By Abdu Rafiu
It is ever so enheartening reading about Nigerians making waves in the Western world. It is spirit uplifting in the midst of cheerless reports assailing the mind unceasingly. What does one make, for example, of the briefing by the Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, on Tuesday in which he said no fewer than 220 persons were killed in his state within the first 17 days of this year? These were made up of 165 civilians, 25 security men, and 30 vigilantes. He spoke of levies and ransoms certain communities in the state pay to bandits. The ransom, he said, is used by the bandits to buy weapons thus increasing the stock of their armoury. They go back to collect more ransom and still kill their victims. Within the period—January 1 and January 17– the state recorded 50 attacks in which about 300 communities were invaded and lives were lost, the governor said to the Press. Three Chinese were abducted.
He tried to raise hope following the directive from the President on Sunday to the military to respond “robustly” to the cases of killings and kidnappings in Niger State and to give effect to the strategic objectives through the use of force. “Hopefully”, Bello said, “in the next two weeks we will see some relief with regards to banditry.”
The appointment that appeared the most sensational and exciting was that of Kelechi Madu, more addressed as Kaycee Madu when in August 2020 he was made Minister of Justice and Solicitor –General of Alberta, Canada. The appointment ignited waves of applause and excitement across the informed circles in the land. The appointment was followed closely by that of Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo who was named by President Joe Biden as the White House Counsel in January, last year (2021). Others who made it to Biden Administration were Osareme Okolo, a Harvard graduate, Adewale Adeyemo and Enoh Titilayo Ebong. Okolo was appointed a member of COVID-19 Response Team while Adewale Adeyemo was appointed Deputy Treasury Secretary. Enoh Titilayo Ebong was made Director, United States Trade and Development Agency. Adeyemo had been President Barack Obama’s International Economic Adviser. Dr. Akinyemi Agbede of the Democratic Party is seeking to replace Vice President Kamala Harris in the US Senate. He had twice contested the California governorship office. He is a product of Baptist Academy, Obanikoro, Lagos; University of Lagos capping his educational pursuits with a doctorate degree in Mathematics from Cambridge University, United Kingdom. Madu had in April 2020 been appointed into the Executive Council of Alberta as the Minister of Municipal Affairs. It was from that office he was appointed Minister of Justice and Solicitor- General.
The appointments can’t but make the mind race to the election of seven Nigerian-born British citizens as Members of Parliament in Britain. They were Chinyelu Susan Onwurah; Fionna Onasanya; Chuka Umuana; Helen Grant; Abimbola Afolami; Kemi Badenoch whose maiden name is Kemi Adegoke and Kate Osamor. They spread between Labour and the Tory parties. Osamor is Labour MP for Edmonton. She was educated at the University of East London. Before going into politics she was on a magazine called Big Issue, and later worked at the National Health Service. She was noted for her campaign for greater representation of Black and Ethnic Minorities. What attracted a great deal of attention to her was her campaign to free women seeking asylum from detention, according to online publication, venturesafrica.com. Osamor served as a member of the party’s National Executive Committee. Helen Grant, a conservative Party MP, read law at the University of Hull.
Chuka Umuana is Labour MP for Streatham. He read law making 2:1 from the University of Manchester and had a Master’s degree from Nottingham Law School. He started out as a journalist making contribution to some major newspapers and was a regular face on televisions and a constant voice on radios.
Abimbola Afolami is a Conservative Member of Parliament representing Hitchin and Harpenden constituencies. He was educated at Eton and Oxford where he read law and was for years at HSBC, Britain’s largest bank, as senior executive, before venturing into politics. He developed interest and cut his teeth in politics as president of Oxford Student Union.
Kemi Badenoch is a member of parliamentary committees for transport as well as policing and crime; former Miss Adegoke has a degree in engineering from Sussex University. She is a Member of Parliament representing Saffron. She was a director at Spectator Magazine.
Much as we applaud their strides and moments of cheer they give to Nigerians, away from depressing state of affairs, it would appear some may not be sufficiently weary of the kind of testimonial they brandish before the world. My reservation about women steeling themselves in politics contrary to Nature’s design, (the Creators Will) for them is not in focus today! Take the case of Fiona Onasanya who was elected Labour Member of Parliament in 2017, representing Peterborough. Barely six weeks into office, she was issued a speeding ticket, and what was more she was accused of texting while driving. She denied being the one behind the wheel when her car was sighted moving at 41mph at Thorney, Cambridgeshire, a 30mph axis. BBC reported at the time that she lied to the police when she was issued a speeding ticket. She was jailed three months by the famous Old Bailey court. BBC said Fiona, 35, at the time, (three years ago) was the first sitting politician in about three decades to be jailed. Her brother was jailed 10 months after pleading guilty to the same charge.
Justice Stuart-Smith said to Fiona Onasanya: “You have not simply let yourself down; you have let down those who look to you for inspiration, your party, your profession and Parliament.”
According to an online publication, she had to resign her seat in Parliament, her name was struck off as solicitor in the United Kingdom and she was expelled from the Labour Party following the conviction.
It is hoped that the investigation into Mr. Kaycee Madu, the Minister of Justice and Solicitor-General, Alberta, Canada, will not sink him. As has been widely reported in both print and electronic media a few days ago, Mr. Madu was said to be using his phone while driving. He was parked by the police and issued a distracted driving ticket on 21 March, 2021. He paid the fine. The twist in the development is that he later made a call to Edmonton police chief, Mr. Dale McFee during which he raised the issue of the ticket, although the discussion was not to get the police chief to rescind the ticket. Opposition saw his behaviour as political interference in the work of the police. Consequently, the Premier of Alberta has asked him to step down temporarily pending the conclusion of the investigation into whether or not the discussion amounted to pressure on the police chief. Opposition said he had used his office to initiate conversation with the police chief and he must resign. The Premier, Jason Kenny, said he had conveyed to Madu his “profound disappointment in his decision to contact the Edmonton police chief after receiving a ticket for a traffic violation. It’s essential the independent administration of justice is maintained.
“I will appoint a respected independent investigator to review the relevant facts and to determine whether there was interference in the administration of justice in this case. In the interim period, I have asked Minister Madu to step back from his ministerial duties.”
Madu explaining and clarifying his position said he never asked that the ticket be dropped. “To be abundantly clear, at no point did I request that the ticket be rescinded. I would never do that. However, in that particular call, I regret raising the issue at all with the Edmonton police service chief, Mr. Dale McFee.” He spoke of his utmost respect for the men and women in uniform and for the “invaluable, often thankless role they perform.”
It must sound strange to Nigerians that a minister, indeed Minister of Justice and Solicitor General for that matter or a Senator is stopped by the police, how much more being issued a ticket for traffic violation. First, such a Minister would be chauffeur driven, and there would be a police aide sitting by the driver. All a senior public functionary need do is to flash light to the police or approach a check-point with full light for unhindered passage. The difference between Canada or Britain and Nigeria is that in the former, it is Rule of Law and not the Rule of Man. In the two cases, the Rule of Man mentality that is alien in most Western culture may have been in evidence. Both MP and Minister forgot that it is different strokes for different folks and in different climes.
Neither Canada nor the UK is Nigeria. I recall how many times in the mid-70s Princess Anne in her younger days was issued tickets for traffic rule violation. I pray that Kaycee Madu, the Canadian of our pride, is not a gonna at the end of the day.
Wike And Local Government Chairmen
I am following with keen interest Governor Nyesom Wike’s directive to local council chairmen to produce within 48 hours Nigerians in oil areas who are involved in illegal refinery of crude petroleum oil in their backyards. There are 23 local governments in the state. The Rivers State Governor has a handsome sum of N2 million reward for each local council chief who surrenders any local man involved in what scientists familiar with the business call fractional distillation of petroleum. Any chairman who fails to produce such “criminals” in his domain would be removed from office, the governor threatened them. I hope I heard the irrepressible governor correctly; a governor who does not suffer fools gladly! An action governor with a place in my heart. What with his VAT battle. His drive deserving of support is that everyone must live on earned income. It is what the Law of Nature requires of every human being. It is in effort and struggle that talents and abilities unfold. But an elected local government chairman being removed peremptorily by a governor? I wonder if he has heard about Seyi Makinde and Local Government Chairmen settled case in Oyo State. I am all ears, following with untrammeled interest. I would like to be kept posted of developments.