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The Waterfronts Parliament: Pension The Pension Thieves

Angaladikibo, the Watcher of the Mangroves, was worried. He gazed intently at the Mangroves hoping to have some relief as he waited for the appointed time for deliberations to begin. The Parliamentary Hall of the People of the Waterfronts was already full to capacity, all waiting for the appointed time.
Angaladikibo was puzzled. Is the saying, “if you cannot beat them, you join them,” right? Has it any positive effect towards the progress of the nation? Is it an act of cowardice to join the bandwagon? If everybody is wrong, are you right to be right? Is it wrong to try to curb the stealing appetite of the kleptomaniac by showering him or her with cash or other gifts now and then? Will it have any effect? What pushes a man to steal plates of eba and soup far above what his stomach can contain? If a man has already stolen billions of naira successfully and has several houses, hotels, cars and other comforts of life, what pushes him to keep on stealing more money when he could not exhaust the ones already stolen?
It was obvious that only the Mangroves could provide the answers to the puzzles streaming through the mind of Angaladikibo. But for the calming effect of the Mangroves, Angaladikibo would have been wandering on the streets, the knots of his mind having been loosened by the silly ways of the People of the City. For example, he could not imagine why the People of the City would sit idle until a set of people who called themselves Boko Haram would make a set of worshippers shun their churches on Sundays. He remembered the chilling words of the Commissioner of Police, Plateau Sate Command, Emmanuel Ayeni, at a meeting with religious leaders and stakeholders. “Worshippers will not be allowed to go to churches and mosques with vehicles especially on Fridays and Sundays. There is need to train private security guards of the churches and mosques. Churches and Mosques must obtain some security gadgets especially the type used in detecting metals”. Can you imagine? In the house of God? Where else will be safe in the City, if the very house of worship is not safe?
As if that was not enough, the commissioner went on to say, “All worshippers must submit themselves to security checks, including pastors and imams. There should be no accessibility to any worship centre by vehicles. Any road leading to any worship centre must be cordoned off on Fridays and Sundays. No worshipper will be allowed to cluster around churches and Mosques after services.” Odumodu! Entering a church or mosque now is like trying to gain entrance into Aso Rock or the White House or Buckingham Palace. Oh People of the City, you have really gone overboard!
Angaladikibo, the Watcher of the Mangroves, was still swimming in his thought when the Oldman of the Waterfronts got up abruptly. The appointed time has come and the ancestors must be appeased before discussions. The Parliamentary Hall was in absolute silence as the Oldman of the Waterfronts stretched his left hand and picked up the bottle of the local white brew, while his right hand went for the little glass cup.
“Odumodu, great ancestor of the People of the Waterfronts,” the Oldman of the Waterfronts began, “we have gathered again as usual to try to find out the source of the madness of the People of the City. They have turned reasons upside down. Sacredness has no meaning for the People of the City. They desecrate the low and mighty places and their ancestors have turned their backs against them. Take, drink and continue to protect us from the evil influences of the People of the City.
“Otumo-Ogugu, Favourtie of the Maidens, he who goes in and out of the Maidens detecting the unfaithful ones, take and drink. The People of the City have declared war on holy places and only you the ancestors could save us.
“Osokolo, another favourtie of the Maidens, we seek the protection of you, our ancestors, from the ill wind that blows from the People of the City. Take, drink and let it blow towards another direction.”
The Oldman of the Waterfronts refilled the little glass cup and swallowed all, signifying the end of the call on the ancestors. The bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup went round the hall and they all followed the footsteps of the Oldman of the Waterfronts.
Okolobo, he of the Creeks, got up to speak immediately the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup returned to the table.
“People of the Waterfronts, it is a pity that sacred places are now violated at will. It has come to the stage when people now fear to go to church to worship on Sundays. Some have not attended church for weeks in Kano. One of them stated, when asked, “we have been living in fear since that terrible incident and each time we hear that churches have been attacked and worshippers killed, it further creates fears in my mind. There is no point going to church to worship when your mind is not at rest”. How true! If the intention of the Boko Haram sect is to Islamize the country beginning from the North, surely they have taken a good step and soon no church will open on Sundays. But I really want to find out something. What is their real motive? Let’s not look at the angle of Islamizing the nation, whatever that means. Could there be something else they are looking for in the churches?
“People of the Waterfronts, please do not laugh. I am very serious. What is the guarantee that they are not looking for something else, while selling us the dummy of Islamizing the nation?
Arukulo the man who says he is always at the front of the canoe, could not contain himself and he jumped up and stated, “Okolobo, please if you know something else we are not privy of, go straight and tell us. The people have told you their reason for the wanton killings and you are here trying to defend them. What else do you think will move them to attack churches? Did you hear that pastors offended them?”
Okolobo looked at Arukulo and continued, “People of the Waterfronts, I am not here to defend any group. They have arms enough to defend themselves. In fact, they have dared the Federal Government to do its worst as they are battle ready to face anyone. I just felt perhaps they have motives other than what they have declared. We all know what the People of the City can do when they perceived the aroma of money. No place would be sacred enough to avoid. Have you people heard that Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church, a.k.a Winners Chapel has won so much money that apart from having the most expensive university in Nigeria, the Covenant University, he has four private jets as if they are ordinary taxis? Who does not know the cost of one jet? Think of four of them and then you will marvel how he would maintain them. By the way, where is his company or farm that gave him such huge wealth? I thought tithes are paid to God and not to pastors or bishops.
“So, as I was saying, these people might have thought that all churches are flowing with such wealth and felt, the only way to get some of the wealth is by bombing the churches. Don’t laugh. If one man who is a ‘man of God’ could amass such wealth, in the midst of poverty, then several ‘men of God’ combined would yield billions for the members of Boko Haram. Don’t you think so? Remember, the People of the City could do anything for money.”
Okolobo sat down and was thinking of his brilliant proposition, when Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts, got up to speak.
“People of the Waterfronts, I greet you. I do not know where Okolobo got his ideas from. But that is not what I got up to say. We are here to find cures to the heartless ways of the People of the City. I am proposing that we place on pension, all those addicted to stealing from the pension funds. Yes, I just got this brilliant idea when Okolobo was making his strange suggestion. I say this with all sense of sincerity because stealing from the pension funds should not be regarded as ordinary stealing. Let me tell you why I said so and why all the pension thieves should be pensioned. You must have heard that Dr. Sani Teidi Shuaibu, a former Director, Pension Administratin, was accused of knowing about how a whopping sum of N4. 56 billion, money meant for pensioners, got missing. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, took him to court. However, I must praise him. He did not take the funds of the old and dying just for the fun of it. He has filling stations, hotels, estates and so many others. Unfortunately, the court has ordered that the entire properties got through the loot be forfeited to the EFCC. Too bad.
“People of the Waterfronts, remember I told you that stealing pension funds is addictive. A pension reform task team set up to prevent the stealing hands of Dr. Shuaibu and others also got addicted and N140 million escaped from the Police Pension Funds. Abdulrasheed Maina, the leader of the team simply used names of top government functionaries to siphon the huge amount. So, setting up a task force to check the leakages of the pension fund would not work.
“You may say the EFCC should be left to deal with them. But news filtering in does not support that. You all remember the $180m Halliburton bribery scandal. Turn that into naira and you will marvel at what the People of the City are up to. Yet, the EFCC bungled the case. They kept on asking for adjournments until the trial judge, Justice Abubakar Umar of the Abuja High Court simply dismissed the case.
“The judge told the EFCC, ‘it has been over a year now and still the EFC is coming up with excuses. The EFCC should know that if it is not ready to prosecute and bring cases to conclusion, it should not apply for leave of court to arraign anybody. The EFCC should know that I am answerable to the National Judicial Council and what will I say is the reason why this case has been at arraignment stage for the past one year? I therefore strike out the suit for want of diligent prosecution.” C-o-u-r-t! So you see, People of the Waterfronts, we cannot trust the EFCC to handle the case of the pension thieves. I therefore suggest that we pension all of them as pension thieves and regularly pay them their monthly pension allowances to prevent them from stealing more pension funds. That will cure the addiction.”
The Oldman of the Waterfronts filled the little glass cup and swallowed all.

By Kenneth Amabipi
0803 668 7846
Email: kennymaps@yahoo.co.uk

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