Thursday, November 24, 2011

DPO Sets Pace In Lagos

Nigerian cops are usually reviled. Citizens often accuse them of demanding bribes from crime suspects or victims, engaging in extra-judicial killings and colluding with criminals for financial returns. Not Monday Agbonika, the exceptional police chief at Isokoko Police Division at Agege area of Lagos, southwest Nigeria.
Residents say Agbonika, the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, of Isokoko, has turned the once notorious division into a friendly place and the Wall Street Journal, the influential American publication, described him in an article this week as an exceptional police chief who does not demand or accept bribes.
“It’s all about community policing,” he said at a public function recently. “I just try to ensure that I have a plan on the ground, study the area and find out what the concerns of the community are and I follow the plan,” he added with humility.
“A few years ago, it was a very notorious police station. There were cases of extra judicial killings. Victims were asked to pay for basic services and suspects were freed after paying a bribe. There was also money for bailing suspects out,” a resident told P.M.NEWS recently, echoing the feeling of others.
Residents have built a magnificent police station for Agbonika and his men, a striking difference from the ramshackle building they used to occupy before he came in four years ago.
To Agbonika, a native of Kogi State and a Masters ‘Degree holder in psychology, from the University of Jos, Plateau State, north central Nigeria, policing is made interesting when the needs of the community are identified and a genuine desire to satisfy them undertaken.
“I get information from the community, I work with them, they all have my phone numbers and can call me at any time of the day and we tackle problems together. All these have really helped.
“When I was a child, I hated to see people being cheated, so as a child, I took up issues of people being bullied. I see this as an opportunity to prevent people from cheating others. Then with the community policing training, I get much done.
“And by involving the community members like the vigilantes, I put policemen on the road at key areas and the robbers know that policemen are everywhere and they keep off the area. I just ensure that my men are there and more importantly I ensure that the overall plan is carried out. When we follow the plan, everything goes as planned,” he said.
The 44-year old DPO has instilled discipline in his staff and police extortions have been eliminated. There is no payment for bail and victims or suspects are not asked to pay for fuel, paper or pen. Indeed, P.M.NEWS confirmed that everything is free.
To him, “an ideal policeman should have genuine interest in serving the people. He should be a policeman that will accept the shortcomings that we have in the system such as lack of logistics. He must know that he is a servant and not a lord over the community.”
—Simon Ateba

Bloodbath in Lagos: Soldiers kill DPO, DCO 8 others

By Albert Akpor
LAGOS – BLOOD flowed freely Tuesday  in Badagry, Lagos after a group of heavily armed soldiers from the 242 Recce Battalion, Iberepo  Badagry took over strategic locations in the ancient town maiming and killing any police man on sight in an apparent reprisal of the killing Monday, of one of their colleagues.
The Divisional Police Officer, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Saliu Samson, his Divisional Crime Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DPS) Samuel who were out in the ensuing fracas to appeal for calm were shot dead.
Two police patrol vehicles belonging to the  Rapid Response Squad (RRS) were set ablaze while their occupants were chased and shot dead.  As at 2.30 pm yesterday, corpses of police officers littered the Iberepo roundabout  while the rampaging soldiers were spotted with every imaginable dangerous weapons scouting for police men.
Sources said some police men and their families who lived in the Iberepo barracks were chased out and seriously wounded.
According to sources, a soldier in mufti who was escorting goods from the Nigeria\Seme border was accosted by a police officer attached to RRS and Monday and demanded to search the vehicle.
It was learnt that the late unidentified soldier had challenged the policeman and threatened to disarmed him if he does not allow the vehicle free way;  prompting the trigger happy policeman to fire at him at close range.
The soldier reportedly slumped and died on the spot.   Vanguard was told that the news of the killing of the soldier soon filtered into the Iberepo barracks and some soldiers mobilized as early as 9,00am yesterday and started attacking any policeman on sight contrary to a non violence order given to them by the commander of the barracks,  Colonel Nabasa.
Contacted, the Force public relation officer, DCP Olusola Amore said he was yet to get details of the clash saying, “Let me talk to the CP Lagos then I will be in a better position to react to the matter.  But his counterpart in the army, Lieutenant Colonel Kayode Ogunsanya of the 81 Division said the situation had been brought under control stressing that it will be throughly investigated.  “The situation is under control and I can assure you that the cause of the clash will be thoroughly investigated,” he assured.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jonathan sacks Waziri,Lamorde takes over

Lead Image

November 23, 2011 03:46PM

The 65years old Chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Farida Waziri was on Wednesday relieved of her duty by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The sack was contained in a statement released by the Presidency stating that "the president has approved the appointment of Mr Ibrahim Lamorde as the Acting Chairman/Chief Executive of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The appointment takes immediate effect, and effectively relieves Mrs Farida Waziri of her position as EFCC Chairman."
Also confirming the change of baton in the commission, the EFCC spokesperson, Femi Babafemi in a telephone interview said that it was true, but not willing to disclose what could have led to the hurried termination of Mrs. Waziri's appointment, considering that her tenure
still remains a year.

Mr. Babafemi However told NEXT that "She is not ready to react to the development yet, until it is officially communicated to her. That is according to her. So, let's wait for the official communication of things."

Mrs. Waziri was amid controversy with the senate appointed the chairman of the anti-graft agency by late President Umaru Yar'Adua on May 18, 2008, and confirmed by the Senate on May 27, 2008.

She was born on July 7, 1946 and raised in Gboko, Benue State. She obtained her law degree from the University of Lagos and obtained a Masters degree in Law from the Lagos State University. In 1996, she gained a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies from the University of Ibadan.

Enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force in 1965 and rose to the position of Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mrs Waziri held the positions of Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations), screening and selection, Assistant/Deputy Commissioner of Police Force C.I.D Alagbon, Lagos, Commissioner of Police, General Investigation and Commissioner of Police in charge of X-Squad.

Mr. Lamorde has however as directed by the Presidency assumed duty as the Acting Chairman of the Commission. As the third Police office to head the commission, he was the Director of Operations under the leadership of both Nuhu Ribadu and Farida Waziri.

Mr. Lamorde was also removed from the commission with Mr. Ribadu in 2008, but was reportedly asked to resume back in May 2008, pending the resolution of Mrs. Waziri's appointment as at the time. The Senate had delayed Mrs. Waziri's screening based on the allegation that she had assumed office before her name was sent to the National Assembly for screening.

Mrs. Waziri's tenure at the Commission was marred with series of allegation as also reported by Next, including signing letters of pardon for people being investigated by the Agency, such as former Delta State Governor James Ibori, she was also criticized by U.S.diplomats in the Wikileaks cables for being unprepared and for being controlled by politicians.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was established in 2003 to investigate financial crimes such as advance fee fraud (419 fraud) and money laundering.


Monday, November 21, 2011

SSS Statement: Nigerian Lawmaker Ran Boko Haram



On 3rd November, 2011 about 2030 hours at Gwange area, Maiduguri, Borno State, a joint security operation led to the arrest of Ali Sanda Umar KONDUGA, acclaimed spokesman of the Boko Haram sect, widely known in the media as Usman AL-ZAWAHIRI. He was a former political thug operating under a group widely known as ECOMOG.

2.      His arrest further confirms the Service position that some of the Boko Haram extremists have political patronage and sponsorship. This is moreso as AL-ZAWAHIRI has so far made valuable confessions in this regard. Highlights of some of his admissions are:

i.       That he was recruited by a political party stalwart in Maiduguri, Borno State;
ii.      That following the compulsory registration of all SIM  cards nationwide, he was asked to steal a SIM card which he used in sending threat text messages.                                                                                                                                                                                               

 iii.     That the pseudo name, Usman AL-ZAWAHIRI was given to him by the said politician to portray him as an extremist as well as conceal his true identity;

iv.     That one of his benefactor’s promised to pay him Ten Million Naira (N10 million) to work for his party but by stint of fate, he died on his way to deliver the part payment of Five Million Naira (N5 Million) to AL-ZAWAHIRI
v.      That consequent upon this, subject claimed a serving member of the National Assembly took over the running of his activities;

vi.     That he was behind the threat text messages sent to the Judges of the Election Petition Tribunal in Maiduguri. His objective was to ensure that the Tribunal sacks the present Government in Borno State;

vii.    That he was also behind other threats messages sent to Governor Sule LAMIDO, Governor Babangida ALIYU, Amb. Dalhatu Sarki TAFIDA, Chief Olusegun OBASANJO and Justice Sabo ADAMU (Chairman of the Election Petition Tribunal in Borno State).

viii.   That most of the threat messages he sent to Justice Sabo ADAMU, were scripted and relayed to him by the National Assembly member.

ix.     That the threat text messages eventually led to the relocation of the election petition tribunal from Maiduguri to Abuja;

x.      That the same legislator promised to send him some telephone numbers of members of the GALTIMARI Committee on Security in the North East, before he (AL-ZAWAHIRI) was apprehended.

xi.     That the telephone number and content of the text message sent to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice were also given to him by the Legislator in order to compel him (AGF) to influence the judgment of the tribunal against the Government in Borno State.

3       Meanwhile, analysis of AL-ZAWAHIRI’s phone has confirmed constant communication between him and the legislator.

4.      The Service wishes to reiterate its commitment to addressing the current threats posed by the Boko Haram sect and other forms of fundamentalism in the country, including the dimensions of political patronage and sponsorship of extremist and violent groups. We call on all well-meaning Nigerians to sustain their confidence in the nation’s security establishment, as we work tirelessly to ensure a safe and peaceful Country for us all.

SSS Statement: Nigerian Lawmaker Ran Boko Haram | Sahara Reporters

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Amnesty urges shell to pay for Nigeria oil spills

Amnesty International says that the local communities of Bodo have 
been severely affected by the two oil spills [EPA]

Amnesty International has called on Shell to pay $1bn to start cleaning up two oil spills in Nigeria's Niger Delta which it says caused huge suffering to locals whose fisheries and farmland were poisoned.
A spokesman for Shell said on Thursday the company had already acknowledged the two oil spills and started cleaning up, adding that oil theft was responsible for most spills in the Delta.

The report by the human rights group to mark the 16th anniversary of the execution of environmental activist Ken Saro
Wiwa by Nigerian authorities said the two spills in 2008 in Bodo, Ogoniland, had wrecked the livelihoods of 69,000 people.
Amnesty said the community's UK lawyers suggested the spill had leaked 4,000 barrels a day for 10 weeks, which would make it bigger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

"The prolonged failure of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria to clean up the oil that was spilled, continues to have catastrophic consequences," it said.
"Those who used to rely on fishing for a living have lost their incomes and livelihoods. Farmers say their harvests are smaller than before. Overall, people in Bodo are now much less able to grow their own food or catch fish."
Devastating oil spills are common in the vast network of labyrinthine creeks, swamps and rivers of the Niger Delta.

The report urged implementation of a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report in August that was critical
of both Shell and the Nigerian government for contributing to 50 years of pollution in Ogoniland, a region in the oil-rich Delta.
It said the region needs the world's largest ever oil clean-up that would cost an initial $1bn and take 30 years.
"Bodo is a disaster"
Amnesty urged Shell to set up the $1bn clean up fund, citing Bodo as an example of a place needing urgent attention.
"Bodo is a disaster ... that, due to Shell's inaction, continues to this day. It is time this multi-billion dollar company owns up, cleans up and pays up," Aster van Kregten Amnesty International's Nigeria researcher said in a statement.

Shell stopped pumping oil from most of Ogoniland after a campaign led by Saro-Wiwa, a writer and activist, but it
continues to be the dominant player in the Niger Delta.
"SPDC has publicly acknowledged that two oil spills that affected the Bodo community in 2008 were caused by operational issues," Shell spokesman Precious Okolobo said, adding that Shell estimated the total size of the spill to be 4,000 barrels.

"The reality is that our efforts to undertake cleanup in Bodo have been hampered by the repeated impact of sabotage and bunkering spills," he added.
Oil is often spilled during sabotage attacks on facilities and bunkering -- tapping pipelines to steal crude. Okolobo said 150,000 barrels of oil are stolen each day in the Delta.

"If Amnesty really wanted to make a difference ... it would join with us in calling for more action to address this criminal activity, which is responsible for the majority of spills."
But Amnesty said even if some spills were caused by theft, "this does not justify a failure to clean up after an oil spill - all oil companies are required to do so, regardless of cause."

Amnesty urges Shell to pay for Nigeria spills - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Women should not wait for power to be given by men – Roz Ben-Okagbue

By Moses Nosike
Roz Ben-Okagbue is a lawyer, accountant and as well an activist. She is a Nigerian that wants and desires equally treatment for human race. Her educational background in law and work experience in the United Kingdom contributed her being activist.
In this interview with Woman in her prime, she explains how Human Rights activists and other organisations that speak for the less privileged are silenced by those in authority and harsh treatment women receive in politics unlike men. Excerpts:
What is your motive of being a political activist?

Roz Ben-Okagbue.
My motive is primarily to create awareness about issues of governance that hinder the progress of the country. People are generally dissatisfied without being able to identify the source of their dissatisfaction. The military rulers literally raped the country one after the other and both journalism and activism was limited as it invited rather stringent responses from the military leaders.
Journalists and Human Rights activists were silenced with arrests, torture and death. With the exception of a few brave activists, we (Nigerians) generally developed the culture of remaining silent in the face of oppression and even with the advent of democracy that culture has not really left us.
Many Nigerians would rather say nothing for fear of reprisals regardless of the level of oppression our leaders inflict on us either by stealing public funds and leaving the rest of Nigerians impoverished or taking decisions that benefit the politicians and enable them to enrich themselves at the expense of others.
But if we remain silent, they will continue to take advantage of us and nothing will change. The creation of awareness of the issues that require change is the first step to achieving the change that we seek and that is my motivation. I seek change and I want others to join me in demanding that change.
Are you being driven by passion or is it your area of calling?
I would say it is more of passion really, passion for my country Nigeria. A desire for the oppressed to receive better treatment and accountability from our leaders and for us to generally reap the dividends of democracy as promised which has so far pretty much eluded us. We have situations where ex-governors are arraigned after their tenure and accused of literally emptying the coffers into their personal pockets. But after all the hullaballoo, nothing happens to them. They are allowed to walk free with their loot and nobody holds them accountable or relieves them of their loot. Look at Alamesiegha, Igbinedion, Orji Kalu and several others. After all the fan fare of arresting and trying them, what has happened to them?….nothing!
Those convicted had such light sentences or were asked to pay back paltry sums and with some of them, the trial was not even concluded at all. If it was not for the doggedness of the United Kingdom’s metropolitan police, Ibori would also have walked free. After all he was acquitted by a Nigerian court whilst we looked on helplessly. What could we do when the court says he is not guilty of 170 count corruption charges levelled against him, yet he, his family and even girlfriends were living large on the stolen state funds. These are the things that drive me. These are the things that make me ask questions.
Since being a political activist in Nigeria and considering gender inequality, what has been your propelling factor and the achievement so far?
I am not certain what gender inequality has to do with political activism. People don’t listen to you more or less because you are a woman or a man. Nobody appoints activists, it’s a personal choice. Of course the fact that a democratic environment does not encourage the arrest and torture of activists also helps as that could have been a major deterrent for women.
Activism is further enhanced by the social media which gives everyone a voice hence there are many more activists out there these days. The government cannot shut the internet down as they would for an ‘offending’ newspaper. They cannot arrest people for posting stories about their activities… how many people can you arrest? Once a story hits the internet, several people post it and the awareness increases. Nigerians in Diaspora are kept abreast of all the news as it unfolds. The best that the government can do is to hire people to counter the stories and justify their actions using the same medium as the activists.
The contribution of the social media was highlighted during the period when our president (Yar’Adua at that time) “disappeared” and the entire nation was being held to ransom by a small “cabal” of government officials. The rallies and marches were mostly organised in a short space of time with the help of the social media and the internet in general. I would say that that is one of my achievements as I participated fully in that movement.
Do you think if women are given their rightful position things will change in our leadership and economy as well?
Well to some extent, yes. Women are very focused and feel more of a need to prove themselves by doing the right thing. That is not to say that there are no corrupt women or that all women are better than men. You can’t make such generalisations. However women are very smart, very organised and when the right ones are selected they do make a reasonable impact.
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala is an example at hand. She was very successful as the finance minister during Obassanjo’s era hence she has been given an elevated “prime minister status” in the current government. Women like Hilary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice have also demonstrated the strong contribution that women in powerful positions can make. An increased participation of women in leadership roles will also make the men more competitive and more accountable. They will not want the women to outshine them and record greater achievements.
The women will also set a different pace and standard in terms of corruption and accountability. These are some of the main problems we have with leadership today.
According to Dr Mourtada Deme (Resident Country Director of IRI), women’s participation in politics is a “strong indicator of a country’s democratic development and therefore women should have a greater voice in the governance of the nation”. However, the crucial thing to note is that it is not just about putting a woman in a leadership role but putting a competent woman.
Often times women are selected either because they do not pose too much of a threat to men in their environment or because they enjoy a “special” relationship with the men charged with making appointments. If women are chosen on that basis, then their contribution will not be particularly exceptional and there will be limited impact.What is your advice to women and our leaders in politics?
My advice to women in politics or interested in politics is, don’t wait for power to be given to you by the men…..grab it! For years we have been governed predominantly by men. They have not made a success of the country so now it’s our turn to make a contribution and to determine whether we can make a difference. We must not allow the men to put us off (and they will try), instead we must stand up to be counted. We must raise our voice and keep talking until they are forced to accept us.
Nigeria belongs to all of us, men and women alike and the myth that only men can govern effectively has long been broken. We should insist on the education of our girls as illiteracy is still higher in women than in men and this creates a barrier ab initio. We should also insist on a certain number of roles to be reserved for women and we should form women groups designed to promote women and enhance their political careers.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Depressing Tales From Nigeria

By Jon Chikadibie Okafo

I have been in Nigeria for close to two months now, and apart from the laughable patriotism imposed on me by that “accident of birth”, I wish to maintain that this country is not fit for sane humans.
There are countless streams of mind-bending and seriously bizarre tales of occurrences that will surely get you thinking-sooner than later, your thoughts will be strangled to that point where it now becomes a constant display of depressing tales.

Make no mistake about it-there are two worlds struggling for space in the larger Nigerian picture. It doesn’t take much research for one to sniff out the identities of the two groups co-existing in Nigeria; those in government and those being “governed”. The “Berlin wall” separating the two groups remains so high, the disparity in the quality of life is staggering-while those in government are living large, the rest of Nigerians are visibly non-existent. Life in Nigeria really sucks big time, it is so because we have comedians, thugs and horrible charlatans occupying lofty government positions.

The city of Abuja is a good example of the evil sense of humour that is our government. The richest folks in Abuja are government officials who occupy all the mansions in the posh areas of Asokoro, Maitama, etc while the “every-day-man”, the regular Nigerian citizen could be found in the slums of Nyanya, Mararaba, Kado and similar shit-holes. Of course, the same arrangement is scattered all over Nigeria where the gap between the rich and the absolutely wretched keeps widening, incidentally government officials are the super-rich everywhere in Nigeria. Do we really have any functional government for the people in Nigeria?

Well, “we voted for Jonathan and not the PDP”. Suddenly, all my friends and foes alike that championed that illogical argument have for some apparent reasons, had the wind taken out of their vuvuzela-the silence emanating from their camp is really unsettling. Whatever happened to that ludicrously unintelligent talk of Jonathan being a “good man”? I argued then, and I still do so now; it makes no difference to the suffering masses of this once great nation if Mr President was a nice man. What we need here is a leader who inspires confidence, a leader who has what it takes to turn things around for the better and not “he is the first PhD holder to be president”.

You really need to be in Nigeria to be able to grasp the level of rot that is prevalent here; our past leaders ought to be sincerely ashamed. The current leadership of this country should be more ashamed-Nigerians are struggling against man-made vicissitudes of life; our people are dropping dead in thousands daily while those in Abuja and other state capitals are busy lining their pockets. Though I am not surprised at the wicked and immoral deceit of the PDP-led government, I had expected that man whose vuvuzela was loudest about “going to school without sandals” to identify with the masses by churning out people-friendly policies.

What do we have here? A federal government that is genuinely averse to alleviating the living standards of the same people that voted it in, a government that is more interested in consolidating power by expanding dangerously the throat of waste by bringing in more friends, party members, financiers, to “come and chop” [apologies to OBJ].
As I write, Power Holding Company of Nigeria [PHCN] continues to threaten fire and brimstone; as a matter of fact, power has been non-existent everywhere here for days! As usual, there is a dispute over pay and sundry issues and the government of Nigeria peopled by leeches and kleptomaniacs continue to slumber.

Why not? They are all living large on our wealth while the real owners of the wealth wallow in poverty, darkness and want. Majority of those ruling Nigeria are simply too wicked, heartless, clueless, sick and uninspiring.
These words might sound so strong except when one ponders over the type of cruel joke that was this year’s National 

Honours Award. Reuben Abati’s satire on this same issue in October, 2010 comes to mind, except that the gentleman have found himself as the official mouthpiece of the same group he made a career of vilifying. Alhaji Dangote was decorated with the second highest honour in our country and I ask, for what? The dumbness of this act was further exposed when Mr President had to come out to defend that decision. Mr Peter Obi of Anambra state too was decorated, and hundreds of other recipients whose only claim to such “honour” could be found in their membership cards of the PDP. To me, the whole charade was more like a Tom and Jerry show-and the Iroko himself rightly rejected it. Well done Professor Chinua Achebe.

Well, sometimes I try to dwell on the sinfully rib-cracking stories one hears here daily to sustain my whining sanity. Verily I say to you, except one resides in Nigeria, you would doubt the veracity of the strange stories you will hear here. Did anyone out there hear the one about Nigeria Customs “auctioning” the equipment imported by federal government for the power sector because they were incurring demurrage at the ports?

Did any other person hear the one about the non-existent buildings for some top government officials purportedly being constructed in Abuja? I bet my last kobo that the Senate only found this out because the buildings were for their principal officers and the Vice President. I wonder who got lucky with the contract sum-billions suddenly approved through thin air vanishing through thin air.

Which brings me to the other part of the sad tale; battling with the “Nigerian mentality”. Before going into the gist proper, I would like to make my position well known-we Nigerians need a complete overhaul of our thought-process, meaning we need a re-orientation. Even though we blame our government and “witches and wizards” [story for another day] for all our woes, we must recognize the fact that we are equally guilty of killing the dreams of the founding fathers of this large map. 

From all observable indications, we don’t care a hoot about our neighbours and environment anymore; particularly in Lagos. In spite of the visible efforts of the state governor with his “Eko oni baje”, Lagos remains one vast stinking slum.
Little wonder the Lagos State Commissioner for Health was on air quite recently sharing the depressing “news” that there were about 2.5 million mentally challenged drivers on Lagos highways. As a Lagos resident, I cringe at the heaps and mounds of filth that assaults my eyes daily, the huge rats that stare at you at night [they are everywhere in Lagos], the horrible open gutters with smelly greenish watery waste, the regular sight of men and women peeing and defecating openly, the constant power outage and the hatching rumbles of power generating sets, the noisy parties and early morning preachers that seems to have a grudge against some devil and sin, the blare from the very loudspeaker from numerous mosques, the list goes on.

All across Nigeria, you could almost touch the level of apathy and animosity that pulsates amongst fellow citizens; probably the government has succeeded in turning Nigerians against each other. The level of mistrust and suspicion is scary; the beauty of living together with the spirit of “the brotherhood of man” has since left our clime. Our survival instinct is now upped to a very alarming level and this means that our society has turned into a “dog-eat-dog” jungle.
And again, I remembered that not so long ago, President Goodluck Jonathan [GCFR!] gleefully reassured Nigerians that the identities of Boko Haram financiers and all that were now known to government. In that same broadcast, I remember vividly that Mr President promised that “arrests” would be made soonest and there would be no sacred cows. I was pleased, genuinely pleased.

Well, the bombs are still going off and innocent citizens are still its victims. Boko Haram seems to be waxing stronger while our government has now changed its song, “terrorism is a global thing”, “government has approved the sum of N10b [ten billion Naira] for the purchase of security gadgets and toys”, etc. I am innocently scratching my head and waiting for Dr. Reuben Abati to tell us wetin dey now.

While waiting for Abati come up with another spin, I got the totally deflating news that the “Super” Eagles of Nigeria will not be at the forth coming Nations Cup, what? ” A whole “Super” Eagles”?  What about the national female football team? Ahhh, dem too no dey go anywhere bros! I have however joined the rest of Nigeria in one aspect; we easily launch a momentary escape from our myriads of problems by relocating to the nearest watering hole for a pint or two-and we sit back to chatter stupidly about the English Premier League, and how much Mr A bought his “new jeep”.

Eventually, the partying continues in Abuja and government houses all over Nigeria, our National Assembly members tuck more Ghana-Must-Go bags under their seats, Boko Haram detonate more bombs, travelers perish on the nasty Shagamu-Benin highway and similar neglected roads across Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan prances about with his “fuel subsidy” cudgel, and we, the wretched Nigerian citizens whimper home to offer prayers and tithes to God to “please take this cup away”. Amen?


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rwanda: The Corruption Free Zone of Africa-- Dr. Chika Ezeanya

By Dr. Chika Ezeanya

“You are Nigerian? Aaaah you will love it more in my country than here” my Ugandan co-worker enthusiastically advised upon my arrival in Rwanda, to work on a donor funded project.
I was intrigued by his comment, so I prodded.
“Really? Why so?”
“I have worked in your country and the system is very much similar to what we have in Uganda. Things work as they should. There are no bottlenecks; you get what you want, how and when you want it.”
Is he talking of another Nigeria, or the very land of my birth and nurture? He must be implying the opposite in a subtle manner, I concluded. 
“You are very funny,” I courteously offered in response.
Hurt at the fun being made of my admittedly beleaguered pedigree, I was eager to change the topic to the project we were both hired to work on.

“My sister,” he continued before I could interject; “I have been here in Rwanda for 2 years, and I cannot tell you how much I want to return to my country. I am tired of all the processes,  rules and regulations that abound here. It is too much. Are we not in Africa?”
“Are you really serious?” I asked. Something is being said in sincerity here.
“In Uganda, you have your money, you get what you want exactly the way you want it and at the exact time you need it. I am used to that life. Here, no matter how much you have or even who you know, you must follow some annoying rules and unnecessary regulations. The system is too rigid. I don’t know how they survive here.” He complained bitterly, throwing both hands open in visible agitation.

“Since this is a long term project, I would have moved my family here, but I cannot endure this kind of regimentation for long. Uganda is my country, any time, any day,” he said, as smiles of endearment brightened his countenance.
I was only a few days old in Rwanda and did not really understand him. Now, I have stayed long enough, and traversed the system deeply enough for my colleague’s words to make sense.
You cannot bribe or influence your way through any system, organization or institution in Rwanda. It is that plain and simple.
My first shock, apart from the extreme cleanliness and orderliness of the city of Kigali, (see my article A Tale of Two Black Cities was when I had cause to visit the immigration office to clear some outstanding documentation issues.

I must shamefully admit that coming from the background of my beloved country Nigeria, I prepared myself well for the journey. I pre-packaged enough cash in my bag – neatly folded in a way to conveniently change hands discreetly - not because there was anything illegal about my business, not at all. It is common knowledge in several sub-Saharan African countries that even the most legitimate transaction has a high probability of being stalled by an official who smiles at you, expecting you to return the smile in cash.
I informed my office that I was going to the immigration office for the day. The last time I renewed my passport in Abuja, Nigeria (2009), it was a whole day’s work. I had to wait outside with several others for several hours, while people who came much later, but knew how to play the system were quickly attended to.

I arrived the immigration office at Kacyiru, Kigali and could not believe my sight. First, the electronic customer service at the entrance gave me a tally that showed I was number 5 in line. Incredible. I got up and went to the very polite, lone and unarmed security officer at the door. I must be in the wrong office; where is the queue? Where are the customs officers loitering around the area soliciting for “customers” to assist in processing their immigration documents? Where are the touts, the peddlers of passport holders, passport photos and even visas? Where are the numerous roadside hawkers making brisk sales of soda, bread and sundry “gourmet” appetizers, entrees, and desserts to frustrated and fatigued patrons? Where is everybody?
“You are in the right office, madam” the officer assured me with a smile.

It was my turn already. I sat down to be attended by an amiable young lady who took her time to listen to my challenges, taking notes, entering data into the computer in front of her, engaging me in the most respectful conversation about my stay, so far, in Rwanda. In less than ten minutes after my arrival, I was handed a sheet of paper with clearly spelt out instructions on how to address my situation.
“Thank you very much, madam. Please do not hesitate to contact this office should you encounter problems following the instructions given.”

I was stunned. The last time I received such impeccable service from a public institution was earlier in the year when I had to register an organization in Washington D.C. Has the immigration office in Rwanda been privatized? I could not help but inquire of my Rwandan colleagues.
Privatize the immigrations office of a country? They asked, their faces showing signs of reassessing their initial valuation of my intelligence. Forgive me for asking, but unusual sights birth unusual questions. What is going on in this part of Africa?

I was soon to get used to Rwanda. The country where things work as they should, where you are informed of the rules and regulations and it works for you if you follow it. The country where you can register your business online within 24 hours (,   without having to engage the expensive services of an attorney who will take weeks, sometimes months to travel to Abuja (in the case of Nigeria)  to bribe his way through the corporate affairs office to get you registered. Stories abound of lawyers who collect money from clients without fulfilling their own side of the bargain. Such appalling scenario is impossible in Rwanda.
Rwanda. The country with steady supply of electricity – admittedly for the electrified areas as there are still challenges with electrifying the mountainous rural parts. For over three months of my stay, I cannot recollect more than three incidences of power failure, with none lasting longer than five minutes.
Electricity is cheaply available and easily accessible in Rwanda. With “Cashpower” equivalent of $15USD  procured by sending a text message to your preferred vendor, a family of six need not worry about electricity for a whole month. There is no cheating or bribing of electricity corporation officials; there is no need for that.

During my last visit to Lagos (two months ago), I had opportunity to visit with a household where I was gleefully informed that electricity bills had not been paid in the past four years.
“We are very lucky to have a guy on our street who works with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). We give him small money to keep us connected through the backdoor.” The head of the household informed me triumphantly.
“What is the need paying all the money when you do not even get to have light?” He continued. “I would rather use the money to keep my generator serviced than give it to some thieves.” He pointed out, stabbing the air with his fingers in a self righteously emphatic manner. 

Working with civil servants on a project in Rwanda was another eye-opening experience for me. Having worked with civil servants in other parts of Africa, I must confess that the commitment of Rwandans is exceptional. 7:00 a.m. is resumption time for all civil servants and the work day ends at 5:00 p.m. Lateness is rare and frowned upon by all. Never for once did the people I had to work with miss out on work for one day, for any reason.
There were no staff coming in to the office to sign-in and leave for home.
People are motivated, interested in their work, forthcoming with ideas, excited about their job, dedicated, and willing to help.

In the Ministry where I worked, I was very much involved in the contract awarding process. The transparency of that process and the unconcerned attitude of the officers involved, in trying to influence the outcome were new to me. With my experience working with civil servants in other parts of Africa, I have learnt to become quite eagle-eyed about  contract awarding processes, which most often than not, devolves into life and death confrontations between vested interests; it is not unusual for threats of witchcraft, voodoo, poisonings and assassinations, to be made openly. But I did not need to worry in this instance; the established system ensures that the most qualified company always gets awarded the contract in Rwanda. 

No country in the world is corrupt free, but Rwanda ought to be ranked among the most “developed” countries in the corruption perceptions index, if there is any sincerity in that exercise. Whatever the case, the fact is that doing business, living and working in Rwanda could be one of the most validating experiences an African can have about the optimistic future of the continent and its people.
Dr. Chika Ezeanya blogs at

Rwanda: The Corruption Free Zone of Africa | Sahara Reporters