Saturday, 18 November 2017
Business and Economy

Business and Economy (725)

Kidnappers of six students Lagos State Model College, Igbonla in Epe yesterday resumed negotiations with affected parents, demanding N100million.

The kidnappers, it was gathered contacted two of the parents twice on Friday, insisting that they should approach the government for the amount demanded.

Yusuf Farouk, Ramon Isiaka, Pelumi Philips, Peter Jonas, Adebanjo George and Judah Agbaosi were whisked away from their hostels- Yellow and Green houses- on May 25, by gunmen clad in police uniform.

The kidnappers, who established contact with the parents on May 27, initially demanded N400million as ransom, asking the parents to approach Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for the money.

When the government wasn’t forthcoming, the kidnappers adopted selective negotiations with parents, demanding varying sum.

But since Monday, May 28, none of the parents have heard from the kidnappers save for yesterday’s resumed communication.

The parents, who said they had tried calling the number the kidnappers initially contacted them with to no avail, expressed worries at the state of the pupils.

However, the kidnappers contacted two of the parents twice yesterday, insisting that they were only interested in negotiating with the government.

A parent said: “We need help. We are begging the government to intervene in this matter. They contacted some parents this evening (Friday) and said they want us to tell the government to bring N100million. They said they were not interested in us because they know we cannot raise the money that it is the government they are interested in.

“Please, help us. We need help on this issue. We do not know what to do anymore. We have begged them to take the ransom down but they refused. How do we raise N100 million since the government has said it would not pay ransom? We are helpless.”

Posted On Saturday, 03 June 2017 14:22 Written by

The 36 governors have resolved to offset workers’ outstanding salaries and pensions in their states as soon as the next tranche of payment from the Paris-London Club loan refunds were made.

Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Zamfara, made this known in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

The statement by Mr Abulrazque Barkindo, Head of Media and Public Affairs, NGF Secretariat, said that the decision was reached by the governors after their meeting in Abuja on Thursday night.

The governors met in anticipation of the release of the money, which had been approved for payment by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.

Out of the N522.74 billion owed, N388.304 was paid to states in December, 2016.

Yari said that the governors were not oblivious of the hue and cry over non-payment of backlog of salaries and pensions, and the precarious predicament of the Nigerian workers.

He said that the governors deliberated on the matter and concluded that something immediate must be done to ameliorate workers’ plight by offsetting the outstanding pay and emoluments.

This, according to him, made the governors to resolve as a matter of urgency, to pay workers their due as soon as the half of the Paris Club refunds is made.

“We all agreed that a substantial amount from the next tranche of the Paris-London refunds be used in the settlement of workers salary and pension arrears,” Yari disclosed.

He added that the governors were also committed to the verification of the input of all the consultants, who claimed to have worked towards the harmonization of the refunds.

The claim, the governor said, was in regards of what was due to each state since 2005 when the demand for the refunds commenced.

“At the moment, there are litigations from more than 10 different consultants still agitating for settlement for their roles in the quest to have the refunds made to states. ‘’

He said a committee headed by Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State had been set up to provide solution to the demands by consultants on the refunds to states.

Members of the committee are governors of Bauchi, Sokoto, Plateau, Bayelsa, Rivers and Gombe.

He disclosed that another committee made up of the governors of Imo, Bayelsa, Abia, Ekiti, Kano, Nasarawa and Bauchi was also constituted to work for the “reconciliation’’ of the forum members.

This, according to Yari, is to enable the governors to work harmoniously in a manner that will transcend all political affiliations so that all governors will speak with one voice on issues of national importance.

“There is no how you will mention any political development in Nigeria without mentioning governors. Governors are a bloc and a key component of this democracy.

“Therefore, we have set up a seven-member committee to look into the development surrounding the unity of the forum and the development of the country.

“The idea is for governors to be speaking with one voice,” he said.

Posted On Saturday, 03 June 2017 02:53 Written by

There is no denying that we spend a large proportion of our lives at work, which is why our careers are so important to us. If you’re thinking about taking the next step in your professional career, now is the time to make a change and push yourself to achieve more.

However, with so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which direction is the best to take. Would simply reading a book help you to achieve greater success? Or would academic guidance add more value to your professional journey?

Returning to university is an excellent way to gain the skills and knowledge you need to move up the career ladder as it provides a managed journey through carefully curated content. Thanks to the advancement of online degrees, there’s also no need to quit your job to continue your studies, providing an accessible solution for the career-driven professional. In fact, millions of people around the world have already been jumping on this opportunity as the demand for online education continues.

Amongst our digital students is Tosan Ozoro, who studies the Online Masters of Public Administration at the University of Birmingham. Currently working as a Relationship Manager at Keystone Bank in Lagos, Tosan is using her degree to move into the public sector and make a difference to Nigerian society. After researching her options, she concluded that studying online was a feasible solution as she could continue to work whilst learning at a highly rated institution.

A course aligned to your career goals
With many online degrees to choose from, it’s important to undertake research to find a course which suits your needs and aligns with your career goals.

As a member of the Russell Group and world ‘top 100’ University (QS World University Rankings, 2017), the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, is committed to producing the very best research and innovative teaching experiences.

We offer three career-focused online degrees:

A course structured around you
Your location or professional situation won’t restrict you as there’s no need to relocate or pause your career to head to the UK. This allows you to make a difference to your surrounding economy.

For Online MBA student Patrick Gettleman, studying online was his only option: “With my job and career path, I travel for work almost on a weekly basis and could not be successful with a part-time program in person,” he explained. “I would simply miss way too many classes.

“I also liked the fact that there are live connect sessions 4 times per module. This helps to give the feel of connection to the courses that sometimes online education makes difficult to get. It doesn’t hurt that I have been able to join the connect sessions from 3 continents so far in my 6 months of study!”

Test and share your new knowledge immediately
Any skills and knowledge you acquire can be applied to your career in real time. You can also pass on this valuable knowledge to your colleagues, helping you stand out in the workplace.

Current Online MSc International Business student, Helena Feibert, explains the benefits:

“I have gained a deeper insight into many aspects of an international business and I have been able to not only apply theories in my work activities but also analyse past events and decisions to better understand the motivation behind them,” she said.

Throughout your studies, you’ll be interacting with students and lecturers from all over the world, from various professional backgrounds. It’s a great opportunity to gain a global perspective on challenges you’re facing at work.

Advance your career today
Learning to juggle personal, professional and educational commitments can sometimes be difficult, but your return on investment – your career enhancement – should pay dividends.  

You’ll receive plenty of support when you study online, just as you would if you were on-campus. Dr Michael Shulver, Director of Online Content at Birmingham Business School, explains: “As soon as students have accepted an offer – even before they join – they can talk online with someone from our Careers Team,” he said. “There’s direct support on, for example, resume preparation and interviews.”

What are you waiting for? Join online students across the globe by enrolling to study at the University of Birmingham. Applications for our next intake are open. For more information visit our webpages.


This article is sponsored content brought to you by the University of Birmingham.

Posted On Friday, 02 June 2017 11:08 Written by

•Fed Govt to invite boxer

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: The euphoria that greeted the victory of Anthony Olufemi Olaseni Joshua over Wladimir Klitschko in the world heavyweight title fight at Wembley Stadium, England continued yesterday in Sagamu, his Ogun State ancestral home. Large banners adorned the house of his great-grandfather, Prince Daniel Adebambo Joshua, at Ijoku in the heart of the city. There is a big picture of the boxer. Beside it are the British flag and the green-white-green Nigerian flag.

There were banners also at the Ita Oba  Park where a viewing centre, which had over 2000 fans, was put up for the Saturday night fight. Some residents, who saw one of our reporters taking photographs of the banner, were excited. They shouted: “World champion!”.

Anthony’s uncle, Adebambo Joshua, who spoke on behalf of the family at the Baba Josh Memorial Hall, said he was a bit nervous before the fight started because victory could have gone either way.
He said: “My heart was in my mouth throughout the fight, especially when he suffered a knock down in the sixth round. I was afraid he would not recover and we all prayed for his victory and when he eventually won, we were all excited.”

Adebambo recalled how the family and the fans at the viewing centre went wild in jubilation and partied all-night because a “son of the soil” had achieved a great feat.
“It was celebration galore after Anthony’s victory. We were in front of the king’s palace and celebrated the hard-earned victory over a worthy opponent, who had been a famous face in the world of boxing,” he said.
Victory, as they say, has many fathers, which may account for many trying to identify with the pugilist. However, Adebambo noted that they were not just identifying with the champion but have been backing him since he started his career as an amateur rank.

Adebambo said: “We have been supporting him and we will continue to do that. We have prepared for the fight and that is why the youth in conjunction with Yinka Mafe, a member of the Ogun State House Assembly put up the viewing centre.

To the Elepe of Epe, Oba Adewale Osiberu, who is superintending over Sagamu since the demise of the Akarigbo of Remo, Oba Michael Sonariwo, the victory is for all. He called on youths to emulate the feat.
“He is young and we pray that he will stay on top for a long time,” he said.
Oba Osiberu, who is related to Anthony’s mum, Yeta (Yetunde), promised that a facility would be converted into a gym where youths could practise the sport.

The Federal Government plans to invite Joshua to Nigeria

Information, Culture and Tourism Minister Lai Mohammed in a statement, said the government had congratulated the British professional boxer of Nigerian descent, for defeating Ukranian Wladimir Klitschko to become the unified World Heavyweight Champion.

Mohammed said Nigeria was proud to be associated with the champion. “My heart is in Nigeria, my heart is in Britain. I am a Nigerian man by blood, yes,” the minister quoted Joshua as saying in a recent interview.

He added that the boxer, in the interview, also listed the secret of his success as pounded yam, eba and egusi – all Nigerian cuisines.
The minister hailed Joshua for his humility, despite his success.

He also extolled his “undying spirit, coming off the canvas after he was knocked down by Klitschko in the sixth round to win by a technical knockout in the 11th round of their pulsating fight”.
Joshua, who made his professional debut in 2013, was born in Watford to a Nigerian mother and a British father of Nigerian and Irish descent.

Some of the early years of the 27-year-old champion were spent in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, before he returned to the UK halfway through year seven to join Kings Langley Secondary School.
Growing up on the Meriden Estate in Garston, Hertfordshire, Anthony was called ‘Femi’ by his friends and former teachers.

Posted On Wednesday, 03 May 2017 02:07 Written by

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM: Abuja – Prof Babalola Borishade, 71, former Nigerian minister of education is dead. He died in London on Wednesday after a brief illness. He was initially rushed to Reddington Hospital in Lagos, last week from where he was taken to London. The cause of death was lung and heart –related. Borishade was born in Usi- Ekiti on March 7, 1946 into the Ebi Ilotin family.

He served as a minister for four times, between 1999-2011. The electrical engineer was also a teacher and a political strategist. Between February 2001 and May 2003, he served as the Minister of Education. In recognition of his contributions to Education in Nigeria, Africa and the World at large, Borishade was elected the Vice- Chairman of the E9 Group of the United Nations, President of the UNESCO International Conference on Education, as well as Chairman Education for All (EFA) Forum of African Ministers of Education.

In 2004, Borishade was appointed as Minister of State, Power and Steel. He initiated the ‘Gas to Power Project (G2P), a World Bank sponsored project designed to ensure sustained gas development and availability for power production to meet Nigerian electricity demands. Between July 2005 and November 2006, Borishade was Minister of Aviation, during which a Civil Aviation Bill was passed to replace the 1964 Act and the direct flight between Nigeria and the United States of America was restored. His initiation of various reforms and development in the aviation sector resulted in Nigeria scoring 93 per cent in the ICAO Universal Audit which made Nigeria a benchmark to African Aviation Industry.

Posted On Thursday, 27 April 2017 02:23 Written by

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, tells TOBI AWORINDE his issues with the modus operandi of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war

You have consistently criticised the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government. Do you still doubt the anti-corruption war in view of recent developments?

Like millions of other Nigerians, you both overstate my intention and may have read too much into my text because this led the ignorant to conclude that I was against the war. I was, and still am, against the lack of vision, clarity, diagnosis, strategy and intellectual depth of what we call a fight against corruption. Conceptually, I was and am against the idea of the metaphor of war as a strategy because once we saw it as a war, the government believed it only needed to rally its army and then go to the war front. Sadly, even if we took that metaphor, we were unlikely to get the desired results because this was a war without timelines, without a proper understanding of the enemy, his strength and his landscape. The result is what we now see.

It is not enough to say we will fight the corrupt, especially when the President is still stuck in a mindset of his military days, which sees corruption as something that wicked and unpatriotic politicians and office holders are doing. Still, we believe that corruption is what the political class has done. Every day, the predicament of the government is a more visible and palpable illustration that we were right all along: an assembly led by the ruling party and the President cannot agree on the choice of the chairman (of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), the leader of this fight. What does this tell you? My contribution was made as a public intellectual, not a partisan (individual). What is more, even the President has a fair idea of where I stand on these issues and we agreed on that.

A common criticism of Buhari has been that members of his government are unaffected by the anti-corruption war, despite several strong allegations against some of them. What do you think?

The President’s wife and most of those close to him have made it clear that the President did not really know the team he assembled. Notwithstanding, it is actually not necessary for the president to appoint those he knew and it is impossible. However, given the nature of the tendencies that came together to win the elections, it is clear that, perhaps, consolidating the party, getting the buy-in of his team was important. They missed good opportunities of composing a song and rather concentrated their energies on the Peoples Democratic Party that had lost elections and was too wounded to hurt them.

The President assumed wrongly that his people necessarily were interested in a fight against corruption. After all, apart from the President and the Vice President’s mouths, where else do you hear so much talk about fighting corruption? This is Nigeria and this is Nigerian politics by Nigerians. Here, politics is a conveyor belt for opportunistic self-enrichment. Politicians might make some pretensions here and there, but the fact is that local government chairmen and (state) commissioners want to be governors; governors and ministers also want to be presidents. Servicing these ambitions require primitive accumulation and some of that is now playing out as you can see.

Are you now encouraged by the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayodele Oke?

Well, it is not a question of being encouraged. Let them have their day within the process and, hopefully, we shall know the truth, which, in turn, if really told, will set us free. As usual, people are ecstatic and showing this off as evidence of a renewed fight against corruption. As for me, I will wait and see.

Do you think the suspension is belated?

There is a time for everything. Justice has no clock.

Are there other people you would want the security and anti-corruption agencies to beam their searchlight on?

How do you want me to answer this question? Who am I to decide where the agency beams its searchlight? There are no sacred places, I assume.

How would you rate the performance of the EFCC so far?

I wish they were less preoccupied by the politics of the moment. On the whole, I believe that they will continue to do their best. However, I wish that there was less drama and theatre. I wish they would appreciate that it is better to take time, examine information and data, rather than rush to conclusions, and then face the kind of embarrassment about who owns what has been found.

Why do you think the EFCC is being dramatic?

The poor love drama, but drama is what it is; it entertains but does not resolve any problem. I recall one of my friend’s children who is a big man now. He was about two years old or so. I was in their house and playing with him when he saw a Maggi advertisement with a pot of delicious (-looking) and steaming soup. He left me and went to the television screen. By the time he got there, the advertisement had moved on and he broke into uncontrollable tears because he thought it was real soup. All these monies that our sensibilities are being assaulted with, what do they do to us? Are we supposed to salivate or what? We have been showing armed robbers on television for years. Has it reduced armed robbery?

Are you surprised that the EFCC has yet confirmed the identity of the owner of the apartment in Osborne Towers, where over N13bn cash was uncovered?

Exactly! That is what I am saying. How can you invite us for your wedding and then you turn around and say you do not know who the bride is? They have made themselves quite vulnerable in terms of what people will believe. People will get cynical and ask, ‘Was this planted or what?’ It is not professional at all. And, do we need to be assaulted with all these gory details? After all, from there, where does the money go to?

What do you make of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, laying claim to the seized N13bn cash?

Is there not something like burden of proof, as the lawyers say? This is what makes all these so sad, that our nation is being presented in this light. Where in the world can you say that amount of money is lying around and its ownership is in dispute?

Do you agree with the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) that Wike should prove ownership to be able to claim the money?

It only makes common sense.

You accused the EFCC of showing the country in a negative light. Shouldn’t looters be the ones to blame for the bad image of Nigeria?

I am not sure the word accusation is correct. My argument is still that there are many ways of dealing with these issues. Of course, there is no doubt that what we are witnessing is lamentable, but surely, we must not forget that it has long-term implications and effects on our national integrity, given the fact that we are already dealing with a negative image problem. I do not deny that those criminals have done us damage, but to merely show us all these when the search has not been concluded does not give us a real picture of the story, especially as it is still rolling.

Are you happy with the whistle-blower policy?

It is a great step and definitely one of the greatest incentives in the issues of corruption. It is yielding results and it is also one of the reasons I said we needed to be more imaginative and innovative in the issues of corruption. The challenge is to sustain it before it deteriorates to something completely different, given the nature of our society.

Do you think the anti-corruption agency would record the level of success it has recorded in the last few months without the whistle-blower policy?

There is no perfect system. Perhaps other innovations could have equally yielded results, but the overall issue should be to make us all whistle-blowers, as opposed to merely feeding on the selfish motivations of individuals. Had the policy not been self-serving, would these individuals not have kept quiet? The ultimate goal is to make us all whistle-blowers for justice and equity, and that is why I keep saying that how the government deploys the proceeds of the corruption fight will determine how all citizens buy in. We must all see that we have much to gain if we succeed. So far, citizens are made to think it is only a business of government and that some of the money will equally be stolen again.

What other policies do you think will further the Federal Government’s anti-corruption agenda? 

No policy is perfect. I would have loved to see government involve the academic community, especially those in the social sciences. We need the other arm of science that will ultimately move us away from this primitive way of moving so much money around in bags and so openly. It is scientific innovations that bring out change, not mere moral persuasion and open threats especially against the backdrop of weak institutions.

The Federal Government has not been able to secure a conviction of any of its corruption-related prosecutions. Do you think it is doing something wrong?

Again, this was why some of us felt that we needed to do more than merely focusing on law as a way out. I believe that if the security agencies and the banks are serious, it would not have been impossible to confront citizens with the huge resources that are managed through the banking system. I warned that the corrupt have better lawyers and have the capacity to corrupt the system. This is what we mean when we speak of the corruption in the judiciary. It is also a measure of the quality of legal advice and services available to the government and its agencies.

Do you think the failure to secure a conviction is tied to the alleged corruption in the judiciary?

I feel that the president could have engaged the judiciary in a more collaborative manner. He has one of the finest legal minds in the country as his deputy. I believe that even before launching this fight, he could have taken the judiciary into confidence, appreciating their independence, but enlisting their support and asking for suggestions, while respecting them as an independent arm of government. There is corruption everywhere in this country. Everywhere! There are no sacred grounds and this is because of the malfunctioning nature of the state.

The bureaucracy, the conveyor belt of public services, is immersed in corruption and an awareness of all these would have ensured that the president appreciates that this is not a war he can win on his own. This is how we got to be where we are. The hero worshippers created the impression that the president would fight corruption based on his credentials and this may have led to the feeling of alienation by other important arms like the judiciary. They have not been accorded their respect and they should be.

Do you agree with the argument that the legislature is using strong-arm tactics against the executive, especially in the light of corruption cases bedevilling several federal lawmakers?

I am not sure I know what you mean by ‘strong-arm.’ The President of the Senate and the Speaker are not controlling any agencies such as the army and police, so which ‘strong-arm’ can they use against the Commander-in-Chief? Again, both the Senate President and the Speaker are All Progressives Congress members. How is it that they have not been able to deal with all these issues through the means of simple breakfasts and so on? This war should be theirs as a party, but sadly, there is no unanimity in orientation; everyone is fighting (in) their corner to defend what they have.

It has been observed that the EFCC’s approach seems to be: arrest suspects, recover loot, publicise efforts, prosecute and search for incriminating evidence. Is that the way you see it too? 

You said so, not me. I am sure you know better than me.

It would appear that the EFCC’s effectiveness is tied to the president’s desire or political will to fight corruption. What do you think?

Again, I do not understand why they would make an individual the issue and it is also a measure of the lack of behind-the-scenes diplomacy that this government does not seem to appreciate. It is a great pity and it accounts for why so many simple things continue to fester for a long time.

Do you agree with former President Olusegun Obasanjo on his view on corruption in churches?

You are a journalist and you don’t need (ex-) President (Olusegun) Obasanjo to remind you of corruption in the churches. Are some church men and women not in prison today? Have you not followed stories of criminals who masquerade as pastors and so on? Corruption is everywhere and that is why I think it is a great mistake that we do not have a holistic conversation but merely an ad hoc obsession, defining corruption as what politicians and people in public life do. The religious institutions are made up of Nigerians, not angels and no one should be allowed to use an institution to cover themselves and that is why Nigerians are crying for the removal of the immunity clause in our constitution, especially as too many people are using this as a cover.

How do you feel about the payment of N42m by a man as tithe to a church in Benue State?

This is chicken feed compared to what contractors and businessmen and women are paying to corrupt church men, who are largely partners in crime and claim to be praying for rich people. So, it is important to check and cross-check your facts. You should educate us by telling us what really happened now that the right hand knows what the left is doing.

Do you think concerned religious bodies, like the Christian Association of Nigeria, should swoop in?

Swoop in to take away the money or to ask for its own tithe? Does CAN have an EFCC wing?

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, reportedly said he offered money to herdsmen to stop the killings in Southern Kaduna. What is your reaction to this?

Well, if it is true that the governor paid money to those whose family members were purported to have been killed in 2011, and if the decision was to stop them from killing our people, then someone should explain to our people why they took the money and the killings of our people has not stopped. Surely, the truth of the story is trapped in the cracks, but God knows.

Some believe the unrest in Kaduna should not be linked to religion. What do you think?

The crisis in Southern Kaduna is (about) religion only to the extent that there are those who say that there is no difference between religion and politics. Even if it were about religion, does being of a particular religion necessarily diminish my humanity? The crisis in Southern Kaduna is the unravelling of a structure of oppression and exclusion, the seeds of which were sown even before independence. It is true we have always lived in peace, but this peace is not because of what successive governments in Kaduna have done, but largely in spite of what they have failed to do.

I am convinced that for the people of Southern Kaduna, it is a new dawn. Despite deliberate policies of exclusion, they have broken their nails to climb out of the dark tunnel of exclusion constructed by the invidious members of the Kaduna mafia. Change began to come only during the administration of Obasanjo. I believe there is a future to hope for and we must not surrender to despair. If anyone thinks that terror, intimidation and blackmail are substitutes for justice, they should do well to read history and read it properly. For now, Southern Kaduna is a theatre for the politics of both today and the future of Nigeria.

Posted On Sunday, 23 April 2017 17:13 Written by

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: A groundswell of condemnation has trailed alleged mismanagement Arik Airline following additional revelations by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) that the former managers systematically plunged the airline into N387 billion debt.

Former Director of Flight Operations at defunct Nigeria Airways, Capt. Dele Ore, heaped the blame on the door step of Arik Air Chairman for allegedly appropriating what he said was the property of Nigerians.

Ore said Nigerians are eagerly waiting for the KPMG report, which outcome he said would help the government to take appropriate action against former managers for deliberately leading the airline to its present pitiable state.

He said it would be most appropriate for the government to arrest and prosecute him to serve as deterrent to other business men like him. According to Ore: “He (Arik Chairman) previously depended on Federal protection, which some us knew would be short-lived as it has eventually played-out with change of government. With such huge debt profile no right-thinking government would continue to cover it up, which was why the government ordered AMCON to step in the fleet of 30 aircraft was fast disappearing among other discoveries.”

Speaking in the same vein, Managing Director, Merchant Express Cargo Airlines Limited, Capt. Sina Akinfenwa, said the revival of Arik could take two or more years because of the rot that was allowed to permeate the airline.

Akinfenwa said the airline collected aviation intervention fund but frittered it away. According to him: “I want Nigerians to ask the former managers of Arik what happened to that fund. At that time they collected the intervention fund, they claimed it was meant to bail out the airlines so what happened to the money?

“If it is gone should that government pump in another fund without asking questions? We are talking about billions of naira the government injected into Arik and other operators. Arik’s problem is primarily man-made because they were not doing the right thing. If you are doing the right thing, government will be willing to encourage you, but as it is now, how do you expect government to support you when you owe the same government so much money? “Be that as it may, the essence of business is that you are credit-worthy. You cannot ignore your creditors, which Arik was notorious for,” he said.

Posted On Friday, 21 April 2017 11:21 Written by

Long before the railway lines were built and the Emir of Kano bought a motorcar, Frederick Lugard travelled from Lagos to Sokoto on foot. Before coming to the area around the River Niger and Benue, he had heard so much about this area of the Sudan as Central Africa was called in the 19th Century. Born in India in Madras (now called Chennai), but brought up in England, Lugard was a diehard imperialist for the Empire which Winston Churchill called the Empire on which the Sun never sets.

The aim of imperialists like Lugard was originally to create market for British companies who engaged in global competition with other imperial powers for the supply of raw materials and markets for finished products. By the middle of the 19th Century, British naval power could be felt in every part of the world. It was this phenomenon that took Lugard, a British colonel, to the army in India which the British had acquired as part of its imperial territories. It was the most prized colonial possession of Britain after the loss of the United States. Lugard saw action in Burma, East Africa, Sudan and later was made the governor of Hong Kong. He participated in the final conquests of the independent pre-colonial states.

Before Lugard came in at the dawn of the 20th Century, Lagos had been a British colony for more than 50 years. British forces had also taken control of the port city of Calabar but the rest of the territories were left to African states. Most of the European traders in Lagos had no interest in extending direct rule outside the colony. What they wanted was free passage to do their business and return to base in Lagos. The British missionaries too wanted passage to spread the Christian gospels and turn the Africans from worshiping God in the ways they inherited from their ancestors. Then Lugard led the team, created an army made up mostly of British, Scots, Irish and Welsh officers and soldiers recruited from Africa. It was this posse that knocked down government after government, forcing African states to sign treaty of friendship with the British government. By 1903, with the conquest of Sokoto and Kano, the job was virtually completed.

In his long journey across Nigeria, Lugard and his soldiers travelled mostly on foot. He was bitten at least four times by snakes. Occasionally, especially in the open North, he would have the opportunity to ride on a horse, a donkey or a camel. However, most of the job was done on foot. The heavy guns, the muskets were hauled across the land from battle to battle on foot by African soldiers and commandeered porters. In the beginning, it may not have occurred to them that they were creating a new state, but in the end that was what happened. In his peregrination, Lugard had toyed with putting the capital in Lokoja, Zungeru and even Calabar, but in the end, he settled for Kaduna, a new city on the Hausa plane. When the whole territory of what is now called Nigeria was ceded to Britain at the Berlin Conference of 1885 to 1886, Lugard came under direct pressure from his boss in London. They did not want the capital of the new territory in landlocked Kaduna. Lugard was ordered to bring the capital to Lagos.

Thus when Lugard proclaimed the birth of the new state on January 1, 1914, it was done in Lagos, the colonial territory that had been seized by the British in 1865. The proclamation was done at the then Race Course which has now been aptly renamed Tafawa Balewa Square in honour of Nigeria’s first and only elected Prime Minister. The new territory was called Nigeria as suggested by the brainy adventurer and journalist, Flora Shaw, who later married Lugard. Lugard was transferred from Nigeria in 1919 and was succeeded as Governor by Sir Hugh Clifford who preferred to be called Governor and not Governor-General.

Since then, many men have stepped into Lord Lugard shoes. Despite the phenomenal changes that have occurred since then, many institutions created by Lugard and his colleagues have survived: the military, the civil service, customs, the police and many more. But Lugard’s greatest legacy is Nigeria itself. When the nationalists got independence for Nigeria in 1960, so successful was Lugard and his colleagues that none of the old states asked for independence. The well-established states like the Sokoto Caliphate, the new Oyo Empire centred on Ibadan, the Ekitiparapo Alliance, Borno, the coastal states of the Izon; none asked for independence. Everyone accepted the goodness of the new state created by Lugard and they invested their future in the expected eternity of Nigeria. Even when Emeka Ojukwu declared Eastern Nigeria as the independent state of Biafra, it was still based on the Lugardian formula. There was no history of one government in Eastern Nigeria predating Lugard.

But who would love to step into Lugard shoes? They are worn, dirty and uncomfortable. They are for those who are ready to work, to make sacrifice and create legacies and change the face of the earth. One of the great instruments that we inherited from Lugard and his men was the budget. Every government institution was expected to have its budget. Some years ago, a young friend of mine had met me in my country home in Okemesi, Ekiti State. He wanted to contest for the post of chairman of Ekiti-West Local Government and needed my support and advice. I made a simple request from him: get me a copy of the current budget of the local government. He did not know that local government too statutorily must present a yearly budget. I saw him several times after that but he said he was not able to lay hand on a copy of the budget. I understand that local government councils still pass through the ritual of yearly budgeting but neither them nor the public take the ritual seriously.

But budgeting is an important instrument of government. All the seven British governors (or governors-general) who ruled Nigeria before Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe became the first African Governor-General in 1960, took the issue of budgeting seriously. The three titans who led Nigeria to independence, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, took the issue of budgeting seriously too. Indeed, before April 1 when the financial year begins, according to British tradition, the budget would have been signed into Law or an Act of Parliament for implementation by the executive. Today, neither parliament nor the executive takes the budget seriously. In line with global trends, Nigeria financial year now starts from January 1. But in the Year of Our Lord 2017, when is the National Parliament passing the national budget? It seems we have worked ourselves to a situation where nothing is sacred anymore, not the budget, not the national flag, not the national anthem!

In an attempt to make everyone recognise the sacredness of the yearly budget, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua directed that government and all its agencies must close their accounts by December 31 of each year. Money not spent would revert to the Federation Accounts. However, we know what has happened since then.

By the time Nigeria gained independence in 1960, the public service comprised about 20,000 men and women, including about 2000 British officials. Today, I am sure the public service, with the army of politicians embedded in the fattening room, cannot be less than five million men and women. Can we really say that these five million citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are delivering the goods with the same level of efficiency like the 20,000? Are the trains running better and faster? Are the roads safer? Are the schools better? Are the hospitals more efficient? Are the judges wiser and less corrupt?

Few people want to step into the shoes of Lord Lugard. Who wants to trek from Lagos to Sokoto? For the 100 years the British were here, how many of the Governors, the Divisional Officers, the District Commissioners, the commanders and the top secretaries acquired land in Ikoyi, Victoria Island and other choice estates for their personal use? Lugard, who was governor also of Hong Kong, was not known to have acquired choice properties anywhere. He served the British crown and never claimed one plot of Nigeria for himself. How many people are willing to serve Nigeria now the way Lugard did the British imperial crown? Will serve Nigeria?

One step we need to take to show that we are serious with Nigeria is to take the issue of budget more seriously. Lugard died 72 years ago on April 11, 1945. Nigeria remains his major legacy. If we care about that legacy, then those who inherit the dirty shoes of Lugard need to take their assignment more seriously. They should not wait longer before they pass the national budget. Let us start getting certain things right about Nigeria. In the words of American novelist, John Gardner, the author of Gredel: “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

Posted On Thursday, 20 April 2017 01:21 Written by

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM: The Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr Usman Muktar, says the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, runway is ready for operation and can be opened on Wednesday.

Muktar stated this while speaking with newsmen during an inspection of the airport’s runway on Monday in Abuja.

The Abuja airport was closed on March 8 for six weeks to enable rehabilitation of its 3.6 kilometres runway to be carried out.

Flight activities were consequently diverted to Kaduna International Airport during the period.

The Federal Government had announced that the airport would be reopened for normal operations on April 19.

Muktar disclosed that NCAA had concluded the second phase of inspection as follow-up to the recommendations made to the contractors to correct some areas of concern earlier identified by a team of experts.

According to him, they inspected yesterday, made some observations but the findings that were found were not safety critical and today it is found that they have been rectified.

“We have carried out the inspection and we have confirmed that the job has been done quite satisfactorily in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standard and recommended practices.

“So, the airport, the runway is very ready to accept flight operations safely.

“By this, we are declaring that the airport and its runway are quite operational at the time that has been determined as the official opening of this airport,” he declared.

Muktar said that the agency had already issued “Notice to Airmen (NOTAM)’’ to all aviators worldwide that the airport was ready for reopening on Wednesday as scheduled.

On the calibration of the airport, he said that nothing had been tampered with as far as the instrument landing system was concerned to warrant recalibration.

According to him, calibrations are normally scheduled and very soon this airport will also be calibrated along with others.

“It will be normal routine calibration which will be applicable to other airports that are due for recalibration,” he said.

Earlier, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr Saleh Dunoma, had said that the runway was fully ready for reopening, adding that it had been completely cleaned up.

Dunona said that NCAA had given the operators a “clean bill of health’’, adding that some of the observations raised by the team of experts on the repair of the runway had been corrected.

He explained that the runway was cleared “because we have our technical team working across the length and breadth of the runway to make sure that every detail is observed.

“That is why all equipment has been evacuated from the runway.

“Later, all the professionals in NCAA and FAAN will carry out a detailed inspection again to ensure that all debris is cleaned up during final cleaning.

“Any moment from now, if there is any aircraft, we are ready to receive that aircraft, but of course, in aviation there are procedures because NOTAM has to be issued and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) will do that and then we are ready,” he said.

Posted On Tuesday, 18 April 2017 01:50 Written by

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM: IBRAHIM Magu will remain the boss at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Presidency has said.

Twice the Senate has refused to confirm Magu as the agency’s chairman, but the Presidency remains undeterred by the rejection.

It believes that:

  • the Presidency does not necessarily need to seek Magu’s confirmation – going by Section 171 of the 1979 Constitution; and
  • President Muhammadu Buhari is satisfied with Magu’s response to the report of the Department of State Services (DSS) on which the Senate based its action.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated the government’s position in an interview with some media houses.

According to The Cable, an online medium which was part of the interview, Osinbajo said President Buhari did not find the indictment by the DSS a strong reason to replace Magu.

The Vice President said the President felt the DSS report was “not meritorious” enough to withdraw Magu’s nomination.

Osinbajo said: “We should commend the president for not interfering with what the DSS said. The DSS came up with a report and the man who was accused refuted it.

“He explains and gives a reason. When that happened, the president looked at what Magu said and what the DSS wrote and he said ‘I am satisfied with what Magu said’.

“He then decided to retain Magu as the nominee for EFCC. I don’t see any reason why that should be contested.

“The president has not interfered with what the DSS said. If he wanted to interfere, he would have ordered the DSS to keep quiet. He didn’t do that, but he said ‘I don’t think the DSS report is meritorious enough to withdraw his nomination.’

“The president reserves the right to say, ‘this is who I want’. I’m fully in support of Magu as the EFCC chairman just as the president is.”

Osinbajo faulted the Senate for rejecting Magu based on DSS reports claiming that the decision was not in line with global standards. He said it is not only in Nigeria that lawmakers reject nominees based on reports.

He cited the nomination of the Attorney-General of the United States, Jeff Sessions who was retained by President Donald Trump despite negative reports.

He added: “You see the American example… There are various reports. People come up with all sorts of things. Look at Jeff Sessions (US attorney-general), for instance. There were many reports. Some accused him of being racist, some of this and that, but he is in office today.”

The Vice President said in the light of Section 171 of the 1999 Constitution, the President can retain Magu as EFCC chairman without confirmation by the Senate.

He said the Constitution is much more superior to EFCC Act which recommends the confirmation of the nominee for EFCC chairman.

He insisted that the Presidency can represent Magu for confirmation or leave him to do his job.

He said: “It is up to the Senate to make their judgment, and it is up to us say what we want to do. If our candidate is rejected, we can represent him. No law says we can’t represent him. And again, there is the other argument, whether or not we need to present him for confirmation and that’s a compelling argument from Femi Falana.

“His argument is that under the constitution, Section 171, and if you look at that section, it talks about the appointments that the president can make. They include appointments of ministers, ambassadors and heads of agencies, such as the EFCC.

“In that same Section 171, the Constitution rightly said that certain appointments must go to the Senate, such as ministerial and ambassadorial appointments. Those of heads of agencies like the EFCC do not have to go to the Senate. That’s what the constitution says.

“But the EFCC Act, which of course as you know is inferior, says that EFCC chairman should go to the Senate for confirmation.

“I am sure that even a pocket book lawyer knows that when a legislation conflicts with constitution, it’s the constitution that prevails.

“I agree with Mr. Falana that there was no need in the first place to have sent Magu’s name to the Senate, but we did so and it was rejected by the Senate, but I believe that it can be represented.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong about the fact that the Senate has rejected him. The Senate has acted in its own wisdom to say ‘No, we don’t want him’, and we can say, ‘This is our candidate… we like the gentleman and we want him to continue.”

The Senate has twice rejected the nomination of Magu by Mr. President due to adverse reports from the Department of State Security (DSS). At the last rejection, the lawmakers specifically asked that Magu be sacked and not represented for the position.

For the second time, the Senate on March 15 rejected Magu following reports from the DSS.

It recommended that Magu be sacked and not re-presented for the position.

To make good its threats, the Senate on March 28 suspended the confirmation of 27 newly appointed Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in protest against the continued stay of Magu as acting chairman of EFCC.

Posted On Wednesday, 12 April 2017 23:52 Written by
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