Resign, Minister Resign!


While we stay glued to our television sets watching events unfold in Tunisia and Egypt, we ignore atrocities in our own governance. The image below is the home page of our Federal Ministry of Health. At the bottom right of the page, it has a picture titled “Honourable” Minister of State – Alhaji Suleiman Bello. Alhaji Bello is a serving Minister of our Federal Republic; the Minister of State for Health. The Minister, was recently served  notice of a trial to face an eight-count charge for the alleged corrupt self-enrichment of about N11.2million.

He is still serving as our Minister of State for Health…….read details here.

Alhaji Suleiman Bello, is alleged to have conferred a corrupt advantage upon himself when he unlawfully solicited from Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State for about N11,245,000 as ’hardship allowance.’ Hardship allowance (Nigerians would shudder at this) He is alleged to have done this while he was Resident Electoral Commissioner of Adamawa State. He is not being accused by the opposition political party or any motley crowd but by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). As the story broke, and we awaited the trial to learn how hard things were for this senior government official, while working in Yola, the story took an interesting turn.

Saharareporters published a letter from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke stopping the trial of our Minister of State for Health. Stopping the trial! The letter said to be signed by one Akin Akintewe, Assistant Director, Department of Public Prosecution, is as below:


“I am directed to draw your attention to the above case which was instituted by your office and slated for hearing on the 31st January, 2011 at Federal High Court, Yola”, the Ministry of Justice wrote on behalf of the AGF in the letter addressed to the Acting Chairman of ICPC.

“ I am further directed to request that the original case file be forwarded to the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice immediately, to enable the office take over the prosecution of the case in exercise of the power of the HAGF under S,174(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”,.

This is all very confusing. Why does Alhaji Suleiman Bello not do the honourable thing, resign his post while he clears his name? Shortly after the story broke, The Nation reported that President Goodlluck Jonathan might ask Bello to leave the cabinet this week to clear his name. But no….Alhaji  Bello remains in office serving us as our Honourable Minister of State for Health. 
Our country cannot change for the better if our public officials perceive themselves to be above the law.  As we see from North Africa, the consequences of political leadership being less accountable to the people can have devastating consequences. It is not a future we wish for our country. 
We call on the Alhaji Suleiman Bello, our Honourable Minister of State for Health to resign.

He should choose a path of honour and spare the health sector the ignomity of managing the health sector while facing these charges.

If the Honourable Minister of State for Health chooses not to resign and hides behind the cloak of a letter from his fellow Minister to the “Independent” Corrupt Practices Commision, then there are no options but for the Executive Chairman of the Agency, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, to resign himself. How else will he have the credibility to do his job?

“Democracies survive when citizens believe that the state can give them justice. Justice is not the assurance that you must win in your cause, but the assurance that the rules will be applied fairly, – Ken Nnamani

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

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