Friday, 18 September 2009

The Treachery of the Intellectuals

Dr. Sam Egwu is currently Nigeria's Minister of Education.

Federal universities are currently closed because the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has gone on strike over low salaries, among other issues.

As a result, the universities have been shut for 3 months, since the strike began in June.

Against this backdrop, Dr. Egwu decided to throw a 'lavish' party to celebrate that oh-so-special marital milestone, the silver jubilee.

Allegedly, he spent N120 million (about $800, 000 USD) on this party.

Before I pass judgment, let me introduce you, dear reader to Mr. Alan Duncan:

Alan Duncan was until the 7th of September David Cameron's shadow leader of the Commons. Mr. Duncan made his fortune working in the oil industry as an oil trader, before he decided to offer his services to the British public. Worth an estimated N540million, his basic take home salary as a member of parliament (MP) is N1.4 million a month, before his claims for expenses are even conjured up.

Recently, Mr. Duncan, MP, was caught on camera whining, at the height of the recession, that MPs "...have to live on rations and are treated like sh*t."

A few days later, he jetted off to enjoy a $16,000 USD luxury holiday with his partner on a secluded paradise island.

David Cameron promptly sacked him, relegating him to a lesser role as shadow junior justice minister with responsibility for prisons.

The End.

For the Minister of Education to have thrown a huge soiree while students languished at home, and lectures begged for their daily bread, was ill-advised, to put it mildly. It doesn't matter how much was spent, or where the money came from; it was not the smartest thing Dr. Egwu has ever done. In fact, it was almost callous in its insensitivity.

You sacrifice your privacy once you take that oath of public office; Dr. Egwu knows this! He served as Governor of Ebonyi State for eight years, so more than most he knows that public perception is public reality.

In fact, no explanation is required, as none would suffice. Apologise and be done with this infernal public relations disaster!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Truth According to Ose

I have found that the most difficult thing to say is the truth. It has a way of erecting seemingly insurmountable walls between where one is, and where one wants to be.

As humans, and especially as politicians, we fudge, fib, we lie, we colour, we embellish to get from point A to point B; to get money, sex, a job, food, admission into elite schools, tax benefits, to avoid hurting or disappointing someone, etc.

But the chain can be broken; the monkey on my back can be dislodged. I'm going to start telling painful truths, as I see, them, because I want to be different, because I want to make a difference. I just hope I don't torpedo my young political career.

So I'll start posting Truths According to Ose (Taos), and we’ll see where the rollercoaster takes us.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Sanusi the Cowboy (The Politically Correct Version)

The CBN Governor's new position is that the funds, not bailouts, were given as loans to the distressed banks. He rightly states that he is empowered (under Section 42.2) to give loans to banks that are unable to raise capital from any other source. This is the lender of last resort role the CBN plays.

In truth, however, the banks must approach the CBN for a loan. And as far as I can tell, this did not happen.

Being a lender of last resort basically means that you are in a position to lend money to an institution that is unable to raise credit from other sources. It is not a status exclusively reserved for central banks, so the suggestion that it carries with it a responsibility for compulsory, pre-emptive action is flawed.

For the CBN, being a lender of last resort simply means that the distressed bank has approached other banks or financial institutions, was unable to get credit, and is now approaching the CBN as a last resort. Simple, when you think about it, isn't it?

The clause that brings the CBN Act into play here is the one that specifies that the bank must be experiencing liquidity problems. When the CBN determines this, it is then empowered to lend money to the distressed bank if it chooses to do so, and under this clause it can set any interest rate, any repayment schedule, etc. What Sanusi is cunningly implying is that once a bank is in distress, the CBN can inject a loan even if no approach has been made by the distressed bank.

According to Sanusi, “the reinforcing provisions of Section 42 (2) of the CBN Act allows CBN to inject capital into any bank facing liquidity problems by way of loans and other accommodation facilities on terms it deems fit, notwithstanding the restrictions imposed by Sections 29 (1) and 34(d) of CBN Act."

That is a lie.

Only in Nigeria could it be suggested that a fund injection is the same as granting a loan.

What the Act actually says is that "The Bank may grant any bank which may be having liquidity problems."

The banks, since they haven't been nationalised, are still independent entities. So how can Sanusi claim that the CBN has the right to issue unsolicited loans to institutions it does not control? The CBN is empowered to replace bank executives, but no law ever gives the CBN direct control over the affairs of any bank, ever. Instead, the BOFIA states that if the CBN is not satisfied with a bank's current state, it may turn control of the bank over to the NDIC. Quoting section 42 of the CBN Act that says "the CBN may grant any bank" is a different kettle of fish from saying "the CBN can inject funds into distressed banks ".

The funny thing (not ha-ha funny, but sad-funny) is that the CBN is actually empowered under the BOFIA (section 33.2.b)to require a bank to undertake a certain course of action. All Sanusi had to do was instruct the banks to request for the loans. They would have had to comply.

It's a procedural error, and it's one that shouldn't be swept under the carpet.

The devil's in the details, when he's not fishing for souls (or fish).

But on a more positive note for Sanusi (the sun does shine on a dog's ass some days), he completely annihilated the members of the House of Representatives who invited him to the National Assembly for a question and answer session. How he manged to do this, with half-baked arguments, should be a source of concern to every Nigerian who expects proper representation from their legislators.

Saturday, 29 August 2009


“I had to hurt many in this time. However, I believe that the good fortune in which the entire nation is participating today must richly compensate every single one for what he had to give up dearly on his own part.”

- Adolf Hitler (1935)

Sausi Lamido Sanusi, if I was President of Nigeria, and you acted like this under my watch, I’d arrest you.

Not for diagnosing that the banking sector was in crisis, this was common knowledge. Not for proposing the injection of bailout funds into distressed banks, because the banks needed to be bailed out. Not even for exercising your powers as defined in the Band and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA), even though I feel a little discretion would have gone a longer way.

No, I’d arrest you for the incompetence you have spectacularly displayed so far in handling the events of the past weeks, and your even more spectacularly ridiculous statements.

I say this because you are not a cowboy, you are the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). One of the key roles you are required to play as the regulator of the financial sector is that of building and maintaining confidence.

Do you seriously mean to tell Nigerians that the only way you could handle this matter was to:

1. Go on the airwaves to announce that the sector is in danger of collapse;

2. Announce that you have sacked five Bank chiefs;

3. Further underline the gravity of the situation by grimly proclaiming that the possibility exists that more bank heads will fall because a few more banks are in distress;

4. Release an inaccurate list of debtors who own ‘non-performng loans’;

5. Initially tell Nigerians that the banks will be saved by the injection of funds and the new management teams, then state that more funds might be required, then go overseas to peddle these banks to foreigners like a street hawker?

Your actions, and the almost retarded manner in which they were executed, have caused unimaginable damage to the sector, no matter how hard your army of spin doctors and propagandists try to rebrand this fiasco.

How did you even manage to unilaterally appropriate and administer the N400 billion bailout? The National Assembly did not approve the intervention, and now they want to know (belatedly) who died and made you king. In fact, what calculations were done to arrive at the N400 billion figure in the first place, since the CBN has since admitted that the debt figures it acquired might currently be inaccurate because they are almost three months old?

I hear embarrassing stories of oil companies who took bank loans to execute GOVERNMENT contracts. The contracts have been executed, the Government has still not paid them, and their names are on the list.

And your romance with Madam EFCC is so sad it’s funny. Since when did defaulting on a loan become a criminal offence? If, as Madam EFCC claims, she is going after people who obtained the loans fraudulently, in whose court of law were these judgments of ‘fraudulence’ obtained. And furthermore, in this dispensation of the rule of law, how come the EFCC is still holding people who have gotten court orders that they be released immediately?

My friend, I want to believe that your intentions are noble but you’re ruining a good thing by acting like a bull in a crockery shop.

You remind me of Mallam El Rufai, exiled former Nigerian Minister, a man I used to admire (note the past tense). He had the same glint of mad genius in his eyes, and the same zeal and obsession towards the achievement of greatness. Slow down, take a deep breath, let history be your teacher. I want to believe you can be a great man; you don’t take a knife to your throat because you want to scratch an itch.

And don’t insult our sensibilities or play to the gallery by using the old “for the common good” argument. Hitler did, and look what happened to him and his noble cause.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the Central Bank of Nigeria, replying to the backlash that followed the publication of an outdated and inaccurate debtor list:

“The Central Bank of Nigeria regrets any inconvenience caused as a result of the typographical errors mentioned”


Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Welcome to Nigeria

This incident will be written from two perspectives; on the one hand I'll try to take responsibility for what I did, and on the other hand I'll try to (as kindly as I can) lampoon our ridiculous society.

Take 1, Scene 1:

My cousin and his black-American fiancée just came into the country from America, and I'm proudly showing them around Abuja:

"There are our tarred roads, solar-powered street lights, the National Assembly..."

All this while our American tourist is madly taking pictures like...a tourist.

Suddenly, we get pulled over at the National Assembly gate; security operatives confiscate the camera and show us where it is CLEARLY signed that photography is forbidden. I apologise because I failed to observe the postage-sized sign. Three hours later the photographs are deleted and we are allowed to leave.

Take 2, Scene 2:

My cousin and his black-American fiancée just came into the country from America, and I'm proudly showing them around Abuja: "There are our under-aged street hawkers, able-bodied beggars, high-tech speed bumps (an upgrade from conventional traffic lights at road intersections, mind), million-dollar mansions built by public officials earning hundred-dollar salaries, the National Assembly..."

All this while our American tourist is madly taking pictures like...a tourist.

Suddenly this white, German man in a Julius Berger truck runs us off the road in front of the National Assembly gate. As he makes to get away, I skillfully maneuver my car in front of his, and foil his escape.

He jumps out of his car, I jump out of mine. He starts beckoning security operatives over, I start vigourously abusing the idiot. He gets back into his car when I start to walk towards him. Now the road is completely blocked because, trust Nigerians, other drivers pull over to also abuse the German.

Mr. Berger tells an approaching policeman "Zey ver taking pictures" then zooms off.

“You saw what that Nazi tried to do, why did you let him leave?” I ask my Nigerian police officer.

"Na dem dey in charge of everything wey dey happen for inside Aso Rock; that na why e accost you."

Security HQ summons us, and we are told by well-mannered men in suits that tourists cannot take pictures of the White House, or of 10 Downing Street, so we must have known that we cannot take pictures of the National Assembly or the Villa.

When I counter that actually, you can take pictures of the White House, someone retorts:

“Well, in Nigeria, you cannot. Did you not see the signs on the road? It is a crime!”

Three hours later after endless phone calls and paperwork, the three (3) pictures are deleted, the camera returned, and we are warned NEVER to try this again, because next time we will be shown no mercy.

As we leave, one of our captors, a born-again pastor, tells my cousin's fiancée “I hope you enjoy your stay in Nigeria, it contains good people, and is a great nation.”

Apprehended by a German for taking pictures of my National Assembly, full of legislators and senators representing me...?


Only in Nigeria.


State Security people, I went online, and (shock! horror!!) found a couple of images of the Villa and National Assembly that have compromised our national security.

You need to shut the internet down!!!

Go! Go!! Go!!!

Saturday, 8 August 2009



I’m sure, somewhere down the line, we’ll run into each other. And yes, I know you are a powerful, powerful man. I like you, and I admire all you’ve managed to achieve.

Unfortunately, I have this habit of speaking my mind, so don’t take this personally; you’re still my second favorite business personality (after Bill Gates).

By now you must have guessed that this is about your new appointment.

My lawyer friends say you’ve done nothing wrong because there is no law prohibiting your assumption of office as the Nigerian Stock Exchange’s (NSE) President.

But you are the richest black man in Africa, and most of this wealth is held in companies listed on the NSE, over which you now preside. And a lot of your bitter rivals (companies and individuals) are also listed on the NSE, over which you now preside.

Forget the legal arguments and rationalizations over the figure-head nature of your job as NSE president. Forget the fact that as a cold, calculated business decision, it is a master-stroke that should give your competitors sleepless nights for as long as you hold tenure. Let’s not mention here even, the share-price manipulation scandal allegedly involving Eugene Anenih (God bless him), your one-time friend Otedola, and yourself which should ordinarily be reason enough for you to turn down this job.

I hope I’m not stating the obvious, but there’s a conflict of interest hidden somewhere in your acceptance of this appointment. If you look hard enough, I’m sure you’ll see it too.

I also understand the need sometimes to put on displays of power. You’ve done that, you’ve gotten elected. An even bigger display of character would be for you to now step down as President of the NSE.

Recently, Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple’s Board over growing conflict of interest issues: one such issue was Google’s decision to develop operating systems for computers, directly pitching it against Apple and Microsoft.

But that’s America; bully me for thinking their morals, ethics and principles should apply to us.