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Johannes Wojuola
Works at LOL! Magazine / LOL! TV
Attends Nigerian Law School
Lives in Abuja, Nigeria
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Facts are Sacred by Johannes Tobi Wojuoala

 “Comments are free, but facts are sacred”

When U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry spoke at a joint press conference with Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, he lauded President Buhari’s fight against terrorism and his successful efforts in curbing insurgency in Nigeria. He was speaking from facts.

Over the last ten months since President Buhari was sworn in as President, there has been a palpable change in stories that have emanated from the North Eastern part of our country. From daily bomb-blasts at market places, to attacks on places of worship; from Boko Haram making nervy claims to Nigerian territory and hoisting their disdainful flags to spite our sovereignty, to the kidnap of our young  promising boys and girls; from military commanders wining and dining in the capital city even during the heat of war, to our indefatigable  soldiers in the battlefront complaining of lack of bullets; from mothers and wives of our gallant forces protesting against poor welfare to their sons and husbands, to battalions fleeing at the sight of Boko Haram Hilux Trucks. These facts dominated the media space at some point in time. But they have changed.

A week ago, a soccer match was played in the heart of Borno State between the El Kanemi Warriors against the Shooting Stars of Ibadan. The last time the Warriors stepped out for a game on that turf was three years ago.

Over the past three years, Nigerians were scared to go to places of worship for fear of untimely bomb blasts or for fear of a random shooting from the vile Boko Haram sect. But today that fact has changed. In several communities around the North East, not only have Churches and Mosques been rebuilt, worship of the creator in His sanctuary has returned.

Indeed it became obvious at some point that Nigerians seemed to have lost empathy: the constant news headlines of attacks and bomb blasts, killings, shootings and kidnappings with figure counts in scores and hundreds left many affectionless. The question then was not about who died, but where the attack hit; the casualties were too many; keeping track was a chore; the dead became mere numbers.
But these facts are fast becoming past tense.

Only last weekend, the Army Chief, Lieutenant-General Buratai reopened the Damaturu-Biu Road that had been shut for over three years. This act has sparked a renaissance of socio-economic activities in that area.

In droves, families of the Buni Yadi Community, taking the now opened Damaturu-Biu route joyfully returned to clean up their homes and settle in. Most have begun setting back their businesses up, as economic activities have slowly returned to many other communities in the North East. The IDP Camps that once formed their temporary abodes are emptying. Hope for a return, once a figment, is now a tactile reality.

In the last six months, more than 200 top Boko Haram kingpins have been arrested; including many who matched the faces of those on the 100 Most Wanted Terrorists list released by the military.

Within a span of six weeks, over 11,000 Boko Haram abductees have been freed by the Nigerian Military as they comb and clear the labyrinthine forests and territories once occupied and held by the now degraded sect.

In Borno State, a week ago, the University of Maiduguri held a combined convocation ceremony for over 37,000 students – this grand ceremony, antithetical to the core of what Boko Haram stands for, has certainly left the now enervated sect to realize the change in facts.

Two, three years ago, not only the fear of a monumental attack on such a gathering would have disturbed the minds of the hosts, but the very likely low attendance that would have greeted the ceremony. A clear statement made by hosting the convocation can be gleaned as thus: we have been brought to our knees in the past, but we have risen, and even taller.

President Muhammadu Buhari has prosecuted the war against terrorism with a fierce determination and vigor that has birthed the a priori results we see today.

While, in truth, Boko Haram remain a threat, as also Al Qaeda, ISIS and every other doctrinal manifestation of terrorism, they have as of fact, been severely downgraded and decimated by the Nigerian Military since the coming in of this administration.

Nonetheless, we are only half way gone on this war. A lot, still has, and must be done. Only last week a Nigerian Military Commander suffered an ambush attack. The attack was successfully quelled, but it cost the life of one of our soldiers.

It signifies two things: the sect is still a menace; but, our Military is more powerful than ever to neutralize them. They can no longer launch monumental territory claiming attacks; they cannot assault and destroy municipal institutions and security outfits as they once could; they have now been relegated to the bushes of the Sambisa forest. But therein lies the onerous task our Military must achieve next: completely wiping the sect out from their caves and importantly returning life back to normalcy for the over one million internally displaced Nigerians in that region.

No doubt, Boko Haram – having lost the power to coalesce and pull formidable attack stunts - will now take to soft targets attacks, ambushes, suicide bombs, guerilla strikes and one-man warfare.  The resort to using young female suicide bombers – girls captured by them as their weapons – gives credence to their new survival tactics they have employed in this next phase of battle.

The mop-up and return to normalcy for the people of the North East will be a demanding and daunting one. The radical views of this terrorist group and the socio-economic propellers that fostered their growth are still potent.

The Military must improve on its information gathering and find the terrorists in their caves even before they attack.

The Government as a whole must do all that is needful for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation of the people of the North East – a move that has already been set in motion with evaluation and assessment reports underway. Soonest, we must see the fruition of these paperwork.

The minds of our brothers and sisters in this region have been defiled by the horrendous scenes of bloodshed and war. The trauma they now experience will be lifelong and bitter. The least we must do is to be compassionate and do all that is possible to bring them back to normalcy.

Even as the Nigerian Military soar in their feats; and the facts of history laud their efforts and victory, we must brace up for another phase of this journey: the total recovery of the people of the North East back to the status quo ante and even better.

Nevertheless, the facts as we knew them have changed. A lot of calm, life and sanity has returned to most parts of the North East. This we must applaud. And give ALL Glory to God.
 
Johannes Tobi Wojuola is a Lawyer
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Buhari, Orchestra Of “Noisemakers” And Good Music By Johannes Tobi Wojuola

A prime asset of any leader is a wily use of humour. It is that drop of ecstasy that quells the tension in a room. It is magical, and the progeny of its lack is a stern, colourless and joyless ambience. It is an added arrow to the quiver of communication skills of any speaker.

Ralph Emerson once said it is a luxury to be understood. But humour makes communication affordable. And only the extremely beggarly in joy cannot afford it.

Even the Holy Bible affirms the momentousness of humour in Proverbs 17 verse 22 where it says (ESV): “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

The political milieu is a tense dark atmosphere. And Nigerians who had to wait patiently for the announcement, inauguration and assignment of portfolios of Ministers can attest to how boiled the already heated polity was. Expectations from Nigerians for a magical Buhari wand effect to immediately cure decades of decadence; to cure decades of unstable power supply, to arrest and prosecute every single suspect of corruption from time immemorial till tomorrow, to revamp the East-West Road and the immediate construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge, basically: to correct – in five months – every anomaly that has been known to the face of mother Nigeria, brought more angst to the ambience.

The sacrifices that we must make to get CHANGE – and a sustainable one for that matter – is served in the currency of time and fed from the bowl of patience. But in times like this; when the currency of time is hoarded into quick history and patience exchanged for kvetching, a hue of comical relief becomes indispensable to douse tensions of magical expectations.

President Buhari is a man rarely gifted with this art of communication. Albeit the sad side of this sweet coin when tossed into the stagnant waters of the polity, is the sturdy, solid and unsentimental misinterpretation of his jokes that is oft offered by the shenanigans of mischief-makers.

Tunde O. Thompson is a veteran Nigerian journalist. He was imprisoned during the 1984 era of Buhari’s Military Rule under Decree No. 4 of 1984: “Protection of Public Officers from False Accusations.” He served his term of a year with his colleague, save his last weekend when he was ‘smuggled’ out in the night around 3am from the Maximum Security Prison, Kirikiri, Lagos, to pre-empt civil society groups’ plan to receive him at the gate of the prison.

When Mr. Thompson met then President-elect Buhari at the Defence House, on the 5th of May, 2015, a week after winning the 2015 elections, he was introduced in the light of his role during the campaign and significantly his being incarcerated during the Buhari 1984 era. The President-elect’s first response to the introduction was to ask him if he had finished serving his prison-time. The whole room burst into ice-breaking laughter. Mr. Thompson responded that he had just a day left to serve. President Buhari replied: “you would have to finish it now”. Laughter was let loose once more and the spirits of the attendees (who had endured long hours of waiting to have audience with the then president-elect) at the meeting tuned almost to a climax, as they cheered: “Thompson will have to spend the leftover day at Aso Rock.”

Humor is a necessary supplement in our communications diet. It is good spice to the soup of any conversation: an important art for qualitative communication. However, when President Buhari joshed about Ministers being ‘noisemakers’ those who were flaw-digging thought they had found a propagandistic jab to taunt him with. The shallow approach to his jocular was even adopted by a few media houses that made it the subject of debates. But I thank the ALMIGHTY that a significant majority enjoyed the comic relief necessary for that tide – the wait for Ministerial nominees.

The next phase was tossed to the Senate where the members have the constitutional prerogative to confirm the Ministerial [noisemaker] nominees sent in by the President. Catechisms followed the announcement of the list; from, Why this nominee? To, who is this nominee? Why not nominate that person? Wherefrom is the origin of this nominee? How come this nominee? And so on. Sadly, only a few touched on the pith of the matter: the nominees’ intellectual soundness, expertise, experience and capacity to deliver.

The Senate screening turned out to be an intellectual party: The likes of Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Amina Mohammed, Barr. James Ocholi, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), Remi Adeosun, Dr. Audu Ogbeh, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Gen. Danbazzau, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, Abubakar Malami – and the many others who were given the opportunity to showcase their wealth of intellect, and not asked almost immediately to bow-and-go – served lectures to the Senators for free. Posts from the social media were abundant, asking that the Senators be issued ‘Diploma Certificates’ for the lectures they had received free of charge.

The climax for most was the screening of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi who had become a victim of fraudulent petitions and a lousy whitepaper report from the quarters of his haters. Injustice did not reign; the truth was out of the bushel, and Rt. Hon. Amaechi was confirmed as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Rt. Hon. Amaechi made a rousing statement only a few can boldly assert: “I hate corruption … I have never taken any bribe in my life.” Only a handful can confidently affirm as he did on such a wide and distinguished platform as the Senate podium with millions of viewers on live-stream television.

In all of these, one thing was clear from the screening of the selected nominees: President Buhari had given us a list of QUALITY NOISEMAKERS!

And even though we could not attest to seeing nimbuses on the heads of the nominees, we surely did see stars!

WHO WILL MAKE THE LOUDEST NOISE?

The foundation to work has been laid and the bar finally set; portfolios have been assigned to each ‘noisemaker’ to change the tune of each Ministry and bring in ‘noise’ worth hearing from their arena in good time.

Two hours after the Ministers were sworn in, returning from an interview, I noticed ebullient smiles on the faces of workers in one of the elevators of the Radio Nigeria building, I couldn’t help but ask why; it was too obvious something was up. My answer was dished to me in euphoria: “Our Minister is around.” Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information had already resumed work at his Radio House (Ministry of Information) office less than two hours after his inauguration as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

I also stumbled on a Tweet with a photo from Egghead Odewale showing the new Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and the Minister for State for Solid Minerals, Abubakar Bawa Bwari in a meeting at the Ministry with its Permanent Secretary, Istifanus Futkur.

One thing is for sure: these Ministers would not be courtiers as HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Emir of Kano described past crop of Ministers. President Buhari has made it known that his Ministers would be given a leeway to achieve set goals and targets for optimal results. Their successes and failures are in their hands. And the consequence of the latter would surely be a red card. The President is not known to be a micro-manager, but certainly, there would be guidelines and frameworks for targeted results.

Nigerians want to see true and palpable change. These Ministerial noisemakers have already told and shown us they possess what it takes to deliver. But especially amidst pre-screening criticisms, the Ministers must beyond outstanding oratory, presentations and past glory, prove to Nigerians – once more – their worth and shame the rancorous critics.

I foresee competitions among the Ministers; where each tries to outshine the other. And for me, that is welcome.

CHANGE, President Buhari’s mantra is in the offing. Nigerians are eager; our currency of time is spent, but we yet have some to spare.

The new Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must, above their qualitative noisemaking, show qualitative works.

My prayer is that history will smile at these men and women when the pages of this epoch would be written.

Johannes Tobi Wojuola, Editor in Chief ofLOL! Magazine writes from Abuja
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YES! The President Can!

by Johannes Wojuola


The Nigerian Petroleum Sector accounts for over 80% of Nigeria’s revenue, consequently being the largest source of our economic dependence. President Buhari’s desire to oversee the affairs of the Petroleum Industry/Sector has seen a series of unfounded attacks on the President’s decision from both legal and moral viewpoints.

Nigeria cannot joke with this profound sector. On the other side, it is of significance to note the fact that the Petroleum sector accounts for over 60% of our revenue leakages.

It is lucent that the Nigerian Petroleum sector has been bereft of prudence and accountability. President Buhari’s consequent decision to put a special eye on this sector by personally overseeing the Ministry of Petroleum is in order.

I would not pretend or shelve beneath the carpet the moral and legal argots flying here and there giving credence to or castigating Mr. President’s decision.

It is important that I state here that, in fact, after President Buhari’s expertise in the Military sector, the next sector where the President is most proficient is in the Petroleum sector. Under Gen. Obasanjo’s military regime, Buhari served as the Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources – a similitude of what we have today as the Minister of Petroleum – from March 1976 to June 1978. He also helped in the establishment of the NNPC – where he was the Chairman in 1978 – and the Kaduna, New Port Harcourt and Warri refinery. He also supervised the laying of 3,000km of pipelines around Nigeria. He is credited for having laid the foundation for what we have as the Petrochemical Industry today.

President Buhari would bring his vast experience from the intimate working relationship he has had with the Petroleum sector’s management. And to boot, he would be bringing in his known virtues of integrity, prudence, honesty and honour to see to an effective management of this sector.

Would the President get any emoluments for the role? Obviously not. We must note that the President is the head of Nigeria’s executive and making sure this sector works is part and parcel of the job of the President. This is so whether there is a Minister or not.

I have seen a few hawk the simplistic argument that every Ministry must have a Minister, and even going to the length of supporting their point with the constitutional provision of Section 147 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. That is a wrong notion to hold. Whereas the proposition of this Section of the Constitution is such that the President must appoint Ministers who must be one from each State of the Federation – at least 36 Ministers – it is not in any effect providing to impel the President to designate to each Ministry a Minister. The prerogative of allocating Ministerial portfolios is solely vested in the President by the provisions of Section 5 (1) (a) and Section 148 (1):

Section 5 (1) (a)

“Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the executive powers of the Federation –

shall be vested in the President and may, subject as aforesaid and to the provisions of any law made by the National Assembly, be exercised by him directly or through the Vice-President and Ministers of the Government of the Federation or officers in the public service of the Federation …”
Section 148 (1)

“The President may, in his discretion, assign to the Vice-President or any Minister of the Government of the Federation responsibility for any business of the Government of the Federation, including the administration of any department of government.”

Summarily: the President may establish as many Ministries as he deems necessary – but not below the nethermost of 36 Ministries – assigning to each a Minister of his choice.

One of the most common issues that have arisen from President Buhari’s decision to oversee the Petroleum Ministry is bordered on the provisions of Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria as amended:

“The President shall not, during his tenure office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever”

Except for mischief, it is clear to the meticulous observer that the overseeing of the Ministry of Petroleum by the President does not in any way mean him taking another office or paid employment. The President is vested with ALL executive powers of the Federation by virtue of Section 5 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria as amended. The same Section provides that the exercise of the executive powers of the President may (at the President’s discretion) be exercised by Ministers, but in no way precludes the President from the exercise of his executive powers. The petroleum sector is a branch of the executive. And by virtue of this fact the President may decide to oversee this Ministry by himself – as he has so chosen.

This once venal Ministry must have a turn around. Its peculiar recent past that harbored high-level malfeasance and embarrassing pilferage of our nation’s commonwealth must experience CHANGE indeed. President Buhari has made it clear that he wants to make a difference in his administration; he wants to ensure that this sector which produces the largest part of our revenue works well. And where it does, it would be for the benefit of every Nigerian.

The recent constant supply of gas to our power thermal plants has led to a boost in electricity generation and supply. Availability of petroleum products generally without hustles, transparency being entrenched in a sector where the activities were hitherto clouded in opaqueness and mystery, is enough proof that President Buhari’s mantra of change is not mere verbalism. This is a good and welcome start. And with the President overseeing the sector, with an extra eye, things are surely headed for the better.

Johannes Wojuola, Lawyer and the Editor-in-Chief of LOL! Magazine writes from Abuja.
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Speed is Good, but Order is Better

 “Grain by grain, a loaf; stone by stone a castle”, says a Yugoslavian proverb.

Haile Gebrselassie is one of the word’s legends in marathon racing. Usain Bolt is the King of the legends of sprint racing – 100m and 200m dashes. Haile is good at sprint, so also Usain can make a good attempt at long distance running. But neither can be king in the other’s forte.

Why? Because marathon and sprint are two different kinds of races with different requirements for excelling in either. The short and quick trip of a sprint requires expending more energy and swift speed than the long, onerous and systematic race of a marathon.

Winning a sprint is about the velocity of the start and your reaction time. This is not the same for a marathon. Winning a marathon requires a systematic consistency in expending speed in pace and endurance through the long 20 kilometer plus race. You do not run the whole marathon; you strategically begin at a slower pace, to a fast pace – maintained and sustained over a period of time – and finally, win with a sprint.

Nigeria’s journey through change is a marathon and not a sprint.

In the third paragraph to the last of President Buhari’s October 1st address to Nigerians are pithy wise words that convey the secret to the marathoner's success: “Impatience is not a virtue. Order is more vital than speed.”

Getting Nigeria back on track – revitalizing a moribund economy perfidiously left in shambles; securing Nigerians from insurgents and common criminals; uprooting corruption from the many nooks and crannies it has made home – will not be achieved in the wink of an eye.

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka says, and aptly so: “The economic condition of the nation of the people does not deteriorate overnight … A prolonged and unchecked process of attrition which was neglected in the past is now knocking on the door.”

Fixing the mare’s nest that resulted from this prolonged attrition of our economy cannot be achieved in one fell swoop; hasty climbers have sudden falls mirrors Robert Greene.

President Buhari began his tenure in a cautious, careful and calculated fashion. Proving to understand the architecture of achieving sustainable development; through strategic fixes geared towards a common long term goal for the Nigerian project. His decisions and actions have clearly not been for the show and optics, but for first and foremost the betterment of the Nigerian people – in the long run.

One minute of patience, ten years of peace resonates a Greek proverb.

Mr. Buhari has since resumption of office picked pace, step by step; starting systematically with the revival of the EFCC for his anti-graft fight. Thus setting the foundation for any work he will seek to achieve in office. It resonates with the indispensable fact that corruption cannot subsist with any development agenda that any government may seek to put in place.

The full implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) set the ball rolling for all round accountability, consolidation of government revenue and in effect curbing the systemic corruption of government agencies in remitting revenue back to government purse.

The rejuvenation of our institutions bespeaks the reality of a system responding to the gradual process of change: all of a sudden, the EFCC sat up, so did the NCC and the CBN; the Custom Service had a revenue boost in its short period of changed leadership. As gradual and tardy as this change may seem, it is taking shape, form and setting the ground for soon coming results.

Even the Holy Book of the Bible notes in Isaiah 66 verse 8: “Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” Nigeria, like Zion, will indeed experience difficult times in the birthing of change, but it will be worth it at the end.

The moral imperative of patience must be summoned for the months to come.

Beyond the rhetoric and exuberance of transient hashtags reflecting an understandable desire from Nigerians for quick results and magic-wand change, President Buhari is laying a solid foundation for a robust, sustainable and revolutionary change agenda.

Diversification of the economy - through exploiting the potentials of the agriculture, power, mining, technology and manufacturing sectors - is President Buhari’s economic roadmap to solving our current economic downturn, occasioned by our fixated over-reliance on oil which forms over 80% of our earnings that has now dropped to a record low of below $40 per barrel.

Investments in these sectors will come from around the world. President Buhari’s trips to strategic events, countries and power states are well schemed to seeking critical assistance for this times.

Has every tactical move, piece by piece produced results? My answer is a resounding Yes!

The obvious, broad yet coherent foreign policy strategy bespoken of President Buhari’s travels have been geared towards: rebuilding rusted and cracking bridges; showing the new perspective of accountable, serious, virtuous and focused leadership Nigeria now has; boosting confidence and trust in foreign investors; and getting assistance to fulfill his agenda of fighting corruption, resuscitating the economy and securing the nation.

Evidently, each of his trips has sought to build relationships that foster partnerships for solutions to Nigeria’s current myriad of problems.

The foremost principle of international diplomacy is that no country should exist as an island on its own. It is more necessary than ever for Nigeria – in our dire and dicey mire – to hold hands even more tightly with our brothers in the international community as we seek their help to bringing solutions to the problems we face.

So far so good: Pledges of assistance secured; agreements signed; donations of military equipment received; intelligence shared; and moral support given are only a tip of the iceberg of the fruits of these trips in the offing.

For Nigeria: globalization and strengthened international relations at this time has the potentials for increased flow of trade, investment and technology – and that means, more jobs and improved living standards.

Let us look two, three steps ahead of every action of Mr. President – beyond sentiments; beyond the political divisions we share; beyond the ephemeral bite of the economy – to the sustainable long term solutions these moves will bring for the betterment of the Nigerian people.

An oak is not felled at one stroke; so too, the job of fixing Nigeria is not going to happen at one legerdemain stroke.

President Buhari’s policies show one thing clear: that we are in the right direction. And their fruits will be borne in due time.

On our part, we as Nigerians must be patriotic, undeterredly hardworking, and patient. The wait will not be forever. The common denominator of all human activity that has produced sustainable and effective results is patience.

As we run this marathon of change with the fortitude typical of the Nigerian people, let us hold on to the wisdom of these words: You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.

 

Johannes Tobi Wojuola, Lawyer, Writer and Dispute Resolution Specialist, writes from Abuja
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Buhari's Anti-Graft Campaign and the Jurisprudence of Anti-corruption

By Johannes Tobi Wojuola

 

Oliver Wendel Holmes Jnr. is my most revered jurisprudential personage.  This sentiment may be founded on a filial judicial heritage or on my experiential understanding – yet a vestige of my filial heritage - that law is not law until it has been interpreted by the courts: a summarized reflection of the Realist School of Jurisprudence.

 

This school of thought propounds that there is no law, indeed, until it has been tested and subjected to the regurgitation of judicial processes and consequently molded into case law. It holds the position that while the legislature may make laws – as constitutionally they are empowered to do so – the onus of breathing life into these laws lie with the interpretative powers of the judiciary.

 

Indeed, the arduous task of defining what the law is – constitutional, criminal, civil, industrial and what have you – has been bestowed on the courts.

 

Oliver Wendel Holmes Jnr. thus expressed: “The prophecies of what the courts will do, in fact, and nothing more pretentious is what I mean by the law.” In other non-argotic words: the exegesis of the courts to matters brought before it is what, in fact, entails the law.

 

The core objective of law, through the judicial, legislative and executive corollary processes is justice. Justice is what is sought for when the common and even ‘un-common’ man come to drink of the waters from its fountains. It draws from the equitable maxim: that where there is a wrong, there must be a remedy.

 

And logically: where there is corruption, there must be a corresponding elixir. Insofar as Nigeria remains a country founded on the pillars of the rule of law – not self-help, jungle justice or the rule of man – the recourse to salvaging the morass disfiguration of our moral entity from corruption is housed in the courts.

 

The fight against corruption lays a heavy burden on the judiciary. And the courts are the linchpin of hope in this fight.

Undeniably, Nigerians watch on TV, and read on blogs and newspapers, the almost daily arrests and prosecution of persons who have been alleged to have milked dry our resources and committed heinous corrupt acts; but the question is, how far will these go?

One of the reasons President Buhari was elected into office was for his promise to fight corruption hinged on the goodwill of his personal characters of integrity, asceticism, and uprightness. And having been elected as Head of the Executive, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, he has chosen to lead from the front by imbuing as the philosophy of the Executive: That we will fight corruption till its extinction.

 

The Police Force, the EFCC, the ICPC and other prosecuting bodies have gotten the message clear and blunt. They have palpably known that the fight against corruption is not mere rhetoric or campaign chants. But a credo that they all must live by, and fulfill its mandate.

 

Notwithstanding, the bellwether of this fight cannot do it alone. Neither can he win it by a lone-wolf fight. The system of government evident in the mechanized checks and balances and separation of powers of the three branches of government must, arm in arm fight this fight as one.

 

There must be a consensus of philosophy of the three arms of government to fight corruption. Whereas the legislature, saddled with the onus of law-making, strives to play its part – even though I feel we have laws in abundance, both moribund and flourishing – more is in the hands of its two brothers for the day to day fight against corruption.

 

The 2015 enacted Administration of Criminal Justice Act easily sets the ball rolling for a more efficient criminal justice system; faster dispensation of justice and stronger protection of rights of actors in the criminal justice system. Pooled to the common target of achieving better access and dispensation of justice.

 

But the judiciary whose mandate to apply these laws to cases before them must not fulfill same as a mere exercise of semantics – in the words of Professor Ben Nwabueze – but must be guided by the responsibility it has to society.

 

Lord Mansfield, a judge, a politician and one of the most erudite and powerful jurists in Britain of the 18th century noted that our courts are the “custos morum” – the guardians of our morals – and must protect society against offences “contra bonos mores” – that is offences that are harmful to society’s moral fabric.

 

The fulfillment of this responsibility will not come without a deliberate consciousness of an interpretative attitude and mindset towards the prosecution and punishment of moral wrongs such as corrupt practices.

 

This mindset must be formed on a pattern – like the convention the courts have shown in their inadvertent disinclination towards granting bail to armed robbery suspects – that sends a limpid message to Nigerians that there will be no Caesars’ wife anymore, and a definite sense of equity and remedy for wrong. Take for example, a practice direction that seeks to set a harsher sentencing policy on matters relating to corruption and criminal breach of trust.

 

The courts are the servants of the Legislature, the Executive, and most importantly, the Nigerian people. And this service must be geared towards restoring a trust in government, sanity of governance, reliability of the system, access to justice, and a resonance of the consequences of our actions.

One may ask; would the desire for this sort of team-work between the three arms of government not be a call for a perversion of the principles of separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution? Absolutely not. The anticipation of the separation of powers is such that each organ of government is independent of the coercion and influence of the other; this however does not preclude the fact that they must cooperate to achieve the common goal of fulfilling the purpose for the constitution. And that is to create a just (equitable and fair) society.

 

It is not in any way the anticipation of the Constitution that each organ of government would exist in water-tight compartments.

President Buhari’s fight against corruption – a determined, dogged, and fearless one – will be mere bark and prick if the judiciary does not give chase and bite to it.

 

Justice being the end objective of these processes rests in the oars of the judiciary. Its mindset and consequent decisions will reflect this. And importantly, the mindset revolution of the Nigerian people – in mores, attitudes and values – will be sparked by its decisions on corruption cases.

 

These decisions will set in the minds of Nigerians a sense of justice that will be the threshold for the moral revolution President Buhari’s change brings. This sense of justice can only be made tangible when Nigerians see that anyone who commits wrong is punished accordingly – and even in chastening manner – irrespective of class, background, political affiliation or whatever status; not only must justice be done, but it must be manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.

 

These are not the times of putsch. I reckon, if it were, the justice system will be set in flash motions by crude decrees that fail the indispensable and democratic test of our legislative and adversarial judicial processes.

 

Nonetheless, our entrenched system of separation of powers, as an alternative to the junta, in this moment in Nigeria’s epoch – that requires a re-evaluation and re-work of our moral compass – will require a consensus viewpoint of the three arms of government in the fight against corruption.

This consensus is the collective mandate to revive our national values of integrity, honesty, accountability and transparency.

Through the end product of justice that will be pronounced by the courts, all the branches of government will be heard to speak in unison: we will fight corruption with all the powers that the constitution has bestowed on us.

Johannes Tobi Wojuola, lawyer and writer, writes from Abuja
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Corruption will fight back

By Johannes Tobi Wojuola

 Nigeria’s former EFCC Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is renowned for his anti-corruption stance and fight. Though some may argue that his fight was one-sided or prejudiced, the a posteriori facts point clearly at the reality that indeed corruption was fought by the former Chairman – whether lopsided or not.
Mallam Ribadu stepped on a lot of toes – very big toes I mean; like those of the former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, Mohammed Babangida, son of former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, to mention a few. It was thus not a jaw-dropper when he was removed from office two weeks after the arrest of former Governor Chief James Ibori.

For a fact, Nuhu Ribadu best tells the tale of the fight against corruption, especially that he was once in the forefront of the battle. Experientially, he is known to have made this pithy quote: “When you fight corruption, it fights back.”

Corruption today has become animated in the lives of many Nigerians: It has become the norm and the accepted way of doing things. It has lost its pariah status. In its various manners and forms, it has eaten very deeply into the fabric of our nation: It has torpedoed our economy, made frail our morality, rendered inert our legislative houses, stung our judiciary and ridiculed our socio-political environment. But despite all these damage and desecration done, those who foster and benefit fatly from it have sworn to protect their sources of livelihood till gaol do they part - Corruption will surely fight back.

Nigerian institutions became the funnels for milking the resources from our Nation’s treasury and then were left to lean and suffer malnutrition, consequently: Dilapidated roads, caustic poverty, moth-eaten hospitals, run-down educational institutions, an enervated civil service, tumbledown airports, a weakened military – name it, rot, rot, rot, here and there! All mothered by the monstrous corruption and fed to size by the misrule of the erstwhile administration of the People’s Democratic Party.

The majority of Nigerians voted President Buhari to fix these; with the mantra of CHANGE hinged on his tripod message to fight corruption, to secure the nation and to rescue the economy. It is noteworthy that securing the nation and rescuing the economy are organic corollaries of the fight against corruption.

President Buhari in his perspicacity understood that to win the war against Boko Haram, the battle must be fought concomitantly with the fight against corruption. The #DasukiGate revelations buttress further this truism; if weapons and ammunitions for the Nigerian Military were indeed purchased as at when they should have with the funds that were appropriated for same, many a family in the North Eastern parts of Nigeria would still be one and at home today. But, corruption had its way. And disaster was served cold to innocent Nigerians and the gallant troops of our Army.

Contrast that with the status quo today, where the Nigerian Army has been able to decimate all known camps of the insurgents in the North Eastern parts; reclaim all towns that were under the control of the insurgents and continue to win day after day the war against Boko Haram. What makes the difference? Sanitization of Defence procurements; weapons and ammunition now made available to the soldiers; rejuvenation of their morale; and a determined leadership founded on integrity at the helm of affairs.

The monumental sleaze committed by the past administration is what President Buhari is fixing – nut by nut; screw by screw.

But the Gordian knot of corruption has begun to wriggle and to bark sham propaganda and telltale lies.

Without an iota of remorse or restitution, the PDP mouthpieces have not thought it wise to rinse the foul stench of sulfurous slime that oozes when they make their failed-on-delivery attempt to put a dent to President Buhari’s war on corruption.

Corruption will fight back.

One would have expected that after losing an election for the first time on the national scale due mostly to the highhanded corruption of its administration, the PDP would have taken a moral cleansing and purgation; welcoming the lens, sponge and soap of the new administration to search and cleanse the country of this cancer. But no, it chooses rather to throw darts of propaganda, sponsor interviews that were never held, and pay jackpot lobbyists to promote puerile lies in defiance.

Corruption will fight back.

One would have also expected a sincere apology from the PDP for their atrocities in government, gross mismanagement of the country and the consequent loss of the lives of thousands of Nigerians in the North Eastern parts. But rather they choose to jubilate at the faintest sounds of gunshots in Maiduguri: “Pres. Buhari is failing, we told you so.”

Dr. Dipo Awojide in a Tweet said: “A war declared on corruption is not a war declared on the PDP.” Fair and fact this is. An addendum is that the anti-graft campaign cannot be dissociated from the handlers of the past administration, which single-handedly institutionalized the looting of our nation’s treasury. Looting was their source of livelihood, their culture, their attitude, their attraction and no doubt, their policy.

The fight against corruption will indeed be a tough one. Bulls once tagged sacred are being gored. The perpetrators of the heinous pillage of our nation’s resources are desperate not to go down without a fight. And this is not unexpected.

But President Buhari is up to the task and will surely have no stone unturned as he restores sanity back to our system. The war to rid our nation off corruption must be won; for the betterment of all.

My sincere prayer is that the God that rescued Nigeria from the infamy of the past administration will save us from its vestigial arms of corruption.

Be you apolitical, APC, APGA, PDP or KOWA, please say Amen. Amen.

 

Johannes Tobi Wojuola is a  lawyer and writes from Abuja
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Good friends are like food, work and other demands can starve us of them, but in truth, we can't do without them. #Love
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Why this year's Independence Day calls for celebrations

by Johannes Tobi Wojuola

Independence Day all over the world is celebrated with an insightful reflection on a country’s political, social and economic liberation from the control of another country. It is a celebration of a newness and at every year which it is marked, it calls for a check on the calendar and diary to inquire; so far, how far?

Speeches, ceremonies, fireworks, parties, prayer services, sermons, picnics, carnivals and rallies would oft be held – all purposely or flippantly celebrating the history, government, economy and taking stock of the journey so far.

Independence Day is a similitude of a person’s birthday: it signifies the birth of a sovereign entity, the coming to being of a nation-state out of a hitherto chrysalis state. And most often, the labour that precedes the birth of a nation state comes with a struggle – bloody in some unfortunate case; tough, rough and a fray in others. On whichever road the birth came through, liberation calls for celebration.

But Nigeria’s independence may not mean a big deal to many Nigerians, save the fact that it remains a cherished holiday that liberates the middle-class and civil servants from the shackles of work and sundry demands. Its significance has been downplayed; with little or no patriotic patronage for this day which happens to be the precursor of almost everything that we hold dear in the sacrosanct entity of the nation of Nigeria today.

Nigeria gained its independence from its colonial masters – Britain – fifty-five years ago, amidst prospects – notwithstanding disagreements that reared their heads among the then regional leaders as to when was “practicable” for a date of independence. Today, that is history. Since that historic event of October 1st 1960, our prospects have been better told than seen: we have danced to the tune of different leaders who set out their agendas that were best seen on paper than known in reality; we have been the victims of civil strife and internal animosities; the state of the nation has been threatened by interests – justly and unconscionably - of persons who have felt dissatisfied by the nation’s treatment of their interests.

From civilian rule to military rule, and to civil rule, and back to military rule, the helm of our nation’s leadership has vacillated from here to there before fate brought us to the threshold of civilian rule which we have been married to for the past 16 years. The expectations of the rebirth of a democratic era that took place on May 29, 1999 were high. It was the third time since independence that we were going to taste the fruits of democracy.

Nigerians and even the whole world envisioned in this rebirth the herald of a bright future for the country, one that would throw us into the comity of the world’s leading economies; the re-attainment of our axiomatic role as a centric power bloc in Africa and a major player in world politics. That election saw the emergence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo returned as President of Nigeria, who ruled for eight years under the umbrella of the People’s Democratic Party. The late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua was elected President thereafter but died two years into his tenure and was unfortunate not to see to the actualization of his 7 Point Agenda for Nigeria, leaving behind his Deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who was thereafter elected in 2011 as Nigeria’s President promising Nigerian’s a breath of fresh air.

Dr. Goodluck Jonathan eventually lost to Nigeria’s current President, Muhammadu Buhari, in the keenly contested battle of CHANGE and CONTINUITY of the 2015 elections after it seemed that former President Goodluck Jonathan had failed to deliver on his promises of fresh air; and to stem the insurgency in the North East and after corruption had been more honoured in its elevation than it had suffered in its abasement.

Like I noted in my letter to President Muhammadu Buhari penned at the fore of the election victory, Nigerians voted him as a ‘messiah to rescue us … [from] the monstrous corruption whose distasteful bite on our system has brought our economy and social fabric to a hemorrhage’; to revive a dwindling economy, to provide security of lives and property, to vivify our rusty international relations, to plug leaking revenues, to fix up the frail transport and education sectors, among others.

The vote of confidence bestowed on President Buhari was premised on his known stand and unalloyed position on corruption, and as we have come to appreciate it: the formidable and hardboiled body language of Mr. President. The question may then arise, what makes our 55th Independence celebration – the 16th since our last taste of military rule – different and more auspicious than ever? With a new rider on the saddle, would this be just another October 1st celebration where Nigerians would cluster in their numbers to party without appreciation of the cause; while working class professionals would see it as another day off to rest from work pressures?

The hope that was fostered in Nigeria on the 29th of May 2015 provides a non placet answer to the above questions! And the strides of Mr. President since the 29th of May further strengthen the avouchment of President Buhari as a man set on a mission to give significance to October 1st to Nigerians: that the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain!

HOPE!

President Buhari set off on promises hinged on the tripartite angles of providing security, fighting corruption and engendering youth employment through a stimulation of the economy.

The President upon being sworn-in gave breath to the first leg of his promises when in his swearing-in speech directed that the Military Command Centre for the fight against Boko Haram be moved to Maiduguri at the heart of the war. Now, that was a basic move wanting an order from the right leadership, and President Buhari did not wait to show his leadership and military prowess there. Thereafter he met with the then service chiefs, who he later changed to press-up able, war-ready and troop-leading Generals. These moves have stemmed hopes among the communities of North-Eastern Nigeria; hopes not just from believing in the resumé capabilities of these Generals but from a posteriori ostensible results from the warfront and sundry: from the re-capturing of hitherto held Boko Haram camps and territories, to the communal cooperation of the Multinational Joint Task force with $21 Million released for the establishment of the headquarters of the force, to the evident boost of morale among the troops, to the steady return of economic activities in some hitherto abandoned towns, to promised technical and material support by World leaders to fight the terrorists to an end.

These hopes are indeed not founded on the reverie of changed leadership but on the palpable victory that has been self-evident in the war against the insurgents in the North Eastern parts of Nigeria. The President has given a 3 months period – which ends in December – in which the war must be won.

The President’s stance on corruption has been long known and appreciated – even by those on the other side – his disposition has not been put to a contest that it ever bowed with its tail between its legs.

A beauty in good leadership is watching its positive effect trickle down. That is why corporate governance principles in the public sector code today advocate for top-bottom approach to accountability, disclosure and positive ethos among the board and the Ministers with the knowledge that once these sacred values are imbibed in the hierarchy they would flow – like a spring – down to the lower echelon. And that is what Nigerians have today appreciated as the body language of Mr. President. That enduring ethos of incorruptibility has somewhat started a revolution in government ministries, departments and agencies. All of a sudden, but not without the knowledge of the new Sheriff in town, electric power supply has increased around the country – with over 4,600 Megawatts now being generated. I count it joy that our country today can boast in a fortified and unimpeachable hope that corruption has found a genuine adversary who is bent on uprooting it from the Nigerian system.

The promises of the Buhari administration to provide a meal a day for Nigerian pupils in primary schools and the payment of N5,000 monthly to 25 million Nigerians is still in the by-and-by; and assuredly, when the 2016 budget is presented by the President, it would be accordingly catered for. Looking forward to these masses oriented packages are a reflection of a reborn Nigeria worth celebrating come October 1st, 2015!

These hopes are not based on obsequious belief in the persona and capabilities of President Buhari; but they are funded on two indefatigable substances of humanity: Truth and Tangibility!

The war against Boko Haram is indeed being won; Nigeria’s international relations has been bolstered to attract unprecedented Foreign Direct Investment in our economy, and even to support our security personnel; the economy stands strong and exuberant even after having been left battered by the previous administration and starved by dwindling oil prices – our foreign reserves fell from $49 Billion to $27 Billion within November 2013 and April 2015  even when our earnings from crude oil were at the windfalls. This same reserves shot up to $31 Billion in  the first 2 months of President Buhari’s coming into power – despite oil being sold at an all time low of $43 to $47.

Many more plans in the kitty are yet to materialize and it is just over a hundred days plus: indeed better days are ahead, and it can be surmised that the 2016 budget that would be submitted by President Buhari would be a catalyst and the next phase for President Buhari to focus on infrastructure, revamp of key sectors and other activities that would engender sustainable growth and job creation in Nigeria.

Truly so, there is a cause to celebrate: October 1st 2015 is not just any other holiday but a day to celebrate Nigeria’s propitious comeback to the stage of world leadership and a state with the interest of the masses truly represented. President Buhari is on the path to CHANGE Nigeria for the better. And these self-evident truths show that Nigeria’s future is not bleak as it may have seemed a year ago. Talk about a new Sheriff who means business and give me a reason to adorn my green agbada come 1st of October!
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Lawyer, Google Ambassador, Dispute Resolution Specialist, Writer, TV Producer.
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  • LOL! Magazine / LOL! TV
    Editor in Chief / Executive Producer, 2011 - present
  • The Future Project
    State Representative, 2012 - 2013
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    Youth Volunteer, 2012
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Abuja, Nigeria - Kaduna, Nigeria - Delta, Nigeria - Biberach, Germany - Nairobi, Kenya - Puerto Rico, USA - Bagauda, Kano, Nigeria - Atlanta Georgia, USA
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Lawyer. Writer. [Social] Media Enthusiast. Google. Thinker. Listener. Speaker. Advocate.
Introduction
Johannes Tobi Wojuola is the Editor-in-Chief of LOL! Magazine; he is an effervescent Lawyer; a trained Dispute Resolution Specialist; former Google Student Ambassador; a fun lover; a workaholic; a believer in the Bible and its teachings; and a writer. He is a member of the Nigerian President, President Muhammadu Buhari's Media Team.

Johannes enjoys the company of positive people and loves to have interesting chats with new pals in his leisure time.  He is an I.T. and Social Media Enthusiast and served as the Director of Online Media at the Sam for Nigeria Presidential Campaign Organisation till the APC Presidential Primaries that produced General Muhammadu Buhari as its candidate. He is a media adviser to Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah and was a member of the erstwhile All Progressives Congress' Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO); Directorate of Media and Communications.

Johannes Wojuola is a Capitalfield Human Rights' Ambassador and a member of the Abuja Global Shapers.
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  • Nigerian Law School
    B.L., 2014 - present
  • University of Abuja
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