Saturday, 24 February 2018

ARTS AND CULTURE

Business and Economy

Business and Economy (767)

Forty-eight of the missing 94 pupils of the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, have come out of hiding.

The Yobe State Commissioner for Education, Mohammed Lamin, who stated this in Damaturu, added that the state government had organised search parties to look for the remaining 46 pupils.

The Busari Local Government Area, where the attack happened is 100 kilometres away from Damaturu, the Yobe State capital.

Lamin explained that the school registered 28 missing students that returned on Tuesday, saying 20 more were received from Magwaram village on Wednesday.

He said, “This has brought down the number of missing pupils from 94 to 48 as of this morning (Wednesday). We are still hopeful that more pupils will return soon.”

The commissioner asked parents to report to the school whenever their children arrived home.

An anonymous source in the school told our correspondent that the 28 students that returned were rescued by villagers from bushes around Dapchi town.

The source said, “Some of the children trekked between 15 and 20 kilometres in the bush to save their lives. We have also received calls from Fulani settlements that they are bringing more students they found in the bush.”

“So far, no dead body has been recovered, but we heard that one pupil was bitten by a snake. She was said to have been treated locally. But she would be taken to a hospital in Damaturu for proper attention.”

It was gathered that a combined team of security operatives had been drafted to the area to search for the remaining missing students.

The Yobe Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, charged the military and other security outfits to ensure that none of the pupil was lost.

The governor in a statement by his spokesman, Abdullahi Bego, said, “The Yobe State Government is working with the Nigerian Army and other security and law enforcement agencies to ensure that all students in the school are fully accounted for.

“As the public is aware, the pupils were helped by their teachers to escape to the surrounding bushes and villages as terrorists stormed the town on Monday.

“Many pupils are still unaccounted for, but the Yobe State Government has been receiving the girls that were found in the general area to which they escaped.

“The government is coordinating with law enforcement agencies to ensure that those girls are returned safely.”

“The Yobe State Government has no credible information as to whether any of the schoolgirls was taken hostage by the terrorists.

“The Yobe State Government assures parents and the school community that it will do everything necessary to ensure that all the missing girls are found and returned to their school and families and that security is improved in the area.”

The state government, in another statement send around 10pm, said more pupils had been rescued by by “gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army from the terrorists who abducted them.”

The government further stated that the “rescued girls are now in the custody of the Nigerian Army.”

“We will provide more details about their number and condition in due course,” the statement added.

Posted On Thursday, 22 February 2018 02:13 Written by

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) circular on dividend payout by commercial banks and discount houses has been analysed based on the performances and balance sheet positions of all lenders.

A report released yesterday by Afrinvest West Africa, an investment and research firm, showed that only six banks – Access Bank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa, Wema Bank and Zenith Bank- met the CBN’s minimum requirement for Capital Adequacy Ration (CAR) and Non-Performing Loans. Hence these banks are excluded from the restrictions on dividend payment.

The firm explained that many lenders will not be able to pay dividends based on their capital reserves as well as the proportion of Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) in a bid to forestall any threats to customer deposits in the system.

On the criteria that require lenders to meet the minimum Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) before dividend payout, the research firm said all the banks under its coverage, save for Unity and Union, met the minimum requirement stipulated by the CBN.

“For Unity, the current CAR (as at nine month 2017) is unavailable while Union Bank had a CAR of 13.3 per cent (below CBN requirement of 15 per cent in first half of 2017). We envisage Union’s CAR will improve by fiscal year 2017, adjusting for the capital raise of N50 billion via rights issue in 2017,” it said.

On another requirement that banks and discount houses that have a Composite Risk Rating (CRR) of “High” or a Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratio of above 10 per cent shall not be allowed to pay dividend, the report said only FBN Holdings has a non-performing loan ratio above 10 per cent which should disqualify the entity from paying dividend.

“However, given the Holding company structure operated by FBN Holdings, analysts believe dividend can be paid from earnings of subsidiaries, other than the bank,” it said.

Further analysis of the report showed that banks and discount houses that meet the minimum capital adequacy ratio but have a CRR of “Above Average” or an NPL ratio of more than five per cent but less than 10 per cent shall have dividend payout ratio of not more than 30 per cent.

Under this condition, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (STI) is the only Tier-1 bank restricted to a maximum payout ratio of 30 per cent on the basis of the fact that its NPL ratio stood at 9.6 per cent in nine months of 2016.

Similarly, Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Sterling and Union Bank are also restricted to a maximum of 30 per cent maximum payout ratio with respective NPL ratio above five per cent but below 10 per cent.

On the provision that   banks and discount houses that have capital adequacy ratios of at least three per cent above the minimum requirement, CRR of “Low” and NPL ratio of more than five per cent but less than 10 per cent, shall save dividend payout ratio of not more than 75 per cent of profit after tax.

Under this condition, ETI is the only Tier-1 bank that is restricted to 75 per cent maximum dividend payout ratio. Stanbic is the only Tier-2 bank eligible to pay up to 75 per cent as dividend payout.

On the provision that there shall be no regulatory restriction on dividend payout for banks and discount houses that meet the minimum CAR, have a CRR of “low” or “moderate” and an NPL ratio of not more than five per cent, the report said it is expected that the Board of such institutions will recommend payouts based on effective risk assessment and economic realities.

On the policy that no bank or discount house shall be allowed to pay dividend out of reserves, the analysis shows that no Nigerian bank breached this provision.

On the requirement that banks shall submit their Board approved dividend payout policy to the CBN before the payment of dividend shall be permitted, analysts believe the CBN will ensure compliance with the set guidelines before approval of dividend payment by the banks.

It said that in light of these new guidelines and based on our analysis of the banks using their nine month 2017 results, most of the banks, especially the Tier-1 banks, such as Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa and Zenith Bank, save for FBNH, are not likely to be significantly impacted and are expected to sustain the historical dividend payment trend.

“ETI meets the regulatory requirement for CAR, but has NPL above recommended maximum by the CBN; hence a maximum payout ratio of 30 per cent is placed on the bank. For the banks affected by the restrictions, we opine more attention will be turned towards improving NPL and shoring up capital buffers in order to ensure dividend payment,” it said.

Diamond Bank has sold off its African operations for a consideration of $75.7 million (N27.3 billion) to improve its CAR buffers. Union Bank has concluded a N50 billion rights issue in order to improve its capital base.

”Furthermore, given the premium Nigerian investors place on dividend paying stocks, we believe banks will strive to improve on dividend payment. Nevertheless, we do not rule out the possibility of some kneejerk sell-off reactions by investors especially in stocks that are affected by the dividend payment restrictions. Hence, we advise that investors tread cautiously, especially ahead of the release of full year earnings,” the analysts said.

Posted On Tuesday, 20 February 2018 01:20 Written by

South African stocks index rose as much as five per cent on Thursday, putting the main index on track for its biggest one-day gain in more than three years.

The currency remained on the front foot, soaring to its firmest since early 2015, in the wake of Zuma’s exit.

Analysts have, however, warned the rally faces serious obstacles ahead of a budget speech next Wednesday.

Zuma quit late on Wednesday, reluctantly heeding orders by the ruling African National Congress ( ANC ) to bring an end to a nine-year tenure punctuated by scandals, stagnant economic growth and policy uncertainty.

As at 1530 GMT, the blue chip Top-40 index surged four per cent to 52,665 points, pulling back from a high of 53,072 achieved earlier but still on course for its biggest one-day gain since Sept. 2015.

The broader All-share index was up by 3.72 per cent at 59,533 points.

“The big news is that Zuma has now resigned and that has created a lot of euphoria.

“South African incorporated, banks, retailers and the like are all looking sharply better as a result,” said Independent Securities’ trader Ryan Woods.

South African banks considered the barometer of both economic and political sentiment were a feature on the gainers’ list.

The banking index surged 5.8 per cent with Nedbank rising 5.37 per cent and rival FirstRand up 6.4 per cent.

Banks have largely borne the brunt of Zuma’s policy decisions that included the sacking of two respected finance ministers, Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan.

That, along with a weak economy, contributed to sovereign credit ratings downgrades to junk by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch.

In reaction to Zuma’s resignation, ratings agency Moody’s said it was focused on the new leadership’s response to economic challenges. S&P Global Ratings said the leadership change would not immediately affect the credit status.

Cyril Ramaphosa, former chairman of African biggest telecoms operator MTN Group, was sworn in as president on Thursday.

Ramaphosa, who has vowed to fight corruption and revitalise the economy, is seen by business leaders and investors as well placed to turn around the economy.

South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to grow by less than one percent this year.

Another key issue facing the 65-year-old president is policy uncertainty in South Africa’s mining industry, an important economic engine, which has been fighting in court with Zuma’s mines minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, over an increase in black ownership targets.

But some analysts said that the former union leader’s to-do list is way too long to make an immediate impact.

In the foreign exchange market, the rand advanced to levels last seen in February 2015.

“The good gains the rand has made could be extended toward 11.55/dollar, and move toward 11.00/dollar baring any further credit rating downgrades for S.A. and a credit positive budget,” said Investec’s Chief Analyst Annabel Bishop in a note.

At 1515 GMT, the rand was at 11.6600 against the dollar, having reached a session-best of 11.6025 earlier per cent stronger than its New York overnight close and at levels last seen in Feb.  2015.

“The economy is coming off an extremely low base so there is good chance the optimism will be around for some time, but Ramaphosa has to very soon move from the honeymoon phase to the doing phase,” said Chief Executive of Canon Assets Management Adrian Saville.

Posted On Friday, 16 February 2018 01:10 Written by

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will arraign the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Yakubu Umar, in connection with alleged N10million bribery scam on March 16.

He was alleged to have demanded for the bribe from a former Comptroller of Customs, Mr. Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo.

Umar will be arraigned at the High Court of Federal Capital Territory.

In the charge sheet, marked CR/109/18, the CCT chairman was alleged to have collected N1.8million bribe, suspected to be part of the N10million through his Personal Assistant, Alhaji Gambo Abdullahi.

The suspect will be prosecuted by Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN) on behalf of the Federal Government.

Posted On Wednesday, 14 February 2018 22:18 Written by

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka on Tuesday said Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari is under a trance in view of wanton insecurity that has engulfed the nation, especially the herdsmen crisis.

Soyinka, who was answering questions during a press conference at the Freedom Park on Lagos Island, Lagos  said if he had an opportunity of meeting President Buhari today, he would tell him that he is under a trance.

Soyinka emphasised that the sooner the president got out of the trance, the better for the nation.

He also lamented that the president was committing lots of unforced errors, saying he could not imagine why Buhari should reinstate the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Umar Yusuf who was suspended over questionable circumstances and was being investigated.

Addressing newsmen on the herdsmen crisis in the country, Soyinka decried the onerous and total failure of the Federal Government to protect the lives and properties of the masses as herdsmen had gone on killing spree across the country.

He described as unacceptable and irresponsibly the nonchalant attitude of the government in handling the herdsmen crisis, saying that it had reached a point where the people would have to protect themselves.

Soyinka also decried series of cow invasion of his premises and some other parts of the Southwest State, saying that he had reported to the police several times but warned that next time cows invaded his territory, there might be suya feast.

The Nobel laureate called for organised resistance against herdsmen invasion in territories in order to avert the wanton killings that occurred in Benue State and some other states in recent times.

Soyinka urged voluntary organisations and associations like hunter associations to form themselves into groups to disarm any herdsmen found with arms.

According to him, once a herdsman was found with weapon, the police should first be reported to for prompt action and that if the police failed to act, the voluntary organisations, such as Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, hunter associations and others should move in to disarm such herdsman or herdsmen.

He charged the various associations to intensify surveillance to nip in the bud herdsmen invasion in their communities in the Southwest if the police could not do their jobs properly, leaving the people with no choice than to defend themselves.

Soyinka further said the crisis between farmers and herdsmen was not new, noting that the way the crisis had been ignored in recent times had created problems.

“We need to understand that the confrontation between farmers and the cattle rearers are not new. But the issue of concern is the way the attack had been handled by the government and the lies that followed after the attacks, especially from remarks from the public officeholders, especially from the Minister of Defense.

“Can one imagine the minister of defense opening his mouth to utter words in support
for the attacks perpetrated by the herdsmen across the country? With those words, why is that man still in office? What sought of government is that?”

Soyinka also kicked against the proposed establishment of colonies as a way of solving the herdsmen/farmers crisis, saying that ranching was preferably as it was being done in other parts of the world, adding that no business should warrant killings of people for whatever reason.

“Establishment of ranches is the solution that many countries have adopted to prevent clashes between these two set of people. There is something I called governance body language.  The body language of the government is sad and it has allowed the attack to
continue for long. The long term planning proposed by the Federal Government has not gone hand in hand with the security necessity,” he stated.

The Nobel laureate also said there were lots of stolen money in the  system which disgruntled elements could use to destabilise the nation, especially when the 2019 elections were around the corner.

Soyinka also backed the introduction of State Police, saying it could help in solving the herdsmen crisis, adding that a situation where there is centralise police system had not helped the system.

 
 
Posted On Wednesday, 14 February 2018 04:18 Written by

A former Minister of Internal Affairs during the administration of President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Gen. John Shagaya, has been reported dead.

Although details of the incident were still sketchy, The PUNCH learnt that he died on Sunday in an auto crash while traveling from Lantang to Jos, Plateau State.

His corpse has been reportedly taken to the mortuary.

Shagaya was, before his death, chairman, Governing Board of National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru in Jos; and his last public assignment was about two weeks ago in Abuja.

Wreckage of Gen. Shagaya’s car

When contacted to speak on the accident, the spokesperson of Plateau State Police Command, Matthias Tyopev, said, “I don’t want to speculate, please leave me out of it, I beg. You are the one telling me.”

But the President of Middle Belt Youth Council, Emma Zopmal, confirmed the incident to The PUNCH.

He said, “Yes, it is true. Shagaya was involved in auto crash while coming to Jos from Lantang.

“One of the front tyres of his car burst and he died. You can quote me.

“My friend, Satmak, who was very close to him and the family was the one that called to tell me that John Shagaya is dead.

“I intended calling the family, but I have been so busy.”

Shagaya’s childhood friend, Gen. John Temlong, also confirmed the death to our correspondent.

A close friend of Shagaya family who did not want to be named also confirmed his death.

Wreckage of Gen. Shagaya’s car

He said, “it is true that Shagaya is dead. We have received calls from prominent elders in Tarok ethnic nationality and Lantang.

“Being a big man and title holder, maybe his people want a Tarok person to speak. Unfortunately, they don’t have a traditional ruler for now.”

Posted On Sunday, 11 February 2018 20:06 Written by

There is an influx of Tiv residents from Nasarawa State into Benue State, following sustained attacks by suspected Fulani militia.

Suspected Fulani herdsmen are said to have launched attacks on Tiv indigenes in Nasarawa State.

The busy Lafia/Makurdi road has been overtaken by victims of Fulani attacks who are heading towards Benue.

Areas mostly affected are Kadarko, Awe town and the border communities.

Women with children on their back were seen trekking long distances, looking tired and hungry. Some of the children were half-naked, just as men carrying mattresses and personal belongings also fled.

A Nursing mother, Juliana Uma, said her husband and two children were killed after suspected herdsmen attacked their village.

She said she doesn’t know where she was going, but just fleeing for her life.

“Since they killed my husband and children I have to run for my life,” she said.

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom said there are seven IDPs camps with over 100,000 people there. He appealed to the Federal Government to assist with relief materials.

Posted On Thursday, 08 February 2018 00:56 Written by

•Trial for March 14

Former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Olisa Metuh was brought to court yesterday on a stretcher in compliance with an order of a Federal High Court, Abuja that he must attend court or have his bail revoked.

Justice Okon Abang, in a ruling on January 25, rejected a medical report tendered by Metuh’s lawyers, claiming he was on admission in a hospital.

Instead, the judge ordered Metuh to attend court yesterday or have the bail earlier granted him revoked.

In compliance with that order, his lawyer ensured he was brought to court early yesterday in a white ambulance, belonging to the National Hospital, Abuja.

He was later taken into the courtroom on a stretcher, with the assistance of some medical personnel, friends and relations.

He was covered with a white cloth, with an opening only in his head area, possibly to allow him breathe. He had bandage on his legs and neck area.

Metuh and his company, Destra Investment Limited, are being tried on allegations of corruption and money laundering.

When proceedings opened, Metuh’s lawyer Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) told the court that his client was in court in obedience to the court’s order, but was not in a good state to stand trial.

He sought a month’s adjournment within which he said Metuh would have been fit enough to stand trial.

Lawyer to Destra Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN) agreed with Ikpeazu’s position.

Lead prosecution lawyer Sylvanus Tahir said he appreciated the first defendant’s (Metuh’s) health condition, having seen the manner he was brought to court.

Tahir said he was not opposed to the defence’s request for adjournment for a month.

He noted that none of the papers tendered by the defence suggested the length of time that the first defendant will be hospitalised, but added: “We leave the decision about the time to the discretion of the court.

“May I disabuse the mind of everybody (the court, the gallery and the defence team) that we are prosecutors, not persecutors. And in doing that, we have no ill-will or ill-feeling against anybody,” Tahir said.

Ikpeazu appreciated Tahir for his understanding. And, as regard when his client will be fit for trial, he said the doctors were not categorical.

He said: “We believe that within the one month that we have asked, and we pray extensively to that effect, that the first defendant should be fit to continue with his trial.

“That period is a reasonable period for the medical doctors to enter a proper evaluation and assessment of the state of health of the first defendant. We fervently hope and pray that he will be fit to continue with this trial,” Ikpeazu said.

Justice Abang , in his ruling, said he was mindful of granting the adjournment sought by Metuh’s lawyer in view of his state of health and since the prosecution did not oppose the request for adjournment.

The judge added: “A court of law must be firm in its decision. A court of law must be fair to parties in a matter placed before it. And, when occasion demands, a court of law must also be humane.

“I have seen the condition that the first defendant is in the courtroom. On the account of the condition in which I have seen the first defendant in the courtroom, I am inclined to exercise my discretion in his favour in adjourning this matter, at his instance, to enable him receive medical treatment.”

Justice Abang adjourned to March 14 for possible continuation of trial in the case.

At the conclusion of proceedings around 10.15am, Metuh was again moved out of the courtroom, still on the stretcher, into the ambulance stationed close to the court’s main entrance.

Posted On Tuesday, 06 February 2018 04:03 Written by
Barely two weeks after a similar advice, ex-Military President, Ibrahim Babangida has asked President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019.
He urged Buhari to complete his first term and allow a new generation of leaders to take control of the affiars of the nation.
Babangida gave the advice in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday through his media aide, Prince Kassim Afegbua.
 
“In the fullness of our present realities, we need to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his term of office on May 29th, 2019 and collectively prepare the way for new generation leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country.
 
“While offering this advice, I speak as a stakeholder, former president, concerned Nigerian and a patriot who desires to see new paradigms in our shared commitment to get this country running. While saying this also, I do not intend to deny President Buhari his inalienable right to vote and be voted for, but there comes a time in the life of a nation, when personal ambition should not override national interest,” Bababgida stated.
 
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo in a recent statement advised President Buhari against re-contesting for the presidency in 2019.
 

FULL TEXT OF IBB'S STATEMENT: 

TOWARDS A NATIONAL REBIRTH

In the past few months and weeks, I have played host to many concerned Nigerians who have continued to express legitimate and patriotic worry about the state of affairs in the country. Some of them have continued to agonize about the turn of events and expressly worried why we have not gotten our leadership compass right as a country with so much potential and opportunity for all. Some, out of frustration, have elected to interrogate the leadership question and wondered aloud why it has taken this long from independence till date to discover the right model on account of our peculiarities. At 57, we are still a nation in search of the right leadership to contend with the dynamics of a 21st century Nigeria.

Having been privileged to preside over this great country, interacted with all categories of persons, dissected all shades of opinions, understudied different ethnic groupings; I can rightfully conclude that our strength lies in our diversity. But exploring and exploiting that diversity as a huge potential has remained a hard nut to crack, not because we have not made efforts, but building a consensus on any national issue often has to go through the incinerator of those diverse ethnic configurations. Opinions in Nigeria are not limited to the borders of the political elite; in fact, every Nigerian no matter how young or old, has an opinion on any national issue. And it is the function of discerning leadership to understand these elemental undercurrents in the discharge of state responsibilities.

WHERE WE ARE

There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria is at a major crossroads at this moment in its history; the choices we are going to make as a nation regarding the leadership question of this country and the vision for our political, economic and religious future will be largely determined by the nature or kind of change that we pursue, the kind of change that we need and the kind of change that we get. A lot depends on our roles both as followers and leaders in our political undertakings. As we proceed to find the right thesis that would resolve the leadership question, we must bear in mind a formula that could engender national development and the undiluted commitment of our leaders to a resurgence of the moral and ethical foundations that brought us to where we are as a pluralistic and multi-ethnic society.

Nigeria, before now, has been on the one hand our dear native land, where tribes and tongues may differ but in brotherhood we stand, and on the other hand a nation that continues to struggle with itself and in every way stumbling and willful in its quest to become a modern state, starting from the first republic till date. With our huge investments in the African emancipation movements and the various contributions that were made by our leadership to extricate South Africa from colonial grip, Nigeria became the giant of Africa during that period. But having gone through leadership failures, we no longer possess the sobriety to claim that status. And we all are guilty.

We have experimented with Parliamentary and Presidential systems of government amid military interregnum at various times of our national history. We have made some progress, but not good enough to situate us on the pedestal we so desirously crave for. It is little wonder therefore that we need to deliberately provoke systems and models that will put paid to this recycling leadership experimentation to embrace new generational leadership evolution with the essential attributes of responsive, responsible and proactive leadership configuration to confront the several challenges that we presently face.

In 2019 and beyond, we should come to a national consensus that we need new breed leadership with requisite capacity to manage our diversities and jump-start a process of launching the country on the super highway of technology-driven leadership in line with the dynamics of modern governance. It is short of saying enough of this analogue system. Let’s give way for digital leadership orientation with all the trappings of consultative, constructive, communicative, interactive and utility-driven approach where everyone has a role to play in the process of enthroning accountability and transparency in governance.

I am particularly enamored that Nigerians are becoming more and more conscious of their rights; and their ability to speak truth to power and interrogate those elected to represent them without fear of arrest and harassment. These are part of the ennobling principles of representative democracy. As citizens in a democracy, it is our civic responsibility to demand accountability and transparency. Our elected leaders owe us that simple but remarkable accountability creed. Whenever we criticize them, it is not that we do not like their guts; it is just that as stakeholders in the political economy of the country, we also carry certain responsibilities.

In the past few months also, I have taken time to reflect on a number of issues plaguing the country. I get frightened by their dimensions. I get worried by their colourations. I get perplexed by their gory themes. From Southern Kaduna to Taraba state, from Benue state to Rivers, from Edo state to Zamfara, it has been a theatre of blood with cake of crimson. In Dansadau in Zamfara state recently, North-West of Nigeria, over 200 souls were wasted for no justifiable reason. The pogrom in Benue state has left me wondering if truly this is the same country some of us fought to keep together. I am alarmed by the amount of blood-letting across the land. Nigeria is now being described as a land where blood flows like river, where tears have refused to dry up. Almost on a daily basis, we are both mourning and grieving, and often times left helpless by the sophistication of crimes. The Boko Haram challenge has remained unabated even though there has been commendable effort by government to maximally downgrade them. I will professionally advise that the battle be taken to the inner fortress of Sambisa Forest rather than responding to the insurgents’ ambushes from time to time.

 

THINKING ALOUD

In the fullness of our present realities, we need to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his term of office on May 29th, 2019 and collectively prepare the way for new generation leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country. While offering this advice, I speak as a stakeholder, former president, concerned Nigerian and a patriot who desires to see new paradigms in our shared commitment to get this country running. While saying this also, I do not intend to deny President Buhari his inalienable right to vote and be voted for, but there comes a time in the life of a nation, when personal ambition should not override national interest. This is the time for us to reinvent the will and tap into the resourcefulness of the younger generation, stimulate their entrepreneurial initiatives and provoke a conduce environment to grow national economy both at the micro and macro levels.

Contemporary leadership has to be proactive and not reactive. It must factor in citizens’ participation. Its language of discourse must be persuasive not agitated and abusive. It must give room for confidence building. It must build consensus and form aggregate opinion on any issue to reflect the wishes of the people across the country. It must gauge the mood of the country at every point in time in order to send the right message. It must share in their aspirations and give them cause to have confidence in the system. Modern leadership is not just about “fighting” corruption, it is about plugging the leakages and building systems that will militate against corruption. Accountability in leadership should flow from copious examples. It goes beyond mere sloganeering. My support for a new breed leadership derives from the understanding that it will show a marked departure from recycled leadership to creating new paradigms that will breathe fresh air into our present polluted leadership actuality.

My intervention in the governance process of Nigeria wasn’t an accident of history. Even as a military government, we had a clear-cut policy agenda on what we needed to achieve. We recruited some of the best brains and introduced policies that remain some of the best in our effort to re-engineer our polity and nation. We saw the future of Nigeria but lack of continuity in government and of policies killed some of our intentions and initiatives. Even though we did not provide answers to all the developmental challenges that confronted us as at that time, we were not short of taking decisions whenever the need arose.

GROWING INSECURITY ON OUR HANDS

The unchecked activities of the herdsmen have continued to raise doubt on the capacity of this government to handle with dispatch, security concerns that continue to threaten our dear nation; suicide bombings, kidnappings, armed banditry, ethnic clashes and other divisive tendencies. We need to bring different actors to the roundtable. Government must generate platform to interact and dialogue on the issues with a view to finding permanent solutions to the crises. The festering nature of this crisis is an inelegant testimony to the sharp divisions and polarizations that exist across the country. For example, this is not the first time herdsmen engage in pastoral nomadism but the anger in the land is suggestive of the absence of mutual love and togetherness that once defined our nationality. We must collectively rise up to the occasion and do something urgently to arrest this drift. If left unchecked, it portends danger to our collective existence as one nation bound by common destiny; and may snowball into another internecine warfare that would not be good for nation-building.

We have to reorient the minds of the herdsmen or gun-men to embrace ranching as a new and modern way to herd cattle. We also need to expand the capacity of the Nigeria Police, the Nigeria Army, the Navy and Air Force to provide the necessary security for all. We need to catch up with modern sophistication in crime detection and crime fighting. Due to the peculiarity of our country, we must begin community policing to close the gaps that presently exist in our policing system. We cannot continue to use old methods and expect new results. We just have to constructively engage the people from time to time through platforms that would help them ventilate their opinions and viewpoints.

THE CHANGE MANTRA

When the ruling party campaigned with the change mantra, I had thought they would device new methods, provoke new initiatives and proffer new ways to addressing some of our developmental problems. By now, in line with her manifesto, one would have thought that the APC will give fillip to the idea of devolution of powers and tinker with processes that would strengthen and reform the various sectors of the economy. Like I did state in my previous statement late last year, devolution of power or restructuring is an idea whose time has come if we must be honest with ourselves. We need to critically address the issue and take informed positions based on the expectations of the people on how to make the union work better. Political parties should not exploit this as a decoy to woo voters because election time is here. We need to begin the process of restructuring both in the letter and spirit of it.

For example, I still cannot reconcile why my state government would not be allowed to fix the Minna-Suleja road, simply because it is called Federal Government road, or why state governments cannot run their own policing system to support the Federal Police. We are still experiencing huge infrastructural deficit across the country and one had thought the APC-led Federal Government would behave differently from their counterparts in previous administrations. I am hesitant to ask; where is the promised change?

LOOKING AHEAD

At this point of our national history, we must take some rather useful decisions that would lead to real development and promote peaceful co-existence among all the nationalities. We must be unanimous in what we desire for our country; new generation leadership, result-driven leadership, sound political foundation, demonetization of our politics, enhanced internal democracy, elimination of impunity in our politics, inclusiveness in decision-making, and promotion of citizens’ participation in our democratic process. The search for that new breed leadership must start now as we prepare for 2019 election.

I get worried when politicians visit to inform me about their aspirations and what you hear in terms of budgetary allocations for electoral contest does not cover voters’ education but very ridiculous sub-heads. A typical aspirant in Nigeria draws up budget to cover INEC, Police, Army and men and officers of the Civil Defense, instead of talking of voters’ education, mobilization and sensitization. Even where benchmarks are set for electoral expenditure, monitoring and compliance are always difficult to adhere to. We truly need to reform the political system. And we must deliberately get fresh hands involved for improved participation.

We need new ways and new approaches in our political order. We need a national rebirth. We need a rebranded Nigeria and rebranded politics. It is not so much for the people, but for the institutions that are put in place to promote our political engagements. We must strengthen the one man one vote mantra. It is often ridiculous for me when people use smaller countries in our West Africa sub-region as handy references of how democracy should be. It beggars our giant of Africa status.

The next election in 2019 therefore presents us a unique opportunity to reinvent the will and provoke fresh leadership that would immediately begin the process of healing the wounds in the land and ensuring that the wishes and aspirations of the people are realized in building and sustaining national cohesion and consensus. I pray the Almighty Allah grant us the gift of good life to witness that glorious dawn in 2019. Amen. I have not written an open letter to the President, I have just shared my thoughts with fellow compatriots on the need to enthrone younger blood into the mainstream of our political leadership starting from 2019.

Posted On Sunday, 04 February 2018 15:45 Written by

• Ex-minister writes EFCC, says “I’ll be available on February 19th”
• Anti-corruption agency quizzes Sen. Nwaoboshi over N2.1b failed contracts, 30 undeclared accounts

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) appears to be running out of patience with former Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, over an alleged N9.4billion curious contract involving her.

The agency believes she has been playing a ‘hide and seek’ game over repeated invitations to her for questioning in respect of the allegation.

She may be declared wanted if she continues to be evasive, The Nation gathered yesterday, although sources said she had informed the EFCC of her intention to now make herself available on February 19.

The anti-graft agency has already interrogated Senator Peter Nwaoboshi for alleged N2.1b failed contracts, securing questionable loan from NEXIM Bank and operating 30 accounts without declaring same to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Reliable sources said yesterday that Oduah had been invited thrice in the last seven months over the security contract only for her to fail to turn up on each occasion.

This development informed the decision of the EFCC to consider the option of declaring her wanted.

The former minister, according to a fact sheet sighted by The Nation, is wanted by the EFCC in “respect of investigation into a N9, 443,549,531.25 contract awarded to I-Sec Security Nigeria Limited for the procurement and installation of security equipment in 22 airports across the country.

“The contract was awarded when she held sway as Minister of Aviation in the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

“There were issues surrounding the contract, including alleged non-execution of the project in some airports, abandonment of the contract in a few ones, diversion of part of the contract sum and suspected case of money laundering.

“These are allegations she is expected to respond to in order to clear the air on the security contract. She is only expected to explain her roles.”

Attempts to interrogate Oduah over the last seven months have failed following excuses from her.

An EFCC source said:  “ She was invited on three different occasions to report for interview on the 13th June, 2017, 29th June 2017 and 13th November 2017 but she failed to honour any of the invitations.

“Rather than appear to face a panel that was raised by the EFCC to interrogate her, Oduah, through a letter dated  January 5, 2018, informed the commission that she would  honour the invite on January 29, 2018.

“The letter was duly acknowledged by the commission and just as the investigators were looking forward to her arrival, Oduah played a fast one on the EFCC with another letter indicating that she would no longer be available on January 29.

“She cited an invitation by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu to accompany him to London where he was scheduled to deliver a lecture at the House of Commons on January 25.

“Oduah stated that her next convenient date to honour your invitation is 19th February, 2018”.

The source said it was obvious that this suspect “is not willing to submit herself to the Commission for interview in relation to the ongoing investigation, which leaves the Commission with a few options.”

The source added: “The Commission has been very patient with her but she may be declared wanted if she continues this hide and seek game”.

It was also  gathered that after several efforts, the EFCC has succeeded in  interrogating Senator Peter Nwaoboshi  over alleged failed N2.1b contracts;  obtaining loan from NEXIM Bank while still on the board of the bank; and for operating 30 accounts without declaring same to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

A source said: “As regards your enquiry, Nwaoboshi finally presented himself for interrogation by the Commission on 27 November, 2017  and, for two days , was grilled by operatives of the Commission on sundry allegations bordering on abuse of office, criminal breach of trust and under declaration of assets.”

Nwaoboshi, who represents Delta North in the Senate, is alleged to have “used his company, Bilderberg Enterprises Limited, to secure contracts worth N2.1 billion to supply new equipment to two agencies of Delta State Government but defrauded the state in the execution of the contract by importing and supplying used equipment which he passed off as new.”

He is also accused of laundering the proceeds of alleged criminal activity to acquire properties in Delta State and Lagos.

Listed among such properties are a 12-storey building at Apapa in Lagos belonging to Delta State Government which Nwaoboshi bought for N805million and an N800million warehouse at Apapa Wharf, Lagos

The 12-storey building property was allegedly acquired through one of his companies, Golden Touch Construction Project Limited.

The warehouse is already subject of interim forfeiture by the EFCC.

Continuing, the source said: “besides, Senator Nwaoboshi allegedly diverted proceeds of a NEXIM loan to acquiring properties, objectives which contravene the conditions for which the facility was granted in the first place.

“The senator equally failed to disclose his interest in about 30 bank accounts in the assets declaration form.

“Preliminary findings indicated that he has a case to answer. So, he might face trial accordingly.”

 

Posted On Sunday, 04 February 2018 02:20 Written by
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