Sunday, 19 November 2017
News & Stories

News & Stories (1602)

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered the final forfeiture to the Federal Government of 56 houses situated in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja linked to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.

The value of the properties was put at 22 million dollars.

The forfeited properties include 21 mixed housing units of eight four-bedroom penthouse apartment, six three-bedroom apartments, two three-bedroom apartment and one four-bedroom apartment.

The properties located at 7, Thurnburn St., and 5, Raymond St., Yaba, are valued at N937 million and bought through Chapel Properties Ltd.

The 16 four-bedroom terrace located at Heritage Court Estate, Omerelu Street, Diobu GRA, Port Harcourt, River, valued at N928 million were bought through Blue Nile Estate Ltd.

Others are 13 units of 3-bedroom with one room maid’s quarter situated at Mabushi Gardens Estate, Plot 1205, Cadastral Zone B06, Mabushi, Abuja, valued at N650 million, were bought through Azinga Meadows Ltd.

Also, the A six flats of three-bedroom and one boys quarter located at Plot 808 (135), Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, valued at N805 million were bought for the ex-minister through Vistapoint property Development Ltd.

The forfeiture order followed a motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the permanent forfeiture of the properties.

The anti-graft agency while urging the court to grant the motion, argued that the properties sought to be attached “are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities”.

After listening to the submissions of EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Anselem Ozioko, Justice Abdulazeez Anka, granted the motion.

The judge noted that there was no response to the applicant’s motion on notice for final forfeiture by any of the respondents in spite of the fact that they were served with the hearing notice.

“I have gone through the affidavit attached to motion for final forfeiture as well as the submissions of the EFCC’s counsel, Mr Ozioko.

“The court has no option considering the incontrovertible evidence led by the EFCC than to grant the application.

“The motion for final forfeiture is accordingly granted as prayed. All parties have a right of appeal,” the judge ruled.

Joined as respondents in the suit are Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, Donald Chidi Amamgbo, Chapel Properties Ltd, Blue Nile Estate Ltd, Azinga Meadows Ltd, and Vistapoint Property Development Ltd. (NAN)

Posted On Wednesday, 11 October 2017 22:24 Written by

Three-year-old Caleb Popoola is on a hospital bed at the Paediatric and Child Care unit, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, Lagos. He is in coma on a life support machine. Master Caleb’s doctors have diagnosed him with ‘brain tumour’ and he needs N9million to survive.

A letter from LASUTH said Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) done on Caleb showed that he has a large Brainstem glioma with mild hydrocephalus.

His father, Akeem Popoola said Caleb, his first son, had been on a LASUTH hospital bed for three weeks.

He explained that the surgery would be done at Fortis Hospitals Limited in India.

He said: “It would cost N2, 711,250:00 ($7,500), while feeding and accommodation in India would cost N759, 150:00 ($2,100). Air ticket for Caleb would cost about N5million, because we cannot book normal air ticket for him, although we are still looking for something cheaper. He would be travelling on a stretcher; life oxygen and possibly the airline’s medical team would be on board to support him. My wife and I would also be traveling with him and we would need N860, 000 to buy air tickets, because ticket costs N430, 000 per person.”

Popoola noted that since the illness began last June 15, the family has spent about N1.8million on Caleb’s health, including, hospital bills and getting an Indian Visa.

He said the sickness started with Caleb limping on his right leg.

“He could not use his right hand and he was less active in school. We took him to a private hospital but we were told nothing was wrong with him; we later took him to LASUTH and we did all sorts of tests which all came out fine. It was when we did MRI test that we discovered that he had the ailment. We were told that where he had the tumour is very delicate and they cannot play around it. I was at University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan, Oyo State and Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH), all to no avail. I was told that his case was delicate and he cannot be handled in the hospitals due to lack of facilities. We are to spend a minimum of 42 days in India,” Popoola said.

He added: “We have taken him to various churches including The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Mowe, and Mountain of Fire Ministries (MFM) for prayers.”

Popoola is appealing for financial assistance for Caleb. Naira donations can be made to Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB), account name: Popoola Akeem and account number, 0006748242.

Dollar donations can be paid to Standard Chartered Bank, account name: Popoola Akeem and account number: 0002492351.

He can be reached on 08056573117 or 08095827721.

Posted On Wednesday, 11 October 2017 03:17 Written by

‘GMD’s response full of  distortions’

David-West: minister’s claims wild

Loyalists find gaps in NNPC’s position

POSERS FOR BARU, BY KACHIKWU’S LOYALISTS

 

•What becomes of Sections 130(2), 148(1) of the Constitution and Section 1(1) of NNPC Act?
•How can the NNPC Tenders Board appointed by Baru be responsible for approving
contracts in the light of Section 20(1) of the Public Procurement Act?
•What is the proof that Kachikwu as NNPC GMD did what Baru is doing?
•How can NNPC Board oversee budget without information?
•Why was Baru silent on the controversial appointments he made without briefing the board?
•Are there standards of transparency and due process when NNPC awarded contracts of
that magnitude without carrying NNPC Board along?

The crisis of confidence in the oil sector raged on yesterday, with some associates of the Minister of State, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, taking on the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru.

Kachikwu wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari, alleging that Baru

  • awarded $25billion contracts unilaterally;
  • ran a “bravado” management; and
  • made appointments without consultations.

Baru denied it all. He said no money was involved in the contracts and that the NNPC Tenders Board had no business reporting to Kachikwu and the corporation’s Board. The Presidency backed his position.

But Kachikwu’s “loyalists” have described Baru’s response as a potpourri of contradictions and distortions. To them, Baru’s and NNPC’s defence is “unconvincing”.

These verdicts were contained in a fact-sheet meant to clarify issues surrounding the disputed $25billion transactions by NNPC. 

The Nation stumbled on the fact-sheet yesterday. It may have been prepared against the backdrop of NNPC’s Monday statement, which described Kachikwu as a “liar” with his August 30 memo to President.

The loyalists of the Minister raised six posers for Baru and NNPC to answer.

The six posers, based on the 1999 Constitution, the NNPC Act and the Public Procurement Act, are as follows:

  • What becomes of Section 130(2), Section 148(1) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 1(1) of the NNPC Act if Baru said he did not have to consult the Minister and NNPC Board?
  • How can the NNPC Tenders Board appointed by Baru be responsible for approving contracts in the light of Section 20(1) of the Public Procurement Act?
  • What is the proof that Kachikwu as NNPC GMD did the same things that Baru is doing?
  • How can NNPC Board oversee budget without information?
  • Why was Baru silent on the controversial appointments he made without briefing the board? Did the silence confirm that the appointments were irregular or wrong?
  • Are there standards of transparency and due process when NNPC awarded contracts of that magnitude without carrying NNPC Board along?

The fact-sheet reads in part: “While not joining issues, it will be worrisome if relevant section of Nigerians and keen watchers of oil and gas industry are not put through on the response of the NNPC GMD, Dr. Maikanti Baru on policies on public procurement as enshrined in the relevant laws and regulations governing procurement in Nigeria, which include Public Procurement Act 2007 and Procurement Procedures Manual.

“The Public Procurement Act 2007 provides procurement guidance to all Federal ministries, extra-ministerial agencies, departments, agencies, parastatals, corporations and other public entities set up by the constitution or Acts of the National Assembly and /or whose funding derives from the Federation Accounts, their own internally generated revenue, the Federation share of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and special allocations in the federal budget or being entities outside of the foregoing description, derive at least 35% of the funds appropriated or proposed to be appropriated for any type of procurement described in the Public Procurement Act 2007, which NNPC is one.

“The procurement Act 2007 borders on Efficiency, Fairness, Transparency, Accountability and Ethical Standards, and way and manner such procurement shall be conducted, and the entities like Tenders’ Board with powers to do.

“And any procurement system that fails to take into consideration these relevant sections stimulated hesitation to compete, submission of inflated tenders containing a risk premium, or submission of deflated tenders followed by delayed or defective performance, collusion in bribery, bad value for money, and betrayal and abuse of the public trust for personal gain.

“Dr. Kachikwu’s leaked memo to the President sought among other things, to promote application of fair and competitive standard and ethical practices.

“But in his public response to the private memo to the President, it is clear to all fair-minded persons that the attempt of the NNPC GMD, Dr. Maikanti Baru, to defend himself is unconvincing, clear embarrassment to the person of President Buhari, his dream of sanctified institutions, and our dear constitution.

“The public response to the issues raised in the leaked memo to the President is a potpourri of contradictions, distortions, and clear breach of facts and logic.”

The loyalists faulted Baru’s claim that he did not need to consult the Minister and the Board on the alleged $25billion transactions.

They asked the NNPC boss to be more forthcoming on his non-consultation of the Minister and the Board in respect to the provisions of sections 130(2) and148(1) of the 1999 Constitution, and Section 1(1) of the NNPC Act

The fact-sheet  added: “The ministerial issue as viewed lacks substance. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (3rd alteration) is very clear on the powers of the President of the Federal Republic.

“By virtue of Section 130(2) of the Constitution, “the president shall be the Head of State, the Chief Executive of the Federation and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation,” and by virtue of Section 148(1) of the Constitution, ‘the president may, in his description, assign to the Vice-President or any Minister of the Government of the Federation responsibility for any business of the Government of the Federation, including the administration of any department of government.’

“So by the enshrinement of that Section 148(1) above, and the supremacy of the Constitution, according to Section 1 sub-section (1),  Baru’s submission as regards Kachikwu’s role as an appointed Minister by Mr. President is wrong, null, void and inconsistent with the constitution to the extent of its inconsistency.

“Again apart from the fact that every Board of parastatals, extra-ministerial or corporations etc. are the supervisory entities of such, the NNPC Act in Sections below are clear

“S. 1(1) says: ‘There shall be established a corporation by the name of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (hereinafter in the Act referred to as “the Corporation”) which shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue or be sued in its corporate name.

(2) The affairs of the Corporation shall be conducted by a Board of Directors of the Corporation which shall consist of a Chairman and the following other members, that is (a) the Director-General, Federal Ministry of Finance and Economic Development;

(b) The Managing Director of the Corporation; and

(c) Three persons to be appointed by the National Council of Ministers, being persons who by reason of their ability, experience or specialised knowledge of the oil industry or of business or professional attain.”

“Sub-section (2) of the Act is clear that the NNPC Board has overall supervisory powers over the corporation. How can these supervisory powers not include some kind of oversight on contracts worth billions of dollars?”

The minister’s loyalists faulted Baru’s claim that the NNPC Tenders Board is the only legal body to approve contracts and not the NNPC Board.

The fact-sheet said: “Baru’s claim that the NNPC Tenders’ Board, not the NNPC Board, is the right body to approve such contracts in question is also false. According to Public Procurement Act’s Section below:

S.20. (1) The accounting officer of a procuring entity shall be the person charged with line supervision of the conduct of all procurement processes; in the case of ministries the Permanent Secretary and in the case of extra-ministerial departments and corporations the Director-General or officer of co-ordinate responsibility.

(2) The accounting officer of every procuring entity shall have overall responsibility for the planning of, organization of tenders, evaluation of tenders and execution of all procurements and in particular shall be responsible for.”

“Apart from the GMD as the appointor of the Tenders’ Board, which he also chairs, his duty is purely to plan, organise, evaluate, execute and supervise the conduct of ‘procurement processes’ and not to approve contracts above his threshold under the seal of the Corporation.

“He cannot plan, organise, evaluate, execute procurement process, approve and execute approved projects. He lacks the statutory capacity to be the sole determinant of due process in the corporation.

“But after the approval by the NNPC Board, President or FEC, it is worthy of note that the Tenders’ Board, according to Public Procurement Act in Section 22 (3), ‘shall be responsible for the award of procurement of goods, works and services within the threshold set in the regulations.”

“Under the seal of the NNPC Board, according to the First Schedule, Part A, Sections 11, 12 and 13 of the NNPC Act which says:

“11. The fixing of the seal of the Corporation shall be authenticated by the signature of the Chairman and any other person authorized in that behalf by the Board.

  1. Any contract or instrument, which if made or executed by any person not being a body corporate would not be required to be under seal, may be made or executed on behalf of the Corporation by any person generally or specially authorised to act for that purpose by the Board.
  2. Any document purporting to be a contract, instrument or other document duly signed or sealed on behalf of the Corporation shall be received in evidence and, unless the contrary is proved, be presumed without further proof to have been so signed and sealed.”

The loyalists claimed that it was not true that Dr. Kachikwu as NNPC GMD did what Baru is doing

The fact-sheet states: “At the inception of Dr. Kachikwu’s term as the GMD NNPC, there was no NNPC board in place, and this void Kachikwu bridged by briefing the President weekly on all key issues. All actions and activities were sanctioned by Mr. President.

“Beyond that, it is on record that Dr. Kachikwu as the then GMD of NNPC instituted a culture of transparency at all levels which culminated to monthly publications of the operational activities and briefings of stakeholders of the corporation. This practice, which is a key component of the oil and gas reform plan, has since ended with his exit as the GMD.”

The loyalists asked Baru to explain how NNPC Board oversees the budget without information.

They also challenged NNPC and Baru to explain their silence on some controversial appointments made by the GMD.

They said Baru could not hide behind illegality to justify wrong actions.

The fact-sheet said: “Baru admitted that one of the NNPC board’s statutory responsibilities is overseeing the budget. How can the board perform this function if it has no information or input about contracts to be executed?

“Why was Dr. Baru silent on the controversial appointments he made without briefing the board? It is noteworthy that Dr. Baru was silent on the appointments which he carried out without informing the NNPC board, and were not subsequently ratified by the board.  His silence confirms that his appointments were irregular and wrong.

“The truth is, there are no standards of transparency and due process that will allow NNPC to award contracts of that magnitude without carrying the NNPC board along. Due process is about being open, not taking refuge behind distorted and convenient interpretations of the rules.

” Due process is not just the letter of the law. It is also about the spirit of the law. People who have nothing to hide, welcome the opportunity to share information with relevant stakeholders. As they say, transparency is the best deodorant.”

Posted On Wednesday, 11 October 2017 02:57 Written by

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters in Togo have marched in the capital, Lome in what they call the next phase of their campaign to force out President Faure Gnassingbe.

There were also big numbers of protesters in the second largest city of Sokode and the northern town of Bafilo, where youths blockaded a major highway connecting the north and south of the country.

Organisers had billed today's march as a "final warning" to the regime.

More rallies are expected on Thursday, described by organisers as a "march of anger", AFP news agency reports.

The main opposition leader, Jean-Pierre Fabre, said that they were going to maintain pressure on the government.

Protesters carried placards demanding the restoration of the 1992 constitution, which limited the number of presidential terms to two. Mr Gnassingbe is serving his third term in office.

He succeeded his father, meaning the same family has ruled Togo for 50 years.

At least four people have been killed and hundreds injured during weeks of anti-government protests in Togo.

Abdou Razak (C) of Togo demonstrates with others against President Faure Gnassingbé in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza outside the UN in New York on September19, 2017
AFP
Togolese in the diaspora have also joined in the protests
Posted On Thursday, 05 October 2017 01:35 Written by

The war of words between Senator Isa Hamma Misau (Bauchi Central) and Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris deepened yesterday, with the Senate opening a probe into the senator’s allegations against the police chief.

The lawmakers constituted a special panel to investigate the police boss for alleged misappropriation of funds, illegal promotion and posting of senior officers and bribery.

Misau also brought up an allegation of infidelity against the IG.

The panel is also empowered to investigate claims that the IG put an officer in the family way and secretly wedded her in Kaduna.

Senate President Bukola Saraki named Senate Deputy Chief Whip Francis Alimikhena (Edo North) as the chairman of the special panel.

Other members are: Senators Nelson Effiong, Binta Garba, Obinna Ogba, Faseyi Duro, Abdulaziz Nyako and Suleiman Hukunyi.

The special panel is to probe the corruption allegation against the police boss. The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions is to investigate claims of professional misconduct made by Misau against the IGP.

The committee is to submit its findings and report in two weeks.

Saraki said: “We have listened to our colleague and we cannot ignore the allegations. We have a duty to fight corruption. These matters are weighty and we have to investigate the allegations. We will set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate these allegations and report back to the Senate

“The ad-hoc committee we will set up will deal with all the allegations about misappropriation of funds made against the IGP. We will refer the other issues about personal misconduct against the IGP to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to for investigations. “

The row between Misau, a former police officer and the IGP blew open in August, when the Bauchi lawmaker, in an interview, claimed that police officers paid bribes to get favourable postings and promotions.

The police dismissed the claim as the ranting of a disgruntled deserter.

The IG, through Force spokesman Jimoh Moshood, said Misau’s claims were unfounded.

Moshood added that Misau was only out to discredit the institution of the police.

The police image maker added that Misau deserted the Force and that he would  soon be declared wanted so that he would be made to respond to a disciplinary committee set up to investigate him.

The police claimed: “Misau dubiously absconded and deserted the police on September 24, 2010, when he was redeployed to Niger State Command, consequent upon which he was queried, in line with the Public Service Rules.

“The police also alleged that Misau had previously faced disciplinary investigation when he refused to proceed on Junior Command Course (JCC) 49/2008 at Staff College, Jos, between January 15, 2009, and June 19, 2009.”

Rising on Order 45 on the floor of the Senate yesterday, Misau told his colleagues that the police boss was yet to respond to all the allegations he made against him.

Misau said that rather than address the issues he raised, the police authority was busy dealing with trivialities, including insulting him and his father.

He added another dimension to his claims when he told his colleagues that the police boss hurriedly married an officer after he put in the family way.

The officer, Misau said, was already four months pregnant when the IGP hurriedly arranged a marriage ceremony in Kaduna State.

He said that the officer used to serve in the office of the IGP.

Misau claimed that the expectant officer was promoted despite her lack of qualifications.

The Bauchi lawmaker noted that the marriage between the police boss and the officer contravened the code of ethics of the police.

Misau said: “During the recess, a lot of things happened between me and the office of the IGP. I am a retired police officer and served for 10 years and my father was in the police too and served for 34 years. In fact, my father joined the police even before I was born.

“So when I speak about the police, I know what I am saying. When I speak about the police, I speak on authority. I was concerned about what was happening in the police in terms of bribery which led the IG to be scared.

“I called three serving officers and they confirmed to me that people pay much more than N500,000 to get promotion. Even the revenue the police is generating we know. Police is not supposed to generate money. Meanwhile companies pay money to police to provide security for them. This is an open secret. It is obvious that even people with questionable character have police backing with siren all over the place.

“One police officer is supposed to be for 400 people, but in Nigeria, it is one police officer to 800 people and an oil marketer, for instance, will have over 30 policemen, thereby depleting the few police we have while the ordinary citizens are left without adequate protection.

“Another thing I found out is that there is illegal diversion of funds by the IGP. Under the 2016 budget, there is a place where IG ought to buy Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), but he bought luxury cars without virement.”

On his claims that the IGP put an officer in the family way, Misau said: “I am aware that the IGP has impregnated a female officer in his office. Because he wanted to save his face, he hurriedly went ahead and married the woman. The wedding ceremony was held in Kaduna State.

“The female officer was already four months pregnant. This is against the rules of the Police Service Commission. You cannot marry another police officer while you are still serving. But the IGP has flouted that law.”

Posted On Thursday, 05 October 2017 01:11 Written by

When the Union flag was lowered and the Nigerian flag raised 57 years ago there was a sense of euphoria. Many former colonies had to fight a war of independence in which many lives were lost but we were spared that trauma. So it would be fair to say that Nigeria got its independence on a platter of gold. But that gift was thrown away six years later. The war we didn’t have before independence we had it after: the Biafran war.

That war which lasted for 30 months and cost one million lives still haunts us today like an unscrutable mystery. At the end of that war General Yakubu Gowon had on Biafra’s surrender announced that there was “no victor and no vanquished.” He also established a three-pronged programme of reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction, as a way of bringing the war weary Easterners from the cold into the comfort of the Nigerian family again. The rebel leader, Emeka Odumgwu-Ojukwu, who had fled to the Ivory Coast remained in exile for 12 years. When President Shehu Shagari pardoned him he was allowed to return to the country without any pre-conditions. That gesture represented the final nail in the coffin of secession.

The Igbos who were the major victims of the war or of its cause in the first place have never felt convinced that they have been fully reabsorbed and their rights as full-fledged citizens of Nigeria fully restored. This argument has gone on for years and many Nigerians on the opposite side of the war are convinced that the Igbos having fought and lost a war could not expect to be treated as if they had won the war. War is a serious business that often comes with serious and dangerous consequences. In the political arena, the Igbos have produced a vice president, several Senate presidents, a Central Bank governor and a number of ministers that took charge of important portfolios. In the security sector, two Igbos had become the Inspector General of Police, while another Igbo man had occupied the strategic position of Chief of Army Staff. But many Igbos have argued that they have been denied the top trophy: the Presidency.

The Presidency is the top job in the land and many people from various parts of the country covet it. No one is likely to wrap it like a parcel with a ribbon around it and donate it to the Igbos. If they want it they must work for it by networking with other groups and doing the necessary horse-trading. However, I believe that their flirtation with secession through MASSOB and IPOB is clearly the wrong way to go. If the thesis is that an attempt, even a half hearted attempt, at secession will induce the political decision makers to donate the presidency to the Igbos it is a fraudulent thesis. In fact, on the contrary the agitation for secession will rather damage almost irreparably the case for an Igbo presidency. My advice to the Igbos is for them to begin to mend fences now instead of allowing Nnamdi Kanu and his gang to put a fly in the Igbo ointment.

The two major parties, APC and PDP have allocated the presidency to the North. If the Igbos choose to contest for the presidency in the PDP they will have to wait until 2027. But if they want to run in the APC they have to pray that President Muhammadu Buhari runs again in 2019 and successfully brings his second term to an end in 2023. If someone else from the North runs in 2019 he will go for two fresh terms which will terminate in 2027. But the Igbos can choose any of the minor parties as a platform but the chances for success on such party platforms are extremely slim. The starting point is to rein in Nnamdi Kanu and his gang and begin to build trust as they network with other political and ethnic groups in the country.

At present, Nigeria is in a state of confusion arising from agitations from different groups in the country. Old questions about the Nigerian condition have arisen and these questions are begging for new answers. The reason for the search for new answers is that the old answers have not been adequate in laying to rest the ghosts of these questions. Ours is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious community. In such a heterogeneous polity with several nationalities each with their own set of values and expectations, there will always be differences of opinion. The problem is often how to find many points of convergence and reduce the many areas of divergence so that all groups can find comfortable accommodation within the polity. As of now no group is certain that it has found its comfort zone. That is why we have several discordant tunes.

It is most unlikely that we can all agree all the time on all the issues that confront us and affect our lives. But we must understand where we all stand and where we all want to go. We must search for shared beliefs, shared expectations, shared goals and common grounds. We moved from centrifugalism instalmentally in the 60s into the extreme centripetalism that the military bestowed on us. This has brought a political gridlock that manifests itself in unpaid bills, new foreign and domestic debts, unsettled staff salaries and pension benefits, spiraling inflation, corruption, unemployment, crisis of rising expectations and high crime and many other dysfunctionalities. These have combined to put pressure on the country’s unity and sense of oneness. This has also made the search for a new direction urgent, very, very urgent.

A lot of things are wrong with our country and these are problems that have been with us for many years. A time like this offers us an opportunity for introspection. The World Bank says that about 67 per cent of Nigerians go to bed everyday on an empty stomach. That is a dangerous situation because a hungry person can become an angry person. Besides, there is a long unemployment and underemployment queue whose estimate is more than 25 per cent. That means that we all are sitting on a keg of gunpowder. The worst aspect of the problem is that the opportunities are shrinking further as factories close shop or trim their operations and show some of their staff the exit door. We have been told that the economy has made its exit out of recession but we need to stimulate it for optimal growth so that we can begin to experience some worthwhile improvements in no distant date.

Every year we go through the ritual of drawing up, presenting and defending the national budget. Most of the time these budgets are passed in the middle of the year. This means that there is often not much time for implementation before the year draws to a close. Then the ritual starts again without any information to the public on how much of the previous year’s budget was actually implemented. This year’s budget had experienced some hiccups which led to its late passage. Even when it was passed with all the padding that was done by the legislators no one was truly sure what was eventually approved by the executive. Isn’t there a way of reducing these uncertainties and the acrimony that reduce budgeting to the science of voodooism?

How can we make our governments work better so as to reduce the level of poverty, disease, ignorance, corruption, terrorism, cultism, infrastructural decay etc when the bulk of our budget, about 80 per cent, goes into recurrent expenditure? With only 20 per cent left for capital projects how much can we achieve to turn around a country with decaying infrastructural facilities? Pretty little. So it is clear that as a nation we are living above our means; we are piling up debts, foreign and domestic again, we are mortgaging our future and the future of our children. Our governments and parliaments are engaged in conspicuous consumption not minding the dire state of the economy and the poor state of its people. No one expected that at 57 Nigeria’s economy would be in the bind in which it is now considering our massive mineral and manpower resources. But it appears the presence of such solid and liquid mineral resources has unbelievably become a harbinger of doom, a disincentive to hardwork and creativity, a curse from which we have made very little effort to exit.

The little piece of good news is that there has been some encouraging happenings in the agricultural sector. If we do not take our eyes off the ball in that sector we may be self-sufficient in food production before 2019. That would be a good legacy for the Buhari administration and an indication that oil or no oil we can survive. And thrive.

Buhari is President at a momentous time in the annals of our country, a time during which the very existence of the country as a unit is being challenged once again. The nation expects him to be a great bridge-builder and unifier and one with a vision of a greater Nigeria. That vision demands that he rises above the din of ethnic and geographical irredentists and comes up with a life changing transformation agenda for Nigeria. That demands courage and the right dose of political will. The next two years will reveal whether he has them or not.

http://guardian.ng/opinion/does-buhari-have-it/

Posted On Wednesday, 04 October 2017 00:12 Written by

IT was simply impossible not to empathise with the Minister of Education, Mr Adamu Adamu’s sense of indignation during the celebration of the International Literacy Day. In a moment of agonising self-indictment, he admitted that the number of illiterates in the country had literally hit the roof under his watch, being “between 65 million and 75 million.” The minister revealed this when he paid a courtesy call on Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State at the state capital, Birnin Kebbi, during the two-day International Literacy Day Conference organised by the National Commission for Mass Education. Represented by the Director of Basic and Secondary Education in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Jonathan Mbaka, the minister said that with the estimated population of Nigeria at 170 million, the number of illiterates was too high. He said: “Education is the bedrock of any country’s development and any country that does not educate its populace is bound to fail. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, we have a large population of illiterates; the figure, considering our population, is unbecoming.”

This dismal figure represents just a tad below 45 per cent of the country’s estimated population and that is alarming, to put it mildly. What makes the situation worse is the staggering figure of out-of-school children in the country, as the states from the southern part of the country have also joined in producing the league of illiterates. Even at that, the rate of school dropouts is also very high. Confronted by existential problems, children who were once enrolled in schools have been leaving schools to fend for themselves even when public schools have been failing to impart qualitative education to those who attend them. In other words, it may be misleading to assume that children enrolled in schools are getting educated enough to become assets to the country. Many of them are hardly benefitting from the poor and crude infrastructure and personnel in these schools and the government appears to be oblivious of the damning reality.

The situation is really a quandary. Rescue is a far cry away because if school leavers at different levels are regularly left despondent, desultory and without any gainful employment, it will be difficult, not to say impossible, to persuade others that attending schools is actually a good option. It would seem that the fundamental question of the philosophy of education, that is, “education for what?”, should be addressed by governments at all levels, as the notion that education is merely to access white-collar jobs is not really helpful after all. Equally unhelpful has been the practice of rampant, automatic promotion in public primary and secondary schools which makes pupils to write public examinations which they are not prepared for.

Governments at all levels should be single-minded about mass literacy, as opposed to having certificates for the purposes of employment. It is vitally important even for those doing menial jobs to be literate. We think that massive public education and campaigns are necessary in this direction. Of course, there are agencies of government saddled with the task of achieving mass literacy and encouraging adult learning, and it has now become imperative to assess their activities and impact on the people. The fact that some people do not have certificates should not mean that they are unable to read the prescriptions on their drugs or cross the road at the prompting of traffic lights.

The National Commission for Mass Education must register its relevance in terms of performance. Making people literate should be clearly separated from formal education. The commission should be able to draw the line and come up with programmes that will be accessible to both the old and young populations. A situation in which about 45 per cent of the country’s population are virtually illiterate should bother the authorities. We think that the way to go is to encourage people to go to school, adults for adult literacy programmes and the youth populations for regular education. The government should also equip the nation’s schools and motivate the teachers to make learning a delightful experience.

http://www.tribuneonlineng.com/nigerias-75-million-illiterates/

Posted On Wednesday, 04 October 2017 00:07 Written by

By its very nature, a library is an indispensable resource of any institutions of learning. It is a collection of sources of information and similar resources, made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. Before the (digital) big data age, a library consists of a building, room or virtual space where a vast array of information resources are stored and accessed for study. In its simplicity, a library is a basic necessity for schools and other educational institutions for the purpose of acquiring knowledge.

Which is why most functional, effective and result-oriented school systems always have library resources, which include books, newspapers, periodicals, maps, films, prints, documents, CDs, cassettes, videotapes, DVDs, e-books, audio books, databases.

The information and resources in a library could be limitless depending on the scale and purpose for which it was set up. Libraries could be organised and maintained by a public body, an institution or individual to serve the same purpose. 

But in Nigeria, there is nowhere citizens can actually turn to find good libraries. Only very few private schools maintain some semblance of good libraries. Public libraries in schools from federal to local government councils have disappeared. In fact, in the 41-year-old Abuja, the national library project is the most neglected project scheme in the central business district (CBD).

It is against this backdrop that a recent promise by the Federal Government to provide adequate funding for school libraries makes some sense. Somehow, it is strange that the issue of library is being treated as a separate issue from the decadent education system: the two are inseparable. Talking of a school without good libraries has been part of the reasons for the downward trend and absence of competitiveness in education here this newspaper commented on two weeks ago. Sadly, most schools in the country are in that quagmire.

That is why the government’s promise to fund libraries shouldn’t be mere rhetoric considering that there had been similar impromptu promises that were not fulfilled. Again, we are in a tenure midterm ambush when political leaders make empty promises to win public support for next elections. That shouldn’t be the case.

There are so many reasons this library revival project should not be a pipe dream. In the first place, most citizens as we often do here, have been concerned about little or no attention that governments at all levels pay to education. Specifically, all our institutions of higher learning are poorly rated in global and continental contexts. Yet, our students who go abroad for undergraduate and graduate studies are daily reported as beating world records in academic pursuits. The records should have been beaten at home in our schools. Nigerian power elite members usually travel abroad for even short-term skills acquisition courses in foreign universities that have some global brand equity. What is worse, when it comes to graduate employability index in global context, Nigeria is nowhere to be found.Even most of the private primary and post primary schools that are doing well here, there are foreign labels such as “British and Montessori Schools.” Just in the same vein, some of them are foreign missions such as Loyola Jesuit’s. Sadly, our public officers elected and hired to take care of these institutions get their wards admitted into these “glocalised’’ schools in the country. This is shameful and unacceptable.

Again, we would like to call on the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who promised the library revival project during the 2017 National Readership Promotion Campaign, organised by the National Library of Nigeria in Abuja to be a promise keeper. Education is on the concurrent legislative list. And so, all the 36 states and 774 local governments that actually have more schools should not be left out. They should note that without quality education, there will be no development on any fronts. They should therefore pay attention, not only to the equipment of libraries, they should also equip the schools and teachers to have an all-round development in education.

After all, the event that set off the pledge for the revival of the libraries, had as its theme, ‘‘Working together to build a virile reading nation: Challenges and Strategies,’’ and was aimed at promoting reading culture in the country.

But it is hard to agree with the minister’s observation on the occasion that the present generation of Nigerians is to blame for the poor reading culture. What have the elders including the minister bequeathed to the present generation? Are the elders too reading to solve the problems of society? If the elders had had a reading culture, would all the libraries have collapsed?

Education administrators and policy makers should note that traditional libraries are not common anymore. What is in vogue is the development of virtual libraries known as e-libraries, which can be accessed from any locations through the Internet. That is the direction the world is going and Nigeria should not be left out. Governments and private proprietors should ask for experts who will help them develop some e-libraries while re-equipping the old ones where necessary. After all, it is said that, “a library is the great gymnasium where we go to make our minds strong.” But ultimately, there should be commitment to funding education in a radical manner that can deliver employable products of our schools for development.

http://guardian.ng/opinion/a-time-to-build-modern-libraries/

Posted On Tuesday, 03 October 2017 23:39 Written by

•Welcomes Zamfara’s acceptance of Justice Anka’s sack over N200, 000 bribe

The National Judicial Council (NJC) is probing 15 judges for alleged misconduct.

Two of those under investigation are Chief Judges.

Fifteen committees – one for each of the cases – have been constituted to handle the petitions.

But the NJC’s Informastion Director Soji Oye, who confirmed the probe in a statement, did not name the judges.

Oye said the NJC constituted the committees at its 83rd meeting last week in Abuja after considering the reports of the two Preliminary Complaints Assessment Committees (PCAC) it set up to examine 46 petitions written against judges of federal and state courts.

The NJC also agreed to recommend Lagos lawyer Adesina Ogunlana to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC.) for allegedly using “uncouth” language in a petition he wrote against a former Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade.

Oye said the NJC treated as withdrawn, the petitions against Ondo State’s Acting Chief Judge, Justice O. O. Akeredolu and Justice J. T. Tsoho of the Federal High Court.

NJC, he said, issued two letters of advice to Hon. Mr. Justice M. A. Dada of the Lagos State High Court and Hon. Mr. Justice Chukwudi Charles Okaa of the Anambra State High Court for violation of extant laws in the course of their judicial duties

The statement added: “It (NJC) dismissed a total number of 31 petitions, 29 of which it found unmeritorious, and the remaining two written against Hon. Mr. Justice J. T. Tsoho of the Federal High Court and Hon. Mr. Justice O. O. Akeredolu, Acting Chief Judge of Ondo State, were withdrawn at the instance of the petitioners.

“Al-Sagr National Insurance Company that wrote against Hon. Mr. Justice Tsoho withdrew its petition since the Hon. Judge had delivered the ruling in his case.

“Chief Raheem A. Badmus who wrote against Hon. Justice Akeredolu also voluntarily withdrew his petition for personal reasons.

“Council treated the two petitions as withdrawn, since it did not find anything in them sufficiently serious for further consideration as stipulated in Regulation 9 (1) of the Judicial Discipline Regulations.

“Council considered and found worthy of further investigation, the petition written by Azi A. Phillip on behalf of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Plateau State Chapter, accusing Hon. Justice P. D. Damulak, the immediate past Chief Judge of Plateau State of bias, for failure to make his judgment in suit No. PLD/J/236/16 delivered on 4th November, 2016 available to him till the time he wrote the petition.

“Council however decided not to constitute an investigative committee to look into the matter, because the Hon. Chief Judge had already retired from service and therefore no longer in the employment of the National Judicial Council.

“It also considered and dismissed petitions written against two other judicial officers for lack of merit. They are Hon. Justice Mr. L. T. C. Eruba – High Court of Justice, Abia State; andHon. Grand Kadi Abdullahi Waiya – Sharia’h Court of Appeal, Kano State.

“It also decided to issue two letters of advice to Hon. Mr. Justice M. A. Dada of the Lagos State High Court of Justice and Hon. Mr. Justice Chukwudi Charles Okaa of the Anambra State High Court for violation of extant laws in the course of their judicial duties based on petition written against their Lordships by Dayo Adamolekun, Esq. & Ridwanulah Olanite, Esq. and Reverend F. U. Ekavhiare & Associates respectively.

“ Council agreed to report Adesina Ogunlana, Esq., to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (L.P.D.C.) for misconduct, for the use of uncouth language in a petition written to the National Judicial Council against Hon. Justice O. O. Atilade, the immediate past Chief Judge of Lagos State.

“Council welcomed as good development, a letter from Zamfara State Government approving the recommendation of the National Judicial Council for the compulsory removal of Hon. Mr. Justice Musa Ibrahim Anka from office for allegedly receiving a bribe of Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N200, 000) from one Zubairu Abdumalik in order to deliver judgement in his favour.

“The recommendation was made to the Zamfara State Government by Council in 2011.”

Posted On Tuesday, 03 October 2017 00:56 Written by

A 27-year-old trader, Mrs Victoria Amodu, yesterday told an Ikeja High Court, Lagos that an Investigative Police Officer (IPO) at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Ikeja Division, demanded sex to release her from custody.

Amodu, a mother of four, gave the testimony as a defence witness in her trial for alleged conspiracy and armed robbery, before Justice Kudirat Jose.

The defendant, who denied the allegation, was arraigned alongside one Hammed Isiaka on a six-count charge of conspiracy to commit robbery and armed robbery, contrary to Section 295(2)(a) of the Criminal Law No 11 Laws of Lagos State, 2011.

One of the charges reads: “Hammed Isiaka, Victoria Amodu and others now at large, on or about August 12, 2014 while armed with a pistol did rob one Elizabeth Moses of a cash sum of N35, 000 and a cheque of N1.4m.”

However, while being led in evidence by her counsel, Nelson Onyejaka, Amodu told Justice Jose that she was unjustly arrested by the police on August 12, 2014 at Church Bus stop, Badagry, Lagos.

She said she was selling bread at the bus stop when policemen raided the area, arrested her and others and bundled them into their truck, where they met some men who were already tied up.

Narrating the incident, Amodu said: “I was arrested by the police while I was selling bread and taken to the station at SARS, Ikeja. An IPO (name not mentioned) there told me to call someone that would come for my bail. I called a neighbour, a lady that helps me look after my kids. When she arrived, the IPO said a woman could not sign my bail bond, which he put at N400,000.

“I became worried because I didn’t know any man to call since I was no longer living with my husband and I was also new in Lagos. I decided to call my father but he refused coming to the station. He said since I was married he had no hand in anything concerning me.

“I didn’t know what else to do at this time, so I started begging the IPO to let me go and take care of my kids since I didn’t commit any offence. The IPO took me outside the cell to a corner and said that I am a pretty lady and that if I submit myself to him, I would be freed. I got angry and shouted at him, asking why he would make such a statement to me. He immediately, dragged me back to the cell. Some others who were arrested that day were released after they paid money, though I don’t know how much they paid.

“Nights after, the IPO brought out some case files and told me and others in the cell to sign them. He said that when we were done signing, we would be released. I agreed to sign the documents on the condition that he would not touch me. But the other men refused saying they couldn’t sign what they didn’t know.

“The IPO immediately brought out his gun and threatened to shoot them if they didn’t sign and they fearfully signed it.

“After signing the documents, we were all taken to a Magistrates Court and from there, to Kirikiri Prison.”

Amodu pleaded with the court to tamper justice with mercy and permit her to go home to cater for her children.

During cross-examination by prosecution counsel, Mrs Awosika, Amodu denied knowing the first defendant, Isiaka.

She said she had never seen him before and only met him for the first time in court on the day of arraignment.

Isiaka, a driver, who also testified while being led by his counsel, Mrs Olamide Amore-Akintoye, said he was arrested on his way from Seme border while carrying food items belonging to a customer.

He said his car was impounded and taken to the station where he was locked up after he failed to pay for his release.

Justice José adjourned till November 29 for adoption of final addresses.

Posted On Thursday, 28 September 2017 01:15 Written by
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