Sunday, 25 February 2018

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Sunday, 04 February 2018 23:07

2019: IBB denies statement on Buhari

Former President I brahim Babangida has denied a widely circulated statement in which he urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election  in the 2019 election.

The statement was issued on his behalf by his media Prince Kassim Afegbua.

Babangida  said he has unfettered channel of communication with the highest authorities in the country and does not need to resort to what he called “sensational public correspondence”

According to Babangida, the views  expressed statement  are personal views of the writer.

The statement containing Babangida’s denial is reproduced below:

MY COUNSEL TO THE NATION–BY GENERAL IBRAHIM BADAMASI BABANGIDA, GCFR

Distinguished Members of the Fourth estate of the realm.

It has been drawnd to my attention a press statement on the State of the nation, particularly 2019 general elections and beyond.

Let me categorically state that as former President and Statesman, I have unfettered channel of communication with the highest authorities without sensational public correspondence, therefore those views  expressed over there are personal views of the writer.

However, with due respect to individual opinion and constitutional rights,  it is worrisome that Political events and civil unrest in many part of the country, has raised many questions on the governance and unity. Indeed 2018 is inundated with seasons of literatures on the corporate existence of this country. Many of such literatures have shown concerns of the corporate existence of Nigeria beyond 2019 general elections.

It will be recalled, that in my message to this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, I specifically expressed the dire need for proactive measures to stop farmers/herders clashes in the middle belt, Cattle rustling, armed robbery, Kidnapping, gangsterism and Cultism. Our security agencies have to step up surveillance with more efforts on intelligence gathering for maximum success.

Recent happenings and utterances by political gladiators is alarming and not in the interest of common man that is already overstretched and apparently living from hand to mouth due to precarious economic conditions. Despite all these challenges, I am optimistic that the political actors will play within the ambits of political norms and decorum to ameliorate the problems facing our society now.

I am a realist that believes in all issues in a democratic atmosphere are sincerely discussed and resolved in the spirit of give and take. Since after  my military years that metamorphosed to the only Military President in the history of Nigeria and my civilian life, I always have one clear objective that freedom can only be achieved through democracy. Some people find this freedom as an avenue for eroding democracy by antics of hate speeches under the guise of religion, tribal or self imposed mentorship. This trend of pitching political class and the people is unhealthy and skewed.

The clamour for re-alignment of governance in the country as we are approaching 2019 election year is a welcome development only if the agitations are genuinely channeled through legislation and total supremacy of the constitution . Any attempt outside this circle of democratic tenants is deceptive and divisive idea capable of plunging our political journey into disarray.

Our present political parties and their structures need parameter pillars that will make them more strong with unique ideologies. However, our present political parties need surgical operation that will fusion them in to a reasonable numbers. I have been an advocate of two party systems but in our present reality in Nigeria, our political parties can fusion into strong political association/party that can form a formidable opposition to a ruling party.

As students of history, we are aware that many advanced democracies have two distinct ideological political parties, with a handful of smaller political parties that serve as buffer whenever any of the known political parties derailed or became unpopular. I still believe in two party systems as the best option for Nigeria.

It is high time that, we dialogue more on any issue in order to have a political solution on any problem affecting us. It is sad that, Nigeria had its fare share of conflicts, and we cannot continue to fall back to those dark years of bloodshed.

As a people, now is the time to come together to address all Communal conflicts and criminality under any guise to further unite the country in line with the vision of our founding fathers so that as a nation, we can forge ahead in the task of building a more prosperous nation.

SIGNED:

GENERAL IBRAHIM BADAMASI BABANGIDA GCFR, FORMER MILITARY PRESIDENT & COMMANDER IN-CHIEF OF NIGERIAN ARMED FORCES.

1 UPHILL DRIVE, MINNA.

SUNDAY, 04TH FEBRUARY, 2018.

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.

There seem to be no let up on the scandals plaguing the National Intelligence Agency as another $202 million has been discovered to be missing from its coffers
 
Recall that first there was the issue of $43 million found in an Ikoyi, Lagos apartment said to belong to the NIA, Then there was the $44 million allegedly missing from the NIA’s coffers which the House  of Representatives mandated its committee on Public Safety and National Security to investigate.
 
Chairman of the Committee , Hon. Aminu Sani Jaji (APC Zamfara) said while investigating the missing $44 million as mandated by the House, a stunning discovery came to light that an additional $202 million is missing from the coffers of the NIA.
 
In a post-meeting briefing with reporters at the weekend, the committee chair said it was discovered that a total of $289 million was given to the NIA by the Goodluck Jonathan administration for ” intervention”
 
According to him, the money was not appropriated by the National Assembly for the Agency.  “The NIA got the money for ‘intervention’ from the past administration. For whatever reason, the past DG, Ayo Oke failed to disclose to the present administration that we have this amount of money.,” he said.
 
He further said: “Even the National Security Adviser, said it was when our  committee began its investigation, they got the information that the NIA got $289million.
 
“You know we had a meeting with the NSA today ( Friday) we later discovered since last week in our meeting with the past Acting DG NIA that the $44 million is not missing.
 
“For now, I can categorically tell you the money is not missing. They only moved the money from one agency to another place pending when all the issues surrounding the agency is resolved.
 
“If you remember, there was this $44million which is among the $289million approved to the then Director-General, that is Ayo Oke. Just April last year, they discovered $43million in Ikoyi. He tried to say that the $44 million and $43million are part of the $289million.
 
But  for us, we are still working to see where the remaining $202 million was placed. We only know about the $43million now, the one discovered in Ikoyi and the $44 million in their vault. In the course of our investigation, we’ll come up with where the $289m really is, not the $43m and not the $44m but the entire amount.
 
“For me, the money($202million) is still missing. If you subtract $43million and $44million from $289million, then where is the balance? That’s why we’re where we are today. That is why we have to intensify our investigation.
 
On the issue of the citizenship of the the new DG of NIA Abubakar Rufai Ibrahim and his wife, Jaji said by the referral of the House to the committee, the circumstances surrounding his appointment was discussed.
 
“One of the issues is that some are saying he has dual citizenship, but he said to us categorically that his father is from Katsina and he (his father) after sometime decided to migrate from Katsina to Chad. His mother is a Nigerian, and his wife too is a Nigerian.
“He even showed us the approval of the then DG that he was allowed to marry her. I think she’s Fadilah by name. She’s from Katsina. She did her secondary school in Sandamu.
 
“According to the documents supplied to us, he said really he did his primary school in Chad, but he did secondary school in Nigeria and his first degree was in BUK. We saw all that.
 
Jaji said his committee also discussed the allegations that he failed his promotion exams with the new DG.
 
“Not only that but we also saw all the promotion exams that he went through when he was in service. He passed all the promotion exams that we saw in his file. We also saw that he retired not as an assistant director but as a deputy director.
 
“According to him, he retired voluntarily, that’s what we saw in the retirement notification in his file.

Arsenal’s record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored on his debut and Aaron Ramsey hit a hat-trick in a swaggering 5-1 rout of woeful Everton on Saturday.

Aubameyang vowed to emulate Arsenal legend Thierry Henry after arriving from Borussia Dortmund for £56 million ($79 million, 63 million euros) this week.

While it is too soon for such lofty comparisons, the Gabon striker certainly made the perfect first impression at the Emirates Stadium.

Aubameyang, recovered from an illness that had placed his debut in doubt, capped an exhilarating first half from Arsenal with a composed finish to put his side four goals ahead.

Ramsey had opened the scoring and Laurent Koscielny increased Arsenal’s lead before Ramsey struck again to make it three goals in the first 19 minutes.

Aubameyang’s lively debut was aided by three assists from Henrikh Mkhitaryan in his first Arsenal start.

Wales midfielder Ramsey completed his treble in the second half and the only angst for Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was the sight of goalkeeper Petr Cech limping off injured.

Sixth-placed Arsenal are now five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who face Watford on Monday, in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish.

Wenger had bemoaned Arsenal’s defending in their wretched 3-1 loss at Swansea on Tuesday, but the two changes he made were both attack-minded as Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan came in.

Aubameyang replaced misfiring France striker Alexandre Lacazette, who has only one goal in his last 12 appearances.

Lacazette had been Arsenal’s record signing until the Aubameyang swoop, but while he has struggled to live up to expectations, Aubameyang quickly set about repaying his hefty transfer fee — with help from an old friend.

Mkhitaryan was making his home debut after arriving from Manchester United as part of the deal that sent Alexis Sanchez to Old Trafford.

Mkhitaryan rarely showed his best form with United, but he and Aubameyang had formed a deadly double act during their time at Dortmund and they were back in the groove as Arsenal took a sixth-minute lead.

When Aubameyang slipped a pass into Mkhitaryan, the midfielder whipped over a superb cross that invited Ramsey, timing his run perfectly, to slot past Jordan Pickford from close-range for his first goal since October.

Aubameyang joins party
Mkhitaryan went close to doubling Arsenal’s lead moments later with a fierce strike that whistled wide from the edge of the area.

Lethargic Everton were unable to stem the tide and Wenger’s men didn’t have to wait long to claim their second goal in the 14th minute.

Shkodran Mustafi met Mesut Ozil’s corner with a header towards the far post, where Koscielny stooped to head home from close-range.

Everton’s dismal display was ruining Sam Allardyce’s 500th match as a Premier League manager and there was worse to come in the 19th minute.

Afforded time and space by Everton’s statuesque rearguard, Ramsey unloaded a 25-yard strike that took a deflection off Toffees debutant Eliaquim Mangala on its way past the wrong-footed Pickford.

With Arsenal threatening every time they went forward, Aubameyang, who also scored on his Bundesliga debut, was able to join the party in the 37th minute.

Mkhitaryan’s pass split the Everton defence and, although Aubameyang looked offside, the linesman’s flag stayed down as the debutant clipped a deft finish over Pickford.

It was another remarkable goal blitz from Arsenal, who scored four times in the first 22 minutes of their previous home league game against Crystal Palace.

Everton’s capitulation made it a depressing return for Theo Walcott, who was subbed midway through the second half of his first return to Arsenal since his January transfer.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin got one back for Everton with a 64th header, but there was still time for Ramsey to strike again with a low finish from Mkhitaryan’s pass in the 74th minute.

• 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.”

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has filed a two-count charge against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Yakubu Umar, in connection with an alleged N10million bribery scam.

Umar reportedly demanded for the bribe from a former Comptroller of Customs, Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo.

Umar is due to face trial in 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, Ali Gambo Abdullahi.

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

The charges read in part: “That you, Danladi Yakubu Umar, being the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal and presiding over a case with Charge No. CCT/ABJ/03/12, involving one Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo, sometime in 2012, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did ask for the sum of N10million  from the said Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo, for a favour to be afterwards shown to him in relation to the pending Charge (No. CCT/ABJ/03/12) in discharge of your official duties and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 12(1) (a) & (b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2003.

“That you, Danladi Yakubu Umar, being the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal and presiding over a case with Charge No. CCT/ABJ/03/12, involving one Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo, sometime in 2012, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did receive the sum of N1,8million from the said Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo, through your Personal Assistant by name Alhaji Gambo Abdullahi, for a favour to be afterwards shown to him in relation to the pending Charge (No. CCT/ABJ/03/12) in discharge of your official duties and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 12(1) (a) & (b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2003.

With five witnesses already lined up, the EFCC said it would rely on a petition dated 20th June, 2013, by Rasheed O. Taiwo; the statement of the CCT chairman; the Zenith Bank Statement of Taiwo Rasheed Owolabi.; the Zenith Bank Statement of Ali Gambo Abdullahi and a copy of Zenith Bank Cheque of Taiwo Rasheed Owolabi; a copy of Zenith Bank Cheque of Ali Gambo Abdullahi and all processes and documents in Charge No. CCT/ABJ/03/12.

The CCT chairman allegedly asked for the bribe from Taiwo, who was a retired Comptroller of Customs.

The ex-Customs officer was arraigned before the tribunal in Suit CCT/ABJ/03/12 for alleged failure to declare his assets.

But the judge was alleged to have asked for the bribe to throw away the case.

The ex-Customs Officer allegedly played along when he paid N1.8million out of the N10million bribe cash into the account of the Personal Assistant to the judge, Ali Gambo Abdullahi.

It was learnt that Ali Gambo Abdullahi, had appeared before EFCC more than 20 times since 2012 on the matter.

It was not clear what accounted for the charges against the CCT chairman because the EFCC had claimed that the allegations against him were “insufficient” to establish a prima facie case.

But in 2016, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki asked the CCT chairman to disqualify himself from proceeding with his trial.

Saraki had queried Umar’s “moral standing” to try him because he has been under investigation by the EFCC for alleged bribery scam.

A top source simply said: “We have reached a convenient stage in our investigation to put the CCT chairman on trial. This latest bend of findings supersedes our previous reports on him.

The EFCC had in a letter to the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim absolved Umar of bribery allegation.

“The letter signed by its ex-chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde said: “We refer to your letter ref. No. SGF.19./S.24/11/451 dated 23rd February 2015 on the above mentioned case reported by one Mr. Rasheed Taiwo (DCG rtd) of 6AB Milverton Road, Lagos against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar and his Personal Assistant, one Gambo Abdullahi.

“The complainant who is facing charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal alleged that Justice Umar made direct demand for the sum of N10 million to quash the charges sometime in 2012.

“He disclosed that he was compelled to pay the sum of N1.8 million after persistent inundation with phone calls from Justice Umar, who received the bribe through the Zenith Bank account of one Ali Gambo Abdullahi, his personal Assistant in December, 2012.

“Investigation was extended to one Hon. Justice G.A Oguntade (Rtd) who confirmed that the complainant informed him in 2012 of the issues he had at the Tribunal and the demand being made by Justice Umar. He disclosed that Justice Umar denied the allegation when he called him.

“There are indications that the Tribunal Chairman might have demanded and collected money from the complainant through his said Personal Assistant.

“However, efforts made to recover the telephone handset used by Justice Umar proved abortive, as he claimed that he had lost the telephone in 2012. This has made it impossible to subject it to independent scientific analysis with a view to corroborating the allegation.

“In the same vein, the complainant could also not make available his telephone set for analysis on the grounds that he had lost it. Justice Umar also admitted that he met privately with the complainant in his chamber at the Tribunal. This is a most unethical and highly suspicious conduct on his part.

“There is a prima facie evidence to however prosecute  the Personal  Assistant, Abdullahi, who could offer no coherent excuse for receiving N1.8million into his salary account from Taiwo, who is  an accused person standing trial at the tribunal.

“The full money has been recovered from him in May 2014 and aptly registered as exhibit. The fact that he made two contradictory statements on the reason he was paid the money, is clearly an attempt to cover up on the  reason the money was paid to him. He has  accordingly been charged to court in charge no. CR/137/2015 pending  at the High Court of FCT, Abuja.

“However the facts as they are now against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute him for the offence.

“Above is submitted for the information of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, please.”

Also, the Secretary to EFCC, Mr. Emamnuel Adegboyega Aremo, in another letter to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on April 20, 2016 exonerated Justice Danladi of corrupt practices.

The letter said: “We will like to reiterate the Commission’s position in regard to this matter as earlier communicated to you and state that the allegations leveled against Justice Umar were mere suspicions and consequently insufficient to successfully prosecute the offence.”

 
Saturday, 03 February 2018 18:24

City Falter In Title Race, Draw At Burnley

Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s late equaliser for Burnley denied Manchester City victory for only the fourth time in the Premier League this season as Pep Guardiola’s side paid the price for missing a host of chances.

City took the lead through a long-range Danilo strike but failed to turn their dominance into further goals.

BBC reports that Raheem Sterling was guilty of their worst miss when he failed to find the target from six yards after meeting Kyle Walker’s cross at the far post.

Burnley, lifted by a home crowd buoyed by Sterling’s miss, had gone close through Ben Mee and Aaron Lennon, who were both denied by brilliant Ederson saves, but there was no stopping Gudmundsson’s effort.

He ran into the box to meet Matthew Lowton’s cross with a powerful half-volley that City’s Brazilian goalkeeper got a hand to, but could not keep out.

City still extend their lead at the top of the table to 16 points, at least until nearest rivals Manchester United play Huddersfield later on Saturday.

Burnley have now gone nine league games without a win, but the manner of their comeback to hold the runaway leaders will give boss Sean Dyche something to smile about after a disappointing start to 2018.

 
 

An alumnus of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) now Rivers State University (RSU), Port Harcourt, Dame Judith Amaechi, who hails from Enugwu-Ukwu in Njikola Local Government Area of Anambra State, is the wife of Transportation Minister, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, a former Governor of Rivers State, who is an indigene of Ubima in Ikwerre LGA of the state. The ex-First Lady of Rivers State, in this interview with our Bureau Chief in Port Harcourt, BISI OLANIYI and FAITH YAHAYA, speaks about her relationship with a former Rivers Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, what motivated her to establish a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Empowerment Support Initiative (ESI), and the face-off between her husband,  and the incumbent Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, among other issues. Excerpts:

How was it, while you were growing up, considering the fact that you lost your mother at a very tender age?

I have never been asked this question in my life. I was privileged and it is a great opportunity to have grown up in a house of one of the most wonderful women I have ever met on earth, with her husband. She was everything to me. As a mother, she did the best and gave me the best of education. For me, it was just okay, while growing up.

Will it be correct to say that you had silver spoon in your mouth, while growing up?

Not quite. I grew up in a house where education was the main bane of sustenance for them. They believed so much in education. They also taught us discipline and morals. I will not say I was looking for food to eat, but I know that I had challenges, when sometimes there would be nothing, as much as children who were more privileged, but I just grew up in a normal house. My parents were both teachers and maybe civil servants.

You got married in 1993 to Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who was then the Special Assistant on Students’ Affairs to the then Governor of Rivers State, Chief Rufus Ada-George. How did he meet you? How did he propose to you and what was your reaction?

Oh, my goodness! Whaoooooo! We met for the first time in a wedding at Elekahia (Port Harcourt). Then I was still a JAMBITE, having been admitted to the then Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), now Rivers State University (RSU), Port Harcourt, where I was studying Urban and Regional Planning, and I later graduated by God’s grace and mercy, with Bachelor of Technology.

While still a JAMBITE at RSUST and quite young, during the wedding, he greeted and talked to me. He later asked for my name and address in the course of the discussion. I was very suspicious. So, I gave him a wrong name and address.

How did you eventually reconnect?

I did not meet him again until one day he caught me up in Port Harcourt, after about three years. He said he was going to drop me off, but I did not want to take him to my destination. I did not realise that he was then living very close to me at Elekahia Housing Estate. He then took me to my house and he waited for me to enter the house, but he used the opportunity to inform me that he was the person I earlier gave a wrong name and address. He then said I could not trick him anymore, since he had known my house and that was the beginning of the journey of a lifetime.

During courtship and when we eventually got married, he was very nice. He was more like an elder brother and a father to me. He was always treating me so kindly. He taught me a lot of things. He was a very patient person and he was willing to allow me grow.

After knowing my house, he was visiting occasionally and would also call me up. Then, perhaps, I was not too much of a knowledgeable person, in terms of the worldview and relationship. While going to fellowship, he would drop me off. He was then working.

Since he was then working and you were schooling, was he always spoiling you with gifts and cash?

I did not realise that I had needs and it was not really that kind of relationship. He was not that kind of person. He was more like personal interaction between us. It was like two persons who just wanted to talk to each other. It was not like that kind of relationship of spoiling a lady with gifts or cash. I actually did not have that kind of interest at all. He was just keeping up with me. He was actually a very good and understanding person and I would also not joke with my studies and fellowship.

Besides his intellect, kindness, care and being handsome, what actually attracted him to you?

I just liked him and I still like him. Then, I did not think about relationship with him, but with time, we became much closer. It is just like when you see someone for the first time, something just clicks and you can get along with the person.

What of the insinuation that he met you while you were with a former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, and his wife, Justice Mary Odili, now of the Supreme Court?

I did not know anything about his (Amaechi’s) political inclination. That is the truth. Dr. Peter Odili is an indigene of Ndoni in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, where my mother hailed from. It is just mere coincidence. I met him (Amaechi) as any young girl would meet a young man and somehow, he had interest in me. He is a very kind person, with a giving nature and he always wants to help people. He does not bother about material things.

I remember telling him (Amaechi) in the early days that the Lord Jesus Christ was looking for people like him, especially with his good nature, charitable heart and always wanting to help people, because I saw God’s gifts in him and that how great it would have been, if he could be much closer to God and to be attending fellowship. He is always parting with his money and material things, and he would not mind giving out everything he had, because I was watching him closely.

I always like to evangelise and attend fellowship. As days rolled by, I saw someone who was really selfless. To be honest, having my kind of background, because it was my auntie that brought me up, with a knack for education and also very kind, catering for other people’s children. So, he suited me, to be honest and I felt that I was in a very good hand.

At times, he would sit me down then, telling me that I was juvenile in my thinking and my ways, insisting that life was not like that. He taught me a lot of things that shaped my life, but very personal, which I will not reveal.

I met Dr. Peter Odili then without knowing who he was. Prior to meeting Dr. Odili, I was already in the relationship (with Amaechi). It is not true that Dr. Odili or his wife introduced me (to Amaechi). Never. He met me like every other man would meet a lady. In fact, he was not even introducing me to anybody and he decided not to take me to any of his bosses or friends, until much later.

How is your relationship now with the Odilis, considering what later happened, when your husband was the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly and eventually the governorship aspirant and later candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2007, before the party’s ticket was given to his kinsman, Sir Celestine Omehia, from the same Ubima in Ikwerre LGA, because of K-leg, while Dr. Odili was Rivers governor and presidential aspirant on PDP’s platform, with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, then of PDP, as President?

To be very honest, we have never held anything against the Odilis. My husband and I have always seen them as our parents. I really do not know their own opinion. One of my children, who is taking the course-line of Dr. Odili (medicine), would always say that he was inspired by the Odilis, but I know that sometimes, people can read meanings to things. My husband is always having respect for the Odilis.

For the first time, I will voice out something that most people do not know about my husband. He respects authority and his bosses. When you have ever been useful to him in his life, he will never try to harm you, talk nonsense about you, bring you down or tries to disrespect you. He is like that. Sometimes, I would feel upset with him and I would tell him that someone was hitting him hard and dealing with him, but he would just remain calm, but he would respond that as long as the person was part of his success, it would not be nice of him to wake up in the morning and abuse the person. He would prefer to let the person be, adding that if God wanted it to happen like that, so be it, but let it not be that he would be the one that would be found wanting.

I remember when I got married to him, he was always very busy, always going out and he was fond of saying, ‘my boss and my Oga’. One day, he told me that one thing he wanted me to do was to take Dr. Odili as my father and that for whatever it might be or whatever inconveniences it might cause me, he would never do anything to go against him or things that would hurt him.

Sometimes, I would hear rumours but I would rather toe the positive side of life, I would rather spend my energy listening to good news and that is what my Bible advises me to do. Rather than sitting down, talking down on people or listening to bad things that some people would want to say. How do you progress in life when all you do is to listen to gossips and act on them? My husband does not take things to heart.

My husband and I will never go against the Odilis. I do not think anybody has ever heard me or my husband criticise or say anything negative about the Odilis. I believe it is a political problem. My husband sees politics like sport but unfortunately, some people take it beyond sport. The only time I can take it beyond sport is when someone is threatening my life. At that point, I would simply ask my God to handle the person.

In the second term of your husband being the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, in the days of K-leg in early 2007, he relocated to Ghana and you moved with your children to the United States of America, but your husband’s kinsman, Sir Celestine Omehia, was inaugurated as governor on May 29, 2007, instead of your husband, who decided to go to court, with the matter ending at the Supreme Court, which gave a landmark judgment on October 25, 2007, sacking Omehia and your husband was inaugurated as governor the next day, making you to become the First Lady of Rivers State. How was the experience?

That is one moment I really do not always like to remember, but in all, God is faithful. To be very honest, it was a fine moment because it just came suddenly and I could not believe that we were in that position. Me and my children were in one room and we were separated from him (Amaechi) for so long and we were moving from one house to another. He was in Ghana, while the children and I stayed in three overseas countries.

We had horrifying experiences. The first nasty experience we had was losing all our passports and my bag at Atlanta. I felt somebody deliberated picked up the bag, because they later saw the person on Closed Circuit Television (CCTV). At the Atlanta airport, I told God to have mercy on us. At every moment, I could see the glory and the hand of God. When our passports got lost, it was normal for them to ask us to go back and re-organise, but they allowed us. We reported to the immigration and they allowed us to continue our journey because we had not reached our destination in the United States of America.

We were not heading for USA because we just wanted to go there, we decided to leave Port Harcourt because the political scene became so mean and our lives were hunted for. We were not safe. My husband never believed in children being out of Nigeria. He always believed that we should be in Nigeria since Nigeria is our country and we should stay and struggle it out. Moreover, it prepares someone for tough times as well but for some reasons, we had to just leave Nigeria because we needed to be alive.

Therefore, we started going through the ordeal of not having anything (money and other needed items) with us. We just left Nigeria and my children had to abandon school in Nigeria. Before then, my children had started having series of attacks in the school. When we left and we had that unpleasant experience at Atlanta airport, it was really depressing. I want to really thank God because it was a terrible moment that I do not always like to remember. We are still alive by the special grace and mercy of God.

In the USA, we stayed in a friend’s house and the four of us stayed in one room. I had to stay with them because they were children then. We stayed downstairs, where the room was, close to the living room. From there, we had to move to London and we later moved to another country, but our passports were lost. We were just trying to stay safe.

I do not want to go into details of what we passed through and everything that happened. Most times, we would see the people who were chasing us. They would either send their family members or agents to be on our trail. Immediately we sighted them, we would run because we did not have any form of security other than God.

We did not do anything to the persons who wanted to kill us but they felt that my husband was a threat to their ambition. So, we had to stay away from Nigeria. In the USA, initially, we were staying in a hotel, but it got to a point that we could no longer afford it because everything was not planned. My businesses in Nigeria were there, but what we were thinking about first then was safety. Something interesting was that my kids were so good. They did not make me feel down and out.

In the one room in USA, me and my last son would sleep in the room. We got a mattress for my two other sons to sleep with on the floor of the living room or they might use the foams of the chairs, with one toilet. We all managed it and we continued to pray. My last son prayed a prayer that I believed that God really answered but I will not disclose his special prayer. My other sons also prayed.

People would say what they wanted to say. Whenever I wanted to speak with my husband in Ghana from USA, I would move into the room, but the children would wonder what I was hiding when everything could be found in Google. That was my first time of knowing that the things were in Google.

There was a day that my last son knelt down and prayed on what we were passing through, especially the challenges his daddy was facing, but I will not disclose his special prayer to the members of the public, but the then small boy prayed to God and God answered his prayer.

Something miraculous also happened. Throughout the period we were in the USA, we were living like king’s children, because people that I did not know from Adam would send us big money and sometimes passports. My husband too would send to us the money he could afford, telling me that our children and I must be going through hell because it was a very challenging period, considering how he was surviving in Ghana, the court cases in Nigeria and the lawyers’ fees to pay. I saw the very strong hand of God.

When some people behave the way they are behaving these days, I would just laugh because when I remembered the Egypt, I would simply give thanks to God. While in the USA, my children and I became the envy of people around us, because they saw God in action especially for divine provision and protection.

In difficult times, God would always show His children mercy and favour.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was Nigeria’s President in the days of K-leg, but while your husband was Governor of Rivers State and Chief Obasanjo was out of office, he visited Rivers State and he was lavishly hosted by your husband and he inaugurated and inspected many capital-intensive projects of the administration. What was your reaction then, to the eventual reconciliation?

I did not see anything wrong with the later reconciliation. People were then struggling for power and they might have gone to the extreme. We never went to the extreme. I knew that God would certainly vindicate us and give us victory. I will rather make heaven than sit back here and dwell on the wickedness that happened. I will never be part of wickedness.

If anybody came back and said he was misunderstood and he did not know the truth then, why not embrace reconciliation?

When I saw former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Government House, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, when my husband was governor, honestly, I was very happy and I thanked God that finally, the truth was in the open.

No greater joy than having the joy of reconciliation, especially when it is genuine, not the one that is fake. I learnt something from my husband that it was always better for someone to be the victim, than to be the one that would be unleashing the evil, in order to be able to sleep well and have a clear conscience, no matter the situation. Above everything you are doing on earth today, there is an answer you have to give someday in our lives and I will not want to be remembered for evil. I want to be remembered for good.

Sometimes, interests matter. People too also gossip to leaders. My husband would always fight for people with all his heart, strength and everything he has, without thinking about the benefits, but some people are not like that. To them, it is all about themselves and themselves alone.

Some people might have gossiped to the then President Obasanjo about my husband, hoping to jam their heads, for Dr. Peter Odili and my husband not to get what they were then looking for (presidency and governorship respectively).  The gossipers would meet big and small Ogas (bosses), telling them different stories, just to cause confusion or disaffection.

What is your foundation about?

I have something that I call a passion and the name is Empowerment Support Initiative (ESI). It was founded on the 16th of October, 2008 and it was launched by the then First Lady, Hajia Turai Yar’Adua.

What is the foundation about and did you go into it because it is a trend with women whose husbands hold political positions?

The organization was born out of a passion. The passion is dated as far back as even before I became the wife of the Speaker. I l have always wanted to help people as a person maybe by virtue of the position I have found myself. Even from my house, we have always had people coming to us with one need, burden or desire and for some reasons,  except you have a stony heart, you would just find yourself giving and finding solutions but beyond that, I lost my mum quite early and I have sympathy for people who are orphans. I have that soft spot for them having being through some of those traumas as well and luckily for me, I had a great opportunity. A wonderful woman and her husband brought me up and gave me the best and for me, I take it as an opportunity and that opportunity is what I want to give to everybody that I come across, especially when they are less privileged. I could have been different if I didn’t have the opportunity but I did and see me now. So, the passion didn’t start because I became a governor’s wife or speaker’s wife. It was born out of the circumstances I found myself in and then having married my husband, I just found it very interesting to carry on because he is someone that is selfless and generous.  It was a dream fulfilled because I met a partner who was really there to reach out to the needy. He had so much compassion in him too. I love reaching out and I believe that if every child or every human is given an opportunity, they will make the best out of life and the world will be a better place to live in.

How do you reach out?

I don’t believe that calling people together and giving them food to eat, giving them rice or wrapper is an empowerment. Teaching them constructively how to use their talents or how to use their hands to do something that would sustain their living is a form of empowerment to me and then probably giving them a backup to that which they have learnt . I believe empowering them through skills would take them off the street and off your burden as well. For me, that is what I do whenever I find myself in a circle of the less-privileged.  I never would have been the governor’s wife but God decided to promote my husband and I found myself again in another privileged position and it was a tough one and I think I had to make some covenant to be able to get to where I am. Part of the idea for ESI came when I travelled abroad and I saw where women were producing garments in quantities and I sat down in the company for like three hours. Nobody knew why I was there but I was amazed at how about 300 people were sitting down and producing. I became very inquisitive and I asked lots of questions and something in me said this can be done in my country and in my state in particular. When I came on board as the governor’s wife, I brought people together to actualize the idea. I looked at our state then and militancy was the order of the day and luckily for me, my husband is one man who is very much inclined to education. So I said to myself, if they are already convincing young children in primary school to go into carrying arms and being vulnerable to doing the bidding of the so called well-to-do, then I said the best thing I can do to address it is to go to the nursery school because the formative age of a child is between age 0-9 and when you guide a child at that age, the child becomes near perfection.

You hardly hear of children within that age drop out of school, so you would have opened that child’s horizon to becoming a better person in future.  I then asked what to do and to be honest, it was just God’s brilliant idea because I didn’t know how it came about. I always say that when you have a dream, you need God to bring it to fruition and God used a man from Bayelsa, who is now late. The nursery school idea came and I felt if we follow the idea, we would give the children a sense of direction and avoid majority of the vices that we are finding ourselves suffering from today. I have also noticed that in Nigeria and in my state, all we do is amendment.  Why wait for a human being to get to age 18 before we start thinking of how to make that person’s life more useful?  Why not key in on that child’s age when he is very young and needs some sort of direction and I used to use a phrase; ‘catching them young’. When you catch them young, you can make or mar them.

As I started having outreaches, I asked the elites where their kids were and those who had kids below age 9 said they were in nursery or primary school and  I asked why they didn’t keep their children at home? I asked because it was the problem in the rural areas; children were not in school for some reasons; either they were not exposed or they lacked the wherewithal to get basic education.  Now, how do you get a mother in the village who does not have any money to convince her that her children should go to school and remember, she does not know what education is all about? How do you make her child go to school and expose the child to seeing the values of being in school and how do you convince a child who is not exposed that carrying arms and engaging in other crimes  are not right? So, from that tender age, you instill morals in them by way of education and give them a brighter hope for tomorrow because when a woman is vulnerable, anyone who is rich and into all the vices like militancy can easily give the woman N10,000 and being someone who has never seen N100, she will easily do whatever the rich man tells her to do.

It is for me very important that every child be given an opportunity to go to school and then leave the rest to God.

How many nursery schools have you established?

We have over 37 nursery schools in Rivers State and we hope to expand to other parts of the country.

How much does it cost to train a child in the nursery school?

One child used to cost me N36,000 per term and N108,000 per year when the foreign exchange was okay.

Why are the schools located in Niger Delta?

I started the school project from Niger Delta because I was concerned about our people because all we hear is militancy and it is not true. Majority of us are not into that at all and we also wanted the agitation to stop.  We wanted to create an enabling environment and opportunities that would make us get out of that negative image.

Why did you decide to go into skill acquisition centre?

I decided to empower people with skills because people come to my house to ask for help but the truth is this, how many people can I help? There is also this feeling in Nigeria that just because it is government, it should run down. But it is wrong. I think at the individual level ,  we must take the responsibility of trying to shape our people’s lives and giving them the right norms and values so that at the end of the day, they will see government as not just “use and dump” or it is “our fathers right”. I ensured that the centre was handled by a professional because not everybody wants to go to school. We have about 92 skills and nine faculties and we work with people who would give the best. I believe if you have the best hands as trainers, the trainees would come out to be the best too.

How many people would you say you have reached out to since the foundation was launched?

For the nursery schools, we are clocking over 4000 children because every year we graduate pupils and it has not been easy between 2015 and 2017 but we are still moving on. For the skills, we try not to do more than 300 every session because it is very expensive to train them but I cannot get the proper data right now.

A political group, Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), was on Wednesday unveiled in Abuja.

The move may not be unconnected to the call by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s charge on the need for a Coalition for Nigeria.

The Acting Chairman of CNM, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who spoke at the unveiling, described the coalition as a movement to salvage Nigeria.

Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State, said that CNM remains a movement and not a political party unless members agree to transform it into a party.

He said that the movement came into being in response to Obasanjo’s call for the emergence of a Coalition to help rescue the country from bad administration.

The coalition hitmen

Oyinlola was also the former Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), before defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He said that the movement would provide equal platform for all Nigerians, especially women and youths.

The former governor added that the movement would be led by the youth, while the elders would only play the role of a guide.

Oyinlola faulted the allegation that the movement was carrying out Obasanjo’s agenda to install a new leadership for the country.

“To say that we are legitimising Obasanjo’s legacies is a beat off the mark.

“There is no one who can fault the issues raised in Obasanjo’s letter. Forget the messenger, let’s discuss the message.

“What he has done is to stir us from our slumber to the reality of what is happening in Nigeria to take charge and take action.

“Are there no other leaders sitting around and watching how things are going?

“I think we should give some kudos to him for being able to address Nigerians on the ills of the society which requires attention.’’

When asked whether he had resigned his membership of the APC, Oyinlola said the issue did not arise since CNM was a movement and not yet a political party.

Coalition-NM-Logo

He, however, said that he was not tied down to any political party.

On whether the movement would be transmuted to a political party to contest the 2019 presidential election, Oyinlola said CNN remains apolitical.

“But if the movement says they want to transform to political party, that will be a collective decision, not mine.’’

Former governor of Cross River state, Donald Duke also spoke at the ceremony, and described the formation of the movement as timely.

Duke stressed the need for Nigerians to come together and chat the way forward for the country.

He said the country was not going to get better except Nigerians come together to change the narrative and the situation.

According to him, 39 years ago, Nigeria with a population of about 90 million budgeted 25 billion dollars, and now with more than 200 million people, her budget is only 23 billion dollars.

Buba Galadima, a member of APC, said that the movement was being formed to rescue the country from disintegration.

On the possibility that President Muhammadu Buhari may be seeking re-election, Galadima said Nigerians would only support his bid if there was concrete evidence that he had performed well.

“If the president wants to be re-elected and he can show us empirical evidence that he has performed in terms of infrastructure development in this country.

“Evidence that he has put food on the table and unify the people of this country, then so be it, we will be prepared to vote for him.

“But if those indices are not available, then he does not deserve a second term,’’ he said.

Thursday, 01 February 2018 04:50

Eagles beat Sudan 1-0, qualify for CHAN final

Nigeria yesterday in Marrakesh, Morocco proved that when you have the guts you could achieve your dream. The odds were stacked against Salisu Yusuf’s boys in their African Nations Championship (CHAN) semifinal game against favourites, Sudan, but the home-based Eagles, who played about 30 minutes of the game one man down, defied the pundits’ predictions to come away with their first final ticket in three outings at the competition.

The Sudanese started the game like a house on fire, but they were rebuffed by the Nigerians, whose goalkeeper and captain, Ikechukwu Ezenwa was in inspired form.

Ezenwa, however, had to pay the price for his daring moves when he was injured in the seventh minute while trying to thwart an onrushing Mohamed Idris. He could not come back to the game and in came Dele Ajiboye.

Despite the setback, Nigeria took the lead in the 16th minute when Gabriel Okechukwu shot past Sudan’s goalkeeper, Akram from close range after beating the defence with his pace. Before Okechukwu’s goal, Sudan had a glorious opportunity to grab the lead in the 15th minute, but Ajiboye was quick to read the danger.

The Eagles could have increased the tally in the 25th minute through Okechukwu but his left-footed shot sailed inches wide of Akram’s left corner.

The first half ended 1-0 in Nigeria’s favour despite Sudan’s dominance in the later part of the half. The second half began with Nigeria more purposeful, but the Eagles were deflated when Ifeanyi Ifeanyi was sent off in the 58th minute for a dangerous tackle.

Sudan tried to take advantage of their numerical advantage but they met Ajiboye in inspired form. With three minutes to go, Sudan were also reduced to 10 men when Bakri Bachir received a straight red for bringing down Solomon Ojo.

Ajiboye kept his team in the game after producing two brilliant saves in the 90th minute to ensure they are through to the final.

Nigeria will meet hosts, Morocco, who defeated Libya 3-1 in first semifinal.

Page 4 of 397

READ AFRICA REPORTERS NEWSPAPER PRINT EDITION

Africa Reporters Television (ARTV)

Newsletter

- Advertisement -



Ads