceed with the prosecution of the foreigners while turning a blind eye to the malfeasance of our Nigerian officials?

Mad! Mad!! Mad!!!

Daniel Elombah be contacted on