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Brazil 2014: Nigerians Beckon On TB Joshua For Success
February 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Ayo Bada*

IT is not an overstatement that Nigerian football is presently enjoying the grace of God considering the surprise feats has recorded in the past few years, but the country’s football authorities have a role to play if Nigeria at the senior level, can conquer the world.

And for the country to continue to enjoy the grace of God in the round leather game especially as the FIFA World Cup is fast approaching, football loving Nigerians have called on the football authorities to beckon on the ‘Man in the Synagogue’, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, for the Super Eagles success at Brazil 2014.

T.B. Joshua as the ‘Man in the Synagogue’ is fondly called called, is the leader and founder of The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN),

The ‘Man in the Synagogue’ has been synonymous with the country’s football in general and with some of the national teams’ players in particular.

In 2009 T.B. Joshua stated a football club, My People FC, as part of efforts to help the youth. Two members of the team played for Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets in the 2009 FIFIA U-17 Wold Cup.

Sani Emmanuel, who apparently lived in The SCOAN for several years, was Nigeria’s top-scorer and the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).

Emmanuel and his colleague, Ogenyi Onazi, have now signed professional contracts with SS Lazio, Onazi recently debuting and scoring for the Nigerian Senior Team, the Super Eagles.

Following the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, T.B. Joshua rewarded the efforts of the Nigerian team, presenting the physically challenged medalists with cash gifts and cars.

Current World Boxing Organisation (WBO) International Light Middleweight boxing champion, King Davidson Emenogu, said that T.B. Joshua has financially supported him throughout his career and purportedly prophesied that he would be a world boxing champion.

The ‘Man in the Synagogue’ predicted that the country will not qualify for the 2012 African Nations Cup which was co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and it came to pasts when the star-studded Super Eagles could not soar past the Syli Nationale of Guinea.

The match ended in a 2-2 draw after the Guineans equalised to cancel Nigeria’s 2-1 lead with seconds to the end of the match, thus Guinea automatically kicked Nigeria out having garnered 14 points as against Nigeria’s 11 points.

But rather than blame themselves for their lack luster performance in the match, members of the team blamed other factors for their failure.

In a chat with reporters at the reception hall of the Transcorp Hilton shortly after the match, Osaze Odemwingie agreed that he did not play to expectations in the match but said the prediction of Prophet Joshua also put pressure on the team.

“Yes, I would say I’m sorry to Nigerians for not playing according to expectation and I believe I did not play well in the match. But the prediction of Prophet T.B. Joshua really affected us.

“We thought we could see him and see how he could overturn the negative prediction but the officials came with another prophet who prayed for us and told us that all was well.

“But in all we did not do our own bit of the job well as players and we are not happy that we won’t play at the forthcoming Nations Cup.”

Speaking in same vein Samsunspor striker, Ekhigo Ehiosun, said the players were very much annoyed with themselves for not getting the ticket to the Nations Cup.

The ‘‘Man in the Synagogue’ again predicted that Nigeria will bounce back after the failure of the county to qualify for the 2012 Nations Cup. And true to his word, Nigeria qualified for the South Africa 2013 Nations Cup. The ‘Man in the Synagogue’ once again pronounced that Nigeria will beat Cote d’Ivoire in the quarterfinal stage against the fears of most Nigerians and the world in general, judging from the array of dreaded players in the Ivorian team which included Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure among others.

He did not stop at that, after his words came to past with the Super Eagles 2-1 victory over the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire, the ‘Man in the Synagogue’ said Nigeria will proceed to win the Cup.

Top officials NFF after the match, conveyed their deep-rooted appreciation to the ‘Man in the Synagogue’, for what they described as his special support for the Super Eagles leading up to the 2-1 defeat of the hitherto dreaded star-studded Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire.

Apparently on cloud nine, NFF top brass and Coordinator of the Super Eagles, Emmanuel Atta, was lavish with encomiums on the ‘Man in the Synagogue’ for what he described as “his wonderful role in the 2-1 defeat of Cote d’Ivoire”.

Moments after the encounter, Attah sent out sms messages to the ‘Man in the Synagogue’ thanking him for standing solidly behind the Eagles in the game.

“We’re very appreciative of him. He was wonderful and we can’t thank him enough,” Attah screamed excitedly.

“He was fervent in his prayers for the team. We observed all that he asked us to do, starting from a day before the game. This is a special victory for the team and the nation and we cannot thank God enough.”

Attah also expressed gratitude to Nigerians for their support and prayers for the senior national team. He assured that with more of such support, the Eagles will continue to work hard in order to make Nigerians happy.

Nigeria after the victory over Cote d’Ivoire crushed Guinea 4-1 in the semifinal and piped Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final to win the Nations Cup for the third time.

It is not surprising then that with few months to the commencement of the FIFA World Cup on Brazil, Nigerians are now beaming their searchlight for success at the World Cup at the feet of the ‘Man in the Synagogue.

‘NFF officials should not wait till the last moment before contacting T.B. Joshua on the chances of the Super Eagles at the World Cup considering his past predictions on the team.

“If there is anything that needs to be done before the commencement of the World Cup, the NFF officials should do that now base on the words of the Man of God.

“It will be better if we can know our stand now and not struggling later at the dying minute when it will be too late,” said Jaiye Coker.

Ex-international, Taiwo Oloyede, said there is nothing wrong if the NFF officials can approach T.B. Joshua on the chances of the Super Eagles during the World Cup.

“There is nothing in doing that, after all, the man’s predictions in the past, have come to pass and so if he can be approached now it will be good for the team because we will know our chances at the World Cup.

“It will also help the players to prepare ahead of the mundial and guard against any evils that could thwart our chances of performing well at the World Cup,” said Oloyede.

A member of the SCOAN and former Team Manager of defunct Julius Berger Football Club of Lagos, Engr. Mactony Taiwo, said with God all things are possible and urged the Super Eagles to prepare very hard and well for the World Cup.

Taiwo however did not rule out the possibility of NFF officials visiting the ‘Man in the Synagogue’ for prayers for the team ahead of the World Cup.

“He is a man of God and there is nothing bad if NFF officials visit him for prayers for the team. More so, he has been close to the team in the past and rendered assistance through prayers.

“Doing so this time around will not be out of place especially if we must follow what the Bible says in Mathew 7:7 – “Ask and it shall be given unto you; seek and you shall find; knock and it will be opened unto u” .

“So, let NFF officials seek his help and ask for prayers for the team and let us wait for what will come out of it,” said Taiwo.

All said and done and with all the ‘Man in the Synagogue’ has done for the national teams and some of the players in the past years, it will not be out of place if he can tell us what is in store for the Super Eagles at Brazil 2014. It will also not be out of place if officials of the NFF led by its President, Aminu Maigari can seek his blessings before the commencement of the Mundial.

Better still, it will not be out of place if Stephen Keshi and his players can visit the SCOAN for divine intervention and blessings prior to the commencement of the World Cup or if the ‘Man in the Synagogue’ can visit the camp of the team for prayer sessions and blessings.

If all these can be done, Nigerians, especially football lovers will heave a sigh of relief and have the confidence in the Super Eagles before and during the World Cup in Brazil.

*Source Independent Newspaper Nigeria

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Nigeria’s Jonathan Vowed to Serve Single Term, Obasanjo Says
February 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan undertook before elections in 2011 to serve only one term as head of state, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said. “President Jonathan said, not only once, twice, publicly, not only inside Nigeria, outside Nigeria, that he would have one term, and said that to me,” Obasanjo said in an interview in London. Jonathan, a southern Christian, has been in power since his predecessor Umaru Yar’Adua died in office in 2010. When he won 2011 elections he broke an unwritten convention within the ruling People’s Democratic Party to rotate power between the south and the mainly Muslim north of Africa’s biggest oil producer. Jonathan, 56, has not yet said whether he intends to stand for re-election in a vote scheduled for 2015. “One of the things that is very important in the life of any man or any person, is that he will be a man or a person of his word,” Obasanjo said. “If you decide your word should not be taken seriously that’s entirely up to you.” Reuben Abati, Jonathan’s spokesman, couldn’t be reached on his mobile phone for comment as it was switched off. Obasanjo, who backed Jonathan’s presidential campaign four years ago, declined to say whether Jonathan should or shouldn’t stand for re-election. A former military ruler in the late 1970s, he later served two terms as elected president after military government ended in 1999. *Source Bloomberg]]>

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SkyVision wins 5-year contract with South Atlantic Petroleum, a leading Nigerian oil & gas provider, to install and manage its corporate voice and data services
February 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

skyvisionSkyVision Global Networks Ltd. (http://www.skyvision.net), a leading global communications provider, today announced the successful implementation of its project with SAPETRO (South Atlantic Petroleum), one of Nigeria’s major oil and gas upstream companies with new operations in Benin, which includes the installation of a full suite of SkyVision connectivity solutions in Benin and the ongoing management of the project. The 5-year contract consists of an end-to-end voice and data managed solution, based on multiple technologies, integration and professional services, creating unique value to customer operations. The project includes mesh VSAT and wireless point to multipoint connections for Sapetro’s offices and operational sites, mobile terrestrial units and vessels, coupled with the integration of SkyVision services, including Voice and Telephony over IP, two-way radios, mobile satellite phones, managed firewall and WiFi. As a leading oil and gas upstream company with operations in Benin, SAPETRO’s expertise includes oil and gas exploration with extensive development and production assets in the region. The company is recognized for its activities in sub-Saharan Africa underlined by its strong platform in Nigeria, the Republic of Benin and offshore East Africa. This partnership marks an important milestone for SkyVision and furthers SkyVision’s commitment to the oil and gas industry in Africa, one of the company’s main focus areas. Today, oil and gas business highly depends on reliable connectivity, in the field, and between remote branch offices. With crew safety as the industry’s #1 priority, SkyVision knows and understands that reliable information flow in both routine and emergency situations is the key to ensuring smooth, seamless and safe operations. SkyVision’s tailored solutions for the oil and gas industry are backed by the company’s strong local presence through its local offices and partners across Africa. Its global infrastructure and 24/7 Technical Assistance Centers and NOCs, provide SkyVision customers with the reliable connectivity and support they need. “As a leading oil and gas company with projects and interests throughout Africa, SAPETRO required a highly experienced and reliable partner that would deliver comprehensive services to meet its specific needs,” said Jean-Daniel Tragus, SkyVision Oil & Gas Sales Director. Commenting on the project, Martin Trachsel SAPETRO’s CEO said “We are thrilled to have engaged the services of SkyVision for this important project which is geared towards providing robust high-tech turnkey communication infrastructure to support our operations in the Sèmè Field. We found SkyVision’s comprehensive suite of services, technological expertise and pricing, a compelling offer and one which met our expectations”. “We greatly value this joint partnership with SAPETRO, a true leader in Africa’s oil and gas production industry. This important project win, marks SkyVision’s far-reaching commitment to oil and gas customers throughout Africa, as we further our commitment to delivering quality voice and data communications where they are needed most,” stated SkyVision COO, Golan Madar. “We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with SAPETRO and to providing them with reliable and efficient technologies and services, today, and well into the future.” SkyVision (http://www.skyvision.net) is a global communications service provider, offering comprehensive, integrated solutions to meet all corporate, government and telco market requirements. With an emphasis on its customers’ local or regional requirements, SkyVision offers superior network connectivity solutions. Known for its innovative approach, the company offers an extensive suite of both customized solutions and industry-standard services for end-to-end IP connectivity (http://www.skyvision.net/enterprise-solutions), managed from its international gateways and selected local hubs. SkyVision’s global-reaching network connects its customers to the Internet backbone with more than ten satellite platforms and a network of high-capacity fiber optic cables, via its gateways in Africa, Europe, North America and the Middle East as well as multiple points of presence (POPs) in Africa. SkyVision currently commands a satellite and fiber network IP connectivity (http://www.skyvision.net/service/fiber-solutions) spanning 100 countries. The company’s C-Band and Ku-Band VSAT network solutions (http://www.skyvision.net/services/lobby2/Internet%20Connectivity) draw on SkyVision’s extensive space segment inventory from leading satellite providers and its capacity is carefully tailored to customers’ individual needs for optimal cost-effectiveness. South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO) is a leading Nigerian oil and gas exploration and production company focused on creating value in the pursuit of rewarding exploration, development and production opportunities in Africa. SAPETRO continues its strategic growth in sub-Saharan Africa, while building lasting and beneficial partnerships. The company has a balanced portfolio of assets which provide a strong platform for growth, including Nigeria, as interest holders in deep-water OML 130 and OPL 246; Benin, with 100% operating interest in the Block 1 concession, including the Sèmè oilfield; East Africa, with majority operating interests in two contiguous deep-water blocks in the Mozambique Channel (Juan de Nova territory, and Belo Profond, Madagascar); and the Central African Republic, with operating interest in the Block C permit. SAPETRO holds significant acreage positions offshore East Africa and are well placed to play a leading role in one of the world’s major emerging hydrocarbon provinces. * Source SkyVision Global Networks Ltd./APO]]>

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Does Nigeria really need a ‘Sovereign National Conference’?
February 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Zainab Usman*   [caption id="attachment_8393" align="alignleft" width="300"]APC members have called the Sovereign National Conference a “diversionary” tactic to avoid tackling Nigeria’s real problems. APC members have called the Sovereign National Conference a “diversionary” tactic to avoid tackling Nigeria’s real problems.[/caption] In a few weeks, Nigerians across ethnic and regional divides will be gathering at a roundtable to discuss critical national issues. The imperative for this National Conference as a necessary discussion over Nigeria’s future was underscored by the President, Goodluck Jonathan, in his Independence Daycommemoration address in October 2013. No doubt, there is need for consensus among the country’s distinct ethnic and religious groups on critical governance issues such as the structure of government, federalism, revenue distribution, political representation and power sharing. Whether the National Conference taking place this year is capable of addressing Nigeria’s perennial existential problems is another question. The clamour for a national dialogue among Nigeria’s over 350 ethno-linguistic groups has been as old as the country itself, since the aftermath of the first military coup in 1966. Frequently called a ‘Sovereign National Conference’ (SNC), this roundtable discussion is regarded as the elixir to pervasive corruption, ethnic chauvinism, conflict and perversion of the rule of law all, of which have stifled economic development, social harmony and the forging of a collective Nigerian identity. The inflamed emotions in the debate for and against an SNC in the Nigerian public sphere inhibit a dispassionate interrogation of its practicality or necessity. For proponents, a national dialogue is a bottom-up democratic opportunity for many Nigerians to participate in nation-building in an otherwise exclusionary political system dominated by a handful of elites. These include the military and key players in the coups of 1966 who are the major power brokers today, their associates, powerful state governors, an increasingly powerful business class and media moguls. Gani Fawehinmi, a vociferous SNC advocate once lamented that Nigerians “never had the opportunity to make inputs into, accept or reject any constitutional framework through a referendum”. The national conversation is thus a catalytic opportunity for Nigerians to “negotiate the terms” of living together, within a contraption of British colonialism. In this pro-SNC camp are ethnic associations, marginalised politicians, activists, youth associations and other groups excluded from the power circle. Those opposing the National Conference argue that it is incapable of addressing Nigeria’s problems which are outcomes of governance, leadership and rule of law failures. Spending N7 billion ($42 million) towards yet another summit by a country with the highest number of out-of-school children in the world is regarded as “wasteful” by the Labour Union president and “diversionary”, by the main opposition party, the APC. Others regard it as an instrument for attaining a nefarious agenda by the specific government in power. This “agenda” covers a wide gamut of allegations from tenure elongation and covert constitutional amendment to regional domination and secession. Unsurprisingly, the expectations of what a National Conference can or cannot achieve range from the pragmatic to the utopian. It is not uncommon to hear the “we must talk” refrain in the wake of a Boko Haram attack, a kidnapping incident or a grand corruption scandal. As usual, the debates are laced with the poisonous sectional prejudices which normally characterise the country’s public discourse. What is paradoxical however, is the very elitist nature of the discourse over a summit aimed at inclusive nation-building. A recent opinion poll revealed that nearly 9 in 10 (88%) Nigerians are not aware of the call to constitute a sovereign national conference. Yet a pragmatic assessment of what the forthcoming National Conference can achieve against the huge expectations is necessary. For now, it is unlikely that it will create the needed national consensus on key issues in the country for two reasons. First it doesn’t seem markedly different from previous ones. Nigeria’s independence was the outcome of a series of negotiations between elite in the Northern and Southern regions mediated by British colonial administrators at conferences in Lagos and London in the late 1950s. Others include constitutional conferences organised by the military regimes of Muhammed-Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha, and the National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) organised by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 2005. Each conference has promised to address Nigeria’s critical problems but delivered so little. Resolutions incorporated into national laws, such as state creation or protection of minorities, have been insufficient in addressing sectional grievances or are just ignored. It does beg the question, if previous conferences have achieved little, what makes the latest incarnation different? Previous National Conferences have been ineffective in addressing Nigeria’s existential challenges because they have been reactionary rather than proactive. Right from the first truly sovereign dialogue by military rulers in 1967 in Aburi, Ghana, in the aftermath of the bloody coups of 1966, these conferences have been crisis-management instruments hurriedly organised to stem imminent crisis or to further a specific political agenda on the eve of a political transition. Consequently, their reactionary nature hinder the conferences’ effectiveness in finding enduring solutions to resource distribution, the fear of domination, effective political representation and other contentious matters. While General Abacha’s National Constitutional Conference (NCC) was a reaction to the simmering crisis of the June 1993 elections annulment, Obasanjo’s in 2005 was widely regarded as a platform for realising an extra third term in office beyond the constitutionally permitted two terms. Now Goodluck Jonathan, treading a well-worn path is organising his own National Conference on the eve of the 2015 elections. This is not to entirely dismiss the potentially beneficial outcomes of a national dialogue in Nigeria. In the past, these have included: the 1979 constitution which provided for a presidential system of government and laid the foundation of the country’s current constitution, the delineation of the six geo-political zones in the country by General Abacha’s conference and allocating more revenue to the oil-producing Niger-Delta states by Obasanjo’s conference. Yet the knotty issues which push Nigeria teetering on the precipice remain unresolved. Notwithstanding, the forthcoming National Conference may present an opportunity to mitigate the country’s growing polarisation since the 2011 elections and prevent future political crises. This would require the roundtable to negotiate robust and acceptable power-sharing formula among Nigeria’s regions, ethnic and religious groups. This is because the country’s political crises are mostly rooted in the turbulence of political transitions where political institutions are subverted to further the despotic agenda of an individual or the dominance of a particular group. The Obasanjo Third Term Saga in 2005-2006 and the turbulence that threatened Goodluck Jonathan’s ascension to the presidency in 2010 are recent instances. A power sharing formula in Nigeria has been previously proposed, where top executive positions rotate periodically around all six regions to give every part of the country a fair shot. Another variant could be modelled along the Federal Council of Switzerland where the office of the President as the head of state is replaced with a six-member presidential council representing all regions to reduce the individual executive’s discretionary powers and the violent competition for that position. This de-concentration of powers away from one individual will blunt tensions over political transitions, assure all Nigerians of their region’s legitimate ‘turn’ at the highest level of leadership and may lay the foundation for constructing a collective national identity. As previous National Conferences have shown, systemic challenges such as revenue allocation formula and devolution of powers to sub-national governments cannot be fully addressed within one summit but require an incremental process of consensus-building at the National Assembly over the long term. Addressing surface problems such as corruption, insecurity and disregard for the rule of law is not contingent on the creation of new laws. It requires unwavering political commitment and reforms of existing institutions, anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies. Clearly, Nigerians need to forge a consensus on key existential issues that perennially plunge the country into crisis. Yet it is difficult not to wonder whether yet another talk shop is the only means of reaching consensus. Or whether a President in the twilight of his term in office, facing intense opposition from within his party and without, is capable of organising a National Conference that will sincerely address Nigeria’s deep structural political problems. *Source African Arguments.Zainab Usman is a doctoral candidate in International Development, University of Oxford.]]>

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Did Nigerian military splits help Boko Haram?
February 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

But will the new leaders make any difference? But will the new leaders make any difference?[/caption]

As dozens of bodies were being buried in north-east Nigeria following yet more attacks on Sunday by suspected Islamist militants, President Goodluck Jonathan was about to make a surprising statement acknowledging serious lapses within his own armed forces.

He suggested the military operation against the group popularly known as Boko Haram had at times been undermined by divisions within the security forces. Two weeks after dismissing the heads of the Army, Air Force and Navy, President Jonathan has now called on the newly appointed military chiefs to cooperate.

“Sometimes we used to hear some kind of mutual competition among the army chiefs and security personnel,” he said at the opening of Air Force Secondary School in Yola, Adamawa State – one of three states under a state of emergency due to the Islamist rebellion.

“But this time around we will not tolerate any unnecessary competition that will bring retrogression to this country.” A special advisor to President Jonathan later denied that “unhealthy competition” was the reason the military chiefs had been fired. “The president has nothing but praise for the manner in which the outgoing service chiefs did their job in very challenging circumstances,” read a statement from Reuben Abati. Nevertheless Mr Jonathan has for the first time admitted that during the fight against Boko Haram serious mistakes have been made that have left him far from impressed. Moment of shame In early December, Islamist militants attacked the Air Force base in the city of Maiduguri destroying two attack helicopters – a strike right at the heart of the nation’s military might. During his speech in Yola, Mr Jonathan recalled the awkward moment when, following this attack, a journalist had asked him: “Mr president is it not shameful?” The Nigerian leader said he later turned to his then Chief of Defence Staff and asked: “If you were me, how would you have felt?” “I believe we will no longer experience that kind of situation. That happened because of some obvious lapses,” he told the audience in Yola. He said that with a new Chief of Defence Staff working with “properly briefed” colleagues, “the Nigerian Armed Forces will be a different Armed Forces”. The question remains: How many lives could have been saved had it not been for the unhealthy competition and mistakes which the president referred to?

There have been signs that the forces fighting Boko Haram needed reorganising.

Initially the military offensive was carried out by the Joint Task Force or JTF – a combined unit made up of all the armed forces and the police. In August, the JTF was disbanded and the entire operation was handed to a newly created army division. As if to defend its military effort, the outgoing JTF spokesman told the world that the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, had just been killed. He has since appeared very much alive in video recordings gloating over Boko Haram attacks. Then came the surprise on 16 January when all the military chiefs were fired by the president. Some analysts believe the shake-up was not carried out purely for security reasons but was in part a political move aimed at securing support ahead of the 2015 elections. Although President Jonathan has not publicly stated his intention to run, his assumed ambition to seek re-election has created a split in the governing party prompting defections to the opposition. Throats slit It is not hard to see that the current strategy against Boko Haram is failing some communities in north-east Nigeria. Sunday’s attack on a market and homes in Borno State’s Kawuri Village left more than 50 people dead. None of the survivors mentioned any resistance or counter attack by the military to save the vulnerable population. They spoke of dead bodies littering the streets and hundreds of homes being torched. The military has refused to comment on the attack, instead referring journalists to the police but there are many unanswered questions. How, for example, is it that the insurgents were able to drive into Kawuri in a large convoy of vehicles, carry out an attack for several hours and leave? On the same day there were scenes of horror at a church in Waga Chakawa village in neighbouring Adamawa State. [caption id="attachment_8383" align="alignright" width="300"]Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau (C) has appeared in several video recordings in recent months despite claims he had been killed by the military Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau (C) has appeared in several video recordings in recent months despite claims he had been killed by the military[/caption] Suspected Boko Haram militants locked the doors, shot anyone that tried to escape through the windows and then slit the throats of the congregation. More than 30 people were killed, including children. “We need a greater security presence around that area,” said Stephen Mamza Dami, the Bishop of Yola, after the attack. “The new military chiefs should be given full power to take control of the situation. If politics gets involved in it there is no way it can be controlled,” he told the BBC. Boko Haram has in the past stated it was fighting to create an Islamic State but some Nigerians believe there are politicians who stand to gain from the insurgency. The Bishop of Yola pointed to a forced exodus of Christians following repeated attacks on residents of Gwoza close to the Cameroonian border. “If the Christians there are wiped out completely, then there is no way a Christian can ever be elected even as a councillor in that area,” he added, suggesting the attacks could be a way of getting rid of political rivals. Security analysts believe that, to contain the insurgency, there needs to be far greater cooperation between Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad as the militants are taking advantage of their porous borders. Setting deadlines for an end to the conflict is widely viewed as harmful. When Air Marshal Alex Badeh was given the top job of Chief of Defence staff this month, he stated that the insurgency must end by April. “Such statements are like a red rag to a bull,” said international relations analyst Aderemi Oyewumi. “They lead to more damage being inflicted. No timelines should be given. They should get on with the job, keep their heads down,” he said, adding that the importance of the armed forces working together cannot be overemphasized. Perhaps it was no coincidence that the church attack was in Air Marshall Badeh’s home state of Adamawa. Some analysts suggest it was a response to the chest-thumping statement of yet another deadline. *Source BBC]]>

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Anti-gay law: Nigeria accuses U.S, U.K, others of ‘double standards’
February 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

Gays and their collaborators now risk 14 years in jail in Nigeria Gays and their collaborators now risk 14 years in jail in Nigeria[/caption] The Nigerian Government has accused western nations of double standards over a new law banning same-sex marriages. President Goodluck Jonathan endorsed the new law in January, effectively criminalizing same-sex marriages and public show of same-sex affection. Nigeria has faced intense criticisms mainly from the United States and the United Kingdom over the legislations. The two countries have accused the government of violating the peoples’ rights. Nigeria’s acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Viola Onwuliri, said such criticisms stem from the “double standards” of the West. Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the sidelines of the just concluded AU summit, Ms. Onwuliri said President Jonathan signed the law in the interest of Nigerians and democracy. “What happened in Nigeria is democracy in action and it will really be unfortunate that people who are talking about democracy when they now see democracy work, they want us to go against democracy,” she said. “Is democracy for pick and choose? When it suites them they want us to do good governance and democracy, but when it does not suit them they want us to go against the democracy that has been put in place. “The National Assembly took a decision, the National Assembly is the face of democracy in Nigeria, they are the representatives of the people, they form the voice of the people and they have spoken,’’ she said. The European Union, Canada and the United States have criticised the new law, saying it negates the fundamental human rights of individuals enshrined in the Nigeria constitution. On the situation in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, the minister said Nigeria strongly backs the AU and regional groups’ role in demanding the return of peace and stability in the regions. “Nigeria has taken a position on the need for peaceful resolutions in conflict situations in Africa, safety of lives and property and ensuring that women and children are safe in conflict areas,’’ she said. The minister acknowledged that there had been demands for Nigeria to contribute troops to the African- led International Mission (MISCA) in the Central African Republic (CAR). “The decision (to deploy troops to CAR) is for the president and commander-in-chief, but it’s not something new to us because Nigeria has been involved in peacekeeping since the 1960s.’’ Around 5,500 AU troops taking part in the MISCA peacekeeping mission have been joined by 1,600 French soldiers in the CAR. In November, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, told the UN Security Council that a UN force of up to 9,000 troops and 1,700 police could be needed in CAR. NAN reports that at the just concluded 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU in Ethiopia, Nigeria pledged 1.5million dollars to support MISCA. Nigeria also donated two million dollars to Africa Solidarity Initiative, an AU initiative that supports reconstruction and development in Africa countries emerging from conflict. (NAN) *Source Premium Times]]>

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Never Imagined I Would Be A Pastor’s Wife – Liz Benson Bares It All
February 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

She is one of the most talented and gracious actresses to have come out of the Nigerian movie industry. Liz Benson rode the movie industry from the 90s like a colossus.   Having featured in countless of movies, the beautiful thespian and mother was one of those that made the Nollywood brand what it is today. Now a minister of God and married to Bishop Great Ameye of Freedom Family Assembly in 2009, Liz spoke to SAMUEL ABULUDE on her new world of reaching souls for God, meeting her hubby and her new movie project. How is Liz Benson-Ameye doing? To God be the Glory. My husband has made the home comfortable for me. But the joy of people coming to you and saying pastor this is what is going on, this is what is happening and I counsel them with the word of God and they put it to practise. Oh my God, it gives me joy! And I tell them when you are doing well, when you are prospering, when you have answers to questions, I’m filled with joy. I’m fulfilled serving people and changing lives. Apart from these when you are filled with God and God is working in your life and you are in total obedience to God your maker, the assurance in heaven is something you can’t quantify. For me, I’m very comfortable with it. Did you ever imagine being a pastor’s wife? I tell you what? No one knows what tomorrow holds for him or her. I carried the heart of someone that wants to serve God but I never thought it will turn out this way. In 2001, I was in a thanksgiving service at Faith Foundation Church, made a testimony and I left although I had the mind of a minister of the gospel then. Bishop Sam Amaga and his wife came to my house one day and said, ‘Do you know there is a call of God in your life?’ I looked at them and responded, ‘God has made those he wants to use and I don’t think I’m part of them.’ I found out later that many of the servants of God that God wants to use never said I want to be this, I want to be that. But they just find out that the more you love God, the more you get closer to him, God will want to use you and qualify you for his work. And for someone like me, you just find out that God moves you from place to place. I was just preaching in places like Allen Avenue back then. Two ladies saw me then and bore witness of my early days preaching around the place. One of them who acted in Twinkle sometime ago reminded me when she saw me at the airport sometime ago. She said she remembered that I came to her shop at Emporium Plaza at Allen, Ikeja to preach to her customers. So I used to do that a lot in those days when God started with me. So how did you meet your husband, Bishop Ameye? God did it. It was by divine arrangement. God was speaking through many people just like he used the donkey in the Bible. God used different witnesses to guide me. I was there waiting and he was there also waiting. I never expected such. And even after we met and he proposed, I still was running (She laughs). I still was running and where I was running to, a woman of God stopped me and asked me where I was running to. ‘You are running from your husband?’ The things of God eh, they are such that if you run from it, it doesn’t make it go away. When God takes a hold of you and you run away from it a million times, he will still ask you to do the assignment. The calling of God is such that you will have to surrender and all that. How fulfilling are you now compared to your days as an actress? I can’t put it in a box. I can’t really describe how it feels now but it is one of the most fulfilling times of my life. Being available to God, to humanity and doing something that is touching lives. In one way or another, you are investing in the lives of people and seeing that effect on them is most fulfilling. Doing what pleases your maker is fulfilling both to you and God. You may not have the billions but God has his own reward system and it surpasses the way of the world. God is most gracious and most sufficient. Did you ever see yourself different from being a star actress? Let me put it this way, a lot see the other side of me as a celebrity, star actress but two people that I call friends knew that I was always close to God. They knew Liz Benson as that kind of a person. In all the parties, I always go out and excuse myself to pray. We gather here, I live whatever we are doing to pray. So, it’s been like that for me. I know it couldn’t go on for a very long time. I had to do things my own way not conforming to their standards. I think that was why my friends saw me a bit strange because I couldn‘t do certain things and fit into some area of our activities. And there are so many of us like that. There are a lot of people who are hiding under the cover of activities, showbiz and all that but they know that they have a personal relationship with God and are hiding this. But I know God will catch up with them the way He did to me. Between yesterday’s Nollywood and today’s Nollywood, how will you rate it? We now have the wherewithal, the financial wherewithal; some of the equipment we have now we never had before. When I look at the directing, even the editing, I feel that a thorough job is done. The directors are doing well. In terms of movie production, there is still a lot of infrastructure that we don’t have yet. What attracted you to be part of the Living Funeral movie? The movie is about breast cancer and it is a disease that its awareness has not reached home yet. I have been in a situation where the people are very religious and they talk about which side of the bed they slept last night. And I called someone, ‘let them check her blood pressure. It was 200 over! I told her, mama what you need is rest.’ Another woman came to me and she had pain in her breast. Immediately, I swung into action and this was before I became involved in this project. I took her to the teaching hospital so that they could find out what was wrong with her. I told her not to deceive them and tell them exactly what was wrong with her. And they operated on her and now she is living well. She came in about three years ago to thank me. ‘Mama I thank God for you oh. Ignorance fit kill me person oh.’ If not that I was involved in her life, maybe we will be saying something else. So it’s not just preaching the word, preaching the word, preaching the word. But being able to reach out to people and save lives. And things like this movie project, Living Funeral, are also a means by which I can reach people and impact lives. So I’ve not gone out of acting completely. It’s just that when you have a ministry, we are all gifted in different ways and when things like this come. It is something that makes me to do a lot of good to my fellow brethren and women especially. So when situations like this happen it is not only the patient or victim of cancer that suffers it but the whole family, the whole community. So, I’m here to promote a worthy cause. If I say something here, I mean it and when my assistance is needed to propagate a just cause, I will gladly do. When it comes to your movies what are your fond memories? I always have the movies that I fancy based on experience but it is the viewer that can judge that because they all have their favourite. But for me, every production brings its own challenges that come with it. I deal with them in their own way. I can’t place a hand. But if I want to take into account, Living Funeral is it because I’m doing something as a minister of the gospel that projects my faith and tells a good moral story. I was moved and shaken by the movie. Some of the lines of the scripts are killing. I can’t even place what it is about the movie but the story line is touching and the movie has fetched us eight nominations in Africa Magic Video Choice Awards AMVCA including Liz Benson-Ameye being nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama. So viewers should go to www.amvcaawards.com/nomineeslist to vote us in. I just thank God for giving me the grace to act in such movies. Life itself has its challenges. Even if there are some hurdles there, you will always survive them. I have so much work to do in God’s vineyard. To God be the glory, Now I can only appear in movies that have to do with humanity and preach good tidings. For me, the moral standard is what I deal in right now. The best, depth and height of every human being and endeavour are all in the Bible. Even the most spoken words in history are taken from the Word of God. For me it is God because movie roles, boyfriend, girlfriend, romance and all that are no longer for me. The most recent one that we are projecting is in the bible. That’s why I’m saying that it just have to be God standard or nothing. What are the things people don’t know about Liz Ameye? I don’t know, it is for the people to say not me. I think one of the issues is being able to deal with issue the way it comes and allow God to have control of your life. *Source Naija.com]]>

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Atiku quits PDP, joins APC
February 2, 2014 | 2 Comments

AFTER CONSULTATION, IT IS TIME TO MOVE TO APC. LET THE BRIDGE-BUILDING CONTINUE AtikuIn 2006, as a result of my firm stand in defence of our constitution and our democracy, my supporters and I were pushed out of our party, the Peoples Democratic Party, a party that we worked tirelessly with other compatriots to build as a vehicle to restore democracy to our country. We later returned to that party in 2009 when a new leadership of the party and the country promised a new direction, a direction of inclusiveness, of internal democracy, of an end to impunity, adherence to the rule of law and respect for the dignity of members and Nigerians. Sadly, however, those promises have not been kept. In addition, the PDP continues to be beset with many crises, mostly leadership-induced crises. It has since lost touch with Nigerians and efforts made by many well-meaning members and stakeholders to bring it back to the vision of the founders have been rebuffed. To demonstrate the seriousness of the challenges and bring public attention to it I and some other leaders and stakeholders staged a walkout during the party’s last convention in Abuja. As I speak, most of the issues that led to that walk-out are yet to be addressed. Many founding members of the PDP, I included, continue to be marginalized and excluded from the affairs of the party. For instance as a former Vice President, I am by virtue of the PDP constitution, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees and its National Executive Committee. However, I am not invited to the meetings of those organs nor consulted on their decisions, apparently because I dared to exercise my right to contest in the party’s primary election for a chance to be its flag-bearer in the 2011 elections. We have, therefore, concluded that that party cannot be redeemed. In short the PDP has abandoned Nigerians, the very people who gave it life and many electoral victories. More worrisome though is the danger posed to the continued existence of this country by this culture of impunity and arbitrariness. We continue to have threats from officially protected political extremists. Increasingly our people are recklessly being divided along the lines of religion, ethnicity and region for political gains. Our history and that of many other countries in Africa and Eastern Europe ought to teach us that this is very dangerous and must stop. We can and we must do better. Our people deserve better. It is against this background that we should understand the visit by the leaders of the APC and their invitation to me to join hands with them to save the country. Consequently, I have been consulting my supporters and associates, my family and friends for the past few weeks. My decision may not satisfy some of my friends and associates. In the end, however, I have to put the interest of our country first. This country has done so much for me personally and it deserves all that we can do to help rebuild it and serve our people better. Following this extensive consultative process, I have, therefore, decided to cast my lot with the APC, a party of change committed to the improvement of the lives of our people and to the continued existence and development of Nigeria as one indivisible country. My resignation letter as a member of the PDP will be delivered to the party tomorrow. This is the right decision. As in 2006 it is the struggle for democracy and constitutionalism and service to my country and my people that are driving my choice and my decision. Let me emphasize that this is not about me. We have to have a country before people can aspire to lead it, but as it is today we may be losing this country. That is not acceptable. I encourage my political associates and friends to register and join the APC once the registration exercise commences, so that together we can change this country for the better. The process of building a nation, of securing and deepening democracy is indeed difficult. And it is not a lineal process. There would be alignment and realignment of political forces. There would be ups and downs and zig-zags, triumphs and challenges. Amidst all that, patriots must remain focused and do what has to be done to save and build the country and serve our people better. That is what I have decided to do. I will do all within my God-given powers to help the APC win elections all over Nigeria and bring true change to our country and its long-suffering people. Thank you and God bless Nigeria. Atiku Abubakar, GCON (Turaki Adamawa) Former Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.]]>

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Transcorp, GE partner to improve power generation in Nigeria
February 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

Agreements will dramatically increase capacity at the Ughelli power plant in 2014 tony-elumeluTranscorp Ughelli Power Ltd (TUPL), the power subsidiary of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp), and General Electric (GE) have signed an agreement to expand the capacity of TUPL’s Ughelli power plant by1000MW over the next 3 to 5 years. Both parties have also signed a separate agreement to rehabilitate the damaged GT 15 turbine at the Ughelli plant, which will add 115MW to the plant’s output. Currently, the Transcorp Ughelli power plant generates 360MW of electricity, up from 160MW on November 1, when Transcorp took ownership of the plant. With the additional 115MW, as well as other rehabilitation works planned at the plant, output at Ughelli will increase to 700MW by December 2014. The Ughelli power plant is Nigeria’s largest gas-fired electricity generation asset.  Purchased by Transcorp during the 2013power privatization programme, the $300 million plant is part of the $2.5 billion investment pledge made by the Chairman of Transcorp and Heirs Holdings (http://www.heirsholdings.com), Tony O. Elumelu, CON, to deliver affordable, accessible power to Africa under the Power Africa Initiative. Heirs Holdings, Elumelu’s pan-African proprietary investment company, is Power Africa’s largest private sector investor and a major investor in Transcorp. The agreements were signed at a closed door meeting between executives of both companies, led by Elumelu and the Global Chairman of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt. They follow a cooperation agreement executed by Transcorp and GE in 2013. Commenting, Elumelu said, “We are very pleased to work with GE, a proven world leader in power technology development, on the Ughelli plant expansion project.  With this, we’ve taken a bold step in fulfilling our promise to Transcorp’s stakeholders and the people of Nigeria. In a very short period of time, we have achieved significant impact – power production has more than doubled, and with this agreement, we will see increased output before the end of this year. We are confident that this partnership with GE will further accelerate the achievement of our goals in the power sector.” Immelt said,” GE fully appreciates the confidence expressed by Transcorp. We are happy to bring the considerable resources of GE to support Transcorp’s audacious vision for Nigeria’s Power industry. This partnership with Transcorp underlines GE’s deep commitment to developing the Nigerian power sector.” A publicly listed conglomerate with strategic investments in the power, hospitality, business and energy sectors, Transcorp, through TUPL, is committed to transform and bring the plant to profitability by increasing its generating capacity to impact positively on the socio-economic development of Nigeria. GE, one of the world’s most reputable companies is the global leader in the design, manufacture, supply, installation and maintenance of technology and services for the Power, Aviation, Oil & Gas, Healthcare and Transportation sectors. About Transcorp Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp) is a publicly quoted conglomerate with a diversified shareholder base of over 300,000 investors, the most prominent of which is Heirs Holdings Limited, a pan-African proprietary investment company. The Transcorp portfolio comprises strategic investments in the power, hospitality, agribusiness and energy sectors. Our notable businesses include Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja; Transcorp Hotels, Calabar; Teragro Commodities Limited, operator of Teragro Benfruit plant – Nigeria’s first-of-its-kind juice concentrate plant; Transcorp Ughelli Power Limited and Transcorp Energy Limited, operator of OPL 281. For more information about Transcorp, please visithttp://www.transcorpnigeria.com About Heirs Holdings Limited Heirs Holdings (http://www.heirsholdings.com) is a pan-African proprietary investment company driving Africa’s development. We are active long-term investors who specialise in building businesses and corporate turnaround. We aim to transform the companies in which we invest and grow them into businesses that last. We invest in Africa to create value for our shareholders and partners, and to create economic prosperity and social wealth for the continent.  Our investments in power, financial services, oil and gas, real estate and hospitality, agri-business and healthcare are helping to build economies, create jobs, drive prosperity and ultimately transform the lives of ordinary Africans in Africa. For more information about Heirs Heirs Holdings, please visithttp://www.heirsholdings.com About GE GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter, using the best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges, finding solutions in energy, health and home, transport and finance, building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company’s website at http://www.ge.com. SOURCE Heirs Holdings/APO]]>

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Nigeria To Convene 492-Man “National Conference” In 2014
January 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

The federal government of Nigeria today announced the modalities for the proposed but controversial National Dialogue, which it said would now be known as “The National Conference” and feature 492 delegates. Speaking to journalists in Abuja, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, said that all Socio-Political and Nationality Groups in the country have been given 15 slots from each Geo-Political zone just as five political parties will get 2 slots each in the proposed National Conference. The slots are limited to the political parties that have representation in the National Assembly, which are the Peoples Democratic Party, the All Progressives Congress, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, the Accord Party and the Labour Party. Giving other details of the National Conference, which will hold in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Anyim said: “It shall last for 3 months and shall discuss any subject matter, except the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation, therefore the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable. The decision at the National Conference shall be by consensus; but where it is not achievable; it shall be by 75% majority. It shall advise the Government on the legal framework, legal procedure and options for integrating the decision and outcomes of the National Conference into the constitution and laws of the country and the Conference shall have a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson of unimpeachable integrity.” He further stated that January 30- February 20 will be for nomination of delegates, and that the inauguration of the conference will follow soon after the conclusion of the delegates list. Giving a breakdown of the composition of delegates, he said they would be as follows: Federation Government of Nigeria (20) and 6 must be women Nigeria Labour Congress (12) Trade Union Congress (12) Civil Society Organisations (24) Military (6)1 per Geo-Political Zone Police (6)1 per Geo-Political Zone State Security and NIA (6) 1 per Geo-Political  zone National Council for Women Society (NCWS) – (12) 2 per Geo-political zonel Market Women Associations (6)—1 per Geo-Political zone FIDA, NAWOJ, WINBIZ—(6) —1 per organization Elder Statesmen –(37) — 1 per State  and FCT NECA —(2) MAN—(2) NACCIMA (2) NESG (2) NUJ –(2) Nigerian Guild of Editors (2) Newspapers Proprietors Association  (2) People Living with Disabilities (6) 1 per Geo-Political zone Christian Leaders (6) Muslim Leaders (6) Traditional Rulers  (13) 2 per zone + 1 from FCT ) Retired Civil Servants  (6)  1 per zone National Youth Council of Nigeria (6) NANS  (6) Other (Outsatnding Youths and Role Models) (6) Nigerians in Diaspora (Europe,America Africa, Asia and Middle East)  (6) 2 per location Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (2) Socio –Political/Cultural and Ethnic Nationality Groups  (90)  15 per Geo-Political zone,nomination should reflect Ethnic and Religious Diversities. Professional Bodies : (13) NBA,NSE,CIB,NMA,NIM,NIA,ICAN, ANAN,NIPR,AAPN,NIESV, Nigerian Environmental Society   (1 per organization) National Academy: (5) Academy of Science Academy of Engineering Academy of Education Academy of Letters Academy of Social Sciences     (1 per Academy) Judiciary (6) person not currently serving on the Bench Former Political Office Holders: Former Governors (6) Senators Forum (6) House of Reps. Forum (6) Association of Former Speakers(6) State Government and FCT  (109)  3per State and 1 for FCT based on Senatorial District at least one of whom shall be a woman . Former LGA Chairmen (6) 1 per Geo-Political zone Chairmen ,Deputy Chair and Secretary  (3)  Geo-Political spread to be observed  .   *Nomination of these delegates shall be done by the stakeholders of such group. *Source Sahara Reporters]]>

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Atiku Bombshell: I am making progress with Buhari, Tinubu
January 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

MR. Vice President, which party do you  belong to? Which party?  Well, let me tell you a story. Immediately after our nomination after the Jos convention of our party, I arranged a meeting between the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, governors-elect and Olusegun Obasanjo where we solicited their support.  The then governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, spoke on behalf of the ANPP governors and he said they would support him because I was involved and that they had had dealings with me in the past. Then we arranged another meeting with the Alliance for Democracy, AD, governors’elect and after the meeting they said they would support him because of me. After the two meetings, he called me aside and asked, Mr. Vice President, which party do you really belong to?  We met ANPP governors they said you are with them; we met AD governors they said you are with them; so which party do you belong to?  I hope that answers your question. But seriously speaking, Nigerians would want to know where you stand now? My brother, it is not just about political party now.  It is about saving the situation that Nigeria has found herself. It is not about elections or offices to be occupied. It is about the political parties obeying the Constitution of Nigeria and also obeying their own constitution that there must be elections and nothing else. I went to court to challenge Obasanjo when he said we could do it by consensus or by affirmation. A Federal High Court pronounced that there must be voting by casting of ballot and not just affirmation.  And I told him that everyone he wanted elected, I had gotten the person elected so why was he afraid of an election. He said he agreed but consensus was another way of doing it.  We got one person each from the zones to support the case but he knew that once we got that judgment, it would mean that all his actions of that executive would be null and void … (he makes a gesticulatory posture of being elbowed out of contention). (Laughter followed) It is about the parties being guided by their own constitution and not until you can produce the right leadership that would allow that, we would continue from one crisis to another. How do you see Mu’azu succeeding as PDP chairman? Before Mu’azu was made chairman, he came to me and we spoke. But I told him that much as he is passionate, he may not be able to do the job he has been given. Almost all the founding fathers of the party have left. As for Mu’azu, I reminded him that I brought him into the party and I funded his governborship election in 1999 and I do not know what he would come and preach to me about the party. And our brother Bamangar Tukur, I once asked him on the eve of our convention if he was in charge of the party. I asked why the convention planning committee and the sub-committees were prepared for him from the Villa? In our own time, the party handled all that and it was robust. We could agree that the PDP may not be healthy but the APC itself is having problems. Look at Shekarau running up and down. Now he is in PDP.  Even you, you were in AC, mind you? APC is a completely new experiment. I say this because in 2009, I initiated the formation of another strong party like the PDP, even while still there. I visited General Buhari, I spoke to my brother here, Asiwaju; I spoke to Bafarawa on the other side, and we came together and set up a committee and we almost came to an agreement. Registration certificate The day we were to sign was when Buhari produced the registration certificate of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC. (laughter). The whole thing collapsed. Then in 2011, even within PDP, I said there was a need for a strong opposition so I initiated an alliance between CPC and ACN.  We came to almost signing an agreement – IBB, Adamu Ciroma, Aliyu Gusau, we were the brokers – to exchange letters, Buhari withdrew; that one collapsed. Believe me if there was that electoral alliance, there would be no PDP today forming government because Buhari would have brought the votes from the North West to add to the votes from the South West. So, when I visited Buhari last week, I went through all these with him and I asked him if he agreed with me that we would all lose if he didn’t and he said ‘yes, now I agree.’ I said you did it in 2007, you failed; in 2011, you did it again you failed, I failed, everybody failed. I asked if he agreed that if we all come together it would be better he said he agreed. So, APC is a completely new experiment, just like when PDP was formed, it was thought to be unthinkable because we came from the SDP and some from the NRC – right of left and left of right. APC has the chance of succeeding if well managed and I concede to you that really, politicians have lost a lot of credibility in the last year or two. So, really, there is need for politicians to re-invent themselves so that the credibility they have lost, can be regained. Last night I told Asiwaju and we agreed that General Buhari is now becoming a politician unlike before. Now, Asiwaju said he is more democratized and now, you can sit down and he is not rigid like before. There is hope for this country. Obviously you are interested in the presidency? Let’s not talk about the presidency. Let us talk about Nigeria and Nigerians. Believe me it is not an issue of presidency. I don’t have to be president to serve the people. If you are passionate about your country you cannot but feel concerned about what is going on and you want to be part of the process. Okay let me assume that you want to be president? No. Assume that I don’t want to be president. (laughter) Because this is the starting ground; and both General Buhari and I have said we should forget the presidency. I say so because of the crisis that may come up during the contest for the ticket I don’t see that happening because we have all agreed that it would be a fair contest. Having said all these, what is the way forward? The best way forward is to give Nigerians the ability to change from one party to the other so that they can compare one party to the other. Our case is not like that of Ghana where they can compare the then ruling party to the opposition that took over. My fear about one strong big ruling party is that we would be moving moré and more towards a dictatorship if we allow that to continue. I don’t want to see in my life a dictator. INEC time table, how should it have been structured. We have always said that one-day election is better and at a point in time INEC agreed but I don’t know why INEC back tracked. The crises in Rivers, the presidency and the President say they are not involved? I don’t believe the President and the presidency.  Obviously they have a hand in it. How do you explain a situation when a police commissioner is being transferred from one state to Rivers and on his way to his new destination he is called back. Who does that except the Presidency and the President is involved. But the IG is in charge? The IG? That is my problem with a situation where the security agencies are being used by a party in power or a government. That is not how it should be. Your associates are threatening to abandon you if you don’t abandon the PDP and they cite many reasons including non-invitation to some bodies of the party that you are statutorily supposed to be part of? They are right because in the past four years nobody has been communicating with me. And for a political animal like me, that is not right. I have not been attending all the meetings I am supposed to be attending – NEC, caucus, BoT.  It is true what they’ve said and I am still there. That is why I am going round and consulting with the people who have been with me in the last two decades and they have been consistent. It is a difficult situation. You talked about Mu’azu and his incapacitation to do the needful in terms of bringing the PDP back on track.  What if the President calls you to say we want to turn a new leaf? The issue is not about the President running or not running. I have been talking about the internal contradictions within the PDP. It is not about the President at all. There are inherent contradictions within the party. If the younger generation presents a candidate and that candidate wins, what is the big deal What we are saying is that there should be a democratic process instead of running round to short-circuit the process. In Benin, yesterday, somebody asked why I want to leave; and he gave the instance of Mugabe and he said, “why do you want to leave the PDP; at least you are still young and Mugabe is still in Zimbabwe ruling so don’t go anywhere; after Jonathan you can become President and I said it is not about presidency but about the common people in the country. *Source Vanguard Newspaper]]>

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“Project Atlantis will contribute in making Lagos look like Dubai”-Dr Gerhard Staats of The Nigerian Business Club
January 28, 2014 | 1 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L German and married to a Nigerian, investing in Nigeria is almost like an obsession when you talk to Dr Gerhard Staats. He is so passionate about Nigeria, fascinated by the dynamic people he sees each time he visits Nigeria but equally disappointed at the corruption, administrative bottle necks and the negative label imputed on the country by scammers that have give Nigeria a bad name. It has been challenging to set up shop in Nigeria but Dr Staats and his Team are willing to keeping pushing on with plans underway to set up a permanent office in Nigeria. Already involved in sending cars to Nigeria, Staats is scouting for serious partners to launch a housing project in Lagos. The plan designed by his Atlantis firm, has plans for building a city that will host about one million inhabitants and a vibrant economic hub. While consultations are own going with credible partners in Nigeria, Dr Staats believes that the projects he has in mind will be of profound benefits to the people and authorities should take a second  look at the revolutionary housing projects that he and his partners are offering. Dr Gerhard Staats you are German but we see you very involved in formulating projects across Nigeria and Africa before we get into specific projects, why are you so interested in Africa? The question you should ask me is why should I not be interested in Africa and Nigeria? Africa is a fascinating continent, it is a huge market with big investment potentials and the everyday people you see in the continent are very dynamic. Although I love Africa and will be working towards investing in different parts of the continent like Ghana where my friend Mike Baffour hails from, Nigeria is my first interest. Besides the potential there, I have been married for six years to a Nigerian and have been there a couple times and came back with very interesting experiences. I intend to use my expertise in Real Estate, Transport, Logistics, Mining, industry and Religion to see how far my plans for big investments in Nigeria can go. Lets discuss some of your projects and the motives or intended outcomes, the Nigerian Business Club you created has a membership of almost thirty thousand now on social media, how does this membership translate into concrete results that impact on business in Nigeria? Yes NBC is a project what we started on XING (German Business Network) and later on Facebook.  Our goal was to create a business platform where all kinds of international business can meet, share perspectives, opportunities, network, and build mutually beneficial partnerships for more investments in Africa. The Nigerian Business Club now has a membership of about thirty thousand on social media and we will soon open an office in Lagos, Nigeria to better play a consulting role. The Nigerian Business Club has highlighted opportunities from big machines, to trucks, used cars, fashion, food, solar industry, and more, hopefully the office in Lagos will be able to offer better coordination so that all these opportunities and services can have better prospects been translated into concrete results in a way that a more positive impact is felt on the overall economy of Nigeria. May we know about your project company Atlantis and the Lagos Lagoon Project? The Project Atlantis is something similar to the Eko Atlantic City in Lagos. When one sees the efforts made by the Governor of Lagos Babatunde Fashola to draw investors and when one sees the potential available, it was hard to remain indifferent. The Lagoon has the space to build a new metropolis that is safe, clean, fun and booming with business. With the German know how that I and my partners can bring in, this is very feasible. A town for one million people can be created with independent water, electricity, garbage system, fast and affordable internet and telephone, a palm tree garden, hotels, shops and more. When do you actually start the implementation phase of the project? We have been trying to make our plans public and holding discussions with potential partners. One of our partners was asked about the prospects of 12.000 low cost houses and it is an idea we are looking at. This entails a lot especially with the absence of viable partners on the ground but we are working towards the creation of a permanent presence in Nigeria and hopefully once this is done, things will speed up. You have to know first that all Africa Experts in Germany work alone and there is no network what I can use for myself to talk with business partners in Africa for projects. There is no chance to meet real partners from Africa (Investors) in internet why they are afraid for scammers and 419 industries. All of this make a start in many projects very difficult and expensive. Like I mentioned earlier, we are very close to establishing a permanent presence in Nigeria for final talks with partners and investors. In 2013 alone, we sent over 1000 used cars and trucks to Nigeria and that is just a small indication of how huge the market is. For the used car sector we have trustful partners in Nigeria and they became rich in only 2 years. So that’s why I am optimistically for the project Atlantis, our homes which are standard, and low cost will have a big market. What are some of the challenges that you have faced so far as you conceive these projects, and based on the realities in Nigeria, do you think the projects can actually be implemented? [caption id="attachment_8164" align="alignright" width="219"]Dr Gerhard Staats Dr Gerhard Staats[/caption] With its size, its might, its resources and very hard working people, Nigeria should be the envy of everyone; Nigeria should virtually be the Eldorado of Africa. Unfortunately this is not the case right now. Doing business in Nigeria or attempting to get a foothold is very challenging and very complex. You get people especially some who should be custodians of the public trust thinking about themselves first before the people there are suppose to serve. This has earned Nigeria a bit of a bad reputation with international partners who are skeptical about who there deal with in the country. Should the corruption and challenging business climate be enough to make me back off? Not yet, it is my intention to push ahead. As mentioned earlier, my wonderful wife is not only Nigerian but I have been there myself and continue to believe in its incredible potential. Many look at Dubai today and wonder in amazement how wonderful it is, but we tend to forget that about 40 years ago, Dubai was barely more than a little fishing village. Imagine what Lagos can be like in the next 25 years with the right planning, with the right vision, with people thinking about the common good of the people and not just themselves. With all its human and natural resources, many are disappointed with the way things are evolving in Nigeria , you have been there, you have an idea about how things, from the perspective of an outsider interested in investment that will help the economy, what recommendations do you have for the government, what can be done to facilitate investment initiatives like yours? I agree with you about the human and natural resources that Nigeria has and I believed I have mentioned that in the course of this interview. When you compare the potential that Nigeria has to the realities of today, there are like day and night. There are a number of problems from security, to corruption and the negative image that these and the activity of scammers have labeled on the country. The country needs to  be more friendly and welcoming to foreign investors, do more to crack down on corruption and also do more to clean its image. I understand the policies of Europe in Africa have sometimes not been very helpful and full of the double standards that makes people doubtful of the kind of opinions I  am sharing now, but I share them with all the love and interest I have in that country. If Nigeria gets its act right, it will be a power to reckon with not just in Africa but on the global stage. The resources are there, the human potential is there with the best of Doctors, Engineers, Musicians, global business players like Dangote and others. There is no excuse for Nigeria to remain the way it is and I hope the leaders will come together, put Nigeria first before partisan politics, shun and eradicate corruption by showing the right example and punishing culprits and putting to shame all those who indulge in any forms of practices that tarnish the image of Nigeria. Do you have plans to invest in other parts of Africa or you are limited to Nigeria? I would say investing in other parts of Africa is a real possibility. The potentials are not limited to Nigeria and while that country has a special place in my heart and forms the corner stone of our investment plans, the challenges there are big and we will see how things go. There have be overtures from other West African countries like Ghana and a number of countries in East Africa. While we pursue our investment objectives in Nigeria, we will eventually be open to investing in other African countries as well. [caption id="attachment_8165" align="alignleft" width="300"]Dr Gerhard Staats with a truck destined for Nigeria Dr Gerhard Staats with a truck destined for Nigeria[/caption] And I should also add that we are professionals in designing projects and there is one we have in mind that can be set up in any country called the   International Music Hotel. The plan we have comprise up to 11 floors with different kinds of music and  about 340 rooms that are for 340 different stars of music. We have a digital music studio and a stage for events. We have a music university and a Kindergarten. We have private flats for VIP buyers. We need 23.000 m² of land for this and about $ 300-500 million for such a project. Who knows, this is something we may eventually set up in Nigeria or another African country. So back to your question, while Nigeria is our focus now, we will eventually get to other African countries.    ]]>

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New Automotive Policy: Nigeria Will Soon Start Exporting Cars To Other Countries – Jonathan
January 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Goodluck Jonathan has boasted that with the recent National Automotive Industry Policy put in place by his administration, Nigeria will soon begin the exportation of cars to other countries. He also stressed that the policy must come into effect as part of federal government’s industrialization policy. Speaking yesterday when a delegation of business community from Anambra State led by the state governor, Peter Obi visited him at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Jonathan assured that his administration would continue to encourage industrialists in the country to grow their business. He added that the federal government was also focusing attention and resources to the power sector because of its pivotal role in industrialization. Noting that this has become necessary if Nigeria must reach its potentials as a great nation, he said, “If any country will be great, we must industrialize. If Nigeria must be a great country, we must industrialize. To this end, we will continue to encourage industrialists in Anambra. “I will refer all the issues you raised to the various departments of government. We are totally committed to creating jobs. Nigeria is a country with huge population of youths. If jobs are not created, there will be crisis. The housing, agriculture and power sectors are also receiving attention. In the next few years, Nigeria will begin to export cars to other countries. We are encouraging government to support local manufacturers”. The president assured that industrialists’ basic needs such as road, power and ports would be looked into appropriately. Also speaking, Vice President Namadi Sambo said the president had not long ago approved $3.7 billion to improve power transmission across the country. Speaking earlier, Governor Obi told the president that the enterprising and preserving nature of Anambra people make them well-positioned to assist him in the achievement of his administration’s transformation agenda. Declaring the support of people of Anambra State for Jonathan, Obi said, “You have excess credit in your political account that these people (members of the delegation) are ready to pay you when you need it”, adding that he led the delegation to express their support for the President and bring to his attention some of their collective needs which if addressed, will help in anchoring the growth and development of industries in the state. He listed some of the needs to include the completion of the 330/132/33KV power substation at Nnewi, provision of uninterrupted power supply in the Onitsha Harbour Industrial Area and Ozubulu Industrial Hub, completion of Nnamdi Azikwe Teaching Hospital, Nnewi and the inclusion of Anambra State in the rail master plan. He also pleaded with the president to assist in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of federal roads within the state such as Oba-Nnewi-Okigwe Section 1, Nnewi-Okija, start of Onitsha Second Niger Bridge, completion of the Onitsha-Enugu Dual Carriageway and completion of Umueze-Anam Kogi Roads. Thanking the president for the inclusion of Nnewi in the National Automotive Industry Policy of the Federal Government, Obi noted that it would attract many ancillary industries especially with the coming on stream of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant in Kogi State. *Source Information Nigeria]]>

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Africa’s richest man Dangote mulls buying Nigeria oil fields
January 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

CHRIS KAY* [caption id="attachment_8083" align="alignleft" width="194"]Photographer: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images Billionaire Aliko Dangote. Photographer: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images
Billionaire Aliko Dangote.[/caption] Multi-billionaire Nigerian Aliko Dangote is considering buying Nigerian oil and gas fields from multinationals looking to sell. Dangote Group, controlled by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, is considering the purchase of Nigerian oil fields as international companies plan to sell onshore assets in the continent’s top crude producer. The company, which has interests from cement to sugar, needs to secure a supply of crude oil and a “substantial amount of gas” for a $9-billion oil refinery and petrochemical complex it plans in southwest Nigeria, Group Executive Director Devakumar Edwin (57) said in a January 17 interview in Lagos, the country’s commercial capital. The company also needs energy for its cement plants in Africa’s second-largest economy, he said. “We’re seriously thinking of investing in oil blocks both for gas and for oil,” Edwin said. “We’ve started talking with some companies who are divesting from onshore,” he said, declining to name them. International oil and gas explorers including Royal Dutch Shell and San Ramon, California-based Chevron are selling onshore and shallow-water fields in Nigeria amid persistent violence and crude theft in the oil-rich Niger River Delta, with smaller Nigerian companies taking their place. Dangote Group believes it can manage unrest and aggrieved communities in the region with corporate social initiatives, Edwin said. “We know the terrain much better, we know the risks and we believe that the risks can be managed,” he said. “The primary risk is people blasting your pipelines. I wouldn’t like to go and invest in a block which is totally inland and then I have to start buying inland pipelines.” Oil Theft Armed attacks mainly in the delta’s swamps and shallow waters reduced Nigeria’s oil output by 29% between 2006 and 2009, according to data complied by Bloomberg. Although the violence eased after thousands of fighters accepted a government amnesty offer and disarmed five years ago, a surge in oil theft by gangs tapping crude from pipelines pushed output down to four-year lows last year. Nigeria pumped about 1.9-million barrels of crude a day last month. Dangote’s complex will include a 400 000-barrel-a-day refinery, a 2.8 million-metric-tonne urea plant and a petrochemical factory to produce polypropylene, used to make plastics. The company plans to expand the refinery capacity by another 100 000 barrels, Edwin said. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with about 170-million people, relies on fuel imports to meet most of its needs due to mismanagement, poor maintenance and ageing equipment at its four refineries. Dangote’s refinery will cut fuel imports for the country in half, according to the company. 27th Richest Aliko Dangote, who is co-chairperson of this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, has seen his wealth climb $1.1-billion in the month to date, making him the world’s 27th richest person with a net worth estimated at $24.9-billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index. Dangote Cement, Africa’s biggest producer of the building material and Nigeria’s largest company, is looking at expanding in three South American countries and has signed a preliminary joint-venture agreement with one company, according to Edwin, who is also the chief executive of the cement business. “The countries we’re looking at have huge natural resources and growth,” said Edwin, declining to name the nations so as not to alert competitors. “There are many large players in that region” that “may easily try to shut down entry to new players, but there’s still large scope of doing business,” he said. Mining Rights Dangote Cement, with a market capitalisation of 3.8-trillion naira ($23.8-billion), has three plants in Nigeria and plans to expand in 13 other African countries, bringing total capacity to more than 50-million tonnes by 2016. The company is also expanding in Asia and has signed limestone mining rights in Indonesia and Nepal, Edwin said. Dangote will delay a planned listing of its cement company’s shares on the London Stock Exchange until at least next year when plants in countries including Cameroon, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Zambia are commissioned, Edwin said. Dangote Cement’s shares strengthened 3.5% to 232.90 naira as of 10.57am in Lagos, increasing its gains for the month to 6.4%. The stock advanced 71% last year, outpacing the 47% gain of the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index. The sale will probably happen once investors can “see us as players outside Nigeria, not just as Nigeria champions and that we can repeat our success story elsewhere,” he said. – Bloomberg *Source Bloomberg/M &G]]>

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-Anti Jonathan obsession borders on Paranoia,sinners who oppose President turn into Saints in Nigeria
January 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

-Obasanjo’s fight over diminishing influence as God Father -Jonathan has not lived up to expectations -Nigeria will be better served with two strong opposition parties….. Making sense of the silly season in Nigerian politics with veteran Journalist and Author Chido Onumah By Ajong Mbapndah L It all boils down to 2015 when the first mandate of President Jonathan expires and judging by the speed at which gloves have been taken off and the viciousness of the political blows been traded, there is every reason to be nervous for Nigeria. If it is not former President Obasanjo hitting President Jonathan with political punches in a letter that strongly stoked the polity, then it is Jonathan and his team with an assist from Obasanjo’s daughter in her own controversial letter reminding the former President that he is part of what ever mess Nigeria is going through. If it is not Governors feuding, then it is political marriages of sorts with former enemies uniting in the common goal of frustrating President Jonathan out of office. But before anyone jumps to President Jonathan’s defence, has his leadership lived up to expectations? No, says veteran Journalist and author Chido Onumah, who is Coordinator of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, in Abuja, Nigeria. Onumah says it is sad to see some of the most unscrupulous politicians in Nigeria elevated to sainthood just because there oppose President Jonathan. Onumah. From the controversial letter of former President Obasanjo, to Jonathan’s leadership, the defection of governors and MPS from the ruling party to the opposition, prospects of the military giving a shot at power again and more, Chido Onumah helps in making sense of the silly season in Nigerian politics in an interview with Ajong Mbapndah L Q: Recently there was this rather tough letter from former President Obasanjo to President Jonathan, what do you think motivated the letter, and can you tell us what was fiction and what was reality in the letter? A: Personally, I think the letter was motivated by Obasanjo’s messianic proclivity. There was nothing particularly new about the contents of the letter. Agreed that the issues raised – corruption, abuse of office, clannishness, insecurity, etc., – are compelling and ought to worry anybody interested in the survival of Nigeria, but there was nothing in that letter that former President Obasanjo accused the current president of that did not happen during his (Obasanjo) government. We’ve been there and seen it all. Unfortunately, there is an anti-Jonathan obsession that borders on paranoia. Anybody who opposes President Jonathan, no matter his sordid records, is made a saint. It has become so entrenched that some people can’t see the scheming of the likes of Obasanjo. I think Obasanjo is fighting back because he appears to have lost his “godfather” role with the Jonathan administration. It has nothing to do with whether Jonathan is performing or not. For me, the thrust of the letter was the fact that according to Obasanjo, President Jonathan is not a “man of honour”; that he had promised him that he would only serve one term as president. Clearly, it was on the strength of that understanding that Obasanjo supported President Jonathan in 2011. Now, Obasanjo does not want to miss the opportunity of determining the next president of Nigeria. He is scared stiff that he is unlikely to do what he loves to do and did in 1979 when he handed over to Alhaji Shehu Shagari and in 2007 when he orchestrated the emergence of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and then vice president Goodluck Jonathan.  Remember last May 29, during Nigeria’s Democracy Day celebrations, more than six months before what I have referred to as his “satanic” letter came out, rather than be with President Jonathan in Abuja to celebrate the national event he was in Jigawa State, northwestern Nigeria, to literally raise the hands of Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, as his anointed son and the next president of Nigeria. That is Obasanjo for you. I think he deserves to be ignored. For a man who had two golden opportunities to reverse the fortunes of Nigeria, first in 1976 as a military head-of-state and in 1999 as a civilian president and bungled both opportunities, it is hard to place too much importance on his message. Remember he foisted President Jonathan on Nigerians. Because he is now “opposed” to Jonathan, some people are not looking at the impropriety of his action. They don’t want to focus on that criminal conduct. Q: Correct us if we are wrong but many people think a former leader like Obasanjo has access to Aso Rock and President Jonathan, was it necessary for President Obasanjo to reach out to the President in a letter that was leaked to the press? A: That’s exactly the point I am trying to make. It was completely unnecessary. The former president I assume has direct access to Aso Rock. To be fair, it was reported that he had had private discussions with President Jonathan before the letter. But that is no justification for a former president, the man who imposed President Jonathan on Nigerians, to make such a public show of his “frustration”. Decency demands that Obasanjo be contrite rather than constitute himself into a public nuisance. Clearly, with that letter, we saw a man on a devious mission. What the former president did had the potential of causing serious political and social upheaval. Some of the issues border on national security and to have thrown them so casually in the public domain was completely reckless of a former president. Take the claim that the presidency had drawn up a list of 1000 Nigerians and was training snipers and other armed personnel to take them out! For someone interested in full disclosure, if he had the list, he should have made it public. There is nothing former president Obasanjo revealed about President Jonathan in that letter that Nigerians didn’t know about the latter before 2007 when he was handpicked to run as vice president and in 2011 when he ran for president as an incumbent. Obasanjo was aware of the corruption indictment against then governor Goodluck Jonathan when he picked him to run alongside the late Umaru Yar’Adua for the presidency in 2007. Q: On the content of the letter, President Jonathan’s mandate ends in 2015, but the impression is that he does not have a full and firm grasp of developments in Nigeria, why has he faced so many difficulties? A: Yes, President Jonathan’s mandate ends in 2015. Of course, he is covered under the Nigerian constitution to run for re-election having been elected as president for the first time in 2011. But that is where the argument ends. The Jonathan presidency has been a disaster on all fronts, whether we are talking about fighting corruption, the crises in the education, health and energy sectors or the general state of insecurity in the country. Of course, it is important to note that many of the problems, particularly the poor security situation, were inherited, but the president has shown a total lack of capacity to deal with any of the problems. As a man who has held one political office or the other without break since 1999, Mr. Jonathan needs to do better. He has been deputy governor, governor, vice president, acting president and president since May 2010. What other experience can one ask for? I think it speaks to the character and ability of the man. As the Noble Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said recently, “You can take the hippopotamus out of the swamp, but you can’t take the swamp out of the hippopotamus.” The task of running Nigeria and running it effectively is simply beyond the pay grade of Mr. Jonathan. And that’s why there appears to be so much desperation because you have a president that would have been in office for five years by the time he is due for re-election in 2015 and you can’t point to a single issue on which he can campaign for re-election. Q: When you look at developments in Nigeria, it is either attacks from Boko Haram, it is corruption scandals like Oduagate with no public officials been held accountable, if the buck stops with President Jonathan, should he not be held accountable for some of the unfortunate developments that are heating the polity? A: Of course, he should be held responsible. But by his body language and utterances, the man doesn’t think he should be held accountable. If he is not complaining that he is the most-abused president in the world, he is making light of the issue of corruption by saying that what Nigerians think is corruption is just stealing and not really corruption. It is wishful thinking to expect President Jonathan to fire any of his ministers for corruption. Here is a man who has consistently refused to make public his assets. During an interview on national television two years ago, he declared that he did not “give a damn” about such requests. One of the first actions President Jonathan took when he was sworn in as president on May 29, 2011, was to sign the Freedom of Information (FoI) bill into law. I remember my organisation, the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, making an FoI request to the Code of Conduct Bureau, the custodian of asset declarations of public officers for the release of the president’s asset declaration. The bureau did not dignify our request with a response. Only for the chairman of the bureau to grant an interview later where he said the constitution didn’t require the president to make his asset declaration public. Of course, the constitution doesn’t require the president to make his asset declaration public, but the FoI empowers citizens to request information in the public domain. The question that readily comes to mind is:  what is the president hiding?   For me, that was a clear indication that the president was not interested in fighting corruption or leading by example on the issue of accountability. Ministers and other top government officials have taken a cue from the president’s body language. As far as this government is concerned, really as far as governments in Nigeria are concerned, the presidency is a financial buffet. Q: Recently a number of governors defected to the opposition APC, and some parliamentarians followed suit, how does this change the political calculus in view of the 2015 elections? A: Nobody can say for sure how this defection will play out. I was among those who supported the merger of the country’s main opposition parties to form the All Progressives Congress (APC). Not that I believed the APC had the solution to the country’s myriad problems, but because I shared the view that Nigeria needed to get rid of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and create a level playing field; for the country to have two strong national parties and a semblance of choice. With the defection of many of the leaders of the PDP to the APC I don’t feel particularly confident that we can achieve even that minimum agenda. At the rate the defection is going, the APC may end up just being the “New PDP”. What it means is that the party may have the name APC but the major characters will be those who left the PDP. Clearly, the agenda of the defectors is to get rid of President Jonathan by weakening the PDP. It has nothing to do with any noble desire to improve the lot of Nigerians. It is possible that by the time the defection is over, the PDP will be the minority party in the National Assembly as well as in the number of states it controls. Considering that governors play a pivotal role in elections in their states that could affect the outcome of the election in favour of the APC. I don’t see the PDP or the president campaigning in the core north of the country where there is strong hostility toward him not necessarily because he is a non-performing president. But again you don’t want to discount the power of the Nigerian president, particularly a “wounded” one. There are conspiracy theories being bandied about in terms of how the presidency hopes to secure President Jonathan’s re-election. Elections may not hold in three states in the Northwest of the country (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe) where a state of emergency has been in effect since May 2013. We have seen how the presidency has used the police to harass individuals, organisations and even state governors who are critical of the government. Imagine what will happen during the general election in 2015! I am looking at the bigger picture though which is that very few of those who are making these permutations for 2015 really care about the country. There is so much self interest at stake that something’s got to give! Q: In reaction to the APC’s charm offensive to former President Obasanjo, Wole Soyinka one of the most respected voices in Nigeria said the country was heading for a ship wreck, was he been alarmist or should his predictions be taken seriously? A: I think Wole Soyinka was right in his intervention and analysis. Very few people perhaps know and understand former President Obasanjo better than Wole Soyinka. That was not the first time Soyinka has had reason to caution the country against the antics of Obasanjo. I think Nigerians have more than enough reasons to take Soyinka’s words seriously. Remember Obasanjo once boasted that the PDP would rule Nigeria for 50 year or was it 100 years! The PDP has been in power for only 15 years. Q: And if we sought to find out in terms of ideology, in terms of the way Nigeria needs to be governed, what is the difference between the ruling PDP and the opposition APC? A: Of course, Nigerians are asking for ideology from these parties, understandably so. But the truth is that what they should be seeking is how to reclaim the country. That was what I was hoping the APC could help achieve before it opened itself up to a complete takeover by disgruntled elements in the PDP. The urgent task in Nigeria is not the 2015 election, but how to bring the country back from the brink. The entity called Nigeria needs to be salvaged, and urgently too. Ideology is the last thing on the agenda for countries in crisis like Somalia, Central Africa Republic and DR Congo. Nigeria is in crisis and we may end up like any of these countries I mentioned and even worse considering Nigeria’s population. To answer your question directly, I don’t see any difference between the ruling PDP and the opposition APC, not when about half of those who will emerge as leaders of the APC both at the national and state levels were up until a few weeks ago diehard members of the PDP. I am not yet convinced that APC can get the PDP defectors to accept whatever “progressive” agenda it has. Q: There are some people who think that Nigeria’s democracy will be better served with two strong political parties, do you agree? A: I agree completely and it looked like the two parties were going to evolve with the merger of opposition political parties to form the APC. You can’t overstate the importance of choice and a genuine and formidable opposition. It would have been a marked departure from the two-party system (the Social Democratic Party and National Republican Convention) that former military dictator, retired General Ibrahim Babangida foisted on Nigerians during his diabolical and endless transition programme in the late 80s to early 90s. As it is now, what we have are PDP and the APC plus “New PDP”. I don’t think Nigerians really have a choice. Remember that some of the leadership of the APC (before the current defection) were in PDP even though they left a long time ago to join other political parties, including those that merged to form the APC. The APC needs to do more to reassure Nigerians that it is a genuine alternative to the PDP. Q: A sitting Governor in one of the states recently declared that there was a pact between the North and the South that President Jonathan will serve just one term, is there any veracity to this statement, and in the face of such mounting opposition, can Jonathan make it for a second term, what does he need to do to survive the onslaught? [caption id="attachment_7976" align="alignright" width="300"]Chido Onumah Chido Onumah[/caption] A: Well, there have been all kinds of claims that President Jonathan signed a one-term pact. We have yet to see any documents to that effect. Of course, we read in the letter by former President Obasanjo that President Jonathan personally assured him that he will not seek re-election. It may well be true that there was a one-term pact. That is the nature of politics in Nigeria; the feeling of entitlement that makes it impossible for the best amongst us to emerge as leaders. Some decrepit men (and perhaps women) sit in a room at night and decide who will emerge president or governor. I don’t understand the fixation with the so-called one-term pact. Nigeria does not belong to President Jonathan or those he purportedly entered into a pact with. There is no zoning principle in the constitution for the presidency. Any qualified Nigerian from any part of the country can contest the office for the stipulated two terms. I understand the importance of keeping one’s word, but if the president denies there was no such agreement or decides to renege on the agreement, assuming there was one, the country should not come to a halt because of that. It is just an internal affair of a political party, in this case the PDP. Except we take it for granted that whoever is the candidate of the PDP will emerge as president in 2015. Q: And Mr. Onumah, about this eternal feud of whether a leader should come from the North or from the South, does it matter to the average Nigerian or it is just something used by the political elite in their power plays, we ask because, the issues affecting ordinary Nigerians do not know South or North, from unemployment to poverty, infrastructure, education, security etc. What is this North–South issue all about and should it have relevance in a democracy? A: I would love to say it doesn’t matter to the average Nigerian, but it does. Very few people see themselves as Nigerians. Therefore it is so easy for politicians to play the ethnic card. That is partly why it is difficult to fight corruption in Nigeria. A public officer steals money and he is indicted. You will find many people belonging to the same ethnic group who will rise to his defence. They will say he is being persecuted because he is from a certain ethnic group or adheres to a certain religion. They will ask you whether he is the first person to steal public fund and what happened to others from other ethnic groups who also stole public fund. You will hear argument like, “He is a thief, but he is our own thief.” In a sense, the national treasury doesn’t belong to anyone in particular so anybody who gets the opportunity can help themselves to it as much as they can. Of course, the issues affecting ordinary Nigerians – lack of electricity, poverty, poor infrastructure, etc. – are the same around the country, but when the chips are down people only hear the sound of your name. Nowhere is this issue more prevalent than in politics which in a way determines everything else: the way we fight corruption, the kind of infrastructure we will have, etc. If President Jonathan were from the north of the country he won’t be facing the militant opposition he is currently facing from the political class in the north just as he won’t have gotten the fanatical support he is getting from the Niger Delta. That is why some of us are calling for a Sovereign National Conference. There are so many fundamental issues that Nigerians have to address before we start talking about infrastructure, corruption, etc. Nigerians have to sit down in a Sovereign National Conference to address fundamental issues like the country’s political structure, citizenship rights, revenue allocation, etc. Q: With the kind of bickering going on with the political class, the underlying issue of whether the President should come from the North or the South and others, what are the odds that the military may be tempted to revert to its old habits of seizing power? A: There is that prospect. In fact, it grows every day. It is difficult to say how this crisis will play out. Nigeria is under siege on all fronts, but more so by a bankrupt ruling class from the North, South, East and West whose only aim is to control political power and they will do anything, including orchestrating a military coup to achieve it. Having said that, we must also note that the Nigerian military does not need the prompting of the political class to seize power. The military itself is as politicized as the politicians and they will manufacture any excuse to send the politicians packing. Of course, considering how polarized the country is, you will find people willing to jump on the bandwagon of a military coup. Q: Summing up the current developments, and going forward into 2015 which seems to be the critical focus of political actions and calculations now, what makes you nervous and what makes you hopeful about Nigeria? A: I am very nervous about Nigeria. There is very little politically that gives one hope. Unfortunately, there is no organized national mass movement that can provide an alternative to the dangerous politics of national destruction being played by our politicians. The only ray of hope, if one can call it that, is that 100 years after the creation of Nigeria, the country is so intertwined and the fear of it splitting into several countries is far-fetched. But again, the current scenario portends even something worse: the balkanization of the country along its various fault lines. We may have a Somalia on our hands here, except that in this case, the outcome will be ten times worse and the impact on the sub-region will be grave. That for me is a major source of concern. *Chido Onumah is a journalist, author and coordinator of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, Abuja, Nigeria, He is currently pursuing a doctoral programme in communication and journalism at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain. ]]>

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No ambition is worth the blood of Nigerians – JONATHAN
January 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Goodluck Jonathan President Goodluck Jonathan[/caption] President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said that no Nigerian should kill or maim himself or herself because of his presumed 2015 second term ambition, saying that “any ambition I have at any time is not worth the blood of Nigerians.”Meanwhile, President Jonathan has told the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur that he would require the support of every Nigerian, not only him (Tukur), to win the 2015 election if he would contest the election.The President stated this at a meeting with Vice President Namadi Sambo, Tukur, and other members of the National Working Committee, NWC — Jonathan spoke on the need for peace in the PDP and warned that accusations and counter accusations must stop. He also said that he would “never, ever expect a Nigerian to spill a drop of his blood because Goodluck Jonathan has some ambitions. Nigerians should always preach peace and unity in all their engagements. This is the only way the country will achieve greatness.” Speaking at a special church service to mark this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, Jonathan reminded politicians that no ambition was worth the blood of innocent Nigerians, adding that if we continued to kill ourselves, there would be no nation to govern. He said: “Sometimes I get worried and embarrassed when I hear provocative statements that come from very senior citizens; people that ordinarily will be perceived as senior citizens, who ordinarily should know that the unity of this country is more important than the interests of any individual or a group of individuals. And that the peace of Nigeria is more important than any interest of individuals or group of individuals. Some people even encourage young people to take arms and fight themselves. “I always say as a politician that I pray all politicians should know that there will be no nation if we kill ourselves. If you want people to come out and vote, why do you threaten them? If you threaten people they will stay in their houses and how will you win election? “In an occasion like this, we should also admonish ourselves that we should preach peace and unity in all our conversations. If we do that all our problems will be resolved, our security issues will be resolved. If all of us collectively talk about the unity of this country, about peace in this country, then our country will progress and move in the direction we want the country to move.” The president noted that this year’s remembrance celebration was unique as it was coming at a time that the country is celebrating its 100 years of existence as a nation. He paid tributes to members of the Armed Forces, saying that their sacrifices had ensured that Nigeria remained one indivisible country, despite the challenges it had faced. “The Armed Forces Remembrance Day is unique and this year’s programme is more unique because first January marks 100 years of our existence as a nation. It is not easy to get here. The country faced a lot of challenges no doubt about that. Some of us witnessed the civil war. For us who have survived this 100 years, some people paid dearly for it, some people worked for it like the armed forces. We know the challenges they faced during the civil war. But for their sacrifice, Nigeria would have been more than one nation. They worked for it, some died in the process while some died serving in wars outside Nigeria. These are the people that we are remembering today. We all have to emulate them. Those of us who are alive, what we can do to honour them is to ensure that whatever we do, whatever we say, whatever song we sing is a song that will bring peace and unity to this country.” Earlier in his message, the Arch Bishop of the Abuja Diocese of the Methodist Church, Arch Bishop Job Ojei, who read from Hebrew 11:13. And 2 Timothy 4:7, called on Nigerians to stop making “unedifying utterances that will weaken those in leadership” while  those who are power drunk should be rebuked. “All politicians should give us peace of mind. Some of the utterances we hear from them make us begin to fear. If you need our votes don’t threaten us. If you continue to threaten us no body will come out to vote. Leave 2015 alone. God will take care of it. By hating other tribes or other religion, you will never eliminate those tribes or religion. By causing trouble for a particular religion will not eliminate any religion. God knows why he allowed the existence of other tribes and religion. Every religion is meant to build up the nation,” he said. While paying tribute to the fallen heroes, the Methodist bishop called on government to look after members of the. Armed forces and the family of those left behind by the fallen heroes. “Some of the fallen heroes did not only fight for the survival of this country but of other African countries and beyond. The fallen heroes and their blood was to keep Nigeria one. We should always remember them and especially those who are still in service. Nigeria must take good care of them. They have given us some respite from the Boko Haram attacks. We must acknowledge what has been achieved in the aviation sector, the power sector, by reducing unemployment, by not recruiting thugs and hired assassins. We must stop unedifying utterances that will weaken those in leadership but we must rebuke those who are power drunk” he said. The first reading was taken by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika while the second reading was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan. Those in attendance were the service chiefs, the president of the senate, David Mark, the chairman of the board of trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, the mother of the President, Eunice Jonathan, Anyim Pius Anyim,   among several others. *Source Vanguard Newspaper Nigeria  ]]>

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I once lived in an uncompleted building -Mercy Johnson
January 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

Mercy Johnson-Okojie made her way into Nollywood in the movie ‘The Maid’. In this interview with JOAN OMIONAWELE, the actress talked about marriage, controversies, acting, fashion and other issues. What has Mercy Johnson been up to lately? I have been busy shooting movies, moving from one location to the other. I give God all the glory. You recently set up the Mercy Johnson Foundation. How far has it gone? So far so good; it’s progressing. It’s been God all the way. How many movies can you recollect doing so far? Over 100 movies. What were your days like as a  child? I was a tomboy. I am the fourth child from a family of seven children. The first four are girls and the last three are boys. So, I actually moved a lot with my brothers, climbing trees and stuff like that. We didn’t get everything we wanted but we got everything we needed. I’m from a very humble background; a Christian family. My dad is an ex-military officer and we basically grew up in a military environment. I attended Navy primary and secondary schools until I went to the Lagos State University. And how has it been through fame and glamour? There have been the good and bad times; there have been rumours and scandals. Sometimes when I cry in movies, it isn’t the script that makes me cry. When I recall my humble beginning, I give thanks to God. When I remember how we moved into an uncompleted building and had to take cover whenever it rained because of the condition of the house; how my brother did a menial job as a bricklayer to earn a living and those days when we rolled over a stick to cover the windows up till the point when I started acting and raised money to cover the roof… I recall those days we were living with lizards because the floor and the walls of the house were not plastered, or when I had scars as a result of my several falls. So how did you start acting? After my secondary school education, I failed the University Matriculation Examination (UME) and came back to Lagos to get a degree. While that was on, I watched Genevieve Nnaji in a movie entitled: Sharon Stone. I later approached a friend for assistance to feature in a movie. He said I had a great body and that I would make a good actress. He later took me to the National Theatre, but a role did not come until a year later, when I had my first lead role in a film entitled: The Maid. The Maid was my starting point and it was quite challenging to play the lead role because it was my first movie. I was fidgeting when I saw the likes of Eucharia Anunobi, whom I regarded as a screen goddess during my secondary school days. I never thought I would make it with people like that. So, when I saw her, I was so excited and considered standing beside her as sacred. She actually realised that and later helped me by giving me the needed courage. What is that accessory that you can never be caught wearing? A nose ring. What has marriage changed about you? Marriage has taught me lots of things and I’ve learnt a lot since I got married too. I know that if I had gotten married earlier, I wouldn’t have made most of the errors I made. It’s good to be married to somebody who is so organised; he brings you up the right way and reminds you of whom you’re supposed to be. You seem to be enjoying marriage a lot.  You even once said that as soon as Purity (her daughter) clocks one, you would be going back to the labour room … My sister, marriage has been sweet for me because I have the best husband and daughter in the world. Being a married woman, I have learnt to tolerate things more. It has changed my perspective of life and the way I react to things. But getting married and being an actress are two different things. How do you balance up? When I’m not at location, I spend quality time with my family. And guess what? My husband has always been there for me and Purity. It’s obvious we are his priority. He’s a loving husband and father. Your husband does not complain about those times when you are away? He doesn’t; he understands the nature of my job. He’s the best thing that has happened to me. People usually say men are not reliable. In the case of my husband, he’s a blessing. What was the point of attraction between you and Mr Okojie? What attracted him to me was his fearless approach. You know sometimes, you meet some guys and they get intimidated about you, but not with him. The first time we were supposed to have a date, he said ‘Let’s go to my house so you can cook for me’ and in my mind, I was like “Seriously, this guy doesn’t know my name.” So, I said “My name is Mercy Johnson” and he said ‘Yes I know.’ Taking your child to movie sets can really be demanding and stressful. Does Purity not disturb you when you are on set? No, she doesn’t. When I take her on location, she has lots of uncles and aunties who dote on her. They carry her, feed her and many more. Sometimes, I don’t even get to see her until she needs to breastfeed. How has motherhood changed your perspective about life? It has changed me just the way it changes women. You begin to see yourself as a co-creator. You begin to see yourself as a protector. It will also make you feel more responsible for other children as well. You begin to see them as children of some other mothers. You have a sense of responsibility to want to protect them as well. If he tells you to quit acting one day, would you give it a thought? When we get to that bridge, we will cross it. How do you pamper yourself? I have fun with my family. As a dutiful wife, how do you pamper your husband? Sometimes I take him out on a date, surprise him with gifts and so on. As a married woman, does he complain about your romantic scenes in movies? No he doesn’t. He understands the nature of my job and he knows that acting is just make-believe. There was an issue with you and Tonto Dike recently. She dissed you on Twitter for saying you would go back to the labour room immediately Purity was mature enough. Why didn’t you reply her? I’d rather not talk about it. What does style mean to you? Style to me is putting on anything that makes you feel comfortable. My husband is a huge critic, so when he compliments my dressing, I feel so good. He doesn’t believe that exposing anything makes you look better. He feels when you cover up, you look real nice. What is that accessory that you continuously fill your wardrobe with? That will be my wrist-watches. And how many of it (your favourite accessory) would you say you have? Close to 10. In a few years to come, what would you love to be remembered for? I would like to be remembered as someone who accomplished useful deeds. I would like to leave with the memory of someone with a good heart, who did her best to help others. There is a very strong competition among actresses. How have you managed to maintain your position as one of the most popular? I would have to give all glory to God how far He has helped me. I have tried as much as possible to give my best to the industry and I cannot say that I have arrived, but it is obvious that I am not where I used to be. I will continue to do more. It doesn’t look like you would go back to putting on those sexy clothes again after you wean Purity. Or would you? No I don’t plan to. Motherhood and marriage have changed me. I am over that because I am now a married woman, a mother at that. What has been the most negative report that you have read about yourself? A lot of untrue things have been said about me, but I have come to realise that it doesn’t cost people anything to cook up lies about me. The one I remember vividly is the one they said I stole money and also snatched people’s husbands. I lost a deal worth N50 million from a telecommunication company because of that. It was reported that you were banned for increasing your pay as an actress. There was no ban at all. You promptly responded to OJB’s cry for help and gave him some money. People said it was publicity stunt, while others said it was just your character… I don’t need to be more popular because I am already popular. We were just promoting the ideals of Mercy Johnson Foundation. The idea is to identify the needs, evaluate and help in our own little way. All fingers are not equal. Those in position to help should do so without hesitation. I strongly believe that as stars we should live beyond the euphoria of stardom and the moment. We will not always be here. What happens if you look back and realise you could have done a lot to make the world better when you had the spotlight and you didn’t? I want to live beyond the moment. * Source Nigerian Tribune ]]>

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Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi At 72: ‘Boko Haram lesson for Nigeria: Stop ignoring grievances’ –
January 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

It was the first day of the year, January 1, 2014 – just some four days to Professor Bolaji Akinyemi’s 72 birthday. He had invited the quintet of President of the Guild of Editors, Femi Adesina, Editors of the Sunday titles of ThisDay (Tunde Rahman), The Nation (Festus Eriye), Sun (Alhaji Abdulfatah) and I for lunch. It was there that Akinyemi bared his mind on some very important national and international events in a manner only a man with uncommon intellect and insight would. Excerpts: By Jide Ajani How do you see the APC developing? I have often said and I have been on record for saying so that a two-party system is a positive development for nation-building to overcome our nativistic cleavages. It is one of the legacies of IBB that was jettisoned ill-advisably. I welcome the coming of the APC. I must also say I think people who are talking about the lack of ideological orientation in the PDP or the APC completely miss the point in that political parties are there to win elections and they will configure themselves in such a way as to maximize their electoral support. You look at the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States, there is always a mixture. The southern element, for example, in the Republican Party in the United States have nothing in common with those in Montana and those from Massachusetts. The same thing with the Democratic Party. We should start to give up this missionary concept with which we the judge our politics, whether domestic politics or foreign. It must be so pure that you would think we are electing the Pope. With Snowden and Wikileaks now, we know that those who mount the pulpit at the UN or wherever and preach pure values, their agencies are busy doing the filthiest things possible against even some of their own major allies. It doesn’t bother me. It is a welcome development and then, of course, we must not forget that the Labour Party is coming up. So, if you don’t like the PDP or the APC, the Labour Party is there for you. And, remember, in the United Kingdom, you have the Labour Party, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The Labour Party in Nigeria will always be for those of us who want to vote our conscience. The Labour Party may never win an election in the Presidency, but they will make you feel good that you still voted but not for either of those two characters. We’ve heard a lot of criticisms about APC poaching in the PDP waters… (Cuts in) In what other waters would they poach? Is that the same way you see the APC attempt to woo Obasanjo; and Tinubu describing him as navigator and asking him to come and navigate for them? Politicians will do anything to get into power. I’m not surprised and I’m not going to lose any sleep over what any politician says or does in order to win over people. I’m not saying I support what they do. I’m just saying I’m not going to lose any sleep because it  doesn’t surprise me. I have experienced a situation where you have a meeting that breaks up at 11pm and you have reached certain decisions about what to do and some of the people who were at the meeting, leaving your house, have gone on to another meeting of the other side; and in the morning you remind them, ‘don’t forget our decision’, and they reply, ‘ahh… Things have changed. There are different colours… What different colours? I had gone to sleep, believing decisions have been reached. So, I wont lose any sleep and won’t be surprised. Could we then be talking about the death of ideology? Ideology, in this country, died a long time ago. It’s just that things that we got from the Western or the Eastern countries, long after they are dead, are still wagging their tails. There are people still preaching Marxism in Nigeria.  Ideology in terms of inflexible beliefs are long gone except if you are talking about North Korea. But that’s a one-party system. The death of ideology is long celebrated. From your observation about what is going on, do you think this is a major shift in the balance of power in Nigeria or just a cosmetic game show that, after a while, things will settle down in the same old fashion? Are we seeing a major shift? I don’t really know. And that’s the honest truth. I am old enough to have witnessed alliances between political parties always on the eve of elections or, at times, after elections. It happened in 1959, on the eve of our independence at  Action Group. Half of the Action Group was negotiating with Zik. The Akintola wing was sending messages to NPC, which the Sarduana saw as duplicity and so it ended up with the NCNC. Then UPGA was also an attempt at shaking hands across the Niger. Then in 1979 between UPN and NPP, they were again negotiating, while the NPP was also negotiating with the NPN. So, I am old enough to have gone through and seen that all those alliances falter on two platforms. Disagreement over who runs for what office or if it’s after elections, who issues the best offer for post? That is why I said I don’t know how fundamental this is. Because it then takes us back to the question I addressed earlier on  ideological posturing. If a party is not founded on a firm set of beliefs, that it is just to get rid of the ruling power, if you don’t succeed electorally, you are going to break up. If the issue then starts about who runs for governor, president and so on, because also politics is about power and the power could be power within the party or power over the country….. But if you have fixed ideological postures, then the people you will invite to join you must be people who have the same ideological beliefs, who see things the way you see them. That is most likely to hold together. But in a multi ethnic, multi religious country like Nigeria, you’ve got to broaden your base. Then it will mean that if APC does not get power at the centre in 2015, that coalition will not survive. Yes, but I will even modify that by saying let us watch out for when candidates start being adopted because this is Nigeria. I am a political scientist. Let us be practical. I have seen and you have seen, in the past how many years, a man is not adopted today to be a candidate for governor, tomorrow he moves to another party. Now,  what was his belief in the party he is leaving and then, after some time, he comes back. We have even had it at the presidential level, so many of them. Do you really believe that this will change within one year, that, all of a sudden, people will now embrace the values that there is nothing wrong in being in the opposition. Even the way we run the National Assembly, I am quite surprised that we really haven’t had people do an analysis of that. Nigeria is the only country that I know where, without forming an alliance, members of the minority party are made chairmen or deputy chairmen of House and Senate committees. I’ve never heard of it. How can you claim that you are in opposition and yet you are the chairman of a House committee ruled by another party? Whereas, technically, they can say ‘no, we are in opposition. We accept we are in opposition and we will fight the battle of opposition.’ But when in fact you have already been sucked into what I call status politics, how can you then say you are running a viable opposition? You have applauded what looks like an emerging two-party system. But if you look at the current configuration, would you say it poses a potent threat to the PDP in 2015  the same way you would look at that time that the military thought NRC was going to beat the SDP but they were wrong? Which means that Nigerian politics makes a fool of all of us who dare prophesy. Well, I must agree with you that the configurations show that nothing must be taken for granted whether by the ruling party or the APC coming up. That’s good for our country. Politicians are likely to be more respectful of the citizens, of the people when they actually have to fight for their victory. I think that is good for us. When nothing can be taken for granted, that is good for us. We do need the politics of citizen control, the politics of citizen respect, the politics of citizen appreciation where things centre around the interest of the citizens. Whether vote is really going to count, we need that and not where, ‘What the heck… E dibo fun wa, e o dibo, a ti wole.’ (Whether you vote for us or not, we have won). You served on this Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenge in the North and the report is ready. Things are fairly better now, but do you think the worst is over? No. I don’t think the worst is over. Things are a bit better? Oh yes. To what extent did your committee play some strategic roles in creating the kind of situation we have right now? I would rather put it this way, that the carrot and stick method adopted by the president is something that needed to be applauded. I would rather actually give more appreciation to the military intervention. I think that the symbolic value of the presidential dialogue committee was that it showed the preparedness of  the federal government to negotiate if the other party is willing to negotiate. It was a diplomatic gesture. Right now, the President of the Southern Sudan and his former Vice agreed to go to Ethiopia to talk, even though the official army of the Southern Sudanese is actually giving the rebels a bloody nose. It’s like if you want to talk, I am ready to talk. But if you want to fight, I am ready to continue fighting. A government should never be afraid to negotiate. But like Kennedy said, you  should never negotiate out of fear. At the time we were set up, the Boko Haram had already overrun most of Borno and Yobe states. There were some people who were beginning to feel that our committee was set up as a kind of appeasement. Therefore, it was necessary for the president to let these people know that I can use the military just as well. I think that things are better now. I would give the appreciation to the military intervention. The reason I said no to the president is because we tend in this country to think that because things have gotten better, maybe Boko Haram is finished. But Boko Haram has become an affiliate of an international movement that is not finished. If the major tree trunk is not finished, how can you say that the branch is finished? I just don’t want Nigerians to relapse into a state of complacency, where they will later turn around tomorrow and say, ‘we thought this thing was finished’. No. Number two, the factors that led to the emergence of Boko Haram are still there: Massive youth unemployment, disillusionment with the system, loss of values, loss of faith in the judicial system. These issues were raised with us by the Boko Haram members we spoke to. These were their grievances. They are all still there. You must address the issues of massive youth unemployment. It is a time bomb. You must address the issue of caring for the widows, the fatherless, orphans. You must address those issues. You must curb corruption. These people can see. Even the blind who stumbles into a pothole on a road that was constructed three months ago knows why. He walks confidently because the road is only three months old but, all of a sudden, he falls into a pothole. He then knows why that pothole was there. We must address all these issues. They are beyond partisan politics. That is why I said Boko Haram would continue. Boko Haram will continue to afflict us. In any case, mention to me one country in the world where you had religious-based insurgency and it has been defeated. I was very critical of the committee for a couple of reasons. Number one, the example you gave about what is happening in Southern Sudan. You are talking about two reasonable people who probably are people you could deal with. But here you have a bunch of people who are not doing anything that you can describe by any means as reasonable, slaughtering people. You don’t even know what their demands are. I don’t think the leadership of Boko Haram has ever come out to say that they are fighting for economic emancipation. It has always been religion-based.   How do you begin to negotiate with such people who have demands that are not negotiable? They want to install theocracy in the North. How do you negotiate with that bunch of people. And then the people that your committee was meeting were hired hands. There was no evidence that your committee met with the members that mattered. If you really met with the leadership, perhaps you would have seen something more substantial? My reaction to your point is, look at where the demand for negotiation was coming from -the northern elite. The Sultan and Western countries -The United States and Britain. What do you lose by saying, ‘ fine. I’m ready to negotiate’. You’re right, the pressure didn’t come from Boko Haram members. But it came from prominent and eminent Nigerians. What do you lose by saying, ‘alright, I am ready to negotiate’. If I should turn the question around, what do you gain by saying, ‘I am not ready to negotiate’. Then they turn around and say it is because you are refusing… My point is, if people are saying negotiate, then the government should have had discussion with the  northern elite and ask them to provide credible people to negotiate with. Your committee met with some of the prisoners. We still have Shekau in the bush somewhere slaughtering people. Then, what did we lose by setting up that committee and saying we are prepared to negotiate. What did we lose? Frankly, I thought the government was just embarking on a wild goose chase? We didn’t lose. A government must always…In fact, this is a  classic management technique. You want us to talk, ‘I am ready to talk’. And then you fold your hands. You didn’t lose anything. You have allocated manpower resources for this, but then, that’s part of management. You have lost nothing. It would be different if the president has taken up the position, ‘because I have set up this committee, I will order the military to stop action’ and then Boko Haram had continued to gain ground. Then you will have a point. On the other hand, rather than have to confront a situation where the president will be accused of showing lack of respect for the northern elite, showing insensitivity to the people who are actually suffering and who have come up with a solution package…. And also, the Americans and the British saying you are just using iron fist, which is not working, according to them. The president said, ‘Okay, here is a committee headed by a minister in my government’. He gained because he was prepared to negotiate. Apart from those prisoners, we did meet important leaders of the sect, not Shekau. Last week, somebody still came up to say he was Shekau. The CIA confirmed that those tapes are fake. I had come to the conclusion that actually what Boko Haram has decided to do is that every leader of the sect would be called Shekau. There was another spokesperson for Boko Haram that they kept using his name – Abu Qaqa. There is no way to find out the real fact. Except if you conduct DNA and even at that, do you know who Shekau’s father was, because you have to get a relative of his? What happened with Boko Haram is that they have been trained by the Al-Qaeda international network. It is not true that it was just the foot soldiers that we met. Even with the foot soldiers, meeting them served a very good purpose. For the first time in my life, I met Nigerians who could not be bribed. Money was nothing to them. Just as they were prepared to kill, killing them also was nothing to them because they believed in a cause. So, it was that cause that you needed to attack. And that was where some eminent Sheiks who were on our panel took them on, based on the issues of the Quran. At the end, those Sheiks were able to persuade them that the interpretation by Yusuf and Shekau of the Quran was wrong. That was why they were able to go on tape and they did. And the advantage of it was that when this tape was then played, there were other foot soldiers who then said, ‘Wait a minute…if our commanders are saying this’…all these efforts were to make them understand that their cause and their interpretation of the Quran given to them by Shekau was faulty. They were not offered anything,  not even their freedom. As far as I know, they are still in the prisons. There are some of them who didn’t give us the light of the day. You could tell from their body language. But there were others who listened, who were persuaded and were convinced. What lessons have you learnt from the exercise? Dealing with Boko Haram has alerted me, and this is the message I would like to give to Nigerians. Usually, we think every man has his price. Therefore, don’t worry. How much? But I met a group that couldn’t be bought and they may not be the only group. If you push people to the wall, whether in the Niger-Delta, or in any part of Nigeria, you may never know when they cross that boundary.   And then you know you really have trouble on your hands. Up till now, we always believed that money could solve all the problems. ‘Throw money at them’. But these ones couldn’t be bought. There was a guy, when he was arrested, his wife was pregnant and he had a little baby and they were separated. He was imprisoned somewhere.   The wife and the kid in another prison. He was aware of where they were. So it was like, ‘look, cooperate with us, and, incidentally, your wife had a baby boy’. He said he knew. Don’t think because you separated them he didn’t know. Of course, prison is porous. Then we said to him, ‘don’t you want to go and visit your wife and new baby?’ And  he said, ‘What for?’ He said where he was, that was the way Allah want  it and where his wife and baby were, that was the way Allah wanted them to be. It is a struggle that does not allow for family sensitivity. That one, are you now going to say we’ll give him  money? So, that is a lesson that was imprinted on my mind, which I would like Nigerians to pay serious attention to. Let us stop doing things as business as usual. Things are not business as usual in this country. There are the aggrieved and you are right that in the case of these people, they found a religion on which to hook on their grievances. There may be other groups. It could be ideology that they would hook their grievances on. Let us stop ignoring grievances. This could tie to the issue of  National Dialogue, National Conference that the president is calling. From your experience, would you say that the engagement  would yield something profound to address this type of challenge? I am a firm believer in National Conference. People have been demanding it. People had thought this would be a solution, a platform that will address grievances, fears and come up with a solution. Somewhere along the line, the president seemed to have become persuaded that he could pull it off, that the situation is ripe enough for him to attempt this. Would he succeed? I don’t know because the conference is not by the president for the president. It is for you and I and the kind of people we elect that will go there. It’s going to depend on the seriousness of the delegates you send. It is unfortunate that the APC has decided to boycott it. I think it is gravely unfortunate. Another lesson I have learnt in life, don’t boycott things. Life goes on. We have suffered. It has never worked in Nigeria, we have boycotted, boycotted and the country continues. And, unfortunately, you can’t reverse it. When you then decide to join, maybe whatever system they put in place, you can’t say let us go and revisit…I am not a believer in boycott anymore. Elections were boycotted in 1960. Whatever it was, the elections were  held. Government was still formed and, until the military came in, that government was ruling. General Abubakar offered to meet NADECO. We are on record. I know the messages sent to me: ‘Don’t take part in the transition. The transition is not going to last. It’s a contraption’. The contraption is in place since 1999. If  somebody like Tinubu had decided to obey NADECO and not take part, what would have happened today? Number two, the outcome will depend on the discussion there. The success will depend on the attitude of the National Assembly because, frankly,   the Constitution did not make any provision for National Conference. But this is a country where we came up with the Doctrine of Necessity when we were confronted with a problem. I’m sure we have enough SANs, who can come up with how to get the National Assembly and the president to read from the same page so that the outcome of the National Conference can become law. But I must say this. I admire the president. If not for anything for one thing. I may be wrong, I don’t believe I know of any government in the world that would decide to embark on a major programme and put critics of the government on the advisory committee to come up with modalities. If you know Femi Okurounmu, Professor Nwabueze was there to start with, he (Nwabueze) dropped because of old age. Asemota. I can mention about six. These are difficult people to deal with and you now put them into a committee to come up with modalities. It takes courage. Normally, government will say ‘we are looking for our own people. ‘That one is on the same page with us, put him there. That one is not our friend. No, no, no remove him from the list.’ That is how government operates, frankly, whether here, in America or Britain. They will say ‘don’t put him on the committee, he is a troublemaker’. These are the people the president looked for. I admire Mr President for that, it shows courage. I am not even sure I have that kind of courage. I want to ask two questions. Please encapsulate the gains of that committee. What would you say the committee achieved? Two, from what you said earlier, it’s like you more or less canvassed compensation for victims of Boko Haram. And I know the president had said there wouldn’t be compensation. Did the committee recommend that? Is the committee in disagreement with the president on that? Let me take the last question first. No, we didn’t canvass compensation. We canvassed victims’ support. What’s the difference between the two? A man, a driver loses his left eye in the bombing. If he goes to court, the judge can award N2m  to N3 million compensation. We said no. Instead, look at the man. He lost one eye and can’t drive again. What does he want to do? What do we suggest to him to help him maintain his family, educate his children and put food on the table and have another life? He might decide to become a carpenter. In this case, government pays for the man to be trained to be a carpenter. You set up a workshop for him after he graduates. You give him the running capital, so that from the proceeds of that workshop, he can now maintain his family. That is victims’ support. All the money you are going to put into it may not  be more than N5m. You don’t even know the figure. We are not concentrating on the figure. We are concentrating on giving the man an alternative life. Take a woman who lost her husband. Maybe, she has run away from Maiduguri to settle in Opebi, Ikeja. Resettlement. Is it a small shop that will set up this woman who lost her husband, the breadwinner, and left to cater for the children? How much will it be to set up a shop for her and give her running capital? That is victims’ support. But the moment you talk about compensation, it is a legal term.  Then, you have to start setting up a committee to decide how much you compensate the woman for the loss of her husband. We didn’t want to go down that road. We were reading on the same page with the president. I was the Chairman of the Victims’ Support Committee. We wrote the draft for a Victim Support Agency that would handle this matter. Did the president accept that? Yes, he did. Now the first part of the question, what were the gains. The committee took a holistic look at the problems facing Nigeria that encourages insurgency all over the country. We came up with a recommendation for a Marshal Plan for the whole country. Not just the North-Eeast but for the whole country. Manifestations of insurgency are kidnapping, blowing up of oil wells, armed robbery. We didn’t put a figure on it but we suggested a Marshal Plan that would rescue Nigeria. Recall that in the new budget, the president said N2 billion intervention fund for the North-east and, when they complained that it was too small, the Minister of State for Finance said that was just the first tranche for this year out of the total amount. I am not privy to what the president is going to do with our report. And I am   not privy to what he has decided to do, but, obviously, he has accepted the concept of an intervention fund. The other gain, as far as I am concerned, is the way we reached out to the victims. We had a meeting with the surviving victims of the Madalla bombing as well as the surviving victims of the NYSC office that was blown up. I remember one of the priests who still had shrapnel wounds and lost one of his children. He brought another son who had metal plate…Frankly, there was no dry eye. Everybody was moved to tears. But the man said the ‘healing has just started by the fact that the government sent you people’. He said apart from the government delegation that came the day after the bombing, they had seen nobody, such that they thought they had been forgotten. So, you have that psychological reaching out to them. And it happened to me also in Kano when I went to the hospital. There was a man on bed who, first of all, told me off. He asked, what did I come to the hospital to do? Have I come to say sorry? Is that what he needed? I asked, did he mind if I sat on his bed? He told me to sit wherever I wanted  to sit. I sat next to him on his bed and we just allowed him to talk. And it turned out that he lost his three children and when he removed the clothes covering him, he had tubes coming out of…I saw he had lost his vital organ. He said even if  he wanted to start all over again, he could not  start. After he had talked, I started calming him down. I said I was  not even going to say  sorry, because I didn’t do it. I told him the president sent us to let him know that he knew they exist. I spoke to him and gave him a little package. He calmed down and gave us advice on what to do for the victims. We went around the country, reaching out. This is a remarkable difference from what used to happen in this country where no one remembers such victims. I remember when Yar’Adua became president, I called one of his aides to tell the president to write a letter to victims of a major accident that happened at that time somewhere in Delta and a lot of people died. Let us try to show that government can be  compassionate. This is what I expect First Ladies to be doing, frankly. When there are disasters, I expect the First Lady to go to the hospital. Obviously, she can’t go to every home. This is the compassionate face of government. We did that. We showed the compassionate face of government. To me, those are what we count as gains. Obviously, we didn’t persuade  Boko Haram to give up but we came up with what I would regard as an exhaustive report on what causes insurgency. If you go to government archives, there are up to 50 of such reports that had been written. I cannot claim that to be our own success. But those two, victims’ support and proposing a Marshal Plan to actually pull Nigerians out of the gutters of misery, I would regard those as having been worth the time spent on it. As a fallout of the work of your committee, you have said that things have improved. Maybe you have Boko Haram boxed into the corner, but you have also seen them grow in terms of their capability. Before, you didn’t have columns of pick-up vans. Now they have all that. They have more ordnance. They even attacked military bases. They never had that kind of capability. So when we say things have improved…. (Cuts in) When the president asked me, I said, no. He asked me, do I think… Now what I’m getting at is, how do you rate the capability of the military to deal with this problem? I am not in a position to answer that question on the military tactics being adopted. But this has to do with the fact that I am not the Minister of Defence, a service chief, not the National Security Adviser; so I don’t really know. Do we have operational drones? I know the president went to inaugurate one, but is it operational? If those drones are operational, you will be able to pick up. Although they are expensive to run, you need drones. You have to pick up the columns and before it gets there, you can send bombers after them or you set an  ambush for them.   I, myself, have questions to ask. Let me use this opportunity to say this. There was a front page story in one of the newspapers last time. Somebody designed toys for his child. And he has designed this thing that can actually fly. I looked at that thing. Believe me, if I were the president of the country, my National Security Adviser would have gone to pick up that man. So, you’ve got brains to do this. How can we make this thing operational? First of all, what other brain waves have you got?   This is how to make a breakthrough. Obviously, the guy has the technological skills. This thing flew out of his compound and crashed into another place. That is the way to develop Nigeria, not through PhD. Yes, you need PhDs, but research and development. Go back through history and see. There was this man, during the Italian renaissance, he’s noted now more for sculpture. They came up with files of his drawings. He was able to dissect the human body, that showed where muscles are. He did designs for submarines at a time nobody even heard of ships apart from wooden canoes. He designed space ships. He never went to school. Americans spent $300billion on their space programme. India spent $1.65billion on their own. You want to tell me that Nigeria cannot afford $1.65billion? I am sure, in one month, we steal more than 1.65billion in Nigeria. That’s how much Indian space programme cost. The Chinese did the same thing. Simply because while America will spend $50 million trying to develop a pen that would not drip in space, the Chinese would just take a pencil along into space. It doesn’t cost them anything, the pencil is already there. So, the Chinese spent $1.6 billion. And they have put an explorer on the moon now. Nigeria can afford this. I know I have been preaching this since my days at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs about what Nigeria can be doing, even before it has solved its poverty problem. Other countries have done so. Give us something to make us proud. I’m 72 now. I want this country to do something so that on my death bed, I can smile and say yes, my country made it. Right now, there is nothing to make me say my country made it. I believe in celebrating 100 years. I am not looking down on that. It has been a difficult existence for us. But whether we become so pessimistic or so depressed about the performance of our leaders, that even things we should celebrate, we don’t want to celebrate them. But a hundred years of our existence, not so peaceful, can’t be peaceful. It cannot. We are human beings, we are not robots. Human beings with fears, with misunderstandings. No, it can’t be peaceful. That we are still together after 100 years is worth celebrating. But I want something more than that to celebrate on my death bed. What is your comment on Obasanjo’s letter to Jonathan? All that needs to be say has been said by the exchange of those letters. I shy away from getting myself involved in a situation where the whole purpose is to say, ‘Hey, I’m still alive. I’m still relevant’. I shy away from that. Enough have been said about those letters. Some of the comments have been useful, some to add fuel to the fire. The other comments not useful at all. They were just drawing attention to themselves. This is a New Year. I prefer to just watch and see things unfolding. Even though, I am a professor of political science, I am not a prophet. So, I will join all of you in folding my hands and watching events unfold and let the waves carry us to where the waves are going. Was Nigeria snubbed by South Africa at the funeral of Nelson Mandela? Yes we were snubbed. There is no other answer to that question. But the Jonathan administration is not to blame for that. If the snub had been directed at the president, then why were other Nigerians who are prominent internationally not invited and given a prominent mention? The root cause lies in the propensity of so-called eminent Nigerians   going round backstabbing other Nigerians, running them down internationally, all in an attempt to give the impression that nobody else counts except themselves. Since 1979, we have always had two presidents on each occasion, one located at the capital and the other self-styled located elsewhere, entertaining and gossiping with members   of the diplomatic corps and running down state functionaries. There were others who also indulged in these disgraceful and shameful practices. However in the process, the international community saw through the despicable characters and adjudge them worthless. The end result is that it is the whole of Nigeria that suffers as the international community decides to give Nigeria a wide berth and not get involved in the Nigerian wahala. That explains why those who trumpeted their relationship with Nelson Mandela were nowhere to be seen at the funeral. *Source  Vanguard

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Obasanjo/Jonathan rift, governors’ defection, National Conference, others to shape Nigeria’s politics in 2014
January 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

Festus Owete* Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s first PDP president and Goodluck JonathanAs Nigeria moves towards the 2015 general elections, several factors could influence and determine the country’s leadership, growth, and politics in 2014. Festus Owete reviews how these factors could play up. Obasanjo/Jonathan rift The dust generated by the exchange of letters between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck just before the close of 2014 is yet to settle. In his December 2 letter titled “Before it is too late,” to Mr. Jonathan, Mr. Obasanjo accused the president of failure to deliver on his electoral promises, promote national unity, and tackle corruption. He also alleged that Mr. Jonathan was about to renege on his promise to spend one term of four year in office and is training a killer squad to eliminate political opponents ahead of the 2015 general elections. The president fired back in a letter dated December 20, dismissing all the allegations; and challenged the former president, his political benefactor, to substantiate them with facts. The rift between both Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, leaders is certain to create some upset; not just in the ruling party, but also in the country. Already party faithful and opposition elements have queued up behind the two. Therefore, how the matter is resolved might determine to a large extent who becomes the standard bearer of the ruling party in the 2015 presidential election. Jonathan’s political future Since 2014 is the year that precedes the general elections; Mr. Jonathan might announce his political future. He has repeatedly rebuffed pressures to publicly declare if he will contest or not. Indeed, the president’s alleged plan to run again has been at the heart of the festering crisis within the PDP. Again, it was one issue that formed the content of Mr. Obasanjo’s letter. Before Mr. Obasanjo’s letter, the issue of who will be the standard bearer of the ruling party in the 2015 election had crept into the polity quite early in 2013 with the Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, alleging that Mr. Jonathan signed a pact that he would spend only one term in office. Although he wasn’t able to produce the pact, the issue just refused to leave thus inducing tension in the ruling party as well as the nation. Will Jonathan run? Will he not? Whatever he decides will determine the political temperature of the PDP, and indeed the nation in 2014 and the coming years. This is because if he decides to contest, it will further deepen the crisis in the party. If he decides otherwise, calm may return to the party and fresh aspirants would be thrown up. It would also be the first time in Nigeria’s history that an incumbent president will decline to contest for a second term. APC membership and gale of defection from PDP While playing host to some stalwarts of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change, CPC, at the Government House, Kano, late December, the Kano State Governor, Musa Kwankwaso, hinted of the planned defection of more governors elected on the platform of the PDP. Although, he did not state when the governors would move nor the party they would decamp to, Mr. Kwankwaso, in the remarks, said his own defection alongside four other governors of the PDP last November 26, was merely “a tip of the iceberg,” compared to the impending gubernatorial defection. According to him, the governors had planned to quit the ruling party because it had lost credibility and potency to take Nigeria to the Promised Land. Two days later, his Rivers State counterpart, Chibuike Amaechi, re-echoed the Kano State Governor. Speaking in Port Harcourt, the state capital, Mr. Amaechi, a fresh defector to APC, who was definite on the time the unnamed governors would decamp, said the PDP, his former party, would in the coming year become the opposition party. “Most of you may have known that I have since left the PDP to a better party called the All Progressives Congress because the PDP is a drowning party and the facts remain that PDP is a drowning party,” the governor said. “Watch out before March if we don’t have the numbers that we are looking for. So, you can’t call us opposition anymore because there are three arms of government and only two are electable, the executive and legislature. “Yes, the PDP has the national executive, but we are inching close to having the legislature. Who then would be called the opposition if we have it? Since November 26 when five PDP governors stunningly decamped to the APC, a gale of defection has hit the nation’s political scene. Apart from Messrs Amaechi and Kwankwaso, the other governors who left the PDP were Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara). Shortly after, 37 PDP lawmakers in the House of Representatives followed suit with their defection to the APC amid threat by the ruling party to declare their seats vacant. It was an event that stripped the ruling party of its majority status in the House of Representatives, which it had enjoyed since the return of democracy in 1999. The Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, who has become critical of the PDP-controlled executive arm, is reportedly under pressure from the APC to also quit the PDP; just as there were reports before the close of 2013 that about 22 senators were already planning to dump the ruling party. Similarly, towards the end of the year, the APC leaders, in their recruitment drive, visited some senior members of the PDP during which they formally invited them to join the opposition party. Among those visited were former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar; with only the latter not being a card-carrying member of the ruling party. It is believed that some of lawmakers and leaders of the ruling party might eventually yield to the pressure from the opposition in the New Year. Should this happen, it will further redefine the nation’s political landscape and ultimately determine the strength of the two parties in the 2015 electoral contest. APC National Convention Even as the APC remains the major beneficiary of the crisis in the PDP, not a few believe it will have its own share of implosion this year. What with the strange bedfellows moving daily into the self-styled progressive party as well as the infighting that may characterise the sharing of offices in its impending national convention? Upon its registration last July 1, merging parties named its interim officers based on a sharing agreement. The parties also agreed to hold a national convention after one year to elect its substantive officers. However, not a few believe that with the new entrants from the PDP, some initial calculations as regards sharing of party position might be altered. Already, the decision of the APC national leadership to hand over the party structures to the five governors who recently decamped to it in their respective states is causing ripples. What is also certain is the outcome of the convention could throw up sectional and individual ambitions, especially who picks the presidential ticket for the 2015 general elections. Governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States Although the November 16 governorship election in Anambra State somewhat provided the nation’s two biggest and rival parties, APC and PDP to test their might. The real test, Nigeria’s political watchers believe, will come to play in Ekiti and Osun States where governorship polls are billed to hold in 2014. The reason is simple: Unlike in Anambra where the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, is in power, both Ekiti and Osun states in the South West political zone are run by the APC, which will desire to keep them away from the PDP. The latter ruled both states at some point. Even so, the internal politics that will play out in the APC in both states ahead of the elections is also something to watch. For now, the party’s body language indicates that it desires to allow the incumbents in the states, Kayode Fayemi and Rauf Aregbesola, respectively, to have another shot at the gubernatorial seats. This certainly has not gone down well with others who want to try their luck. For instance, in Ekiti, Mr. Fayemi’s fiercest challenger, Opeyemi Bamidele, has dumped the APC for the Labour Party, LP, to actualize his ambition. It is not clear who the PDP, which ruled the state between 2003 and 2009 will present as its governorship candidate. Major aspirants on the PDP platform are a former governor, Ayo Fayose, and a serving minister, Caleb Olubolade. The PDP is already having its fair share of the ambition-related crisis that is expected to worsen as the election approaches. The situation is not radically different in Osun. In the neighbouring Osun, the PDP will yet make another desperate effort to recapture the state. A former deputy governor, Iyiola Omisore, who is angling for the governorship seat and appears set to pick the PDP ticket, seems to have found a ready ally in the incumbent National Secretary of the ruling party, Wale Oladipo, also an indigene of the state, to dislodge the APC from power. Clearly the battle promises to be epic as Osun is also one of the states where APC is strongest. The party’s interim National Chairman, Bisi Akande, was governor in the state between 1999 and 2003; while the immediate past governor of the state, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, is currently struggling to retain his position as the National Secretary of the PDP, but is believed to have his heart in the APC. Mr. Oyinlola was the National Secretary of the defunct ‘New PDP’ which fused into the APC. National Dialogue Another issue that could shape the political scene in 2014 is the proposed national dialogue, which holds in February. The direction of the national conference might also determine the direction of the polity. The Conference Committee headed by Femi Okunroumu, which was set up in October to work out modalities has since submitted its report to the President. However, criticisms are still trailing the planned national talks, as the APC has rejected it completely. Mr. Jonathan’s plan to turn in the decisions of the conference to the National Assembly has also generated heat. But what is fuelling more criticisms is the suspicion that it will be used to prolong the president’s tenure. The APC is believed to have dissociated itself from the proposed dialogue for this reason. Some governors, including those of the PDP have also reportedly kicked against the event. Ministerial appointments The composition of the federal cabinet might play a critical role in the nation’s political event in 2014. Already, no fewer than seven ministries are without substantive ministers. Mr. Jonathan in his first major cabinet shake-up fired nine ministers in September 2013. Those affected were Ruqayyatu Rufai (Education); Zainab Kunchi (Power, state); Olugbenga Ashiru (Foreign Affairs); Ama Pepple (Lands and Housing); Shamsudeen Usman (National Planning); Ita Okon (Science and Technology); Hadiza Mailafia (Environment); Buka Tijani (Agriculture, state) and Olusola Obada (Defence, state). Some of those fired were believed to be the nominees of some ‘rebel’ governors whose wings the president allegedly wanted to clip and force them into submission in the battle for political supremacy. But there is the feeling that Mr. Jonathan might fire more ministers especially those who are protégés of some of the PDP big wigs who have dumped the party for the APC or who are opposed to his re-election. Among the names being bandied in the media is Bolaji Abdullahi, the Sports Minister, who is a nominee of Bukola Saraki, a senator and ex- leader of PDP in Kwara. Mr. Saraki and his followers, including the Kwara governor, have since joined the APC. Another name being mentioned is Akinwunmi Adeshina, the Agriculture minister, who is believed to have been nominated by Mr. Obasanjo. Both ministers are, however, two of the few who have been widely commended for Nigeria’s achievements in their sectors during their tenure; a factor that could work in their favour. Some other ministers who could be let go so as to pursue their governorship ambitions in their states are Caleb Olukolade (Police Affairs) from Ekiti State, Labaran Maku (Information) from Nasarawa; and Bala Mohammed (FCT, Abuja) from Bauchi. Any removal and replacement of the ministers will certainly alter the shape of politics as the nation approaches the election year. *Source Premium Times]]>

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“Let’s Work For national unity, peace, stability and progress” –Jonathan Urges Nigerians In New Year Message
January 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

Goodluck JonathanI greet and felicitate with you all as we enter the year 2014 which promises to be a momentous one for our country for several reasons, including the fact that it is also the year of our great nation’s centenary celebrations. I join you all in giving thanks to God Almighty for guiding us and our beloved nation safely through all the challenges of the outgoing year to the beginning of 2014. Exactly 100 years ago today, on January 1, 1914, the British Colonial authorities amalgamated what was then the separate Protectorates of Southern Nigeria and Northern Nigeria, giving birth to the single geopolitical entity known as Nigeria.  For us therefore, today is not just the beginning of a new year, but the end of a century of national existence and the beginning of another. It is a moment for sober reflection and for pride in all that is great about Nigeria. Whatever challenges we may have faced, whatever storms we may have confronted and survived, Nigeria remains a truly blessed country, a country of gifted men and women who continue to distinguish themselves in all spheres of life, a country whose diversity remains a source of strength.  We pay tribute today, as always to our founding fathers and mothers, and all the heroes and heroines whose toil and sweat over the century made this country what it is today. As I noted, a few days ago, the amalgamation of 1914 was certainly not a mistake but a blessing.  As we celebrate 100 years of nationhood, we must resolve to continue to work together as one, united people, to make our country even greater. I assure you that our administration remains fully committed to the progressive development of our country and the consolidation of peace, unity and democratic governance in our fatherland. Despite several continuing domestic and global challenges, for us in Nigeria, the year 2013 witnessed many positive developments which we will strive to build upon in 2014. We have diligently carried forward the purposeful and focused implementation of our agenda for national transformation in priority areas such as power, the rehabilitation and expansion of national infrastructure, agricultural development, education and employment generation. You may recall that our 2013 Budget was on the theme, “Fiscal Consolidation with Inclusive Growth”, and I emphasized the need for us to “remain prudent with our fiscal resources and also ensure that the Nigerian economy keeps growing and creating jobs”. I am pleased to report that we have stayed focused on this goal. Our national budget for 2014 which is now before the National Assembly is specifically targeted at job creation and inclusive growth. We are keenly aware that in spite of the estimated 1.6 million new jobs created across the country in the past 12 months as a result of our actions and policies, more jobs are still needed to support our growing population. Our economic priorities will be stability and equitable growth, building on the diverse sectors of our economy. In 2013, we commenced implementation of the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) aimed at industrializing Nigeria and diversifying our economy into sectors such as agro-processing, light manufacturing, and petrochemicals. We have also negotiated a strong Common External Tariff (CET) agreement with our ECOWAS partners which would enable us to protect our strategic industries where necessary. I am pleased to note that as a result of our backward integration policies, Nigeria has moved from a country that produced 2 million metric tonnes of cement in 2002, to a country that now has a capacity of 28.5 million metric tonnes. For the first time in our history, we have moved from being a net importer of cement to a net exporter. Foreign direct investment into Nigeria has also been strong. In fact, for the second year running, the UN Conference on Trade and Development has named Nigeria as the number 1 destination for investments in Africa. We are witnessing a revolution in the agricultural sector and the results are evident. We have tackled corruption in the input distribution system as many farmers now obtain their fertilizers and seeds directly through an e-wallet system. In 2013, 4.2 million farmers received subsidized inputs via this programme. This scheme has restored dignity to our farmers. Last year we produced over 8 million metric tonnes of additional food; and this year, inflation fell to its lowest level since 2008 partly due to higher domestic food production. Our food import bill has also reduced from N1.1 trillion in 2011, to N648 billion in 2012, placing Nigeria firmly on the path to food self-sufficiency. The sector is also supporting more jobs. Last year, we produced 1.1 million metric tonnes of dry season rice across 10 Northern states; and over 250,000 farmers and youths in these States are now profitably engaged in farming even during the dry season. This Administration is also developing our water resources which are key for both our food production and job creation goals. In 2013, we completed the construction of nine dams which increased the volume of our water reservoirs by 422 million cubic metres.  Through our irrigation and drainage programme, we have increased the total irrigated area by over 31,000 hectares creating jobs for over 75,000 farming families while increasing production of over 400,000 metric tons of assorted irrigated food products. Fellow Compatriots, I have always believed that the single greatest thing we can do to ensure all Nigerians realize their potential and play a full part in our nation’s future, is to invest in education. The education of our young people is a key priority for this Government. We take this responsibility very seriously and I urge all other stakeholders in the sector to recognize the national importance of their work, and to help advance the cause of education in our nation. Between 2007 and 2013, we have almost tripled the allocation for education from N224 billion to N634 billion – and we will continue to vigorously support the sector. We have improved access to education in the country with the construction of 125 Almajiri schools, and the establishment of three additional Federal Universities in the North, bringing to twelve, the number of universities established by this administration. In 2013, we rehabilitated 352 laboratories and constructed 72 new libraries in the Federal Unity Schools; and also rehabilitated laboratories of all the 51 Federal and State polytechnics across the country. In the Health sector, we are building strong safety nets and improving access to primary health care under the Saving One Million Lives programme. In 2013, we recruited 11,300 frontline health workers who were deployed to under-served communities across the country. Over 400,000 lives have been saved through our various interventions. We have reached over 10,000 women and children with conditional cash transfer programmes across 8 States and the FCT and we intend to scale up this successful initiative. Our national immunization coverage has exceeded 80%. And for the first time in the history of the country there has not been any transmission of the Type-3 Wild Polio virus for more than one year. We have also eradicated the guinea worm that previously affected the lives of over 800,000 Nigerians yearly. In tertiary health care, we upgraded medical facilities across the country. Two of our teaching hospitals – the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu, and the University College Hospital in Ibadan – commenced open heart surgeries this year after the installation of new facilities. Fellow Nigerians, I have dwelt on some of our administration’s achievements in 2013 to reassure you that we are working and results are being achieved on the ground. As we enter our Centennial year, there is still much work ahead. We are determined to sustain our strong macroeconomic fundamentals, to strengthen our domestic institutions, and to invest in priority sectors. These investments will create more jobs for our youth. Government will at the same time, continue to scale-up investments in safety nets and the MDGs to take care of the poor and the vulnerable so that they too can share in our growth and prosperity. In 2014, we will continue to prioritize investments in key sectors such as  infrastructure development, power, roads, rail transportation and aviation. In the past year, the Federal Government completed the privatization of four power generation companies and 10 power distribution companies. We are also in the process of privatizing 10 power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP). We shall boost investments in transmission to ensure power generated is properly evacuated and distributed. In this regard, we have already mobilized an additional $1.5 billion for the upgrade of the transmission network in 2014 and beyond.  Government will also strengthen regulation of the sector, and closely monitor electricity delivery to increase this beyond 18 hours per day. We will complete the privatization of the NIPP projects, accelerate work on our gas pipeline infrastructure and also continue to invest in hydro-electric power and clean energy as we monitor the effects of climate change on our economy. Our administration believes that the cost of governance in the country is still too high and must be further reduced. We will also take additional steps to stem the tide of corruption and leakages. We have worked hard to curb fraud in the administration of the pension system and the implementation of the petroleum subsidy scheme. We have introduced a Pensions Transition Arrangement Department under a new Director-General. This department will now ensure that those of our pensioners still under the old scheme receive their pensions and gratuities, and are not subjected to fraud. Prosecution of all those involved in robbing our retired people will continue. The Petroleum Subsidy Scheme is also now being operated under new strict guidelines to tackle previous leakages in the scheme and prevent fraud. Foreign travel by government personnel will be further curtailed. This directive shall apply to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government. Our strategy to curb leakages will increasingly rely on introducing the right technologies such as biometrics and digitizing government payments. I am therefore pleased to inform you that we shall complete the deployment of the three electronic platforms in 2014 – namely, the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) – which are all geared towards improving efficiency and transparency in our public finances. Through these reforms, we have already saved about N126 billion in leaked funds and intend to save more. To sustain Nigeria’s ongoing agricultural transformation, we have planned further investments in the sector. We will provide input subsidies to five million farmers nationwide using the e-wallet system.  This Administration recently launched a self-employment initiative under the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), called the Nagropreneur programme. This scheme would encourage our youth to go into commercial agriculture as entrepreneurs and we plan to develop over 750,000 young Nagropreneurs by 2015. We will also establish new agro-industrial clusters to complement the staple crop processing zones being developed across the country. In 2014, this Administration will continue to work with the private sector to improve financing in the agricultural sector. For example, we will launch the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN) which will serve as a private equity fund to invest in agri-businesses across the country. Our Small and Medium scale enterprises (SMEs) will be the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization. We have about 17 million registered SMEs, and they employ over 32 million Nigerians. When our SMEs grow, more jobs will be created for our youth. Therefore, in 2014, this Administration will focus strongly on implementing the Nigeria Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) to address the needs of small businesses. Our interventions will include helping SMEs with access to affordable finance, business development services, and youth training. In addition, our new CET policies will enable us to support our emerging industries. We will also intensify our investment promotion efforts abroad, to ensure we bring the biggest and best companies from around the world to invest in Nigeria. JonathanDear Compatriots, the housing and construction industry is a critical sector in most developed economies. When the housing sector booms, it creates additional jobs for architects and masons, for electricians and plumbers, forpainters and interior decorators, and for those in the cement and furniture industries. Today, I am pleased to inform you that this Administration is reinvigorating our housing and construction sector. We have established the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) which will increase liquidity in the housing sector, provide a secondary market for mortgages, and thereby increase the number of people able to purchase or build homes at an affordable price in the country. In 2014, we will work in a number of pilot states where the State Governors have agreed to provide fast-track land titles, foreclosure arrangements, and serviced plots. This new institution will enable us to create over 200,000 mortgages over the next five years at affordable interest rates. In addition, those at the lower end of the economic ladder will not be left behind as this new initiative will expand mass housing schemes through a re-structured Federal Mortgage Bank and other institutions to provide rent-to-own and lease-to-own options. I am confident that very soon, many more hardworking Nigerian families will be able to realize their dream of owning a home. In this our centenary year, we will continue our efforts, through the Saving One Million Lives initiative to strengthen primary health care services. We will scale up interventions in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition, routine immunization, HIV/AIDS, malaria elimination, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, and non-communicable diseases. We will pay greater attention to the provision of universal health coverage. Besides the implementation of new initiatives such as my comprehensive response plan for HIV/AIDS, we shall continue to collaborate with global health partners to deliver our health sector transformation agenda. I am glad that the issues responsible for the long-drawn ASUU strike have been resolved and our children are returning to their campuses. We are committed to making our tertiary institutions true centers of learning for our young people. We will therefore focus on upgrading hostels, laboratories, classrooms, and halls.  As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals approaches, we will continue to expand access to basic education for all Nigerian children. Working with State Governments, we shall decisively tackle the problem of the large numbers of out-of-school children in this country. We will also invest in technical and vocational education to promote skills development for our youth across the country. Nigerian entrepreneurs still lack access to affordable financing, with medium-to-long-term tenors. To address this gap, a new wholesale development finance institution will be established in 2014 to provide medium-to long-term financing for Nigerian businesses. We are working with partners such as the World Bank, the Africa Development Bank, the BNDES Bank in Brazil, and KfW in Germany, to realize this project. Our existing Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry will be re-structured as specialized institutions to retail financing from this new wholesale development bank. In addition to the foregoing, our administration will also do all within its powers to ensure the success of the forthcoming National Conference. The report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Conference is undergoing urgent review and the approved structure, guidelines and modalities for the conference will soon be published as a prelude to its commencement and expeditious conclusion. It remains our sincere hope and expectation that the success of the national conference will further enhance national unity, peace and cohesion as we move ahead to the 2015 general elections.   In keeping with our avowed commitment to progressively enhancing the credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process by consistently upholding the principle of one man, one vote, our Administration will also ensure that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) receives all required support to ensure that it is adequately prepared for the next general elections. As peace and security remain prerequisite conditions for the full realization of our objectives, we will also do more in 2014 to further empower our security agencies who are working in collaborative partnerships with our friends in the international community to stem the scourge of terrorism in our country and enhance the security of lives and property in all parts of Nigeria. The allocation of over N600 Billion to Defence and Policing in the 2014 Budget attests to this commitment. Fellow compatriots, the task of making our dear nation a much better place for present and future generations cannot be left to government alone. I therefore urge you all to be ready and willing to do more this year to support the implementation of the Federal Government’s Agenda for National Transformation in every possible way. Let us all therefore resolve as we celebrate the new year, and Nigeria’s Centenary, to place the higher interests of national unity, peace, stability and progress above all other considerations and work harder in our particular fields of human endeavour to contribute more significantly to the attainment of our collective aspirations. I urge all Nigerians, no matter their stations in life, to rededicate themselves to contributing meaningfully to further enrich our national heritage. The time for that re-dedication is now, not tomorrow. I wish you all a happy and rewarding 2014. God bless Nigeria. Happy New Year  ]]>

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Never take unity for granted
January 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Atiku Abubakar*

AtikuAs we mark the centenary celebration of the amalgamation of the Lagos colony with the Northern and Southern Protectorates by the British Colonial occupier forming one country, Nigerians need to pat each other on the back for we have truly come a long way. However, we must redouble our efforts towards building a stronger and more united Nigeria rather than concentrating energies on division or breakup.

The recent clamor by some of Nigeria’s leaders for a renegotiation of the continued being of Nigeria are dishonest and an unnecessary distraction from the future that we can build. Such leaders need to be concentrating their efforts on tackling the challenges ranging from lack of security to addressing poverty and unemployment through infrastructural investments. The victims of structural ineptitude are not distinguished on the basis of their ethnicity, tribe, religion or region. In is also a truism that both the perpetrators and their victims are Nigerians, and secession  will not fix these woes. Rather, if our leaders devoted more energy on dealing with these basic challenges facing the ordinary Nigerians, ethnic and religious differences would have sunk to the background as people are able to focus on the economic and social opportunities available to them. Once the citizens are contented through the availability of opportunities granted by good governance, these dividing lines will gradually become symbols of Nigeria’s unique composition, driving progress through a collaboration of perspectives and ideas.

To me, it is regretful that more than forty years after the unfortunate and devastating civil war the country went through, leaders could still be busy playing the ethnic and religious cards to gain power while poverty, unemployment, hunger and disease continue to ravage our people, leading many to venture into illicit and sometimes violent activities in order to provide for their families. True leaders must at all times shun the temptation of taking Nigerian’s perceived resilience for granted. Rather than being a source of weakness, diversity remains a major challenge to which all Nigerians must be sincerely committed.

My message to fellow countrymen and women as we mark this landmark occasion is that we should not take our unity for granted or push our luck too far. We should learn from the recent experiences of other African countries. The current situation in South Sudan is a reminder to all African champions of division and pursuit of ethnic superiority that the secession  of a group of people from a nation based on ethnic, racial or religious identities does not guarantee freedom from the struggle for life and only deepens the trivial divides which distract us from our common humanity. The gains of independence in South Sudan are now going up in smoke because of inter-ethnic rivalries and hostilities at the expense of unity.

Nigeria and its people can no longer afford to weave a tangled web of fractious identities wrongfully defined by their opposition to one another. Nigerians should take pride in the identities that they have inherited from their families, yet also take pride in their Nigerian identity, the identity constructed on the basis of tolerance and respect for our compatriots whose daily struggles mirror our own, and whose dreams of a better tomorrow are shared.

*Atiku is Former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

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Why Al-Mustapha and I are plotting a tsunami – Dokubo-Asari
January 1, 2014 | 1 Comments

Aderonke Ogunleye*   [caption id="attachment_7809" align="alignleft" width="240"]Asari Dokubo Asari Dokubo[/caption] Mr. Dokubo-Asari says those opposing the president are wasting their time as the 2015 presidential election is a foregone conclusion. He explains that Mr. Jonathan is only waiting to be sworn in The President of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, NDPVF, Muhajid Asari-Dokubo told PREMIUM TIMES in this interview (conducted before his recent arrest in Benin Republic) that nothing would stop President Goodluck Jonathan from winning the 2015 presidential election. He also explains why he is working on a “tsunami” with Hamza Al-Mustapha and other ethnic warlords. Excerpts: There were reports recently quoting you as saying there will be bloodshed in the country. Did you really make that statement? Yes, I did. If you look at the attacks that have been directed at Goodluck since it became apparent that he was going to become president since 2010, certain individuals especially the Ciromas, Lawal Kaita, General Muhammadu Buhari, General Ibrahim Babangida, have also made several statements that if President Goodluck Jonathan become president they will make sure that he fails. I quote: Lawal Kaita said ‘It is the turn of the north to produce the president, that if Jonathan by default wins the nomination of the PDP, we will stop him at the general elections. If we fail to stop him at the general election, even if he wins he will not be able to rule we will make the country ungovernable for him.’ Goodluck Jonathan comes from a place. Nobody has a monopoly of violence. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. We cannot sit, fold our hands and watch. If we had done that Goodluck Jonathan would have been killed long time ago. He comes from a place, a place that feeds the nation. Nigeria is only existing because of Ijaw, Ogoni, Itsekiri, Isoko, Ibo and Urhobo oil. Nigeria is only existing because of its access to the coast provided by the Ijaws, Itskeri and the Yorubas. Nigeria would have become a landlocked country. So we contribute to the survival of Nigeria. All these men have gained from the misnomer called Nigeria because Nigeria claims to be a Federal Republic but it’s not, it’s a very crude primitive state where we have an all-powerful centre. So it’s a reaction. We have to prepare for then. The last interview I granted I said it on Channels television, there was no such thing. I said and I repeat and I have no apology to anybody that those who said that the blood of the monkeys, baboons, dogs and if they want to soak them on the water we will help them to soak the blood of the baboons and the dogs on the street; if they want to soak them in water we will help them. That was my statement. Did you receive presidential pardon and amnesty? I lead the people. I was president of Ijaw Youth Council, which is the biggest youth group up till date and I’m also the leader of the Niger Delta Peoples’ Volunteer Force and Niger Delta Peoples’ Salvation Funds. Did I tell you that I collected amnesty? I am not a criminal. I don’t know what you are talking about. Asari isn’t a criminal. I am not a militant and I have a pedigree and I cannot soil my name. If the Nigerian state has any evidence to criminalize me they should go to court. They’ve done that several times and they failed without evidence. Yes people who took amnesty have been criminalized, that’s what it means. You pardon someone who has committed an offence, not all of them were criminals. But if you accept pardon as a criminal, why will I speak for you? You have accepted willingly. I did not collect amnesty and the majority of my people did not. Only those who broke away from us did. Did you accept presidential pardon? That question doesn’t sound right. I was granted bail by a competent court of jurisdiction and I am still on bail. I employed my lawyers. We went to the Supreme Court for bail application and for the first time in my life, the court suspended the constitution of this country because of me. The court says people can be arrested and be detained as long as the government wants. It’s a shame on the judiciary of this country that the Supreme Court gave a judgment suspending the constitution. That’s why some of us feel Goodluck is playing with these political miscreants who call themselves governors. He should hit them with the hammer. If I was hit with the hammer by Obasanjo, what is holding Goodluck Jonathan. He should hit these political miscreants with a hammer. Obasanjo should be arrested and detained, and Atiku too. They are ordinary citizens of this country. They are nobody. I don’t know about Babangida (because) he has not come out to talk about where he belongs. The government first refused to bring me to court. Yar’ Adua was compelled to release me from prison because of the bribe, because of the oil, that they want production which had fallen into 600,000 barrels. Nigeria was losing money, so they wanted to release Asari but I refused to sign. So many things were offered me but I said no and I refused to sign. Henry Okah and others signed. My mother died at the age of 29. I’m 50. My father died at the age 59. I’m 50. So, why should I be afraid of death? It will come when it will come. When God says you are going to die, you will die. So I cannot mortgage my integrity, my honour, my pedigree and that of my children. What is your take on the amnesty programme of this administration? I am one of the people who have been against amnesty. Amnesty is a crime against humanity. That someone raped, killed, committed all sorts of crime and after doing that, because you want money, mostly to steal, then you pardon the person. A man kidnapped another man, put him through trauma and you pardon him. A man raped and you pardon him. A man killed and you pardon him because you want money. But your friends are beneficiaries… My friends and I are not the same. My child and I are not the same, even my wife. None of my siblings took amnesty and NDPVF didn’t take amnesty. God has a way of preparing things since the time of creation. You recently met with Major Hamza Al-Mustapha. What was the meeting all about? You cannot divorce politics from whatever man is doing. Even between man and woman, politics is involved. The meeting with Al-Mustapha is to bring peace. Faseun, Uwazuruike, Yerima Shettima, Abacha, Tony Major and over 50 different organisations were there. Government wants to be oblivious of what is going on. It is a tsunami. It is the first time that people from the Caliphate, Borno and people from other part of this country are meeting. People have come to say ‘look, whatever has happened before we should put it aside, have a focus and put an eye on the future.’ All of us have suffered from one form of deprivation or the other. All of us have been in prison – myself, Pa Faseun, Uwazuruike, Al-Mustapha, Mohammed. We have been imprisoned at one time or the other. We have all suffered one form of deprivation or the other. Our collective suffering should be a sacrifice to bring hope to our people. We met and we saw the sincerity in them. Some people say I hate the north, but I laugh. They say I hate the Fulanis, Kanuris and I find that funny. I have two boys and their mother is a Fulani, living among Kanuri people from Borno state. One of them is named after me – Mujahid Dokubo and the other one is Nurul-Islam. They have been living with their mother. My son even speaks Hausa and Fulfude. He doesn’t even know how to speak my language. I am married to a Shuwa Arab also from Borno Empire. My in-laws come to my house, eat, sleep, live in my house and we do things together. When it comes to protecting the interest of my people, it is beyond me because of my personal life. So if people want to kill my people, I should fold my hands because I’m married to a Fulani woman? When everyone dies it will remain only my two sons and myself. God created me an Ijaw man for a purpose’ Are you supporting the president because he is Ijaw as you? Me, I no dey pretend! They say charity begins at home. Goodluck is an Ijaw man, who will I support? Prophet Mohammed said whether your brother is right or wrong, support him. And the people asked why you should support your brother when he is wrong. The Prophet said support him by correcting him. I am one of the most fiery, balanced critics of Goodluck, inside and outside the house. When the President does anything wrong and I don’t have access to him, I come out and shout at the roof top that he should fix things and they will start fixing it. The most important thing is that he is an Ijaw man. There is no compromise on that. As president of Ijaw Youth Council I’m to protect their interest. I’m an Ijaw man and I will protect their interest. In terms of performance, if you put Nigerian past leaders together, he has outperformed them. The Benin-Lagos Expressway is now passable. Obasanjo was there for eight years, he didn’t fix it. Abdulsalami was there, and also Abacha. During IBB’s time, the road was okay. Look at the Abuja-Lokoja Expressway. They budgeted for it every year. In all the eight years of Obasanjo, they didn’t go more than 5km on that road and money was budgeted, appropriated, misapplied and misappropriated. The road was comatose. Under Yar’Adua, they said N500 billion was released for special agricultural funds on a piece of paper, but nobody saw the money till today. Nigeria agricultural sector has come alive and everybody knows that. The investment profile of Nigeria has increased. The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) profile has increased. But there is widespread insecurity… Asari Dokubo and Al MustaphaNigeria is in a civil orchestrated by the Ciromas and the Kaitas trying to breath evil right on the back of a tiger. Abeg he go enter tiger belle. In Niger delta we have organization on the ground to put heads and balancing that when they put order everybody fall in line. We have order. But in the north, they don’t have the capacity because of years of deprivation of their people. The billion they made over this years doesn’t translate to the life of the ordinary northerners. The northerners are the poorest, the northerners are the most diseased, there is a lot of underdevelopment in the North. After years of looting so they have no control over their people so when they were thinking Boko Haram will be their own militia, their own militants they didn’t know how far Boko Haram will go. I schooled at Gamboru Gala. I learnt Quran there. Today Gamboru Gala is a no-go area. What can the president do? Goodluck Jonathan should declare a war in Nigeria. The country is in a state of war. Foreigners are coming into Nigeria, encouraged by the Ciromas and the Kaitas. These men should be arrested. They are the people who have come out to say they are displeased and they have done it and its happening. They should be arrested. They say if Goodluck wins they will make the country ungovernable for him and it has happened. If a witch says he will kill you today and tomorrow you have headache, it is the witch that caused it. The president should declare a war against these men. They have all apparatuses of a state. They are not ashamed. They said as far as they are concerned they are at war. Obasanjo brought helicopters to bomb my camp for 11 months we fought. In which state where he declared a state of emergency did he allow the political structure to remain? How will the president be playing with a life when we know and politicians from Borno state have accused SAS (Senator Ali Modu Sherif) that’s he’s responsible for setting up Boko Haram and he is a stalwart of APC. So why will the president be playing with them with kids gloves. These men should put in jail…. If I was put in prison, why should Ciroma not be out in prison. Why will Kaita and SAS not be put in prison? As for IBB, one statement or the other that he made is not enough for him to be put in jail. After that, he has made many mitigating statements. Goodluck Jonathan should use hammer against those political miscreants. They are all miscreants and hammer must be used against them. There is only one registered PDP known to INEC and its only PDP. Jonathan is indulging. If you break the law you should be treated as a lawbreaker. What is your relationship between you and your governor, Chibuike Amaechi? Let me tell you – Amaechi is a traitor, a traitor to all people of the South-South and South East. I’ve said it over and over when this thing started that as a traitor you will be treated as a traitor. Goodluck is shielding him. The president is not even fighting him. If Goodluck were fighting Amaechi, by now he would not go to Port Harcourt again. Many people have made sacrifices. Ken Saro Wiwa fought for our people. This man who calls himself Amaechi, who never won election, is a miscreant. We know his origin. He was Peter Odili’s ‘houseboy’ that Odili imposed on the people of Ikwerre Constituency without winning election. They collectively deceived the people of South-South. We were all student union leaders. I’m older than him. Can Amaechi win election in his unit? Has Amaechi ever supported Goodluck? This is how you indulge this criminal, common criminal who is supposed to be in prison. How did he get over one million votes? It’s rigging. I voted for Goodluck. Immediately after the election the position of PDP was that the South West should take the speakership seat. Amaechi and his people he brought to the National Assembly by manipulation supported Aminu Tambuwal and that is why they are heading important committees in the National Assembly. These are the characters working with this miscreant that we are indulging. At what point did the president and Amaechi fall out? I have already told you that all the PDP legislators that came from Rivers State stood against the president and supported Tambuwal. The problem started since then. The only president that can be compared to Goodlcuk in Nigeria is Shagari. He is peaceful, he has human feelings and he doesn’t want to hurt an ant. Amaechi and Adams Oshiomhole from the South-South have projected that if Goodluck is the president for the next four years, they will become irrelevant. They will be out of power for four years. Oshhiolome will be out of power for two years plus. Oshiomhole is my brother, but when it comes to standing with the president, friendship has got nothing to do. If oshiomhole is going for the presidency today, I will stake my life for him. But if he wants to go and join people because of political agenda or survival, we should jettison sacrifice and die for the South-South. So if Goodluck does not come back, anyone of them will aspire for the position of Senate President or the Speaker. Oshimhole is level headed than this small boy, Amaechi. He is not doing his own like a matured person, same as Rochas Okorocha. If Goodluck can complete eight years, they believe there is the likelihood that the presidency will go up to the north, that is if he wins the second term which I know he will. The political interest of our people is at stake. They will chase Rochas Okorocha away. Rochas is a goner and he knows it and he will go. That is why some of us are going to be aggressive with Goodluck. There is no begging, there’s no retreat, no surrender. We are not taking any Prisoner of War. It is going to be total vanquish, no Prisoner of War. This one is do or die. We are fighting for our soul and our survival now. They have aligned with Tinubu and we are going to see how it goes if Goodluck will contest. Let’s see how you will pass Goodluck and sit in Aso Rock. It is not about weapons to fight. Everything will be glaring and we will see it clearly. We heard Amacehi has been buying guns for the people. It is human beings that will shoot those guns. When the time comes we will see. Oshimhole is very mild. He opens ways for reconciliation, but Amaechi is not allowing reconciliation. He has reached the point of no return. What is your take on the opposition of some PDP chieftains against President Goodluck Jonathan? Kwankwaso is in charge of Kano. What is Goodluck business in Kano? They printed Kwankwaso with Buhari’s posters in Kano. Whether he’s behind him or not, they will not win the election. I don’t know whether he is part of it or not. Kwankwaso support is nothing. Atiku has started singing a new song. He said Goodluck could contest in 2015. I read it (in the newspapers). I read it somewhere that Obasanjo is the problem of the PDP. Bukola Saraki did not support Goodluck; he was a presidential candidate. It is that same grudge that he is bearing against Goodluck. Each of the states has its own political colouration. Goodluck didn’t win any state in the North East and North West zones. People forget so soon. He got two-thirds of 36 states. He will have the two-thirds and win the 2015 presidential election. The election is concluded, it is a foregone conclusion. When they are contesting election in the USA they will tell who will win. We have done our calculations and we know Goodluck has already won. If Goodluck won the last election with six million votes (then), now it will be 10 million votes. Most of them will start begging very soon and some have started begging. Are you disturbed about the drop in revenue in Nigeria? He who owns the land owns everything on the land and above the land. The Niger Delta people own all the things on the land and above the land in accordance with equity. They can’t steal what belongs to them. In accordance with equity and good conscience and natural justice, we will continue to have problems. You can’t take it from the Niger Delta and bring it to build houses in Abuja and go and develop Lagos and create Dangote, Otedola, Adenuga, Emeka Offor and even create Dokubo Asari. There must be natural justice and great conscience Somebody sitting there at the National Assembly is opposing the Petroleum Industry Bill, a bill that will give more capacity to the oil producing communities. Is it right for the Niger Deltans to steal oil, because oil theft is on the rise? The oil belongs to them. They have the right to take it. My problem is the environmental degrading that comes with taking of the oil. They have the right to take it, but have no right to destroy the environment. *Source Premium Times]]>

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Nigeria :Is APC the New PDP?
December 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Chido Onumah*

I have refrained from commenting on the pact between the All Progressives Alliance (APC) and the “new PDP” because, to some extent, I am involved.

While the merger process of Nigeria’s main opposition parties – which led to the formation of the APC – lasted, I had reason to engage some of my comrades, colleagues and friends on whether the APC was necessarily a progressive move in the quest to reclaim Nigeria.

Even with all the misgivings and the seemingly lack of direction of the proposed party, some of us held out hope, partly because of the pedigree of certain individuals in the party and the fact that it afforded a broad-based platform and an opportunity for many Nigerians who were looking for a formidable pan-Nigerian opposition party.

At the risk of being dismissed as opportunists, some of us took the stand that the APC should be given the benefit of the doubt; that within the context of bourgeois democracy, the APC looked like a minimum agenda for change and therefore should be supported by all, including left and radical elements; that as a minimal strategy, genuine democrats and progressives could actually work in the APC to break the stranglehold of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on power and begin the urgent task of national reconstruction.

I am not sure I hold the same view today. This piece is not a repudiation of my former position but a review that has become necessary in light of the current reality. The general direction of the APC has not been that of a party that understands the mood of the people and the anger in the country against a profligate ruling class that has used party politics as a channel to loot the national treasury and impoverish Nigerians. That anger manifests each time APC leaders cozy up to the same people Nigerians hold responsible for the current crisis.

It started with visits to former military president, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) and former head of state, Abdulsalami Abubakar, but it didn’t stop there. Of course, we know IBB and what he stands for. I have been asking myself, since the pilgrimage began, the purpose and the end result. Regrettably, the leadership of the APC has failed to explain the rationale for this unholy alliance and the benefit, if any, to its bewildered rank and file.

For me, the last straw was the image that made headlines during the week; the image of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, a man so violently consumed by self-interest, standing shoulder to shoulder with the leaders of the APC.  Obasanjo needed that photo opportunity to save face after a scathing public rebuke by his daughter, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo. But for the APC it was a new low for a party still struggling to make an impression on Nigerians. I believe every party worth its salt must have basic beliefs and values that it must uphold at all times.

It was bad enough that Nigerians expecting a change in the political landscape witnessed APC leaders pandering to Chief Obasanjo; the reasons adduced for the visit left a bad taste in people’s mouth. “You have come out of tribulation and held the highest position in this country. We are here because of your courage. Nobody can claim that he has information more than you,” Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the national leader of the APC said of Chief Obasanjo. “You have surmounted a number of crises. Nigeria is divided (now), more than before. To realise a stable Nigeria we want to encourage you to continue to speak the truth. We’re resolved and determined to rescue Nigeria. We want you as navigator.”

Asiwaju Tinubu noted that the visit was not necessarily to get Chief Obasanjo to join the APC but “just to draw from the experience of an elder statesman.” What is Obasanjo’s experience? What readily come to mind are coups, a legacy of corruption, abuse of human rights, criminal impunity, undermining the rule of law and, of course, a dysfunctional family.

The inimitable Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, captured the popular sentiment in his terse statement on the APC visit to Chief Obasanjo when he noted, in reference to Chief Obasanjo’s new role as the “navigator” of the APC rescue ship. “If General Sani Abacha were alive today, would he also have been on the ship’s complement? As Captain perhaps?” Soyinka asked, while warning that the country might be headed for a shipwreck. He advised “families to begin the stockpiling of life-belts for the guaranteed crash.”

I think this is a warning we have to take seriously. Exactly two years ago, Asiwaju Tinubu had this to say about Obasanjo and his experience: “What integrity has Obasanjo in terms of his legacies for Nigeria to speak on elections? Apart from his aborted third term ambition, he brought about and left a legacy of electoral corruption in the country. What is Obasanjo talking about? He should go away and retire in shame politically. He should leave the political landscape of this country alone. He brought a whole salad of corruption, manipulation and failures.”

What a difference two years make! Nothing captures Chief Obasanjo’s legacy better than the preceding paragraph. What will Obasanjo bring to the APC? A mass following needed to defeat the PDP in 2015? While Obasanjo was lambasting President Jonathan in an 18-page open letter and explaining how he (Jonathan) was destroying the PDP, he was busy scheming – at least we learned that much from Iyabo Obasanjo’s letter – how his daughter will run for office on the platform of the APC.

I know in war, as in politics, there are no eternal allies or perpetual enemies, but eternal and perpetual interests, to paraphrase Henry John Temple, (Lord Palmerston), mid-19th century British prime minister. However, I couldn’t help but squirm when I saw the picture of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), a three-time presidential candidate, beside Chief Obasanjo in the APC train; the same Obasanjo he had alleged violated the sanctity of the electoral process twice and denied him the presidency.

The APC is better served spending time strengthening the party in terms of an ideology and building a mass base rather than consorting with the likes of Chief Obasanjo and Gen. Babangida (retd.) Without this mass base, the party will implode in no time. But it appears that is asking too much of a party focused on short-term political gains.

It is a lot easier to open the floodgate of defection for those who are disaffected within the PDP; and the defectors are coming like flies attracted to feaces. At the current rate, the “original” APC will soon be a minority in the new formation. Ordinarily, there is nothing wrong with people defecting from one party to another. But that is if you are talking of parties with “character” so that, in the case of the APC, the “newcomers” will have to play second fiddle and fall in line with party principles and positions.

I don’t want to sound sanctimonious or puritanical. A political party, we know, contains “the good, the bad and the ugly”. But when you have a party that claims to be progressive recruiting people who are not in the least interested in a genuine discussion about the interest of Nigerians and at the same time acting as if its survival depends on that recruitment then there is reason to be wary.

I know a few leaders of the APC who are not particularly thrilled by the visits to “yesterday’s men” and what appears to be an alliance of desperation between the APC and the “new PDP”. But clearly, they simply can’t resist the only thing that seems to bind them together – the removal from power of President Jonathan.

Chido-Onumah

Chido-Onumah

Is APC a “progressive” party as the name implies, even in the limited sense of the word or just an association of those opposed to, not necessarily the PDP, but President Jonathan? The APC and the “new PDP” may well win in 2015. And after that what next? What will be the dominant tendency in the party? I am offended to think that I’ll sit down, if that opportunity will ever come, with Obasanjo, IBB, Kawu Baraje, Bukola Saraki, Ali Modu Sheriff, Ahmed Sani Yerima, etc., to discuss the welfare of Nigerians. If the prospect of that doesn’t scare APC faithful, then nothing else can!

Is the APC agenda about removing President Jonathan or rescuing Nigeria? If it is the former, then a revolutionary third force or in the minimum a coalition of small but progressive and mass-oriented parties is the only alternative!

The body language of APC leadership is that this is our party, our business, and we can damn well do anything we want with it. If that is the case, then voters have little or no choice as we head into the election of 2015.

**Chido Onumah Coordinator of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), in Abuja .He can be reached at conumah@hotmail.com,Twitter: @conumah .

 

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President Jonathan replies Obasanjo; says ex-President’s letter threat to national security
December 23, 2013 | 1 Comments

December 20, 2013

His Excellency,

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR

Agbe L’Oba House, Quarry Road,

Ibara, Abeokuta.

RE: BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

I wish to formally acknowledge your letter dated December 2, 2013 and other previous correspondence similar to it.

You will recall that all the letters were brought to me by hand. Although both of us discussed some of the issues in those letters, I had not, before now, seen the need for any formal reply since, to me, they contained advice from a former President to a serving President. Obviously, you felt differently because in your last letter, you complained about my not acknowledging or replying your previous letters.

It is with the greatest possible reluctance that I now write this reply. I am most uneasy about embarking on this unprecedented and unconventional form of open communication between me and a former leader of our country because I know that there are more acceptable and dignified means of doing so.

But I feel obliged to reply your letter for a number of reasons: one, you formally requested for a reply and not sending you one will be interpreted as ignoring a former President.

Secondly, Nigerians know the role you have played in my political life and given the unfortunate tone of your letter, clearly, the grapes have gone sour.  Therefore, my side of the story also needs to be told.

The third reason why I must reply you in writing is that your letter is clearly a threat to national security as it may deliberately or inadvertently set the stage for subversion.

The fourth reason for this reply is that you raised very weighty issues, and since the letter has been made public, Nigerians are expressing legitimate concerns. A response from me therefore, becomes very necessary.

The fifth reason is that this letter may appear in biographies and other books which political commentators on Nigeria’s contemporary politics may write. It is only proper for such publications to include my comments on the issues raised in your letter.

Sixthly, you are very unique in terms of the governance of this country. You were a military Head of State for three years and eight months, and an elected President for eight years. That means you have been the Head of Government of Nigeria for about twelve years. This must have, presumably, exposed you to a lot of information. Thus when you make a statement, there is the tendency for people to take it seriously.

The seventh reason is that the timing of your letter coincided with other vicious releases. The Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke of my “body language” encouraging corruption. A letter written to me by the CBN Governor alleging that NNPC, within a period of 19 months did not remit the sum of USD49.8 billion to the federation account, was also deliberately leaked to the public.

The eighth reason is that it appears that your letter was designed to incite Nigerians from other geopolitical zones against me and also calculated to promote ethnic disharmony. Worse still, your letter was designed to instigate members of our Party, the PDP, against me.

The ninth reason is that your letter conveys to me the feeling that landmines have been laid for me. Therefore, Nigerians need to have my response to the issues raised before the mines explode.

The tenth and final reason why my reply is inevitable is that you have written similar letters and made public comments in reference to all former Presidents and Heads of Government starting from Alhaji Shehu Shagari and these have instigated different actions and reactions. The purpose and direction of your letter is distinctly ominous, and before it is too late, my clarifications on the issues need to be placed on record.

Let me now comment on the issues you raised. In commenting I wish to crave your indulgence to compare what is happening now to what took place before.  This, I believe, will enable Nigerians see things in better perspective because we must know where we are coming from so as to appreciate where we now are, and to allow us clearly map out where we are going.

You raised concerns about the security situation in the country. I assure you that I am fully aware of the responsibility of government for ensuring the security of the lives and property of citizens. My Administration is working assiduously to overcome current national security challenges, the seeds of which were sown under previous administrations.  There have been some setbacks; but certainly there have also been great successes in our efforts to overcome terrorism and insurgency.

Those who continue to down-play our successes in this regard, amongst whom you must now be numbered, appear to have conveniently forgotten the depths to which security in our country had plunged before now.

At a stage, almost the entire North-East of Nigeria was under siege by insurgents. Bombings of churches and public buildings in the North and the federal capital became an almost weekly occurrence. Our entire national security apparatus seemed nonplussed and unable to come to grips with the new threat posed by the berthing of terrorism on our shores.

But my administration has since brought that very unacceptable situation under significant control. We have overhauled our entire national security architecture, improved intelligence gathering, training, funding, logistical support to our armed forces and security agencies, and security collaboration with friendly countries with very visible and positive results.

The scope and impact of terrorist operations have been significantly reduced and efforts are underway to restore full normalcy to the most affected North Eastern region and initiate a post-crisis development agenda, including a special intervention programme to boost the region’s socio-economic progress.

In doing all this, we have kept our doors open for dialogue with the insurgents and their supporters through efforts such as the work of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and the Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges in the North-East. You also know that the Governor of Borno State provided the items you mentioned to me as carrots. Having done all this and more, it is interesting that you still accuse me of not acting on your hardly original recommendation that the carrot and stick option be deployed to solve the Boko Haram problem.

Your suggestion that we are pursuing a “war against violence without understanding the root causes of the violence and applying solutions to deal with all the underlying factors” is definitely misplaced because from the onset of this administration, we have been implementing a multifaceted strategy against militancy, insurgency and terrorism that includes poverty alleviation, economic development, education and social reforms.

Even though basic education is the constitutional responsibility of States, my administration has, as part of its efforts to address ignorance and poor education which have been identified as two of the factors responsible for making some of our youth easily available for use as cannon fodder by insurgents and terrorists, committed huge funds to the provision of modern basic education schools for the Almajiri in several Northern States. The Federal Government under my leadership has also set up nine additional universities in the Northern States and three in the Southern States in keeping with my belief that proper education is the surest way of emancipating and empowering our people.

More uncharitable persons may even see a touch of sanctimoniousness in your new belief in the carrot and stick approach to overcoming militancy and insurgency. You have always referred to how you hit Odi in Bayelsa State to curb militancy in the Niger Delta.  If the invasion of Odi by the Army was the stick, I did not see the corresponding carrot.  I was the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State then, and as I have always told you, the invasion of Odi did not solve any militancy problem but, to some extent, escalated it. If it had solved it, late President Yar’Adua would not have had to come up with the amnesty program. And while some elements of the problem may still be there, in general, the situation is reasonably better.

In terms of general insecurity in the country and particularly the crisis in the Niger Delta, 2007 was one of the worst periods in our history. You will recall three incidents that happened in 2007 which seemed to have been orchestrated to achieve sinister objectives.  Here in Abuja, a petrol tanker loaded with explosives was to be rammed into the INEC building. But luckily for the country, an electric pole stopped the tanker from hitting the INEC building.  It is clear that this incident was meant to exploit the general sense of insecurity in the nation at the time to achieve the aim of stopping the 2007 elections.  It is instructive that you, on a number of occasions, alluded to this fact.

When that incident failed, an armed group invaded Yenagoa one evening with the intent to assassinate me.  Luckily for me, they could not.  They again attacked and bombed my country home on a night when I was expected in the village. Fortunately, as God would have it, I did not make the trip.

I recall that immediately after both incidents, I got calls expressing the concern of Abuja.  But Baba, you know that despite the apparent concern of Abuja, no single arrest was ever made. I was then the Governor of Bayelsa State and the PDP Vice-Presidential candidate. The security people ordinarily should have unraveled the assassination attempt on me.

You also raised the issues of kidnapping, piracy and armed robbery. These are issues all Nigerians, including me are very concerned about. While we will continue to do our utmost best to reduce all forms of criminality to the barest minimum in our country, it is just as well to remind you that the first major case of kidnapping for ransom took place around 2006. And the Boko Haram crisis dates back to 2002. Goodluck Jonathan was not the President of the country then. Also, armed robbery started in this country immediately after the civil war and since then, it has been a problem to all succeeding governments.  For a former Head of Government, who should know better, to present these problems as if they were creations of the Jonathan Administration is most uncharitable.

Having said that, let me remind you of some of the things we have done to curb violent crime in the country. We have reorganized the Nigerian Police Force and appointed a more dynamic leadership to oversee its affairs. We have also improved its manpower levels as well as funding, training and logistical support.

We have also increased the surveillance capabilities of the Police and provided its air-wing with thrice the number of helicopters it had before the inception of the present administration. The National Civil Defence and Security Corps has been armed to make it a much more effective ally of the police and other security agencies in the war against violent crime. At both domestic and international levels, we are doing everything possible to curb the proliferation of the small arms and light weapons with which armed robberies, kidnappings and piracy are perpetrated. We have also enhanced security at our borders to curb cross-border crimes.

We are aggressively addressing the challenge of crude oil theft in collaboration with the state Governors. In addition, the Federal Government has engaged the British and US governments for their support in the tracking of the proceeds from the purchase of stolen crude. Similarly, a regional Gulf of Guinea security strategy has been initiated to curb crude oil theft and piracy.

Perhaps the most invidious accusation in your letter is the allegation that I have placed over one thousand Nigerians on a political watch list, and that I am training snipers and other militia to assassinate people. Baba, I don’t know where you got that from but you do me grave injustice in not only lending credence to such baseless rumours, but also publicizing it. You mentioned God seventeen times in your letter. Can you as a Christian hold the Bible and say that you truly believe this allegation?

Goodluck-Jonathan-and-Obasanjo-360x225The allegation of training snipers to assassinate political opponents is particularly incomprehensible to me. Since I started my political career as a Deputy Governor, I have never been associated with any form of political violence. I have been a President for over three years now, with a lot of challenges and opposition mainly from the high and mighty. There have certainly been cases of political assassination since the advent of our Fourth Republic, but as you well know, none of them occurred under my leadership.

Regarding the over one thousand people you say are on a political watch list, I urge you to kindly tell Nigerians who they are and what agencies of government are “watching” them. Your allegation that I am using security operatives to harass people is also baseless. Nigerians are waiting for your evidence of proof. That was an accusation made against previous administrations, including yours, but it is certainly not my style and will never be. Again, if you insist on the spurious claim that some of your relatives and friends are being harassed, I urge you to name them and tell Nigerians what agencies of my administration are harassing them.

I also find it difficult to believe that you will accuse me of assisting murderers, or assigning a presidential delegation to welcome a murderer. This is a most unconscionable and untrue allegation. It is incumbent on me to remind you that I am fully conscious of the dictates of my responsibilities to God and our dear nation. It is my hope that devious elements will not take advantage of your baseless allegation to engage in brazen and wanton assassination of high profile politicians as before, hiding under the alibi your “open letter” has provided for them.

Nevertheless, I have directed the security agencies and requested the National Human Rights Commission to carry out a thorough investigation of these criminal allegations and make their findings public.

That corruption is an issue in Nigeria is indisputable.  It has been with us for many years. You will recall that your kinsman, the renowned afro-beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti famously sang about it during your first stint as Head of State. Sonny Okosun also sang about corruption. And as you may recall, a number of Army Generals were to be retired because of corruption before the Dimka coup.  Also, the late General Murtala Mohammed himself wanted to retire some top people in his cabinet on corruption-related issues before he was assassinated.  Even in this Fourth Republic, the Siemens and Halliburton scandals are well known.

The seed of corruption in this country was planted a long time ago, but we are doing all that we can to drastically reduce its debilitating effects on national development and progress. I have been strengthening the institutions established to fight corruption. I will not shield any government official or private individual involved in corruption, but I must follow due process in all that I do. And whenever clear cases of corruption or fraud have been established, my administration has always taken prompt action in keeping with the dictates of extant laws and procedures. You cannot claim to be unaware of the fact that several highly placed persons in our country, including sons of some of our party leaders are currently facing trial for their involvement in the celebrated subsidy scam affair. I can hardly be blamed if the wheels of justice still grind very slowly in our country, but we are doing our best to support and encourage the judiciary to quicken the pace of adjudication in cases of corruption.

Baba, I am amazed that with all the knowledge garnered from your many years at the highest level of governance in our country, you could still believe the spurious allegation contained in a letter written to me by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and surreptitiously obtained by you, alleging that USD49.8 billion, a sum equal to our entire national budget for two years, is “unaccounted for” by the NNPC. Since, as President, you also served for many years as Minister of Petroleum Resources, you very well know the workings of the corporation. It is therefore intriguing that you have made such an assertion. You made a lot of insinuations about oil theft, shady dealings at the NNPC and the NNPC not remitting the full proceeds of oil sales to the of CBN. Now that the main source of the allegations which you rehashed has publicly stated that he was “misconstrued”, perhaps you will find it in your heart to apologize for misleading unwary Nigerians and impugning the integrity of my administration on that score.

Your claim of “Atlantic Oil loading about 130, 000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on behalf of NPDC with no sale proceeds paid into the NPDC account” is also disjointed and baseless because no such arrangement as you described exists between Atlantic Oil and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company. NPDC currently produces about 138, 000 barrels of oil per day from over 7 producing assets. The Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD) of the NNPC markets all of this production on behalf of NPDC with proceeds paid into NPDC account.

I am really shocked that with all avenues open to you as a former Head of State for the verification of any information you have received about state affairs, you chose to go public with allegations of “high corruption” without offering a shred of supporting evidence. One of your political “sons” similarly alleged recently that he told me of a minister who received a bribe of $250 Million from an oil company and I did nothing about it. He may have been playing from a shared script, but we have not heard from him again since he was challenged to name the minister involved and provide the evidence   to back his claim.  I urge you, in the same vein, to furnish me with the names, facts and figures of a single verifiable case of the “high corruption” which you say stinks all around my administration and see whether the corrective action you advocate does not follow promptly. And while you are at it, you may also wish to tell Nigerians the true story of questionable waivers of signature bonuses between 2000 and 2007.

While, by the Grace of God Almighty, I am the first President from a minority group, I am never unmindful of the fact that I was elected leader of the whole of Nigeria and I have always acted in the best interest of all Nigerians. You referred to the divisive actions and inflammatory utterances of some individuals from the South-South and asserted that I have done nothing to call them to order or distance myself from their ethnic chauvinism. Again that is very untrue. I am as committed to the unity of this country as any patriot can be and I have publicly declared on many occasions that no person who threatens other Nigerians or parts of the country is acting on my behalf.

It is very regrettable that in your letter, you seem to place sole responsibility for the ongoing intrigues and tensions in the PDP at my doorstep, and going on from that position, you direct all your appeals for a resolution at me. Baba, let us all be truthful to ourselves, God and posterity. At the heart of all the current troubles in our party and the larger polity is the unbridled jostling and positioning for personal or group advantage ahead of the 2015 general elections. The “bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear and deep suspicion” you wrote about all flow from this singular factor.

It is indeed very unfortunate that the seeming crisis in the party was instigated by a few senior members of the party, including you. But, as leader of the party, I will continue to do my best to unite it so that we can move forward with strength and unity of purpose. The PDP has always recovered from previous crises with renewed vigour and vitality. I am very optimistic that that will be the case again this time. The PDP will overcome any temporary setback, remain a strong party and even grow stronger.

Instigating people to cause problems and disaffection within the party is something that you are certainly familiar with. You will recall that founding fathers of the Party were frustrated out of the Party at a time.  Late Chief Sunday Awoniyi was pushed out, Late Chief Solomon Lar left and later came back, Chief Audu Ogbeh and Chief Tom Ikimi also left. Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo left and later came back. In 2005/2006, link-men were sent to take over party structures from PDP Governors in an unveiled attempt to undermine the state governors. In spite of that, the Governors did not leave the Party because nobody instigated and encouraged them to do so.

The charge that I was involved in anti-party activities in governorship elections in Edo, Ondo, Lagos, and Anambra States is also very unfortunate. I relate with all Governors irrespective of political party affiliation but I have not worked against the interest of the PDP.  What I have not done is to influence the electoral process to favour our Party. You were definitely never so inclined, since you openly boasted in your letter of how you supported Alhaji Shehu Shagari against Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe and others in the 1979 presidential elections while serving as a military Head of State. You and I clearly differ in this regard, because as the President of Nigeria, I believe it is my duty and responsibility to create a level playing field for all parties and all candidates.

Recalling how the PDP lost in states where we were very strong in 2003 and 2007 such as Edo, Ondo, Imo, Bauchi, Anambra, and Borno, longstanding members of our great party with good memory will also consider the charge of anti-party activities you made against me as misdirected and hugely hypocritical. It certainly was not Goodluck Jonathan’s “personal ambition or selfish interest” that caused the PDP to lose the governorship of Ogun State and all its senatorial seats in the last general elections.

You quoted me as saying that I have not told anybody that I will seek another term in office in 2015. You and your ambitious acolytes within the party have clearly decided to act on your conclusion that “only a fool will believe that statement” and embark on a virulent campaign to harass me out of an undeclared candidature for the 2015 presidential elections so as to pave the way for a successor anointed by you.

You will recall that you serially advised me that we should refrain from discussing the 2015 general elections for now so as not to distract elected public officials from urgent task of governance. While you have apparently moved away from that position, I am still of the considered opinion that it would have been best for us to do all that is necessary to refrain from heating up the polity at this time. Accordingly, I have already informed Nigerians that I will only speak on whether or not I will seek a second term when it is time for such declarations. Your claims about discussions I had with you, Governor Gabriel Suswam and others are wrong, but in keeping with my declared stance, I will reserve further comments until the appropriate time.

Your allegation that I asked half a dozen African Presidents to speak to you about my alleged ambition for 2015, is also untrue.  I have never requested any African President to discuss with you on my behalf.  In our discussion, I mentioned to you that four Presidents told me that they were concerned about the political situation in Nigeria and intended to talk to you about it.  So far, only three of them have confirmed to me that they have had any discussion with you. If I made such a request, why would I deny it?

The issue of Buruji Kashamu is one of those lies that should not be associated with a former President.  The allegation that I am imposing Kashamu on the South-West is most unfortunate and regrettable.  I do not even impose Party officials in my home state of Bayelsa and there is no zone in this country where I have imposed officials.  So why would I do so in the South West?  Baba, in the light of Buruji’s detailed public response to your “open letter”, it will be charitable for you to render an apology to Nigerians and I.

On the issue of investors being scared to come to Nigeria, economic dormancy, and stagnation, I will just refer you to FDI statistics from 2000 to 2013. Within the last three years, Nigeria has emerged as the preferred destination for investments in Africa, driven by successful government policies to attract foreign investors. For the second year running, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Investments (UNCTAD) has ranked Nigeria as the number one destination for investments in Africa, and as having the fourth highest returns in the world.

Today, Nigeria is holding 18 percent of all foreign investments in Africa and 60 percent of all foreign investments in the ECOWAS Sub-Region. Kindly note also that in the seven years between 2000 and 2007 when you were President, Nigeria attracted a total of $24.9 Billion in FDI.  As a result of our efforts which you disparage, the country has seen an FDI inflow of $25.7 Billion in just three years which is more than double the FDI that has gone to the second highest African destination. We have also maintained an annual national economic growth rate of close to seven per cent since the inception of this administration. What then, is the justification for your allegation of scared investors and economic dormancy?

Although it was not emphasized in your letter of December 2, 2013, you also conveyed, in previous correspondence, the impression that you were ignorant of the very notable achievements of my administration in the area of foreign relations. It is on record that under my leadership, Nigeria has played a key role in resolving the conflicts in Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea Bissau and others.

The unproductive rivalry that existed between Nigeria and some ECOWAS countries has also been ended under my watch and Nigeria now has better relations with all the ECOWAS countries.  At the African Union, we now have a Commissioner at the AU Commission after being without one for so long. We were in the United Nations Security Council for the 2010/2011 Session and we have been voted in again for the 2014/2015 Session. From independence to 2010, we were in the U.N. Security Council only three times but from 2010 to 2015, we will be there two times.

download (5)This did not happen by chance.  My Administration worked hard for it and we continue to maintain the best possible relations with all centres of global political and economic power. I find it hard therefore, to believe your assertions of untoward concern in the international community over the state of governance in Nigeria

With respect to the Brass and Olokola LNG projects, you may have forgotten that though you started these projects, Final Investment Decisions were never reached.  For your information, NNPC has not withdrawn from either the Olokola or the Brass LNG projects.

On the Rivers State Water Project, you were misled by your informant. The Federal Government under my watch has never directed or instructed the Africa Development Bank to put on hold any project to be executed in Rivers state or any other State within the Federation. The Rivers Water Project was not originally in the borrowing plan but it was included in April 2013 and appraised in May. Negotiations are ongoing with the AfDB.  I have no doubt that you are familiar with the entire process that prefaces the signing of a Subsidiary Loan Agreement as in this instance.

Let me assure you and all Nigerians that I do not engage in negative political actions and will never, as President, oppress the people of a State or deprive them of much needed public services as a result of political disagreement

I have noted your comments on the proposed National Conference. Contrary to the insinuation in your letter, the proposed conference is aimed at bringing Nigerians together to resolve contentious national issues in a formal setting. This is a sure way of promoting greater national consensus and unity, and not a recipe for “disunity, confusion and chaos” as you alleged in your letter.

Having twice held the high office of President, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I trust that you will understand that I cannot possibly find the time to offer a line-by-line response to all the accusations and allegations made in your letter while dealing with other pressing demands of office and more urgent affairs of state.

I have tried, however, to respond to only the most serious of the charges which question my sincerity, personal honour, and commitment to the oath which I have sworn, to always uphold and protect the interests of all Nigerians, and promote their well-being.

In closing, let me state that you have done me grave injustice with your public letter in which you wrongfully accused me of deceit, deception, dishonesty, incompetence, clannishness, divisiveness and insincerity, amongst other ills.

I have not, myself, ever claimed to be all-knowing or infallible, but I have never taken Nigeria or Nigerians for granted as you implied, and I will continue to do my utmost to steer our ship of state towards the brighter future to which we all aspire.

Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration and warm regards.

GOODLUCK  EBELE JONATHAN

*Obtained from Premium Times Nigeria

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Book Review: Saro-Wiwa’s Last Strike At The Hangmen
December 18, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Patrick Naagbanton*

Saro_wiwa--book_0Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa’s latest book, Silence Would Be Treason – Last Writings of Saro-Wiwa (2013) came to us as a big surprise. Some of us had thought that, “A Month and A Day (1995) was his last memoir. On 11th June 1993, operatives of Nigeria’s secret police, State Security Services (SSS), seized Saro-Wiwa’s international passport. Ten days after, he was “kidnapped” by plainclothes detectives and held in solitary confinement until 22nd July (a month and a day). Saro-Wiwa’s 180 page book (Silence Would be Treason) is published posthumously by the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Dakar, Senegal.

Silence Would be Treason is a different detention diary. The title is taken from one of Saro-Wiwa’s poems in the book, “Keep out of Prison,” page 159. From the book, (Silence Would Be Treason) wouldn’t be his last prison or so work. The current memoir is a collection of 28 letters and 28 poems (not 27 poems, page 3) he wrote while in military custody in Port Harcourt to (Sister Majella McCarron, the Irish missionary, teacher, poet, letter writer and environmental activist) between “20 October and 14 September 1995” (page ix).

Majella was Saro-Wiwa’s long-time friend and supporter of the Ogoni people’s nonviolence struggle for justice. She preserved them and “In 2011, — donated letters she received from Ken Saro-Wiwa to the library at NUI (National University of Ireland) Maynooth.” (Page vi). There were correspondences between Saro-Wiwa and Majella. We hope she will publish her letters too.

Nigeria’s leading environmental rights campaigner, poet, activist and architect, Nnimmo Bassey wrote a foreword to the book (page ix-xvii), while three distinguished international scholars (Helen Fallon, Ide Corley and Laurence Cox) all at NUI, edited the book. Bassey in page ix denounced the inhuman conditions Saro-Wiwa was subjected before his hanging on 10th November, 1995. His foreword summarized the entire struggles of the Saro-Wiwa, his Ogoni people, the era and its challenges; Nnimo Bassey in the book boldly admitted that he was a student of the Saro-Wiwian School. “…Saro-Wiwa challenged me as a fledging writer who thought I would find a niche as a poet and short story writer. His pioneering work in building a virile environmental justice movement as well as the rights of minorities in Nigeria remains outstanding and continues to inspire campaigners around the world.”

In the introductory section of the book, Helen Fallon, the Deputy Librarian at the NUI wrote the article, “The Saro-Wiwa Collection at the Library, National University of Ireland Maynooth.” (Page 3-13). While Ide Corley, whose expertise in the areas of “Postcolonial and World literatures,” Irish, African Literatures and struggles for modern African identity is outstanding. She wrote an article in the book, which runs from page 15-30, “Ken Saro-Wiwa and West African Literature; the Politics of Language.” And Laurence Cox, a specialist in social movements theorization and praxis, wrote, “Ken Saro-Wiwa in Political Context; Social Movements in the Niger Delta”(Page 31-38). Expectedly, the above scholars explicated the Saro-Wiwa phenomenon, its merits and demerits and the post-Saro-Wiwa’s epoch in the Niger Delta.

Saro-Wiwa belongs to the PostColonial Nigerian writers who view literature as a tool for consciousness nurturing and mobilization to confront problems of society. This is demonstrated even in his letters and poems in the book. The book exposes Saro-Wiwa as an archetypal soldier of the pen. Writers whether in the global south or north are just the same. Louise Purwin Zobel and Jacqueline Harmon Butler, both famed travel writers and academics, in their book, “Travel Writer’s Handbook” (2007) warned old, new or aspiring writers. “Writing is a public profession. You reveal so much of yourself. You may be writing about somebody quite different in a setting far away, but there’s always a great deal of you in the story. Your secrets, your mistakes are there for the world to see,” (Travel Writer’s Handbook) (page 284).

Silence would be Treason shows that Saro-Wiwa lived as a writer in the Zobel and Butler’s categorization. He knew that what the secrets he was exchanging with her friend and comrade, Majella McCarron would be made public a day. From his tortuous military detention, he shared his secrets about the Ogoni cause, his family, friends and foes and his passion for writing.

The letters start from page 46 and end on page 131, while the poems start from page 134 and end on page 162. The first letter dated 20th October 1993 was virtually a response to Majella’s earlier letter. Saro-Wiwa was thanking her for mobilizing grants to help his poor Ogoni villagers when they were attacked. “Thanks for your note. I’m really quite happy to have EC (European Commission) help pass through the Catholic Church. You’ve all been supportive and MOSOP will be right glad to have such friends or supervisors”, he wrote on page 46.

From page 54, one sees the real anguish of Saro-Wiwa in deplorable military custody. On Saturday, 21st May 1994, four chiefs from the Gokana Kingdom of the Ogoni nation were murdered at Giokoo community, the traditional home of the Gokana people. Saro-Wiwa and others were promptly arrested as the masterminds. In the letters, Saro-Wiwa stated explicitly his innocence of the allegation of murders. There was no evidence of Saro-Wiwa’s direct or indirect involvement in the murders of the chiefs, which he had some relations with. In the third letter on page 54, he lamented about his condition. “My current detention is sheer torture. I’m a private prisoner of the Lt. Col. Komo and his Internal Security Task Force”.

Komo was the Military Administrator of Rivers State, who from the letters, was posted to the state to “pacify” the Ogoni. While, the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force (RSISTF) was headed by Major Paul Okuntimo. In the book, Saro-Wiwa tagged Okuntimo, “the sadist” because of the beating of famous British ecologist, Nick Aston of Jones, (page 66). In page 86, the 15th letter to Majella dated 27th October 1994, he described Okuntimo again as “Commander of the Ogoni murder squad.” In September, Saro-Wiwa informed that as a new person, Major Obi Umahi took over as the head of the RSISTF and continued the bloodletting from where his successor stopped. Apart from Ogoniland, the RSISTF also committed violence and extra-judicial killings in place like Etche Local Government Area and other places in the state. But their killings and violence spree was more in Ogoniland than any other place.

In later part of that third letter in page 55, Saro-Wiwa told us again that he knew the consequences of his nonviolence struggle. “I am not worried for myself. When I undertook to confront Shell and the Nigerian establishment, I signed my death warrant, so to speak. At 52, I think I’ve served my time and, come to face it, I’ve lived a charmed life. A few more books, maybe, & the opportunity to assist others would have been welcome. But it’s okay,” he said. In page 117, offended by the unbearable condition in detention, sought for martyrdom for the sake of his people, “… have always recognized that my cause could lead to death”, he said.

In same letter above, Saro-Wiwa reinforced his guiltlessness and blamed the murders on the tyrannical state under General Sani Abacha “I even suspect that Kobani and others were murdered by the security agencies in order to justify some of the reports that had been submitted by the security people in support of the Constitutional Conference. We (Ledum Mitee and I) have met soldiers who are prepared, if they have the protection, to talk about what instructions they had, who looted what, who killed whom,” he said (page 88). He re-defined what the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), the organization he founded was all about. “Of course, I and MOSOP had nothing to do with the death of the 4 gentlemen. We are struggling for justice, not for power” Here again, Saro-Wiwa pointedly accused Komo of complicity in the murders of the chiefs. “Komo has just succeeded in mask the government’s role in the unfortunate and brutal deaths”.

Though such custody Saro-Wiwa was dumped into wasn’t a good place to be, but it afforded him the opportunity to write and read copiously.  In letter 16(page 11), he took solace in what the comrades before him had suffered. “Yes, I have everything to be thankful for, and do not forget that I’ve been here only 23 weeks now. Mandela and Walter Sisulu were there for 26/27 years. How can I complain?” He also lamented the lack of culture of writing among his Ogoni people and others.

In three places in the book – page 59, 111 and 113 respectively, mention were made of a book, which we have not seen or heard about. In page 59, he said, “…somehow, I’m finding a lot of activity – reading and writing. I’ve now completed a volume of short stories. I’ve actually written five of the stories before now. I’ve done 5 more & gotten a book.” The editors alleged that it might be “A Kind of Festival and Other Stories”. Saro-Wiwa also said, “I start on re-writing the novel I lost in 1992 at the end of next week.” The editors’ guessed again, it might be another book, Lemona’s Tale. In letter 23, page 111, he wrote; “However, I hope to complete the diary of my first detention and to send it off to the U.K. in the hope that I might find a publisher. Also a collection of short stories, A Kind of Festival and Other Stories which I believe to be the best of the three collections I’ve done so far.” Again, in page 113, “…I’ve completed the corrections on my latest short story collection A Kind of Festival and Other Stories. I think this collection my best so far. I’II be sending both to junior Ken & asking him to see if he can get a publisher in the U.K.”

On page 84 (letter 14) Saro-Wiwa stated clearly that he was not going into partisan politics, rather expanding the Ogoni struggle to other parts of the Niger Delta. He outlined what he was struggling as “ERECTISM – ethnic autonomy, resource and environmental control.” In same page, Saro-Wiwa eulogized Oronto Natei Douglas, “Oronto is a lawyer and committed to the Niger Delta – his home is one of the six places studied.” Not only Oronto, he also praised progressive Yoruba leaders and independent press and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)( page 100). “Locally, the support of the non-governmental press has been tremendous. And Yoruba leaders meeting on August 31 (1994) sent solidarity messages to the Ogoni and called for my release” (Page 72).

Icons like Wole Soyinka, the late Claude Ake and the late British Anita Roddick, the late Gani Fawehinmi were lavishly praised by Saro-Wiwa (see pages 61,72,90,108,106,114,117 and 130). He also mentioned the roles of other defence lawyers, Femi Falana, Olisa Agbakobar and his younger brother, Owens Wiwa (pages 106 and 114). He also praised Mairead Corrigan, the Northern Ireland peace activist award winner (page 123), the Irish and their organisations like Trocaire( page 106) and the Ogoni Solidarity Ireland(page 123). Remember that Saro-Wiwa had said he drew some of his inspiration from the Irish Renaissance of the Swiftian period.

Even in prison, Saro-Wiwa’s undying love for his suffering Ogoni people was demonstrated. From there, he deployed his diminishing financial resources to support them – especially his comrades who were either in detention, underground or haunted – page 109. On page 130, he vowed, “I am in good spirits, expecting the worst as usual, but hopeful for the best.” According to the book, Saro-Wiwa’s deep distrust in the Nigerian judiciary, contrary to his parent’s expectation is exposed. “My parents are always in court, and my father believes that I will be free at the end of the case. I’ve tried very hard to dampen his optimism but the old man won’t budge. I just hope he does not get a rude shock” (Page 130). On page 88 (letter 15) Saro-Wiwa warned, “Don’t expect anything from the court. The matter is political, and the military do not care for the judicial system”, ( page 87).

Saro-Wiwa strongly believed that the intervention of the West would save the situation of the Ogoni. He specifically appealed to the American President Jimmy Carter to intervene in the Ogoni situation as well as Western embassies in Nigeria. He took a swipe at the military dictatorship and called on the European Union (EU) and the Americans to kick the military out if any meaningful development would take place in Nigeria. They couldn’t save Ken Saro-Wiwa. Abacha hanged him on 10th November 1995. But General Abacha, the maximum head of the Nigerian establishment was eventually kicked out as Saro-Wiwa requested. He reportedly died of “cardiac arrest”. Professor Charles R. Larson, in his ground-breaking book, The Ordeal of the African Writer (2001) on page 140, lampooned the international system Saro-Wiwa believed so much in. “Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa’s execution by hanging on 10 November 1995 was a travesty of justice, a mockery of human rights and a failure of international diplomacy”.

From page 133-162 are the 28 poems. In the collection, Saro-Wiwa poeticised about the Ogoni struggle-“Around the drooping neck of a shell-shocked land”- page 143. The sweeping solidarity for the Ogoni struggle, “On the walls of history”- page 142. His love of great women like Anita Roddick, “I would sing your song”- page 136 and Majella McCarron, “— To a journey of faith/– For the voiceless of the earth!/– And strange lands, we pour fourth/— Of your Ogoni, my Fermangh”, page 137. He complained about “the agony of trees dying—of dying children” (page 143) and poor Ogoni women, “Her wretched soul destroyed”- line 4 on page 150. He satirized about prison condition in the poem, “Prison Song”- “Bedbugs, fleas and insects/—- I’m reminded of this crude place/Shared with unusual inmates”- page 140.

Saro-Wiwa, even when walking to his grave didn’t spare military dictatorship- “Makes Babangidance such a hit!” (Line 12 in page 148). Babangidance, derived from the name of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, Nigeria’s former military ruler becomes a metaphor for dictatorship. He wrote of his love for his children, both male and female. It pervades both the letters and poems. But deeper one for the females- Zina and her sisters ( Singto, Adele, Noo) “which you and your kids must ponder”- page 151. Back to the letters, Saro-Wiwa was happy that, “– I have a real team of capable women, if they do not meet and get enslaved by some mean men!”

The book, Silence Would be Treason – Last Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa, is a great book. It revives and supplements the fading memories of actors and actresses like us (not spectators) during the gloomy days. It needs to be read carefully with an open mind. The book contains correct information about the hey days of the Ogoni struggle, its victories, failures, betrayals and travails in the naked face of highly organized state/corporate violence and conspiracies against a marginalised and embittered people of the eastern Niger Delta belt in Nigeria.

* Source Sahara Reporters .Naagbanton, the book reviewer lives in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital

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Obasanjo v Jonathan: Who wants to rock the Nigerian Boat?
December 12, 2013 | 0 Comments

•A letter of appeal to President Goodluck Jonathan by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo

Goodluck-Jonathan-and-Obasanjo-360x225I am constrained to make this an open letter to you for a number of reasons.    One,  the  current  situation  and  consequent  possible  outcome dictate that I should,  before the door  closes on reason  and promotion of national  interest,  alert  you  to  the  danger  that  may  be  lurking  in  the corner.    Two, none of  the  four  or more  letters  that I  have  written to  you in  the  past  two  years  or  so  has  elicited  an  acknowledgment  or  any response.    Three,  people  close  to  you,  if  not  yourself,  have  been asking,  what  does  Obasanjo  want?    Four,  I  could  sense  a  semblance between  the situation that  we are  gradually getting into and the situation we fell into as a nation during the Abacha era.    Five, everything must be done  to  guard,  protect  and  defend  our  fledgling  democracy,  nourish  it and  prevent  bloodshed.    Six,  we  must  move  away  from  advertently  or inadvertently  dividing  the country along  weak seams  of North-South and Christian-Moslem.    Seven,  nothing  should be  done to  allow  the  country to  degenerate  into  economic  dormancy,  stagnation  or  retrogression.

Eight,  some  of  our  international  friends  and  development  partners  are genuinely  worried  about  signs  and  signals  that  are  coming  out  of Nigeria.    Nine,  Nigeria  should  be in a  position to  take  advantage  of  the present  favourable  international  interest  to  invest  in  Africa  –  an opportunity  that  will  not  be  open  for  too  long.    Ten,  I  am  concerned about your legacy and your climb-down which you alone can best be the manager of, whenever you so decide.

Mr. President, you have on  a  number of  occasions  acknowledged the  role God  enabled  me  to  play  in  your  ascension  to  power.  You  put me  third  after  God  and  your  parents  among  those  that  have  impacted  most  on  your  life.    I  have  always  retorted  that  God  only put  you  where you are and  those  that  could be regarded  as having  played  a  role were only instruments of God to achieve God’s purpose in your life.    For me, I believe  that  politically,  it  was  in  the  best  interest  of  Nigeria  that  you,  a Nigerian  from  minority  group  in  the  South, could  rise  to  the  highest pinnacle  of  political  leadership. If  Obasanjo  could  get  there,  Yar’Adua could get there and Jonathan can get there, any Nigerian can. It is now not a matter  of the  turn  of any section or  geographical area  but the best interest of Nigeria and all  Nigerians.    It has been  proved that no group – ethnic,  linguistic,  religious  or  geographical  location  –  has  monopoly  of materials  for  leadership  of  our  country.  And  no  group  solely  by  itself can crown any  of its members the  Nigerian CEO.    It is  good for  Nigeria.

I  have  also  always  told  you  that  God  has  graciously  been  kind, generous,  merciful  and  compassionate  to  me  and  He  has  done  more than  I  could  have  ever  hoped  for.    I  want  nothing  from  you  personally except that you should run the affairs of Nigeria not only to make Nigeria good,  but  to  make  Nigeria  great  for  which  I  have  always  pleaded  with you and I will  always do so.    And it is  yet to  be  done for  most Nigerians to see. 2

For five capacities in which you find yourself, you must hold yourself most significantly responsible for what happens or fails to happen in Nigeria and in any case, most others will hold you responsible and God who put you there  will  surely  hold  you  responsible  and  accountable.    I  have  had opportunity, in recent times, to interact closely with you and I have come to the conclusion painfully  or happily that  if  you can shun yourself to a great extent  of  personal  and  political  interests  and  dwell  more  on  the  national interest  and  also  draw  the  line  between  advice  from  selfish  and self-centered aides and advice from those who in the interest of the nation may  not  tell  you  what  you  will  want  to  hear,  it  will  be  well.    The  five positions  which  you  share  with nobody  except  with  God  and  which  place great  and  grave  responsibility  on  you  are  leadership  of  the  ruling  party, headship  of  the  Federal  Government  or  national  government, Commander-in-Chief  of  the  Military,  Chief  Security  Officer  of  the  nation, and  the  political leader  of the country.    Those positions go with being  the President of our country and while depending  on your  disposition, you can delegate  or  devolve  responsibility,  but  the  buck  must  stop  on  your  table  whether you like it or not.

Let me start with the leadership of the ruling party.    Many of us were puzzled over what was going on in the party.    Most party members blamed the  National Chairman.    I understand  that some in  the presidency tried to create the impression that some of us were to blame. The situation became clear  only  when  the  National  Chairman  spoke  out  that  he  never  did anything  or  acted  in  any  way  without  the  approval  or  concurrence  of  the Party  Leader  and  that  where  the  Party  Leader  disapproved,  he  made correction  or amendment, that we realised most actions were  those of the Chairman  but  the  motivation  and  direction  were  those  of  the  Leader.    It would be unfair to continue to level full blames on the Chairman for all that goes wrong with the Party.    The Chairman is playing the tune dictated by the  Paymaster.    But  the  Paymaster  is  acting  for  a  definitive  purpose  for  which deceit  and deception seem to be the major ingredients.    Up till two months ago, Mr. President, you told me that you have not told anybody that you would contest in 2015.    I quickly pointed out to you that the signs and the measures on the ground do not tally with your statement.  You said the same to one other person who shared his observation with me.    And only a  fool  would  believe  that  statement  you  made  to  me  judging  by  what  is going  on.    I  must say that it is not ingenious.    You may wish to pursue a more credible and more honourable path.    Although you have not formally informed  me  one  way  or  the  other,  it  will  be  necessary  to  refresh  your    memory  of  what  transpired  in  2011.    I  had  gone  to  Benue  State  for  the marriage  of  one  of  my  staff,  Vitalis  Ortese,  in  the  State.    Governor Suswam  was  my  hospitable  host.  He  told  me  that  you  had  accepted  a one-term presidency to allow for  ease of getting support across  the board in the  North.    I decided  to cross-check with  you.    You  did  not  hesitate to confirm to me that you are a strong believer in a one-term of six  years for the  President  and  that  by  the  time  you  have  used  the  unexpired  time  of your  predecessor  and  the  four  years  of  your  first  term,  you  would  have almost used up to six years and you would not need any more term or time.

Later, I  heard from  other sources  including  sources  close to  you  that  you made  the  same  commitment  elsewhere,  hence,  my  inclusion  of  it  in  my  address at the finale of your campaign in 2011 as follows:

“…PDP  should  be  praised  for  being  the  only  party  that  enshrines  federal character,  zoning  and  rotation  in  its  Constitution  and practises  it.  PDP  has brought  stability and substantial predictability to the polity and  to the system.    I do not know who will be President of Nigeria after Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.  That is in the hand of God.    But with PDP policy and practice, I can reasonably guess from  where,  in  term  of  section  of  the  country,  the  successor  to  President Jonathan  will come.    And no  internal democracy or competition will  thereby  be destroyed.  The  recent  resort  to  sentiments  and  emotions  of  religion  and regionalism  is  self-serving,  unpatriotic  and  mischievous,  to  say  the  least.    It  is also preying on dangerous emotive issues that can ignite uncontrollable passion and  can  distabilise  if  not  destroy  our  country.   This  is  being  oblivious  to  the sacrifices  others  have  made  in  the  past  for  unity,  stability  and  democracy  in Nigeria  in  giving  up  their  lives,  shedding their blood,  and  in  going to prison.    I personally have done two out of those three sacrifices and I am ready to do the third if it will  serve the best interest  of Nigerian dream.    Let me appeal to those who have embarked on this dangerous road to reflect and desist from taking us on a perishable journey.

With common identity as Nigerians, there is more that binds  us  than  separates  us.    I  am  a  Nigerian,  born  a  Yoruba  man,  and  I  am proud  of  both  identities  as  they  are  for  me  complementary.  Our  duties, responsibilities and obligations to our country as citizens and, indeed, as leaders must  go  side  by  side  with  our  rights  and  demands. There  must  be  certain values and virtues  that  must go  concomitantly with our  dream.  Thomas  Paine said “my country is the world”; for me, my country I hold dear.

On  two  occasions,  I  have  had  opportunity  to  work  for  my  successors  to  the government  of  Nigeria. On  both  occasions,  I  never  took  the  easy  and distabilising route of  ethnic,  regional or religious  consideration,  rather I  took  the enduring  route  of  national,  uniting  and  stabilising  route.    I  worked  for  both President Shagari and President Yar’Adua to succeed me not just because they are  Moslems, Northerners  or  Hausa-Fulani, but  because  they could strengthen the  unity,  stability  and  democracy  in  Nigeria. We  incurred  the  displeasure  of ethnic chauvinists for doing what was right for the country.  That is in the nature of burden of leadership.  A leader must lead, no matter whose ox is gored.

In  the  present  circumstance,  let  me  reiterate  what I have  said  on a  number  of occasions.    Electing Dr. Goodluck Jonathan,  in  his own  right  and on his own  merit,  as  the  President  of  Nigeria  will  enhance  and  strengthen  our  unity, stability  and  democracy.    And  it  will  lead  us  towards  the  achievement  of  our Nigerian dream.

There is a press report that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has already taken a unique and unprecedented  step  of  declaring  that  he  would  only  want  to  be  a  one-term President.    If  so,  whether  we  know  it  or  not,  that  is  a  sacrifice  and  it  is statesmanly.  Rather than  vilify him  and pull  him down,  we, as a  Party,  should applaud and commend him and Nigerians should reward and venerate him.    He has taken the first good step.

Let  us encourage  him  to  take  more good  steps by voting him  in  with  landslide victory  as  the  fourth  elected  President  of  Nigeria  on  the  basis  of  our  common Nigerian identity and for the purpose of actualising Nigerian dream…”

When you won the election, one of the issues you very early pursued was that of one term of six years.    That convinced me that you meant what you  told me before my Speech at the campaign.    Mr. President, whatever may be your intention or plan, I cannot comment much on the constitutional aspect  of  your  second term  or  what  some  people call  third term.    That is for  both  legal  and  judicial  attention.    But  if  constitutionally  you  are  on  a strong wicket if you so decide, it will be fatally and morally flawed.    As a leader, two  things  you  must  cherish  and  hold  dear  among  others  are  trust  and honour both of which are important ingredients of character.    I will want to see anyone in the Office of the Presidency of Nigeria as a man or woman who can be trusted, a person of honour in his words and character.    I will respect  you  for  upholding  these  attributes  and  for  dignifying  that  Office.

Chinua Achebe said, “One of the truest test of integrity is its blunt refusal to be  compromised.”    It  is  a  lesson  for  all  leaders  including  you  and  me.

However, Mr. President, let me hope that as you claimed that you have not told anybody that you are contesting and that what we see  and hear  is a rumbling  of  overzealous  aides,  you  will  remain  a  leader  that  can  be believed and trusted without unduly passing the buck or engaging in game of denials.

Maybe  you  also  need  to  know  that  many  party  members  feel disappointed  in  the  double  game  you  were  alleged  to  play  in  support  of party  gubernatorial  candidates  in  some  States  where  you  surreptitiously supported  non-PDP  candidates  against  PDP  candidates  in  exchange  for promise  or  act  of  those  non-PDP  Governors  supporting  you  for  your election  in  the  past  or  for  the  one  that  you  are  yet  to  formally  declare.  It happened  in Lagos in  2011 when  Bola Tinubu was  nocturnally  brought to Abuja to strike a  deal for support for your  personal  election  at  great  price materially  and  in  the  fortune  of  PDP  gubernatorial  candidate.

As Chairman of BOT, I spoke to you at that time.  It happened in Ondo State where  there was  in addition  evidence of  cover-up  and  non-prosecution of fraud  of  fake  security  report  against  the  non-PDP  candidate  and  his collaborators for the purpose of extracting personal electoral advantage for you.    In fact, I have raised with you the story of those in other States in the South-West  where  some disgruntled PDP members  were going  around to recruit people into the Labour Party for you, because, for electoral purpose at the national  level, Labour Party  will have no candidate but you. It also happened  in  Edo  State  and  those  who  know  the  detail  never  stopped talking  about it.    And you know it.    Ditto in Anambra State with the  fiasco coming  from undue  interference.    If you  as leader  of  the  Party  cannot  be seen  to  be loyal to the PDP in support of  the candidates of the Party  and the interests of such Party candidates have to be sacrificed on the altar of your  personal and political  interest,  then  good  luck to  the  Party  and  I  will also say as I have had occasions to say in the past, good luck to Goodluck.

If  on  the  altar  of  the  Party  you  go  for  broke,  the  Party  may  be  broken beyond  repairs.    And  when  in  a  dispute  between  two  sides,  they  both stubbornly  decide to  fight  to the  last  drop  of  blood,  no one knows  whose blood  would  be  the  last to  drop.    In such  a  situation,  Nigeria  as a  nation may  also  be adversely affected, not just the  PDP. I wish to see  no more bloodshed  occasioned  by  politics  in  Nigeria.  Please,  Mr.  President,  be mindful of that.  You were exemplary in words when during the campaign and the 2011 elections, you said, “My election is not worth spilling the blood of  any  Nigerian.”  From  you,  it  should  not  be  if  it  has  to  be,  let  it  be.  It should  be  from  you,  let  peace,  security,  harmony,  good  governance, development  and  progress be  for  Nigeria.  That  is  also  your  responsibility and mandate.    You can do it and I plead that you do it. We all have to be mindful  of  not  securing  pyrrhic  victory  on  the  ashes  of  great  values, attributes  and  issues  that  matter  as  it  would  amount  to  hollow  victory without honour and integrity.

Whatever  may  be  the  feud  in PDP  and  no  matter what  you  or  your aides  may  feel,  you,  as  the  Party  Leader,  have  the  responsibility  to  find solution,  resolve  and  fix  it.    Your  legacy  is  involved.  If  PDP  as  a  ruling Party  collapses,  it  will  be  the  first  time  in  an  independent  Nigeria  that  a ruling political party would collapse not as a result of a military coup.    It is food  for  thought. At  the  prompting  of  Governors  on  both  sides of the divide, and on encouragement from you, I spent two nights to intervene in the dispute of the PDP Governors.    I kept you fully briefed at every stage.

I deliberately chose Banquet Hall at the Villa to ensure transparency.    Your aides studied all the recordings of the two nights.    But I told you at the end of  the  exercise  that  I  observed  five  reactions  among  the  Governors  that required your immediate attention as you are the only one from the vantage point of your five positions that could deal effectively with the five reactions which  were  bitterness,  anger,  mistrust,  fear  and  deep  suspicion.    I  could only  hope  that  you  made  efforts  to  deal  with  these  unpleasant  reactions.

The feud leading to the factionalisation of the Party made me to invite some select  elders  of  the  Party  to  mediate  again.  Since I  was  engaged  in assignment outside the country, I was not able to join the three members of the elders group that presented the report of  our mediation  to you. I was briefed  that  you  agreed  to  work  on  the  report.  It  would  appear  that  for now, the  ball  is in your court  as  the Leader of the Party.  I can only wish you  every  success  in  your  handling  of  the  issue.  But  time  is  not  your friend or that of the Party in this respect. With leadership come  not just power  and  authority  to  do  and  to  undo,  but  also  responsibility  and accountability  to  do  and  to  undo  rightly,  well  and  justly.    Time  and  opportunity  are treasure that  must be appreciated  and shared to enhance their value and utilitarianism.

It is instructive that after half a dozen African Presidents have spoken to me  to  help you  with  unifying  the  Party  based  on  your  request  to  them and  I came in company of  Senator Amadu Ali to discuss the whole issue with  you  again,  strangely,  you  denied  ever  requesting  or  authorising  any President to talk to me.    I was not surprised because I am used to such a situation of denial coming from you.    Of course, I was not deterred.    I have done  and I will continue to do and  say  what is first,  in the best interest of Nigeria and second, what is in the best interest of the Party.    I stand for the aims, objectives, mission and vision of the founding fathers of the Party, to use it as a wholesome instrument of unity, good governance, development, prosperity and progress of Nigeria and all Nigerians.    I have contributed to this  goal  in  the  past  and  no  one  who  has  been raised  to  position  on  the platform  of  the  Party  should  shy  away  from  further  contribution  to  avoid division and destruction of the Party on any altar whatsoever.

Debates  and  dialogues  are  necessary  to  promote  the  interest  and work for  the progress of any  human institution or organisation.    In such a situation, agreements and disagreements will occur but in the final analysis, leadership  will  pursue  the  course  of  action  that  benefit  the  majority  and serve the purpose of the organisation, not the purpose of an individual or a minority.    In  that  process,  unity  is  sustained  and  everybody  becomes  a winner.    The so-called crisis in the PDP can be turned to an opportunity of unity,  mutual  understanding  and  respect  with  the  Party  emerging  with enhanced strength and victory.    It will be a win-win for all members of the Party and for the  country.    By  that,  PDP  would have  proved  that  it  could have  internal disagreement and emerge stronger.    The calamity  of  failure can still be avoided.    Please, move away from fringes or the extremes and move to the centre and carry ALL along.    Time is running out.

I  will  only  state  that  as  far  as  your  responsibility  as  Chief  Security Officer  of  the  nation  is  concerned  for  Nigerians,  a  lot  more  needs  to  be done to enhance the feeling of security amongst them.    Whether one talks of the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta, the underlying causes of which have  not  been  adequately  addressed,  if  addressed  at  all,  kidnapping, piracy, abductions and armed robberies which rather than abate are on the increase and  Boko  Haram which requires carrot and stick approach to lay its  ghost  to  rest,  the  general  security  situation  cannot  be  described  as comforting.    Knowing  the  genesis  of  Boko  Haram  and  the  reasons  for escalation of violence from that sector with the widespread and ramification of  the  menace    of  Boko  Haram  within  and  outside  the  Nigerian  borders, conventional  military  actions  based  on  standard  phases  of  military operations alone will not permanently and effectively deal with the issue of Boko  Haram.    There  are  many  strands  or  layers  of  causes  that  require different  solutions,  approaches  or  antidotes.    Drug,  indoctrination, fundamentalism,  gun  trafficking,  hate  culture,  human  trafficking,  money laundering,  religion, poverty, unemployment, poor  education,  revenge  and  international terrorism are among factors that have effect on Boko Haram.

One single prescription cannot cure all these ailments that combine in Boko Haram.    Should we pursue war against violence without understanding the root  causes  of  the  violence  and  applying  solutions  to  deal  with  all underlying factors – root, stem and branches?  Nigeria is bleeding and the hemorrhage  must  be  stopped.  I  am  convinced  that  you  can  initiate measures that will bring all hands on deck to deal effectively with this great  menace.

Mr.  President,  the  most  important  qualification  for  your  present position  is  your  being  a  Nigerian. Whatever  else  you  may  be  besides being  a  Nigerian  is  only  secondary  for  this  purpose.  And  if  majority  of Nigerians  who  voted  had  not cast their votes for you,  you  could  not  have been there.    For you to allow yourself to be “possessed”, so to say, to the exclusion of most of the rest of Nigerians as an ‘Ijaw man’ is a mistake that should never  have been allowed to  happen.    Yes,  you have  to be born in one  part  of  Nigeria  to  be  a  Nigerian  if  not  naturalised, but  the  Nigerian President must be above ethnic factionalism.    And those who prop you up as  of,  and  for  ‘Ijaw  nation’  are  not  your  friends  genuinely,  not  friends  of Nigeria  nor  friends  of  ‘Ijaw  nation’,  they  tout  about.    To  allow  or  tacitly encourage  people of ‘Ijaw nation’ to throw insults  on  other  Nigerians from other  parts of  the  country  and threaten fire and brimstone to  protect  your interest  as  an  Ijaw  man  is  myopic  and  your  not  openly  quieting  them  is even  more  unfortunate.    You  know  that  I  have  expressed  my  views  and feelings  to  you  on  this  issue  in  the  past  but  I  have  come  to  realise  that many others feel the way I have earlier expressed to you. It is not the best way  of  making  friendship  among  all  sections  of  Nigeria.    You  don’t  have shared  and  wholesome  society  without  inclusive  political,  economic  and social  sustainable  development  and  good  governance. Also  declaring that  one section of  the  country voted for  you  as if  you  got  no  votes  from other sections can  only  be  an  unnecessary  talk, to  put it  mildly.    After  all and at the end of the day, democracy is a game of numbers.  Even, if you would not need people’s vote across the country again, your political Party will.

Allegation of keeping over 1,000 people on political watch  list  rather than  criminal  or  security  watch  list  and  training  snipers  and  other  armed personnel  secretly  and  clandestinely  acquiring  weapons  to  match  for political purposes like Abacha, and training them where Abacha trained his own killers, if it is true, cannot augur well for the initiator, the government and  the  people  of  Nigeria.    Here  again,  there  is  the  lesson  of  history  to learn  from  for  anybody  who  cares  to  learn  from  history.    Mr.  President would  always  remember  that  he  was  elected  to  maintain  security  for  all Nigerians  and  protect  them.    And  no  one  should  prepare  to  kill  or  maim Nigerians  for  personal  or  political  ambition  or  interest  of  anyone.    The Yoruba adage says, “The man with whose head the coconut is broken may not live to savour the taste of the succulent fruit.”    Those who advise you to go hard  on  those  who  oppose  you  are  your  worst  enemies.    Democratic politics admits and is  permissive of supporters and opponents.  When the consequences come, those who have wrongly advised you will not be there to help carry the can.  Egypt must teach some lesson.

Presidential  assistance  for  a  murderer  to  evade  justice  and presidential  delegation  to  welcome  him  home  can  only  be  in  bad  taste generally but  particularly to the family  of  his victim.  Assisting criminals to evade  justice  cannot  be  part  of  the  job  of  the Presidency.    Or,  as  it  is viewed  in some  quarters, is he being recruited to do for you  what  he  had done  for  Abacha  in  the  past?    Hopefully,  he  should  have  learned  his lesson.    Let us continue to watch.

As  Head  of  Government,  the  buck  of  the  performance  and non-performance  stops  on  your  table  and  let  nobody  tell  you  anything  to the  contrary. Most  of  our  friends  and  development  partners  are  worried and they see what we pretend to cover up.  They are worried about issue of  security  internally  and  on  our  coastal  waters,  including  heavy  oil  theft, alias  bunkering  and  piracy.  They  are  worried  about  corruption  and  what we  are  doing  or  not  doing  about  it.    Corruption  has  reached  the  level  of impunity.    It  is  also  necessary  to  be  mindful  that  corruption  and  injustice are fertile breeding ground for terrorism and political instability.    And if you are  not  ready  to  name,  shame,  prosecute  and  stoutly  fight  against corruption,  whatever  you  do  will  be  hollow.    It  will  be  a  laughing  matter.

They  are worried  about how we  play  our  role in  our  region  and,  indeed, in the  world.  In  a  way,  I  share  some  of  their  concerns  because  there  are notable  areas we can do more  or  do  better than  we  are  doing. Some of our  development  partners  were  politically  frustrated  to  withdraw  from  the Olokola  LNG  project,  which  happily  was  not  yet  the  same  with  the Brass.  I initiated  them  both.  They  were viable  and  would  have taken us  close to  Qatar as LNG producing country.  Please do not frustrate Brass LNG and in  the  interest  of  what  is best  for  Nigerian  economy,  bring  back the OK LNG into  active  implementation. The  major  international  oil  companies  have withheld  investment  in  projects  in  Nigeria.  If  they  have  not  completely moved out, they are divesting.  Nigeria, which is the Saudi of Africa in oil and  gas  terms,  is  being  overtaken  by  Angola  only  because  necessary decisions  are  not  made  timely  and  appropriately.    Mr.  President,  let  me again plead with you to be decisive on the oil and gas sector so that Nigeria may not lag behind.    Oil with gas is being discovered all over Africa. New technology  is  producing  oil  from  shale  elsewhere.  We  should  make  hay while the sun shines.  I hope we can still save the OK and Brass LNG projects.

Three  things  are  imperative  in  the  oil  and  gas  sector  –  stop  oil  stealing, encourage  investment, especially  by  the  IOCs  and  improve  the  present poor management of the industry.  On the economy generally, it suffices to say that we  could  do  better than  we are doing. The signs  are there  and the  expectations  are  high. The  most  dangerous  ticking  bomb  is  youth unemployment, particularly in the face of unbridled corruption and obscene rulers’ opulence.

Let  me  repeat that as far as the  issue  of corruption, security  and oil stealing is concerned, it is only apt to say that when the guard becomes the  thief,  nothing  is  safe,  secure  nor  protected  in  the  house.    We  must  all remember  that  corruption,  inequity  and  injustice  breed  poverty, unemployment,  conflict,  violence  and  wittingly  or  unwittingly  create terrorists  because  the  opulence  of  the  governor  can  only  lead  to  the leanness of the governed.    But God never sleeps, He is watching, waiting and bidding His time to dispense justice.

The serious and strong allegation of non-remittance of about $7bn from the NNPC to central bank occurring from export of some 300,000 barrels per day, amounting to $900 million a month, to be refined and with refined products  of  only  $400m   returned  and  Atlantic  Oil  loading  about 130,000  barrels  sold  by  Shell  and  managed  on  behalf  of  NPDC  with  no sale  proceeds  paid  into NPDC  account  is incredible. The allegation  was buttressed  by the  letter of the Governor of  Central  Bank  of Nigeria to you on non-remittance  to the central bank.  This  allegation  will  not  fly  away  by non-action, cover-up, denial or bribing possible investigators.    Please deal with this allegation transparently and let the truth be known.

The dramatis personae in this allegation and who they are working for will  one  day  be  public knowledge.    Those  who  know  are  watching  if  the National  Assembly will not be accomplice in the heinous crime  and naked grand corruption.    May God grant  you  the grace  for at least one effective corrective  action  against  high  corruption,  which  seems  to  stink  all  around you in your government.

The  international  community  knows  us  as  we  are  and  maybe  more than we claim to know ourselves. And a good friend will tell you the truth no  matter  how bitter. Denials and  cover-up  of  what  is  obvious,  true  and factual  can  detract  from  honour,  dignity  and  respect.  Truth  and transparency  dignify  and  earn  respect.  And  life  without  passion  for something  can  only  achieve  little.    I  was  taken  aback  when  an  African Development  Bank  Director  informed  me  that  the  water  project  for Port Harcourt, originally initiated by the Federal Government and to be financed  by the bank, is being put in the cooler by the Federal Government because of the Amaechi-Jonathan face-off.  Amaechi, whether he likes it or not, will cease to be governor over Rivers State, which Port Harcourt is part by the end of May 2015, but residents of Port Harcourt will continue to need improvement of  their  water  supply. President  Jonathan  should  rise  above  such pettiness and unpresidential act, if it is coming from him.    But if not, and it is  the  action  of overzealous  officials  reading the situation, he  should  give appropriate instruction for the project to be pursued. And there are other projects  anywhere  suffering  the  same  coolness  as  a  result  of  similar situation,  let  national interest supercede personal or political feud  and  the machinations of satanic officials.

Mr.  President,  let  me  plead  with  you for a  few  things  that  will  stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.    Don’t always consider critics on national  issues  as  enemies.    Some  of  them  may  be  as  patriotic  and nationalistic  as  you  and  I  who  have  been  in  government. Some  of  them have  as  much  passion  for  Nigeria  as  we  have.  I  saw  that  among Nigerians  living  abroad,  hence, I initiated Nigerians  in  Diaspora Organisation,  NIDO.  You  must  also  differentiate  between  malevolent, mischievous  and  objective  criticism.    Analyses,  criticisms  and commentaries on government actions and policies are sinew of democracy.

Please, Mr. President,  be very  wary of assistants,  aides and collaborators who look for enemies for you.    I have seen them with you and some were around  me  when  I  was  in  your  position.  I  knew  how  not  to  allow  them create  enemies for  me.  If  you allow  them,  everybody  except  them  will be your enemy.  They are more dangerous than identified adversaries.  May God  save  leaders  from  sycophants.    They  know  what  you  want  to  hear and they feed you with it essentially for their own selfish interest. As far as you  and  Nigeria  are  concerned,  they  are  wreckers.    Where  were  they when  God  used  others  to  achieve  His  will  in  your  life.    They  possess you now for their interest. No interest should be higher or more important than the Nigerian interest to you.    You have already made history and please do nothing to mar history.    I supported you as I supported Yar’Adua.    For me, there is neither North-South divide nor Christian-Moslem divide but one Nigeria.

Let  me  put  it,  that  talks,  loose  and  serious,  abound  about  possible abuse and misuse of the military and the legitimate security apparatus for unwholesome personal and political interest to the detriment of the honour, dignity, oath and professionalism  of these  honourable and patriotic forces.

Let  me urge the authorities not to embark on such  destructive  path for  an important  element of our national  make-up. The roles  of the military and the security agencies should be held sacrosanct in the best interest of the nation.    Again, let not history repeat itself here.

I  believe  that  with  what  Nigeria  went  through  in  the  past,  the worst should have already happened. It must be your responsibility as the captain  of  the  ship  to  prevent  the  ship  from  going  aground  or  from  a shipwreck.    For anybody close to you saying that if the worst happens, he or she would not be involved is idle and loose talk.    If we leave God to do His will and  we don’t  rely  only  on our own  efforts, plans  and  wisdom, God will always  do  His  best.    And the  power  of  money and  belief  in it  is satanically tempting.    As I go around Nigeria and the world, I always come across Nigerians who are first-class citizens of the world and who are doing well  where  they  are  and  who  are  passionate  to  do  well  for  Nigeria.    My hope for our country lies in these people.    They abound and I hope that all of us will realise that they are the jewels of Nigeria wherever they may be and not those who arrogate to themselves eternal for ephemeral.

Also,  to  my  embarrassment  at  times,  I  learned  more  about  what  is going on in the public and private sectors of Nigeria from our development partners, international institutions and those transacting business in Nigeria most times I was abroad.    On returning home to verify the veracity of these stories,  I  found some  of  them not  only  to  be true but  more horrifying  than they  were  presented  abroad.    Other  countries  look  up  to  Nigeria  for regional leadership.    Failure on the part of Nigeria will create a schism that will be bad for the region.

Knowing what happens  around  you,  most  of  which you know of  and condone or deny, this letter will provoke cacophony from hired and unhired attackers but I will maintain my serenity because by this letter, I have done my duty to  you  as  I have always done,  to your  government, to  the  Party, PDP, and to our country, Nigeria.    If I stuck out my neck and God used me and others as instrument to work hard for you to reach where you are today in  what  I  considered  the  best  political  interest  of  Nigeria,  tagging  me  as your  enemy or  the  enemy  of  your administration by you,  your kin  or  your aides can  only be regarded as ridiculous to extreme.    If I see any danger to your life, I will point it out to you or ward it off as I have done in the past.

But I will not support what I believe is not in the best interest of Nigeria, no matter who  is putting it forward  or who is behind it.    Mr. President, I have passed  the  stage  of  being  flattered,  intimidated,  threatened,  frightened, induced or bought.   I am never afraid to agree or disagree but it will always 13 be on principles, and if on politics, in the national interest. After my prison experience in the close proximity of and sharing facilities with an asylum in Yola, there is nothing worse for anyone alive and well.    And that was for a military  dictator  to  perpetuate  himself  in  power.    Death  is  the  end  of  all human  beings  and  may  it  come  when  God  wills  it  to  come.  The harassment of my relations and friends and innuendo that are coming from the Government security apparatus on whether they belong to new PDP or supporters of defected Governors and which are possibly authorised or are  the  work  of  overzealous  aides  and  those  reading  your  lips  to  act  in  your interest will be counter-productive.  It is abuse of security apparatus. Such abuse took place  last  in  the time of  Abacha.

Lies and untruths  about me emanating from the presidency is too absurd to contemplate. Saying that I recommended a wanted criminal by UK and USA authorities to you or your aides to supplant legitimately elected PDP leader in South-West is not only unwise  and  crude  but  also  disingenuous.    Nobody  in  his  or  her  right senses  will  believe  such  a  story  and  surely  nobody  in  Ogun  State  or South-West zone will believe such nonsense. It is a clear indication of how unscrupulous and unethical the presidency can go to pursue your personal and political interest.    Nothing else matters.    What a pity!  Nothing at this stage of my life would prevent me from standing for whatever I consider to be in the best interest of Nigeria – all Nigeria, Africa and  the  world in  that order. I believe strongly that a united and strong PDP at all costs is in the best  interest  of  Nigeria. In  these  respects,  if  our  interests  and  views coincide,  together  we  will  march.  Putting  a  certified  unashamed  criminal wanted abroad to face justice and who has greatly contributed to corruption within the judiciary on a high profile of politics as you and your aides have done with the man you enthrone as PDP Zonal leader in the South-West is the height of disservice to this country politically and height of insult to the people  of  South-West  in  general  and  members  of  PDP  in  that  zone  in particular.

For me, my politics goes with principles and morality and I will not be a party to highly  profiling criminals in politics, not to say one  would be  my  zonal  leader.    It  destroys  what  PDP  stands  for  from  its  inception…

God is never a supporter of evil and will surely save PDP and Nigeria from the hands of destroyers.    If everything fails and the Party cannot    be retrieved  from  the  hands  of  criminals  and  commercial  jobbers  and discredited  touts,  men  and  women  of  honour,  principles,  morality  and integrity must step aside to rethink.

Let me also appeal to and urge defected, dissatisfied, disgruntled and in any way displeased PDP Governors, legislators, party officials and party members to respond positively if the President seriously takes the initiative to  find  mutually  agreeable  solution  to  the  current  problems  for  which  he alone has the key and the initiative.    I have heard it said particularly within the presidency circle that the disaffected  Governors and members of PDP are  my  children.    I  begin  to  wonder  if,  from  top  to  bottom,  any  PDP  15    member  in  elective  office  today  is  not  directly  or  indirectly  a  beneficiary  and, so to say, my political child.    Anyone who may claim otherwise will be like a river that has forgotten its source.    But like a good father, all I seek is peaceful  and amicable solution  that  will  re-unite  the  family  for  victory  and progress of the family and the nation and nothing else.

In  a  democracy,  leaders  are  elected  to  lighten  the  burden  of  the people,  give  them  freedom,  choice  and  equity  and  ensure  good governance  and not to deceive  them, burden them, oppress them,  render them  hopeless  and  helpless.    Nothing  should  be  done  to  undermine  the tenets, and values of democratic principles and practice.    Tyranny in all its manifestation may be appealing to a leader in trying times of political feud or  disagreement.    Democracy  must,  however,  prevail  and  be  held  as sacrosanct.    Today,  you  are  the  President  of Nigeria, I  acknowledge  you and respect you as such.

The  act of  an  individual  has  a  way  of  rubbing  off  on  the  generality.

May it never be the wish of majority of Nigerians that Goodluck Jonathan, by  his  acts  of  omission  or  commission,  would  be  the  first  and  the  last Nigerian  President  ever  to  come  from  Ijaw  tribe.    The  idea  and  the possibility  must  give  all  of  us  food  for  thought.    That  was  never  what  I worked  for  and  that  would  never  be  what  I  will  work  for.    But  legacy  is made of such or the opposite.

My  last  piece  of  advice,  Mr.  President,  is  that  you  should  learn  the lesson of history and please do not take Nigeria and Nigerians for granted.

Move  away  from  culture  of  denials,  cover-ups  and  proxies  and  deal honesty, sincerely and transparently with Nigerians to regain their trust and confidence.    Nigerians are no fools, they can see, they can hear, they can talk among themselves, they can think, they can compare and they can act  in the interest  of  their country  and in  their  own  self-interest.    They  keenly watch  all  actions  and  deeds  that  are  associated  with  you  if  they  cannot believe  your  words.  I  know  you  have  the  power  to  save  PDP  and  the country.    I beg you to have the courage and the will with patriotism to use the  power  for  the  good  of  the  country.    Please  uphold  some  form  of national core values.  I will appeal to all Nigerians particularly all members of  PDP  to  respect  and  dignify  the  Office  of  the  President.  We  must  all know that individuals will come and go but the Office will remain.

Once again, time is of the essence.    Investors are already retreating 16    from  Nigeria,  adopting  ‘wait  and  see  attitude’  and  knowing  what  we  are deficient  of,  it  will  take time  to  reverse  the  trend  and  we  may  miss  some golden opportunities.

Finally, your later-day conversion into National Conference is fraught with danger of disunity, confusion and chaos if not well handled.    I believe in  debate  and  dialogue  but  it  must  be  purposeful,  directed  and  managed well without ulterior motives.    The ovation has not died out yet and there is always life after a decent descent.

Accept, Dear  Mr.  President,  the  assurances  of  my  highest consideration.

Olusegun Obasanjo

PS

I  crave  your  indulgence  to  share  the  contents  of  this  letter,  in  the  first instance,  with  General  Ibrahim  Babangida  and  General  Abdulsalami  Abubakar, who,  on  a  number  of  occasions  in  recent  times,  have  shared  with  me  their agonising  thoughts,  concerns  and  expressions  on  most  of  the  issues  I  have raised  in  this  letter  concerning  the  situation  and  future  of  our  country.  I also crave your indulgence  to  share the contents with General Yakubu  Danjuma and Dr.  Alex Ekwueme, whose  concerns  for and commitments to the  good of Nigeria have  been  known  to  be  strong.

The limit  of  sharing  of  the  contents  may  be extended as time goes on.

Olusegun Obasanjo

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Obasanjo writes Jonathan, accuses president of lying, destroying Nigeria, promoting corruption
December 11, 2013 | 1 Comments

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An apparently angry and frustrated ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo has written what clearly competes as one of the most acerbic letters in modern history to President Goodluck Jonathan, accusing him of ineptitude and of taking actions calculated at destroying Nigeria.

“Nigeria is bleeding and the hemorrhage must be stopped,” Mr. Obasanjo said in the 18-page letter dated December 2, 2013 and exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday.

He said Mr. Jonathan has failed to deliver on his promises to the Nigerian people, stem corruption, promote national unity and strengthen national security.

He said in the letter titled “Before it is too late” that rather than take steps to advance Nigeria’s interest and up the standards of living of Nigerians, Mr. Jonathan had betrayed God and the Nigerian people that brought him to power, and has been pursuing selfish personal and political interests based on advice he receives from “self-centred aides”.

In the detailed letter, dripping of anger , frustration and what appears a genuine concern to rescue a nation on the brink, Mr. Obasanjo lamented that Mr. Jonathan had become terribly divisive and clannish, destroying his own party, polarizing the country along regional and religious lines and ridiculing Nigeria in the comity of nations.

Without mincing words, Mr. Obasanjo blamed Mr. Jonathan for the crises tearing the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, apart.

He said apart from using party chairman Bamanga Tukur to cause multiple crises and divide the ranks of the party, the president’s failure to keep a promise he made not to seek a second term is also generating tension within the ruling party.

“It would be unfair to continue to level full blames on the Chairman (Tukur) for all that goes wrong with the party,” Mr. Obasanjo said. “The chairman is playing the tune dictated by the paymaster (Jonathan). But the paymaster is acting for a definitive purpose for which deceit and deception seem to be the major ingredients.

“Up till two months ago, Mr. President, you told me that you have not told anybody that you would contest in 2015. I quickly pointed out to you that the signs and the measures on the ground do not tally with your statement. You said the same to one other person who shared his observation with me. And only a fool would believe that statement you made to me judging by what is going on. I must say it is not ingenious. You may wish to pursue a more credible and more honorable path.”

The former President said Mr. Jonathan told him before the 2011 election he would not seek a second term, and made the same promise to governors, party stakeholders and Nigerians.

The president’s refusal to keep that promise cast him as a man without honour, Mr. Obasanjo said.

Saying it would be “fatally morally flawed” for Mr. Jonathan to contest in 2015, Mr. Obasanjo added, “As a leader, two things you must cherish and hold dear among others are trust and honour both of which are important ingredients of character. I will want to see anyone in the Office of the Presidency of Nigeria as a man or woman who can be trusted, a person of honour in his words and character.”

Mr. Obasanjo also accused Mr. Jonathan of anti-party conducts – supporting opposition parties’ candidates in governorship elections in Lagos, Ondo, Edo and Anambra states at the detriment of PDP’s own candidates –, and of pitting party members against one another.

Saying the President had failed to address the underlying causes of the Boko Haram menace, Mr. Obasanjo urged Mr. Jonathan to adopt a carrot and stick approach in dealing with the insurgency explaining that “conventional military actions based on standard phases of military operations alone will not permanently and effectively deal with the issue of Boko Haram”.

Mr. Obasanjo also tackled Mr. Jonathan for allegedly being clannish. “For you to allow yourself to be “possessed”, so to say, to the exclusion of most of the rest of Nigerians as an “Ijaw man” is a mistake that should never have been allowed to happen. Yes, you have to be born in one part of Nigeria to be Nigerian if not naturalized but the Nigerian President must be above ethnic factionalism. And those who prop you up as of, and for ‘Ijaw nation’ are not your friends genuinely, not friends of Nigeria nor friends of ‘Ijaw nation’ they tout about.

“To allow or tacitly encourage people of ‘Ijaw nation’ to throw insults on other Nigerians from other parts of the country and threaten fire and brimstone to protect your interest as an Ijaw man is myopic and your not openly quieting them is even more unfortunate.

Two Ijaw men, ex-militant Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, and a former federal commissioner for information,    Edwin Clark, who carries himself around as the political godfather of the president, are known to talk down on people opposed to the president.

Mr. Obasanjo also accused Mr. Jonathan of placing over 1000 Nigerians on political watch list and “training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely acquiring weapons to match for political purposes like Abacha and training them where Abacha trained his killers”.

He wondered why the Presidency was providing assistance for a murderer to evade justice.

“Presidential assistance for a murderer to evade justice and presidential delegation to welcome him home can only be in bad taste generally but particularly to the family of his victim,” Mr. Obasanjo said. “Assisting criminals to evade justice cannot be part of the job of the presidency. Or, as it is viwed in some quarters, is he being recruited to do for you what he had done for Abacha in the past? Hopefully, he should have learned his lesson. Let us continue to watch.”

Mr. Obasanjo did not mention the name of the murderer he accused the President of protecting but he seems to be referring to Hamza Al-Mustapha, a former security aide to late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, who is facing trial for allegedly masterminding the killing of Kudirat Abiola, the wife of Moshood Abiola, the winner of the annulled 1993 presidential election.

Mr. Al-Mustapha was freed by the appeal court in July but the Lagos state government has since appealed the judgment at the Supreme Court.

The former President also called on the National Assembly to rise up and take decisive action over the recent allegation in the country that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation failed to remit billions of dollars in proceeds of crude oil sales to the federation account.

“This allegation will not fly away by non-action, cover-up, denial or bribing possible investigators,” Mr. Obasanjo told the President. “Please deal with this allegation transparently and let the truth be known.

“The dramatis personae in this allegation and who they are working for will one day be public knowledge. Those who know are watching if the National Assembly will not be accomplice in the heinous crime and naked grand corruption. May God grant you the grace for at least one effective corrective action against high corruption which seems to stink all around you in your government.”

Mr. Obasanjo said he wrote the letter in the national interest, saying nothing, at this stage of his life, would prevent him from standing up for whatever he considers to be in the best interest of Nigeria, Africa and the world.

He said he was ready for whatever backlash his letter would provoke from the presidency.

“Knowing what happens around you most of which you know of and condone or deny, this letter will proke cacophony from hired and unhired attackers but I will maintain my serenity because by this letter, I have done my duty to you as I have always done, to your government, to the party, PDP, and to our country, Nigeria…,” Mr. Obasanjo said.

“I have passed the stage of being flattered, intimidated, threatened, frightened, induced or bought… Death is the end of all human beings and may it come when God wills it to come.”

*Source Premium Times

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Aftermath Of Merger With APC: Start Writing Your Handover Notes, New PDP Tells Jonathan
November 28, 2013 | 0 Comments
goodluck-jonathan123 (1)By Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze

Late this morning, at about 11:46, the National Chairman of the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, formally announced the merger of the party with the All Progressives Congress (APC). The merger was contained in a communiqué which Alhaji Baraje read to journalists at the end of a meeting between the leadership of New PDP and that of the APC held at the Kano Governor’s Lodge in Abuja. The communiqué signed by Bisi Akande the APC National Chairman and Kawu Abubakar Baraje the National Chairman of NPDP reads, “A meeting of the leadership of All Progressives Congress, APC, and the new PDP met this morning at the residence of the Kano State Governor, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, in Abuja and after exhaustive deliberations the two parties agreed to merge in order to rescue our fledgling democracy and the nation”  .

With this development, the G7 Governors of New PDP, namely, Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), are now members of the APC. The merger thus shoots up the number of APC State Governors to 18 while PDP’s shrinks to 16, with All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Labour Party having one governor each. A similar permutation exists in the National Assembly where we now have the majority with PDP and its allies in minority.

The simple meaning of this is that APC is now the majority party in the country while PDP has become a minority party. In the circumstances, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan must now start writing his handover notes because his ambition to maouevre the party structures so as to get a third term in office in 2015 has suddenly collapsed.

What a sudden change of fortune! What a sad day for the PDP, a party which we laboured to build, which was viciously taken away from us but which, out of our great love for it, we did everything humanly possible to save but were frustrated by the unpatriotic elements that have usurped the leadership of the party.

Nigerians could recall that several meetings had been held between the APC leaders and the leaders of the New PDP.  The APC had visited each of our seven New PDP governors in their states to convince them to join its fold but all these notwithstanding while the PDP Leadership on their own side were plotting on daily basis on how to frustrate us out of the party we suffered to nurture.

DSC_8352_0The fact remains that we did all within our powers to reconcile with PDP to no avail and sadly our dear President allowed the hawks within the Presidency and PDP Leadership to convince him to abort our last Sunday’s meeting that would have brought a last peace to our party which the PDP leadership under Alhaji Bamanga Tukur frustrated, so we have no other option than to formally announce the death and burial of PDP. Day and night we cried out, begging whoever loved PDP to join us to rescue the party from imminent doom but we were conveniently ignored and abused. Just last night, we issued the last in a series of passionate appeals to PDP Elders to take urgent steps to save the troubled party in the face of their unbelievable silence in the face of the chain of developments instigated by factional National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, which has put the party at the edge of the precipice.

Now, we have reached the stage that we can only say: “PDP, your sinking ship has been abandoned to you! You brought this misfortune upon yourself, now you must bear it alone!”

As for us, we are happy to belong to the APC, where our value is appreciated, where we are made to feel truly wanted, and where we can now join forces with like minds in our struggle to liberate Nigeria from PDP’s misrule, which is soon to end.

Among those at the Tuesday’s historical merger meeting were APC leader and former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu; APC National Chairman, Bisi Akande; Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso: former Kwara governor and serving senator, Bukola Saraki; former Nasarawa governor and serving senator, Abdullahi Adamu; former Bayelsa governor, Timipre Sylva; and Adamawa State Governor, Murtala Nyako.

Others were former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Masari; Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi; National Secretary of the PDP, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; former Abia governor, Ogbonnaya Onu; former PDP vice chairman, Sam Jaja; Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed; and Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu.

*Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is National Publicity Secretary, NPDP. Source Sahara Reports

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Nigeria’ll sell oil refineries next year – Diezani
November 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Sebastine Obasi, with Agency report*

Deziani-Alison-MaduekeNIGERIA, Africa’s largest oil producer, plans to begin privatizing its four state-owned oil refineries before the end of the first quarter, Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke said.

Alison-Madueke said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Africa in London, “We would like to see major infrastructural entities such as refineries moving out of government hands into the private sector. Government does not want to be in the business of running major infrastructure entities and we haven’t done a very good job at it over all these years.”

A presidential audit of the facilities last year recommended their sale due to inadequate government funding and “sub-optimal performance.” The refineries, which have a combined 445,000 barrel-a-day capacity, should be privatized within 18 months, according to the report submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan in November 2012. Nigeria, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, produced 1.99 million barrels a day of crude in October, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

While Nigeria is also Africa’s top crude exporter and the most populous with more than 160 million people, it relies on fuel imports to meet more than 70 percent of its needs. Its state-owned plants operate at a fraction of their capacity because of poor maintenance and aging equipment. Nigeria also exchanges 60,000 barrels a day of crude for products with Trafigura Beheer BV and a similar amount with Societe Ivoirienne de Raffinage’s refinery in Ivory Coast, according to Nigeria National Petroleum Corp.

“We are right now undergoing a major turnaround maintenance program” of the refineries, Alison-Madueke said.

Improvements to the two-unit 210,000 barrel-a-day Port Harcourt refinery, the country’s biggest, will be completed by the end of the year, to be followed by enhancements at the Warri and Kaduna sites in 2014, according to the NNPC. Warri has a daily processing capacity of 125,000 and Kaduna 110,000 barrels.

Towards the end of former President Obasanjo’s administration in 2007, the refineries were sold to companies owned by billionaire Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola, but the sale was reversed by the President Musa Yar’Adua government that took over from Obasanjo.

*Source Vanguard

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An Amazon.com for Africa?
November 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

IT IS impossible to shop in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, says Jeremy Hodara, the French co-founder of Jumia, an online retailer that began trading in the country 18 months ago. The roads are terrible; the traffic is crazy; the city has only a handful of shopping malls between 20m people; and when you get to a mall many of the branded products on sale are fake. Rich people go to New York or London to shop. “They have no other option,” says Mr Hodara.

There is no shortage of demand. Nigeria has a rapidly-growing economy and a population of 170m, most of them young. But supply is another matter. The boss of Shoprite, Africa’s biggest supermarket chain, said in August that his firm would like to open 700 stores there but it is hard to find places to build them. It has just seven stores in Nigeria. Woolworths, another South African chain, recently announced it would close its three stores in Nigeria because of high rents and gaps in the supply chain.

This creates an opportunity for a business like Jumia. Only online shopping can grow quickly enough to bridge the “shocking” gap between demand and supply, says Mr Hodara. Access to the internet is no bar: Nigeria is smart-phone crazy. The challenge is to offer a wide range of goods and reliable delivery. Jumia stocks 100,000 separate items at its main warehouse near Lagos airport, including phones, TVs, clothes and white goods. It has satellite storage units in the seven other cities it serves. And it has a fleet of 200 mopeds and vans to get the stuff to its customers quickly.

Gaining the trust of shoppers is the biggest test. Web-based scams are common in Nigeria. Shoppers will not pay upfront for goods that may not arrive. So Jumia offers a pay-on-delivery service: “It was the only way,” says Mr Hodara. The firm aims to deliver goods in one to five days. Its customers do not tolerate poor service. “If you say you will deliver on Tuesday, you have to deliver on Tuesday.”

The payoff for Jumia could be huge. Mr Hodara reckons spending online might eventually account for as much as half of all retail sales in Nigeria. But the hassles are also big. It took six months to find a suitable warehouse in Lagos and several more to get it in shape. “Everything in Nigeria is a nightmare,” says Mr Hodara. Then again if it were an easy place to do business, Amazon.com would already be there.

 *Source The Economist
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