Sunday, July 28, 2013

2015: Who succeeds Fashola in Lagos?

2015 - Who succeeds Fashola in Lagos
Lagos state has been in the grip of the opposition since 1999. As the incumbent governor, Babatunde Fashola. rounds off his two term tenure in 2015, the battle for the state Alausa Government House promises to be fierce as interested aspirants on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state have already begun to flex their political muscles. Aspirants on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are equally not left out. Our Lagos Correspondent, Ayodele Samuel writes:

As the 2015 governorship election in Lagos draws nearer, the political atmosphere in the nations's commercial centre has begun to get heated. This is because the incumbent governor Raji Babatunde Fashola would have completed his two-term tenure by then. Gross of political heavyweights in the state, both in the ACN and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have begun to show interests in clinching the tickets of their parties.

On the platform of the ruling ACN, those interested in succeeding Fashola include: Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji; an ex-Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Muiz Banire; Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Senator Ganiyu Solomon, representing Lagos West Senatorial District; Senator Gbenga Ashafa, representing Lagos East Senatorial District.

Other aspirants who have shown interest in the number one job include Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives; former Governor Bola Tinubu's aide-de-camp, Mr. Gbolahan Lawal; and the immediate past Accountant-General of the state, Mr. Akin Ambode.
Another possible replacement for Fashola is the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeola Ipaye, although he is said not to be interested in the core politics of the state.
It was however gathered that the governorship position might be zoned to the Lagos East Senatorial Zone, taking into cognisance the fact that the serving governor hails from Lagos Central while his predecessor, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, is from Lagos West.

If the governorship slot is eventually zoned to Lagos East, as is being canvassed, the move will put paid to the governorship ambitions of Hamzat (Lagos West), Gbajabiamila (Lagos Central), Lawal (Lagos Central), Banire (Lagos West), and Solomon (Lagos West) as possible contenders, leaving Ashafa, Ambode and Ikuforiji. The Lagos Assembly Speaker is currently facing graft charges, in the race.

Ambode and Ikuforiji also seem to be having an upper hand if the clamor for a Christian governor in the state is key to who represent the party at the poll. But Ikuforiji may have gotten his fingers burnt in the N35 billion scandal which is almost ruining his political dream to govern the state.
Sources close to Tinubu said a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Hakeem Muri Okunola, whose father was a revered Justice in the Court of Appeal in Lagos state before he passed on was also being considered.

Gender twist is being added to the game with the coming of Senator Remi Tinubu, who obviously is nursing the ambition of becoming the first female governor in the state.
Senator Ganiyu Solomon, who is currently the Minority Whip of in the Senate, early this year declared his intention to run for the Oval House by 2015. GOS, as he is fondly called by his admirers, is the first aspirant in the state, irrespective of political party to come out to indicate interest in the Lagos governorship race in 2015.

He believes that with his experience and developmental vision nursed over the years for the state, he is more than prepared to take the state further,"I have the experience and I am convinced that I will take the state further from where it is now," he said.

ACN state Chairman, Otunba Oladele Ajomale, said the party's leaders "are not talking about the governorship election yet," stating that the party was yet to deliberate on such issue.
The chairman, however, expressed strong opposition to the principle of zoning, noting that the principle "is a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) formula and not ACN's. We do not believe in such ideas. We believe in picking the best." According to him, the next governor of the state could come from any part of the state as he added, "Our responsibility is to get the best and only the best will be good for the state. Wherever the candidate comes from, it does not matter. It is only those that can perform that will emerge eventually.
He continued "It is not about zoning. Someone who cannot perform cannot govern the state. The state is too discriminatory for that. We always want the best. The only thing the state deserves is a quality candidate. We cannot choose someone who will drag the party backwards. The next governor of the state must be someone who will shatter the records of the incumbent governor. When the time comes, the right candidate will emerge. I have not seen anyone who is interested yet."

On Somolon's declaration to contest for the position, Ajomale explained that all qualified candidates "have the right to say what he or she wants. But I am in the best position to tell the truth. The party is yet to decide who will be the next governor of the state. But when the time comes, we will do that."

On the platform of the opposition PDP in the state, the likes of Ade Dosumu, who was the party's candidate in the 2011 governorship election; Chief Mrs. Remi Adiukwu-Bakare, former Commissioner for Commerce in the State; Adedeji Doherty, who contested the party primary in 2007 and 2011 have indicated interest to contest the Lagos governorship by2015.

Former Nigeria's High Commissioner to Ghana, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro; Afenifere chieftain, Mr. Jimi Agbaje; former House of Representatives member, Hon. Setonji Koshoedo; Mr. Demola Doherty, are also among the politicians warming up for the ticket of the party in the 2015 election. However owing to the unending schism in the state chapter of the party, more gladiators may emerge to contend for the flag of the party in the poll.

Obanikoro and his loyalist in the party have flagged off discreet campaigns for the party's ticket, with his rested political machinery being revived with members daily thronging into his Lagos Island home as well as the homes and offices of his associates across the state.

Obanikoro is also said to be using selected elders of the party in the state to reach out to camps opposed to his candidacy within the PDP. Believed to have the backing of the Presidency, Obanikoro is working hard to win the confidence of the party leadership in the state.Members of the party might still be aggrieved with the former Senator over campaign funds released to him by the Presidency under Olusegun Obasanjo for the 2007 election.

Jimi Agbaje a governorship candidate of Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA) in the 2007 election, is however favored within the party, though he has not officially joined the fold but serious efforts are being put in place to ensure he get the party's ticket. The party believed

Agbaje could change the negative perception of the party in the state if given the platform,.
Members of the party had severally warned Chief BodeGeorge not to begin another unending problem by imposing any unpopular candidate that might affect its chances in winning the 2015 poll. Several members are still aggrieved over the way Dosunmu emerged at the order of Bode George from his prison room as the party candidate in 2011.

Also all reconciliatory efforts in the party seem not to be yielding positive result for the PDP to face the 2015 task; the party still relies on the power and influence of the Presidency or its national secretariat to capture the state.

With the benefit of hindsight, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had attempted to use the federal might in 2003 and 2007 to "capture" Lagos for the PDP but failed woefully despite his annexation of the rest of the Southwest. 2015 is another test for the Federal Might.

Still, indications are that the PDP under President Goodluck Jonathan is intent on winning Lagos, but first, there is need for the party in the state to close ranks. A member of the party said the Presidency is ensuring that concerted efforts are put in place to pacify all aggrieved party members and bring them together.

Although the Alliance for Democracy (AD) is laying claims to being still politically active in the state, it is yet to be seen how serious the party is in Lagos political calculations in the race to the Oval House in 2015.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Government worried over high level of malnutrition in Northern Nigeria

Government worried over high level of malnutrition in Northern Nigeria 
Ayodele Samuel and Ngozi Onyeakusi, Lagos

 The Federal Government yesterday said the northern region is worst hit with the menace of malnutrition which mostly affects children under the age of five.

The Minister for Health Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu in  a keynote address at the second Shared Value Media Workshop organised by Nestle Nigeria Plc in Lagos said the North West has 53% of  Stunting and wasting in the country.
While North Central has 44% , North East 49% , South West 31% South South 31%  and  South East 22%.
The Minster who was represented by  Deputy Director/Head, Nutrition Department, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Chris Isokpunwu  said  is really unfortunate that despite the fact that most of the food being consumed in Nigeria are being produced in from northern Nigeria, yet the region has highest number of malnourished children in the country.

"The FAO has said that there is enough food that can feed the seven billion world population, yet over one billion people are still suffering from malnutrition. In Nigeria, most of the food we consume are produced from the northern part of the country, yet the region has highest number of malnourished children under the age of five" Isokpunwu said.

He lamented  that about 41 percent of Nigerian children under the age of five are suffering from stunted growth, 14 percent suffer from wasting while 23 percent are suffering from underweight. He added that the problem of malnutrition has been less noticed because when doctors write their post-death reports, they hardly attribute it to malnutrition.

"When doctors write their reports after a child's death they fail to attribute it to malnutrition but will only indicate missiles, malaria, pneumonia as sources of death. This continues to undermine the ravaging effect of malnutrition which often gives birth to some of these stories," Isokpunwu said.
 He said the federal government is putting policies and guidelines in place to address the issue of malnutrition in the country
He said the review of the National policy on Food and Nutrition is under way.
Declaring the workshop open, Managing Director and Chief Executive Nestle Nigeria, Mr. Dharnesh Gordhon  Said one third of pre-school children are deficient in Vitamin A, while more than three quarters of young children and pregnant  women suffers from iron deficiency.
He said to address this public health problem and help reduce risk of under-nutrition, Nestle embarked on micronutrient fortification of its product.
  He said the company helps farmers to rub profitable farms while developing a sustainable supply chain for grains.
"we trained 2,500 farmers through capacity building programmes, we purchased 8,000 tonnes of maize, 5,900 tonnes of sorghum and 5,000 tonnes of soybeans from farmers in Nigeria."
this story was first published in Peoples Daily Newspaper  20 -June-2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Kpeyegyi community, closer to Power, far from safe water

BEAUTY AMAIKE, a Student and  AYODELE SAMUEL, a blogger at on the hard life of Kpeyegyi residents to get safe water.
Living in Kpeyegyi community one among  Abuja (Nigeria's seat of Power) satellite snub might be the worst thing happening to its residents.

The community is not only close to the Nations seat of power but  lack so much –they have no good roads, potable water, health facilities and good transport system. Majority of them live in accommodation that are not befitting the status of people associated with a Federal capital city like Abuja.
In Kpeyegyi, absence of a health care facility, no proper drainage and toilet systems are indices of landmarks under development in the community.
Kpeyegyi, is a small settlement, after Jikwoyi community in Orozo Ward of AMAC situated along Karshi-Orozo road but its residents worse nightmare is access to safe water.
Due to the absence of pipe borne water in the area, residents are forced to drink from open hand dung wells which is unhealthy to their lives. 
During our visit to the community, we discover  that other major sources of water supply in the area are local river  and water vendors (mai ruwas) who fetch water from only God knows sources only to sell to residents at exorbitant rates.
In the history of Kpeyegyi, there have been many occasions when hundreds of people have died due to water borne-diseases, cholera among other germs  have been spreading through the  community by supply of polluted water to the people by Mai Ruwas.
Joseph Abah, an  Accounting Officer in Vestergaard Frandsen Nigeria  Limited   lives in Kpeyegyi ,  "the water situation in this area is extremely bad. In this community the only source of water is well water or privately individuals that own boreholes. We do buy water from the water vendors (mai ruwas) and a rubber cost N 20, by the time you calculated 5 rubbers you're spending N100 which you can use to do some other things that are very necessary and I don't think most people can afford it".
"The problem of water in this community is a serious one that we need the ministry of water resources to come to our aid. Sometimes people fetch water from the well to cook and I would not guarantee that is hygienic or safe water for one to use in cooking or to drink, even in bathing. 
He suggested that in order to ameliorate the sufferings of residents the government should provide boreholes in each location in the community.
"We are really passing time in this community especially in this harmattan season, the well gets dry up and the only means of getting water is from the borehole. A lot of people go as far as river to get water, so if government can think about it and provide us with boreholes I think it will save and lot of life," he said.
Another resident, Mrs. Joy Aaron, a trader  was worried about the health implication  the sources of water in the area to  residents relying on the sources.
"The source of water in this Area is well water and rivers that emanated from the rock.  It is bad because people wash, bathe and also drink from the same water. Some people also use dirty fetchers or container to fetch from the well water. 
"This well water also smells a lot. Our lives are in danger because these sources of water can cause water borne diseases such as typhoid. Also, some boreholes are bad therefore are not drinkable. If you boil the water the particles that will come out of the water will not allow someone to use or drink it".
She also appealed to the government to come to their  aid by providing portable and safe water for  them.
Speaking in the same vein, Thompson Ngene a student said: "In this area we are lacking good drinkable water because the well water which is the source of water here is very dirty. The well water smells a lot and after using it to wash; it makes my cloths to smell".
"Everybody cannot afford to buy water from the private owned bore holes. Therefore,  I beg the government to provide portable water for us because we are suffering a lot especially the less privilege among us. Some drink from this well ignorantly inviting sicknesses," he added.
The available sources of water remain unsafe, residents get little or no good health from drinking from these sources, when will succor comes to the people closer to the seat of Nigeria power.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ogbeni Odumakin hits Tinubu, says he represent deceit

Spokesman  of the Save Nigeria Group, Ogbeni Yinka Odumakin alleged that Governors of the ACN award one Kilometer of Road construction for N1 Billion.
Odumakin said, "I can tell you authoritatively that the most dangerous and terrible tendency in Yoruba politics is the house of deceit that Tinubu represents."
Odumakin in a facebook post recalled how he dragged former Governor Alao Akala to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for awarding One Kilometer of road forN50 Million and said most Yoruba leaders are "greedy."
 "I can tell you authoritatively that the most dangerous and terrible tendency in Yoruba politics is the house of deceit that Tinubu represents.
"Only those who have sold their souls will ignore this fact. There has never been any such greedy bunch in our nation; not even under the PDP."
"I took Akala before EFCC in 2010 for awarding roads at N50m per km in all the LGs in Oyo state. Today your Asiwaju is collecting N1b per km across the South-West.
"When Tinubu turned 60 ACN states contributed N1b for a bash, nobody tried that in Yoruba land before.
"Chief Adebanjo was chairman of AD in 1999 and not one relation of his got a ticket unlike your Tinubu, whose wife is a senator, son in law a Rep, Sister in law a House member in Lagos and daughter now Iyaloja via imposition .
Your grouse with the old men may be for reasons you have not stated but you know they are far more honorable than a million Bola Tinubu."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sagamu charade: What President Jonathan has done wrong again

My Thoughts With Ayodele Samuel 
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Good men must die but nothing can kill their good name and good deeds - Tunde Bakare
One of the very good leaders that have served this country in the recent past is the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. He was a President of many good deeds and Nigerians are just getting to realise this.
Late President Umaru despite his complicated health challenges and dubious men making a larger chunk of his cabinet, did not increase fuel price. He gave amnesty to Niger Delta militants and initiated many other landmark projects for the economic development of this country without any unnecessary publicity.
President Umaru awarded the 16-lane Abuja Airport road without any noise, signed a concession agreement with Bi-Courtney Highway Services Ltd to construct the ever busy Lagos-Ibadan Expressway without stepping out of the Villa to make any noise.
Governance is the responsibility of any serious government, but President Goodluck Jonathan must be joking if he thinks what happened
Last Friday at Sagamu, where he purportedly performed "turning of sod" (Flagoff) for the repair of the Lagos/Ibadan road is anything spectacular to be celebrated with fun fare, drums and pageantry.
This needless ceremony is the second official function performed on this road; the first was when it was commissioned for use in 1978 by General Olusegun Obasanjo. No ceremony whatsoever by successive governments whenever the road is marked for repairS.
Here are major issues that must be of concern to every Nigerians and particularly about the Project and President Jonathan.
His late boss, Umaru, in a concession agreement with Bi-Courtney Highway Services Ltd, was to expand the lanes to 10 from Lagos to Sagamu, and six lanes from Sagamu to Ibadan. It was also expected to build trailer parks and five interchanges among other things at a cost of N89.5bn.
The Federal Government had, in November 2012, revoked the failed Lagos-Ibadan Expressway concession contract awarded to Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited in 2009.
Last Friday, President Jonathan cut a tape to mark the commencement of rehabilitation and reconstruction of a two lane dual carriageway. From Lagos to Sagamu, only a single lane is added making it three lanes.
But from Sagamu to Ibadan, no additional lanes but just resurfacing, no interchange and trailer parks for N167 Billion.
Why did President Jonathan have to insult our collective sensibility?
This is the busiest road in Africa with average of 250,000 cars passing through that road per day. With the amount of lives that perish on that road day in day out and the kind of man hours lost, one would have expected the President to be more sensitive by making sure it's expanded to about six lanes on either side without increasing its cost.
Also, we haven't seen President Jonathan supervise any party to signal construction of any road in any part of the Country, not even in his home zone, South South, but he derives pleasure in gathering our Obas, chiefs and the political class to clap for him because he has just approved a contract to do a road that has killed many Nigerians irrespective of tribes.
Why did he have to do this in Yoruba land? Why did he have to play the race card? If this is to curry support of the South West people for the forthcoming elections, this has fallen flat. Nigerians cannot be fooled with this white Elephant project.

Monday, July 8, 2013

PHCN: Before we join Pa Dawodu on hunger strike

The Economic Confidential, in a recent article warned politicians the world over to beware of the wave of anger sweeping through the different climes. 
The protests have different sides. In Brazil people rose up against bus fares, in Turkey, against a building project. Indonesians have also rejected higher fuel hike, in Bulgaria, a sorry state of affairs, the Euro zone the march against austerity, even as the Arab region protests against pretty much everything. The demonstrations have roots in the anger against the various governments resulting in dire consequencies. For instance,  
in Sri Lanka, a 61-year-old man suffered fatal heart attack and died after being presented with a shocking electricity bill. The aged man had protested 50 percent tariff increase at the Ceylon Electricity Board in Colombo last Friday. 
Sri Lanka is one of the most expensive countries in Asia with electricity of a kilowatt hour costing up to 47 rupees ($0.37), here in Nigeria In 2011, our erratic power supplier, the PHCN, jacked up its tariff from N8 to N40 for each kilowatt consumed.  
The wave of anger has been sweeping across our country Nigeria, silently caused by inconsiderate policies despite the fact that Nigerians are not carrying placards screaming the words. Today we have the ongoing ASUP strike, joined by NUPENG (before they called off their own strike), followed by ASUU and another interesting one; the 60 year old man, who embarked on hunger strike to protest high electricity billing, which we can aptly call 'crazy billing' by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN)
Pa Abayomi Gbode-Ogun Dawodu's lone protest showcases the anger of  most Nigerians on the corrupt practices in the various sectors.
But sadly in Nigeria, hunger strike is not a language our government understands because it cares less about the likes of Dawodu even though he is a senior citizen. The fact remains that our government for instance does not mind that 4 million Polytechnic students have not received lectures for more than 70 days: our government can still not enhance economic status the people to enable them put food on their table. So such government would certainly not be concerned that citizen Dawodu is on hunger strike and for all it cares, the old man may kiss the dust after all he is already old so what does he need electricity for? Papa can 'deliberately' starve himself to death.
Obviously our government has lost respect for human dignity, if not the story of citizen Dawodu should have given the Minister for Power and the National Electricity Regulation NERC sleepless night for them to address the damning issue of crazy PHCN billing system in this country.
Since Pa Dawodu went on his hunger strike on Monday, what has happened?  And what will happen to other Nigerians groaning under such situation?
The crazy bills issued by PHCN stems from corrupt practices of officials in the system and many Nigerians can attest to this. The situation has worsened lately as the distribution companies have left much to be desired in their manner of reading meters, instead they would dispatch such crazy bills monthly, the type Pa Dawodu complained about.
It is worthy of note that Even the NERC boss 'Comrade' Sam Amadi has accused the management of PHCN of willfully thwarting its own meter deployment scheme in a bid to exploit electricity consumers through the  practice of  such crazy bills to Nigerians.

I have never accepted bribe in my life —Ribadu

 From left: Former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, chief missioner of the Nasrul Lahi Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Alhaji Abdullahi Akinbode, Alhaji Yusuf Ali (SAN) president of the University of Lagos Muslim Alumni, Alhaji Letr Alimi and vice chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof Rahamon Bello at a pre-Ramadan lecture at the university.

It was indeed another day for the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Presidential Candidate in the 2011 election, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to give his account and contribution to the anti corruption crusade in the country.
The main auditorium of the University of Lagos was parked full with Muslim brothers and sisters, eminent Nigerians who were eager to listen to the anti corruption crusader at the 15th pre-Ramadan public lecture organized by the  foremost  UNILAG Muslim Alumni Association, UMMA, with theme "Corruption and  Administration of Justice in Nigeria: Agenda for Reform."
Ribadu shocked his audience when he informed them that he has never received or accepted any bribe in his life.
"When we started EFCC, I told myself that we would treat corrupt public office holders as equal to a criminal that stole a goat, if you put those who stole goats in handcuff, I vowed to put those who stole millions in handcuff too. When they brought bribe to me, I always reject it in the presence of other EFCC staff, because a leader must show the way, I have never taken bribe in my life and all my staff know where I stand".
Ribadu told the gathering that anti corruption war could be won if the leader of the country shows the way.
"These corruption we are fighting can be won, if the leader shows the way, all the other people would follow but when the leader takes the other way, we are in a problem.If they are doing a meeting in the Villa you would see our leaders with big, big jeeps, no where to park, but you  would be surprised that a jeep can build a clinic, two jeeps would build a school and a plane would build a university but they believe with good luck, they can do many things.
"From my experience with  the defunct Failed Banks Tribunal and from other works in various panels, I witnessed the lethal effects of corruption on our country. At the EFCC, we tracked the chains of people and organisations from public and private sectors who formed the Nigerian networks.Despite the challenges; we risked our lives, survived the waves of dirty media campaigns and resisted temptations to have us compromised.
"At the coming of EFCC in 2003, there were very few high-profile cases of corruption that were successfully prosecuted; EFCC's interventions led us into various networks that have previously enjoyed impunity and notoriety, from the internet scams that dent the image of the country to abuse of office at the private and public sectors."
Ribadu  said President Jonathan is not building on anti corruption foundations previous governments left behind, insisting that only a corrupt-free president who is also ready to subject his cronies to processes of the law, in case of infringement, can lead the crusade against corruption.
"So many corrupt people get away with their acts, largely because of their relationships with heads of institutions that ought to counter or expose their abuse of office. Some convicts are being granted state pardon, thereby rubbishing the whole effort at corruption. These practices have turned corruption into a sort of culturally or ethically accepted trend."
Noting that  the country is presently locked in a systemic breakdown with widespread bribery, high-profile looting, insecurity, rising debt profiles, perpetuation of lawlessness and impunity as well as collapse of moral values, Ribadu is however unhappy that his recent report on oil revenue which unearthed sharp practices in oil industry has not been given any attention.
"My recent work on oil revenue, for example, which unearthed sharp practices in that industry has not been given any attention. No action has been taken on the report, despite its sheer magnitude and the bad name it brought to Nigeria. Nothing has appeared to be done by the government on the $1.1 billion Malabu oil scandal."
He added: "these cases of mass looting were done with the collaboration of those powerful players in the evil networks of corruption globally".
Proffering way out of  the menace , Ribadu said sensitivity and consciousness of the nation's leader to cases of corruption and abuse of office are the key factors in the fight against corruption,adding that " his (President) decisions and sincerity and refusal to adopt any form of impunity, will determine the success of the anti-corruption campaign."
Ribadu, however, dispelled the clamour for special courts for corruption, arguing that what is needed is review of the procedural laws and sincere application of same by any court of competent jurisdiction, while charging  the legislative arm of government to be alert to its oversight responsibilities which, he said, is a primary mechanism for tackling corruption.
"There should be serious work on the procedural laws. Nigeria has adequate provision in terms of extant laws on corruption including international conventions like the UN Convention against Corruption, FATF Anti-money Laundering protocols, EITI , Public Procurement Act, Fiscal Responsibility Law, Freedom of Information Law, while the professional competence of the law enforcement agencies; the Police, EFCC, ICPC, Prisons etc has to be fully enhanced."
Also speaking, Chief Missioner of the Nasrul Lahi Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Alhaji Abdullahi Akinbode who delivered his sermon in Yoruba noted that Islam does not tolerate corruption in its practice.
While condemning plea bargaining , Akinbode berated situations where petty criminals are caught up by the heavy arms of the law while public officers who stole billions of public money are allowed to negotiate their way out of the law.
He however charged Muslim faithful to kick start a corruption-free political system in Nigeria.
Speaking earlier, UNILAGUMA President  Alhaji Sikiru Lere Alimi agreed that corruption is the major problem the country must address.
"It's the main reason why our educational system has decayed so badly, our health facilities are in deplorable condition, our  security system in a parlous state and our infrastructure seriously dilapidated."
He lamented that corruption is been treated with levity in the country despite the existence of two anti corruption agencies and a robust judicial system in the country.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Access to loan, still a nightmare for SMEs operators -Association

From Ayodele Samuel,Lagos

For Small and Medium Scale enterprises and businessmen in Nigeria, ability to access funds in banks and other microfinance institutions has continued to be a nightmare.
Despite various promises and commitment from government agencies, various groups, including operators of small businesses, traders, market women and men, regretted that they were not able to perform due to lack of access to credit facilities in banks, calling on the industry regulators to prevail on banks and microfinance banks (MFBs) to lend to the sub-sector.

Speaking at summit held at the palace of the Ezeigbo of Mushin, Oba John Chukwudi Nwosu, , the President of the Market Leaders Association of Nigeria, Deacon C.F.C. Obih, said over the years, small and medium scale enterprises were believed to be catalysts for economic growth and national development in Nigeria, regretting that the sector had been experiencing retarded growth due to many factors which include lack of easy access to funding/credit which could be traced to reluctance of banks to extend credit to them.
"We have approached banks individually and collectively to assist us with loans but most of us are usually disqualified due to lack of knowledge of the process. Moreover, banks do not have enough personnel to train all SMEs on the rudiments. That is why we have gathered ourselves together on the platform of a summit to be educated on how we can access loans to improve on our businesses. Unfortunately, most banks are still not supportive but we are optimistic in helping ourselves to grow our business and Nigerian economy," he said.

Also, Managing Director of Mayakorp Nigeria Limited, Mr. Martins Ndigwe revealed that SMEs sector had the most need for financial loans to boost their businesses, stressing that they also needed to be educated on the process of obtaining such loans.
"Unfortunately, the banks are not helping much to enlighten them on how to grow their businesses. The small businesses are perhaps faced of inadequate human capacity; poor and inadequate documentation of business proposals; lack of appropriate and adequate collateral, high cost of administration and management of small loans as well as high interest rates," he said.
However experts identified ignorance of the SMEs operator as one of the major reasons why financial institutions refuse to give credit to the sector.
Faculty member of the Lagos Business School and member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria Dr. Doyin Salami said entrepreneurs have to take their businesses from the realm of religion and unrealistic belief of succeeding to where people understand the analysis they are doing.
He said beyond the challenges of finance, infrastructure, human capacity development, prevalent in the Nigeria business environment, the lack of business understanding was a possible reason why a lot of SMEs in the country are struggling to survive.
He also noted that over time, SMEs in Nigeria had not performed creditably well and hence had not played the expected vital vibrant role of being the spine of economic growth and development.
He noted that SMEs contributed 46.54 per cent of Nigeria's gross domestic product in nominal terms, according to the 2012 Enterprise Baseline Survey.
"This compares with approximately 60 per cent in China, at the end 2011, and 70 percent in neighbouring Ghana, according to a University of Ghana study. Estimates show the level of contribution in South Africa lying between 52 per cent and 57 percent," he said.
"A 2013 outlook on Nigeria's SMEs envisages capacity development, need to help people build sustainable businesses and access to finance, as key challenges the sub-sector will face in the ongoing year. Although loans and advances by deposit money banks (DMBs) are recovering considerably, prevailing lending rates put borrowing from DMBs out of the reach of most SMEs, and therefore they have to resort to micro financing", he concluded.
He, however, noted that funding for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) has, for many years, been the bane of growth of the sub-sector.
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

ASUP strike: Why oga at the top must intervene

My Thoughts With Ayodele Samuel 
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For more than 70 days now, our Polytechnics across the country have been shut down and the estimated 3 to 4 Million students are now forced to sit at home idle with nobody showing any concern about their plight, and it is not known that President Goodluck Jonathan has said anything about it, or is he not aware of the strike? 
If that is the case, we should all know that the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) is on strike, with the usual demand from government to honour its agreement: why is it that our government in this part of the World would sign agreements but would not meet its own part of the bargain? Same with electoral promises after getting votes of the people. Is it unmindful of the fact that these students, who are currently idle, might be forced to perpetrate evils acts against the country? God forbid, Nigerian students are God fearing and love their country, Nigeria. All they are asking is to be loved in return by enhancing their education and being gainfully employed when they finish their studies.   
The problem between ASUP and Federal Government is long overdue and should have been resolved even before the union embarked on its strike, but it seems that those at the helm of affairs don't care about what is happening, they would rather wait to give amnesty to youths turned militants.
With ASUP recently saying, "going by the lip service the federal government is paying to Polytechnic education in the country, the strike would last as long as possible till the time the government listens and implements the agreement entered into," the students involved are in big trouble. And what happens to their parents, who are toiling day and night to pay their school fees? This is besides the challenges of underfunding of Polytechnics, Monotechnics and Colleges of Education, with the situation getting worse under the present administration.
The federal government has neglected these categories of higher learning. If the Universities can be regulated by a national commission (NUC), it's just in line that the polytechnics are also regulated by a commission, which is one of the agitations of the union.
The ongoing strike is also as a result of failure of most state governments to implement the approved salary package (COMPCASS) and 65 year retirement age in Polytechnics.
Another issue of concern for Nigeria Polytechnic students is the discrimination even among government agencies as University unions receive more attention just like its graduates in the labour market than the former.
Now this national embarrassment should stop, the government should as a matter of urgency sit with the polytechnics union to ensure students are returned to classes to continue their studies. Better still the Minister of Education needs to go back to the drawing board on the matter, and involve the Oga at the top so that the students can be recalled quickly.