Forex: Can CBN Sustain the Black Market Onslaught? By Omoniyi Akinsiju

With the dramatic appreciation of the Fair against the dollar and other major international currencies starting Monday, February 20, there had been shifty discomforts as expressed by many Nigerians despite the unrestrained excitement that greeted the impact of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently introduced foreign exchange policy reforms.

Four days after the take-off of the policy, the Naira, at the black market, appreciated exponentially by more than 4% from N525 to a dollar to N480 to a dollar. As at Tuesday, a dollar was exchanging for N445, with even greater prospect of appreciating further against the greenback.

Of course, the market response is a testimony to the multiple layers of measures rolled out by the CBN to salvage a hitherto savaged foreign exchange market where the local currency had been on a free fall, especially at the black market.

Expectedly, the naira had been severely pummelled in the forex segment of the economy in direct consequence of an acute shortage of organically sourced dollars and a slowed down flow of the greenback from foreign investors.
However, the CBN, had through an insistence on managing the float of the Naira against other currencies sustained the naira/dollar rate at N305 to a dollar at the interbank forex market. This had drawn different hues of flaks from some commentators who insisted on a free float of the Naira even as some other commentators rallied to the support of the CBN, defending the apex bank managed float of the country’s forex regime on basis of the lean foreign exchange earnings as a result of the combination of vastly reduced crude oil production and internationally compelled low price of crude oil.
Things started taking a perceptible turn for the good in November 2016 when militant activities in the oil producing Niger Delta area started petering out while the collaborative position of the OPEC and non OPEC member countries led by Russia, fired crude oil price over the $50 per barrel mark.

This was the needed elixir the Nigerian economy desperately needed, especially at a time inflation rate was looking runaway and productive activities were grounding to excruciatingly painful halt. Thankfully, the crude oil price spike and increased price provided the juice to the country’s dwindling foreign reserve which had been decimated to as low as $23billion. The reverse of fortune soon commenced the consistent accretion to the foreign reserve. Within a twelve week period, starting November, 2016 to February, 2017, the foreign reserve added more than $8billion and hugged the $30billion psychological mark.

Apparently, this provided the impetus to the CBN to stream the ‘meet all demand’ measure. So now, the Personal and Business Travel Allowance that had hitherto had peripheral access to the foreign reserve, and payment of school fees plus medical treatment abroad were all brought in to banking circle thus vastly reducing the pressure points that led to the flourishing of the black market.

This is even as the CBN pumped more dollars into the interbank forex market at $6million daily intervention in the spot segment of the market. This compares with the miserly $1.5million daily intervention it used to undertake. This, combined with the clearing out of more than four billion dollar backlog of demand through its shorter 60 days maturing future market segment, were enough reasons for the Naira to start a sharp climb up against the dollar.

But now, a new concern seems to have emerged; can this new Naira virility be sustained? The first response to this is predicated on keeping the peace in the Niger Delta. It would seem the Federal Government has been able to persuade the Niger Delta of its seriousness to dialogue and impact a developmental agenda in the area.

In the matter of sustaining this marginal oil price increase, there’s a growing international confidence that price of oil per barrel may hit the $60 mark. This is because critical stakeholders in the collaboration to cut down on oil between OPEC and non OPEC countries have started demanding for a push back of the six month due date for the expiration of the collaboration.

Iraq has been particularly loud in the call to extend the time period for scaling down national supplies for another six months with eyes set on $60 per barrel. Iraq is being joined by oil producing giant, Total, in this call. The prospect of this call being endorsed is said to be potent and so guarantees sustained high price.

As it were, it would seem this new forex regime is sustainable. CBN decision to heavily fund the supply side of the forex market is truly a welcome policy, however, substantial credit should be ascribed to the emerging culture of transparency and integrity that is defining government responsibility and service delivery.

Akinsiju, Public Policy Analyst, writes from  Abuja.

 

Osun 2018: Situation Reports, Profiles,Antecedents of Guber Aspirants By Adebayo Adedeji

When the tenure of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of the State of Osun winds down in November 2018, the question of who takes over from him is permeating the political space.

Notwithstanding that the election is about 20 months away and that political parties have not flung their doors open for campaigns to the Bola Ige House, political maneuverings, consultations, scheming, alignment and re-alignment are in top gear.

Notable politicians are positioning themselves to clinch their parties’ nominations, by seeking the backings of the juggernauts, influencers and king-makers within the folds of their respective political parties. Among the aspirants that have overtly or covertly signified their interests in governing the state in 2018 are Lere Oyewumi, Adejare Bello, Iyiola Omisore, Adeola Adewopo and Kayode Oduoye, all on the platform of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

In the fold of the ruling APC, Isiaka Adeleke, Yusuf Lasun, Mojeed Alabi, Gboyega Oyetola and Nojeem Salaam are some of the contending factors for the position of the number one citizen of the state.

Lere Oyewumi

Akogun Lere Oyewumi is currently a national commissioner in the National Population Commission (NPC).A former federal legislator and chairman of Irewole Local Government, Akogun Oyewumi is said to be a down-to-heart politician and grassroots influencer. He was appointed director-general of Omisore/Bello campaign organisation in 2014, a duty he carried out to the satisfaction and admiration of all the party faithful.

Oyewumi, who holds a doctorate degree of the University of Ibadan, is credited with many laudable capital projects which were executed during his tenure as the Irewole council boss. However, he is believed not to have the needed financial where-withal to sustain elaborate gubernatorial campaigns.

Adejare Bello

Adejare is a lawyer and served in the Osun State House of Assembly for 12 years: first as the Minority Leader (1999-2003) and later as the Speaker (2003-2011). He contested the 2014 gubernatorial election in the state as the running-mate to the flag-bearer of the PDP Iyiola Omisore. He is from Ede in Osun West Senatorial District. In the 2014 election, his party (PDP) polled 17,889 votes in the two local governments in Ede as against the APC’s 27,141 votes. He is known as a grassroots politician with vast wealth of experience and who can hold his ground anywhere.

Iyiola Omisore

Omisore is not new to the politics of the state. Since 1999 when he was elected deputy governor to Chief Bisi Akande, he has been a recurring decimal in the scheme of things in the state.

He ran against the incumbent Governor in 2014.He is from Ile-Ife, the same senatorial district as the current Governor.

Rumor has it that he is making surreptitious moves to join the ruling APC. His pockets, unarguably, are deep and he is loved by his Ile-Ife people, going by the outcomes of a series of elections from the zone.  Omisore owns a radio station in the state which can be a very veritable campaign tool for him.

However, his albatross has been his alleged link to the gruesome murder of Chief Bola Ige. Chief Ige,an Ijesha aristocrat who was shot and bludgeoned to death  by unknown assassins in his Bodija home in December 2001,had  towering image that cut across the length and breadth of the state. He was the Governor of old Oyo state (now Oyo and Osun states) from 1979-1983.

Omisore, alongside other notable politicians, including Jelili Adesiyan (who later became police affairs minister during the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan) was detained in Agodi prison, Ibadan in connection with the murder of Chief Ige. While in detention, Omisore won a senate seat in 2003.

Ayoade Adewopo

Ayoade Adewopo is a lawyer and expert in anti-money laundering matters. He was educated at the Polytechnic Ibadan, University of Wales and Indiana University. A prince and blueblood from  the Ogboru Royal Family of  Ile-Ife and Laoye of Ede(his mother was the first daughter of late Timi of Ede Oba John Laoye),Ayoade is the president of the Johnson Adedoja Adewopo Foundation.Through the Foundation,Ayoade has provided scholarship awards to many students in the states. Although he is relatively known in the Osun political circle, his alleged link with a rich and influential first class monarch in the state is going to be a plus for him. “Ayombo”, his campaign slogan, is gathering rave in the state.

Kayode Oduoye

(Dr) Kayode Oduoye,fondly called “Superkay”, is a household name in the state. Since he lost the Ifelodun/Boripe/Odo-Otin Federal House of Representatives seat election in 2015 to the candidate of the APC, the popularity of this Ikirun-born and OAU/Buckingham-educated lawyer has been on the rise. He has many good things working for him: he is young, wealthy, humble, generous and gregarious. He is a politician with decent and verifiable pedigree. He is a scion of late Senator Simeon Oduoye, a retired AIG and former military administrator of Ebonyi/Niger states. Kayode Oduoye’s clout cuts across all divides He is seen as a reliable unifying factor. There is speculation that some APC chieftains, having seen his positive exploits in the state, are making overtures to him to join the progressive fold.

He has donated immensely to the cause of the media, faith-based groups and students/youths in the state. He, in company with his spouse Mosun Filani-Oduoye,has donated handsomely to a number of orphanages and the physically-challenged persons in the state. Mosun Filani-Oduoye is a popular Nollywood star and her politician-husband would find her popularity in the entertainment and movie industry readily beneficial in the campaign.

Oduoye also has used his contacts as an international businessman and active player in the Oil/Gas and Telecommunication sectors to secure employments for many youths of the state. Perhaps his good gestures and kind responses to the cause of the masses prompted his teeming supporters to urge him to seek the highest political position in the state.

Be that as it may, the internal wrangling in the Osun PDP, a fall-out of the May 2016 party congress in the state may impede his lofty ambition. The PDP has been polarised into two factions: one faction, believed to be loyal to the Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff Executive is led by Soji Adagunodo,while the second faction, sympathetic to the Ahmed Makarfi Caretaker Committee  is led by Soji Faforiji,a known ally of Otunba Iyiola Omisore. Analysts are of the view that if all the squabbles in the party are not resolved in the shortest possible time, further balkanisation may be witnessed in the party and will affect the chances of the party in 2018.

“PDP are in the opposition in both the state and in the federal. It would do them no good if they carry their roforofo fights into the election year,”one commentator, Yekini Agboola,sounds a note of warning.

 

On the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), we have the following:

Isiaka Adeleke

Senator Isiaka Adeleke at present is a senator representing Osun West in the Senate. He has the honour of being the first Executive Governor of the  state(1992-1993).A member of the Senator Ayoola Adeleke Dynasty of Ede,Isiaka Adeleke,nicknamed  “Serubawon’’, holds degrees in Political Science and Public Administration of the University of Jacksonville. During his brief stay in office as the Governor of the state, it is to his credit that Osun State Polytechnic, Iree; Osun State College of Technology,Esa-Oke were established. Also during his tenure, he ensured the completion of the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC).

Adeleke has a deep pocket and enjoys cult-like followership in his native home of Ede. His two children Bayo Adeleke(B-Red) and Adeshina Adeleke(Shina Rambo) are hip-hop stars. His younger brother Adedeji Adeleke(father of popular singer Davido) is the founder of Adeleke University,Ede.Isiaka Adeleke may benefit in no small measure if these influential and interesting characters are brought into the political turf for his sake. The involvements of these interesting and influential characters in the election can positively rub-off on Senator Adeleke’s campaign.

However, some analysts critical of him maintain that Adeleke is of the old generation and has nothing special to offer again, having governed the state 24 years ago when he was still in his late thirties. To this category of commentators, Osun is in dire need of ‘High Tech governance’ which, they presume, Adeleke cannot offer them.

Yusuf Lasun

Hon.Yusuf Lasun is deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. He is from Ilobu in Irepodun Local Government (Osun Central Senatorial District) and he represents the people of Irepodun/Olurunda/Osogbo/Orolu Federal Constituency. He is an alumnus of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife where he studied Mechanical Engineering. He is acknowledged as a grassroots politician who has used his political influence and connections to mitigate the suffering of his constituents. Lasun is seen as a politician and leader who feels the pulse of the electorate.

“Since his election as the Deputy Speaker in the country’s lower chambers,” according to one of his fans, “Honourable has impacted positively on us. He has drawn many capital projects to our constituency and also secured decent political appointments for some of our folks.”

However, his governorship ambition may hit the rock if he does not close ranks with the incumbent Governor. Although he has repeatedly denied the alleged rift between him and the Governor, evidence abounds that there is no-love-lost between the two political colossi.

Gross insubordination and disloyalty to the party hierarchy in the state are some of the allegations that are said to have been leveled against him by the governor. Within the main rank of the party structure in the state who are believed to be sympathetic to the governor, Lasun is regarded as a political Macbeth.

“Since his judasious emergence as the Deputy Speaker, Lasun has arrogantly but perilously moved on…He carries himself with air and portrays a larger-than-life image. He has kept himself away from all state/party functions, including from the President’s visit to the state in August 2016. It is an open insult and confrontation to the authority of president Buhari. This is the person that has not yet become the Governor; what if he becomes the governor tomorrow…and begins to enjoy immunity? He will be pointing fingers at the nose of the president as Ekiti Governor Fayose is currently doing!”

On the contrary, Lasun’s supporters do not see things in this light. One of these supporters boasts that: “Rauf Aregesola is just being petty and jealous of the meteoric rise of our amiable honorable. And he should note that it is God that chooses a leader. With or without Aregbe’s support, Lasun will become the next governor of our state. Insha Allah.”

They liken his case with that of new Governor of Ondo State Rotimi Akereeolu, who against all odds and alleged political gang-ups by party king-makers in the South-West emerged the party flag-bearers in the primaries.

Mojeed Alabi

Mojeed Alabi is a seasoned professor of Political Science and adjunct professor of Law. He is from Ejigbo in Osun West Senatorial District. A former speaker of the Osun House of Assembly (1999-2003) and a current member of the House of Representatives, Professor Alabi continually uses his scholarly writings and engagement to deepening the cause of democracy and good governance in Nigeria, nay Africa. His supporters believe he has, over the years, used his office to draw laudable constituency projects to his people.

He is articulate, ebullient and has mien, poise and comportment of a state governor. He is also known to be a loyal party man and ally of the state governor.

However, the position of many non-partisan commentators is that Alabi’s ambition may be an unrealistic one, going by his political leaning and moral standing. He is said to be an out-spoken politician who considers some attitudes of today’s politicians detestable. He is not given to political shenanigan.  They also say he does not have fat war-chest to curry political favour and swing party delegates to his side unless he enjoys the massive and unalloyed support of the incumbent government who calls the tune in the party.

Nevertheless, his admirers are hopeful that his political kite will fly in 2018. To them what Alabi lacks in financial buoyancy, he possesses it in intellect and integrity: two qualities that, they affirm, can exalt a nation. Alabi, they chorus, is the Best Man for the Job.

Najeem Salaam

Hon.Najeem Salaam is the current Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly.He is from Ejigbo in Osun West.A graduate of Political Science of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Salaam appears to be a mature politician,going by the way he has piloted and conducted the affairs of the Assembly since 2011 when he assumed the position. His support for the Aregbesola’s Government has been unwavering. There is much camaraderie between the Assembly and the Executive. This singular development, no doubt, has helped the machinery of development and governance in the state. Considering his deep understanding and ample knowledge of Osun politics, governance and government, he appears suitable for the office of the Governor.

 

Gboyega Oyetola

Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola is the Chief of Staff to Governor Rauf Aregbesola.He is from Iragbiji in Osun Central. An alumnus of the University of Lagos where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Insurance (1978) and an MBA (1990),Oyetola worked for a number of insurance companies including Corporate Alliance Insurance as the Technical Controller  and Crusader Insurance as  the Underwriting Manager . Prior to his current position, he was vice-Chairman of Paragon Group of Companies, a consortium with interest in Oil and Gas, Real Estate, Stock Broking. Oyetola is rumored to be an anointed candidate of the Governor and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Asiwaju Tinubu has been a strong factor in the state since 2005 when his former works commissioner Rauf Aregbesola launched his governorship bid in the state. If Oyetola can emerge as the APC flag-bearer in a rancour free atmosphere and primaries, it is going to be to the advantage of the party; however, if his candidacy is imposed on the other aspirants, this may spell doom for the party.

In rounding off, it is instructive to note that there is a possibility of the two main political parties adopting ‘zoning’ in the (s)election of their candidates. If they do that, the outcome may tilt towards aspirants from the Osun West Senatorial District who are said to have been marginalized…. Since the creation of the state in 1991, only Osun West has not produced a governor that would spend a full one-term. Senator Isiaka Adeleke, from this zone, was governor of the state from January 1992 till November 1993 when the democratic structures were dissolved by the military. At the return of democratic rule in 1999, Chief Bisi Akande,from Osun Central,mounted the rostrum and he was in the saddle until 2003 when Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola took over. Oyinlola, also from Osun Central, was in power until

2010 when the incumbent Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola came into power. By this explanation and trajectory, it means Osun Central has called the shot for 14 years,Osun East for eight years and Osun West for barely two years.

In the different vein, some analysts believe strongly that if the existing cohesion within the APC is not pretentious, and Ogbeni Aregbesola continues to give responsible and purposeful leadership, and his Government’s current harmonious relationship with the labour is not allowed to severe again, it may be a tough feat for any opposition candidate to dislodge the ruling APC in the general election.

When Public Interest Overrides Personal Interest, By Godwin Akpan

“Any herdsmen found in possession of firearms shall be charged with unlawful possession of firearms.

“Any confiscated cattle shall be taken to government cattle ranches or any other designated areas as may be directed.

“Any property or farm products destroyed by the cattle shall be valued by the agricultural officers and made to be paid for by the herdsman.

“Cattle movement and grazing are restricted to the hours of 7am and 6pm.

“The law will empower the governor of the state to designate land in each local government in respect of which cattle or other ruminants may be permitted to graze.”

The above lines are contained in the bill proposed by Rt. Hon. Nse Ntuen, Member representing the good people of Essien Udim State Constituency, recently in the floor of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, which seeks to control the activities and operation(s) of Fulani herdsmen in the state, following several threats, environmental hazard, destruction of lives and properties and many more discomfort caused by herdsmen within and around the state. However, this has not gone down well with few individuals in the state, who believe the former ALGON boss is pursuing a personal rather than a collective interest.

Fulani herdsmen’s menace has become a recurring decimal in this country in recent times; therefore, any strategy to minimise or contain their activities will be a welcome development. Since the states have been empowered by law to legislate on grazing matters and livestock animals as a possible solution to curb the menace, I think a collective effort would be needed to make the bill achieve this purpose for the general interest and peace in our respective locality.

Some individuals have kicked against the bill and in all honesty, I respect their views on it, but unfortunately, none of them seems to have come up with a possible solution to the discomfort caused by Fulani herdsmen, which I think the bill proposed by Ntuen is set to address. In as much as people are at liberty to criticise the bill, it is very pertinent to study the situation at hand that led to the proposition of the bill in the first place, and of course, the content of the proposed bill if it has the potentials of addressing the situation.

The naked truth that we must not jettison is that these Fulani herdsmen are causing real menace in our communities. They enter our farm lands at night with their cattle, eat up crops planted with the sweat of our farmers, rape our women, maim and sometimes, kill our people if they dare to challenge them and in the early hours of the morning, they relocate to another place. This has continued for a long time now. We have also heard reports of their sacking an entire community just because some indigenes ventured to challenge them for destroying their farm. This is totally unacceptable and that is why we must collectively stop this madness and the solution is the confinement of the cattle and the herdsmen; and if this Bill is going to address it, so be it. Let’s give it a trial.

With the grazing bill made law and fully implemented, the friction between local farmers and Fulani herdsmen will be adequately managed. And when we have the herdsmen fail to heed to the provision of the law, then it will now become obvious that they want trouble. This method is what is obtainable in the developed countries, and Nigeria should, therefore, not be an exception.

Perhaps, I should make it clear here that, cattle rearers are stateless, meaning that they can enter into any state and graze their cattle and not until that law is abrogated, it remains so. Secondly, Nigeria may not really have the solution to desertification and draught for now, so cattle must continue to migrate from the dry North to the wet South for green pasture and when they come, they constitute a menace because they are not confined. If they were confined, the menace would have been greatly minimised and this explains why Ntuen’s Grazing Bill is apt, timely and relevant.

As important as the grazing bill is, the Nigerian senate at a point were fighting tooth and nail to see it become a law so as to control the excesses of the herdsmen in the country, but unfortunately, the senate could do very little as it was prevented by law to legislate on the matter, since it behoves on the states to legislate on such matters. This led to the withdrawal of the bill in the Senate.

The foundation for the withdrawal of the bill was led by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who said the Senate lacked the power to legislate on grazing matters.

Ekweremadu had informed his colleagues that only states have the powers to legislate on grazing matters and livestock animals, adding that since the matter was neither in the exclusive nor concurrent list, the National Assembly lacked the power to legislate on the matter.

In his words; “The issues at stake here are neither in the exclusive list nor in the concurrent list. I believe therefore that it is a residual matter. It is for states to decide how to deal with it. I believe the matter here concerns everybody, given the level of carnage the conflicts going on in different states. So, I feel the concern of my colleagues but unfortunately we do not have powers to legislate on matters relating to livestock in this Assembly. It is a matter reserved for the states. So, I believe that the bills for Senators Kwankwaso, Gemage and Utazi are beyond the reach of this National Assembly and should be accordingly withdrawn so that the states under the constitution should be able to deal with the matter which the constitution has prescribed for them. I will like to see somebody to show me anywhere in the exclusive list or concurrent list that has given us powers to legislate on this matter because they are not in existence.”

Ntuen’s proposed Grazing Bill, which according to the Deputy Senate President, is the exclusive right of states to legislate upon through state legislators, is in tandem with the pledge made by Governor Udom Emmanuel to provide adequate security to the people of the state. It is therefore pertinent to understand that confinement of cattle and herdsmen remains the possible solution to herdsmen’s menace and ultimately, a sure way of providing adequate security to the people, and of course this has its multiplier economic benefits.

For instance, if the bill scale through and becomes a law, it is going to boost our agricultural prospects and fortunes, especially, now that oil is no longer booming. The wanton destruction of farmlands and human lives by Fulani herdsmen will be effectively checked. Beyond that, employment opportunities could be created for the locals that may be willing to go into the business of rearing cattle, knowing too well that there is law guiding the operations of the herdsmen.

In giving credence to the Bill, the Speaker of the House, Barr Onofiok Luke, who himself is a proponent of the Grazing Bill, having in 2003, moved a motion on the floor of the House seeking full government control of the activities of herdsmen in the state by taking proactive steps to ensure that areas were designated for grazing, said Ntuen’s Grazing Bill is a reflection of the assembly’s people-centred philosophy. He said there was need for the House to act proactively to safeguard the lives and properties of residents in the state.

He said “the House of Assembly is here to make laws that will safeguard the lives and properties of our people at all times because this is what we were elected to do.”

It is therefore not a surprise to discover that most of the AKHA members threw their support behind the bill and promised to support the smooth passage of the bill for the benefit of the people and the general development, peace and security of the state.

These were the sentiments of some members of the House regarding the Grazing Bill.

For Hon. Ime Okon, representing Ibiono Ibom and Hon. Friday Iwok who speaks for Abak; “The extent to which the activities of herders have endangered the lives and properties of farmers in the country is quite alarming. It was time that laws were made to ensure that people are protected.”

For Hon. Otobong Ndem and Hon. Otobong Akpan; “It is dangerous for government to not act at a time when there are reckless killings and destructions of properties by herdsmen in the country.”

Hon. (Princess) Mfon Ekong; “Those who suffered the most at the hands of the Fulani herdsmen and their cattle were women. It is time adequate law is put in place to check the operations of the herdsmen.”

On her part, the House Deputy Speaker, Princess Felicia Bassey said; “It was important that her colleagues gave their full support to the bill so as to ensure government at the state level turns its search light fully on criminals who claim to be herdsmen.” Others also in support are: Hon. Mark Esset, Hon. Nse Essien, Hon Aniekan Uko and Hon. Uduak Odudoh and Hon. Barr. Aniefiok Dennis.

The sentiment expressed by some members of the 6th Assembly including the Speaker and of course, some members of the public, who are willing, among other thing, to give peace a chance in the state by supporting the Grazing Bill, goes contrary to the sentiment expressed by few individuals who, rather than study the content of the proposed bill and juxtapose the advantages and disadvantages, chooses to engaged in name calling, blackmail, character assassination, slander, vilifying, mudslinging and devising diverse means at humiliating the bill and the proponents of the bill.

The Bill which has passed through second reading in the House, has being attacked, misread, misrepresented and ignorantly condemned by some accidental Journalists and social media scavengers, who either had not read the 8 sections bill or understand the content or the intent of the legislature in coming up with this bill. It is rather unfortunate to discover that, while a member who was voted to make law for the development of the state is doing his constitutional obligation(s), these armchair critics, could condescend to suggesting that Hon. Nse Ntuen is sponsored by the dreaded Islamic sect, ISIS, in an attempt to Islamized Akwa Ibom. This is quite unfortunate!

Let me state categorically here that, a bill is a mere proposal for a new law, or a proposal to change an existing law that is presented for debate before the parliament. A bill is not a law. It becomes a law when it received the accent of the Governor, having passed through first, second and third reading. Bills presented by members of the house can be jettisoned if it is discovered not to be people-centred.

Let me once again say here that, as it stands today, Nigeria does not have a solution to the menace of Fulani herdsmen outside providing grazing areas. The Fulani herdsmen are ready to fight with the last drop of their blood because they have nowhere to go in search of green pasture for their cattle, but the South. Desertification is fast encroaching on the North and they must feed their cattle and like I said earlier, cattle rearers are stateless, so, we must accommodate them and accommodating them will mean we have to devise a way of living with them peacefully, hence the grazing reserves would become relevant.

As already indicated in the outset of this piece, the bill’s concluding explanatory memorandum seeks to provide for, among other things, the following for the overall benefit and development of everyone resident in the state:

  1. No person(s) shall allow his cow, bull, oxen or other ruminants to graze on any land in Akwa Ibom State.
  1. It is only the governor who can designate an area for grazing same to be designated as ranches, if he so wishes. Remember Obudu Cattle ranch?
  1. Note the use of the word “May” in the said bill which gives the governor option to designate or not to designate an area to graze accordingly, It is not mandatory.
  1. Cattle shall not graze at night, this has caused numerous accidents and destruction of farmlands when farmers are asleep.
  1. Cattle movements are restricted, herdsmen movement thereby restricted accordingly.
  1. Any herdsman carrying firearms (notably AK-47) shall be charged for unlawful possession of firearms. This is to protect our people from being slaughtered as it is happening in other states like Benue, Delta, Abia, Enugu, Plateau, etc.
  1. Provides for confiscation of cattle.
  1. The law gives the commissioner powers to make rules for carrying out the provisions of this law.

From the foregoing, constructive criticism of the AKHA bills are welcomed especially during public hearing and should not be restricted to ignorant and abusive comments on social media. Members of the public should not allow themselves to be used by few disgruntled elements that are not comfortable with the leadership of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.

It is important to properly situate between a chase for personal interest and that of the public. To this end, regarding the Grazing Bill, Rt. Hon. Nse Ntuen and the members of the 6th Assembly are pursuing a course that will ultimately provide for peace, security and development of the state and its citizenry.

Farooq Kperogi’s Unusual Poor Response, By Abubakar Abdullahi

I used to be an ardent reader of Farooq Kperogi’s column back in the days, even before the popularity of Social Media. I still do. He is someone I have enormous respect for and I really do not hope to disrespect him in this piece.

Having read the Professor’s disclaimer that he was also a member of the Obasanjo Media Team that operated similar to Buhari Media Centre, the response, to me, is just a twist of words. It is just an opposite side of a coin.

On 28th July, 2015, Garba Shehu announced a number of social media persons who volunteered to support President Muhammadu Buhari ?—? few among them are Ayobami Oyalowo, Dada Olusegun, Johannes Tobi Wojuola-Mathews. They are not more than a dozen. Barrack Obama boasted a 20 digital staffers which Trump’s Presidency plan to expand on this. Maybe Nigeria needs less.

The BMC is not a secret. They are occasionally guest speakers too on major TV shows. They use handles well known to all social media active users. (I challenge Prof to give an instance of the multiple accounts created to smear or work with other government agencies to twist narrations).

Also, the fact your Research Unit used to write the President’s speech and occasionally, attended the Federal Executive Meetings or have more international exposures, does not make it any different from BMC. It does not lay to it any more credence. It is in fact, more illegal.

In plain words, your Research Unit was to Obasanjo what BMC is to Buhari ?—? both, in my opinion, unnecessary and an exaggeration of powers. After all, you name it BMC, they could choose to call it Research Unit, too.

I will not go with the crowd to say you’re being sponsored to bring down this government. I believe you criticize it in the high spirit of nationality and for the project, Nigeria.

In the end, like the saying; whoever that comes to equity, must come with clean hands, is advocated here.

God Bless Nigeria ??

Abubakar Abdullahi

@abubakar47i

Farooq Kperogi’s Moral And Professional Inconsistency, By Muhammad Labbo

Once again, President Muhammadu Buhari is under attack for the composition of his media team, the number of people his government employs to ensure that every citizen of Nigeria is constantly kept abreast of the voice and activities of the leaders they elected to represent them.

Our suspicion is that opposition elements are driving this discussion with the aim of stripping Buhari of needed support; stripped bare of media support in his war against corruption and insecurity, the President then becomes vulnerable to defeat now and in his future political calculations.

President Buhari’s media team is currently made up of nine appointees: Femi Adesina, Garba Shehu, Tolu Ogunlesi, Bashir Ahmad, Shaaban Ibrahim Sharada, Loretta Onochie, Naziru Mohammed , Bayo Omoboriowo and Sunday Aghaeze. Of these, three handle cameras, while three are assigned to new media which has Ogunlesi as the team leader and Ahmad handling Hausa Facebook.

Now, let’s put things in perspective.

Following the appointment of Reno Omokri as Special Assistant on New Media to the then President Goodluck Jonathan, the defunct investigative newspaper, NEXT, reported in 2011, that Omokri had joined the President’s reported list of over 133 personal aides, including 25 special advisers, 42 senior special assistants, 52 special assistants and 12 personal assistants–as at February 2011. This number probably increased before that administration was voted out in March 2015.

These government advisers were paid about N780 million of Nigerian taxpayers’ money every year.

Of the 133 presidential aides, 16 were assigned to the Media, including the Special Adviser, Reuben Abati, Umar Sani, the SSA Media attached to the office of the Vice-President; Dr. Obi Asika, SSA Social Media; Reno himself; Bolaji Adebiyi, the late Sara-Wiwa Jnr. and Yakubu Musa as SAs under Abati; Dr Doyin Okupe, who had four Presidential SAs of his own under him that included Churchill Umoren, Jackson Ude ,Nasir Zahraddeen and one other. A host of others dotted the Villa at that time, including  TY Bello, a Nigerian singer and songwriter who was the official photographer to former President Goodluck Jonathan. The President went on to add to the list,  Femi Fani-Kayode who, under him, several officials including the current Group Public Affairs Manager of the NNPC, Ndu Ugamadu were engaged.

Nigeria has had many wasteful governments but this current administration is not one of them. Of the 15 Special Advisers approved for the Presidency by the Constitution, President Buhari has so far appointed only six: Media, Niger Delta, National Security, Politics, Social Investment and Sustainable Development Goals.

All this evidence of President Buhari’s discipline have been ignored by a number of newspaper columnists who are clearly being sponsored by the opposition PDP to vomit lies and spread misinformation. A typical example is Farooq Kperogi, a columnist who recently publicly condemned the existence of a group which was set up to disseminate relevant information from the government to the Nigerian people.

Our question to the critics is, what question did they ask Dr Jonathan when he had that crowd in his office? Why attack President Buhari who set out from the beginning to keep a lean team and an austere administration?

The group which Kperogi erroneously referred to as the Buhari Media Centre (BMC) is actually known as the Buhari Media Support group (BMSG). This group of volunteers who were also part of the media committee which worked with All Progressives Congress (APC) during the election campaign, are sponsored completely by private funds. None of their meagre allowances is from the national budget or from taxpayers’ money. All the funding for the BMSG is sought privately, and the group’s office is located outside the presidential villa complex—in Utako, well away from the State House in Asokoro.

Compare this to the Presidential Communication Unit (PCU) under President Olusegun Obasanjo. This group, which operated from a building referred to as the “white house” in the precincts of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa had the late Stanley Macebuh as its head. With its offices in the State House complex it was funded by the government. AND Farooq Kperogi himself was a member! Isn’t it hypocritical for him to suddenly turn round and criticise the existence of such a group?

If it was right for President Obasanjo, or any other President to maintain a media office by whatever name, and it was right for Farooq Kperogi to apply and serve in that office at public expense, what is his beef with President Buhari for having an office like that, albeit with a different name and not funded by the government?

In fact, is it not both immoral and criminal to attack Buhari who has barred his own media office from public funds when Farooq was himself paid from the treasury to do the same job in a similar office?

Every government is entitled to a robust media team. Getting the right information to and communicating with the people is the obligation of every democracy. Even the most advanced, fiscally responsible governments all over the world have invested in key media personnel. Nigerians must not allow themselves to be deceived into ignorance by the mischievous PDP script currently being played out by the likes of Kperogi in the incessant criticism of President Buhari’s investment in media.

 

Muhammad Labbo

Chairman/ Co-ordinator

BMSG

Nigeria And The Politics Of Poverty, By Matthew Ige

I have been an adult citizen for a while now, and one thing I have closely observed, and which always makes me to tremble in shame; is that most Nigerian politicians, though majority of them are intellectually feeble, light ‘upstairs’ and simple in thought, they are maestro in the manipulation of the poor electorates. They perhaps perfectly understand the psychology of poverty of the susceptible electorates, hence the smooth victory they always wield.

Chinweizu Ibekwe in his Anatomy of Female Power asserts that a way to ‘’a way to a man’s heart is through his belly.’’ This assertion best describes the hapless state of the uninformed–both mentally and academically poor electorates. These are the victims of the flawed established Nigeria institution; perpetually manipulated bedfellows—even down to their children. The reason is simple: lest they are educated, and they are wise.

It is not the case that education in itself provides the basis to affect one’s reasoning measurement; for there are ‘literate illiterates’. There are professors and academic doctors with intimidating and highfalutin academic credentials, whose thoughts and reasoning are very poor. There are academic champions who are still being plagued, not thoroughly washed from the stings of religious, ethnic and tribal sentiments. Yes, this set of people also have their own version of poverty—reasoning.

The bourgeoisies, having studied the psychology of ‘needs’ of these poor people, that all they are after in life is the Biblical necessity of life expressed in petition in prayer: ‘’Give us this day our daily bread.’’ They would not think of building house, buying a single car; they see themselves as millionaire once they can afford to buy one ‘Okada’, always extort them through this weakness.

It is on this psychological pedestal of the poor that the villain politicians would continue to unduly, though without any physical duress, dominate the miserable poor electorates. It will then come to pass the saying that the poor will remain poorer while the rich will remain richer. There will be, as long as this status quo remains, the poor dynasty and the rich dynasty.
The most prevalent poverty