Tuesday, 21 November 2017
Parliament

Parliament (554)

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s governing party moved on Friday to expel President Robert Mugabe from its ranks, taking the first step in legally ousting the 93-year-old leader following a military intervention two days earlier.

A majority of the leaders of the party, ZANU-PF, recommended Mr. Mugabe’s expulsion from the very organization that he had controlled with an iron grip since independence in 1980, according to ZBC, the state broadcaster.

Military officers have insisted that their takeover was not a coup, but the party’s leaders appeared on Friday to be providing political cover for the intervention. The party’s central committee, Parliament and Mr. Mugabe’s cabinet could now take steps to officially end his presidency, if he does not resign.

The military arrested Mr. Mugabe early Wednesday, effectively ending his 37-year rule, although it allowed him to appear in public on Friday to address a university graduation.

Later on Friday, party members endorsed the military’s efforts to stabilize the economy and defuse political instability. They echoed military commanders in arguing that the intervention was aimed at rooting out a cabal of corrupt interlopers who had clouded Mr. Mugabe’s judgment and his ability to govern.

“Many of us had watched with pain as the party and government were being reduced to the personal property of a few infiltrators with traitorous histories and questionable commitment to the people of Zimbabwe,” the party leaders said in a resolution. “Clearly, the country was going down the wrong path.”

 

An armored personnel carrier in Harare on Friday. CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

The resolution recommended that Mr. Mugabe be removed for taking the advice of “counterrevolutionaries and agents of neo-imperialism”; for mistreating his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom Mr. Mugabe abruptly dismissed last week; and for encouraging “factionalism.” It urged the “immediate and unconditional reinstatement” of Mr. Mnangagwa, who appears poised to succeed Mr. Mugabe, at least until national elections scheduled for next year.

 

Party members also moved to schedule a march for Saturday in support of the military.

Over the past few days, the military has been in negotiations to find a peaceful and face-saving way for Mr. Mugabe to exit the scene, in talks mediated by South Africa and other countries in the region, and by the Roman Catholic Church.

The military has insisted that its intervention was not a coup. The Herald, the state-run newspaper, said the military “had taken action to pacify the degenerating political, social and economic situation in the country,” which “if left unchecked would have resulted in violent conflict,” and said the action was intended “to flush out reactionary and criminal elements around the president.”

On Friday, Mr. Mugabe was freed — if only temporarily — to address a university graduation ceremony. It was his first public appearance since the military placed him under house arrest — an illustration, perhaps, that this was no ordinary attempt to oust a despot.

Mr. Mugabe, 93, has dominated his country since independence from Britain 37 years ago, surviving through a blend of political skill, brutality, manipulation and patronage dispensed among a corrupt elite.

Those days “are numbered,” though, said Chris Mutsvangwa, the leader of Zimbabwe’s influential war veterans’ movement, which was founded to represent those who fought in the seven-year liberation war in the 1970s but has emerged as a powerful political force.

At a news conference, Mr. Mutsvangwa cranked up pressure on Mr. Mugabe, saying the longtime leader would face huge calls for his ouster at a rally on Saturday.

At his news conference, Mr. Mutsvangwa said several key regions in Zimbabwe’s Shona-speaking heartlands — the base of ZANU-PF’s support — had approved calls for the president’s expulsion. Mr. Mugabe himself has in the past used orchestrated maneuvering in the provinces to undermine national figures in Harare.

The talks involving the Catholic Church and South African mediators are intended to devise some form of transition that would have the appearance of constitutional legitimacy while providing a decorous departure for a leader whose role in the pre-independence liberation struggle is central to the national narrative.

The military’s ultimate intention has apparently been to effect a transfer of power without the appearance of illegality that might draw further opprobrium from outside Zimbabwe or frighten off potential investors.

“The army is trying to keep people guessing” while talks continue, said Frank Chikowore, a Zimbabwean journalist.

The ZANU-PF resolution on Friday singled out the G-40, a faction of politicians aligned with Mr. Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe. It denounced four of them as “criminals and counterrevolutionaries”: Jonathan N. Moyo, the minister of higher education; Ignatius M. Chombo, the finance minister; Saviour Kasukuwere, minister for local government; and Patrick Zhuwao, the minister for public services, labor and social welfare.

The party did not, however, explicitly condemn Mrs. Mugabe, whose recent aspirations to succeed her husband appear to have been a trigger for his downfall.

Outside the main cities on Friday, the military set up roadblocks on main highways, apparently to thwart any attempt at organized resistance. Buses traveling from Bulawayo, the second city, to Harare, the capital, were pulled over and boarded by soldiers who checked documents and asked passengers about their business. Sometimes, travelers reported, the soldiers ordered passengers off the buses for inspection. Some were asked if they were carrying weapons.

Such was the official concern to maintain an appearance of normalcy that the state broadcaster devoted the first 10 minutes of its news bulletin on Thursday to interviews with people across the land and, as if scripted, all repeated the same refrain: “It’s business as usual.” Mr. Mugabe’s appearance at the graduation ceremony — however surreal — seemed to be part of the same stratagem.

Some Zimbabweans suggested that the officers’ calculation might offer Mr. Mugabe a chance to play hardball in closed-door talks.

In the annals of Africa’s many uprisings and coups, the script often involves the strongman fleeing into exile or being imprisoned or even shot.

Instead, Zimbabwe’s military allowed Mr. Mugabe to return to State House, his official residence, and on Friday, he appeared in a bright blue cap and gown, under tight security, to oversee the graduation ceremony in Harare. At one point, he appeared to doze, his head lolling.

By appearing at the ceremony, Mr. Mugabe wanted to give “the impression that he is still in charge,” Mr. Mutsvangwa said. “He is finished.”

“He is defying the population, trying to give a semblance of normality when things are not normal,” Mr. Mutsvangwa said. “That’s why we are saying: Don’t lie to yourself; it’s a delusion. You know he has been deluding himself — he is deluded.”

Mr. Mugabe — in official portrayals at least — has maintained power as an enduring emblem of the fight to expunge colonial influence in Africa.

But he has presided over a precipitous economic decline that began with the seizing of white-owned farms starting in 2000. Joblessness has soared, and a shortage of foreign currency has driven up the price of imports. At the same time, a loyal elite around him has amassed villas, farms and high-end automobiles.

Posted On Saturday, 18 November 2017 13:56 Written by

The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, to me, is the greatest Yoruba oba alive today. Greatest in terms of his intellectual capacity and his understanding of the responsibilities culture has placed on his divine shoulders.

Although the vault of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Sijuwade Okunade, bespoke on riches untold, Alaafin’s unspeakable wealth lies in his unequalled understanding of the Yoruba’s resplendent history, mores and culture.

He exemplified his matchless repertoire of Yoruba history during the inauguration of the incumbent Timi of Ede, Oba Munirudeen Adesola Lawal, as the Laminisa I, in 2008. During the ceremony, which held in Ede, Ooni Okunade missed the point when he told the audience that the new Timi wasn’t the first from the Laminisa ruling house to be installed as Timi. This position wasn’t, of course, in tandem with the reality presented by the Laminisa ruling house on the occasion 

When it was the turn of the Alaafin to speak, he took the audience, which I was part of, down historical path, painting a vivid picture of how Ede was founded even as he traced, off the cuff, the names and dates of the installation of all the Timis of Ede. A resounding applause greeted his great insight.

I have followed, at a distance, the life of the Alaafin. I know that the Iku Baba Yeye has not forgotten all he learnt about boxing, a sport he picked up as a youth – watching the online video of his pugilistic skills that went viral a few years ago. The paramount ruler is also a world-acclaimed dancer and drummer, too.

Death pursued the Oodua Peoples Congress to my doorstep in Akure where I was a correspondent of PUNCH newspapers around 2000. It was Ogundamisi, Adam’s able lieutenant that lay ‘lifeless’ on the ground floor of the two-storey building that housed PUNCH newspapers’ outstation office at Adegbola Junction along the popular Oyemekun Road in Akure.

I had looked at the almost lifeless and bloodied man on the floor and taken him for a vagrant, sidestepping him unto the stairway en route to the topmost floor, where my office was. I think I saw one or two other OPC members on the ground floor, battered and tattered.

After I had worked for a while in the office on that particular Sunday morning, Ogundamisi, the bloodied man downstairs came knocking on my door. The sun ray must have woken him up. Being a Sunday, and for fear of attack, I always locked the iron burglarproof at the door.

When I heard the knock, I went to the door where I saw Ogundamisi, (I’ve forgotten his first name now), laboring to breathe. He introduced himself in impeccable English, and that got me to open the burglarproof for him.

He then related the story of how himself and Gani Adams in company with hundreds of OPC members – in a convoy of several vehicles – were attacked in Owo en route to Arigidi Akoko. Scores of OPC members were killed. The incident became the lead story of The PUNCH, the next day. The morgue of the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, could not take the dead as they were taken to other health facilities in the state.

Particularly, Ogundamisi was deeply worried about the safety of Adams. He said all the OPC members in the convoy fled in different directions during the night attack.

When PUNCH transferred me to Lagos in 2002, I followed the OPC in the media.
I recall that during the actualization of the June 12 struggle, it was NADECO and not the OPC that mobilized the Yoruba, nay Nigerians, against the military dictatorship headed by General Sani Abacha. It wasn’t the OPC.

Over the years, the OPC has grown from a money-for-security organization to becoming a monster in the South-West. A visit to police stations in any part of the South-West would reveal how mainly illiterate OPC members have been taking the law into their own hands, maiming and killing members of the society in the guise of providing security and settling dispute.

What is chivalrous in an organization that collects money and extorts to provide service? What is noble in an organization whose members are noted for raping, robbery, killing and ritualism?

Gani Adams, the headship of this type of organisation has risen today to become the Aare Ona Kakanfo of the Yoruba. Yoruba ronu.

When Nnamdi Kanu emerged as the new voice of Igbo leadership, I laughed and asked one of my friends, Joel Nwokeoma, ‘is this how low the Igbo nation has sunk’? Joel is having the last laugh now.

Let’s wait and see who the Hausa/Fulani would throw up.

I read someone saying that in ancient Oyo kingdom, the position of the Kakanfo is meant for miscreants. There is nothing farther from the truth than this. In the old Oyo Empire of the 17th and 18th centuries, the Kakanfo was the head of the Eso, who were, according to Wikipedia, ‘70 junior war chiefs nominated by the Oyo Mesi and confirmed by the Alaafin. The Kakanfo later rose to become the supreme military commander and was required to live in a frontier province to keep an eye on the enemy, and to keep him from usurping the government. Forces inside metropolitan Oyo were commanded by the Bashorun, who is a leading member of the Oyo Mesi’.

Which war has Gani Adams fought on behalf of the Yoruba? I only remember Gani to have won for himself a multi-billion pipeline contract from the clueless Goodluck Jonathan government. I also remember Gani Adams unleashed terror on Nigerians in Lagos when the OPC marched for Jonathan during the countdown to the 2015 presidential election.

I have four witnesses who lived in my Iyana Ipaja area, and who are respectable members of the society.
Mr Ben Tomoloju (former Guardian Deputy Editor); Mr Paul Bassey (former Editor, Champion newspaper, former FIFA media consultant); the late Uncle Ben Bayo (former Creative Arts Editor, PUNCH) and a former colleague, Adekunle Salami (aka Slam) who lived in the Mulero axis of Iyana Ipaja in Lagos State.

I mentioned these names to buttress the fact that Nigerians, generally, and not the OPC, fought the military junta. These people were in one way or the other involved/affected in the June 12 struggle and they were never OPC members.

These people I mentioned can testify to the fact that the Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos was the hottest frontline during the struggle to actualise June 12.

I was one of the voluntary youth mobilizers in my area, and I could have been killed by a heavily armed soldier who pursued me into a church on Coker Street, Funlayo Bus Stop, if not for God using the fact that I know the terrain very well.

People were shot before my very eyes at Iyana Ipaja during the struggle.

I trekked from Mulero to Iyana Ipaja in company with thousands of youths every morning to keep a date with fate against the haters of democracy.

I didn’t see any OPC mobilizer during those days.

It is wrong to say that the OPC fought for the actualization of June 12. Nigerians rose against Abacha, not the OPC, please.

The statures of the last two occupiers of the title, Chief Ladoke Akintola, and Chief MKO Abiola, make Gani Adam’s ascension to the title a huge insult!

Enter, the generalissimo that ran with his tail between his legs from some gun-wielding boys in Owo.

Yoruba, welcome the era of an Aare Ona Kakanfo, whose organization exploits, extorts, rapes, kills, maims and robs the citizenry.

Gani Adams’ ascension to the post of Aare Ona Kakanfo is a reward for thuggery, violence and all that is despicably wracking our nation.

Gani w-h-a-t?

The Alaafin got it wrong this time round!

Odesola, a former journalist with Punch, wrote from the United States.

Posted On Friday, 27 October 2017 11:35 Written by

ECONOMY

Growth in Agriculture and Solid Minerals:

The number of sub-sectors of the economy experiencing negative growth has almost halved; falling from 29 sub-sectors for the whole of 2016 to 16 in Q1 2017. Growth in manufacturing has returned to positive territory after five quarters of negative growth. It grew by 1.36% in Q1 2017 after falling to -7.0% in Q1 2016.

Our priority Sectors of Agriculture and Solid Minerals have seen improved

performance, in spite of the recession. Agriculture grew by 4.11% in 2016, while Solid Minerals recorded a 7% increase. The contribution of the Ministry of Solid Minerals’ to the Federation Account tripled to about N2 billion in 2016, up from N700m in 2015.

Savings:

  •   Even at a time of low oil prices (and by implication low government revenues):

  •   Nigeria’s External Reserves have grown by US$7 billion since October 2016

  •   The Sovereign Wealth Fund has seen inflows of US$500m in 2016 and 2017 (the first inflows since the original US$1bn with which the Fund kicked off in 2012), and

  •   The Excess Crude Account has seen an inflow of US$87m, in 2017.

Phasing Out of Subsidy Regimes for Petroleum Products and Fertilizers.

The Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (details below), combined with a newly developed soil map designed to aid fertilizer application, substantially raised local production of grains in 2016 (yields improved

from 2 tonnes per hectare to as much as 7 tonnes per hectare, in some States) and produced a model agricultural collaboration between Lagos and Kebbi States.

Nigeria’s rice imports fell from 580,000 MT in 2015 to 58,000MT in 2016

The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (which involves a partnership with the Government of Morocco, for the supply of phosphate), has resulted in the revitalization of 11 blending plants across the country. The benefits include annual savings of US$200 million in foreign exchange, and ₦60 billion annually in budgetary provisions

for Fertilizer subsidies. The Scheme has also made it possible for Farmers to purchase Fertilizer at prices up to 30 percent cheaper than previously available.

Support for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises: The Administration has launched a series of funding and capacity development initiatives designed to support MSMEs across the country, as follows:

  •   The new Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) is finally taking off, with initial funding of US$1.3bn (provided by the World Bank, German Development Bank, the African Development Bank and Agence Française de Development) to provide medium and long-term loans to MSMEs

  •   The MSME Clinic, which bring relevant Government Agencies and their

managements together with small businesses operating in various cities across the country, to enable the Agencies provide direct support to these businesses. The Interactions allow the Agencies better understand the issues facing small businesses, and provides a platform for speedy resolution.

  •   The Ease of Doing Business Reform Programme (see below)

  •   The Government Enterprise and Empowerment component (GEEP) of the Social Intervention Programme (SIP)

Ease of Doing Business Reform Successes: The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (inaugurated by President Buhari in August 2016) implemented a 60 National Action Plan between February and April 2017, with 70 percent of the Targets achieved, including the following:

  •   Intending Business Owners can now search for Company names on the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)

  •   Intending Business Owners can now upload their registration documents directly to the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)

  •   Eliminated the need for SMEs to hire lawyers to prepare registration documents

  •   Introduced a single form for Company Incorporation to save time and reduce cost

  •   Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) e-payment solution has been integrated with the CAC portal to facilitate e-stamping.

  •   Interested parties can conduct online searches of secured interests on movable assets on the National Collateral Registry

  •   New Arrival and Departure forms for use at our International airports. The new forms are shorter, and have also consolidated a number of previously separate forms into single documents.

  •   Simplified our Visa on Arrival (VoA) Process. Submission of VoA applications and receipt of approval letter can now be done electronically via a dedicated NIS email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  •   Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has now been mandated to schedule and coordinate joint physical examination of cargo to ensure there’s only one point of contact between importers and official

  •   Imports into Nigeria now required to be placed in pallets to facilitate quicker physical examination.

  •   Central Bank, Customs and banks now required to process Net Export Proceeds forms within 72 hours; and Pre-Shipment Inspection Agencies (PIAs) now required to issue Certificate of Clean Inspection (CCI) within 3 days

  •   Approval obtained to reduce number of documents required for imports from 14 to 8, and number of documents needed for exports from 10 to 7

  •   Minimum container placement notice time needed by Terminal Operators for examination reduced from 24 hours to 12 hours.

  •   Minister of Interior has approved and launched a new Immigration Policy for Nigeria

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has since followed up on the National Action Plan by signing, in May 2017, Executive Orders on Improving Efficiency in the Business Environment, and on Promoting Local Procurement by Government Agencies.

Infrastructure:

  •   The Buhari Administration has demonstrated a single-minded commitment to upgrading and developing Nigeria’s Transport Infrastructure.

  •   Road Projects are ongoing across every State of the country; many of these projects had been abandoned in recent years because of mounting debts owed by the Federal Government to contractors.

  •   The Administration is also pushing ahead with the revitalization of Nigeria’s

3,500km network narrow-gauge railway. In March 2017 a consortium led by General Electric, and comprising Transnet of South Africa, APM Terminals of the Netherlands and Sinohydro Consortium of China submitted the sole bid for the concession of the Lagos-Kano Railway narrow-gauge Line. (Transaction Advisers were approved for the project in 2016). In May 2017 the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the commencement of negotiations with GE to conclude the concessioning.

 In addition, Abuja’s Light Rail system will also go into operation (test-run) in 2017. The first line to be launched will connect the city center with the Airport,

with a link to the Abuja-Kaduna Railway Line. The test-run will start in November 2017, ahead of full commencement of operations in Q1 2018.

 The Buhari Administration successfully completed the reconstruction of the Abuja Airport runway within the scheduled six-week period (March – April 2017).

Progress with the Alignment of Monetary, Fiscal and Trade Policies: Landmark initiatives here include:

 Ongoing FX regime reforms by the Central Bank, which have seen increased stability in the FX market, and increasing appetite for Nigerian stocks by foreign portfolio investors. Reforms include the creation in April 2017 of a New FX Window for Investors and Exporters. The new Window has attracted $1.4bn in its

first four weeks of operation, according to data from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

  •   Revision of the List of 41 Items excluded from the Central Bank FX Window, in line with a request from the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN)

  •   The establishment of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations by the Economic Management Team (EMT), and

  •   The Introduction of a new, Tariff-driven Tomato Policy to support domestic producers and production.

A new Social Housing Programme is kicking off in 2017. The ‘Family Homes Fund’ will take off with a 100 billion Naira provision in the 2017 Budget. The rest of the funding will come from the private sector. A pilot component has already kicked, to construct the first set of homes for the Programme)

1.2 Trillion naira has been released for capital expenditure in the 2016 budget, since implementation started in June 2016. This is the largest ever capital spend within a single budget year in the history of Nigeria. This investment has enabled the resumption of work on several stalled projects — road, rail and power

projects — across the country.

All 4 components of the Social Investment Programme (SIP) have now taken off.

  •   The SIP is the largest and most ambitious social safety net programme in the history of Nigeria, with more than 1 million beneficiaries so far — 200,000 N- Power beneficiaries (160,000 of them have had their details validated and are now receiving the monthly N30,000 stipend, while the rest are undergoing verification.

  •   3,162,451 people belonging to 26, 924 registered cooperatives have been registered for the Government Enterprise and Empowerment (GEEP) Scheme.

57,234 interest-free (except a one-time low administrative fee) loans have been issued, across 28 States and the FCT. 56% of loans so far disbursed has gone to female beneficiaries.

  •   1,051,000 Primary School Pupils are currently benefiting from the Homegrown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP), in 8,587 schools across seven States. More than 11,000 cooks have been employed for the HGSFP.

  •   Under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Programme, 26,942 beneficiaries are now receiving the monthly N5,000 stipend in 9 States and 84 Local Government Areas. The States are Borno, Cross River, Niger, Kwara, Ekiti, Kogi, Oyo, Osun and Bauchi.

Strategic Engagements with OPEC and in the Niger Delta have played an important

part in raising our expected oil revenues. Already, Nigeria’s External Reserves have grown by around $7 billion in the last six months. In the same period we have added $87m to the Excess Crude Account, and $250m to the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

New Vision for the Niger Delta:

Acting President Osinbajo is leading the engagement, on behalf of President Buhari and the Federal Government. The Vice President has been visiting oil-producing communities across the Niger Delta, listening to them and outlining the Federal Government’s commitment to the peace, security and development of the region — encapsulated in the Buhari administration’s ‘New Vision for the Niger Delta’.

The New Vision brings together a robust set of promises, solutions, targets and initiatives aimed at ensuring that the people of the Niger Delta benefit maximally from the region’s oil wealth.

The New Vision offers a detailed response to the 16-point Demand Agenda submitted to President Buhari by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in November 2016.

Tangible results of the New Vision so far include:

 Approval of a 2017 commencement date for the stalled Nigerian Maritime

University in Delta State

  •   Approval by President Buhari of an additional 35 billion naira for the 2016 budget of the Presidential Amnesty Programme

  •   Approval for the establishment of Modular Refineries across the nine States of the Niger Delta

  •   Resumption of construction work on abandoned projects across the Niger Delta, including the all-important East-West Road.

Beneficial Government-to-Government Partnerships with China and Morocco: President Buhari’s April 2016 Official Visit to China has unlocked billions of dollars in infrastructure funding. Construction work has commenced on the first major product of that collaboration, a 150km/hour rail line between Lagos and Ibadan.

The National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NERGP), the Federal Government’s medium-term Economic Plan, launched by President Buhari in April 2017, charts a course for the Nigerian economy over the next four years (2017–2020).

The Vision of the NERGP is to restore economic growth, invest in Nigerians, and to build a globally competitive economy, and the Plan aims to achieve these by focusing on five execution priorities:

  •   Stabilizing the macroeconomic environment;

  •   Achieving Agriculture and Food Security;

  •   Ensuring energy efficiency (especially in power and petroleum products);

  •   Improving transportation infrastructure; and

  •   Driving industrialization primarily through SMEs.

The ERGP will return Nigeria’s economy to sustainable, inclusive and diversified growth, and to transform Nigeria from an import-dependent to a producing economy; a country that grows what it eats and consumes what it produces.

The almost 8-fold oversubscription of our recent Eurobond (orders in excess of US$7.8 billion compared to a pre-issuance target of US$1bn) demonstrates strong market appetite for Nigeria, and shows confidence by the international investment community in Nigeria’s economic reform agenda.

Power Sector:

  •   Power Sector Reform is on course with the launch of the 701 billion
    Naira Payment Assurance Programme designed to resolve the liquidity challenges in the Power Sector by guaranteeing payments to Generating Companies and Gas Suppliers, while the Federal Government undertakes the much-needed reform and strengthening of Distribution Companies.

  •   In addition to the PAP is a much more comprehensive Power Sector Recovery Programme, launched in March 2017 and which has received the endorsement of the World Bank.

Improved Local Refining Capacity: The total amount of Crude refined by the NNPC’s three Refineries (Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna) grew from 8m barrels in 2015 to 24m barrels in 2016, and 10m barrels in the first quarter of 2017.

ANTI-CORRUPTION AND TRANSPARENCY

The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA):

 PICA was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to strengthen controls over Government finances through a continuous internal audit process across all

Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), particularly in respect of payroll. Through the activities of PICA, more than 50,000 erroneous payroll entries have been identified, with payroll savings of N198 billion achieved in 2016.

 Also, the Federal Ministry of Finance has set a target to ensure that the Federal Government’s Payroll Platform — the ‘Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System’ (IPPIS) — covers 100 percent of MDAs by the end of 2017. Currently 60% of MDAs are enrolled on the IPPIS platform.

Budget Reforms:

  •   First, a Presidential Order was issued directing that all budgets of all Government Agencies be prepared in line with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), using a budget template developed for that purpose.

  •   Second, the 2017 Budget was collated using a web-based application developed by the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), for the first time ever. Instead of the traditional method of hard copy submissions of budget proposals, Ministries, Departments and Agencies were asked to upload their proposals to the new budget preparation portal.

  •   By replacing paper submissions with an audit-able and trackable online system, the 2017 budget preparation process was strengthened against manipulation and unauthorised alteration. All MDA budget proposals were uploaded to the new system, for review and final collation by the Budget Office.

  •   More than 4,000 staff of the MDAs were specially trained to use the new application, across multiple locations nationwide. Also to support the deployment of the budget portal, the Budget Office set up a Helpdesk, accessible by telephone and email, for authorised users.

Expansion of TSA Coverage:

  •   On August 7, 2015, President Buhari issued a directive to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to close their accounts with Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and transfer their balances to the Central Bank of Nigeria on or before 15th September 2015.

  •   This decision to fully operationalise the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system— a public accounting system that enables the Government to manage its finances (revenues and payments) using a single/unified account, or series of linked accounts domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria — has resulted in the consolidation of more than 20,000 bank accounts previously spread across DMBs in the country, and in savings of an average of N4.7 billion monthly in banking charges associated with indiscriminate Government borrowing from the

DMBs.

  •   As at February 10, 2017, a total sum of N5.244 Trillion had flowed into the
    TSA. The TSA allows the managers of the Government’s finances, including but not limited to the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, to have, at any point in time, a comprehensive overview of cash flows across the entire Government.

  •   It also ensures increased transparency in public financial management, as well as prevents a scenario in which some MDAs have idle cash while other MDAs are compelled to borrow exorbitantly from DMBs.

  •   The TSA system was launched in 2012, but failed to gain traction until President Buhari’s executive order in August 2015. As at December 2016, 766 MDAs were TSA-compliant. The Ministry of Finance continues to fine-tune the system to improve its efficiency, and has also commenced an audit to ensure that all funds due to the TSA are remitted into it.

Deployment of BVN for Payroll and Social Investment Programmes:

 Considering that personnel costs are the Federal Government’s largest

expenditure line, the Federal Government has given priority to the deployment of the BVN for payroll and pension audits. The use of BVN to verify payroll entries on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) platform has so far led to the detection of more than 50,000 erroneous payroll entries.

 The Federal Government has also ensured the deployment of BVN system to serve as the verification basis for payments to beneficiaries and vendors in the N-Power Scheme and the Homegrown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP)

Replacement of old Cash-Based Accounting System with an Accruals-Based System:

  •   Cash accounting makes no reference to the liabilities that the Federal Government may be required to meet in the future nor does it recognise the benefits that will be obtained from assets purchased over a period of time.

  •   The cash accounting system fails to capture information on public sector assets and liabilities which may present the illusion of positive financial results in the short term, at the expense of longer-term fiscal stability and sustainability.

  •   Accruals-based accounting, on the other hand, presents the true financial position of the Federal Governments assets and liabilities, which would help the Government plan future funding requirements for asset maintenance and replacement, and the repayment of existing and contingent liabilities and, thus, better manage their cash position and financing requirements.

  •   It provides comprehensive information on Government’s current and projected

cash flows, leading to better cash management. For example, the conversion from cash accounting to accrual accounting led to the discovery of unrecorded debts owed contractors, oil marketers, exporters, electricity distribution companies and others.

Enlistment into Open Government Partnership (OGP):

  •   In May 2016, President Buhari attended and participated in the International Anti- Corruption Summit organised by the UK Government. At that Summit he pledged that Nigeria would join the OGP, an international transparency, accountability and citizen engagement initiative.

  •   In July 2016, Nigeria became the 70th country to join the OGP. Following this, Nigeria constituted an OGP National Steering Committee (NSC), which went on to develop a National Action Plan (2017–2019) that aims to deepen and mainstream transparency mechanisms and citizens’ engagement in the management of public resources across all sectors.

  •   The National Action Plan was submitted at the OGP Global Summit in Paris, France, in December 2016.

Insistence on Conditionality of Fiscal Support to States:

  •   The Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP) is a reform programme that specifies conditions under which States can access the Federal Government’s N510 billion Budget Support Facility (BSF). The FSP was introduced to enhance fiscal prudence and transparency in public expenditure, across the states. 35 States signed up.

  •   Independent verification and auditing of participating States is now ongoing — against the FSP conditions & milestones — by eight (8) accounting firms.

  •   State Governments that fail to implement the FSP action plans, as stated, will be taken off the Budget Support Facility with immediate effect.

  •   The Fiscal Sustainability Plan is part of our reform of Public Financial Management Systems nationwide.

Creation of Efficiency Unit (EU) to spearhead the efficient use of government resources, and ensure reduction in Recurrent Expenditure:

 The Efficiency Unit reviews all Government overhead expenditure, reduces wastage, provides efficiency and ensures quantifiable savings for the country. Also, the Unit identifies best practices in procurement and financial management

for adoption.

  •   The Efficiency Unit’s efforts have resulted in more than N15 billion in savings on travel, sitting allowances and souvenirs.

  •   There is also potential savings of N7 billion on other expenditure lines where the unit seeks to control spending through Circulars. In addition, there is on-going work on the deployment of a price-checker, as well as the use of debit cards for payments.

Asset Recovery Reforms:

Oil and Gas


 Petroleum Industry Governance Bill:

 The Constitution of a Presidential Committee on Asset Recovery (PCAR), headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to bring together all law enforcement agencies involved in the recovery of assets; as well as designation of a dedicated Central Bank Account to receive all recovered funds, for coordination and transparency of management and oversight.

Since August 2015, NNPC began publishing its performance monthly (NNPC

Monthly Oil & Gas Report) in newspapers and various new media platforms and

most importantly on the NNPC website to improve transparency and probity.

The controversial Offshore Processing Arrangement (OPA) has been cancelled

and replaced with a ‘Direct Sales and Direct Purchase (DSDP)’ scheme with

reputable offshore refineries.

Completion of work, by the Federal Ministry

of Petroleum Resources, on the draft of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.

The Bill has now been passed into law by the Senate, after 17 years of failed

efforts.

Reform of longstanding Petroleum Sector Cash Call Arrangement:

  •   In 2016 the Federal Government exited the cash call arrangement by which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) traditionally funded its share of the crude oil exploration and production Joint Ventures (JVs) with International Oil Companies (IOCs).

  •   The Cash Call obligations had consistently put pressure on the Federal Government’s finances, and a failure to fully fund them has resulted in the accumulation of debt arrears of more than six billion dollars, as at December 2015.

  •   Starting 2017, a new funding mechanism is being introduced, which will allow the JVs to transform into independent, self-financing entities. The advantages for the

Federal Government finances include: (1) freeing-up the Federal Government from the budgetary obligation of coming up with the cash calls (savings made under the new arrangement can be directed to critical Infrastructure projects), and (2) a potential increase in Nigeria’s oil production to about 2.5 million barrels per day, on account of optimal funding.

 Also as part of the reforms, the debt arrears owed the IOCs have been negotiated downwards to approximately US$5.1 billion — for which a long-term repayment plan has been drawn up.

New Whistleblowing Policy:

 The new Whistleblowing Policy introduced by the Federal Ministry of Finance yielded, within its first two months of operation, yielded $160m and N8 billion in recoveries of stolen Government funds.

SECURITY

Capture of Boko Haram’s operational and spiritual headquarters, “Camp Zero”, in Sambisa Forest. Following this the Nigerian Army conducted its Small Arms Championship from 26th to 31st March 2017, a measure aimed at enabling the Armed forces to dominate the area, and avoid regrouping by the terrorists.

More than 12,000 Boko Haram hostages have been freed from Boko Haram captivity, including 106 of the Chibok Girls abducted in April 2014.

Revitalization of Multi-National Joint Task Force operations, aimed at combating trans-

border crime and the Boko Haram insurgency.

Arrest of Usman Mohammed, aka Khalid AlBarnawi, leader of the Ansaru Terrorist group and one of the most wanted Terrorists in the world, with a US$6m United States bounty on his head. He’s currently being prosecuted alongside his accomplices. Also arrested and being prosecuted: Amodu Omale Salifu, leader of an ISIS affiliate group active in North Central Nigeria.

Establishment of civil authority in the areas affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

The Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC)

have deployed officers in liberated areas to take over effective civil responsibility from

the military, and secure and maintain law and order in the affected areas. The NSCDC

has also deployed 5,000 personnel to the North-East to protect the Internally Displaced

Persons’ (IDPs) camps and re-occupy the reclaimed towns and villages.

Transfer of 2 Nos. AW 101 Helicopter from the Presidential Air Fleet to the Nigerian Air

Force, for deployment in support of Operation LAFIYA DOLE in the North East. Also

transferred to the NAF: 3 EC-135 and 3 Dauphin helicopters, from the Nigerian

National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)

Establishment of a Naval Outpost in the Lake Chad Basin.

Successful Military Operations across the country:

  •   Operation Harbin Kunama in Dansadau Forest, Zamfara aimed at flushing out

    armed bandits and cattle rustlers.

  •   Operation Safe Haven to curtail the incessant clashes between Fulani herdsmen

    and farmers in the North Central (Plateau, Nasarawa, and Benue states).

  •   Exercise Crocodile Smile to curtail the menace of militant activities in the Niger

    Delta

  •   Exercise Obangame, a multinational operation aimed at securing and protecting

    the Gulf of Guinea.

  •   Operation Awatse, a joint operation between the Military and the Police, in South

    West Nigeria, to flush out militants and pipeline vandals

  •   Operation Python Dance in the South East to tackle kidnappers and militant

    elements.

Establishment of the 8 Task Force Division in Monguno to further strengthen military

presence in the North East.

DIPLOMACY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Re-establishment of Nigeria’s position and influence in the regional and global arena. Fragile/broken relations with the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, and with

neighbouring countries (Chad, Niger, Cameroon) have been revived and strengthened since June 2015. The Meeting of the was the first since 2009.

Nigeria’s prominent participation in the London Anti-Corruption Summit and the Commonwealth Conference on Tackling Corruption, in May, 2016 in London. Major outcomes of these events include:

  •   The establishment of a Global Forum for Asset Recovery to be hosted by the governments of the US and UK this year, to focus on assisting Nigeria and three other countries to reclaim their stolen assets.

  •   The signing, in August 2016, of an MoU with the UK Government on modalities for the return of Nigeria’s stolen assets in the UK.

    In 2016 Nigeria signed an Agreement on the identification and repatriation of Illicit Funds with the United Arab Emirates during the Visit of Mr. President to that country.

    The Federal Government under President Buhari has engaged the governments of Switzerland, Jersey Island, United States, United Arab Emirates, and Liechtenstein among others, in an effort to ensure the repatriation of Nigeria’s stolen assets. So far, the Swiss government has agreed to repatriate illicit loot of about USD320 million, while another tranche is being expected from the Jersey Islands.

The Buhari Administration has mobilized International Support for the War against Boko Haram, forging strong partnerships with key countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, ECOWAS, the AU, the UN, and others.

The Buhari Administration has revamped the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) comprising troops from Nigeria and Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin; this revamp has contributed significantly to the weakening of Boko Haram.

Landmark Government-to-Government engagements with China and Morocco, aimed at developing and upgrading National Infrastructure.

Nigeria’s successful rallying of OPEC and Non-OPEC members to discuss stabilisation of the global oil market in Doha and in Algiers, and the successful negotiation of an exemption from the OPEC production freeze agreed at the 171st OPEC Ministerial conference in Vienna in November 2016; leading to a rise in oil prices to US$55/bbl for the first time in 16 months.

Posted On Sunday, 15 October 2017 17:01 Written by

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” —Jim Rohn

There are two things you need to ensure before starting to read this: the first is the conviction that you really want to be your own boss; the second is to be so sure that your present boss is not aware that you are reading this! Though you have been hired by your boss, but you can systematically turn this around for more financial freedom and control. You can flip the coin around and hire your boss! Yes you can, whether directly or indirectly.

I am writing this piece not just for subordinates to ‘triumph’ over their bosses but also for CEOs, Directors, proprietors and business owners to avoid the major pitfalls that can sink any man into oblivion. Every ‘fall’ is avoidable and any ‘rise’ is possible!

One of the books that molded my formative years was the one written by Thomas Hardy, The Mayor Of Casterbridge. The book illustrates the pitiable rise and fall of the Mayor of Casterbridge- Michael Henchard . The book which centers round a strong-willed and self-made man, Michael Henchard, whose rise to and fall from a high state form the core of the tragic tale of his life. Henchard’s rise to prominence in Casterbridge stems from his business acumen and unparalleled savviness. He would later seal an ominous fate for his competitors by employing a Scottish manager, Donald Farfrae, whose skills and charisma later became a source of insecurity and threat to his boss.

As the rift and friction between Farfrae and his boss grew, it became obvious that he was becoming larger than his boss. Farfrae’s diligence, business-skill and popularity among people arouse feelings of jealousy in Henchard’s mind, who, after some provocation, turns him out of the job under him. Farfrae starts his own business, and prospers much in it.

The rivalry in business between Henchard and Farfrae leads finally to the immense flourishing of the latter’s business and the ultimate ruin of Henchard’s. Henchard ultimately finds himself again at the bottom of fortune’s wheel, while Farfrae now occupies a station at the top. Things come to such a pass that Henchard is reduced to a state of bankruptcy, this will later force him to sell his palatial house to the highest bidder who turns out to be Farfrae! The ill-luck got so much on his way that he sold virtually all that he had amassed in his years of toiling and has to work as an ordinary labourer in Farfrae’s establishment! Farfrae, on the other hand becomes the Mayor of Casterbridge, a position occupied formerly by Henchard. Thus, there is a complete reversal of fortune in Henchard’s case as well as Farfrae’s.

There is an old saying which says that, “No condition is permanent, only fools do not know”. You are not destined to live the rest of your life from paycheck to paycheck. Don’t build your destiny around your pension. You can actually be your own boss by following some principles that have been fool-proofed:

BUILD YOUR OWN DREAM: In life, it is either you build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs. If you don’t have big dreams and goals, you’ll end up working really hard for someone who does. One of the greatest minds of our time, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the former President of India said, ”Your dream is not what you see in sleep, your dream is that thing that keeps you from sleeping”.

DESIGN YOUR OWN PRODUCT: I have come to discover over the years that the poor chase after money while the rich attract money. People that attract money will always employ those that chase after money. Until you sit down with an idea to design a product that can sell, you will continue to run after money! Don’t chase after money; attract money. Steve Jobs once said, ‘’Apple’s goal isn’t to make money. Our goal is to design and develop and bring to market good products…. We trust as a consequence of that, people will like them, and as another consequence, we’ll make some money. But we’re really clear about what our goals are.’’

HIRE PEOPLE THAT ARE SMARTER THAN YOU! : Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do, we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. One of the greatest undoing of Michael Henchard was letting go of Farfrae to hire a new manager that he could probably control. We must be willing to surround ourselves with people that are smarter and more intelligent than us.

BUILD YOUR INNER SECURITY: I have often said that bosses that are insecure are threats to their organization. An insecure boss will always short-circuit the growth and advancement of his subordinates. Michael Henchard started spiraling down in his business the moment he started feeling insecure with his manager’s success. Ultimately, people that have good self-esteem and inner security will always end up ‘employing’ their insecure boss! One of the most fascinating stories of secure bosses raising a generation of excellent subordinates was that between Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.

As a young man, Ford took a job at the Edison Illuminating Company, working his way up to become chief engineer. One day while Thomas Edison was taking a stroll around, he met Henry Ford who was working on a novel idea while still working under Edison. Ford was introduced to Edison and showed Edison his plans for a gasoline automobile, Edison encouraged him to pursue those plans. The impetus Ford got from his boss’ encouragement was all that was needed for Ford to revolutionalise the automobile industry.

INVEST IN YOUR OWN PERSONAL GROWTH: Craig Handley said, “You can’t grow a business past your own personal growth”. The greatest hindrance to personal development is personal neglect. Success is about learning to become the person capable of succeeding. Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.

VALUE FEEDBACKS AND CRITICISMS: Andy Stanley said, “Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” Surround yourself not only with people that say what you want to hear, but with people that say what you ought to hear! Criticisms and feedbacks are the lifelines of leadership. A leader that is beyond confrontation will self-destruct himself. Great people see confrontation as checks and not as effrontery.

TREAT YOUR EMPLOYEES WELL: Sir Richard Branson said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”. Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients. Henry Ford once said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay”. You don’t build a business, you build people and then people build the business.

PURSUE YOUR PASSION: People that chase their passion ultimately employ people that chase after money! When you follow your passion, the universe would open doors where there were only walls. Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Real financial security and freedom is not in your job but in your passion.

CHANGE YOUR CIRCLE OF FRIENDS: They say if you surround yourself with nine losers you’ll soon be the tenth! Do not expect positive things in your life if you surround yourself with negative people. When a man continually struggles on a spot without hope of advancement, then his circle of friends is indicted! Jim Rohn, in his law of Averages said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Pay any price to be in the midst of extraordinary people.

VALUE FAMILY MORE THAN BUSINESS: Family is everything; you must never sacrifice family for business. Those that succeed at home will eventually employ those that struggle at home. Walt Disney said, “A man should never neglect his family for business”. One of the mistakes that later hunted Henchard all his life was his sole act of selling his wife (Susan) and child (Elizabeth-Jane) while under the influence of alcohol (rum-laced furmity) at a fair. Henchard’s story illustrated that neglecting the family is a horrible sin that no amount of penance can undo even after so much repentance!

Posted On Saturday, 14 October 2017 13:16 Written by

A common joke on the Nigerian street has it that if all Nigerians were miraculously transplanted to Germany while all Germans were reciprocally transplanted to Nigeria, within five years Nigeria will look like Germany with well paved roads, 24/7 electricity and a disciplined society, while Germany will look like Nigeria with nonexistent roads, epileptic power supply and an entropic citizenry.

The moral of this idle speculation lends credence to Shakespeare’s observation speaking through Cassius: “the fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

As the wheels come-off President Muhammadu Buhari’s apparently ill-fated administration, it is apropos to point out that the fault lies not just in the vehicle and the overweight passengers but more so in the driver and the driving style. And I am not referring here to human biology over which no man but only God has total control.

You see with his eyes wide open President Muhammadu Buhari made some rookie mistakes from which no political administration in history has ever recovered. His may not be an exception.

On assumption of office, the President, not one to learn from History, labored and tragically still labors under three fatally misconceived notions. The first was that his own Fulani ethnicity was getting a raw deal socio-economically and deserved to be propped up using the instruments of the State at the expense of other sub-nationalities.

The second was that God and fate had given him an opportunity to deal with his erstwhile enemies using the administrative tools placed at his disposition by his new position. The third of course was a morbid dislike for the uber-competitive, republican, proud and increasingly garrulous Igbo ethnicity who ideologically, temperamentally and spiritually represent everything his beloved Fulani are not.

But critical observers make a mistake when they judge the President by normal standards believing that this will spur him on to improve his administrative performance. The President of Nigeria is not a Nigerian patriot. To suggest or imply that he is one, is a grand illusion designed, packaged and sold to the unsuspecting Nigerian public for the sole purpose of obtaining and retaining power. The President only masquerades and presents himself as a Nigerian patriot which he is not. A true patriot will love and act in the best interests of his country not just his ethnic nationality always.

The President is in effect an unrepentant Fulani ethno-patriot who administers Nigeria only from the prism lens of what he can obtain from the rest of the country for his ethnic Fulani people and not necessarily for what is best for the entire country irrespective of ethnicity.

And so, it is perfectly okay for him to be considered a failed Nigerian President provided his Fulani ethnicity (his base) are empowered to retain and maintain their chokehold on progress in Nigeria and provided the Fulani still consider him as a savior, walking in the foot-steps of the revered late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello.

From a critical view-point therefore, apart from age, religious and ethnic differences (one is Fulani, the other is Igbo) and the fact that the younger is a creation of the older, there is precious little to differentiate between President Muhammadu Buhari on the one hand and the youthful leader of the separatist Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu on the other hand.

Both are not Nigerian patriots. Both are unrepentant ethno-nationalists cum ethno-patriots and believe this or not, both are actively working in their own ways to ensure that Nigeria as we know it today ceases to exist. On this score alone, the actions or inactions of President Muhammadu Buhari are far more consequential to the future demise of Nigeria than the antics of Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB.

It beats one hollow therefore to imagine that while the one, President Muhammadu Buhari is lionized (although he was chased out from his den in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa by mere rats!!!), the other Nnamdi Kanu is demonized for essentially doing the same thing – seeking the end of Nigeria.

In the typical hypocritical Nigerian fashion, while most commentators are busy condemning the speck in the neo-Biafrans’ eyes i.e. Nnamdi Kanu, they fail to see the log in Nigeria’s eyes i.e. President Muhammadu Buhari. They focus on the Divider, Nnamdi Kanu but are oblivious of the Divider-In-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Igbos are not fools. They know who serves their best interest. If President Muhammadu Buhari on assumption of office had reserved his administrative venom for judicially proven criminals such as kidnappers, armed robbers, ritualists, rapists, drug-barons, murderers, human traffickers and looters whosoever they might be, no sane person would criticize him.

If 100 proven kidnappers and armed robbers were caught, tried fairly and made to face justice, the Igbos would not cry foul if all the criminals essentially prove to be Igbo. Indeed, many Igbos resident outside Igboland who are fearful of returning home for brief vacation would be the first to sing the President’s praises to the high heavens.

Operating from the jaundiced view-point of ‘Fulani empowerment at-all-costs’ and ‘Igbo emasculation by-all-means’, the Buhari Administration failed to recognize that ‘transplanting all Nigerians to Germany and all Germans to Nigeria would only make the current Germany, the new Nigeria and the current Nigeria the new Germany’.

You cannot give what you don’t have and you cannot sustain a lifestyle without the requisite means. Indeed, as has been repeatedly proven by history, the administrative style of favoritism sets back the recipient much more than it does the non-recipient especially if the latter chooses to react by working harder.

However, the tragedy of the way Nigeria is currently structured is that progress and development is too often dependent on the whimsical caprices of the nation’s leaders. President Buhari bears a very significant share of the historical burden for the current state of Nigeria. Let us recall a few of these whimsical caprices which involve him.

During the seventies around the time when he was Federal Commissioner of Petroleum, a decision was taken by the Federal Military Government to build the nation’s third petroleum refinery in Kaduna in the far north far outside the crude-oil producing zone. There was no economic basis for this decision. It was purely political. To make matters worse, allegedly the refinery could only refine ‘heavy’ crude oil. Nigeria reportedly lost millions of dollars pumping ‘heavy’ crude up north for refining in Kaduna. Talk of ‘One Nigeria’.

When he assumed power as Nigeria’s elected President in 2015, President Buhari decided to embark upon the reconstruction of the North-Eastern part of the country ravaged by the Boko – Haram insurgency. This was fair enough. The only problem was that the insurgency had not been completely crushed even though the insurgents were gleefully declared as tactically defeated. You do not claim to have killed a snake until you have crushed its head.

Beyond that in a strategic move to prepare the core northern region of Nigeria for the potential disintegration of the country (One Nigeria?), and against all reasonable advice, he unilaterally proposed to sink millions of dollars in petroleum exploration within the vicinity of the Lake Chad region – the very hotbed of the Boko Haram insurgency.

At a time when the world was moving very rapidly away from fossil fuels (representing the past) and into renewable energy like solar and wind energy (representing the future), President Buhari unilaterally chose to invest Nigeria’s hard currency earnings at a time of depression in the past rather than in the future.

This poorly contemplated presidential directive was abruptly terminated when the supposedly ‘tactically defeated’ Boko Haram insurgents staged a dramatic come-back. They attacked and massacred almost the entire exploration team as well as their Nigerian army security detail. They took some members of the team into captivity in which they are still held to this day.

Talk of a whimsical presidential directive motivated by ethno-patriotic reasons, meeting a disastrous end at great cost in irreplaceable human lives. No one talks of petroleum exploration up north anymore.

The sole arrow in President Buhari’s bow, the anti-corruption drive has not fared better. As this writer pointed out in the past, you cannot claim to be fighting corruption (loosely defined as appropriating what does not belong to you or what you do not merit) when you are ipso facto engaged in corruption (unfairly empowering your own ethnic nationality at the expense of other ethnicities without recourse to merit and other acceptable national standards).

It is not surprising therefore that people around the President are being accused of corruption. The Secretary to the Federal Government, the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector-General of Police all appointees of the President have recently been accused of corruption. The tardiness with which these allegations have been investigated has been noted by critical observers.

Contrasting this with the zeal and propaganda with which corruption allegations against members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party were handled is indicative of the fact that the anti-corruption drive of this Administration is currently mortally wounded.

On the human rights front the case of the illegally detained Shiite Sheik Ibrahim El Zakzaky, the case of the hapless Colonel Sambo Dasuki and the case of the neo-Biafrans currently in detention are some of the most glaring examples of socio-economic injustice and persecution in Nigeria perpetuated by the Buhari Administration. To this day no one has satisfactorily explained to the public the offence committed by Ibrahim El Zakzaky to warrant his continued incarceration.

When the reputation of this same President Muhammadu Buhari was savaged by the very same institution he served i.e. the Nigerian Army, during the run-up to the last election, this writer publicly rose to his defense in an opinion piece published under the ‘A Nation in Heat’ cycle of essays. I would do so again if I establish that he is being unfairly persecuted in future by his opponents. By the same token, I would be lacking in my patriotic duty if I fail to voice out my opposition to the tragically misguided decisions of this administration.

The current national pre-occupation with the antics of IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu is uncalled for. Nnamdi Kanu is a creation of the failed policies of the Buhari Administration. He shall disappear from the national radar when the failed national policies associated with the Buhari Adminstration, which led to his emergence in the first place, disappear. What are those failed policies?

The unnecessary escalation of national tension by the illegal detention of people with contrary opinion, religious beliefs or political views (refer to the comments above); the confliction of the Nigerian space by the tacit support given to murderous Fulani herdsmen; as well as the criminal marginalization of the Igbo heartland are some of the failed policies of the Buhari Administration which led to the emergence of Nnamdi Kanu as a national phenomenon.

To buttress the last point, apart from favoritism, nepotism and marginalization what makes the extension of a modern railway to Daura (President Buhari’s hometown) more strategic and important to the national economy than the extension of railway from Enugu to Onitsha and from Aba to Onitsha.

More insidiously, at a time when the Nigerian Army should be mobilizing more reinforcements to the North-East theatre to crush the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency once and for all, it is engaged under a futile whimsical Presidential Directive (a.k.a. Operation Python Dance II) to harass and intimidate the peaceful people of the South-East region. Who is the President of Nigeria and the Nigerian Army trying to impress or intimidate with this shameless exercise of raw-power? Unarmed citizens? Unarmed peaceful agitators for Biafra?

It is cowardly and would prove counter-productive. If anything, it would only strengthen the Igbo resolve to secede from Nigeria. Indeed, only cowards and brutish thugs resort to violence when they are defeated by superior arguments by their opponents. Refined peoples, governments and institutions face facts with counter-facts not with bullets or dancing pythons.

It bears repeating that the only way IPOB can lose in this battle of wits with the Buhari Administration (I have chosen my words very carefully) is if it allows itself to be provoked into descending into the shameful gutter of violence within which the Buhari Administration and the Nigerian Army is currently dancing. No matter the provocation, IPOB should maintain its discipline and immediately return to its denial-of-target command (DOT COM) phase. This is not cowardice, it is strategy.

Even though I currently do not support the IPOB agitation for outright secession, I support and will defend their right to peacefully express their views and opinions as bona fide citizens of Nigeria, neither superior to nor inferior to other Nigerian citizens. I will also fight for the equal treatment of all Nigerians and their homelands regardless of ethnic origins.

Nigeria is bigger than any one person no matter how highly placed. Nigeria is far bigger than the ego of the current President of Nigeria. The President of Nigeria should humbly acknowledge to the nation that his administrative policies have failed.

If the President loves his Fulani ethnicity more than he loves Nigeria (I do not criticize him for this), it is more honorable for him to resign his position as President of Nigeria and become the President-General of the Fulani nation. Otherwise he should act like the President of all Nigerians while realizing and conceding that like himself, other Nigerians have their own individual ethnicities which they may equally love and be proud of.

Right now the sound we want to hear from the Federal Government is the sound of bulldozers and workmen repairing the dilapidated roads and infrastructure in the Igbo heartland, not the sound of tanks, armoured personnel carriers and troops dancing shamelessly like devilish pythons on the nonexistent roads of the South -East region.

THE END -

Posted On Saturday, 14 October 2017 01:11 Written by

IT is not very often that a state helmsman gets more popular after office, certainly not in this clime. But that is the story of Rahman Olusegun Mimiko, astute medical practitioner, politician and visionary. The Ondo-born, University of Ife- trained Mimiko turns 63 today and he and his multitudes of admirers home and abroad can look back with pride, and to the future with renewed optimism. This is not just because the story of his unparalleled landmarks in various sectors are still being told, often with awe, by the appreciative public. The heart of the deal is that up and coming politicians and political leaders are learning how to lift the people out of the morass of despair by replicating the Caring Heart agenda evolved and institutionalized by Mimiko in Ondo State.

Since leaving office in February 2017, the former Ondo State governor, widely acknowledged as one of the most iconic achiever-governors that the Nigerian nation has ever produced, has become the toast of local and international organizations. He has been to the United States to preach the gospel of free maternal healthcare, among others, offering refreshing paradigms and drawing wide applause from specialists, governments, eminent individuals and organizations. He has also travelled to the United Kingdom on two separate occasions, showing that with the right ideas and the political will, progress is possible. And by progress he means self-evident development: taking the people away from the realm of statistics in government departments and agencies into the realm of active participants in the development process. This is why, as he turns 63 today, the gist is not that he achieved milestones in governance—that is taken for granted by fair-minded observers all over the world—but that he is showing the pathway to a greater future.

For instance, speaking penultimate Friday at the Chatham House, London, after delivering a paper on “Improving Access to Health Services for All” using his achievements in maternal and child health as a case study, Mimiko called for a major stakeholders’ meeting where there will be an agreement on a universal health package that every state in the country can afford, with eligibility criteria created for those who build on it. Just who will debate the point that “safe motherhood is a gender parity tool”?

In any case, delivering the Keynote Address during the Maiden General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Association of Fetomaternal Medicine Specialists of Nigeria(AFEMSON) held at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja on July 21 this year, Mimiko had insisted that to address the perennial tragedy of deaths during childbirth in Nigeria, the federal and state governments must ensure universal health coverage for every Nigerian, beginning with women and children’s health issues. His gospel: every Nigerian should have access to the healthcare that they need, not the one they can afford, and without engaging in catastrophic spending. Hear him: “Evidence abounds today that the issue of maternal health is regarded as a human right. In Nigeria, if you add the unpaid work of women to our GDP, you will realise that women rule our society. We must accept the morality that government has a responsibility to finance universal health coverage, beginning with maternal and child healthcare. Our shared humanity places the burden on us to have shared responsibilities for safe motherhood.”

That was no empty talk: the Abiye programme of his administration provided free healthcare from pregnancy to delivery. Pregnant women were given free phones through which they accessed the health rangers who treated them for free at home. Even Caesarean operation, where needed, was free. It is no wonder then that Abiye became the World Bank’s benchmark for maternal care in Africa. That is not all. During the 51st Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the International College of Surgeons (Nigeria National Section) held at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, Mimiko provided a strategy for saving the lives of victims of road traffic accidents in the country. He further pointed out that road traffic accidents are the greatest killer of Nigeria’s young adults from age 15 to 29. The former Ondo helmsman showed how comprehensive emergency medical services could be deployed to curb the public health epidemic. First, Mimiko said, at the level of attitude, over-speeding, drunk-driving, not using safety belts and all such habits must be tackled. In Ondo State, Mimiko built a model motor park with a waiting room, and with no alcoholic beverages on sale. This changed the psychological environment of motor parks in the state. If, as Mimiko argued, the number one trigger of road transport accidents in Nigeria is the psychological environment of motor parks, then it follows that this environment has to be re-engineered. This is the preventive strategy.

Next, in designing roads, as a preventive measure, there should be walkways for pedestrians and motorcyclists must wear crash helmets. Then, there must be appropriate infrastructure: the nation must have base stations where ambulances with advanced life-saving gadgets are appropriately located round the townships. There must be communication centres with universal numbers that anybody can call in case of accidents. Then, there must be trained paramedics and extricators/rescuers with the kind of advanced equipment that the Mimiko government used in Ondo State, which can tear apart any vehicle and rescue accident victims. After rescuing the victims, there must be designated trauma centres with the necessary personnel. More important, every victim of road traffic accidents must have universal, unfettered and unhindered access to care, especially in the first few hours after accidents. Here, treatment comes before payment. If you doubt that all of this is possible, just visit the Trauma Centre in Ondo, Ondo State. You will marvel at the network of advanced life support ambulances located in stations specially constructed to allow them access to the highways. Whenever there is an accident, within 10 to 15 minutes of receiving a distress call, the ambulances are at the accident scene, with paramedics and extricators/ rescuers. And so lives are saved.

And even in politics, the man popularly called Iroko is becomimg more popular. The people of Ondo State are now appreciating him better for his strides in health, education, urban renewal, industrialization, sports and culture, among others. They know that he served them eloquently well, and are thankful to God that even at 63, he is still rearing to go, demonstrating an incredible burst of energy. A loyal and unrepentant disciple of the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Mimiko is arguably the most consistent advocate of the restructuring of Nigeria among the nation’s governors since the return to civil rule in 1999. Time and again, he has shown that Nigeria can only work when the component units are given the freedom to chart their paths to the future within a federalist framework.

Speaking in August at a colloquium organised by the Island Club, Lagos, Mimiko averred that the agitation for restructuring should not be viewed as an attack on the North but an attempt to decentralise power. He said: “Restructuring is not about the North against the South. Restructuring is decentralising power to make way for distribution and consumption arrangement so that every federating unit can increase its fiscal resources for development. We need to have state and local police to protect the lives of citizens and property. Let the states control their resources.” This is a point with which all true progressives in the country are in agreement. As he adds another year today, it is clear that Mimiko has demonstrated to a large extent that he came to Ondo State to serve the people. In so doing, he has become a reference point not only in Africa but the world at large, which is why, for instance, the United Nations honoured him with its UN Habitat Award in Italy. The sun, truly, is still shining for this gentleman who gave his all to better the lives of his people.

Akinmade is a former Information Commissioner, Ondo State.

http://www.tribuneonlineng.com/mimiko-63-still-shining/

Posted On Wednesday, 04 October 2017 00:28 Written by

One of the things I love doing is driving through the streets and towns of Ekiti State. It was a dream when I was a boy with no hope of ever getting behind the wheels of a car. It’s a hobby now that I am an adult. I love to drive as the soft morning breeze wafts through the air. Ekiti is a small state blessed with green vegetation. The morning air is pure and does wonders to the soul. Our elders used to say if you listen well, you could hear the voice of the angels whistling through the winds.

You can drive the length and breadth of my beloved state in an hour. If you’re an indigene of Ekiti or a resident of the state or someone who has had the good fortune of visiting with us, you will know what I mean. You think better driving the length and breath of the state as the sun rises over those glorious hills and mountains. Our towns have different names, from Omuo to Efon, from Emure to Iye but we are one.

I enjoy the easy banter with folks in the towns and villages. Our people are welcoming and prosperous. All they need is a chance, an opportunity. It takes me back to a time not too long ago, a time when boys could dream of bright futures and girls shaped their destinies.

I am a poster child for what is possible in Ekiti. I was born with little. Try hard as my parents did, we couldn’t afford much. But, we had something money couldn’t buy. We had hope. And, it wasn’t just me. It was most of the kids I know on the streets and in school. We knew if we kept good grades, we will keep moving forward.

But, those days are long gone. These days, driving through the streets is not the joy it once was. You have to cut through the cloud of gloom and doom that hangs over the state. Then you have to deal with the hopelessness etched across the faces of the children, youth and elders.

This is not the Ekiti of my youth. It is not the Ekiti of my dreams. And, we don’t deserve to live in this Ekiti fostered by a man who forgot the spirit of brotherhood that moved the state to the cusp of greatness before the vultures came.

The future of any society lies in its children and youth. Sometimes I wonder what sort of future are we leaving to them. Our fathers laid a great foundation for us to build a better future. That future is today. But, has our leadership in Ekiti laid a good foundation for the children and youth of today? Can the emperor really say he’s leaving the leaders of tomorrow a fair legacy?

I talk to a lot of the youth. A lot of times they seek me out – all over Ekiti and outside the state. I get tons of emails from many outside the country. Sometimes I seek them out. And they all have two questions – how did we get here? How do we get away from here?

How do you sow hope in the midst of crushing bleakness? How do you tell a child to hold on a while longer and that better days are coming? How do you convince the youth that there’s something at the end of the dark tunnel and it’s not the brainless insanity of the last few years?

It’s tough to preach hope when the emperor who specialises in doom snatches opportunities provided to the youth and children and dump them in his basket of failures. Take the case of the Home Grown School Feeding Programme of the Federal Government, for example. This was a no-brainer. The Federal Government had designed the programme to encourage kids to go to school by providing them a free meal, nourish them and improve their performance. It was designed to increase school enrollment and encourage local farmers to go back to farm and increase food production.

Our kids in Ekiti were denied that opportunity until I started screaming for all to hear. I had to challenge the Governor in the presence of the Vice President about it for reason to sink into him. And, it’s not just our children that were losing out. The entire state was. We have lost dozens of months where our farmers could have earned income providing the food for the children, our caterer could have been employed cooking the food and the lives of the people would have been tremendously better.

I often wondered what would have happened if I was born into this age of gloom, when the only thing that seems waiting at the end of the tunnel is doom. These kids know leaders who are everything but leaders. I knew leaders who were men and women of honour. Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Pa Adekunle Ajasin. Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti. Professors Banji Akintoye and Sam Aluko, Ewi Aladesanmi Anirare and Lady Deborah Jibowu.

These kids these days have not been that lucky, especially in the last few years. So, when some kids came to me the other day lamenting our great State and the future, how they love the State but don’t like the way it’s been dragged through the mud, how they’re tired of being the laughing stock of the nation, my heart bled for the State. But, that wasn’t all of it. One of the kids asked me, what would I tell the children of Ekiti.

How can I convince the youth that tomorrow will be better? It was a question that gnawed at my soul. These are kids who just want their state and their leadership to do right by them. They don’t want too much. They just want to be able to live in a land of opportunity because they know when there is hope, with their sweat and determination they will create plenty.

I told them what my father once told me. That when all the chips are down, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and go to work. I am rolling up my sleeves and getting ready to go to work. With our sweat and determination we will make Ekiti great again. I told them to spread the news – tell every kid in Ekiti it is time to roll up their sleeves and sing songs of freedom. Hope is coming to Ekiti.

http://guardian.ng/opinion/ekiti-time-to-roll-up-our-sleeves/

Posted On Wednesday, 04 October 2017 00:23 Written by

Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.
-William Jennings Bryan American lawyer and statesman.

 
Moods come and go, but greatness endures.
-George H.W. Bush

The vote is the most powerful instrument ever derived by man for breaking down injustice.
– Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
-George Bernard Shaw.

The next election is fast approaching as horse trading has started between registered political parties and individuals seriously interested in participating in one election or the other. Thus, it is an election year in which many winners and losers will emerge. Eligible voters must realise that the type of government they have in vogue is the totality of their decisions.

Australia is a country with the highest voting turnarounds in the world. This is because the country insists that voting is a civil duty of citizens and not just a privilege. Any voter who failed to vote during an election and without acceptable reasons pays a fine. I wish such an enviable principle is established in our constitution for every citizen to accept voting as a civil duty and not just a privilege. Thus, if you did not exercise your voting right, then you should be told to ‘Shut-up’ when you dare criticise the running of government or join the group of people who say ‘politics is dirty’ a statement credited to Woodrow Wilson, Ph.D, LL.D, 28th president of United States of America (1913 – 1921). We must remember that the candidates who win elections have the power to change your life by the laws that they pass during their regimes.

In the future elections, we must vote for people that are considered as honest, with moral visions, concerned with clues of solving our social problems and will not ‘eat the national cake alone’. It is always advisable to find more about political candidates from friends, neighbours, internets, newspapers, and so on, before voting for them. It is a known fact that politicians are completely different human beings when it comes to requesting for votes from people. Some of their campaign slogans and promises are full of deceits, lies, dirty tricks, slanders and insults, including character assassinations; with the intention of mocking their rivals, that they consider as political ‘puppets’ just to win votes.

They play fast political games and come out loose with actual truths while using different tactics to portray themselves and party in the best possible light, portraying their opponents as fools who will lead the country to political ruin if elected. They have enough and unaccountable looted funds to advertise themselves in local and foreign newspapers, television programmers, magazines and as well organized social gatherings for distribution of money with dubiously acquired resources while their political rivals are masqueraded as enemies of progress. By so doing, the morality of politicians is grossly debased while intense campaign of calumny blinds people for the purpose of votes catching.

At the end of votes counting, electorates will see different alignments cropping up. The tension for seeking votes has gone and politicians calling themselves different names are now sitting at both sides of the political table to dine together while the poor voters are neglected like a dirty pond and without further recourse for decision making. The next brazen item on the political agenda is corrupt political bargains and betrayals at the electorates’ expense. Unfortunately, we could hardly find credible alternative in a highly traumatised political setting like ours. When we examine the past records of politicians knocking at electorates’ doors for votes, they are bunched under recalcitrant group of those making unending and unfulfilled promises with enticing envelopes to buy voters’ conscience. With this political development in Nigeria, we must be sorry for ourselves and the nation at large.

We are rightly informed that political elections are the sure foundation of democratic society to provide legitimacy to the government. Also, they are meant to give reasonable opportunity to the entire citizens to participate in the democratic process. From the perspective of electioneering process and candidates’ eligibility (qualifications, nominations, dispute resolutions, etc.), involvement of electorates cannot be pushed aside in a jiffy.

Therefore, it is the right time that Nigerian electorates stop regarding elections as mere window dressing national affairs that do not deserve their attention or participation. When electorates ignore sensible reasons to cast their votes, criminally-minded politicians can make dubious arrangements to ‘stuff up’ election boxes with ‘ghost votes’ or jettison the actual results to announce dubiously motivated and overwhelming victory. Nobody has the will to fight after the ruling government is swept from power following a free and fair election. This is not only peculiar to Nigeria but also advanced countries. In Japan (where Democratic Party that held power from 1955 to 2009), the government was defeated by the opposition and that situation resulted to serious in-fighting. Similarly, there was an election dispute in United States of American when the Republican party (1861 – 1933) was replaced by the Democratic Party. This teaches us that voting during elections is the right of citizens to change their leaders.

Today, there are many angry Americans are or in the ‘near state of despair’ with themselves on the last presidential election in which president Donald Thump won. Even though Sir Winston Churchill once commented that “democracy is the worst form of government”, we were told that other forms of government that were tried before have not been better. It has shown that democracy “is not just essential but also noble, and in fact, worthy of our devotion.” The African American federal appellate judge once noted that democracy is “becoming, rather unbecoming than being itself. It can easily be lost and never was it fully won. Hence, the essence of democracy itself is the eternal struggle.”

Our voting pattern is not different from what obtains in other democratic countries. People sometimes vote for their preferred parties while others vote for personalities. It is a known fact that voting consumes time and money that do not come easily to many people. Hard earned money is never easy to ‘waste’ on elections. the consequence is that many unpopular candidates are presented for elections because they can raise required funds for sponsorship.
To be continued tomorrow.

Okunrinboye wrote from Washington D C.

http://guardian.ng/opinion/nigerian-election-as-basis-for-political-struggle/

Posted On Wednesday, 04 October 2017 00:17 Written by

Nigeria failed to win a medal at this month's World Athletics Championships - meaning Africa's most populous nation has come home empty-handed from eight of the last nine tournaments.

Some athletes, like Tosin Oke, feel the lack of medals reflects a lack of support from the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).

The triple jumper alleges discrimination and the holding back of training funds from the AFN.

He also feels let down by the IAAF, after complaining to athletics' governing body about his concerns.


Who is Oke?

Tosin Oke in the sandImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Oke, 36, is the reigning African champion in triple jump.

Having competed for Great Britain as a youngster - winning a European junior title - he switched to compete for his parents' homeland after not being selected for the 2007 World Championships.

Since then, he has won three African titles: Two gold medals at the All Africa Games (the "African Olympics") and another gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. At the 2012 Olympics, Oke was Nigeria's best performing individual athlete - finishing seventh in the final.

Nonetheless, he says he has suffered repeated discrimination at the hands of Nigerian sports authorities, which he believes stems from his public criticisms of their work.


After winning at the 2015 All Africa Games (AAG), Oke wrote to the director-general of the National Sports Commission, the body then responsible for overseeing sport in Nigeria.

'No victory lap, no Olympics'

In his email to Alhassan Yakmut, the athlete outlined the funds he desired to support an attempt to go for a field medal at the 2016 Olympics - a feat which no Nigerian man has ever achieved.

"Well received. Sorry your refusal to take a lap of honour at the AAG has ruled you out of Rio. Yakmut," came the reply.

A baffled Oke duly sent through pictures of his victory lap but failed to win over Yakmut, who chastised him for looking "emotionless".

Two weeks later, Oke learned that his name had not been put forward by Nigerian officials for an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship training grant provided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"We do not know the criteria used by the IOC," Solomon Ogba, then president of the AFN but now a board member, had told him in March 2015 when Oke had queried his absence.

"The selection was not done by us. What [we] did was send all the names to them," added Ogba, a vice-president of Nigeria's National Olympic Committee (NOC).

Tosin Oke at the All Africa Games in 2015
Oke - pictured here smiling after winning gold at the 2015 All Africa Games - was told he was emotionless about his medal

Concerned by the tone of Yakmut's mail, Oke wrote to the IOC to ask why it had rejected his application.

"Your name was not included in the list of scholarship requests we received from your NOC," came the IOC reply.

When contacted by the BBC about the discrepancy between their versions of events, Ogba said:

"Athletes were asked to fill the forms which the NOC processed and sent to the IOC. Not all those - to the best of my knowledge - who filled the forms got the scholarship."

Despite lacking training funds, Oke did make it to Rio - after buying an expensive flight to Brazil at late notice when the AFN told him the government had not released funds on time.

Told he would be refunded for his fare in Brazil, Oke realised this would not be the case upon arrival in Rio, so he spent the run-up to his event trying to secure his money, which equated to two months' salary.

"At this point my mind was definitely not on competing, it was on 'this is a huge amount'," he said.

Unlike 2012, Oke failed to reach the final. He says he is still owed for a third of his flight fare. The government says all flight fares have been paid in full.


Nigerian record holders

Sprinter Femi Ogunode represents QatarImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Sprinter Femi Ogunode represents Qatar

Nigerian-born athletes hold the fastest 100m times on three different continents:

  • Africa (Olusoji Fasuba, representing Nigeria)
  • Europe (Francis Obikwelu, representing Portugal)
  • Asia (Femi Ogunode, representing Qatar)

Oke says he has repeatedly failed to receive significant funds due to him from Nigerian officials - primarily for training grants.

Originating from the Nigerian government, the funds must pass through the AFN before reaching the athletes.

While saying he did receive some grants, Oke claims he was deprived of at least $146,500 (£112,923) more by the AFN between 2010 and 2015.

Tosin Oke won silver medals at the 2014 Commonwealth GamesImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Tosin Oke won silver medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games

Ogba rejects the allegations.

"The best thing is for him to petition the government who he claimed released money to the AFN," he told BBC Sport.

"As a matter of fact, most of the monies he claimed to have received were my personal assistance to him and other athletes."

When contacted by the BBC, the Nigerian government declined to comment on this matter.

IAAF response

In December 2015, Oke sent a 10-page statement to the IAAF in which he outlined his allegations of funds being withheld from athletes as well as other claims about lax doping controls and mismanagement - all of which he largely blamed on then-AFN president Ogba.

Ogba denies the allegations.

In his letter, Oke also hoped that its recipient - IAAF President Lord Coe - would find his "experiences serious enough to ask the right questions of the characters running the federation".

The IAAF responded to Oke's letter by sending a representative to meet the athlete, Ogba and the AFN's general secretary in March 2016.

"Having spent time with both Mr Oke and his federation [president and general secretary], the IAAF representative left reassured that the other issues canvassed by Mr Oke would be resolved between them," Huw Roberts, the IAAF's Legal Counsel, told BBC Sport.

The IAAF did not confirm whether or not its representative had brought up the denial of funds at the meeting.

Oke feels the IAAF effectively asked the AFN to investigate itself.

'Lax' doping controls

Oke had also told the IAAF how he had witnessed insufficient doping controls in Nigeria.

"This year [2015], I saw an athlete enter the doping room claiming to be another athlete," he wrote. "As ID is not asked for/checked, anything is possible."

The IAAF says that according to its representative, the issue was not raised in March 2016 when he met both Oke and Ogba.

Oke maintains he did discuss wider concerns over doping in Nigeria with the representative, even if he did not directly address the matter above.

"The AFN, under my leadership, fought doping violations with every vigour we could muster," Ogba told BBC Sport.

Scenes at stadium in World Athletics Championship in London 2017Image copyrightREUTERS
Nigeria's athletes did not manage to win a medal at the 2017 World Championships held in London

Oke was not originally set to compete at the 2017 World Championships in London.

As an area champion, he was qualified to do so but the AFN did not put his name forward on time.

"It was the duty of your National Federation to submit your entry in due course," the IAAF told Oke.

"At this late stage, with entry lists being already published, I am afraid there is nothing we can do."

When the BBC asked the IAAF about Oke's letter of 2015 and its various allegations, the initial response that came back two working days later largely dealt with the athlete's selection issues with Nigeria.

It also revealed that the Nigerian had now been included in the World Championships - just six days before the event began.

The IAAF told Oke this was due to "exceptional" circumstances.

Oke, who says he had stopped training in the run-up since he was not expecting to be involved, finished in 25th place.

Despite his experiences, the athlete still hopes to compete for Nigeria at next year's Commonwealth Games.

He is not the only athlete to be frustrated by the way in which Nigerian athletics is run, with several having switched nationality to compete for other countries in recent years.

Posted On Tuesday, 15 August 2017 12:36 Written by
 

DAKAR, Senegal — Torrents of water rushed through the streets of the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown on Monday, causing mudslides that killed hundreds and trapped hundreds more in their homes and vehicles, officials said.

As many as 200 people were killed after heavy rains overnight deluged the city’s poor drainage system and created one of the most devastating floods Freetown has experienced.

Residents awakened Monday to find some streets filled waist-high with water, and roads in some areas were transformed into muddy raging rivers. Some reported bloated bodies floating down the streets and washing up on beaches.

By Monday morning, the county coroner’s office had run out of space, Sinneh Kamara, a coroner technician at Connaught Hospital in Freetown, told a local television station.

Continue reading the main story
 
Photo
Volunteers and health care workers awaited the arrival of more bodies at Connaught Hospital. CreditJane Hahn for The New York Times

Officials were coordinating rescue and recovery efforts conducted by the armed forces and the Red Cross, and the government ordered people living in vulnerable areas on hilltops or close to the coastline to move to safer ground. Boats were warned to halt all sea travel because of the “life threatening” situation created by the heavy downpour.

Continue reading the main story
 

The exact death toll was unknown, said Francis Langumba Keili, the director of the Office of National Security, and the count was expected to rise. He said emergency workers were trying to rescue survivors as more bodies were turning up.

“Our efforts is to look for more survivors, but so far all we see is dead bodies,” Mr. Keili said.

On Monday, residents of the Kaningo neighborhood on the west side of Freetown were going about the gruesome task of collecting the dead even as floodwaters had yet to recede — one body was retrieved from up a tree. The neighborhood was among the hardest hit by rampaging floodwaters, which washed away a bridge and left homes caked in mud and debris. Boxes, plastic containers and furniture were scattered among the homes in the neighborhood, and residents’ belongings were stuck in tree branches and on rooftops.

Continue reading the main story
 
Photo
In Freetown, residents cut through debris to free the body of a woman killed in the mudslide. CreditJane Hahn for The New York Times

Young people used ropes to retrieve some bodies from the fast-running water, according to witnesses. Many of the victims were children, they said.

Several bodies were piled up on a soccer field in the neighborhood, waiting to be taken to the mortuary.

Alimamy Zachariah Barrie, a resident of Kaningo, said more than 15 ambulances were on hand to transport the dead.

“They have retrieved over 50 bodies so far,” said Mr. Barrie, who added that many people were also seriously injured. Other residents had complained that there were not enough ambulances to transport the injured.

In another neighborhood of the capital, Regent, the rain caused a massive mudslide that killed seven members of the same family, including children, when the two-story building in which they lived collapsed. Three people trapped in another building in Regent had been calling for help all morning, but the house was still inaccessible as of Monday night because of mud from a slide that reportedly wiped out half the land in the neighborhood.

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Photo
A house in Freetown was surrounded by water. Some homes were submerged, and many buildings were flattened altogether. CreditJane Hahn for The New York Times

Elsewhere in the city, several people were stuck in vehicles surrounded by floodwaters. Local television broadcast images of people standing on rooftops waiting to be rescued. Some homes were submerged, and many properties were flattened altogether.

Freetown is dotted with scores of informal settlements, many of which are on hilltops or close to the sea, making them vulnerable to landslides and flooding. The city is also one of the wettest in West Africa, receiving more than 20 inches of rainfall on average in August, the wettest month of the year.

In an interview in June, Oswald Hanciles, a spokesman for President Ernest Bai Koroma, warned that homes constructed precariously on hillsides in defiance of government regulations posed a significant risk to residents and the environment. He said that residents were building recklessly and cutting down trees that would otherwise help protect the land.

Still, many Sierra Leoneans say the country’s drainage system is insufficient and this is a main cause for most of the flooding in the country.

In September 2015, just as the country was dealing with the devastating effects of an outbreak of Ebola that killed thousands in the region, a huge flood in the capital killed at least seven people and left several thousand homeless.

Continue reading the main story
 
Photo
Rescue workers cleared debris and dug through mud as they searched for bodies. CreditJane Hahn for The New York Times
 
Posted On Tuesday, 15 August 2017 12:29 Written by
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