How I Stopped The Oil Cabal – Senator Ahamadu Ali

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Now That Lamorde is on Board By MOSES GEORGE


Corruption in Nigeria is endemic, causing devastation, and leaving in its wake, disastrous consequences.The entrenchment of bad governance in Nigeria is basically as a result of endemic corruption. Unfortunately, corruption has become part and parcel of Nigeria’s socio-political history.
The collapse of the country’s first republic was instrumentally as a result of widespread corruption amongst the political class. Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, who led Nigeria’s first military coup in 1966, in his broadcast, soon after the coup, said this about the country’s first republic politicians; ‘’Our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10 percent, those that have corrupted our society and put the Nigerian political calendar back by their words and deeds.’’
We are all conscious of the fact that corruption has infiltrated every segment of Nigeria. This hydra-headed monster has, unfortunately, come to be almost accepted as a culture in our society.
Is it not despicable and ridiculous that after several years of its existence in Nigeria, Transparency International (TI), has ranked this country last, three times now, in its annual ranking of the most corrupt nations in the world? The truth is that there are only a few countries that have performed this badly
Corruption has thrived and unfortunately, will continue to thrive in the Nigerian society until it is confronted with all the seriousness and the sincerity it deserves.
Therefore, the appointment of Ibrahim Lamorde as the new boss of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), is a healthy development. This is fundamentally as a result of his antecedents and exploits as the Director of Operations of the Commission.
Against this background, so much is expected from the new EFCC helmsman. His experience at the Commission is indeed, a plus for him. As Director of Operations of the commission, he was , as a matter of fact the second in command and very instrumental to the success recorded by Nuhu Ribadu.
President Jonathan’s campaign promises and frequent outbursts to stamp out corruption must not be mere rhetorics. He owes the nation and perhaps himself, the duty to ensure that Lamorde succeeds. The truth is the success of his administration’s economic policies is tied to the degree of his commitment to the fight against corruption. No economic policy, no matter how sound and well articulated can succeed in a corruption-infested society.

ALHAJI UMORU MAIGARI SPEAKS ON NASARAWA STATE UNIVERSAL BASIC EDUCATION BOARD

Alhaji Umaru Maigari Executive Chairman Nasarawa State Universal Basic Education Board

For Alhaji Umoru Mairiga, the education sector is a familiar turf. He has taught in several schools for several years, until 1995 when he became the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education in the old Plateau State. When Nasarawa state was carved out of Plateau state, he became the pioneer Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education for the new state. It was Alhaji Mairiga who established the Nasarawa State Primary Education Management Board in 1997. After serving in several other ministries as Permanent Secretary, he became the Head of Civil Service in the state. When he retired from the service in 2002, he was appointed by former Governor Abdullahi Adamu as Chie of Staff. When Governor Akwe Doma came on board, Maigari was appointed as Special Adviser on education. The Governor saw the unhealthy state of things in SUBEB, he asked Maigari to go there and fix things up. Since then, Umoru Maigari has been working round the clock to get Nasarawa state SUBEB working properly. He spoke to Moses George, Editor-in-Chief in Lafia. Exerpts:

You have a program called school based management committees. Tell us about it?

Yes the school bases management committees are initiatives we introduced that is composed of local people… vulcanizes, mechanics, masons etc. We get these people involved in areas where primaries schools are located. These committees meet from time to time to deliberate on problems confronting schools in their areas. They take a wholistic look at the schools and call upon the school authority if anything is going wrong. That initiative has been a huge success. We have a Directorate of Social Mobilization that is responsible awareness creation. We encourage communities to do projects. Some of them have even built class rooms. We go out to do lots of advocacy that will stimulate parents to enroll their children in schools.

We have all come to accept that one of the major factors militating against development is corruption. What has been your effort in checking corruption in your agency?

First and foremost, we are lucky because we don’t have such cases in Nasarawa State Universal Basic Education Board. When we came on board in 2009, we met a lot of problems between teachers and banks. Education Secretaries, NUT or Headmasters procured facilities from banks for teachers. After securing these loans, monthly deductions… for instance, a teacher whose salary is twenty thousand naira could have seventeen thousand naira deducted from his monthly salaries leaving him with just three thousand naira. Some teachers even obtain loans from two or three places. For such teachers at the end of every month, they are left with almost nothing after deductions are made by the banks. So, this has affected their attitude to work because at the end of each working month, after various deductions by banks, they don’t really have a salary to take home. So as soon as we came in, I directed that a circular should be published that from that moment hence forth, Nasarawa state UBEB will no longer guarantee any loan. If any teacher wants to obtain a loan for whatever reason, such individual should go to the bank and make arrangements for such facility without involving the board. I met the Head of Service… by the way, I was Head of Service before I retired…..and I told him that workers in the Universal Basic Education Board are not part of the civil service….. So we are supposed to negotiate our own loans not in a centralized manner because we know the problems of the members of our staff. Another major problem was that if the worker obtains a loan, say, motor cycle loan of about ninety or a hundred thousand naira, few days later, such beneficiary will dispose it at thirty or fourty thousand naira. So, we had to stop all that because of such abuse. So with regards to the issue of financial improprieties that you mention in your question, let me inform you that here at Nasarawa State UBEB, it is very difficult for any member of staff to execute any kind of fraud. The monies we deal with are in four categories. We have the UBEC/UBE funds, the local government funds, state government funds and ETF funds. The ETF is one hundred percent federal government funds, it is an intervention funds for structures. The fund does not come all at once. It comes in percentage for projects. Right now, we have about three of such projects on ground. The process is really tight. They evaluate your books and inspect your projects, so there are really no loop holes for anyone to exploit for manipulations. Again, we do e-payments and you know that means less cash transactions. The UBEC/UBE fund is a yearly affair and it involves some kind of counterpart arrangement. For instance if UBEC is giving us ten million naira, the state also has to release a counterpart fund of equal amount. We have N1.9 billion from UBEC and another N1.9 billion from the state government. That is from 2008 to 2010 and you cannot use that money anyhow. That is about N800 million for 2008… so you have that money for that year and the project must be about 70 or 80 completed before you can assess the next fund. There must be a programme of action before you can have access to the money. You must give details of what you intend to do with all their money. So they are very thorough in their evaluations before they allow you to start assessing the money. As soon as you commence the project, they’ll send officers to monitor the projects and scrutinize your books to make sure that the money is being put into proper use. The local government fund is only salaries. We get the number of staff from the Education Secretaries, we check the PV’s and send them to local governments across the state. So during joint allocations, money is deducted from each local government in respect of salaries. So what we do here is, we pay them their salaries. Then of course, there is the subvention we receive from the state government for workshops, seminars, salaries and purchases of stationaries and maintenance of vehicles.

Everything sounds perfect That means that you don’t really need to make much effort with regards to ensuring that there is transparency all the way………..

I cannot compromise. I have zero tolerance for any kind of deceitful attitude. After putting in 35 in service, I have held several important positions and retired. I don’t think I need much amount of money. I am contented with what I earn, especially now that I am ageing.
With the coming on board of Almakura as Governor of Nasarawa state, what is going to be different in the state?
Well, I am not Al-makura. but based on his antecedents I expect his administration to usher in good things for the people of Nasarawa state. I think the man will embark on providing basic infrastructures that will provide respite for the people. I also think that he will give the education sector a new lease of life. I expect that the civil service will get a boost and the general level of poverty will be reduced. I know that Governor Al-Makura will certainly perform. I have known him for some time. I came into ABU in 1974, he came in the following year, that is 1975. We were staying in Akenzua hall in Samaru. We were always together. I could remember in those days after we had studied our books throughout the week, I would call him and say let us go to Sabongari on sightseeing. But we always make sure that we have N20 naira in our pockets so as to be able transport ourselves back in a bus. At ABU Tanko Al-Makura, apart from his studies was into article writing for newspapers and magazines. So right from that time I knew that Al- Makura apart from being an great scholar, was someone who had broad perception of life. He has held quite a number of leadership positions which has equipped him for this great responsibility that God has placed on him.

Let us take a look at some of the areas that you have been able to record some achievements since you took over as the head of this agency?

When we came in, the board was not functioning effectively. The system here was disjointed. The staff’s morale was at its ebb, there was no vibrancy at all. So we set our attention on the workforce, because you cannot achieve much with a demoralized staff. So I set out to inject some life into our staff through various initiatives. I went on visits to our offices to be able to interact with the staff and get first hand information on various problems of the board. Such unannounced visits paid off eventually because it gave me some insights that I really needed to push the board forward. We have made some progress in the area of mobility. We have been able to procure some vehicles, a gigantic generator, internet connectivity and so many other things too numerous to mention. We were able to achieve this much because we had money at our disposal when we came in 2009. The money was the 2005 to 2007 counterpart funds of N1.3 billion. It was paid and then the corresponding grant of N1.3 billion was also paid. In line with our action plan, we were able to carry out lots of workshops from 2005 through 2010. We supplied text books to all the primary schools in the state. Before we came on board, for more than 5 years there was no chalks for teachers. Teachers had to buy chalks. So we solved that problem by making bulk purchases of chalks, dusters, continuous assessment books, lesson plan books and registers. We purchased lots books…. supplementary readers, books on English language, mathematics, Intro technology and so on. We have constructed several class room blocks.

You have survived successive administration. What is the secret?

There is really no secret. It is just that in whatever I am doing, I try to be transparent and straightforward. I have always told my staff, especially when changes occur in government, that as civil servants, such changes does not affect you because you are not political appointees. As civil servants you must have allegiance to every government that comes. You must work with that government to make it succeed. While you are doing that, people are watching.

BOKO HARAM CAN BE CRUSHED- Niger State Police Commissioner


Mr. Mike E.O Zuokumor is the Commissioner of Police in Niger State. A shrewd, godly man, quiet yet lively officer . He is an alert and intelligent professional. His accomplishments in crime detection, prevention and busting are legendary. Against the backdrop of the senseless and criminal violence that erupted following the Presidential election, the people of Niger state have been wary of the high rate of insecurity in the country, which includes, the unabated bomb blasts that has ravaged the country, including parts of Niger State. But the CP says not to worry, the police is on top of the situation.
Since he assumed duty in the state two years ago, he had made the state very hot for men of questionable characters through effective policing . His landmark success of making people of Niger state to sleep with their two eyes closed without fear has earned him accolades across the country. The peaceful manner in which the command under his leadership was able to evacuate the infamous Darulsalam sect in Masha village of Mokwa LGA sometimes in 2009 is still fresh in our minds.
During the April elections, he was posted to Borno state, the home base of the dreaded Boko Haram to conduct elections. He was able to accomplish his mission despite all odds.
In this interview Mike Zuokumor spoke with our reporter, Mijinyawa Siraj. Excerpts: \

You were posted to Borno state during the conduct of the elections as the commissioner of police on election duties. How would you describe your experience there?

Well, I have gone to Borno state and I am back. I don’t know whether you read my interview in the Sun newspaper on Sunday. It is the same police work. But the security challenges in Borno state, is more than any other one in the country right now. Because that is the home of the Boko Haram sect. These people believe that everything about western education, government and all these things are wrong. And they want to replace it forcefully by their own methods. They claim to be muslims and they want to replace it by force of arms, for that reason, they have been killing people, police, soldiers and sometimes, they have death list of people who have offended them. They go after them and kill them. They don’t even spare the traditional muslims and Islamic clergymen . They go after traditional rulers as well. During the election, indigenous reports indicated that they e vowed that there would be no election in the state and I happened to be the commissioner of police on election duties in that state. Well, I also vowed that there must be elections. Democracy is the best form of government and because we are in a democracy, we can have the best government. I think Nigeria is enjoying democracy, and if Nigeria is enjoying democracy, Borno state should not be an exception. During the first election, so many policemen were killed. The second election, one policeman was killed but we arrested the culprit and recovered the gun that was used in the crime…. that was is the governorship election. That of the House of Assembly, no policemen was killed. We were able to overcome all the challenges.

How were you able to curtail their activities during your stay there as the election duty compol?

Could you believe that during the 5 days I stayed in Borno state as the commissioner of police on election duty, there were no attacks by men of the Boko Haram which I was told was very unusual. At least, they struck and killed people on daily basis. But for five good days that I was there, no case of attack was reported. One of your colleagues in the press called me to inform me that this is the first time in recent times that Boko Haram did not kill for five days. That is all history now, we thank God. .
Still on Boko Haram, their activities have taken a fearful

Don’t you think it is possible for security agencies to curtail their activities once and for all?

It is possible, but there are some problems in Borno state which I noticed. I observed that because of the fear they have already instilled into people’s minds, even if they see a crime committed, nobody will report to the police or any other security agency. If you arrest them, the eye witness will not come to court to testify. If they come to court, the Boko Haram people will attack them. 1 don’t think there is any judge that will even convict them. They have instilled so much fear into the people. But I believe that our security agencies have what it takes to curtail their activities head on and stop them totally. Yes, It is possible.

You said it is possible to curtail their activities, but why is it taking so long to do so?

I don’t know what you really mean. It all depends on strategy. Some arrests were made during my duty in Borno state and even some were killed. The information we got while I was there, we left it for the security agencies to follow up. But I think that they can be crushed. It only needs concerted efforts,with everybody playing their roles to ensure that Boko Haram is totally wiped out. Like I said, it should be done with the support of everybody and it will all be history in Borno state and other places as well.
Do you think Boko Haram can be stopped, if you are contacted to give your own opinion?

Look, my friend, Boko Haram members are not spirits, neither are they magicians. They are human beings like any other human being. They operate like the urban guerillas and I think you heard of the Red brigades in those days and other such groups in Germany and other places. When you have those ones in mind, you can then have an idea of how the group operates. They have religious coloration but they are more or less urban guerillas. But they can still be wiped out. They operate mostly on motorcycles and one of the ways out is to have motorbikes completely banned in the urban centers in Borno. They should ban them and then intelligence work has to be done. We need more intelligence operators so that the innocent man should not suffer unjustly, while the real criminals walk away free.

When you were posted to Borno state for electoral duties, were you in any way scared?

Scared? No I was not.Well when I was posted to Borno State, I prayed about it and I told myself that God wanted me to be in Borno state, that is why I was posted there. As a police officer that is committed to serve anywhere, I finally told myself that it was God that chose Borno state for me and I tried as much as possible to put in my best to ensure smooth conduct of the elections. And now, I am back to Minna. I thank God for his mercies.To answer your question, I was nott scared at all because as a police officer, you should be prepared to serve anywhere at anytime.

You are over two years in Niger state as police commissioner. Do you regret serving in Niger state for any reason?

Not at all! Honestly, the people of Niger state are very wonderful people. They are friendly and very honorable people. I certainly do not have any regrets.

In early part of your posting to Niger state, you were confronted with challenges of kidnapping and evacuation of Darul-salam. How were you ableto overcome those challenges?

We faced them squarely and wiped them out. All those kidnaping cases that came up, we tackled them without paying them any kobo. Anybody that was kidnaped, we were able to rescue them and we got those people to face the wrath of the law. One or two of the gangs were not arrested though, but most of them were brought to book. Even somebody that kidnaped himself was arrested. We dealt with that issue in a manner that over four thousand residents of Darul-salam were evacuated, without the loss of any lives. You know another sect called the to Islahuddeen have been worrying this state for a long time particularly along the Maitumbi axis. In the past, so many people have died, many commissioners had came and gone but the problem was still there all this period but we have been able to go into the matter and the problem has been solved.

Your two years of policing Niger state as the commissioner, one would be bold to say you have left a landmark in terms of bringing down the crime rates. I What is the magic?

It is just doing the normal polices work. Like I told you earlier, the people of Niger state are very wonderful people. They are security conscious. Niger state people are very educated people. They have people who are politically matured. Have you heard of any political assassinations since the last two years that I have been here? I have never heard of one man that had been killed and they now say that this man is the one that killed him. I could remember that even the Chief Servant has been preaching the conduct of a free and fair election. I’m proud of the people of Niger state.

Do you regret coming to Niger state?

No! I’m happy I came to Niger state. When I came here, people said maybe it was some kind of punishment. If I hadn’t come to Niger state, I wouldn’t have met a man called the chief servant. I never knew that a governor was even a servant. If I had not come here, I wouldn’t have met you (Sirajo). Coming to Niger state, I met so many people and Niger state is a blessed state. And you know that Niger state had been making great leaders in Nigeria. So that is the purpose why I’m here. And I’ve met some of the leaders and they are very humble people. I’m very happy to serve in Niger state as the Commissioner of police.
Can you tell us your happiest moments in Niger state in the last two years of your staying here?

I have so many happy moments in Niger state. Unless the one that I’m not . happy about.The sad moments of my life in Niger state was when we had so many programmes in a particular day. One was to take place in Kontagora, another in Suleja, and also one in Minna. The other ones that were to take place in Minna and Suleja , we advised one of the parties to postpone their own and they took offence, and insisted they would still hold their programme. Because we provided them with security, the likely danger we expected was averted, there was no problem at all. I was pleased with the way things were going. My deputy who was at Suleja even said that the command deserved an award. We were all quite happy with success of the programmes. But towards the end, somebody threw a bomb, so many innocent Nigerians died. It pained me so much. Luckily there were clues and some people were arrested. But sadly, the main man who committed the offence escaped. That is one of the saddest moments of my life.

THE ENDLESS TRIAL OF MAJOR AL-MUSTAPHA By Moses George

Major Hamza Al-Mustapha


The world has had it share of cases that dragged on endlessly with no end in sight. Looking at it from a global perspective, there has been several of such cases. The famous trial of Socrates, the Greek philosopher is a typical example: he was charged in 399 BC with neglecting the gods of the state and introducing new divinities, a reference to the daemonion, or mystical inner voice, to which Socrates often referred. He was also charged with corrupting the morals of young people and leading them away from the principles of democracy. Socrates trial lasted until 469AD.
Another celebrated trial was that of Galileo, the Italian physicist and astronomer in 1633; the Salem Witchcraft trial of 1692; the infamous Alger Hiss trials of 1949; the apartheid trial of Nelson Mandela of 1963; the O.J. Simpson trial. The list is endless.
However, the most recent one that comes to mind is the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, a former president of the Republic of Serbia from 1989 to 1997 and later, president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (see Serbia and Montenegro) from 1997 to 2000.
In 2001 he was extradited to the United Nations war crimes tribunal at The Hague to face trial on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo during the wars of Yugoslav succession in the 1990s. The trial went on for five years until Milosevic had an heart attack and died in prison before the trial could be completed.
Nigeria has had similar cases in the past. The trial of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and 28 members of the Action Group for treasonable felony is a typical example. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the late Afro beat maestro and late Gani Fawehinmi at different times went through snail-speed judicial onger than necessary.
The trial of Hamza Al-Mustapha, a major in the Nigerian Army and a former Chief Security Officer( CSO) to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, (who died in mysterious circumstances on June 7, 1998) has attracted condemnation from every section of the society. This trial is perhaps, the longest trial in the history of the country. Al-Mustapha was put on trial with former Lagos State Police Commissioner James Danbaba, former Zamfara State military administrator Jibril Bala Yakubu and former head of the Aso Rock mobile police unit, Rabo Lawal.
They were charged for attempted murder of The Guardian publisher, Mr Alex Ibru, and complicity in the murder of Kudirat Abiola, wife of Chief MKO Abiola, who also died in mysterious circumstances in July, 1998, while under detention for declaring himself president following the annulment of an election by the Ibrahim Babangida administration, which he was widely believed to have won.
In October of 1998, Al-Mustapha appeared in court alongside Mohammed Abacha and others. At the trial, Sergeant Barnabas Jabila Mshelia (aka Rogers), the principal prosecution witness made some confessions that implicated Major Hamza Al-Mustaphaha
. Among other things, Barnaba Jabila told Justice O.A. Williams of Lagos High Court that late Abraham Adesanya, late Chief Bola Ige, Chief Segun Osoba, Chief Alex Ibru and late Hajia Kudirat Abiola were all considered to be enemies of the state by the Abacha administration. He claimed that he was responsible for the death of Kudirat Abiola, but merely followed the “obey without complain” tradition of the military. He confessed that he carried out those crimes because he was obeying instructions from Major Al-Mustapha who was his superior.
But in a swift turn around in later testimonies,, Barnabas Mshelia, told the court that the confessions he made earlier was because two former Ministers of Justice (including the late Bola Ige) and the former Lagos State Attorney General, visited him in prison and solicited his cooperation to implicate the suspects in return for material rewards. This submission offered by the principal witness , obviously contradicted the previous one, thereby, discrediting the entire allegations.
What has continued to baffle most people is that despite this development which saw the release of Mohammed Abacha and others, Al-Mustapha incarceration has continued without any clear explanation 12 years after he was apprehended..
Curiously, pleas to successive administrations for amnesty for the release of the major has fallen on deaf ears giving baffled Nigerians the cause to conclude that there is more to t the Al-Mustapha case than they are being told.
Amnesty is not new in this country. Generous amnesty has been granted to several Nigerians in the past. Prominent among them were Odimegu Ojukwu and Yakubu Gowan. Others who benefitted from the gesture include; former militant leaders and agitators, Dr. Fredrick Fasheun, Ralph Uwazurike and Asari Dokubo. Dr. Fasheun was charged for the killing of police officers and other innocent people, while Asari Dokubo and Uwazurike were charged for treasonable offences
Dr. Fasheun, who is the the Odua Peoples Congress factional leader has at different times published newspaper adverts to make a passionate appeal for the release of Al-Mustapha and the others.
In a similar development, a coalition of ethnic nationalities in the country pleaded for an unconditional release of Major Al-Mustapha.In a joint statement issued at a press conference by Dr. Fredrick Fasehun of OPC; Alhaji Shettima Yerima, the leaders of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum; Dokubo Asari of the Niger-Delta Volunteers Force; and Comrade Bright Ezeocha of the Igbo Youth Congress, all condemned the prolonged saying that it is unfortunate that he had been denied justice in his own country.
The leaders of the group called on President Goodluck Jonathan to invoke the prerogative of mercy clause in the constitution to grant amnesty to Major Al-Mustapha who has suffered so much in the last 12 years. The meeting which attracted over 500 members of different ethnic nationality groups was held at Century Hotel, Ikota, Lagos.
Alhaji Ahmed Jauro is a public commentator. He spoke to National Mail recently in Yola, saying that;‘the prolonged detention of Al-Mustapha contradicts the Nigeria’s government’s position as a signatory to the United Nation, Commonwealth, African and West African Charters, Conventions and Resolutions on Human Rights, Torture, Detention and Imprisonment.’
Alhaji Jauro wondered why Nigeria’s government turned a blind eye to this injustice and disgrace, especially, when the witnesses brought in by the state had made contradictory statements that debunked the allegations leveled against him and the others. Alhaji Jauro, therefore called on President Goodluck Jonathan to use his office to ensure that the Al- Mustapha is released immediately.
It would be recalled that late President Yar’ Adua’s administration granted amnesty to the Niger Delta militants, despite committing treason against the State. The militants wreaked so much havoc on the nation’s economy and caused so much apprehension in the country when they embarked on all kinds of economic sabotage, kidnaping and large-scale killings of innocent people.
Considering the gravity of their offence against the allegations leveled against Al-Mustapha, lots of Nigerians cannot help but wonde, what is the rationale for keeping him and others in detention for 12 years!
This has sparked up public agitations for the release of Al-Mustapha. In September 2010, thousands of agitators clamouring for his freedom staged a peaceful rally in the ancient city of Kano. The protesters described his continuous detention as inhuman and a breach of the rule of law.
To drive home their points, the agitators carried a several ways, but, it has brought untold hardship to his family.
In an interview she granted to the press recently, Hajia Hafsat Al-Mustapha recounted how the whole ordeal started one day when she was in school with her kids. Someone called to inform her that their house in Kano was surrounded by about 20 armoured and military vehicles. Her husband was supposed to be in Enugu, but another call was put through to her informing her that her husband was actually brought in by the soldiers in handcuffs.
He was obviously arrested in Enugu and brought down to Kano. After ransacking every part of the house, the following morning, he was taken to Nguru in Yobe state. After that, Hajia Hafsat lost track of her husband for about 6 months.
Hajia Hafsat who described her husband as a compassion person said that each time she goes on visits to see him in prison, she was always subjected to all kinds of scrutiny. She fills forms and present them along with 2 passport photographs and she waits, sometimes, for hours before she is allowed to see him.
Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, who has been described as fine and extremely intelligent officer by his colleagues in the military was Abacha’s Chief Security Officer from 17 November 1993 – 8 June 1998. But before this time, he had served as Abacha’s Aide-d-Camp when the later was Chief of Army Staff As Nigerians kept wondering why Major Hamza Al-Mustapha is still in detention after 12 years, the Lagos State Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Mr. Pedro Lawal (SAN) made a revelation at a press briefing in Lagos, attributing the delay in the trial to applications made by Al-Mustapha’s lawyer, Mr. Olalekan Ojo. Mr. Lawal hinted that the trial would have been concluded in 1999 when it first commenced but for the series of diverse applications filed by his lawyer which dragged the case as far as the Supreme Court before it was returned to the lower court.
He the Lagos State government is not responsible for the delay, claiming that a good number of the applications were filed by his lawyer to move the case to higher courts, even when the witnesses were ready.
He also attributed the delay to the absence of some of the prosecution witnesses, whom he said had either been transferred or dead. He also hinted that other factors includes;that lack of cooperation between the trail judge, defense and prosecution lawyers
Lawal submitted that ,”If the three do not cooperate, there is no way a speedy trial can be done”,
He said that Al-Mustapha was still standing trial before Justice Ayoka Dada of the Lagos High Court for the alleged murder of Alhaja Ku

LOCAL GOVTS. REQIURES A BETTER DEAL

For over sixty years, they have either been created with such names as native authorities, district councils, town councils, local governments, municipal councils, and recently in some states, they have been created local council development areas. Through these decades, local governments have never been autonomous in the real sense of the word. Instead, this tier has suffered from a lopsided federal arrangement.
The concept of local government as an integral part of a federal system is to provide the people a real government in their own domains for the purpose of development. They are expected to serve as essential instruments for the performance of basic services in the areas of chieftaincy, marriages, schools, primary health care delivery, sanitary inspection, town planning, etc.
Nigeria’s 774 local government councils are not really operating as governments, rather, they have become mere appendages or departments of state governments due to role and constitutional crisis.
The 1999 constitution which is a legacy of theAbdulsalami Abubakar important factors into consideration in its provisions on local councils as an important tier of government. These flaws and others have placed councils across the country in very disadvantaged position that has in turn, make them ineffective to the detriment of the people for whom they were created.
Regrettably, local governments have degenerated into bastions of corruption, where council chairmen are overwhelmed by the millions of naira that accrues to councils monthly from the federation account.
Like the presidents and governors, chairmen of councils appoint numerous supervisory councillors, special advisers and special assistants. Maintaining such extensive and bogus political structures increases the recurrent expenditures.
The constitution should therefore, be amended to give local government councils the autonomy to operate. Measures should also be put in place to check the excesses of council chairmen.

YAR’ ADUA SPEAKS ON INTERNAL WATER TRANSPORTATION IN NIGERIA

The river Niger stretches along a distance of 4,200 kilometers. It is the third longest river in Africa. For centuries, it has served very important purposes ranging from being an important part of Nigeria’s economic system to the provision of water for domestic and irrigation purposes.
With the intention of realizing the great potentials inherent in the river, the Federal Government flagged off the dredging of the river on 10th September 2009.
Government’s commitment to the development of Nigeria’s inland water ways manifested not only in the dredging of the Niger, but in the construction of river ports. Presently, a port is being constructed in Baro and Oguta. Plans for the construction of the Lokoja port is on the way. There are plans to construct more ports and jetties in several other towns along rivers Niger and Benue.

The agency responsible for the direct executing of government’s policies on inland water transportation is the National Inland Water Authority, NIWA.
In this interview, NIWA’s Managing Director Architect Ahmed Yar’ Adua, mni, a former Secretary to the Katsina State Government spoke with Moses George, National Mail’s Editor-in-Chief on several issues relating to inland water transportation in Nigeria. Excerpts:
Let us start from here. What impact would you say that you have been able to make since you assumed office as the Managing Director of the National Inland Water Authority?
Let me first and foremost welcome you to my office. Any organization of this magnitude is certainly not a one man show. It is a collective responsibility. So I cannot say that I am responsible for this success or that. I work with lots of people who make various imputs that bring about the results you see. As an authority, in the last two years we have really forged forward towards achieving the mandate that set up National Inland Water Authority. Let me quickly add that we couldn’t have done this without the backing of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
I understand that the Federal Government has approved the construction of river ports in some towns along the River Niger. Could you shed more light on this?
Well, inland ports are part of the infrastructures on the water ways. So what the Federal Government is doing now is providing these infrastructures along the first phase. Really, these dredging we are doing is just like a phase in the lower parts of river Niger. So we are starting a port in Baro, Lokoja, Onitsha, then a port in Oguta, with the intention to link the Oguta lake with river Niger in the future. So far that is what we have on the ground. But of course, there are future proposals for a port in Idah, a port in Agenebode, then a port along the route of Patani to Warri. In the other phases, there are plans to construct a port in Yenagoa, a port in Degama. On the river Benue, a port in Makurdi, a port in Numan. Then on the upper part of river Niger, a port in Jebba and so on. The construction of these ports must be done in phases because, they are capital intensive. You cannot build a port with less than 2 billion naira. That is a lot on money.
We understand that the contract for the construction of the Lokoja port was awarded to a contractor and about N800 million was paid as mobilization Some how, the contractor reportedly disappeared into thin air without fulfilling his own side of the bargain. What is the true picture of the Lokoja port project?
Well, I don’t know the word thin air. All I can tell you is that a contract was awarded and the mobilization was paid to the contractor and the contractor did star work there. If you go to the site, you’ll see… Well the site is not on the road, you have to go inside. It is about four hundred plus meters from the main road. Right from the road, you will see the filling that the contractor started towards building an access road. Yes indeed, work was started, but the company was put under receivership, of course, the term of the agreement is when a company is put under receivership, automatically it is terminated. So we terminated the contract and now we have written to the Receivers, that is Diamond Bank….. Diamond Bank. We are discussing with them to get back the money, I cannot remember the exact figure now, but it is something like… What we are expecting from them is about N400 million naira. So they are working on that. But the issue of disappearing into thin air, I don’t know anything about it. All I know is that we are in contact with the Receivers, that is Diamond Bank. Meanwhile, we are on the process of re-awarding that contract. Due process is not something you just achieve in a day, but we have earlier on selected some contractors….we intend to make it an open tender. The 2011 budget has made a provision N 2 billion for Lokoja port. We intend to take it up as soon as it is okay to do so.
The dredging of river Niger, from Lot 1 to Lot 5 is certainly a healthy development for inland water navigation in the country.. One would expect some skeletal transportation services to have commenced……
You see George, there is a lot of misconception about inland water transportation. It is actually supposed to be a private-driven business. So all we are doing here is trying to encourage and talk with private business people and investors to come into the inland water transportation sector. We have had a lot of seminars and conferences. Even few weeks ago, we had an international conference in Onitsha where we talked with traders and some people from Belgium and so on about the immense benefits of inland water transportation. Meanwhile as an authority, we are trying to provide some of these services to show that these things are real and that there are several benefits. We are working towards trying to prepare at least two 45 seater- passenger water bus to which we intend to lease out to private operators to run from Lokoja to Onitsha and from Onitsha to Warri. We believe that if we do that, it will show people that there are benefits.
At the same time, we are also talking with big time transporters, land transporters to see how they can work with us.
Are you saying that NIWA is actually not suppose to provide water transportation?
Well, we are. But we are regulators as at now and still serve as operators. Therefore, what we do now is private-public partnership so that there will be some benefits out of it at the end of the day. But again, what we are doing is that we are also talking to these big companies. Recently, about two months ago actually, we had one company who pushed in a barge from Onitsha to Lokoja. That was about two months ago. Before this time two months ago, it is not possible to bring in a barge. It was the dredging that made that possible. What they did was simply to follow the dredged channel. On your way to Abuja, you can actually see one of them at the Jamata bridge. Their plans is to transport cement…. cement from Obajana to Onitsha. Four other barges are on the way to transport cement. That will be about 30 trailers at a time……. There is another company that we are now talking with, I think the name of the company is Sterling Oil. We are talking with them so that they can move their crude oil through inland waters from Imo to Warri and from there to the open sea. So you can see that we are actually not just sitting down here doing nothing. We are also talking to investors.
What are the prospects of inland water transportation in Nigeria?
The prospects are bright. Water transportation is cheaper than land transportation. I spoke of this
company that is transporting 30 trailers from Obajana to Onitsha. Now if they bring in their barges, it would take them say 3,4,5 hours to move their goods from here to Onitsha. Can you imagine the logistics nightmare of taking 30 trailers from here to Onitsha? That is an obvious benefit. So with time we will come to see that it more convenient and cheaper to move heavy goods through water. Go to countries where they have similar inland water, like the Nile here in Africa…….em….. go to Congo, go to Europe…… There is water connecting Germany, Sweden and so on. In the United States, they have this..ehm …. What is it called…. the Missiispi river and then, there is the Tennessee and so on. They are using the inland water to move from one state to another. In Nigeria, God has endowed us with water ways with which you can connect almost 28 states. All you need to do is to dredge it and keep it okay for water transportation. It is actually going to cost lots of money, but we have started .Once this is done, we will be able to link up 28 states of this country. By the time our inland water ways is up and running, and the rail system is put into shape, I can assure you that it would certainly make much impact on the economy of this country.
What do you think of the Federal Government’s policy on inland water transportation?
In any project or program, there are always constraints and problems.The policy of government is to bring inland water transportation as a connecting link to other forms of transportation. For example, the plan now for this transportation policy is to have a port in Lokoja, you have a port in Baro and a port in Onitsha,then you will now have a connection link with railway. They are trying to bring up the Baro railway. So there you have a connection link. In Lokoja, you also have a connection link and so on. Now connect all these again to the road system…. So there is an integrated transportation system in the country. So all these years … Well, there was Inland Water Department since in the 1950’s. This administration now seem to really focus on the policy of integrating inland water transportation into the overall transportation system in the country.
Is there any possibility of constructing jetties by NIWA before the actual construction of ports in areas earmarked for such projects?
We certainly do have plans to construct jetties. We know that it cost a lot of money to build ports and not only that, people need these jetties… For example in Lokoja, we have a direct connection between Ganaja and Shintaku. It is a very important point. Every day, people move in and out. So you need these kind of… Some of these points are even bigger. For instance Ibi connection point.. Ibi to Wukari, you can imagine the number of traffic that pass through that place. Go to Pategi, the connection from Niger State to Kwara state. They are so many. If you go to Idah, the connection from Idah to Agenebode is very important there. When you look at it, in as much as the Federal Government is providing these ports….. these ports are for long term purpose. well, what we are going to do as an authority, is to provide small medium sized jetties and landing points to the people where there are these kind of connections between two communities. So that is what we have started last year. Presently, there is a jetty we are doing at Buruku and another one in Pategi. We intend this year to have some jetties in Idah, Agenebode, Ndoni and so many other places. We are thinking of providing four or five of these kind of jetties and landing points. They are important. Jetties, for those……eh…….in the water sides, jetties are like bus stops, so you need to have these bus stops for the people. Well that is our plan.
People do not seem to understand how dredging works. They only see a machine drawing sand from the river and then, pours it back into the same river again. To some people it seems like a vicious circle.. How does dredging works?
What we have in the contract is that the channel is not necessarily in the middle of the river. In some places, river Niger is almost 2 kilometers wide. In some places the river is almost 20 meters deep. So what we really want is a dredged channel of 2.5 meters dept. So that a barge of 2meters ………… Em..em …can pass through. Now, in bringing out the sand in those places we are dredging, there is a provision in the contract to pour out the sand at least 300 meters away from the center of the channel. Now, 300 meters in some places means the bank of the river. In other places, 300 meters away from the channel means the sand goes right back into the water. Of course, one may just say that the sand will come back right into the channel. Yes with time the sand will come back. Dredging is a continues process. It is not like road construction. Rivers are dynamic
From all that you have said so far, getting inland water navigation going smoothly is indeed capital intensive. The benefits at the end of the end of the day, does it justify its huge costs?
Yes. Let me ask you a question also, how much do you think it will cost to construct a 570 kilometers road?.
I would not know since I am not conversant with that area…(General laughter)
Well try and find out George and I assure you that you will be shocked at your findings. What we are doing is like providing a 570 kilometer road with only 30 to 40 billion naira. So, just go and make that analysis yourself and you will realize that the cost of dredging is nothing compared to if you are to provide a road of that distance. How much do you think is the cost of Lokoja to Abuja road which is just how many kilometers… ?I think its about one hundred and ninety something kilometers from the Airport junction in Abuja to Lokoja. So how much do you think it will cost to do that express way. So what we are providing is 570kilometers. What is 30 or 40 billion naira if you are going to provide a physical road of that distance. So on that note, I will rest my case. (General laughter)
Lokoja is playing host to the headquarters of NIWA. So far, has Lokoja been a good host?
Indeed it is. Lokoja is an obvious choice for the headquarters of the NIWA. The town is located in the heart of inland water transportation in Nigeria being the confluence of rivers Niger and Benue. I believe that NIWA is gaining a lot from being in Lokoja and the same thing could be said about Lokoja too. This is a federal government agency and the Kogi state government, being our host is responsible for our security. So what ever we are doing, we relate with the governors of that particular state. For instance as we are doing the dredging, we have contacted all the state governors. This dredging we are doing now covers 8 states…we at one point or the other are in touch with all the state governors in these 8 state. We are in touch with security agencies.Like I said earlier, we are always in contact with the state governor here in Lokoja. Certainly, if I stay in your house and you are my host……so you see, it is the same thing. We have a very good relationship with our host, the Kogi state government. Honestly, the government has indeed been there all the way and we are indeed grateful to them. At Idah we have had talks with the traditional ruler and they are with us and we always visit and confer with them in all our activities. The local people here also, we have good relationship with them. There is this fishing festival that we sponsored and we have also embarked on some community projects as well.
In a nut shell, what are your achievements since you assumed office here?
Like I said earlier on, what we do here is a collective responsibility. It is not about me or any other person for that matter. Whatever we do here at NIWA, we do it collectively, you know, conferring with the senior management, board and the supervising ministry. But then, as an authority in the last two years, we are lucky and God in his own infinite wisdom has made it that it is in our time that this dredging came to fruition. This is something that has been going on in the last 40 years or there about. This authority was a department under the Federal Ministry of Transport. It was converted to an Authority mainly for this dredging and inland water transportation in 1998. Since then, we have been battling to get this dredging project started. It was only last two years that God in his infinite wisdom granted that when we are here steering the affairs of NIWA that these things started happening and we are very proud of that. Such an achievement is something that one will tell his grand children that it was when I was there that this thing started happening. Let me also point out that in the last two years we have been able to improve the relationship between the authority and the communities around. Through the support of the Federal Government, we have been able to bring out the issue of inland water transportation such that you gentlemen of the press recognized what we did and gave us an award. Well, before this time, the authority has never had this kind of exposure, but now it is something we are collectively achieving.
How far do you intend to take NIWA in terms of achievements?
Well, we will do what we can to ensure that inland water transportation becomes a reality. Personally, I will put in my best to see that we achieve that goal. If you are doing something, you should have a passion for it. I am very passionate about realizing the authority’s objectives. So we believe that inland water transportation can work and it will be of real help to our economy. It will touch every facet of our economy, like wealth creation, employment generation…and so on……. It will open up commercial activities.. We have seen it all over the world. We have visited so many countries. Some of them are not better than us, but they have done it. I can assure you that we can do it too.
At a point in your life, you were the Secretary to Katsina State Government. Today, you are here as the Managing Director of NIWA. You never had any thing to do with internal water navigation and all that. At the beginning of your appointment into this office, was it a case of a square peg in a round hole?
The whole thing is about contract administration and….. I am an architect for quite some years now. In the civil service, I rose to the rank of a director. We are the pioneers in my state. With all modesty, I can say that I participated in building almost all the major structures in Katsina state. One way or the other, I was part of it. I became a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works. As a Permanent Secretary with other engineers, we constructed so many projects in Katsina.I think up to 1000 kilometers of roads. We constructed a runway, an airport runway, the longest in the country. We constructed a university. So I have actually gathered a lot of experience along the way. As a Perm Sec and Secretary to the government, as a director, as a project manager I have picked up some experience in administration. With all these exposure, when I came here I just picked up some books about marine engineering and read them for about 2 months. Well there are other things I already knew, you know.. em…. Like contract administration and all that. And again, you need to know the basics and the rest is your ability to co-ordinate and motivate the rest of the staff in the organization towards realizing a common objective.
Generally speaking what is your relationship with the Federal Ministry of Transport as your supervising ministry?
Well as the custodian of our policy direction, they provide all that we require from them. Each time I pass a memo to them, they give it prompt attention…the 2 ministers I worked with and of course the present minister, I enjoyed very cordial relationship with them. I get my requests promptly granted whether I make such requests by phone or through writing. The staff at the ministry, they are absolutely wonderful. We have a good working relationship with all the directors. In fact, we have been able to improve the relationship between NIWA and the ministry in the last 2 years.
Finally, what should we expect from the Jonathan administration in the next 4 years?
We should expect consolidation of the achievements that the presidency of 2007 to 2011 have started. The consolidation of achievements in transportation, security and wealth creation. Well, let me talk of transportation. We should expect the consolidation of all the visions that are already being executed in the transportation sector, the railway, the inland water transportation and so on. Mr. President and his team has all it takes to provide Nigerians with purposeful leadership that will translate into physical development and better economy and better living conditions for Nigerians.
Thank you for speaking with us.
You are welcome.