Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ekiti 2014: What’s Jonathan up to?

 Air of uncertainty pervades the Ekiti state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP), as the rumour mill is agog about moves by President Goodluck Jonathan to subtly endorse one of the candidates for the forthcoming gubernatorial election. The alleged plan has thrown the camps of some of the aspirants into confusion as they envisaged they may not have an open field to contest the party's ticket. Party faithful in the state are in doubt of what to expect from Jonathan as the election draws close. Ayodele Samuel writes.

These are not best of times for the embattled members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State. The party is faced with political squabbles capable of denying it victory at the governorship electing coming up in less than four months. Ability to put the already divided house of the party in order will go a long way to smoothening electoral success. But, that much may be a tall dream considering the level of attrition within the fold.
Barely four months to the governorship election, the party is bedeviled with various grandstanding aspirants leading different factions and it is doubtful that whoever gets the party's ticket would enjoy the support of others.
With many factions supporting its preferred aspirants, PDP in the state still remains un-united in choosing a credible candidate to challenge the incumbent governor, Kayode Fayemi, of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
However the state Executive Council of the party had allegedly commenced move to act on President Goodluck Jonathan's order on consensus arrangement.
Already, the seeming lull in the political activities in the PDP has changed with aspirants planning strategies to curry the party's favour. Though President Jonathan recently at a meeting with some governorship aspirants on the PDP platform announced that he does not have a preferred candidate, as he assured the aspirants of a level playing field, aspirants are still in delusion of who emerged the candidate of the party.
It was learnt that the meeting with the President was brokered by a chieftain of the party from the South-West, following reports that Jonathan had secretly met some aspirants from the state.
Aspirants at the meeting included Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Mr Ayo Fayose, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade (rtd), Chief Bisi Omoyeni, Architect Abiodun Aluko, Femi Bamisile, Bimbo Owolabi, Senator Gbenga Aluko, Yinka Akerele and Senator Bode Olowoporoku alongside notable party elders from the state.
Olubolade, who confirmed the meeting said "what the President said was that he has not endorsed anybody, and that means every aspirant can become the governor. That is good for democracy. What we need to do is to take it in good faith and learn the lesson he has offered and use it not to address the mistake of the past so that the election will be free and fair under a peaceful atmosphere."
He noted that Jonathan's decision to be neutral in the gubernatorial race was a good omen for democracy.
In spite of the fact that President Jonathan had laid to rest speculation about his much-touted anointment of candidate, many aspirants still go about telling those who care to listen that their ambitions had received the blessing of Aso Villa.
There has been mutual suspicion among supporters of various aspirants as some alleged that the leadership of the party was out for mischief in the process. While members of the party believed presidency might be rooting for former governor, Ayo Fayose, Afenifere Chieftain , Dayo Adeyeye or Senator Gbenga Aluko to fly the PDP ticket, Jonathan was said to have advised Olubolade not to contest the primary.
The crisis of who emerges the party's candidate has continued to spread discord among stakeholders in the party who are calling for a transparent primary election. Analysts believed that what played out during 2012 Ondo guber election, where Jonathan secretly supported and worked for Labour Party's candidate might replay itself.
A source within the state PDP said " the Obasanjo letter exposed that our candidate in Ondo state was not well supported by President Jonathan in 2012, same might happen here again because PDP in Ekiti is not organized. Everybody wants to become the candidate without winning primary election.
"We are also at a disadvantage position because the Presidency does not believe we can deliver the South West by 2015 and he is seeing Labour party of Mimiko as a better alternative. Many of our leaders in the region are doing LP, Former Ogun state governor is now in LP and this would affect our chances of reclaiming the region from APC in the next general election."
Political watchers in the state believe that neighboring Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko, has perfected Presidency supports for Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele (MOB), a member of the House of Representatives and close ally of APC National Leader, former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Mimiko is said to be backing Bamidele on the instruction of Jonathan who is not comfortable with the rising profile of All Progressives Congress (APC) and believed clinching Ekiti would reduced its influence ahead of 2015 general poll .
The President was said to have ordered Mimiko to ensure Bamidele emerges the candidate of the LP for the poll to cause an anticipated acrimony among members and supporters of the APC .
A source informed our correspondent that Mimiko and Bamidele had secretly met President Jonathan several times last year to strategize on how to send Governor Fayemi packing by October.
Also, Bamidele is said to have the support of Chief Segun Oni, a former Governor and former National Deputy Chairman, South West, of the PDP. Oni, according to sources had earlier persuaded Bamidele to join the PDP fold to realize his ambition before joining the LP.
Oni has also concluded plans to release his political machinery for Bamidele to oust Kayode Feyemi. The former Ekiti governor, who is caught in the web of crisis rocking the party at the national level which took away his seat as Deputy national chairman in the south west might not support any PDP candidate if his interest is not protected.
Bamidele's chance of giving the APC a tough run at the poll remains high, having built a political structure at the grassroot from his days as political office holder in Lagos and as a leader of the Ekiti state caucus because joining the LP.
However National Patron of the PDP National Youth Vanguard and Chieftain of the party in the state, Ambassador Gbenga Olofin, believed there were no such plans insisting that the candidate of his party would only emerge from a transparent primary election and would be well supported.
Olofin assured party members that no plan of imposition on the party from any quarters.
"The president is neutral. He is a democrat to the core and I can assure you that he won't impose anyone on Ekiti people as the PDP candidate.
"The candidate will emerge through a transparent primary election. It won't be by imposition or by somebody just coming in to tell people lies that he has been adopted as the candidate of Mr President. I can say it categorically that claim that one particular aspirant has been adopted by the President is a blatant lie.
"I can also tell you boldly that Mr President wants to work with us and make sure that the PDP wins in Ekiti State because he knows that Ekiti is for PDP and PDP is the party to beat in the coming governorship election."
"The kind of candidate that the PDP will present will be someone with integrity. The PDP won't field anyone with dented image. Our candidate won't be somebody that is facing EFCC corruption case. And let me also say it with all modesty that the President is looking for a PDP candidate that is not stained in terms of name, integrity, antecedents and character."
Contrary to these, PDP State Secretary, Dr Tope Aluko, in statement alleged that the party's chairman, Makanjuola Ogundipe, had commenced moves capable of throwing the party into another round of needless crises in the state.
Specifically, Aluko alleged that the PDP Chairman had secretly compiled an unauthorised 15-man Consensus Template Drafting Committee without the knowledge of members of the State Working Committee. Also, a chieftain of the PDP, Mr Gboyega Akinola, warned that anything short of transparent process in picking candidates would spell doom for the party.
Akinola, a former state chairman of the PDP, urged the party not to waste its chance in the 2014. "The problems in Ekiti arose from political insincerity, because right from 1999, there was an unwritten constitution among Ekiti leaders on zoning. It is obvious that the existing parties like All Progressive Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP) would pick their candidates from North and Central respectively. The PDP ought to have known that if it wants to win the next 2014 governorship election, it must pick somebody from the South," he said.
But the PDP Chairman , Ogundipe, denied the allegation, saying; "The issue of governorship does not fall within the purview of the State Working Committee (SWC) and only the National Working Committee (NWC) can act on it. I want to confirm to you that I have not compiled any list or sent any to Abuja." He hinted that the state officials would meet with all aspirants after meeting this week with a view to commencing the process of choosing a candidate.

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 and industrial expectations

aganga olusegunAll eyes are on the Federal Minister for Trade and Investment Olusegun Aganga and his team to deliver on the many industrial projections in the New Year, Ayodele Samuel writes.
Reduced Cement Price
Currently Cement in major parts of the country is sold for 1,800 but Aganag has assured of reduction in the New Year.
Announcing plans to tackle the perpetually high price of cement in the country, which the minister said is inconsistent with the current level of local production of the commodity, he said that Nigeria has become a net exporter of cement and that efforts would be sustained in boosting Nigeria's output, which is currently at 28.5 mmt to get it to 32mmt by 2015, and also to reduce the price by 2014.
"The second phase review of the cement policy will commence in 2014 and some of the issues to be addressed include how to bring down the price of cement and how to open up the uses of cement especially in road construction in order to create more market for the product."
Reduction in the price of cement this year would spring up construction among middle class members of the society who has been lamenting the high cost of the commodity.
More exportation
Aganga also promised that the Federal Government's main focus this year, is to process the country's agriculture raw materials for export.
"As a nation, we will be devaluing our potential if we continue to buy our own raw commodities from other nations that have the technology to convert primary goods to secondary products.
"Internal value addition will reduce the bulk export of our raw materials, which are processed and then sold back to us at exorbitant prices,'' he said.
Aganga noted that the ability to process raw materials internally would boost Nigeria's foreign exchange earnings, while reducing capital flight.
N15. 4 trillion FDI
Nigerians should also be expecting about $96 billion (about N15. 4 trillion) foreign direct investment in its economy this year.
Aganga noted that some of the achievements of his ministry last year included the attainment of an investment pipeline of $96 billion, which he hoped, would materialise into concrete investments in the non oil and gas sector this year.
"These investments will go into petrochemical, fertiliser and telecommunication sector.
"We have $96 billion foreign investments in the pipeline and they are coming from United States of America, $1.4 billion through General Electric; South Africa, $3 billion; China, $9.3 billion; United Arab
Emirate, $4 billion, among other countries.
The ministry generated $7.4 billion (N1.2 trillion), as revenue for the Federal Government in 2013. Aganga said the industrial revolution plans put in place by his administration have started
yielding positive results as foreign investors will be investing $96 billion in the country next year.
Improved Business environment
Private business operators in the country have always lament poor business environment. Aganga added that government has embarked on far-reaching reforms aimed at improving the business climate and making the country the preferred investment hub in Africa and globally.
According to him, Nigeria currently has a very strong macroeconomic environment and this has made the economy attractive to both domestic and foreign investors.
"Today, Nigeria has a very strong macroeconomic environment and this has made the economy attractive to both domestic and foreign investors.
"UNCTAD has rated Nigeria the No. 1 investment hub in Africa and 4th globally with 35 per cent returns on investment."
Aganga said plans are at top gear to remove barriers to trade as well as the ease of doing business in the country.
According to him, issues of regional integration, trade with economic blocs, competitiveness, visa barriers and implementation of reviewed trade and investment laws would form part of its activities in the New Year.
Aganga said his ministry was working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) towards significantly boosting the nation's investment climate in 2014.
He noted government's resolve to leverage the OECD and World Economic Forum (WEF) to boost FDI through engaging the international community in Nigeria.
He vowed to sustain the progress made last year, saying "we want to sustain what we have achieved by doing what we ought to do because of competitors in the region and globally.
"In view of this, we invited Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, to review our investment climate and tell us how to do better.
"They have reviewed and presented their findings to President Goodluck Jonathan in London and in Abuja.
"The objective is that we want to attract investments from OECD countries as they control 60 per cent of global investments."
He disclosed that the ministry has also completed reviews on all Nigeria investment laws in a bid to sustain the considerable progress recorded in 2013.
"As I speak to you I am delighted to say that we have a competition and consumer protection Bill going to the national assembly and we have the competition policy that I have asked to be finalised and the
draft copy made ready. It may come into effect very early 2014," he said.
He said a new insolvency Bill would also be going to the national assembly and assured stakeholders that all other issues that were raised by the OECD findings would be addressed.
One Local Government, One Product
Also many jobs are expected to spring up from the One Local Government One Product which is expected to kick off in the New Year.
This he said is in line with determination to reposition the Small and Medium Enterprises sector of the economy through the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) which according to him would generate an estimated 5million jobs in the next two years.
Based on these commitment the 2014 budget proposal for the ministry has shown that the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) got N1.24billion in terms of capital allocation ahead of other agencies under the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment
He said that the Federal Government would initiate investments to achieve results in its One Local Government, One Product Programme (OLOP) initiative in 2014.
The minister said that the initiative was also intended to stimulate grassroots participation in the country's trade and investment activities.
Aganga said NEDEP would be implemented under three pillars, technical/vocational skills acquisition, business development services (BDS) Entrepreneur training and access to finance and is designed to
put the SMEs sector on the right footing.
NEDEP is anchored under the One Local Government One Product (OLOP) programme, which the government said is tailored towards revitalizing the rural economy and alleviating poverty in rural areas in Nigeria and would be done through the establishment of sustainable MSMES in the 774 Local Government Areas (LGA's) based on comparative and competitive advantages.
Implementation of Automotive policy
The new national automotive policy announced last year is expected to take effect this year, stakeholders in the sector are warming up to grasp investments opportunities and challenges that would follow.
Under the policy, duties on both new and used cars were upwardly reviewed to 70 per cent (35 per cent levy and 35 per cent duty), from the previous 20 per cent flat rate. Duty for fully built buses meant
for commercial purposes will now be 35 per cent instead of the previous 10 per cent duty.
Aganga had informed that the implementation of the policy will create quality employment and a wide range of technologically advanced manufacturing opportunities in the new year.
The Director General of National Automotive Council, Engr. Aminu Jalal said Nigerians spent more than N 550 billion to import vehicles every year would now be able a million of vehicle every year.