Fuel Subsidy: Reno Omokri’s Wilful Ignorance And His Quest For Misinformation, By Bernard Okri

In the last of the President Goodluck Jonathan days in office, a certain Reno Omokri was ousted as Social Media/ New Media adviser and was replaced by famed media mogul Obi Asika.

Omokri had become a liability and a disaster waiting to happen to the Jonathan government. At the time of his sack, Sahara Reporters wrote this about him: “Mr. Jonathan’s move is seen as an apparent maneuver to re-energize his social media image following a growing slide in his electoral fortunes as well as a series of scandals involving Mr. Omokri, who until now shaped and ran the incumbent President’s campaign on social media.

The online newspaper continued, “A source at the Presidency told SaharaReporters that Mr. Omokri, who returned from California to boost President Jonathan’s political campaigns in 2011, had become a huge liability and source of distraction. Mr. Omokri, who also doubles as a pastor, came to be known as “Wendell Simlin” after tech-savvy Nigerian social media activists caught him red-handed as he circulated reports on the Internet that claimed to have found a link between former Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and Islamist terror group Boko Haram.

“Enterprising social media sleuths discovered that the so-called reports implicating Mr. Sanusi as a sponsor of Boko Haram were first created on and disseminated from Mr. Omokri’s personal computer in Abuja.”

Fast forward to 8th April 2018 and you will understand why Omokri is haunted, disturbed and still not a force to reckon with despite his non-stop rant on social media and ploy to gain attention.

Since the name Reno Omokri has become associated with ‘source of distraction’ and ‘falsehood’, it came as no surprise to me when he tried to distract Nigerians by having a go at the present administration on the issue of subsidy.

Increasingly, it has become clear that when Omokri worked in the immediate past government he was never allowed anywhere near intelligence or administration matters – even the basic of information.

To enlighten Omokri, the statement by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that the Nigerian government does not pay subsidies is perfectly true.

However there is a tweak to it: Under the subsidy regime of the Jonathan government, his boss paid oil marketers bogus amounts of monies to cover for their expenses to supply the country fuel and maintain the price at an affordable amount – this led to the enriching of a few and impoverishing of the country, as most of the oil marketers did not even make any deliveries to Nigeria but were paid billions of Naira. Some others took crude oil to Ghana and Benin Republic but where paid as well.

Under the new system which operates under the Buhari’s government, oil marketers do not receive money from government. Instead, NNPC bears the cost of the differential and takes the hit on their own balances by ensuring that the price of petrol remains at N145 regardless of the fact that the landing cost has increased in such a way to make the 145 unprofitable.

In this new arrangement – which is called UNDER-RECOVERY – the Nigerian consumers benefit and not the marketers. If this is not done, the price of fuel would shoot up and the President has said he would never allow that happen.

What the government is doing to put an end to this regime, which is in itself a short term solution – is to fix our refineries including encouraging private sector involvement.

Chief Financial Officer of NNPC, Mr. Isiaka AbdulRazaq, who traced the advent of the subsidy regime to October, 2003 when NNPC was directed by government to commence the purchase of domestic crude oil at international market price without a corresponding liberalization of the regulated price of petroleum products noted that the subsidy regime has changed.

He explained that under the Jonathan subsidy regime, NNPC and other suppliers of refined petroleum products were entitled to file subsidy claims to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

Mr. AbdulRasaq, however, noted that unlike oil marketers, under the under-recovery regime NNPC did not receive cash payment for subsidy claims as its claims were deducted out of cost payment to the Federation Account after due certification by PPPRA.

Mr Omokri must stop making a fool of himself, and deliberately playing ignorant to misinform Nigerians. And if indeed he is as ignorant as he exudes himself, then he needs to learn that search engines still work. But he must first open himself to learning, even from those who oppose him: Reno is known to block on Twitter every person who disagrees with his views – which are mostly wrong. If he must find knowledge, he must end his hypocrisy and listen to the voice of wisdom outside his altered mindset.

That his former principal, Goodluck Jonathan, can label him a ‘huge liability’, what more can one expect, he is only living up to his billing.

So long Omokri!!!

Bernard Okri writes from Asaba, Delta State

And Now, The Great Rice Revolution, By Idowu Samuel

Suddenly, there is a huge prospect that in just a few years, agriculture may surpass oil as a major revenue earner for the country, as signals to that effect continues to provoke cheers in many circles across the federation.

Already, Nigeria has started yielding seasons of fortunes to its farmers. This development is anchored on a sweeping transformation witnessed in the agricultural sector over the past three years. These days, the citizens are coming to terms that agriculture now counts as a gold mine, which their country had unwittingly neglected for decades.

Nigeria came this far, not by happenstance. The journey to its growing fortune in agriculture took off with a recession that literally paralysed the economy way back in 2015. Indeed, economic recession has its good side. It re-ordered the thinking of government and expanded its capacity to catalyse the growth of the non-oil sector, zeroing on the necessity to immediately diversify. That was when agriculture took the driver’s seat as a way to raise Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), amid biting recession, worked in synergy with the Ministry of Agriculture to craft an Anchor Borrowers Programme aimed towards ensuring mass production of rice. President Muhammadu Buhari launched the Anchor Borrowers Programme in September 2015.   The Rice Revolution came with a boom that has been good to farmers and state governments that embraced the Federal Government’s initiative. It is no longer a thing of imagination that farmers in rural Nigeria, known for subsistence farming over the years, could be instant millionaires.

When rice production begins to serve as an eye opener to economic prosperity for Nigeria, the implication is that the country still has many more areas of fortunes to explore to realise its dream of being a major player on the world economy. The statistics on the success of agriculture alone, anchored essentially on rice production has been stunning, offering a window for Nigeria to see a better future.

At the moment, the contribution of agriculture to the nation’s GDP is projected to hit 40 percent by the third quarter of 2018, whereas, the contribution stood at 28 percent as at 2015.

Prior to the emergence of the present administration, Nigeria depended largely on food importation to close the supply gap, while importing not less than 17 million tonnes  within five years. The volume, however, started to drop, starting from 2016 when the country imported just 2.3 million tonnes.

Again, Nigeria was spending not less than $5 million per day on rice importation. With less emphasis on importation, rice accounted for 1.26 percent of the 2017 budget. The success in local rice production then began to cause ripples in the international market such that export to Nigeria from Thailand, which stood at 1.23 million metric tonnes in 2014, dropped rapidly to 23, 192 metric tonnes by 2017.

Kudos, however, goes to the government of President Buhari for including rice among 41 items placed on an importation ban list; a development that now redefines Nigeria with a possibility to emerge as a star in the league of rice producing countries.

Indeed, Nigeria could not have attained this feat without the aggressiveness of Kebbi and 13 other states on rice production. Kebbi demonstrated leadership by clearing the ground for successful take-off of the Anchor Borrowers Programme, while organising local farmers to fully embrace the scheme. The efforts paid off as the state registered capacity to produce about 2.5 million metric tonnes of rice in 2018 to improve on the 1 million tonnes it produced in the previous year.

Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele had attested to efforts by Kebbi in rice production, disclosing that the state alone can boast of 88, 000 farmer -millionaires through the Anchor Borrowers Dry Season Rice Farming programme initiated by the bank.

In the same vein, Adamawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Plateau, Sokoto and Zamfara have been showing strong reflexes in growing rice for exports.

Lagos demonstrated an award-winning initiative by its partnership with Kebbi State to produce Lake Rice, which has helped to crash the price for Lagosians. The competitiveness in rice production has so far been infectious as Ogun State too launched its own MITROS Rice Mill, making the production of Ofada Rice more appealing.

In all, the ongoing revolution in rice production and value chains have been good to Nigerians, offering employment opportunities to a good number of farmers, making the country to earn foreign exchange and attaining food security for the populace.

In summary, if the government of President Buhari successfully wove magic wand on production of paddy rice while targeting 20 million jobs for Nigerians youths through agriculture by 2019, it is time the feat was replicated in other cash crops, most essentially cocoa, palm oil, wheat, groundnuts and others on massive scale to re-energise the national economy and make it boom beyond expectations.

*Idowu Samuel, A journalist and public affairs analysts wrote in from Abuja.

Corruption: Osinbajo On A Moral Highground, By Chukwudi Enekwechi

It is no longer new that the reason many Nigerians are poor and the country’s infrastructure in a state of disrepair can be traced to the unprecedented level of corruption under the Peoples Democratic Party administrations.

While the All Progressives Congress administration has been in power for barely three years, it has been a herculean task cleansing the augean stable of corruption left behind by the successive PDP administrations. It is still a wonder how they managed to condone corruption at the level the Buhari/ Osinbajo administration met it.

It is also not surprising that Vice president Yemi Osinbajo did not hesitate to raise alarm about the huge disparity between the paltry financial commitment of the previous PDP administration to the actual development of the country and her citizens to the humongous sums of money which were frittered away on the eve of the 2015 presidential election.

As a conscientious leader Professor Osinbajo could not comprehend in his greatest imagination how an administration will pay so little attention to the welfare of her citizens while huge resources are being stolen to ensure the retention of political power. Obviously this is a disservice to the people, and for the vice president it was condemnable, despicable and punishable.

The difference between the past PDP administrations and the current APC –led administration is that President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice Professor Yemi Osinbajo are determined and committed to rescue Nigerians from the pangs of poverty and privation to which the prevalent corruption of the PDP era had plunged the country.

Lest we forget, it was corruption that resulted in the huge infrastructural deficit which the Buhari/Osinbajo administration is trying to fix today. It was also corruption that allowed the orgy of violence being witnessed today in some parts of the North East to fester and degenerate. Gladly President Muhammadu Buhari has utilised his wealth of experience to curtail the nefarious activities of the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists.

Professor Yemi Osinbajo as the vice president has a moral responsibility to seek solutions to the causes of corruption in Nigeria, but this cannot be achieved without a ‘forensic audit’ of the past. Perhaps his courage to avail Nigerians with the facts as far corruption is concerned has attracted erasers from certain quarters, yet the sad reality remains that you cannot successfully tackle corruption and its consequences of underdevelopment without tracing the origin and causative factors.

As a matter of fact, Vice President Osinbajo will be failing in his duties if he failed to draw the attention of Nigerians to the original source of their predicament. It is however consoling that the Buhari/Osinbajo administration has undertaken to redress the situation by embarking on several programmes aimed at ameliorating the socio-economic plight of Nigerians.

Suffice it to say that the administration is intervening in several areas towards bringing succour to the average Nigerian. For example, there are several rail and road projects being executed across the country simultaneously, while attention is being given to the adequate provision of power to Nigerians.

Under the watch of the vice president, such interventionist programmes like N-Power, School Feeding programme, Anchor Borrowers programme and other economic initiatives are being diligently implemented to impact directly on Nigerians. This is a departure from the rent seeking approach of the past PDP administrations where influential individuals are given unrestricted access to the national treasury all in the name of political patronage.

By Chukwudi Enekwechi (JP)

An Abuja Based Journalist and Politician

Kwechis19@yahoo.com

Needless Controversy Over Osun IGR, By Abiodun Komolafe

Lies, when told too often, unchallenged, have the capacity to be mistaken for the truth. As an indigene of the State of Osun, a key stakeholder in the Osun project; and as a living witness to Rauf Aregbesola’s judicious use of the taxpayers’ money for the development of the state, surprise was a better word to describe the recently-released Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) status of Osun for 2017 by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

In the report, NBS stated that internally generated revenues for Osun declined from N8,884,756,040.35 in 2016 to N6,486,524,226.45 in 2017, representing a -26.99% drop. But, in what could be considered a swift reaction, the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenues Service (FIRS) and Chairman, Joint Tax Board (JTB), Babatunde Fowler, disclosed that the Aregbesola-led administration raised the state’s IGR by over-30% in 2017. Contrary to the Bureau’s misleading position, facts at the disposal of yours sincerely did reveal that the state’s actual full year IGR for 2017 was N11.9 billion.

Of course, it could have been much more, but for the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies’ tax audit outstanding, totaling N4 billion, to the state.

Established by Section 86 (1) of the Personal Income Tax Act cap. P8 LFN 2004, findings also revealed that JTB is the body statutorily mandated to contribute to the advancement of the tax administration in Nigeria”, especially “in the area of harmonization of Personal Income Tax administration throughout Nigeria.” Well, one can only hope that appropriate quarters would use the circumstances in Osun to resolve needless conflicts in job descriptions between NBS and JTB.

As Aregbesola remarked while declaring open the Board’s 140th Quarterly Meeting in Osogbo, tax payment is about the most important component of any civilized and forward-looking society; because, “without taxes, there’s no government.” Essentially therefore, sustaining any government involves active participation of the people; and the way to it is taxation!

Well, though Osun is at the moment not there in terms of IGR and tax remittances, it bears repeating that the present administration has done well in growing the state’s IGR base from a miserable N300 million monthly average in 2010 to where it currently stands. It is therefore believed that, if the taxable population is mobilized to pay its dues “adequately and sufficiently”, the state will no doubt be better for it.

Let’s come back to the Bureau and its inaccurate information! When Benjamin Disraeli wittily painted “lies, damned lies and statistics” as three kinds of lies troubling our world, he probably might have had our NBS in mind. This is because inaccurate information distorts facts and misleads the people. It exaggerates accomplishments and stigmatizes performance in subsequent tasks. It impinges on the evaluation of the government in power and habitually sets the led against their leaders.

Though endowed with human and natural resources, Osun had never come close to fulfilling its potentials until Aregbesola assumed office as governor. A classical example of impressive performance and impactful governance in times of an unstable economic situation, it is interesting to note that, right from his days in the Bola Tinubu-led administration in Lagos State, Aregbesola has been a passionate advocate of efficient taxation in Nigeria. That he has conspicuously and consistently deployed his unwavering resilience, unmistakable commitment, innovative ideology, administrative ingenuity, political prowess and determined efforts towards making Osun a good example to showcase to the world that taxpayers’ money can be used to develop a society for good did not come as a surprise.

Information feeds democracy! Beyond NBS inaccuracy and cynics’ duplicity, one can easily see that Osun taxpayers’ money is working! For instance, no fewer than 13,000 persons have accessed the Free AMBULANCE services and no fewer than 250,000 students in 1,382 public primary schools across the state have been covered in its one-free-meal-per-day policy since its inception.

So far, so impressive: primary and secondary healthcare services at public facilities, including anti-retroviral medication, are being rendered free-of-charge. This is in addition to free laboratory services and surgery for pregnant women, children under the age of 5, and elderly persons in 876 Primary Healthcare facilities and 51 Secondary Health facilities across the 67 Local Government Areas, Local Council Development Areas, Area Councils and Area Offices in the state.

Between 2010 and 2017, more than 50,000 qualified youth have been employed and empowered under the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) and no fewer than 100,000 smallholder farmers have so far benefitted from the state’s ‘Agric Land Bank’ programme. Between 2011 and 2015, more than 7,000 farmers from 500 cooperative societies have benefited from the state’s low interest loans under the Quick Intervention Programme (QUIP).

Besides, Osun Rehabilitation Programme (O’REHAB) has succeeded in treating no fewer than 100 persons with mental disabilities, particularly those who had been living on the streets while 1,602 elderly persons of age 65 and above, who met poverty criteria, have been receiving N10,000,00 monthly for their upkeep, in addition to medical care, under the ‘Agba Osun’ scheme.

While Aregbesola’s unprecedented revolution in infrastructure development and massive road construction are visible to the naked eye, I had probably underestimated the differences between the education system in Osun and elsewhere in the country until Abiola, my 8-year old boy, had a taste of its carefully-planned academic programme. At a stage, I was close to confronting his headmaster when I learnt of the ‘hurdles’ my little boy would have to cross on his way to qualifying for the Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination.

With these tip-of-the-iceberg achievements, one would have expected a data-dependent organization and statistical information provider of NBS status to be without blemish in the discharge of its responsibilities to the public.

However, obviously imprecise information like the one on hand cannot but compel one to ask if Osun is a state against itself in terms of timely release of facts and figures to relevant agencies for processing. Or is it a case of some prodigals and prostitutes, somewhere, mightily profiting from making dear state a systematic target of slippery, sloppy rumours and conspiracy theories?

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in the State of Osun!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

 

Abiodun Komolafe,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

 

Insecurity: How President Buhari Is Maintaining Peace And Security, By Ayobami Akanji

I want to assure you without mincing words that the Boko Haram terrorists have been defeated, all we are fighting for now is the peace in the northeast” – Lt Gen Tukur Y. Buratai

The maintenance of national peace and security by the present Administration, though incredibly tasking, has been largely misunderstood.
However, taking everything into account, we will begin to appreciate the excellent achievements of the Administration in keeping Nigeria safe and united, despite the odds. On assumption of office, the Buhari Administration inherited a plethora of crisis – the Boko Haram insurgency had raged on for over ten years, the Niger Delta militancy, the Biafran agitation, and the herdsmen/farmers attacks.
President Buhari himself aptly noted this reality when he posited that ‘Insecurity and the parlous economy were the challenges (we) inherited at inception.’

In reviewing President Buhari’s deft response to these crises and his unwavering commitment to defending the territorial integrity of the country, it is clear that he has demonstrated profound capabilities in ridding the nation of insurgency and other insecurity challenges.

The Administration has taken a multilateral approach in decimating the enemies of the State, a holistic retooling of the starved Armed Forces is ongoing strategically, deployment of full battalion of Special Forces, establishment of the new Order of Battle (OBAT).

As a military strategist who understands the import of gathering intelligence in the fight against counter-insurgency, President Buhari approved the setting up of an intelligence fusion center to serve as an analytic hub to help understand the local implications of national intelligence by tailoring national threat information into local context.

 The fusion center is in Maiduguri, the epicenter of the insurgency in the North-East. The Buhari Administration is coming with a mix of solutions in this battle, as the President launched a new policy framework and national action plan for the prevention and combat of terrorism in Nigeria.

Fighting insecurity is very complicated and requires deliberate and sustainable winning strategy. The United States which is known for a strong commitment in combating terrorism commits billions of dollars to ensure its national security on one hand and global safety on the other, giving the scheming of agents of destabilization and their secret dealings in harnessing resources to resurface and destabilize the prevailing achieved peace.

There is need therefore for maximum wisdom backed with necessary financial support. On that ground, it becomes illogical and futile to start challenging the financial commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari in maintaining peace. Nigerians trust that President Buhari will use the funds exclusively to address the insecurity challenges and that same will not be misused, misappropriated or diverted.

Let’s assume the government does not take adequate measure to sustain the achieved security, and the situation degenerates into full-scale lawlessness and anarchy, the critics of the government would turn around to blame the Federal Government for allowing such case that could undermine our corporate existence and national unity.

Therefore, the opposition in some quarters to Government’s courageous decision to commit 1 billion dollars to fight insecurity is both unhelpful and unwarranted. It is also unpatriotic and self-serving. Do the critics care for this country or do they simply want to hear their own voice. This is one criticism beyond reason and commonsense. Government’s intentions have been made clear ab initio.

Moreover, the Vice President specified in his address during the National Security Summit of the National Economic Council that the 1 billion dollar vote for security was rationally allocated to contain various security challenges in different parts of the country. In essence, these dedicated funds will also be used to tackle the militancy in the Niger Delta, herdsmen crisis in the North, kidnapping in the East, Boko-Haram and many others.

Therefore, the criticism is a mere distraction which the government needs to ignore and instead vigorously pursue its popular agenda of securing Nigeria. This Administration received an overwhelming, nationwide electoral mandate and therefore has both a constitutional and moral duty to keep the country safe and secure. If it requests for funds to achieve this goal, it goes without saying that it is acting appropriately and deserves everyone support.

The government of President Buhari is not only appreciated internally for responding responsibly and efficiently to national insecurity, but the international community continues to recognize its commitments to maintaining regional and global peace and security. It is no surprise that the Administration enjoys the support and respect of the governments of the United States, Russia, France, Britain, and Pakistan.

Once again, the support and goodwill of the international community vindicates the present Administration in its fight against insecurity. Nigerians certainly feel safer under President Buhari because they consider him strong-willed and capable of confronting the numerous security challenges faced by the country. As a democratically elected government which respects people’s right to an opinion, the Buhari Administration employs a mix of persuasive force and diplomacy in responding to security situations, depending on their nature. That was what was lacking in the immediate past Administration which consequently compounded the fight against the insurgency.

The critics should, therefore, reexamine their position and join the government in ensuring that peace and security are achieved for Nigeria to forge ahead as the mouthpiece of Africa in the global context.

Written by Ayobami Akanji, a political strategist.

Investing In The Nigerian People: The Osinbajo’s Paradigm, By Amaechi Agbo

“A successful economic development strategy must focus on improving the skills of the country’s workforce, reducing the cost of doing business and making available the resources business needs to compete and thrive in the nation’s economy” – Rod Blagojevich

Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Oluyemi Osibanjo is one man who has taken the monumental task of spearheading the  diversification of the Nigerian economy from a mono-economy to one that has a multiplicity of sources towards breaking the tag of oil as the mainstay of the nation’s revenue.

Weeks ago, the Vice President told  a global audience how the government of President Muhammad Buhari has revamped Nigerian economy through purposeful policies and programmes.

Speaking during the 10th year Colloquium of former Lagos State governor and leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Ahmed Tinubu in Lagos, recently, the Vice President recounted how the present administration inherited a weak economy ravaged by corruption and ineffective policies that sooner than later plunged the country into avoidable recession had past governments did the needful in stabilizing the economy.

To pull the country out of recession and create jobs for Nigerian youths, the Vice President highlighted that the administration was left with only two options: heavy investment in agriculture and the need to put in place an audacious Social Investment Programme to the tune of N500 billion, the largest  pro-poor programme in Nigeria’s history, and the largest social safety net, at least in Sub-Saharan Africa to date.

The Vice President went further to note that other policies such as N-Power Programme has created 200,000 jobs for undergraduates employed as well as 300,000 more waiting to be employed; the beneficiaries have been pre-selected stressing that over 7 million children are being fed daily in 22 States so far; beneficiaries of microcredit loans going to about 300,000; and almost 300,000 households benefiting from conditional cash transfers.

The successes recorded by its social investment programmes are clear indications that the President Mohammadu Buhari administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is making progress.

To actualise the set target of ERGP, the economic team, headed by the Vice President had two options to explore. One of which was investing heavily in agriculture thereby creating jobs in the hinterlands, providing enough food locally and for all of the urban areas. In the agriculture programme, the ERGP has been a tremendous success as several millions of Nigerians have been employed in agriculture. This has led Mr. President to confess that some people who have abandoned their farms, in his own village where they used to let out farms or lease out their farms to farmers from Kano have decided to retain their farms for their own agricultural uses. Who wants to be left out anyway? The President added that nobody in Katsina State is leasing out their farms anymore as they all have gone back to farm.

The second option which the Economic Team explored also to the fullest was putting in place an audacious Social Investment Programme, SIP, to the tune of N500 billion; the largest  pro-poor programme in Nigeria’s history, and the largest social safety net, at least in Sub-Saharan Africa. This was despite the fact that by 2015, oil prices fell by over 50% and Nigeria’s production also fell from over 2 million barrels a day to less than 700,000 barrels a day, sometimes even 500,000 barrels in 2016.

But today, the empirical evidence of the successes of this programme, and all of that is evident for Nigerians to see and listen to several testimonies and stories.

The social investment programmes, which are a key component of the administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), have made significant strides nationwide because of the administration’s political will and vision to make the needed investments, for today and the future.

The Federal Government is leveraging on the creativity and innovation of young Nigerians to steady the economy and improve the living standards of the citizenry.

For instance, 200,000 jobs have been created for graduates employed under the N-Power programme with 300,000 more waiting to be employed after they have been pre-selected.

N-Power, is known as the jobs-for-graduates component of the Social Investment Programme. It deploys young Nigerians to work as health and teaching assistants, and agriculture extension workers, thus bringing healthcare, quality education and improved agriculture output to more people across the country.

Also, over 7 million children are being fed daily in 22 States so far; another 300,000 beneficiaries receive microcredit loans; and almost 300,000 households are benefiting from the Buhari conditional cash transfers of 5,000 monthly. 

The federal government commenced the implementation of its Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) payments to beneficiaries in nine states early last year. The nine pilot states are Borno, Kwara, Bauchi, Cross River, Niger, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti. Last year, the federal government allocated N500 billion for the implementation of its social welfare agenda.

The nine pilot states were chosen because they have an existing social register that identified the most vulnerable and poorest Nigerians in their localities through a community-based targeting method designed by the World Bank.

However, other states that have already begun developing their social registers have been included in the subsequent phases of the CCT implementation with the number of states implementing the CCT programme now 22 as at August last year.

The cash transfer programme, which the APC-led national government is delivering with the support of the World Bank, makes it imperative for beneficiaries to fulfil certain conditions relating to health or education, before they can receive their monthly stipends. These conditions range from mandatory ante-natal care for pregnant women, to mandatory immunisations for nursing mothers, to minimum school attendance rates for parents of school-age children.

With the primary aim of ERGP  being to invest in the Nigerian people, the federal government is expanding the reach and quality of the nation’s healthcare, through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS); and working to guarantee basic education for all persons, whilst also upgrading and modernising the quality of secondary and post-secondary education.

The Buhari led administration is not paying lip-service to investing in the Nigerian people. And Vice President Osinbajo has been the key driver – as the head of the country’s economic management team. He has provided astute idea-driven and capable leadership. Like most investments, the fruits may not come out immediately, but assuredly, decades from today, Nigerians would indeed be thankful for the Buhari – Osinbajo Presidency. 

Amaechi Agbo is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja

avameche@gmail.com

Our Enemy Of The state, By Mukhtar Maigamo

After many months of Filibustering by Senator Shehu Sani’s Committee, the Senate has finally (albeit without justifiable reasons) disapproved the $350m budget support facility granted to Kaduna State by the World Bank.

Is that the end of life for us, good people of Kaduna? Certainly no. Kaduna shall rise and prosper, governor Elrufai will surely fulfil his promises, (as can be seen by simple glimpse of our sectorial histogram,  that we reached 70% completion in all aspects) the Kaduna restoration master plan will continues as planned. Our Kaduna will be great again in spite of Shehu Sani’s ignoble role. It will never in any way deter our state from the paths of transformation. As we can see, long time ago governor Elrufai has since explored other ways of continuing with the development works for which purpose the $350 Million loan was earlier being sought for.

But lets ponder!

It is well-known that the main purpose for seeking this loan by governor Elrufai was to build schools, hospitals, roads etc. So this singular act of Shehu Sani implies that he’d rather our children don’t get a decent public education as espoused by the governor, he’d rather our kids thrown back to the streets, he rather our women and children don’t get access to good health facilities; and he’d rather that our state remains underdeveloped. This is the height of meanness by the man who claimed to be pro poor. Lives of over 10 million people in Kaduna have supposedly being put on the line because of selfish interest of this Senator. The senate’s rejection of our loan request, orchestrated by Shehu Sani, has conspicuously revealed his true color as the greatest enemy of Kaduna state and her people. The enemy of Kaduna’s progress, who gave primacy to his primordial interest against the collective interest of Kaduna people.

But that is the irony and one of the pitfalls SAK. If not for the SAK syndrome, Senator Shehu Sani would never have been in the Chamber today. This is the man who rode to Senate on the coattails of PMB, Elrufai and most importantly on the popular will of the people, but has now sacrificed the lives of not only his constituents but the entire lives of Kaduna people on the altar of politics. This is unbecoming of a man who professed progressive. Whatever it is between you and the governor, you can’t thwarts state’s efforts to actualize her desires for bringing concrete development to the people of the state. You can’t put the lives of more than 12 million people on the line just because you want to settle scores with the governor.

Kaduna state is one, and the general interest of her people should trumps individual interest at all times. No matter the political differences, no matter what; the general interests of the citizenry must be the first consideration of each and every person that occupies the position of authority in the name of the state. But Shehu Sani who claimed to be progressive, is nothing but fake and self-centered.  Just because the Senator is begrudging the governor, and just because he bears ill-will towards Dr uba Sani, (the political Adviser to the governor) we the people of the state, the ultimate beneficiaries of this loan would be at the receiving end.

A CLARION CALL.

I am making a clarion call to the people of zone two senatorial district to not only read a riot act to the man who toyed with their lives because of his personal politics, but to send him into oblivion by voting him out next year. A man who did nothing for them apart from commissioning borehole, and become a caricature of frivolities is now working hard to stop developmental projects from reaching them.

Mukhtar Garba Maigamo,

Special Assistant to the Governor of Kaduna State on Public Affairs

How Most Nigerians Waste About 6 Months Yearly Doing Little Or Nothing, by Philip Obin

Think about this…
There are 52 Sundays and 52 Wednesdays in the year 2018. 52 days is about 2 months. 52 x 2 = 104 days and almost 4 months.
2-4 months is enough time to learn one or more of the following:
1. Web Design and development
2. Agropreneur
3. Photography
4. Graphics design
5. Digital marketing
6. Tiling
7. Photo and video editing
8. Blogging/Vlogging
9. Accounting
10. Public speaking
11. Basic Car Maintenance
12. A foreign language
13. Tailoring
And the list continues…
However, in my Nigeria, most people spend these 2-4 months at worship places or churches. Some worship on Sundays and Wednesdays, while others do Sunday, Wednesday, Friday plus other early morning and evening programs, all in search of miracles or an attempt to ‘please God’. But the question is “Are we really pleasing God?” Does the huge amount of time we spend at worship houses reflect in our daily lives as a people?
Why are all manners of crimes rising within a people where the average 30yrs old has spent about half of his life in religious houses listening to the word of God, which teaches us to do good and abstain from anything bad or evil?
As if that isn’t enough, we also waste another cumulative 1 month celebrating Christmas, New Year, Easter and Sallas, yet, most of us also don’t work on Saturdays. Sunday is a no-go area for the majority. They can’t even imagine themselves going to work on Sunday – God forbid! What about the plenty unnecessary events events we must attend most weekends or even during the week?
Almost every Nigerian has a ‘man of God’ they call or go to for prayers, yet very few of us have a business, personal finance or personal development coaches, mentors, consultants, a lawyer or even a doctor!
Just today (Easter), I drove around the whole Surulere, Yaba, Mushin, Aguda and environs looking for electricals shop to buy some electrical fittings that just went bad last night, in preparation for my 7day digital entrepreneurship training holding in Lagos from tomorrow 2nd through 8th of April. I couldn’t find the fittings I was looking for, as almost all the shops were closed for Easter.
But on the hand, while I was driving around the highly deserted city of Lagos, I noticed certain businesses were fully open and operational. Amazingly, these business premises witnessed usually high traffic and patronage as a result of the many competitors who had shut down for Easter. I decided to take stock of the businesses that were open, and shockingly, the majority of them were foreign brands and companies; the likes of Shoprite, KFC, Mobil, Spar, and so on.
The few Nigerian companies that were open, are actually big and established brands that have already made, yet understand the importance of time and so don’t play with their business! The average Nigerian businesses were all shut down for Easter. The same struggling businesses that needed this opportunity most to maximise turnover.
Funny enough, only Nigerians who run their own small businesses or work for others don’t go to work on Sundays of festive seasons. But Nigerians who work for foreign companies are made to work on weekends, including Sundays and festive seasons. Can you spot the difference?
It’s good to worship God, spend time in his presence and also socialise. I don’t have issues with that, after all, ‘we cannot come and go and kill ourselves’ in the name of working hard or hustling. LOL. I am not against all that. My point is that we must learn to strike a balance.
However, my problem is that a lot of Nigerians prioritise religious activities against their source of livelihood and business, even as some have left their jobs on account that the place of work is too far from their church or that the job doesn’t allow them adequate time to attend their religious activities. Some have also rejected a couple of job offers on account that such jobs are against their religious beliefs. Really?
My questions for this kind of Nigerians are:
1. Has your man of God ever shut down his church on a Sunday to attend to frivolities or your own business?
2. Do they have ‘welfare’ departments that look into your economic well being other than your spiritual well-being?
3. Does your school also run a business school or just Sunday school?
4. Is your church amongst the many modern churches that don’t even bother to capture your details in their database and only interested in your offering and tithes?
5. How do we make meaningful progress as a people with this kind of mentality and culture?

Like former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola once said, a country with more religious houses than industries can hardly make meaningful progress.
The average Nigerian needs to learn about the value of time and time management, if we must make progress. Time, not money, is our most precious resource, as humans. Everyone has some dreams in life. Dreams demand time and effort. We think we will have plenty of time later to do things. Later, we realize that if we had done it earlier, it could have been better. Most of us only understand the value of time after we lost it.
Some other group on Nigerians, especially the younger ones, who managed to escape from the religious trap, are trapped on social media where they waste an average of 6hrs daily debating Jonathan vs. Buhari or PDP vs. APC, or just debating some random trends, forgetting that time lost is like a life lost. It can never be recovered; not even with any amount of money.
Late Steve Jobs once said that his favourite things in life don’t cost him any money. He said it was really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time. Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. And until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.
This reminds me of the fact that the average Lagosian spends an average of 4 hours on the road commuting to and from work daily, which about 1,460hrs in a year or about 2 months. Millions of Lagosians lose this huge amount of time on the road daily, without knowing there are a couple of things they could do while stuck in traffic, especially for those who aren’t driving but use commercial vehicles.
I have always advocated for a 24hr Lagos, as one of the limited ways to ameliorate the traffic situation in the state. As a mega commercial city, imagine a Lagos where about 30% of its workforce work at night; the manufacturing sector, the ICT related industries, and just about any other industry or corporates who care to, especially where security is somewhat guaranteed. This would slash the unending traffic congestion in the state as well and swell the economy of the state further.
But until then, some of the things you can do while stuck in a traffic jam include:
1. Digital marketing
2. Listen to good radio stations
3. Reading a book
4. Call or chat a family member you haven’t in a while.
5. Say positive affirmations to yourself
6. Make new friends
How we Spend our Time:
Check yourself. How you spend your day? Are you just getting lost in your daily activities? Are you getting close to your goals in life? Often we think so much but never find time to make it happen.
Does negativity eat up your time? Sometimes we focus on the negative aspect more than the positive. Negative thinking tries to keep you in the same place.
Shift your focus from “What cannot be done” to “What can be done”. Spend your time to move forward in life.
Let us see some quotes about the spending our time wisely:
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” ~ Bruce Lee
“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.” ~ Henry Ford
“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” ~ Coco Chanel
“Ordinary people think merely of spending time. Great people think of using it.” ~ Author Unknown
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” ~ William Penn
 
Do you dare to Waste your Time?
If you think you are wasting time, you are wrong my dear. Actually, time is wasting you day by day, so you must learn to use yourself as much as you can.
Here is what they say about wasting time:
“Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them.” ~ Dion Boucicault
“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
“Time = Life, Therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.” ~ Alan Lakein
“Lost time is never found again.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
“You can’t make up for lost time. You can only do better in the future.” ~ Ashley Ormon
 
I do not have Time:
We always complain about the lack of time. We all have equal 24 hours and we can do a lot in those 24 hours. It is all about priorities.
Often we spend a lot of time on the things that are of less priority such as watching TV, gossiping, reading newspapers, wasting time on social media, and walking here and there.
It is good to make time for enjoyment. However, manage your time to work on the important things as well. You will always find time to do things that you really want to do in life.
Here are great sayings for you if you say you do not have time:
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” ~ Zig Ziglar
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.” ~ Charles Buxton
“The essence of self-discipline is to do the important thing rather than the urgent thing.” ~ Barry Werner
Do not Wait. Start it today:
Time is precious. Time is limited. Do not wait so long to do anything in life.
I have seen people who wait for the perfect time. They wait until they have a clear picture. They wait until they will have all resources. Patience is good but you cannot wait forever. If you keep waiting for long, you will regret later.
Do you find time to work on your dreams? If not now when?
Enough is enough. Take the first step. Move a bit every day. Experiment with where you are and what you have. Your vision will become clear when you take the initial steps.
Here are some quotes that tell us to start using our time right now:
“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” ~ Napoleon Hill
“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” ~ William Shakespeare
“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” ~ Proverb
“One day at a time–this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering.” ~ Unknown
 
To be continued…
 

By

Philip Obin

CEO @ Potech Ltd
President @ Club080.com
Founder @ Wazobialand.com
Business & Media Consultant
APC Chairmanship Candidate,
Biase LGA, Cross River State,
08027196002 | @PhilipObin

Court Of Law Or Court Of Bills: When Courts Are Without Standing, By Ali Ahmad

As far as one knows, no court in the United States of America has ever issued an injunction against the Congress, restraining it from summoning any person or preventing it from concluding any proceedings before it. In the United Kingdom, this phenomenon is even unthinkable. Emeritus Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN has also cited numerous African and Commonwealth countries where this practice of stopping parliament through court injunctions is also unheard of.
What Justice Ahmed Mohammed did on March 14 was to allow his court to be used to scrutinize constitutionality, not of a law but, of a pending bill on election. If you are not alarmed by the peculiar pronouncement of Justice Mohammed purporting to restrain the Senate from proceeding on passing of the bill, then you have overlooked a dangerous precedent and a big threat to our democracy.
We would all soon be alarmed when in the near future, I bet, a judge would try to stop the parliament from e.g. passing the budget, or from screening ministerial nominees, or from considering committee reports. Apart from being the first judge to allow interpretation of provisions of a bill in a court of law, Justice Mohammed scored another first by restraining Mr. President from assenting to the bill.
Judiciary has been restraining parliament but it has never restrained the executive in the exercise of its constitutional powers. Undoubtedly, this would have opened doors for anybody to seek to restrain a President from convening a Federal Executive Council meeting. Perhaps again after unexpected leaders would have emerged during the Ninth Assembly in 2019, a judge would issue an injunction stopping a Mr. President or Governor from exercising their powers under S. 64 or S.105 of the Constitution to inaugurate a new parliament!
But consider a few more examples of where judiciary has unconstitutionally and undemocratically interfered with the exercise of legislative powers. Last February, Justice Anwuli Chikere held that the House of Representatives could not continue with an investigative hearing on the Law School hijab controversy with Miss Firdaus.
Also, the court in Adeola Vs. HOR (2015) prevented legislators from casting votes to change their Majority Leader during the dying days of the Jonathan Administration. Again, Mr. Justice Gabriel Kolawole (now of Court of Appeal) stopped the Senate from inviting the former EFCC Chairman to disclose the whereabouts of recovered looted assets and whether some of the assets have not been illegally converted to personal use. The billions of Naira at stake are forever hanging: Ibrahim Lamorde V. The Senate (2015).
So many more instances abound. Indeed, an undemocratic precedent is gradually being established in Nigeria whereby when a public official is invited on investigative hearing that is of national interest, he rushes to court and a judge will readily stop the parliament in what is couched as interim order, but in effect a permanent one.
Many Nigerian lawyers, and judges, do not believe there is a matter on the face of the earth which the court system cannot or should not entertain. And it is only in Nigeria. But I dare say this Nigerian belief is erroneous. They cite copiously from the Constitution as if we are the only one in the world that operates a written Constitution, or that the provisions of our Constitution originate from such locations as Daura, Ile Ife, or Benin, or are inspired by philosophies that are exclusively Nigerian.
As with the other two arms of government, judicial power is limited by the principle of separation of power. I am sure many lawyers may not like it, but reality is that judicial activism stops where legislative powers begin. Judicial power in any system of government, democracy or autocracy, is not infinite and Nigerian courts should embrace their limit and not arrogate to themselves the power to tell the legislature how to exercise its own power. Let me have the answer when you ask a typical judge, “what is the adjudicatory limit of Nigerian courts?”
?The fact is Nigeria operates a presidential system of government, and it is the Constitution that has allocated governmental powers between the three arms. The Constitution can only codify so much of hundreds of years of democratic practice of the West, especially the USA. As a code our Constitution, however long winded, can only capture salient features of this system of government, leaving the day-to-day detailed practice to treatises, publications and exchange of ideas and visits which legislators do undertake.
Separation of Powers is an established tenet of this system. The Court of Appeal has since held Separation of Powers to mean, among others, that one branch of government should not exert control on another in Hon. Abdullahi Ahmed V. SOHA.
?
Yet, the statement of Justice Mohammed is symptomatic of a wider trend of judiciary-induced roadblock against the parliament. I am one of those who share the notion that the tendency is extremely high for a negative judicial pronouncement on any parliamentary process and procedure. Whenever it has to exercise discretion in determining propriety of exercise of legislative power, it is unlikely the judiciary will not pothole exercise of that power, even if that decision is incongruous with established global legislative practice. One further example will suffice.
?
For centuries, courts in all democratic countries across the world have been barred from reaching out against legislators regarding whatever they say or do during legislative or committee proceedings. This is called freedom of debate or legislative immunity. Trust Nigerian courts, they nullified the privilege in Hon. Mike Balonwu V. Obi (2007).  Of course, this decision has been jettisoned when President Buhari recently signed the newly-passed bill re-authorizing legislative immunity.
?But if Balonwu’s case was at variance with global parliamentary practice, by all standards of due process it was a constitutionally appropriate judgment: it decided on the propriety of a concluded Act of Parliament. More strange are orders like the ones cited above that tend to prevent ongoing legislative proceedings by any guise. By the provisions of S 4(5), (8), (9) as well as S. 6 of the Constitution, no one has ever argued that the court cannot determine propriety of anything and everything that the parliament has completed doing.
However, there is nothing unique in those provisions that make the Nigerian judiciary alone stretch its mandate to settling immature disputes. ?
?To neutralize the power of the legislature, some judges find support in S. 4 (8) of the Constitution which states, “Save as otherwise provided by this Constitution, the exercise of legislative powers by the National Assembly or by a House of Assembly shall be subject to the jurisdiction of courts of law”.  If the courts are trying to discard the saving clause and give literal interpretation to S 4(8) in disregard of other provisions, then they should clearly say so and articulate the new concept of Separation of Power.
If these judges were to be correct, it would mean every single legislative power from beginning to the end is exercisable at the behest of the Judiciary. Thus, when Mr. President or a Governor has to address the parliament and the Standing Rules of parliament have to be suspended to allow strangers into the hallowed chambers, a busy-body plaintiff would be allowed to secure an injunctive order preventing that from happening.
In fact, in line with their reasoning, nothing stops a court from issuing an order restraining the National Assembly from sitting, and shutting down its gates. Nothing at all. What a pretentious claim to presidential system of government.
?Regrettably, it has been impossible for the Nigerian legislature to fully comply with some restraining orders of the court. For instance, there have been many injunctive orders barring National or State Assemblies from suspending any member they deem errant. None has been obeyed to date because they are impracticable to be obeyed. Parliament is a hotbed of politics, and many judges may be unaware that the grundnorm there is the majority rule, every other thing is subservient. The earlier the courts accept this, the better for a legislative-judiciary relationship and the better for our democracy.
When courts give purported orders on matters that are moot, they are not orders, they are advisories and courts are not known to give advisories, they give orders backed with sanctions. Courts in developed democracies are wiser so they restrain themselves from granting restraining orders to uncompleted actions of the parliament.
?
To the credit of Nigerian legislature, it has bent backwards to avoid any altercation with the judiciary over the years, despite constant unfriendliness. All legislative houses in the country have this similar provision: “Reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending, in such a way as might in the Speaker’s opinion prejudice the interest of parties thereto.” If in a Speaker’s opinion, a debate would not jeopardise interest of the parties, that opinion is final. Or, this provision can be totally suspended in a jiffy, so the House can fully debate a pending judicial matter. And there is nothing anybody from outside can do about it.
However, based on the respect for the judicial arm, neither of these routes has been taken. I know many Nigerians did not appreciate the depth of his statement in reaction to Justice Chikere’s order on the Law School saga, when the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara said: “We have respected the judiciary a lot and we expect same from them. We would part ways with the judiciary if it continues to gag the National Assembly.” Thus, with a disappointed Senate, writing a letter and a saddened House sending a powerful delegation to the venerable Chief Justice of Nigeria, it seems the National Assembly has had enough and its back is now against the wall.
Ban Interim Orders Against Parliament
My own conviction to ensure that Nigeria adheres to the universal values and principles of democracy, especially the principle of Separation of Powers, is that judiciary should immediately find a way to ban itself from issuing interim or injunctive orders against the parliament. It has done it before, when it reportedly banned issuance of such orders against the EFCC.
Our electoral regime also bans such injunctions from issuing in order to stop a federal election. In the United States, the Supreme Court granted the US Congress “inherent contempt power”, which Congress now uses to imprison anyone that flouts or challenges its summons or resolutions in its own jailhouse. Anderson V. Dunn 19 US 204 (1821). Since then, the US courts have prevented themselves by themselves from extending their own inherent powers of granting interim injunctions against congressional proceedings.
What is more, banning interim orders against the legislature will properly enthrone the principle of Separation of Powers as properly envisaged by the Nigerian Constitution and consistent with the 2007 African Charter on Democracy.
An extreme solution which should be avoided would be to create another Constitutional Court to be manned by specialised judges who are thoroughly schooled in nuances of liberal democratic practice and conversant with threshold global standards. Currently, such courses are not taught in law faculties or the Law School, although the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies is fast becoming a household name in the area. Available data indicate that democratic processes and gains are receding worldwide; Nigeria should not be a contributor to this disturbing trend.

Right Of Reply: The Editor Of The Guardian And The Defence Of Looting, By Laolu Akande

There is something incongruous about the Editor of the Guardian Newspapers, a paper once known for its strident advocacy against abuse of power and corruption, to excoriate a Vice President who repeatedly calls out perpetrators of grand corruption. Even more astonishing is the fact that the Editor, Mr. Abraham Ogbodo abdicates the investigative role of his newspaper when there are allegations of corruption, but works hard to disparage both the information supplied and the informer.

While it is clear that the Editor is a rabid PDP apologist, and this is obvious from the direction that he has taken the newspaper since he assumed the role, one would have thought that, even if only to give an appearance of fairness in the great tradition of a newspaper celebrated for balance, (and “the best tradition and ideals of republican democracy”) he would still not descend to the use of abusive language against the Vice President.

Perhaps it might help to reiterate what the VP said at the Quarterly Business Forum held on the 19th of March, 2018. His basic premise was that grand corruption constitutes the preeminent problem of Nigeria’s economic development. He said that, unlike any other country, it would be either ignorant or negligent of any economic planner in Nigeria not to fully appreciate the massive hemorrhaging that comes from corruption. He went on to point out that despite the fact that the nation earned between $100 to $114 a barrel of oil between 2011 and 2014, investment in capital was abysmal.

He argued that the difference between the current government and the previous one is that the current government has tamed grand corruption and the impunity in the looting of public resources and is thus able to spend more on capital even when it is earning probably 50% less than the previous government. He gave one example of 2014. Then, oil prices were consistently over $100 dollars a barrel.

Actual capital releases to the Ministries of Works, Housing and Power was N99B. Ministries of Transport and Agriculture got N15B and N14B respectively. In total these 3 ministries got N139B. He compared that with capital releases to the same ministries in 2017, when oil price was between $50 to $60 a barrel: N415B for Power, Works & Housing, N80B for Transportation and N65B for Agriculture, totaling N560B.

In exposing the impunity of the grand corruption in the Jonathan regime, the VP said barely two weeks to the 2015 elections, the sum of $289million dollars was released in cash. ( N104 billion today) That sum of money was disbursed from the JVC account of the NNPC/NAPIMS with the J.P Morgan Chase Bank, and the cash was released on 25 February 2015. Part of the sum was the $43m cash discovered at an apartment last year in Ikoyi and is now the subject of EFCC investigation. The full facts may not of course be disclosed until the case is tried in court. But suffice it to say that even the disbursement of such an amount in cash is a criminal act under our money laundering laws.

In addition, another N60B that had been sourced from the Central Bank towards the latter part of 2014, which was set apart for campaign purposes. It was shared between the then NSA-N40B and SSS N20B. This is apart from another N10B again sourced from the CBN’s Corporate Responsibility Budget in November 2014 that was used for “PDP Presidential Primaries.” Also N2.1B in cash was approved and paid through the office of the National Security Adviser.

Most of the money which was disbursed between January 8 and Feb 25, 2015 was shared between senior PDP members, including companies, without any contracts being awarded to them. Most of them have admitted to receiving these sums of money, some have made refunds, many are on trial, others are prosecution witnesses in the trials.

So while a total of N139B was disbursed to the above listed five key ministries for the entire 2014, well over N100B in cash was disbursed and illegally shared within a few weeks by the same government! This shows how corruption can completely undermine an economy. Amazingly, Mr Ogbodo pretends not to be aware of these facts though they have been in the public domain for almost two years.

A few days later, at the Ogun State investment Forum, while speaking on the subject of the catastrophic impact of grand corruption on the Nigerian economy, the VP also gave an example of the looting of Nigeria’s oil earnings through the so-called Strategic Alliance Contracts involving two companies owned by the duo of Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko. The companies lifted Nigerian oil, by some estimates in excess of $3billion( over N1Trillion) and paid nothing back. The theft was not limited just to that amount but also included unpaid taxes and royalties.

The VP then pointed out that government was now putting together about this same sum of $3B to build the following roads: Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road, 2nd Niger Bridge, Enugu-PH road, East-West road, Sagamu-Ore-Benin road, Kano-Maiduguri road, Abuja-Lafia-Akwanga-Keffi road and the Lagos-Abeokuta: the old road.

How corruption can defeat our best hopes for the future!

One of the promoters of the company is on trial, the other is still at large although there is strong international collaboration to confiscate their assets all over the world. The effort includes the tracing and confiscation of the assets of the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Dieziani Allison-Maduekwe

Nigeria’s recursive economic growth is not merely because we have for years ran a mono-product economy, it is more because the proceeds of that single product is hijacked by a few. So even when oil earnings were high, the number of the poor, sick, malnourished and child mortalities continued to rise.

For the editor of a major Nigerian Newspaper, like The Guardian, to attempt to trivialize all that, rather than hold the perpetrators to account, is the tragic paradox of corruption fighting back through the very forces established to fight it.

Osinbajo’s Virtues Of Integrity And Loyalty, By Chukwudi Enekwechi

Since the beginning of Nigeria’s current political interregnum about nineteen years ago, the two notable virtues of integrity and loyalty in leadership have remained elusive until the sudden discovery of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Yes, I refer to his emergence as the current Nigeria’s Vice President as a discovery because prior to his becoming President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate in the 2015 Presidential election and subsequently Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo had remained a core professional lawyer who many Lagosians remember with nostalgia as the Attorney General who used the instrumentality of the law to make Lagos a city state that worked for all Nigerians.

He was famous while serving in that position for his adherence to the rule of law and justice for all the residents.

In the present dispensation, Professor Yemi Osinbajo as Vice President has earned a reputation for not only integrity, but for his unalloyed loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari. While some former Nigerian Vice Presidents were notorious for coveting political power, Osinbajo has in practical terms demonstrated loyalty and commitment to the cause of Nigeria’s rejuvenation through team work and cooperation with all concerned.

He has deliberately ensured that his actions as the country’s number two man always fall within the purview of permissible constitutional roles. As a man without opportunistic tendencies, he has not tried to undermine his principal as a way of gaining credit or acceptability among Nigerians.

For example throughout the three months period of President Muhammadu Buhari’s hospitalization in the United Kingdom, Professor Yemi Osinbajo held the forte and used his managerial acumen to navigate the ship of state safely and securely until the return of President Muhammadu Buhari. He did not attempt to usurp power unduly or undermine his boss by taking advantage of his ill health.

We cannot forget in a hurry the political brinkmanship which he deployed at the height of the Niger Delta crisis to restore peace, and assuage the feelings of injustice among the agitators in the Niger Delta region.

His patriotic efforts at nation building have also earned him accolades across the country, as his popularity soared among Nigerians.

Since it is an established belief that circumstances throw up leaders, Professor Osinbajo has emerged as a famous politician with popular acceptance across the country. Indeed he has unconsciously become one of Nigeria’s politicians known and well received across the six geo political zones on account of his antecedents and unwavering commitment to nation building.

Today, he can be ranked among notable Nigeria’s statesman like President Muhammadu Buhari, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and other leaders who effortlessly commanded the support of Nigerians based on their integrity, loyalty and altruism.

Professor Yemi Osinbajo is not only a man of the moment, but also a man of the future. As we approach 2019 and 2023 his integrity, energy and commitment to the service of Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari will surely come into focus. Suffice to say that the present crop of politicians have a duty to emulate personages like Professor Osinbajo who has continued to use any available opportunity to seek workable solutions to the myriad of problems facing Nigeria.

By Chukwudi Enekwechi (JP)

An Abuja – Based Journalist and Politician

kwechis19@yahoo.com

The Unmaking Of A General, By Babayola Toungo

I have had the privilege of listening to several commencement and graduation speeches delivered by statesmen, academics, military officers and even businessmen.  Speeches that are most times inspiring or even exhortation to aspire to higher heights in the wider sphere of life.

I have heard speeches that prepare young graduates for life in the real world; but I have never heard of a graduation speech where graduands are pointedly told to take up arms against one another.  I have the misfortune of listening to one such speech from one of Nigeria’s favoured sons –TY Danjuma, practically calling on these young, innocent graduands to take up arms against their fellow human beings.  A call to arms that does not in any way comes within the purpose and objectives of a valedictorian speech.

Lieutenant General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, a soldier’s soldier, an officer and a gentleman.  These are not my accolades but that of his Jamaican biography writer, Lindsay Barret in his book, “The Making of a General”.  TY, as the general is known achieved what many Nigerians cannot dream of achieving in ten lifetimes.  He was born in the colonial period and grew up to become an “officer and a gentleman” in an era where everyone is given equal opportunities in the north.

After a successful military career, which includes the shooting to death of JTU Ironsi and rising to become the Chief of Army Staff between 1975 – 1979, TY retired into civil life and became a fisherman in Lagos.  He made a name as the moral authority behind the Obasanjo hand-over to civilians in 1979.  His exploits during the Nigerian civil war also counted for him to be regarded as true patriot.  And when he got oil acreage during the Abacha oil blocks allocation bazaar, TY became stupendously rich by selling a portion of the block to the Chinese.  And then the decline started.

The demystification of the TY persona began a long time ago but people were either generous enough not to have noticed or were bamboozled by his largesse.  He had always craved for a fiefdom made up purely of those who TY think should be top guns in whatever political or commercial arrangement they find themselves.  Hence the excision of the old Wukari division from the old Benue Plateau state and merged with the then newly created Gongola state where TY believe his “people” will have the upper hand.

When this failed, TY championed the creation of Taraba state.  Babangida granted his wish, but again it fell short of his expectations because the state capital was taken to Jalingo instead of his beloved Wukari, if not Takum, his ancestral home.

The combination of unearned riches and unfulfilled dreams turned TY into an ethno-religious bigot and chief promoter of ethnic cleansing in his immediate locality.  He tried and failed eliminating the Tivs, who chased him away from Benue Plateau state from Jukun dominated areas; he turned his legendary hatred to their immediate neighbours, the Kutebs with the same results.

With the return of the military to the barracks, TY was in the vanguard of “retired generals in agbada” cohort of politicians.  He took up the role of mobilizing finance for Obasanjo’s presidential campaign in both 1999 and 2003.  He was among those who fought fair and foul to ensure the emergence of Obasanjo in 1999 as the president of Nigeria.  He was reported to have threatened to go into exile if Obasanjo loses the elections.  He was eventually rewarded with the juicy Ministry of Defence portfolio.

TY’s stint as Minister of Defence embroiled him in defence contracts of dubious value that culminated in the overall diminishing of the standards in the military with a very high level loss of morale.  The highest point of deployment of excessive military force in Zaki Biyam, just a shouting distance from TY’s Takum, and Odi in Bayelsa state, were during the tenure of TY.  The explosion of munitions in the military armoury in Ikeja and the theft of arms and ammunition from the armoury of 1 Mechanised Division, Kaduna and the lack of appropriate professional response compelled TY as Minister of Defence to be dragged into the initiative on control of small arms and light weapons (SALW).

Some say this is where engagement of non-state actors that provided a foothold for TY to channel weapons to ethnic and also gave him the pretext to turn around and pass the blame to the Nigerian Army.  The late General Malu documented the woes the army had to endure under TY.

My question here is, was TY using the convocation ceremony to openly recruit more, better-educated personnel into his evolving militia?

Danjuma has gotten the best that this country had to offer any individual and yet he cannot as much as mentor fresh graduates by broadening their horizon in his convocation lecture but rather tried to limit the scope of their worldview further by inciting them to retreat into their ethnic cocoons.  Kids in their impressionable ages who may hero-worship this government-made billionaire are in clear terms to exchange their degrees for the ubiquitous AK 47 and kill fellow human beings.

TY is known for his boldness and has never been known to mince words in expressing his thoughts.  For anyone to assume senility may be responsible for his utterances will be to genuinely miss the point – to be charitable where charity is not required.  His legendary boldness failed in Jalingo, where he issued his war cry.

He made the objective clear – take up arms.  What he failed to make clear in words is the intended target, though that also very clear.  I would respect the old man more had he made the target clear by spelling it out instead of doing so by inference.  He would have made it clear to his audience who the victim and who the aggressor is.  This way we will all have known who to defend ourselves against.

Brigadier General Ahonotu, the then acting GOC of the 3rd Mechanised Division visited the Mambilla plateau in the immediate aftermath of the genocide that took place on the plateau in June last year.  He toured the area on a motorbike and did his on-the-spot assessment.  While addressing Taraba state government functionaries, including the governor, a TY acolyte, the GOC made his disgust for disregard to human life very clear.

In comparing what happened on the Mambilla plateau to the atrocities of Boko Haram, the General was very clear – Boko Haram did not kill women and children while the Mambilla militia killed even pregnant women.  Not a whimper from TY.

It may seem to a civilian like me that TY is intent in disparaging the institution that moulded and made him. This destructive one-track mind might have made him forget that whatever army we have today is a product of his leadership and he is therefore vicariously liable for its decay.  Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian butcher and the architect of modern day ethnic cleansing, was a medical doctor and his Hippocratic oath provided him the façade that he used effectively to hide his propensities, which culminated in the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims.  Conversely with TY, his status of an elder statesman that led to the University inviting him to use their podium as an alter of hate speech.

Experiences elsewhere, such as Rwanda, is pointing to a clear indication that TY has gone beyond hate speech to a position of clear and present danger of carrying out the threat through the guise of the excuse of “self-defence” and blaming the military for creating the environment for arming ethnic militia to act in a convoluted sense of “self defence”.

Could any ethnic cleansing be worse than killing women and children? What do you call a situation where the future of a particular people have been targeted by cutting short the lives of their kids?  Population culling? TY couldn’t raise a voice when the genocide was going-on.

He made reference to “riverine areas” in his inciting speech and I couldn’t comprehend what he meant.  Is TY referring to the states where River Benue traversed?  If so, then he is definitely pushing for an expansion of the theatre of war.  He also repeatedly said, “Nigerians are being killed”.  Who are Nigerians and who are not by TY’s definition?  I will like the general to expatiate.  My instincts

I have only one fear in all this.  There are several Danjumas in all ethnic groups in this country but they are restrained by their culture and ndottaku.  At least for now.  The day they decide to do a Danjuma, many lives will be lost.  God forbid.

Send this to a friend