Why should we not speak ill of the dead? – and more, in today’s news round-up with Cheta Nwanze

by Cheta Nwanze

Yesterday, the President took to the podium to ask us as a people to shun preachers of religious and ethnic division. “Whatever may be our differences; religious, ethnic or personal, Nigeria is more important. We must be united in rising above our differences and promoting values that bind us together,” the Prez told us according to this report. True words from Mr. Prez, very true. However, the question that arises from that is, “How easy is it for people to think of unity, when all the indicators in front of them point to a failing project?”

You see, for people in Northern Nigeria, the failure of the Nigerian state is very real. The economy in that portion of our land has virtually shut down, due to years of neglect by the region’s leaders. One of such leaders is lamenting the effects of that failure to the pages of a newspaper. You see, when people’s livelihoods are taken away, then crackpots who promise whatever solution, will get listeners. So it is no surprise that Boko Haram is getting sympathisers given that our Senators prefer to order their cars from KwaZulu-Natal, and as a knock on effect, shut down PAN in Kaduna. Recommended reading would be Joachim Fest’s Adolf Hitler. Truth is this: that monster came to power in Germany simply because the economy of the Weimar Republic collapsed. The lesson for us there is that we MUST be careful in handling our economic collapse, obvious in the North today, small signs showing in the South as I type this…

…But one of the problems that we have in this country is the penchant for our leaders to fiddle while the environment burns. Thus it was that the National Assembly yesterday discovered that the NNPC spent an excess of N48 billions in 2012.

N48 billions!

The Senate committee found a lot of discrepancies in the company’s accounts, and that word “vague” which has been used to describe this firm again and again cropped up in yesterday’s discourse. Added to that, the legislators also uncovered an egg nest that the company kept away from the books. Reacting to questions posed to him about the extra N48 billions, and the egg nest, NNPC planner-in-chief, Tim Okon said, “The NNPC is a running business and it has reserves and we got the money from the reserves.” Wow! Some business this is. Now let’s see, this business doesn’t pay taxes, expects preferential treatment, runs its accounts as the personal piggy bank for whosoever happens to be in office at the time, makes use of state resources, etc. Some business this is. What one wonders then, is why some senators are moving against the PIB. Although I don’t agree with a lot of specifics in the current form of the PIB, that thing needs to be amended and passed yesterday.

Speaking of abuse of state resources, the Senate has complained about the abuse of military aircraft by civilian officials. Which brings me to a story that I have to tell. After yesterday’s newsletter, I got a call from someone who was in Bayelsa. She stated that contrary to what we media types are bandying around, the helicopter which was involved in Saturday’s drama did not make 15 trips. According to her, it brought a Rear Admiral for the event, and he was promptly “bullied” by the people who perished later on. What she had the grace to admit is that that bullying should not have happened. In her view that is a severe breach of protocol. Enough of the story now, what we must ask as a people is how a naval training helicopter got round to being used for a distinctly non-naval event. When you consider that General Kip Ward, the former head of AFRICOM was at the very least reprimanded for misusing travel privileges, then you realise that such indiscipline SHOULD NOT have been allowed to creep into our military. That helicopter had no business whatsoever being where it was.

Regarding the brouhaha that is happening on the internet about “not speaking ill of the dead”, I think that is one of the problems we have in Nigeria. If a man committed a few misdemeanours, why can we not speak of them alive or dead? Truth remains that God-rest-his-soul, the late General Azazi was at the very least implicated in the sale of weapons to militants. He was never found guilty, but then again, no inquiry was ever set up. That question will have to be answered some day, not swept under a rug because the man is no longer n the mortal coil. Come on, what next will we hear? Don’t speak about Hitler because he is dead?

Bits and bobs

In a time of increasing discontent over the cost of generator repairs, we are being told that our power generation is now at an all time high. Maybe it is true, afterall, I did not take a thermometer to Egbin, but I know that my generator had to be serviced just last week, and unlike the situation a few months ago, these days, I hear the sound of generators every night.

The National Assembly, rumoured delays in their allowances on their minds, have rejected the $75 benchmark for crude oil which was initially mooted for our 2013 budget. Problem is that even the $75 they picked might be a fail as oil sales will fall in 2013.

On Sunday, June 3, some people were relaxing in their houses in the Iju Ishaga area of Lagos, when a plane fell from the sky and onto their heads. Most of the hullabaloo that followed was all about the 153 or so people who were actually on the plane. Those on the ground, like their suburb, have been forgotten.

The Nigerian Army conductors have finally stopped the pained renditions of “Silent Night”. Nearly a week after she was released unharmed, the unfortunate geezers who were picked up on suspicion of kidnapping Mummy Okonjo have regained their freedom.

We won’t be hearing any more about the failing health of the Enugu state governor. Ozioma Ubabukoh, the reporter who has been covering it for The Punch has had his laptop seized for talking too much. Time for me to go and do that back-up.

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