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‘How Kebbi Governor’s Humility Humbled Me’ —– City Architect, Teju Ajayi Chronicles His Experience With Abubakar Bagudu

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In the course of life’s peregrination, one has been fortunate to meet highly placed Nigerians across the socio-political and economic divides. Every one of them has left an impression, whether good or bad.

None has, however, left me humbled and awed as did Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State.

Some days ago, we boarded the same Aero flight from Abuja to Lagos. I saw him the moment I got aboard. He sat sedately in Business Class, deep in conversation with his wife.

Except for a few people who recognised and exchanged hearty pleasantries with them, you would hardly believe that this was the Kebbi State First Couple. They had no airs or affectations of the powerful. All through the flight, I noticed that the Bagudus kept chatting and laughing, seemingly oblivious to the world around them.

It was when the plane eventually taxied to a stop at the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, and we all alighted that the real surprise awaited me.

I was hoping that waiting at the foot of the plane would be a retinue of protocol and security aides but the reverse was the case. Governor Bagudu would further shock me when he and his wife joined the Airport Shuttle alongside ‘lesser mortals’.

All through the short trip to the arrival terminal, I kept glancing at the urbane and unobtrusive couple to see if this act was just a smokescreen and their mien would sooner betray their discomfort.

Not at all; they looked relaxed as the shuttle soon burped to a stop. At that point, my mind was made up on making his acquaintance; my conviction buoyed by the fact that there were no overzealous security men around to shove off a hapless passenger about to extend mere courtesies to their boss.

As we approached the arrival lounge, and with madam slightly out of sight, I walked up to the governor and introduced myself. He beamed, then, extended a warm handshake which I grabbed enthusiastically.

Having spent considerable time around some of Nigeria’s finest media professionals, I knew not to blow my chance. I knew also that my time was limited. So, I asked why he chose to fly commercial (and this should not be interpreted to mean that other governors do not fly commercial) when he could have simply chartered a flight and why he had no aides waiting for him. He smiled and said holding public office does not mean one should detach themselves from reality. Instructive!!!

I would later find out that Governor Bagudu was born into a wealthy home, holds two Master’s degrees in Economics and International Affairs, both from the University of Jos; and was a successful businessman in the United States before venturing into politics where he served as a Senator between 2011 and 2015. In spite of these accomplishments, he remains unassuming.

Even by the rating of Nigeria’s Northwest geopolitical zone, Kebbi is like the self-effacing but brilliant younger sibling.

Governor Bagudu is not like his counterpart in Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai, a very popular former minister with national name recognition; neither is he Sokoto’s Aminu Tambuwal, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives or Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano who has been in the news more than any other Northern governor in recent time. Still, those who are abreast of happenings across Nigeria must have heard a couple of good things about the man in Kebbi.

I can safely say that I got to know Governor Bagudu when Kebbi entered into a partnership with the former Governor of Lagos State to produce ‘LAKE Rice’. The two states made a success of the venture.

Since then, I have inadvertently followed news about him and been impressed by all, so far. He shared with me some of the ideas that have separated Kebbi from other Northern states and which have placed him high on the list of Nigeria’s most ingenious and futuristic governors. Then, his ADC emerged from the blues. I looked at my wristwatch and we had barely spoken for about seven minutes, which in reality, seemed like seventy.

As we exchanged numbers, I thanked him for his time, the knowledge he freely shared with me and promised to keep in touch and he said likewise. I hope I have begun to fulfil my part of the bargain, Your Excellency.

Your friend

Teju Ajayi

BIG STORY

‘I Paid 42k Twice For COVID-19 Test’ — Sweden Returnee Laments Extortion In Abuja

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Ndubuisi Ekwulonu, a Nigerian who came into the country from Sweden, says he was extorted in Abuja, as he paid twice for the mandatory COVID-19 test for passengers on international flights.

It is compulsory for all passengers coming into the country to provide negative COVID-19 test results prior to boarding; passengers are also expected to pay for a repeat test, which will be done after arrival.

Speaking with Brekete Family, a reality programme focused on human rights, in a viral video, Ekwulonu said despite paying twice for the COVID-19 test, his name was not found on the list of people who were to be tested.

“At the airport, there is a form the federal government said we would fill online before we leave where we are coming from. So after I filled the form, there are two options; either I pay with card or on arrival. Because of the bad network in Nigeria, I chose the option of paying on arrival,” he said.

“So, on getting to Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja, I used my ATM card and I showed them a picture that I have filled the form and they saw the ‘capture’. They requested my passport number which I gave them and they filled it in on their computer and brought out their POS. I paid and was debited N42,750.

“I was given two options; one laboratory in Jabi, the other in Maitama. Because I live close to Maitama, I chose that. But if you put the address of the laboratory in Google, it will take you to Emab Plaza, one laboratory there.”

He said on getting there, the people at the lab said they were unaware of what he was asking for and told him to leave.

“So, I came out, met a gateman to direct me to the place. He said I should go to THISDAY Dome. I went there; they said I should go to the ministry of health in the secretariat. At the ministry, I was directed to MM, one conference center. So, I took the taxi there and found the lab.

“I told the guy that they will ban me from the country if I don’t do the test and he said he will forward my information to Lagos which he did.”

Ekwulonu said he waited at the laboratory the whole day for a response from Lagos, but unfortunately, none came.

“I went home, came back. He checked the system and said my name is not on the list they gave him. Luckily for me, two people on the same flight with me came and couldn’t find their names. Even my friend from Sweden couldn’t find his name,” he said.

“Then they said I will have to pay another money if I want to do the test. I paid another N42,750 and did the test.

“This morning… I am supposed to leave Nigeria on Saturday, they sent me a message that I have to pay again for another test.”

Ndubuisi, who was in tears, lamented the difficulty in securing a job as a Nigerian in Sweden. He said there are about 5,700 employees where he works, but 5,000 were sacked.

“And I was among those retained. It took me time to get this job because I am a Nigerian. Even a Rwandan will get a job before you and these are people you know, in every aspect of life, you are better than them. Just because you are carrying a Nigerian passport, to get a job will be hard, so how can I lose my job because I came into Nigeria?” he lamented as he burst into tears.

However, later on, Tuesday, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), in a tweet, said Ndubuisi had been refunded.

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The Story Was Twisted Fundamentally Out Of Context, My Client Never Begged Salami Panel For Mercy —– Magu’s Lawyer

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Wahab Shittu, counsel to Ibrahim Magu, suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says his client never admitted to the allegations against him.

Magu is being investigated by a presidential panel over allegations of abuse of office and mismanagement of recovered assets under his watch as acting chairman of the EFCC.

Magu appeared before the panel last Friday to defend himself.

Shittu, in a statement on Tuesday, said the report that Magu confessed to the panel that he was overzealous as EFCC chairman and begged for mercy was misleading.

“We wish to state that this story was twisted fundamentally out of context by my client’s accusers who want to hit back at my client without justification,” he said.

“It is true that Magu and my humble self addressed the panel at the conclusion of his defense while Magu clarified that he threw himself to the job of acting chair because of his passion for the anti-corruption war, a situation that may be alleged overzealousness in some quarters.

“He however pleaded for justice and fair-play by the panel members in the context of his overall achievements and his fledgling career which hitherto remain unblemished and will terminate in two years’ time.

“Counsel to Magu also urged the panel members in the interest of fear of God and loyalty to their conscience to ensure justice in the matter and concluded by thanking them for patience and understanding throughout the proceedings.

“At no time did Magu admit to guilt to the allegations, the subject matter of the inquiry. Indeed the only thing going for Magu is the conviction of his innocence.

“A member of the panel had cause to inquire from me whether I am convinced that the panel will do justice to my client? I responded in the affirmative and I hope my optimism of the justice of the process at the end will not be illusory.”

He said as Nigerians wait on the Ayo Salami-led panel to do justice in this matter, commentators in the public space should comment based on facts and law.

According to the lawyer, the preoccupation of the inquiry is to reveal the truth without grandstanding, sensationalism, dramatization, or any attempt at the coloration of the truth.

“The danger is that these orchestrated stories in the public space may have the effect of shifting the real focus from the quest for facts and truth which is the real focus of the inquiry to sensationalism, half-truths, propaganda which will neither benefit either Nigerians who are interested in the real facts and truth nor the panel members who have toiled for days to execute the assignment including the subject of inquiry whose proclamation of guilt or innocence will define his future career and his perception in the public space,” he said.

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Nigerian Govt Orders DisCos To Suspend Electricity Tariff Hike

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The Federal Government has ordered the Electricity Distribution Companies in the country to suspend the recent hike in tariff.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission issued the order on Tuesday night.

This followed an agreement reached by the Federal Government and Organised Labour for the suspension of the hike in tariff for 14 days.

According to the NERC, the tariff suspension will be from September 28, 2020, to October 2, 2020.

The Order, No. NERC/209/2020, with the title: “NERC Order on the suspension of the Multi-Year Tariff Order 2020 for the electricity distribution licensees,” was signed by the NERC Chairman, James Momoh; and the Commissioner, Legal, Licensing and Compliance, Dafe Akpeneye, and addressed to the country’s DisCos.

 

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