Meet 35 Year-Old Entrepreneur Who Owns Nigeria’s 2nd Largest Rice Farm

Nigerians consume more than 5 million metric tons of rice every year, with a significant portion of its consumption needs sourced from imports. Rotimi Williams, an ambitious 35 year-old Nigerian entrepreneur and rice farmer, is on a quest to change that.

Williams, a former Journalist, is the owner of Kereksuk Rice Farm, the 2nd largest commercial rice farm in Nigeria by land size. His farm, which is situated in Nasarawa state in northern Nigeria, currently sits on 45,000 hectares and employs more than 600 indigenes of Nasarawa.

Forbes’ contributor, Mfonobong Nsehe, recently caught up with the budding entrepreneur in Lagos, and had a brief chat with him where he recounted his journey and mused on how Nigeria can attain self-sufficiency in rice production in the near future.

What’s your educational and professional background?

I attended King’s College in Lagos. After attending secondary school at King’s College I proceeded to obtain my first degree at University of Aberdeen where I graduated with a degree in Economics. I also obtained a Master’s Degree in Economics from the same institution. My quest for more knowledge led me to enroll for yet another Master’s Degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London where I gained an MSc. in Finance and Development Studies.

Upon graduation, I landed a role as an analyst at the European Economics and Financial Centre in London. Afterwards, Euromoney Magazine- employed me where I covered the African space.

I would say that this is where my journey truly started.

Credit: Forbes

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A Peep Into Buratai’s Snakes Farm

Located at Gora in Karu local government area in Nasarawa State, about 40 kilometres from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) along the Abuja-Keffi expressway, the Tukur & Tukur Snakes Farm evokes both the curiosity and imagination of passersby and visitors. The reason is not far-fetched as the snake is generally regarded as man’s sworn enemy only meant to be killed at first sight; which makes keeping it as pet or for whatever reason unthinkable to many.

The Tukur & Tukur Snakes Farm is the first of its kind in this part of the globe and has got people stopping by the farm to satisfy their curiosity, with the number of visitors increasing meteorically each passing day.

As if to make matters even more perplexing than it is already, the snake farm has an expansive children’s playground fitted with amazing playing equipment and many wonder which kind of parents would take their children to a snake farm to catch some fun, especially when the snake showroom is located only a hundred metres from the playground.

A visit to the farm will, however, dispel every fear and replace it with awe and admiration at how graceful and picturesque the colorful creatures are, especially watching them move majestically in seamless traffic behind their fortified glass cages.

Unlike in the United States or China where a wide variety of snakes is often farmed for the purpose of research and the collection of venom for the creation of antivenom, the Gora snake farm is primarily a tourist attraction, says the farm manager, Kabir Abdulmalik.

Abdulmalik said although the farm previously had over 13 species of snakes, it currently has only three due to the insecurity in Borno State from where they got most of their supplies, especially pythons.

The most common type of python on the farm is the spotted python. This snake has an irregular, blotched pattern. The background colour is cream to yellowish brown with ragged-edge blotches of dark brown that merge to form wavy streaks.

The blotches have ragged edges because the dark colour occurs only in complete scales. In terms of it size, which is one factor that evokes fear in humans, Abdulmalik said it ranges between 5-10 metres long.

He said the spotted python, mostly found around the Sambisa Forest, can adapt to most types of habitats but prefers rocky hillsides and outcrops with crevices and caves. They feed on small mammals, including rats, toads, and insectivorous bats.

One curious feature about it is that it breeds through laying of eggs, unlike most species which give birth to their young ones. It can also lay as many as 15 eggs.

Despite its intimidating size, however, it does not bite but swallows its prey and so cannot be housed in the same cage with a much smaller species called Kasa, which is predominantly found around Nasarawa State because the venomous Kasa would bite it to death.

On the farm, the very aggressive and venomous species, like the cobra and black mamba, are housed together while the non-aggressive and non-poisonous ones are kept together.

In order to ensure a stable diet for the snakes, various species of rats are also reared on the farm and fed to the snakes. Frogs are also sourced from the wild as alternative menu.

Abdulmalik explained that the farm also provides members of the public with services ranging from snake evacuation from homes, offices and business premises to treatment of snake bites.
He noted that most of their supplies came from hunters and were for tourism purposes, but they are occasionally sold to members of the public on demand.

He further stated that snake farming for tourist attraction was the first step towards the opening of a comprehensive zoo with more species of reptiles and other animals, adding that the farm also has a collection of various types of ostriches and peacocks new to this part of the world.

The snake farm, a subsidiary which has stolen the limelight from Tukur & Tukur Farms Ltd, is only a recreational aspect of the agricultural conglomerate which is into farming of Chinese vegetables, fish farming, general crop production and tractor hiring.

Seated on a 20-hectare piece of land, the farm reportedly owned by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, has over 50 staffers in its employ. It has branches in Kaduna and other northern states.

This piece was first published in Leadership Newspaper of Sep 16, 2015.

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Nigeria Leads The Way Promoting Ridesharing In Africa

By Ebi Atawodi, General Manager, West Africa (Uber)

At the start of the last century, just one in seven people worldwide lived in cities. Today it’s half, and by 2050, the UN predicts another 2.5 billion people will be living in urban areas. This has brought huge benefits, with the growth of cities linked directly to economic growth, as well as improved health and education. Nowhere is this more apparent than across Africa, but it has also often come at the cost of creaking infrastructure, especially when it comes to transportation.

In response to this challenge we have seen governments across the world?—?from Mexico City to Sydney?—?embrace ridesharing. We are thrilled that Nigeria is now the first country in Africa to make a significant step forward towards building ridesharing into their transportation policies.

Honourable Obinna Chidoka, a member of the Federal House of Representatives and the Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Habitat, recently started an important conversation for Nigeria’s future in the Federal House of Representatives, looking ahead to how technology can enable safe and reliable rides and limit the negative effects of traffic congestion, a subject Chidoka is very passionate about. This culminated in a unanimous vote by the Nigerian House in favour of a resolution supporting ridesharing.

Chidoka says “This resolution is a pivotal step for Nigeria and the critical role technology will play in helping us achieve the ambitions set out in the 2015 Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. This ridesharing resolution is an important development in reducing the number of cars on our roads, creating thousands of jobs and building sustainable businesses for our country.”

This matters, because Nigeria is at the very vanguard of urbanisation, expected to add over 200 million people to its cities in the next 40 years, more than tripling the size of its current urban population. Only China and India will add more.

This fast pace of change presents a serious challenge for the country’s transport system. As the African Development Bank notes, the average commuter in Lagos now spends over three hours in traffic every day.

Thankfully technology can help bring the answer. With just the smartphone in your pocket, ridesharing apps like Uber can now connect riders and drivers at the push of a button. This brings benefits for riders, drivers and cities. Riders find it easier, safer and more affordable to get around; drivers have access to new, flexible economic opportunities; and cities see their transit networks extended, emissions cut as we start to take cars off the road, and reductions in alcohol-related accidents.

This resolution is a great first step towards legislation that will allow the benefits of ridesharing to be felt across Nigeria, and ultimately we hope it encourages transport innovation for cities across Africa.

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My Pact And Contract With The Good People Of Ondo State, By Victor Adekanye Olabimtan, APC Guber Aspirant

My good people of Ondo State,

Consequent upon widespread consultations propelled by the reminiscence of yesterday, the doldrums of today and passionate desire for an exciting tomorrow, all of which resulted in my decision to submit myself to be used by God for the restoration of our dear state, to the place of glory by God’s grace and your support, I hereby present to you my pact and contract with the good people of Ondo state. These I am convinced are areas of critical intervention which “our government” intends to pursue if elected, and sworn-in come 2017.

The present realities of Ondo State today is worrisome. The last six years have been very tragic such that an average Ondo State resident has lost faith in the sincerity of the government. We now have despair and disillusionment in place of hope and optimism, retrogression and backwardness in place of progress and development. An atmosphere of despondency be hh   now prevails because of insufficient and corrupt leadership. Inspite of over 500 billion naira that had accrued to Ondo state from various sources, our educationsector is in a very poor state; public infrastructure are decadent and our finances in a serious mess with a debt burden of over 100 billion naira.

Leadership recklessness and profligacy have brought us down from a financially buoyant state in February 2009 to a present state of abject indebtedness. Ondo State today is littered with neglected and abandoned projects of past and present administration. The legacies of our heroes past have been systematically decimated.

We need not lose hope, rather we must take our faith in our hands as I believe, OndoState can rise again. I have no doubt that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country or state can change it with their resolute commitment and determination to enshrine good governance. This should be our common challenge.

For these, I offer my service to the good people of Ondo State at this very critical moment. I want to be your Chief servant in 2017 through your supports and votes. I was once a teacher, and had also served as Chairman of the Teaching Service Commission. I have therefore been close to the grassroots to know their problems. I have been a Legislator and a Speaker of the Ondo state House of Assembly which has afforded me deep insight into the art of governance, knowledge and familiarities with the problems and aspirations of the people of Ondo state. I have equally served as a Commissioner representing Ondo, Ekiti and Edo states at the Federal Civil Service Commission. I am therefore not a neophyte in public service matters as I have been sufficiently familiar with the public / civil service which is the machinery through which government policies and programs are carried out.

VISION STATEMENT

  • To lay solid foundation and chart a new course, for the advancement of Ondo state.
  • To establish a virile and sustainable structure for service delivery, integrity, transparency, equity, fairness, justice, peace and security.
  • To be committed to the welfare and general well-being of the people.

OUR MISSION

  • To rescue and draw back the state from the edge of the precipice and near total collapse where the inefficient and ineffective leadership has driven it to.
  • To develop Ondo state for the general good and overall well-being of the residents without any discrimination whatsoever.
  • To remove wastages and wage war against corruption, so that the citizenry can once again trust and have belief in their leaders and the government.

ACTIONS FOR POLICY OBJECTIVES

In accomplishing the set goals, my guiding philosophy shall be the oneness and unity of the state, equality before the law, respect for and abiding with the tenets of democracy, social and economic justice for all and finally the fear of God which we all accept to be the beginning of wisdom. In this regard, I have therefore committed myself to an agenda to actualize my vision and mission for our dear state.

ONDO STATE OF OUR DREAM

The task to make things work and develop Ondo State is a collective responsibility. Therefore our mandate will provide good governance, foster conducive business environment, and make the pursuit of peace and prosperity a unifying factor for allresidents of the state. Our team is committed to empowering the public service to deliver efficient services and to promote the restoration of infrastructure, jobs and economic growth. In pursuance of these, we shall focus on the following SIX priority areas:

  1. GOOD GOVERNANCE

ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY

We shall institute the three tenets of Probity, Accountability, and Transparency (PAT) as a government policy. We believe that our state public service needs to be motivated and restored to its previous high standard. An improved public service will lead to enhancement in service delivery, transparency and accountability. Our government will empower the civil service for effective and efficient service delivery through reforms, whilst reducing corruption, eliminating duplication of functions and minimizing waste of public resources. We shall attract the best and brightest into our public service while training and retraining existing personnel will be a priority.

We shall undertake a wholesome budgetary reform that will ensure the reduction of overheads and waste, raise capital expenditure and observe budgetary discipline in accordance with existing laws. Enhance accountability and stop the under-declaration of revenue that should go into the consolidated revenue fund and the State-Local Government Joint Account, thereby increasing resources available to the local government. Pursue rigorous implementation and compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility and Public Procurement Acts and faithfully apply sanctions for non-compliance.

ECONOMIC PLANNING

We are committed to a proper financial and statistical planning on the needs of Ondo state. We shall pursue and implement purpose-driven economic policies to grow the state GDP through the following;

  • Ensuring real time on line access to actual position of the state finances to prevent misuse and other forms of abuse by receiving agencies.
  • Reducing leakages in the tax collection and administration process.
  • Running a transparent and accountable government, ensuring prudent management of the state resources.
  • Ensuring that the funds of the state are used for development purposes.
  • Creating viable Public Private Sector partnership to jump start the economy.
  • Reducing dependence on federal allocation as a means of funding government.

ADMINISTRATION

The purpose of government in any society is to administer the common wealth of the people for the benefit of all. Our government will be people centered. We shall strive to build a better and just society, where hard work and honesty are rewarded, equity, fairness and justice prevail, and where no segment of the society develops at the expense of others.
Local Government: This tier is the closest to the people and therefore its purpose and independence shall be our priority. We shall therefore ensure that at all times our local government is managed by people elected by the electorate. We will ensure that on a monthly basis local government gets the full amount due to it from the federation and state accounts so that custodians can use such funds for the development of their areas.Our vision is that each local government will be as desirable as the state capital in terms of infrastructure, social life, access to amenities and economic viability. This we believe will ultimately help check rural urban drift and give every citizen in the state an equal sense of belonging.

Civil Service: The once virile Ondo State Civil service, has been battered by ineffective leadership. There is the need to re-structure and reposition the Civil service for the daunting tasks ahead of all of us. Our government will ensure a civil service that is responsive, efficient and well-motivated being the engine room of any administration. Our reform will make the work environment more conducive, stimulating and rewarding. In addition to these, our civil service policy will include:

  • Regular promotion and capacity building.
  • Strengthen and adequately fund the Home Ownership Scheme for public servants.
  • Comprehensive review of civil service structures as part of our efforts to create a people friendly civil service.
  1. EDUCATION, HEALTHCARE AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

EDUCATION

Promote affordable, qualitative and functional education: The policy of our administration will be free, qualitative and compulsory basic and secondary education for all children in the state. We shall not deviate from the global operating standard as stipulated by the United Nations for successful teaching and learning. Our educational policies and programs are aimed at eradicating illiteracy in OndoState, ensuring every child gets at least nine years of free basic education, improving infrastructure and tools, while attracting the best people in character and learning to the teaching profession. In addition we shall revive and expand all vocational centers for technical skills acquisition, and also address the needs of the physically-challenged who require special education.

BASIC EDUCATION: A child’s right to education should not be denied irrespective of background. Education is the greatest gift any responsible government can give to the society. Our government will therefore:

Ensure that teachers are qualified and adequately trained to impact knowledge to our children.

  • Ensure that books are available in our school libraries through a deliberate policy of periodic stocking of libraries with textbooks.
  • Ensure that the curriculum is critically examined and if need be reworked to meet global standards.
  • Ensure that computer education is a compulsory part of the curriculum in all schools.
  • Improve incentives to teachers and work with all stakeholders to restore the dignity of the teaching profession and improve school administration.
  • Ensure full implementation and enforcement of the Universal Basic Education Act with specific emphasis on tuition-free, compulsory basic education for every child living in Ondo State
  • Fix all collapsed and abandoned educational infrastructure in our schools.
  • Establish special home ownership scheme for teachers.
  • Promote and support programs that give special attention to education of girl-child.
  • Improve the literacy level of the society through special attention to adult education.

SECONDARY EDUCATION: Our Government will re-organize secondary educationsystem to be in tune with modern trends and technology. We will rebuild our education system to focus on the followings:

Free and qualitative education in all secondary schools.

  • Guarantee that the existing secondary institutions will receive the required attention to ensure quality education in all our schools.
  • Develop effective use of innovative teaching methods in secondary schools utilizing the latest technologies and teaching tools.
  • Build and equip more libraries in schools and community centers with access to online educational and enlightenment materials throughout the state.
  • Learning environment and quality of teachers will be improved to increase professionalism and raise the quality of secondary school graduates.
  • Institute workable reward system for teachers and appropriate trainingprovisions to improve their competence.
  • Ensure constant inspection and enforcement of performance standards.
  • Promote and support institutions that impart life-long skills for all, in and out of formal schooling.
  • Promote inter-schools competitive programs.

TERTIARY EDUCATION: Our tertiary institutions will be upgraded and maintained to compete favorably with others through the followings;

  • Effective funding of all tertiary institutions in Ondo state without discrimination or favoritism.
  • Ensure full optimization of the capacity of existing technical and commercial colleges, and expand where necessary.
  • Encourage innovative learning and research, through collaboration and exchange programs with tertiary institutions within and outside the country.
  • Make our University Education entrepreneurial and result oriented.
  • Promote and support science and technology
  • Facilitate retooling and skills transfer programs for unemployed youths to make them self-employed or employable and productive citizens.
  • Support, encourage and mentor student unionism in all our tertiary institutions to restore its loss glory.
  • Encourage students to be constructively involved in policy formulation by making sure that they are heard and carried along on all student affairs matters, affecting their institutions.
  • Ensure free, fair, credible and rancour-free Student union elections without government interference in all our tertiary institutions.

SCHOLARSHIP AND BURSARY

  • We shall undertake a situation assessment of the Ondo State Scholarship Scheme for effective delivery of its mandate.
  • Our government will execute a merit based scholarship program where every student of Ondo state origin in any tertiary institution with a CGPA of 2:1 or its equivalent will automatically qualify for scholarship.
  • Our bursary program will be easy to access as adequate and dedicated provision will be made for it every year with appropriate and periodic review.

HEALTH

Our government will be absolutely committed to the health and well-being of the people. The policies and programs are aimed at first, reducing incidence of diseases through promotion and enforcement of environmental sanitation and preventive healthcare. We shall pay special attention to the development of diagnostic and curative capacities of our primary and secondary health facilities. Maternal and child mortality is a global sensitive issue and so rather than just create specialized hospitals for pregnancy issues, every hospital will be made both mother and child friendly such that every hospital from specialist to Basic Health Centres in all nooks and crannies of Ondo State will be adequately equipped with qualified, experienced personnel and facilities to ensure that all pregnant women in the state, experience easy and successful delivery. We shall create access to healthcare for all our citizens through a well-managed and properly funded Comprehensive Healthcare Delivery System (CHDS). To achieve these, we shall:

  • Provide effective and accessible health care for all.
  • Provide efficient accident and emergency ambulance service.
  • Provide primary health clinics in each ward with special attention to the needs of children, women and the elderly.
  • Provide functional and mother and child friendly general hospitals in every Local Government Area.
  • Establish free blood pressure and sugar level checks center in every governmenthealth facility.
  • Create a comfortable and conducive work environment for all health personnel across the state.
  • Raise the quality of all general hospitals through deliberate investments in infrastructure, diagnostic equipment and continuous professional development of personnel.
  • Focus on preventive health care through continuous immunization, improved environmental sanitation, fumigation of high risk areas, and nutritional enlightenment programs and the improvement of diagnostic and curative capacities.
  • Create one tertiary (specialist) hospital in each of the Senatorial Districts.
  • Implement aggressive policies to reduce infant and maternal mortality, including the provision of free care in public health facilities to the following vulnerable groups:

(i) Ante-natal care for pregnant women

(ii) Babies and children up to the age of 5

(iii) The elderly above the age of 65

(iiii) Those afflicted with infectious diseases such as Ebola, Leprosy, Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and the likes.

  • Provide health insurance scheme for all residents to enable them enjoy reliable and quality health care.
  • Encourage active health investment and partnership with international healthcare groups and other tertiary health institutions to eliminate the need for medical tourism abroad.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND WELFARE

Our administration will create enabling environment for the youths, women, artisans,aged and trade unions by giving them unhindered opportunities to excel and contribute to the growth of the economy. Our social development and welfare policies will include the design and implementation of a sustainable safety net for vulnerable groups, timely pension payment for our senior citizens and programs to engage the youths of Ondo State in productive activities, encouraging competition and excellence and the pursuit of careers in sports, entertainment and other vocations. Our social development and welfare policies shall provide for:

Children: Guarantee the protection of children, the safety of every child, particularly the rights of the vulnerable, such as street children, trafficked children, Children with disabilities, criminalize child labor and enforce the Child Abuse Law in the State.

Youths: We shall provide opportunities for Ondo state youths to realize, harness, and develop their full potentials and to facilitate the emergence of a new generation of citizens committed to the sustenance of good governance and service to the people and the country. Our key priority will be getting the larger majority of our youths into entrepreneurship to bring the productive population of our state into contributing to the nation’s economy.

We shall deliberately provide recreational/sports centers and parks for our public schools and public places to guarantee the mental balance of every youth and promote quality labor force for the future. We shall reform every aspect of the juvenile justice system dealing with children in conflict with the law. Our focus for the young adults is massive job creations, responsible living and encouragement to contribute to societal development.

Women: We shall ensure that the rights of women are protected as enshrined in our Constitution, guarantee that women are adequately represented in government appointments and provide greater opportunities in education, job creation and economic empowerment. Our women will be encouraged to contribute to economic development by giving them the opportunity to access 40% of positions available in government based on merit. We shall support and empower our women folk by strengthening the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Women Affairs to enable greater attention and effectiveness in its coordination of women development matters across ethnic, linguistic, religious or other sectional divides; to empower them financially through skills acquisition and robust funds support scheme.

We shall commit to the needs/issues that concern widows, single parents and disadvantaged / challenged women (including enforcing the protection of women against Domestic Violence as enshrined in the Domestic Violence Law 2007 and supporting the Nigeria Women’s Charter that details policy expectations and commitment on issues related to the improvement of the lives of women). In addition to these, work out a tax-incentive plan for women in business to encourage greater participation by women in the economy, and implement a policy of equal opportunity for women and men in the party structure and government.

Market-women and markets administration: We shall strengthen our existing markets, build new ones and encourage our market women to make good use of the markets. The Local Government Authorities (LGA) in our administration will be empowered to supervise and support the market women in the smooth running of the markets. Special loan schemes will be created for market women to support their business and reduce the bottlenecks associated with corporate loans from banks. Market women will also be encouraged to form cooperative societies that will make it easier for them to access federal government special grants for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME). Our administration will ensure that market women are consulted and have their voices heard always before decisions are taken on markets across the state.

Drivers, Okada-riders and Artisans: The contribution of Drivers, Okada-riders and Artisans to our economy cannot be ignored. Therefore our administration will give special attention to these groups of people by strengthening and empowering them. Our administration will create enabling policies for all Drivers, Okada-riders and Artisans to operate and excel in a rancor-free environment. The existing loan schemes for Drivers, Okada-riders and Artisans will be upgraded and strengthened to enable the scheme to reach more operatives and be more effective. Our government will not interfere in the election and running of Drivers, Okada and Artisans unions. We shall allow operatives to take full control and ownership of their unions within the confine of existing law to ensure peace and harmony among all operatives. Our administration will ensure that Drivers, Okada-riders and Artisans are consulted and have their voices heard always before decisions are taken on their business and operations.

The Aged: Our administration will ensure timely payment of benefits to all pensioners and design a sustainable safety net targeting the needs of all aged residents on the state. Provide social welfare for Senior Citizens (both male & female) in the short and long terms, as partakers in the overall resources of the State. Provide shelter homes/food courts with basic health facilities to be funded through a trust fund and support of the relevant stakeholders.

Our Government will support the formation of non-partisan Community-based Elder’scouncils, capable of providing guidance in management, moral and ethical development in our society. Our Government will seek elders’ guidance and advice as inputs to our policy formation and implementation. We will support the senior citizens and help in their management of socio economic problems peculiar to the group (pensions, health and education).

Less-privileged, Orphans and Disables: We shall protect and enforce the rights and privileges of all disadvantaged persons irrespective of age, sex and circumstances. Every orphaned, abandoned, disabled and less-privileged child will be the responsibility of our government. We will promote an effective collaboration between our government and the civil society organizations in this regard.

  1. SECURITY, LAW AND ORDER

SECURITY

We believe that protection of lives and property of the people is the primary duty of the government. In this regard, we shall commit resources to a safe and attractive community to all residents and visitors alike by attacking the roots of insecurity and support the federal agencies responsible for maintaining law and order in the state. We shall partner and synergize with federal agencies to make Ondo state the most secured state in Nigeria.In line with this affirmation our government shall:

  • Respond to the operational needs of security agents through provision of mobility, surveillance and communication gadgets, protective gears and conducive working environment.
  • Implement policies to promote harmonious coexistence to ensure that residents are free to live, work and worship as they wish in any part of the state irrespective of tribe, ethnic and religious affiliations.

LAW AND ORDER

Attribute of good governance are justice, equity and fair play. Our government therefore will be committed to the protection of the rights of every citizen and enforcement of all laws that allow peaceful co-existence of all persons in the State through the followings:

  • Ensure speedy access to justice by all individuals in Ondo State, by reforming the courts system and procedural rules.
  • Strengthen existing Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms andprovide free legal services to the oppressed and less-privileged in our society.
  • Improve welfare packages of Judicial Officers and upgrade courts with modern ICT facilities.
  • Ensure judicial autonomy.
  1. INFRASTRUCTURE, INDUSTRIALIZATION, ECONOMIC GROWTH AND JOB CREATION

The continuous neglect of infrastructure both in urban and rural areas has had heavy tolls on the socio-economic activities of the state and by consequence the welfare of our people. One of the first priorities of our government will be to reorganize and refocus state agencies responsible for provision of infrastructure. We shall commence immediate rehabilitation of township roads, rural roads, and provision of transformers amongst others. The state and local governments will work together in a coordinated manner to achieve accelerated infrastructure development.

Ondo State enjoys the advantage of being a major link (by road) between the south-west and other regions of the country and; of having the longest coastline in the West African sub-region, serving as access point to other seaports in Nigeria. We hope to leverage these endowments to grow the state’s economy and create jobs for our people. Our government will do all these through:

INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

The policy trust of our government shall be to promote good, quality and purposeful infrastructure at the best of cost to government. Roads, water and electricity will be given greater priority with appropriate budgetary vote. We shall embark on a major statewide public works program to expand, upgrade and refurbish the infrastructural fabric of Ondostate, so that its residents can enjoy a better quality of life. The immediate focus shall bethe expansion of access to electricity and rehabilitation of our roads to ease urban and rural transportation. All existing intercity roads linking the major urban and farming centers of the state will be rehabilitated to motorable conditions. We shall strengthen the state agencies in charge of planning, environment and urban management to collaborate with local governments and municipalities to ensure that streets are cleaned, solid and liquid waste collected, processed and disposed off in an environmentally-sustainable manner.

INDUSTRIALIZATION THROUGH PPP

Our government will deliberately revive all moribund and abandoned industries using the public private partnership model whereby government equity will be minimal to enhance efficiency. The multiplier effects of job creation and tax payment will give the government and by extension, the state a good inflow of revenues.

Olokola Free Trade Zone: This is an initiative of a past government with a vision to liberate Ondo state economically. Forty (40) blue-chip organizations had at one timeshown interest to set up companies in the southern corridor of the state. Unfortunately the project was abandoned by the present administration. This project will be revisited to make it blossom. We envisage that the project will bring massive revenue and employment opportunities to the state with a considerable deployment of infrastructure from investors. We intend to pursue a policy that will form part of the MOU stipulating that 60% of employment in the companies must be given to Ondo state indigenes. This singular clause will reduce the rate of unemployment considerably. In addition, we shall empower our citizen to exploit economic opportunities within the zones.

Development of the non-oil Mineral Resources: Ondo State is blessed with abundant mineral resources, ranging from Bitumen to Ball Clay, Silica Sand, Kaolin, Limestone, Granite and several other mineral resources in commercial quantities. Our government will do things differently in this area. We will instigate a broad-based summit of experts, policy-makers, investors and other stakeholders within and outside the country, in collaboration with the federal government’s Ministry and Agencies in the Solid Mineral sector, to thoroughly examine the current state of this sector in the state with a view to recommending the appropriate lines of action for us to take in deriving the best possible benefits from these God-given resources. We hinge our hope on the established commitment of the APC national government to open up the Solid Mineral sector for the injection of private investments.

ECONOMIC GROWTH AND JOB CREATION

The realities of the global economic down turn in the last few years have made it extremely important for governments to devise strategies of keeping very well afloat. Unfortunately in Nigeria, most state government rely almost absolutely on resources shared from the federation account monthly. Our administration will strive to ensure a clear departure from this situation through sound economic policies which will include rapid and focused industrialization of the state to create jobs and astronomically improve our internally generated revenue using a friendly and honest tax policy.

We shall vigorously pursue policies that will encourage and support business owners to establish industries and businesses in Ondo state to pave way for the much needed economic growth and job creation for our teaming youths. Ondo state people are peaceful, dignified and hardworking, who desire and deserve gainful employment for their children and themselves. It’s a widely known fact that no government can employ every job seeker. The key to reducing unemployment to the barest possible and to boost internally generated revenue anywhere is for the government to promote conducive atmosphere for trading, manufacturing and production. Our Government therefore shall among other things:

  • Put in place a robust skills acquisition program to help small scale industries.
  • Develop integrated industrial estates for mini, micro and large manufacturing enterprises in the three senatorial zones of Ondo State.
  • Provide the estates with infrastructural facilities that reduce the cost of setting up industries (roads, electricity, water, and telecommunications).
  • Provide incentives targeted at attracting manufacturers /investors.
  • Re-invent the community based cooperative society to improve the economy of the rural populace.
  1. AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT

A fact that has continuously been ignored in our nation is the strategic place of agriculture in our collective desire for economic growth and employment generation. Our goal is to make agriculture the key driver of the economy of and the source of new jobs for our youths. Our government intends to empower the existing farmers, encourage new generation of farmers and support commercial agriculture by creating better access to land, farm inputs and machineries. To achieve these, our government shall therefore:

  • Upgrade existing farm settlements and establish new and purpose built farm estate with all necessary social amenities.
  • Help farmers massively in cultivation through provision of tools for mechanized farming.
  • Improve the quality and quantity of cocoa and other cash-crops through provision of improved seedlings and agro-chemicals.
  • Support farmers to attain increase in food production and better storage.
  • Provide assistance to farmers in exploiting profitable markets and market opportunities for their products.
  • Develop extensive farming in palm trees to strengthen existing ones and create fully integrated oil palm processing industry.
  • Promote all-season farming through irrigation.
  • Ensure the availability of agricultural extension workers to guide our farmers, and timely provision of fertilizers, chemicals and improved seedlings to our farmers at reasonable prices.
  • Open up rural areas to enable farmers get their produce to town.
  • Regenerate our forestry to restore its lost glory and economic viability.
  1. HOUSING, ENVIRONMENT AND TOURISM DEVELOPMENT

HOUSING

We consider home ownership a basic necessity and we will do everything possible to achieve this by the introduction of house ownership scheme to enable desiring individuals own houses. We shall restructure and strengthen Ondo State Housing Corporation to fulfil and deliver its mandate. In pursuance of these our government shall:

  • Help Ondo state residents realize their dream of home ownership through special housing schemes.
  • Actively support research and development on the use of local materials to force down building costs.
  • Provide infrastructures like good road network, portable water and communal spaces for recreation and other social functions, which are major requirement for thriving estates.
  • Provide a conducive environment for a private sector led estates in three senatorial districts of the state.

ENVIRONMENT

Our administration will put every effort in place to tackle and prevent the menace of flood and erosion in Ondo state. We will strategically partner with renowned waste management experts for effective and sustainable conversion of our waste to wealth through Public Private Sector Partnership (PPP). There will be an organized system of waste separation, collection, deposition and recycling. We intend to put in place a landscaping programs that will conform to professional standards in modern aesthetics and still remain environmentally friendly. Our vision is to embrace current scientific methods in controlling and managing our environment. Our government shall:

  • Encourage private sector driven waste management and beautification schemes to rid our communities of filth which threaten public health.
  • Work with the private sector to establish appropriate waste-to-wealth projects under a composite waste management policy in the three senatorial districts.
  • Ensure strict compliance to layout designs and landscaping programs to prevent flood and erosion.
  • Improve the enforcement of environmental/sanitation laws by expanding personnel, awareness and equipment.
  • Encourage tree planting at all levels

CULTURE AND TOURISM

Our administration will develop tourism in line with our cultural values. We shall recognize and harness the unique culture and tradition of our various ethnic units with investment made to showcase them to the international communities. Ondo state is rich in culture but unfortunately the opportunities for wealth creation through tourism have beenlargely underexploited. We shall therefore:

  • Develop Ondo State tourism potentials to its fullest to promote employment and wealth among the people.
  • Encourage development of at least a tourist attraction in each senatorial district.
  • Enhance the image of traditional rulers and institutions.
  • Mobilize our traditional rulers to showcase the state tourism potentials toour people in the diaspora and the world at large.

CONCLUSION

The above are not just manifestos for the sake of writing article, they represent my covenant with the people of Ondo state. I pledge that if you elect me as Governor of Ondo State in the election of 2016, by the grace of God, you will find in me a diligent keeper of promises and restorer of hope.

I am humbled by the support, encouragement and goodwill I have received from our people throughout the length and breadth of the State. This has created huge expectations and momentum for change that can only be reciprocated with delivery on our promises and agenda. This manifesto is hinged on delivering a life more abundant for our people and well aligns with, the objectives of our great Party, the APC. It is a determination to get the best for our people. Our agenda is to align our systems, processes and outcomes to that of a modern state where things work for all.

I am therefore calling on all eminent and well-meaning sons and daughters of Ondo state who are true achievers and whose contributions and names are fondly etched in the hearts of many and dot the landmarks to join in this endeavor. It is a collective effort that requires every resident and indigene of Ondo state to contribute in generating ideas, vote for change, and support change. Let’s jointly make the sun shine again in our dear state. We need your opinions and support because we recognize that this vision is not achievable without you. We will conduct the act of governance with vision that will put our dear state on the path of peace, opportunity, and prosperity for generations to come. These require strong vision and strong leadership. A leadership with sincerity, purpose and character to drive that vision is achievable with your support.

I therefore offer myself as a symbol of that leadership and vision.

Thank you in anticipation of your valued supports.

Victor Adekanye Olabimtan

…….let’s jointly make the sun shine again!

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Inside The Massive Extrajudicial Killings In Nigeria’s South-East

By Premium Times

It happened in quick successions. The day was December 17, 2015. News had just come over the radio of a court ruling in favour of the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Jubilant crowds poured out into the streets of Onitsha, the commercial capital of Anambra State. A group of soldiers stationed at the Head Bridge Market opened fire on one of the crowds.

By the time the smoke cleared, three people laid dead with over a dozen sprawled on the ground with gunshot wounds. The soldiers fled the scene but not without taking with them the three corpses.

Later in the afternoon, five more bodies were discovered meters away from the scene bringing to eight the number of people killed on the spot. Of wounded victims taken to hospitals, four later died, bringing to 12 the total number of victims who perished in the fatal shooting.

Three of the dead men were identified as Michael Nweke, 37; Peter Chukwuma Nwankwo, 26; and Mathew Ndukwe Kanu, 25. PREMIUM TIMES gathered that until his death in the hands of soldiers, Michael Nweke was a private security guard employed by the Catholic Reverend Sisters’ Convent at Nkpor in Idemili North local government area of Anambra State. He was a native of Aguekka Village in Ekka Community of Ezza North LGA of Ebonyi State.

Peter Chukwuma Nwankwo, an Onitsha-based trader, was a resident of Ezenwankwo Street in Ugwuagba Layout, Obosi. He hailed from Amaokpo in Nssakra Omege Community of Ezza South LGA of Ebonyi State. The third victim Mathew Ndukwe Kanu was an artisan in Onitsha and a resident of Obosi. He was a native of Ndiodo Community in Akanu-Ohafia LGA of Abia State.

Anxious family members went from police stations to mortuaries in search of missing or dead relatives. The search continued into the New Year. Leaving no stone unturned, the search party that included members of IPOB and a human rights organization, Intersociety for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, hired divers to search the River Niger fearing the corpses might have been dumped in there.

On February 15, 2016, two months after the killings, 31-year old Sunday Nweke, younger brother to Michael Nweke, received a phone call directing him to hurry to the Onitsha General Hospital with a photograph of his late brother. There he met some IPOB members who led him to a mortuary attendant. Sunday identified the body of his late brother. The attendant, whose identity was not revealed, disclosed that some soldiers of the Onitsha Army Barracks, accompanied by some police personnel from the Onitsha Central Police Station, deposited the bodies on December 21, 2015. The attendant claimed he and his colleagues were warned not to say anything or release the corpses to anyone.

Similarly, Frank Chijioke Nwankwo and Grace Onyinyechi Kanu, relations of Peter Chukwuma Nwankwo and Mathew Ndukwe Kanu respectively, received phone calls to come over to the Onitsha General Hospital. They too were able to identify the bodies of their brothers killed two months before.

Traders at the Onitsha HeadBridge Market told PREMIUM TIMES that the ill-fated crowd shot by the soldiers were neither armed nor protesting. Azu Okwuashi, a trader at the market, said there was nothing provocative about the activities of the crowd.

“They were mostly young men who ran out into the street to jubilate when they heard a court had ruled in favour of the release of Nnamdi Kanu. They were not protesting. Why would they protest what for them was a good news?” Mr. Okwuashi said.

Nnamdi Kanu, director of London-based Radio Biafra and leader of separatist Biafran organization, IPOB, was arrested in October 2015 by the State Security Service. The news of his arrest generated mass protests across parts of Enugu State, Delta, Imo, Abia, Cross River, Anambra, Akwa Ibom and Rivers State.

Despite meeting bail conditions, Mr. Kanu is still held, a situation that has continued to agitate his supporters within and outside the IPOB.

Prior to the Onitsha killings, PREMIUM TIMES had on December 2, 2015 reported the Inspector General of Police ordering his anti-riot force to ‘maximally’ restrain pro-Biafran protesters.

Earlier, on November 16, 2015 the General Officer Commanding 3 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Hassan Umaru, at a press conference in Maxwell Kobe Cantonment, Rukuba, Plateau State, warned “all those threatening and agitating for the dismemberment of the country that we shall apply the ROE (Rule of Engagement) to the fullest”.

From Onitsha to Aba, Enugu to Umuahia, activists say, ‘maximum force’ has been the operational code for the unprecedented police and military brutality that has led to the extrajudicial killings of an unknown number defenceless civilians across the zone.

Human Rights organisations like the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), the Intersociety for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Amnesty International, Center for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy (CHRPA), and Forum for Justice have for years been documenting cases of extra-judicial killings in the South East, including what has been termed the murderous excesses of the special police unit called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), stationed in Awkuzu, Anambra State.

Between August 2015 and February 2016, about 170 “unarmed citizens” were shot dead or critically injured while about 400 others were arrested, charged or detained without trial. The right groups allege “torture, inhuman and degrading treatments in the hands of personnel of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF)”.

There are scores of reported cases of disappearances, abductions and pretrial killings of suspected members of IPOB or MASSOB (Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra).

Statistics made available to PREMIUM TIMES by the rights groups show for example that four people were killed in Awka and Onitsha on August 30, 2015; 13 killed in Onitsha on December 2, 2015; 12 killed in Onitsha on 17th December 17, 2015; eight killed in Aba on January 18, 2016; six killed in Aba on January 29, 2016 and 22 killed in Aba on February 9, 2016.

Among the four citizens killed in Onitsha and Awka on August 30, 2015 were Ebuka Nnolum, a native of Enuguabo-Ufuma in Anambra State; and Obasi Maduka of Oshiri in Ebonyi State. Of the 13 citizens killed in Onitsha on December 2, 2015 were Anthonia Nkiruka Ikeanyionwu (Anambra State), Kenneth Ogadinma (Abia State), Chima Onoh (Enugu State), Angus Chikwado (Anambra State) and Felicia Egwuatu (Anambra State).

And of the four citizens who later died in hospital after being shot by soldiers on December 17, 2015 for jubilating Nnamdi Kanu’s court victory, only one had his identity revealed as Okwu Friday. The identities of the three others were not made public as requested by their respective families.

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Head of Intersociety for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law told PREMIUM TIMES that human rights groups were not always able to detect and capture every case of extra-judicial killings or torture by policemen or soldiers in the South East.

“Some of the victims’ families are too afraid to come forward to report to us even when they know the identities of the policemen or soldiers that took their sons away,” Mr. Umeagbalasi said.

Massacre in school compound

What nobody was afraid to talk about was the mass killings by soldiers and policemen on February 9, 2016 of 22 IPOB members during a prayer session in a school compound in Aba, Abia State.

Human rights activists have called it an execution.

Emma Nmezu, IPOB spokesman, said to avoid unprovoked attacks of the type witnessed on December 2015 at the Onitsha Head Bridge, members of IPOB were advised to keep their activities off the road. Following this advice, over 100 IPOB supporters had on the fateful day assembled for a prayer meeting at the National High School, along Port Harcourt Road, Aba.

Survivors said that about 30 minutes later, at noon, the group was singing when a detachment of soldiers, policemen and naval personnel from a joint task force stormed the school compound and without much altercation began to shoot into the crowd.

Twenty-two people were shot dead on the spot. Over 30 others were left with various degrees of gunshot wounds. Among the 22 victims of the massacre were Uche Friday (30), from Asa in Abia State); Emeka Ekpemandu (35), from Owerre Nkwoji in Imo State; Chiavoghi Chibuikem, from Obingwa in Abia State; Nzubechi Onwumere (from Orlu in Imo State); Peter Chinemerem Ukasoanya (27), from Isialangwa North in Abia State; Chigozie Cyril Nwoye (23), from Umuna in Ezeagu, Enugu State; Chukwudi Onyekwere (26), from Aboh Mbaise in Imo State; and Chibuzor Maduagwu (28), from Amauzari in Mbano, Imo State.

Survivors’ accounts also had it that 12 of the 22 dead bodies were taken away by the soldiers who came in Hilux vans. The killer soldiers were said to have come from the 144 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, located at Asa in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia. At the time of the massacre, the 144 Battalion was commanded by Lt Col Kasim Umar Sidi.

The soldiers were joined by men of the Abia State Police Command as well as naval ratings from the Finance & Logistics Command of the Nigerian Navy, stationed in Owerre-Nta, Abia State. The Abia State Police Command was headed by Commissioner of Police Habila Hosea of service. The Area Commander was an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Peter Nwagbara.

The two officials declined to comment for this story. While Mr. Hosea did not answer or return calls, Mr. Nwagbara insisted all questions on the matter should be directed to the public relations officer of the command.

The Abia State Police Command publicly admitted to shooting and killing two IPOB members “for disturbing students of the National High School in Aba”.

Among the survivors of that shooting incident were Ikechukwu Ugwuoha, Amos Ezekiel, Okechukwu Nnebedum Nkume, Abia State Zonal Coordinator, Donatus Okeke and Joseph Okolie who had come for the IPOB meeting from Port Harcourt. They were arrested by the police, arraigned for “treasonable felony” along 15 other IPOB members and are currently remanded in Aba Prisons.

Bodies found in borrow pits

Four days after the killings at National High School, scavengers on February 13, 2016 raised the alarm upon finding 13 dead bodies in a borrow pit located along Aba Port Harcourt Road.

The borrow pit was months earlier converted to a refuse dump by the government of Abia State. IPOB claimed the bodies in the pit included those of its members arrested and taken away by soldiers who stormed the prayer meeting in the school premises. The dead men were obvious victims of extra-judicial killings.

Photographs seen by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that the men were lying face down with pieces of clothes tied over their eyes. The bodies were dumped in a group of eight, three and two respectively.

We put most of the photographs gathered during investigations for this story in this link because they are too gory to be displayed without warning. Click on this link to view them. (Warning: Images are gory)

Eight of the dead men had their hands tied behind their backs with Biafra flags said to have been among personal items taken away by the soldiers after the school compound shooting days earlier. An amateur photograph earlier taken with a mobile phone captures some soldiers and other unidentified persons dumping fresh corpses from a van into a mass grave. The 144 Battalion military barracks is about 10 kilometers away from the Borrow Pit.

Concerned members of IPOB and the human rights organization, Intersociety for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, were among the first people to visit the borrow pit on Sunday, February 14, 2016. As words spread, representatives of Amnesty International came to the site on Thursday, February 18, 2016.

Three more corpses were discovered in another borrow pit behind a mosque located between the Timber Market and the Arewa Onions Market, near Uratta Junction, along Aba-Port Harcourt Road. The three corpses were covered with leaves after being doused with chemical substances suspected to be acid and embalmment fluid. The choice of chemicals was probably to shrink the corpses to the bones, make victims’ identification difficult while keeping the bodies odourless.

Amnesty research group, led by Justine Ijeomah, was reported to have said they were “investigating the strong allegations of excessive application of force by the Nigerian security forces against peaceful and nonviolent IPOB protesters during their protests in Anambra, Enugu and Abia States”.

The Amnesty team had on that Thursday, February 18, when they first visited the burrow pit, taken photograph and video evidences. However when the team returned on Wednesday, March 2, they were shocked to find that the 13 corpses had been set on fire and were smouldering. Obviously, someone was determined to destroy the evidence. Amnesty International has video recordings of the burning skulls and skeletons.

Petitions to UN Rights Commission

Following the discovery of burning corpses, human rights groups working in South East Nigeria have petitioned the National Security Adviser, Chief Justice of Nigeria, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, United Nations Chief Repertoire on Extra Judicial Killings, the European Union, among others.

Following expressions of concern by international bodies of extra-judicial activities against indigenous groups in the South East, the Nigerian Army announced on February 21 that it had dispatched an investigative team to Aba to ascertain claims of massacre of 22 IPOB members. The announcement was made by the Provost Marshal, Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen. Ayuba Tedman Hamman, during the commissioning of the newly established Human Rights Desk, Department of Civil-Military Affairs, Army Headquarters, Abuja.

“I want to say that since COAS (Chief of Army Staff) was appointed I have been inundated with complaints of human rights reports,” Mr. Hamman said. “I think there is a lot of gap, and that’s why this desk was established…

“We have sent an investigative team to ascertain the issue in Abia State about the complaint that our men shot some people involved in peaceful protests. I have confidence in our team and I know this was a joint operation but since we are part of it, we still need to verify. We investigate and at the end of the day prosecute the culprits.”

Over three months after, the outcome of the military investigation is yet to be made public. Human rights observers say the military investigation was dead on arrival given that three days before Mr. Hamman’s public assurances, the Nigerian Army had announced it had temporarily relocated the tactical headquarters of its 14 Brigade headquarters from Ohafia to Aba in an effort to curb the activities of IPOB and MASSOB.

The Commanding Officer, 14 Brigade Ohafia, Brigadier General Lawrence Fejoku, told newsmen he was in Aba to put in check the menace of pro-Biafra agitators and other violent crimes.

Mr. Fejoku also used that opportunity to deny that the military shot and killed 22 unarmed pro-Biafran supporters during a prayer session in Aba.

The killing continues

The Nigerian Army and the police on May 30 admitted killing no fewer than five persons when members of IPOB and MASSOB trooped out across the South-East states in marches to commemorate the 49th anniversary of the declaration of the defunct Biafra Republic by late warlord, Odumegwu Ojukwu.

Activists said the crowds were unarmed and that many more people were killed than the security agencies are ready to admit.

But the army claimed that in killing the pro-Biafra activists and wounding several others, its troops acted in self-defence as well as in defence of lives and property of peace-loving Nigerians.

The Nigerian government is yet to investigate the killings.

We put most of the photographs gathered during investigations for this story in this link because they are too gory to be displayed without warning. Click on this link to view them. (Warning: Images are gory)

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30 Best Quotes of Late Muhammad Ali

He was known as one of the greatest boxers of all time and now Muhammad Ali has died on Friday aged 74.

The legend died after he was hospitalized June 2 with respiratory issues that were complicated by his Parkinson’s disease.

Muhammad Ali has won countless matches and Olympic medals since taking up boxing at the age of 12 up until he retired in 1981.

Throughout his 25 year career, he amassed 56 wins and only lost five times – and attributed some of his victories to getting inside opponents’ heads with his unparalleled trash talk.

As widely known for his quick skills and moves inside the ring, the man formerly named Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. was also known for the dozens of inspiring, sometimes hilarious quotes he said throughout his life.

Here are 30 quotes of the legend:

‘Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee, your hands can’t hit, what your eyes can’t see.’ – Prior to his fight against Foreman in 1974.

‘If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.’

‘I’m not the greatest; I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ’em out, I pick the round.’

‘It’s hard to be humble, when you’re as great as I am.’

‘To make America the greatest is my goal, so I beat the Russian and I beat the Pole. And for the USA won the medal of gold. The Greeks said you’re better than the Cassius of old.’ – He said this quote after he won the Olympic light-heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Games in Rome.

‘It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.’

‘Live every day like it’s your last because someday you’re going to be right.’

‘A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted thirty years of his life.’

‘I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale, handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick. I’m so mean I make medicine sick.’ – Ali said this before the historic Rumble in the Jungle match that took place in 1974 in Zaire against George Foreman.

‘I am so fast that last night I turned off the light switch and was in bed before the room was dark.’

‘Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beating each other up.’

‘Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn’t choose it, and I didn’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name, and I insist people using it when speaking to me and of me.’

‘I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’

‘It will be a killer and a chiller and a thriller when I get the gorilla in Manila.’ – Ali said this before the historic and legendary ‘Thrilla in Manila’ match against Joe Frazier in 1975.

‘Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.’ Daily Mail of London‘I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’

PMNews

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Highlights Og Governor Tambuwal’s Media Chat

Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal held a media chat as part of activities marking his first year in office. Below are highlights of issues he discussed.

View on democracy from 1999 and assessment of Muhammadu Buhari administration

We have to be grateful to God for the return of democracy to the country in 1999. However, we have to be frank to ourselves to say that the level of development in the country is not commensurate with the amount of funds the country received within the same period. We made huge profit from crude oil sales but the impact was not felt by the people as much as it should. From 2015 to now, this administration has made genuine efforts to change things but that effort has been hampered by lack of enough resources. The good thing is that there is sincerity of purpose from those in authority to right the wrongs of the past.

President Muhammadu Buhari has remained his honest self and to me, he has done well since his election. During the campaign period, his emphases were on three things security, tackling corruption and revamping the economy. Before he came on board, the corruption going on was mind-boggling. The economy was in terrible shape and I recalled when some of us in the House of Representatives raised alarm over what was going on, we were called names and branded enemies of the former regime. The recent removal of subsidy shows that the President is on top of things as far as the economy is concerned. If not for the trust and confidence the people have on President Buhari, the removal of the subsidy would have led to protests and breakdown of law and order. Now let us answer ourselves in objective manner, has the President not succeeded in addressing those things he emphasized during his campaign? Personally, I don’t think one year is enough time to judge the President but the effect of what he is doing is being felt across the land. Public officers are now more cautious in the manner they handle public funds.

Differences between Speakership and Governorship

Even though the two positions are important leadership positions, they are distinct of each other and demands are different. The adjustment has been gradual and the experience worthwhile. However, as I said, the demands of the two offices are not similar largely because in the National Assembly, I was representing a constituency from far away in Abuja. But in the executive arm, as the number one citizen of the state, I am presiding over the affairs of the state from the state capital. I am now working from within the midst of the people at all times. This gives me the opportunity to feel the pulse of their demands and work together with them to find lasting solutions to issues.

As Speaker of the House of Representatives, you are first among equals and you do not have guarantee of tenure. You may go into the Chamber for sitting and come out of it as ordinary member of the House. The decision to remain on that seat is at the discretion of 359 members who may decide to remove you from office at any given time without much fuse and at a very short notice. The demands of the two offices are enormous even though not many would want to return to their positions after their tenure in the House of Representatives. Just ask former Speakers Etteh (Patricia), Dimeji Bankole, Ghali Na’Abba and the rest. The same cannot be said of Governors.

Continuity of projects

This administration is a continuation of the last administration and we feel it is of paramount importance to complete ongoing projects. However, due to the precarious financial situation we find ourselves in the country, it became imperative to reassess our priorities. We’ve looked into all the projects and decided on priority ones to complete. Our pledge is that there will be no abandoned projects and we will start new ones at the appropriate time. We are working to improve our internally generated revenue and already, wide consultations are going on with experts on different areas of interest. Even though we are determined to improve revenue, we have to be conscious of the hard times. The economy is not in good shape and we are working round the clock to improve the situation.

Education sector revival

We declared a state of emergency in the sector because we felt extreme measures was required to tackle the problems there. In the last one year, we made set up a technical committee under the leadership of Professor Risqua Arabu Shehu to analyse all the problems and proffer solution. Few weeks back, we received an interim report and the committee has continued its work. We are determined to turn around the fortunes of the sector for the benefit of our people. In the meantime, we have intervened in various areas including recruitment of teachers, repairs and expansion of schools and provision of critical infrastructure where necessary. The technical committee recommended the employment of almost 10,000 teachers to fill the gap especially in primary schools. That is a huge number and from our estimation, we cannot source for the huge number from Sokoto alone, so we will employ from other states to fill the gap. We will do anything possible in moving our standard of education forward, to maintain better and productive citizens in the state. So state of emergency declared in the education sector will remain in place until all negative statistics are reversed. Let me add that for the desired progress to be made, the people should complement the efforts of government in funding and protection of facilities within their domains. Someone asked me the difference between the committees set up and headed by Risqua and that of Professor Attahiru Jega. While the Risqua-led committee is concerned with the revamping of education in Sokoto alone, that of jega is basically concerned with revamping tertiary institutions in Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi. We hope to pull resources together and help each other move the sector forward. We thank the two eminent scholars for agreeing to serve.

Agriculture

You know we have a competitive advantage when it comes to some selected crops like rice, wheat, tomato and onions. In the next harvesting season, we hope to be the number one state in the production of garlic, sesame seed and ginger. Generally, our farmers will testify to the fact that this administration has impacted positively in the sector in the last one year. We have purchased about 20,000 metric tonnes of assorted fertilizers worth over N1.2 billion for this year’s cropping season. We did same last year. The State Government has also intervened in the provision of water pumps, seedlings, drilling tube wells and machineries. Similarly, we have procured 1000 units of Tiller Machines for distribution to farmers. We recently visited China to particularly explore areas of cooperation for agricultural development of our dear state. Accordingly, an MOU was signed on Distance Aid Training to essentially train students on Grains Food Security with Henan University Technology via Polytechnic of Sokoto State. Similar agreement is on the construction of Agricultural Science and Technology Park in collaboration with Henan Province. The State Government has also signed an MOU with Camaco China – Africa Machinery Co-op that provide access for State to concessionary Chinese funding on the platform of the China-Africa Development Fund (CADF). Currently, Data Base Census is being conducted for all farmers in the State with a view to identifying real farmers and their categories to enable the State Government empower them correctly, and put in place proper budgeting for long-term planning.

Issue of power supply in Sokoto

We have suffered massive fall in the volume of power allocation to our state. Rather than wholeheartedly blame the power distribution companies, we looked inward and decided to complete the Independent Power Project embarked upon by the previous administration. It has reached 85 percent completion rate and we are determined to complete it to boost power supply in Sokoto. We’ve also attracted investment worth N3.3 billion from the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) to Sokoto and it has resulted in the building of three power substations with a capacity to carry 1500 KVA transformers. The transformer will in turn serve approximately 200 households in Gagi, Tambuwal and Farfaru. This will improve the capacity to receive more allocation distributed to our state. I want the people to be patient with us. They should know that the government has not abandoned them. We are working round the clock to fix the problem and very soon, the result of our effort will begin to be felt.

In addition, we are exploring avenue of tapping from renewable energy at our disposal. We have received submissions from various companies and we are doing due diligence to ensure we are not shortchanged. As soon as that process is completed, we will roll out our policy in that regard and work to realize set objectives.

Mind-boggling corruption at the local government level

It is true we have carried out series of verifications to sanitise the payroll and instill financial discipline in both the local government councils and the state civil service. The verification exercise is ongoing and I await the submission of their reports. Many have sent me messages saying we have dismissed them from their jobs. The idea is not to make things difficult for anyone but things cannot continue the way they are. The corruption in the third tier is simply mind-boggling. We have recovered N300 million within the first month of the verification from the LGAs. We have also found out in only one local government in the state, an official has sold 200 appointment letters to a contractor in
Zamfara State. This fraud was blown open when the contractor sent an SMS to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) complaining that his money had not been sent by the local government council. It is unfortunate because all the local governments had their payrolls padded with ghost workers. In the same vein, most of the workers in the local councils were idle and fraudulent. We found out that one staff was collecting salaries in four local governments.

Basically, we did not swore-in the newly-elected local government chairmen because we needed to sanitize the payroll before handing over to them. If we had sworn them in earlier, they would not have saved enough to pay their workers and carry out any project. As things are at the moment, we augmented their income in the last few months to enable them pay staff salaries. As things stand now, we will likely swear them in the next one week.

Trips and meetings outside Sokoto

I am happy this issue has come up because I need to make it clear that the trips I embarked upon were absolutely necessary. Many have questioned my regular meetings in Abuja but to be honest with you, that situation is not peculiar to Sokoto State alone. Left to me, I should be left to remain in Sokoto among my family and friends without going anywhere, but the demands of the office require me to do otherwise. I am aware that some people call me names, but to me, these are constructive criticisms. They have the right to question what their leaders do. So you have done nothing wrong if you criticise me. Citizens have the right to air their opinions on the activities of their leaders.

Another thing to be understood is that we came into office when there was the need to establish a certain level of political stability in the polity of the nation. Due to my previous position as the Number Four citizen of the country, I was involved in many of the consultations held to build a foundation for the success of the present administration. This is a national calling and it is not by my own design or making that I am being involved in seeking solutions to our national challenges. So in the spirit of national stability and cohesion, I accepted the offer to serve in such national engagements while at the same time governing the state. What I emphasized to my colleagues in government is that we must ensure governance at the state does not suffer in any way because of our national engagements. We are in a modern world where governance may not necessarily require physical presence. What is mostly required is my consent and sometimes my signature, and such trips had not negatively impacted on governance in my state.

Plans for 2019

In my view, it is wrong to bring up the issue of 2019 when we are just a year old in office. This is 2016 so the discussion about 2019 is absolutely unnecessary at this time. My philosophy is simple: during political season, discuss politics, during the time of governance; topic of discussion should be governance.

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Politicians, Civil Servants, Generals Steal N38tn in 17 Years

Nigeria has lost over N38tn through mismanagement, embezzlement and money laundering under successive administrations since democracy returned in 1999, estimates made by SUNDAY PUNCH have shown.

The figures were drawn from findings by anti-graft agencies and investigative panel reports on major economic scandals and financial crimes in the country in the last 17 years.

The investigation, which covered the Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan-led administrations, showed that most of the stolen funds have not been accounted for.

Of the over N39tn lost in the country’s economy, crude oil theft, official corruption and electoral campaign funding were responsible for a larger percentage of the loss.

The exchange rate of N130 to a dollar was used in the conversion of funds under the Obasanjo-led administration while N150 was adopted for those under the Jonathan-led administration, being the average official rates during the tenures.

N3tn – NNPC, NPDC unremitted funds

Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, now the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, had written former President Goodluck Jonathan, accusing the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation of failing to account for $49bn revenue, which should have been remitted to the Federation Account.

He recently said the corporation could only account for $29bn of the ‘missing’ fund. He said some oil companies paid taxes and royalties in oil, and the NNPC sold this oil on behalf of FIRS.

“No reasonable explanation for $20bn (NNPC);  $6bn was with Nigerian Petroleum Development Company ( a subsidiary of NNPC)  that had not got to the Federation Account to date,” Sanusi said.

These amounted to $20bn (N3tn) unremitted funds.

N2.3tn – Diverted arms procurement fund

In the course of investigating the alleged diversion of $2.1bn arms cash placed under the Office of the National Security Adviser, then headed by the immediate past NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had discovered that the total anti-Boko Baram insurgency money diverted by various personalities and agencies was over $15bn (N2.3tn).

Dasuki and several ex-military chiefs, including a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.); and a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (retd.), had been quizzed and are currently standing trial on charges relating to the alleged fraud.

N30tn – Oil theft, waivers, others

A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo had in 2015 challenged the then Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to give account of the N30tn allegedly stolen under her watch.

The former apex bank boss had alleged that the nation was in for a chaotic time as the economy had been grossly mismanaged by the minister. He added that if the prices of crude oil in the international market failed to rebound, Nigeria would face an unprecedented level of economic crisis, with horrible attendant hardships for the citizenry.

“Our public finance is haemorrhaging to the point that estimated over N30tn is missing or stolen or unaccounted for or simply mismanaged,” Soludo said.

The ex-CBN chief in a piece entitled, ‘Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the missing trillions,’ explained how N30tn was allegedly stolen under Okonjo-Iweala’s watch.

He said, “My estimate, madam, is that probably more than N30tn has either been stolen or lost or unaccounted for or simply mismanaged under your watchful eyes in the past four years. Since you claimed to be in charge, Nigerians are right to ask you to account. Think about what this amount could mean for the 112 million poor Nigerians or for our schools, hospitals, roads, etc.

“Soon, you will start asking the citizens to pay this or that tax, while some faceless ‘thieves’ are pocketing over $40m per day from oil alone.”

A Federal High Court in Lagos had last week ordered Okonjo-Iweala to account for the N30tn which Soludo claimed went missing under her watch.

Okonjo-Iweala has repeatedly denied the allegations, claiming they are politically motivated.

N8.5bn, N2.6bn – NIMASA frauds

The EFCC is investigating the current Chief of Logistics, Defence Headquarters, Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, for his alleged role in an N8.5bn scam involving the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.

Atewe was, until last year, the Commander of the Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

The EFCC is also set to re-arraign a former Director-General of the NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi; Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuga, alleged to be Atewe’s co-conspirators.

Akpobolokemi is currently standing a separate trial before a Federal High Court in Lagos for an alleged fraud of N2.6bn.

N17.3bn, N23bn – Diezani’s bribes

The EFCC is currently investigating and prosecuting some bank chiefs for allegedly helping a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to launder $115m (N17.3bn) and another $153m (N23bn) during the build-up to the presidential election.

Some of the beneficiaries of the funds have been indentified, including politicians and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

N3bn– SURE-P scams

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission has begun a probe into the activities of directors and senior officials of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.

The probe was in connection with N3bn fraud allegedly involving the Federal Ministry of Finance and the SURE-P Graduate Internship Scheme. The SURE-P GIS is a component of the SURE-P domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Finance.

The money, it was learnt, was meant to pay the allowances of 17,500 participants for eight months, which never got to them.

SURE-P was set up by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan in February 2012 after nationwide protests followed the hike in the prices of petroleum products.

President Muhammadu Buhari scrapped the programme in November last year.

N56bn – Amount spent on COJA

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was alleged to have spent N56bn on the 8th All Africa Games held in 2003, according to a petition written against him to the EFCC by an anti-corruption group, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders.

In the petition, CACOL alleged that, “When the 8th All Africa Games was held in Abuja in 2003, it was discovered that most of the disbursements made did not deliberately follow the established due process. COJA did not have a ready book of accounts that could be reviewed. Throughout the games, COJA had no way of tracking its costs and encumbrances.

“Most of the contracts were found to be inflated, at an average of 500%. For example, boxing gloves cost US$20 in open market for a pair but COJA bought a pair for US$272. The wrestling mat (12 x 12) costs $8,000 but COJA bought it for $34,761, etc. At the end of the day, more than N56bn could not be accounted for by Obasanjo; his son, Gbenga; and Amos Adamu, the Executive Director of COJA.”

N2tn  – Power sector revamp fund

The Obasanjo-led administration was alleged to have wasted the sum of $16bn (N2tn) on revamping the power sector. The Ndudi Elumelu-led House of Representatives’ Committee on Power, which investigated the government’s spending on the sector, noted that the amount spent did not yield “commensurate result.” The committee recommended that Obasanjo should be called to account for the money.

N300bn – ‘Missing’ fund from works ministry

One of Obasanjo’s close allies before they eventually fell out and ex-Minister of Works and Housing, Chief Tony Anenih, was indicted by the National Assembly for the sum of N300bn missing from his ministry. The missing money was widely believed to have been used to pay off 2003 election “expenses.”

In October 2009, a Senate committee issued a report on its investigation into the use of more than N300bn in the transport sector during Obasanjo’s administration. The committee recommended the prosecution of 13 former ministers, including Anenih, saying he allegedly awarded contracts without budgetary provision.

N56bn – Corruption in the NPA

There is also the Nigeria Ports Authority board scandal, which the EFCC investigated and unearthed a N56bn fraud by the former members of the board of directors. Obasanjo was accused of failing to institute any process towards recovering the alleged stolen money.

N33bn – Botched Lagos-Kano rail project

There was an alleged mismanagement of $250m (N33bn) initial payment in the rail system contract worth $8.3bn, which was awarded to a Chinese company, China Civil Engineering Construction Company, but has yet to take off. The project, which was expected to kick off in 2006 under a 25-year programme, was awarded by the government, while it had already paid for the first phase of the standard gauge line spanning over 1,315km from Lagos to Kano.

Stolen funds recovery

The Buhari-led administration has embarked on a mission to recover loot and assets kept in foreign lands. The government has also begun mass investigation of financial crimes and prosecution of suspects.

Indications had also emerged that the Central Bank of Nigeria was awaiting directive from the AGF before publishing the names of those that have looted the treasury.

A top official of the bank had hinted that the publication of the names of treasury looters was one matter the apex bank was approaching with caution owing to the litigation process involved.

The source said since the issue involved had litigation implications, there was no way the apex bank would publish the list of treasury looters without first securing a clearance from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.

When asked if the CBN had formally written to the AGF for clearance, the official said “that is being handled at the highest level.”

But Buhari, in an interview he granted some journalists before he departed London where he attended an Anti-Corruption Summit organised by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently, promised to disclose to Nigerians the amount his government has so far recovered from those who looted the nation’s treasury on May 29 (today).

He said, “So far, what has come out; what has been recovered in whatever currency from each ministry, department and individual; I intend, on the 29th, to speak on this. This is because of all Nigerians are getting from the mass media; because of the number of people arrested either by the EFCC or DSS. But we want to make a comprehensive report on the 29th.”

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, had said the government of the United Kingdom had shown its commitment towards repatriating funds stolen from Nigeria.

Malami said the UK expressed commitment towards repatriating Nigeria’s looted funds during a bilateral meeting between the two nations.

He said though there was no estimate of how much of the Nigeria’s funds stashed in the UK, but “it has been compiled for certainty.”

Credit: Punch

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My 12 Months As President – Buhari

Twelve months after he swept into office on an euphoric tide of Nigeria’s desire for change, President Muhammadu Buhari is a man beset on every side  by problems with no easy solutions. The economy is in trouble with Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele warning of a looming recession. The naira rate has crashed against major global currencies. In the North East, the Boko Haram insurgency has weakened considerably. But that spot of good news is offset by the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta, with a new group called the Avengers bombing oil pipelines. In the South East, a dormant Biafran agitation has been revived.

But to look at him, you wouldn’t know that Buhari is a leader confronted with all these troubles. On Thursday, May 27, just 48 hours to the first anniversary of the administration, he was scheduled to speak with interview teams from selected national newspapers at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

As we wait our turn in one of the conference rooms, he is ushered in with scant ceremony by the aide-de-camp. ‘Gentlemen, let rise for Mr. President’ and we are up and running. After introductions by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, we get down to business.

Buhari has a tough guy image but is soft spoken and hardly raises his voice above a reasonable cadence. But one thing anyone who has ever

interviewed him, would not miss is his dry wit. That jocular side was on display intermittently during and after the interview session.

He spoke on the bumpy transition from the last government, shocking discoveries in office and the huge burdens which face his administration going forward. At the session with Buhari were Editor, Sunday Nation, FESTUS ERIYE, and Managing Editor, Northern Operation, YUSUF ALLI.

Looking at the last one year, how would you assess what has happened in terms of your expectations when you took office, the challenges you met and the progress made or lack of it?

You will recall that during our campaign, we identified three problems of our country. First, was security  the situation especially in the North-East then. Second, was the economy and third was corruption. In the North-East, when we came in Boko Haram occupied 14 local governments and they had hoisted their flags and called the areas their Caliphate. But I can assure you that Boko Haram is not holding any local government presently. They had progressed to using IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and by taking on soft targets  people in mosques, churches, market places, motor parks, killing them in tens, twenties and fifties … that you all know about, and killing school children.  So, I think we have made substantial progress in that area. If you know anybody living in Maiduguri or Yobe, he or she will tell you that people are going back to their homes; those who moved to Kano, Kaduna or even here in Abuja, are now moving back and they are trying to continue with their lives.

On the economy, again, we were unlucky. We are now a mono-culture economy and everybody is dependent on oil revenue. The oil price collapsed and we were exposed. From 1999 to 2014, the average price of Nigerian crude that was sold was $100 per barrel, but when we came in, it plummeted to about $30 per barrel, and now it is between $40 and $50 per barrel.

At some stage, I got the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to give me a list of the things we have been spending our foreign exchange on and it showed food items such as tomato puree, grains, rice, wheat and even toothpicks. I didn’t believe it and I still don’t believe it because if he said we were building so many factories, buying essential raw materials and spare parts machineries, I would have believed it.

But to show me that what we were consuming majorly just food items? I believe that Nigerians from the eastern part of this country, from the west and north, about 60 per cent of them eat what they produce because they cannot afford to buy foreign food. So what was happening was that people who had plenty of naira just filled the papers that they were importing food, were given foreign exchange and they go and invest the money outside in whatever form.

My belief was strengthened when we got into trouble about the import of petroleum products. We conducted a survey and found out that one-third of what Nigerian marketers claimed to be bringing in, they were not bringing in. They were just signing the papers and taking the money out. So people were doing the same thing with food products. But I think subsequently when we get to the court with some people, you will hear more about it.

The third one was on corruption, I would speak about that in two days’ time (May 29) and also on subsequent attempts to prosecute where we have found evidence; about where the monies have gone and the different banks either here or outside the country. We would let you know.

We know that your party did not support the idea of a National Conference when it was held, but one year after, it is like the clamour is rising again given some of our challenges such as security and the economy. People say all these issues were addressed by the National Conference report. Would you have a rethink by going back to see what is good in that report?

No, I don’t want to tell different stories. I advised against the issue of National Conference. You would recall that ASUU was on strike then for almost nine months. The teachers in the tertiary institutions were on strike for more than a year, yet that government had about N9 billion to organise that meeting (National Conference) and some (members) were complaining that they hadn’t even been paid.

I never liked the priority of that government on that particular issue, because it meant is that the discussions on what the National Assembly ought to do was more important than keeping our children in schools. That is why I haven’t even bothered to read it or asked for a briefing on it and I want it to go into the so-called archives.

The progress that has been made in the fight against Boko Haram is widely acknowledged not only in Nigeria but outside the country. But as we have made progress with Boko Haram, other serious security challenges have arisen. You have the issue of the herdsmen and the killings; you have the Niger Delta Avengers; the Biafra agitation; and incessant kidnapping. Can Nigeria’s security infrastructure deal with these multiple fronts that are opening up?

To speak in the order the question was asked, on the herdsmen, note that Gaddafi ruled Libya for 43 years. During his 43 years, Libya was a small country in terms of population, but very big in terms of resources. They have oil reserves – light crude like Nigeria’s crude. But he was quite generous to some of the countries in the Sahel. He took their young men and trained them. But unfortunately, he didn’t train them to become electricians or plumbers, bricklayers or mechanics. They were trained to shoot and kill. When that administration was removed, of course, those who removed his administration knew that he stabilised his country by using these people from the Sahel. So they pursued them and they went back home.

You know what happened in Burkina Faso, Mali, and a few of them we believe are around the northeast. I am sure you know that here in Nigeria, our border with our northern neighbour Niger is at least 1,500km long. It is open country and you cannot stop donkeys from crossing, you cannot stop camels, neither can you stop people from crossing the borders. Only God can effectively guard these borders. So, some of them found their way here.

Even on the recent herdsmen (killings), I asked one of the governors if the herdsmen were fighting perennially with the farmers and he said there was a difference. This means that these people were either hired to come and fight and worsen the ethnic relationship in Nigeria or they have no profession other than fighting for a fee. But these are just reports that still have to be confirmed later. So that is what I can answer about the herdsmen and I think the law enforcement agencies are working very hard to identify them.

Now about the militants in the South-South: when we came in, I got one of the senior officers (in the army), a Major-General, and asked him to revisit the agreement the late President Umaru Yar’Adua signed with them. I said he should get a copy of the gazette so that we can see the agreement to know what stage we were in. I haven’t received a comprehensive report on that yet, but I believe the officer is working hard. I saw him responding to some of your colleagues (journalists) a couple of days ago in the papers.

Meanwhile, I have told the military and law enforcement agencies that the promise this government made was that this country has to be secured before it can be effectively managed. So, we can’t wait for that report before the military re-organises itself and secures the Niger Delta area. So, I think very soon they would do some serious operations there.

As for Biafra, those looking for Biafra have a tough job. A lot of them that have participated in the demonstrations (recently) were not born and didn’t know what people like us went through (fighting Biafra) by walking from the northern border to initially Abakaliki, then came back and started from Awka to Abagana and to Onitsha. We lost our friends, our relatives and about two million Nigerians were killed. They thought it was a joke. So I think they have a problem.

Kidnapping is a very serious thing like the operations of the militants where they are destroying installations in the Niger Delta. I was going round the world telling people that we are going to secure Nigeria and by our performance in the North-East, they believe us and people are prepared to come and invest in Nigeria. But nobody would invest in an insecure environment.

Those who had been in Nigeria for so many years can conduct feasibility studies. But why would they put money paying militants or paying for corruption? This means with all the goodwill we are winning, we may not be able to benefit in the long run because of the kidnapping and the actions of the militants. So it is a top priority for this government to address once we settle down to make sure that we deal with militants. We will deal with kidnappers also.

There have been so many pronouncements by your government that once the budget is passed and assented by you, that we would see progress on the economy. But even the budget assumptions today are threatened, that is from where you expect to get your revenue to implement your projects and even the N500 million needed for the palliatives. Oil production has dropped to almost half due to militancy; even revenue coming from taxes is declining. How are you going to assure Nigerians that this budget which the government is hinging its programmes on, is going to be implemented in such a way that it trickles down to the masses?

That is a major challenge for us. It is not going to be easy to complement the revenue as we promised in the budget. I think I mentioned initially that the market plummeted from an average of $100 per barrel for crude oil from 1999 to 2014, and suddenly went down to $30 per barrel and now it is between $40 and $50 per barrel.

I was constrained to approach the Governor of the Central Bank to find out how we spend our foreign exchange. When he went and checked the records, he found out mostly food bills such as wheat, rice, flour, bread and toothpicks. Nigerians are so sophisticated that they use only Chinese toothpicks! I was shocked. I didn’t believe it and I still don’t believe it because I think if we can sit down, reflect and try to be fair to Nigerians, people from the east, west and north…60 per cent of them eat what they grow; be it either garri, yam or grains. I know they also spend money on cooking oil.

So who is taking all the billions of dollars in terms of foreign food imports? What is happening is that people are just buying dollars and taking the money outside the country. My belief was strengthened when the price of oil fell and the marketers were insisting that they want foreign exchange to import fuel. We tried to conduct a survey and we found out that one-third of what they were claiming was fraudulent. They just stamped papers and claimed the money.

Still on the economy, the new song is diversification. But using the 2016 budget as a guide, it is surprising that agriculture which is the new hope of this country has just N75 billion, both recurrent and capital expenditure, allocated to it in the budget. Solid minerals is even less. If agriculture is going to be the saviour of tomorrow, are you convinced that with that budgetary allocation we shall get it right?

Well, you are absolutely right.  You are forcing me to go back to the issue of budget which was difficult to overcome. I am sure you noted the issue of padding… I didn’t know of it until recently, although I started being in government since 1975. The Minister of Budget and Planning earned my respect during the budget sessions because I tried to follow up on what he was doing  taking presentations from each ministry. Having done that, he wrote a comprehensive memo to the council of ministers, which I presided over and some corrections were made by the ministers. So, we thought it was completed and I was ready to go and bow and deliver it to the National Assembly as the constitution has directed.

But what I did not know was that the real thing had been removed and that they (legislature) put their own. For instance, the Minister of Health was sitting before a committee (at his budget defence). I wasn’t even sure of the committee and they were very excited and happy with what they were doing. They then asked the minister to defend his budget. So they handed over to him his supposed budget and he looked at it and said, ‘I can’t defend what I didn’t present. This was not what I presented.’ Instantly I was alerted.

Also a number of the ministers that were asked to defend their budget, it was not what they presented that they were asked to defend. So what happened is that some group somewhere at the National Assembly had done their own budgeting and they called it padding.

Meanwhile, I became governor of the North-East made up of six states in August 1975, later I went on to become the Petroleum Minister and then Head of State, and I never heard of padding until now. So I said whoever is linked to the padding has no room in this administration. Even at that, the minister came back to ask me to sign it so that the government can move on.

But I said I don’t normally sign what I don’t understand or what I don’t agree with. He said the government has to move on and I said okay. Before he left, I said ‘If you insist, I would sign because I trust you. But I would put you in front of me (if anything goes wrong). So whoever wants anything, I would push to you.’

So he went back (to the National Assembly) and not long after, he came and said I shouldn’t sign, and that took us another six weeks before they brought back the paper and I signed. This was because the government decided that we should have at least 30 per cent allocated to capital projects.

We can’t help our country and our state of development year after year with more than 90 per cent on overheads and no capital projects. So we decided to have at least 30 per cent on capital expenditure. So on the observation you made, don’t worry; the Central Bank alone has assisted by giving more than N200 billion to agriculture.

Are we really close to an economic recession and in what ways can all your foreign trips and the foreign investments you are anticipating mitigate this looming recession. Also, what would you do with the loot recovered from former public officials?

With what happened to us so far and what I mentioned to you, I wouldn’t doubt a recession. I have just told you that from 1999 to 2014, Nigeria’s crude was selling on the average of $100 per barrel. These are facts you can cross check. The average production was about two million barrels per day. If you take about half a million for consumption at home, about 445,000 per day, which was what was officially budgeted for local refineries, only to be complemented by marketers.

But suddenly when the oil price plummeted, we looked left, right and centre, and no arrangement was made to support the economy if such a thing happened. That was why when I called to know what we were spending our foreign exchange on and it was on food items.

However, low-income earners cannot afford imported food; people that are not working who are the majority live on what the farmers produce. So, really, it is frightening. I agree with you that the prospect of going into recession is frightening and I believe that the leadership of this country should bear the consequence for not meeting up. I blame the elite for not alerting the other government sufficiently for us to realise that if anything happens to oil, we would be in trouble.

What is my solution? It is to advise the Nigerian elite to, for once, be patriotic. Let them work very hard to support this country. Not only politicians, but for leadership at every level to take responsibility to make sure that the economy of this country is resuscitated.

The anti-corruption fight by the EFCC and the probe of arms funds has shown some of the funds were allocated to the PDP campaign. But your critics have accused you of probing PDP campaign funds while not investigating your own campaign funds. They say you have people in your government that allegedly used state resources to sponsor your campaign. How will you explain this?

I don’t know whether I have some official protection. If I don’t have it, why haven’t you started the investigation?

The constitution gives you immunity.

I see, very good. (General laughter). But then, it doesn’t extend to all the executives and party leaders; the party leaders are there. If anybody has received $100 million to give to the party, I think he should be asked to tell us where he got the $100 million. I know those we would eventually successfully prosecute, they wouldn’t leave it, neither will let their friends leave it.

We do not believe if we were so reckless we any would get away with it. I don’t believe it. Do you remember the three and half years when I was in charge of the petroleum ministry, have you forgotten the $2.8 billion issue? If you have forgotten, I haven’t. Have you forgotten the PTF (Petroleum Trust Fund)? In the PTF, at one stage we had more than N53 billion at a time, we planned and spent it. It was investigated subsequently.

So I assure you that I feel perfectly safe. But nobody is perfect, only God is perfect. But let me tell you, from being governor of the six states (the old North Eastern State) which was only for seven months, to the Petroleum Ministry, to Head of State, and to PTF, I tried not to expose myself, and I hope God will continue to help me.

Nigeria is said to be difficult to govern. Did you find it to be so?

There are a lot of problems in the country. You have insurgency in the North-East. But how did Boko Haram start? If you could recall, it was like a group of political thugs, and along the line a young charismatic leader called Mohammed Yusuf emerged. That young man assumed that reputation in the North East because of the way he preached. One afternoon the group wanted to go and bury one of their own. Most of them were on motorcycles; some wore helmets and some did not. Then, there were the military patrol vehicles. The normal thing was for them to wear helmets, but the group had a way of wearing their headgears, which made it difficult to wear helmets. Instead of arresting them and taking them to court to pay a fine of some N250 the patrol team just shot six of them. Hell was let loose. The situation went out of control for the police, and the military took over. Mohammed Yusuf went into hiding; the military looked for him, arrested and handed him over to the police, and he was murdered. That’s why we now have Boko Haram. I know all these because I was once a governor of North-Eastern State and I follow the political developments there closely.

For unemployment, things became clearer and compounded when we became a mono-culture economy. We abandoned agriculture, left solid minerals, and everybody rushed to the town to get oil money. Now, we’ve found out that that oil money is not available.

Then, corruption is what we are going through now. How can you take $2.1 billion meant to fight insurgency and share among yourselves and think that nothing should happen? Not to talk of when political money is being raised for elections and the Central Bank, NNPC, Customs funds are where the funds are collected from.

We’ve made some progress in recovering this money, which I promised I will tell the nation, just to show Nigerians that we haven’t given up and have no intention of giving up. We’re giving the people the opportunity of fair trial. They take the money and pay into some persons’ accounts, and there are signatures of some persons who admit that they had taken the money.

Somebody comes and calls another, saying ‘you’re a member of this party?’ The other person responds by saying ‘yes’. Then, he’s told ‘take a N100 million to go and keep,’ and the other person doesn’t ask any questions. You take a N100 million and disappear, and subsequently you complain that you have received money for doing nothing?

Considering the hike in the price of fuel and the devaluation of the Nigeria which have led to hardships, what would you tell Nigerians to give them the hope that things will be better?

In 1984, we were advised to devalue the naira and withdraw subsidy – whatever their perception of subsidy was in Nigeria. We even had subsidy on flour. The IMF and World Bank talked about subsidy removal. My argument has been that those who devalue their currencies have developed economies where there is local production and they export the excess. They have good infrastructure. So they devalue their currencies to sell their products outside their shores, and employ their people.

We claim to import food, but this is a lie. People just take the money out of the country. How many factories have we built? So I refused to devalue the Naira. They talk about petroleum subsidy. I say what do they mean by subsidy? They say Nigeria’s petroleum is so cheap that it encourages smuggling into our neighbouring countries: Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria.

But I know the four refineries we built could produce 450,000 barrels. We have 20 depots … we didn’t borrow a kobo. So even if we put something on top and pay the cost of refining and travels to filling stations and small overhead, we’ll still be selling at a good price. But they say there’s a lot of smuggling.

I said these countries where they claim petrol is being smuggled to can’t consume more than what one city in Nigeria consumes. I was asked how I knew, and I said, for three and a half years I was Commissioner for Petroleum under Obasanjo. At the time I was removed naira exchanged for three dollars. Now you need N350 to get a dollar!

I challenge Nigerian economists to tell me what benefits Nigerian has earned from the devaluation so far. How many factories have we built by killing the naira? I have to reluctantly give up because the so-called economists come and talk things to me, and when I raise issues they talk over my head instead of inside my head.

For us to lose over N300 – every year we’re losing the value of the currency by N100)… what for? Let them tell me how many factories they’ve built. I find myself in a very difficult state because the economists cannot tell me why we should continue to devalue our Naira. People say import, and we find out that we are just importing food! We’re now planning to stop importation of rice, wheat, maize in three years’ time.

On the value of the naira I’m still agonising over it; that the naira should be reduced to such a disgraceful level over the last 30 years. I need to be educated on this. But I’m not running this country alone. I’m under pressure and we’ll see how we can accommodate the economists.

What are you thinking about privatisation of refineries?

I believe in privatisation, but I believe before you do it you have to look at your state of development as a nation. The first refinery in Port Harcourt was built to refine 60,000 barrels per day. It was upgraded to refine 100,000 barrels per day. Another one was built in Port Harcourt to refine 150,000 barrels per day. So Port Harcourt alone has the capacity to refine 250,000 per day of Nigerian crude. So you’re not importing anything. As Commissioner for Petroleum I signed the contract for Warri to refine 100,000 barrels per day; Kaduna, 100,000 barrels per day. We laid pipelines up to Maiduguri, Gusau, all over the country… We took tankers off the road, and then some greedy people in this country took over and now all the refineries are not working. Nigeria has to go cap in hand, like a non-oil producing country and buy fuel and bring into Nigeria.

With this background in mind, do you want us to privatize our infrastructure as scrap? So, we’re just starting to get them repaired. We want to make them work so that we don’t sell them as scrap. We can’t spend so much money to put up the refineries, just to sell them as scrap. I think that will be disservice to the country. Let’s repair them and negotiate with them to sell them at good prices. We don’t want them to dictate how much we sell fuel in this country after we’ve sold the refineries to private investors.

There are many initiatives to rebuild the North-East. Why can’t we have one cohesive approach in this regard?

If you could recall, during the week I was sworn in, I was invited to G7 meeting in Germany. I was impressed, but surprised that I was the first item on the agenda. I was told to brief them on the security situation in Nigeria and on the North-East. I spoke, and all of them promised to help Nigeria.

When I returned I told the governors of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States to make a survey of the entire infrastructure destroyed by Boko Haram: schools, local government headquarters, health centers and broken bridges. They did and put costs to them. I sent it to the headquarters of G7.

Then I learnt of  the T.Y. Danjuma Committee. He contributed $10 million and Aliko Dangote contributed something substantial. So we reinforced the committee and Danjuma is in charge of it. We persuaded him to stay. We drafted the legal instrument that would give them the powers to spend that money. I sent the request to AGF. He sent me a draft to give to Danjuma.

Instead it went into some hands and what I got when it returned was virtually another government, with many governors and important people involved. So, I feared that all that money would finish on overheads. I returned to the original draft from the Ministry of Justice to see if we could put few people from Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi and Taraba to handle the rebuilding of the North-East.

Each of the governors should send directors or some officials from ministries of works, health, education, governors’ offices, and form committees. So whoever comes to help from Nigeria or outside would work with these people under the control of the Danjuma committee.

If anybody wants to help he would be taken to locations and he would decide what to do. If United Nations identifies a project they will go there and do it. We have plenty of retired but not tired people who could manage things like that. It will take another two weeks or more before the committee members will be announced. But I don’t want a big organization that will just consume the resources but not produce anything.

Are you satisfied with the performance of your team and do we expect changes?

I expect to hear from you. But look at what has been happening: after the election, I went to thank Jonathan for what he did  conceding defeat. A former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), told me he had an experience in handover and asked if he should advise me. I said, yes. He said committees in the ministries met and wrote handover notes and Obasanjo set up transition committees to work with each ministry and at the end Obasanjo took whatever he wanted from the reports. I agreed. Jonathan agreed.

When I came to sit down, Jonathan’s ministers complained, saying ‘why would Jonathan allow Buhari to take over government before he is sworn in’. They refused to cooperate. So I took over without knowing what Jonathan’s government contained.

After we were sworn in, I began to debrief the Permanent Secretaries, taking two ministries per day, to just try and find out what they had. They had 42 ministers; the economy had collapsed. We reduced 42 ministries to 24 and we had to ask some permanent secretaries to go on several grounds.

Credit: The Nation

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Fuel Price Hike: How Nigeria Wasted N10trn On Subsidy

THE controversy that preceded the recent announcement by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, who doubles as the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, of government’s decision to scrap the Petroleum Support Fund, otherwise known as fuel subsidy, raises questions as to the economic value the people derive from the acclaimed payment.

Although this came on the heels of prolonged scarcity of the product which sold between N120 and N250 per litre, depending on your location, most people were opposed to the hike in the price of the commodity.

Review of subsidy regime

In mid-2015, the Nigerian Extractive Transparency Initiative, NEITI, released its audit report indicating that the Federal Government spent about N4.5 trillion between 2006 and 2012, a period of seven years, as subsidy on petroleum products imported into the country.

According to the then Executive Secretary of NEITI, Zainab Ahmed, the Audit Report of 2012 showed that a total of N1.355 trillion was processed for payment as subsidy.

Out of this amount, N690 billion was actually paid, putting a debt burden of N665 billion on the government.

“From our reports, the amount of money that Nigeria has paid so far on subsidy in the last seven years stands at N4.5 trillion. The breakdown shows that N816.554 billion was paid between 2006 and 2008, N3 trillion between 2009 and 2011 and N690 billion in 2012,” he disclosed.

The auditing agency, however, lamented the gross misappropriation of funds, adding that such amount is more than enough to repair the country’s refineries or build new ones, while insisting on the removal of oil subsidy.

In a similar development, Dr. Kachikwu while speaking on how much the country had spent in subsidising fuel in recent time, said an average of N1 trillion per year is paid as fuel subsidy in the last five years despite mounting debts and infrastructure deficit.

The figure

By implication, within a period of nine years, which is between 2006 and 2015, the country spent close to N10 trillion on fuel subsidies. Unfortunately, Nigerians cannot boastfully say they have truly benefited from subsidised petroleum products. As noted by the Minister of State, the country spent the huge amount on fuel subsidy in the face of mounting local and foreign debt as well as infrastructural deficit. But as highlighted by Zainab, the amount spent on subsidy in seven years, is good enough to repair the country’s faulty refineries and build new ones.

She emphasized that it was time for the Federal Government to remove oil subsidy, adding that the financial commitment to subsidy has grossly impacted on the national purse.

History of subsidy removal

Successive governments in Nigeria have always insisted that the country could ill afford the huge subsidy paid on petroleum products, while alleging that the money usually go into private pockets at the end of the day. Therefore, government’s position is that it would be better if the subsidy is done away with to foreclose a few cabal from feeding fat at the expense of majority of Nigerians.

Fuel price increase, otherwise tagged removal of subsidy, in the country dates back to 1978 when government first increased the price to 15 kobo per litre from 10 kobo per litre. In 1990 the government further increase the price to 60 kobo per litre, and two years later, precisely 1992, an additional 10 kobo raised the price to 70 kobo per litre. In 1993 it was jerked up to N3.25, and further to N11.00 per litre in 1994.

The commodity enjoyed some stability until mid-1999 when based on the claim of subsidy removal, the government moved the price to N20 per litre and by 2000 increased it further to N22.00 per litre.

Barely a year after, in 2001, the commodity’s price went up to N26 per litre where it enjoyed some level of stability until 2003 before it went up to N40, with the usual claim that the subsidy had been removed. Before President Olusegun Obasanjo left office, he jerked up the price of petrol to, first, N65 per litre and later to over N100 per litre.

It is on record that when the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua assumed office, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, resisted the increase and forced him to revert to the N65 per litre.

In January 2012, the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan attempted to remove the acclaimed subsidy but this was stoutly resisted  and the commodity which was billed to sell for N97 per litre was  later pegged at N87 per litre.

Nigerians have now been asked to buy the product  at a peak price of N145 per litre. Government said its decision in this regard is informed by  the fact that despite the decline in the price of crude oil in the international market, marketers are finding it increasingly difficult importing refined petroleum products due to scarcity of foreign exchange.

Setting the stage for removal

Prior to the announcement of the new pump price of N145 per litre, the Federal Government had convened a meeting of various stakeholders in Aso Rock. The meeting was said to have been presided over by Yemi Osibanjo, the Vice President, and had in attendance the leadership of the Senate, House of Representatives, Governors Forum, and Labour unions, including the NLC, the Trade Union Congress, TUC; the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN.

However, the duo of the NLC and TUC have refuted the claim that they participated in the meeting.

Nevertheless, it was reported that the said meeting, among other things, reviewed the current fuel scarcity and supply difficulties in the country and the exorbitant prices being paid by Nigerians for the product which has continued to enjoy discrepancies in prices across both major and independent marketers and hawkers of these products, popularly called black marketers.

At the meeting, Dr. Kachikwu noted that the main reason the problem had persisted in the past was the inability of importers of petroleum products to source foreign exchange at the official rate due to the massive decline of foreign exchange earnings of the Federal Government. As a result, private marketers have been unable to meet their approximate 50 percent portion of total national supply of petrol.

The meeting, according to the Minister, concluded that in order to increase and stabilise the supply of the product, any Nigerian is now free to import the product, subject to existing quality specifications and other guidelines issued by regulatory agencies.

Consequently, this means that all oil marketers now have the privilege to import fuel on the basis of forex procured from secondary sources but subject to the template of pricing approved by Petroleum Products Pricing Agency, PPPRA.

Bitter truth

Analysts have argued that since the Minister’s statement, heavens have not fallen in Nigeria long known for its antipathy towards any form of fuel subsidy removal. Such advocates believe that the refusal of Nigerians to react in the usual way is an indication that the citizens are now  tired, having gravitated from one crisis to another.

More importantly, the masses have endured untold hardship over the lingering fuel scarcity and prevailing power crisis in the country. All these may have weakened the citizenry, making them not predisposed to giving the government any spirited fight over the fuel price increase.  But with over N1 trillion expected to be saved from the removal of subsidy, government is being urged to make sure that the refineries work.

Credit: Vanguard

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Why Nigeria Was Quick To Trumpet The Chibok Rescue

By Tomi Oladipo

After two years of near silence, it was big news this week when the first of the missing Chibok schoolgirls was rescued by army-backed vigilantes.

In the past, the Nigerian military has claimed to have found some of the girls, before backtracking.

After their kidnapping by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in 2014, the then-Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh, famously insisted the army knew where the girls were and would bring them back soon.

That of course did not happen. Western allies also reportedly complained that Nigeria did not act on intelligence they had provided.

All this criticism might explain why the army would want to show how their operations had resulted in the freedom of one of the group.

Official statements said the freed Chibok Girl had been rescued in a military operation.

But a source told the BBC she said she was found by a vigilante group in a village where she had sought refuge from Boko Haram.

It was from there she was taken into army custody, and the Nigerian government sprung into action.

After being reunited with her family, the girl was handed over to the Borno State government and then flown to the capital, Abuja, to meet President Muhammadu Buhari and appear before the world’s media.

By this time, photos were circulating of her with her four-month-old baby and a man who claimed to be her husband.

Some critics were outraged that she could have found love with a man who could have been one of her captors.

She says the man was a captive who was forced to fight for Boko Haram and was made her husband before he absconded and escaped with her.

Others also questioned why the spotlight needed to be shone on her so soon after her ordeal.


The conversations were soon interrupted by a further announcement from the army – that it had found another Chibok girl.

Coming so soon after the news of the first one, there was seemingly little room to doubt the story.

The army named her and released a photo as proof. But questions soon arose.

The army said she was in her first year of secondary school at the time of her abduction, but it was well known that the girls who had inspired the Bring Back Our Girls campaign had all been final year students.

Representatives of the missing girls’ parents said they did not recognise her and that she was not on their missing list. 

It soon turned out that she was indeed a student at the same school, but Boko Haram seized her at a different time and location.

This raised more questions still because. while 97 women and children were also rescued, it was she who immediately shot into the limelight.

She will most likely now fade into obscurity. The others who were saved remain faceless and will possibly end up in a camp for displaced people.

It appears that despite the progress the military has made in fighting Boko Haram, they realised the world was more interested in the Chibok Girls.

The media has made little of army reports that troops had rescued almost 12,000 abductees from Boko Haram between February and April, including a group of 10,000 refugees stranded near the border with Cameroon.

Those people had had no one to campaign for them.

Culled from BBC

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Full Details Of 2016 Budget Based On Ministries And Parastatals

The details of the 2016 budget broken down into the various ministries and parastatals has been made public by SaharaReporters.

According to the report, these budgets have not been distributed for the public’s use, but is being published in attempt to generate dialogue between Nigerians on spending nationwide.

It said the aims is to provide this information to the public so that they can hold their elected representatives and public servants accountable.

The following budgets are available for viewing (please note that many documents have both a BUDGET SUMMARY tab and a LINE ITEM tab which can be accessed at the bottom of each document). To search for specific items select ‘Find’ in the Edit bar at top of Google sheet.

 

All 2016 Zonal and Constituency Development Projects

Ministry of Agriculture

Auditor General

Budget and National Planning

Code of Conduct Bureau

Code of Conduct Tribunal

Ministry of Communication and Technology

Consolidated Revenue Fund

Ministry of Education

Ministry of Environment

Federal Civil Service Commission

Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory

Federal Character Commission

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Fiscal Responsibility Commission

Ministry of Health

Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission

Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission

Ministry of Information and Culture

Ministry of Interior

Ministry of Justice

Ministry of Labour

Ministry of Defense

Ministry of Finance

Ministry of Petroleum Resources

Office of the National Security Adviser

Ministry of the Niger Delta

National Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission

Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation

Police Service Commission

Population Commission

Office of the President (Line Item)

Office of the President (Summary)

Revenue Mobilization, Allocation, and Fiscal Commission

Ministry of Science and Technology

Secretary to the Government of the Federation

Ministry of Solid Minerals

Federal Ministry of Special Duties SGF

Ministry of Trade and Investment

Ministry of Transportation

Ministry of Water Resources

Minstry of Women Affairs

Ministry of Works, Power, and Housing

Ministry of Youth and Sports

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