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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Expect more rains before Dec – NIMET

rainDirector of Weather Forecast Services, Nigerian Metereological Agency, NIMET, Mr. Ifeanyi Nnodu, on Wednesday in Abuja, said Nigerians should expect more rains before December.
Nnodu, who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, however, said the rains would not come with flooding.
He said that the rainy season was gradually coming to an end, adding that the rain for the remaining part of the year would be windy but without flooding.
He said that the northern part of the country would witness fewer rains than the Eastern, Western and the Southern parts.
Nnodu said the rains would be accompanied with heavy dusty winds which usually reduced visibility to pilots and might cause flight hazards.
He advised pilots to make regular use of the weather and climate forecasts released by the agency during the season.
He said: “The pattern of rain we have now is usually associated with winds.
We are not expecting rains that may lead to flooding like we had across the country in the past few months, because the rains are coming to an end and the soil is becoming dried enough to absorb more water.
“More rain is expected across the country. We are gradually coming to the end of the rainy season in the far North and it will progressively come to the Middle Belt and other parts of the country but there would be gaps in between the rains.
“Normally, the winds are accompanied with dust from the Sahara Desert which may cause airlines to delay their flights and that may have some economic effect on the airlines because there will be more flight delays and cancellations.”
He said the dusty season would be extended to January 2013.
It will be recalled that the Director-General of NIMET, Dr Anthony Anuforom, had warned Nigerians to take precautions against violent winds that might occur during the dry season due to the effects of climate change.
He cautioned people to avoid staying under trees during the period.
“We are transiting now from rainy to dry season; the kind of things we may experience are violent winds, therefore, we advise people to avoid staying under trees.
“The reason why we alert people is for them to know ahead of time and take necessary precautions.
We don’t have the ability to prevent natural disasters, but the ability to observe what the weather is and inform the people early.
“Part of the mandate of the Ministry of Aviation is safety and we, as an agency under it, have keyed into it,” Anuforom said.
He noted that forecasts by the agency if strictly adhered to could help save the situation.

Oshiomhole promotes three teachers, demotes principal

Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has ordered the immediate promotion of three teachers even as he directed the demotion of the Principal of Annunciation Catholic College Junior Secondary School over alleged incompetence.
Oshiomhole who announced this measure yesterday while on an on-the-spot assessment of the attendance and punctuality of teachers in schools at Edo Central said “it gives me some confidence to find all is not lost”.
According to the governor who gave cash gifts to some other teachers for their commitment to duty said: “you are an example of what is possible and I am proud of you. It gives me some comfort that even in the midst of this madness, there are some people who we can still be proud of, who take their responsibilities seriously. It gives me some relief. It is worrisome to find that majority of teachers are involved in late coming or absenteeism. And that is not the best we can do for our state.
“When we punish those who are guilty of late coming or absenteeism, we should reward those who are doing their job well. We have to use the carrot and stick. I am happy that we have a few of you who recognize that the work place is a serious place and you have a contract and you have a duty to service that contract”, he said.
The Governor who reiterated his belief in education remarked “we must bequeath to our children a better society and education is at the heart of our future”.
He noted that if all Nigerians work according to the rules and regulations and we give our best to the country and state, the country will grow; adding that “if we keep looking for excuses the country will keep having challenges.
“Nigeria is not perfect and it cannot be perfect if each of us do not play our part” he added.
Expressing his confidence in the system, Oshiomhole said “I am happy you give me some confidence to find that all is not lost because it hurts to find that teachers do not take their jobs seriously. Edo can’t be the same again”.
Oshiomhole said “every child may not be a graduate no matter what we do. There is no country where every person is a graduate. But every child is entitled to free qualitative education; that requires that we make the right investment in infrastructure”.
The Governor who harped on the need for teachers to take their jobs seriously said “it is important that we do not allow you to think that to be late to work is not a serious offence”.
To the principal who was demoted to a classroom teacher, Oshiomhole said “as a Principal, you never ensured that your teachers complied with the regulation. You led your teachers in coming late and we will not retain you as a Principal. We will down grade you to a classroom teacher. A leader must lead by example”.

Ref called Mikel monkey — Chelsea

Mikel Obi
The race-row that has engulfed Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg intensified further on Wednesday as two Chelsea players claimed they heard him call teammate Mikel Obi a ‘monkey’.
It has emerged that the pair of unnamed stars say this is what happened during their match with Manchester United on Sunday — but the official categorically denies making any racist comments.
Clattenburg has been accused of saying to Mikel, ‘Shut up you monkey’ as he booked him for dissent as well as calling Juan Mata a ‘Spanish t***’ in their 3-2 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Mystery had surrounded what Clattenburg actually said to Mikel – until these allegations were made Wednesday morning.
But a source close to the referee told The Sun, “He said nothing of the sort – and he will fight this all the way.
“There is a lot of noise on the pitch and the players could have easily misheard.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s race case against Clattenburg is in serious danger of collapsing completely after it emerged that the club have employed independent lawyers to investigate the claims of their players.
The club are expected to conclude their internal investigation into allegations that the referee racially abused Mikel and swore at Juan Mata.
The external lawyers will then provide Chelsea with legal opinion as to whether their case will be successful. Despite issues over the available evidence, Chelsea remained robust.
Chelsea will proceed with the case against the referee only if they are satisfied the claims made by the players after the game will stand up to the FA’s burden of proof.
It means they will need to satisfy an FA commission ‘on the balance of probability’, but they also have to negotiate the complexities of the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into the affair.
If the case breaks down, it will reflect badly on Chelsea, who made their claims of inappropriate language against Clattenburg in a strongly worded statement on Sunday, two hours after the final whistle.
Earlier it emerged that the club and Mikel could be charged with misconduct by the FA after the Nigerian had to be restrained from manhandling the referee in his dressing room following the clash.
Clattenburg did not mention the behaviour in the ‘extraordinary incident’ report he filed on Sunday, but he now has to make a detailed statement to the FA. Clattenburg’s assistants, Michael McDonough and Simon Long, and fourth official Mike Jones have filed reports in which they say they did not hear the Durham official say anything inappropriate.
All four were in the referee’s room when Mikel burst in with Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay and manager Roberto Di Matteo.
Mikel’s aggressive manner, along with the behaviour of other Chelsea officials, raises the possibility of FA action against the club.
Both Mikel and Mata claim they have a witness to Clattenburg’s comments, and PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor, who has assessed both complaints, told Sportsmail the pair have his ‘100 per cent support’.

Fashola lauds women’s resurgence in politics

GOVERNOR Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has extolled the virtues and the spirit of the Nigerian woman and the emerging resurgence of women in the country’s politics.
Fashola spoke at the 12th yearly conference of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), held at the Convention Centre of Eko Hotel, Lagos.
He described the resurgence of women in politics as a welcome development because without women, the journey would have been more different.
Reflecting on the successful careers of the last two recipients of COWLSO’s Outstanding Women of the Year Award recipients,  Ibukun Awosika and Justice Mariam Aloma-Muktar, Fashola said they were great achievers and leaders indeed; women who had moved their careers to greater heights in the service of God and humanity.
The result was that Awosika was elected as the first woman to be on the Board of First Bank of Nigeria Plc while Justice Aloma-Muktar was the first female to rise to the post of Chief Justice of the Federation.
“It may interest you to know that these two women have used the award to achieve greater responsibilities in their service to our great nation’, Fashola said.
He also used the occasion to salute the courage of women in sports, especially the paralympic women who did the nation proud recently by winning nine medals out of the 13 medals Nigeria won at the Olympics.
For her part, the wife of the Lagos State governor, Emmanuella Fashola, said the theme of this year’s conference: ‘Women as Leaders’ was most apt because the contributions of women are vital to the achievement of the goals that women desire.

'You too can break the mould,' Williams sisters tell Nigerians

By Ayo Ositelu 

BEFORE going ahead to conduct a well-attended tennis clinic at the Ikoyi Club 1938 on Wednesday, the Williams sisters told a crowded press conference held at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, that there was no magic surrounding their storied success story, and that she believed that Nigerians have a right to dream big las she and her sister did, and follow their dreams with the absolutely necessary ideals of hard work, sacrifices, self-denials, will-to-succeed, and an indomitable spirit never to feel discouraged when things are not going well at the early stages.
Speaking on behalf of her elder sister and herself (with the willing permission of “big sister” Venus, of course), Serena said: “Let no one tell you that you’re not good enough, or that you do not have what it takes to succeed in whatever discipline, not only sports, that is your choice.”
Admitting that they took their never-say-fail attitude from their parents (Richard and Oracene), Venus added, “without the doggedness of our parents who turned deaf ears to many skeptics who said there was no way we could make it in a white-dominated sport, especially with our dad’s single-minded approach to training us, we would not be where we are today.”
But the sisters did not argue when one of the accredited reporters remarked that they (the sisters) also “must have been good and serious-minded children themselves to have stuck to what their parents imbibed in them i.e. personal discipline, hard work, prayerfulness, determination to give it their all, and follow the dictates of their parents.”
Commending the appropriateness of the theme “Breaking the Mould” by Connect Marketing, the organizers of the much-appreciated high-profile visit of the celebrity sisters to Nigeria by the generality of Nigerians at home in Nigeria, and in diaspora, Venus had some words of advice to the captive audience from the Nigeria media, and the world press, for onward delivery to their readers, particularly Nigerian children and their parents. “For anyone to succeed in any endeavour, one has to love what one does. Added to what our parents have done for us, the key is that we love what we do, and once you love what you do, and you’re not lacking in self-belief, the sky is the limit to what you can achieve.”
On Serena’s part, the reigning Wimbledon, US Open, Olympics, and season-ending WTA championships champion contributed her view, “The best compliment we could get and cherish for our visit to Nigeria, is that young kids have chosen to play tennis because of our visit. Obviously, you can’t beat that… And talking about “breaking the mould” which my big sister alluded to, it is true that Jehovah God has used us (my sister and I) to demonstrate the fact that, you can succeed in spite of all kinds of hurdles and barriers… Once you put your mind to it, you can achieve everything you set your goals for.”
“You have everything you need to succeed, particularly the weather which is absolutely tennis-friendly… It is true that my sister and I faced a lot of difficulties in the beginning, but with what we have been able to achieve, with the help of Jehovah God, all the hurdles we had to scale over, are truly worth it.”
For the records, no active player anywhere in the world is more successful than the amazing sisters, with Venus having won 44 WTA titles including seven Grand Slam Singles titles, and an attendant $30 million in just prize money, coupled with her younger sister’s 46 WTA titles, and at least $42 million in prize money.
But in spite of all that success, the sisters are not showing any signs of let up. While Venus not-too-long ago, just came back on the WTA tour after a career-threatening ailment, she won her first title in a WTA Vienna event two weeks ago, her first title in two years, while her younger sister was preparing for the year-ending WTA championships in Istanbul, Turkey, from where she flew direct to Nigeria less than 48 hours after demolishing the topmost seven players in the world to win a third WTA Championships after earlier winning the prestigious title in 2001 and 2009.
For how much longer can the Williams sisters continue to compete with the world’s best, who are younger, a reporter wanted to know.
With one voice, both sisters answered, “we have our mind on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and we are not planning on just to be part of the sporting world’s biggest spectacle, we plan to go there with the purpose of winning for our country.
And when another reporter wanted to know the “real truth” about which is their country (from Badagry, may be), given the fact that their departed sister, was named Yetunde, Serena answered, without mincing words, “our country is the United States, and we are always proud to represent our country. Our mother named our sister Yetunde after her friend, a Nigerian student who was her friend in their college (university) days in California.”
Will it be the sisters be visiting Nigeria? “You can be sure of that,” replied Venus. “We love Nigeria, we really do, and we’re so glad we have so many fans in Nigeria.”
The sisters will face each other at an Exhibition Match at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Race-Course, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, on Friday, commencing strictly at 10.00 a.m.

Akwa Ibom deputy governor quits

EMMA UNA/Calabar
Mr Nsima Ekere, the Akwa Ibom State Deputy Governor resigned from his post on Wednesday afternoon following political intrigues and frosty relationship with his principal, Chief Godswill Akpabio, the governor.
Mr Idongesit Nna, the Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor in a press statement this afternoon said Mr Ekere resigned from his post at about 3 p.m.
The press statement cited “personal reasons” for the action of the deputy governor but reliable sources in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, southsouth Nigeria, confirmed to P.M.NEWS that Mr Ekere resigned to save his neck and political career which was about to be messed up as he was scheduled to be impeached on Thursday by the State House of Assembly.
“There are lots of political intrigues playing out here in Uyo especially with 2015 in view which Mr Ekere who is from Eket Zone, the zone scheduled to produce the next governor is interested in,” a source close to government in Uyo told P.M.NEWS.
Akpabio, our source said, is not keen on handing over to Ekere whom he sees as too bright and over ambitious. Instead, he prefers to handover to either the Commissioner for Finance, Mr Albert Akpan who is from the same Eket zone or the Secretary to Government, Umanah Umanah.
The planned impeachment was meant to blight the chances of Nsima from seeking political office in the state.
Ekere who contested the governorship primaries in 2007 with Akpabio came on board in Febrauary 2011 during Akpabio’s second tenure after Joseph Ekpo Otu, who served as Akpabio’s deputy during his first term, was shoved aside following irreconcilable political differences with Akpabio.
Though Ekpo was not removed the way Ekere is being shoved aside in less than two years, he was seldom assigned any responsibility while he stayed in office.
It was in the dying days of the first tenure that Ekere was brought in to contest along side Akpabio as the running mate.
The telephone lines of Ekere were switched off as well as those of Idongesit Nna, his press secretary. There is still no word yet from the Akpabio on the resignation of his deputy as well as from the House of Assembly.

How govt will deal with oil subsidy thieves, by Jonathan

AMID widespread pessimism that the Federal Government will only play politics with the oil subsidy probe reports that indicted some prominent Nigerians, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday reiterated the commitment of his administration to sternly punish the culprits.
The President, speaking in Abuja at the launching of a book written by the Finance Minister who also coordinates the Economy Dr. Okonjo Iweala, said government was pursuing all legal means to ensure that all those who have done business with and defrauded it in any way would be made to pay back and punished mercilessly.
His words: “We are going after all those who committed various economic crimes and corrupt practices with impunity. As you may be aware government is taking every legal measure to ensure that all those who defraud government in the petroleum subsidy scheme are made to pay back the stolen funds and also are severely punished.”
Jonathan, represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo, said the book entitled, “Reforming the Unreformable. Lessons from Nigeria,” fills the void created by the dearth of literature and good systematic account of the reforms and institutional changes that have occurred in our country since the beginning of our democratic journey in 1999.
“Some hear of the debt relief from the Paris Club, Excess crude account and other such economic measures or initiative of government from newspapers but here is a concise well organized explanations to the policy measures without technical jargons.”
The occasion which attracted ministers, Governors, Heads of Government, the diplomatic corps and Captains of Industry, according to Jonathan, is centered on the theme of hope, given that “many people claimed that the political and economic institutions of this country can never be reformed” but “the hope that Nigeria can grow to become one of the world’s most dynamic economies continue to spur us on above the criticisms.”
Reviewing the book, Paul Collier, Professor of Economics at Oxford University, said Nigeria’s over-dependence on oil does not help the economy because of international market price uncertainty and the fact that it is a diminishing product.
This depletion and price volatility makes government’s revenue also volatile. “And if there is a political will to correct, then there must be a long term strategy that would make room for a replacement for the depleting assert,” Collier said.
Anambra State Governor Peter Obi who also reviewed the book noted the clamour for increased wages by university teachers whereas the standard of education has continued to fall.
“Minimum wage should translate to minimum productivity… The culture of sharing every money gotten is a wrong concept, because the idea behind the Excess Crude Account has saved the country from total collapse”.
South Africa’s Finance minister Pravin Gordhan said it was a document that countries in the continent should use as a guide towards economic reforms as “it provides tremendous inspiration for recognising our challenges and dealing with it, as well as address the structural challenges and deal with them accordingly as we face them.”

$480m Halliburton Scandal: Investigators Uncover Links To 2007 PDP Campaign Funding

As pressure continues to mount on President Goodluck Jonathan to re-open the Halliburton bribe scandal, indications have emerged that the money was funnelled into the PDP’s political machinery towards the 2007 elections.

This startling revelation was made by one of the suspects fingered in the mess even as he  maintained that the money was not meant to bribe anybody.
The source revealed that one top government functionary was approached by a former head of state to assist the PDP in sourcing for money for campaign in 2007.
Consequently, the source disclosed that Halliburton, which was soliciting for the award of the multi-million naira contract for the construction of the second phase of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), project in Rivers State, was approached by Julius Berger Nigeria (JBN) Plc, which on its own part, bluntly refused to contribute to the campaign funds of the ruling party.
The source added that because of Halliburton’s determination to get the contract, it later released the money through JBN. Bodunde Adeyemi, an aide to then President Olusegun Obasanjo, was picked as the go-between but a former chairman of the party (name withheld), has since denied ever receiving such money, insisting he wasn’t in the know of what was going on.
Following the US government’s insistence that all those fingered in the Halliburton scandal must be made to face the wrath of the law, President Goodluck Jonathan is at cross-roads as those involved, are claiming that it was through the Halliburton money that he came to power with his predecessor, Late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

Bisi Ibidapo-Obe pregnancy mess: Lover kicks her out of Lagos duplex, retrieves Range Rover

It is surely not the best of times for star actress, Bisi Ibidapo Obe. The actress who is wallowing in deep mess over her controversial pregnancy, has relocated to Ghana where she’s said to be hibernating pending delivery of her baby.
According to an industry source, the actress decided to move out of Nigeria some days back after her UK based lover, Lopez, who is said to be footing the bill of her Magodo Lagos duplex, breezed into the country and kicked her out of the house.
He was said to have taken the decision after it became obvious that he was not responsible for Bisi’s pregnancy. Lopez returned to the UK after locking the house and withdrawing the Range Rover he bought for her, leaving behind her C-Class Mercedes Benz and Honda Element she acquired a while back. (Though a close to the actress denied the house was locked by Lopez but confirmed Bisi went to Ghana)

Marijuana is healthy, but cigarettes kill – Seun Kuti

by Rachel Ogbu
Seun Kuti, son of foremost afro-beat crooner, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who died 15 years ago has condemned the non-legalizing of Marijuana like cigarette, suggesting that the position of the law on the two products was illogical.
Seun usurped the avenue after his stage performance reliving his father’s style at the 2012 edition of the Felabration concert in Afrika Shrine to speak on his support for weed smoking.
In his submission, the favored cigarette has lethal consequences, while the legally opposed marijuana was medicinal and good for human consumption. But, Seun said, the killing cigarette was favored because it was to the white man’s profit, stressing that marijuana would make black countries richer than the white if legalized. His argument is an absolute faces off with cigarette consumption while beckoning marijuana to the spotlight.
Proclaiming this position through lyrics of songs, Seun damned black politicians for taking the white’s advice against its own natural produce of ‘weed’, which he said was good after all, and accepting the white’s product which truncates lives.
“This song is about the good leaf; ewe rere. Me I nor dey say make Government legalize Igbo o. If Government like, them legalize am. If Government like, them nor legalize am. I’m smoking it mehn!” Seun introduced.
Continued Seun, “Our politicians nor get sense. Because the white man talk say Igbo nor good, them follow dem talk say Igbho nor good. But now, in the United States of America, dem dey smoke Igbho legally”.
Seun suggested that the west advised the black politicians against legalizing marijuana because they knew it would make the black countries rich.
“Igbo doesn’t kill, but cigarette dey kill. Because cigar na white man’s business, as far as you write ‘Smokers are liable to die young’, it becomes legal.
“Why not also put Igbo in a box and write Igbo smokers are liable to go crazy young?”, he quipped.
Seun encouraged further in songs; “plant am make e grow… e good, e good, e goodu well well… plant am make e grow”.
In an interview, Seun reiterated this position stating that smoking marijuana was ‘medicinal’. Although Seun warned that over sniffing of weed could intoxicate or drive a subject crazy, he stood in his submission that modest weed smoking was better than cigarette bearing its deadly outcome.
“Marijuana is medical, and I feel Cigarette is selling legally because it is white man’s business. It is killing millions of people everyday.. Igbo is not killing anybody.
“Marijuana is not only for smoking. It’s used for a lot of things; you can make clothes, you can drink tea, it is good, it is medicinal, it helps your appetite, they give it to cancer patients.. a lot of benefits”, he explained.


Dear Prof,
I use this opportunity to thank you for inviting me to be part of this laudable Forum/Movement and especially  to be in the midst of eminent and accomplished sons and daughters of Benin that have made their enviable marks in their various chosen fields.

I am sending this message to you and must state that the opinions expressed here are personal, based on my political experience, haven served in various national committees/assignments for my Party in recent times.
The political history of our country should not be lost on us all, as we go into formation of this forum as a pressure group for our people.

In the 50's and the first Republic, Parties were formed along regional lines.The reason we had AG (West), NPC (North) and NCNC (East). They were headed by regional Leaders - Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello and Nnamdi Azikiwe.  They championed the interest of their people.
As a result of our disenchantment with the AG Western region, the Midwest Region was created.
We had political leadership in Humphrey Omo-Osagie championing the Benin agenda using the Otu Edo Movement within the dominant NCNC party to demand for the rights in political, economic and infrastructural developments for the Benins.
The fact cannot be controverted that the Benins got a fair share of our agitations at the time, with the royal blessings of Oba Akenzua of blessed memory.
What do we have now? This is the question and puzzle this Forum should try and find solutions to.

When the third Republic was being midwifed, I am informed that the then Chief of General Staff (CGS), Admiral Mike Akhigbe, invited the Edo political three musketeers - Gen. Ogbemudia, Chief Anenih and Chief Igbinedion to be at the fore front of the political party formation in the State.
This gave rise to the birth of PDP as a political party in the State. However, two political leaders, decided to go for the Governorship position and the financial benefits in politics, while the third decided to go for the political leadership of the Party at both state and national levels. What do we have now? PDP is being led by a leader from a minority group and using the position for political and economic empowerment/development of his people. Why do we complain?

In an attempt to break away from the PDP political leadership in 2007, our own son Lucky Igbinedion, drafted his political cronies to form a party that he, up till the present time, is struggling to reclaim. The formation of the Party was a half measure effort. When our sons were in the fore front as governorship candidates in the same Party, the incumbent Governor was drafted into the Party to upstage our sons.
The incumbent Governor, at the early stage of his administration and up till not too long ago, will always stress the fact that, he was voted into office by the Benins (Edo South). The leadership of our son's Party is now firmly in the grip of another ethnic minority group.
An objective research/analysis of the political situation in the State is that, political and economic empowerment of this ethnic minority group are being executed by the same person we, the Benins installed as Governor, while offering to some us (Benins) mere political patronages as he deems fit under the table.
The vital question to be asked here is, if  our political leadership in this present political dispensation has and will be in a position to properly represent us and negotiate from a position of advantage for us Benins. The answer, I must confess, is NO.
The proliferation of pressure groups, as it is happening today in Edo South, will not yield the type of result we should look forward to.
In political negotiations and pressure group formation, the purpose is to lay all cards on the table and negotiate and not being offered patronages under the table. The group with the political leadership and advantage will always triumph and not the group with mere size and population.

We should accept our political naivety and short sightedness and embrace the basic fact that, without an identifiable political party platform and structure to operate with, our political, economic empowerment and emancipation will remain a mirage.
We should also accept the fact that, without political empowerment and support to our sons and daughters in politics, economic empowerment of our people cannot be enhanced.. We will therefore continue to accept mere political crumbs under the magnanimity of the political minority groups that are the leaders of the dominant political parties.

The tasks before this forum are to:-
(i)   ascertain if we can take leadership of one of the existing dominant political party structure in the state and how to go about it.
(ii)  if item (i) is not feasible, the forum should identify an existing political party to operate with and take control and leadership of the party.
(iii) identify those in the forum that are politically inclined and form a political committee or group within the forum to chart the way forward to achieving (ii) above as a political agenda.
(iv) set up a finance committee to ensure funds are available to the forum to propagate the agenda of the forum and our people.
(v)  set up an economic committee to advance our economic agenda for our people.
(vi) set up a strategy/development committee to promote our culture at home and in the diaspora and give publicity to our activities.
The list of committees is not exhaustive, but these are personal suggestions.

In conclusion, I am not inviting those who are apolitical to come into politics, but stating that one cannot remain apolitical and pursue an agenda for our people successfully.
Secondly, the seeming failure of our political leadership may have prompted the coming together of this group. There are other political pressure groups set up by our sons and daughters presently. However, most of these groups have been infiltrated by the dominant parties controlled by other ethnic minority groups at inception, through funding. The forum should avoid this sort of situation at inception and avoid inclination or leaning to a political party for now.
Thirdly, we should accept the basic fact that, without the Benins in political leadership of any political party, our quest for political and economic empowerment and emancipation will not be fully achieved.

I thank you for your efforts and my apologies for not being present at this first meeting of this forum.

My warm regards and happy deliberations.
Eddy Ogunbor.

 N/B:- This memo was written to a Forum, yet to be established in Benin City, in January 2012, during its innaugural meeting. I was invited to the meeting as a prospective member. However, I was unavoidably absent due to other engagements at the time, outside Benin. This formed my thoughts in proposing some areas the Forum should focus on as a pressure group for our poeple, the Benins.

Jonathan appoints Power Minister, reshuffles cabinet

Goodluck Jonathan
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan
Godswill Orubebe has been appointed the Minister of Power. Until his appointment, he was the Minister of the Niger-Delta.
Reuben Abati, the president’s spokesman said this on Wednesday.
The president also made a minor change to his cabinet by swapping the Minister of State for Power, Gauis Dickson, with the Minister of State for Niger Delta, Zainab Kuchi. The change takes effect from next week.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala donates proceeds from her book to flood victims

The Coordinating Minister of Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has pledged to donate some part of the proceeds from the public presentation of her book, Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria, to flood victims across the country.
The minister’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and communication, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu in a statement quoted Dr. Ojkonjo-Iweala as saying that she was making the donation because “their plight reminds us that the work of improving the lives of our people is a never ending one”. The amount was, however, not stated.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala said time was ripe for the de-politicisation of oil price benchmarking, while calling for the establishment of a body of experts to determine the appropriate oil price benchmark in the formulation of national budgets, observing that the strategy has worked successfully for Chile which earns huge revenues from copper.
Those present at the book launch include: Vice President Namadi Sambo; Chief Emeka Anyaoku; Governor Peter Obi, Anambra State; Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa; Chief Sunny Odogwu; Publisher, Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Sam Amuka; Vanguard Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye; Ministers of Labour, Chief Emeka Wogu; Works, Mike Onolememen; Commerce, Dr. Segun Aganga; Minister of State FCT, Olajumoke Akinjide and Alh. Aliko Dangote.

Armed robbers kill car dealer in Onitsha

Four armed men on Monday robbed and killed a middle-aged car dealer, Chief Emeka Ekwerendu, at Modebe Avenue Junction in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra.
The Divisional Police Officer at the Central Police Station, Onitsha, Mr. Temitope Fahugbe, confirmed the incident to newsmen, adding that he had not yet received details of the incidence.
An eyewitness said the late Ekwerendu was shot by a four-man armed robbery gang at about 8:30 a.m. a few metres away from the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Odoakpu, Onitsha.
“The gang operating in a light green Toyota Siena without a vehicle number plate trailed their victim from a primary school close to the church, after he had dropped his children at school.
“As he was driving out in his black Land Cruiser SUV, he was shot dead and an undisclosed amount of money taken from the boot of his vehicle.
“The gang armed with four Ak-47 rifle shot sporadically into the air to scare the people away as they escape he said.

NBA faults Constitutional Ammendment Course

The Nigerian Bar association (NBA) has faulted the process implemented by the National Assembly to review the Constitution.

The NBA’s President, Chief OkeyWali (SAN), while inaugurating the NBA Committee on Constitutional Review and Law Reform and the NBA Rule of Law Action group committee in Abuja yesterday said, they have serious issues with the process adopted by National Assembly to review the constitution.

He said there is no clear agenda or known methodology in the ongoing process.

Besides, he said the November 10 public hearing session  scheduled to hold simultaneously in the 360 federal constituencies as proposed by the House of Representatives, cannot produce anything reasonable  to the amendment of the 1999 constitution.

“We have decided to attend but without prejudice to our reservations on the inadequacy of the process and on any attempt to any claim to legitimacy if Nigerians are not given the opportunities in the future to effectively participate in the amendment of the 1999 constitution.”

“We will continue to call for referendum, at the final stage of the process, thereby giving the average Nigerian a say in the amendment”, he said, adding also that, “Only then could any legitimate claim be made to it being a constitution by we, the people of Nigeria”.

According to him, NBA believes that the 1999 constitution, as it is, cannot sustain the present democracy in the country, “the 1999 constitution contains good provisions however, it also contain weak and obnoxious provisions and equally admits of several lacunae. Above all, the constitution has legitimacy burden.”

Wali said the NBA knows that putting in place an appropriate legal framework is a vital part of sustaining reforms and economic development and charged the committee to formulate new ones that will aid economic development as well as identify laws that have become outdated and formulate new ones that will aid economic development.

The Charles Edosomwan’s (SAN) led  twelve-member committee, is expected to look at the devolution of power, strengthening institutions that consolidate democracy, judicial and justice sector reforms, electoral systems reform, local government system reforms, state creation, federalism, socio-economic rights, regionalism, fiscal federalism and supremacy of the constitution.

Ayobami Oyalowo: Nigeria’s DemoCRAZY… And the madness continues

“Remember, democracy never last long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.” -John Adams.

Nigeria is a country of absurdity. The more you look, the less you are likely to see. Governance is shrouded in mystery & secrecy. Everything, including simple issue like salaries and emoluments of elected & appointed public officials is shrouded in mystery, in the guise of public interest or national security. Health and well-being of public official is always shrouded in mystery, leaving room for speculations, innuendoes and rumour mongering.
Nothing is ever as it appears in Nigeria. Simple informations that ought to be available for the benefit of the people are often treated like classified information by public officials, thereby orchestrating monumental paucity of necessary information and statistics which in turn make it impossible for scholars, researchers or interested citizens, to make informed and accurate opinion about most if not all national happenstance.
The general hoarding of information in Nigeria is responsible for several scams and politically motivated financial heists of unimaginable proportion. For instance, the approved Budget for the year 2011 was N4,971,881,652,689 as passed by the national assembly, N250billon was budgeted for as fuel subsidy, but as at today nobody knows the exact figure spent on that cesspool of corruption aptly nicknamed fuel subsidy scam 2011. Same problem is noticeable in the administration or pension in Nigeria. Billions have either been mismanaged or outrightly stolen but as I type, nobody can confidently give accurate figure nor does any Nigerian have the foggiest idea of what transpired and what have been done to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice and the reoccurrence is forestalled.
While information has consistently been hoarded by the Nigerian government officials to aid and abet them in their criminal plundering of the Nigerian commonwealth, another noticeable conundrum is the absence of strong institutions to ensure that things are properly done and in case of any proven laxity to correct and if possible sanctions errants. Nigeria currently operates like a jungle where the stronger can get away with any offense, no matter the magnitude, it is a known facts that those who have been accused of stealing billions are either friends of the government or are even members of the cabinet. For instance, the current senate of Nigeria has a huge number of former governors, majority of whom have been accused and even tried of monumental mismanagement of funds belonging to their states, although not any of those cases have been diligently pursued, in fact a few of them are just free on bail.
It is a well know fact that most ministries, departments and agencies (MDA) of the federal and even state government have a bloated and poorly executed budget. In the recent past, a few ministers, some permanents secretaries and other seniors officials have been tried and found guilty of falsification of budget figures, just to accommodate enough money for sleaze and outright embezzlement. This has led to situations where some item have been consistently budgeted for year upon year, yet nobody have ever been arrested nor found guilty of falsification and embezzlement. For instance Benin-Ore expressway have been consistently budgeted for, for several years, yet not only has the road not being fixed, it stands as a constant death traps to hapless Nigerians who ply that road daily.
A democracy is supposedly a government put in place by the people to cater to the need and welfare of both the rich and poor, the strong and weak, the secure and the vulnerable members of the society. But the Nigerian brand of democracy is a queer one. It is a democracy bereft of any scientific analysis.
For instance, governors who came into government as average men, becomes overnight multimillionaires and rather than calling them to account, such men either become senator or ministers and “power brokers”. Elections are supposed to be a time when ordinary citizens either reward good perfomance or or punish racalcitrance & irreponsibilty in leadership. But in Nigeria, elections are generally a mere charade. People who wish to serve, will stop at nothing to win elections, even to the point of murder, all in the name service.
The reason for the above is not farfetched. Winning an elective position in Nigeria automatically translate to a positive change in financial fortune of the winner. In fact the common people derides anyone who leaves public office and does not have a fleet of cars, palatial mansions scattered allover the country and at times, choice places all over the world. This change in financial and pecuniary fortune has made a mess of commonsense in Nigeria.
Those in power, either by election or appointment, becomes alienated from reality. They talk down on those on whose back they rode to power. The view of the ordinary citizens never counts anymore, since the overlords in power have arrogated to themselves power of the immortals, who knows better and should deciders for lesser mortals, not minding the fact that those lesser mortals were the donkeys whom the politicians rode unto power.
The mismanagement and outright greed of the rascals with state powers have seen several abandoned projects, and this present government in Nigeria has defined a new low in kleptomania and shameless embezzlement of public funds and as usual most law abiding citizens wither do not know or do not care what happens to the Nigerian commonwealth. In the ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs, for instance, three phantom projects were executed in the last year budget and as usual no many Nigeria, knew, nor raise an eyebrow. The phantom projects are:
1. Contract for the canalization of Odoubou-Bololou creek project-Ogbaba-Gbene, Burutu Local Governmet for the sum of N1,259billion.
2. Contract for Land reclamation shoreline protection at Ogbobagbene for the sum of N2, 431
3. Contract for canalization training of Foupolo -Bibu Ndoro Creek project -Burutu for the sum of N370
These projects above are phantom and nonexistent, yet the money involved have been fully paid by the ministry of finance.
It is very clear from the forgoing that top level secrecy is constantly being maintained by those in the government of Nigeria, presumably because they are not only greedy and corrupt thieves, they also have no interest of the masses at heart. A case in point of their selfishness is the handling of the accident of Pilot Suntai, who have been flown to Germany for treatment, while his aides who were with him in the ill fated plane crash are being treated in the national hospital Abuja and you wonder whether the lives of those aides are less important than the life of the governor.
The government of Nigeria will remain a kind of a secret cult as long as graft and sleaze is the sole purpose and main reason of those who either contest elections or were appointed into political position.
As the madness continue and the greed of those in power thrives and fester, it is obvious that secrecy will remain the watchword of the government but as John Adams said in the quote above, I hope Nigerian rulers wake up and smell the coffee so that the young Nigerian democracy do not fade off. The amount of sleaze and greed is monumental, but equally devastating is the cover ups, in the name of secrecy and national security. As at today, no ordinary Nigerian knows how much as been expended in the current year’s budget, meanwhile they are already appropriating another budget for next Year 2013.
2015 is another year for Nigerian citizens to make a statement and free themselves from the shackles of ruling greedy fiefdom, but if the apathy, docility and outright political illiteracy among the teeming populace continues and the madness in government circles thrives unabated…… I fear if there would be a 2015…… But…..

Nigeria Approves Siemens, Korea Electric Power Grid Bids

Engineers Inspect Supergrid
Nigeria approved bids from companies including Siemens AG (SIE) and Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEP) for 10 state-owned power distribution companies, marking the end of a five-year privatization process.
The successful bids were worth more than $1.3 billion, the Abuja-based National Council on Privatization headed by Vice President Namadi Sambo said in an e-mail yesterday. Siemens led a group of four companies that won with a $135 million bid for the Eko Distribution Co., and Korea Electric headed the winning offer for the grid in the Ikeja region of Lagos, it said.
Buyers are required to provide bank guarantees “for 15 percent of the transaction value within 15 days of notification from the Bureau of Public Enterpirses,” the council said in the statement. Payment should be completed within six months, it said.
Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, is selling majority stakes in power plants and letting private investors buy as much as 60 percent of 11 distribution companies spun out of the former state-owned utility as it seeks private investment to curb power shortages. Blackouts are a daily occurrence in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 160 million people. Demand for electricity in Nigeria is almost double the supply of about 4,000 megawatts and the government plans to boost output to 14,019 megawatts by 2013.

Structural Reforms

“This is an important step forward and probably the main area where the outlook for structural reforms is promising,” Samir Gadio, a London-based emerging markets strategist at Standard Bank Group Ltd., said today in an e-mailed response to questions. “What is encouraging is that the authorities have realized over time that the power sector would not be qualitatively reformed as long as a public entity remained the main player.”
Bids worth more than $700 million for five power plants were also approved by the privatization council, after the winners were announced on Sept. 25.
Other successful bids for power grids confirmed by the council were by companies including Meralco Industrial Engineering Services Corp., Aurecon Australia Group Ltd. and Copperbelt Energy Corp., Calcutta Electric Supply Corp. and Turkey’s Kayseri & Civari Elektrik TAS.

Group in Lagos organises rally for sovereignty of Biafra

Members of a group, the Biafra Zionist Movement (BZM), yesterday organised a peaceful rally in Lagos.
They said it was in lieu of their planned declaration of the Sovereign State of Biafra next Monday. The rally, tagged: Redemption at last, was held at Ladipo Oshodi. It lasted for about three hours. Scores of youths, especially Igbo, joined the rally.
They carried the flag of the defunct Republic of Biafra and the national flags of the United States of America, Israel and France.
The Biafra Republic agitators said they would also protest “Islamic banking, economic system, marginalisation of Biafra, lack of adequate security of life and property as well as neglect of infrastructure in the area”.
As early as 9am, the demonstrators were at the venue, chanting songs, such as The Elephant of Biafra; We’re marching to the promise land of Biafra.
Some of the demonstrators told The Nation that they had the backing of the other countries whose flags they were carrying.
According to them, they are tired of the neglect of the Oji Power Dam and River Niger Bridge, a lack of an international airport in the East, the neglect of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, the Enugu-Abakaliki Expressway and the killings of their people in the North by Boko Haram, among others.
Speaking with The Nation, leader of the demonstrators, Mr. Kingsley Anyaegbunam, said: “The Biafran journey started since early 1967 by our leader, the late Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu. Though he was unable to actualise his dreams, some other people have taken up the challenge. We have the support of other countries, such as Israel and America.
“We are tired of this failed country, with countless promises. We are no longer waiting for them. November 5 is the day of the official declaration, because we need to be independent as quickly as possible.”
Another member of the group, Comrade Emeka Onwane said: “Benjamin Onwunka, our leader, resides in London, but he came to Nigeria because of this Biafran freedom we are talking about. He has participated in various rallies and campaigns.
“The essence of this rally is to mobilise the Igbo, who are not aware of the Biafran struggle. We want them to know there will be freedom for us soon. We want them to join in the struggle because what we are talking about is not one man’s race. The sky is our starting point.”
One of the participants, Chidi Obi said: “This dream cannot be actualised without the full support of the people. We need to join hands to make our peaceful state a reality. The state, which has promised to be a state of milk and honey, is the right of every Igbo man, woman and their children.”

Keshi invites 24 home-based players for Venezuela friendly

Stephen Keshi, coach of the Super Eagles, has released a list of 24 home-based players for the friendly match against Venezuela on November 14. The game against the South Americans, which will be played in Miami, USA, is one of the matches lined up, as he prepares his team for the Africa Cup of Nations next January.
The invited players, have been told by the team secretary, Dayo Enebi Achor, to report to their Bolton White Apartment camp by Sunday, with their travelling documents.
Full list of invited players:
Goalkeepers: Agbim Chigozie (Warri Wolves) Daniel Akpeyi (Heartland).
Defenders: Oboabona Godfrey (Sunshine Stars) Kwambe Solomon (Sunshine Stars) Azubuike Egwueke( Warri Wolves) Zango Umar (Kano Pillars) Papa Idris( Kano Pillars) Benjamin Francis (Heartland) Udoh Kingsley( Heartland) Solomon Yaya ( Kwara United) Ugwu Uwadiegwu(Enyimba)
Midfielders and Strikers : Ejike Uzoenyi(Rangers) Emeka Eze(Rangers)Mba Sunday (Warri Wolves) Henry Uche (Enyimba) Onduku Gomo ( Sharks) Ubale Mannir(Kano Pillars)Reuben Gabriel (Kano Pillars) Gambo Mohammed (Kamo Pillars) Sani Sanusi (Gombe United) Anthony Okputu (Lobi Stars) Emmanuel Ajia (Lobi Stars)Azubuike Okey (Niger Tornadoes) Nwachukwu Obinna ( Heartland)

Hurricane Sandy aftermath may Hit Lagos

The Lagos State Commissioner for Waterfront Development and Infrastructure, Mr. Adesegun Oniru has called on Lagosians to be vigilant as the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy could affect Lagos.
Hurricane Sandy, the coastal storm which affected the United States eastern board earlier this week, damaging billions of dollars in property, also caused power outages in some suburbs on the Eastern seaboard. The entire New York subway system was badly damaged, and flooded. The New York Stock Exchange was closed for the longest period in American history.
Now, the Lagos State government is projecting a ripple effect anywhere from 7 to 14 days.
Oniru said, “This warning is not to cause panic in Lagos, but to place us all on alert that if we notice anything unusual in our coast lines, we should not go near the waters but rather call government attention.
“This storm has hit the Caribbean and is now in USA. We always get a ripple effect of such happening in Lagos.
“This wind started in Africa, went west gathering more wind and later turning to hurricane. We expect a splash back effect. It could be on our coast lines and shore lines, it could be more than that. And it may not happen at all. Everybody must be vigilant. Let us be careful around our oceans and lagoons.”

Taraba crash: How Governor Suntai ignored hired pilot’s warning

It emerged on Tuesday that the recent crash of Cessna 208, a private jet piloted by Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State could have been prevented if he had heeded the professional advice of his hired pilot not to fly to Yola airport at sunset.
According to reports, the hired pilot had earlier warned the governor against flying to the airport when it was obvious that they could not meet with the visual flight mandatory for that type of aircraft which is not in the instrument flight category.
Nigerian Tribune learnt that this advice was allegedly jettisoned by Governor Suntai who was said to have immediately taken over the cockpit and embarked on the ill-fated journey with the said pilot refusing to join the flight because of the obvious risk.
Yola airport is not in the category of airports where flights can be operated for 24 hours because it is not well-equipped which makes it a no go area after 6.00 p.m.
Only Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt are on 24-hour flight operations.
According to the country’s aviation policy, small jets like the Cessna plane Governor Suntai piloted on the day in question was only allowed to fly based on visuals from morning to 6.00 p.m. daily.
And once the sun sets, it is always difficult to fly smaller aircraft like the governor’s plane.
The governor, who has since been flown to Germany for adequate treatment in view of the injury he sustained in the crash, obtained a private pilot licence from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, which allows him to fly himself.
The ill-fated plane which departed Jalingo, Taraba State, for Yola, Adamawa State, was reported to have lost contact with the Yola Control Tower (1720Z) and field in sight at 38 miles, estimating landing at 1730Z before crashing

Barbaric Bombers By Hannatu Musawa

Hannatu Musawa

Another day, another church bombing! The more frequent these mass murders become, the more sick one feels to the pit of their stomach. How anyone can justify the cold-blooded murder of innocent men, women and children that went to worship their God on their holy day is beyond me. Apart from the disgust and anger that Nigerians feel, the fear -- that foreboding we have of more violence -- is so thick in the air, you could almost slice it. Granted, it’s no secret that the country is at its most unsafe, but even with our present anemic security situation, nobody could have imagined that our society could descend to such a low where barbarians go as far as bombing people as they worship in their churches. These acts of violence has put the entire country into a heightened state of fear and suspicion and warrants peace-loving Muslims to come out and condemn the acts in the strongest terms.
Any Muslim that understands the spirit of peace in Islam knows that there is nothing and nowhere in the teachings of Islam that condones the kind of violence where one is given a carte blanche to murder innocent families who were celebrating their day of significance in a place that they considered to be their sanctuary. Any Muslim that knows the overwhelming message of hope, justice, faith, and peace among human beings of the Qur’an is completely devastated.
When one sees the phrase in the Quran which ‘unambiguously’ states that innocent people, regardless of their race and faith, must not be killed in any circumstance, one wonders which interpretation gives credence for some to commit such aggression. It is clearly mentioned in the Quran that, “if anyone kills an innocent human being “who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people”.
Even during war-time, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) told his followers not to harm non-combatants. That if they had to go to enemy territory for war, the soldiers were not to harm elderly people, women and children and also must not destroy farms and fruit trees as people may suffer because of the shortage of food. In His teachings, he emphasized the right to life of people, animals, birds, and even ants. And if it is prohibited to harm even an ant, what could make anyone think that it is all right to kill a fellow human being?
The expression in the Quran, “there is no compulsion in religion” is known to even those who continue to insist that Shari’a law must be applied in the whole of Nigeria. But Nigeria is not made up of only Muslims and, even if it was, one section of the community does not have the right to decide the fate of the rest. If the Holy Prophet (PBUH) provided assurances to non-Muslim minorities living in Muslim majority countries and ordered Muslim minorities living in non-Muslim majority countries to abide by all laws and the rules of the country, there is no reason for any Nigerian Muslim not to abide by the law of this land. The belief that God is a just God that welcomes those who believe in Him and lead a righteous life, by whatever name they call themselves, should be enough reason for us to co-exist peacefully. In the Quran, it is written: “Surely, those who believe those who are Jewish, the converts, and the Christians; any of them who believe in GOD and believe in the Last Day, and lead a righteous life, have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve. [Quran 5:69]
When small minorities of the Muslim population interpret the teachings of the Holy Quran in a manner that is unknown to the majority of the other Muslims, it affects us all. And it makes life worse for Muslims who are striving to live by the peaceful teachings of Allah and peacefully co-exist with their Christian brothers, sisters and neighbours.
If the purpose of the violence and intimidation that we have seen is to achieve some sort of political gain, then, it really is fruitless because it affects innocent civilians who have little or no impact on political change. While government people continue to protect themselves in their bullion vans and bulletproof homes, the victims will continue to be those who are already suffering. Violence begets violence and the only possible outcome of such aggression will be the furtherance of more violence. And now that violence has been brought into the fray, it seems to have become second nature in our environment. Our humanity has been reduced to a level of barbarism that cannot be dealt with in any position of serious negotiation. Using the fear of death and destruction to motivate people to do what one wants furthers this epidemic and cycle of violence. Pointing an AK47 in a person’s face and forcing them to do something will probably motivate them to do it at that time, but it will quickly devolve into something much worse. The people who continue to exact this kind of violence must have families of their own that they love and protect. They need to put themselves in the position of the victims and imagine, just for a moment, the pain people feel when they lose their families in such a violent way.
We are all brethren — descendants of the same Adam and Eve, from the lineage of the same Prophet Abraham/Ibrahim. We have been created of distinct peoples, beliefs and tribes that we may recognize one another. There is no reason for us to hate, kill and main one another. Both of our sacred books speak of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
In the Quran it says: “Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered” [Quran 2:136].
The Bible says: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God” [Corinthians 10:31-32].
Our lives must be held sacred. Our unity must be held strong. Life is granted by God alone, and no person has a right to take it without justifiable cause. We have no room for a religious war in Nigeria and one prays that all parties, especially our Christian neighbours and those targeted and hurt in these heinous attacks, can continue to exercise patience and restraint. As for those who continue to unleash violence, may they know that every last drop of blood that (God forbid) comes from any reprisal attacks is fully and squarely on their hands! May they remember that, sooner or latter, in this life and in the Hereafter, they will have to answer to the Almighty and pay for every last life that they have directly or indirectly claimed.
As I reminisce and mourn for the innocents and lives gone, my thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives and the families and friends who suffered. “Dear God, Oh Allah! Please, Oh please, bring healing to this nation, and make it a peaceful land”.

Still on Edo governor’s prerequisite election qualification

 by Hanson Aimofumeh 

I write as a citizen of the Federal Republic of  Nigeria, who  voted at the last governorship election in Edo State, held on July 14, 2012.
I also want to submit that like many other Nigerians, I have the ability to read, write, understand and communicate in English language, particularly the ability to read and understand the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
The courts or election tribunal on their part, have a statutory obligation to interpret the laws.  Some of these laws are highly technical; others are so plain and straightforward and therefore pose no difficulty to even a layman.  It is, therefore, on this ground that I feel competent to discuss the issue of qualification of a candidate to run for the office of a governor of a state.
The 1999 Constitution provides qualifications for the office of a governor.  These qualifications include, but are not limited to citizenship, age, education and membership of a political party.
Let me restrict myself to one of these qualifications, namely educational qualification which was one of the grounds of the Petition filed by General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd.) against Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State.  The retired army General had alleged in his petition that Governor Oshiomhole did not possess the minimum educational qualification to run for the office of governor in the last governorship election in the state in which I voted, having been registered as an eligible voter.
My intention here is not to say how right or wrong the tribunal was in its ruling.  Rather, I want to use my constitutional right to express my opinion on a matter the tribunal has passed a ruling.
The Constitution of any country is not a storybook.  It provides the dos and don’ts of her citizenry and any infraction of its provisions attracts sanctions.  If the constitution of a country provides qualifications for certain offices, such provisions must be met.  In other words, they are not optional.  They are not only conditions precedent to an election, they are also conditions subsequent  to an election in the event of victory. If an elected candidate falls short of any of these qualifications, he must immediately vacate his office. That is to say, it is a continuing warranty for the office holder.
As I said earlier, I have read the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as well as the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and did not find a portion of the constitution or Electoral Act that prohibits a candidate from challenging the qualification of his opponent after an election.
Section 31 (5) & (6) upon which the tribunal predicated its judgment did not expressly or impliedly prohibit a candidate from challenging the election of another candidate who has not  met the minimum educational qualification.  In fact, the sub-sections in question cast light on perjury.
Paragraph 24 of the petition filed by Charles Airhiavbere which the tribunal struck out reads “Your petitioners aver that the 1st Respondent is not qualified to contest the said Governorship Election in Edo State, having not met the minimum qualification to contest for the said office of Governor of Edo State as provided for in the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended)”.  Honestly, I do not see how this paragraph, which questioned the qualification of the Governor, as envisaged by section 138(1)(a),  offend section 31 (5) & (6) which mirrored perjury and not qualification.  
I repeat, section 31 (5) & (6) which the tribunal relied upon relate to where a person has reasonable grounds to believe that a candidate for an election has committed perjury.  Section 31 (5) & (6) read:
Section 31 (5) – Any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by a candidate in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false may file a suit at the Federal High Court, high court of a state or FCT against such person seeking a declaration that the information contained in the affidavit is false.
Section 31 (6) – If the court determines that any of the information contained in the affidavit or any document submitted by the candidate is false, the court shall issue an order disqualifying the candidate from contesting the election.
What happens if no false information of document is submitted but a case when documents submitted did not meet the minimum requirement?
 Interestingly, no mention of qualification or non-qualification of a candidate was made in those subsections.  I therefore wonder why the tribunal equated perjury (giving false information on oath) with qualification or non-qualification of a candidate for an election.
It is unfortunate to note that rather than apply this momentous provision, section 138 (1) (a) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which deals expressly with qualification, the tribunal went on a wild goose chase when it turned to the section which deals with perjury.
Section 138 (1) (a) provides (1) An election may be questioned on any of the following grounds, that is to say: That a person whose election is questioned was, at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election.
The judiciary has a duty to nurture our democracy to maturity by invoking the appropriate sections of our laws in the event of litigations no matter who is involved.
The issue of qualification is a fundamental constitutional requirement.  If a candidate fails to fulfil it, his candidature can be challenged.  If he is already elected, whether by design or default, his election can also be challenged before the tribunal in the spirit of section 138 (1) (a) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). It is my considered opinion that section 31(5)&(6) of  the Electoral Act cannot circumvent a constitutional requirement. On  the  contrary, the section is intended to ensure strict compliance with the constitution.
No law can stop a constitutional requirement.  I repeat, no law can stop a constitutional requirement let alone when no law has so done in this case .  In this regard, I am guided by recent decisions of the Appeal Courts and the Supreme Court of Nigeria on the issue of qualification  which,  unambiguously, held that no law or rules of procedure can inhibit a candidate, who has within his knowledge, that a party to an election has not met the constitutional requirement.  In the same vein, no law can stop such a candidate from bringing such information to a tribunal.
In an Appeal Court judgment in Sokoto on September 23,2011 by Sidi Dauda (JCA), leading two other justices of the court, on the issue of qualification,  held “If a candidate is qualified constitutionally he is qualified, if he is not he is not, there is no roundabout about it”  The court went further to say “The qualification to contest an election from the robust constitutional provisions is a condition precedent for a candidate to contest or to participate in an election”.
Two recent judicial pronouncements on qualification  made on February 24, 2012 at the Supreme Court of Nigeria by Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen (JSC), leading four other Justices of the Supreme Court, have put the issue of qualification beyond argument.
Aimofumeh wrote in from Lagos.

Highway to hell

Highway to hell

•Commuters groan as gridlocks, robbers take over collapsed Benin-Ore Road
There is no let up to the avalanche of problems still plaguing the Benin-Ore Expressway. Commuters, using that facility are once again back to the familiar turf of sorrow and pain. Death, distress and robbery remain the major worries commuters have been left to deal with. Following the resumption of the rains after its annual break in the third quarter of the year, the road has continued to ail. The renewed intensity of the rains has forced some portions of it to fail.
And now, the commuters are bearing the brunt of the debacle which, many insist, is a recurring decimal. As the potholes resurface on the facility which once was a national pride, the days of long hours on the queue are back. And going by the fillers reaching Daily Sun, the commuters are spending very long time at the same spot before they could be free.
And this may last as long as the rains and the bad portions on the road persist. Commuters who have been experiencing the problem first hand say a journey from Lagos to Benin City by bus now lasts for seven hours or more. Ordinarily, Lagos to Benin by road is a three-hour drive.
But motorists whose vehicles are incapable of manoeuvring through the numerous adjoining bush paths to avoid some of the failed portions are facing a tall mountain as they get rooted at the same spot for hours unend. A commuter, Mr. Obioma Nwogu told Daily Sun that the Benin-Ore Expressway in recent times has continued to deteriorate. He said traffic gridlocks on both sides of the road are now commonplace.
The intensity of the rains and the attendant flood have washed off some portions of the road and opened up gapping craters at every turn. This worsening condition of the road is being aggravated by the pressure and presence of heavy duty trucks competing for right of way. Millions of those trucks carry several tons of hard and soluble goods from the west to and fro the mid west and eastern parts of the country annually. Narrating his experience on the road while on a recent journey to the East, Obioma said: “Indeed, the Benin-Ore axis of the road once again is in bad shape.
Many motorists now using that road go through hell. People are spending lots of hours, particularly between Ore and Okada. This is a huge problem that ought to have been dealt with for long considering that, that road has been a problem for some time now. I travelled to the village recently and my experience on that road was nothing but pain and anguish. “We left Lagos at 7.00am, hoping to get to the village later in the afternoon, but that didn’t happen.
As we approached Ore town, I noticed a long queue of big trucks; I observed that the road was totally blocked. There was no form of movement. Heavy duty vehicles were all ahead of us. After a while in the traffic which was moving at a snail speed, our driver reversed the bus and began to drive back to Lagos. Then I became alarmed. I was more alarmed when the driver joined some other smaller passenger vehicles veering off into a particular track leading into the bush.
For minutes, we were meandering through village paths. We even got stuck at some point because there was also heavy traffic even inside those villages as most motorists preferred those alternative routes to escape the torture on the main highway.” Continuing, Nwogu said: “It was a huge relief when we hit the main road again after close to an hour in the bush.
Then our driver began to press for Benin City. But as we were getting close to Ofosu in Edo State, I sighted noticed a similar problem ahead. We remained at the same spot on the queue for quite a while before our vehicle once again made a detour into the bush to escape another bad portion on the road. So we had another round of the same problem to deal with and that lasted for close to one and half hours or so.
During that period, we were moving around in the villages. Some of the villagers who thought the motorists were taking advantage of their area, erected barricades to avoid vehicles completely destroying their land. At some places, they were even collecting tolls.
I find it difficult to believe that in Nigeria of this century, we are still grappling with the same Benin-Ore road after many years that it has been in the news.” Corroborating that account, Kalu Maduabuchi, who returned from a journey to the east some days ago, said the pains of commuters on some sections of the Benin-Ore road were hard to bear.
Maduabuchi, who said the commuter bus he travelled in spent hours on two separate failed portions, lamented that some of the travellers even had robbery incidents to deal with. “We left Lagos early in the morning in a commercial bus (owner’s name withheld) hoping to get to Aba before dusk. But we were halted for a long time at two separate places on the popular Benin-Ore road. First it was at Ore. There was a deep cut on the road which every motorist must pass through. I guess in the beginning, it was small but heavy duty vehicles plying that road helped to widen it.
So it got deeper and deeper every passing day, thus making it difficult for the rest of the vehicles to pass through. Now given the number of vehicles plying the road, you can understand while there is a long queue,” he said. He noted that following the emergency of bad spots on the road, banditry is now commonplace. Criminals now waylay and rob vehicles which have been condemned to ply the numerous bush paths in the villages as a way to escape the bad spots on the highway.
“When we got to the bad spot, we were surprised that out driver queued behind those trucks, which are mostly the vehicles still using the road. Everybody, including the children among us, was hot, but there was nothing anyone could do about that. When the passengers began to urge the driver to join his colleagues who were plying the village roads, he vehemently refused, informing us that the management of his company warned them never to use alternative roads no matter the weight of the temptation. He said three of their buses were earlier robbed by thieves while trying to go through short cuts. It was then that we realised that apart from the bad road we could be robbed if we were not careful. So we had to endure long hours on the queue.” Daily Sun gathered that apart from the two very notorious spots on that road which for long had endured as a national embarrassment, there were other spots too. A commercial bus driver plying the Lagos-Benin route, who identified himself simply as Igumbor said in smattering English: “Bros, when we get to those bad spots them, we dey always use one way. If you no fit stay on the long queue, you must use one way. Na so we dey do am so that we go fit reach on time.” When reminded about the risk involved in plying one way, he said: “Bros leave matter, anything wey go happen go happen.”
However, in the past, there had been records of head on fatal collision involving some vehicles and many lives were lost. In one of such accidents, a luxury bus belonging to a transport company which has office in Jibowu, Lagos, sometime ago smashed a Benin bound 18-seater passenger bus. Both of them had collided on a hill. No fewer than 15 passengers were killed in that fatal accident. Recently, a coaster bus conveying 21 passengers from Ogun State to a location in Edo State, allegedly plunged into the river while trying to avoid a bad spot on the road at Ogbere village near Ijebu Ode.
A good number of the passengers either died from the crash or got drowned in the river. While efforts were made to retrieve the wreckage of the bus, there were no details of any survivors. But that is not the end of the ordeal which many commuters are still grappling with on the same Benin-Ore road which for long has continued to dominate the media space for the wrong reason. Now, the same question many have been asking for long is, ‘when will rehabilitation work on that busy road which once was a symbol of national pride be completed?’ That indeed, is the multimillion dollar question the federal government and all who have a stake on that road are yet to answer.

We are going after corrupt govs –Jonathan

 by Ifeanyi Onuba

President Goodluck Jonathan
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday said no corrupt governor or subsidy thief would go scot-free. He assured that  the Federal Government would go after them and ensure their prosecution.
Jonathan said,  “We are going after governors who commit various economic crimes and corrupt practices with impunity. As you may be aware, government is taking every legal measure to ensure that those who defrauded the government in the petroleum subsidy scheme are made to pay back the stolen funds. They will also be  severely punished.”
Jonathan  spoke  through Vice- President Namadi Sambo at the formal presentation and launch of a book, “Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria,”in Abuja.  The book was  written by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Serving governors, under Section 308 of the Constitution, enjoy constitutional immunity from prosecution but some former governors had been tried and convicted for corruption.
Former governor of Delta State, James Ibori,escaped jail in Nigeria but the  long arm of the law caught up with him London where he  is currently serving a  jail term  for economic crimes.
Ex-governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbnedion, was similarly tried, convicted and fined N3.5m by an Enugu High court in December 2008. The judgment which  was described by the public as a slap-on-the-wrist followed a plea-bargain deal between him  and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Jonathan’s predecessor in Bayelsa State, ex-governor Diepreye Alamieseigha, was tried and sentenced to two years imprisonment in 2007 by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Many  oil marketers suspected of culpability in the N1.7bn petroleum subsidy scam are currently undergoing trials  in the country.
Jonathan said his reform agenda relies on a corrupt-free system  in order to build strong institutions that  would  guarantee sustainable development.
He said that the problem of creating jobs and fighting corruption needed urgent attention.
The President  said, “Reforms perform better in an atmosphere of democracy and freedom and we are continuing to work to ensure that sound democratic principles are held in the country.
“The challenges of creating jobs and fighting corruption need urgent attention and I am glad to reiterate that these concerns are already being tackled in the current transformation agenda of this administration.”
Jonathan described Okonjo-Iweala as a shining light in  the country, adding that the documentation of her experience would help to transform the economy.
He said, “Okonjo-Iweala is indeed one of our shining lights and I will like to congratulate her for finding the time, in spite of her busy schedule,  to document her experience in this book.
“The central message of this book is the hope that Nigeria can be reformed and grow to become one of the most dynamic economies of the world.
“In the past, there was a lot of perception about Nigeria as many people claimed that the political and economic future of this country can never be reformed and I commend this book for documenting some of the important reforms which have been carried in Nigeria since our recent democratic transition.”
Former Commonwealth Secretary-General and chairman at the event, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, said there was need for a change in government structures to enable the country achieve its developmental goals.
He pointed out that the current strategy where recurrent expenditures are marginally reduced would not have any significant impact on development objectives.
Anyaoku said, “The country’s chances of realising its rightfully desired development objectives would be greatly enhanced if the country adopts a major restructuring of its present governance architecture.
“I do not believe for example that we can succeed in reducing significantly the level of expenditure on recurrent expenditure, which at the moment is averaging 74 per cent, which I gather that the budget for the next year hopes to reduce to something like 68 per cent.
“When you look around the world, and, particularly, around developing countries that started the same stage as we did, you will find that their expenditure on recurrent heads have been far less than what we have been spending.
“Because what we have been spending on recurrent budget has left us and continues to leave us with too little for capital development which we need.’’
He pointed out that the cost of maintaining the lifestyles of politicians under the existing structure would make it difficult to reduce the cost of governance.
He said, “I do not believe that the present structure we have will arrest the destructive competition for the control of power at the centre, while we sustain the largely non-viable states which have become the custom to the notion and practice of sharing the national cake from the centre.
“It is this destructive competition for control of power at the centre that exacerbates the primordial instinct in our people and also fans the flame of the religious and ethnic differences with the result that rather than being a source of strength, our pluralism has become the harbinger of division and disunity.”
Pointing out that   military intervention culminated in the unitary federalism which the country is currently practicing, Anyaoku advocated a return to true federalism.
Okonjo- Iweala said that the book was not a biography but that of hope for the Nigeria, especially the youth.
She said, “This is a book of hope and to tell the young people that they do not need to listen to all the bad things being said about Nigeria. There is hope that Nigeria can be reformed and there is no need to have  a sense of hopelessness in our country.’’
Reviewer of the book and  a Professor of Economics at the Oxford University,London, Paul Collier, said the book would help the country to learn from its past failures to achieve success.
He said Nigeria’s reliance on oil revenue had been chaotic, adding that unless it  diversified its economy, government’s revenue would continue to fluctuate.
Collier  “A combination of sound rules and critical understanding is what is needed to transform the economy and Nigeria needs to learn from its failures to rebuild its future.
“Oil revenue which Nigeria depends on is very volatile thus making government revenue to fluctuate. What Nigeria needs is to begin to smoothen its oil revenue in a consistent manner.”
He advised  the Federal Government to carry out what he called ethical, pragmatic and practical reforms in various sectors of the economy.