Friday, 31 May 2013

Alleged 419: EFCC Arraigns Varsity Don Over $48,500

A lecturer at the Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Edo State, Dr. Stephen Obekpa Abah, was yesterday docked before Justice Olasumbo Olarenwaju Goodluck of a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a two-count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust, conspiracy and obtaining money by false pretence.
The accused is alleged to have between August 2008 and March 2009 obtained $48,500 from one Udeh Orokpo Godwin under the guise of setting up a joint company but diverted the funds to personal use.

I Bribed Officers With N3, 000 To Cross Border — Illegal Immigrants

Two Ghanaian illegal immigrants yesterday confessed to bribing officials at the Nigerian border with N3, 000 to gain entrance into the country.
Ibrahim Usman, one of the repatriated immigrants from Ghana said “I have been in Nigeria for the past 28 years with two wives, a Nigerian and the other one is a Ghanaian and blessed with ten children. He said he teaches Arabic Studies in Zaria international school.”
When asked how he passed through the border without necessary documents, he said, “We can spend more than N3, 000 as bribe to the officers to allow us pass through the border.”
Ahmed Salisu, also a Ghanaian said that he has lived in Nigeria for seven years and married with two children. They appealed to the government to give them some time to regularise their papers.
The illegal immigrants made the revelation during the repatriation of 101 Nigeriens and 2 Ghanaians by theKaduna State Command of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
Parading the illegal immigrants before their repatriation yesterday, the Kaduna State Comptroller of NIS, Hamman Yerima, said majority of the aliens were picked up in Government Reserved Areas (GRA) of Kadunametropolis were some of them were engaged as security guards, and urged Nigerians to engage only immigrants with legal permit.
He, however, blamed the influx of illegal immigrants into the country on nation’s porous borders, and advised that the borders should be fully equipped to check movement of illegal immigrants.
The comptroller said, “the Kaduna state command of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) as usual conducted mop up operations against illegal immigrants in the state. This time around we conducted an operation inKachia local government area on May 26, 2013, and we arrested 25 illegal immigrants.   
“The next day we also conducted another operation in high brow areas of Kaduna North, that is, ungwan Rimi GRA, Malali GRA, ungwan Dosa and Marafa where we arrested 59 suspects.
“Then at the toll gate, we also arrested 17 suspects, and earlier on we arrested two suspects, so all in all we have 103 suspects. And all these suspects are going to be repatriated this evening (yesterday) by the special grace of God. They are all Nigeriens. They are into menial jobs. They can be lured with small amount of money to do anything. We are sending them back by road.
“There is a particular case in Kaduna North where some Nigerians tried to prevent us from arresting the illegal aliens, so we had to arrest one of the Nigerians and brought him to our station, my men started giving him corporal punishment, but I had to stop them, and allowed him to go.

N200m Scam: Civil Servants Urges Amosun to Follow Due Process

Sheriff Balogun
Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Ogun State chapter  Saturday urged Governor Ibikunle Amosun of the state to follow due process in the alleged N200m West African Examination (WAEC) scam in the education sector.
In a statement by its State Secretary, Mr. Adebiyi Olusegun, the situation where a civil servant will be detained before investigation is conducted into the matter left much to be desired, saying the allegation should be looked into with a view of getting to the root of the case.
He said “the association therefore demands that the government should follow due process in all matters that affecr the civil servants in Ogun state.”
It would be recalled that state government said to have uncovered N200 million fraud in the payment of West African Examination Council (WAEC) fees for students in its secondary schools.
The state government also disclosed that four officials, two male and two female involved in the fraud are already in the police net while other suspects are being investigated for their roles in the fraud.
Olusegun, therefore, stated that the detained civil servants were not serve query and no investigation panel was not set up on the matter prior to the illegal arrest and detention.
He recalled that “last year August 30th 2012, this administration arrested handed over two civil servants to State Security Service and they were detained for three days over allegation of receiving a bribe of N25m. At the close of investigation it was discovered that the civil servants were not involved in any bribery allegation.”

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Minister: Corruption Now Full-blown Cancer in Nigeria

Minster of Education, Professor Ruquayyatu Rufai, has noted that Nigeria’s growth will never achieve her full potential if the country allows corruption, which she described as a full-blown cancer, to continue to thrive.
Insisting that things have to change so that Nigeria can survive and develop into an orderly, reasonable and predictable way, the minister noted that since corruption had now become the single biggest bane of the country, it should no longer be condoned.
Represented by a Director in her ministry, Alhaji Ahmed Rakaya, the minister said these in Abuja at the public presentation of the teachers guide for the teaching of the National Values Curriculum in Basic Education at the headquarters of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC).
According to her, the most veritable way of tackling corruption head-on and at all level in Nigeria, is to educate the masses on national values, path of the truth and the knowledge of the truth.
Speaking on the presence of corruption in the education sector, Rufai' said they were trying to reduce it to the barest minimum and would not spare anybody found encouraging it.
“We conducted two levels of UTME examination, pen and paper test, and computer operated test. The two tests conducted were free and fair, and result released within 48 hours. Over 16,000 candidates had their results canceled as a result of corrupt practices and other offences.
“We shall be resolute in our decision as there are no sacred cows. Nobody, no matter how highly placed, will be allowed to get away with the breach of the law or perpetration of corruption and evil in our colleges and tertiary institutions,” she said.
The ICPC Chairman, Ekpo Nta, while stating the reason for printing the books, said the current Nigerian curriculum was becoming more science and technical biased, while the teaching of ethical and moral values continued to be neglected, hence the need for more efforts to address the ethical gap in the nation’s education sector.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Declare state of emergency on corruption, Clark tells Jonathan

By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—FORMER Federal Commissioner for Information and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to, as a matter of urgency, declare state of emergency on corruption, saying he must put in place more drastic measures to tackle it.
Speaking, yesterday, during the church service held for him on his 86th birthday at the St. James’ Anglican Church, (Anglican Communion), Asokoro, Abuja, the Ijaw leader noted that corruption did not start with the administration of President Jonathan, adding that everyone must be involved in the fight against corruption.
Chief Clark argued that the government of Jonathan had made bold steps to address the problem of corruption by exposing those who were alleged to have stolen the nation’s money, especially the fuel subsidy funds.
Tasks elders
He also urged other elders of the country to join hands with the government in building a more united country called Nigeria, even as he told them that they do not have another country.
He said the culture of destroying or pulling down a government, when some ethnic groups are not in power, must stop because  all were equal as Nigerians, irrespective of state or geo-political zone.
Edwin Clark @ 86th: From Left, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Publisher of Nigeria Pilot, Prince Dennis Sami and the Celebrant, Chief Dr. Edwin Clark chatting during  86th Birthday of Chief Edwin Clark held in Abuja. Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.
*L-R, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Publisher of Nigeria Pilot, Prince Dennis Sami and the Celebrant, Chief Dr. Edwin Clark chatting during 86th Birthday of Chief Edwin Clark held in Abuja. Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.
He said: “I want to appeal to other elders of my age, above my age and below my age to know that we don’t have another country to go to. I pray that Nigeria remains a united nation.
“But the problem is that some people want to destroy when they are not in power. We are all equal and we want a united Nigeria where anyone can rise to any position.”
According to him, at 86 he was satisfied and was not looking for anything in life having worked in different places, travelled to different parts of the world, served as a Minister and a Senator, among others.
He urged the young ones to respect elders, adding that he will die a happy man if Nigeria remains a united country.
In his sermon, the Archbishop of Lokoja, Most Revd. Emmanuel Egbunu, who preached on the ephemeral nature of life and vanity, extolled the qualities of Chief Clark, who he said always spoke the truth irrespective of who was involved.
Egbunu, who stood in for the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of all Nigeria and Bishop of Abuja Diocese, the Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh, said that each time Chief Clarks talks, it was always newsworthy and urged the celebrant to ensure that he makes same news in heaven.
Roll call
Present at the Church Service were representatives of Senator Hope Uzodinma, representative of Senate President David Mark; wife of Deputy governor of Delta State; delegations from Delta and Bayelsa sates; General Lawrence Onoja, and former governor of Edo State, Professor Oserheimen Osunbor.
Others were Senator James Manager, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Alabo Graham Douglas, Ameh Ebute, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, Professor Sylvester Monye, Bala Kaoje, National Treasurer of PDP; former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha; Senator Sekibo, Power Godknows Igali, among others.

Judiciary, only hope in fight against corruptionn - Bakare

“If Nigeria must fight corruption and insecurity effectively, the judiciary remains the hope of the country.”
The  Serving Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, made this declaration at the weekend, in a keynote address delivered at the annual dinner of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, held in honour of Chief Afe Babalola, as part of its 2013 Law Week activities.
Pastor Bakare, who reiterated that he had confidence in the rule of law and the judiciary to bail out the country, was examining the high level of the twin evils of corruption and insecurity ravaging the country.
According to him, “the path of justice is the surest way to return our nation to a state of security, stability and peace.
“Every legislation and source of law aimed at combating crime, terrorism and other manifestation of insecurity must be applied judiciously and independently of executive manipulation,” he said.
Pastor Bakare further referred to the dismissal of the 171 money laundering charges against the former governor of  Delta State, James Ibori,  describing it as a sham as well as that of Dr Erastus Akingbola where the trial judge, Justice Habeeb Abiru was elevated to the Appeal Court when judgement was about to be delivered in the matter.
He accused the bar and the bench of collaborating to thwart the course of justice and for what is happeningcurrently in the country.
“We seem to have forgotten that justice is the ligament which holds civilised beings and civilised nations together.”
He cautioned Nigerians against thinking that the declaration of state of emergency in three states of the North to curb Boko Haram activities would save the day.

“Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of peace.”

The way out of the trouble, he stated was “to bring justice and power together so that whatever is just may be powerful and whatever is powerful may be just.”

According to him, “justice must be administered without fear or favour and that where the law proves insufficient to judiciously deal with cases, judicial activism should lead the cause of progressive development of the law.”

He described the judiciary as the last hope of the common man and the institution that must rise to restore the predictability of systems that guaranteed security in the society.

“Therefore, in dealing with the twin devils, we must not put the cart before the horse. Corruption must be dealt with first.

“The Judiciary must use the instrumentality of law and judicial activism to enforce and further develop our numerous anti-corruption laws, especially the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004 and the Public Procurement Act 2007.”

The national leader of the SNG said that the judiciary must become the vehicle for holding government accountable to section 14(2) of the constitution which states that the security and welfare of the people shall be primary purpose of government.

“The judiciary must take the lead in making that section of our constitution justiciable”, he said.

Justice of the Supreme court, Chukwuma-Eneh, in his speech said that law is very pivotal to effecting orderly change and in preserving public order in the society.
He said that the National Judicial Council (NJC), under the chairmanship of  Justice Aloma Mukhtar, has taken a frontal position to reclaim the great name of the judiciary and put it on proper track.

He urged lawyers to critically reexamine themselves and play the role the society expected them to play  as legal practitioners.

The Attorney General, Ade Ipaye in his remarks urged lawyers to as legal practitioners, advance the course of justice and reverse what he termed “the unfortunate progress of impunity which stem from disrespect for law.

“We should re-appraise our role in the system; “are we advancing the course of justice?”, he asked.

“I believe that we should be the one to turn Nigeria around by making the judiciary to play the role it is expected to play”, he added.

Source: http://tribune.com.ng/news2013/index.php/en/news/item/12939-judiciary-only-hope-in-fight-against-corruptionn-bakare

Friday, 24 May 2013

Corruption in oil, building sectors depleting Nigeria’s economy - Quantity surveyors

THE Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria (QSRBN), on Thursday, raised the alarm that the oil and gas, as well as the building and construction sectors remain two major areas where huge resources are lost in the economy.
It also expressed worry that while efforts are being made to effectively police the oil and gas sector, little attention was being paid to the building and construction sector.
President of QSRBN, Mallam Husaini Dikko, who spoke in Abuja at an economic roundtable, attributed the high cost and inflation in the building and construction sector to the absence of cost standards.
He lamented that cases abound where different governments or their agencies executed construction projects at different costs, despite the fact that the projects were similar in all material particulars.
Mallam Dikko maintained that instances showed that the absence of transparency, accountability and probity were implicated in the current regime of high building and construction costs.
Noting the need to set standards for projects’ costing and templates for determining cost bands across the geopolitical zones, states and local governments throughout the country, the QSRBN president insisted that achieving the feat would require the development of a robust building and construction cost database and the establishment of a cost data centre under the supervision of the body.
“The building and construction sector can be used to set agenda for Nigeria’s economic development, just as it is also a critical success factor in the achievement of the country’s economic programmes in many ways,” he said.

Source: http://tribune.com.ng/news2013/index.php/en/news/item/12710-corruption-in-oil-building-sectors-depleting-nigeria-s-economy-quantity-surveyors

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Corruption allegation: Justice minister sues Dino Melaye for N10bn

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, has instituted a suit against the Executive Secretary of the Anti-Corruption Network, Honourable Dino Melaye, claiming the sum of N10.2 billion over some alleged libelous publications contained in an Abuja-ased newspaper and the internet.

Adoke, in the suit filed by his counsel, Ahmed Raji, stated that Melaye and his organisation libelled him by causing the publication of a story entitled, ‘Group writes Jonathan over Adoke’s abuse of Power,’ in the Leadership Newspaper of April 12, 2013  and another article entitled ‘Anti-Corruption Network reminds President Jonathan he has yet to fire AGF Adoke,’ posted on the Sahara Reports’ website on April 11.

The police in another letter to Adoke’s counsel, however, stated that Melaye had refused to cooperate with them to investigate the allegations contained in Melaye’s petition.

Police authorities, in the letter dated May 17, advised the minister to sue for criminal libel, explaining that Melaye and his lawyers were frustrating efforts by the police to investigate the allegations.

According to court papers made available to the Nigerian Tribune, the justice minister sued Melaye over seven grave allegations contained in the publication and the posting by the  online news site, which the minister described as false, defamatory and designed to tarnish his good name.

The justice minister also affirmed that the said publications painted him as a dishonourable person sabotaging the efforts of the Federal Government, while also undermining his reputation to occupy public office within the federation.

The minister denied all the allegations contained in the publications and affirmed that he had incurred enormous cost in legal consultation, thereby making a claim of N10 billion against the defendants as damages for libel contained in the publications.

He is also seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their agents or privies from further publishing libelous stories  about him.

The AGF is also seeking another N200 million as cost of litigation of the suit, which includes professional fees of the counsel  engaged in the suit.

Colonial Laws, Hindrance To War Against Corruption - Farida Waziri

Former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), MrsFarida Waziri has predicted that the fight against corruption in Nigeria cannot be won except the country repeals inherited colonial criminal laws.
Waziri stated further that the colonial criminal laws did not envisage the terrible corrupt situation the nation has found herself, therefore, there is a dare need for them to be repealed to pave way for potent ones that would help salvage the country and curb corruption.
The retired police AIG who was the chair person at the public presentation of a book titled “S.T. Hon’s Law of Evidence in Nigeria”, yesterday in Abuja stressed that it would be fool hardy to believe that the present laws can wipe out corruption because of too many escape routes for the corrupt people to escape from punishment.
“It is a notorious fact that corruption is being fought partly with archaic laws, the laws that are no longer suitable for the unpleasant situation we have found ourselves,” she noted.
She said, “At the time most of our laws were being enacted by the colonial masters, nobody envisaged cyber crime, nobody envisaged internet fraud and nobody even envisaged manipulation of computer to defraud because those things were not there at the time.
“I use this singular opportunity to call on members of the National Assembly to rise to the challenge. They should give us potent laws that can confront corruption and corrupt tendencies headlong. We must not shy away and we must not spare any effort to review and reform our laws to suit our present purposes.
I charge our legal practitioners too to be concerned with the nation’s archaic laws and no effort should be spared to ensure that the laws are periodically reviewed and updated to meet the demands of the present age and developments.
For over 40 years, our Evidence Act was left at the mercy of crooked manipulations in the law courts especially in criminal matters.
“In reviewing our laws, the National Assembly should make sure that the laws cover all segments of the country”.
She threw her full weight behind the reform of the judiciary being undertaken by the chief justice of Nigeria whom she described as a no nonsense woman and called on Nigerians to give her maximum support.
Mrs Farida also showered encomiums on the book’s author, Sebastine Hon(SAN) for his contributions to  law development in the country and urged other lawyers to emulate him.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A Troubling Survey on Global Corruption

CORRUPTION is a growth business. Bribery scandals have dominated headlines in several countries in recent months, among them India and Nigeria. International enforcement of antibribery laws has been increasing in the United States and major European countries.
A new survey of corporate officials and employees in 36 countries — in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, as well as India — indicates that there is plenty of corruption that needs investigating.
Over all, 20 percent of the respondents said they knew of incidents at their own companies within the previous year that could be construed as cooking the books — moves to either understate expenses or overstate revenue. Among senior managers and directors, the figure was 42 percent.
The survey was conducted late last year by Ipsos, a market research firm, on behalf of Ernst & Young, a major accounting firm.
Ernst did not break down responses to the cooking-the-books question by country, but indicated that managers from emerging markets were more likely to say that had happened than were managers from more developed economies.
The firm did provide country-by-country results for some questions, as can be seen in the accompanying charts. Asked if companies in their countries “often report their financial performance as better than it is,” more than half the respondents in nine countries — Nigeria, Slovenia, Russia, Spain, Croatia, India, Serbia, Kenya and Austria — said that they did.
At the other end of the scale, fewer than a quarter of respondents in eight countries — Finland, Norway, Switzerland, France, Romania, Sweden, Hungary and the Netherlands — said that happened.
The survey was commissioned by Ernst’s fraud investigation and dispute services group, which does not perform standard corporate audits but instead is hired by companies to look for signs of corruption or fraud in their own operations. It did not include either China or the United States.
David Stulb, the global leader of that group, said it was growing in part because many companies were worried about enforcement of the American Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars the bribing of foreign officials, and of similar laws in other developed countries. Those surveyed included employees and officials of overseas subsidiaries of multinational companies. The respondents were promised anonymity, Ernst said.
The survey revealed what Ernst called a “corruption perception gap” in many countries, where respondents said bribery and corrupt practices were far more common in other parts of their country than they were in their own industry. At the extreme, 94 percent of respondents in Kenya thought corruption was widespread in the country, but only 34 percent thought it was a problem in their own industry.
The responses indicated that corruption and bribery are rare in the Scandinavian countries, but common in some Southern and Eastern European countries, as well as in India, the Middle East and Africa.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Nigeria needs special laws to fight corruption - LP chairman

NATIONAL chairman of the Labour Party (LP), Chief Dan Nwanyawu, has called for the creation of special laws and courts in the country, to treat cases of corruption and prosecute offenders.
Nwanyawu, in a chat with the Nigerian Tribune, lamented the level of corruption in the country,  just as he advocated death penalties for those found guilty of looting treasuries of government.

He described corruption as a crime against humanity which, according to him, must attract death sentence if only to reduce the impunity with which offenders usually commit the crime.

According to the LP chieftain, “there should be special laws for corruption cases in Nigeria. As far as I am concerned, corruption is a crime against humanity and should attract death sentence. That person must be taken to the community where he comes from and be punished.”

He called on the legislative arm of government to spearhead the struggle for the establishment of special courts to try cases of corruption in the country, such that cases brought before the court would be dispensed with within six months.

Nwanyawu also blamed the courts for encouraging corruption in Nigeria, adding that they grant bails to detained corrupt public officers with mild conditions.

NJC threatens to sack lazy, corrupt judges

• Probed judges know fate soon
THE Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mariam Aloma Mukhtar, has threatened to wield the big stick against lazy and unproductive judges, saying the National Judicial Council (NJC) would now use its Performance Evaluation Reports to dismiss such judges.
According to her, the NJC would no longer restrict its sanctions to only matters relating to allegations of corruption or sundry misconducts.
It was learnt that the NJC may convene an emergency meeting this week to decide the fate of 20 judges whom it investigated over allegations of corruption, misconduct and sundry charges following petitions brought against them.
Speaking at the weekend while receiving “Nigeria’s Judicial Performance Evaluation 2008- 2011’’ compiled in seven volumes by the Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies (NIALS) in her chambers in Abuja, Justice Mukhtar said “it is highly absurd to observe that some judges can’t even deliver up to two judgments in a quarter.
“We are now thinking of looking at the performance evaluation of the judges for the purpose of discipline. If a judge cannot deliver three to four judgments in a year, there is no use keeping him on the Bench other than to be shown his or her way out.’’
The CJN said she didn’t know how bad the situation was until she directed all judges to seek permission through their heads of courts before travelling abroad.   “The Nigerian Bar Association has also been complaining about the attitude of judges to work these days. Many will leave their work and travel for days abroad. This is why I insisted they must obtain approval before travelling abroad. Until this directive, I never thought things were all that bad, because some of the judges will be seeking permission to travel abroad while the courts are in session, despite the six weeks holiday they are entitled to in a year’’.
Mukhtar emphasised punctuality of judges, stating that they are expected to commence with the court proceeding by 9 a.m., but there were instances where many of them do not resume work until 11 a.m. or 12 noon while the litigants, their witnesses and lawyers keep waiting in the courts.
“These are part of the reasons the NJC undertakes performance evaluation from time to time, both at the trial and appellate courts, to determine productivity of the judges and their courts in the states and the Federal Capital Territory. The Supreme Court is not exempted. The NIALS’ performance evaluation could not have come at a better time because it will go a long way to complement the ones carried out by NJC performance evaluation committee,’’ she said.
While presenting the Performance Evaluation Report, the Project Director who doubles as the head of NIALS, Prof. Epiphany Azinge (SAN), said the work will go a long way to complement the CJN’s present drive to cleanse the judiciary.
Meanwhile, a source said the NJC may this week decide the fate of the 20 judges. Those under investigation include four state chief judges, some justices of the Court of Appeal and judges of the Federal and State High Courts.
Depending on the gravity of the offences established against them, the sanctions range from definite or indefinite suspension without pay and compulsory retirement to outright dismissal.                                               
The NJC is headed by the CJN, a jurist reputed for her “no-nonsense posture and zero tolerance for corruption who has since assuming the exalted office not minced words about her readiness to rid the Bench of bad eggs.
Allegations against the 20 judges include judgment fixing, unethical romance with litigants, outright sale of judgments, graft and bribery and engaging in delivery of questionable verdicts.
Some of them are also said to have entertained matters beyond their jurisdiction, contradicted their rulings or judgments on similar matters, dismissed cases without taking pleas, sold electoral petitions to the highest bidders and dismissed cases even when there were merits in the applications before them. A few other judges are also being accused of peddling influence among politicians to secure judicial positions.

How corruption, poor governance are killing Nigeria, By Godswill Akpabio

How corruption, poor governance are killing Nigeria, By Godswill Akpabio

Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, reputed for being profligate, lectures about governance and corruption
I pay tribute to the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Hon. Ekpo Nta and his indefatigable team for the brilliant idea of hosting this forum. This lofty initiative bears testimony to the genius of Hon. Ekpo Nta. Apart from shedding light on seemingly hazy issues, it is a welcome opportunity for elected officers to relate with the electorate.
I salute the foresight of our former President, His Excellency Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in setting up this body and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. You have in definite terms helped to bring forth good governance and attempted to weed out corruption in our midst. You have slain many giants in this patriotic effort, but there are still some Goliaths in the land. We are proud of your work and we urge you to continue with this zeal. I Thank you for this great honour of inviting me to share my thoughts on good governance and transformation with you in this forum.
The late Zimbabwean nationalist leader, Joshua Nkomo (1917 – 1999), who was the spirit behind the successful fight to wrest Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) from the clutches of apartheid, said in his book The Story of My Life, “The hardest lesson of my life has come to me late. It is that a nation can win freedom without its people becoming free.”
I believe that the challenge of our nation, which became free in 1960, is for our people to become free – free from fear, free from murder, free from kidnapping, free from poverty, free from ethnicity, free from bombing. In fact not only become free from all the ills which currently beset our society; but also free to worship God anywhere in our country, free to practice any religion of his choice without fear or molestation, free to live anywhere in this country without apprehension, free to carry out his legitimate business anywhere in our country without harassment, free to enjoy anywhere in this blessed country all the fundamental human rights enshrined in hallowed extant manuscripts of freedom in the free world.
I believe that the main challenge militating against good governance is that Nigerians are yet to be free. The statement of Joshua Nkomo has become a reality in our time. It all began in the days of military rule, when certain groups and people were in perpetual servitude, while some privileged others enjoyed the fruits of the labour of those in servitude. Military dictatorships, by their nature, could not deliver good governance because they are not accountable to the people. But their misgovernment introduced a culture of injustice to some people and privileges for others. This led to certain persons believing that it was their right to infringe on the fundamental human rights and freedom of other persons and groups. Nigerians must correct such ills, because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. So good governance at it relates to a free society is as much a function of government as it is the civic duty of the governed.
All these bring us to our theme, “Good Governance and Transformation.” But before we delve into this topic, let us pose the question, “What is wrong with Nigera and what has denied us good governance all these while?” There are, probably, as many answers to this question as there are Nigerians. According to the recently departed, literary icon, Prof Chinua Achebe (1982), “The problem with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.”To the renowned Nobel laureate, Professor Akinwande Wole Soyinka, the problem is that Nigeria is “like a quilt-work of allegiances (and) alliances.” To the eminent former Secretary to the Federal Government, Alhaji Shehu Musa, the problem is that “We need to improve on our resource management to be able to achieve eradication or even reduction of poverty level.” In my estimation, what is wrong with Nigeria is that poor leadership by past leaders led to the problem of corruption. Corruption ranges from stealing to inflation of contracts. Corruption occurs when leadership fails in the management of resources and lacks the ability and courage to plug loopholes in the economy.
Our country has been drowning in a sea of corruption and we urgently need men of goodwill, like you, to salvage our situation. It is corruption when leaders take decisions on the basis of tribal sentiments, rather than common sense. It is corruption when projects are sited near the homes of those in authority and not in proximity to raw materials. It is corruption when a NAFDAC official tests a drug and certifies it as good because he has been financially compromised. The drug would, thereafter, become a menace to society and lead to the death of innocent citizens. It is corruption when a Custom official allows dangerous weapons to be smuggled into this country and such weapons are used to kill people. It is corruption when a contractor or government inflates a contract and forgets that whatever money government has it holds in trust for the citizenry.
If we must achieve good governance, we must collective fight and stop corruption. Men and women in positions of influence in bodies such as anti-corruption and law-enforcement agencies, should not use their positions to settle personal scores. The man who banks Government money and denies the people the fruits of democracy (like it was done in a particular state) and ends up leaving billions in the bank is guilty of denying the people the dividends of democracy. We must remember that justice delayed is justice denied. Such a man would breed discontent and cause social problems like Boko Haram. Like the Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
So what is ‘Governance and Transformation’? John Locke’s Social Contract Theory, stipulates that governance is a social contract between the government and the governed. This social contract’s aims are to promote peace and harmony and enhance the human status. Power, Locke maintains, belongs to the people, and the transformation, which the people expect from those they entrust with power, is not just a right, but also an obligation. Accordingly, governance, which is the act of governing, is expected to ensure total and absolute transformation of the social system.
The word Governance is derived from the Greek word “kubern√°o” which means to ‘Steer’. The World Bank describes “governance” as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development.” Governance Analytical Framework (GAF), describes governance in a broader perspective, referring to it as the “processes of interactions and decision-making among the actors involved in a collective problem, that lead to the creation, reinforcement or reproduction of social norms and institutions.”
Governance should reflect a state’s ability to serve and protect its citizens. Rules, processes, and behaviours should guide this conduct and determine how interests are articulated, resources are managed, and power is exercised to benefit everyone in the society. Transformation should provide a basis for measuring the performance of those in government.
Transformation underpins changes experienced in the society through the act of governance. Changes should be thorough, planned, visionary and dramatic. The transformation of the polity has become the prime expectation of the people while choosing their leaders. The people want to be, and deserve to be, transformed because what they were born to see is not what they were born to live. Governance must add value to lives and give life new meaning through transformation.
Since governance is a contract (as established above through the Social Contract Theory of John Locke), the masses give power to the few who govern them and in return expect effective leadership – leadership that will bring notable changes and reformation to the social system. Government must therefore set an agenda for development and management of the common wealth of the people. When Government fails, another hope is betrayed. When Government succeeds, there is joy approximating the joy of a sports victory in the land. This we have experienced in my state.
We must commend the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of our nation for his transformational governance of our country. The imprints of transformation are manifest in the agricultural, power, health, transport and indeed all sectors of the economy. His vision for our country bears eloquent testimony of this. Though beset with many challenges, he has done a difficult job well and made every patriotic Nigerian proud.
The topic of Good Governance and Transformation is very apt in considering the last six years of my administration. It is my candid belief that it was in appreciation of what we have done that you invited me to talk with you. Let me start by saying that we began our administration in 2007 by putting in place the principles of responsible governance. We plugged all loopholes in the system and employed best practices in the management our resources. With a budgeting of over 80 per cent capital expenditure and less than 20 per cent recurrent, we were embarking on a journey of transformation of infrastructures. To travel that road with us we made up our minds to engage companies with the right skill and technology to build time-tested and durable infrastructure. Some cynics wanted us to play politics with our projects but we knew that you could only have five star jobs from five star companies. At the same time we also appreciated that there were a litany of jobs, which did not need such high tech skills, and we left those ones for our non-skill populace.
The result of these policies meant that our roads (and we have had the best companies in the world construct them) came with over 20 years no-pothole guarantees. We also maintained a high level of fiscal discipline and put in place a team of highly competent professional project managers who understood and interpreted our vision and ensured that projects were not only delivered on time, but complied with contractual details and specifications. For example, after our inauguration in 2007 our team raised queries about a company, which we inherited at the Ibom Airport. They wanted proof from the company that they had the skill and technology to handle the airport contract. After series of meetings, where they pointed out that the quality of their work (which was then at ten per cent level of completion) had various failures, they absconded in the night. They apparently discovered that it was not business as usual, and that they could not meet up with our standard.
Let me state that Akwa Ibom State is a place where governance in the last six years has become synonymous with uncommon transformation. When we assumed office in 2007, we inherited a state begging for transformation. We met a pedestrian state, which was the reservoir for house-helps and a haven of hewers of wood and drawers of water. Everything cried for change, and we folded our sleeves in positive anger and went to work. Today, we have proven that the difference between performance and nonperformance is imagination.
We have aggressively transformed not only the length and breath of the state but most importantly the psyche of our people.
Poverty Alleviation
The South African legend, Nelson Mandela, once said, “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice.” Alleviating the citizenry from poverty is rendering justice to the people. Our transformation efforts, therefore, was channeled to programmes and policies aimed at reducing poverty and empowering our people. Records have it that more people die of hunger than health related challenges like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Thus it is sacrosanct for government to direct its efforts towards alleviating poverty.
In Akwa Ibom State, we have an impressive record of poverty alleviation programmes. We have developed robust programmes and policies with the aim of empowering our people and reducing poverty in the social system. Like Charles Darwin said, “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”
These noble programmes include the provision of micro-credit schemes for small and medium scale businesses; the provision of grants to women for Agriculture and Small scale businesses; the training and empowerment of youths in Agriculture; the routine award of non-skilled contracts to the people of the state in order to empower them and re-distribute wealth. Through the Inter-ministerial Direct Labour Scheme, we have done over 4,000 projects including the renovation of school buildings, health centres, civic centres, water and electricity projects etc. More than one hundred of these projects have been completed in each of the 31 local government areas. The concept is to empower residents of the state by awarding these contracts to them. The aim is to alleviate poverty, enhance the lives of citizens and boost and expand the state economy.
Healthcare Services
The provision of qualitative healthcare services to the citizens is a task no responsible government can shirk. Only God knows how many people have died because of the dearth of medical facilities or inability to access medical care in the developing countries of this world. Sadly, though, many others travel long distances to receive medical care and this constitutes a health risk in emergencies.
One issue of grave concern in our country is the high rate of infant and maternal mortality. Many pregnant women, due to economic reasons, prefer traditional birth attendants. While the elderly, who do not have people to take care of them, pine away in bad health. As a government, we have shone the torch of transformation in this sector through the provision of free medical care for children, pregnant women and the aged in our society. We have also gone a step further to massively improve health infrastructures, build new health facilities where non existed, supplied drugs and medical equipment to health institutions to facilitate urgent interventions. Particularly work is at an advanced stage in our Ibom Specialist Hospital, while we have built and completed five new cottage hospitals, renovated many primary and secondary health institutions, built a Pediatric Ward in the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital and done a lot more than time would permit us to mention.
These efforts have yielded enormous result as we have not recorded any incident of polio in the state within the last five years, and the issue of infant and maternal mortality has been reduced by over 85 percent.
Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Education is not only about the impartation of knowledge, but also about societal continuity in preparing our children to inherit and utilize our legacies. It is therefore an important part of the social contract between the government and the citizenry.
The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26 asserts that, “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory.” This espouses the right of every citizen, poor or rich, to enjoy access to education of good quality, without discrimination or exclusion. It obliges governments to fulfill this expectation both legally and politically with respect to providing accessible education of good quality for all.
We also draw inspiration from the word of Walter Cronkite that “Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” Since 2008, education has been free and compulsory for all children resident in Akwa Ibom State from primary to senior secondary school. This has led to school enrolment being tripled. However, to enhance the quality of education, we provided a conducive atmosphere for learning by embarking on a massive renovation and construction of classroom blocks and provision of books and other learning kits. So far more than 2,500 school blocks have been rehabilitated and reconstructed.
The construction of the Ibom E-library, which is the first of its kind in West Africa was meant to complement our Free and compulsory Education Policy, and boost the ICT knowledge of our children. Available in the e-library are over 16 million e-documents composed of two million electronic books, which are fully downloadable, and over 14 million research e-journals. It also offers Internet services up to 5km radius and has mobile cybercafés to engage rural communities in ICT. Its main objective is to make Akwa Ibom State an ICT knowledge hub in the next five years.
Good governance ensures that the people are kept abreast of, and tap into, technological developments in the world. In fact, we have invested massively in this sector and the result abounds in engendered interest in ICT in the state.
In addition we established the Akwa Ibom State University and it commenced academic activities in 2009.
Provision of Infrastructure 
Within the last six years of my administration, we have transformed our State to one of the preferred destinations in Nigeria. We have constructed over 300 urban roads, over 20 bridges and four flyovers. We have tarred over 1,200 km of roads, out of which 300 km are Federal Roads. We believe that good roads are a right of the people and this right should not be mortgaged on the basis of whether it is a federal or state road.
We also completed the Ibom International Airport (which we met at site-clearing level), completed the first phase of Ibom Independent Power Plant (which we met at 65 percent level of completion) and partnered and built the Gas Plant (the first Private sector/government partnership gas plant in Nigeria). There is also the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Galleria with a 14 storey, 250 room capacity Five-State Hotel Complex and a 5,000 seater International Convention Centre, which is under construction. The Cineplex Part of the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre had since been completed and is in use.
In addition we have undertaken the electrification of almost all the communities in the State, reaching over 87 per cent coverage, while the national average is 19 percent and the African average is 5 percent. We have done over 4,000 Inter-ministerial Direct labour projects across all the Local Governments in the State as stated earlier.
In the whole, transformation is a duty and an obligation that is expected of every government. Akwa Ibom State has proven that government can work and that government can affect people positively through deliberate and consecutive all round transformation.
Let me share this with you. Hours before his assassination, Mahatma Ghandi, gave his son a piece of paper which he said contained the seven blunders of the world. These were: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principles.
I believe that at issue in providing good governance are these seven blunders. Wealth must come from work – not corruption. Pleasure should not be selfish – it must come with conscience. Knowledge without character leads to manipulation. Politics must be guided by principles because what is morally wrong cannot be politically right. Commerce must be run with the fear of God, because a good name is better than gold. Science should save life – not devise ways to destroy it. Worship should be in the sacrifice of self for the common good so that God is glorified – not in suicide bombing. To this list his grandson, Arum Ghandi, added an 8th blunder – “rights without responsibilities.” Let us exercise our rights as citizens with a responsibility to be our brother’s keepers.
Ladies and gentlemen, in past years people used to say that the Niger Delta States were collecting much money and doing little. Now people are saying that we have done so much that they wonder where the money is coming from.
Perhaps a story would explain our motivations to you better than everything I have said. A certain professor requested his students to undertake a study of some wayward, crime-inclined boys in the school’s neighbourhood. All the students came up with the conclusion that all the boys would end up in prison and would never amount to much. Twenty years after that study, another professor stumbled on the study and decided to find out what happened to those boys. He discovered that all of them made good and became successful lawyers, doctors, officers in the army etc. He called them one after the other, and asked them what turned their lives around. They all said it was one teacher.
The professor called the teacher and asked her, “How did you turn the lives of those bad boys around?” Surprised at the question she shrugged and said simply, “I do not know how I did it, all I know is that I loved those boys.”
How are we embarking on the uncommon transformation of my state? The best answer is that I love my people, I love this country, I love humanity. I was driven by anger at the plight of our people and the decayed infrastructure and the servitude of our children. The intention from the outset was never to gain accolades and praises. We were moved by love and compassion for the well being of our people. We were driven righteous indignation to reform our state. The love of our people and positive anger at the sorry state we met them impelled us to the heights we have attained; these are the secrets behind the Uncommon Transformation. It is why we have proven that Government can be a veritable agent of development and transformation. This is how our state has become a model State where Governance and Transformation meet.