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Tax revenue peaked at N4.6tr in 2011, says immediate past FIRS boss


Vol. 8 No. 12

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jimadal Ula 18, 1433 AH



40 perish in Kaduna blast From Agaju Madugba, Kaduna


t was a bloody Easter Sunday in Kaduna yesterday as eyewitnesses said more than 40 persons were killed when a bomb-laden Honda Accord car (Academy) with Kaduna plate number, BB111DKA, exploded at Junction Road, in the city centre, at about 9.30 am. Victims of the incident were commercial motorcycle operators, food vendors, fuel hawkers and commuters who all happened to be at different points at the Sarduana Crescent bus stop, opposite Fina White House Hotel extension. Passers-by and motorists on the road were also not spared as the explosion ripped through a number of vehicles, according to eyewitness accounts, with human parts littering the road and damaging well over 50 buildings, including offices and shops, along both sides of the dual carriage road. The Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) gave a casualty figure of 36 with scores of others injured and currently receiving treatment at various hospitals in the city, while more critical cases were referred to the Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital, Shika, Zaria. According to SEMA Public Contd on Page 2

 23 killed in Benue church building collapse — PAGE 5  8 died at Ilorin church retreat — PAGE 7

Charred remains of motorcycles destroyed by the impact of the explosive that rocked Sarduana Crescent bus stop, opposite Fina White House Hotel extension, yesterday in Kaduna. Photo: Agaju Madugba


Lady injured, cars Katsina, Bauchi damaged in Jos win Qur’anic motor park bomb competition >>PAGE 2

‘Police pension fraud: Test for anti-corruption’

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SSS kills 2 motorcycle Victim recounts thieves in Bauchi narrow escape training school from ritual killers

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David Mark: Still making his marks @ 64, Page 37

International 31-34 Strange World 35 Digest








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Benue police arrest 46 cultists From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi


he Benue State Police Command has arrested over 46 persons suspected to be members of cult groups in Makurdi. Spokesman of the command ASP Ejike Alaribe, who disclosed

this in a telephone interview with journalists yesterday, said police officers raided several areas particularly Wadata that is a den of cultists and apprehended the cultists, adding that guns and substance suspected to be Indian hemp were recovered from them.

He said the suspects have since been remanded at the Criminal Investigation Department, CID of the command, maintaining that as soon as investigations are concluded, they would be arraigned in court. ASP Alaribe advised parents to restrain their children and

wards from indulging in cult and other criminal activities, warning that anyone caught no matter how highly placed will face the full wrath of the law. It is alleged that a police officer was recently murdered by a cult group in Makurdi.

Lady injured, cars damaged Ekweremadu, Muslim group as motorcycle bomb rips condemn Kaduna bomb attack through motor park in Jos From Nankpah Bwakan, Jos


motorcyclist suspected to be a suicide bomber successfully beat security checks and made his way to Tudun Wada Motor Park and abandoned his machine, which was attached with an explosive device that soon detonated and injured a lady. The lady, who had been an innocent passenger of the would be bomber, was injured just as several commercial and private cars around the park were badly damaged. It would be recalled that as a measure to curtail the activities of the suicide bombers, the use of motorcycles has been banned in many areas of the metropolis. One of the residents of the area told our correspondent that he heard the sound but could not go out to see the level of damage

due to fear of the unknown. Confirming the incident, Media and Information Officer of the Special Task Force (STF) Captain Markus Mdahyelya, said the explosive device detonated at 8:25pm Also confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer in Jos, Mr. Samuel Dabai, said the explosion happened in Mado Village near Tudun Wada park and that the injured casualty had been taken to an undisclosed hospital for treatment. He however, added that police have begun investigation on the incident. Meanwhile, a statement from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA’s) spokesperson, Yushau Shuaibu said security operatives and rescue workers were immediately mobilised to the scene of the incident for rescue operations.


he Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, yesterday in Abuja, condemned Sunday’s bomb explosion which led to the death and injury of many people in Kaduna state. In a statement issued in by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, Ekweremadu said the act of terrorism was mean, distasteful and out of style with the nation’s cultural and religious values. “Nigerians must unite to fight those behind these incessant bomb attacks because it is not in our character, cultural or religious values to waste lives,” he said He urged the religious, traditional and political leaders to prevail on their subjects to embrace peace, reconciliation and unity for the sake of the country. Ekweremadu further called on Nigerians to be vigilant and expose all suspicious activities of anybody whether highly or lowly

placed. He expressed optimism that the nation would overcome its present challenges in no distant future. “It is also my earnest prayer that the power of the resurrection of this Easter washes away the sorrows of all those who have lost their beloved ones,” he said Meanwhile, an Abuja-based Muslim Rights Concern group, yesterday decried the act, especially on a day the Christians were marking the Easter Sunday. The group in a statement issued by its Director, Prof. Is-haq Akintola, stated: “we are alarmed that criminal elements are targeting worshippers during festivities. “This is an ugly and unacceptable practice which should stop forthwith. “We, therefore, call on those behind the bombings to cease fire for a peaceful co-existence of the people of Nigerians”, he said. (NAN)

40 perish in Kaduna blast Contd from Page 1 Relations Officer, Abubakar Zakari Adamu, “we took seven persons to Rakiya Memorial Hospital, out of which five died while the remaining two were transferred to 44 Army Reference Hospital. “At the Army Reference Hospital, 20 people were seriously injured and at the St. Gerald Hospital, 10 people were taken there, five have died while the remaining five were seriously injured. “At the Barau Dikko Hospital, we have six dead, six injured while 20 people died on the spot of the incident.” Kaduna state Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Mohammed Jingiri, who described the blast as “massive” also noted that intelligence report indicated that the bomber was heading to Kakuri and Sabon-Tasha areas, all in the southern part of the city when the bomb went off at Junction Road/ Sardauna Crescent. But eyewitness accounts said security men had earlier prevented the lone suicide bomber from gaining access to Gwari road, location of two churches, the First ECWA Goodnews Church and the All Nations Christian Assembly. According to Francis Maku of

the First ECWA Goodnews Church, “the man who came to the street here said he wanted to pass and I told him that he cannot pass because it was during church service and we do not allow people to gain entrance here because of the security problem we have. “Then he said he was going to his house and I asked him which of the houses he was talking about. He pointed to this upstairs, where I know so many people living in the house and I did not recognise him as any of those I know there. “He was in the car, a Honda Academy, ash colour. I told him to stay at the entrance to the street here and he told me that I was violating his rights for not allowing him to go to his house. “He then insisted that he must pass through and go to his house, then started his car and reversed, the next thing he drove towards me, yet I stood my ground and held the iron very well. “He hit the iron against me and one of the church members came around. When I was trying to explain the incident to him, I noticed an army uniform at the back of the seat and the cap behind the screen. “As we were dragging, armed police men who were posted to the

church came to the spot and they said he must stay back until the church service was over. “Then he decided to drive back to the main road. Just about three minutes later we heard a big blast behind. He is a young man. He was wearing a vest and combat knickers.” Other eyewitnesses said that, on leaving Gwari road, through Arochukwu road, the bomber drove into Junction Road where he attempted to climb the pavement in the process of which the explosion occurred and the car was shattered with front part of the car flying as far as the Stadium Roundabout, some 500 metres away. The blast was devastating as it equally blew up both moving and stationary vehicles and persons within the vicinity, shattering parts of Fina White House Hotel, First Bank, Fadecco Hotel, Mussafir Hotel, All Nations Christian Assembly Church as well as offices and shops, among others. One of the survivors of the incident who pleaded anonymity said he was inside his car with his mechanic when they heard a deafening sound. As he put it, “we were three inside the car when we heard a

loud explosion in our front and billows of smoke and fire under my vehicle. “I opened my door and when I look I did not see my mechanic again. I am still shocked how I survived.” Two other survivors, Augustine Vincent and his cousin, Aaron Idiawaje, who said they were on the motorcycle directly behind the bomber said that they were saved by the blood of Jesus. “We were on our way to Church, Christ Embassy, by Station on Kachia road and God saw our heart and saved us.” Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Sani Sidi, who visited the injured at the various hospitals told reporters that government would assist in settling bills of those receiving treatment. A member of the House of Representatives from Kaduna North, Alhaji Shehu Usman (ABG), urged the Federal Government to order the disbandment of road blocks in the country. According to him, “if this had happened at a check point where you have thousands of people and petrol tankers, you can imagine what would have happened.”



Mark reassures on service to humanity From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi


L-R: Edo state Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, with former President Olusegun Olusegun, during the latter’s visit to the governor at Government House, yesterday in Benin

enate President David Mark has advised politicians not to drag the church into politics. Senator Mark, who gave this advice at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, Otukpo, Benue state during a service to mark his 64th birthday yesterday, posited that religion and politics were entirely different and as such put apart to avoid any conflict of interest. He maintained that service to humanity should be without political undertone, reassuring that he would remain faithful to the service of God and humanity. While taking a brief stock of his life journey, the Senate President promised to continue to work for the political stability and economic prosperity of Nigeria. He frowned at utterances made by some politicians in recent times, warning that they were capable of heightening the already tensed political atmosphere of the nation. In his sermon, the Parish Priest of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, Rev. Fr. (Capt.) Kenneth Odeh

urged the congregation to remain steadfast in truth and service to God noting that good will always triumph over evil. Rev. Fr. Odeh also prayed for political stability and economic prosperity of Nigeria. Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue state, who was represented by his Deputy, Steven Lawani said the synergy between the state government and the Senate President had facilitated the modest achievements the state has recorded so far. Suswam also lauded Mark for the deft manner he has handled affairs of the National Assembly and expressed confidence that the successive review of the Constitution will lead to the creation of Apa state.

Arik Air debunks take over by AMCON, says story malicious

JTF kills 3 Boko Haram members, A arrests 2 in Maiduguri

From Suleiman Idris, Lagos

From Mustapha Isah Kwaru, Maiduguri


he Joint Military Task Force, (JTF) in Borno state yesterday afternoon killed three gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect, while two others were arrested during a gun duel. Spokesman of the JTF, Lt-Col. Sagir Musa told newsmen in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, that the incident occurred when a team of soldiers

stormed Bulabullin ward and burst into a house believed to be the hideout of Boko Haram members. According to Lt-Col. Musa, JTF had received an intelligence report that some men suspected to be members of the sect were seen at a compound holding a meeting in preparation of a plan to cause mayhem. He explained that members of the task force, acting on a tip-off, stormed the residence and engaged the gunmen in a shoot-

out, which left three persons dead while two others were apprehended. “Following a tip-off, the JTF operatives raided the terrorists’ meeting point at the Bulabulin area, in Maiduguri metropolis where they were said to be gathering with a view to cause mayhem in the city. On sighting JTF troops, they attempted to escape after firing sporadically at the direction of our troops”, the spokesman claimed. He further added

“information received from some Good Samaritans revealed that the same group of Boko Haram members were responsible for last Wednesday’s attack at the Maiduguri Monday Market, which killed eleven civilians”. He disclosed that during the raid, an FN rifle, two locally made pistols and 185 rounds of assorted ammunition were recovered from the suspects. Meanwhile, the JTF imagemaker also said security operatives, yesterday afternoon, discovered and later detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) at Kwanar Yobe area.

Leather manufacturers petition NASS over grant From Edwin Olofu, Kano


group, under the auspices of Leather and Allied Product Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (LAPAN), has petitioned the National Assembly to appeal to the Federal Government to stop granting the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) to save the leather sector from imminent collapse. In a petition addressed to the House Committee on Commerce, a copy of which was made

available to newsmen at the weekend, the association noted that the policy originally designed to assist the sector had been hijacked by few powerful group to the detriment of the sector. The petition, signed by the Chairman Board of Trustees of the association, Bashir Ibrahim Danyaro, stated that the EEG policy had led to job losses in local leather industries, pointing out that promotion of local content has been relegated. The group alleged that 90

percent of all raw skins was purchased by Mahaza and Mario Joe, Fata, Unique, Multi Tan, and Kano Tan who are the beneficiaries of the Export Expansion Grant. “These beneficiaries of EEG in the leather sector have driven the price to an all-time high, making it impossible for any local user of leather to remain profitable in the business. For them, head or tail, they are winners; because after all the incurable cost, they collect a gift of 30 percent EEG courtesy of the Federal Government.”

They further lamented that the abuse of the policy had led to the closure of several shoe companies that were once a household name in Nigeria, stressing that lack of transparency in the administration of the EEG is wholly responsible. It therefore called for urgent scrutiny of the grant to ascertain the level of abuse by the operators, adding that figures from International Trade Commission put the value of leather exported from the country in 2008 at $500m jumped to N43 billion in 2010.

rik Air, Nigeria’s flagship airline, yesterday described as malicious a publication in a national newspaper that the airline has been taken over by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). According to the airline’s spokesperson, Ola Olabanji, “There is no iota of truth in this story and it was just another malicious publication against Arik by the (undisclosed) newspaper. The story is at best the figment of the writers’ imagination and a show of irresponsible journalism by the newspaper.” Olabanji said the Managing Director of AMCON, Mr. Mustafa Chike Obi, who was allegedly quoted by the publication has also strongly condemned the said story and quoted Mr. Obi as saying the piece is “completely false and baseless story about Arik and AMCON.” In a statement made available to reporters in Lagos, Olabanji said a text by the AMCON MD purportedly sent to the writers read: “You sent a text to me late last night for a confirmation which you did not receive as I was already asleep and yet you went ahead with this ridiculous story on your front page.” The airline’s spokesperson said the Arik Air would therefore like to assure its esteemed guests that its daily flight operations are going on without any hindrance.

NSCDC arrests 48 oil vandals, impounds 17 trucks in Abia


he Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, (NSCDC) in Abia says it arrested 48 persons over alleged bunkering and vandalising of oil facilities between January 2010 to March 2012. Abia Commandant NSCDC Nathaniel Ubong disclosed this in an interview with the News

Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Umuahia. Ubong said that the command also impounded 17 trucks and other equipment from the suspects during the same period. The commandant, who was reviewing the activities of his command within the last two years, described the rate at which

criminals vandalise oil facilities in Abia as disturbing. He said the suspects were arrested in Abia-South zone, especially in Ukwa-East, UkwaWest and part of Aba North local government areas. “From all indications, youths of the affected areas have vowed not to down tools in these acts of

bunkering and vandalism. “Recently, we arraigned eight suspects on alleged involvement in the construction of illegal refineries, and they were all remanded in prison custody”, he said. Ubong gave the assurance that the command would stop at nothing to flush-out criminals in the state. He called for closer

collaboration with other security agencies in the task of stamping out vandals in the area. He also appealed to Abia government to ensure that only credible contractors were given contracts near oil locations, noting that some of the vandals had perpetrated the act under the guise of contractors. (NAN)



Live in harmony with Muslims, Kwankwaso urges Christians From Edwin Olofu, Kano


ano state governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has enjoined the Christian faithful in the state to use the Easter period to renew and strengthen their relationship with Muslims. “We must not forget the essence of Easter, which connotes sacrifice, love for mankind and submission to the will of Almighty God,” he said. He urged them to live in

harmony with their Muslim brothers in the interest of sustainable peace and prosperity in Kano state and Nigeria as a whole. “The unfortunate security challenges confronting our country require collective effort to overcome them. We must therefore, irrespective of faith, political or social affiliation, work together to make our country the hallmark of a refined social order,” Governor Kwankwaso implored.

Ajimobi restates commitment to traditional rulers’ welfare From Inumidun Ojelade, Ibadan


overnor Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo state at the weekend, presented the instrument of office to the Okere of Saki, Oba Olatoyese Kelani Olarinre II, with a promise that his administration would continue to accord priority to the welfare of traditional rulers in the state. The governor, who performed the ceremony at the capacity-filled OYSADEP Sports Complex in Saki township, noted that since the inception of his administration, provision of social welfare and prompt payment of salaries to traditional rulers had been of utmost concern. He however charged royal

fathers to reciprocate the good gesture of his administration by ensuring a conducive atmosphere in their respective domains. The governor expressed his administration’s sincerity towards improving the welfare of the citizenry of the state, citing the employment of 20,000 youths under the Youth Empowerment Scheme of Oyo State (YES-O) as a further confirmation of the sincerity. “I promise our good people of Oyo state that all the cardinal programmes of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), as reflected in our manifesto, will be fully implemented to revamp the downward socioeconomic situation of the state,” he stated.

World Bank: OkonjoIweala to feature at CGD/ Washington Post debate


inance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will feature in a series of sessions for World Bank presidential candidates in Washington tomorrow. The organiser of the sessions, CGD, a Washington DC-based think-tank, said the three candidates - Ngozi OkonjoIweala, José Antonio Ocampo and Jim Yong Kim have all been invited. However only Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo have so far accepted to attend, the group said.

The organisers, CGD, in collaboration with the Washington Post, said that at each sessions, candidates were expected to deliver opening remarks, followed by a discussion and questions from an audience, including members of the media. “The events will be streamed globally on the Internet via the CGD Website and Washington Post Live and will include questions for the candidates from around the world sent via email and Twitter”, the CGD said. Interviews to select a new

president of the World Bank are scheduled to hold from April 9 to April 11 in Washington D.C. Global civil groups have called on the bank’s Executive Directors to ensure that the three candidates debate publicly with each other as part of the selection process. Meanwhile, some observers expressed concern that so far, there had not been any public forum where the candidates could explain their vision for the bank’s future and be questioned by the media. (NAN)

Media critical to flood disaster management - NEMA From Suleiman Idris, Lagos


he National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and experts in flood disaster management have described the media as critical to reducing the impact and vulnerability of flood disaster especially in the area of risk reduction, mitigation and preparedness in the society. Speaking at a one day National Conference on “Tackling Flood Disaster in Nigeria,” the speakers noted that a well-coordinated effort among the various agencies responsible for disaster management has become imperative in order to effectively mitigate the effect of flood disaster in Nigeria. The Director-General of NEMA, Alhaji Muhammed Sani-Sidi, said the “the press, both print and electronic are important in the sensitisation, enlightenment and advocacy. So important is the press in disaster management that modern day disaster management literature refers to the media, humanitarian organisations, and government (policy makers) as the crisis triangle.” The conference, organised by Tell Communication Limited, in conjunction with the NEMA and

the Lagos state Ministry of the Environment, focused on averting killer floods in Nigeria and the challenges of coastal disasters. Giving a recent statistics of flood disaster in the country, he said: “In 2010, at least 30,000 people were displaced by flood in the country. That is why we are stressing the importance of coordination in the management of flood in the country.” “The leading cause of death in Nigeria after epidemics is flood, while the leading cause of displacement and economic damage is flood. He disclosed that every local government in the country has been mandated to train 200 volunteers in environmental emergency management. He said: “Nigeria had yet to arrive at a stage where help would get to a disaster zone minutes after its occurrence.” “Ideally, the medics, fire service and police should be on site minutes after a disaster. The solution is to have an efficient ambulance service in the country, which Nigeria still does not have”, Sidi said. Also speaking Lagos state Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, described urbanisation as a major cause of flooding in the country.

L-R: Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Prime Minister of Niger Republic, Brigi Raffini, and Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, during a function, at the weekend in Niamey.

Lagos residents rush to Hospitals as doctors threaten strike From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos


agos state government owned hospitals have witnessed large turnout of patients who queue for medical attention following the announcement by doctors that they will embark on a 3-day warning strike. At a media briefing, the chairman of the medical guild, Dr. Olumuyiwa Odusote said the strike was to press home the doctors’ demand for the implementation of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) reached with the government, months ago. Dr. Odusote told journalists that the association decided to adopt the strike option during its ordinary general congress on April 3. The warning strike according to the chairman would be a prelude to an indefinite strike which would

begin on April 30. “If by April ending, government did not implement CONMESS and other agreements reached during our meeting in March 2011, then we will start an indefinite strike”, he said. Dr. Odusote explained that the government provoked the doctors into its present action due to its refusal to implement all the agreement reached over one year ago. “In March 2011, what it would cost the Lagos state government to pay CONMESS was calculated and the governor, Mr. Raji Fashola approved it. Thirteen months after, it is yet to be implemented after several appeals, meeting with government and some agencies”. During the warning strike, Dr. Odusote said all services by members of the guild would be withdrawn. The doctors also raised alarm over the excessive

tax being deducted from their salaries insisting that it must be reviewed downwards. Dr. Odusote said the guild refused to go on strike to press home their demands in the past because of the people. “We have always considered the people, otherwise we should have gone on strike before now”, he said. Secretary of the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, Dr. Oluwajimi Shodipo appealed to residents in the state to prevail on the state government to implement CONMESS to avert the strike which would cripple the health sector. It would be recalled that in August and September of 2010 and February 2011, the doctors had withdrawn their services over the non-implementation of the CONMESS agreement and what the association described as excessive taxation by the state government.


Senator calls for speedy completion of Abuja-LokojaOkene road From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos


enator Nurudeen AbatemiUsman, representing Kogi Central Senatorial District has called for quick completion of the dualisation of Abuja/Lokoja/ Okene road to ease vehicular movement during festive periods and prevention of accidents. He lamented the pains Nigerians are made to go through on the road, saying that the Federal Government should ensure that the contractors handling the project are adequately mobilised to complete the dualisation of the road. He however, cautioned motorists to always exercise patience, pointing out that impatience on the part of drivers equally contributed to the holdup situation.


pension Katsina, Bauchi win Police probe: A test antiQur’anic competition for corruption From Lawal Sa’idu Funtua, Katsina


atsina and Bauchi states emerged the big winners of the 26th National Qur’anic Recitation Competition, where they carted away the first prizes in both the male and female categories of the competition respectively. In the male category, which involves the memorisation of the whole Qur’an, Malam Mujitapha Ibrahim Mahmud from Katsina state emerged as the winner, while in the same category female, Malama Badi’atu Abubakar from Bauchi state emerged the winner. According to the records of the 26-year-old competition, this was the first time Katsina state won the biggest prize of the competition even as this was the second time it hosted the event, while in the case of

Bauchi state, it was the fifth time it won the biggest prize in female category. The winner of the first category male, Malam Mujitapha Ibrahim Mahmud was turbaned as the Gwarzon Shekara by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar while the wife of Katsina state governor, Hajiya Fatima Shema turbaned the Gwarzuwar Shekara, Malama Badi’atu Abubakar. Speaking after the turbanning of the Gwarzon Shekara, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar tasked Muslim parents to always encourage the reading, learning and teaching of the Holy Qur’an among Muslim youths. The sultan however assured that traditional rulers in the

country would continue to support government policies and programmes aimed at improving the lives of the citizenry, calling on people to embrace the path of dialogue and peaceful co-existence. In their separate remarks at the ceremony, former Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Sule and a university don from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Dr. Muhammad Arsalan Muhammad, observed that the major obstacles to peace and progress was injustice. They similarly tasked Muslim Ummah to reflect back and embrace the true teaching of Islam. According to them, the deviation from such true teachings has pushed Muslim society into the abyss of moral decadence and insecurity.

SSS kills 2 motorcycle thieves in Bauchi From Ahmed Kaigama, Bauchi


he State Security Services (SSS) shot dead two motorcycle thieves at the premises of the SSS training school in Bauchi yesterday. The Bauchi State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Ladan, who confirmed the incident on a telephone interview to newsmen in Bauchi, said “initially we suspected that the hoodlums were members of the Boko Haram but one of the suspects was captured alive and he said that they went into the training school to steal motorcycle, and after preliminary investigation we identified the two suspects shot were popular motorcycle thieves and later they died in the hospital.” A source from SSS office said that “the suspects were five in number, they came to the school early this morning (Sunday), they were not armed because after we shot two and captured one they were not armed, they entered into the school premises through the backyard, they used iron cutter and cut the burglary proofs and iron rods, when they entered they saw our men on patrol, they called them but they refused to come and run away, our men pursued them and shot two, they left them in critical condition and one was captured, the remaining two are at large.” According to him, the two injured people were taken to the Accident and emergency section of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi Teaching (ATBUTH) and the later died.

Winner of the first female category of the 26th National Qur'anic Recitation Competition, Malama Badi'atu Abubakar Usman from Bauchi state (middle), after she was adjudged the Gwarzuwar Shekara of the competition, at the weekend in Katsina. Photo: Lawal Sa'idu Funtua

Church collapse: 22 parishoners die in Easter vigil mass From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi


total of 22 worshippers died on Saturday during an Easter vigil mass when their Church collapsed on them. Reacting to the incident, Bishop of Makurdi diocese, Rt. Rev Athansius Usuh, said yesterday that the 23 parishioners of St. Robert's Catholic Church, Adamgbe in Vandeikya local government area who perished during an Easter vigil service were destined to die during Easter

period. He condoled with families of the deceased and Catholic faithful, maintaining that the incident calls on them to reflect on their spiritual life and be prepared at all times to answer the Creator's call. An eye witness told our correspondent that the magnificent building collapsed as result of heavy rainstorm that was accompanied by strong winds. "The church had prepared to

commence the Easter vigil mass when a heavy sound was heard. Most persons thought it was a bomb explosion only to discover that the church foundation had collapsed killing over 20 persons leaving several others seriously injured. Two died but the number may increase as result of the magnitude of injuries sustained by some persons", he said. Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ejike Alaribe also confirmed the incident.

war, says House Leader

From Inumidun Ojelade, Ibadan


he Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Hon. Mulikat AkandeAdeola, has described the ongoing prosecution of the N3.4billion Police Pension Fund at an Abuja High Court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as a test case on the seriousness of Nigerians to fight the anticorruption war in the country. Hon. Akande-Adeola, representing Ogbomoso North, South and Oriire Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, stated this in Ibadan over the weekend, when she was featured in the ‘Hot seat’ personality interview programme of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo state council. She maintained that the fight against corruption in the country was a task that all Nigerians must jointly execute, irrespective of political leanings. On the outcome of the probe by the lower house, AkandeAdeola posited that “the House can only make investigations and write its report”, calling on the media to insist that justice is done always in matters of public interest. She however objected the call for death sentence on corrupt public officers saying “I will not support death penalty for corrupt convicts. Death will not add any value. She rather advised that the stolen property accumulated by the convicts from proceeds of the acts of corruption should be confiscated by government. Speaking further, she condemned the calls for a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) saying “it is not what we need in the country at this time. Ours is a developing democracy. We all need to work together, including the opposition, for the advancement of the country. The opposition could bring in constructive suggestions where necessary.” Akande-Adeola assured Nigerians that the Legislature and the Executive would continue to work in harmony to make life better for the citizenry by ensuring that the 2012 budget, which has since been passed by the National Assembly, is optimally implemented to 90 per cent level. She assured that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan would sign the budget into law in the next two weeks, stressing that the House would step up its oversight functions in terms of project supervision in the overall interest of Nigerians.



Daily We’ll overcome present Peoples Bauchi correspondent challenges, says Jonathan weds in Yola By Abdulrahman Abdulraheem


resident Goodluck Jonathan has reiterated the determination of his administration to transform the country in all ramifications and ensure that she takes her rightful place in the comity of developed nations. The President in an Easter message to Nigerians expressed deep conviction that the country was on the way to greatness, adding that present challenges would become a thing of the past if

Nigerians continue to keep the faith and join hands with the government. “My message to the nation therefore, as we celebrate one of Christianity’s most holy days, is that we should continue to have faith in our collective ability to overcome all present challenges and take our rightful place in the comity of nations as a strong, united and prosperous country. “As people of faith, we must never succumb to haopelessness and despair,” President Jonathan said He continued: "We must rekindle

and retain deep faith in our shared vision of greatness, and continuously renew our determination to achieve our immense potentials through total commitment and dedication to the fulfillment of our national aspirations. “I fervently believe that as the resurrection of Jesus Christ signifies the triumph of light over darkness, Nigeria will overcome its developmental challenges in the shortest possible time if we all resolve to set aside our differences, work together as one people, and foster peace, harmony and security in our

country as requisite conditions for steady socio-economic growth and development.” The President also pledged that: “My administration will continue to give dynamic, purposeful and effective leadership towards the attainment of our goal of faster national progress and development. We shall continue to put the greatest effort into achieving a positive transformation in the lives of our people with the effective implementation of our agenda for national transformation.”

From Blessing Tunoh, Yola


eoples Daily correspondent in Bauchi state, Mr. Ahmed Kaigama Mijinyawa over the weekend bid farewell to bachelorhood when he married former Miss Zulayyat Jibrin Usman in Yola, the Adamawa state capital. The sum of N20,000 was paid as bride price before the marriage rites were performed at residence of the bride in Jambutu area in the state capital before hundreds of well wishers. Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Ahmad Umaru Fintri, and other members of the House were some of the dignitaries that attended the ceremony in solidarity with father of the bride, Hon. Jibrin Usman who currently represents Ganye constituency in the state House of Assembly.

Gov. Suntai harps on religious harmony From Yusha'u Alhassan, Jalingo

G L-R: High Chief of Upenekang village in Akwa Ibom state, Chief Williams Mkpas, Paramount Ruler, Ibeno Local Government Area, Effiong Archianga, and Village Head, Iwuo-Achang Ibeno local government area, Obong Udomfuk, during an oil spill case between Ibeno community and NNPC/Mobil Producing Nigeria Limited, at the Federal High Court, recently in Abuja. Photo: Mahmud Isa

Katsina NULGE frowns at non-implementation of minimum wage From Lawal Sa’idu Funtua, Katsina


he Katsina state Chapter of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), has expressed dismay over the failure of the state government to pay the N18,000

minimum wage to local government workers in the state. This was contained in a statement signed by the president of the union, Comrade Aliyu Haruna. The president therefore appealed to the state government to expedite action on the issues

related to the implementation of minimum wage to local government workers in the state, stressing that the payment should commence by the end of April. He similarly urged local government workers in the state to be steadfast, exercise patience

and remain calm. On the list of redundant workers compiled by the state local government service commission, Haruna noted that there was no need for panic by the workers since he said the commission had given them assurance that no worker would be victimised.

overnor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba state has spoken of the need for both Christians and Muslims in Nigeria to co-exist peacefully for the greatness of the country. The governor, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the seventeenth annual convention of the National Islamic Centre which opened in Jalingo yesterday, thanked the organisers for their wisdom and vision in initiating the programme. In his speech, the chairman of the centre, Ahmad Bello, said the convention would afford the adherents the opportunity to share thoughts as well as brainstorm on the way forward for Islam. He emphasised that Islam preaches peace and abhors all forms of violence and encouraged adherents to strive at maintaining the peace and devote more time t0 the service of Allah (SWT).

PENGASSAN suggests NLNG model for refineries From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos


gainst the backdrop of calls for the outright sale of the country's four refineries as a way of increasing local refining in Nigeria, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has called on the Federal Government to adopt the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) model in managing the refineries. PENGASSAN said that it is only the NLNG model that can protect the national interest and make the refineries operate at full

capacity. In the NLNG model, the Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), owns 49 percent of the equity share, while the remaining 51 percent is owned by Shell Gas BV, Total LNG Limited and Eni International in different proportions thus freeing the company from the overbearing control of government. According to the oil workers’ union, the model will free the operations of the refineries from all encumbrances caused by bureaucracy and official bottlenecks that hinder them from

performing at their optimal capacities. Speaking on the proposed privatisation of the refineries, PENGASSAN President, Comrade Babatunde Ogun, explained that the major problem bedeviling the four refineries is lack of adequate autonomy for their boards. He described the present situation where the Managing Director/Chief Executive of the refineries have an approval limit that cannot even replace a nut in the plant let alone carry out a Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) as detrimental to the efficient operations of the refineries.

Comrade Ogun stated that the NLNG model allows for autonomy and gives the management the latitude to decide on the day-to-day running operations of the refineries, adding that this will allow the refineries to produce at optimal capacity and compete with their peers all over the world. “There are many limiting factors that cannot allow our refineries to function at optimal capacities and as a major stakeholder we are also worried about this. We canvass that for the downstream sector to be active and for the anomalies in the functioning of the refineries to be

corrected, what we need is liberalisation but not privatization. This is what the government did with the telecommunications sector. If the market is liberalised, private investors will be able to come in with their investments and establish their refineries, while the existing refineries can operate side by side. In Nigeria, we are all living witnesses to the fate that befell companies that have been privatized. Where are they today? Where is NITEL, Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, Nigeria Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) and a host of others?”


Easter: Oshiomhole flags off maiden motor bike racing From Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin


do state governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole yesterday flagged-off the first edition of motor bike racing sport at Evbuobanosa Community in Orhiomwon local government area of the state as part of activities to mark the Easter holiday. The president of Motocross Naija, organisers of the event, Mr. Oduagbon Okao in a chat with journalists at the weekend, said 18 motor-bike riders from all walks of life jostled for a cash prize of N450, 000.00. Okao said 18 riders competed in the 10 'lap race'. A breakdown of the prize money showed that the champion took home a N200, 000.00 cash prize; the second position N150, 000.00; and N100, 000.00 for the third position respectively. To get to the final according to Okao, various riders attended a twoweek qualifier race which ended on Thursday April 5, producing 18 finalists at the circuit in Evbuobanosa, adding that to ensure good performance for the grand prize, the finalists were giving up till Saturday to end their practice on the circuit. No update on the conduct of the race was available as at the time of filing this report.

Bauchi CAN chairman bemoans failure of leadership


hairman of the Bauchi State wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Lawi Pokti, said yesterday that those who could not make sacrifices for their people were not fit for leadership. He made the declaration in Bauchi when he spoke with the newsmen in commemoration of Easter celebrations. Pokti who is also the chairman, Regional Church Council, Bauchi state, listed the qualities of leadership as exemplified by Jesus Christ. "If our leaders cannot die for their own people, they are not fit to be leaders because Jesus teaches that he that wants to be a leader must be the smallest among them. "He denied himself his own home; beautiful home; joyful home, and he became a slave. He died for our sins. "But very unfortunately, our politicians have not denied themselves anything for the sake of the masses; what they are doing today is to accumulate wealth for themselves. Look at the masses that are suffering today. "Until you have a brother who is in the National Assembly before they will give you simple employment. Look at today, we have many people that hardly get one-square meal per day. "Jesus was not biased, God was not biased; so if politicians can follow the footsteps of Jesus, they should not be biased; they should not accumulate wealth for themselves.''


Jonathan mourns late Malawian President By Abdulrahman Abdulraheem


resident Goodluck Jonathan has expressed sadness over the death of President Bingu Wa Mutharika of Malawi. "On behalf of himself, the government and people of Nigeria, President Jonathan extends sincere condolences to late President Bingu Wa

Mutharika's family as well as the government and people of Malawi. "The President assures the people of Malawi of the sympathy and solidarity of the people of Nigeria and Africa as they mourn late President Bingu Wa Mutharika who was also chairperson of the African Union from January, 2010 to January, 2011," a statement

signed Presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, said. Jonathan urged the political leadership of Malawi and its security agencies to ensure an orderly transfer of presidential powers in keeping with Malawi's existing constitutional order ahead of the country's next presidential elections scheduled to hold in 2014.

L-R: Director of Women Affairs, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Esther Adeyemi, Senior Special Adviser to the President on Ethics and Values, Mrs. Sarah Jibril, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina, and wife of the Vice-President, Hajiya Amina Namadi Sambo, during the 2012 International Women's Day celebration, recently in Abuja. Photo: Mahmud Isa

Tragedy as 2 children, six others die at Deeper Life retreat From Olanrewaju Lawal, Ilorin


bout eight persons among them two children were feared killed during an Easter Retreat organised by the Deeper Life Bible Church Ilorin, Kwara state as a result of the rainstorm which pulled down one of the high tension electricity posts at the camp grounds. Our correspondent gathered that the incident occurred at the church's camp site located at Eyenkorin, Ilorin-Lagos road, outskirts of

the state capital in the early hours of Friday when the worshipers were praying before the post crashed on them. Our correspondent learnt that one of the victims was a pastor of the church who had gone to donate blood at the hospital in the wake of the tragedy which also left several worshipers injured. The pastor, who was riding on a motorcycle was said to have run into an oncoming vehicle. He died on the way to the hospital.

The storm, which accompanied the first rain in Ilorin, lasted for about two hours and began at about 12.30 am. A source at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital confirmed that three of the victims were brought in dead along with one woman and two children. Efforts to get reaction from other pastors of the church proved abortive as they were not available to make any comment as at the time of filing this report.

Adamawa CAN wants killers of members prosecuted From Blessing Tunoh, Yola


damawa state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has called for the immediate prosecution of those arrested in connection with the killing of about 27 of its members in two separate attacks in the state. CAN's call is against the background of 12 Igbo traders who were killed earlier in the year just before the gubernatorial election in Mubi council area of the state and another 15 worshippers shot at the Christ Apostolic Church (C.A.C) in the state capital all on the same day. State chairman of the association, Rev. Fr. Moses Taparki who spoke to journalists in Yola at the weekend, said CAN's call has become necessary as "conflicting information from some quarters and even the state government are ascribing the unfortunate killings in Mubi and those in the C.A.C church Jimeta to Christians themselves." Taparki expressed displeasure with what he described as the image denting publications connecting Christians with criminality and purporting that arms were seized from them adding that there is no information of any arrest of Christians in connection with the said seizure. "There has never been any internal disagreements of whatever magnitude among members of Christian churches in Adamawa that has led to the loss of lives, not even those that led to the breakup of churches and our investigations have shown that there has never been any crises in any church that could be said to have led to some aggrieved section attacking their brethren and killing them", Taparki argued. Taparki therefore insisted that "If Christians have been accused of killing themselves, we appeal to the government and the security operatives to make public the arrest and trial of the Christian criminals to forestall any further recurrence of this ugly incident."

Victim recounts narrow escape from ritual killers From Yusha'u Alhassann, Jalingo


middle-aged man, Abdulkadir, who narrowly escaped from ritual killers in Jalingo has appealed to security agencies particularly those in plain clothes, to intensify surveillance on the activities of ritualists in Taraba state. He was speaking with our reporter on his sick bed at the Federal Medical Centre,

Jalingo, where he was receiving treatment for injuries he sustained while struggling escape when suspected ritual killers kidnapped him. Narrating his ordeal, Abdulkadir said on arrival from Yelwan Abbare Village in Jalingo local government, he took a taxi to the market when one of the assailants brought out a handkerchief with some powdery substance suspected

to be charm which induced the passengers in the car to sleep. He also said that the kidnappers took his N500, 000 while on their way to a house where one of the passengers was slaughtered. The victim, who was recovering from the attempt to strangulate him, said he could not explain how he escaped being killed but only found himself under the Nukai bridge in Jalingo. He also said

that the ritualists spoke in Hausa and that he could hardly identify the house they were taken to. When contacted for comment, the Police Public Relations Officer, Ibian Obaseki said the matter was not reported to police. He however advised the public to cooperate with the police especially in the area of stop and search of vehicles in order to arrest criminals.




A Catholic church building in Adamgbe village of Mbayongo Vandeikya Local Government Area of Benue collapsed on Saturday night killing some 30 villagers who were worshipping during the Easter vigil night at the church. Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole (2nd right), with Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Most Rev Gabriel Dunia, and others watch the dramatisation of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, during the annual 14 Stations of the Cross procession from Imiegba to Okpekpe in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State on Friday. Photo: Osaigbovo Iguobaro


3 4

This car veered off the road and plunged into a ditch, on Friday, at Mayere road, Narayi High Cost, in Kaduna, The driver and one other occupant escaped with minor injuries. Photo: Agaju Madugba



Lagos state Deputy Governor, Hon. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire,( 3rd right) front row in a group photograph with the finalists of the year 2012 Lagos Carnival Beauty Pageant, during a visit to the deputy governor, at the weekend in Lagos.





NARTO blames accidents on bad roads

Lagos state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (2nd left), inspecting various on-going projects aimed at the transformation of Obalende, in Lagos. With him are Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello (2nd right), and Permanent Secretary (Office of Drainage), Ministry of Environment, Engineer Muyideen Akinsanya (left).


Sultan urges Christians, Muslims to reflect on Easter T

he Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, has called on Muslims and Christians to use the Easter season to reflect on the situation in the country. He made the call on Saturday in Abuja in a letter addressed to Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to mark the Easter celebration. The letter was signed by Dr. Abdul-Lateef Adegbite, SecretaryGeneral, the Nigerian Supreme

Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) on behalf of the Sultan, who is the President of the Council. He said that adherents of both religions must resolve to effect changes that would ensure real development and meaningful progress in the land. The Sultan said Muslims and Christians should join forces with the authorities to tackle the twin evils of corruption and insecurity that were threatening to consume the nation.

“We should mobilise our followers to cultivate those values and virtues extolled by our great religions: Christianity and Islam. “In particular, we should stress the virtue of personal integrity which teaches us not to cheat, not to steal and not to take or give bribes. “In this way, public funds would be safe in the hands of those to whom they are entrusted and corruption would disappear from the realm”, he added.

Abubakar warned that national development could not be achieved in a state of insecurity, and urged Nigerians to cooperate with the authorities to secure the nation. “We should mobilise all faithful to be security-conscious by reporting every suspicious movement to the nearest security outfit. “A secure and corruption-free Nigeria will earn the country greatness to the pride of all”, the Sultan said. (NAN)

he National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) has attributed 70 percent of accidents involving tanker drivers in Nigeria to bad roads. Mr. Emmanuel Gowon, the Executive Secretary of NARTO, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, that not all accidents involving tankers were caused by inexperienced driving or the age of the driver. “I am not trying to exonerate tanker drivers from mistakes leading to accident. But if majority of accidents that occur on Nigerian roads are investigated, you will discover that the spots of the accidents are bad. “The state of the roads is very bad in addition to insecurity. “Failed portions on the roads have contributed to about 70 per cent of accidents involving tankers in parts of the country”, Gowon said. He said that a tanker costs about N30 million, adding that no employer would spend such an amount and hire inexperienced driver to operate it. “If an accident occurs and the tanker is burnt, the owner of the truck has lost millions and if the driver dies, as a result of the accident, it is double trouble”. In another interview, Mr. Abdulahi Darga, the Secretary of Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), told NAN that the association had no power to control the employment of tanker drivers. “We only register them as members of our association once we are satisfied with their employment status”, he said. Darga noted that no employer would employ an inexperienced driver because of the risk involved. He assured that the association would collaborate with the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to ensure that tanker drivers were properly trained and educated on road safety.

Muslim group suggests ban on foreign medical trip for public office holders


he Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has urged the National Assembly to pass a bill banning public office holders from going abroad for medical treatment. This was contained in a statement issued by Prof. Is-haq Akintola, Director of MURIC and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja. According to the statement,

the group also demanded that all public office holders withdraw their children and wards studying in foreign institutions and enrol them in Nigerian schools. “We charge the National Assembly to initiate and pass a bill prohibiting people whose children and wards attend overseas institutions from holding public office. “This is the only way to compel government to pay attention to our

decaying education sector”. The group said this was the only way Nigerian schools and hospitals could become effective as the public office holders would strive to bring them to international standards. On the Easter celebration, the group urged Nigerian leaders to emulate the selfless life of Jesus Christ. It stated that Nigeria needed

Senator’s wife donates 40 freezers to Kwara widows From Olanrewaju Lawal, Ilorin


o alleviate poverty among widows in Kwara state, Mrs. Yemisi Adeyemi, wife of Senator Smart Adeyemi at the weekend distributed 40 brand new freezers to 30 widows across the local government areas in the sate under the ‘Manner Dew Charity Foundation’ she set up few years ago. Mrs. Adeyemi, who distributed the items along with foodstuff to the beneficiaries in Ilorin, noted that her gesture was to complement the efforts of Kwara state government to reduce hardship being faced by women especially those that have lost

their bread winners. “Today, we are empowering over 30 widows to start a meaningful business so as to provide them with good source of livelihood to take care of their families and other dependants. “As you can see, we have in place 40 brand new chillers or freezers to start a small business for each of the widows. This has huge multiplying effect in reducing poverty and high unemployment rate in our society. “Our vision is in line with Federal Government and state government’s plan to reduce poverty, unemployment and to enhance the socio-economic development of the sate through Private and Public Partnership Initiative (PPPI)”.

public officers who were ready to make sacrifices, instil discipline in themselves and their families before asking the citizens to be morally upright. “The Muslim Rights Concern felicitates with the body of Christ throughout the world. In particular, we identify ourselves with Nigerian Christendom as they enter the sober mood of this season.

“We urge Nigerian citizens to learn the crucial lessons of the Easter period, namely, selfsacrifice, altruism, moderation, love and forgiveness. “We must bury ChristianMuslim acrimony and shun religious bigotry and the attendant violence so that peace which is an essential ingredient of progress, can reign in the land. We appeal to all”. (NAN)

Brisk business on Abuja-Lokoja highway as sellers exploit stranded commuters From Sam Egwu, Lokoja


ravellers passing through Lokoja to other parts of the country were on Friday trapped in a traffic gridlock for over 7 hours as the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, could not find a solution and left road users to their fate. This brought about brisk business for motorcycle riders and hawkers of essential items like water and fast foods. A sachet of pure which ordinarily sells for N5 went up to N50 even as the commodity not enough for the demand, while fast food like gala, dough nut and

plantain chips sold for N100 instead of N50 which was the usual cost. Some children travelling with their parents who could not withstand the pressure of the intense heat from the confusion on the road were heard crying. Speaking with journalists over the gridlock, the Sector Commander of Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr. Michael Olapade said it was the impatience of most drivers that was responsible for the situation. He called on motorists to show some level of decency and decorum while on the highway as obtained in other countries of Africa to key into the world system.



Why northerners are not accessing NEXIM Bank loans – MD From Edwin Olofu, Kano


he Managing Director of the Nigeria Import and export Bank (NEXIM), Mr. Roberts U Orya has challenged northern business men to brace up to the economic challenges facing the region by cultivating the habit of accessing facilities and subventions in banks and investment houses. Orya, who was speaking

yesterday at the maiden summit on entrepreneurship development organised by the Kano state Ministry of Commerce and Industry, noted that lack of sufficient knowledge and nonchallant attitude among northern businessmen contributed to the failure of them accessing credit facilities from the banks. He noted that southern business entrepreneurs’

deployed every mechanism, including hiring professional bodies, to help them access facilities from banks, “whereas the northern business people don’t even know how to confront the bank and talk about getting any money.” He explained that in most cases when a business man from the north was asked about his papers and other vital documents that will serve as collateral for him to

be able to access the bank facilities he will refuse on the premise that he operates business without such sensitive procedures and documents. Also speaking during the summit, Kano state governor, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso noted that Nigeria was currently yearning for better economic development through job creation and the provision of better infrastructures that will help people to achieve

their economic goals. Kwankwaso explained that his government had gone far in terms of enhancing the lives of the common people through economic empowerment pursued on the basis of human development and self-reliance. He said since the inception of his administration in may last year, over 5,000 youths had graduated from several institutions where they learnt different arts and trades, adding that soonest, over 1000 youths are billed to undergo trainings in poultry, farming, and fishery.

IGP woos Benin monarch over kidnapping From Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin


he Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar at the weekend sought the advice of Benin monarch, Oba Erediauwa on what should be done to re-enact the curse placed on kidnapping by making it potent. This is coming barely two years after traditional rulers, district heads and divers on the order of the royal father publicly placed curses on kidnappers and evil doers in Edo state at Urhokpota palace ground, King Square, in Benin City. Abubakar was at the palace of the royal father to seek prayers to weather the storm of Boko Haram insurgency and national security after he took delivery of 50 brand new Toyota Hilux vans donated to the force by the state government. The police boss, who recalled the cordial relationship with the monarch when he was Assistant Inspector General of Police, in charge of Zone 5, said the force needed prayer to succeed.

Atiku at Easter preaches sacrifice and love By Ikechukwu Okaforadi


ormer Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has urged Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of love and sacrifice as they commemorate Easter. In a goodwill message issued by his Media Office in Abuja, Atiku enjoined Christians and indeed all Nigerians to internalise the spiritual gains and benefits of the season for an improved society. He admonished Christians to emulate Jesus Christ by his exemplary unconditional love and sacrifice to humanity. According to him, this is the only path to enthroning a Nigeria of equal rights, peace and justice. “We need to promote love for one another, be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and above all, make sacrifice an integral part of our existence. That is the only way the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross will make meaning in our own daily lives and the life of our nation,” Atiku said.

Some internally displaced persons queuing for bread, recently at the National High School Camp, Tudun Kauri, in Lafia, Nasarawa state. Photo: Ali Abubakar

Easter celebration: Oshiomhole joins Catholic procession From Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin


he governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, at the weekend, joined over 3, 000 Catholic faithful in the 14 Stations of the Cross procession from Imiegba to Okpekpe in Etsako East local government area, with a promise to complete all projects the state government has embarked upon.

Speaking to the congregation after procession covering over six kilometres led by Most Rev Gabriel Dunia, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, the Governor said with the help of the Creator, the state government would have the ability to complete all the projects across the state. According to him, the two bridges connecting Igodo to Okpekpe and Igodo to Imiegba will be completed, while the Okpekpe

to Imiegba road still needs to be worked upon. “When we started work on the Okpekpe road, some people said I was wasting money constructing roads to hamlets where there are no people with vehicles. But today, everybody is happy with the Okpekpe road. I told our critics that if the people have no vehicles, their children will one day ply the road with their own vehicles,” he added. Comrade Oshiomhole noted

that those in government should know that the resources of the state should be used for the development of the state, advising the people to beware of those who peddle unfounded rumours. Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Most Rev. Gabriel Dunia who commended the governor for the developmental strides in the state, urged him not to relent in his determination to develop the state.

Sokoto govt revokes 156 plots allocation Minister frowns at doctors who From Sadeeq Aliyu, Sokoto


he Sokoto state Ministry of Lands and Housing has revoked 156 plots of land on site acquired to resettle people affected by the ongoing construction of the state university but were illegally sold to some individuals. The Commissioner for Lands, Barrister Nasiru Aliyu Dantsoho, who announced the revocation while inspecting site at new Madorawa village in Bodinga local government, stated that most of the plots were not allocated to genuine allotters. He said “the land was acquired by state government to settle those affected by construction of the state university but some officials connived and sold the plots

illegally”. Barrister Dantsoho explained that a committee had been set up to investigate the matter and that whoever is found wanting will be dealt with. In a related development, the Sokoto Urban and Regional Planning Board has issued a 24hour ultimatum to those who erected illegal structures from Arkilla area in Wamakko local government to the new site of Independent Power Project to remove them. The Special Adviser to Governor Wamakko on the regional Planning Board, Alhaji Sanusi Tukur Faru, who issued the ultimatum when he visited the site, said the structures were erected on the government reserve areas and under high tension cables.

refer patients abroad

By Etuka Sunday


he Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu has said the ministry would no longer tolerate doctors who continue to transfer patients abroad without proper investigation to know if Nigerian hospitals have the facilities they are looking for. The minister made this known in the retreat and meeting of the Association of Chief Executives of Federal Tertiary Hospitals in Nigeria (ACEFTH) with the theme: ‘The Challenges in Tertiary Health Care Delivery’, held at Reiz Hotel, Abuja. According to the minister the

purpose of the meeting was to review some of the issues concerning quality health care delivery and by reflecting on those issues as according to him, ‘the largest room in the world always remain the room for improvement’. He said the standards in the medical sector would not be compromised and pledged to ensure that the standards are maintained. He said in the last few years, many hospitals in Nigeria have made Nigeria proud, calling on qualified medical practitioners in the country to prove wrong those critics who think that nothing good could be achieved in this country especially in the health sector.






Happy Easter celebration


he Christian community in Nigeria is celebrating, doubtless, one of the bleakest Easters in recent times. This is because of the criminal activity of the insurgent Boko Haram Islamic sect that has targeted Christian places of worship and worshippers since Christmas Day in 2011. Churches have been bombed out and hundreds of Christians — and non-Christians — killed in Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Plateau and Niger states. However, the dark days and months building up to this celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, the founder of the Christian faith, must not be allowed to rob the occasion of its essence. Which is God’s unmerited love for a sinful mankind. Jesus Christ was the manifestation of that love. The Bible says that “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. [John 15.13] This is love that “passes all (human) understanding”. This is what Easter means and Christians, wherever they are, should remain upbeat and let the joy of the Easter season overflow as never before. Jesus, before he died, said whoever would follow him must carry his “own cross”. He explained that with the warning that the Christian life

would never be a bed of roses but one of hardships, persecution, deprivation and even physical death. “The world will hate you just as it hated me”, he said. The respected apostle Paul, once himself a persecutor of Christ’s early disciples, warned that “in the last days” Christians would be sorely tested for their faith. However, he said those that

Christians must resist the Devil’s temptation to blame all Muslims for their present travails. There are millions of good, empathetic Muslims who detest Boko Haram as much as Christians do, if not more. These should be embraced. Standing together they can defeat Boko Haram physically and spiritually preserve in the faith would gain the “crown of righteousness”. In a sense, Boko Haram represents to Christians the antiChrist that the Messiah (Christ) warned would arise in the last days to torment his faithful followers. However, he said they should be of “good cheer” because

OUR MISSION “To be the market place of ideas and the leading player in the industry by putting the people first, upholding the truth, maintaining the highest professional and ethical standards while delivering value to our stakeholders”

“I have overcome the world”. He achieved this by succumbing to death on the Cross of Calvary on a Good Friday and coming back to life on an Easter Sunday (yesterday), thereby scoring a glorious victory over Satan. Boko Haram, in spite of the seemingly unstoppable destruction it is wreaking, is already defeated in the spiritual sense. Indeed, as Christ himself said, “do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do more”. However, Jesus’ words of an assurance of victory over evil are not a call to a life of careless abandon. No. Without a doubt, these are harrowing times for all Nigerians. For Nigerian Christians, in particular, they call for a recommitment to the faith, for closeness to God and prayers for the country. They require that we show even greater love for fellow country men and women, other compatriots who do not belong in the Christian faith. Indeed, Christians must resist the Devil’s temptation to blame all Muslims for their present travails. There are millions of good, empathetic Muslims who detest Boko Haram as much as Christians do, if not more. These should be embraced. Standing together they can defeat Boko Haram physically and spiritually. Therefore, we say happy Easter.








“To be a reputable, profitable, innovative and technologically reliant media company offering world class services and products”


By Raheem Oluwafunminiyi


or many foreign policy observers like this writer, there is no gainsaying that Nigeria is fast losing touch with realities in international diplomatic circles. This assertion is factual if one looks at the use of our diplomatic intrigues during the Libyan uprising when Nigeria swiftly supported the Libyan Transitional Government despite apprehension from their SouthAfrican neighbour. Nigeria’s support for the opposition only came when it seemed NATO and the US were hell bent on cutting off the headache called Muammar Gadaffi. Other examples abound like those of the Egyptian uprising and that of Ivory Coast, where Laurent Gbagbo went berserk all in a bid to hold on to power. Despite Nigeria’s foreign policy insisting on pursuing a true course in continental and regional security, the triumph of freedom and democracy in these countries owe so much to the West as against whatever Nigeria preached or preaches. The problem, however, is that in as much as we try to show


When President Jonathan got it all wrong the international community that we are a nation with the big brother status, we remain a laughing stock among them because our leaders cannot stop making incautious statements abroad which does not reflect the true state of things to within our territory. The reason for this forthright statement could be seen in the just concluded World Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, where President Jonathan was at the opening of the Nigeria-Korea Investment Forum on Infastructure and Energy Development at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Seoul, South Korea. He, alongside 52 world leaders and international organisation attended the summit. The President, after the summit spoke to the Nigerian community where he promised

that his administration would replicate the Asian Tiger economy before his tenure elapsed. He also promised that his administration would do everything possible to woo investors into the country while investors would be encouraged

hopes were dashed. Then the military came. We endured, prayed and hope that the country would return to civil rule. That too has come to pass and today, we are more sorrowful and angry than at any time in our history. In response to the Madalla bombing, I published an appeal to Nigerians titled, Do Not Be Afraid.In it, I enjoined Nigerians to remain steadfast and firm because we will survive the murderous trials and persecutions by the agents of evil who desecrate religion by wearing a devilish mask. Now, it is time for us to look up to the meaning of the cross of Christ as symbol of the triumph of good over evil. The challenge is whether indeed we as Christians can embark on genuine personal and communal repentance and commitment to turn to the true teachings of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He came that we might havelife and have it to the full(Jn. 10: 10). The humiliation and scandal of His death is the guarantee that all who die in Him will have eternal life (Jn. 11: 25, I Cor. 15: 22). In His cross is our hope that we Christians will understand that suffering has a meaning in God’s plans. At a time when Christians are made to believe that suffering is an aberration, we need to pray that God helps us to understand and appreciate its purifying effects in our lives as individuals and as a nation. We have seen the end of slavery and in our own times, the end of apartheid. In each case, the people become stronger. To be sure, these are tough times for Christians in Nigeria. There is no doubt that the negligence of successive Government has created a

climate of impunity in which Christians have continued to feel trapped in many parts their own country especially in the some northern states. Over the years, the federal and state governments have looked the other way as our Churches gradually became objects of desecration and target practice by a band of miscreants and criminal youths who claim to be Muslims. Our priests have been slaughtered from Kaduna to Maiduguri, thousands of innocent Christians have been trapped and murdered in their churches and homes. Their places of worship and their properties have been destroyed while the governments of Nigeria continued to fiddle and fritter away the opportunity for national cohesion. The incompetence of governments has opened up a vacuum where criminals wear a religious mask. Rather than feel under siege

to do business in Nigeria. For those who are not in the know, the term Asian Tigers (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore) according to economic historians refers to the first group of developing countries to successfully

From the look of his speech, it is not hard to conclude that the President was not in the know of the Nigerian realities when he told the international community how, within two years left for his administration to end, he intends to replicate the success of the Asian Tigers in Nigeria when as a leader, he could not confront the so called oil cabal that had milked dry the vast majority of the people for decades

transform themselves between the early 1960s and 1990s from economic crawlers to cuttingedge global financial and economic powerhouses. Today, the original Asian Tigers (as new Tigers have emerged in the last one decade) have become substantial global economies on their own with South Korea boasting a GDP of $929 billion; Taiwan $699 billion; Hong Kong$215 billion; and Singapore $182 billion. Combined together, the Asian Tigers boast of an economy worth more than $2 trillion, making the the eight largest economy in the world. Any curious mind would have asked how these four Asian countries brought about an economic miracle, growing at a steady rate annualy, even as economic crunch bites Europe? Theirs was no rocket science as for about four decades, salient Continued on page 14

Hope in the time of trial

By Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah


e boast of our troubles because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings acceptance and this acceptance brings hope. This hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit who is God’s gift to us (Rom 5: 4) Although it is true that these are trying times for Nigeria, nay, the world at large, it is not true that the causes of these trials are the same for all nations. Whereas our leaders love to seek refuge from their inefficiency by assuring us that we are not alone because neither corruption nor insecurity are peculiar to us, they forget that the disease might be the same, but the causes and cures are different. Whereas corrupt government officials in atheistic China could lose their lives if found guilty of an infraction against the state in their line of duty, in Nigeria, the most religious nation in the world, these same persons could actually prolong their lives by the size of their corruption. National honours, recognition by religious and traditional leaders all go to add to the give legitimacy to corruption by the elite. But the cumulative impact of corruption has come back to haunt us as it has become clear especially in the last ten years. How will Nigeria survive these trials? In the end, how will this endurance bring us hope and is there any chance that this hope will not disappoint us? We prayed for an end to colonial rule and it came and went. No sooner did we become independent than our

or threatened, we Christians must arise to the fact that these are the trials that bring forth endurance. It is sad to hear Christians sound as if Jesus made a mistake by offering a higher goal than the murderers and arsonists can understand. Faced with protracted injustice and violence, I hear some Christians wonder what Jesus meant when He said: You have heard it said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap you on the left as well (Mk 5: 38-9). Some Christians have sought to moderate their thoughts by claiming that after offering their two cheeks which have been struck by the enemy, it is time that we must feel justified to seek revenge. Others claim that these criminals must be taught a lesson so that they do not think that they have a monopoly of violence.

Sadly, our nation is still in the woods despite claims of superfluous religiosity. A climate of moral relativism and uncertainty, a blurred vision, hangs gloomily in the air. A sense of what or who is right or wrong is contested. Can any senior public officer ever go to jail in Nigeria for stealing? The answer is, it depends. Can Nigerians ever agree that the stealing of state resources is a sin? The answer is, it depends

The anger and the frustrations of our people are understandable especially against the backdrop of an incompetent state which has lost its ability to apprehend and punish criminals. But, as the late Rev Martin Luther King said, It is only the love of Jesus that is capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. It was well after His executioners had completed their work that they acknowledged that, Truly, this was indeed the Son of God (Mt. 27: 54). Mahatma Gandhi who preached non-violence was not a Christian. Rev. Martin Luther King or a Nelson Mandela, his disciples embraced non-violence and in the end, they all have triumphed and left the world a memorable legacy that years of violence and vengeance could not produce. Forgiveness and good neighbourliness have always been part of our lives as Africans before evil crept into our lives, dividing us into Christians and Muslimsrather than brothers and sisters. Easter gives us Christians a chance to preach this message because we are Christians not because of what anyone else believes or thinks. Jesus said to us: I tell you who hear me. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who ill-treat you (Lk 6: 27, Mt 5: 44). We are most gratified by the fact that over time, our Christian youths have continued to conduct themselves in the most peaceful manner in keeping with the laws of the land even against provocation. Till date, there is no record of any Christian youth who has ever set out to burn or Continued on page 14



When President Jonathan got it all wrong Continued from page 13

issues that would bring prosperity and a basic understanding of how the world economy worked coupled with a determined and strong leadership with the political will to step on the toes of faceless cabals in whatever shades and lights led these nations to economic triumph. Aside these, the pursuit of intelligent neo-liberal policies, standard education for the people, a committed and hardworking work force and strong reliance on export were some of the policies embarked upon by these Asian Tigers, making them to be at par economically with countries like the U.S, Canada and France. From the look of his speech, it is not hard to conclude that the President was not in the know of the Nigerian realities when he told the international community how, within two years left for his administration to end, he intends to replicate the success of the Asian Tigers in Nigeria when as a leader, he could not confront the so called oil cabal that had milked dry the vast majority of the people for decades. It is simply a misplaced speech and this writer wondered where the President’s diplomatic details, speech writers and foreign policy advisers were when the President was making that speech. It took the Asian Tiger countries decades to achieve their economic and sociopolitical feats, yet our president Continued from page 13

destroy a mosque. Wherever anything has happened to the contrary, it has been an act of selfdefense to repel these miscreants. I hope that their Muslim counterparts can learn a lesson from this and hopefully, together, our youths can become agents of peace. But we religious leaders must work hard to create environment for collaboration and avoid stoking the emblems of division and hatred through what we teach our youth. The federal government must be awake to its duty because it is its negligence that has left the public space open to scoundrels. Sadly, our nation is still in the woods despite claims of superfluous religiosity. A climate of moral relativism and uncertainty, a blurred vision, hangs gloomily in the air. A sense of what or who is right or wrong is contested. Can any senior public officer ever go to jail in Nigeria for stealing? The answer is, it depends. Can Nigerians ever agree that the stealing of state resources is a sin? The answer is, it depends. Do we know how anyone can get a job that they qualify for in Nigeria? The answer is, it depends. Do we know how a good man or woman can win an election in Nigeria without money or the power to corrupt the system? The answer is, it depends. How do you gain admission into a University in Nigeria? The answer is, it depends. What qualifications do

went ahead to tell a stunned the yearnings and aspirations of replicate another nation’s international community he the people, a patriotic citizen or economic success story. wished to do same within two a nation with efficient power President Jonathan with his years. It is quite unfortunate supply is not a nation whose speech has made mockery of his that all our leaders do is to talk president can transform within administration and should in a and talk carelessly abroad two years, replicating other matter of days begin a process without weighing the nations success upon. of making things clearer. We do implication on the nation. In a In a country where not need the success stories of country where life expectancy corruption is a norm and some Asian Tigers or Asian is 47 years, how does the celebrated even in the house of Zebras to transform our president intend to raise the the Lord is not a country that country. We know what to do mortality bar within two years can go the way of the Asian and should do it. Nigeria should to 72 years which begin a the Asian Tigers process of reenjoy in orientation abundance? w h e r e Nigeria is solely e v e r y Peoples Daily welcomes your letters, opinion articles, text dependent on oil citizen puts messages and ‘pictures of yesteryears.’ All written and for more than his loyalty contributions should be concise. Word limits: Letters - 150 four decades, she first to the words, Articles - 750 words. Please include your name and has not been able n a t i o n a valid location. Letters to the Editor should be addressed to transform the b e f o r e to: nation into a f a m i l y , developed giant, friends and political yet the president The Editor, feudal lords. wishes to replicate Peoples Daily, 1st Floor Peace Plaza, If we all see what happened in 35 Ajose Adeogun Street, Utako, Abuja. Nigeria as the Asian Tiger Email: let one without countries. Did he SMS: 07037756364 bias or forget that these sentiments, countries hardly enjoy abundant natural Tigers within two years. If the then Nigeria would be our resources like ours, yet went Asian Tigers had rode on the priority for greatness. If it is ahead to use the little they had ‘goodluck’ train by voting in only oil our leaders have to to transform their countries? leaders who claimed had no transform Nigeria, let them A country where one can shoes while growing up and then begin using it to bring about hardly find state of the art roads appeared volteface when power development and social justice, and efficient transportation had been given, nobody would while the big brother status we system, a growing and super be talking about replicating claim to be would always be the education system where every some Asian Tiger economies. A envy of others. Havin said this, it is a well child is mandated to get cheap country whose ruling party does education, a strong and efficient nothing but share money at the known fact that no organization work force dedicated to the centre and middle, without any would invest in a country where crisis, religious development of the nation, a clue on how to make the country violence, leader who is willing to listen to one of envy and pride cannot intolerance, power failure and

corruption are in high demand. Investors are not father christmas and would not throw money where such investments would be hit by national disgrace. This writer wonders how the president wishes to encourage and woo investors into the country when virtually nothing works in the country? The example of the telecoms sector the president used as a yardstick is quite faulty because Nigerians pay one of the highest bills to keep pace with the telecoms world. Aside these, these telecoms companies find it quite hard to operate in a harsh environment like ours, majorly because of epileptic power and insecurity. Even if we must deceive ourselves, we should not try to place the wool in the eyes of foreigners because they know to a large extent the challenges we are facing as a nation. Nigeria has the wherewithal to be more than the Asian Tigers and it is all about doing the right things. Our greatness can only be achieved when we as a nation is economically sound. The Asian Tigers had achieved this feat and for that reason, let president Jonathan and his ilk seek yea that economic powerhouse and kingdom (through thinking leaders) and all other things shall follow. Raheem Oluwafunminiyi is a social commentator and political analyst who reside in Ibadan. He could be reached via

for a little share of the filthy lucre are promising to arm-twist God to do the will of their clients even when they steal elections or loot the state treasury. Is it any wonder that truth has been so relativised that a culture of it depends has now emerged? In this climate of moral relativism, can the word of God regain its power? The answer is yes, because,St Paul assured us that: The word of God is living and powerful! It is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12). We must recover this power so we can cut through the clouds of doubts that have dulled our consciences. Our Christian politicians must be encouraged to make a difference in our political life. We have models and the Catholic Church has continued to point the way for Christians to make a difference in their public life. To this end, the Catholic Church has recognized the nobility of politics as a vocation and a call to public service. In 2000, the late Holy Father, Pope John Paul 11 made St Thomas More (A Man for All Seasons) the patron saint and model of Christian politicians. Closer home, our own late Mwalimu

created a climate of violence and chaos. In celebrating Easter, we must think of Jesus, the one who had everything but came to the world in a borrowed womb (Lk. 1:38), was born in a borrowed stable (Lk. 2:7), had no where to lay His head (Mt. 8:20, Lk. 9: 58), had His last supper on a borrowed room and table (Mk 14: 14-15), rode to Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey (Mk 11: 2-3) and even in death, was buried in a borrowed tomb (Lk. 23: 53). The Lord Himself has assured us, Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust in me (Jn. 14: 1). The late American President, Benjamin Franklin said:Doing an injury puts you below your enemy. Avenging injury may make you even with him. ( But forgiving sets you above your enemy. May the one who forgave his killers who did not know what they were doing (Lk 23:34), grant us the grace to forgive those who have caused us untold grief and brought our nation almost to its knees. May He grant peace to those who have died in these trials and consolation to their families. Nigerians will laugh again for our Redeemer liveth. A happy and blessed Easter to you. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah is the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese.


Hope in the time of trial you need to get a job of a contract in Nigeria? The answer is, it depends. Having secured a job, how do you retain it or get promoted? The answer is, it depends. Is there any hope that one day the Judiciary will really and truly become blind to social status and power in Nigeria? The answer is, it depends. Will Nigeria come out of this mess or ever develop a sense of shame? The answer is, it depends. The challenge of Easter is for us to rethink the reality of our faith. Although it easy for us to say that he world is in crisis, the fact is that indeed, it is religion and the loss of its moral compass that account for this crisis. In Nigeria, we have watched over the years as those in power have seduced religion and religious leaders and have now domesticated religion. We have watched as religion has lost its moral authority, independence and capacity to speak truth to power. We have surrendered our altars to politicians and men and women of influence and power. The thunderous prophetic power of the Church is gradually becoming a whisper, with religion becoming a balm to cover the ugliness of corruption. The Church has been caught up with power and now, the hunter has become the hunted. Prayers warriors, sorcerers and prophets,

Julius Nyerere is on his way to being beatified and presented by the Catholic Church as a model for African politicians. Against this backdrop, I want to appeal to our Christians to continue to uphold the principles of the Christian Gospel especially as it pertains to honesty, distributive justice, accountability, integrity and the pursuit of the common good. May the Lord raise up saintly politicians for us. Finally, the simplicity of life of Jesus should be the model for us Christians especially in an environment where modesty is gradually giving way to unruly, unscrupulous and greedy quest and display of often ill-gotten wealth. We learn from Jesus how not to use power wrongly because; the one who was God did not take advantage of his equality with God but became obedient unto death (Phil 2: 8). There is a lot for us to learn from the selflessness of the early Church as we learn from their life of love and sharing. There is need to listen to the words of St James who has told us that: True and genuine religion is this, taking care of orphans and widows in their suffering and keeping oneself from being corrupted by the world (James 1: 27). It is this insatiable greed that has destroyed our nation,




The Pope in Cuba


Otuoke row over house of God

hy should the Pope who leads 1.196 billion Catholic followers the world over pay a visit to Cuba, a small communist country with a population fewer than 12 million people? Questions like this were asked repeatedly by those who oppose the policies of the revolutionary government that came to power in Havana 53 years ago. They have always advocated the isolation of Cuba, something they believe will cripple the tiny island economically, diplomatically and bring down the revolutionary government politically. As the visit became imminent, some dissident groups within Cuba became more desperate and daring in their attempts to create an incident that would lead to a cancellation of the visit or, if it went on, manipulate it for their own limited goals. For instance, a group of 13 dissidents went ahead to take possession of and occupy the minor basilica of the Church of Our Lady of Our Charity in Havana a week before Cardinal Jaime Ortega called in the police to have them removed. Their intention was obviously to use the visit as a political tool. It is to the credit Pope Benedict XVI that he ignored these antics and calls by going ahead with a three-day (March 26 -28) visit to the island in what has been universally applauded as a successful outing. The Catholic Church has had a long and turbulent relationship with Cuba. The country was ‘discovered’ by Columbus during his first voyage, on October 28, 1492. He took possession in the name of the Catholic monarchs of Spain, and named it Juana in honour of the infante Don Juan. The country was o they want President Goodluck Jonathan impeached for allowing a company to renovate the church where he worships in his Otuoke village in Bayelsa state! Well, it would seem there is no end to President Jonathan getting into controversies. Of course, the high visibility of his office brings him into public scrutiny more than any Nigerian. Which must account for why the ‘donation’ or ‘gift’ to a church in his village, Otuoke in Bayelsa state, has attracted loud condemnations by the regular band of critics. I say regular because there is a sort of predictability in the medium that has been most strident in this latest issue, that is The NATION and the people it trotted out as opinion leaders. They constitute a stable. The animated focus on the church renovation undertaken by a construction company, Gitto Construzioni Generalli Nigeria Ltd (GCG), that has been having business dealings with the Bayelsa state government is apparently a fallout of the domestic governorship in-fighting within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which pitted ex-governor Timipre Sylva against the federal might in the person of President Jonathan, a homeboy of Otuoke. It is the Bayelsa version of ‘If you Tarka me, I will Dabo you’. It reminds us that those who live in stone houses should be wary of throwing stones. I want to believe that even if Sylva is not remotely orchestrating the controversy, he would benefit immensely from it. Again, with his camp’s insinuations of more revelations to come, the Abuja big man may be forced into a negotiated

given several other names by its any lingering privileges that might colonial impostors but the one that be accorded the Church after has remained is the one given to it by independence as a vestige of the the original inhabitants – Cuba. It is injustices of the colonial period. A from this background of being a more immediate reason for antipossession of the Catholic monarchs clericalism being a component of of Spain that a complex history of Cuban nationalism was the fact that relationship has the Catholic developed between hierarchy had Cuba and the actively sided Catholic Church. with the Spanish At the end of the monarchy 19th century, against the many Cubans C u b a n viewed the Catholic revolutionaries Church as one of the during the armed primary enemies of conflict of 1868the fledgling nation. 1898. Emmanuel Yawe There were two Another 08024565402 main reasons for major bone of contention was this. The first had to do with the bond the fact that the between Church and Crown. In Catholic Church of Cuba had failed to exchange for the services that it develop and sustain a significant provided the monarchy, the colonial native-born clergy. Many of the Church received numerous lower-ranking priests and all of the privileges and exceptions. Priests were Catholic prelates were born in Spain. immune from prosecution in civil This led many Cubans to conclude courts, church buildings were erected that the primary allegiance of these and clergy members were paid men was to Spain, even before Rome. partly out of state coffers. The The conflicts between Church Church’s authority was backed by and State during the first decades of the might of the state and the force of the republic—e.g. over marriage, law, and the profession of other divorce, baptism, burial, education religions in the colonies was illegal. and the citizenship of priests—were, Furthermore, until the 1880s, there in large part, direct attempts by was no marriage other than the Cuban nationalists to strike a blow canonical. against the Church, and to divest it Many Cubans believed the of power and influence that they dominant position of the Church in believed it held illegitimately. The the colonial era to be evidence of the Catholic Church in Cuba was always backwardness of the Spanish on the side of oppressors. monarchy. Similarly, others viewed This popular hostility to the

settlement before getting further president’s Christian denominationdrenched in muddy waters. Dr. The Anglican Communion – and it Reuben Abati, presidential is where he worships - might be spokesman who has been literally construed as influence peddling. reduced to a whining dog, But even if so, does this particular defensively barking at intruders influence peddling benefit the into his master’s domain, must be president materially? And is it not pondering new attack in line with conventional ethos that phraseologies to tackle the sharks communities expect their highly swirling in the political waters, placed sons and daughters to sizing up their prey and bidding facilitate things – development their time for a fatal bite, if not a projects, infrastructure, mauling. scholarships, jobs – for their The critics allege the renovation hometowns? This is the reality. In of the president’s hometown c h u r c h constitutes with gross abuse of office on Jonathan’s part and thus an impeachable 0803 364 7571 (SMS only) offence. One of the critics, Fred Agbaje, who pitched tent with the the typical Nigerian setting if you Action Congress of Nigeria’s are considered a big man and you demand for investigation of the ‘gift’ cannot point to any facility you was emphatic in his demand: “I brought to your hometown, you are share the ACN’s anxiety and call dismissed as Big-for-Nothing. It is a for the impeachment of the burden for many highly placed President based on the violations of people whether in the public or oath of office, Constitution as well private sector. For instance, many as the provisions of the Code of people in Ogun state dismiss Conduct for Public Officers”. Obasanjo’s eight-year presidency as But away from legalism, given locust years because they cannot see the multiplicity of serious problems any tangible benefits he brought to afflicting this country and his home state, even if few corruption revelations running into individuals benefitted materially billions of naira, does the renovation and positions wise. of a small village church warrant Another issue arising from the all this saber-rattling? Of course, President’s pillory by critics is the that the church belongs to the pressure religious organizations,

The Bisibee Bisi Olawunmi

Church explains why after the 1959 revolution, Cuba officially embraced atheism. Henceforth, the marriage between religion and state was dissolved. State funds were no longer used to finance religious activities. Fidel Castro in the early days of the revolution sent 150 Spanish priests parking. These acts served as a warning to those who had over many centuries benefited from the privileged position of the Church. There was a subsequent flight of 300,000 major beneficiaries of the injustices of the Church from the island. This also helped to diminish the influence of the Church in Cuba. In 1992, Cuba declared itself a secular state and for the first time permitted Catholics and others to join the Communist Party. However, religious schools, a major source of conflict between the Catholics and the government, have remained closed since the early 1960s. But over the years, relations between the Catholic Church and Cuba have improved somehow. Pope Benedict XVI’s few days in Cuba were the second papal visit ever to the island; the first, 14 years ago, by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who famously called for “the world to open up to Cuba, and Cuba to open up to the world.” Back then, it was a meeting of the titans: the famously anticommunist pope who had nudged along the fall of Eastern Europe’s Soviet satellites and Fidel Castro, the longest serving Marxist head of state in the world and alumnus of prestigious Catholic schools. John

most particularly the Christian religion, bring to bear on their well placed parishioners. The churches are forever soliciting assistance for every conceivable project from such people and they are looked upon as being ungodly and miserly if they don’t respond ‘generously’. Among Christians there seems to be much more emphasis on structures than winning souls for Christ. The harvest celebration is another annual ritual of ‘extorting’ church members. When you are appointed harvest chairman, you not only make a hefty financial contribution, you are expected to bring your ‘loaded’ friends to make donations. It is therefore no surprise that the Anglican Church leadership came on hard on the critics, with the hyperbole of describing them as ‘satanic’. I won’t go to that extreme. It is democracy at work. Apart from the church, the community is another demanding entity. There is an emerging trend of cities, towns and villages celebrating Days. The so-called Big people of such towns are generally corralled into the planning committee which in turns draws up a long list of who-is-who among the indigenes. Levies are imposed according to the estimation of your financial worth or the position you occupy either in government or the corporate world which may be at variance with your actual financial standing. You face the

Paul got various concessions from Castro in exchange for his visit. His faithful were denied membership in the Communist Party before the visit. Party membership was extended to them henceforth. John Paul also got Castro to recognize Christmas as a national holiday. Since that 1998 encounter, the Catholic Church in Cuba has played an important role in conflict resolution. The Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega has, for instance, chosen to play mediator between the Cuban government and the opposition. He has done this successfully on several occasions. Pope Benedict cannot lay claim to his predecessor’s charisma. Even then he was able to make his impact felt in Cuba. The visitor was welcomed by a friendly crowd and his speeches broadcast on state media. At his behest too, the Cuban government accepted for the first time since 1959 to recognize Good Friday as a national holiday. Most importantly for world peace was the decision by the Pope to criticize, in clear terms, the 50-year embargo mounted against the country by the United States. Speaking at a departure ceremony, Pope Benedict said Cuba could build “a society of broad vision, renewed and reconciled,” but it would be more difficult “when restrictive economic measures, imposed from outside the country, unfairly burden its people...The present hour urgently demands that in personal, national and international coexistence we reject immovable positions and unilateral viewpoints.” I hope President Barack Obama listened to the 84-year old pontiff.

pressure not to disappoint ‘your people’ and often try by all means to meet the demand. It is a sacrifice. I hold the view that if many strategically placed people facilitate projects in their home communities rather than embezzle public and corporate funds, this country will be a much better place to live in. It will also stem rural- urban drift. Those versed in law may throw the book at President Jonathan but in this instance, I believe the Otuoke church renovation controversy is more of an idle hype by urban based critics most of whom have lost touch with their roots and are of no relevance to their indigenous communities. If they are home boys, they will understand the pressure. And there is an element of hypocrisy which is a past time in this country. For instance, what is the moral basis of the several millions of naira spent on advert placements in newspapers by some state and local governments celebrating the birthday of a party leader? Are they not engaged in influence peddling or gratification? Is it not an attempt to ingratiate themselves with the leader with public funds? The Otuoke church controversy is an instance when legalism ‘jams’ communalism. Stretched to its logical conclusion, there will be an endless list of victims. Well, this storm will pass. But it is hoped that every criticism will be taken as part of building a democratic culture of openness and not cause for vindictive retaliation.



FCTA tasks traders in Area 2 on shut market


he Federal Capital T e r r i t o r y Administration has said that unless the Shop owners association of the Area 2 shopping complex commit to the provision of extant laws guiding re-opening of markets shut down, the market will remain closed until after the Easter holiday. Director Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB, Isa Shuaibu said this Friday while addressing the press over the attack of the Boards Squad by hawkers around the Area 2 shopping complex Tuesday for which the Board sealed the market and insisted on serving the penalty. It was alleged that while the team of enforcement squad assigned to Garki beat were enforcing the law against hawking in the Federal Capital Territory around the shopping complex in Area 2, the hawkers who outnumbered the squad engaged them in a fracas which the director described as an affront on the constituted authority. He said the action which contravened the AEPB Act against street hawking needed to be appropriately applied to deter other plazas in future on such action. Isa said that he gathered from reliable sources that most shop owners supply the street hawkers as a measure to out-smart their competitors in the area and that informed the support they gave to the action of the boys. “When they were attacked by some unruly youth in that

particular place most of them were traced to the shops in that area. Of course it is an offence to attack somebody carrying out his lawful duties. We are left with no option but to re-enforce the law and get the place shut down. “One of the significant reason for taking this decision is to send a signal across to other operators of shopping complex where they condone hawkers within their premises who not only attack our officers, we shall extend this punitive measures against

them. A lot of them do not care about their environment and the immediate vicinity of their shopping plazas, he lamented. The director said that before the Board took the decision to raid the plaza he had led a team to that spot about five times to caution them on their action which contravenes the AEPB Act wondering what would have been done if anyone had lost his life in the incident. Reacting to the incident, Fortune Onugo, Chairman Area 2 shopping Centre, apologized on

behalf of the traders and pledged the total commitment of the association to improving on the Area 2 shopping plaza. His words: “I have to appeal to the director for the actions he has taken and what necessitated his action was duly called for. The incident that led to the fighting yesterday was highly regretted, and we sincerely apologize to the Hon. Minister and members of the public. We are aware that Area 2 has been in a mess and not just quite recently the AEPB came on board and cleared the mess.

Easter celebration: Children having fun at Millennium Park, yesterday, in Abuja.

Photo: Mahmud Isa

Support FCT Minister – Gambia envoy By Adeola Tukuru


ormer Nigerian High Commissioner to the Gambia, Ambasador Ayuba Ngbako has callenged indigenes/residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to shun uncivilised critism and support the minister of the FCT, senator Bala Mohammed. Amb. Ngbako who gave this charge at the weekend during the wedding ceremony of his daughter Mary, noted that the

current administration in the FCT had done well so far, in terms of uniting the founding fathers of the FCT PDP and also in infrastructural development. He noted that the FCT administration had also achieved great success in the area of security of lives and properties in the nation’s capital. ‘’For us in FCT, senator Bala has achieved some success and we are appealing to him to

involve the stakeholders in policy making as it directly affects the lives of the people in FCT” he said. Meanwhile, the former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman, Dr. Amadu Ali described the former envoy as a man of integrity and a true Nigerian to the core who could not blink eyes in giving out his first daughter out to somebody from the south south part of the country.

“If inter marriage is encouraged in every part of country unmindful of tribe or religion, then the country will be a better place for all Nigerians to live in”, he said. Those present at the occasion include the former FCT senator, Alh. Jibril Wowo, Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council(AMAC) Hon. Micah Jiba, the representative of the minister of state, FCT and other dignitaries.

Rainstorm destroys church in Nyanya


he children section of the Apostolic Church, Nyanya, a suburb in the FCT, was among the buildings destroyed on Friday by rainstorm that heralded the first rainfall in the area. The incident, which took place in the early hours of Good Friday, also affected other buildings including the NTA Estate and the Police Officers Wives Plaza. Pastor Ime Sam Udoinyang, who is the Area Superintendent of the church, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the church took care of close to 1,000 children and “thanked God that no life was lost.” According to him, in everything we should give thanks to God but it is unfortunate that this type of thing happened. “We spent a lot of money putting the place together for children’s worship. ‘As you can see, the roofing sheets cost the church a lot of money and it is going to be very different for the church to cope since it will cost more than N10 million to replace the roofs alone. ’’ Udoinyang called on the FCT, the Federal Government, corporate bodies and wellmeaning Nigerians to come to the aid of the church to assist the children. Other residents, who spoke to NAN, said they were surprised at the nature of the rainstorm, which, they noted, was sign of things to come. “We thank God for the first rain but we are afraid of the level of destruction. If this continues, we need to pray for God’s mercies, ’’ a resident said. Also speaking, Mrs Grace Okon, said she was afraid when the rain started and began praying to God. “We need rain to cool the weather but not storm to destroy our property” Meanwhile, the mishap did not stop members of the church including children from joining other Christians to mark Good Friday, a day which symbolises the death of Jesus Christ. NAN also reports that the rainstorm also destroyed billboards and other structures. (NAN)

FCT minister urges residents to spread the gospel of love during Easter


CT Minister Bala Mohammed has urged residents of the territory to spread the gospel of love and peaceful coexistence as they join Christians to observe Easter celebration. In a statement issued by the chief press secretary to

the minister, Malam Muhammad Sule, in Abuja on Friday, Mohammed advised the residents to rededicate themselves to the service of God and humanity to make the world a better place. The minister expressed gratitude to God for the

privilege and mercy granted to non- Christians to join Christians to celebrate the season in an atmosphere of peace. He appealed to the residents to continue to be their brother’s keeper irrespective of their religious belief, adding that “the best

in the sight of God is the most pious. ’’ The minister advised the residents to make supplications to God for the well- being of Nigerians and their leaders, considering the current security challenges in the country. He appealed to residents to

be committed to giving selfless service to the nation to ensure its growth and development. Mohammed advised residents to be securityconscious and report any suspicious movement to lawenforcement agents as security is everybody’s business. (NAN)



Women with their children at Maitama Amusement park, during the Easter celebration, yesterday, in Abuja.

Soft drink vendors waiting for customers, at Millennium Park, yesterday, in Abuja.

Children enjoying themselves at Millennium Park yesterday, in Abuja.

Parents with their children at the Millennium Park, yesterday, in Abuja.

Children having fun, at Wonder Land during the Easter celebration yesterday, in Abuja. Photos: Mahmud Isa



Easter: Transporters hike fare as prices of goods soar



ome transporters and traders in Abuja have taken advantage of the Easter holiday to increase prices of goods and fares to some parts of the country, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered. A visit to some of the parks in the Federal Capital showed that the transport fares to some parts of the country had increased while others remained stable. The fares to places like Aba, Owerri, Enugu and Port Harcourt had increased while the fares for Ibadan, Kano and Zaria remained the same. For Lagos, while the fares increased in some parks, others did not change. Mr Jude Ngwu, Manager at Peace Park, one of the transport companies told NAN that the reason for stability in the Lagos fare at his park was because the number of people coming into Abuja from Lagos was commensurate with the number leaving Abuja for Lagos. Ngwu, however, said there were no passengers coming into Abuja from Aba, Owerri, Port Harcout and Enugu hence the need to increase the fares to prevent operating at a loss. At the Park, transport fare to Lagos remained at N4, 000. For Aba, the fare is now N5,300 as against N3,300; Owerri is now N5,000 as against N3,000 while Port Harcourt which used to be N4,000 is now N6,000. NAN, however, observed that the number of passengers in the park was scanty and Ngwu explained that majority of the passengers travelled on Friday. He also said that transporters usually faced difficulties of insufficient vehicles for travelers during Easter. According to him, unlike the Christmas period where people travelled over a period of about one month, the Easter break was shorter and so more people tended to travel at the same time. He assured that the fares would stabilise after the Easter celebration. At the Utako Park, Mr Moshood Abuga told NAN that there were very few passengers travelling out of Abuja today as the majority of passengers had travelled on Friday. Mrs Imade Imoisele, a passenger on one of the few buses travelling to Lagos, told NAN that she was paying N5, 200 as against the usual N3, 200. Meanwhile, at the Utako and Wuse Markets, prices of some food stuff remained the same while others had been increased. A medium size life chicken which usually sold between N1,200 and N1,500 is now being sold at between N2,000 and N2,800.

Easter: Hair stylists decry low patronage in Abuja

Children enjoying them selves, during the Easter celebration at Maitama Amusemnent park, yesterday, in Abuja. Photo Mahmud Isa While a kilogram of frozen chicken which previously sold for between N700 and N750 is now sold at N800. A small basket of onions which was previously sold at between N300 and N400 now went for between N600 and N800. Mrs Rebecca Achini, however, assured NAN that the prices would come down after the Easter celebration. In addition, travellers on Abuja-Lokoja highway were held up in a traffic jam for hours. Some of the travellers told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview that the situation was due

to ”impatient driving” as well as security check points on the road. Miss Nkwodimma Ngozi in recounting her experience said the hold-up was ”terrible” haven stayed at a spot for three hours. “It is not easy, in fact we have been at a spot for three hours and the movement was stagnant,’’ she said. Ngozi, an Owerri-bound passenger, said she left Abuja at about 7 a.m but arrived Lokoja at 10:05 p.m. She said men of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and other security operatives tried to control the situation, but that commuters failed to

cooperate. However, a traveller to Owerri, Mr Ifeanyi Uzodinma said his movement was smooth as there was no traffic jam on the way. Uzodinma said he left Abuja at 5 a.m. and arrived Enugu by noon. NAN reports that there was beehive of activities in the federal capital territory to usher in Easter. People were thrilled with music and other stage performances. Good Friday is observed on the Friday before Easter to commemorate the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross. (NAN)

Easter: AMAC boss calls for peace By Adeola Tukuru


hairman of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Hon Micah Jiba has called on both Christians and Muslims to live in harmony with one another, as they serve the same God and both religions preach peace and love. The Chairman noted this in a press release made available

to Peoples Daily, adding that there was need for residents in the municipality to be security conscious and report any suspicious movement in their environments. Jiba further expressed optimism on the success of this year’s celebration of Easter as it has always been in the past, stressing that the victory which the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on

the cross brought his followers is the basis for the celebration. He called on Christians to continually pray for the peace and unity of the nation and also to emulate the teachings and character of our lord Jesus Christ, according to the holy bible. “ Residents of AMAC should have the fear of the almighty God in their daily conducts” he said.

Cleric tasks Christians on good conducts By Adeola Tukuru


s Christians celebrate the resurrection of the lord Jesus Christ, the provisional pastor of the Redeeem Christian Church of God (RCCG),Wisdom of God parish, Kubwa, Abuja, Pastor Olawale Oluyombo has

enjoined Christians to emulate the ways and preaching of Christ in their day to day activities. According to him, the essence of this year’s celebration of Easter is the resurrection of our lord,so that he can save his children. He added that there is the need for Christians to reflect and

act on these in their daily conducts. He further stressed that security belonged to God, who can take care of us all and so “we should wake up and embrace the lord Jesus Christ”. “We should seek Jesus Christ in all that we do. He has died for us and risen, so there is power in the resurrection”, he said.

air stylists in Abuja on Saturday complained of low patronage as Nigerians celebrate Easter. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) found that in some parts of Abuja many salons had unusually low patronage, compared to the situation in the past when people prepared for major festivals, such as Easter and Christmas. At Karu, a satellite community, people in the salons visited told NAN that the low patronage was as a result of the harsh economic condition in the country. Mr Smart Gonlega, a stylist, who identified himself as a Ghanaian, said there had been low patronage at the salon since the partial removal of fuel subsidy by the government. “Our customers are not really coming, you can see for yourself that the shop is scanty and we are less busy unlike in previous years. “Last year I can remember that by this time, we opened for business as early as 6a.m. and closed as late as midnight, but this is not the case this year,” Gonlega said. He said during festive periods, he usually employed more hands to help so that all customers would be attended to swiftly to decongest the salon. Mrs Roseline Anyacha, a customer in Gonlega’s salon said she would have made her hair long ago but had to postpone it because she had no money for a hairdo. Anyacha, a housewife, added that she could not bring her three daughters to the salon because of the “economic situation in the country, instead I take them to a local stylist operating in our area”. Another stylist, Mrs Kate Kiga, who owns a salon in Kubwa, expressed disappointment over the low patronage. “I have been in this business for the past 10 years but I think this year is the worst in terms of business boom. “We are supposed to be very busy by now. If it were other times, like last year, for instance, I could not have had time to speak with you but things have turned out differently today,’’ she said . Kiga attributed the low patronage to the harsh economic situation in the country as well as the sudden increase in the prices of salon consumables which led to increases in services. On her part, Mrs Victoria Ugah, another stylist, who operates in Wuse, said she had no cause to complain because she enjoyed the same level of patronage as in the past. “My customers are coming as usual, I have no reason to complain as lack of money or not is not affecting my business. We are doing our work well and happy,’’ she said. Ugah attributed low patronage in some salons to greed by salon owners “because they give preferential treatment to some customers and charge extra during festive periods because of the rush. “I treat my customers well; I am consistent in my prices during and after festivities,’’ the stylist said. “Mrs Mercy Udoh, the Chairperson of Hairstylists Association, Nyanya Branch, blamed the low patronage on some stylists, who increased the cost of their services during festivities. (NAN)




FAAC allocation for the month of March 2012 S/N




FG (52.68%) States (26.72%) L/govt Councils (20.72%) Derivation (13% of Mineral revenue-oil/gas) Value Added Tax (VAT) & Transfers

FG urges Nigerians to invest in automobile sector By Abdulrahman Abdulraheem


he Federal Government on Thursday called on interested investors to take up the challenge as well as opportunities available in the automotive sector and invest in the manufacturing of auto parts and components. The Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Dr Samuel Ortom, who stated this at the launch of investment profiles on automotive components in Abuja, disclosed that government had put in place necessary measures to encourage investments in the manufacturing of automotive components. The Minister, while noting that the Nigerian automotive industry was about five decades old, lamented that the local automotive assembly

Flight schedule AIR NIGERIA (MONDAY - SUNDAY) LOS-A BJ: 07.15, 11.40, 14.00, 16.30, 17.00, 17.20, 18.30. ABJ-LOS: 07.00, 09.30, 10.30, 11.15, 16.15, 19.15, 19.35 ABJ-KANO: 18.40 KANO-ABJ: 08.35 ABJ -SOK (MON): 09.35 ABJ-SOK (FRI): 10.10 ABJ-SOK (WED/SUN): 11.20 SOK-ABJ (MON): 11.35 SOK-ABJ (FRI): 12.00 SOK-ABJ (WED/SUN): 13.20

AEROCONTRACTORS (MON - SUN) LOS-ABJ: 06.50, 13.30, 19.45 LOS-ABJ (SUN): 12.30 LOS-ABJ (SAT): 16.45 ABU-L OS: 07.30, 13.00, 14.00, 19.00 ABU-LOS (SUN): 10.30, 14.30, 19.30 ABU-LOS (SAT): 18.30

DANA AIRLINES (MON - SUN) LOS-ABJ: 07.02, 08.10, 12.06, 15.30, 17.10 ABJ-LOS: 07.20, 09.36, 13.05, 14.40 ABJ-LOS (SAT/SUN): 13.05, 18.00 LOS-KANO : 08.10 KANO-LOS: 11.25 KANO -ABUJA: 11.25 ABUJA-KANO : 10.08


plants, except in a few cases, were not supported by parts and components from local manufacturers. He stressed that the importance of automotive industry to the national economy could not be over emphasised, adding that it is vital in a developing economy like Nigeria. Ortom noted that, "one of the major benefits accruing from the automotive industry is large employment generation particularly when automotive components and part manufacturing are fully developed, it should be viewed as one of the corner stones for establishing a self sustaining economy, job creation and upgrading the standard of living of Nigerians. The automotive industry gives an opportunity to diversify into sophisticated, technically demanding activities that support higher rates of economic growth." The Minister stressed that the fifty-eight (58) sets of profile publications to woo investors into manufacturing of automotive components was in line with Mr. President's agenda for investment to boost job creation in Nigeria. Director-General National Automotive Council (NAC), Aminu Jalal, in his remarks disclosed that 70% of the 2,000 parts and components that make up a typical car were sourced from Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), adding that the industry creates opportunities for jobs through the SMEs. Jalal said, "Financing investment in automotive manufacturing could be obtained from the Bank of Industry and the National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND) . Besides supplying the assembly plants, many automotive parts and components are also needed for vehicles service, repair and maintenance. He lamented that currently, most of these parts are imported, constituting a drain on the foreign exchange reserves and creating jobs overseas instead of locally. EXCHANGE RATES


LOS -ABJ: 9.45, 11.45, 2.45

SELLING 0.3096 203.6739 244.7177 41.6127 156.06


ABJ-LOS: 11.30, 3.45, 4.45 LOS-KANO: 6.15 LOS-KANO (SAT/SUN): 16.30 KANO-LOS: 07.30 KANO-LOS (SUN/SUN): 10.30

28th Mar, 2012 BUYING 0.2896 202.3688 243.1496 41.346 155.06


BUYING 243 43 154

SELLING 257 45 159


- Pg 20

NDIC pays 71,000 depositors of closed micro finance banks

Mob: 08033644990

FMBN floats N6bn mortgage bond private placement By Abdulwahab Isa

620.7 billion



he Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) has completed the private placement of N6 billion mortgagebacked bonds at a coupon rate of 17.25 per cent, a statement issued by FMBN spokesperson, Simeon Agada said. The Series 2 Fixed Rate Notes due on April 3, 2017, is the second tranche of the FMBN SPV Issuer Limited's N100 billion Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities which the mortgage institution wants to use in re-financing of Federal Government's residential houses bought by civil servants. The N6 billion bonds have unconditional and irrevocable

guarantee of the Federal Government of Nigeria, making investments in the securities virtually risk-free. Investments in the securities issued by FMBN SPV Issuer Limited are due in 5 years time. According to Mr. Newman Ordia, executive director (Policy and Strategy/Loans Set-up & Pay-off), FMBN, this transaction brings the total money raised under the FMBN N100 billion Residential MortgageBacked Securities to N32 billion, as the FMBN had in 2007, raised N26 billion in the first tranche of the bond issue. Ordia explaained that raising the bonds became necessary in order to help civil servants purchase Federal

Government residential houses sold under the monetisation policy of the government. Among the professional parties in the transaction are Dunn Loren Merrifield and ChapelHill Denham Advisory Partners which acted as the lead arranger/book-runner and jointbook-runner respectively. Others are G. Elias & Co. (transaction counsel), Segun Odumuyiwa & Co. (independent auditor to the issuer), J.K. Randle Professional Services (collateral auditor), Access Bank Plc (mortgage loan originators/servicers), Zenith Registrars Limited (registrars), Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc (cash manager) and Global Credit Ratings Co. (rating agency).

R-L: Vice-President Mohammed Namadi Sambo in a handshake with Minster of Communications, Mrs Omobola Johnson, during a special meeting on NITEL, at the Vice-President’s office, recently in Abuja. Photo: Joe Oroye

Tax revenue peaks at N4.6 tr in 2011, says ex-FIRS boss By Abdulwahab Isa


etween 2004 and 2011, tax collection by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has grown from slightly below N1.2 trillion (about $7.9billion) to over N4.6 trillion (about $30 billion). Outgoing Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru confirmed the figures at the weekend during her final official session with media representatives to mark her eight years tenure at the helms of affairs as FIRS Chairman. The figures

represent growth in both oil and non-oil revenue. Under her watch as FIRS boss, she said she was able to create one integrated tax office as against independent structures previously operated as VAT office, Withholding tax office and personal tax office. Besides, Okauru said FIRS recorded over 20 convictions through judiciary processes. According to her, the upsurge recorded in tax revenue was due to cooperation she was able to foster between the states as Chairman of Joint Tax Board in the area of

personal income tax and other taxes on individuals. She noted that as a way of institutionalising tax culture in Nigeria, the Service set up tax museum in Abuja and Lagos, set up students tax advocacy initiative; instituting award of professional chairs to thirteen universities and the inclusion of taxation in educational curriculum. She added that reforms and performance recorded by the Service to date has earned the organisation excellent recognition locally and internationally.

Management Tip of the Day


Position yourself for that promotion

ecoming a top candidate for promotion doesn't happen overnight. You have to build a track record of proven performance and demonstrate the skills required for the job. Consider the following strategies to propel yourself to the top of the list:

Gather information. Find out which factors the decision makers consider when judging an employee for promotion and see how you measure up. Use your job to demonstrate skills. Make sure you can display the necessary capabilities in your current position. If not,

work with your boss to develop a needed skill and make sure senior leaders notice. Get feedback on your presence. Ability to project confidence is a key factor in promotion decisions. Seek candid feedback to understand how others perceive you.



COMPANY NEWS Tomato farmers register in farmer data base exercise


o fewer than 3,000 tomato farmers in Yola have registered in the on-going Federal Government farmer data base exercise, according to the tomato farmers' leader.

Interbank rates fall on matured Treasury bill


nterbank lending rates fell this week to an average of 14.41 percent, down from 15.33 percent last week, as matured treasury bill funds boosted liquidity and helped ease pressure on the cost of borrowing, traders said.

Farmers lament unavailability of fertiliser as planting season begins


armers in Akwa Ibom have lamented the nonavailability of fertiliser as the farming season begins, saying it would have a negative effect on their productivity at the end of the year.

N3bn World Bank grant awaits commercial farmers


bout N3.074 billion World Bank grant still remains for poultry, chicken and rice farmers in Lagos State to access. As a result, the state Commercial Agric Development Project (CADP) has intensified calls to farmers to leverage on this opportunity.

Naira heads for 2week high against dollar

Interbank rates fall on matured T-bills From Ngozi Onyeakusi, Lagos


igeria's interbank lending rates fell this week to an average of 14.41 percent, down from 15.33 percent last week, as matured treasury bill funds boosted liquidity and helped ease pressure on the cost of borrowing, traders said. Traders said though the market opened with a negative balance of 42.60 billion Naira ($270.37 million) on Thursday but the

UBA Ghana records N2.04 bn profit after tax in 2011


he United Bank for Africa Ghana Limited, a subsidiary of UBA Plc, has announced a profit after tax of $12.72 million (about N2.035bn or GH¢22.4 million) for 2011, from $5.20 million (GH¢9.2 million) in 2010. A statement released by the Bank last Wednesday said its profit for the year ended 2011 showed an increase of 143%, on the back of improved risk analysis and prudent operational costs. "Specifically, UBA Ghana with 26 fully-networked branches and 40 Visa-enabled ATMs spread across Accra, Tema, Kumasi, Takoradi and Aflao, recorded a profit before tax of GH¢30.2 million ($17.653 million) in 2011 against GH¢13.9 million ($7.86 million) in 2010, representing an increase of 143% over the previous year," the publication quoted the text of the statement. The Bank's deposit volume for the period increased to GH¢404.6 million ($228.8 million) from GH¢311.2 million ($176 million) in 2010. It added that the bank's improved risk analysis and prudent measures contributed in reducing its non-performing loans from 19% in 2010 to 7.91% in 2011.

repayment of about 98 billion Naira in matured open market operation (OMO) bills boosted liquidity. Rates on short-term borrowing on the interbank had risen to around 15.5 percent for overnight at the close of market on Wednesday because of large fund withdrawals by state-owned energy company NNPC. "The injection of about 98 billion Naira into the system from matured OMO bills brought down cost of


he Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has said that it has launched investigation into the N7 billion owed the 103 distressed MicroFinance Banks (MFBs) by their various directors and other managers will bring the full weight of the law to bear on anybody found to be owing


them. The Managing Director, Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, who made the disclosure in a media parley on Friday, in Lagos, said it was part of the agency's efforts of riding the financial system of fraudulent practices, arguing that the country's dream of having a wholesome banking industry would

Diamond Bank to boost network, considers purchases


iamond Bank Plc, the 10th-largest Nigerian lender by market value, wants to expand its branch network in Africa's biggest oil producer by more than 50 percent over two years, and may make acquisitions to spur growth.

Inflation rates from Mar, 2011 to Feb, 2012 Max = 12.8%, Min = 9.3% for period in display. Current Inflation rate = 11.9% Source:CBN

The bank wants 130 more branches, taking its total to 350, either through a purchase or "organic" growth, Chief Financial Officer, Abdulrahman Yinusa said on Friday. The lender also plans to expand its loan book by 20 percent this year to about 80 billion naira ($508 million), he said. Diamond Bank doesn't have a "specific" acquisition target, Yinusa said. According to Muyiwa Oni, a Lagos-based analyst at Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Diamond Bank may buy one of the three state-owned banks that were bailed out in 2009 as a lending crisis threatened the nation's financial system. Diamond Bank also said two days ago that on April 30, it will ask shareholders' permission to enter into acquisition talks. The bank also posted a more-than-fourfold increase in first- quarter profit as deposits grew and bad loans declined.

Banks Earnings Report

Dangote Cement plans 46.3 m tons output by 2015


angote Cement Plc , Africa's biggest producer of the building material, said it will raise output to 46.3 million metric tons by 2015.

elude her if perpetrators of financial crimes are allowed to walk away free. "As you are aware, in October 2010, the CBN in collaboration, of course, with the NDIC withdrew the licences of 103 Micro-Finance Banks who has ended up cheating and defrauding depositors as part of exercise to sanitise and get rid of distressed ones.

L-R: Mr. Segun Odumuyiwa & Co. (Independent Auditor to the Issuer),Segun Odumuyiwa, Executive Director, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Mr. Newman Ordia, and Executive Chairman, J.K. Randle Professional Services (Collateral Auditor) , Bashorun J. K. Randle, during the board meeting/ closing of the FMBN N6 billion 17.25 per cent Series 2 Fixed Rate Notes, recently in Lagos.


Dutch semiconductor company said on Tuesday that it had filed a patent infringement suit against Research In Motion Ltd, adding to the BlackBerry maker's troubles and sending its shares tumbling.

rate. Overnight placement and call money eased to 14.50 percent each from 15.50 percent 15.75 percent respectively last week. "The market will still open at this level next week until we start funding foreign exchange purchases, treasury bills auction and other transaction, which would drain liquidity in the system and push up rate later in the week," another dealer said.

Distressed MFBs: NDIC to prosecute directors over N7bn loans

he Naira strengthened against the dollar and headed for the highest close in more than two weeks on a tight supply of the currency and dollar inflows.

BlackBerry maker, RIM, sued by NXP over patents

borrowing among banks today," one dealer said. NNPC usually sells dollars to banks on a monthly basis and recalls a portion of the Naira proceeds to its account with the central bank. (Reuters) The secured Open Buy Back fell to 14.25 percent from 14.75 percent last week, 225 basis points above the central bank's 12 percent benchmark rate, and 4.25 percentage points above the Standing Deposit Facility

Source:Pro-share Nigeria

"We like to keep our options open," Yinusa said. With shareholder approval for a potential purchase, "we are ready if something comes up." So far, five of the banks rescued in 2009 have been bought by other lenders. A state agency created to buy bad debt said last month it's seeking advisers to help sell Mainstreet Bank Ltd., Keystone Bank Ltd. and Enterprise Bank Ltd. Those banks "appear to be the easiest options right now," Oni said by phone. Diamond "doesn't have the muscle" to buy larger banks such as United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), he said. Diamond Bank said in July it was in talks to buy Oceanic Bank International Plc, which was ultimately acquired by Ecobank Transnational Inc. (ETI) in September. Nationalised banks' loan books "will most definitely be very clean or tiny," and the state may be willing to unload them for nothing, said Bunmi Asaolu, head of equity research at FBN Capital Ltd. The company's stock was unchanged at 2.54 naira at the 2:30 p.m. close in Lagos. Diamond Bank's shares have risen 32 percent this year, compared with the 6.8 percent gain of the Bloomberg NSE Banking Index, which tracks the performance of Nigeria's 10 largest lenders.



NSE introduces primary market makers


en stockbroking firms in the country have been selected by the management of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to uphold the responsibility of primary market making in the Equity market. The CEO of the Exchange, Oscar Onyema says at the bell ringing ceremony on Wednesday, that the selection process of the ten out of the twenty applications, entailed meeting the criteria of minimum of N570million net capital base; compliance history; operational

capabilities and considerations on technological facilities. Onyema stated that having gone through series of trainings and debates about the appropriate market structure to adopt, the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC has granted its approval on the initiative. He reiterated that while supplementary market makers would be welcome at a future point, for the moment, the primary market makers are more significant.

The ten qualified market makers include, Stanbic IBTC, Greenwich Securities, Renaissance Capital, CSL Stockbrokers, FBN Securities, WSTC, ESS/Dunn Loren, Future View, Vetiva, and Capital Bancorp. Each of the selected stockbroking firm was required to select their basket of securities in a blind drawing ballot system. The new primary market makers were allotted twenty securities for trading. Reacting to the action of the

L-R: Director-General, Budget Office, Mr Bright Okogwu, and Director-General, Securities and change Commission, (SEC), Ms. Arunma Oteh, during their meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on the state of the economy, at the State House, recently in Abuja. Photo: Joe Oroye

INVESTORS NEWS BEAT NSE, and commenting on the conferment of market making responsibility in the nations equity market, Dunn Loren Merrifield's Vice President, Tola Odukoya says as a stakeholder in the initiative, the market should anticipate cutting-edge services from Dunn Loren Merrifield.

NSE targets ICT sector, following listings modifications


he Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE)has said its new listing requirements will take the forms of offer for Subscription; Offer for Sale, Placing; Rights Offer/Issue; Capitalisation issue; Introduction(s); Conversion and any other method as may be prescribed by the council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Speaking recently with Capital Market correspondents, the General Manager and Head, Listing, Sales and Retention, Taba Peterside disclosed that there are two boards in the new listing requirements namely, the Main Board and the ASeM Board. For a company to be listed in the Main Board, such a company must be registered as a public liability company with minimum of three (3) years operating track record, as against the previous required five (5) years requirement. The company must have also met the stated profit test for capitalisation rule. However, shareholders equity rule is stated as a minimum of N3billion, but this can be more.

Equity market closes green in the week; inches up by +1.40% T he Nigerian stock market retraced to close positive after a week of negative position as investors gradually begin to engage in value investing while companies continue to hit the market with their audited financials just as Dangote Cement Plc, market leader by capitalisation rewards its shareholders with both cash and bonus dividends In the same light, the key benchmark indices closed down by -0.01% to open the first

trading day of the week with a marginal loss as investors' unrelenting sell pressure which permeated market activities throughout last week continues while the second closed green by +0.96% to halt the seven trading days losing streak as the bulls re-appeared in style amid improved volume turnover. The third session closed with a positive outlook by +0.41%, to maintain the gaining streak for the second successive session as investor continue to engage in

value investing. Conversely, trading activities on Thursday closed in the positive territory to further extend market gains as sentiments remained green. Consequently, the key benchmark indices inches up marginally by +0.04% while market closed the week with aggregate gain of +1.40%. Further analysis on acquiring banks since transaction date showed that the share price of Access Bank

Plc has recorded 27.07% gain, followed by FCMB with 11.54% gain while Union Bank Plc leads the chart with 17.22% gain. However, Sterling Bank recorded -11.81% loss while ETI closed positive with +1.80% gain recorded. However, the All-Share Index in the week under review moved up by +1.40% to close at 20,941.93 as against a decline by -2.54% recorded last week to close at 21,191.22. In the same vein, the

CSCS undergoes restructuring


he Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) has sacked some of its staff as part of a reorganising and re positioning process.

Nigerian T-Bills to drop in auction


ields on Nigerian Treasury bills are expected to drop further at an auction next week due to resilient demand from local and offshore investors.

Ekiti state issues second Bond


ollowing the successful outing of Ekiti State from the capital market, the Nigerian Stock Exchange approved the listing of the states N20 billion Fixed Rate Infrastructural Development Bond under the state's N25 billion Debt Issuance Programme on March 13, 2012.

UBA Stockbrokers: Notification of Relocation


BA Stockbrokers Limited has relocated from its old Lagos address of: 15th Floor, UBA House 57 Marina, to 12th Floor, UBA House 57 Marina, Lagos, effective 29th March, 2012. inShare1

Nigerian agriculture to benefit from equity deal


n a landmark transaction announced last week, Zeder Investments Limited, a South African listed agricultural investment company managed and 40% owned by SA investment firm, PSG, is committing $46.7-million to acquire and expand an agricultural business that will be known as Chayton Africa.

Private equity deal-making thrives despite slower M&A environment


Source:Pro-share Nigeria

rivate Equity (PE)backed Mergers and Acquisition (M&A) exits reached $20.4 billion in the first two months of 2012, up nearly 15 percent from last September and October's market lows.



Nigerians spent N24.25tr on food, other items in 2010 - NBS By Abdulwahab Isa


he National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), has put total food and non-food items consumed by Nigerians for the 12 months period ended October 2010 at about N24.3 trillion. The amount represents about 83 per cent of the nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the year which stood at N29.11 trillion. The NBS report on the nation's consumption pattern for 2009/10 just published indicates that food expenditure accounted for about 64.7 per cent of the total household

Prices of food items rise in Calabar


rices of food items in Calabar markets have increased in the past one week, recording more than 50 per cent rise. A survey by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) showed that items affected included rice, onions and tomatoes. At the Etim Edet and the Marian markets, the price of the big basket of fresh tomatoes rose from the N12,000 sold in March to N15,000. The medium-size basket of the commodity now sells at N2,000, up from between N1,000 and N1,500 during the period under review. The price of a bag of dry pepper that was sold at N20,000 between January and March has increased to N25,000, while a cup of it is selling at N150 against N100. The survey also revealed that the price of a small tuber of yam increased to between N400 and N500, from about N250 it was sold in March. A trader at the market, Mrs. Imaculata Bassey, attributed the new prices to the recent increase in the price of petrol in the country. She said that the cost of transporting the commodities from communities where they were produced or from other markets to Calabar, had risen. Bassey said petrol was presently being sold at between N120 and N140 per litre in Cross River, adding that ``it is even difficult to find petrol to buy, except at the black market.'' A dealer in onions, Malam Sule Ibrahim, said the cost of conveying the item from Sokoto to Calabar had increased, consequently affecting the price of the commodity. He said that ``before now, we paid N2,000 per bag of onions from Sokoto to Calabar but now it has increased to N3,000.'' The result of the high transportation cost, he said, forced the traders to increase their prices. At the Marian Market in the metropolis, Mr Uche Okafor, a rice dealer, told NAN that ``only Indian rice is currently avaialable and its price too has increased from N8,300 per bag to N9,500. (NAN)

expenditure during the period under review while non-food items represented the balance of about 35.3 per cent. The NBS reported further that tubers and plantain were responsible for the largest proportion of household expenditure representing 14.6 percent of total household expenditure and was followed by rent, vegetables, other cereals and beans & peas each taking up 12.1, 9.9, 6.7, and 6.2% respectively of the total household consumption. Further analysis on the expenditure pattern as it relates to food showed that total cereals (adding maize, rice and other cereals categories) and tubers and plantain accounted to a combined 46.7 per cent of total household expenditure on food and 30.2 per cent of total household expenditure. The NBS stated that household

expenditure on non-food items were directed as aforementioned mostly at rent, clothing and footwear and 'other services' (which includes information technology and

communication equipment as well as things like insurance, domestic help, and so on), and fuel and light, each representing 34.3 per cent, 13.5 per cent, 12.7 per cent and

12.5 per cent respectively of total non-food expenditure and 12.1 per cent, 4.79 per cent, 4.5 per cent and 4.43 per cent of total household expenditure respectively.

Omoigui Okauru offer tips on maximum tax potentials as she bows out of FIRS By Abdulwahab Isa


he quest by Nigeria to realise her maximum tax potentials has been anchored on achieving two major breakthroughs, key of which is the enthronement of integrated tax administrative system. Erstwhile Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui Okauru stated this at the weekend at a farewell parley with journalists in Abuja

to mark her eight years tenure as Chairman of the agency. Of emphasis, she said apart from its collection, tax processes are still manually implemented and advised that total integration of tax administration system is a key project that must be accomplished. She also advised on the need to implement taxpayer identification number, adding that "with implementation of these two and with support and

collaboration, we will be taking tax to a new revenue base in the next four years". Okauru, who used the occasion to dispel insinuation that her appointment was terminated said her exit was a planned one having exhausted her two term tenure of eight years beginning May 3rd 2004 when she was appointed and April 10 2008 when her second tenure was ratified by the National Assembly which coincided the passage of tax reforms Act.

L-R: CBN Governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and Niger state Governor, Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu, discussing during the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting presided over by Vice-President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, at the State House, recently in Abuja. Photo: Joe Oroye

Access Bank tops Nigerian banks financial transparency ranking By Aminu Imam with agency report


ccess Bank and Stanbic IBTC lead the pack in Corporate Governance and Risk Management disclosures in the Financial Transparency Index (FTI) based on combined risk management and corporate governance disclosures in their financial reports for the year ended December 2010. The financial transparency study was conducted on the 2010 financial reports of banks quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange by Source Capital Research, in collaboration with BusinessDay Media. The report, which shows how much information the banks provide to the public in both risk management and corporate

governance practices, has been released and it showed that Stanbic IBTC Bank came second behind Access Bank. Fourteen listed banks were analysed by the research team at Source Capital. According to the report, when a combination of the overall level of corporate governance and risk management disclosure by the banks were analysed and ranked, Access Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, First City Monument Bank Plc, Ecobank Bank Plc, and Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) were the top five. Specifically, in the areas of risk management disclosures, Access Bank was the most transparent. It was followed by Stanbic IBTC, Ecobank, FCMB, and GTBank in that order, while Sterling bank, Skye Bank, Unity Bank, FBN and UBA,

provided the least risk management disclosures in their 2010 financial reports. In terms of corporate governance disclosure alone, Stanbic IBTC came out tops and was followed by Diamond Bank, Access Bank, FBN, and GTB, in that order. Wema Bank, Fidelity, Sterling, Ecobank and Unity Bank were in the bottom of the pack in terms of information disclosed that are related to corporate governance. Risk management and corporate governance disclosure is becoming more relevant to investors and regulators of Nigerian banks after a period characterized by weak corporate governance, lax attitude in risk management, excessive credit growth and a universal banking model, which led to regulatory arbitrage.

With the banking sector cleanup and M&As that have taken place since 2009, coupled with the adoption of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) by Nigerian quoted companies, it remains to be seen whether the disclosure standards of the surviving banks will meet the expectations of regulators, analysts and investors going forward. Meanwhile, as the 2011 full year results of banks begin trickling in, it is expected that their annual reports, which would be released soon after, would show more banks having a cleaner more transparent report, as they are likely to adhere more strictly to the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and global best practice standards of corporate governance, knowing that it would put them in good light with investors.




Wanted: Paternity leave for men!! that the proposed paternity leave should even be extended to husbands whose wives had miscarriages. “The line of demarcation between a woman who gave birth to a baby and the one who had a miscarriage is quite slim; the former had a child and the latter lost a child. “I think the husband of the latter should also be entitled to some days off to comfort and console his wife,” Usman says. Malam Nasir Umar, a civil servant, particularly believes that the proposed paternal leave will become quite useful to those husbands working and living in places far away from their families. “Many civil servants working in expensive cities such as Lagos, PortHarcourt and Abuja were been forced to leave their

By Becklang Butack


f all the roles of women on earth, none is considered as risky as childbearing. That explains why in some cultures, safe childbirths by women are often celebrated with pomp and prayer sessions to thank God for His mercies. Due to the demanding pre-natal and post-natal challenges, female civil servants are statutorily entitled to a three-month maternity leave to enable them to recuperate from the rigours of childbearing and look after the newborns. However, some observers feel that at such crucial moments, husbands also have some key complementary roles to play, adding that their presence by the side of their wives is very much desirable. This school of thought, therefore, proposes the introduction of “paternity leave” for male civil servants whose wives have just given birth to babies. Malam Ahmed Hamzah, the Regional Director of Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN) in the North-East geopolitical zone, belongs to this school of thought. He underscores the wisdom in giving male civil servants an opportunity to be with their wives after child deliveries, saying that husbands ought to be around to help, support and comfort their spouses. “The International Planned Parenthood Federation has always supported the idea of having at least a two-week paternity leave for husbands, whose wives have just given birth,” he says. Mrs Fatima Haliru, a housewife, says that any time she gives birth to a baby, her husband’s presence is somewhat essential. “His presence is not only necessary but it is also desirable, particularly in the first two weeks after my child delivery. My spirits are always lifted up by his presence,” she says. Mrs Nancy Choji, the wife of a policeman, describes the notion of introducing paternity leave as “pleasing and great”, particularly for a family that is headed by a soldier or a member of a paramilitary outfit. “I move with my husband whenever he is transferred to another place. Sometimes,

since the husband is the head of the household, he should be ever ready to do anything to support his spouse. “If the husband is given an opportunity to stay with his wife who has just given birth, he should be willing to support her and God will be happy with him. “In my view, the introduction of paternity leave will be a welcome development,” says Bajama. However, Malam Ahmed Baban-inna, the Chief Imam of Bauchi Central Mosque, insists that God has already apportioned specific responsibilities to the husband and wife, saying that the divine roles supersede any man-made innovation. “The husband is supposed to be the head of the family and that is why he has the unique responsibility of providing for his family.

Malam Nasir Umar, a civil servant, particularly believes that the proposed paternal leave will become quite useful to those husbands working and living in places far away from their families

...what a woman can do?

my relations are not around when I give birth. “It then means I can have him by my side to help out if he is entitled to some kind of vacation as a result of my childbirth,” she says. Another housewife, Hajiya Sadiya Babuga, concedes that even though the idea of a paternity leave is a good, there is no guarantee that if the proposed leave is approved, it will not be abused by the beneficiaries. “While some husbands are caring, others are not. Where is the guarantee that those husbands who are not considerate will not spend the paternity leave somewhere doing something else?” she asks. Babuga insists that unless reliable mechanisms are put in place to safeguard the leave from being abused, the proposal may turn out to be a sheer waste of man hours

at the end of the day. She, nonetheless, concedes that for caring husbands, the proposed leave is a laudable one, as it is capable of nurturing strong bonds between husbands and wives. “When a woman gives birth, she needs to be pampered and shown all kinds of love; some husbands

are willing to offer this kind of affection. “Such husbands re-enact their early wedding days and make their wives to feel like Sweet-sixteen,” she adds. However, Mrs Sakina Hassan, a civil servant, says that the proposal is worth implementing for there will be less cases of abuse, while most husbands will make the

Another housewife, Hajiya Sadiya Babuga, concedes that even though the idea of a paternity leave is a good, there is no guarantee that if the proposed leave is approved, it will not be abused by the beneficiaries

best use of the vacation. “Men should be given the privilege of enjoying paternity leave because it is a period of happiness and celebration for the entire family. “Husbands, who are eager to see that their spouses enjoy good health, especially after childbirths, will go the extra mile in ensuring the comfort of both the mother and the baby. “Most mothers endure different kinds of problems during their pregnancies and the troubles include insufficient rest and insomnia, particularly during the late stages of pregnancy. “They, therefore, deserve a helping hand from their husbands, at least for psychological reasons, even if there are other alternatives,” she says. Hassan, nonetheless, acknowledges that the

proposed paternity leave for men may contradict certain cultural norms and traditions, wherein only close relations of the wife or husband are allowed to come and stay with the woman who has just given birth. “Some men may find it difficult to rally round the mother and the newborn because members of both families will be willing to help out in every way. “We have a tradition that if a woman delivers a baby; for the first two weeks or so, members of either the husband’s family or her family will come and stay with her,” she says. Some husbands are also favourably disposed toward the introduction of paternity leave, stressing that its moral, social and psychological benefits are myriad. Mr Friday Usman, a civil servant, however, suggests

families somewhere else because they cannot afford exorbitant school fees or house rents in the cities. “With the paternity leave in place, such people will have some weeks off to attend to the socioeconomic, financial and psychological needs of their wives after childbirths,” he says. Mr Ibrahim Mohammed, a social psychologist, believes that the proposed arrangement will enable both parents to jointly participate in the early stages of child upbringing. “Apart from other advantages of this arrangement, there will be a feeling of togetherness and gender equality. This will promote family unity and thus, reduce the rate of divorce in the society,” he says. Some clerics, however, have divergent views on the matter. Rev. Irmiya Bajama of the ECWA Church in Tafawa Balewa Housing Estate, Bauchi, says that

Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu

“Why should a man need paternity leave? It means that he is being equated with his wife and that amounts to challenging God’s arrangements,” Baban-inna says. Whichever way the

A mother breastfeeding her child

argument goes, observers believe that the introduction of paternity leave for men, particularly at a time when many families are breaking down, will be quite useful, the degree of its usefulness notwithstanding.

The major challenge, the observers add, is the need to ensure that the proposed vacation, if granted, will be used for the intended purpose and not for any extraneous venture. Source: NAN



Answer to rising fuel prices? Indian family fits six on a motorbike even space for two dogs


ere’s one way to beat a fuel crisis. Nobody was left behind when this family in India loaded their belongings onto a motorbike and piled on before speeding down the motorway. Even the family dogs got a lift as they headed through the Indian countryside on a fun family holiday. The four children had to be on

their best behaviour as there was no room for bickering on the back seat. Astonished passers by watched open mouthed as they weaved in and out of traffic on the dicey drive to visit relatives. The money saved on petrol could now be used on helmets for the whole family. Source:

Petrol saver: Even the family dogs got a lift as they headed through the Indian countryside on a fun family holiday

Happy family: Nobody was left behind when this family in India loaded their belongings onto a motorbike and piled on before speeding down the motorway

Milly the chihuahua: Micro weighs less than a banana is set to be crowned the World’s smallest dog


he may be tiny, but Milly the Puerto Rican chihuahua is on the verge of something big being officially recognised as the most petite pooch on the planet. The current record holder is Boo Boo, another chihuahua from the U.S state of Kentucky, but Milly, who lives with her Argentine owners in the north east Puerto Rican town of Vega Alta, hopes to punch above her 170g weight to earn her place in the Guinness Book of Records. After she was born three months ago the family believed

that Milly would grow, but having maintained the same height of just 6.53cm for three weeks they began to think that the pedigree pup might be able to knock Boo Boo from the top dog spot that she has held since February 2008. Measuring in at 10.16cm Boo Boo towers over the new pretender to the throne and miniscule Milly’s carer Rivera Eizzal believes her pedigree puppy has got it in the (doggy) bag. Ms Eizzal, said: ‘Milly was so small she could not breastfeed due to the tiny size of her mouth.

‘To get an idea of just how petite she is, when she was first born she received milk from an eyedropper.’ The animal is constantly accompanied by Ms Eizzil or by her owner, Argentinian Vanessa Semler, who is dedicated to rearing chihuahuas in Puerto Rico. Ms Semler says caring for Milly takes effort, but explains that she and her husband, Edwin Davila, have no children so they have the time to focus their energies on their pet project. A judge from the Guinness

Dog fight: Boo Boo, a long-haired, female chihuahua is the current holder of the title of World's Smallest Dog. She measures 10.16cm tall and is owned by Lana Elswick of Raceland, Kentucky

Dog-eared: The owners of Milly the chihuahua are going to present the dog to the Guinness Book of Records because they believe she is the smallest in the world.

Pocket pedigree: Weighing just 170gms and measuring a miniscule 6.53cm in height the chihuahua from Puerto Rico requires special care

Book of Records is due to travel to Puerto Rico in the coming months to clarify Milly’s size a n d measurements which will then be sent from the island to be o f f i c i a l l y confirmed. Chihuahuas originated from the state of Mexico that carries same name and they usually reach a height of between 15cm and 25cm. Boo Boo is a long-haired, female chihuahua who is owned by Lana Elswick of R a c e l a n d , Kentucky. Source:



FG awards N5bn contract for the construction of Almajiri schools – Sambo


he Federal Government has awarded N5 billion contract for the construction of almajiri schools across the country under the second phase of the Almajiri programme. Vice-President Mohammed Namadi Sambo disclosed this on Saturday in Katsina at the closing ceremony of the 26 th National Qur’anic Recitation Competition. Sambo said the first phase of the programme had been completed and would be commissioned on Tuesday in Sokoto by President Goodluck Jonathan. He said the Federal Government and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) had signed 98 million dollars loan agreement to promote the education of almajiris and the girl-child in Nigeria.

Delta relocates students, pupils of closed schools


he final year students of Lumen Christi, a private school in Asaba, closed by the state government over registration irregularities, have been relocated to a public school. The Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Asaba yesterday that the students were relocated to St. Patrick’s College, Asaba. Muoboghare said that the relocation was to enable them to participate in the ongoing Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination. He added that affected primary six pupils had been relocated to Asagba Primary School, Asaba, for the First School Leaving Certificate Examination. The commissioner said that the measures were to ensure that the children and their parents did not suffer unduly “following the unwholesome action of the school proprietors. “The relocation was also in response to pleas by parents whose children attended the shut school.’’ The administration closed the Lumen Christi in February, over alleged fraudulent registration. According to the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, the school management “tricked” it into approving the school ``with fake details.’’ Muoboghareexplained that the relocation of the SSS111 and primary six pupils was done for the sake of the children and their parents. “We cannot allow the final year children to suffer because of the actions of the owners of their school. “It is for their sake that we decided to take them to our own school so that they can sit for their final examinations.’’ (NAN)

Sambo said there were over 9.5 million almajiris in the country who were not participating in the basic school education system. He said that such children had the right to education like other Nigerians. “A country must have well educated population to realise its development potentials. “Islam is against the exploitation of the weak and does not allow for begging as a means

of livelihood.’’ In his remarks, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar III, promised that traditional leaders would support government’s policies aimed at ensuring peace and unity. He urged traditional and religious leaders to always preach the lesson and importance of peaceful coexistence and unity of the nation. Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State, urged Muslims to

live in peace with one another and respect other people’s faith for peace to reign in the country. Fourteen cars, 34 Keke NAPEP, 14 motorcycles, computers, digital Qurans and freezers, were among the items distributed to winners of various categories who participated in the competition. Goni Mujitapha Muhammad from Katsina State was the overall winner, while Badiatu Abubakar from Bauchi, emerged overall

winner from the female category. Some dignitaries who attended the occasion included the Emirs of Kano, Katsina, Daura and Zamfara. The deputy governor of Zamfara, representatives of the governors of Kano, Kaduna, Gombe and Bauchi were also in attendance. The 27 th National Quranic Recitation Competition will be hosted by Zamfara State government in 2013. (NAN)

L: R: Chairman of the Zamfara state Primary Schools Verification and Assessment Exercise Committee, Professor Tukur Adamu, Head of Tsafe Team Group, Dr Yusuf Adamu, and member of the Talata Mafara Zone, Yusuf A Dingyadi, during the committee's meeting on the progress of their exercise, recently in Gusau.

Education: greatest legacy parents can bequeath their children - Kogi CJ J ustice Nasiru Ajanah, the Chief Judge of Kogi, has called on parents to give quality education to their children. He said that education was the best legacy parents could bequeath to their children. Ajanah made the call on Saturday in Okene at the 8th day Fidau prayer for the repose of the soul of his mother, Hajiya Sa’adatu Ajanah, who died on March 31, after a brief illness. He urged parents to ensure that their children were properly educated in order for them to be useful to themselves, their family and the nation. Ajanah said his mother, who died at the age of 74, lived a fulfilled life, adding that she gave her children sound moral and spiritual upbringing and the fear of God. The Chief Imam of Ebiraland, Sheikh Musa Galadima, led the congregational Fidau prayers. Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, the immediate past governor of Kogi, who also graced the occasion, told

newsmen that he was there to commiserate with the Ajanah family. Idris used the occasion to thank the people of the Central Senatorial District for the support they gave to him during his eight years and eight months stint as governor. The Ohinoyi of Ebira, Alhaji Ado Ibrahim, who also paid a condolence visit on the Ajanah family, extolled the virtuous life of the late Hajiya Sa’adatu and

urged the family to uphold her religious and upright disposition. The state governor, Capt. Idris Wada, represented by his deputy, Mr Yomi Awoniyi, had earlier paid a condolence visit to the Chief Judge. In his speech during the visit, Wada urged parents to bring up their children in the fear of God. He cautioned parents not to relinquish the responsibility of training their children to teachers and house-helps as

children spent more time at home than in school. The governor extolled the legacies of Mama Sa’adatu, saying that she lived a ‘worthy and inspiring’ life. Other dignitaries who attended the Fidau prayer included the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), top government functionaries and some members of the Bar and Bench. (NAN)

FCE Yola gets new Provost From Blessing Tunoh, Yola


resident Goodluck Jonathan has approved the appointment of Professor Abdulmumini Saad as the new Provost of the Federal College of Education (FCE) Yola. Saad who until his appointment was a lecturer at the University of Maiduguri replaces Dr. Aminu Chiroma

who has just completed a twoterm tenure of eight years. Our correspondent learnt that Saad emergence followed several stages of screening during which seven persons were shortlisted after which three were later recommended to the President through the office of the education minister and Saad was picked. A statement signed by the

Minister of Education Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai indicates that the appointment which is for a term of four years in the first instance takes effect from 21st March 2012. The college which comprises six academic schools and three directorates recently matriculated 1900 students into the NCE programme for the 2011/2012 session.



Shema approves release of N131m for payment of students’ scholarship


ov. Ibrahim Shema of Katsina state has approved the immediate release of N131 million for the payment of students scholarship for the 2010/2011 academic session. The approval is contained in a statement signed by Alhaji Abdulhamid Danjuma, Special Assistant to the Governor on Press Affairs, in Katsina on Thursday. Danjuma said that 9,612 indigenous students, studying in various institutions of higher learning across the country, would benefit from the scholarship. He said that the gesture underscored the importance Shema’s administration attached to the educational development of the state. He reiterated the determination of the administration to give financial assistance to students of the state

Foundation donates N10m to aid Jukun students


avid Sabo Kente Foundation has donated N10 million for the revival of Ajikwen Education Trust Fund to enable it to render financial assistance to students of Jukun descent. The Chairman of the foundation, Chief David Kente, announced the donation in Wukari, Taraba, on Saturday during the Jukun Youth Cultural Day celebration. Kente, who was the chairman of the occasion, said education was the “live wire” of every modern society and needed to be supported by all well-meaning citizens. He advised other Jukun people to “give up fighting wars” in order to attract foreign investments to enhance economic development in the area. “The Kwararafa kingdom cannot continue military campaigns and capturing of kingdoms to pay tribute to it as our forefathers did. “We have to change our priorities in order to cope with the challenges of the current world which is a global village,” he said. Earlier, Mr Wunuken Ali, the President of Jukun Youth Cultural and Development Association, said it was time to intensify contact with Jukun descendants “spread across 26 states’’ of the country to ensure unity of purpose. In his remarks, Alhaji Tanko Yankassai, commended Jukun people for preserving their culture. Yankassai said that Kwararafa Kingdom was among others in Nigeria with very good values that spread all over the country. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the people were dressed in Jukun traditional attires on the occasion. (NAN)

origin to alleviate their financial difficulties. Danjuma also said that the

administration would not change its promise to pay school fees for pupils and students in all public

owned schools in the state. He urged parents and guardians to reciprocate the

gesture by giving moral support to their children and wards to excel in their academic pursuits. (NAN)

L-R: Professor Benedict Ify Nnoduna submitting the report of her team’s findings to Delta State University and Federal University of Petroleum Resources, to Professor Awuzie Ukachukwu Asuu president who stood in for Chairman Needs Assessment committee of Nigerian Public Universities While the committee Secretary, Mr. Femi Melefa looks on, recently, in Abuja. Photo: Mahmud Isa

Education, panacea to Nigeria’s security challenges – Senate Leader


he Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, says education is the only solution to the persistent security challenges facing the country. Ndoma-Egba, who said this in Calabar on Friday during his Scholarship Awards’ ceremony, said that with good education, the Nigerian society would be safe for everyone to live in. “Today, we have the Boko Haram and other forms of security challenges facing the country. We can only address the problem of insecurity when we educate the people. “The only time we can feel safe in our society is when everyone is educated,’’ he said. Ndoma-Egba said that he instituted the scholarship scheme so as to assist the youth

in Cross River Central Senatorial District in their quest to achieve their life ambition. He, nonetheless, stressed the need for the beneficiaries to make maximum use of the scholarship awards by studying hard, pledging to assist them to secure employment after their education. Ndoma-Egba, however, said that the selection of the beneficiaries was not hinged on any political considerations, adding: “The beneficiaries were chosen purely on merit.’’ In his speech, Prof. Offiong Offiong, the Commissioner for Education, said that NdomaEgba’s scholarship scheme was complementary to the state government’s human capacity development programme. The commissioner, who was

represented by Ebri Eteng, the Executive Secretary, Cross River State Scholarship Board, said that such partnership was desirable in efforts to fast-track the state’s development. “This Public-Private Partnership will reduce financial burden on parents and students. It will also help in stimulating the spirit of healthy competition among our youths in the quest for academic excellence,’’ he said. Offiong called on other personalities to emulate the gesture of Ndoma-Egba by assisting the less-privileged members of the society. Earlier, Dr Margaret NdomaEgba, the Chairperson of NdomaEgba Scholarship Foundation, said that 30 undergraduates and

12 post-graduate students benefited from the scholarship scheme annually since 2008 when the Foundation was established. She said that five students were selected from each of the six local governments areas of the senatorial district for the undergraduate category, while two were selected from each of the council areas for the postgraduate group. “So since 2008, Sen. NdomaEgba has sponsored the education of 270 undergraduates and 48 post graduate students from Cross River Central Senatorial District in tertiary institutions across the country. “A total of 318 students have so far benefited from the scheme,’’ she said. (NAN)

Ebonyi govt to merge own varsity campuses


he Ebonyi government said it would merge the three campuses of the state-owned university into one. The university currently operates a three-campus system with two situated in Abakaliki and the other at Ezzamgbo. Mr. Chike Onwe, Commissioner for Information and Orientation, disclosed this on Thursday in Abakaliki, while briefing newsmen on the outcome of this week’s State Executive Council meeting. Onwe said the Ezzamgbo campus would now serve as the permanent site of the university. “The state Ministry of Lands,

Survey and Housing has been mandated to liaise with the university authority to ascertain the actual boundaries of the land at the campus. “This measure is to enable the government to commence the process of developing the campus, after which the merger would be effected. “The process will, however, be gradual in order not to cause distortions which will hamper the smooth operation of the institution.” The Commissioner said the council also expressed dissatisfaction at the poor representation of Ebonyi indigenes

in federal establishments. “Council noted that most of the state’s chances at the federal level were traded by those who have the opportunity of getting them. “Council also frowned at the issuance of identification letters to non-indigenes by some traditional rulers and local government chairmen. “Henceforth, such practice would not be condoned as appropriate punitive measures would be meted to culprits to serve as deterrent to others.” According to him, government has directed that a data bank of all unemployed

youths in the state should be developed. “The Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development has been mandated to open 26 registers, two for each of the 13 Local Government Areas of the state. “One of the registers would take care of those with Ordinary Level certificates while the other would be for all graduates in the areas. “The registers would be reviewed on weekly basis by the Governor to enable him to respond speedily in cases of opportunities for the state indigenes at the federal level.’’ (NAN)



Wellness ‘Good health, major index for productivity’ with Charity Omenka

By A’isha Biola Raji


resource person Prof. Victor Akpan, has advised on the need to improve on quality health as key to efficient output of any nation. Prof. Akpan said this while giving a lecture on ‘Quality of Health and the Environment’ as part of events organised by International Federation on Ageing Nigerians (IFAN), which held in Abuja to celebrate World Health Day. He said good health encompassed sound mind, quality food, which he called household security and avoidance of contaminated food items like getting live-stock contaminated at the point of slaughter. According to him, there are existing laws that provide for hygienic condition of both food

and meat in the market for safe consumption. Akpan said tobacco was one major habit that endangers the lives of youths. He said there is increase in the consumption of tobacco since the industries are actively involved in sponsorship of programmes thereby marketing death. In his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Senator Ben Obi, said the importance of good health could not be over emphasised hence the holistic approach on how to achieve good health for aged and the youths. “Good health adds to years of life,” he said. In an attempt to drive their point home, the organization also took part in Life Walk on Saturday at the old parade ground with the presence of house parliamentarians and other

health stakeholders. The chairman, House Committee on Donor Agencies Honourable Eseme Eyiboh enumerated the advantages of doing exercise both by the young and the old in the society. He said the need to remain healthy could not be overemphasized as health is wealth. “I play ball with my son every Weekend and I swim four days in a week to remain strong and healthy. “The outcome is a life of fulfillment,” he confirmed. In her remarks, Dr Phillipa Momah Rtd Director Federal Ministry of Health advised Nigerians to imbibe the culture spelt out in ABCDE which are Aat peace with God B- behavior that improve health C- capacity for care which involve taking charge D- good diet and E- exercise for good life.

Pharmacist Benjamin Amodu, middle, receiving certificate for his breakthrough in herbal medicine from President, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Comrade Adakole Ochai, as other members of NANS exco watch them.

Give herbal medicine its rightful place in society-Pharmacist Amodu By A’isha Biola Raji


Nigerian pharmacist has re-emphasised that until relevant organs and agencies in the country recognise and give credit to breakthroughs recorded by Nigerians especially in the area of herbal medicine, Nigerians would continue to die from consumption of substandard drugs from countries like China and India. He spoke against the backdrop of his recognition by the world Health organization (WHO), for his discovery of the poly-herbal anti malaria vaccine, SAAB MAL, but yet to be given his rightful place by the agencies charged with registering drugs in the country. Amodu spoke to journalists in Abuja over the week when the executive council of the National

Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) honoured him for his outstanding feat in the area of Phyla medicine. According to Amodu who is also a trained lawyer and is presently, the director of procurement at the ministry of defence, “Our policy on herbal medicine just got developed about two or three years ago. The minister has made a statement that it would be incorporated into the normal health system but up till now it was a mere statement. No circular to that effect has come out to government departments. Imagine since I came back from the United Nations (UN) in Ethiopia, for the discovery on anti malaria where WHO invited me, nobody has even called me for any talks” The pharmacist, whose house and office in Abuja have become

a Mecca of sorts for people with varying ailments such as tuberculosis, diabetes and others, believes that if wholly harnessed, his fertility drug can solve the problem of infertility and dysfunctional erection in men. He is also reputed to have developed a cream for the killer prostrate disease that has sent many to their early graves. Presently, he has in his research, the following drugs; SAAB supplement (300mg) which boost the immune system and fights various diseases, DAABS supplement (300mg), used for the control of diabetes, corrects libido, eye sight and palpitation, the other is HAAPS supplement (500mg) which is required for the control of high blood pressure, cholesterol and also palpitation. When these three are used together, he said, gives good health.

Eliminate bad breath this Easter


he embarrassing bit about having bad breath is that many times, you don’t know you have it. You only begin to realize when people take cover whenever you open your mouth, and that is if you are sensitive. People have lost business and career advancement opportunities, not to mention relationships. However, the most important reason to maintain a clean breath is for good health. Bad breath is mostly caused by a build-up of bacteria in the mouth and throat, as well as dryness of the throat. This dryness is the reason for bad breath in people who are fasting. Also, there is a small part of bad breath that is largely inevitable, the morning one, because when you sleep, there is a slowing down of the saliva flow that washes away food particles from the mouth and lubricates the throat. There is now a way to decrease even this small part to the barest minimum. But that is discussion for another time. However, there are some medical conditions that cause bad breath. Those related to dental conditions include cavities or gum disease, tonsillitis and cracked fillings. Others include worm infestation, diabetes, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, chronic bronchitis, acid reflux, postnasal drip and chronic dry mouth. So if you find that good oral hygiene isn’t clearing your breath, you might want to see your doctor. The following ways will help you avoid a bad breath in general: Brush your teeth and scrape your tongue each time you awake from sleep. The surface of your tongue accumulates an incredible amount of foul-smelling bacteria throughout each day, and especially when you sleep. Brush your teeth, taking care to scrape your tongue, every time you awake from sleep. Tongue scrapers are now available in some pharmacies and supermarkets Additionally, brushing with baking soda or rinsing with a solution of baking soda and water will help to level out the pH balance in your mouth making it harder for bacteria to accumulate. Doing this before going to bed will help you control morning breath. Be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly baking soda use. Baking soda also helps to remove stains on your teeth BUT it is corrosive on your teeth so AVOID overuse as it can

cause the teeth to chip. A couple of times a week is sufficient Drink lots of water, and avoid eating for at least 30 minutes after you awake. This further cleanses your mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach, which is extremely important for fresh breath. Drink plenty of fresh water every day, but try to avoid drinking water too close to meal times, as it can reduce your capacity to digest your meal. A well-hydrated system increases the efficiency of the body’s cleansing processes and keeps bad breath at bay. Watch your diet. Foods like garlic, onions, sugary foods, meats, fish, poultry, and eggs affect our breath negatively. Garlic is notorious for causing bad breath and body odor. Fresh fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, help to cleanse your entire system, and the result is improved breath. Leafy green vegetables are especially good in assisting the body maintain fresh breath. If you can, snack on raw carrots, apples and cabbage. These watery vegetables help to clear the mouth of debris. Thoroughly rinse your mouth and gargle with water after every meal. This practice will rid the mouth of bacteria buildup, and in turn prevent bad breath. Keep running your tongue along your teeth surfaces throughout the day. If your tongue feels any plaque buildup, then it’s time to brush again. Chewing gum and mouthwash are inadequate in dealing with bad breath. This is because they do not get to the root of the matter. They can augment good oral hygiene but should not be used to remedy an already bad breath. Also, leafy green vegetables, lemons, and limes, when available, are much better for freshening the breath during the day. Always remember to rinse thoroughly with water each time something other than water is eaten or used to clean the mouth. Eat rough food to clean the back of your throat. Bread, guava, ‘eba’, garden egg and other rough food helps to clean the back of the throat. Then, again, drink water afterwards. See a dentist, at least one to two times a year. As with other diseases, dental problems can be managed if detected early. Many oral and dental conditions are linked to bad breath.



Polio eradication, the battle continues By A’isha Biola Raji


n its resolve to eradicate the scourge, (Wild Polio Virus) in Nigeria, federal government has no doubt redeemed the pledge it made to back National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) in the just concluded Immunization Plus Days (IPDs). It was with no doubt a combined effort of not just the stakeholders but all the people that matter in decision making in all strata of the society. Bauchi being one of the highly polio prevalent states enjoyed this partnership as traditional rulers, politicians and other stakeholders all joined hands in an effort to see to the much anticipated success of eradicating polio. The success of this month IPDs in Bauchi however owe to the ‘task force’ put in place by President Goodluck Jonathan with its replica in all states of the federation. It will be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan recently inaugurated a Presidential Taskforce on Polio eradication in Nigeria, under the Chairmanship of Minister of State for health, Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate. In Bauchi however, the task force interestingly comprises of all the people that matter in decision making among the various groups of people living in the state; Traditional leaders (Emirs and District Heads), religion leaders, (Imams and Pastors) and top and upcoming politicians. This could be seen in the recent effort made by the famous Muslim scholar recognized throughout West Africa Region Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi. The Sheik while speaking at the Polio Torch-Free Campaign held at the state house Bauchi organized by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency called on all Muslims to ensure that their children are vaccinated against poliomyelitis. This in no doubt influenced the compliance of parents as they willingly provided their wards for immunization based on the health benefit mentioned by the Sheik saying “polio is a curable disease.” According to him, it is for these reasons that “I am urging all and sundry to please allow the vaccinators access to their houses so as to vaccinate their children against poliomyelitis”. He recalled with great delight, past efforts by the World Health Organization (WHO) in eradicating similar diseases, hitherto believed to be incurable. Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi disclosed that Nigeria being one of the countries still battling with polio required the support of all patriotic citizens to make the country polio free. Speaking earlier at the Polio Torch-Free campaign, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate emphasized the commitment of Federal Government to do all humanly possible to ensure mass vaccination of all under -five children throughout the country.

Special team for the 2012 Immunization Plus Day, administering Oral Polio vaccine (OPV) to a child, at Tudun Wada South, recently, in Niger state. Photo: Mahmud Isa Dr. Pate expressed optimism that with the high level commitment of political leaders at Federal and State levels, members of the Northern Traditional Leaders’ Forum, religious leaders and other stakeholders, Nigeria would soon exit from polio endemic countries. Another point of interest during the month’s IPDs in Bauchi is the commitment of the state’s Primary Health Care (PHC) to convince parents in making their wards available for vaccination; there was the actual ‘plus’, a sachet of detergent was given to every child after immunization. The detergent initiative tagged the ‘Immunization Plus was geared towards ‘hand washing campaign’ the state had. From what was gathered by our reporter, the incentive went a long way in convincing people that government actually means well and it is only concerned with the well being of their children. This commitment was also reflected in the attitude of the health workers especially the vaccinators. At Dan Iya ward in Bauchi local government, vaccinators were ready as early as required with their micro plan which was intended for easy access to various nook and crannies of the ward. Most of the vaccinators were women who from the look on their faces, there was background knowledge, zeal and readiness to exit polio. Mallama Maryam Musa, a vaccinator covering Zango area of Bauchi local area recalled how Day-1 of the program went smoothly with no hitches whatsoever. “We were welcomed at each house especially when

parents realized we had gift of detergent for their children after they had been immunized,” Maryam told our reporter. Mallama Saudatu covering Ansat area also in Bauchi area however recalled how they ran out of vaccine at early hours of the first day due to the rate of acceptance. She said, “before now, a lot of people were rejecting the vaccine but now we have only a few rejecting.” When asked on what could be the reason for the change in acceptance level Saudatu replied, “it is due to the detergent incentive and involvement of top religion leaders. “ People are happy to collect this sachet of detergent especially coming from the government.” Our reporter went further to clear the rumour that ‘vaccinators pour the vaccines away when they get tired or when a lot of them are rejected’. The vaccinators unanimously answered, “pouring vaccines away might cause havoc to people so we dare not think about it.” They further supported their stand on the fact that they were trained and are paid promptly hence no reason to indulge in cruel act of disposing vaccines meant to take care of innocent children. Though they will do with increment in their allowance, this is due to increase in prices of commodities. “We want increment in the amount we are being given, we are only being helpful. Especially with the changes in prices but if there is no increment, we will still do it for the sake of our children,” they said. On the day2 of the

immunization process which was on Sunday, churches were targeted with success recorded at Living Faith, COCIN and ECWA which had initially recorded low level of compliance. This success was with no doubt in association with the involvement of Bauchi state President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Reverend Yahaya Madawaki who is the secretary Immunisation Task Force Bauchi Local Government Area. Despite all the success recorded, there are still rooms for improvement which are in the area of cold chain storage which delayed daily implementation in some wards as vaccinators could not work with melted ice pack and the issue of non compliance in few households which is expected to be at zero level for Nigeria to exit polio scourge. Concerning the most topical issue of non compliance, Alhaji Nuru Adamu Jumba the Ciroma of Bauchi, District Head of Bauchi also the Chairman Taskforce on Immunisation Bauchi Local Government Area of Bauchi state in an interview with our reporter said the effective approach outlined for solving the issue of non compliance is dialogue. The dialogue according to him will be at grassroots level where Heads of all the households concerned will be involved in a chat that will enlighten them on the danger of non compliance and the advantage of being immunized, as an unimmunized child poses danger to the immunized ones. He said, “at the moment, there is no law in Bauchi state which empowers anybody to take punitive measure against those

that refuse to present their children for immunization.” According to him, another challenge the state is facing is in the area of recruitment of vaccinator, “when the campaign is over, we will review all the systems we have used, we want to make sure in the next IPD, all vaccinator come within the localities with attachment of ward Head to each of the team. “If local people are employed to administer the vaccine, there will be understanding between the households and vaccinators,” he said. Funding he said is no more the problem as local governments and other partners such as WHO and UNICEF contributed handsomely for the IPD. Also in interview with the care taker Chairman Bauchi local government, Lawal Baba Maji Abubakar, who said with the effort of ministry of local government affairs and all other stakeholders, they had been able to contribute in the area of logistics. On the issue of non compliance and on what penalty should be given, he said the flexibility of Nigerian constitution does not provide for any enforcement move. The constitution he said gives right of option to any personal issue therefore denying government enforcement on non compliance. “Government will rather improve on the area of public enlightenment,” he said. In conclusion, Bauchi state is resolved to kicking polio out by taking stock of what went well and what did not during the just concluded IPDs and improving on them.




ack in the last Century, when Bill Clinton was running for re-election in the "permanent campaign" he, with the advice of the smarmy Dick Morris, chose to co-opt Republican positions to pre-empt their using them against him. It was called "triangulation" but also disguised a clear strategic shift to the right that has now surfaced in the Obama campaign. It appears that Team Obama does not take the concerns or values of its liberal support base seriously. They think they can be mesmerised by selective symbolic stands and they have nowhere else to go. The Black Community has pledged itself to his re-election despite criticisms by black leaders who privately feel abandoned by him. Robert Scheer, who edits Truthdig, says liberals will have to embrace Obama by "default". "The Republicans are a sick joke and their narrow ideological stupidity has left rational voters no choice in the coming presidential election but Barack Obama," he writes. He also recognises that Obama has now "backed Republican initiatives", calling the president the "moderate" choice in the coming election, "defending centrist programmes that Republicans in the past helped originate". Van Jones, who Obama appointed to a job advocating green energy solutions until attacks by the right led to his dumping him, calls his former boss a "post-hope" candidate. He said in an interview on MSNBC: We went from 'hopey' to mopey‌ I saw the misfires: how the White House didn't really understand the grassroots movement; the grassroots movement certainly didn't understand the grassroots movement‌and there was this 'hope' bubble that collapsed, (With) both sides not understanding each other. For years now, the president, in what some analysts say is a deeply engrained fear/reaction to a total assault by Fox News, has sought to keep the messengers of patriotically correct banalities off guard with a slew of hawkish/ hardline foreign policy initiatives. He escalated the two big wars he inherited with "surges" in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as drone offensive associated with continuing collateral damage, i.e, civilian deaths. He turned General Petraus from his counterinsurgency specialist into a hero spymaster and gave him more and more power, perhaps to prevent his running against him. He turned the covert-action Seals units into a Presidential-sanctioned assassination squad and, then, practically went steady with the Pentagon. The flag pin he avoided as a candidate is now a staple of his "uniform". You can understand why: he can't really run on domestic issues.His economic policies have failed to create jobs or a recovery because he banked on the banks. Despite all the Republican banter about his alleged socialism, he's given the capitalists just about everything they want, including


Obama turns super-hawk

Stealing George W Bush's playbook, Obama has decided to repackage himself as a tough guy in the war against terror. the new JOBS bill that will erode financial reform rules and open the door to more fraud. His Justice Department has not waged a jihad to put financial criminals in jail. They've settled complaints with major mortgage fraudsters paying fines instead being locked up. His "so-called" Obamacare is a law embraced by the healthcare industry which will profit from it. Advocates of Medicare for All were stabbed in the back early on in the process. So, now the president, who aroused so many hopes for a more just America, has abandoned most

act. Many of the harsh sanctions he imposed on that country can be considered acts of war, (like many sanctions, they hurt the people, not just their government!) All of a sudden, war talk is surfacing to take our minds off the economic collapse, and Obama will soon show us the electorate how tough he is by going after Iran even as the right and the Israelis portray him as a softee on the Ayatollahs. He claims to support negotiations, but his conditions demanding Iran shut down its nuclear enrichment facility first


All of a sudden, war talk is surfacing to take our minds off the economic collapse, and Obama will soon show us the electorate how tough he is by going after Iran even as the right and the Israelis portray him as a softee on the Ayatollahs. of his promises from shutting down Guantanamo to prosecuting Bradley Manning. He has decided to be born again as a hawk in sheep's clothing. Stealing George W Bush's playbook, he has decided to repackage himself as a tough guy in the war against terror after signing the new NDAA law in the middle of the night. His criticisms of Israel's rhetoric about bombing Iran is to caution them against being too hasty, promising that he has their "back" and that the US would

is an inflexible demand that they know the Iranians will consider an ultimatum, and have to reject, setting up a scenario for a war of aggression. "That negotiating position will be the opening move (emphasis mine) in what President Obama has called Iran's "last chance" to resolve its nuclear confrontation with the United Nations and the West diplomatically," reports the New York Times. "The hard-line approach would require the country's

military leadership to give up the Fordo enrichment plant outside the holy city of Qum, and with it a huge investment in the one facility that is most hardened against air-strikes." He's also stepped up the use of global drone warfare with one report suggesting drones may soon go nuclear. More telling now that what's been covert is becoming more overt, as the New York Times reports with the headline, "Obama Embraces National Security as Campaign Issue": With a Republican opponent all but chosen and the general election campaign about to start, President Obama is preparing to emphasise an issue that few Democratic candidates have embraced in the past: national security, long the domain of the Republican Party. At the same time, the Obama campaign is seeking to portray Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee, as a national security neophyte whose best ideas are simply retreads of what the president is already doing, and whose worst instincts would take the country back to the days of President George W Bush: cowboy diplomacy, the Iraq war and America's lowest standing on the international stage. In the coming weeks, Obama advisers plan to release a list of national security "surrogates" - highprofile Democrats like former Secretary of State Madeleine K Albright and Wesley K Clark, a retired general - who will write newspaper op-ed articles, give speeches and take Mr Romney to task every time he opens his mouth about foreign policy, Obama advisers said. The plan is to draw a contrast between Mr Obama - who, his advisers say, kept his word on ending the Iraq war, going

aggressively after al-Qaeda and restoring alliances around the world - and Mr Romney, who will be portrayed as playing both sides of numerous issues. "He was for and against the removal of Gaddafi, for and against setting a timetable to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan, for and against enforcing trade laws against China, and while he once said he would not move heaven and earth to get Osama bin Laden, he later claimed that any president would have authorised the mission to do so," said Ben LaBolt, press secretary for the Obama campaign. He's planning to do to Romney what McCain's marauders tried to do to him by playing the war card. And the media keeps carrying stories urging him to be even tougher. Two examples: AP - The brother of a US soldier who was among three central Ohioans killed in an Afghan suicide bombing says Americans shouldn't forget "we are a nation at war". Fox News is running the latest sermon on the mount by convicted Iran contra conspirator Colonel North who writes, "According to Matthew's Gospel, Judas Iscariot sold out Jesus of Nazareth for 30 pieces of silver. What is Barack Obama's fee for selling out Christians and Israelis?" All of this sniping is unlikely to lead the president to pick a fight with the right even if a recent poll showed 69 per cent of all Americans want the US out of Afghanistan. The criticisms are just likely to encourage him to move further right to show his mettle and a posture that says he's ready to fight as a commander and chief who won't back down. Haven't we heard all this before? Culled from Aljazeera.



Egypt’s former spy chief joins presidential race T

Media reports on April 6, 2012 reported that Suleiman, who was former president Hosni Mubarak"s intelligence chief and vice president, announced he will run for presidency.

he intelligence chief of Egypt's deposed leader Hosni Mubarak formally joined the race for the presidency on Sunday, a last-minute entrance that raises the heat in a contest pitting former regime figures against newlyassertive Islamists. Omar Suleiman announced he planned to run on Friday, saying overwhelming public pressure had stirred his sense of soldierly duty. He had needed to collect the signatures of 30,000 eligible voters by Sunday's deadline in order to take part. Ecstatic supporters cheered behind lines of military police as Suleiman arrived at the office of the state election committee in Cairo. He then handed in his candidacy documents, state news agency MENA reported, citing a committee official. Committee General Secretary Hatem Bagato "acknowledged that the papers included certified backing from citizens above the minimum required, which is at least 30,000," the agency said. Suleiman, who Mubarak made vice president in the dying days of his three-decade rule, symbolises that era's tough security regime, making him a figure of hate to the young liberals who spearheaded Mubarak's overthrow last year but a possible draw for some Egyptians hoping for an end to political instability. Supporters of the urbane, secretive 74-year-old jostled with

the security forces protecting the building, causing some injuries and the main entrance was briefly closed. Late additions to the candidate line-up and efforts to exclude some frontrunners from the job have shaken up Egypt's first free presidential vote due to be held in May and June. Suleiman's arrival on the scene comes shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement long suppressed by his former boss, scrapped a pledge not to field a candidate and nominated its deputy leader Khairat al-Shater for head of state. The move has fuelled concern among liberals and many in Egypt's large Coptic Christian minority that the Brotherhood wants to monopolise the main institutions of state to push through a conservative Islamic agenda. Another candidate, ultraconservative Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, is fighting attempts to bar him from the vote because of documents suggesting his mother held foreign nationality. More than 21 candidates had submitted their registration papers by Sunday including Abu Ismail, former foreign minister and Arab League chief Amr Moussa and Mohamed Morsi, named this weekend as the alternative Brotherhood candidate in case Shater is forced to withdraw, the vote commission website said.

Liberation of Azwad (MNLA). But Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum echoed international rejection of the group's claim for independence as "absurd and unacceptable". "We need to work to redress the balance of forces on the ground before we can talk about

negotiations," Bazoum said at the opening of the meeting in Mauritania's capital, Nouakchott. "We need to organise a confrontation with the terrorist groups ... Mali's north must be cleared of terrorism and it seems to me we have the ideal opportunity," he said.

West Africa's ECOWAS group had been mulling an intervention to prevent any further rebel push until the coup meant restoring civilian rule became the regional bloc's priority. The junta pledged on Saturday to leave power within days, paving the way for the possibility for an

taken place, late on Saturday night. "I am leaving for Mali with my heart full of hope. My country has known enormous difficulties, but I am leaving with the hope the people of Mali will come together to face this adversity head on," Traore told reporters before he boarded the plane for Bamako, the Malian capital. The deal, hailed by the African Union, also includes the lifting of sanctions clamped by ECOWAS on Mali and an amnesty for those involved in the coup. The embargo included the closing of all borders of ECOWAS states with Mali except for humanitarian reasons, closing to Mali access to ECOWAS ports, and the freezing of Malian bank accounts. Alassane Ouattara, the president of the Ivory Coast who currently holds the rotating ECOWAS presidency, said the

sanctions should be lifted "immediately", Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Djibrill Bassole told public television station ORTM. Bassole has been acting as a mediator during the crisis. He also said President Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown on March 22 and has since not been seen in public, should be able to live where he wants under army protection. The five-page agreement provides a framework for a return to constitutional rule under the interim leader who will also handle the crisis in the north, where Islamists and Tuareg rebels have seized control. The deal did not give a timetable for Sanogo to step down, but said the 15-state ECOWAS regional grouping would immediately prepare the end of tough sanctions including the closure of trade borders to the landlocked country.

intervention but it remains unclear when boots could be put on the ground. Bazoum said Niger, Mauritania and Algeria, as Mali's closest partners in the north, should engage in diplomacy but be ready to intervene militarily, if needed. Algeria, the region's biggest power, took a different tack, saying talks were the only way out. France, colonial ruler over all the states at the table, has also pushed for dialogue with the separatist rebel movement. "The solution can only be a political one. It cannot be the result of a military effort which could instead worsen an already complex and precarious situation," Mohamed Messahel, Algeria's delegate minister for African affairs, said. Algeria's position in Mali has been further complicated by the kidnapping last week of its consul and six other staff from its mission in Gao, one of the northern towns seized by rebels. Algeria's El Watan newspaper reported on its website on Sunday that the diplomats had been freed, but Algerian officials in Nouakchott were unable to confirm that. Nearly a week after Malian government forces were completely routed across the north, it remains unclear which groups really control main towns or swathes of territory.

Algerian hostages in northern Mali released: report


even Algerian diplomats taken hostage in rebelheld northern Mali have been released, Algeria's El Watan newspaper reported on it website on Sunday, citing its correspondent in Mali. There was no immediate comment on the report from the Algerian authorities. The diplomats were abducted late last week from the town of Gao, part of a swathe of territory in northern Mali now under the control of Tuareg-led separatists. A spokesman for the separatists said an Islamist group with ties to the separatists was behind the abduction. The hostages include Algeria's consul in Gao and six consular staff, according to the Algerian foreign ministry.

Sahara states at odds over Mali rebels S

ahara Desert states differed yesterday over whether to crush or talk to the rebels who have seized northern Mali - a mix of Tuareg separatists and Islamists with links to al Qaeda. At a meeting of regional countries in Mauritania, Niger said the rebels' gains should be reversed before any talks, but Algeria warned that military intervention risked further complicating the situation. The rebels, bolstered by guns and fighters from Libya's war last year, routed Malian troops, in disarray after a March 22 coup, to carve out a zone the size of France and declare an independent state of "Azawad". Mali's government had long had a weak hold over its northern zone, but its neighbours now fear a void that will exacerbate regional instability, terrorism and smuggling. Mauritania, Algeria, Niger and Mali had set up a joint military command headquarters before the lightning rebel push, although it had struggled to coordinate efforts against what they see as an Islamist threat in the Sahara. Niger, which has suffered its own sporadic Tuareg rebellions, said there could be discussion of some of the demands of the separatist National Movement for the

…Junta says power transfer ‘within days’


he leaders of Mali's coup and neighbouring countries have reached a deal under which the two-week-old military junta will hand over power in return for the end of trade and diplomatic sanctions. Mali's military junta and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc announced the deal on Malian state television late on Friday. Under the plan, signed by mediators and junta leader Captain Amadou Sanogo, the military government will hand over power to parliament speaker Diouncounda Traore who will be sworn in as interim president with a mission to organise elections. Sanogo said the new prime minister and a national unity government will be put in place "in the next few days". Traore arrived from neighbouring Burkina Faso, where he had been when the coup had



Western powers ‘to set Iran nuclear demands’


he US and other Western nations are planning to demand that Iran immediately close and ultimately dismantle a recently completed nuclear facility deep under a mountain as part of new talks with Iran over its nuclear programme, the New York Times has reported. The Obama administration and its European allies will also call for a halt in the production of higher-level enrichment of uranium fuel, and the shipment of existing stockpiles of that fuel out of Iran, the US-based newspaper said on Sunday, citing US and European diplomats. The diplomats said they could not imagine any agreement that left Iran with a stockpile of fuel, enriched to 20 per cent purity, that could be converted to the grade needed to make an atomic bomb in a matter of months. "We have no idea how the

Iranians will react," a senior Obama administration official told the newspaper. "We probably won't know after the first meeting." The opening talks have been tentatively set for Friday. In January, major powers signalled willingness to reopen the talks about curbing Iran's suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons but said Tehran must show it was serious about negotiations. Iran says its nuclear programme is aimed solely at generating power. The US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany are the six powers involved in diplomacy aimed at resolving the long-running dispute over Iran's atomic plans. Russia and China recently joined the four Western powers in expressing "regret" over Iran's expansion of higher-grade enrichment, most of which is now taking place deep inside a

Merkel coalition ahead, first time in 2 years - poll


erman Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition has inched ahead of the main opposition parties for the first time in two years, a poll showed on Sunday - thanks to a surge in support for the maverick Pirate Party at the expense of the Social Democrats. An Emnid poll for Bild am Sonntag newspaper put Merkel's conservatives on 36 percent and their pro-business coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), unchanged at 4 percent. That puts the alliance short of a majority but just above the combined support for the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), who slipped one point to 26 percent, and their preferred partners, the Greens, unchanged at 13 percent. If the poll heralds a trend, it could improve Merkel's chances of returning to power with the FDP to


Iran's oil sales, and the Islamic republic, which threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz through which almost one-fifth of oil traded worldwide flows.

The US has gradually tightened sanctions on Tehran due to its failure to answer questions about its nuclear programme.

Opening talks about Iran's nuclear programme have been tentatively set for Friday

continue running Europe's biggest economy after federal elections in September 2013. "The reason was the strong performance of the Pirate Party," said Emnid in its analysis. The Pirates, who campaign for Internet freedom, were up one point at 10 percent, their highest level since October in the Emnid poll, having drawn support away from the SPD. The party, whose popularity has surged since it won seats in two recent regional assemblies, has a bearing on national politics as it alters the coalition arithmetic. Other recent polls have shown the two traditional centre-right and centre-left camps as being neck and neck. Although Merkel's conservatives have a lead of up to 10 points over the SPD, the FDP's weakness has cut her coalition options.

Peruvian miners trapped for three days

eruvian authorities have said that nine trapped miners are being supplied with sports drinks, soup and food while police, firefighters and other workers work to free them. Jose Saavedra, the police chief, in southern Peru's Ica region said the men have been trapped in a horizontal mining shaft, not very deep under the surface, that collapsed on Thursday. Rescue workers continued their efforts on Saturday morning to rescue the miners, already trapped underground for three days. Saavedra said that the bottled items are being pushed to the miners through a hose. He said the miners are behind debris about 20ft wide that collapsed when they set off an explosion to dislodge copper ore. National Police and Civil Defence experts from Yauca del Rosario in the northern province of

mountain near the holy city of Qom. The focus on diplomacy followed rising tensions between the West, which is seeking to cut

Ica, 565km north of capital Lima, were able to speak to the trapped miners to find out their physical and health conditions. Edgar Peralta, in charge of the rescue operation, said that considerable progress had been made by fire-fighters and miner colleagues throughout the morning in the rescue, although a new collapse complicated the mission. The miners were working on their own at a mine that reportedly shut down commercial operations in the early 1980s in a hamlet about 282km south of Lima. Artisan mining, which is often done without the security measures regulated by the government, have periodic accidents of this type in Peru. Last March three miners died trapped in a tunnel when working under unsupervised conditions at Jicamarca, east of Lima.

The body of William Allen, 31, was found outside this funeral home in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Friday morning

Rescue workers say that the trapped miners are in good health and are getting water and air through hoses



Indian and Pakistan leaders discuss peace


he leaders of India and Pakistan have held talks in New Delhi at the highestlevel meeting on each other's soil in seven years. Without giving details, Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, and Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistan president, said after a 40-minute meeting on Sunday that they discussed a wide range of issues during a "fruitful" meeting before sharing lunch. "Relations between India and Pakistan should become normal. That's our common desire," Singh said as the two men emerged from his residence in the Indian capital. Trade is one area of discussion that the two leaders may find fruitful as Pakistan moves to normalise trade ties by phasing out major restrictions on Indian imports by the end of the year. For his part, Zardari said: "We would like to have better relations with India. We have spoken on all topics that we could have spoken about and we are hoping to meet on Pakistani soil very soon."

During their meeting, Singh also told Zardari that it was "imperative to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice and prevent activities aimed against India from Pakistani soil'', according to Ranjan Mathai, the Indian foreign secretary. The two countries came to the brink of conflict most recently in 2001, and tensions again peaked after the 2008 Mumbai attacks during which 164 people died in carnage blamed on the Pakistani armed group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). A US bounty of $10m on the Pakistan-based Hafiz Saeed, accused of masterminding the attacks, has renewed calls for his arrest.. Zardari later left for to an important Sufi Muslim shrine in Ajmer, in Rajasthan state, to offer prayers, from where he was due to return to Islamabad, the Pakistan capital, in the evening. On his first visit to India as part of the 40-member delegation, Zardari's son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, stood behind the leaders at the media briefing.

North Korea readies rocket for launch N

orth Korea's long-range rocket, scheduled to put what it says is a satellite into orbit next week, has been installed on its launch platform, the country's space officials have said. Engineers said on Sunday that the satellite will orbit the earth and send back data for weather forecasts and crop surveys. Officials said they have moved all three stages of the rocket into position, vowing to push ahead with their plan in defiance of international warnings. The communist nation organised an unprecedented visit to Tongchang-ri space centre to show that the Unha-3 rocket is not a disguised ballistic missile, as claimed by the US and its allies, notably South Korea and Japan.

"To say this is a missile test is really nonsense," Jang Myong-Jin, head of the space centre, said. "This launch was planned long ago, on the occasion of the 100th birthday of (late) president Kim Il-Sung. We are not doing it for provocative purposes." For the first time, North Korea allowed some 50 foreign journalists to go to the new space centre built on the Cholsan peninsula, 50km from the Chinese border. The journalists were able to observe the rocket, painted in white with sky blue lettering, installed on a platform ahead of its scheduled launch sometime between April 12-16. The US, Japan, Britain and other nations have urged the isolated nation to cancel the launch, warning that firing the

long-range rocket would violate UN resolutions and North Korea's promise to refrain from engaging in nuclear and missile activity. North Korea maintains that the launch is meant to showcase its scientific achievement. Last month, Japan's Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka said Tokyo could shoot down a North Korean rocket if it entered Japanese airspace. It even deployed a land-based system of interceptor missiles in preparation for the planned rocket launch. China, North Korea's main foreign ally, has also expressed its concerns. US, Japan's closest ally, suspended food aid to the North saying Pyongyang had broken its promise to refrain from missile launches and cannot be trusted to deliver the aid to those who need it.

Syria wants ‘guarantees’ for troop pullout


yria's government appears to be pulling back from a United Nations peace plan, saying it wants "written guarantees" that opposition fighters will lay down arms before it implements a troop pullback agreed by President Bashar al-Assad, a demand refused by the main rebel group. Hours after the government's demand on Sunday, Colonel Riad alAsaad, the leader of the rebel Free Syria Army told the Associated Press news agency that his group did not recognise Assad's government and for that reason they would not give guarantees. Colonel Riad al-Asaad said that if the regime abided by UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan's six-point plan to end the violence, his group would cease fire. He said that the government should withdraw its forces to bases and remove checkpoints from the streets. Last week, Assad accepted the ceasefire agreement calling for government forces to withdraw from towns and villages by Tuesday, and for the government and opposition fighters to lay down their

arms by 6am local time on Thursday. But in a statement released on Sunday, foreign ministry spokesperson Jihad Makdissi said that earlier reports that Damascus would pull its troops from cities and their suburbs by Tuesday were "wrong", according to AP. Makdessi said that Annan had failed so far to submit to the Syrian government "written guarantees regarding the acceptance of armed terrorist groups to halt violence with all its forms and their readiness to lay down weapons". At the same time, Annan urged Syria's government to fully implement its commitment to the ceasefire, and he condemned "a surge in violence and atrocities" that is occurring there. Annan said in a statement on Sunday that the fighting is causing "alarming levels of casualties, refugees and displaced persons" and that it must stop. On Thursday, a UN presidential statement raised the possibility of "further steps'' if Syria did not implement the peace plan outlined by Annan, which Assad agreed to on March 25.

A boy flashes a victory sign during a demonstration against Syria"s President Bashar Al-Assad in Kafranbel, near Idlib April 6, 2012.

The US and its ally have urged North Korea to cancel the launch saying it violated international agreements

Pakistan army hopes miracle will save avalanche victims


akistan's military hoped for a miracle yesterday as rescue teams searched for 124 soldiers and 11 civilians buried by a Himalayan avalanche near the Indian border, with no sign of survivors

more 24 hours later. The avalanche engulfed a Pakistani army battalion headquarters near a glacier early on Saturday, leaving snow up to 80 feet (25 metres) deep over an area a kilometre wide.

Afghanistan and US sign ‘night raid’ deal


he Afghan government has reached a crucial deal with the US to take control of controversial night raids from American forces. During a meeting of his national security council yesterday, President Hamid Karzai approved a memorandum of understanding on "Afghanisation of special operations on Afghan soil," the president's office said in a statement. The document was signed on Sunday by General Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghan defence minister, and the US commander of NATO forces, General John Allen. "Today we are one step closer to the establishment of the US-Afghan

strategic partnership. Most importantly, today we are one step closer to our shared goal and vision of a secure and sovereign Afghanistan," Allen said at the deal's signing. Details were not immediately released, but the name of the memorandum suggests that it will apply to a range of quick-strike raids in villages, not just night-time operations. Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting from Kabul, said the agreement will give the lead of night raids to the Afghan forces. "NATO will tell you many of the raids are already led by Afghan forces, while maybe co-ordinated with foreign help," he said.

The victims are trapped in one of the most unforgiving environments on Earth, at an altitude of 15,000 feet (4,500 metres) near the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram mountain range. "Let's hope for a miracle," a military official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters. Helicopter rescue teams and troops on the ground with sniffer dogs were racing against time. "On Wednesday and Thursday we expect cloudy conditions and some snow fall as well which will make it difficult for any rescue operations to continue," said meteorologist Mohammed Hanif on state television. The area is also one of the world's most militarily tense frontiers, where the Indian and Pakistani armies have confronted each other over disputed territory for decades. Eleven civilian employees of the military were buried under the snow along with the soldiers of the 6 Northern Light Infantry Battalion, the military said in a statement.



Easy does it: Tea picker scales Romanian police world’s ricketiest ladder for baffled after mystery toilet appears as if £5-a-cup brew from nowhere


here’s a fine line between bravery and stupidity - as this astonishing picture of a tea leaf picker climbing the world’s wobbliest ladder shows. Tea-lover Liu Lin clearly has a head for heights after being pictured scaling the rickety ladder in a bid to pluck the very best ingredients for his renowned home-made brew. Mr Lin regularly scales the 60ft plum blossom tree in Shandong province, eastern China, using his custom built ladder. The patched-up wooden stepup might struggle to pass UK health and safety laws but has proved to be a reliable tool for the brave tea producer. Despite fast approaching pension age, the 60-year-old has no fear of the dizzying heights he climbs without any safety equipment. The tea blender believes the Ty-View tree blossom gives off a powerful, sweet aroma which Liu reserves for his best customers at £5 a pop.


omanian police officers have been left perplexed after a mystery portable toilet appeared overnight in the middle of a busy high street. Police investigators cannot explain the sudden appearance of the loo and currently have no leads to go on. Baffled motorists were forced to swerve around the grey and orange public inconvenience after it appeared overnight in the middle of a road in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca.

Police were called to the incident and checked to see if anyone was trapped inside the portable toilet, but left without moving the troublesome plastic container. A frustrated driver was forced to get out of his vehicle and move it himself after becoming fed up of having to avoid the lavatory. A police spokesman said: ‘No-one knows how it got there. ‘Whether it was put there for a joke or fell off the back of a truck. No-one has come forward to claim it.’

Don't look down: Tea-lover Liu Lin has got a head for heights (Picture: Europics)

Petrified postmen ordered to stay away from Snowball the cat


rightened postal workers have been banned from delivering letters to one notoriously hazardous address after being repeatedly ‘attacked’ by a three-year-old cat called Snowball. Following a thorough investigation the Royal Mail has stopped its workers from delivering mail to the address after labelling the black and white moggy a ‘health and safety risk’. Despite being described as ‘absolutely harmless’ by owner Ian Wilkinson, the UK’s postal service said Snowball posed an ‘unacceptably high level of risk’. Royal Mail said three employees suffered ‘quite deep cuts’ after all being attacked by the 10inch tall feline. Mr Wilkinson, 46, said he was

shocked when he received a letter from Royal Mail saying its workers would no longer be delivering mail to his home in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. The letter said the postal ban will continue until he has found a way of stopping Snowball from attacking its workers. The computer analyst said: ‘It’s utterly ridiculous. ‘I have never seen her attack a person. Sometimes she sniffs people’s feet when they come over for dinner - that’s as vicious as she gets.’ He also said he could not see how it was possible for his pet to have attacked the three posties: ‘Although I acknowledge that my cat is a very intelligent animal, she is not able to lift up a spring loaded flap, keep it open, push her paw through a double

brush guard and maul an unsuspecting delivery person in the time it take to delivery of the letter.’ ‘I respect postmen come out in all sorts of weather conditions, but they are in serious danger of making the Post Office a laughing stock.’ A neighbour added: ‘Snowball is a lovely cat and friendly. I can’t imagine her ever attacking anybody.’ However Royal Mail has insisted Mr Wilkinson will not receive any mail until an ‘alternative safe delivery point’ has been put in place. A spokesman added: ‘There are around 4,000 animal attacks a year on Royal Mail people. ‘These attacks cause great distress and in too many cases serious injuries.’

Snowball has scared off three petrified postal workers (Picture: Ben Davis / Newsteam).

Commode rage: Baffled drivers found it anything but a public convenience (EuroPics)

Crocodile gets a prime spot in the sun after mistaking hippo for a rock


his is the amazing moment a baby crocodile confused a giant hippo with a rock – and clambered on top of it for a snooze in the sun. Even when the hippo began to move, the cheeky croc didn’t get the hint and stayed in position for about 15 minutes before swimming off. The moment was caught on camera in South Africa’s Kruger National Park by field guide Richard Millar. The 21-year-old had been taking a photograph of the hippo when the young crocodile suddenly emerged. Mr Millar said: ‘I came across

this hippo in the water which at first had a heron on its back then all of a sudden, this small crocodile crawled up one side of it and just sat on its back. ‘It must have thought it was a rock in the water so chilled out on it for a while. They are cold-blooded creatures so need to rest in the sun. ‘Hippos and crocodiles aren’t rivals in the wild – a hippo may try and bite a crocodile but only when it feels its young is threatened. ‘It was a complete once-in-alifetime situation. I am pretty sure I will never get another photograph like that for the rest of my life.’

You’re my rock: This giant hippo doesn’t seem to mind a baby crocodile hitching a ride on his back (Picture: BNPS)


Study finds caffeine and exercise ‘work together to ward off skin cancer’


affeine and exercise may work together to ward off skin cancer, research suggests. An early study found the combination reduced the number of skin tumours in cancer-prone mice by 62 per cent. Tumours also shrank by 85 per cent in treated animals. Study leader Dr Yao-Ping Lu, from Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in New Jersey, US, said: ‘We found that this combination treatment can decrease sunlight-caused skin cancer formation in a mouse model. ‘I believe we may extrapolate these findings to humans and anticipate that we would benefit from these combination treatments as well.’ Mice exercised on a running wheel after being given a dose of caffeine. Both caffeine and exercise alone produced positive effects, but the benefit was greater when the two were combined. Mice treated with caffeine alone had 27% fewer tumours than untreated mice and their cancers were 61% smaller. In exercise-only mice, tumour activity decreased by 35% and tumour volume by 70%. Caffeine and exercise also led to a weight reduction of 63% in mice fed a high fat diet. Dr Lu believes the common link is inflammation, which dropped as much as 92% in mice given the combination treatment. The findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in Chicago. Source:

A study has found that the combination of caffeine and exercise lower the risk of skin cancer


Drinking soya milk twice a day does reduce hot flushes S

oy has long been mooted as an ingredient for easing the symptoms of the menopause. Now in the most comprehensive study to date, researchers have found that two daily servings of soy can reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes by up to 26 percent compared to a placebo. A team from the University of Delaware reviewed 19 previous studies that examined the effect of the protein source on more than 1,200 women. The effectiveness of soy in alleviating hot flushes has up to now been inconclusive, with some studies suggesting soy to be beneficial and others suggesting otherwise. The authors of the latest study argue much of the discrepancy is due to small sample sizes and inconsistent methodology, according to the authors. ‘When you combine them all, we’ve found the overall effect is still positive,’ said study author Melissa Melby. Soy protein comes from soybeans - a legume native to East Asia. Two glasses of soya milk or seven ounces of tofu provide approximately 50mg of isoflavones, which appear to provide the beneficial effect. The team found ingesting at least 54mg of soy isoflavones daily for six weeks to a year reduces menopause hot flush frequency by 20.6 per cent and severity by 26 per cent, compared to a placebo.

The authors added that women who took soy for more than 12 weeks saw a threefold greater drop in hot flushes compared to those in shorter trials. The studies also revealed that isoflavone supplements with higher levels (at least 19mg) of the genistein type, were more than twice as effective. Prof Melby said this was

particularly notable because the compound is the primary isoflavone in soybeans and soy foods. ‘Eating soy foods, or using supplements derived from whole soybeans, may work better for women,’ she said. Soy first became of interest as a treatment for the menopause after scientists observed Japanese women - who ate soy

all their lives - experienced fewer hot flushes. ‘Soy is probably more effective in these women. But if you’re 50 and you’ve never touched soy, it’s not too late. We’ve found that it still helps,’ said Prof Melby. The findings were published in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Association. Source:

Make it soy: Drinking two glasses of soya milk a day for more than six weeks reduced hot flush symptoms up to 26 per cent

How Tai Chi in later life is good for the heart


ractising the ancient martial art of tai chi can boost elderly people’s hearts, a study has found. Older subjects who regularly performed the traditional Chinese mind-body exercise now enjoyed worldwide were less likely to suffer high blood pressure and were physically stronger. Researchers said a work-out which can achieve both good heart function and muscle power ‘would be a preferred mode of training’ for this group of society. Heart pulse measurements showed it improved expansion and contraction of the arteries - known as arterial compliance - and increased knee muscle strength. A number of studies have shown strength training to improve muscle function and offset the effects of ageing have also been accompanied by a decline in arterial compliance. Tai Chi could be a suitable exercise for older people to avoid this problem, according to the findings published online in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Arterial stiffness - when an artery fails to distend or rebound in response to pressure changes - is closely associated with cardiovascular diseases.

So arterial compliance has been identified as an important predictor of heart health in the elderly and a therapeutic target for physical exercise in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The study involved 65 elderly subjects from Hong Kong, 29 recruited from local Tai Chi clubs who had each practised it for at least 90 minutes hours a week for three years and 36 controls with

no such experience. Initial results showed the Tai Chi subjects were better in almost all medical observations including blood pressure, vascular resistance and pulse pressure. Measurements also showed that both large and small artery compliance was significantly higher in the Tai Chi group (by 40-44per cent). Additional analysis showed

Benefits: Older subjects who regularly performed Chinese tai chi were less likely to suffer high blood pressure and were physically stronger

that the Tai Chi subjects had greater average muscle strength. Tai Chi is well known for its aerobic affects. The effect of Tai Chi training in lowering blood pressure has also been extensively reviewed. Principal investigator Dr William Tsang from the The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hong Kong said: ‘However this is the first study to investigate the possible effects of Tai Chi on arterial compliance by comparing older Tai Chi practitioners with nonpractitioners similar in age and activity level. ‘The improvement in arterial compliance could have resulted from a combination of aerobic training, stretching, mental concentration and calm meditation during Tai Chi movement.’ The study findings showed older Tai Chi practitioners have better arterial compliance and knee muscle strength than their healthy counterparts. And because it can be practised any time and anywhere without the constraints of equipment or a gymnasium Dr Tsang said it could be a good exercise strategy for older adults, both for heart health and muscle strengthening. Source:



David Mark: Still making his marks @ 64. By Paul Mumeh


ot very many can be that lucky to be 64 years of age and statesmen of no mean repute. April 8, 2012, President of the Senate, Distinguished Senator (Dr.) David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark reached that milestone. Many argue that age is just a number, but we must acknowledge that not many have been blessed with the grace of the almighty God to attain a milestone such as 64 years of age. For Mark though, age is more than just a numeric figure; it represents the totality of the value he has been able to add to life, his family, his community and the nation. It is in living life to the fullest, not for the sole benefit of the self but to the larger advantage of the many. Born (without a silver spoon) in the nondescript and sleepy village of Akpegede in Otukpo local government area of Benue state in the 1948, Mark seem to have been destined for the top. After completing his primary school at St. Francis Catholic Practicing School, Otukpo, Mark proceeded to the prestigious Nigerian Military School, Zaria where he laid the foundation for what turned out to become a remarkable career in the military. After graduation from the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Zaria, Mark's professional skills in the military were further sharpened in some of the most elite military training institutes in Europe, Asia and America. What began as a childhood fancy to appear in crisp military camouflages turned out to become a fulfilling career where Mark's leadership credentials stood as an invaluable asset to all formations that he had the privilege to serve, not the least of which was as Military governor of Niger state and later, Communications Minister. But whatever exploits Mark achieved during his sojourn in the military pales to insignificance compared to his remarkable stewardship on the political turf. Agreed, battles fought in military combat could be ferocious and deadly. Yet they appeared simpler when compared to political battles. In the former, the battle lines are fairly clear and the enemy is more often than not, known. For the latter, the enemy is more often than not, the seemingly innocent neighbour next door, the apparent political ally or the

Sen. David Mark

ubiquitous godfather. Here there are no battle lines, no clear enemies and the theatres of war are so fluid as to be indistinguishable. It goes without saying therefore that political battles are more difficult to prosecute, and far less easy to win. It is against this backdrop that we can safely say that winning political wars demands much more than brawns and the quality and quantity of the arsenal in the armory. It demands a lot of political savvy, prime amongst which is the ability to command followership. And this is where David Mark's leadership credentials have buffeted the grand posturing of his political opponents and traducers. When Mark, on the return of democracy in 1999 decided to try his hand in partisan politics, many looked at him as just another ex-military man seeking to satisfy yet another craving for power and relevance. But as we would suddenly realize, here was a man whose heart was out there with the people, the common men and women in the streets. Mark had no illusions about the toughness of the task he was about to undertake, but his eyes were trained on the objective-to first win the people's hearts, then votes; which comes with a huge opportunity and privilege to represent his Benue South Senatorial District in the senate. This, again for Mark was just a means to an end-the

opportunity to serve and add value to the lives of his constituents. The rest, as the old saying goes, is now history. Mark contested the election and won a seat to the Senate in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011. Expectedly and characteristics of politics in our clime, virtually all the elections were acrimonious, bitterly fought and won, to state it mildly. To be sure, they were those who felt that going into the senate, or any political office for that matter was "a turn-by-turn" arrangement, where people "will come and chop", as we say in local parlance in this part of the world, and give way for others. That is why even when his opponents were trounced resoundingly at the polls, they thought victory and the peoples' mandate could be secured through the back doorthe law courts. But Mark had a dream, a vision and mission in the

National Assembly- to redefine the parameters of leadership where service to the people is the cornerstone. It is this new vision of leadership that Mark espoused in his first two terms in the senate, 'marking' him out as one of the most outstanding lawmakers of the 4th and 5th senate. It therefore left little to the imagination, when in 2007; Mark contested and received the overwhelming mandate of his colleagues to lead the Senate as its President in an open, transparent and democratic process. That election was significant in several respects, not least of which was the rebirth of true democracy in the senate. That was the first time in a long while that the leadership of either House of the national legislature emerged through a democratic process. There is the tendency to miss the huge significance of that epochal event, but it bears mentioning that the sanity, stability and the now entrenched democratic culture prevailing in the Senate today is a direct result of that seemingly innocuous democratic exercise. And we must never miss the point, again that David Mark was, and remains the symbol of that transformation. If our memory does not fail us, we would recall the chicanery that was the hallmark of legislative practices and procedures preDavid Mark's ascendancy to the leadership of the Red Chamber of the National Assembly. It therefore speaks loudly to the astute leadership qualities of the Senate President that the several hurricanes and tsunamis that used to sweep with profound regularity in the upper chamber, and had brought to a premature end to the vaunting proclivities of many a Senate Presidents have become a welcome bygone since Mark assumed office in 2007. David Mark has always pursued the pan-Nigeria agenda. The senate under his leadership has earned a reputation for itself for standing


Mark had no illusions about the toughness of the task he was about to undertake, but his eyes were trained on the objective-to first win the people's hearts, then votes; which comes with a huge opportunity and privilege to represent his Benue South Senatorial District in the senate

up for the ordinary citizen on the street through the passage of laws and motions that aim to improve the material condition of their existence and stabilize the polity. In this wise, two critical interventions of the Senate at a time of grave national peril bear some mentioning- the invocation of the Doctrine of Necessity in the wee hours of the Late Yar'Adua Presidency to rescue Nigeria from the abyss and the mediatory role it played during the conflagration spurned by the fuel subsidy removal earlier in the year. In a country so used to holding the national legislature to blame for all manner of ills plaguing the nation, the role of the Senate in the situations under reference was not only a welcome and most desirable breathe of fresh air, but more poignantly gave strong indication that we are not doomed after all. No one can quite reasonably argue that the resolution of those epochal crises were a mere happenstance. To the contrary, the strong leadership provided by the Senate President during those trying periods played more than significant role in the final outcome of those events. Gradually but surely, we are beginning to once again repose some measure of hope in our public institutions, in this instance the National Assembly under the leadership of David Mark not only to stand up to the defense of the public and national interest, but also to drive the sort of change that the nation so badly craves. As Mark turns 64 today, our only hope and prayer is that the Almighty God continues to endow him with the needed strength and wisdom to carry to logical conclusion at the end of his term, the radical transformation and evolution that the 6th and 7th senate has come to witness under him. Needless to add that all the accolades and recognitions that are daily being bestowed on the President of the Senate are well deserved. But more poignantly, there are a call to spur him for further dedication and selfless service to our fatherland in the days, weeks, months and years to come. Many Happy Returns, Mr. Senate President, the man the gavel fits. Paul Mumeh, the Chief Press Secretary to the President of the Senate wrote from Abuja.



CPC reopens Taraba’s chapter after legal tussle From Yusha’U Alhassan, Jalingo


he Taraba chapter of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) was reopened at the weekend after the determination of a protracted legal tussle between two factions. Re-opening the office at weekend at Mayo goi-Jalingo, the CPC gubernatorial candidate in last year’s general election, Muhammed Bello Mustapha, said the office was closed because of court injunction which ordered the two factions of the party in the state to do so pending the determination of a case between them. Mustapha popularly known as M.B Mustapha said his faction which was the true faction of the CPC in the state was law abiding and adhered to the court order by closing the office. The CPC gubernatorial flagbearer said the reopening of the office followed the determination of the case in his favor between him and Ahmed Yusuf by a Federal Appeal Court which confirmed his candidature. According to him, the verdict of the Federal Appeal Court in his favor had been circulated to relevant agencies which already recognized his faction as the only CPC in Taraba state. He said that leadership comes from God and that he depended on God for solution to his problems. Mustapha announced the commencement of the sale of intent and nomination forms to Chairmanship and Councillorship aspirants of the party, saying that primary election towards the forthcoming local government

election in the state would be conducted on Sunday, 8th May 2012. He promised that the party would provide a level playing ground for aspirants as there was no sacred cow in the party. Mustapha expressed optimism that Nigeria would change for the better with good leaders and condemned the notion in some quarters that Nigeria would not progress. Earlier, the state Acting Chairman of the party, Thomas Simon Gajiga, thanked the members of the party in the state

for their patience and perseverance while the court case lasted. He announced that intent forms for Chairmanship aspirants cost N10,000 while the Nomination Form costs N100,000. He added that Intent Form for Councillorship aspirants cost N5,000 while the nomination form would cost N10,000. The Acting state CPC Chairman said the forms were to be submitted to the State secretariat of the party on or before Monday 9th of April 2012. Gajiga warned that any aspirant

who sought for nomination in a faction of the CPC that was not recognized by law had done so in his peril. He advised members of the party to be in their various wards on Sunday (yesterday) to nominate candidates of their choice. Chairman Elders’ Forum of the party in the state, Ibrahim Manga Jalo, and Chairman ALGON CPC in the state, Babarabe Ismaila, as well as other speakers at the occasion thanked God for the conclusion of the appeal case in favour of Mustapha and prayed that the CPC in the state would move to greater height.

L-R: Ondo state Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, discussing with Ogun state Govenor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, during the Nigeria Governors Forum meeting, recently in Abuja. Photo: Mahmud Isa

2015 : Presidency is for the North, says Lawmaker From Ahmed Kaigama, Bauchi


member of the House of Representatives representing Ganjuwa/ Darazo federal constituency, Rep Umar Abubakar Sade, has expressed optimism that the North would get the Presidency come 2015. Sade made the assertion in Bauchi at the weekend, saying that though it was too early to start talking about the 2015 elections, the necessary political

machinery has to commence towards ensuring that the desired objective is achieved. He said that there could be alignment and re-alignment of political forces that could culminate to the unity of the Northern political elements working towards common goal. “We have to agree to come together, we will have to agree to succumb ourselves to be united, we have to agree to be able to produce a President who will be liked by everybody, that’s my

opinion”, Sade said. The Lawmaker noted that the 2015 Presidency was for the North going by the power rotation agreed upon by the political class, hence it was left to the Northerners to sit together, digest and examine whom they think could be the best President among aspirants come 2015 polls. On the speculations that President Goodluck Jonathan would contest the Presidency in 2015, the lawmaker said every Nigerian was entitled to his/her

own opinion as guaranteed in the Constitution. Sade also asserted that Jonathan could not work in isolation to alter or amend a provision of the Constitution to achieve his political agenda. “The President cannot do it alone, he has other people to work with, but he has not yet informed the people to work with, so allow it when he convinces the people to work with for whatever he plans to do, that could be better”, Sade concluded.

Edo Guber Poll: Obasanjo visits Oshiomhole By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin


head of July 14th 2012 governorship election in Edo State, former President, Chief Olusegun Obanjo and his wife have paid unscheduled visit to the Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole. His discussion with the governor was not clear. But suspicion has it that the former President may have come to endorse the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN governor for the second term.

Obasanjo convoy touched the parking lodge at the private residence of the governor at about 2 pm on yesterday amidst tight Security. On interrogation, the former Board of trustee, BoT Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who had announced his retirement from partisan politics, said:' I cannot be passing through Benin City and I do not say hello to my friend; this thing must not be heard on the Media. I 'll pay another visit to the governor and then we 'll talk to you, the governor

will talk, I 'll talk and then we 'll play together'. Asked why he resigned from partisan politics, he said, 'Today is not for talk'. In the meantime, Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole has again reinstated his commitment to challenge the PDP governorship candidate in the state, Major Gen. Charles Airhiavbere (Rtd.), to a public debate. Oshiomhole told the PDP candidate that he owed the electorates and Nigerians an explanation over

why he was allegedly incarcerated before his retirement. He recalled how he was detained several times for breach of public peace when he led the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) protests, noting that records of his deeds are traceable, even at magistrates Courts. When you were restrained, what was it for? I have been detained for many times including breach of public peace at magistrate Courts, what were you detained for? We'll know when the time comes for debate and election day.

PDP, Reps preach peace, love at Easter By Lawrence Olaoye


he Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and the House of Representatives have enjoined Christians nationwide to imbibe the virtues of love and peace as they celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ this Easter. The PDP in a release signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, and made available to newsmen at the weekend stated “The National Chairman of our great Party, Dr. Bamanga Turkur on behalf of the National Executive Committee, (NEC) rejoices with Christians in Nigeria and the world over on the occasion of Easter. At this challenging period in the life of our nation, I wish to enjoin all of us to continue to work together for the unity, peace and progress of Nigeria just like Christ the Prince of Peace whose supreme sacrifice over 2000 years ago brought freedom to mankind. “This year’s Easter offers us a good opportunity to soberly reflect on our relationship with God and our dear nation. The lessons of Easther which are summarised in sacrifice, love and forgiveness should guide every Nigerian so that in whatever circumstances of challenge, we should look inwards, show love and put our nation first.” According to the statement, the PDP is using the occasion of Easther to also call on Nigerians of all faith to tolerate and live in peace with one another since neither Christianity nor Islam, the two major religions in the country advocates violence. “Let us all embrace peace and shun the vicious sermons of those who urge us to violence as a way to settling grievances.” Similarly, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal CFR, has called for mutual respect among adherents of various faiths in the country, saying such would guarantee peaceful coexistence among different religions in Nigeria. In his Easter message issued in Abuja yesterday and signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal urged all Nigerians to unite and confront the security and other development challenges facing the nation. He also urged all Nigerians to rededicate themselves to the service of God, their nation and humanity. “I implore Nigerians to use the Easter period to renew their faith in God and strengthen the bond of friendship and brotherhood which have held the country united since the amalgamation in 1914. “Among the essence of Easter is sacrifice,love for humanity and total submission to the will of God. These virtues should not be lost on us Nigerians. We should continue to pray for a peaceful Nigeria that will be a pride to us and the future generation,” the Speaker added. Tambuwal reiterated the commitment of the House of Representatives to efforts in building a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.



Dickson Proposed bill for Community Council inaugurates Government raises dust in Imo Bayelsa Infrastructural T committee


s the rainy season sets in, the Bayelsa Government says it is set to tackle the perennial poor drainage in the state. Gov. Seriake Dickson stated this while inaugurating the Bayelsa state Infrastructural Advisory Committee at the Government House, Yenagoa, on Thursday. He said the need to checkmate the drains became necessary because the problem had become “a source of great concern to the people of Yenagoa”. Dickson urged the committee to set as its main task, the development of a blue print on critical infrastructure for the state. The governor asked the committee to come up with a preliminary report that would clearly highlight the problems militating against an efficient drainage before its main report would be ready. He said the report should include solutions to the problems. “Your duty is to develop a blue print on critical infrastructure, compile a comprehensive list of all on-going projects in Yenagoa. “You are also expected to take a review of the Yenagoa Master Plan with a view to correcting any shortcomings. “In addition, I will want the committee to take a holistic look at the drainage with a view to suggesting ways to make the drainage more efficient.” Dickson said that other terms of reference included the development of a framework for partnership with other development partners in the provision of critical infrastructure. The governor said that he withdrew the budget submitted by the previous regime because it did not meet the development aspirations of the present administration. He advised the members to submit an interim report on the drainage situation of Yenagoa within one week. Dickson said this was necessary so that the recommendations regarding finances could be captured in the budget to be represented to the State House of Assembly. Responding, the Chairman of the committee, Sir Charles Dorgu, promised that the committee “will get down to business immediately”. He requested for a secretariat to facilitate the assignment of the committee. Dorgu assured the governor of the willingness of the committee to work assiduously, saying that members would not betray the confidence reposed in them. He thanked the governor for giving the members the opportunity to serve the people in that capacity.

he inclusion of traditional rulers as members of the Community Council Government dominated the weekend public hearing on the bill seeking to provide for grass roots administration in Imo. The bill before the Imo Assembly provides for life membership of the traditional ruler of each autonomous community in the local administration, which Gov. Rochas Okorocha earlier termed “fourth tier government”. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bill further provides for five-member community council government, four of whom will be elected except

the traditional ruler. The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Imo chapter, said it rejected the bill because it violated the constitution and called on the state legislature to jettison it. In his presentation, the NLC Chairman, Comrade R.A. Anyadike, said that “the said fourth tier government” would encroach into local government administration and politicise traditional stool in the state. “The proposed fourth tier government will create problems at the various autonomous communities who have a structure and zoning policies of how their leaders will emerge,’’ he added.

In his presentation, the Chairman of Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Samuel Ohiri, argued that the inclusion of traditional rulers in the proposed council was in order. Ohiri said that government and the people had realised the need for the involvement of traditional rulers in local, state and national governments. The chairman said that involving royal fathers in governance was not alien to the people because traditional rulers had been playing key roles in community development. Ada Chidume-Okoro in a presentation on behalf of wives of the traditional rulers, called

Some delegates waiting to cast their votes, during the state congress of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), recently in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state.

for their active involvement in the government, saying that they were marginalised. “We request that the community’s `Ugoeze’ be accorded the respect, importance and recognition which she deserves in the community government as the overall head of women affairs.’’ Ugoeze is the general title for wives of traditional rulers in Igboland. “We request that a palace allowance be paid her monthly from the community government purse to enable her administer the palace, entertain guests and look after the less privileged,” she said. In his presentation, the President, Association of Public Policy Analysis, Mr Princewill Okorie, said the bill was desirable because it would ensure rapid development in the state and bring governance closer to the people. Also, the Chairman, Okigwe Zonal Council of Town Union Chief Kenneth Iwundu and his Owerri counterpart, Chief Emekwa Ikechi, said the local administration would ensure development in the rural areas. Both chairmen called for the removal of traditional rulers from the council since they were custodians of the people’s culture and should be left out of partisan politics, adding that they could play advisory role in the new arrangement. NAN reports that various organisations and individuals including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Imo Rescue Mission Agenda made presentations. The Speaker of the House, Benjamin Ejimogu had earlier said that the bill was government’s answer to lack of accelerated socioeconomic development in the communities. (NAN)

CNPP ready for LG election in Akwa Ibom — Udofia


kwa Ibom Chairman, Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Mr. Linus Udofia, said on Friday that the party was ready for the local council polls slated for June this year. Udofia told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Uyo that election of councillors and chairmen into the councils would hold on June 9.

“The leadership of all political parties in the state met with officials of the Akwa Ibom state Independent Electoral Commission (AKISIEC) and agreed for the election to hold as scheduled. “We were asked to go and prepare for the election; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) conducted primaries for councillors on Thursday and will conduct for

chairmen this Saturday. “In fact, all political parties are in full preparation to file in candidates for the election,’’ Udofia said. He expressed optimism that the commission would act as an unbiased umpire and conduct a free, fair and acceptable election. On the chances of other political parties winning, the chairman said

that everybody had a fair chance to win in the election if the commission would do its job well. The chairman expressed his displeasure to a publication in one of the local dailies that he had called for the suspension of the election. “CNPP frown at such publication being carried without our consent which is capable of distabilising the political peace of this state,” he added.

Enugu legislator calls for financial autonomy


member of Enugu State House of Assembly, Mr. Erochukwu Ugwueze, has restated the called for financial autonomy in the legislature to make it function effectively. Ugwueze, representing Igbo-Eze South Constituency, made the call at a retreat organised for members of the State Executive Council, the legislators and local government chairmen in Enugu on Thursday. He said insufficiency funding was one of major challenges of the

legislature, and urged the appropriate authorities to start a process that could result in full autonomy of the legislature. “We need financial autonomy so that we do not depend on any other level of government in discharging our duties; sometimes, over-dependence on other levels of government influences our jobs,’’ he said. Speaking at the retreat, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti,

urged government officials at all levels to ensure efficient and effective service delivery to the people. He said that a constant consultation with the people was necessary for the government to succeed. The Chairman of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Bishop Obi Onubuogu, appealed to the participants at the retreat to reflect Christianity in their duties. Gov. Sullivan Chime of Enugu

urged the participants to reflect the lessons from the retreat in their duties. Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Amechi Okolo, the governor called for more retreats for government officials in the state to re-examine and evaluate public officers. Some government officials who spoke at the retreat cited inadequate fund, over-dependence, corruption and lack of information as deterrents to effective service delivery.



Fire guts ALP headquarters in Abuja By Lambert Tyem


L-R: Chairperson, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejeocha, with Country Manager, British Airways, Mr. Kola Olayinka, during an investigative hearing of high fare charges by international airline, at the National Assembly recently in Abuja. Photo: Mahmud Isa

Kebbi CPC appoints caretaker committee By Tobias Lengnan Dapam


ollowing the defection of some of its key members to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), has

set up a caretaker committee of six members, headed by Isah Shehu Idris, to take charge of the affairs of the party. Other members include; Alh. Auwal M. Argungu, Hon. Garba A. Bagudu, Alh.

Hassan Jega, Alh. Umaru B. Wasagu and Abubakar L. Usama. This was contained in a communiqué issued by the party's National Secretary, Engr. Buba Galadima, after

the party's National Executive Meeting (NEC) meeting, adding that the committee would submit its interim report within thirty days of its assumption of office.

Let the fear of God guide you on July 14,HDP counsels Edo voters From Inumidun Ojelade, Ibadan


overnorship candidate of Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the forthcoming July 14th gubernatorial election in the state Mr. Idumonze, has urged the people of the state to allow the fear of God guide their conscience when casting their votes during the at the elction. He stated this as part of his Easter message to Nigerian in general and Edo people in particular which was made available to newsmen in Ibadan. He maintained that unless this was done, the past mistakes of electing wrong leaders into governorship office in the state would be

repeated, adding that this period, which symbolises the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, was the most auspicious to take a position and align with HDP in view of the successive failures of governance in the state since the rebirth of democracy in 1999. He advised the good people of the state to resist and reject the attempt by the present administration to remain in office after four years in view of its inability to deploy transformational ideas into the critical sectors for economic rejuvenation. Idumonza particularly lamented the recent death of promising students of Ekpoma University who got drown in

search of water. “The death of those students was as a result of failed governance. We were told that water has been provided and commissioned in Ekpoma with much fanfare, yet students got drown in a well in search of water. This is part of the deceit we have always talked about. What is happening in that institution at the moment contrasts with the vision of Alli. The deceit has run full circle and it must stop on July 14,” he said. He maintained that HDP remained committed to industrializing the state when voted into office saying “we have perfected all arrangements to commence the industrialization of the State as soon as we take over office.”

“There is no other way to liberate Edo from the present backwardness other than promoting commercial activities to productive level. At the moment, nobody goes to Edo to look for job. Is it an impossibility? No, it is very possible only when the right idea is deployed with sincerity. “In the past, job seekers would besiege Benin and other towns in the state for jobs. But not any longer; because present and past PDP government failed to do the needful. No security and no robust implementable plans for food sufficiency. The sole objective of the dualisation of airport road which has been stuck is to get it named after him”

Kebbi: No agreement with decampee, says PDP boss From Ahmed Idris, Birnin Kebbi


he Kebbi state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Chairman, Alhaji Mansiru Sheahu, has debunked the insinuations making rounds in the state that there

was an agreed position sharing formula with newly defected members of the opposition before they decamped into the party. Speaking to Peoples Daily recently, the Chairman urged those that decamped into the ruling party to study the

party’s constitution and guidelines insisting that “when they are qualified and meet the guidelines to contest; they are free to do so as they are equal with any member.” He said ‘’We are all one and we’re ready to carry everybody

along, those are qualified will be given position’’ he said. Sheahu also called on the politicians in the state to support the present administrations both at the state and federal level for them to succeed.

he National headquarters office of African Liberation Party (ALP) at the weekend was gutted by fire with properties and office equipment worth millions of naira destroyed. The office located in Garki Area 11 of Abuja, we learnt, was gutted recently through an alleged electrical fault. Sources said the fire started in one of the law offices in the building complex before it spread to other offices including the party office. Eye witness who spoke on condition of anonymity said the fire may have been as a result of a faulty electrical appliance in the law firm. Efforts to speak to occupants of the complex including the alleged law chamber proved abortive. However, when reached on telephone, the National Chairman of ALP, Chief Emmanuel Osita Okereke, said he was in Owerri when he got the news of the fire incident. According to the Party chieftain, “I was called and informed of what happened but I thank God that there are no casualties in the inferno.” Reacting to the incident by the Federal Capital Territory Police Spokesman, Jimoh Moshood said he was not aware but that he will confirm and get back. But as at the time of filing this report, he has yet to react.

Atiku preaches sacrifice and love at Easter By Lawrence Olaoye


ormer Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has urged Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of love and sacrifice as they celebrate Easter. In an Easter goodwill message issued by his Media Office in Abuja, Atiku enjoined Christians and indeed all Nigerians to internalize the spiritual gains and benefits of the season for an improved society. He admonished Christians to emulate Jesus Christ by his exemplary unconditional love and sacrifice to the people. According to him, this is the only path to enthroning a Nigeria of equal rights, peace and justice. “We need to promote love for another, be our brothers and sisters keepers and above all make sacrifice an integral part of our existence. That is the only way the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross will make meaning in our own daily lives and the life of our nation,” Atiku said. The former Vice President reiterated that nation building called for huge sacrifice and fellowfeeling both from the leaders and the led. “Nigeria will never realize its manifest destiny as a great nation capable of playing leading role in world until we begin to care for one another and this will translate to immense love for our country,” he said.



L Stephen Keshi

ouis Oosthuizen made an albatross and took the lead at the Masters. The South African’s shot could join Gene Sarazen’s as one of the most famous in the sport. Oosthuizen holed out on the par-5 second yesterday to post a double-eagle 2, the rarest shot in golf and the first time it’s been done on that hole in the 76-year history of the Masters. In the blink of an eye, the albatross moved Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, from 7 to 10 under and into first place. He gave one of those shots back on No. 4 but still had a oneshot lead over Phil Mickelson as the leaders played the front

Louis Oosthuizen

Oosthuizen makes an historic shot to take Augusta Masters lead nine. Third-round leader Peter Hanson was another shot back and Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson were tied at 6 under. Oosthuizen was in the fairway, about 260 yards out when he blasted an iron shot onto the front, then watched it roll from the front of the green to the back and into the hole. He raised both hands in the air, high-fived his caddie then jaunted down to the hole. He plucked the ball out and tossed it into the crowd. Some souvenir. Until this one, the most famous albatross at Augusta was the one Sarazen knocked in on No. 15 en route to a playoff victory in 1935 known as the shot that put the

Masters on the map. Only a few minutes before Oosthuizen took to the course, in third place and two shots out of the lead, defending champion Charl Schwartzel, predicted good things for his fellow South African. Oosthuizen wasn’t the only one attacking Augusta National from long range. Bo Van Pelt and Adam Scott aced the 16th hole. Van Pelt’s 1 was part of a round of 8-under 64, tying the record for the best closing round in tournament history. The Van Pelt round made it clear there were good scores to be had; bad ones were available, too.

Tiger Woods struggled for the fourth straight day, at 3 over with one hole to play and 6 over for the tournament. He was in a tie for 44th, in jeopardy of his worst Masters finish ever, pro or amateur. Over four rounds, Woods played the par-5s in a cumulative 1 under. Oosthuizen, on the other hand, played the first one Sunday in 3-under par.

t was a mixed grill for Nigerian teams vying for continental glory during the weekend. First Warri Wolves stopped FC Kallon 2-0 in Warri, and then Sunshine Stars did the impossible by stunning Recreativo de Libolo 3-0 to upturn a 4-1 deficit and oust the Angolans from the CAF Champions League yesterday. The performance baffled the visitors who claimed they never thought their huge advantage would so easily be taken apart. But it was. For their troubles, Sunshine were rewarded with a special cash reward of N900,000. Each goal was valued as N300,000. Sunshine thus advanced to next stage of the competition on the away goals

rule after scores were deadlocked at 4-4 on aggregate. It would be recalled that in the first leg the game had been on even keel until 14 minutes to the final whistle when the Angolans went haywire recording a three goal spree. Yesterday in Ijebu-Ode, Sunshine Stars ensured there was no such loss of concentration as they crafted deftly to deny the Angolans any respite. Super Eagles call up, Izu Azuka, opened scoring for Sunshine in the 25th minute, before captain Godfrey Oboabona made it 2-0 from the penalty spot on the half hour after Atanda Sakibu’s goalbound shot was blocked with the hands by an Angolan player. It was Oboabana’s seventh goals in recent week. The defender had earlier earned the praises of Eagles

Head Coach Stephen Keshi for scoring six goals in the domestic league. Dele Olorundare then secured the much desired third goal to book Sunshine the ticket to the third round of the CAF Champions League with a diving header off an Ajani Ibrahim cross in the 77th minute. They will now clash with the winners of the match between Uganda Revenue Authority SC and Djoliba of Mali for the

chance to reach the moneyspinning group stage of the annual competition. In Garoau, Dolphins paid dearly for letting in one goal a fortnight ago when they hosted Cotonsport of Cameroon. The Stanley Eguma tutored side fought gamely to no avail as the Camerronians secured a vital 1-0 win to level up on 2-2 aggregate scoreline and thus eject Dolphins out of the prestigious continental campaign.

Godfrey Aboabana

Izu Azuka

Super Eagles shortlist CAF Champions League: Sunshine versus Pharaohs sail through, Dolphins splutter out today Stories by Patrick Andrew


he technical crew of the Super Eagles will by the close of work today unveil the 20man list of players that will confront seventh times African Cup of Nations winners-the Pharaohs of Egypt in Dubai on Thursday. This means that only five of the 25 players currently sweating it out for places in the team will not be listed for selection when the team crashed against the Egyptians. This realised has rather gingered the players to intensify efforts to secure one of the 20 slots. Already, the Dan Amokachi led crew have assured that no player is indispensable and that whether some excelled against Rwanda or not, every other player is on the block and stressed that whoever braces the tape first in terms of physical and mental condition stands the chance of being selected. “When all the 25 players are here and we assess their fitness and form the list will then be made public, at the moment we just have an idea of those that will make the trip, the final training will help us with final decision” one of the coaches craving anonymity declared. According to him, after today’s final training session, the list of the 20 players will be made public, However, an official of the team said there could be some changes should the technical crew find the need to do so. It was equally confirmed that the Nigeria Football Federation may have decided to take all the players in camp to Dubai to give everyone a sense of belonging more so since is being decamped as yet.


Eagles celebrate Mark at 64, as Keshi joins team today in Dubai


he entire Super Eagles team has sent warm felicitations to the country’s number three citizen and Senate President, David Mark on the occasion of his 64th birthday. Team Coordinator, Emmanuel Atta, said Head Coach Stephen Keshi, sent words from his base in the United States to wish the onetime Communication Minister, many more fruitful years in the service of the nation and humanity. Keshi, he said, was speaking on behalf of all is assistants Dan Amokachi, Sylvanus Okpala, Ike Shorunmi, Hyundunou Valere as well as players and officials. “We see the Senate President as a true sportsman, as he has all the time encouraged the national team and has even been sponsoring competitions in his native Benue. We trust that he will continue to not only support the national team but that the goodluck that has

trailed him over the years will rub off on the team, as preparations reach fever pitch for the Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers”, Keshi was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, the Super Eagles will depart Nigeria today for the friendly against Egypt in Dubai United Arab Emirates. Travelling arrangements were concluded at the weekend by officials of the NFF and Big Boss Stephen Keshi will join the team in Dubai for the friendly today.

David Mark



District Head gives reasons why Zaria Polo tourney went dormant By Patrick Andrew and Agaju Maduga


aria Polo Tournament came alive over the weekend following a lifeline injected into the sprawling Zaria Polo facility by the duo of MTN and Unity Bank. The breath of life, which came by way of corporate sponsorship, ensured that the venue once more became a beehive of activities several years after it went dormant. Unity Bank in conjunction with several others opted to renovate the club as well as renovate the polo ground for a tournament. Speaking at a pre-tournament press briefing at the weekend in Zaria, the District Head of Zaria who is also Chairman Zaria Polo Club, Mohammed Sambo Idris, recounted the glorious era of Zaria Polo Club noting it was the centre of key tournaments of yore. “Zaria Polo Club has been dormant for many decades but with the support and efforts of all our members in making sure that the club is back, the club is now well revived,” he said stressing that activities went dormant because the majority of its members were government officials who had to move on once they were transferred. “After years for not hosting any tournament in Zaria, the club is now bouncing back with the sponsorship of this year’s tournament. “Our special thanks go to the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Architect Namadi Sambo. He has done a lot in reviving Zaria Polo Club. “Actually, Zaria Polo Club is the fourth after the ones in Ibadan, Lagos and Kaduna. The club dates back to 1910, and it was in this club, the first Georgian cup was won and that is the highest competing cup in the whole history of the Nigeria polo. “The reason why the polo club was dormant was the fact that people who were playing the polo in those days at Zaria Polo Club were prominent people and key government officials but as they got transferred out of Zaria, the club became dormant for awhile.

“The likes of late General Hassan Usman Katsina, former Kaduna State Governor, Abba Kyari, played their first game here. And other prominent Nigerians who were adding colour to the club were suddenly moved out of Zaria which affected the activities of the club. “But as of today the upcoming players are residents in Zaria who are actually working hard to lift the polo club to the next level now. We have done a lot to revive the club; we have one of the best, if not the best polo field in Northern Nigeria, and everybody acknowledge it. “We have a befitting club house, though the structures are looking ancient, we don’t want to tamper with the structures of the club house, but we are giving them touches such that everybody will come and be happy with what they will see here. The main stage is now looking very colourful, courtesy of MTN Nigeria which is one of the main sponsors of this tournament. “Security is key to us and we have a solid relationship on ground now with key security agencies. “We have a very good relationship with the police, the area commander here is very cooperative, we are enjoying a very relationship with him. Zaria is a very peaceful city and we enjoy the cooperation of the Emirate Council. “We have the cooperation of the Nigerian Civil Defence, all the security agencies. So, we can guarantee you that enough of security measures have been put in place towards having a hitch-free tournament 2012, by the special grace of God. “I will like to use this opportunity to mention most of our sponsors. We have to also thank the Kaduna State


government for giving us all the necessary support. We are extending our gratitude and thanks to Bauchi state government, and our special thanks also to Unity Bank Nigeria Plc. “The forthcoming tournament will last for seven days, from April 14 -21. We are expecting to host more than 28 teams and that means that more than 100 players will be participating in the tournament. “The major trophies to be won in this tournament include the Royal Signal, Emir of Zazzau’s Cup, Governor’s Cup, University Cup, Commandant’s Cup, Sarki Zazzau , Mallam Jafa’aru’s Cup.“A mini tournament was held last here in 2009 and almost every Sallah celebration we do have colourful mini tournaments.”

Raul keeps Schalke on course for Champions League


olden oldie Raul conjured one of the goals of the season as he struck twice to give Schalke 04 a 3-0 win over Hanover 96 in the Bundesliga yesterday to keep them on course for a place in the Champions League. Dutchman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar completed the win, breaking a 71-year club record for the number of goals in a season, in a match between two sides knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday. Huntelaar has scored 43 goals in 42 games, 24 in the Bundesliga, 10 in the Europa League, five in the German Cup and four in Europa League qualifiers. Hamburg SV remained stuck in a relegation battle after being held 11 at home by Bayer Leverkusen. Huub Stevens’s Schalke have 57 points from 29 games, six behind second-placed Bayern Munich and a further three adrift of leaders Borussia Dortmund. Hanover are eighth on 41 points.

Arsenal put Man City’s title aspiration up in flame I

t was all over for Manchester City yesterday following their loss to rampaging Arsenal whose inspirational form lately has stunned many of its foes. In yesterday’s match at the Emirates, Mikel Arteta put a dagger in the heart of City’s title hopes with a 87th minute strike that handed Arsenal a

Mikel Artate’s scoring against City

deserved 1-0 win. It was tragedy for City whose rivals Manchester United had earlier in the day extended their lead at the top of the table to eight points. United defeated QPR 20. City needed to win to keep up the chase for the title alive. However, its gut went asunder as they did not only lose to the superior fire power of the Gunners but regular ‘bad boy’ Mario Balotelli sent off for rough play. Manager Roberto Mancini had to admit after the game that City would accept any offer for Mario at the end of the season. City though were fortunate not to have conceded more than the lone goal, as the Gunners had struck the woodwork three times before they finally found the back of the net through a great long range goal from Arteta. From kick off, the Gunners did have the better of the opening exchanges and City suffered an early set back when Yaya Toure had to leave the field injured in the 15th minute. A minute after departing the field, the Citizens felt the absence of Toure’s presence when trying to defend a cornerkick. The ball was flicked on at the

front post and Robin Van Persie was quickest to react, but he saw his six-yard header cleared off the goalline by his own player as his effort struck Thomas Vermaelen and bounced onto the crossbar and away from danger. In the 20th minute Balotelli was lucky to still be on the field after the referee missed h i m making a dangerous studs-up tackle on Alex Song the Italian should have been shown a straight red but escaped. Five minutes later and Balotelli was unlucky not to find the back of the net after he saw a 12-yard effort cleared off the goalline but the arsenal defence. The sides continued to exchange blows, but neither could create any clear cut chances for the remainder of the half. City had the first chance of the second 45 when Samir Nasri supplied a teasing cross into the box in the 53rd minute which Sergio Aguero latched onto, but he saw his ten-yard header superbly tipped over the crossbar by Wojciech Szczesny. Ten minutes later and Van Persie struck the woodwork for the second time after getting onto the end of a deep right wing cross from Song. The Dutchmen, though, saw his header hit the right-hand post form ten-yards out. In the 76th minute Theo Walcott should have opened the scoring for Arsenal when he found himself one-onone with Joe Hart, but he saw his effort tipped onto the left-hand post. The ball then ricocheted to Vermaelen fouryards out, but he miscued his shot with an empty net at his mercy. Still, the miscued effort fell to Rosicky two-yards out, but he also missed the target from close range. Finally, three minutes from time and great 30-yard strike from Arteta found the bottom right-hand corner of the net to give Arsenal a well-deserved lead, 1-0. A minute later and the referee added insult to injury when he showed Balotelli his second yellow card and gave him his marching orders. The game finished 1-0 as Arsenal moved up to third Mikel Artate celebrating his score on the league table and City saw their title hopes fade away.



BOA’s Lord Moynihan says ‘one idiot’ can ruin a London 2012 event


he British Olympic Association (BOA) chairman Colin Moynihan says security measures at London 2012 are being reviewed constantly to help prevent a repeat of the Boat Race disruption. But he warned it “just takes one idiot” to ruin an event. “Both the police and security operations around all venues and athletes are being reviewed day by day. That is so we can have the best chance of an incident-free games,” Lord Moynihan said. “It just takes one idiot, similar to the idiot (at the Boat Race), who causes major disruption. That’s why all the security measures need to be put in place to minimise the chances of that happening. You can never completely remove it but you can do everything possible to minimise it.” A man has been charged over an incident which led to the Boat Race being halted halfway through. Trenton Oldfield, 35, of Whitechapel, east London, will appear at Feltham Magistrates’ Court on 23 April charged under the Public Order Act. Lord Moynihan told Sportsweek: “He obviously knew what he was doing. The two crews only take up a very small width of the river. To have got in there was a very unexpected result. I would never imagine anyone could get themselves into that position.” The BOA chairman, who competed in the Boat Race with Oxford, sympathised with the rowers affected by the intruder. Race umpire John Garrett halted the race after his assistant, the four-time Olympic champion Sir Matthew Pinsent, spotted the protester in the water just after the crews had passed Chiswick Steps. Olympic sports such as sailing, cycling, open water swimming and the marathon appear vulnerable to similar issues. Looking ahead to London 2012, Lord Moynihan said: “It’s so important to work closely with the police and security agencies and put in place every possible measure to protect the interests for all the athletes coming from the 204 countries of the world. In many respects, that’s the biggest ask of the Games this summer.

Lennie Waite

Jackie Areson

Stephen Sambu

World lead for Areson, others at Stanford Invitational meet T

he Stanford Invitational fixture saw two world leads established and another world lead equalled consecutively at the Angell Field facility on the campus of Stanford University. With the Olympic Games approaching, many American world-class runners decided to use this extra opportunity to check their form in advance of the elite Payton Jordan

Invitational on the same track in three weeks’ time. One of such world leading result was in the women’s 5000m which closed with a blistering finish by Jackie Areson as she lowered her outdoor PB by more than 30 seconds with a world-leading 15:18.31. Lisa Uhl had forged a lead of up to 35 metres with four laps remaining in the event, but the 24-year-old could not deal with

Areson’s kick over the final 200 metres as she took the runnerup spot in 15:21.56. The erstwhile world leader, Fionnuala Britton of Ireland, led the pack during the first half of the race, but she faded to fifth at the end in 15:28.22. Ahead of Britton were Brie Felnagle (15:22.39) and Alisha Williams (15:24.82). Areson’s time secured an Olympic ‘A’ standard, while the next four met the ‘B’ norm for London. Earlier in the evening, Britain’s Lennie Waite breezed to a 9:48.35 win in the 3000m Steeplechase to top that event’s 2012 list. It was ever so slightly outside the 9:48.00 needed for the Olympic ‘B’ standard. Earlier in the women’s high jump, Brigetta Barrett cleared 1.95m to match Amy Acuff’s top performance in the world this season. The 21-year-old Universiade champion from last year who competes for the University of Arizona then called for the benchmark 2.00m height, which just barely eluded her on her first attempt. After that, fatigue appeared to set in for her remaining two tries. The men’s 5000 metres, Brent Vaughn went to the lead at the start of the gun lap, only to be overhauled in the final metres by Kenya’s Stephen Sambu. The University of Arizona student clocked a PB 13:31.51 to pip Vaughn’s 13:31.85 as six other runners crossed the line within three seconds in the mad scramble at the end. Dathan Ritzenhein returned to the track after an absence of almost three years’ time during

which he has been concentrating exclusively on road racing. The ninth-place finisher in the Beijing Olympic marathon held off university student Tyler Penell to win the 10,000m, 28:21.48 to 28:23.54, as David Jankowski finished third with 28:26.90. The women’s 10,000m saw Tara Erdmann nip Kate DiCamillo at the finish, 32:31.15 to 32:31.97, as Iowa State University student Meaghan Nelson finished third with 32:33.40 after leading the race most of the way. Olympic seasons always reveal new young talent, and the men’s steeplechase provided a case in point. David Adams, a 23-year-old electrical engineering student from Nebraska, showed the poise of a seasoned runner with a smooth, crisp finish, easily outkicking three-time US national team member Josh McAdams to easily win in 8:29.51, shaving almost 11 seconds from his previous best and dipping under the Olympic ‘B’ standard. McAdams held second with 8:36.94 ahead of Mexico’s Luis Ibarra (8:37.32). Reigning World junior discus bronze medallist Julian Wruck had no challenger as his 63.79m best was almost seven metres ahead of the field. Decathlete Japheth Cato of the University of Wisconsin, the NCAA indoor runner-up in the Heptathlon last month, came away with two PBs, as he won the long jump with 7.47m and was fourth in the Pole Vault at 5.25m. The vault winner was Levi Keller, who pushed his PB up from 5.35m to 5.45m.

Karate federation cautions schools against recruiting fake coaches


he Kickboxing Federation of Nigeria (KFN) has advised schools to liaise with the federation before recruiting coaches, to avoid employing unqualified personnel. The KFN Technical Director, Victor Bassey, said the advice has become necessary following the activities of some charlatans parading themselves around as certified coaches. Bassey said that the rules of the sport were always reviewed and coaches were expected to be up-todate so that they could impart the correct techniques in their athletes. “As upcoming athletes, they need to be nurtured in the right direction, and this has to do with the coaches who must be familiar with the modern guidelines,” he said. The technical director also advised authorities of schools that have kickboxing as one of their sports to ensure that their coaches undertake refresher courses. Bassey identified lack of sponsorship and promotion as major challenges hindering the sport’s development and, therefore, appealed to multinationals and telecommunication companies to

support kickboxing. He said the federation was proposing to hold zonal championships as a way of developing the sport at the grassroots to identify new talents. According to him, the project has prompted the federation to go on aggressive marketing drive so as to generate funds to organise the programme in the six zones. He said: “We need to organise competitions at the zonal level which requires financial backing, so have commenced steps to get sponsors by writing letters to cooperate organisations and philanthropists. “Kickboxing is a medal winning sport and the talents are there, so we have to develop the sport by creating a forum for raw talents to showcase their skills and get discovered. Bassey also appealed to states governors to sponsor open competitions in their various states, as a way of promoting the sport and supporting its development. “The promotion of kickboxing is a collective responsibility and must not be left to the sports ministry alone, little support from individuals and the public sector will go a long way,” he said.



mo Athletes to the 18 th National Sports Festival in Lagos will adopt the use of technology to train, the state Acting Director of Sports, Mrs Chizotam Arietola, has said. Arietola told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Owerri that this would be made possible with the recently purchased standard gym equipment at


Imo intensifies preparations for National Sports Festival the Dan Anyiam Stadium. She said in furtherance of the state’s aspiration to excel at the festival scheduled to hold from Nov. 27 to Dec. 9, the athletes would train on the machines every weekend. The acting Director said that

sports associations were encouraged to commence talent hunt across the 27 Local Government Areas of the state. Arietola said with the level of their preparations for the forthcoming competition, the athletes were sure to make the

state proud. According to her, scrabble, cricket, boxing and wrestling are among the sports the state is expecting to win gold medals. The acting Director also said that athletics competition had been organised to further boost

FCT targets national record in boxing, says coach By Albert Akota


CT boxing coach, Benjamin Daniel, has revealed that the Territory’s boxers were in high spirit ahead of the 18th National Sports Festival billed in Lagos this November. The coach said the boxers have been training vigorously for the fiesta and assured that the Territory would definitely set records at the festival. Benjamin, who is also a national volleyball referee, said in Abuja yesterday that with the backing of the FCT Sports

Council, his charges were sure to justify the huge investment the council has made on them. He said the boxers were currently undergoing high level of training meant to put them in shape for the Games and added that they have been well equipped to outshine their opponents technically and tactically. “I want to assure Team FCT Boxing contingent to the forthcoming National Sports Festival in Lagos will set new national records in boxing because the high standard training that they have been

subjected to. “We are going there to prove surprises because of the support we have enjoyed from the FCT administration. My boxers have told me severally of their readiness to surpass previous records. “We are going to the event to prove those who think the FCT would no longer be relevant. We want to prove that we still have good boxers in the Territory. Recall that we have never failed to win a medal since inception of the fiesta. In this edition our intention is to set new national records,” he said.


avid Ferrer secured defending champion Spain a place in the Davis Cup semifinals by beating Austria’s Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 in yesterday’s reverse singles for an insurmountable 3-1 lead. Also, Juan Martin del Potro put Argentina into its third straight Davis Cup semifinal with a three-set victory over Croatia’s Marin Cilic. Del Potro won 6-1, 6-2, 6-1, to give Argentina an insurmountable 3-1 lead in

Juan Martin del Potro the best-of-five quarterfinals. In the first game, despite his unsteady serve and gusting winds, the fifth-ranked Ferrer had little trouble remaining perfect in 14 matches on home clay en route to recording Spain’s first win over Austria in 33 years. Ferrer broke Melzer in the last game of an even first set and didn’t let up to claim Spain’s 23rd straight home win, moving it into second place all-time for consecutive wins behind Italy’s record of

28. Nicolas Almagro beat Alexander Peya to complete a 4-1 victory for the Spanish. The five-time champions will face the United States in the semifinals. But Argentina will face the Czech Republic in Buenos Aires in the semifinal on Sept. 14-16. Argentina lost last year’s final against Spain in Seville and has been in the Davis Cup final four times without winning. Del Potro put the match away with his seventh ace, then reached skyward with

WAUG: Awardwinner stunned by quality of volleyball competition


Bala Mohammed, FCT Minister

Spain, Argentina sail into Davis Cup semifinals

David Ferrer

the athletes’ skills and keep them fit. Arietola appealed to the state government to release money early for the preparation and participation of its athletes at the festival to enable them to embark on a successful campaign.

both arms to celebrate as the 14,000 sellout responded with cheers of “ole, ole, ole.” Del Potro set the tone on clay from the start. He broke Cilic in the first game, and two more times to win the set in 48 minutes. The former U.S. Open champion closed the set when Cilic returned a forehand into the net. Del Potro was a fan favorite for more than just his tennis. Late in the first set he leaned over and kissed a butterfly, which hovered and then landed on the frame of his racket, prompting loud applause from the crowd at Parque Roca on the outskirts of the Argentine capital. Cilic was clearly weary. He played a five-hour marathon on Friday in beating David Nalbandian, and then another five-hour match on Saturday in losing to Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank in doubles. The second set was much of the same. Del Potro broke Cilic in the fourth game and, and did it again to close out the set. The third set was merely a formality. With a commanding leading, Del Potro played to the crowd, with the crowd responding, “Vamos, vamos Argentina.” Del Potro’s performance bordered on the heroic: He vomited before Friday’s singles, battling a touch of the flu, and captain Martin Jaite called him “less than 100 percent” before yesterday’s match. Jaite said Del Potro ate with the team on Saturday and went to bed early.

r David Lawal, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the men’s volleyball event of the 13 th West Africa University Games (WAUG), said that he was astonished by the quality of the volleyball competition. He said in Ilorin on Friday, shortly after he was announced as the event’s MVP, that the high standard of the competition really surprised him. “I was not expecting what I saw here. Honestly, I was surprised by the high standard displayed here by all competitors, in spite of my being chosen as the MVP. We really worked hard for the gold medal, yet we were stretched to our limits as the competition was stiff,” he said. Lawal, who is a member of the volleyball squad of the University of Lagos that won the gold medal, said that he never expected such a high level of play in the volleyball event. He said that he initially felt that since the tournament was “just a universities games”, it would not really overstretch his team. Lawal, nonetheless, conceded that he was quite happy that his team won the competition, adding that he and his teammates really worked for the victory. “It is a thing of joy to win but we really worked hard for it. Above all, God was on our side. “In addition to that, I had prepared myself for the MVP award. My teammates were aware of my intentions and they rallied round me to ensure I won the award,” he said. Eight teams, drawn into two four-team pools, took part in the volleyball competition at the University of Ilorin, venue of the Games.





Serena Williams wins Family Circle Cup title


ucie Safarova 6-0, 6-1 and capture her first clay-court tournament in four years at the Family Circle Cup yesterday. Williams didn’t drop a set in five matches this week and lost only three games over the weekend, dispatching Samantha Stosur, 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals before ousting Safarova. She hadn’t won a tournament on clay or even gotten to a final on the surface since taking the 2008 championship here. Williams has said throughout the week how comfortable she felt in her short time on clay this year. That showed against the 25-year-old Safarova, ranked 26th in the world. Williams served a 107-mph ace on match point, shrieking in joy and waving to the crowd.

Williams came into the week off a trip to the quarterfinals at the Sony Ericsson Open and had just a day or so to get in any work on the slower clay at the Family Circle Tennis Center. She looked rusty in her opening match, a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Elena Vesnina on Tuesday. But Williams came back in her next match with a strong attitude and a much sharper game. She took out Marina Erakovic 6-2, 6-2 and was in control early in her quarterfinals win over Sabine Lisicki, who retired after twisting her left ankle. Williams was at her best, though, on the weekend. She didn’t give Stosur, the reigning U.S. Open champion, room to breathe in the semifinals. Williams concluded the clay court run with her win over

Man United face two strugglers


Serena Williams

anchester United face Barclays Premier League strugglers Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa this week as they look to close in on the title. Having seen their lead at the top of the table extended to eight points this past weekend, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men are on course for the league crown yet again.

Jigawa deny Rangers top spot


igawa Stars yesterday dashed the hopes of Rangers to end the first round of the Nigeria Premier League as leaders with a 1-0 home. Rangers are thus second on the table with 32 points, while Kano Pillars maintained top spot as they also have 32 points but enjoy a better goals difference. Jigawa played out of their skin and got the match winner four minutes from the interval through Ekene Odo. Jigawa coach Evans Ogenyi said that

it was a good victory for his relegationhaunted team and that they hope to build on this going into the second round of the competition. “I commend our boys for the great game. They really did well against Rangers,” Ogenyi said. “We will now build on this. We will work on the team for better performances in the second round so as to actualise our dream of remaining in the Premier League.” In yesterday’s other game, Lobi Stars

On Wednesday evening the Red Devils travel to take on second-frombottom Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium, looking to rack up a ninth straight league win. Then on Sunday United head back to Old Trafford to host 15th-placed Aston Villa, who have won just one of their last nine league matches.

came from a goal down to beat visiting Kwara United 2-1. Moses Bunde and David Tyakase scored for Lobi in first half to cancel ‘The Afonja Warriors’ lead. The league is expected to break for a week and resume with reverse fixtures from Week 19.

Week 19 Results Sunday Jigawa 1 Rangers 0 Lobi 2 Kwara United 1

Ogbu saves Heartland in Confed Cup B

rendan Ogbu’s late goal Sunday propelled Heartland to the next round of CAF Confederation Cup 2-1 aggregate ahead of US Haut of Cameroon. The first match in Douala a fortnight ago ended in a goalless draw. In the second round, the Nigerian cup winners will clash with AC Leopard from the Congo Republic with the first leg in Owerri on April 29. Striker Kabiru Umar opened the scoring in the 50th minute for the host team at the refurbished Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri with Governor Rochas Okorocha in attendance. However, the Cameroonians drew level in the 79th minute through Fossou Fardice even after one of their players, Henri Ngane, had been sent off for a second booking earlier in the game. But just when it seemed that Heartland had crashed out of the competition after several misses, substitute Ogbu, in for Julius Ubido, popped up with a stoppage time winner for ‘The Naze Millionaires’. Goal scorer Umar admitted it was a tough but that they deserved the victory. “We really played our hearts out. It was a tough game but in the end we won,” a relieved Umar said. “They really stretched us but we were equal to the task. I am happy that I was part of the victory party.”

Heartland’s Kofarmata (right) on Sunday against US Haut

Safarova, breaking her serves 24 times. And Williams may be prepared to win even more this clay court season. She’s not scheduled to play again until next month in Madrid, then at the Italian Open before moving on the Paris for the year’s second Grand Slam, the French Open. Williams has talked frequently this week of her desire to add another title at Roland Garros she won her only French crown in 2002 to her Hall-of-Fame resume of 13 major championships. She also talked about moving to Paris. The Family Circle Cup victory was a great start to her clay court season. Williams also was happy to honor the 40th anniversary of the Family Circle tournament and the legacy of women’s tennis. The tournament named its stadium court for tennis great and pioneer Billie Jean King, who was on court during Williams’ trophy ceremony. King and members of the Original 9 players, who defied the tennis establishment to form the first women’s tour and fight for better prize money, were saluted during the weekend Williams earned $115,000 for the victory, a far cry from the first Family Circle in 1973 that offered a thenunheard of $100,000 in total prize money.

Omokaro urges Insurance FC to strengthen attack


former Bendel Insurance FC of Benin player, George Omokaro, has advised the Lawrence Akpokona-led coaching crew to sharpen the team’s attack, to brighten their hope for promotion to the premier league. Reacting to Insurance 3-1 trouncing of Cross of David (COD) FC of Lagos on Saturday at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin, Omokaro said that the team needed to be more purposeful in its play. “I think Insurance game today (Saturday) is a great improvement over their previous matches. But I want to advise the coaching crew and the players to be more purposeful with their play and be more decisive in their attack. “If they improve on their striking force, they are likely to achieve their dream of a promotion to the premier league,” he said shortly after the National Division one league match. Insurance utility player, Bernard Ovoke, scored the opening goal three minutes into the match, firing a shot from outside the 18-yard box, to give the home team the first goal in the week 10 game. Ohonbamu Daniel increased the tally in the 20 th minute from a goal mouth scramble while Prince Maurice scored the third goal in the 60 th minute. COD’s consolatory goal came in the 59 th minute following a defensive blunder in Insurance danger area. Insurance will play their week 11 game away on April 14 against Abia Warriors of Aba.




God gi ves e ver y bir d its giv ev ery bird food, but He does not throw it into its nest —J J.. G G.. Holland



Isner wins to take US into Davis Cup semifinals


ohn Isner’s big serve and solid forehand proved too strong for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, defeating the Frenchman 6-3, 7-6 (4) 5-7, 63 yesterday to put the United States into the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time since 2008. Tsonga had chances, but could only break his serve once as the Americans took an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series, setting up a match against Spain. Defending champion Spain led Austria 31 behind a win by David Ferrer. Leading the Americans in the absence of ninth-ranked Mardy Fish, the 11th-ranked Isner played well. In other quarterfinals, host Czech Republic topped Serbia 41 and Argentina beat Croatia 4-1. The semifinals are in September. Tsonga struggled to stay with Isner until his late rally. Isner built on the U.S. team’s momentum after a straight-set doubles win on Saturday. He didn’t face a break point, while the pressure was clearly on the sixth-ranked Tsonga to even the score at the Monte Carlo Country club. Later, Gilles Simon was scheduled to play the 19-yearold Ryan Harrison in the meaningless final match. It will be Forget’s last match as France’s Davis Cup captain. The French fans got behind Tsonga early. But when he got to deuce on Isner’s serve in the seventh game, the American’s response was simple—two aces that Tsonga couldn’t get near. Tsonga trailed 15-40 in the next game, and Isner broke for a 5-3 lead when the Frenchman’s big second serve was slightly too long. Isner made a statement with his next service game by holding at love and clinching the set in 34 minutes with another ace that whistled past Tsonga before he could move. He offered Isner a gift of a break point at the start of the second set, sending a routine smash into the net. He saved that break point with a strong forehand that Isner could only paddle back into the net.


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Obasanjo: Going, going... It is not what you are called, but what you answer to — Kikuyu Proverb


few months ago, a spat between two former Nigerian Heads of State, Obasanjo and Babangida held a bemused nation's interest for a brief moment. Two former leaders who between them had been Heads of State for 18 years had fallen out in a media war over their records in office. They traded insults, and the media stoked up the fire. Former President Babangida reportedly blinked first, and dismissed the quarrel as the handiwork of the media. He said he couldn't have taken up Obasanjo, a respected senior, in a public quarrel. Babangida had stepped aside from many conflicts and confrontations in the past, the most famous being after aborting the elections of the late M.K.O Abiola, and finding that his career as a scheming tactician at the head of a military which had become complacent over demands of leading a restive nation, was coming to a dangerous end for him. Since he would not write his own history, those who wrote his history to date have defined him by those terminal events, and his profile has remained limited by the quicksand that almost swallowed him, the military institution and the nation. Last week, former President Obasanjo also stepped aside. If he had the time to look up the history behind Babangida's stepping aside, he may see how uncannily similar their circumstances are. Like Babangida, Obasanjo had lost his grip on the instruments of survival; and to push on would have been foolhardy and dangerous. Both former leaders had attempted to create conditions for virtual, perpetual control, and both had miscalculated the volatility and dynamics of changes on their fortunes. Both had reached ends they had not foreseen, and have been victims of the scheming which made them the only sources of power when they ruled. Few people will believe that Obasanjo resigned from the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees of the PDP which he practically wrote himself into for life, out of choice. Most keen followers would say the writing

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FIFTEEN MINUTES with Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo

has been on the wall for him for quite some time. It is possible that Obasanjo may have less friends than any Nigerian alive today, and he himself will acknowledge that he has not cultivated lifelong relationships. He has fallen out with the surviving officers whose coup d'etat in 1976 gave him a number two position, and later still, the number one position, albeit with some reluctance. There are still elderly Yoruba people who will not forgive him for not handing over the Presidency to Awo in 1979, and although Yoruba people made a tactical decision to work with him and tap into the immense patronage available to

him as president until 2007, they have retreated back into their tribal cocoon. He has fallen out with virtually every politician who worked to make him President in 1999, and northern politicians in particular are bitter that he paid them back by systematically dismantling the northern political establishment, and impoverishing the region. Obasanjo learnt, the hard way, that power must be jealously guarded, or it could slip away irretrievably. Wily politicians showed him the value of a substantial war chest to oil a strong political structure in which loyalty is absolutely owed only to him. He supported the democratic process, to the extent that it was amenable to his control. He systematically lowered the quality and clout of the people around him, until he became absolutely the only source of power. He recognized the immense powers of the legislature to challenge his dominance of the political terrain, and worked to limit its potential damage to his interest by engineering and influencing the emergence and loyalty of its leadership. He recognized the damage of pervasive corruption, but used

It may be too early yet to sing hallelujah for Obasanjo's retirement. The old man will be chased by old enemies and adversaries all the way to his end, so he is unlikely to even give up all his defences. Obasanjo may write his own history, but there will also be many other versions

institutions meant to fight it to achieve his political objectives. He took no prisoners, and he made legions of enemies and tolerated people who exploited his position to make untold wealth which reinforced his powers. When it became obvious he had to go in 2007, Obasanjo reinvented himself in the Presidency that succeeded him. He installed a sickly President and a deputy whose political career appears to have been designed by pure providence. With his people in the Villa, he re-wrote his party's rules to make himself its Board of Trustees chairman for life, if he wanted to. But not even Obasanjo could control all events. Tinubu rolled back his party and influence out of the southwest, and the new president acquired new mentors and handlers who kept him at a safe distance from Obasanjo. Without a political base and with the shifting locus of power to the south-south and south east, Obasanjo was fast losing his grip. The last PDP convention must have shown Obasanjo that quite a number of people in his party have learnt lessons on how to keep power, but they are not with him. The tradition he started of keeping a firm hold on party leadership was sustained, with even more decisiveness than he did. Consensus in his party has been elevated to the status of the holy grail, and every element of decision making in the PDP is now the exclusive preserve of a few people. There are new actors in the block who are willing to challenge the old order, and without bridges to fall back on, the old General read the writing on the wall. It may be too early yet to sing hallelujah for Obasanjo's retirement. The old man will be chased by old enemies and adversaries all the way to his end, so he is unlikely to even give up all his defences. Obasanjo may write his own history, but there will also be many other versions. One of these may say that he was a man who had a historic opportunity to lay the foundations of good governance in Nigeria, but failed to do so. The party whose BOT chair he has given up is not exactly a shining legacy to leave behind, in a nation desperate for evidence that it can build a working democratic system.

Published by Peoples Media Limited, 35, Ajose Adeogun Street, 1st Floor Peace Park Plaza, Utako, Abuja. Lagos Office: No.8 Oliyide Street, off Unity Road, Ikeja, Lagos, Tel: +234-09-8734478. Cell: +234 803 606 3308. e-mail: ISSN: 2141– 6141

Peoples Daily Newspaper, Monday April 09, 2012  

Peoples Daily Newspaper, Monday April 09, 2012 Edition