Sunday, 21 January 2018
Items filtered by date: September 2017
Saturday, 16 September 2017 00:26

IPOB: Obasanjo backs Buhari meeting with Kanu

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has endorsed a possible meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and leader of the Indigenous People of Biaria (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu.

He gave this indication in an interview with Newsweek magazine published in the United States.

“I don’t see anything wrong in that [Buhari meeting with Kanu]. I would not object to that; if anything, I would encourage it,” Obasanjo said in response to a question on the agitation for Biafra that has become violent with the military called in to quell the situation.

“I would want to meet Kanu myself and talk to people like him, people of his age, [and ask:] ‘What are your worries?’ Not only from the southeast but from all parts of Nigeria.”

Obasanjo said  that the response of the army response to the pro-Biafra sentiment is “not the solution,” but adds that the secession craved by IPOB is not the way forward either.

Obasanjo said Nigeria must avoid allowing the current tensions to escalate into another conflict..

“Those who fought in the war in Biafra will not want to fight any other war,” he said. “I have fought one war too many in Nigeria; I don’t want to see another.”

 

Published in Headliners

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says it has seized14 properties located in “choice areas” of Abuja traced to the immediate past Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Bala Mohammed, and his son, Shamsuddeen.

The EFCC stated this in a court application filed by one of its prosecutors, Mr. Ben Ikani.

The application, filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja on September 11, 2017,   sought the interim forfeiture of the properties.

The anti-graft agency stated that although it had “recovered and seized” the properties, they could not be forfeited to the Federal Government without a court order.

The EFCC stated that both Mohammed and his son “have denied ownership and connection” to the properties.

But the commission maintained that “preliminary investigation has revealed that the properties listed on the schedule are unlawfully acquired through corrupt practices by the former minister and his son while in office as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.”

The properties, according to the EFCC, included one “mansion” located at Sunrise Estate, Asokoro, Abuja; and three sets of four-bedroomed semi-detached duplex at Green Acres Estate, Apo-Dutse, Abuja.

Others were two sets of four-bedroomed fully-detached duplexes each with boys’ quarters on Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja, a trekable distance to Transcorps Hilton Hotel Abuja.

Also listed as part of the seized properties was a four-bedroomed detached duplex with boys’ quarters located at 9, Platinum Luxury Home White Estate, Asokoro, Abuja.

Title documents attached to the EFCC’s application stated that some of the facilities in some of properties included “excellent road and drainage network; dedicated transformer; borehole for constant water supply; fitted kitchen, bedroom cabinet and wardrobes; ample parking space; and children playing ground.”

The rest of the properties are plots of land in six different locations in Abuja.

Some of the plots of land were said to be  located at Karasana West, Abuja, measuring 84,657.30 square metres; Industrial Area 1 Extension, Abuja, measuring 1.45Ha; and Guzape, Abuja measuring 2.7Ha.

Others were located at Industrial Area 1 Extension, Abuja, measuring 1.26Ha; Karasana West, Abuja measuring 64,507m2; and Dakibiyu, Abuja measuring 1,251.15m2.

Already, the EFCC is prosecuting the former minister before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Gudu, Abuja, on six corruption-related charges, and his son, Shamsuddeen, before the Federal High Court, Abuja, on 15 counts of money laundering and failure to declare some assets.

 

The charges against Shamsuddeen involve about N1.1bn.

Two high courts in Abuja had in February ordered the former minister and his son to forfeit 10 properties located in Jabi, Garki, Maitama and Jahi and other areas of Abuja.

But the EFCC stated in its fresh application that “the crux of this application is that the respondents are being investigated for offences bordering on abuse of office, land scams, corruption and corrupt practices, money laundering and diversion of revenue of government while being the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”

It also stated that the properties traced to the father and son were “reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities and crimes, kept and concealed in the names of the proxies and nominees of the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohmmed, and his son, Shamsuddeen Bala Mohammed, and for their benefit.”

According to the EFCC, the properties were held in the names of different companies and one Maimuna S. Aliyu.

The commission described Aliyu as Bala’s proxy allegedly used to acquire the houses 1A and 2A of No. 7 Gana Street Maitama, Abuja.

The companies, in whose names some of the properties were said to be held, are Intertrans Global Logistics/Bird Trust Agloallied Limited, Gal Vac Mining Limited, and Diakin Telecommunication Limited.

Giving the details of its investigation, the EFCC maintained that the former minister and his son are the owners of the of Diakin Telecommunications Ltd, Bal-Vac Mining Ltd, Bird Trust Nig Ltd and Intertrans Global Logistics Ltd, and Intertrans Global Logistics Ltd  in whose names some the properties were acquired.

The commission also alleged that Bala, while in office as the FCT minister, appointed one JemilaTangaza as Special Assistant and, thereafter, Director of Abuja Geographic Information System (A018) “to facilitate fraudulent allocations of plots of land to her and her proxies and nominees in choice areas.”

The commission alleged that the plots of lands were sold and their “proceeds laundered in the acquisition of some of these houses like House No 9 Plantinurn White Estate Abuja, acquired in the name of Mohammed Musa.”

It said Intertrans Global Logistics Ltd was linked to the son of the former minister, Shamsuddeen.

The affidavit filed in support of the forfeiture application read in part, “That investigation revealed that the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed, and his son are the owners and beneficiaries of Diakin Telecommunications Ltd, which they used to acquire House FS1A, Green Acres Estte, Apo-Dutse, Abuja, and  No. FS1B Green Acres Estte, Apo-Dutse, Abuja, while Senator Bala Mohammed was Minister of Federal Capital Territory. A copy of the sales agreement between Abuja Investment Company Limited with Diakin Telecommunication Ltd in respect of the houses at FS1A and FS1B is hereby annexed and marked as exhibits EFCC A1 and 2.

“That investigation equally revealed that the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Senator Bala Mohammed, and his son used a company known as Diakin Telecommunication Ltd to corruptly acquire Plot N0; 32 Cadastral Zone D06 Karsana West, Abuja; Plot 1420 Cadastral Zone B10, Dakibiyu and Plot 1261 Cadastral Zone C16 Industrial Area 1 Extension Abuja. Copies of C of O dated 11/6/2013, 06/04/2013 and 06/09/2014 issued by the FCT minister in the name of Diakin Telecommunication Ltd is hereby annexed and marked as exhibit EFCC A3, 4 &5 respectively.

“That investigation revealed that the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Senator Bala Mohammed, and his son are the owners and beneficiaries of Bal-Vac Mining Ltd, Bird Trust Nig Ltd and Intertrans Global Logistics Ltd which they used to acquire houses and plots of land in choice areas in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, particularly Houses 1A and 2A of No. 7 Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja; House FS2B Green Acres Estate, Apo-Dutse, Abuja, respectively. A copy of the Sub-Lease Agreement in respect of houses number 1A, 2A & FS2B is hereby annexed and marked as Exhibits EFCC A 6, 7 and 8 respectively.”

Published in Business and Economy

The Presidency has lambasted a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, for accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of being a sectional leader.

The Presidency further stated that the Indigenous People of Biafra was deliberately provoking soldiers to commit acts of violence in order to draw sympathy from the international community.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in a statement on Thursday.

Shehu said, “While the military are taking all precautions to observe the rules of engagement, there is a deliberate sinister agenda by IPOB to provoke the soldiers into killing innocent people in retaliation so that Nnamdi Kanu would use the pictures of the victims for international propaganda by accusing the government of ethnic cleansing against the Igbo with the sole purpose of gaining sympathy.”

Ezekwesili, who is a Co-convener of the #BringBackOurGirls group, had on Wednesday advised Buhari to rise above sectionalism and evacuate the soldiers deployed in the South-East as part of Operation Python Dance 2.

However, Shehu asked the former minister to stop being petty.

The statement read in part, “The Presidency has advised the Co-convener of the #BringBackOurGirls group, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, to demonstrate a great sense of responsibility in the face of national security challenges posed by the IPOB incendiary propaganda designed to cause civil unrest in the country.

“A prominent influencer like Mrs. Ezekwesili has a moral and patriotic duty not to give ammunition to any violent group that seems determined to pursue its separatist agitation through reckless and destructive methods.”

According to Shehu, Ezekwesili failed to condemn IPOB and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who, he said, had been promoting violence for several months.

The President’s spokesman said since the former minister was very active on social media, she should have been using her energy to condemn the IPOB leader but she chose to look the other way.

The statement added, “While it is convenient for the civil society activist to condemn the military and the government of President Buhari, Mrs. Ekekwesili didn’t find it appropriate, even once, to criticise the dangerous and violent propaganda being propagated by the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu. Oby, as they call her, tweets on everything. Why was she silent on this one?

“The attacks on soldiers and policemen by IPOB supporters were most irresponsible, indefensible and reckless and nobody in her position should elevate mobs to the status of rock stars for the sake of playing to the gallery.”

The President’s spokesman wondered why Ezekwesili “retreated to the background or lost her voice while IPOB supporters were violently molesting, harassing, attacking and jeopardising the lives of indigenes and non-indigenes.”

He challenged the former minister to explain to Nigerians where the constitution of Nigeria, and international human rights law, support the killing and molestation of innocent people in the name of advocacy for self-determination.

Shehu said Ezekwesili’s “hypocritical and timid silence while Kanu’s IPOB supporters were engaged in lawlessness and recklessness in violation of his bail conditions is a burden on her credibility as a national crusader who should be courageous to condemn criminality. This art of using a raincoat while taking a bath is nothing short of self deceit.”

The presidential spokesman reminded the ex-minister that if the Buhari administration could take tough action against the extremist religious groups in the northern parts of the country to preserve national security, it was ridiculous to accuse the President of sending soldiers to the South-East because he hates the Igbo.

Shehu rubbished reports that the Buhari administration was marginalizing the Igbo.

He noted that the two most important economic entities in the country- the Ministry of Petroleum Resources) and the Central Bank of Nigeria – were being run by Igbo, Ibe Kachikwu and Godwin Emefiele, respectively.

Shehu added, “A President, who has put the nation’s cash cows, the Central Bank and the Ministry of Petroleum, in the hands of the Igbo; who has given four out of five states in the sub-region senior cabinet posts in his administration, including Foreign Affairs; and Industry, Trade and Investment, and is constructing the Second Niger Bridge after years of deceit and false starts, cannot be called a hater of the Igbo.”

Published in Headliners
  • There are Nigerians who haven’t been paid for six months, says President
  • Governors got yesterday a subtle rebuke from the President.
  • He urged them to ensure payment of salaries to workers and pension to retirees.

The Federal Government has released N760.17 billion in two tranches of the Paris Club loan refund to states for outstanding salaries and pensions but some governors are believed to have spent the cash on other things.

President Muhammadu Buhari told traditional rulers at a meeting in Abuja that he was “living with the problems of this country day-by-day, and mostly those of the ordinary people”.

“There are Nigerians that haven’t been paid for six months; there are Nigerians that have not been paid their retirement benefits for years.

“I’m appealing to the governors (that was why we voted money; we borrowed money), please make sure anybody under you, pay them because most of them depend on that salary to pay rent, school fees,’’ he said.

He stressed that the mismanagement of the national revenue over the years was responsible for the economic challenges facing the nation.

Buhari promised to pursue programmes and projects that would better the lot of Nigerians. Nigeria, he said, should use its huge population to advantage.

The President spoke also on security, saying all hands were on deck to secure the country.

On unity, he said: “We know our limitations, we have to continue to strengthen our constitution, to strengthen the resolve of our people to live together, work together.

On agriculture and this year’s planting season, Buhari said: “We are lucky this year than last year and this year the rainy season is good. If it were not good I must confide in you that I was considering which country to run to.

“But God answered the prayers of many Nigerians. The rainy season last year was good and this year, with the report I’m getting, it is good. We thank God for that; otherwise, there would have been a lot of problems in this country.”

Members of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria were led to the meeting by Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar III, who thanked God for bringing the President back in sound health. He urged the President to tighten his belt and take on the mantle of leadership.

He said with a monarch from each of the gropolitical zone assuring Buhari of their support, the President should take their comments as honest and the tonic he needed to work hard for the nation.

He said: “We will continue to preach peace and stability, justice, transparency and accountability and anti-corruption.”

One traditional ruler each from the six goe-political zones spoke at the meeting.

For the Southwest, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwunsi, thanked God for the President’s safe return and for restoring him to good  health. Buhari was away in London for medical reasons. He spent 103 days.

He said: “From the Southwest, we thank God for your life and we pledge  to support you from our communities because we are closer to our people. We will continue to preach to our people that we should continue to foster peace in our country. We will continue to caution our youths against hate speeches.

“We cannot leave the development of the country all to the government but we have to work hand in hand. We assure you that we will support all your initiatives.”

For the Northwest the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, said the traditional rulers identified with Buhari’s commitment to national security.

For the Southsouth, the Jaja of Opobo said: “We express our commitment to your programmes.

“We know there is tension here and there, but as traditional rulers, we don’t eat politics. The economy has to be fixed. Coming from the region that produces the mainstay of the economy, even though the country will soon diversify the economy, before we diversify let’s protect the one that we still have.

“We are pleased to work for peace and stability of the region so that we can all see the benefits of the commodity.”

For Northcentral, the Gbom Gwom Jos, Jacob Buba Gyang, also thanked God for  bringing the President back to celebrate Sallah with fellow Nigerians.

He said: “The issues of health and security are not issues to play politics with, but issues in which we should put heads together so that the country can progress.

“We commend your efforts on security and agriculture.

“Few days ago, just when we thought peace had returned to the plateau up, it was truncated with the attack on Ancha village in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, leading to 20 deaths.”

Gyang praised the President for ordering the security agencies to fish out those responsible for the attacks.

Speaking for the Southeast, South East Traditional Council Chairman Eberechi Dick  said: “Our hearts are full of joy that you are back. You shook our hands when you came in and that shows you believe in one Nigeria. We prayed for you and you are back. We prayed for you because your agenda for Nigeria is good.

“As your children, when we cry, it is for you to ask us to stop crying, that you will fix whatever is making us cry like the bad roads.”

Speaking for the Northeast, the Lamido Adamawa, said Nigerians were happy to have the President back to the country hale and hearty.

“God brought you back to Nigeria and we are all very happy. We will continue to pray for God to strengthen you more and give you the courage to continue to do more for the country,” he said.

Published in Business and Economy

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Monday, in Lagos, expressed disgust with emerging debates on re-election by some politicians in the country.

Some northern governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress and some allies of President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday backed the President for a second term.

The declaration came on the heels of the open declaration of support of the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan for the presidential bid of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who the minister declared as “our president in 2019”.

But the renowned playwright is not amused by the debates going on in the country on the political permutations ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Soyinka noted that the current administration had barely gone halfway, wondering why people were already planning to fill political positions.

The Nobel laureate spoke with some journalists after a press briefing to unveil the second batch of students departing Nigeria for Lebanon on Tuesday for the Study Abroad In Lebanon programme by The Cedars Institute, Lebanon, in collaboration with The Wole Soyinka Foundation.

When asked a question on the current debate about a second term for Buhari and if he would endorse the President for a second term, Soyinka stated, “Why are we talking about second term for heaven’s sake? I don’t understand this. I refuse to be part of that discussion. I absolutely refuse to be part of the discussion.’’

On performance of the current administration, the revered writer said there were “yawning gaps”, noting that an average Nigerian was now less secure than he was few years ago.

He said, “Take simple security for instance. The average citizen feels less secure now than he did a few years ago; that is evident. When people talk about state police, there are reasons for it. When they talk about bringing policing right down to the community level, they know what they are talking about. This is also part and parcel of reconstruction or reconfiguration.

“The economy, there is a big question about it right now. Fortunately, everybody admits that we went through a very bad patch. Right now, it is a question of have we come out of it or not or there is no question at all.

“The past few years have been years of real internal economic disaster for the average citizen.’’

He, however, said there was a question of who was responsible for the agony the nation was plunged into in the last two years.

Besides, Soyinka said people shouldn’t allow themselves to be put off by those who tried to cheapen the word “restructuring”.

The renowned playwright stated, “Like I said when I visited the Women Arise (For Change Initiative) the other day, it doesn’t matter by what name you call it. We all know what we are talking about. We all know that this nation was deconstructed and that what we live in right now as a nation is not along a structure that expresses the true will of Nigerians.

 

“So, when people use words like ‘restructuring, reconfiguring or call it reconfiguration, return to status quo, or call it reformulating the protocols of our association or used a single word like restructuring, it doesn’t matter. Everybody knows what we are talking about. That is number one.

“Also, there are those who try to divert the attention away from the main issue by mouthing platitudes, clichés like it is the mind that needs restructuring. You know those I am referring to.

“This is a constant process—restructuring the mind. It is both an individual exercise as well as a theological exercise. People go to church and mosque to have their minds restructured. They go to school and extramural classes to have their minds restructured. Restructuring the mind is not the issue.

“Nobody is saying that the exercise of restructuring the mind should not be undertaken; it should be undertaken. Anybody who indulges in self-examination is already engaging in an exercise of mental and attitudinal reconstruction. We know that. People shouldn’t try to substitute one for the other.

“I find it very dishonest and cheap time-serving, trivialising the issue when I hear expressions like ‘it is the mind that needs to be restructured.’ Who is arguing or denying that? Why bring it up? Why is it a substitute?

“We are talking about the protocols of association of the constitutive parts of a nation.  We are talking of decentralisation. That is another word. This country is over-centralised.

“Are you saying we cannot reconstruct the mind and reconstruct the nation at the same time? Call it by whatever name. We are saying that this nation is long overdue for reconfiguring. That is the expression I choose to use now.’’

Soyinka, who also commented on Buhari’s position that Nigeria’s unity was settled and not negotiable in the President’s speech after returning from his medical trip to the UK, said he had heard the expression often.

He added, “I don’t know why people bother. Again, that is another deploy for sidetracking the issue. Nobody is talking about disuniting Nigeria.

Published in Headliners
Sunday, 10 September 2017 16:24

Buhari loyalists ask Aisha Alhassan to resign

 

A group, Buhari Support Organisation, Enugu State Chapter, on Sunday demanded the resignation of the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Aisha Alhassan, for saying that President Muhammadu Buhari promised to stay in office for only one term.

Alhassan recently declared that she would back a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, for the presidency in 2019, rather than the incumbent, Buhari.

Claiming that Buhari had earlier vowed to serve only one term, the minister promised to quit if the President decides to seek re-election. 

Reacting to the development, the pro-Buhari group, Buhari Support Organisation, said Alhassan should, without any delay, resign her appointment as a minister in Buhari’s cabinet.

Chairman of BSO, Enugu State, Chief Anike Nwoga, in a statement made available to journalists, said the minister was not loyal to Buhari’s administration.

“We know Atiku Abubakar is her godfather but it is difficult for us to comprehend why she should make such an outburst against President Buhari.

“Her outburst clearly shows her disloyalty to the Buhari government and so we see no reason why she should remain in office as minister.

“She should be honourable enough to resign and face Atiku Abubakar’s 2019 campaign,” Nwoga said.

The group went ahead to declare that Buhari never told Nigerians that he would only stay one term in office.

Nwoga noted that Buhari requires two terms in office in order to effectively address the problems in the country, which he said were created by the Peoples Democratic Party.

“Before the 2015 presidential election, there was no day the issue of one term was discussed.

“Rather, from day one, we had always known that the rot left behind by the successive Peoples Democratic Party regimes was deep and that President Muhammadu Buhari needed eight years in order to cleanse the Augean Stable.

“He needs to consolidate the war against corruption, address insecurity in the land and also consolidate the foundation for economic prosperity.

“Women Affairs Minister, Alhassan, has the inalienable right to support anybody of her choice for president in 2019 but President Muhammadu Buhari should complete his second term,” the group added.

The Buhari Support Organisation, in the same vein, faulted former Vice President, Abubakar’s claims that he was sidelined, after contributing to Buhari’s emergence as President in 2015.

Nwoga pointed out that Abubakar nominated several persons in Buhari’s administration.

“How could Atiku Abubakar say he was sidelined when he nominated Hajia Alhassan and a host of his loyalists into the Federal Executive Council and other important offices?” the group wondered.

Published in Business and Economy
Senator Abba Ali, who represented Katsina/Dutsinma senatorial district under the defunct National Party of Nigeria from 1979 to 1983, is a childhood friend of President Muhammadu Buhari. He tells OLAIDE OYELUDE that only Buhari has what it takes to tackle corruption in the country

What informed the decision of your former classmates to visit President Muhammadu Buhari, in Daura during the Sallah break?

That visit was not the first time that our 1953 class made to the President. In fact, we have always been together right from our school days. I thank God that our colleagues who visited him during the Sallah day were even more compared to the number that visited him last year. An occasion like that gives us the opportunity to reminiscence, remember the old good days and inquire about current developments concerning our individual families. We also use such occasions to exchange ideas and suggestions on the way forward for the country. One thing about President Buhari is that he remembers and calls us by our first names. We have always been together since 1975, we muted the idea of coming together twice in a year, that is, during Christmas and Eid-El-Kabir celebrations. I could recollect vividly, about seven of us during one of such occasions held at our Alma Mata in 1983, had to eat with our bare hands inside a big tray because all the cutleries and plates had been used to serve our guests. The seven of us who ate the food parked in the tray included President Buhari; the late General Shehu Yar’Adua; retired President of the Court of Appeal, Umoru Abdullahi; the late Isiaka Yusufu; the late Fatau Abdullahi; the late Grand Khadi Aminu Ibrahim, and I. We ate with our bare hands from that big tray and we enjoyed it as it reflected the bond of friendship among us. We have several interesting outings like that.

Can you recollect the type of extracurricular activities that you engaged in during your school days?

We used to converge on the ‘removed class’, as it was then known during the colonial days.  The class was like a preparatory class from where you proceed to class 1, then class 2 and depending on the decision of the school authorities, one may later be sent to either a college or a teacher training school. Naturally, at the ‘removed class’, we used to do a lot of things together like the morning devotion and sports. I was very good in football and hockey then, just like the President. So we played football and hockey together most of the time. We naturally became friends and the friendship has blossomed in the last 63 years because we were interacting on daily basis except during holidays. What gives me joy is that President Buhari never forgets or abandons his friends. He always inquires about us and such action gives one the honour and joy that despite the heavy burden on his shoulder as the number one citizen of the country, he did not lose touch with his childhood friends. He listens to them, and does not toy with suggestions that they offer him. He is somebody who listens and heeds advice.

Do you think President Buhari should resign on health grounds?

President Buhari is hale and hearty; let me first clear that impression on his health. Those urging him to resign on health ground have forgotten that God is the creator of mankind and he has the final say on when one will die. I have seen an old man in Katsina here who was in coma for four months, yet the old man thereafter lived for another eight years before he eventually died. I have also seen a situation where a man was seen today in good health and died the following day not as a result of accident but normal natural death. That is God for you. So, those saying President Buhari should resign on health grounds are going beyond their limits. They are not God and they are playing God by saying so. Only God knows beyond anybody.

What about the clamour for his second term in office being canvassed by some of his admirers and party men?

President Buhari should go for a second term in office.  He has started a good job which is acknowledged both within the country and globally and it is better he contests again for a second term in office so that he can finish the good job he has started. Everybody knows that this man is not out to accumulate wealth but to put Nigeria in its appropriate place in the comity of nations. This man is out to see that Nigeria is great again. And he has been doing all within his powers to achieve this. He realises that no country can be great with corruption. So he is fighting it with zeal and he is also tackling insurgency and all forms of criminality. He knows that Nigeria needs good infrastructural development and he is pursuing this. Look at the Mambilla power project that has been abandoned. He has resuscitated it. There are other projects being embarked upon by his government to ensure that the Nigerian youths are no longer jobless. So, I strongly support the call for his second term in office. By the time his second term ends, he would have laid a very solid foundation for whoever that is coming after him to leverage on. God, in his own wisdom, made President Muhammadu Buhari to be above board compared to his fellow politicians. We are prepared to support him to ensure that his second term bid succeeds and I believe that President Buhari will succeed while his detractors will fail.

Are you saying that Buhari is the only incorruptible politician who can lead the country and fight corruption?

Based on my experience in politics and with my age, I am saying it with all seriousness that I have not seen anybody among the current crop of politicians in the country who has a good intention like President Buhari. Many of them have amassed enormous wealth meant to take care of their people. Many are still stealing blindly. President Buhari stands out among the current political class in Nigeria. I will rather encourage him to go for a second term so that there will be sanity in the political sphere.

Are you saying that the institutions that should act as checks are not strengthened enough to tackle executive recklessness?

Nigeria’s greatest problems as of today are the National Assembly and the judiciary. The whole problem revolves round corruption which President Buhari is tackling with all his energy. The National Assembly members are supposed to make laws and ensure checks and balances on government spending but the federal lawmakers have become contractors handling constituency project which was not supposed to be their responsibilities. Their job is to make good laws and carry out oversight functions to ensure prudent management of the nation’s resources. When we were at the senate and government allocated the 1004 estate (in Lagos) for us as our accommodation, we asked government to direct the Ministry of Works and Housing to carry out necessary renovation and fittings there. We did not say that we will carry out the exercise by ourselves. Ordinarily, when you are a lawmaker, your primary job is to make laws and not to chase contracts.  When I was the Chairman of the National Research Institute of Chemical Technology, Zaria, the institute’s budget was passed but the National Assembly then, ensured that money was not allocated to the institute until the end  of the year simply because we did not offer bribe to anybody. I was also, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Works and Housing during the second republic, our committee did not demand money from anybody to have bills passed. Instead, we did our job with all sense of patriotism and concern for the poor people. And as everybody can see too, President Buhari has started to sanitise the judiciary. The bane of the country is corruption and it is only someone with the character of President Buhari who can tackle the problem headlong.

What is your view on the current controversy surrounding the clamour for the restructuring of Nigeria?

Those clamouring for the restructuring of Nigeria are not being sincere. We have a constitution in Nigeria and the constitution is explicit enough on virtually all issues concerning us. I won’t subscribe to the call for the restructuring of Nigeria. Nigeria is a project which all of us must allow to succeed.

Published in Headliners

The suspected killers of Rev Fr Cyriacus Onunkwo of the Orlu Catholic diocese in Imo State were on Thursday paraded before newsmen by the state commissioner of police, Chris Ezike.

The prime suspect is a 32-year-old ex-corporal, Jude Madu, who masterminded the abduction of the cleric.

The Rev Fr was kidnapped while returning home from the funeral rites of his father, Celestine Onunkwo.

Others are Izuchukwu Okafor, 28, from Ukwukwa in Azia in Anambra state; Cyril Onyema, 29, from Okwelle in Imo state; Emmanuel Ozuigbo, 29, Ezeagu in Enugu state; Victor Ikechukwu, 33, from Obowo in Imo state; and Ifechukwu Nwosu, 28, a native of Azia in Ihiala Local Government Area.

According to the CP, the operations which led to the arrest of the kidnappers cut across three states of Imo, Anambra and Rivers.

The police boss said the late priest’s telephone and his wrist watch were recovered from two out of the six suspects.

Ezike said, “The investigating team using forensic technology and backed up by hard work, commitment, passion and hunger for success arrested ex-corporal Jude Madu who was found in possession of late Rev Fr Onunkwo’s Infinix telephone handset”.

According to the CP, the ex-corporal “was a member of the Armed robbery/kidnapping syndicate and took part in the operation. He holds a National Diploma from Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, and was arrested on September 5, at control post in Owerri in possession of the deceased’s phone. He has confessed to the crime.”

Published in News & Stories

A National Assembly member, Sen. Stella Oduah, has debunked allegation that she bought a 1.2 million dollars house in England while she was Minister of Aviation, saying it is untrue.

She said at a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja on Thursday that the allegation made in an online publication was a total falsehood, without any foundation.

The online medium’s report alleged that the senator purchased the property under another name and that the ownership of the property was uncovered when she attempted to rent it out in March, 2017. 

Oduah described as “unfortunate’’, the medium’s penchant for continual publication of falsehood about politicians and people in government.

“Of course, the allegation is not true, it cannot be true.

“It is unfortunate that we have a country where journalists will copy a story without verifying the authenticity of that story.

“When you read my statement on it later, then it will be for you to make up your mind. But, categorically it is untrue and it is unfair,’’ she said.

The lawmaker recalled that the same online medium had reported that she purchased two BMW cars when she was minister.

She said that the medium only published lies, adding that the vehicles were property of the Federal Government, which she never bought for herself or took away when she left the minister.

According to her, that was the same way they carried a story about bullet proof cars; bullet proof cars were never bought by me, not even by the agency they alleged.

“In fact, bullet proof cars were never a transaction that was not approved.

“They were two vehicles that were on higher purchase by the agency and the ministry directed that because of the need as proposed by the agency, they should go ahead and do the higher purchase.

“Suddenly, for the online medium, higher purchase turned into procurement; I don’t know if there is a similarity between higher purchase and procurement.

“So, I now realise and symphatise with anybody that works or tries to work for government, because you will have the likes of Sahara Reporters thrive on making your life difficult.

“I rise above that at all times because I know that what they say is never the truth, particularly on my case, it is not true.

“It cannot be true; why will I purchase vehicles on higher purchase and then it is on the ministry’s and agency’s name, why?

“That same vehicle, I never drove it for one day and when I was leaving the ministry, I didn’t take it along with me?

“The question should be `where are those bullet proof cars today?” she said.

Oduah blamed the negative reports on persons who were unhappy with her efforts to revive the nation’s aviation industry when she served as the minister.

Published in Business and Economy

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Thursday accused President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressive Congress (APC) of abandoning him after helping the party to win the 2015 general election.

This came after the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, publicly declared her support for Atiku’s presidential quest in 2019.

The minister said she would support the ex- vice president even if President Buhari decides to seek re-election in 2019.

The foremer Vice President, in an interview on the Voice of America (VOA)’s Hausa Service, said he had been abandoned in spite of his efforts in making sure that the APC defeated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.

Speaking from his home town in Yola, the capital city of Adamawa State after the Eid-El-Kabir festival, Abubakar said: “Honestly speaking, I’m still a member of the APC; I was part of all the processes, including campaigns until success was achieved.

“But sadly, soon after the formation of government; I was side-lined, I have no any relationship with the government, I’ve not been contacted even once to comment on anything and in turn, I maintained my distance. They used our money and influence to get to where they are but three years down the lane, this is where we are.”

However, he applauded the president on the successes recorded so far in the fight against Boko Haram, but said it was not yet time to celebrate because a lot is yet to be done and “the ruling government had failed in many fronts.

“Yes, there were successes but not comprehensive success because the Boko Haram miscreants are still very active, killing our people and many local government councils in Borno and Yobe are under their firm grip. People cannot dare go back to their dwellings,” he said.

Published in News & Stories
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