The Sun News http://sunnewsonline.com/new - Voice of The Nation Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:33:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.6 Remembering Gentleman E.C Arinze, the music maestro http://sunnewsonline.com/new/remembering-gentleman-e-c-arinze-the-music-maestro/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/remembering-gentleman-e-c-arinze-the-music-maestro/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:33:04 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129383 I was a precocious and rascally schoolboy at King’s College, Lagos in the late 1950s and early 1960s when I first encountered the late E.C Arinze, the music maestro whose glittering performances at Kakadu nightclub (located close to Alagomeji bus stop on Herbert Macaulay Road, Yaba) was a must for music lovers in the Lagos of those days.]]>

BY OLA BALOGUN

I was a precocious and rascally schoolboy at King’s College, Lagos in the late 1950s and early 1960s when I first encountered the late E.C Arinze, the music maestro whose glittering performances at Kakadu nightclub (located close to Alagomeji bus stop on Herbert Macaulay Road, Yaba) was a must for music lovers in the Lagos of those days.

At that time, along with my twin brother and alter ego, Tayo Gibson-Roberts, I was one of the leaders of a ring of ‘bad boys’ who specialized in scaling the King’s College walls at night during the weekends to roam about Lagos in search of live music performances. Over time, our adventurous explorations allowed us to witness at first hand what was perhaps Nigeria’s greatest era of live music performances.

Since we were perennially short of funds, we usually walked long distances to and from the mainland after sneaking out of the King’s College premises, chatting and laughing happily all the way as we wandered from one night spot to the other in quest of the holy grail of musical nirvana.

In the course of those exciting years, our peregrinations took us to a variety of music spots, which ranged from Kakadu nightclub to Ambassador Hotel (located a few hundred yards up the road from Kakadu), which was home to Chief Bill Friday and his band (featuring our idol, Joe Mensah as vocalist) as well as to Gondola night club close by, which was located within the premises of Niger Palace Hotel, which was situated close to Ambassador.

Unfortunately, Gondola nightclub was strictly off limits to rascally urchins like us at the time. However, it was a few years later that I first heard Fela Ransome-Kuti (as he was then known) perform at the bar of the Niger Palace Hotel, when I returned briefly to Nigeria on holidays from overseas study towards 1964 or 1965.

Obviously, I was instantly mesmerized by Fela’s music from the first moment I heard him play. (Fela was a trumpet player at the time, and his idiom was jazz). Interestingly enough, Fela’s music was hugely unpopular with the general crowd of music fans in the Lagos of those days. The great majority of Nigerians were (and remain!) deeply allergic to jazz, so it was quite amusing to watch most of the audience hissing in disgust and heading hastily for the exit each time Fela mounted the stage to perform.

Other music spots that our ring of ‘bad boys’ favoured in our years of hungry quest for good music included Lido nightclub and Empire Hotel (both located close to what later became Fela’s home at Idi Oro, which subsequently came to be known as Kalakuta Republic). Ironically enough, Fela was later to take over the Empire Hotel nightclub at the height of his popularity in the early 1970s, when it became known as the Africa Shrine, in succession to the original Africa Shrine, which was located off Akerele Street in Surulere.

Another of our favourite night spots was what was then known as Papingo Davalaya, where the ‘wicked’ highlife king, Victor Olaiya used to hold sway, and where Fela was occasionally permitted to perform as a guest vocalist, although he was strictly restricted to performing highlife tunes. (Papingo Davalaya, located in the vicinity of the National Stadium was later to become known by the more prosaic name of Stadium Hotel). And of course, the Mecca of all music lovers in those days was Caban Bamboo (also known as Hotel Bobby) on Ikorodu Road, where the greatest of them all, King Bobby Benson, the incomparable showman, wonderful dancer and fabulous musician reigned in high pomp and glory over the entire city of Lagos by night.

Where does Gentleman E.C Arinze (as he was known at the time to some of us because of his refined and courtly manners) fit into this panorama of live music performances in the Lagos of the early 1960s? To begin with, it is perhaps necessary to recall that the band leaders of that era were hugely successful and highly respected men who lived in big houses and drove flashy American limousines. Music was a highly respected profession at the time!

In terms of the social pecking order, bandleaders featured high up on the scale, alongside primary school headmasters, postmasters and railway stationmasters. In addition, the fact that they ranked somewhat beneath lawyers, magistrates, politicians, surveyors and doctors in terms of prestige and wealth did not make them any the less influential in the Nigerian society of those days, since they invariably set fashion trends and coined new phrases and expressions that were subsequently adopted by the entire society.

So, E.C Arinze, like his peers, Chief Bill Friday, Roy Chicago, Victor Olaiya, Charlie Uwegbue, Baby Face Paul, and Eddie Okonta was a powerful and influential man in his time! However, E.C Arinze was never a flamboyant person, even though he was one of the best-liked and most respected musicians in the Lagos of that era. He tended to be cool and unflappable, rather in the manner of the inscrutable trumpet maestro, Miles Davies or the immortal emperor of big band jazz music, Duke Ellington.

I remember that whenever it was time for E.C Arinze to mount the stage, he would stride forward calmly, after producing a white handkerchief from one of his pockets (no doubt in imitation of his hero, Louis Armstrong, who was idolized by musicians and crowds alike all across West Africa at the time), wipe his trumpet briefly, and then launch into a melodious succession of highlife tunes, backed up by a highly disciplined band, which occasionally included Victor Uwaifo on tenor guitar. (Uwaifo belonged at this time to a parallel set of ‘bad boys’ who used to sneak out of St. Gregory’s College to enjoy and participate in live music performances all across Lagos).

I cannot absolutely vouch for the veracity of my affirmation, but if my memory serves me correctly, other St. Gregory’s College’s rebels and non-conformists whom we frequently crossed paths with in various night spots during our music-oriented night time peregrinations included my dear brother, Yinka Alakija and my equally dear friend and contemporary, George Amu (now a Bishop), who has since metamorphosed into a religious leader, no doubt in atonement for his youthful sins and indiscretions.

Interestingly enough, the E.C Arinze we knew and loved in those days was a remarkably poised individual, who played a wide range of music with remarkable aplomb, ranging from what was then known as ballroom music (i.e. foxtrot, waltz, tango etc) to jazz, cha cha cha, rhumba, and highlife. May he commune in glory in the other world for the rest of eternity in the scintillating company of Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Franco, Baby Face Paul, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lionel Hampton, Chief Bill Friday, Lee Morgan, Lionel Hampton, Miriam Makeba, E.T Mensah, Fatai Rolling Dollar, Julius Araba, I.K Dairo, Stephen Osita Osadebe, and the marvellous host of other heroes and heroines of contemporary black musical creativity!

 

-Dr. Ola Balogun, a filmmaker, author and musician, currently resides in Cotonou, Benin Republic.

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Massive boost for Nigerian culture, tourism at Okota Festival http://sunnewsonline.com/new/massive-boost-for-nigerian-culture-tourism-at-okota-festival/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/massive-boost-for-nigerian-culture-tourism-at-okota-festival/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:30:55 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129380 Nigeria needs to explore extra and alternative revenue resources in the face of negative twists and turns in its economic fortune, which informed why Olokun Festival Foundation has continued to invest in tourism development through the indigenous cultural festivals.]]>

By DAMIETE BRAIDE

Nigeria needs to explore extra and alternative revenue resources in the face of negative twists and turns in its economic fortune, which informed why Olokun Festival Foundation has continued to invest in tourism development through the indigenous cultural festivals.

National Coordinator of the foundation, Otunba Gani Adams, made this known at the just concluded Okota Festival, which held at the Palace Square Arigidi-Akoko, Ondo State.

Gani Adams recalled that his organisations’ commitment to the annual celebration of this festival was informed by the numerous benefits derived from its presence in Arigidi-Akoko.

“It should be understood that the strategic location of the river is a boost to the agricultural production of the people and the development of the tourism and economic sustenance of the people. The Festival has drawn people far and near to the river. Along with the presence of the crowd, this celebration has drawn in the brisk business they are doing,” he said.

In addition, he said the “celebration represents our people’s way of giving thanks for its benevolence, seeking forgiveness for our sins in the past years and praying for favour and blessings from the goddess.” He added that Olokun Festival Foundation’s investment in organising Okota Festival annually was also an opportunity for the town to showcase the event as an important tourist attraction to the world, one of the ways the Olokun Festival Foundation has continued to contribute to the individual and government’s economic benefits to the country.

“Likewise, the pilgrimage by Christians from different parts of the world to Israel is a huge economic platform for the empowerment of her people. It continues to contribute and boost the country’s revenue base and her Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he added.

Dr. Boluwaji Oshodi, a lecturer at the department of Linguistics & Languages, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Ondo State, in his lecture entitled “Showcasing Tradition and Preserving Inheritance through Cultural Awareness”, observed that traditions help the people to remember and appreciate their ancestors, adding, “It helps to maintain a cultural link and ultimately preserve their inheritance through such cultural activities and awareness.”

According to the guest lecturer, culture is not static: “It evolves over time from the values and norms embraced by a society that are formed because of the political and economic philosophy, social structure, religion, language and education influences to which the society is exposed,
while tradition can also refer to beliefs and customs that are pre-historic, with lost or arcane origins, existing from time immemorial.” Originally, he said, traditions were passed orally, without the need for a writing system.

He further lectured the audience that “festivals are elements that are enshrined in the African concept of cultural activities in which experiences of the participants could also be shared through acrobatics, puppetry, myths, rituals, legends, initiation ceremonies, festive dances and celebrations, masquerades, circus drama of carnival, ancestral worship, etc.”

Festivals, he affirmed, were celebrated in memory of some powerful and historical figures in a particular community, who had achieved and fought for that community and made history, citing the examples of Monremi Festival in Ile-Ife, Aiyeala of Ilaje, Osun in Osogbo, among others.

No matter how far a group of people moves away from their ancestral place of origin, once they retain their culture, they tend to retain their language, he echoed.

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Ibrahim Muku moves to transform Nigerian art http://sunnewsonline.com/new/ibrahim-muku-moves-to-transform-nigerian-art/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/ibrahim-muku-moves-to-transform-nigerian-art/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:28:39 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129377 Change is not limited to politics. Artists are the masters of change, for everyday lends itself to different opportunities to explore. The Director-General, National Gallery of Art (NGA), Abdullahi Muku, is]]>

BY HENRY AKUBUIRO

Change is not limited to politics. Artists are the masters of change, for everyday lends itself to different opportunities to explore. The Director-General, National Gallery of Art (NGA), Abdullahi Muku, is redoubling efforts to take Nigerian art to the next level wide-ranging innovations.

At a recent interactive session with art editors and correspondents at the Aina Onabolu building, National Theatre, Lagos, the NGA boss said among his plans in this regard was hosting the Abuja Biennal in 2017 for its economic benefit to Nigeria and artists in the country, too.

For 14 days, during the forthcoming biennal, renowned artists from Nigeria, Africa, the Diaspora and the world would gather in Abuja to showcase the best of the best of the their works with art collectors, art dealers and art lovers buying these works.

Having participated in the Dakar Biennale almost from inception, Muku discovered that its Senegalese counterpart had been making good money from organising the event compared to incurred expenses. “We are hoping to do the same by getting the private sector fully involved and other key stakeholders,” he said.

The D-G was optimistic that the “Abuja Biennial is an art market that will bring together artists, art and culture administrators, art collectors/connoisseurs, political leaders and administrators, tourists and tourism practitioners. It is so named to identify with the world standard as every biennial is named after its host city. Abuja, being the capital city of Nigeria, he said it was chosen for its economic vantage position, hence keying into Mr. President’s vision of diversifying the economy.

The event, he said, would not only provide opportunities for artists to sell their works but enable them to network. “This programme is also expected to provide job opportunities for the youth and boost the tourism industry,” he added.

Besides, the National Gallery of Arts Director-General has reiterated his commitment to the Art Embellishment and Artist Royalty Act, a dream NGA was hoping to realise with the present 8th Assembly. The Act if enacted, he remarked, would make it mandatory for every public building, as well as bridges in Nigeria, to have some kind of embellishment, especially artworks with a percentage of the construction cost set aside for this purpose.

The actualisation of this plan, he expected, would make artists not to lack. Aside making the pool of money set aside available to the artists to access through the sale of their works, he said it would also make them sit up and bring out the best in them.

“With the Artist Royalty entrenched in the Act,  if an artist sells his work to somebody and that person resells it, a percentage of it will go to the artist or his/her family. This is a residual income that will benefit artists just like royalty that performing artists enjoy for the playing of their musical works in any medium,” he noted, upbeat.

As part of its innovations in terms of its programmes and activities aimed at promoting and propagating the visual arts sub-sector, he said the National Gallery of Arts had been focusing on a number of programmes, including the Nupe Art Conference/Exhibition, which took place in the ancient city of Bida, Niger State, interrogating the place of Nupe Art in Nigeria.

The event, which had, in attendance, traditional artists from the nooks and crannies of the old Nupe kingdom, who displayed different works, ranging from paintings, sculptures and textiles, had a lecture “Nupe Arts: A Renaissance” presented by Dr. Ndagi Abdullahi, Secretary, Nupe Culture & Resource Centre, Bida, in which he asserted that the ancient Nupe people were not just the masters of arts, but were, by and large, the originators of the arts of ancient Nigeria.

He also mentioned Art of Friendship programme initiated in 2012 as a platform for Nigerian artists to cross-fertilize ideas with their counterparts from other nations through their embassies in Nigeria. The second edition took place last year with Nigeria and four other countries –Republic of Czech, France, Italy and South Korea. The exhibition, which took place at the FCT Archives and History Bureau, Abuja, he informed, witnessed an impressive crowd and 40 works of art on display, comprising paintings, mix-media, drawing, sculpture and printmaking.

In the same vein, the maiden NGA Children Funfair took place last year at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, tagged, “Rainbow Art Children Art Expression,”  with the theme, “Unlocking Creativity-Christmas through the Eyes of the Child”, geared towards stimulating values, identifying talents, motivating parents to love art and encouraging young ones to choose art as a career.

The Fair featured six segments: Art Competition, Folktale, Face Painting, Hat/Bead Making, Head Tying and Cartoon Characters. Each category has specific tasks for the children to bring out their innate talents.

Another programme of the NGA, the Art Fair, was inaugurated in 2013 as a deliberate move to encourage professional artists in its employ to produce works for public exhibitions thereby sharpening their skills and developing bodies of works just like their peers in studio practice. The first edition took place in Kaduna, while the second edition was held in Enugu and Kaduna respectively.

He equally mentioned the hosting of the National Visual Arts Competition, which the 5th edition took place at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre, featuring works in the primary, secondary, tertiary and professional categories. “The exhibited works showed great promise from the budding artists. The winners were rewarded with cash prizes as incentive to do more and a motivation for others to strive for excellence,” he added.

Other standard programmes of the National Visual Arts Symposium and the Distinguished Lecture Series could not hold last year due, he regretted, due to logistic reasons, praying that they would hold this year.

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ACF blasts Adebayo, Afenifere chieftain, over confab comments http://sunnewsonline.com/new/acf-blasts-adebayo-afenifere-chieftain-over-confab-comments/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/acf-blasts-adebayo-afenifere-chieftain-over-confab-comments/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:25:41 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129375 Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday lambasted elder statesman and a chieftain of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, over his comments on 2014 National Conference, where he allegedly painted northern position on the event in bad faith.]]>

From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday lambasted elder statesman and a chieftain of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, over his comments on 2014 National Conference, where he allegedly painted northern position on the event in bad faith.

ACF was reacting to an interview Chief Adebanjo granted Sunday Sun last week and captioned, “Northern interest won’t let Buhari implement confab report”.

He said: “My own view and the view of Afenifere is that a northerner will not be so disposed to changing the Constitution because they are the beneficiary of what we are complaining about. Let them disprove that. About 500 distinguished Nigerians recommended a new Constitution unanimously and nobody has come out to say what we did there was wrong”.

However, a statement issued yesterday by the ACF National Publicity Secretary, Muhammad Ibrahim, urged the elder statesman to redirect his energy and wisdom in uniting the country rather than saying things that will divide the nation.

“ACF feels embarrassed and disappointed with such unguarded statements from an elder statesmen of Chief Adebanjo standing, who chooses to make generalized statement on the basis of region or faith rather than on specific national issues.

“ACF therefore, appeals to our elder statesmen irrespective of where they come from, to look at issues from a wider national perspective that will promote unity and cohesion rather than on sectional or religious considerations. Elder statesmen are not only reservoir of wisdom and experience, but also exhibit leadership quality and show decorum in their utterances and actions. President Muhammadu Buhari needs the support and co-operation of all Nigerians especially our elders irrespective of political and other considerations to move the country forward and deliver his campaign promises to Nigerians.

“It is not in our character and training in ACF to openly attack or fault statements of an elder statesman of Chief Adebanjo’s status on national issues. However, we are constrained to disagree with his statement quoted above and also considered it necessary and appropriate to put the issues he raised in their correct perspective for Nigerians to know the other side.

“The 2014 National Conference was convened by former President Goodluck Jonathan on March 17, 2014 as a platform for dialogue as a result of agitations by various interest groups. It also discussed issues and problems that appear to inhibit national progress or challenge national cohesion. It also proffered appropriate solutions that would assist in moving the nation forward.

“However, the selection process of delegates by President Jonathan’s government to the confab made the North that has a population of 75,268,686 people (NPC 2006) with a land mass of 730,885 square km (80%) as a minority with 189 delegates while the South with a population 65,151,458 people (NPC 2006) with a land mass of 193,438 square km (20%) as a majority with 303 delegates. Despite this glaring injustice and disadvantage, the North, as a region did not only participate in the overall national interest of Nigeria but also stabilized the conference on crucial issues of national unity.

“On the elder statesman’s claim that “nobody has come out to say what we did was wrong” we need to refresh his memory, that it is on record the Northern delegates at the confab raised serious objections to some of recommendations especially the issue of a new 2014 constitution which was never discussed during the conference plenary sessions, this forced the confab management to drop the idea.

“Many other groups also objected to the recommendation on the creation of 18 additional states, dissolution of local government councils as third tier of government, resource control and revenue sharing formula etc. ACF therefore considers it absurd and strange for Chief Adebanjo to say that the 2014 Confab recommended a new constitution and that it was never challenged.

“ACF considers this unfair and uncharitable to the North. Furthermore, what are the benefits the North as a region is enjoying as claimed by Chief Adebanjo to the detriment of the South? ACF considers such statement sarcastic and in bad taste, knowing fully well the security challenges in the North and its devastative effect on our people and the region’s socioeconomic activities in last six years,” the statement said.

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5 senators sue Saraki, Ekweremadu http://sunnewsonline.com/new/5-senators-sue-saraki-ekweremadu/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/5-senators-sue-saraki-ekweremadu/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:24:25 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129373 Five All Progressives Congress [APC] Senators, Abu Ibrahim, Kabiru Marafa, Ajayi Boroffice, Gbenga Ashafa, and Suleiman Othman Hunyuki, have approached a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to ]]>

From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

Five All Progressives Congress [APC] Senators, Abu Ibrahim, Kabiru Marafa, Ajayi Boroffice, Gbenga Ashafa, and Suleiman Othman Hunyuki, have approached a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to challenge the election of the SenatePresident, Abubakar Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.

In an originating summons filed by their legal team headed by Mamman Mike Osuman and Dele Adesina, both SANs, the aggrieved Senators urged the court to declare their election a nullity as it violates section 60 of the 1999 Constitution [as amended]and rule 110 of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 [as amended].

They argued that the Senate Standing Orders 2015 upon which Saraki and Ikweremadu were elected, is a product of invalid, illegal, unconstitutional and want them to be set aside.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole has fixed August 5, for hearing.

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Fresh crisis hits Anambra PDP as faction declares congress nullity http://sunnewsonline.com/new/fresh-crisis-hits-anambra-pdp-as-faction-declares-congress-nullity/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/fresh-crisis-hits-anambra-pdp-as-faction-declares-congress-nullity/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:22:30 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129371 Barely six days after its state congress, a fresh crisis has hit Anambra State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a faction of the party loyal to Chief Chris Uba has declared the congress a nullity.]]>

From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka

Barely six days after its state congress, a fresh crisis has hit Anambra State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a faction of the party loyal to Chief Chris Uba has declared the congress a nullity.

The PDP in the state had last Saturday concluded the congresses of the party with a peaceful state congress that produced 27-member executive committee, led by Prince Ken Emeakayi as chairman.

But yesterday, the Chief Ejike Oguebego-led faction faulted the congress, stating that it was not supposed to have held in the first place, saying there was a subsisting court order that recognised Oguebego as the state chairman of the party.

Speaking to newsmen, Oguebego stressed that not only was there a subsisting court order, the matter was still pending at the Supreme Court and that the congress was an affront on the court.

He noted that a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, had in 2013, declared that the status quo be maintained pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter, arguing that going by that order of the court, his tenure would end on March 17, 2016.

Oguebgo also cited a copy of a letter written by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) dated October 23, 2014 and signed by one Musa Adamu for the secretary to the Commission, in which INEC recognized him (Oguebego) and his executive as officials of the party in the state.

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I’ll shock my critics with verifiable projects –Okowa http://sunnewsonline.com/new/ill-shock-my-critics-with-verifiable-projects-okowa/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/ill-shock-my-critics-with-verifiable-projects-okowa/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:21:23 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129369 Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, yesterday in Asaba vowed to shock critics of his administration with quality and verifiable projects across the three senatorial districts of the state.]]>

From Paul Osuyi, Asaba

Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, yesterday in Asaba vowed to shock critics of his administration with quality and verifiable projects across the three senatorial districts of the state.

The governor, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said his administration would not waste time and scarce resources in reacting to those he described as mischief-makers whom he said were misleading the public with false information.

“Even when government welcomes constructive criticisms from right thinking members of the society, Okowa’s administration will not be cowed neither will it give in to cheap blackmail from few persons, hiding under a cover of protectors of public interest to falsify information, to mislead unsuspecting members of the public and unleash venomous vituperation on the good intentions of government,” he said.

Aniagwu told journalists that within two months of the administration, the government had started impacting positively on the lives of the people through various initiatives, including the approval for the dualization of Nnebisi Road and the construction of a modern market at Orerokpe.

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Fayose warns transporters on kidnapping http://sunnewsonline.com/new/fayose-warns-transporters-on-kidnapping/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/fayose-warns-transporters-on-kidnapping/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:19:23 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129367 The Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, yesterday warned members of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RETEAN) against allowing themselves to be used by kidnappers to perpetrate evil.]]>

From Wole Balogun, Ado Ekiti

The Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, yesterday warned members of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RETEAN) against allowing themselves to be used by kidnappers to perpetrate evil.

Speaking during the swearing-in ceremony of the new State Executive of the union in Ado Ekiti, Fayose said available information revealed that commercial transporters were being used by kidnappers to abduct innocent people with the intention of collecting ransom from them.

Fayose also warned against reckless driving, which he said was causing unwarranted killing of innocent Nigerians, saying whoever is found indulging in such practice will be dealt with.

He said: “Please, I want to commend you for contributing immensely to the development of the state’s economy, but don’t allow yourselves to be used by evil doers. You can see that some kidnappers were paraded recently.”

Information from them revealed that they have been

using some of your members.

“I was once a driver like you. I used the money I got from driving to sponsor myself for HND at Ibadan Polytechnic, but I did not get desperate. You will become what you want to become in life with hard work. Don’t join evil gang for you to get rich overnight, try and rise through the ladder like we did”.

Warning against reckless driving, the governor pointed out that:

“There are rules guiding driving and the most cogent of them is that if you drink, don’t drive. Try to comply with these rules. Though I am part of you, but if you breach the law, I won’t save or spare you. You will be arrested and prosecuted by the security agents”, he said.

He promised that his government will continue to promote drivers’ unions in the State and create an enabling environment for them to practice their trade.

Fayose, who had earlier spoken at the 2015 Annual Conference of the

Institute of Strategic Management, appealed to leaders to focus

attention on how to banish poverty, which he noted is killing the potentials of many Nigerians.

Speaking on the theme: ‘Strategies for Poverty Alleviation’, Fayose

said his desperate bid to banish poverty in the land had propelled him

to pioneer the stomach infrastructure concept that has become a brand

in the country.

“In tackling poverty, the first thing to do is to empower the people.

But before empowerment, you must make them look healthy through

provision of food. Let them get access to you as a leader, this will

give them sense of belonging and relief.

“Some of the projects being executed by MDGs are centred on poverty

alleviation. Poverty has become a serious issue in Nigeria. That was

why my government made the payment of salaries the first thing,

because this will keep the people and the economy going.

“I receive close to 200 to 300 calls and messages daily on the stomach

infrastructure thing. Though, 90 percent of it is about money, but we

should not shy away from the fact that the concept has become a way of life in Nigeria as a good weapon to tackle poverty among the common people”.

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Flood destroys 78 houses, others in Bauchi http://sunnewsonline.com/new/flood-destroys-78-houses-others-in-bauchi/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/flood-destroys-78-houses-others-in-bauchi/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:17:49 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129365 No fewer than 78 houses, a filling station and a mosque have been destroyed, while hundreds of people have been rendered homeless, following heavy flood in Misau Local Government Area of Bauchi State.]]>

From Paul Orude, Bauchi

No fewer than 78 houses, a filling station and a mosque have been destroyed, while hundreds of people have been rendered homeless, following heavy flood in Misau Local Government Area of Bauchi State.

Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, yesterday promptly visited the scene to sympathise with the victims.

Abubakar directed the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to quickly move to the affected area to assess the level of damage and ensure that adequate care was promptly given to the victims.

“I have seen the level of damage. It is quite sad. We will ensure that relief  materials get to the victims as soon as possible.

“We will quickly ensure that contractors will start working on construction before paper work is carried out to avert future occurrence,” the governor said.

The Permanent Secretary of SEMA, Mohammed Garba, while giving an account of what happened, told newsmen in his office yesterday that the flood occurred as a result of heavy downpour.

Garba who said that no life was lost, explained that, “It happened in a street after Misau near Hardawa because of the  heavy inflow of water into a stream in the area.

“The heavy flow of water washed away two culverts causing the water to destroy most of the houses which were built near the water ways”

He said as soon as information reached them from the Nigerian Red Cross, Giade, SEMA quickly mobilised its men to the field to assess the level of damage with a view to sending relief materials to the victims.

The Permanent Secretary said that a situation report which would soon be submitted to the Secretary to the State Government had already been prepared.

“We have informed the NEMA Operations Office in Gombe and the

Operation Officer will soon visit the area to make assessment and

assured that relief materials would soon get to the victims”

On preventing a re-occurrence, Garba said that the flood was

recurrent because of the topography of the area.

Garba said that people in the area need to be relocated as they face

the risk of experiencing similar incidence due to poor soil.

He said in the meantime the agency had recommended to the government to redirect contractors to work on the Misau-Hardawa area to prevent the road from being cut off and other areas from being affected by flood in the future.

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Dogara, Gbajabiamila, others announce end to APC Reps crisis http://sunnewsonline.com/new/dogara-gbajabiamila-others-announce-end-to-apc-reps-crisis/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/dogara-gbajabiamila-others-announce-end-to-apc-reps-crisis/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:16:41 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129363 The All Progressives Congress (APC) in the House of Representatives yesterday apologized for members’ public disagreements announcing that it is now united.]]>

…Speaker: We will compensate South-East adequately 

From Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in the House of Representatives yesterday apologized for members’ public disagreements announcing that it is now united.

Rising from a meeting, the first since inauguration of the House on June 9, Speaker, Yakubu Dogara said the House was now ready to work for Nigeria.

The APC House caucus has been in the throes of crisis over principal offices. The disagreement was resolved last Tuesday with the Speaker backtracking and accepting to name Femi Gbajabiamila as the Majority Leader.

Speaking at the end of the APC Caucus meeting, which ended at about 12.15am, yesterday, Dogara announced:  “there are no more factions in the House what we have today is a group of lawmakers loyal to the House leadership and our great party”.

“It is only in unity that we can positively contribute to the change  we all worked for and move Nigeria forward towards our desired dream of a greater nation”.

On why the South East was not represented in the new leadership configuration, Dogara said: “we are already working on that to see how the zone will be adequately compensated”.

Towing the same line, Gbajabiamila, who represents Surulere Federal Constituency, Lagos said: «There are no longer factions in the House, whatever happened earlier is now behind us and we are ready to serve Nigerians to the best of our ability.»

On the marginalisation of the South East in the new leadership structure, Gbajabiamila said”it is not right to play the ethnicity or regional card for now but they will be adequately compensated”.

Adding his voice to the call for unity among members, Abiodun Faleke, APC, Ikeja Federal Constituency, Lagos, said”we are no longer fighting as you can see, we are now ready to work with other legislators and move our dear country forward”.

Similarly, Abdulmunin Jibrin, APC, Kano said: “This meeting has healed all wounds there is nobody here that is nursing any anger or ill-feelings any longer”.

Meanwhile the House has urged the Federal Government and states in the North East to construct temporary camps and schools for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). It advised the states to reopen regular schools formally when security agencies confirm that it is safe to do so.

In a motion entitled “Urgent Need for the Government to Relocate Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Schools in Borno State to Enable Schools Reopen” raised by Asabe Bashir noted that the Boko Haram Insurgency which has been ongoing since 2009 had at its peak led to the over running of 20 out of the 27 local governments in Borno State, killing thousand and displacing many.”

“The government of Borno State had to resettle the internally displaced persons in schools, Hajj and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) camps, an action that led to the closure of schools for over one year now, leaving the students to be idling away and exposed to social vices, “Bashir said.

She explained that there is the need for the Federal Government to assist the government of Borno State in rebuilding and rehabilitating the schools that were destroyed to enable them reopen.

While commending the efforts of Borno State Government, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Red Cross, individuals and charitable organisations, the law maker further urged NEMA and other relevant agencies to provide well equipped mobile clinics that would give prompt medical attention to victims of bomb blasts.

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Fire, generator fumes kill 5 in Bayelsa http://sunnewsonline.com/new/fire-generator-fumes-kill-5-in-bayelsa/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/fire-generator-fumes-kill-5-in-bayelsa/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:14:42 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129361 No fewer than five people have died in two separate fire incidents that occurred in two communities in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. ]]>

From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

No fewer than five people have died in two separate fire incidents that occurred in two communities in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

In one of the incidents in Otuoke, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s community, two girls of the same parents, were said to have died from a fire incident caused by mosquito coil.

The two children were identified as Juliet Agamawa and Favour Agamawa, aged seven and six years respectively.

According to the State Police Command spokesman, Anisim Butswat, the father of the two deceased, Mr. Ase Agamawa, reported the incident at the police station in Otuoke.

He stated that the bodies of the two children had been deposited at the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) for autopsy, while investigation had commenced. In the second incident, a family of three died in their house at Emeyal community, after inhaling carbon monoxide from a generator that was kept inside their room.

The police suspected that the family of 39-year-old  Ibieneye Tubotamuno, a student of Political Science at the Federal University, Otuoke, must have died days before their bodies were discovered yesterday.

“His body and that of his wife, Jennifer Asiagbuladia, as well as their son, Goodluck, had swollen when they were discovered,” he said.

The Police Public Relations Officer explained that neighbours, who suspected something was amiss, when a foul smell started oozing out of their house, had contacted the police and when the door was forcibly opened, the three lifeless bodies were found.

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Army redeploys senior officers http://sunnewsonline.com/new/army-redeploys-senior-officers/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/army-redeploys-senior-officers/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:12:52 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129359 Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Buratai, has approved the postings and appointments of 334 officers with various effective dates. ]]>

Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Buratai, has approved the postings and appointments of 334 officers with various effective dates.

Among them are Principal Staff Officers at the Defence and Army Headquarters, Corps Commanders and General Officers Commanding as well as other commanders.                                                                                                                              According to a statement signed by Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, acting Director, Army Public Relations, they include 37 major generals, 57 brigadier generals, 128 colonels and lieutenant colonels.

Some of those affected are the General Officers Commanding (GOC) 1, 2, 3, 81 and 82 Divisions, Operations Pulo Shield and Safe Haven of Niger Delta and Plateau States respectively.  Under the new arrangement, Major General M. A. Koleoso is now Commander, TRADOC; Major General S. N. Muazu has been moved from 2 Division to the Headquarters Infantry Corps as the new Commander, while Major General M. T. Ibrahim, formerly of the Department of Army Standard and Evaluation, is now the Commandant of Nigerian Defence Academy.

Also, Major General L. K. J. Ogunewe is now the Chief of Policy and Plans; Major General F. O. Alli, is now Chief of Training and Operations, while Major General A. A. Salihu is the new Chief of Logistics.

Others include Major General A. G. Okunola, who is now Commander of Operation PULO SHIELD (JTF) and Major General T. C. Ude, Commander, Operations Safe Haven (STF Jos), Major General L. W. Wiwa now Deputy Commandant of Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, Major General A. Oyebade now the General Officer Commanding 1 Division; Major General L. C. Ilo, General Officer Commanding 2 Division; Major General H. Umaru, General Officer Commanding 3 Division; Major General I. H. Edet, General Officer Commanding 81 Division and Brigadier General I. Attahiru, who is now the acting General Officer Commanding, 82 Division.  Also, Brigadier General A. T. Hamman is now the acting Provost Marshal; Brigadier General L. F. Abdullahi is acting Commander, Nigerian Army Education Corps, while Colonel R.  Abubakar has become the acting Director, Defence Information.

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Flood: Anambra residents battle with snakes, dangerous reptiles http://sunnewsonline.com/new/flood-anambra-residents-battle-with-snakes-dangerous-reptiles/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/flood-anambra-residents-battle-with-snakes-dangerous-reptiles/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 02:09:34 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129357 Days after flood destroyed buildings and properties in different parts of Anambra State, it has been tales of woes and lamentations.]]>

From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha

Days after flood destroyed buildings and properties in different parts of Anambra State, it has been tales of woes and lamentations.

Residents of Oduke and Ibollo Layouts cutting across parts of Awada Obosi and Onitsha are now battling with snakes, crocodiles and other dangerous reptiles, which the heavy flood brought into their homes.

When Daily Sun visited the area yesterday, people living at Obiajulunwa Street, Oduke were in disarray as they struggled to kill snakes hiding in different bedrooms and compound within the area.

Some of the residents, who spoke to Daily Sun, said that though the flood was receding, they were now afraid to sleep in their homes unless total fumigation was carried out.

While some of the residents battled to kill snakes, youths in the area were having fun by snapping their pictures and sending the images to different social network sites.

At 136   Ezeiweka Road, the landlord of the building, Ignatius Ezeike, has started rebuilding the fence pulled down by the flood and the water channel leading to the building. In chat with Daily Sun, Ezeike noted that the flood also destroyed four vehicles in the compound and damaged other properties running into millions of naira.

He attributed the problem of the area to the wrong channelling of flood by a construction company that handled the Ezeiweka Road project and said if the government delayed in responding to the problem of the area, more casualties would be recorded.

Contacted, the Anambra State Commissioner for Works, Law Chinwuba, said the government had put machinery in motion to salvage the people of the area. He also advised residents to avoid building on flood channels.

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Forgery in the Senate: Who Dunnit? http://sunnewsonline.com/new/forgery-in-the-senate-who-dunnit/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/forgery-in-the-senate-who-dunnit/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 01:25:35 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129355 Last week Thursday, July 23, 2015, Daily Sun, published a very conscientious editorial on the subject of the controversy, surrounding the elections of the principal officers of the current Nigerian Senate, which]]>

Last week Thursday, July 23, 2015, Daily Sun, published a very conscientious  editorial on the subject of the controversy, surrounding the elections of the principal officers of the current Nigerian Senate, which was inaugurated, in a slapdash manner, on June 9, 2015. Towards the end of a limpid and courageous presentation of the facts behind the embarrassing disputations that have characterised the current Senate since it came into existence nearly two months ago, the editorial was very blunt and precise in its demands:

“Nonetheless, it is important that we get to the root of the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rules/Orders. We hope the outcome of the police probe will go a long way in laying this forgery saga to rest. The probe should neither be selective nor targeted at any particular senator. But, it should not spare anybody indicted in the forgery, or shy away from recommending them for prosecution. It would, of course, also go without saying that any action that had been taken, using the controversial Senate Standing Orders 2015 (Amended ) would be null and void, if the document is proved to have been forged.”

The forgery the editorial referred to was the allegation by sizable and significant members of the Senate that the Senate Standing Orders/Rules, which guide the Senate’s entire proceedings was forged. When a senator is sworn in, the first documents that are handed over to him are  the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Senate Rule Book/Standing Orders. The Senate Standing Orders book is the instrument that guides the conduct of every senator and spells out how the business of the Senate is to be conducted. The first rule in the Standing Order deals with how the presiding and principal officers of the Senate are to be elected. Once they are elected, the Senate then becomes properly convened and may commence the business for which it was created by the Nigerian constitution and guided by the rules, as contained in its Standing Orders.

In this particular case, at the first real sitting of the Senate on June 10, 2015, Senator Kabiru Marafa, a second-time senator from Zamfara State, raised a point of order. He pointed out that when he opened his Rule Book, he  saw that it was captioned: “The Senate Standing Orders 2015 (As amended).” According to Senator Marafa, there was no such document as “Senate Standing Orders 2015 (As amended);” that there could only be Senate Standing Orders 2011, because to amend the Senate Standing Orders, certain procedures are to be followed and since he was a member of the 7th Senate, which produced the Senate Standing Orders 2011, he was in a position to declare that at no time were any amendments made to the Senate Standing Orders of 2011. Therefore, any such amended document, by implication, was a forged document.

The biggest beneficiary of the “amended” document, Senator Bukola Saraki, who was by then presiding as the president of the Senate, courtesy of the “Senate Standing Orders 2015 (As amended),” ruled Senator Marafa out of order. In the ensuing milieu, tempers rose sky high and threatened to break through the roof. Quickly and rather desperately, Senator Saraki adjourned the Senate to July 21, and then shifted it to July 28, in the hope, apparently, that by the time the Senate resumed, time and the “Nigerian factor” would’ve dealt with the crisis and the 8th Senate could then settle down to “business as usual.”

Well, the Senate did resume on July 28, and the roof did not come crashing down. What came crashing down, instead, was the hope that  Daily Sun editorial had nursed about the police investigation of the forgery, putting the matter to rest. On resumption, the senators were handed down a copy each of the “Senate Standing Orders 2015.” Again, Senator Marafa raised his hand and again pointed out what amounted to another “forgery.” He observed that in the original Senate Standing Orders 2011, the Senate was supposed to convene from 10am to 2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. But that in the latest Standing Orders he was given, the Senate was to convene plenary at 2pm and end at 6pm. Presiding officer, Saraki’s response was to say that the discrepancy was an error; and then, miraculously, another “corrected” Senate Standing Orders booklet was promptly produced and again distributed to the senators, which means that from 9 June this year to date, the senators have been issued with two different Senate Standing Orders, one of which must be a fake.

By now it had become apparent, even to the most gullible, inside and outside the Senate, that something was seriously wrong with the orientation and the mental state of what is supposed to be the most respectable, best behaved and highest law-making body for the country. The surreptitiousness, tackiness, and the desperate struggle to “hold on by hook or by crook,” which Senator Saraki is having to deal with are finally overwhelming even his own crisis management capabilities; leading to the inevitable conclusion that sooner rather than later, the current Senate leadership will have no option but to drop all pretences, pull off the mask and adopt impunity as the only means of survival.

Now, to the police investigation of the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders. Last week the Punch newspaper led other media in reporting that it had “authoritative” proof that the police have established a case of forgery of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 and that the police have handed a copy of the report to President Muhammadu Buhari. But then, even before some people had finished digesting the implication of the claim by the Punch, the police spokesman, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, said the report was not true, and that the police probe into the case was yet to be concluded. Who to believe? You might find a clue in John Pilger’s Law: “If it’s been officially denied, then it’s probably true;” or Francis Cloud Cockburn’s “never believe anything until it’s officially denied.” But it is very likely that the police have, indeed, found the truth and are waiting to be told what to do with it. As they say, ‘old habits die hard.’ Although he appears to have survived the sweeping changes in the security setup, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, is fully aware that he is dancing on egg shells and that any wrong step could cost him his job. The IGP must remember that when he was appointed, he took an oath to be honest and fair to all and to respect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The unfolding crisis in the Senate might well be the defining moment of his stewardship. The whole nation is waiting on him to tell us whether a forgery was committed and by whom. And we are not prepared to wait forever.

Elsewhere within the polity, there are, at least, two cases before the courts instituted by a group made up of some members of the 7th Senate, and a second one instituted by some members of the 8th Senate. Both groups are alleging that someone in the National Assembly hierarchy had forged the Senate Standing Orders that was used to elect the current Senate leadership on June 9. By the way, the crucial evidence that prompted the allegations of forgery was the ‘Order’ that stipulates that the election of presiding and principal officers shall be by Decision, that is senators will rise up and pronounce the name of the particular aspirant they are voting for to the hearing of the entire chamber and of those following the proceedings through the electronic media. This was how leadership of the 7the Senate was elected back in 2011. But in the disputed Senate Standing Orders 2015 (Amended), this particular rule or Order was changed and voting was done through secret balloting. Clearly there was a premeditated plan to cheat. The question the police investigators are required to determine is who, among the likely suspects was responsible for changing the rules illegally. Members of the 7th Senate, including Senator Ita Enang, who was at the time the chairman Senate Committee on Rules and Business, have disowned the doctored version of the document. So far, the police have questioned Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who was deputy president during the 7th Senate and the Clerk of the National Assembly, Maikasuwa. What is left is for the investigators to tell the nation what they found out.

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NASS crisis: The ultimate loser is Nigeria! http://sunnewsonline.com/new/nass-crisis-the-ultimate-loser-is-nigeria/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/nass-crisis-the-ultimate-loser-is-nigeria/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 01:21:48 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129353 In the presidential system of government, which Nigeria practises, separation of power is a cardinal principle. This is a system, whereby all arms of government (Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) ]]>

In the presidential system of government, which Nigeria practises, separation of power is a cardinal principle. This  is a system, whereby all arms of government (Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) perform their respective functions without interference of the other. Despite the fact that there are checks and balances among the arms of government, they must do their duties independently. This means that while the executive arm of government devotes its time to implementation of policies, the legislature concentrates in making laws for the good governance of the country. The judiciary, on its part, enforces the law made by the legislature, for the successful implementation of policies of government.

For government to work smoothly and effectively, therefore, the three arms of government must rise up to their duties and work together. As it applies to Nigeria, it means that the Executive (Presidency and the cabinet), the National Assembly and judiciary must work, first independently and then collectively for the success of government. This is why the squabbles in the National Assembly, which has, inadvertently, strained the relationship among the lawmakers as well as between the legislature and the executive (Presidency), to some extent, is an evil wind, which would blow the country no good. To be sure, since the controversy over the election of the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker started, Nigeria, as a country, has been the ultimate loser, directly and indirectly. And more would be lost, if nothing is done to arrest it. Therefore, senators, members of the House of Representatives  and others involved in the fray owe the nation a duty to sheathe their swords, unite and work together. The Presidency and the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives must accept each other, in the interest of Nigeria.

Indeed, the development at the Senate on Tuesday is something to cheer. The fact that 81 senators, across party lines, passed a vote of confidence in Senate President Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu is a step in the right direction. When more than two-thirds of the Senate membership passes a confidence vote in their leaders, it means that they are pleased with them. It  also shows that they trust them and want them to continue in office. Also, the truce in the House of Representatives, after the concession, which saw the emergence of Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as majority Leader,  is commendable. However, the use of the South East as the sacrificial lamb, in this peace pact, must be noted. To show that all is now well at the House of Representatives, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, speaking after the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus meeting, had stated:  “There are no more factions in the House. What we have today is a group of lawmakers loyal to the House leadership and our great party.

“It is only in unity that we can positively contribute to the change  we all worked for and move Nigeria forward towards our desired dream of a greater nation.”

Confirming this, Hon. Gbajabiamila, the House Majority Leader, said: “There are no longer factions in the House. Whatever happened earlier is now behind us and we are ready to serve Nigerians to the best of our ability.”

Hon. Abiodun Faleke also said: “We are no longer fighting, as you can see. We are now ready to work with other legislators and move our dear country forward.” Just as Hon. Abdulmunin Jibrin said: “This meeting has healed all wounds. There is nobody here that is nursing any anger or ill-feelings any longer.”

With senators showing proof that they have confidence in the Saraki leadership and members of the House of Representatives resolving that there are no more wars, the onus is on others outside the National Assembly, who may have felt aggrieved, to also make peace. A sour relationship between the Presidency and National Assembly, for instance, will definitely spell doom for the government, which has many daunting tasks and Nigeria, as a country. Already, the losses from the crisis at the National Assembly are manifesting. Recently, when President Muhammadu Buhari went to the United States, there was no representation from the legislature. The president went with neither the leadership or members of the National Assembly. This does not say much about Nigeria and its democracy. Some people may say that there’s no big deal in Buhari having legislators on his entourage. There certainly is. Apart from the fact that it sends signal that the Executive and Legislature are working together, it gives the National Assembly opportunity to compare notes with their counterparts and also to network. This, I dare say, could have explained why the United States President Barack Obama, during his trip to Kenya and Ethiopia, in his African tour, went with tens of Congressmen. The American President went with the Congressmen, despite the fact that sometimes he has issues with Capitol Hill, as the Republicans always stretch him to the limit. Obama knows that politics is different from governance and, therefore, could not have isolated the United States legislature.

Indeed, the signal that the Senate President may not have been given the opportunity to meet with Buhari, for example, is not good for the country. No matter the reservations the Presidency may have with the emergence of Saraki and Dogara, the law recognises them as the Number 3 and Number 4 citizens of the country. Yes, there may be issues about their emergence, but it would be fair if Buhari sticks to his earlier stance that a constitutional process took place in the election of Saraki, despite the fact that he would have wished that senators and members of the House of Representatives obeyed the directives of the All Progressives Congress leadership to pick favoured candidates. Besides, the president had initially said that he would work with whoever emerged as leaders of the National Assembly.

My fear is that a continued intransigence against Saraki and Dogara could spark a row between the National Assembly and the Presidency. Such development will not augur well for the country. In a democracy, the Presidency cannot really function well without the legislature, as most actions it may want to take would be subjected to the approval of the National Assembly. For one, to spend money, the executive needs approval of the annual budget by The National Assembly. To appoint ministers, service chiefs, declare a state of emergency and other actions, the Executive needs the approval of the National Assembly. If there is no love lost between the executive and the National Assembly, in general, or one arm of the National Assembly, in particular, there will be a clog in the wheel of progress.

This is  why I wonder whether those who are agitating and insisting, especially in the APC, that Ekweremadu must vacate his seat as Deputy Senate President really know what they are doing. In a Senate that has 49 senators from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a forceful removal or the frustration of Ekweremadu out of office would cause the polarisation of the Senate. If the PDP senators decide to play  belligerent  opposition and, therefore, elect to frustrate anything that comes to the Senate, nothing will work for the Federal Government.  A look at what is happening at the US Congress will show that it takes Obama tact, lobby and political savvy to get things done at the Congress, as Republican Congressmen would want to align together against whatever he wants. Such development in  Nigeria would not be in the interest of Buhari, the APC and Nigeria.

This is, indeed, time to continue to make sacrifices. Those in government should put the nation first in whatever they do. Also, this is time for Nigerian leaders to intervene to resolve the crisis, for the country to move forward. Where is the General Abdulsalami Abubakar peace committee, which stayed with former President Goodluck Jonathan after the presidential election until he conceded defeat? As the committee members intervened in the presidential election saga and stopped what could have led to loss of lives, they have to also step in now to ensure a cordial relationship between the Presidency and Senate, in particular. This is a task for the Abdulsalamis, Olusegun Obasanjos, Ibrahim Babangidas, Yakubu Gowons, Shehu Shagaris, Atiku Abubakars, Alex Ekwuemes, Ebitu Ukiwes and other statesmen. Their intervention in the matter would make the difference and ensure that the next four years would not be wasted in fighting personal political wars. The time for them to act is now.

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Frustration(s) awaiting President Buhari http://sunnewsonline.com/new/frustrations-awaiting-president-buhari/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/frustrations-awaiting-president-buhari/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 01:19:45 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129351 Buoyed by his political honeymoon with Nigerians, following his shock victory in last March’s presidential elections, Muhammadu Buhari is cock-a-hoop in his determination to prosecute looters of public treasury, whoever they may be detected to be.]]>

Buoyed by his political honeymoon with Nigerians, following his shock victory in last March’s presidential elections, Muhammadu Buhari is cock-a-hoop in his determination to prosecute looters of public treasury, whoever they may be detected to be.

Coming into office after the exit of one Goodluck, President Buhari surely needs real good luck for the coming battle, as he must scale over five notorious obstacles. These are blackmail, the judiciary, the EFCC/prosecution, Nigerian lawyers and bank chief executives. Judging from past experiences, Buhari’s task is monumental.

In a normal society, the battle so far against looting of public treasury in Nigeria would have been subdued but for obstacles chief of which is blackmail. Even before Buhari took office after his election victory, that blackmail was already on display. For some unknown reasons, outgoing President Jonathan expressed premonition that his lieutenants would be probed by the incoming administration. Jonathan’s sympathisers joined the blackmail by demanding that if public office holders in Jonathan’s administration and, perhaps, Jonathan himself were to be probed, then such probe must be extended beyond Obasanjo’s second coming in 1999.

Yet, such blackmail will not hold. Since Obasanjo in 1999, governments in Nigeria (federal or state) had not only probed predecessors but had also been probed invariably by successors, Jonathan’s administration not excluded. Obasanjo probed everybody before him, including a deceased General Sani Abacha who, up till (this) time of writing, has since ben intermittently subjected to claims of being made to forfeit seized public funds. Therefore, apart from blackmail, which other probe is Buhari expected to institute beyond Obasanjo’s administration?

What is more, while still in office, Obasanjo was claimed by (the then) EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, to have been probed except that when grapes turned sour, the same Ribadu, within years, gave different versions of his findings. While still in office, Obasanjo was cleared by Nuhu Ribadu of any abuse of office only for the same Ribadu to condemn Obasanjo (after office) for allegedly being more corrupt than General Abacha.

After Obasanjo left office, he was impliedly probed by his successor, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua. Nigerians knew of that probe only when an ex-minister (under Obasanjo), Oby Ezekwesili, as Vice President of World Bank, visited President Yar’Adua at Aso Rock and complained that Yar’Adua’s administration was reversing Obasanjo’s policies. Yar’Adua dismissed the allegation and instead, claimed that Obasanjo spent sixteen billion dollars on power projects “… With nothing to show for it.”

President Jonathan himself on assuming office, embarked on leakages of alleged looting of public funds by a trumpeted “cabal,” euphemism so undisguised beyond Yar’Adua’s officials and family members. Curiously, Jonathan never extended his probe beyond Yar’Adua and specifically, never extended his probe at that stage to Obasanjo’s administration. How then could Buhari extend any probe to Obasanjo’s years let alone farther than that? It took Obasanjo’s unfavourable report on Jonathan’s administration to make him (Jonathan) respond with a red signal to Obasanjo that the Halliburton bribe scandal was under intense investigation.

That red signal halted Obasanjo’s aggressive tactics. But then, the same President Jonathan probed and pursued former Delta State governor, James Ibori, for unsuccessful prosecution in Nigeria. From Dubai, Ibori was extradited to Britain where he is currently serving jail term for alleged theft of (Nigerian) public funds. Jonathan also probed or, at least, pursued former Kwara State governor, Bukola Saraki, who survived him and is currently Senate President. Jonathan further probed ex-Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, and ex-Adamawa State governor. The two of them are currently facing trial for alleged theft of public funds and money laundering.

Not left out of probe and prosecution by former President Jonathan was ex-Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, who was tried by Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) but was found not guilty and discharged.

Despite all these facts that from Obasanjo’s second coming in 1999, governments had always probed and had always been probed, it is clear that there is nothing peculiar to ex-officials in Jonathan’s administration being probed. He probed and prosecuted others. Yet, President Buhari must develop thick skin for the trials of looters of public treasury.

The next frustration Buhari may face will come from those to investigate and prosecute. EFCC? Nobody would be impressed by the present gra-gra of the agency. In the past, those aggressively pursued, interrogated and prosecuted by EFCC were only those known opponents of President Jonathan like serving commissioners under governor Rotimi Amaechi and others mentioned above. Otherwise, the same EFCC would either look the other way or soften any prosecution in progress as long as the accused were known sympathisers of the defunct administration. Buhari will particularly be frustrated (in his efforts) with half-hearted prosecution after the initial wise-making on the arrests and the ridiculous anything from fifty-count charge upwards.

There will be poor prosecutors either through professional incompetence or collusion with defendant. In the process, ex-ministers and former governors hitherto known to have stolen billions of dollars wee allowed to escape stipulated punishment. Those who should be in prison are lurking around, waiting another opportunity to loot again.

When EFCC does a poor job, the agency deceives the public with a seeming dissatisfaction an offer of appeal. The agency, in such situation, has never won any appeal to reverse any judgment of a lower court. Why should the prosecution approach a trial with two conflicting laws? Allowing a criminal on trial for the theft of billions of naira to be convicted with a fine of less than one million (yes, one million) naira. Yet, EFCC would number such ridicule as one of the convictions obtained?

That is one frustration President Buhari will encounter in his war against graft. Standard of prosecution is the key to obtaining genuine conviction of these criminals. Buhari’s experience in his series of election petitions should give him the dirty picture of the situation on the bench.

In his coming war on graft, President Buhari must prepare for the frustration to be caused by lawyers substantial number of whom have been exposed as agents of corruption among judges handling trials of governors and ministers whose tenure ended in 2007. Lawyers hide under their professional calling suspects/accused, to frustrate trials. In most cases, lawyers serve as conduit pipes for bribing judges.

Admittedly, when such judges wee exposed in the past, they were dismissed or retired. Should that be the mere punishment? That is why President Buhari will be traumatised by the next set of corrupt judges assigned cases of corruption and or theft of public funds involving public office holders. Shouldn’t corrupt judges have been prosecuted instead of merely retiring or dismissing them? Meanwhile, such judges involved were allowed to keep their corrupt proceeds.

The lawyers (accomplices) were not even touched. Such lawyers should also have been prosecuted for their professional and criminal misconduct. Without lawyers as middlemen to render judges corrupt, the bench would be sanitised. Judges must not be allowed to keep their unlawfully acquired wealth. Only then would the necessary atmosphere have been created by President Buhari for his war on corruption or he would discover to his chagrin how much the criminals and their accomplices – lawyers, judges and prosecutors – could go in frustrating his war on corruption.

When all attention is focused on looting of public funds, as the major form of corruption in Nigeria, the impression is wrongly created that it is all integrity in the private sector or looting of funds in the private sector, specifically banks, is tolerable. Whereas, criminal bank chief executives are allowed to disgustingly parade all over the place as financial wizards, the crimes of these looters in the financial sector – banks and stock shares – have sent not a few innocent victims to their graves rather untimely.

These bank executives were direct accomplices of looting of funds in the public and private sectors. How did it happen that whatever billions of naira stolen in government or banks was transferred abroad?

President Buhari’s war on corruption will hardly succeed without descending on bank chief executives. Their counterparts in other parts of the world are ever instantly prosecuted and jailed within months after their arrest. But in Nigeria, their shameful acts are turned into carnival of glory in which their trials (if at all) are prolonged into years, to frustrate the observing public in preparation for the charade called trials after which the criminals are set free.

Again, thanks to the agents of corruption – lawyers and judges. They are the sources of frustration ,awaiting President Buhari in his war against corruption.

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Needed change for NUJ

Waheed Odusile, Managing Editor of NATION’GROUP OF NEWSPAPERS, has just been elected the new National President of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ). For ex-Concord Group of Newspapers management and staff, Odusile’s emergence is a matter of pride. He was one of us in those days determination to keep afloat despite the antagonism against our publisher, Bashorun MKO Abiola, in his early days of politics.

Odusile is taking up the NUJ mantle at a trying time for the profession, especially at the leadership level. Not unexpectedly, he has set himself the goal of shedding the shameful aspects in the practice of the profession.

One attraction of Odusile’s election to the NUJ leadership is that despite the rivalry of the candidates, the exercise was smooth-sailing, without controversies of the recent past in which candidates made various accusations and counter-accusations of alleged electoral malpractices.

For once, after the elections, which produced Waheed Odusile as NUJ president, all the participants – candidates and the organisers – could hold their heads high for a free and fair election. In return, the new NUJ boss must restore the dignity of that post. NUJ leadership is not for boosting the image of public office holders, specifically state governors, some thirty-six of them.

All along, the impression was created that it is mandatory for NUJ president to pay courtesy calls on state governors. What for? In so doing, state governors are made to look down on the press, though it must be conceded that NUJ itself renders journalists subservient to state governors. Any willing state governor should pay courtesy call on NUJ president in  his office.

In our younger days in the profession, NUJ presidents never engaged in the ritual of paying courtesy calls on the even more respected regional premiers.

 

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Jonathan bashing as pastime http://sunnewsonline.com/new/jonathan-bashing-as-pastime/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/jonathan-bashing-as-pastime/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 01:16:10 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129349 There’s a growing, observable trend since President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration began on May 29, it is the effort that has gone to discredit the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. ]]>

There’s  a growing, observable trend since President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration began on May 29, it is the effort that has gone to discredit the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. My taking on this issue is not an attempt to white wash the image of the former president or robe that administration in any undeserved garment. I believe things could have been done differently under President Jonathan, which could have made the country a better place than we presently have.  But my take on this is ‘to every man his style’. One does not expect a Jonathan to behave like a ( Late President Umar) Yar’Adua. Neither would we expect  a Buhari to see things the same way  (former President Olusegun) Obasanjo would see it. We all have different world views based on our backgrounds, and these shape the way we react to issues.

The trend to discredit the Jonathan administration either through attacks on him or any of his ministers cuts across. If it is not former President Obasanjo, it is one of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors.

In one of such diatribes on Tuesday, the former President Obasanjo  took a swipe on Jonathan , describing him as lacking in vision in the rehabilitation of the Nigerian Railways. He said the rail lines were obsolete having been constructed in 1903. “For what reason should anybody in his right senses in Nigeria of today believe that rehabilitating the railway system which was completed in 1903 to carry three million tonnes of goods is what we need today,” he said.

This is just one of such attacks in recent time. A few weeks after the inauguration of the present administration, he had castigated the former President saying the country had been mismanaged under his tenure. Without sounding disrespectful of the revered former president, I  recall that in the dying days of his administration, a contract of $8.3billion was awarded for what was described as the modernization and expansion of rail lines. The administration of Yar’Adua which was uncomfortable with the contract set up a committee to review it. The committee and a World bank report advised that the contract be discontinued. This was after a mobilisation fee of $250 million had been paid. One of the reasons cited, leading to the termination of the contract was lack of transparency in its bidding and inflation of that particular contract. So what are we now talking about. The former President, though highly respected, does not really have a moral right to condemn Jonathan especially on this issue. We saw the result of the rail project under the Jonathan administration, the same cannot be said of Baba’s contract which was awarded in the twilight of his administration.

Also more recently, some of the ministers that served under the past administration came under attacks. There is no denying the fact that it is an indirect attack on the Jonathan administration. There was no weapon that was not used to convey that message- photographs that were played up to mean what they were not really for. There was a particular photograph of former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke who was said to have gone to the home of former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar to plead with him to intervene on her behalf with President Buhari. It was actually a photograph taken at a different occasion. There was another one of hers purportedly running after President Buhari.

The other day, it was the Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole who took on the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala over the spending of the excess crude account.

“The last time the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy reported to the Council and it is in the minutes, she reported by November 2014, that we had $4.1 billion( in the Excess Crude Account) but today the Accountant General Office reported we have $2.0 billion, which means the Honourable Minister spent $2.1billion without authority of the NEC. And that money was not distributed to states, it was not paid to the three tiers of government”, he accused.

There is also a tendency to also view some of the recommendations in the Ahmed Joda committee’s report as a subtle attack on the last administration.  The committee recommended that President Buhari should terminate all ‘dubious appointments made by former President Goodluck Jonathan in the last nine months and review all contracts awarded by the administration in the last 18 months.

For those who are discerning, this is a subtle attack on the last administration. I wonder whether the committee realized that the appointments that they recommended should be terminated were made to Nigerians. One would have though that the recommendation should have been to review and retain whoever is found suitable and terminate the dubious one. The tendency is to think that party affiliation played a role in this recommendation. Since the appointees are not APC members, it would be an opportunity to do away with them.

As much as I do not support the shenanigans of top government officials and the officially sanctioned corruption that has taken over governance in the country, I do not think the public pillorying of the people the citizens look up to should be the practice. It is clear that the recent outburst stems  from the President’s statement that he would probe the Jonathan administration. Thus every other person sees this as an opportunity to carve a little out of the hide out of the ‘Jonathanians’.

We often wonder why there is no longer respect in the society. The reason for this could be drawn from the above when due process is not always followed.  I personally do not see the necessity of these public condemnation because it is fashionable to do so. Nobody in his right senses would oppose the prosecution of those who betrayed public trust, but such actions should be conducted with dignity. I expect our public office holders to conduct the affairs of state with dignity and also protect the sanctity of public office. Some of those speaking now are occupying these public offices today and they see it as opportunity to say whatever they like, but they should remember that what goes around comes around.  If we are talking change, that change should also affect the way we conduct our affairs.

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Nigerians demand Buhari’s policy direction http://sunnewsonline.com/new/nigerians-demand-buharis-policy-direction/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/nigerians-demand-buharis-policy-direction/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 01:14:38 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129347 SINCE President Muhammadu Buhari returned from the United States (US) trip, the question on the lips of many Nigerians is: after the visit, what next? Besides, they are eager to know the policy direction of the new government. The question above would naturally attract different answers depending on who is providing the answers.]]>

SINCE President Muhammadu Buhari returned from the United States (US) trip, the question on the lips of many Nigerians is: after the visit, what next? Besides, they are eager to know the policy direction of the new government. The question above would naturally attract different answers depending on who is providing the answers.

But, regardless of whatever opinion other Nigerians may have on the trip and the agenda next, the most important thing is that the president should sit down and start implementing his change programmes to Nigerians.

While some Nigerians are busy dancing themselves lame over expectations from the Buhari visit to the US, those who know American Foreign policy thrust very well are not so enthusiastic about the supposed gains the visit will give Nigerians. Most of what President Barack Obama said the US will do to Nigeria is just good on paper. It is the implementation that may be problematic, especially with Abuja’s refusal to toe the line of gay marriage rights.

I really do not understand why Obama is pushing gay rights to African countries? I find it funny that Obama should subsume gay rights under human rights. His speeches in Kenya, his father’s ancestral country and Ethiopia, where he visited this week, are punctuated with allusions to human rights including those of men that love (marry) each other. Thank God that President Uhuru Kenyatta made him understand the futility of such exercise. I think by now that Obama should be abreast of the workings of African culture, especially as relates to family and the marriage institution. Africans do not believe in same-sex marriage.

If Obama really wants to help African people, there are many areas of intervention he can choose from and gay right is not one of them. Obama’s charge to Kenya and other African countries to eschew tribalism, curb corruption and fight terrorism is welcome.

Instead of gay rights, our problem in Africa is how to overcome poverty, disease, war and terrorism as well as corruption and bad government. This is where America can come in and assist us tremendously. We will be so glad to welcome assistance in these areas. America should assist us develop strong democratic institutions and anti-graft agencies, workable democracy across the continent. America can help us in agriculture, power and plenty industries that will employ our teeming jobless youths.

I agree with Obama on his belief in the rule of law and the emphasis that no one is above the law, including Presidents and his call for unity among Africans and the need for Africans to end the cancer of corruption and sit-tightism. Corruption could be in other countries but it seems the one in Africa is the highest. It is unfortunate that political office holders in Africa see power as a route to quick and stupendous wealth. Very few of them see it as an avenue to serve the public.

The other time he came to Ghana, he said that what Africa needs was not strong men but strong democratic institutions. That statement is as relevant today as it was when it was first uttered. Yet, our democracies keep growing strong men and weaker democratic institutions hence corruption is rife in Africa.

I really do not know where Buhari’s foreign policy or others are heading. The ministers that will define the policy direction of the government and drive them are not yet appointed because the president is looking for clean men and women. Men and women of integrity he is looking for in Nigeria are not in short supply.

You can pick them in one week. He should never give the world the impression that most Nigerians are not good people hence it is taking him more time to find credible men and women that will quicken his governance pace. He does not need the 100 days of honey moon period being sold to the public by former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, before performing his promised wonders.  He should hit the ground running. We are in a 21st century world where events that affect our lives happen so fast and need quick responses. Time is not on our side to catch up with the West or even the East.

As citizens of the global village, we shall be eclectic in our foreign policy. Our foreign policy should be hinged on what the country stands to gain. While it is still good to be in the good books of America and Britain and some others in Europe, we should tilt towards the far-East, especially China, the new global power house. China is the new happening place to go now if we are to industrialize. They have the technical know-how and cheap labour as well. We should send our young ones to school in China, especially in the area of science and technology. We shall embrace Indian schools for medicine and other sciences as well if we are to develop. The Singaporean model of development is worth emulating.

While Buhari wants to tackle corruption, especially political corruption, he should tackle structural imbalances that are themselves corruptive as well. He should not dismiss the recommendations of the recently held National Conference as regards the restructuring of Nigeria and other issues. Nigeria should muster enough strength to confront its past.

Boko Haram insurgency, separatist agitations, Niger Delta militancy and recently Radio Biafra are all manifestations of our buried past which keep resurrecting to haunt us from time to time. Nigeria cannot wish Biafra away simply by extinguishing Ndigbo from the national power equation. The more the Igbo or any other tribe is treated as unwelcome, the more the country’s growth is being slowed down irredeemably.

Nigeria will grow and achieve its manifest destiny when every component is made to feel that they have a stake in it. The day Nigerians start seeing themselves as members of one family and one tribe (Nigeria) will mark the beginning of its greatness and realization of its destiny.

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The road not taken to protect Nigerian environment http://sunnewsonline.com/new/the-road-not-taken-to-protect-nigerian-environment/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/the-road-not-taken-to-protect-nigerian-environment/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 01:12:01 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129344 A few days ago, the Lagos State Government marked its annual Tree Planting Day. This is an annual ritual, celebrated to encourage the populace to plant trees to protect the environment. ]]>

By  NKECHI OBI

A  few days ago, the Lagos State Government marked its annual Tree Planting Day. This is an annual ritual, celebrated to encourage the populace to plant trees to protect the environment. The exercise often reminds one of the gallant struggles of the environmentalist, Wangari Maathai, to save the environment from degradation. Her persistent campaign was to make her  first African woman to win Nobel Peace Prize.

Maathai, who died of cancer on September 26, 2011, put her name on world map, using her Green Belt Movement to push her campaign to enthrone a healthy and sustainable environment in her native Kenya. It does appear however, that the vision espoused by the celebrated academic has died with her.

But knowingly or unknowingly, the Lagos State Government seems to be pushing the vision of Professor Maathai by marking the annual tree planting campaign. It is an event that ought to catch national attention but it is not. This is quite unfortunate in this day and age when the issue of the environment should be at the centre of every discourse.

Flagging off the campaign at an elaborate ceremony in Lagos recently, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode told residents of the state to embrace the culture of tree planting, describing tree planting as the cheapest and simplest option to preserve the “lungs of the earth’’. According to him, the impact of climate change, particularly the depletion of the ozone layer calls for all hands to be on deck.

The governor, subsequently, appealed to Lagos residents to embrace tree planting as a way of life to restore the dignity of the earth. He revealed that over 5.9 million trees had been planted in the state since the government embraced the campaign. The figure looks good if other states in the federation had shown similar zeal and commitment.

What Governor Ambode did not mention was the fact that hundreds of the planted trees are usually cut daily for various economic reasons as soon as the planted trees grow to maturity. More often than not, the trees find their way to various kitchens as firewood or charcoal. Herein lies the irony of the annual tree planting campaigns. Nobody has calculated the huge funds expended each season to celebrate the event in Lagos State and other states in the federation. In all these, there is obviously a road not yet taken by government in discouraging the environmental degradation caused largely by the incessant cutting of trees for firewood, charcoal or for other uses.

One such measures is for government to popularize the use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), also popularly known as cooking gas as a veritable source of domestic energy. If greater segments of the population embraces cooking gas, cutting of trees for firewood will be systematically be curbed and environmental degradation reasonably checked. LPG usage is the way to go in this day and age.

For over a decade, Techno Oil and other companies have embarked on measures to promote the use of cooking gas in households in Nigeria.

In particular, Techno Oil has launched the Going Green Initiative, to make more people in the country to embrace cooking gas. The Going Green advocacy has been adopted as a key element in the corporate social responsibility programmes of Techno Oil. Our goal is to encourage Nigerian households to embrace LPG rather than continuing to depend on firewood and charcoal for cooking needs.  It is a known fact that LPG is cleaner, safer and even more affordable compared to firewood and charcoal. Nigeria has the largest reserve of gas in Africa but this nation of about 170 million people, the largest in Africa, has the lowest cooking gas consumption rate, compared with many other emerging economies around the globe. In comparative terms, adoption of LPG currently stands at 10 per cent in Nigeria while Ghana has 45 per cent adoption level. Senegal stands at 40 per cent while Brazil has 90 per cent adoption rate. Nigeria’s standing is even more laughable compared with countries such as Togo and neighbouring Benin Republic. This does not have to be so with Nigeria.

The huge gas reserve in Nigeria should be a factor that should compel the Federal Government to put measures in place to make more Nigerian households to embrace cooking gas. This will automatically make more people to abandon firewood and charcoal. The environment will be better for this and so will the economy. When more households start using LPG, the rate of cutting trees for firewood will decrease. Besides, using kerosene for cooking will also become unattractive because of the ever increasing cost of kerosene.

Government will subsequently, spend less money on importing the commodity. Everybody stands to gain because the foreign exchange that hitherto is spent on importation of the commodity has to be put to other uses. It becomes logical, therefore, to suggest that government should direct its agencies such as the National Orientation Agency, ministry of information and other related agencies to mount campaigns to make Nigerians to embrace the use of cooking gas.

Government should also introduce incentives to encourage investors to go into LPG ventures. Such incentives should include removal of multiple taxation for investors; creating the enabling environment for business and introducing measures that would make the cost of cooking gas affordable for every Nigerian household.

It may not be out of place for government to provide gas cylinders to households at no cost to the households. Users of the cylinders will only contend with refilling the cylinders. Some companies have introduced gas stoves that have been found useful for low-budget situations. The more number of people using use such facilities, the better for the environment.

• Obi is the Executive Vice-Chair of Techno Oil Limited and President of Women in LPG Group.

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After the failed ‘coup’ in Osun http://sunnewsonline.com/new/after-the-failed-coup-in-osun/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/after-the-failed-coup-in-osun/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 01:09:04 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=129342 WITH the May 26 judgement of the Supreme Court that affirmed Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as the winner of the August 9, 2014 governorship election in Osun, the state’s PDP knew it had come to the end of the road in its long sustained but futile bid to come to power in the state. It, therefore, had to devise some unconventional means to unseat the governor.]]>

By Mike Ogundele

WITH  the May 26 judgement of the Supreme Court that affirmed Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as the winner of the August 9, 2014 governorship election in Osun, the state’s PDP knew it had come to the end of the road in its long sustained but futile bid to come to power in the state. It, therefore, had to devise some unconventional means to unseat the governor.

On Sunday June 14, 2015 one of the leaders of the party in the state called a meeting of party bigwigs, stakeholders and loyalists for the purpose of repositioning the party for the next elections. But to their chagrin, they were told by the frustrated politician to brace up to his plan of action of making the state ungovernable, if they ever hope to win any election in the state.

However, Osun State Security Council got wind of the plans and read the riot act to them on June 19 after its emergency meeting.  The first stage of the plan was to import thugs and hoodlums into the state in the week starting from June 22. These thugs were to unleash mayhem in the name of protesting delay in payment of workers’ salaries and pensions. The ‘protest’ was to be accompanied with killing, looting and arson, both of public and private property. An NGO was formed a week before the rioting to be the arrowhead of the felony in order to give the thugs a façade of legitimacy.

Justice Olamide Folahanmi Oloyede’s petition asking for the impeachment of the governor was to be the second stage of this plot. Coming after the mayhem, destruction and state of insecurity, the petition would have provided a comfortable ground for some of the legislators who had been promised money and positions if they  carry the impeachment through.

When the state security council aborted the subversive protest with its sabre rattling, we though Oloyede’s petition would be shelved too. However, Oloyede went ahead with her petition. If stage two was to ride on the wave of stage one and stage one was aborted, why go ahead with stage two that landed on dry ground without the expected support?

This is because there was stage three designed to give fillip to stage two. Stage three was eventually carried out on Tuesday July 7 but it was stillborn. The ‘protesters’ made up of known PDP members and local leaders, a very tiny section of the retirees on the payroll of a prominent politician in the state and sundry thugs (local and imported) had gathered around Ola-Iya junction in Osogbo (The area is a hotbed of progressive activism).

However, Aregbesola, the master tactician and a good student of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, took the wind out of their sail. While going to his office that morning, he turned the trip into a carnival as he slowed his convoy to acknowledge cheers from the people on the route, who trouped out to greet him. Women, men, children, traders, artisans, commercial motorcyclists, just everybody within the vicinity came out to meet his convoy. Some were weeping. Other were praying loudly and openly for him while others were cursing his enemies.

When the convoy reached Ola-Iya, which is a market place, the crowd surrounding him had become tumultuous, swallowing and overwhelming the miserable protesters who had gathered in the place before. Possibly out of fear and or shame, many of them took to their heels on being overwhelmed. And so, Aregbesola rode to the office triumphantly that day, overwhelming and shaming those who thought they could ambush and embarrass him.

To add salt to injury, the story that went to town that day was how Aregbesola rode triumphantly to office and how his enemies ran away in terror.

Interestingly, while signing a memorandum of understanding with the state government before calling off its industrial action, the state’s NLC denied that its members participated in the farcical protest of July 7, claiming that the charade was politically motivated.  The body of pensioners in the state also claimed that the union did not participate in any protest, that Governor Aregbesola’s administration had treated retirees very well before the financial crisis that engulfed the whole nation, and not Osun alone.

Also, the chairman of the state’s vendors association also signed a statement, denying that his members were attacked by Aregbesola’s supporters.

Lastly, on July 28, Justice Oloyede refused to appear before the house committee set up to investigate her claim. Apparently, she has developed cold feet. There are unconfirmed reports that the state’s Judicial Commission is unhappy about her petition, which has put the judiciary into disrepute. They were shocked to find that a judge displayed open political partisanship, something unheard of in the history of the judiciary. She may, therefore, be recommended for retirement, at best; or outright dismissal, at worst.

Her not appearing meant her petition is dead and she herself is in trouble. For all practical purposes, therefore, the coup of the PDP to remove Governor Aregbesola from office through subterfuge and conspiracy has failed.  The first lesson we must learn from this is that if God is with someone, no matter how formidable his enemies are, he would overcome them and put them to shame.

Secondly, politicians must accept that a democratically elected governor, that is popular with his people and has not committed an impeachable offence, can only be changed through tenure expiration, losing election or by a competent court of law.

Thirdly, a new dawn has come to Nigeria where only values like credibility, integrity and a track record of unblemished public service will commend a candidate to voters.

It is my hope that the defeated candidates of PDP will accept their destiny and try to amend their ways, instead of working to destabilise Osun State. If, with all the support they got from former President Goodluck Jonathan with cash, dogs, masked gunmen and other security operatives, they could not unseat Aregbesola in Osun, what makes them think that they could overthrow him now?

• Ogundele writes from Osogbo, Osun State

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