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•NACCIMA faults IMF, OPS

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•Nigeria’s widest circulating newspaper

VOL. 8, NO. 2706 MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

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TR UTH IN DEFENCE OF FREEDOM TRUTH

N150.00

NEXIM to raise $60m for shipping line

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HE Nigeria ExportImport Bank (NEXIM) will go to the capital market next month to raise about $60 million to fund the sub-regional shipping line - Sealink. The Sealink take-off is to get more speed because there is “a huge market for the initiative within the two regions of West and

From Nduka Chiejina Assistant Editor, Abuja

Central Africa, which have about 26 countries with a combined GDP of $619 billion and a consumer base of 440 million people”. NEXIM Bank’s Managing Director Roberts Orya spoke in Abuja when he hosted the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Ser-

vice (NIS), David Parradang. Orya noted that the gain expected from the project “is extremely huge and we believe that the primary advantages will come to Nigeria because we are the major trading partner”. The bank chief explained that when the shipping line comes on stream, two ships would be designated to carry

cargo and passengers, since Nigerians prefer to accompany their goods rather than send them as cargoes. Orya said: “We hope that by the time all of this is set up, two of them are going to carry both passengers and human beings, because if you look at the way our people move, they want to follow Continued on page 4

•NCC: 60,000 PHONE SUBSCRIBERS PORTED P5 •BANKER SLITS HUSBAND’S MANHOOD P10

Jonathan to Obasanjo: I’m fighting corruption President replies ex-president’s letter I’ve evidence of my claims, says Obasanjo

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Castro seeks U.S. relations

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UBAN President Raul Castro has called for “civilised relations” with the United States, saying the two countries should repect their differences.

From Yusuf Alli, Abuja

FTER 20 days of silence, President Goodluck Jonathan replied yesterday to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s controversial letter, insisting that he is fighting corruption. He said corruption did not start during his administration and asked Obasanjo to name any “high corruption” case he had not addressed. Huge pension funds, running into billions of naira are missing. Aviation ministry bought N255 million bullet proof cars for Minister Stella Oduah. Besides, there are discrepancies in the cash sent to the Federation Account and oil sales proceeds from the Nigeria National and Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Dr. Jonathan said Obasanjo lied against him in all the allegations he raised in his December 2, 2013 letter tittled: “Before it is too late”. He said unlike the case during the administration of Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007, no politician had been assassinated. He said he was surprised that Obasanjo, who did not deem it fit to probe the assassination attempt on his life during the countdown to the 2007 election could now raise a secuTEXT OF LETTER false rity alarm. To the ON PAGES 2 & 3 President, Obasanjo’s letter is subversive and a replica of similar ones he wrote which led to military interventions in the past. Jonathan, in his December 20, 2013 letter to the ex-President, said he had not discussed Continued on page 4

Foreign Page 56

‘Eagles can’t stop Argentina’

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HE man many believe to be the best lived, Diego Armando Maradona does not rate African champions Nigeria too highly and does not beleive the Super Eagles can defeat Argentina at the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil. •Dr. Jonathan

Sport Page 23

•Chief Obasanjo

That corruption is an issue in Nigeria is indisputable. It has been with us for many years...a number of Army Generals were to be retired because of corruption. The late General Murtala Muhammed wanted to retire some top people on corruption-related issues...

Corruption has reached the level of impunity...if you are not ready to name, shame, prosecute and stoutly fight against corruption, whatever you do will be hollow...May God grant you the grace for at least one effective corrective action against high corruption ...

Doctors strike for January 6

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HE Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has threatened to begin an indefinite strike on January 6, if its demands are not met by the Federal Government. NMA National President Osahon Enabulele issued the deadline yesterday... News Page 6

•CITYBEATS P10 •SPORTS P23 •CEO P27 •TRANSPORTATION P31 •POLITICS P43


THE NATION MONDAY DECEMBER 23, 2013

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Jonathan to Obasanjo: you’ve President Goodluck Jonathan, in a reply to former President Olusegun Obasanjo made available to the media last night, debunked the allegations against him. The full text:

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WISH to formally acknowledge your letter dated December 2, 2013 and other previous correspondence similar to it. You will recall that all the letters were brought to me by hand. Although both of us discussed some of the issues in those letters, I had not, before now, seen the need for any formal reply since, to me, they contained advice from a former President to a serving President. Obviously, you felt differently because in your last letter, you complained about my not acknowledging or replying your previous letters. It is with the greatest possible reluctance that I now write this reply. I am most uneasy about embarking on this unprecedented and unconventional form of open communication between me and a former leader of our country because I know that there are more acceptable and dignified means of doing so. But I feel obliged to reply your letter for a number of reasons: one, you formally requested for a reply and not sending you one will be interpreted as ignoring a former President. Secondly, Nigerians know the role you have played in my political life and given the unfortunate tone of your letter, clearly, the grapes have gone sour. Therefore, my side of the story also needs to be told. The third reason why I must reply you in writing is that your letter is clearly a threat to national security as it may deliberately or inadvertently set the stage for subversion. The fourth reason for this reply is that you raised very weighty issues, and since the letter has been made public, Nigerians are expressing legitimate concerns. A response from me therefore, becomes very necessary. The fifth reason is that this letter may appear in biographies and other books which political commentators on Nigeria’s contemporary politics may write. It is only proper for such publications to include my comments on the issues raised in your letter. Sixthly, you are very unique in terms of the governance of this country. You were a military Head of State for three years and eight months, and an elected President for eight years. That means you have been the Head of Government of Nigeria for about twelve years. This must have, presumably, exposed you to a lot of information. Thus when you make a statement, there is the tendency for people to take it seriously. The seventh reason is that the timing of your letter coincided with other vicious releases. The Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke of my “body language” encouraging corruption. A letter written to me by the CBN Governor alleging that NNPC, within a period of 19 months did not remit the sum of USD49.8 billion to the federation account, was also deliberately leaked to the public. The eighth reason is that it appears that your letter was designed to incite Nigerians from other geo-

political zones against me and also calculated to promote ethnic disharmony. Worse still, your letter was designed to instigate members of our Party, the PDP, against me. The ninth reason is that your letter conveys to me the feeling that landmines have been laid for me. Therefore, Nigerians need to have my response to the issues raised before the mines explode. The tenth and final reason why my reply is inevitable is that you have written similar letters and made public comments in reference to all former Presidents and Heads of Government starting from Alhaji Shehu Shagari and these have instigated different actions and reactions. The purpose and direction of your letter is distinctly ominous, and before it is too late, my clarifications on the issues need to be placed on record. Let me now comment on the issues you raised. In commenting I wish to crave your indulgence to compare what is happening now to what took place before. This, I believe, will enable Nigerians see things in better perspective because we must know where we are coming from so as to appreciate where we now are, and to allow us clearly map out where we are going. OU raised concerns about the security situation in the country. I assure you that I am fully aware of the responsibility of government for ensuring the security of the lives and property of citizens. My Administration is working assiduously to overcome current national security challenges, the seeds of which were sown under previous administrations. There have been some setbacks; but certainly there have also been great successes in our efforts to overcome terrorism and insurgency. Those who continue to downplay our successes in this regard, amongst whom you must now be numbered, appear to have conveniently forgotten the depths to which security in our country had plunged before now. At a stage, almost the entire North-East of Nigeria was under siege by insurgents. Bombings of churches and public buildings in the North and the federal capital became an almost weekly occurrence. Our entire national security apparatus seemed nonplussed and unable to come to grips with the new threat posed by the berthing of terrorism on our shores. But my administration has since brought that very unacceptable situation under significant control. We have overhauled our entire national security architecture, improved intelligence gathering, training, funding, logistical support to our armed forces and security agencies, and security collaboration with friendly countries with very visible and positive results. The scope and impact of terrorist operations have been significantly reduced and efforts are underway to restore full normalcy to the most affected North Eastern region and initiate a post-crisis development agenda, including a special intervention programme to boost the region’s socio-economic

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progress. In doing all this, we have kept our doors open for dialogue with the insurgents and their supporters through efforts such as the work of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and the Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges in the North-East. You also know that the Governor of Borno State provided the items you mentioned to me as carrots. Having done all this and more, it is interesting that you still accuse me of not acting on your hardly original recommendation that the carrot and stick option be deployed to solve the Boko Haram problem. Your suggestion that we are pursuing a “war against violence without understanding the root causes of the violence and applying solutions to deal with all the underlying factors” is definitely misplaced because from the onset of this administration, we have been implementing a multifaceted strategy against militancy, insurgency and terrorism that includes poverty alleviation, economic development, education and social reforms. Even though basic education is the constitutional responsibility of States, my administration has, as part of its efforts to address ignorance and poor education which have been identified as two of the factors responsible for making some of our youth easily available for use as cannon fodder by insurgents and terrorists, committed huge funds to the provision of modern basic education schools for the Almajiri in several Northern States. The Federal Government under my leadership has also set up nine additional universities in the Northern States and three in the Southern States in keeping with my belief that proper education is the surest way of emancipating and empowering our people. More uncharitable persons may even see a touch of sanctimoniousness in your new belief in the carrot and stick approach to overcoming militancy and insurgency. You have always referred to how you hit Odi in Bayelsa State to curb militancy in the Niger Delta. If the invasion of Odi by the Army was the stick, I did not see the corresponding carrot. I was the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State then, and as I have always told you, the invasion of Odi did not solve any militancy problem but, to some extent, escalated it. If it had solved it, late President Yar’Adua would not have had to come up with the amnesty program. And while some elements of the problem may still be there, in general, the situation is reasonably better. In terms of general insecurity in the country and particularly the crisis in the Niger Delta, 2007 was one of the worst periods in our history. You will recall three incidents that happened in 2007 which seemed to have been orchestrated to achieve sinister objectives. Here in Abuja, a petrol tanker loaded with explosives was to be rammed into the INEC building. But luckily for the country, an electric pole stopped the tanker from hitting the INEC building. It is clear that this incident was

•Jonathan

meant to exploit the general sense of insecurity in the nation at the time to achieve the aim of stopping the 2007 elections. It is instructive that you, on a number of occasions, alluded to this fact. When that incident failed, an armed group invaded Yenagoa one evening with the intent to assassinate me. Luckily for me, they could not. They again attacked and bombed my country home on a night when I was expected in the village. Fortunately, as God would have it, I did not make the trip. I recall that immediately after both incidents, I got calls expressing the concern of Abuja. But Baba, you know that despite the apparent concern of Abuja, no single arrest was ever made. I was then the Governor of Bayelsa State and the PDP Vice-Presidential candidate. The security people ordinarily should have unraveled the assassination attempt on me. You also raised the issues of kidnapping, piracy and armed robbery. These are issues all Nigerians, including me are very concerned about. While we will continue to do our utmost best to reduce all forms of criminality to the barest minimum in our country, it is just as well to remind you that the first major case of kidnapping for ransom took place around 2006. And the Boko Haram crisis dates back to 2002. Goodluck Jonathan was not the President of the country then. Also, armed robbery started in this country immediately after the civil war and since then, it has been a problem to all succeeding governments. For a former Head of Government, who should know better, to present these problems as if they were creations of the Jonathan Administration is most uncharitable. AVING said that, let me remind you of some of the things we have done to curb violent crime in the country. We have reorganized the Nigerian Police Force and appointed a more dynamic leadership to oversee its affairs. We have also improved its manpower levels as well as funding, training and logistical support.

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We have also increased the surveillance capabilities of the Police and provided its air-wing with thrice the number of helicopters it had before the inception of the present administration. The National Civil Defence and Security Corps has been armed to make it a much more effective ally of the police and other security agencies in the war against violent crime. At both domestic and international levels, we are doing everything possible to curb the proliferation of the small arms and light weapons with which armed robberies, kidnappings and piracy are perpetrated. We have also enhanced security at our borders to curb crossborder crimes. We are aggressively addressing the challenge of crude oil theft in collaboration with the state Governors. In addition, the Federal Government has engaged the British and US governments for their support in the tracking of the proceeds from the purchase of stolen crude. Similarly, a regional Gulf of Guinea security strategy has been initiated to curb crude oil theft and piracy. Perhaps the most invidious accusation in your letter is the allegation that I have placed over one thousand Nigerians on a political watch list, and that I am training snipers and other militia to assassinate people. Baba, I don’t know where you got that from but you do me grave injustice in not only lending credence to such baseless rumours, but also publicizing it. You mentioned God seventeen times in your letter. Can you as a Christian hold the Bible and say that you truly believe this allegation? The allegation of training snipers to assassinate political opponents is particularly incomprehensible to me. Since I started my political career as a Deputy Governor, I have never been associated with any form of political violence. I have been a President for over three years now, with a lot of challenges and opposition mainly from the high and mighty. There have certainly been cases of political assassination since the advent of our Fourth Re-


THE NATION MONDAY DECEMBER 23, 2013

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done me grave injustice ‘

The issue of Buruji Kashamu is one of those lies that should not be associated with a former President. The allegation that I am imposing Kashamu on the South-West is most unfortunate and regrettable. I do not even impose Party officials in my home state of Bayelsa and there is no zone in this country where I have imposed officials. So why would I do so in the South West? Baba, in the light of Buruji’s detailed public response to your “open letter”, it will be charitable for you to render an apology to Nigerians and I •Obasanjo

public, but as you well know, none of them occurred under my leadership. EGARDING the over one thousand people you say are on a political watch list, I urge you to kindly tell Nigerians who they are and what agencies of government are “watching” them. Your allegation that I am using security operatives to harass people is also baseless. Nigerians are waiting for your evidence of proof. That was an accusation made against previous administrations, including yours, but it is certainly not my style and will never be. Again, if you insist on the spurious claim that some of your relatives and friends are being harassed, I urge you to name them and tell Nigerians what agencies of my administration are harassing them. I also find it difficult to believe that you will accuse me of assisting murderers, or assigning a presidential delegation to welcome a murderer. This is a most unconscionable and untrue allegation. It is incumbent on me to remind you that I am fully conscious of the dictates of my responsibilities to God and our dear nation. It is my hope that devious elements will not take advantage of your baseless allegation to engage in brazen and wanton assassination of high profile politicians as before, hiding under the alibi your “open letter” has provided for them. Nevertheless, I have directed the security agencies and requested the National Human Rights Commission to carry out a thorough investigation of these criminal allegations and make their findings public. That corruption is an issue in Nigeria is indisputable. It has been with us for many years. You will recall that your kinsman, the renowned afro-beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti famously sang about it during your first stint as Head of State. Sonny Okosun also sang about corruption. And as you may recall, a number of Army Generals were to be retired because of corruption before the Dimka coup.

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Also, the late General Murtala Mohammed himself wanted to retire some top people in his cabinet on corruption-related issues before he was assassinated. Even in this Fourth Republic, the Siemens and Halliburton scandals are well known. The seed of corruption in this country was planted a long time ago, but we are doing all that we can to drastically reduce its debilitating effects on national development and progress. I have been strengthening the institutions established to fight corruption. I will not shield any government official or private individual involved in corruption, but I must follow due process in all that I do. And whenever clear cases of corruption or fraud have been established, my administration has always taken prompt action in keeping with the dictates of extant laws and procedures. You cannot claim to be unaware of the fact that several highly placed persons in our country, including sons of some of our party leaders are currently facing trial for their involvement in the celebrated subsidy scam affair. I can hardly be blamed if the wheels of justice still grind very slowly in our country, but we are doing our best to support and encourage the judiciary to quicken the pace of adjudication in cases of corruption. Baba, I am amazed that with all the knowledge garnered from your many years at the highest level of governance in our country, you could still believe the spurious allegation contained in a letter written to me by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and surreptitiously obtained by you, alleging that USD49.8 billion, a sum equal to our entire national budget for two years, is “unaccounted for” by the NNPC. Since, as President, you also served for many years as Minister of Petroleum Resources, you very well know the workings of the corporation. It is therefore intriguing that you have made such an assertion. You made a lot of insinuations about oil theft, shady dealings at the NNPC and the

NNPC not remitting the full proceeds of oil sales to the of CBN. Now that the main source of the allegations which you rehashed has publicly stated that he was “misconstrued”, perhaps you will find it in your heart to apologize for misleading unwary Nigerians and impugning the integrity of my administration on that score. Your claim of “Atlantic Oil loading about 130, 000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on behalf of NPDC with no sale proceeds paid into the NPDC account” is also disjointed and baseless because no such arrangement as you described exists between Atlantic Oil and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company. NPDC currently produces about 138, 000 barrels of oil per day from over 7 producing assets. The Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD) of the NNPC markets all of this production on behalf of NPDC with proceeds paid into NPDC account. I am really shocked that with all avenues open to you as a former Head of State for the verification of any information you have received about state affairs, you chose to go public with allegations of “high corruption” without offering a shred of supporting evidence. One of your political “sons” similarly alleged recently that he told me of a minister who received a bribe of $250 Million from an oil company and I did nothing about it. He may have been playing from a shared script, but we have not heard from him again since he was challenged to name the minister involved and provide the evidence to back his claim. I urge you, in the same vein, to furnish me with the names, facts and figures of a single verifiable case of the “high corruption” which you say stinks all around my administration and see whether the corrective action you advocate does not follow promptly. And while you are at it, you may also wish to tell Nigerians the true story of questionable waivers of signature bonuses between 2000 and 2007. While, by the Grace of God Al-

mighty, I am the first President from a minority group, I am never unmindful of the fact that I was elected leader of the whole of Nigeria and I have always acted in the best interest of all Nigerians. You referred to the divisive actions and inflammatory utterances of some individuals from the South-South and asserted that I have done nothing to call them to order or distance myself from their ethnic chauvinism. Again that is very untrue. I am as committed to the unity of this country as any patriot can be and I have publicly declared on many occasions that no person who threatens other Nigerians or parts of the country is acting on my behalf. It is very regrettable that in your letter, you seem to place sole responsibility for the ongoing intrigues and tensions in the PDP at my doorstep, and going on from that position, you direct all your appeals for a resolution at me. Baba, let us all be truthful to ourselves, God and posterity. At the heart of all the current troubles in our party and the larger polity is the unbridled jostling and positioning for personal or group advantage ahead of the 2015 general elections. The “bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear and deep suspicion” you wrote about all flow from this singular factor. T is indeed very unfortunate that the seeming crisis in the party was instigated by a few senior members of the party, including you. But, as leader of the party, I will continue to do my best to unite it so that we can move forward with strength and unity of purpose. The PDP has always recovered from previous crises with renewed vigour and vitality. I am very optimistic that that will be the case again this time. The PDP will overcome any temporary setback, remain a strong party and even grow stronger. Instigating people to cause problems and disaffection within the party is something that you are certainly familiar with. You will recall that founding fathers of the Party were frustrated out of the Party at a

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time. Late Chief Sunday Awoniyi was pushed out, Late Chief Solomon Lar left and later came back, Chief Audu Ogbeh and Chief Tom Ikimi also left. Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo left and later came back. In 2005/2006, link-men were sent to take over party structures from PDP Governors in an unveiled attempt to undermine the state governors. In spite of that, the Governors did not leave the Party because nobody instigated and encouraged them to do so. HE charge that I was in volved in anti-party activi ties in governorship elections in Edo, Ondo, Lagos, and Anambra States is also very unfortunate. I relate with all Governors irrespective of political party affiliation but I have not worked against the interest of the PDP. What I have not done is to influence the electoral process to favour our Party. You were definitely never so inclined, since you openly boasted in your letter of how you supported Alhaji Shehu Shagari against Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe and others in the 1979 presidential elections while serving as a military Head of State. You and I clearly differ in this regard, because as the President of Nigeria, I believe it is my duty and responsibility to create a level playing field for all parties and all candidates. Recalling how the PDP lost in states where we were very strong in 2003 and 2007 such as Edo, Ondo, Imo, Bauchi, Anambra, and Borno, longstanding members of our great party with good memory will also consider the charge of anti-party activities you made against me as misdirected and hugely hypocritical. It certainly was not Goodluck Jonathan’s “personal ambition or selfish interest” that caused the PDP to lose the governorship of Ogun State and all its senatorial seats in the last general elections. You quoted me as saying that I have not told anybody that I will seek another term in office in 2015. You and your ambitious acolytes within the party have clearly decided to act on your conclusion that “only a fool will believe that statement” and embark on a virulent campaign to harass me out of an undeclared candidature for the 2015 presidential elections so as to pave the way for a successor anointed by you. You will recall that you serially advised me that we should refrain from discussing the 2015 general elections for now so as not to distract elected public officials from urgent task of governance. While you have apparently moved away from that position, I am still of the considered opinion that it would have been best for us to do all that is necessary to refrain from heating up the polity at this time. Accordingly, I have already informed Nigerians that I will only speak on whether or not I will seek a second term when it is time for such declarations. Your claims about discussions I had with you, Governor Gabriel Suswam and others are wrong, but in keeping with my declared stance, I will reserve further comments until the appropriate time. Your allegation that I asked half a dozen African Presidents to speak to you about my alleged ambition for 2015, is also untrue. I have never requested any African President to discuss with you on my behalf. In our discussion, I mentioned to you

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THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

NEWS

•From left: Former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, All Progressives Congress (APC) Interim National Chairman Chief Bisi Akande, Former Minister Musa Gwuadabe, APC Interim National Publicity Secretary Alhaji Lai Mohammed, former Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, former Speaker Bello Masari, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal and former Minister Hassan Lawan during the wedding of Mohammed’s daughter Aisha to Booyamin in Lagos…yesterday PHOTOS BOLA OMILABU •The couple, Boonyamin and Aisha...yesterday

Jonathan unperturbed by APC leaders visit to Obasanjo, says Presidency P RESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan is not bothered by weekend’s visit of the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Presidency said yesterday. The leaders of the APC visited Obasanjo in Abeokuta on Saturday as part of their consultations with prominent Nigerians on their mission to rescue Nigeria. They have visited former President Shehu Shagari Former Military President Ibrahim Babangida, former Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, among others Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Communications Dr. Doyin Okupe said Dr. Jonathan was “undisturbed” by the APC leaders, “courting people all over the place”. He accused the opposition party of not “being able to stand on their own but fishing within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)”. Okupe said Jonathan “will defeat these giants”.

He said the Jonathan administration has performed “better than any government since independence within a period of three years”, adding that he would “score the government very good with 60 to 65 per cent”. He said the President would not sweep under the carpet the purchase of N255 million bullet proof cars for Minister of Aviation Stella Oduah by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). The House of Representatives last week adopted the report of its committee that probed the allegations against the minister with a recommendation that the President should review her appointment. “It is an ongoing matter. Punishment must be given to those who are guilty. The President will soon come up with his position. The matter will not be swept under the carpet, but guilt must first be established,” Okupe said, but noted that the House “did not find Mrs Oduah guilty of corruption, but a vi-

olation of process”. Assessing the performance of the government this year, Okupe said insurgency had been curtailed “even though Boko Haram still carry out strikes”. He said the insurgency, which was going on in about nine states and the Federal Capital Territory, had been confined to mainly Borno State and partly Yobe. He said: “It is regrettable that despite government’s offer of amnesty to repentant members of the terrorist group - in line with the appeal of prominent northern leaders and the setting up of a Presidential Committee to that effect, the Boko Harm sect spurned the gesture and scaled up its criminal and inhuman assault on the Nigerian people. Government was, therefore, left with no other option than to apply stricter measures to bring the situation under control.” Okupe said the government would not go back on its plan to end importation of rice by 2015, adding that it is confident

that local farmers will meet the demand. States have entered into agreements with the federal government to encourage local farmers by buying the envisaged surplus in 2014. The farmers, he said, produced over eight million tonnes of food this year, “which is 70 per cent higher than the set target of five million tonnes”. Okupe said 10 million farmers had been registered and given biometric identification cards up from 4.2 million registered last year. He reeled out the attainments of the government in power generation, the economy, aviation, education, roads and rail developments. He added that national conference billed to start early next year will tackle fundamental structural problems militating against growth, besides building a national consensus and a more enduring constitutional framework.

NEXIM to raise $60m for shipping line Continued from page 1

their goods. We recognise that two of the routes we have designated will carry passengers and cargoes.” The bank chief noted that trade is less than 10 per cent among member-countries of ECOWAS, which have about 318 to 320 million people. He said: “Nigeria controls 170 million of that population. Even in the political and financial institutions owned by ECOWAS, Nigeria is a domi-

nant trading partner. So, whatever we can do to ease trade within the sub-region, we are actually doing it for Nigeria. That is why we came out with that initiative. He said the initiative is completely the business of the private sector. Orya also sought the assistance of the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS) to provide foreigners, who are investing in Nigeria, necessary technical expertise.

Nigerian pilgrims visit Jericho

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IGERIAN pilgrims participating in this year’s Christmas pilgrimage, on Sunday prayed at the Mountain of Temptation Church for God’s intervention in efforts to strengthen Nigeria’s peace, security and unity. The group also visited some holy sites in the ancient city of Jericho and the Dead Sea. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in Jericho, the pilgrims visited the Mountain of Temptation, which is believed to be the place where Jesus Christ fasted for forty days and forty nights.

The ancient Jericho City is of great spiritual significance to Christians because of the miraculous conquest of the city by Joshua, the Jewish leader, during the exodus of the Israelites to the Promised Land. It is believed to be the site where Joshua commanded the Israelites to go round the fortified Wall of Jericho seven times singing, following which the wall fell, while the city was captured. The pilgrims proceeded from Jericho to River Jordan where they took their bath for spiritual cleansing.

Jonathan to Obasanjo: I’m fighting corruption

Continued from page 1

his second term aspiration either with Obasanjo or four African leaders. The letter was delivered at about 8pm last night to Obasanjo in Abeokuta. As a matter of courtesy, Jonathan ensured the receipt of the letter by Obasanjo before making his copy public, a source said. There were indications last night that Jonathan’s reply might provoke a second letter from Obasanjo. But the President seemed emotional on the allegation of training snipers to kill 1,000 people on watch-list of the government. Jonathan said: “Perhaps the most invidious accusation in your letter is the allegation that I have placed over one thousand Nigerians on a political watch list, and that I am training snipers and other militia to assassinate people. Baba, I don’t know where you got that from but you do me grave injustice in not only lending credence to such baseless rumours, but also publicising it. You mentioned God 17 times in your letter. Can you as a Christian hold the Bible and say that you truly believe this allegation? “The allegation of training snipers to assassinate political opponents is particularly in-

I believe in what I wrote to Jonathan, Obasanjo insists

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ORE fact emerged yesterday on the visit of All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday. Obasanjo, who wrote a critical letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, was said to have insisted that he stood by the issues he raised in his letter. He said he wrote the letter in the larger interest of the survival of Nigeria and its democracy, contrary to the notion that he was self-seeking, The Nation learnt. The letter contained many allegations, including that Jonathan was training snipers. The former President, according to sources, said he was ready to prove the allegations. Obasanjo reportedly opened up to some top leaders of the APC at a closeddoor session in Abeokuta. It was gathered that although the exPresident had warmly received all memcomprehensible to me. Since I started my political career as a deputy governor, I have never been associated with any form of political violence. “I have been a President for over three years now, with a lot of challenges and opposition mainly from the high and mighty. There have certainly been cases of political assassination since the advent of our Fourth Republic, but as you well know, none of them occurred under my leadership.

From Yusuf Alli, Abuja

bers of the entourage, he bared his mind to select few on the state of the nation. A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “After the initial obeisance, banters, and the purpose of the APC mission, the ex-President had audience with a group of six or seven leaders. “He told the them that he believed in what he wrote and he had no regrets for doing so. He said he was not ‘self-seeking’ in writing President Jonathan. “The ex-President also told the team that ‘if it is necessary, I will provide evidence on some of the issues. I have my facts.’ Another source said the ex-President’s body language was a “bit stronger on his point on snipers but he did not go into details”. Responding to a question, the source added: “Obasanjo restated his faith in a united and indivisible Nigeria. He

“Regarding the over one thousand people you say are on a political watch list, I urge you to kindly tell Nigerians who they are and what agencies of government are ‘watching’ them. “Your allegation that I am using security operatives to harass people is also baseless. Nigerians are waiting for your evidence of proof. That was an accusation made against previous administrations, including yours, but it is certainly not my

also pleaded with APC leaders to remain committed to one Nigeria, irrespective of the political situation in the country.” The source quoted Obasanjo as saying: “I did not write the letter to curry favour or seek undue attention but at my age, I should talk when things are going wrong. I am not on a self-seeking mission.” The source said Obasanjo declared that he would not leave the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). On the mission of APC leaders, a third source said a National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu captured it in his interview with reporters that they were not out to woo Obasanjo. “In fact, the APC leaders told Obasanjo that having consulted with past leaders on the state of the nation; they also owed him a duty to brief him on why they are after a change of leadership in 2015.”

style and will never be. “Again, if you insist on the spurious claim that some of your relatives and friends are being harassed, I urge you to name them and tell Nigerians what agencies of my administration are harassing them. “I also find it difficult to believe that you will accuse me of assisting murderers, or assigning a presidential delegation to welcome a murderer. This is a most unconscionable and untrue allegation. It is incumbent

on me to remind you that I am fully conscious of the dictates of my responsibilities to God and our dear nation. “It is my hope that devious elements will not take advantage of your baseless allegation to engage in brazen and wanton assassination of high profile politicians as before, hiding under the alibi your “open letter” has provided for them. “Nevertheless, I have directed the security agencies and requested the National Human

Rights Commission to carry out a thorough investigation of these criminal allegations and make their findings public.” Jonathan said he suspected Obasanjo’s letter was laced with a motive to instigate subversion of his administration. He said he could not gloss over Obasanjo’s allegation because his similar letters against some administrations, ex-President Shehu Shagari’s had led to coup d’etat. He listed 10 reasons why it was imperative to reply Obasanjo. “But I feel obliged to reply your letter for a number of reasons: one, you formally requested for a reply and not sending you one will be interpreted as ignoring a former President. “Secondly, Nigerians know the role you have played in my political life and given the unfortunate tone of your letter, clearly, the grapes have gone sour. Therefore, my side of the Continued on page 55

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THE NATION MONDAY DECEMBER 23, 2013

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NEWS

‘Increased gas supply for power sector in 2014’ From John Ofikhenua, Abuja

MORE gas will be supplied to the power sector as from January with the expected increased domestic gas supply and a higher price from $1.8 to $2 per standard cubic feet, it has been learnt. Besides, the sector is expected to witness aggregate loss reduction by 2014, according to the Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Sam Amadi. Dr Amadi addressed reporters at the weekend in Abuja on the development. He said: “We can’t sell and expect it to go below the average of government’s expectation; we expect it to go higher. By 2014, as the losses are being reduced and things get proper, maybe we can expect it to quickly meet their commitment in terms of loss reduction.” The NERC chief said the power sector, under the private owners, has begun to stand well. Amadi noted that some of the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs), which were not remitting to the electricity market before their sales, have started remitting. He said: “The Yola DISCO had never remitted any money to this market in the last two years. It even requested for N200 million before the handover to settle salaries. But the good news is that Yola remitted about N29 million for the first time because it has sorted itself out. It is not asking for any money again. “So, the issue of the financial validity of this market has been solved and we have been very pragmatic about it. “This period was the most stressful for the new owners but we tried to make them calm. A market could be volatile and come from the market perception of uncertainties, of losses, even before the losses occur.”

NCC: 60,000 telecoms subscribers ported their lines From Tayo Johnson, Ibadan

The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has said over 60,000 subscribers of the 110 million registered telecommunication subscribers have successfully ported their lines. The Executive Commissioner of Stakeholders’ Management of the NCC, Okechukwu Itanyi, spoke in Oyo town, Oyo State, at the weekend during the 11th edition of Consumer Town Hall meeting. He attributed the low patronage of the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) technology to non-understanding of the process and benefits among the consumers. Itanyi, who was represented by Dr Femi Atoyebi, the Deputy Director of Consumer Affairs at the NCC, said it was necessary to enlighten subscribers of the benefit of the technology. According to him, the technology would help reduce tariffs considerably while promoting healthy competition in the industry.

•Rev. Kanyin Ajayi (fourth left) and Rev Mrs Dayo Kufeji (third right) with members of the British Imperial Military Band at the Emmanuel Chapel Methodist Church Nigeria’s Christmas Concert 2013 in Lagos... yesterday. PHOTO:NIYI ADENIRAN

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PDP to lose more governors, lawmakers, says Edo SSG

ORE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors, senators and members of the House of Representatives would dump the party for the All Progressives Congress (APC) next year, Secretary to Edo State Government, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere has said. Ihonvbere spoke at the weekend when he received a delegation of Edo In Safe Hands, a political group at the Government House. He called on members of the APC to work hard to become the ruling party. The activist said: “Let me say that we have a lot of work to do in the coming year and we thank God that our party is now in the majority in the House of Rep-

FromOsemwengie Ben Ogbemudia, Benin

resentatives. We will soon be in the majority in the Senate if we work hard and if this character of impunity and dictatorship continues in the PDP. “If somebody told me we will have this number of governors in this number of states as APC states, I will ask the person which crystal ball did you look at, but politics in Nigeria works in different ways and if the Federal Government and the PDP people continue to behave the way they are behaving, it is very clear they will lose more Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members to the APC.

“When you visit pain, violence, indiscipline, arrogance of power, corruption, gross dictatorship, and violation of the Constitution, it gets to a point when the people will stop and reflect and decide to take another part. I think that part which our people have decided to take is the APC and we pray to God to give us the ability, energy, vision, commitment, the right leader to manage this progress. “What is going on now in the nation is giving all of us serious concern; whether 2015 will come at all or what will now happen. When you look at the indictment of the Aviation Ministter by the House of Representatives, whether

you look at the missing $50billion or previous criminal and unpardonable looting from Siemens to Halliburton to the housing scam, or the $50billion they want to use to buy telephones for farmers and I have not seen one phone in the hand of a farmer that came from the Federal Government. “I want to thank everyone for the support for the Comrade Governor. He deserves our prayers and encouragement. He is a leader who has that courage to stand out and say follow me and he is able to combine in him, several qualities of integrity, credibility, ability to listen to people and respond accordingly.”

IGP directs police chiefs to ensure tight security at Yuletide

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NSPECTOR-GENERAL of Police (IGP) Mohammed Abubakar yesterday directed the specialised units of the police to join forces with the conventional police in providing water-tight security during the Yuletide. The IGP gave the directive in a statement in Abuja by Force spokesman, CSP Frank Mba, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP). The specialised units of the police include the Police Mobile Force (Mopol), CounterTerrorism Unit, Special Protection Unit, Federal Highway Patrol and Explosive Ordnance Department. The statement said Abubakar also directed the Assistant Inspectors-General of Police (AIGs) in charge of the

12 zonal police commands and Commissioners of Police (CPs) in charge of the 36 states to reorganise their security infrastructure. It said the IGP enjoined the officers to restructure their security strategy in line with their local environment and prevailing security situation to adequately protect the people during the period. “Covert operations, round-the-clock surveillance and robust vehicular patrols are being intensified, while particular attention is now constantly paid to strategic public places,” the statement said. It noted that tangible attention was being paid to places like worship and rec-

reation centres, shopping malls, motor parks, strategic highways and government installations, to forestall criminal activities and guarantee security. Besides, the statement conveyed the IGP’s felicitations to Christians as they join other Christians across the world for the Christmas celebrations. It said Abubakar urged Christians to continue to observe the teachings of Jesus Christ by propagating peace, demonstrating love and forgiveness, while promoting harmonious coexistence with others, irrespective of their religious, ethnic or political leanings. The statement said the IGP thanked Nigerians for their

•Abubakar

understanding and renewed cooperation with the police in 2013, promising better service delivery from the police in the years ahead. It said Abuabakar urged Nigerians to strengthen their partnership with the police and other security agencies by providing useful information that would assist in curbing criminality.

Boko Haram: Families of soldiers in Bama evacuated

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O maintain the war against Boko Haram insurgents by the Defence Headquarters, families of all soldiers in Kuru Mohammed Barracks in Bama have been evacuated. The evacuation is to screen the population in the barracks and limit the number of casualties during attacks against the insurgents along Bama-Cameroon borders route. The action will also en-

From Yusuf Alli, Northern Operation

able the military to sweep the barracks of mines which might have been planted by the insurgents. The insurgents had at dawn on Friday attacked the barracks leading to the killing of many Boko Haram members and the death of about 15 soldiers and civilians.

The military was still taking stock of the death toll as at press time on Sunday. It ws gathered that the Defence Headquarters decided to evacuate the families of all soldiers in the barracks following intelligence report of likely infiltration or mix up of insurgents with residents. A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “As at Saturday, we have evacu-

ated the families of soldiers in the barracks to safer and less vulnerable places. “As I am talking to you, only troops are living in the barracks in line with their calling. This temporary measure was typical of what happens during a war. We have declared total war against Boko Haram in the Bama –Cameroon borders axis.”

‘Politicians should learn from Achebe’s Arrow of God’ By Evelyn Osagie

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RROW of God, one of the popular books by the late literary icon, Chinua Achebe, has a message for today’s politicians, a former House of Representatives member, Dr Wale Okediran, has said. Okediran, a renowned writer, spoke in Lagos on the preparation for the 50th year of the publication of the novel. The former lawmaker noted that the lessons the late Achebe packed into the largely fictional work need to be learnt by the nation’s politicians. He said Arrow of God explores the relationship between power and leadership, as exemplified by the elite of a community, as well as the power play among holders of such powers in trust for the people they lead. Okediran said the book “is instructive to Nigeria of today and Africa with regard to the presence or lack of development as a result of inappropriate exercise of power and leadership”. The writer recalled the power play between the character, Ezeulu, his equally powerful antagonists and the choice the people are left to make amidst all these. Okediran, who is also the National Organising Committee Chairman of Arrow of God @ 50 Celebrations, said all is set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the novel next year. He said the book’s anniversary would be marked with an international colloquium, tagged: Arrow of God @ 50 International Colloquium in over 70 countries, including Nigeria. The literature teacher said other literary activities on the celebrations will hold in seven Nigerian cities - Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Awka, Sokoto, Ogidi and Otuoke. Okediran said: “The colloquium, in the spirit of the proposed National Conference in the country, would also negotiate the ever deepening social divides and increased alienation among sub-sections of the Nigerian society by unraveling the democratic fabric on which the future stability and legitimacy depends. The celebrations are not only about the author and his work but also about literature and reading culture. Achebe’s family is in support of the celebrations.”


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THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

NEWS Doctors threaten indefinite strike from Jan. 6

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HE Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has threatened to begin an indefinite strike on January 6, if its demands are not met by the Federal Government. NMA National President Osahon Enabulele said yesterday that doctors in public hospitals would end their five-day warning strike and resume duty today. Enabulele, in a statement in Lagos, said all doctors in the public health sector would resume full services at 8am today. On December 15, doctors began a nationwide strike to protest poor working conditions, inadequate funding and poor infrastructure in the public health sector. Enabulele said: “NMA wishes to inform the public that doctors in the public health sector will resume services today.

“This is in line with our earlier promise to give prime consideration to the Yuletide in the prosecution of our warning strike. “It is also to give another opportunity to the Federal Government to concretely resolve all the demands of the NMA, for which it first issued a 21-day ultimatum on September 2. “Doctors will begin a full strike from 8am on January 6, 2014, if the government does not satisfactorily resolve our demands. “We urge well-meaning Nigerians to assist in the resolution of our demands, which include appropriate funding of the healthcare system, expansion of universal health coverage to all Nigerians and health infrastructure upgrade.” Activities in all government-owned hospitals nationwide were paralysed during the five-day strike by doctors.

Insiders responsible for piracy in Nigerian waters, says Naval Chief

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HE Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Dele Ezeoba, has said incessant attacks on ships in Nigerian waters, especially in the Niger Delta, should be blamed on insiders. Ezeoba spoke in Brass, Bayelsa State, after inaugurating the Maritime Regional Awareness Capability (RMAC) Centre. He was reacting to the recent attack on a Marshal Islandflagged vessel, MT. ALCHE, and the abduction of a Ukrainian captain and a Greek engineer by pirates off the coast of Brass. The Niger Delta has continued to witness the kidnapping

From Mike Odiegwu Yenagoa

of expatriates for ransom, despite the huge money spent on the amnesty programme for ex-militants. In most cases, companies are compelled to pay huge amounts of money as ransom for the release of their workers by the kidnappers. Recently, a company was said to have paid N55 million to secure the release of two expatriates, who were held by gunmen in the creeks of Amasoma, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. A security source, who

pleaded anonymity, said the firm that owns MT. ALCHE had intensified negotiations with the pirates for the release of the Ukrainian and the Greek. Ezeoba said investigations of similar incidents in the past by the navy showed that some crew members told the pirates the locations of their vessels. The Naval Chief said RMAC has surveillance capability of identifying piracy, illegal oil bunkering and other criminal activities hundreds of kilometres within the maritime space. Ezeoba said though no society was devoid of criminality, the Nigerian maritime space

was safe, despite pockets of criminal activities. He said: “In every society, you must have incidences of criminality. If in two to five months, you have one incident of criminality, it tells us that the maritime space is safe. “We are doing the best we can, but that will not take away the fact that, at some points, we have gaps and these gaps are not created out of the blues. “If you take a census of what happened from investigations, you will discover that the vessel that was stolen had insiders onboard, who collaborated with the bad guys for that incident to occur. I am talking from experience.”

Senator denies visiting Obasanjo with APC leaders

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RO-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) Senator Effiong Bob has said he was not among the All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders, who visited former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the weekend. In a statement, Bob’s media aide, Mr. Ernest Udokang, described media reports that the ex-lawmaker had defected to the APC as the “handiwork of political delinquents, whose intention is to mislead the public with the aim of scoring cheap political points”. Udokang said Bob had a sleepless night after reading the report. He said: “Nothing could be farther from the truth. Sena-

From Sanni Onogu, Abuja

tor Bob, a staunch member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has never declared for nor indicated any intention to be a member of the APC or any other party. “It therefore amounts to gross mischief for anybody to imagine that he was in the delegation that went to lobby the former President to join the APC, when he is not even a member of the party. “Bob, who joined the PDP from inception, was recently elected chairman of the PDP Caucus of the Senators Forum. “He contested election to the Senate on the platform of the PDP in 2003, where he served two terms.”

First Nation Airways expands services

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IRST Nation Airways has expanded its services on the LagosPort Harcourt route. It has provided more seats and traveling options on the route. In a statement, the airline’s spokesman, Luke TerverUzer, said: “First Nation Airways expanded its services between Lagos and Port Harcourt on Sunday (yesterday) to ease air travel congestion and provide additional seats and options to the flying public. First Nation Airways will operate two flights daily, departing from Lagos.

By Kelvin Osa Okunbor

“The airline is also offering season promotions of low fares, subject to availability on the route. Expansion on the Lagos-Port Harcourt route is following the airline’s well-received service between Lagos and Abuja. “The airline has deployed a good aircraft on its routes. It is installed with AFIRS 220 iridium satellite global communication equipment, one of the very few aircraft with this state-of-the-art Satellite Navigation (SATNAV) equipment in West Africa.”

‘NCP not merging with another party’

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By Emmanuel Oladesu

HE National Conscience Party (NCP) has not merged with any political party, its National Chairman, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, said yesterday. The party also denied having an alliance with any party ahead of the 2015 general elections. NCP said its recent National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), never deliberated on those issues. Tanko, who addressed reporters in Lagos, said the NCP would not compromise its identity by merging with another party. According to him, though NCP is holding preliminary talks with some political parties, the modalities for any alliance have not been worked out. Tanko said: “I can categorically say that consultation is ongoing on alliance, but there is no alliance yet.” The politician cautioned the National Assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) against initiating laws that could reduce the number of parties.

•Miss. Matanrareje (middle) flanked by Otunba Funsho Ajayi and his wife, Yinka...at the weekend at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos. PHOTO: ISAAC JIMOH AYODELE

Persons with disabilities need help, says beauty queen M

ISS Nigeria in Florida Awoyemi Matanrareje has urged Nigerians to assist people with disabilities. She said it is one of the ways to give back to society . Miss Matanrareje described the rising number of persons with disabilities on the streets as evidence that the society had forgotten them. She spoke with reporters at the weekend on her arrival at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, aboard United Airlines. Miss Matanrareje is in Nigeria for a two-week cultural/ beauty tour and the inauguration of her pet project, targeted at caring for people with disabilities. The nursing graduate said she will visit the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan; and the Governor of her home state (Ondo), Dr. Olusegun Mimiko. Miss Matanrareje said she is talking to some organisations and individuals in Florida to assist with funds to care for people with disabilities. She said: “I am home for the take off of my pet project, which is opening a home for people with physical, mental and emotional disabilities. The home will also target women with emotional and other challenges . “Part of my mission in Nigeria is to meet Dame Jonathan to discuss the project and ways to uplift the condi-

By Kelvin Osa Okunbor

tions of women living with many challenges. “In the course of my tour, I will meet with Governor Mimiko and Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole to discuss many humanitarian activities. “Part of the reasons I am embarking on this cultural tour is to project the culture of our people, because a lot of people who live in the United States (U.S.) hear a lot about Nigeria but do not know much about our culture. I am here to get enough information to educate such people.

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“I am also visiting some people to solicit financial assistance for my project because I cannot do it alone.” On why her pet project is target at people with disabilities, Miss Matanrareje said her educational background in nursing stands her in good stead to attend to people’s mental and emotional challenges. She said: “I decided to focus on this area because it is compatible with my professional training. In addition, I am focussing on this because my little brother had challenges in a related area. “He had a disability grow-

ing up and did not walk until age five. He was diagnosed of a certain syndrome, but I am happy he is victorious and now doing well. I also have a relative who walks with crutches and I am touched to offer such assistance to people in that category. “When you walk the streets of Nigeria, there are a lot people with disabilities and we need to come to their rescue. This is because the whole community has forgotten about them. We need to show them love. Such people need a home, a place where they can feel loved and cared for and not continue to think that the whole community has forgotten them .”

Reps won't react to impeachment calls

HE House of Representatives has said it will not respond to calls for the removal of President Goodluck Jonathan. The House has also backed the defection of 37 lawmakers from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), saying the defection was in line with the constitution. Following the reactions to former President Olusegun Obasanjo's letter to President Goodluck

From Victor Oluwasegun and Dele Anofi, Abuja

Jonathan, Deputy Spokesman Victor Ogene said the House would not react to issues that are not officially referred to it. "The National Assembly, as an institution, does not respond to calls. It deals with issues that come before it. You either come by way of a motion, petition or by way of introducing a Bill. So far, none of these has happened as far as that matter is concerned," Ogene said.

He said the defection of 37 PDP members to the APC was democratic and that there has not been any reason to remove the leadership of the House because of the development. On the removal of House leadership, Ogene said the criteria for positions of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker were spelt out in the Constitution and the House rules, adding that the House was constitutionally empowered to regulate its own affairs.


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

7

NEWS

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Man nabbed with gun at Fayemi’s aide’s home

MAN, Oyediran Afolabi, was arrested at the weekend with a gun at the home of the Senior Special Assistant to the Ekiti State Governor on Internal Security, Mr. Deji Adesokan, at Fajuyi Estate in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital. Afolabi is said to be an aide to the member representing Ekiti Central Constituency 1 in the House of Representatives, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele, who is a governorship aspirant of the Labour Party (LP). It was gathered that Afolabi and Oluwafemi Sunday, "illegally gained entrance" into Adesokan's home around 8pm on Friday with a loaded gun. Sources said they were apprehended by security guards in the compound, who raised the alarm, drawing the attention of neighbours. The suspects were taken to the police station on New Iyin Road. Afolabi said he came to see Tope at the estate. Sunday said he came from Akure to "know" Adesokan. But Tope, who Afolabi claimed he went to see in the estate, said he had not seen Afolabi in a long time and had been avoiding him because of his "criminal tendencies". When Afolabi's mobile phone was checked by security agents, his call logs showed that he telephoned Bamidele three times that evening. It also showed that he phoned three persons with strange names - "Bullet", "Idajo" and "Butcher". He also had three telephone numbers of the governor of a neighbouring state on his contact list. Adesokan, popularly called Jaruu, told the police that two cars, a black Toyota Corolla and a white Nissan, trailed him

•Bamidele disowns suspect •Police: suspects not linked to any party From Sulaiman Salawudeen, Ado-Ekiti

from a petrol station to his home that evening. He said he became more suspicious when the white Nissan kept going round his house. Adesokan said the vehicle drove past his house three times, adding that on the third time, Afolabi alighted and headed for his (Adesokan's) gate. He said Afolabi was accompanied by Sunday. Adesokan said immediately they entered his compound, his security guards apprehended them and handed them over to the police. He said the black Toyota Corrolla, which was parked adjacent to his house with the engine running and with the driver and an unidentified man seated in the car, sped off immediately Afolabi and Sunday were apprehended. A resident of the estate said around 1am about two weeks ago, he saw two men in dark overalls climbing the roof of the home of the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Yemi Adaramodu, which shares a fence with Adesokan's home. He said the men alighted after about 10 minutes when they did not meet anybody in the compound. Fajuyi Estate is home to many government officials. Police spokesman Victor Olu-Babayemi said the suspects had not been linked to any party. He said: "A search conducted on the suspects and their vehicle revealed an English Barreta pistol loaded with eight rounds of

ammunition. Also recovered, were two para-military belts and some incriminating documents. "When the men were questioned, they claimed to be members of the Ekiti State Vigilance Group, but the group's commandant disowned them." In a statement, Bamidele's media aide, Mr. Ahmed Salami, said his boss had no link with the suspects and urged the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to probe the incident. He said: "We urge the IGP, the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS) and other security agencies to investigate this matter and ensure that anyone found culpable is brought to book in earnest." Ahmed said Bamidele has no aide known as Oyediran. The statement reads: "Nothing can be farther from the truth than this and it represents another failed and desperate attempt by Governor Kayode Fayemi and his cronies to pull Bamidele down from his towering political heights by all means. "Without mincing words, it is clear to us that the linking of Oyediran's arrest to Bamidele is a deliberate attempt to malign his (Bamidele's) image and a calculated ploy to discredit his personality, owing basically to his rising political profile and growing popularity as an aspirant for the forthcoming governorship election. "It is also glaring that this defamation of character is suggestive of the desperation of the Fayemi administration and the APC leadership in Ekiti to ma-

nipulate the people and play on their intelligence, with a view to gaining public sympathy." The All Progressives Congress (APC) said the suspects' arrest has vindicated the party's position that Bamidele should be held responsible for the political violence in the state. In a statement by its Publicity Director, Segun Dipe, APC said: "The arrest of the political roughnecks, who forced their way into Adesokan's home, with the intention of assassinating him, did not come as a surprise to us. "We saw this coming. We sensitised and will continue to sensitise the people to be watchful, as they have a son who now exhibits the traits of William Shakespeare's Macbeth and who is ready to apply the strategies of Macbeth (killing and maiming) to get to the top of his political career. "He keeps importing thugs from neighbouring states into Ekiti to unleash mayhem on the same people he aspires to govern. Now that the breeze has blown and we have seen the romp of the fowl, their acts are becoming predictable. There is nothing else to do than to keep nabbing them before they carry out their nefarious acts. "Their intention is to make the state ungovernable for the APC government by creating crisis and confusion like it happened in Emure-Ekiti. We hope the sharp eyes of security operatives will continue to fish them out."

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Makinde preaches unity

ORMER Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria Archbishop Sunday Ola Makinde has urged Nigerians to live in unity. He spoke at the weekend at the 23rd Inter-denominational Nine Lessons and Christmas Carol of the Cherubim & Seraphim Movement Church, Surulere District, Sub-Headquarters, Km 4, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Lagos. Archbishop Makinde urged Christians to always perform their civic responsibilities, such as participating in census, paying tax and voting. He said: “Our Lord Jesus Christ supports the performance of civic responsibilities. He said ‘Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” The General Leader/Chairman, Cherubim & Seraphim Church Movement, Surulere District, Prophet G.O. Fakeye, urged Nigerians, irrespective of religious and ethnic differences, to live in harmony.

By Tokunbo Ogunsami

He advocated religious tolerance, adding: “As we approach 2015, Christians should vote for politicians who will cater for the masses.” Dignitaries at the event included the Deputy Governor, Princess Adejoke OrelopeAdefulire; the governor’s wife, Dame Abimbola Fashola; Ogun State Deputy Governor Prince Segun Adesegun; Gen. Oladipo Diya (rtd.); Lagos State Chief Judge, Justice Ayo Phillips; the Iyaloja-General, Mrs. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo; the Director-General, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Prof. Bola Akinterinwa; Senior Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Religion (Christian) Dr. Sam Ogedengbe and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Deputy Governor Dr. Sarah Omotunde Alade, among others.

Ajimobi: quacks responsible for building collapse

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YO State Governor Abiola Ajimobi has attributed incessant building collapse in the country to the patronage of quacks. He spoke at the weekend in his office in Ibadan, the state capital, while hosting members of the Nigerian Institute of Building, led by the National President, Mr. Tunde Lasabi. Ajimobi said many lives and property had been lost to avoidable incidents. He described the institute as”strategic” in the development of any society, pledging to assist it in curbing building collapse in the state. `Ajimobi said: “It is unfortunate that most Nigerians like to short-circuit things by not making use of professional builders.” He said the department of building technology would be established at the Technical University, Ibadan. Lasabi hailed the administration on its urban renewal programme, infrastructural development and transformation of the state.

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Odu’a gets chairman

HIEF Isaac Akintade has been appointed chairman of the Odu’a Investment Company Limited with effect from December 4. He is the director representing Ondo State on the board. Akintade succeeded Chief Sharafadeen Alli, the director representing Oyo State on the board. He is a seasoned banker and successful businessman, whose working experience started at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and spans through the public and private sectors. Akintade has held several

From Tayo Johnson, Ibadan

appointments, such as: Director, Ekimogun Micro-finance Bank; Director, Owena Oil and Gas; and Managing Director, Famak Petroleum Limited, among others. At his swearing-in, Akintade promise to uphold the heritage of the company’s founding fathers. He said: “I will engage in activities that will promote and enhance rapid economic, industrial and human resources development in our catchment areas and build on the efforts of the founding fathers of the company.”

Osun offers free train rides

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•Members of the Apostolic Faith Choir singing at the Christmas Concert tagged: Jesus the light of the World at the Anthony Village, Lagos venue...yesterday.

Age falsification: Ondo pardons 2,200 workers

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HE Ondo State government has pardoned over 2,200 workers, whose salaries were withheld, following their indictment for age falsification and other related offences. The Head of Service (HoS), Toyin Akinkuotu, told reporters at the weekend that

From Damisi Ojo, Akure

the names of the indicted workers, which were removed from the payroll, would be restored with effect from this month. Akinkuotu said: "Affected workers in the Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM)

and mainstream service, who are still on the payroll, are warned, while those in the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and Local Government Service Commission, whose names were removed from the vouchers, are to be restored with effect from this month. This will, how-

Lagos countdown sponsors excite residents with discounts

ever, be after they have been given clearance letters from the HoS. The intervening period will be converted to leave of absence without pay. "Workers at TESCOM, who are yet to submit their Primary School Leaving Certificates, are to do so within two weeks."

From Adesoji Adeniyi, Osogbo

HE Osun State government will offer free train rides to travellers from Lagos to Osun during the Yuletide. In a statement, Commissioner for Commerce, Industry, Cooperatives and Empowerment Ismail Jayeoba-Alagbada said the train will leave Lagos tomorrow at 10am and leave Osogbo for Lagos on Saturday (Dec 28) at 10am. He said: “On December 31 at 10am, the train will leave Lagos for Osogbo and return to Lagos on January 5 at 10am." Jayeoba-Alagbada said the free ride was to ensure hitchfree transportation during the Yuletide. He said: “The gesture by the Governor Rauf Aregbesola administration to people willing to come home during Christmas and New Year celebrations is aimed at easing transportation during this hectic period. “The free train ride, which started in 2011, has become a regular gesture to both Christians and Muslims during festive periods. With this arrangement, thegovernment had since put an end to problems encountered by commuters during these periods. “We urge people coming from Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states to seize the free train opportunity to come and celebrate Christmas and New Year in Osun with their relatives.”


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

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NEWS N200m for pilots’ training

One killed in Benue clash

By Kelvin Osa Okunbor

KWARA State government has invested over N200 million to train pilots at the International Aviation College (IAC), Ilorin, Acting Rector Capt Nuhu Abdulkarim has said. Abdulkareem said the government also approved additional N12 million to train three graduate pilots as instructors in South Africa. He said the state would upgrade the status of the college by investing in training its instructors. The Abdulkarim said: ”Let Nigerians start sponsoring people. The capacity to train and the standard to train here is comparable to training institutions in South Africa and other parts of the world.” He spoke of partnership with the Air Force, which sent 25 of its personnel for training at the college.

Kwankwaso to complete projects From Kolade Adeyemi, Kano

KANO State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso yesterday assured residents that the government will complete capital projects in tertiary institutions. The governor spoke at a meeting with stakeholders at the Government House, Kano. He said this would improve and ensure the progress and delivery of qualitative education. Among the projects are lecture halls, office complexes, laboratories, and infrastructure. “These on-going projects were carefully selected to help tackle the problems bedevilling the higher education sector,” Kwankwaso said. The governor urged the schools’ management to monitor the contractors.

2015: Kwara PDP confident From Adekunle Jimoh, Ilorin

SOME Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members yesterday in Ajase-Ipo, Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State, said the party is confident of victory in 2015. The politicians were led by the senator representing Kwara South, Simon Ajibola and a former senator from the same district, Makanjuola Ajadi. Ajibola said: “Our chances of winning are so bright. We are sure and I am assuring that in 2015, PDP will form the government of Kwara State. “We have assembled here today and we now have freedom to chart our own course.” Ajadi said: “ We are here with PDP. The defection will not affect the progress of PDP in the state. PDP will still win in 2015.” He described the suspension of a member of the House of Assemby, Iliasu Ibrahim, as “unfair”.

From Uja Emmanuel, Makurdi

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•Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo (centre front row), his deputy, Tha'anda Jason Rubainu (third left) with members of Neighbour-to-Neighbour when the group visited the Government House.

Suntai visits Abuja for consultations

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ARABA State Governor Danbaba Suntai was in Abuja yesterday for consultations on his readiness to resume duties. But he may have to wait till the legal crisis on the letter he transmitted to the House of Assembly is resolved. Suntai, who stayed with a family member in Asokoro, met some top politicians. Although Suntai was initially scheduled to worship at Dunamis Church in Durumi, the plan was called off at the last minute. A source said: "The governor was here to confer with top politicians and some friends. He stayed in a house at Asokoro. He has

From Yusuf Alli, Abuja

left for Jalingo. "Constitutionally, he has resumed since he transmitted the letter to the House of Assembly but the letter was rejected, leading to a legal dispute. "He is eager to resume duties as soon as the legal logjam is sorted out. "I think his trip had to do with the search for political solution to the resumption crisis in Taraba State. Asked about Suntai's state of health, the source said: "I think he is no longer going for treatment abroad. He is fit to resume." "On the church service, the governor changed plans."

The House of Assembly had, in August, rejected a letter from Suntai, on his readiness to resume duties. Most members of the Assembly suspected that Suntai did not write the letter. The governor headed to the State High Court to seek the interpretation of Section 190 of the 1999 Constitution. The section says: "If a governor transmits a written declaration that he is proceeding on a vacation or he is otherwise unable to discharge his duties his functions shall be discharged by his deputy in an acting capacity until he transmits to the Speaker of the House of Assembly a written declaration to the contrary."

Early October, the governor sought an out-of-court settlement, forcing Justice Ali Andenyatso to adjourn the matter till October 28. But Suntai's family insisted on going ahead with the matter, leading to the ruling on the application for the transfer of the matter to the Court of Appeal as requested by the Taraba Assembly. Sources said last night that the governor may know his fate next year. Another source added: "There are moves to find a midstream solution to the crisis in Taraba State. "This is why we are having consultations. Some stakeholders are opposed to the court process."

Ahmed: separate religion from politics

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WARA State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed has urged religious leaders to separate religion from partisanship. The governor called on religious bodies to lift the poor out of despondency, poverty and disposition. Ahmed spoke at the weekend at the National Conference of Nasrul-lahil-fath Society of Nigeria (NASFAT) in Ilorin, the state capital. Such philanthropic gestures, according to him, were boundless kindness that could enhance the well being of humanity.

From Adekunle Jimoh, Ilorin

“Kindness is all encompassing. No matter our station in life, we are capable of and should show kindness to all that we encounter,” he said. Ahmed described religion as a personal thing that should be practised with respect for the rights of others to practise their faith. The governor added that his administration was pursuing programmes and policies that could enhance infrastructural and human

capital development. “In 2014, we’ll implement get more youths into work, boost infrastructure and stimulate greater commercial activities.” The guest lecturer, Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN), said it had been difficult attaining national unity owing to lack of co-existence and social harmony. Ali said such unity must be built on the basis of “clear and solid foundation to give no room for any misinterpretation.” The lecture is entitled: “National Unity, a precur-

sor to development-Islamic perspectives.” Represented by a lecturer of law, University of Ilorin, Prof Abdulwahab Egbewole, he added that for national unity to be attained, there must be right to dignity and equality of man, justice, freedom and protection of citizens, irrespective of their religious affinities. “Any society where people are not free to express their mind will not progress and there would be no unity. To have national unity, we must have core values and rallying points.”

NHRC chair faults report on killings

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HAIRMAN of the National Human Rights Commission Prof Chidi Odinkalu has faulted a Human Right Watch (HRW) report ,which blamed the sectarian violence in Plateau and Kaduna states on inaction. HRW, in the report of its study of sectarian killings in the two states, between 2010 and 2011, also blamed the ethno-religious violence on government’s reluctance to confront and punish culprits, ineffectiveness of the nation’s criminal justice system and police’ inability to conduct thorough investigation. The HRW’s report titled:

From Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

“Leave everything to God: Accountability for intercommunal violence in Plateau and Kaduna states, Nigeria,” catalogued horrific sectarian violence in both states, in which over 3,000 people have died since 2010. In a letter to HRW’s Executive Director Kenneth Roth, Odinkalu faulted the group for ignoring ample materials, which would have helped it to reach a different conclusion. He accused HRW of proceeding with a fixed viewpoint that the crises in northern Nigeria was sectarian in

nature. “The report makes no effort to pursue any alternative or complementary explanation for the crises. “Its line of enquiry is thus pre-determined at the point in which it reduces all identity-related violence or conflicts in Nigeria to sectarianism.” Odinkalu noted that in its previous writings on Nigeria, HRW recognised the fact that religion was merely being used as a disguise and was not the actual cause of the crises in some parts of Nigeria. He argued that the inconsistency in HRW's position

Odinkalu

was not explained. "This report offers no such material and does not appear to recognise this as necessary.

NE person has been killed and others injured in Otukpo, Benue State, following a fracas between goat sellers and policemen. Some goat sellers, who have been warned not to trade at the Otukpo main mosque, were arrested by law enforcement agents. This was said to have angered Muslim youths, who who made bonfires on the highway. An eyewitness said the police shot into the air to scare them, leading to the death of one. Four others were injured. Another source said the goat sellers were evading tax and avoiding medical clearance, which should certify their goats fit for consumption. The Chairman of the local government, Dr Innocent Onuh, said the council had warned against trading on the highway. The Area Commander, Samuel Darakoji, said: “I cannot talk to you now, I’m trying to calm the situation.” Another eyewitness said the situation was brought under control when some Air Force personnel dismantled the blockade. Abdullahi Umar, who claims to be a relation of the deceased, said his brother was killed by the vigilance group and not the police.

Yobe APC holds grand rally From Duku Joel, Damaturu

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LL Progressives Congress (APC) in Yobe State at the weekend organised a ‘grand rally’ in preparation for Saturday’s council polls. Seventeen chairmanship candidates were given the APC flag by Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, who urged them to abide by the party’s virtues. Gaidam, addressing the crowd at the August 27 Stadium, said the election would put the state’s democracy on trial. He added that the number of people who attended the rally contradicts the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Attahiru Jega’s pessimistic attitude towards security in Yobe. “We are determined to prove the sceptics wrong that we can conduct peaceful and hitch-free election. “Insha Allah, we shall put them to shame, because our resolve is geared towards restoring hope and confidence in local governance ,” Gaidam said. He took a jibe at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Federal Government, accusing it of attempting to collude with INEC to subvert democracy in some states. Ex-Governor Bukar AbbaIbrahim described the PDP as dead in the nation’s polity.


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

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NEWS Strike stalls varsity’s take-off

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IGER State Commissioner for Tertiary Education Mohammed Bashir has said the five-month strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) stalled the take-off of the State University of Education, Minna. He spoke yesterday at the staff award ceremony of the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University (IBBU), Lapai.

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From Jide Orintunsin, Minna

Bashir said the ASUU strike hampered the take off of the institution, adding that Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu had signed the bill setting up the school into law. The commissioner said he would lead a delegation to the National Universities Commission (NUC) in January to fast track the take off.

FUT Minna resumes Jan 6 HE senate of the Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna in Niger State has fixed January 6 for the resumption of academic activities in the second semes-

ter. Announcing this at the end of its 377 session at Gidan Kwano Campus, the senate said exams would begin on February 10, adding that the school goes on holiday on February 24. The Vice Chancellor, Prof Musibau Akanji, appealed to the lecturers to ensure that they complete their course work.

We didn’t invade police station, says Army

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HE Army yesterday denied invading a police station in Minna, Niger State, at the weekend. It said its fact-finding mission to the station was misconstrued. It said it did not break into the armoury and maintained that no policeman was beaten up by soldiers. The Commander, 31 Artillery Brigade in Minna, Brig.Gen. Chris Ilouga, said his officers and men were not involved in the alleged invasion and sack of Paiko Road Police Station on Friday. He explained that the soldiers’ mission was a fact finding one and not to harass or intimidate police officers. Gen Ilouga also said his men did not invade the armoury.

From Jide Orintunsin, Minna

At the weekend, it was alleged that soldiers in three trucks invaded the station to avenge the alleged manhandling of their colleague, who was said to be involved in a road accident. The soldier was said to have been manhandled by some policemen due to his unruly attitude when the accident was reported. Blaming the police spokesman for misinforming the public, the commander said: “At a time like this, it is good to call a spade a spade.” Gen Ilouga said no policeman at the station was molested or manhandled by soldiers, as alleged. He said: “The officer who went to the station, is the internal security officer who

patrols with his team in three vehicles and continually in touch with the DPO. “He went to the station on a fact-finding mission, to get the other part of the story, especially from those who attacked the soldier. “The discussion lasted about 20 minutes and it was resolved that a team of police personnel would visit the barracks. At this stage, the officer left and continued with his patrol. “It is important to state that while the discussion with the DPO was on, the soldiers may have taken an all-round defensive position, which is a drill whenever they are static. “The posture was defensive, not offensive; but it appeared that some of the policemen thought that the soldiers were on a revenge mis-

sion. “I must reiterate that the officer went to the police station on a fact-finding mission and not for revenge, as none was manhandled or injured,” the commander explained. He faulted the alleged attack on the armoury, saying “what I can say is that if this allegation is a deliberate build-up to cover lapses in the police armoury, then they should count my soldiers out.” Gen. Ilouga said the Brigade was committed to civil-military relations and inter-agency cooperation, but demanded that those who assaulted the soldier should be punished, and a written apology made to the injured soldier.


THE NATION MONDAY DECEMBER 23, 2013

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CITYBEATS

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CITYBEATS LINE: 08078425391

Banker slits husband’s manhood

BANKER has been arrested by operatives of the Lagos State Police Command for allegedly slitting her husband’s manhood. She was said to have taken that action over his alleged refusal to give her money. The incident occurred about 2am last Monday at their 99, Falolu Street, Surulere, Lagos home. The victim, Olamilekan Idowu Daniji, 34, told The Nation yesterday that his wife of three years, Nofisat, woke him up from sleep on the fateful day, threatening that between them, one person must die. “At first, I thought armed robbers broke into our home because she hit me hard, waking me forcefully. She tore my under-pant and held my pri-

By Jude Isiguzo

vate part. Everything was like a movie. And before I could say anything, she cut my private part. When I saw blood I shouted and she said: ‘That is where you will die.’ She abandoned me and fled,” Daniji said. He recalled that two days earlier, his wife, who works in a bank, quarrelled with him over his inability to provide food allowance. He said: “I am a gospel artiste. On Saturday morning December 14 - I was preparing to go out when my wife came and said she needed money for food. I told her I had nothing on me. But before I left, she told me there were some noodles in the house which she and my son

‘She held my tie and threatened to strangle me. I begged her but she would not listen. So, I forced myself off her and ran away. But she caught up with me and broke a bucket on my head’ would eat. After she finished preparing it, she left a little in the pot which I ate before going out. But before I left the house, I called one of my sales representatives who told me he sold some copies and had about N2,500 for me. “After collecting the money, I went home and my wife said she wanted to eat fufu and white soup. I bought it for her. Shortly after, she requested

bread, which I also bought for her. I did not complain because she is pregnant. On Sunday, I went to church, came back home and saw my wife and my son eating rice. I was happy that at least they had something to eat. I went out and bought beans and bread for myself and as I was eating, my wife came and started abusing me. She said I was selfish; that I did not care to

ask how she got money to prepare the rice they ate. When she realised I was not responding, she carried the plate of beans and turned it on my head. She held my tie and threatened to strangle me. I begged her but she would not listen. So, I forced myself off her and ran away. But she caught up with me and broke a bucket on my head.” Daniji added: “She broke three empty bottles and attempted to stab me, but I escaped through my sister’s shop. Her mother came around and I called my mother’s sister and they were able to calm her. After we settled, I left the house.” The artiste said when he returned in the evening, he could not find his son. He asked his wife but she said nothing, but his elder sister told him that his mother-inlaw took his son away. “I told my wife to go and bring my son and that if I did not see him before 8pm, she would not like what I would do to her. At exactly 8pm, she left the house and came back after 30 minutes without my son. We quarrelled, after which I slept off on the chair. That was where she woke me up and cut my private part.”

•Daniji

Daniji said he was rushed to a private infirmary in Surulere by members of his family. The matter, he added, was reported at the Barracks Police Station, Surulere, and the woman was arrested. In her statement at the station, Nofisat wrote: “Ever since we got married, my sister-in-law and her twin brother have not allowed us peace. I was praying that my husband would make money and rent his own apartment so that we can live together in peace without any interference. I did not use knife on him; it was my finger nails.” Daniji said he disallowed the police from charging the matter to court, because all he wanted was separation from his wife.

Civil Defence advises residents on security

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AGOS State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Ikeja, has urged resident to be more security-conscious during Yuletide for their safety. Its Commandant, Dayo Adesuyi, who gave the advice while an account of his stewardship rendering in the past 10 months, said the command had done a lot to ensure that the state is habitable as far as security wise. He scored the command high in anti-vandalism, disaster management, counter terrorism, securing companies, peace and conflict resolution, training and capacity building and security surveillance/intelligence gathering. The anti-vandalism unit of the command, he said, arrested over 150 suspected vandals

By Uyoatta Eshiet

who were involved in the economic sabotage of the nation’s resources. He charged the public to report suspicious individuals moving around oil pipelines, to avert possible vandalisation of such pipeline which could lead to fire outbreak during this festive period. He also advised motorists to drive carefully and ensure that their vehicles are well maintained for the safety of passengers during the period. The command, he said, had deployed 2000 officers to various strategic locations within the metropolis. The corps’ Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mefor Chibuzo assured that its information desk would be open for 24 hours throughout this festive period to receive any complaint by the public.

Old boys give back to alma mater

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RESIDENT of the Eko Boys High Old Boys Association (83 Set) Mr. Wale Alamutu has urged the government to be more committed to the educational advancement Nigerians. Speaking during the presentation of reading materials to the school in Lagos, he stated: “I want government to pay more attention to education. If government commits 20 per cent of its budget to education, it will reflect on the society. Government should constantly meet with education stakeholders like to prevent a breach of programmes.” He said the Old boys donated to the school’s library to enhance students’ reading culture which the school was noted for 30 years ago. “We came to the school and saw everything and we felt the need to improve on what we met. We believe we should revive reading culture in the school.”

“This school was great in our days as students; the culture of reading was a priority. We are very happy to be Old boys of this school. Though what we are giving is just a token because we cannot fully pay back what we benefitted from the school,” Alamutu said. He noted that it was in their little way of telling the students to equally keep the flag flying by winning laurels in areas of sports, debate and drama, adding: “What we have gained from the school is so enormous. The message to those we have left behind is that they should keep flying; we are very happy and pleased with what we have seen so far. We are excited with the trophies they have won for the school. They have won so many awards and competition to show that they have not departed from the winning streak which the school is known for.”


THE NATION MONDAY DECEMBER 23, 2013

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CITYBEATS Man caught with 16.4kg of cannabis A 34-year-old trader has been caught by anti-narcotic officers for allegedly attempting to smuggle 16.335kg of cannabis concealed in foodstuff to Dubai. The suspect, who sells clothes at Ikorodu, on the outskirts of Lagos, was invited for interrogation at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, during the screening of passengers on an Etihad flight. Ten parcels of the illicit item were found inside his two bags. NDLEA Commander at the airport, Mr Hamza Umar gave the name of the suspect as Obi Chinweike, adding: “Our search team detected 16.335kg of dried weeds that tested positive to cannabis at the luggage screening area. The substance was hidden in a false bottom of the bags containing yams, garri and other food items. The suspect, Obi Chinweike, who is a trader, is currently assisting the investigation team.” The suspect, in his statement, claimed he was offered $1,000 to deliver the drugs in Dubai. “I was given the drug at Onitsha by a friend who paid me $1,000 to smuggle it to Dubai. Unfortunately, I was arrested in

CITYBEATS LINE: 08078425391

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HE Onijanikin of Ijanikin, a Lagos suburb, Oba Momodu Afolabi Ashafa has sought the establishment of a general hospital in his domain. He also wants the state government to establish a library and open up the roads to accelerate the economic growth of his subjects. Oba Ashafa spoke at his 40th coronation anniversary which was held at the Anglican Primary School, Oto, Ijanikin last Saturday. He said: “It will be my greatest joy if government gives us a general hospital. The two general hospitals around us – at Badagry and Igando - are far away from us and we some-

T •The suspect...yesterday. By Kelvin Osa Okunbor

the process. I am from a poor home. I dropped out of a secondary school in 1996 during my first year owing to lack of funds,” Chinweike, who hails from Uli in Anambra State, said. Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade, warned drug traffickers to quit the criminal trade or face the consequences as con-

Monarch makes case for domain

tained in the NDLEA Act. “If drug barons fail to quit the criminal trade, they will continue to be arrested and prosecuted. This arrest and similar ones are clear signals that drug traffickers will end up in prison custody if they fail to quit. The agency has intensified search operations at all exit points,” Giade said, adding that the suspect would soon be charged to court.

By Adegunle Olugbamila

times have a problem taking patients there especially during emergency. We also want government to construct the road from Market to Odan Era to further boost the economy of this area. We have lots of business potentials here, but they can only be realised if government gives us more social amenities.” He thanked God, but added that his four-decade-old sojourn on the throne had been challenging. He recounted that he was given the Staff of Office the day the Lagos-Badagry Expressway was commissioned. “My struggles in my early

years to obtain qualitative education made me lay more emphasis on the establishment of highly comprehensive educational institutions for my people. I did not hesitate to donate 200 acres of land for the establishment of Federal Government College, Ijanikin and also the establishment of the Lagos State Secondary School. Now, we need a library to complement all these,” he said. He appreciated the support of his subjects and commended Governor Babatunde Fashola on his various developmental strides in the state, especially on the ongoing sixlane Mile 2-Badagry Expressway project.

Advice for Nigerians at Xmas

HE Group Managing Director/CEO of UAC of Nigeria Plc, Larry Ettah, has urged Nigerians to imbibe the lessons of Christmas which “are powerful, deep and fundamental.” In his 2013 Christmas message to the firm’s employees, Ettah said: “In a world where strife and chaos seem to tower over good sense and order, we cannot pretend that the world does not need the grains of the season’s lessons more than ever. No one can fault Christ’s insistent call for simplicity, restraint and contentment in a world that has become an apparent vanity fair. As we celebrate Christmas and look forward to the New Year, we must remember that the lessons of the season are still as relevant and timely today as Christ in-

tended them for humanity centuries ago. We must seek to live together in harmony and do unto others what we want them to do unto us.” He added that Christmas requires people to do their utmost and contribute to giving hope to those in despair, love to those in need and comfort to those at loss.

Ettah explained that at UACN, Christmas offers an opportunity to ponder, reflect and re-assess their activities within the year. He added that the concern of the company now is to ensure that it creates value by ensuring that its stakeholders, systems and processes key in fast into its growth agenda.

‘Bills killing hospitality industry’

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RESIDENT, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Chief Tomi Akingbogun, has urged government at all levels to stop the multiple bills levied on hospitality businesses because they are killing the industry. He sought a deliberate effort at developing tourism,

which in turn, will discourage the nation’s over-dependence on oil. Akingbogun spoke at the Expo on Sustainable Tourism and Transformation of the Nigerian Economy, which was organised by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, at the National Theatre, Lagos.


THE NATION MONDAY DECEMBER 23, 2013

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NEWS (SHOWBIZ)

Future Awards: Actor O.C Ukeje floors three singers •Dedicates prize to AMAA’s Anyiam-Osigwe

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OVIE-famed youngster, O.C Ukeje, at the weekend, beat his music counterparts, Ice Prince, Iyanya and Omawumi, in the Entertainment Talent Prize category of the Future Awards. “I’m just an ordinary guy who has been blessed, especially this year-a year that has completely taken me by surprise,” Ukeje said at the Aztech Arcum, Port Harcourt venue of the award show hosted by the Rivers State government. “It is very rare to win over musicians; so, this is very rare. I am very proud to finally be a recipient of Africa’s biggest prize for young people, The Future Awards Africa. I dedicate this prize to Peace Anyiam-Osigwe for believing in me.” Ever since he won the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA)’s laurel as Best Upcoming Actor in 2008, the career of the 32year old actor has been on the rise, with the City People’s Award for Best New Act (2010); Best Actor at the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (2013) for Two Brides & A Baby; Best Actor in a Leading Role

By Victor Akande

at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards (2013) and Best Actor at the Nollywood Movies Awards (2013) for Hoodrush. This is the actor’s second nomination for the awards - after he lost The Future Awards for ‘Actor of the Year’ to Tonto Dike last year. Other winners at the event included Jobberman founders, Ayodeji Adewunmi, Opeyemi Awoyemi and Olalekan Olude for the Prize in Enterprise Support; Kenneth Gyang for the Prize in Arts & Culture and Precious Peter Nweke for the Prize in Agriculture, among others. The winner of the ultimate reward, Young Person of the YearThe Africa Prize- was announced as Ugandan Ashish Thakar who is recognized as Africa’s youngest billionare at 32. Anchored by OAP Toke Makinwa and rapper Vector, the event also featured The Future Awards Africa ‘Best 100’ in commemoration of Nigeria’s centenary anniversary and hosted by Rubbin’ Minds presenter, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu.

•Tuface and D'banj

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•Davido

Victory concert for Eagles, Eaglets at CALFEST

HE Cross River State is to host the Super Eagles and the Golden Eaglets in a victory concert at the ongoing Calabar Festival. The Eagles are in the final list of the 32 nations whose flags will be hoisted at the Mundial in Brazil come 2014. Organizers say the concert is to encourage and garner support for both teams. The state, it will be recalled, had also provided a camp ground for the Eaglets, champions of the U17 World Cup at United Arab Emirate, prior to their competition. Slated for December 30, the event is being put together by Project Nigeria, Cross River

By Victor Akande

State government, De-SearchLight Group and the Nigeria Football Federation. Notable Nigerian music stars billed for the concert include 2face, D’banj, P-Square, Alpha-U-Turn, Davido, Chris Mba, Brig Brown Bread, The Royal Model, South-Cast, Emmyluv R.E and Mr. Pack, among others. According to the chief coordinator, Mr. Viktor Egbe, “The event marks the peak of the Christmas Festival, which eve-

rybody looks up to. All football-loving Nigerians are advised to wear the traditional colours of the Super Eagles on the D-day and come to Calabar, where members of the Super Eagles and Golden Eaglets will be celebrated before the World Cup finale.” Egbe also noted that the reception for the celebrity footballers would be laced with strip float and football artistry and goodwill messages by Governor Liyel Imoke as well as special appearance by notable football-loving Nigerians.

Alariwo beaten by Area boys

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•OC Ukeje - winner of The Future Awards in Entertainment Talent

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OME popular Yoruba Nollywood thespians have formed a pressure group, G10, to correct what they call the industry’s ills. They are Foluke DaramolaSalako, Moji Olaiya, Funsho Adeolu, Yomi Fash-Lanso, Muyiwa Ademola, Ronke Ojo (Oshodi Oke), Fathia Balogun, Ayo Adesanya, Bisi Ibidapo Obey and Eniola Badmus. In an interview, DaramolaSalako said the Yoruba actors were being used and dumped by the Southeast counterparts. According to her, “if they want to contest any elective posts, it is our industry that they come to. But once they get that assistance, they dump us like a pack of rub-

OPULLAR artiste Rotimi Martins aka Alariwo of Africa will not forget December 19 in a hurry. He was allegedly beaten up on Thursday by ‘area’ boys at the launch of the debut album of Ewade, wife of popular On-Air Personality (OAP) Soji Omotayo. The launch of the album titled Ore Ofe was full of music, fun and entertainment. But Alariwo, the master of celerimony got more than he bargained for when he was accosted by street urchins Trouble w a s s a i d t o h a v e started when he reportedly failed to acknowledge the presence of gospel music act, Busola Oke, alias Eleyele, on the occasion. According to an eye witness account, Alariwo also asked the people whom he didn’t recognize to forward their names to him. “Immediately, Eleyele told

By Dupe Ayinla-Olasunkanmi

some people that Alariwo was fond of looking down on her at events. She equally disclosed that her age-long problem with Alariwo is due to the fact that she has refused to address him as ‘Brother’,” the source said. However, what many could not explain was how the Area boys,who were outside the hall, got hint of what our source described as “Alariwo’s arrogant attitude.” It was also gathered that immediately he wrapped up his performance and stepped out of the hall, the area boys descended on him mercilessly. “He made an attempt to run for his dear life. He tried to seek cover in a building around the venue. While he was being beaten, the hoodlums screamed that he had disgraced Eleyele on several occasions, so he deserved to be beaten,” he disclosed.

Yoruba actors form G10 By Mercy Michael

bish. “We decided to give ourselves G10 because we believe that we are the great 10. What do I mean by that? We believe that the Yoruba Nollywood is being sidelined in a lot of ways and we have a lot of people that are enlightened among us. So, we said to ourselves that we could actually have a platform, like a pressure group, where we can air our views. “In the Ibo movie genre, our contemporaries get appointments and they call them for significant things. But the same

treatment is not giving to us in the Yoruba movie industry. So, we thought that we needed to come up with this group. We don’t like the way we have been sidelined. It’s as if they always bring us down and it doesn’t make our contemporaries better than us. A lot of us are Master degree holders and some of us are Doctorate degree holders. Some of us are well read enough to understand our rights, so we shouldn’t be treated less than the next person there. Go to any home in Nigeria today, you will find out that at least one of five will be watching Africa Magic. In fact, it is not just Africa Mag-

•Daramola-Salako

ic, but Africa Magic Yoruba; so, that tells you the impact and the

•Alariwo 2

kind of money Africa Magic is making from us. So, for them to be treating us like unwanted items, we’ll not take that any more. That is what we stand for, aside the fact that we intend to be churning out quality movies and series that will impact our society. We also intend to embark on social responsibility programmes, such as going to orphanages, having healthy walkswalk for life, walk for domestic violence etc. Those are the things that we stand for.” It will be recalled that a couple of days ago, another member from the group, Eniola Badmus, also lamented that actors and actresses of the Yoruba movie industry were being underrated by bloggers.


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

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COMMENTARY EDITORIALS

Sanusi’s letter

There are still many unanswered questions; so, neither the NNPC nor the finance ministry should gloat

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UST how much is the shortfall of which the apex bank chief alleged was between crude sales and remittances, the cash that should have been sent unremitted, it explained that these were which at the moment, is a question of who to the federation account? That was paid to the agencies statutorily empow- to believe between Sanusi’s figure of $12 how this newspaper raised the poser in ered to receive them for onward remit- billion and finance minister Ngozi the aftermath of the meeting of the tance into the federation account. These Okonjo-Iweala’s figure of $10.8 billion. reconciliation team of the Central Bank agencies are the Federal Inland Revenue That we are talking of yet-to-be reconciled of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian National Service, FIRS, and the Department of Pe- billions of dollars makes the gloating by the finance ministry and the NNPC abPetroleum Corporation (NNPC), the troleum Resources, DPR. Was the CBN governor therefore crying surd. Federal Ministry of Finance and other No doubt, Sanusi may have been typistakeholders. The reconciliation team was wolf where there was none? Clearly, the put together in the wake of the charge of gross misstatement of the mat- cally overzealous – or if you like, alarmcontroversy stoked by the September 25 ter by the CBN governor, given the facts ist; his charges are neither baseless nor letter from the CBN Governor, Sanusi in public domain, would be hard to dis- spurious. To dismiss the charges off-hand Lamido Sanusi, to President Goodluck miss. Writing to the President without is to miss completely the underlying conJonathan alleging under-remittance of perusing the figures is an inexcusable cerns aptly captured in the letter. The con$49.804 billion into the federation account lapse; not even his subsequent explana- cerns relate to the “very low rate of accretion that in “trying to understand where tion to the reserves in spite of very high in about 18 months. In the letter addressed level of oil prices and to the president but in particular, deplewhich was subsetion of excess crude quently leaked to the account in spite of media, Sanusi had what seems to be very observed of the curious high level of oil sales”. book-keeping in the secIn this, Sanusi must tor: “Our analysis of the be seen as merely givvalue of crude oil export ing vent to the same proceeds based on the concerns about the documentation received dwindling rate of acfrom pre-shipment incretion long exspectors shows that bepressed by majority of tween January 2012 and Nigerians, including July 2013, NNPC lifted no less a body than 594,024,107 barrels of the Nigeria Govercrude valued at nors Forum. Not only $65,332,350,514.57.” is the situation at the “Out of this amount”, root of the crises in the he noted, “NNPC repatmonthly meeting of riated only the Federation Ac$15,528,410,098.77 reprecounts Allocation senting 24 percent of the Committee, FAAC, it value. This means the is at the heart of the NNPC is yet to account dire financial state of for, and repatriate to the the 36 states in the Federation Account, an federation. amount in excess of The on-going recon$49.804 billion of the ciliation should therevalue of oil lifted in the fore be the starting same period.” point in what promHe drew inferences ises to be a long jourfrom the apex bank’s taney to get the NNPC ble of analysis of the to become accountcrude oil liftings and able and transparent repatriations to further in its day-to-day activi•Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala observe that “the failure ties. Nigerians expect of the NNPC to repatriate the amounts those leakages were, our attention was nothing short of the resolution of the puzconstitutes not only a violation of consti- drawn to a huge difference between what zle in which oil prices would be moving tutional provisions but also of both Ni- appeared to be export of crude made by up while the inflow into the federation geria’s foreign exchange and pre-ship- NNPC and amount repatriated into the account would be headed in the opposite ment inspection of exports laws”. crude equity account of the Federal Gov- direction. They are interested in how many barrels are sold daily and at what He then recommended that the Presi- ernment” would mitigate the faux pas. dent (1) require NNPC to provide evidence Throwing away the message would, of price. What about the grave allegation that for disposal of all proceeds of crude sales course be a greater disservice, particu- the quantum of crude retained by NNPC diverted from the CBN and Federation larly as the overall evidence would seem for local consumption is actually sold at a Account; (2) Investigate crude oil lifting to indicate that a lot is amiss than the discount? Who are the officials behind the mysand swap contracts, as well as the finan- gloaters in the NNPC and the finance cial transactions of counter-parties for eq- ministry are willing to admit about the tery transaction? What the present situation demands is a uity, fairness and transparency; and, (3) mess they have made the oil industry and thorough, comprehensive audit of the Authorise prosecution of suspects in the public accounts under their watch. NNPC. The National Assembly should money-laundering transactions, including To be sure, nothing in the preliminary help kick off the process without further but not limited to BDCs who are unable to finding of the joint panel put together to delay. It should bother our lawmakers that account for hundreds of millions of dol- reconcile the figures remotely suggest past calls for the overhaul of the corporalars. that the NNPC is anything in the clear, at tion have been largely ignored. Seems Dismissing Sanusi’s letter as lacking in least not yet. Noteworthy is that the panel about time something drastic is done about substance, the NNPC had insisted that the has in fact established vast differences the outlawry in the corporation. furore was borne of pure misunderstanding on the part of the CBN governor. The ‘Noteworthy is that the panel has in fact established vast only point of agreement between the differences between crude sales and remittances, which at NNPC and the CBN governor was that the the moment, is a question of who to believe between 24 per cent of total crude oil revenue receipts, which the CBN governor conceded Sanusi’s figure of $12 billion and finance minister Okonjohad been remitted into the federation acIweala’s figure of $10.8 billion. That we are talking of yetcount, actually represents the proceeds to-be reconciled billions of dollars makes the gloating by from the equity lifting which NNPC is directly responsible for. the finance ministry and the NNPC absurd’ As for the balance of the 76 per cent and

FROM OTHER LANDS

Diamond sees gold in African finance

– Banking the unbanked will help spur continent’s rise

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IGHTEEN months after resigning in the aftermath of the Libor rate-rigging scandal, Bob Diamond is plotting his comeback. Last week the former Barclays chief executive raised $325m from investors. He is now looking for an African financial services acquisition on which to spend the cash. Yet if this fallen titan has not after all been condemned to the underworld, he appears at first sight to be heading for a relative backwater. Banking services are poorly developed in Africa. About 60 per cent of Kenyan adults are without a bank account, for example, compared with just 3 per cent in the UK. Banks concentrate on serving parts of Africa that are home to most of its wealth but few of its people. Much of the continent is too poor to sustain costly branches and infrastructure. Dysfunctional institutions can also be a hindrance, although these have been improving lately. Property registration costs are falling, and 70 per cent of African countries now have a national system of credit records. But enforcing contracts remains difficult; legal fees amount to roughly half of the average claim. The result is that millions must rely on cash alone, or fall back on informal arrangements for making payments and raising credit. This stunts economic activity and adds to the precariousness of many people’s livelihoods. The pent-up demand for financial services is evident in the ingenious improvisations that Africans are devising to meet it. In many places, mobile phone airtime balances have assumed the status of unofficial currency, after customers realised they could settle personal debts by transferring credit from one phone to another. Safaricom, the Kenyan network operator, has formalised the service, in effect turning its army of phone card hawkers into a network of roving bank tellers. It now collaborates with Commercial Bank of Africa to offer interest-bearing accounts and small loans. New technology is bringing down costs just as an era of economic growth seems finally to be dawning on Africa. Mr Diamond is not the only banker to spy opportunity in what is now the second-fastest growing region in the world. Hedge funds and private equity companies, too, have been racing to do deals. This is an occasion on which bankers’ commercial ambitions coincide with the broader social good. But policy makers should nonetheless be alert to possible dangers. Recent history shows that a booming financial services industry can garner undue influence, even in advanced countries with robust institutions. It would be a tragedy if Africa’s rise were cut short by similar mistakes. While governments bear primary responsibility for regulating financial conduct, international organisations such as the World Bank should issue vocal warnings if they have grounds for concern. Banking is a maligned industry but an indispensable one. It will be a mark of progress if foreign investment means that fewer Africans live beyond its reach. – Financial Times

TRUTH IN DEFENCE OF FREEDOM Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief Victor Ifijeh

• Editor Gbenga Omotoso •Chairman, Editorial Board Sam Omatseye •General Editor Adekunle Ade-Adeleye •Editor, Online Lekan Otufodunrin •Managing Editor Northern Operation Yusuf Alli •Managing Editor Waheed Odusile

• Executive Director (Finance & Administration) Ade Odunewu

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•Advert Manager Robinson Osirike

•Deputy Editor (News) Adeniyi Adesina

• Gen. Manager (Training and Development) Soji Omotunde •General Manager (Abuja Press) Kehinde Olowu •AGM (PH Press) Tunde Olasogba

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THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

CARTOON & LETTERS

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IR: The letter from ex-President Obasanjo to President Goodluck Jonathan should not be read along party, political or ethnic lines. Those with spiritual insight will readily see from the tone and contents that the message comes from above to all Nigerians. And what is the message? It is that corruption has reached the level of impunity. That God is never a supporter of evil and will surely save Nigeria from the hands of destroyers. Even though he may not realize it, the first person indicted in the letter is Obasanjo himself. He has acknowledged that every PDP member in elective office today is his political child, not that of Jonathan. Can the father of a bandit seriously claim to be free from reproach? But perhaps of greater concern is the fact that this is also a warning to Nigerians to mend their ways. Who turned politics into the only lucrative industry in Nigeria, was it Jonathan? Who taught Nigerians the dark side of the doctrines of Niccolo Machiavelli? Was it Jonathan? Who took Nigerians to the OIC, was it Jonathan? Corruption, like cancer, has to grow with time until it destroys its victim. Corruption has trailed us from the first republic until now. The soldiers that came to arrest it became engulfed themselves.

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EDITOR’S MAIL BAG

SEND TYPEWRITTEN, DOUBLE SPACED AND SIGNED CONTRIBUTIONS, LETTERS AND REJOINDERS OF NOT MORE THAN 800 WORDS TO THE EDITOR, THE NATION, 27B, FATAI ATERE ROAD, MATORI, LAGOS. E-mail: views@thenationonlineng.net

Time for a new beginning Within the last few years we have seen people who cried against corruption becoming more corrupt than those they criticized when given the opportunity to set things right. This is not a Jonathan affair. It is the mindset of the Nigerian people that needs to be changed. We live under false pretence, an ideology where money is the supreme god worshipped even by

pastors. We need Structural Mental Adjustment (SMA), not a hypocritical slogan of rebranding Nigeria – whatever that means. Nigeria has come a long way. We have witnessed a costly civil war, just like America. In addition, we have gone through various phases of military government from the most benevolent to the most brutal. I personally did not believe that

during my life time, I would witness civilian government, though we now have this ‘corrupt’ brand of democracy, I am certain, with God on our side, we shall get to the Promise Land. Britain and America went through the present phase we now find ourselves. Not many people remember the eminent philosopher – Francis Bacon – who was Lord

IR: More facts are beginning to emerge as to why the protracted political crisis in Rivers State has continued without any move by well meaning Nigerians to end the affray. As the gladiators now stand on one leg in political combat, the revelation which came from the supervising Minister of Education Nyesom Wike last weekend in Port Harcourt is shocking and undeserving of a public servant. Wike was reported in an inter-

view that he is fighting Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi because the latter underrated him. He also stated that the Governor is a tyrant; and that his ambition to go for higher office is not going down well with the governor. The question now arises: Why should the ambition of Wike throw the entire state into an unprecedented political upheaval? Why should he think that by fighting the governor, his status or popularity as a politician will be enhanced?

And by calling the governor a tyrant, how would that solve the problem at hand? Now, let us assume that Amaechi is a tyrant. Did Rivers people complain to anybody of the tyranny of their governor? If tyranny, for Wike, is Amaechi’s only sin, then he should look for another thing because this cannot be enough reason why he should ride on the back of presidency to throw his own state into anarchy. Like Brutus and Cassius his friend

This result, when compared with the previous ones happens to be the worst. If this unwholesome trend continues unabated, the probability of getting a better result among the students in the near future is absolutely zero. Something has to be done to stop the trend. But let me sound it loud and clear that unless the mantra: DUTY BEFORE PLEASURE is emphatically drummed into the ears of our children, letting them understand the need to forgo pleasure and other frivolities capable of distracting their attention from their books, this syndrome would never stop. The present situation is just a tip of the iceberg. The misuse of cell phone by students has done more harm than good.

We send our children to school to learn, read their books, and participate in other extracurricular activities and not to manipulate their phones and watch films at home to the detriment of their studies. You cannot serve two masters at a go. You either love one and hate the other. During our days, what used to occupy our minds was how to cover the syllabus before the exam. And in the long run we always had success story to tell. But now the scenario has changed. Not all the students know what the syllabus is, let alone striving to cover it. Much as we emphasize on the need for students to take their studies serious, I am not comfortable with the foot dragging attitude of government

towards renovating dilapidated structures in our public schools and the provision of necessary reading aids for students and teachers. For instance, most of our public schools do not have libraries, science laboratories and other educational facilities. Teachers attendance is not monitored by inspectors and this create room for lackadaisical attitude on the part of teachers towards their profession. Most of them have sidelines that distract their attention from concentrating on their teaching. All these short comings should be appropriately addressed by the government.

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Every Nigerian should use this end of year message to reflect on the dangerous Path we find ourselves. This is the time for us to resolve, to have a new beginning. When Nigerians talk about wealth or resources they are looking at naira and dollars or oil and sundry matters. However, the real wealth is character. If you do not possess good character, your ill-gotten wealth means nothing to developed souls. • Barrister Peter Afangideh, Calabar.

So what if Amaechi is a tyrant?

Another mass failure in WAEC exams

IR: With yet another dismal story of students’ failure in examinations, it has unequivocally become crystal clear that the standard of education in the country will never regain its lost glory unless the government and other stakeholders reached a consensus on the necessary drastic, if not draconian measures to take in order to redirect students attention to serious reading. The West African Examination Council (WAEC) has released the last Nov/ Dec senior secondary certificate examination result. According to WAEC, only 86,612 out of 308217 candidates were able to make five credits, including English and Mathematics. In other words, only 29.17% of the whole candidates scaled through.

Chancellor of England. He was convicted of bribery and corruption. All that we need now is to wake up as a nation and declare that enough is enough with corruption.

•Nkemakolam Gabriel Port Harcourt

who hid under the cover of Caesar’s over ambition and tyranny to murder a popular leader of their time, without knowing that while they were busy plotting and hatching their evil plot, Caesar was busy planting his name in the minds of the people with his people-oriented policies. This was proved at Caesar’s grave side when Brutus and his fellow conspirators escaped death by the whisker from the very citizens they claimed to be fighting for. The people went irate when they heard the real reason why Caesar was butchered by those who claimed to be his friends. The table was turned against the conspirators because the people felt that Caesar’s love for them was more than the hatred painted by his killers. For Caesar’s supporters like Mark Anthony, ambition and perhaps (tyranny) should be made of sterner stuff to warrant the gruesome murder of a famous leader like Caesar. So my humble advice for Wike and those backing him is for them to stand on the right side of history. Wike should join Amaechi and make Rivers State great again instead of fighting a futile political battle against his benefactor. • Wenenda W. Weli Emohua, Rivers State


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THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

COMMENTS

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IGERIANS must be anxious to find out whether the country’s First Lady Patience Jonathan’s publicised change of name will make any difference not only to her public conduct but also to public perception of her personality. Perhaps under pressure from “social anxiety,” which is unsurprising in the light of her markedly unflattering public image, Mrs. Jonathan announced her new name to a probably bemused audience at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The occasion was the December 13 launch of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme Maternal and Child Health (SURE –P MCH) otherwise known as MAMA Project. According to her, “My name is no more Patience but now Mama Peace because I believe that without peace, there will be no more women, no more children and no more health sector. Without peace, the international community will be afraid to come and invest in our country.” It looks like Mrs. Jonathan recently experienced an awakening, or what is this unaccustomed sentimentality all about? This is not the old, familiar lady of battle, and it is difficult to recognise the change. Ironically, in public consciousness Mrs. Jonathan’s background is linked with disturbance of the peace. Isn’t this the same lady who in July last year caused more than a stir upon her appointment as permanent secretary by Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson, which was widely unpopular particularly by virtue of the fact that she had been on leave from the civil service for over 13 years while she played the role of a politician’s wife? Isn’t this the same lady who triggered public outrage

‘It is disturbing that, to go by developments, the people of Rivers State are apparently paying a hard price for her alleged power-lust. In this matter, it is perhaps impossible to ignore the wisdom that the first lady’s enemy is necessarily the president’s foe. This is not to say that her husband is henpecked, although that may well be the case. Such tragically inappropriate personalisation of office is deserving of unreserved condemnation’

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TODAY marks 12 years since my dad, Chief Bola Ige died. I find it difficult to say he died, rather he was assassinated! Assassinated by evil people, still walking the streets free! The sitting Attorney-General at the time, and Minister of Justice of the Nigerian Federation. Yet there was no justice meted out at his assassination! What a nation! The post-mortem report stated that his heart was not diseased and that he could have lived another 25 years, if his life had not been brutally shot down! Oh murder most cruel! How can someone kill someone I loved so much? My hero, my encourager, my One and Only Dad! I have noticed that as every end of the year approaches, I am filled with gloom, both sad and happy memories. Memories of the joy and laughter we shared for 41 beautiful years. I was his first and only daughter. He never let me forget that I was precious to God, him and my wonderful mother. Twelve years on, I still miss him terribly and remember him everyday. The pain never really goes away, but it isn’t as poignant as the first time. I remember him for the values and morals he and Mum gave us his children and grandchildren. He lives on in each one of us he left behind, in looks, personality and even gaits! The first three grandchildren have followed in the legal footsteps of their grandparents. His prayer and ours is that they may be greater than him - becoming governor, SAN and Justice of Court Appeal like the grandparents. We are comforted because we are not alone, the Holy Spirit Our Comforter, Teacher and Counsellor

‘Twelve years on, I still miss him terribly and remember him everyday. The pain never really goes away, but it isn’t as poignant as the first time. I remember him for the values and morals he and Mum gave us his children and grandchildren. He lives on in each one of us he left behind, in looks, personality and even gaits!’

Mama Peace Woman of war following her moves to raise a whopping $26m (N1.4bn) for a planned “First Lady’s Mission Building” that would serve as a centre for meetings of African First Ladies? If these were mild manifestations of disruptive tendencies, her obviously ongoing clash with Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi should provide a stronger standard for measuring her troublesomeness. Amaeachi, in an interview, defined the basis of the crisis as her overbearing attitude, saying, “She wants to have a say in the government. Just know that she wants to have a say. I don’t want to go beyond that; that will become too explicit. Just know that she wants to control the government of Rivers State, that’s all.” It is disturbing that, to go by developments, the people of Rivers State are apparently paying a hard price for her alleged power-lust. In this matter, it is perhaps impossible to ignore the wisdom that the first lady’s enemy is necessarily the president’s foe. This is not to say that her husband is henpecked, although that may well be the case. Such tragically inappropriate personalisation of office is deserving of unreserved condemnation. Interestingly, Amaechi painted a worrying picture of the people’s loss on account of the reality that he has his name written in the first family’s black book. In a recent interaction with a group of medical doctors at the Government House, Port Harcourt, the state capital, Amaeachi not only charged President Goodluck Jonathan with victimisation, he also gave distasteful details. Among other instances of Jonathan’s allegedly deliberate ill-treatment of the people arising from their frosty relationship, Amaechi highlighted the incredible case involving the

provision of water. According to him, “I will start with water. We got African Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank to give us a loan, for which we will pay 0.4 per cent for 40 years, which is a wonderful loan and we planned to give Port Harcourt people water first. If everybody in Rivers State is drinking (potable) water that will reduce the number of patients that go to Briathwaite Memorial Hospital or any other hospital. World Bank agreed; ADB agreed. They said, ‘go and do due process ‘. We have finished due process. What is remaining is for the Minister of Finance to sign.” Then he dropped a bombshell, saying, “‘oh, you are quarreling with the President, we will not sign’. That is why they have not signed.” It is instructive that this unreasonableness antedated Amaechi’s recent defection from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC), implying that the Jonathan administration rated personal animosity above official responsibility, even when it concerned a member of his party. In a fundamental sense, such conduct amounted to anti-party activity because it sent out an unhelpful signal to the people about the party’s delivery of essential services. A more people-friendly and politically adept leader would have taken advantage of the situation as a vote-winning opportunity. However, this revolting episode is not just about Amaechi, for it is logical to suppose that other governors possibly blacklisted by Jonathan will receive similar uncooperative reaction, probably to the detriment of society. Plainly, therefore, whatever might be responsible for Mrs. Jonathan’s new-found song on “peace evangelism,” it appears that she will benefit from further education on the basics of the concept. As long as cases like Amaechi’s are unfairly sustained by official ill-will, she has nothing to teach anyone about peace. Let her learn from her own words, if they were not uttered hypocritically. According to her, “Peace is from the heart and not from the tongue or lips; not what you say but what is in you. We pray for genuine peace because peace is the key to our arriving at our desired destination as a nation. We are approaching the New Year which is a year of peace, progress and so many good things to come. 2014 is going to be a year of no militancy and no Boko Haram because God will shower peace and make us take a U-turn from disaster.” It is unclear whether Mrs. Jonathan has formally effected her declared change of name, or whether she also has the inclination of a prophetess, which is how she sounded. While her good wishes are appreciated, they are also undeniably self-serving, betraying her concern about her husband’s political survival. In this year-end season, which is traditionally a time for New Year resolutions, Mrs. Jonathan’s name-change suggests that she intends to turn over a new leaf. This is heartwarming because that is the meaning of changeability, after all. If that is the case, God bless her.

Ajibola Ige: 12 years on By Funso Adegbola is ever-present. We are also surrounded by the heavenly Hosts; and faithful, true friends of our parents. For these and all God’s blessings we are grateful to God and millions of Nigerians who stand with us and by us daily. I have been reflecting of different ways to honour his memory and commemorate his life. Earlier this year, on April 10, I established the Atinuke Ige Memorial Scholarship at The Vale Tutorial College, Ibadan. The scholarship is for students who have completed their SSCE in a public/ government secondary school. The successful candidates excelled in a written examination followed by an Oratory Competition. The first beneficiaries of this scholarship are already enjoying the full scholarship which covers tuition, boarding, books, examinations, etc. I am fully persuaded that they will do exceedingly well and I promised them that if they get a Distinction A Grade, in all their A-level subjects, I will solicit for funding to send them to any Nigerian university of their choice. I instituted this scholarship because my mother was a benefactor to many Nigerian students. It is in continuation of these high ideals bequeathed to me by my parents, that the Board of The Vale College decided to institute the Bola Ige Memorial Scholarship at The Vale College. Those eligible for the scholarships must be highly gifted Primary Six pupils in public primary schools, in Oyo and Osun States (the states which constitute the Old Oyo State, where he was the first Governor from 1979-83). Like the older beneficiaries, the candidates must excel in a written examination followed by an oral competition. The scholarship will be for the entire six year course of such student at The Vale College. The monetary value of the scholarship is approximately N2million per annum per student, for six years. We would like many young people to benefit from this scholarship scheme. I appeal to members of the public, all our family and friends to donate generously to this scholarship scheme. All cheques should be written in favour of

The Vale College. I promise that all the donations will be acknowledged and judiciously used for the scholarship awards. The first beneficiaries will commence JSS1 in September 2014 to mark the 20th anniversary of The Vale College. My thoughts are that since I don’t have ‘the anointing’ to give free education to millions of children, at then same time, like he did in Old Oyo State from 1979-1983, I can positively affect the lives of the few scholarship awardees who benefit year in, year out, and hopefully they will in turn affect many more lives in their homes and communities. Then I will have the great satisfaction of knowing they only killed Bola Ige’s body, they can never ever kill his soul and spirit, because truly, his soul keeps marching on. Goodnight my dad, my friend and hero. You taught me always to do the Right Thing at The Right Time and in the Right Way. I pray that your gallant and forthright soul will continue to rest in perfect peace. You, Tunde and Mum continue to live on in us, your children, grandchildren , friends, admirers and beneficiaries. Sleep on beloved until we meet again on the resurrection morning, it is well with your soul and ours. Sun re o Ajibola Idowu Ige. • Mrs Adegbola (nee Ige) writes from Ibadan.

‘My thoughts are that since I don’t have ‘the anointing’ to give free education to millions of children, at then same time, like he did in Old Oyo State from 1979-1983, I can positively affect the lives of the few scholarship awardees who benefit year in, year out, and hopefully they will in turn affect many more lives in their homes and communities’


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

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COMMENTS

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OME how, this Christmas period has turned out a season of open letter writing. But unlike the usual pleasantries and goodwill messages that have become the hallmark of the season, these letters are largely directed at either getting even with key personages in the nation’s leadership or defending sweeping allegations that have been brought to the court of public opinion. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo fired the first salvo a forthnight ago when in a well publicised letter he accused President Jonathan of sundry misdeeds. The allegations were so weighty that the presidency directed all government functionaries not to comment on it promising that at the appropriate time, Jonathan will respond personally. Ever since, there have been calls from several quarters for the president to respond to the indicting accusations and innuendos contained in Obasanjo’s letter. Of all the allegations bandied by Obasanjo against Jonathan, two stood out in terms of their seriousness and overall impact for the peace, order and good conduct of governmental affairs in this country. These are the allegation that Jonathan was keeping 1000 people on political watch list, training snipers and other armed personnel secretly for political purposes like Abacha and in the same place Abacha trained his own killers. The other is the alleged non-remittance of about $7billion from the NNPC to the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN accruing from oil exports which Obasanjo said was further reinforced by the letter written by the CBN governor to the president on the matter.

‘If there are reverses which the party currently suffers, their foundation were laid by Obasanjo and if that party and democracy collapse he should assume full responsibility’

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Emeka OMEIHE 08112662675 email: EmekaOmeihe@yahoo.com

Season of open letters The presidency has reacted to the first allegation asking Obasanjo to produce evidence of the training of snipers and killers especially since he claims to know where they are being trained. They are saying that the onus is now on Obasanjo to show evidence of this very dangerous allegation that is laden with vile innuendos. For now, Obasanjo is yet to respond to this challenge. He may be hiding under the cover of such terms as “allegation” and “if it is true” which dominated the text of his letter. But that raises serious question on the motivation and intention of Obasanjo in making public weighty and destructive allegations even when he is yet to verify them. What of the suggestions that the training is taking place in the same institutions that a military dictator, Abacha trained his own killers? The purport of the comparison between Jonathan with Abacha given the sad end of that dictator may not be lost on very discerning people. It was therefore very uncharitable for Obasanjo to have gone public with such tendentious comparison if he was only relying on hearsay. The other bothering on non-remittance of oil money has been substantially addressed by the same CBN governor when he said at the senate public hearing that the conclusion that $49.8 billion was missing is wrong. According to him, the letter he wrote to the president on the matter was an invitation to probe remittances to the Federation Account. He said that relevant agencies have commenced reconciling their accounts with about $12 billion still outstanding. With this clarification, we are inching closer to deodorizing the foul air generated by Obasanjo’s false and self-

NTHONY Momoh, prince of Auchi, it was who as Information and Culture Minister under General Ibrahim Babangida, elevated letter writing to a higher level as a direct marketing tool to engage the citizenry in government's plans, programmes and policies. He wrote many under the series: Letter to my countryman. The art of letter writing has been with mankind since man learnt to put thoughts down in some permanent form. A letter is an exchange of facts, fiction, views, fears, thoughts and ideas between two or more people. In the realm of politics, Momoh's example was an attempt to hold a conversation with the citizen in a military era, where debate was not a celebrated ethic. Two other Nigerians in recent memory known to have used letter writing to telling effect in the nation's politics are the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Part of Awolowo's approach to politics was to appeal to reason through cold analysis of issues. Like the trained lawyer and journalist he was, he deployed strong words and imageries to marshal his points, shoot down the opposition, and recommend a different course of action. Having lost to President Shehu Shagari in the 1979 and 1983 Presidential elections, Awolowo had cause to write Shagari at a point that the ship of state was sailing in troubled waters. If urgent corrections were not made to cut waste, and restore confidence, it would not be long before the state ship crashed. He received thunderous abuse from the President's aides for his unsolicited advice. Many derided him as a prophet of doom, who refused to climb up the political ladder of statesmanship, forgetting public criticism is a form of campaign by the opposition. Barely a year after his warning, Shagari's government collapsed under its contradictions. Obasanjo's letters to various heads of government who served after him are well known for their intemperate and self-righteous language. His recent letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, no less so. It has also elicited a similar reaction to what Awolowo suffered in the early 80s. It is an open letter, deliberately penned and released for maximum effect. It is a public campaign against the Goodluck administration; a bold attempt to dissuade Jonathan from seeking a second term in 2015. But it differs from Awolowo's in one respect. Awolowo belonged to the opposition, Obasanjo's is to his party mate, indeed,

serving alarm. Obasanjo’s letter has also attracted other letters from some of the personages he maligned. Politician and businessman Buruji Kashamu in his own letter has told whoever cares to hear that the aspersions cast on his person by Obasanjo’s letter cannot fly. He said that he is neither a convict nor a drug baron but a political son of Obasanjo. He recounted how Obasanjo used him to fight former Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel and wrested the structures of the PDP from him for he (Obasanjo’s) political advantage. He queried why it is now he is seen to be close to Jonathan that Obasanjo is realizing he is not a good person after introducing him into politics and using him to achieve his selfish ends. Obasanjo still has questions to answer in respect of the claims of Kashamu. But as if this was not enough, a letter purportedly written by Obasanjo’s first daughter Iyabo in which she described her father in unprintable words calling him a manipulator and two-faced hypocrite determined to foist on President Jonathan what no one would contemplate with him as president came into public domain. She among others accused her father of having an egoistic craving for power and living a life where only men of low esteem and intellect thrive. Though Obasanjo is yet to comment on the existence of the letter, former Ogun State governor Segun Osoba confirmed that Iyabo had complained to him along the lines of the issues raised in the letter and he made Obasanjo aware of it then. Before this article is published, we may

be treated with some other open letters. But more fundamentally, most of the issues raised in these open letters have thrown doubts on the credibility and propriety of Obasanjo to author the damning letter on the Jonathan administration. The letter from his daughter says it all. Even as Jonathan is yet to respond to the moral issues and moral authority of Obasanjo to lampoon his regime in the way he did, most of the reactions have been unanimous in the verdict that Obasanjo lacks the moral bearing to accuse Jonathan of the alleged misdeeds since his regime had a surfeit of them. Those with patronizing views would want the nation to take the message and throw away the messenger. But for a greater majority, both the message and the messenger should be consigned to the nearest trash can. It smacks of crass dishonesty for Obasanjo to pretend he is not aware the party’s national chairman acts at the behest of the president when during his regime he forced out at least two national chairmen and replaced them at will. Obasanjo cannot claim ignorance of the fact that he determined who should contest what position at all levels of election in all the states. If there are reverses which the party currently suffers, their foundation were laid by Obasanjo and if that party and democracy collapse he should assume full responsibility. Obasanjo said he wants nothing from Jonathan as God has been very kind to him. He positions himself as a patriot whose motivations should be seen from their altruistic value. But this claim cannot fly in the face of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. A patriot will hesitate to bandy speculative allegations that can destroy his country if he is not moved by reasons that are less than noble. A patriot will not play God by talking down on the Ijaw ethnic group even when the nation’s resources are tapped from their backyard. It is not true that he wants nothing from Jonathan. He wants power. He is propelled by vaulting ambition to be the greatest Nigerian that has ever lived even when his ascendancy to power was largely accidental and opportunistic. And that is why he wants to control everything, anything. Now he is being consigned to the political dustbin for overrating his political relevance, the centre will no longer hold. That cannot qualify as an attribute of a patriot.

Obasanjo's letter to party-man By Lanre Idowu a protege. If it was legitimate for Awo to have sought to embarrass Shagari through reasoned public denunciation of his programmes and policies, does Obasanjo have a similar moral right? Ordinarily no. But Obasanjo has confessed to being shunned on several occasions when private letters were shared with Jonathan, without any acknowledgement much less reply. So in a sense, this latest letter has realized one of its objectives: it has forced the issues into the public domain. I submit Obasanjo's intention is to contain what he regards as the damage the Jonathan presidency has brought on the party through his insistence on rubbishing their succession arrangement, and on the nation through indecisiveness in fighting insecurity, corruption and extolling confidence in the citizenry. It is an admission of the crisis facing the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, the realization that power may slip away through the President's perceived perfidy, and the need to avoid the brutal verdict of history. It is a charge to the PDP to do everything to ensure Jonathan's presidency does not extend beyond 2015 in the face of a growing formidable opposition. To do otherwise is to upturn PDP's choreographed plot to keep its fantasized hold on power for 60 years with dire consequences for all the star actors. Central to the crisis is the zoning principle of power sharing in Nigeria, designed by the PDP to give a sense of belonging to the two broad North and South zones of Nigeria. I am no fan of zoning but recognise its political usefulness (when it is not for its sake) in managing a plural society such as Nigeria. Jonathan's ascendancy following President Umaru Yar'Adua's death in office has been rightly seen as fortuitous, which should not be pushed beyond the bounds of understanding in our diverse land. Jonathan's open secret plan to seek another term in the absence of any inspiring record in office is seen as contributing to the heat in the polity. APC's grand coalition is perceived as a formidable threat that can erode

the PDP's pan Nigeria credentials. As a two-time leader of Nigeria, first as an unelected military Head of State, 1975-1979 and as an elected president, 1999-2007, Obasanjo, in and out of office, loves to sermonize. It is as if he has this self imposed moral burden to chide, guide leaders, and prescribe the path they should tread. Often, he strives to cut an image of the conscience of Nigeria but because he has been so involved in the politics of this country, for good and ill, it is easy to dismiss his utterances and actions as frustrations of a disgruntled old man, ruing his loss of political office and relevance. Being a self confessed promoter of Umar Yar'AduaJonathan presidency, he has a legitimate interest in seeing Jonathan get it right, not by seeking to turn him into a lapdog. It is not wrong for a mentee to declare his independence of his mentor as long as he demonstrates his mastery of the trade. In their case both come with moral garbage. The mentor comes across as the hypocritical all-knowing oracle, without the humility to admit his own failings; the mentee as the dawdling apprentice. For the sake of his presidency and future of Nigeria, President Jonathan should see beyond the strong words of Obasanjo, address the issues raised, and demonstrate his moral and political superiority to earn a second term or quietly retire to the fishing town of Otuoke. • Idowu is CEO, Diamond Publications.

‘For the sake of his presidency and future of Nigeria, President Jonathan should see beyond the strong words of Obasanjo, address the issues raised, and demonstrate his moral and political superiority to earn a second term or quietly retire to the fishing town of Otuoke’


BUSINESS

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THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

THE NATION

E-mail:- bussiness@thenationonlineng.net

ECONOMY

THE CEO

IMF, OPS, rating agencies differ on economy status - P. 37 News Briefing Power firms pay N14billion

ELEVEN power firms paid about N14billion to government’s coffers as electricity market fund as at November, The Nation has learnt –Page 26

54% of youths jobless, says NBS ABOUT 54 per cent of youths are unemployed, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said. –Page 36

Seven firms fail to submit reports EVEN insurance firms out of of 59 are yet to submit their 2012 audited annual reports to the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), eight days to the end of this financial year. –Page 39

DATA STREAM COMMODITY PRICES Oil -$117.4/barrel Cocoa -$2,686.35/metric ton Coffee - ¢132.70/pound Cotton - ¢95.17pound Gold -$1,396.9/troy Sugar -$163/lb

“Nobody in AMCON knows who Enterprise Bank bidders are. Nobody in AMCON knows how many the bidders are, or who will be shortlisted. It is only when they (the advisers –Citi Bank and Vetiva Capital) have looked at all of these people that they decide who and who are qualified,” -Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) CEO, Mustafa Chike-Obi

‘How to combat terrorism, money laundering’ - P. 27

Capital market operators kick against new capital base T C

‘Domain name revenue spinner’ By Lucas Ajanaku

APITAL market opera tors have expressed reservations about the propriety of the new minimum capital requirements rolled out by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Capital market operators said the new capital requirement structure- which retained the previous trend of fixed capital base for a designated function, failed to sufficiently address the peculiarities of the various capital market functions. SEC had announced major increases in minimum capital requirements for capital market functions under a new minimum capital structure that is expected to take off by January 1, 2015. The apex capital market regulator increased minimum capital base for broker/dealer by 329 per cent from the existing N70 million to N300 million. Broker, which currently operates with capital base of N40 mil-

By Taofik Salako, Capital Market Ediotr

lion, will be required to have N200 million, representing an increase of 400 per cent. Minimum capital base for dealer increased by 233 per cent from N30 million to N100 million. Also, issuing houses, which facilitate new issues in the primary market, will now be required to have minimum capital base of N200 million as against the current capital base of N150 million. The capital requirement for underwriter also doubled from N100 million to N200 million. Trustees, rating agencies and portfolio and fund managers had their minimum capital base increased by 650 per cent each from N40 million, N20 million and N20 million to N300 million, N150 million and N150 million. A Registrar will have a minimum capital base of

N150 million as against the current requirement of N50 million. While the minimum capital base for corporate investment adviser remained unchanged at N5 million, individual investment advisers will have to increase their capital base by 300 per cent from N500,000 to N2 million. Stockbrokers under the auspices of Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) and Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria (ASHON) at the weekend said the new capital requirements did not reflect the underlying structures and feelings of the market. President, Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), Mr Ariyo Olushekun, said capital market operators have reservations about the new capital base structure because it does not sufficiently address the basis for capital requirements for the various market functions. According to him, market

operators prefer a riskbased capital structure, which takes into consideration the level of risks and activities of each market operator. Chairman, Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria (ASHON), Mr Emeka Madubuike, expressed similar reservations. Both Olushekun and Madubuike said market operators will coordinate their views and make such representation to SEC, expressing optimism that further consultation between the apex capital market regulator and operators will lead to a more amenable capital structure. SEC had earlier made failed attempt to increase the capital base for market functions in 2008. The increase in capital base for stockbrokers to N1 billion was suspended due to the downtrend in the capital market, which some operators partly blamed on the struggle to raise funds to meet the N1 billion.

MARKET CAPITALISATIONS NSE

-N11.4 trillion

JSE

-Z5.112trillion

NYSE

-$10.84 trillion

LSE

-£61.67 trillion RATES

Inflation

-8%

Treasury Bills -10.58%(91d) Maximum lending -30% Prime lending

-15.87%

Savings rate

-1%

91-day NTB

-15%

Time Deposit

-5.49%

MPR

-12%

Foreign Reserve

$45b

FOREX CFA

-0.2958

EUR

-206.9

£

-242.1

$

-156

¥

-1.9179

SDR

-238

RIYAL

-40.472

• From left: Vice President, Sunflag Group, Mr. S. K. Ahuja; Executive Director, Sunflag Group, Mr. M. G. Menon and Group Managing Director, Origin Group Limited, Prince Samuel Joseph Samuel, during the end of the year party of Origin Group, PHOTO: SOLOMON ADEOLA at the company’s Headquarters in Surulere, Lagos.

CBN guarantees N840m to 4,400 farmers

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HE Central Bank of Ni geria (CBN) guaran teed a total of N840 million to 4,413 farmers under the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS), The Nation has learnt. This amount, represented a decrease of 6.9 and 77 per cent below the levels in the preceding month and the corresponding period of last year. A sub-sectoral analysis showed that food crops obtained the largest share of N669.9 million guaranteed to 3,195 beneficiaries, livestock got N123.9 million (14.9 per

By Collins Nweze

cent) guaranteed to 1,016 beneficiaries, while Fisheries had N27.6 million (3.4 per cent) guaranteed to 93 beneficiaries. Others received N6.2 million (0.7 per cent) guaranteed to 62 beneficiaries, mixed crops received N6.2million (0.7 per cent) guaranteed to 24 beneficiaries, while Cash crops received N6.1 million (0.7 per cent) guaranteed to 23 beneficiaries. Analysis by state showed that 28 states benefited from

the scheme during the month with the highest and lowest sums of N121.3 million (19.9 per cent) and N22.7 million (0.1 per cent) guaranteed to Edo and Delta states. Also, the total amount released by the CBN under the CACS to the participating banks for disbursement stood at N220.2 billion for two hundred and ninety one (291) projects/promoters. Available data indicated that agricultural activities received a major boost due to stable and well distributed rainfall in August, last year.

However, prospects for increased agricultural output remained constrained due to security concerns in most Northern states. Activities in the sector were dominated by harvesting of maize, yam and vegetables. In the livestock sub-sector, most poultry farmers intensified clearing and disinfesting of broiler houses and surroundings to minimise the incidence of diseases associated with wet season. The farmers also restocked broilers to target end of year festivities

HE Managing Director of Upperlink Limited, Mr. Segun Akano, has decried the attitude of Nigerians for not embracing the domain name, arguing that next to oil, it is capable of generating revenue. Akano, who spoke in Lagos over the weekend, said registering a domain name on the .ng will promote visibility and enhance growth. “We have made our domain name, our oil reserves dormant. As we see oil physically, the .ng is our invisible oil reserves which have the potential to boost our economy,” he said, lamenting that in a country with over 170 million people, less than 10,000 have registered on the .ng domain name. He said the .ng domain name is less popular because it came a little late, warning ,however, that .com space is fast depleting. “The .com space is becoming saturated. So, if you are a business man, it is advisable to you register your domain name on the .ng. You can also register your name on the .ng space, download your work or books and start earning income. The Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) has made it so easy by crashing the price from as high as N6million to only N15,000,” he said. According to him, it is also possible to register a domain name of choice on .com.ng, .net.ng, .org.ng and .name.ng at only N1,500. He said every user of the .com domain name contributes $10 to the American economy, adding that if the .ng is embraced en mass, it is a job spinner for the army of the unemployed roaming the streets of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and other major cities of the country in search of the Golden Fleece. He said Upperlink Limited, as one of the companies approved to serve as registrars to NIRA, has in order to encourage more people to embrace the initiative, not only reduced the registration cost but also offered to give a oneyear free hosting right to people that take advantage of the initiative. Speaking on the occasion, CPN Registrar, Mr. Sikiru Shehu, said the .ng is Nigeria’s critical national natural resource, adding that physical world is gradually being transformed into the virtual one. He said Google.com was bought for about $10but the company today earns $34 billion annually, an amount of money Nigeria does not earn from her crude oil. He expressed amazement that Nigerians were not taking advantage of ‘buying land in the cyber space’ as another form of investment.


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THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

BUSINESS NEWS Flight Schedule

TUC, NLC to curtail strikes

MONDAY - FRIDAY LAGOS – ABUJA Departure Arrival 1. Aero 06.50 08.10 2. Associated 07.00 09.30 3. Air Nigeria 07.00 08.20 4. IRS 07.00 08.20 5. Dana 07.02 08.22 6. Arik 07.15 08.15 7. Chanchangi 07.15 8. Air Nigeria 08.15 09.35 9. Dana 08.10 09.20 10. Aero 08.45 10.05 11. Arik 09.15 10.15 12. Chanchangi 10.00 11.00 13. IRS 11.15 12.35 14. Dana 12.06 12.26 15. Aero 12.20 13.30 16. Air Nigeria 13.25 14.45 17. Chanchangi 13.30 14.30 18. Arik 13.45 14.45 19. IRS 14.00 15.20 20. Aero 14.10 15.30 21. Air Nigeria 14.50 16.10 22. Dana 15.30 16.50 23. Chanchangi 15.30 16.30 24. Arik 15.50 16.50 25. Aero 16.00 17.20 26. IRS 16.30 17.50 27. Arik 16.50 17.50 28. Dana 17.10 18.30 29. Chanchangi 17.30 18.30 30. Air Nigeria 17.35 18.55 31. Air Nigeria (T/TH) 18.30 19.50 32. Arik 18.45 19.45 33. Aero 19.20 20.40 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

LAGOS – BENIN Arik 07.30 Associated 08.30 Aero 10.50 Arik 11.45 Associated 13.00 Aero 14.25 Arik 15.30 Associated 16.00

1. 2. 3. 4.

Arik Aero Arik Aero

1. Arik 2. Aero 1. 2. 3. 4.

LAGOS – CALABAR 07.30 11.20 12.50 16.00 LAGOS – JOS 10.55 11.15

LAGOS – KADUNA Aero 08.00 Chanchangi 10.00 Arik 10.00 Arik 15.10

08.30 09.10 11.50 12.45 13.40 15.20 16.30 16.40 08.50 12.40 14.10 17.20 12.15 12.45 09.10 11.00 11.10 16.20

LAGOS – PORT HARCOURT (CIVIL) 1. Aero 07.15 08.35 2. Arik 07.15 08.35 3. Arik 09.00 10.20 4. Dana 09.27 10.40 5. Aero 10.50 12.30 6. Arik 11.40 13.00 7. Air Nigeria 12.00 13.10 8. IRS 13.30 15.00 9. Arik 14.00 15.20 10. Dana 15.03 16.20 11. Air Nigeria 16.00 17.10 12. Arik 16.10 17.30 13. Aero 16.15 17.30 14. Arik 17.10 18.30 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

LAGOS – OWERRI Aero 07.30 Arik 07.30 Air Nigeria 13.40 Arik 14.00 Arik 16.30

08.40 08.40 14.55 15.10 17.40

1. 2. 3. 4.

Arik Aero Arik Aero

LAGOS – WARRI 08.15 11.50 11.55 14.55

09.1 12.50 12.55 15.55

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

LAGOS – KANO Air Nigeria 07.10 IRS 08.00 Dana 08.10 Arik 12.20 IRS 14.00 IRS 18.15

08.50 09.45 09.40 14.00 15.45 19.55

LAGOS – OWERRI 07.20 14.00 16.30

08.30 15.10 17.40

LAGOS – UYO 10.35

11.35

1. Arik 2. Arik 3. Arik 1. Dana

LAGOS – MAIDUGURI 1. IRS 11.15 13.15 2. Arik 15.50 18.00 LAGOS – ILORIN 1. Overland 07.15 2. Arik (M/T/TH/F) 17.30

08.00 18.00

LAGOS – ABUJA SAT/SUN Arik 7.15; 10.20; 2.20; 5.20pm – 7.30; 9.15; 10.20; 2.20; 4.50; 6.45 Aero 07.30; 09.35; 13.10; 14.50; 20.20 – 07.30; 09.35; 13.10; 14.50; 20.20 Air Nigeria 08.15; 14.30; 17.15; 18.30 – 08.15; 13.30; 14.30; 17.15; 18.30

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• Managing Director Fortis Microfinance Bank, Mr. Kunle Oketikun (left) and Group Chief Executive Officer Primlaks Group, Mr. Ravi Hemnani at the Fortis MFBWomen Fair in Abuja.

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Power firms pay N14billion

LEVEN power firms paid about N14billion to govern ment’s coffers as electricity market fund as at November, The Nation has learnt An operator in the Nigerian Electricity Market (ONEM), who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the money was paid by the power distribution companies (DISCOs). “That was the amount paid by the firm for November. For now, the amount was fixed. It could be increased by tomorrow, based on the market trends and what the regulatory body decides upon,” he said. Also, the Head, Power Contract and Power Procurement, Nigerian

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Bulk Electricity Trading Company Plc, Yesufu Alonge, said the firms, on the average, paid N12billion for November, adding, however, that the firms did not pay a flat rate. He said: “ONEM are in the best position to say how much the companies have paid. I think ONEM have the facts and figures on the transactions and performance of the interim market. Whatever they said should be accepted as accurate. They know what each firm has paid and the outstanding.” Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Power, Reynolds Beks

Dagogo Jack, said a pre-Transitional Electricity Market (TEM) has been put in place for market growth, adding that the pre-Transitional Electricity Market shall be the subsisting order until next years when the Transnational Market will kick off. He said the market would be a platform through which the quantity of electricity sold would be measured, adding that the development would help in improving the industry’ growth. He said the government had introduced measures to make the power sector reforms to improve electricity supply and the economy.

ATCON warns against backlash of NCC’s policy

HE Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has warned the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) against implementing its open access model for broadband deployment. It said a similar policy by the regulator a few years ago affected internet service providers (ISPs). ATCON’s President, Lanre Ajayi, said the first step in a new policy should be its environment impact assessment (EIA). He urged the NCC to undertake an EIA of the broadband policy. He said there could be a backlash of a good policy. According to him, a policy by the NCC a few years ago which stopped ISPs from operating at a particular band depleted the number of players from 92 to less than 30, adding that the policy might also have a similar ripple effect in the industry. “Have we done the socio-eco-

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By Akinola Ajibade

By Lucas Ajanaku

nomic impact assessment the policy? I think we should do the socio economic impact of the policy before we jump into its implementation,” Ajayi warned. Under the open access model, which the NCC intends to implement, a total of seven companies called InfraCos will be licensed to provide broadband services in the six geo-political zones of the country will one of the InfraCos will operate in Lagos. NCC Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Dr Eugene Juwah, said the government would provide funds to the InfraCos based on their plan. But some players in the sector said it could lead to unfair practices. One of the stakeholders in the in-

dustry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, lamented that the NCC would spend public funds on the companies the regulator will be licensing to provide broadband services to the citizens. “When you deploy public funds to a private investor, such funds will be used to have undue advantage over the players in the industry,” he said. But the EVC said there was nothing esoteric about the government offering subsidy to investors, arguing that the earliest players in the mobile telephone services enjoyed tax holidays for about five years, adding that even after the expiration of the five years, some of them were not ready to pay. Juwah said since the project for which subsidy was being provided was for the public good, there was nothing wrong with providing such an incentive, arguing that fears of the players in the segment was baseless.

By Toba Agboola

HE Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria and the Ni geria Labour Congress (NLC) are to collaborate to end industrial actions in the country from 2014, President of TUC, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama has said. He said the two labour umbrella bodies are partnering to curb incessant strikes among their affiliates. He assured Nigerians and the government that incessant industrial actions witnessed during the year would be curbed as from next year. He said as trade union leaders, they consider strike as the last resort in industrial disputes, adding that the union will see how to resolve it next year. “We are going to do our best to see how we will resolve issues before it degenerated into industrial strikes,” he said. He regretted the prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other strikes that had paralysed the economy. Also on the threat by PENGASSAN to embark on strike this yuletide, Kaigama said it was a way of showing their grievances.

Firms sign MoU

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FIRM Primlaks has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with GEMS 4 and Fortis Microfinance Bank to create wealth for some indigent women in eight states. The deal is expected to impact the lives of 63,000 women entrepreneurs at the grassroots in Kubwa, Maraba, Kuje, Kabusa, Gwagwalada and Abaji, all in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The Executive Consulting Adviser to Primlaks Group, Piyush Nair, said the partnership would create more women entrepreneurs who would reshape their circumstances by leveraging available opportunities. “Our partnership will create an avenue to wealth for indigent business women, especially because it provides direct manufacturer-distributor interface as well as distributor-financier alignment,” he said, adding that the cooperative scheme would enable women at the grassroots to access Primlaks’ products. To start the scheme, Nair said the women will be offered the company’s solar lanterns, which comes in three models. “In practical terms, this translates to better pricing, instalment payments, access to soft loans, pooling of resources through a cooperative system and training on sales techniques,” he said, stressing, he said.

EMS takes over PHCN’S non-core assets, services

HE Electricity Management Services Limited (EMS) has taken over non-core assets and services of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to bridge the gaps that would be created by the sale and take-over of the generation and distribution facilities by their new owners. The assets are those not included in the facilities sold to the private sector investors under the power sector reform such as the engineering laboratories, meter test stations, and central stores (where electrical equipment and materials are kept). The agency will also provide ancillary and support services to the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), such as testing and certification of major electrical power equip-

By Emeka Ugwuanyi

ment, standardisation of processes, equipment and materials and also archive power sector data and information. It will also ensure safe use of power in houses. The agency has taken over the central stores at Oshodi, national meter test station, Oshodi, and also the clinics. Other assets handed over to the agency include the central workshop where transformers are repaired and nuts and bolts manufactured; central laboratories and printing press where electricity bills and other important documents are printed. These are located in Ijora, a Lagos suburb. In Abuja, the agency inherited only the clinics while in Port Harcourt, it received the central stores and meter

test station. In Enugu, the agency was handed over the clinics and the central stores in Kaduna. The ceremony was done in the presence of the representatives of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and PHCN. For instance, during the handover in Lagos, Mr. Ugochukwu Ogbonna represented the BPE while Mr. Hakim Afolabi, Assistant General Manager (Performance Management) represented the PHCN. Managing Director/Chief Executive, EMS, Peter Ewesor, said: “EMS is one of the successor companies from the defunct PHCN that were established by the Federal Government in line with the Electricity Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act to take over the noncore assets of the defunct PHCN and utilise those facilities to provide common services to the entire industry

(generation, transmission and distribution). This is our first visit to these facilities to see what is on ground, assess them and formally take them over from the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), the agency charged with the responsibility of carrying out reforms in the power sector.” On why should government wind down one company and create a new one, he said: “EMS was established to create efficiency in the industry and not a duplication of any sort. He said that these assets are already existing and instead of establishing another company to build capacity afresh, it is better to build on existing capacity, therefore, the function the EMS will execute will not be limited to managing printing press, laboratories and workshops, among others, there are other statutory functions the agency will perform.


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THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

BUSINESS NEWS Developer unveils 3800-unit market

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NIVERSAL Marketers (the umbrella body of 14 Trad ers’ Associations in Central Lagos) has inaugurated 3800-unit ultra-modern market at Magbodo on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. They were built to provide a conducive business environment for residents and further change the agrarian status of the area. The project is being developed by PhasePlus Property Limited, While Skye Bank is the financier. An architect with PhasePlus Property Limited, Mr Akinola Akinyemi, said first class facilities would be provided to make the market conducive to shoppers. He listed the facilities to include access roads, shops, a central mall, car parks, banking halls, maximum

By Akinola Ajibade

security network, controlled sewage, waste management facilities, and a fire station. Others are 24-hour electricity power and water supply. ‘’We designed the project to ensure that we move business people who strongly desirous of locating to a more conducive environment where they can conduct their businesses with ease and in an atmosphere of serene tranquility. ‘’In the past one or two decades, membership of the association has had to contend with very serious economic difficulties deriving mainly from the problems associated with their present location,” he added.

Fed Govt urged on food security

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N agricultural economist Prof Adewale Dipeolu has urged the government to establish a national electronic food-tracking system to boost food safety supervision and prevent spread of food borne diseases. Dipeolu of the Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, at the Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) Investors forum in Lagos, called for a system that tracks the movement of fresh produce to the supermarket shelf to tighten the industry. Under the programme, which is voluntary, the government would monitor products as they leave wholesale markets to make sure the same food arrives at the supermarket. He said a livestock identification programme would help agriculture officials track livestock in cases of disease outbreaks, allowing epidemiological investigators to quickly learn from which farm a suspect animal originated. To achieve this, Dipeolu, said the government needs to develop an electronic identification and management system for livestock, which create a national livestock registry and reliable supply chain traceability for animals and animal products. He said the system’s main goal was to track animals’movements

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ESEARCHERS at the Interna tional Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have grown seed yams in the air using aeroponics technology, raising hopes and more options for the propagation of virus- and diseasefree planting materials. In preliminary trials, Dr Norbert Maroya, Project Manager for the Yam Improvement for Incomes and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA) project at IITA, and a team of scientists successfully propagated yams by planting vine cuttings in Aeroponics System (AS) boxes to produce mini-tubers in the air. The Aeroponics System is the growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil or an aggregate medium. The tech-

By Daniel Essiet

nology is used by commercial potato seed producers in eastern Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania etc.), and southern Africa (Mozambique, Malawi etc.), but growing yam on aeroponics is a novelty for rapidly multiplying the much needed clean seed yam tubers in large quantities. “With this approach we are optimistic that farmers will begin to have clean seed yams for better harvest,” Dr Maroya said on Friday. Preliminary results showed that vine rooting in Aeroponics System had at least 95 per cent success rate compared to vine rooting in carbonised rice husk with a maximum rate of 70 per cent. Rooting time was much shorter in aeroponics.

Aeroponics is coming at an opportune time for African farmers. Traditionally, seed yam production is expensive and inefficient. Farmers save about 25 per cent to 30 per cent of their harvest for planting the same area in the following season, meaning less money in their pockets. Moreover, these saved seeds are often infested with pathogens that significantly reduce farmers’ yield year after year. IITA Director for Western Africa Dr Robert Asiedu described the results as “impressive”. “Yam is an important crop in Africa and addressing the seeds’ constraint will go a long way in improving the livelihoods of farmers who depend on the crop for their livelihood,” he added.

By Daniel Essiet

so agriculture and health officials can quickly establish quarantines and take other steps to prevent the spread of disease. He said traceability is a critical part of the safety requirements that businesses should adopt and maintain to reduce the scope of potential contamination and speed up the process in the event of a recall. T h e be s t a p p r o ac h t o f o o d safety, he noted begins at the farm level with seed testing and tests pertaining to soil condition as well as animal feed. This should be supplemented with staff training, implementation of sound agricultural practices and third-party auditing/certification. He maintained that a food safety outbreak originating from a single farm could have devastating economic consequences to the entire sector and diminish consumer confidence in farm produce The tracing will require food companies to maintain records on inputs and distribution one step up and down the food chain. On the programme, he said the gathering was a sign of governments’ strong commitment, leadership and vision with regard to reducing hunger and poverty.

Firm bags awards

SUS has been recognised as the number-one Taiwanese brand in the Best Taiwan Global Brands Awards. The ASUS brand value showed resolve and maintained a steady climb, and is now estimated at N282.32.billion (USD 1.711 billion).This marks the 11th continuous year that ASUS has made the top-three list of international Taiwanese brands. Its Vice Chairman and President, Mr. Jonathan Tsang, said: “Our In Search of Incredible brand promise finds the balance between technology and humanity as we transform users’ expectations of mobile computing, giving them new ways to interact with their devices. ASUS is passionate about technology and driven by innovation. We dream, we dare and we strive to create an effortless and joyful digital life for everyone. We’re always in search of incredible ideas and experiences — and we aspire to deliver the incredible in everything we do.” The Best Taiwan Global Brands Awards is held by the Industrial Development Bureau, Ministry of Economic Affairs, R.O.C and global branding consultancy Interbrand. The awards are seen as a key indicator of the position

Researchers grow ‘seed yams in the air’

held by Taiwanese brands in the global market. The awards are given out based on brand value, which include the financial performance of the company, the role the brand plays in the consumer purchase decision, and the competitive strength of the brand.

• From right: President, Nigerian Computer Society (NCS), Prof David Adewumi; Provost, College of Fellows, Alhaji Oladimeji Ogunewe and Director, Corporate Affairs, Mr Iyiola Ayoola during the National Information Technology Merit Award (NITMA) in Lagos.

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VP’s guest house remodelling to cost N215m

N 2014, the Presidency wants to spend N215 million to remodel a new guest house in the Asokoro District for the Vice President. This is a new project captured in next year’s budget along with another new one, the reconstruction of the rear perimeter fence and provision of a new gate house accommodation for the State House Medical Centre (SHMC) estimated at N50 million This is contained in the budget details submitted to the National Assembly last Thursday in Abuja by the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. According to details, an additional N10 million will be spent to rehabilitate the Presidential/Min-

From Nduka Chiejina (Asst. Editor), Abuja

isterial chalet at the airport. Also contained in the budget details is a N25 million item to provide individual car trackers for 100 presidential ground fleet and utility vehicles. In the new year, it has been proposed that N14.5 million is expected to be expended on two wildlife animals (not specified) at the rate of N7,250,000 each. N18,850,000 is expected to be spent on furnishing the gym at the Presidency with N6 million budgeted for “two sauna baths (hot stone wooden sauna, 4X3M six adults) at N3 million each.

Other gym items to be newly purchased for the Presidency in 2014 include six sets of wardrobe/towel shelves (polished wood) at N300,000 each; two benches (2X0.4M) at N1 million each; one massaging bed (2X0.4M) at N2,100,000; 20 pieces of medicine balls at N45,000 each; one handcraft rowing machine at N1,200,000; sports kits for State House Sports Club at N4.2 million and 10 steam belts at N65,000. N8 million has been budgeted for the purchase of kitchen and household equipment for the Vice President’s residence and another N23,750,000 for the purchase of laundry equipment for the Presidency.

• Director-General, Institute of Administrators and Researchers of Nigeria (IARN), Prof Jacob Etinagbedia flanked by guest speaker, Dr Joseph Ododo (2nd left); Dr Mufutau Adebowale (4th right); Interim Management Officer, Garun Mallam Local Government Area, Kano State, Alhaji Usani Ali Ajingi (3rd right) at the national conference/induction of the institute at Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja.


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

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THE CEO Terrorism and money laundering are twin evils. But how can Nigeria, despite being delisted from countries identified as jurisdictions with significant deficiencies in Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) campaigns, tackle these problems? It is by building systems, says Head, Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) office in Nigeria, Timothy Melaye. In this interview with COLLINS NWEZE, he insists that intelligent and influential people are behind money laundering.

‘How to combat terrorism, money laundering’ O

NE of the key issues your organisation addresses is terrorism financing. Nigeria is faced with this problem believed to be funded externally. How relevant is your organisation in this matter? Well, you see, who would have thought that terrorists would blow the World Trade Center in the United States of America (USA) or would have thought that the Kings Court Station in the United Kingdom (UK) would be blown up by terrorists. There were cameras; there were digital information; there were intelligent gathering and all of that. Recently, there was bombing in Boston. So, the issue of terrorist activities is borne out of the fact that there is increase in evil people. Evil people plan evil every day. When out of 600 plans, that one that succeeded will make news more than those 599 that were averted. That is the case with terrorist activities. Of course, GIABA did not state in clear terms that it is fighting terrorism. No! Our work is issues of combating the financing, and in this case, certainly, there is funding. If somebody drove a car, he did not bring the car from the road. Probably, he used money to buy the car. Even though cases have shown that some of them were snatched, or stolen, but either we like it or not, there are funds involved in terrorism. Some of them carry AK47 rifles, you can’t buy such from the street, it costs huge sums of money and with this of course, and there are issues of finance. You cannot fight terrorism. It is just like if you want to kill a fish, just drain its water and leave the fish inside. In no time, the fish will not survive. So, what we are trying to do is to identify the means of draining the resources from those who finance terrorism. If you really want to kill a fish without your bullet, obviously, you have to drain out the water from the pond. What we are doing is just working virtually and systematically with member-states to ensure that all of these are done, and those people doing this will no longer have a hiding place. Nigeria was delisted from the list of noncoooperative countries. What does it mean to be non-cooperative; does it mean that it is cooperating or no money laundering is going on in the country? Like you know, money laundering is a derivative crime. What do I mean by a derivative crime? It is not a crime you commit directly now. You must have committed criminal offence to get illicit wealth before you can lander it. So, it is a crime you are deriving from another crime that has existed before. So, you cannot stand here and nobody anywhere in the world can say there is no money laundering going on here or there. No! Every country is trying to ensure that it is minimised. The people who are involved in money laundering and other proceeds of crime are intelligent, articulate, have access to resources and sometimes, influential. So, if they say a country is complying, that means a country is meeting those recommendations; putting in place the structures that I have mentioned. That means, your jurisdiction has built the structure that will protect it from money laundering. As I am talking to you, what if somebody is buying jewelry with stolen money? That means money laundering is taking place. He

• Melaye

‘You cannot fight terrorism. It is just like if you want to kill a fish, just drain its water and leave the fish inside. In no time, the fish will not survive. So, what we are trying to do is to identify the means of draining the resources from those who finance terrorism’ just goes into a jewelry shop and they tell him this gold will cost N20 million, and he says oh! No problem put it in my bag. They tell him another one will cost N16 million and he says no problem, and picks it up. Because he knows that is the treasure he can hide his money, because jewelry, especially gold, anytime you want to sell it, you can just take it back to the market and resell your thing. He has cancelled the source of the money. He has made it to appear like clean money. That is what money laundering is all about. And it will be reintegrated into the system. Now, we are saying that the jewelry seller should pay the money into his account. And when they see money in his account, he will say ‘ha you don’t know it was the jewelry that I sold?’ The origin has changed. So, what

will they do? So that is what happens in many nations. When we say that a country is complying, and it is enlisted on public statement, that means that the country is complying with the regulations, putting up necessary structures; the laws, awareness, and implementing them. Banks are following the Know Your Customer (KYC), due diligence and other things required from them by the regulators. The awareness is created, and all the offences are criminalised in law. And money laundering itself is an offence in the law. So, when you have all those things in place, that means the country is cooperating. It is putting up structure so that its domains, its territories, are not a haven for those who launder money and finance terrorist activi-

ties. The CBN took some key policy actions close to the time GIABA and FATF team came to Nigeria for on-sight inspection. There was a change from Wholesale Dutch Auction System to Retail Dutch Auction System and enforcement of other antimoney laundering rules to ensure that Nigeria was delisted from the list of non-cooperating countries. Why did the CBN go that far? Well, I can not speak for Nigeria because I can’t say that I am directly working for GIABA or for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and what we do here is to talk for the region. So, I cannot speak specifically for Nigeria, what they did and why they did it as at the time they did it. But I know that in Nigeria, both the government and the operators have shown commitment towards ensuring that the country complies with those standards. So, of course, for you to comply, you have to put up what is required of you. The country did not just got into the list. The country was in the list before it came out in 2004. Of course, Nigeria Mutual Evaluation Report took place in 2007 and was adopted in 2008 after the adoption, the GIABA and FATF expected Nigeria to make some significant progress in case of follow up report on that mutual evaluation and the gaps required to fill. And when those gaps were not filled up sufficiently, as at the time it was expected, that was why Nigeria went back to the public statement. So, what the country needed to do if it wanted to come out of the public statement, the gaps that have been identified had to be filled. If you see a lot of policies coming up, the policies are intended to fill those gaps and if they didn’t fill it, they will still be on a public statement. By the time you finished filling these, it doesn’t matter whether you will fill all of them at once or five years or 10 years, the longer it takes, the more the country will degenerate from the green list to black list to all kinds of things like that. So, the country therefore, would have done what it needed to do to get out of the list. Whatever it has done would have been as a response to the fact that the country is working hard to comply with all necessary regulations. A lot of laws were passed, bills were sent to the National Assembly, those laws will enhance the policies of the banks, the policies of designated non financial sector, and all kinds of issues would be put in place. Now that the country feels that it has addressed those challenges that have been identified in the Mutual Evaluation report, then, it would be presented to the plenary session of the FATF. Why doesn’t the acronym of GIABA match its full meaning? I ask this question because it means Group Inter-Governmental d’Action Centre le Blanchiment d’Argent en Afrique de l’Quest. That is the English name but, the acronym actually, is a French acronym as the Intergovernmental Action Against Money Laundering in West Africa, does not synchronise with what we have on the acronym as a GIABA. This is because GIABA is an organisation that is formed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). And ECOWAS, of course, has membership across all West African countries, and there are 15 ECOWAS members that formed ECOWAS. So, because it also has English speaking, French speaking and Portuguese speaking, since the name is always called in English, we prefer that the acronym be in French. It is a way of creating sense of ownership to all the member states. However, most documents of the organisation come in English, French and Portuguese to represent the combination of the whole components. ECOWAS established GIABA in the year 2000 because of the need to see issues relating to money laundering and terrorist financing to be addressed within the region. •Continued on page 29


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THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

THE CEO

‘How to combat terrorism, money laundering’ •Continued from page 28

After the establishment of GIABA in the year 2000, they were setting up process and all of that. The initial mandate of GIABA was to work assiduously in combating money laundering and terrorist financing within the region. They are to ensure that people do not have access to launder the proceeds of crime within the region. That was the core mandate of GIABA as it was given by it statutes. In essence, all the work we do revolves around this mandate. Working with all the member states. Two other countries, Sao Tome and Principe have also joined. Though Sao Tome and Principe is not member of ECOWAS but it is a member of GIABA, because GIABA has more opportunity to add more members that would address issues concerned. This country made GIABA members to be 16 instead of 15 ECOWAS countries. What is the relationship between GIABA and Financial Action Task Force (FATF)? The FATF is the global standard setting body for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/ CFT) while GIABA, is an associate member of FATF. This gives GIABA the opportunity to be part of every decision making at the FATF. In terms of relationship, GIABA is also what they call the FATF Style Regional Body. What they mean by FATF Style Regional Body (FSRB) is the body that covers this jurisdiction. For instance, there are over 180 countries that have signed into the FATF, and Jurisdictions. FATF will not be able to cover all these countries effectively and so they have SRBs that manage the jurisdictions. For instance, GIABA is the FATF SRB in West Africa. So, the role of FATF is being played by GIABA within West Africa. For instance, they conduct mutual evaluation which is the peer review mechanism to assess a county’s performance in terms of plans to fight money laundering and terrorist financing. In conducting mutual evaluation, what are the issues always considered? The mutual evaluation exercise is usually to check, in the whole form of it, a country’s compliance with the recommendations. FATF has what it calls “40 Recommendations” it used to be 40 plus nine, but after the revision, it was revised to have 40 recommendations that comprises money laundering, issues of terrorist financing, and proliferation of light weapons and weapons of mass destruction which they call proliferation financing. Also, countering the finances of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or light weapons. So, these are the key issues that are addressed in those 40 recommendations, and what countries needed to do to prove standards. Mutual evaluation is to identify gaps that countries have based on these recommendations. For instance, the recommendation is talking about the enactment of adequate legislation, laws that will combat terrorism. In a lawless society, it is criminal to be law abiding. So, it is to make sure that all the member states have adequate legislation, laws that combat money laundering because criminals will be looking for countries where laws do not exist to go and operate, so even when you catch them, there is nothing you can use to prosecute them. What we do for instance, is to ensure that all countries have adequate legislation. You remember that sometimes ago, in Nigeria they said had anti money laundering law but did it have law against terrorist financing? So, we look at all the issues of legislation, we look at financial institutions. What role are they playing? Are their platforms available, readily confirmed? Do they prepare transaction report? Do they remit to transaction report, and were those reports well processed? What roles do they have to play, and their impact in terms of moving finances/ money from one country to another? So, all are those areas that we are looking into. Customers due diligence, the customs, the immigration, movement of cash and goods and all the other areas, even the designated non-financial businesses and profession; could be somebody who deals with the issues like property. If someone wants to

• Melaye

‘Every country, every nation has excesses. There are criminals everywhere. What we are trying to do is to put the systems that will work and will not allow criminals to go undetected. If the criminals know that they no longer have a hiding place because they will be detected, that will reduce the number of people that may wish to go into criminal activities’ launder money through property and he decides not to take the money to a bank, he can approach a property firm and decide to buy 20 duplexes in choice areas. He is laundering the proceeds of crime. He is not taking the money to the bank, but he is making transactions and payments and the money is going into property. Later, when you ask him where he got the money he would say, you don’t know that I am into property business? I have been buying property bit by bit and now I even have over 40 properties. I have 200 houses, and I am into estate. And he has successfully hidden the source of his estate wealth. So, we will be looking at designated non-financial businesses and professions. That could be the hardest part of your job? Yes! And that is because we have a very large informal sector. Informal sectors where things are not going through formal processes. For instance in Nigeria, they have what we call Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering (SCUML). For you to operate in any business, you have to register with them now as a regulation body. May be Bureau de Change, may be estate agents, may be law firm, may be accounting firm, and all of those things, because if you want to buy a property now, you will need a lawyer who will do the agreement. You need an estate manager who will make all the perfections and check the papers. All of them now are compelled to register with SCUML If you register with SCUML, any transaction

you do within certain threshold will be reported as suspicious transaction. For instance, if I come to you and I work as a civil servant, and I say, I want to buy 200 houses, it is a suspicious transaction. My salary as a civil servant may be at that time, just N200,000 and I want to buy a property of about N250 million. It is a suspicious transaction. You will go ahead to do your transaction but, you report it to the financial intelligent unit. It is their work to investigate, to identify, and to know if it is something to be looked into or not so that no stone is left unturned, no loophole is created in the system. If it is jewelry or you sell cars, all manner of things, same procedure will be followed. And if you are caught not reporting when you should, then you know that you are aiding and abetting. The law covers not only the perpetrators of the crime but also the people who knew but conspired not to report it. When the SCUML policy was introduced, many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) kicked against it. Is the policy still being implemented? Yes, it is being implemented. A lot of organisations subscribe to it including nongovernmental organisations and faith-based organisations. You may have your grudges but you have to subscribe to it. If you say you don’t like traffic lights, that will not make you not to obey traffic lights. If you break the rules, there are sanctions.

Fine, it has been spelt out that this is the process to go. Fine, some people may not like it and would prefer to hide their identities, maybe they don’t want to be part of it, but the day they are caught by law, they will pay for it. Recently the SCUML implementation deadline was extended to allow more people to take part. People are already keying into the SCUML policy because it will get to a point that you would want to do your business as an agency and they will ask you to produce your SCUML registration certificate. Banks will begin to demand that for you to open an account, you must provide SCUML registration certificate. By the time you want to open an account and your account officer says that you must produce your SCUML registration for that to happen, then you will know that it is very important. And overtime, they will find out that there are no options and they will have no other choice but to go and register. So, these are the kind of processes that are being put in place and this is what will help. And you know also that there have been reductions on the volume of cash people can carry. So everybody is compelled one way or the other, through processes and systems, to go into the banking system. You want to just carry your money around, to go and pay N5 million and withdraw it when you need it, the bank will demand that you explain why. There is a limit to what you can take now. If you are taking outside of it, it is something that can be reported. If you are taking more than the threshold, they will charge you and also report it. A follow up is going to be made on that personality, to find out if there are any issues of money laundering or any form of terrorist financing going on there. So, these are some of the issues. It is not about the noise, it is not about the media, it is not about the type of things people want or people don’t want. It is about putting structures and systems that will make it work. For instance, if I drive a Range Rover and the traffic light stops me but nobody sees me, if I beat the traffic light, I will just go away, as far as, there is no police in the front that is going to stop me. I have beaten the traffic and I have escaped it. But, if I beat the traffic in London, I am not supposed to see the policeman there, I will just beat the traffic and go, so, in the evening, they will just bring the fine bill to my house if I am a first offender but if I am a second or third offender, sometimes, it is even possible for me to go through legal processes. So, these are the systems that we must put in place. Systems that will not allow you to see the police but will chase you when you beat the traffic as it is done in London or in New York city. The systems are what we are trying to build because, every cars that is driven in UK is registered with the owner’s phone address, emails with residential address of the person who registered the car. Whoever is driving the car, the camera is there to pick its number plate and the owner will be identified. If you are not the one that drove the car when it contravened the law, you will provide the person that drove it because records are there. So, it is not because people want to obey laws but because there are systems to check people’s excesses. Every country, every nation has excesses. There are criminals everywhere. What we are trying to do is to put the systems that will work and will not allow criminals to go undetected. If the criminals know that they no longer have a hiding place because they will be detected, that will reduce the number of people that may wish to go into criminal activities. So, if I know that it doesn’t matter whether everybody is seeing me or not, as far as I passed it at the wrong time, the camera will see me, all I need to do is just to be there, and once the light passes me, I will move. When the system is there, you will know that when you break the law, there is something that will find you and bring you out to face justice. What we are trying to do now and I think the Nigerian government particularly, is making effort to help us. The CBN and other financial regulators are working on those systems, and as soon as they are in place, you will find out that the proper structure to combat money laundering and terrorist financing in this country and this region will b e minimised.


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THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

EQUITIES NIGERIAN STOCK EXCHANGE DAILY SUMMARY AS AT 20-12-13

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NSE's index rises by 1.88% on N18.8b deals

NVESTORS earned average return of about 1.88 per cent last week as the Nigerian stock market rode on the back of substantial gains by several stocks to push average year-to-date return beyond the 40 per cent mark. In spite of intermittent declines due to profit-taking and yuletide transactions, equities sustained a positive overall market situation. The All Share Index (ASI), the benchmark index that doubles as the common index for equities on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and country index for Nigeria, ended the week with a gain of 1.88 per cent to close at 39,562.75 points as against its index-on-board of 38,831.59 points for the week. The uptrend added N234 billion in new capital gains to the market capitalization of quoted equities. Aggregate market value of all equities on the NSE increased from N12.427 trillion to N12.661 trillion. With 43 gainers to 34 losers,

By Taofik Salako Capital Market Editor

the spread and number of advancers indicated widespread bullish sentiments amidst bargain hunting for low-priced stocks. Six out of the eight sectoral indices at the NSE appreciated, underlining the bullish trend across the main sectors. The NSE 30 Index, NSE Consumer Goods Index, NSE Banking Index, NSE Oil and Gas Index, NSE Lotus Islamic Index and NSE Industrial Goods Index appreciated by 1.43 per cent, 0.42 per cent, 1.35 per cent, 0.51 per cent, 1.99 per cent and 2.97 per cent respectively. However, the NSE Insurance Index slipped by 0.98 per cent while the NSE ASeM Index remained unchanged. Major stocks that impacted largely on the overall market situation included Dangote Cement and Nestle Nigeria, which share price rose by 5.81 per cent and 5.50 per cent to

close at N1,185.10 and N211 respectively. Dangote Cement is Nigeria's most capitalized stock while Nestle Nigeria holds the lead as the highestpriced stock and third most capitalized stock. Market turnover continued to indicate major asset rebalancing trend towards lowpriced stocks. Aggregate turnover stood at 2.73 billion shares worth N18.78 billion in 22,228 deals last week. With investors scrambling for shares of FCMB Group and Unity Bank, the financial services sector accounted for 81 per cent of total turnover with the exchange of 2.21 billion shares valued at N11.72 billion in 11,483 deals. The trio of FCMB Group, Unity Bank and Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp) contributed 1.54 billion shares worth N3.64 billion in 2,655 deals, representing 56.44 per cent of aggregate turnover volume. At the over-the-counter (OTC) market, where Federal Government's sovereign bonds are traded, turnover increased marginally to 99.97 million units valued at N107.56 billion in 570 deals last week as against 91.53 million units valued at N96.48 billion traded in 436 deals in the previous week.

DAILY SUMMARY AS AT 20-12-13


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THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

MONEYLINK

CITN seeks autonomy for state revenue services

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HE Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) has called on governors in the country to accelerate the mechanism for granting autonomy to State Internal Revenue Services (SIRS). Its President, Mark Dike made this call during a courtesy visit to Kwara State Governor, Abdulfattah Ahmed, in Ilorin, the state capital. Dike said: “It is becoming imperative for the state governments to focus more on redefining internal revenue drive by improving the efficiency of revenue collection and administration in their policies and programmes in the area of increased revenue generation. This can be best implemented with a State Internal Revenue

Stories by Collins Nweze

Service that is autonomous and managed professionally by competent chartered tax practitioners.” The CITN chief identified the merits of an autonomous revenue service body to include setting targets and having inspiration to attain them; better taxpayer enlightenment programme, simpler assessment and payment procedures, comprehensive and reliable database. Others are automation of processes, better remuneration, training and motivation of staff, accountability, foolproof tax clearance certification, improved relationship between the government and taxpayers among others. He said the institute will be

ernments need to look inwards and take full advantage of taxation as a viable alternative source of revenue,” Ahmed said. He said despite government’s plans to diversify its revenue base, the country’s fiscal and budgetary landscape had continued to be dominated by oil income. He, however, explained that the fluctuation in oil revenue had yet provided the country with a unique opportunity to reposition its tax system in order to make up for the shortfall arising from the fluctuating fortunes of oil revenue.

willing to assist in ensuring that these merits are not only attained but also sustained for improved internally generated revenue (IGR) for the states. Ahmed commended the institute for its tenacity and spirited efforts in tax advocacy and awareness. He advised the Institute to sustain its advocacy drive towards ensuring that taxation becomes the number one revenue source for all tiers of government for the execution of their primary responsibility of providing social infrastructure for their citizenry. “The importance of taxation to any serious economy cannot be over-emphasised as global oil prices are threatened everyday by happenings around the world. Forward-looking gov-

F

‘Why shareholders’ fund slumped’

K

AJOLA Integrated Investment Plc at the weekend, blamed mismangement by its former managent team for the decline in its sharehokders’ fund. Speaking at the firm’s fifth annual general meeting (AGM) during which it presented its annual report and financial statement for the year ended December 31, 2012 in Lagos, its Chairman, Prof. Wale Omole said the company’s assets rose from N723 million in 2011 to N735 million during the year under review. However, current liabilities dropped from N36 million in 2011 to N24 million in 2012, while gross earn-

ings declined to N118.3 million from N138.6 million in 2011. Omole said its shareholders’ fund dropped from N1.2 billion in 2011 to N1.1 billion in 2012 blaming this on its former management team. This, he said, made it difficult for the board to declare dividend. According to him, there were concerns over uncertainty and inconsistency in the policy environment as it affects growing insecurity, manpower, power supply and weak commitment to the development of indigenous enterprise. “The security challenges in the country which was a major concern to investors

during the year, with direct consequences for the economy, had profound effect on the perception of the country as an investment destination,” Omole said. National President, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Mr Sunny Nwosu said despite the challenges faced by the firm in the last financial year, the future looks bright. He said the board of directors has done well but need to improve to get better results in the coming year. The firm was incorporated in 2006 as a limited liability company specialising in real estate, project management and business development.

Amount N

Rate %

M/Date

3-Year 5-Year 5-Year

35m 35m 35m

11.039 12.23 13.19

19-05-2014 18-05-2016 19-05-2016

NIDF NESF

OBB Rate Call Rate

Amount Amount Offered ($) Demanded ($) 350m 150m 350m 138m 350m 113m

Price Loss 2754.67 447.80

PRIMARY MARKET AUCTION (T-BILLS) Tenor 91-Day 182-Day 1-Year

Amount 30m 46.7m 50m

Rate % 10.96 9.62 12.34

Date 28-04-2012 “ 14-04-2012

GAINERS AS AT 20-12-13

SYMBOL CHAMPION RTBRISCOE LIVESTOCK AFRIPRUD IKEJAHOTEL COSTAIN FIDSON NEM PRESTIGE WEMABANK

O/PRICE 16.95 1.26 4.08 2.47 0.69 0.97 2.45 0.58 0.58 1.14

C/PRICE 17.79 1.32 4.27 2.58 0.72 1.01 2.55 0.60 0.60 1.17

EXHANGE RATE 6-03-12 Currency

INTERBANK RATES 7.9-10% 10-11%

CHANGE 0.84 0.06 0.19 0.11 0.03 0.04 0.10 0.02 0.02 0.03

NGN USD NGN GBP NGN EUR NIGERIA INTER BANK (S/N) (S/N) Bureau de Change (S/N) Parallel Market

Year Start Offer

Current Before

C u r r e n t CUV Start After %

147.6000 239.4810 212.4997

149.7100 244.0123 207.9023

150.7100 245.6422 209.2910

-2.11 -2.57 -1.51

149.7450

154.0000

154.3000

-3.04

152.0000

153.0000

155.5000

-2.30

O/PRICE 2.64 9.03 167.97 1.04 65.00 0.58 3.50 0.59 5.65 9.50

C/PRICE 2.51 8.65 161.50 1.00 62.50 0.56 3.38 0.57 5.50 9.25

CHANGE -0.13 -0.38 -6.47 -0.04 -2.50 -0.02 -0.12 -0.02 -0.15 -0.25

153.0000

154.0000

156.0000

-1.96

DISCOUNT WINDOW Feb. ’11 MPR

July ’11

6.50%

Standing Lending Rate ,, Deposit Rate ,, Liquidity Ratio Cash Return Rate Inflation Rate

6.50%

8.50% 4.50% 25.00% 1.00% 12.10%

8.50% 4.50% 25.00% 2.00% 12.10%

July ’12 12% 9.50% 5.50% 30.00% 2.00% 11.8%

NIBOR Tenor 7 Days 30 Days 60 Days 150 Days

Amount Sold ($) 150m 138m 113m

Exchange Rate (N) 155.2 155.8 155.7

Rate (Previous) 4 Mar, 2012 9.0417 9.6667 11.2917 12.1250

Rate (Currency) 6, Mar, 2012 10.17% 11.46% 11.96% 12.54%

Date 2-7-12 27-6-12 22-6-12

CAPITAL MARKET INDEX

NSE CAP Index

27-10-11 N6.5236tr 20,607.37

% Change -1.44% -1.44%

28-10-11 N6.617tr 20,903.16

MEMORANDUM QUOTATIONS Name

LOSERS AS AT 20-12-13

SYMBOL IHS UBN NB NEIMETH GLAXOSMITH INTENEGINS HONYFLOUR CORNERST PORTPAINT ACCESS

The statement explained that the transaction was the subject matter of a suit at the Lagos High Court between FutureView Financial Services Limited and Ecobank to which all issues in the suit between both parties have been resolved upon the intervention of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). “The civil suit was struck out by the Honorable Justice M.O Obadina on the 10th of October 2013,”the law firm said. He further disclosed that solicitors to Ecobank (Morayo Lebi & Co), who initiated the civil suit and also petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had by a letter dated 17th July 2013, instructed the commission to discontinue all actions on the matter.

WHOLESALE DUTCH AUCTION SYSTEM

MANAGED FUNDS Initial Current Quotation Price Market N8250.00 5495.33 N1000.00 N552.20

•Dike

ISA Incorporated and MasterCard Incorporated have won approval for a $5.7 billion settlement that ended years of litigation with United States (US) merchants over allegations that credit-card swipe fees are improperly fixed. US District Judge John Gleeson told Bloomberg he was satisfied with the settlement, which was estimated to be the largest-ever antitrust accord. “For the first time, merchants will be empowered to expose hidden bank fees to their customers, educate them about those fees and use that information to influence their customers’ choices of payment methods,” Gleeson wrote in his ruling in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. Once owned by groups of major banks, Foster City, California-based Visa and Purchase, New York-based MasterCard have defended themselves for decades against legal claims that they operated price-fixing schemes. Swipe, or interchange, fees are set by Visa and MasterCard and paid by merchants when consumers use credit or debit cards. MasterCard and Visa separated from the banks through initial public offerings in 2006 and 2008, respectively. Merchants filed a class-action lawsuit against the companies and the biggest card-issuing banks in 2005. They later alleged that the payment networks continued to fix prices with the banks even after the IPOs.

DATA BANK

FGN BONDS Tenor

V

Financial services firm refutes fraud allegation

UTUREVIEW Financial Services Limited has refuted reports that the company and two of its directors were arraigned or docked over the theft of N1 billion belonging to the defunct Oceanic Bank International Plc now Ecobank Nigeria Plc. In a statement, solicitors to firm, Osaretin Giwa-Osagie of Prime Chambers, said there was no iota of truth in the reports that its client FutureView, its Managing Director - Mrs. Elizabeth Ebi, and Executive Director, Mr. Diamond Uju were arraigned or docked at a Lagos High Court over the theft of any sum of money from the bank. “The news reports were an obvious distortion of the facts of a legitimate transaction between a bank and its customer,” Giwa-Osagie said.

Visa, MasterCard win $5.7b approval

Offer Price

Bid Price

164.07

162.73

ARM AGGRESSIVE GROWTH

9.17

9.08

BGL NUBIAN FUND

1.06

1.05

BGL SAPPHIRE FUND

1.17

1.17

CANARY GROWTH FUND

0.71

0.70

CONTINENTAL UNIT TRUST

1.39

1.33

CORAL INCOME FUND

1,609.04

1,609.04

FBN FIXED INCOME FUND

AFRINVEST W. A. EQUITY FUND

1,000.00

1,000.00

FBN HERITAGE FUND

115.83

115.13

FBN MONEY MARKET FUND

100.00

100.00

FIDELITY NIGFUND

1.67

1.62

INTERCONTINENTAL INTEGRITY FUND

1.05

1.03

143.11

142.62

KAKAWA GUARANTEED INCOME FUND LEGACY FUND NIGERIA INTERNATIONAL DEBT FUND (NIDF) • • • • •

0.78

0.76

1,884.68

1,874.70

ARM AGGRESSIVE KAKAWA GUARANTEED STANBIC IBTC GUARANTE AFRINVEST W.A. EQUITY FUNDARM AGGRESSIVE

Movement

OPEN BUY BACK

Bank P/Court

Previous 04 July, 2012

Current 07, Aug, 2012

8.5000 8.0833

8.5000 8.0833

Movement


32

MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

THE NATION

BUSINESS

TRANSPORTATION

E-mail:ynotaderibigbe@gmail.com

The new public transportation policy unveiled by the Lagos State Government will be driven by safety, efficiency, reliabilty and protability, says the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Comrade Kayode Opeifa, at a stakeholders’ meeting last week. ADEYINKA ADERIBIGBE was there.

•Opeifa (left), and Chairman, House Committee on Transportation Hon. Bisi Yusuf. Inset: Director, Transport Operations Mr Matanmi with the new Lagos State Commercial bus driver’s uniform

W

HEN she boarded the Mowe, Ogun Statebound bus at Agege, her intention was to get to The Redeemed Camp on Kilometre 46 on time, preferably ahead of other church members. But she had barely settled down when she discovered those she met inside the bus never intended to take her there safely. She recalled that one who posed as a passenger started by drawing attention to the luggage he had at the boot of the bus, which he said contained some uncut money that needed to be ‘washed.’ Soon, all but her, became interested and attempts were made to draw her attention and interest. “Aunty, did you say you are going to the camp, see how God just decided to reward your years of dedicated service. If we wash this thing as that man said, all of us can share it and you become rich,” the one who had posed, all along, as the conductor said. Rather than exhibiting excitement, she started raining curses on them and began to shout on the driver to stop for her to disembark. When all efforts to get her hooked failed and sensing she might be drawing attention, as the road was not really free, they hurriedly dropped her, but not until they hauled abuses on her, calling her a bad market. Another resident, Mrs Damilola Thomas, said she missed being killed by ritual killers by divine intervention. She recalled that no sooner had she boarded the AbuleEgba bound bus popularly called Danfo at Oshodi, that she had a foreboding of danger. Though the 14seater bus was three passengers short, when she boarded, it took off, as soon as she entered. Strangely, the driver never stopped to pick any other person despite the conductor’s shouting. Soon, the conductor closed the door and the driver accelerated. A nervous Mrs Thomas was conscious of the bus getting to Ikeja, but soon slept off. The next thing she knew, was when she was rudely woken up to find the bus parked along a bushy path and eight of them were being shoved off the bus by four husky fearsome men, into a ramshackled three room house with red curtains.

For a safer, saner road •Lagos unveils policy

The men left as soon as they were all locked up in one of the rooms and the second morning, an old man came in and as soon as he sighted her, screamed, asked: “Who brought her? He ordered one of his men to return everything that had been seized from her and take her away. “That was how I regained my freedom. It was after the man who took me away left that I regained my consciousness and I started walking. I walked for six hours before seeing someone who told me I was a few kilometres away from Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, from where people who heard my story pitied me and gave me money back to Lagos. These instances are two of the reasons why public transportation has become a nerve-wrecking experience in Lagos. Many residents have fallen victims of robberies, kidnapping and fraud, while tales of near-death encounters in the hands of ritualists and others continued to prick the heart. The result – poor regard for public trabsportation as it is usually seen as unsafe, unreliable and risky. This poor perception has left many Lagosians who could afford it with no option than to buy their own vehicles, thus bridging the gap of safe commuting. What becomes a personal victory however, ultimately, end up being a burden that adversely stretches available infrastructure, resulting in an increase in auto-density and atten-

dant backlash of traffic jams. But this, the Commissioner for Transportation, Comrade Kayode Opeifa, said would soon be a thing of the past, as the state is irrevocably committed to changing the face of public transportation and bringing back commuters’ confidence in its safety, affordability and reliability. Opeifa said the total passenger traffic per day is estimated at seven million all of who predominantly relied on road transportation. He said poor management, inadequate rolling stock and low cost recovery were some of the weaknesses besetting the sector. Unveiling what he called the Lagos State Public Transport Management System and the new state taxi policy, a masterplan of the government before a huge crowd of stakeholders last Wednesday, the Lagos State government said it will introduce a number of initiatives which would bring back commuter’s confidence in public transportation. Opeifa said though government began tinkering with transportation issues since the Alhaji Lateef Jakande’s era in 1979, when it commenced metro line, successive military administration had reversed the moves, until 1999, when the Ministry of Transportation began to reflect on the contemporary realities and vision that will ensure the provision of a safe, efficient, reliable and sustainable integrated intermodal system for the growth of the state and increased

private sector involvement. He said: “Public transportation in Lagos State thus continued to be faced with the challenges of a fast growing prosperous metropolis with high propensity for urbanrural drift from other states of the federation and therefore requires a more sustainable proactive management approach rather than quick fixes with attention on the forms of public transportation as well as providing enabling laws and regulations.” He said though the government had recorded huge success in the current rolling stock on the road transportation with the introduction of high capacity buses such as the BRT, LAGBUS, and Bus Franchise Scheme (BFS), which has replaced the outdated molue buses, Kabu-kabu, lorries and trailers, there is the need to regulate the operations of commercial passenger vehicles/public transportation and the operators for efficiency, safety and security, adding that this informed the Road Traffic Law (RTL) 2012. Opeifa said regulation 20, and 23-27 which deals with route restrictions and licencing and conditions and considerations for badge issuance among others are the bedrock on which the new policy being enunciated by the government rests. He said the policy thrust has six components which are: the re-introduction of the commuter busrouting scheme, commercial passenger-vehicle licensing, and corporate outlook for transport opera-

‘The routing system had to be brought back because it remains the key to effective management of spatial distribution of passenger-commercial vehicles based in trips and traffic demand’

tors (uniforms/badges). Other components are: commercial passenger-vehicle (public transport) number plate allocation and control, development of database for Lagos Public Transport System and the review of the Lagos Taxi Scheme. Elaborating on these components, Opeifa said the routing system had to be brought back because it remains the key to effective management of spatial distribution of passenger-commercial vehicles based in trips and traffic demand, adding that 151 bus routes, spread across 20 local governments and 37 LCDAs have been identified and drivers must ensure strict compliance with allocated routes adding that route switch could be allowed only after the payment of appropriate charge. The Commissioner said a new agency, the Directorate of Public Transportation and Consumer Services (DPTCS) and the Motor Vehicle Administration Agency (MVAA) would manage by the passenger-bus route coding, ensure media advocacy and public education and enforce compliance. The Commissioner said though the state has about 50,000 commercial-bus drivers, the Ministry is determined to generate a sustainable database through the mandatory registration of all commercial bus owners, drivers and conductors in compliance with regulations 20, 23, 24, 41 and 43, which makes the capturing of biometric data capturing of all operators in the transport sector mandatory. He added that a new hackney permit/certificate would now be for the exclusive use of commercial passenger vehicles. The Commissioner said over 200 officers from the Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS), and the Lagos Driver’s Institute (LASDRI) have been trained to manage the registration exercise of the owners, drivers and conductors, while 21 VIS centres have been designated for the registration of owners, while the five LASDRI offices have been pencilled down to process the accreditation for conductors and drivers. He said while LADRI •Continued on page 33


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

33

TRANSPORTATION

FRSC deploys 34,000 men in nationwide patrol T

O reduce road traffic offences on the highways, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has deployed 34,000 operatives and 484 patrol vehicles in a special nationwide patrol which started on Thursday, last week and billed to end on January 12. Speaking on the exercise, the fourth in the series tagged: “Operation Zero Tolerance,” the Corps Public Education Officer, Corps Commander Jonas Agwu, said this was part of the FRSC’s commitment at achieving its goals for the year by reducing fatality by 30 per cent and accidents by 20 per cent. Agwu said: “Aside from the personnel, the exercise will further witness the deployment of 53 ambulances, eight heavy duty tow trucks, nine medium and light duty tow trucks, 102 patrol bikes and four helicopters for aerial surveillance as part of measures to consolidate on the Corps’ road map towards reducing road crashes during the yuletide” He said the operation became necessary due to the increase in the movement of people and goods across the nation’s roads, thereby stretching the road infrastructure and tasking traffic law enforcement officers due to several potential traffic distresses that must be prevented or attended to promptly. The action, Jonas further added is to further achieve the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020) and the Accra Declaration of year 2007, adding that

Stories by Adeyinka Aderibigbe

“The end of the year negative traffic outcome which could negatively affect the achievements of the Corps in crash mitigation has necessitated the need to put in place pro-active strategies.” During this period, the Corps’ operational focus would be on traffic control/calming, clearing of obstructions, checking speed limit and overloading violation, dangerous driving, use of phone while driving, light signal violation and other road vices with the collaboration of other relevant agencies such as the Military, the Nigeria Police, National Emergency Management Agency, Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, States Traffic agencies, private ambulance operators and others. According to the Corps Public Education Officer; “23 corridors such as Sagamu-Ore-Benin, Lokoja-BeninAuchi, Onitsha-Ihiala-Aba, AbujaKeffi-Akwanga-Hawan Kibo-Jos, Minna-Birnin-Kebbi-Sokoto-GusauFuntua-Zaria, Kabba-Umuoke-EkitiIdo-Ilesha, Benin-Warri-PataniPortharcourt and Makurdi-OturkpoObollo Afor-9th Mile highways and 65 other routes have been identified nationwide for this exercise.” In addition, “20 critical traffic control camps have been set up by the FRSC to ensure seamless response to road crashes and traffic gridlock in locations such as Abaji (FCT), Ogere (Ogun State), Ilesha (Osun

State) and Asaba (Delta State), in addition to 20 Help areas and 14 Zebra points on these identified corridors for prompt first aid and medical assistance to victims of road traffic crashes.” Speaking further, he said: “The nationwide exercise will be further boosted with robust public enlightenment campaigns, as part of the Corps’ consistent tradition towards road crash reduction and to avoid a one-off approach to road safety management in Nigeria.” He added: “The operation zero tolerance patrol signifies the intension of the Corps to do all within its powers to ensure that zero road crash, injury and death are recorded throughout the period of the yuletide. He continued: “Road traffic crashes are avoidable and only obedience to best practices of road use will guaranty the safety of all road users. “Against this backdrop, motorists are hereby warned to ensure strict compliance with all traffic rules and regulations and proper maintenance of vehicles which ply the highways as the Corps has established mobile courts at strategic routes of the highways to ensure prompt trial of traffic offenders. “In the same vein, commuters (passengers) are enjoined to monitor their drivers and call them (drivers) to order in the face of any form of reckless driving as any complacency may result to grave consequences or call FRSC toll free line 122 or 070022553772 for prompt response to any traffic challenges.”

•Pupils from eight primary and secondary schools in Ibeju-Lekki Local Government, on excursion observing how to move on Zebra crossing at Maryland, Lagos. •Continued from page 32

would issue the driver’s and conductors an identification card and badges, the VIS would issue bus owners a card that must be pasted on the bus. “The process would ensure that our buses can now be regarded as a human being with a name and a face. In case any passenger have any issue with the bus he/she boarded, all you need to do is know the owner’s name, from the card, or take the name of the driver or the conductor from their badges and report to the new directorate which among others are empowered to summon either of the three and can withhold their licences until the issue is resolved. In line with submissions of several white papers recommending corporate uniforms for all commercial bus drivers and conductors, Opeifa said members of the NURTW and RTEAN have come up with a blue stripped overall for uniform, adding that while the drivers would be using long sleeve overall, conductors would be wearing short sleeve. By far the far reaching initiative is the review of the state’s taxi scheme. Opeifa who just returned

NRC adopts new strategy for 2014

T

HE Nigerian Railway Corporation ( N R C ) has adopted a strategy, which emphasises time, train service availability, amicable, punctuality and safety for next year. The corporation top shots took the step at a four-day Senior Management Retreat/ Award Night with the theme ’NRC back on track: Sustaining the drive,” for its management and senior officers at Micom Golf Hotels and Resort, Ada, Osun State. The objective of the strategy is to achieve three per cent reduction in the journey for the intercity train services, 10 per cent monthly reduction in the frequency and extent of train delays, 25 per cent monthly reduction on customer complaints, not more than 10 minutes delay in scheduled departure time and 25 per cent monthly reduction in the number of accident. The Managing Director, NRC Mr. Adeseyi Sijuwade, said the corporation’s direction for next year would be guided by the vision of the corporation to provide a more efficient reliable

safe rail transport service to complement the nation’s ongoing economic transformation. He said: “As a strategic transport provider, the NRC must respond to the growing demand of its services by running regular and timely passenger trains with attractive ambiences.” He said the Federal Government has invested much in the railway by way of procurement of locomotives engines, rolling stocks, signaling equipments, stations upgrading and modernisation and elaborate training programmes which must be justified by way of hardwork judicious use of resources and equipments and staff dedication to duty. He further said a communication plan will be formulated to disseminate timely and responsive objectives, tasks and information to all staff. The NRC management staff had a train ridefromLagostolkirunandhelditsManagement meeting enroute to attract corporate bodies and organisations to avail themselves of the NRC Conference on Wheels Services and also show that the NRC management has confidence in its services.

27 traffic offenders prosecuted

N

O fewer than 27 traffic offenders have been arraigned at Magistrate Court 2, Ota, Ogun State for various traffic offenses when the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Ota Unit, and three other commands, Agbado, Idiroko, Itori held their mobile court. The Ota Unit Commander, Mr. Sunday Omafu, who supervised the exercise, said the mobile court is a monthly event, organised by FRSC to sanitise the road, adding that this was the last in the year. He said the offenders were arraigned on various offences, that tyre violation is the most prevalent offense. He urged “motorists to carefully monitored their tyre and be cognisance with the expiring dates”. The FRSC boss advised motorist to ensure good maintenance of their vehicle before embarking on a journey, in-

By Olalekan Ayeni

stead of “engaged on a fistcuff with FRSC on the road or be on a high speed, to kill any road warders to skip an arrest.” The FRSC Legal Officer, Ogun Sector Command, Abeokuta, Uzoma Enwereuzo warned motorists to obey traffic rules, avoid overloading to ensure safety during or after the yuletide. He advised motorists to follow the due process of obtaining driving licence. He warned drivers to stop patronising touts for fake driver’s licence, saying the “licence is the certificate that proves a driver is an expert or professional.” “It’s an offence for any driver to drive without a driver’s licence or without an original driver’s licence,” he added.

For a safer, saner road from a study trip of Ghana said the government is committed to returning the taxi culture in the state, adding that as part of the reform, taxis in the state would now have to adopt the mile to mile metering option, while dedicated taxi shelters would be created at all major inter sections, all shopping malls, all major hotels, bars and restaurants as well as event places in the state. Under the modern taxi scheme, government, he said, is committed to integrating the yellow-black taxi while there would be all out enforcement to stop illegal operation of kabukabu. While canvassing for full participation of all taxi drivers in the ongoing accreditation exercise, Opeifa said the government intends to create a value adding platform that would continue to generate income for all taxi license owners whether they choose to operate or just lend out or out rightly sell their licence. “We would ultimately create a

taxi licensing and the taxi exchange will afford a commodity exchange like market, create tradable instrument good for financial transaction and gives the bearer an asset worth licence. “We would not only ensure professionalism and higher level of service delivery, create a taxi industry system that is robust and viable and sustainable where players can have easy access to financial support, investment facilities and create confidence in investors and ensure a realistic balance between investments, investors, operators and the government, all aimed at creating a taxi industry that creates job and wealth. Under the new initiative, the taxi licence he said shall be a tradable commodity and shall not expire but renewed annually. The license shall correspond in quantity to the number of taxicabs in circulation and respond to the forces of demand and supply. He added that the under the ar-

rangement, there would be corporate franchisee and single franchisees. The Commissioner who reeled out the various regulations on the new scheme however praised the taxi drivers association whom he said worked with the government in designing the new policy, even as he added that he assured that all taxi drivers would be the first beneficiary of the new licence. Stakeholders among them Mr Mohammed Fawehinmi commended the government for the far reaching policy aimed at repositioning the public transportation. The Managing Director of Cross Country Ltd., Air Commodore Babatunde Akanbi (rtd), urged the government to further assist investors in the sector by addressing the issue of infrastructural deficit plaguing the state in order to reduce the cost of investment in the sector. Mr. Adelowo Okunade urged the government to embark on enlightenment campaign to drive

the new policy adding that all stakeholders including the commuters must buy-in on the policy. Chairman Oredegbe Taxi cabs Association Alhaji Saka Olololu Ayinde praised the government for the far reaching policy and for taking the pains to carry his association along, he expressed optimism that the policy especially the revolutionistic taxi system would yield bountifully for all operators. Vice Chairman of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights Mr Alex Omotehinde, said government should enlighten all traffic management agencies to ensure the success of the policy. The Commissioner said the policy took about a year to be compiled, adding that no sector was left behind in his ministry’s consultation, even as he assured that more consultations and enlightenment would be carried out before the government pass the document to the House of Assembly for appropriate legal backing.


34

THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

35

DUE DILIGENCE

S

Seven-Up: Improved performance

EVEN-UP Bottling Company (7-Up) Plc witnessed improved performance in the year as the company rode on the back of improved cost efficiency and substantial reduction in gearing level to optimise profitability. While sales growth remained in single digit, increased cost efficiency optimised the bottom-line performance with double-digit growth in pre and post tax profits. Audited report and accounts of the soft-drink company for the year ended March 31, 2013 showed that sales increased by 7.1 per cent but higher margins pushed profit before tax up by 27.5 per cent. Profit after tax rose by 70.3 per cent, underlining the increase in basic earnings per share from N2.62 in 2012 to N4.46 in 2013. The improved bottom-line performance enabled the company to increase cash payout by 10 per cent just as its net assets value rose by 22 per cent. The prospects for future dividend payment was stronger with a dividend cover of 2.0 times in 2013 as against 1.3 times in 2012. Both actual and underlying profit and loss indicators showed appreciable improvement in the profitability of the company. The company’s profit and loss performance was also congruent with improvement in its balance sheet. With larger equity funds, lower financial leverage and increased liquidity, the balance sheet was stronger in 2013 compared with the previous year. However, the company’s financing structure and general balance sheet position remained susceptible. While the debt-to-equity ratio improved by 51 percentage points, it remains substantially high at about 118 per cent. The company still wriggles with negative working capital and vulnerable liquidity coverage. Interim report for the sixmonth period ended on September 30, showing considerable improvement in actual and underlying profitability. Average pre-tax profit margin improved to 8.23 per cent as against 3.02 per cent recorded in comparable period

Also, basic earnings per share improved from N2.62 to N4.46. The company paid cash dividends of N1.41 billion for the 2013 business year compared with N1.28 billion distributed for the 2012 business year. This implies a dividend per share of N2.20 in 2013 as against N2 in 2012. Notwithstanding the increase in cash payout, dividend cover increased from 1.3 times to 2.0 times. Net assets per share also increased by 22 per cent from N16.09 to N19.63.

Taofik Salako Capital Market Editor

of 2012. Turnover rose by 22.7 per cent from N27.57 billion to N33.83 billion. Gross profit grew by 25.5 per cent to N12.65 billion as against N10.08 billion in corresponding period of 2012. Profit before tax jumped by 234.6 per cent from N832.30 million to N2.78 billion. After taxes, net profit rose by 200 per cent from N719.4 million to N2.16billion.

Financing structure

Total assets had inched up by 5.9 per cent from N48.49 billion to N51.37 billion. Current assets stood at N15.50 billion, 3.3 per cent above N15.01 billion recorded in 2012. Long-term assets had increased by 7.2 per cent from N33.48 billion to N35.87 billion. Total liabilities closed almost flat at N38.79 billion as against N38.18 billion. Bank loans dropped by about 15 per cent from N17.41 billion to N14.82 billion. While the paid up capital remained unchanged at N320 million, shareholders’ funds rose by 22 per cent from N10.31 billion to N12.58 billion. Seven-Up’s financing structure improved in 2013. The proportion of equity funds to total assets improved from 21.3 per cent in 2012 to 24.5 per cent in 2013. The company’s debt-to-equity ratio also reduced from 168.9 per cent in 2012 to 117.8 per cent in 2013. Long-term liabilities/total assets ratio improved from 17.5 per cent to 21.3 per cent while the proportion of current liabilities to total assets stood at 54.2 per cent in 2013 as against 61.2 per cent in 2012.

Efficiency Average number of employees increased to 3,701 persons in 2013 as against 3,643 persons in 2012. Total staff costs meanwhile increased from N7.437 billion to N8.388 billion, implying an average cost per head of N2.27 billion in 2013 as against N2.04 billion in 2012. Average contribution of each employee to pre-tax profit improved from N0.70 mil-

Liquidity Seven-Up’s liquidity position improved during the period, although it generally remained weak and susceptible. Current ratio, which relates current assets to current liabilities, improved from 0.51 times to 0.56 times. While working capital remained negative, the quantum improved during the period. The proportion of working capital to total sales stood at -19.3 per cent in 2013 as against 24.5 per cent in 2012. Debtor/ creditor ratio closed 2013 at 8.9 per cent compared with 6.6 per cent in 2012.

Governance structures

lion to N0.88 million. The wide disparity between average cost per head and average pre-tax profit per head underlined the top-heavy nature of the staff costs structure, where nearly half of the employees earn around N1 million per annum. The company reined in costs and increased staff productivity, creating modest margin that further improved profitability. Total cost of business, excluding interest expense, improved marginally to 91.3 per cent in 2013 as against 92.1 per cent in 2012.

Profitability The intrinsic profit-making capacity of the company improved in 2013. While gross

Fiscal Year Ended March 31 Nmillion

2013 12 months

% change

2012 12 months

Profit and Loss Statement Main Business Segment Total turnover Cost of sales Gross profit Operating expenses Interest and other incomes Finance expenses Pre-tax profit(loss) Post-tax profit (loss) Basic earnings per share(kobo) Gross dividend Cash dividend per share (kobo) Net Assets per share (kobo)

64,089 64,089 41,120 22,889 17,408 72 2,290 3,263 2,857 446 1,409 220 1,963

7.1 7.1 6.7 7.3 5.0 24.9 1.9 27.5 70.3 70.2 10.0 10.0 22.0

59,864 59,864 38,538 21,326 16,578 57 2,248 2,559 1,678 262 1,281 200 1,609

35,452 35,874 341 15,496 51,370

7.1 7.2 29.2 3.3 5.9

33,108 33,480 264 15,005 48,486

3,832 14,823 27,862 10,930 38,792

-3.6 -14.9 -6.1 28.5 1.6

3,974 17,414 29,670 8,508 38,178

320 12,578

0.0 22.0

320 10,308

Balance Sheet Assets: Fixed assets Total long term assets Trade debtors Current assets Total assets Liabilities: Trade creditors Bank loans Current liabilities Long-term liabilities Total liabilities Equity Funds Share capital Total Equity Funds

profit margin inched up from 35.6 per cent to 35.7 per cent, the improvement was evident in pre-tax profit margin which rose from 4.3 per cent to 5.1 per cent. Underlying returns were also better with return on total assets of 6.4 per cent in 2013 as against 5.3 per cent in 2012. Return on equity also rose from 16.3 per cent to 22.7 per cent. Group turnover rose by 7.1 per cent from N59.86 billion to N64.09 billion. Cost of sales moderated at N41.12 billion as against N38.54 billion. Gross profit rose by 7.3 per cent from N21.333 billion to N22.89 billion. Total operating expenses stood at N17.41 billion, 5.0 per cent above N16.58 billion recorded in the previous year. While non-core business income rose by about 25 per cent from N57 million to N72 million, interest expense was al-

•MD, Seven-UP Bottling Company, Mr Sunil Sawhney

most flat at N2.29 billion in 2013 as against N2.25 billion in 2012. With these, profit before tax increased by 27.5 per cent from N2.56 billion to N3.26 billion. With about 54 per cent reduction in tax expenses, profit after tax jumped by 70 per cent from N1.68 billion to N2.86 billion.

Fiscal Year Ended March 31

A leading fast moving consumer good (FMCG) company, 7-Up is the manufacturer and Nigerian franchise holder for several global soft drinks including Pepsi and Mirinda. Incorporated in 1959, 7-Up derived its name from its unique flagship brand-7-Up soft drink. Its other popular brands include Teem Lemon, Mountain Dew and aquafina. Its shares were listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in 1959. It stands alone as the only publicly quoted softdrink company in Nigeria. Affelka S A is the majority core investor in 7-Up with total equity stake of 72.97 per cent. The board and management remained unchanged during the year. Faysal ElKhalil still chairs the board while Mr Sunil Sawhney leads the executive management team as managing director and chief executive. The company broadly complies with extant codes of corporate governance and best practices.

2013 %

2012 %

24.5 21.3 54.2 117.8

21.3 17.5 61.2 168.9

35.7 5.1 6.4 22.7 2.0

35.6 4.3 5.3 16.3 1.3

0.88 2.27 91.3

0.70 2.04 92.1

0.56 -19.3 8.9

0.51 -24.5 6.6

Financing structure Equity funds/Total assets Long-term liabilities/Total assets Current liabilities/Total assets Debt/Equity ratio Profitability Gross profit margin Pre-tax profit margin Return on total assets Return on equity Dividend cover (times) Efficiency Pre-tax profit per employee (Nm) Staff cost per employee (Nm) Cost of sales, operating exp/Turnover Liquidity Current ratio Working capital/Turnover Debtors/Creditors

and

Analyst’s opinion The performance of 7Up in 2013 is commendable. It has managed its constrained top-line efficiently. The emerging balance sheet restructuring, though still tenuous, supports the overall performance outlook. However, it needs to further enliven the top-line and create wider room for profitability, there is a limit to the extent it can use cost management to manage slow sales without adversely affecting the long-term performance of the company. Besides, 7-Up needs to aggressively improve on its balance sheet restructuring. The emerging outlook is impressive; 7-Up needs to sustain the momentum; growing the topline while optimising the midline cost management to deliver better returns to shareholders.


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

36

THE NATION

BUSINESS LABOUR

A

54% of youths jobless, says NBS

BOUT 54 per cent of youths are unemployed, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said. In its 2012/13 National Baseline Youth Survey Report, released in Abuja, it, said: “More than half, about 54 per cent of the youth population are unemployed. Of this, young women stood at 51.9 per cent compared to their young men counterpart with 48.1 per cent, who are unemployed.’’ It said out of 46,836 youths recorded against different types of crimes, 42,071, representing 75.5 per cent were males, while the remaining 24.5 per cent were young women, adding that among the 32 different crimes committed, Marijuana (Indian hemp)

Stories by Toba Agboola

smoking has the highest figure, representing 15.7 per cent. “This was followed by theft and murder with 8.1 and 7.4 per cent. The least committed crime was Immigration/Emigration representing 0.04 per cent.’’ The report said over five million youths indicated they were involved in conflict resolution at one level of governance or the other. Their responses showed that most youths, about 64.9 per cent were involved in conflict prevention at the community level, while 30.9 per cent got involved at the ward level, the report added. It said: “Only 1.6 per cent got

involved at the state level, while 83.9 per cent males were involved in football than females with 16.1 per cent,” it added. According to the survey, the population of youths aged between 15 and 35 years is estimated to be 64 million, while females are more than males in all age groups. The report said Lagos State had the highest percentage of youths , with 6.1 per cent, followed by Kano State, representing 5.7 per cent, while Bayelsa State had the lowest with 1.3 per cent. The report said out of the group of married youths, 68 per cent were young women, while 32 per cent young men, the rate of divorce and widowhood was high among the

young women with 70.9 and 71.8 per cent, while 38.5 per cent young women were never married.’’ The report said the objective of the study was to provide data for the design and development of youthfocused programmes by the Federal Ministry of Youth Development and other partners in the country. The study was aimed at generating empirical data to inform policy decisions and guide their impl Recently, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), alerted that youth unemployment, especially in developing countries, has reached a crisis point. In the report, about 73.4 million youths are expected to be out of work

‘How to reduce unemployment through NEPAD’

T

• TUC President, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama (left) and Secretary-General, Comrade Musa Lawal at a briefing in Lagos.

NLC kicks against non-inclusion in National Conference T HE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has kicked against its non-inclusion and the Federal Government’s attitude in the proposed National Conference. The congress in a statement signed by the its Secretary, Benson Upah said: “Congress is dismayed that the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue under the chairmanship of Senator Femi Okunronmu has not yet thought it fit or necessary to consult the organised labour, a pan-Nigeria organisation with millions of membership and a critical stakeholder in the polity. ‘’We believe that the report of the Committee will not be complete without consultations with organised labour and other critical stakeholders. While its sojourn to thirteen zones may have availed it some information, this information will not take the Committee beyond the realms of previous conferences. In other words, this could be a leap

of the toad. “The sudden change in the disposition of the Federal Government on the convocation of National Conference has created doubts and divergent views within the polity on the actual motive for this conference. “The apprehensions which government’s decision on the subject has generated is understandable bearing in mind the timing, adding that the near conclusion of 1999 Constitution review by National Assembly and the 2015 National and State Elections scheduled for May 2015." The congress said it recognises the desirability for a National Conference to deliberate on lingering problems that continually threaten national cohesion, growth and development. “Congress’ acknowledgement of the need for a National Conference notwithstanding, we are of the opin-

ion that the culture of constant dialogue by the constituent nationalities should be a feature of our national life. This is more so because, primordial sentiments are increasingly sustained by crises within the polity, inability of governance to impact positively on the citizenry and the slow development of industrial culture as a result of sustained deindustrialisation,” it said. NLC added that for the conference to be relevant, it should, among other things, focus on the following: character of federating units (zones/regions); revenue formula (sharing and allocation of responsibilities); structure of police (federal/regional/ zonal); system of the government (presidential/parliamentary); resource management for national development; electoral reform; independence of anti-corruption agencies and the judiciary and new constitution.

‘Involve private sector in Transformation Agenda’

T

HE Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoS), Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji, has urged the private sector to be more involved in the implementation of the Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government. He said this when a delegation of the Executive Council of the Institute of Directors (IoD), led by its President and Chairman of Council, Chief Eniola Fadayomi, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja. Aji explained that the aim of the

Transformation Agenda, is to change the economy into one that is private sector driven, create wealth and employment opportunities for the youth. He said the civil service is willing to cooperate with well-meaning organisations, such as the IoD, particularly in capacity development and integrity building. He told the delegation that his office has initiated a public-private sector staff exchange programme aimed at experience sharing and the building of mutual understanding between the

two sectors. Mrs Fadayomi said the mission of the organisation was the entrenchment of good corporate governance in work places through training. She also said the international affiliations of the institute, particularly in Africa, which has opened up new vistas for members. She called for the enrolment of senior officers in the Federal Civil Service, as members of the institute, to improve the relationship between the public and private sectors.

in the year, representing an increase of 3.5 million over the 2007 figure. It also added that 90 per cent of the global youth population is from developing countries. According to ILO, massive unemployment has made youths in many countries, ready tools for unscrupulous politicians ready to destabilise their countries, describing the development a threat to the socio-economic and political health of many countries. The global labour body has, therefore, highlighted the need for policy makers to devote more resources to employment generation programmes to checkmate the situation.

HE Executive Director African Heritage Institution

(AfriHeritage) has urged the Federal Government to take advantage of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development’s (NEPAD) agenda to boost employment in the country. Amobi, who spoke at a workshop of the agency in Abuja, which has as theme, ‘Strengthening the effectiveness of NEPAD in Nigeria: The way forward,’ said since the adoption of NEPAD by African countries, the country’s huge financial commitment has not been realsied. He urged the government to use the opportunity of the body’s agenda to provide jobs for the teeming unemployed youth. Amobi said the workshop was organised in response to the yearnings of concerned individuals and bodies from various corners of the development space for an understanding of the achievements of NEPAD in Nigeria, since it was adopted over 12 years ago. He said the achievements would be to utilise the outcome to change the perception about NEPAD in Nigeria, adding that the belief in many quarters is that after 12 years, the impact of NEPAD was yet to be felt in Nigeria; considering the fact that Nigeria is one of the five founding member countries of NEPAD and its highest financial contributors. He said: “NEPAD activities in Nigeria are virtually unknown – this is not helped by an out-dated website and the fact that up till now, there is

nobody at the helm of its affairs. This workshop is expected to throw up many questions that require critical thinking and solutions or resolutions on the way forward. This will enable us assess its successes, identify the challenges and obstacles it faces, its interface in other development areas such as poverty, employment generation, the MDGs, security, and recommend ways in which the effectiveness of NEPAD in Nigeria can be further strengthened to enable it fulfil its vision and achieve its objectives, particularly in the area of infrastructure development.” On the role of the legislature in the agenda, Amobi called on the National Assembly to see unemployment as a great challenge that calls for pragmatic actions. He, therefore, expressed the belief that the communiqué to be issued at the workshop would provide the lawmakers the impetus for accelerated legislature to drive for the enactment of the “Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of the NEPAD Commission and Other Related Matters.” Participants called on the government to revive the secretariat of NEPAD and bring it out of the civil service commission so that the benefits of the country’s financial contribution can be realised. They urged the government to use multiple models to reduce youths’ unemployment. The event was attended by participants from Africa, Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Ministries, NEPAD officers, civil society organisations, the academia and others.

NUPENG to protest unfair practices

T

HE Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), has threatened to protest alleged unfair practices by employers in the oil and gas industry. Its President, Comrade Igwe Achese, spoke at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of NUPENG, which held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He said: “The nation-wide rally is to protest, particularly, casualisation of workers and resistance to unionisation of the workforce by recalcitrant management who have continued to outsource virtually all cadres of job in the oil and gas industry. “We shall be demonstrating in all the state capitals to let Nigerians know the unbecoming attitude of some employers to job insecurity in

the country.” Achese, who said Chevron and ExxonMobil, are the worst promoters of unfair labour practices in the industry, lamented that despite appeals the oil giant had continued to sack workers in its employment. He said the union had made entreaties to Chevron management and written protest letters to vital arms of the government to prevail on the company to stop its unfriendly labour practices, yet it did not listen. “For fear of the unknown, some workers are signing letters banning them from joining the unions, which violate their rights of association as enshrined in the country’s constitution. We have said there will industrial action against Chevron if the trend persists,” he said.


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

37

ECONOMY Although the debate on the state of the economy has been raging for some time, it is gaining momentum daily in view of the impending elections, which are less than two years away. While some Nigerian experts have rated the government’s performance as less than average, others in the international community think otherwise, saying the economy has fared well. SIMEON EBULU, NDUKA CHIEJINA and OKWY IROEGBU-CHIKEZIE report.

IMF, OPS, rating agencies differ on economy status N

EXT to politics, the economy is what is on every body’s lips. In fact, it has taken the centre stage. Because the state of the economy defines the standard of living of the citizenry, everyone, not the least the government, is conscious of the need to manage the economy in such a way that it provides what is required to ensure provision of the basic necessities of life. These include, but not limited to jobs, affordable healthcare, a functional transportation system, power and a gamut of other infrastructural facilities that make for good living. Given the size of our population, the parlous state of infrastructure, coupled with the growing list of unemployed graduates and other artisans roaming the streets in search of jobs, the feeling is that the economy is not growing. You might be wrong, but at the same time, you may as well be right, depending on who is doing the assessment. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a section of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) believe that the economy is doing well. Not so others, among them NACCIMA, that are of the opinion that a lot more need to be done to improve installed capacity utilisation and in return, create more jobs. The IMF said the nation’s economy has performed well in the course of 2013. The assessment and verdict, it said, was based on findings by its mission that visited Nigeria last month, during which it held consultation with the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, senior government officials, members of the Legislature and representatives of the private sector. The Fund’s Mission Chief and Senior Resident Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Gene Leon, said the economy has performed well, noting that the Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), grew by 6.8 per cent in the third quarter of the year, compared to the third quarter of last year. He said the growth was supported by robust performances in agriculture, services and trade. His view tallied with those of the immediate past President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Goodie Ibru and the Director-General, Mr. Muda Yussuf. Ibru said ,when compared with the global output growth rate of 3.5 per cent, the country’s growth performance could be considered satisfactory. Quoting from data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), he put the GDP growth rate for the second quarter of the year at 6.18 per cent as against 6.56 per cent in the first quarter and 6. 39 per cent recorded in the second quarter of last year. When compared with global output, Ibru argued, the growth performance could be considered satisfactory, adding: “but from our perspective as private sector players, the economic conditions were difficult and the challenges of doing business remained formidable.” He said the business environment was characterised by high cost of doing business, with constraints in poor infrastructure, cost and access to funds, depreciation of the naira, influx of substandard products and smuggling, adding that despite the problems however, the economy still offered tremendous opportunities for investors. “Ours is the second largest economy in Africa with over $300billion GDP. What we lack is the capacity to harness these opportunities for our common good,” he said, adding however that some progress has been made in charting the right course. On his part, Yusuf described the economic growth trend, measured by the performance of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as generally positive over the last two years at about 6.5 per cent. To him, this is good com-

• Yusuf

• Mrs Okonjo-Iweala

Sectoral Contribution to GDP Telecom

8.0%

Solid Minerals

0.5%

Hotel & Tourism

0.6%

Building & Construction

2.0%

Real Estate

1.9%

pared to the growth conditions in most economies around the world. He, however, said the contributions of most of the sectors to GDP were not significant. Respective contributions as at the third quarter of 2013 were as follows: telecommunications, eight per cent; Solid Minerals, 0.5 per cent; Hotel and Tourism, 0.6 per cent; Building and Construction, two per cent; Real Estate, 1.9 per cent. The character of growth explains the limited impact of growth performance on welfare of citizens. Local value addition and indigenous participation in many of the sectors is still very low, he observed. The LCCI chief criticised the deteriorating power situation and the refineries, saying they are underperforming, thereby compounding the unemployment situation. He was also critical of the high cost of funds for doing business. Yusuf lamented that the business environment is not conducive for manufacturing enterprise, saying this is why the risk of industrial investment is high and continues to increase. He argued that the various policy interventions have not had the desired

2012 GDP

2013

Q1

Q2

Q1

Q2

6.56

6.39

6.56

6.18

Global Output

3.5%

3.5%

External Reserves

$45.06b

Interest Rate Between

17-28%

GDP Value

$300 billion

impact on the sector, warning that unless there is an effective and sustained protection and support for the sector, it would be only a matter of time for the sector to become extinct. His words: “This scenario has played out in tyre manufacturing, the textile industry, the assembly plants, the battery industry, the steel plants and many more. Manufacturing business is perhaps the most challenging in the economy today. The trend has grave implications for the economy. An economy dominated by buying and selling cannot boast of a bright future. Production is critical to economic progress, value addition and job creation. He added: “it is impossible to have a vibrant manufacturing sector in the face of rampant dumping of cheap imports in the country, noting that some of these imports are landing at 50 per cent of the cost of products produced locally.

‘Nigeria’s growth performance could be considered satisfactory, but from our perspective as private sector players, the economic conditions were difficult and the challenges of doing business remained formidable. Ours is the second largest economy in Africa with over $300billion GDP. What we lack is the capacity to harness these opportunities for our common good’

Concern for the economy runs through the various specialised professional bodies, not the least, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA). Its President, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, said the manufacturing sector contributes an abysmal four per cent to the GDP, urging that government should stimulate the sector with policies and infrastructural provision that will lift the manufacturing segment. He said the declining external reserves which stands at $45.06 and the GDP growth rate figure which dropped from 6.56 per cent in the first quarter to 6.18 per cent, are all indicators that the government needs to move swiftly to address pertinent issues in the manufacturing sector. He frowned at the fact that interest rates have remained at double digit, hovering around 17 per cent and 28 per cent, as against a single digit rate expected by business operators. He drew attention to the huge unutilised installed capacity in the manufacturing sector, saying that the sector is still faced with gross inadequate power and energy supply, including deplorable infrastructure, which he stressed are hampering operational efficiency and the ability of the sector to assume the role of engine of growth. The NACCIMA chief urged that industries should be supported to remain competitive in such a way that the products will be able to compete with imported ones. He said the manufacturing sector is still faced with gross inadequacy of power and energy supply, including deplorable infrastructure hampering operational efficiency and its ability to assume it’s expected role as engine of economic growth, as earlier noted by Yusuf. Another area in which manufacturers are seeking relief, is in port reforms. A Council member of NACCIMA, Mr. Adams Idifueko, said except government implements the promised Port Reforms Policy of 24hours cargo clearance, the manufacturing sector will still be hampered, stressing the need to urgently address the multiplicity of inspection and government agencies domiciled in the ports. He said with over 70 per cent of the manufacturing companies in the sub region domiciled in the country, transforming the nation’s seaports into a regional hub will aid the growth of the sector, as prospective importers and exporters will be enabled to do their businesses seamlessly, stressing that government and its agencies should come up with pragmatic and efficient solutions to address the issues head-on. Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement is suggested for the development of new ports. If the real sector must move forward, we must have an efficient port system, Idifueko, argued. The LCCI in its fourth quarter Business Confidence Index (BCI) report for the year, said the business outlook moderated to 17.6 per cent from 24 per cent that it posted in the third quarter which represents 6.4 per cent point drop of the index. BCI is a leading economic indicator designed to measure the degree of optimism on the state of the economy that business leaders are expressing through their activities of investing and spending. Decreasing business confidence is often a pointer to slowing economic activities, indicating that business owners are likely to decrease their investment appetite. The more confident entrepreneurs and managers feel about the business environment, the more likely they are to make new investments, create jobs and impact the economy. Yusuf said the index had maintained a steady improvement over the first three quarters of the year in the region of 10.5per cent in the first quarter, 16.5 per cent in the second and 24 per cent in the third quarter, •Continued on page 38


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

38

ECONOMY

IMF, OPS, rating agencies differ on economy’s status

•Continued from page 37

explaining that the moderation of the BCI score at this time suggests that business leaders are likely going to be softer towards expanding their investments in Nigeria in the months to come. On the report regionally, he said: “The confidence level of businesses located in the Southwest, moderated from the 44 per cent and 38 per cent it reported in the third and second quarter respectively to 28 per cent in the fourth quarter. This is also the trend exhibited by companies operating in the South East and South South with BCI score of 19 per cent, 11 per cent and 21 per cent respectively in the fourth quarter. The confidence level of businesses located in the Northern remains flat at zero and at negative confidence levels, which he said, has grave implications. The implication of this trend, is that Nigeria is now faced with a situation whereby a sizeable section of the country would end-up contributing next-to-nothing to the GDP, adding that “the initial gain that came from the Federal Government’s special security intervention which saw BCI score of the Northcentral region jump to 11 per cent in the third quarter seem to have faded away.” On sectorial indicators, he maintained that all the sectors except manufacturing reported positive but weak business confidence levels. Expectedly, he said: “We are mostly worried by the negative (two per cent) confidence level reported by operators in the manufacturing sector at this time. Over the last one year, the manufacturing sector has consistently remained at the bottom of the BCI league table by trending between negative and neutral confidence levels. The most disturbing factor for manufacturers includes the influx of imported and substandard products, poor access to credit, high cost of doing business and inhibitive activities of government regulatory/monitoring agencies,” Yusuf said. About three years ago, 2011 to be precise, the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan initiated its transformation agenda with the promise to breath fresh air into the way things are done in Nigeria. However, two years into his first full-term, the country’s economy is said to be growing on paper whereas the teaming population cannot feel the impact of the much trumpeted growth. For two fiscal years, the government has focused it’s budgetary preparation on job creation and the completion of old and abandoned capital projects as a means of minimising government’s spending. Social welfare indicators have been growing much slower than expected against the much held country’s celebrated economic growth. This year, a World Bank report said that, “Poverty reduction and job creation have not kept pace with population growth, implying social distress for an increasing number of Nigerians.” With more than two-thirds of population living on less than $1.25 per day, Nigeria ranks 153 out of 186 countries in the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index. The creation of more jobs that give employees a sense of security and self-worth, the International bank for Reconstruction and Development, said, is a critical task in addressing Nigeria’s human development record and needful in helping to diversify the economy. It said the government’s move in availing some sectors, such as agriculture, Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and the entertainment industries, funds to help finance economic growth is commendable, but the effects of these interventions are yet to manifest. Of particular concern is the $300 million intervention for the enter-

• Ibru

tainment industry. It is said that only Nollywood the movie segment of the entertainment sector appears to be mentioned to benefit from the fund and even at that, accessing the fund has been very difficult or impossible. Multi-lateral agencies such as the World Bank have urged businesses to learn to unlock their employees’ potential as a primary source of competitive advantage in an environment where “human capital” tends to be vastly undervalued. But the employers are handicapped by time-consuming and costly regulatory procedures and an increase in the minimum wage which has reduced their hiring flexibility, while job seekers jostle for very limited space in the public and energy sectors which employ much of the formal labour force. There is also the challenge of accessing cheap funds either from the interventions of government, which are supposed to be easy to access or from the banks. Throughout 2013, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has retained interest rate at 12 per cent but this has not translated to cheap funds for entrepreneurs. Recently, President Goodluck Jonathan said 27,000 jobs had been created by his administration under the YouWin job creation strategy of the government in its third phase. This is a very tiny drop in the sea of unemployed Nigerians looking for jobs and the promise of the government to create millions of jobs per year for about five years to effectively reduce unemployment in the country. According to reports NBS, “Nigeria’s economic growth quickened in the third quarter as the oil industry’s contraction eased and agricultural output increased. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose 6.81 percent on an annual basis, the fastest pace this year, compared with 6.18 percent in the second quarter.” The NBS report stated that “while

• Abubakar

disruptions to Nigerian oil exports continued, daily average crude oil production rose to 2.26 million barrels from 2.11 million barrels in the previous quarter. Crude output declined from 2.52 million barrels a day in the third quarter of 2012. Supply disruptions continue to hamper output in the oil sector.” Nigeria, it said depends on crude exports for about 80 per cent of government revenue and the industry accounts for about 12.5 per cent of gross domestic product, but criminal gangs tapping oil from pipelines for illegal sale have posed the biggest threat to output since a government amnesty in 2009 reduced armed attacks led by rebels fighting for greater control of the Niger Delta oil rich region’s resources. Again the NBS said: “The oil and natural gas industry shrank 0.53 per cent in the third quarter, compared with a 1.15 per cent slump in the second quarter, while agricultural output rose 5.08 per cent from 4.52 per cent.” Also Standard and Poors has given the economy thumbs-up on the economy in their recent rating released in October. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala explained: The basis of this rating is to assess the strength and stability of our economies and whether we are moving in the right direction or not. And we’ve now got the outcome of the 2013 rating which is a very positive one. The rating confirms our on- going rating stance which is BB- with a stable outlook. They have confirmed that the rating we had last year stands, which means that very positive things are going on in this economy. They’ve also acknowledged the challenges we have and they’ve looked at those, but the summary of it all is that in-spite of these challenges, they think the economy is robust, the micro-economic indicators are strong, the on-going monetary policy and the fiscal stance are strong enough for us to

maintain the very good rating we had. Even the on-going debate about the strength of the Nigerian economy, this is yet another external validation and confirmation that this economy, in spite of the challenges which we all know, and which we’ve not shied from putting on the table, that this economy is doing well. Overall they are looking at strong GDP growth, in 2013-2016, primarily due to non-oil growth, they are targeting both the external and fiscal debt burdens the debt stock in their opinion is relatively low and foreign exchange reserves remain strong. They are also viewing positively the fact that AMCON will be redeeming some of its debts, about N1.7trillion, and also looking at some of the development in our non- oil sector, especially power, the fact that our growth is from the non-oil sector, such as agriculture, retails, telecoms, and the reforms in power, are things they see as positive development. They commented on the need for us to maintain a strong fiscal stance and not run down our Excess Crude Account (ECA) too rapidly, and they’ve taken note of our challenges and for to ensure that the benefits of growth reflect on the living standard of the people, especially those at the bottom. But is the economy by any means tumbling, or on course. Indications that the economy is somewhat under strain can be gleaned from the constant borrowings of the federal and state governments from almost every credit window, institutions and foreign governments. Mid way into the year, the Debt Management Office (DMO) put the total debt profile of the country at N7. 93 trillion, inclusive of local and foreign debts. But as at September 30, 2013, the nation’s total debt had grown to N8.32 trillion ($53.42 billion), comprising of the Federal Government’s external debts and that of the state governments as well as the domestic debt

‘With more than two-thirds of the population living on less than $1.25 per day, Nigeria ranks 153 out of 186 countries in the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index. The creation of more jobs that give employees a sense of security and self-worth, the International bank for Reconstruction and Development, said, is a critical task in addressing Nigeria’s human development record and needful in helping to diversify the economy’

component of the former. Curiously, a few weeks after the DMO’s announcement, the Federal Government said it would secure another $3 billion loan from China as part of the $7.9 billion its one approved by the National Assembly, last year, saying the loan would go into building infrastructure. According to Mrs. OkonjoIweala, the agreed loans, would be sourced by instalment, based on an interest rate of less than three per cent over a 15to 20-year-period. She said the loans included a $500 million tranche to build airport terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano; over $700 million to build a hydro-electric power plant in Niger State, and $600 million to build a light rail in Abuja. Before embarking on these spate of borrowings, the government had argued that the sourced funds are soft loans with very flexible repayment terms and that such funds would be devoted to economic ventures that would yield returns for the country and from which repayments will be effected as they attain maturity. Despite the sweet talk about the necessity to borrow and the deployment of these funds in addressing so many infrastructural deficits, the gap is still widening of inadequate infrastructure, such as roads, electricity and the pitiable state of the educational ststem, just to mention, but a few. Again, the DMO has notified of the likelihood of nation’s outstanding debt rising to N8.809 trillion, or $55.4 billion by 2015 as contained in the country’s debt strategy for the next three years, but at this pace of borrowing it is most likely the figure will exceed projections given the fact that there would be massive spending from next year to 2015 due to election related matters. Other pointers to the poor state of the Nigerian economy are the controversies surrounding the monthly disbursements from Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) which has always pitched the state governments against the federal government and its agencies like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Most times we hear that the NNPC is withholding funds that ought to accrue into the federation account. The FAAC controversies have exposed the threat to the economy so much so that the accruals into the Excess Crude Account (ECA) designed to be savings for the rainy day when the price of crude oil falls in the international market has been eroded significantly so much so that all tiers of government agreed that from August, this year there would not be any more augmentation to FACC disbursements, but contrary to that agreement, $1billion was withdrawn from the ECA to augment October allocations. This withdrawals from the ECA has seriously depleted the ECA and there are hot exchanges of words and allegations of missing $5 billion from the ECA between the Rivers state governor and the federal ministry of finance which oversees FAAC. Also of interest is the management of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), which ordinarily was supposed to bring the ECA to an end. Already a portion of the fund has been shelled out to three foreign investment banks to manage under an arrangements that make it look like they are doing Nigeria a favour by managing the fund. Next year promises to be one that SWF might unravel when politicians would have realigned their interest most likely away from the interest of the government at the centre.


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

39

THE NATION

BUSINESS INSURANCE

Seven firms fail to submit financial reports S

EVEN insurance firms out of of 59 are yet to submit their 2012 audited annual reports to the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), eight days to the end of this financial year. The firms are Guinea Insurance Plc, NICON Insurance, International Energy Insurance Plc, Alliance & General, Alliance & General Life Assurance Plc, Goldlink Insurance and Industrial & General Insurance Plc. NAICOM made this known in its 2012 Submission Status Report on Insurance Companies Financial Statements. The defaulting firms risk cancellation of their operating licences, even as they are already in breach of last June 30 deadline for submission of accounts. Section 26 of the Insurance Act, 2003, states: “Failure to file annual return constitutes a ground for cancellation of their operating and an insurer shall be deemed to have failed to file its annual returns if the provisions of the section are not met 12 months after the end of the financial year.” However, 22 have submitted, but are yet to get the nod of the regulator. This is even as most of them have been on the awaiting list for over three months. They include Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc, Lasaco Assurance Plc, Crystal Life Insurance, PHB Insurance Plc, Great Nigeria Insurance,

Stories by Omobola Tolu-Kusimo

Oceanic Insurance Company Limited, Wapic Life Assuarance Ltd, Nem Insurance Plc, Lasaco Life Assurance, Linkage Assurance Plc and Mutual Benefits Life Assurance Limited. Others are Union Assurance Limited, Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation, The Universal Insurance Company Ltd, Staco Insurance PLc, Capital Express, Standard Alliance Insurance Plc, African Alliance Insurance Plc, Anchor Insurance, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation and Unic Insurance Plc. Meanwhile, 30 firms have complied with the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS). They are Mansard Insurance Plc, ADIC Insurance, WAPIC Insurance, Consolidated Hallmark, Oasis Insurance, FBN Life Assurance, Continental Reinsurance Company Plc, AIICO Insurance Plc and Leadway Assurance Company Ltd. Others are Crusader General Ins. Ltd, Crusader Life Ins. Ltd. UBA Metropolitan Life Ins. Company, Zenith Insurance Company Ltd, Unitrust Insurance Company Ltd, Unity Kapital Assurance Plc, Standard Allied Life Assurance, Custodian & Allied Ins. Plc, Regency Alliance Company, Royal Exchange Assurance Plc, Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc, Zenith Life Insurance Ltd, Royal Prudential Life Assurance Plc, Sterling Assurance Nigeria Ltd, Law Union & Rock In-

surance Company Plc, Cornerstone Insurance Plc, Oceanic Lif e Assurance Plc (Old Mutual), Prestige Assurance Plc, FIN Insurance Ltd, Niger Insurance Plc and Equity Assurance Plc. Commissioner for Insurance, Mr Fola Daniel has, however, criticised insurers who have not submitted their last year’s report, saying the companies might be sending a wrong signal to the industry. The Commissioner, who spoke in Ilorin, assured that the industry is healthy, noting that the Commission would ensure that their invest-

ments erre not jeopadised. Deputy Manager, Supervision, NAICOM, Cyprian Amadi, said insurers refused to be carried along by the Commission in the transition to the IFRS. He accused insurance firms of submitting poorly prepared statements. He said: “NAICOM made series of efforts to ensure that insurance companies buy into the IFRS mandate, but the indifferent attitude of these insurers frustrated all their efforts. “We took time to train insurance

companies on IFRS but they still did not get it right when they started submitting their financial statements. “Some of them have refused to do what is right. They keep submitting accounts that the figures do not add up. Some also employ the services of consultants who only copied what was written in textbooks without any practical experience. These consultants have not been involved in practical IFRS transition as such cannot get it right and such attitude does not help anybody.”

Cornerstone makes N543m profit

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ORNERSTONE Insurance Plc has made a pre-tax profit of N543.9 million in its 2012 financial year. This is 259.92 per cent growth over a loss of N340.1 million in 2011. This firm made this known during the company’s 21 st Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos. It made gross earnings of N4.6 billion against N4.2 billion in 2011, an 8.2 per cent growth in turnover over the company’s performance in the preceding year. Its income grew by 54.2 per cent to N2.4 billion; the previous year it was N1.5 billion. The total assets rose to N12.1 billion. It was N11 billion 2011, an increase of over 100 per cent. Meanwhile, shareholders’ funds grew to N6 billion compared to

N5.5 billion in 2011. The firm’s Chairman, Dotun Sulaiman said the company has approved a five-year plan. It involves overhauling its retail business, strengthening its distribution partnerships, growing microinsurance channels and refocusing the takaful business. “We are also rebuilding our technology platform and securing the human resources required to drive the implementation of the new plan by bringing in new skills, retraining existing staff and reviewing remuneration to reward performance and achieve greater alignment.” Sulaiman said the successful implementation of these plans would would lead to profi and enable it to resume payment of dividends.

• From left: Deputy President National Insurance Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), Mr. E. K. Okunoren; Mr. Shoderu; Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Wapic Insurance Plc, Mr. Ashish Desai; Executive Director, Technical, Mr. Folusho Aliyu, and Executive Secretary/CEO, NCRIB Mr. Fatai Adegbenro, at the event.

T

NCRIB seeks prompt claims’ settlement’

HE National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) must enforce prompt settlement of claims on underwriting firms, President, the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB)Ayodapo Shoderu has said. He spoke at the NCRIB members’ evening hosted by WAPIC Insurance Group, in Lagos. He said the directive became necessary because of the importance of claims in the business.

By Damilola Akinsola

He urged the regulator to be stringent on its stand on prompt settlement of claims, adding that claims payment remains the best advertorial to boost the industry’s image. He said: “One of the areas of interest of our council is the need for underwriters to always pay claims expeditiously. While many underwriters are striving to strictly to the time limits for claims payment to clients, some still do err in this regard. “Considering the place of claims payment in insurance’s image and acceptance, the Council under my leadership has taken up the matter with NAICOM during my recent visit to the Commission. We urged NAICOM to consider a directive to

underwriting companies on the need for them to be prompt in the settlement of claims to clients. “Since the sustenance of any insurance industry is its ability to pay claims promptly, our opinion is that the Commission should be more stringent on its stand or directive to insurers on claims payment, the same way the Commission frowns at brokers with regards to remission of premium.” He said NCRIB and NAICOM would continue to partner in enforcing ethical practice, urging operators to play according to rules. Acting Managing Director WAPIC Insurance Group, Ashish Desai, said the firm has been repositioned. He called on stakeholders to join hands to enable the industry takes its position in the economy.

STI hosts Fifth Table Tennis tourney

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•Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc, Eddie Efekoha (left),

presenting an award to winner of the firm’s essay competition, Aladenike Atinuke Titilayo, in Lagos.

OVEREIGN Trust Insurance (STI) Plc has hosted its Fifth Annual Ikoyi Club 1938 Table Tennis competition for members and their spouses. The three-day competition had members compete for laurels in the various categories. The event held at the Table Tennis Section of the Ikoyi Club1938. Chairman, Table Tennis Section of Ikoyi Club 1938, Otunba Femi Oduntan, thanked the management of STI for its support, appealing to other corporate organisations to emulate its gesture. He said: “The least that any corporate organisation can do is to be socially responsible by contributing the little they can to the development

of their immediate community and the nation at large. “Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc has consistently shown its commitment to the promotion of sports and the development of young talents to further enhance the human capacity in the sports industry”. STI’s Head, Corporate Communications and Brand Management, Mr. Segun Bankole, said his firm would continue to support the promotion and development of sports, adding that it is one of the key elements in the firm’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) . He said the CSR policy of the firm recognises sports as an integral factor in achieving a healthy society and contributing to its advancement.


40

THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

Taxation

T

Distinguishing withholding tax from VAT

HERE is a need to draw attention to the fundamental difference between Withholding Tax (WHT) and Value Added Tax (VAT) so as to facilitate clear understanding of the mechanics of the tax concepts. WHT is an advance payment of income tax and the purpose is to bring the prospective taxpayer into the tax-net, thereby widening the income tax base. In other words, the WHT system is aimed at tracking down taxpayers and the incomes which may otherwise not be reported by them. When the income on which WHT is deducted at source is finally brought to the notice of the tax authority and the appropriate tax computed, due credit is given for the WHT deducted at source on the presentation of the original WHT receipts through the issuance of credit notes. The taxpayer will be required to pay only the balance due after matching the actual tax liability against the credit for the WHT suffered at source. WHT is therefore nothing more than a collection machinery to curb tax evasion. It is not a separate tax on its own. It is a part of the income tax - whether personal or corporate income tax. In contrast, VAT is a different type of tax. It is a consumption tax payable on the goods and services consumed by any person, whether government agencies, business organisations or individuals. The target of VAT is the final consumer of goods and services and unless an item is specifically exempted by law, the consumer is liable to the tax. Exemption from this is not aimed at agencies, companies or individuals but rather at the goods and services. Therefore, all agencies of government, religious and other organisations and similar persons that are normally exempted from income tax are expected to pay VAT on the goods and services consumed by them except where the goods and services are specifically exempted by law. The primary market (a) How to impose WHT It is usual for issuing companies to pay fees to issuing houses, stock brokerage firms, reporting accountants and solicitors in respect of new and rights issues, as well as debenture stocks. Such fees should be subject to withholding tax at source in accordance with Section 63 of the Companies Income Tax Cap 60 LFN 1990, and the relevant extra-ordinary Gazette. The issuing companies are hereby mandated to deduct theWHT tax therefrom and pay over to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) within 30 days as stipulated in the tax law. The net is then paid over to the issuing house that handled the issue. The applicable rate for commissions/fees is 10 per cent for limited liability companies, and five per cent for individuals and partnerships. How to impose VAT Every consumer pays VAT on services rendered to it. As consumers of the services rendered by both the issuing houses and other parties to the issue, the issuing companies are liable to the payment of VAT for the services rendered. The issuing houses and other parties to the issue should charge VAT at five per cent on their

invoices for services rendered. Since the issuing houses handle the transactions connected with new and rights issues, they are to act as agents for the collection and remission of VAT to FIRS. Listing by the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) As a pre-requisite for listing new securities by the NSE, the evidence of settlement of WHT and VAT on the new and rights issues must be attached. The listing fees are themselves liable to WHT and VAT. Renewal of operators’ licences Before an operator’s licence is renewed by a regulatory authority, evidence of WHT and VAT on issues handled in the previous year must be produced. The secondary market (a) How to impose WHT •In the case of a purchase, the stockbroker is expected to charge the investor for the following: •the cost of the shares purchased. •commission based on gross value of shares purchased on behalf of that investor, - the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fee (which is one per cent of total consideration and is not subject to WHT and VAT being part of gross income earned by SEC) •deduct WHT on the commission at 10 per cent and pay over to the relevant tax authority, i.e. State Board of Internal Revenue (SBIR) or FIRS. •In the case of a sale, the stockbroker is expected to deduct from the investor’s gross consideration the following: •his commission, •the other fees payable to other third parties, as approved by the SEC. •Thereafter, the net sale should be paid over to the investor. •Both the stockbroker’s commission and other fees paid to other third parties are subject to WHT. The stockbroker is to pay over tax withheld from the commission and other fees to the relevant tax authority. How to impose VAT In both purchase and sale transactions, the consumer of the services rendered is the investor. It is, therefore, the investor that is subject to this tax. The VAT on these transactions should be paid over to FIRS. Collection arrangement In respect of the collection of the taxes herewith discussed, the usual collection arrangement will prevail. Reference to the relevant FIRS information circular (9502 of February 20, 1995, 9501 of January 13, 1995) may be advisable.

‘It is a consumption tax payable on the goods and services consumed by any person, whether government agencies, business organisations or individuals. The target of VAT is the final consumer of goods and services and unless an item is specifically exempted by law, the consumer is liable to the tax’

• Acting Executive Chairman, FIRS, Alhaji Kabir Mohammed

Mashi

In summary, the following collection arrangement should be observed: (a) WHT •The rate at which tax is to be withheld on commission and fees is 10 per cent when these payments are made to limited liability companies; and five per cent for individuals and partnerships. •The currency in which the tax is to be paid is the currency the transaction was carried out and in which the tax was deducted. •payments of wht should be made in bank drafts and payable to: •The Federal Government of Nigeria - FIRS – Withholding Tax Account. •Payments should be accompanied by the relevant forms (CMF1, CMF2, CMF3, CMF4, or CMF5). •Any default in the implementation of the tax carries heavy penalties. •Failure to deduct WHT and failure to remit taxes withheld are punishable on conviction by a fine of 200 per cent of the tax not withheld or remitted. VAT •The rate for VAT is five per cent. •Payments of VAT should be made in bank draft and payable to: •‘The Federal Government of Nigeria – FIRS – VAT Account. •The payments should be accompanied by the VAT FORM 022 which is readily available online and all FIRS offices throughout Nigeria. Dual role of issuing houses It is necessary to clarify that the new policy of the government imposes dual roles on the issuing houses as agencies which handle new and rights issues: ib) as agent of government for the deduction and remittance of WHT and as agent of government for the collection and remittance of VAT even in respect of their own respective transactions which ordinarily should have been paid over to the operator who charged the VAT on his invoice. (For more details see para. 4 of Information Circular no. 9502 of February 29, 1995).


MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

POLITICS

43

THE NATION

E-mail:- politics@thenationonlineng.net

As a business mogul, Second Republic governor of Gongola State and Minister of Transport, life was rosy for Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. But as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), his tenure has been characterised by crisis. Can he hold on to the end? Group Political Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU examines the strengths and weaknesses of the party leader and his chance of survival

Can Tukur survive crisis? B

AMANGA Tukur, prominent business man and embattled National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was in a pensive mood in his office last week. In the last one year, the ruling party has been battling with protracted crises. These crises are not good for a man of Tukur’s age. The 80 year-old politician pondered on the lingering crisis that has decimated the platform. Signals from the troubled chapters suggested that more troubles were on the way. There was no PDP National Chairman who had been insulated from crisis in the last 15 years. But the raging controversy has assumed an alarming proportion. Although the National Working Committee (NWC) had passed a vote of confidence on his leadership, he acknowledged the limitation of the partisan endorsement. Reality dawned on Tukur that his perception as the obstacle to peace in the troubled party by the aggrieved governors may soon turn the table against him. Therefore, he took a step. In a surprise move on Wednesday, the chairman visited the Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih in his Abuja home. Both Tukur and Anenih are founding fathers of the PDP. They are also loyalists of President Goodluck Jonathan. However, they have been working at cross-purposes. They embraced, discussed the logjam and resolved to revive the moribund reconciliation process. ‘Mr. Fix it”, as Anenih is fondly called, was said to have promised to work harmoniously with the chairman to resolve the lingering crisis. As the meeting was going on, the aggrieved governors were sharpening their deadly arrows. When the swords of five out of the seven governors hit the party few weeks ago, it bled profusely. Their defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) created ripples. It was the first massive defection from the acclaimed largest party in Africa. But, the two governors who are reluctantly staying on in the PDP have been firing salvos at Tukur. Thus, reconciliation with Anenih only paled into a tip of an iceberg. At the weekend, Tukur’s agony increased geometrically. The governors insisted that the chairman should go. In fact, some names were suggested to the PDP National Leader, President Goodluck Jonathan, as replacement. However, at the weekend, there was another trouble for the chairman. To his consternation, 37 House of Representatives defected from the PDP to the APC. Now, there are fears that some senators may join the band if defectors. Since he became the chairman in a rancorous convention, Tukur has not had peace. Ahead of the national congress, governors rose against his candidature. Yet, as a party source said, he was the only aspirant the President could depend for loyalty. But, despite the fact that President Jonathan had his way, he could not prevent the volley of attacks on his anointed candidate.

• Second from right: Dr Jonathan, Vice President Sambo, Chief Anenih, Senator Mark, Tambuwal (right) and Tukur (left) at the last PDP convention in Abuja.

From day one, Tukur could not go along well with the National Secretary, Gen. Olagunsoye Oyinlola. The National Executive Committee (NEC) was divided. Oyinlola complained that Tukur’s Chief of Staff, Abu Fari, was an interloper doing the work of the national secretary by proxy. Following the confrontation, Fari was shoved aside. But it was not the end of the matter. When party chieftains in the protested the congress that threw up the national officers, the agitation, which was backed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), led to the resignation of some national officers. Tukur survived the purge. But preparations for the next congress created rift between him and many PDP governors. A section was bitter over the suspension of Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi and later, Sokoto State Governor Aliyu Wamakko. Although Wamakko’s suspension was suspended, Amaechi was not pardoned. Wamakko said that the chairman had erred, warning that his activities will injure the health of the party. The PDP went into its supplementary convention in distress. A section of the party led by Alhaji Kawu Baraje formed the New PDP, which has now fused into the APC. Prominent chieftains were summoned before the National Disciplinary Committee chaired by the ailing Dr. Umaru Dikko. The committee had not commenced its sitting when many party stalwarts started to desert the ruling party. Although the governors had persisted in their call for Tukur’s removal, the President has refused to yield. The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, has dismissed the call for Tukur’s ouster as illegal, stressing that he emerged in a proper congress witnessed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). “The INEC attested to it that he emerged in a proper convention. How can you ask a duly elected chairman to leave?”, he queried. A presidential source said that Tukur is being perceived as the only shield for President Jonathan, who is believed to be nursing a second term. “It is a game they are playing in

the PDP. Tukur is not the problem. His problem is that he is committed to the President, who is the target”, he said. Asked to shed light on the source of the discord, he added: “The President may actually declare his intention for re-election. Tukur is loyal to the President. Therefore, they believe that he is loyal to one of the candidates or aspirants in the PDP”. Another chieftain, who collaborated this view, said that the adversaries of the President, notably the aggrieved governors, are also eyeing the Presidency in 2015. “They too want to be President and they believe that, with Tukur as the chairman, the President will still be in charge of the party, just as the governors are in charge of the state chapters”, he added. Both the PDP National Executive Council (NEC) and the National Working Committee (NWC) are solidly behind Tukur and the President. Two week ago, they both passed a vote of confidence on the National Chairman, urging him to team up with the President in the implementation of his transformation agenda. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in his letter to the President, also exonerated Tukur, saying that he only accepted dictation from the President. The camp of the former President in Ogun State are unhappy with Tukur for recognising the State Executive Committee headed by Adebayo Dayo, an engineer, instead of the factional executive led by the eminent politician, Senator Dipo Odujinrin. But, Tukur had explained that he only obeyed the court’s ruling on the Ogun PDP leadership tussle. He said he could not have ignored the court judgment, having vowed to return the party to the path of integrity, discipline, rule of law and party supremacy. In Adamawa State, Tukur and Governor Murtala Nyako have been at loggerheads. There is a sort of ego war between the two Fulani brothers and neither was ready to sheath his sword. Nyako’s group had accused the national chairman of projecting his son, Awa, for the governorship in 2015. Initially,

‘The heat is on. The forces against the chairman are not relenting. They are unanimous that Tukur should go in the interest of the party. The chairman is in the eye of the storm. But the President is also sensitive to the danger of letting down a dependable ally. Will Tukur step aside? Will he survive the crisis? Time will tell’

Tukur objected to the objection against his son’s ambition, saying that he is an adult who can decide for himself. However, when he persuaded the younger Tukur to defer his aspiration, the discord generated by the ambition did not vanish. However, a source said that crisis brew between Tukur and the PDP governors because they resented the reforms introduced by the chairman. Tukur’s advisers have furnished him with the information that the governors would ultimately become his albatross because they constituted a powerful cult. He was told that past national chairmen fell because the governors did not want them or the President instigated them against the chairman. In fact, they warned him against falling into the same trap like Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, who did not survive his quarrel with the governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime. Therefore, he decided to liberate the office of the national chairman from the jaw of the governors. Tukur introduced the on-line membership registration and payment of dues by members at the ward level. It is an innovation that could aid aggressive mobilisation of party members. The former chairmen relied on the governors for money for running the party. Therefore, with on-line registration, Tukur sought to assert his independence by relying on the party members, whose dues would now be used for running the party. The chairman also attempted to sideline the governors by canvassing for the sponsorship of the party by the Federal Government. The governors felt slighted. A source said: “The reforms initiated by Tukur were in good faith, but they were damaging to the personal interest of the governors. Tukur and President Jonathan were governors in the past. They know that the governors are the leaders of the party at the state level. They control the party across the states. But they do not want the President to control the party at the centre. “Tukur’s on-line registration of party members meant that the party secretariat will have access to all party members across the wards. This may disrupt the governor’s plans to rig primaries at the state level”. The heat is on. The forces against the chairman are not relenting. They are unanimous that Tukur should go in the interest of the party. The chairman is in the eye of the storm. But the President is also sensitive to the danger of letting down a dependable ally. Will Tukur step aside? Will he survive the crisis? Time will tell.


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

44

POLITICS Former Ekiti State Governor Adeniyi Adebayo is the All Progressives Congress (APC) Interim National Vice Chairman (Southwest). He spoke with EMMANUEL OLADESU and MUSA ODOSHIMOKHE on the challenges confronting the mega party, preparation for Ekiti and Osun state governorship elections, Jonathan Administration, single term tenure, national security and other issues.

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‘PDP, LP can’t dislodge APC in Ekiti’

HY was it difficult to resolve the rift between Governor Kayode Fayemi and House of Representatives member Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele? We did everything possible to bring about rapprochement. We tried to pacify all the parties, but I really don’t know why it did not yield the desired results. As a big brother, people thought your influence would have robbed off and brought about peace… But unfortunately, this did not make the impact and, like I said, I did my best to ensure that the parties involved resolve their differences. What do you think is the bone of contention? The reality is that Opeyemi Bamidele don’t want to step down for Kayode Fayemi. He has made up his mind to go to another party to contest. All I can say is that I wish him the best of luck. It has been speculated that his departure will have adverse effect on the party…. Sincerely speaking, I don’t see how that will happen in Ekiti State. I don’t see how our members will leave a winning party and join a party that is not yet tested in Ekiti. I do not think that people will move from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Labour Party (LP). It will not have any adverse effect on our party. Some people said that Bamidele has grievances, which you elders failed to address… Frankly speaking, Opeyemi Bamideles is a nonissue with me for now. He has left my party. So, I wish him all the best in his future endeavour. Why is it difficult for the progressives to resolve their differences? Your question is hypothetical. I am a progressive and I don’t think I have problem with anybody. People are of the opinion that you don’t have crisis resolution mechanism in your party You will always have aggrieved people in any political party, whether progressives or conservatives. That is because sometimes, reasons do not prevail where a man has an ambition. And I don’t think this happens only among progressives. We have it in the conservative fold. A month ago, the APC only had an adversary, the PDP. But now, it has the PDP and Labour Party to contend with… Add both together; they cannot pose a threat to the APC in Ekiti State. I keep saying it and I will say it again ,until we hold election in Ekiti. The APC will win not less than 70 percent of the votes. What is responsible this over confidence? It is not over confidence. It is confidence borne out of the reality on ground. The governor has done a fantastic job. He has done fantastic a job, in term of developing the state and that is what gives me the confidence. Any attempt by the Independent National Electoral Commission to rig the election will be resisted. As a politician, I go round the state. I see what is on the ground and I feel the pulse of the people. The feeling is that the governor has performed. Everybody in Ekiti is desirous of having continuity in government. The problem of Ekiti is non-continuity in government. After I left office in 2003, I think we have had about five or six governors in the state. This has created a lot of disruption within the system. So, all we are saying is that we admire places like Lagos as a result of continuity of government. When there is a continuity of government, there will be continuity of policy of development. And many people are saying that, with the kind of job Governor Kayemi has done, if allowed to continue in another four years, he will continue to do the same job by making Ekiti greater. And whoever comes after him, the developmental stride will continue. That is what people want to see. All they are interested in is to ensure that there is continuity, in term of development. Now, they have somebody who is doing a good job. So, he will continue. Between now and 2014, what do you think should be the pre-occupation of Fayemi Administration? I think by the time the detail of Governor Fayemi’s budget is out, it will be the continuation of what he is already doing. He will be involved in bringing more development to Ekiti State. He will continue with the development and construction of roads in Ekiti State. He will continue with the development of infrastructure for school, hospitals. I know there is plan to expand the social security for the elderly people. He will put more money in agriculture

‘If we look at those who have come to join us so far, you find out they have progressive tendencies. And, if you remember, the PDP was formed by progressive politicians. It was unfortunately that they allowed it to be taken over by the conservatives. At the time the PDP was formed and, if you look at the founding fathers of the PDP, majority of them were progressives’ •Adebayo

togenerate employment. He plans to do a lot and he should be given the opportunity to carry this out in another four years. The APC has been protesting the outcome of the governorship election in Anambra State. You are going to elections in Ekiti State and Osun states. What are your fears? We have learnt a lot from what happened in Anambra State. We have studied the situation and we are going to ensure that we guard against what happened. We are not going to allow that to play out in Ekiti and Osun states. The defection of Alhaji Rafiu Ogunleye from the Ogun State APC to the PDP has been described as a minus. What happened? I have to ask you why he decided to leave. Sometimes we engage ourselves too much on personalities. It is not the personality that is the issue; it is the followership. For instance, in Ekiti, my deputy decided to go to the PDP, but his followers did not go with him. At a time 14 members of the ACN left and they thought it was going to weaken the ACN, but this did not happen because, when they left, their followers did not go with them. And that is the situation in Ogun State as well. Though Ogunleye has left, many of the followers did not go with him. Many in the APC believe in our party. No party is perfect; there will always be differences. Even within families, there is difference. You are not going to say because you have differences with your children or relatives, you are no long a member of that family. It should not be that way. And incidentally, when these people leave and believe that they are going to move with their followers, they get disappointed. If you want to go, you can do that, f am not happy with what is going on. But I prefer to stay within my own house and fight for my right than abandon the ship. Is there no lesson that we can learn from their defection? If you say the grass is greener onthe other side, it is when you get to the other side that you discover that it not so. I don’t understand how you profess to be a progressive and you now leave it to the conservative camp. That I don’t understand. The PDP is targeting the Southwest for liquidation... That has always been their ambition, even when they used might and everything that they have to overrun us in the Southwest. Later, the Southwest liberated itself. They have always dreamt. Let them continue to dream. But, how are you prepared to curtail them? They did it once. We made the mistake that we tried to support a Yoruba man for the Presidency, but he used everything at his disposal to get us out of office. Now, we are smarter. Our eyes are opened and you can be rest assured that nobody can deceive us. We know what they are planning to do. we are tiding up and prepared to stop any attempt by them to do thingss we considered inimical to democracy. You have been celebrating the expansion of your party. How will those who are coming be able flow together with you ideologically? If we look at those who have come to join us so

far, you find out they have progressive tendencies. And, if you remember, the PDP was formed by progressive politicians. It was unfortunately that they allowed it to be taken over by the conservatives. At the time the PDP was formed and, if you look at the founding fathers of the PDP, majority of them were progressives. Unfortunately, there was an influx of conservatives and, as at today, the party has been taken over by them. And you will find out that it is the progressives among them that have said enough is enough and have moved back to their traditional abode. If you want to get progressives together, people of like minds, you will find out that there is always accommodation. There are diasagreements on whether the new governors will have overriding influence in their states… We believe strongly in internal democracy. For now, what we are going to face is the registration of our members. Anybody that is interested in our party will be registered and, from then, we will hold our congress. The congress will hold from the ward level, local government to the state level. It is at that point we will know who is in control and who is not in control. What I am saying in essence is that it is the party that will be in control of the party machinery. The leadership of the party will be decided by the people themselves, as supposed to anybody being foisted on anybody. We are not a party where you will say, come ,you are going to be the leader of the party. There is theparty constitution and the leadership will emerge by the will of the people. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar defected to the Action Congress (AC) 2007 and, after the election he went back to the PDP. What is the assurance that those who defected now will not go back to the PDP? I cannot predict the future because I am not a soothsayer. From what they are saying and their body language, I feel comfortable with them. I think they have chosen to come back to their natural abode. It has been said that you are eyeing the Senate… I always laugh when I heard such comments. I have never nursed any ambition in this direction. I had the opportunity to contest for the Senate and I refused such opportunities. I am not interested in the Senate; my interest is building the party. My ambition, when I was young, was to be a governor. Ekiti State was created and I got into politics and I was elected the first executive governor of Ekiti State. Ever since, I have not shown any interest in an elective office. I still have no such plans and, ever since I left office, I have been involved in the process of building the party from the AC to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and now the APC. I have been involved in building a national political party. We have now got to the state that we have to do something to achieve a national party. This will be done such that, by the time we hold our national convention, we will have on ground a national party that will be the envy of everybody and that, for now, is my ambition. I want to state categorically that, either now or the fu-

ture, I doubt very much that I have such intention. I can tell you categorically that, in the immediate future, I have no interest. What is your position on the proposed national conference? I have been around long enough. Many people use these conferences for tenure elongation. During the time of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and now President Goodluck Jonathan, I believe that, in this country, we should have a national conference. If we are serious about having a national conference, this is not the time to have it. If President Jonathan was serious about it, we should have had that earlier. This is the same President that had stated categorically that he does not believe in it. And, all of a sudden, it is coming to election time and he has changed. He wants to use it as an opportunity to try and convince some people to get their support. The Yoruba people voted for Jonathan for him to become the President of the country, but the Yoruba have not been treated well under the administration. There are complaints in Yorubaland and I think honestly, he must have been advised that the Yorubas are not happy with him and what you can do now to make them happy is to tell them that he will hold a national conference. For someone who for many years opposed the national conference and toward the end of his tenure now decides to hold a national conference is a smack of deceit. I for one do not believe that it is feasible. I do not believe it will work and I believe it was something somebody suggested to him. They believe he can use this one to keep people quiet for sometimes and get support from the Southwest. President Obasanjo tried it, which was the beginning of his tenure elongation. The Deputy Senate President has even told us that there should be tenure elongation. He has suggested that people should stay in office for another two years. It is the same script. They are reading the same book, the same attempt that was used by Obasanjo. They have now brought the same script again and the way it failed during President Obasanjo time, that is how it will fail again. Does that mean that the proposal will not work? Even if we are going to have it, it is not the way he put it to us. Not by saying that the present elected officers should stay for another two years. If we are going to have that, let us sit down and do a proper national conference. We should have proper resolution made; have everything properly put in a constitution. And not that the present people who have been elected to stay in office for four years should now come and extend their tenure. No way. We did not vote for them to stay for six years; we voted for four years. What are the factors and issues that will shape 2015 general electionn? Number one, it is corruption. There is massive corruption at the federal level. In fact, I am happy that the Minister of Finance, Dr. Okonjo Iweala, made a comment yesterday that corruption is a major problem they are unable to tackle. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, said categorically that corruption is being encouraged by the executive. Nigerians are sick and tired of it. That is one issue that we will put on the front burner. The mood in the APC tends to suggest that its presidential slot may be zoned to the North... Even, if it is so, there will still be primaries. Whoever is going to emerge will be chosen by the people through a democratic process as provided for in the constitution. Will the primary be guided or open? We have different procedures. Which ever that is decided upon will be used. Most of you who are leaders of Afenifere are not prepared for reconciliation in the fold again… I believe that, one day, we will all come back together again. Efforts are being made in that direction. At the end of the day, really what is Afenifere all about? It is the wellbeing of Yoruba people. Many of us are in different political parties today, but we still have the wellbeing of the Yoruba at heart. The most important thing is that, as long as we are fighting for the progress of the Yoruba people, irrespective of political parties, then, we are still on course. Are you not worried that local government election has not been held in Ekiti? The election has not held because of the case in court. The PDP took the government to court and that is what is holding us. It is not something that we are happy about.


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PRESIDENT JONATHAN’S SINS OBASANJO CANNOT FORGIVE

embers of the Voice of the South-South (VoSS), a socio-political organization in the South-South geo-political zone have picked holes with the 18-page letter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to the current President Goodluck Jonathan which was made public last week. The VoSS said that Obasanjo’s letter “was not intended to appeal to or advise President Jonathan to tread the path of honour, the but a coup d’état, designed to incite Nigerians and the world against him”, to pave way to blocking his re-election bid and possibly unseat him. In a statement issued in Port Harcourt yesterday, the VoSS said the timing of the letter and the events that followed it “are indicative that former President Obasanjo was merely acting a plot that is now known to most Nigerians: Obasanjo’s letter to President Jonathan” The statement which was signed by Engr. Mike Ogiasa and Sowaribi Tolofari, Chairman and Publicity Secretary of VoSS respectively said that the letter which was supposed to be a confidential document was deliberately released to the press and made a common document in public domain pointing out that “no one who truly loves Nigeria would release such letter with venomous content and meaning to the public at this time in our national life.” Ogiasa and Tolofari who asked rhetorically why the letter was released in President Jonathan’s absence also stated that “as far as the VoSS is concerned, Obasanjo’s release of the letter when Jonathan was away in South Africa for Nelson Mandala’s funeral and later Kenya for the country’s 50th independence anniversary, was reminiscent of the military coup that ousted General Yakubu Gowon while on official visit to Uganda in 1975.” The chairman and publicity secretary of VoSS also condemned the decision of the faction of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) led by Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi who met a day after the release of the letter. At a news conference which the forum addressed after, they requested to meet President Jonathan to discuss the alleged nonremittance of the $49.8billion by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), among others pointing out that “this is the same faction of NGF which consistently shunned meetings called by the President in the past.” Continuing, Ogiasa and Tolofari said the “the conspiracy and its purpose - to make President Jonathan the first and last Nigerian president to ever come from the South South – has been known for long. We are also aware of the many secret meetings Obasanjo has been holding with forces against President Jonathan and his second term ambition. Indeed, Obasanjo had long been fingered as the main inspiration of the G-7 governors.” The VoSS also stated that “in Obasanjo’s controversial “letter-bomb”, he mentioned a loan for a water project in Rivers State. We are curious about ex-president Obasanjo’s sudden interest in the welfare of the people of Rivers State, out of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory because Obasanjo was President for eight years and he did not know that there was no water in Rivers State, even though he was in cahoots with then Governor Peter Odili, and visited Rivers State more than any other state in the federation.

from Prindari Modi

“Why is Obasanjo interested in just the matter of a loan for supply of water, of all the myriad of problems – environmental pollution, housing, transportation, healthcare, education, unemployment, etc. - facing the people of Rivers State daily? Could it be because Amaechi awarded the water contract to a firm owned by an indigene of Ogun State?” They further stated that “Nigerians are no fools and Obasanjo should never think they are. Nigerians are aware of Obasanjo’s sudden friendship with Governor Amaechi shortly after he became President Jonathan’s political enemy. As a result of this new alliance, Amaechi’s “Kleg”, the political cancer Obasanjo diagnosed while serving as President and for which reason he refused to accept Amaechi as gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State in 2006, has disappeared mysteriously without any surgery or religious crusade. The statement also asserted that “it is indubitable that Jonathan has a constitutional right to contest the presidency a second time even though Obasanjo, who moved to change the constitution to enable him run a third term says it is immoral. “We find it very difficult to accept that President Jonathan is the worst president Nigeria has produced as Obasanjo and his cohorts would want Nigerians to believe. Jonathan may not be glib tongued; he may not be master of rhetoric, he may be of simple and humble mien, but without any fear of contradiction, we wish to assert that President Jonathan has done well so far and has achieved much more than many of his predecessors.” Ogiasa and Tolofari also imputed that contrary to Obasanjo’s claims about Nigerian economy, UNCTAD had stated that of a $16.8billion Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow to West Africa in 2012, Nigeria alone attracted $7.0billion. Euro Monitor International, the world’s leading provider of global business intelligence and strategic market analysis has also put Nigeria as one of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world in 2013 while the Investor Centre of the publication Daily Finance places Nigeria among the top five 5 fastest growing economies in the world with a 7.4% growth in 2013; all during Jonathan’s presidency. Heaping encomiums on President Jonathan, the group stated that he has been laying firm foundations that would actually enable the country to develop as “educational facilities are being revamped and new ones being built; airports are being refurbished, new ones are being built and new international routes are opening, the railways are being resuscitated after several decades in the limbo, and electric power generation and distribution - a thing at which Obasanjo colossally failed after spending colossal sums of money- is actually improving.” They further stated that since President Jonathan came into office, the nation’s seaports are no longer congested; no more fuel queues and investments are being made to turn around the agricultural sector. In sports, Nigeria has won international tournaments and trophies under President Jonathan more than any other president

in the country’s political history wondering why Obasanjo would count these things as sins against Jonathan, if he contemplates a second term. The mouthpiece of the south-south region described Obasanjo’s letter as dripping with selfpraise about honour, dignity, honesty, fairness, justice and so on when he talks of powers of the president, intimidation and impunity asking “where was Obasanjo’s dignity or honour when as president he sent a plane to convey members of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly to Abuja and instructed them to remove Chief Diepreye Alamieyesigha from office and flew them back and the governor was eventually removed? “Need we recall how Obasanjo removed Governor Dariye of Plateau State, using only eight out of 24 members of the Plateau State House of Assembly to impeach him. Would any Nigerian forget how Obasanjo as president sent Nigerian soldiers to kill, maim and wound the people of Zaki Biam in Plateau State and oilproducing Odi Community in Bayelsa State, burnt their homes and boats, and making the remainder of the population refugees? “Was it not during Obasanjo’s eight years in office as President that the use of private armies and assassinations of political figures entered the political arena in Nigeria? In his Yorubaland, Bola Ige was killed and in Rivers State, Chief A.K Dikibo and Chief Marshall Harry were assassinated. Therefore Obasanjo lacks the moral authority to lecture Jonathan on rumours of the misuse of the military, training of a private army for purposes of killing political adversaries not to talk of comparing meek and mild Jonathan with a murderous Abacha.” While noting that Nigerians and their friends agree that corruption is the bane of the country they reminded Obasanjo that corruption preceded Jonathan’s ascendancy pointing out that he (Jonathan) is not doing less than any president before him in fighting social malaise. The VoSS also expressed optimism that Jonathan would take appropriate action, jointly with the National Assembly on the letter that the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has written about unremitted oil funds as the CBN and NNPC have agreed to meet, even before the National Assembly steps in, to straighten out their records, which is enough evidence that Jonathan could not have been behind the nonremittance as Obasanjo made Nigerians to believe. They also stated that “although it would be below President Jonathan’s dignity to respond to Obansajo’s letter, which was so disrespectfully packaged in order to embarrass, weaken and distract him” all the same they advised him to address Nigerians to clear the air on the critical issues raised by Obasanjo, to disarm him and his team. They added that “it is the good works of Jonathan that Nigerians will use to judge him and rate the success of his presidency. It is his works that will guide Nigerians in their decision to vote and return him for a second term, and not the grudge and insinuations of conspirators.” Therefore VoSS stands “solidly behind President Jonathan and will continue to do so as he strives to make Nigeria a better country for all Nigerians.”


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MOTORING

Tipper drivers petitions Fashola

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N appeal has gone to the Lagos State Governor Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola to nip in the bud the crisis among the tipper drivers. Members of the Lagos/Ogun Tipper Workers Welfare Association of Nigeria (LOTWWAN); Allied Trucks Transporters Association of Nigeria (ATTAN); National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO); and the First Nigeria Tipper, Lorry and Driver Association of Nigeria (FIRST NIGERIA) made the appeal, lamenting the use of force by the Union of Tipper and Quarry Employers of Nigeria (UTQEN) to rule them. The drivers’ business is haulage of sand, granites and gravel in Southwest, especially Lagos. The unions said: “The Ministry of Transport, by the act, has generated a situation which can only breach peace and security in the state by granting provisional approval for tipper quarry operations in the state to the UTQEN. Members of UTQEN, they said, had employed thugs aided to disturb their members. “The thugs beat up our drivers and damaged our vehicles due to their refusal to pay revenue to them,” the unions said. In a petition to the governor, the unions reminded the state government that they are independent of UTQEN and cannot be regulated.

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•The unions protesting at the Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja. Stories by Tajudeen Adebanjo

The petition, signed by the unions’ lawyer Olakunle Hassan of Olakunle Hassan and Associates, reads in part: “We would Constitution guarantee that ‘Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the

Participants hail JAC’s test-run

ARTICIPANTS at the justconcluded test-run of JAC automobiles organised by Elizade Autoland and JAC Motors have praised the firm’s initiative. The test-run, which started in April ended at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Lagos. With theTheme, ‘JAC score card’, the event revealed the performance score card of the JAC vehicles and testimonies from the users, which were favourable. The test-run involved 10 passenger cars and eight light duty trucks, covering 120 days/20,000 kilometres on different terrains across Nigeria. Participants were drawn from corporate organisations, manufacturing companies, and commercial transporters. A driver at Evans Medical Plc, Mr. Tunde Osho, described the trucks as durable and rugged while Mr Frank Odeh, the Human Resources Man-

ager of Cybelle Cosmetics Ltd, hailed the interior and exterior designs of the vehicles. “I would recommend the J5 for corporate executives and the J3 for organisation pool cars. The truck is durable and have no complaints from our Quality Assurance manager,” he said. The Chinese representative of JAC, Lyrida Lu, expressed satisfaction with the performance of the brand, re-emphasising JAC’s record of excellence in African. According to Lu, JAC is here to stay in Nigeria and technicians are being trained for the after sales maintenance of the vehicles. Elizade Nig. Ltd Managing Director Demola Ade-Ojo, said the performance evaluations at the JAC test-run closing would guide the next step for Elizade Autoland and the future of the JAC vehicles in the market.

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PHOTO: TAJUDEEN ADEBANJO

protection of his interest’. The constitution therefore rejects this kind of imposition by a minority organisation.” The unions rejected moves by Ministry to foist membership of UTQEN on them. “As we are not members of UTQEN, we reject the collection of revenue by UTQEN. We demand that the state government direct UTQEN to stop the use of thugs to harass us and demand payments from us.

“We demand that your Excellency direct the Ministry to cancel the provisional approval issued to UTQEN on the July 18, 2013, which is the main source of this crisis. “We have always operated within the confines of the law and have paid our taxes to government agencies as at when due. The primary reason for the formation of our unions is to cater for the welfare of our members,” the unions added.

Reps laud FERMA in Northwest

HE House of Representatives Committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency

(FERMA) has expressed satisfaction with the agency’s road maintenance and intervention programmes in the Northwest geopolitical zone. Deputy Chairman of the Committee Hon Sani Ibrahim, who led a seven-member team on an inspection of the agency’s projects in Kaduna, Kano and Katsina, states told reporters that FERMA performed satisfactorily. According to him, the agency’s continuous maintenance of the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano dual carriageway as well as other roads in the zone has ensured that they are in very good condition. While pledging the House’s support for the agency in the New Year, Ibrahim averred that the committee hopes the agency is able to replicate the same standard of maintenance and intervention on all roads in other

geo-political zones. This, he said, would give Nigerians and the quality roads necessary for the running a vibrant economy. He hinted that though FERMA had provided the committee

with reports of its activities, the committee would confirm the reports by inspecting projects. He said this is important to ensure that projects appropriated were being executed in conformity with the laid down standards.

Commercial bus owners to get sanctions

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NY commercial bus owner, driver or conductor who fails to participate in the ongoing accreditation by the Lagos State Government will face the law. The government said it would not grant any extension to the 60 days period for the exercise which expires on December 31. Commissioner for Transportation, Comrade Kayode Opeifa made this known in a statement. He expressed displeasure at the uncooperative attitude of some transporters to regulate the operations of transporters for improved service delivery and security.

It would be recalled that the state government directed all commercial vehicle operators to register within the stipulated duration as agreed with the leadership of the various transport unions. The exercise, involves all commercial bus owners to visit any of the 21 zonal offices of the Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS) for accreditation and documentation while drivers and conductors are to visit any of the five Drivers’ Institute (LASDRI) Centres where they would be accredited with the Lagos Commercial passenger Vehicle Driver’s and Conductor’s badge after completing the mandatory LASDRI training.

SAFE DRIVING

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HE rate of road crashes and fatalities in Nigeria is alarming and calls for a more proactive intervention. Based on my research I am bold to say that Nigeria has the worst and most unregulated transport system globally. You may want to tell me that the Nigeria Standards Organisations of Nigeria (SON) with other government agencies are controlling the standards of vehicles in Nigeria. How then that we still have right hand vehicles being brought into the country and even driven on the roads? How come vehicles without an air bag are being sold in Nigeria? You may also want to tell me that the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) is monitoring the standards and use of vehicles on the roads. If so, you are right But how come vehicles with worn out tyres, are still plying the roads with impunity. How come vehicles meant for two passengers on a roll still packing three or four on the same roll? How come we still see

Transportation vehicles (including articulated vehicles) plying the roads with incomplete or without front and back lights. On different occasions, I have taken pictures of highly defective vehicles that could be compared with nothing but moving caskets still plying the roads despite the presence of FRSC officials on the roads. I have travelled to all the states and I can say it with authority that some drivers still pack two or three passengers at the front making four or three with the driver and they even wave or shake hands with the FRSC officials and Police officers without molestation. It is in this countryt that you see people being transported in Trailers like animals, sometimes sitting up high on loads. It is in Nigeria that you see vehicles not roadworthy by all standards, still carrying on inter state transport service. It is in Nigeria that you see vehicle conductors standing on the side or tail board of a bus

throughout the length of the trip. It is in Nigeria that you see a motorcycle conveying three passengers on the road. It is in Nigeria that you see drivers tell you that nobody can challenge him for not using a seat belt. It is in Nigeria that you see a tricycle rider allowing a passenger to sit with him in a seat meant for only the rider. It is only in Nigeria that you see VIPs breaking the speed limit laws with impunity. If the originally set speed limits have become outdated, why not set new ones in line with realities of vehicle technology and driving environment? It is in Nigeria that you see overloaded trucks moving dangerously on the roads. It is in Nigeria that vehicles are being turned to moving home theatre, disturbing the peace of some passengers. It is in Nigeria that you see a passenger sitting on the laps of a driver while driving and at the

same time, having two passengers on the seat meant for only one passenger beside the driver. It is in Nigeria that drivers don’t observe lane rules, particularly when there is traffic jam (go- slow). It is in Nigeria that drivers deliberately disobey the traffic signs, signals and road markings. It is in Nigeria that you see drivers disrespecting Road traffic officers because they know that they can always settle the officers with money irrespective of the gravity of the offence committed. Hence the persistently high rate of avoidable road crashes and fatalities on Nigeria roads. The road traffic management authorities at the Federal and State levels must get more committed, unbiased and incorruptible, particularly in enforcement. All of road users must also be more patriotic, obedient and incorruptible of compliance to the traffic rules and

Jide Owatunmise Registrar / Chief Executive, Professional Driving and Safety Academy

regulations. If we are all talking of wiping out corruption from Nigeria, we should know that disobedience to traffic rules is an act of corruption whether you believe it or not. It is time we develop and generally imbibe the right driving and safety culture that will be passed to generations yet unborn. It must be forward ever and backward never in standards


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

50 USEFUL PHONE NUMBERS ON ANY EMERGENCY

Council endorsed the useful phone numbers submitted by the security agents for easy access in case of any emergency on the metropolitan Roads. The public can contact KAROTA on 08091626747 for breakdown of vehicle(s), traffic congestion, accidents, and illegal/wrong parking. Similarly, the State Police Command could be contacted on – 08032419754, 08123821575. In addition, the State Fire Service could also be contacted on – 07051246833, 08191778888.

128TH KANO STATE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING PREPARED BY COUNCIL AFFAIRS DIRECTORATE, OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY TO THE STATE GOVERNMENT, GOVERNMENT HOUSE, KANO.

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he Kano State Executive Council along with the entire high echelon of Government functionaries returned from a three (3) – day “Working Retreat” held at Hamdala Hotel Kaduna. The retreat was aimed at bringing all those who matter in the running of this Government together in order to collate, compare and digest details of executed projects, policies and programmes so as to chart ways forward. Nevertheless, it is common knowledge that, prior to his popular mandate for the second incumbency, Governor Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, FNSE continually declared resolutions on positive delivery of projects, policies and programmes aimed at transforming the lives of the citizenry in Kano State for the better. Myriad of positive transformation projects, policies and programmes were deliberately designed and executed to various levels of completion, which called for a return to the “drawing board” for reappraisal, assessment and redirection where necessary. These cut across all sectors especially the cardinal ones which include Education, Infrastructure (development and maintenance), Agriculture, Water Supply, Environment, Empowerment, Health, etc. Importantly, Governor Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, FNSE declared the Fourth (4th) Retreat for Kano State Political Office Holders, Top Government Functionaries and Directors open, by enunciating the following objectives: i. That the retreat was held so as to provide synergy and create a platform for wider Consultative exclusive engagement amongst all Stakeholders. ii. That the retreat was held to ensure inclusiveness and openness in Governance. iii. That the forum was intended to critically evaluate the Budget performance between January and October, 2013 so as to articulate the Budget Estimates for 2014 Fiscal Year. iv. That the forum was to provide grounds for participants to deliberate upon and prepare for consolidating the achievements recorded during the year 2013. Essentially, the main theme of the Fourth (4th) Retreat was tagged “Budget of Consolidation” focused on the completion of on– going projects, policies and programmes. Ninety Percent (90%) of the Capital Provisions in the 2014 Budget Estimate are earmarked for the completion of on–going projects implementation. At the Plenary Session held at the Fourth (4 th ) Retreat the Honorable Commissioner, Ministry of Planning and Budget stated that for the period January to October, 2013 the general performance of the budget under review stood at 62%, which is expected to improve significantly at the end of the 2013 financial year. In fact, the Communiqué issued at the end of the Fourth (4 th) Retreat presented eight (8) observations and six (6) recommendations, which were acknowledged and appropriately adopted. Thus: • Observations i. That from January to October, 2013 the general performance of the Budget stood at 62%. ii. That the Institutional reforms introduced by the present administration have remarkably improved the Internal Revenue Generation (IGR) – especially collection efforts by the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR). iii. That allocation of 25% recurrent expenditure and 75% capital expenditure will be maintained for 2014 Budget. iv. That emphasis will be placed on the on–going projects in order to ensure their completion to 100% level on schedule. v. That education will continue to receive priority attention in congruence with the present administration’s Human Resource Development Policy. vi. That the transparency exhibited in line with international “Best Practice” manifest in the weekly publication of the decisions/conclusions of the Kano State Executive Council is acknowledged and further cements/endears the positive relationship of the State with Development Partners at home and abroad. vii. That the Statutory Allocation from the Federation Accounts (FAAC) is becoming uncertain. viii. That the existing interface problem among the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning and Budget and the Projects Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate affects budget implementation, control and execution. • Recommendations i. That all revenue generating MDAs should intensify effort towards achieving their respective envisaged targets so that the revenue generation figures should shift from the 67% of the 2013 period to at least 90% in 2014. ii. That priority allocation to capital over recurrent expenditure should be maintained. iii. That the proposed policy of free education at all levels is highly commendable, hence all Stakeholders should give maximum support towards its successful realization. iv. That all Stakeholders should work jointly to ensure timely completion of all the on – going projects. v. That, in view of the dwindling Federation Statutory Allocation, there is the need to pursue the various tax and other fiscal reforms initiated by the present administration so as to ensure/enhance the revenue base of the State. Importantly, final outcome of deliberations at the Fourth (4 th) Retreat was in complete concord with that of an earlier retreat convened by the Top Local Government Functionaries (28 th November to 1 st December, 2013) held at NAF Club, Rabah Road, Kaduna. The Theme of the Retreat was tagged “Strategies for Effective and Efficient Formulation and Implementation of Budget at the Grassroots Level,” which had the same bearings and ultimate goal with that of the Fourth (4th) Retreat conducted by the entire highest echelon of Government Functionaries in the State with

the main theme tagged as “Effective Budgeting as a Tool for Economic Growth and Development in Kano State”. Essentially, the two (2) Retreats centred on issues to be handled in the 2014 Annual Budget for the State and Local Government, which was appropriately, tagged “Budget of Consolidation” focused on the completion of the on–going projects, policies and programmes. Ninety Percent (90%) of the Capital provision, as stated earlier, are earmarked for the on – going projects implementation. All Government Organs at the State and Local Levels are to focus attention and jealously safeguard the processes that ensure completion of the already started projects prominent among which are the following Mega ones among the Multitude; • Construction of 1.76Km Flyover and provision of nine (9) Clovers over/along Murtala Muhammad Way (Wapa to Tafawa Balewa Road Junction). • Establishment of the Kano State owned Independent Electric Power Projects. • Establishment of forty-four (44) Islamic Studies Secondary Schools. • Establishment of nineteen (44) Technical Colleges. • Conversion of KASCO Stores to Garment Cottage Industries across the forty-four (44) LGCAs. • Construction of Laboratories and Libraries along with furnishing in Secondary Schools. • Zawarawa Marriage. • Hajj Operation. • Construction of 5KM roads across the forty-four (44) LGCAs. • Establishment of Kwankwasiyya Garment Clusters along with provision of equipment and accessories. • Re – construction of Dakata – Bela Road. • Procurement of Tricycles Ambulatory Vehicles. • Procurement of Waste Disposal Tricycles. • Renovation of Laboratories and Libraries in 100 Secondary Schools across the State, etc. With the foregoing in its priority, the Kano State Executive Council convened its one hundred and twenty-eighth (128th) sitting held today Wednesday 18 th December, 2013 (15 th Safar, 1435 AH) under the Chairmanship of Governor Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, FNSE. Nine (9) MDAs submitted forty-one (41) memoranda for deliberation by Council among which sixteen (16) were approved for execution with an expenditure of Six Billion, Seven Hundred and Thirty- Two Million, Eight Hundred and Forty-One Thousand, Two Hundred and Forty Seven Naira, Thirty-Six Kobo (N6,732,841,247.36) covering fourteen (14) projects as follows: 1. MINISTRY OF HIGHER EDUCATION One (1) of the three (3) memoranda submitted for deliberation by Council from the Ministry of Higher Education was approved for execution. Thus: Presentation of Request for Funds to Sponsor Kano State Indigenous Qualified Candidates for Studies at the American University of Nigeria, Yola:Cognizant of the commendable priority accorded to education by the present administration, the Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Higher Education intimated Council, through the contents of this memorandum that, an agreement was arrived at regarding Scholarship and Educational Partnership with the American University of Nigeria (AUN) Yola. A discount of 20% on tuition fee to be paid per student was offered by the AUN. Details were presented to Council for consideration along with the recommendation and request for Council to consider and approve the sponsorship of 25 qualified candidates at a discounted sum of N61,900,000.00. Council deliberated on the request and approved the sponsorship. Again, Council approved the release of the aggregate sum of N750,000.00 for disbursement as three (3) months allowances to each of the twenty five (25) sponsored students at the rate of N10,000.00 per month. As such, Council approved the release of the total sum of N62,650,000.00 to the Ministry of Higher Education for the stated purpose in view of its empowerment status. 2. MINISTRY OF WORKS, HOUSING AND TRANSPORT Twelve (12) memoranda were submitted for deliberation by Council from the Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport. Six (6) of them were approved for execution as follows: a) Presentation of Request for Funds to Enable the Payment for Variations in Renovation Works Executed at Kano State Governor’s Lodge No. 14 Sultan Road Kaduna:The Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport politely reminded Council, through the contents of this memorandum, of its approval for the execution of the cited renovation works. Notably, the Contractor claimed having executed some additional works executed outside the scope of the original Contract at the aggregate sum of N10,309,238.68, which was thoroughly investigated and appraised by professionals from the Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport. However, the Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport slashed down the claim to the sum of N7,513,843.05 due to the sub – standard status of the additional works executed. As such, Council was requested to approve the release of the recommended slashed down sum of N7,513,843.05 to enable the payment for the executed additional works for the renovation of the Kano State Governor’s Lodge No. 14 Sultan Road, Kaduna. The recommendation was approved. b) Request for Funds to Enable the Payment for Diesel (AGO) Supplied/Consumed by MDAs (04 – 11 to 26 – 11, 2013):As custodian of all petroleum products supplied and consumed by MDAs in Kano State, the Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport submitted the request cited for Council to consider and approve the release of the aggregate sum of N10,505,000.00 to enable the settlement of payment for diesel consumed to power

Rabi’u Musa Kwankawaso electricity generating sets at seven (7) MDAs during the month of November, 2013 (i.e. 4 th – 26th, November, 2013). Details presented prompted Council to approve the release of the requested sum of N10,505,000.00 to the Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport to facilitate the stated payment. c) Request for funds to enable the immediate take-off of skills acquisition institutes Under this heading were four (4) memoranda, which were commonly related to the same issue, which had to do with request for funds to enable the provision of minimum requirements for the completion of the establishment and proper/immediate take–off of each of the following two (2) Skill Acquisition Institutes. Thus: i) Request for Funds to Enable the Provision of Curtains among the Minimum Requirements for the Take – Off of the Sports Institute, Karfi:The State Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport appraised and assessed the minimum requirements for the full take–off of the Sports Institute situated at Karfi on Zaria Road. Provision of curtains at the estimated cost of N4,851,900.00, which was among the minimum requirement presented to Council for consideration and approval for release. To complete what was started, Council approved the release of the requested sum of N4,851,900.00 to the Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport to enable the provision of curtains among the minimum requirements for the full take – off of the Sports Institute Karfi. ii) Request for Funds to Enable the Provision of Fire Detection System, Public Address System, CCTV Camera and Projector System as Minimum Requirements for the Full Take – Off of the Sports Institute, Karfi:Council acknowledged and approved the release of the aggregate sum of N9,966,390.00 to the Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport to enable the provision of fire detection system, public address system, CCTV Camera and Projector System as part of the minimum requirements for the full take – off of the Sports Institute, Karfi. iii) Request for Funds to Enable the Provision of Internet Connectivity, Wireless Networking, Computers and Peripherals for the Full Take – Off of the Sports Institute, Karfi:ICT is celebrated as a basic requirement for any viable Institution of Learning of which the newly established Sports Institute situated at Karfi on Zaria Road is no exception, which warranted for the Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport to present the cited request for consideration and approval by Council. Details were presented to the tune of N16,427,250.00 for consideration and approval for release to enable facilitation of the stated purpose(s). Approval was granted as requested by Council considering the relevance of the request to the empowerment policy of the present administration. iv. Request for Funds to Enable Provision of Minimum Requirements for the Full Take – Off of the Qur’anic/ Western Education Institute Temporary Site Situated on Independence Road, Kano:The Qur’anic/Western Education Institute is among the eighteen (18) newly established Tertiary Institutions by the present administration under the capable leadership of the second incumbency of Governor Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, FNSE. Details of the minimum requirements for the full take – off of the Qur’anic/Western Education Institute were presented to Council for consideration as follows; SN Works Description Cost (N) i. Preliminaries 1,000,000.00 ii. Renovation of Hostel Block 18,398,070.00 iii. General Renovation of Mosque 1,945,654.50 iv. Academic Building (Classroom/Offices) 42,612,545.00 v. 7 – Cubicles Toilets Block 2,887,378.00 vi. 150 KVA Electricity Generator 5,416,250.00 vii. Contingency 3,612,994.88 viii. VAT (5%) 3,793,644.62 TOTAL 79,666,537.00 As such, the State Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport requested Council to approve the release of the aggregate sum of N79,666,537.00 to enable the provision of the minimum requirement for the full take – off of the Qur’anic/Western Education Institute at its Temporary Site situated on Independence Road, Kano. Council noted, considered and approved the release of the requested sum of N79,666,537.00 to the Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport to enable the provision of the stated minimum requirements for the full take – off of the Qur’anic/ Western Education Institute. 3. OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY TO THE STATE GOVERNMENT This Office submitted nine (9) memoranda on behalf of the Chairman (Governor Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, FNSE) and some other MDAs. Two (2) of them were approved for execution as follows: a) Presentation of Report and Request for Funds from the Executive Council Committee on the Examination of the


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013 Revised Estimated Total Cost (RETC) for Kwankwasiyya, Amana and Bandirawo Cities: The sum of N7,859,214,913.92 billion was the initial contract sum for the construction of the three cities of Kwankwasiyya, Amana, and Bandirawo. The Management Consultant (Integrated Engineering Associates) prepared a Revised Estimated Total Cost (RETC) to the tune of N14,696,355,643.14 due to additional works and change in scope arising in the course of executing the project. The infrastructural facilities listed below were added, such as: i. The construction of a bridge at Kwankwasiyya, ii. The construction of box culverts with reinforced concrete drains at the three cities of Kwankwasiyya, Amana and Bandirawo, iii. The placing of vehicular slab at Amana and Bandirawo Cities, and iv. Asphalt surfacing on the major roads within the three cities of Kwankwasiyya, Amana, and Bandirawo Cities, etc. However, as works go on professionals re-evaluated and reviewed the projects downwards due to some adjustments made on infrastructure, such as substituting box culverts proposed on Amana and Bandirawo cities with ring culverts, construction of ring types drainage with chambers instead of re-enforced concrete drains, etc. and came up with the sum of N11,838,753,974.84 as the total cost of the project. This brings a saving of the sum of N2,857,601,668.30 for the same project. That savings were realized in the execution of the construction projects in each of the three (3) Cities. Thus: i. Kwankwasiyya = N288,467,795.62 ii. Amana = N1,337,420,983.58 iii. Bandirawo = N1,231,712,889.10 TOTAL = N2,857,601,668.30. Thus, subtracting this saved sum of money from the earlier approved contract sum of N14,696,355,643.14 yielded a new RETC to the tune of N11,838,753,974.84. Further, Council was notified that the contractors were initially paid the aggregate sum of N5,634,084,705.49, which was subtracted from the new RETC to leave an outstanding sum of N6,204,669,269.35 due to the Contractors which was requested for release by Council so as to attain the RETC of N11,838,753,974.84. Appreciating the presentation, Council approved as requested for the adoption of the new RETC to the tune of N11,838,753,974.84 instead of the initially approved sum of N14,696,355,643.14 and the release of the outstanding sum of N6,204,669,269.35 due to the Contractors in addition to the earlier released sum of N5,634,084,705.4 Request for Funds to Enable the Conduct of the Step – Down Training of Service Providers on Non – Communicable Diseases (NCDS)) Office of the Secretary to the State Government submitted the cited request on behalf of the State Ministry of Health for consideration by Council, through the contents of this memorandum. Council was tacitly notified that the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in the year 2001, NCDS accounted for 22% of the total deaths in the Africa Region in the year 2000 while cardiovascular disease alone accounted for 9.2% of the total deaths the World over. This showed that the NCDS killed more people than the Malaria Scourge. Noteworthy is the fact that the NCDS are group of Chronic Medical Conditions/Diseases that are Non – Infectious and Non – Transmissible among the people but their prevalence in Kano State is high and alarming. Such, NCDS include Hypertension, Diabetes, Sickle – Cell Disease and Cancers, which are on the increase. This instigated the Ministry of Health to submit the endorsed request by the Office of the Secretary to the State Government for Council to approve the release of the aggregate sum of N9,987,500.00 to enable the execution of the following activities: • Conduct of Public Enlightenment Campaign on NCDS. • Conduct of Capacity Building Workshop for the Health Care Providers on NCDS. • Procurement and distribution of relevant drugs to NCDS Patients. • Procurement of consumables and basic equipment required for the diagnosis of NCDS. Details were presented to Council for consideration along with the recommendation that the entire exercise was to be conducted by the State Ministry of Health in strict collaboration with the Kwankwasiyya Medical Outreach Unit and other recognized Stakeholders. Congruence of the project/request with the policy of the present administration in Kano State under the capable leadership of the second (2nd) incumbency of Governor Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, FNSE, prompted Council to approve the release of the requested sum of N9,987,500.00 to the State Ministry of Health for the stated purpose. MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL 4. RESOURCES Three (3) among the six (6) memoranda submitted for deliberation by Council from this Ministry were approved for execution as follows; a) Presentation of Request for Funds to Enable the Payment of Allowances to the Staff of Commercial Agriculture Development Project:The Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources politely informed Council of the following developments related to the request cited: • That the number of the Staff of Commercial Agriculture Development Project was trimmed down from thirty eight (38) to thirty (30) as directed. • That 1168 Commodity Interest Groups (Farmers Co– operatives) comprising 11,000 Members/Eligible beneficiaries from across the 484 Wards in the State were formed in liaison with the State CRC as directed. • Nine (9) among the 1,168 Commodity Interest Groups received the blessings of Governor Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, FNSE on Saturday 7 th December, 2013 during the Launching Ceremony for the Project. • That the project will soon commence the construction of phase II Farm access road of a distance of 17.817Km situated at Kaurar Mata in compliance with the requirement of World Bank procurement guidelines. • That the project Staff competently perform their scheduled work beyond normal hours including weekend days. They devote time to cope with the demand for the development of business plans now that many Farmer Co – operatives have been formed. They conducted series of field trips to supervise and monitor Co – operatives activities, implementation of the Co–operatives’ Business Plans, collection of relevant field data, analysis/ appraisal of the Project Result Framework (RF), supervision of the road construction sites and writing/recording/keeping relevant project reports, etc. As such, Council was requested to motivate and encourage the Staff to continue putting their best for the effectiveness of the project so as to achieve the envisaged goal. Considering, the following three (3) prayers were presented to Council for

51 consideration and approval: i. Payment of allowances to the Project Staff (using its fund) for the period August – December, 2013 (five (5) months) as reduced by 30% for Staff on Posting) while that of directly recruited Staff to be at 100%. Total sum of money involved was N6,640,227.00. ii. Payment of allowances owed to those Staff laid off (eight (8) people) for the month of August, 2012 as their terminal benefit to the aggregate sum of N295,000.00. iii. Continuous payment of monthly allowances to the project Staff (reduced by 30% for Staff on posting and 100% for those directly recruited) at the monthly aggregate sum of N1,516,045.00. Council appreciatively acknowledged the presentation and approved the execution of items (i. and ii) at the total sum of N6,935,227.00 while directed for the project to fold up. b) Presentation of Report on the Establishment of Commodity Support Centers (CSC):The contents of this memorandum politely reminded Council of its directives to the Senior Special Assistant on Agriculture (SSAA) to forward a comprehensive report on the progress/establishment of Commodity Support Centers (CSC) in the State to the State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The Ministry did not receive the expected report from the SSAA and decided to undertake the assignment on its own and reported the following observations to Council for consideration: • That the ten (10) Commodity Support Centers approved for establishment are yet to take – off. • Seven (7) LGCAs were visited whereby it was observed that the only CSC found fully functional was that situated at Bunkure LGCA while those at Gabasawa, Minjibir, Rogo, Madobi, Gwarzo and Bichi are yet to be established. In this vein, Council was alerted and solicited to consider and approve the completion/proper establishment/execution of the earlier approved ten (10) CSCs, which need to be evaluated and respectively confirmed to be functional pending the establishment of more CSCs while the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources should be mandated to supervise and follow up the implementation exercise closely. Council acknowledged the presentation and approved the execution of the prayers therein. c) Presentation of Request for Funds for the Conduct of 2013/ 2014 Vaccination Campaign: CBPP. PPR (and Rabies):The contents of this memorandum presented a comprehensive update on the implemented 2012/2013 Vaccination Programme, which recorded successful Immunization figures of 593,413 Heads of Cattle and 325,614 Sheep and Goats. The 2012/2013 Immunization Programme implemented for Anti – Rabies was also successfully executed during which 10,000 Dogs were vaccinated across the 44 LGCAs of the State. Optimistically, 700,000 Heads of Cattle and 600,000 Sheep and Goats were earmarked for the Immunization Programme for the 2013/2014 period while 15,000 Dogs were targeted for the same period. Details on the requirements were presented to Council for consideration along with the request for the release of the aggregate sum of N19,688,728.00 for the stated purpose disaggregated as follows: i. Procurement of Vaccines and Inputs for the execution of the three (3) Vaccination Programmes (Cattle, Sheep and Goats as well as Dogs). = N14,388,228.00. ii. Launching Ceremony and procurement of other inputs for the Vaccination Programme = N5,300,500.00. Total = N19,688,728.00. Council noted, considered, appraised the request and approved the release of the trimmed down sum of N17,905,465.00 to the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources to enable the launching and implementation of the 2013/2014 Vaccination Exercise(s) for Cattle, Sheep and Goats as well as Dogs. 5. MINISTRY OF LAND AND PHYSICAL PLANNING Two (2) of the six (6) memoranda submitted for deliberation by Council from the Ministry of Land and Physical Planning were approved for execution as follows: a) Request for Funds to Enable the Reconstruction of Sabuwar Kofa – SAS Road:Cognizant of the resolve of the present administration in Kano Stateto provide qualitative infrastructure for use by the citizenry in the State, the Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Land and Physical Planning submitted the cited request for consideration by Council. Importantly, KNUPDA identified the Sabuwar Kofa – SAS Road as a major link road between the roads leading to the Emir’s Palace and the BUK Old Site. The road was presented to Council as dilapidated to a point that cause vehicular damage and frequent avoidable accidents. Reconstructing the road was considered paramount by the Ministry of Land and Physical Planning, which presented details on the scope of works required along with the request for the release of the negotiated sum of N288,485,219.26 for the project. After thorough deliberation, Council approved the execution of the project. b) Request for Funds to Enable the Purchase of Survey and Other Cadastral Specialized Equipment:The contents of this memorandum notified Council of myriad of laudable Land based projects in progress across the State. Such projects require proper surveying prior to their implementation. Specifically, seven (7) sites acquired for the execution of public oriented Land Based projects/purposes were of the essence as requiring proper surveying pending their execution. They include: • The Almajiri School at Warawa Town, Warawa LGCA. • The Youth Center at Warawa. • The Almajiri School at Garo Town, Kabo LGCA. • The site for Drug Store and College of Nursing at Kwanar Kwankwaso, Madobi LGCA. • The extension of School of Environmental Studies Gwarzo, Gwarzo LGCA. • The site acquired for the construction of Red Cross Clinic along Zaria Road at Chiromawa. • The site acquired for use at location for the new PHCN Sub – Station at Rimi Zakara, etc. Relatedly, details on the eleven (11) items/equipment required were presented to Council for consideration along with the request for the release of the aggregate sum of N24,476,340.00 for the purchase of the stated items. Council appraised the details presented and approved the release of the trimmed down sum of N11,068,170.00 to the Ministry of Land and Physical Planning to procure 50% of the number of items/equipment presented for the purpose stated. 6. MINISTRY OF INFORMATION, INTERNAL AFFAIRS, YOUTH, SPORTS AND CULTURE Request for Funds to Enable the Production of 50,000 Sets of Multiple Page Calendar and 1000 Copies Each of Pocket and Desk Diaries:The Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Information, Internal Affairs, Youth, Sports and Culture intimated Council, through the contents of this memorandum that, his Ministry is mandated for the production of the State Annual Calendar and Office Diary for distribution to individuals and Organizations across Public/ Private Sector across the State and beyond. Details on the requirement for the production of 50,000 sets of

Multiple Page Calendar and 1000 Copies each of Pocket and Desk Diaries were presented to Council for consideration along with the request for the release of the aggregate sum of N33,365,000.00 for the purpose. The routine nature of the project/request prompted Council to grant approval for the release of the sum of N33,365,000.00 for the stated purposes to be utilized as follows: i. Production of 50,000 sets of Multiple Page Calendar = N20,915,000.00. ii. Production of 1000 each of Pocket and Desk Diaries = N12,450,000.00. Total = N33,365,000.00.

UPDATE ON ACTIVITIES OF THE 128TH EXCO SITTING

1. COMPLETION OF TWO (2) WEEKS TRAINING PROGRAMME ON EMBRYO TRANSFER (ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION IN CATTLE) AT THE UNITED KINGDOM Council appreciatively acknowledged the successful completion of two (2) – week training programme by the two (2) staff sponsored to study Artificial Insemination procedure in the United Kingdom. This type of program is meant to train staff in modern skills for improved rearing of ruminant in the State. 2. QUIZ COMPETITION FOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS ORGANIZED BY THE SECURITY & EXCHANGE COMMISSION IN ABUJA Council delightfully noted the performance of Rumfa College, Kano, students at the competition by attaining fifth (5th) position among the 276 Secondary Schools that contested in the cited quiz competition. Notably, Kano came first (1 st ) among the nineteen (19) Northern States. 3. PRESENTATION REPORT ON THE 450 UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS ADMITTED TO IGBINEDION, CRESCENT, AND BELLS UNIVERSITIES Council acknowledged the content of the report submitted on the successful take – off of 450 State sponsored students who were screened based on 180 and above Jamb results with nine (9) Credits in either NECO/WAEC to their respective Universities. In the same vein, Council noted that among the 450 students, 250 Students were sent to Igbinedion University, 100 to Crescent University and 100 to Bells University. The sum of N10,000.00 monthly allowance was approved for the students for their upkeep. 4. COMMISSIONING OF PENSION COMMISSION NORTH WEST ZONAL OFFICE IN KANO STATE Council acknowledged the recent commissioning of PENCOM North West Zonal Office in the State by Governor Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, FNSE. Council pledged its usual support to the Zonal office on all matters related to pension issues and beyond. 5. SIGNING OF A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (MOU) ON NORTH WEST ZONAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT CENTER (EDC) IN THE STATE Council witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the establishment of North West Zonal Entrepreneurship Development Center in the State, which will train and empower youths and women on skills for development/ capacity building. 6. THE MARRIAGE OF 1,111 ZAWARAWA IN THE STATE Council appreciatively acknowledged the successful marriage of 1,111 Zawarawa among which some Non- Muslims in the State where included which took place on Thursday19 th , December, 2013. This was done with befitting fanfare. 2461 citizens have participated/benefitted from such a laudable program since its beginning under the considerate leadership of the second (2 nd) incumbency of Governor Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, FNSE. 7. ARRIVAL OF THE FIRST (1 st ) TURKISH AIRLINE FLIGHT TO KANO Council appreciated the arrival of the first (1st) Turkish Airline flight at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) on Thursday12 th December, 2013. This will improve tourism and commercial ties between Nigerians and Turkey. Relatedly, Council congratulated the airline and reiterated its support to ensuring an enabling environment for the smooth operation of the airline. Council called on the people of the State and the neighboring States to patronize the airline. 8. VISIT BY TANTA UNIVERSITY AND NEAR EAST UNIVERSITY, CYPRUS Council acknowledged the visit by the Vice Chancellor and Management team of the Tanta University to Kano State. Discussions were held on the issue of the take-off of the Northwest University Teaching Hospital at Kwanar Dawaki. Relatedly, Council also noted the visit of a team from Near East University, Cyprus, to Kano on transit where they appreciated the effort of the State Government on education. 9 . BURIAL CEREMONY OF LATE DR SOLOMON DAUSHEP LAR Council acknowledged the burial ceremony of the first (1 st) Executive Governor of the old Plateau State, Late Dr. Solomon Lar, which took place in Jos from 6 th - 13 th December, 2013, where the Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Special Duties represented Governor Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, FNSE at the Occasion. Council commiserates with the bereaved family, the Plateau State Government and the entire Country on the irreplaceable loss of the Political Icon. 10. CONDUCT OF SECOND (2nd) PHASE OF AERIAL SPRAY AGAINST QUELEA BIRDS IN KANO STATE Council appreciatively acknowledged the conduct of the second (2nd) phase of aerial spray against Quelea Birds in the State and urge citizens and farmers to report on any sign or activities of the birds to the nearest authorities for further necessary action. 11. PROPOSED 2014 BUDGET PRESENTATION Council noted the presentation of 2014 proposed Budget by the Hon. Commissioner for Planning and Budget. The size of the budget is N219,281,273,487.00 comprising N70,621,425,720.00 or 32% Recurrent expenditure and N148,659,847,767.00 or 68% Capital expenditure, while the expected revenue from all sources for funding it is the same. Thus, it is a balanced budget. Nevertheless, this Budget is slightly lower than that of the 2013 by over N19,223,655,532.00 or 8%.

Signed: Hon. Commissioner, Information, Internal Affairs, Youth, Sports & Culture, Kano State


52

THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013


THE NATION MONDAY DECEMBER 23, 2013

NEWS

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APC holds rally today in Port Harcourt

HE All Progressives Congress (APC) will hold today a massive rally at the Liberation Stadium, Elekahia, Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. Thousands of defecting supporters of the Supervising Minister for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, will be received at the rally, it was learnt yesterday. Rivers APC Interim Chairman, Chief Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, yesterday in Port Harcourt said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Federal Government was the greatest enemy of the state. He noted that barely four weeks after its merger with the new PDP, the APC had dislodged the PDP at the grass-

From Bisi Olaniyi, Port Harcourt

roots. Ikanya said the PDP was the ruling party in the state, until November 26, when it suddenly became the opposition party, following the defection of Governor Rotimi Amaechi and other ex-leaders of the PDP. The rally will be witnessed by Amaechi, who is also the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF); National Assembly members from Rivers State; members of the State Executive Council; stakeholders and national officers of the APC. One of the key loyalists of Wike, who plans to defect to

•Wike’s supporters to defect

the APC today, but craved anonymity, said: “Our eyes have been opened to see the evil, which PDP portends, as far as the development of Rivers State is concerned.” The APC chairman said: “The massive turnout of Rivers people in the local governments toured has proved that the masses have embraced our party. “This is not surprising in view of the neglect of Rivers by the PDP-led Federal Government. Most of the state’s oil wells have been ceded to Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Abia states. “The PDP-led Federal Government has ensured that Riv-

ers lacks Federal Government projects since the inception of the present government at the centre, for reasons unknown. “The Federal Government is the greatest enemy of Rivers State. It is bent on ensuring that we are denied development, including denying us a water project initiated by the Amaechi administration.” Ikanya also said following the face-off between President Goodluck Jonathan and Amaechi, the East-West Road and the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway had been abandoned. He noted that abandoning the strategic roads was done

just to ensure that the Rivers people were punished for supporting the governor, whom he said had demonstrated commitment and love towards the development of the state. The interim Rivers APC chairman urged the people to see the persons promoting PDP as enemies of the state. He said in 2015, APC governments in Rivers State and at the centre would not only protect the interest of the state, but would also see that the wicked polices against the state by the PDP-led government were reversed. Ikanya said: “By accepting the APC’s revolution, Rivers

people have taken their fate in their hands. Collectively we shall secure our freedom and reposition the state to the enviable position God has destined it. “The people criticising Amaechi for joining APC are misguided politicians, who have nothing to offer and who do not appreciate all Amaechi suffered and sacrificed to ensure sanity was sustained in PDP. But Jonathan, Bamanga Tukur and their surrogates in Rivers State ensured that he was frustrated out of the party.” He said Amaechi had no alternative but to join APC. He said in 2015, Rivers people and misguided politicians would appreciate Amaechi’s wisdom.

Dangote donates van to foundation From Osemwengie Ben Ogbemudia, Benin

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•From left: Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Anambra State Governor Peter Obi at the 9999 Chrismas Carol Service organised by the Akwa Ibom State government... at the weekend.

Oil spill: Fear of violence grips Bayelsa

•Communities urge Dickson, National Assembly to probe Agip

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EAR of violence has gripped communities impacted by the recent oil spill, which occurred from a terminal belonging to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. It was learnt that the method adopted by Agip to deal with the spill was brewing crisis in the affected communities, especially the 12 communities, which make up Brass Local Government. Traditional rulers and youth leaders were said to be angry that Agip sidelined them during the assessment tour of the impacted environment. The stakeholders were said to have complained that Agip only invited few persons for the

From Mike Odiegwu, Yenagoa

assessment of the November 27 spill, a development they described as divide and rule. The impacted communities of Ewoama, Egweama, Igbabelue, Beletiama, Opuorubou, Canuskiri, Inibomoyekiri, Mbikiri, Egirigiri, Elepa, Egweama-Amaogbo and Akabeleu, said Agip had no plans to compensate the affected fishermen. The communities, under the aegis of Brass Environment Preservation Network (BEPN), at the weekend asked Governor Seriake Dickson and the National Assembly to investigate the development. BEPN in a statement by its president, Tontebo James and

Public Relations Officer (PRO), Ebinyo Tonworio, urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate an allegation of bribery against Agip. The communities said the divide-and-rule approach was causing violence in the local government. The statement said: “”We wish to express displeasure with the method Agip has displayed in handling the spillage. “It occurred in the Atlantic Ocean directly off the shore of the Brass Island. Consequently, Agip selected youth leaders in Okpoama, Odioma and Twon Brass for an inspection. “It left out the concerned eight communities from where fishermen go fishing offshore.

Agip should be reminded that most fishermen lost their nets to the spill. “Agip was also known to embark on cover-up and divide and rule tactics with the sharing of N2.5 million. We wish to ask why Agip decided to invite youths for the inspection of the spill. “Why were the traditional rulers not contacted? This is a ploy to undermine the hierarchy of the community leadership with a view to dividing the community to cover up for the spillage. “Incidents like this have caused crises in several communities. No oil company will be allowed to fan the ember of discord in our communities now that the state is peaceful”.

Group cautions Ijaw over Jonathan

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GROUP, the All Niger Delta Peoples Congress (ANDPC), has cautioned leaders and socio-cultural groups in Ijaw land to be open minded in their defence of President Goodluck Jonathan. The group made the call yesterday against the backdrop of the raging controversy over ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter to President Jonathan in which Obasanjo raised critical issues on the state of the nation. In an interview with reporters in Abuja yesterday, the coordinator of ANDPC, Comrade Alaboso Joejim, warned the leaders and groups against the use of provocative and inflammatory statements in attacking the President’s perceived ene-

From Gbade Ogunwale, Assistant Editor, Abuja

mies. According to Joejim, Jonathan got elected with a pan-Nigerian mandate to govern the country and not a president elected to rule the Ijaw nation, stressing that projecting Jonathan as an “Ijaw hero” could create disaffection among other ethnic groups. The ANDPC leader said the recent provocative statements and reactions credited to some Ijaw leaders and groups were capable of generating ill-feelings and alienating other ethnic groups from the President. Joejim said: “I plead with leaders of the Ijaw groups to exercise restraint in their comments on the issues affecting

President Jonathan and the leadership of the nation. “They should avoid issuing threats against perceived political opponents of the president because such extreme views do not reflect the position of President Jonathan. “The President needs votes from all sections of the country to renew his mandate in 2015 if he so wishes. The votes from the Ijaw alone cannot get him there, so I appeal to my brothers and sisters in Ijaw land and the entire Niger Delta not to stoke the embers of discord among the ethnic groups.” He enjoined the President’s top aides to always rebut divisive pronouncements by ethnic nationalists as promptly as possible, to free the President from

MOBILE clinic medical van for maternal and child care, donated by Alhaji Aliko Dangote to the Clara Oshiomhole Foundation in memory of the late First Lady of Edo State, Mrs. Clara Oshiomhole, was at the weekend inaugurated in Benin City. The special guest of honour and Managing Director, Dangote Group of Companies, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said the van was to sustain the legacy of the late Mrs. Oshiomhole. He said: “Many people are in need of medical service in the rural areas and are in support of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s programmes not only in education, but also in the health sector. To sustain the legacy of the wife, three mobile vans will be purchased in support of the foundation.” Dangote thanked Oshiomhole for the support shown to the children despite his busy schedule and urged the children of the late first lady to sustain the ideals of the foundation. Oshiomhole hailed the chairman of the foundation, Mr. Victor Eboigbe, for organising the event.

Army destroys two tankers From Osemwengie Ben Ogbemudia and Osagie Otabor, Benin

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HE Army yesterday burnt two petroleum tankers caught siphoning crude oil from a burst pipeline at Ugo on Benin/Abraka Road in Edo State. The Commander, Operation Thunder Storm, Col. Idris Lawan, supervised the burning with the Safety Department of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He said the tankers were confiscated by operatives of the Army pipeline protection, who acted on a tip-off. Lawan said owners of the tankers escaped on sighting the security team, adding that the action would act as a deterrent to others. Reiterating Army’s earlier vow to stop pipeline vandalism, he advised those in the business to desist before the long arm of the law caught up with them. Lawan said: “The tankers would not have been burnt had it been we arrested the owners. “You can see that one of the tankers was already loaded with crude oil, while the other one was confiscated while being positioned to load. “If we had caught those using the tankers to steal crude oil, we wouldn’t have burnt them. Instead we would have prosecuted the owners.” He said the Army was collaborating with other security agencies to curb pipeline vandalism in Edo State and its environs.

Senator denies ambition

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•Jonathan

such tendencies. The ANDPC leader appealed to the managers of the nation’s economy to exercise discretion in their pronouncements on the economy, particularly in the oil and gas sector.

From Nicholas Kalu, Calabar

LAWMAKER representing Cross River South, Senator Bassey Otu, at the weekend refuted speculations that he was interested in the governorship election in 2015. It is believed in political circle that Otu intends to run for the governorship poll in 2015 despite an agreement in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that Cross River North would produce the next governor. The politician, who had been out of the country for about three months due to a health problem, said he intends to return to the Senate. He told reporters in Calabar, after a reception by his supporters: “As far as I am concerned, I am not in the governorship race. I will be going back to the Senate. For me this is not the time for politics. I heard some people are campaigning for me. If I start planning to run for the governorship poll now, I will not be fair to the people because I have been in office for just over two years. It is still time for service at the Senate.” Also reacting to speculations that he was supporting a candidate from Cross River North, who is not the choice of the state PDP, he said the choice of the people is what matters to him.


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THE NATION MONDAY DECEMBER 23, 2013

NEWS

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Police parade eight suspected robbers

BIA State Police Command has paraded eight suspected armed robbers. It said it would not allow hoodlums to operate during and after the Yuletide. Speaking in Umuahia, Commissioner of Police Usman Tilli Abubakar said two men, who rob at Umuire waterside, have been arrested by his men. He said the suspects, Ikenna Chukwu, 23, of Aha village in Orlu East Local Government Area of Imo State and Ndubisi Emmanuel, 24, of Nkpa village in Afikpo

•Recover two rifles stolen from slain officers From Ugochukwu Ugoji-eke, Umuahia

Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, were arrested with three locally-made pistols, cartridges and two tricycles with registration numbers HAF 373 AQ and QR 956 MBA. Abubakar said the third suspect, Pa-Kings, escaped, adding that the police had launched a manhunt for him. He said the police also arrested three suspected robbers at Amaeke in Umuahia.

The commissioner gave two of their names as Moses Chimezie Amuchionu of Isingu Mbutu in Osisioma Local Government and Kelvin Chinedu Goodluck of Umuchi in Isiala Ngwa North Local Government. Abubakar said they were apprehended with one black Toyota Camry with registration number LSD 478 BT. He said the suspects said they stole the car in Aba. The police boss said his men recovered another Toyota Camry with number

plate DQ 231 DBU from Chibueze Friday of Ihie Umuduru in Osisioma Local Government, with one locally-made pistol, a master key and documents of snatched cars. He also paraded three other robbery suspects robbers, including Azubike Udugbor of Amuzu Olokoro, Umuahia. After interrogation, the suspect led the police to Okwu Olokoro where Chimezie Chimbo and Ugonna Ndubisi were arrested.

A locally-made double barrel shotgun and a locally-made single barrel long gun were recovered from them. Abubakar displayed three AK 47 rifles and one military rifle, which were recovered in a buried bag. “After examination, we found out that two of the AK 47 rifles were those snatched from Inspectors Jimmy John and Kingsley Etuk, who were killed on the Aba/Enugu Expressway by hoodlums.” He said the suspects would be charged to court after the investigation.

Obi: our projects were provided for

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OVERNOR Peter Obi of Anambra State has said the projects being launched by his administration were provided for. He spoke at the weekend during the launch of the laying of a beam across the Agulu Lake bridge. Obi, who hailed the level of work at the bridge and the Agulu Lake Hotel, said his government had concluded arrangement to begin the three arms zone, comprising the Government/Governor’s Lodge, legislative buildings and court buildings. He hailed the progress of work at the Onitsha and Awka shopping malls, which he said he had inspected. He assured that the building of a mall at Nnewi would soon begin. The governor said his administration would punish those who abused the drainage system and water channels at Awada Obosi and its environs. He spoke when he inspected Ezeiweka Road.

Hospitals get vehicles in Anambra From Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, Nnewi

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•Governor Obi (middle) and Commissioner for Health, Dr. Lawrence Ikeakor (third right), after presenting keys to heads of general hospitals, Dr. Ifeanyi Ezeobi (right) of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital; Dr. Uchechukwu Onyejimbe (second right) of Ekwulobia General Hospital; Dr. Benedict Ezeaguba (left) of Onitsha General Hospital; Dr. Udoka Imagie (second left) of Enugwu-Ukwu General Hospital; and Dr. Akpati Emmanuel (third left) of Amaku General Hospital, Awka. PHOTO: ODOGWU EMEKA ODOGWU

Civil war veterans get bungalows From Okodili Ndidi, Owerri

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OLDIERS, who fought on the side of Biafra during the civil war, have been given bungalows in a new settlement. The veterans, who lived in decrepit homes in an abandoned settlement at Orji River, where they begged for alms by the roadside, are now owners of new bungalows. The war veterans’ settlement, built by the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, in Okwe, Imo State, has 20 flats of detached bungalows. He said the idea was conceived to compensate the war veterans and allow them live a meaningful life. “They suffered during the civil war and it is ideal that we fend for them and their families.” Uwazuruike said besides paying them salaries and allowances running into millions of naira, the leadership of MASSOB has taken up the training of the children of the physically-challenged veterans. Hailing the initiative, the ‘Ogirishi Igbo’, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, said the war veterans, who were abandoned for long, should now be happy. He noted that a new chapter had been opened in their lives. The president of the war veterans, Lawrence Akpu, thanked MASSOB for caring for them.

Hostage pays N300,000 for freedom

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businessman, Mr. Eke Ndukwe, who was kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Aba North Local Government Area of Abia State, was freed at the weekend. The Nation learnt that the kidnappers last week abducted Ndukwe from his ash colour Toyota Highlander Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) with registration number FST 564 BG, near his home at 4, Nwaobasi Estate, Ogbor Hill, Aba. He was reportedly abandoned on Obikabia Road in Obignwa Local Government on Saturday, around 12am. A source said the victim’s vehicle, now at Ngwa High School

From Sunny Nwankwo, Aba

Army Base, was recovered on the same road. According to an unconfirmed report, the victim’s family, after negotiating with the abductors, paid N300,000 as ransom. Efforts to confirm the release of the hostage from police spokesman Geoffrey Ogbonna were unsuccessful, as his mobile line could not be reached. However, a police source confirmed Ndukwe’s release, but denied knowledge of the payment of ransom.

‘Abia PDP members can’t defect to PPA’

‘INEC disappointed Anambra people’

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Money was shared at the polling units by parties and you did nothing about it. This is against the electoral law and the offenders were not punished. Parties, which shared money at the polling booths, should be disqualified or banned for five years

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HE governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA), Mr. Okeke Chika Jerry, yesterday reviewed what happened during the governorship poll in Anambra State. He said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) disappointed the people. Speaking at a news conference in Onitsha, Okeke said: “To INEC, it is a pity that you couldn’t give the indigenes what they desired and this has saddened them. “Money was shared at the polling units by parties and you did nothing about it.

From Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, Onitsha

This is against the electoral law and the offenders were not punished. Parties, which shared money at the polling booths, should be disqualified or banned for five years. Federal Government should give INEC more teeth to bite so that any election not wellconducted should be cancelled.” The AA candidate added: “Although the election is over and the wounds are still fresh, I advise my fellow contestants to exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship by accept-

OVERNOR Peter Obi of Anambra State yesterday reiterated the readiness of his administration to support institutions, which work for the welfare of the people. He spoke when handing over the keys of four new vehicles to the heads of four general hospitals. They are located in Awka, Onitsha, Ekwulobia and Enugu-Ukwu. Obi also presented the key of a new Hilux pick-up vehicle to Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Awka. The governor, who noted that it was necessary for governments to embark on infrastructural renewal, said the gesture was in fulfilment of his earlier promise and in line with the efforts to improve the sector, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

•Jega ing the outcome of the election in good faith. If I am to speak the minds of the indigenes, I will say, ‘Ka anyi were ihe niile tara n’abali ka ha buru anwu nta. Mana ozo emezikwalaa!’ But thank God, we Anambra people are wonderful. We are good at controlling our tempers. I thank the indigenes for the maturity they displayed, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP) supporters.”

From Ugochukwu Ugoji-eke, Umuahia

HE Publicity Secretary of the Abia State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uchechi Ogbuka, has described as a ruse media reports of a purported defection of members to the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA). The alleged defection of PDP members was contained in a report, which quoted the Abia PPA state chairman Emeka Okafor, as saying that 3,000 PDP members had defected to the PPA. Ogbuka challenged the PPA chairman to mention the names of the defectors, their wards and local governments. A statement by Ogbuka in Umuahia said the purported defection of PDP members to a “non-existent PPA” was a hoax and a lie meant to score cheap political points. The PDP publicity secretary said: “Why would anybody want to leave the party, which has brought transformation to Abia State under the administration of Governor Theodore Orji and join PPA, which has been in a comatose in Abia due to the dictatorial nature and overbearing attitude of its founder?” Ogbuka noted that the impressive performance of Governor Orji would make it impossible for the party to be dislodged in future, stressing that PPA members were leaving the party to join the winning party. He said: “Abia youths today are car owners, courtesy of Governor Orji’s empowerment scheme, contrary to the shovels and wheel barrows distributed to the people by the former governor.” The PDP publicity secretary said Orji had changed the face of Abia through his transformation agenda, adding that he had also ensured security of life and property.


THE NATION MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

55

NEWS

•Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola (middle); his wife, Abimbola (second right); and others with some children cuting the cake at the end-of-year party at the State House in Alausa, Ikeja ...yesterday.

Jonathan to Obasanjo: I’m fighting corruption Continued from page 4

story also needs to be told. “The third reason why I must reply you in writing is that your letter is clearly a threat to national security as it may deliberately or inadvertently set the stage for subversion. “The fourth reason for this reply is that you raised very weighty issues, and since the letter has been made public, Nigerians are expressing legitimate concerns. A response from me therefore, becomes very necessary. “The fifth reason is that this letter may appear in biographies and other books which political commentators on Nigeria’s contemporary politics may write. It is only proper for such publications to include my comments on the issues raised in your letter. “Sixthly, you are very unique in terms of the governance of this country. You were a military Head of State for three years and eight months, and an elected President for eight years. That means you have been the Head of Government of Nigeria for about twelve years. This must have, presumably, exposed you to a lot of information. Thus when you make a statement, there is the tendency for people to take it seriously. “The seventh reason is that the timing of your letter coincided with other vicious releases. The Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke of my “body language” encouraging corruption. A letter written to me by the CBN Governor alleging that NNPC, within a period of 19 months did not remit the sum of USD49.8 billion to the federation account, was also deliberately leaked to the public. “The eighth reason is that it appears that your letter was designed to incite Nigerians from other geopolitical zones against me and also calculated to promote ethnic disharmony. Worse still, your letter was designed to instigate members of our Party, the PDP, against me. “The ninth reason is that your letter conveys to me the feeling that landmines have been laid for me. Therefore, Nigerians need to have my response to the issues raised before the mines

explode. “The tenth and final reason why my reply is inevitable is that you have written similar letters and made public comments in reference to all former Presidents and Heads of Government starting from Alhaji Shehu Shagari and these have instigated different actions and reactions. The purpose and direction of your letter is distinctly ominous, and before it is too late, my clarifications on the issues need to be placed on record.” On corruption, Jonathan said corruption did not start during his administration. He recalled that the late Afrobeat legend, Fela AnikulapoKuti and the Oziddi King, Sonny Okosun were critical of corruption under Obsanajo’s military administration in the 1970s. He also cited the cases of the $10million Halliburton scandal and Siemens scam under Obasanjo’s government between 1999 and 2004 He challenged Obasanjo to come up with evidence of high corruption he had not addressed. He said: “That corruption is an issue in Nigeria is indisputable. It has been with us for many years. You will recall that your kinsman, the renowned afro-beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti famously sang about it during your first stint as Head of State. Sonny Okosun also sang about corruption. And as you may recall, a number of Army Generals were to be retired because of corruption before the Dimka coup. “Also, the late General Murtala Mohammed himself wanted to retire some top people in his cabinet on corruption-related issues before he was assassinated. Even in this Fourth Republic, the Siemens and Halliburton scandals are well known. “The seed of corruption in this country was planted a long time ago, but we are doing all that we can to drastically reduce its debilitating effects on national development and progress. I have been strengthening the institutions established to fight corruption. I will not shield any government official or private individual involved in corruption, but I must follow due process in all that I do.

“And whenever clear cases of corruption or fraud have been established, my administration has always taken prompt action in keeping with the dictates of extant laws and procedures. “You cannot claim to be unaware of the fact that several highly placed persons in our country, including sons of some of our party leaders are currently facing trial for their involvement in the celebrated subsidy scam affair. “I can hardly be blamed if the wheels of justice still grind very slowly in our country, but we are doing our best to support and encourage the judiciary to quicken the pace of adjudication in cases of corruption.” Jonathan also said Obasanjo cannot talk of insecurity when even under his administration an attempt was made to assassinate him without being investigated. “In terms of general insecurity in the country and particularly the crisis in the Niger Delta, 2007 was one of the worst periods in our history. You will recall three incidents that happened in 2007 which seemed to have been orchestrated to achieve sinister objectives. “Here in Abuja, a petrol tanker loaded with explosives was to be rammed into the INEC building. But luckily for the country, an electric pole stopped the tanker from hitting the INEC building. It is clear that this incident was meant to exploit the general sense of insecurity in the nation at the time to achieve the aim of stopping the 2007 elections. It is instructive that you, on a number of occasions, alluded to this fact. “When that incident failed, an armed group invaded Yenagoa one evening with the intent to assassinate me. Luckily for me, they could not. They again attacked and bombed my country home on a night when I was expected in the village. Fortunately, as God would have it, I did not make the trip. “I recall that immediately after both incidents, I got calls expressing the concern of Abuja. But Baba, you know that despite the apparent concern of Abuja, no single arrest was ever made. I was then the Governor of Bayelsa State and the PDP VicePresidential candidate. The se-

curity people ordinarily should have unraveled the assassination attempt on me. “ On 2015 poll, the President faulted Obasanjo’s claim that he had sought the support of four Presidents in Africa to earn a second term ticket. “You quoted me as saying that I have not told anybody that I will seek another term in office in 2015. You and your ambitious acolytes within the party have clearly decided to act on your conclusion that “only a fool will believe that statement” and embark on a virulent campaign to harass me out of an undeclared candidature for the 2015 presidential elections so as to pave the way for a successor anointed by you. “You will recall that you serially advised me that we should refrain from discussing the 2015 general elections for now so as not to distract elected public officials from urgent task of governance. While you have apparently moved away from that position, I am still of the considered opinion that it would have been best for us to do all that is necessary to refrain from heating up the polity at this time. “Accordingly, I have already informed Nigerians that I will only speak on whether or not I will seek a second term when it is time for such declarations. Your claims about discussions I had with you, Governor Gabriel Suswam and others are

PUBLIC NOTICE CHANGE OF NAME EMMANUEL

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I, formerly known and addressed as MISS RUTH MUHAMMED, now wish to be known and addressed as MRS RUTH CHUKWU. All former documents remain valid. The general public should please take note.

ADEOJO

I, formerly known and addressed as MISS SEUN BUNMI ADEOJO, now wish to be known and addressed as MRS SEUN BUNMI AKINRINLOLA. All former documents remain valid. The general public should please take note.

wrong, but in keeping with my declared stance, I will reserve further comments until the appropriate time. “Your allegation that I asked half a dozen African Presidents to speak to you about my alleged ambition for 2015, is also untrue. I have never requested any African President to discuss with you on my behalf. In our

discussion, I mentioned to you that four Presidents told me that they were concerned about the political situation in Nigeria and intended to talk to you about it. “So far, only three of them have confirmed to me that they have had any discussion with you. If I made such a request, why would I deny it?”


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THE NATION MONDAY DECEMBER 23, 2013

FOREIGN MUSINGS

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T is no news anymore that as the countdown begins to the January 22 Syrian peace talks in Switzerland, Geneva, the major gladiators have started their sparring in the unpredictable and intriguing international waters. 32 nations have been penciled down to attend the parley, but America has insisted Iran is not welcomed to the party because of its open support for Syrian President Bashir Assad. Iran does not think so, but has said the world will not crash if Washington decides to stick to wielding the big stick, although very much unfairly, it claims. The man in charge of securing the peace in Syria, United Nations-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, is busy cooling all the frayed nerves with all the diplomatic sagacity and patience expected from a man of his experience. Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan of Ghana tried his best but had to pack his bag and leave with his six-point plan out of frustration. The coalition of fragmented rebels are still divided about participating in the talks with Free Syria Army (FSA) rejecting the talk insisting on conditionalties; including a no-role for President Assad in a post-war Syria, while the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), said it will attend. In the meantime, both sides continue the killings of their innocent people; especially women and children with death toll now well over 120,000 and both internally-displaced and refugees now over two million; largely scattered in the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iran. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) is now scampering around for fabricated, more durable structures as the raining season is around the corner making the tent structures unhealthy in a muddied environment. It is understandable why the regime will not participate in his own demise by

Global Focus DAYO FAKUADE, Foreign Editor sms 08134230367

daborgu@gmail.com

Geneva II: As the countdown begins committing political suicide while the whole efforts of the rebels since the uprising started on 15th March, 2011 is based upon a regime change. So stalemate is what you get and that is why the talks are very crucial. The tragedy in all these remains that no successful effort has been made for a cessation of hostility since both sides keep committing atrocities against their own people with the strategic objective of gaining as much ground as possible before they reach the peace talks’ table. To complicate matters are the external factors involved in the whole bloody internecine mess. The regional alliances working with both sides in the war are all trying to establish political power and hegemony in the region post-war. Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) as Director of the Military Academy in Berlin in the 19th century, sharpened the point in his three volume classics On War: “The fact that slaughter is a horrifying spectacle must make us take war more seriously, but not provide an excuse for gradually blunting our swords in the name of humanity. Sooner or later someone will come along with a sharp sword and hack off our arms.”

The notion also gave meaning to the concept of a friend of an enemy as your enemy while vice versa, an enemy of your enemy as your friend. Practical translation, if the Lebanese Hezbollah and the mullahs in Iran can team up and provide muscle, resources both tangible and intangible; to help sustain Assad in power, they will continue to benefit from the largesse that flows out of Damascus. On the other hand, if the Kurdish militias along the Turkish border in concert with other radical elements; especially those allied with alQaida-like groups can help bring down Assad and install the rebels in power, then the party has just begun for them. For the U.S, the question is simple. Once bitten, ten times shy. How does America separate the wheat from the chaff of the disparate elements that are mostly radical in terms of providing military hard ware for the rebels which can in turn be used against American forces in the future? It happened to them in Afghanistan when the Talibans were waging their war against Soviet Union. It also happened in Iran with the Shah. In any case, with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin putting his feet down against any regime change in Damascus, the

Al-Qaida in Yemen apologises for hospital attack

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N a rare public apology, the militant leader of alQaida’s branch in Yemen has said that one of his fighters disobeyed orders and attacked a hospital attached to the Defense Ministry during a December assault that killed 52 people. Qassim al-Rimi, commander of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, said in a video posted on militant websites that the attackers were warned in advance not to enter the hospital within the complex, nor a place for prayer there. But he said one fighter did. “Now we acknowledge our mistake and guilt,” alRimi said in a video released late Saturday by alQaida’s media arm alMallahem. “We offer our apology and condolences to the victims’ families. We accept full responsibility for what happened in the hos-

pital and will pay blood money for the victims’ families.” The apology seemed prompted by Yemen state television earlier broadcasting a video showing a gunman attacking doctors and other hospital staff. Several al-Qaida jihadis tried to dismiss the video as fake on militant websites, but the outcry apparently embarrassed the al-Qaida branch to the point of issuing an unusual expression of regret from the group. “We rid ourselves of what our brother did,” alRimi said. “We did not order him to do so and we are not pleased with what he did.” However, al-Rimi said despite the group making a mistake, “we are continuing with our jihad.” The authenticity of the English-subtitled video could not be absolutely

confirmed, though it was consistent with other Associated Press reporting and came from al-Qaida’s media arm. That fighter and eight other militants were killed in the Dec. 5 suicide bombing and gunmen attack on the ministry complex in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital. Seven foreigners from Germany, India, the Philippines and Vietnam were among the dead - all who were providing aid at the hospital. Al-Rimi repeated alQaida’s earlier claim that the Defense Ministry was attacked because it housed drone control rooms and American experts. He also said that security headquarters used by Americans in their war are “legitimate targets.” He also warned that fighters also will attack any other military posts and

camps that “cooperate with the American drones by spying, planting chips, providing information or offering intelligence advice.” “We have a long list of these places,” al-Rimi said. U.S. drone strikes in Yemen have inflicted heavy losses on al-Qaida militants and are part of a joint U.S.-Yemeni campaign against a group which Washington has called the most dangerous branch of the global terrorist network. But a Dec. 12 drone attack that mistook a wedding party convoy for an al-Qaida convoy, killing 15 people, has fueled anger against the United States and the government in Sanaa among a Yemeni public already opposed to the strikes. Yemen’s parliament later urged the government to end the use of Yemen’s airspace by U.S. drones.

Bulgarian president warns Cameron on immigration

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HE president of Bulgaria has issued a warning to David Cameron about his plans to toughen rules on immigration. Rosen Plevneliev told the Observer Britain’s image as a global power would be harmed if it moved towards what he described as isolation and nationalism. Restrictions on movement of Bulgarians and Romanians within the EU are due to end on 1 January. No 10 said that while free movement was a principle of the EU, it could not be a completely unqualified

one. Meanwhile, Business Secretary Vince Cable has told the BBC a possible cap of 75,000 on EU migrants would not happen. There have been warnings from some UK politicians that the UK could see an influx of migrants when the restrictions are lifted. In response, the coalition government is planning measures to make EU migrants wait three months before they are eligible for out-of-work benefits and stop them claiming housing benefit until they have a job. Business Secretary Vince

Cable says the debate over a cap on immigration to the UK is a part of the “periodic panics” over the subject. Bulgarian President Mr Plevneliev told the Observer Britain should stay true to its legacy as “a great global power that pioneered integration” and not play on people’s fears. “Isolating Britain and damaging Britain’s reputation is not the right history to write,” he said. He went on: “Bulgarian people are raising a lot of questions today about the democratic, tolerant and humane British society.”

•Cameron

He asked whether Great Britain today was “writing a history of a switch to isolation, nationalism and short-term political approaches?”. “Of course, Great Britain will make its planning and will

stage is set for diplomacy as the only way out of this quagmire. That is the nature of UN business. To take the wind out of the sail of those rooting for war against Assad, Putin was able to persuade Damascus to allow for destruction of its weapons of mass destruction; some of which were allegedly used in the 21 August assault and which claimed many lives. Of course, this was countered by the regime; claiming that the attack was the handiwork of the rebels, who he has continuously labeled as terrorists. The weapons are being destroyed at the present moment after an exhaustive inspection as mandated by the United Nations. So the back and forth continue while both sides continue to wreak havoc especially in the suburbs in their juggling for supremacy. The regime has been making some successes only to lose ground to the rebels; especially around Homs, Allepo and Deraa in the south. So as we count down to Geneva II, what are the chances for success? Even as we write, some European diplomats have started expressing concerns as to whether the talks will even take place or at best postponed due to lack of consensus on the list of countries to be at the table. What if some members of the coalition as they have threatened refused to attend? What will be the legitimacy of the outcome of the talks? So, the stakes are high and the international community needs to do whatever it can do to ensure success. This war has taken too long and the toll too heavy in its more than two years. The conditions of the refugees living as what the Algerian psychiatrist and revolutionary, Frantz Fanon, called the wretched of the earth, aptly describe the lot of these two million people. Even, their host countries are already complaining about the daunting challenges with which they are faced on a daily basis with budgetary constraints, security issues as well as logistic problems they are forced to deal with by international conventions.

Raul Castro calls for ‘civilised relations’ with U.S.

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UBAN President Raul Castro has called for “civilized relations” with the United States, saying the two countries should respect their differences. President Castro said the US should drop its demand for regime change on the communist-run island. with Obama at Mandela’s That would allow •Castro burial both sides to continue work on improving relations, he said. Mr Castro’s comments follow a public handshake with President Obama at the memorial ceremony for Nelson Mandela in South Africa earlier this month. In a rare public speech, Mr Castro said Cuban and American officials had met several times over the last year to discuss practical matters, such as immigration and the re-establishment of a postal service. That shows that relations can be civilized, Mr Castro explained. But he warned: “If we really want to make progress in bilateral relations, we have to learn to respect each other’s differences and get used to living peacefully with them. Otherwise, no. We are ready for another 55 years like the last.” The US broke off relations with Cuba in 1961 after the revolution and maintains an economic embargo against the island. Relations between the two neighbours have shown signs of improvement of late, although some stumbling blocks to reconciliation remain. Raul Castro, 82, took over from his brother, Fidel, in 2006. Fidel had serious health problems and was never able to come back to power. Two years later, he resigned and transferred control permanently to Raul Castro. He has since carried out a programme of economic reforms, which has helped efforts for relations with the US to be improved. But critics say the pace of change has been too slow.

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Egypt jails three activists

HREE prominent Egyptian activists from the 2011 uprising that led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak have been sentenced to three years in jail. Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel were found guilty of organising a recent unauthorized protest. The three are key members of the 6 April Youth Movement that led protests to remove long-time President Mubarak. They were arrested after protesting in November over a new law that restricts demonstrations. The protesters complained that the law in effect replaced a recentlyexpired state of emergency, and was stricter than the measures in place during the rule of Hosni Mubarak. The court in Cairo found them guilty of holding a demonstration without authorization and attacking police officers. As well as the jail sentence, they were ordered to pay a $7,000 (£4,000) fine each.


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FOREIGN NEWS

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Bombs injure 27 in southern Thailand

HREE bombs exploded Sunday in southern Thailand, injuring more than two dozen people in what appeared to be an attack by Islamic insurgents, authorities said. Songkhla’s provincial governor told state-run NBT television that 27 people were hurt, four seriously, in the bombings. Police said a car bomb outside a hotel in Songkhla caused the most damage. Two other bombs concealed on motorcycles exploded outside two police stations, they said. More than 5,000 people have been killed in predominantly Buddhist Thailand’s three Muslimdominated southernmost provinces since an Islamic insurgency erupted in 2004.

Kenya train crashes into homes in Nairobi

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Pilot ‘crashed’ Mozambique plane

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•Thai anti government protesters pull barricades during a rally outside the house of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in Bangkok...yesterday. PHOTO: AFP

UN mission in S.Sudan evacuates staff

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EVERAL people have been injured after a freight train crashed into homes in the sprawling Nairobi slum of Kibera, reports from Kenya say. The train derailed while passing through the slum one of Africa’s largest - on its way to Uganda. Kenya’s Red Cross has tweeted to say scores of people are feared trapped in their damaged homes. Journalists at the scene said residents were angry at the slow pace of the rescue effort. Isaac Ongiri from the Daily Nation newspaper said police were trying to find a way of getting rescue equipment into place to help reach the trapped people. But he said the area was heavily-populated and hard to get to.

HE United Nations Mission in South Sudan says it is relocating all non-critical staff from the capital, Juba, to Uganda amid escalating violence as the country’s military battles rebel forces. The mission said in a Twitter update yesterday that all remaining civilian staff in Bor — the Jonglei state capital that has been the scene of fierce fighting —had been evacuated to Juba. On Saturday gunfire hit three U.S. military aircraft trying to evacuate American citizens in Bor, wounding four U.S. service members in the same region gunfire downed a U.N. helicopter on Friday. The latest violence in the world’s newest country has

Continued from page 3

three years, Nigeria has emerged as the preferred destination for investments in Africa, driven by successful government policies to attract foreign investors. For the second year running, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Investments (UNCTAD) has ranked Nigeria as the number one destination for investments in Africa, and as having the fourth highest returns in the world. Today, Nigeria is holding 18 percent of all foreign investments in Africa and 60 percent of all foreign investments in the ECOWAS SubRegion. Kindly note also that in the seven years between 2000 and 2007 when you were President, Nigeria attracted a total of $24.9 Billion in FDI. As a result of our efforts which you disparage, the country has seen an FDI inflow of $25.7 Billion in just three years which is more than double the FDI that has gone to the second highest African destination. We have also maintained an annual national economic growth rate of close to seven per cent since the inception of this administration. What then, is

•As rebels claim ‘control of key state’

killed hundreds and has world leaders concerned about war. The U.N. chief yesterday urged South Sudan’s leaders “to do everything in their power” to stop the violence. South Sudan: Rebel troops ‘controls key state’ Meanwhiloe, former South Sudan Vice-President Riek Machar has said rebel troops have captured the key oil-producing state of Unity and control much of the country. Mr Machar also confirmed to the BBC that the forces fighting the government were under his command. The country has been in turmoil since President Salva

Kiir accused Mr Machar a week ago of attempting a coup. At least 500 people have been killed since the fighting began with the government struggling to keep control of the capital, Juba. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on both men to “find a political way out of this crisis”. “I demand that all political, military and militia leaders stop hostilities and end the violence against the civilians,” he said. “I call on them to do everything in their power to ensure that their followers hear their message loud and clear.” Mr Machar’s comments

to the BBC came as four US service personnel involved in evacuating US citizens were wounded when their aircraft were shot at in Bor, the capital of eastern Jonglei state. South Sudan has been going through difficult times of recent, a situation which has made President Barack Obama call for caution. He advised political leaders to settle their differences amicably. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has also made similar call for peace, which have gone unheaded, forcing the UN to evacuate its staff to further harm coming to them in the violenceprone nation.

HE pilot of a Mozambican airliner that crashed in Namibia last month deliberately brought the plane down, aviation experts in Mozambique believe. Mozambican Airlines flight TM470 left the capital Maputo bound for Angola on 29 November, but crashed, killing all 33 people all board. The Civil Aviation Institute said the pilot made a “deliberate series of manoeuvres” causing the crash. The pilot’s motives are unknown, and the investigation is continuing. The plane went down in heavy rain in Namibia’s Bwabwata National Park. The burnt wreckage of a Mozambican Airlines plane at the site of its crash in Namibia”s Bwabwata National Park There was a ‘clear intention’ to crash, investigators say. But the head of the Civil Aviation Institute, Joao Abreu, told a news conference that the pilot, Hermino dos Santos Fernandes, had a “clear intention” to crash. Dos Santos Fernandes locked himself in the cockpit, and did not allow his co-pilot back inside until moments before the plane hit the ground, Mr Abreu said. “During these actions you can hear low and high-intensity alarm signals and repeated beating against the door with demands to come into the cockpit,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency AIM. “The reasons which may have given rise to this behaviour are unknown.” Investigations also showed that Dos Santos Fernandes manually changed the aircraft’s altitude three times from 11,500 metres (38,000 feet) to 180 metres (592 feet) below ground level.

Jonathan to Obasanjo: you’ve done me grave injustice

that four Presidents told me that they were concerned about the political situation in Nigeria and intended to talk to you about it. So far, only three of them have confirmed to me that they have had any discussion with you. If I made such a request, why would I deny it? The issue of Buruji Kashamu is one of those lies that should not be associated with a former President. The allegation that I am imposing Kashamu on the South-West is most unfortunate and regrettable. I do not even impose Party officials in my home state of Bayelsa and there is no zone in this country where I have imposed officials. So why would I do so in the South West? Baba, in the light of Buruji’s detailed public response to your “open letter”, it will be charitable for you to render an apology to Nigerians and I. On the issue of investors being scared to come to Nigeria, economic dormancy, and stagnation, I will just refer you to FDI statistics from 2000 to 2013. Within the last

the justification for your allegation of scared investors and economic dormancy? Although it was not emphasized in your letter of December 2, 2013, you also conveyed, in previous correspondence, the impression that you were ignorant of the very notable achievements of my administration in the area of foreign relations. It is on record that under my leadership, Nigeria has played a key role in resolving the conflicts in Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea Bissau and others. The unproductive rivalry that existed between Nigeria and some ECOWAS countries has also been ended under my watch and Nigeria now has better relations with all the ECOWAS countries. At the African Union, we now have a Commissioner at the AU Commission after being without one for so long. We were in the United Nations Security Council for the 2010/2011 Session and we have been voted in again for the 2014/2015 Session. From independence to 2010, we were in the U.N. Security Council only three times but from 2010 to 2015, we will be

there two times. This did not happen by chance. My Administration worked hard for it and we continue to maintain the best possible relations with all centres of global political and economic power. I find it hard therefore, to believe your assertions of untoward concern in the international community over the state of governance in Nigeria With respect to the Brass and Olokola LNG projects, you may have forgotten that though you started these projects, Final Investment Decisions were never reached. For your information, NNPC has not withdrawn from either the Olokola or the Brass LNG projects. On the Rivers State Water Project, you were misled by your informant. The Federal Government under my watch has never directed or instructed the Africa Development Bank to put on hold any project to be executed in Rivers state or any other State within the Federation. The Rivers Water Project was not originally in the borrowing plan but it was included in April 2013 and appraised

in May. Negotiations are ongoing with the AfDB. I have no doubt that you are familiar with the entire process that prefaces the signing of a Subsidiary Loan Agreement as in this instance. Let me assure you and all Nigerians that I do not engage in negative political actions and will never, as President, oppress the people of a state or deprive them of much needed public services as a result of political disagreement I have noted your comments on the proposed National Conference. Contrary to the insinuation in your letter, the proposed conference is aimed at bringing Nigerians together to resolve contentious national issues in a formal setting. This is a sure way of promoting greater national consensus and unity, and not a recipe for “disunity, confusion and chaos” as you alleged in your letter. Having twice held the high office of President, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I trust that you will understand that I cannot possibly find the

time to offer a line-by-line response to all the accusations and allegations made in your letter while dealing with other pressing demands of office and more urgent affairs of state. I have tried, however, to respond to only the most serious of the charges which question my sincerity, personal honour, and commitment to the oath which I have sworn, to always uphold and protect the interests of all Nigerians, and promote their well-being. In closing, let me state that you have done me grave injustice with your public letter in which you wrongfully accused me of deceit, deception, dishonesty, incompetence, clannishness, divisiveness and insincerity, amongst other ills. I have not, myself, ever claimed to be all-knowing or infallible, but I have never taken Nigeria or Nigerians for granted as you implied, and I will continue to do my utmost to steer our ship of state towards the brighter future to which we all aspire. Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration and warm regards.


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PREMIERSHIP

SPORT EXTRA

Suarez is the best player in the Premier League—Lucas

van Persie progressing T well, says Moyes

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ANCHESTER UNITED manager David Moyes has delivered a positive update on Robin van Persie’s bid to return from injury. The Premier League’s top scorer for the past two seasons was ruled out for a month on December 13 after picking up a thigh strain. However, Moyes has now hinted the Dutchman could make his comeback ahead of schedule, although Van Persie is unlikely to feature in Thursday’s match at Hull City. “Robin is progressing, he’s coming on, and he is feeling quite good,” Moyes told United’s official website. “He had a similar injury at (former club) Arsenal on his thigh, so it is something we have to be sure about (before he returns). “It wouldn’t be much good

•Van Persie

Adebayor delighted with support of team-mates

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MMANUEL Adebayor praised the support of his team-mates after the 3-2 win at Southampton. The Tottenham striker made his first Premier League start of the season and rewarded his manager with two goals. Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Adebayor spoke highly of his colleagues. Adebayor said: “I want to thank all my team-mates, they have been there for me, they tell me to keep working hard and my chance will come. “To be here today I am very pleased, not just the goals but for the team and I am very

happy for the new manager, the fans. They have been supporting me.” The 29-year-old also revealed words of encouragement from Tim Sherwood had given him the boost he needed to be successful, in light of some difficult family circumstances. Adebayor added: “He (Sherwood) told me ‘Emmanuel, I know you for a long time’ and he was with Harry, he told me ‘I need you, get out there, play your football, I will not tell you anything, you have been around the block, Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid’,

you know how to play. “For me, that was big confidence, the new manager telling me that, and I am very happy for him. “Not only a few months but 2010, 2012, my brother passed away, it was emotionally difficult, he was my senior brother, for me, it’s for him. “He left a son behind. I want to take care of him and his family. I went to the funeral and when I came back I lost my place in the team. “I kept doing my job and as my father told me ‘keep working hard’. Today it paid off and I am very happy.”

if it got repeated, so we will try to take it steady. Asked whether the Hull game would come too soon for the striker, Moyes replied: “I think it probably will be. “Obviously the medical team are controlling him, but we speak to Robin as well about how he feels and what he feels he needs to do. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure he’s well looked after and well treated.”

HE free-scoring Uruguayan has been irresistible this season netting 19 times in firing the Reds to the top of the table. And his fine form was rewarded with a bumper new deal which will see him earn an eye-watering £225,000per-week. But fellow South American Lucas insists Suarez has earned his bumper new pay rise with his displays since signing at Anfield in the January of 2011. “What he is doing this season and what he has done in the past few seasons he deserved that,” he said. “We can see he is really comfortably playing here. “It (the contract) is a positive message because the owners

Malky Mackay: Cardiff boss is spared sack for now

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ARDIFF owner Vincent Tan has lifted his threat to sack manager Malky Mackay and the pair will hold talks in an attempt to salvage their relationship. Tan sent Mackay an email last Monday telling him to resign or be sacked. But with the 41-year-old Scot refusing to walk away voluntarily, Tan is now prepared for a possible reconciliation. “I have spoken to Vincent Tan and he has agreed I can go into bat to try to bring a solution to this situation” When asked if the ultimatum had been withdrawn, Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman said: “For the time being, yes. The crisis for the time being is over.” He added that Mackay was is “in charge for the foreseeable future and will be until something else

happens”. He also issued a message to Cardiff supporters, urging them not to protest against Tan at Thursday’s home game with Southampton. Tan flew from Malaysia to London on Friday with the intention of dismissing Mackay, who has been in charge of the Bluebirds since June 2011, but the 61-year-old businessman agreed to a final meeting with Dalman to discuss the situation. Those talks went on into the early hours of Saturday. Tan was still undecided about Mackay’s future following the 3-1 Premier League defeat at Liverpool later that day, during which the Cardiff fans expressed support for the manager and disapproval of the owner. But Tan has now chosen to delay any judgment until further negotiations have taken place.

and manager said they want to keep their best players and at the moment he is not only our best player but the best player in the league. “Hopefully he will maintain this form for a long time for the club.” If Arsenal fail to beat Chelsea on Monday night Brendan Rodgers’ side will be top at Christmas, but the 26-year-old is refusing to get too carried away. “We are top of the league until Monday. It is good to be there, it gives you a lot of confidence,” he told LFC TV. “We just go game by game. We know our main target is to play Champions League again and every week we are improving. “If we keep the same mentality playing as a team I think we will have a good season and a positive one. “We go into the next two games knowing they are crucial but with a lot of confidence, especially after winning four games in a row.”

•Suarez

LEAGUE TRANSFER...LEAGUE TRANSFER...LEAGUE TRANSFER...LEAGUE TRANSFER... Bruce keeps eye on West Brom’s Shane Long

Ba rejects talk of Arsenal switch D

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TEVE Bruce admits he would love to sign Shane Long for Hull if West Brom make him available in the transfer window. Long appeared set to make the switch to Humberside in the summer, after Albion signed Nicolas Anelka, Stephane Sessegnon and Victor Anichebe. Talks took place, but a deal failed to materialise and Bruce has indicated he may well try again in January to sign the Republic of Ireland international, who started up front in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Hull City. The Baggies are currently without a manager after sacking Steve Clarke following the 1-0 defeat to Cardiff, with Keith Downing in charge in a caretaker capacity until Clarke’s successor is appointed.

•Long

•Demba ba

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EMBA Ba has played down suggestions he could move from Chelsea to Arsenal in the January transfer window. The Senegalese striker has started just two Premier League games this season, with Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o often preferred by Jose Mourinho. Reports have linked Ba with a switch to the Emirates Stadium, but he insists he is staying put. “People talk a lot about me joining Arsenal. But there has never been an approach from

them,” Ba told The Sun on Sunday. “There is nothing going on in this regard. Things are OK for me at the moment. “It’s working, as the situation is turning around for me here bit by bit. You just need a bit of time to adapt when you change clubs. “I’ve been in a process of adaptation while moving between West Ham, Newcastle and Chelsea. “But as soon as I’m given the chance to prove myself, I take it. So the fact that I’ve often been on the substitutes’ bench is nothing serious.

Baines not for sale, restates Martinez

OBERTO Martinez has reiterated Everton’s desire to keep hold of England left-back Leighton Baines. Baines was the subject of a rejected bid from Manchester United during the close season. With the January transfer window approaching, the 29year-old’s future is set to come under scrutiny again. However, Martinez insists Everton do not need to sell. The Spaniard told the Sunday Mirror: “If I want a player I need to match the

valuation to then put the other club and the player in a situation to make a decision. “We have never been in a situation where the valuation has been matched with Leighton. “We don’t want to sell Leighton. When you are in a position when you have to bring money then you are relying on what you can sell. We are not in that position. “As a club we don’t need the money. We don’t need to balance the books and that is a situation we wanted to have – to make football decisions,

not financial decisions. “We’re not in talks with him about a deal. We don’t have to say it publicly but nobody is for sale.” Martinez, who succeeded current United boss David Moyes at Goodison Park, has been hailed by midfielder Steven Pienaar for placing trust in Everton’s players. Everton sit fifth in the Premier League having lost just once this season, and Pienaar is delighted to see Martinez’s style of play reaping rewards. “This season we’ve been

more patient. His (Martinez’s) philosophy is if you keep the ball, you’re not going to work as hard as the other team,” said the South African.

•Baines

•Valbuena

Valbuena hints at summer exit

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A R S E I L L E midfielder Mathieu Valbuena has suggested that he could leave the club at the end of the current campaign.The 29year-old has spent last seven and a half years at Stade Velodrome having joined from Libourne, but his long relationship with the French giants seems to be coming to an end.Valbuena has revealed that he plans to finish the season with Marseille, but he is likely to leave OM after the 2014 World Cup.”My goal is to make a great second half of the season at the club and make a great World Cup,” the midfielder told French news channel BFM TV.”It’s been eight years since I have arrived at OM. It’s been no secret that the experience abroad has been tempting to me.


WHO SAID WHAT

MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013 TRUTH IN DEFENCE OF FREEDOM

VOL 8 NO 2,706

‘We are determined to prove the sceptics wrong that we can conduct peaceful and hitch-free election... because our resolve is geared towards restoring hope and confidence in local governance’

C OMMENT & D EB ATE EBA

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NYTIME I contemplate the crisis in Rivers State, I inescapably see the impish finger of love. In the miniature crisis of that oil-rich state, I see the vaster arc of the story of love not only in our history but the history of the world. A nation is nothing without the roles of its romances, especially among its political and military elite. The bedroom, in its sultry and solitary silences of moaning and pillow talks, determines the public square whether it is a matter of poverty and wealth, war and peace, gods and bigotry. From the martial age of the gladiators to the digital ardour of the computer, we are bound by love. But this is not always sweet savour. Love stories, in their best, can be tragedies. Perhaps that is why poet Geoffrey Chaucer crooned: “who is so foolish as a man in love?” Shakespeare calls it “wolvish-ravening lamb” in the saddest of all love stories, Romeo and Juliet. In all our history, we see love stories if we peer deeper. We just witnessed the death of a failed romance with the passing of Nelson Mandela. The Madiba, who conquered the great army of prejudice and cruised into a history as a star among the pantheons, could not conquer the very person who kept his spirit alive in 27 years of captivity: Winnie, his love. He came out, emboldened a race to freedom, taught a world the power of forgiveness, tore down walls of hate and fear, but it was sad to read his confession a few years after Robben Island that Winnie never spent a night in his bedroom. Yet, before he died, he did not blame the woman he divorced. They were physically apart, but he never knew the joy of life the way other men embraced it. His romance, purely political, belonged to the world and it had no blood or flesh in its content. Not that the love for Winnie was all sexual. He might have surmounted that. But its content was more vigorous, ineluctable and infinite. He could not grasp it with all the might of a lion that had become the Madiba. So it is with all Nigerian stories. If Dame Jonathan did not have roots in Rivers State, and has not exhibited a proprietary attachment to Okrika, maybe Jonathan would not have fought so hard against the spirited Governor Rotimi Amaechi. Maybe if President Goodluck did not love his wife so much, he might not have allowed the gangster rage in the state. Also, some say maybe Timipre Sylva will be governor of his home state Bayelsa today, if Dame Jonathan did not show so much umbrage against the man. We have seen Dame Jonathan speak with so coarse and authoritarian a pitch that few persons with an office backed by the constitution can. But with whose backing has she carried such reckless men as Wike and Bipi, if not with the understanding connivance of the man at the top? Take way the romance between them and peace will probably have found a way. Probably.

RIPPLES COURT UPHOLDS DEATH SENTENCE ON TRIO FOR STEALING N50,000–News

Haba! What about OIL THIEVES?

SAM OMATSEYE

IN TOUCH

intouchnation@gmail.com 08054501081(sms only)

A love note for Christmas

•The late Mandela

We cannot even forget that the name Nigeria was borne out of the romance between Flora Shaw and the first governor general of Nigeria, Lord Lugard. The lady, a fierce and influential columnist with The Times of London, suggested the name. That might not have happened in the board room of colonial power if she did not share the bedroom with the helmsman of the protectorates that became Nigeria. We have read so much of the Nigeria civil war, and all we encounter are the gory passages of blood, bullets, ogbunigwe, hate and all the fierce follies of human ogre. Yet we can say that it all began with the crisis of the Western Region that pitted the grand, rimmedspectacled Awo with the barb-tongued wit known as Akintola. While historians have besotted their tales with the ideological and ego dimensions of the male hubris, they leave aside the juicy interstices of romance. Few have documented the role of Faderera Akintola in prodding the premier to defy the party leader, Awolowo. Many stories have

made the legend, including the one when she yanked the phone from her husband and spoke defiantly to Awolowo. She announced to the sage that they were in charge of the region and he should not hand orders to the premier her husband. We know the Western Region crisis, with its ensuing state of emergency, snowballed to a national crisis. That propelled the five majors’ coup with its ethnic reverberation and its inexorable push into our war of brothers. Further back into history, was it not the love of Bayajida, the eponymous northern figure, that birthed some of the major cities of the North, like Kano, Kaduna, Zaria, etc., the Hausa Bakwai and Banza Bakwai. One man’s romance sired a race. When IBB was head of state, he created Delta State as a homage to his beautiful wife, Mariam. Even though Warri was a natural choice for capital, he chose his wife’s hometown Asaba. Interestingly, as narrated in Emma Okocha’s book, Blood on the Niger, Mariam’s father was killed by the federal troops in the pogrom of Igbo in the Midwest. IBB reportedly met her in those days. If not for that romance, the role of first ladies may not have been elevated to what it is today with some doing well and others turning it into a platform for Jezebel’s acts. Major Debo Bashorun’s recent book, Honour For Sale, unearths how the first lady wielded powers that the husband in all his military majesty could not rein in. And it is not in Nigeria alone that we have witnessed this as Mandela’s tale proves. Winston Churchill exploited his mother’s American roots to persuade the United States to help it out of the enveloping genius of Hitler’s army in the Second World War. “I

HARDBALL

W

HAT will President Goodluck Jonathan do with the report of the controversial 13-member Presidential Advisory Committee on the National Conference headed by Dr. Femi Okurounmu? The delivery of the document to Jonathan on December 18 opened a fresh chapter in the country’s chequered quest for nationhood, and there is a palpable social anxiety over the unfolding of subsequent related events. Interestingly, while receiving the report from Okurounmu whose committee worked within a specified six-week period, Jonathan provided a clue to the future, saying, “ I have directed the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance to make adequate financial provisions, so that the conference will take off immediately we enter next year.” However, it is curious that Jonathan appeared to have started preparation for the process supposedly without knowing the contents of the very report designed to guide him. This oddity was reinforced by his uneasy hint that he was intimidated by the sheer size of the report, as if he had expected a far less voluminous package. With surprising candour, he declared: “The committee has presented a document with volumes that are quite frightening.” Why was he terrified? Amusing, isn’t it? It was perhaps foreseeable that the business of welding together a

Jonathan’s New Year agenda federation as complicated as Nigeria, with its plurality of rival ethnicities and consequent implications, would yield extensive, if not comprehensive, contributions from a deep diversity of interest units and stakeholders. So if Jonathan had anticipated that it would be a joy ride, he is obviously better informed now. Nevertheless, advocates of dissolution may wish to take their cue from Jonathan’s revealing words. He disclosed, “ I was told that majority of Nigerians , who participated in the interactive session you conducted in 13 major cities across the country, agreed with our commitment to an indissoluble, united and stronger Nigeria. I understand, however, that one person demanded an outright dissolution of our federalist structure.” With this expression, Jonathan cannot escape the charge of jumping the gun. There can be no doubt that he took advantage of the occasion to set an agenda. He should have played the honourable role of a gentleman by waiting for the proposed talks to clarify issues. Isn’t that what the so-called National Conference is about? It was, therefore, a self-contradiction when

IBRAHIM GAIDAM

have a latch key to the American heart,” growled Churchill. In that same war, the British royalty suffered a moral setback when one of their own, King Edward, confessed to Nazism and was forced to abdicate his throne. We cannot forget as well that we might not have the Anglican Church today if King Henry did not want to divorce his wife for a Boleyn sister. England had to cut away from Rome, and all the stories of heroes and villains of that era with Thomas More, Cardinal Wolsey, etc., would not have happened. Plays like the Bolt’s A Man for all Seasons and the recent Booker Prize winning series by Hilary Mantel show how love stories never die. Mantel’s latest release, Bring Up the Bones, has come across as one of the best novels in recent times. Paris bred its own warm narrative with emperor Napoleon and his wife Josephine. Everyone except Napoleon thought she was beautiful, and he changed policies for her and even crowned her an empress. In a multi-ethnic state like Nigeria, this tale is even more potent. The President, a Bayelsan, is married to a Riverian, and we see its consequence. It shows that love knows no boundary, and if it can help solder different peoples and states, it can also breed soldiers of hate. It is an asset we can use. If we look across the country today, a number of governors have such interconnected romances, either directly or not. Governor Suswam of Benue State has boasted about his Yoruba wife. Rotimi Amaechi has shown that his wife is from across the Niger. The ebullient Godswill Akpabio often reminds all that his wife is from Enugu State. The governor of example, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, has often spoken of his wife’s Urhobo connection and an Igbo nephew. The urbane Delta State Governor Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan is Itsekiri with strong Edo and Urhobo pedigrees. Asiwaju Tinubu’s wife, Senator Remi Tinubu, is Itsekiri and Sylva’s wife Alayingi hails from Ibibio. Tatalo Alamu explained that part of Akintola so-called quisling attidue may come from a romance of his parents to have northern blood. So the western crisis may have partial roots in romances between the families of those who went to war. All these are products of romances in quiet disinterested pasts. That is why all those who champion ethnic causes in this country should note that when they birth a boy or girl they are not sure whether they will be a Suswam with a Yoruba wife, or an Akintola with roots that reach far into the north. A child born is a gift to the world, and you cannot guarantee what winds of romance will catch them. This is a love not, readers, for the Yuletide. Merry Christmas.

•Hardball is not the opinion of the columnist featured above the same Jonathan said, “I have no personal interest in this conference. I will allow the will of Nigerians to prevail.” However, it was reassuring that he recognised the historic dimension of the project, saying, “The world is watching us and whatever we do will be transparent.” It is intriguing that, on his part, Okunrounmu was keen on stressing a supposed unanimity of minds on the committee, which may not necessarily be the case. His words: “I say emphatically that we have no minority report.” The import of his emphasis may be to back Jonathan’s allegation of majority endorsement of an unfragmented country. With Jonathan’s specification of an early 2014 date for takeoff of the talks, it would be interesting to see how such timing will work, particularly in the build up to the all-important 2015 general elections and his yet-to- be-confirmed second-term dream. Certainly, there are dense clouds on the horizon. How fast can the confab be held and concluded? What will be the consequences for the political election calendar? Prophecies of doom emanating from certain unbelieving quarters surely have vigilance value that should not be discounted. Jonathan’s agenda has provided greater reasons for reflection on the country’s politics as the New Year approaches. The spectre of annus horribilis is disturbingly concrete. The last word, pregnant with infinite interpretation, must go to Okurounmu, who reportedly said of Jonathan, “What he does with the report is left to him.”

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Dec 23, 2013