The Sun News » Opinion http://sunnewsonline.com/new - Voice of The Nation Thu, 03 Sep 2015 00:35:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.7 Non-oil exports and Nexim Bank’s alliances http://sunnewsonline.com/new/non-oil-exports-and-nexim-banks-alliances/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/non-oil-exports-and-nexim-banks-alliances/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 01:18:21 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133560 The Nigerian Export-Import Bank has over the years championed the development of non-oil sectors of the nation’s economy. These efforts have resulted in the diversification of Nigeria’s economy. Nexim Bank’s ]]>

By Uche Nwoko

The Nigerian Export-Import Bank has over the years championed the development of non-oil sectors of the nation’s economy. These efforts have resulted in the diversification of Nigeria’s economy. Nexim Bank’s initiatives under Mr Roberts Orya as the MD|CEO have led to thedevelopment of non-oil sectors such as agriculture, entertainment,solid minerals and export promotion to mention a few.

It is against this backdrop that recent alliances which the bank plans to enter into with some countries and trade bodies aimed at promoting non-oil sectors of the nation’s economy is quite commendable and need to be vigorously pursued because of the multiplier effects therein.

One of such is the recent partnership plan between the bank and Greece. It would be recalled that the Greek ambassador to Nigeria, Mr AlekosIkonomopoulos,  during a recent  visit to the headquarters of the bank in Abuja indicated interests to partner with Nexim Bank in his country’s quest to develop non-oil exports with Nigeria. Such

collaborations should be encouraged because they will provide export opportunities for Nigerian goods, which will in turn positively improve upon the gross domestic products of the country.

During the discussion with the management of the bank, the ambassador had affirmed that his country would seek ways to collaborate with Nigeria in ensuring the success of the partnership. In his words, “We shall create the enabling environment for Greek investors to collaborate with Nigeria in the areas of technology, maritime and agriculture.”

Nexim Bank’s MD, Mr Roberts Orya, had thanked Mr AlekosIkonomopoulos for the initiative, and added that the prospect of the synergy was bright because of the Sealink Project which would provide a good platform for the non-oil sector exportation. According to him, the Sealink is a private sector-driven project, and that NEXIM Bank is only facilitating its establishment in line with its mandate, as the Trade Policy Bank of Nigeria, to promote and deepen non-oil export trade. He said the Sealink Project would promote intra and inter-African trade, thereby fostering regional integration, economic growth and development in the West and Central African sub-regions.

In a similar vein, Nexim Bank has also concluded plans to collaborate with the World Trade Organisation, WTO. Mr Orya stated this when the deputy Director General of the WTO, Mr Yonov Fred Agah, paid him a visit in Abuja. He said such collaboration would remove bottlenecks usually associated with international trade.

Just like the Greek deal, that of the WTO would be enhanced by various platforms already initiated by the bank. Some of them are the ECOWAS Trade Support Facility (ETSF), Interstate Road Transport Scheme (ISRT), and the Nigerian Creative and Entertainment facility.

The determination of the bank to collaborate with the WTO will no doubt deepen Nigeria’s relationship with relevant government agencies which will in turn determine the mechanism to drive Nigeria’s export market. Mr Agah had during their discussion revealed that trade finance was the core area of encouraging regional integration and a key factor in eradicating poverty.

He said, “The WTO provides the framework for negotiating trade agreements and dispute resolution processes to enforce participants’ adherence to WTO terms. Trade finance is the core area of encouraging regional integration and a key factor in eradicating poverty. The WTO aims to create awareness and proffer solutions to peculiar experiences in different countries with regards to trade.”

He believes that although empirical trade policy analysis was lacking, the WTO was working on developing a global value chain for better trade regimes, and promised to work with the Nexim Bank to achieve its goals.

Following the fall in the oil prices globally, and the quest by Nigeria to diversify her economy by developing other sectors, such alliances are coming at the right time. The world, it is said, is a global village and the only way for Nigeria to holistically develop is by collaborate with relevant bodies that will promote her export opportunities.

The Nigerian Export-Import Bank was established by Act 38 of 1991 as an Export Credit Agency with the broad mandate to promoting the diversification of the Nigerian economy and deepening the external sector, particularly the non-oil through the provision of credit facilities in both local and foreign currencies; risk-bearing facilities through export credit guarantee and export credit insurance; business development and financial advisory services.

In pursuit of its mandate of promoting export diversification and deepening the non-oil sectors, the bank’s current strategic initiatives are targeted towards boosting employment creation and foreign exchange earnings in the manufacturing, agro-processing, solid minerals and services (tourism, transportation and entertainment) industries.

•Nwoko,  a banker,  writes  from Abuja 

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Feminism: A wrong perception of equality http://sunnewsonline.com/new/feminism-a-wrong-perception-of-equality/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/feminism-a-wrong-perception-of-equality/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 01:16:04 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133557 WITH every big, historical movement comes the danger that we will swing too far to the other extreme, tipping the balance unhealthily in the other direction, says Anya Briggs, an essayist. ]]>

By UCHEGBU NDUBUISI CHIAGOZIE.

WITH every big, historical movement comes the danger that we will swing too far to the other extreme, tipping the balance unhealthily in the other direction, says Anya Briggs, an essayist.

Feminism is a movement that has over the years been introduced and widely adopted in Nigeria and the world at large as a mechanism that seeks justice for women and end sexism in all forms. In many of its contexts, feminism seems to involve at least two claims, one normative and the other descriptive. The normative claim concerns how women ought (or ought not) to be viewed and treated and draws on a background conception of justice or broad moral position. The descriptive claim concerns how women are, as a matter of fact, viewed and treated, alleging that they are not being treated in accordance with the standards of justice or morality invoked in the normative claim.

Together, the two claims provide reasons for working to change the way things are; hence, feminism is not just an intellectual but also a political movement. This movement has been propagated by so many illustrious personalities all over Africa such as Ghanaian-British documentary filmmaker, producer, and writer, Yaba Badoe; Liberian peace activist, women’s rights advocate and Nobel Peace Laureate, Leymah Gbowee; and Nigeria’s acclaimed author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; who have all identified themselves as feminists and have written and given speeches on various current topics relating to women’s issues in Africa and beyond.

In a personal, eloquently-argued essay adapted from her much-admired TED talk on “we should all be feminist” and sampled by Beyonce in her track, “Flawless”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie defined a feminist as a “person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” Does this definition reflect its true meaning? This question continues to be a boggler while observing the situation of things currently faced by men in the society. Whenever gender inequality is mentioned, our focus is usually on women; that women should receive equal respect, opportunities, and payment as men, and have the right to choose what happens to their bodies. These are terrible problems that women face to some degree in most countries around the world. However, gender inequality is an issue that affects men too. According to Emma Watson, an actress and Goodwill Ambassador for United Nations, in a speech at the UN General Assembly, “fighting for women’s rights has become synonymous with man-hating”. I may be wrong, but feminism has been so over flogged that women in some countries are now seen as superior beings entitled to some privileges when compared to men, thus losing the true essence of equality between sexes.

For recruitment in a banking sector, statistics have shown that banks prefer attractive women (and in few cases, attractive men) for posts which involve direct interactions with medium to high-profile clients. I have never been to a bank and seen more men than women on the counter accepting money and paying cheques given by the customers. I agree that this may be uncomfortable for some attractive women in question especially those who are not aware of the hidden purpose for their recruitment. But even among those who are aware, many are offended. Only few are concerned. On one side, the banks are not necessarily at fault for being capitalistic and business minded, but it is discrimination nevertheless because there are male graduates who are good at sales and communication but left to roam the streets with their certificates all because they are not women.

Face the facts: Nowadays, women are paid more, given more second chances, sided more and are gaining too much of advantage over men. A skinny guy can be ridiculed by girls, called a wimp, unmanly, womanly and every other thing you can imagine but if he dares open his mouth and point out a fat girl eating McDonalds, he will be flamed to high hell. When relationships fail, it’s a fact that men get tragically overlooked when it comes to getting custody of their children. According to statistics, women receive custody of children 92% of the time in cases of divorce and illegitimacy. People will argue that the children needs to stay close to their mothers but this astoundingly high number means that men are being denied the opportunity to become positive role models in their children’s lives. Consider as well that the average child support payment due from women is half the amount due from men. And despite this fact, women are twice as likely as men to default on child support payments. Unlike women, society prevents men from showing emotions and vulnerabilities. While it’s perfectly permissible for women to be aggressive, the moment men let down their guard and cry they are accused of being effeminate.

They have real feelings as well, but unlike women, they don’t have the freedom to express them openly without having their masculinity and even their sexuality fall under question. Women have been in space, fought in wars and have served as heads of state, so why is it that men are termed the bad guy if they fail to hold a door open for a woman? Has it ever occurred to you that the guy who devised the “ladies first” policy may have created it just to check out his girlfriend’s ass? When it comes to equal treatment and equal rights for equal pay, women make more noise than a backfiring Bulldog. So why is it that when it comes to picking up a dinner bill, these same women suddenly become mute? Ladies can’t have it both ways. Being equal means assuming equal duties. With great paychecks come great responsibilities.

Even in television series, men are mostly depicted as grossly incompetent. From Family Guy to the Simpsons to King of Queens. According to Marge, Homer “chews with his mouth open, hangs out at a seedy bar with bums and lowlifes, blows his nose in towels and puts them back, and scratches himself with his keys”. Similarly, Family Guy’s Peter Griffin is a lovable oaf who “isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind; usually the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time”. The women in these same series, meanwhile, project an almost saintly glow as long-suffering wives and dedicated mothers. It’s a sad fact that we’re living in a world where unsubstantiated statements can be made about men, when these same claims would never be tolerated if they were directed at women.

• Chiagozie is a Law student, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus.

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Unending blackout in Ondo South: Letter to Senate President http://sunnewsonline.com/new/unending-blackout-in-ondo-south-letter-to-senate-president/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/unending-blackout-in-ondo-south-letter-to-senate-president/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 01:13:04 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133554 I wish to bring to your attention the unfortunate and unlawful activities of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) which have led to perpetual blackout and paralysed economic activities in the entire Ondo]]>

By Kayode Faluyi

I  wish to bring to your attention the unfortunate and unlawful activities of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) which have led to perpetual blackout and paralysed economic activities in the entire Ondo South senatorial district of Ondo State.

My heart bleeds as I make this passionate and patriotic appeal to you as the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the people’s hope to halt the era of unending darkness. Some of the communities have been subjected to two years of blackout in Ondo South.

This unfortunate situation was foisted on Ondo South by BEDC with its unlawful activities of systemic disconnection of many communities from the national grid due to questionable claims of huge outstanding debts.

Many of the communities have experienced blackout for over 1 year while some areas have been subjected to over 2 years of darkness. The entire six local governments in Ondo South namely Okitipupa, Odigbo, Irele, Ilaje, Ese-Odo, Okeigbo are gravely affected.

The BEDC claimed that its unlawful action was necessitated by the  huge outstanding debts. The BEDC also claimed that its unlawful action was largely due to the vandalisation of its infrastructure by alleged miscreants. Permit me to emphasise that the claims of huge outstanding debts and unpaid electricity bills are questionable, unrealistic and largely unconfirmed.

I wish to note that the questionable claim of outstanding debts is tied to pre-privatisation era and the regime of fixed charges even with epileptic power supply and weeks of no power supply.

However, most residents and communities have dismissed any indebtedness on electricity bills as they claimed. The defunct PHCN was duly paid all charges.

I also wish to state that the claim of vandalisation of power infrastructure by miscreants is unconfirmed and therefore considered as untrue. Meanwhile, I know that the supposed miscreants, if they truly exist, also desire to enjoy stable power supply.

Permit me to state without equivocation that the action of BEDC to disconnect Ondo South from the national grid is unlawful and it amounts to deployment of powers the BEDC do not have de jure and ab initio. While it  is traditional for Discos to disconnect power supply  from homes of debtors, it is alien to our country for Discos to disconnect power supply from the entire LGAs in a senatorial district. It is impossible and unrealistic for all households in the local government to be indebted to Disco.

Having gone through the relevant sections of the Power Reform Act, there is no proviso that empowers BEDC to disconnect communities from national grid. Even if there are genuine claims of outstanding debts, BEDC is not empowered by any law to disconnect communities. But unfortunately, the same BEDC has disconnected Ondo South due to questionable and frivolous claims. You may wish to note that this same senatorial district that has been subjected to 2 years of uninterrupted darkness is the home to the

Omotosho phase II Nigeria Integrated Power Plant that is supposed to generate 530megawatts. The NIPP was commissioned by the last administration. It was after the commissioning of the NIPP that you rightly said that across the country, the power plants were not working because of unavailability of gas supply to fuel them to generate power.

Now that the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has provided conducive environment for the availability of gas to fuel power plants which has led to a general improvement in the stability of electricity across the country, Ondo South is still subjected to unending blackout by BEDC.It should be stated that the NIPP project appears to be more of a misfortune than blessing to Ondo South. What an irony!

You may wish to note that BEDC has a history of lawlessness and impunity. The same BEDC was in the news recently for the reported disconnection of Edo State Police Command from power supply. The same BEDC was protested against by monarchs and youths in  Ekiti State recently.

I wish to state that throughout this period of blackout, the traditional institutions and youth groups have consistently engaged the BEDC with the hope of reaching an an agreement to end the reign of  darkness in Ondo South.

However, it appears that BEDC is rigid on illegality and lawlessness. Likewise, we have engaged with related state government  ministries, agencies and boards. However, the engagements have not led to power supply in Ondo South. We have also engaged the National Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) whose responsibility is it to, among others, license and regulate persons and companies engaged in the generation, transmission, system operation, distribution and trading of electricity.

One cannot but mention your intervention in #SaveBaga the saved the lives of thousands of Nigerians from lead poison in Zamfara State. Also, your patriotic intervention in the environmental degradation and oil spillage that have ravaged the Niger Delta region of Nigeria is also note worthy.

•Faluyi is a Public Commentator as Media strategist

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Buhari and grazing reserve policy http://sunnewsonline.com/new/buhari-and-grazing-reserve-policy/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/buhari-and-grazing-reserve-policy/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 01:11:04 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133551 FEW weeks back, Chief Tagbuo Oguejiofor, a community leader, aged 85, was allegedly killed in his farm at Oma Eke village in Udi Local Government Area (LGA), in Enugu State by fulani herdsmen. ]]>

By ADEZE OJUKWU

FEW weeks back, Chief Tagbuo Oguejiofor, a community leader, aged 85,  was allegedly killed in his farm at Oma Eke village in Udi Local Government  Area (LGA), in Enugu State by fulani herdsmen. Reports had it that the nomads allegedly killed the octogenarian, when they invaded his farm and destroyed his crops.  Some weeks earlier, hundreds of Benue farmers died, many others injured, property and crops worth millions of naira were destroyed, during a fierce battle with Fulani pastoralists, who were said to have invaded their farmlands.

The enormity of human and economic losses, arising from incessant clashes between  farmers and  cattle rearers  is quite alarming.  These violent clashes and reprisal attacks have become a regular occurrence across the country, with the most of the clashes recorded in Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Enugu states.  Unfortunately, these conflicts over land ownership, have been worsened by desertification, loss of arable land, drought, flood, erosion, poverty and urbanization as well as bourgeoning population rates.

While  farmers accuse the cattle rearers of violent invasions of their communities and farm lands, wanton killings and rape, the cattle rearers blame the farmers for cow rustling and grabbing their pastures. The nomadic pastoralists, who  migrate from the north to the middle belt and south regions of the country in search of fodder for their stock, want unfettered access to grazing fields nationwide. Meanwhile the indigenous people believe that that the lands are their ancestral heritage and will not relinquish them.

With this imbroglio, no lasting solution has been found, as most efforts by relevant  federal and state authorities are often scuttled  by the warring parties.  Unfortunately, the crisis has almost degenerated into a religious warfare, with  the predominantly muslim Northerners supporting the herders, who reportedly bear sophisticated arms, while the christian populace pitch their tents with  farmers in middlebelt  and south regions.

However, beyond these religious and ethnic sentiments, many experts argue that the major factor that has fuelled the crises is economic. While the herder holds the cow as a primary source of income and sustenance, the farmer depends on the farm produce for  livelihood.

Many Nigerians  have expressed worry over the escalating  tension and blood-letting in affected communties, describing it as ‘grievous and unecessary.’ Stakeholders also condemned government’s inability to quench the crises, which they described as ‘atrocious and appalling.’  ‘It is within government purview to end these senseless killings,’ many have argued.’

With each side laying claim to rights to the disputed lands, the clashes have continued to escalate, threatening national security and unity. Many analysts find it  sad that successive governments have allowed the clashes to  degenarate to this heinous level. In recent history,  no other country has witnessed this level of  atrocities over land disputes.

According to Abuja-based agriculturalist, Mr Daudu Ochepa, no responsible government will tolerate this level of mindless killings of its citizens and loss of economic resources. Government must muster the political will to end the crises, and urgently too,’ he stressed.

This country can ill-afford this massive human and economic destructions, given the intolerable levels of poverty, food scarcity, malnutrion across the country. ‘Nearly 1,000 Nigerian children die of malnutrition-related causes every day – a total of 361,000 each year,’ United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), stated recently in a release.

UNICEF country representative Jean Gough, who stated this in Abuja at the Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition in Children program  disclosed that ‘there are approximately 1.7 million severely acutely malnourished children under five in Nigeria – accounting for a tenth of the global total,’. Hence urgent steps must be taken to resolve these incessant clashes and all other conflicts bedevilling this critical sector, as Nigeria struggles to extricate itself from its myriad economic, political and security challenges.

Several  recommendations have been thrown up in the  public domain in recent  times. But implemention of these wonderful ideas have remained herculean.  For instance, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce in an online publication urged government to take urgent steps to end the conflict, saying ‘the clashes have occurred in every state in Nigeria.’  According to him, government should, temporarily, restore the ancient grazing routes for the pastoralists, as a short-term measure.

Meanwhile, he proposed a long-term measure, in which ‘the Federal Ministry of Agriculture should give a deadline of not less than 10 years to Miyetti Allah  Cattle Breeders Association to convert from pastoral cattle rearing to the modern business of cattle ranching.’ He equally advised the cattle dealers to embrace ranching, due to its economic and security advantages, saying  Senate President  Bukola Saraki, introduced the system to Shonga, Kwara State,10 years ago, when he was governor of the state, for its numerous benefits.

Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari  gave a directive for the establishment of nationwide grazing reserves for cattle rearers.  Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry and Rural Development, Sonny Echono, said Buhari had directed the ministry to study and consider the investigations sponsored by the Petroleum Trust Fund(PTF) and Northern Governors Forum (NGF), in order to develop action plan to establish grazing reserves and stock routes nationwide.

Echono stressed, ‘the need to develop  action plan to establish grazing reserves and stock routes nationwide, as part of efforts by the current administration to mitigate the recurring pastoralists/crop farmers conflict became imperative, following persistent clashes, which have taken a massive toll on human lives, properties and the nation’s economy.’ Echono who spoke,  while inaugurating a special committee on the issue, charged the committee members to, ‘ develop short, medium and long-term recommendations that will end the persistent  farmers and pastoralists conflict in the country.

Among other things, the committee is to review the policy on stock routes development with monuments to ensure free movement of livestock.  This is as the  pastoralists are expected to work with communties, state and local governments to settle and develop  pastures as well as maintain reserves infrastructure for sustainable use,’ he added.  However this call has come under severe attacks in several quarters, with many farmers, who spoke anonymously, dismissing the idea  as ‘archaic and untenable.

•Ojukwu, a USA sponsored-Hubert Humphrey Program Alumnus is a Lagos- based media proffesional.

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All hail the Northern President http://sunnewsonline.com/new/all-hail-the-northern-president/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/all-hail-the-northern-president/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 02:06:35 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133420 The growing outrage across the country over President Muhammadu Buhari’s key political appointments since he assumed power goes beyond the anger that this President is irreverent to Constitutional ]]>

The  growing outrage across the country over President Muhammadu Buhari’s key political appointments since he assumed power goes beyond the anger that this President is irreverent to Constitutional provision that mandates him to reflect federal character in his appointments.What Buhari has done,and likely to continue to do, is an open show of an imperial, parochial, uncontrolled and insensitive President who is determined to pursue sectional interests and a wanton abandonment of what an elected President ought to do.

The message is simple:this President must be watched carefully before he runs aground in the pursuit personal and sectional agenda.  The six appointments the President made last Thursday,among them,that of the much anticipated Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SFG) and his Chief of Staff(COS),bring to 30, high profile appointments he has made in his 94 days in office.Only seven of these appointments have gone to the southern part of the country.The rest from the North. Doesn’t that tell a lot of the vision and character of this President? If you are shocked,(as some people say they are),I am not shocked.He came true to type:A leopard cannot change its spots.My only surprise is that the President has missed the ‘holiness of a second chance’.The holiness of a second chance entails a rare life time opportunity to make amends from a previous opportunity squandered.

Sadly, Buhari has squandered public trust,too early in his presidency.The argument by his Adviser on Media and Publicity,Mr.Femi Adesina that he would soon balance his political appointments does little to heal the wounds already inflicted. Adesina’s defence is equivalent to what George Step hanopulous calls the job of an “airport traffic controller on a foggy night”.It’s a mere damage control.

From the outset, President Buhari has not pretended where his commitments and interests are.He has not left anyone in doubt that the oath of office he subscribed to as President on May 29,was not to do “justice to all manner of people without fear or favour”. We can’t wait for the sun to go down to say how the day has been for President Buhari. This is a President of the North.He’s an unrepentant northern irredentist who cares little to adhere to the content of that oath of office he swore to.

As any political historian will tell you,the most important decision a President always makes concerns what he wants to do with the office he occupies,what range of issues he wants to recognise and what agenda he wants to pursue.We now know what conerns Buhari and what he wants to do with the office he sought for four times.

We can now conclude that Buhari has,to borrow the words of Richard Neustadt in his book:” The Politics of Leadership” “irreversible commitments to defined courses of actions”.These commitments,as we have seen already,have given the President unedifying character which cannot be altered easily regardless of what balancing(if at all) he might make in his choice of ministers in the days ahead. It is difficult to imagine those behind the veil, who are giving  the President  this dim-witted advice or what circumstances that are driving Buhari to pursue this narrow path of a provincial presidency when it pays better to  project an image of a president for all, who should seek to identify himself with the sources and objects of presidential power:the people.That our country has remained on a virtual standstill,is primarily because our leaders have not looked beyond primordial enclaves.

It is however interesting to note that not all northern groups fancy what the President has done with the key appointments he has made so far.For instance,current chairman, Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima and Chairman of the Northern Elders Council, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai,have been critical of the President’s recent appointments,just as many Nigerians have expressed deep disappointment.But,northern irrendentists like Ibrahim Coomassie, a former Inspector General of Police and former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, could be relishing what the President has done.During the campaigns,these men made it clear that Buhari was a candidate of the North and would serve northern agenda.Perhaps they now have their prayer answered.

It bears repeating that Buhari has sacrificed national interests on the altar of sectional interests.The question is:Is this the ‘change’ that the All Progressives Congress(APC)promised Nigerians? The big worry here is that the President,we hear, has kept his party in the dark on most of these key appointments.The party Chairman,Chief John  Odigie-Oyegun alluded to that over the weekend.    And if this egoistic and stylized nature of Buhari presidency is true,he will be the loser in the long term,the short term advantage of such lopsided appointments not withstanding.He will be laying himself bare and mobilisation of political support in critical times,when ‘evil days’ will come,will be hard to get.

Altogether, Buhari and his advisers need reminding that the essence of presidential power, according to the author of “The Modern Presidency”, Grant McConnel, is the ability to appeal publicly to large and widely different constituencies at the same time.Any President who ignores this is sunk. That’s for sure.

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Cleansing of Ogoniland and immortalisation of Saro-Wiwa http://sunnewsonline.com/new/cleansing-of-ogoniland-and-immortalisation-of-saro-wiwa/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/cleansing-of-ogoniland-and-immortalisation-of-saro-wiwa/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 02:05:11 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133417 FOR Ogoni people and Human Rights Activists in Nigeria, August 2015 has earned itself pride of place in Nigeria’s environmental dateline as a month of action. This is the month President Muhammadu Buhari ]]>

By Nkechi Jane-Frances Odinukwe

FOR Ogoni people and Human Rights Activists in Nigeria, August 2015 has earned itself pride of place in Nigeria’s environmental dateline as a month of action. This is the month President Muhammadu Buhari approved several actions to fast-track the long delayed implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme Report (UNEP) on the environmental restoration of Ogoniland.  Revisiting the UNEP report has yet again put the  suffering and struggle of Ogoni people on the front burner of public discourse, twenty years after the brutal hanging of Kenule “Ken” Beeson Saro Wiwa (Ken Saro-Wiwa) and the “Ogoni 8” by the Sani Abacha military regime.

The name Ken Saro-Wiwa is almost one and same with Ogoniland and its people; a minority group within Nigeria’s Niger Delta who have repeatedly experienced human rights violations since commercially viable oil field was discovered on their land by Royal Dutch/Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in 1958. As is the case with highly oppressive conditions, the Ogoni Story has been one of woes amid plenty; story of a people ruthlessly exploited and denied their right to peaceful and healthy existence. The Ogoni struggle and Ken Saro Wiwa’s part in it is a clear representation of  how power imbalance affects society’s helpless and creates  unfair suffering  for people with no voice.   The history of exploration and drilling of crude oil in Ogoni is all about human rights violations. Activities of oil multinationals in Ogoniland has only produced extreme environmental degradation from decades of indiscriminate petroleum waste dumping – a clear denial of the rights of  the natives to live in freedom and safety.

August 2015 is doubly special as the month Rivers State Government took steps to immortalize the man who lived and died an environmental activist, writer, spokesperson and president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). In his non-violent campaign against environmental degradation of Ogoniland and waters by the operations of oil multinationals, Ken-Saro-Wiwa was an outspoken critic of government institutions seen to be perpetrating human rights abuses. Though Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged on  November 10, 1995 over trumped up charges of allegedly masterminding the gruesome murder of Ogoni chiefs at a pro-government meeting, history continues to hold him up as the voice of Ogoni voiceless, a man who lived all his life fighting a cause he believed in and eventually died for.

Today, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s name is synonymous with the struggles for freedom, right to life and dignity of human persons. It is, indeed, heartwarming to note that Rivers State House of Assembly, in recognition of the monumental achievements of this great son of the state, has passed a bill which gives legal backing to the renaming of the Rivers State Polytechnic, Bori. after the late environmentalist. Record has it that while honourable lawmakers were debating the Executive bill sent by  Governor Nyesom Wike  for the amendment of Section 1, Sub-section (1) of the Rivers State Polytechnic Law, No 2, 1989 to reflect the change in name, they unanimously agreed that Ken Saro-Wiwa’s service to old Rivers State as Education Commissioner helped to ensure that Rivers people ranked among equals in the country’s education sector during his tenure. His service to his people fought for respect of their dignity and the emancipation of the entire Niger Delta.

Everyone who knows or has read about Ken Saro-Wiwa and his passion for education would understand the need to name a tertiary institution after this literary giant and great activist. The renaming of Rivers State Polytechnic, Bori, after Ken Saro-Wiwa is, indeed, very significant as Bori serves as the birth town of the activist and traditional headquarters of Ogoni ethnic nationality.

Many would wonder why so much energy should be dissipated rehashing the Ogoni struggle especially now when government appears to be taking serious actions towards ameliorating the plight of Saro–Wiwa’s people. With recent activities around Ken Saro–Wiwa’s Ogoni struggle, timing may be right to open up discussions on a very serious human rights issue within Nigeria’s tertiary education system that Wiwa would have fought against had his life not be prematurely snuffed out. Perhaps for helpless parents in Nigeria who may not have the wherewithal to embark on oversea tertiary training for their children, Ken Saro–Wiwa’s memory may once again draw government attention to certain happenings in some of our tertiary institutions that are gradually eroding the dignity or self-worth of Nigerian youths and disempowering them.

With the renaming of Rivers state Polytechnic, Bori, after Ken Saro-Wiwa, there is an urgent need  for the institution’s governing body to address the oppressive and psychologically dis-empowering treatment female students suffer in the hands of male a  lecturers. A close friend and a lecturer in one of the Federal Universities recently shared harrowing stories from her niece, of how female students of this citadel of learning are sexually harassed, recklessly molested and made to engage in transactional sex with lecturers in order to earn marks, pass courses or graduate from school. The stories which initially sounded like something out of a Nigerian home movie were eventually confirmed when my friend interviewed several other students who were friends of her niece from the Polytechnic. These stories become more discomforting when facts available reveal that most of the students who suffer victimization in the hands of these lecturers are children of poor voiceless parents whose families had to scrimp, save and beg in order to give their children good education. Students are not only denied the right to reject such unfair sexual advances but are stripped of their human dignity by same people who should be seen protecting and promoting such rights. Opportunities for complaints over lecturer’s misconduct are virtually non-existent and where one exists, they make no room for victim protection or confidentiality. Rejection of such sexual advances adds up to more years of failure, frustration and humiliation for students.

As heart rending as the stories from Bori Polytechnic are, they are not peculiar to that institution alone as most institutions of higher learning in this country have the same negative trend of sexual harassment and pressure on students to engage in transactional sex in order to pass exams. The plague has eaten deep into our educational system that even male students sometimes face same dilemma from some of their female lecturers. One wonders at this point whether institutions of higher learning in Nigeria are not regulated in any way and if they are regulated, what falls under the regulatory radar of relevant authorities. Most Nigerian parents will definitely be interested to know how our children and wards can be shielded from the philandering clutches of some lecturers who by their conduct are not only destroying the excellent work so many of their colleagues are doing but also have no business training the nation’s future leaders.

So many of our tertiary institutions are named after Nigerian citizens who have distinguished themselves through their selfless service to the country, the question to ask is how many of such institutions actually hold up the  qualities of the personality whose names they bear? How many have structures that could be termed ‘safe’ enough to encourage our wards speak out against sexual harassment from their teachers and not suffer victimization from the system.

The wind of change is still blowing across government institutions; Change in government in Rivers State is already blowing good tidings into Ogoniland with the renaming of the State Polytechnic. Perhaps re-naming this citadel of learning after an Ogoni son and one of Nigeria’s foremost human rights icon is providential.  Late Ken Saro Wiwa fought for the rights of the oppressed all his life. He left a legacy that speaks on need to protect the dignity of all human beings especially the vulnerable among us.

• Odinukwe a lawyer and gender  activist works with Solidarity Center AFL-CIO in Abuja.

 

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Let’s regulate blue gem mining in Taraba http://sunnewsonline.com/new/lets-regulate-blue-gem-mining-in-taraba/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/lets-regulate-blue-gem-mining-in-taraba/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 02:01:15 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133414 THE Mambilla Plateau, located in the highland region of Taraba State of Nigeria, is a potential tourist haven with its beautiful and compelling scenery which rightly depicts the state as “Nature’s gift to the nation”. ]]>

By  Emeka Inwerogu

THE Mambilla Plateau, located in the highland region of Taraba State of Nigeria, is a potential tourist haven with its beautiful and compelling scenery which rightly depicts the state as “Nature’s gift to the nation”. The mambilla is the highest plateau in Nigeria, having an altitude of about 1,600 metres (5,249 feet) above sea level. Mambilla is a catchment area from which rainfall flows into rivers, lakes and streams. It enjoys an annual rainfall of 1,850 millimetres, and the rain which flows through the many rivers on the plains below the plateau, drains into smaller streams around which the blue sapphire is often found.

Popularly called ‘the blue stone’, the blue sapphire is regularly extracted from mineral stones by local miners, many of whom derive their source of livelihood from the sale of the precious gem. The tedious process of fetching the stones involves the clearing of vast forests around the streams, after which pits are dug. These pits reduce the flow of water from the stream to make it easier for the local miners to search for the sapphire. But the environment suffers degradation, as a result.

The reduction in the flow of water from the streams into the forests, leads to dryer forests which negatively affects the ecology of the forests. The relationship of the living organisms (flora and fauna) to the physical environment of their forest habitat is affected which could cause a ripple effect on the broader ecosystem of the region. Also, heaps of the sand dug out from the pits, are often washed down the stream into the rivers. The silting of the rivers with the sand, makes the rivers shallow. Hence, the combination of the dryer forests and the heavily-silted rivers which eventually dry up during the dry season, grossly affects the livelihoods of the natives living around the area. The farmers who rely on non-timber products from the forests experience the effects, and the fishermen no more find abundant fishes to catch from the silted waters. The concomitant result is that many of these farmers and fishermen have out of frustration, abandoned their occupations and joined the local miners to dig for the blue sapphire.

Equally worrisome, is the fact that many young boys and girls have voluntarily dropped out of school to seek financial gains by becoming local miners of the blue stone.

The major factors causing the massive influx of men, women, youth and children into local mining to seek for these mineral stones, are illiteracy, unemployment and poverty, in addition to the perceived lack of organisation and lack of adequate legal framework in the solid minerals sector of Nigeria. A youth leader, Musa Gide, who lives in Jos, described how economically beneficial the mining business has been for the locals who participate in it. According to Gide, “some of our brothers who are from poor backgrounds and who have nothing doing, are here (mining site) keeping themselves busy. Some of them who didn’t even have ten naira (₦10), can today count millions of naira. Some of them even sponsor their brothers and sisters because of (the proceeds from) this mining.”

Many believe that mining has brought relief from poverty and reduced crime. But the prominent question on the lips of not a few environmentalists and concerned stakeholders, is whether the economic benefits derived by the local miners, supersedes the devastating trend of the artisanal mining which if allowed to continue unabated, will worsen the already-deteriorating state of the environment. Gilbert Nyanganji, an environmentalist, reckoned that, “to find a balance between a new source of income to the local inhabitants of the plateau and to maintain the health of the ecosystem, lies the need to employ a sustainable means of extracting the minerals.

“It would be hard to tell the people to stop the local mining. There has to be a synergy that the mining still goes on locally to sustain people’s livelihoods from day to day, and also put the environment as a huge priority. If we don’t checkmate the situation (the environmental impact), we could have a problem of sanitation that would flow through the rivers into the River Niger and as far down as the Niger Delta”.

In the light of the foregoing, a structural geologist, Mr Isaac Boyi, has recommended that, “the Nigerian government needs to establish an ‘independent’ entity called the Solid Minerals Development Company. The independent entity would act like the NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) in the oil sector of Nigeria. It will easily acquire federal government permit over land areas where these resources exist. But because it might not have the capital to be able to mine, it will enter into partnerships with capable established mining companies, just as NNPC enters into joint ventures with Shell, Mobil, and others. There woud be expertise and necessary equipment, and the resources would be extracted safely. Production will be shared according to the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA)”.

The weak legal system regulating the mining sector in Nigeria, has given room for artisanal mining to thrive indiscriminately, to the detriment of the environment. There is therefore an urgent need for effective policies, standards and regulations to be put in place to legally guide the artisanal mining practitioners. Also, the artisanal miners often delve into the sector with no knowledge about safe mining  practices. There is the need for the government at national, state and local levels, to organise series of trainings for the local miners, to enlighten them on international best practices for safe mining operations, so as to prevent them from losing their lives and ruining the environment.

With the shortfall in crude oil revenue, owing to the cascading price of oil at the international market, it has become absolutely expedient for the Nigerian government to diversify the nation’s oil-based economy.The government must as a matter of priority, develop the solid minerals sector as a viable option to boost the nation’s dwindling revenue. And looking towards the development of the solid mineral sector would seem as a viable option to boost the nation’s dwindling revenue, however, the exploitation of solid minerals would come at a damaging cost to the environment.

Until a meaningful plan that takes cognizance of the environmental impact of mining blue shaphire is made and a safe method of extracting this mineral is found the dream of a poverty free mambilla plateau will always remain a mirage.There is no gainsaying the fact that mineral resources are exhaustible and as such, the government must consider it a priority to ensure that the nation’s diverse resources are well-harnessed, to keep the economy afloat regardless of the prevailing circumstance at any given time.

•Inwerogu writes via emekainwerogu @ gmail.com.

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Halting the Mediterranean Sea deaths with good governance http://sunnewsonline.com/new/halting-the-mediterranean-sea-deaths-with-good-governance/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/halting-the-mediterranean-sea-deaths-with-good-governance/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 01:55:06 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133411 OSTENSIBLY on their way to Europe were hundreds of people cramped into one derelict, small, old and overcrowded fishing boat labouriously contending with the vicious waves on the Mediterranean Sea. Almost on daily basis we read, watch pictures and videos ]]>

By  Sunday Onyemaechi Eze 

OSTENSIBLY on their way to Europe were hundreds of people cramped into one derelict, small, old and overcrowded fishing boat labouriously contending with the vicious waves on the Mediterranean Sea.  Almost on daily basis we read, watch pictures and videos streaming on the internet and other conventional forms of the media exposing the horrible experiences migrants pass through in their bids to cross over to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea. The number of migrant deaths recorded on this Sea is frightening. In fact, the International Organisation for Migration had reported that in 2014 and 2015 more than 3,400 and 2,000 migrants had lost their lives in this desperate adventure to migrate abroad, respectively. Glaring evidences of misfortune encountered by many on this dare-devil adventure and the inclement weather condition never seems to deter intending migrants.

Many factors accentuate the quest for migration from Africa to Europe. First was the obvious failure of leadership in the continent. Many leaders have deliberately abandoned their social contract with the people. They have instead chosen the road to perdition, avarice and institutionalised corruption. Funds meant for development of nations were siphoned and stashed away in foreign accounts to the detriment of citizens. One quality and official conduct obviously in short supply among African leaders is leading by example. It is simple: people do what they see being done. Leaders must be aware that they are “on stage” therefore; others take their cues from the behaviours they observe.

In Africa, being in position of authority is a status symbol considered above requirements for selfless service. The leaders are revered and worshiped by many. Incidentally, they have metamorphosed into ‘demi-gods’ and forgot that the primary function of those serving begins with understanding the concept that “to lead, you must serve” is central to promoting an environment that captures the energy, enthusiasm and commitment of the citizens. The very essence of this philosophy is that the individual is a servant first, who has made a decision to lead as a way to serve others, not to enhance his own circumstances or increase his power.

Second is corruption on the continent. It has become the scourge and a bad reflection of the African society. It is one societal defect always blamed for putting most African nations in their precarious situations today. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) defined corruption as “abuse of authority or trust for private benefit; and is a temptation indulged in not only by public officials but also by those in positions of trust or authority in private enterprises or non-profit organizations” Corruption is the major cause of poverty around the world. It occurs at all levels of governance. It is equally noticeable in every facets of human society. All over the world, the perception of corruption especially in public places is very high.

This is because, corruption undermines every aspect of national development among which are, political development, economic development, social development and so on. Third, the rising spate of conflicts and war. The effects of war are enormous as evident in the devastation of the land, the cities and towns and population. Business and employment are adversely affected and the economy overburdened. One of the most immediate effects of war is displacement of the population. When countries are ravaged by war and other powerful forces of nature, many people have to abandon their homes and seek shelter in other regions.

The war in Libya and crisis in Eritrea have forced many citizens of these nations to flee for safety; hoping for better future in another shore. In Eritrea where the government of Isaias Afwerki has imprisoned more than 10,000 political prisoners, emasculated the opposition and constantly detain any dissenting voice left citizens with no option than to leave in droves. The latest third term ambition of Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi has forced more than 150,000 to flee. Nigeria too has had her own fair-share of mass exodus of people as a result of Boko Haram. Many of those fleeing consider the Mediterranean an easy and cheap escape route.

One should not completely take the blame of migration to the door steps of those seeking for comfort which their mother nations could not provide elsewhere, especially those in crisis and war. However, governments of Africa and developing nations whose citizens crave for life abroad should begin to think outside the box. Deaths on the Mediterranean must be discouraged with good governance. It takes only committed leadership of a nation to provide security, social welfare packages, quality education, outstanding health care, effective transportation system, efficient power supply and agriculture attractive enough to induce her citizens to stay back at home. In Africa and developing countries, this essential ingredient of governance is practically scarce.

Fourth, the illusion that the grass is greener over there is at the epicentre of the desperation and craze. These set of people have lean understanding that it is simply Eldorado once someone steps one’s foot in Europe or America. Therefore, they must be there by any means fair and foul. This weird understanding has constantly fired the resolve and aspirations of this group to embark on this uncertain expedition which could best be described as a journey of no return.  It has become a poser why a death trap like the Mediterranean Sea has been consciously chosen and regularly patronised as a route to Europe. Is the grass truly greener in Europe? Certainly, nothing comes easy in Europe as many thought. Suffice it to say that, nothing is free even in Freetown. Money is not picked along the streets thus it is worked for. People battle with heavy tax burden, do more than two strenuous and menial jobs to make both ends meet. Even with that, there is still no silver lining in the horizon. Those who are “lucky” to arrange sham marriages have to slave for the Oyinbo girls for years to escape being deported. In spite of all these encumbrances, the Mediterranean Sea daily play host to large number of migrants scrambling to find their ways to Europe.

Those who were lucky to have crossed to Europe now understood that all that glitters is no gold. At the moment, most if not all of them live as refugees in isolated camps in Spain and Italy and only survive at the mercy of the authorities of both states. Even with the above gory scenario, the migrants prefer to die in a land of the unknown than to suffer lack and deprivation in their fathers’ land. They were willing to face any consequences of their actions thus had no qualms sacrificing even their own precious lives provided they make it to their European destinations.

As one desirous of living in Europe, have you got an accommodation and substantial amount that will keep you afloat until you settle down and at least get a job? Have you been to school or learnt a trade? Can your degree or trade guarantee you employment in your host nation and as well conveniently put the right foods on your table?  These are food for thought for intending migrants to Europe or America. With the prevailing weak economic recession staring some European nations in the face, the European Union is worried that the influx of migrants to their territories is already telling on the state scarce resources. To forestall this, the Union has imposed sanctions on Libya and Morocco which serve as gateways to migrant movement to Europe especially to Italy and Greece.

• Eze writes via ssunnyeze02@yahoo.com

 

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Jonathan’s sacrifice saved Africa http://sunnewsonline.com/new/jonathans-sacrifice-saved-africa/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/jonathans-sacrifice-saved-africa/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 23:23:16 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133199 Ebere Wabara  ewabara@yahoo.com 08055001948 IF there is one event in the history of Nigeria over which most of its citizens still hold their breath, even months after its conclusion, it is the last general elections in the country, especially the presidential election. One of the reasons is that most people are yet to come to [...]]]>

Ebere Wabara  ewabara@yahoo.com 08055001948

IF there is one event in the history of Nigeria over which most of its citizens still hold their breath, even months after its conclusion, it is the last general elections in the country, especially the presidential election. One of the reasons is that most people are yet to come to terms with the reality of the peaceful conclusion of the elections.  As far back as 2010, or thereabouts, numerous doomsday predictions were aground including that Nigeria would disintegrate by 2015. As the days drew near, events, both in the political, economic and even religious spheres did little to assuage that prediction.
Aside the menace of the Islamic fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram, in the North Eastern part of the country, many other events occurred between that period and the election year to accentuate pakpable fear. It was, therefore, almost unbelievable that the elections came and went peacefully with a smooth change of government.
What, however, made the last elections more significant is that for the first time in the political history of Nigeria, a sitting President was defeated in an election in which he was a candidate. The truth is that in most countries of Africa “the power of incumbency” has largely been used often to subvert the will of the electorate. Nigeria has not been an exception until, of course, the last presidential election.  This, in itself, is a point to note in favour of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who, it could be recalled, made a firm promise during his campaigns that under his watch, the elections would be free and fair.
One of the most remarkable statements he made while conceding victory to Buhari was, “As I have always affirmed, nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian. The unity, stability and progress of our dear country are more important than anything else.”
So, in what today is being referred to as a historic move, President Jonathan conceded victory to the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) General Muhammadu Buhari, hours before the results were concluded. Not a few Nigerians have, however, argued that the action had no significance as, according to them, the former President had no choice but to do what he did. I beg to disagree. Such Nigerians may have forgotten the incident of June 12, 1993, when a military president stopped the collation of election results and declared the whole exercise inconclusive, invalid.
Also such people have only to look at countries like Somalia of today, Rwanda, Southern Sudan and of course Liberia to realize the worth and character of the sacrifice made by former President Jonathan..
But, most commendably, President Jonathan chose that path of honour and conceded victory to his opponent instead of contesting the results or taking any other available option that could possibly scuttle that election.  After all, it is not as if he, or indeed his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was bereft of support from Nigerians.
In fact, the President was standing pretty at the time of the elections based on his administration’s notable achievements across various sectors of the economy.  Such sectors include agriculture, where significant efforts have been made to return the country to the green days when palm oil from the East, cocoa and rubber from the West and groundnuts from the North constituted the mainstay of the nation’s economy. And transport where the hitherto comatose Nigerian Railways across the country has been fully revitalized.
Also, in spite of the poor performance of the energy sector under his watch, it is evident today that he made significant impact in that sector given the fact that there has been a significant improvement in the supply of electricity across the country while our refineries are about to commence capacity production. All these go to show that there was indeed significant groundwork under the former President, as the said improvements could not have been achieved by the incumbent government in just less than three months of assumption of office.
What would be the implication of such a war to the rest of the African continent? The first implication of course is that of refugee management. Where would 180 million people migrate? Most of Nigeria’s neighbours are poor and dependent on Nigeria for sustenance. Nigeria, the Giant of Africa, is no mean burden to be shouldered by just any country.  The short and long-term impacts would be that the economy of the Continent would be adversely affected and many countries of the region would be in trouble as the economies of most of them are tied to that of Nigeria.  Again, many countries of the region would face political crises since Nigeria has provided stability for them.
Overall, the implication of a war in Nigeria would be disastrous for Africa both economically and security wise. Of course, organizing a regional intervention force such as in the case of Liberia would be near impossible without perhaps assistance from the United Nations. Nigeria has always been at the lead of such interventions across Africa.
Therefore, for the fact that former President Jonathan took the bold step to save this nation, and by extension Africa continent, from what would have certainly been a disastrous consequence for the country and the continent, he deserves commendation.
Of course, the former President already has loads of both national and international commendations since he took that bold step.
The truth remains today that no matter the failings and mistakes attributed to the former President (which is natural, after all no man is flawless), that historic action will remain a legacy for him in the country’s annals. It will also remain a lesson for other leaders at whatever levels, both incumbent and upcoming, to know when to put the interest of the people, for whom they are called to serve in the first place, above selfish, partisan interests.

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All our Presidents’ men http://sunnewsonline.com/new/all-our-presidents-men/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/all-our-presidents-men/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 23:20:26 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133196 By  Isidore Emeka Uzoatu Perhaps,  indices of our future appear so grim, humour has been the one thing lacking in the change we earned from the last presidential election. Yet, nowhere else has our otherwise stolid President’s sense of humour been advertised as in the coterie of men he has, as yet, chosen to work [...]]]>

By  Isidore Emeka Uzoatu

Perhaps,  indices of our future appear so grim, humour has been the one thing lacking in the change we earned from the last presidential election. Yet, nowhere else has our otherwise stolid President’s sense of humour been advertised as in the coterie of men he has, as yet, chosen to work in his team. So, rather than join in the wonder as to why he is taking his time to open the floodgates, I’ve been whiling the time away comparing and contrasting them with presidential appointees of all time. All the more so because waiting till all are in place would make the task amount to more than a Sabbath Day’s job.
Our first port of call has to be at the dock of his Vice. Though not exactly an appointee, it’s, however, tenable beyond doubt that he could never have been forced on him. After all, they are supposed to have run on the same ticket where what affects one affects the other. So much that at the death of the President only the other can take over. And by all standards – even as a soldier – Mr President was known for choosing able deputies. In the present case, they do make an intriguing pair physically and mentally. Making it appear as though the pair was hatched for one to possess what the other lacks.
While the boss is of that tall, lanky, fair and of the breed that walks the carpets of the world, his second-in-command is, well, a little shorter and briefer to the ground. To cut the story to his height, he would not immediately strike any observer as in the least of a prepossessing mien. The prepossession, however. pales when it comes to the stuff of which men are separated from boys. While the former served out a military career in which he indulged in all the fancies Nigerian soldiers were wont, the latter honed his tools in the legal profession. It is noteworthy that unlike the many desk generals with which our nation is blessed, Mr President tasted battle. Likewise, the Vice President has contributed his quota in salvaging the nation’s courtroom and classroom apart.
Before their arrival by our exercised franchises, the reverse has often been the case. Often we have inherited men with no proven governmental experience. They were usually thrown at us by godfathers looking for stooges that would not rock their boat of control. Thus men have been enthroned over us who knew not white from black; saw their executive offices as sinecures where they should step on no toes and generally took us on a merry-go-round. Thusly, they ended up running all-inclusive governments that were neither of the left, right or centre.
Their running mates were in turn often rivals cast at them by rival political camps that made their presidency unworkable from day one. Already, there is talk of the present pair lacking all the credentials of a possible Mbeki-Zuma confrontation that re-echoed here back in the days. When having copied Mandela’s prison-to-president transition,  we also wanted to dethrone a President with his Vice or vice versa. A situation that, we the grass suffer while the elephants duelled on end.
The noose only gets tighter when the President’s Media and Publicity men mount the rostrum. Arguably the bone that has often offered contention most in previous administration, it appears the men here were chosen with caution not thrown to the winds. Without going as far back as to the civil war when their roles began to get untoward recognition, recall can be made to the immediate past regime when certain earlier imbalances in first-time appointments led to the late acquisition of an attack dog.  PMB sure knows his onions and they come as layered as ever. In his case, when the first appointee to the post needed a second, he went for a consummate gentleman who could not hurt a fly with his hand let alone his pen.
In fact, the gentleman in question has so much going for him  that they need no reiteration here. When the rest in the pack were losing their heads in the heady days of the elections, he kept his. Cool as cucumber as ever, he did the job like it was supposed to be done. Any wonder he won in the end? In fact his choice by PMB is doubly positive. Just a look at the chubby guy and you won’t be in any doubt that unlike some of his predecessors hitherto, he needed no pot-boiling appointment or the other to get by; that rather bloom into an overinflated balloon like some of them, he is only bound to lose weight due the pressure on the job. Well, I cannot presently make any predictions as to whether he will be getting more or less phone calls after his tenure as by his standards, he may yet get a third tenure.
Then there was the appointment that shut the mouth of critics for good – that of the Group Managing Director of the NNPC. Before it, they had been riling that all the appointments afore had avoided some particular tongues and zones in the land. It even did not only silence them for where the bloke was from. All were in chorus with the rhapsody that the appointed is also a peg in a requisite hole. We in the fourth estate could not but applaud with words in columns and articles. At least with the dexterity the publishing outfit he founded way back then in Lagos was minting stories week in, week out, nothing can be excluded from the hint that he is going to do a yeoman’s job.

.Uzoatu is the author of the novel Vision Impossible.

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Our hope for a new Kogi State http://sunnewsonline.com/new/our-hope-for-a-new-kogi-state/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/our-hope-for-a-new-kogi-state/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 23:18:16 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133193 By Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman If  we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves” – Thomas Edison When I ran for Senate five years ago, we were sneered at by the political establishment of the central senatorial constituency of our great State. But I had implicit confidence in the Almighty God and I [...]]]>

By Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman

If  we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves” – Thomas Edison When I ran for Senate five years ago, we were sneered at by the political establishment of the central senatorial constituency of our great State. But I had implicit confidence in the Almighty God and I knew I had a natural connection with my real constituency: the desperate, the disenchanted, the disinherited, the despised, the despondent, the dejected and the embarrassed. Together we galvanized and reached great heights in the Senate. Today, our record has become a standard of performance for legislative representation.
It is with God as my guide and the same constituency of mine across the State as my inspiration, that I reached a personal decision to run for Governorship of our great State, Kogi.  I run not to take the turn of any ethnic group or any other district, or because I have the best certificate or the longest experience. I run out of firm belief that Kogi can achieve greater heights; I run to truly unify and liberate our people and our State, and above all I run because I bring a unique blend of qualities well suited to this time; capacity, experience, network, strong will, boundless energy and youthfulness, and most significantly, unmatchable passion and commitment to public service.
Paraphrasing the former American President Lyndon Johnson, we are one State and one people, our fate as a State and our future as a people rest not upon one citizen or one ethnic group, but upon all citizens and all ethnic groups in the State. This is the majesty and meaning of this moment, and this is the meaning of my opening quotation above.
I empathize with our workers across the State that have been owed many months of  wages; I empathize with our citizens who don’t even earn wages because there are no jobs available.  In this State of great latent wealth, families must not live in hopeless poverty. In a land of learning with great scholars, our children must be taught well by qualified teachers. In a State with such beautiful and spectacular landscapes, the cities/towns must not be so rural.
Over the past eight years in which I have served this nation, and over many more as a private citizen, I have believed that this injustice to our people, this waste of our resources is our real enemy. For eight years and with the resources I have been blessed with, I have learned and I know that the injustice will fight back and it is fighting back.
But, the change of our great party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), ably led and symbolized by President Muhammad Buhari has given us new weapons. And before this generation of Kogites and indeed Nigerians are finished, this enemy will not only retreat, it will be conquered.
This electioneering period and this transition shall symbolize an end as well as a beginning, signifying renewal as well as change. For it is time for big ideas and giant strides. This great State has been acknowledged as having enormous potentials by those who live, work, visit and pass through it
My team and I, working with your support and co-operation, envision a Kogi that will be defined by rapid growth and development over the next four years, for the benefit of all who live, work and visit, unmatched by any region of her size and character in Africa.
Over the next four years, our great State will bring opportunities within reach of all. We shall ensure that all our citizens can identify and take advantage of existing and emerging opportunities and can do so in a secure and free environment. Security is essential for our State to be able to unleash her enormous potentials and tap the massive ingenuity of our citizens. They must be made to feel safe and at ease within our borders. That is why we will develop a special kind of relationship with all security agencies to rid the State of kidnapping, robbery and assassination episodes across the State. This relationship shall be driven by the State.
Education is the key that provides access to opportunities – the evidence is irrefutable. Kogi will have the development of our children and youth across all ages at the forefront. Basic education will be highly subsidized initially and free in the long run. It shall be of demonstrably high quality, matching the best standards in the world. We will ensure that all our children attend and stay in school.
They will acquire skills and knowledge driven by current and future needs and the demands of industry and the economy. Finally, a state of emergency will be declared to rework and revamp this very fundamental sector.
Healthcare is just as important as education. Aside the need of our people to stay healthy, productive and happy, the visitors and investors we hope to attract to the State are going to need assurance of adequate care and reaction in case of emergency. A state of emergency will also be declared in this sector, as we improve the collection, storage and monitoring of patient data by implementing Electronic Health.
Records (EHR) systems and improved personnel development, by establishing more health institutions to train nurses and other allied health workers, utilizing modern and advanced curricula. We shall, through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), improve our healthcare system and seek to promote medical tourism to the State.
As we move quickly towards making our State a commercial and industrial hub, we will embark on massive expansion, upgrade and repair of our infrastructure to enhance the competitiveness of our economy and ultimately create jobs for our people. Water resources of our State must be re-worked and harnessed to completely eradicate the dearth of potable water in even the remotest parts of the State, as well as adding the dimension of creating new jobs which enhance our new economic expansion.
Entrepreneurial governance will be our primary approach on election and inauguration. Our approach to governance is to provide direction, determine priorities and monitor performance. The private sector will as much as possible be charged with bringing our ideas to fruition, so enlargement of the private sector in this way will create jobs for our people and provide revenue to the State.
Kogi State will be lifted by the hands of our able, re-trained and well-motivated civil service. We shall build a new civil service comparable with the best anywhere. In addition to the civil service, we shall work closely with various communities and civil society groups to ensure accelerated development of the State. We will run an inclusive administration, providing widespread access to information about the process, opportunities and developments in government and will be accountable to the people of Kogi State for every action and omission.
The Local Governments will also be restored to the effectiveness envisioned by our Constitution, as we elevate citizen-expectations of the role of the State government. We believe that all citizens must also accept that they have an obligation to be responsible and just citizens. Justice requires us to remember that when any citizen denies his fellow citizen saying, “His ethnic group is not mine” or “His beliefs are strange and different” in that moment he betrays the new Kogi State.  We will be defining our charter for citizen responsibility and justice in due course.
Kogi will be a place where each citizen can be proud to be him or her, stretching talents, rejoicing in his or her work and importance in the life of his neighbours and his nation. We must work to provide the knowledge and the surroundings which can enlarge the possibilities of every citizen.
“What lies behind us and before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”- Oliver Wendell Homes
I have the conviction and drive, but I need your cooperation and partnership, for all must share in the productive work of this new beginning, just as all must share in the bounty of a reviving economy. Join me, for there is guidance in the pursuit of great ideals and energy in the pursuit of great ideas.

n Abatemi-Usman, a governship aspirant, writes from Kogi State.

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The renewed drive for economic growth in Lagos http://sunnewsonline.com/new/the-renewed-drive-for-economic-growth-in-lagos/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/the-renewed-drive-for-economic-growth-in-lagos/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 23:16:58 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133191 By Kayode Olopade To say that the current global downturn of  the economy occasioned by gradual fall in oil prices have pushed many countries of the world to look for ways to salvage their countries from being battered by the ugly effect, is an understatement. While some countries have either concluded arrangements to diversify and [...]]]>

By Kayode Olopade

To say that the current global downturn of  the economy occasioned by gradual fall in oil prices have pushed many countries of the world to look for ways to salvage their countries from being battered by the ugly effect, is an understatement. While some countries have either concluded arrangements to diversify and beam their searchlight to other lucrative ventures including Agriculture and tourism or devised means of increasing their internally generated revenue, IGR, some have resorted to making their states investors-friendly.  A typical example that readily comes to mind is the one being employed by the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode since his assumption of office about 62 days ago.
It is cheering to note that governor Ambode has maintained that his administration is ready to make rapid infrastructure renewal and upgrade a cardinal policy, through enthronement of a strategic policy thrust, the Public-Private Partnership, PPP, incorporated as a way of accelerating infrastructure delivery. There is no argument that good infrastructure is a sine-qua non for investment and economic growth. What the governor tries to do with institutional changes effected, so far, in the state especially adding Co-operative to the Ministry of Commerce and establishment of Ministry of Wealth Creation is to fast-track businesses and investments in the state. Thus, one can rightly say that Ambode has come in full force with key goals anchors on two principal pillars of making life simpler and happier for the people. He has started engineering the new era of progress through reaching out to and fine tuning investment opportunities in the centre of excellence. Just as the governor who has always been part of economic development plan of the state is strategizing to accelerate growth of local businesses, he is at the same time reaching out for foreign investment.
Though foreign investment everywhere in the world is greeted with both faith and skepticism, in our modern global world no country including China, France, Japan, America and Britain is an island on its own. Direct foreign investment is an integral part of an open and effective international economic system and a major catalyst to development. Judging from his interactions with the envoys from developed countries that have either visited or had opportunities of sharing thoughts with him, the governor has demonstrated that he is firmly on ground on his vision of making Lagos State investor-friendly and attractive. Ambode’s eventful 27 years professional experiences came to the fore while hosting a delegation from Wal-Mart of United States of America. How he struck a chord of understanding was amazing.
Imbued with timeless utilitarian values of the necessity of government pursuing the greatest happiness of the greatest number of the people, he assured the delegation of the state plans to make life better and happier for his people. In a convincing tone, he assured them of availability of manpower, citizens willing and capable to work as well as expanding middle class ready to buy products and services of international standard in the state.
The governor applauded the decision of Wal-Mart and assured them of his government’s plan to support the company in its expansion plans within the state, adding that it shows the confidence they have in the state.  This decision by Wal-Mart to centre its Nigerian expansion plans on Lagos shows the confidence they have in our state. We have the manpower, the citizens willing and able to work, and an expanding middle class ready to buy products and services of international standard”. “I was elected to boost employment and opportunity in Lagos, and this cooperation with Wal-Mart Inc is an important step towards fulfilling that pledge”, Ambode enthused.
Wal-Mart Inc. President and CEO, Middle East, Africa & Canada, Shelley Broader,  had emphasized that the company, among other things has made it a priority to key into the visions of the present administration, especially having listened and observed electioneering pledges of the governor, which among others, centered on tackling high unemployment, particularly amongst young people and developing longterm job opportunities and careers for thousands.
Also, while receiving envoys from the United States of America, Britain and Australia, who were on  courtesy visits to his office in Lagos, the governor also reiterated that his administration is poised at strengthening trade relations with their countries. He affirmed that paramount on his administration’s agenda, is to strengthen existing trade relations with countries willing to do business in the state as well as attract new investors. To this end, he said an Office of the Overseas Affairs and Investment has been established, whose primary assignment will be to relate with foreign investors and attract new businesses into the state.
“I want you to also recognize the fact that we are building a safer Lagos, we want to do everything as much as possible to make Lagos a more comfortable place for everyone to live in, that’s the only way we can attract investments into Lagos” he said. He said his administration is poised to strengthen economic ties with their countries, urging them to feel free to offer any useful suggestions that would make investors willing to set up their investment in the state. He listed energy, power and energy as well as oil and gas sectors as possible strong areas where such bi-lateral relations could be strengthened, assuring that the state is safe, conducive and investor-friendly to accommodate more investors in the state.
“All these put together, the main objective for us is to be able to build on the economy of Lagos and increase the GDP of Lagos as a state, create more jobs for our people and we would be able to make life more comfortable for them”

. Olopade writes from Alausa, Ikeja.
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Suspension of the Comptroller-General of Immigration: Setting the record straight http://sunnewsonline.com/new/suspension-of-the-comptroller-general-of-immigration-setting-the-record-straight/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/suspension-of-the-comptroller-general-of-immigration-setting-the-record-straight/#comments Sat, 29 Aug 2015 23:48:12 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=133158 The recent suspension of CGI David Shi­kfu Parradang OFR, mni as the Comptrol­ler-General of Immigration with effect from 21 August 2015, is a matter that has been gen­erating rhetorics and innuendoes in the infor­mation space. It is a development that has set so many tongues wagging and the self-styled puritans who are known for prancing [...]]]>

The recent suspension of CGI David Shi­kfu Parradang OFR, mni as the Comptrol­ler-General of Immigration with effect from 21 August 2015, is a matter that has been gen­erating rhetorics and innuendoes in the infor­mation space. It is a development that has set so many tongues wagging and the self-styled puritans who are known for prancing on public issues andw hurling uninformed analyses have yet got another assignment on their hands. But before anybody will be in a haste to take the Service to the guillotine, nay the allegedly “err­ing” Comptroller-General, we have considered it a deserving duty of overriding public impor­tance to set the record straight and educate Nigerians on clear position of things. Nigeria Immigration Service has not been in the news for negative reasons over the years except for details that will be laid bare in this treatise.

The NIS as an entity is under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior through an organ known as Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Board (CDFIPB). For a paramilitary outfit that should enjoy a reasonable measure of autonomy, the relationship between the NIS and the above mentioned supervisory organ has not been rosy. And this can be traceable to the disgraceful man­ner successive Comptrollers-General have left of­fice. Over the years, the major source of conflict is the issues bordering on recruitment, promotion and posting in the Service. As earlier stated the NIS is one of the agencies under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior, through the CDFIPB. However, the NIS has a legal instrument (Immi­gration Act 1963, reviewed in 2015) that regulates its functions. Whereas the Immigration Act and Immigration manual regulate the daily operation­al activities of the Nigeria Immigration Service the Board’s Act takes care of policy matters of all the agencies in the Board such as Prisons, Civil Defence and the Fire Service .

With regards to appointment, promotion and discipline, Section 4(2), CAP 12 Immigration and Prisons Board Act, LFN of 1986, states thus: The Board shall have power –

  • To appoint persons to hold or act in all the of­fices in the affected Services, including power to make appointments on promotion or transfer and to confirm appointments; and
  • To dismiss and exercise other disciplinary control over persons appointed pursuant to para­graph (a) of this subsection.

Section 4(3) of this Act however set the clear limit on the power of the Board in the following words “The power conferred on the Board under subsection (2) of this section, shall notwithstand­ing anything to the contrary in any other enact­ment, include the power to appoint and exercise disciplinary control over –

  • The Director (Comptroller-General) of Im­migration; and
  • The Director (Comptroller-General) of the Prisons Service.

That the recent letter of suspension of the Comptroller General reference CDFIPB/ IMM/348/Vol.I/54 dated 21st August 2015 and signed by one AA Ibrahim, Director/Secretary is at variance with the letters and intention of the provisions of section 4(3) of the Board’s Act is not contestable. In the letter the signatory claimed to be directed to issue the letter by a supposedly superior authority which normally should be the Presidency but signed the said letter for and on behalf of himself. This is not only curious but quite unusual of Federal Civil Service practice. The whole exercise borders on someone usurping the power he never had to issue such a letter espe­cially to a chief executive who was appointed by the President and Commander-in-Chief.

That the relationship between the NIS and the Board has not been cordial is simply stating the obvious. In the recent past, especially during the tenure of CJ Udeh, OFR, (2005 – 2010), the strug­gle for the control of the soul of the NIS by the Ministry/Board have been so tense to the extent that successive Comptroller-Generals virtually struggled to run their offices due to the overbear­ing interferences of the officials of the Ministry/ Board in the day to day running of the service. At a point, it got to a ridiculous extent that Comp­trollers-General of the NIS were requested to submit staff posting order to the Ministry/Board for vetting or reasons best known to them. Any staff deployment exercise especially foreign post­ing that does not accommodate at least 70% of the powerful members of the Board/Ministry would not be accepted. Any Comptroller General, who does otherwise, wowuld be charged with insub­ordination and improper behaviour to constituted authority even when it is obvious that the candi­dates of these powerful Board members are not in any way qualified for such vital deployments. CJ Udeh’s tenure can be described as the brightest chapter in the annals of NIS relationship with the Board. And this can be attributed to two reasons: the then President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR understood the peculiar dynamics associ­ated with the administration of the military and paramilitary institutions such as the NIS. He gave the Comptroller-General a clear mandate to re­structure and reposition the Service and went fur­ther to complement same with the appointment of Gen. Godwin Abbe (Rtd) as Honorable Minister of Interior/Chairman of the Board. The truth of the matter is that CJ Udeh wouldn’t have succeeded if he were to be subjected to unnecessary adminis­trative bottlenecks inherent in the Board.

That a Comptroller-General of the NIS will be expected to get approval from the Board/Ministry to deploy staff literally means that he/she is just a figurehead. That a CGI cannot even effect urgent operational changes and grant media interview without clearance from the Ministry/Board in 21st century Nigeria is not only laughable, but also at variance with the provision of the Freedom Of In­formation Act 2011.

It is no longer news that the Comptroller Gener­al of Immigration, David S. Parradang, OFR,mni has been suspended because of alleged violation of extant laws as enunciated by the CDFIP Board. What is news however, is that the Board is in a hurry to make Nigerians forget the genesis and the roles they played in the recruitment debacle of March 15, 2014.

However, Nigerians are wise people; they know the story. They know that some persons who are still walking free on the streets of this country collected N1000 from each of the over 700,000 Nigerian job seekers in the botched ex­ercise of 15 March, 2014 during which 15 young Nigerians paid the supreme price with their blood and tens of others got various degrees of injuries. Public outcry rented the whole atmosphere. The senate of the 7th Assembly waded into the matter but because those who swindled the young Nige­rians and even killed some in the most shameful recruitment exercise were so powerful, the senate report never saw the light of the day even up till date. Even the presidential directives on them to refund the blood money of #1000:00 collected from young job seekers remained ignored.

The Federal Government led by the former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR was shaken to its foundations. A rescue mission was embarked on, upon the realization that some cronies at the Board have not only swindled these young Nigerians, but also sent them to their early graves for the job they never got.

A Committee known as The Presiden­tial Committee to Assist in Immigration Recruitment was constituted on 26th March, 2014 by the former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR. The membership of that committee includes;

  • The Chairman Federal Civil Service Commission (Chairman)
  • The Permanent Secretary (General Services) OSGF
  • The Comptroller- General of Immi­gration
  • The Representative of the Inspector General of Police
  • The representative of the DG Depart­ment of State Services
  • The representative of the Corps Mar­shal FRSC
  • The representative of the Comman­dant General Civil Defense Corps
  • The representative of the Controller- General Prisons
  • The representative of the Attorney General of the Federation
  • The representative of D G, Federal Character Commission
  • The representative of the Head of Service

The terms of reference of this Com­mittee as signed by the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim includes;

  • To liaise with the Board to confirm the actual number of personnel to be re­cruited
  • To assist the Board by advertising the recruitment with a view to starting the process afresh
  • To assist the Board by processing the application, short listing of potential ap­plicants and conducting necessary inter­views for the purpose of the recruitment exercise
  • To assist the Board by following all relevant laws, Public Service Rules and guidelines to determine successful ap­plicants and announce their appointment into the NIS
  • To ensure that three family mem­bers of each deceased applicant from the aborted exercise, at least one of whom should be a female are given immediate and automatic appointment
  • To ensure that all those injured are given immediate and automatic appoint­ment in the NIS.

The Presidential Committee got into action and advertisement for job va­cancies was placed in various media platforms. CGI Parradang was neither the chairman of the Committee nor the Secretary but just an ordinary member whose central concern was to make any useful contributions that would remove the NIS which he headed from pub­lic ridicule occasioned by the botched March 15, 2014 recruitment fraud or­ganized and supervised by the Board/ Ministry.

The Committee deployed the Com­puter- Based Test (CBT) option for se­lection of candidates and this culminated in the enlistment of about 1600 recruits through a much better process than the botched March 15, 2014 recruitment exercise. All these were of junior rank of which the enabling laws of the land (PSR 020103) allow the Comptroller General as the head of the extra ministerial agen­cy to recruit.

The current fight that led to the sus­pension of the CGI began when the Board called on him to cancel the entire recruitment exercise done by the presi­dential committee. He told them clearly that he has no such unilateral power to annul the outcome of an exercise of that magnitude because other members of the committee need to be consulted. The real truth about the Board’s position is not unconnected with the fact that the exer­cise did not allow members of the Board to impose their candidates on the CGI to recruit thereby short changing qualified Nigerians.

The Board/Ministry felt that the CGI, DS Parradang, OFR,mni did not carry them along in the exercise. This is not only strange but very illogical because there was no how the CGI would have nominated the representative of the Board to the Presidential Committee of which he was also a nominated member.

The SINS of CGI Parradang in the court of the Board/Ministry are not un­connected with his consistent calls for the adherence to proper procedures and practices in the relationship between the Board/Ministry and the NIS. On 27th May, 2015, and towards the end of the last administration, the Board forwarded three different lists of 30 Specially Pro­moted Officers of the NIS. The CGI raised opposition to the lists pointing out that his inputs on any of the so called spe­cially promoted officers were not sought by the Board as required by the Board’s Guidelines on Special Promotion. In the accompanying letter, signed by AA Ibra­him, the CGI was directed to issue pro­motion letters to the eight affected junior personnel implying the Board’s belated recognition that the CGI was supposed to be carried along in the first place. The letter reads in parts thus; “in the exercise of your delegated responsibility, your are expected to conduct the production and issuance of the individual officers’ letters of promotion”

Under normal circumstance and in line with Service Rules and CDFIPB Guidelines, Promotion and Discipline of August 2012, which provides in para­graph ‘C’, of page 20, the CGI was sup­posed to send briefs on any officer who has demonstrated uncommon character, exceptional brilliance and conduct wor­thy of commendation and reward to the Board for special promotion. The Board neglected this requirement and merely forwarded lists of specially promoted of­ficers they concocted to the CGI for re­lease and publication to affected officers.

The position of CGI Parradang on the special promotion has always been that when officers and men are unduly el­evated far ahead their mates and indeed superiors without proven evidence of competence or any justifiable reason (s), especially in a regimented environment, indiscipline, loss of morale and disaffec­tion would set in and that may have ter­rible consequences both to the Service and the larger society. This position espe­cially his protest letter of 8th June 2015 to the Board on that matter was seriously frowned at by the Board/Ministry mark­ing the genesis of the unfolding realities of today.

Again on matters of staff posting order and deployment the Board would always want to dictate for the CGI, who to de­ploy to where and how in a paramilitary agency under arms where due diligence and professionalism must be strictly fol­lowed in such matters. For instance, in a list of about 46 officers and men recently posted to Foreign Missions, 16 that is about 35% of them were the candidates of Comrade Abba Moro the former Min­ister/ Chairman of the Board and almost the same percentage came from officials of the Board/Ministry.

The Board/Ministry overseeing the NIS as constituted today is nothing but a group of businessmen in Public Service whose ‘gods’ must be appeased before any Comptroller General of Immigra­tion or personnel of NIS can get his/her legitimate privileges. You must bribe your ways to get promoted as a senior of­ficer and you must be highly connected to somebody in the Board to be posted to any “juicy” formations in the NIS. These among others are the evils that Parradang fought gallantly against the Board. Unfor­tunately, with their half-truths the Board was able to mislead the Presidency to secure Parradang’s suspension. The truth about the rot in NIS is that it has nothing to do with Parradang as an individual but the NIS as a critical stakeholder in the se­curity architecture of the country.

In many serious minded countries, the heads of their Homeland/Interior Min­istries are usually persons with robust military/ paramilitary background who have acceptable understanding about how to run any security institution. Ni­geria must begin to think in this direction because former Comptrollers General of the NIS such as SA Dange, RC Uzoma and now DS Parradang got hooked in the dirty traps of the Board/ Ministry. The re­sult is that the nation suffers for it. That Parradang, a consummate officer and a trained member of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) is alleged to have overstepped his bound­aries in a service he has worked for over 32 years is keenly watching how this sus­pension works out. This just scene One, we are waiting anxiously for scene Two.

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Understanding Buhari in 100 days http://sunnewsonline.com/new/understanding-buhari-in-100-days/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/understanding-buhari-in-100-days/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 23:00:47 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=132943 The enormously popular talk show, Berekete on Wazo­bia FM radio, Abuja station told the incredible, yet true story of the hardworking and respected school teacher somewhere in Plateau State who hanged himself. He hadn’t been paid salary for seven straight months. He came home to find that no one had eaten and two of the [...]]]>

The enormously popular talk show, Berekete on Wazo­bia FM radio, Abuja station told the incredible, yet true story of the hardworking and respected school teacher somewhere in Plateau State who hanged himself.

He hadn’t been paid salary for seven straight months. He came home to find that no one had eaten and two of the children had medical prescriptions for which there was no money. He sneaked out without talking to anyone. After a long while, news came home that he had strangely been caught with a stolen goat.

On his day in court, the teacher confessed to the offence. The reason he stole,he told the local judge, was that he hadn’t been paid for seven months and when he got home to see what he saw, he just couldn’t stand it.

The judge allowed him to go home on bail on self-recognition given, as he said, the good impression the entire village had of the otherwise respected teacher.

All were shocked to find his body dangling from tree the morn­ing after. He couldn’t live with the shame.

In the recommendations and notes the Ahmed Joda transition committee presented to him as President -EIect, Muhammadu Bu­hari was informed that a section of the Fedaral Government as well as 27 states hadn’t paid salaries, in some cases for up to a year.

The Joda committee advised that this was a national emergency and should be treated as such.

It is on account of this that one of the activities- please note the choice of this word:activities, not achievements- of President Mu­hammadu Buhari in these past three months is the settlement of unpaid salaries. This is going on right now.

Like the proverbial blinking of the eye, Saturday, September 5 will mark the 100th day of the Buhari-led All Progressives Con­gress, APC government which took office on May 29th after the new party became the first in opposition to unseat an incumbent government in an election adjudged by everyone as free and fair.

There are many out there who say that the performance of a president and his government in terms success or failure cannot be judged in 100 days and I agree with them. But history will be writ­ten anyway. In the coming week or two, a rash of commentaries and analyses to commemorate the event will be made.

I myself don’t deny that 100 days is long enough to know and understand the man who is the head of a government.

Buhari gained power with strong support from young men and women and this country’s poor. The new government was not fa­voured at election by the monied power-brokers although that did not stop the President from taking measures such as improving se­curity that are good for business and investment. This government is business-friendly but not one that is for crony capitalism.

The new government inherited enormous problems created by the tainted PDP administration, largely caused by the lack of governance,corruption and lawlessness. This was mostly evident in the last two years of the Jonathan Goodluck administration. As the President continues to point out,the drift is most evident in the oil sector.

I believe that there is enough on the ground in those 100 days to understand President Buhari, his government and what it stands for.

I will cite a few of these.

Before I do that, I will make a little confession.

In the course of electioneering, the presidential campaign had so many centres of public communication which, for whatever reason were on the loose.

There is a certain document tagged “One Hundred Things Bu­hari Will Do in 100 Days” and the other, “My Covenant With Ni­gerians.” Both pamphlets bore the authorised party logo but as the Director of Media and Communications in that campaign, I did not fund or authorise any of those. I can equally bet my last Kobo that Candidate Buhari did not see or authorize those publications.

As a consequence of these publications, expectations have been raised unreasonably, that as President, Muhammadu Buhari will wave his hand and all the problems that the country faces- insecu­rity, corruption, unemployment, poor infrastructure would go away.

But that notwithstanding, President Buhari has given the job his best shot and the whole country is saying that we never had it so good. He has re-instituted the values of hard work and administra­tive efficiency. The President says times without number that this country needs to fix governance and that he won’t tolerate laziness.

Some of the other activities I wish to enumerate also include the fact of his taking relations with the country’s immediate neighbors to new heights. By their open admissions, this country’s neighbors did not have someone they could talk to on the deteriorating secu­rity situation in the Lake Chad Basin area in Aso Rock.

Buhari embarked on his foreign policy on Day Four of his ad­ministration.

When he met Barack Obama, the U.S president told the Ni­gerian leader that he was getting it right and that it is only when Nigeria gets it right that Africa will get it right.

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who came calling this week said that our president is “courageous, focused and firm.”

Relations with the “G 7” group of industrialized countries have since been “reset” and the dividends of this have begun to flow in­wards.

In the area of economic management, Nigerians are already see­ing things happen that they thought were not possible in so short a time.

He didn’t put a Kobo to finance the power sector. Yet, reading his body language alone and knowing that there are things you cannot do and get away with under Buhari, electricity supply all over the country has risen to unprecedented heights.

Actually, some cities are on the verge of calling 24-hour, round the clock power supply. The country generates more power than can internally be taken by the deplorable distribution system we have on the ground, which points to the next challenge that the country faces.

Framework for the management of the country’s finances has been put in place. The wobbly Naira is being stabilised and inflation is headed towards a single digit.President Buhari is keeping a close eye on the government treasury.

Agriculture is getting its own shot in the arm.

Rice importation has been curtailed and seven governors whose states are priming a massive local production of the commodity have had a strategy meeting with the President on the next steps that are coming. Americans say their intervention in our agriculture will come next year.

Boko Haram, which had more or less been allowed to fester for about five years is about being ended but what is even more inter­esting is that intelligence coming from the fired-up armed forces who now work in synergy with each other is raising hope that the Chibok girls may, repeat may be found in good numbers in a geo­graphic location of interest somewhere in the North-East.

President Buhari is being praised at home and abroad for his on­going fight against corruption. He said from the beginning that his government will not tolerate this vice.

Borrowing the words of India Narendra Modi’s, he said himself that “I won’t steal and I’ll not allow others to do it.” President Bu­hari has walked his talk since he come to office.

Himself and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have not only given up half of their salary, they have cut a good number of funding lines to their official homes and offices.

President Buhari also takes the environment seriously. He blames the lack of security in the Lake Chad region on the recession, almost drying up of the lake. He has undertaken to clean up the Ogoniland.

In this country, appointments and removal from office are done usually in accordance with a spoils system.

A new government sacks officials on the basis only that it did not appoint them, but the predecessor-adminstration.

President Buhari has shown that his government is different. He wants to look at each case on its own merit and it is clear by now that he is not ready to surrender the country to burnt out politicians. Technocrats will have a big place in his administration.

He has appointed no ministers yet, but the government is running smoothly.

In this period of three months, government certainly deserves a pat on the back for improved power, reform in the energy sector, foreign relations fight against corruption and insurgency and the fact of Nigerians being at peace, not only among themselves but with their neighbors and the rest of the world.

In think in summary, I would like to end this piece by saying that President Muhammadu Buhari will turn out to be a leader in the tradition of Lee Kuan-Yu and India’s current reform-minded Prime Minister Modi with strong and clear emphasis on detail and ex­ecution. He may however differ with them by not micro-managing things.

GARBA SHEHU

SSA MEDIA AND PUBLICITY TO THE PRESIDENT.

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Bishop Kukah, Anti-Corruption and Good Governance (2) http://sunnewsonline.com/new/bishop-kukah-anti-corruption-and-good-governance-2/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/bishop-kukah-anti-corruption-and-good-governance-2/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 23:00:08 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=132977 REFLECTIONS  BY OLU OBAFEMI  Only: 08033341157  Email: omoajon@yahoo.com There are seminar, contemplative and reflective responses to Bishop Kukah’s television statements on behalf of NPC, nearly in the same direction of Wabba’s and Oshiomhole’s. Olakunle Abimbola, in his column, Re­publican Ripples, wrote on ‘Kukah Cook­ing Poisonous Broth (a witty sound- pun on the name Kukah as [...]]]>

REFLECTIONS  BY OLU OBAFEMI  Only: 08033341157  Email: omoajon@yahoo.com

There are seminar, contemplative and reflective responses to Bishop Kukah’s television statements on behalf of NPC, nearly in the same direction of Wabba’s and Oshiomhole’s. Olakunle Abimbola, in his column, Re­publican Ripples, wrote on ‘Kukah Cook­ing Poisonous Broth (a witty sound- pun on the name Kukah as Cooker). The piece which dwelt extensively informatively and seminally, on matters of revolutionary theology in part, wondered if ‘the Godly priest’ who was ‘so cavalier at leveraging his integrity on Jonathan era opacity’, through his ‘quaint crusade’ will not end up as ‘the merriest self-demystification in the history of global Catholicism’. Admit­ting, to my great relief, that this asser­tion is a deployment of hyperbole, Abim­bola did not excuse the entire Catholic Church, on account of Bishop Kukah’s ‘holy show on TV’, which appears to him as amounting to railing ‘against a sacred presidential duty (of Buhari) to retrieve allegedly stolen funds’ and thus of slid­ing back the Order’s ‘historical nemesis of suspect fidelity to the state, no matter how profane its cause.’ In other, simpler words, Kukah’s advocacy of peace (of the graveyard) on behalf of Jonathan and his government, has the potential of derailing the national cleansing duty of the resent government and the government must ig­nore the comfortable elite, which Kukah and the NPC represent and take its man­date ‘directly from the people’

These interpretive positions quoted above appear to me to be the most popular under­standing of the position of the Reverend Matthew Bishop Kukah on the President’s manner of executing the anti-corruption proj­ect with regard to governance and national stability. There are a few commentators who would reason along with the Bishop. In one of such reasoning, the Bishop remains the outspoken and fiery voice of conscience for the people and who has, even on this occa­sion, in their view, cautioned the President, not to give policy and strategy priority to fighting corruption in a way that could dis­tract him from running a good government. Dan Onwukwe, my colleague on The Sun Newspaper’s Editorial Board, is of that per­suasion, namely that even though the Presi­dent is fulfilling his election promises, among which is to fight corruption, he must be ready to accommodate the Kukahs of the world; he ‘should be ready to accept constructive criticisms that can help him to succeed.’ The President should not, in his reasoning, ‘risk being hemmed in by focusing ‘all his energies on corruption.’ He ‘should not play fast and loose with the facts on corruption as if the target was Jonathan.’ Onwukwe concludes his column by admonishing the President to remain more of a leader and a statesman than an anti-corruption crusader by demonstrating that ‘he has learned from his own shortcoming s and now genuinely committed to restoring Nigeria’s belief in its own future in these uncertain times.’

These are very strong positions which are worth pondering over with regard to the project of national transformation. There is no mutual exclusivity in the ideals of good governance and fighting corruption. The cesspit of corruption and its hydra-headed culture, which has for decades, engulfed Nigeria makes good governance impossibility. There is no way good governance can be assured and sustained without a sound social economy. In fighting corruption, not as an exclusive governance policy but as an integral part of socio-economic reconstruction, the Buhari Administration will set the nation on the course of good governance. What is the value of a democracy in which development of the kind that ensures the provision of goods and services to the electorate and the entire citizenry—which is the concrete signifier of good governance are unavailable? Buhari and his government are justified, in my view, to pursue the fight against corruption in visionary governance which is aimed at good governance?

Concluded

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Of APC, Fashola and mudslinging http://sunnewsonline.com/new/of-apc-fashola-and-mudslinging/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/of-apc-fashola-and-mudslinging/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 02:03:16 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=132895 Since the past few weeks, the media has been awash with the story of how former Lagos governor, Babatunde Fashola mismanaged taxpayers money during his eight-year tenure. The accusations have come in torrents and around the same time. The first of such accusations had been that he spent about N73.8m to upgrade his website.]]>

Since the past few weeks, the media has been awash with the story of how former Lagos governor, Babatunde Fashola mismanaged taxpayers money during his eight-year tenure. The accusations have come in torrents and around the same time. The first of such accusations had been that he spent about N73.8m to upgrade his website. The report was published in the state’s official website in May. The money was allegedly paid to Info Access Plus limited to “upgrade www.tundefashola.com website post May 29, 2015 handover”.  That wasn’t the only allegation. The former governor was also accused of spending N139m on the drilling of two boreholes at the Lagos House, Ikeja. Also a motor park including some unspecified works was allegedly completed at a cost of N640m. Power Holding Company of Nigeria’s cables were relocated at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital at N300m, a pedestrian bridge railing was replaced at N175m, two boreholes were constructed at N139m. It went on and on like that.
Allegation of having children outside of marriage, among others were also leveled against the governor.
But the one that actually generated controversies was the website redesign cost. The company involved had no choice than to come out to state its own side of the case that it actually collected N10m for the job from the N12.5m that was quoted.
The governor himself has reacted to the allegations. He never denied that the website was awarded at the stated cost but noted that a complete report was not given.
“In publishing this Contract award which was the Government tradition under my watch, the procurement agency’s website summarised it as “upgrade” only without detailing the other services and this has been distorted by the agents of hate as their suspected “smoking gun”.“For those who are familiar with mobile applications, they will know that users either pay for them online or download them for free. “What is usual is that applications for service are usually provided to users free, but somebody bears the cost.
“Since these applications were to be made available to the public for free access and to assist Government communication, we decided to pay for them.The entire documents are with the Lagos State Government and are available for those who seek the truth. For the record, since 2008, long before the Freedom of Information Act ever passed, we had put out our contracts on the State website because people deserve to know.
It is regrettable that a “summary” of the contract has been deliberately distorted to misinform the public”.
It is indeed regrettable that the accusation against the governor is coming at this time. While one would not support the mismanagement of our collective patrimony, the question that comes to mind is why is the information being released at this time?
It has been said that the former governor has not been in the good books of his mentor and the leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Would that be the reason? Among the many “sins” of the former governor had been his alleged non-support of the candidature of the present governor, Akinwunmi Ambode. He was accused of raising another candidate to vie for the same position in the run up to the party primaries that threw up Ambode as APC candidate. Fashola was said to have neglected his party too by not adequately funding it, according to a former Asiwaju’s aide who confided in this writer. At a time that President Mohammadu Buhari was shopping for a Vice Presidential candidate, one of the names people thought would be put forward was that of Fashola. That was not to be due to the allegations raised against him that “someone that was given the governorship of the state and he behaved the way he did, if he was given something higher, he would behave in a worse manner”, was how the aide puts it. It was therefore not surprising that the  mismanagement allegations are coming at this time. Borrowing from the statement of the web designers, Info Access Plus limited, “loading of contracts awarded and executed by the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency is itself suspect and aimed at a pre-determined end”. What then is this predetermined end? Is it to discredit Fashola so that President Muhammadu Buhari would not want to associate with him as was being speculated?
Fashola as governor was a model that other governors tried to emulate. He brought governance home to the people and Lagosians actually lived the word, ‘dividends of democracy’’. He performed’ while he held sway. Most of the landmark achievements in Lagos today came about during his tenure.  But all these would not have been possible without Asiwaju who anointed him his successor.  It was he that stood solidly behind Fashola when others had different views. Asiwaju’s reaction to the entire saga was therefore not suprising when he said, “ an attack against the performance of Governor Fashola is indirectly an attack against me and the edifice of achievements we have constructed in leading Lagos State out of a protracted time of stagnation and into an era of sustained progress and development.”
The allegations against Fashola can only hurt the party. My take is that, what is happening now could only be the work of fifth columnists, those trying to put a wedge in the party and the good relationship that should exist between Asiwaju and Fashola. The former governor is someone that the National leader of APC and the party itself  should be proud having discharged his responsibilities to the best of his ability. And there is no reason why he should not be pushed to the national level to again serve, if need be.
Asiwaju’s  statement on the matter is indeed a welcome development. It places him (Asiwaju) on that pedestal of a leader that he is. By that statement, he has put a stop to the campaign. And one hopes it stays that way.

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Probes: Beyond the saints and sinners posturing http://sunnewsonline.com/new/probes-beyond-the-saints-and-sinners-posturing-2/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/probes-beyond-the-saints-and-sinners-posturing-2/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 02:01:01 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=132893 LET me start this article with the preamble that language would have been robbed of its beauty if certain words are not differentiated by their opposites. That is why every language has a way of distinguishing between man and woman, male and female, good and bad, light and darkness and others. ]]>

LET me start this article with the preamble that language would have been robbed of its beauty if certain words are not differentiated by their opposites. That is why every language has a way of distinguishing between man and woman, male and female, good and bad, light and darkness and others.
Unfortunately, this linguistic dichotomy that enables people to communicate well in language has become a source of labelling. In Nigeria, this linguistic distinction of words has been taken to a ridiculous level by our politicians. We know or are made to know that there are two breeds of Nigerian politicians: the “saints” and the “sinners” as if these are absolute terms. They say it as if a saint has no sin or that a sinner has no virtue.
Hitherto, such classification used to be between the conservatives and the progressives. In the 70s and 80s when Marxism was in vogue all over the world, it used to be between the “leftists” and the “rightists.” Later, it morphed to a confusing nomenclature of “a little to the right and a little to the left” paradigm. In other words, such a politician is not completely “leftist” or “rightist” in his political ideology. Members of some political parties in the West have always seen themselves as being in the “progressives” camp since Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s defunct Action Group that held sway in the First Republic as if others are devoid of any progressive features.
The major political parties in the North and East, the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) led by Sir Ahmadu Bello and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe respectively were regarded as conservatives. The NPC was seen by some southern politicians as reactionary party while the AG is synonymous with action.
Despite these confusing binaries of identities, all the three major political parties competed and fared well in their domains. The developmental strides of the then three regions were phenomenal even without oil and gas.
Before the 2015 general elections, some political parties and individuals from the North, East and West came together and formed a merger of some political parties into what is today known as the All Progressives Congress (APC) to unseat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The APC came to power on the mantra of “change.” Perhaps they want to change what the PDP has allegedly done wrongly. Majority of Nigerians embraced the “change” message and the rest is now history as we say in local parlance.
But, since the inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari as President over two months ago, have Nigerians got the change they want? The answer is beyond the yes or no alternatives. The answers will be varied and depend on who is providing them as well.
To majority of APC people and their supporters, Buhari has done marvelously well since assumption of power. To them, his visit to the United States is a clincher as well as his fight against corruption. Some say electricity supply has increased but nobody has cared to verify if the improvement is as a result of what the past government put on ground in reforming the power sector or that we are in rainy season where water at Kainji Dam is at its peak. Whether the visit to the US yielded some goodies or not, the APC regards it as the highest in Nigeria/US diplomatic relations so far.
Even when some well-informed Nigerians are criticizing the way and manner of Buhari’s anti-graft war and insisting on due process and fairness, the APC cheer leaders urge him on. Even when Governor Rochas Okorocha has boasted that the APC will rule Imo State for 24 years, the party chieftains applauded him. They forget that a certain PDP chieftain from Abia State made a similar sinister and unfulfilled prophecy in the past.
Even when one Dr. Junaid Mohammed, an APC sympathizer and unrepentant Igbo-hater that derides the South-East on any issue including an innocent submission on unfair distribution of Buhari’s appointments, so far, by former Anambra State governor, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, the APC leaders nod their heads, clap and dance in agreement.Buhari has ruled Nigeria alone since inauguration for over two months without ministers and key officers of government and the APC is singing aloud that all is well and fine.
Now that the government is probing only former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and his aides, all is good and fine to the APC even when concerned Nigerians are opposed to selective probing. Nigerians had wanted an all encompassing probe that will go back to 1999 when the rot started but Buhari and APC will never hear that.
To the APC, all PDP politicians are “sinners” while those in APC are “saints.” That is why the alleged Nigeria’s missing billions of naira or dollars are stashed in PDP members’ houses. Nobody cares if some APC “holy apostles” house some of the loot. Since Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State resolved to probe the administration of his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, the APC has cried blue murder as if we are not in a season of probes.
Buhari should muster the energy to probe certain APC chieftains that some Nigerians are pointing accusing fingers at, on corruption allegations. He should also probe some APC states, where the opposition parties are alleging monumental corruption and probe anybody alleged of corruption irrespective of party affiliations.
As I have earlier reiterated in some of my recent articles, the current probe should go beyond the Jonathan’s administration. It should not be allowed to distract from real governance for which Buhari was voted into power. It should also go beyond the “saints” versus “sinners” dichotomy.
I say this because the sainthood chanters in APC are not entirely free of corruption too. It is not in doubt that saints and sinners abound in APC and PDP. Labelling any PDP politician that has not been convicted of corruption charges, corrupt, is stereotyping.
The shout of “ole”, “ole” belongs to the lynch mob and should be discarded in defining who is a rogue among our politicians. The story of corruption in Nigeria and who is corrupt, should not be told by APC alone to avoid what Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, regarded as “the danger of a single story.”
There are many sides to the corruption tale in Nigeria. For the fight against corruption to be effective, all corrupt politicians, whether in APC or PDP should be investigated.
Like the renowned Ghanaian writer, Ayi Kwei Armah, rightly predicted in his novel, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, the morally upright (saints) among our politicians are still in the womb.

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Echoes of Gov. Obiano’s 60th birthday http://sunnewsonline.com/new/echoes-of-gov-obianos-60th-birthday/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/echoes-of-gov-obianos-60th-birthday/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 01:55:24 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=132889 GOVERNOR Willie Obiano’s 60th birthday celebration on the 8th of August, 2015 was indeed remarkable. Nothing less was expected from a governor whose high performance rate in governance has ensured a souring popularity among the citizens of the state. ]]>

By Okechukwu Anarado

GOVERNOR Willie Obiano’s 60th birthday celebration on the 8th of August, 2015 was indeed remarkable. Nothing less was expected from a governor whose high performance rate in governance has ensured a souring popularity among the citizens of the state.
The events of the day formally started at Aguleri, the country home of the governor, with a widely attended High Mass concelebrated by Bishops and priests of the Catholic Church, in the company of numerous other clerics.
The entire activities marking the ceremony captured the eagerness of the people of Anambra to congregate in fellowship with their governor, who has consistently expressed distinctive passion for informal cordiality with his people. The people of Anambra, therefore, came out en masse to cheer their governor, whom they delight in hailing by his traditional title, Akpokuedike.
Despite the governor’s declaration of his preferences for a modest celebration, the multitude of people who turned out in very colourful apparels was so impressive that the scene caught the impression of a carnival. The governor’s guests damned the vagaries of the rainy season to come out in celebration; and they were not disappointed.
The governor availed himself of the huge attendance to imprint his characteristic hospitality. The modesty, he earlier pleaded, did not preclude sufficiency of food and drinks for the guests who were confident that they would enjoy the beneficence of their host. Akpokuedike has a reputation for large heartedness, which he acquired over the years and has continued to increasingly nurture in the context of his increasing attainments.
There were, however, some aspects of the euphoria surrounding the celebration which suggested the exercise of exuberance and liberty in perception by persons and organizations, respectively, who acted independent of Chief Obiano and the Government of Anambra State in expressing their sentiments and anticipations in respect of 8th August.
For instance, the placards positioned at some locations in Abuja, congratulating Chief Obiano on his birthday, which cynics accuse the State Government of masterminding could just be from some Ndi-Anambra who are resident in Abuja trying to identify with and appreciate their governor away from home. Such overflowing sentiments obtain.
Similarly, the State Government cannot be seen to be responsible for the marketing some media outfits embarked on to reach prospective patrons of birthday congratulatory advertorials for the governor.
These were obvious discretionary decisions by persons and organizations, which though legitimate, were not prompted by either the Government of Anambra State or Governor Obiano. Such private actions should not attract condemnation from critics of the affairs of state in Anambra, unless deliberate misconceptions are implied to give vent to puerile arguments.
When some faceless persons under the cover of the social media chose to overlook the joys that spread across the state following the governor’s attainment of 60 years, and focus instead on trivialities by imputing financial recklessness on the part the State Government, thereby seeking to demonize the governor, it became obvious that they were the voices of a few disgruntled fellows whose beat it is to forever talk ill of the Government and Governor of Anambra State.
Ndi-Anambra cannot be deceived by such persons who hardly see any good in any act unless such act is initiated and executed and endorsed by them.
Anambra State people are definitely happy with their Governor, Chief Willie Obiano. His happiness interests them; after all he first gave them joy by his commitment to greater life among the people: talk of prime security, safety and vibrant economic activities which his government is fostering in the state.
If only the detractors of Chief Obiano’s administration would retreat and join hands with the governor in the efforts to expand the frontiers of good governance in the state, Anambra’s path to Uhuru would be beaten faster.

•Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu

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Suspension of Immigration boss: Setting the record straight (2) http://sunnewsonline.com/new/suspension-of-immigration-boss-setting-the-record-straight-2/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/suspension-of-immigration-boss-setting-the-record-straight-2/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 01:53:23 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=132887 The Federal Government led by the former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, was shaken to its foundations. A rescue mission was embarked on, upon the realization that some cronies at the Board have swindled these young Nigerians, including the dead ones for the job they never got. A Committee known as The Presidential Committee to assist in Immigration Recruitment was constituted on 26th March, 2014 by Jonathan. ]]>

By  Yusuf Ali

The Federal Government led by the former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, was shaken to its foundations. A rescue mission was embarked on, upon the realization that some cronies at the Board have swindled these young Nigerians, including the dead ones for the job they never got.   A Committee known as The Presidential Committee to assist in Immigration Recruitment was constituted on 26th March, 2014 by Jonathan.
The terms of reference of this Committee as signed by the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim includes; To liaise with the Board to confirm the actual number of personnel to be recruited;  to assist the Board by advertising the recruitment with a view to starting the process afresh; to assist the Board by processing the application, short listing of potential applicants and conducting necessary interviews for the purpose of the recruitment exercise; to assist the Board by following all relevant laws, Public Service Rules and guidelines to determine successful applicants and announce their appointment into the NIS; to ensure that three family members of each deceased applicant from the aborted exercise, at least one of whom should be a female are given immediate and automatic appointment and to ensure that all those injured are given immediate and automatic appointment in the NIS.
The Presidential Committee got into action and advertisement for job vacancies was placed in various media platforms. CGI Parradang was neither the chairman of the Committee nor the Secretary but just an ordinary member whose central concern was to make any useful contributions that would remove the NIS which he headed from public ridicule occasioned by the botched March 15, 2014 recruitment organized and supervised by the Board/Ministry.
The Committee deployed the Computer-Based Test (CBT) option for selection of candidates and this culminated in the enlistment of about 1600 recruits through a much better process than the botched March 15, 2014 recruitment exercise. All these were of junior rank of which the enabling laws of the land (PSR 020103) allow the Comptroller General as the head of the extra ministerial agency to recruit.  The current fight that led to the suspension of the CGI began when the Board called on him to cancel the entire recruitment exercise done by the presidential committee. He told them clearly that he has no such unilateral power to annul the outcome of an exercise of that magnitude because other members of the committee need to be consulted. The truth about the Board’s position is not unconnected with the fact that the exercise did not allow members of the Board to impose their candidates on the CGI to recruit thereby shortchanging qualified Nigerians.
The Board/Ministry felt that Parradang, did not carry them along in the exercise. This is not only strange but very illogical because there was no how the CGI would have nominated the representative of the Board to the Presidential Committee of which he was also a nominated member.
The sins of Parradang in the court of the Board/Ministry are not unconnected with his consistent calls for the adherence to proper procedures and practices in the relationship between the Board/Ministry and the NIS.
On 27th May, 2015, and towards the end of the last administration, the Board forwarded three different lists of 30 Specially Promoted Officers of the NIS. The CGI raised opposition to the lists pointing out that his inputs on any of the so- called specially promoted officers were not sought by the Board as required by the Board’s Guidelines on Special Promotion. In the accompanying letter, signed by AA Ibrahim, the CGI was directed to issue promotion letters to the eight affected junior personnel implying the Board’s belated recognition that the CGI was supposed to be carried along in the first place. The letter reads in parts thus; “in the exercise of your delegated responsibility, you are expected to conduct the production and issuance of the individual officers’ letters of promotion”
Under normal circumstance and in line with Service Rules and CDFIPB Guidelines, Promotion and Discipline of August 2012, which provides in paragraph ‘C’, of page 20, the CGI was supposed to send briefs on any officer who has demonstrated uncommon character, exceptional brilliance and conduct worthy of commendation and reward to the Board for special promotion. The Board neglected this requirement and merely forwarded lists of specially promoted officers they concocted to the CGI for release and publication to affected officers.
The position of Parradang on the special promotion has always been that when officers and men are unduly elevated far ahead of their mates and indeed superiors without proven evidence of competence or any justifiable reason (s), especially in a regimented environment, indiscipline, loss of morale and disaffection would set in and that may have terrible consequences both to the Service and the larger society. This position, especially his protest letter of 8th June 2015 to the Board on that matter, was seriously frowned at by the Board/Ministry making the genesis of the unfolding realities of today.
Again, on matters of staff posting order and deployment, the Board would always want to dictate for the CGI, who to deploy to where and how in a paramilitary agency under arms where due diligence and professionalism must be strictly followed in such matters. For instance, in a list of about 46 officers and men recently posted to Foreign Missions, 16, that is about 35% of them were allegedly the candidates of Comrade Abba Moro the former Minister/Chairman of the Board and almost the same percentage came from officials of the Board/Ministry.
The Board/Ministry overseeing the NIS as constituted today is nothing but a group of businessmen in Public Service whose ‘gods’ must be appeased before any Comptroller General of Immigration or personnel of NIS can get his/her legitimate privileges.
You must bribe your ways to get promoted as a senior officer and you must be highly connected to somebody in the Board to be posted to any “juicy” formations in the NIS. These among others are the evils that Parradang fought gallantly against the Board. Unfortunately, with their half-truths, the Board was able to mislead the Presidency to secure Parradang’s suspension. The truth about the rot in NIS is that it has nothing to do with Parradang as an individual but the NIS as a critical stakeholder in the security architecture of the country.
Concluded
•Ali writes from Abuja

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Repositioning power as a Buhari agenda http://sunnewsonline.com/new/repositioning-power-as-a-buhari-agenda/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/repositioning-power-as-a-buhari-agenda/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 23:28:09 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=132756 By Ikeogu Oke IN two recent newspaper publications, two prominent Nigerians revealed their awareness of President Muhammadu Buhari’s intimate con­cern for the power sector. The first was Dele Momodu. In his column on the back page of This Day of July 18, 2015, entitled “An Afternoon with President Buhari”, he said: “The President confided in [...]]]>

By Ikeogu Oke

IN two recent newspaper publications, two prominent Nigerians revealed their awareness of President Muhammadu Buhari’s intimate con­cern for the power sector.

The first was Dele Momodu. In his column on the back page of This Day of July 18, 2015, entitled “An Afternoon with President Buhari”, he said: “The President confided in me that his three biggest worries are insecurity, corruption and power.”

The second was Femi Adesina, President Bu­hari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity. In his interview published on pages 13 and 14 of Saturday Vanguard of August 1, 2015, entitled “Anti-corruption: Buhari’s First Suspect Won’t Find It Funny”, he reportedly said: “One day I was talking with the President. If you hear what he expressed about power. He said, ‘Ah, if this government can fix power, it will touch every aspect of the lives of Nigerians. It will touch the artisans, touch everybody, touch industries ev­erywhere.’”

I think every Nigerian should be gratified that, like some of his predecessors, President Buhari is particularly desirous of making power work for the Nigerian people, in addition to fighting insecurity and corruption. Also, two of his pre­decessors deserve credit for brining power to the fore of the nation’s consciousness and sustaining it there during their tenures.

The administration of former President Oluse­gun Obasanjo, for instance, saw to the emergence of the landmark Electricity Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act 2005, which gave legal backing to the power sector reform whose proper imple­mentation should reposition the power sector for efficiency and profitability. His administration also established the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), comprised of ten new gas-pow­ered plants cited around the country with a total generating capacity of 4,775 megawatts.

The NIPP plants (with their corresponding generating capacities) are cited at the following locations: Calabar (561 megawatts), Egbema (338 megawatts), Ihovbor (451 megawatts), Gbara­in (225 megawatts), Sapele (451 megawatts), Omoku (225 megawatts), Alaoji (961 mega­watts), Olorunsogo (676 megawatts), Omotosho (225 megawatts), and Geregu (434 megawatts). Authoritative records show that those NIPP plants that have not been commissioned have, on the average, passed the 80 per cent completion stage. But those that have been commissioned hardly generate at full capacity.

In seeming continuation of the drive of the Obasanjo administration to develop the power sector in implementation of the EPSR Act 2005, the administration of former President Good­luck Jonathan launched the Roadmap for Power Sector Reform, which articulated a framework for fast-tracking the power sector reform and ensured that power remained perhaps the most talked about developmental issue under the ad­ministration.

The Jonathan administration also implement­ed the privatisation of the power sector reform as provided by the EPSR Act 2005, leading to a paradigm shift in the business and developmen­tal model of the power sector through a process the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Transformation, Dr. Robert Ichord, descried as “the most comprehensive and most transparent transaction in recent history,” judging by his “over thirty years’ experience in privatisation.”

In all, it is a positive sign that President Buhari wishes to fix power so as to “touch every aspect of the lives of Nigerians” as revealed by Mr. Ad­esina, that he would rather not allow the torch of the desire to provide reliable power to Nigerians to stop burning in his grip.

However, there is a general criticism that, de­spite the effort of past administrations, the result in terms of generated power, which stood at 3,155 megawatts on May 29, 2015, when former Presi­dent Jonathan handed over to President Buhari, does not justify the “huge” investments in power since President Obasanjo’s administration. And though this criticism is hardly backed by reliable analyses of the cost of developing the power sec­tor from period and so may or may not be justi­fied, it prompts a pertinent question as to what President Buhari can do differently to achieve better results especially in terms of power gen­eration as the fundament of power availability.

The Nigerian power situation, to drive it home to the layman, can be compared to calling a feast and realising that the number of invited guests far outstrips the amount of food available. So the solution is to make provision for more food (com­parable to generating more power) and ensuring its conveyance (comparable to the transmis­sion and distribution of generated power) to the guests. This will forestall cases of disappointed guests leaving without food or the chaos of some quests scrambling for the inadequate food (com­parable to the many desperate measures Nigeri­ans take in response to the country’s inadequate power supply).

In response to the question of what President Buhari can do to achieve better results in power, I have the following suggestion.

He should focus government’s effort in the power sector on bringing all the NIPP plants’ 4,775 megawatts generation capacity on stream. This will raise the country’s generated power to about 9,000 megawatts or more than double the current value. And this can be achieved by completing the average of 20 per cent remain­ing work on the yet-to-be-commissioned NIPP plants and ensuring that those already commis­sioned generate at full capacity.

Indeed, gas remains an issue in the sustain­ability of the NIPP plants in service. But Nige­ria’s problems with utilising its huge gas reserves to generate its own power strikes me as compara­ble to someone having a nose and still looking for a means of sneezing. Absurd does not adequately describe the situation. My people of Ohafia, in southeastern Nigeria, have a saying I believe has equivalents in other Nigeria languages/dialects: “Ife kpa gi, ga akpa ife gi.” (“If a need grabs you, you grab what belongs to you.”) Nigeria should “grab” its gas to solve its power problems, while focussing primarily on its interests and those of its citizens as I believe any serious nation would do in a similar situation.

Focussing on making all the NIPP plants fully operational would entail prioritising in a way that repositions power as a Buhari agenda without necessarily jettisoning the holistic development of the power sector. Such prioritising is neces­sary in the light of present economic realities, as the paucity of funds due to dwindling oil revenue could force a reduction of government spending on the development of the power sector.

Besides, the NIPP plants, being so near com­pletion, are what the former Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji, rightly described as “low-hang­ing fruits.”

The Buhari administration can, with far less effort than it may need to complete new power projects, pluck and secure these fruits in the country’s power generation basket, as it were, and more than double the current value of its gen­erated power with astonishing improvements in the economy and living standards of its people.

. Oke, a former staff of National Elec­tric Power Authority (NEPA) writes via ike­ogu.oke@gmail.com

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