Posted by News Express | 20 September 2014 | 4,742 times
Happenings of the last few days concerning the South African incident regarding purchase of security equipment by Nigeria were indeed very unfortunate, to say the least. Here is a nation that could afford its contractors to bypass laid-down procedures of international cash movement in order to maximise their profit. In fact, this has been happening in several commercial activities of Nigerian’s entrepreneurs to covertly or overtly avoid taxation. The case of Stella Oduah’s BMW waiver that was concealed in the importation of vehicles meant for sports festival in Lagos State is still fresh in the minds of Nigerians.
Another mind-boggling issue in that South African incident was the attempt to make Nigerians forget about its international dimension through localising the issue to internal politics. This is the greatest danger of it because in the American politics we claim to practise, their national interest is always put first before every other thing. We could remember how every American stood by their government in the wake of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2011. At that time, the concern of each American was how to manage the shock, the international disrepute against the American war-might and how to curtail future occurrences. At that time, the American flag was flying over every home, district, county and region; in solidarity for their motherland.
The case in Nigeria was different. As always, when the recent news broke that a passenger plane from Nigeria was impounded in South Africa on the alleged grounds of Customs violation in which a huge amount of money ($9.3 million) was carried into South Africa to purchase weapons for Nigeria without the necessary Customs checks and permission, the whole nation was trapped into deliberations; trying to figure out the Nigerians behind it and the possible complacency of government in the issue. This was aided and abated by desperate Nigerian politicians that are always eager to make issues even where none exist.
In the first instance, deliberate effort was made to expose the immaturity of Nigerian handlers on the way they left a group to leave its shores with such amount of money without informing the inbound nation. This kite was flown hoping that the usual denials from the Nigerian bureaucracy would sufice, so that it could be attacked from the usual angles. However, when the government owned up and gave a convincing explanation on the circumstance and submitted that it was a procedural error, a dead end was reached and therefore another angle was taken; to focus on the personalities associated with the vessel in question. So many negative comments were made in an attempt to tarnish the hard-earned reputation of His Eminence Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the current president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), to an extent that the likes of Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai were insinuating that the weapons to be purchased were to be used by the “CAN foot soldiers” among the Boko Haram insurgents.
Needless to join issues with cheap blackmailers, Nigerians should however know that the highly revered cleric in question, like any other Nigerian, has the right to hold residual interest in any legitimate business such as that of the aviation industry. This highly diverse preacher was eminently successful in establishing ventures that not only support his ministry and congregation (one of the largest in the world) but also extends his acumen to benefit numerous communities in Nigeria, Africa and globally. The most recent addition to Pastor Oritsejafor’s positive societal innovations was the founding of the Eagle Height University in the remote Obadina village in Delta State. We are sure that his spelt vision at the ground-breaking ceremony of providing a window for the Nigerian masses to university education was the motivation behind it.
The CAN President was supposed to be celebrated the more by allowing the jet donated to him by his ever-increasing sea of followers across the world to venture into income generation for the service of God and the common good of those that contributed to its purchase. Many are aware of his huge financial commitment to his ministry and followers worldwide. His eagerly awaited multi-million naira annual empowerment of the downtrodden at Christmas speaks volume about his kind heartedness and godly approach to wealth redistribution as epitomised by Jesus Christ. The cleric’s concept of poverty alleviation was accentuated through Eagle Height Community Bank that he founded and is using to touch the lives of indigent Nigerians that would have never enjoyed bank facilities.The resources used were all from his wisdom of maximising prosperity to serve God. His Eminence’s resolve to run away from the luxury of having a private jet for his exclusive use is therefore part of his personal conviction in self denial for the benefit of all!
There are however some traits being exhibited by Pastor Ayo that are not popular among some Nigerians. His “undiplomatic” criticism of evil; unmindful of whose ox is gored makes him highly detestful to certain elements in the Nigerian society. His unapologetic belief in the Nigeria project had made skeptics to see him as an aberration. The Pastor’s belief in governance as a collective responsibility on all citizens made him to be seen as a staunch Gejite by the opposition; hence the need to smear his reputation and pull him down from the coveted God’s elevation.
These and many similar reasons made a little few self-serving elements to over-blow the South African incident and frantically made the futile effort to link the religious luminary to a scandal that never existed. Still, when the Nigerian government came out with genuine documents proving that it was one of its security agencies that ordered for the operational hardware, a deliberate attempt is being made now to question the route of the purchase. We are sure that if that line of argument is also blocked and frustrated by genuine reasons and concrete evidence, the next angle could be to start insinuations about the cost of the equipment or its budgetary approval and the rest of such menial issues in the wake of the gigantic security challenge facing Nigeria amid several international conspiracies to pull down our cherished sovereignty.
It is important to remind Nigerians that, of recent, there were complaints from the Nigerian armed personnel fighting the insurgents in the North-East of lack of sophisticated weapons to match the firepower of the insurgents. In order to meet this desperate need, Nigeria has made several unsuccessful attempts to procure military hardware from its usual source and using the normal routes, however, these attempts were repeatedly sabotaged by the world superpowers on some contemptible excuses of global policing against human rights abuses wrongly associated with our troops in the fight against the insurgents.
Due to war exigencies, it has been the global practice to engage reputable companies to fast-track the procurement of military/security hardware for countries at war. That was what Nigeria evoked in engaging the services Messrs Tier One Services Group to handle the financial transaction to procure the military/security hardware from Messrs EID International Group Ltd. All these were made in order to raise Nigeria’s arms stock and give our military comparable advantage in fighting insurgence. Unfortunately, Messrs Tier One Services Group Ltd. attempted to sideline the required South African currency declaration in perhaps the usual characteristics of commercial ventures to evade taxation; which consequently caused the uproar. In fact, if not for that snag, Nigerians would never have heard of the issue; as it always happens in countries at war. The only difference that would have been noticed is the increased efficiency of our troops in fighting the insurgents.
Instead of Nigerians to be mobilised to note with admiration the extent of their federal government in ensuring their safety, as well as the security of our sovereign nation, some politicians have resorted to cheap blackmail, and also allowed themselves knowingly to be used by those countries that have been predicting doom for Nigeria. Nigerians must begin to cross check actions of the USA and even the South African government. We are aware of how the former was uncooperative with Nigeria in the Henry Okar legal case; the way and manner they allowed interested parties to interfere in the case was unfortunate to say the least. As for the USA, their doom prediction on the future of Nigeria shall never come true.
Nigerians are resilient and shall overcome the current difficulty. Similarly, the double standard with which the USA relates with Nigeria’s leadership in the fight against terrorism is indeed repugnant. The USA should respect our country and government. We need them to appreciate the uncommon/unusual circumstances in which we find ourselves.
In these trying moments of Nigeria, what is expected of every citizen is to double our patriotism and rally round our leadership devoid of political affiliations and other sentiments being promoted by politicians and other unscrupulous elements.
•Prof. Mohammed Al-Amin, Chairman, Nature Trust International, Kaduna, can be reached via
prof.Amin@ymail.com. Photo shows Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.
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