Saturday, 31 July 2010

Now that Aboki is out of Prison

By Joachim Ezeji

Ever since Aboki came into media limelight, I had tactically evaded making an article on him. The temptation to write about him or about his frays with the Ikedi Ohakim’s government had been strong considering the fact that I have a record of criticizing bad governance that have persisted in the state. Recently, Aboki has come to do same but in a most brute manner based on the incontrovertible facts he dishes out. But today, I am compelled to write this piece on Aboki and in salute of justice.

Aboki, as I have chosen to call him was my senior at the Government Secondary School, Owerri. Then, he was a quiet and easy going senior, and as a result was a friend to many ‘junior’ students. He was simply just too cool and would even pick up quarrels with any of his classmates with a penchant for punishing younger students. Then he was noted for his great attention to details and ability to easily communicate in good English, because of that he was also called “Prof”, another title he then wielded in equal measure with “Aboki”. Both were his ‘guy’ names.

After Government College, we never really met again, but I learnt that he proceeded straight to University. When we eventually met again, a long time later, I called him “Prof”; which I still call him till date, he smiled and told me he reads my articles, commending me for it, and imploring me to continue. Then at Government Secondary School, I was the Editor –in- Chief of the Press Club, and because of that was to a large extent famous. Aboki, was excited that I was still writing, many years on.

I am therefore elated that Aboki’s illegal and most bizarre conviction has been quashed by a superior court. Kudos is here given to Hon. Justice Nonyerem Okoronkwo of High Court 8 Owerri for this act of courage in the midst of official conspiracy as witnessed in the lower magistrate court. I also congratulate Barrister LM Alozie for standing firm for the oppressed. Both men are men of integrity; sure, we need more of their type in our already debased society.

Really, I do not hate Ohakim but the only axe I have to grind with him is his style of governance which is generally anti-people and retrogressive. Sadly, his government operates just below average creative trust, and has woefully failed in building the requisite bridge between the people and their government.I wonder if the bonding really exist within his team.

Yet, he retains sheer opportunistic people like one Okpalaeke Cletus, who is supposedly his image maker. For Mr. Okpalaeke Cletus to describe Aboki as an illegal petrol, kerosene and diesel dealer in a Weekend Vanguard news interview is absurd. It exposes the sheer contempt the so called ruling elites have for those at the bottom of the pyramid i.e. the struggling masses. If Aboki is at all illegal, what stopped the government trying him under the relevant laws. I do not belong to the school of thought where principals are allowed to describe their subjects in degrading adjectives.

In the said interview, when Mr. Okpalaeke was confronted with the reality of Citizen Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha’s reality on Ohakim; Mr. Okpalaeke had said: “First and foremost, where did Samuelson emerge from to become the biggest subject of media discussion in Imo State for almost half a year? Samuelson was an illegal petrol, kerosene and diesel dealer. You know the roadside black market dealer”.

Mr. Okpalaeke wasn’t done yet, he continued: “His structure was demolished by Imo State Environmental Sanitation agents……………… It was the demolition of illegal structures in Owerri, capital of Imo State that gave birth to Samuelson the media darling. Samuelson has not had the time in his busy illegal fuel dealership to become an internet wizard, but with the demolition of the illegal structure, Samuelson suddenly became a celebrated internet media icon and computer wizard”.

Finally he said “Personally, if I was in charge of the information ministry, I would have totally ignored Samuelson. Regardless of what Samuelson may have written or said, I would have ignored him and at most, having the police make him verify the veracity of his publications since he is willing to be used as a genuine pig by affixing his name on other people’s publications”.

I find it utterly difficult to reconcile the rationale behind the use of those words. Was it an act of hubris by an absolutely unknown Mr Cletus Okpalaeke to impress his benefactor or was it simply because of the lack of appropriate words. Whatever it was, it is sheer stupidity on the part of Mr. Cletus Okpalaeke to describe Aboki in those terms. No doubt, those are one of the antics of overzealous and hungry appointees who are ever willing to impress their bosses.

Perhaps Mr Cletus Okpalaeke need be reminded that it is not too late to either use the moribund Imo House of Assembly or the police to make Aboki prove his case as he suggested. I think that would have been much better than having Almighty Ikedi Ohakim stooping so low to abduct and flog Aboki in the governor’s office; a public building built and maintained by public funds.

Painfully, it has become a national tragedy, that Nigeria rather than be in well knitted engagement with its citizens especially its graduates would rather abandon them to be on the street selling petrol, kerosene and diesel. That comment by Cletus Okpalaeke once again exposes the hypocrisy of those in government. And sadly, government is populated by scoundrels, 419ners, simpletons, charlatans, mediocre and rogues etc.

For most of us on the sidelines, especially those of us who have the courage to suggest alternative viewpoints, we are hated, harassed, illegally imprisoned and then described in the oddest of terms even when we claim to practice democracy.

Even at a much younger age, you need not look very far to find out that even from the sidelines we are much better qualified in terms of educational attainment, professional networks, international exposure, community engagement and overall aptitude much more than those who have only come into government to 'chop'. Yet, they would neither allow us to live nor be free in our own land. They persist in their destruction of our common wealth, exacerbating and perpetuating a system that hardly allows great minds to emerge and ventilate it.

However, now that Aboki is out of prison, may I make my stand known; and that is, that Chief Magistrate Victoria Isiguzo having become a controversial personality in the judiciary be shown out of the judiciary with immediate effect. I am suggesting that signatures be collected to formally demand for her sack from the National Judicial Council (NJC). The new Imo state that we eagerly look ahead for in 2011 should be spared the likes of Mrs. Victoria Isiguzo who takes pleasure in dispensing injustice.

Finally, we have to note that the prison doors are not shut yet; they are still open, albeit ajar, waiting for the next set of inmates. No doubt, those inmates know themselves and will certainly take their turn when the people's votes come to count in 2011 elections. For me, I can’t wait for the accident of 2007 to end.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

The big society: My Childhood @ Okigwe

Joachim Ezeji

I can still remember events of days of yore, days of yesterdays. Then I was just a small boy, an infant still trying to understand my milieu. It was a memorable era as much as my memories can recede back to history, to the then little and serene town of Okigwe in south –eastern Nigeria. I was not born in Okigwe, but it is as good as if it was, because my parents had just had me, when the call of duty saw my father changing work station; departing the big commercial city of Onitsha, for Okigwe, a town just too minuscule to the gigantic size of Onitsha, a city of the timbres and calibres of trade and commerce.

As a bank staff in the then African Continental Bank ltd, my father had a job that had a fair wage that enabled him to adequately care for and take care of his young family. Before me was Vitalis, my senior brother who was just a year older than me. He, himself had been born in Uboma, a few years after the Nigerian- Biafra Civil War. My people were the Biafra’s and had suffered the atrocities of the war most. Before Vitalis, was Ndidiamaka, our supposedly senior sister, who unfortunately died even before her first birthday during those dark days in the village, where want and misery was the order consequent of the civil war that just ended.

Growing up in Okigwe was great. Though a small and serene town, Okigwe was a big society. People knew each other and easily identified who your father was wherever you are seen; you need not necessarily mention your surname. There was love, understanding and good neighbourliness. Crime existed, but at insignificant scales. Then, armed Robbery and kidnapping were alien vices and were rarely heard of.

Though a child, I can still remember events of those days when electricity first came into the town. Before then, there was no electricity. Houses had no electric wirings because there was no need for them. We lived in total darkness, only lighting candles and kerosene lanterns at night. The implication was that there were no television sets or the opportunity of watching one. Then, if you came to Okigwe at a time such as 9 pm, you would find every resident already gone to bed with doors securely locked.

Then my mother had a provision store that also sells liquor especially beer. The store had a big sign that welcomes customers to the store. The inscription on that sign had read:‘Mrs R.C. Ezeji Provision and Liquor Off-Licence Store’. The sign board then served a special purpose for most of the kids on our street as it provided the first learning board for pronouncing or reading english language words. Then, at less busy periods, me, my brother and our friends often gathered on its foot to gingerly read and pronounce its letters. It was an exciting ritual though often rowdy. The store was situated in Ike Road by the then Nne-Amaka buildings. Then, customers walked into the store in large numbers. It provided a gathering point and leisure to the bulk of the residents on Ike Road and beyond. One attractive bait in that store then, was that my mother was amongst a very few who sold cold drinks. My father had bought and equipped the store with a fridge that used both kerosene and electricity. Since there was no electricity, she used kerosene in running the fridge. Low and Behold, the fridge produced well chilled drinks and ice blocks. As a consequence, customers came in droves. Most of the residents were traders, teachers, council workers and other civil servants.

The absence of electricity in Okigwe in those days constrained growth and made Okigwe to be so heavily dependent on other towns such as Enugu, Onitsha and Umuahia; all nearby towns. But, I think that Enugu and Onitsha had the greatest influence as the bulk of the confectionaries such as bread and snacks (e.g. Chinchim) were all made and conveyed from those towns to Okigwe. Nevertheless the efficiency of delivery was great as Okigwe never lacked any of them in good quantity, but for quality, I cant tell. Then we knew all the Bakery trucks by their names and time of arrival.

When electricity finally arrived Okigwe, a new kind of life came with it. The new kind of life includes the luxury of watching a television. Then, landlords had no quarrel in supporting their tenants reap this dividend as they immediately wired their buildings without delay. Also, my father did not hesitate to purchase a television set for our leisure. The necessity was brought to the fore when it almost became a routine to move from house to house of those who had television, searching for my brother, who in the course of watching late night movies in other neighbour’s homes often slept off. To arrest that problem, my mother insisted my father must buy a television for the children. And when the television came, Vitalis promptly colonized it.

As usual water and sanitation in Okigwe was a big challenge. Then, residents generally had to source water from raw sources. As a hilly and rocky down, Okigwe had a geology that is blessed with good aquifers. There are thousands of springs supplying clean water supplies to Okigwe residents. It was only distance that determined which one you used. As kids we preferred going to distant springs out of curiosity or to further have fun. Then, you often have to queue for hours to get water. When there are delays in our returning home, our mother will come looking for us. Often, it would be neighbours who would often reveal where they last saw us. With such tips we were easily located and brought home with or without the water, but for sure we must have had some good fun.

Ironically, most of those springs were developed and protected with spring boxes built by colonial administrators of the past. Present day government in Nigeria is not keen in investing in such infrastructure even when the World Health Organisation (WHO) lists protected spring as an acceptable water supply source. The sustainability of those springs now is under threat everywhere in Okigwe. As far as my memory can go, no further maintenance has been carried out on them except self-help group efforts by locals. In some places, lands hosting springs had been sold and new owners opting to destroy the springs and setting up residential buildings with diesel powered boreholes.

The only semblance of utility supplied waters where those that came with the public taps which had people queuing for long hours with containers waiting for the tap to start ‘running’. Whenever it does, out right struggle often sets in. Then, your ability to get water from those taps was a case of survival of the fittest. Fights, quarrels and verbal abuses were common though they were easily resolved and people became friends again. However, the consequence was that the infrastructure often gets damaged, and water supply from them ceasing for some time. But even at that response by the utility was often prompt.

On the other hand, sanitation was a concern. As was typical of major towns in Nigeria then, including Port Harcout, Lagos, Warri, Owerri, Enugu and Kano etc most houses in Okigwe then had bucket latrine systems. It was only in the 1980’s that this system was abolished in parts of Nigeria. Then, as you squat to use the system, you see the faeces of others before you. It was a sorry sight and most unhygienic but that was what we had. Night soil men were also common as we knew who one was. They thrive only in the night, taking the buckets away and emptying them in the ‘Iyi- echu’ stream, a small but perennial stream that drains the town. As a result of this activity, most residents refrained from eating big species of fish especially the Tilapia, which then was very common in the stream, saying that the fishes were big in size because of the abundant faeces they ate. But for us, as young as we were then, we had fun fishing in the stream and catching those Tilapia. Catching and frying tilapia was a childhood garland.
To be continued!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Ill Advised: NCC’s N6.4bn SIM cards Registration Budget

Joachim Ibeziako Ezeji

In 2007 I had travelled abroad for six months, and unlike my previous trips, I returned to discover that my GSM number was no longer mine, it has been re-allocated by MTN. This was despite the fact that I had bought that line (08035767048) at an exorbitant price of N14, 000 (US$100) in 2004. When I visited the MTN office on Wetheral Road, Owerri to find out why it has to do that, what I got was an arrogant response that I’m not supposed to travel out for long without making provision for roaming my phone. On further enquiry on how to roam, MTN told me that it would cost me a minimum of N50, 000 (US$320) to initially set up roaming. To me that was outright extortion and unacceptable.

Based on suggestions by worried friends and acquaintances that inundated me with queries on what was wrong with my line, I came to find out that MTN had already resold my number to another customer, an Alhaji, who lives in Kano. To confirm this development, I put a call through on the number, and low and behold, it was true, as a friendly voice from a Hausa/Fulani man picked the call. He identified himself as an Alhaji, confessing that he had already received thousands of calls on my behalf. He also said that he has been having sleepless night as a result. I was not surprise that was the case, because that line was me in totality. It was a primary communication medium for all my businesses both local and international. Alhaji accepted to return the number to me provided we worked out the conditions. But that was not to be, as I soon jetted out again, out of the country within a few days.

I am therefore keen to find out how the proposal by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to spend N6.4 billion on the registration of SIM cards in its 2010 Budget would fit into such excesses by service providers like MTN. Would it mean that henceforth, even if I travels and stay away for 12 months that my line won’t be revoked and resold?

In as much as I absolutely find nothing wrong with acquiring data of network customers in Nigeria, I find a lot wrong and faulty by NCC doing it, and the way it has chosen to do it. To me this amounts to a colossal conspiracy to loot public funds. It is absolutely bizarre. It baffles me that even the National Assembly could allow this seemingly day light fraud to stand. I will argue it from just 5 points.

First, a SIM card registration similar to the current exercise would have been plausible had it been that we truly have a viable and working national ID card data base. What we currently have is an outright caricature of how it exists in other countries. The national ID card scheme in Nigeria failed and is incapable of providing a backbone or shield for the current SIM card registration exercise. Without a viable National ID card scheme, how sure are we, that the information being provided by those queuing to register their SIM is actually correct.

Second, what technology is being used for the registration? Is it a networked computer system that shares data nationally or merely a one stop entry system computer that is akin to manual entry? Is the data capturing merely being written down on note books? Against these backgrounds, what is the guaranty that data being provided is secured to safeguard it from theft and use against innocent victims i.e. what mechanisms exist to guide against identity theft?

Third, to what extent was the level of stakeholders’ sensitization, mobilization and participation carried out prior to the current registration? Stakeholders’ in this regards include network customers, service providers such as MTN, the government and also the small scale retailers and hawkers of the cards etc. The failure of this component in the whole arrangement is certainly its nunc dimities. In a country with highly sophisticated informal sector such as ours’, the sensitization and engagement of stakeholders is the only plausible pathway capable of enlisting workable suggestions for this scheme. But when one man sitting somewhere with crude ideas of how to make quick money is allowed to have his way, this is exactly the kind of schemes that are pushed down to us. They will tell you that network users would not need to pay money to register their details, but that is just one side of the story. Another side of the story is that there is a colossal N6.4 billion that is to be looted in disguise. How sustainable is the scheme? How much data will that amount of money register before it runs out? Who will fund follow up exercises? The whole set-up is simply ridiculous and riddled with puzzles upon puzzles. Moreover, experience has shown that when things are merely conceived from above and pushed down just like that, then look around very well, you would find out there; a clique out to “Chop Money”. Once that N6.4 billion is squandered, nothing again would be heard about the scheme. It would be dead as the National ID card.

Fourth, is registration of SIM cards the job of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)? The outright answer is a big – No. The proposal is out rightly a curious exercise because the NCC being a regulator ought not to have any business with registration of SIM cards. Such exercise should be the responsibility of the service providers. This is the case everywhere where users’ details are ever taken. Moreover there is nothing innovative about the idea other than the haste to loot the N6.4 billion by those promoting it. There are more cost effective innovative ways to achieve a similar result. For example, service providers could be directed to sale telephones on contract bases as is done in Europe and America. What this means is that new phones would henceforth mostly be given out on contract bases. With such contracts the data of subscribers is easily gathered.

Finally, enforcement; I am interested to know who is going to enforce this scheme. What if I refuse to register my details, who is going to force me to comply? There is currently no law backing this scheme, so customers who opt not to register their details are certainly not breaking the law. Would the police be used to implement this illegal scheme or is it the courts, who?

I have also heard people applaud the scheme as being capable of arresting or deterring kidnapping. But that is the most watery arguments in its support so far. Kidnappers often make calls only with the lines of their victims, not theirs. The persistence of kidnapping in Nigeria and the resort to this scheme as a panacea exposes the lack of capacity to think out genuine solutions. I will juxtapose my argument with the event of the kidnap of the British boy – Sahil Saeed who was snatched from his residence in Jhelum, a city in northeast Pakistan, in March 2010.
The kidnappers had put a ransom of £100,000 in cash on the head of the 5 years old boy. A series of telephone calls between the kidnappers and the boy’s father Raja Saeed provided the clue to smash the syndicate which also had international dimensions.

Follow up investigations made via tracking the GSM networked lines of the kidnappers saw to their eventual arrests. Two Pakistani men and a Romanian woman were arrested in a flat 6 miles South of Barcelona and another two other suspects were arrested at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. The Kidnappers were arrested and detained just hours after Sahil was freed by his captors immediately after the ransom was paid. Payment of the ransom had been a collective agreement by the security forces that relied on the effectiveness of a closely co-ordinated surveillance operation involving officers from Britain, France and Spain. The Surveillance was built on phone calls, most of which were made from Barcelona.

The original ransom demand came from an Urdu speaker who gave the family a three-day deadline to pay the cash in Manchester, before changing the drop-off destination to Paris. A total of 15 instruction calls were made, four of which came from Barcelona, police said. Mobile phones on which some of the calls were made were found in the raided flat, they added.
In a statement, Spanish police added: 'To comply with the deadline, the boy's father travelled to Manchester. 'Once there he received new instructions ordering him to travel to Paris with the money. It was in this city that the place for the handover was finally determined. 'Several people went to that place, in a public street, and police observed the criminals split the money and put it into a small bag and a small suitcase with wheels.

'The boy's whereabouts was unknown so the people who had gone to pick up the money, a man and a woman, were tailed. 'The French police followed them in a car to the border where Spanish police took over. 'After travelling around Barcelona they headed to Constanti, parked up and took several packages and the suitcase in which they had placed most of the ransom money out of the car, helped by a third person, before heading into a nearby flat.

'A watch was placed on the property until police were certain the boy had been released in Pakistan and the operation to arrest the suspects was then launched.' Police refused to give a timeline for the rescue, but Sahil was later found wandering in a field in the village of Dinga in Punjab.

The success of the operation was not based on any SIM card registration; Please, Nigeria, wake up!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Super Eagles: Jonathan is missing the point (2)

By Joachim Ezeji
Events in the previous week have almost made the continuation of this title stale. However, I am keen to complete my story based on emerging issues. One of those is that the Alhaji Lulu led National Football Federation (NFF) has been dissolved by the NFF board. Members of the Alhaji Lulu led executive are also currently before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to respond to related corruption charges. Also, the recent banning of the national teams from all international competitions by the Federal Government of Nigeria has been rescinded by the Federal Government while the Federation International Football Association (FIFA) has given its blessing to the current probe of the Lulu led executive.
At the eve of the first part of this article, FIFA had insisted through an ultimatum that the Nigerian government must rescind its decision or face a ban of immense proportion. When I learnt about that, I was of the view however, that FIFA should allow Nigeria to sort its corruption issues out. I am happy that FIFA has done just that by supporting the probe, and also that the Federal Government of Nigeria has rescinded its decision.
But it should be pointed out that as the later day theatre plays out, that the jamboree to South Africa, is yet another episode in the regime of heist unleashed on Nigerian athletes and the country's youths in general by sports administrators. Just a few months to the 2010 World Cup, the sum of $230,000 was discovered missing from the safe of the NFF in its secretariat in Abuja.

Nigeria has been involved in several international sporting events either as host or participant in the past, however, most ending in controversies bordered on abuse of budgeted funds. The most recent list included the FIFA Under-20 World Football Championship held in 1999; the 8th All Africa Games held in 2003, 2008; the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, China, and the FIFA Under-17 World Football Championship held in 2009.
For the 2003 8th All Africa Games, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) headed by Dr. Amos Adamu squandered $300million (N4.5 trillion) on infrastructure and event proper. Aside the public outcry, the World Bank was forced to raise concerns about the amount of money spent on the construction of the new National Stadium Complex for the 2003 All African Games, saying the amount was exorbitant and should have been used to address massive poverty and other social crises in the country.

As at today, seven clear years after the event , claims and counter claims persists that many of the contractors who did various jobs for the event are still being owed huge sums of money. In addition to that are persisting controversies on whether Nigeria really got value for the huge resources put into hosting the games.

The first FIFA event in Nigeria was the World Youth Championship held in 1999. With the desperation of the then military administration to shut the mouths of critics, nothing was spared in terms of the deployment of funds to make the tournament a success. Under the haze of military secrecy, it would be almost impossible to know how much was exactly spent on that tournament.

Accountability, honesty and prudence has always remained a difficult norm for Nigerian sports administrator. A vivid example is the FIFA Under-17 World Football Championship that was held in 2009. The budget submitted by the shameless Nigerian sports administrators had quoted a whooping sum of N35 billion. It was only public outcries against this outrageous budget that startled those concerned and instilled some measure of decency.

Eventually, the N35 billion budget was pruned to a mere N9 billion. This came after The Late President Umaru Yar’Adua, heeding to public outcries, communicated FIFA on Nigeria’s decision to withdraw from hosting the tournament based on outrageous budget implication – a product of the dishonesty of Nigerian sport administrators.

To cover their flanks, these thieving Nigerian sport administrators had claimed before a senate committee that the budget was huge because it also contained provisions for providing facilities for the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and the rehabilitation of Kaduna, Bauchi, Lagos, Enugu and Abuja stadia.They also claimed that aside this extra provisions that the actual budget for the tournament was N11billion. What a smart defence? But do they need to do that without making such provisions explicit in the budget. Hiding or veiling such capital budgetary provision is nothing but fraud. Sadly, that matter was allowed to rest without further probe, and Nigeria went ahead to host that jamboree.

Nigeria’s participation in the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, China in 2008 is another sour example. The result was akin to the event in South Africa – a mixture of poor preparation and official dishonesty and the placing of personal interests above national interest. Despite the huge budgetary allocation, the nation’s contingent to the game returned home with one silver medal in U-23 soccer, three bronze medals – one each in Taekwondo, women’s long jump and women’s 4x100m relay.

Late President Yar’Adua’s had implored the contingent prior to departure to win eight gold medals, but that was not to be. Yet, Nigeria’s sport administrators returned to heap the blame on the late release of funds. Regrettably, till date no account has been publicly rendered in this regards. The reasons for the lack-lustre outing included while the Federal Government was, the administrators have been accused of

Remarkably, the same set of persons had always been behind the idea of Nigeria playing host to or participating in international sporting events. "Through these avenues they readily position themselves to make a kill because as usual they come up with ridiculous budgets and even go as far as requesting for supplementary funds, and of course they succeed because the government is a willing accomplice," said a veteran sports journalist who sought for confidentiality.

Interestingly, proper investigation into the shady deals and scams that always emasculate Nigeria’s engagement in international competition either as host or participants is yet to be initiated or conducted. But now Jonathan has sneezed, all eyes are therefore on him and the EFCC to sanitize the NFF. But I am afraid that the EFCC is being overburdened. Their ability to do a good job in this regard is suspect, as is traditionally the case for the past 3 years.

On the trail of the NFF saga is the now nauseating development is the latest Federal Government’s approval of the sum of N197 million for sports as part of the country’s 50th independence celebration in October 2010. The money is to be spent staging a friendly international friendly football match in Abuja. What a rationale to expend public funds; in a country where unemployment is as high as 70% amongst its graduate population, and where 50% of rural women and girls still trek over 2km to get drinking water as well as lacking access to the dignity and convenience of an improved sanitation?

President Jonathan would be missing the ultimate point, if through his actions or inactions; he fails to kill the now habitual appetite for and looting of public funds through jamboree sport engagement.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Super Eagles: Jonathan is missing the point (1)

I was amused to see a photograph of the Super Eagles on the Yahoo Sport (available at: with the caption: “World Cup 2010 - Nigeria suspends national team”. The story line then continued “Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has suspended the national football team from international competition for two years following their poor performance in the World Cup........”

But, I had immediately asked myself; is this all he can do to stem the tide? Yes, is all, was one question that popped into my head at that moment, as I could not see the full logic in what the Nigerian President has done. The president’s action was more like an act driven by impulse than critical thinking.

What is required to heal the NFF and extirpate corruption from it, is a public judicial enquiry on how all allocated funds were spent, including the recruitment of Coach Larger-Back. Interested parties and stakeholders should be invited to testify. All those found guilty of misappropriating funds should not only be sanctioned but totally banned from holding any public office for life, in addition to returning the funds they looted. Anything short of this amounts to window dressing and is incapable of retarding a repeat performance in the future. President Goodluck would be missing the point if he fails to do this.

The reason why I am advocating this position is because many Nigerians, especially the elites have grown the temerity in simply doing what is wrong. And, if Mr. Goodluck Jonathan must be reminded, (assuming he has forgotten) or informed (assuming that he does not know), the Nigerian Super Eagles are simply a reflection of the state of affairs in the country. Expecting to harvest yam when you have cultivated coconut is a dream that will always end up a mirage. As an impaired nation, Nigeria no longer inspires its citizens or anyone for that matter!

The state of affairs at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is shameful. The NFF has once again proven the Nigerian character of “Turn by Turn plc” i.e. a situation where a group of people come into leadership, not to develop or inspire progress but merely to simply advance their personal and private interest at the very extent of the objective for which they were either elected or imposed (foisted) to that position in the first instance.

Otherwise, how do you reconcile the nostalgic report by the National Daily, a national newspaper (report not yet refuted) that not less than N2.25billion was credited to the accounts of the Nigerian football authorities in the aftermath of Nigeria's qualification for the World Cup. The world soccer ruling body, FIFA, gave the NFF $1million for the preparation of the Super Eagles for the competition and $8million paid upfront for playing all three first round matches of the competition.
This amount of money totalling $9million (N1.35billion) according to the newspaper report was exclusive of the N900million grant received by the NFF from the Federal Government for the preparation and participation of the national team in the World Cup.

With a whooping N2.3 billion in the kitty, the first thing the NFF did was to travel to South Africa to book hotel accommodations for the Eagles at an outrageous amount. The subsequent bickering over ensuing largess from this stirred up concerns about quality and standard hence making the Sports Minister, Isa Bio, to cancel the payment, but the NFF would have none of that, hence insisted on paying a nebulous $125,000 to the hotel for breach of contract.

Yet again, the almighty NFF recruited 87 men and women, aside all the NFF executive board members, granting them all-expenses paid trip to South Africa for the World Cup. It had been reported that the 87 people were made up of all the 37 Football Association chairmen in the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja, and another 30 men and women whose roles in Nigeria football could not be immediately ascertained; including two wives and four children of Alhaji Sani Lulu, the NFF President.
In an interview while in South Africa, Alhaji Sani Lulu had said "Like I told some people before we left for South Africa, the World Cup gives us an opportunity to expose our people to big tournaments, all the people we have taken to South Africa are stakeholders in Nigerian football and it is good for them to come and learn what it takes to organise a tournament like the World Cup, because we may decide to host it in the nearest future, and as far as my wives and children are concerned, who says I cannot take my family to anywhere? If they are in South Africa, who told them it's on the bill of the NFF?"

Indeed, with the astronomic rise in the cost of return ticket to South Africa and the ripple effect hosting the World Cup has had on cost of accommodation (a decent hotel room reportedly attracts $350 a night), feeding, transport and match tickets in South Africa, the NFF is definitely spending a fortune on the welfare of its ‘pilgrims’. This development, observers averred, is tantamount to diverting funds meant for the development of Nigeria football to frivolous ventures.

And now that President Jonathan Goodluck has dissolved the NFF and banned Nigeria’s further participation in international tournament the NFF is crying out to FIFA to intervene. Just last week, the NFF held a closed door meeting where it agreed to send its first Vice Chairman Mr. Amanze Uchegbulam to South Africa to officially protest to FIFA. The NFF had described the sack as government interference in the running of football in the country. But the State Security Service (SSS) officials at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos stopped the Mr. Uchegbulam, from travelling out of the country.

Sadly, looting and frivolous lifestyles (as we currently see in Nigeria) is becoming a norm as looting and graft ridden elites grow bolder by the day. The result is that nothing works, and as a result Nigeria dies. For example, it would be good to find out how much Alhaji Lulu earns per annum and the accompanying tax he pays? This would enable us to ascertain his capability to make such a luxurious trip to South Africa with his family. President Goodluck Jonathan would be missing the point if he fails to help us find out.
To be continued next week