Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
The Jocular Circumstances of Nigerian Politics
Mobolaji E. Aluko, Ph.D.
Sunday, November 10, 2002
4. Mamman Ali
5. Anyim Pius Anyim – or is it Pius Anyim Pius?
6. The Suffering People of Orlu Senatorial Constituency
This LOO-ONG article is going to be a highly nonlinear one, so I crave your rapt attention if you are interested in matters contained therein.
On Friday, November 8, 2002, to the consternation of my averagely-paid chauffeur (“driver” in Nigerian parlance), I ensured that I bought ALL the Nigerian newspapers that I could lay my hands on because I knew that it was going to be a field day of headlines. True enough:
Punch: “Anyim took N60 m bribe – Nzeribe * It’s untrue – Zwingina. * Nzeribe
offered me N5m bribe – Mantu”
offered me N5m bribe – Mantu”
This Day: “I gave Anyim N60m Bribe, says Nzeribe * Zwingina: Absolute falsehood of a drowning person * Mantu: I’ve no N300 m deal with him”
Tribune: “Anyim collected N60 m bribe – Nzeribe * It’s a lie – Anyim”
The Monitor: “Anyim Collects N60m bribe – Nzeribe * Nzeribe lied – Mantu, Zwingina”
I am sure that the Guardian, Vanguard, Comet, certainly the Trust had similar headlines, but I had run out of Nigerian “dollars,” convenient for me since the newspaper man too had run out of all these other newspapers!
How did we get to this sordid affair when Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would be so embarrassingly – once again - accusing each other of bold-faced corruption before the world, a country that is perennially competing with Pakistan to be classified the most corrupt of the world, according to Transparency International?
The immediate reason were happenings in the Senate of a few days before….
On Thursday, November 7, 2002, 64-year-old Senator Arthur Francis Nzeribe of Imo West, the Ogbuagu, Damanze, Oshiji of Oguta, l’enfante terrible of Nigerian politics, addressed a world press confererence, thusly:
Gentlemen of the press:
You are familiar with the events in the senate and matters arising from the Senate Session of 22nd October, 2002 when I was wrongly suspended indefinitely by the Senate. There is nothing I can do about the action other than to head to the courts to
seek redress. That I have done. The initiative is now with the senate either to revisit the matter and reconsider its position OR to allow the court process to continue.
Let us stop there for a second.
Without prejudice to what Senator Nzeribe might have done or not have done, one of the ways our Third Republic Senate has turned itself into a circus is the regularity with which it has suspended – or threatened to suspend – one or more of its members for alleged “infractions.” To suspend a Senator is to suspend the
representation of a WHOLE senatorial district – possibly up to 1 – 3 million people. To claim that the possibility of suspension of senators is part of the rules of the Senate is to beg the question: I believe that it is wholly inappropriate.
Let us continue to read Francis Arthur Nzeribe, suspended Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Also, more importantly, arising from the senate proceedings of that day is the allegation by the Senate President in his announcement that I am a thief and had stolen the sum of N22.08 m[illion] from the Senate accounts.
This point was re-echoed by Senator Jonathan Zwingina, in his motion asking for my indefinite suspension. It is on this aspect of the saga that I wish to address today.
Let us take a long detour at this point…..
Tuesdays, soon after 2 pm, are always dramatic days in Nigeria’s Senate, because they represent the first work day of the week of the Senate, and invariably represent the efforts of four intense days of Machiavellian intrigue that start on the previous Friday and pervade the inner workings of the Senate.
On this particular Tuesday, October 22, 2002, some strange developments occurred.
Let the Tribune newspaper of Wednesday October 23, 2002 help us here with Anyim, Nzeribe and Zwingina:
Senate Suspends Nzeribe Over N23 m Fraud - As Nzeribe Drags Anyim to Anti-Graft Panel
The intenal crisis within the Senate Tuesday worsened as the Senate suspended Senator Arthur Nzeribe indefinitely over his role in the June 12 crisis even as the Senate voted to hand him over to the police over alleged fraud and theft of N22.8 million.
Nzeribe, in a swift response, however, told newsmen that he last Friday filed a petition with the Anti-Corruption Commission against the Senate President over alleged ill-gotten wealth [SUCH AS REVEALED IN ANYIM’S MULTIMILLION HOUSING PROJECTS AT ISHIAGU (EBONYI STATE), ASOKORO AND WUSE II (ABUJA); THE
ACQUISITION OF CHOICE PROPERTIES LIKE THE NEW SHOPPING COMPLEX COMPRISING SIX MASSIVE BUILDINGS ON AMINU KANO CRESCENT, BANEX PLAZA, ABUJA] and corrupt practices [SUCH AS HIGHLIGHTED IN AN ONGOING COURT CASE AGAINST ANYIM BY CHIEF GODWIN DABOH ADZUANA], describing his suspension and allegations against him as “infantile.”
In a dramatic session, which saw Senator Nzeribe walk out, the Senate president, pronouncing what he called a special announcement, said he had discovered large scale fraud in the Senate finances.
“My investigation showed that a large scale fraud involving Senator Arthur Nzeribe has been going on and I have reported the matter to the police”, Anyim noted.
The Senate President said the Senate lost N22.8 million collected by Senator Nzeribe through collusion with some staff, citing payment cheque numbers 520416 and 0460493, noting that since the matter was criminal in nature, “the police should be allowed to handle the matter.”
“I hereby seek your consent to hand over Nzeribe to the police for investigation and prosecution for fraud and forgery,” the Senate president declared.
When put to vote, the consent of the Senate was unanimously given.
Soon after the invitation of the police, Senate spokesman, Jonathan Zwingina, moved a motion under Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution and Orders 14 and 67 of the Senate rules in which he detailed what he called “anti-democratic tendencies” of Senator Nzeribe.”
There ends my excerpt of the Tribune story of October 23. But note that on October 28, following Nzeribe’s ICPC petition, Anyim made another application to the Attorney General thusly:
This Day November 3, 2002
In a swift reaction to Nzeribe’s suit against the Senate, and in keeping with the determination of the upper chamber to ensure his prosecution, Anyim during the week sought the approval of the Attorney General of the Federation, Senator Kanu Godwin Agabi, for the use of an independent prosecutor by the
Senate to handle the case of alleged forgery and stealing against Nzeribe. In the letter to Agabi dated October 28, 2002, Anyim on behalf of the Upper chamber told the Attorney General that “The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has uncovered a case of fraud involving dishonesty and forgery against Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe in relation to the accounts of the Senate.”
Subsequently, he said in the letter titled “Application for the Attorney General’s Fiat to Prosecute Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe” “The Senate has decided to hire a private legal practitioner to conduct the case for the Senate and for which the Senate hereby requests that the Attorney
General’s fiat be given to Ikechukwu Ezechukwu Esq. of Ogbueli Chambers Plot 17 Yaounde Street, Zone 6, Wuse, Abuja to prosecute the Said Senator.” Not done with Nzeribe yet, the Senate president also slammed a N1 billion libel suit against the embattled Senator following the circulation of damaging documents detailing some choice properties allegedly belonging to him in addition to other corruption charges.”
So that is the situation as of this moment.
However, let us return to Zwingina….
There is something funny about the voluble and articulate 48-year-old Dr. Jonathan Silas Zwingina, PhD Political Science from Flinders University of South Australia, PDP Senator from Adamawa South, a House of Representatives member in the 3rd Republic, one-time Mamser Director in
Gongola and Adamawa States, Campaign Manager of Abiola in 1993. He has become some kind of arrowhead for trouble in the Senate. Here was his motion of Tuesday, October 22, 2002:
I seek to bring to the notice of the Senate, a very serious, persistent and incriminating conduct inimical to the very integrity, dignity and respect of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and indeed individual Senators.
Immediately, the Zwingina equation “Senators = Federal Republic of Nigeria” is visible, which is part of our Nigerian problem.
Since the inauguration of the Senate on the 3[rd] of June 1999, all Senators have been sworn in, believed themselves to be accredited representatives of their various Constituencies but more importantly to be accredited representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, elected and sent to the Senate on
equal basis to defend the integrity of the Senate and the National Interest to defended the National Assembly and to defend and uphold the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In this regard, all Senators treated each other with dignity and respect, regardless of individual and group antecedents, including disreputable records that may have been associated with some Senators in the past.
Just as well, for over three-quarters of the Senators might be cooling their heels back in their constituencies right now, as “would-be Senators.”
Let us carry on….
Whereas, majority of Senators hoped, and continued to hope, that the dignity and reputation of the Senate, the National Assembly and the Federal Republic of Nigeria were the prime and principal concern of each Senator, this did not appear to be the case with a few Senators and particularly our
Distinguished Senator Chief Francis Arthur Nzeribe, the Ogbuagu, the Oshiji and Dmaze Oyimba of Oguta representing Imo West Senatorial Zone.
It is interesting that Zwingina claims that “a few [UNNAMED] Senators”, not just Nzeribe, are just about as guilty as Nzeribe. One would like to inquire who those other Senators are.
Let us carry on with Zwingina’s motion……..
Whereas the Senate as early as 20 August 1999 recognised the trait of tainted democratic credentials that has been the antecedents of Senator Nzeribe, when a Motion brought by the Distinguished Senator was amended to read as follows:
“”It is for us to elect a Senate President that will work for us and not to
be given a Senate President that will work with us for the Executive Arm.”
be given a Senate President that will work with us for the Executive Arm.”
It is also on record that the said Senator Arthur Nzeribe equally worked tirelessly for the impeachment of the second Senate President of this Distinguished Senate in person of our own dear the Rt. Hon. Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, the Oyi of Oyi.
It is equally on record that on the 15 April, 2000, our Distinguished Arthur Nzeribe brought a Motion under Section 143 of 1999 Constitution seeking the removal of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo from office as President by impeachment. In the said Motion, Senator
Nzeribe proposed 15 impeachable offences against President Obasanjo and stipulated a time-table for his eventual removal as follows:
May 10 - Presentation of Notice to Senate President
Before May 17 – Circulation of Notice by Senate President
Before May 29 – Chief Justice of Nigeria establishes Panel
Whereas, it can be seen that as a chronic champion of impeaching democratic institutions and persons, Senator Nzeribe had already proposed the removal of President Obasanjo exactly one year after his election, only the Senate in its wisdom stopped such a destructive programme being unleashed on the
Whereupon, it is ironic that the same Senator Arthur Nzeribe had suddenly become the champion of the non-impeachment of the same President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Let us stop here for a moment and reflect: is Zwingina not a confused political scientist or what? What did Nzeribe do wrong in agreeing to an amendment requesting an Senate President independent from the alleged machinations of the Executive? If
Nzeribe brought a notice of impeachment ACCORDING to the terms of the Constitution, what was wrong about that? After all, Nzeribe stated ONLY 15 impeachable offences, while at last count, the National Assembly has on its books 37 IMPEACHABLE OFFENCES against the President, including some of the same charges leveled against the president by Nzeribe! And finally, if a man changes his mind
about impeachment – which you accuse him of being mischievous about - and becomes a champion of non-impeachment, then why is that counted against him, except this is the case of calling a worthy dog a worthily bad name to hang him on the rafters of the National Assembly?
In any case, Nzeribe explained himself in one of two motions which he was never allowed to present on the floor of the Senate before he was unceremoniously suspended. In that un-presented motion, he stated thusly:
Mr. Senate President, may I take you a little way back. Two years ago, I wanted us to impeach Mr. President. I have since turned 180 degrees in his favour. One principal
reason is that I discovered that the President is really patriotic and means well. His mistakes are of the head and not of the heart. He is not anti-democratic; he made history by his handing over power to a democratically elected civil government. He served in the Army to become a General, not corrupt; people maintained his family whilst he
was in prison. We should not disgrace him out of office. He should be left with his God. Let Nigerians decide in the Convention or in the election to reject him. Let us not be butchers doing the dirty job. Like Pontius Pilate, let us wash off our hands. Let the Nigerian people decide at the party primaries and National Convention or better still, with finality at the Presidential election.
In this season of Reconciliation and Forgiveness, we should not contribute to the political destruction of a fellow Nigerian who had served the nation well at the highest level. The Senate has made the point and the President has taken note. HE IS NOT “KAMPE” THIS TIME. He knows now how to conduct himself and his presidency in the future.
The NASS leadership is making impeachment the first resort and riding roughshod over every misgiving. The leadership is suffering from “gratuitous unilateralism” and frequently sending the message that others do not matter, and that only the leadership
does. The public is tiring of the issue of impeachment of Obasanjo. The Senate Forgiveness/Reconciliation Project as it now stands is “discriminatory and disproportionate”. This Senate should act promptly with humanity but not with sentiments.
Impeachment is legal, constitutional and democratic. But in the present circumstance, impeachment is obviously simply repugnant, immoral, undeserved and not altruistic. We are being cajoled and persuaded to do the
right thing for the wrong reasons. It has failed or is bound to fail. It is hypocritical and double standard to forgive and reconcile in-house amongst us where some of us are found indicted of crimes and not to Forgive and Reconcile with someone not found indicted………..
Well, I wish I had recruited Senators Zwingina and Aluko to present my case. Both [are] eloquent and in favor, etc. I invite both of them to help me out.
Again, I remind the reader that Nzeribe was never allowed to present this motion before he scurried out of the Senate chambers minutes before his indefinite suspension. Except for one or two issues that one can take up with Nzeribe above, I identify with the reasons for his change of heart above.
Moreover, despite all of the above antecedents, where was Zwingina and his band of Nzeribe suspenders when Nzeribe was freely chosen to be a member of the panel of the kangaroo Kuta panel 2000; was gladly accepted into the ruling PDP without losing his Senate seat as required by the constitution upon defection from another party; was
recently allowed to second the motion (of September 11, 2002) of Senator Gbenga Aluko finally absolving a few of them from the questionable indictment by the Kuta panel (after Nzeribe threatened to expose all exposables); and so on…?
Let us continue with Zwingina…
Whereupon, in his true character, Senator Nzeribe expressed his admiration for Mr. Godwin Dabor and sought to tarnish the image of the Senate by declaring budgetary allocations for the work of the Senate signed by Mr. President as ill-gotten money being doled out by Senator Anyim;
Whereas the so-called “Iniquities of the Senate President” was subtitled “For Senators’ Eyes Only” the same is believed to have been leaked to the press through the Distinguished Senator.
Whereupon the same Distinguished Senator by another memo dated 30 August 2002 to Senators Nzeribe strenuously opposed any form of investigation or probe which the Senate had directed against colleagues alleged to have been compromised by the Presidency and yet barely a month later the Senator has reversed
himself, proposing an investigation and probe towards the impeachment of Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, despite recent revelations by Senate President that the said Senator has, through fraud and forgery, collected sums of money exceeding 22 Million [Naira] from the National Assembly treasury.
Whereupon it is safe to conclude that the conduct of Senator Arthur Nzeribe has only one effect and objective: the destruction and denigration of the image and integrity of the Senate as well as other elected public officials in the federation as a prelude to
the impeachment of the entire democratic enterprise in Nigeria.
Whereas, it is also safe to conclude that by his consistent utilization of the impeachment weapon, Senator Nzeribe has elevated concept of impeachment to a lucrative business strategy at the expense of the survival of democracy in Nigeria;
Whereupon it is equally safe to conclude that this long consistent and unchanging anti-democratic character of Senator Nzeribe, the said Senator has become a chronic, active, cancerous cell in the Senate and in our democratic polity;
Now therefore this Distinguished Senate be entreated and is hereby entreated to:
I beg to move.
Note that by suspending Order 67, the Senate took the undemocratic step of being able to suspend Nzeribe INDEFINITELY rather than limit it to a fourteen legislative days period.
Having exhausted the fine points of the hatchet job done by Senator Zwingina against the super-hatchet man Senator Nzeribe, let us now return to the World Press Conference of Nzeribe from which we detoured earlier:
First, I deny stealing, forgery and fraud as alleged. I maintain that this money I am accused of stealing was paid to me with Senator Anyim’s approval. I applied for the money in writing;
he approved my application in writing. The processing, up to the issuance of the cheque is also approved by him. When I received the cheque, he gave the final confirmation before the cheque could be honored by the bank. The process through which I was paid is the same process used in paying every Senator. We
must therefore be categorized and branded the same. Therefore whatever Anyim is doing to me now he can do to any other Senator.
In this regard, I have written the Auditor-General of the federation, the Inspector General of Police and the Federal Attorney General to cause the accounts of all Senators and Senate Committees as well as pool accounts to be audited and investigated in order to establish who stole,
forged or defrauded.
Attached are copies of my letters to the Attorney-General, the Police, the Accountant General, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau and INEC for your general information. I am ready and willing to be thoroughly investigated and if found wanting on
only ONE Naira to be jailed according to law. So should my other 107 senatorial colleagues affirm.
Indeed, so should they, including the Senator from Ekiti South!
Indeed, I tend to believe Senator Nzeribe on this score. I could NEVER for the life of me understand how the 41-year-old Ebonyi South Senate President Anyim could expect that it is not SELF-INDICTMENT when under his watch he could claim that a Senate Member of the OPPOSITION PARTY (until recently) could steal UNDER HIS
(ANYIM’S) NOSE N22.08 million JUST LIKE THAT! For him to make that accusation SIMPLY to get at Nzeribe is to expect all of his readers to be highly gullible. I cannot vouch for a 100% honorable Nzeribe – even Nzeribe cannot so vouch – but I am almost 100% sure that Nzeribe did not steal, forge and defraud the Senate of N22.08 million.
Maybe N0.2208 million of unprovable receipts; maybe N2.208 million of wasteful expenditures. But N22.08 million?
Let us go on with Nzeribe’s press conference:
But in addition is an act of bribery revealed by Senator Mamman Ali on the floor of the senate in session and further confirmed by him at a press conference. Senator Ali revealed that he and some Senators were paid and induced with the sum
of N3 m each in the exercise of their duties, namely to discontinue any talk or action on the proposed impeachment of President Olusegun Obasanjo. I hereby corroborate the statement of Senator Mamman Ali. But not to the extent of the source or ownership of the money.
Obviously, as Senators were QUEUING [ALUKO: EMPHASIS MINE] to read the Resolution, sign, and collect the N3 m, the signatories were not in the position to know the source, owner or provider of the money. Senator Anyim participated in this
act by collecting N60,000,000.00 (Sixty Million Naira) for himself and his supporters whilst he initialed the Resolution. His response when I raised the matter in his Office was: “The money should go round every Senator. It will not digest well if it does not….” Since the revelation of Senator
Mamman Ali, no action has been taken on the matter and this further buttresses my case. The matter is being swept under the carpet the way numerous other corrupt practices were treated. I will substantiate the above facts, if I am forced to. I hope that I do not have to. There are Senators also
willing to confirm the veracity of my claim. I hope that they won’t have to.
4. MAMMAN ALI
The strange case of 44-year-old APP Senator Mamman B. Ali, from Yobe South, Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory, a Civil Engineer, is an interesting one. Two days ago, he came up with a tale fit for the Guinness Book of Records:
Tribune Page 1 ff. Saturday, November 9, 2002
Senate N300 m bribery scandal – “Strangers gave me N3 m” – Senator Mamman Ali
24 hours after Senator Arthur Nzeribe opened up on a N300 million bribery scandal in the Senate, Senator Mamman Aliu who had earlier admitted collecting N 3million said he did not know who gave him the money.
In a new twist to the bribery saga, the Senator who represents Yobe State said the person who delivered the money to him at his Apo residence was a stranger.
While admitting that he personally collected the money from the “strangers”, the Senator said the senate leadership has since been investigating the source of the money with a view of getting the “strangers” nabbed.
The new dramatic twist followed on the heels of a denial by Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, whom Nzeribe accused of being the main distributor of the money.
The deputy senate president had challenged the media to confront Senator Mamman Ali to disclose who gave him the money he had earlier said was given to him.
“Senator Ali holds the key to this knot. Since he admitted collecting money and even returned the N3 million to the Senate, he should tell you where the money came from,” Senator Mantu told newsmen.
Senator Nzeribe had also in his news briefing confirmed what Senator Ali had previously admitted, declaring “Ali’s testimony is confirmation of my story of N300 million bribery in the Senate.”
Ali at the news briefing [OF FRIDAY NOVEMBER 8, 2002], however insisted that the man who gave him the N3 million was not a senator even though he affirmed that “like the unknown soldier, the identity of the giver is still not known.”
Only a non-Nigerian, or a Nigeria without political gumption, would miss the allusion to Obasanjo and/or his regime in this “unknown soldier” reference. It would be recalled that the official verdict was that “unknown soldiers” burnt down Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s “Kalakuta Republic” during Obasanjo/YarAdua
military regime back in 1976-79, and threw the Kuti matriarch Mrs. Funlayo Ransome-Kuti out of the window, leading to her untimely death soon afterwards.
This time, an “unknown stranger” had delivered cash to some senators – but at whose bidding is what inquiring minds want to know.
But how the heck are we expected to believe this story? Can ANY stranger just walk up to a Senator’s house in Apo Village and ask to see him, and proceed to open up a bag containing N3 million without any questions asked about his true identity?
Were we all born last night?
Moving on with the Tribune report…..
Ali who denied signing any motion to collect the money confirmed that he was approached over the resolution which sought the discontinuation of the impeachment bid against the president.
“But I did not sign and the amn who brought the money to my residence is not a senator”, Ali said, stressing that he later met the Senate leadership over the matter.
“I told the Senate leadership all what I know, and we discussed the issue of the unknown soldier. Up till now, he remains unknown,” the senator said.
“Arising from all these, the Senate leadership opted to go underground in its bid to get at who is behind the distribution o f money,” Ali further stated, accepting however that revelations by Nzeribe indicated that the Oguta chief must have sent those who gave him money.
“I am convinced that Nzeribe was the source of the money. I believe he could have sponsored those people, “Ali noted.
Now this is quite interesting, something that I did not think of before now! But like Senator Ali, I too believe that Senator Nzeribe has the capacity to be this inventively ingenious, although I have absolutely no proof that he was the hand of Esau behind the “unknown soldier/stranger.”
The final excerpt of the Tribune piece on Mamman Ali is as follows:
He (MAMMAN ALI) however questioned the suspended senator for not speaking up when he first raised the matter on the floor of the Senate, adding “It is wrong for him to want to rope me into his feud with the Senate.”
Ali who questioned where Nzeribe got the N300 million he allegedly distributed said the Imo State senator should be investigated to assess his worth before becoming a senator.
The Yobe senator restated that he has since deposited the N3 million with the senate clerk, disclosing that he collected the money in the first place to expose the corrupt conduct in the business of the senate.
Somehow, I have this creepy feeling that Senator Mamman Ali is under severe pressure to HIDE a lot of things that he knows about.
Anyway, let us return once again to the World Press Conference of suspended Senator Nzeribe:
Since the revelation of Senator Mamman Ali, no action has been taken on the matter and this further buttresses my case. The matter is being swept under the carpet the way numerous other corrupt practices were treated. I will substantiate the above facts, if I am forced to. I hope that I do not have to. There are Senators also willing to confirm the veracity of my claim. I hope that they won’t have to. Be it as it may, I do not claim innocence or justified on my part in
the scandalous event but I was propelled by my zeal to prevent the impeachment of President Olusegun Obasanjo at any cost and douse the tension in the already overheated polity in order to save our nascent democracy. Also, I do not strongly believe that even among thieves, there should be honour. I feel hurt, cheated and betrayed. I am neither
a thief nor a liar.
While I feel Nzeribe’s hurt, who then are the “thieves” to which he referred, among who there should be “honour”, if not members of the National Assembly, or at least of the Senate? By Nzeribe stating that “I will
substantiate the above facts, if I am forced to. I hope that I do not have to. There are Senators also willing to confirm the veracity of my claim. I hope that they won’t have to.”, since when has it become legal for ANYBODY, not to talk of one or
more Senators, to willingly choose NOT to disclose the events surrounding a corrupt act? Could that not amount to being an accessory after the fact?
I scratch my head.
Let us go on with Nzeribe press conference……
5. ANYIM PIUS ANYIM or is it PIUS ANYIM PIUS?
Senator Anyim is an ingrate with an inordinate ambition of being the president of Nigeria at all cost.”
Senator Anyim president of Nigeria ke? Even becoming president of the Senate was a major 21st-century political miracle for the unremarkable Anyim – but to become president of Nigeria would be truly “inordinate.”
How did Nzeribe get to know this?
Well, it happened last year at the World Igbo Congress in New Orleans, USA, where Nzeribe and Anyim seemed to have hit it off with each other big time. Not only did Anyim pay Nzeribe’s way from Senate coffers, but apparently Nzeribe acted as Anyim’s consort and
confidante throughout the period, including flying on the same planes and sleeping in adjacent hotel rooms. It was there that Anyim revealed to Nzeribe confidentially – and one would say naively - that he had delayed burying his mother for more than one year (while he was a mere Senator ANyim seated alphabetically next to Senator ALuko) due to a prophecy by his church pastor that he
(Anyim) should not do so until he became Senate President.
And – surprise surprise! – Anyim did become Senate President after the pack-of-card falls of 67-year-old Senator Evan(s) Enwerem of Imo East (in November 1999) and 60-year-old Senator Prof. Chuba Okadigbo of Anambra North. He then dutifully proceeded to bury his mother
in grand style at his Ishiagwu country home a year and a half later or so after her death!
At their New Orlean joust, Anyim apparently confided in Nzeribe that that same pastor had predicted to him that he (Anyim) would become President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in what one Nigerian newspaper journalist has characterized as “Macbethan” in plot. So when all the Obasanjo impeachment unfolded,
with Anyim playing a key role, Nzeribe sensed the Macbethan plot, and promptly proceeded to Aso Rock to tell President Obasanjo about it, who “characteristically” – according to Nzeribe himself – confronted Anyim with the prophetic prediction, much to Anyim’s and Nzeribe’s embarrassment.
As the Yoruba would say, Anyim had in effect confided to a “basket” [“apere”] Nzeribe, and Nzeribe also revealed what Anyim said to a “basket” President Obasanjo. Bad blood has since flowed like a river between President Obasanjo, Senate President Anyim and
If all of this does not sound like Byzantine fiction, I wonder what does.
Let us finally finish off Nzeribe’s World Press Conference:
Consequently, I call for the resignation of Senator Anyim as the Senate President for he has betrayed his colleagues, democracy and Nigeria. He should be stripped of his GCON [Note: the General Commander of the Order of the Nige title was
astonishingly conferred on Anyim (and not to Speaker Ghali Na’Abba, probably to spite the adversarial Na’Abba) by President Obasanjo in 2001 for what particular achievement, very few knew. Nzeriibe has since corrupted GCON to read “Grand Corrupt Officer of Nigeria.”]. In the least, he should be investigated, as was the case with his predecessor, Senator Chuba Okadigbo, who was
investigated. I do not wish to open the Pandora’s Box furthermore. Even though the ambition to be Senate President is a legitimate one, I hereby declare that I will not be competing for the vacancy when Anyim vacates. Finally, I apologize to my other colleagues if they have to be dragged by a dumb to justice.
I also apologize to the nation for being inflicted with an unfortunate scenario and undesired political discomfort initiated by a deceitful Senate president whom I have inadvertently helped to install in no small measure. But I have a duty to defend my honour. Expectedly, all Distinguished Senators should be treated equally and fairly.
Senator Arthur Nzeribe
Taken as a whole, Senator Nzeribe’s press conference and all the circumstances surrounding it should be taken as a fine example of a twisted Nigerian political theater of the absurd, even though my proclivity is to believe him almost 95% in this particular case. One just feels that every last one of these legislative
“bums” – pardon the language – engaged in these kinds of naked corruption and/or childish political joustings should be thrown out of the National Assembly, except that one fears that they will engineer themselves back into the Senate with or without our connivance.
With respect to Senate President Ebonyi Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, he remains an enigma wrapped in a conundrum, underrated to the detriment of the underater, and able to bare his iron teeth when attacked. Just ask Audu Ogbeh who was caught in Anyim’s net over a seemingly innocent request for just N12 million at a time
when Anyim was locking horns for primacy with Governor Egwu of Ebonyi State. He himself has a “forgery” accusation to answer to: INEC claiming that a signature by one “Pius Anyim Pius” has been found on Electoral Law 2002, alongside another one by one “Anyim Pius Anyim”!
Wonders will never cease in Nigeria!
6. THE SUFFERING PEOPLE OF ORLU SENATORIAL CONSTITUENCY
A possibly feeble – but at least brave attempt – at doing something about Nzeribe is for example coming from his Orlu constituency. On page 39 of ThisDay of Friday November 8, 2002, just 27 pages away from the full text of
Nzeribe’s world press conference, one finds the following advertorial:
League of Orlu Professionals (LOP)
Apology to all Nigerians
We, on behalf of the entire people of Orlu Senatorial Zone, Imo State, do hereby sincerely apologise to all Nigerians for all the embarrassment our Senator, Chief Arthur Nzeribe, has caused this nation over the years. His role in the
annulment of June 12 1993 elections and his present destabilizing activities in the National Assembly are just few examples. We have never heard of any bills he sponsored nor have we seen any government present he has attracted to our zone.
We apologise, because we seem to share in the blame having allowed this man bestride Orlu politics all these years unchallenged. We however promise Nigerians that they are seeing the last of people like Arthur Nzeribe in the Senate, at least
not from Orlu Zone anymore as we shall be fully involved this time around in selecting who represents us across the board.
We also use this medium to urge all well-meaning professionals from Orlu Zone who are interested in this project to register with us through our e-mail address for further information.
Dr. Kachi Ohiaeri
This is a commendable step that should be emulated throughout the country, not only against Senators undeserving of returning to parliament, but also to ALL similarly unworthy elected officials.
I only just hope that LOP is not being sponsored by Nzeribe himself, or that “Dr. Ohiaeri” is not waiting to be bought off by Nzeribe, because that would be the most wicked of all twists !
The other day, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the seemingly right-thinking Chairman of the ruling PDP party, blurted out in frustration against the leadership of his party (paraphrasing now): “What time do you all have for the essential problems of the nation like the economy, food, crime, education, etc. when there is always one
crisis or the other, intrigue, etc. in this our party? Ever since I became Chairman of this party a year ago, it has been one crisis after the other!”
One asks the same questions too of a party that so much dominates the Nigerian political landscape. If it is not the President wanting to get rid of one Senate President or the other, or one party chairman or the other, it is the Senate president or party chairman trying to impeach the president. If it is not the National Assembly threatening to impeach the Presidency for financial and other foul play based on 15, 17, 32 and 36 articles of impeachment, it is the President similarly accusing the National Assembly of extravagance, and threatening to audit everybody and his mother, only to drop the threat when he is informed that he has no such constitutional right. [Just read Pages 24 and 25 of This Day of October 13, 2002,
“Notice of Allegations of Gross Misconduct against Chief Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Pursuant to Section 143 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution”, a 32-count impeachment brief of the House of Representatives signed by the 41-year-old Rep. Farouk Muhammad Lawan, Chairman of Information Committee, of the Bagwai/Shanono
Constituency of Kano State). If it is not Anyim accusing Ogbeh (of demanding/extorting N21 million of him and dragging him before the ICPC) and Nzeribe (of stealing forging and defrauding the NASS of N22.8 million and suspending him, with a new threat of expulsion), it is Nzeribe accusing Anyim and Ali of similar misdemeanors.
On another day it is the 38-year-old House of Representative member Samuel Onazi Obande (PDP Benue), complete with undenied copies of authorizing document, accusing Speaker of the House Ghali Na’Abba inter alia of paying a whopping GBP 40,000 of government money for surgery in England for his “uncle and guardian” Alhaji Abubakar Tsoho Tofa. [Current exchange rate on November 15, 2001 was stated as N164.66 to GBP1, which meant that Tofa benefited to the tune of N 6,586,400, not to talk of possibly travel and accommodation expenses!]. Just read Pages 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 of
ThisDay of October 27, titled “Petition for Investigation: Rk Affidavit of Hon. Samuel O. Obande, MP,” to understand how millions of Naira must have been spent by one “sponsor” Alhaji Umoru Abdullahi of unknown address to ensure that Obande let the world know ALL the alleged financial atrocities of Speaker Na’Abba.
They all make the circumstances leading to the Kuta report sound like a child’s fight over Abuja groundnuts.
What kind of democracy is this that we are running? What kind of massive immoral, shameless looters do we have as leaders? How can we, voluntarily or involuntarily, give all of them a one-term limit and get them out of our hair PERMANENTLY?
As I have traveled around this our dear country anew in the past three months, I have seen so much persistent poverty and misery, and I can now see more clearly that there is deliberate IMMISERATION of our people. The manner with which our leadership wastes our money around is truly unconscionable. I see our roads, even in the capital cities, and weep. I am currently at a Nigerian university struggling to find money to equip its laboratories with a few million naira in preparation for accreditation, so I cannot help but quake at a N6.5 million hospital bill for an “uncle and guardian” of a 44-year-old Speaker of the House of Assembly, which to me is the epitome of a naked abuse of
office if indeed true. No wonder university lecturers (under ASUU), staff (under SSANU) and Students (under NANS) make sometimes very unreasonable demands about back arrears and leave bonuses, and kick against N1,000 annual university school fees, when they read about all the “excess funds” that seem to be floating around the
Executive and the Legislature!
I am now beginning to very much suspect that some of Obasanjo’s problems – he has a reputation to be naturally tight-fisted, almost Shylockian - is his unwillingness to go along with some of these excesses, and that the best way that he could find has been to withhold funds from the polity despite budget passages, with unintended consequences of economic
depression on everybody. Just yesterday, the World Bank’s Nigeria representative Mark Tomlinson disclosed that 80% of Nigeria’s revenue is spent by the 1% involved in sustaining government activities, leaving the rest of Nigeria’s 99% to scramble over 20%.
The Daily Trust
November 9, 2002
Govt officials consume 80% of Nigeria’s revenue –World Bank
From Bright Ewulu, in Lagos
The World Bank has said that 80 per cent of the nation’s about $15 billion yearly revenue from oil and gas are consumed by government officials and exigencies of running the wheel of the state. World Bank
Country Director, Dr. Mark D. Tomlinson, who stated this in Lagos yesterday said this meant that only one per cent of Nigerian population enjoy about 80 per cent of its revenue while the rest 99 per cent of the population are left to make do with just about 20 per cent of the wealth.
This informed Tomlinson’s suggestion that Nigeria should as a matter of urgency create a leaner government instead of the over-bloated state structure which impoverishes the majority of Nigerians. He said this has become imperative given the paucity
of the country’s economy, saying that at its present state Nigeria’s economy must grow at the rate of 10 per cent annually for the next 10 years for its macro and micro economic survival to be assured.
He posited: "Today 80 per cent of revenue from oil and gas is used to run government. So it would be good to make government leaner in order to free funds up to reach more Nigerians."
Going further, he stressed that the World Bank is determined in its bid to help the country improve its non-oil sector, adding that the nation will do well to beef up its capacity in agriculture since it has comparative advantage in that sector.
This, apparently, informed his advice that the government should improve the structure of its subsequent budgets to ensure that it is pro-poor and impacts adequately on the nation’s rural economy. An area past budgets seem to have ignored. However,
he confessed that the structure of the nation’s budgets have improved in recent times but averred that more needs to be done to engender economic growth.
On the question of corruption among public office holders, Tomlinson stated that the World Bank cannot do much in this regards, stating that it’s up to the mass of Nigerians to make leaders more accountable.
However, he was hopeful that "it will be changed over time by the Nigerian people, its not going to be changed by the World Bank."
And on the next democratic dispensation, he said "we will see an improvement on the management of the economy in the next dispensation. But all depends on the mass of Nigerians and whether they hold their leaders accountable."
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Quite frankly, I am besides myself as to how we can sweep all of these people away, how to prevent them from using our own money, ill-gotten by them, to re-impose themselves on us. We must invent a non-military way between now and 2003, because this charade can simply not continue.
If it means postponing 2003 elections so that we can figure out how these same kind of people do not return to rule over us again, let us do it.
I am that desperate.
Dr. Mobolaji E. Aluko is Professor and Chair of Chemical Engineering at Howard University. He is currently on sabbatical leave in Nigeria.
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.