Monday, July 8, 2013

PHCN: Before we join Pa Dawodu on hunger strike

The Economic Confidential, in a recent article warned politicians the world over to beware of the wave of anger sweeping through the different climes. 
The protests have different sides. In Brazil people rose up against bus fares, in Turkey, against a building project. Indonesians have also rejected higher fuel hike, in Bulgaria, a sorry state of affairs, the Euro zone the march against austerity, even as the Arab region protests against pretty much everything. The demonstrations have roots in the anger against the various governments resulting in dire consequencies. For instance,  
in Sri Lanka, a 61-year-old man suffered fatal heart attack and died after being presented with a shocking electricity bill. The aged man had protested 50 percent tariff increase at the Ceylon Electricity Board in Colombo last Friday. 
Sri Lanka is one of the most expensive countries in Asia with electricity of a kilowatt hour costing up to 47 rupees ($0.37), here in Nigeria In 2011, our erratic power supplier, the PHCN, jacked up its tariff from N8 to N40 for each kilowatt consumed.  
The wave of anger has been sweeping across our country Nigeria, silently caused by inconsiderate policies despite the fact that Nigerians are not carrying placards screaming the words. Today we have the ongoing ASUP strike, joined by NUPENG (before they called off their own strike), followed by ASUU and another interesting one; the 60 year old man, who embarked on hunger strike to protest high electricity billing, which we can aptly call 'crazy billing' by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN)
Pa Abayomi Gbode-Ogun Dawodu's lone protest showcases the anger of  most Nigerians on the corrupt practices in the various sectors.
But sadly in Nigeria, hunger strike is not a language our government understands because it cares less about the likes of Dawodu even though he is a senior citizen. The fact remains that our government for instance does not mind that 4 million Polytechnic students have not received lectures for more than 70 days: our government can still not enhance economic status the people to enable them put food on their table. So such government would certainly not be concerned that citizen Dawodu is on hunger strike and for all it cares, the old man may kiss the dust after all he is already old so what does he need electricity for? Papa can 'deliberately' starve himself to death.
Obviously our government has lost respect for human dignity, if not the story of citizen Dawodu should have given the Minister for Power and the National Electricity Regulation NERC sleepless night for them to address the damning issue of crazy PHCN billing system in this country.
Since Pa Dawodu went on his hunger strike on Monday, what has happened?  And what will happen to other Nigerians groaning under such situation?
The crazy bills issued by PHCN stems from corrupt practices of officials in the system and many Nigerians can attest to this. The situation has worsened lately as the distribution companies have left much to be desired in their manner of reading meters, instead they would dispatch such crazy bills monthly, the type Pa Dawodu complained about.
It is worthy of note that Even the NERC boss 'Comrade' Sam Amadi has accused the management of PHCN of willfully thwarting its own meter deployment scheme in a bid to exploit electricity consumers through the  practice of  such crazy bills to Nigerians.

I have never accepted bribe in my life —Ribadu

 From left: Former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, chief missioner of the Nasrul Lahi Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Alhaji Abdullahi Akinbode, Alhaji Yusuf Ali (SAN) president of the University of Lagos Muslim Alumni, Alhaji Letr Alimi and vice chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof Rahamon Bello at a pre-Ramadan lecture at the university.

It was indeed another day for the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Presidential Candidate in the 2011 election, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to give his account and contribution to the anti corruption crusade in the country.
The main auditorium of the University of Lagos was parked full with Muslim brothers and sisters, eminent Nigerians who were eager to listen to the anti corruption crusader at the 15th pre-Ramadan public lecture organized by the  foremost  UNILAG Muslim Alumni Association, UMMA, with theme "Corruption and  Administration of Justice in Nigeria: Agenda for Reform."
Ribadu shocked his audience when he informed them that he has never received or accepted any bribe in his life.
"When we started EFCC, I told myself that we would treat corrupt public office holders as equal to a criminal that stole a goat, if you put those who stole goats in handcuff, I vowed to put those who stole millions in handcuff too. When they brought bribe to me, I always reject it in the presence of other EFCC staff, because a leader must show the way, I have never taken bribe in my life and all my staff know where I stand".
Ribadu told the gathering that anti corruption war could be won if the leader of the country shows the way.
"These corruption we are fighting can be won, if the leader shows the way, all the other people would follow but when the leader takes the other way, we are in a problem.If they are doing a meeting in the Villa you would see our leaders with big, big jeeps, no where to park, but you  would be surprised that a jeep can build a clinic, two jeeps would build a school and a plane would build a university but they believe with good luck, they can do many things.
"From my experience with  the defunct Failed Banks Tribunal and from other works in various panels, I witnessed the lethal effects of corruption on our country. At the EFCC, we tracked the chains of people and organisations from public and private sectors who formed the Nigerian networks.Despite the challenges; we risked our lives, survived the waves of dirty media campaigns and resisted temptations to have us compromised.
"At the coming of EFCC in 2003, there were very few high-profile cases of corruption that were successfully prosecuted; EFCC's interventions led us into various networks that have previously enjoyed impunity and notoriety, from the internet scams that dent the image of the country to abuse of office at the private and public sectors."
Ribadu  said President Jonathan is not building on anti corruption foundations previous governments left behind, insisting that only a corrupt-free president who is also ready to subject his cronies to processes of the law, in case of infringement, can lead the crusade against corruption.
"So many corrupt people get away with their acts, largely because of their relationships with heads of institutions that ought to counter or expose their abuse of office. Some convicts are being granted state pardon, thereby rubbishing the whole effort at corruption. These practices have turned corruption into a sort of culturally or ethically accepted trend."
Noting that  the country is presently locked in a systemic breakdown with widespread bribery, high-profile looting, insecurity, rising debt profiles, perpetuation of lawlessness and impunity as well as collapse of moral values, Ribadu is however unhappy that his recent report on oil revenue which unearthed sharp practices in oil industry has not been given any attention.
"My recent work on oil revenue, for example, which unearthed sharp practices in that industry has not been given any attention. No action has been taken on the report, despite its sheer magnitude and the bad name it brought to Nigeria. Nothing has appeared to be done by the government on the $1.1 billion Malabu oil scandal."
He added: "these cases of mass looting were done with the collaboration of those powerful players in the evil networks of corruption globally".
Proffering way out of  the menace , Ribadu said sensitivity and consciousness of the nation's leader to cases of corruption and abuse of office are the key factors in the fight against corruption,adding that " his (President) decisions and sincerity and refusal to adopt any form of impunity, will determine the success of the anti-corruption campaign."
Ribadu, however, dispelled the clamour for special courts for corruption, arguing that what is needed is review of the procedural laws and sincere application of same by any court of competent jurisdiction, while charging  the legislative arm of government to be alert to its oversight responsibilities which, he said, is a primary mechanism for tackling corruption.
"There should be serious work on the procedural laws. Nigeria has adequate provision in terms of extant laws on corruption including international conventions like the UN Convention against Corruption, FATF Anti-money Laundering protocols, EITI , Public Procurement Act, Fiscal Responsibility Law, Freedom of Information Law, while the professional competence of the law enforcement agencies; the Police, EFCC, ICPC, Prisons etc has to be fully enhanced."
Also speaking, Chief Missioner of the Nasrul Lahi Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Alhaji Abdullahi Akinbode who delivered his sermon in Yoruba noted that Islam does not tolerate corruption in its practice.
While condemning plea bargaining , Akinbode berated situations where petty criminals are caught up by the heavy arms of the law while public officers who stole billions of public money are allowed to negotiate their way out of the law.
He however charged Muslim faithful to kick start a corruption-free political system in Nigeria.
Speaking earlier, UNILAGUMA President  Alhaji Sikiru Lere Alimi agreed that corruption is the major problem the country must address.
"It's the main reason why our educational system has decayed so badly, our health facilities are in deplorable condition, our  security system in a parlous state and our infrastructure seriously dilapidated."
He lamented that corruption is been treated with levity in the country despite the existence of two anti corruption agencies and a robust judicial system in the country.