As details emerged on the events surrounding Ibrahim Magu, the embattled acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Department of Security Service (DSS) on Monday barred journalists from having access to Conference Centre of the State House, where he being interrogated by a Presidential probe panel, over alleged corruption.
Journalists who cover Aso Rock, Nigeria's seat of power, were turned back by officers of the DSS as the newsmen tried to ascertain the state of affairs there.
“They said you people should excuse the use of this place for today,” a security official politely told reporters.
Magu was reported to have been arrested by the DSS over alleged fraud, including owning four property and using agents to transfer money abroad.
However, both the EFCC and the DSS have denied the reported arrested. Magu's commission said in a statement to went to honour an invitation.
"The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu on Monday, July 6, 2020, honoured an invitation by a Presidential Panel reviewing the activities of the EFCC, at the Banquet Hall wing of the Presidential Villa, Abuja," it said in a statement
“He was served the invitation to the Panel, while on his way to the Force Headquarters, Abuja for a meeting.
“The EFCC's boss was neither arrested nor forced to honour the invitation. A member of a legal team from the EFCC is also with him on the Panel.”
BUA Cement, one of West Africa’s largest Cement companies, says it is set to establish a three-million metric ton cement plant and 50 megawatts power plant in Guyuk and Lamurde local governments of Adamawa state in the North-Eastern region of Nigeria. This was revealed when the Chairman of BUA, Abdul Samad Rabiu, led the BUA Cement Management team on a courtesy call to the Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri in the Government House, Yola.
Speaking during the visit, Rabiu said preliminary findings showed that the two local governments of Guyuk and Lamurde were reputed to have good quality of limestone deposits and that BUA Cement was ready to begin the investment in the state. He added that the BUA would use new technologies to supply power to the proposed cement plant and communities, in addition to providing three thousand direct and five thousand indirect jobs.
The Chairman stressed that the Guyuk Cement Plant will be the major investment in the North-East by BUA and solicited the support of Governor Fintiri to set up the factory in Guyuk. Rabiu said the company made a decision to source its raw materials locally and had invested billions of dollars in various sectors across Nigeria and therefore urged the state government to support BUA to actualize the Guyuk Cement project. In addition, he praised the commitment of the governor within one year in office in many sectors of development despite the economic challenges in Adamawa.
Responding, Governor Fintiri said his administration's effort in exploring local contents had started yielding results and thanked BUA for showing interest in establishing the cement plant in Guyuk. He further assured the management team of BUA that government would make whatever is needed and provide the necessary support which will create enabling environment so that the BUA Cement company in Guyuk will become a reality.
He also expressed the readiness of the government to protect the investment once it is established and told them that his administration will maintain a good relationship with the company for the benefit of the state.
BUA is Nigeria’s second-largest Cement Producer by volume with cement plants in Sokoto and Edo States. The Company’s newest plant in Sokoto is expected to be operational in 2021. When completed, the Guyuk Cement Plant will bring BUA’s total capacity to 14million metric tonnes per annum.
In The Spotlight
Since it is now more than crystal clear that Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, founder of LoveWorld International and Christ Embassy Ministries, cannot set any limit to his own excesses and self-indulgent eccentricities, it is incumbent on the Nigerian government, to urgently do so, and rein him in. In the last few weeks, the world has been reacting to the gruesome murder of George Floyd, who died after a white police officer in Minneapolis kneeled into his neck during an arrest. For nearly nine agonizing minutes, deaf to Mr. Floyd’s repeated pleas of “I can’t breathe” and the growing alarm of the crowd, the officer choked the life out of him. The sad episode was captured on cellphone video.
And although we have seen videos of police brutality in the past, this one was especially chilling because of the nonchalance, the sense of complete indifference and disdain for human life that the police officer showed as he killed Floyd. The killing of George Floyd spurred a wave of rage, anguish, and protests across America and around the world. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, over 350 cities worldwide erupted in protests and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. From Pope Francis to players in all major European soccer leagues, the message was the same: racism in America has reached the breaking point and the time had come to address the systemic racism that underlies the social justice machinery of the fabled God’s own country, and how it hits hard on the black community.
Enter Pastor Chris with his perennial quest to seek public attention by raising his nuisance value. The quack pastor who revels and relishes controversy used his Sunday sermon to peddle insane conspiracy theories about the protests and black lives matter movement, saying the protests and riots that have engulfed the United States in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, were not about black lives. The so-called man of god said the protests were part of a grand conspiracy by some unnamed vested interests to get rid of the police and implant microchips into Americans and other citizens of the world with a view to controlling them.
““There are many who don’t know what is going on in the United States with the riots. It’s not about the guy that died, it is not about black folks, and it’s not about black lives matter. I will tell you what it is about. From protests to riots and then more people have died since then and the call for disbanding, abrogation, cancellation, defunding of the police. Why is that? (Do) you think it is limited to the United States? No, it is not. Why are they doing it? It is part of the game. It is simply because they want to come in with the alternative method for security. What is that alternative method? It is total control- RFID microchip. That is what it’s about.
“And so, you are going to find people getting rid of their police and you will see cities experimenting one after the other. The cities say no police, everyone must get the microchip. And with that, you are going to know everybody. They will know everyone and crime will be controlled and they have got the media to hype it and in spite of its failure, they will praise it like the best thing in the world. That is what it’s about,” Oyakhilome said in a video posting that went viral on social media.
While some will dismiss the odious act of Pastor Chris’ racism-denial as simply bizarre, desultory and even comical, the brazenness, callousness and audacity of his offensive ranting, are lacking in the refinement expected of a religious preacher in his station, and he is not showing himself as an exemplar of the discipline and candor that he is supposed to instill among his followers over an issue with such volatile sensitivity as racism. His glib talk and impolitic utterances ornamented with provocative and insulting grandiloquence has jarred black consciousness, leaving many to question what motives can be driving his loose tongue to unleash this belligerent streak of apparent madness.
By his words and actions, Pastor Chris does not seem to be prepared to change his wayward ways. Yet, he is better advised that the sophistication and cosmopolitan outlook of the black congregation over which he has his brief make them less unwilling to brook any act from a pastor that may well become a tacit endorsement of the global threat to the existence of black people everywhere on earth. Ironically, despite his stupidity and ignorant disposition, Pastor Chris has seldom been rebuked by the authorities, even when his words and actions transcend the realm of free speech and religious beliefs into fanning the ambers of racial discord and pandering to white supremacists by propagating wild conspiracy theories. But if the Nigerian authorities had paid scant regard to his unacceptable behavior up till now, this is the time to watch him closely, and appropriately call him to order.
In point of fact though, Pastor Chris is one of the most famous figures in Africa, with almost two million followers on Facebook and over one million followers on Twitter. His LoveWorld TV is the first 24-hour Christian satellite television network to broadcast from Africa to the rest of the world. The LoveWorld Convocation Arena in Lagos has a 17,000-capacity and is one of the largest churches in Africa. His daily devotional Bible called Rhapsody of Realities has been translated into 950 different languages. Pastor Chris also has two international Healing Schools in South Africa and Canada through which he rakes in millions of dollars, holding seasonal sessions that offer divine healing experiences to thousands. For an international man of god, he owns two private jets and a conspicuous fleet of luxury cars and a million-dollar mansion in Nigeria. His flamboyant lifestyle is in marked contrast to the piety of Jesus Christ’s disdain for material aggrandizement.
The public expectation was that a man of Pastor Chris’ standing would use his platform to advance the cause of racial just around the world, by embracing the debate about the legacy of slavery and white supremacist ideology, racism in policing, and the ongoing, widespread discrimination and segregation in American life; with a view to help America heal its racial divide. However, his fixation on humbug, quixotic self-adulation and predilection for riding roughshod over the sentiments of his fellow blacks clouded his judgment and robbed him of the moral high ground to be a leading voice for black folks who have suddenly found their voice in tragedy, and who now demand to be heard. His microchip theory about the black lives matter movement and the future of policing borders on insanity.
Shockingly, this is not the first time that Pastor Chris has courted controversy and probably won’t be the last, unless he is made to pay a price for running his mouth with reckless abandon. Being a Nigerian it is obvious though regrettable, that whatever verbiage he spews out causes a dent on the image of Nigeria and an embarrassment to Nigerians. This is a shame that not only stands condemned; such a public display of irresponsibility is unpalatable and unbecoming of a worthy religious cleric should have no place and must stop. The video of Pastor Chris parodying black lives matter, exposed in spectacular fashion; the amateurish, senseless, unimaginable, buffoonery of a self-seeking moron who chose to plumb the abyss of self-degradation by insulting the collective intelligence of blacks all over the world.
As the leader of a ministry whose followers cut across all races, Pastor Chris ought to have known that being black or brown does not make one less of a human being. Man’s intrinsic worth as being endowed with reason and freedom by His Creator is not fundamentally devalued by being classified under one race or another, except a warped sense of ontology does so. And it is this dubious elevation of artificial boundaries to an immutable truth that the American dream proposed to negate, when the founding fathers evolved a land of the free. Although the long anti-racism protests might seem to have abated, they have unearthed deep-seated racial animosity that interrogates all that the American dream stands for. To the global black community, old scars of yesteryear’s atrocities against the African-American community have resurfaced as fresh wounds, thereby imposing on Nigeria (the world’s most populous black nation) a burden of being the black man’s rallying platform.
By its constitution, America is a bastion of freedom, where the infinite refinement of reason continually entrenches common humanity through justice and equality. However, it is unfortunate and rather ominous that this symbol of human commonness is now pandering to the social cankerworm its founding fathers swore to eliminate. It is also hypocritical that Pastor Chris refuses to admit that the same prejudice, which the American government and people denounce with the lives of its young citizens in fighting and defending freedom in distant lands, has become the unwritten code of its social justice system. This is disturbing and condemnable.
As a preacher who administers faith to God’s children, Pastor Chris should know that whatever the boundaries created around humanity’s existential space and the constructs spelt out to represent them; the human community is fundamentally one. No group of people becomes superior by virtue of the nomenclature ascribed to their race. If race is a description of our existential situation that we cannot change, it is by that fact a pointer to the diversity that makes our world beautiful. The United States, by its motto, E Pluribus Unum, (Out of many one) gives credence to this diversity by transcending narrow mundanities and stereotyping which racism promotes.
Many Nigerians have for too long been traumatized by the behavior of Pastor Chris. Beyond verbal laceration, Pastor Chris should for once be made to realize that the ugly events playing out in America is illustrative of the burden Nigeria carries as the Big Brother of the global black community since the black man’s burden is Nigeria’s burden. Pastor Chris should learn in an unpleasant way and live with the searing memory that as a man of god, he is portraying himself as unfit, by his actions and utterances, to be the ambassador of Nigeria; the nation under whom the global black community could find a rallying succor. Indeed, if Oyakhilome does not change tact and apologize, the global black community would do its image a lot of good by simply boycotting Pastor Chris and his church until he realizes that his words and actions should no longer constitute a threat to the lives of black folks because Black Lives Matter.
In The Spotlight
The Imo state governor Hope Uzodinma on Friday signed into law an Executive Bill he personally sent to his boys at the Imo state House of Assembly requesting them to cancel the monthly payments of pensions to former governors, their deputies, Speakers and deputy speakers in the state.
The passage of that Bill which went with the speed of a lightning surpasses all previous legislative abracadabra known in the history of the Imo House of Assembly, including those of the former governor Rochas Okorocha who, it seems, is fast becoming beatified by Sen. Hope Uzodimma and may soon become a saint.
Governor Achike Udenwa had signed that law as ‘The Imo State Governors and Speakers Pensions and Privileges Law No. 5, 2007’ while in office, to provide monthly stipends to former governors, their deputies, Speakers and Deputy Speakers after they left office.
That law had allowed an official approval of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500, 000) only as a monthly allowance to a former Governor in Imo state after he or she might have left office.
My estimate is that a former Governor in Imo state is entitled to an annual sum of Six Million Naira (N6m) only to manage himself, his medicals, his family and the retinue of aides and societal dependents the allure of his former office created. This amount is about the same package given to a retired Permanent Secretary.
Sen. Uzodimma while assenting to that Bill as was swiftly passed, described it as a “bad omen” and a “condemnable law” which he could not personally condone, hence his immediate demand from the lawmakers to repeal it.
But when a governor who is presumed to have been elected through democratic processes begins to manifest undemocratic features and actions, then the making of a dictator is ongoing.
The process of law making, including the repeal of an existing law, requires some rigorous approaches, beginning from the stage of the originating of the Bill to its final assent.
An Executive Bill from a governor requires nothing less than Seven to Eight stages, with the most important being the Gazetting stage.
Gazetting of Bill before consideration comes after the initial review with the primary purpose of “giving the public notice that a new piece of legislation is being considered, and to give members of the public and concerned persons the opportunity to weigh in on the process and potentially give written representations either in favour of the proposed law or against it”
Conceding that Sen. Uzodimma as a serving Imo governor, now has all “powers” of Ndimo at his very disposal, but wouldn’t it have been decorous to have notified the public, especially, these senior colleagues (former governors, deputies, Speakers, etc.) of his intention to end their hitherto legitimate packages? So, at what point was the public notified of the Uzodimma’s Bill?
Legislative process also requires a Bill of this nature to be read at the floor of the Chambers the First, the Second and the Third time. After the debate at the Second Reading, this Bill is moved to the Committee stage where it is critically reviewed, deliberated and where necessary, subjected to a Public Hearing. The Bill returns as a Report back to the Chambers for the Third Reading and possible passage, before enrolment by the Clerk of the House for the governor’s assent.
At which points, when and where were these procedures observed by the Imo governor before the rush to extricate a legally established law of the state? Did Sen. Uzodimma critically analyze the wider implications of denying these elderly citizens, especially the former Deputy Governors and Speakers their monthly stipends, when evidences abound that most of them, due to old age and health challenges, are now economically weaker? Does Uzodimma not know that those monthly alerts are enough reasons for these guys to live with Hope? Where lies the toga of Shared Prosperity when people are daily impoverished by the Uzodimma’s administration?
My quick summation of the so-called pensions of these ‘former this and that’ shows a little above Three Million Naira (N3m) monthly for all of them put together, (excluding Okorocha who is now a serving senator). What is the effect of a N3m positive deduction from Imo allocation for our aged and retired leaders where a serving governor like Uzodimma personally pockets undeclared Millions of Naira as Security Votes monthly?
If Governor Uzodimma truly has “conscience” and cares about his place in "history" as he claimed in his brief address during his assent, why has it not occurred to him that this unaccounted Security Vote he pockets every month is illegal, “bad omen” and “anti-people”? What is the difficulty in revealing the amount and surrendering it to Ndimo “as a young state grappling with enormous challenges”? How does the governor’s “conscience” go to sleep knowing that most civil servants, pensioners and teachers still have their salaries denied them while his Information agents fling out lies and propaganda, including suspension of workers who dare to complain?
Imo’s Post Covid-19 era will require a concerted effort of all, especially former governors and leaders. This is the exact time to court them and tap from their stocked wealth of administrative ingeniuties and coordinations which, unfortunately, are major lacks in the Uzodimma's administration, not scaring them away like we witnessed under the Okorocha-led eight years of hell in the state of which consequences are well known to all.
Uzodimma should avoid the mistake of emulating Okorocha who once bragged that there were no men in Imo. Imo nwekwara men! (Imo has men), and I can tell you that they are quickly gathering having learnt from the past.
With the heeps of wastes and refuses now piling heavily on our city roads; the mess our roads are gradually returning to (especially the Orlu-Owerri road); the ineffectiveness and clueness now made of our men and women appointed SAs and SSAs; the withdrawal of Rights of fiscal control from the appointed chairmen and members of the Interim Management Committees of most councils, etc., one is daily tempted to query how and where the hell the governor spends our resources these five to six months in office with the state gradually sliding back to the Okorocha era. How did Emeka Ihedioha perform the noticeable feats we observed under him, both in administration, governance and in quality road infrastructures at the state and Local Governments Councils?
It will amount to passing the buck for anyone to use the Covid-19 pandemic as excuse in answering my various questions here, because allocations of the state have been coming to the governor even with the Covid-19. The governor may just have to humble himself and submit to superior ideas and suggestions if he seriously desires a comfortable place for himself in history. Perhaps he should review his relationship with past and present Imo leaders. He should also be humble enough to consult and acquire some administrative senses from them, or better still, under-study the Prof. Ben Ayade’s Post Covid-19 palliatives measures for Cross Riverians.
Certainly, Sen. Uzodimma needs more to be able to enliven and stimulate our people for his government. The repeal of former Governors pensions' token does not excite Ndimo.
Greg Nwadike GOC writes from Uzoubi-Umuna in Orlu LGA of Imo state and can be reached only by whatsapp +2348099088443