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President Buhari And The Resurrection Of Corruption In The Award Of Honorary Degrees In Nigerian Universities

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On Saturday, December 12, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari shocked the Nigeria’s academic community when he went to Kaduna State University, KASU and received an honorary doctorate degree (Honoris Causa) barely seven months after his inauguration.

 

On the surface of it, one would be tempted to ask: is the president being honoured for his records of yesteryears or is he being honoured for his performance in the last seven month? If it is for his past records, the natural question is why now and why by KASU? That university existed for over a decade, why didn’t they honour Muhammadu Buhari last year or five years ago? If the honour is as a result of his present assignment, what has he done this far to earn him a honoris causa? Isn’t it a case of moral corruption for a serving president, who has a lot of favours to dish out, accept to receive an undeserved honorary doctorate degree from a state university whose vice chancellor was, in the last six months, queried by the Visitor to the University about three times?

Is it the case that, after the KASU formula, that the president will not attend the convocation ceremony of any university unless that university include the president as one its recipients of honorary doctorate degree. How not, since over a dozen universities have held their convocation ceremonies since the coming of PMB to office and he attended none, it is therefore safe to assume that his failure to attend was because they have not honoured him with a degree. These include the University of Ibadan, University of Benin, Obafemi Awolowo University, Federal University Owerri, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, etc. And none of them received the respect of the presence of the president. Now that KASU has shown the way, any university that wants the president to attend its convocation should simply include the president in the list of the recipients of its honoris causa. They are sure to have the president coming in person to be decorated.

The question is where is the shock? The president action is shocking for three reasons. First, his receiving an honorary doctorate degree, from any Nigerian University, while holding and elected public office is immoral, illegal and a crass violation of the existing regulation guiding the award of honoris causa in Nigeria’s University System. Section 2.0 subsection (a) of the famous Keffi Declaration which was enacted on the 24th September, 2012 by the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) stated that:

“AVCNU member-universities hereby make it a policy not to honour with honorary degree anybody holding political office (elected or appointed) while such officers are still in service.”
President Buhari violated this rule and the president is an honourable man, apology to Shakespeare in his histo-drama book, Julius Caeser.
In 2012, worried by the spate of irregularities and the erosion of academic culture and university tradition especially in the indiscriminate award of honorary degrees in the university system, the vice chancellors of Nigeria’s federal, state and private universities met at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi and resolved, collectively, that the age-long best practices of university culture be restored and maintained. It was the case that politicians, public office holders and all manner of money-bags and favour-flaunters will be conniving with governing councils, vice chancellors or visitors to state universities all in the bid to cajole or hoodwink the university into awarding an undeserving honorary degree. It was so rampant that the credibility of any honoris causa by any Nigerian university was suspect. The Nigeria’s academic community was relieved when the Keffi Declaration on “Sustaining Academic Tradition in Nigerian Universities, Including Guidelines for the Award of Honorary Degrees” was made. It was even more refreshing seeing that all the federal universities, all the state universities and all the private universities at that time have signed the declaration.

But the action of President Buhari of accepting honoris causa, in complete violation of the Keffi Declaration, has done one of the greatest damages to the university system since the enactment of the declaration in 2012. The president has just killed the Keffi Declaration and therefore open the floodgate of irregularities and moral corruption in the award of honorary degrees. Will the president refuse to accept another honoris causas from other universities? No. All the remaining 140 universities will now line up with their ceremonial academic robes ready to decorate the president with honorary degrees. It will be a moral dilemma for the president to refuse to accept after receiving one from a sister-university. And not only that, the president cannot stop his cabinet members, other public officer holders, and including civil servants from haggling-and-bargaining to ‘buy’ honorary degrees and even stand on the same podium with the president to be decorated. The era of immoral impunity in the award of honoris causa has effectively returned. And it was declared open by the action of Mr President.

Second, and even more disturbing is the fact that Kaduna State University is not competent to award honorary doctorate degree to anybody. Information available on the National Universities Commission website indicates that there are only 22 out of 40 state universities with approval to run masters and PhD programs. KASU is not one them. How can you have an honorary doctorate graduands when you don’t have the regular program with regular students pursuing doctorate studies? More so, the Keffi Declaration, section 2.0 subsection (e) stated explicitly that:

“A university shall not award honorary degrees if it has not graduated any PhD or has no postgraduate school or program”
Because the president is an honourable man, I dare say that his idea of change is about changing the rule, it will be safe to say that he received a 419 degree that is not recognised by the NUC, a government institution under his watch.

The question is how many people graduated with PhDs at the 12th December convocation when President Buhari was decorated by KASU? Have KASU ever graduate a PhD since its establishment? When did they get the approval from the NUC to commence the PhD program? How could KASU award what it does not have? Why should NUC keep mute at this illegality and gross abuse of regulation? If the information they published in their website is correct, why should they allow KASU to award illegal honorary degree even to the resident of the Federation? It is amazing how politicians are always at the forefront of rubbishing our academic traditions and values.

It is very clear that the Visitor to KASU who is the Governor of Kaduna State is at the forefront of this manipulative scheme to rubbish the university system and smear the good name of the president of the country. Or why did he dissolved the governing council of the university simply because they allegedly drew his attention to the illegality and immorality of awarding honoris causa to a serving elected public officer? And the VC who was appointed by Governor Yakowa was rattled to his nerves with an array of queries to get him to accept political interference in the running of the university. How else, given the fact that section 2.0 subsection (c) of the Keffi Declaration states, in parts, that:

“…the award of honorary degree shall not be tied to wealth consideration or political alignment…”
Who will doubt that after sacking the governing council and sufficiently intimidating the vice chancellor of the university, the APC governor as the visitor to the university, is not bullying his way into forcing the university to award illegal degrees to an APC President and a business mogul exclusively for political and material reasons?

My third reason is even more scary. Is the Minister of Education so incompetent as not to draw the attention of the President to all these violations? Why wouldn’t the minister of education draw the attention of the president to the Keffi Declaration? And to the NUC guidelines on approved universities with graduate courses? Or better still shouldn’t the honourable minister make the moral common sense argument of not accepting a gift from an institution under ones superintendence? Or is it the case that the president, who ruled the country for over three months without ministers, is still living with that hang-over and is taking decisions without consulting the relevant ministers? If the minister of education is kept in the dark on the KASU honoris causa brouhaha, then our country is in trouble. It means the president will be relying on informal and unofficial (most of the time, misleading) suggestions to run the country. If the minister is in the picture and his opinion sought by the president and he misled the president into going to accept and illegal honorary degree, then some punitive action must be meted on the minister. If on the other hand, the minister was consulted and he advised the president against accepting the illegal degree and his advice was jettisoned by the president, then something is fundamental wrong – it means there is a crisis of confidence between the president and his ministers. And the earlier that crisis is resolved the better for our country.

It is important to note that PDP, in spite of its numerous ills had adhered to the Keffi Declaration. Former president Goodluck Jonathan, to his credit – (oh God, remembering PDP and Jonathan again) withstood all the pressures and declined many of such offers.

For me, President Muhammadu Buhari can still save the Keffi Declaration, save himself from further embarrassment and save the university system in this regard by doing two things: one, cause his handlers to issue a public statement returning the illegal and undeserved honorary degree back to the awarding university and stating his commitment to respect and protect the Keffi declaration; two, investigate and punish any persons that have hands in misleading him into this embarrassing misstep. Fighting corruption is not just about stolen wealth. It is about respect for regulations. It is about staying on the moral high-grounds. Over to you “Sai Mai Gaskiya.”

Dr. Mohammed Jibo Imran
Santa Clara County
City of San Jose, CA

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Nigerian Bank MD’s colluded with government officials to re-loot recovered Abacha loot – EFCC

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has accused commercial banks of colluding with government officials to re-loot recovered loot of the late dictator, Sani Abacha.

In December 2017, the Federal Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Switzerland on the return and monitoring of the $322 million Abacha loot.

The proceeds were intended for Conditional Cash Transfer under the Social Investment Programme which began in December 2016, under ex-president Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The looted funds were meant to provide N5,000 monthly stipends to the most vulnerable Nigerians across the country.

However, on Sunday, a spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, in a statement, said that the anti-graft agency opened investigations into other alleged financial malpractices from the ministry; involving the COVID-19 funds and the World Bank- assisted loan coordinated by the Humanitarian Ministry to assist poor Nigerians.

The EFCC said, “Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving COVID -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate. Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices. Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions. Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly. Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.’’

The commission also revealed that N32.7 billion and $445,000 had been recovered from both past and suspended officials of the humanitarian ministry.

It added that the commission initiated investigations into the affairs of the humanitarian ministry inviting former minister, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and her successor, Beta Edu, suspended by President Bola Tinubu in January for alleged abuse of office.

 

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EFCC recovers N32.7bn, $445,000, faults Betta Edu, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, Halima Shehu

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has faulted suspended Humanitarian Minister, Betta Edu, her predecessor, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and the Coordinator of the National Social Insurance Programmes Agency, Halima Shehu, while revealing that a combined total of N32.7bn and $445,000 has been recovered so far from ministry.

The commission made the development known on Sunday via its official X handle in response to rumours concerning the progress of its investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

The statement signed by the spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, read, “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the Humanitarian Ministry were invited by the Commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far.

“Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate. Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the Ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the Commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices. Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing Directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions. Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly.

Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.

“On the issue of the works of the Commission against Naira abuse, dollarization of the economy and the enforcement of all extant laws relating to them, the EFCC appreciates the avalanche of public awakening, support and involvement demonstrated so far. Increasingly, members of the public are drawing the attention of the Commission to video recording of abuse of the Naira by Nigerians from all walks of life. These gestures amply demonstrate rising consciousness of the public to the sanctity of our national currency and the need for collaborative engagement to sustain the tempo.

“To this end, the Commission will always investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the abuse of the Naira. Old videos being exhumed and flying around for the attention of the Commission are noted as the Commission is sensitive to the fact that its Special Task Force against Naira Abuse and Dollarization of the economy commenced operations on February 7, 2024. However, going forward, new videos of such infractions will be investigated and prosecuted.

At the moment, the Commission is investigating several celebrities involved in Naira abuse. Many of them have made useful statements to the Commission and many more have been invited by investigators working on the matter. The EFCC will not relent in its no-sacred-cow mode of operations and the public should be wary of running afoul of laws against the crime.”

 

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CAC Places First Bank Records On Caveat Over Litigation

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The Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, has placed the records of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings on caveat pending the resolution of the crisis rocking…

The Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, has placed the records of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings on caveat pending the resolution of the crisis rocking the board of the bank as a result of multiple court cases filed by aggrieved directors.

The crisis rocking the bank stemmed from protests by shareholders who were kicking against the bank’s internal governance and shareholding structure, as a result of which some of them have taken their grievances to the court.

One of such is the case of Olusegun Samuel Onagoruwa v. FBN Holdings Plc in Suit No. FHC/L/CP/1271/2022), which is challenging the capacity of the Board of Directors of FBN to appoint new persons to fill vacant slots.

Onagoruwa in his suit is seeking “an order setting aside, nullifying, annulling and/or quashing the appointments and approvals of Mr. Olusola Adeeyo, Mr. Viswanathan Shankar, Mrs. Remilekun Adetola, Mr. Anil Dua and Mrs. Fatima Ibrahim as Non-Executive Directors of First Bank of Nigeria Limited made on the 20th day of March, 2024, by FBN Holdings PLC during the pendency of this action and in defiance of the subsisting order of this Honourable Court made on the 15th day of July, 2022.”

The motion also seeks an order restraining the above-named non-executive directors from acting or taking any steps as non-executive directors of the bank.

The current court case follows similar four other cases pending at the Federal High Court in Lagos and Abuja challenging the internal governance of FBN Limited, in addition to existing court injunctions restraining the bank from holding the last two Annual General Meetings which the bank went ahead to hold.

In a new twist to the crisis, the Corporate Affairs Commission in a letter entitled.

“Re: notification of pendency of suit no. fhc/l/cp/1575/23 against FBN holdings plc, and subsisting interim orders of the Federal High Court made on the 9th day of August 2023 restraining FBN holdings plc from holding or proceeding with its annual general meeting purportedly held on the 13th day of August 2023”, weighed in on litigations threatening to tear the old generation bank apart.

Signed on behalf of the Registrar General of CAC by Chidimma Maureen Nwite, the Commission in a letter to lawyers to some of the parties in court against FBN Holdings said: “This is to inform you that the record of FBN Holdings PLC RC: 916455 has been placed on caveat pending the determination of Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1575/2023.”

A shareholder, Mr. Olalekan Babalola, said “it is imperative for the authorities to find a solution to this lingering crisis as Nigeria cannot afford another major bank’s collapse at this critical time

He called for urgent resolution of all court cases in the overall interest of depositors, shareholders and other stakeholders of the bank before further damage is done to the oldest Nigerian bank.

 

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