Friday, February 6, 2015

Confession of Lagos Area Boys: PDP agents paid us N. 3m to stone Buhari

Buhari-MuhammaduFrom Ayodele Samuel, Lagos
Some street urchins in Idumagbo area of Lagos Island have alleged that they were paid the sum of 300,000 to pelt All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential candidate, Gen Muhammadu Buhari during his visit to the Oba of Lagos on Friday.
Peoples Daily investigation reveals that some agents of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, met with some touts who dominate Ita Iga and Idumagbo area to carry out out the act.
Idumagbo, Adeniji Adele, Oyebanji, and other volatile spots on the Island popularly called Isale- Eko are notorious for local touts, usually called Area Boys, move in groups to control various 'junctions'.
Our correspondent gathered that various gangs were paid to scuttle General Buhari's visit to the area.
Isale Eko is the political base of former Minister of State for Defense and PDP chieftain, Senator Musliu Obanikoro.
At Idumagbo Avenue, leader of a gang who refused to tell our correspondent his name said that he was contacted and paid for the 'deal'.
"We were paid to disrupt the visit, the PDP people met with us on Wednesday night and promised us a N700,000 to stone Buhari and Asiwaju whenever they visit the Oba's palace in Idumagbo. They gave us 300,000 advance here on Thursday and we shared it because it's part of our national cake," he said
"At first we gathered at ona owa, entrance to the palace before we were dispersed by security agents attached to the APC convoy who came in a white luxurious bus.
"We latter moved to Transformer Junction and Isogari Idumagbo but it was obviously impossible to carry out the action, so we left for stadium where Kwam1 was performing," he said.
Asked if he informed the said PDP agents that he was unsuccessful in accomplishing the task, he said he refused to pick calls of the PDP agents.
"I said I went to dance Kwam1 how will I pick his call, they are all thieves, if someone gives you money to stone anyone in government take it, they are the same anywhere any day."
Another gang leader in Sari Igunmu who also pleaded anonymity alleged that, "Obanikoro is popular here but we are not enjoying his largesse like APC chieftains in the community.
"I was informed of the deal but was not available and did not witness it; it's not impossible because 'boys' are not happy, we are just seeing posters everywhere no money, so I can't blame them, you should also know that this is Koro's territory, so don't be surprised if they are doing PDP, but all 'boys' here are not interested in party; they are looking for what to eat"
Earlier, Senator Obanikoro had stuck to his guns that Gen Buhari was indeed stoned in Lagos while making his way to the APC Lagos presidential rally on Friday.
He said in a statement signed by his media aide Ohimai Amaize that "based on eyewitness accounts, he is aware of the stoning incident at Idumagbo area of Isale-Eko, Lagos State and the fact that a woman was injured in the ensuing fracas after General Buhari's security detail had to shoot into the air to dispel the irate mob."
Obanikoro had condemned the alleged stoning of General Buhari in Lagos, calling on Lagosians to eschew violence.
"The stoning of APC Presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari today in Lagos is utterly condemnable. The 2015 presidential polls must be about issues and sportsmanship moderated with every sense of decency and civility", he said.
Senator Obanikoro noted that the APC's denial of Buhari's stoning in Lagos was not only pointless and futile but also does not give the APC any advantage.
"When things go wrong, we must acknowledge and condemn it in order to forestall any future occurrences.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has denied the concocted story by former Minister of State for Defence that the party's presidential candidate, Gen.Buhari, was pelted with stones during the party's rally in Lagos, saying a lie has never worn a bolder face.
APC in a statement issued in Lagos on Friday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said Gen. Buhari and other top leaders of the APC rode in a open bus from the Palace of the Oba of Lagos to the Teslim Balogun Stadium venue of the rally, to great cheers from Lagosians who lined the route.
''Not once was he pelted with stone during the almost two-hour ride. It is obvious that those who were paid by Mr. Obanikoro to stone the General failed to deliver. We therefore urge him to seek a refund of whatever money he paid to his hired hands to pelt Gen. Buhari with stones,'' it said

Ebola survivors gets sack letters in Lagos

From Ayodele Samuel and Akilani Abdullah, Lagos Two survivors of Ebola Virus Disease EVD have petitioned the Lagos state government over stigmatization and sack from office for being linked to the disease, despite being discharged and certified free from the disease. The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris said this while briefing newsmen on the efforts of government to contain the virus said the state government is determined to ensure that survivors are reintegrated back into the society without discrimination. He warned against stigmatizing survivors of the virus that have been given a clean bill of health, saying erring residents will be prosecuted. He added that the cases of the sacked survivors have been referred to the Ministry of Justice for appropriate action. Idris said government would not hesitate to prosecute any individual or organisation reported to have stigmatized an Ebola survivor in one way or the other. He said, "The social problem being faced by discharged cases has being reported severally. This ranges from stigmatization, eviction from their accommodation, being asked to stay away from work and termination of employment. "We've had cases of employers just terminating the employment of their staff who were just mere contacts, not even suspected cases. We believe this is unfair and we feel this impedes on their fundamental human rights. "One thing I want to emphasize again is that the Ministry of Justice will take the matter up. Anybody, whether a discharged patient or a contact followed up, who feels stigmatized, can petition the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General of Lagos State and they would take that matter up on their behalf because it is not fair and it is not right." Harping on the dangers of stigmatization, the commissioner noted that it worsen the situation if people are afraid to declare their Ebola States. He appealed to the residents to contribute their quota to ensure that all cases and contacts that have been given a clean bill of health to the society are reintegrated back into the society. According to him, "Stigmatization will further make contacts and suspects to go underground and continue to reverse the gains so far made in the containment and management of this outbreak. "People feel stigmatized and they may not want to come out because of that, they come up with symptoms and they may not come out and jeopardize not only their lives, but their family members and other people they come in contact with. That's why it is essential that people should stop that." He said a total of 366 contacts have been traced since July 22, saying only 19 of these contacts are yet to conclude the 21 days surveillance, while 345 contacts have been cleared and discharged having shown no sign of the symptoms of EVD. On the First Consultants Hospital, where the first case was recorded, the commissioner revealed that the facility has been decontaminated and also certified to reopen for business. He said, "We urge those who use the First Consultants Hospital, to support them, it remains a flagship medical centre. They have been given a clean bill of health.

Organised Private Sector yet to access MSME’s Development Fund

Months after President Goodluck Jonathan launched the disbursement of the N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF) initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), members of the Organised Private Sector, (OPS), are yet to access it; Ayodele Samuel reports.
Alhaji Bature Umar Masari
For members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS), accessing the recently launched N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF) initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is a big nightmare.
During the flag-off of disbursement of the Fund in Abuja, President Goodluck Jonathan rekindled optimism among owners of such enterprises that their days of frustrations may be over soon.
However, today, several members of the OPS who attempted accessing the fund said they were faced with procedural frustration.
President Jonathan also explained that, with the flag-off, he was equally kick-starting the disbursement of the fund to participating financial institutions and state governments, for onward lending to MSMEs across the country.
However, the Director-General of Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDAN) Mr. Umar Bature Masari, had openly lamented the inability of its over 55 thousand registered cooperative society (comprising over 800 thousand individuals) to access the MSME intervention funds through the Bank of Industry (BoI) owing to the bottlenecks that have made it impossible for the BoI to access the funds from the CBN.
The SMEDAN, DG had called on the CBN to soften the condition for assessing the MSME facility to enable Nigerians benefited from the fund.
Also, the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce while decrying the inability of OPS to access the intervention fund, attributed this to many banks' lack of interest in the programme.
According to the President of the chamber, Tim Anosike, "The OPS is still having difficulties in accessing the Federal Government's N220b MSME fund because the three percent CBN-approved interest rate for them is too small".
He said that the problems facing the sector include the complicated procedures in accessing the fund and lack of interest of many banks in the programme.
"The current N220 billion MSME intervention fund by the CBN is a laudable initiative.
"This Chamber believes that if the fund could be made available for the target groups, then the national economy must have received a significant boost at the end of the day; more so, as 60 percent of it goes to women entrepreneurs; but our fears remain those of complicated procedures," he lamented.
According to him, the obvious lack of interest by many banks to be part of the exercise is due to the fact that the three percent CBN-approved interest rate for them is too small.
However, Managing Director of Asha Microfinance Bank, Ikeja, Lagos, Aminu Bhuiya, said there are no stringent rules in accessing the loan if the rules dictated by regulators are followed, "but most of them will prefer not to access the loan than exposing their weakness".
Bhuiya however noted that the medium through which the funds are to be channeled are not healthy. "These obstacles are some of the reasons why many operators cannot access the loan" he said.
The present initiative is not the first of such efforts introduced to empower the private sector for efficiency. There had been several of such interventions in the past, most of which failed to achieve their desired goals of increased efficiency and job creation. On the list of these past efforts are the Power and Airlines Intervention Fund (PAIF) meant to help address the constraints of electricity; Small and Medium Enterprises Credit Guarantee Scheme (SMECGS); SME Refinancing and Restructuring Facility (RRF); Youth Empowerment Programme (Entrepreneurship Development Centres (EDCs)) and NYSC Venture Prize Competition), Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS), Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS), among others.
However the impact of these intervention initiatives were never reasonably felt, OPS members are afraid that the N200bn fund might go the same way.
Anosike advised the CBN to guard against anything that could truncate this laudable objective, so that the MSMEs would get the lifeline.

Buhari campaign: A carnival for change in Lagos

Despite the early shower of the first rain in the year 2015 in Lagos State, last Friday would continue to remain memorable in the political heart of members and supporters of All Progressives Congress (APC) who filled the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere to its brim, for what it called carnival for charge. Ayodele Samuel was there.
They defied the heavy traffic that took over all roads leading to the stadium; they thronged out in their thousands, with pomp and pageantry to receive the All Progressives Party (APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari who had came to inform them of his plan if elected into office.
At about 8:10am, party members arrived the venue with various party branded attire waving their brooms and dancing to live music supplied by King of Fuji music, Wasiu Ayinde (Kwam 1) and other musicians who delighted supporters in the drizzling rain.
The crowds were also entertained by comedians, Nollywood artists, including Adebayo Salami, Jide Kosoko, Yinka Quadri, Davido, Olaminde, Mevins Crew, Fathia Balogun, Femi Adebayo Afonja Sanyeri among who also endorsed the APC candidates.
Food hawkers, petty traders also made brisk businesses at the venue as they sold food, drinks ,brooms, T shirts and APC branded hats to party members and supporters.
Not missing in action were representatives of the physically challenged persons who expressed displeasure over none signing of the physically challenged bill into law by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Their message reads: "Nigerians should vote Buhari and Osinbajo because Jonathan refused to assist us on the physically challenged bill. Adding that they went to Abuja twice but the president did not assist them on the bill to be passed into law."
Kick starting the rally, Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign and governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi lampooned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of being afraid of going to the election because the APC is fully ready, insisting that election must hold on February 14th. He said Nigerians will defend their votes.
"Any governor or president that cannot show what he has done for people should not be allowed to come back. PDP is afraid of election. They have seen that the people are with us, if they rig the election, we will stand by our election without leaving the polling unit. Our prayer is that Jonathan should not come back.
"When the President came to Rivers, he admitted that did not do anything in the state. When he comes, he should point out one thing he has done and I would point out many things that I have done. He made a promise to the people of Rivers in 2011 and he failed. We don't want a man who cannot fulfill his promises and that is why he cannot return as president," Amaechi told the crowd.
In his speech, a former governor of Lagos and the national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu said that Buhari was chosen as the candidate of the party because he has been very consistent.
According to him, "Gen Buhari would have chosen to sit back and relax at home and not bother about what is happening in the country, but it is patriotism that has made him to agree to contest. It is about the future of the country so we should not play the politics and tribe of religion. Buhari was chosen not because I was not interested in becoming the president. I am very capable, intelligent, honest and richer. But Buhari was chosen because he has remained consistent and he is the change that Nigeria needs right now.
"In the past 16 years of democracy, we have seen all sorts of political games, but Buhari has remained steadfast and consistent. He is an advocate of change and a voice for the poor. I pray that those who talk about his age will live as old as he is.
"We are in great crisis in this country and we have faced a lot of challenges and we need someone with the will to effect change. When South Africa was about to disintegrate, Nelson Mandela, who was 75 years old was called to rescue it. When America was in crisis, they called a 70 years old Ronald Reagan to come and rescue America.
"When Britain was in crisis, they didn't call a man who is in the parliament, they called Winston Churchill who was 75 years old then and who was a retired general to rescue it.
"When we started the APC, people thought that the merger would not work, but I told them that there was a storm coming and we have appealed to Buhari to step in and rescue the country."
"One man that has been consistent and steadfast, courageous and advocate of the poor is Buhari". Tinubu said that he knows Nigeria will get better with his kind of leadership.
Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, on his part, stressed the need to create a producing industry rather than consuming what is not produced in the country.
"Jobs cannot be created by wrong policies. We need to revive the industries, to ensure that we begin to produce and not consume alone. Rather than creating jobs, they created fraud. It is time to bring in the trusted person. For us to fight corruption, we need someone who hadn't stolen before."
However Rochas Okorocha, the Imo State Governor, in his own words, said politics should not be based on religion or tribe. "We must not play politics of religion and tribal issues."
Chief John Oyegun, national chairman of the APC, admonished that people should go and collect their PVCs, without which they may not be able to vote leaders of their choice.
"I have seen people's sweat of change. My prayer is that no one should be stupid enough to ignore this momentum of change. I urged you to obtain your PVC."
Not taking the back stage, Mrs Aisha Buhari, wife of the APC presidential candidate, said the electorate must be educated on how to thumb print. "As we are all yearning for change, and for change to be actualized, we must educate the electorate on how to thumb print," she said.
On his part, General Buhari however stressed that his party has identified three major problems to tackle if elected, saying that the issues identified are insecurity, the dwindling economy, bribery and corruption, while promising that the issue of the dwindling economy and the devaluation of the naira will soon be a thing of the past.
The former Head of state said "my party has identified three major aspects in dire need of solutions which are insecurity, the dwindling economy, bribery and corruption. When I become president, these things will become a thing of the past.
"What is happening in the North-eastern part of the country is unacceptable. I know that the Nigerian Police and the military are capable of restoring peace in the country and it is very important that they are well equipped to do that.
"In terms of corruption, whatever my administration is able to save when all the leaking holes are plugged will be diverted to the building and equipping of schools.
"The Nigerian Airways is no more, our railway system is moribund and the level of power supply we have is not more than what was inherited in 1999, so we need to vote the PDP out for the change we need to take place," Buhari said.