Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Items filtered by date: September 2016
Monday, 05 September 2016 14:33

Nigeria in serious crisis – UN report

A report released by the United Nations says Nigeria is in a fix.

It said the country had been deeply divided along ethnic, religious and regional lines.

It painted a gloomy picture of the country’s economy, noting that most of the development and social indices in the country were below acceptable standards.

The report, which was read during a consultative meeting on the formulation of the UN Development Assistance Framework IV for the South-East zone, in Awka, Anambra State, observed that for decades, different segments of Nigeria’s population had, at different times, expressed feelings of marginalisation.

The report read, “Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa and the seventh most populous in the world. Her population will be approximately 200 million by 2019 and over 400 million by 2050, becoming one of the top five populous countries in the world.

 “Nigeria is one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the world, with over 80 million or 64 per cent of her population living below poverty line.”

Published in Business and Economy

A Brigade Commander is among 16 officers and troops being court martialed for selling arms to Boko Haram terrorists.

He is facing a secret trial in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State over what happened to 21 anti-aircraft guns assigned this year to his artillery brigade.

The brigade commander, not yet identified, claimed before his arrest that he only received one gun, the Associated Press reported.

Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, the theatre commander in northeastern Nigeria, told a news conference last week that military authorities have confirmed that some soldiers were selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram.

He called it a betrayal of the Nigerian people. He gave no more details.

The admission comes three weeks after the Nigerian army said a military tribunal is trying 16 officers and troops accused of offences related to the fight against Boko Haram, including the theft and sale of ammunition.

President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed corruption for the deaths of thousands in the seven-year Islamic uprising that has killed more than 20,000. Children who escaped Boko Haram are dying of starvation in refugee camps in the northeast, where the government is investigating the alleged theft of food aid.

In addition, a slew of retired and current military officers are being investigated for diverting hundreds of millions of dollars budgeted to help curb the Islamic uprising.

Among them is Alex Badeh, a four-star general whom Buhari fired from his post as chief of defense staff. Witnesses have told a Federal High Court that Badeh stole the equivalent of $24 million budgeted for salaries in 2013 and built a shopping mall in Abuja, the capital.

Before Buhari took power, soldiers told the AP they were forced into battle with just 30 bullets each and no food rations.

They said Boko Haram was better armed and that their officers were stealing parts of their salaries and allowances.

Many ran away when the extremists attacked, allowing Boko Haram to take control of a large swath of northeastern Nigeria in 2014.

Under Buhari, a former military leader, a multinational force has retaken most towns but Boko Haram continues to carry out occasional hit-and-run attacks.

Published in Headliners
Sunday, 04 September 2016 00:52

PDP is half dead, Obasanjo tells Modu-Sheriff

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was blunt in his response to the request for support by the factional chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff who visited him on Saturday at his hilltop mansion in Abeokuta.

Obasanjo said there was nothing to support as the PDP is in a state of comatose.

The former president who is noted for his witty remarks told Modu Sheriff after a closed door meeting that the party had lost its soul.

Hear Obasanjo: “And, as they all want to say now, ‘well, you were once the father of PDP. I was once the leader. For eight years, I was the leader of PDP but the PDP that I was the leader of is not the PDP of today.

“The PDP of today, if you can talk of a party again as PDP, its soul has been taken out of it and those who allowed that to happen are, unfortunately, either in the country or out of the country unperturbed about the fate of the party and indeed the fate of the country.

“I have said to my brother (Sheriff), that I wish him well in the dying baby they have put on his laps, because PDP is in comatose and he was of course not in the PDP, he has never been in the PDP until now.”

Both Sheriff and Senator Ahmed Makarfi are locked in a bitter struggle for the control of the former ruling party which was defeated in national elections last year.

Obasanjo had consistently stated that he was done with partisan politics after he publicly tore his membership card of the PDP.

Attempts by various politicians to bring back to politics had been unsuccessful as the former president said he preferred the role of an elder statesman to partisan politics

Published in Business and Economy

A former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke Akinjide, has  reportedly returned the sum of N10m to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Sunday PUNCH can confirm.

Sources within the EFCC told our correspondent that Akinjide, who was the Oyo State coordinator of the Goodluck Jonathan campaign organisation and some chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, allegedly received N650m during the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.

A source at the EFCC said, “The former FCT minister and other PDP leaders in the state received some campaign funds during the 2015 presidential election.

“She has been visiting our Lagos office. Recently, she returned N10m to the Federal Government. She is cooperating with us and she is expected to return more money.”

It was learnt that the money that Akinjide allegedly received, emanated from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and disbursed by the then Director of Finance, Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Senator Nenadi Usman, who has since been charged with money laundering.

The money which was $115m but converted to N23bn, was said to have been kickbacks from some dubious oil contractors involved in oil theft.

Several calls made to Akinjide’s line to get her reaction did not go through as of the time of filing this report.

The anti-graft agency had also detained the Chairman of the PDP Oyo State Chapter, Yinka Taiwo.

The EFCC has so far grilled about 16 former governors and ministers over the alleged N23bn scam sleaze.

Some of them include ex-Governor of Kebbi State, Saidu Dakin Garin; former Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State; former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State; and ex-Governor Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno State.

Others are: former Governor James Ngilari of Adamawa State; a former Governor of Zamfara State, Mamuda Shinkafi; a former Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke; and a former Minister of State for Finance, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda.

During the election, each state was said to have received at least N450m from the fund which was handled by ministers or governors who were members of the PDP. Some states, however, received more than N450m.

Published in Headliners
Sunday, 04 September 2016 00:35

Tonnie Iredia & the verdict of history

From colonial times till date, it is difficult to rate any Nigerian election as successful. An overview of Nigerian elections would confirm this. What can be called the first national election to form a government of an independent Nigeria was held on December 12, 1959. The outcome was tragic as acid and other corrosive substances were poured into ballot boxes to distort the results of the election.

In the Eastern and Northern Regional elections of 1961, the dominant regional political parties used political intimidation including imprisonment of opposition leaders to achieve sweeping victories. 

In 1964, more than half of the candidates in the elections into the Federal House of Representatives got elected unopposed as electoral officers disappeared after receiving the nomination papers of only the candidates of the ruling party. In 1965, elections in the Western Region ended with houses of political opponents set ablaze killing several people and destroying countless property in what has become known in history as “operation we tie” – the spraying operation. This was repeated during the 1983 elections in which incumbent state governors announced their own re-election even before the Federal Electoral Commission could conclude the collation of votes cast at the election.

The 1979 and 1999 elections conducted by the military were relatively more peaceful but they produced unacceptable controversies showing that peace and success are not necessarily coterminous. For example, international monitors led by former American President, Jimmy Carter observed ample disparity between the number of voters seen at the polling stations and the final results. Regrettably, the June 12 1993 Presidential election acclaimed world-wide as the nation’s best was annulled. Till date, there is no substantial evidence that Nigeria’s unwholesome political culture since democracy was reintroduced in 1999 is ready for change. We still have among other things, the announcements of results from centres where elections did not hold. In the words of international observers, the 2007 elections did not “measure up to those observed by them in other countries whether in Africa, Asia, Europe or the Western Hemisphere.” In short, the pattern of post-election violence in some places immediately after the 2011 elections showed that the main causes of failed elections in Nigeria are yet to be addressed more than four decades later. The rancorous party primaries to select candidates for the 2015 general elections, the hate campaigns which followed and which have been replicated in the last one month of electioneering for the governorship elections in Edo State next Saturday appear to confirm that one problem Nigeria is yet to overcome is compromised elections. Against this backdrop, why do politicians always attack commentators who draw attention to our unending ominous political scenario?

As one politician opined the other day, people like Tonnie Iredia who do not belong to any political party should stop dabbling into politics. However, such  a viewpoint that I have no ‘locus standi’ in politics and elections in the country is myopic because I have more than enough insurable interest in the Nigerian project.  Indeed, my diversified academic disciplines and wide practical experiences on the subject are pertinent.  As a broadcast journalist, I have been an active actor in political broadcasts in Nigeria since the 70s. During the 1979 and 1983 elections  I was the Manager, News and Current Affairs at the NTA Benin and thus led the coverage team of the elections in the then Bendel State. 

For all the elections held between 1987 and 1993, I was in charge of the management of electoral information for the defunct National Electoral Commission. During the period,  I had to ferret, analyze and interpret for the media, data concerning elections and politics. In 1997, I was seconded to the Independent Election Commission of Liberia to serve as technical expert on the management of electoral information. While there, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) appointed me as Coordinator of Political broadcasts for the first post-civil war election in that country with a mandate to evolve guidelines that would create a level playing field for electioneering campaigns as well as an enabling environment for the attainment of balance and objectivity in media coverage of the elections. From 2003 to 2007, I insisted at the risk of losing my job as Director-General of the NTA that in line with the electoral act, all political parties were entitled to equal airtime prompting the This Day Newspapers to declare my station, the best government agency of the year. When added to the fact that one of my two doctorates, is anchored on political broadcasts, it is easy to see that I have been, not just a moderator of the activities of my time but also a participant observer with an eye on history and its verdict. I therefore owe the public and indeed posterity, the duty to consummate my inclination for adversarial journalism by continuously drawing attention to societal ills with a view to influencing their redress. Those who are uncomfortable with this posture which can help educate our people on their political rights have spent ample time and public funds attacking my person rather than my message.

Those attacks are to be expected from self centred individuals who gain from appropriating our commonwealth and who turn our people into objects rather than the main subject of democracy. When in January this year, I described “uncommon governance” as the bane of Akwa Ibom which spends millions of naira organizing Christmas carols while owing doctors several months salaries, they organized a number of defamatory articles on me. When a month earlier, I drew attention to an alarm by workers in Enugu state that their legislators had coerced their state government to buy them expensive Prado jeeps in the midst of recession, mercenary writers were invoked on me.

When I called on the outgoing governors of two states-Edo (APC) and Ondo (PDP) to create a level playing field for all contestants in the forthcoming governorship elections in both states and not to impose preferred aspirants but to allow all candidates free and equal access to state facilities and institutions, a mob of paid writers of “right of reply” emerged with all of them singing discordant tunes. The truth however is that ours is a developing society which is begging for visionary leaders that can reverse our stunted growth. Such leaders can best be known if candidates are allowed to emerge from free party primaries and thereafter allowed to freely canvass for votes. Media professionals should ignore all the smart moves to fabricate and make defamatory statements to divert attention from the substance of politics. I for one will respond shortly to all allegations leveled against me. But before then, this is the best time for the media to beam their searchlights on individual competences because all our politicians belong to the same political ideology.

In Edo for instance, the two leading contestants are from the same political family. While Godwin Obaseki has served as Governor Oshiomhole’s Economic Adviser, his main opponent, Osagie Ize-Iyamu was the Director-General of Oshiomhole’s campaign in 2012 making their current contrived differences a façade. The way out is for  Edo people to use the next 5 days before the elections to weigh the candidates as individuals using not slogans or commercial endorsements to determine how to vote but relying essentially on the persuasive capacities of each of them.

Published in Parliament

Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg has been enjoying all his moments in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, since he began a visit on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, he posted a photo that shows him and some of the city’s tech entrepreneurs jogging on the iconic Ikoyi-Lekki Bridge.

”Quick run this morning across the Ikoyi Bridge with entrepreneurs in the Lagos Road Warriors running club. Best way to see a city!”, he wrote.

On Tuesday, he spent time meeting with developers and entrepreneurs, and learning, as he put about the startup ecosystem in Nigeria.

“The energy here is amazing and I’m excited to learn as much as I can”, he said.

Later he wrote effusively about his meeting with Rosemary Njoku, who runs the Facebook Express Wi-Fi stand in Lagos.

“Express Wi-Fi empowers entrepreneurs to build a business by providing their community with access to the internet. Facebook designed the technology, and local internet providers add the connectivity. Express Wi-Fi is part of initiative.

“Rosemary already had a business before she also started selling Express Wi-Fi as well, but she told me she now has 3,000 customers and makes much more money from Express Wi-Fi. She’s a great example of how local entrepreneurs spread internet access around the world.



“This week, we’re launching a satellite into space to enable more entrepreneurs across Africa to sell Express Wi-Fi and more people to access reliable internet. That means more connectivity and more opportunity for entrepreneurs like Rosemary everywhere”, the 32-year old billionaire visiting Nigeria for the first time said.

Published in Business and Economy
Thursday, 01 September 2016 00:55

EFCC grills Ogunlewe over N250m FUNAAB funds scam

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday interrogated a former Minister of Works and current Pro-Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe.

It was learnt that Ogunlewe was invited to the Ibadan office of the EFCC sequel to a petition written to the EFCC by a group known as Concerned Stakeholders of FUNAAB in which Ogunlewe and the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olusola Oyewole, and other members of the university’s governing council were accused of mismanaging N250m.

According to sources at the university, Oyewole and Ogunlewe allegedly spent N250m for allowances in four years thereby plunging the university into financial crisis.

The anti-graft agency said in a Facebook post that Ogunlewe was still being interrogated as of 4pm on Wednesday.

It said, “Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, the Pro-Chancellor, FUNAAB, is being quizzed at the Iyaganku office of the EFCC, Ibadan today, August 31, 2016 in respect of an alleged case of abuse of office and misappropriation of funds reported against the university Pro-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olusola Oyewole, management and some members of the governing council.

“According to a petition submitted to the EFCC by the Concerned Stakeholders of the Federal University of Agriculture, it was alleged that the pro-chancellor and the vice-chancellor engaged in an ‘unbridled corruption and betrayal of public trust.’ Ogunlewe is still being interrogated by the EFCC operatives of the commission.”

The EFCC had on August 17 quizzed Oyewole and the university Bursar, Mr. Moses Ilesanmi, for their alleged roles in the case.

When contacted on the telephone, Ogunlewe confirmed that he was quizzed by the commission but added that he was only asked to offer explanations and he left the anti-graft agency at 10am.

The former minister said the petition was initiated by the bursar who was aggrieved because the governing council refused to extend his tenure.

Ogunlewe added that the council had no access to N250m and therefore dismissed the allegation.

He said, “All our allowances are prescribed under the rules and regulations. The governing council sits only four times a year and our allowances cannot be altered. So, the allegations are false. In government you must sign whenever you receive money. So, how could we have signed off on that amount of money?

“The council is not involved in the day-to-day running of the school. We don’t approve money or contracts. What we do is policy-making. So, we have no access to such funds. The registrar is the secretary to the council and he has all the relevant documents.”

When asked to explain what he told detectives, Ogunlewe said, “I told them four things. First, the bursar asked for extension by one year and the council refused his application and that is why he is against the council. So, his petition is in bad faith.

“Secondly, the bursar was involved in N27m missing funds and so it is him that the EFCC should be investigating. Thirdly, we are about to appoint a new VC so there is a lot of fighting and politics going on.”

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities had on August 24, this year, staged a demonstration at the Ibadan office of the EFCC where they called on the Federal Government to investigate financial and other administrative activities of the vice-chancellor of the university.

During the protest, the Chairman of SSANU of the University of Ibadan, Wale Akinremi, who spoke on behalf of the leaders of the union, said the group staged the protest to condemn and reject the recent suspension of members of the union by the embattled VC.

He said the suspended members were targeted because they wrote a petition against the VC to the EFCC.

He said, “Our position is that as from this moment, SSANU as a union, ceases to recognise Prof. Oyewole as the VC of FUNAAB. We are saying that the Federal Government should beam its searchlight on the university system in Nigeria, especially on the pro-chancellors, the vice-chancellors and the bursars.”

Published in Headliners
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