Sunday, 17 December 2017

ENTERTAINMENT

Items filtered by date: November 2017

Nigerian migrants stranded in Libya and elsewhere will be bought home, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.

The decision comes after the emergence of footage showing migrants being sold at slave auctions in Libya.

Mr Buhari said they were being treated like goats, and vowed to do everything possible to prevent more Nigerians making the perilous journey to Europe.

The announcement was made hours after Libya's UN-backed authorities said they were increasing repatriation flights.

About 240 Nigerians were voluntarily flown home in a joint operation by Libya and the UN migrant agency on Tuesday night.

The plight of those trapped in Libya - a major hub for migrants attempting to reach Europe - was highlighted by the footage, published by US news network CNN, which shows young men being auctioned for farm work.

The issue of people attempting to enter Europe illegally was already expected to be high on the agenda of this week's African Union-European Union Summit, being held in the Ivorian city of Abidjan.

Mr Buhari, who was speaking on the sidelines of the summit, said he was appalled by what he had seen.

"Some Nigerians [in the footage] were being sold like goats for few dollars in Libya," Mr Buhari said during the address to the Nigerian diaspora on Tuesday, before lashing out at Libya.

''After 43 years of [Col Muammar] Gaddafi, why are they recruiting so many people from the Sahel including Nigerians?" he demanded. "All they learned was how to shoot and kill. They didn't learn to be electricians, plumbers or any other trade."

Map showing Central Mediterranean migrant routes

Mr Buhari promised those who returned would be "rehabilitated", and vowed to tackle corruption, defeat groups like Islamist militants Boko Haram and improve things like education to stop Nigerians leaving in the first place.

"For people to cross the Sahara desert and Mediterranean through shanty boats… we will try and keep them at home," he said.

Exactly how the Nigerian government plans to enact the repatriation of its citizens is not clear.

 
Published in Business and Economy

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has suspended the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Mounir Gwarzo, from office over allegations of financial misappropriation.

The Ministry’s Deputy Director of Information, Mrs Patricia Deworitshe, in a statement on Wednesday,said that the suspension was to allow unhindered investigation into several allegations of financial impropriety against Gwarzo.

Deworitshes said that Mr Abdulsalam Habu, Head of Media Division, SEC and Mrs Anastasia Braimoh, Head of Legal Department, had also been suspended.

“The suspension is in line with the Public Service Rules.

“The Minister has set up an Administrative Panel of Inquiry (API) to investigate and determine the culpability of the director-general.

“She has directed the suspended SEC Director-General to immediately handover to the most senior officer at the Commission, pending the conclusion of investigation by the API,” she said.

Gwarzo allegedly paid himself N104 million severance package when he was appointed DG SEC from the position of a Director in the same commission.

”This is in total disregard to the standing rule in the civil service which states that severance benefit can only be paid to an employee who has concluded his or her service or has completely disengaged from service.

Since Gwarzo was promoted within the commission to become a Director-general, the service rule says that he’s not yet entitled to a severance package.”

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) is also investigating the owners of the nine companies that got contracts from the SEC under Gwarzo.

They include Outbound Investment Limited, Medusa Investments Limited, Northwind Environmental Services, Micro-Technologies Limited, Tida International Limited, Outlook Communications, Acromac Nigeria Limited, Balfort International Investment Limited and Interactiven Worldwide Nigeria Limited.

According to the EFCC, Gwarzo, his wife and other cronies allegedly used the companies to carry out illegal transactions in SEC. (NAN)

Published in News & Stories
Wednesday, 29 November 2017 17:44

FG suspends SEC DG, two others

The Federal Government on Wednesday suspended the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir  Gwarzo.

A statement signed by Patricia Deworitshe, Deputy Director, Press, Ministry of Finance, said Gwarzo’s suspension is to allow for unhindered investigation of several allegations of financial impropriety against the SEC chief.

According to the statement, the suspension is in line with the Public Service Rules (PSRs) 03405 and 03406.

The Head of Media in SEC, Mr. Abdulsalam Naif Habu, and the Head of Legal Department, Mrs. Anastasia Omozele Braimoh, have also been suspended over alleged financial impropriety.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has set up an Administrative Panel of Inquiry (API) to investigate and determine the culpability of Gwarzo in the matter and has directed the suspended DG to immediately handover to the most senior officer at the Commission pending the conclusion of investigation.

Published in Headliners
 
Nigeria, with her diverse ethnic groups, has several food delicacies that even some Nigerians are yet to try.

 

Iyan (pounded yam) and ishapa

Iyan
Iyan

Iyan (pounded yam) is one of the Nigerian fufu recipes, made from pounding boiled yam repeatedly. It is common among the Ondo and Ekiti people. Ishapa is a tangy vegetable used to make egusi soup served with pounded yam. It is mostly eaten by the Ondo and Ekiti people. It originated from Zobo (roselle)  a woody shrub of the hibiscus species (hibiscus sabdariffa ). The leaves are used as vegetables. Ishapa has lot of health benefits such as Lowers cholesterol, Boosting the immune system (from its high levels of vitamin and antioxidants), Decreases inflammation of the kidneys, Decreases occurrence of urinary tract infections, diuretic properties (helps with water retention) and many more. 

 

Starch and Banga soup

Banga
Banga soup

Starch (Usi) is a popular delicacy in the Southern part of Nigeria especially with people from Delta state. It’s the major type of “swallow” used in eating the popular Banga soup. It’s made from the common starch used in laundry in Nigeria. 

Abula

Abula
Amala & Ewedu Abula

Abula is a wonderful Yoruba soup. It is a mixture of gbegiri (bean soup) and ewedu (draw soup).  Amala (yam flour) is a solid brown paste  made from yam or cassava flour which has been peeled, cleaned, dried and blended into a flour and is simply delicious. There are two types of amala which are yam flour (amala isu) and cassava flour ( amala lafun). Abula and Amala is just a perfect match, you should give it a try. 

Masa

Masa
Masa food

Masa is a northern staple similar to a pan-fried rice cake. You can experiment with some onion and ginger to derive that perfect taste. Traditionally, Masa is made into oval shape. 

Fufu and ofe owerri

Fufu and ofe owerri
Fufu and ofe owerri

This is a nutritious traditional meal, loved and eaten by Owerri people. Ofe owerri is basically made with assorted fish, mixed with green vegetable. Fufu is a starchy accompaniment for ofe owerri soup. It is made with a flour made from a cassava plant. This meal is popular for it rich taste and nutritional value. 

Eba and Edikangikong

Edikangikong
Eba and Edikangikong

Eba is made from cassava flour popularly known as garri. Edikangikong is another traditional meal, eaten by the native of Efiks, Akwa ibom and cross river. It is prepared with a great quantity of pumpkin leave and waterleave. It is nourishing in every sense. Eba and Edikangikong is just perfect. 

It is popularly known as African Salad. It is made with dried shredded cassava(Abacha) and fermented oil bean seeds(Ugba). Your African salad will not be complete without ugba. 

Tuwo masara

Tuwo masara
Tuwo and Masara

This is a corn flour dish popularly eaten in the Northern part of Nigeria.To prepare tuwon masara you must first let your maize dry and afterwards grinded. Let your water boil and then pour the grinded maize fine particles, stir and allow it to harden until it become like a firm dough. Tuwon Masara can be eaten with different type of soups and it has nutritional values. 

Miyan Taushe

Miyan
Miyan Taushe

Miyan Taushe is a Pumpkin soup popular among the Hausas in Nigeria. It is prepared with ripe pumpkin meat and enjoyed by both young and old. There are different species of Pumpkin, but the Gourd type is very common in Nigeria, nevertheless, feel free to make use of any species you can get as long as it is ripe. 

Published in Arts & Culture

Robert Mugabe will continue to have a role to play in Zimbabwean politics, the Jesuit priest who helped negotiate his resignation has told the BBC.

Father Fidelis Mukonori said he would provide "advice" as an elder statesman, including to the new president.

Mr Mugabe, 93, resigned on Tuesday after a military intervention and days of mass protests.

Mr Mukonori said he could not confirm reports that the ex-leader was granted $10m (£7.5m) to ease him out of office.

Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in to replace Mr Mugabe as president on Friday.

Mr Mnangagwa, long a close ally of Mr Mugabe, was sacked earlier this month, triggering the political crisis that eventually saw his boss's downfall.

Father Mukonori, 70, who is close to Robert Mugabe and acted as a mediator between him and the military, said the new president would go to his predecessor for political counsel.

"In the African world, senior citizens are there for advice," he told the BBC's Richard Galpin at a church outside the capital, Harare, after leading a service that included prayers giving thanks for the peaceful transfer of power.

He referred to what Mr Mnangagwa said about his predecessor at his inauguration.

"When he says 'he's my father, he's my leader, he's my mentor', you tell me he's going to stay off from his father, from his mentor, from his leader? I don't think so."

The priest said that Mr Mugabe and his wife Grace remained at their house in Harare and had no plans to leave the country.

The military takeover came in response to Mr Mugabe's decision to position Grace as his successor and sack Mr Mnangagwa from the vice-presidency.

Father Mukonori said he could not confirm reports that the ex-president was granted millions of dollars and promised that his assets would not be touched to persuade him to step down.

"We didn't offer him anything... He resigned for the good of Zimbabwe," he said.

He added: "What I have read in the newspapers is about immunity [from prosecution], and that he will be looked after like any other former head of state."

Mr Mugabe leaving power, he added, was the best thing he had ever done.

 
President Mnangagwa called Robert Mugabe "a father, mentor, comrade-in-arms and my leader"

Separately on Sunday, Robert Mugabe was described as being "quite jovial" by a nephew in an interview with the French news agency AFP.

"He is actually looking forward to his new life - farming and staying at the rural home. He has taken it well," Leo Mugabe said.

He said that Grace wanted to focus on already announced plans to build the controversial $1bn Robert Mugabe University in Mazowe, near Harare.

There are fears that President Mnangagwa, who is associated with some of worst atrocities committed under the ruling Zanu-PF party since independence in 1980, will not usher in the democratic reforms that many in Zimbabwe are hoping for.

But Father Mukonori said he believed the former spymaster knows that democracy is "crucial".

Published in Business and Economy

• Lamido, Shekarau, Dankwambo, others may not step down 

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has one more hurdle to cross in his secret deal with some stalwarts of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, The nation can authoritatively report.

It was learnt yesterday that Jonathan said Atiku must beg or apologize to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to get the 2019 presidential ticket of the PDP on a platter of gold.

Although Obasanjo has quit partisan politics, Jonathan was of the opinion that “he is still a strong factor in shaping the future of the nation in 2019 because he is a force among the revered kingmakers.”

Former President Jonathan  had in early November told the publisher of Ovation magazine in an interview that “If Atiku gets our party ticket, he would compete well. But he would have to reach out to our boss, Baba OBJ, the boss of all bosses. We’ve all learnt at different times that you ignore OBJ at your peril. OBJ has the magic wand. He is respected at home and abroad.”

It was however unclear if Atiku has either accepted the condition or opted to go it alone in seeking the presidential mandate of the PDP.

But some presidential aspirants in PDP were said not to be ready to step down for Atiku, whom Jonathan is working to the answer for.

The aspirants said they prefer to slug it out with Atiku during the presidential primaries.

The affected aspirants are ex-Governor Sule Lamido, ex-Minister Ibrahim Shekarau, Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo and a former governor (now a Senator), who is expected to defect from APC to PDP.

The fate of the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of PDP, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi on the party’s 2019 ticket was hanging in the balance as at press time.

Findings by our correspondent revealed that the secret deal, which made Atiku to resign from the All Progressives Congress (APC), was comprehensive and targeted at the ex-VP securing the PDP presidential slot.

It was gathered that the package also borders on hijacking the party structure at the National Convention on December 9 to make Atiku’s choice as the PDP presidential candidate a reality.

Following lobbying by Jonathan, some founding fathers of PDP (including a few retired military officers), have been part of the latest course in PDP.

Investigation revealed that most governors of the PDP were said to have bought into the Atiku project in deference to Jonathan.

A top source, who was privy to the deal, said: “The unfolding script on Atiku’s return to PDP has the blessing of some founding fathers of PDP who are out to salvage the party. A major component is a likely waiver for the ex-VP to contest the party’s presidential primaries.

“So far, Atiku is complying with the secret accord for his return to PDP. A formal declaration in Yola is being expected either on Wednesday or December 6 as indicated in a tentative timetable.

“But in one of the negotiation shuttles with Atiku, ex-President Jonathan added a caveat that the former Vice President can comfortably secure PDP ticket and win the 2019 poll if he begs ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“We were all shocked by this condition because Obasanjo is no longer in partisan politics. But Jonathan said Obasanjo is an institution whose action or inaction could make or mar the electoral fortunes of Atiku.

“The former President also believes that Obasanjo may persuade any of the presidential aspirants to withdraw for Atiku after weighing all the indices. He said if Obasanjo could reconcile with him, he can also forgive Atiku.

“As a matter of fact, Jonathan cited cases of chairmanship aspirants in PDP travelling to Abeokuta to seek his blessing.

“We are expecting Atiku to comply with this proviso because we want to begin the media war (based on facts and figures) in earnest.

“Jonathan’s position on Obasanjo has been endorsed by some founding fathers of PDP, especially the military class which contrived the existence of the party.”

Meanwhile, there were indications yesterday that some presidential aspirants in the PDP may not step down for Atiku.

These include Lamido, Shekarau, Dankwambo and a former governor (now a Senator), who is expected to defect from APC to PDP.

It was not clear if the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of PDP, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi will seek the party’s 2019 ticket.

A governor, who played a significant role in the pact with Atiku, said: “As part of the deal, we have been trying to prevail on some of these aspirants to step down but they have chosen to contest the primaries with the ex-Vice President.

“Some of them queried why a politician will cross from the opposition party and just be given PDP presidential ticket.

“One of the aspirants said since 1999, he has never defected to any party. He said loyalty to the party and competence should be compensated by PDP.

“Well, we have looked into PDP Constitution, it is immaterial when you join, you can enjoy the rights and privileges which a Methuselah member enjoys. Go and look at sections 8 and 18 of our constitution.”

While Section 8(a) and (b) of the PDP Constitution deals with the procedure for rejoining PDP, Section 18 is on the Status of Returnee Members.

Section 8 reads: “A person who desires to rejoin the party after leaving it shall: (a) apply to his Ward Secretary for readmission; and (b) unless given waiver by the National Working Committee(NWC), be placed on probation for a period of not less than one year.

“Subject to the provision of Section 8(b), a member on probation shall have the right to attend all meetings of the party but shall not be entitled to vote at such meetings, nor shall he be eligible to contest for elective office on the platform of the party.

Section 18 says: “A person who has earlier decamped from the party but later decides to return to the party shall lose the seniority and privileges conferred on him by his previous status.”

But the PDP top shot said: “As the opposition party, we are looking at the larger picture of the return of Atiku, we will give him all waivers required to ensure his readmission.

“Some of our leaders, who were initially opposed to the return of the ex-VP, had shown enough understanding in the past few months.”

Meanwhile, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Kehinde Olaosebikan yesterday said the exit of Atiku would not have any significant effect on the fortunes of the party in the 2019 general elections.

He said no serving governor, no presiding officer of the National Assembly or key national executive officer of the party was in sync with Atiku’s defection.

Olaosebikan who spoke with journalists in Abuja yesterday said in spite of the defection, President Muhammadu Buhari would win hands down and that the party would perform better in 2019.

He added:  “Going through the resignation letter, I found out that the Turaki did not exercise enough fortitude. He allowed politics and ambition to take control of him. He should have stayed with his avowed position in 2013 that the All Progressives Congress was his last bus stop politically, and leave the rest in the hands of Allah.”

“What the President needs from us, particularly the big political players is love, understanding, support and prayers as already being exhibited by the National Executive of the party and our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who at different fora recently gave us hope and assurances of a better tomorrow.”

When asked of the declaration of Asiwaju Tinubu that the party would not give automatic ticket to President Buhari for a second term, Olaosebikan told journalists that the position of Tinubu was in the best interest of the President, APC and the country as a whole.

“Asiwaju,  with the declaration of no automatic ticket was merely portraying  the President as a genuine democrat who believes in due process. What Asiwaju Tinubu said was in support of strengthening our democracy and our political institution which we need to do with all seriousness.

“You would recall too, that he stated that all the organs of the party would support him through the processes. In a nutshell, he is in full support of his second term and you know with him, all the APC governors and the presiding officers in the National Assembly, the ticket is already in the pocket of the President.

“And when it comes to the general election, it is a platitude that you cannot compare the popularity and acceptability of President Muhammadu Buhari with that of any person in the country today. He will win in the North and in the South convincingly. Buhari is not loved for money or any material thing; he is passionately loved for his strong character and piousness.”

Published in Headliners
Saturday, 25 November 2017 20:46

LIVERPOOL 1, CHELSEA 1

Chelsea substitute Willian scored a late goal to earn the Blues a draw with Liverpool at Anfield.

The forward, who scored twice in a 4-0 win at Qarabag in the Champions League in midweek, struck in the 85th minute as what appeared to be a cross looped over Simon Mignolet and into the far corner.

It denied Mohamed Salah a dream outcome against his former club after the Liverpool winger had opened the scoring just after the hour with a close-range finish.

That was Salah's 10th goal in just 13 Premier League games this season in what has been a superb start to the Egyptian's Liverpool career.

Salah could even have won it for Liverpool in final minute but his powerful drive was saved by Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea are unbeaten in their past seven visits to Anfield, a run stretching back to 2013.

Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah has now scored 15 goals in all competitions this season

Salah, understandably, was the centre of attention in the build up to the match as he faced his former side for the first time since leaving Chelsea for Roma in the summer of 2016.

The 25-year-old made just 17 appearances and six league starts during his two-year spell at Stamford Bridge but has returned to England a much improved player.

Already the Premier League's top scorer, Salah has been at his most effective when alongside Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in attack but against Chelsea he had Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for company in Liverpool's front three.

The triumvirate may have been different but Salah still showed his class. He was Liverpool's most dangerous player in a first half light on chances, flashing an effort over the bar early on while a promising run along the edge of the box deserved more but there was no team-mate waiting in the box to meet his cut-back.

It felt, though, that Salah's name was destined to be written into the story of the game and so it proved. He showed great instinct to anticipate Oxlade-Chamberlain's poked pass and when presented with a clear sight of goal there was little doubt over the outcome.

Salah did not celebrate the strike, which saw him become Liverpool's highest scorer in a single season since Luis Suarez hit 31 goals in the 2013-14 campaign.

Chelsea had won two and drawn four in their past six Anfield visits, but despite that record Antonio Conte's team selection suggested this was a must-not-lose game rather than a must-win.

The Blues lined up with eight defensive-minded players - five defenders along with three holding midfielders as Tiemoue Bakayoko started alongside former Leicester duo Danny Drinkwater and N'Golo Kante in the middle.

That meant Eden Hazard carried all the creative responsibility, a task he grasped fully whenever the visitors had the chance to get forward. His darting runs and sudden changes of direction had the home side's defence on almost constant edge. It was from his through-ball that Mignolet had to race off his line to deny Drinkwater and it was from his pass that Davide Zappacosta forced the Liverpool keeper to tip over the bar.

However, he visibility tired in the second half, weakening Chelsea's attack, and when Salah scored it seemed a Liverpool win was inevitable.

Willian was unlucky not to have started after scoring twice and providing two assists in Chelsea's midweek win in Azerbaijan and it took just 144 seconds for him to make a telling impact in this game.

His three goals in two games is as many as in his previous 25 combined. The Brazilian has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge but his impressive recent form suggests he could still play a part for the Blues this season.

Man of the match - Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah
Once again Liverpool's best player. With his 10th league goal for Liverpool in his 13th game, no player has scored more in their first 13 Premier League appearances for the Reds (level with Daniel Sturridge).LIV
Published in Sports
Saturday, 25 November 2017 20:34

Messi extends Barcelona contract until 2021

Lionel Messi ended months of speculation when finally putting pen to paper on Saturday to extend his contract with Barcelona until 2021, the club announced, making official an agreement reached in July.

The Spanish giants had announced in the summer that Messi, 30, had committed his future to the club but the Argentine had not signed the new deal.

With his previous contract set to expire in 2018, Messi could have left Barca for free next summer had he not extended his deal.

“FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi signed on Saturday morning a new contract that will keep the Argentinian superstar at the club through the 2020/21 season,” read a club statement. “The buyout clause was set at 700 million euros ($835 million).”

The steep rise in the five-time World Player of the Year’s buyout clause from 300 million euros in his previous contract is designed to avoid any repeat of Paris Saint-Germain’s capture of Neymar from Barcelona by paying the Brazilian’s 222 million euro buyout clause in August.

Pressure has been mounting on beleaguered Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu to get Messi to put pen to paper.

Bartomeu was heavily criticised for his role in Neymar’s departure and a haphazard search for replacements in the final weeks of the transfer window.

However, Bartomeu saw off a vote of no confidence measure launched by disgruntled fans thanks to Barca’s fantastic start to the season, in large part inspired by Messi’s form.

And Bartomeu now has the image he craved of a smiling Messi tying the remainder of his peak years to the club.

Messi’s 30 trophies are along with teammate Andres Iniesta the most in Barca’s history, including eight La Liga and four Champions League titles.

The diminutive Argentine, who joined Barca at the age of 13, has also smashed 523 goals in 602 games to become the Catalans’ all-time top goalscorer.

News of Messi’s renewal also comes as a huge boost to the La Liga leaders ahead of Sunday’s top of the table clash at Valencia (1945GMT).

Barca lead a revitalised Valencia by four points, with both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid a further six points adrift, thanks to a club record start of 11 wins and one draw from 12 games.

Published in Sports

Ryan Giggs’ father Danny Wilson, 61, has accused the former footballer of ‘abandoning’ his brother Rhodri, 40, after having a secret eight-year affair with his sibling’s wife.

His affair with Rhodri’s ex-wife Natasha had emerged back in 2011, with the brunette bombshell then going on to star in Big Brother and revealing she enjoyed the ‘thrill’ of secretly having sex with Ryan.

Speaking out against the Manchester United star, Ryan’s father has claimed he has ‘no remorse’ over the fling and has ‘never said sorry’ to his brother for his wrongdoing.

Speaking to Daily Star, Danny revealed Rhodri was left devastated by the affair and still hasn’t moved on – six years after it was first uncovered.

He explained that Rhodri, now ‘penniless and homeless’, has moved away from Manchester to stay with family in Wales. Danny added that he can no longer bring himself to say son Ryan’s name, as he claimed: ‘If he would just apologise, Rhodri could move on.’

Ryan’s father claimed instead of apologising, the sports star instead told Rhodri his affair with Natasha was ‘only ever about sex’.

However, Danny’s comments come after it was reported Ryan had apologsied to Rhodri and phoned his brother ‘out of the blue’ in 2015, four years after news of his affair with Natasha came to light.

At the time, it was claimed the brothers were reconciling in an attempt to rebuild their relationship – with sources insisting Rhodri had put the betrayal behind him.

A source told The Sun: ‘Ryan rang Rhodri out of the blue a few weeks ago. Rhodri moved on a long time ago but was adamant Ryan had to make the first move as he was the one who had done wrong.’

The affair was first revealed in June 2011 when Rhodri’s wife Natasha admitted to secretly sleeping with the former star winger over an eight year period in an interview with a Sunday paper. She claimed she had aborted Ryan’s baby just weeks before she got married to Rhodri in Las Vegas.

Rhodri and Ryan

Rhodri

Natasha Giggs

Natasha Giggs

Ryan

Published in Arts & Culture

Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, says restructuring Nigeria is inevitable for all-inclusive advantages it will confer on federating units and enhancement of national unity.

Ekweremadu stated this at a two-day Retreat by Southern Senators Forum in Calabar on Friday, and dismissed the fear in certain quarters that restructuring would cause the break-up of the country.

He explained that restructuring was not the same as exclusive resource control as the renewed and aggressive search for oil around the Lake Chad, Sokoto and Benue River Basins in recent times appeared to suggest.

According to him, whereas federating units will have more control over their resources in a restructured Nigeria, there would always be an Equalisation Fund to ensure that every region thrives above a reasonable threshold.

“In fact, oil and gas is among the least strategic endowments of the nation today and in the years ahead. Oil is fast losing its import in the global economy.

“Many of the heavy buyers are not only finding alternatives to oil, but are also setting deadlines for the phasing out of oil-powered engines and automobiles.

“But, what else can cure our fixation on oil except a return to the original master plan – the quest for a return to the old covenant and original foundation laid by the country’s forefathers.

“This quest is to revive the original master plan, removing those ugly and excess weights introduced by successive military regimes.

“It is an admission that we cannot continue to do the same thing that has failed us for more than half a century and expect a different result.

“If you are driving to Abuja from Ibadan and you face Lagos, you can only end up in Badagry or the Atlantic,’’ he said.
The lawmaker pointed out that the subject of restructuring appeared to have had divided opinions.

He recalled that Nigeria’s independence was delayed till 1960 to give room for more dialogue and ensure that no part of the country was left behind.

He explained that it was wisdom of the founding fathers that ensured that the current map of Nigeria was retained.

Ekweremadu said that there was no other viable option than restructuring if Nigeria must reap the blessings and promises of self-rule.

According to him, it must be done in a way that every part of the country will have a true sense of belonging.

He urged Nigerians to embark on more responsible and patriotic public discourse and enlightenment to break down the meaning and processes of restructuring, saying that the fears inherent in restructuring needed to be addressed.

“I believe that the man from Zamfara is unlikely to stand against a return to true federalism if he is made to understand that such would allow the state to exploit the abundant gold and granite in the state.

“The woman from Kogi will not likely oppose restructuring if she understands how rich the state is in solid minerals such as coal, iron ore, ornamental stone, gemstone, limestone, feldspar, phosphate, mica, and granite.

“And, how restructuring the country will give the state constitutional access to those mineral deposits could transform Kogi to one of the richest states in the country.

“The man from the North-East will not likely oppose decentralised policing if he understands that his family and business will be better protected,’’ he said.

The deputy senate president said the Nigeria Police Force needed to be decentralised as a significant component of the envisaged restructuring exercise.

He said the rating of International Police Association and the Institute for Peace and Security of Nigeria Police as the worst police in the world called to mind the imperative of restructuring of the nation’s police.
He pointed out that the rating had been the worst on all the measured parameters because the police had not been effectively decentralised.

He said, “Nigeria is the only country in the world with a federal system of government but running a unitary system of policing.

“Again, it is not realistic to expect the North to easily give away the advantages the status quo confers on it.

“Since revenues, appointments, projects, and other various opportunities are shared mainly on the basis of states and local governments, we will not realistically expect the region to give up the numerous states and local governments it currently enjoys.

“We will not expect the region to give up all these to embrace regionalism or creation of more states to strike a structural balance.

“But, we stand better chances if we engage in good faith, responsible and respectful dialogue to make every section of the country to see the bigger picture.

“Such healthy dialogues will also show that a man cannot enjoy his perceived advantages when his neighbours are angry since a man who feels unjustly treated will never be interested in peace.’’

Ekweremadu said that restructuring could only be addressed by adopting a piecemeal approach rather than seeking to do everything or so much at a go.

According to him, as the people begin to reap the gains of gradual restructuring, they will drop their fears and crave for more.

He said that if some Nigerians insisted on addressing all the issues at once, it would create the grounds for the suspicion that there was a hidden agenda.

“Interestingly, quite a number of prominent voices in the North have also thrown their weights behind the restructuring of the country. I am sure that many will join in due course.

“We must leverage on the influence of those who are on the same page with us on the vexed matter.

“This is having at the back of our mind a restructuring outcome that guarantees our indivisibility and promotes national integration.

“A restructuring that will guarantee our unity and national integration must address the issue of power rotation among the constituent parts of the country.’’

He called for the devolution of powers to make the centre less attractive as well as a single-term presidency that would rotate among the geographical zones.

The legislator said that such may prove reassuring to ethnic groups and promote national unity and loyalty to the nation, while constituent parts would be reassured that power would come at a given interval.

He commended the forum for raising the standard of ongoing national debate on restructuring, adding that he was impressed by the aptness and auspiciousness of the theme of the retreat – National Unity and Restructuring.

He said: “As we sit back to listen to the erudite minds here gathered, and as we share ideas, let patriotism and dedication to a better and greater Nigeria, rule.

“Let us bear in mind that we cannot restructure without unity, and certainly that restructuring will better guarantee a united and prosperous Nigeria.

“So, we should never fear to restructure and we should not restructure in fear.’’

 
Published in Business and Economy
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