Monday, 24 July 2017
Items filtered by date: August 2016

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, have received a petition alleging how the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello looted the state’s treasury of the sum of N11 billion.

The petition sent to the EFCC and copied the president and the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo by the Egalitarian Mission for Africa, EMA, also named Edward Onoja, Chief of Staff to the Governor of Kogi State; Commissioner for Works and Finance; Permanent Secretary, Government House, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Permanent Secretary, Board of Internal Revenue, Accountant-General, Director-General, Bureau for Public Procurement, Chairman, Board of Internal Revenue, Kogi State and some business outfits, as conspirators.

The petition was signed by EMA’s Country Director, Nigeria, Idris Usman and the Legal Adviser, Olutosin Ojaomo and dated 12 August, 2016.

The petition alleged the award of bogus contract for the renovation of 17 units of mostly three bedroom bungalows for a whooping sum of N 1.6 billion awarded to MAJ Global Construction Company Ltd. without tender, contrary to the Public Procurement by the Kogi State Governor.

A breakdown of the projects showed that N500,000 was meant for preliminaries, N56.831 million for renovation of Personal Assistance residence; N55.393 million for Permanent Secretary residence; N85.553 million for PPS residence, N54.171 million for ADC residence, Guest House (Aliyu) residence, N64 million and 64.67 million for Accountant General’s residence.

Others are: Deputy Governor’s Protocol residence, N53.324 million; C.S.O residence N52.916 million; C.P residence, N 50.557 million; SSG residence, N 52.321 million; Imam’s Residence N47.527 million; 6 units office building, N 857 million; four units Residential Building N669.645 million and consultancy fees, N40 million, bringing the cumulative total to N1.566 billion.

“We strongly believe that the so called phoney renovation contract was an avenue to steal and launder funds from the commonwealth of Kogi people,” the petition said.

In the petition, EMA alleged that the Bello’s government awarded bogus contract for the construction of AGASA-Ukpogoro Road to AG Vision Construction Nig. Ltd of which N912. 6 million was hurriedly paid in a day without physical mobilisation to site till date.

It also alleged suspicious money laundering of the sum of N87. 5 million and N91.5 million through CGC Construction Company under the guise of payment of contract sum on 22nd June, 2016 and 1st August, 2016 respectively.

The group alleged further of suspicious money laundering of N103.55 million through Auwaliya Global Resources Ltd of the following amount of monies from the same bank and on the same day; N37.694 million, N23.925 million, N36. 249 million, N1.391 million, N2.191 million and N2.107 million.

In the petition, there is also the “suspicious money laundering of the sum of N498, 237, 920. 00 through Westwood Motors Ltd for a spurious award of contract for vehicles that were not purchased. Curiously, the payments were made same day from the same bank as follows; N31, 346, 380. 80; N31, 346, 380. 80; N23, 509, 785. 60; N38, 306,876. 80; N23, 509, 785. 60; N38, 306,876. 80; N23, 509, 785. 60 and NGN23, 509, 785. 60 on the 14th June, 2016.”

According to the petition, there is also “suspicious money laundering of the sum of N395, 103, 737. 13 million through Kefia Global Concepts Ltd which payments were made on the 29th March, 2016 and from the same bank, Zenith Bank as follows; N39, 243, 750. 00; N39, 765, 000. 00; N37, 765, 000. 00; N37, 878, 750. 00; N40, 495, 000. 00; N141, 393, 365. 99 (paid in 10th June, 2016) and N60, 562, 871. 00 paid in 17th June, 2016,” among others.

“From the aforementioned, it is crystal clear that there exists many instances of breach of trust, money laundering and misappropriation of funds by the individuals and corporate bodies mentioned above.
“Therefore as a Civil Society Organization, with zero tolerance with the violation of the law and in pursuant with our mandate, we are under obligation to bring these suspected criminal conducts and financial crimes under your regulatory and investigative powers as provided under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act.

“From the foregoing, we therefore urge you to use your good offices to do the following; urgently commence comprehensive investigation into our petition; promptly beam your searchlights on the Bank accounts of the Kogi State Government, particularly those of Zenith Bank Plc., Access Bank Plc., and Skye Bank Plc. That the personal and company accounts of the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello and others mentioned above be investigated with a view to determining the movement of the monies under consideration.

“That the accounts of the contractors and corporate bodies mentioned herein be investigated with a view to determining their levels of culpability; that any individual, or corporate body found culpable should be made to face the laws of the land and that all illicitly acquired monies and properties from the proceeds of the wanton looting of the Kogi State treasury be recovered and returned to Kogi State Government,” it stated.

Published in Headliners

The decision to release Boko Haram suspects in exchange for abducted Chibok schoolgirls as being demanded by the terror sect, will be a political decision.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Gabriel Olonishakin stated this while fielding questions from State House correspondents after a security meeting, held in the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday.

He, however, said that military operations against activities of the terrorist group would continue irrespective of any negotiations with the sect.

“That is a political decision to be taken.

“The military decision is that we are going ahead with our operations.

“The operation is being conducted appropriately.’’

The CDS stated that the military authorities were analysing the video released by Boko Haram sect and “we will make appropriate comments at the right time’’.

He said that one of the people declared wanted by the army in connection with the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls had surrendered himself to the army for interrogation.

Olonishaki disclosed that the meeting went beyond discussing security matters, saying that it also discussed issues on floods apart from terrorism.

Also speaking on the outcome of the meeting, the Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali said the meeting took the form of workshop as participants were trained on how to respond to emergency issues.

“It was not a meeting as such, it was a little workshop that was arranged for us to understand how to respond to emergency issues, how to be in the position to advise the President to take the right decisions under emergency cases either terrorism, flood or any other thing.

“It was put together for chief executives to sit down and understand the processes of thinking when there is disaster.

“And I think that is what we have learnt today, and hope we will put into use.’’

Also commenting on the activities of the Boko Haram, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said even though the Federal Government was in touch with the sect, the government is being careful and cautious in view of the split in the leadership of the group.

“What is important to government is the safety and security of these girls.

“Don’t forget that this is not the first time we will be engaged in talking and engaging them.

“The point is we assure the nation that we are on top of the situation.

“We are not even just reacting to the video; we have gone far beyond the video in talking to the group already.

“Until you are able to ascertain the authenticity of the people you are talking to, you don’t go into details.’’

On the planned protest-march to the Presidential Villa by members of the BringBack Our Girls’ group, Mohammed stated that government was committed to doing everything possible to rescue all kidnapped citizens, including the Chibok schoolgirls.

“We appreciate their commitment to the return of these girls but there are few things we need to do behind the scene.

“What we are saying is that the government is committed to do everything to rescue these girls.”

Published in Business and Economy

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has vowed to hold its national convention slated for Wednesday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State in spite of an interim order stopping the exercise.

Prince Dayo Adeyeye, member of PDP National Caretaker Committee in charge of Publicity gave this indication on Monday.

Adeyeye said that the party’s attention had been drawn “once again to another act of judicial recklessness’’ by the Honourable Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Okon Abang of the purported suspension of the party convention.

He said that a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, had earlier in the day given a clear order on the convention in favour of the party.

“A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, had earlier in the day given a comprehensive Order wherein the Honourable Judge specifically ordered the PDP to proceed with the convention as scheduled without hindrance

“Indeed his lordship while giving the Order mandated all relevant agencies including the Police, DSS and INEC to cooperate with the party in organising a hitch free National Convention.

“You may also wish to note that the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, gave an Interlocutory Order while Justice Okon Abang, Abuja, gave an Interim Order.

“The Order of Port Harcourt is clearly superior and earlier in time to the Interim Order given by Justice Okon Abang.

“In the light of the above, PDP as a law abiding party is obeying the Order of the Port Harcourt Federal High Court until set aside by any competent Court of jurisdiction.

“In view of the above, the 2016 Repeat National Convention of the PDP will continue as scheduled,’’ Adeyeye said.

He added that the party will welcome all delegates, party leaders, other critical stakeholders, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) monitoring team and other friends of PDP to Port Harcourt.

He wished the members and supporters of the PDP a successful national convention.

Meanwhile, Mr Cairo Ojougboh, the deputy national chairman of the Ali-Modu Sheriff faction of the PDP, has said that the Makarfi led committee would not try to hold the convention.

He warned that if the committee goes ahead to hold the convention, in spite of the Abuja court order, it would face the consequence.

“The Abuja court has stopped them and it is obvious that the court in its order made reference to that of Port Harcourt they are relying on,’’ he said.

Published in Headliners

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to quiz a former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, again this week over a petition alleging “fraudulent award” of contracts worth N418m to firms linked to him.

The petition, dated July 26, 2016, was written by the Anti-corruption Unit of the National Youth Council of Nigeria.

The EFCC acknowledged receipt of the petition on July 29.

Jibrin was reported to have been interrogated on Tuesday over allegations relating to N17bn money laundering.

Reports have it that the EFCC had concluded arrangements to interrogate the former appropriation committee chairman again this week.

An officer, who spoke to Sunday PUNCH, said, “Our operatives will before the end of the week, invite him to answer questions relating to the fresh petition.”

In the petition, the NYCN stated that in September 2014, the National Commission For Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons awarded 10 contracts to five companies in the combined sum of N418m in one day.

It noted that the contract documents merely directed the firms to make supplies to “Kano State”, but did not indicate the purpose of the contract, the location where the supplies would be delivered, nor the names of the recipients.

However, in each of the contract document, the agency copied Jibrin, who was at the time the Chairman, House Committee on Finance.

Part of the petition read, “All contacts were awarded in one day; all the contracts were awarded to Kano State.

“All the contract award letters were copied to Jibrin; three of the companies are located in the same EFAB Mall, Area 11, Abuja.Two of the companies, which got four of the contracts, used the same office address, Suite A47, EFAB Mall, Area 11, Abuja.”

Going through the contracts papers, Sunday PUNCH observed that one of the firms, M/S Eash Progressive Ventures, was awarded a contract to supply 140 units of computers for N47.6m.

Another firm, Eleku Construction Limited, was awarded a contract worth N44.1m to supply 2,452 bags of “maize and millet to Kano State.”

The council urged the EFCC to probe the contracts because of the “curious” nature of the deals, which did not include any other lawmaker or the Kano State Government other than Jibrin, who was copied.

It called on the commission to establish the “capability” or otherwise of Jibrin and the Federal Commissioner, who awarded the 10 contracts.

It added, “The unit cost of the supplies in the 10 contracts is outrageous.

“Efforts to trace evidence of completion of the contracts have proved abortive.

“The description of the companies is ambiguous, as they were all supplies to Kano State, without any specification to whom or what purpose the supplies would be deployed.”

The document to the EFCC was signed by the Council’s Coordinator, Mr. Ifeanyi Okonkwo.

Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, spokesman for the EFCC however, confirmed that the commission had received a petition against Jibrin.

Published in Business and Economy


Jamaica’s Usain Bolt on Sunday became the first athlete to win three Olympic 100m titles by edging out American Justin Gatlin to the gold medal at Rio 2016.

The 29-year-old Bolt ran 9.81 seconds in his final Olympics to replicate his successes at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

Gatlin, who had been twice banned for doping offences, finished 0.08 seconds behind Bolt to take silver at 9.89.

“I expected to go faster, but I’m happy that I won,’’ Bolt said. “I’m here to perform. I did what I had to.’’

Canada’s Andre de Grasse took bronze in a personal best of 9.91, ahead of Bolt’s Jamaican team-mate Yohan Blake.

Bolt remains on target to leave Rio with a third successive Olympic treble after winning the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay titles in 2008 and 2012.

The world record holder had said in February he would retire from athletics after the 2017 World Championships.

“Somebody said I can become immortal. Two more medals to go and I can sign off immortal,” he said.

Bolt was slower out of the blocks than 34-year-old Gatlin, who was aiming to regain the title he won at Athens 2004.

But he surged through from 60 metres to pass Gatlin and comfortably win his seventh Olympic gold.

Bolt received a hero’s reception as he walked out into Rio’s Olympic Stadium before the race, and the crowd chanted his name after his victory.

The Jamaican had won at Beijing 2008 with a time of 9.69 to set a world record.

He went on to set another record with 9.58 at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.

At the 2012 Games in London, Bolt won with 9.63 for an Olympic record, while he won the 2013 World Championships in Moscow with 9.77.

He returned a time of 9.79 at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing

The events of Sunday night in Rio now shows Gatlin is a derisive figure in the sport, having twice been banned for doping offences.

In stark contrast to Bolt’s reception, he walked out to the start line to a chorus of boos.

Usain Bolt (JAM) celebrates after winning the men's 100.

Usain Bolt (JAM) celebrates after winning the men’s 100.

Bolt admitted afterwards he was “surprised’’ by the crowd’s reaction.

Gatlin’s first drugs ban in 2001 was reduced from two years to one after he proved the amphetamines he was taking were for an attention deficit disorder.

He then tested positive for testosterone in 2006, a year after winning the 100m and 200m double at the World Championships.

The American served a four-year ban that was twice reduced, first from a lifetime then to eight years.

Gatlin returned to the track in 2010, claiming Olympic bronze at London 2012 and losing to Bolt in the 2015 World Championships.

He was the clear favourite to win in Beijing last year, and many thought he could beat Bolt in Rio.

Gatlin had recorded the fastest time of the year, clocking 9.80 last month, while Bolt injured a hamstring at the end of June.

However, Bolt showed an expectant Rio crowd he was in great shape by clocking a season’s best 9.86 as he cantered to victory in his semi-final.

And the sport’s greatest showman produced an even better run when it really mattered to send the Olympic Stadium into raptures.

“After the semi-final I felt extremely good,’’ Bolt added.

“I wanted to run faster but with the turnaround time, we normally have two hours, but we had one hour 20 minutes, it was challenging.

“This is what we train for. I told you guys I was going to do it. Stay tuned, two more to go.’’

Published in Headliners

 

Kidnapped girls in another video released by Boko Haram

Kidnapped girls in another video released by Boko Haram

Following the release of a fresh video by the Boko Haram insurgents showing the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, the Nigerian Army on Sunday declared the Nigerian journalist who revealed the fresh video, Ahmad Salkida, wanted.

 

Two other persons, including a woman, were also declared wanted in connection with the over 200 missing girls abducted by Boko Haram since 2014.

They are Ambassador. Ahmed U. Bolori and Aisha Wakil.

A statement issued by the Acting Director Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, said the wanted persons have information on the conditions and the exact location of those girls.‬

“Therefore, the Nigerian Army hereby declares the two gentlemen and the lady wanted for interrogation.

Ahmad Salkida

Ahmad Salkida

“We are relying on the relevant laws of the land, and in particular the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 (as amended) where Nigerians could be punished for failure to disclose information about terrorists or terrorists” activities.

‬‪”This becomes necessary as a result of their link with the last two videos released by Boko Haram terrorists and other findings of our preliminary investigations.

“There is no doubt that these individuals have links with Boko Haram terrorists and have contacts with them.

“They must therefore come forward and tell us where the group is keeping the Chibok girls and other abducted persons to enable us rescue them,” Usman said.

He called on Nigerians and other peace-loving people to give useful information on the whereabouts of the suspects.

“We are also liaising with other security agencies for their arrest if they fail to turn up,” he said.

Published in News & Stories

•Says expired weapons were procured for battle against Boko Haram
•Army contracts awarded to incompetent firms

The Presidential Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement (CADEP) has recommended that two former Chiefs of Army Staff -Lieutenant-Generals Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd) and Kenneth Minimah- be asked to account for the utilisation of N7,598,977,828.62  funds during their tenures.

The panel in its report which was sighted by The Nation said the money was expended on ‘purposes incompatible’ with the projects for which it was approved and released in the first instance.

It also gave an insight into why the war against Boko Haram turned difficult for the armed forces.

The AVM JON Ode committee said most of the platforms and ammunition procured for the Army and deployed for the Northeast operations were over aged or had expired while support spares were insufficient or completely not available.

“The platforms were prone to frequent breakdown without immediate recovery support,” it said.

“The non-adherence to the procurement procedures resulted in the procurement of some unreliable equipment that reduced the capacity of the Nigerian Army in the NE operations and resulted in avoidable loss of lives and equipment.”

The army authorities, the panel pointed out violated the Public Procurement Act between 2007 and 2015.

The presidency has commenced the implementation of the panel’s recommendations in phases beginning with the probe of those said to have mismanaged over $15billion.

The report said: “The Committee’s interactions with the field operators revealed that although the platforms and ammunition procured for the Nigerian Army were deployed for the NE operations, most of them were over aged or expired and support spares were insufficient or completely not available.

“The platforms were prone to frequent breakdown without immediate recovery support. The non-adherence to the procurement procedures resulted in procurement of some unreliable equipment that reduced the capacity of the Nigerian Army in the NE operations and resulted in avoidable loss of lives and equipment.

“Additionally, training of personnel for the NE was grossly inadequate, ineffective and inefficient. The officers and men had little or no knowledge of their comrades as most of them met their immediate commanders for the first time on arrival in the North-East (NE). The much desired confidence in commanders and comrades was almost totally absent.

“Likewise, the officers and men had very little working knowledge of the combat equipment.

“These anomalies therefore adversely affected the operations in the NE. Furthermore, the access to several sources of funding for procurement and operations made accountability difficult and encouraged profligacy.”

The panel also faulted non-compliance with the Public Procurement Act in its arms and equipment contracts between 2007 and 2015, saying: “Generally, it was observed that except for the procurement funded by the NNPC, virtually all the Nigerian Army procurement handled by MOD, Nigerian Army and ONSA were fundamentally not executed in compliance with the PPA 2007.

“The Committee further established that contracts were conceived without the involvement of relevant specialists and awarded to incompetent contractors.

“The non-conduct of pre-shipment inspection resulted in procurement of degraded, obsolete and wrong equipment in most cases resulting in the procured items not meeting the Nigerian Army’s operational requirement.”

In asking the Federal Government to ask the  two former Chiefs of Army Staff,  to account for the utilization of N7,598,977,828.62,the panel said: “It was established that the sum of N10,631,812,708.25 representing 55.54% of the total sum was expended on purposes for which the funds were approved and released.

“However, the sum of N7,598,977,828.62 representing 39.69% of the total sum was spent on purposes inconsistent with the requirements for which the funds were approved.

“The Committee for instance noted that out of the N4,156,500,000.00 released for Regular Recruit Training, the sum of N3,890,004,214.19 was expended on purposes incompatible with the approval such as AHQ Operating expenses – N543,913,420.00, COAS administrative expenses – N381,978,000.00, formations and units Operating expenses –N735,172,265.00, Nigerian Army Schools – N412,505,725.00 and Command Secondary Schools – N111,411,181.00 among others.

“Furthermore, the sum of N320,000,000.00 earmarked for the construction of detention facilities, sustenance of QRGs and FOBs and emergency procurement of combat requirements was expended on the construction of Nigerian Army Language Institute (NALI) Ovim, Abia State. “Out of this amount, the sum of N50,000,000.00 was paid into Brig Gen M Mamman’s personal account for the NALI project. It was also confirmed that the sum of N645,848,114.43 out of N1,129,394,064.13 was utilized for activities not related to the construction of detention facilities at both Giwa Barracks Maiduguri and Wawa Barracks New Bussa.

“The diversion of this fund truncated the construction of befitting detention facilities and consequently exposed Nigeria to international ridicule. The Committee further found that the sum of N620,000,000.00 representing 3.23% of the total sum being funds for Immediate Requirement for Operation BOYONA was not accounted for.

“It was further established that funds expended for the emergency procurement of 30 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and other accessories valued at $18,423,000.00 was executed without the Nigerian Army exercising due diligence.

“These vehicles were procured by the then COAS; Lt Gen OA Ihejirika (rtd) on the spur of the moment based on “common sense, instinct and intuition”.

“Despite the Technical Assessment Reports that observed inadequacies such as the vulnerability of the vehicles to attack, recovery vehicles and lack of support spares including their unsuitability for deployment in the NE, the Nigerian Army made full payment to the Vendor.

“The induction of high number MRAP vehicles into Service was therefore considered rash, ill-advised and wasteful as they had insignificant impact on the war against terror in the NE. Lt Gen OA Ihejirika (Rtd) and Lt Gen KTJ Minimah (Rtd) therefore should be held accountable accordingly.

“In March 2014, the ONSA made a case for the release of N1,000,000,000.00 to sustain offensive operations against Boko Haram insurgents across Nigerian borders. Although the amount was approved and released, the Committee could not establish the utilisation of the fund.”

Published in Headliners

After serving at the Redeemed Christian Church of God for 23 years, Bayo Akinjiyan, 55, has decried what he described as “man’s inhumanity to man and the travesty of justice” by the church he served “meritoriously.”1

Akinjiyan, who voluntarily resigned from the church in 2013 after rising to the position of an assistant provincial pastor at Lagos Province 25, said he could not fathom why an organis1ation he was once a part of for 23 years would treat him with “human indignity” and refuse to pay him what is due to him.

Upon his exit from the church, Akinjiyan said he had to vacate a N15m house he personally built on Plot 15, Diligence Road, Redemption Camp, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, which is in line with the policy of the church that a non-member has no rights to own any building at the camp. 

However, after handing over the property, its receipt has yet to be acknowledged by the authorities of the church; a position Akinjiyan said had made him uncomfortable.

His other grievance is over unpaid consultancy fees amounting to over N2m on projects designed, supervised and or managed by him since 2012.

Akinjiyan said he had exploited all available media to express his grievances to the church, including through the writing of private letters to the General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, but after waiting for over two years and his grievances had yet to be addressed, he had resorted to writing an open letter to the leader of the church.

His letter read, “First, I want to address the attitude and response of the authorities and leadership of the Redeemed Christian Church of God over the house on Plot 15, Diligence Road, Redemption Camp Estate, Redemption Camp, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway that I handed over to them upon my voluntary exit from the church after 23 years of meritorious service and having risen to the position of assistant provincial pastor.

“This was contained in my letter of resignation, dated November 3, 2013. That I gave my best in this adventure was alluded to by the church in the letter of release, dated March 11, 2014, which states inter alia, ‘…We wish to appreciate you for your contributions to this ministry and we pray that God will reward and support you in your future endeavours…’

“Secondly, the attitude and response of the Board of Governors of Christ the Redeemers College, Sagamu, Ogun State Nigeria — a private secondary school operated by Christ the Redeemer’s Ministries, an affiliate of RCCG, over an unpaid consultancy fees on projects designed, supervised and or managed by me since 2012.

“I know the implications of my actions and having fully weighed my options, I hereby accept full responsibilities for my actions. My decision to inform the Christian community and the larger society is not aimed at destroying or tarnishing the image of anyone or maligning the church that once gave me fire, but rather, it is aimed at putting records straight, and satisfying my God and my conscience. I have prayed over this matter, consulted those that I needed to, and I’ve come to the conclusion that God is on the side of those who have a right standing with Him.

“Let us address the first issue — the house at Redemption Camp. In line with the policy of the RCCG mission on those who build on its land, the keys to the house on the above mentioned location, which is a five-bedroom house (all en-suite), valued by a firm of chartered estate surveyors at N15.5m as of December 5, 2011, were submitted to the church through my letter to the General Overseer, dated March 4, 2014 upon my voluntary exit.

“Reminders were also sent through four other letters dated September 2, 2015, January 2, 2016, March 10, 2016, and June 27, 2016.  Of all these letters and reminders, the only response I had was a letter dated October 9, 2015, acknowledging the letter of September 2, stating as follows, ‘…We wish to inform you that the issues raised in your letter have been referred to concerned officials for their comments and response. We shall get back to you as we receive feedback and further directives from the mission authority.

“Almost a year down the line, I am still waiting. My request was that the church should at least officially acknowledge the receipt of the house, even if there is no form of compensation. The God who built that for me can always give me a better one. This is my belief. The need to acknowledge the takeover of the house becomes necessary for at least two reasons: first, when I get to heaven (and by the grace of God I will make it), there will be an official and authentic record from RCCG in my favour, of the house that was forfeited to her as a result of doing the will of the Master here on earth.

“Secondly, it is to my knowledge that properties said to belong to the leadership of the church or that of the RCCG Mission sometimes allegedly, carelessly and surreptitiously fall into wrong hands. In view of this development, the question is: Is Pastor Adeboye even aware of this house in question of having been handed over to RCCG? If yes, has he given an instruction for my request to be granted? If yes, what is delaying his instruction from being carried out almost a year after? If no action has been taken with all these efforts of mine, what is the reason for this?”

Akinjiyan’s second grievance is the non-payment of N2,140,604.66 consultancy fee on projects designed, supervised and managed by him since 2012 at Christ the Redeemers College, the secondary school of the church.

He wrote, “I was appointed by the governing board of the above-named college for the purpose of overseeing the projects on a week-by-week basis at a meeting held by the Board on November 28, 2009. My duties and responsibilities were diligently carried out to the letter. When I wrote to the college for payment thereafter, no response was given. I wrote a reminder after two years, the college refused to collect the letter for reasons best known to the official at their reception desk. I thereafter sent it to the General Overseer on March 10, 2016. A reminder was sent in June 2016 and also a personal copy to Pastor (Mrs.) Folu Adeboye, the wife of the G.O., who is a major stakeholder of the college.

“For all these to have happened in a church I diligently served for 23 years is questionable in my opinion. I have yet to find out why I should be so treated in this manner even after I had followed due process to secure my release. Please also note that it took the church over two years to organise a send-off in my honour and this was after I wrote the G.O. about it. It took the church over two years and after two separate letters of reminder, to pay royalty on over 30 of my published books in the church bookshops. This also happened after I wrote to the G.O. about it.

“Would it be right then to say that perhaps all these are personal vendetta coming from those on whose toes I stepped on while I served through my insistence that right things must be done and I am now being made to pay for my uncompromising stance on corruptive tendencies within the spheres I served and particularly at the college?

“I believe that for our nation to be great again, all hands must be on deck. Religious leaders have a crucial role to play beyond praying for the nation. They need to also teach their members and warn against the evil of corruption, expose its tendencies within the system. Then and only then can our nation be sanitised and become great again. The government alone cannot fight and win this humongous battle against corruption.

“One thing is for sure: for the leadership of the RCCG to keep ignoring me and all the letters I’ve sent across to it for its own best known reasons would be cutting off its nose to spite its face. I know so much more than anyone could think of and I counsel that they should just let sleeping dogs lie. If this situation persists in the next couple of days, one may be compelled to press for full redress on these issues. I am using this opportunity to call on all those who believe in the course of justice within the church and outside of it to please assist me in this cause. I’m calling on human rights groups and civil society organisations and others to please strengthen my arm through the law if need be.

“I also call on the irrepressible media, both print and electronic in Nigeria and in the international community, to conduct investigative journalism and prove me wrong in any of my assertions. A young lawyer friend has provided me legal services so far and has written the appropriate bodies on these issues. I pray the church authority will act fast on this, but if they think otherwise, I am fully prepared for the days ahead. I also know that this journey may be long, lonely and dreary. The wheel of justice may grind slowly, but with God on my side, there is a glorious light at end of the tunnel.

“To the Christian community and friends, I demand your prayers at this time. I know some ‘brethren’ will vilify me, abuse and harass me, take me through scriptures on how to resolve church conflicts (I’ve explored all these) or how not to touch ‘mine anointed.’ I know some would call me names, raise non-existing scandalous issues that have not surfaced since I left over three years ago. I know I could be under threat of attack or be monitored. I am not bothered.

“What is not worth dying for is not worth living for. Some might ask: You want to destroy a house you helped in building or once lived in? My answer is ‘no’. It is to prevent the house from collapsing on its present occupants that is my concern. Some might ask why fight over mundane issues such as house or money and just N2.1m? My answer is ‘no’. I have been involved in projects for the church to the extent that that if I were to collect consultancy fees, it would have run into over tens of millions of naira, but yet I executed some of these projects with my colleagues in the building industry for next to nothing.

“I am not a gold digger nor do I seek to reap where I did not sow. I belong to the Joshua generation and this error of treating with indignity people who follow due process in resigning from the church must stop. I have suffered in the hands of vipers, vultures, lions, crocodiles, pharaohs and goliaths in the church system over the years, I’ve suffered with Christ through obedience to His will. I’ve gone through and still going through ‘indignity’ of living in a rented accommodation, after building a decent house and living in it just because of doing God’s will. I’ve had my own portion of the vicissitudes of life.

“I have a different spirit and have followed the Lord fully. Having been given positions of trust and responsibilities and never abused any, I rejoice and see all these as part of the faith package of my redemption through Christ Jesus and in all of these. I’m more than a conqueror. I have no regret of any decisions taken in the past, I have no better yesterday yet, I’m a believer in a glorious tomorrow. I have coveted no man’s silver or gold; I’ve never stolen church funds or church members.

“Unconfirmed reports indicate how people who left the Redemption Camp sold their houses through illegal transfers without the mission batting an eyelid. I decided to do the right thing and must I suffer for it? While I do not claim to be perfect, just as no one is, I contend daily for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints. I am not intimidated and can never be. I serve the living God, the God of faithfulness and without injustice, good and upright is He. A word, they say, is enough for the wise and those who live in glass houses do not throw stones.”

Published in Business and Economy


Diesel oil being drawn from one of the illegal oil wells.

Diesel oil being drawn from one of the illegal oil wells.

At least 10 houses have been shut at Ilasamaja area of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria as 12 illegal diesel oil wells have been uncovered in the houses where massive bunkering activities were being carried out.

 

Officials of the police, led by the Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni; Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA and others were at the scene on Friday evening and sealed off the houses while residents have fled to avoid arrest.

General Manager, LASEMA, Michael Akindele said the agency received a distress call via the 767 toll-free line on Friday about diesel theft around Ibadan and Abeokuta Street, Ilasamaja area of Lagos.

 

Oil fetched in a bale

Oil fetched in a bale

“Investigation by the Emergency Rescue Team, ERT of LASEMA at the scene of the incident revealed that over 10 houses were said to have diesel in their wells.

 

“Further probing into the incident revealed that it is a case of bunkering as eyewitness gave reports of trucks coming in at night to load diesel. However, the source of the diesel is still unknown. There was no loss of lives; the area has been assessed to be a site of potential disaster. There was swift and prompt action by the agency and its stakeholders.

Also present at the scene were officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps Anti-vandal unit, police officers, officials of the Isolo Local Council Development Area, LCDA.

According to Akindele, the affected area had been cordoned off, while occupants of the affected houses were asked to vacate immediately to avoid any disaster.

He said the Lagos State Government would soon come out with further action to be taken on the matter, while commending Lagosians for given out the information on time.

 

oil in a bale

oil in a bale

Investigation revealed that illegal oil bunkering usually take place in the area around 12 midnight. The illegal business is said to have been going on in the last two years.

 

In one of the houses, the landlady is said to have a pumping machine used in pumping diesel from the well for sale.

The woman was said to have driven away the tenants as she concentrated solely on diesel oil bunkering in the dead of the night.

State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde said the government discovered 12 shallow wells with the presence of diesel oil in them where diesel were being pumped out and sold to unsuspecting members of the public.

He said a combined team led by the Commissioner of Police, Owoseni visited the area and carried out thorough inspection and discovered the presence of 12 oil wells.

Ayorinde said samples of the oil had been taken for test to determine the nature of the substance, adding that for safety, the affected wells had been sealed off.

Police CP, Owoseni, Steve Ayorinde, Lagos Commissioner for Information and Strategy and others at the scene,

Police CP, Owoseni, Steve Ayorinde, Lagos Commissioner for Information and Strategy and others at the scene,

The commissioner disclosed that a few landlords had been taken advantage of the situation to sell diesel products to the public. 

He said affected residents would be relocated by the government, while calling on residents to always give useful information to the government whenever such things occur.

Speaking, Owoseni disclosed that three people had been arrested by the police in connection with the illegal oil bunkering, adding that some landladies in the area had taken advantage of the situation to profit from the business.

Director, Lagos State Fire Service, Rasak Fadipe said the fire station at Ilasamaja was on ground to prevent any outbreak of fire, while advising residents to report anything that might lead to outbreak of fire to the fire service for prompt action.

Published in Headliners

Professor of Political Economy and Management expert, Pat Utomi, shares his thoughts on the state of the country’s economy, politics and other issues.

There were speculations that you were going to be a Minister or at least be on the economic team of President Muhammadu Buhari. Were you not reached out to or you were simply uninterested?

 First of all, I think there is too much emphasis on form rather than content in our context as a people. I think what is always important is our ability to work together as a people to change the society. There are different roles we can play as a people and it doesn’t matter when other people tend to criticise you as long as the right things are done. I was very uncomfortable with the whole rush of speculations leading up to that whole thing. What we wanted to do was change the direction of our country. We saw our country going in a set of wrong direction. Many of us said, ‘No, we can’t continue like this. This has great consequences.’ So we made our time, energy and every other thing available for the push. However, the only thing I can say is that the party (All Progressives Congress) did a terrible job at transition. They didn’t manage it well. Now we don’t see where the country is going; this is very obvious to me. But it is not a matter of who is where or not; that is not important.

Now, with the current situation of things, several Nigerians have been bashing this administration for not having a tight economic team. Do you share a similar view?

 

I think what matters is do we have a set of cohesive ideas that are implemented by people who are very passionate about what they are doing, people who are trusted by those they are trying to lead? That is very important for any turnaround, because why you need a turnaround is because of loss of faith in the system. To get the system to run in a particular way, you need to have people who people have faith in. You could even have geniuses in the system who people don’t have faith in. They won’t get you anywhere. In that sense, therefore, I think we could have done a better job of trying to find passionate people who people have faith in and who also have clear faith in something. Perhaps because the communication programme is also very poor, we don’t get a sense of where things are supposed to be heading, which may be there, but somehow it’s poorly communicated. So in that sense, there is a general loss of confidence in whether we as a party know where we are going or where the party is leading Nigeria to. Anybody who is sincere will tell you that. This feeling is pervasive to the extent that people like us who put everything on the line talking about change and all of that have been at the receiving end. People now ask us, ‘Where is that your change?’ I deal with this question every day. I can’t pretend that the change is there.

So there’s no change anywhere…

Well, there are some important things being done. There is a tendency to be a bit bashful about things in our context. Unless you have made a deep effort to understand why Nigeria’s circumstances are flawed, you won’t realise how terrible corruption is. In this country, aren’t you shocked when you hear all these revelations every day? I think no country should survive this level of graft. That this aspect is being focussed on is an important achievement on its own and nobody should take it away. I don’t even think we have gone as far as we should go. The style should be different. I have been singing this song of how corruption has crippled Nigeria for decades. Suddenly, Nigerians are beginning to ask, ‘Is it that bad?’ Yes, it’s that bad; it’s even worse than has been revealed. It’s much worse because there is a total lack of how much corruption has plagued the system. I mean some people are so bifurcated of their dispositions that they don’t realise what they are doing and the consequences for everybody. That’s why the guy in the National Assembly would say to himself, ‘What’s padding? Is it not just to put small things here and there and add everything up?’ To them in their conscience, what’s the big deal? For me, my argument for a long time has been that part of our problem is the structure. We don’t need this National Assembly at all as it is. I have been saying this since 1999. Nigeria does not need a full-time National Assembly. We need a citizen legislature, a unicameral citizen legislature. For instance, if you are busy on your farm at Ile-Oluji (Ondo State) and you just go to the National Assembly for a few days to make laws, you won’t be padding. You won’t be looking for Ministers to blackmail to get money and all of that. So the structure of the country is wrong, the structure of the government is wrong. It assumes we are a rich country, which is not the case because of the way “oil thinking” damaged us. We are running a system that is way out of line with our resources. This is a major problem. Another issue about where and the way things are that I think people don’t give enough credit to is that just a change of government was a huge achievement. About a year and a half ago, a foreign journalist was asking me about my disposition. I said, ‘Look, I have consistently spoken on the subject of institutions and human development.’ One of the biggest reasons Nigeria is not reaching its potential   is because there is a community both within and outside the country that believes that the democratic ethos has not settled in Nigeria. If you look at how Nigeria and Ghana were being compared globally two years ago, if you looked at the Index of Economic Freedom, if you looked at the so-called Failed State Index, you would see Ghana way ahead of Nigeria. The gap has been wide. The question is why is Ghana so far ahead of Nigeria in the perception of people? Of course, everything is about perception. It is because Ghana had a change of government from an incumbent regime to another and then to another, in two cycles. Ghana is now seen as a more serious democracy. So for me, changing the government was an end in itself. It didn’t matter if we got a worse government. Just achieving that change was critical to institutional building in Nigeria. In the work that I did to ensure that change took place, that was, in fact, my top priority, before other issues that we’ve been battling with. Let us not feel as a people that because things are not going well right now, we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. I think we’ve achieved a significant thing by having a change of government. I think we are doing well by making people see how terrible corruption really is. But there is still a lot more to be done in that area. Then we can look at other areas which are not working down the line.

But could there be a real change when a government is changed but the people inside it and the system are not changed? Are we not stuck in the same cycle of having people with same old ideologies and principles just changing parties?

You know things are progressive. At least people now know that if they do certain things which are wrong, they will be caught, if not today, but tomorrow. So they will be more careful. If you took everybody out, then you would get what we got at the beginning of the budget process. They took out the people who used to make budget and then they didn’t have anybody who has the capacity to make it, so the budget was a mess. Change is not about taking everybody out like that. In fact, part of my worry was that the people that we needed to retain were removed so fast. Look, this is part of the damage that the military did to Nigeria. A consistent unchanging public service that will change direction with some political leadership change is always better for the system because we need institutional memory. No organisation, whether it’s a business or government, can fare well if it lacks institutional memory — what the Germans call “veta shuuen.” We need that. So I even think we changed people much faster. Yes, many people argue that many of the politicians in the APC came from the Peoples Democratic Party, but let me tell you why that is not the end of the world. If the core leaders of the APC have been able to firmly establish their ideologies of what the APC stands for, those people coming in, wherever they come from, will have to re-orientate themselves. In human history, in the history of political parties, people have always changed their orientations, parties have always changed their orientations. Now, would you believe that the Republican Party in the United States used to be the party of the Black people? Abraham Lincoln, who fought the civil war to emancipate the Blacks from slavery, was a Republican. But at a point in time, the nature of the leadership of the party changed; they changed their ideological dispositions and so the Blacks shifted over. So, saying people came from the PDP to APC is not really the issue. The question is that is the core leadership of the APC able to define its ideologies, the way it governs, thereby affecting the newcomers? My biggest concern in this regard was the electoral and the political party process. As a strong member of the APC, I think the political process has not been effective as it should be and I have never hidden this. I have said this to the Chairman of the party (Chief John Odie-Oyegun). Every time I see him, I ask him, ‘What’s the party doing?’ because the party should be the foundation. However, there is this tendency in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, for political parties to be just about power. Once power is grabbed, everybody abandons the party and runs into government. Before the last elections, I was talking with the Director of the International Republican Institute in Abuja (Robina Namusisi) and she raised this point about one of the problems in many African countries. She gave the example of an African country that after the party won the election, almost everybody from the party became government official — from Ministers, to advisers, and so on — until there was nobody in the party again. Then when another election was approaching, they discovered they didn’t have a party direction. I think the same thing happened to the APC. We had a number of strong people at the party secretariat, but everybody focussed on the government and forgot the party and so we have a problem because of it. I have been raising this issue. Anytime I run into Chief Oyegun, I ask him, ‘Where is the party? Where are the policies? Where is your orientation?’ Anybody who runs into the APC must be schooled in what the party believes in so that nobody will just come and use the party as an electoral machine to get power. How do you expect them to behave in a particular manner? They cannot because they’ve not been told what the party represents and believes in. Maybe I should run for the chairmanship of the party.

Are you considering doing that?

Well, I don’t know, but it is a very important subject that we need to deal with. It has been part of the failure in Africa.

In July, President Buhari said he was averse to including the private sector players in his economic team because they were used to exploiting government policies for their selfish interests. What’s your view on the President’s statement?

I agree completely with the President. You cannot have a former government’s economic team making policies that are going to affect your play. That is not proper. It almost amounted to insider trading. It’s wrong both morally and in terms of decision processing for the former economic team to include private sector actors. It’s like an actor making policies for and regulating himself. I think that’s what the President meant in that sense. But that doesn’t mean there should not be structures in place for consulting with the private sector. Their input is important. I keep reverting to one of Africa’s best examples. It’s a country called Mauritius. The discussions at their Chamber of Commerce are even more important than the discussions at their Parliament because once the Chamber of Commerce takes a position on something; the government almost automatically takes a position with them. That is why Mauritius is prospering. Consulting with the private sector is important, but having economic players in the economic team is like self-regulation and that is not proper. However, I think the conversation is missing the real point. The whole thing that (former President Goodluck) Jonathan did with some private sector players like Aliko Dangote and others; that was unacceptable, that was wrong. However, we need people with private sector knowledge (but who are no longer in the private sector) to be in the policy team. For instance, the US Treasurer is usually somebody who once worked in Wall Street and then goes back to Wall Street after spending about two years in the position because their time is so valuable. I think we are not getting the proper conversation going on in Nigeria.

Due to high interest rate, inflation, scarcity of forex and other factors, many Small and Medium Enterprises have been pushed out of the system. Do you think the present administration is getting its economic policies right?

But you see, if SMEs are really SMEs, their transactions should not be dollar-based. Why many of them are out is because we don’t have an economy that produces and so what we have is a chain of rent-seeking behaviour. This guy seeks rent from doing government’s contracts and then sets up a supply company to extract the rent from him; that is the kind of economy we have. Our model, sadly, is exactly like that of Venezuela.

…which is in deep economic crisis now

Venezuela has always been in crisis. This is the country that has the biggest deposit of crude oil in the world but cannot provide basic services and Nigeria has been imitating Venezuela continuously. I have been saying this for years. Let’s look at other countries with bigger problems that have struggled better. Look at Indonesia, an oil-producing country like us. Let me tell two stories about Indonesia, hoping we can learn lessons. Some years ago, Peter Lewis, a friend of mine who is a professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University, U.S. (where I also have a permanent seat), wrote an interesting book called “Growing Apart.” The book is a comparison of Nigeria and Indonesia. In the early 60s, people used to say to Indonesia, ‘We wish you could be like Nigeria.’ But in the early 90s, people used to say to Nigeria, ‘We wish you could be like Indonesia.’ These two countries have always been referred to as “development twins.” I used to talk about these things such that when Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi was appointed by the Abdulsalami Abubakar regime as the Minister of National Planning and Development, he was the head of the Nigerian delegation to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. He once went to an OPEC meeting in 1998 and when he came back, he couldn’t wait to get hold of me. He said, ‘Pat, now I understand what you’ve been talking about.’ I asked him what that was all about. He said when they got to the meeting (it was during one of those periods of economic crisis when oil price was low like we have now, but much worse, around $9 per barrel), every member country was talking and shouting that their quota must increase. He told me that as the meeting was going on and everybody was shouting, he noticed that the Indonesian oil minister was just quiet and feeling like, ‘Why are these people shouting and disturbing me? Can we get to more serious conversations?’ Chief Gbadamosi said the Indonesian minister just wasn’t engaging in the conversation. He then went to the man and asked, ‘Are you people not bothered? Don’t you want better quota?’ He said the man just laughed at him and said, ‘It’s you Nigerians who don’t know what you are doing. We don’t depend on oil money. We are making more money from gas than from crude oil and you Nigerians started before us in that direction.’ Another story I want to tell about Indonesia is from one of my visits to the country in 1997. It is a country that is said to have a terrible history of corruption. My host was a former oil minister of the country, Prof. Mohammed Sadli. He’s dead now. This man was living in a bungalow without air-conditioner; meanwhile, Jakarta, their capital, is hotter than Lagos. As we sat in his living room and fans were blowing, this man’s favourite subject matter was ethics. I thought to myself, ‘Imagine a former oil minister of Nigeria living in a bungalow without air-conditioner, just imagine what people will be saying about him.’ But you see, in the middle of the big corruption in Indonesia, President (Mohammad) Suharto was able to put together a team of PhDs in Economics, who were mainly graduates of the University of California, Berkeley, U.S. — who were widely known as “The Berkeley Mafia.” Many of the people in the team offered themselves selflessly to redeem their country, which is why now a country that was used to be asked, ‘Can’t you be like Nigeria?’ has done far better than Nigeria. Nigeria is now being asked, ‘Can’t you be like Indonesia?’ There is a pool of such talented Nigerians who are given to selfless service, knowing that just out of the quality of their mind and education, there are more important things in life than the size of their bank accounts. It’s not because they are stupid or anything, but they just want to see things become better. If we are sensible enough, we should have seen it by now. Look at all the guys splashing money like 10 years ago, I know where many of them are now. The failure of leadership in Nigeria is the failure to do what Indonesia did. We should find the kind of people that Indonesia found and let them redeem this country. Even though President Suharto was busy making money for himself, he knew where his country had to go and he found the people who took his country there.

And that’s what President Buhari should do right now?

I don’t know what he should do. I have given up on advising people. I just want to become a farmer and see if I can produce something.

Recently, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said Nigeria was technically in recession. As an entrepreneur, how do we navigate through this period?

As they say, when you look at a cup, it can either be half-full or half-empty. A recession is an opportunity. I have a favourite story in this regard of the Great Depression in the U.S. (1929-39). During the course of that depression, there was a gentleman called (John Richard) Simplot. He observed that when things were bad — when people who had skyscrapers were jumping to their death — most people wouldn’t be eating what they used to eat because they wouldn’t be able to afford it any longer. Instead of eating expensive meals, they would probably be looking for cheaper food. So he asked himself, ‘What is the inferior food that can now be turned into an attractive one?’ Back then, many people hated potatoes, they considered it a poor people’s food. They used to say it was a trashy food. Meanwhile, potatoes were growing in the wild in the Idaho area of the country. Literally, you could buy a truckload of potatoes for just $1. So Simplot said to himself that potatoes would be the kind of food many would come to embrace because they didn’t have money again. But then, potatoes had such a bad reputation for being cheap that people were ashamed of being seen eating them. What did he do? The first thing he did was to think that if he was going to start marketing potatoes to people, he needed to find out how to store them because they were just rotten everywhere, just like in Nigeria where many farm produce end up in the trash. He then made some researches on how to preserve potatoes and he found out that they were one of the easiest foods to preserve. All he had to do was remove the water from them — that is, dehydrate them — and they would still retain their properties. If six months later you want to fry them, just put them back in water, and they will come up again. Simplot then began to slice them up and since potatoes had such a bad image, he wanted to change the image. He then fried all the slices and didn’t call them potatoes. He called them “French fries.” People fell in love with the French fries instantly. Afterward, fortunes smiled on him because he ran into a guy called Ray Kroc who founded a company called McDonald’s. They came into partnership and every time customers bought hamburgers, they would also buy French fries and Simplot became a billionaire in the process (worth $3.6bn before his death in 2008) — in the middle of a recession. So we shouldn’t see our recession as a frightening moment, but as an opportunity to get Nigeria to begin to produce again. That is why I’m passionate about agriculture now because that is the future. There are other areas we can begin to look into to sell. We can sell culture, which is one area we have been excelling. Our films and music are selling. We can sell our culture much better than we sell crude oil. We have talked a lot about our agricultural value chain. My favourite example always is rubber. Why would you manufacture a car in Nigeria where you won’t be competitive? Take rubber for example where Nigeria once had the best yield per hectare. This was a presentation I made at the Nigeria Economic Summit in 1993. Take the rubber and become its best producer in the world and export it, knowing that it is one of the most important components of manufacturing a car. We will probably be making more money from it than from crude oil.

As an entrepreneur, how many books do you read in a year?

I don’t count them on an annual basis, but I read as many as I can. On average, I read a book per week. Anytime I’m in the car, I pick up a book and read. I could read two books simultaneously.

You were once a presidential candidate. Have you given up on your ambition? 

I’ve never had an ambition. In fact, I dislike the word. Ambition is like you are pursuing something by all means. I have no interest in any ambition. But I am a citizen and I have a duty to my children and to my fellow citizens to be part of showing a direction. If that involves having to run for office, fine. If being a farmer makes me deliver better, it’s also good. If being a teacher makes me deliver better, that’s also good. Whatever works, I will do.

Published in Headliners
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