Saturday, 22 January 2022

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Thursday, 01 July 2021 14:46

BREAKING: How we re-arrested Kanu, by FG

By Yusuf Alli and Onyedi Ojiabor, Abuja/ THE NATION

The Federal Government has offered insights into the operation that led to the rearrest of detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

It said some countries and intelligence agencies, with which it has obligations, assisted to arrest Kanu.

But the government did not name the affected countries or intelligence agencies.

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed who spoke with reporters in Abuja simply described those countries and Intelligence agencies as those with which Nigeria shares obligations.

He said: “Finally, there have been speculations on how this re-arrest was pulled off and in which country the hitherto fugitive leader of the proscribed IPOB was nabbed.

“What we can tell you, once again, is that the re-arrest was made possible by the diligent efforts of our security and intelligence agencies, in collaboration with countries with which we have obligations. We continue to respect and honour the obligations. ”He said Nigeria had been on the trail of Kanu for two years.

According to him: ” It will interest Nigerians to know that for over two years, our security and intelligence agencies were on the trail of the proscribed IPOB leader as he lived a five-star life across several countries, travelling on chartered private jets, living in luxury apartments and turning out in designing clothes and shoes.

“Of course, as we all saw, he was wearing an attire made by Fendi, a luxury Italian fashion brand, when he was arrested.”

Mohammed explained that many security agencies worked to effect the arrest of Kanu.

He added: “As you are aware, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, has been rearrested and repatriated to Nigeria to resume his trial.

“This was made possible through the collaboration of Nigerian security and intelligence agencies.

“Kanu, who is facing an 11-count charge of treason, treasonable felony, terrorism and illegal possession of firearms, among others, jumped bail in 2017 and left the country.

“On Tuesday, Kanu was re-arraigned in court and ordered to be remanded in the custody of the DSS, while the case was adjourned till July 26-27, 2021

“Gentlemen, the Federal Government wishes to commend the Nigerian security and intelligence agencies, who collaborated to re-arrest the proscribed IPOB leader in one of the most classic operations of its type in the world.

“We commend the professionalism, diligence, patriotism and painstaking efforts of our security and intelligence agencies.

“We also thank the sister international agencies that collaborated with us to pull off this arrest.”

Published in Headliners
It is a sad day for family and friends of Michael Usifo Ataga, the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, and a director in Super Network Limited, a telecoms firm, as he has been gruesomely murdered by his side chick.

Ataga who resides in Banana Island was reported missing on Sunday by concerned friends and family after all efforts to reach him proved abortive.

Checks at his Victoria Island office showed he wasn’t there either and this put everyone in a panic mode including his wife and children who reside in Abuja.

Unfortunately, his lifeless body was found this morning in a flat in Lekki phase 1 with multiple stable wounds after several withdrawals were made from his account.

Usifo who would have been 50 years old today had met a girl about two weeks ago and they began a relationship. This despite the fact that he is married to a manager in Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.

Usifo who felt more comfortable meeting with his side chic outside his home and hers, to prevent nosey neighbours from prying, rented an Airbnb in Lekki, Lagos where they both checked into before the unfortunate incidence.

Following his disappearance, a combined team of concerned friends, family members, the police and DSS operatives all the way from Abuja through the concerted efforts of the wife, tracked down the owner of the Airbnb, who received payment from the side chic’s bank account into which Ataga had previously made a transfer for the payment to.

The apartment was broken into and that was where he was found dead with multiple stabs in his neck, chest and thigh.

The side chick withdrew N5 million from his account before they killed Ataga.

Apparently, the side chic carried out the murder after she must have drugged him as the security guards at the rentals said no 3rd party came visiting Atage and the side chic besides a dispatch rider who brought drugs for the girl.

The side chic who was last seen on Tuesday when the murder happened, was equally tracked down and arrested alongside the owner of the Airbnb.

Many of Ataga’s friends have expressed as to how the side chic was able to pull the dastardly act all alone as Ataga was said to have been an amateur boxer who was very strong

After the side chic left the apartment following his gruesome death, money began to disappear from Atage’s Guaranty Trust Bank account and it was an email from Ataga’s email address asking  for a change in his account details, did the withdrawals stop.

With this, GTBank put an embargo on the account to prevent any further withdrawal.

Investigations is still on and the case is still unfolding.

Credit: Street Journal
Chukwudi Iwuchukwu 
Published in Headliners
By Sanni Onogu, Abuja/ THE NATION

With N800 billion proposed as supplementary budget for defence, the military has no excuse not to decisively prosecute the war against insurgency and rid the country of all forms of criminality, Senate Committee on Army Chairman Ali Ndume said yesterday.

The N800 billion request is to support the military in its war against Boko Haram in the Northeast.

In a statement to mark this year’s Democracy Day, Ndume said: “On the issue of insecurity, I have been advocating an increase in the military funding but that has now been done by the recent submission of the supplementary budget of over N800 billion by the executive arm of government to the National Assembly, majority of the money is meant to address the security challenges in the country. This is a commendable effort by President Buhari.

“With this now, there is light at the end of the tunnel because if the materials and necessary military hardware and equipment are immediately purchased, and handed over to the military, I am sure that the Nigerian Army who are known for their gallantry in international assignments will be able to do more to defend the internal security challenges confronting Nigeria.”

The All Progressives Congress (APC) senator (Borno South), commended Buhari on his Democracy Day broadcast, saying Nigerians had been eager and worried over his continued silence on critical national issues in recent times.

He congratulated Nigerians on the commemoration of the June 12 Democracy Day, and urged the President to continue to update Nigerians on issues of national importance on quarterly basis.

Ndume said: “I commend the President, Muhammadu Buhari, for his decision to be speaking out to Nigerians because the people have been eager and worried over his continued silence on critical national issues in recent times.

“Many Nigerians are now happy that their President has started talking to them once again. I therefore encourage him to be doing that intermittently, if possible, on quarterly basis.”

He urged the Federal Government to spend borrowed money on critical infrastructure and possibly agriculture and not on payment of salaries and other recurrent expenditure.

The senator said: “Concerning the issue of foreign borrowings, the problem is not about borrowing because the idea is not bad. Even developed nations also do the same thing.

“It is what the government do with the money that is important. The concentration on infrastructure development by the Buhari administration, especially in the area of railway and roads is commendable.

“The Federal Government should look at the possibility of borrowing for agricultural development so that our people will move from subsistence farming to a mechanised one.

“If that is achieved, it will generate employment and guarantee food security. Also, there would be no need for Nigeria to spend foreign exchange on food importation.

“We can produce all types of food in Nigeria only if the farmers are well funded. The borrowings should be spent on purchase of farm implements and other farming machinery and make it available to farmers.

“The external loans should also be used to fund moribund industries especially textile and spare part manufacturing among others.

“It is only through that the government can guarantee borrowings because the manufacturing industries will come up again through the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.

“The government can serve as a guarantor for the loans so that MAN would coordinate the process of rescucitating the moribund industries that had been closed down.

“The loans should be borrowed from the international lending agencies whose terms are very good in order to develop our road infrastructure and mount toll plazas in order to generate revenue to pay back the loans.

”Borrowings should not be made to defray recurrent expenditure like payment of salaries. Funding for such purposes should be sourced locally from taxes and other internally generated revenues.”

Published in Headliners

Pastor Folorunsho Emmanuel Bamiduro, a Lagos-based cleric cum rights activist, was a childhood friend and ex-classmate of the late Prophet T.B. Joshua. He spoke with KUNLE AKINRINADE on the early life of the renowned prophet and how he started from the Celestial Church of Christ before establishing Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN).

  • Says he was highly mystical in secondary school

  • Synagogue’s founder was in love with James Hardly Chase’s, Shakespeare’s novels in school days

  • How he began missionary work in Celestial Church

How much of the late Prophet T.B. Joshua did you know?

There is a linkage between us. We were childhood friends. I am a native of Ikare- Akoko while Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua was an indigene of Arigidi-Akoko in Ondo State. I must say that Akoko indigenes love themselves very much and love to do things together wherever they live, because we are unique. He was a confirmed prophet because Akoko is one of the Yoruba towns renowned for producing great prophets, just like Ijeshaland.

There is the story that the late Cherubim and Seraphim Church founder, Prophet Moses Orimolade, who is also a native of Akoko, had blessed the area by dipping his rod into water and prophesying that Akokoland would produce many prophets. Hence, many people, including the late Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) founder, Apostle Ayo Babalola, who carried out the greater part of his missionary work in Akokoland, myself and the deceased (Joshua) are prophets today.

Joshua was very cautious and exhibited circumspection in choosing his friends right from when we were in school at Ansar-Ud-Deen (AUD) Grammar School, Ikare-Akoko, Ondo State. He was much obsessed with reading (James) Hardley Chase and Shakespeare novels, while I loved and still love to read novels about war and combatant stories because my childhood ambition was to join the military. He was fond of guarding his novels jealously by keeping them under his armpit when in school, because he didn’t want them to be stolen or borrowed by anyone.

We both had a circle of friends in school back then. The current Special Adviser on Tourism and Culture to Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Wale Ojo-Lanre, was one of our classmates and friend, and others like Rotimi Aromolaran and Barrister Wole Ademuwagun.

What kind of person was he in school back then?

He was a boy with many characters. He was a very brave student, very funny and comical, and made people laugh. He also loved to be alone most times.

What year did you finish school?

All of us, including Joshua, graduated from the school in 1982, and we never met again until a few years later.

Did he show any traits of potential clergyman while you were growing up?

Yes, he was fond of beating drums in church and singing during our Wednesday and Sunday fellowships in school, and he was generally a very mystical character in the way he conducted himself.

At what point did you reconnect with him after your secondary school days?

We got in touch about five years after we left school and we continued with our friendship.

Prophet Joshua actually lived with me when he relocated to Lagos. I had been living in Lagos before he joined me, and he lived with me for four years at my residence somewhere in Lagos here.

He later moved on with his life and I also started my missionary work somewhere in Abule Egba, a Lagos suburb, while he established his church in the Ikotun area of Alimosho.

A lot of people wonder how he started his ministry before he established Synagogue Church at Ikotun…

No man falls down from the sky. He certainly has his own history in the vineyard and how he trained and worked with some clergymen before founding his own church. What I know is that he trained and worked under two men of God who are also late now. I know that in the beginning when he relocated to Lagos, he started his cleric work in a white garment denomination, Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) to be precise, before he founded his own church-Synagogue Church of All Nations at Ikotun. Those who say he had no background as a cleric are only envious of him and his outstanding ministry.

Did you keep in touch with him regularly before his death?

We kept in touch on the phone once in a while because of our busy schedules. I am very busy and he was always very busy too. Most of the time he gave me appointments to see him, I couldn’t make it because I was also very busy with my church activities and rights activism.

Did you have any plan to see him before his death?

We had fixed our reunion for December because it had been a long time we met as ex-students since we left secondary school. One of us, Rotimi Ademuwagun, is the one coordinating all members of our set for the reunion. Joshua had met with him and they had discussed extensively the reunion programme. We were all looking forward to the event, not knowing that he would die so soon.

How did you feel when you received the news of his death?

My reaction was that of a delayed shock. I still don’t know what to say now because his death is a colossal loss to the entire Akokoland.

Published in Headliners

Greetings President Muhammadu Buhari,

The hope of Nigeria lies within this generation. I am proudly a Nigerian descendant living in America and am a proponent of Bitcoin. I write to urge the Nigerian government to pursue economic independence and financial sovereignty by pursuing a national Bitcoin standard. Soon every nation will be faced with this decision, but those who seize the present moment proactively as we have just witnessed in El Salvador, will enjoy significant advantages globally for generations to come.

It is no secret that the current global economic environment is worrisome and unsustainable. Sadly, the fate of the Nigerian economy is in the hands of global central bankers who do not represent the best interests of the Nigerian people. Despite the challenges we face, the resilience of Nigerians continues to inspire. The Nigerian society enjoys more favorable conditions than many of its neighbors. However, even greater opportunity awaits with the adoption of national action in favor of a Bitcoin standard.

The tone of this letter is meant to convey urgency both in terms of the forthcoming economic despair and the limited window to act on this opportunity with fierce boldness and strong leadership. While the challenges of COVID-19 and increased global unrest continue to instill fear in the hearts and minds of citizens everywhere, Nigerians can claim international greatness by rising to the occasion that our unique times require.

Nations such as Iran, Russia, China and Kenya have been reportedly mining or otherwise utilizing bitcoin, often as a means to circumvent U.S. sanctions which prevent them from full participation in the global financial system. Other nations like Barbados, Singapore and Malta have moved to become “bitcoin friendly” in an effort to attract wealth and human capital through migration. And this week, El Salvador became the world’s first nation to require merchants to accept bitcoin as legal tender. I’m proposing an equally aggressive approach to national Bitcoin adoption which would significantly bolster every sector of the Nigerian economy and revitalize the spirit of every Nigerian domestically and abroad.

Bitcoin is not controlled, managed or operated by any single entity. It is an innovation that will surpass the automobile or the internet in terms of its impact on humanity. Nigeria does not need to ask for permission from any other nation nor acquire a license nor secure a trade agreement from any corporation to reshape its economy with Bitcoin. All that is required is a vision for a new future and an allocation of its own national resources to pursue a Bitcoin standard.

The primary reason for urgently pursuing and executing a national plan for adoption is the finite supply of bitcoin. There will only ever be 21 million bitcoin in circulation. This hard cap on the supply makes bitcoin even more verifiably finite than gold. As this simple yet unique property of scarcity becomes more widely understood, the economic laws of supply and demand will create a global frenzy to acquire as much bitcoin as possible, before it’s too late. This momentum for acquiring bitcoin is already underway throughout the world and it is rapidly accelerating. In recent months, continued economic turmoil and uncertainty has created increased curiosity inbitcoin. Multiple institutional investors have announced sizable bitcoin allocations in their portfolios, some citing it as a hedge against a weakening U.S. dollar.

The Nigerian government, along with every other government in the world, has a once in a generation opportunity to claim global prominence by rising to the occasion. Many other politicians in Latin America have signalled their intention to pursue similar moves as El Salvador. In leading the next global financial shift, Nigeria can create prosperity for its citizens in a manner that requires no bloodshed, no election and no resistance. Such a proposition may seem too good to be true, and these ambitions certainly require thorough investigation, scrutiny and debate. Conversely, a delay in pursuing a national plan for bitcoin adoption will risk a scenario where Nigeria is left behind and its citizens excluded from the possibility of significant wealth creation and preservation. As world leaders become more aware of the chance to make history, pursuit of bitcoin will be widespread. We offer our full support, a willingness to voluntarily consult and commitment to activate every resource available to us in order to see Nigeria pursue a Bitcoin standard.

Nigeria must never carry last,

Russell Okung

Published in Business and Economy

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday charged the Armed Forces to remain loyal to the Nation in the face of agitations from various sections of the county.

The President, who addressed troops fighting the Boko Haram terrorists in the North East as part activities marking the Nation’s 57th Independence anniversary, said such loyalty was imperative to sustain the nation’s peace and unity.

“Even for selfish reasons, your loyalty ought to be to the centre, first.

“The security of this nation is in the hands of God and in the hands of the security.

“If you don’t stand firm, I assure you if Nigeria doesn’t exist, the first to be insecure are the security agencies because no matter how many parts Nigeria will be divided, nobody will take another General to preside over his country,” Buhari said.

On those agitating for separation, Buhari dismissed them as noise makers, adding that he knew much about the nation, having participated in the 30 months civil war which began in 1967 and ended in 1970.

“I was involved in civil war for 30 months, I know much about this country.

“Those making noise about the stability of this country were not born then. They don’t know what it means to be a nationalist,” he said.

To the troops, he said: “I thought the only honour I can present to the military and other stakeholders on this great day is to come and address you, who are in the frontline.

“I am pleased with the Nation and responsible opinions from all over the world, congratulating this administration for the progress we have made.

“I personally thank the Governor of this state, Borno, Kashim Shettima for his courage throughout the crisis – Boko Haram insurgency.”

The president gave the assurance that under his leadership resources would be made available to support the Armed Forces.

He said that unless the nation is secured nobody would be able to pursue his or her business.

“I expect in return from you to be loyal and loyalty is from the bottom upward, from private to Lance Corporal, Corporal, up to Sergeant, Generals, Service Chiefs, otherwise the centre will not hold.

“But this centre is determined to hold,” the President said.

NAN

Published in Headliners

At least 600 people are still missing following a mudslide and flooding that devastated parts of Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, a spokesman for the president has told the BBC.

President Ernest Bai Koroma earlier pleaded for "urgent support", saying entire communities had been wiped out.

Nearly 400 people are confirmed dead after a mudslide in the Regent area and floods elsewhere in Freetown on Monday.

The Red Cross has warned it is a race against time to find survivors.

A mass burial of victims is planned on Wednesday to free up space in mortuaries.

Presidential spokesman Abdulai Baraytay told the BBC that bodies were still being pulled from the mud and rubble.

"The entire community is now in mourning. Loved ones are still missing, well over 600 people," he said.

Sierra Leone mudslides: Rescue and recovery operation in Freetown

The UN said its teams in Sierra Leone had mobilised and were supporting rescue efforts.

"Contingency plans are being put in place to mitigate any potential outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Homes in the hilltop community of Regent were engulfed after part of Sugar Loaf mountain collapsed following heavy rain early on Monday. Many victims were asleep in bed when disaster struck.

President Koroma fought back tears as he toured Regent on Monday and said the devastation was "overwhelming us".

"Entire communities have been wiped out. We need urgent support now," he said.

Map shows the location of the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown

He urged people to stay away from the affected areas.

"This tragedy of great magnitude has once again challenged us to come together, to stand by each other and to help one another," he said.

Flooding is not unusual in Sierra Leone, where unsafe housing in makeshift settlements can be swept away by heavy rains.

The rains often hit areas in and around Freetown, an overcrowded coastal city of more than one million people.

Published in Business and Economy
Tuesday, 15 August 2017 12:22

By Afam Nkemdiche: Our mumu never do!

Nigeria’s comedy industry grows by the day. Comedy, it now seems, is the readiest avenue to stardom in Nigeria; very funny. Every which way one looked in the country they are as likely to behold an unfurling hilarious drama. You do not need to be able to afford a premium ticket to enjoy a good comedy at the Muson Centre in Lagos; or such-like places. Variegated comedy theaters abound in the Nigerian landscape, with high-performing actors and actresses on hand; from our very lawless Motor Parks to our very rowdy market places, through to the hallow chambers of the National Assembly, colourful live comedies are never in want. The “our mumu don do” protesters, otherwise known as “Buhari return or resign” and their opposite group, wittingly or unwittingly, presented the latest evidence of this growing population of comedians in our midst.

Though it’s incompatible with my breeding to speak condescendingly about a supposed patriotic gesture of my fellow citizens, but the warped reasoning of these protesters has compelled me to break with established tradition. Indeed, these groups of protesters have merely confirmed that “our mumu never do.” My reasons are outlined thus:

Muhammadu Buhari, the Daura born, retired two-star army general, incapacitated or not, remains the substantive president of the geographic expression called Nigeria. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, by his own admission, unfailingly takes directives from, just as he unfailingly reports back to his indisposed principal.

Long before he took seriously ill, President Buhari presented Nigerians with the unassailable evidence that he is discharging the nation’s first office at the behest of a select group. The president’s wife, Aisha, and Senate President Bukola Saraki famously confirmed that unacceptable situation. For my part, l couldn’t resist devoting an article on this pages to that realisation – “Buhari belongs to some persons.”

Despite the glaring fact that the unity of Nigeria is severely threatened by centripetal forces across her six geo-political zones, due primarily to her fundamentally flawed political structure, the First Estate of the Realm, in reviewing the extant national Constitution, completely failed to decisively attend to Nigeria’s most pressing contemporary challenge: Administrative Restructuring. Few weeks prior to the commencement of that constitutional review exercise, the Honourable Members of the green chamber surprisingly voted against the Bill on relocation of the International Oil Companies headquarters back to the Niger Delta region. Need l say that that surprise nay-vote at once offended against best global business models and regional sensitivities. (Question: are our elected Representatives verily representing the interests of the electorate; or, our mumu don do?).

Lives and property in Nigeria have never been more threatened as is in present-day Nigeria; Boko Haram insurgents, mindless kidnappers, satanic mass killings (my heart goes out to the victim-families of Ozubulu), armed robbers, militants, separatist agitators, cultists, ritualists, hawkers of human limbs, and such-like dreadful groups now hold sway; and Nigerians continuously contend with the psychological trauma of these threats. Yet, our elected leaders live in cocooned luxury and security at the expense of our common wealth. Our mumu don do?

Year after year Nigerians are called by successive leaderships to make selfless sacrifices for a terribly mismanaged country, but none of these hapless citizens has even an inkling of the dividends of their long-sufferings. Elsewhere, citizens would demand of their leadership a concrete vision of their nation’s ultimate destiny in an exchange for their expected sacrifices. Could any Nigerian predict what the value of the national currency, the naira, will be twelve months hence; nor can anyone say what the unit cost of electricity or the prices of petroleum products will be six months from today.

So, our mumu don do? Only a comedian would answer in the affirmative. But in spite of these major oddities Nigerians somehow still carry on living life as though nothing has gone amiss. Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the inimitable Afro Beat legend whose twentieth memorial anniversary was commemorated recently, had waxed a best-selling album to depict the Nigerian state; he named it.

“Suffering and smiling.” And not too long ago, an international poll concluded that Nigerians were among the happiest people on Earth. True, Nigerians continue to smile in spite of their spine-breaking sufferings because of institutionalised social-conditioning by the country’s self-seeking and steeply selfish leadership class. The latter, keenly minded of its conspicuous self-centeredness (cathedral-like official residences; countless number of luxury vehicles; long list of security details; globe-trotting on chartered flights, e.t.c.) aggressively exploits the opium of tribe and religion to pitch the masses against themselves. It does this to benumb their senses; tribe and religion never fail to have their narcotic-like effects on the multitude. And because nature created humans to think individually the multitude never could think through the maze; this is why the masses are so easy to manipulate. The multitude is sheepish (a euphemism for mumu); why else do you think politicians love campaign rallies? It is far too easy to persuade the multitude than the individual. Thusly, the decisions and actions of the multitude are largely determined by those it looks up to, be they religious bigots, tribal jingoists, self-seeking politicians, or purveyors of truths. The quality of a people’s leadership is therefore predicated on their degree of sheepishness. (When the people are ready, the mystic appears) History bears this out.

Therefore, the most urgent task for the Nigerian masses for the present is to rid themselves of their decades of social-conditioning, and begin to listen to the voices of selfless thinkers or true philosophers. Nigeria has her fair share of this tribe of persons; and these have been prodding the citizenry to eschew tribe and religion from its electoral culture. But thus far this has been to no avail because our mumu never do. Buhari’s resumption of office or resignation from it would not change Nigeria’s unfortunate narrative. The existing leadership class or its entrenched mind-set is what needs substituting. Only one vector can make this happen: a less sheepish electorate. So, the our mumu don do protesters had better look away from the convalescing septuagenarian in the Queen’s country, revert to their drawing board, and diligently focus on the extensive work that needs to be done on the multitude…

• Nkemdiche, a consulting engineer lives in Abuja.

Published in Parliament

I refer to Chidi Anselm Odinkalu’s opinion piece titled, “Nigeria’s toxic NGO Regulation Bill” in The Guardian of July 27, 2017. His fears on a draconian bill from the federal parliament (House) to monitor the activities of non-governmental organisations are in order. Thanks to civil society, Nigerians are vibrant, and demand accountability from governments which have led to the ushering in of a degree of open governance.

Thanks to foreign aid, the AIDS scourge around the world has reduced tremendously. And unlike in times past, more people now have access to antiretroviral treatment than was previously possible. And deaths have reduced to a noticeable level. Currently, we do not look at AIDS patients with the woe-begone-thee outlook of before, thanks to enlightenment campaigns, so also is the reduction in the level of tuberculosis, malaria, improved education for girls, as well as improved agricultural practices etc. But are non-governmental organisations in Nigeria truly equipped to carry out the mission for which these aids are meant?
Do we really have the system in place, the political institutions built over time to sustain the works of non-governmental organisations in words and in deeds?

Can our people and government take actions on critical issues without reverting to donors? I am looking at taking ownership of the process. How is our level of diplomacy and engagement with open society? Maybe this is where a bill as proposed is needed. I have sat down to think about this. Just recently, I needed sponsorship for a programme to help young children. I wrote many letters to non-governmental organisations in-country. Only one sent a negative reply. Even then, they told me that their external donors determine projects they must fund locally. The outfit in question deals with issues that hover around children, I plan saving children. You wonder why they couldn’t take the lead to inform their donors about my plans but settled for the easy way out.

In contrast, one U.S. foundation stationed in the United States to which I sent a letter – promptly replied within days. It regretted not being able to assist but gave me customised web links to download resource materials to help develop content for the proposed, programme. I can’t forget my trip to the British Council, of course supervised by Nigerians. I went there to see if I could get resource persons for a TV show on education. They were excited. They made me apply formally. This was in August 2016. As I write this essay, no-one has deemed it fit to reply, even though I had a meeting with a Nigerian manager in charge of education (even when I sent text messages giving gentle reminders) neither did they give me a resource person even when I told them the date I planned to go on air. I wonder what might have happened had I ventured there to ask for sponsorship. What then drives that British organisation to development? Or how do they support developmental progress when formal letters are received, acknowledged but statuses of applications never communicated to applicants.

Do we need to harp on recruitment into NGOs in Nigeria? Due to the need to staff top decision making positions with Nigerians, merit in many places has been thrown away and we have settled for nepotism. To get a job in many NGO outfit in Nigeria, you may need to be connected or come from a particular geographical location in Nigeria. I remember being interviewed for a position at The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in 2010 in Port Harcourt. Seven years later, not one person bothered to inform me why I failed the test and oral interview. I submitted efforts for two days. Silence means I failed right? No issue with failing though. Great men have failed at some things in earlier days. But courtesy demands I am informed, isn’t it? NGOs in Nigeria are proto-type of our civil service.

Our love for clannishness is not only affecting the decisions of donors in Nigeria but is also eroding the importance of NGOs in Nigeria. I remember how I campaigned to get a job in a USAID-funded NGO in 2009 in Port Harcourt but the top managers told me the available position was reserved for an indigene of the state even when no-one had applied for it. We fork out nativist agenda in growth agencies. I am not judging these NGOs. But we need to feel their presence in Nigeria and appreciate their unbridled interest and resourcefulness in addressing issues that have bedeviled our society. If truly we want to evolve as a people or develop as a nation, these issues must be squarely faced.

What do NGOs teach us here? And how effective are they to the Nigerian society? President Donald Trump plans to cut down drastically on U.S. foreign aids around the world. Experts have warned that it would harm U.S. national security. The Trump administration is also proposing cuts in U.S. funds to the United Nations. The president reasons, that the U.S. carries the burden of the world alone to a large-degree, with no gratitude from many countries that can’t survive without her foreign aids. Nigeria needs to begin to discharge her own burden – without being nursed, fraternally.

• Abah wrote from Port Harcourt.

Published in Parliament

Presidency rejects claim that PDP left healthy economy

The Presidency yesterday dismissed former President Goodluck Jonathan’s claim on the state of the economy at the end of his administration in May 2015.

Jonathan said at the weekend that he handed over a healthy economy to President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We tamed inflation at a single digit, maintained price stability, and drove the economy to become the largest in Africa”, the ex-president explained.

But the Presidency disagreed, saying the economy President Buhari inherited had crumbled.

In a statement titled “Your Excellency Dr Jonathan, this is the economy you left behind, in case you have forgotten”, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said: “With due respects to the former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, these are the facts about the economy you left behind, in case you have forgotten.

“I hope this will help to erase the wrong statement credited to you at your party, the PDP Convention at the Eagle Square last weekend that you handed to President Buhari a robustly healthy economy.

“To the same extent, this should also help to erase yet another false statement by Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, the Caretaker Chairman of the party, to the effect that under the previous administration there was money but now things are very hard.

“Let me start by reasserting an obvious statement, which is that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was handed an economy ravaged by years of mismanagement and corruption.

“It is understandable that Dr Jonathon kept his comments short, because a cursory look at any sector clearly indicated that he and his government presided over the most monumental and tragic economic mismanagement recorded in our national history.

“The oil sector boomed under his tenure, with oil prices as high as US$ 120 and peace in the Niger Delta. Nigeria earned unprecedented dollar revenues. Sadly,that is where the story turns sour. There is nothing to show for the revenues earned, no major capital project was completed, neither power generation, road development, rail nor agriculture benefited from the windfall earnings. Rather the administration presided over the diversion of oil revenues on such a massive scale that even without the protection now accorded to Whistle blowers, the then Central Bank Governor blew not only a whistle but a trumpet.

“He was hurriedly shown the door. Meanwhile, the acquisition by public officers and their cohorts of private jets, luxury yachts and the accumulation of expensive property portfolios world-wide continued unabated. Indeed the President once celebrated having the largest number of private jets, whilst our youth languished without jobs, our fields stood idle and our factories began the lay-off of workers.

“Government simply reticulated oil revenue through personal spending by corrupt leaders, wasteful expenses and salaries. This was done rather than investing in what would grow the economy. Economies grow due to capital investment in assets like seaports, airports, power plants, railways, roads and housing. Nigeria cannot record a single major infrastructural project in the last 10 years. In short the money was mismanaged.”

“Such was the looting that even the goose that was laying the golden egg was being systematically starved. The direct contractual costs of oil produced , in the form of cash calls, remained unpaid. The incoming, President Buhari’s welcome from the oil majors included demand for US$6Bn owed by Nigeria for oil that had already been sold or stolen,” he said.

Shehu recalled that at the inception of the Buhari administration, 21 States were unable to meet their salary bills and the spectre of workers arrears had begun.

“The PDP solution was the raid of the Ecological Fund and it selectively granted N2Bn each to the PDP states. It was only aggressive borrowing by the Ministry of Finance under Dr Okonjo- Iweala that prevented Federal Government from also owing salaries. The economic wisdom of borrowing to pay recurrent bills is a questionable one, particularly as those paid would have included over 45,000 that have subsequently been removed by the Buhari-led administration as ghost workers.

“It also included the lavish costs of chartering private jets, first class travel and other wasteful acts that have been eliminated under this administration.

“To compound the problem, the government was borrowing heavily and owed contractors, and international oil companies. When this government took over we had accumulated debt back to the level it was before the Paris Club Debt forgiveness.

“All these factors were building up to Nigeria heading for a major crisis if the price of oil fell. Nigeria did not have fiscal buffers to withstand an oil shock.

“The oil shock should and could have been foreseen. When Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, crisis started, it was clear that the United States of America wanted to cut off funds to terror groups by crashing the price of oil. When America granted permission for exploration of oil on land (Shale), the warning signs were evident, but these were ignored by Nigeria’s economic managers,” Shehu said

The spokesman added: “In summary, Nigeria earned a lot of money when oil prices were high but there is nothing to show for it. Now oil prices have fallen we are suffering.

“What could they have done differently? They could have begun doing the very things that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is doing so painfully now:

“Fight corruption, sanitise the huge salary bill by eliminating payroll fraud, reduce wasteful expenses like first class travel and private jets, encourage state governments to reform their spending and build savings or investments, Increase spending on capital projects, especially on infrastructure needed to make Nigerian businesses competitive, and create jobs, block the leakages that allowed government revenues to be siphoned into private hands, Focus on key sectors ( apart from oil) that can create jobs and or generate revenue, such as agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing.”

“If these things had been done when the oil price was as high as US$120 per barrel, Nigeria would not be in the current predicament.”

In Shehu’s view, Nigeria would not have been suffering, if we had cash reserves, power, or a rail system, or good roads, or good housing. “But we don’t have money and we don’t have the projects either.

“Now that the oil has fallen below those levels, it is very difficult to do what is needed but they must be done to save Nigeria. There is no other way if we want to be honest,” he said, adding:

“If PDP were still in power they would have continued deceiving people, by borrowing to fund stealing and wastage and the problem would have simply been postponed for future generations to face.

“One of former President Jonathon’s specific boasts is that dollar under him was N180 compared to today. With such a line of argument, it is clear why we are where we are. With oil prices as high as $120, the average inflow of dollars each month was high, making it easy to support cheap dollars. However with oil price plummeting as low as $28, the fundamental laws of supply and demand dictate that the currency would need to adjust, since oil was the sole export. It is instructive to note that virtually every major oil exporter has witnessed currency adjustments with the fall in oil price.

“The Buhari administration has taken a long term strategic view of supporting a stable naira on both the supply and demand sides. President Buhari has driven Import substitution to reduce demand for dollars to buy things we can produce, thereby creating thousands of rural jobs in rice and other staples. In addition, there is a credible plan to diversify our revenue sources away from oil, with focus on export crops as well as solid minerals, with the release of US$100m fund to develop solid mineral extraction.

“President Muhammdu Buhari has a positive and prosperous vision for Nigeria. A nation in which the natural talent and hard work of the people is being supported by an enabling environment of infrastructural development and policy reforms that will develop a firm future for our nation. Nigerians are looking forward and the PDP’s lurking in the economic rear view mirror only underscores the resolve of Nigerians, that as far as the economy is concerned it is ‘never again’” Shehu said.

Published in Headliners
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