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Okonjo-Iweala under fire as British agents set to replace Customs


Bayo Akomolafe


he Nigerian Customs Service is at daggers drawn with the Minister of Finance and Economy, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-

Iweala, over the insistence to bring the British Crown Agents to collect revenue at the Nigerian seaports and borders. The minister had indicated that the new policy became necessary in order to improve revenue

generation and collection at the nation’s seaports and borders and also to erase the identified loopholes, criticisms and controversies in the current process by the Customs. However, the Customs are unhappy that replacing

them with the British Crown Agent in revenue collection at the ports would have erased all the gains the country has made in the last 17 years, since 1996 when the reforms at ports began. The Seme Border

Advisor, West Africa Trade Hub, Mr. Olu Ogunojemite, told Daily Newswatch that the country stands to lose all it had gained in nearly two decades if the British Continued on page 2

Daily Newswatch

-Tradition built on Truth

Vol. 1, No. 2

d b 18 2013. 2013 Monday, February 18,


Pope Benedict XVI during his penultimate Angelus prayer session as pontiff at the St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, where he thanked Christian faithful for their support and asked them to pray for him as he resigns... yesterday

I was dead for 7days –Patience Jonathan


Clement Nwoji, Abuja

irst Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, yesterday recalled her experience in a German hospital from where she returned late last year, saying she actually died in the course of serial surgeries. She said she was unconscious for seven days, a ributing her recovery to God. Mrs. Jonathan said in the course of her treatment, she underwent nine di erent surgeries in one month, during which her intestines and

tummy were opened each time. The First Lady explained that she actually passed out for more than a week, but God, in his infinite mercy, decided that it was not yet time for her to die. She, however, lamented that during her painful travails, her close friends betrayed her by leaking every information about her deteriorating condition. She further said some of the friends even sold o many of her belongings under their care, with the belief that she would never recover.

Dame Jonathan, who relived her gruelling ordeal yesterday at a special thanksgiving service at the Aso Villa Chapel, Presidential Villa, to mark her full recovery, said during the illness she remembered the experience of the late Stella Obasanjo who died from her illness as a si ing First Lady. “I remember when Chief Obasanjo was the President of the country, I was close to his late wife, Stella. We worshipped together in this chapel. It was a painful moment Continued on page 2

‘I am not Lazarus but my experience was similar to his. My doctors said all hope was lost... some people leaked the information that I was dead. They are people that I trust and rely on; to them, I was dead and I would never return to the country alive. Some of them even sold my things off’

I’ll win S/East for APC –Okorocha Pg 76 Treat Boko Haram like MEND –IBM Haruna Pg 4



Daily Newswatch

FEBRUARY 18, 2013

I was in coma, operated 9 times – Patience Jonathan Continued from page 1 for me that time; when she died and her corpse was brought here. “That was how my corpse would have been brought here. It was not an easy experience for me. I actually died, I passed out for more than a week. My intestine and tummy were opened,” she stated. She added: “I am not Lazarus, but my experience was similar to his. My doctors said all hope was lost. “A black doctor in London who is with us in this service was flown in when the situation became critical. It was God himself in His infinite mercy that

said I would return to Nigeria. God woke me up after seven days.” Dame Jonathan lamented that, “I know that some people somehow leaked the information that I was dead. They are people that I trust and rely on; to them, I was dead and I would never return to the country alive. Some of them even sold my things o .” Dame Patience said God was on her side and saved her, adding that because her life was saved, she had resolved to dedicate herself to doing things that touch the lives of the less privileged. “I won’t say everything here. It is the Lord’s doing that I returned alive. When

President Jonathan and First Lady during the thanksgiving service. See more pictures on page 75 Photo: Anayo Opara

God says yes, nobody can say no. “People are always afraid of operation (surgery), but

in my own case, while my travail lasted, I was begging for it (surgery) after the third operation,

because I was going to the theatre everyday. “It was God who saw me through. I did eight or nine operations within one month. It was not an easy one. The day I came back, I said, ‘God I have nothing to say. I o er myself to you. I will be doing things that will touch the lives of the less privilege.’ “God gave me a second chance because I reached there. He knew I have not completed the assignments He gave me, that was why I was sent back,” she said. The First Lady was flown to Germany last July after she was said to have been seriously ill and after treatment, she

returned to the country in October to a rousing welcome by family and aides. However, she did not disclose the ailment she was treated for. Also, this year, she had to travel to Germany for medical check-ups as directed by her doctors, who had insisted she must always abide by the prescription for regular medical checks. She travelled after she accompanied her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan, to the inter-denominational service held to mark the 2013 Armed Forces Remembrance Day at the National Ecumenical Centre, Abuja.

Okonjo-Iweala under fire as British agents set to replace Customs Continued from page 1

Vice President, Arc. Mohammed Namadi Sambo (right), welcoming Northern Sudan Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Tageisir Mohgovb, during a courtesy call at the State House Abuja.

15 die in Kano fire, road mishap


Ted Odogwu, Kano

t was a double tragedy in Kano yesterday when five children of a university don lost their lives in an inferno and 10 others perished in a road accident. All the five children of the Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Kano State University of Science and Technology, Magaji Tambaya, were said to have been burnt beyond recognition in the midnight fire at their WRECA

residence in Panshekara, a suburb of Kano. The 10 passengers that lost their lives in an auto crash met their untimely death Saturday night in Takai Local Government Area when a Golf car allegedly collided with a heavy-duty vehicle, burning all the passengers on board. The road accident in Takai yesterday brought to 15, the number of people killed within 24 hours, and increased to 20, those that have died in auto crashes in the area within one week.

Scores of people were also reported to have sustained varying degree of injuries, when a Hiace passenger bus collided with a J5 bus on Saturday on Kano- Kari Federal Highway. O cials of the Kano State Fire Service disclosed that “the fire incident at the o cial residence of the lecturer occurred at about 1.50am”, early yesterday. Kashim Musa Bichi, who is the Head of Operations of the Fire Unit, said the cause of the fire could not be immediately ascertained,

adding that it was not easy for his men as they faced di culties pu ing o the fire. While disclosing that investigation into the fire incident has commenced, Bichi however appealed to the residents to handle issues relating to fire with utmost care precaution. The Head of Fire Service disclosed that the corpses of the slain and those injured have been conveyed to Dan’masara General Hospital, near Dutse, Jigawa state capital.”

Crown Agents are brought to the nation’s ports and borders. He explained that the new policy would require training and retraining of all stakeholders in the system, including the Customs, traders, banks and other individuals, in order to make it work. “We have started this modernization since 1996 and what we would have gained for over 17 years is not just anything, but huge. So, why are we should we je ison it for another thing?” he queried. He stated that, “I want to see the arguments to justify why the crown agents should take over the country’s ports. I am part of the Destination Inspection scheme. We began with the Automated System for Customs Data (ASSYCUDA), which we used for the modernisation of the Customs and also to fashion out be er trade information.” Ogunojemite explained that “the minister was not properly briefed otherwise she would have known that the crown agents do not belong to the trade facilitation. They belong to retired Customs o cers who set up the organisation in 1998. It has nothing to do with the British Government. They should give us examples of countries where they have implemented their plans; but they cannot.

“In 2004, they had tried to come back. If the minister had gone into her records, she should have asked why these people are so particular about taking over the job of Nigeria Customs Service.” He stressed that the country would lose all it had gained if the crown agents are asked to collect revenue at the ports. “We have started this modernization since 1996 –2012 and what we would have gained in those years would be lost if we allow the crown agents to take over revenue collection at the ports.” However, Dr. Zebulon Ikokide, National President, Nigerian Institute of Freight Forwarding (NIFF), explained that government decision could be good, especially in checking the excesses of Customs o cials on trade facilitation. Ikokide noted that there are a lot of loopholes in the area of revenue collection, saying if the crown agents take over, these could be blocked. “The Customs o cials pay lip service to trade facilitation; they don’t encourage stakeholders, especially where it is necessary to enhance trade facilitation. I believe the crown agents know how to facilitate trade because they are disciplined,” he said, advising the Customs to concentrate on security of the nation’s porous borders.

Daily Newswatch

monday, February 18, 2013



ACN slams PDP over Yoruba marginalisation


c t i o n Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has said Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is exposing its own folly,


blaming the glaring marginalisation of the Yoruba by the Jonathan administration on the ACN, saying the PDP has nothing but contempt for the country, especially the Yoruba. Reacting to the allegation by Dr Doyin Okupe that the “Yoruba people in the ACN conspired against the Yoruba” to scu le the election of a Yoruba as Speaker of the House of Representatives, ACN National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said in a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday that the party is not bound by the shifty and phony zoning

formula of the PDP. “If the PDP had indeed wanted a Yoruba as Speaker, the party should either have won enough seats in the South West or used its majority in the House to push through its anointed candidate. Failure to ensure the election of its candidate is a reflection of the insincerity of the PDP about the zoning of the post to Yoruba and the gross indiscipline in the party of ta ered umbrella. “In any case, the last option open to the PDP would have been to support any other Yoruba for the post across party lines. We the ACN have very capable members

in the House to serve as Speaker. But the truth is that the ruling party wants a PDP member, not a Yoruba, for the post. “Therefore we are not surprised that the PDP easily acquiesced to the defeat of its Yoruba candidate for the post of Speaker. The PDP zoning formula is pivoted on convenience rather than principle. After all, the zoning was easily je isoned to pave the way for Jonathan to contest as President,” he said. ACN said even if the PDP had not succeeded in giving the post of Speaker to Yoruba in accordance with its socalled zoning formula,

it could have rewarded them with known choice ministries or other top appointments, instead of totally relegating a whole people into irrelevance in its scheme of things. The party slammed the PDP for playing the ethnic card, and rejected the cheeky and devilish move by the PDP to pigeon-hole the ACN into an ethnic cocoon. “We are a national party and our spread a ests to it. We have shown by supporting the election of Aminu Tambwal as Speaker of the House that our agenda is not sectional but national. And we have no apologies to o er for that.

Jonathan, others for sea robbery summit in Cameroun

M Bayo Akomolafe

i f f e d by the incessant problems of piracy and armed robbery, President Goodluck Jonathan and other heads of state in West and Central Africa sub-regions will hold a summit in the Gulf of Guinea, precisely in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in April this year. The summit is being organised with the support of Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS), Gulf of Guinea Commission (CGG), African Union (AU), United Nations O ce for West Africa (UNOWA), Regional O ce of the United Nations for Central Africa (UNOCA),

Cross Section of Catholic Bishops, during the opening of 2013 first Plenary of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), yesterday in Abuja. Photo:Wale Adenuga.

Maritime Organisation of the West and Central Africa (MOWCA) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO). According to recent reports of the

International Maritime Bureau, 34 a acks were reported in the Gulf of Guinea between January and September 2012 against the 30 in 2011. The a ected countries

who have su ered from sea robbery and piracy are Nigeria, Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Sao

Tome and Principe. With the exception of Sudan and Chad, all oilproducing countries in sub-Saharan Africa are located in the Gulf of Guinea.

FG committed to repositioning education – Minister


Peter Dada, Akure

inister of Education, P r o f .

Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai, has said that the President Goodluck Jonathan led administration would not relent on e orts to restructure the education sector for be er service delivery. She added that the government believes much in the sector, this, according to her, would

help its transformation agenda, geared towards making Nigeria one of the most viable economies in the world by the year 2020. The Minister, who spoke during the 32nd convocation ceremony of Adeyemi College of Education (ACE), Ondo, Ondo State, at the weekend, noted that teachers’ education remained the bedrock of sustainable human resources, required to a ain meaningful national development goal. Represented by the

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Dr Macjohn Nwaobiala, disclosed that the Ministry had embarked on a four-year strategic development plan to run from 2011 to 2015, to strengthen the sector as part of e orts to addressing some challenges facing the sector. Stressing the importance of teachers’ education in the task of nation building, Rufai said a aining Education For All (EFA), Millennium Development Goal (MDG) objectives and

Vision 20:2020 would be impossible if emphasises is not put on excellent teachers’ education. The Minister commended the management of Adeyemi College of Education (ACE) Ondo, for the developmental projects executed and for the e ective role it has been playing in training qualified teachers required to provide services in primary and post-primary education in the country. Earlier in his address, Provost of ACE, Prof. Adeyemi Idowu,

expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for its commitments to make education be er for the benefit of all. He then appealed for more funds for the institution to enable it run its programmes e ectively. The Provost listed some of the challenges of the bachelor’s degree awarding institution, which include insu cient hostel accommodation, classrooms, lecture theatres, o ce spaces and furniture among others.


Don’t be threatened by APC, Wash Pam tells Jonathan Gyang Bere, Jos


espite the merger of major opposition political parties to ba le the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015 general elections, Deputy Senate President in the Second Republic, John Wash Pam, has said that President Goodluck Jonathan remains the best candidate for the country beyond 2015. Wash Pam, who spoke to Daily Newswatch in Jos, insisted that PDP would wax stronger to win more states in the elections of 2015. He said President Jonathan should not be seen only as the President of Nigeria but has since assumed the status of being the President of the Black Race anywhere in the world. The former Deputy Senate President advised Jonathan not to be distracted by the merger talk but should focus on the delivery of dividends of democracy to Nigerians. “Look, if there is anything like third term, Jonathan would still make good option but in 2015, if Nigerians know what is good, they should support Jonathan.” He said Jonathan is the only minority group to make it to the presidency, and so called on them (minority) to rally round him in the next elections and that he should not be discouraged by plot of some leading opposition parties on merger. Talking on the newly formed political party, All Progressives Congress (APC), a conglomeration of leading opposition political parties, he said the party would be divided even before 2015 elections, blaming such crash on personal interests of some key players involved. Wash Pam, who worked tirelessly for the victory of President Jonathan in 2011, praised the conduct and maturity of the president in stabilising the polity while late President Musa Yar’Adua took ill.




Treat Boko Haram militants like MEND, others – Haruna Akin Orimolade, Abuja


he former Information Minister, Major General I b r a h i m Haruna (rtd), has joined the league of those a ributing the Boko Haram menace and other insurgencies in the country to the failure of the Federal Government to provide essential services and meet with the welfare needs of the citizenry. Haruna urged the Goodluck Jonathan administration to negotiate with the dreaded sect for the purpose of a rehabilitation agenda as enjoyed by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and other militants in the Niger Delta region, on the basis of equality before the law. The former minister

told Daily Newswatch General Haruna, a in an interview that lawyer, observed that all the civil disorder and the sectors in the country insecurity in the country are dead and Nigeria has arose as a result of mass gone backward several illiteracy and poverty, years, not because of Boko which became possible Haram but because of because government patriotism, nationhood o cials were not playing and commitment to the according to the rules national cause, as looters spelt out in Chapter Two part with billions of of the constitution on naira from the national Fundamental Objectives treasury, to the detriment and Derivative Principles of the common people. of State “First Read full interview tomorrow of Policy. all, “These whatever principles, if we have prescription, negotiation, followed them, we building of special wouldn’t have had human structures to take care tra cking, illiteracy in of one manifestation of the scale will have it. We menace in the state is not wouldn’t have had slavery really the comprehensive in terms of Almajiris due solution. We just have to to unregistered schools, learn to play the game by and the rest. So, I think the rules. The rules have until we play the game been clearly set out in the according to the rules, the constitution. If the leaders rules of law founded on have been addressing the the constitution, we will underlining spirit of the have rashes of security constitution, you will not threat here and there. have the circumstances

Daily Newswatch

monday, February 18, 2013

‘NEMA must move beyond early warning to early action’ Taiye Agbaje



that have given rise to MEND, the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Boko Haram or something else. Apart from arguing that a comprehensive rehabilitation programme be organised for Boko Haram militants, Haruna also posited that insurgence would be largely confined to the past if government begins to a end to all welfare needs of the people.

s Nigeria prepares for the anticipated heavy rainfall in some parts of the country this year, the United Nations o ce for the Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to redouble its e orts in moving beyond early warning to early action in disaster management. Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction (SRSG) and UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlström, made the call at the 4th Africa Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction held in Arusha, Tanzania. While acknowledging NEMA e orts on creating public awareness towards Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies, Margareta, also commented on the loss of 363 lives in the massive flood disaster of 2012 in the country. This is contained in a release made available by NEMA Head of Public Relations, Yushau Shuaib, on Sunday. “We are aware of aggressive campaigns by NEMA, Nigeria, on disaster risk reduction. The e orts are encouraging and their proactive measures are commendable, but the country needs to move beyond Early Warning to Early Action this year, to consolidate on the success of the campaigns. “Disaster risk reduction is centre stage for all African countries and is essential to building resilience to disasters. The will to mitigate the impact of disasters is evident across the continent from the ongoing detailed risk profiling of every district in Ethiopia to the successful early warning systems, which Mozambique demonstrated in recent weeks, as flood waters engulfed large parts of the country,” Margareta said. Speaking on Nigeria’s preparation for this year’s rain, Director General of NEMA, Muhammad SaniSidi, said. “In line with the Hyogo Framework for Action and the Africa Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy and Programme of Action, we have initiated more consultations with respective institutions in ensuring that what needs to be done is done to avoid preventive calamities this year.

CJN begins steps to overhaul judiciary •Slashes foreign trips for judges Akin Orimolade

C L-R: Nigerian Idol Judge, Femi Kuti, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Stephen Evans, Yinka Davies and Jeffrey Daniel, during the unveiling of Nigerian Idol Season 3 Top 12 contestants in Lagos at the weekend. Photo: Bankole Damilare

Impending cabinet reshuffle, ministers jittery Akin Orimolade


alpable fear seemed to have taken over the Federal Executive Council (FEC), over an anticipated cabinet reshu e. President Goodluck Jonathan has, however, kept the ministers guessing over his intention to inject new and fresh bloods into the cabinet. The President had early last year made Ministers to fill performance assessment forms for the presidency to monitor their performance. Daily Newswatch gathered that some Ministers performed below average in the assessment conducted in

the fourth quarter of last year. These Ministers, it was gathered, may be dropped in the impending shake- up. In addition, security reports on some of them were said to have discovered act of divided loyalty, as some of them were said to be busy perfecting moves to becoming the next governors of their various states. Former Senator, Joseph Waku, had during an interview with Daily Newswatch recently alleged that most FEC members always travel out of Abuja for personal engagements only to return to Abuja on Tuesday to be part of the weekly FEC meeting on Wednesday. For some of the

Ministers that have problems with their godfathers and powerful opinion leaders from their respective states, Daily Newswatch gathered, such a ected Ministers have been spending much time outside their areas of jurisdiction. “They have been busy begging and lobbying their god-fathers to allow them stay till 2015, a presidency source informed Daily Newswatch in Abuja at the weekend. Some of them, it was gathered, also have some questions to answer over some graft related issues. According to the source, some Ministers were discovered to have turned themselves into financial burden on parastatals under their ministries.

“For example, a Minister was always asking parastatals under him to be sponsoring his frequent foreign trips even after collecting same from his Ministry,” the source said. But they are not leaving things to chances. They have turned themselves to a ack dogs against anybody that criticises President Jonathan. Another source close to the leadership of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) revealed that the party leadership took interest in the recent altercation between the Minister of Works, Elder Godswill Orubebe, and the Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and that this added some points to Orubebe’s ranking as a loyal aide of the president.

onscious of the fact that the Nigerian judicial system in the estimation of some Nigerians worth less than the sheet of paper, court orders are wri en, the eggheads in the nation’s judiciary last week met for three days in what an insider described, as the final stage of internal cleansing in the judiciary. Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Muktar, had on her inauguration and swearing-in as the highest judicial o cer in the country promised to take far-reaching steps to return the Nigerian judiciary to its past glory. She had made good the promise by taking some steps which keen observers of the third arm of government considers unprecedented. Last week, Justice Muktar, for three days, presided over what an insider described as the mother of all meetings. It was a ended by heads of courts, specifically, all state chief judges, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and the acting President, Court of Appeal. In

addition, some Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Comptroller General of Prisons Service were invited for the meeting. Daily Newswatch findings reveal that the IGP and Comptroller General of Prisons Service were invited to the meeting of “men with grey hairs” as part of the CJN’s strategy of finding lasting solution to the delay in the criminal justice administration system in the country. According to sources, the Prisons department complained of gross underfunding. The team explained to the CJN and others in a endance that the whole of FCT has only three small vehicles with which accused persons are taken to all the courts in the territory. Like a starved child, believing that the presence of a visitor could bring succor, the prison team said it would be able to perform e ectively if state governors and philanthropic organisations come to their aid like they are currently assisting the police.

Daily Newswatch

Monday, February18, 2013

South South

Obasanjo commends Oshiomhole on devt



an apostle of genuine private sector-driven market economy. I hope Governor Oshiomhole is learning the lesson I have learnt, so that this state, I can see the signs, which was run down, is now being run up.” In his response, Oshiomhole said he learnt from the style and courage of the former President when it comes to taking major

decisions, which every leader requires to drive change. He told Obasanjo that his administration was re-focusing and re-inventing governance, to give the people confidence, so that democracy can work, adding “and indeed, it is working and we are able to deliver on some critical areas of infrastructure.” He commended the former

President on the launch of the Obasanjo Foundation, saying he has demonstrated that as an elder statesman, “he can continue to contribute to national and international e orts in dealing with the basic needs of the underprivileged and to create a platform for sustaining constructive engagement on development options and strategies to lift the level of development in Africa.”

ormer President Olusegun Obasanjo has commended Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo for the transformation taking place in the state, advising the governor to learn from him and opt for a private-sector driven economy. Obasanjo, who made the commendation at the Edo State Government House, during a courtesy call on his way to deliver the first Dr. Abel Guobadia Memorial Lecture, explained that when God gave him a second chance to become President of the country, he learnt from his past experiences. According to him, “I can see the signs that this state, which was run down is now being run up.” He said he learnt from his experiences as head of state to run a be er economy when he was elected President in 1999, explaining that, “I was Head of State and I see that there was no way to manage Nigeria’s economy, except by indigenisation and we went for L-R:Permanent Secretary, Office of Director, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Femi Odumosu, indigenisation. “But the truth is that Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Reng Ochekpe and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of indigenisation did not succeed Water Resources, Amb. Godknows Igali, at the Pre-Summit Ministerial Media Briefing on the Presidential the way we wanted and I became Summit on Innovative Funding of Water Sector in Nigeria, held in Abuja. Photo:Wale Adenuga.

Maku assesses govt projects in Rivers Amaka Agbu, Port Harcourt

•Commends Amaechi on development

he National Good Governance media tour of Rivers State has come and gone, leaving a number of questions begging for answers. The Minister of Information and Communications, Mr Labaran Maku, had led a team of about 100 journalists both local and international, to inspect projects in the state. The team, which included Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), spent three days, inspecting and assessing projects being undertaken by the three tiers of government.

The assessment tour has taken the team to many states across the country, some analysts are asking whether the journalists in the guided tour would truly be objective in their reports. Again, the issue of whose mirror is throwing back the images for the public comes to question. Perhaps, to address these concerns, the Minister of Information o ered some clarifications. According to him, the Good Governance tour is non-partisan and not political parties and politicking, even as opposition party states in the federation are included in the assessment tour. He said: “As we all agreed, the


National Good Governance tour is non-partisan, is not about political parties, we even monitor states with opposition groups, we went to CPC states, APGA states, and I am sure your colleagues (Governors) may have communicated to you about this team, we are very neutral, and non-partisan in assessing the projects that we see in each state, it is to project what democracy is doing in the country.” While taking stock on some of the Federal government completed and on-going projects, Maku said, reconstruction work is on-going at the Port Harcourt International

Airport, while the cargo terminal is also under construction to increase the industrial and commercial capacity of Port Harcourt. Maku further said that the Federal government is building the Onne port to decongest Lagos port, expressing confidence that the Port Harcourt port when completed would take the lead in terms of sea transportation. “The railway project is coming from Aba. When we visited Abia State, we went there and saw the projects still ongoing, so it has been a lot of work, going round, to look at what the federal, state and local governments are doing for the progress of the people in the di erent state’.

APGA appoints Okwu as caretaker chairman


Onukwube Ofoelue, Benin

ollowing the sack of Sir Victor Umeh as the chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the chairman of Citizens Peoples Party (CPP), Maxi Okwu has dumped his party to become the caretaker commi ee chairman of the crisis-ridden party. The decision to draft Okwu as the caretaker commi ee chairman of APGA was taken at a meeting held with Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State in Abuja on Saturday. Also, former factional

secretary of APGA under the Umeh faction, Sani Shinkafi, has allegedly abandoned Umeh as he has joined the Obi faction as secretary of the Okwu-led caretaker commi ee of the party. Factional chairman of the Obi faction, Sadeeq Masalla, has been forced to accept his former position as the deputy chairman north, or leave the party. It was reliably gathered that Obi has promised to use his presidential connections to get INEC to recognize the Okwuled caretaker commi ee. Meanwhile, some members of the Massala faction, including Ifedi Okwenna, the former

factional secretary has vowed to resist and challenge the illegality of the Okwu-led caretaker commi ee. The Masalla group said that it is illegal and criminal for Maxi Okwu to be chairman of two political parties. The group is protesting being used and dumped by Obi, saying that Obi lacks the power in the constitution of the party to constitute a caretaker commi ee for the party. Okwu is also expected to issue a statement any moment to announce the merging of CPP into APGA, marking the death of CPP which is waiting

for deregistration by INEC. This will also be another illegality, as Okwu and CPP are constitutionally required to take such decision after a convention of CPP. However, Umeh who has e ectively become a political orphan, has threatened to challenge both the constitution of the Maxi Okwu-led illegal caretaker commi ee and the judgment of the Enugu High Court that sacked him as APGA chairman. With this development, APPA has four factions, namely APGAPDP, APGA-APC, APGAUmeh, and APGA-Massalla.



NIREC tasks FG to safeguard lives


igeria InterReligious Council (NIREC) has asked the Federal Government to combat the security challenges facing the nation. The group, made up of Christian and Muslim leaders while making the demand, expressed deep concern over the persistent loss of lives and property due to acts of terrorism, religious intolerance, communal strife and pipeline vandalism. NIREC spoke in a communiqué issued at the end of its 2013 first quarterly meeting held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital. The communiqué was signed by the trio of Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, Sultan of Sokoto and Co-chairman of the Council, Pastor Ayodele Oritsejafor, President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Co-Chair and Prof Is-haq Oloyede, National Coordinator, NIREC. NIREC stated that since no religion teaches violence, the sacredness of human lives must be safeguarded at all times. It noted that the outbreak of political violence was associated with poverty, underdevelopment and misdistribution of resources, thus calling for equity and justice, the basis for peace in any society. While condemning the recent a acks on Alhaji Ado Bayero, Emir of Kano and the killings of ten health workers, the council called on government to detect, expose and prosecute those responsible for the acts. “The Federal Government must exhibit the political will to tackle all forms of security challenges, using its relevant agencies,” it said. “Police Community Relations Commi ees (PCRC) should be established where they do not presently exist and encouraged at the grassroots level to strengthen security and peaceful coexistence,” the communiqué stated. NIREC reiterated its appeals to political, religious and traditional leaders at all levels to desist from making o ensive and divisive comments capable of heating up the polity. The Council equally appealed to the National Assembly to let the will of the people prevail in the ongoing review of the constitution and make laws that would ensure that no Nigerian was made a ‘se ler’ anywhere in the country. On corruption, NIREC condemned its increasing rate and urged government at all levels to put in place strategies that would ensure that corrupt people are punished. The council also called on government and the private sector to create more jobs for the teeming youths to reduce poverty in the land.

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