House of Reps’ legislative banditry against universities - Farooq Kperogi – Newstrends
Connect with us

Opinion

House of Reps’ legislative banditry against universities – Farooq Kperogi

Published

on

Farooq Kperogi

House of Reps’ legislative banditry against universities – Farooq Kperogi

I would have missed the story of the devious designs by members of the House of Representatives to extort vice chancellors, rectors, and provosts of public universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education if my Facebook friend Dr. Raji Bello hadn’t wondered aloud in a status update why Daily Trust’s February 10 story about this didn’t scandalize the nation.

Dr. Bello’s angst caused me to look for the story. Upon reading it, I was numb with revulsion by the blazing legislative banditry of the House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and Other Services which, according to Daily Trust, coerced heads of “53 federal universities, 63 state universities, 38 federal polytechnics, 49 state polytechnics and many federal and state colleges of education, among other institutions” to “pay N2million to facilitate the ‘verification’ of the documents submitted to the House committee.”

The background to this alleged legislative brigandage is that in January this year, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu approved the disbursement of N683,429,268,402.64 to public higher education institutions under the TETFund scheme.

From this amount, every public university will get N1, 906,944,930.00. Every public polytechnic will get N1,165,355,235.00, and every public college of education will receive N1,398,426,282.00.

Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education Trust Fund, apparently, wanted a share of these billions and chose to invoke the constitution to legitimize their banditry.

Although the law that established TETFund does not require that the National Assembly approve expenditures of money disbursed by the Fund to higher education institutions, the House Committee has cleverly leveraged a clause from the 1999 Constitution that says, “No monies shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, unless the issue of those monies has been authorised by an Act of the National Assembly” as the basis to insist that institutions get its imprimatur as a precondition for spending money approved for them.

Forget, for the moment, the fundamental misunderstanding of the constitution that this thought-process betrays. It is curious that the House Committee is instructing institutions to halt the execution of all TETFund-financed projects for no justifiable reason at all.

“You are requested to furnish the committee with the full implementation details, including but not limited to the drawings, designs and specifications for all projects procurement and services as contained in your 2024 TETFund Normal Intervention Allocation letter issued to your Institution,” the House Committee wrote to the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU).

READ ALSO:

This makes absolutely no sense. What purpose does this sort of “oversight” serve? How can you arbitrarily order the stoppage of approved, ongoing, time-bound projects in midstream, and then request details of the projects and the appearance of heads of the institutions where the projects are being executed as requirements for the continuation of the projects? If quality control and oversight were the motivation for this, it should have been before, not after, the fact.

In any case, as a policy, TETFund requires institutions to “present a strategic plan for at least 10 years, indicating the kind of projects the institution would like to undertake” before funds are approved for them in order “to avoid a situation where some institutions or politicians would hijack or stop the projects initiated by previous vice chancellors,” according to the Daily Trust.

The House Committee, in other words, is basically duplicating, albeit incompetently, the work that TETFund had done, and confirming the fears that informed TETFund’s 10-year strategic prequalification plans for institutions that benefit from their funds.

An accountant of a polytechnic told the Daily Trust that the House Committee’s pretense to performing oversight duties over higher ed institutions is an elaborate “racket.” He recalled a previous encounter with the House Committee, which asked his school to bring “Ghana-Must-Go” bags full of photocopied documents to a house hearing.

“I was really shocked when we arrived together with our rector,” the accountant said. “They didn’t ask us to open the bags; they just asked the rector some questions. Of course, they have been settled far ahead of time. Therefore, within the shortest time we were asked to leave.”

An unnamed vice chancellor shared a similar experience. “Besides directing us to come with ‘Ghana Must Go’ bags of photocopied documents, we have been forced to pay money in order to get a clean bill,” he said. “I am not sure they are even reading the documents.”

I am acutely aware that most people are too hungry and too filled with anxieties for how they will survive the next day to care about the extortion of our universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education by rapacious and conscienceless legislative bandits, but this culture should worry us all. The deeper we allow it to settle into a cultural subconscious, the more difficult hopes for a national rebirth become.

READ ALSO:

In urging heads of higher ed institutions to resist the House Committee, Haruna Yerima, a professor of public administration at ABU and former member of the House of Representatives who became famous for his praiseworthy and uncommonly bold anti-corruption battles against both the executives and his colleagues from 2003 to 2007, said the legislative extortion of heads of institution is the extension of a broader, older culture of out-and-out legislative brigandage that he’d witnessed.

“What the VCs, rectors and provosts are complaining of is reminiscent of the ugly past where some lawmakers demanded money to pass the budgets of some ministries and agencies or screen some presidential appointees,” he said.

This is the legislative equivalent of abduction for ransom. We need to formally recognize and acknowledge that there is now such a thing as legislative banditry. I conceptualize it as the unethical, coercive, or corrupt practices by legislative bodies or their members, which encompass extortion, demanding bribes for favorable legislation, interfering unduly in administrative matters for personal gain, or using legislative powers to intimidate or exploit others.

The term, of course, derives inspirational and epistemological provenance from the quotidian banditry that Nigerians have now become habituated to. In other words, legislative banditry is banditry conducted within or facilitated by legislative frameworks.

The alleged behavior of the House of Representatives Committee on TETFund and Other Services is classic legislative banditry. The committee members are accused of exploiting their legislative oversight powers to extort money from tertiary institutions by making unreasonable demands for documentation and payments to facilitate the approval and implementation of projects that are already approved and funded by TETFund.

This misuse of legislative authority for personal gain or to exert undue influence over public institutions should be condemned by everyone who cares about Nigeria. It should also be resisted by the heads of higher education institutions.

Higher education institutions are struggling to survive as it is. That was why when it came to light late last year that the federal government had asked universities to turn over 40 percent of all their internally generated revenue to the federal coffers, I wrote a stinging column on November 11, 2023, titled “Tinubu Wants Even Broke Universities to Fund Him.”

Fortunately, the government reversed the policy after this. It has turned out, nonetheless, that it isn’t uhuru yet. Universities escaped the jaws of executive avarice and jumped right smack dab in the middle of legislative banditry. Who will save them when they appear before pampered, overpaid, and slothful legislative bandits on February 27?

Farooq Kperogi is a renowned Nigerian newspaper columnist and United States-based Professor of Journalism.

House of Reps’ legislative banditry against universities – Farooq Kperogi

Opinion

The real reason government went after Bobrisky – Reno Omokri

Published

on

Idris Okuneye, better known as Bobrisky

The real reason government went after Bobrisky – Reno Omokri

What happened with Bobrisky just shows you the savviness of Nigeria compared to other nations and the intellectual response to governing on display by the current administration.

The Nigerian government obviously wanted to clamp down on the trending cross-dressing culture in Nigeria. But the government was also aware of the fact that any direct move in that regard would earn it the whip of the Western powers.

And being that our economy is only just improving after eight years of General Buhari’s wasteful locust years, Nigeria could not place itself in the position that Ghana now is.

On Wednesday, February 28, 2024, Ghana’s parliament passed legislation cracking down on LGBTQ rights, of which a significant aspect of that law addresses the issue of cross-dressing.

Perhaps the most powerful bloc in liberal America and the UK is the LGBTQ community, and their pushback against Ghana was quick and with a stick. The alacrity of response was not treated with temerity in Ghana. Within days, it was announced that if the Ghanaian President signed that law, the World Bank would have to reconsider a $3.8 billion loan to Ghana.

That announcement made the Ghanaian President turn blind, as Nana Akufo-Addo was quoted as saying that he had not yet seen the law on his desk, therefore, he could not sign it.

Three months after its passage, President Nana Akufo-Addo still has not seen the law. Maybe JAMB sent a Nigerian snake to eat the law!

READ ALSO:

In case you ever wondered why President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron moved against then-President Jonathan and, in an unprecedented manner, worked against his re-election in 2015, do note that it was because, on Monday, January 13, 2014, Dr. Jonathan signed a law criminalising same-sex relationships and its appurtenances.

General Buhari’s handlers were competent. They immediately hired the same guy advising both Obama and the LGBTQ movement in America-David Axelrod. They passed the word that if Buhari were supported to be President by the Western powers, he would frustrate the anti gay marriage las that their enemy, Jonathan, signed.

In my book, Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years, I provide proof of this.

So, the Tinubu administration was in a dilemma. How to deal with Bobrisky for being a cross-dresser but not to make it about his being a cross-dresser. And this is where you have to respect the subtlety of the Tinubu administration. They found a way, a creative genius way.

Bobrisky violated a law against the abuse of the Naira. That is why a first-time offender committed an offence that even government officials engaged in during Buhari’s son’s wedding, and, despite pleading guilty, was sentenced to six months in prison.

In fact, there is more video evidence of Naira abuse via spraying at the wedding of no less a person than Abdul Aziz Malami, the son of Abubakar Malami (SAN), Nigeria’s Former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

And the scapegoating of Bobrisky has worked. Since his arrest, have you seen any of his ‘colleagues’ prancing about?

We used to see them almost daily on blogs and social media. The traditional media, too, could not have enough of them. They got the memo. They have run for cover since Chairwoman answered to the gender of male in court, when asked to state ‘her’ gender.

The Tinubu administration has just shown that there are more ways than one to skin a cat. And you can choose a way that will not bring you negative attention.

Now, cross-dressing will be on the wane, and Nigeria will not suffer any economic sanctions or diplomatic repercussions, as has happened to Uganda and Hungary.

The real reason government went after Bobrisky – Reno Omokri

Reno Omokri

Continue Reading

Opinion

BBC, Betta Edu, and ministry of corruption – Farooq Kperogi

Published

on

Farooq Kperogi

BBC, Betta Edu, and ministry of corruption – Farooq Kperogi

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) aroused the rage of Nigerians this week when it revealed in its periodic newsletter called “EFCC Alert” (which it shared with news organizations on Monday) that it had recovered up to 30 billion naira of the money allegedly stolen by suspended Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation minister Betta Edu.

The rage wasn’t directed at the EFCC, of course. It was directed at Betta Edu for the deficiency of morality it must take for her to steal that much money in just six months of being a minister. The rage also comes from people’s extrapolation of how much unconscionable theft of our public wealth must be going on in this administration undetected.

What sort of moral climate conduces to such stratospheric pillaging of the public till without a tinge of compunction or fear of consequences?

Just when Nigerians were roiling in the storm of EFCC’s revelations, Edu’s lawyers denied them and threatened to sue the BBC for publishing them, even though scores of news outlets also published the same story.

Her lawyers allege that the story about the recovery of N30 billion from her and the investigation of 50 banks connected to her, which we read in several legacy and digital-native news outlets, was repurposed from the BBC.

Well, that’s not accurate. As I indicated earlier, EFCC’s bulletin, called the “EFCC Alert,” is the source of the story, and it was shared with multiple news organizations, including the BBC.

If the information about the extortionate amount of money allegedly recovered from Edu is false, the blame for this should go to the EFCC, not the BBC—or, for that matter, any news site.

In order to write this column, I searched for the EFCC Alert to see what exactly it contains. I would have reached the same conclusions about Betta Edu as the BBC and other news organizations did if I were still in the news business.

READ ALSO:

Here’s the original, verbatim wording from the “EFCC Alert” that informed the BBC story:

“Update on Betta Edu investigation. We have laws and regulations guiding our investigations. Nigerians will also know that they are already on suspension, and this is based on the investigations we have done, and President Bola Tinubu has proved to Nigerians that he is ready to fight corruption.

“Moreover, concerning this particular case, we have recovered over N30 billion, which is already in the coffers of the Federal Government.

“It takes time to conclude investigations; we started this matter less than six weeks ago. Some cases take years to investigate. There are so many angles to it, and we need to follow through with some of the discoveries that we have seen. Nigerians should give us time on this matter; we have professionals on this case, and they need to do things right. There are so many leads here and there.

“As it is now, we are investigating over 50 bank accounts that we have traced money into. That is no child’s play. That’s a big deal. Then you ask about my staff strength.

“And again, we have thousands of other cases that we are working on. Nigerians have seen the impact of what we have done so far, by way of some people being placed on suspension and by way of the recoveries that we have made. You have seen that the programme itself has been suspended. We are exploring so many discoveries that we have stumbled upon in our investigation.

“If it is about seeing people in jail, well, let them wait. Everything has a process to follow. So Nigerians should wait and give us the benefit of the doubt.”

It’s entirely possible that the EFCC meant that in the past six weeks, it has recovered 30 billion naira from multiple corruption cases of which Betta Edu’s is one. There are many clues to that in the “alert.” Perhaps the EFCC chairman has challenges with articulate, elegant, and clear communication in the English language.

However, in the absence of any countervailing facts, it’s reasonable to assume that the EFCC Alert meant that 30 billion naira was recovered from Betta Edu and that more than 50 bank accounts belonging to her are being investigated.

After all, the title of the bulletin is “Update on Betta Edu.” It also talks of “suspension” (and Edu is the only public official we know of that is on suspension on account of corruption), although it uses the pronoun “they” to refer to the subject of suspension, implying that it could be more than one person.

Nonetheless, in referencing the recovery of 30 billion naira, the EFCC Alert talks about “this particular case”; it doesn’t say “these particular cases.” So, it’s wholly within the bounds of reason to conclude that “this particular case” refers to the title of the news bulletin: “Update on Betta Edu investigation.”

READ ALSO:

I hope the EFCC will clarify this issue for us—and, of course, be more careful in its public communication in future.

But it doesn’t really matter if Betta stole 30 billion naira in six months and salted away money in 50 bank accounts. The truth is that the ministry she supervised is a cesspool of some of the most fetid and audacious corruption that Nigeria has ever seen since the restoration of civilian rule in 1999.

Right from its inception, it was conceived as the hotbed of graft, as the featherbed of in-your-face venality. Its origins are traceable to the Muhammadu Buhar regime’s National Social Investment Program (NSIP), which was conceived to putatively contain poverty and deprivation in Nigeria.

NSIP had within it such programs as the N-Power Program, the National Home-Grown School Feeding Program (NHGSFP), the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP), which is made up of the MarketMoni, FarmerMoni, and TraderMoni schemes.

Former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo headed NSIP. But the Buhari cabal later realized that NSIP was a prolific cash cow that lined several pockets and missed its supposed targets. I was one of the earliest people approached to expose what the cabal was convinced was humongous corruption in the NSIP that ran into tens of billions of naira—complete with what seems like fool-proof documentary evidence.

As I said at the time, I refused to be used to amplify the internal discord of the common oppressors of the Nigerian people. When Osinbajo was using TraderMoni to induce poor people to vote for Buhari, the cabal had no problem. They only discovered his “corruption” after the fact.

So, they reached out to other fringe sources and figures to give publicity to the corruption in NSIP, which caused Osinbajo to threaten to sue a whole bunch of people. They achieved their aim of calling attention to the rot in NSIP, which justified taking it away from the vice president’s office and constituting it as a separate ministry.

Thus, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development was born. The Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration renamed it as the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

Because it was conceived in corruption, born in more corruption, and nourished in even more corruption, it can’t be anything but corrupt. It has become the poster child for bizarre, eye-watering, consequence-free corruption.

Recall that on April 10, 2020, Maryam Uwais, then Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, (allegedly) told Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily program that she couldn’t account for the billions that she and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs putatively gave to weak, poor, and vulnerable Nigerians to ease the hurt of the coronavirus pandemic because, “Those who benefit from the conditional cash transfer of the Federal Government as palliative to cushion the effects of the lockdown caused by the deadly Coronavirus don’t want to be addressed as poor people. That is why we can’t publish their names.”

For her part, Sadiya Umar Farouq, Uwais’ superior, turned heads when she (allegedly) said she expended billions to feed schoolkids who weren’t in school because of COVI-19. Betta Edu was merely walking a well-trodden path in the ministry.

If Tinubu wants to be taken seriously, he should not only outright terminate Edu’s appointment as a minister, but he should also scrap the entire ministry she heads. That ministry has no reason to exist.

BBC, Betta Edu, and ministry of corruption – Farooq Kperogi

Farooq Kperogi is a renowned Nigerian newspaper columnist and United States – based Professor of Media Studies.

Continue Reading

Opinion

Wasiu Ayinde, Bobrisky and the Nigerian Army (2)

Published

on

Wasiu Ayinde, Bobrisky and the Nigerian Army (2)

Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH, on Friday, April 12, 2024)

In this day and age of social media, journalism, one of the few fearless professions, treats soft news with almost the same attention it treats hard news. According to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, hard news refers to stories that are usually timely, important and consequential, such as politics, international affairs and business news. Soft news, on the other hand, includes entertainment, celebrity, and lifestyle stories.

Depending on their house styles, which are the rules guiding their news presentation, most media organisations across the country combine hard and soft news in varying proportions to reflect their mission and market.

Daily, serious dailies conduct editorial conferences to analyse and determine the news content for publication. One day, in one of such conferences in my newspaper office, talks centred around homosexuality. The newspaper’s Executive Director posed a question to editors at the conference: “Which one can you deal with: lesbians or gays?”

The majority of the editors at the conference said they could deal with lesbians much more than they could deal with gays. The editors agreed that cuddling, necking and pecking were synonymous with feminine cravings for TLC – tender, loving, care – an agelong potion which most women, especially lesbians seek with their partners. Notably, the editors didn’t see sex by lesbians as an abhorrent intrusion of the female genitals in the same way they saw the intrusion of the anal orifice in gay sex.

It’s, therefore, not a misrepresentation to say that the conference frowned on lesbians but scowled at gays.

The executive director later asked why lesbian practice got a frown and gay practice got a scowl. Offering different perspectives, editors at the editorial conference seemed not to view lesbianism with as much the same revulsion as they view gay practice. “Why?” the executive director asked. With scowls burrowing deeper on their faces, many of the editors submitted that gay practice was an intolerable violation of human anatomy. ‘Ayanma!’ ‘Tufiakwa!’ ‘God forbid!’ were some of the words that revealed the disgust the male-dominated gathering had for gays. Why do heterosexual men see lesbianism as a tolerable sin and consider gay practice as an intolerable sin?

Idris Olanrewaju Okuneye is a 33-year-old Nigeria biological male, who identifies as a woman. Okuneye, aka Bobrisky, calls herself the ‘Mummy of Lagos’, and goes about town wearing lavish (wo)manicure, peIDIcure, female clothes, shoes and accessories. Modern thesaurus minted new names for Bobrisky and her fellow risky boys. The names include cross-dresser, transvestite, ladyboy, drag queen, trannie, female impersonator etc. Bobrisky only openly identifies as a crossdresser and not as a gay or lesbian, with both practices and all shades of LGBTQIA outlawed in the country.

About three years ago, Bobrisky went under the knife and emerged with enhanced breasts but her big shoulders, square jaws and masculine neckline suggest that Idris’ anatomy remains a work in progress; a clay in the hands of her moulders. The medical risks involved in the creation of Bobrisky by surgeons imply she cannot be made in one day like God made Adam and Eve – without silicone implants, without cutting, grafting, puffing and patching.

Wahala! Wahala! Wahala! Wahala! Troublemaking is the oxygen of Nigeria’s reigning Most Controversial Musician, Habeeb Okikiola, aka Portable. A few days ago, Portable, the Ika of Africa (Africa’s Most Wicked), carried his portmanteau of wickedness to the house of Bobrisky after she was declared the Best Dressed Female at the premiere of a movie, Ajakaju, the Beast of Two Worlds. Bobrisky didn’t see what was coming when she called out Portable for criticising the female award given to her.

The self-styled Ika of Africa ran to the studio and came out with a monster hit titled Brotherhood, a song that tore Bobrisky apart. A few days after the musical dismantling of Bobrisky, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission paraded the Mummy of Lagos for serial mutilation of Nigeria’s currencies at parties. Watching the sober Bobrisky at the EFCC Office, without makeup, was like watching the shed skin of a snake. Seeing Bobrisky’s EFCC mugshot displaying her four-inch fingernails must have been a sad display for Nigerians with queer sexuality. But it also offered a peep into how the Nigerian society views the encouragement by the United States of America for Nigeria to hop on the LGBTQIA train.

Decency forbids me from mentioning the unprintable names Portable employed in describing Bobrisky’s buttocks, but I advise Bobrisky to quickly ramp up her rump and put Portable to shame for comparing her expensive backside with akpu. In the musical eyes of Portable, the backside of Bobrisky doesn’t correspond with her voluminous upper body. To avoid being body-shamed by cynics like Portable, Bobrisky should, please, embark on a yansh shoot to wow Portable and her long list of clientele.

But I utterly disagree with the position of the Nigeria Police Force for saying its hands are tied on the sexuality of Bobrisky. In the wake of the reactions generated by the Ajakaju premiere and the Brotherhood song, the NPF said there was no Nigerian law forbidding cross-dressing. This position of the police is shallow and capable of causing the breakdown of law and order. The position protects only Bobrisky and his ilk, exposing the larger Nigerian populace to danger. The Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, a gentleman and friend, revealed the position of the police on Bobrisky in an interview.

With about 2,400 fitness gyms, US-headquartered fitness group, Planet Fitness Inc., is one of the largest fitness club franchises in the world. On March 21, 2024, the stocks of Planet Fitness lost $400m in valuation after the company revoked an American woman’s membership for snapping photos of a transgender woman, who was biologically male, shaving in a women’s locker room of Planet Fitness in Alaska.

Reports by Daily Mail, Fox Business, New York Post, and Newsweek, among other news outlets, said Patricia Silva, a white Alaskan woman was shocked to see a transgender woman shaving in the locker room while a preteen girl, who had come to use the locker room, watched in horror.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, Planet Fitness Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, McCall Gosselin, said Silva violated the company’s policy on gender identity. Gosselin said, “As the home of the Judgement Free Zone, Planet Fitness is committed to creating an inclusive environment. Our gender identity non-discrimination policy states that members and guests may use the gym facilities that best align with their sincere, self-reported gender identity. The member (Silva) who posted on social media violated our mobile device policy that prohibits taking photos of individuals in the locker room, which resulted in their membership being terminated.”

But Silva said, “There was “a little girl sitting in the corner. She could have been [12 years old] … in a towel kind of freaked out. ​​I was offended, I took a picture of him.”

If the Nigeria Police Force subjected the Bobrisky issue to deep thought, it should have invited her with a view to determining her real sexuality so that the vagueness conferred on her sexuality by cross-dressing would be cleared. How would male and female police officers feel if Bobrisky appeared in their toilets? How would parents feel to have a Bobrisky in the same bathroom with their children? If there’s no law that prohibits Bobrisky from being a crossdresser, the police should, at least, ensure the safety of Nigerians using public toilets by protecting them from men who pose as crossdressers but have ulterior motives to hurt children and women, especially. This is why the need to determine Bobrisky’s real sexuality is a cause for public concern.

To be continued.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
Facebook: @Tunde Odesola
X: @Tunde_Odesola

Continue Reading

Trending

Skip to content