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The agonies of Buhari and Oshiomhole

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Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, September 28, 2020)

For the All Progressives Congress, it’s not raining, it’s pouring but the umbrella is with the hot-chasing rival, the Peoples Democratic Party.

Each time Nigerian President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), boots a penalty kick into throw-in, I begin to ponder the importance of secondary school education as a useful tool for political leadership.

Whenever I imagine how former comrade, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, hid his tragic flaws, and led labour unions out against governments, only to now fall face down to the very ills of hypocrisy and highhandedness for which he had countlessly grounded the country back in the day, I take heed of the idiom, which says character, like smoke, can’t be trapped in a fist.

The illogicality of some self-indicting pronouncements by Buhari leaves so much bile in the stomach and provokes the mouth to snarl the Igbo proverb, “If the oracle asserts too much power, it will be shown the tree it was carved from.”

Last week, Oshiomhole’s rootless invincibility was dragged naked to the Ovia River by his ruthless ex-godson, Godwin Obaseki, who decimated the godfather and set Edo electorate agog.

Devastatingly, the Interstate Ballistic Missiles deployed by the coalition of enemies-turned-friends in the Edo electoral blitzkrieg also hit the chief priest of godfather politics in Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, ripping apart his political carapace while the song, “Edo no be Lagos,” erupted in the camp of the prodigally famous PDP.

Aside from demystifying Buhari’s APC and disgracing the Lagos-Edo godfathers, the battle for the soul of Edo between the two major political parties reveals that lust for power was the superglue that binds Nigeria’s political elite, and not the love of the masses because the countdown to the election was totally bereft of masses-oriented issues but abusive rants by both parties.

I, hereby, invite Nigeria-loving comrades, not labour union-exploiting, brown khaki-wearing ‘come-raids’, into the world of Yoruba mythology as I tell the story of Ifa and Okete.

Every land has a name for the okete. Among the Yoruba, okete is the pouched rat with the famed white-tipped tail. Long before it was demystified and became a choice delicacy in earthen pot soups, okete was a bosom friend of Orunmila, the grand priest of Ifa – Yoruba’s traditional religion and system of divination. Okete was also an adherent of Ifa.

According to the Araba of Osogbo, Ifayemi Elebuibon, Orunmila grew suspicious when the secrets of his divination became subjects of discussion in the marketplace. Thus, Orunmila consulted Ifa, who told him what to do.

On the third day, as commanded by Ifa, Orunmila stood before his shrine and looked skywards, chanting some incantations and suddenly brought down his spear, driving it hard into the earth in one fell swoop. There was a violent vibration within the earth as the spear pierced an unseen creature. The creature had burrowed a tunnel from its house through to Orunmila’s shrine, where it daily listened to Ifa divinations from under the ground.

Orunmila yanked out the spear together with its kill from inside the ground and okete was seen at the long end, bleeding from a cracked skull with spilled brains. Disappointed, Orunmila lamented the treachery of Okete in these very words, “Okete, ba yi ni iwa re, o ba Ifa mu’le, o da Ifa.”

Without jibber-jabbering, the oath President Buhari swore to, on behalf of Nigerians, is to protect the Constitution of the Federal Republic. And the Constitution guarantees the inalienable right of Nigerians to aspire to any post in the land, among many other rights being more honoured in breach than in observance by the Major General Buhari regime.

The Nigerian Constitution guarantees equitable representation in appointments at the federal level – in line with the dictates of the country’s federal character policy which seeks to build national unity and foster a sense of belonging among the geopolitical zones of the country.

Buhari’s unsurpassable kith-and-kin governance, however, has consistently negated this constitutional provision with ALL key security headships, except one, going to northerners. Similarly, the heads of more than 80 percent of critical non-security agencies are from the North with Buhari hand-picking junior northerners above their far more competent southern superiors – to head the organisations.

Last week, I read with mouth agape, the strident call of a president with an unenviable track record of nepotism, demanding from the United Nations an equitable representation on the Security Council. Major General Buhari who comes to equity, mustn’t come with bloodied hands.

In a video sent to a virtual meeting by world leaders to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN, Buhari said there was the need for fair and equitable representation in the Security Council ‘if we must achieve the United Nations we need’.

By his penchant for clannishness, unjust distribution of appointments and projects, I’m strongly persuaded to believe that Buhari never made that equity-demanding statement credited to him by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina. That could never have been Buhari talking because equity won’t rehabilitate Boko Haram members while their homeless Christian victims are still in sackcloths, gnashing their teeth and mourning dead relatives. Equity won’t support Fulani herdsmen usurpation of southern territories while the Buhari government comes up with various policies seeking to legitimise their criminal activities.

Like okete, Buhari has clearly not stayed true to his oath to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the citizenry.

What about Oshiomhole? For some days, Oshiomhole went incommunicado from the public after the crushing defeat in Edo only to find his voice in a gym, where he futilely attempted to downplay the PDP victory by trying very hard to appear strong, unperturbed and sportsmanly.

In the same manner that okete was eventually subdued and exposed, the one minute, forty-seven seconds video exposes a subdued Oshiomhole painfully swallowing his pride and putting up a show, pretending to be oblivious that Obaseki now stands astride a certain coffin with a sledgehammer and nails in hand.

A hitherto tough-talking, no-nonsense, almighty Oshiomhole caught a pitiable sight as he sweated and clasped his hands like a defrauded merchant, prevaricating on the electoral loss.

Oshiomhole tried very hard to gloss over the loss but he failed. Without mentioning the nightmarish loss, Oshiomhole, in the video, also didn’t mention the name of his party, his party’s candidate, the PDP or Obaseki – all screaming telltales of living in denial.

If he was as strong, sportsmanly and undisturbed as he tried to evince in the video, Oshiomhole should’ve commended the electorate and the Independent National Electoral Commission for the conduct of the largely peaceful election. Also, he should’ve praised the standard bearer of his party, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, for putting up a good fight, and spared Obaseki and the PDP a word of congratulation.

But Oshiomhiole appeared devastated by the loss that put paid to a golden opportunity to reinvent himself in his Edo home base after he was sacked in Abuja as national chairman of the APC.

In retrospect, I think Oshiomhole would probably have wished he had tolerated Obaseki and retained the Edo Government House. Ize-Iyamu too would likely have fancied his political prospect if he had remained in the PDP. May the Lord direct my steps, lest I mismove in life.

Unwanted in Abuja, rejected in Edo, it’s now Oshiomole’s turn to taste the bitter pills he served his predecessor and former National Chairman of the APC, John Odigie-Oyegun; a former Edo governor, Lucky Igbinedion, and the late Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih, whom Oshiomole boastfully declared he retired.

In the next four years, it will take political mismanagement on the path of Obaseki for Oshiomhole to bounce back in Edo, a state intolerant of godfathers who shout hosanna in the morning and chorus, kill him at night.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

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Why Buhari can’t forgive Fani-Kayode, by Tunde Odesola

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The suya burnt his palms, but he was stoic, like a true Christian. Initially, he tossed the hot suya from palm to palm ping-pong, then flung open the Holy Bible with his left hand, and ripped off pages from the New Testament, placing the hot suya on the word of Christ. Calm embalms his palms.
A disciplined disciple, Mr Femi Adesina, Special Assistant on Media to Nigeria’s President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), gently washed down his suya with a gourd of chilled farm-fresh cow milk. Belching is a sign of delicious satisfaction.
With chunks of oil-dripping suya and an unending availability of cow milk, the fatalities accompanying cow breeding in Nigeria, such as Fulani blood-feast on farmers and farmlands, and northernised grazing routes, can be left to roam freely for eight tenured years or forever.
For good or for bad, there’s a coin to every issue. To eat meat in our land, something must give; Nigerians must bow to cow or die by bullet. This is our new normal. You can’t have your cow and eat it too. Life is give-and-take: give meat, take life.
Though many Nigerians would call him a ChriSTAIN, rather than a Christian, I’ll never call Adesina a stain. But I won’t call him a saint, either, because the hyssop leaves Adesina is using to wash the Buhari regime has turned scarlet. Why? I do not know. But I know red is the sign of danger. It is also the colour of blood, fear and death.
Adesina is not in government to steal, to kill, and to plunder. As an ardent Bible reader, Adesina is in government to serve the authority in Aso Rock, Buhari, and to be a fisher of men for Buhari’s murder-condoning regime.
Black, reserved and handsome, Adesina, as a fisherman in the Aso Rock vineyard, is casting his net into the deep, like other sinless cabinet members and angelic political lions across the land, catching plenty of fishes. For, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone…”
Verily, verily I say unto ye Nigerians, the god of Aso Rock, Buhari, appears to have given an unquestionable order, Herod-like, to all cabinet members and disciples, to win the vilest of men into the kingdom.
According to a scroll he wrote a day before Sabbath, Adesina gave reasons why the Kingdom of Aso Rock was prepared to accept all manner of questionable characters, ranging from the corrupt, to the prostitute, and the vomit-eating dog.
The megaphone of the war general, Adesina, likened Slanderer-in-Chief and Party-Hopper, Femi Fani-Kayode, to a prodigal son, in the scroll he wrote to defend the presidential pardon given to the defecting Fani-Kayode, whom he described as eating his vomit.
Adesina recalled that Fani-Kayode had wished Yusuf, the son of the General of Aso Rock, dead, when he had a motorbike accident in December 2017, stressing that Fani-Kayode had opened his mouth to cast aspersions on Buhari and his entire family countless times.
If Adesina had stopped at listing the uncountable allegations Fani-Kayode’s mouth ran against Buhari and his regime, he probably would have been counted among the prophets.
But in the manner of fake prophets, Adesina likened Buhari to god, saying, “By agreeing to the readmission of FFK to APC as the leader of the party, and hosting him at the Villa, President Buhari displayed amazing capacity to forgive, to show mercy, and let bygones be bygones…”
Quoting William Shakespeare in Merchant of Venice, Adesina added:
“The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blessed him that gives and him that takes…
It is an attribute of God Himself.”
If led by the flesh, Adesina affirmed that Buhari ‘would have told FFK to go to hell, and stay there. But Buhari didn’t. He displayed an attribute of God: forgiveness’.
This is the very point, where Adesina ascended the Tower of Babel, and lost his tongue, unable to make decipherable meaning henceforth – like Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist.
This is the very point when Adesina tore the pages of the New Testament, and twisted the parable of the Prodigal Son by Jesus Christ to suit the narrative of his paymaster, Buhari – to earn his daily bread.
In the words on the scroll issued by Adesina, the driving force behind the ‘forgiveness’ was a compelling desire to change Buhari’s long-held image as an unforgiving fascist to a benign overlord.
By the way, what does Buhari mean by saying he has forgiven the garrulous Fani-Kayode? Forgiveness for what? For alleged looting? Mark you, Fani-Kayode, on July 13, 2021, along with a former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman, still stood trial before Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly receiving part of the N4.9bn security vote purportedly shared by a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
In another corruption case, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on February 23, 2021, dragged Fani-Kayode before Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja, alleging that he received money stuffed inside a Ghana-Must-Go bag from the account section of the Office of the National Security Adviser, Abuja.
Is it in the same spirit of Buhari’s forgiveness that the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), withdrew the N25bn fraud case against a former Gombe governor and current Gombe-Central senator, Danjuma Goje – after the case had gulped N150m of taxpayers’ money?
Sadly, all the indicted heavyweight politicians, who called the shots during the Goodluck Jonathan ruinous years, and have defected to the All Progressives Congress, have had their passports and seized properties returned to them, making Buhari’s anti-corruption fight an Aki and Pawpaw comedy show.
If Buhari’s forgiveness of Fani-Kayode was on a personal note, taxpayers’ resources shouldn’t have been utilised to publicise the irritating event on national TV, radio and in newspapers.
By making a show of his act of ‘forgiveness’, Buhari has acted like the Pharisees and the Sadducees. For broadcasting and justifying the ‘forgiveness’, Adesina, like Buhari, is guilty of hypocritical holiness. And Jesus Christ says Pharisees and Sadducees, who do not desist from religious eye-service, will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
The sycophants singing into Buhari’s ears should be told in plain language that the N4.9bn financial corruption sin Fani-Kayode allegedly committed was against the Nigerian state, and not against the President.
Thankfully, Buhari has a pastor as a deputy. Pastor-Professor Yemi Osinbajo should teach Buhari the lessons inherent in the forgiveness Jesus Christ granted the robber on his right hand during the Crucifixion.
During his crucifixion, two robbers tied to crosses, flanked Jesus Christ. The one on the left taunted Jesus, telling him that if he was the Son of God, he should save Himself and them. But the one on the right acknowledged Christ as the Lord, and begged Him to remember him when he got to His Kingdom.
Because the robber on the right acknowledged his wrongdoing and confessed Jesus as Lord, he was saved, but the robber on the left wasn’t saved because he failed to repent and accept Jesus as Lord.
The lesson herein is that Fani-Kayode hasn’t confessed his guilt or proved his innocence before a court, so, he cannot be forgiven. President Buhari should know that Nigeria is not his herds of cattle that he can lead by the jerks of his ego. Nigeria must be led by the rule of law.
In a telephone chat, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the Philippines, Dr Yemi Farounbi, said Fani-Kayode wasn’t worth the dust raised over his defection, warning that bad advertisement could sway undiscerning members of the public.
I agree with the revered teacher, broadcaster, TV producer and author.
I’ll never waste my time recalling the innumerable curses, abuses and evocations Fani-Kayode has poured on Buhari, birds of a feather, they say, flock together.
But I’ll take exception to a 78-year-old mortal playing god, and his media acolyte, polluting the air with rancid tartuffery.
I hate nonsense!
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Twitter: @tunde_odesola
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Published in The PUNCH on Monday, September 27, 2021

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Opinion: Nigerian embassies of shame by Tunde Odesola (2)

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(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, September 20, 2021)

With a tongue roughly twice the length of its body, and a brocade of dubious colours for skin, the chameleon is the ultimate invisible animal predator.

Without premonition, small creatures like worms and insects searching for daily bread disappear suddenly into the Bermuda Triangle in the belly of the dodgy chameleon via a sticky, snappy tongue.

Like worms and insects, in June 2021 alone, 1,032 Nigerians met sudden death in the hands of gunmen and kidnappers across the country, according to a fresh security report.

Approximately, the 1,032 casualty figure translates to 34.4 wasted lives per day, excluding deaths by sicknesses, auto accidents, extrajudicial killings, ritual killings, etc in a peaceful country in pieces.

Home or abroad, the fate of the average Nigerian is mournful.

Home-based Nigerians are plagued by physical and psychological deaths just like Nigerians abroad are not spared psychological torture and humiliation in Nigerian embassies.

The overwhelming corruption yet pervading most Nigerian embassies despite numberless media reports in the last six years attests to the failure of the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari led-regime in curbing dishonest dealings that have cemented the green passport in the hall of infamy.

Lamenting the nasty treatment she went through in the hands of officials at the Nigeria High Commission in the UK, a registered nurse, Kemi Samuel, who has lived in England for over three decades, said she suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder whenever she visited the commission.

A registered nurse with more than 30 years under her belt, Samuel recalled that every Nigerian in England, notwithstanding their locations, was required to physically come to obtain visas, renew passports or get new ones.

Samuel explained that it was ridiculous that she renewed her 10-year British passport within two hours at Her Royal Majesty Passport Office, Globe House, London, while she laboured to renew her five-year Nigerian passport after visiting the high commission on seven different occasions.

She said, “If you want your British passport to be done as an emergency, you need to visit the passport office, but if you want to follow the normal process, it will arrive in your mail within four to five days.

“The reverse is the case in the Nigeria High Commission, where officials allow applicants to shunt the queue after bribing them. The officials were nasty to young and old, and they’ve no regard for children, women and the physically challenged. I was breastfeeding my baby and I had to leave my work each time I visited, meaning that I was losing money.

“In 1997, an immigration officer wanted to steal my passport at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. He hid my passport among the documents he was clutching and he said I didn’t give him my passport, and he was trying to walk away. I raised my voice and told him to bring out my passport from among the papers in his hands.

 

“In 2010 when I wanted to renew my passport, they said there were no booklets from Abuja, so I had to use my British passport.

 

“Between February and August of 2016, my daughter and I visited the high commission over 20 times to renew our passports! Nigerians came from other European countries to renew their passports, too.

 

“There was the pitiable case of a female Nigerian student who needed her passport to renew her studentship. She said that was the 11th time she had come to the commission.

 

“When we got to Nigeria, the carousel didn’t work as there was no light at the airport, prompting passengers to use the light of the phones. All that was strange to my daughter who suddenly felt pressed to use the toilet. She ran out of the toilet when she saw heaps of maggots.”

 

A Nigerian resident in Houston, Texas, who doesn’t want his name in print, lamented that he was asked to pay an unreceipted $20 as car park fee at the Nigerian embassy in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

The 50-year-old applicant, who is from southern Nigeria, said, “The embassy won’t process applications for more than one year, and after the expiration of one year, the applicant will be required to pay a fresh $195 as passport fee. Since it was the embassy that failed to produce passports as and when due, applicants should not be made to pay twice for passports.”

 

Nicknamed BB, the sad Nigerian also alleged that his online application was changed and ‘sold’ by embassy officials to another applicant who had bribed them.

 

“I picked up my American passport that can enable me to enter about 200 countries visa-free in my mailbox. I don’t know why my Nigerian passport, which nobody wants to see, is so problematic,” he  said.

 

Complaining about the terrible treatment meted out to visa and passport applicants at the Nigeria High Commission in London, a Nigerian, Sunday John, said applicants were never given appointment when they apply online.

 

He said, “They won’t give you an appointment when you apply online because they make money by giving appointments to those who have bribed them.

 

“Passport fee is 75 pounds but they will charge you between 300 and 700 pounds through the backdoor. I refused to pay, and I’ve since not been able to take my wife and three children to see my mum in Nigeria.

 

“I wanted to open a business account but because I’m not British yet, my nationality was required. The non-issuance of a passport to me has put the business I’m planning to do on hold. I’ve vowed not to bribe them because if I do so, I’ll be encouraging corruption. Sadly, other African nationals in England get their passports in a matter of days.”

 

Sharing his ordeal, another Nigerian, Mr Frederick Oluwole, who has lived in New York for over 30 years, said passport production at the Nigerian embassy in Manhattan was delayed because of lack of ‘nylon’ covering for passport pages.

 

Oluwole said, “They took my unsigned money order from me. They didn’t allow me to write my name on it. What they would later do is to write their own name on it and collect the money on the order, and pocket it.

 

“They talk down on you as if they’re doing you a favour. An official had to fly to Nigeria to bring common ‘nylon’ which could have been sent through courier.”

 

It’s the same hopeless song in Ottawa where the Nigerian embassy in Canada is located.

Narrating his nightmare, a Nigerian, Valentine Abiodun, disclosed that calls to the embassy were never picked.

“When someone eventually picked my call after weeks of calling, I told him I had been calling the embassy repeatedly, the officer said he travelled. I was shocked, and I told him the embassy wasn’t a private business that should be held up by an official.

“I told him I had sent in my passport for renewal. He told me they’ve not received it. Because I was tracking the passport, I told him who received it at the embassy.

“Then, he said I should call back. When I called back, he said he had seen it, adding that he would stamp and send it to me through mail. I said he shouldn’t. By 2am that night, I got a car and travelled down to Ottawa, getting to the embassy in the morning to pick my passport.”

A young Nigerian living in Mississauga, Ontario, Emmanuel Ogunlade, said he just received his renewed passport, which he had been processing since January 2020, two weeks ago.

Ogunlade said, “It was a terrible experience. I travelled to the Nigerian embassy, Ottawa, a journey of 427km, thrice after uncountable calls that were not answered before my passport was renewed even as I paid $23 twice for prepaid envelopes. They sent an email saying that they’ve sent my passport to me, but it was false. They later admitted they’ve not sent it.”

An anonymous female resident of Dubai said Nigerians now go to Abu Dhabi from Dubai to obtain their passports because of the hardship encountered at the Nigerian embassy in Dubai.

Uhhmm, Nigeria, under Buhari, is rich in corruption, home and abroad.

Sai chameleon!

(Concluded)

 

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

Facebook: @tunde odesola

Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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Opinion: Nigerian embassies of shame (1) by Tunde Odesola

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(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, September 13, 2021)
Lacking the speed of the cheetah, the strength of the bull and the ferocity of the tiger, the chameleon, with its camouflage of many colours, tip-toes daily in cautious slow-motion, living on the wisdom of adaptive wits.
Appearing unconcerned, unpurposed and uninterested, the chief of stealth and the lord of disguise, the chameleon, is the cunning thief embroidering the environment in stolen identity. The chameleon is the motion without movement, the heat without temperature, the echo without sound.
For some, the chameleon is unbeautiful. Big bulging eyes above an endless mouth on an oblong head attached to a sickle body upon four wobbly legs define the chameleon and its clumsy tail.
The chameleon is seen in its slow and deceptive colours by the members of the Nigerian public, who daily come under the crunch of government insensitivity and ineptitude.
To this long-suffering group, the chameleon connotes arrested development, reward for corruption and a sense of entitlement by people in opportunistic leadership.
For some other group, however, the chameleon is swift, breathtaking and ubiquitous. This chameleon-is-fast group comprises political profiteers who sit magisterially by the public cauldron, dishing out the broth to relatives, friends and flunkeys, and smashing the plates of opposition with the ladle of vendetta.
In today’s narrative, I wish to be an unbiased mouthpiece for the group that sees the chameleon as faster-than-the-cheetah and the group that sees the chameleon as a moving statue. I’ll place side-by-side narratives from the members of the two groups, and leave the reader to judge.
Again, I promise not to be meddlesome. I won’t condemn, I won’t judge for I don’t want to be judged. I’ll simply state the narratives by the two groups, and leave the reader to fix the narratives in the proper boxes they belong. The boxes are two: chameleon-is-slow box and chameleon-is-fast box – truth versus lie.
After a 2-1 away victory over Cape Verde last week, the Nigeria Football Federation announced that Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa, has hit a centenary in national colours, contrary to a report by The PUNCH, saying Musa had only played 98 times for the Eagles.
Characteristic of its past embarrassment of the nation, which saw the country fielding overage players in FIFA competitions and filing out for a match in makeshift jerseys, the NFF had counted for Musa a 3-0 friendly win against Togo in Paris, wherein both Nigeria and Togo made more than the regular number of changes, thereby making the match uncountable.
Also, the NFF recorded for Musa the 1-1 draw match against Algeria, in which Nigeria fielded an ineligible player, prompting FIFA to award the 2018 World Cup qualifying match to Algeria even as Nigeria had qualified for the World Cup before the tie.
Instead of the NFF to apologise to Nigerians for the national embarrassment, its chairman, Amaju Pinnick, said: “We have our own data and that is what we are using, even if it is 50 caps for the national team in a country where you have an abundance of talents.”
It took a statement from FIFA confirming that Musa had only played 98 times for the Eagles, and not 100, for Pinnick to eat the humble pie. In which box would you put Pinnick? Chameleon-is-slow box or chameleon-is-fast box?
A few days ago, a former Governor of Benue, George Akume, called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to thoroughly investigate the incumbent Governor of Benue, Samuel Ortom, after Ortom berated President Muhammadu Buhari for keeping silent while Fulani herdsmen turned Benue into a killing field.
Addressing a news conference in Abuja, a few days ago, Akume said, “We call on Governor Samuel Ortom to tender an unreserved apology to President Muhammadu Buhari for using foul language and for operating outside the set rules of engagement between the state and the federal governments.
“We call on the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE the application of the total federal allocations to Benue State from May 29, 2015 to date.”
In which box does Akume belong? In which box does Ortom belong? The chameleon-is-slow group or the chameleon-is-fast group? Remember, one group is telling the truth, the other isn’t.
Let’s step outside the shores of the country and head to the US, touching down at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, DC, where a Nigerian-American, Azuka Aghenu, narrated his ordeal in the hands of embassy staff.
“Another name for the Nigerian embassy in Washington DC is hell. They operate the embassy as if they’re in a secret cult or a black market,” Aghenu, who is a senior bank executive, said.
“The officials operate a coordinated syndicate that extorts Nigerians who come to renew or get fresh passports. They charge you $30 for a United States Priority Mail envelope that costs about $13 – depending on the state. They go to the post office and pack the envelopes free of charge, and take them to the embassy to sell to members of the public.
“They collect cash for the free envelopes but for the visa fees, you pay with your debit or credit card, which suggests that the fees you pay with your cards go into the government coffers while the fees paid for in cash are open to manipulation,” Aghenu said.
Alleging that the embassy was hot, unlit, shabby and not child-friendly, Aghenu said officials attended to applicants on a man-know-man basis, leaving applicants who had ‘no connection’ unattended to and frustrated.
Aghenu also alleged that applicants’ data were pulled up from a large hand-written register instead of a computer, stressing that applicants needed to grease the palms of officials for them to be attended to.
“If you don’t bribe or get a referral from a big man known to them, you won’t be allowed inside the embassy. When you’re inside, they will take you into an oven – a big room, no air conditioner, no light, it was dark, we saw by natural light, two standing fans were misting out water.
“They told us to come along with the photocopies of our documents. The question is, why can’t they pull up on a computer the info applicants filled online when applying for passports? Why do they have to rely on the applicants’ photocopies when they already have the information in their database? It means someone can show up and collect someone else’s passport,” Aghenu said, adding that the embassy operations were intermittently disrupted whenever the server feeding the embassy portal from Abuja was down.
Aghenu, who has been living in the US for over 30 years, revealed that more than 10 officials of the embassy went to the mosque for Jumat prayer during official hours.
In which box would you put Aghenu? Chameleon-is-slow box or chameleon-is-fast box? Do you think he’s telling the truth or is he lying?
Narrating her ordeal at the Nigerian Embassy in Atlanta, Georgia, another Nigerian-American, who lives in Illinois, Maria Reyes, (not real name), said months after filling her application online and getting an acknowledgement, all the calls she made to the embassy to book a date to come to the embassy were not picked.
Reyes said, “People came from various states, leaving their jobs, families, and risking their lives. I travelled down from Illinois. The place was like a hajj camp. The officials talked down on you; the whole place was hot.
“Eventually, I had to use the connection of a big man in Nigeria for them to attend to me. When I mentioned the big man’s name, I was allowed to go in. I went in and I was told to pay $133 apart from the $195 passport renewal fee. They said the $133 was the fee for appearing without an appointment. I paid because I came from outside Georgia and I had no place to sleep. The $195 charge was payable only through debit or credit card, but I was told I could pay the $133 charge in cash. I smelled a rat, so I opted to pay with my card. I think the $195 fee goes to the Nigerian government, I don’t know where the $133 fee goes,” Reyes said.
Explaining that an official of the embassy sells bank drafts and money orders to applicants right inside the embassy collecting cash, Reyes said the bank drafts and money orders should have been paid for with debit or credit cards in order to generate receipts and ensure proper accountability to the Federal Government.
(To be continued)
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