Nigeria: No Tunnel, No Light, No End, If…

Nigeria: No Tunnel, No Light, No End, If…

28th April 2024, NewsOrient
Opinion, Column
News Update

OUR philosophy of robing an unwillingness to act with heaps of hope will be the final ruination of Nigeria unless we bring it to an abrupt but decisive halt. We enjoy the convenience of deceiving ourselves with claims about a certain tunnel with light at the end.

The legend is that we should strive to locate the exit of a tunnel. The fallacies about this tunnel are that it has light at the end. Nigeria abhors light. It may not be an official position.

Our practices, however, suggest otherwise.
If such a tunnel exists, ours must be without light. Why can’t we be truthful enough to tell ourselves that there is darkness at the end of the tunnel.
We live a certain deceit about a rosy future, forgetting that things would not fall on our laps because we keep saying “It’s well”, at the instance of the religious. We have excelled in building hope on nothing.

Nowhere has “It’s well” resolved a situation. When applied with a matching frequency to the challenges of Nigeria, the cliché sounds more like a surrender to the despairing times and submission to the unknown consequences of living in Nigeria.

The much-maligned Yahaya Adoza Bello, former Governor of Kogi State, is a perfect fit for the search for light at the end of the tunnel. EFCC raised hell the other week in an orchestrated campaign to arraign Bello over allegations that Bello helped himself to more than N80 billion of Kogi State funds.

Abuja was abuzz with tales of EFFC’s seige to Bello’s house on Benghazi Street, Wuse Zone IV, Abuja. With his street locked, movements restricted, the public argued about the manner of Bello’s arrest, not whether he had a chance of escaping as he later did.

Those in the know say all that drama, including declaring Bello wanted, having the Immigration Service alerting the border posts about him escaping to North Africa, EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, a pastor swearing he would resign if he did not prosecute Bello, were mere sizzled jazz.

Did it take long before the police joined the fray to allow Bello to breathe? Where else would the police chief ask police officers attached to a wanted man to return to base immediately without the suspect?

Why did the Inspector-General of Police not tell the officers attached to Bello to arrest the former Governor? None of us, we should agree, speculating why Bello was left free, understands how the police works. It is a complex web that hardly works.

Further speculations are permitted. It was the EFCC, not the police, that declared Bello wanted. It was up to EFCC officers to earn their pay. Experts say the police aided EFFC by pulling out its officers.

EFFC’s disinterest in arresting Bello was obvious a little after he was set free during the siege to Benghazi Street.

Kemi Pihnero, SAN, an EFCC lawyer, dropped the first hints that EFCC would not arrest Bello.

The senior lawyer said the Nigerian Army could be invited to arrest him. While we are trying to civilianise our processes, unsettling alternatives like Pihnero’s exist. Many were shocked at the military option.

Please remember that it took less than the time EFCC has attempted to arrest Bello to arrest Bobrisky, bring him to court, and throw him into jail. Bobrisky is not a former Governor.

Bello is breathing better. Human rights groups have rallied around him.

The Kogi State House of Assembly also passed a resolution asking EFFC to stay off their Bello. As the matter progresses in the resort to court orders and counter orders, the House could upgrade the resolution to a law.

National Assembly legislators of Kogi origin could also make a law restraining EFFC or whosoever from interfering with Bello’s liberty.

Things are so bad for EFCC that it has eaten a humble pie of withdrawing an appeal it filed to arrest Bello. The letter of withdrawal was pliant and slightly short of an apology. “The appellant herein intends to and do hereby wholly withdraw her appeal against the respondent in the above-mentioned appeal.

“This notice of withdrawal is predicated on the fact that; on the 17th of April 2024, the application filed by the appellant herein was overtaken by the decision of the same high court of Kogi State in the case of Alhaji Yahaya Bello Vs EFCC- Suit No: HCL/68m/2024, per A. I. Jamil.

“The orders made ex parte by Jamil on the 9th of February 2024 in said suit which is the subject of this appeal, was made to last pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion on notice which was finally determined by Jamil J. on the 17th April 2024.

“Furthermore, the notice of appeal was filed out of time and we, therefore, pray that the appeal be struck out for being filed out of time and incompetent.”

There was no reasonable attempt to arrest Bello. You cannot know a suspect is on Benghazi Street or holed up in Government House, Lokoja, and you are tasking security to watch for him at border posts.
What a waste of public attention and resources!

EFFC will not see any light because it is looking away from the light. There is no tunnel either. At best, EFCC has tunnel vision. Pastor Olukoyede is the proof that a national assignment can be personalised to nothingness. I hope that he realises that getting Bello to court would not be hassle free, as was Bobrisky.

Olukoyede failed to give a time frame within which he would prosecute Bello. He has a case that cannot be resolved with “it is well”.

It is not well. Nigerians are entitled to know why all the sudden noise about Bello who had a veneer of legality to delay his appearance in court.

Did EFCC not know that the matter was pending at a Kogi High Court?
What informed EFCC’s hurry to disobey the court order? How many economic and financial crime suspects has EFFC arrested or brought to court with such unbecoming haste?

Many of these suspects do not have a court cover to wave at EFCC, yet they are unshackled.

Nigerians should not permit themselves to be distracted by these illustrated images of sanitising the country. Nigeria has no tunnel. There is no light to expect until we create it.

IS Nigeria at war with Nigerians? Incidents of mal-treatment of travellers and passengers have continued unabated.

Security agents create check points on the road with the main intention to extort money from people.

Those who refuse to pay are harassed, delayed, and in some cases shot. In some locations, sheer cruelty has been added to the burden of travellers who the security agents humiliate for their pleasure.

The Nigeria Air Force in Owerri has for years manned a check point near the road that forks into Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport. Vehicles can stretch for kilometres to be cleared. Something worse happens. All passengers in buses are asked to disembark and walk across to meet their empty buses. It does not matter if it is raining. Whether the passengers are pregnant, elderly, on crutches, crippled, mangled, or carried across is none of the business of these Air Force personnel. If the matter is brought to the attention of the authorities, the cruelties are stopped only for a few days.

Nothing in this additional hardship created for travellers has improved security. The authorities should see to the end of this obnoxious practice, not only near the Owerri airport, but anywhere else it obtains.

WHAT do our banks do? A lot, some would answer, from their experience. What is certain is that our banks make money, tonnes of money. The humongous profit in their annual reports takes one back to the question. How can banks that do not lend to the productive sector make so much money every year in an economy that is on its belly?

Experts on money-making can fish out the skills that banks use in making trillions of Naira in a year. The skills should be harvested, interrogated, and applied to other areas that need to turn around.

We should note that banks are sacking staff, while all that money, invest more in short-term loans, and most of them are involved in unethical conducts like insider information infractions.

FOR those who still praise the economic sagacity of people who play with the Naira as economic policy, they hopefully will be impressed by the latest yo-yo of the Naira.

Non-economic subject matter experts like us think that no magic wand exists that can strengthen the value of the Naira. Production is low, electricity costs keep rising, insecurity and energy costs make all travels more expensive, and it limits food production and its transportation to where it is needed. These hit the Naira badly.

Nobody should forget that crude oil, our main national revenue source, is stolen wantonly at several points – during exploration, at export terminals, as revenue in the national till, and padded budgets which are treated like comedy.

If we can take care of these economic and security crimes, the value of the Naira would rise.

Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues

~ NewsOrient