Sunday, 21 January 2018
Items filtered by date: June 2017

Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s refusal to constitute a cabinet for a long time in his state of Osun may have been quite controversial but the lessons for democracy and governance should not be missed now that the cabinet has been constituted.

Consistently, the motive of the governor had been that the state’s finances could not cope with payment of salaries of commissioners and other political appointees. The governor was even dragged to court by the opposition elements and civil society organisations. And even not too long ago, a court summoned the state chief executive officer for explanation on why he had been adamant about the composition of the state executive council, a constitutional provision in Sections 192 & 193 of the 1999 constitution as amended.

In the absence of an executive council, the governor appointed some individuals called coordinating directors, without recourse to the state assembly. The coordinating directors played some roles similar to those of commissioners, and worked with permanent secretaries.

And consequent upon this unusual political action, an Osun State High Court in Osogbo had in October last year ordered Aregbesola to defend himself on why he failed to constitute his cabinet since his inauguration on November 27, 2014, following a case filed by one Kanmi Ajibola.

Besides, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state had described Aregbesola’s refusal to appoint commissioners more than two years into his administration as “barbaric, illegal, unacceptable and democratically faulty.”

The opposition party even faulted the Federal Government, which it accused of granting Osun bailout funds without state executive council resolution on the matter as a necessary condition for the release of such funds.

Aregbesola had, of course, responded that his government had instituted the most transparent financial system in the allocation of resources that accrued to the state, insisting that he could not pay salaries of commissioners and other political office holders and that was why he chose not to constitute the cabinet.

He said Osun pioneered the constitution of a committee saddled with the responsibility of assisting the state government in the allocation of state revenue to ensure prompt payment of salaries as well as adequate running of government.

That committee, in truth, is headed by a veteran Labour leader, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu.Other members include the chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress in Osun; Chairman of Joint Negotiating Council, Chairman of Osun’s Nigerian Union of Teachers and government representatives, who are not political appointees.

Certainly, the world and indeed the people of Nigeria, now in need of purposeful leadership, should note that the development in Osun State should not be trivialised.

There is no doubt that allowing a state to be run without a state executive council for 33 months was unusual. But were Aregbesola’s decision to fit into the mould of an error, then he would have erred in the direction of prudence. Interestingly, he did not even act in error.

There is a marked difference between the federal and state governments. It is curious that political leaders have not taken note, and even Aregbesola might not have taken note but for financial adversity that has led to its discovery – that while it is compulsory for the president to constitute a cabinet and appoint ministers from each of the 36 states of the federation, it is, in fact, not mandatory for the states, according to the constitution as amended.

Also, Section 14 (3) and 147 of the 1999 Constitution provides that the President shall “appoint at least one minister from each state, who shall be an indigene of such state,” a principle which may also be applied in part to the states, but the law did not specify a time frame for such appointment.

While the president and the governors exercise the executive powers vested in them in Section 5 of Constitution through delegation to the ministers and other appointees, a governor has not breached any law by not appointing commissioners as members of the state executive Council. This is the evidence: Section 192 (1) provides:

There shall be such offices of Commissioners of the Government of a State as may be established by the Governor of the State. Section 193 91) provides too: The Governor of a state, may in his discretion, assign to the Deputy Governor or any Commissioner of the Government of the State responsibility for any business of the Government of that State, including the administration of any department of Government.

There is ample evidence in the circumstances that while the state required a whopping N1.7 billion for just monthly salaries, not to talk of other duties to the people, it often received much less than that from the federation account. This means that paying even the civil servants became an uphill task, let alone political office holders who are often parasites and could constitute political risks if they were owed.

What is more, the executive council cannot be more important than the people’s council. Office holders cannot be more important than the people whose votes and sweat sent them into such offices and for whom the offices are held in trust. The people in civil-service states like Osun especially need to be taken care of with regular payment of civil servants’ salaries. Traders and other service providers in such states depend on regular payment of salaries of their regular customers. That is how the state economy works. And that, appropriately, was Aregbesola’s priority.

So, at this critical time when most citizens are worried about prudence in the context of dwindling revenues at all levels, it is quite important for political leaders at all levels to learn from Osun and consider cutting the cost of governance as a fundamental objective in a state’s policy thrust. This is one relevant take-away from the Aregbesola example. Indeed, the courage to refuse to dispense political patronage, something of a political suicide by a politician should be commended. Nigerians cannot in one breath seek prudence in governance and turn around to oppose or blame those who practise it.

Now, it has been established that state governors can actually begin the practice of allocating resources according to available means and contributions to the purse. It has also been established here that giving political appointments to political jobbers and campaigners in the state is not synonymous with jobs creation for the people. It is also clear from what can be termed the Aregbesola School of Governance that governors are not under compulsion to constitute the state executive councils. Or, better still, governors can establish a manageable cabinet that will still be representative as long as service delivery to the people is the ultimate goal.

While the gesture of the former state officers who worked quietly as volunteers to keep Osun government running in the absence of the cabinet is commendable, it is important to state too that Nigeria’s democracy will be further enriched in this regard, in the true spirit of service, if the nation wakes up to hear that the commissioners and advisers just appointed are working sacrificially (as volunteers) in the interest of the state.

The objective of political appointments, in the main, is to enable the head of the executive branch of government appoint some citizens to assist him in the onerous task of governance. And so it is otiose and wasteful for governors to appoint commissioners and advisers that the states’ revenue profile cannot sustain. This is a great lesson from Osun. Clothes must of necessity be cut according to available cloth, lest a regime of debt, to lenders, to the state’s workers and political office holders and, indeed, to the people that constitute the sovereignty, is installed.

Aregbesola may not have intended it but with his creativity occasioned by economic adversity, he has opened all eyes further to a fact: Service to the people must take precedence over political correctness. That, certainly, is not a bad thing.T

Published in Parliament

Filming of the sequel to Nollywood’s highest-grossing movie, The Wedding Party, in Dubai has ended and the movie is now in post-production. This was revealed by producers of the film in an email.

The Wedding Party 2: Destination Dubai, will have its Lagos premiere on December 10, with cinema release in time for the Christmas holidays.

“It has been a remarkable opportunity to film in Dubai,” said director of the movie, Niyi Akinmolayan.

“It was magical and the team was awesome. We are thrilled to create something special for viewers and we are sure that they will be impressed with the movie.”

What is left now is editing the footage, sound and special effects, before the film can be screened at its first festival.

Thanks to Dubai Tourism and a host of local partners, The Wedding Party 2 promises a visual delight of exotic locations of the ‘Jewel of the East.’

With the cast and crew at attractions, such as IMG Worlds of Adventure, Dubai Mall and desert-based restaurant Qasr Al Sultan, Atlantis The Palm, Palazzo Versace, Armani and Ghaya Grand hotels, Mo Abudu, Executive Producer for EbonyLife Films, was also delighted about being in Dubai.

“We had a really tough schedule, but we are happy to be moving to the next phase,” said Abudu.

“We are really grateful for the support we received from Dubai Tourism and everyone else in the destination who worked so hard to make it possible.”

The Wedding Party 2: Destination Dubai is a production of The ELFIKE Collective (EbonyLife Films, FilmOne Distribution, Inkblot Productions and Koga Studios).`

Published in Entertainment

MIYONSE Oluwaseyi, popularly called Miyonse, former Big Brother Naija (#BBNaija) 2017 contestant says plans are underway for his new television show with focus on cooking and confectionery.

He said this in an exclusive interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.

“My TV show is coming out soon; it is a cooking show; however, I would not like to disclose more because the people I signed the contract with have not released an official statement.

“Also I do not like to make noise about my works before they come out. I will like them to speak for themselves,’’ he said.

Miyonse said, “I am not an artiste, so you may not see me at some events; I am a chef; I cook for a living; I have signed two deals with two restaurants to cook with them every month.

“Aside these, I have a couple of other ideas that am working on. I believe everything will work together for good and by the grace of God, the sky will be a stepping stone.

“However, I feel this is not the right time to release all these information. It is not something I want to release in haste.’’

Miyonse, who is also a trained chef, said he was currently consulting in a new Culinary School based in Ilorin, Kwara.

The 25-year old graduate of mass communication from University of Lagos explained that the reason he has not been seen at some of the events along with his fellow housemates was because “I am a chef’’.

Miyonse, self-acclaimed lover of good music and beauty, was evicted after spending just two weeks in the Big Brother house.

His short stay in the house was eventful; he was romantically involved with fellow housemate Tokunbo Idowu also known as ‘Tboss’ who referred to him as “my boo’’.

He is currently the pioneer ambassador for Pay Port’s, an online food store.

Published in Arts & Culture

After his victory over Wladimir Klitschko in their heavyweight bout at Wembley Stadium in April, Nigerian-born English boxer, Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua was asked why the British usually considered successful British-Nigerians to be British, and British-Nigerians who commit crimes to be Nigerians? He responded thus: “Let’s focus on the success. Let’s stop committing the crime.”

Joshua, a former British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion, had a long list of encounters with the British justice system before his moment of celebration. In 2009, he was sent to Reading Prison for fighting. In 2011, he was charged with possession of a class B drug when police pulled him over in Colindale, North London, and found eight ounces of herbal cannabis hidden in his sports bag. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a 12-month community order and 100 hours community service. He was also suspended from his GB boxing squad.

But the pugilist, who was a bricklayer before he took up boxing, was able to weather the storm, as he was later awarded the Knight Commander, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his significant achievement for the United Kingdom.

His victory over Klitschko in front of 90,000 British fans and millions of Nigerians watching on television around the world made Joshua the second pugilist beside Joe Frazier to win a world heavyweight title at the same time that he is the reigning Olympic champion.

While federal lawmakers, including Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, are still thinking of inviting Joshua to Aso Villa for a hero’s welcome and making him a brand ambassador for Nigeria, six Nigerians, this time in the field of soccer, played into reckoning last weekend, helping England to win the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea.

The 1-0 victory of the Young Lions of England over Venezuela with five players of Nigerian origin on the pitch was England’s first major international football silverware since the 1966 World Cup.

Sheyi Ojo, Fikayo Tomori, Dominic Solanke, Ademola Lookman, Joshua Onomah all featured in the final for England, while Ovie Ejaria, the sixth player of Nigerian origin in the squad, was also part of the team, though he did not play.

Former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu says the fact that the boys helped England to win the World Cup does not make them British citizens.Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Adelabu, a Sport Scientist, said: “I prefer to call them Nigerians because they were not trained in Nigeria as players, they are simply born by Nigerians. It was amazing the number of these players in the England’s squad.”

Speaking further, the former IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan winger said: “I took time to watch the game and the demeanours of these players throughout the championship and wondered when we will get to the level of training players to know what they have and how to use it intelligently as occasions demand.

“It is difficult for the England team to lie about their ages. Hence, it is possible for us to raise an under 20 team without lying about their ages, if we have intelligent coaches with integrity and administration that knows the essence of developmental strategy in football.

“The important thing now is to monitor these players by analysing their potential to see how relevant they will be with respect to the kind of national team we want to build in the future. I love them for their confidence and the ability to fit perfectly into the team during substitution. All of them moved the ball well on motion, especially Ademola Lookman, who was tried to force himself into the opponents’ sacred area. He will fit perfectly with the way we play (Nigerian made football) by taking on the defenders till they run out of breathe.

“Even though they were trained in England, I could see the characteristics of players like Henry Nwosu, Franklin Howard, Friday Elaho and a host of others in them (blood is thicker than water). It is good for us, but we need great minds to manage these players when they come home,” Adelabu stated.

Among the six players with Nigerian blood, four of them Fikori Tomori, Dominic Solanke, Ademola Lookman and Josh Onomah started the final game against Venezuela on Sunday. Liverpool pair Ovie Ejaria and Seyi Ojo started from the bench but the latter eventually came on in the course of the game. The victory was England’s first-ever world title at that level.

Apart from helping England win the World Cup title, Dominic Solanke, who is moving to Liverpool from Chelsea, won the Golden Ball award of the tournament, an award previously won by Diego Maradona, Adriano, Lionel Messi, Aguero and Paul Pogba.

Who are these players?
Ademola Lookman is a 19-year-old who plays as a forward for Everton. He was born in Wandsworth, London to parents of Nigerian descent.He represented England U-19s at the 2016 European U-19 Championships. He has turned down the opportunity to represent Nigeria, choosing to pledge his allegiance to England.

Oluwaseyi Babajide “Sheyi” Ojo was born 19 June 1997. He is an English footballer who plays for Premier League club Liverpool as a winger. Ojo joined Liverpool as a 14-year-old and came through their academy. He spent time on loan with Championship clubs Wigan Athletic and Wolverhampton Wanderers before making his competitive debut for Liverpool in January 2016. Ojo has represented England at U-16, U-17, U-18 and U-19 levels.

Ovie Ejaria is a midfielder who plays for Liverpool. Born to Nigerian parents, the 19-year-old trained with the Nigeria U-17s team in 2013.
Although he committed to Nigeria, he accepted a call-up to the England U-20 team in September 2016.

Dominic Solanke, the 19-year-old, who is moving to Liverpool from Chelsea, has represented England at the U-17 and U-19 levels. In May 2014, Solanke was part of the England squad that won the UEFA European U-17 Championship. He was the tournament’s joint top scorer with four goals in four appearances.He has even trained with the England senior team. He is also eligible to play for Nigeria.

Fikayo Tomori was born to Nigerian parents in Canada, but grew up in England, making him eligible to play for the three countries.
He started off playing for the Canada U-20 before he was called up for the England U-19.
He is 19.

Joshua Onomah: Though born to Nigerian parents, Joshua Onomah has represented England from the U-16s to U-20s.
The 20-year-old plays for Tottenham.
Apart from the six young Lions, there are other promising Nigerians with England nationality waiting to be approached by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).They include Jonathan Chiedozie Obika, a product of the Tottenham Hotspur youth setting, who played for English League One side, Sheffield United as a striker. He grew in Edmonton, London and has played for the English U-19 and U-20 teams. He is yet to play for the English senior team, but the striker is not considering playing for Nigeria his native country.

There is also Wilfred Oluwafemi Onyedinma, a Nigeria-born professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Millwall. Onyedinma made his senior debut for Millwall on 4 January 2014 in the FA Cup against Southend United.The player is yet to feature for England at any international level, but carries the English passport and nationality.

Dominic Iorfa Jr. is the son of a former Nigerian international, Dominic Iorfa. He is an English footballer who plays as a defender for Wolverhampton Wanderers, an English Championship side. He was part of the youth system at Southend United before joining the academy of Wolverhampton Wanderers at the age of 15. He is 20-year-old and has played for the English U-18, U-19 and U-20 teams respectively. He is yet to decide whether to play for Nigeria in future.

There is also Samuel Oluwaseyi ‘Sammy’ Ameobi, who joined Nigeria’s U-20 squad training in Turkey ahead of the 2011 African Youth Championship. He appeared in two friendly games for the Nigeria U-20 team against Saudi Arabia and Egypt. However, in November 2011, he was called up to the England U-21 squad for matches against Iceland and Belgium. Even though he claims English nationality at the moment, he is said to be considering change of his nationality to play for Nigeria in future like elder brother, Shola Ameobi did. He currently plays for Cardiff City in the English Championship.

Abdul-Yussuf Adedeji Adeniyi Oshilaja was born in Bermondsey, England. He joined Cardiff City as a 16-year-old, progressing through the academy to sign his first professional contract in April 2012. The defender plays for Gillingham FC, an English League One side.

Moses Adeshina Ayoola Junior Odubajo is an English professional footballer of Nigerian heritage, who plays as a right winger or right back for Hull City. He has also represented England at U-20 level. It was reported in December 2014 that Odubajo had been invited to a training camp with the Nigeria U-23 squad, which he did not attend. He received his first call into the England U-20 squad for friendly matches against Mexico and the United States in March 2015, and he started in both matches. He was called into the U-20 squad for the 2015 Toulon Tournament and played in four of England’s five matches.

There is also Chuba Amechi Akpom, an English professional footballer who plays as a striker for Hull City, on loan from Arsenal. He has represented England at youth international levels. He has not fully make up his mind.

Reece Wabara is an English footballer that plays as a defender for Barnsley. He is eligible to represent both England and Nigeria as he has a Nigerian grandfather, but chose to represent England international as the country of his birth at youth level. In May 2008, Wabara was called up by England U-17. He has played for England U-19 and U-20 teams as well. The defender has not really made up his mind yet on Nigeria.

Karl Anthony Uchechukwu ‘Uche’ Ikpeazu, was born in Harrow, London to Nigerian parents, before joining Reading Academy in late 2010. The forward plays for Port Vale, and is yet to play for England, which is a good opportunity for Nigeria to explore.

Published in Headliners

*Ag. President meets North’s leaders

*Okorocha slams Biafra agitators

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday read the riot act to purveyors of hate speeches, saying they won’t be allowed to destabilise the country.

The Federal Government, he said, would ensure the country’s unity, adding that nobody would be allowed to get away with seditious speeches.

“As a government, we are determined to ensure the unity of the country along the lines of our constitution and I want to say that hate and divisive speeches or divisive behaviour where it is illegal will be met with the full force of the law,” the Acting President said at a meeting with some elders from the North at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Some members of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), among other groups, were at the meeting.

It was the first in the series of meetings with leaders from the six geo-political zones over the brewing discontent between the North and the Southeast.

Last week, the Coalition of Northern Youths (CNY) gave easterners in the North 90 days to quit.

The ultimatum followed the May 30 sit-at-home observed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the east to mark the 50th anniversary of Biafra.

Also yesterday, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha described as nonsensical agitations for Biafra.

Osinbajo  said those pushing for disintegration by ordering other Nigerians in their domains to quit would face the law.

The government, he said, would not fold its arms and allow peace and order to be disrupted in any part of the country.

The Acting President said: “Every form of violence, every form of hate speech, any stone that is thrown in the market place will hit targets that are going to be deadly. So I need us to be fully conscious of that and the Nigerian people must be made to be fully conscious of that so that we do not create a crisis that is not intended.

“As part of living together I know that misunderstandings and frustrations will always arise and people will always want to get the best part of the deal but we must be careful to recognise that we can only begin to talk about any part of anything if we are together in peace.

“These days, wars do not end and I am sure that those who have seen or experienced war in any shape or form will not wish it on their worst enemies.

“This is not a time to retreat behind ethnic lines, moments like this are not for isolating ourselves, I want to urge all of us here and the entire Nigerian populace to come together and work together.”

He added: “And I want to ensure that there is no doubt at all that it is the resolve of the government that none will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause sedition or that can cause violence especially because when we make these kinds of pronouncement and do things that can cause violence or destruction of lives and property we are no longer in control. Those who make those speeches are no longer in control.

So, I want to emphasise that government will take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or disrupt the peace of this country. And that is very important because you cannot control violence once it begins.”

At the meeting were ACF leader Ibrahim Coomassie, NEF leader Prof Ango Abdullahi, who gave his backing to the Arewa youths’ threat,   former Sokoto State Governor  Aliyu Wamakko, former Plateau State Deputy Governor Pauline Tallen,  Second Republic Minister and Benue State elder  Dr. Paul Unongo, Leadership publisher Sam Ndah-Isaiah, Liberty Radio/Television Chairman Tijani Ramalan and Editor-in-Chief of Daily Trust Dan Ali, among others.

The acting President was supported by the Senate President Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olanishakin.

Today, Osinbajo will meet with leaders from the southeast; the region’s traditional rulers will take their turn on Friday. On Sunday, the acting president will meet with traditional rulers from the North.

Published in Business and Economy

ADAMANT and resolute, the Biafra State agitators celebrated the 50th anniversary of their quest for independence and it seems they are not giving up on their call. They are not deterred despite the Federal Government’s use of force, which has either injured, maimed or killed several of the protesters who see themselves as Biafrans rather than Nigerians and who believe the cause of the Late Odimegwu Ojukwu is a business they must successfully finish. Despite the high-handedness of the Federal Government towards bringing normalcy to the SouthEast region, the agitators remain undaunted as they continue campaigning and fighting for that which they claim Nigeria owes them. In some cities in the region such as the economic centres, Onitsha and Aba, security agencies often clash with the unarmed civilians, leading to loss of lives and properties. In November 2016, Amnesty International accused Nigerian security forces of killing at least 150 peaceful Biafran  advocates. That was apart from the molestation, intimidation and humiliation of the secessionists which occur whenever the military uses live ammunition to disperse the protesters.

Some factors contribute to the rise in the clamour for the independence of the Republic of Biafra. First, the campaigns on social media are enormous and really trending. Pieces of information are shared online and blogs with the objective of projecting the Republic of Biafra. More sympathisers and supporters are joining the call for secession. Most of the online activities poison minds about the ruthlessness of the Federal Government and Nigeria as a whole. Hence, hatred is created as the agitation and protests soar. The Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Comrade Uchenna Madu-led Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) constitute another factor. These two secessionist groups successfully ordered a Biafra sit-at-home and total shutdown in South-East to mark the anniversary. The people would rather listen to the two movements. The success recorded in the five states of the region and some cities (Port Harcourt, Asaba and Bayelsa) in the Niger Delta region apparently shows that Biafra lives. The compliance and celebration of the fallen heroes and heroines were celebrated across the globe by the adherents of the Republic of Biafra.

The Federal Government thinks that the protesters can be silenced easily. The political leaders in the region overtly throw their weight behind the Federal Government. The  South-East Peoples Assembly (SEPA) has asked the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to revoke the IPOB leader’s bail. In 2015, Ohaneze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio–cultural organisation disowned and dissociated itself from the activities of the Biafra agitators. The Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, and some other political leaders in the region usually lash and condemn the agitation and the movements just to assure the Federal Government that all is well. It thinks the condemnation can dissuade the Biafrans from pursuing further their goals.

The present Niger Delta region was part of the then Biafra. Luckily enough for the the region, it is blessed with oil, which is the backbone to the economy of the country. When force failed to curb the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) and others like the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the Federal Government employed dialogue and negotiation which produced the Amnesty Programme for the militants. But what does the Igbo nation possess to coax the national government to negotiate with it? It actually has what the nation needs the most, unity, though the Federal Government can only profess the essence of national unity with little meaningful efforts to achieve such. Yet the fragile unity is at stake.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK has been carrying arms and ammunition against the Turkish government since 1984. The secessionist group has been listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the USA and European Union. Yet it ceaselessly bombs, attacks and kills military personnel and civilians. The issue is not peculiar to Nigeria.  The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (FARC) resisted all military pressure of Colombia till late last year. The IPOB and MASSOB limit their activities to peaceful protests and demonstrations. They are yet to be taking up arms and ammunition against the Federal Government. Frustration and more intimidation can move the agitators to take up arms against the forces. And a full-scale violence will become indispensable. So, a quick, peaceful resolution is still possible.

The Federal Government, of course, can apply one of the methods being used by the protesters and the two movements to showcase their pursuit. Such a campaign will be run against those of the Biafran agitators. It will certainly work to some extent so long as it reaches every nook and cranny of Nigeria. The awareness to be carried out by the government should specifically target those yearning for independence. It is really more effective than the condemned means the government is using. The Ministry of Information is readily available to carry out this task by collaborating with the state-run radio and television stations in the South-East region.

Granting Nnamdi Kanu bail is not a mistake. It should rather be considered as a step towards settling the half-a-decade-old crisis. Negotiation is a viable and credible means of calming the nerves and settling the rising dust. Though the region may not have what will make it qualify for this as it is in Niger Delta area, being an integral part of Nigeria is enough to call the demonstrators to the round-table. The IPOB and MASSOB are the major groups that voice the interest of the Igbo. Involving political jobbers who can only deceive the government will only rekindle the protest. Besides, Governor Richard Okorocha’s plea to the traders fell on deaf ears. The two movements have a structure each, and the leaders of these groups can be summoned and consulted. They understand the aggrieved Igbo very well. And force can only aggravate the tension and crisis.

Northern Nigeria is afraid of restructuring. The South-West, South-South and South-East have shown their readiness for the restructuring of Nigeria. Prominent Northerners like the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, too, believe that a way forward in the country is restructuring. The Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari should check the potency of this suggestion for laying to rest the burning secession issue the country is confronting.

  • Faboade writes in from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State
Published in Parliament

THE Senate, on Tuesday, gave the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) seven days to recover money collected by banks on behalf of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) but not remitted to it.

The order was given by the Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff at an investigative meeting with the CBN, Ministry of Finance, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), commercial banks and other stakeholders.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who announced the ultimatum at the meeting, said the Senate would involve the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should the CBN fail to recover the money.

According to him, of the over N30 trillion being investigated by the committee, more than N536 billion was terminated at the various banks but not remitted to CBN.

“There are various infractions regarding import and export duties and we have carried out detailed investigation into the matter.

“Today, we will address the non-remittance of revenue collected on behalf of Customs.

“The only bank that is free of this infraction is Zenith Bank. We must recover what we are able to, and, moving forward, we must stop this infraction that is affecting our economy negatively,” he said.

Uzodinma decried the development, saying it was worrisome and had affected the Naira adversely.

He said it was embarrassing for the Naira to exchange for almost N400 to a dollar.

He gave the banks two weeks to clarify infractions relating to utilised and un-utilised Form MS and Simple Goods Declaration (SGD), and others, including abandoned assessment of Customs Duties and foreign exchange allocation manipulation.

On infractions regarding goods destined for free trade zones, Uzodinma said imported goods flooded the market, competing with local products.

On ways to stop multiple registration of Tax Identification Number (TIN) by importers, he called for synergy among the FIRS, CAC and Customs.

Published in Headliners

Anthony Joshua (right) lands a right hook on Wladmir Klitchsko during their first World Heavyweight Boxing title fight in Wembley, London. Promoter Eddie Hearn says the rematch may hold in Nigeria…later this year.

Anthony Joshua’s boxing promoter, Eddie Hearn has said that the 27-year-old is open to the idea of fighting in Nigeria, reports Speaking to iFL TV, Hearn said: “I think Nigeria is probably one of the front-runners.

“People have this perception that Nigeria is a place that makes fire by rubbing twigs together. It’s a very powerful economy with a huge middle-class sector and actually it’s a country that has a number of major events already – particularly pop music concerts.

“The infrastructure is there. Obviously it’s difficult for us because there’s never been a major fight before – but that’s challenging. I like that.” AJ has hinted that he would be open to fighting in Nigeria, especially as he spent some time there as a child.

The heavyweight boxer also has a tattoo of the country on his arm and believes that it makes people relate to him. “When you are in sport you become a representation of people.

“I’ve got it [an outline of Nigeria] tattooed on my arm, so people can relate to me. I don’t know if [a fight there] will happen.” If, and at the moment it’s a BIG if, Joshua/Klitschko does take place in Africa, it would echo another mega fight that happened on the night of October 30, 1974, the iconic Rumble in the Jungle bout between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali.

Widely regarded to be “arguably the greatest sporting event of the 20th century” Foreman/Ali took place in Kinshasa, Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and pitted former heavyweight champ Ali against George Foreman.

At the time, Zaire was ruled by Joseph-Désiré Mobuto, a dictator who wanted to project to the world that the land-locked African country was a forward looking state and not the vicious and greedy dictatorship it actually was.

Mobuto was not pleased when Muhammad Ali decided to tell heavyweight champ Foreman that “My African brothers is going to boil you in the pot.”

Not sure that’s the image Mobuto was aiming for when he allowed the fight to take place, but there you go. The fight was the introduction of a new tactic by Ali, the iconic ‘rope a dope’ for which he is still remembered.

After taking a hell of a beating throughout the bout, Ali decided to go on the offensive once the giant Foreman had tired himself out, and then in a flurry of punches, sent ‘Big George’ to the canvas.

If Joshua-Klitschko do go to Africa and the bout is anywhere near as action packed as Zaire 1974, then Hearn is on to a winner.

Published in Headliners

A watershed in transforming the workings of government was reached on Thursday, May 18, 2017, when the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, signed three executive orders with the combined aim of promoting the ease of doing business. The executive orders, among others, direct the ports to be operational round the clock, promote transparency in the conduct of government business, require the government to prioritise locally- made goods and services in government procurements, and also, insist on the timely submission of annual budget estimates by Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of government. One of the executive orders also binds the MDAs to grant applications for permits, registrations or licences within stipulated times and where not feasible, give reasons for rejection within the stipulated time.

For so long, MDAs with the duty of granting such applications have held the citizenry  and even foreign investors to ransom, refusing to act until bribes were paid. Indeed, for too long, government business has been seen as no man’s business and as such promoted a lazy, idle and unproductive culture in the affairs of government. That culture has promoted corruption at the expense of the general good. We salute the administration for articulating these orders which are expected to revive efficiency, and in due course, put the government on track in promoting the welfare of the citizenry.

However, we are aware that the orders are bound to face resistance from entrenched interests  and individuals who benefit from the opaque system that the executive orders want to obliterate. Implementation is key. Otherwise, the Executive Orders will be another wasted government effort. While the published orders do not spell out detailed measures to observe compliance, we are, however, gladdened by the fact that the Presidency made an effort during an interactive session to sensitise government operatives to the importance it attaches to them. For too long government failed to support doing business and indeed acted as if it were hostile to business. We are especially delighted by the order to prioritise locally-made goods and services in government procurements.

It is even remarkable that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, within three weeks of the issuance of the orders visited a local motor manufacturing company with the promise that government would patronise locally-made vehicle manufacturers. Nigerians will be  extremely delighted to see the heads of the various arms of the Federal Government drive in locally-made vehicles, wear locally made fabrics and eat locally-grown food. This will spin off to the populace and put our economy on the highway to total diversification. We can, and should do the same with Information and Communication Technology which we aver, is a great enabler for economic diversification. We urge the National Assembly to support the intentions of the orders through the moral and legislative frameworks available to it.

Published in News & Stories
Tuesday, 13 June 2017 00:20

Osinbajo signs 2017 budget into law

Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday signed the 2017 appropriation bill of N7.44 trillion into law.

He described the event as “an important milestone’’ in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The budget christened; “Budget of Economic Recovery and Growth’’ has projected revenue of N5.08 trillion with deficit of N2.36 trillion.

A total of N2.98 trillion was earmarked for recurrent non-debt expenditure, while N2.17 trillion was earmarked for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure exclusive of capital expenditure in statutory transfers.

A total of N434.41 billion was earmarked for statutory transfers; N1.84 trillion for debt service and N177.46 billion for sinking fund for maturing bonds.

The acting president said the appropriation act was an important milestone in the administration’s economic recovery and growth plan.

He thanked the Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives and the entire leadership of the National Assembly for completing the work on record time.

He said that the process of passing the 2017 appropriation bill in the National Assembly was smoother than that of 2016, as there were no allegations of errors or mistakes.

He added that there was improvement in the quality of interpretation and presentation.

Osinbajo also commended the Ministry of Budget and Planning on the “remarkable improvement over a single budget cycle.’’

He lauded the collaborative spirit between Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the various committees of the National Assembly and their leadership during the budget defence process.

He noted that there were few reported cases of acrimony or hostile wrangling during the budget defence process.

He said that reports indicated that the sessions were done in a friendly atmosphere, an indication that the nation’s democracy was maturing well.

The acting president said that the final presentation and signing of the budget was delayed due to disagreements between the executive and the NASS on changes made in the proposal.

According to him, the executive took the view that the changes fundamentally affected some of its priority programmes and would make implementation extremely difficult and in some cases impossible.

He said that the leadership of NASS “adopted a commendably patriotic and statesmanlike approach on engagement in resolving these critical issues.’’

Osinbajo said that the leadership of NASS had promised to re-instate budgetary allocations for all the important executive projects.

He listed the projects to include the railway standard gauge project, Mambilla power project, the second Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway among others.

Osinbajo said the reinstatement would be through an application for virement by the executive which NASS had agreed to expeditiously consider.

“It is as a result of that understanding and the outcome of our detailed engagements that we are able to sign the 2017 appropriation bill into law.

“I am also pleased to mention that in our discussion with the NASS we have jointly resolved to return to a predictable January to December fiscal year.

“It is a particularly important development because this accords with the financial year of most private sector companies, underscoring the crucial relationship between government and the private sector,’’ he said.

Accordingly, Osinbajo said that the 2018 budget will be submitted in by October 2017 while the leadership of NASS has committed to work towards passing it by before the end of the year.

The appropriation bill was submitted to the acting president on May 17, after it was passed by the National Assembly.

Published in Business and Economy
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