Monday, October 11, 2010
Italy based Nigerian Join Presidency Race Italy based Nigerian business mogul Francis Onabis has declared his intension to contest for Nigeria presidency in the 2011 election. Onabis who is currently the President, CEO of Mattia holdings limited, a financial and marketing consulting company in Cyprus and Stillwater Limited in Italy. Onabis said thou he have no political experience but his love for the country and desire for change motivated him. He said he had acquired good governance knowledge and experience by staying outside and he is ready to inject it to Nigeria governance to make the nation great. He lamented the complete break down of Nigeria infrastructures, economy, and security to both people of Nigeria and property, which he attributed to failure of the ruling party, which have been in power since 1999. Also condemning the government of the ruling, PDP saying “they run the government of Nigeria as their own personal property, Government should not be run like that, Nigeria belong to all us and any person who is elected to a public office must understand he or she is there to serve the people, PDP have ruled Nigeria for the past 12years Nigeria is not better off thanks to their way of ruling.” He said over the years multinational companies have moved out of Nigeria, “no regular power supply, the PDP just don’t get the priorities right in Nigeria, the last 12 years they have made their member's rich and the Nigerian masses poorer, provision infrastructures has become a thing of who you know, infrastructures are for the people of Nigeria whichever party they may belong, they have made their party member richer and the masses poorer.” While he condemned the independent bomb blast in Abuja , he said “am not one of the people who believe you can solve problem with force, they say vote is more important than gun. I am convinced nothing cannot be solved with proper reasoning, There is no need killing innocent people to make a point” “If you are not happy with a government you vote them out, If you are not happy with a government you vote them out, killing innocent people will never bring the change we all seek in Nigeria ” While he said he is stargazing on political party to run, he said “am going to take a careful look at the existing party see if their agenda fits mine and then decide Parties, I need to meet with the leader's of the various parties and find out which of them is suited to our course, I can only work with a party which principle's is to salvage Nigeria”
Friday, October 1, 2010
A Nation at 50 Ayodele Samuel Senior correspondent At this historical moment and time, Nigeria makes a replication of the time when Israel was in the wilderness. Though the journey was tough then, Israel knew with certainty that she was heading for the Promised Land - Canaan , Sadly, Nigeria does not yet know where her own destination lies even at 50. After 50 years of political independence, Nigeria still gropes in the dark; walking without a definite direction, it is pathetic as the world daily watches the acclaimed giant of Africa helplessly moving about with the whirlwind of unfortunate circumstances. The Nigeria experience 50 years ago indeed has been a story of lamentation on all sides. Visions and targets set for development by our founding fathers 50 years ago have all woefully failed. And yet there is no end in sight to further failure. As the nations begins another journey the nation certainly needs a way forward, a break through from a nation where poverty reigns supreme in the midst of plenty: a country that is known for production of; and renown for export of crude oil but import refined and finished petroleum products to the detriment of its economic and political progress; a country where N17bn is set aside to celebrate her 50th independent anniversary at the expense of the masses that are denied basic necessities of life. A country where 70 percent of it citizen live below 150 naira per day but awarded more than 70 percent of its annual budget to salaries and allowances of political office holders . It is no more news that basic infrastructures in the country are in deplorable conditions. No good roads, no basic educational structures, our hospitals have become transit point to mortuary due to inadequate health care facilities. Unemployment is increasing as the economy gets worse. Industries have closed down due to unabated high cost of production as a result of unreliable power supply As we celebrate years of independence, think of when we shall get out of this shameful situation wickedly imposed on us by selfish leaders over the years, what is the way forward? We should use this moment to reflect soberly on achieving the true Nigeria dream, both the leaders and lead must reflect soberly on the state of the nation,; we can’t continue to be led by visionless leaders, who neither have the mental capacity nor patriotic desire to move the country forward. At this moment Nigerians must wake up from their slumber to reality. 2011 is a year Nigerians must decide on true leadership. It is a year Nigerians must vote and ensure that their votes are not counted for the wrong candidates. It is a year to tell the wicked, self imposed leaders to go into political oblivion; it is a year to rescue our country from the visionless and corrupt leaders while they bow out shamefully. for a Nation like Nigeria to be great again it will start from somewhere mostly important which is credible, transparence and elective election, when their is a free, fair election, we must all we lay our hands on the plough afresh towards building a nation we can all be proud of in OUR GENERATION!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
CHEERING NEWS FROM THE MANUTACTURING SECTOR When President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office some months ago, he inherited a deplorable industrial sector especially, the deteriorating state of infrastructural facilities which had crippled economic activities in the sector. LEADERSHIP Industry Correspondent AYODELE SAMUEL writes on efforts of government to reposition and to repair the damage caused by many years of neglect with consequent toll on the economy. No doubt the first two decades following Nigeria ’s independence in 1960 remains the glorious period in the nation’s history. During this period, several sectors of the economy experienced unequalled vibrancy. The period contributed significantly to the nation’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP). The manufacturing sector played a significant role in stabilizing the engine of the nation’s economic development in terms of employment, export and agriculture which serves as source of foreign exchange earnings. Between1970 to1980 according to statistics, the manufacturing sector alone contributed between 11 - 9.9 percent to the nation’s GDP respectively. Recent figure released by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has shown that the manufacturing sector contributes only four percent of the nation’s GDP while Industrial Capacity Utilization has dropped to about 28 percent. Currently, many local industries have continued to operate under very severe economic and environmental conditions such as poor energy, poor infrastructure facilities including bad road network, lack of access to funds and high interest rates on bank loans while those that cannot endure the economic hardship close shops. Professor Eric Chiedum Eboh, a Policy Economist and a business researcher said for Nigeria to achieve its economic targets and development objectives it requires the right business environment to nurture a competitive and dynamic private sector. These indices have been a headache to manufactures and government itself. This was what led to the convergence of the meeting between government and stakeholders to find lasting solution to the problems facing the nation’s industrial sector. It is on record that government through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has been tackling these problems on many fronts by bringing both private and public sectors together to discuss the way forward in the commerce and industry sector. In May this year, the Ministry had met with NACCIMA, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria MAN, and other stakeholders in the sector to fashion out possible solution to the problems facing the sector. Also, the problems of the nation’s industrial sector was on the front burner at the meeting of the National Council of Commerce and Industry, the highest policy decision making body in the sector which held in Kano from May 17-21, 2010. This led to the formation of a committee to develop a 10 year National Strategic Industrial Development Master Plan (NSIDMP) to provide the roadmap for industrial development in Nigeria . This committee is headed by the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Ms. Josephine Tapgun while the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Dr. Emem Wills Wilcox is the alternate Chairman. During this interaction with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye pointed out that the purpose of the meeting with the Organized Private Sector was to harvest their views on the challenges facing the sector as well as to find possible ways to alleviate the problems. According to him “I know where the shoe pinches and I know that the mandate of this ministry is to remove all obstacles, stumbling blocks and barriers in the pursuit of Commerce and Industry and our tasks here is to support you.” He pointed out that most of the challenges that were facing the sector did not reside with his ministry; therefore the ministry has to interface with other ministries and agencies of government such as the Ministries of Finance, Petroleum, Power and the Nigeria customs Services and CBN to tackle the problems. These interface with other ministries and agencies have started yielding results. The N500 billion revival funds for the industrial sector which led to the disbursement of N150 billion to the real sector was initiated by the ministry in 2009 and the present Minister followed it up for it to come on stream. On the assurance the Ministry gave to manufacturers on special prices for Low Pure Fuel Oil (LPFO) which was one of the concerns raised at the meeting with the Minister, the Ministry of Petroleum has facilitated unfettered access to LPFO by manufacturers. Action has been stepped up on the 100 billion bailout funds for the textile industry, through the Bank of Industry (BOI), to enable more moribund textile companies to access the loans on one digit rate interest through the arrangement work out by BOI. With efforts to tackle the illegal check-points that dot the Seme border route and various ports which have been the entry points for illegal imports into the country, a 21 – man Task Force on Trade Facilitation in Nigeria headed by the ministry’s Ag. Director Trade Mr. David Adejuwon has been set up, comprising members from Ministries of Commerce and Industry, Transport and Finance, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), Nigeria Quarantine Service (NOS) Nigeria Police, CBN and National Association of Clearing and Forwarding among others. The Taskforce was on an assessment tour of infrastructure needs at the border posts recently to harmonize various activities of the agencies at the posts. This is to ensure compliance with multilateral and regional decisions on trade facilitation. In the course of their assignment, it was discovered that out of the over 30 government agencies currently operating at the borders and ports, only few are legal. The National Sugar Development Council in collaboration with the Ministry has flagged off the delivery of input loans and credits to members of 40 out-growers Association in conjunction with Bank PHB, the Central Bank of Nigeria and National Agricultural Insurance Corporation of Nigeria (NAIC). Also the Ministry has provided new guidelines for companies granted approval to import unfortified raw Sugar for Industrial use on packaging and labeling of their products as well as to ensure at least 70% local contents in National Sugar consumption by 2015. The council recently developed up a National Sugar Master Plan that will foster new investment and help existing investment in the sector to consolidate. Also, the Ministry through the Bank of Industry (BOI) has approved N58 Billion for 675 small enterprises to guarantee the utilization of raw materials, especially agricultural produce, generate employment, increase export potentials, promote MSMs by women as well as deepen bank’s credit delivery process through lending to cooperative groups under collective guaranteed arrangement. In a bid to sustain continuity of policy and programme of the Ministry the Minister has given his support for the Campaign for Patronage of Made in Nigeria Products. The Ministry is also collaborating with Common Fund for Commodity (CFC) on the provision of prototype cassava processing plant. Another Cassava Processing Factory was commissioned by the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Abubakar Mohammad at Angwa Nungu Village of Lafia, Nasarawa State in July 2010 adding to the two prototypes already commissioned in Masaka and Kuje both in Federal Capital Territory and Nasarawa State respectively. Also, CFC granted Nigeria Palm oil project an estimated $4,611,040 meant to improve the income generating potential of oil palm in West and Central African region ( Nigeria and Cameroon ). The project was meant to benefit small-scale palm oil processors operating inefficiently, with limited market access or ability to effectively participate in palm oil domestic and national supply chains. The project will improve on existing technologies and provide skills training (technical) for operators and business skills for management staff. The Ministry has shown the zeal to promote development of industrialization by sustenance of Government Backward Integration policy on cement through cancellation of all un-utilized cement import licenses issued from 2002 - 2008. This measure was reached in collaboration with stakeholders in the cement sub-sector after it was confirmed that there was substantial increment in the capacity of local manufacturers of cement in Nigeria . This measure is primarily aimed at accelerating the growth of local capacities as well as providing possibilities for eventual export of cement products to other African states and beyond. In view of the above, and to achieve the much desired self-sufficiency in local manufacturing of cement, create employment and value addition,government has issued new cement import licenses to investors that have committed resources to local production of cement. The new import licenses cover the period of 1st July to 31st December 2010. It is imperative to note that government granted license to existing and new entrants into cement in 2008 in a bid to bridge the shortfall and ensure a decline in the price of the commodity in Nigeria . The new entrants were BUA Group, Madewell, Reagan Reinassance, Minaj, Lababidi and NICA. They were granted license to import 500,000 tonnes of cement each with option of bulk, jumbo or 50kg bag cement. BUA Group used its allocation on bulk cement while others like Madewell and Minaj did 50,000 tonnes each, Reagan did 20,000 while Lababidi and NICA did not utilize their allocation. This non-utilization and under utilization by new entrants added to the problem of shortfall in cement supply in the country. Local production of cement in 2009 stood at 8.5 million while the shortfall was 8million tones which government bridged with import. With new investment and expansion of lines by cement manufacturers, local capacity projection for 2010 is 11 million tones while the remaining balance will be imported by those who have shown commitment in local production. Government has tried to encourage genuine local investors in the cement sub-sector by granting them license to import bulk cement for bagging at their facilities but no group or individual under the guise of operator should hold government responsible for their failure to grasp the rare opportunities provided to them by government to participate in the sector. However, public commentators have been analyzing the significance of this government action in boasting local production of cement. MAN Director-General, Mr. Jide Mike described the move to re-introduce the Cement Backward Integration policy as a positive one that would enhance local capacity production and eventually significantly reduce the price of cement in the country. By the move, he said the federal government has displayed its commitment to the survival of the real sector of the economy, which has almost been extinguished by faulty policies and the harsh environment of the past years. Commending the government on the backward integration policy, which became effective in 2002 and has significantly boosted the local manufacturing capacity, he said the era of overtly relying on imported cement is over as local production now exceeds the imported cement. Chairman of the Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria CMAN Engineer Joseph Makoju while commending the action the government explained that that by the end of 2011, Lafarge Cement WAPCO will have rolled out its new plant at Lakatabu Ogun State; Dangote Group would have commissioned the Ibeshe plant and doubled capacity at the Obajana factory and Benue Cement Company, all of which will increase the local production of cement above 20million metric tonnes per annum. Makoju also stressed that the rising output from the various local cement companies had already begun to result in the crash of the price of cement from over N2000 per 50 kg bag to about N1500 per 50kg bag. He said with the promises made by the federal government to revamp the nation’s power sector, finance the manufacturing sector and boost infrastructure already taking shape, the price of locally produced cement was on its way to around N1000 per bag or even less. Makoju assured Nigerians of a drastic crash in the price of cement, as the nation moves towards full self sufficiency in the area of cement production next year.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
2011 and Nigeria youth Ayodele Samuel The failure of different government to conduct free, fair, peaceful and credible election has made it difficult for Nigerians to rely on President Jonathan’s words to deliver credible polls comes 2011 election, the need for Nigerians, especially youths to register, select right candidates, vote and protect their votes just remains the best option to protect our future. If the youths teams up rightly, I would be right to say Nigeria youths would determine the next set of leaders we would have, but the fear remain making a right choice. The youths consist of a large number of voters in every elections, now the youth would also play a major role in the conduct of the poll if, Jega’s decision to use youth corps members remains. If during 1993 election, I was under age, I knew not the role of the youth in making that election free and fair, but 2003 and 2007 the youth was badly used in the process, many of our friends ended up as a 2000 per day political thugs, few stanched ballot boxes but we all suffer the consequence of bad governance and misrepresentation those administration gave back as dividend, now its 2011 we are saddled to make the right choice. The 2003 and 2007 produced administration was a disaster to the youth, the rate of unemployment over increased , ASUU strike closed down our universities for months, we couldn’t compete internationally because we were half baked, the government seems never to yields any of our plights . It is time for youths to stop sacrificing their future for mere food. Avoid being used as political thugs by dubious politicians who have their children schooling in western parts of the world The politicians due to unemployment they have created has turned many Nigerian youths to immeasurable weapons for election looting, political campaign violence, election rigging and other electoral frauds that turn Nigerian politics to do or die affair. It is time for us to stand for what is right even if we’re standing alone. We are no longer leaders of the tomorrow we knew not, the tomorrow our politicians have destroy but today’s leaders and tomorrow shapers of a future and a great country The role of youths in nation building and credible elections include active participations in a lawful manner in decision making especially when it comes to determining who rules the nation realizing the fact that, youths are the future of every country. The future of the youths can only be secured when true and patriotic Nigerians are installed into government with the help of the teaming youth through free and fair election not selection as we have it in the Nigerian politics. We youth must rise to defend democracy in this election, the will of the people must not be not subverted by these criminal politicians who have spent their valuable life span looting this nation, we will bear the consequence of their deeds if we don’t stop them now.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
You would know he is a journalist, after my text message, he called me, he was in Ghana, he was happy to talk to the much read Ayodele Samuel, i guess, i meet with him at the planet one center room 11 something but i my self enjoyed this interview like never before Otunba Dele Momodu is a man of many parts who needs no introduction. The business mogul,publisher, author, columnist and showbiz impresario, who has not hidden his disdain for the nation's misrule, opens ‘Pandora’s Box’, and says he will aspire to become Nigeria's president come 2011. In this exclusive interview with AYODELE SAMUEL, he discusses his 2011 presidential ambition and does not shy away from some controversial issues in the polity. Excerpts: You have a good job, yet you want to run for the presidency in 2011, why? A lot of people think I'm looking for a job. No. I'm not looking for any job because I'm not jobless. I have a very good job. I'm not the richest man in the world but I'm happy with what God has done in my life. I was born very poor, we don't have a single rich person in my family and it has never bothered us, all we want to do is leave a good name and legacy behind. Others think it is a publicity form, and I say that if it is about publicity I would have gotten it when NTA came to me in 1988. I am the master of publicity, so if I need publicity I know what to do, but this is not because of publicity. I just believe that Nigeria has reached a crossroads. We have the last opportunity to have a bloodless revolution. If care is not taken we are going to enter the next stage which I'm afraid of because the suffering in Nigeria is unprecedented anywhere in Africa. I have travelled the length and breadth of Africa and know that while other countries are making progress, we are retrogressing. It is dangerous. So some of us have decided to jump into the murky waters of politics just to try and see if we can bring the needed change to this country. It is very sad that Nigeria is where it is today, even when God has given us everything in this world to make us the greatest nation. How do we know? We are the biggest black population on earth. Do you think God will just create more people in Nigeria than other countries just for the fun of it? opportunities for us all the mineral resources, God gave good planning, very brilliant people. I have been in all the continents, I have been in over 60 countries and there is nowhere I have been that I didn't see Nigerians doing great things. So what is wrong with us? What is the problem? The problem everybody is giving is leadership, but then we have ourselves to blame, especially the youth. The youth occupy about 70 per cent of the total population of Nigeria if not more. 80 per cent of Nigerians don't belong to any political party and they don't vote, so how can you allow the remaining 30 per cent to hold us to ransom. One of my biggest regrets is that I did not realise that politics is important in time, all the churches did not realise that politics was important, even the mosque did not realise that politics was important, so we left politics in the hands of hooligans. Most of the people you find today are selfish people and a lot of them have been in it for 50 years and above, yet they are not satisfied; they are not ready to retire. We keep exhuming dead bodies when we ought to take examples from other nations. I will give you just two examples. In America, we have Obama who became president at the age of 47, now in Great Britain we have both the prime minister, David Cameroun and his deputy, do you think they are foolish? And I give the example of football, every winning side is usually made up of young players. But we bring 50-year-old to play. No matter how strong you are, at a point in your life the law of diminishing return will set in and that is what is happening in Nigeria. So until we fight those old men and get them to quit, we will not achieve any meaningful result. Most of those men were jobless before they came into government, and they will become unemployable. When they leave because they have nothing to offer. Nigeria is the only place where there is a data base of people who have failed in life, businesses, and in their families, yet we call them leaders. So what is leadership? Leadership is the ability to manage men and resources. What have they managed successfully? We can no longer be left in the hands of professional politicians, we must now leave it to the technocrat professionals to help us, and I'm one of them. And we are global players, most of the people you find in government are local champions, none of them knows beyond their immediate environment. You will hear Oyo politicians, Ibadan politicians, Ogun politicians. No, I want to be among an African like Kwame Nkruma, Nelson Mandela etc. So that is why I'm different. I came from an intellectual background in Ile Ife and all my life I have been like a philosopher. What do you think 2011 elections would be like? If Jonathan decides to run, I have no problem with it, but if we beat him in the election he should go. Nigeria is the only place where a political party has declared to rule for 60 years. We should banish the PDP from the surface of the earth. These are parasites that have ruined everything they can. For the past 11years, can you point out what PDP has done consistently? No water, no road, no electricity, no school, no hospital, nothing. I become the president of Nigeria and the commander in chief, you can be sure that I will motivate the youth, soldiers, air force, the navy. Tell me how many warships Nigeria has today, tell me how many air force jets we have in Nigeria? No nation can be protected when you have no security. You must be able to defend yourself against internal and external aggression. Are you on any political platform now? Yes I am. I have always been in the Labour Party. For the fact that I'm not in the PDP does not mean I'm not in any political party in Nigeria. You see, that is part of the problem of Nigeria — this arrogance of power. I don't want to do it the way they do it? No, I'm going to teach them a lesson by using what they don't understand. Does that mean you will be contesting on the platform of Labour Party? I will be contesting, that is the most important thing, but I'm in the Labour Party. Under the Labour Party then? I will be contesting to be the president of Nigeria. I have not got the ticket yet, so it will be stupid and arrogant of me to be definite because there are other people who also want it. So the party under which I will be contesting is not the issue. The issue is that I'm going to mobilise and galvanise those 80 per cent who don't ordinarily come out. That was what happened in the case of Abiola. Those who never voted came out to vote, that was how he won. If he had waited only for party members there is no way he would have won. That was what happened in America, those who never voted came out to vote for Obama, he was not only voted by the democrats. Those who have been voting in Nigeria are not up to 40 million with the entire voters’ register. So where are the other 100 million people? Those are the people we are targeting and we know how to reach them. The politicians cannot reach them because they have done nothing to empower them, inspire them, help them. I know what I'm saying. Taking past elections into cognisance, are you comfortable with the present INEC leadership? I have no problem with Professor Attahiru Jega. He is a man we all know very well; he is a very respectable man and I believe he will do well. However, in Nigeria, once your employers are the federal government or PDP, they can try anything; but it is now for Jega to say no if they try to tamper with his job. What do you think is the recipe for credible elections in 2011? The best thing is to field the best candidates— -candidates who are Nigerian; they should not be candidates who are local champions and ethnic jingoists. Those who think and believe in Nigeria are those we need not the type of people that we have at the moment. We need very good candidates who can set our environment aglow again. You could remember when Chief Abiola was alive, there were so many excitements, and there were so many colours. But when you have colourless candidates, nothing is going to happen. So I can tell you that with what I'm planning, you can be sure that even the blind will see it and the deaf will equally hear it. Why are you coming to contest after the June 12, 1993 elections in which you played an important role? It is very supernatural. 17 years ago our plane was hijacked by Babangida and his men; they tried in various ways to land the plane somewhere else. When a plane is about to take off, it must have its schedule and it must have a flight plan, destination and route. We already had our flight plan, the control power had been alerted, but unfortunately, the man who was supposed to be the captain was seized at gunpoint. That was Chief Abiola and the hijackers tried to land the plane somewhere in Abeokuta because they felt that when they got to Abeokuta they could get another captain, and that was Shonekan. Of course the man suddenly abandoned the plane. The hijackers looked elsewhere, so they headed to the North and went to Kano where they found the man called captain Abacha and he could not see the route very well, he couldn't handle the plane, so somewhere along the line, he had heart attack and died. We were just lucky that the plane did not crash. Another pilot took over and that was Abdulsalami Abubakar and he tried to land in Mina but they goto Minna before realising that there was no airport, so they ran away from Minna and headed to Abeokuta again. When they got to Abeokuta, they found a man who looked confident, and brave, and he said if possible he would land on the street of Owu, but the man was too self confident and at the end of the day, he also had serious troubles with the plane, and at the end of the day he could not land the plan. He had to hurridly and by force hand over to another captain, Umaru Musa Yar' Adua. The man didn't have good health, so how could he fly what healthy men could not fly? And he died because the trouble was too much. In fact, in his own case, he did not hand over to anybody, he just abandoned the plane and died like that. Then we had a man from the riverine area, Goodluck Jonathan. We all know he is a very lucky man, so the problem now is that we don't know whether he will be able to land the plane on the river or on the ring, we can't tell. That is why some of us came. We have seen that most of the people who were brought as pilots and captains have not had that rigorous experience of doing anything worthy of note; they were only lucky to be pushed by one person or the other. But in my own case I have been in the corridors of politics since I was about 22 or 23 years old. I have been moving in the corridors of politics but I have not been in the corridor of power. There is a different between corridor of politics and corridor of power. When you are in power, you see only three things, you see power, you see wealth and you see fame, but when you are in politics you see everything the more and you are able to predict what will happen at the end of the day. What I want to do next year is not just about election, it is a way of reviving June 12. They tried all the tricks for 17 years and they have failed. Nigerians that voted during the 1993 elections are still alive, and I believe they will come out now and revalidate their votes. I was forced into exile, but it is time now to reclaim our mandate by giving power back to the people of Nigeria.
I sent him a text for an Interview with him, he never replied until when i put a call through, his protocol as an presidential aspirant is high and strict to that of a serving president but trust i break even, i spoke to him, his grammar was much but i agree to his tense, in the reception of his mutmillon church at Ikeja we did this..... Reverend Chris Okotie can be called a veteran presidential candidate, as since the nation's return to democracy in 1999, he has always aspired to lead the nation. Against expectations, he is again contesting for the presidency in 2011. But why does the Okotie brand not sell despite his declaration that the Almighty has always been behind his bid? In this interview, the reverend with a knack for controversy, explained to Ayodele Samuel his plight and why the Okotie brand faces challenges politically. He also spoke on his plans for Nigeria. Again, you want to contest in the presidential election come 2011. Why? The tenacity and resilience that have accompanied this action are predicated on the fact that this is a divine mandate. I am a servant of God and I will not be presumptious to arrogate honours to myself that are inconsistent with the responsibilities I have. So I declare cleary that the Fresh Party is a mandate from the Lord, and secondly, I feel a sense of responsibility to my nation. The philosophy is God first, then my country. In 2003 and 2007 you said that God declared you would be president, yet you lost... (Cuts in) It is important that those who listen to people like me must understand that the language of faith is different from the ordinary mundane interaction that men have amongst themselves. When God gives an instruction the time frame is determined by Him. The most important thing is that he who is instructed must obey. Pharaoh was very antagonistic towards Moses for a long while, even though he knew that God sent Moses to set the Israelites free, until God had to demonstrate. Such is the characteristic feature that when God gives an instruction, sometimes it takes a while to manifest. So you are the Moses of Nigeria? Moses is in the Old Testament. We in the New Testament believe in the Messiah, that is our Lord Jesus Christ. So I wouldn't identify with Moses, I will identify with Jesus Christ. So if you ask what my philosophy is, I would say it is Messianic. The Messianic philosophy is sacrificial. Why did you lose elections? First and foremost it's timing. God has timing for the fulfillment of every promise. Secondly, the political irresponsibility of the PDP. As the government in power, they have not been able to organise credible elections and they have denounced the whole concept of democracy by their total disregard for law and order, and that is why we find ourselves in the present quagmire. Is that an indication that your party is afraid of the ruling party? Fresh Party is a small party, and I do not think we can be compared to the PDP. We do not have the strong platform to compete with the PDP. But I do know that the Nigerian people are greater than the PDP, and because we are going to the Nigerian people, we have hope. This time around, Nigerians will demand that their votes must count and things will change. You have not been enjoying the support of Christian organisations in your presidential bid, why? At the beginning, it was a noble idea. Some of my colleagues had not begun to understand the priesthood of Melschedee and how that is relevant in the political set-up. So now we have much more support than when we started. In 2003 and 2007 we had progression, and in 2011, I am sure that the support from Christians will be overwhelming. Again, I think that Christians have not participated fully as they should, and I liken it to ignorance. Once you are anointed in the scripture you can hold a political office, and that is where the Melchsedee priesthood defers from the ironic order. I think it is the right time Christians participated in the process. Secondly, we must make sure that God continues to favour us because God controls every nation through policy and prophecy. Do you believe the new INEC headed by Professor Attahiru Jega can conduct a credible election in 2011? I have never at any time doubted the credibility of Professor Iwu. I said it very clearly that I thought he was probably one of the best chairmen that we ever had. He was very courageous, very forthright and it was not his fault, but things happened the way they did because he was just one man in an organisation. From the revelation we've had so far, we find that actual rigging takes place in the field. Professor Jega has distinguished himself in academics, but on his ability to cope with the political setting, let's await. INEC is under the control of the executive. Again, the manipulation of the resources of INEC by the executive and the other bodies within the government makes it impossible for it to perform. I think that Professor Jega would be incapacitated, not because he does not desire to but the environment is not conducive and the PDP is a master at deception. They are masquerading under their desire to go for electoral reforms. I think they are enjoying every aspect of the political shenanigans. Do you think there will be free and fair elections in 2011? No I do not. Not because INEC is not desirous of doing it, but because the PDP has already destroyed the entire process. What is your take on PDP's zoning arrangement? It's of no consequence, PDP is not Nigeria. Partisan politics at that level has nothing to do with us. If they want to zone, that's up to them, if they don't want to zone, that's up to them, but I know that political parties should have principles at will to suite their desire. The constitution, however, does not say anything about zoning, so it's a PDP affair, and therefore, it is inconsequential. President Goodluck Jonathan has spent about a 100 days in office, how would you assess him? With due regard, I have said that President Goodluck Jonathan is a penultimate phenomenon. He is a gentleman that means well for Nigeria, but I do not think he has the material and requisite understanding of the complexities of a government like what the PDP has put in place. He was part of Yar'Adua's government and therefore, he cannot naturally be different. What I see is a political aphorism which is the characteristics of the PDP. I think Goodluck cannot and may not take Nigeria to the next level. He belongs to a generation that lacks vision for this nation, he is part of a government which purpose and philosophies are conterminous to Nigeria. I just know that in the affair of this nation we need somebody who is not tinted by the PDP. We need somebody who is more visionary, more articulate, who can interface the Nigerian dream with the concept of globalisation and in a millennium where the quest for harmony aids innovation. President Goodluck Jonathan does not have the political identity for that. I just want to say to the Nigerian people that they must remember that there is a God who has helped this nation on six occasions and that Nigeria is all we have. Nigeria is worth fighting and dying for, and in 2011 we will see the courage and tenacity that make us who we are. There will be manifest. I would urge them to look in the direction of Chris Okotie because I believe the answer lies in generational shift.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Pastor Tunbe Bakare is not just the senior Pastor of Latter Rain Church, but also a social critic and Convener Save Nigeria Group, in this interview with LEADERSHIP Lagos correspondent Ayodele Samuel, Pastor B as he is fondly call gave his recipe for a credible election comes 2011 Sir what inspire Sava Nigeria Group? For also 45days Nigeria was headless and voiceless, after Late President took ill and was taken abroad for medical treatment the whole of the nation was waiting for a wayout apart from this we have understanding from series of revelation and which order we must taken , we summoned those we are in relationship with like Members of Afenifere Renewal Group, Members of Arewa, International for constitutional development Centre for we met at and we fixed an appointment for the 7th of January where we brought in civil society , It was in that hall of the 17th of January that the name Save Nigeria Group was given to the movement and we agreed to go to Abuja to protest that quiet contrary to we they thought was the order of the day according to Ogulafor, contrary to what thought was a road show it was a determined effort to bring an end to our headlessness and voicelessness so was what led to SNG and we thank God for the outing and sequence outing in Lagos , back to Abuja and Onikan Stadium now we are focusing on credible, free, fair and peaceful election 2011. Sir, when I Tunde Bakare, I see a man that is not Fulfill with the present suaition in Nigeria No Nigerian should be fulfilled because You are not an island on your own, when its everything is personal comfort, a place to lay my head, food on my table, education for my children whether within or outside the country I can afford it, whether the suffering Nigerian, no Nigerian with right thinking, we’re satisfied with the current situation of our country so you’re right. So when will you be fulfilled When will Nigeria becomes a force to be reckoned in the committee of nations. When the potentials of this nation are tapped maximally for the benefit of the people, when we have good governance, when the things that are strictly in order nations becomes a reality in our land like electricity, security, good health facilities, road network, infrastructure, then I know is a new day when Nigeria can competition vividly not only in the field of sport where we failed with our and worst eleven if in governance we have failed with our worst eleven, the worst of us have being ruining our country under the pretence that they are running it. I will be fulfilled when I see the best fittest, the most complement, men with cerebral capacity handling the affairs of our situation not just wambling through and try to anxigecity when they have a blueprint and following the blue print when we can compete with nations like Japan and we become the tourist centre of the world a nation to respect and reckon with. Sir clear the airwave in the section of the media that SNG is being sponsor by fromer FCT minister Mallam El-Ruffia ? I expect intelligent men to act intelligently, for example as a journalist part of your -responsibilities is investigation because I heard the rumour before not only from our former vice president now president who has never put a penny in my hand in my life or in the hand of anybody known to me. I’ve heard we are asking from OBJ, I’ve heard all kind of things by virtue of his being part of (three) 3G that is Good Governance Group that is El-Rufai, 3G being part of SNG,so many organization, its loose conglomerate, a coalition of different civil society organizations that come together to form SNG. The work everyone does in the corner of his room, each one will give account of it. But nobody will tell you not even El-Rufai himself that he’s sponsoring me, please give us some credit and there must have been some water in coconut even before rain fall. El-Ruffai was not in Nigeria, the game has begun before El-Rufai showed up and but 3G was part of what we are doing. Everyone was levied, many of us put our resource together is not a one man show so you can say someone is sponsoring us. We have records of what we have spent, may be they think if you are among us you have run into billions, that is why they are having what I call vary imagination. Sorry, if I sound may a bit modest, I too big, to be sponsor by any sponsor not at this stage of my life and I don’t know anyone in our group who is cheap not in the steering committee. His their any plan for SNG to transform to a political party? SNG will not transform to a political party we have said it before Alright sir coming to the 11 years of Democracy in Nigeria apparently ruled by PDP, How will you describe this 11years. We thank God they didn’t push us into depressible because they also did, I was reading a new book by the autobiography of Awujale, he has captured the 8years rule of Obasanjo in that book. I will recommend that book for you to read, By now electricity should be on a better by now corruption should have been brought to a stand still and he wasted those 8years chasing shadows and if you add that 8years add it to 3years of Umar sickness and debate and all kind of afflictions on Yar’Adua, you know that we have gone from go slow trend new politics and all kind of leaders, those who have been on the helms of affairs of Nigeria especially of the PDP class, their have power for self and not for service and they have not really give good account of themselves mostly when you think of the resources they have at their disposal, look at conditions of our roads, the only thing they are beating their chest about is GSM, telephone that Nigerians citizen are burning their money to maintain everyday and the networks are bad and then they will claim some peace in the Niger Delta, in the name of amnesty, who should give the other amnesty, were they criminals of war its only criminals of you give amnesty , but the truth of the matter is it is better than military regime and we trust in 2011, a new corps of people who love this country and love this nation who understand good governance and who are accountable and responsible to the people of this nation will begin to emerge all around. Sir, what are your recipes for a credible election come 2011. We have started the rally in Onikan, we will need a credible voters register, we have consider the opinion that Jega we trust will not allow himself to be corrupted, some of the national commissioners should a credible people, when you have a credible voters register and you have credible personnel and that needed will now be citizen that are aware, that are conscious alert with responsibility so we are encouraging them to register in a place where they could vote, they should actually vote and select who they vote for, to make sure there are not selling their vote as we have done in the past, then to protect their vote so we need credible register, credible personnel, enabling environment, enabling legislation in Abuja on 14th of July by God’s grace we will spell it out in black and white, that it free, fair, credible and peaceful election, so that the police does not harass anybody they just stand there to make sure they want to protect them and do not play any partisan role at all. Also the politician themselves need to learn from the blunders of the past, not to create avenue for military adventures to hijack the sovereignty of the people one more time, so their should give out credible voter register, credible personnel running it. On PDP Zoning and Jonathan running, Jonathan is a Nigeria citizen, they have not being in the history of Nigeria, an incumbent president who not want to continue serving provided the law say so, Obasanjo wanted a third term, within the Africa continent perhaps the only person who have stepped down is Nelson Mandela, and he did so because of his age, and because he is a statesman, he came from prison to become president, he spent four year and he though he has done enough, step down and pass his baton, president Jonathan became by circumstances, so he now by God grace, he feel he has something to offer, those who are claiming it’s the turn of North should remember it was the north that chose him as Vice-President so he’s their choice, they should see it as a continuity of Yar’Adua administration, that is one way to look at it but I don’t want us to get stop in a major distraction, zoning is PDP agenda not our constitutional provision, PDP can do what ever they like to do with themselves, we are interested in a credible election, competence people those who are clamouring for zoning now, contested in 1999, Late Rimi, Atiku Abubaker wanted to contested against Obasanjo but their prevail on him not to contest, its their problem its their headache who ever their like, the Nigerians are not going to fold our arms and wait for them to play piporch with the destiny of a 150 million people. What is your view on IBB’s bid to come back. I think we are making him too important too relevant, I don’t want to comment on IBB, he was head of state for years and he didn’t achieve anything other than defrauding Nigeria and nullifying an election every Nigeria and international body called free and fair, he now wants to come back, I don’t think Nigerians will vote for him. Nigerians will not let him come back, I don’t think we should spend our time on him; nobody should take him serious he enjoys seeing his name in the press. Sir his their any plan for SNG to Transform to a political Party SNG will not transform to a political party we’ve said if in many interviews. On television, radio and print medium. SNG is not transforming to a political society organization because if such organization is not in existence what happened during Yar’Adua illness will happened again. And then we will start marching again. We have to continue until total we restore voice to the voiceless, the people realised sovereign and understanding how power works so that people can see that true sovereign lays in their hands and they are responsible for what is they get. If they do what it’s right and sealed the right people Nigeria will not remain in this situation we have find ourselves. So SNG is not transforming to a political parties. However, individuals in NSG, key operatives will be out of different political parties. Many of our members belong to different political parties and they are involved in the parties’ activities. Sir what do you have for the Nigeria youths? Shine your eyes , like one of the musician says, raise up the youth of the nation are the chokes of prosperity of that nation, not days youths in the world the current of civilization would not flow backward , raise up every one from age 18 and above you constituted the biggest, the largest number of voters in Nigeria, let the people raise up and talk to one other use everything at you disposal, internet, MMS, blogs, twitter, facebook, if you can persuade your president through facebook to change his position on FIFA and Nigerian football team, let the youth use it to talk among themselves to say NO to a rogue in government, let stop calling a spade an agricultural instrument, they may not allow you to live broadcast because you may say something that will offend them but nobody can stop the internet from your house to communicate with your friends, its up to you, as you lay your bed so are you going to lie on it, if you are disarverse with what is going on raise up, and demand change because you have the right to do so, power is all about perception, if you don’t say in your mine that anybody has power against you, they can use it, the power you give them is what there are exercising, it’s time the younger generation raise up to take their destiny in their hands because these men will die and go and all their lootings will be abnorad and you continue to suffer, no job, their massive youth unemployment and there are taking to crime for all kinds of things, we can take up the nation now before its too late. How can interested Nigerians Join SNG? Just easy go Online go to www.govenigeriagroup.org it’s a simple process we want to know your antecedent, we want to know that you are really you say are, we don’t want Mike Tyson, Michael Jackson like in the present voters register. What will you do if IBB decided to join SNG? he will not dare because we will accept him, he’s not the type of character that we can have in our midst, he will be an unnecessary burden and nobody will want him, I don’t know and I don’t think anybody in our group wants him
Saturday, February 13, 2010
The Made In Nigeria policy by the federal government in the lingering problems of smuggling and products counterfeiting, poor infrastructure and rising price of industrial inputs, especially Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) and Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO), among others may not deliver Results, LEADERSHIP Ayodele Samuel take a look at some issues facing the manufacturing industry . Recently the Federal Government through the ministry of Commerce and Industry flag off what should be call aggressive campaign for the use of made in Nigeria products by the citizen. As at today noting is made in Nigeria , when most industry has been force to close down by unending failure of the power sector. Power as the soul boaster of any economy has run many industry to close coy, early this year Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) president, Alhaji Bashir Borodo lamented that about 820 manufacturing firm have close down. The sector wish has been blame by local industries has leave the country not to have a “made” for the past few years .manufacturers complain of high cost of investment in self generating energy are letter left out with gas shortage beaming them backward in production. "Despite the potentials of the manufacturing sector as the engine of growth, an antidote of unemployment, a creator of wealth and the threshold for sustainable development, it has suffered severe decline in its contribution to national output. The performance of the sector fell from nearly 13 per cent in the early 1980s to about 4.13 per cent in 2008". MAN said: "it is a matter of concern that between 2000 and 2008 about 820 manufacturing companies have closed down or temporarily suspended production. Indeed, over 600,000 Nigerians are said to have lost their jobs owing to this pitiable plight of the industrial sector, with attendant socio-economic implications. Ordinarily therefore what was expected from government are "desperate measures to tackle a desperate situation, there are no indications of government sensitivity to the negative manifestations in the industrial sector. Also from the period of deregulation to date, industrial consumers have witnessed three price hikes, especially in Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) and Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO). "This was foreseen by us and about 18 months ago we made passionate pleas for the reduction in the price of AGO, and permission to partner with NNPC to import LPFO directly. Promise was given that evaporated promises. MAN had protested these shocking price increases and drew the attention of the government to the imminent dangers of the collapse of industries which depends on AGO and LPFO to power their generators or boilers. MAN reacting to banks' lending profile from 2003 to 2009 obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which indicated that the manufacturing sector received N3.9 trillion during the seven-year period as loans. Comparatively, Communications got N4.974 trillion while Oil and Gas received N6.943 trillion, according to the CBN. "Even the figure given by the CBN as loan to the manufacturing sector was lumped with imports and other things which would really bring down the figure that could be categorized as direct loan to manufacturers", MAN said. "The banks are giving us a pittance. Yet, the CBN claimed that we receive more loans than our contribution to Gross Domestic Product. The truth is, banks consider us as a risk. And the reason is not far-fetched. They can see the poor infrastructure, which hinders our operation. However, our big brothers in the manufacturing sector still get adequate funding from the banks, partly because of their history". Unfortunately, Borodo stated that the Bank of Industry (BoI) which should provide ready support to the industrial sector was not able to do so because of poor capitalisation. According to Borodo: "BOI was promised N50 billion as capitalisation. But, all we were told they received is just N5 billion". Also, the Chairman of MAN's Economic Committee, Mr Clement Olowokande, said the manufacturing sector was not getting enough funding support from banks. Olowokande, who is also the Chairman of Berger Paints Plc, remarked: "We asked the former CBN Governor to give us a breakdown of the manufacturers who got the allocation, which was not provided. And we also said to them that funding assistance to the manufacturing sector should not be based on its contribution to the GDP as is being stressed by the CBN but on need. The sector should be given what is desirable, what is required to survive rather than being based on a given percentage. Secondly, you need to know the amount of local products we are producing in this country. We need funding assistance to satisfy local needs. If not, people will resort to importation and still pay FOREX, to the nation's detriment. The textile industry had also suffer similar lose, before 1997, the Nigerian textile industry was the second largest in Africa after Egypt with over 250 vibrant factories and running above 50 per cent capacity utilization. As at today about 60 out of existing 100 textile firms is shut, Record have it that, International Textile Industry (ITI) closed down its Isolo and Ikorodu factories both in Lagos, with about 800 people out of job, First Spinner Limited, Ikorodu, Lagos, closed down with about 500, Bhojr Textile Industry closed down with about 700 people out of job, Reliance Textile Ikeja, Lagos, closed down with about 500 people out of job. Fahibdayekh and Company Limited in Kano , closed down with more people sent to the labour market; Atlantic Textile Mill in Lagos was finally closed down in 2008 with about 800 people out of job after a partial closure in 2007. In 2007, job loss in the sector was about 10,000 when the largest textile company in the country, the United Textile Mill in Kaduna State closed down with about 5,000 people sent to labour market. Atlantic Textile Mill in Lagos also partially closed down It should be noted that the local textile market has a share of about 20 per cent of Nigerian textile products with the balance of 80 per cent being controlled by assorted imported fabrics. Smugglers move in and out of the country with goods (only comes in with good and leave with cash) these whish pose a great treat to FG made in Nigeria Campaign Custom effort to eradicate smuggling activities which have eaten deep into the economy and also cripple local industries has not been felt, as the market is over taken by smuggled goods. Nigeria imports everything including labour since the university produce half bakes graduates yet the government embarks on Made in Nigeria Policy. The British High commission said there is noting to export from Nigeria apart from crude oil, yet the government dreams of becoming one of the world economic countries in 2020. Nigeria likes other developing countries like China, Brazil, India export en-mass to enrich there economy while the green land spend about 3 billion Us dollars annually on foods importation. Agricultural products which our economy was based on in time past has been neglected, coco, timber, groundnut, palm Oil are no longer exported. The level of decay in infrastructure will jeopardize the proposed made in Nigeria policy. With the poor infrastructure, local manufacturers have the problem of competitiveness. Our product can not compete with international standard due it standard, Nigeria producers dish out best of sub standard to the teaming Nigeria buyers whom patriotic zeal to purchase made in Nigeria detorate their health or send them to early grave. Last week over 40 people were diagnosed of Gastro-enteritis after they were reportedly hit with severe stomach pains from consuming contaminated groundnut oil produce by a local company in Kano But with all this challenges face the manufacturing sector of the country, Minister of Commerce and Industry , Chief Achike Udenwa maintained that Nigeria products are of high quality compared to products from other countries, He called on citizen’s to imbibe the virtues of consumer patriotism to Nigeria made product like the developed nations have done in order to have a strong industrial base.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Why The Jos Crisis Persists Permanent peace may continue to elude Plateau State, the acclaimed 'Home of Peace and Tourism,' for a long time until the issue of Jos North Council, which is seen by the Hausa/Fulani community, maligned as 'settlers by the natives, as theirs, is settled. Before the creation of Jos North Council in 1991 by the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida administration, the local council was an appendage of Bauchi Province, as a vassal local council, with loyalty to the authority running it as feudalism. Even though Plateau is now an independent entity controlling Jos North, because of the said old umbilical cord between the Hausa/Fulani of Jos North and the defunct Bauchi Province that held sway, the Hausa/Fulani still see Jos North as their own. So, the carving out of Jos North from the old Jos by the Babangida regime has not demonstrated any wisdom nor has it helped matters, years after, as the Hausa/Fulani see it as a council created for them and which, they must, therefore, run and no other person. The bad blood between the natives and the Hausa/Fulani in the area started to manifest when during the military regime, one Mato was appointed as the caretaker committee chairman for Jos North Local Council. The natives from the council- the Beroms, Anaguta, Afizere and so on- protested vehemently until the appointment was reversed. Also during the military, a military administrator appointed one Mukhtar Teacher as the chairman of the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), which also met stiff opposition from the natives. When it comes to politics, the Hausa/Fulani are more politically conscious, in terms of mobilising their people to come out to vote for their candidates. To them, any candidate they support must always win, because of their 'numerical strength' and their level of mobilisation. But no matter the odds, they must not win the chairmanship election of Jos North. In the past, they won election into the House of Representatives through the All Nigerian People's Party (ANPP), and that has not changed, with Samaila Mohammed representing Bassa/Jos North Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. They have also been winning the area's slots in the state House of Assembly on the platform of the ANPP. So, why not the chairman of Jos North Local Council? It is assumed by all that whoever wins the chairmanship has indirectly and impliedly won the sole of the entire state, being the commercial nerve centre of the state. The chairman of Jos North can even be equated to the deputy governor of the state, as far as economic resources are concerned. Unarguably, Plateau is a Christian state. The Hausa/Fulani community is a Moslem-dominated area. All these are facts. The Christians have a way of worship, which is peculiar to them, same for the Moslems. The two beliefs are poles apart. So, there might be that apprehension by the natives that to give the Hausa/Fulani the opportunity to rule Jos North might introduce a strange Islamic doctrine unacceptable to them, which maybe inimical to their own religious belief and practice. Also, the Hausa/Fulani see their denial of the seat of the local government as a clear manipulation and design by the state government to keep them out of power. The bad blood has already been generated. The Jos crises of 1994, 2001, 2008 and the recent one of Sunday, January 17 were politically and religiously motivated. If Moslems take any action, religious motive and meaning are read to it, and the same thing for the Christians. So, religion is always used as a weapon to whip up sentiments. Moslems and Christians are suspicious of one another. Moslems believe the government, which must of course be a Christian, will always be on the side of the Christians, even though whoever is governor needs both the Christians and the Moslems to effectively administer the entire state. Successive elected governors of the state have constantly reassured that that the two warring parties both belong to their constituency and that they administer the state's resources without any discrimination based on ethnic, political or religious affiliations. Since the 2001 crisis, during the tenure of Chief Joshua Dariye, attempts had been made to conduct council elections without success, hence the appointment of caretaker committee chairmen, particularly for Jos North, until he wound up in May 2007 and the administration of Jonah David Jang took over. The crisis of November 2008, which was occasioned by the council election, centered on who won the soul of Jos North, the beautiful commercial centre of the state. The conduct of the election was free and fair, but the collation of results was seen by the Hausa/Fulani as not fair and open. For example, they argued that they were asked by the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC) to meet at a named location, only for the electoral body to change the venue without informing their representatives and they had to start combing the whole area before they finally located where PLASIEC hid itself. They saw this as an open design to rig the elections in favour of government's candidate. And when the results were announced by PLASIEC and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won all the 17 seats, hell was let loose. After the crisis, the state government set up a commission of inquiry, headed by Prince Bola Ajibola, to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the crisis, which the Hausa/Fulani boycotted on the grounds that it is the same governor whom they perceived as taking sides that would implement whatever recommendations were made. In addition, they felt cheated during the November 2008 crisis, and ostensibly bottled up their anger. When the January 17 crisis broke out, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Gregory Anyating, while addressing a press conference that day said: "The crisis erupted following attacks by a group of Moslem youths, who stormed a church in Nassarawa Gwom.... The attack by the youths was without any provocation." But the Moslem community said the content of the conference was hasty and an open instigation for reprisal attacks on them by the Christians, claiming they were already seeing the effect of the instigations. Their worry was that the remark by the police commissioner, a highly placed security officer, whom they believed to be the custodian of peace in society, had openly shown his bias against them, particularly when investigation had not been concluded. With all this avalanche of crises occurring from time in the state, the question many ask is: will Plateau ever be ready for permanent peace? The over 1000 displaced people camped at the Nigerian Bible Translation Trust centre near the Air Force Base in Jos told the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau on Wednesday that their main problem was hunger, as they said they had not eaten since they ran there for safety. They appealed to the army chief to come to their rescue by providing them necessary food, water and clothing. The COAS promised to collaborate with the state government to bring relief materials to them and directed General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Division, Maj-Gen. Saleh Maina, to transfer the army medical team there to provide medical services when needed in the refugee camps, while the army engineers should provide water and other sanitary amenities, like toilet. The refugees, who were still very aggressive due to hunger, told reporters that the government and security personnel worsened the crisis. They claimed that the security personnel were just watching the hoodlums killing and maiming people on the pretext that they had not been given the go-ahead to shoot. The refugees also claimed that the crisis started from an argument between two people, but that government was promptly notified and it did not do anything before it escalated. About 100 persons were receiving treatment at the Plateau Specialist Hospital in Jos as a result of the crisis, with several others brought in dead. According to the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital, Dr. Pam Dantong, the injuries sustained by the victims were mostly bullets and matchet wounds. Datong disclosed that one of the challenges facing the hospital at the moment was mostly that of space to take in the number of patients coming in. "In terms of manpower, it is a big challenge, that is why we call them mass casualties. Another thing is that at the hospital, they have almost exhausted our consumables, both in the theatre and the casualty units. As I am talking to you now, we may still need a lot of drugs and blood, but nobody would come out to donate. They have exhausted all our drugs, but all the same, those that are recuperating are recuperating very fast," he stated. Some of the victims narrated their ordeals. "On Sunday morning, we took our car from Bauchi to Keffi and we entered Jos. We came back to Jos around 5pm. We just saw some boys coming to us with cutlasses. So, I started to reverse. But the car switched off. From there, they came and started hitting the car and hitting us. They later burnt the car," one of them recounted. At OLA Hospital, one official of the Red Cross and a passenger, who were also victims, sustained various degrees of injuries. At the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), the picture is almost the same, but the casualties there are more than those at the other hospitals and access to the patients was restricted. At both the police headquarters and the Rukuba Barracks of the 3 Armoured Division of the Nigeria Army, displaced persons continued to stream in on an hourly basis, making it impossible to know the exact number. Women and children, carrying a few belongings, were seen in the open under the prevailing Jos extreme cold. It is on this sad note that stakeholders began to talk. Member representing Shendam, Mikang and Quaan Pan Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, George Daika, assured that the House would get to the root cause to ensure lasting solution. The number of miscreants arrested over the crisis has increased to over 100, according to unconfirmed reports from the police headquarters. Those arrested are from Dutse Uku, Congo Russia and Angwan Shanu, with dangerous weapons, including AK47, locally made pistols, daggers, axes, cutlasses, etc seized from them. Also, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Istifanus Mwansat, had directed all members of the House to reconvene yesterday to discuss the current happenings in the state. Similarly, the Inter-religions Council for Peace and Harmony has unanimously condemned the unrest. The council's co-chairman and Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, who stated this shortly after the council's emergency meeting, expressed dismay over the hasty resort to violence as a means of resolving communal and religious disputes. The council appealed to those using GSM handsets to peddle rumors and trigger panic to desist from their action, appealing to citizens to remain calm, saying government had undertaken to guarantee the safety of lives and property of all its citizens. The council called on the citizens to guard against insightful comments or utterances, calling also on the media to be promoters of peaceful co-existence rather than embark on sentimental or sensational reporting. It assured that both Christian and Moslem leaders would work together to ensure that peace returned to the State. Meanwhile, the State Security Council had met, but no statement was issued at the end of the meeting. The state Commissioner for Information, Gregory Yenlong, called for security reinforcement. As a result of sporadic shootings all over Jos/Bukuru metropolis, Jos remained a ghost city, as the crisis escaladed. IN 2008 the story was The 2008 Jos Crisis has come and gone; leaving in its trail many lessons especially on the idea of national service. With biros or keyboards in remote areas far from where the conflagrations occurred, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was hung with endless tirades by some elites, with many unjustified and unnecessary accusations. While this writer mourns the unwarranted waste of lives and property, it should be observed that many commentators have been unfair on the NYSC, especially in their call for its abrogation. Many commentators forgot that apart from biological parents of the deceased corps members, the NYSC was mourner-in-chief. In Africa, mourners are not usually treated with scorn but with respect and sympathy. But the NYSC was hauled with blames in a matter she did not cause, and for which she was also a hapless victim. All I can do now is pray: May the souls of all those who lost their lives in the crisis - students, corps members, businessmen, children, etc rest in peace. It is helpful to recollect that on November 27 th 2008, a local government election was held in Jos, Plateau State which in the aftermath resulted in a conflagration that saw 400 people allegedly dead and loss of several millions of naira worth of goods and services. On the surface, it appears a political crisis, fuelled by religious antagonism and deep seated ethnic hatred. But as I traversed the city and asked questions, the different dimensions began to emerge to becloud answer to the question; to what extent was the crisis a product of religious, ethnic, and political differences. More questions - Was the eventual exchange of hostility actually between the PDP and ANPP - the two leading political parties in the state? Was it a class war with the poor taking arms against the rich? Clear, however is that there were tinges of religion, ethnicity, economics, and politics in the Jos Crisis. It is also a painful reminder of the pervading extent of poverty and ignorance in the country and troubling depth which religion, ethnicity had sunk. This is a big shame after 48 years of nation building. Apart from being the Director, Corps Welfare and Inspection of NYSC, I led the team dispatched to Jos by the NYSC management soon after the outbreak of the crisis and stayed there until normalcy was restored. I was opportune to observe the different dimensions of the crisis at close-range. Thus, this essay is motivated by three factors namely; to correct certain impressions which seem to me as misleading, to contribute ideas to genuine efforts in finding a lasting solution to such crisis, and to participate in what Femi Orebe calls a "profound debate on the reasonableness or not of the NYSC scheme in the present form" (The Nation 21/12/2002 p.10 & 12). Indeed, this was my prompter, a move to express a personal view which has nothing to do with the position of the NYSC. Contrary to the impression created by some writers, NYSC’s response to the Jos crisis was swift. Immediately the news of the crisis broke, the Director-General directed me to action. A team raised at the Directorate in Abuja to join operations arrived in Jos on 28 th November and the Director-General too, suspended his national tour of orientation camps to join efforts in Jos. Of death, distance, hand of fate, and misdirected anger in the 2008 Jos crisis A careful review of comments showed that the calls for the abrogation of the NYSC had been largely based on language difficulties, distance from home, general insecurity in the country, and the death of corps members in the Jos crisis. These seem to me as illogical product of misplaced anger because these problems are general in nature, affecting everyone alike. While the issues of security, poverty, etc are beyond the powers of the NYSC scheme, most of the writers tended to ignore the human failure as exemplified by the elites and the hands of fate. Of necessity, people would always move from one place to another for economic and political reasons. And it should not be forgotten that but for the crisis, Jos remains one of the beautiful cities in the country with its temperate weather, hills, and shrubs. It is a delight to be there and many youths favour excursion there. And on its own, it will attract visitors and the consideration of death, distance, and poverty will not deter many from visiting Jos. Now, let’s consider one of the weightiest reasons for the call for the abrogation of the NYSC - the death of three corps members during the Jos crisis. There shall not be enough words to console all concerned. But, while we mourn, and pray their souls rest in peace, it should be observed that the abrogation of the NYSC shall serve no useful purpose. It would only worsen the situation by either obliterating the memory of the deceased or denying the society the quality and essential service which the scheme is well-known for today. The harsh reaction is however understandable, because death itself is a painful and irreparable loss. It is generally better to leave the question of death and life to God, rather than anything else, because as Sola Fasure observed, ‘people do die even in their bedrooms’ (The Nation 02-12-08 pg. 2) Against the foregoing, the ‘distance from home’ argument cannot be sustained. For instance, citizens in Ibadan were going with the normal business of life when the Ogunpa river tragedy occurred, killing many residents in the area in the process. Many of those who died were near their homes. Still on the hand of fate; one of the corps members was not serving in Jos per se. He was merely visiting and had packed and left home only to return due warnings from some Hausa chaps that the town was not safe. He returned to the joy of his cousins and aunt, only to be hacked to death a few hours later in secured premises. While fate was cruel to him, it smiled on his cousin - a female who would have been killed along with him, but for forceful separation. The head of the family was equally lucky. The man who had lived in Jos for over thirty years and who always offered accommodation to corps members was not in town on that day of the dastardly attack. If the mission was to kill all men in sight, your guess is as good as mine were he to be home on that fateful day. There is much to thank God for in spite of the ugliness of the Jos crisis, because it could have been worse for us all. The Jos crisis and the call for the abrogation of NYSC: A discussion with critics The contribution of the scheme has been acknowledged. And there is hardly any family without a stake, directly or otherwise in the NYSC. Unlike many writers and commentators, I was in Jos during the period and watched the crisis from close range. Some of the reports were incorrect and capable of misleading. Most of the issues raised - insecurity, death, language difficulty are of general nature not specific to the NYSC. Indeed, they are beyond the control of the scheme. It is painful that we lost our precious children to the Jos crisis, but contrary to some opinions, Nigeria is worth dying for, and in this case, she never abandoned its children in ‘their hour of need’ as has been canvassed by some writers. Indeed, the state rose squarely to the occasion. While we mourn our loved ones, is the abrogation of national service the best response to that ugly event as being suggested in some quarters? It is not, because as Tatalo Alamu observed, ‘nation building is a perpetual work in progress.’ Against the foregoing, I like to discuss with Femi Orebe. According to him, the deployment of youths to serve fatherland is a ‘continuous hemorrhaging of youths on the horns of misrepresented ideal’ (The Nation 21-12-08). To him, the best way of going about it is to allow people serve in their home states or states they graduated from as though such areas are immune from death or other tragedies of life. It is advised that Orebe reads the NYSC Hand Book at least for a better comprehension of the scheme’s objectives in order to make him see why his model would not fit. According to him, while, ‘those from the more developed areas work in poor condition or teach in poorly equipped schools, those from the villages or poor areas arrive in the city for the posh jobs and better life.’ It is needless to say that the ‘we are better than them’ syndrome simply breeds resentment, communication difficulty, and thus intolerance. Orebe’s excuse for all this is that the corps members were in Jos on posting, forgetting that there were other citizens in the area who were affected for no just reason. It is worth recalling that Mary Slessor, a young missionary from Scotland, Europe left the comfort of her land, an obviously more posh part of the world to work in Africa, which was then regarded as the ‘dark continent’, all in the service of humanity. It is noteworthy that her humanitarian work, especially in saving the lives of twins is still celebrated today. In more recent history, many of the America Peace Corps left their posh country for services in various parts of Africa, including Nigeria. They taught us in poorly equipped schools such as the ones detested by Orebe. If others can do it, why not Nigerians? Orebe and others would do well to read Sam Omatseye’s ‘Angel of Mercy’ in The Nation newspaper in order to have a good feel of modern trends in selfless service. It might be said that the element of volunteerism was expressed by Omatseye to make a case for charity does not matter. What matters most is the opportunity to serve mankind, especially those in difficult situation which Orebe seem to loathe. Now, turn to Professor Dapo Kolawole, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ado-Ekiti who as reported advised the government to abrogate the NYSC (The Nation 11-12-08 p. 2). This alarmed me for many reasons. Foremost is the falsehood contained in the report which alleged that ‘33 corps members at the last count had been slaughtered like rams and goats in some parts of the country.’ While the NYSC never lost that large number of its corps members, it remains one of the early misinformation about the crisis. Yet the professor could be excused for he allegedly spoke through a representative - Soyombo Olalekan. Still, the professor’s concern for security is genuine, but it should be provided for everyone, including corps members. A friend forwarded to my telephone the message by Professor Segun Osinowo asking ‘Dear parents join in the campaign for the abrogation of the NYSC’, admonishing them ‘not to wait till their children are wasted’. As one who upholds the African belief that a mourner is free to do anything within reason to express his sense of loss, I understand the position of Professor Osinowo. But the abrogation of the NYSC would not serve the cause for which his nephew and others died for. Thus, we could hear the same girl who escaped death saying, "yes, I would like to serve fatherland, but in a more secured area where no one would just wake up attacking others for no offence at all." According to Ropo Sekoni’s ‘young and promising citizens like Ibikunle Akinjogbin would have been alive if political leaders had given time to revisit a political institution started 35 years ago under a democratic regime’ (The Nation 14 - 12 - 2008 p. 10). Sekoni wrote as though nation building is not a continuous business implying that that it was once good but, now ‘no longer adding value to the country’s culture and has outlived its good.’ He cited other reasons for his position such as insecurity, rigours of the programme, the NYSC as cheap source of labour and the fact that it is not clear ‘if the NYSC can stop the senseless killings in the north due to ethnic and religious intolerance.’ While Sekoni was fair in conceding that the ‘NYSC must have achieved its goals’ the ‘twinning programme’ he advocates seems to be doomed from the beginning, as it suffers from the homeboy syndrome - that of very limited horizon, considered against the vast interest of the country. Perhaps, the criticisms are a reflection of the high esteem in which the NYSC has been held and thus expression of disappointment as a result of dashed hopes and expectation. But, abrogation is not the answer. As Tatalo Alamu, the Snooper observed, ‘despite our pains and agony …we must not throw away the baby with bath water’ (The Nation 14 - 12 - 2008). The Jos crisis is wake-up call to the elites to change their negative attitudes to national issues. The NYSC is not a military force and to this extent, it will never be clear whether it can stem the senseless killings in the north due to political immaturity and intolerance. Nor is it clear if it can stop ritual killings, armed robbery, and lately kidnapping which is fast becoming a nation-wide menace. But, what is clear is that the NYSC can promote understanding and create an environment that would make senseless and ritual killings unattractive and unacceptable. About 70% of corps members are deployed to teach in the national interest and over half of them serve in rural areas. In addition, it is a fact that many schools and even hospitals, especially in the rural areas would have closed shop, but, for the availability of crops services - teachers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists etc. Also, in spite of sporadic incidences like the Jos crisis in parts of the country, the scheme has largely succeeded in whittling down the web of barriers which were responsible for the suspicion which partly bred the Nigerian civil war. And apart from affording many corps members to be retained for permanent employment, the scheme serves as a comfortable bridge to the wider world. Also, many corps members met their spouse during service. Furthermore, through its dance, drama, and sports competition, it contributes to the sustenance of cultures and shared values among Nigerians. We could go on, but, in the face of these overwhelming evidences of both past and present contributions and relevance, how can Ropo honestly claim that the NYSC no longer ‘adds value to the nation’s culture?’ This is not true and some people may not appreciate the magnitude of these achievements. But, knowing where we are coming from, the contributions of the NYSC are remarkable and its achievements worthy of celebration. The NYSC is winning the war against intolerance, poverty, mass illiteracy, and poor knowledge of fatherland using sundry methods. And the country has been better for it. Its abrogation will indeed do more harm than good. Abhuere is the Director, (Corps Welfare and Inspection Department) of the NYSC.
What 1999 Constitution, Section 144 Says 144.–( I) The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office, if– (a) by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of all the members of the executive council of the Federation it is declared that the President or Vice-President is incapable of discharging the functions of his office; and (b) the declaration is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary, by a medical panel established under subsection (4) of this section in its report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. (2) Where the medical panel certifies in the report that in its opinion the President or Vice-President is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind as renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, a notice thereof signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation. (3) The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office as from the date of publication of the notice of the medical report pursuant to subsection (2) of this section. (4) The medical panel to which this section relates shall be appointed by the President of the Senate, and shall comprise five medical practitioners in Nigeria– (a) one of whom shall be the personal physician of the holder of the office concerned; and (b) four other medical practitioners who have, in the opinion of the President of the Senate, attained a high degree of eminence in the field of medicine relative to the nature of the examination to be conducted in accordance with the foregoing provisions. (5) In this section, the reference to "executive council of the Federation" is a reference to the body of Ministers of the Government of the Federation, howsoever called, established by the President and charged with such responsibilities for the functions of government as the President may direct.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Nigeria Is Becoming Irrelevant – Ambassador Lyman Written by By Princeton N. Lyman I have a long connection to Nigeria. Not only was I Ambassador there, I have travelled to and from Nigeria for a number of years and have a deep and abiding vital emotional attachment to the Nigerian people, their magnificence, their courage, artistic brilliance, their irony, sense of humour in the face of challenges etc. And I hope that we keep that in mind when I say some things that I think are counter to what we normally say about Nigeria. And I say that with all due respect to Eric Silla, who is doing a magnificent work at State Department and to our good friend from the legislature, because I have a feeling that we both, Nigerians and Americans, may be doing Nigeria and Nigerians no favour by stressing Nigeria's strategic importance. I know all the arguments: it is a major oil producer, it is the most populous country in Africa, it has made major contributions to Africa in peacekeeping, and of course, negatively, if Nigeria were to fall apart the ripple effects would be tremendous. But I wonder if all this emphasis on Nigeria's importance creates a tendency to inflate Nigeria's opinion of its own invulnerability. Among much of the elite today, I have the feeling that there is a belief that Nigeria is too big to fail, too important to be ignored, and that Nigerians can go on ignoring some of the most fundamental challenges they have - many of which we have talked about: disgraceful lack of infrastructure, the growing problems of unemployment, the failure to deal with the underlying problems in the Niger-Delta, the failure to consolidate democracy - and somehow will remain important to everybody because of all those reasons that are strategically important. I am not sure that that is helpful. Let me sort of deconstruct those elements of Nigeria's importance, and ask whether they are as relevant as they have been. We often hear that one in five Africans is a Nigerian. What does it mean? Do we ever say one in five Asians is a Chinese? Chinese power comes not just for the fact that it has a lot of people but it has harnessed the entrepreneurial talent and economic capacity and all the other talents of China to make her a major economic force and political force. Yes, Nigeria is a major oil producer, but Brazil is now launching a 10-year programme that is going to make it one of the major oil producers in the world. And every other country in Africa is now beginning to produce oil. Angola is rivalling Nigeria in oil production, and the United States has just discovered a huge gas reserve which is going to replace some of our dependence on imported energy. And what about its influence, its contributions to the continent? As our representative from the parliament talked about, there is a great history of those contributions. But that is history. Is Nigeria really playing a major role today in the crisis in Niger on its border, or in Guinea, or in Darfur, or after many, many promises making any contributions to Somalia? The answer is no. Nigeria is today NOT making a major impact, on its region, or on the African Union or on the big problems of Africa that it was making before. Now, of course, on the negative side, the collapse of Nigeria would be enormous, but is that a point to make Nigeria strategically important? Years ago, I worked for an Assistant Secretary of State who had the longest tenure in that job in the 1980s and I remember in one meeting a minister from a country not very friendly to the United States came in and was berating the Assistant Secretary on all the evils of the United States and all its dire plots in Africa and was going on and on, and finally the Assistant Secretary cut him off and said: "You know, the biggest danger for your relationship with the United States is not our opposition, but that we will find you irrelevant." The point is that Nigeria can become much less relevant to the United States. We have already seen evidence of it. When President Obama went to Ghana and not to Nigeria, he was sending a message, that Ghana symbolised more of the significant trends, issues and importance that one wants to put on Africa than Nigeria. So the handwriting may already be on the wall, and that is a sad commentary. Because what it means is that Nigeria's most important strategic importance in the end could be that it has failed. And that is a sad, sad conclusion. It does not have to happen, but I think that we ought to stop talking about what a great country it is, and how terribly important it is to us and talk about what it would take for Nigeria to be that important and great. And that takes an enormous amount of commitment. And you don't need saints; you don't need leaders like Nelson Mandela in every state, because you are not going to get them. I served in South Korea in the middle of the 1960s and it was time when South Korea was poor and considered hopeless, but it was becoming to turn around, later, to become to every person's amazement then the eleventh largest economy in the world. And I remember the economist in my mission saying, it did not bother him that the leading elites in the government of South Korea were taking 15 - 20 percent off the top of every project, as long as every project was a good one, and that was the difference. The leadership at the time was determined to solve the fundamental economic issues of South Korea economy and turn its economy around. It has not happened in Nigeria today. You don't need saints. It needs leaders who say "You know we could be becoming irrelevant, and we (have) got to do something about it." •Lyman, former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa, presented this paper at the Achebe Colloquium held December 11, 2009, at Brown University, USA.