The Judgment Banning Tolling on the Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge

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On the 27th of March 2014, the Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, held that “there was no existing law in Lagos State, permitting the collection of toll on the newly constructed Lekki-Ikoyi Suspension Bridge in Lagos.” Now, lawyers are usually wary about commenting on a judgment that they have not read in its entirety, but various newspapers quoted the judge’s ratio (i.e. the thinking behind the court’s ruling) extensively. This commentary will be based on the quoted excerpts and the provisions of the Lagos State Public Private Partnership Law of 2011.

 

The PPPL establishes an Office of Public Private Partnerships and gives it powers and responsibilities. It sets the framework for entering into Concession Agreements and states that they must be ratified by the House of Assembly before implementation. Good, so far? Okay then. Let us return to the court’s judgement briefly.

 

Justice Saidu is reported to have held as follows:

“The third respondent [i.e. the Attorney-General of Lagos State] tried to justify the collection of such toll in paragraph 26 of their counter affidavit, by stating that when the bridge is erected, its proceeds will be applied to the consolidated revenue fund of the LASG.

“The question now is, has the LASG made the appropriate law to enable her collect such toll on the bridge? The third respondent only cited sections 27, 28, and 29 of the Lagos State Public Private Partnership Law 2011 as making provision for the collection of revenue. There is nothing before me to show that the subject matter in this case was as a result of any Public Private Partnership law, to enable the law of 2011 be extended.”

 

-       (See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/03/lekki-ikoyi-link-bridge-law-backs-tolling-says-court/#sthash.iy4mkUCe.dpuf)

 

The thrust of His Lordship’s judgement therefore appears to be that toll cannot be collected on the bridge pursuant to a provision in the PPPL because the bridge was constructed with funds from the public purse and is therefore not a PPP project.

 

Is this a correct position to hold? Does the title of a law limit the scope of the law? Let us examine the referenced sections of the PPPL and then discuss the rudiments of statutory interpretation.

 

Section 27: Notwithstanding the provisions of any Law [of Lagos State], the [Governing] Board [of the Office of PPP] may designate any public infrastructure or public asset, any road, bridge or highway within the State as public infrastructure[i] or public assets[ii] with respect to which user fee or toll shall be payable for the purpose of this Law subject to the approval of the House of Assembly.

 

Section 28: Notwithstanding the provisions of any Law, the Board may in the relevant concession or other agreement, authorise any person, in return for undertaking such obligations as may be specified in a concession or project agreement with respect to the design, construction, maintenance, operation, improvement or financing of public infrastructure or public assets, to enjoy specific rights as may be stated in the concession or project agreement including the right to levy, collect and retain service charges, user fees or tolls in respect of the use of the public infrastructure or public assets.

 

Section 29 is long and boring but can be summarised as providing for regulating tolls and conditions under which the public will access the infrastructure. You can view the full PPPL here.

 

In simpler English, section 27 says that regardless of what any other Lagos law says, the PPP Board has the power to designate public infrastructure or assets for tolling, subject to the approval of the state’s House of Assembly. Section 28 says that a person/company can be authorised to levy and collect tolls in return for fulfilling its (i.e. the authorised person’s) obligations under a concession agreement or other agreement, regardless of what any other law of Lagos State says.

 

Bearing the foregoing in mind, was the judge correct to hold that public infrastructure and assets may only be designated for tolling under PPPs? I would respectfully disagree with the honourable judge for the reasons that follow.

 

1. Long Title: Laws generally have a long title at the beginning, as well as a short title at the end. Both are aids for interpreting laws. The short title of the law we’re considering is The Lagos State Public Private Partnership Law. This might lead readers to think the law only legislates on PPPs but I think the long title suggests otherwise – A Law To Provide For Public Private Partnerships, Establish the Office of Public Private Partnerships, Enhance Infrastructure and Service Development in Lagos State and for Connected Purposes. The purpose of the law is four-fold, one of which is enhancing infrastructure and service development in Lagos State. It is not solely concerned with PPPs. My learning friends at the Law School would probably support me if I went further to say that the phrase “and for connected purposes” is added to the long title of every law specifically to avoid being put in a straight-jacket as the Federal High Court did here.

 

2. Sections 27 & 28: Even if the law were held to only apply to PPPs, sections 27 & 28 begin with the words ‘notwithstanding the provisions of any Law’. This expression recognises that laws overlap each other in practice, even if this is not the intention of the House of Assembly; laws do not exist in isolation to each other. This means that unless expressly excluded (as done here), other laws can impact on the PPPL. The inference is also thus that unless sections 27 and 28 limited their application to PPPs, courts should not impute this restriction unless not to do so would lead to an absurdity.

 

3. Section 27, again: Section 27 gives the power to designate public infrastructure and public assets for tolling. ‘Public Infrastructure’ and ‘Public Assets’ as defined by the PPL (and reproduced below) have not been defined as assets/infrastructure that were built/developed under PPPs. Now, it might scare us to know that the government can wake up and decide to toll any public facility or amenity but ratification by the House of Assembly has been inserted as a check on the executive (we know they’re more often than not the rubber-stamp of the executive but the principle can’t be faulted).

 

MATTERS ARISING

The Lagos State Government has filed an appeal against the judgement, though it continues to collect tolls in the interim. Did they apply for a stay of execution and if yes, was it granted? [UPDATE: I've just been informed that the hearing for the application for a stay of execution is fixed for April 25. With Senior Advocates of Nigeria as Governor and Attorney-General, it is somewhat surprising that toll collection continues.] The lawyer who brought the action against the government claims to have been the target of assassins. We pray for his continued safety and well-being.

 

—————————————-

ENDNOTES

[i]Public Infrastructure is defined by the PPPL to include ‘public facilities and amenities including roads, bridges, highways, rail lines, water transportation facility, public water works, housing, electric power stations, hospitals, recreational parks, motor parks, waste disposal facility, amusement centres and any other infrastructure or amenities for public use.’

[ii]Public Asset is defined by the PPPL to include ‘the right of use of any property or economic opportunity of a public nature arising from the use of public property.’

The Shiny Roads & Bridges Will Not Build Themselves

A few weeks ago, I was at a lawyers’ mini confab on infrastructure and cross-border investments in Africa and learnt about Mauritius, the Netherlands and the UK being some of the most favourable countries through which to route your investment to Nigeria.

 

After the polite nattering was done and most of those in attendance, with sensitive stomachs had left, I was privileged to have drinks with some fine lawyers and one or two people representing heavy investments in PPP infrastructure in Nigeria. Experience has shown that the greatest benefit (and knowledge sharing) at these summits arise when the cameras have been turned off, the taps of the world’s greatest social lubricant, alcohol, have been turned on and people are free to speak and curse as freely as they like. Coincidentally, the Lekki bridge judgement had just been announced, so it naturally featured in our conversation.

 

The following are some of the golden nuggets shared by the prestigious gathering. It’s all anecdotal, so it’s probably unsafe to quote any of this outside your watering hole.

 

There is a local demand for infrastructure that Nigeria on its own cannot afford to build. This is widely accepted amongst industry analysts and is the justification for public-private partnerships with the various levels of Nigeria’s government. The roads, bridges, tunnels, power stations, water and drainage networks, houses, hospitals, etc., that government should provide as basic amenities will need significant funding from private (and, usually, foreign) parties to happen.

 

The Government is sending out mixed messages on its vision for PPP. The first problem here, and this is my personal opinion, is that not enough of the decision makers know enough about the structure of PPPs, to not bungle it. The concessionaire for MMA2 was frequently summoned by various committees to come and account for the money he was spending during construction! They would typically order work to stop and he would fly to Abuja at his own expense to explain that government did not give him a penny. The general terminal was also supposed to be shut down and there was to be no further airport development within Lagos State. We all know how Arik refused to vacate the GAT and that a new airport will be built in Lekki. His lenders are circling.

 

Same with Lagos State and the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge. Everyone present at our soiree agreed that it was infrastructure that was needed, that it was world class and that it was properly delivered. The issue is that under the concession agreement with the Lekki Concession Company (of the Lekki-Epe toll road), reportedly, no further alternative route is to be built within 300 metres of the toll road.

 

Why the fuss? Well, when you approach lenders for project financing, it is understood that loan repayment comes from revenues generated by the project. The revenue projections determine the conditions for lending and even the slightest default could trigger significant penalties. It is estimated that 25,000 vehicles go through the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge daily and that traffic at the LCC Admiralty Toll dropped to 75,000 vehicles daily from about 90,000 after the bridge became operational. A 15,000 vehicle hit on your daily bottom line is not insignificant.

 

There are hoards of potential investors at the gates. This conversation was had before our glorious week of rebasing, so it was not yet known for sure that we were twice as large an economy as had previously been thought. However, even with the old GDP figures, there were many people out there itching to come and invest. The snag is that most of the intended projects are not bankable. The issue with bankability is not that a healthy ROI does not exist – it is that political and local community risks are way too high. See for example, how the Chevron toll is yet to become active, then go back to the principle that a funded project repays its own debt. What happens to the deficit in actual revenue versus projected? Think also to how things can go pear-shaped if a different party/regime comes into office. We have the old Buhari and railways project as a reminder here too.

 

The Fix? The government has to decide whether it needs PPP help or not. If yes, then it should be doing all it can to boost confidence in the Nigerian PPP. Politicians need to stop being so twitchy. Nigerians also need to decide if they’re happy with the status quo or want these new shiny roads and bridges. Yes, we pay taxes but if the 24% unemployment and 60% youth unemployment figures are to be believed, coupled with huge numbers of people either underpaying or not paying taxes at all, then it may be erroneous to think that the taxes and national income are enough to do everything.

 

There was debate on the propriety or otherwise of the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge judgement too, but that’s gist for another blog post.

The March RoundUp

 THE BIRTHDAY OF TEX

We start our roundup this month with the most awesome thing about March – one celebrated one’s birthday and commemorated the occasion with a limerick:

 

There once was a tweeter named Tex

His specialty was in the lex

On Ides minus 2

His birthday, woohoo!

So dig deep & pull out some cheques!

 

Sadly, no cheques yet. Maybe next year…

 

THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Nigeria’s controversial national conference started this month. After squabbling about religion, marginalisation, voting rules, respect for elders, the right to doze off without the press covering it AAAAAND receiving their first allowances of N1.4million each, it does not seem as if things will get moving for another week yet. Still, we celebrate some of the more famous delegates in the limericks below:

 

When Jimmy was head of the sports

His case shoulda gone to the courts

A great innovator

Showed a generator

When started, man, it teleports.

 

A cross-dressing fugitive man

Was impeached then forgiven and

Despite his disgrace

Will yet be the face

Of Bayelsa’s conferencing band

 

What really is two-thirds 19?

Is it 12 or is it 13?

Ol’Richie returns

To raise these concerns

When all the delegates convene

 

An ex-gov’ning husband of judge

In landmarking judicial sludge

Forever denied

The risk of being tried

An “elder statesman”, oh what fudge!

 

OOH LA LA!

After being dubbed a specialist in failure by the Special Punk, Jose Mourinho, Gooners all over  the world licked their chomps in anticipation of the showdown between Arsenal and Chelsea. Like the protagonist in a Kung-Fu movie, we all expected Arsene Wenger to “take his revenge”. The prospect received additional spice because it was Arsen’s 1000th game in charge of Arsenal. Things didn’t quite play out as expected. In fact, Arsenal shipped 6 goals without reply that day, prompting Professeur Wenger to attempt dodging the post-match press conference. The following limerick, as salve for our North London wounds…

There once was a French coach named Wenger

In-club for a thousand game bender

Got stuffed by José

Well, hip hip hooray

Our specialist, legend forever

 

ROAD SAFETY REFORM MEETS ROADBLOCK

A learned colleague recently obtained a judgement from the Federal High Court, restraining the Federal Road Safety Corps from impounding cars that do not have the new number plates. You can read the story here. Unconstitutional and illegal. Does this mean that cars with the new plates are improperly registered? We cannot say. Will the FRSC adhere to the judgement? We’ll just have to wait and see. Will you get a refund for the unconstitutional and illegal number plates on your car? This limerick is for you.

It turns out our old number plates

Now don’t have expiry dates

But no reimbursement

Will come from the gov’ment

To those who had paid the new rates

 

“KORO” LAMENTS MARGINALISATION IN LAGOS

Senator Ambassador Honourable Musiliu Obanikoro was in the press twice this month. Luckily, we feature both events in our roundup. In one, he is reported as lamenting the dearth of “shonz of de shoil”, indigenes of Lagos, in the management of the State’s affairs. Perhaps Lagosians should have their own sovereign conference to resolve this matter…

It’s something that makes Koro bitter

How Aliens in Lagos now litter

The armchairs of power

Indigenes, this hour

Must rise to defend this bullshitter

 

Koro reportedly also played a role in the “did-he-didn’t-he” that followed reports of the resignation of the newly appointed defence minister (Koro is his junior minister, his expertise in defending, uhm, his fellow Lagosians coming in very useful here).  The minister, retired General Gusau, quickly denied news of his resignation, but something very clearly happened between the ministers and the joint chiefs as news of their reconciliation was roundly received with relief. In honour of the purported resignation however, the following -

Nigeria’s joint chiefs weren’t inclined

To meet with Gusau, how unkind

The head of defence

In pure common-sense

He picked up his pen & resigned

 

NATIONAL IMMIGRATION SERVICE [SHAM] RECRUITMENT TRAGEDY

In a truly heart-wrenching sequence of events, the National Immigration Service charged 6 million applicants N1000 each, so that it could invite 500,000 thousand of them to a test at various stadiums around the country, intending to offer only about 4,000 of them employment.  There were stampedes in almost each stadium, 19 people died and hundreds more were injured. Now, first question is, how the hell do the NIS, who have 2 people stamping each passport at the airports, need 4,000 more staff? Then, where did the Minister for the Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, find the nerve to come on television and blame the multiple stampedes on the “impatience” of the applicants? Then, our president, Goodluck Jonathan, incomprehensibly decides to award 3 employment slots to the families of those who died and automatic employment for everyone injured in the stampede. Unsurprisingly, he nearly caused another stampede at the National Hospital, with people feigning injury and clamouring to be put on the automatic employment list… [*deep, deep, breaths*]

 

A stampede as stamping HQ

Recruited for stampers brand new

Like dreams they were crushed

As applicants rushed

To 19, we now say adieu

 

A stampede, as stamping HQ

Recruited, but all went askew

500k tried

And then 19 died

The polity heated, a-stew.

 

The head of our troubled interior

In garbage from oral posterior

Has asked us to blame

The dead & now lame

And ignore his motives, ulterior

 

The head of our country has tried

In satire personified

To placate the mob

By giving a job

To families of seekers that died

 

Have u been maimed in a stampede?

Or just maimed, but still full of need?

Then go to Abuja

The gov’ment will give ya

A job as their penance for greed

 

May the souls of the departed rest in peace. May those whose negligence led to their deaths not receive the customary golden parachute and silver handshake from the federal employer.

 

AND IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS…

President Goodluck Jonathan went to Europe and informed his audience that corruption in Nigeria is blown out of proportion; things aren’t as bad as we know them to be… Okay, then.

Our country is full of distortion

Especially talking corruption

We exaggerate

Discombobulate

And blow it all out of proportion

 

… and Russia is giving the rest of the world its middle finger in Ukraine.

There oncce was a country, ‪#Crimea

Whose borders’ll now disappear

Cos Vladimir Putin

Is sticking the boot in

Regardless of ‪#Ukraine‘s despair

 

As they say in Russia, dasvidaniya! Until the next roundup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing Business Needs To Be Easier

The Federal Government and many State counterparts know how to spin a good yarn on entrepreneurship being the solution to Nigeria’s unemployment pandemic.  There has been no better evidence of the country’s stark reality in the employment stakes than when the government itself shambolically attempted to test over 500,000 job applicants to fill only 4,000 vacancies (less than 1%), resulting in stampedes and deaths.

 

So, yes, unemployment is a problem. And you would think that governments serious about stimulating private sector job creation would be similarly serious about creating an environment conducive to this. Sadly, starting and running a business in Nigeria remain extremely tough and most of the obstacles to giving it the best shot come from the government and its various agencies.

 

Granted, it isn’t the fault of the government (well, not directly, anyway) that very little credit is available and so office space, electricity generators, equipment, supplies, etc. all have to be paid for in full prior to commencing business. However, most business people find that once they’re set up, they’re then at the mercy of all sorts of “officials” from State agencies and the local government, demanding all sorts of levies for sundry permits, depending on the nature of business being carried on.

 

The problem isn’t the permits in and of themselves, as most entrepreneurs I’ve been privileged to advise do want to do business legitimately and in a structured manner. The problem is in the way that these agencies ambush businesspeople. What’s worse, I doubt that there are any consultants who can give you the full list of permits, licenses or approvals required for a business – this advice will come with a caveat. So, how can people starved for cash properly plan their expenditure?

 

My proposed solution is for the government to simplify this process. I realise this is antithetical to current practices of making approvals as tortuous as possible (in order to extract as much “extra” from the public as possible) but we surely cannot continue this way. My proposal for simplification is similar to the Federal Government’s One Stop Investment Centre (which hasn’t really worked out, by the way, but a noble idea).

 

The idea behind OSIC was to create one office where investors could go to for all the permits required to carry on business in Nigeria. Great idea, but key agencies like customs and immigrations have remained very tribal (who would blame them, given how much, for example, expatriate quotas cost) and “one stop” hasn’t really been one stop.

 

A state OSIC would be a great idea too though, especially if the State Government secured (or coerced) the buy-in of Local Governments too. One place for every single permit your business needs, with a pact from the government that no one would be harassed over any permit or levy not issued or collected at its OSIC. In addition to that, serious states (I’m talking to you, Ogun State) have to dismantle road blocks where local governments demand that motorists buy radio licences to be able to drive through the local government. It isn’t only illegal, it is patently stupid. Same as with requiring trucks and articulated vehicles to obtain permits for each local government they intend to drive through. This currently affects only loggers and the like but when e-commerce begins to require larger delivery vehicles to maximise efficiency, it simply won’t be workable.

 

In the World Bank’s annual “Doing Business” report for 2014, Nigeria ranks 122 out of 189 in ease of doing business. In 2013, our rank was 114, so it appears doing business has become tougher over the past year. You can see the report for yourselves here (and here for the overall rankings). It is no coincidence that the countries where doing business is easiest are amongst the world’s most prosperous.

 

We have only 6 years to go until 2020, when the government says it plans to break into the elite group of the world’s Top 20 economies.

 

The recorded music market in the US, 2000-2013

TexTheLaw:

Music sales over all are dropping, but digital’s share of the pie is rising…

Originally posted on Music Business Research:

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) recently published the sales figures (shipment figures) for the recorded music market in the US for 2013. Accordingly, digital sales increased by 7.6 percent to US$ 4.36bn from 2012 to 2013. Nevertheless, overall sales (digital and physical) slightly decreased by 0.3 percent from US$ 7.016bn to US$ 6.996bn in 2013. Thus, the sales decline of 12.3 percent (US$ -325m) in the physical product (CD, vinyl, DVD, SACD) could not be compensated by the growth of the digital music market. All in all, digital music sales accounted for 64 percent of the overall recorded music sales in 2013.

The strong increase of digital music sales is fueled by the booming music streaming and subscription segment, which grew 39 percent in 2013, generating US$1.4bn in revenue. However, single track download sales shrank by 3.3 percent (US$ -54.6m) in the same period. Digital album sales have slightly…

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The Roundup – 6th March 2014

We begin our roundup this week with the question on all our minds since it became known that the NNPC could not account for a huge, huge, sum of money, somewhere between “only” $10.8bn and $20bn: WHERE IS OUR MONEY?

We ask the bees, where is our honey

Comedians, where is our funny

For those at the top

Those few that we prop

We ask them ‪#WhereIsOurMoney

Well, in what was seen as an attempt to force the hand of the federal government, finance minister and coordinating minister for the economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, issued a statement calling for a forensic audit of the NNPC’s accounts. The statement was issued shortly after the CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was fired under circumstances most watchers connect to him blowing the whistle on the NNPC billions.

Ngozi, she’s gone now and floored it

Tentatively, watchers applaud it

The money that’s lost

She said to her boss

Will be found in forensic audit

CNN sacked Piers Morgan. Though it was probably because of his show’s dismal ratings, many say it was because of his crusade against the National Rifle Association and its reverence for the Second Amendment to the American Constitution, even in the face of frequent massacres. He’ll be fine, though, that Piers.

There once was a journo named Piers

A Brit in the States for 3 yrs

For verbal affray

With the NRA

He’s off now to find new frontiers

Speaking of massacres, there has been absolutely no let up in North-Eastern Nigeria. Not to try to attribute varying weights to what have all been hugely tragic events, but the killing of about 40 students in their school was particularly horrendous. The raw wound of the national psyche was further opened when the federal government insisted on going ahead with its controversial centenary jamboree only a day or two afterwards.

100yrs been in the making

Did ripening but never did taking

And in our fresh grief

Our mourner-in-chief

Will proceed with the celebrating

When Barry was faced with the loss

Of 20 kids & the school’s boss

He broke down and cried

Well here 40 died

And Johnny does not give a toss

The irony of commemorating the centenary only a few weeks before the national conference was not lost to some. Here, a tweet from OAP Temisan Okomi:

For patchwork ten decades ago

Our government has put on a show

But in a few weeks

Our conference seeks

To answer: to stay or to go?

Whenever the Nigerian oil cabal is taken on, it fights back. A scarcity followed the initial investigation into fuel subsidies a few years ago, a scarcity has now followed allegations of $20billion being unaccounted for. The joke is now in circulation, where Nigerians apologise to the cabal and tell them they can keep the $20billion as long as they released petrol supplies again.

We’d best leave the oil thieves alone

For each time their cover is blown

A shortage arises

A scarcity crisis

To punish for loot now forgone

Whenever we spotlight the murk

The system soon goes full berserk

Will we stay the course

Or show our remorse

And simply now all face our work?

In South Africa, the trial of “blade runner” Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his girlfriend has commenced. Guilty or not guilty? We’ll soon find out.

Post-Oscars, there’s Oscar Pistorius

On trial, for murder inglorious

He shot in the dark

Extinguished her spark

His defence, it’s felt, might be spurious

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has advised Governors that it is in their interest and the interest of their states to seek cordial relations with him. He said, “A number of politicians feel that the best thing to do is to be abusing Mr. President, abusing the Federal Government and so on. You are elected to develop your state, I think the best thing is to have good relationship with the centre, whether you have a pin or you don’t have but one day it will come. Wearing boxing gloves, jumping into the boxing ring to face Mr. President does not help the development of any state.

A warning today from the Rock

To guv’nors whose tongues run amok

If you want progress

Then try some finesse

And stop criticising Goodluck

Finally, we end with an event still causing ripples on the interwebs. In Nigeria, we once had a greatly feared dictator, Sani Abacha. He died in office under circumstances that have never been officially explained. The government of Goodluck Jonathan decided to grant him a posthumous award, along with other past heads of state for being  “Outstanding promoters of unity, patriotism and national development.” Fear not, Lord Luggard, Flora Shaw and Queen Elizabeth were also given awards.

The families of Gani Fawehinmi and MKO Abiola rejected the purported centenary awards to their progenitors. Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, rejected his award as well, because, he said, he could not share an award with the late Abacha, who was a “murderer and thief of no redeeming quality”.

Well, one of Abacha’s sons responded to Professor Soyinka. You can read his nicely drafted letter here. Of course, many took umbrage and a learned friend has written a response to Sadiq Abacha here.

Phew! Long intro! The now long-awaited limerick follows -

Rejecting co-gong with dictator

The Laureate, longtime provocator

Was richly chastised

By sonly reprise

Though son was a pampered spectator

The “Chronmericks” of Stella

Stella1

For about 5 months between 2013-14, former fundraiser for the presidential campaign of President Jonathan, and his erstwhile minister of aviation, Ms Stella Oduah, was under fire. The history of her various battles was captured, at various points, in the compendium of limericks below.

Her first trial came after a tragic spate of air crashes, when she held a press conference and declared, “We do not pray for accidents but it is inevitable… We do everything to ensure that we do not have accidents, but it is an act of God.” She probably meant something closer to “force majeure” and not that these things would happen regardless of how vigilant we mortals were, but she was roundly ridiculed for the statement…

The question that’s now on the table-

Is it true or is it a fable

That aircraft must drop

Accidents won’t stop

It’s really all inevitable?

Shortly thereafter, it emerged that she had given her approval for one of the departments under her supervision to purchase 2 armoured BMWs at a cost of  N255million (US$1.6million). Investigations were conducted, leading to a hearing at the Federal Legislature. There, the contractor who imported the cars, a long established auto-industry mogul, admitted bringing the vehicles in via import waivers meant for the Lagos State Sports Festival from the previous year, to avoid tax. As for the minister, she said she realized that the money involved exceeded the statutory ministerial authority (of N100 million) and she qualified her approval of the internal memo with the words “do the needful”. As such, it purportedly then became the government department’s job to see that the cars were procured lawfully. Cue a nation-full of raised eyebrows. Her Director from the department then testified that the cars were not meant for the minister, oh no! They were for dignitaries from IATA and other ministries of aviation. Cue a nation-full of “yeah right!”…

The ministry gave Cos the nod

To buy a Bavarian pod

When you seek reform

It must be the norm

To defend against Acts of God

 ——

Ah Cosmas, what manner of goof?

You who were genteelly aloof?

Your attitude’s lax

To evasion of tax

Your bullshit is not bullet-proof!

 ——

She ended her evidence, gleeful

Knowing that it was deceitful

As nothing that’s wrong

Is righted for long

By simply adding “Do the needful”.

——

 

Wasn’t the best of responses

He told us, now look here you dunces

The cars are for guests

That do all the tests

And give all our planes second chances

 ——

Today we are needful of grace

A waiver to hold us in place

When she disapproved

Requests with “approved”

‘Twas needful to throw out her case.

 

The heat didn’t really die down with the hearing at the House. Not too long afterwards, an “assassination attempt” on Ms Oduah was reported. Luckily for her, she was not in the ambushed car. However, the incident was not reported to the Police until 48 hours afterwards and as for the police investigation, it’s probably best not to say anymore…

She purchased those cars, not in jest

And also a bulletproof vest

The House’s report

Is just writing sport

Now sympathy trumps an arrest

——

 

Turned out the Beamer’s weren’t costly

And we were outraged unjustly

To questions about

Corruptional doubt

Our Prez’dent has replied “robustly”

But Stella kept working hard, especially at the international airports, keeping on with the expansions and remodeling. Then, she announced something called the Aerotropolis, that would result in the creation of a world record 10 million jobs! Cynicism trailed almost all she was doing by this time and the jobs projection was met with the greatest skepticism possible…

10 MILLION JOBS, they chorus

And no, don’t say it’s bogus

The latest update

From Aunt ‪#Stellagate

Is the brand new Aerotropolis

By this time, one of her predecessors in office, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, had published a spiritual hypothesis on plane crashes in Nigeria. He also tweeted this gem about the person of Ms Oduah:

Ah, Fani, what a fella

His tweet last night was hella

Deziani’s got poise

Okonjo rules boys

And oh, what he said about Stella!

Time passed and just when it seemed that the whole fiasco had blown over, Sahara Reporters accused her of certificate forgery.

For Princess, a new revelation

Times Premium in investigation

Is casting a doubt

(Abeg, I can’t shout!)

On Stella Oduah’s education

 ——

In spite of the Grand Renovation

It’s tricky, this school situation

Should all that she’s built

Absolve her of guilt

If she fibbed ’bout her education?

She was then accused of barring State Security Service personnel from the international airports. This was probably a silly rumour and her team promptly denied it.

Ms Stella’s again in the news

Bizarre, but they say she’s refused

To permit access

By the SSS

To airports, and they’ve blown a fuse

Finally, after months of robust silence from the presidency on all matters that concerned her, she was chopped in a cabinet reshuffle. We don’t expect her separation from the president to be permanent however, given their history.

The needful now done somewhat late

Will agencies investigate

Or will this her boot

Be mere parachute

No info, so we speculate

 ——

L.Maku says they were not sacked

That in fact, the President’s backed

Their wish to engage

Political stage

And give their home states what they’ve lacked

 ——

Ah Stella, the Actress of God

From Ministrial BeeM-ers now shod

A tardy farewell

Though we know too well

Not really, for she’s Johnnie’s blood