Sunday, 21 January 2018
Business and Economy

Business and Economy (743)

South Africa’s economy contracted in the first quarter of this year, pushing the continent’s largest economy into its first recession since 2009, the official statistics agency reported Tuesday.

“The South African economy moved into recession with the reported decrease of 0.7 percent in GDP (gross domestic product) during the first quarter of 2017, following a 0.3 percent contraction in the fourth quarter of 2016,” said Stats SA.

The biggest contributor to the negative GDP growth were the trade, catering and accommodation industry, which shrank by 5.9 percent and accounted for -0.8 of a percentage point to GDP growth.

The manufacturing sector decreased by 3.7 percent as unemployment climbed to a record 27.7 percent, the highest joblessessness rate in 14 years.

Only the mining and agriculture sectors posted growth rates of 12.8 percent and 22.2 percent respectively in the first quarter.

South Africa’s economy has been experiencing weak growth in recent years.

In April it lost its investment grade when the world’s two major rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s downgraded its sovereign debt to junk status after President Jacob Zuma’s dramatic ministerial shake-up that saw respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan axed.

The two ratings firms cited political and economic instability as grounds for the downgrades.

Posted On Tuesday, 06 June 2017 19:05 Written by

Nigeria’s total debt rose to N19.15 trillion ($62.91 billion) as of March 2017, from N17.36 trillion at the end of last year, the Debt Management Office said on Monday.

Africa’s biggest economy, which slipped into recession last year for the first time in 25 years, raised $1 billion in February and $500 million in March from Eurobond sales.

The government intends to use the money raised to plug its budget deficit and fund infrastructure development. The record N7.44 trillion 2017 budget was passed by lawmakers last month but is yet to be signed into law by the presidency, Reuters reports.

The government planned to spend N6.1 trillion last year as part of its bid to increase capital expenditure, but struggled to fund its budget. The 2017 plan projects a deficit of 2.21 trillion naira, implying a deficit equivalent to 2.18 percent of Nigerian GDP.

The external component of Nigeria’s debt stood at $13.80 billion at the end of the first quarter, against $11.40 billion at the end of December, the debt office said on its website.

Local debt fell to N11.97 trillion, against N13.88 trillion last year.

Posted On Tuesday, 06 June 2017 02:28 Written by

Suspected militants drove a van into pedestrians at high speed on London Bridge on Saturday night before stabbing revelers on nearby streets, killing at least six people and wounding close to 50.

Armed police rushed to the scene and shot dead the three male attackers in the Borough Market area near the bridge, as authorities urged Londoners on Twitter to “run, hide, tell” if they were caught up in the violence.

The attacks came just five days ahead of a national parliamentary election on Thursday. The ruling Conservative Party suspended national campaigning on Sunday, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said.

“Following updates from police and security officials, I can confirm that the terrible incident in London is being treated as a potential act of terrorism,” May said in a statement as events unfolded.

The killings also occurred less than two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a pop concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in Manchester in northern England.

An armed police stands on Borough High Street as police are dealing with an incident on London Bridge in London, Saturday, June 3, 2017.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

“Sadly, six people have died in addition to the three attackers shot by police,” Mark Rowley, Britain’s top anti-terrorism officer, said. The three attackers had been wearing what looked like explosive vests that were later found to have been hoaxes.

The BBC showed a photograph of two possible attackers shot by police, one of whom had canisters strapped to his body. Hours after the attack the area remained sealed off and patrolled by armed police and counter-terrorism officers.

The London Ambulance Service said 48 people had been taken to five hospitals across the city and a number of others had been treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Streets around London Bridge and Borough Market, an area that is a major transport hub and is packed with bars and restaurants, was busy with people on a night out.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan spoke of a “cowardly attack on innocent Londoners and visitors to our city enjoying their Saturday night.”


Witnesses described a white van careering into pedestrians on the bridge.

“It looked like he was aiming for groups of people. I froze because I didn’t know what to do,” Mark Roberts, 53, a management consultant, told Reuters. He saw at least six people on the ground after the van veered on and off the pavement.

“It was horrendous,” he said.

A taxi driver told the BBC that three men got out of the van with long knives and “went randomly along Borough High Street stabbing people.”

Witnesses described people running into a bar to seek shelter.

“People started running and screaming, and the van crashes into the railing behind. We went towards Borough Market and everyone went inside (the bar). Everyone in the bar started pushing people from the exits,” one witness, who gave his name as Brian, 32, told Reuters.

Another witness, who declined to be named, his white top covered in blood, described a scene of panic in the bar.

“They hit the emergency alarm. There was a line of people going down to the emergency exit. And then people started screaming coming back up,” the 31-year-old said.

“Around the corner there was a guy with a stab wound on his neck … There was a doctor in the pub and she helped him. They put pressure on the stab wound.”

BBC radio said witnesses saw people throwing tables and chairs at the attackers to protect themselves.

The BBC showed dozens of people being escorted to safety through a police cordon with their hands on their heads.

Islamic State, losing territory in Syria and Iraq to an advance backed by a U.S-led coalition, sent out a call on instant messaging service Telegram early on Saturday urging its followers to launch attacks with trucks, knives and guns against “Crusaders” during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Similar attacks, in Berlin, Nice, Brussels and Paris, have been carried out by Islamist militants over the past two years.

May was due to chair a meeting of the Cobra security committee later on Sunday.

U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to offer U.S. help to Britain. The White House said he had been briefed on the incidents by his national security team.

French president Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter that “France is standing more than ever side by side with the UK.”

The incident bore similarities to a March attack on Westminster Bridge, west of London Bridge, in which a man killed five people after driving into a crowd of pedestrians before stabbing a police officer in the grounds of parliament.

Several witnesses also reported hearing gunshots around London Bridge.

“We were in an Uber (taxi) going towards London Bridge and suddenly we saw people running. The Uber stopped, we asked people what was going on – people said there was shooting,” said Yoann Belmere, 40, a French banker living in London.

“Now the area is completely closed with police cars going one way and ambulances going the other,” he told Reuters.

The Manchester bombing on May 22 was the deadliest attack in Britain since July 2005, when four British Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people in coordinated attacks on London’s transport network.

Posted On Sunday, 04 June 2017 12:52 Written by

•Says President is recovering fast

First Lady Aisha Buhari sent some cheery news home yesterday from London about her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari: he will return soon.

And he’s recovering fast from his ailment.

But she wants Nigerians to keep praying for him.

Hajiya Aisha is currently in London to be with the President.

She gave the update on the President’s health in a message to the 23rd Annual Ramadan Lecture of Ansar-ud-deen Society of Nigeria (ADS) held in Abuja.

The First Lady, who left for London about five days ago, was represented at the lecture by her Senior Special Assistant on Administration, Dr. Hajo Sani.

“My husband is recovering very fast. And very soon, he will return to the country to resume his official duties,” she said.

“I thank Nigerians for their prayers for my husband. Please, do not relent in your prayers.”

The message sparked shouts of Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!! Allahu Akbar!!!(God is great) by the Muslim faithful.

She added:”The President will be back very soon.”

She said she was “hopeful of observing this year’s Eid-el-Kabir festival at the ADS Mosque in Maitama as she had been doing even before getting into office.”

The president returned to the United Kingdom early last month for a fresh round of treatment.

The president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in announcing his departure on his Twitter handle on May 7 had said: “PMB travels tonight for medical follow-up. Length of stay to be determined by London doctors. Govt to function normally under VP.

– Femi Adesina (@FemAdesina) May 7, 2017

In his sermon at yesterday’s lecture, the Chairman of ADS Northern States Council of Missioners, Sheik Muhydeen Ajani Bello asked a state governor and others wishing  Buhari dead to desist from such thought.

He said: “There is a governor going about wishing Buhari dead. Let us ask him: If Buhari dies, is he going to replace him?

“We need not wish our leaders dead. If we keep talking like this, it is not good. By the grace of God, the President will return very soon.”

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative Lasun Yusuf who also spoke at the event, singled out two of the achievements of the President.

He said: “The coming of President Buhari into power has succeeded in bringing sanity to our governance. If that is the only thing he has achieved, he has done well.

“When you mention Buhari, no matter how intelligent or crooked you are, you will shiver.

“Secondly, the President has also shown that government can be run in an open and transparent manner.”

He said Nigeria can get out of the economic woods through “long term investment with back up innovations.”

In his address, the National Vice President of ADS, Alhaji Ibrahim Adebayo Yusuf urged Muslims in leadership positions to protect public trust despite the economic recession.

He said:  “Public trust has two meanings-a general meaning and specific meaning-but we must jealously protect it.

“The general meaning has to do with all commands and prohibitions of Islam while specific meaning is everything that every individual is obliged to take care of, uphold, and fulfil, including protecting the rights of others.

“Let me as an individual say that, Allah in Quran 23:08 has admonished all believers to faithfully observe trust and covenants. Upholding trust in Islam is a virtue whether public or private.

“It is public knowledge that among the best virtues of our noble Prophet Muhammed are honesty integrity and upholding trust and covenants in his public and private life. So, as Muslims, we  have a good example to follow.”

Posted On Sunday, 04 June 2017 03:17 Written by

Kidnappers of six students Lagos State Model College, Igbonla in Epe yesterday resumed negotiations with affected parents, demanding N100million.

The kidnappers, it was gathered contacted two of the parents twice on Friday, insisting that they should approach the government for the amount demanded.

Yusuf Farouk, Ramon Isiaka, Pelumi Philips, Peter Jonas, Adebanjo George and Judah Agbaosi were whisked away from their hostels- Yellow and Green houses- on May 25, by gunmen clad in police uniform.

The kidnappers, who established contact with the parents on May 27, initially demanded N400million as ransom, asking the parents to approach Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for the money.

When the government wasn’t forthcoming, the kidnappers adopted selective negotiations with parents, demanding varying sum.

But since Monday, May 28, none of the parents have heard from the kidnappers save for yesterday’s resumed communication.

The parents, who said they had tried calling the number the kidnappers initially contacted them with to no avail, expressed worries at the state of the pupils.

However, the kidnappers contacted two of the parents twice yesterday, insisting that they were only interested in negotiating with the government.

A parent said: “We need help. We are begging the government to intervene in this matter. They contacted some parents this evening (Friday) and said they want us to tell the government to bring N100million. They said they were not interested in us because they know we cannot raise the money that it is the government they are interested in.

“Please, help us. We need help on this issue. We do not know what to do anymore. We have begged them to take the ransom down but they refused. How do we raise N100 million since the government has said it would not pay ransom? We are helpless.”

Posted On Saturday, 03 June 2017 14:22 Written by

The 36 governors have resolved to offset workers’ outstanding salaries and pensions in their states as soon as the next tranche of payment from the Paris-London Club loan refunds were made.

Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Zamfara, made this known in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

The statement by Mr Abulrazque Barkindo, Head of Media and Public Affairs, NGF Secretariat, said that the decision was reached by the governors after their meeting in Abuja on Thursday night.

The governors met in anticipation of the release of the money, which had been approved for payment by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.

Out of the N522.74 billion owed, N388.304 was paid to states in December, 2016.

Yari said that the governors were not oblivious of the hue and cry over non-payment of backlog of salaries and pensions, and the precarious predicament of the Nigerian workers.

He said that the governors deliberated on the matter and concluded that something immediate must be done to ameliorate workers’ plight by offsetting the outstanding pay and emoluments.

This, according to him, made the governors to resolve as a matter of urgency, to pay workers their due as soon as the half of the Paris Club refunds is made.

“We all agreed that a substantial amount from the next tranche of the Paris-London refunds be used in the settlement of workers salary and pension arrears,” Yari disclosed.

He added that the governors were also committed to the verification of the input of all the consultants, who claimed to have worked towards the harmonization of the refunds.

The claim, the governor said, was in regards of what was due to each state since 2005 when the demand for the refunds commenced.

“At the moment, there are litigations from more than 10 different consultants still agitating for settlement for their roles in the quest to have the refunds made to states. ‘’

He said a committee headed by Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State had been set up to provide solution to the demands by consultants on the refunds to states.

Members of the committee are governors of Bauchi, Sokoto, Plateau, Bayelsa, Rivers and Gombe.

He disclosed that another committee made up of the governors of Imo, Bayelsa, Abia, Ekiti, Kano, Nasarawa and Bauchi was also constituted to work for the “reconciliation’’ of the forum members.

This, according to Yari, is to enable the governors to work harmoniously in a manner that will transcend all political affiliations so that all governors will speak with one voice on issues of national importance.

“There is no how you will mention any political development in Nigeria without mentioning governors. Governors are a bloc and a key component of this democracy.

“Therefore, we have set up a seven-member committee to look into the development surrounding the unity of the forum and the development of the country.

“The idea is for governors to be speaking with one voice,” he said.

Posted On Saturday, 03 June 2017 02:53 Written by

There is no denying that we spend a large proportion of our lives at work, which is why our careers are so important to us. If you’re thinking about taking the next step in your professional career, now is the time to make a change and push yourself to achieve more.

However, with so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which direction is the best to take. Would simply reading a book help you to achieve greater success? Or would academic guidance add more value to your professional journey?

Returning to university is an excellent way to gain the skills and knowledge you need to move up the career ladder as it provides a managed journey through carefully curated content. Thanks to the advancement of online degrees, there’s also no need to quit your job to continue your studies, providing an accessible solution for the career-driven professional. In fact, millions of people around the world have already been jumping on this opportunity as the demand for online education continues.

Amongst our digital students is Tosan Ozoro, who studies the Online Masters of Public Administration at the University of Birmingham. Currently working as a Relationship Manager at Keystone Bank in Lagos, Tosan is using her degree to move into the public sector and make a difference to Nigerian society. After researching her options, she concluded that studying online was a feasible solution as she could continue to work whilst learning at a highly rated institution.

A course aligned to your career goals
With many online degrees to choose from, it’s important to undertake research to find a course which suits your needs and aligns with your career goals.

As a member of the Russell Group and world ‘top 100’ University (QS World University Rankings, 2017), the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, is committed to producing the very best research and innovative teaching experiences.

We offer three career-focused online degrees:

A course structured around you
Your location or professional situation won’t restrict you as there’s no need to relocate or pause your career to head to the UK. This allows you to make a difference to your surrounding economy.

For Online MBA student Patrick Gettleman, studying online was his only option: “With my job and career path, I travel for work almost on a weekly basis and could not be successful with a part-time program in person,” he explained. “I would simply miss way too many classes.

“I also liked the fact that there are live connect sessions 4 times per module. This helps to give the feel of connection to the courses that sometimes online education makes difficult to get. It doesn’t hurt that I have been able to join the connect sessions from 3 continents so far in my 6 months of study!”

Test and share your new knowledge immediately
Any skills and knowledge you acquire can be applied to your career in real time. You can also pass on this valuable knowledge to your colleagues, helping you stand out in the workplace.

Current Online MSc International Business student, Helena Feibert, explains the benefits:

“I have gained a deeper insight into many aspects of an international business and I have been able to not only apply theories in my work activities but also analyse past events and decisions to better understand the motivation behind them,” she said.

Throughout your studies, you’ll be interacting with students and lecturers from all over the world, from various professional backgrounds. It’s a great opportunity to gain a global perspective on challenges you’re facing at work.

Advance your career today
Learning to juggle personal, professional and educational commitments can sometimes be difficult, but your return on investment – your career enhancement – should pay dividends.  

You’ll receive plenty of support when you study online, just as you would if you were on-campus. Dr Michael Shulver, Director of Online Content at Birmingham Business School, explains: “As soon as students have accepted an offer – even before they join – they can talk online with someone from our Careers Team,” he said. “There’s direct support on, for example, resume preparation and interviews.”

What are you waiting for? Join online students across the globe by enrolling to study at the University of Birmingham. Applications for our next intake are open. For more information visit our webpages.


This article is sponsored content brought to you by the University of Birmingham.

Posted On Friday, 02 June 2017 11:08 Written by

•Fed Govt to invite boxer

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: The euphoria that greeted the victory of Anthony Olufemi Olaseni Joshua over Wladimir Klitschko in the world heavyweight title fight at Wembley Stadium, England continued yesterday in Sagamu, his Ogun State ancestral home. Large banners adorned the house of his great-grandfather, Prince Daniel Adebambo Joshua, at Ijoku in the heart of the city. There is a big picture of the boxer. Beside it are the British flag and the green-white-green Nigerian flag.

There were banners also at the Ita Oba  Park where a viewing centre, which had over 2000 fans, was put up for the Saturday night fight. Some residents, who saw one of our reporters taking photographs of the banner, were excited. They shouted: “World champion!”.

Anthony’s uncle, Adebambo Joshua, who spoke on behalf of the family at the Baba Josh Memorial Hall, said he was a bit nervous before the fight started because victory could have gone either way.
He said: “My heart was in my mouth throughout the fight, especially when he suffered a knock down in the sixth round. I was afraid he would not recover and we all prayed for his victory and when he eventually won, we were all excited.”

Adebambo recalled how the family and the fans at the viewing centre went wild in jubilation and partied all-night because a “son of the soil” had achieved a great feat.
“It was celebration galore after Anthony’s victory. We were in front of the king’s palace and celebrated the hard-earned victory over a worthy opponent, who had been a famous face in the world of boxing,” he said.
Victory, as they say, has many fathers, which may account for many trying to identify with the pugilist. However, Adebambo noted that they were not just identifying with the champion but have been backing him since he started his career as an amateur rank.

Adebambo said: “We have been supporting him and we will continue to do that. We have prepared for the fight and that is why the youth in conjunction with Yinka Mafe, a member of the Ogun State House Assembly put up the viewing centre.

To the Elepe of Epe, Oba Adewale Osiberu, who is superintending over Sagamu since the demise of the Akarigbo of Remo, Oba Michael Sonariwo, the victory is for all. He called on youths to emulate the feat.
“He is young and we pray that he will stay on top for a long time,” he said.
Oba Osiberu, who is related to Anthony’s mum, Yeta (Yetunde), promised that a facility would be converted into a gym where youths could practise the sport.

The Federal Government plans to invite Joshua to Nigeria

Information, Culture and Tourism Minister Lai Mohammed in a statement, said the government had congratulated the British professional boxer of Nigerian descent, for defeating Ukranian Wladimir Klitschko to become the unified World Heavyweight Champion.

Mohammed said Nigeria was proud to be associated with the champion. “My heart is in Nigeria, my heart is in Britain. I am a Nigerian man by blood, yes,” the minister quoted Joshua as saying in a recent interview.

He added that the boxer, in the interview, also listed the secret of his success as pounded yam, eba and egusi – all Nigerian cuisines.
The minister hailed Joshua for his humility, despite his success.

He also extolled his “undying spirit, coming off the canvas after he was knocked down by Klitschko in the sixth round to win by a technical knockout in the 11th round of their pulsating fight”.
Joshua, who made his professional debut in 2013, was born in Watford to a Nigerian mother and a British father of Nigerian and Irish descent.

Some of the early years of the 27-year-old champion were spent in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, before he returned to the UK halfway through year seven to join Kings Langley Secondary School.
Growing up on the Meriden Estate in Garston, Hertfordshire, Anthony was called ‘Femi’ by his friends and former teachers.

Posted On Wednesday, 03 May 2017 02:07 Written by

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM: Abuja – Prof Babalola Borishade, 71, former Nigerian minister of education is dead. He died in London on Wednesday after a brief illness. He was initially rushed to Reddington Hospital in Lagos, last week from where he was taken to London. The cause of death was lung and heart –related. Borishade was born in Usi- Ekiti on March 7, 1946 into the Ebi Ilotin family.

He served as a minister for four times, between 1999-2011. The electrical engineer was also a teacher and a political strategist. Between February 2001 and May 2003, he served as the Minister of Education. In recognition of his contributions to Education in Nigeria, Africa and the World at large, Borishade was elected the Vice- Chairman of the E9 Group of the United Nations, President of the UNESCO International Conference on Education, as well as Chairman Education for All (EFA) Forum of African Ministers of Education.

In 2004, Borishade was appointed as Minister of State, Power and Steel. He initiated the ‘Gas to Power Project (G2P), a World Bank sponsored project designed to ensure sustained gas development and availability for power production to meet Nigerian electricity demands. Between July 2005 and November 2006, Borishade was Minister of Aviation, during which a Civil Aviation Bill was passed to replace the 1964 Act and the direct flight between Nigeria and the United States of America was restored. His initiation of various reforms and development in the aviation sector resulted in Nigeria scoring 93 per cent in the ICAO Universal Audit which made Nigeria a benchmark to African Aviation Industry.

Posted On Thursday, 27 April 2017 02:23 Written by

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, tells TOBI AWORINDE his issues with the modus operandi of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war

You have consistently criticised the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government. Do you still doubt the anti-corruption war in view of recent developments?

Like millions of other Nigerians, you both overstate my intention and may have read too much into my text because this led the ignorant to conclude that I was against the war. I was, and still am, against the lack of vision, clarity, diagnosis, strategy and intellectual depth of what we call a fight against corruption. Conceptually, I was and am against the idea of the metaphor of war as a strategy because once we saw it as a war, the government believed it only needed to rally its army and then go to the war front. Sadly, even if we took that metaphor, we were unlikely to get the desired results because this was a war without timelines, without a proper understanding of the enemy, his strength and his landscape. The result is what we now see.

It is not enough to say we will fight the corrupt, especially when the President is still stuck in a mindset of his military days, which sees corruption as something that wicked and unpatriotic politicians and office holders are doing. Still, we believe that corruption is what the political class has done. Every day, the predicament of the government is a more visible and palpable illustration that we were right all along: an assembly led by the ruling party and the President cannot agree on the choice of the chairman (of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), the leader of this fight. What does this tell you? My contribution was made as a public intellectual, not a partisan (individual). What is more, even the President has a fair idea of where I stand on these issues and we agreed on that.

A common criticism of Buhari has been that members of his government are unaffected by the anti-corruption war, despite several strong allegations against some of them. What do you think?

The President’s wife and most of those close to him have made it clear that the President did not really know the team he assembled. Notwithstanding, it is actually not necessary for the president to appoint those he knew and it is impossible. However, given the nature of the tendencies that came together to win the elections, it is clear that, perhaps, consolidating the party, getting the buy-in of his team was important. They missed good opportunities of composing a song and rather concentrated their energies on the Peoples Democratic Party that had lost elections and was too wounded to hurt them.

The President assumed wrongly that his people necessarily were interested in a fight against corruption. After all, apart from the President and the Vice President’s mouths, where else do you hear so much talk about fighting corruption? This is Nigeria and this is Nigerian politics by Nigerians. Here, politics is a conveyor belt for opportunistic self-enrichment. Politicians might make some pretensions here and there, but the fact is that local government chairmen and (state) commissioners want to be governors; governors and ministers also want to be presidents. Servicing these ambitions require primitive accumulation and some of that is now playing out as you can see.

Are you now encouraged by the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayodele Oke?

Well, it is not a question of being encouraged. Let them have their day within the process and, hopefully, we shall know the truth, which, in turn, if really told, will set us free. As usual, people are ecstatic and showing this off as evidence of a renewed fight against corruption. As for me, I will wait and see.

Do you think the suspension is belated?

There is a time for everything. Justice has no clock.

Are there other people you would want the security and anti-corruption agencies to beam their searchlight on?

How do you want me to answer this question? Who am I to decide where the agency beams its searchlight? There are no sacred places, I assume.

How would you rate the performance of the EFCC so far?

I wish they were less preoccupied by the politics of the moment. On the whole, I believe that they will continue to do their best. However, I wish that there was less drama and theatre. I wish they would appreciate that it is better to take time, examine information and data, rather than rush to conclusions, and then face the kind of embarrassment about who owns what has been found.

Why do you think the EFCC is being dramatic?

The poor love drama, but drama is what it is; it entertains but does not resolve any problem. I recall one of my friend’s children who is a big man now. He was about two years old or so. I was in their house and playing with him when he saw a Maggi advertisement with a pot of delicious (-looking) and steaming soup. He left me and went to the television screen. By the time he got there, the advertisement had moved on and he broke into uncontrollable tears because he thought it was real soup. All these monies that our sensibilities are being assaulted with, what do they do to us? Are we supposed to salivate or what? We have been showing armed robbers on television for years. Has it reduced armed robbery?

Are you surprised that the EFCC has yet confirmed the identity of the owner of the apartment in Osborne Towers, where over N13bn cash was uncovered?

Exactly! That is what I am saying. How can you invite us for your wedding and then you turn around and say you do not know who the bride is? They have made themselves quite vulnerable in terms of what people will believe. People will get cynical and ask, ‘Was this planted or what?’ It is not professional at all. And, do we need to be assaulted with all these gory details? After all, from there, where does the money go to?

What do you make of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, laying claim to the seized N13bn cash?

Is there not something like burden of proof, as the lawyers say? This is what makes all these so sad, that our nation is being presented in this light. Where in the world can you say that amount of money is lying around and its ownership is in dispute?

Do you agree with the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) that Wike should prove ownership to be able to claim the money?

It only makes common sense.

You accused the EFCC of showing the country in a negative light. Shouldn’t looters be the ones to blame for the bad image of Nigeria?

I am not sure the word accusation is correct. My argument is still that there are many ways of dealing with these issues. Of course, there is no doubt that what we are witnessing is lamentable, but surely, we must not forget that it has long-term implications and effects on our national integrity, given the fact that we are already dealing with a negative image problem. I do not deny that those criminals have done us damage, but to merely show us all these when the search has not been concluded does not give us a real picture of the story, especially as it is still rolling.

Are you happy with the whistle-blower policy?

It is a great step and definitely one of the greatest incentives in the issues of corruption. It is yielding results and it is also one of the reasons I said we needed to be more imaginative and innovative in the issues of corruption. The challenge is to sustain it before it deteriorates to something completely different, given the nature of our society.

Do you think the anti-corruption agency would record the level of success it has recorded in the last few months without the whistle-blower policy?

There is no perfect system. Perhaps other innovations could have equally yielded results, but the overall issue should be to make us all whistle-blowers, as opposed to merely feeding on the selfish motivations of individuals. Had the policy not been self-serving, would these individuals not have kept quiet? The ultimate goal is to make us all whistle-blowers for justice and equity, and that is why I keep saying that how the government deploys the proceeds of the corruption fight will determine how all citizens buy in. We must all see that we have much to gain if we succeed. So far, citizens are made to think it is only a business of government and that some of the money will equally be stolen again.

What other policies do you think will further the Federal Government’s anti-corruption agenda? 

No policy is perfect. I would have loved to see government involve the academic community, especially those in the social sciences. We need the other arm of science that will ultimately move us away from this primitive way of moving so much money around in bags and so openly. It is scientific innovations that bring out change, not mere moral persuasion and open threats especially against the backdrop of weak institutions.

The Federal Government has not been able to secure a conviction of any of its corruption-related prosecutions. Do you think it is doing something wrong?

Again, this was why some of us felt that we needed to do more than merely focusing on law as a way out. I believe that if the security agencies and the banks are serious, it would not have been impossible to confront citizens with the huge resources that are managed through the banking system. I warned that the corrupt have better lawyers and have the capacity to corrupt the system. This is what we mean when we speak of the corruption in the judiciary. It is also a measure of the quality of legal advice and services available to the government and its agencies.

Do you think the failure to secure a conviction is tied to the alleged corruption in the judiciary?

I feel that the president could have engaged the judiciary in a more collaborative manner. He has one of the finest legal minds in the country as his deputy. I believe that even before launching this fight, he could have taken the judiciary into confidence, appreciating their independence, but enlisting their support and asking for suggestions, while respecting them as an independent arm of government. There is corruption everywhere in this country. Everywhere! There are no sacred grounds and this is because of the malfunctioning nature of the state.

The bureaucracy, the conveyor belt of public services, is immersed in corruption and an awareness of all these would have ensured that the president appreciates that this is not a war he can win on his own. This is how we got to be where we are. The hero worshippers created the impression that the president would fight corruption based on his credentials and this may have led to the feeling of alienation by other important arms like the judiciary. They have not been accorded their respect and they should be.

Do you agree with the argument that the legislature is using strong-arm tactics against the executive, especially in the light of corruption cases bedevilling several federal lawmakers?

I am not sure I know what you mean by ‘strong-arm.’ The President of the Senate and the Speaker are not controlling any agencies such as the army and police, so which ‘strong-arm’ can they use against the Commander-in-Chief? Again, both the Senate President and the Speaker are All Progressives Congress members. How is it that they have not been able to deal with all these issues through the means of simple breakfasts and so on? This war should be theirs as a party, but sadly, there is no unanimity in orientation; everyone is fighting (in) their corner to defend what they have.

It has been observed that the EFCC’s approach seems to be: arrest suspects, recover loot, publicise efforts, prosecute and search for incriminating evidence. Is that the way you see it too? 

You said so, not me. I am sure you know better than me.

It would appear that the EFCC’s effectiveness is tied to the president’s desire or political will to fight corruption. What do you think?

Again, I do not understand why they would make an individual the issue and it is also a measure of the lack of behind-the-scenes diplomacy that this government does not seem to appreciate. It is a great pity and it accounts for why so many simple things continue to fester for a long time.

Do you agree with former President Olusegun Obasanjo on his view on corruption in churches?

You are a journalist and you don’t need (ex-) President (Olusegun) Obasanjo to remind you of corruption in the churches. Are some church men and women not in prison today? Have you not followed stories of criminals who masquerade as pastors and so on? Corruption is everywhere and that is why I think it is a great mistake that we do not have a holistic conversation but merely an ad hoc obsession, defining corruption as what politicians and people in public life do. The religious institutions are made up of Nigerians, not angels and no one should be allowed to use an institution to cover themselves and that is why Nigerians are crying for the removal of the immunity clause in our constitution, especially as too many people are using this as a cover.

How do you feel about the payment of N42m by a man as tithe to a church in Benue State?

This is chicken feed compared to what contractors and businessmen and women are paying to corrupt church men, who are largely partners in crime and claim to be praying for rich people. So, it is important to check and cross-check your facts. You should educate us by telling us what really happened now that the right hand knows what the left is doing.

Do you think concerned religious bodies, like the Christian Association of Nigeria, should swoop in?

Swoop in to take away the money or to ask for its own tithe? Does CAN have an EFCC wing?

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, reportedly said he offered money to herdsmen to stop the killings in Southern Kaduna. What is your reaction to this?

Well, if it is true that the governor paid money to those whose family members were purported to have been killed in 2011, and if the decision was to stop them from killing our people, then someone should explain to our people why they took the money and the killings of our people has not stopped. Surely, the truth of the story is trapped in the cracks, but God knows.

Some believe the unrest in Kaduna should not be linked to religion. What do you think?

The crisis in Southern Kaduna is (about) religion only to the extent that there are those who say that there is no difference between religion and politics. Even if it were about religion, does being of a particular religion necessarily diminish my humanity? The crisis in Southern Kaduna is the unravelling of a structure of oppression and exclusion, the seeds of which were sown even before independence. It is true we have always lived in peace, but this peace is not because of what successive governments in Kaduna have done, but largely in spite of what they have failed to do.

I am convinced that for the people of Southern Kaduna, it is a new dawn. Despite deliberate policies of exclusion, they have broken their nails to climb out of the dark tunnel of exclusion constructed by the invidious members of the Kaduna mafia. Change began to come only during the administration of Obasanjo. I believe there is a future to hope for and we must not surrender to despair. If anyone thinks that terror, intimidation and blackmail are substitutes for justice, they should do well to read history and read it properly. For now, Southern Kaduna is a theatre for the politics of both today and the future of Nigeria.

Posted On Sunday, 23 April 2017 17:13 Written by
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