Monday, 25 September 2017
Items filtered by date: January 2017

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM...THE BUSINESS DIRECTORY:  The Federal Government has rejected the conditions given by the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group for joining a day search sorties for missing Chibok girls to Sambisa Forest. 

In a letter addressed to the convener of the group, Mrs Obiageli Ezekwesili, which was made available to the media on Sunday, the government said it was unable to postpone the trip as scheduled.

The letter dated Jan. 14 was signed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

‘’Thank you for your letter, dated Jan. 13, which is in response to ours of Jan. 11, requesting that we change the date of the proposed guided tour of the North-East to accommodate a Pre-Tour Meeting between your organisation and some top officials of the Federal Government.

‘’We have also noted the conditions you gave for embarking on the trip which include the said Pre-Tour Meeting and the retraction of some remarks allegedly made by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. – Gen. Tukur Buratai, which the #BBOG finds to be slanderous.

‘’We regret, however, to inform you that we are unable to postpone the trip as scheduled. ’’

The government insisted the team would proceed on the trip on Monday as scheduled because of the narrow window available to have a good weather on the day.

It said that payment for the satellite downlink streaming of the mission had been made for the day and shifting the date will require another round of booking to secure such a slot.

The government added that apart from the BBOG members, local and international journalists had been invited for the trip, while some preparations had been made by the Nigerian military.

It noted that the remarks purportedly made by the Chief of Army Staff and the request for a meeting with its certain top officials were irrelevant to its request for the BBOG to join in the search mission.

The government stressed that it extended the invitation to the BBOG in recognition of the group’s commitment to the safe release of the Chibok girls in captivity and interest in the welfare of those who had been released.

‘’We hope that the BBOG will drop its conditions and join the trip which shows the commitment of the Federal Government to securing freedom for the Chibok girls and its transparency in handling the issues of the girls. ’’

The government had in a letter of Jan. 11, invited members of BBOG to a short trip in a military operational flight into Sambisa forest in search of the missing Chibok girls.

In the letter, the government asked the BBOG to nominate three of its members to join on the guided trip out of which two would join the sorties due to limited seats on the search plane.

The government had stated that the trip would avail the BBOG the opportunity to witness and better understand the efforts being made to secure the freedom of the girls and other victims of Book Haram terrorists.

The BBOG had in its reply to the invitation letter requested the government to meet certain conditions before the tour and also demanded for a change in the scheduled date.

Specifically, the group requested a Pre-Tour Meeting with some officials of government and a retraction of some remarks allegedly made by the Chief of Army Staff, which it alleged are defamatory.

Read Federal Government’s letter below:

Published in Business and Economy

It is heart-warming for me to see you, Senators, back in good health, refreshed and energised for the work ahead. Let me on behalf of the entire leadership wish you and all Nigerians a very happy new year.  2016, was a very challenging year for all of us. I assure you that the work we have done so far is gradually setting the stage for a greater and better 2017. Let me, therefore, begin this address by thanking every one of you for the hard work and dedication exhibited in the last quarter of last year to keep the promise we made to all Nigerians that we would pass laws that would make the difference in their lives. 

It is already historic that within the last quarter, which incidentally is the second quarter of this session, we all rolled up our sleeves, with sweat on our brows and successfully passed 49 bills through 3rd reading and 68 bills through second reading. This is a record-setting feat, which has never been matched in the history of the National Assembly. That within a period of four months in the middle of the term of any past National Assembly, 49 bills are passed in a single quarter. I want to especially thank all the committees who worked tireless to help us achieve this milestone. Let me also thank President Muhammadu Buhari for showing faith with the work we are doing here at the National Assembly as he has by today signed into law 16 of the bills we have passed.

As long as our economy is still in recession, our work is not done. Because our people are still being laid off; so long as factories are closing shop, for as long as the hardship in the land continues to bite harder, investment continues to dwindle and the foreign exchange market remains fragmented, I will be demanding even much more from us to get all our economic reform bills passed.  Ideally, we would like to see them pass together with the 2017 budget. Let me therefore urge all our committees involved with our priority bills to double efforts to ensure that by the end of the first quarter of this year we will have these bills ready.

We promise to pass our priority economic reform bills to help aid our economic recovery. This is a promise we must keep. There are already, new NASSBER research findings projecting that our priority bills, will have an output impact equivalent to an average of 6.87 percent of GDP over a 5-year period on the economy. The average annual growth in jobs is estimated at approximately 7.55 million additional employment as well as an average of 16.42 percent reduction in Nigeria’s poverty rate. Over the projected 5-year period, it is suggested that the reforms, which these bills would engender, may add an average of N3.76 Trillion to National income (National Disposable Income was N85.62 trillion in 2014), equivalent to 4.39 percent of 2014 figures.

These statistics make the delivery of these bills imperative and confirm evidently that we have got our priorities right so far. It is hoped that as we begin to turn our focus now towards the passage of the 2017 budget, these bills will be implemented simultaneously with the budget to enable us exit the recession quickly.

It is therefore imperative that we immediately begin work earnestly on the MTEF to ensure passage by the end of the week. In this way, consideration and debate on the 2017 budget will immediately follow in the three “sitting days” of the next week. It is our hope that we will with this budget begin the implementation of the report of the Committee on Budget Reforms, which has since submitted its report. This will enable more Nigerians participate in the budget consideration process, deepen the review and create the necessary efficiencies we expect from our budget implementation.

There is hardly a point reiterating the importance of making the 2017 budget the most successful budget we have ever passed, neither is it important to emphasise the need to have this budget back on the desk of the executive on time for implementation. As you may be aware, based on the recommendations of the Budget Reform Committee, we are working towards ensuring that budgets are prepared and submitted timely, so that implementation will follow a regular fiscal circle. In this regard, the National Assembly will not tolerate agencies of government not submitting their budgets within the budget period. This is why I urge all agencies yet to submit their budgets to do so quickly as budgets not received within time may have to wait for the next budget circle.

The budget is the most critical instrument within our public context for economic reordering. It is an effective tool to stimulate the economy, ensure an even distribution of development across the country; and give the “Made In Nigeria” initiative the impetus to survive and in the long term, sustain itself.  In this particular regard, the Senate has played its part by passing the amendment to the Procurement Act for which we are awaiting concurrence by the House and for the immediate assent of the President. Once this happens, we will not rest at simply assigning it back to the relevant committee but rather, we all will play our part to ensure that all government agencies comply with the law. I for one, intend to put the full weight of my Office behind this initiative to build the trust and ensuing patronage of Nigerians in goods and products made by our own people. I truly believe that this is the singular policy that can play a key role in getting out of this recession, provide the needed jobs; and keep the economy going.

The issue of policy inconsistencies remains an issue that continues to challenge our business environment. I have in the past argued and still hold the view that for a private sector-led economy to thrive, we need to reform our policy environment to give investors and our businessmen and women ample adjustment time to make informed investment decisions rather than have uncertainties. This is especially important in the agriculture and solid mineral sectors where we have significant economies of scale and opportunities for diversification of our economy. In view of this, we shall, in consultation with stakeholders across board, be looking at legislative measures that could increase the potential for a more stable policy environment starting with the agricultural businesses and solid mineral resources sectors of our economy.

Before we left for the break, I and a few others met with stakeholders in the power sector to get an understanding of why no progress has been made thus far despite the best intention; and the revelations were mind-boggling. There had been errors in the privatisation process and the model by which the power sector is being operated—whether at generation or distribution—will never take us where we need to be. It has failed and nobody appears willing to tackle the issue head-on towards a permanent resolution. I have mandated the Senate Committee on Power to continue the consultation with the relevant parties to forge a path to solving our crippling power deficit. After all, if we are going to drive Nigerian industry, we need to resolve this and fast.

While we have our attention on the economy and are working with sweat on our brows to improve it for the betterment of our people, we cannot lose sight of the callous and growing circle of violence across the country, especially now in southern Kaduna. We condemn in totality to depravity being exhibited on the streets of Kafanchan. This Senate will not pay lip service to it neither will it sit idly by and watch innocent Nigerians being slaughtered on the basis of their religion, ethnic group or political persuasion. No, we will not stand aloof. Let me therefore; use this opportunity to call on the leadership in the state to use its authority and constitutional mandate to bring to immediate halt the growing orgy of violence that has enveloped Southern Kaduna.

This new theatre of conflict is one too many and must be nipped in the bud. Thankfully, a motion to this effect is already before us. We will ensure a thorough investigation is carried out to unravel the issues and advise government appropriately on the matter in order to ensure that all those found culpable are severely dealt with irrespective of who may be behind them. This will ensure there is no repeat of this madness and assure the people of Kaduna that injustice and impunity will not be allowed to triumph over our collective will to maintain our national unity and coherence.

The Petroleum Industry continues to be critical to the health of our economy. This is why, the Senate is urging the Executive to take positive steps to begin open and meaningful dialogue with those aggrieved in the Niger Delta to proffer lasting solutions that will help us take advantage of the emerging international oil market outlook to revamp our economic fortunes. The proposed engagement we suggest must be sincere, constructive, open, and aimed at confidence building. This Senate is willing to assist and play whatever role necessary to facilitate a successful agreement that would help us see to the end of the lingering conflict.

I would want us during this session to also pay attention to the protection and preservation of consumer rights. The current situation where consumers’ rights are violated and treated with indignity must stop. We are prepared to defend the right of the Nigerian to receive a superior quality of product or service purchased with their hard-earned resources. We will not stand for the exploitation of consumers and we have already shown that we are unafraid to tackle such issues whether perpetrated by public or private sector service-providers; as was the case of the intended data tariff hike proposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) which we moved swiftly to prevent. We want people to know that they can run to us and we will in turn rise in defence of the Nigerian consumer who should be respected as a driving force in the economy.

I cannot end this brief remark of mine without emphasising on the need for us to pursue and conclude the ongoing constitutional review process which we will conclude by the end of this session in March. We must do this to ensure that our people begin to enjoy the benefits of the intended reforms which will help strengthen our unity, increase our prosperity and opportunity as well as expand our liberty and happiness across the country.

Finally, let me thank you all for your unflinching focus and perseverance in the way you have conducted yourself as we march towards the attainment of most of our laid priorities. Though there have been many distractions on the way and unmerited traducers unleashed at you to weaken your resolve, you have remained resolute and un-detachable to our collective goal. This is a reflection of what can be achieved if we keep the focus before the end of our tenure. Like I said when we started this journey, history beckons and we cannot afford to lose sight of the goal.

Saraki, President of the Senate, delivered the welcome address to Senators On their resumption from their 2016 end of the year recess on Tuesday, 10 January, 2017.

Published in Parliament
Sunday, 15 January 2017 13:57

By Alkali: PINE not just a grass cutter

The recent indictment of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Babachir, over alleged corruption underestimated the value of work done by the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) argues Mohammed Alkali.

Contrary to the opinion of the Senate, the Presidential Initiative on North-East (PINE) under the watch of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. David Babachir, is not just a grass cutter but a worthy predecessor of the Lt. Gen Theophilus Danjuma-led Presidential Committee on North-east Initiative (NCNI).

The Senate would have had a different opinion if it considered the real work done by PINE within the short time it operated under the SGF.

It must be noted that at inception, the Goodluck Jonathan administration domiciled PINE in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). And most of the initial works and attendant expenditure were done under the supervision of ONSA. It was Buhari that reorganized it and placed it under SGF in last year for ease of coordination since most of the agencies working on the North-east are government ministries and departments.

Its mandate was to mobilse targeted resources to provide emergency assistance to people and communities displaced and adversely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency; jumpstart and stabilize the region’s economy; and strategically position the region for long-term prosperity. It had 24 members, including representatives of government ministries, departments and agencies, Victims Support Fund (VSF), a representative of the North-East Economic Summit Group (NEESG) and the Nigerian Red Cross working with many development partners.

Upon its inauguration, it quickly developed a three-prong implementation strategy for delivering its mandate. First was the short term plan that was designed to provide emergency assistance and economic stabilization to the victims of the insurgency. This programme covered 11 per cent of the projected 150, 000 households targeted by PINE’s Comprehensive Relief Program across the six states in the region. The second was the medium term plan, aimed at restoring lost livelihood and engaging the region’s youth population in productive works. The third was the long term plan that focused on the development of basic infrastructures: Agriculture, Health, Education, Safety and Security, good governance, international trade and regional economic growth.

In fulfillment of its first implementation strategy of providing emergency assistance, PINE intervened massively in the provision of relief assistance, including food and non-food materials to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the peak of the crisis till the Senate intervention. Specifically, the initiative procured relief materials comprising 960 tons of food items, 450 tons of non-food items, including 17,500 bundles of roofing sheets (zinc), 300 tons of cement for IDPs across the region and 360 tons of food items for IDPs in Niger Republic. It also provided 2,005 tents for IDP families in Borno State.

In pursuit of it second implementation strategy of restoring lost livelihood; PINE began the process of rehabilitation of destroyed infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. It was hoped that this would not only help to begin to resettle the displaced but would also provide some jobs as the rehabilitation works begin. In specific terms, the initiative rehabilitated or renovated 28 schools burnt down by the insurgents. It also face lifted 32 police stations and two police barracks that were burnt down by Boko Haram in Adamawa and Yobe states. It upgraded and equipped the Burn Centers at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital and the Federal Medical Centre, Yola. PINE also provided two ambulances to the Federal Medical Center, Yola and the State Specialist Hospital, also in Yola.

As part of its core mandate of restoring economic activity to the ravaged communities, it removed invasive plant species on River Kumadugu and channeled the river in order to provide irrigation for communities along its banks.

Interestingly it was the award of the contract for the removal of the invasive plants and the channelization of the river that created the uproar at Senate. Yet the contact was not only awarded in compliance with the procurement law, but was also duly executed. The people have since started enjoying the fruits of the project as farmers returned to their farms using water from the irrigation scheme of PINE. Fishing had also returned as the invasive plants had been cleared. It is worthy of note that there is already a large scale production of onions along the banks of the river, so much so that an international market has been created with traders coming from far and wide, including Ghana and Niger to trade.

But by far the most important work that PINE did was the development of a Marshall Plan for the resettlement and reintegration of the communities ravaged by the insurgents. Developed by a 22 member special committee, including representatives of relevant government ministries, departments and agencies, Victims Support Fund, North East Economic Summit Group, Nigerian Red Cross Society, some large companies in the region and several development partners, the plan contained the assessment of needs of the affected part of the region, the specific strategies to address these needs, the framework for monitoring and evaluation and cost estimates for specific interventions.

The plan, which estimated that about 282, 422 IDP households would return to their communities in the next one year, itemized the areas of need as cleaning, clearing and sanitation; restoration of sanitized water and hygiene; provision of food and non-food relief; cash transfers and housing refurbishment materials and support.

Other areas identified are trauma counselling; education and safe schools; healthcare delivery; agriculture and food security; critical infrastructure and productive works; empowering people; community leadership support and post conflict security.

The plan, which has since been submitted to the Danjuma-led PCNEI estimates that a whooping N286billion would be needed to meet these needs.

It is rather disappointing that the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Worsening Conditions of the IDPs in the North-east led by erstwhile human rights activist, Senator Shehu Sani, neglected to recognise these monumental works of PINE and decided to scandalise the initiative with an isolated case of a private transaction between Josmon Technologies Limited and Rholavision Nigeria Limited over the funding of a contract won by the former. For the kernel of the Senate findings was the transfers of monies from Josmon to Rholavision, insisting that the transaction was suspicious.

Senate’s suspicion arose from the fact that Babachir had interests in Rholavision and that the transfers were kickbacks for a contact Josmon got from PINE that was then under the watch of the SGF.

Although the SGF has since denied the charge of corruption, which is now the subject of a presidential review, it is important to note that nothing in the Senate findings showed that the said N233million contact awarded to Josmon was done in violation of the procurement law. In any case the impression created by the Senate that the contract was for the clearing of invasive grass in the IDP camp was grossly misleading.

It is necessary to state, therefore, that the claims by the Senate that PINE was a grass cutter, who actually did not cut any grass, is grossly misleading and completely inaccurate. And since the report upon which it based its conclusion is an interim one, it is only fair that it directs its ad-hoc committee to go back and complete its work, taking care to pay more attention to the facts of the concrete evidence on the ground that PINE has delivered meritoriously on its mandate!

  • Alkali, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Damaturu
Published in Parliament

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM...THE BUSINESS DIRECTORY: The Federal Government has invited members of the Bring Our Girls Back (BBOG) to a short trip in a military operational flight into Sambisa forest in search of the missing Chibok girls.

The invitation extended to members of the BBOG, an advocacy group for the release of the missing school girls from Chibok, Borno, was contained in a letter dated Jan. 11.

The letter signed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and addressed to Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, the convener of the group was made available to the media on Saturday.

In the letter, the government asked the BBOG to nominate three of its members to join on the guided trip on Jan. 16 in recognition of the unwavering commitment of the group to the release of the girls

“The trip being planned by the military will see the ministers of defence and information, the Chief of Air Staff and Chief of Army Staff joining the invited BBOG members and a select group of journalists.

“They will first go to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Command Centre in Yola to witness firsthand the efforts being made to search for the girls by NAF and then join the day and night sorties with the BAF to the Sambisa Forest.

“Please note that due to limited seats on the search plane, only two of the invited BBOG members will join the NAF sorties.

“After the sorties, the team will return to Yola for bidding by the NAF on their daily search for the girls as well as all those who have been abducted by Boko Haram.

“Departure is scheduled for 8.30a.m. at the Air Force wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on Monday the Jan. 17, 2017, ” the letter reads in part.

The government stated that the trip would avail the BBOG the opportunity to witness and better understand the efforts being made to secure the freedom of the girls and other victims of Boko Haram terrorists.

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Chibok Girls: Ezekwesili lists conditions to follow troops to Sambisa

The Bringbackourgirls advocacy group has replied the Federal government’s letter inviting the group to follow troops to the Sambisa forest for a search of the missing Chibok schoolgirls.

In its letter, BBOG said it was willing to undertake the tour but called for a pre-tour meeting with the National Security Adviser to the President and the other officials of government including: 1. The Minister of Defence, 2. The Chief of Army Staff, and 3. The Chief of Air Forces.

It also asked that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, should retract and apologize to BBOG for receiving and endorsing a group he received at the Army Headquarters, who had accused BBOG of engaging in “social advocacy terrorism.”

Read BBOG’s reply below:

“We write to thank you and acknowledge your letter on the above subject, dated January 11, 2017 which we received by email transmission yesterday, January 12, 2017. We had an emergency meeting of our Movement to discuss your invitation to embark on a “guided tour” of the Nigerian Air Force Command (Yola) and Sambisa Forest with officials of the government.

Our members unanimously agreed that the Movement is open to exploring the opportunity for a visit to the North-East theatre of war as presented in your invitation. However, before proceeding with further discussions on the proposed visit, we propose a pre-tour meeting to discuss pertinent issues that will help inform our decision to proceed.

We believe that this prior meeting would help provide first-hand knowledge of, and answers to questions that our movement wishes to raise ahead of the guided visit.

We propose that participants at the meeting be the National Security Adviser to the President and the other officials of government indicated in your letter. These are: 1. The Minister of Defence, 2. The Chief of Army Staff, and 3. The Chief of Air Forces.

Furthermore, we wish to raise a matter critical to our proposed meeting. Only two days ago, the Federal Government owned News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) widely reported, through the mass media, that during a visit to the Army Headquarters by a certain group which was received by the Chief of Army Staff, our Movement was attacked for engaging in “social advocacy terrorism.”

It is puzzling that the reported said visit happened less than forty-eight hours before our Movement received your letter asking us to travel in the company of the same Chief of Army Staff to Sambisa Forest.

We demand therefore that ahead of the pre-tour meeting we have proposed herein, that the Chief of Army Staff retracts and apologizes for endorsing such slanderous attacks against our Movement #BringBackOurGirls and specifically at some of our leaders.

Such a step would communicate that it is with goodwill that the Federal Government is asking us to entertain the visit proposed in your letter. For 990 days, our Movement has singularly advocated for the return of our Chibok daughters who were abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok, on April 14, 2014 by Boko Haram during an insurgency that has raged in North-Eastern Nigeria for over eight years. For nearly three years, our movement has demonstrated the utmost decorum and civility by ensuring that our advocacy follows due process and upholds the core values that we developed early on in our campaign.

We assure you that we shall remain on the path of our core values of Hope, Unity, Motivation, Affability, Nationalism, Integrity, Transparency, Empathy, Equity, Discipline, and Sacrifice. We are available to attend the pre-tour meeting we have proposed as soon as we receive a date from you.

We look forward to receiving your reply at your earliest convenience to enable us adequately plan for our members that will attend the pre-tour meeting with you and your designated colleagues.

Read BBOG original letter here:

Published in News & Stories

SPONSORED BY BUY656.COM: United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) says ECOWAS has decided to take all necessary actions to enforce the results of the Dec. 1, 2016 presidential election in the Gambia.

Mohamed Chambas Head of UNOWAS, disclosed this while briefing the UN Security Council on the political and security situation in the region.

Chambas is also the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General.

Chambas pointed out that there was progress in West Africa and the Sahel, but warned of the region’s political challenges, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, said at the briefing.

The UN envoy cited a “rising tide of democracy” throughout the continent, noting that a number of countries had recently held elections which largely complied with electoral norms and standards, upholding their status as a model in the region and beyond.

Referring to the presidential elections in the Gambia, and the ensuing crisis, Chambas said: “However, some countries in the region had witnessed political uncertainty or significant security challenges.’’

“We were saddened by the quickly unfolding political crisis resulting from President Jammeh changing his mind and deciding to reject the results,’’ he said.

He further updated the 15-member council on the initiatives to resolve the situation there taken by ECOWAS that agreed to uphold the elections results and decided to take all necessary actions to enforce the results.

“UNOWAS is fully involved in supporting the ECOWAS-led mediation, which continues to explore all avenues towards a peaceful transfer of power,” the UN envoy added.

The Secretary-General’s West Africa and Sahel envoy also informed council members of elections in Cape Verde and Ghana as well as in Guinea, where polls anticipated to be held in February had been postponed.

In his briefing, Chambas also spoke of the continuing security and humanitarian challenges in Nigeria due to frequent attacks perpetrated by the Boko Haram militant group.

He appealed for more funding and support for relief programmes in the country.

He further updated the council on UNOWAS’ close collaboration with other UN missions in the region and in the context of the drawdown of the UN missions in Côte d’Ivoire, and Liberia.

He added that it worked on issues related to regional stabilisation, technical support and in the implementation of its Resolution 2282 (2016) and the General Assembly Resolution on Sustaining Peace.

Published in Headliners

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM...THE BUSINESS DIRECTORY: The recent release from a British prison of a former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori has since it happened last month attracted comments from across the nation. While many especially Deltans were happy about the development, analysts from other parts of Nigeria were virtually disgusted over what they saw as a sheepish people turning an ex-convict into their hero.

Many of my avid readers and friends have wondered aloud why I made no comment on the subject. I must confess that for once I found a topic that I was not quite comfortable with because I couldn’t agree with the idea of eulogizing the former governor in view of what he was alleged to have done just as I couldn’t agree with those who felt that his release was not worth celebrating by those whose lives he touched. Luckily, in my visit to Asaba last week, I was well entertained by an interesting debate between some politicians who were on the opposite sides of the divide. Chief James Ibori The anti-Ibori side threw the first jab that it was awkward of the pro-Ibori group to celebrate a common criminal who confessed to his crime and duly served his jail term in full.

They argued that it was a shame that people were celebrating those who embezzled state finances which has largely contributed to our increased unemployment rate in the country, lack of healthcare services, deteriorating educational standards standard and disastrous democracy among other challenges.  If such a situation continued, they imagined that our country would end up without values. Perhaps because of the numerical strength of Ibori’s admirers which tripled the adversaries, the voices of the latter were quickly drowned making it easy for the pro-Ibori group to marshal their points for hours without stop. First, they warned against the erroneous posture that Ibori was the worst Nigerian ex-governor in a nation where every governor turns out to be richer than his state.

They recalled what happened in 2015, when Senator Bernabas Gemade, a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had to decamp from his party so as to qualify to contest the coming elections. His challenge according to the story was that the governor he nurtured having become more viable was set to capture his seat. Nigerian politicians are like that, once in office, they overwhelm their sponsors, hence; many governors hardly support their deputies to succeed them. They mentioned the few who did like Shinkafi in Zamfara or Ganduje in Kano who hardly lasted few months before things fell apart between them and their predecessors. Interestingly, the aggressor is irrelevant as the issue is usually the control of state resources. So when politicians are loyal to a leader and are willingly to stand by him for all times, it is not that they are sheepish, the leader must have consistently touched lives as Ibori, according to his admirers, did to his dynasty of successors and other members of their party.

The pro-Ibori side had an eloquent lead discussant. His response to the charge that Ibori was no doubt guilty because he was convicted by an impartial foreign judge was quite interesting. He began with an explanation of how Britain itself had since found out that the police that investigated the Ibori case were compromised. He said corruption was not only an English word but that it was the British and other Europeans that taught Nigerians how to be corrupt adding that although they claim to abhor money laundering, they hardly ever return such funds to Nigeria making them corrupt custodians of stolen goods.

A few days later, the point became clearer to me when I read a statement credited to the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, that Nigeria risked losing another $550m recovered from the Abacha family to the United States. Speaking to reporters during a media parley on asset recovery jointly organised by his committee and Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora, Sagay disclosed that the likely loss was contrary to the earlier promise by the U.S. to return the sum to Nigeria. I honestly enjoyed the debate and if the truth must be told, we have to accept that there is no consensus in this country as to what constitutes corruption. After all, our immediate past President was once quoted to have said that all the noise about corruption in Nigeria was merely a perception. Accordingly, different people understand it differently as the circumstance suits them.

For instance, whereas a section of the senate believes that the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Ibrahim Magu should not be confirmed because of a negative report on him by the Department of State services (DSS), a few senators and the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption think otherwise.  Indeed, by rejecting Magu, Prof Itse Sagay believes that the Lawmakers acted in self interest thereby aiding corruption So, before condemning what looks like a people’s indiscretion, it is probably wise to also hear how they arrived at their decision. Here is one instructive story.

About a decade ago, a group of young Edo activists disclosed that they were shopping for another candidate because they felt the incumbent was too dishonest to be re-elected. In later years when asked how come the governor they indicted was re-elected, they explained that they too changed their minds and voted for the governor because they found that the governor that they felt was a thief; would no doubt be better than his rival that they knew to be an armed robber! So, were such voters fools to have preferred the proverbial “lesser” evil? Were they celebrating criminality? What this suggests is that the real difference between Ibori and other politicians is luck.

Therefore, those who think Ibori should be tried again in Nigeria because his supporters celebrated his release from his British prison greatly miss the point. If we concentrate on Ibori, what happens to those who spent N1billion naira building one kilometre of a road?

Published in Parliament

SPONSORED BY CHIQUEMAGAZINE.COM: Veteran Nigerian musician Daddy Showkey has just revealed one of his biggest regrets in life.

In a recent interview with ThePointNg, Daddy Showkey said not having education is one major thing he regrets.

In his words, ”It is education. When I see musicians who are graduates, I am proud of them. I like to have PhD too.

”Though my mother was a teacher, she still gave me the freedom to do what I wanted to do. But given another chance, I would like to take education seriously. I would have finished my secondary and university education before going into music’.

When asked, ‘what stops you from going back to school now? He responded saying, ”I have so many people depending on me at the moment.

”Helen Paul and I even talked about it recently and she encouraged me to go back to school. But the truth is that I feel my children will continue from where I stopped”.

Published in Entertainment

SPONSORED BY CHIQUEMAGAZINE.COM: Harry Kane struck a hat-trick as Tottenham moved second in the Premier League table with a display of total dominance against West Brom at White Hart Lane.

Spurs equalled their club record of six straight Premier League wins with ease as they set about dismantling their visitors, amassing 10 shots and 78% possession by half-time.

Kane smartly lifted Christian Eriksen’s neat through ball in off the upright, before Eriksen’s own effort went in via Gareth McAuley.

England striker Kane – who became a father this week – was a continued threat and he turned in Kyle Walker’s low cross, before completing his treble with a low finish across Ben Foster.

There was one black mark for Spurs in the form of an injury to Jan Vertonghen, which boss Mauricio Pochettino said “looks bad”.

But his side are now showing real momentum and they simply outclassed Tony Pulis’ Baggies, who stay eighth.

Published in Sports

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM...THE BUSINESS DIRECTORY: Defiant Gambian president Yahya Jammeh on Friday met ECOWAS mediation team for peaceful transfer of power in the country.

The meeting with the team was deadlocked as Jammeh insisted on remaining president.

Defiant Gambian president Yahya Jammeh receives President Muhammadu Buhari with Quran and tesbir

President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia leading other ECOWAS leaders to his office

President Buhari greets Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

The ECOWAS leaders at a meeting with Jammeh in his office

Published in Headliners

SPONSORED BY X365TV.COM: The Gambia’s President-elect, Adama Barrow, has left the country after talks failed to persuade President Yahya Jammeh to step down.

Nigeria’s president flew to Banjul to try to broker a deal but Mr Jammeh would not relinquish power.

Mr Barrow is now heading to Mali, where he will meet West African leaders attending a summit there.

The former estate agent wants to resolve the transitional deadlock so he can be sworn in next week.

President Jammeh’s term ends on Thursday.

The African Union has said it will no longer recognise Mr Jammeh’s rule beyond this point.

Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari had flown to The Gambia’s capital, Banjul, to try to broker a deal, as the region fears the consequences of a non-peaceful transition.

Ecowas, a 15-nation bloc of West African states that organised the delegation, has it said it would consider removing Mr Jammeh using military force if he refuses to step aside.

Mr Barrow is travelling to Mali with the Ecowas delegation for further discussions this weekend.

Mr Jammeh had initially admitted defeat after the December election. But shortly afterwards he called for the result to be annulled.

The 51-year-old leader seized power in the country in 1994 and has been accused of human rights abuses, although he has held regular elections.

A lawyer for Mr Jammeh filed a request with the Supreme Court on Thursday, asking for an injunction to block Mr Barrow’s swearing-in.

The Supreme Court is unable to hear the challenge until May because of a shortage of judges, and Mr Jammeh says he will not step down until then.

BBC reports that there are growing fears that the uncertainty could cause a refugee exodus.

Thousands of Gambians, mostly women and children, have already crossed the border into neighbouring Senegal and further afield to Guinea-Bissau, where they do not require a visa, officials say.

Mr Barrow won 43.3% of the vote in December’s election, compared with Mr Jammeh’s 39.6%. A third candidate, Mama Kandeh, got 17.1%.

Published in Headliners
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