Every now and then, Nigerians love to indulge their tickly ears and rich imaginations. Probably on account of the sheer dramatics of our politics – sometimes featuring dancing and tree-climbing senators, and eternally thieving politicians – we latch onto any and every wild accusation of our politicians, and bandy them about with all sense of seriousness, even when such accusations are likely to come to nought. It is this mindset that birthed, and has continued to fuel President Muhammadu Buhari’s no-WAEC Certificate saga. It is surprising that the matter of this certificate, supposedly issued or not issued many decades ago, dominated much of the public space not only prior to the 2015 presidential election, but also before the 2019 election. It is also one of the grounds on which Buhari’s election is being challenged by his main challenger – Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). There is also the issue of the cloning of the President following an illness which kept him out of the country for some months after his election in 2015. Later, “news” emerged of his death, his “brain deadness”, and eventually his “cloning” by some foreign medical institutions.
Now, with the apparent interest of the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s strongman, Bola Tinubu, in the 2023 presidential race, it is not surprising that some people have again latched onto the issue of the bullion vans that were reported to have been seen driving into his compound a day to the presidential election that gave Buhari a second term in office. The Tinubu bullion vans controversy came back to national limelight following the challenge thrown by an activist, Segun Awosanya, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe the contents of the bullion vans that were driven into Tinubu’s Bourdillon residence on the day in question, some six months ago.
A self-righteous EFCC thumped up its nose at Awosanya, calling for a formal petition against Tinubu. Some other activists, however, took up the gauntlet and fired a petition to the EFCC entitled “Petition to Investigate the Source of Money Conveyed in bullion vans to the home of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on the eve of the 2019 Presidential election.” However, armed EFCC security agents were reported to have manhandled the journalists who came to cover the submission of the petition and were addressed by the activists along the road to the EFCC office. It is unfortunate that the EFCC agents manhandled the journalists. It was clearly unnecessary as the petition of the activists can well be regarded as –DOA — Dead on Arrival, if not BID – Brought in Dead. This is because the petition that was brought in some six months after the bullion vans incident is unlikely to achieve anything. It will likely end up as yet another Nigerian tale, told by an idiot, ultimately signifying nothing. For one, the driving of a bullion van into any private residence is unlikely to amount to any offence under Nigeria’s laws. For another, the contents of the said bullion vans cannot be said to be known. Their contents border only on a speculation that would be difficult to unravel now, six months after the incident.
Moreover, there will hardly be any political will to investigate the matter, seeing that the election in question produced the incumbent president. Indeed, but for the fact that Tinubu himself virtually suggested that the bullion vans contained money, by his response to the reporters who asked him about the vans, there is nothing to indicate that any money was moved into his home through the vehicles. Moreover, if we are to be factual, elections can hardly be held without money on the D-Day, as party polling agents have to be mobilised to thousands of polling booths on election day. The agents will also be paid and, with our highly monetized polity and poor embrace of cashless transactions, it is hardly strange that party leaders, from any serious party, would have to be involved in cash transactions.
It is for this reason that our electoral laws make a provision to limit the amount of money that could be spent on elections by political parties. If money was not absolutely required, our laws would have absolutely outlawed such expenditure of huge funds by political parties. This unsavoury situation has been further worsened by the non-electronic nature of our electoral process. If our entire electoral process was automated, as it is in many developed countries, there would be no need for party agents to be swarming all over polling units, eagerly watching the voting process, and expecting to be paid. In any case, the attitude of the EFCC to the entire bullion vans saga is illuminating enough. This is sure to be another wild goose chase by our pro-democracy activists. Barring a decision from the “cabal at the top” to cut Tinubu down to size for having his eyes on the 2023 Presidential contest, this latest petition cannot prosper in its assignment. As some will put it: it is as dead as a dodo.
This is more so as Tinubu is not in custody of any public funds and no such funds have been reported missing. This investigation may end up a wild goose chase.
The Kano child abductions
FOR sure time now, there has been hoopla over the recovery of nine children from Onitsha, Anambra, who were allegedly abducted from Kano, the Kano state capital. The children had apparently been stolen by a ring of kidnappers and child sellers who had, for some years, made Kano their hunting ground for stealing children who were then sold to interested persons in Onitsha, Anambra state.
This child selling saga is heinous, wicked and unacceptable. It is horrible that the syndicate is unmindful of the great sorrow they visited on the parents and families of the stolen children, while they made huge sums of money from the nefarious trade. Child stealing and selling, under any guise, is despicable. It is a reprehensible crime that should not be tolerated in any society.The idea of selling children speaks a lot to the debasement of values in the country. That children have becomes items of sale like articles in the market says so many things about Nigerians as a people. Since, this crime was bursted recently and the children were reunited with their families, so much has been said on the seeming silence of many people on the crime. This is not so much because the lives of the Hausa children who were turned to Igbos in the Eastern part of the country do not matter like that of Ese Oruru, whose abduction by her Hausa lover some years ago, generated an uproar in the country when it happened.
The difference between the two cases is that the Ese saga was an ongoing case, with widespread calls for justice for her and her family, while in the case of the Kano 9, our gallant police had already resolved the case and returned the children to their parents. What is left, therefore, is to ask that the kidnappers be speedily bought to book.
Let the police be careful to ensure a diligent prosecution of the culprits. Their cases should be used to send a lesson to all other criminals trading in children in the country. It should no longer be business as usual with child stealers in the country. Let there be a diligent handling of the case and the speedy conviction and punishment of the offenders.