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The Obsessive Quest For Saraki’s Head: FG, APC, And The Old Power Brokers — Victor Ojelabi

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Senator Bukola Abubakar Saraki is a member of the ruling class by birth, having been born into the Senator Olusola Saraki’s political dynasty in Kwara State.

The young Bukola, like most privileged children of the elites, had his path to success well laid out. He had the best education both in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

He also quickly cut his teeth in leadership at a tender age, jumping on the board of Societe Generale Bank in 1990 at just 28, after a one-year practice as a medical professional in the UK. Bukola had rapid boardroom capacity development and corporate leadership in the space of 10 years with SG (1990-2000).

And at the young age of 38, he entered into public service, becoming the Special Assistant on Budget to President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000. He held this position for the president’s full first term and was credited for initiating the famous and widely praised Fiscal Responsibility Bill. 

In 2003, Bukola Saraki took his political career home to Kwara State, where he contested and won the seat of Governor with a large margin. Many attributed his victory to the existing political power structure of his father, but Saraki would prove everyone wrong when he went against his father’s dictates and contested against the Saraki’s political lever in 2007. He emerged victorious again, and just then announced his arrival to mainstream politics in one single swipe. 

Bukola Saraki was no longer that protegee and son of Chief Olusola Saraki, who enjoys the mercies and support of his father’s friends -individuals (mostly retired generals and first republic politicians) who maintained a nation-wide grip of power, each running their own political caliphates, states by states, zone by zone.

Bukola became a brewing storm in the teacup because the growth of his influence was sporadic, his political style unusual, views contemporary and revolutionary. Bukola came with the position that threatened control and centralization of power.

There was a worry about his mysterious style, unpredictability, unusual desire and ability to work with people across political divides. He had also proven to be too independent and headstrong, that quickly cemented the perception that the boy was headed for a solo run, a development that started setting out political enemies and stiff opposition for the new Saraki.
Power brokers started noticing how this new kid on the block gets through with all he sets to do politically, without an expected subscription to the loyalty demands, nor referencing of the supremacy of the power court. The Saraki Jnr at this point, had gone rogue.

He would beat off his father’s power play to take one of the three senatorial seats in Kwara, after successfully doing two terms as governor and installing his chosen successor. Even so, just at his second term as a senator of the federal republic, Bukola Saraki played grandiose national politics by winding his way to the seat of the senate president, against the wish of his party and national political bigwigs. Dr. Bukola Saraki’s adversary grew quite rapidly. Even now, drawing battle plots all across the country, particularly with the organized political South West, whose regional agenda (as led by Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu) took a massive hit with Saraki’s emergence as Senate president.

Into his term as Senate President, Bukola Saraki was famous for his independent opinions and audacious stand against the Federal Government and his party’s leadership. He led the 7th assembly to earn the reputation of total independence, an impressive allusion to the principle of separation of power.

For the first time in Nigeria’s about 2 decades of democracy, there was a Senate that was largely non-partisan. Bukola’s complete grip of the very volatile senate presidency seat shocked many. In previous assemblies, Senate leadership was only as stable as the extent of party loyalty.

Here was a 50-year-old senate president whose leadership was never in contention, had to support across party lines and even enjoyed the activism of some apostle-colleagues, who would go against any view or move to unsettle or question his authority. Without any doubt, Saraki led the most independent and stable Senate in our recent political history.

This also came with its own harvest of political enemies. Young Saraki in his political journey had congregated so much foe-men that it is not illogical to expect the relentless call for his head.

In the space of 12years from when Bukola rooted his political career as Governor of Kwara state, there hasn’t been a year without a big case hanging over his head. From anti-graft bodies to party’s disciplinary committee, the police force, DSS, and recently the Code of Conduct Bureau, Bukola Saraki seems to be under constant investigation, always answering to one summon or the other. 

This dates back to his tenure as Kwara State governor, particularly during his second term. Senator Abubakar Saraki, his wife, family, friends, and associates had government searchlight constantly beamed at them. From 2003 – 2007, Saraki had seven separate investigations done on him by the EFCC, none of which resulted in any conviction. The matters either ended in a judgment in Saraki’s favour or a total case abandonment for lack of merit and traction. 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) has had a steady run on Saraki. In more recent times this seems to have garnered more fire. A lot of people keep wondering if the resources available to the EFCC suddenly swells when it bothers on anything Saraki. For an organization that has a hip of inconclusive case files in several courtrooms across the nation, it is bewildering that it seems to open fresh cases against the Senate president every 6-8months.

Questions are being asked if this special attention to details and concerted effort is not worthy for the investigation and conviction of several public office holders the organization has fingered in recent times.

There is also a particular momentum in the unearthing Saraki’s dirts’ effort of the Magu dispensation of the EFCC. It seems rather peculiar to Saraki, that even hitherto closed investigation, some over a decade-old, are getting reactivated. Previous EFCC bosses reached conclusions on some allegations of financial crime against Saraki during his term as Kwara Governor. It is strange that Magu would discredit the positions of his predecessors by launching new inquiries into activities as far back as 16 years. Kudos to that level of commitment from an EFCC boss who took 17 months to charge former SGF, despite the substantial report of the Presidential Investigation Panel (led by Vice President Osinbajo) that led to his sack. 

This backward pry into Saraki is also very unique to him. Erstwhile governors of same dispensations as Saraki, whose investigation and prosecution on financial crime matters was hindered by immunity are still drumming their political careers at this time without any worry. This preference for Saraki’s cases only lifts the lid on people’s curiosity. Could there be a covert intent and purpose of the Magu-led EFCC on Saraki?.

Will it be out of place to adduce that it has a spatial relation with the Senate’s refusal to confirm Magu as the substantive chairman of the EFCC? 
Since Ibrahim Magu was appointed by Buhari as EFFC chair in November 2015, he has worked in an acting capacity, since the Senate rejected his appointment on two occasions.

With this Magu will be the ONLY chairman of the EFCC, whose appointment was never confirmed. You would recall that the Senate had unanimously voted to reject Magu based on the report of the SSS about his suitability for the job, but Buhari has kept him as chairman rather than send a replacement to the Senate. It is rather too circumstantial that the leadership of the Senate quickly attracted the investigative powers of Mr Magu’s EFCC more vigorously after. 

In September of 2006, Nuhu Ribadu, then Chairman of EFCC, took to the floor of the Senate to give a clean bill to six states, of which Kwara was one. Under Ribadu’s successor Waziri’s Chairmanship, Kwara Local Council was investigated in 2010 at the time that Dr Saraki joined the presidential race. Then, in 2011 at the same time that the Senator raised a motion on the floor of the senate, he was investigated by SFU, but the Ministry of Justice wrote to him clearing his name of any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, under his Governorship, Kwara State was the first state to open its accounts up to public scrutiny, and the first to gain an internationally recognized Fitch credit rating. 


Notably, most of the investigations have taken place after Senator Saraki raised issues of public concern, such as the mismanagement of the fuel subsidy, or when he was pursuing his presidential ambition.

The newly announced investigations, by EFCC, on Saraki’s time as Governor which ended over 12 years ago, point to questionable motivations for the investigations.

In 2003/4, whilst Governor, Senator Saraki gave up his immunity to answer questions on SGBN and till date, he is one of only two governors in the history of Nigeria to ever give up immunity.

Victor Ojelabi is a social commentator, wrote from Ilorin, Kwara State.

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Sanwo-Olu Declares Emergency On Lagos Roads As Work Begins

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Work begins today(Monday) on the deplorable city roads in Lagos State as Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Sunday declared an emergency on the situation.

The governor gave the directive for the commencement of repairs to construction companies. It followed his promise last week to start fixing the roads immediately after the rains.

Lagosians have been groaning under the state of roads and the attendant traffic situation. The extended rainfall has not helped matters.

According to the governor, all the construction companies had been mandated to mobilize their tools to the sites assigned to them.

He said: “This (Sunday) afternoon, we have just concluded meetings with various reputable construction companies and all of them have been given the brief to immediately commence major construction work in various parts of the state. The exercise will begin tomorrow with palliative work on the selected roads, which are on the Island and the Mainland.

“The contractors have been given the mandate to start mobilizing their equipment to their respective sites without further delay. Their activities must first give our people immediate relief on the affected roads so that there can be a free flow of traffic even during the rehabilitation work.”

To complement the major construction work on the highway, Sanwo-Olu said Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC) would be carrying out repairs on 116 inner roads across the state.

This, he said, would be in addition to the over 200 roads already rehabilitated by the corporation in the last three months.

Sanwo-Olu said his administration was not oblivious of the pain experienced by road users in the past few days, which was compounded by the persistent downpour.

He appealed to residents to bear with the government while efforts were being made to assuage their pains and bring permanent relief to them.

He said: “We expect the rains will begin to subside in this month of October and this is why we are mobilizing our contractors to immediately start the major construction work on the identified highways and bring permanent relief to residents. I am giving all Lagosians the assurance that the contractors will start the construction in earnest and will deliver on the terms of agreements reached with them.”

Sanwo-Olu said officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) would be working round the clock to control traffic on the areas where the construction would take place.

The Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure, Aramide Adeyoye, listed some of the critical areas to include Ojota stretch of the Ikorodu Road; Motorways – Kudirat Abiola Way; Apogbon Highway; Babs Animashaun Road; Agric/Ishawo and Ijede roads in Ikorodu as well as Lekki-Epe Expressway from Abraham Adesanya to Eleko Junction.

She added that there would be massive re-construction on a network of roads in Ikoyi, Ikeja GRA and Victoria Island.

The contractors deployed by the government are: Julius Berger, Hitech, Arab Contractors, Metropolitan Construction, Slavabogu Construction, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), Rajaf Foundation Construction and RCF Nigeria Limited.

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Minimum Wage: Prepare For Strike, NLC Tells Workers; Issues 4-Day Ultimatum To FG

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Sunday gave a four-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to accept its demand for the consequential adjustment of salaries, based on the new minimum wage, or risk a nationwide strike.

The ultimatum ends Wednesday, the umbrella union said in a letter to the Federal Government by its General-Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, urging the state councils to prepare for dispute.

But, to douse the brewing tension and avert the strike, Labour and Employment Minister Senator Chris Ngige has called for a meeting between NLC and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) tomorrow.

The minister said: “NLC and TUC leadership know the rule and what the ILO statutes say on such situation. So, we will continue our effort on Tuesday.”

Also, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, appealed to workers to shelve the proposed strike.

Warning that the strike may amount to an exercise in futility, he cautioned workers against uncritically confusing minimum wage increment with general wage review.

Fayemi, who shed light on the scope of the new minimum wage, urged workers to take into consideration the country’s economic situation before embarking on industrial action.

He told reporters in Lagos that increase in minimum wage does not translate into a general wage review.

After the first phase of negotiations collapsed due to percentage differences between the two parties, the Federal Government’s negotiating team and the JNPNC, which is representing labour unions, are expected to meet again tomorrow.

Labour is demanding 29 per cent salary increase for officers on salary level 07 to 14 and 24 per cent adjustment for officers on salary grade level 15 to 17 as against the Federal Government’s offer of 11 per cent for officers on grade level 07 to 14 and 6.5 per cent for workers of grade level 15 to 17.

The NLC letter to the state chapters reads: “You will recall that a joint communiqué was issued by the leadership of the NLC, Trade Union Congress and the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council stating that after two weeks from the date of the said communiqué, industrial harmony could not be guaranteed in the country, should an agreement not be reached with the Federal Government on the consequential adjustment of salaries as a result of the new minimum wage of N30, 000.

“You are hereby directed to coordinate preparations with TUC and JPSNC in your state for necessary industrial action should the time expire without an agreement as contained in the communiqué.”

Organised labour also faulted comments by Ngige that they misinterpreted minimum wage to mean general salary review.

The Secretary-General of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Alade Lawal, described the minister’s comment as a political gimmick meant to distract the union ahead of the expiration of the ultimatum.

Ngige had told members of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) last Thursday that the Federal Government had not commenced total implementation of the N30,000 new minimum wage because organised labour mistakenly perceived consequential adjustment in salary as total salary review.

The ASCSN secretary-general said labour understood its demands from the Federal Government for workers.

Lawal said the NLC had earlier written to the government for general salary review for workers.

He said: “From the memo on general salary review, which we had earlier submitted, we were asking for N777, 000 for Grade level 17 step one and for Grade level one step one we are asking for seventy-something thousand.

“If we are asking for that and we are negotiating for 29 per cent and 24 per cent, is that the same thing? So, it shows you that we understand what we are saying.”

Lawal said that the minister’s claim that the government’s personnel budget had risen astronomically to N3.08 trillion from N1. 88 trillion between 2016-2020 was not true.

Lawal added: “What he (Ngige) said is not correct. We understand what we are saying and we have told him that. These are distracting strategies. We have passed that stage. Our eyes are on the ball.

“We have passed that stage of misinformation. They should tell us what percentage of personnel cost is really coming from the wages of workers as opposed to political appointees.

“They should do a breakdown and publish it in the newspapers for everybody to see, that is if they are really serious. We know their gimmicks and antics and we will not go by that one. We have passed that stage.”

Asked how far labour has gone with its mobilisation for a nationwide strike, he said: “We are mobilising. It is not everything you discuss. These are strategies and you don’t reveal your strategies. They should let us test it and see what is going to happen.”

Urging labour to have a rethink, Fayemi, who sued for peace, said it is not the wish of government for workers to down tools.

He said: “We don’t want workers to down tools, but you will recall that the governors’ proposal in the course of the tripartite negotiation was N24,500. But, after negotiation back and forth, we ended up with N30,000 and the governors,’ in principle, said ‘we will pay.’

“However, in private discussions with the President, we made it clear that this is another recipe for the future bailout. To be frank with you, I don’t even consider N30,000 a living wage in today’s Nigeria. But, you cannot promise what you don’t have. It is also a fundamental principle of labour relations because you get into trouble if you do that.

“No doubt, we settled for N30,000, but we all agreed to look for ways to boost revenues going to the states and we are working on that. We are doing reconciliation with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). All these pipeline vandalism, we have a committee headed by Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasri el-Rufaiworking on that.”

Fayemi added: “We don’t want workers to down tools. But, we made it clear during the tripartite negotiation that an increase in the National Minimum Wage is not tantamount to a general wage review.

“The fact that we moved people, who are below N30,000 to N30,000 and wherever they should be on the scale, should not automatically mean that we must increase the salaries of people on Level 17, who are on N400,000. It is a minimum wage law; it is not a general wage law.

“Yes, if you promote levels 05 or 06, they may go over what the current level 07 is earning. So, that calls for consequential adjustment, but that adjustment should not go over levels 08 and 09. The Federal Government has even agreed to do nine per cent for levels 07 to 12 and five per cent for levels 13 and above, but they said no and insisted on 45 per cent.

“Where is Nigeria going to find the money? I mean the economy is in the doldrums. Whether we openly admit or not, everyone knows. If you have an economy that earmarks N2.4 trillion for debt servicing; then, what are we talking about? So, I hope good sense will prevail and that people will be able to convince labour that it is a futile effort if they do so because Nigeria cannot pay what it doesn’t have.”

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Yahoo Boys Are A Curse To The Country, Avoid Wonder Banks and Money Doublers —- EFCC Issues Strong Warning To Nigerians

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has again warned Nigerians over money doublers.

The anti-graft agency on Sunday warned Nigerians to avoid wonder banks and money doublers.

EFCC also advised Nigerians to stay away from businesses without offices, adding that no one; even politicians are not exempted from being arrested if found committing any economic and financial crimes.

The anti-graft agency issued the warning during a question and answer section on its verified Twitter page on Sunday.

The post read: “Nigerians beware of wonder banks, beware of “Money doublers”!

“Flee from business entities with no office location! Don’t be pushed by greed!

“It is better to act wisely than to regret the action. We also have what it takes to arrest and prosecute ANY Nigerian politician who has committed economic and financial crimes.”

EFCC added that Yahoo boys are a ‘Curse’ to Nigeria henceforth will continue to be hunted until they desist from the fraudulent act.

“Yahoo boys are actually A “CURSE” to the country and need to be stopped spreading at once

“For the purpose of education and information, internet fraud is a form of cybercrime punishable under several Sections of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition Prevention, etc) Act, 2015.

A jail term of 7 years awaits the convict or a fine of N5m,” the post added.

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