Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD
Burtonsville, Maryland, USA
October 1, 2004
Today, on Friday, October 1, 2004, Nigeria turns 44 years old, post-Independence.
Happy Birthday, Nigeria!
I am using this day as an excuse to come out of writing-hiding, after a few incessant questions from friends as to why my essays output has diminished in recent times. My reply has been standard: “Nigeria is a funny country – it always gives you something strange to write about, and then suddenly you ask yourself: “so what if you write? So what if you don’t write?” “
And I tell them that I do indeed watch Nigeria from afar and record my observations accordingly:
But again, I have looked for an excuse - October 1 - to survey our dear country here.
“MT African Pride”
How can a whole ship, “MT African Pride,” be missing from under the Navy’s nose? And one Admiral accusing another Admiral of lying – or accusing the Inspector General of Police of incompetence for not safeguarding the boat? This was not a motor-boat o – after all MT stands for “Marine Tanker” – this was not some canoe!
What impunity makes people think that somehow they will be able to get away with a missing tanker involved in illegal bunkering ? This is a national embarrassment to top most embarrassments!
I wish we had our own versions of Jay Leno or David Letterman! They would have a field day with this missing tanker story,
James Onanefe Ibori
This is another Jay Leno-David Letterman item: the Ibori saga.
For some reason, it appears that I am the only one that takes very seriously what is going on over the “Who was convicted in 1995?” case of Governor James Onanafe Ibori. It is almost like “Who Shot JR?” How can it be that the Nigerian judicial system cannot determine for sure who was or was not convicted? No finger prints were taken and placed on file? No pictures taken? Nothing?
The Judge that jailed says it was the governor Ibori; the Police has issued a statement that it was Ibori; but Ibori says it was not he – and even threatens to get the Inspector-General of Police jailed for disrespecting the courts!
I just cannot believe what I have been reading, but between that conviction date (September 25, 1995), the death of Chief. Rewane (on October 6, 1995)
Another governor – this time of my landlocked Ekiti State – is always in the news.
He refuses to listen that now that he is Governor, he should not keep reminding his opponents and “enemies” that he has the coercive powers of state – and that he should not talk in such a threatening manner as to be suspected to be complicit in a recent assassination attempt of an accusedly disloyal local government chairman. He seems to be guarding too jealously the power that he “snatched” In Ekitiland.
Fayose could do good, if he knew how.
Oh well, two-and-a-half more years….
Rascally Niger-Delta Warlord Mujahid Dokubo-Asari
I have been constantly seeing his picture on the BBC website lately, belly out, Kalishnikov in hand, threatening his “oppressors” in the Niger-Delta with all-out war.
Then I heard that Ayatollah Alhaji Dokubo-Asari, the Niger-Delta “enfant terrible” and leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, frightener of the oil companies, was jetted personally to meet president OBJ in Abuja to talk things over about Dokubo’s more responsible use of the gun on behalf of Ijaw nationalism. The presidency of course first denied such a meeting, but Minister Chikelu confirmed a meeting of Dokubo “with top security officials in Abuja.” Who could be more “top” than Obj himself? Lets see some summit pictures, ojare!
Then the president mysteriously “confirms” meeting with some “rascally elements from the Niger-Delta” in his October 1 speech. Knowing the mentality of security forces in Nigeria, it is most unlikely that Dokubo has been shooting at them as reported, otherwise he would not be brave enough to accept safe passage to Abuja and back. I suspect a PDP “family affair” in which collateral damage has been going on between Dokubo-Asari and rival Ateke Tom
But Dokubo had better watch out though – in his lull of activities, he could end up six feet under. The military wins its battles by subterfuge and by deceit….
Petrol prices are up again – by 25% or so. There appears to be no ceiling to it. Oil price goes up to $50? Price of a gallon of petrol go up beyond N50 ! Are we better off today than five years ago?
The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind.
And so strikes are looming again – students, NLC, other workers, etc.
Yes, that is the banned NLC. Can you ban air? Banning the letters N-L-C is of no moment – the right of association is so basic, like air, that it is a waste of time to think that people cannot get together under any guise to protest.
We will see in a few days time whether another crippling strike is on in that our country Nigeria.
The horror of the barbaric disclosures in Okija has subsided…
So where is the Okija register of clients, after all the voodoo hoopla? Are the names being sanitized – or what ? Inquiring minds want to know.
Can we have an institution and call it “University of Nigeria, Washington, DC?” Of course you can!
So a spoof website has been exercising the minds of some Nigerians abroad, calling itself www.universityofnigeria.com , and apparently put together by one Steve Bedrosian:.
University Bulletin Update:
October 21, 2004 Special seminar with the Prince of Nigeria on how to transfer $30 Million to the US or any other country without any traces…..
December 15, 2004 Learn how to eliminate bad debt and obtain the financial dreams you always wanted but could never afford. Guest speaker from A New Identity, Inc.
Many Nigerians first missed its satirical bent, and then after realization, still remain hopping mad, characterizing the website as a “4-1-9” site bent on further damaging the reputation of Nigeria. Calls to the site owner have been vitriolic, , including by one female with an Oxford-Nigerian accent:: they have been documented gleefully by its owner
I say to all: “Take a humor pill.” Just let the world know that it is a spoof – then ignore the site from there on.
Every day or two, I get an email from someone or the other being a real potential victim of 4-1-9. The other day, it was from the USA:
Airplane crash in Kano May 4 2002
9/27/2004 8:20:36 AM Eastern Daylight Time
I was wondering if you could help me. I received a letter from a lawyer claimed his client Patrick H---stein was killed in an airplane crash on May 4, 2002 on EAS Airlines BACl-11-500. He claims to be looking for relatives. My last name is the same as Patrick.
I am not quite sure if Patrick is a Relative but I just wanted to know if he did die on that plane. I been trying to track down the names of the people who died on this plane with out success. I saw your article on this airplane crash and maybe you could direct me in the right place. I am not sure this is letter for the lawyer is a fraud or not….therefore a confirmation of his name would be helpful.
Today, it was another one from India:
[ContactTheMuse] Message from Gurpreet Singh - September 29, 2004, 3:24 pm
9/29/2004 3:24:52 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Topic: About ill-legal human
trafficing and fake visa rackets
Dear Sir, Are you aware that frauds have been going on in your country over Indians who visit Nigeria and go without their passports and lose huge amounts.I know these people who have been doing this.One year back,i along with my friends visited Lagos on invitations of these people who cheated us heavily.Even these people are also wanted in India and several complaints are lodged here against them in various police stations.Even to FBI on internet all informations has been passed long time back, but of no use. May be FBI receives a lot of online complaints so hard for them to go for all. Even other than us, some other Indians from Bangalore,Pune,Punjab and Mumbai also visited them there in Nigeria who also got the same treatment.I know these Indians and have met them.
A few days back ,when i near about lost all the hopes of justice, i got an e.mail from a stranger who claims watching all the happenings and is also ready to give necessary informations against them. He guided me to inform you regarding that matter. Those Nigerians run the manpower and recruiting consultancy and are involved in ill-legal human trafficing and fake visa racket.They not only take the passports and money from Indians but also put them in locked rooms in hotels in Lagos. I have the informations of these hotels too.They give threats to their relatives in India and demand money.Then they collect money here in India with help of their representatives who stay in some paharganj hotels in Delhi,India.They have their roots not only in Nigeria but in India too.All that is really a serious matter and worried issue.Moreover after getting all the things from Indians,they make false complaints against Indians and give them so many legal problems.
In all these events so many senior police officers of your place are also involved and i have the complete details about them.Also in these events some Immigration Officers from Lagos Airport and some Oil Companies from Abuja and their Representatives play a lead role. Sir, i visited your website and gave a look to your profile and i am really impressed with that.I am sure that you will definately help me in that matter.I would like to send you all the details of those Nigerians and Indians after getting a positive response. Look forward to your immidiate response. Please acknowledge the receipt of this message. Thanking you.
Yours Faithfully, G--- Singh INDIA. B..@yahoo.co.in
I had to write back in reply to that first person viz:
Dear Ms. H----stein:
Thanks for your email.
I get enquiries like yours at least twice a month based on that article that I wrote! It appears that 1 million people died in this particular plane crash, with 1 million different last names, resulting in fake letters being sent to 1million unsuspecting potential victims, all thinking that their unknown relatives died, went to heaven and graciously left them some inheritance.
In fact, only 74 victims died.
Many potential victims of these kinds of "Kano Crash Inheritance" scam have turned actual victims, invariably they end up being suckered by an ingenious confidence-trickery scheme popularly known as "4-1-9" in my country Nigeria, and also known all over the world - except by possibly a few like yourself. The fraud is a blight on my country, and plays on the greed of unsuspecting potential victims.
To know about this scam, please visit my website "Anti-419 Project" page:
I urge you to stay away from the scam. Thereby, you will not lose your blouse, financially speaking.
PS: As a result of these continuing enquiries, I have put together in a compilation a few news articles on the Kano air crash on my website - please see:
When I find the actual manifest of the crash - manifests are notoriously inaccurate in Nigeria, because a few passengers do slip in - I will include it in the compilation.
Graciously, a top-journalist friend of mine in Nigeria has supplied me with the manifest of victims, so I have updated the last stated webpage with the list.
To the second person, the Indian, I first replied viz:
Thanks for your email.
This fraud associated with my country is most embarrassing, and many of us have been doing much of what we can to stop it.
It is nice that you have written to Chief Nuhu Ribadu of the EFCC, who too is really concerned about it.
What I request is that you provide me some more information about some of YOUR own dealings - rather than hearsay:
- dates & locations;
- hotels in India and Nigeria that were used;
- some names of people in India and Nigeria involved in the scam.
Then we can take it from there.
Hopefully, we can be of some help.
He has since written back, from which I learn that he might be one of those victims who are not quite innocent, and who KNEW for sure that they were taking part in a potentially criminal enterprise [for example promises of getting a US and UK passport from NIGERIA never materialized, despite huge payments. I asked him why not get US and UK visas from embassies in India rather than in Nigeria? He conceded some less than salutary reason, but still felt he or other victims should not have been subject to detention in hotels and extortion in Nigeria when they showed up. I agree.]
So you can see that I still have
to do a lot of writing away from my usual writings – based on my previous
And while our president traipses all over the world, we still get blind-sided by this thriving 4-1-9 business. It is tiring.
This week-end sees a retinue of Nigerian officials attending the IMFAnnual Meeting of Governors http://www.imf.org/external/am/2004/index.htm . It is the annual pilgrimage where the begging nations meet the rich First World.
Nigeria keep asking for debt relief. The latest has been our Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala BEGGING the Paris Club to allow debtor nations aka Nigeria in particular, to be able to pay off at once the smaller debts of nations that it owes, so that it does not carry those over from year to year.
The point is this: we originally owed individual nations money, but then they went off and set up Creditors’ Cartels (London Club, Paris Club) against us. But we don’t owe all of them equal amounts, but we are not allowed by cartels’ laws to pay one nation off (say $100 million) – because all nations that we owe – from the one that we owe $12 billion to the one that we owe $1 – have to be paid following a certain distribution formula. Thus we are technically required to carry the debt of the $1 guy for 30 – 40 years, because we are not allowed to pay it off.
Does not make sense, does it? But that is what we have been doing for decades now, carrying small and big debts over from year to year, and importuning ourselves to nations small and big.
Maybe Mrs. Ngozi’s “begging” – with her ex-World Bank credentials - will do the trick this time?
Inquiring minds want to know.
2007 and Electoral Reform
Finally, 2007. People are swearing it will be Atiku versus Marwa versus Babangida. Money (and deadly intimidation) will be voting anyway, not Nigerians. But the South-South too are purring too, and the South-East a.k.a. Ndigbo are murmuring that it is their turn, with a few backers nationwide.
Anything to keep the presidency in the South.
If government under VP Atiku does not improve the lives of the people after 8 years, what would Atiku’s credentials be for coming back to be President ? It is most unlikely anyway that NW and NC political zones will allow a NE indigene to be near and atop presidential power for possibly 16 years anyway! If government under IBB finally resulted in June 12 annulment that plunged the country into a 5-year abyss – not to talk of no explanation for Dele Giwa, no explanation for $12 billion Gulf windfall and Okigbo report, etc., - why does IBB want a return?
That leaves Marwa – in competition with Ndigbo and Ndi-South-South.
One more thing: all this talk of rotation – will ALL the parties be required to nominate ALL their candidates from one part or the other into their presidential candidacy slot? Or is this all part of the presumption that all that “The biggest party in Africa, PDP” has to do is nominate a person from said favored party – and that person and that region wins, irrespective of what the Nigerian people want?
I am just asking, but not holding my breath waiting for the answer.
But what kind of election can be credible if there are no electoral reforms, which at the very minimum should include that:
the umpire INEC be balanced in composition – meaning that representatives of a significant fraction of the parties are represented.
INEC be financially independent of any branch of government, ie it be given statutory funding stipulated by law.
electoral rolls be constantly revised, and made available to the enquiring public before the elections – for the world to know.
electoral laws be revised such that electoral challenges must
be completed within two to three months after the elecdtions. For crying
out loud, Buhari’s challenge to the 2003 presidential elections is still
chugging along like a choo-choo train in our courts!
The other day, I saw two websites:
Is there good news out of Nigeria – besides GSM ?
Yes – our Lady footballers, the Falcons, have reached the finals in African Women soccer Championship, and will thrash Cameroon in the finals come this Sunday to win their fourth consecutive Women’s cup – the only Champions so far. That is guaranteed – despite the “massive strong and hard…like men” characterization of the Cameroonian “girls” - and a few minor money problems in the Nigerian camp.
Maybe we will soon get:
That would be nice.
Anyway, sha, have a good birthday, Nigeria! I am off to the Chancery in Washington DC, to join in the festivities, despite everything……..[Hmmm…]