Google+ Followers

Friday, 30 November 2012

2015: Northern leaders wary of Obasanjo’s anti-Jonathan moves

2015: Northern leaders wary of Obasanjo’s anti-Jonathan moves
In spite of rapprochement by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Northern leaders are wary of his 2015 permutations to appease the region against President Goodluck Jonathan.
Northern leaders are weighing options on the need to weather the storm alone instead of allowing Obasanjo to have his way for the third time.
The former President was instrumental to the imposition of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2007 and the incumbent President in 2011 to frustrate the North’s desire for two terms in office.
But following sharp disagreements with President Jonathan, the ex-President is alleged to be leading a discreet campaign to deny Jonathan a second term ticket in 2015.
Obasanjo’s latest move is seen as a step to “appease” the North for the alleged “political errors” in 2007 and 2011.
The spokesman for the former President, Mallam Garbadeen Mohammed, however, said the recent shuttles of his principal to some leaders in the North and in the East had nothing to do with 2015.
Investigation by our correspondent showed that Northern leaders are still not favourably disposed to realigning with Obasanjo in their 2015 agenda.
It was learnt that some members of the National Assembly from the North also do not support a fresh romance with Obasanjo by the region.
A top member of Arewa Consultative Forum, who spoke with select newsmen in Abuja, said: “Going by what the North has gone through in the past few years, it will be a political suicide to entrust our political destiny in Obasanjo’s hands in 2015.
“Obasanjo has a track record of those he had moved against because they disagreed with him. They include past Senate presidents, and his VP, Abubakar Atiku. Even at a critical moment, he made some remarks against the late President Umaru Yar’Adua when the latter was sick.
“The North does not trust him because he has a history of imposing his views on people. During the choice of who succeeded him, he picked Yar’Adua despite opposition from his (Yar’ Adua’s) constituency (the North).
“Obasanjo insisted it must be Yar’Adua, who his kinsmen felt was too ill to face the rigors of office. Now, the North detests Obasanjo because they feel he deliberately planted a southerner, Goodluck Jonathan as VP, who eventually threw spanner in the works.
“The North feels sticking out their neck will be a big gamble because if the South-South, South-East, and the South-West where Obasanjo is abhorred should throw their weight behind Jonathan, they (North) would be left in the lurch.
Responding to a question, the source added: “Another problem Obasanjo has with the North is his prescription of Odi massacre for Maiduguri, which is the Boko Haram’s haven. The Northerners are not happy about this option and a former Minister of Communications, Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno, said so recently.
“Obasanjo had moved against Atiku, blocked his ambition when Atiku ran against Jonathan during the PDP primaries. He had also fought another Northerner, ex-House of Representatives Speaker Umar Ghali Na’Aba and removed a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Audu Ogbeh.
“Obasanjo met with Kebbi, Kano , Sokoto, Katsina state governors after his mosque fund raiser in Abeokuta. He was unable to sell his project. Sule Lamido who he had favored to step in did not attend the event.
“The South-East does not trust him because he was one of those who masterminded the removal of the chairmanship of PDP from the South-East.”
A former presidential aspirant in the North said: “We are weighing options on 2015 but I am sure by now all our leaders, including Northern governors, know where we are going. We won’t play a second fiddle again. The ACF has submitted a roadmap to the Northern Governors Forum to serve as a guide.
“I can just say that this time around, no one will dictate to us.”
A reliable source at the National Secretariat, who spoke in confidence, said: “His move against Jonathan will fail. The move is symptomatic of his penchant to reject anything that does not serve his interest. Obasanjo is a man who likes to play god on any national issue because of his erroneous belief that he has played more prominent roles than anybody in Nigeria.
“For this, he believes that he has monopoly of knowledge. He has this false sense of acceptability nationwide. It is clear Obasanjo has no clear electoral value; he has no interest of the North or South-East at heart but just vendetta.
“The PDP lost in his ward but he still believes he has the South-West in his grip. His daughter failed in her return bid. Most of those who worked with him as individuals or group lived to regret it, so no one trusts him. Even a former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, who is defending the former President, once disagreed openly with him.
“The South-East does not see him as an ally, he has shortchanged them several times. Ask what happened to the chairmanship of PDP that was for Igbo.”
But speaking with our correspondent, the spokesman for the former President, Mallam Garbadeen Mohammed, said the recent shuttles of his principal to some Northern and Eastern states have nothing to do with 2015.
Mohammed said: “There is no disagreement between President Goodluck Jonathan and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. To the best of my knowledge, their relationship is very, very cordial. Whatever you are reading about any disagreement, it is a creation of people in the media.
“The launch of the mosque project at the Obasanjo Presidential Library was purely a spiritual development, there was nothing political about it. I was in Abeokuta , there was no political undertone to it. It is a project towards the development of unity and religious harmony in the country.
“There were people that are not Muslims at the launch of the mosque. As a matter of fact, the Kaduna State Government even donated N20million to the project.”
On the 2015 politics, Mohammed added: “I have no authority whatsoever on 2015 on what is going to happen, I have no authority to say anything.”
Asked why Obasanjo had been embarking on political shuttles, the spokesman said: “Since His Excellency, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, left office, he has been in demand in the country and outside to play the role of a statesman. The reality is that people appreciate him at home and abroad, those shuttles were not political at all.”

Angry wife stabs hubby to death for accusing her of infidelity

Residents of No. 8 Eze Street, off Okposi Street, Nkaliki, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State are still wondering on what. Could have prompted a woman to kill her husband whom she had lived with for several years.
Occupants of the compound woke in the morning to be greeted with the shocking news that Mr. Yaune Okorji, an Assistant Immigration Officer attached to Ebonyi State headquarters of the command has been reportedly killed by his wife during a domestic violence.
It was gathered that the late Okoroji and his wife, Mrs. Judith Okorji have been having serious marital crisis over infidelity before his sudden demise.
The ‘family war’ we learnt reached a crescendo the fateful day when the late Okoroji accused his wife of having affairs with another man in a hotel.
Sources said both the deceased and his embittered wife all hailed from Ahoada in Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Eyewitness said the immigration officer was stabbed to death around 1:00am after a fight with his wife, Judith went beyond control.
The source who pleaded anonymity said that when late Okorji returned late to his matrimonial home on the fateful day, his wife who was already pregnant began to question the husband over his love for alcohol , which eventually ended up in a serious squabble and the wife allegedly stabbed the husband with a dagger.
The source said, “It was then that the wife out of annoyance grabbed a knife very close to her and stabbed him on the upper part of his left hand and it pierced through his chest and the man fell down, with blood gushing out .
Neighbours who were attracted to the scene, grabbed him and rushed him to the Federal Teaching Hospital.
Unfortunately, he died on the way to the hospital”.
It was learnt that some angry relatives of the murdered Okorji in a revenge responded to the incident by setting the house of the suspect ablaze.
DailyPost gathered that there’s serious tension in the community.
The Ebonyi State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Sylvester Igbo who confirmed the incident said that Mrs. Judith Okorji, 24, had since been arrested by the command for allegedly stabbing her husband to death after a quarrel bordering on infidelity.
According to the police spokesman, “When the matter was reported, the police went to the scene and she was arrested. In the course of the investigation, she made confessional statement to the police. The Police discovered that she used the dagger belonging to the husband to stab him during the quarrel.
The deceased was a staff of Immigration here in the state from Ahoda East in Rivers State. They were living as husband and wife before the incident”.
According to him, investigation had so far been carried out by the command on the matter and it shows that the accused, a nursing mother of three, might have been enraged after her late husband accused her of sleeping with another man.
Igbo revealed that the accused, who is also a law student of the Nigeria Open University (NOU) had confessed to have committed the crime but claimed that it was the devil that pushed her.
It was learnt that at Judith who was previously in police custody, was later charged to court and remanded in prison custody for further investigation as the body of the deceased had been deposited at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, FETHA, for autopsy.
DailyPost gathered that the fatherless children are presently in the care of Mrs. Eddy, a close friend to Judith.

Jonathan, IBB, Mark others shun Yar’Adua memorial lecture

President Goodluck Jonathan, former Military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, and the Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema, were among dignitaries who snubbed the first Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Memorial Lecture organized in honour of the late president.
The lecture, which was organised by the Chemical Society of Nigeria at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, on Thursday witnessed a low turnout.
The organizer appointed Babangida to serve as the Chairman of the occasion, President Jonathan as the distinguished guest of honour, while Shema was to be the chief Host, but they all shunned the event.
All the 36 states governors, Senate President, David Mark and the Speaker of the House of Representatives were also among the invited guests of honour who did not show up.
Apart from the guest lecturer, Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, who sent his Commissioner for Education, none of the them showed up or was dully represented.
Secretary to the Katsina State Government, Muntari Ibrahim, told the gathering he was standing in for IBB and Shema, Kastina State governor.
He said, “I am representing His Excellency, the executive Governor of Katsina State, Dr. Ibrahim Shema, and General Babangida who is our leader and former Head of States.”
Ibrahim, in his remarks on behalf of the State Governor said Chemistry was central to industrial transformation of any society.
He disclosed that the knowledge of chemistry served the late Umaru Yar’Adua well as he made judicious use of his academic background to offer solutions to Nigeria’s problems while alive.
In his own remarks, the Kwara State Governor eulogized the late President Yar’Adua for a distinct leadership lifestyle to the nation.
He said, “As a nation builder, Yar’Adua sought to run an inclusive government, one which accommodated all relevant geo-political interests and prioritised equity as opposed to sectional interests.
“For example, only an ardent believer in justice, rule of law and the state of equilibrium such as Yar’Adua could have engaged Niger Delta activists who were then involved in a violent campaign for resource control, and restored peace to a region which had known none for years.”
The late president was conferred with a posthumous Fellowship Award.
While receiving the award on behalf of his late brother, Colonel Abdulaziz Musa Yar’Adua, thanked the society for the Honour bestowed on the late President.

FCT Minister’s Land Scandal Angers Presidency …Investigation Underway

FCT Minister’s Land Scandal Angers Presidency …Investigation Underway
The Presidency is angry with the Minister for the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed for demanding 80 percent of a land a Malaysian group acquired for a mass housing project in Abuja.
A 14,000 housing units project, known as Malaysian Gardens, was launched by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006 and is located on about 500 hectares in Saraji District of Abuja.
Outgoing Malaysian High Commissioner Dato Nik Mustafa Kamal Nik Ahmad alleged in a letter to Jonathan dated June 14, that the notoriously corrupt FCT minister Bala Mohammed, regarded as the worst the capital city have had, is demanding for 400 hectares of lands which amounts to 80 percent of the total land area allocated for the housing project.
Sources within the Presidency told that the Presidency is miffed at the action of the FCT Minister, which amount to corruption.
The source noted that the action of the Minister is capable of driving away potential foreign investors and further dent the anti-corruption crusade of the Government.
“How can a Minister be demanding for 80 per cent land duly allocated to the Malaysian investors as part of Government’s drive for foreign investment”? The President is really upset about it.”
The source who did not want to be named revealed that an investigation has been ordered by the President on the matter with a view of getting to the root of the allegation.
According to the source, it is after the Minister was informed about the feeling in the Presidency that he hurriedly put up an advertorial in the dailies on his own side of the story.
The source further hinted that the FCT Minister is one of those listed for sack as soon as the Presidency concludes plan for cabinet change early 2013.
Controversy started following a petition by the Malaysian High Commission to President Jonathan in which it accused the FCT Minister of demanding 80 percent of the lands.
The Malaysian Ambassador alleged that the Minister demanded that the Nigerian partner be changed with someone of his choice as part of the conditions for the approval of the building plans which have been pending before the FCT authorities for eight years now.
Ahmad’s letter was published as an advertorial in the Daily Trust newspaper last week. The letter was written to Jonathan as a follow up to discussions with the outgoing envoy during his farewell visit on June 7.
He said his only regret during his tenure was on the stalled Malaysian Gardens project.
“The minister on 21 February 2011 had threatened to take back the land unless the developer agrees to give as much as 400 hectares to him which is 80 per cent of the total area of land of the project which will effectively kill the mass housing project,” Ahmad said in the letter.
“The minister even hinted the possibility of using EFCC and the Police against the developer if his demands are not met. All efforts to find amicable solutions failed. Senator Bala Mohammed has refused to approve all the engineering drawings or even to register the housing project,” he added. is currently conducting an investigation of the rot in the FCT Ministry under the leadership of Senator Mohammed as a Special Report.

Bayo Olupohunda: Oritsejafor’s God is not poor

When in 2010, the founding and Senior Pastor of Word of Life Bible Church Warri, Delta State, Ayodele Joseph Oritsejafor, was elected the President of the 36-year-old Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella body of the Christian faith in the country, I was genuinely apprehensive and worried. His emergence to that exalted position marked the first time a pastor of the Pentecostal bend will head an organization whose leadership over the years have become a rallying point for not only Christians but as the voice of the voiceless and a thorn in the flesh of corrupt and oppressive leaders in the country.
Oritsejafor succeeded John Onaiyekan, a Catholic who had himself succeeded Jasper Akinnola, an Anglican in 2007. The Christian body which was founded in 1976 had had the luck of being led by men who had used their positions as Christian leaders to unwaveringly speak truth to power; Olubunmi Okogie, Sam Mbang, Bolanle Gbonigi were also noted for the Spartan lifestyles they lived as clergies- a virtue they also encouraged among the faith and Nigerians. But it was the Okogie years that significantly defined the role of the church and church leaders as agents of change in a society bogged down by the crises of leadership. Olubunmi Okogie was your quintessential pulpit activist. He unpretentiously used his leadership to speak truth to power at every given opportunity.
Usually seen in his white cassock; he was fearless and abhors the ostentatious lifestyles of leaders and the corrupt. Even when the risk to his life became dangerously evident during the military years, Okogie rejected the suggestion of extra security details. His ubiquitous official car, a Peugeot 404 and later 504, could be seen in traffic crawling along with the rest of the masses. He lived the life he preached. He shunned all pretences of the affected. Olubunmi Okogie fought for the interest of Nigerians no matter their religion or ethnicity. Even in retirement, he has not wavered. He still lends his voice to the unending follies of our leaders. He and other CAN leaders of their era represent the role of Christianity and its leadership as the conscience of the nation. Can the same be said of today’s Christian leaders especially in this age of unbridled flamboyant living by so-called pastors and one-man churches that have turned Christianity into a joke?
How can we reconcile the paradox of vice and the unrestrained religiosity of Nigerians of all faiths? You can imagine my concern when Oritsejafor emerged the leader of the influential CAN. Do not get me wrong. I do not have anything against the “man of God” (if indeed he is). I know it is a fad to be referred to as the man of God these days.
A friend made a point recently about how easy it is to claim to be an “anointed man of God or being called by Him”. I do not doubt Oritsejafor’s ability to lead Nigerian Christians. After all, he has led his church. Never mind that the church is founded by him as the overall CEO. But that was also a source of worry. How can a man not used to leadership structure as a leader of a “one-man show church” emerge to lead an umbrella organization of all Christians where he will have to consult widely among Christian leaders before taking decisions? Did he for example consult widely before accepting the gift of a private jet from his church bearing in mind the position he occupies as not only the leader of his Warri church but that of millions of Christians all over the country; those whose sensibilities have now been hurt by his indiscretion? Perhaps if he had, he would have known that the acceptance of the jet will bring his leadership of the respected organization into disrepute.
In defense, he claims the jet is for evangelization! Really? Why not wait for the entire Christian body to buy a private jet for the CAN leadership? How can a private jet purportedly bought to mark his birthday now become the property of CAN for the purpose of evangelization? Or will he donate the jet to CAN when his tenure expires? One question has become relevant here; how did Ortisejafor’s predecessors evangelize while they presided over CAN? His excuse of “jet for evangelization” is shameful at best.
As expected, the jet issue is being sadly debated among Christians and Nigerians. While some are condemning it; others see it as a “testimony” to the lifestyle an average Christian should aspire to because as they say, the Christian God is not poor. So, instead of the CAN leader uniting the Christian Faith, he has succeeded in dividing it with this endless and unnecessary debate fuelled by his flamboyant lifestyle. This is dangerous. The division will serve to further energize the corrupt political class to strengthen their divisive agenda which will drive a nail into the coffin of a critical part of the civil society capable of providing the checks needed for good governance to thrive in our country.
Oritsejafor’s ostentatious lifestyle and his new dalliance with the occupier of Aso Rock Villa are an affront to the position he holds. The picture of the CAN president flying around in an expensive private jet, while the laity wallows in abject poverty and die on neglected roads is far removed from reality. But the Oritsejafor tragedy is a metaphor of the Nigerian situation. Yet we cannot despair. It is a passing phase.
The modern church is in great need of prophets of old who had led CAN on the part of respectability. Not the self-appointed and wild eyed fanatics’ clan of three-piece suit, jewelry wearing, and jerry curled pretenders “men of God” seen on religious broadcasts who add their delusions to the revelation of Scripture. Those who equate sweating and laughter with anointing leading millions further down a road of deception and delusion. Instead, we need men in Christian leadership who will stand on the side of the masses and speak truth to power. Our country needs men of vision who are not selling out the church so they can become a celebrity in the ‘religious conference tour in the guise of evangelization. We need men of proven integrity; not the ones who brazenly tell us to pray for our leaders to steal us blind.
The current crises of leadership in CAN have left me wondering lately; where are the prophets? Are there any real prophets cut from the same cloth of an Elijah who confounded the evil King Ahab or a John the Baptist who called out the sins of Herod? Are there any among our Christian leaders who are willing to break political ranks and speak truth to power?
At this critical point in our nation’s history, the next generation will not forgive those Christian leaders who look the other way while the country heads to the abyss. Solutions to complex issues like corruption, poverty, healthcare and growing insecurity will require greater vision than what is currently possessed by those in power and those seeking to replace them. Our nation stands in great need of the truly prophetic.

2015: Jonathan’s body language and the opposition

President Goodluck Jonathan
Kunle Oderemi writes on some emerging intrigues over the 2015 presidency Last Sunday, President Goodluck Jonathan was literarily on the spot as the nation’s chief steward. For two hours, a panel of interviewers grilled him on the state of the nation. In giving account of his stewardship, the president touched on different sectors, policies and programmes of his administration as well as some challenges confronting his government.
The president spoke on the build-up to the planned constitution review, six-year single term proposal, 2015 presidency, the Rivers/Bayelsa states brouhaha over some oil wells, Boko Haram  conundrum, corruption, 2013 federal budget,  and other crucial national issues. But one of the items appears to have elicited more interest, which is his cautious statement on the 2015 presidency. He  deliberately made an open-ended statement on the subject matter concerning his person.
“If the president tells you he is contesting in 2015, it will generate issues. Before you ask whether the president will contest or not, wait till 2014. Give us time to know whether Mr. President will contest in 2015 or not. I don’t want to distract my government. If you want to hear from me, wait till 2014,” he told Nigerians.
Since then, he has kept all guessing about what is actually on his mind; whether he would seek a renewal of his mandate for another four years at the end of his current tenure. There are claims and counter-claims that what the Otuoke, Bayelsa State-born politician meant was that he had made up his mind to run, but believed the time to make an open declaration was not now. To the opposition, there was no ambiguity in Jonathan’s statement and only the uncanny would contest that Jonathan has technically confirmed his ambition for second term. In their opinion, he is only being tactical about it in order to keep his adversaries in suspense. To them, his body language has consistently underscored the inference in the statement that his running for another term in office in 2015 is a foregone conclusion. And as far as they are concerned, Jonathan’s foot soldiers, tacticians/strategists and campaigners have already hit the ground running in grand but in subtle style to smoothen all edges.
Some pundits have also interpreted the utterances and activities of close confidants of the president, certain prominent individuals and groups as pointers that he might run again in 2015. One of such leading figures is the leader of the Ijaw nation, Chief Edwin Clark, who has consistently declared that the president can seek another four-year term. He anchors his views on the provision on the 1999 Constitution, coupled with the fact that former President Olusegun Obasanjo served for two terms of eight years. Other pro-Jonathan campaigners insist the South-South zone, which is the main constituency of the president, deserves to fill the presidential slot again based on the zoning policy of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has dominated the presidency since the country returned to civil rule in 1999.
Not quite long, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, explained that his principal had every right under the constitution to aspire.  He warned, “Nobody can abridge Jonathan’s constitutional rights to aspire to that office” but with a caveat that the fate of every human being who aspires to be president is in the hands of God.”
However, a Second Republic politician, Dr Muhammed Junaid, said the president could create a crisis for the country if he decided to re-contest in 2015. He advised him to first seek the Supreme Court interpretation of his eligibility, having taken the oath of office in his present capacity. Junaid said, “If Mr. President is a true Nigerian leader, he should decide now so that those who have issues with him will go to court and get redress. The issue is not about him but 160 million Nigerians whose faith is to the presidency of Nigeria. Jonathan has no right to dilly dally with the destiny of Nigerians.” Two Igbo politicians, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, viewed the race for the 2015 from a different perspective. It is their belief that the 2015 presidency is crucial in the life of the country and noted that it would be an opportunity for the country to strike a balance through power shift among the component of the federation. Ezeife contended, “The South-East deserves to produce the next president in the interest of equity and fairness. Is it a time bomb waiting to explode? Or will it strengthen the nation or mar it? Obviously, whichever way it is viewed, 2015 is a year with so much uncertainty, just as it is very critical to the future of Nigeria.”
He had a companion in the former Abia State governor, Kalu, who asserted that the Igbo must have their turn in 2015 to lead the country “almost about 48 years after the civil war.” Kalu, who has remained consistent in his crusade for the Igbo to produce the president, said it was hogwash for any Igbo man to be against the Igbo presidency project. “Anybody who wants to run for the presidency should prepare. Why should they wait for anybody to tell them whether he would run or not? That is part of the things that are not right in our democracy. South-East has not been fairly treated. That is why when I see some people say they are waiting for Jonathan to decide whether he would run or not, I look at them as very stupid. Nobody should decide for anybody. As far as I m concerned, it is either you give the Igbo the presidency or nothing,” he said.
A PDP leader from the South-East, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, had proposed the inclusion of zoning in the constitution. He said the success of the power rotation and zoning so far makes it imperative to enshrine them in the constitution of the country. But the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) kicked against the call on the ground that the principle of zoning was unwittingly killed and buried by the 2011 elections. ACF National Publicity Secretary, Anthony Sani, said, “By voting a Southerner in the 2011 presidential poll, Nigerians overwhelmingly voted against zoning and rotational presidency. So, everybody bringing up the issue of zoning is trying to draw us backwards.” Similarly, Ezeife expressed reservation on it but with a measure of caution. He said, “I don’t know what Iwuanyawu’s line of thought was when he said that, ‘but I say Igbo presidency is possible and we will get it.’”
Whether the president declares his intention in earnest or not, the tempo of politicking for the 2015 is beginning to rise. The actors are beginning to raise the bar on the inherent salient issues and in no distant time, various political alliances are expected to emerge as further response to the current coded body language of the president.
In the meantime, issues like the acrimony that surrounded the emergence of PDP presidential ticket, zoning and rotational system, the then Yar’Adua/Jonathan presidency will remain top on the agenda of major political discourse in the country.

Jaji, Abuja Terror Attacks: Army, police arrest 22 officers

by Niyi Odebode, Fidelis Soriwei and Adelani Adepegba
Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika
The police and army authorities have separately begun investigations into the twin bombings at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna State, and the attack on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad headquarters in Abuja.
Saturday PUNCH’s investigations showed that the army authorities had arrested 10 soldiers, including men and officers on duty when the incident occurred on Sunday.
It was also learnt that 12 policemen were currently being detained over the terror attack on the SARS headquarters on Monday.  
It was reliably gathered that both agencies – the military and the police – suspected that the attacks were carried out with the assistance of internal collaborators.
There are also indications that the Jaji attacks might affect several military personnel as the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, had condemned the laxity that led to the incident, thereby giving a strong indication that “heads may roll.”
This, investigations showed, might lead to the sack of some soldiers, who would also be court-marshalled.
Ihejirika had said during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference in Asaba, Delta State, that the blasts, which he described as saddening, could have been prevented.
He had stated, “The event of yesterday is certainly a very sad one. A board of inquiry is already instituted to unravel what happened, which we believe could have been prevented.”
It was learnt that the military high command was embittered by the fact that the second vehicle, which exploded and killed several people including the two suicide bombers and injured many, was packed within the premises of the strategic military formation in Jaji.
Saturday PUNCH reliably gathered that the military authorities were of the view that it would be difficult for such an operation to have been executed without the collaboration of insiders.
Investigators, it was learnt, were working on a theory that the second vehicle came into the premises through a route at the back of the college.  
Apart from the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, which is in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, the formation is host to four other strategic military institutions.
They are the Warrant Officers Academy, Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre, Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Infantry Corps Headquarters.
It was gathered that the military high command is not leaving anything to chance about the ongoing investigations into the Jaji blasts, which sent jitters across the country.
Although the COAS said on Sunday that the army had set up a board of inquiry to look into the terror attacks, the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Ibrahim, has also set up another board of inquiry to ensure that the explosions that rocked the prestigious military formation are not repeated.
The enquiry into the bomb blasts began on Wednesday.
Investigations showed that security at the strategic military formation in Jaji was not very tight as the vast settlement has no perimeter fence thereby making it possible for the facility to be accessed from other outlets.
It was further learnt that there are several civilian settlements within the military formation in Jaji, which complicate the problem of a watertight security observance in the area.
More so, the manpower for an effective security maintenance in the facility could not be said to be adequate.
It was learnt that the manpower capability of the ‘4 Demo Battalion’ entrusted with the responsibility of security maintenance in the area is seriously affected because of its involvement in internal security operations in other parts of the North.
It was further gathered that many of the officers of the 4 Demo Battalion are on deployment to flashpoints like Jos and Kafachan for internal security operations.
When our correspondent contacted the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Bola Koleosho, he said he was not aware of the issue of insiders’ collaboration as the COAS had already said that  two boards of inquiry had been set up to look into the issue.
He said, “As we are talking now, you are the first person to tell me that some soldiers have been arrested. I have not got any official position from Jaji. After the initial response, we have allowed Jaji to carry on with a news briefing.
“What I know is that investigation has started. What the investigation team is doing, I have not been briefed. There is no way I can tell the Jaji story like those on the ground. There is no way I can be commenting on that. I have been here since (this programme) Chief of Army Staff Conference started.”
However, Ihejirika said at the end of the annual conference that the military high command would be very decisive in dealing with security issues even as he charged commanders of the various units to rise to their responsibilities.
The army chief challenged all commanders to seek ways of ensuring effective security maintenance in all military formations, stressing that the absence of a fence shouldn’t be an excuse for any commander to allow what happened in Jaji to take place.
He said that fencing of the barracks could only aid security but was not the only means of ensuring tight security maintenance.
He insisted that without adequate security, a fence could be scaled and even houses broken into to commit acts of criminality.
“Well, several of our barracks have not been fenced and in the last two years; we must have fenced maybe two or three, at most four. But we are talking about almost 80 barracks that are not fenced.
“So, doing that will entail a lot of resources, a lot of support which the current budget may not contain. But again, whether barracks are fenced or not, it does not serve as an excuse for any commander to allow what happened to happen.
“But one thing I would say is that the lack of fence compounds the challenge. So, every commander must think of ways of putting in his best to ensure that what happened in Jaji does not happen again.
“What is important is that you put in your best in terms of planning, in terms of security measures, in terms of intelligence. Even when barracks are fenced, fences could be climbed, houses could be broken up, and we are not going to fence cities. So, what it means is that fencing of barracks would not be the only solution but it would aid security,” Ihejirika said.
On the attack on SARS, investigations showed that contrary to the claim by the police, five Boko Haram members escaped during the incident.
It was also gathered that some of the attackers wore military and police uniforms. 
When contacted and asked about the arrest of policemen, the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, a chief superintendent of police, said he was not aware of any arrest.
“I don’t know whether some policemen were arrested in connection with the attack on SARS,” he said over the telephone on Thursday.

AMCON urges Court to okay sale of Capital Oil assets

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja
Travails of the Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, Mr Ifeanyi Uba, took a fresh dimension yesterday, as the Asset Management Corporation ofNigeria, AMCON, sought leave of a Federal High Court sitting inAbuja to sell all the petroleum products within the disposal of the embattled firm.
AMCON, through its lead counsel, Mr Kemi Balogun, made the oral application on a day the Managing Director of Capital Oil, Uba, also pleaded with the high court to go ahead and vacate the forfeiture order it earlier issued against the company.
Ifeanyi Uba
It would be recalled that the high court presided over by Justice Abdul Kafarati, had on November 13, ordered AMCON to take immediate possession of properties and assets of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, following allegation that the oil firm is indebted to AMCON to the tune of N48.014 billion.
Nevertheless, in a bid to reclaim possession of its assets, Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, re-approached the high court on November 22, begging it to vacate the interim order, even as it urged the court to grant it access to 50 percent of the credit balance in some of its accounts with the United Bank of Africa, UBA, to enable the company to pay salaries and attend to personal needs of its staff.
Despite vehement opposition that was raised against that application by AMCON, however, Justice Kafarati, said the defendants could withdraw 25 percent of the amount disclosed by UBA in an affidavit it tendered before the court, just as it slated yesterday to hear the application seeking to set aside the interim order that was issued against the company ab-initio.
Specifically, Uba and his distressed company sought an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the plaintiff from disposing, selling or leasing its properties, pending the determination of the suit.
An affidavit in support of the motion said both parties had agreed on modalities for re-payment of the loans and rescheduled payment to be spread over a period of eight years from 2013.
Aside the defendants, AMCON had also listed 21 banks with which the defendants operate different accounts.
It would be recalled that Uba and Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, were among the 113 companies and 419 directors/shareholders that the Central Bank ofNigeria, CBN, listed as AMCON debtors.
The banks have since been barred from extending further credit to the debtor companies and their directors until they repay their loans.
Meantime, at the resumed sitting on the matter yesterday, a team of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, comprising Chief Wole Olanipekun and  Lawal Rabana, begged the presiding judge to vacate the interim order that was made against the company, insisting that doing so will be in the interest of the general public.
It was their contention that the seizure of assets of the company had already manifested in scarcity of petroleum products across the federation, stressing that Capital Oil is the second largest supplier of fuel in Nigeria.
Moreover, Olanipekun, SAN, argued that AMCON was yet to commence the debt recovery action which he said was meant to be carried out within 14 days from the date the interim order was granted.
While opposing the application, AMCON, urged the court to okay sale of all the petroleum products within the disposal of the company, saying it intend to keep proceeds of the sale in an interest yielding account to be opened in the name of the Chief Registrar of the High Court.
Noting that the petroleum product has continued to evaporate, AMCON described Uba’s application as frivolous; stressing that the report of an inspection agency jointly set up by parties in the suit showed that the defendant had only 21 million liters of fuel in its tank, which he said was just enough to lastLagosStatefor only one day.
After listening to arguments from all the parties, Justice Kafarati adjourned the case till December 11 for ruling.

Uche Jombo drops wedding ring?

By Iyabo Aina

Six months after her secret wedding, one of Nollywood’s diva, Uche Jumbo, was spotted at a celebrity event recently without her wedding ring. She was caught in the cameras without her twain wedding bands at Ozone Cinemas, Yaba, Lagos.
Uche Jombo
Wearing a glowing red gown, Uche, who was looking respledent as usual, replaced her wedding ring with a fashion ring, which left many in the audience wondering whether her marriage has crashed or not.
The same way, Jackie Appiah’s marriage almost hit the rock, when rumours started flying  around after she was  spotted without her wedding ring at an event.

My mother-in-law crashed my first marriage – Mercy Aigbe

By OPEOLUWANI OGUNJIMI Mercy Aigbe needs no formal introduction as one of the most-sought- after actresses in Nollywood. She’s one of the top rated actresses who has paid her dues in the industry. In this interview with Showtime Celebrity,  Mercy opens up on many issues, including her marriage to her ex-husband, her recent marriage, career, challenges and others. Excerpt:
What’s been happening?
I have been busy working and some of my movies have been released in the market.  I just completed my most recent movie titled, Suru Lere(Patience Has Gain). I  also traveled to shoot the concluding part of my movie, Osas, and by December, we’re going to round everything up.
You started as an actress and now, you’re a producer, how has it been?
It hasn’t been easy because it involves more responsibilities.  As an established actress and now a producer, you want to give what people will see and respect. Producing movies that are not up to standard will affect the way people look at me. So, it’s double work because I also play lead roles in my movies.
How  much do you spend producing a movie?
Like I said, as a producer, I love to give out my best on a project. But with the kind of environment  we have here, one of my challenges is piracy. Sometimes, when you have a project and you’re to spend like N10m, you’ll always want to cut cost because you’re not sure pirates will allow you recoup your money. But at the same time, because of my status and the kind of person I am, I always want to do what I want to do.
You being a Benin woman, why did you choose to act in Yoruba movies?
I’ll say it’s providence because it’s not by choice. I didn’t know I would be more prominent in the Yoruba movie genre. But  I’m a professional- I studied Theater Arts at the University of Lagos. So maybe this is where God wants me to be for now.
Actually, I started off acting in soaps. I did a couple of soaps before going into Yoruba movies. And it was after I featured in few Yoruba movies that I started getting more scripts from Yoruba movie producers. It’s not as if I don’t get called up by non-Yoruba movie producers and it’s not as if I don’t want to diversify to feature in English movies or even produce mine, but for now, I’m okay with where I am .
You’re so fluent in Yoruba. Did you grow up in the West?
Yes, I grew up in Lagos but I would say I learnt the language on the job because before I started acting in Yoruba movies, I wasn’t fluent in the language. My father was the type who didn’t want us to lose our root so, most of the times, we speak Benin and English at home. It was because we lived in Lagos that I started picking up a bit of Yoruba. When I started, my scripts were written in Yoruba and I would pronounce words just anyhow. But because I love my job, I had to learn and as I continued acting, I got better with it.
So you knew you were going to be an actress?
Yes. That was why I went to study Theater Arts. I first went to Polytechnic, Ibadan where I had my OND in Financial Studies and Instead of  continuing with my HND,  I went to the University of Lagos for my degree in Theater Arts.
So what happened after the degree?
It wasn’t easy because I had to battle my dad  who never supported my decision to go into acting.  He didn’t believe I could earn a living with it. So it was hell until he consoled himself, in Nigeria, you don’t necessarily have to work with the certificate you have.
How much were you paid when you just started?
We were not paid at all. When I started, it wasn’t easy finding people who believed in me and take the risk to feature me in their movies especially to play lead because most producers wouldn’t be sure if one is capable of playing a character for a long time even after auditioning. So when I get opportunities to express myself as an upcoming, I was grateful even when I didn’t get paid. I wasn’t paid in most of the movies, and if I got paid at all, it was peanut.
Like How much?
I had been on the set of a movie for three weeks and at the end, I was paid N2000. And I remember on my way back home, I was crying because before I came into the industry, I already had a car and I was okay. So it was like leaving a lucrative job  for an unknown place where I wasn’t even sure I would be accepted. I think my passion for the job kept me on  until things became better.
What determines the kind of script you accept?
The number one thing is the script- it has to be well dialogued and has to make sense. I love to play a character that someone can learn from. Then comes the director, the casts and crew which matters a lot because it’s one thing to have a good script and another to bring it to life.
You said you don’t belong to any caucus. But actresses like Funke Akindele, Eniola Badmus, Bimbo Thomas and others belong to one. Are you a loner?
I’m not a loner o. I didn’t just have to join any caucus because after the movie, Ara, everybody just started giving me scripts. So, there was no need for it. But maybe I should say that I belong to all caucus because I have a good working relationship with everybody, whether it’s the Odunfas, Akos and others. Yinka Quadri, Oga Bello are my fathers and I work with them a lot.
And you didn’t get harassed by producers?
I wouldn’t call it harassment. Yes, men make passes at me because I’m very beautiful. It happens everywhere. I’m an adult and if I wanted to date someone, I would have but I didn’t date anyone.
Because I just believe that relationships in such industry doesn’t work.
You don’t trust anybody?
Exactly. I just have that thing at the back of my mind that such relationship won’t last long.
Was that what determined you choice of a husband?
Probably, but the thing is that I knew I wasn’t going to date anybody in the industry. So, I wasn’t attracted to anyone and didn’t allow any feeling to develop inside me for anyone. When I’m on set, I just do my job. But I can’t say it influenced my choice of husband. Fine, my husband isn’t in the industry. I didn’t know I would get married to a hotelier and a car dealer. I didn’t have a particular picture in mind. I just met him, fell in love with him because he was very kind, matured and understanding.
One hopes he doesn’t get jealous whenever you go to location for weeks?
It’s a lot of  hard work being a mother, wife and a professional and still be on top of my game. Sometimes, the whole thing just gets to me and I feel exhausted. But I have an understanding husband who loves my job and supports me. He knows I love my job, he knows I’m an independent woman and I love to work for my money. I love his money too o but there’s this pride that comes with me spending my money. So he supports me because he knows my job makes me happy and he doesn’t want to have an unhappy and unproductive wife at home.
Mercy Aigbe
Whenever I’m away on location, I make his food and keep in the freezer. I also have domestic staff who help me out . My mother also help me with the kids whenever I’m away.
Doesn’t he suspect you having an affair whenever you are away on set?
The reason he doesn’t doubt is because when we were dating, I didn’t give him any cause to doubt me. According to him, he has tested me and he trusts me.
So how do you cope being the second wife. Don’t you and the first wife have clashes?
Laughs. This question is very funny and I’m going to deal with this now. What happened is that when I met him, he was already separated from his first wife. Although, they were still married,  but  no longer together. She lives abroad with the children. So, they were already separated when we started dating.
They weren’t divorced?
They weren’t divorced as at the time when I met him but now, they’ve finalized their divorce and I’m the only wife. They were separated for like five years before I came into the picture and their divorce case was in court. They were divorced before we got married. A lot of people don’t know the real gist- now I’m not the second wife but the only wife.
So now you’re happy?
Yes because even when I started dating him, I just allowed people to say whatever they wanted to say. They were still in court then, I didn’t want to say anything and just kept quiet and the town went agog. They finalized their divorce before our wedding and even before I had my son.
You’re a very beautiful woman, how do you cope with male advances?
I get a lot of that because people tell me I don’t look my age. I get a lot of male advances and it makes me feel good because I get reassured of my beauty even after two kids. So I tease my husband about it. A times I even let him know whenever someone makes passes at me so he can know I’m still hot. But jokes apart, I’m a married woman and I don’t want anything that will stain my name. I love my home and I pray to remain married for the rest of my life.  I always know how to draw the line.
So how does he handle it whenever you get advances from men?
He just squeezes his face and asks me if I don’t know that I’m old and I just tease him back that it’s only to him that I’m old, the other guys don’t know that and we just laugh it off. But I think he likes the fact that men make passes at me- I think you should ask him that. But to me, we just joke about it.
Aren’t you due for another baby because your boy is two years old now(laughs)
Yes, I want to have another one by the special grace of God.
So what are you waiting for?
It’s God that gives and I know he’ll do it very soon.
Does your ex husband still bother you?
No, he doesn’t
Did he let you be just like that?
Of course.
Has he moved on like you?
I don’t know anything about him.
Both of you don’t care?
Why would I care? I’m married now and I care only about my husband and my kids.
Are you not bothered about the negative gist in town concerning it?
I don’t have any business with him again. That’s my past. My husband and my children are my present and future.
Divorce cases are many now. How do you hope to remain married again?
It’s not me and I don’t have the power to keep my home. All I’m  determined to do is my best in the relationship. What I’ve done as a woman is to take my marriage to God because the divorce cases are scary. It’s everywhere. Ladies of nowadays are independent and don’t care about marriage.
In the past, single mothers used to lie about their status but today, ladies flaunt it, the world is changing. I’m going to sound a bit spiritual here- the devil is against marriage because it was instituted by God. And anything that has been done by God, he wants to make sure he pulls it down.
Marriage is meant to be sacred but it is no longer like that anymore. A lot of things have changed, even men don’t care what broken home can do to their kids. I feel our spiritual leaders should address it and make people start thinking of the vision God had about marriage.
I’ve been a victim of divorce once and I know what my daughter went through because I had an issue from that marriage. I don’t want to see any of my children go through that again, and that’s why I’ve taken my marriage to God.
So what were those mistakes you made in the last one that you wouldn’t want to repeat in this one?
It’s not like I’m  trying to sound holy but, I didn’t make any mistake. I just feel it was meant to be like that. I had a mother-in-law who didn’t like where I come from. She didn’t like the fact that her son didn’t marry a lady from their village. She made me go through hell. At a point when I couldn’t take it any more, I left the marriage.
So you wouldn’t blame those ladies who wish their mother-in-laws were dead before they got married?
I swear I wouldn’t blame them. If I think back to what I went through, I wouldn’t pray for anyone to go through such because I went through hell in the hands of that woman. And for me to have woken up one day and decided to leave, it wasn’t easy because I was young and tried my best to please her. But she wasn’t pleased. I went out of my way to learn their language, learn how to cook different dishes just to please her but she didn’t bulge.
So what did your ex-husband do about it?
At first, he actually fought it but some women have a strong hold on their sons. In the end, he obeyed her. He didn’t like it that I was leaving but he couldn’t hold me back at the same time because he wanted to please his mum. We had fought the battle for a long time and it wasn’t as if it would come to an end, I had to leave.
Have you ever been broke in your entire adult life so far?
Of course, I had when I left my job for acting. But it wasn’t as if it was that bad because before I left my job, I already made a provision. I had a cosmetic and fashion accessories shop. I knew I would face financial challenges as an upcoming actress. It wasn’t that bad, I ‘ve just been blessed.

Lagos big boys’ restaurants where food sells for N10,000 per plate •Plate of pepper soup goes for N4,000

Chukwuma Okparaocha
The Holy Book  says “Money answereth all things.” The affluent (also known in some quarters as ‘Big Boys’) in Lagos surely have a way of making their money ‘answer’ many things for them — including the kind of food they eat out, and where. Lagos streets are swarming with different grades of restaurants and food joints, which Nigerians have dubbed bukateria. These are, most times, cafeterias run exclusively for the common man; places where food is served based on the financial capability of patrons.
In many of such places, customers are made to sit on wooden benches while food is served, often in aluminium plates on wooden tables. Those bukataria operators who are a bit refined in taste go for plastic chairs and tables.
Such bukaterias are available almost in all heavily populated but low-income areas of Lagos. However, there is usually a higher concentration of them on the Mainland, especially in places such as Oshodi, Mushin, Isolo, Ilasamaja, Ajegunle, Ojuelegba, among others; and in Lagos Island (also known as Eko), especially Obalende,  CMS, Ebute-Meta and Ebute-Ero.
One thing common to all such places is that with as little as N200, you are assured of a full meal, which could be eba, amala, fufu (all local meals made from cassava), pounded yam, rice, bread, yam, among others.
But the ‘big boys’ in Lagos seem to have a different idea of what eating should be, as evident in the kind of places they visit and the type of food they eat. While the common man’s bukaterias at best sound as local as they look (‘Iya Adunni Food Canteen,’ etc) or go without names at all, names of ‘big boys’ restaurants themselves suggest opulence and class.
It is not uncommon to hear Tush (a common Nigerian coinage for ‘Westernised’ and ‘refined’) names such as Shelaton, Saipan, Ikoyi Hotel Suya, Santa Fe, Ocean View, La Dolce Vita, Jevinic, Lobster Pot, Big Fish, among others.
Although elitist areas such as Ikoyi and Victoria Island play host to many of such high class restaurants, quite a few of them can be found in Apapa and some relatively expensive locations in Ikeja, such as Allen Avenue and Ikeja GRA.
Continental dishes usually cost more than local ones, but none comes particularly cheap.
In some of such places visited by Saturday Tribune, for one to be served a plate of food, he must be ready to spend between N6,000 and N10,000, while in other places a plate of food could go for as low as N2000, depending on the kind of food one desires.
Even popular fast food eateries in Ikoyi also cash in on the opulent ambience they provide to charge exhorbitant fees, as most food and drinks there cost almost twice what is charged for the same products by the same eateries on the Mainland.
Saturday Tribune’s correspondent had to pay N200 for 75cl bottle of table water at a popular eatery in Ikoyi, whereas the same bottle costs N100 or even less in other outlets of the same eatery elsewhere on the Mainland.
Continental dishes, which are in most cases vailable only in five-Star hotels, are also available in the ‘big boys’ restaurants — which are often owned and run by foreigners who use the opportunity to treat customers to their native diets.
For instance, there are some of these restaurants that are owned by Indians, Ghanaians, Chinese, Thais and Japanese.
Wines and tea served in those places at the request of the ‘big boys’ come from virtually all the continents of the world. There are wines from France, Chile, Australia, South Africa and China.
Even the ‘point and kill’ restaurants (term used to describe outlets where live fish are ordered and processed on the spot) for the ‘big boys’ also come with a taste and class totally different from the conventional ones. For example, at a popular ‘point and kill’ joint in Apapa, a plate of freshly killed and broiled cat fish pepper soup goes for as much as N4000. Of course, it is usually served in expensive plates, and in a room overlooking the extension of the Lagoon.
Business in such restaurants, according to information gathered, gradually picks up as the day winds up, but it reaches its peak at weekends, when rich men and women could be spotted driving to the premises of the restaurants in their expensive cars. Some come with their families, while some show up with their lovers.
A frequent customer of a popular and expensive ‘point and kill’ restaurant in Apapa, Segun Ojo, enthused: “I still don’t know any other place around Apapa where pepper soup is done better (than here). The point-and-kill thing works for me all the time. I love their fish. This is indeed a decent place to have a tasty meal after the day’s job. During my breaks, I also visit the place to have a bite of Shawama, which is fresh and mouth-watering. With as little as N3000, you are bound to have a jolly good time. This is the best around Apapa.”
At another restaurant in Ikoyi, obviously owned by a Thai, a foreign attendant revealed that everything at the restaurant is done to portray the tradition of Bangkok, where each dish is always well spiced.
“The cooks and waitresses are all Thai. We offer people a broad menu of fragrantly spiced dishes. Portions are very generous, and if you can’t finish your meal, you could take it home in a well packaged doggie bag,” she revealed.

Ms. Onagoruwa: The Bell Tolls for Arunma Oteh

N0304212-Bolanle-Onagoruwa.jpg - N0304212-Bolanle-Onagoruwa.jpg
Ms. Bolanle Onagoruwa
Political Observatory
Ms. Bolanle Onagoruwa was last Tuesday added to the list of ex-bosses of the Bureau of Public Enterprises. Though no official explanation has been given, at least till now, for her sack as D-G, the immediate cause would be the shoddy handling of the $23.6 million Transmission Company of Nigeria contract to Canadian firm Manitoba Hydro International, which was cancelled and restored again by the Presidency. Reinstating the Manitoba contract after it was initially cancelled would have been a tough one for President Jonathan as it may create fears in investors’ minds in respect of the handling of the power privatization projects.  But truth is Onagoruwa’s reign at BPE had been turbulent, The National Council on Privatisation headed by Vice-President Namadi Sambo had not been comfortable with the handling of BPE affairs by Onagoruwa. There were some disagreements over bids for some power firms. The most virulent attack on Onagoruwa, however, came from the Senate. 
The Senate had last year adopted the report of its ad hoc committee on privatisation and commercialisation, which called for Onagoruwa’s sack for alleged gross incompetence in the management of the privatisation process. And the Senate had been strident in this demand. Once Onagoruwa came to defend her corporation’s budget before the Senate committee and was sent back. So, if you ask me, the remote cause of Onagoruwa’s sack would be the Senate’s demand, which it would appear the President heeded at last. But is Onagoruwa’s sack a foretaste of what may befall Ms. Arunma Oteh, the Director-General of the Security and Exchange Commission who has had an open disagreement with the Capital Market Committee of the House of Representatives and by extension, the House?  I think so.
The House had also demanded Oteh’s sack. Oteh may have had her problems at the SEC, particularly her perceived highhandedness, lack of prudence and all of that, however, she has succeeded in exposing the chicanery of the House committee under Hon. Herman Hembe. Yet the House insisted she must go. And methinks President Jonathan may also in the fullness of time cave in on the demand as a way of straightening the rough edges in his relationship with the House. Therefore, I think with the sacking of Onagoruwa, the bell tolls for Oteh.

Jonathan Consoles Buhari Over Daughter’s Death

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday commiserated with former Head of State, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) on the death of his eldest daughter, Zulaihatu, saying he feels the pains the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) founder  was going through on the tragic loss of a beloved child.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, in a statement said Jonathan in a condolence letter to Gen.Buhari prayed God to comfort and grant him and members of his family succour from the pain of losing a beloved child who has been nurtured and raised to adulthood.
Abati quoted the president as saying: “I write to extend very sincere commiserations to you and your family on the death of your eldest daughter, Zulaihatu yesterday, November 29, 2012.
“I can well imagine the profound pain, sadness and sorrow brought upon you by the tragic loss of a beloved child whom you have nurtured and raised to adulthood.
“My heart goes out to you as you mourn Zulaihatu. I pray that God Almighty comforts you and grants you and your family succour at this very traumatic time for all who knew and loved her.”

The president we need in 2015

By Muyiwa Adetiba
Last week, my friend and neighbour Dr Kingsley Kola Akinroye (KK), was formerly presented to a diverse but select crowd of expatriates and Nigerians as the Honorary Consul of Finland. It was the peaking of a romance that started about 15 years ago, and which hopefully, will still have many peaks.
As a young doctor who had chosen cardiology as his area of study, he had gone to Finland to find out how a country which at a point, had one of the highest heart diseases in the world, turned itself around to becoming a country with one of the lowest heart diseases. He had been intrigued by what he found in this tiny, rugged country and that fascination kept him going there again and again. Hence the beginning of what, hopefully, will be a mutually beneficial relationship.
Two months ago, in exchange for a book on Collin Powel which I cherish, my friend had given me a book on Finland. I didn’t think at that time that it was a good deal. After all, I had come across such PR books during my years of travel. But this book was different. For one, it was written by an outsider who had been fascinated and assimilated by Finland. An intellectual, he was able to explain the feat that forefathers of Finland who transformed the country, had performed, in management terms.
Finland is a tiny country that has been made cold and unfriendly by nature. It is also a country with very few natural resources. But what it lacked from nature, was more than compensated for in men and women who are fiercely patriotic and courageous.

Twice, it fought wars that many people thought it could not win. One of them was with Russia, a sprawling, powerful neighbour that wanted to swallow Finland up. To end the war, Russia demanded a hefty sum as compensation. Finnish leaders preferred to ‘pay the price of freedom’ even if it meant working their collective fingers to the bone. Finland eventually paid Russia off by producing superior goods that could be marketed in Russia and never looked back after that.
Today, Finland is one of the most prosperous European countries and as usually follows, one of the least corrupt in the world. Its strength has been in education and research and has some of the most advanced research institutes in the world. An average Fin, according to the book, has a logical, analytical mind.
So why am I bringing this up? What has Nigeria to learn from the Finnish example? Its education, education and education. The lesson here is that the future of the world does not lie in oil, gold or such natural resources any more. It is in education. President Obama of the US recognised this four years ago when he made re-educating Americans a campaign promise. He reiterated it again during the last campaign. For America, he said, to compete and take jobs back from China and the Asian countries, America must have higher training and higher skills which in the final analysis, mean higher education.
At home, our ‘leaders’ are still busy fighting over revenue allocation. Neighbours – Anambra, Kogi, Rivers and Bayelsa – are fighting themselves over newly discovered oil. Instead of fighting over what is under the ground, why don’t we develop what is over the ground – the human resource? Instead of fretting over depleting assets, why don’t we worry over renewable assets – the human brain?
As it is, many countries in Africa have discovered oil. Worse still, our two main markets, America and China are looking inwards. On top of it all, the rest of the world is moving away from oil to cleaner, more renewable forms of energy.
If certain leaders don’t want to move ahead, then we should leave them behind. This is the time to forget tribal, religious and political affiliations and come 2015, choose a competent, visionary leader from any corner of Nigeria who will put education on the front burner.
Would it be possible, for example, for our new President, to pick the best five universities now and make them centres of excellence with a mandate to be among the world’s top 50 in five year’s time? Let the country’s brightest and best, irrespective of state of origin, be enrolled in these universities.
Let them be run by highly acclaimed Nigerians picked from anywhere in the world, who are driven by excellence and the need to leave a legacy (it should still be possible to find a few I hope) Let the academic and administrative staff be the best we can muster. Then let these universities be the yardstick for the others.
In the mean time, let the clamour for a new man in Aso Rock begin; A man who will have the vision to prepare our young ones for the challenges of the knowledge driven 21st century.
Let the social media, the Save Nigeria Group, and other Civil Societies begin to look for a man (or woman) that most of us can back, not because of his religious, tribal, or political leaning but because of his intellect, passion and vision.

PDP: Cult or political party?

PDP: Cult or political party?
The National Executive Committee (NEC), of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is finalizing arrangement to set up a Reconciliation Committee that would tour the whole country to soothe strained nerves among the party members and bring back members that left its fold. RAZAQ BAMIDELE, in this report examines the obstacles the committee is likely to encounter going by the reports that some PDP governors are bent on frustrating the reconciliation efforts.
When Alhaji Bamanga Tukur assumed office as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he promised to reconcile all the aggrieved members of the party to ensure peace and harmony within the party. In addition to that, he also promised to bring back to its fold, aggrieved members that left the party in annoyance with the aim of building a very big and stronger party. He hoped to achieve success where his predecessors failed as the committee the party currently under his leadership is planning to set up is not the first of its kind that had been set up in the past which had yielded no fruitful result.
Barrier to successful reconciliation
Daily Sun gathered authoritatively that past efforts at reconciling the aggrieved members and bringing in those who left the party in annoyance were in vain due to what observers belief is PDP Governors’ resolve to hold the party by the jugular with a view to having it in their pockets.” By doing so, they intend to frustrate any member considered to be so powerful and popular that can challenge and whittle down their power.
Even as the National Working Committee (NWC), under Bamanga Tukur also plans to embark on a nationwide reconciliation efforts, some state governors and party chieftains are said to be prepared to resist the move with a view to frustrating the committee and preventing it from achieving its goal.
A member of the NWC, who spoke with Daily Sun on condition of anonymity complained that “it is unfortunate that some of our governors are constituting obstacles towards reconciliation that can open up political space in their states by blocking all efforts to bring back members that had left the party.”
A source close to the NWC complained that “the case of Abia State is worrisome,” explaining that “even the State Governor, Theodore Orji, who himself decamped from the Progressive People Alliance (PPA), on which platform he was made governor even while in custody, protested the planned re-admittance of his  former boss, Orji Uzor Kalu into the PDP!”
It would be recalled that last week, Theodore Orji led a delegation to Abuja to protest the planned re-admittance of former governor Orji Uzor Kalu back to the PDP.
Daily Sun gathered that some of the antics of the governors to block notable personalities into the party is that they so pocket the party in their various states that nobody gets registered without their consent. The party, at state level is therefore being run like a cult contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution that guarantee freedom of association.
Freedom of association
While commenting on the development, a chieftain of the PDP and former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Lekan Balogun frowned at attempts by some governors to narrow the political space describing such as “anti-democracy and against constitutional provision.”
Senator Balogun, who spoke with Daily Sun on phone said “it doesn’t make sense to deny anybody right of association,” stating that “the choice to associate should be personal and nobody is qualify to define it for me.”
While asserting that the cultist antics of the governors would not augur well for the PDP, Chief Balogun cited the case of Orji Uzor Kalu as an example saying “as a popular politician who has followership, his people can bring luck to the party and make it stronger and more formidable.”
In party affairs, Balogun continues, “you don’t need to be my friend to be in the same party with me,” adding that “it is not a criterion to like somebody’s face before you allow him into your party as political party is supposed to be an all inclusive one.”
The Ibadan Oyo State based politician then frowned at what he termed “arbitrary use of power by the governors,” warning that “if not curbed can constitute great danger to the party in 2015.”
Former Governor of Ekiti State and National Vice Chairman of the PDP for South-West, Mr. Olusegun Oni, however denied that some governors are frustrating reconciliation and blocking re-admittance of former members, saying it is the media that has been speculating what is not nearer to the reality on ground.
According to him, all members of the PDP, the governors inclusive “are working towards expansion of the party with a view to making it stronger, much more acceptable  and more formidable.”
He however admitted that “in every human organization, there is always conflict and conflict resolution,” just as he admitted that “the party may not admit aspirants who might want to pocket the party so that the results of the primaries would be known even before the exercise is conducted.”
Oni further advised that “former members, who want to come back should do so in a manner that would not offend those they are coming to meet in the party,” saying “what we desire in the party is peace across all the levels of the party.”
The South-West PDP leader also asserted that “Bamanga Tukur is fully in charge of the party,” insinuating that “only those who would not want to work with us towards the direction of peace and thereby cause unnecessary tension may have problem being with us.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Olisa Metu also comes in defense of the governors saying “they are strongly in support of the reconciliation efforts of the PDP.”
In a telephone conversation with Daily Sun, the party spokesman said generalization of the blockade allegation is unfair saying such a blanket accusation is unacceptable.
However, he agreed that there was a design to prevent some former members from coming back to the party. When asked to explain, Metu said any unrepentant member, who has penchant for causing confusion and confrontation.
Though he agrees that there are constitutional provisions for freedom of association, he quickly added that his party also has its own constitution that contains some rules that guide its affairs and operations.
While expressing confidence that the PDP will continue to wax stronger and win election in Nigeria, the party’s image maker informed that “we are not afraid of any opposition,” saying “we even like a virile opposition with which we can engage in intellectual discourse.”
He sees nothing strange or frightening in having a virile opposition which he said “will come out to tell the people its own programme with a view to seeking votes for mandate.”
According to him, with the reformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan administration, PDP will continue to win elections in Nigeria.
Virile opposition
With the suspected cracks in the PDP occasioned by the governors over bearing attitude, political analysts are of the belief that, were it to be in a clime where there is virile opposition, they would have cashed in to send the PDP packing in 2015.
Though the National Publicity Secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (AC N), Alhaji Lai Muhammed, declined to “meddle in the PDP internal affairs,” he volunteered that “no political party would close its door against new members.”
He however clarified that “inspite of that, we have to be weary of who to admit,” predicting however, that “PDP days are numbered.”

Okonjo-Iweala to explain cash squeeze

Okonjo-Iweala to explain cash squeeze
WHY is there little cash to run the budget? Is Nigeria broke?
These were the questions yesterday when Petroleum Resources Minister Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke appeared before a joint committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives to defend her ministry’s 2013 budget proposal.
Finance Minister Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala is to explain why ministries and agencies are not adequately funded.
Six committees of the National Assembly were involved in the budget defence. They include Petroleum Upstream, Downstream and Gas of both the lower and upper chambers.
Though some of the lawmakers, apparently out of frustration, murmured that the session was a “jamboree” and left; others, especially committee chairmen, stayed till the end of the exercise.
The Minister told the lawmakers that of N2.2billion capital appropriation for the ministry’s 2012 budget, only N820million or 41 per cent was released.
She added that of the N820million, the ministry spent N759million, representing 93 per cent performance.
The lawmakers wondered what was going on about release of funds to ministries from the 2012 appropriation.
Senator Danjuma Goje was particularly worried that something was wrong with the manner the Federal Government releases funds to MDAs.
He was worried that if the “goose that lays the golden egg” received less than half of its approved budget as at November 2012, then it meant that something was amiss with the running of the economy.
He said he was aware that most MDAs had been complaining of poor release of funds.
Goje said: “If your ministry that produces the petroleum, which is a major source of income for the country, is being poorly funded, then it is very disappointing and discouraging.
“Is it that you are no longer producing? Is it that what you have produced is not being sold? Or is it that the buyers are refusing to pay for the products?
“I am aware that the crude oil benchmark in the 2012 Appropriation Bill is far lower than the current market price for oil in the international market.
“So if the money is not there to be released to the ministries, like your own for capital projects, where do they get the money they pay into the excess crude account?
“The question is, where is the money? Maybe Nigerians need to ask the Minister of Finance where she kept the country’s money. It is necessary that Nigerians, through the parliament are told where their money is.”
The chairman of the joint committee, Senator Emmanuel Paulker said it was unacceptable for only 41 per cent of the ministry’s budget to have been released close to end of November.
Paulker said: “Production of 150 million barrels of crude oil a day is not a mean figure. We don’t see how you can meet up.
“We only have December left for 2012 and that is why we are worried. The Senate has adjourned for one week today to enable Committee Chairmen prepare the 2013 budget for passage before the end of the year. We are not pleased at all.”
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Gas, Nkechi Nwaogu, noted that the problem is that of the Minister of Finance, who she said did not release funds to the MDAs.
She added that the Minister should be asked to explain where the money is, especially now that the year is coming to an end.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke, spoke to reporters on persistent fuel scarcity, She said: “We will try and ensure that now that verifications in terms of subsidy, the Aig-Imhokuede report has been completed, and payments are beginning to go out to the marketers, you can see already that petrol queues are lessening around the country.
“We will again begin to push…you will recall that before these period of strikes and fuel subsidy problems, we had ensured that Nigeria was wet all around the country with petrol.
“So, it was not on our instance. There have been issues that all Nigerians know. We cannot eat our cake and have it. If we have exposed issues in the payment of fuel subsidy and manipulations in that system, then it has to be adequately investigated.

OBJ’S Criminal Insensitivity

OBJ’S Criminal Insensitivity

By Waheed Shittu

The recent recommendation of the Odi solution by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a way out of the Boko Haram insurgency in some parts of Northern Nigeria calls for a critical evaluation. The former President who spoke recently at a public event in Warri was quoted as having said that the Boko Haram menace would not have escalated so much if President Goodluck Jonathan had taken a cue from how he (Obasanjo) handled the Odi incidence thirteen years ago.
For the benefit of readers, Odi, a small rural community in Bayelsa, south-south Nigeria was invaded by hundreds of armed soldiers on the 20th of November, 1999 on the order of the then President. The event preceding that invasion was the cold blooded murder of twelve police men by some youths within the vicinity of Odi on the 4th and 5th, November of the same year. The eventual invasion of the Ijaw community resulted in the death of thousands of locals; most of them women, children and aged men. At the end of the dawn raid, none of the youths who allegedly perpetuated the criminal act was apprehended by the soldiers.
Rather, according to reports by several civil society organizations and human rights groups, residential buildings and economic concerns were razed by the rampaging soldiers while the siege lasted.  The aftermath of what has come to be known as the Odi massacre is a further militarization of the Niger-Delta region resulting in almost a decade of bombings, killings and kidnappings before the amnesty programme.
It was therefore sad and certainly disheartening that the former President under whose tenure the country witnessed series of violent communal and religious clashes in different degrees could refer to the ordering of troops on innocent civilians as an act of “strong leadership”. It will be recalled that while many states in Northern Nigeria boiled in years 2000 and 2001 as a result of the introduction of the Sharia Legal system by some state governments, the then President Obasanjo refused to apply the use of force to solve the problem claiming that it would soon fizzle out and termed it political Sharia. Obasanjo even refused all entreaties to approach the Supreme Court and challenge the legality of the introduction of Sharia Legal System by these states of the federation; describing it as unnecessary and diversionary. Yet, this was a man whom a year or two earlier had ordered troops into a small community of Nigerians and has not even regretted the loss of lives among unarmed civilians.
Why did the former President’s vaunted courage fail him in dealing with problems in the Northern part of Nigeria which threatened the corporate existence of the Nation and suddenly found forceful expression in matters dealing with the minority? Would the former President cede out any other part of Nigeria in the North or even the South West as he did to Bakassi as a means of making the international community happy about his botched third term agenda? These are some of the questions which many Nigerians would want the former President to respond to if he actually wants to be taken seriously about his prescriptions on the Boko Haram insurgency.
For now, it does appear that the actual desire of Obasanjo is to portray President Jonathan as incapable of solving a problem, which is apparently being curtailed by the proactive policies of Mr. President and professional conduct of security agencies.
This act is clearly unbecoming of a statesman and suggestive of some hidden agenda, which may not be totally unconnected with Obasanjo’s desire to dictate the pace of in the national politics of 2015. Our candid advice is that rather than heat up the polity with these kinds of utterances, the former President should have some moment of sober reflection on the Odi massacre and seek necessary restitution with God and man. Nigeria has witnessed enough shedding of innocent blood and must start behaving as a member of an international community, which respects the rule of law and sanctity of human life.