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Between the devil and the deep sea by Abuchi Obiora

Today, I shall discuss four things which affect Nigerians seriously. I shall also make some efforts to proffer solutions to three of those issues itemized in my discussion.

Firstly, it has become both necessary and expedient to enlarge on an issue casually mentioned in the immediate past post of my kaleidoscope opinion column.

I am talking about the salient issue of the high-sounding drumbeats of war the staccato of which is daily increasing in discordant tempo and unmistakable crescendo.

Sounding recently from south west Nigeria with the dire possibility to reverberate across the cities of Nigeria, drumbeats of war have been a constant feature since the inception of the present central government of the APC.

I had last week mentioned the increasing menace of the Fulani herdsmen in south west Nigeria which forced the disenchanted youths of Igangan, Oyo state, to resort to self-help and banish those kidnapper herdsman from their community.

The recalcitrance of the amorphous government, together with the lack of capacity of the captain manning the drowning ship of government that is without a radar and a compass, compels the ship to sail blindly to a dangerous on an unchartered course of running Nigeria aground.

In the understanding of the aimlessness of the national voyage induced by the captain and the members of his crew, Nigerians, exercising the natural preservative instinct in man, scamper to keep safe from the ill-fated ship, by resorting to the only remaining option of self-help in community surveillance and security.

The dereliction of duty by a government as good as a dog in a manger, which neither acts nor allows others to act, has gradually led Nigeria to the edge of the cliff to the abyss, between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Mr. Sunday Adeyemo, alias Sunday Igboho who allegedly was said to have led the action to sack Fulani herdsmen-turned-kidnappers was quoted to have said that if government fails to secure the people, the people have a primary obligation and challenge to secure themselves.

I think the man said the truth because Nigerians across the different ethnic nationalities have been crying unto the government to secure them from the rampaging menace and tough grip of Fulani herdsmen kidnappers.

Thank God for self-help. I see self-help as shown in the youth led by Sunday Igboho, the Amotekun, or even the Eastern Security Network, ESN, not as alternatives but as complimentary efforts with government efforts to secure Nigerians.

The fact that the police and other national security personnel are out there in the streets does not mean  that people should not devise other ways and means to protect themselves. After all, a former President of Nigeria had once recommended that South Africans should use the ‘African method’ to sack the then apartheid regime of the white minority in South Africa.

Discouraging people from any type of self-protecting themselves in manners deemed fit by them because the police and the other security personnel are out there in the streets is like telling a man who has employed a gateman to guard his house not to lock his doors because his gateman is on duty outside.

Government should, by all means, encourage community policing as already being undertaken by the vigilante groups across Nigeria.

The recent success recorded in Igangan, Oyo, state, where the host community sacked some residents of the town who they have long discovered to be bad eggs in their midst, killing, maiming and kidnapping people should be applauded by both the central government and the police who must not, for the interest of peace both in the community and Nigeria at large, witch-hunt the man who was said to have led that successful deliverance operation.

Lest I forget, ‘Amotekun’ and ‘Ogbunigwe’ regional security outfits in the south western and south eastern parts of the country respectively, were mooted at about the same time by the governors of the two respective regions.

Today, Amotekun is flying high while nothing more than the initial ‘noise’ has been heard from the ‘Ogbunigwe’ promoters.

It is not unlikely that some of the south eastern governors are moles silently working against the establishment of ‘Ogbunigwe’ regional security outfit for the south east.

Still on the eastern security network, will somebody tell me why the governors of the five predominantly Igbo states should not give a helping hand to the Eastern Security Network to assist them do the job of policing the South Eastern States?

Even if the governors do not like Nnamdi Kanu whose brainchild the ESN is, my opinion is that you do not throw away the baby with the dirty water.

Though controversial some of Nnamdi Kanu’s ideas about the realization of self-rule for the Igbo nation may be, Mr. Kanu, who no doubt is a patriotic Igbo son who feels bad about the plight of his people, and means well, only acting within the limits of his knowledge out of numerous probable and possible alternatives to address the marginalization of the Igbos in Nigeria, got it right this time in his idea of the Eastern Security Network.

The governors of the South Eastern states should learn a lesson from the governors of the South Western states in the South Western governors’  total support in the establishment of Amotekun and the covert support and protection of Mr. Sunday Adeyemo who recently emerged as the new Yoruba leader of the class of their ancestral warrior Kings who saved them from annihilation in the hands of the Fulani expeditioners of the 19th century from Western Sudan.

It is instructive to observe that all Yoruba politicians across the two major political parties in Nigera kept mute while the drama of the sack of the Fulani kidnappers, from Igangan, Oyo state, unfolded.

Contrasting the brutal killings of Igbo youths in South Eastern Nigeria by security agencies and the nonchalant attitude by the governors of the states where those killings took place with the more concerned attitude of the South West governors in handling the safety of life and property in Yoruba-dominated states, one is forced to ask if the governors of the Igbo-dominated states and most of the Igbo politicians are not sell-outs to the common aspiration of the Igbo nation for self-rule.

It is becoming clearer by the day that many of the Igbo politicians are interested in what comes to them and their families.

The unfolding events in Igangan, Oyo state, must teach the Igbos a lesson in ethnic cohesion and diplomacy in attending to knotty issues that affect members of their ethnic nationality. If Sunday Igboho were to be an Igbo activist, the warrant of his arrest issued by the police on the prompting of the central government would have long been executed.

Having made the above observations on the thorny issue of handling national security in a multi-ethnic setting as Nigeria, it naturally must take an exceptional wit, courage, spontaneity and resolve for Nigeria that is now between the Devil and the deep sea to escape the fatality of tripping from the cliff to the abyss. These are the exact qualities needed of the helmsman, Mr. President, Mohammadu Buhari, to move Nigeria away from the path of destruction unto the path of unity, stability, and progress.

Time is already running out. As he grapples with the onerous task of fixing the economy which have suffered adversely since he took charge, he must consider the easiest way to etch his name deeply on the sands of time. President Mohammadu Buhari can apply  a one-off solution to all the problems of Nigeria, including the economy, which has defied his best efforts and the best efforts of his economic advisers and field men.

This one-off solution to solving the multiple problems of Nigeria including saving the members of his ethnic nationality, the Fulani, from the ignoble reputation of being identified in Nigeria as criminals in the unwholesome business of kidnapping and ransom-paying, is to give Nigeria a parting gift on his exit from government in 2023, through restructure of Nigeria along autonomous regional blocks with a weakened central government.

Joining the nation-wide call for a restructuring of Nigeria, the immediate past INEC chairman who ushered in the Presidency of Mohammadu Buahri, Prof. Attahiru Jega, expressed disappointment on the failure of the government he ushered in, to meet the expectations of Nigerians.

Believing that a restructuring of the system is a sine qua non for the development of the country, Prof. Jega asked, “what do we want to achieve in regard to restructuring?’ He answered himself, “I will say that it is a priority to de-concentrate power and resources from the federal to the state government. This is achievable”.

The truth is that one does not need to be a professor of political science, like Jega is, to know that Nigeria need to be restructured. As a political scientist, Prof. Jega who made subtle, yet obvious efforts to install the man they believed will bring paradise to Nigeria when the Prof. was at the helms of affairs at INEC (umpire in Nigeria’s  elections), would have gone through the history books to discover that the man he was working very hard to install as the President had an abysmal outing as a military Head of State in Nigeria.

Looking through the history books at that time, I concluded that the man may not have anything to offer to Nigeria. This much I captured in an article titled “Masu Gudu, Su Gudu”, which was published in an issue of The Authority Newspaper.

My assessment of the Prof’s new-found love for restructuring Nigeria in the same manner many northern elites support this only option to make Nigeria great, is that his condemnation of the present government is an attempt to absolve himself of blames, and a belated effort to openly express what he, as a political scientist, would have known to be the only panacea to solving the multiple problems of Nigeria.

Without being a certificated political scientist, I had seen and publicly canvassed the need for a restructure of the country in Nigerian newspapers for thirty years.

It may have taken the Prof, like many other northern Nigerians who could have lent their voices to the clarion call for restructure, all these donkey years to support this inevitable option, because they benefited from the ill-conceived structure and doomed contraption that is the present Nigeria. Now, not only the south but including the north, is at risk of suffering the effects of a possible collapse of the country. No wonder the change of opinion across board.

Another issue that is on the line of our discussion today is an emerging policy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Unknown to Nigerians, one of the most misunderstood of the five pillars of Islam, the Sad’at (giving of arms to the poor) which has in Nigeria been used as a feudalist culture of maintaining the oppression of the Muslim masses, has been elevated to a government policy in Nigeria.

This is the only way I can see the recent sharing of cash to Nigerians who were already impoverished before the advent of COVID-19, a situation which provided the ready-made reason for government to share money to Nigerians. Already, there have been suspicions and accusations of looting the national treasury through that exercise.

While expressing his dissatisfaction on the way Nigeria is governed, my teenage pal who is now a Global Affairs Analyst and Community Engagement Practitioner based in America, who recently had a widely-televised interview with TVC NEWS, and in constant appearance on, Prince E.E Okpa Jr, said that the present Nigerian leaders are “a people bound by inescapable culture  to steal”. He further described the leadership of Nigeria as “a leadership to ruin while ruling”.

For the avoidance of doubt, let it be on record that government had failed to distribute palliatives and share cash to Nigerians when they were locked up in their houses during the national ‘lockdown’ occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I say so because no palliative was given to me, rather have I ever met any Nigerian who got palliative when the government claimed it distributed palliatives. If government did distribute palliatives, it is possible that the government officials distributed such palliatives to their family members, friends and colleagues.

My question is: why the sudden sharing of money to Nigerians when they are already out of the ‘lockdown’ and in the streets in their normal ‘hustles’? Obviously, the government recognized that the economy is comatose and there is nothing actually left on the streets anymore to ‘hustle’.

My second question is: how long will government sustain this new policy of ‘dashing’ Nigerians money, doing Sad’at (Sadaka!) for Nigerians?

One of my sons, an unemployed graduate, said he applied and received N10,000 (Ten thousand) naira. Is it not better to fix the Nigerian economy so that Nigerians can make money themselves in a booming economy? A Chinese proverb says, “do not give me fish, but teach me how to fish”. For example, my son, a bright boy, will do better having a job and deriving satisfaction therefrom than being given N10,000 Sadaka.

There is nothing bad in incorporating a comprehensive welfare package for indigent Nigerians as a national policy. What I am against is the ad-hoc administration of welfarism because it will naturally give room for corrupt enrichment by the officials administrating the process.

Enrichment of some government officials by the way, may be the major reason why somebody very close to the government woke up one day to write a memo suggesting, as an afterthought after the COVID-19 ‘lockdown’, that alms be given to Nigerians.

Is it any wonder therefore, that allegations are already flying around that billions of naira have been drained through that exercise that lasted a few days.

Secondly, think about it. Most government disbursements nowadays to Nigerian businesses, and recent CBN policies regarding businesses in Nigeria are tailored only to resuscitate the ailing Nigerian businesses.  They are not disbursements for expansion as they were when we were active players in the national economy.

Obviously, the present Nigerian government admits that Nigerian businesses are failing. Is prevention no more better than cure? The question is: why were the businesses allowed to fail, in the first place? My answers are, incoherent monetary and fiscal policies, incompetence, nepotism, corruption etc.

And to our third discourse…

Being a correspondent’s dream, a bad government such as Nigeria presently has gives one more news and information to comment on because it is one of the first lessons in Mass Communication that bad news elicits spontaneous and wilder readership. It spreads faster than fire.

But the redundancy in commenting on bad news is that while it only informs, whipping up the sense of sadism in the nature of man, it does not add to or expand existing ideas or knowledge perspectives.

This is more so when the source of the bad news, as the present government, is both deaf, dumb and blind to the realities observed by the correspondent.

Creative writing engaged in at a time when the source of news matches the expectation of the correspondent who is an integral part of the system, being a member of the fourth estate of the realm, with the direction and pace of governance, new ideas and opportunities are given different knowledge perspectives to be explored and expanded, with more and better values added to the lives of the citizens who are the beneficiaries of the correspondent’s interface with the government.

With the above background, I must say that I am tired of observing and writing bad things about the country, but what can I do. Do I have any other option? No! The alternative is to tell lies and I am too old now to tell lies for any reason whatsoever.

So, one good thing I am very happy today writing about is the change of guards in the offices of the Security Service Chiefs by President Mohammadu Buhari.

Though not coming soon enough because their service tenors had long expired, yet, for this necessary gesture, I must say, “Thank you, Mr. President”.

I must also use this opportunity to remind Mr. President of the more urgent need of restructuring Nigeria as his special parting gift to Nigerians and the new government he shall be handing over power to, in 2023.

At least, from here, we can start by having a comprehensive assessment, and ready to, if need be, start afresh in re-organizing the national security architecture.

I am sure the new service chiefs will get to work immediately.

Underlisted are the out-going Security Chiefs and their replacements:

  1. Major General Leo  Irabor replaced General Abayomi Olanisakin as Chief of Defence Staff.
  2. General Ibrahim Attahiru replaced Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai as Chief of Army Staff.
  3. Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo replaced Vice Admiral Ibok Ete Ekwe Ibas as Chief of Naval Staff
  4. Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao replaced Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff.

The kaleidoscope has gone through the record of their published activities in the military careers of these officers, and there is no doubt they are all courageous officers who had done their best in the service of the country.

On behalf of myself and my opinion column, I say, “Welcome, gentlemen, to what eventually may be the greatest tasks of your military career, before you join us in private life. To whom much is given, much more is expected from. Your presence in the task of securing Nigeria is a product of necessity. You must be well assured of the love and co-operation of Nigerians for your success because you are the people Nigerians have been waiting for. You must succeed. Though the insecurity of life and property in the country is both enormous and daunting, you must succeed. You have no other option because Nigeria and Nigerians look upon you to succeed and bring back sanity to the country.

We wish you the best of luck”


And lastly …………it is debit alert in the fiducial integrity of some Nigerian banks who withhold the monetary assets of Nigerians left in trust for them on a fiducial contract to deliver fiduciary functions as per the terms of contract and as at when due.

Acting as fiduciaries both for individual and corporate entities, these banks go against the terms of their fiduciary duties and contracts, which most times, are net known by the individual or the corporate entity.

I recently had an experience in an ATM where the machine ‘refused’ to dispense my money after debiting my account.

Though a small amount – the little I could afford – I was pissed off that two other persons along the same IBTC ATM queue with me carrying the same ECOBANK ATM cards as me had the same experience with me.

Theirs were the highest limit the machine could dispense at a time and one of them, a woman had tried twice without being paid after debiting her account. We waited for hours for transaction reversal without success. We left.

I was shocked the following day on visiting an ECOBANK Branch to rectify the anomaly that out of about 70 persons in the ‘Customer Service’ queue, (I was given the number 60), more than two third of the people had the same problem as me.

We were asked to fill out a form which the security attendants were to submit to the customer service staff but I declined and opted not to release my filled-out form but preferred to see and talk with the Manager.

Two hours later, I met the Manager, a woman. I was told that the money will reverse in three, four or even seven days. I also heard from another staff of the Bank that the law allows the Bank up to 14 days for simple reversal of a failed transaction. With those explanations, I was tempted to ask: who will be in custody of the money vastly mopped up illegally by Banks across Nigeria, which many run into hundreds of millions of naira, everyday?

Is the CBN not aware that this sharp practice is going on in the banks or has the CBN aided the practice by its 14 day guideline for reversal? Several times, too, some banks disable or completely shut down their networks without warning and the ATM begin to malfunction as we hear such things like ‘network’ failure.

As somebody who in my younger years was a Financial Controller managing an investment portfolio of N60m in a natural rubber processing and export company with three production facilities across Nigeria (the company was rated by the CBN as the 79th highest Nigerian foreign exchange earner in non-oil export), I have a ‘modest’ knowledge of what goes on in the banks.

One of those things I know is that OPM (Other Peoples’ Money) can be tactically, discreetly but illegally withheld by banks and traded with – used to meet up with and fund their short-term credits and ‘calls’ to high-yielding businesses that pay above-the-ceiling interest rates. No interest is usually remitted to the accounts of people whose monies were illegally mopped up to execute such deals.

We must not only criticize the government and government officials. Nigerians, individually, have roles to play to make this country work well. The CBN should find out why failed ATM or POS transaction reversal must not be affected within minutes. There must be sabotage going on because ATM operations are technology-driven, so there should be no excuses as long as the programs are honesty executed.

In other economics known to me, these types of sharp practices in banks amount to fiducial crimes and they attract heavy fines and / or different jail terms depending on the nature of the crime.

I have my evidence if the banks I have just mentioned or the CBN doubts my observation. Besides, I am sure many Nigerians will show up to recount their experiences in this unauthorized and dubious withholding and appropriation of peoples’ monetary resources to amass illegal profits for the banks’ balance sheets.

The Kaleidoscope understands other sharp practices going on in the banks such as multiple electronic commands on some bank charges, manipulation of foreign exchange transfer procedure, direct investment in unauthorized businesses, and dubious insider activities and round -tripping on the banks stocks. These combined, have made great wealth for Nigerian bank executives and elevated them to tin gods. It has also given the banks the unearned advantage of declaring huge annual profits in an ailing economy.

We shall talk about the above sharp practices some other day.



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