Letter to Sen. Suleiman Nazif [Seriki’n Comedy]

My Dearest Senator ,

I was overgasted and flabberwhelmed when I read this story in the newspapers last week.
Senator, these Americans now have liver o?

Please dont let the matter disturb you too much…I will try to explain why they behaved the way they did.

I see the hand of Barack Obama in what happened to you. Dont forget that Obama is a Kenyan and no matter how much he sings the American national anthem, he will always be a Kenyan.
I believe that the reason he ordered the American customs officials to deport you can be traced to the ‘small African country’ mentality that has been disturbing a lot of our African brothers and sisters for a very long time.

They never know how to control their jealousy whenever they see Nigerians. Of course this is because we are the giant of Africa and they are merely dwarves.

I wonder why Obama decided to treat you like that.
What has he achieved compared to you? He has been president of America for nearly 2 months now and he has done nothing. 
Senator, I have 3 American friends and all of them told me that they are not feeling stimulated at all by Obama’s stimulus plan.
Instead of him to concentrate on his work in the white house, he was asking them to deport you. 

I am on your side 100% Senator.

I am also hearing a lot of people saying you are daft, retarded and silly for using the visa they gave you to attend Obama’s inauguration in March..one week before it expired.
They say that since the reason you were given the visa was solely for the inauguration, the Americans were right to deport you because you only turned up almost 2 months after the inauguration and one week before it expired.

Senator, leave these people to God to judge. What do they know?
Even if you are daft and retarded and silly, what authority do they have to open their mouth and repeat it?

I am still on your side Senator.

I know you are a very busy man and the reason you couldnt attend the inauguration was because you had to attend the retreat organised by the National Assembly Committee on Constitutional reform in Niger state.
What right thinking person would leave an important retreat in Niger State to attend a once in a lifetime inauguration of America’s first black president?

Senator these people dont have any sense or gumption at all.

The fact of the matter is that you were sitting down jejely when you were asked to go and represent the Nigerian government at the inauguration.
If they didnt beg you to go, I know you would definitely not have gone.

Because, you didnt want to offend the millions of your fans in America and out of the goodness of your heart, you asked them to defer your trip till March even though the inauguration could not be deferred.
Senator, you really tried and to be honest America does not deserve you to step on it’s soil.

If Obama knew anything about economics, he would have welcomed you with a red carpet because you would have spent your estacode on shopping in America thereby boosting their economy.
But anyway that’s their loss.

Senator, please dont listen to people who are saying you brought disrepute to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
How can you bring ‘disrepute’ to an office that had no ‘repute’ in the first place?
These people are trying to use you as a scapegoat and they will not succeed.

They should go and look at your record Bauchi North or how you have been fighting for the creation  of Katagum State so that the good people of Katagum can now have direct access to the national cake [including the icing and cherries].

But Senator, behind every cloud there is a silver lining.
I believe we can turn this unfortunate incident into a political advantage for you in the 2011 elections.

I am an experienced political consultant and I believe we can return you to office in 2011 in a landslide victory.
In fact since you are a member of the Senate committee on constitutional reform, I would advise you to secretly insert an amendment in the 1999 constitution that allows Senators to run for office indefinitely.
I am certain you cannot be defeated again in any election in Bauchi state and you are guaranteed to win the governorship once Katagum State is created.

Once we can tell the electorate in Bauchi that you were refused entry to America because you stood up to Obama and he was afraid of you, the people will see you as a hero.
We will present you to the people as a courageous man who always fights for justice and fair play.
This is the reason why you are protesting your ‘unfair and undignified’ treatment by the US Customs Officials even though nobody is listening to your protest.

Senator, never mind the people laughing at you now….they wont be laughing once you become the most powerful Hausa Fulani politician in Nigeria.
They will be lining up in front of your office very soon looking for political favours.

I can already see them shouting ‘Nigeria Sai Sulaiman’ and dancing in the streets everywhere while you throw money at them from the sun roof of your land cruiser.

Well done Senator and keep up the good work.
You will surely live longer than your enemies.

Tenaciously Yours,

Double Eph.

Danger Ahead: Mimiko Mimicry!

And so it was……Dr Olusegun Kokumo Agagu became the 11th governor to be removed from office since 2007 for electoral irregularities. 

There’s plenty to cheer about this relative novelty in our land.
Before now, elected officials have always been invincible….no matter how badly they performed, there never seemed to be a reckoning.
So it’s very refreshing to see justice being done in cases where electoral fraud has clearly been perpetrated.

To my mind, we are now making up for lost time.
Imagine what Nigeria would be like today if we had used the June 12 1993 elections as our standard?
Oh well, no use crying over spilt milk…it’s taken us 16 years but we are getting there.

The next step will now be to get the electorate themselves to treat their votes as something precious not to be given away cheaply to some lousy politician.

Another reason to be cheerful is that despite various attempts by some unscrupulous people to heat up the polity, the much hyped and predicted violence never materialised save for the odd skirmish in pockets.
This is a wonderful thing…Nigerians are now realising that no politician is worth dying for.
This is especially heart warming when you remember the history of Ondo state as the cauldron of violence and mayhem it turned out to be after the disputed 1983 elections where Akin Omoboriowo somehow ‘defeated’ the late Adekunle Ajasin after defecting to the NPN from the UPN.

May we never see such senseless violence again in the name of politics.

But there’s a slight problem with all of this.

Dr Rahman Olusegun Mimiko [pronounced Mee Mee Ko…I am an Ondo man so I can show off!] has now been sworn in as Governor of Ondo state almost 2 years after the elections he apparently won took place.
As commendable as the judiciary has been since the April 2007 elections, more needs to be done.

We cant be having people in executive office for 2 years before realising they werent meant to be there in the first place.
What’s to stop an incumbent, who knows he has no chance of winning reelection, from rigging the elections as brazenly as possible knowing fully well that it will take another 2 years for him to be removed from office.

Nigeria doesnt have 2 minutes to waste…never mind 2 years.
The original judgement in the case was delivered on 29th of July 2008.
The appeal took another 7 months to conclude!
What do you reckon Dr Agagu was doing in the state house in those 7 months? Especially as it was  pretty obvious he wasnt going to win the appeal.

We must avoid a situation where politicians begin to view the slow pace of justice in Nigeria as an ‘opportunity’ to be manipulated to their advantage.

There’s a slightly similar case being played out in America at the moment.
Since November 2008 one time funny man, Al Franken and Senator Norm Coleman have been haggling over something like 400 votes…less than 1pct of the total votes cast.
Al Franken has now been declared the winner of the election but he wont be seated in the Senate until Norm Coleman has exhausted all appeals available to him.

In fairness, a Senator is very different from a Governor and the United States Senate can function very well with one less Senator.
But the principle to be learned here is that people ought not to be given any authority or paraphenelia of office until the courts have declared their elections as final.

There is no easy solution to this problem because even if the tribunals work overtime and reach a verdict during the transition period, the case can still get slowed down if the loser decides to go to the Appeal Court.
The only way is probably for electoral cases to be fast tracked through the courts in the transition period.

The other slightly worrying development from this case was that out of 276,938 votes that were cast during the election, only 152,474 were eventually accepted by the courts as valid votes.
In effect Dr Mimiko has been declared the governor of Ondo State based on a plurality of 55% of the votes….hmmmm.

Again there’s danger ahead here.
Very soon we will have people being elected based on a majority of the minority if we are not careful.
As usual it’s the ordinary people who suffer when 2 Seguns fight.
In this instance, the entire votes from Irele and Ilaje local governments were nullified…..thus depriving the people of those areas of the chance to speak.
I suppose the Judges had no choice to do this when names like Michael Jackson and Palm Kernels were appearing on the list of voters.

Nevertheless we must not get into the habit of silencing the votes of some people no matter the situation.
Mimicry of the Mimiko case must not be allowed to happen again in any shape or form.

Our democracy is far from ideal and as Barack Obama said recently, sometimes we musnt let the perfect get in the way of the achievable….so I am toasting this victory for the rule of law.

Dr Mimiko appears to be a very smart and thorough man.
Let’s hope he exhibits the same levels of energy and tirelessness when it comes to the actual job of governing.

Ale o egin, wo kubo

The Curious Case of Ibinabo Fiberesima

Let us realise that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards Justice – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

In case you hadnt heard the story…..former Miss Nigeria and occasional actress, Ibinabo Fiberesima, killed a medical doctor, Dr Suraju Giwa along the Lekki Epe Expressway sometime in 2005.

It was alleged that Ibinabo was seriously drunk at the time the accident happened….. perhaps returning from a party with some female friends.

I don’t much care for Ms Fiberesima so I wont bother too much with her.

As it happened, the late doctor’s family along with the Lagos State Commissioner of Police successfully charged her to court for manslaughter.

The presiding Judge Magistrate A. O Isaacs, a Lagos State Chief Magistrate I, sitting at Igbosere Magistrate’s court stated that he was totally convinced that Ms Fiberesima was indeed guilty of the charges brought against her.
On the first charge of causing death by dangerous driving, Mr Isaacs found her guilty and sentenced her to 7 years in prison. 
On the second charge of reckless driving, he sentenced her to 2 years in prison.

Then he went absolutely mental.

Mr Isaacs, in one of the most stupefying acts of judicial recklessness you’ll ever hear of, then decided to give Ms Fiberesima an option of a fine…of N100,000.

For my readers in America, that’s the bank breaking sum of $578.
Or here in blighty, something like £400.
Or 900 Australian Dollars…..and so on.

Ms Fiberesima, perhaps not quite believing her luck, was said to have paid the fine immediately.
I don’t believe anybody will like to go to jail so I have nothing against her for doing anything in her power to avoid prison.

The fact remains that the Nigerian Law should be more powerful than Ms Fiberesima or anybody else for that matter.

The role of a judge or magistrate is to interprete the laws of the land and apply said laws accordingly.
He has no right whatsoever to set aside the law he is paid to interprete and give his own contrived definition.

Like any other country, Nigerian law does NOT give an option of a fine for a manslaughter conviction especially one that arose from a charge of dangerous and reckless driving.
[She was convicted under Section 28 of the Road Traffic Law. Cap RIO Laws of Lagos State 2003…..this law is clear that the sentence does NOT carry an option of a fine]

My biggest fear for the Nigerian state is not corruption in high places.
It’s corruption among ordinary Nigerians…the mekunu…..the talakawas.
This cancer has spread so far, so wide for so long unchecked that it now looms large over us as a seemingly intractable problem.

When a magistrate can decide to impose a fine of N100k for the premature termination of a person’s life by dangerous driving, there is something seriously with us as a society.
How did Mr Isaacs manage to sleep at night after that judgement?

For people who are powerless against a societal system set up against them, the court ought to be their last refuge.
I understand that the late Dr’s family decided to go to court when Ms Fiberesima behaved very non-challantly against them after the accident.

So their child/son was taken away from them prematurely and the perpetrator was perhaps not forthcoming with any kind of compensation and perhaps even remorse.
Surely they must have recourse to justice as their last hope?
How must they have felt when the judge delivered his judgement and they saw Ms Fiberesima walk away after paying her fine?

But all hope is not lost for Nigeria.

As Dr King said, the ultimate destination of the universe’s moral arc is towards justice.
The Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Olasupo Sasore [SAN] , appealed Mr Isaacs decision at the Lagos High Court and Justice Deborah Oluwayemi presiding sensibly set aside Mr Isaacs earlier judgement.
She has now sentenced Ms Fiberesima to 5 years imprisonment and also ruled that her fine not be returned to her.

She thoroughly put down Mr Isaacs judgement and called it the nonsense that it was in no uncertain terms.

It has taken 4 years but Justice has most certainly been done.

In a country where everything seems so hopeless I believe we ought to claim the small victories we get and build on them.
People like Mr Sasore, who appears to be a fine lawyer, give me cause to hope that Nigeria is not finished.
For even having the time and energy to resurrect this case….he deserves to be commended. 
So many cases like this go undetected everyday in Nigeria…where the little guy is cheated and left to lick his wounds.

He’s currently looking into the very sad and disturbing case of Modebayo Awosika  who was allegedly killed by policemen last September.
I wish him every success……a successful conviction of Bayo Awosika’s killers will strike a powerful blow against injustice and those who act as though they have the power of life and death in their hands.
He MUST succeed….it would be to our collective benefit as a nation that he does.

Evil and injustice will continue to have a field day in Nigeria as long as good men keep quiet and elect not to speak truth to power.

God help us.