Niger Hosts HYPPADEC States To Address Critical Challenges

By Abdullberqy Ebbo

Following the challenges experienced by the states that are stakeholders in Hydro-Electric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC), Niger State has called for a meeting to discuss reforms required to actualise the goals of the Commission.

Scheduled to hold in Abuja today, participants are expected to address problems deterring constitution of the Governing Council and appointment of Managing Director of the Commission since the bill establishing it was assented by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010.

Expected at the meeting are the Governors of Plateau, Kogi, Kebbi, Niger and Kwara States, and also senators from these states. Also expected at the meeting are officials from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

The meeting is also necessitated by the difficulties being experienced by communities in the HYPPADEC  states, noting the power challenges that have frustrated activities in these states.  This is despite the communities accounting for the most of the nation’s hydro-electric power.

Immediate actions are intended to be taken from this meeting, especially on the issue of the takeoff of HYPPADEC to which Niger State has long provided an Office Complex to serve as its Headquarters.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

House of Representatives Passes 19 ‘Critical’ Bills In One Sitting

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Buhari’s Trip To China, Long Journey, Many Gains Critical To Nigeria’s Economic Devt And Its Diversification By Aliyu Abdullah

Many will question why President Muhammadu Buhari will embark on a State visit to China this coming Sunday, some will argue that he just came back from the United States of America few days ago after a successful Nuclear Summit where more than 60 World Leaders gathered to discuss the future of a Nuclear Free World and the potentials of Nuclear Energy to a developing Country like Nigeria, some may argue on the cost of these trips, some will reiterate that the Budget which details was just transmitted to the President by the National Assembly has not been assented by the President as the reason why the President should not travel, some will just grumble as usual just as the wailing wailers normally do whenever the President travels out which some of us have come to accept as a new way of opposition politics. However, what many will not do is to carefully articulate the real reasons and gains of the president’s trip to China, hence this writer decides to highlight but a few gains of the China trip.

The Relationship between Nigeria and China started developing with the advent of Military Rule in Nigeria, like any “Challenge” there lies an “Opportunity” that was the consequence of an International isolation and Western Condemnation of Nigeria’s Military Rule. Nigeria has since become an important source of oil and petroleum to China’s rapid growing Economy. China on the other hand has provided extensive economic, military and Political Support to Nigeria. It was reported that from 2000 to date, there was 40 official Chinese Developmental finance projects identified. These projects range from Nigerian Rail of about $2.5 Billion, to Power and ICT sectors.

The Nigeria Chinese relationship is a very important one for so many reasons, Nigeria is currently the 3rd largest trading Nation to China in Africa, 85% of Nigerians viewed Chinese trade relationship with Nigeria as positive making Nigeria a pro China Country according to a BBC Report in 2014.

RAIL TRANSPORTATION: The Loan Facility and undertaking for the execution of the contract for various Rail Projects in Nigeria started sometimes during the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s regime to the recent past administration of Goodluck Jonathan. This Dream Project recorded a mixed story of slow progress and rapid retrogress due to either unfavorable “Terms” negotiated by the Nigerian Government, or corruption rearing its ugly head against the Nation’s interest, for these and many other reasons, the Nigerian Rail Project became largely unsuccessful.

After the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari into office he vowed to tackle the issue of Rail Transportation heads on as he sees it as a catalyst for his economic plans and diversification, for that, Nigeria needs to have its rail transportation back on track otherwise the Governments plans to diversify its economy to Agriculture and Solid Minerals will become a mirage and theoretical at best. The Country needs the Rail Line to move Agricultural Produce/Extracts of Minerals from all parts of the Country to Port Cities which are located in the South Western City of Lagos, Southern Cities of Port Harcourt, Calabar, Warri and Sapele respectively for onward export in order to earn Foreign Exchange and a positive balance of payment for Nigeria. This for sure is one certain way for economic development of the Country.

The Present Government after reviewing all the efforts of past Governments in reviving the ailing Rail sector reached the inevitable decision to continue with China for the Loan Facility and execution of the Rail Project but on a much better negotiated terms and conditions than what the previous Government had conceded. Terms of the facility such as the Moratorium and Repayment Period are considered to be extended over a much longer period of time, specifications of the Machines, equipment and Technical Agreement to a more sophisticated and World Modern against an obsolete technology like it was under the past Agreement.

The Power Project is one important reason for a high level diplomatic mission to China by the Nigerian Government, the Mambilla Hydro Power Project which is capable of generating about 2600 Megawatts of electricity will if completed be the biggest Dam in Africa, like the Rail Project, the Mambilla Hydro Project was conceived many years ago, precisely in 1982. A Memorandum of Agreement was signed in 2012 between Nigeria and a Chinese company, Sinohydro Corporation and that same agreement was cancelled in 2013 by the then Nigerian Government. China Exim Bank was supposed to be the main financier of that expensive and ambitious project of $1 Billion. Once again corruption within the Nigerian Government stopped the Project from becoming a reality and success story. President Buhari is determined to see that this project is revived, executed and Nigeria’s Power generation capacity boosted for the much desired growth and development of the Country.

The President’s trip to China this coming Sunday is to accord these important projects and many numerous trade and other bilateral agreements priority of the highest order and respect. The trade relationship between the 2 countries and its people is very significant and one cannot but accept that China is the largest Economy in the World today, and even right to say more important Nation to Nigeria in the pursuit of economic growth and development, and if so I ask who best to lead this high diplomatic meeting than the Chief Executive of the Nation.

I remember vividly clear like today when some years ago, the erudite Professor Akin Oyebode of the University of Lagos taught us Jurisprudence and international Law, a course normally taken by 500 level (final year) law students, after his favorite tour of Egypt as the first citadel of civilization and land of the Black, the Prof. will normally venture directly to China’s jurisprudence to touch on the Chinese concept of “Li” which commands total obedience to the rule of law through etiquette and respect as against the concept of “Fa” that criminalizes certain unaccepted behaviors, as to do wrong is to likened to self condemnation.

In China, the “Li” concept is significant to self respect and respect to others, the Chinese do not take the issue of respect lightly, it is central to all their actions, and as such a Head of Country’s visit is of enormous importance and the highest level of respect to the Chinese. Therefore, President Muhammadu Buhari in travelling to China has invoked to concept of “Li” which the Chinese are obligated to respond in kind and render all necessary assistance to the economic development of Nigeria. In any event, an economic prosperous Nigeria is a win for China, a bigger Economy and a higher purchasing power for its products.

 

Barr. Aliyu Abdullah,

A Legal Practitioner and Public Affairs Analyst writes from Abuja

 

Editor: Opinion expressed on this page are strictly those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of abusidiqu.com and its associates

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Diversification of the Economy: A Critical Appraisal of the Gas Industry, By Ayobami Ismail Akanji

The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining’? John F. Kennedy

Nigeria is on a threshold of history politically and most importantly economically with various dynamic economic variables been ushered into the country’s economy ardently driven by the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, whose resolve for a total diversification of the economy can’t be overemphasized. He passionately restated this point when the United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker led a delegation of ten American business men and women at the prompting of President Barack Obama. “It’s time to diversify our economy from oil. We have always talked about it, but never got round doing it“, Buhari declared during the meeting.

Oil is a wasting asset or resource, and with Western countries involved in research into alternative sources of energy, it is fatal illusion to depend almost entirely on oil to earn national income to finance development efforts. The fading merit of oil in the growth of the Nigerian economy since its discovery in 1956 till date poignantly highlight the imperative of an urgent diversification which is speedily needed, to advance the development of critical subsectors that are co-integrated into the economy.

For economic interest and due to the sharp decline of the mainstay of the economy (crude oil) which accounts for about 35% of GDP, 75% of government revenue and 90% of export earnings makes Nigeria a mono-economy, government is in a dire strait and needs to muster the political will to nail home the diversification of the economy which is imperative.

Nigeria is a natural resource abundant country, and the most populous OPEC member nation. Over the past fifty years, the oil subsector has grown expontially. Both production and exports increased tremendously since commercial production in 1958. For example, crude production increased from 395.7 million barrels in 1970 to 776.01 million barrels in 1998. The figure increased to 919.3 million barrels in 2006, in the same vein, crude oil exports increased from 139.5 million barrels in 1996 to 807.7 million barrels in 1979. Oil revenue increased from N166.6 million in 1970 to N1 591,675.00 million and N6, 530,430.00 million in 2000 and 2008 respectively.

The huge revenues from oil is expected to have been a game changer in terms of massive infrastructural development, poverty reduction, employment generation for millions of Nigerians, alas the reverse is the case apart from complicating macroeconomics with a mix of pervasive corruption which dominated the oil dependent economy at the expense of agriculture which was once the mainstay of the economy.

In hard times, ( the current situation) economic diversification is the right policy to embrace given the fact that its mostly a process in which a growing range of output is produced, majorly by diversifying activities risen from the fact that the market is relied heavily on production of primary commodities that are to price vulnerability. Nigeria currently witness a sharp decline in the price of oil the 75% plunge in crude prices to around $33 per barrel paints a clear outlook the country faces over the last 9 months with a knock-on effect on government earnings, and no hope of any recovery in the nearest future.

Moreover, sustaining the political will in implementing a robust gas policy anchored on reduction of gas flaring which historically began with the extraction of oil in the 1960s, can be consolidated by government following through with its decision to have more industries stop gas flaring, a cohesive implementation of policy lapses beyond the joint ventures whose major preference is to extract crude and make their profit.

Consequently the gas associated with crude oil is seen as a nuisance and had to be flared, it is time to religiously follow the government enacted law (Associated Gas Re-injection Act, 1979) which charges a fee of US $3.50 for every 1000 standard cubic feet of gas flared. Another major area to be harnessed in the oil and gas sector which is viable in contributing to development of the economy through provision of intermediate inputs to the rest of the economy. These intermediate inputs include crude oil, gas and liquid feed stocks, as well as oil and gas into the refining, petrochemical and energy intensive industries.

Diversification is the new buzz word in town, the present administration evidently has embarked on an aggressive economic policy geared towards revamping a battered economy with an unprecedented boldness and conviction which looks both impressive and revolutionary.

A whooping sum of N1.8 trillion has been voted for capital expenditure with 30% voted for capital project, a Social Protection Investment wherein one million artisans’ market women will be given loans, of N60, 000 each and 500,000 teaching jobs for graduates including N5000 conditional for the poorest of the poor, these are all nouvel policies in the anal of Nigeria’s socio-political and economic evolution.
President Buhari’s commitment to diversify the economy in the face of rapidly changing realities is a clarion call to a country that appears detached from these ugly realities. He is reawakening the country not to take other untapped potential resources for national wealth for granted. Driven by a clear vision and passion to arouse Nigeria out this slumber of overdependence on oil, President Buhari deserves the support of all Nigerians in this regard.

Ayobami Ismail Akanji a Political Strategist writes from Abuja.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Critical Analysis Of Nigerian Senator Oluremi Tinubu’s Recently-Published Book, By Rotimi Fabiyi

Few months ago (specifically March , 2015), the senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District of Lagos State, Nigeria  Senator Oluremi Tinubu, OON released to the general public her second published book titled Stewardship Report: A Collection Of Town Hall Speeches (2011 – 2014). Her first book was an autobiography titled The Journey Of Grace – My Faith Walk and was published before she was elected a senator in 2011 but this her recent book Stewardship Report: A Collection Of Town Hall Speeches (2011-2014) was her first book as an occupant of a seat in the Upper House Of Assembly (The Senate) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Book Stewardship Report: A Collection Of Town Hall Speeches (2011 – 2014) by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (who is the youngest of her father’s 12 children) is, as the title has made clear, a collection of speeches she gave during her several town hall meeting with members of her senatorial district throughout her 4-year stint as a senator before she was re–elected as a senator in the same senatorial district in 2015. Thirteen of such speeches were selected for the purpose of the book and each of the 13 speeches was used as individual chapter in the book.

The book is interesting right from its Chapter 1 because Senator Oluremi Tinubu, OON immediately showed herself as being very knowledgeable about the limits of the functions of a Nigerian senator when she said on page 2 that “… we all know that senators do not have budgetary resources to award contracts and do some of the things done through executive authority…”, repeated on page 61 (Chapter 7) that “… I need to stress that senators’ constitutional roles do not include award of contracts or mass employment as many [Nigerians] erroneously assume…”, and also reiterated on page 105 (Chapter 10) that “… a senator does not decide the choice of contractors and neither do we disburse funds as those in the executive arm..” . These three statements are very important because many Nigerians (even some of those that are educated) are confused about the limits of the functions of a politician or technocrat serving his or her own country through a political post be it by election (senators, representatives , president, governors, etc) or by selection i e direct  appointment (commissioners , ministers , ambassadors ,advisers, etc). This means that many Nigerians are fond of confusing the functions of the legislature  with that of the executive and sometimes  uttering statements that wrongly suggest that the executive can function as the judiciary and the judiciary function as the legislature (it is common to hear Nigerians openly blame their senator for not tarring the roads in his senatorial district or building new schools in the selfsame district while being ignorant of the fact that a senator belongs to the legislative arm of the government,  not the executive arm, and therefore has no budgetary resources whatsoever to award any contract because tarring of roads or building of schools is the function of the executive arm of the government  but not of the legislature or judiciary).

Despite being a senator and therefore not having any budgetary allowance, Senator Oluremi Tinubu (who obtained her National Certificate of Education in Botany – Zoology from Adeyemi College Of Education, Nigeria and Bachelor of Science in Education from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, Nigeria) still surprised many in her senatorial district by some of the highly-beneficial (and highly-capital intensive) programs she launched. 3 short months after being sworn in as a senator, she launched the Post-Secondary School Scholarship Scheme (PSSS) in which 26 youths from her senatorial district were selected and awarded an annual sum of N100,000 each for a period of 4 years to finance their university education (a total 10.4 million naira of her own money), while 624 other applicants received N10,000 bursary each towards defraying the cost of purchasing academic books in their respective institutions of higher learning (a total of 6.24 million naira of her own money). She also later launched the Petty Traders Empowerment Capital Scheme (PETECS) to empower struggling petty traders and in the process gave 650 petty traders in her senatorial district N 20,000 each (a total of 13 million naira of her own money) and commenced and completed the construction of a brand new multi-storey constituency office for her senatorial district (situated at 293, Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba, Lagos State, Nigeria and costing her close to 100 million naira of her own money since senators receive no budgetary allocation for capital projects).

In Chapter 5 of the book, Senator Oluremi Tinubu (whose father is a Yoruba and mother is an Itsekiri) explained in her own words how she launched the Elderly Citizens’ Assistance Scheme (ECAS) in which she gave N10,000 each to 1300 men and women over 65 years of age in her senatorial district as a form of financial assistance (a total of another 13 million naira of her own money); in Chapter 6, she expatiated on how she commenced the construction of a 222.2 million naira Drug Treatment And Rehabilitation Center in Eti Osa part of her senatorial district and how she simultaneously started the construction of an ultra-modern market at the selfsame Eti Osa part of her senatorial district which is expected to cost 200 million naira on completion); in Chapter 8, she stated how she launched  Youth Empowerment  And Skill Acquisition Scheme (YESAS) to train 347 persons in her senatorial district in skill acquisition and upon completion of their training gave them a start-up kit worth N20,000 each (a total of 6.94 million naira of her own money) and she also explained how she gave out N100,000 each to 80 youths (as part of the Good Boys And Girls Empowerment Scheme, GBGES, she launched) to enable them start commercial activities in the area of recharge cards, charcoal, used clothes, beverages, rentals, etc (a total of 8 million naira of her own money); and in Chapter 12, she described how she launched the Widows’ Economic Empowerment Scheme (WEES) in which she gave 650 widows aged 50 years and below in her senatorial district a sum of N25,000 each to help them start a business or re-capitalize an existing one (a total of 16.25 million naira of her own money).

Unarguably deserving a lot of kudos for personally launching several schemes targeted at bettering the lives of people in her senatorial district (and that cost her about 596 million naira of her own money), one will even be compelled to praise her almost endlessly if one sees what and what she has done for Nigeria in the area of legislating in the Upper House Of Assembly more commonly called The Senate. Starting from Chapter 1, one could see how she used her membership of the Senate Committee On Education to arrange for the committee to meet with stakeholders in the Nigerian educational sector to resolve arguments between Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB), university vice chancellors and prospective university students over the relevance or irrelevance of post-JAMB tests and also to look into possibilities of resolving the ASUU–Federal Government face-off that usually leads to strike actions that seem doomed to perennially re-occur. She would later be responsible for demanding for significant constitutional changes that will reflect the need for fiscal federalism, state and community police and other populist concepts (due to her membership of Senate Committee On Constitution Review).

Her further legislative efforts (as stated in Chapter 1 of the book) included her constant push for the passage and subsequent implementation of a bill on social security in Nigeria and also a bill ensuring that pragmatic measures are put in place to address the plight of widows, dependent children and orphans in our society; co-sponsoring the bill that effectively banned same-sex marriage in Nigeria; moving a motion for the creation of a database on unemployed citizens as well as the creation of job centres across Nigeria; co-sponsoring another motion that addressed the alarming rate of rejection of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members by federal establishments; and co-sponsoring (a) the Bill For An Act To Provide For The Prevention, Control And Management Of Sickle Cell Disease (b) the Nigerian Industrial Development Authority Bill (c) Fertilizers And Agricultural Remedies Bill, and (d) the Harmonized Retirement Age Of Nigeria Armed forces Bill.

Moving to Chapter 2 of the book, one could see how Senator Oluremi Tinubu was chiefly involved in the presentation of Report On The Investigation Of The Illegality Of Post-UME And Failure Of JAMB To Conduct Examinations Acceptable To Universities which was a Senate Committee On Education’s report on its (the committee’s) investigation of parents’ and applicants’ complaints that post-UME tests constitute multiple expenses, added stress, exorbitant charges, non-standardization of screening processes, etc on the one hand, and universities vice chancellors’ collective assertion that post-UME tests ensure the admission of quality candidates with better potentials for good character and appreciation of learning on the other hand.

In Chapter 3, Senator Oluremi Tinubu (who once vice-chaired the Senate Committee On Employment, Labour And Productivity) further explained how she single-handedly sponsored a bill to affirm the rights of women in employment in Nigeria by soliciting for the expunging of Section 57 of the Labour Act Cap L1 LFN 2004 that consisted of a provision potentially limiting the participation of women in certain ventures and industries and how she was the person that successfully advocated for the full employment given to Nigerian casual schoolteachers who have upgraded their qualifications (an act that clearly prevented the exacerbation of Nigeria’s unemployment problem without sacrificing the quality of education) though her advocacy for both the listing of education as a right in the 1999 Constitution Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria and for the entrenchment of the right to food for school children (i e school-feeding program) in the selfsame 1999 Nigerian Constitution have continuously foundered.

Her efforts that sequelled into the conduction of a public hearing to look into the management of Nigeria’s expatriate quota system with a view towards ensuring that non-Nigerians do not continue to arbitrarily take jobs that ought to belong to Nigerian citizens was detailed in Chapter 4 and she also stated how she remonstrated with the Federal Government of Nigeria (in her capacity as a member of Senate Committee On Marine Transport) to train Nigerians as seafarers (both officers and ratings) so as to address the dearth of seafarers of Nigerian origin in Nigeria because all the vessels operating from and within Nigeria’s maritime waters are foreign-built and foreign-owned; also detailed in this Chapter 4 was how she used her membership of the Senate Committee On Trade And Investment to arrange for the commencement of negotiations on the rightful demand of Lagos State Government for the return of the ownership of Tafawa Balewa Square to the state government by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Moving to Chapter 6, Senator Oluremi Tinubu’s membership of Senate Committee On Women Affairs made her work with other senators to sponsor the Bill For An Act To Ensure Full Integration Of Persons With Disabilities Into The Society And Establish A National Commission For Persons With Disabilities and she was also responsible for investigating the rumour that pregnant women, babies and infants were being kept in prisons by influencing the aforementioned Senate Committee On Women Affairs to visit Suleja Prisons in Niger State, Nigeria. The committee was dumbfounded to see several pregnant women and nursing mothers being kept in detention but subsequently intervened for some of them to be freed and the cases of others reviewed. Her suggestions that there should be a provision in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution for a constitutional role for Nigeria’s traditional rulers and the removal of the Land Use Act from the selfsame 1999 Nigerian Constitution are worthy of note but even more noteworthy was her passionate yet realistic debate on Lagos Senator Olugbenga Ashafa-moved motion on The Urgent Need To Investigate The Imminent Collapse Of Third Mainland Bridge In Lagos even though the then Jonathan-led Federal Government simply ignored her numerous achievable and pragmatic suggestions.

In Chapter 7, the ever-busy and ever-thoughtful Senator Oluremi Tinubu expatiated on how she was actively involved as a member of Senate Committee On Education in the Senate’s approval of the establishment of 11 more federal universities in Nigeria (individually situated at Dutsin-Ma, Kashere, Lafia, Lokoja, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo, Otuoke, Oye-Ekiti, Dutse, Wukari, and Uyo) but was quick to point out how the selfsame Senate Committee On Education is presently arranging a partnership with the Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC) and the Federal Ministry of Education to work on a bill that will ensure the maintenance of national minimum standards for old and new universities. She further stated how she used her membership of Senate Committee On Constitution Review to (a) suggest the increase in local government autonomy by separating local government accounts from state government accounts and allowing direct payment to local government from the Federal Government Of Nigeria (b) suggest he separation of the office of the attorney general from that of the minister of justice at the federal level; and at the state level, the separation of the office of the state attorney general from that of the commissioner of justice, all in an effort to allow independence (c) suggest he increase in the powers of state through inclusion of railways, prisons, lands and agriculture, aviation, youths, telecommunication, and wages in the concurrent list and deletion from the exclusive list (d) suggest he deletion of the NYSC Act, Public Complaints Commission Act and the National Security Agency Act from the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (e) co-sponsor (with the other 2 senators from Lagos State) a bill (pursuant to Section 164, Subsection 1 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution) seeking the provision of financial grants to Lagos State in recognition of its role as the economic nerve centre of Nigeria, and (f) suggest gender equity in acquisition of citizenship.

In Chapter 8, the eagle-eyed Senator Oluremi Tinubu detailed why she suggested (based on her membership of Senate Committee On Constitutional Review) that Section 29, Subsection 4(b) should be deleted from the 1999 Nigerian Constitution because that is what the few Nigerians clamouring for child marriage are using as their constitutional backing. Section 29, subsection 4(a) states that ‘…“full age” means the age of eighteen years and above…’ while Section 29, Subsection 4(b) states that “…any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age…” Even though the Nigerian Senate has bluntly refused to pass a bill legalizing child marriage, the few supporters of this type of marriage have continued to loudly and fervidly state that any little girl that has been presented into marriage (even if she is just 12 years old) “…is deemed to be of full age… “ because she is married because of the unclear statement contained in Section 29, Subsection 4(b) so we should really applaud Senator Oluremi Tinubu for suggesting the deletion.

Senator Oluremi Tinubu’s achievements as a senator as enumerated and detailed in the book Stewardship Report: A Collection Of Town Hall Speeches (2011-2014) are actually too numerous to write about in this present article but the surprise is not really in how numerous her achievements are but actually in how she has been able to touch so many lives with her many self-funded programs and also by her numerous legislative efforts in the Nigerian Senate. So important were (and still are) her many beneficial contributions to the Nigerian society that the Federal Government of Nigeria awarded her the Officer of the Order of Nigeria (OON) national honor; the Adeyemi College Of Education, Ondo State, Nigeria awarded her a fellowship of the selfsame institution of higher learning; and the Kings’ University, Ode Omu, Nigeria made her the chairman of the board of trustee of the selfsame university.

Her aforestated self-funded, society-benefitting programs and far-sighted legislative prowess also gave her international attention that made her garner international accolades like the Noble International Award For Leadership she received in Ghana, the Diamond Award For Immense Contribution To The Emancipation Of People From Poverty she received in Gambia, and the Humanitarian Award she received from the Association Des Femmes De L’Afrique De L’Ouest-West African Women Association (AFAO-WAWA) during their international convention at Dakar, Senegal. The selfsame AFAO–WAWA also simultaneously named a newly-built women training centre at Gorom, Senegal Oluremi Tinubu Women Training Centre as a well-deserved honour for her.

The book Stewardship Report: A Collection Of Town Hall Speeches (2011-2014) is very interesting and encyclopaedic. It is a must-read and a must-own for anybody interested in the improvement of the lives of his or her fellow human beings.

 

Engr Rotimi Fabiyi, MNIM, MNSChE, MNSE, COREN Reg

twitter@fabiyi_rotimi

whatsapp: 08184741410, 08129698326

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Diezani Madueke Is in A Critical Condition In A London Hospital – Family

Some family members of the immediate past minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke have appealed to Nigerians, especially her critics to let her be.

Mrs Allison-Madueke is said to be in a critical condition from an undisclosed ailment in a London hospital.

“Our daughter has been in hospital where is receiving treatment for some weeks now. She is currently under close medical observation. We learnt that the observation means that she has been unable to see
anyone outside close family members over the last few weeks.

“They have also discouraged her use of phones to avoid any risk of infection which will be extremely harmful for her.

“Diezani is responding well, but doctors are concerned about her movement and interaction given the intense treatment being administered.

“It is such an emotional time for us all as she is quite fragile and we are careful to keep her away from all the gossip and falsehoods being attributed to her in the media. We expect the media to respect the family’s feelings at this trying time,” the family said.

On those calling for the probe of the former minister, the source appealed for balanced coverage of some of the opinions being bandied around by different interest groups.

“The press, especially online media, should be careful to be professional and balanced in their reporting,” a family source added.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

How Elderly Woman And 10 Year Old Girl Killed Over 15 Muslims At Sallah Prayer Ground In Yobe…41 Others In Critical Conditions In Hospitals

Two female suicide bombers suspected to be Boko Haram agents struck at a praying ground (Eid) on Friday in Damaturu, Yobe Capital killing at least 15 persons, with 41 others still in critical conditions in various hospitals.

Sources said two female bombers, a woman and a ten year old girl detonated the blasts which also injured about 20 people at the Phase 1 site, formerly Yobe State Secretariat Complex Eid ground, some 300 metres from the Governor’s Office.

The first explosion, according a security source occurred at about 7.38am while the second one, from a 10 year old girl was heard at about 7.40am amid the arrival of the new Chief of Army Staff, Maj Gen Tukur Buratai who said he was in the state capital to celebrate the Eid-el-Fitri with military troops.

The military in a prompt reaction put the casualty figure at nine, adding that the twin explosions by an elderly woman and a ten years old girl, occurred at a screening area for Eid prayer in the capital.

“Two female suicide bombers; one elderly woman and a ten year old girl detonated devices at screening areas for intending Muslim worshippers at Layin Gwange, Damaturu and at ‘Phase One,’ Damaturu. Four persons died in the first explosion and 7 people injured. While 5 people lost their lives in the second explosion and 11 wounded,” Acting Director Army Public Relations, Col Sani Kukasheka Usman said in a statement to journalists.

Usman said the situation has been put under control as both the Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam and the visiting new Chief of Army Staff, Major Gen Tukur Buratai while sympathising with families of the affected victims and urged the people to stay calm and be security conscious.

“No amount of terrorist act would deter our resolve to stamp out terrorism and insurgency,” the army spokesman vowed. Both the Yobe governor and army chief observed their eid at the Yobe Central Mosque, Damaturu.

Medical Director of the Damaturu Specialist’s Hospital, Dr Adamu Fika however told journalists that  15 dead bodies were brought to the hospital from the blast scene. He said 41 others who sustained various degrees of injury, were being treated in the hospital, adding that some with critical injuries may be sent to referral hospitals within or outside the state for further treatment

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Buhari Receives Obasanjo’s Think Thank Report On Critical Areas Of The Economy

A think tank established by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to study critical areas of the economy and make recommendations to guide the incoming government yesterday submitted its report to President-elect General Muhammadu Buhari.

The committee, which was established four months ago under the Centre for Human Security of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, studied five key areas – education, power, the economy, security and infrastructure.

The head of Buhari’s media team, Mallam Garba Shehu, told reporters that the Vice Chairman of the committee and former Minister of Finance, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, presented volumes of the report to Gen. Buhari during a brief ceremony at Buhari’s private office on Lobito Crescent in Wuse 2, Abuja.

He said former Nigerian High Commissioner to United Kingdom Dr. Christopher Kolade, who was head of the Power Committee, gave various stages of the proposed power sector development plan to include, short term, medium term and long term solutions.

Shehu said under the short term solution, the plan seeks to raise power generation to 10,000 MW within a short period, adding that “the whole idea was that Obasanjo set up his own think- tank with the aim of carrying out a study on challenges facing the country in the five key areas. The study was commissioned four months ago so that the outcome will be made available to the incoming administration after the election.

Shehu quoted Gen. Buhari as appreciating Obasanjo and his team for their effort, describing their intervention as a great impetus for the incoming government.

Gen. Buhari, he said, regretted that the out-going government that is supposed to give him tips on how to take-off has done nothing so far and thanked Obasanjo and his team for their gesture, assuring them that his administration will seek their advice as time goes on.

After the meeting with the president-elect, the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Centre for Human Security of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Prof. Akin Mabogunje, said the centre had been working on some critical areas of the economy to help the incoming government.

He said: “The centre sent a delegation of those who’ve been involved with the preparation of those policy documents to talk to the president-elect and get him to appreciate what is being done to help his administration.”

On how the president-elect received the report, the professor of Geography said: “He was very happy that we’ve been thinking about how to help him hit the ground running and he expressed his appreciation for what we’ve been doing”.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Time For Critical Soul-Searching: Open Letter To General Buhari, By Joshua Otene

Permit me to once again, express my sincere congratulations to you and by extension, the entire membership and supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on your resounding success in the March 28th presidential poll. The 2015 General Election can be rightly described as a watershed in the political history of Nigeria and a crystal-clear indication that our dear country is indubitably on course towards democratic advancement.

I was privileged to attend the December 8th through 11th nerve-racking Presidential Primary Election of the APC at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos; where you emerged victorious on a landslide. I’ll always consider it a great honour to have served as an Electoral Officer at that convention, which I had previously described as the new paradigm for internal party democracy in Nigeria. You will agree with me that the credible and transparent manner in which that convention was organized went a long way in shoring-up support for your candidature as well as endearing the APC to the vast majority of Nigerians.

Without recourse to personal aggrandizement, I wish to inform you that my overt support for your candidature in the recent presidential election actually gained momentum after the APC Presidential Congress. I am not a registered member of the APC, but I did tell my good friend who invited and actually ferried me from Abuja to the APC convention that if you emerged the APC Presidential standard-bearer, I would gladly go all-out to contribute my quota towards your presidential campaign (a statement that I defended in words and in deed!). I was unambiguous and emphatic in stating that if any other candidate emerged at the APC presidential primary, I may consider supporting President Jonathan for a second term.

But to avoid any misconception, I should state that I did, and still have enormous respect for all the other APC candidates that contested the primary election with you. In fact any one of them could become my choice candidate in a future election. Therefore you should understand that I was not part of the mammoth crowd that just yelled ‘CHANGE’ for the fun of it! I was specific on what should characterize the ‘CHANGE’ that I sought. I thought of the ‘CHANGE’ more as a vector quantity, with fixed magnitude and direction. My support for your candidature was never hinged on my jingoistic followership of your person, even though I am aware that you do enjoy a cornucopia of such. I supported you simply based on my ardent belief that you were a better alternative to President Jonathan. I have long perceived you as the apotheosis of self-discipline and incorruptibility, which in my reasoning are essential yardsticks for engendering the much-needed sense of national rebirth.

But President Jonathan was not voted out of office for nonperformance. In fact I don’t think it is ever possible for any nation’s president to be accused of nonperformance. Jonathan was voted out because his performance did not meet the expectations of the generality of the population. The under-performance of President Jonathan has however compounded the burden of expectations that you are soon to be saddled with. The citizens want to see an end to terrorism; general insecurity, endemic unemployment, corruption among a horde of others, and they want to see it NOW! It is absolutely essential that the citizens’ verdict of your performance in office after four years deviate markedly from that of your immediate predecessor.

Your Excellency up till this moment, I have no doubt about your sincerity to deliver on your campaign promises to Nigerians. But I still consider it a point of duty to you, to myself and to all Nigerians to humbly caution you on the need to maintain your focus and integrity even after you become vested with what may seem ‘absolute power’. This is because no human being is infallible. In Nigeria today, political office is regarded with so much awe and holders of esteemed positions are seen and treated as demi-gods. We have seen many a councilor or local government chairman derail and sail on delusions of grandeur, upon tasting the allure of office!  This behavioural pattern is not unexpected, because it is said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely! But because you held the highest office in the land over 20 years ago, I don’t expect you to be intoxicated by it now.

But I urge Your Excellency to do some serious soul-searching and proffer sincere answers (at least to yourself) to the three questions that I am about to pose in this letter. Firstly, being that are you prepared to do all that it’ll take in order to set-up a formidable cabinet; one whose members would all be in congruence with your visions and aspirations for the country? I must state with due respect Mr. President-Elect, that no matter how laudable your visions are for this country, Nigeria as an entity is too large to be driven on the passion and commitment of one man, not even if that one man is the President and Commander-in-Chief!  You need to put a great team in place in order to succeed as the president. Your scorecard in the final analysis will be the sum-total of the scorecards of all your appointees. Your appointees can either make or mar you.

For instance if your Minister of Works refuses to work, then the roads will go (or remain) bad and you will take the greater share of the retributions from the indolent minister’s peccadilloes. It will therefore seem that your greatest responsibilities as President and C-in-C will be to APPOINT members of your cabinet and to SUPERVISE their efforts/activities (apologies to my good friend Joe Dauda, author of the book “My Phlegmatic President”). Your much-touted anti-corruption campaign, which is at the core of your policy thrust, will end up as mere pipe dream if the Inspector General of Police, the Chairmen of the EFCC and ICPC respectively and other relevant individuals and institutions responsible for the war against corruption went to bed and slept through the tenure.

Fortunately for you, the APC is studded with high-profile professionals from diverse fields, men and women of integrity whose experience you can tap from to actualize your Nigerian dream. To mention specific names here will not be appropriate, but I know that you know just what I am talking about. I also know that you are obliged to consider recommendations from deserving quarters for appointment as ministers, etc. But your quest to bequeath the teeming Nigerians with the dividends of good governance must take precedence over your desire to impress any party bigwig or institution. Therefore the buck lies on your desk, to ensure that you fit round pegs in round holes.

Furthermore, I will like you to search deeply within yourself to see if there is any tendency that your leadership will be inclined towards civilian dictatorship. The slightest ember of ‘militocracy’ that you may still possess within you must be extinguished before you are inaugurated into office as President and C-in-C come May 29th, 2015. I have made this a point of concern in view of what Nigerians have had to endure in the hands of your fellow ex-soldier turned President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR.

Memories of the gruesome massacre of thousands of helpless and hapless civilians in Odi, Bayelsa State and Zaki-Biam, Benue State by the Nigerian Armed Forces, on the orders of Chief Obasanjo cannot be erased in a hurry. That kind of command, to ravage entire villages killing anything in sight that has life, will hardly come from a civilian president that respects the norms and ethos of democracy. If Obasanjo were a civilian through and through, then I could say that the memories of Odi/Zaki-Biam Massacres would haunt him like an incubus to his grave!  But he is not a civilian, and so may have well forgotten about the incidents. However other Nigerians, especially the victims of the massacre and the citizens of the world at large, will never forget the killings. In any case, it was one of the troughs of the Obasanjo civilian administration, which drew him widespread opprobrium. I don’t want that to be the case of ‘My Very Own President’!

Finally, Mr. President-Elect, you should thoroughly search your soul to see if there’s still any person that you need to forgive for the evils perpetrated against you in the past.  Even if you find it impossible to forgive any of your previous offenders, then you must resolve never to pursue vendetta via the instrumentality of your office. It would only be tantamount to smashing a mouse with a sledgehammer. Apart from distracting you from your primary function to the State, your crushing effects on your enemies may draw the ire of the teeming million Nigerians that are fervently looking up to you for responsible and qualitative leadership.

Recall Your Excellency that just prior to the presidential election, Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State came out publicly to say that he had forgiven you for what he termed ‘truncating his political career in 1983’. In similar vein, the family of the late sage, Chief Adekunle Ajasin made statements that they had forgiven you for the detention of their father under your military regime in 1984. The family further cautioned the PDP against using the incarceration of their father and others as a smear campaign against your candidature, stating that even their father did forgive you before his demise. In fact two of Pa Ajasin’s children, Chief Tokunbo Ajasin and Mrs. Jumoke Anifowose, were part of the crowd that received you and your running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at the Akure airport during your presidential campaign rally of  Ekiti and Ondo States.

Forgiveness is a virtue that is preached by both Christianity and Islam.  Revenge may be sweet momentarily, but it can be likened to a sweet-tasting pudding that will eventually leave you constipated. You have also been incarcerated before. I expect that you must have suffered betrayals from people in your previous botched attempts to clinch the presidency. Now is the time to let go of all the grievances, so that you can enjoy the bliss that comes with forgiveness.

There are many other questions that I wish to ask you Mr. President-Elect, but time and space cannot permit me. I also know that this is not the right time to subject you to the drudgery of reading a very lengthy missive. But the aforementioned questions sum-up my greatest fears concerning the success of your administration. These fears stem from the fact that I have staked my neck out too far in your support. I have been very vociferous in declaring that your leadership will bring about the needed change in Nigeria. I will really not like to hide my face in shame in the turn of events. Thank you.

 

Yours faithfully,

Joshua Amana Otene.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Towards May 29th: Reflections On The Current State Of The Nation, Some Critical Matters Arising By Jaye Gaskia

Two clearly interrelated issues are currently agitating my mind, as I am sure they are also agitating the minds of many compatriots.

These are the two issues that I intend to focus briefly on in this piece. The electoral victory of the APC and its candidates across the two tiers of our federation, and the imminent transition to a new federal government to be formed by a new ‘governing party’ that this victory has called into being on the one hand.

On the other hand is the transition and passage of the late compatriot Oronto Nantei Douglas, coming as it is at the end of the ‘Niger Delta Presidency’ of GEJ, and the implication of this for the fate of the Niger Delta land, peoples and struggle in the post May 29th period.

TRANSITION TO TRANSITION? WHAT MANNER OF CHANGE?

Let me begin with the first of the issues, the Victory of the APC and its presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 general elections.

This electoral victory has been made possible by a number of significant factors; the most significant, the most primary of these factors lie in the antagonistic nature of the intra and inter class struggle in response to the global, and ultimately national economic and political crisis of the last decade.

The most graphic manifestations of the character of these contradictory responses to the global and national crisis were to be found in the January Uprising of 2012 on the side of the popular masses; and in the break down of the existing national ruling consensus which was dramatized in the implosion of the PDP, hitherto the national platform within which this national consensus was mediated; alongside the merger of the opposition and its accommodation of major power blocs from the disintegrating PDP as a new national consensus was being negotiated by the ruling class, and a new national platform was being put together to project and manage this new and emergent national ruling class consensus.

Furthermore the 2012 January Uprising led to the radicalization and politicization of the citizenry in general, and a new generation in particular.

This radicalization and politicization provided the context for the Change Mantra of the opposition APC to catch fire in the minds of a significant number of citizens, and against the background of the cumulative failure of the ruling PDP over the last 16 years, ensured that the idea of change took on material reality and helped to propel the opposition APC to power.

But now herein lies the major problem. The idea of change propagated by the opposition and now soon to be ‘governing party’ was able to capture the imagination of ordinary citizens precisely because it was wooly, not defined, ambiguous, and thus could mean different things to different categories of people.

This wooliness and ambiguity enabled the opposition to get away with not telling us clearly what it meant and what it means by change beyond the general sweeping pronouncements made on the campaign podiums.

So what does this change mean to the APC? What does change mean to the incoming government at Federal and state levels?

More than 30 days after the resounding electoral victory, and less than 30 days to the inauguration of the new government we still do not know in concrete terms, much less in clear outlines what the change program of the governing party and the Buhari presidency looks like.

What Nigerians are expecting from the incoming government is clarity of purpose and action after 6 wasted years of cluelessness; A robust well thought out, written, documented and accessible Change program of action and strategic direction, in place of a transformation agenda which remained unarticulated for the 6 years of the life of the GEJ presidency.

We expect by now to have in the public domain a robust synopsis, if not a detailed and fleshed CHANGE STRATEGY Document, outlining the APC’s understanding of the National crisis and challenges facing our country in its political, economic, socio-cultural and security ramifications. We expect this strategy document to give us an indication of the APC’s prioritization of the problems and challenges; we expect it to show us clearly the three, four etc areas that the APC government will focus on; we expect it to show us how the APC government intends to deal with these problems and overcome them; and we expect such a document to outline the policy options and policy reform processes that the incoming government will be considering.

What is the APC’s understanding of the challenges of the power and energy sector? How does it intend in four years to make significant differences in these areas, ensuring improved availability and accessibility of power and energy to ordinary citizens?

What economic programs and policies will it consider putting in place to tackle chronic and pervasive unemployment, while ensuring infrastructural development and directing targeted support to MSCEs?

For the moment, just as with its foundation and consolidation, the APC leaders have been more focused on the structure than on the program; the mergers of the legacy parties and with the New PDP faction happened before the development of the party’s manifesto; and now the structuring of government is being prioritized over the development of a governing program!

The APC only have to look to the emergence of the Xenophobia phenomenon and the recent Arab spring to understand the nature and extent of the potential crisis they are sitting upon should they fail to meet the expectations of the ordinary citizens.

Should there be a crisis of unrealized expectations the party in government should expect a massive backlash that could present as an uprising with flashes of Ethnophobia interspersed with it.

It is against this background the current situation amounts to a ‘Transition to transition’; and one in which popular forces can play a decisive role on steering towards a victory for the masses.

OUR NIGER DELTA [OND]: YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW;

The second issue closely related to the first is on the fate and likely trajectory of the Niger Delta struggle in the post May 29th period.

The death of one of the most significant instigators of that struggle in modern times, Oronto Nantei Douglas, should present us with an opportunity to reevaluate our struggle, reflect on the missed opportunities, assess the current state of the struggle and make projections for the future.

Hopefully the passage into history of a Niger Delta presidency and the consequent lifting of the delusional blindfold over our eyes in the last 6 years should encourage an honest assessment.

Where did we go wrong? Was this the Resource Control we fought for? Six years after a Niger Delta Presidency our physical, economic and political situation remains the same, and in very significant ways actually seem to have declined.

The Niger Delta environment is more devastated and the livelihoods of ordinary citizens more undermined than it has ever been at any time in our history.

And whereas we have managed to bribe 30,000 youths in an amnesty program, we are still confronted with the unemployment and unemployability of millions of our compatriots.

As we mourn the passage of Oronto Nantei Douglas, and reflect on the end of a Niger Delta sojourn in the presidency of Nigeria, it is time we come together, old and new activists, young and old, to reassess our struggle, chart a new strategic course for our struggle, and position ourselves to drive the process of enunciating a robust post amnesty development program for the Niger Delta.

And as we embark on this task, it is inevitable that we undertake a process of identifying how and why we failed, while also admitting the precise scope, scale and contours of the betrayal underpinning this failure.

As we lay OND to rest, as we prepare for GEJ’s exit from Aso Rock, it is important that the interests of our ordinary people who did not benefit from, but who bore the burden of the last six years is neither allowed to be laid to rest, nor to be exited from the national agenda.

 

JAYE GASKIA IS NATIONAL COORDINATOR OF PROTEST TO POWER MOVEMENT AND A MEMBER OF THE HISTORIC NINE – THE FOUNDING LEADERSHIP OF THE CHIKOKO MOVEMENT OF THE 1990S NIGER DELTA STRUGGLE.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Four Critical Outcomes Possible As #NigeriaDecides By Peregrino Brimah

Situation 1:

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan concedes defeat and hands over to President Muhammadu Buhari and Pastor Yemi Osinbajo of the APC.

This outcome holds the best promise for Jonathan who at least will be credited to have done one last thing right. This outcome may be tested with pockets of agitation from terrorist/militant lords. These will be easily controllable by a honest Jonathan presidency.

In this outcome Goodluck Jonathan will be able to “enjoy” two more months at the seat of power; with the keys to Nigeria’s billions.

Situation 2:

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan refuses to concede defeat and rigs all the way, then announces himself as the winner.

This situation is most favored by the heads of service who are interested in holding power as evidenced by their interference in all stages of the electoral process including their prompting its postponement.

If Goodluck Ebele Jonathan rigs to victory and refuses to concede defeat, there will be predictable turmoil in the country and within days the military will over throw the government.

As mentioned, the military prefer this option as they will have officially sat on the throne and they will then pretend to be saviors. Goodluck Jonathan does not like this option so much, as his name and record will be forever tarnished even more with this and he may be jailed even by this very military before they are ousted or hand over to civilians.

Situation 3:

The military takes over before results are announced. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan prefers this option as it will save him conceding defeat and being held responsible ultimately, by the cabal hawks who have been pressing him to fight to finish to save their empires, hold on the nation’s treasury and corrupt, impune lifestyles.

However the military does not like this option as it will predictably deny them of any credibility and support locally and internationally. This approach will also predictably lead to quick military power changes.

Situation 4:

The Military and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan go it together; either delaying the election results, cancelling them all together or announcing the rigged results with the military standing by Jonathan.

In all world history except in Iran (due to the 1,000,000 strong, Basij paramilitary civilian army), every instance an incumbent denies a strong opposition his mandate rightfully or wrongfully, turmoil has almost always soon sacked the incumbent.

Situation 4 will lead to days to weeks to months of bloody civil and military disturbance in Nigeria which will ultimately predictably end only by the toppling of the Jonathan-Minimah government.

In all scenarios the people are implored to exert patience, be organized and united, and use peace as a weapon, ignoring all evil provocation. Not one innocent Nigerian must die. All eyes must be trained on the enemies of the state only.

Dr. Peregrino Brimah; http://ENDS.ng [Every Nigerian Do Something] Email: drbrimah@ends.ng Twitter: @EveryNigerian

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]