• Thursday, December 07, 2023
businessday logo


Kalu’s certificate, Alamieyeseigha’s pardon and Nigerian magic


  Everything Nigerian is magical. Our economy is magical and that is why we have a phenomenal growth that correlates effortlessly with poverty, unemployment and inequality. Our politics is magical. The formation, membership and management of look-alike parties, their primaries and nominations are all magical. The elections are magical defying logical analysis. How come the ACN states voted broom governors, legislators and councillors but neatly voted an umbrella president? Plain magic! The governors will never govern; they are busy running after foreign investors who should ordinarily be running after them. Virtually all of them are full-time commissioners, commissioning projects here and there and pocketing the commissions which are almost 100 percent in some cases. At the National Assembly, it is magic all the way. They belong to different parties but whenever their interests are at stake, they speak with one voice; they always pretend to be at war with the executive so as to oil the wheel of negotiation and instead of making laws, they pass resolutions and want them have the weight of law. In all their probes, the hunter becomes hunted, whether it is Elumelu, Hembe or Farouk Lawan. When Abuja politicians pretend to fight for their regions, it is all magic because the bottom-line is rent seeking and patronage. Segun Adeniyi reminds us that these are detribalised; they have no tribal marks.

The gruesome murder of Oyerinde has consistently been in the public glare due mostly to the well-meaning antics of Adams Oshiomhole. But the magical aspect of it should not escape our attention as the police and SSS were parading two sets of suspects in Benin and Abuja for the murder of the same man! When Patience Jonathan and Governor Chime disappeared from public space, officials, paid and maintained with public funds, swore that they both went on vacation and that all was well. Madam eventually revealed that she was technically dead for about seven days and underwent nine operations within the period, while Chime told us that he had gone on treatment for throat cancer.

The Nigerian pension scheme is the most financially abused scheme in the world, and even the taskforce set up by the government to tidy up the mess got embroiled in more corruption. One day, one of the pension thieves, Yusuf, admitted stealing N23-4bn pension monies. The judge only ordered him to forfeit a few million naira, some miserable houses and pay a fine of N250,000 for each of the three offences, which the man paid on the spot and drove away in his car! N750,000 fine for N23bn fraud? That is a truly Nigerian magic!

Orji Uzor Kalu requires little introduction due to his political and business activities which may appear controversial to some and enviable to others. About 10 years ago when he was the man of the moment, he transferred his studentship from the University of Maiduguri to Abia State University (ABSU), where he was the visitor, and obtained a degree in Government and Public Administration. On Friday, March 1, 2013, ABSU senate (now with a new visitor, T. A. Orji, who was Kalu’s ‘boy’) voted 88/3 to cancel and withdraw the degree result and certificate because both the admission and graduation were not valid. And they took the extraordinary step of publishing in the Sunday Guardian of March 3, 2013. What struck me immediately was that a state university (they are always cash-strapped) could afford to place a full-page advert in the Guardian for this purpose. But a day before this advertisement, the state government had made a public statement that Kalu was not a graduate of ABSU and even made more explanations than the university (questionable transcript, arm-twisting the senate, etc). Matters got more complicated when it was alleged that on 28/2/13, the chief of staff to Abia State governor, Cos Ndukwe, gave the senate members N4m and the vice chancellor N8m for the job. That was after their initial reluctance. It is also alleged that the funds for the Guardian advertisement were sourced from the government house (Leo Sobochi, “Orji vs Kalu: Much ado about a degree certificate”, Guardian, 10/3/13, p.22).

How come the government had more details than the university? Was there a petition? Who petitioned and who investigated? Was Kalu asked to defend himself? Was it the voice of Jacob and the hands of Esau? Was there an inducement from the government house? The university senate has the right to withdraw its certificates, but it should not do so in such a manner that impinges on the integrity of its members and the credibility of its certificate. The only way out is to engage in extensive damage control measures which should involve publishing all the details: the transfer/admission process, the semesters covered, the graduation process, the petition/petitioner, and how the investigation complied with the rule of John 7:51 (don’t pass judgment without hearing from the accused). They should also explain the disciplinary action taken against all those involved in the now flawed admission and graduation of Uzor Kalu (former management, senate, HOD/dean, departmental/faculty board, and appropriate committees). And all this must be published in Sunday Guardian.

DSP Alamieyeseigha, who disappeared from Britain (global magic) and who was jailed for only two years (which had lapsed before the trial ended), was last week granted state pardon by our amiable president. From all reports about the matter, the members of the Council of State were ambushed as they were not pre-informed, while the name was sandwiched within other deserving and not-so-deserving names that, however, reflected federal character. Two former failed bank chiefs, Shettima Bulama and C. Ashwe were also on the list. I agree with those who argue that his case is better than many who have never been tried or neighbour who obtained a perpetual injunction against his investigation! I also believe that his impeachment was manipulated, as were many in those days of Obasanjo’s do-or-die paradigm. But the president should explain in simple terms the injustice that DSP suffered or how his pardon serves the course of justice or the war against ‘lootocracy’ in Nigeria. The magic will be complete when DSP becomes a minister or a senator as already being speculated! For Shettima Bulama and Chii Chii Ashwe, the bankers should be clicking their glasses. Bankers can now do and undo, knowing that the banks will be bailed out; that in Nigeria, their chances of being convicted in the courts are slim (out of the whole lot of the class of 2009, only the first lady of banking has been convicted), and that even if they are sentenced, they will be pardoned. Those who speak big grammar call it moral hazard. Ces’t finis!



Muo is a lecturer and management consultant in the department of business administration, Olabisi Onabanjo 

University, Ago-Iwoye

[email protected]