Friday, December 23, 2011
From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos Labour and civil society yesterday used the Town Hall meeting organised by the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) in Lagos to reiterate their stiff resistance to the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products by the Federal Government. Their position was sequel to a debate which with delegates from the Federal Government led by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, including the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Austen Oniwon and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. The bigwigs in government canvassed reasons why subsidy should be removed with opposition to it coming from labour leaders, members of the civil society and prominent human rights lawyers, including Femi Falana, Olisa Agbakoba and others. The Vice-president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Issa Aremu said while the labour body was entirely not opposed to the planned deregulation, it has strong fears that the aftermath of the removal of subsidy would be immediate catastrophy for the nation. “Nigerians will resist any attempt to pay higher prices for imported petroleum products,” Aremu vowed, adding that the government should move from subsidising import to subsidising local production of petroleum. Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana urged the Federal Government to listen to “alternative suggestions” and allow for more time to engage Nigerians before going ahead with the plan to remove fuel subsidy. He said that the fuel cabal had a field day because the government had refused to implement all the necessary laws that would have prevented them from ripping off Nigeria. “Don’t impose further punishment on Nigerians. They cannot afford to pay for the corruption and inefficiency of government,” he said. “20 licenses were given to build new refineries by former President Obasanjo but nobody made use of the advantage since the licenses were given to same people importing the petroleum products. Obasanjo increased fuel prices six times in eight years yet nothing changed; government should listen to alternative suggestions,” he said. To lawyer and activist, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), though there is nothing “conceptually wrong” with the promise of competition and free market that fuel subsidy removal will bring, government has to sacrifice more before going ahead with the policy. “We are not giving subsidy removal a bad name; if you want to put a burden on us, show us the one you (government) are carrying,” Agbakoba said. In defence of zero subsidy however, Okonjo-Iweala, in her presentation, said fuel subsidy removal was long overdue to allow for better regulation of the oil sector and for transparency. According to the minister, government could no longer sustain the subsidy which she said gulped about N1.3 trillion in 2011 alone amounting to over 30 percent of total government expenditure. Letting markets determine the pump price of petrol in Nigeria would push it up to N120 ($0.74) per litre, she said, from N65, but it would save over N1 trillion ($6.13 billion) in subsidies in 2012. “The subsidy is not benefiting Nigerians, but few people that have found themselves in the oil industry.” What the federal government is trying to do is to use the money (subsidy) for the benefit of the poor citizens in the society. “What we should argue about is the issue of lack of trust between Nigerians and the government,” she said. Okonjo-Iweala admitted that there were some “untoward things” going on in the management of the oil sector, but said continuing with subsidy payment would be unwise. However, the Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, appeared non- definite on the matter. His words: “those in government are to promote a policy that is meant for all Nigerians, We (Government official) don’t have power. Infrastructure, Agricultural sector is poor, and there is no job, if the price of petroleum increases today, it will be 100 percent increase of consumable goods, we want to remove one trillion naira to whom? But in another breath, Sanusi drew applause when he said Nigeria spent $16 billion of its foreign exchange on costly imported fuel in the first 11 months to this year - $8 billion sold by the bank to petroleum importers and a further $8 billion spent by the Treasury on the subsidy itself. “Removing the fuel subsidy is not some magic silver bullet that can solve all the problems of Nigeria ... but the burden is unsustainable on the government’s finances,” he said. “We can keep paying the subsidy into 2015, but the next government will be saddled with the debt,” he said. He acknowledged the move was likely to prove unpopular, but asked: “Is it our responsibility to pursue the popular policy or the policy that is right for Nigeria.” The Petroleum Resources Minister, Alison-Madueke explained that to lessen the impact of subsidy removal, government is working to make the country’s refineries function at 90 percent capacity utilization in 24 months time. “The government has good policies on ground to build refineries and repair the existing ones,” she said, adding that plans are in the offing to upgrade major highways across the country to lessen the pain that may accompany the planned removal. Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state in his contribution, said he was not against subsidy removal in principle, but against realistic measures not being taken ahead to serve as a buffer for Nigerians. “Whatever the NLC decides is my stand because I will always be for labour. The question is not fuel subsidy, but if we must subsidise, what must we subsidise?, he asked. President Jonathan should be commended. It is on record that the last time when Petroleum price was increased it was during Obasanjo regime, Jonathan has never increased the pump price instead Late Yar’Adua reduced it to 65 naira, but the situation which the president brought is far more complicated than those before him. However, we have the right to insist on subsidy removal or to say no for government either executive or legislature to benefit from the removed subsidy.” “The price of transport could double ... The poor man cannot afford that,” said Ben Bruce, CEO of popular Nigerian television station Silverbird. “(If you) remove the subsidy, this is what you have to do: subsidise transport for the poor folks trying to go to work.” ($1 = 163.2500 naira) The roll call of dignitaries who graced the occasion is not limited to Chairman of Dangote Group Alhaji Aliko Dangote; chairman Silverbird Group Ben Murray Bruce; Zenon Oil boss Mr. Femi Otedola ; Veteran Broadcaster and owner of Channels Television John Momoh , TELL magazine Nosa Igiebor ; Vanguard’s publisher, Sam Amuka-Pemu; Ray Ekpu, formerly of Newswatch, former Ogun State governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba and former NPAN president, Isa Funtua.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Under the Nigeria Constitution, illegal possession of fire arms is liable to 2 years imprisonment, but in Delta state, officers of the Nigeria police force might have killed the governorship candidate of the Citizens Peoples Party (CPP) during 2007 and 2011 gubernatorial elections. Chief Ogbe Onokpite for this offence, AYODELE SAMUEL writes. The news of the killing of Chief Honourable Ogbe Onokpite, who was the candidate of the Citizens Peoples Party (CPP) in the Delta state 2007 and 2011 gubernatorial elections, has continued to spark up protest in many quarters. Onokpite, a Canada based Nigerian who had recently returned home to actively participate in politics of the state was, on the 26th of April 2011, following the April governorship election in Delta state, arrested at the INEC office after he challenged the manipulation of results that were being collated at the centre. He was imprisoned at the Nigeria Prison Okere, Warri, on what many politicians described as trumped-up charges of murder. He spent over two months in the prison without charge and was later freed, after which he met his untimely death at Orhuwovru in Udu Local Government Area of the state. The conflicting stories leading to the circumstances surrounding what political watchers in the state describe as an extra-judicial 'summary execution' have continued to cause tension in the state. The Commissioner of Police, Delta state Command, Mr. Ibrahim Tsafe, when confirming the killing of Onokpite told newsmen that his death took place on Saturday at Beeland Hotel, Orhuwhorun Road. He said he is not aware that Onokpite was a candidate of any political party but that two of Onokpite's boys who were arrested with two AK-47 rifles escorted the police to the hotel where the deceased was killed in an attempt to escape. According to him, at about 2pm, undercover operatives at Beeland Hotel, Orhuwhorun Road, Udu Local Government Area intercepted a Honda car vehicle with registration number AM 528JRT driven by one Malik Okorokporo, 33years. He said that when the driver of the vehicle was flagged down by police patrol men at Udu/Orhuwhorun road and a search conducted, "we recovered two AK47 riffles with No. 20613 and 13702, with over 60 rounds of live ammunition." Tsafe said that the suspect confessed that the riffles were to be delivered to one Collins Egbara, Chairman of Agaga Community, now at large allegedly on the instance of the deceased. "The suspect took the patrol team to Beeland Hotel to apprehend his principal (Onokpite) who attempted to take to flight on sighting the police, but was maimed. The principal gave up the ghost on the way to the hospital". The Commissioner of Police also said that Onokpite's killing was just a criminal case and not politically motivated. "I don't know his political lineage. I don't have his political history. I see him as person who actually was having criminal tendencies and all that we have on him showed that he was a criminal. Another police report says that they had intelligence that Chief Ogbe was in the process of purchasing arms. In an interview, the Commissioner of Police, Delta State Command, Mr. Ibrahim Tsafe, said that Chief Ogbe and 'accomplices were ambushed by the police detectives who were deployed in the hotel from the Area Command of the Nigeria Police Force, Warri," and that he "was negotiating for arms in the hotel." Mr. Tsafe further said that Chief Ogbe was coming down from the hotel, when "we asked him to surrender but he declined to surrender, instead he confronted the police in company with his men." In this account of the police, a gun battle ensued in which Chief Onokpite received fatal injuries, saying, "he died before help could get to him in the hospital." But eyewitnesses account said "Chief Ogbe was actually shot in his hotel room, unarmed. Chief Ogbe had been staying at Beeland Hotel, on Oruwhorun Road, which is owned by a popular PDP chieftain, Chief Ben Egbetamah in Udu local government area of Delta state." Another witness said, "Chief Ogbe was arrested and shot, then taken alive by the police, in whose custody he then bled to death." Reacting to the news, Members of the Liberate Delta People's Movement said, "we overwhelmingly see the killing as politically-motivated, particularly as the state is preparing for local elections." They have called on the Federal Government and International agencies to look into the matter. The group's spokesman, Mr. Cadre Drake, said "We do not want to see the return of these kinds of killings to our state. This is somebody who was in prison and freed only recently. If what is reported is true, that he was arrested, then we do not expect the police to take the law into their own hands. There must be full transparency in examining this incidence; and the Delta state police can no longer be in charge of the investigations. It is true that Uduaghan's administration has been issuing threats against the opposition in the state and against citizens who are calling for accountability and the restoration of the people's mandate. This is completely unacceptable." Also a Lagos lawyer Festus Keyamo, said the former governorship candidate was assassinated and accused the police of extra judicial killing. Keyamo said he was going to petition the Police authorities for a full coroner inquest into the killing. Also, elder brother of the deceased, Chief Victor Onokpite, who reacted on behalf of the Onokpite family of Uvwie, said their brother was not a gun-runner or armed robber, and blamed his killing by the police on politics. Reacting on behalf of the state government, the Delta state commissioner for information, Barr. Chike Ogeah, who said the killing was not politically motivated, noted that the incident was very unfortunate and that the police should be allowed to finish their investigations on the matter. While saying that the state does not want any form of extra-judicial killing, the commissioner said it is the duty of the Nigeria Police Force to come out and explain what really happened. At the meantime, many in Delta state are questioning the various accounts of the events by the police. Among the questions being raised are: the source of the police 'intelligence'; whether or not a gun battle actually took place; where was his "boys" arrested and whether the event was planned. Chief Ogbe Onokpite's political associates and family are still waiting for police in Delta state to provide answers.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his hitherto close ally, former Military President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida share so many things in common. But recent development indicates that, beyond the surface, the two elder-statesmen may have been merely tolerating one another. Both leaders recently threw decency overboard and engaged each other openly in a verbal war. Lawrence Olaoye, Abuja and Ayodele Samuel, Lagos, examine the build-up to the tirades of the Titans. Until recently, the duo of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Military President Ibrahim Babangida could be referred to as political allies who, at all times, close their ranks in times of political turbulence in the country. This they have done on several occasions with the spirit of espirit de corps, both having attained the greatest height in their military career. Both have at one time or the other served the country at the highest levels in 'khaki' as Heads of State with Obasanjo capping his own with eight unbroken years as the civilian President of the country between 1999 and 2007. It was generally believed that IBB was one of the potent forces that ensured the emergence of the incarcerated Chief Obasanjo as the President of the country in 1999. It was equally speculated that the Mina born General helped his former boss to clinch the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)'s ticket to contest for the second term in 2003 when opposition rose against his emergence in the party. With their records of service at the highest levels in the country and the groundswell contributions of both elder-statesmen to national development, not a few Nigerians were taken aback when they took themselves to the cleaners on the pages of newspapers over, what some other people would regard as, frivolities. While one may excuse them for expressing their feelings over state of the nation and pardon them for having the guts to publicly reflect on their years of service to the nation, the two old men would not be spared the tongue on their decisions to wash their dirty linen in the open by castigating themselves in the market place. Babangida, it was who took the fight to Obasanjo when, in his Hilltop palace in Minna, he attempted to compare the success of his administration to that of his former boss, Obasanjo. He had said at his recent 70th birthday that "I managed poverty to achieve the result while some people manage affluence to achieve their "result". Commenting on the eight year democratic rule of the former civilian President, especially on his $16billion expenditure on power without commensurable results, IBB said "My comment is if I had $16 billion I would have used it to acquire nuclear energy for the country. It was a hell of money wasted. No foresight, no imagination and this is because everybody wanted to build something new as so-called legacy". The former Military President said if there was ever anything that he regretted during his eight years in power it was that crude oil price was $10 per barrel, pointing out that "I wish I was there when it was $120 per barrel, you would have seen wonders". Obasanjo, who will never allow anyone to rubbish him without fighting back, replied almost immediately, through the same medium, by labelling his erstwhile political ally 'a fool at 70'. Drawing inspiration for the inglorious battle from the Bible, Obasanjo said IBB failed to initiate any power project throughout his eight year administration. He said he could not believe that Babangida actually uttered those words until he read the reports in virtually all the newspapers. "I also read where he said in his time, he gave the dividends of democracy and at the same time he regretted. When I read that, well I said Babangida should be pitied and shown sympathy rather than anger or condemnation because the old saying says a fool at 40 is a fool forever and I would say a regret at 70 is a regret too late. Well a regret at 70 is a regret to the grave," Obasanjo said of Babangida. Defending his administration, Obasanjo said some of the issues raised by Babangida "were unfortunately not well thought-out. For instance, he talked about our energy. When I was the military head of state, I built Jebba dam; built Shiroro dam, I prepared the foundation of Egbin plant which President Shagari completed and commissioned. That time the money we were making was not up to the money Babangida was making annually for his eight years and yet we built two dams," Obasanjo said, adding "because it was important, you know that power is the driving force for development and for any developing country. But since the building of Egbin power plant, until I came back in 1999 there was not any generating plant for almost 20 years and Babangida spent eight years out of that. Now, he has the audacity to talk about anybody; I think that is unfortunate. "I started five of what they called Independent Power Stations which were stopped for two and a half years. Now that the present administration has started building a new power project at Uyo," the former President stated. Reacting to the open outburst of the two leaders, political commentators condemned their utterances even as they branded the two retired Army Generals as failures. They described Babangida as a kettle calling Obasanjo black just as they insisted that they are all of the same stock. Presidential spokesman, Dr Rueben Abati said, there was nothing to comment on as “it is their fight”. ACF Publicity Secretaty, Anthony N. Z. Sani said that although it was unstatesman-like of the two leaders to wash their dirty linen in public, it was all the same as well if it make “our current leaders avoid past pitfalls by improving the quality and volume of governance for common good.” A constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay said "The two of them are colossal failure; they are twin brothers as far as governance is concerned. They are not better than each other." Human rights activist and Lagos based lawyer, Bamidele Aturu said both Obasanjo and IBB were in the same boat as military leaders. "Both of them failed even when they had the opportunity to have transformed this nation. IBB made corruption permanent. We must thank IBB for saying the truth. It takes a failure to accuse a failure," he said. To Chief Olu Falae, Obasanjo's civilian administration was a disaster as he could not manage the various organs of government that could make his administration a success. He said he would prefer IBB to Obasanjo because IBB during his time was cool headed unlike Obasanjo who ruled with iron fist even as a civilian president. Yoruba leader, Ayo Opadokun said the tenures of Obasanjo and IBB were complete disasters that impacted negatively on the lives of Nigerians. He accused Obasanjo of plunging the nation into extreme debt, adding that IBB's regime was completely dictatorial and militant in nature. Opadokun lamented that Obasanjo performed very poorly while in office but noted that his regime gave room for people to air their views. Also reacting, Mr. Yinka Odumakin described the tenures of IBB and Obasanjo as disasters. He said there was nothing good about the two administrations as they had negative impact all through. But, political watchers are of the opinion that the vituperations of both leaders who are supposed to have buried their differences by virtue of their age and positions in the country may signal constitute a security risk to the nation if not well managed. Ayo Yusuf, an Abuja based political commentator said "This is shameful. This is the height of irresponsibility from those who are supposed to be role models. They have the right to disagree but they must be aware that any negative comment from either of them has the capacity to compromise the nation's security." Responding to the unhealthy development, Senate President, Senator David Mark, has appealed to both leaders to sheath their swords in the interest of the nation. Mark in a statement issued on his behalf by his Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Kola Ologbodiyan, urged the former Presidents who are elder-statesmen to restrain from making further inflammatory remarks capable of destroying all the efforts they have sunk into building the nation. He said "As statesmen, you cannot afford to resolve your differences on the pages of newspapers. You have contributed immensely to the growth and development of this nation. Your responsibility is to advise those coming after you on the challenges confronting our nation today and in the future." He equally cautioned the followers of these eminent Nigerians not to expand the horizon of this disagreement, adding that "we should continue to pray for peaceful co-existence among all.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Pastor Paul Adefarasin as self-acclaimed billionaire By Mfonobong Nsehe (BBC WRITER) Two weeks ago, I posted a story about the five richest Nigerian pastors . The piece has since attracted considerable attention in Nigerian and foreign media, for reasons not entirely clear to me. Still, I thought it was just about over until I received word from several friends on Sunday that one of Nigeria's most erudite pastors, Paul Adefarasin, was mildly upset that he didn't make my little list and that he took his grievance to the church. Pastor Adefarasin is the founder and lead pastor of the House on the Rock Church, a thriving Pentecostal outfit that emphasizes financial prosperity almost as if it were a requisite for salvation. He is one of Nigeria's most elegant men, famed for his bespoke Italian-cut suits, flashy automobiles, shiny head and his deep baritone enmeshed in a delightful American accent. Pastor Adefarasin is "rich", and he set out to prove his point to his church members at the 5-Star Eko Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos where he held this Sunday's service. "I am a billionaire and there is nothing anybody can do about it," he boasted. "I have coached many billionaires and you know, the pastor of billionaires is a billionaire." "The preacher of a billionaire can only be a billionaire because a monkey cannot give birth to a goat and a goat cannot follow a baboon." "I am a preacher. I am a motivational speaker. I am a TV personality. I am a life coach. You can criticize me or slander me in the pages of newspapers but the blessings are in me and there is nothing anyone can do about it," he bragged. As a 'billionaire', he went ahead to give tips to his vast congregation who apparently are all dreaming of becoming billionaires. "To become a billionaire, Christians must simply imagine it, ask and realize that money, blessing and favour are already in them. All they need is to 'work out' what 'God has already worked in.' " "Some of you do not see that you are already billionaires but there is a difference between to create and to unveil. God will simply unveil your billions to you as he did to me," he said to his multi-thousand congregation. I haven't yet confirmed Pastor Adefarasin's billions, but I'm certain his 'billions' are in Heaven currency, which unfortunately, is not legal tender here on Earth. Still, he has plenty of real-life money. While he didn't make my recent list of top five wealthiest pastors, I reckon he's worth at least $1 million. Pastor Adefarasin is one of Nigeria's most respected preachers, and a renowned Televangelist. His church, the House on the Rock has grown phenomenally over the years, and is the preferred worship center for some of Nigeria's most successful people. Former Nigerian billionaire, Femi Otedola apparently worships at the church occasionally, along with several successful middle-class professionals and corporate executives. (Imagine all those beautiful offerings and Tithes!) But Pastor Adefarasin is also a change maker. He is the founder of the Rock Foundation, a Christian charity that services and tries to rehabilitate prostitutes, social miscreants, ex convicts and drug addicts.
Friday, June 24, 2011
“Young Nigerians must continue to engage government,” the US Consul-General, Joseph D. Stafford, has said. This was part of his Keynote Remarks at the consulate’s New Tools, New Government town hall meeting with young leaders and icons held at the US Consulate’s Public Affairs Section office in Lagos. The event was presented by leading development firm, The Future Project. “I was very impressed at the active participation of the Nigerian youth during the 2011 elections,” he said. “Now that the elections are over, it would be productive to see continuous social media engagements. The United States government hails the conduct of the process with young civil engagement organizations, and the activities of frontline organizations like The Future Project.” The focus was on election and post-election engagement for young Nigerians to work and build a strong democratic society and drive a true government of and by the people. The meeting covered using Social and New Media to address governance issues and encourage youth to be active citizens, and how various organizations, projects and activities engaged pre-elections, during the elections and post-elections, the impact made and future plans - long and short term. Presentations were made by EnoughisEnough Nigeria on its RSVP campaign and the ReVoDa mobile election application, 234NEXT.com on its Ushahidi Platform, and the Community Development Foundation on its ReclaimNaija incident reporting website and an overview of election activities by Kayode Nubi, who is Communication Officer with The Future Project. There was also a practical session on how to use the internet to monitor government officials by Samuel Eyitayo, who is Information Resource Director of the Public Affairs Section. Guests at the event included representatives of LEAP Africa, the Kudirat initiative for Democracy, Smoke Free Foundation, Access Cool Peer Monitoring Project, Tosin Jegde Foundation, amongst others. Also attending was ace comedian Ali Baba, OC Ukeje, Mosunmola Umoru, publisher Familusi Akin Babajide, Tosyn Bucknor, Abiola Aloba, amongst others. There was also a performance by GT da Guitarman and the event was hosted by TV presenter and events compere, Shade Ladipo. “Social and new media is only a tool and should not be relied upon solely,” said Chuks Ojidoh who made the presentation for ReclaimNaija. “It must be linked with the tradition – or old – media that there must be synergy between the two. More than that, everyone in Nigeria should have a sense of responsibility so that we will all be involved in Nigeria’s governance.” Added Tina Onufer, who is Public Affairs Officer, "Informed citizens must disseminate information to the larger population responsibly." The event was managed by Red Media, a leading media and marketing communication firm based in Lagos, and owner of Y! (www.ynaija.com) – a range of media brands on television, radio, print and online. "This event was very instructive for me and very successful," said Bene Uche, who is Senior Cltural Officer with the PAS and who officially kicked off the event. "More importantly though, there is need for continuity and implementing what was discussed here today." “We are excited by the fact that this conversation has begun,” said Adebola Williams, who is co-founder of Red Media, and who anchored the event’s interactive session which also featured the Consulate’s Tina Onufer. “Young Nigerians played a key role in the last elections, using the innovative social tools that the New and Digital Media provide, and it is important that we define a pathway from there to the future. Nigeria has no choice but to change for good.”
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Italian firm to build N10bn medical centre in Edo Monday, 20 June 2011 22:48 administrator E-mail Print PDF From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos An Italian consortium, Folaris Group has partner a presidential aspirant in the 2011 general election, Francis Onabis to build a 500 million euro ultra modern medical centre in Uromi, Edo state. The Preliminary agreement was signed by Francis Onabis project and the construction firms in Rome on Saturday the 18th of June 2011. Onabis in a statement said "the medical centre is to be the first of its kind in the sub-sahara Africa and will compete with any international medical facility in the world." He said the goal of the project is to create a center of excellence for national health care that soon will become the entire national health project. Onabis who Lamented the decaying health sector in the country said "the structure when completed is to accommodate over 700 patients and will be able to deal with any health problems without requiring the use of extral- national structures with enormous cost and time." He said the facility which will be constructed on approximately 230,000 sq. meters of Land in Uromi community when completed will be self sufficient in terms of energy requirements as it should also be with zero impact on the environment. Onabis a Nigeria born Italy based businessman came to national lime light when he declared his intention to run for the office of the president in the 2011 general election.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
18 years after the death of late business mogul and winner of the Jun12 1993 presidential election MKO Abiola,AYODELE SAMUEL date back his life and time Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola and often referred to as M. K. O. Abiola was born in August 24, 1937. Chief Abiola was a popular businessman, publisher and politician. He was born in his native Egba town, Abeokuta the Ogun state capital at the south-western part of Nigeria. Chief Moshood Abiola was his father's twenty-third child but the first of his father's children to survive infancy, hence the name 'Kashimawo' which means "Let us wait and see". It was not until he was 15 years old that he was properly named Moshood, by his parents. Chief Abiola at the tender age of nine he started his first business selling firewood. He would wake up at dawn to go to the forest and gather firewood, which he would then cart back to town and sell before going to school, in order to support his old father and his siblings. He later founded a band at age fifteen where he would perform at various ceremonies in exchange of food. He eventually became famous enough to start demanding payment for his performances and used the money to support his family and his secondary education at the Baptist Boys High School Abeokuta, where he excelled. He was the Editor of the school magazine The Trumpeter and former President Olusegun Obasanjo was Deputy Editor. At the age of 19, he joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons ostensibly because of its Pan-African agenda. In 1956 Chief Abiola started his professional career as Bank Clerk with the then Barclays Bank plc in Ibadan, Oyo state, south-west Nigeria. After two years he joined the Western Region Finance Corporation [WRFC] as an Executive Accounts Officer before leaving for Glasgow, Scotland to pursue his higher education. He received 1st class in Political Economy, Commercial Law and Management Accountancy in Glasgow. He also received a distinction from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. On his return to Nigeria he worked as a Senior Accountant at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital and then went onto Pfizer, before joining the ITT Corporation, where he later rose to the position of Vice President, Africa and Middle-East of the corporation which has its headquarters in the United States. He founded: Abiola Farms, Abiola bookshops, Radio Communications Nigeria, Wonder Bakeries, Concord Press, Concord Airlines, Summit Oil International Limited, Africa Ocean Lines, Habib Bank, Decca W.A. Limited, and Abiola Football Club also known as Abiola Babes. In addition to this he also managed to perform his duties as Chairman of the G15 Business Council, President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Patron of the Kwame Nkrumah Foundation, Patron of the WEB Du Bois Foundation, trustee of the Martin Luther King Foundation and Director of the International Press Institute. From 1972 until his death Moshood Abiola had been conferred with 197 traditional titles by 68 different communities in Nigeria, in response to the fact that his financial assistance resulted in the construction of 63 secondary schools, 121 mosques and churches, 41 libraries, 21 water projects in 24 states of Nigeria, and was grand patron to 149 societies or associations in Nigeria. In this way Abiola reached out and won admiration across the multifarious ethnic and religious divides in Nigeria. In addition to his work in Nigeria, Moshood Abiola was a dedicated supporter of the Southern African Liberation movements from the 1970s and he sponsored the campaign to win reparations for slavery and colonialism in Africa and the diaspora. Chief Abiola, personally rallied every African head of state, and every head of state in the black diaspora to ensure that Africans would speak with one voice on the issues Abiola's involvement in politics started early on in life when he joined the NCNC at age 19. In the 1980s, he was elected as the Chairman of the ruling National Party of Nigeria [NPN]. After an aborted initial primary, Chief Abiola stood for the Presidential nomination of the Social Democratic Party [SDP] and beat Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to secure the presidential nomination of the SDP ahead of the June 12th 1993 Presidential elections. Unfortunately no Wednesday, June 23, 1993 General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the election without allowing the Professor Humphrey Nwosu-led National Electoral Commission [NEC] to release the rest of the results which was supposed to usher the country into democratic rule never saw the light of day. The June 12 Presidential election was believed to have been in favour of the Presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party [SDP], late Chief M.K.O Abiola. He overwhelmingly defeated his rival, Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention [NRC] in an election that was declared to be the country's freest and fairest election by national and international observers, with Abiola even winning in his Northern opponent home state and over two-thirds of Nigerian states. The June 12 1993 presidential election was signalized. It remains a historical watershed in Nigeria polity. For the very first time, Nigerians voted massively in a threat-free atmosphere, not only choosing a Southerner, but also endorsing a Muslim-Muslim ticket. This in itself was proof of the reach and penetration of the Abiola personality. Prior to the elections, Nigeria was in the grasps of iron-cast dictatorship. Through mind-blowing prevarication, and foot-dragging we finally arrived at an election that must remain a national standpoint. In 1994 Chief Moshood Abiola declared himself the lawful President of Nigeria in the Epetedo area of Lagos Island, an area mainly populated by impoverished Nigerians. He had recently returned from a trip to win the support of the international community for his mandate. After declaring himself President he was declared wanted, accused of treason and arrested on the orders of the Military Head of State, General Sani Abacha. He was detained for four years, largely in solitary confinement and during that time, the late Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and human rights activists from all over the world lobbied the Military ruler General Abacha for his release. MKO Abiola has been referred to as one of Nigeria's greatest statesman who later passed on in prison on Tuesday, July 7, 1998. Moshood Abiola was twice voted international businessman of the year, and received numerous honorary doctorates from universities all over the world. In 1987 he was bestowed with the golden key to the city of Washington D.C., and he was bestowed with awards from the NAACP and the King center in the USA, as well as the International Committee on Education for Teaching in Paris, amongst many others. In Nigeria, the Oloye Abiola was made the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland. It is the highest chieftancy title available to commoners amongst the Yoruba, and has only been conferred by the tribe 14 times in its history. This in effect rendered Abiola the ceremonial War Viceroy of all of the Yoruba people. According to the folklore of the tribe as recounted by the Yoruba elders, the Aare Ona Kakanfo is expected to die a warrior in the defense of his nation inorder to prove himself in the eyes of both the divine and the mortal as having been worthy of his title. Late MKO did, he die defending his June12 mandate.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
NYSC: Now should the suffering continue? In years past, Corps Members have been killed, kidnapped tortured while carrying out the one year youth service. The recent killings of some Corps Members have again brought the beaming light if the NYSC scheme should continue, AYODELE SAMUEL writes In 1993 when 25 year old Alimi Yusuf was posted to Benue state for his youth service, his hope of working in Lagos was dashed, but his life receive a major turn around he never expected. Mr Alimi hails from Owo town in Ondo state where he had all his academics activities up to university level. His dream was to be posted to “bubbling” Lagos state for his national youth service but the NYSC commission dashed his hope. He was posted to Benue state “I was mad when I saw my name on the list of Benue state, what do they have their how will that affect my live positively” he pondered. the father of 3 kids said he met his lovely wife during the exercise “I married a Tiv lady who I met during my Youth Service,I served at Zaki Biam town in Ukum local government of Benue state but I never believed it but it happens because from my part of the country inter ethnic marriage is not common” “ I met her in a school where she worked as an admin officer after her SSCE in Zaki- Biam town, when I was posted to Benue state for my mandatory service in 1993, we got married in 1995 and since then have seen myself as a Yoruba-Tiv man a pure detribalize Nigerian” Mr. Alimi Yusuf cautioned that the cancelation of the scheme could disintegrate the nation “many Nigerians has been integrated during the NYSC service, knowing other parts of the country, learning about their culture makes you feel we are one Nigeria even though there are challenges some members faced in serving in the northern part of the country, that has not called for the cancelation” The family of Pa Rufus Gbenjo do not share the same sentiment with Mr. Alimi, their son Ebenezer Gbenjo was a graduate of Economic Education from the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, He was serving in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area in Bauchi State, where he was recruited as one of the electoral officers by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and posted to Giade town where he was during the post-election violence. Ebenezer was among other youth corps members who met their untimely death at the Giade Police Station where they sought refuge during the post-election violence in Bauchi on April 18 and his family are calling for a total cancelation of the scheme. While Mr Adeniji Adesiyan, the elder brother to the late Jelili Adeniji, , a banking and finance graduate from the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUAA), Ondo State, was killed at the Corpers’ Lodge in Bauchi by the rioters want the security agents to fish out those responsible for the killing of the NYSC members, Adeniji believes only the prosecution and conviction of the killers will reduce the pain and shock inflicted by Jelili’s death “scraping what have being in existence may not solve the problem but open prosecution and conviction of those who carried out these deadly act will heal our wounds, even thou none of our family member will partake in the programme again, we will not forgive this nation if those behind the killing of our promising young men and women are not brought to book.” The post election violence which rock some northern state shortly after the 2011 presidential election had increase the list of serving youth corps members the nation has loss to crisis, more than ten graduates lost their lives in sacrifice for a credible election. Dr. Frederick Fasheun is the National Coordinator of the The Oodua Peoples’ Congress OPC called for the arrest and trial of those responsible for recent post election violence. Fasheun also wondered why the laws of the country have not been applied to deal with the situation in the country. “I wonder what is happening in the country where the laws for genocide are not been applied to deal with those who commit mass murder. Why the laws on arson are not being applied to those who burn other people’s houses.” Expressing his mixed feeling on the continuation of the scheme a serving corps member in Taraba State said the killing of his colleagues in Bauchi and other state implies the failure of scheme, “we are not sent here to be killed or did the government set up NYSC to waste the life’s of young Nigerians, even before the recent killings there have been cases of killing, kidnapping, raping Corp members and the government has not done anything to stop, if all these cannot be stopped then the scheme should be modify to save our life’s.” The corps member who does not want his name in print said “everyday we stay here in fear, this northern part is too volatile and its not same in the west or the east were we came from, if our people are hospitable, accommodating and peaceful I think we should be allow to serve in our geopolitical region am sure no Bauchi man will kill his fellow Bauchi brother because somebody win or loss election.” He noted that he has not learn anything new since he arrived at state:“how can I learn culture were am always afraid, you can’t learn in a condition that risk your life also I have not learn the culture of my land finish you are talking of another place, my prayer is to get of this place soon” We are calling on government to let us chose were we want to serve “am sure if we had choose by our self states we want to go to, those guys killed will not have chose those state” The former Minister of Information, Chief Alex Akinyele want the scheme scraped, he said that the NYSC scheme had since outlived its usefulness within the first fifteen years of its establishment by the military administration of Gen. Yakubu Gowon to national integration , counseling that rather than exposing the lives of Nigerian Graduates to dangers of insecurity and wastage, their efforts at serving their father land could be channeled towards providing technical aid assistance to other African countries who require such services. He argued that their services would better be appreciated in the African countries in view of the fact that those African countries realized that Nigeria is ahead of them in many areas, noting that such programme would also bring more earnings to the country. ”I am saying that they should be used for Technical Aids Commission. With the Technical Aid Commission, our student can go all over the world and be there for more than one year, maybe ten years. They can go to Ghana, or Kenya and all other parts of African, they get paid and many of them get jobs there And that will be a greater exposure to them than someone who was born in Lagos and has to go to somewhere in Zungeru in Niger state to go and suffer ”. He maintained that different ethnic unions that exists in the Nigerian universities , sharing together facilities such as hostels in the higher institutions , the numerous games and competitions have replaced the said objectives of inter-ethnic interactions which was said to be the main objective behind the scheme, charging relevant authorities to consult widely on the modalities on way out of the problem. “I say send them to all the African states, let them go and help them there. They know that we Nigerians are ahead of them and they pay them with Dollars. If they don ’t know how to go about it, let them call Professor Bolaji Akinyemi who was a Honourable Minister for Foreign Affairs during the Gen Babangida regime .Our students went round the African world then” Otunba Ayodele Oloye, a parent of two children expecting their call up letter said it will be sad if the scheme is canceled as he condole with the families of the slain youths “am sad that we still kill ourself in Nigeria, but I don’t want the scheme canceled even thou I pray none of my children steps Bauchi state in name of serving father land, the federal government should delist violence prone states from the service.” The vision of the scheme which had being in existence for the past 25 years is to be at the fore front of National development efforts, as well as serve as a profitable platform for imparting in our youths values of nationalism,patriotism,loyalty and accountable leadership but with the recent killings of its members during the last post election violence in the country , the vision of the scheme seems to have change to wasting lives of young and promising Nigerians in the name of serving their fatherland. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE NYSC The NYSC scheme was created in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war. The unfortunate antecedents in our national history gave impetus to the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps by decree No.24 of 22nd May 1973 which stated that the NYSC is being established "with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity". As a developing country. Nigeria is further plagued by the problems attendant upon a condition of under development, namely; poverty. mass illiteracy, acute shortage of high skilled manpower (coupled with most uneven distribution of the skilled people that are available), woefully inadequate socioeconomic infrastructural facilities, housing. Water and sewage facilities, road, healthcare services, and effective communication system. Faced with these almost intractable problems, which were further compounded by the burden of reconstruction after the civil war, the government and people of Nigeria set for the country, fresh goals, and objectives aimed at establishing Nigeria as: (a) a united, strong and selfreliant nation: (b) a great and dynamic economy; (c) a land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens; and (d) a free and democratic society. The government and people of Nigeria are not aware that sound and patriotic leadership is a precondition for the rapid social and economic development of the country. As a nation, Nigeria has been less fortunate in the kind of leadership that emerge to govern the affairs of the country in the period immediately after independence, a leadership whose achievements notwithstanding, was none the less ill- prepared. and generally not properly motivated to tackle the problems of socioeconomic under development, in the interest of the country as a whole. E. There is no gain saying the fact that the future of any country depends on the youths. The youths of Nigeria acknowledge this fact, and have consistently laid claim to the nation's leadership. F. While one may give credence to the saying that leaders are born, not made, one must also concede to the fact that leadership in a modem society requires a certain degree of preparation and orientation before the assumption of that role. G. The universities and other institutions of higher learning are normally expected to be training ground for future leaders, except that, as we are all aware, these institutions are first and foremost committed to the advancement of learning and knowledge, training of people for good citizenship. Little wonder that the products of these institutions have been accused of being too elitist in their outlook, of not identifying with the plight of common man, and of inability to appreciate predicament of the vast majority of our people who live in the rural areas. H. It was the need to look beyond the immediate present and to think of the future leadership of the country that necessitated the mobilisation of certain categories of our youths through the National Youth Service Corps Scheme. This was done with a view to giving them the proper guidance and orientation relevant to the needs of the country. The National Youth Service Corps Decree No. 24 which has now been repealed and replaced by Decree 51 of 16th June 1993, was then formally promulgated. I. The purpose of the scheme is primarily to inculcate in Nigerian Youths the spirit of selfless service to the community, and to emphasize the spirit of oneness and brotherhood of all Nigerians, irrespective of cultural or social background. The history of our country since independence has clearly indicated the need for unity amongst all our people, and demonstrated the fact that no cultural or geographical entity can exist in isolation.
Promise by cement manufacturers that 2011 will witnessed price reduction in the product has turned out a paradox as the cement prices assumed a flight in recent months, thus giving stakeholders in construction and building business cause to worry Ayodele Samuel examines the scenario in this analysis. Relieve in a form of drastic reduction in the price of cement enjoyed by consumers in the recent past could be short-lived after all, as prices have assumed upswing direction of late. From hitherto N2, 000 plus, price of cement crashed to N1, 400 and every stakeholder applauded the positive development as a boost to housing delivery and construction sector. As if the price reduction had not gotten to the desired level, cement stakeholders last year promised further price cut down by 20% in 2011. This was the position of Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria CMAN as announced by its Chairman, Joseph Makoju. Indigenous manufacturers raised hope of crash in cement prices in the country with a projection that output will soon hit about 30 million metric tons per annum. Nigeria is said to require about 15.5 million metric tons to meet its current national demand of per annum, local manufacturers supply hover at about 11.5 million metric tons, while importation close up the number. However, projections of output rise are hinged on the success of the various expansion projects being undertaken by the manufacturers as some of the projects are scheduled to boast market output by 2011 and early 2012. Suffice at this point to take a cursory look at Nigeria cement firms. It consists of four major producers, namely Lafarge WAPCO, Dangote Cement industries, Cement Company of Northern Nigeria and Ashaka Cement. Both Lafarge and Ashaka Cement have a combine 40 per cent share of the market while Dangote Group a majority stakeholder in Obajana and Benue Cement has an estimated 55 percent share of the Nigerian cement market. Engineer Makoju, Special Assistant to the president of Dangote Cement, Alhaji Aliko Dangote said that the group‘s Obajana Cement Plant is currently being expanded to add five million metric tonnes per annum to its initial five million metric tonnes production capacity. The group is also speeding up the construction of its Greenfield cement plant at Ibese, Ogun State, which will yield another five million metric tonnes. Another of its subsidiary, Benue Cement Company Plc, is currently producing about five million metric tonnes per annum. Dangote Cement, a member of the Dangote Group came into the cement manufacturing with a bang, building the biggest cement plant in West Africa at Obajana, Kogi State, which currently has two production lines producing 5 million metric tons of cement per annum. The third production line is nearing completion to add another 5.5 million metric tons on completion. Already, its Gboko plant, currently producing 3 million metric tons is also undergoing upgrading to add another 1 million metric tons to bring it to 4 million metric tons per annum. Besides, Dangote group is prosecuting a $680 million third plant at its Ibeshe Cement plant in Ogun State which when completed kicks off production by June. The plant is adding 6 million metric tons per annum. With this, Dangote cement alone would be churning out 20 million metric tons per annum from its three plants whose distribution cycle covers the whole country. Firm such as Larfarge WAPCO is also doing something positive to increase cement out by adding another plant to its existing plants at Ewekoro and Sagamu both in Ogun State. Indeed, while projections and expansions currently being undertaken by various cement firms supposedly should lead to a crash in cement prices, its price has hit the roof top. Investigation has revealed that the rise in the cost of cement is slowing down the pace of work in the building industry with building contractors, private builders including real estate developers lamenting the increase. Accommodations seekers, findings reveal are finding it difficult to cope with high price tags on the available houses. House and property owners are complaining high cost of maintaining their buildings. Olaharin Akinwunmi , a building contractor told Peoples Daily the high cost of cement has affected profitability in the sector. “The cost of executing building project skyrocket daily, the unstable prices of cement in the market worsen our plight, I’m building on a site now which we have to stop to study situation.” he lamented . Also collaborating Akinwunmi’s plight, Tunji Olamafe a private estate developer in Ogun state vowed to make his profits from his customers who are in need of his building. “Life has not been easy with us, in fact me particularly. Since January cement price has made life difficult for me in the business. The price is not stable, you wake up and discover what you bought last night has jumped twice of its previous price. It’s that bad. I call my supplier every hour to ascertain the cost of cement and am always disappointed to hear increase”, he said adding that, the cost to build 10 houses, now seems not be able to develop more than five at the end of the day due to the rising cost of cement and blocks.” Managing Director of Amorit International Limited Mr. Kayode Oyewole, a developer said the increase in the price of cement has impacted projects negatively. “By the time you consider the high cost of cement, there is no way one would not add to the cost of the houses.” He blamed cement producers for the high price, pointing out that some of them are not circulating the product the way they should. He also enjoined manufacturers to make the product available continuously to solve the problem of scarcity. “There is need for cement manufacturers to always publish their manifest and make it open to members of the public to know the quantity of cement going to one location or the other”, he said. Still, some cement consumers blamed cement producers for the high price, pointing out that some of them are not circulating the product the way they should. Experts have also pointed that the incessant building collapse is not divorced from high cost of cement as individuals and developers might want to cut corners by reducing the quantity of cement required for their construction. But, CMAN chairman attributed the increase in the cost of the commodity to the high cost of haulage. Makoju noted that the high cost of procuring diesel for the heavy duty vehicles that transport cement from the factory to the various depots spread across the country was a major factor in the costing of the commodity. http://www.peoplesdaily-online.com/business/economy/9996-nigerians-groan-under-high-cost-of-cement
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Bode George: Obasanjo is a Lair – Opadokun Ayodele Samuel,Lagos Chief Ayo Opadokun, the National Coordinator of Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER) say former president Olusesgun Obasanjo has been accused of flagrant lies to the public concerning his responses to issues on recent developments in the country. Opadokun in a statement stated that Obasanjo’s diatribe on Bode George and Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the governor of Ogun State lacks moral ground, saying that a response to his hypocritical comments is expedient especially ‘‘‘when the destiny of a Nation is being rubbished by a tragic hero personality in his undue quest to appropriate to himself unmerited infallibility’’. The CODER National Coordinator who described Obasanjo a self – exaggerated individual, stated that the former presidents moral history is replete with hypocrisy, deceit and friendship betrayal, adding that ‘’General Obasanjo has a warped reason about immorality and his born-again status when his public and private life are the opposite of decency is in the public domain’’. ‘The most repugnant behaviour of the enigma called OBJ is his regular habit of lying and falsifying events. OBJ’s unbelievably discredited status has reached a state where whenever he says good morning to you, it is in your best interest to open your window blind to confirm. OBJ’S recent statements on Bode George and Governor Daniel are typical hypocritical lifestyle of the Owu Chieftain’’ Opadokun posited. He stated that the former president knew that he was lying when he claimed that he was lured into the reception held for Bode George in Lagos, the event which he described as ‘celebration of criminality’. Opadokun explained further: ‘’the fact that the Owu Chief attended the ceremony before he became an opponent of the social party clearly illustrates the OBJ double face lifestyle. A decent man should have acknowledged the strident campaign of some of us who had spoken immediately against the Owambe party because we were mindful of the possible negative effects it will have on the young people generally and the Yoruba offspring in particular. On Obasanjo’s comment on the governance failure of Otunba Gbenga Daniel administration in Ogun State in the last eight years, Opadokun pointed out that the former president was being mischievous; as ‘’it came after his PDP faction’s primaries in Ogun State have been accepted by a Federal High Court as the authentic one’’. He further described the Obasanjo’s statement on Ogun as being hypocritical ‘’because he and Daniel were in power between 2003 and 2007 as comrades in arms and he never publicly or otherwise rebuked Daniel for non-performance’’. ‘’For eight years, Gen. Obasanjo had the best opportunity in the world to transform Nigeria. Funding and human resources were available in all ramifications. Furthermore, throughout his eight years in office, crude oil sold at very unprecedented high prices. Yet Obasanjo cannot point at any project that was successfully executed and commissioned’’ he added.
ATD endorses Goodluck Jonathan ahead of 2011 poll Ayodele Samuel,Lagos With few weeks ahead of the presidential election the Agenda for Transparent Democracy (ATD) has endorses the candidacy of President Goodluck Jonathan as the best option for Nigeria at this crucial moment in history. The group in a statement sign by its National Coordinator Babalola Medayedupin said “Following close monitoring of the electoral process so far, ATD unequivocally submits that the merits in President Jonathan’s candidature far outweigh, by all standards, whatever arguments that may be proffered to the contrary.” ATD added that the 2011 Presidential election is unique and critical to democratic consolidation. “this is not just another periodic election but an opportunity for Nigerian to demonstrate love for our dear country by speaking out clearly, with our votes, in support of one, united, indivisible Nigeria. 2011 Presidential election is a golden opportunity to reassert our collective desire to move the country ahead over and above primordial differences, political revisionism and divisive ambitions.” Medayedupin said ATD as a group firmly believes that the choice of leadership is vital to the growth of democracy in any society. “ATD wishes to draw the attention of Nigerians to our peculiar democratic journey since the restoration of civil rule in 1999. It is important to again reassert that the track record of President Jonathan speaks volume of the experiences he has garnered in the last twelve years of our democratic experiment. For a man who has been Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice President and President, there is no doubt that President Jonathan clearly towers over and above his opponents in the April 2011 Presidential election.” The group said that President Jonathan has learnt “the rope; weather the storm of power; and mastered the art of governance with so much trepidation and assiduity.” It would therefore be in the interest of Nigeria and indeed a great honour to our collective history as a people to vote massively for Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and return him as President on 29th May, 2011. The group said that President Jonathan has demonstrated through his team of campaigners, that he understands the chemistry of nation-building through effective mobilisation of citizens across ethnic, social, economic and political barriers to propagate a national agenda. “This key attribute of patriotic zeal manifests largely from the array of entertainment professionals, students/youth, leaders of thoughts, civil society actors, businessmen, labour, women, artisans and several others who have been rallied to propagate Goodluck Jonathan’s message of restoration and national rebirth.”