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NNPC Report: PPMC Recorded N102 Billion Loss in 2017 Chineme Okafor in Abuja An analysis of the December 2017 edition of the monthly operations and financial reports of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation

(NNPC) has revealed that Products and Pipelines Marketing Company (PPMC) exceeded the projected loss in its year-to-date (YTD) operations by about 240.1 per cent. THISDAY analysis of the latest NNPC report

showed that while PPMC, the downstream petroleum subsidiary of the corporation, only expected to make a loss of N30.144 billion in 2017, it eventually made a loss of N102.527 billion, thus translating to about 240.1 per cent increase between

the budgeted and actual loss expectations of the downstream company. According to a section of the report, which showed the group financial performances of all NNPC subsidiaries, even the Nigerian Petroleum Development

Company (NPDC), the upstream subsidiaries of the corporation, and Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) could not keep to their budgeted expenditure marks, as they both spent more money than they planned to in their YTD operations.

For instance, the report noted that the NPDC, which appeared to have increased its revenue as a result of the restoration of production after the Forcados pipeline outages in 2016 and first Cosntinued on page 8

See Report and Images from THISDAY Health Summit on Pages 70-74 Sunday 11 March, 2018 Vol 23. No 8361 TR


& RE A S O



Ahead of Buhari's Visit, Obasanjo Makes Whistle-stop in Benue Lays wreath at mass burial site, commends Ortom’s grazing law Tobi Soniyi in Lagos, Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja and George Okoh in Makurdi Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, made a

brief stop in Makurdi, Benue State, where he visited the burial site of the 73 victims of the New Year attacks by herdsmen and also laid a wreath in honour of the dead.

Obasanjo’s visit to Benue came two days before the scheduled arrival of President Muhammadu Buhari in the North Central state which has been a theater of killings by

President to arrive Makurdi on Monday

herdsmen. President Buhari is billed to visit Benue Monday as part of his scheduled visits to troubled states of Benue, Yobe, Zamfara and Rivers. The former president’s visit to the

grave site of the victims of herdsmen attack, who were given mass burial, is seen as symbolic, because Abuja had opposed the conduct of a mass burial for the victims

of the attack. On his arrival at the state capital yesterday, Obasanjo, was received by Governor Samuel Ortom at the Makurdi Cosntinued on page 8

APC, PDP Renew Tirade of Accusations over Dapchi, Chibok Accuse each other of using kidnapped schoolgirls as pawns in game of power

DHQ: Multinational taskforce involved in search for girls

Senator Iroegbu and Paul Obi in Abuja The ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party yesterday exchanged angry criticisms over the 2014 kidnapping of schoolgirls in Chibok by Boko Haram terrorists and the similar incident that took place in Dapchi last month. Each accused the other of using the captured girls as campaign tool, a pawn in the game of politics. PDP accused the ruling party of unwillingness to acknowledge the security lapses that resulted in the recent abductions and playing politics with the fate of the girls. But it drew a swift rebuttal from APC that equally blamed PDP, which was in power in 2014, for dillydallying with politics while the terrorists consolidated their hold on the Chibok schoolgirls. APC had claimed that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration responded rapidly to the Cosntinued on page 8

MARITAL BLISS ... L-R: Bride's father, Kano State Governor Umaru Ganduje; groom's mother, Chief Florence Ajimobi; bride, Fateemah; groom, Idris; wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari; bride's mother, Hajia Hafsat Ganduje; and groom's father, Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi, at the wedding reception of Ajimobi’s son and Ganduje’s daughter in Ibadan...yesterday


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T H I S D AY ˾ SUNDAY MARCH 11, 2018



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 ͚͚˜ͺ͸͚΀ËžT H I S DAY, T H E S U N DAY N E W S PA P E R

PAGE EIGHT APC, PDP RENEW TIRADE OF ACCUSATIONS OVER DAPCHI, CHIBOK February 19 kidnapping of 110 schoolgirls by Boko Haram from Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State. It said that was unlike the April 14, 2014 abduction of 276 schoolgirls from Government Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State, when the then PDP government of former President Goodluck Jonathan busied itself with politicking and denial, leaving ample room for the terrorists to hide away the girls. Buhari had also declared in a statement on February 23, four days after the Dapchi abductions, that when he learnt about the incident, he “immediately dispatched a high-level delegation on a fact-finding visit to the town. I also instructed the security agencies to deploy in full and not spare any effort to ensure that all the girls are returned safely, and the attackers arrested and made to face justice.� The president likewise stated, “Our government is sending more troops and surveillance aircraft to keep an eye on all movements in the entire territory on a 24-hour basis, in the hope that all the missing girls will be found.� But reacting to the claims

by the ruling party and the government, PDP said APC was being dishonest about the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the Dapchi girls. PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, told THISDAY yesterday, “You and I know that they did not respond (to Dapchi incident) immediately. They were even in denial initially. But the issue now is that they have not given a response to our question on why troops were withdrawn before the attacks took place. “They have not given a response that is satisfactory to the majority of Nigerians. And as a matter of fact, the question about the withdrawal of troops before the abduction of the girls does not in any way relate to the alleged PDP non-responsiveness to the demands of the Chibok girls.� Ologbondiyan said further regarding APC, “Have they not taken responsibility of governance since 2015 and how many of these Chibok girls have they rescued? Why are they playing politics with the lives of our daughters? Why are they playing politics with the lives of Nigerians? Was that the promise they

made to Nigerians in 2015?� Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, an erstwhile APC member who returned to PDP on December 3 last year after helping to form APC, also spoke in a similar vein in an interview with THISDAY published yesterday. Atiku accused APC, which was in opposition when Chibok abduction happened, of exploiting the kidnapping for their own political advantage and undermining the efforts of the then PDP government to resolve the incident. He said the APC government’s carelessness was responsible for the seizure of the Dapchi schoolgirls. Atiku said, “Let me paraphrase Oscar Wilde and say that to lose one set of girls to Boko Haram may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose another set looks like carelessness. As an opposition party, the APC was vocal to the point of exploiting the issue of the Chibok girls’ kidnapping. “They criticised that (Jonathan) government every step of the way and some may even claim that they undermined the then government’s efforts at

resolving that unfortunate incident. So, it is rather surprising that a set of people who were so unsparing in their critique of the previous government would be in a situation whereby they have allowed these same terrorists to kidnap 110 girls.� The former vice president also said, “We already know that Boko Haram has an agenda to cripple Western education in Nigeria. So, how could we have left those schools unguarded?� However, National Secretary of APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, described Atiku’s allegations as unfounded, saying, instead, it is the PDP government of Jonathan that played politics with the misfortune of the Chibok schoolgirls. Abdullahi said concerning the kidnappings, “I don’t know about APC playing politics with the lives of the Chiboks girls because this is simply not true. Two, the fact that Dapchi girls’ kidnap incident happened was an embarrassment to all Nigerians, but the difference between the two is in the reaction of the government.

“Remember that when the Chibok incident happened, the PDP government of then were in denial. It took them over two weeks to even admit that something happened. But look at how this government responded with immediate effect, sending delegation, security chiefs and setting up an investigative committee. “So if you are looking for the party that is playing politics with lives of the girls, which is a matter of national security that affects all, Atiku should look towards PDP that was busy blaming the Borno State governor, Shettima, and the APC instead of rescuing the Chibok girls. Or he means that for setting up the committee of investigation and taking immediate measures, APC is playing politics?� Of the 276 girls snatched from Chibok, 57 escaped, four were found, 103 were released, and 112 are still missing. The authorities had claimed that some of the Dapchi girls were rescued, but that turned out to be untrue. Also yesterday, Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday said multinational task force within the Lake Chad Basin is part of the

operation to search for and rescue the kidnapped school girls. The DHQ also said the military was adopting all strategies in order to ensure the safe return of the girls. Speaking to THISDAY on the cooperation from countries such as Chad and Niger in the search for kidnapped Dapchi school girls, Director of Defence Information, Brig General John Agim, said: "We have a multinational task force; they are all involved in the rescue mission, you know the multinational task force is headed by Nigeria." On the current situation with the search, Agim explained that though all the public wants to know is the result, the military was doing all it could to rescue the girls. "We are still on the search, we are adopting all the different strategies to rescue the Dapchi school girls and to see what happened and how we can rescue them," he added. The federal had announced penultimate week that the search for the abducted girls had been extended to neighboring countries.

would pay a courtesy call on the Chairman of the Benue State Council of Chiefs, Tor Tiv (V), Professor James Ortese Iorzua Ayatse, and hold a meeting with major stakeholders in the state. According to his programme, Buhari will also visit one of the eight displaced persons' camps in the state. Since the New Year’s eve attack by herdsmen, the state has been receiving visitors from all walks of life, including opposition politicians. Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, was one of the early visitors received by Ortom in the wake of the herdsmen attacks. He visited the burial site and also donated some money to the state. Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, also paid a condolence visit to the state on February 8 and declared support for the state’s antiopen grazing law, warning that it must not be compromised. Meanwhile, the federal government has blamed the incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the country on what it identified as environmental factor. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated this on Friday at a mini town hall meeting organised for the staff of the Nigerian Embassy in Berlin, Germany, as well as a cross-section of Nigerians residing in the European country, said the clashes were neither caused by ethnic nor religious issues. Mohammed said it was wrong to give ethnic and religious coloration to the clashes, because the clashes were a direct result of environmental dynamics. He however assured the people that the federal government was committed to finding a lasting solution to the clashes. He said whereas Nigeria's population in 1963 was about 48 million, it is now about 180 million, with the country's land mass remaining the same, meaning there are more people

per square kilometer and raising the chances of clashes over dwindling resources. For instance, he said Lake Chad that used to provide water and other resources to more than 30 million people in four countries, including Nigeria, in the early 1960s had shrunk by about 90 per cent, from 25,000 square kilometres to 2,500 square kilometres, thus forcing those affected to move south in search of resources. “These and other reasons, like desertification, have altered the resource landscape, heightened competition for dwindling resources and raised the possibility of clashes between farmers and herders,� the minister said, noting that the establishment of ranches was one sure way of reducing the clashes. In resolving the crisis, he held the view that both the farmers and the herders must be willing to shift slightly from their positions, which are grounded in their way of life over centuries. Mohammed, who is in Berlin to attend a meeting of African Tourism Ministers on the sidelines of the International Travel Trade Fair in the German capital, said contrary to the fake news being peddled on the Social Media, President Buhari was resolute on putting Nigeria back on its feet. ''The naysayers have taken to the Social Media to distort the situation in Nigeria. They are spending huge amounts of money to spread fake news about Nigeria, hoping it will override the string of achievements by the administration. That is why Nigerians at home and abroad must ensure they have access to authentic information. One way is to download the FGN/APP on their hand-held devices. It is free!,� he said. Nigeria's Ambassador to Germany, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, commended the patriotism and dedication of Nigerians in the Diaspora, especially those in Germany.

AHEAD OF BUHARI'S VISIT, OBASANJO MAKES WHISTLE-STOP IN BENUE Airport, from where he proceeded to the burial site of the 73 victims of the January herdsmen attacks, where he laid a wreath in honour of the dead. He departed the state immediately after the visit to the burial site. While condemning the wave of killings in different parts of the country, the former president specifically noted the recent tragic incident in Omusu, another part of Benue State, where 24 people were

reportedly killed including 16 women and four children. The former president expressed shock that after the killings and burial of 73 persons, over 80 people had been reportedly murdered in cold blood in various parts of the state. He said Nigeria had still not got it right in terms of security and therefore urged leaders at various levels to come together and get to the root of the killings with a view

to finding a lasting solution. He however commended Ortom’s doggedness in finding a solution to the herdsmen killings through the anti-open grazing law and urged him not to relent in his efforts. He said until the real matter was investigated and permanent solution found, innocent Nigerians would continue to be buried in their numbers. Obasanjo expressed worry that the senseless

killings were being carried out without commensurate actions from the authorities, saying the trend was capable of discouraging foreign investments in the country. Meanwhile, the state government has announced the itinerary of President Buhari for tomorrow’s visit. Astatement by the Special Adviser on Media and ICT to Benue State governor, Mr. Tahav Agezua, announced said during the visit, the President

NNPC REPORT: PPMC RECORDED N102BN LOSS IN 2017 half of 2017, could not keep its YTD cost under control as it budgeted to spend N291.060 billion, but ended up spending N556.598 billion. The company, however, netted a revenue of N668.475 billion, and an operational surplus of N111.877 billion. For the NGC, the report showed that it had budgeted to spend N187.324 billion on its operations, but eventually spent N201.688 billion, and subsequently earned N275.502 billion as against the N298.224 billion that it budgeted. On the midstream, which includes the refineries, the report showed that Kaduna spent N141.295 billion, which is about N29.605 billion more than the N111.690 billion it planned to spend, and earned N109.524 billion as against N107.082 billion, but still recorded a YTD deficit of N31.771 billion. Port Harcourt refinery, it said, budgeted to spend N368.220 billion, eventually spent N351.728 billion and earned a trading surplus of N20.671 billion, even though it earned just N372.399 billion as against the N453.965 billion it planned for. For Warri Refinery, its planned YTD expenditure was N265.180 billion, it eventually spent N111.104 billion but only earned N89.361 billion out of the N314.940 billion it budgeted

to earn for the year, and then posted a deficit of N21.743 billion from its operations. The NNPC, in the report, stated reasons why the YTD expenses of the PPMC increased by that percentage. “The value gained from NPDC was, however, eroded by an increased PPMC operation’s cost in an effort to ensure steady petroleum products supply across the nation being the major supplier of the products.� It equally noted that theft of its products and vandalism of downstream assets had continued to destroy its value addition, pointing out that a total of 1120 vandalised points were recorded on its pipeline between January and December 2017. Perhaps referring to its subsidy of petrol consumption in the country, the corporation added that it had doubled the daily supply of petrol from 850 trucks per day to 1500 trucks per day and that this translated to 52 million litres of daily consumption in the country. An industry analyst, who didn’t want his name in print, however, told THISDAY that the disruptions at the Forcados in 2016 and parts of 2017 perhaps affected the NPDC and made it miss its revenue projection. He, however, noted that the

NPDC would need to do a lot of work to bring its cost under control, adding that continued subsidisation of petrol consumption by the PPMC was denying the federal government and states a lot of revenue. Meanwhile, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has begun its conduct of data management training for its member countries to ensure that crude oil production data they submit to it are accurate and in line with the current market dynamics. OPEC said the training would help officials, who are in charge of data collection and collation in its member countries to adapt to the new data processing methodology it now uses to compute trends in the market, adding that this was in line with the operational changes it has introduced to stay abreast with changes in the global oil market. Nigeria’s Governor to OPEC, Dr. Omar Farouk, recently explained this to THISDAY at the Nigerian lap of the training which was hosted by the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) in Abuja. Farouk, said the training would equip Nigeria’s officials with knowledge of the new methodology adopted by OPEC in its data gathering and collation.

He stated that the training would cover data processing methods for crude oil production, oil consumptions, refineries runs of Nigeria and its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He said Nigeria had previously done badly with its data collection and submission to the OPEC, but has improved in the last three years and was now amongst the top three OPEC countries that are timely and accurate with their data collection and submission. “In the last two years, particularly from last year, OPEC in recognition of the changing dynamics of the oil market, has introduced some areas that had not been part of what it is doing in the last 30 or 40 years, and the objective of this workshop is to go round member countries, gather those who actually collect and collate these data and send to OPEC, to give them training on the new methodology of data collection and assessment or evaluation before it is eventually sent to OPEC,� said Farouk. He further stated: “It is essentially on every aspect of data from crude oil production to Nigeria’s GDP, to oil consumption, gas, refinery run, and virtually everything about oil and the economy.

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ MARCH 11, 2018



Editor, Editorial Page PETER ISHAKA Email


There is need for a major reform that will place healthcare as the leading public policy issue


s part of its corporate social responsibility, THISDAY newspapers last week held a policy dialogue in Abuja on the challenges of the health sector in Nigeria and the prospects for sustainable solutions. With participants drawn from both the public and private sectors as well as domestic and international public health institutions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), there was a consensus that all relevant stakeholders must come together to make healthcare available and affordable to the generality of Nigerians. However, it became instructive from the various interventions at the THISDAY summit that Nigeria has, over the years, had several national health plans, including the National Health Act of 2014, the National Health Insurance Act, the Presidential Summit on Health, the National Healthcare Financing Policy, the National Policy of Incentivising Investments in Healthcare, etc. Yet, despite all these, the situation in the sector has Although investment hardly improved nor has the health and wellbeing of in health leads to the citizens and residents of economic growth, Nigeria. Despite significant Nigeria invests far progress in containing too little in the critical malaria and polio, Nigeria sector, spending less faces serious challenges that need a bold and determined than nearly every response. As one of country in the world. In national the speakers noted, “There climes where political is a health emergency in the leaderships have country. Nigeria is among the worst place in West rallied stakeholders Africa to be a poor child or behind investments mother, and the situation in the health may be getting worse.” sector, significant Indeed, improvements improvements have in the health sector in the been possible last decade are now being eroded. Nigeria’s poor children and mothers reportedly have worse nutritional status and poorer access to preventive and curative services. In the last three years, there has been a spike in infant mortality rate while stunting is on the rise. And as a consequence of poor public financing, 75 per cent of health expenditures in Nigeria are out-of-pocket. The average life expectancy in Nigeria is a mere 53.05 years as against 75-85 years in both Europe and America. The reasons for this policy failure, according to partici-

Letters to the Editor

pants at the summit, are many and some of them include lack of political will, inadequate investments in healthcare (from both the public and private sector), human resource challenges, especially professional rivalries and emigration of medical personnel and unsustainable financing for the sector. Other challenges include the inability of the various local governments to take up their primary healthcare responsibilities as well as the declining reputation of medical practice in Nigeria which discourages patronages from both the rich and the middle class and in turn encourages outbound medical tourism.




ome of the observations by participants were that although investment in health leads to economic growth, Nigeria invests far too little in the critical sector, spending less than nearly every country in the world. Meanwhile, in climes where political leaderships have rallied stakeholders behind investments in the health sector, significant improvements have been possible. It was also observed that the National Health Act passed in 2014, provides a legal framework for achieving the much talked about Universal Health Coverage (UHC). On the way forward, some of the recommendations from the participants include improving transparency and accountability around public financial managements; making the legal framework for financing the health sector robust enough to support the delivery of a set of high impact interventions for all Nigerians; increasing public investment and ensuring that assistance from donor agencies and development partners align with government policy for the sector. It was also recommended that state governments should increase spending on health as more than two-thirds of public sector funding currently comes from the federal government while the public should take more interest in the policy and funding of their health sector. At the end, the main takeaway from the THISDAY intervention is that to resolve most of the issues militating against healthcare delivery in Nigeria, citizens and the media must engage the implementers on the various policies that are already in place. Some of the policies include the National Health Act of 2014 and the implementation of the provisions for one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue of the Federation to be invested in healthcare while health insurance should be made compulsory for all citizens and residents of Nigeria. While credible metrics and effective health planning, monitoring and evaluation, by federal and state ministries of health are required to encourage confidence, it was also agreed that there should be a reduction in out-of-pocket payments at point of service delivery, through better and improved public investments. And of course the need for a strategic engagement with the private sector to harness their potential. But to achieve these objectives, there is need for a major socio-political reform that will place healthcare as the preeminent public policy issue as it is in most countries in the world. As rightly observed by one of the speakers at the event, “When health is absent, wealth is useless.”

TO OUR READERS Letters in response to specific publications in THISDAY should be brief (150-200 words) and straight to the point. Interested readers may send such letters along with their contact details to We also welcome comments and opinions on topical local, national and international issues provided they are well-written and should also not be longer than (950- 1000 words). They should be sent to along with the email address and phone numbers of the writer.

Battle for Imo State Government House


t was not for nothing that literary legend, William Shakespeare, had, while stressing on the import of taking the right action at the right time, noted, “ There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries”. In fact, Imo State, the famed Eastern Heartland, in a way, fits into this expression. Since the onset of the current civilian dispensation in 1999, the state is yet to find its footing in delivering people-oriented governance. Perhaps, the governors who had presided over the affairs of the state at various times, may have sincerely given their best while in office. But these, certainly, have not been good enough in taking the state to the next level. The result is that Imo, created

42 years ago and endowed with enormous human and material resources, has literarily been groping in the dark and mentioned occasionally among its peers, in derision. Perhaps, no other time, had this epithet of a failed entity seemed more glaring as the present Rochas Okorocha administration. Since the inauguration of the administration in 2015, virtually all indices of measuring governance and performance, have been on almost below-the-average level. With arrears of unpaid salaries and pensions, dilapidated infrastructure and culture of impunity running high in conduct of state activities, Imo has been in piteous state. Incidentally, those before Okorocha had not fared better. It was for instance, on account of poor performance profile of Okorocha’s predecessor, Ikedi Ohakim, that the

voters denied him a second term. The expectation, therefore, was that Okorocha would do better. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. And the people continue to suffer. But with the race for 2019 gradually gathering heat, opportunity comes once again for the state to pick its broken pieces and embark on self-rediscovery. Interestingly, some names are already being thrown up among those angling to take over from Okorocha. These include the son-in-law and chief of staff to the governor, Uche Nwosu, Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere, the Speaker, Acho Ihim, erstwhile Senator, Ifeanyi Araraume. They are all of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). From the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, leads the pack. He

had aspired for the position in 2015 but lost to Okorocha, who was then seeking a second term. In All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), two aspirants – transportation manager, Austin Nneji, seasoned banker and management consultant, Okey Ezeh, are the most prominent. Both look good for the office. Unlike their peers in APC and PDP, they are not coming into the encounter with any form of baggage. And they have the goodwill. But governance is not an engagement that is actualised merely on account of goodwill. It involves strategic thinking and philosophical conviction nurtured overtime, given the enormity of the task ahead. Put in other words, governance, especially in a state like Imo that has ironically been systematically run down by successive administrations after the glorious era of late Sam Onunaka Mbakwe, needs someone with the zeal and drive

to turn around the tide of events. This is why the search for such candidate should, as a matter of priority and urgency, shift from a generation of analogue leadership to one with digital orientation and frame of mind to work with the people and deliver service. The job at hand in Imo, requires a candidate or aspirant that has the benefit of experience in human resource management, exposure to macro-economic and finance, aside falling into the paradigm shift in governance age that is currently under 50 in some parts of the world. Most of those that had governed the state in the present dispensation and some aspiring to do so in 2019, are clearly outside this bracket in global leadership qualities. This is where Okey Ezeh, has advantage over the other aspirants and appears the man to beat for the job. ––––Funmi Fasipe, Green Meadows Childcare Center, Ogba, Lagos


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ËžARCH 11, 2018


News Editor Abimbola Akosile E-mail:, 08114495306 (sms only)

Ekweremadu, Dogara, Others Seek Greater Cooperation among Commonwealth Countries tAs Africa lawmakers’ summit begins in Yenagoa Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara; Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson; and several heads of parliaments across Africa yesterday kicked off the 74th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Africa Region) Executive

Committee meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, with a call for greater cooperation among Commonwealth countries. Alsopresentduringtheconference which the organisers said was aimed at strengthening lawmaking in Africa and other commonwealth countries were Senators Ben Murray-Bruce, Emmanuel Paulker and Foster

Ogola, all from Bayelsa, and AssemblySpeakersfromAdamawa, Bayelsa, Abia, Cross River, Kogi States among others. Some of those who attended fromtherestofAfrica,includedthe SpeakerofBotswanaParliament, GladysKokorwe;Chairpersonof the Executive Committee of the CPA, Lindiwe Maseko, African Region President of the body,

Gladys Kokorwe and lawmakersfromGhana,Kenya,Uganda, Namibia,Zambia,Tanzaniaand South Africa. All those who spoke at the event, agreed that the legislature remainsthesymbolofdemocracy all over the world, maintaining that an attack on lawmakers was a direct affront and danger to democracy. They also called for greater cooperation among commonwealth countries and fairness to all members.

Specifically, Ekweremadu argued that Nigeria was not getting its fair share of returns from the commonwealth, despite its contributiontothebody,maintaining that the country demands a betterdeal.“Alotofissueswehave lookedatarethosethataffectusas acommonwealth;issuesofjustice, fairness, environmental impact andhowtomanagediversity.We are going to see a new era of the commonwealth. “The CPA must be prepared.

Britain is leaving the European Union,theyaregoingtobelooking for new partners. Africa must be prepared and put on their thinkingcap.Nigeriacontributesmoney to the commonwealth, but we should ask ourselves, do we get enough return on investment there? “Gambia asked themselves this question and left, but after realising the need for internationalcooperation,theyhavenow come back, but that question has not been answered. Do we still have student scholarships from the commonwealth?

Ex-GovAkwe-Doma’sBody Arrives for Burial Today


L-R: Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; Secretary to Edo State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq.; and Representative of Edo State Governor and Deputy Governor, Edo State, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu; and Chairman, Edo State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Barr. Anslem Ojezua, during a dinner at the 5th Progressive Governors’ Forum Quarterly Meeting for Secretaries to the Governments of APC-controlled states in Benin City, Edo the weekend

Bodyoftheimmediatepastgovernor ofNasarawaState,AliyuAkwe-Doma, has arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja from Israel, via Turkey, for burial in Doma, headquartersofDomaLocalGovernmentArea of Nasarawa State today. The former governorAkwe-Doma,whogoverned Nasarawa State from 2007-2011, died Ă™Ă˜Ă‹ĂœĂ?Ă’Í´ËœÍ°ÍŽÍŻÍśĂ“Ă˜Ă‹Ă?Ă™ĂœĂ?Ă“Ă‘Ă˜Ă’Ă™Ă?ÚÓÞËÖ in Israel as a result of an undisclosed illness. The body touched the tarmac of the Abuja airport at about 11:15pm, where the Nasarawa State commissioner for education, Ahmed Tijani, receiveditonbehalfofthestategoverĂ˜Ă™ĂœËœĂ—Ă‹ĂœĂ&#x;Ă–Ě‹Ă‹Ă•Ă&#x;ĂœĂ‹Ë›Ă™ĂžĂ‹ĂŒĂ–Ă?ĂšĂ?ÙÚÖĂ? who were at the airport to receive the bodyincludethedeputygovernorduringtheadministrationofthedeceased, Ă™Ă’Ă˜Ă“Ă•Ă?ĂŒĂŽĂ&#x;Ă–Ëž Ă’Ă“Ă?Ă?Ă?Ă?ĂœĂ?ĂžĂ‹ĂœĂŁÞÙÞÒĂ? Ă?ÞËÞĂ? ÑÙà Ă?ĂœĂ˜Ă—Ă?Ă˜ĂžËœ Ó×ÙÞÒã Ă˜Ă”Ă“ĂŽĂ?Ëž member representing Awe/Keana/ Doma constituency at the National Ă?Ă?Ă?Ă—ĂŒĂ–ĂŁËœ Ă‘Ă™Ă?Ă’Ă“ Ă˜Ă‹ĂĄĂ™Ëž ÞÒĂ? Ă?Ă’Ă‹Ă“Ăœman of Nasarawa Local Government ĂœĂ?Ă‹Ëœ Ă?Ă—Ă‹Ă˜Ă‹Ă˜ĂŽĂ‹Ă“Ëž Ă?ĂšĂ?Ă?Ă“Ă‹Ă–Ă‹ĂŽĂ Ă“Ă?Ă?Ăœ ÞÙÙàĂ?ĂœĂ˜Ă™ĂœĂ–Ě‹Ă‹Ă•Ă&#x;ĂœĂ‹Ă™Ă˜ Ëž Ë×äË ÖËãÙ˞Ă‹Ă—Ă™Ă˜Ă‘ÙÞÒĂ?ĂœĂ?Ë›

Four Killed in Fresh Herdsmen Attack on Plateau Community

tDeath toll in Ganda rises to 18 t2,000 persons displaced Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

Gunmen suspected to be herders, on Friday night went berserk again, killing four school children in their sleep at Laake village in Kwall District of Bassa local government council of Plateau State. This latest incident is coming evenasthedeathtolloftheearlier

attack on Ganda village of Daffo district of Bokkos local government area of the state has risen from six to 20, with over 2,000 persons displaced. Mr. Sunday Akuns, a local Chief in the area, and Mr. Danjuna Maba, who confirmed the rise in the death toll, described the recent attack in the area as

Tillerson Falls Ill on Africa Tour The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday took ill and canceled all his planned events in Africa on Saturday. “The secretary is not feeling well after a long couple of days working on major issues back home such as North Korea,� Undersecretary of State for public diplomacy and public affairs, Steve Goldstein, told media outlets traveling with Tillerson. “Some events will go ahead without him, while they are looking at the possibility of rescheduling others,� he said. Tillerson is on a working Africa tour that includes stops in Kenya, Chad, Nigeria, Djibouti and Ethiopia. While Tillerson was in Ethiopia, President Trump announced he accepted a meeting with North Korean

leader Kim Jong Un. He will become the first sitting U.S. president to ever meet with a North Korean leader, although the White House says North Korea has to take “concrete� steps on denuclearisation in order to ensure the meeting happens. Tillerson’s schedule on Saturday included an event for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme, a wreath-laying ceremony at the August 7th Memorial Park and a meeting with American diplomats serving at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. The PEPFAR event went on without him, according to the Associated Press. Tillerson planned to resume his scheduleonSunday,Bloomberg reported.

heart-rending. Meanwhile, the heinous attack on the school children was confirmed by the National President of Irigwe Development Association (IDA) and a one time member of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Hon. Sunday Abdu. He told journalists in Jos yesterday that four promising children were just massacred and wasted in their sleep in the macabre exercise by the loose and uncontrollable herdsmen. Abdu said it was an unfortunate situation as they had

not gotten over the shock of Thursday’s killing of five people when this happened again. He saidtheIrigweisdefinitelygoing to make a case during the burial. Accordingtohim,“Wearegoing to give the deceased a mass burial on coming Tuesday. This killingisbecomingtoomuch.We have been appealing to security operatives to be pro-active but to no avail. This is too much.� Abduaddedthat,“IamappealingtoGodnowonly.Honestly,the security personnel are not doing their job. They have abandoned their professional responsibility. I am not going to appeal to them againatall.Iamtiredofappealing

to them without any result.� One Irigwe resident who has witnessed almost all the attacks, Mr. Josiah Luka, said he has completely lost confidence in the Nigerian security operatives. “You will alert them on an impending danger of attacks but they will not do anything to forestall it until it happened. “Our security operatives are not pro-active at all. They will even be waiting for the armless civilians they are supposed to be guarding to give them information. “And the worst they do is to arrestouryouthwhousesticksto defend themselves in the face of these unwarranted attacks. It is

very unfortunate. The so-called OperationSafehavenshouldpack andleaveiftheycannotdefendus. Theyarenothelpingmattersatall. Instead they are compounding them. “We have never witnessed a situation where they foiled attacks.Buttheywillonlybeactive after the deed must have been done. They will now be making unnecessary and belated moves by molesting innocent civilians. “The Fulani herdsmen did not even respect their leader, PresidentMuhammaduBuhari, toendhisworkingvisittoPlateau before they went amuck,� Luka added.

Over 50 Nigerian Migrants Rescued on Way to Italy /P GFXFS UIBO  /JHFSJBO NJHSBOUTXFSFBNPOHUIFIVOESFETPGNJHSBOUTSFTDVFEPO 4BUVSEBZJOUIF.FEJUFSSBOFBO 4FBCZ-JCZBTDPBTUHVBSEBOE BOJOUFSOBUJPOBMDIBSJUZ %PDUPST 8JUIPVU#PSEFST .4'  The Nigerians were aboard a boat with 110 migrants. They wererescuedbyAquarius,aship being operated by MSF, 21 miles from the coast west of Tripoli. Theshipwasexpectedtodeliver the migrants, who included 18 women and one child, to Italy. According to Reuters, more than half the migrants on that boat were Nigerians, with the

rest from other sub-Saharan African countries as well as two Palestinians. The Libyan coastguard vessels also intercepted two of the migrant boats, the first an inflatable dinghy that had brokendownwith125peopleon boardoffZawiya,justwestofthe capital, Tripoli, said Ayoub Qassem, a coastguard spokesman. The second boat was turned backoffGarabulli,eastofTripoli, and had 112 people on board. The migrants and their smugglers were trying to take advantage of calm seas as they launched a flurry of boats to-

wards Italy. Meanwhile the coastguard in Zuwara, a former Libyan smuggling hub west of Zawiya, said they had foiled a departure during the night and arrested some migrants whilst others had escaped with smugglers. The coastguard posted pictures of detained sub-Saharan African migrants sitting in an inflatable rubber boat on the beach in the dark. Libya is the main departure point for migrants attempting to reach Europe by sea. More than 600,000 migrants have crossed the central Mediterra-

nean to Italy over the past four years as people smugglers took advantage of a security vacuum in Libya. Since last summer the rate of departures dropped significantly after smugglers in the LibyantownofSabrathastrucka dealwiththeTripoligovernment to halt their activities and were then pushed out of the town by rival armed groups. Libya’sEU-backedcoastguard has also stepped up interceptions, often cutting migrant boats off before they can reach international vessels that would bring them to Europe.

T H I S D AY ˾ SUNDAY MARCH 11, 2018



T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R Ëž ͚͚˜ͺ͸͚΀

NEWS Land Use Charge: Lagos Says Tax Increase Not for 2019 Election t To provide 2000 roads, renovate classrooms, others Martins IďŹ jeh The Lagos State government, as part of efforts to address complaints by land and property owners in the state over the Amendment in Land Use Charge, has noted that the tax increase is not geared towards raising money for the 2019 general election, as being insinuated by some Lagosians. It said the increase was to

ensure that multiple developmental works going on across the state were adequately financed and delivered. Stating this in a chat with journalists yesterday, the state Commissioner for Information, Kehinde Bamigbetan said the plan of the Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode is to improve the lived of the residents through delivery of world class infrastructures, adding that

this would require financial investments. “When we came on board, we realised that we will be needing at least N180 billion to make our class rooms world class. Last year alone we put in N20 billion, which is just a scratch of what is really needed. We want to make sure we provide these facilities for our children. “Same thing goes for roads.

Lagos has 5,000 roads, but last year we delivered 114. This year, we are already working on 181. With the resources we have, there is no way we can deliver 2,000 roads before we leave office in few months time. “And for us to deliver 2,000 roads, we have decided to establish four interlocking block production sites in four different parts of Lagos. Each

site will be producing 1000 interlocking blocks per day. As we speak now the equipments are on their way to Lagos. And all these require money,� he added. He said while politicians look for quick fix to solutions, state often think of long term solutions, adding that Ambode has decided to provide long term solutions to several infrastructural issues in the state. “For instance Lagosians

have been taking risks with their water. We have decided to overhaul what we have and provide a safer model. And we have started doing that.� He said he believed Lagosians were very aware of the massive infrastructure presently going on in the state, hence their decision to support the system. He called on other residents, especially property owners in the state to support the efforts of government.

CIBN Begins Computer-Based Testing

UNITED FOR WOMEN L-R: Representative of Iyalode Alaba Lawson; Yinka Odumakin; Hajia Adiza Umoru; Janet Mba Afolabi; Remi Adikwu; Prof. Remi Sonaiya; and Toun Okewale Sonaiya, at the Media Women Forum event held in Lagos...recently

The Chartered Institute of Bankers Professional Examinations has upgraded from traditional paper-based to Computer Based Testing (CBT) platform for its students. In a statement, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) said the pilot phase of the CBT, which takes effect from April 2018, was carried out in October 2017 with the Certified Risk Managers (CRM) Certification Examinations in Lagos and Abuja centres. The Institute said the exercise was adjudged successful as the students described the platform as simple, easy to learn and userfriendly. “Students are assured that the transition to CBT platform will not affect their mode of study as they are expected to use the same materials to prepare for the examinations as they currently do.

Media Women Forum Seeks More Active Female Involvement in Politics Abimbola Akosile The focus on how to position women for leadership and effective political participation dominated discussions at a Media Women Forum workshop on “Mobilising Women for Politics� held in Lagos recently. All the guest speakers and panel of discussants called on Nigerian women to be effectively involved and participate in politics. The ex KOWA party presidential election candidate,

Prof. Remi Sonaiya, said “some men feel that having women in leadership positions will be achieved at their own expense, so that brings a certain degree of resistance�. She said women should rise above any form of discouragement and strive to make a difference. Public affairs officer, United States Consulate general, Darcy Zotter gave an illuminating into the struggle of women in politics in the United States, the progress made over the years, and how this can influence women

in politics in Nigeria. “We recognise that first and foremost Women are not encouraged to run. More so women rights is human right�, she said. Hajia Adiza Umoru, who shared Zotter’s view, she said women are not encouraged. “Given the 35 per cent affirmative action for women in Nigeria seems to be abandoned. The policy demands 35 per cent involvement in all governance process.� Umoru lamented that Nigerian women are obviously mar-

ginalised in the democratisation process, saying that in spite of the fact that many women are literate, they still hold less than five per cent of important decision making positions in the country. Statistics show that women are grossly underrepresented in the Legislative and Executive arms of Government across the country. For instance out of 109 senators only nine are women while at the House of Representatives 27 out of 360 members are women.

TEXEM UK Unveils Strategies Olashore Int’l School Receives for Growth, Profitability, 2018 Africa Top Schools CEO Excellent Service Delivery Award For those who are looking at developing innovative human capital, creating a culture of excellence, achieving sustainable first-class performance and securing a competitive edge, These Executive Minds (TEXEM) UK is set to help them accomplish all these and more. These goals, according to a release issued by the CEO of TEXEM, Dr. Alim Abubakre, are to be unveiled and shared at a coming event under the topic: ‘Strategies for Growth, Profitability and Excellent Service Delivery’, which will be held on Wednesday, March 14 and Thursday, March 15, at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. Cost of participation is ÂŁ1500 (N750,000 payment accepted in Naira), it added.

Abubakre, in the release, enjoined attendees to “Join worldrenowned Prof Christian Stadler of Warwick Business School who will be sharing insights on how you could stimulate organisational success, unlock sustainable corporate growth and achieve optimal value creation. His book ‘Enduring Success, What we can learn from the History of Outstanding Corporations’ was listed as one of the world’s top 20 Management titles. “Clients include: Shell, BP, Accenture, HSBC, AXA, IBM, and Standard Bank Group. His work has been published in Forbes, Harvard Business Review and CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, New York Times, WallStreetJournal,FinancialTimes, and Bloomberg Business Week.�

The Principal and Chief Executive Officer of Olashore International School, Iloko Ijesa, Osun State, Mr. Derek Smith has received the 2018 Outstanding Schools CEO Awards by Africa Brands Review. The award was presented at the 2018 Africa Top Schools conference which held in Lagos. One of the key criteria for the award is that the school must have an excellent track record of producing first class degree students in top ranked universities globally and must have produced same in the last five years. At Olashore, in line with its mission statement, each student is given a strong academic foundation and they are groomed to become dynamic global leaders

for the 21st century. Graduates have gone on to study in top universities locally and internationally. In 2017, the school produced a number of first class graduates among who are Chinazo Peace Eze, Abdul Hafiz Alako, Oluwatobi Agbaje and Oluwatunmike Olowe. Chinazo Peace Eze graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a first class degree in Geology and is also the school’s 2017 Outstanding Graduate. Abdul Hafiz Alako graduated with a first class degree in Mechatronic Engineering from Lancaster University in the U.K. and is the recipient of the Institution of Mechanical Engineering (IMechE) Best Project Award in Mechatronics Engineering.

Remi Adikwu said that there is a clear lopsided membership of Legislatives in favor of Men, she charged more Women to become effectively involved in politics. Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, also believes that women should actively be involved in politics and position themselves for leadership roles. Member of the panel of discussion, Victor Okhai asked women to wake the cause of women by motivating, sensi-

tising and creating adequate awareness for women to take leadership positions. Media Women Forum was established to champion the cause of women, motivate them to be active agents of change in their communities and empower women live quality lives. The forum encourages government and individuals to take positive actions on issues affecting women. It is largely made up of female media executives who hold decision making positions and seasoned broadcasters.

Sterling Bank, CILT Partner to Boost Transportation Sector Sterling Bank Plc has expressed its desire to partner the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) in a bid to positively influence development in Nigeria’s transportation sector. Group Head, Strategy & Innovation, Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Shina Atilola, stated this while addressing executive members of the Institute who paid a courtesy visit to the corporate headquarters of the lender at Marina, Lagos recently. He said the transportation sector is a major contributor to the economy and that “Without effective transportation, businesses will not attain their true potential because they will be denied the opportunity to connect with supply chain partners and customers. We recognise the important role the transportation

sector has played and is playing in the growth and development of the Nigerian economy, hence our engagement with CILT.� “Our partnership with the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport will ensure we provide more effective support to the profession and industry in line with our pioneering works in the sector,� Mr. Atilola said. He added that the partnership also provides the bank with solid knowledge, which will ensure technology transfer, innovation and sustained impact for the overall benefit of Nigerians and the economy. “This partnership will ensure that we understand the language of the transportation sector, making it easy to develop financial products that will suit its needs,� Mr. Shina Atilola explained.

T H I S D AY ˾ SUNDAY MARCH 11, 2018




OPINION The China-Africa Summit In Beijing FOCAC 18th summit will be mutually beneďŹ cial, writes Zhou Pingjian


s President Mahammadu Buhari recently said in his felicitation message to President Xi Jinping on the occasion of the Chinese lunar new year, “I am looking forward to China hosting the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Beijing in September this year, and have every reason to believe that the Year of Dog will bring us more success stories and mutual benefits for China-Africa cooperation.� The Chinese Government is working hard to ensure the success of the Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, according to Premier Li Keqiang while delivering the government work report to the ongoing first session of China’s 13th National People’s Congress on March 5. This year marks the 18th anniversary of FOCAC. The past 18 years have seen fruitful progress in China-Africa practical cooperation across the board. Two-way trade and China’s total non-financial investment in Africa in 2017 were 17 times and around 100 times that of 2000 respectively, which shows China’s contribution to Africa’s economic development has risen significantly. FOCAC has become a pacesetter in China-Africa cooperation, a champion for greater international attention to and input in Africa, and the largest and most effective South-South cooperation platform in the world. The FOCAC Johannesburg Summit held in December 2015 was a great success, and it is now China’s turn to hold a new FOCAC. China decides to upgrade the forum to a summit in response to the positive and urgent wishes of the African members of FOCAC. President Xi Jinping and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, the FOCAC co-chair, will jointly invite all the leaders of the forum members to attend the summit. Building on the success of Johannesburg Summit, we are willing to strengthen communication and consultation with our African friends to elevate the FOCAC Beijing Summit to a new level. We hope to, through the joint construction of the “Belt and Road� between China and Africa, inject fresh and strong impetus into China-Africa mutually beneficial cooperation and elevate it to a new level. China-Africa cooperation has always been open and transparent. China welcomes the concerted efforts made by the international community to support Africa in achieving peace, stability and development. Some allegations by some people in the international community however, are biased and not fact-based, and we frankly don’t agree. Take the concessionary loan provided by China to African countries. Has it increased the debt burden of countries concerned? Are there any political considerations behind it? The answers are definitely negative, contrary to the claim. That kind of claim, I should

say, is full of groundless words with an attempt out of ulterior motives. In recent years China has indeed increased its financing support to African countries including Nigeria, with China-Africa cooperation having been increasingly expanded and deepened. However, as Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi made it very clear during his visit to Africa early this year, it needs to be stressed that China has always adhered to the following principles in this process: First, the response made to the development demand of Africa itself. Any country has huge capital demand at the initial stage of economic takeoff and industrialisation and Africa is of no exception. Based on the wishes put forward by the African countries, China provides financing support within its due capacity and offers timely assistance to the economic and social development of the African countries, which has been unanimously recognised and welcomed by all countries. Second, never attach any political conditions. Like African countries, China had a painful experience of having its economy under the control of the foreign countries and then suffering unfair treatment and even being exploited and oppressed. Therefore, China will never do what the western countries have done or impose its will on others no matter in assistance or cooperation, but will always respect and work together with Africa, considering both righteousness and benefit with the former as the top priority. Third, stick to the principle of mutual benefit and win-win results. The nature of China-Africa cooperation is South-South cooperation, one of whose major characteristics is equal treatment, mutual benefit and win-win

Building on the success of Johannesburg Summit, we are willing to strengthen communication and consultation with our African friends to elevate the FOCAC Beijing Summit to a new level. We hope to, through the joint construction of the ‘Belt and Road’ between China and Africa, inject fresh and strong impetus into China-Africa mutually beneficial cooperation and elevate it to a new level

results. Only by doing in this way can sustainable and long-term cooperation be achieved and common development of both sides realised. To this end, the financing support provided by China to Africa must undergo serious feasibility studies and market-oriented arguments to ensure that each cooperation project can achieve the desired economic and social effects. The current debt owned by some African countries was accumulated over a long period of time instead of occurring in recent years. China is not a main creditor of African countries. The solution to debt issues is to achieve diversified economic development by taking the path of sustainable development. China firmly supports this solution. China’s financing support to Africa is mainly invested in infrastructure construction and the productive field. The Chinese companies have built a large number of infrastructure projects such as highways, railways, ports, airports and communications facilities in Africa, which greatly improved the environment for Africa’s economic development, added to its appeal to foreign investment and enhanced its capability to achieve self-driven development. In addition to loans, the Chinese government is more inclined to encourage and guide Chinese enterprises to increase their direct investment in Africa and has offered support in this regard, and actively explores new investment cooperation model such as the Public-Private Partnership (PPP). China always attaches high importance to Africa’s debt sustainability. We are committed to intensive development. The large infrastructure projects are planned and moved forward along with promoting Africa’s industrial development. While pursuing the economic and social benefits of the relevant projects, we have also laid emphasis on enhancing African countries’ capability for independent and sustainable development so as to avoid adding to African countries’ debt burden. There is a saying in China that “Only your feet can tell whether your shoes are suitable or not�. Africa has the best say on China’s cooperation with Africa. There is another saying in China that “Justice naturally inhabits man’s heart�. African people will have their own judgment and naturally come to the fair conclusion that who helps Africa sincerely and who is the most reliable partner of Africa. We hope that relevant countries can contribute more to Africa’s development and view China-Africa cooperation in a fair and objective way. As the FOCAC Beijing Summit draws near, we believe we will surely be able to open up broader prospects for China-Africa comprehensive strategic partnership irrespective of detractors and distractions, as long as we adhere to the principle of shared growth through consultation and collaboration. –––Dr. Pingjian is Ambassador of China to Nigeria.

Mainstreaming Women Into Nigeria’s National Development Kathleen Okafor argues for sustained efforts to attain gender equality and empowerment of women


t is no longer news that Nigerian women are held back from fulfilling their potential by obstacles prevalent both in the public and private sectors. Basic economics dictates that no society can realise its true potential when half of its workforce is not completely free to participate in the economy. In Africa, women are generally not treated fairly as it has the second lowest ranking of gender equality in the world after the Middle East. This has no doubt resulted in unequal access to jobs, healthcare, infrastructure, education, housing, economic opportunities and political positions. In Africa, three women can be said to have held the office of President of a country: Ellen Johnson–Sirleaf of Liberia, Catherine Samba-Panza of the Central African Republic and Joyce Banda of Malawi. Unfortunately, Africa’s largest country by population and GDP, Nigeria, has never produced even a female vice-president or a female elected governor of any of the federal component states. In the corporate world, female entrepreneurs are not as encouraged as their male counterparts as banks are far more likely to lend funds to male entrepreneurs than to female ones. This has become of concern because of the vital role that financial independence and entrepreneurship play in liberating women from male domination. However, the gender gap has been observed to be closing gradually especially as many countries including Nigeria are beginning to invest in girl-child education especially at the primary school level. There is no gainsaying the fact that the evils of domestic violence, child marriage, sexual assault, enslavement and female genital mutilation are still rampant in Africa. The issue of maternal mortality is also very high as an African woman faces one in 31 chance of dying during childbirth, compared to one in 4,300 chances in the developed countries. It is for these reasons that gender equality activists have called for affirmative action or positive discrimination in favour of women. The outcome of this approach will enable women to be mainstreamed in both the economy and socio-political development of the country. Women for instance hold approximately one-third of the parliamentary seats in about 10 African countries (Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Liberia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Cape Verde, Malawi and Zambia). This is almost the same proportion as the developed regions of the world such as Western Europe and

North America. Rwanda has unexpectedly been recognised as a world leader in the gender equality rankings in terms of female parliamentary membership. Women occupy about 60% of the seats in the national parliament and Rwandan women are generally far less discriminated against than women in other African countries. Impressively, Nigeria has had female Finance Ministers for about 11 years out of its 17 years of civilian democracy: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Esther Nenadi Usman and currently, Kemi Adeosun. The appointment of women to ministerial and other such positions blurs the fact that the men have cornered the vast majority of the genuinely important and powerful positions in Nigeria such as the offices of national president and state governors. Some of the reasons for low participation of women include: late night political meetings, political violence, funding and resentment of husbands and family members. These imbalances must be addressed by laws and civil sanctions if women participation in politics is to be sustained. In 2000, the MDGs blueprint agreed to by countries, was signed and made unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people and societies. Goal three of the MDGs is aimed at promoting gender equality and women empowerment. Success in achieving Goal three would be measured using three indicators: (a) Closing the gender gap in the education sector at all levels, (b) Increasing women’s share of wage employment in the non-agricultural sector and (c) Increasing the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments across the world. By 2010, a significant number of African countries had enacted laws combating various forms of violence against women including domestic violence (14 countries),female genital mutilation (25 countries), and equal access to employment opportunities and social protection services (21 countries). This is in addition to various other national plans and programmes put in place by the individual African countries. According to the 2015 MDG Report, sub-Saharan Africa achieved the best record of improvement in primary education of any region in the world since the establishment of the MDGs. Between 1990 and 2012, primary school enrolment of girls experienced over 100% increase.

While Africa has performed reasonably in this regard, a lot of work remains undone as 57% of the world’s out-of-school children population is in sub-Saharan Africa. Girls represent 55% of this figure. In addition, enrolment of girls in secondary and tertiary education remains the lowest in the world with the gender gap at tertiary level increasing between 2000 and 2015. According to the 2015 MDG Report, sub-Saharan Africa also registered the most impressive progress in women’s access to paid employment in the non-agricultural sector, increasing from 24% to 34% between 1990 and 2015. However, the region still lags behind the average for developing countries (35%), the world (40%), and the developed countries (48%). While there is optimism that Africa is gradually heading in the right direction and that some progress has been made to increase gender equality and empowerment of women in Africa, efforts need to be sustained and intensified, especially at the national level. The current optimism can only be justified if efforts are sustained in countries where the most progress has been made and intensified in countries that are lagging behind. Some of the instruments of oppression against women in Nigeria are undoubtedly family law and obnoxious social practices on succession, local legitimisation of marriages, parental rights in respect of female children, widowhood and childless wives. Progressing, women’s rights to inheritance of family assets are already granted by cases such as Mojekwu v Mojekwu and Ukeje v Ukeje. One issue which should command the attention of local authorities is the need to liberalise the processes of dowry payment and involve women, mothers, bride and daughters as they are presently excluded. We know that the primary responsibility for the refund of bride-price is that of the father of the bride or any other person who under the particular customary law is entitled to receive it. Also, it is known that a woman whose marriage is being dissolved cannot on her own right return the bride price directly to her husband. She lacks the capacity to redeem herself. –– Mrs. Okafor, a legal practitioner and law teacher, wrote from Abuja (See concluding part on


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ MARCH 11, 2018




ooking at the reactions that greeted the hate speech bill currently before the Nigerian Senate; one will but agree with the words of John F. Kennedy, that ‘a man who creates power makes an indispensable contribution to the nation’s greatness. But the man who questions power makes a contribution just as indispensable, especially when the questioning is disinterested; for it is in this, that we determine whether we use power or if power is using us’. Essentially, the bill among other things proposed, that any person found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person shall die by hanging upon conviction. This is in addition to its call for the establishment of an ‘Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches’, which shall enforce hate speech laws across the country. But however noble the bill seems to be, and following the understandable controversy and worries already raised, it has become a moral duty for all to collectively and objectively take a disciplined look at the proposed bill in order to adjust, adapt, incorporate or reject it. Without labour, the most

Lai Mohammed

telling evidence about the bill’s good intention is signposted in its resolve to promoting peaceful coexistence in Nigerians. However, Nigerians are worried that dissipating energy on such which many described as trivial in the mixed of the nation’s legion of socioeconomic woes, portrays our parliamentarians as a group that is out of tune with the yearnings of the masses as our failures lie in the system and not in hate speech.

To further lend credence to this argument, the Christian holy book, the Bible, stated that ‘without wood, the fire goes out, charcoal keeps the ember glowing as wood keeps the fire burning’. Same is applicable to the factors propelling hate speech. It is a barefaced truth that the dearth of leadership, the asymmetrical posturing of our political space and the refusal to have it restructured, among others, propels hate speech; as every

tribe/group jostle to be more Nigerian than the other. A development that has since morphed into a hydraheaded challenge such as insecurity, youth restiveness, nepotism, cronyism among others; with all, culminating to a nation in grief. The effort to having these scourge reduced should be the preoccupation of our dear parliamentarians. Being shameless in getting to the root cause of the monster called hate speech, having it tackled from that point will be well appreciated by Nigerians as any other formula will be viewed as synonymous to making a subsidiary issue become fundamental. Still on the negative side, what is most frightening about this proposed bill is that, at a time when the United Nations and international communities are standing up against capital punishment, it has become the ripped time for us as a nation to nose-dive into the out fashioned practice.The Gambia, and other countries that were notoriously known for capital punishment, has recently placed a moratorium on it. Critical minds have argued that if capital punishment is to be encouraged in any form, corruption fight should be the right guinea pig as



aternal mortality is a key indicator of international development, and its reduction has long been a challenge in low-income countries, despite the existence of effective interventions. A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report indicates that more than 600,000 women have died in recent time due to child-birth or pregnancyrelated complications while Nigeria accounts for close to 10 per cent of that figure. Similarly, a document released in April 2012 titled ‘Trends in Maternal Mortality; 1990 to 2010, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and World Bank estimates situated Nigeria with maternal mortality: 1990 ( 1100), 1995 ( 1000), 2000 ( 970) , 2005 (820) and 2010 (630). In 2013, another report indicated Nigeria is still not among some 25 countries with high child mortality that have “met or are making significant progress” toward a health-related Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) to reduce child mortality by two-thirds, according to a ranking by the charity, Save the Children. The report tagged, An Agenda for Ending Preventable Child Deaths, considered trends in child and infant mortality, as well as measures to sustain health programmes and ensure equity over periods exceeding 10 years, and concluded Nigeria made “very little progress.” It ranks Nigeria 24 among 75 countries

for reduction in under-five mortality, equity and sustainability, with a total score of 1.5 out of a possible three. A 2016 UNICEF reports indicates that an estimated 2,600 children died within the first 24 hours every day of the year. For almost two million newborns, their first week was also their last. In all, 2.6 million children died before the end of their first month. Among those children, more than 80 per cent died from preventable and treatable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections like sepsis and pneumonia. Beyond the achievement of sustainable development goals, there is no better time than now to save every new born. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is set to launch the “Every Child Alive” global campaign to demand and deliver solutions on behalf of the world’s newborns. UNICEF said global deaths of newborn babies remain alarmingly high, particularly among the world’s poorest countries. The organisation’s new report on newborn mortality rates globally - Every Child Alive – has found that babies born in Japan, Iceland and Singapore have the best chance at survival while newborns in Pakistan, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan face the worst odds. The report has placed Nigeria in the 11th position in global ranking where newborn babies die due to lack of assistance during delivery, poverty, conflict

and weak institutions. Beyond achieving an increased progress rate to attain the Sustainable Development Goals, every new born deserves the right to live. However, the progress rate should be increased if the country must attain the SDGs. UNICEF released a report on February 20, 2017 on the urgent need to end new born death through her “Every Child Alive” - a global campaign to demand and deliver solutions on behalf of the world’s newborns. Global deaths of newborn babies have been said to remain alarmingly high, particularly among the world’s poorest countries. Through the campaign, UNICEF is issuing an urgent appeal to governments, health care providers, donors, the private sector, families and businesses to keep every child alive by recruiting, training, retraining and managing sufficient numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives with expertise in maternal and newborn care, guaranteeing clean, functional health facilities equipped with water, soap and electricity, within the reach of every mother and baby, making it a priority to provide every mother and baby with the life-saving drugs and equipment needed for a healthy start in life; and empowering adolescent girls, mothers and families to demand and receive quality care. Several studies from global bodies such as the WHO and UNICEF have shown that critical strategy for reducing maternal and child morbidity

and mortality is ensuring that every baby is delivered with the assistance of a skilled birth attendant which generally includes a medical doctor, nurse or midwife. According to the WHO and UNICEF, every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 underfive year olds and 145 women of childbearing age. This makes the country the second largest contributor to the under–five and maternal mortality rate in the world. In a bid to reduce maternal and infant mortality in Nigeria, The Gamaliel and Susan Onosode Foundation (GAMSU) partnered with General Electric (GE) Healthcare in 2017 to train no fewer than 45 nurses at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) on maternal and infant care. This is small compare to the number of hospitals and health care centres across the country in urgent need of skilled nurses and healthcare professionals, especially in the rural areas where most women are victims. In Lagos, the overall goal of the state government is safe delivery of newborns regardless of means of delivery, be it through modern day doctors or through traditional birth attendants (TBAs) who have been certified to operate by the State Ministry of Health and licensed. ––––Funmi Fasipe, Green Meadows Childcare Center, Ogba, Lagos (See concluding part on

it remains a scourge that has brought so much grief/ sorrow to the people. And an effort to voice condemnation by the poor masses or group against this malady is now erroneously tagged “hate speech.” Apart from this baffling development coming when the nation is still in the throes of economic hardship, Nigerians are not particularly happy about the insensitivity of our leaders towards the grinding poverty and the excruciating pains the masses are going through. Very instructive, no volume of excuses generated by the lawmakers to defend their position for coming up with such bill can be sustained as the whole episode is misguided, ill-timed and a decision arrived at without adequate socio-political feasibility studies. As the debate rages, another area of interest to watch with suspicion is the relationship of this bill with the media/press. I am aware that every media should reinforce and not undermine the government effort. But in the same token, Nigerians are also aware that ‘a free press is not a privilege but an organic necessity in a society.

That without criticism, reliable, and intelligent reporting, the government cannot govern. For there is no adequate way in which it can keep itself informed about what the people of the country are thinking, doing and wanting’. Like the global audience, Nigerians also believe that ‘‘the function of the press is very high. It is almost holy. It ought to serve as a forum for the people, through which the people may freely know what is going on. To misstate or suppress information is a breach of trust’’. Still, in the same line of argument, one established truth we cannot shy away from is the fact that the sole aim of journalism is service and in providing this service, they enjoy great power and followership. Thinking that the proposed move will solve the problem of hate speech is a mirage as it will increase the already soured relationship and suspicion among tribes/ ethnic groups. Allowing this bill to fly in my view will further heighten the already polarised political environment. –––Jerome-Mario,



he political landscape has changed quite a bit in the last couple of decades. The internet has played a large role in this transformation. Social media including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, in particular, have played significant roles in political campaigns and have indeed changed the way people think about issues. One of the most important developments in election campaigns come 2019 will be the advent of social media. It will primarily change the ways in which candidates and parties conduct their campaigns. Social media will fundamentally change the way in which citizens are exposed to political information. That many Nigerians have embraced and are deeply involved in the world of social media may be stating the obvious as it would be disastrous for politicians not to fully embrace this important information platform. Election battles are going to be on social media and less at the big rally fronts. Politicians will have to familiarise themselves with social media, make their presence felt and stay engaged positively with the electorate. As I write, many opinion polls are already going on twitter and several other platforms on who should be the next Nigerian president. The interesting thing about the social media integration into elections is that it allows these elite candidates (politicians) to talk directly to the people without having the

press in the middle. By having this ability, they can say whatever message they want to all their followers very quickly. This is obviously much faster than to have to go through the news. This also allows them to have complete control of their own message. I think this gives unprecedented power to campaigns apart from circumventing news almost entirely. It mobilises certain segments of the election. For example it will mobilise a younger audience, and it keeps them aware of what is going on. On the other hand we have social media allowing for non-elite to communicate. Before now, it was solely the responsibility of the press to talk to most people. With just a twitter account or a Facebook page, one can now go ahead and spread a message and talk to each other. Twitter and Facebook have become instrumental in organising campaigns as campaigns are going viral. They allow like-minded voters and activists to easily share news and information such as campaign events with each other. That’s what the “Share” function on Facebook and “retweet” feature of Twitter are for. Donald Trump used Twitter heavily in his 2016 presidential campaign. “I like it because I can get also my point of view out there, and my point of view is very –Dike Chukwuma, Wuye District, Abuja

(See concluding part on


T H I S D AY ˾  ͯͯ˜ͰͮͯͶ

T H I S D AY ˾ SUNDAY MARCH 11, 2018




INTERNATIONAL DĂŠtente in Pyongyang-Seoul-Washington Ties and the Challenge of Making America Great Again


he aftermath of the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games in South Korea has become the new foundation for the improved ties between South and North Korea. The impediments to better understanding between the two Koreas, which used to be one country before their 1950-1953 war, on the one hand, and the mĂŠsentente that has characterised the relationship between Washington and Pyongyang, are gradually being removed and thus making the dream of re-unification of the two Koreas now possible. For instance, on Monday, 5th March, 2018, Pyongyang government played host to a ten-man delegation from Seoul, South Korea. The purpose of the South Korean visit was first, to respond to the kind invitation by President Tim Jong-un of North Korea to his brother South Korean counter-part, President Moon Jae-in, to visit Pyongyang and therefore to begin preliminary discussions on the modalities of the visit. Second, the visit was to enable discussions on the removal of the misunderstanding between the United States and North Korea, especially in terms of possible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, as well as dowsing the Pyongyang-Washingtonian tension on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes. Put differently, as revealed from the membership of the delegation, there are two main points of interest being pursued by the delegation: security and reunification. Mr. Suh Hoon, the South Korean Intelligence Chief and Mr. Chung Eui-Yong, the National Security Adviser are part of the visiting team. Hoon and Eui-Yong, who led the delegation, are of cabinet-level ranking. Their membership of the delegation reflects the security interest. Additionally, the delegation was received at the airport by Mr. Ri Son-gwon, the North Korean Reunification Chief, a factor reflecting common interest in re-unification. As noted by Eui-Yong during the visit, the South Korean President had resolved ‘to maintain the dialogue and improvement in relations between the South and the North... (and) to denuclearise the Korean peninsula.’ For this purpose, Chung said he wanted to ‘hold in-depth discussions on various ways to continue talks between the South and the North’ and also ‘between North Korea and the United States.’ In fact, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un has said that he wants ‘to write a new history of national reunification.’ Thus, the world is currently witnessing a policy declaration favouring tension-lessening in Washington-Seoul-Pyongyang tripartite ties. With this declaratory intention to reduce tension in the relationships, to what extent is the declaration predicated on sincerity of purpose? Does Kim Jong-un really want a better tripartite understanding among South Korea, United States and North Korea? In the event of a better understanding among the three countries, what will be the impact on Japan? How will Japan react to it? In the same vein, how will China and Russia react to such development in light of the current Cold War in the making? What about the international nuclear politics of some countries being considered responsible and trustworthy in the handling of nuclear matters and some others are considered to be rogue states? Why should some countries have the right to nuclear power status and other sovereign states should not, and yet the international community is expecting their understanding? And perhaps more interestingly, how can President Donald Trump make America great again with the increasing global opposition to US foreign policy in many ramifications? Can the United States enjoy international support beyond the level of its allies with its policy of aggressive deterrence on nuclear proliferation as it affects North Korea?



Bola A. Akinterinwa Telephone : 0807-688-2846


In responding to these questions, it should first be stated that, as good as the non-belligerent approach of South Korea may be, as good as the lessening of tension in the relationship may also be, and no matter how the initial hostility of the United States to South Korea’s methodological framework to the participation of North Korea in the Olympic winter games and its aftermath may also be, there is no disputing the fact that the final resolution of the crisis as a basis for a lasting peace and denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula cannot but be largely dependent on a sincere removal of the dynamics of the misunderstanding at the bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral levels. The removal of the dynamics at the bilateral level should be considered from a tripartite perspective: Seoul-Washington, Washington-Pyongyang, and Pyongyang-Seoul. Regarding Seoul-Washington ties, the most critical dynamic and impediment to better understanding between Seoul and Pyongyang is the annual military exercises jointly organised by South Korea and the United States. The drilling exercises, code-named Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, are held in March and April every year. For reasons of the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic games held in Pyeongchang in South Korea, and more so, with the indication of North Korea’s interest to participate in the games, the usual dates of the drilling exercises could not be maintained as scheduled. This was why, on Friday, 26th January, 2018 the South Korean Defence Ministry made it clear that the joint military exercises, involving tens of thousands of troops from the United States and South Korea would resume after the conclusion of the Olympic and paralympic winter games. North Korea considers the holding of the exercises as a direct threat to its national security and survival and has therefore always vehemently opposed it. Pyongyang has not only denounced the exercises scheduled for March and April 2018, but has also promised to take counter measures in the event the exercises do hold. Even though there are fresh reports on the willingness of the Pyongyang authorities to stop their nuclear and missile programmes subject to security guaranty, will security guaranty imply stoppage of the US-South Korean exercises? Will it also imply maintenance of North Korea’s nuclear arsenals and simply prevention of further missile tests and development of plutonium for purposes of nuclear weapons? Will the possible dÊtente among South Korea, United States and North Korea prevent North Korea from supplying nuclear materials to Syria? Will that also prevent Russia from supporting Syria? Many questions but few answers! The truth is that North Korea wants to be globally acknowledged as a sovereign nuclear power on merit and not on the basis of national sub-servience. It is therefore quite apt to ask at this juncture the extent to which the new willingness of North Korea to dialogue can be fruitful. This question is necessary because

Jong Un

both pressure and past efforts at dialogue have woefully failed. Sanctions have also not prevented North Korea from pursuing its nuclear and missile agenda. Even though some analysts are suggesting that the additional sanctions taken against North Korea are simply biting harder and that is why North Korea is now compelled to accept to dialogue, there is no disputing the fact that North Korea is already satisfied that it had not only defied the international community, but has also achieved its nuclear status objective, fully or in part. The position of North Korea may therefore not be different from that of China and France both of which initially refused to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty but later came back to do so after perfection of their nuclear and missile tests programmes. It really makes little sense for any sovereign state to leave its national security to the call and beck of another sovereign state. This was what China and France tried to avoid during the making of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 1968. This raises the issues involved at the level of Washington and Pyongyang. The United States has given a condition for possible bilateral dialogue between it and North Korea, which is North Korea’s acceptance of prior denuclearisation. The United States says North Korea must first ‘denuke’ and North Korea has responded that that is ‘preposterous’ and unacceptable. At the level of North Korea and South Korea ties is the desire of complete denuclearisation of the whole peninsula, as well as reunification in the mania of the former West and East German which brought down the Berlin Wall. Both countries are eager to reunite. In fact, South Korea has a whole institution dedicated to the matter. In this regard, will denuclearisation at the level of the United States facilitate reunification? If so, how will this impact on the relationships with the neighbouring countries of the new Korea? Answers to these questions bring us to the analysis of the plurilateral and multilateral impediments. The United States President, Donald Trump, has made clear his intention to make America great again but he did not indicate how. What is made clear are the pointers to the greatness, which have to be articulated through a deductive methodology: the re-definition of some factors, such as immigration control; self-reaffirmation, with greater emphasis, on US interests in international relations; non-acceptance of any international agreements hitherto agreed to by the US but now considered to be inimical to US interests, raising tariffs on importation of steel and aluminium and imposing trade wars; promotion of conflicts of interest in the governance of the United States, which he says he adores much, etc. In the context of US policy on North Korea, Washington has maintained that North Korea must first comply with the 2005 nuclear obligations contracted with the United States. Meeting this conditionality cannot but be difficult in light of the geo-politics of the region. China is a close ally of North Korea but China does disagree with North Korea on the question of its nuclear and missile agenda. China is North Korea’s most important trading partner and China needs North Korea as a strategic buffer zone against possible threats from the United States and its allies. More important, China needs a closer entente with North Korea to be able to contain and control the influence of Russia there. At the level of Russia, it wants to lend active support to a positive dialogue between South and North Korea. As confirmed by the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Igor Morgulov, Russia wants to ‘provide assistance to promoting dialogue between South and North Korea, expanding and deepening it, including in the economic area.’ How do we understand economic cooperation in the context of the international sanctions placed on North Korea? Russia is on record to have been aiding and abetting the failure of international sanctions against North Korea in many ways. For instance, in August and September 2017, North Korea exported coal to Incheon in South Korea and even to Rumoi in Japan by first going through Russia. As noted by Tara Francis Chan in the Washington Post, “North Korea reportedly laundered Coal through Russia in an Apparent Breach of Sanctions.� In order ‘to evade sanctions, North Korea ships regularly paint over or obscure identification codes, falsify cargo documents, and intentionally disable location transponders.’ Additionally, on seven different occasions, North Korea used three North Korean ships and one Chinese-owned ship, but using the flag of Togo, and turning off its transponder while picking its cargo. This practice might have largely informed the comments and unhappiness of Donald Trump in January 2018, when he said: ‘Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea... What China is helping us with Russia is denting. In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing.’ Put differently, if China could accept to restrict exportation of oil and coal to North Korea, why is Russia doing the contrary? Without doubt, Russia is another reliable ally of North Korea, especially as from 2015, when both countries agreed on 2015 as their special ‘Year of Friendship’. Russia invited Kim Jong-un to visit his country as part of activities organised to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation and the victory of the great Patriotic War in Russia, that is, the defeat of Japan and Nazi Germany in 1945. It should be recalled that Moscow also cancelled about 90% of North Korea’s bilateral debt, which was to the tune of 10 billion US dollars. (See concluding part on


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾MARCH 11, 2018


Editor Vincent Obia Email vincent. obia

Finally, NNPC Admits New Subsidy Regime A recent revelation by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that it spent N774 million daily to subsidise petrol consumed in the country was a confirmation of Nigeria’s return to the subsidy regime, which has been generally described as unsustainable and prone to corruption. Ejiofor Alike writes


roup Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, recently made a mind-boggling revelation when he disclosed that the corporation currently spent N774 million daily as subsidy on the 50 million litres of petrol consumed across the country. This translates to a whooping N282.510 billion in a year. Fuel Smuggling Baru had attributed the huge subsidy cost to the sale of petrol at N145 per litre, which under the defunct Petroleum Support Fund, was described as “under-recovery,” and the proliferation of filling stations in communities with international land and coastal borders across the country. Speaking when he led a management team of the corporation on a visit to the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali, the NNPC boss was quoted as saying that the multiplication of filling stations had energised unprecedented cross-border smuggling of petrol to neighbouring countries, making it difficult to sanitise the fuel supply and distribution matrix in Nigeria. According to a statement by the corporation’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu, the NNPC boss had revealed that detailed study conducted by NNPC indicated strong correlation between the presence of the frontier stations and the activities of fuel smuggling syndicates. He said the activities of the smugglers led to the recent abnormal surge in the evacuation of petrol from less than 35 million litres per day to more than 60 million litres per day, which was in sharp contrast with established national consumption pattern. Frontier Stations Providing a detailed presentation of the findings, the NNPC boss noted that 16 states, having among them 61 local government areas with border communities, accounted for 2,201 registered filling stations, with tanks of combined capacity of 144,998,700 litres. Baru stated that in the same vein, eight states with coastal border communities spread across 24 local government areas accounted for 866 registered fuel outlets with combined petrol tank capacity of 73,443,086 litres. He said a further breakdown of the findings showed that among the states with land borders, three local government areas in Ogun State accounted for 633 fuel stations with combined petrol tankage of 40,485,000 litres, while nine local government areas in Borno State had 337 fuel outlets with combined petrol storage capacity of 21,114,480 litres. According to Baru, Lagos with one local government area along the international land border has 235 registered fuel stations with total storage facility of 19,916,600 litres. On the coastal front, Lagos with six local government areas led with 487 registered fuel stations with combined in-built storage capacity of 50,239,560 litres. “Akwa Ibom, with five local government areas, has 134 registered retail outlets with capacity to store 8,322,986 litres; while Ondo State, with two local government areas, has 110 fuel stations with capacity to store 3,871,320 litres,” Baru added. The NNPC group managing director explained that because of the obvious differential in petrol price between Nigeria and the neighbouring countries, it had become lucrative for the smugglers to use the frontier stations as a veritable conduit for the smuggling of products across the border. He added that this had resulted in a thriving market for Nigerian petrol in Niger Republic,

An attendant dispensing fuel ... NNPC subsidises every litre to keep the pump price at N145/litre

Benin Republic, Cameroon, Chad and Togo, as well as Ghana, which has no direct borders with Nigeria. “The NNPC is concerned that continued crossborder smuggling of petrol will deny Nigerians the benefit of the federal government’s benevolence of keeping a fixed retail price of N145 per litre despite the increase in PMS open market price above N171 per litre,” Baru added. Subsidy without Appropriation Technically speaking, the federal government does not pay subsidy to the NNPC, but the corporation subsidises the cost of imported petrol by incurring losses in the course of importing and selling the product at official prices. When the federal government increased the pump price from N86 to N145 per litre on May 11, 2016, it was convenient for the NNPC and the private marketers to sell at the official price without asking for subsidy due to the low price of crude oil at the international market. The increase in the pump price ended the subsidy regime, as the marketers and the NNPC were making profit, with the corporation and some of the traders even selling at N143 per litre as a result of the healthy competition associated with the partial liberalisation. However, the market situation changed with the rising price of crude, which made it difficult for the petrol importers to buy petrol at high cost and sell at N145. With the high price of crude and the high cost of forex, the N145 became unsustainable because importers who sold at that price without receiving subsidy from the federal government would incur losses. Since the federal government did not make provisions for subsidy payment in the 2017 and 2018 budgets, the private marketers

stopped importation in October 2017, leaving petrol import solely in the hands of NNPC. While the NNPC is trading with government’s money, it can afford to incur losses, which it passes on to the government. The under- recovery, which is the money the NNPC loses by selling petrol at the official price, is the money that should have been shared among the three tiers of government. Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had attested to this recently when he stated that technically speaking, there was no longer subsidy paid to oil marketers. She admitted that NNPC was currently under recovering for the loss in the importation of refined products because it was the sole importer of the product. By selling at less than the cost price, NNPC loses huge amount of money to defray the extra cost of importation of the product. According to the minister, the effect of that is being borne by all tiers of government. Responding to question on who pays the differentials between N171 landing cost for petrol and N145 pump price, the finance minister said, “On the question of subsidy, the price of oil for Nigeria today is a double edged sword. “So, every dollar that goes up, we get more revenue but also because we are importing refined petroleum, it increases the landing cost of fuel,” she added. Clarification NNPC has clarified the issue of incurring subsidy on petrol without appropriation from the National Assembly. Featuring on a recent Channels Television programme, the Managing Director of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, Mr. Umar Ajiya, argued that the NNPC Act was a law on its own, which the corporation implements with or without the National

Assembly. He admitted that the corporation had been paying N26 due to differentials in landing cost and approved selling price but declined to tag it subsidy. Ajiya was reported as saying, “For us, it’s not a question of subsidy, we don’t know about subsidy. It was not budgeted for but the act establishing us, the National Assembly knows clearly that in that same act, there is a provision that we can run our operation and recover our cost fully. There is a difference between the landing cost and the price we are selling but what we are saying is, that is part of our core structure.” Before Ajiya’s clarification, senators were particularly angry that the NNPC was paying subsidy on fuel without appropriation from the National Assembly. But Ajiya advised the lawmakers to channel their grievances in the right manner. He said, “The NNPC Act is a law on itself and the National Assembly is the one responsible for enacting laws. So, if there is any remedy or solution; as one of the senators, the issue is, look into the Act establishing these entities; NNPC, CBN.” Indeed, the NNPC is mandated by the NNPC Act of 1977 to make petroleum products available in Nigeria, but subsidising the cost of petrol smuggled outside the country is not part of this mandate. Many believe the federal government should check the illegal smuggling of petrol outside the country to reduce NNPC’s losses. The defunct subsidy regime became unsustainable in 2011 when the federal government budgeted N286 billion but over N1 trillion was paid to the marketers and the NNPC. With the mounting losses incurred by the NNPC, the country is gradually going back to the dark era when the management of the subsidy scheme was characterised by high level corruption and inefficiency.


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾MARCH 11, 2018


Makanjuola: Caverton Has Raised Standards in Offshore Support Services Chief Executive Director, Caverton Offshore Support Group, Olabode Makanjuola, speaks on the firm’s recent acquisitions and the need for continuous innovation and capacity to maintain efficiency and proficiency in the ownership and operation of offshore support services. Chinedu Eze writes


averton Nigeria, an indigenous company with operations in major cities in the state, has since inception risen to become the biggest offshore logistics service provider in Nigeria. The company in response to the Nigerian government’s Local Content Act has aimed to substantially increase indigenous participation in the local oil and gas industry, thereby positioning itself as one of the leading indigenous oilfield services companies in Nigeria. Its commitment to the development of the local aviation and maritime industry and increased participation of indigenous operators is evident in its growth over the years. It has made immense investment across Nigeria, growing operational bases and fleet of aircraft. Over the years, the group has positively impacted the socio-economic development of the country through various stakeholders, clients, employees and communities alike. Its global workforce has grown remarkably. With its rapidly expanding fleet of aircraft and vessels coupled with its acquisition of key offshore assets and strategic partners, the group is able to provide diverse range of services to its clients, ensuring their objectives are completely fulfilled, offshore and on land. To this end, the company recently completed the acquisition of 12 helicopters. It has taken delivery of three while the remaining nine would arrive in a matter of weeks. This acquisition is an addition to the 22 fleets of helicopters currently in operations. This was targeted at expanding its capacity and building a world-class firm that can compete favourably with globally recognised organisations. Safety is very vital in the aviation industry and the company’s record of 100 per cent safety testifies to the fact that it takes this part very seriously. According to Chief Executive Director, Caverton Offshore Support Group, Olabode Makanjuola, “We have put in place very stringent procedures built around local and foreign standards; our ethos of safety is embedded in us. It is our top priority and we are very committed to this. “So far we have raised the standards of through our safety practices. Considering the nature of the industry, this is probably why there are a few players in the sector and we still maintain the largest share in Nigeria right now owing to our safety records.” Caverton takes pride in putting safety and quality at the core of its business and has been rewarded for this by its growing customer base. For instance, in September 2014, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) awarded the company the “Shell Safety Conscious Award” in recognition of its safety conscious culture. Recently, it also won the contract to service the Chevron Company, a testament to the standard it has operated over the years. The company also boasts several infrastructure spread across the country. Presently, they have a massive hanger at the Lagos airport, which is their actual base. The company’s helipad is situated at Ozumba-Mbadiwe, even though they also have two hangers in Port Harcourt situated at the Air Force base, including a base in Osubi, Warri and another coming up in Cameron. With the winning of the Chevron contract, another base in Escravos is in the works. Makanjuola explained further, “We have a diverse fleet of helicopters numbering about 22. Different sizes both fixed and road trip, also considering the new aircraft that are arriving soon. “They vary from a Booster Wesler139 with a


capacity of 15 passengers to the Bell 407 with a capacity of five passengers. Then we have the fixed wing, the Trinoter which is on a contract for Shell and also another in Cameron, both with a capacity to carry about 20 passengers. The bell 412 is basically a mid-size aircraft.” The aviation industry has attained a huge growth over the period and numerous players are springing up in the industry with stronger focus on infrastructural development. Before Caverton commenced operation in 2008, there were limited facilities on ground. But now there are many and there is more push for more infrastructural development. The strong desire to match global practice has led to significant growth. Makanjuola explained, “For instance, when we started, no one gave us the opportunity to break into the oil and gas space. The major players then were Bristow Helicopters and Aero contractors and the major oil players, Shell and Chevron, were serviced by foreign firms. “There was no opportunity for any local player. Today, that story has changed; Caverton now services both Shell and Chevron. “More so, the past years witnessed only few companies tendering bids for oil and gas sector, but today it is a different ball game, because many other indigenous companies such as Oas, Nestoil and others have developed and are bidding for different services in the aviation space. “The aviation sector has now expanded and people are open to investing in infrastructure as opposed to just being agents for foreign entities.” Clearly, building capacity and infrastructure development are key to compete favourably in the aviation sector, which was why Caverton

The past years witnessed only few companies tendering bids for oil and gas sector, but today it is a different ball game, because many other indigenous companies such as Oas, Nestoil and others have developed and are bidding for different services in the aviation space took a giant leap to become the first indigenous firm to build helipads and hangers. The company has clearly taken the lead in infrastructural development, thus serving as a benchmark in the local content drive for enormous capacity building. They have submitted themselves to a higher level of scrutiny to be at par or even surpass their competition. They have pushed boundaries to enable and empower them to control the market. Makanjuola stated, “With the Chervron contract, we don’t have any technical partners,

it is 100% Caverton contract. We intend to keep it that way. Hence, the Engineers, Pilots, are on our employ are mainly Nigerians. “This is something we take pride in and it should be encouraged. The feedback we get from our manufacturers and partners further inform our decision to consolidate our services, as companies are more inclined to work with you who have a full setup.” He added, “When you consider the ‘Nigerian factor’ with an appetite for foreign goods and services, it is surprising how one can break even. First we have to give God the glory for such a feat. “The board, including the chairman who had the foresight, has been very outstanding and supportive. Though they were apprehensive at first, they had to buy into it, and the success is to be able to control such projects. “Otherwise we would have resorted to partnering with a foreign firm to provide support services while we fold our arms and watch which won’t help us grow as an entity, nor a state.” With an invisible path on the back, Makanjuola also said,“Globally, we stay very relevant.” But like with every project of this size, one major challenge in the industry is financing. Yes they might be lucky enough to attract foreign financing but will most likely be faced with double digit interest which, in itself, can kill any business. Financing a business like this is highly capital intensive as they are a dollar denominated entity and as such can get very dicey when raising funds. In the light of this, Caverton’s concern about service delivery surpasses the challenges. They are more focused on the possibilities and this has propelled their drive to move against the tide to attain their level of successes, Makanjuola said. Another major challenge they face is security, which is majorly a FAAN controlled sector. Issues such as cattle on the runway that could stall an airline for over 15 minutes, or people breaking into baggage hole or luggage area are also of concern. They have had to handle such issues decisively so it doesn’t result in a major catastrophe. Caverton is also currently building the largest commercial Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Centre (MRO) in Nigeria, the first of its kind. This would cater for the fixed and rotary wing and is expected to be ready by 2019. It will cater for both helicopters and fixed wings and will be run by local and foreign employers. Makanjuola said, “The local content has helped the industry. Bank of Industry, some commercial banks, and also government support, have helped to encourage the industry, especially if you have the right structure in place. “Beyond that, it’s really about us helping each other locally in terms of development. For instance, you don’t say local content and have expatriates all working for you – yes there is a competent level and training that has to be maintained – but promoting local content requires that you give back your bit to promote the policy that has enabled you. “That is why we have one of the highest number of trained indigenous pilots and engineers go through our system till date. I will be surprised if any organisation has the same level of composition of people as we do. “Over 70% of our pilots are Nigerians. We have both male and female pilots. And everyone undergoes the same level of training to be fully qualified as a pilot. Our safety record speaks for us on our competence.” Makanjuola says Caverton intends to re-invest in opportunities both in the oil and non-oil sectors. The ultimate aim of the firm is to be the benchmark for indigenous offshore logistics service providers in Nigeria..

T H I S D AY ˾ SUNDAY MARCH 11, 2018


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾MARCH 11, 2018


MEDIA Okosi: Media & Entertainment ‘ll Achieve Greater Growth with Digital Migration Mr. Alex Okosi is the Senior Vice President & Managing Director of Viacom International Media Networks Africa. Okosi, who was responsible for developing and launching MTV Africa (MTV Base) in February 2005, is also the brain behind other localised Viacom brands in Africa encompassing Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. In this interview with Kunle Aderinokun, Okosi speaks about the mortality rate in media and entertainment and factors that could shoot up growth in the industry while also expressing his views on the economy, non-oil strategies and diversification


hat are your views about the Nigerian economy in broader perspectives especially if you are to benchmark against countries with similar potential? And, what do you think about non-oil strategy of Nigeria? I think clearly, everyone knows that the Nigerian economy has been tough over the last three years, of course, driven by the drop in oil prices. I think that in a lot of ways, there has been a lot of pressure on the economy. For a lot of investors, it has not been a great story because Nigeria had a period of great growth and everyone was incredibly optimistic about the country’s future. I think the downturn on the economy really dampen the prospects. But what I think is important to recognise are the factors that led to it and the factors I believe that are being corrected and will lead us to a better place. The drop in oil price affected a lot of economies globally. I think in Nigeria’s situation, it forces us to be a lot more creative and diversify our economy by looking at other sectors that could be beneficial to our growth. I think that is the new reality that every Nigerian is now facing. I think the over-reliance on oil is a thing that we should really, really make sure that is a thing of the past, because the risk is that now that oil prices are starting to recover, we will go back to the same old habit of being over reliant. I do think it is important for us to know that there are other areas in Nigerian economy that are also seeing some growth. There are much more growth that has been represented by the small and medium size enterprises in Nigeria that are contributing to the overall growth. That is a big talent factor in terms of the prospects of young Nigerians being able to find ways to earn a living for themselves and create avenues to employ other Nigerians, make sure that we can continue to lift the living standards of the country. But the reality is that we are still in “recession phase” and we are slowly getting out of it. With that said, we need to make sure that we have clear growth plan, economic plan for us to get to our full potentials.

What do you think of the non-oil strategies, especially as it relates to diversification? I think the diversification is critical for our country. To be able to outline the diversification strategy and to earn from the diversification strategy, I think that is where there needs to be a lot of focus and thinking about the diversification strategies that are implementable in the short to medium term. This is because these strategies take a long time to be able to trickle all the way down and go all the way up to the people that are also beneficiaries of the economy in the country. So, I think it is great to have a diversification strategy, but I think it is also good to understand the focus in the short term, what area should we focus on that is going to give us the most benefit. It is not just laying out a strategy and thinking it will just come to life. For the strategies to work, government will need to show up to make sure that they are also serving as enabler for the areas to be able to thrive and flourishing

What are your suggestions that can help Nigeria to diversify in the short term? I think in the short term, it is looking at other sectors that can help us gain, not just oil. We need to look at other resources that we have that are in demand globally, that can enable us get away from just oil. I think we have o be reinvesting into our education. It is really unfortunate that, if you look at some of the data, Nigeria has the largest number of young people that are out of school, and they have not even gained any form of education whatsoever. It is unfortunate that future generations will not have the education to be able to feed themselves and also to be able to add to the economy, which means that, overtime, the poverty rate will continue to be a huge challenge in the country.

What are the biggest challenges in increasing the quality and calibre of local production and how do you expect mobile internet to impact media revenue


and profit generation? I think content creation is getting better. In a lot of way, the work that we did also enabled that, especially in youth music, lifestyle, MTV Base. It has been 13 years since we launched MTV base in the marketplace and one of the things we focused on has been able to build capacity when it comes to content creation and having the quality. I think today, unlike 13 years ago, the industry has grown tremendously. There is a lot more capability especially in Nigeria for people creating really amazing contents and as a result, you see young Nigerians and Africans now thriving globally in terms of the kind of contents that we are able to create that other people are wanting to see because the quality is right. I think that

is one of the things we did from the beginning that makes MTV base to be very successful. And I think it enables us to be a key catalyst to what you see that is amazing, which is thriving music videos space, music space where young Nigerians are sort of the best artistes across Africa and that is because we focused on making sure the quality was right. Before we started, Nigerian music videos were very poor, so when young people in Ghana are watching the videos, they will be laughing at the videos and not really listening to the songs. But now, because we have great quality content, it is really thriving and people can now see the creativity of the artiste. Overall, I think quality standards are growing and you see great movies being made from Nigeria. Nollywood is also

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾MARCH 11, 2018



Okosi: Media & Entertainment‘ll Achieve Greater Growth with Digital Migration

Cont’d from Pg. 22

thriving. You will also recognise that the output and quality from our films are rising and rising and becoming important, not only Nigeria, but Africa and globally for people to watch.

Different numbers get thrown around about the potential of Nigerian market yet, the mortality rate of media/entertainment companies remains high, What do you think could be responsible for this? I actually believe that there has been incredible growth in this space, if you look at the number of television stations. For example, I think there has been 40 per cent increase in number of television stations today compared to 10 years ago. Of course, you are going to have those that are able to compete and survive in that space, you will have people that will evolve into other spaces and you will have people that don’t make it. That is what you really want in a thriving economy- that you are going to have that level of competition, because ultimately, what that means is that you have the best outlet out there. Globally as well, there has been an incredible consolidation of media across the board where big entities are getting into joint venture situations so that they can create more synergy and more leverage. That is effectively where the industry is going with much more consolidation of companies coming together. But for some of them that you think failed, some of them didn’t fail, they decided to go into other businesses as part of the evolution, some of them could not compete in the space. But if you look at the overall number, the industry is actually growing, there is much more money and there are less players in the space, but the players in the space are actually thriving and succeeding. There are big names that are no longer existing, but I don’t think the industry is not doing well. I think some of them are either evolving their models or not being able to compete.

What do you think can be done to increase the number of players in the space? There are sectors of course that, just based on human behaviours, have not survived. So, print is a tough business now around the world. Even in developed markets of the world, particularly the U.S, you will see a lot of print outlets that have not survived and it is because we now have the digital devices that now allow us to access the news in much more timely manner and much more cheaper rates. That is what is happening in print space. Print space is not a great example of saying what is happening in the space. I think Nigeria is following the same trend. I think when it comes to radio and digital media, I think the number has been growing consistently. The advertising rates, for instance, in the media across Nigeria has been growing at about 10 to 15 per cent in the last five years. That is great news. That is high growth in a lot of European markets when it comes to that. However, the real challenge is that inflation is also growing. I think that there is still a lot of opportunities in the Nigerian media and entertainment space for growth. For instance, I am a big believer and champion that, we really need to put accurate measurement, real time measurement into our television space where we actually measure the value of content because I still think relying on that really stunt the growth of the space. This is because advertisers are not really investing the kind of money they need to invest based on the fact that they are not shown the value of content they are investing into. That means the market is not growing as it should be growing. Once you put measurement into that space, I actually believe that the space is going to grow three folds overnight because advertisers will now have to have for what they enjoy. But up until now, people rely on word of mouth, which serves a purpose which is not accurate measure of the value which sort of stunt the growth in that kind of space. So, I think things like measurement coming into place, which I know will happen in two to three years, as we migrate from analogue to digital, is going to spread the growth of the sector.

Except for government owned companies, Nigeria cannot boast of any multinational business. What do we say the entrepreneurs in this market should be doing differently? The reality is that not a lot of countries can boast of privately own multinational companies across the continent, but I do think that Nigeria has a great opportunity to develop one. I think the sector is still growing and young. I think now people are investing in media especially now that our content is becoming more valuable in the universe. I don’t think that it is because of lack of efforts, I just think that up until now, the space has not been lucrative. But again, what drives the media and entertainment space? Content ! We now more than ever want to see our own content, experience our own content, whether its music, movie or drama. That is what is going to also drive Nigerian companies to invest into the space to be able to monetise the growth as they see it. Because if you don’t have the content, it will be difficult for you to grow no matter what you do.

According the latest PWC report, revenue from the Nigerian media and entertainment industry will hit $2.8 billion by 2021, do you think this is something to cheer about? And going by your experience in other markets and what you know about Nigeria, is this the


true worth of the Nigerian market? I think it is something to cheer about, because there are two things: Number one, the published data that company like PWC was able to put together in their research, at least, gives the benchmark on which we now debate whether it is accurate or not. Number two, that growth is coming from a low base; it is really an impressive number to think about us getting to that point in 2021. I think the potential is much higher to even make that number much bigger. I think it is going to happen as I mentioned before when things like measurement going to the television space, when our content continues to thrive, when digital migration happen and with the platform of new players entering the space. I think there is opportunity for us to monetise the creativity in the industry in much bigger way. What is good though is, as a country, we are now outputting incredibly high quality content and which I think before that was not the case. Now, there is a demand for the content that comes from Nigeria. Of course that is going to spread the growth in the entertainment space. At the end of the day, the content you watch, the experience you have, the music you listen to, the films you watch, anything that you do, is all about content. So, the more we are able to deliver quality to consumers that they want, that growth, the potentials for it will be much more bigger by 2021 as long as our economy remains stable and people have income to spend on those pieces.

With digital migration, where do you see Nigeria in the media space in the next five years? I think in the next five years, assuming we are able to meet the timeline and able to be fully digital, and assuming the consumer uptake is high, I think it is going to be exponentially beneficial to the Nigerian economy and overall to the Nigerian consumers. What that means is that you are going to have more options and choice, platforms to showcase your content. The reality is unless this content is measured, the value that you need to derived will not be there. So, for me, I think measurement is key, otherwise, no one will fully realise the benefit; what you will have is a whole lot of platforms with bad contents and platforms that are renting space to anyone that

has money and not really focused on quality, but on survival.

Let’s discuss the overview of your current roles at Viacom International Media Networks. How has the experience been? And what are the learning curves for young Nigerians? I think my experience has been incredible. I started my career as a coordinator MTV at the university, New York in 1998. I was able to grow within our US business and worked hard to demonstrate my value to the company. I brought up the idea of launching localised channel in Africa, which is MTV Base. I was lucky and they allowed me to develop a business plan for it and they approved it. I was able to launch the business in Africa with young Africans across the continent. The success of that MTV Base business enabled me to launch other channels that cater to different audiences in different demographies like I mentioned Nickelodeon commissioned to BET. So, I run the network of businesses now. Now, I run 10 channels. On top of that, I have other jobs given the success that we have had where I am most responsible for all our BET international business, which comprises of channels in UK, France, Africa, Korea and we are looking to launch in Australia hopefully soon. I am a very hardworking person with my heart being in whatever I am doing. I am being passionate about success and being able to show that young Africans can run successful businesses. To do it as an entrepreneur is great but also to do it as an African and as part of the global multimedia company and demonstrating that we can success in Africa. It is a success story because it gives you the opportunity not only to create employment for other Africans, but also for other Africans to aspire to do other things with their companies or themselves and thriving in the business space. I think for me, I have learnt a great deal from my journey. I am thankful and grateful for my journey. But I also recognise that we have also done a lot of work to try to shift the narrative to Africa. Before we started, there were no platform that really celebrate talents in a quality way but now, we did that. It is great to see now that there is no better time for African continent. I am sure you have seen Black Panthers. The entire universe is now clamouring for the story that we tell. It’s great to be part of the movement.


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾MARCH 11, 2018

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T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾MARCH 11, 2018






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T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾MARCH 11, 2018


Edited by Demola Ojo Email

Virgin Unveils Hand Baggage Only Fares, Extra Legroom in Economy Demola Ojo


few days ago, Virgin Atlantic announced the launch of three new ways to fly economy as part of a multi-million pound investment in the cabin for the 21st century traveller. The airline has introduced hand baggage only (HBO) fares. It has also announced an upgrade for some economy seats. From spring 2018 (the airline hasn’t stated any specific dates) it will introduce ‘economy delight’ ‘economy classic’ and ‘economy light’ tickets. The three new ways to fly will allow customers to choose the product that suits their budget and travel style – but never compromise on inclusive food and drink, unrivalled service, and inflight entertainment. Economy light is essentially a HBO (hand baggage only) product as already offered by US airline Delta (which owns 49 per cent of Virgin Atlantic). Economy classic is economy as it currently exists, but with free seat assignment and priority check-in and boarding while Economy delight is the most spacious of the options, for those who seek more space. Passengers gain 34 inches of legroom which is three inches more than normal. Although its price will be higher, it will still undercut premium economy where legroom and seat size are larger still. The airline said details on pricing for the new products and the aircraft that will feature the new products will be available at a later date, though CEO Craig Kreeger added that its B787 aircraft would be losing six economy classic seats to make room for more economy delight seats. Says Kreeger,“We’re unveiling the biggest change to our economy cabin in over a decade – launching three new ways to fly and a host of other innovations on the ground and in the air as part of a wider £300 million investment in our customers. Customers can afford to be choosy and still travel in the UK’s leading economy cabin.” Economy delight will offer the leading economy product of any UK airline. As well as extra legroom, it will offer priority check in and boarding as well as advanced seat assignment. Economy classic’s free seating assignment provides extra reassurance for families and groups that they can sit together while an economy light ticket will

Virgin Atlantic’s B787 will feature the new configuration always offerVirgin Atlantic’s lowest fare - making long haul travel affordable and accessible for millennials and customers jetting off on city breaks. “We always want flying with Virgin Atlantic to be more special than other airlines, and we’ll never compromise on excellent service, industry leading food and drink and cutting edge inflight entertainment – regardless of which economy ticket our customers are travelling on, they’ll be able to enjoy all this onboard,”Kreeger continued. Sir Richard Branson, Founder ofVirgin Atlantic, said: “When I started Virgin Atlantic I wanted to challenge the status quo and make flying amazing – regardless of which cabin you’re in - and that’s still true today. We’re unveiling a multimillion pound investment to make Virgin Atlantic’s economy cabin the best of any

UK airline and setting the bar for others to follow.” The three new ways to travel are part of a wider investment in Virgin Atlantic’s economy cabin - delivering innovations on the ground, and in the air: According toVirgin, it is investing in extra legroom at a time when most airlines are packing seats onto planes. The airline is retrofitting its fleet to provide up to 36 economy delight seats on every flight – offering customers an even comfier journey with spacious 34 inch legroom. All customers travelling in economy will continue to enjoy a three course meal plus complimentary drinks and snacks and for the first time, Virgin Atlantic is introducing automated bag drop at London airports, freeing up employees to provide a more personalised service where customers need it most. Four kiosks

Lagos State Releases Culture Calendar


he Lagos State Government has released a calendar of over 70 state-sponsored and endorsed arts and culture programmes slated for the rest of this year in its bid to garner visibility for tourism-oriented programmes. According to the State’s Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, the calendar is designed to frontload public and privately driven arts, culture and entertainment events that will have positive impact on tourism and the image of Lagos as an arts-friendly state. “This initiative is in fulfilment of the State Government’s promise to announce a yearly calendar of events to guide programming, tourists and visitors’ decisions,” he stated. According to Ayorinde, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, kick-started the year with his attendance at Ali Baba’s January 1st Comedy concert at Eko Hotel. Other arts and culture events held in January and February so far and included in the calendar are Angel and Muse, an art exhibition by a Lagostrained world renowned artist; Eebi; a month-long Indigenous Cultural Festival in Epe; Wazobia FM Carnival as well as the Lagos City Marathon among others. The idea of creating a calendar of events for state-sponsored and state-endorsed programmes, is to make event planning, tour bookings and business decisions easier for tour

operators and the general public. The calendar contains most of the well-known indigenous cultural festivals across the state, entertainment events, concerts, visual and performing arts as well as fashion and culinary events. Major events listed in the calendar include Gidi Fest, Lagos Water Regatta and Fanti Carnival around the Easter Period; the International Jazz Day celebration on April 30 which will be dedicated to the South-African Jazz legend, Huge Masekela; the Lagos Comedy Festival (incorporating Lagos Laughs on World Laughter Day) on May 6 and the Eko Art Expo in the last weekend in May. June will be rich with the first ever Lagos Golf Funfair and the Lagos Cinefest, which is designed to take cinema-going experience to all the five divisions of the state. The Lagos Festival of Plays is a major highlight in the third quarter of the year as well as the Lagos Fishing Festival (Oshoroko) in Ibeju-Lekki; Akwaaba Travel Market and Faaji Agba – a special concert for the elderly to mark World Elders Day. October to December will be the most intense period on the calendar with Olokun Festival; MUSON Festival; AFRIMA, AFRIFF; Kayo-Kayo Festival in Epe; the Lagos Luxury Summit/Fair; Felabration, the Lagos Books & Arts Festival (LABAF) which will be used to welcome Lagos into Africa’s Creative Cities club and One Lagos Fiesta which will hold between December 24 and

31st across the five divisions of the state in its forth unbroken year. “The State is grateful to corporate sponsors that will make many of these events happen”Ayorinde says; adding that“our aim is to use the calendar and other strategic initiatives to enrich the entertainment and creative economy as an integral component of tourism promotion.”

will open at London Gatwick this summer, followed by a further 18 kiosks at London Heathrow from winter 2018. Every single seat in economy now offers a personal USB charging point, and every route offers access to high speed Wi-Fi to help customers work and play on the go. Virgin Atlantic and Delta offer the leading transatlantic partnership, and the new economy products will offer a seamless experience for customers travelling with the airlines. economy delight, economy classic and economy light will complement Delta’s Comfort +, Main Cabin and Basic Economy products - always offering a three course meal , Wi-Fi, hundreds of hours of inflight entertainment and excellent service regardless of the ticket type.

‘Nigerian Flavours’ to Showcase Nigerian Delicacies A food festival themed “Nigerian Flavours”is making its debut this week in Abuja. Aimed at showcasing the rich culinary diversity of Nigerian cuisine and delicacies, the festival is an initiative of the Ministry of Information and Culture, in col-

Indaba Open for Registration Registration has opened for Africa’s Travel Indaba, which will transform Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre into a lively hub of activity from May 8 to 10 under the banner Africa’s Stories, Your Success. “We are excited to be moving into 2018 with renewed energy and focus following the rebranding of the show as Africa’s Travel Indaba. This new positioning affirms that the show belongs to the entire African travel industry, and that at its heart is stimulating tourism and inclusive economic development on our continent,”said South African Tourism’s Chief Executive Officer, Sisa Ntshona. According to Ntshona, participants have many enhancements to look forward to at Africa’s Travel Indaba 2018. Africa’s Travel Indaba attracts about 7 000 delegates from all over the world, and last year the trade show bustled with more than 1 000 exhibiting businesses from 18 African

countries, showcasing an array of travel and tourism offerings to almost 1 500 local and international buyers. Evelyn Mahlwaba, General Regional Manager looking after the Africa region at South African Tourism, added that Africa’s Travel Indaba is an important business to business marketing platform that facilitates business growth for travel trade partners across the continent. “Last year’s group of buyers achieved admirable business successes that we hope to build on in 2018 for the benefit of not only South Africa’s tourism industry but also for the continent as a whole,” she said. Buyers from the following countries attended and participated at INDABA last year, Angola, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

laboration with the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in line with the objectives of the “Tour Nigeria”. “Tour Nigeria” is a brand of the NTDC, which was conceived to drive domestic consumption of Nigeria’s tourism assets and products, create new channels of tourism markets, generate employment and increase spending in the economy. It also aims at promoting domestic and international tourism to Nigeria by ensuring that the nation takes advantage of her population, its density, its wealth and its unique culture. Highlights of the historic event, slated to hold at Harrow Park, Wuse 2, Abuja, FCT on Saturday, (March 17) include participation of over 60 food and beverage vendors across the six geo-political zones, musical performance by Nigerian Artists, merchandizing opportunities for arts, crafts and fashion, safe children’s games area, affordable farmers’ market, great comedy and more. According to the NTDC, Nigerian Flavours promises to showcase the diverse gastronomy of Nigeria and promote Abuja as a destination for fun, hospitality and relaxation.


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R Ëž ͚͚Ë&#x153;ͺ͸͚Î&#x20AC;


Nigerian Stock Exchange Boss Calls for Acceleration of Gender Equality Goddy Egene The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mr. Oscar Onyema has called for the acceleration of gender equality, saying women and men must take bold steps towards closing the gender gap. Onyema made this call while speaking at a symposium organised to celebrate International Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Day 2018   at the stock exchange in Lagos on Thursday.

In line with the global theme for this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s celebration, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Press for progress,â&#x20AC;? the NSEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s symposium was designed to motivate and unite everyone to think, act and be gender inclusive. The event brought together over 200 women and men from the NSE, listed companies, dealing member firms, media, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), civil societies and government, to discuss how to help women realise their dreams.

A Mutual fund (Unit Trust) is an investment vehicle managed by a SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) registered Fund Manager. Investors with similar objectives buy units of the Fund so that the Fund Manager can buy securities that willl generate their desired return. An ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) is a type of fund which owns the assets (shares of stock, bonds, oil futures, gold bars, foreign currency, etc.) and divides ownership of those assets into shares. Investors can buy these â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;sharesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; on the

Speaking at the symposium,   the NSE boss said:    â&#x20AC;&#x153;This yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s theme is not just another theme for another edition of the International womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s day. It is a call to action to spur women and men into taking bold steps towards closing the gender gap.â&#x20AC;?    â&#x20AC;&#x153;At the NSE, we are playing our part in helping to achieve gender parity. Today, we have a female to male employeesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ratio of 1:2 and we are taking key steps to increase the

floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. A REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) is an investment vehicle that allows both small and large investors to part-own real estate ventures (eg. Offices, Houses, Hospitals) in proportion to their investments. The assets are divided into shares that are traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. GUIDE TO DATA: Date: All fund prices are quoted in Naira as at 8-Mar-2018, unless otherwise stated.

number of women in our employ, especially those in leadership positions. Early this year, we promoted Ms. Tinuade Awe to Executive Director, Regulations, and consequently she is the number two person at the exchange. More importantly, the exchange took steps to address the lack of female representation on its National Council, by electing three eminent female members at the last AGM. Today, we have 23 per cent female representation as against

zero per cent representation in 2016,â&#x20AC;? Onyema added. In her keynote address, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils, commended the NSE for setting out a day    to celebrate women. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I want to thank the CEO of the Stock Exchange for making this day happen â&#x20AC;&#x201C; not all Stock Exchanges across the world hold a day like today to celebrate women,â&#x20AC;? she said. She called for resilience in the pursuit of gender equality,

saying   we must not grow tired because change is not happening fast enough.  â&#x20AC;&#x153;We must not be afraid to rock the boat. We need more women on every table where decisions are made. We must push the private sector to do a lot better than it currently is. And we all, each and every one of us, in our families, our communities, our work place and in our politics, we all have a role to play in pressing for change,â&#x20AC;? she stated.

Offer price: The price at which units of a trust or ETF are bought by investors. Bid Price: The price at which Investors redeem (sell) units of a trust or ETF. Yield/Total Return: Denotes the total return an investor would have earned on his investment. Money Market Funds report Yield while others report Year- to-date Total Return. NAV: Is value per share of the real estate assets held by a REIT on a specific date.

DAILY PRICE LIST FOR MUTUAL FUNDS, REITS and ETFS MUTUAL FUNDS / UNIT TRUSTS AFRINVEST ASSET MANAGEMENT LTD Web:; Tel: +234 1 270 1680 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn Afrinvest Equity Fund 195.06 195.64 9.33% Nigeria International Debt Fund 245.62 246.21 5.97% ALTERNATIVE CAPITAL PARTNERS LTD Web:, Tel: +234 1 291 2406, +234 1 291 2868 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn ACAP Canary Growth Fund 0.86 0.87 5.03% ACAP Income Funds 0.63 0.63 4.26% AIICO CAPITAL LTD Web:, Tel: +234-1-2792974 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn AIICO Money Market Fund 100.00 100.00 15.85% ARM INVESTMENT MANAGERS LTD Web:; Tel: 0700 CALLARM (0700 225 5276) Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn ARM Aggressive Growth Fund N/A N/A N/A ARM Discovery Fund N/A N/A N/A ARM Ethical Fund N/A N/A N/A ARM Money Market Fund N/A N/A N/A AXA MANSARD INVESTMENTS LIMITED Web:; Tel: +2341-4488482 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn AXA Mansard Equity Income Fund 166.28 167.45 9.62% AXA Mansard Money Market Fund 1.00 1.00 15.69% CHAPELHILL DENHAM MANAGEMENT LTD Web:, Tel: +234 461 0691 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn Chapelhill Denham Money Market Fund 100.00 100.00 14.95% Paramount Equity Fund 12.95 13.29 4.79% Women's Investment Fund 103.08 105.73 2.44% CORDROS ASSET MANAGEMENT LIMITED Web:, Tel: 019036947 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn Cordros Money Market Fund N/A N/A N/A CORONATION ASSEST MANAGEMENT , Tel: 012366215 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn Coronation Money Market Fund 1.00 1.00 15.32% Coronation Balanced Fund 1.11 1.13 5.71% Coronation Fixed Income Fund 1.09 1.12 5.51% FBNQUEST ASSET MANAGEMENT LTD Web:; Tel: +234-81 0082 0082 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn FBN Fixed Income Fund 1,183.65 1,184.81 3.12% FBN Heritage Fund 150.34 151.75 7.87% FBN Money Market Fund 100.00 100.00 15.10% FBN Nigeria Eurobond (USD) Fund - Institutional $114.71 $115.31 1.62% FBN Nigeria Eurobond (USD) Fund - Retail $114.69 1.69% FBN Nigeria Smart Beta Equity Fund 186.53 189.56 9.30% FIRST CITY ASSET MANAGEMENT LTD Web:; Tel: +234 1 462 2596 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn Legacy Equity Fund 1.42 1.45 8.74% Legacy Debt Fund 2.95 2.95 2.50% FSDH ASSET MANAGEMENT LTD Web:; Tel: 01-270 4884-5; 01-280 9740-1 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn Coral Growth Fund 3,165.92 3,207.29 6.19% Coral Income Fund 2,535.98 2,535.98 3.66% GREENWICH ASSET MANAGEMENT LIMITED Web: ; Tel: +234 1 4619261-2 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn Greenwich Plus Money Market Fund 100.00 100.00 15.85% INVESTMENT ONE FUNDS MANAGEMENT LTD Web:; Tel: +234 812 992 1045,+234 1 448 8888 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn Abacus Money Market Fund 1.00 1.00 14.94% Vantage Balanced Fund 2.20 2.23 4.60% Vantage Guaranteed Income Fund 1.00 1.00 17.93% Kedari Investment Fund (KIF) 117.66 118.01 2.29%

LOTUS CAPITAL LTD ďŹ Web:; Tel: +234 1-291 4626 / +234 1-291 4624 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn Lotus Halal Investment Fund 1.16 1.18 1.20% Lotus Halal Fixed Income Fund 1,056.00 1,056.00 2.42% MERISTEM WEALTH MANAGEMENT LTD Web: ; Tel: +234 1-4488260 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn Meristem Equity Market Fund 16.98 17.14 20.48% Meristem Money Market Fund 10.00 10.00 14.24% PAC ASSET MANAGEMENT LTD Web:; Tel: +234 1 271 8632 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn PACAM Balanced Fund 1.30 1.32 9.11% PACAM Fixed Income Fund 11.37 11.47 3.21% PACAM Money Market Fund 10.00 10.00 13.14% SCM CAPITAL LIMITED Web:; Tel: +234 1-280 2226,+234 1- 280 2227 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn SCM Capital Frontier Fund 143.33 145.57 11.18% SFS CAPITAL NIGERIA LTD Web:, Tel: +234 (01) 2801400 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn SFS Fixed Income Fund 1.53 1.53 2.92% STANBIC IBTC ASSET MANAGEMENT LTD Web:; Tel: +234 1 280 1266; 0700 MUTUALFUNDS Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn Stanbic IBTC Balanced Fund 2,400.90 2,420.41 7.03% Stanbic IBTC Bond Fund 178.66 178.66 1.25% Stanbic IBTC Ethical Fund 1.11 1.13 10.89% Stanbic IBTC Guaranteed Investment Fund 228.17 228.27 3.62% Stanbic IBTC Iman Fund 194.59 196.82 8.66% Stanbic IBTC Money Market Fund 100.00 100.00 14.87% Stanbic IBTC Nigerian Equity Fund 10,580.41 10,726.13 9.43% Stanbic IBTC Dollar Fund (USD) 1.08 1.08 1.89% UNITED CAPITAL ASSET MANAGEMENT LTD Web:; Tel: +234 803 306 2887 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn United Capital Balanced Fund 1.34 1.36 0.80% United Capital Bond Fund 1.60 1.60 2.35% United Capital Equity Fund 1.01 1.03 9.93% United Capital Money Market Fund 1.00 1.00 13.87% United Capital Eurobond Fund 104.05 104.05 1.11% United Capital Wealth for Women Fund 1.13 1.13 3.45% ZENITH ASSETS MANAGEMENT LTD Web:; Tel: +234 1-2784219 Fund Name Bid Price Offer Price Yield / T-Rtn Zenith Equity Fund 13.42 13.62 7.35% Zenith Ethical Fund 14.07 14.24 6.72% Zenith Income Fund 19.56 19.56 3.40% Zenith Money Market Fund 1.00 1.00 13.40%


Yield / T-Rtn

10.00 133.97

-11.35% 1.14%

Bid Price

Offer Price

Yield / T-Rtn

12.70 167.04 123.22

12.79 170.64 125.52

4.72% 16.97% 12.79%

Fund Name FSDH UPDC Real Estate Investment Fund SFS Skye Shelter Fund

EXCHANGE TRADED FUNDS Fund Name Lotus Halal Equity Exchange Traded Fund SIAML Pension ETF 40 Stanbic IBTC ETF 30 Fund

VETIVA FUND MANAGERS LTD Web:; Tel: +234 1 453 0697 Fund Name Vetiva Banking Exchange Traded Fund Vetiva Consumer Goods Exchange Traded Fund Vetiva GrifďŹ n 30 Exchange Traded Fund Vetiva Industrial Goods Exchange Traded Fund Vetiva S&P Nigeria Sovereign Bond Exchange Traded Fund Bid Price

Offer Price

Yield / T-Rtn

5.70 9.89 19.79 23.02 154.06

5.74 9.97 19.89 23.22 155.78

20.24% 3.37% 11.42% 16.92% 3.58%

The value of investments and the income from them may fall as well as rise. Past performance is a guide and not an indication of future returns. Fund prices published in this edition are also available on each fund managerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website and FMANâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website at Fund prices are supplied by the operator of the relevant fund and are published for information purposes only.

T H I S D AY ˾ SUNDAY MARCH 11, 2018










PRINCE OF THE SILVER SCREEN Popular notion posits that many who take leave of their professions to serve in government are almost never able to return to their original calling. Richard Mofe-Damijo speaks to Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Vanessa Obioha about how he broke that stereotype and his new role as brand ambassador for Johnnie Walker


n the ground floor of the South Eatery Social House at Victoria Island in Lagos, things were just beginning to get more casual. The period of posing prim and proper on the red carpet for paparazzis was over. Most people were drifting towards the bar to grab a drink. There were various Whisky cocktails in view and everyone was eager to taste them. A buzz of conversations, from excited individuals, now forming themselves into informal groups of twos and threes, was building up like a low rumbling tide across the eatery. They were mostly friends of Richard Mofe-Damijo cutting across his various vocations as an actor, politician, publisher and lawyer. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going on now?â&#x20AC;? asked a guest who had just arrived. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They are just mingling. Getting to know themselves over drinks before we go upstairs for the proper dinner,â&#x20AC;? answered a lady who was in a black dress and looked like one of the organisers of the event. Richard, better known as, RMD to many fans, is a folk hero-greatly admired for his achievements in acting in Africa, particularly in Nigeria. Dressed in a black dinner suit with satin facings on the jacketâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lapels and a comparable satin

stripe on the side of the trousers, everyone wanted to pose for photos with him and he was doing well obliging; not that he could turn them down, anyway, as they were known faces. At some point during the dinner, the jacket came off to reveal a double-breasted waistcoat which had gold buttons worn over a white shirt. He never went back to wear the jacket again for the duration of the dinner. Although one of the managers from Guinness Nigeria Plc who introduced him said he will be Master-ofCeremony at the event he was being honoured, he did not appear in the least ruffled. His face softened in a smile, even as he bent over for courteous pecks on the cheek (from ladies). The mat of low-cropped facial hair covering a dimpled cheek which was once his signature mark of physical attraction looked like a tissue of soft white wool. He must have been amused at the dual role of host and honouree. The only thing that betrayed his anxiety was that he could not keep still; just sit until his attention was really needed. With the presence of former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta



MARCH 11, 2018 ˾T H I S DAY, T H E S U N DAY N E W S PA P E R

COVER State who RMD served as a Commissioner and a colleague in that cabinet, Mr. Chike Ogeah, his subdued apprehension that things go well was understandable. But everyone in the gathering was distinguished in their own right. From brands expert Charles O’tudor, to publisher and politician, Dele Momodu; Mr. Emeka Mba, immediate past director general of the Nigeria Communications Commission; jazz promoter, Oti Bazunu; copyright lawyer Mena Ajakpovi; actresses Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde and Kate Henshaw; online publisher, Ono Bello; art and culture promoter, Ugoma Adegoke; media owner and film producer, Mo Abudu; THISDAY Style fashion director/executive editor, Ruth Osime; entertainment entrepreneur, Don Jazzy; and radio enterpreneur, Chris Ubosi, it was an all-star dinner fitting for Nigeria’s leading Prince of the Silver Screen. The gathering of distinguished ladies and gentlemen was to celebrate RMD’s latest decoration as Johnnie Walker Brand Ambassador. He joins entertainment businessman, Don Jazzy, in this distinguished category. This was unlike the many awards he has won in over three decades of acting. It is impossible to say how many people believed when he said the story of Johnnie Walker is the story of his life. He will be halted more than once by a loose cannon of a banter fired by unidentified persons in the assembly. The teasing remark would provoke a round of boisterous laughter. Commending everyone to enjoy the evening, he ended his submission thus:“Where I come from, drink no dey catch person. When you tire, you stop.” Everyone who proposed a toast to RMD experienced this barging with mockery. But the real salvo of sarcasm ((largely g y from mischievous men)) was reserved for the female staff of Guinness who had the ta ask of task demonstrating how to enjo oy the enjoy “Swirl Johnnie Walker whisky. “S Swirl the drink around in your glass g to open the flavor and it b bring up to your nose. Sniff dee eply. deeply. Inhale deeply. Take a sip and roll it around your tongu ue. Hold tongue. it. Don’t swallow just yet t.” She yet.” above had to raise her voice abo ove the rising din to return atten ntion attention to her. And then she wo ould be would shocked by their wicke ed sense wicked of humour. But she too ok it took all in nh eerr sstride, ttrrid ide, d laugh hing. her laughing. The ev The Th eevening eve ven enin ing co ing ccontinued on nttinueed with

much appetising foods, more drinks and lively music by the Lagos Jazz Series Band. As he was distracted by many who sought his attention, we secured an appointment for interview on a future date, which was just a few days after the dinner. This time, we met by a waterside resort inside Lekki Phase 1. RMD, 57, was wearing an Ankara top and trouser with leather slippers. His manager, Nina was with him. It is doubtful if she was born when he started acting. Not minding the age difference between them, he obeys her. without question. More than once, Nina moved the interview team around until she was satisfied she had a perfect background for photo opportunity. Nina is the head of the 11 staff who work for RMD. His workforce are in their late twenties and mid-thirties. Relating with the younger generation has always been easy for RMD. His summation is interesting. “I think that you are only as old as you allow yourself. I have an incredible team of young people. I don’t have anybody in their forties that work with me. The oldest is just a bit above 30. That way, they look at me in the eye and say, ‘Papa this is not right. This is how it works now’. With social media, I was very reluctant participant but I also got to see many values in it when it is used right. If I cannot stay in a church and teach Sunday School anymore or say something that will affect people positively, I can say it on social media, even if I have just two followers, those ones will probably see it and it will resonate. I speak most times from my personal experiences. They are purely life lessons. “No matter the age, I’m never afraid to start again. For the younger people, I have been able to relate with them maybe because I had children quite early in life. Dealing with y kids meant having g to understand p p my people within their age. If I am relating with someone in his or her thirties, I’m relating with my kids. Same with people in their teens. That’s how I see it. When you are an actor, everybody sees you and thinks you are young even when they see your old films. There are people who see me and say ‘hi RMD.’ If I’m in close quarters, I tell them that should be ‘uncle RMD’ to you. Or ‘hi Richard’. I don’t take that. That’s where I’m different. I’m not American or British. You You older, can’t call me by my first name if I’m old der er,, unless I work with you in a space where we are supposed to be on a first-name basis. You have to earn the privilege to call me by my first name if I’m older than you. I’m 57, how dare you look at me and call mee Richard? Did d you give me the name? I try

to make sure that I draw the line in trying to be nice and accessible to young people.” His newest role as Johnnie Walker Ambassador places quite a few demands on him. A new TV series titled ‘Whisky Tales’ is in view. Whisky Tales beams the light on parallels whisky shares with everyday life. The awardwinning actor, RMD, plays the lead role. The show will also deliver subtle whisky education to viewers. He explains further, “It goes beyond just promoting drinks. More than anything else, it is the reward. It is more about striving above your situation in life. What I love about this whole Johnnie Walker thing is what the man’s life represents. It’s ironic that you have a man like Johnnie Walker and you can equate it with walking. It just symbolises man’s continuous progress. And they have succeeded in building most of their campaigns around progressing with joy. Whatever you do, do it with so much joy and passion even as you step from one ladder unto the other. It’s not about the drink or drinking, it’s about being able to rise above your situation. That’s why it resonates with me. At one point in my life, I was able to reinvent, it’s about not stopping. So you have prayed, washed your hands, prepared yourself, so move, take the first step. In Warri, we have a saying that goes ‘carry waka better pass carry siddon’. Because for the average Warri boy, if you sit down in one place, chances are nothing comes to you, but if you just keep moving, chances are you will walk into something or something will work onto you. Along the way of life, RMD has been an actor, politician, writer, lawyer and poet, but he likes to keep it simple by insisting that he likes to be known as an actor, for it was the study of Theatre Arts at the University of Benin, going g p p against the expectations of his parents as the only male child in a family of 17 that opened the opportunities for his other roles. “I’m an actor because that’s what everybody knows me as. I’m a qualified lawyer, a communicator. I do corporate communications, government relations, public operationss aand nd I give g

opinions on legal matters when it concerns trademarks and intellectual property. I’m that kind of person that must be juggling three or four things at the same time to maintain a balance.” However, RMD’s responsibility as a father and husband ranks high on his scale of importance, perhaps a notch higher or at par with his role as a Sunday school teacher. For him, it is very serious business when he is playing dad and hubby. He is not acting it. His family of five children and two grandchildren mean the world to him. And he is so grateful to his wife, Jumobi, who used to be an OAP at Raypower 100.5FM but now works at Globacom for making the personal sacrifice to stay at the background. “She believes that one star in the family is enough. Somebody has to step away from the limelight. She is just an incredible and indispensable part of my life. That’s the support system that I enjoy. She is constantly busy but she will rather stay away from the limelight. She wouldn’t even let me post her picture on social media pages. She’s just an amazing woman with a very clear agenda on how she wants to run her life as opposed to mine that is in the media.” The Warri environment from which RMD emerged to become one of Nigeria’s authentic and enduring superstar is too complicated to produce a controversy free hero. Is the essential RMD character without blemish? How does he handle the strong pull between him and female fans? If they were to start a #MeToo movement in Nigeria, would he be mentioned? Without mincing words and barely waiting for end of the question, his response was rapid. “I will only be mentioned absolutely in glowing terms. I produced two films in my very active years. I was more in front of the camera. I get cast like any other person. Only Norbert Young and Dede Mabiaku,, have done less films that I have done until date, in spite of the fact that I have spent 34 years in this business, I have not done 100 movies. That’s what some people do in six months. I have always chosen deliberately well. well I just don’t jump into a role because it is offered to me. I have probably turned down 20 times more roles than I have accepted. I’m not afraid to say that. I wasn’t one of those who were in a position to sit down and say ‘oh I need to cast you in a film but before I will cast you, I need you to visit me somewhere’ I think that by having the fear of God, I have conducted mysel myself in a way that I will never be ashamed in this industry.” “Have you ever abused a woman?”, we asked. “I have never had the need to. I’m not saying this to be boastful. I think I was well brought up by my mother. You don’t raise a hand on a woman. You will be provoked just like any other m ma n. I’m happy to say that man. I have conducted myself in ways that I can never rregret. egret. I want to be able t look at my children to and not be ashamed ashamed. I’m a strict disciplinarian when it comes to my children. They know I


MARCH 11, 2018 ˾T H I S DAY, T H E S U N DAY N E W S PA P E R


The gathering to honour RMD

don’t mess around. I will roll on the floor with them, do high-fives, my kids do the ‘hi dad’ too. But when it comes to the bad sides, they stay in line because as cool as I am, my values are old school. For me when you get to your liberation stage, you can do whatever. I have kids who are in their 30s. The last one is 13 years old. I don’t have any qualms in saying that I have never abused a woman.” The most interesting part of this story should be how RMD was able to take leave of acting and then make a come-back as if he never went away in the first place. But it may be frustrating to those who do not believe that there is a Higher Force that orchestrates what happens to man. RMD who has switched his place of worship from Rev. Chris Okotie’s Household of God to Rev. Sam Adeyemi’s, Daystar Church does not believe that one thing just leads to another. For him, there is an undeniable Godfactor. This narrative illustrates it. “I had gone on a routine health check. Part of the things that happened to me in Asaba (where he served as commissioner in Delta State for eight years) was gradually turning from a very physically active life to one of working round the clock and eating midnight food. My entire lifestyle changed. I had gone for a routine health check and I was overweight. This female doctor looked at me and said ‘RMD what happened to you. I used to have a crush on you when you were younger. With your family history and the way you are going...’ That day, I left the Delta State University Teaching Hospital at Oghara, on the drive home, I resolved to change my lifestyle. I started dieting. “This also happened towards the end of my stay as a commissioner in Asaba. People started saying all kinds of things; that I’m terminally ill. In Nigeria, when you are in a certain kind of position, if you are not fat or chubby, then you are suffering, even if I kept saying I was in the best shape of my life, nobody wanted to listen. Something dramatic also happened. When I started to diet, I got an offer to shoot a Niger Delta story about a reluctant militant and I had turned it down because I was serving. I didn’t see how I was going to...but we got a special request from the presidency that they wanted me to be the one to shoot it. So, I got the permission and I went to shoot it. “For me, it was like a turning point. It was divine, because after that everything just turned around. More artistic things kept happening to me. I was having this walk one day and I heard it very clearly ‘My son, you are done here’. It was very clear to me so when my boss asked me what I wanted to do after service, I said as you are leaving, I am leaving. I’m happy to leave. As we left, it was as if the script were all piled up and waiting for me.” Popular notion posits that many who take leave of the professions to serve in government are almost never able to return to their original calling. If it were an artistic role, RMD would be the first to break that stereotype. To him, it was a most natural transition that he did not struggle with. “It will be arrogant of me to say that I just did one thing or had this plan that I executed. No, it’s pure grace. I am also aware that I love what I do. I began a movement many years ago when one had become even much more than an actor by standing up everywhere at every time there was an opportunity to say I’m an actor. That’s what I am. Even as a politician or as somebody that served in the government, when people see me, they say, ‘ actor’ I wanted to give it a definition that did not in any way denigrate it or me or put me in a certain box. When you say someone is an actor, you don’t

L-R: RMD, Mo Abudu and AY

…with Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde

Charles O’Tudor and RMD

mean somebody who is a less achiever or who hasn’t achieved anything. I should be able to stand up and sit with my peers in whatever profession they are. Whether they are engineers or businessmen or entrepreneurs or whatever, I should be able to stand up where all my mates have gathered when they are introducing themselves, I should be able to stand up and say I’m an actor and nobody will look down at what I do. “Coming back to the profession that I love, I guess the passion and respect that I give to

the expression, also enables me to carry it with a certain grace and dignity because that’s my work and because I carry it with all that passion and grace, God blesses it. I didn’t for one minute pause to think that why should a former commissioner for eight years come back to be an actor? No, because in my head I never made any switch to say that being a commissioner is a more noble thing than being an actor. So you have to understand that. When I made that peace within myself, I walked back right into what I used to do because if I didn’t have

the visibility that I had as an actor or a theatre practitioner or a creative mind, I wouldn’t have been seen or head-hunted to come and serve in the first place. When you see or say RMD, what everybody will remember first is an actor. So what is there to hide or be shy about?” When he was commissioner, RMD was portrayed in some quarters as snobbish and not much of a help to his colleagues in the movie industry. Now, he tapped the table strongly and was willing to take a bet if he was not seen as having left an indelible mark. “I think I have to just address this. In Delta State, I ran the Delta talent quest for music, dance, for acting and comedy. All of these things were done by Sammie Okposo, Nobert Young, Ali Baba, Opa Williams, Patrick Doyle, as many as possible. They all came in. There is no major Nigerian musician...I think we had more concerts in Asaba than any other state including Cross River State. We hosted more events in eight years than any state and I stand to be corrected. We had the best venue in Asaba. Delta State was the Mecca of every musician and comedian. Till today, when they see me, they cry that they haven’t been to Delta State since we left. Uduaghan (former Governor of Delta State) was a lover of entertainment and the arts and he proved it by making sure that there was always some kind of engagement. Outside of ‘The Experience’, ‘Delta Yada’ was the other biggest stage for gospel artistes.” Although, this conversation took place by a serene waterside and it was sundown, there was no whisky to indulge in. All the same, he went over another seeming happenstance that strengthens his faith in God. “I was at a bar in Las Vegas with Kemi Adetiba. And she took this lovely picture of me. After she sent me the picture and I posted it, she said this picture was like an advertising picture. These people should make you a brand ambassador. We laughed about it. As at that time, I didn’t know or had not met anyone in Johnnie Walker. One or two years down the line, I got a call to be among the people that will go to Scotland and be an influencer for Johnnie Walker. That’s how it started. So life imitated art as it were. When I think about it, I just smile, it’s really been an incredible journey when I remember this whole thing. I have an elder cousin that I lived with. His name is Whiskey. For some reason, my Aunty used to sell whisky and other alcoholic beverages. So, as I grew up and started hobnobbing in the social circle, I have been very blessed in the kind of company that I keep. I have had a very rare privilege of moving in certain circles where people who appreciate finer things of life have allowed me into their circle. I have picked up some habit like loving fine dining, good things and fine wines. When you are a creative mind, you get to meet some of these people and some of their habits rub off on you. I have always been a big fan of Professor Wole Soyinka. All I wanted to do was have a house in the middle of the forest like him and be on the world stage and command the kind of respect that he does and to be able to appreciate fine dining and all of that. I’ve had all those influences in my life and I appreciate it. These things have availed me in my everyday interaction and engagement. “Flashback to many years ago when I published Mr. Magazine. I had a column called ‘Wines and Spirits’. I have written about drinks all my adult life and I have kept most of the civilised company you can find. I have been taken to cellars, deep down underground, places where not every mortal go. I like to do the wine trail when I go to South Africa. I have done the whisky immersion in Scotland. Johnnie Walker is my drink of choice.”




Babatunde George Gives Hope to the Hopeless Funke Olaode


onfident and looking sharp in a white shirt and pencil black trousers, Babatunde George, who is better known as Sri George welcomes this reporter to his cozy office. Looking at him today, it is not easy to believe he was once a factory worker and a motor boy. Like prophet who saw tomorrow, George, sprung a surprise on the world from a disadvantaged background by weathering the storm of adversity to emerge a renowned inspirational speaker and psychologist. Born into a family with rich experience in spiritualism, Sri Georgeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s father hails from Kogi state, while his mother is a Deltan. Georgeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s current outlook has been shaped by many influences, which he hinted at, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have always associated with people who are older and better experienced. Many of them are leaders of faith based organizations. They taught me a lot about the power of the mind. Thus, I became aware of people really are.â&#x20AC;? On how he reached an enviable height in his chosen career, George quipped, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have referrals for my work from people outside Nigeria. There is nobody I cannot identify with. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t judge people but to tell them to embrace the better life. Anybody who is abused should work on his image and they can recover by thinking of people who are their role models.. Traversing a number of cultures, George is fascinated Eastern philosophies which he said is about the oldest in the world. He has been studying it since the age of 13. Born in Warri Delta state, he attended schools in Lagos and Ibadan. He would later get a degree in Psychology from the University of Ibadan. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I practice Yoga education too. My type of Psychology is very rare in this part of the world. Most people recommend antidepressant, but I give you an image to work with. â&#x20AC;&#x153;An Educational system or institution that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t teach a student about himself, his soul, the higher faculties of his mind, and how to discover his purpose and God given


potential, as well as how to use his mind power to be, do and have anything he desires without violating other peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rights and disobeying the laws of the land is criminal. We need restructure that system of education. The lack of these factors that I talked about in education creates a very big loophole.â&#x20AC;? George believes, the battered image of Nigerians can be reversed for good if we understand who we are and what we are capable of doing. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Nobody wants to identify with Nigeria because of the level of our

waywardness, corruption and immoralities. We jettisoned communal life to alien ways of doing things. We are a people bonded by communal lifestyle and cultural heritage but we have bungled that unique moral compass. We must know our true identity. We hide a lot from our children. We need to allow our children ask questions.â&#x20AC;? According to George, nobody is a write-off. To overcome this syndrome, he tasked them use heir past negative experiences as a guide. â&#x20AC;&#x153;People focus more on negative things of life

instead of the positive angle. We have been negatively programmed. We should always consult our past success to motivate us and not depress us.â&#x20AC;? Having coached various personalities, both the high and mighty, the lowly and unheard, he highlighted theinstructive thing about these people. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have coached a lot of people in the entertainment and politics. Nobody is absolutely bad. You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what they go through. Politics is an obligatory calling, Nigeria is not as bad as people see it. A number of politicians are doing well. They are from the same society with same upbringing. Situations change them. Nigeria is a work in progress. Our leaders are also conscious of leaving a legacy but the society we live in is very funny. You need money to win elections. You have to buy votes. Until Nigerians atop collecting money from politicians, we wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get it right. With his coaching prowess, he said â&#x20AC;&#x153;I live everyday like I wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see the next day. I want to inspire people as an intellectual philanthropist. I have coached over 10, 000 students in Oyo state alone in recent times and I will continue to do so. The people who need the coaching most, according to him are the celebrities, politicians and influencers because they are the role models. They have the power to sway the populace because whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps, and whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursue it.. My focus is in the entertainment sector. I want it to achieve a number of things through diverse areas of human endeavours. Competent people are abound in Nigeria. So many people are afraid to reveal whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going on inside of them due to the circumstances surrounding their environment. Majority of parents donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care about the psychological wellbeing of their children which is the very reason why we have so many challenges in our society today. So many parents especially African parents care more about their childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s school grades, physical health and care less of their emotional and mental condition.

Wood, Dorman Long Partner on Maintenance Delivery


t a well-attended cocktail event at the British High Commission office in Lagos, leading brand in the delivery of project, engineering and technical services to energy and industrial markets Wood; and Nigerian-headquartered, Dorman Long Engineering Limited (Dorman Long), signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to jointly provide their maintenance services in the Gulf of Guinea. Bringing together the companiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; expertise and comprehensive range of services supporting the maintenance of offshore and onshore oil and gas facilities across the asset life cycle, the MOA will strategically support customer demand for greater efficiencies and enhanced innovations. During the announcement which was witnessed by Dave Stewart, CEO of Woodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Asset Solutions business in Europe, Africa, Asia & Australia, said: â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are a global company that is committed to acting locally and we recognise the development of in-country relationships and expertise, as fundamental to our successful delivery. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This collaboration with Dorman Long combines our four decades of experience providing maintenance services to the oil and gas sector with their deep local knowledge and talent. Our focus will be drawing together our strengths to support onshore and offshore assets, in particular focusing on safely

extending the life of assets, reducing costs and improving productivity.â&#x20AC;? Dr. Timi Austen-Peters, Chairman of Dorman Long, also added: â&#x20AC;&#x153;This collaborative relationship with Wood will deliver clear benefits to the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oil and gas operators. Wood brings a fresh perspective to our business through their long-term experience providing maintenance services across global markets. This MOA positions us to deliver

excellent services in the oil and gas, power and technology industries, while making a larger contribution to Nigeria in general and host communities in particular. It will result in our recruiting many Nigerian youth and providing them with first class on-the job training.â&#x20AC;? The two companies have a rich repertoire. While Wood operates in more than 60 countries, employing around 55,000 people, with revenues of over $10 billion, Dorman

Long Engineering Limited is the only West African company to consistently hold and maintain ASME certification, in addition to being an IS09001 certified company. Originally formed by Arthur Dorman and Albert de Lande Long in 1875 with their steel works in England, Dorman Long has operated in Nigeria since 1949, and is today one of the oldest and most respected fabrication and construction companies in Africa.

L â&#x20AC;&#x201C; R: Vice President Wood Africa, Jim Beveridge; Operations Director Wood Africa ; Steve Mutch , British Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission Lagos. Mrs. Laure BeauďŹ ls, Chairman Dorman Long Engineering Limited; Dr. Timi Austen-Peters and Director Wood Africa ; Dr JeďŹ&#x20AC; McDonald and Managing Director Dorman Long Engineering Limited ; Mr. Giorgio Macchiavello


                       Ëž MARCH 11, 2018


with LEKAN FATODU 08060140882

â&#x20AC;ŚHappenings Around the Diaspora

How UK-based Nigerian Entreprenuer Tolulope Ogunsina Rejected Investorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ÂŁ100,000 Lekan Fatodu


t was a rare sight that got the UK viewing public completely stunned and left the fear-inducing multimillionaire investors that constitute the Dragonsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; on the famous businessoriented BBC TV show, Dragonsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Den, totally gobsmacked. Nigerian Tolulope Ogunsina and his two partners, Austrians Paul Varga and Matthäus Ittner, the trio who became friends during their study at the University College London (UCL), had approached the super-rich investors on the Dragonsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Den show to invest ÂŁ100,000 in their innovative mobile-game app business to help boost marketing, having made good outing in countries like Austria and Germany. The smart entrepreneurs had built the tested and steadily growing mobile app called Playbrush. The app was designed to bring a lot of fun to childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s experience of brushing their teeth. Thus they made an impressive pitch to the Dragons for an investment of ÂŁ100,000 in exchange for 1 per cent equity in the business. Surprisingly, four of the Dragons offered to give Ogunsina and his partners the sum they requested for, an unusual gesture by the tough investors. But they asked that the young entrepreneurs should give

Tolulope and partners

much larger share from the business than the proposed meagre 1 per cent. But to the utter shock of the influential Dragons, the tech-innovators suggested that they could only do 1.25 per cent. And when it was obvious the investors were still expecting more, the three friends

turned down the Dragons. Not just stopping at completely rejecting the fearsome Dragons, Ogunsina, speaking on behalf of his friends suggested that they would be pleased to have one of the Dragons on an advisory role in their business in which

the evidently uncomfortable Dragons replied that the entrepreneurs had come for investment not for an adviser. Meanwhile Ogunsina and his friends have sealed a worthy deal with Unilever and sold 100,000 products in the last 18 months.

On Ex-diasporian, Gbola Obaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Mission to Build


efore relocating from his abode in London to Nigeria some years back, Gbola Oba was a famous face on UK-based BEN TV on which he gave in-depth analyses of social-economic and political situations in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. And through his vast network, he also engaged notable names in the affairs of Africa in several interviews which brought so much delight to Nigerians and other Africans in diaspora. Amongst those interviewed by Oba then were the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and now deceased first black woman to win the prestigious global prize, Prof. Wangari Maathu Maathai of Kenya, and many political and business leaders from Nigeria and

Gbola Oba

other countries on the continent. Obaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s primary mission has always

been to help in building the minds and capacities of the people through knowledge and skill acquisition. By this penchant, he brought innovations in solving automobile problems in Nigeria through a jointcompany, Automedics. Through this, many young Nigerians have been given adequate trainings on auto-mechanics and answers were offered to Nigerians on the problems associated with their vehicles on radio, TV and newspaper column all tagged Automedics. Now, Oba has found a new ground which is to offer solution to housing challenges in Nigeria. He, with a group of returnees and diasporans with whom he recently opened a cutting-edge building and construction training institute in Lagos, Nigeria, just

registered a construction facilitation and training company in Dubai, UAE to deepen the capacity of building technicians in Nigeria and ensure integrity of houses in Nigeria against regular collapses. Sometime in March, Oba, along with some recognisable Nigerians like the CEO of WFM, Toun Sonaya, and GMs Lagos State Development and Property Corporation-LSDPC and Ogun State Property Investments Corporation, OPIC, will be engaging with schools and institutions in the UK on ways of transferring latest skills in building to Nigeria. And they will also be speaking to a wide range of Nigerian professionals in the UK on how best to explore opportunities and how their expertise can be deployed to the benefits of their home-country.

Record-breaker! Nigerian, Tony Iwobi, Emerges Italyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s First Black Senator


his remarkable feat, expectedly, have got many Nigerians from far and near in high spirits and reinforced optimism amonsgt members of other nationalities in Italy on the future of inclusive politics in the country. Fascinatingly, a 62-year-old Italy-based Nigerian, Tony Iwobi, is the harbinger of this great history and fervent enthusiasm. Iwobi became the first black senator in the history of Italy having contested on the

platform of League party and made an impressive outing in the election which gave him the senate seat. Iwobi, of Spirano in Lombardy, announced â&#x20AC;&#x153;with great emotionâ&#x20AC;? on his Facebook page that he had been elected to the Senate in Italyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s general elections. â&#x20AC;&#x153;After more than 25 years of fighting as part of the Leagueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s big family, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m about to start another great adventure,â&#x20AC;? Iwobi wrote, going on to thank his party leader Matteo Salvini and his other

fellow party members. The IT expert left Nigeria for Italy on a student visa some 40 years ago, and fully settled in the country after his degree. Iwobi later got married to an Italian with whom he runs an IT company that he established. The astute politician has represented the League as a municipal councillor in Spirano back in the 1990s, and more recently headed Salviniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s national committee on immigration before winning the senate seat.

Tony Iwobi










The arts community is celebrating master storyteller and cinematographer, Tunde Kelani, who 70th birthday. Yinka Olatunbosun reports


he outpouring of eulogies is expected. The man of the moment, Tunde Kelani, just turned the landmark age of 70 on Monday, February 26. As the CEO of Mainframe Films and Television Productions, he is revered as one of the industry’s best gifts to Nigerian cinema. Among Kelani’s much-celebrated cinematic credits are Saworo Ide, Ayo Ni Mo Fe, Agogo Eewo, Thunderbolt, Ti Oluwa Nile, Oleku, Ko See Gbe, Maami, Yeepa, Dazzling Mirage and Sidi Ilujinle which is an adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel. These productions are the eloquent testimonial of his one lifelong obsession, which is to revive the indigenous culture consciousness through the art of visual storytelling. His works had groomed a new crop of audience for Nigerian cinema in the 90s. That was when the trend was to showcase the ostentatious lifestyle of Nigerians as a means of debunking or defusing negative stereotypes. For years, he shunned the use of the word, “Nollywood’’ to describe this new movement in cinematography in Nigeria because the term is really fashioned after the “Hollywood’’ and “Bollywood’’ derivatives. Another culture that Kelani’s movies disbanded was the use of codeswitching in the language of a movie. If subtitles could be made, then there would be no need to muddle up two or three languages for movie characters, he must have thought. His Opomulero movie productions made Yoruba actors speak authentic Yoruba language and portray the actual life of the African. His historical stories are bred on the soil of romance, thriller, suspense, comedy, action and drama. For those wondering how Tunde Kelani, popularly called TK became such a culture advocate, a peek into his background may be helpful. Though Kelani was born in Lagos, at the age of five, he was sent to live with his grandparents at Abeokuta. He attended the Oke-Ona Primary School in Ikija and had his secondary school education at Abeokuta Grammar School, where the likes of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Professor Wole Soyinka had been educated. Lustrous is his pedigree; his grandfather was a chief (the Balogun of Ijaiye Kukudi) and so he had a first hand experience of the rich Yoruba cultural heritage. He was introduced to Yoruba literature from an early stage in his life and had seen in performance most of the great Yoruba theatre classics including the Palmwine Drinkard, Oba Koso, Kurunmi and Ogunde plays. His interest in photography was matched with his willingness to invest money and time to developing it. Later, he trained at the then Western Nigeria Television (WNTV) and proceeded to the London Film School. In the 1970s, he had a stint as a journalist, working as a BBC TV and Reuters correspondent, covering historical moments such as Zimbabwe

Tunde Kelani Independence. Upon his return from the London Film School to Nigeria, he co-produced his first film with Adebayo Faleti called “The Dilemma of Rev. Father Michael” (Idaamu Paadi Minkailu).In 1990, Kelani was an assistant director and an actor in an American drama film, “Mister Johnson” shot in Nigeria. the film was based on a 1939 novel by Joyce Cary, the movie stars Pierce Brosnan and Marnard Eziashi. Kelani’s affinity for indigenous literature has inspired his portfolio of works that are film adaptations of literary texts. He has studied the works of D. O. Fagunwa, Akinwunmi Ishola, Cyprian Ekwensi, Pa Amos Tutuola, Adebayo Faleti and made successful movie productions like “Koseegbe”, “Oleku”, “Thunderbold” (Magun), “The White Handkerchief”, “The Narrow Path”, “Maami” and recently “Dazzling Mirage”. He has also begun experimenting with theatre-to-film shot in studio which is minimalism at its best. Not a lot of biographies on Kelani had put a spotlight on his fashion sense. Though, he wouldn’t call himself a fashion icon, his style is essentially afro-centric. From his cap to his foot wears, every detail speaks of his commitment to his culture. He doesn’t just promote it with films, he makes his every day attire a reminder of who he is. His T-shirts usually have slogans

sourced from such African fabric as Adire and Ankara just as his formal wears are. He is easy to spot from the crowd what with the signature ethnic style. Kelani has been instrumental to a number of film festivals in Nigeria. For instance, the Abuja International Film Festival was a watershed for Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory’s story in arts and entertainment. No wonder he was appointed by President Mohammadu Buhari as the Chairman, National Film and Video Censors Board, which was seen by some of his admirers as a rare bull’s eye. He is also an educator. On May 16, 2016, he opened the Mainframe Film and Media Institute in Abeokuta to create an avenue for young film makers to acquire the required skill set in film and television production. As a result of his contribution to African cinema, he has been nominated for African Movie Academy Award for Best Nigerian Film in 2009 and 2011 and African Movie Academy Award for Best Director in Haiti. His 70th birthday was celebrated on February 26 with a showcase of some of his cinematic works in a programme designed, produced and

hosted by Madame Silvana Moi Virchauxled Liberation Arts Contemporain in collaboration with the Lagos-based Culture Advocates Caucus. The group will roll out a schedule of activities in honour of Kelani at 70. One of them held on Thursday, March 8 at the Freedom Park, Lagos. It featured talk sessions and movie screenings. At the eight-hour long Art Forum jointly organised by CORA and iRep documentary movie, and anchored by Jahman Anikulapo, some of Kelani’s documentary movies were screened while some scenes from his other feature-length movies were shown in snippets. One of them was “The White Handkerchief”, based on Bayo Adebowale’s “The Virgin”. It was an experimental project on the use of celluloid initiated by MNET. But Kelani approached it like a full-length movie, using all the essential dramatic elements. Tributes poured in as many of his protégées and contemporaries arrived at Kongi’s Harvest inside Freedom Park. The celebrant was accompanied by the iconic football veteran, the “mathematical” Segun Odegbami and Dr. Tunde Adegbola. It was a story of impossible relationships. Odegbami is an international football and has no formal training in film. Adegbola was an engineer not an



ʜ ˺˺ 


Ă&#x2122; Ă&#x153;Ă?Ă?Ă?Ă&#x2DC;Ă&#x17E;Ă&#x2013;ĂŁ Ă&#x2014;Ă&#x2039;Ă&#x153;Ă&#x2022;Ă?Ă&#x17D; Ă&#x2019;Ă&#x201C;Ă?  Ă&#x2019;Ă&#x201C;Ă? artist but his stint with broadcasting was the converging point between him and Kelani. The two friends had been very influential in Kelaniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work. For instance, Odegbami provided all the technical details on football for â&#x20AC;&#x153;Maamiâ&#x20AC;? while Adegbola perfected the sound for Kelaniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s signature soundtracks. Odegbami who had played supporting role otherwise referred to as â&#x20AC;&#x153;Waka Passâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;&#x2122; in â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Campus Queenâ&#x20AC;? was surprised that when the movie poster was designed, his face was not on it. His consolation is that Kelani promised him a lead role in his next movie. The trio all lived together in Ibadan and remained friends till date. Odegbami recounted how Kelani would screen his yet to be released movie in his home privately and how he would tell him every story before the actual production. Adegbola also recounted how Kelani was unperturbed about lack of sufficient funds for movie production but would call him and subtly ask how he could get money for production. A very emotional tribute to TK was paid by Jide Morounfolu who in tears narrated how he owes his entire career today to Kelani. As a young graduate, he was randomly seeking employment and went to Kelaniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s studio. Kelani didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t announce any vacancy so he told Jide to leave. Jide left but resumed near his studio every morning just to get his attention. Eventually, his golden moment arrived: AIT needed cameramen. Kelani trained Jide for free. Through Kelani, Jide got his shot in a breaking news at BBC. Jideâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s brother invited him to relocate to the US but he decided to stay with Kelani and many other international assignments came along. So he has no regret at all. The only man with regrets was Yemi Sodimu who left Mainframe Productions unceremoniously. He resigned and couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t tell Kelani to his face that he needed to pursue bigger dreams. In his response, Kelani offered gratitude to all his friends who had been his pillar of support over the years. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been a long 70-year old journey. I think without you, there will be no TK. There will be a sequel to the Saworoide series In the land of Jogbo, the people wanted pounded yam. But the pounded yam didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t turn out right because we cooked the wrong yam. So we decided to change the yam. That is the change we are working for," Kelani said. A special documentary movie on Tunde Kelani titled "Tunde Kelani: A Culture Connoisseur'' by Kunle Afolayan was screened at the event and typically, Kelani didn't sit to watch his own movies or one about him. Still, he was honoured by the presence of Prof Wole Soyinka, Olu Jacobs, Joke Silva, Bimbo Manuel, Femi Odugbemi, Wale Fani and Prince Eji Oyewole. Also, later this month, the iRep International Documentary Film Festival will hold a special session in his honour at Freedom Park.

The Inverted Pyramid; Adapted from a novel by Emeka Dike





Yinka Olatunbosun


udity is not a strange sight in television drama and movies but on stage, it is almost like a sacrilege. But if drama is really the imitation of life, then realism was what came knocking at the Amphitheatre last Sunday. At one of the fringe’s shows inside the Lagos Theatre Festival, many arrived in droves, as the four-man drama, 3Some, written by Jude Idada drew the audience really wild what with the bewildering stripping live on stage. Directed by Yemi Akintokun, starring Daniel Effiong, Uzor Osimkpa and Kemi Bickersteth. The drama was simple and quite believable. It’s a story of a young man, newly married who is undergoing a crisis period in his marriage. He suspects that his beautiful wife may be having unconventional sexual preferences and even multiple sex partners. He surfs through her chat rooms and emails and a fight erupts. His mother-in-law wades in, offering practical advice on how to mend the rather sensitive dispute. But the young wife moves out in anger and her mother moves in, dressed in very sexually provocative clothes, on a mission to save her daughter’s marriage. She offers uncut graphic details of new coital styles that can fire up her son-in-law’s sex life. Without warning, a kiss happened between the mother and son-in-law. Then a moment of confession. Finally, the unthinkable followed- an affair that could destroy the remaining strands of a failing marriage. Instead of taking a moral step towards fixing the marriage, it becomes more complicated as the young man insists on having his wife back and his mother-in-law in the other room,

A scene from the play providing for his emotional well-being. Not only is the story shocking, it shatters regular plot as conflict is left unresolved, even with the characters roundly developed through the dialogue. Using voice over and a nude character on stage, the details of oral sex was explored as the unwary audience was left gasping at the sight of a model clad in nude sheer with shimmering details with nothing in her anatomy left to the imagination. The actors in 3some took a daring step in

tapping into their individual sexuality to interpret their roles before a live audience which is a rare display of showmanship in 21st century Nigerian theatre production. Essentially, 3some unearths the Oedipus complex in its lead character, a reflection on the philosophy of Sigmund Freud. But if anyone wants to judge the play using moral parameters, it will be a total tragedy. The drama offers no moral lesson- conveying to the audience that fulfilling desires is the ultimate good, which is hedonism at its best.


SMO Ignites The Wheatbaker with an All-Female Exhibition

Yinka Olatunbosun


he rolling trolleys with an assortment of pastries may be the only distraction to the eclectic art collection paraded along the corridors of Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi. At the moment, it’s inevitable to pause and take a good look at some of the pieces displayed by seven female artists in an exhibition organised by SMO Contemporary Art. This show is the third edition of Standing Out exhibition series which coincides with the global celebration of International Women’s month while tapping into the global campaign for gender equality. At a recent press preview of the works in Lagos, two emerging curators, Nneoma Ilogu and Moni Oloke revealed the central idea for the show titled, Unmasked. The mental health of women is explored by the artists using varying artistic expressions such as painting, ceramics, sculptures, performance poetry, burned wood, digital art and multi-media string installation. Unlike the previous editions, this show is very varied also on the cultural background of participating artists. Sourced from Nigeria, Cameroon, Gambia, India and United States, all the artists have links in Lagos and they are Nengi Omuku, Djakou Kassi Nathalie, Somi Nwandu, Nyancho NwaNri, Koromone Koroye, Reha Shishodia and Queen Nwaneri.This year’s Standing Out exhibition also puts a spotlight on the highly publicized women’s issues such as lack of access to education, genderbased violence, and the need for economic equality. Perhaps, the mental health issue is one of the least discussed in Nigerian society due to a culture of silence hovering around the subject matter. To be sure, the World Health Organisation held that over 7 million Nigerians suffer from depression and 4.8 million Nigerians (2.7% of the population) suffer from anxiety disorders. World-wide just 3% of total government spending is for mental health. Clearly, there is a need to raise awareness about mental health in women and proffer solutions. “We believe that art is an important tool for advocacy and change in society,” the two curators explained. “We choose artists who have a strong

Woman-Cradle of Civilization by Reha Shishodia, string and charcoal installation, 2018 (2) message and presence, and could help to publicise the need for society to focus on the mental wellbeing of women.” For Koromone Koroye, who hails from Bayelsa State but practised performance poetry in the US as a college student, owning her art was a big challenge. First, the reception in Nigeria was not impressive at her first show so she retreated and forgot performance poetry for a while. After a successful one-off performance at her church, she was encouraged to write more stimulating verses, some of which she will be performing at the grand opening of the show. Nyancho NwaNri, with both Nigerian and Gambian parentage, emphasised the need for encouraging more conversations around mental health issue in public sphere. She frowned against pretense or masking inner emotions that could later have very damaging effect on the individual or her loved ones. Reha Shishodia,the artist from India, who has taught children living with mental health issues, said that women still revolve around her thematic preoccupation. Queen Nwaneri, whose personal

experience drew out her painting powers said she likes to deface her subjects, mostly women and children, to de-emphasise physical beauty and concentrate more on intellectual ability. Her abstract paintings are inspired by her knife-palette technique and the knowledge of a male-glorifying society. In all, the show explores complex questions of identity, breaking down stereotypes, and dealing with societal pressures in the congested, overpopulated mega-city of Lagos. The Founder & Artistic Director of SMO Contemporary Art, the Wheatbaker’s long standing art curator, Sandra Mbanefo-Obiago also added that “UNMASKED is a bold and honest expose of what goes on within women’s mindscapes through the intricate and emotionally charged work of these phenomenal artists. We are excited that the hotel can advocate for better support for mental health in Nigeria by providing an important platform for these vital issues to be addressed through art.” UNMASKED runs from March 11 to May 4 and is supported by Louis Guntrum, and the Wheatbaker.

ART AUCTION Arthouse’s3rdAffordable ArtAuctionRelishesa SuccessfulOuting Olufunke Adepuji


n its third outing on Saturday, March 3 at the Kia Showroom in Victoria Island, Lagos, the Arthouse Contemporary Affordable Art Auction raked in a total of N26,668,000, selling 62% of the lots. The top-selling work at the event, which started by 6 pm and featured 107 lots from emerging and established contemporary artists, was Rom Isichei’s oil on paper, titled “Vacancy of Stares” at N1,150,000. Following closely on its heels was Gerald Chukwuma’s mixed media diptych, “Akuko Ifo”, which sold for N920,000. Among the auction’s other top-sellers were Ebong Ekwere’s wood sculpture, “Dancing Torso”, Reuben Ugbine’s “Meditation” II, Abayomi Barber’s pastel on paper painting, “Dream Man” and Ato Delaquis’ acrylic on canvas “The Lagoon”, all of which sold for N 805,000. Also featured at this edition of the auction were charity lots by Muraina Oyelami, A. Akande, Joseph Eze, Tony Enebeli and Dipo Doherty, which raised a total of N 870,000. This segment of the auction, as the name implies, was meant to support the efforts of the Arthouse Foundation, the non-profit artist residency programme in Lagos. Hence, the proceeds from these lots will go directly to supporting the programmes of the Arthouse Foundation, including its residencies, workshops, talks and public events. The auction preview, ART NIGHT OUT, took place two days before the auction on Thursday, March 1 at the Kia Showroom. It was a night of art, music and live performances with refreshments provided by Thai Thai, Le Connaisseur, 7UP and Krispy Kreme. There was also a live drawing performance by Dipo Doherty and a DJ set by ISSIMO. Guests, in addition, participated in the annual Selfie Competition, with the person with the most likes winning an original artwork. The Affordable Art Auction, according to the organisers, “aims to engage new collectors with all works of art estimated below one million naira.” It could be called the sister edition to the May and November auctions run by the Arthouse Contemporary. But its distinguishing feature is the fact that artworks are scaled to an affordable and accessible price point. It enjoys the generous support of Kia Motors, Le Connaisseur, Krispy Kreme and 7UP. –Adepuji writes from Lagos


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ MARCH 11, 2018


Editor Olawale Olaleye Email, SMS: 08116759819


Still Waiting on the 2018 Budget... Presented since November 7, 2017, the 2018 budget estimate has not been passed three weeks to the end of the first quarter, writes Olawale Olaleye


ll the promises shown by the early presentation of the 2018 budget appear forlorn, four months after it was laid by President Muhammadu Buhari before a joint session of the National Assembly with the sole aim of regularising the fiscal calendar of January to December. Although since 2016, when Buhari presented his first budget to the National Assembly, it had always ended up in one controversy or the other, thus exposing the traditional no-love-lost between the Executive and Legislature, the 2018 budget however showed more promises than those before it. Though the early presentation and the comments by the lawmakers, which showed they were impressed and ready to cooperate with the executive in national interest by quickly passing the budget, the prevailing developments however prove otherwise. The promises earlier held might have taken flight soon after the budget was presented to the parliament. And as it has become public knowledge, the problem with the 2018 budget started with the presentation of the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) to the Senate, because usually, the tradition is that the submission of the MTEF must precede the budget presentation itself. The Senate, thus, on December 8, passed the MTEF/ FSP and went on to set a December 19 date for its committee on Appropriation to submit the 2018 report for consideration. However, in the MTEF documents passed, the senators pointed out the oil benchmark for the 2018 Budget from the proposed $45 per barrel by the federal government to $47, while daily production was retained at 2.3 million barrel per day, with the exchange rate still at N305 to $1. As it is, the $47 per barrel approved by the Senate was a dollar higher than the $46 recommended by its joint committee on Finance, Appropriation and National Planning, which worked on the MTEF document.The parameters, therefore, are 2.3million barrel oil production per day, N305 to a US dollar exchange rate, 3.5% GDP growth rate, N5.79trillion projected non-oil revenue and N1.699trillion for new borrowings. As the debate commenced on the general principles of the budget, it was allegedly discovered during some of the budget defence that Ministries, Departments, Agencies and MDAs were not having documents, while some had alleged padding and duplicated items, just as it was with previous experience. The Senator John Enoh-led Committee on Finance had queried the federal government’s insistence that the 2018 Budget must be passed in January, when less than 50 per cent of 2017 Budget was implemented. The Senate, which took a swipe at the government, when the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, appeared before the committee, requested to know why the 2017 Budget had no correlation with the 2018 Budget and insisted that the implementation of the budget would be poorly done because of the size of the country. The senators, who later took turns to speak on the 2018 Budget across party lines, lampooned the federal government for what it termed its unrealistic estimates.They declared that the N11trillion collectible revenue proposed in the budget could not be met if experiences of previous

Buhari presenting 2018 budget to the National Assembly years were anything to ponder and therefore called for an increase in the oil price benchmark from $45 to $50per barrel. Not unexpectedly, the Budget Office of the Federation has also come out to debunk claims that the 2018 budget has yet to be passed, because some details required for its passage were not submitted. Ben Akabueze, Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, said in a statement that media reports suggesting that the FGN 2018 Budget was submitted to the National Assembly without details for some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were inaccurate. Upon presentation of the budget by Buhari, he claimed the budget already had“all the usual details required by the National Assembly to process the budget,”which according to him, included that of the budgets of all federal MDAs based on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) budget templates. “Given the seriousness the Presidency attaches to getting the 2018 budget passed so it could earnestly focus on achieving the goals set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-20 (ERGP), which formed the basis of the budget, it had directed heads of ministries and extra-ministerial agencies to attend to any requests for meetings/information by the National Assembly (NASS)

with dispatch,”he said. “To the best of our knowledge, this directive has been complied with. Should any committees of NASS still experience any issues with attendance of any MDA, the Minister of Budget & National Planning has indicated that he is available to liaise with the particular MDA to ensure full cooperation with NASS by the relevant MDA,” he added. Sadly, the current recriminations are typical of the familiar budget controversy year in, year out and may not be quite palatable this time around with the elections lurking in the corner.The very essence of budgeting is to aid planning, which in itself enhances the delivery of good governance. It is therefore crucial that both the executive and the legislature sit at the table on time before it is not only taken over by politics but overwhelmed by it.There is no doubting the fact that not much can be done in terms of budget implementation in a year like this. It is however important that the little that can be pulled through should not be frittered away on account of muscle-flexing between the two arms. Expectations are high over the 2018 budget especially in view of the need to boost post recession growth.This is why the issues stalling its quick passage must be addressed urgently.


When Will Census Hold?


NPC DG, Ghaji Bello

wo years after it should have conducted another census to ascertain the nation’s actual population, Nigeria is still contemplating when to hold this all-important exercise because the requisite logistics have not been provided. Director-General of the National Population Commission (NPC), Dr. Ghaji Bello, said in an interview in New York last year that although the census should hold this year “if the necessary logistics are provided”, he was however not sure when that would be, adding that indeed, “the exercise should have been conducted in 2016 in line with international practice.”

Speaking to journalists in Abuja, last week, NPC Chairman, Chief Eze Duruiheoma (SAN), explained that there was no budgetary allocation for the commission to conduct census. He said what the commission was currently doing is Enumeration Area Demarcation using part of the commission’s budget. It is disheartening that such an important exercise as census could be handled with levity by government. It is a fact that reliable data base is a prerequisite for development as its aids planning. It is, therefore, shameful that government does not see the urgency in updating its population data base through census, two years after it ought to have been carried out. Sad!

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ MARCH 11, 2018


BRIEFINGNOTES Hate Penalty for Hate Speech? A recent bill, which passed through first reading in the Senate, has stirred controversy for recommending death sentence or life imprisonment for hate speech mongers. Damilola Oyedele writes


n February 28, 2018, a bill, named “National Hate Speech Commission Establishment Bill” scaled through first reading on the floor of the Senate. In normal circumstances, the first reading of bills does not catch attention, but in this instance, the seemingly frivolous title of the bill caught attention of nearly everyone. Was it a bill seeking establishment of yet another commission? Apparently it was beyond that. Digging further showed that it was not a frivolous one, but a bill that should concern every well-meaning Nigerian, either positively or negatively. It particularly drew attention, because the All Progressives Congress, with its seeming intolerance for criticism of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, particularly on social media, has been throwing the word ‘hate speech’ around. The long title of the bill is: “An Act of the National Assembly to Promote National Cohesion and Integration by Outlawing Unfair Discrimination, Hate Speeches and to Provide for the Establishment, Powers and Functions of the Independent National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches and for Purposes Connected Therewith.” It is sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger APC), who is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity.

Defining Hate Speech

While the speech did not specifically define hate speech, it defined a monger of the potential crime as “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, commits an offence, if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or persons from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.” For such monger, the bill recommends that the person shall be “liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.” In simpler words, where the communication (either by words or action) of one person, incites violence, which causes loss of life or lives to another, or other persons, the monger shall be liable to death by hanging.


The bill goes further and stipulates penalties for discrimination or harassment on the basis of ethnicity. “For the purpose of this Act, a person discriminates against another person if on ethnic grounds, the person without any lawful justification, treats another Nigerian citizen less favourably than he treats or he would treat other persons, from his ethnic or another ethnic group and/or that on grounds of ethnicity, a person puts another person at a particular disadvantage, when compared with other persons from other ethnic nationality of Nigeria. “A person subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where, on ethnic grounds, he unjustifiably engages in a conduct, which has the purpose or effect of (a) violating that other person’s dignity or (b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment,” it provides. Such offender shall be liable on conviction to an imprisonment for a term not less than five years, or to a fine of not less than N10,000, according to the bill. It stimulates further that a “person victimises another if in any circumstances relevant for the purpose of the Act, the person does any act that is injurious to the wellbeing and esteem of another person, by treating the person less favourably than, in those circumstances,

Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi such person treats or would treat other persons.” The bill would find a person guilty of ethnic or racial contempt if the person knowingly utters words to incite feelings of contempt, hatred, hostility, violence or discrimination against any person, group or community on the basis of ethnicity or race, commits an offence.

Establishment of Commission

As implied by the ‘short title’, the bill would see to the establishment of yet another Commission named Independent National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches. It would be saddled with the responsibility to investigate complaints of ethnic or racial discrimination and make recommendation to the Attorney General, the Human Rights Commission and other relevant authorities on measures to be taken, where such complaints are valid. It would also discourage persons, institutions, political parties and associations from advocating or promoting discrimination or discriminatory practices through the use of hate speeches, and promote tolerance among all regardless of affiliations.

Bill Sponsor

For such monger, the bill recommends that the person shall be “liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.” In simpler words, where the communication (either by words or action) of one person, incites violence, which causes loss of life or lives to another, or other persons, the monger shall be liable to death by hanging

Defending the bill which has drawn outrage from Nigerians, Abdullahi, speaking to THISDAY, said a country like Rwanda did not pay attention to the utterance of some citizens, which led to genocide. “Even World War II, it was the kind of things people talked about that led to some people being targeted for extermination,” he said. According to him, “The biggest challenge about hate speech is the fact that it is usually along two prominent lines. Nigeria is so prominent with it: religion and ethnicity. Go back into history and crisis of this country, you will realise that it is one person saying something bad, that leads to another person reacting, and before you know it, inflames anger and people will get killed, people lose their property and people go through all kinds of horrendous treatments,” he added. Abdullahi noted that Kenya, as a way to deal with pre and post-election crises, has established a similar commission which helped to mediate in the recent issues which escalated tensions after Raila Odinga declared himself president despite losing election. “That should have been a treasonable felony,” Abdullahi said and added that the commission intervened such that Odinga has abandoned his ‘presidency’. The proposed commission, if established, would therefore play mediatory role of promoting arbitration, conciliation, mediation and similar forms of dispute resolution mechanisms in order to secure and enhance tolerance, Abdullahi said. But are there no existing laws that target discriminations and incitement to violence in Nigeria already? “Yes, there are laws on defamation of character, public order and disorder, so many other laws like that. Why did they not stop these?” he queried. He also clarifies that it has nothing to do with the APC’s seeming notion about hate speech. “If you form yourself as a body for example, if you want to talk in respect of any issue in the polity, do not tag a particular group. Talk on the subject matter and do not try to make it appear as if a particular group is at fault. We must begin to place premium on lives. Let us not think that when a life is lost, it is inconsequential. It is inconsequential because you did not empathise,” Abdullahi said.


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ MARCH 11, 2018



1979 Constitution Distorted Our Federalism At 85, elder statesman, Alhaji Femi Okunnu’s recollection of events and issues in Nigeria’s chequered history is astonishing, He buttresses his narration with dates and vivid description of circumstances surrounding issues and events, a clear indication that he was a key player at critical junctures of the nation’s history or an interested observer. Okunnu, a former Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing under the General Yakubu Gowon administration and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, in this interview with THISDAY, speaks on the state of the nation, identifies the problem of Nigerian federalism, and passes harsh verdicts on some past administrations particularly in the area of infrastructure development. Excerpts:


ou clocked 85 recently, how does it feel at 85? Well, I didn’t feel differently at 85 as I felt 10 years ago or even five years ago except that one now walks very slowly, movement is now being handicapped. If I remember my days as an athletes at Kings College, being a member of the quartet which sets the school record in 4X220 yards relay. I thank God for His mercies. Going down memory lane, can you reminisce about the good old days, about life in Lagos and Nigeria in general?

If you talk of life in Lagos, apart from human beings, the political life in Nigeria was captured in Lagos City. No politicking of any significance in the rest of the country except the city of Lagos. Most of the politicians in the country particularly in the 40s when I was growing up as a schoolboy, up to 1950 were based in Lagos and they came from different parts of the country. For instance, someone like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who was elected first Lagos member in 1946 under the Richard Constitution, someone like Mr. Ikoli, who came from what you now call Rivers State and was educated at Kings College in 1910 and lived in Lagos as a doyen of journalism until his death. So Nigerian politicians were resident in Lagos

and life in Lagos was life in Nigeria. People lived happily as one people and there was little or non-ethnicity. There were some ethnic groups but they didn’t dominate or take part in politics in those days. The country was moving on towards self-government following the experience of India which was granted Independence in 1947. The British Colonies were agitating for independence in their respective areas. So that was how Lagos was and Nigeria was in those days. People of different ethnic backgrounds regarded themselves as Nigerians unlike today when ethnicity has taken root in our polity. From your last statement about ethnicity, about the divisions in the country,

when you look at what is happening in the country today such as North-east where there is insurgency and terrorism, in the Middle Belt where there is herdsmen/ farmers’ clash and other security issues in other parts of the country, do you entertain fears about the future of this country? Well, the future of this country doesn’t look bright now. But I have faith that Nigeria would survive at the end of the day. You talk of the insurgency in the North-east, the Boko Haram and the atrocities being committed by this bunch of people which is a great problem for the country. The present government did much better than the past government in tackling the

Continued on Pg. 66



SUNDAY INTERVIEW t ‘1979 CONSTITUTION DISTORTED OUR FEDERALISM’ problem, but the problem is still large. It worries me how much assistance the government sought or received from Western Powers in terms of intelligence. We seem to lack knowledge and intelligence about the activities of these people. The West and the East, I am talking of Russia, have their ways of being part of the insurgency. When I say part of the insurgency, you find some people, their job is to procure among the insurgents those who will relay or give up information about their activities to the authorities. We seem to lack that and the Western Powers are either unwilling to help in that area or they were not asked to help. France has tremendous influence in French speaking West Africa countries that are also involved in this insurgency as Chad, Cameroon, Niger which are also affected by Boko Haram, although not as much as Nigeria. So, that is a huge problem which we have to tackle. If they don’t occupy any land they are still in the country and now carrying out guerilla warfare. That is a great pity but we have to face that problem. The problem of the herdsmen, to me, is unfortunate that it’s not been tackled the way it should be tackled. First of all, I regard the activities of herdsmen as purely economic. I look at the herdsmen the way I look at the spare parts sellers in Lagos for example. It is an economic issue and not a political issue, but people are politicising it. Now, if you are a spare part dealer, you either obtain a piece of land from government in the state or you rent a parcel of land. And if you have been allocated a parcel of land by the state, you are lucky to sell your spare parts. The same way if you rear cattle, you look for a piece of land to rear your cattle or you ask the state to give you a piece of land. Unfortunately, it is not so. Historically, it is true that these herdsmen came from arid part of Africa, no grass. They used to come with their herds to different parts of the country and sell. And on their way to the Southern part of the country, they trespass on people’s private land. That had been tolerated over a period of time. And they also use stick to guide the cattle to make sure that they don’t derail. But it is no longer the same these days where they invade private properties. Invading private properties is trespass in law. You can’t come to land with the economic trees, crops for any reason and eat the crops and the grass. That is trespass for which I can take you to court. That is wrong. The fact that it is historical, that they have been doing it for more than two centuries is not relevant. There had been some solutions suggested to meet these situations. I think Sir Ahmadu Bello encouraged ranching in certain parts of the North. I am trying to look into my records whether the government of Gowon didn’t wade into this problem of establishing ranches in some parts of the country. The solution is for these ordinary Nigerians who own the herds, this cattle, to negotiate with either individuals or government of the states to have a place for ranching. It is not to brazenly attack farmers in different part of the country. It is entirely wrong. There are two other aspects to these issues: One, the herdsmen are poor people, they don’t own the herds. They work under the owners of the herds who are faceless people. These ‘unknown or faceless’ cattle owners are guilty of this offence more than the poor herdsmen who go about. Again, it has been suggested and strongly too that majority of these herdsmen are non-Nigerians, that they come from Niger, Chad, Mali and so on. And that may well be true whether they are Fulanis, Hausas. You know the Fulas or Fulanis, they call them Fulas in Guinea, they occupy the Northern Belt of Northern Nigeria, From Senegal to Nigeria, you have the Fulas or the Fulanis as a major ethnic group. So you can distinguish easily the Fulanis from Nigeria, Mali, Senegal or Guinea. So, a number of them come from outside the country, we were told. Finally, I think Nigeria now have the Miyetti Allah group who now have come out openly to say they are behind this herding. It is time we move away from feudalism to modern world. The poor herdsmen moving on foot over miles from the north to the middle belt and other parts of the country should be a thing of the past. They should adopt modernity and end what I would call feudal system of herding. That is my view about herdsmen issue. You raised an issue such as herdsmen coming from other countries, which shows the flaws in our immigration system. It is also an indication of the weak border security that we have. Before now, the unhindered movement of the herdsmen and other people was attributed to the ECOWAS Treaty that gives freedom of movement of people and goods. Should we allow people to hide under the treaty to perpetrate these atrocities? Well, I have not examined the treaty or the protocol about immigration but I believe that freedom of movement of people and also of goods is part of what we signed for. Freedom of movement, yes. But it doesn’t give you the rights to trespass on other people’s land. Trespass is trespass anywhere; in Mali, in Ghana or in Senegal or Niger, it will still be trespass. But let’s separate the wheat from the chaff. Freedom to move about, freedom to move your property around is one thing, trespassing on other people’s land is a different thing entirely. Just as freedom of movement of Nigerians doesn’t give you the rights to trespass on other people’s

To me, the harm was done to the structure of the polity by 1979 constitution which mistake was also repeated in 1999 constitution.

Continued from Pg. 65

land. Still on security. Just last week, we had a tragedy in the North-east where some girls were abducted by Boko Haram. This is the second time we would be experiencing this as a nation. We had a similar tragedy under the last regime. In the North-east where we have Boko Haram and insurgency, sadly we still have girls in schools unprotected. Again, the president has described it as a national disaster but many people believe that it is not only a national disaster but a national disgrace. What is your view? I will stick to national disaster because you cannot protect everybody. You cannot police every part of the country. You cannot set up security apparatus for every school even in Northeast not to talk of every school in Nigeria. How many schools there are that you have to provide security for? The schools in the North-eastern part of the country must be in hundreds. So you can’t provide security for each and every public institution, not schools alone, hospitals, even ordinary people need protection, in your house you need protection. So policing the whole country is a huge thing. It is not possible to police the whole country, not only in Nigeria but in any part of the world. But whether the policing is being handled efficiently is a different matter. The major thing is to destroy these heartless people, this Boko Haram. That is the major challenge we are facing. We have to end the insurgency. There is a growing agitation for the restructuring of the country. As we go into 2019, it is going to be a major issue. People hold different views though. But when we talk about restructuring what should we be looking at? In addition, do you subscribe to the view that it is the panacea

to the problem of national integration and the problem of Nigerian federalism? I do. The country has moved from federalism to unitary system of government. I have been looking at the past constitutions of the country to see when and where things went wrong. I have had some in-depth examination of the problem of restructuring. Until a year ago, I held firmly that those who were asking for national conference were overdoing it, that they didn’t really need a huge caucus to look at the constitution as a whole. I have held that view for the past 30 years since people have been calling for it long before the civilian administration came in 1999. A good number of my friends clamoured for it, but I don’t really think they looked at the problem in-depth. I have examined the constitutions since federalism was installed as a political system in 1954. I have examined the 1954 constitution, 1960, 1963, 1979 and 1999 constitutions. I have also studied some conference papers, conferences leading to Independence in 1960, notably the 1957 London Conference and 1958 London Conference which produced the 1960 Constitution. The 1963 constitution was more or less the same as the 1960 Constitution, the main difference was Commonwealth and Republic. Under the Commonwealth you have the Governor-General at the apex of the political system and under the Republic you have the president. So, it’s just removing the governor general and putting president. I have examined four areas in these two constitutions. 1963 Constitution and its predecessor, the 1960 constitution, to me were perfect fit for federalism. It provided true federalism. The basis of federalism is coming together of a group of states to form a union whereby certain powers of sovereignty held are surrendered to common unit called Federal Government. Under our system, the political leaders in the Region at that time in 1957, 1958 and thereafter relinquished certain powers called Exclusive in the Exclusive Legislative list to the Federal government. Now



SUNDAY INTERVIEW t ‘1979 CONSTITUTION DISTORTED OUR FEDERALISM’ tContinued from Pg. 66 some areas which I looked into very deeply are finance, judiciary, local government, electoral process. In the case of finance, which is the key issue because you can’t run a government if you don’t have money. We can see the result of governors are queuing up in Abuja begging for money. Finance in the 1963 constitution made it possible for states to also have direct access to economic activities of the country. The most popular one is the rights of the states of origin where minerals are found and extracted to have 50 per cent of royalties and mining rents which the Federal Government collects. 30 per cent are put in a distributive pool and 20 per cent held by the Federal Government to run its services. It is not only minerals, there are other commodities where the custom dues are also collected, Imports and Exports, wherein 25 per cent of these rents or customs dues are put in the distributive pools every quarter under the 1963 constitution. So it is not only profit from the minerals which include oil as stated in the constitution. Whether it is onshore or offshore. Continental Shelf was regarded as part of the states where there is continental shelf. In simple language, oil producing states or region also collects 50 per cent from Continental Shelf. So the states have a wide area where they collected their finance which they were entitled to under the constitution and not begging the Federal Government to give them money. Now, all that was put aside under the 1979 constitution under Gen Obasanjo because he was in power by the time the constitution came into effect on October 1, 1979. What was its substitute? All revenue would go into the federation account, whether minerals or whatever commodities. And how you spend that money was left to the National Assembly to decide. It is now the president who would present the budget to the National Assembly and whatever that National Assembly decided was the Law. That was in 1979. That was carried over to the 1999 constitution with this caveat - in the case of minerals, the state of origin would get at least 13 per cent. The formula then changed completely. The formula in 1979 was worse than 1999 because that one gave nothing to state of origin. That one just say put everything in one pot and then we distribute it from the pot. Under the 1999 constitution, the state of origin takes 13 per cent. The federal government which took 20 per cent in 1960, 1963 constitutions now takes about 52 to 54 per cent from the common pot and the balance is shared between state and local governments. You see that distortion, a complete reversal of the sharing formula. The Federal Government has acquired more money than ever before. From 20 per cent to 52-54 per cent. That’s to much! To do what? To carry out functions which have not changed radically. When I say radically, let me qualify that. The Exclusive Legislative List in 1963 Constitution contained baerly 40 functions for the national government: foreign affairs, currency, banking, defence and such like. In 1979, the list ballooned to almost 70. But they were not functions of great direct benefits to the ordinary people. Functions such as primary education, primary health care, water, housing and the like which affect people directly, you denied the states government the money to carry out these functions which come under residuary. Residuary functions are functions which are not in the exclusive legislative list., like housing, primary education. Secondary education is… because of Federal Government intervening in secondary education. University education is either states or federal. Primary healthcare also. The health of the populace is not the business of the federal government. And that takes away a big chunk of revenue. So, the state which needs money to run healthcare for the ordinary people is denied to function in that area. Then, local government. As I have said on many occasions that I don’t mind Section 7 of the Constitution of 1979 and 1999 which states that the system of local government shall be under a law by the state House of Assembly, not federal, and functions of local government, finance included, restructure of local government, whether you want to add or reduce in number, is the business of state government. I don’t mind especially the emphasis ‘democratically elected’ so that the state doesn’t nominate as governors do illegally. A situation whereby they nominate or dissolve the local government is wrong. I remember I took former Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, to court on three occasions when he was governor, and I won in defence of that section. You can’t handpick people to serve in local government. Again, local government is a function of the state government. The Federal Government should have nothing to do with local governments. Before 1979, local government was a function of Regional and State governments. In my time in government, we had nothing whatsoever to do with local government. Because Local Government is a system whereby you decide how to run your house, I mean the way I want to administer my state is not a concern of the federal government. Local authorities had never been a function of federal government even in the 1963 constitution. Incidentally, in 1963 constitution, there were about five constitutions: The constitution for the federation, Northern Nigeria, Eastern Nigeria, Western Nigerian and Mid-Western Nigeria. So it’s a book containing five or so constitutions which is not the case now. Federal government had no business in local administration, it was the function of Regional government. The government of Gen. Gowon adhered to 1963 Constitution and was guided by 1963 Constitution which ran from 1963 to September 30th, 1979. (Cuts in) Was that so? But the constitution was abrogated by the military. No. No. It was not. The Constitution remained but certain sections of the constitution were suspended. We were very careful not to takeover the functions of state governments. Where we did it was under state of emergency for peace, order and good government of Nigeria. But by and large, we did not really take over functions of state governments. For instance, housing was

the function of the state government and they continued to build houses for their people. Even though I thought of National Housing Scheme while I was in government but I dropped it because it wasn’t my business to build houses for state governments except for the federal capital, in Lagos. Even then we didn’t build any housing except for the historical FESTAC which was built to hold All African Festival of Arts and then for the houses to be sold to Nigerians after the festival. So housing, we were very careful, it’s a state matter. –––– This is very interesting. Would you then say that the alleged distortion of Nigerian federalism by the military was accentuated during the Gowon regime in the sense that it was the government of Gen. Gowon that took over regional universities, radio, television etc.? No. It was with the agreement by the state governments. It was voluntary. Ahmadu Bello University was taken over because there was no longer any northern regional government. North was divided into six states. It was like my taking over state roads; the governors begged me to take over state roads and pleaded that they would take over local authority roads. The military distorting the constitution to some extent was exaggerated. The problems started with the Constitution of 1979, not about Gowon or Babangida’s government. No, they did their own bit. It was the constitution, those who finalised the constitution. For example, I was a member of the drafting committee of the constitution and I have examined our reports. I have it in two volumes and looked at the area of finance. Obasanjo’s government did not follow what we recommended. I don’t know whether there was an alteration or an agreement between the constituent assembly presided over by Sir Udo Udoma which examined our reports, but the final product, 1979 Constitution, which Obasanjo signed, to me, is the critical year and critical period when Nigeria abandoned federalism and moved on to unitary system of government. If you have command of finance, what else? In the government I served, Ogbemudia continued to receive 50 per cent from oil, Diete-Spiff of Rivers State was also getting 50 per cent royalty. The only change that Gen. Gowon made was offshore in 1970 to boost federal finance. It means oil extracted in the sea should be for all. It was the only area he intervened, otherwise, on finance, Gen. Gowon followed it as it was enshrined in the 1963 Constitution. To me, the harm was done to the structure of the polity by 1979 constitution, the mistake was also repeated in 1999 constitution. For instance, local government which I am talking about now, it was Gen. Murtala who brought in local government as a national

issue during Dasuki Commission. The late Damcida was even accusing Gen. Obasanjo in Abuja in 2005 that it was he who implanted local government as national function. And Damcida came to me and said I was wrong that after the coup of July 29, 1975, he as a permanent secretary was a member of a committee set up by Gen. Murtala Muhammed to look into the problem of local governments before Dasuki came in. The rot started from there but the point is that it didn’t stop with the end of the military rule on September 30th, 1979. It was implanted in the constitution and remained so till today. Another area is judiciary, which we don’t talk about. We have an over-centralised judicial system in Nigeria. Under 1963 constitution which remained till 1979, the federal government was in control of the Supreme Court, there was no Court of Appeal as at that time. There was no Federal High Court. It started as Federal Revenue Court in 1972-73 to help in getting federal revenue to be adjudicated speedily instead of state High Court handling the matter. That was how it started before it metamorphosed into High Court. The Regional State High Court, each region took care of its own High Court System. The Chief Judge or Chief Justice of the state in those days was appointed by the state government. The judges of the State High Court were appointed by the government of the region. In my time, government of the state. Federal Government had nothing to do with appointments, dismissal and remuneration of judges. But it started in 1979 when Federal government took complete control of all judges, not just Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Federal High Courts. The appointment of judges in Lagos, Kano, Borno, and Enugu States is handled at Abuja by the National Judicial Council (NJC). Discipline is handled by them. Part of the salary of all states High Courts are paid by the Federal Government. That is not federalism. That is unitary system of government. Recently, the Governor of Abia State retired the Chief Judge and they appointed another Chief Judge and Abuja said quickly that he (the governor) had no power. And that is true under the present constitution. That is not federalism. That didn’t happen under the 1963 constitution. The judiciary came under the umbrella of the federal government in 1979. Let me finish with the issue of Local government which is part of federal control as you find in the constitution, Section 8, about adjusting the list of local government, describing the states, you remember that schedule in the constitution, which should not be there. It shouldn’t be there. Boundaries are described by survey coordinates not by the number or description of local governContinued on Pg. 68




ment within the state. Some of them are still quarrelling over boundary. So that schedule should be removed completely from the constitution. Then bringing local government into distribution of finance is to me a way of enriching those states which have no oil. They now share in the oil booty to the detriments of the oil producing states. Let those who produce minerals enjoy the benefits of what God created within their states and if they want to give a part of it, then so be it. In America, it is a 100 per cent thing. That is federalism. So we have to look into judiciary to return it to federalism. You have to look into finance to ensure that those who produce the commodities or who consume those commodities should have a fair share of what they consume or produce within their state. Incidentally, federal has sufficient money; company income tax is a huge source of revenue for the federal government and they don’t share it with anybody. There are other income sources that can generate finance for the federal government. But the federal government has assumed too much. Independent candidature which was part of the political system; the colonial government didn’t care whether you stood alone to contest local government elections in Lagos or elections under the Clifford Constitution of 1922 or 1946 Richard Constitution elections. But what we have now or what you and I voted for at the last election were political parties and not human beings. I don’t know who represents me in the National Assembly. He never came to me to seek my vote. We now vote for party dictatorship the like of which I can’t find anywhere in the world. The ballot papers show APC, PDP, UTC and I am supposed to put my thumb in one of them. That is also undemocratic. We should return to voting for individuals. Whether he scores ten votes at election, let it be. Let’s stop this party dictatorship. Finally, there is Section 6 Sub-Section 6 (d) in the constitution which to me enshrines Army Rule, which means you cannot question the decrees of the army in the court of law. It was inserted in the 1979 constitution and repeated in 1999. To me, that should be removed. It was not just memory of Army Rule, you cannot challenge the competence of the army to issue a decree. That is what that section says. To me, it is dangerous. Now, land use decree issue started with the feeling that government was paying large sums of money for acquisition of land for public use. That was when the debate started that we should find a way to ensure that the government doesn’t pay too much money. If you had a road project, a large amount of money voted for that project goes into paying compensation for land owner even where there are no buildings or structures on the land. I was involved in trying to solve that problem but wasn’t part of the decree itself. Now, land use decree has a title to every inch of land in any state in the governor of that state for the benefit of people within the state. So it is nationalisation by the government. For instance, it’s really land tenure system in Northern Nigeria. Northern Nigeria, from time, land was owned in common. If you wanted land to build a house or for farming, you write to the authority for a plot of land. That was what the government

of Obasanjo did, federal application that applied to the rest of the country. There is a section there, Section 49 which states that the title to every inch of land is owned by the state but land held by the federal government before the promulgation of the decree in 1978, such land would remain federal government land. What has happened over the years especially in Lagos State is that the federal government quarters for example, the quarters at Ikoyi, the title of the land is held by Lagos State under the Ikoyi Land Ordinance before Independence because legislature before 1960 had no power to pass legislation. It was order from Britain. From October 1, 1960, the Ordinance became an Act. It became Ikoyi Land Act. When Lagos State was created, Ikoyi Land Act was transferred to the new state to oversee, other lands that are outside Ikoyi: Land in Ikeja, Lagos Island, Yaba, Apapa and all the land held by the federal government as state government of Lagos federal territory. So State Land Act was also transferred to Lagos State Land Law, at that time edict. So the quarters in Ikoyi for instance, the title to the quarters is held by the Lagos State under the Lagos Ikoyi State Land Law. That is one aspect of the decree in which the federal government is still at fault, is still holding on to doggedly. You talked extensively on fiscal federalism and the judiciary, I want you to look at the structure of the Nigerian federation. Beyond fiscal federalism, there are arguments that the structure itself has a problem. We moved from three to four regions. Under Gen. Gowon we moved to 12 states. Under Gen. Murtala we moved to 19 States and under Gen. Babangida we moved to 21 and now we have 36. If we add Abuja that makes it 37. The land mass has not increased, in fact, it has decreased because we ceded Bakassi. If you look at the states now some of them are not viable. Do we need 36 states? You are now summing up the problems. We brought up finance, judiciary, now we are talking of the states. The word restructuring means different things to different people. But the fact remains that we need to restructure the polity. I have dealt extensively with what went wrong with finance because we have abandoned fiscal federalism. Now it is federal government takes all. Judiciary, federal government takes all because it is in command of everything largely. The states creation is us, aided by the military. Gowon’s 12 states structure was in answer to demands by nationalists at the conference in 1957 and 1958. Middle Belt wanted their own state, oil producing states; Calabar, Ogoja, Rivers Movement wanted their state. All at the conferences in London and another conference held in Lagos. The Colonial government asked them to pick a choice - If you want Independence which you are demanding at first in 1959 which was later pushed to October 1, 1960, fine, but if you want creation of states or regions they were all demanding at that time, it would delay the granting of independence. That’s part of the record of the conferences at that time. But the oil states, the Middle Belt said they should go for independence. Borno, the Kanuris led by

The final product, 1979 Constitution, which Obasanjo signed, to me, is the critical year and critical period when Nigeria abandoned federalism and moved on to unitary system of government. If you have command of finance, what else?

Ibrahim Imam and other stalwarts there too said they wanted independence because they were never captured by the Fulanis. They were Kanuris and Shua Arabs and they wanted their own separate region. So it was by agreement by the nationalists by that time that they should all embraced independence. Mid West was created in 1963 by the political opponent of Action Group - NPC, NCNC. What Gowon did in creating 12 states was to end the agitation against one region being larger in area and size than the rest part of the federation. That was Northern Region. The other parties apart from NPC did not like that. All the parties whether in government or out of government revolted against the North having more than 50 per cent representation in the National Assembly which they got in 1954. That was what they demanded at Ibadan Conference of political leaders in 1950, the first of its kind. Saudana said he would not repeat the mistake of 1914 if they were not given at least 50 per cent representation in the new National Assembly. There was that agitation that the North was too big. So Gowon answered that part. He also answered the agitation of the COR (Calabar, Ogoja, Rivers) State Movement. Incidentally, Sir Udo Udoma in his biography explained why the COR did not become a state. Instead you have River State for Ijaws, Kalabaris and South Eastern States for the Ibibos and Efiks. Then Tarka, Middle Belt, the Tivs were in armed revolt before independence which was crushed by the army. They didn’t want to be part of the Northern Region. They wanted a region of their own. Then the Yorubas in Kwara also wanted to break away. Action Group fueled that fire. Just as Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe fueled the fire in Kano. Hausa largely led by Aminu Kano wanted his own state out of the North. What Gowon did after seizing power in 1967, not so much to break the backbone of Ojukwu, but to answer the demand by those who wanted new states. To me, that is the ideal situation as far as state creation is concerened. The Old Western Region minus Mid-West and minus part of Lagos Colony which came into being in 1861, that is Ikeja including Agege and Ikorodu, then Epe as a unit and Badagry as a unit; they were part of Lagos Colony before Nigeria was born. History had it that in the 50s, the Action Group was formed about 1950. There was a move of Lagos being marched with the Old-Western Region. Lagos which was about 100 years old as a colony operating separate administration. There was agitation by Lagos people with a slogan ‘Gedegbe l’ Eko wa’. It means they are not part of Western region and entirely on their own and the first to be captured by the British. What the British did was to take out the town and it became city in 1952. They took it out of the Colony/ Province and left the remaining part of the colony in the West. General Gowon now returned the rest of the Colony; Epe, Badagry and Ikeja to Lagos as a colony entity to become a state. The bulk of Yoruba speaking Nigerians were in the West. In fact, the bulk of Ibo speaking were in East Central State as a state. The North had been broken already. To me, creation of 12 states was a perfect fit for a federation, enjoying the benefit of finance as laid down in the 1963 constitution. But then Murtala came and everybody wants his local government, his village to be a state. In 2014, people still demanded creation of states to make it almost 60. The craze for creation of state creation also destroyed the federal structure of Nigeria. The more state you create the more powers you vest in the federal government. The money doesn’t grow according to your demands for states because it is the same amount of money you have, and now have the money distributed among 36 instead of 12. See concluding part on


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ MARCH 11, 2018


A Presidential Visit That Changed All Misgivings President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Plateau State, last week, changed all misgivings about his popularity in the state, writes Seriki Adinoyi


ndeed, everyone in Jos would agree that President Muhammadu Buhari was warmly received by the people of Plateau State during his two-day working visit to the Plateau State on Thursday and Friday last week. It was actually his first since he assumed power as President in 2015. Not even the wanton killings that characterised the incessant farmer/herdsmen clashes in the state had necessitated the need to visit, at least, to condole with the affected communities. The last that was seen of Buhari before last week was when he visited to campaign for his election in the build-up to the 2015 general election. Then, he was only an opposition candidate, and not many gave him much attention considering that he had been a serial loser of presidential elections. Only the Hausa community in Jos and a handful of others came out to receive him. Buhari, of course, lost to former President Goodluck Jonathan in Plateau in the 2015 elections just as he had always done in previous elections. Thus, visiting Plateau was definitely not one of his excitements, especially that he is a president that will not give ‘95% attention to a state that gave him 5% votes’. It is therefore understandable his reluctance to approving the visit, which he had earlier postponed three times. The participants of the Course 36 Senior Executive Course (SEC) of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, had paid the President a visit, during which they made passionate request that the President do them the honour of attending their graduation ceremony in November last year. The President was expected to use the visit to hold a town hall meeting with the people of the state and also inaugurate projects executed by Governor Simon Lalong of the state. But November came and passed, and the President gave reasons for shifting the visit. In January this year, Buhari again was rumoured to have planned a visit to the state. Again it was shifted to February, and later to March. When the coast became clear for his visit, an elated Lalong hurried to complete some of the ongoing projects slated for inauguration. He also declared a work-free day on Thursday “to enable civil servants troop out en masse to receive the President.” Then, the March 8 day eventually came. Alas! Many dignitaries, especially politicians truly came out in a large number to receive him at the Yakubu Gown Airport. It’s significant to note that even dignitaries from the opposition PDP were among those that came out to receive the President. The like of Senator Ibrahim Mantu, Senator Jonah Jang, and many serving PDP members of the House of Representatives were among the cream of dignitaries that defied party affiliations and went to the airport to receive the president. This was a good omen for a

Buhari acknowledging cheers from excited Plateau residents

Buhari that was perceived not to have shown enough care for the state, when it was at the peak of Farmer/ herders’ crisis. Even while the President’s convoy drove into the city from the Airport, he was received by a mammoth crowd that lined the road. The crowd was particularly much in locations dominated by citizens of Hausa/ Fulani extraction. For instance, areas such as, Gero Junction in

Bukuru, Dadin Kowa and Dogon Karfi/ Secretariat Junction moved out in large number to cheer him. He inaugurated the Mararaban Jama’a secretariat road, Miango state low-cost, Rafiki road, and Secretariat Junction Flyover. The President also paid a courtesy call on the Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers, the Gbong Gwom Jos, where he was also warmly received. Heads of federal and state establishments in the state not only gave out their buses for the visit, they led their staff to receive the President. At the town hall meeting, two things were expected: a low turnout, or visibly angry attendants, who were expected to tell Buhari the home truth about their disenchantment over herdsmen killings in the state. But it turned out to be a very cheerful moment, when the President cracked jokes with the people, and the attendants in turn expressed their delight with his government. During the town hall meeting, when the President also launched Peace-building agency of the state government, an obviously excited Buhari, who perhaps did not expect the sort of reception extended to him by the Plateau people, said he was reassured by the crowd he saw on the streets that he still has some followers in the state. “I sincerely thank the government and people of Plateau State for turning out en masse to welcome me to the state. This shows your faith in my government’s efforts at returning the country to the path of progress and genuine development. I wish to encourage the Governor to continue with the good works he is doing for his people. “I have listened carefully to the impressive statements by the Governor of Plateau State, and I am impressed with the judicious use of funds by the government. I have noted how the government has improved infrastructure, how he has been up to date with the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions, and above all, how he has restored peace in the state,” he said. In the area of peace, Buhari maintained that “I have been monitoring the activities of the Plateau State

Continued on Page 75

When Buhari Visited Taraba… Wole Oyedele


resident Muhammadu Buhari’s last week’s visit to Taraba State, which was hurriedly put together in order to bring the raging clashes between the Fulani’s and the Mambilla ethnic stock to a halt might have failed to achieve the objective as the clashes continued unabated days after he left the state. Also, hopes by the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of some sorts of succour from the President during the visit was dashed as he neither visited the troubled communities nor any of the IDP camps within Jalingo, the state capital. The President’s visit, which had a heavy security presence with two helicopters hovering over the town particularly the Government House where he held meeting with stakeholders, equally failed to find solutions to the cause(s) of the incessant crises. Rather, he shifted the e task to traditional rulers as he mandated them to resolve the Mambilla and other ethnic clashes in the state. In his words to the traditional rulers at the stakeholders’ meeting the President said the traditional institution, rather than the federal or state government, was better placed to find a lasting solution to the crisis due to its closeness to the people. Buhari, who was emphatic that he was in the

state to condole and symphatise with the victims of the Mambilla crisis despite the fact that other parts of the state had also witnessed violent clashes that claimed several lives and properties, told the traditional rulers to go and sit down with the people to find solutions to the problem just as he urged them to continue to preach peace in their domains. Giving reasons for mandating the traditional rulers to do the reconciliatory job, the president, who was accompanied on the trip by the Ministers of Information, Defence and Women Affairs as well as Service Chiefs stressed that himself and Ishaku would one day leave office as president and governor but the traditional rulers would remain with the people. “I am in Taraba State to condole with the victims of the Mambilla crisis and symphatise with them over their losses. The traditional rulers are in a better position to find solutions to the problems. “Myself as President and the governor would leave office only the traditional rulers that will remain with the people. Therefore, the traditional rulers should go and sit down with the people to find solutions to the problem and continue to preach peace”, he said. Buhari further noted that he chose to visit Taraba before other troubled areas because more people were killed on the Mambilla Plateau than in Benue and Zamfara States. Reactions started trailing the president’s

visit even before he left the state. Reacting to the president’s assertion that more people were killed in Mambilla than Benue or Zamfara, the President of Tiv Cultural and Social Association, Mr. Goodman Dan Dahida, described the President’s claims as unfortunate. Dahida said over 150 people were killed in Wukari, Gassol, Ibi and Lau local government in Taraba State, dozens were killed in Adamawa and hundreds others in Benue, which did not attract the attention of the President. “The President has just proved to Nigerians, where he belongs and the people he belongs to. He is specific about Mambilla killings, because his kinsmen were involved. Killings have been going on in Taraba and other places by Fulani herdsmen, but he has not visited any of these places. “In June last year, he sent his cronies to visit Mambilla, because Fulanis were reportedly affected in the crisis. I think the President should grow pass ethnic favouritism and treat all Nigerians as one. Every life of Nigerian counts,” he said. And for being silent over the killing of over 80 people by Fulani herdsmen in Lau, the representative of the Yangdan people, Dr. Alfred Kobiba also has scathing remarks for the President. Speaking to newsmen after the meeting with the President, Kobiba noted that he wrote a letter to Governor Ishaku, detailing the number of casualties recorded in the crisis as well as those

missing and copied same to the President, DG DSS, National Security Adviser and the Chief of Staff to the President but was shocked that the President did not make any comment on Lau but was only interested in Mambilla. According to him, “When Fulani herdsmen perpetrated the worst evil in our land in January, I wrote to the governor stating that 68 people were killed and 15 others missing and copied the letter to the President, DG DSS, NSA and Chief of Staff to the President but we are shocked that the President only talked about Mambilla without saying anything about the killings in Lau” Even though the President’s visit was expected to bring the clashes on the Mambilla Plateau to a halt, days after he left the state, killings and arson continued in the troubled area. Speaking to THISDAY in Jalingo, Chairman of Mambilla Progressive and Cultural Association (MAMPCA), Marcus Bovoa, said they were yet to ascertain the number of Mambillas that were killed at Yelwa, Maisamari and Tunga Ahmadu villages and in other areas while a source among the Fulani community also revealed that no fewer than twenty of them died during the crisis. Though the President had come to Taraba and gone, it would take a very long time for the dust generated by his visit to settle. Reactions trailing his visit have shown that rather than bring the people together, it has further polarised the various groups in the crisis.


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ MARCH 11, 2018




THISDAY Health Summit: Issues, Concerns and Way Forward for a Key Sector As part of its corporate social responsibility to help Nigeria focus on challenges of financing its health sector, THISDAY recently held a healthcare financing policy dialogue, which attracted huge participants. Iyobosa Uwugiaren captures the event


n spite of the four-day notice for the event, over 500 participants, including senior officials from government, private health sector, domestic and international public health institutions, as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), were at the recent THISDAY Policy Dialogue/ Summit. THISDAY, the nation’s leading newspaper of record, as part of its corporate social responsibility efforts to help Nigeria focus on the challenges of financing its health sector and finding sustainable solutions to them, held the policy dialogue, with technical support from The World Bank. The huge interest/concern by the participants, including some critical segments of the international community, could be seen in the finding of the Chief of Health, Nutrition and Population of The World Bank, Dr. Benjamin Loevinsohn. Giving reasons why the World Bank was involved in the summit, which was held at the Musa Yar’Adua Conference Centre, Abuja, the World Bank expert said Nigeria spends less on healthcare than almost any other country in the world, resulting in poor Nigerians paying out-of-pocket for their health He noted that most poor Nigerians were unable to afford adequate healthcare. “This government’s low spending also means the country is unable to spend adequately for health services and facilities. For instance, only about 10 per cent of Nigerian children are immunised, whereas in Chad and Niger, about 30 per cent and 50 per cent are immunised, respectively’’, Dr. Loevinsohn stated. “In addition, Nigeria is pretty much the worst place in West Africa to be a poor child or a poor mother. Again, this outcome is worse than in Lake Chad and in Niger. This is a real problem we can’t wish away. That is why we are involved.” Research findings also show that Nigeria is one of the developing countries faced with the “double burden” of persisting high prevalence of communicable diseases and rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases. Key health indicators such as maternal and infant mortality are worse than the Sub-Saharan African average, and Nigeria is not on track to tackling the challenges, including malaria - Nigeria’s most important public health challenge that is responsible for 60 per cent of outpatient visits to health facilities , 30 per cent of childhood deaths and 11 per cent of maternal deaths. Experts are of the few that over 90 per cent of Nigerians are at risk of malaria with o ver 100 million cases per year and about 300,000 deaths. Even the Federal Ministry of Health estimates a financial loss of approximately USD8.4 million. These frightening revelations are perhaps, what informed different experts and speakers drawn from the public and private health sector, who emotionally canvassed for a legal framework to finance the sector at the policy dialogue/summit, stressing that the framework should be robust enough to support the delivery of a set of high impact interventions.

The participants equally harped on the need for increased public investment in the health sector if Nigeria is to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). They noted that it would require encouraging state governments to increase public funding, as more than two-thirds of public sector funding for healthcare currently comes from the federal government. In a communiqué issued at the end of the THISDAY Health Financing Policy Dialogue, the participants observed that although investment in health leads to economic growth, Nigeria had invested too little and wastefully in the health sector, spending less than nearly every country in the world. In the lively, robust dialogue, moderated by Dr. Olumide Okunola, Senior Health Specialist, IFC/World Bank l MIGA- Investment Climate - Health in Africa Initiative (HiA), which attracted a huge audience, it was agreed that the country’s development partners should also support the federal government’s efforts at improving primary healthcare delivery, using the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) as the vehicle. That credible metrics and effective health planning, monitoring and evaluation, by federal and state ministries of health, according to the participants, were required to encourage confidence. They also agreed that the BHCPF should be funded without further delay in order to unleash the cycle of better health, economic and sustained development. Setting the tone for the conversation - while welcoming participants to the dialogue, the Chairman/Editor-in-Chief of THISDAY and ARISE NEWS CHANNEL, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, assured the audience that the media group would pay special attention to the health sector of the country for the next 12 months. “We at THISDAY have focused a lot on the economy and politics, but I believe as the election year draws near, we will be focusing more on the health issues. So, in the next 12 months, we would be focusing more on health and education,” he said. He also informed the audience that the forthcoming THISDAY Awards will target the health sector rather than governors and other politicians. He explained that health was critical to the overall development, peace and security of the country, adding that it helps to improve three key areas of national lives, namely: living standards, poverty and inequality. “Inequality is a problem because the country is faced with a great economic chasm between the rich and the poor,” he stated, while stressing that even the state of insecurity Nigeria is currently grappling with, was rooted in inequality. Mr. Obiagbena added, “To bridge this inequality gap will be through a special focus on health and education. But we have found out that government alone cannot tackle our healthcare challenges. So, the question is, how do we finance the health sector? How do we get the rich to finance the health sector?” The Director, Health Nutrition Population, the World Bank Group, Dr. Adeyi, while giving the keynote address at the policy

dialogue, expressed concern that public health spending, as a share of total health spending in Nigeria, was low at 22 per cent compared to 36 per cent for Lower-Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) and 57 per cent for Upper-Middle-Income (UMICs). He added that in the fight against out-of-pocket expenditure, which is being experienced by most Nigerians in accessing basic healthcare, the National Health Act has the capacity to be of benefit to eight million Nigerians by the end of 2018, if captured and implemented in the 2018 budget of the federal government. The World Bank expert said now was the time to unleash the National Health Act, adding that it would lift Nigerians out of poverty and misery, judging from the fact that Nigeria spends less on healthcare compared to any country in the world. He put the country’s spending on the health sector at 0.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), saying the current out-of-pocket expenditure was unacceptable and that Nigeria was prone to a poverty trap if the government fails in the provision of basic healthcare. While emphasising that universal health coverage was achievable in Nigeria, he explained that public accountability for basic healthcare services, credible budgeting of public funds and effective/sustained planning would tackle the challenges enveloping the universal health coverage in the country. According to him, “Nigeria is the second country living in poverty after India. The National Health Act will lift Nigerians out of poverty. At 0.6 per cent of GDP, Nigeria spends less on health compared to any country in the world, which is poor and below the middle and lower income average compared to other African countries. “Out-of-pocket expenditure is very unacceptable, which is 75.2 per cent of the total expenditure and the highest in the world, and projects Nigeria as having the weakest health revenue in the world. All states must receive equal share of funding based on population.” On his part, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, who actively participated in the conversation throughout the dialogue, said President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government recognises that the country’s future success depends on its capability to transform non-renewable natural capital into productive wealth by investing more in human capital. He said as the most populous country in Africa that has yet to complete its demographic transition, its human capital potential was substantial. “Yet, slow progress on poverty reduction, health outcomes, literacy, and governance challenges threaten further development. Our country is home to the second largest number of people living in extreme poverty, after India at 86 million in 2013, a 69 per cent increase from 1990’’, he stated. He confessed that the country significantly underperforms in key health outcomes such as life expectancy, maternal mortality, and child health compared to regional and lower to middle income averages. The Minister of Health agreed with the World Bank director


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R Ëž MARCH 11, 2018

CICERO/SPECIALREPORT t ISSUES, CONCERNS AND WAY FORWARD FOR A KEY SECTOR tContinued from Page 70 that Nigeria spends less on health than nearly every country in the world, adding that for Nigeria to accelerate progress to universal health coverage, the federal and state governments would need to significantly invest more in health. He continued, â&#x20AC;&#x153;In 2016, government health spending was 0.6 per cent as a share of GDP or just $11 per capita. This is below the regional and the lower to middle-income averages and the recommended $86 per capita for low and middle-income country benchmark needed to deliver a limited set of key health services.â&#x20AC;? Describing the dialogue as unique, the minister commended the management of THISDAY for the initiative, promising that the federal government would ensure that the outcome of the dialogue is promoted. He shared the popular view by the participants that although investment in health leads to economic growth, Nigeria invests too little and inefficiently in the health sector, spending less than nearly every country in the world. Explaining the importance of a sound, healthy environment, Adewole noted that without an educated, healthy workforce, the nation would not be able to build the necessary infrastructure, saying it was important that the narrative is changed with a proper accountability framework. Continuing, the minister wondered why the state governments and their health ministries were not doing enough to deliver improved healthcare services to the people, saying funds needed to be spent judiciously. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We must spend these monies judiciously, we must account for it and we must justify increased allocations. I believe that this meeting will help us to articulate further what we need to do. And the media has a role. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is my third year as a minister. When thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s disease outbreak in Calabar, there is diarrhoea in Kano, they say itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the Minister of Healthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s problem. Where are the Commissioners of Health? We should not assume that they do not have any role to play and everything is on the Federal Ministry of Health; that is wrong. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The states have a role to play, they have responsibilities, there are people in those states who need to be taken care of. But everything is for the federal government to resolve. Maybe, when oil prices were high and there was a lot of money, the federal government could take on everything. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But let the states rise up to the challenge, the states are not improving their health workforce; they are not employing nurses, they are not employing doctors, they are not even paying their salaries. At the state level, a consultant in the state earns close to what the most junior doctor at the federal level will earn. â&#x20AC;&#x153;That is where we have a problem. So, we need to work together and I must thank THISDAY. This is unique, this is unprecedented and I want to assure you that we will partner with you,â&#x20AC;? he stated. In his intervention, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Olarenwaju Tejuoso, said the Senate was working on modalities to see how N200 per 100 million Nigerians, which will translate to N20 billion per month, will solve the challenge of attaining the objectives of the National Health Act. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The minimum expectation for Nigeria to have a functional health system is 15 per cent of the budget, as captured by the Abuja Declaration, but 16 years after, this is still not feasibleâ&#x20AC;?, the senator added. He declared on his behalf and that of the minister that if the 2018 budget does not make any difference in the lives of Nigerians as it relates to health, then he would have no option than to change his portfolio in the Senate. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Senate Committee on Health is proposing to amend the Health Insurance Scheme. The private sector will take responsibility for funding the private sector. With N200 per 100 million Nigerians, which will translate to N20 billion per month, the health challenges in Nigeria will be a bygone issue,â&#x20AC;? the senator further added. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t implement it, what is the need of having it on paper? If the budget wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make any difference, letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s change portfolio. It will be best if I am taken to a place like the labour committee,â&#x20AC;? he said.

A cross section of participants at the summit

One of the panellists, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator John Eno, however, said that the issue was not about budgeting but efficiency in the implementation of the budget. For instance, he explained that the revenue framework submitted by the executive did not include the national health fund in the 2018 budget, hoping, however, that it will be done. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But then, when it is done how efficient are we going to be? But answering straightforward, the National Assembly is working to ensure the fund is included in the national budget of 2018 before it is passed,â&#x20AC;? he added. Another parliamentarian, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health, Hon. Betty Apiafia, agreed with her colleague, Senator Eno, saying: â&#x20AC;&#x153;We need to improve on the budgeting for the health sector, and of course the efficiency of the funds budgeted.â&#x20AC;? Also, the acting Director-General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr. Chidi Izuwa, while contributing to the panel discussion, said financing for universal health care coverage was not an issue, pointing out that the world is awash with funds. However, he said lenders would not give money when they are not sure about the investment climate, adding that the problem with Nigeriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s healthcare was not just funding, but quality and access. On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Mr. Uche Orji, said healthcare should be recognised as an investable sector, while making the case for training of personnel in the sector. The Chairman, House Committee on Primary Healthcare Services, Hon. Chika Okafor, also called for a neutral regulator that would observe what the HMOs are doing and taking impartial decisions. Meanwhile, the communiquĂŠ, which was read out by the Managing Director of THISDAY Newspaper, Mr. Eniola Bello, at the end of the policy dialogue, said: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Participants observed that although investment in health leads to economic growth, Nigeria invests too little and inefficiently in the health sector, spending less than nearly every country in the world.â&#x20AC;? It added: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Where political leadership has rallied stakeholders behind investments in the health sector, significant improvements have been possible. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The National Health Act passed in 2014, charts the way forward for increased investments in health and provides a legal framework for achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).â&#x20AC;? Part of the recommendations from the policy dialogue, the communiquĂŠ noted included: Improved transparency and accountability in public financial management; r-FHBMGSBNFXPSLGPSGJOBODJOHUIFIFBMUITFDUPSTIPVMECF robust enough to support the delivery of a set of high impact interventions; r*ODSFBTFEQVCMJDJOWFTUNFOUJTJNQPSUBOUJG/JHFSJBJTUP achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC); r%FWFMPQNFOUBTTJTUBODFTIPVMEPOMZTVQQPSUHPWFSONFOU policy; r4UBUFHPWFSONFOUTTIPVMEJODSFBTFQVCMJDGVOEJOHBTNPSF than two-thirds of public sector funding currently comes from the federal government; r5IFQVCMJDTIPVMEUBLFNPSFJOUFSFTUJOHPWFSONFOUQPMJDZBOE funding of the health sector and should demand greater accountability and transparency; r5IF#BTJD)FBMUI$BSF1SPWJTJPO'VOE #)$1' TIPVMECF funded without further delay, in order to unleash the cycle of better health, and sustained economic development; r%FWFMPQNFOUQBSUOFSTUPTVQQPSUUIFGFEFSBMHPWFSONFOUT efforts to improve primary care delivery using the BHCPF as the vehicle; r$SFEJCMFNFUSJDTBOEFGGFDUJWFIFBMUIQMBOOJOH NPOJUPSJOH and evaluation by the Federal and State Ministries of Health is


required to engender confidence; r3FEVDUJPOJOPVUPGQPDLFUQBZNFOUTBUQPJOUPGTFSWJDF delivery through better and improved public investments in health; r&GGJDJFOUVTFPGUIFQSJWBUFTFDUPSGPSTVQQMZDIBJOTBOEDMJOJDBM delivery; r%FWFMPQNFOUPGJOTUJUVUJPOTUPQFSGPSNDPSFQVCMJDIFBMUI functions; r)FBMUI*OTVSBODFTIPVMECFNBEFDPNQVMTPSZ r$IBOOFMMJOHDJWJMTPDJFUZBDUJWJTNBOEFNFSHJOHBDDPVOUBCJMJUZ paradigm; and r'.P)BOE/4*"TIPVMERVJDLFOUIFEFMJWFSZPGUIFDFOUSFTPG excellence in existing teaching hospitals. The issues raised by the participants at the dialogue is a strong verdict that Nigeria has consistently ignored the commitment it made alongside other African countries 16 years ago on funding of health care services for its citizens. Nigeria hosted the Heads of State of member countries of the African Union (AU) in 2001, which made the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Abuja Declarationâ&#x20AC;? under which the leaders pledged to commit at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to improving their health sector. Since the declaration, Nigeria has refused to attain the pledged funding benchmark as the federal government has refused to vote more than six per cent of its annual budget to the health sector. The highest since the declaration was in 2012 when 5.95% of the budget was allotted to health. In the 2018 Budget proposal Buhari presented to the National Assembly, he allocated a mere N340.45 billion -- about 3.9 per cent of the N8.6 trillion expenditure plan to the health sector. The budgetary allocation is less than the 4.16 per cent and 4.23 per cent made to the health sector by the administration in the 2017 and 2016 budgets. Nigeria again hosted over 50 African Heads of State in a special summit that was tagged â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The Abuja +12 meetingâ&#x20AC;? in 2011, which reviewed the progress made on the promise of the Abuja Declaration on health funding. The implication of low funding of the health sector is that Nigerians spend estimated N359.2 billion on medical tourism annually. Experts believe that the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s health situation is of mounting worry especially in the insurgency shrunken North Eastern region where access to medical care has reduced. Several data also show that Nigeria has one of the worst health care delivery records in the world. The World Health Organization in its recent report rated Nigeria 187th out of 191 countries in terms of health care delivery. The world health body said onethird of more than 700 health facilities had been destroyed in Nigeria and about 3.7 million people are in need of health assistance, placing Nigeria at third highest in infant mortality rate in the world. Medical experts have also described as troublesome data released by international agencies, which put Nigeriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s maternal mortality rate at 68,000, showing that Nigeria recorded the second highest maternal death rate in the world recently.


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ MARCH 11, 2018



ast week, THISDAY held a Policy Dialogue on Healthcare Financing at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja. Here are some of the personalities at the event. Photos:JuliusAtoiandGodwin Omoigui

L-R: Mr. Olusoji Adeyi, Hon. Betty Apiafi, Prof. Isaac Adewole, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, Senator John Owan Enoh, Senator Olarewaju Tejuoso and Chidi Izuwah

Mr. Nduka Obaigbena (r) in handshake with Prof. Isaac Adewole, while Dr. Ben Nkechika looks with interest

Senator John Owan Enoh (r) and Oghogho Olakunrin

Senator Olarewaju Tejuosho (r) and Hon Betty Apiafi

Osagie Okunbor and Mr Uche Orji

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ MARCH 11, 2018



Mr. Nduka Obaigbena (l) and Mrs. Oghogho Olakunrin

L-R: Ayodeji Ajiboye, Umar Yar’Adua and Emily Crawford

Otunba Eddie Aderinokun (l) and Chief Tony Amadi

A cross section of participants at the summit

Mr. Eniola Bello (l) and Mr. Dan Akpovwa

R-L: Dr Felix Ogbera , Mr Emmauuel Onwodi and Mr Odili Onu

Mr. Tony Isama, Dr. Walter Olatunde and another participant


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ MARCH 11, 2018


Dr. Clement Nwafor and Dr. Emmanuel Mosibole

L-R: Jerome Mafenia; Sen I Y Zarewa and Dr. Garba Abdu

Femi Oduneye (l) and Mrs Modele Sarafa-Yusuf

L-R: Mr. Yinka Abegunde ; Mr. Franklyn Ekeh and Ada Ezeokoh

Dr. Kolawole Maxwell (l) and John Dodo

Prince Albert Awofisayo (l) and Anthony Okodu

Mr. Eniola Bello and Mr. Peter Ishaka

L-R , Mr. Kolawole Maxwell, Dr. Bala Audu and Mr. Mike Egboh


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ JANUARY 28, 2018


Nigeria - Ghana: The Imperative of Unity Bukola Saraki


t is 59 years since Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s historic visit to Nigeria - in 1959 - in those heady days after the first All African People’s Conference, which Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe hailed as the beginning of a Federation of Independent West African States. Noting that Ghana and Nigeria’s struggles were identical in many respects, Dr. Azikiwe had declared that, “The very diversity of our peoples, and customs and languages, means that we have much to contribute to each other.” He looked forward to our two countries becoming “models of honest and democratic government” capable of giving hope to all of Africa. Typically, when we hear of a ‘special relationship’ between nations, it is with regard to Britain and America; and as the Reagan and Thatcher era showed forth, these are relationships that outlive governments. Ours, too, is a special relationship, which should outlive us and be a reference point in Africa. The onus and leadership rest on us. What we do now, lays the basis for the continent’s future. Here then is the imperative of unity between our two nations and in the region. With unity and democracy as standard, we can lay the groundwork for good governance and development. We are thus presented with the opportunity to work for democracy, using the instrumentality of parliament. If Africa is to be fully integrated into the global economy, its constituent nations must be governed by the rule of law, and we have to commit to making the required adjustment now. The strength of democracy starts with the strength of parliament. It is our responsibility to instil in the body politic the time-honoured principles of participation, transparency and accountability, and to fight corruption, always making the space for stakeholder participation. This is the modern model of governance. Parliaments are a stabilising force in democracy, especially with regard to oversight responsibility. We must be courageous; even when some of our initiatives fly in the face of special interest, ours is to do what is right for our people. To do this, we must defend democracy. We have seen for ourselves the beauty of democracy in its infancy. That should give us the inspiration to steer it to a level where it can compete favourably with older democracies in the developed world. As a community of democratic West African States, ECOWAS makes it that much easier to build consensus; and the organisation can serve this purpose very effectively on security and the economy. As many regional challenges indicate, our people suffer when the needed policies are not in place. In Nigeria, Boko Haram insurgency and Herdsmen-and-Farmers conflicts come with regional dimensions - further aggravated by porous borders that advertise the weakness in trans-national security, while facilitating irregular migration and human trafficking. There is a need to strengthen our security apparatus so that together, we can fight terrorism. It is a threat to government, education and economic development. We have much to build upon. Trading relations between Nigeria and Ghana have begun to peak. Collaboration between the Nigerian film industry - Nollywood - and Ghanaian actors, directors and producers, remind us that age-old competition in football and even music – for who can forget the glory days of E.T. Mensah and his co-travellers in Highlife? – all of that, can be channelled in truly great and creative directions. We are the richest continent in resources and yet we are the poorest, because we have allowed ourselves to be pigeon-holed as the supplier of raw materials to the world. The leaders of our

Saraki presenting an ostrich egg with the map of Africa painted on it to President Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra, Ghana...recently

two countries are clear in their stance on the raw materials pivot of our economies. President Muhammadu Buhari has said that, “Our vision is for a Nigeria in which we grow what we eat.” And President Akufo-Addo is unequivocal: “We must add value to [our] resources, we must industrialise and we must enhance agricultural productivity.” The two leaders have identified this flaw in our economies, and we in parliament must support them with appropriate legislation in order to realise their vision. African parliaments have to come together to cross-pollinate ideas about how to move the continent forward. It is unacceptable that Africa’s trade with Europe far outstrips that between African nations. British foreign investment in Africa totalled $54.1 billion in 2014. China had an estimated 2,650 projects ongoing on our continent in 2015. Meanwhile, Africa’s share of the global trade stands at 3 per cent, inter-Africa trade is 11 per cent. We must devise an economic model that produces and manufactures primarily for the African market, and then use that as a basis upon which to engage with the wider world. I strongly believe that our people’s talent for innovation and enterprise makes them our most valuable resources – it is our role therefore, to give them opportunities to translate these into going concerns. This will create wealth and enable us to compete globally. Africa cannot afford to lag behind. We must work to make the sub-region a place of investment. We must generate wealth for the people of Africa. It is incumbent on us to make clear promises and to deliver on

them. Our two nations can forge ahead by sharing experiences, building upon valued discourses about the way the world works, and how to make our people beneficiaries as well as contributors to the great leaps of this century. We must invest in primary, secondary and tertiary education – up to the 26 percent of the national budget recommended by the United Nations. It must be mandatory for every child to go to school; we should ensure that there are incentives for those that send their children to school, and penalties for those that do not. We have to pull every one of our citizens out of the cycle of poverty and ignorance, and education is the means by which to do so. My vision for Africa is an optimistic one. I am very upbeat about the continent, I am very upbeat about the future. Greater educational, scientific and technological interaction can lay a basis for our part of the world to match the rest of the world. Democracy is not just about elections; it is about putting knowledge at the disposal of a people determined to take their future into their own hands. If the African continent is to be a success story – or even the African Union (AU) for that matter, ECOWAS must play a key role. And for ECOWAS to lead the charge, Ghana and Nigeria must step up to the plate, and fulfil their leadership role on the continent. ––––An abridged version of the speech delivered by Senate President Bukola Saraki to the Parliament of Ghana last week

t A PRESIDENTIAL VISIT THAT CHANGED ALL MISGIVINGS tContinued from Pg. 69 Peace-Building Agency. I am indeed quite impressed with gains and successes recorded in the area of conflict management and peace-building, which have returned this state on the path of relative peace. As I formally endorse and launch the Plateau State Roadmap to Peace, let me express the federal government’s commitment to support and assist the Peace Building Agency in its effort to arrest the vicious cycle of violence and lay the foundation for sustainable peace.” In the area of Agriculture, where the state government had purchased 400 tractors to improve the fortunes of farmers in the state, Buhari said it was noteworthy that Lalong’s achievements on agriculture were laudable. “I am glad that the state government has keyed into the All Green initiative and the Anchor Borrowers Scheme of the federal government. I must commend the state government for its commitment to African Development Bank funded Potato Value Chain Support Project, which is targeted at wealth creation, empowerment generation and food security.” Buhari’s excitement for the warm reception possibly pushed him further to grant nearly all the requests brought before him by the government and the people of the state. He promised to look into the genuine request for the dualisation and construction of the road from Abuja to Jos and the gateway extending to the North East, given the economic viability and conveniences. He added that he would also look into Lalong’s request for more slots for the state in federal appointments so as to reflect federal character in line with his

government’s determination to address the issues of marginalisation in the spread of appointments and other privileges. “The desire of the state to turn Riyom General Hospital to Trauma/Disaster Hospital is a genuine one in view of the location of Riyom as the gateway into the state capital from Abuja. I will direct the Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Road Safety Corps to working close collaboration with the Plateau State Government towards the actualisation of this project”, Buhari assured. He also promised to refund the money expended on the rehabilitation of the Jos-Bukuru-Mararaban Jama’a road, which is a federal road project in the state. “I hereby direct the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing as well as other relevant agencies to expedite action towards the refund of such funds to the Plateau State Government and the listing of other road projects.” Evidently overwhelmed by the success of the presidential visit, especially by the warm reception accorded him by the Plateau people, Lalong told journalists after Buhari had been airlifted that he was very happy that the president came and left without any hitch. He added that Buhari’s visit was a strong motivation to him to do more for the people of Plateau State. He said, “Usually, when a president visits a state, it’s either that there is a trouble in the state that the president is not happy about, or he is pleased with the development in the state. In our case here in Plateau, the president has visited, because he is happy with us. The crowd that came out to receive him was a show of acceptance.”

While some considered the warm reception for the president an extension of the people’s love for Lalong’s administration whom they considered to have done well in the areas of restoration of peace to the state and welfare of civil servants, others simply believed that Plateau people were a faint-hearted lot, who had no courage to confront Buhari with his obvious failures, especially in the areas of providing security for them. They observed that while Buhari was still in the state, over eleven persons were hacked down by Fulani herdsmen in Bassa and Bokkos local government areas. They believed that for a government that was celebrating peace and launching Peace Roadmap in the state, the killings while the President was still in the state was a big setback. The opposition has therefore advised Buhari to go beyond the euphoria of the loud reception to fulfilling his many promises to the people of the state and Nigerians by giving them security. They believed that governance was not just about making promises but getting them fulfilled. The opposition therefore said, “We look forward to one day that Buhari’s Fulani kinsmen will stop the killings in the state. We look forward to the day dilapidated Abuja-Jos road will be rehabilitated and dualised. We look forward to one day, when hunger will become history in Plateau; and we look forward to one day, when our hospitals will start working and our president wouldn’t have to be flown to foreign countries for mere treatment of ear pains/infection. Only then will we take Buhari seriously, not when herdsmen are on rampage in our state, even during his visit.”


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾MARCH 11, 2018

SUNDAYSPORTS Man United Subdue Liverpool in Battle for Second

Edited by Demola Ojo Email


oseMourinhoslammedcriticismofManchester United’s cautious approach in their 2-1 win over bitter rivals Liverpool yesterday, while West Ham fans rebelled in ugly scenes during their 3-0 defeat against Burnley. Marcus Rashford scored twice in the first 25 minutes at Old Trafford as United held off a Liverpool fightback to move five points clear of their visitors in second place in the Premier League. United also closed to within 13 points of Manchester City, but barring a late-season collapse by the runaway league leaders, that gap looks unbridgeable. Liverpool were left to rue a slow start as Rashford twice finished impressively after Romelu Lukaku had outmuscled Dejan Lovren. Jurgen Klopp’s side dominated possession as United sat back for long periods and Eric Bailly’s 66th-minute own goal set up a tense finish. “If people don’t think we deserved it, I don’t care,” Mourinho said. “I am a bit tired, we have a match on Tuesday. I don’t care what people say. The boys are happy, I’m happy.” Just a second defeat in 21 Premier League games leaves Liverpool still third, but they could drop to fourth if Tottenham win at Bournemouth today. “Second half we had to continue chasing the game, then we scored the goal and should have been a penalty around Fellaini situation on Sadio,” Klopp lamented. At the London Stadium, West Ham could face a heavy fine or possibly even a temporary ground closure as a result of their fans’ shameful behaviour. Ashley Barnes blasted Burnley in front from 18 yards in the 66th minute, prompting an angry West Ham supporter to run onto the pitch, where he was tackled to the ground by Hammers star Mark Noble. The mood among the home fans turned even more toxic when Burnley’s Chris Wood doubled the visitors’ lead in the 70th minute. Supporters flocked towards the directors box chanting “sack the board” at co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold, while another ran onto the field to grab the corner flag. Wood added insult to injury in the 81st minute when he tapped in after a mistake by Hammers goalkeeper Joe Hart. Gold and Sullivan were asked to leave the stadium for their own safety before the final whistle as the West Ham fans continued to turn their anger on the directors. Burnley’s coaching staff allowed children caught up in the chaos to shelter in their dug-out and Hammers

Rashford scored twice for United yesterday boss David Moyes, whose side are only three points clear of the relegation zone, admitted he could understand why tensions boiled over. “The players understand. We want to do well, just like the fans do,” Moyes said. “We want the supporters behind us. They can’t cross the line and come onto the pitch. I haven’t seen that before in my time in football.” West Ham vowed to take “decisive and appropriate action” after completing a “full and thorough investigation”, while the Football Association “strongly condemned” the disturbances. Meanwhile, Chelsea got back on track with a

2-1 victory over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge. Beaten in their previous two matches, Chelsea took the lead through Willian’s deflected effort in the 25th minute. Martin Kelly’s own goal seven minutes later doubled Chelsea’s lead and Patrick van Aanholt’s 90th-minute goal came too late to rescue third-bottom Palace. Antonio Conte’s fifth-placed side closed to within two points of Tottenham in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League. “We deserved to win,” Conte said. “For sure when you have so many chances it is important to be clinical, but we must be pleased with the

performance and prepare for Barcelona.” Newcastle boosted their survival bid and kept Southampton in trouble with a 3-0 win at St James’ Park, the goals coming from Kenedy’s brace and a Matt Ritchie strike while West Brom remain rooted to the bottom of the table as Leicester’s 4-1 win at the Hawthorns increased the pressure on boss Alan Pardew. Salomon Rondon put Albion ahead but Jamie Vardy,RiyadMahrez,KelechiIheanachoandVicente Iborra replied for Leicester. Everton beat Brighton 2-0,whileSwanseadrew0-0atHuddersfielddespite having Jordan Ayew sent off.

Bundesliga: Bayern Close in on Title with Lewandowski Hat-trick Robert Lewandowski grabbed a hat-trick as Bayern Munich romped to a 6-0 victory over crisis-stricken Hamburg in the Bundesliga yesterday. The victory keeps Bayern on course to wrap up another Bundesliga title -- their sixth in a row -- before the end of March, and heaps misery on Hamburg, who are now without a win in 13 games. “We played very well today. The performance and result were very important for us,” said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, whose side go to Besiktas for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in midweek, leading 5-0 from the first leg.

With eight games left, Bayern are a huge 20 points clear of second-placed Schalke, who won 1-0 at Mainz on Friday. “It doesn’t matter if we are 10, 15 or 20 points ahead, we need to keep going in the Bundesliga,” said Arjen Robben. “We can’t just focus on the Champions League.” Bayern have made a habit of recording big home wins over Hamburg at the Allianz Arena in recent years and it took them less than eight minutes to take the lead this time. Franck Ribery broke away on the left before

rounding goalkeeper Christian Mathenia to slot in the opener. Just four minutes later, Lewandowski headed in a Joshua Kimmich cross to double the lead for Bayern. The Polish international struck again in the 19th minute, after a pinpoint long ball from JeromeBoatenghadopeneduptheHamburgdefence. Robben fired in Bayern’s fourth on 55 minutes, and Ribery made it five with a mazy solo run in the 80th minute. Lewandowski blasted one penalty over the bar on 85 minutes, before converting a second spot-kick at the death to complete his hat-trick.

Sharapova Splits with Coach Maria Sharapova has “mutually agreed” to part company with her coach of four years, Sven Groeneveld. Groeneveld started working with Sharapova in 2014, and helped her to win the French Open that season. The pair remained a team during the Russian’s 15-month doping ban for taking meldonium in 2016. But the 30-year-old Russian has won just five matches this year, and was beaten in the first round at Indian Wells this week. Sharapova said the pair had enjoyed “four successful and challenging years of collaboration”. “Although we have mutually agreed to part ways during this time, I have been incredibly fortunate to have a team leader like him in my corner for the past four years,” she added. The Dutch coach has previously worked with players including Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki and Britain’s Greg Rusedski. “Maria has been one of the most hardwork-

ing and professional players I have ever worked with and I have the deepest respect for her as a player and person,” he said. “As a purpose-driven organisation working to build a bright future for all, Unilever will continue to invest in initiatives such as the Africa Idea Trophy providing African youth with the required skills needed to secure employment and unlock their full potential,” concluded Yaw.

RESULTS & FIXTURES Man United Everton Huddersfield Newcastle West Brom West Ham Chelsea Arsenal Bournemouth

2-1 2-0 0-0 3-0 1-4 0-3 2-1 v v

Liverpool Brighton Swansea Southampton Leicester Burnley Crystal Palace Watford 2:30pm Tottenham 5pm

Sharapova crashed out at the first round at IndianWells

His latest exploits in front of goal mean he has now scored 100 Bundesliga goals for Bayern and is the club’s all-time leading foreign goal-scorer with 142 from 182 games in all competitions. He overtakes the Brazilian Giovane Elber, who played for the club from 1997 to 2003. Meanwhile, Hamburg remain seven points adrift of safety as they seek to avoid a first relegation in their history. “The game was over after 18 minutes,” Hamburg coach Bernd Hollerbach told Sky. “There is no shame in losing in Munich, but I am not happy with the way we lost.”


High Life

77      ͎͎͜;ʹ͜͜ͳ;ͳͰ

...Amazing lifestyles of Nigeriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rich and famous

Pageantry of the Rich... Powerful Families, Smitten Couples, the Grandest Parties!

Mohammed Usman AbdulRazaq and wife, Amirah

Idris Ajimobi and wife, Fatima


he feast of the rich are never for the faint hearted; glamour and lyre, pageantry and cut stones are simply ďŹ&#x201A;ashes of the cache unapologetically put on display; there is always more treasure to be showcased, more pleasure to be had. The unique coincidence of billionaire class weddings in March commenced with the wedding of Mohammed Usman Abdul-Razaq and Amirah Barde Mohammed. Usman is the grandson of billionaire nonagenarian lawyer and former President Nigerian Stock Exchange, Alhaji AGF AbdulRazaq SAN. The groom Usman is an investment banker formerly of Morgan Stanley, London and now works with a leading African investment institution. Usmanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mother Foluke Abdul-Razaq is the reknowned banker and nonexecutive director of UBA plc whilst his father is the very wealthy and self-eďŹ&#x20AC;acing erudite lawyer, Dr Alimi Abdul-Razaq. The family owns the reputable Bridge House College

MISTAKEN IDENTITYâ&#x20AC;ŚWHO IS AFTER TONY RAPU? Except on very rare occasions, it is hard to see men of God like Pastor Tony Rapu get angry. However, that flipside of gangling pastor may flip over if mischief makers donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop linking him with a fraud case where he was alleged to be the victim. Tony has refuted strongly, innuendoes and inferences linking him with the case. It was another Tony Rapu, actually. The story goes thus, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal office, on Tuesday arraigned Olawunmi Dilureni before Justice S.O. Solebo of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja on an eight-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money

Ikoyi, Lagos. Amirahs father, Alhaji Barde, is a famous veteran journalist and former director at NTA. The wedding Fatiha nuptials took place Saturday February 25 in Kano and the wedding reception was held Sunday March 4 in Abuja. In Kano both Royal Houses of the Emirs of Kano and Ilorin were represented by the Makaman Kano, Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim; the Turakin Gwandu, Mallam Bello Ibrahim; Emir of Yalleman, Sardauna Habib ibn Tal. Magajin Garin Ilorin, Alhaji Yahaya Magaji; the Zanna of Ilorin, Engr. Lanre Shagaya; and the Jarma of Ilorin, Alhaji Kola Belgore. Other personalities included General Halilu Akilu, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu, Gen. Maimalari, Col .Lawan Gwadabe, Malam Isiaka AbdulRazaq, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, and Mr. Mahey Rasheed. The wedding reception which took place at the International conference Centre, Abuja was attended by the cream of Nigerian society. They included Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Chief Segun Osoba, Tunde Folawiyo, Mrs Wonu Folami, Mrs. Muri Okunola and

Chief Mrs Kemi Nelson. Billionaire business moguls, lgoh Sanomi, Capt. Hosa Wells Okunbo, Mr Gbolade Osibodu, Mr Shola Adeeyo, and Julius Rone. Mr Andrew Alli , CEO of AFC; Mrs Tomi Somefun, CEO of Unity Bank; and Cyril Chukwumah, ex CEO Bank PHB; Dr Ghaji Bello, DG National Population Commission; and Dr. Chidi Izuwah, DG/CEO Infrastructure Regulatory Commission; Admiral Jubril Ayinla; AVM Ombu; AVM Ashebu; and Dr. Ibrahim Lame, board chairman NAMA, to mention a few. The AbdulRazaqs reception was chaired by Alhaji Aliko Dangote and the guests of honour were President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the National Security Adviser, Gen M. Monguno; former Vice President Namadi Sambo; Mr Tony Elumelu, Chairman UBA PlC; Chief Ferdinand Alabraba; Chief Kola Jamodu; Ambassador and Mrs Joe Keshi; Mrs Onari Duke; Khadijat Bukar Abba; Zainab Ahmed; Sen Liyel Imoke; Gen Mohammed Marwa; Senator Ibrahim Mantu; Sen

by false pretence and stealing to the tune of N23,320,000. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The defendant alongside Lola Aremu Anjorin, Tunde Jamiu, Oluremi Osobu and Home Concepts Limited (all at large) allegedly conspired to defraud a popular Lagos pastor, Dr. Tony Rapu, Nellie St. Matthew-Daniel and Eyitope St. Matthew-Daniel of the money. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;One of the count reads: â&#x20AC;&#x153;That you, Olawumi Dilureni, on or about the 16th day of April, 2013 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, obtained the sum of N10,000,000. 00 (Ten Million Naira only) from one Dr. Anthony Rapu under the pretence that the money is for investment in diesel supply

business with a monthly interest rate of 6.5%, which pretext you knew to be false and committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1) and 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, No. 14 of 2016. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Another count reads: â&#x20AC;&#x153;That you, Olawunmi Dilureni, on or about 17th April, 2013, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, dishonestly converted for your own use the sum of N10, 000, 000. 00 (Ten Million Naira) only property of Tony Rapu and committed an offence contrary to Sections 278 and 285(1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State No. 11, 2011â&#x20AC;?. The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to her. In view of her plea, the prosecution

Gbenga Ashafa; Senator C Obi and Hon. Nenna Ukeje who were present in solidarity with Sen Khairat Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe the groomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s aunty. Also over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd March, Kano hosted the wedding of Governor Gandujeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s daughter, Fatima, and Governor Ajimobiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s son, Idris, which was attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, many governors and leading politicians. After the AbdulRazaq/ Barde and Ganduje/Ajimobiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s weddings, is the highly anticipated wedding of business mogul, Aliko Dangoteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s daughter, Fatima, and Jamil Abubakar, son of former IG Mohammed Dikko Abubakar. The wedding fatiha takes place March 16th in Kano and will be followed by a grand dinner reception in Lagos on 23rd March. On the heels of the Dangoteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s is the wedding of Vice President Yemi Osinbajoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s daughter, Damilola, and the son of billionaire oil mogul, Hajia Bola Shagaya, Oluwaseun Bakare scheduled for 15th to 17th March. counsel, Fadeke Giwa, asked the court for a trial date and also urged the court to remand the defendant in prison custody. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Counsel to the defendant, Tunde Kolawole, however, informed the court that he had filed an application for bail on behalf of his client. The prosecution counsel told the court that she was served the bail application yesterday and that she needed time to respond accordingly. She, therefore, asked for a short date to enable her reply in writing. Justice Solebo adjourned the case to March 14, 2018 for hearing of the application for bail and ordered the defendant to be remanded in prison custody pending the hearing of her bail application.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;




The Quintessential Matriarch... Pastor Chris Oyakhilomeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Mother, Angelina, Turns 80 ËžĂ&#x2039;Ă&#x2014;Ă&#x201C;Ă&#x2013;ĂŁĂ?Ă?Ă&#x2013;Ă?Ă&#x152;Ă&#x153;Ă&#x2039;Ă&#x17E;Ă?Ă?Ă&#x2019;Ă?Ă&#x153; Ă&#x201C;Ă&#x2DC;Ă?Ă&#x2013;Ă&#x2039;Ă?Ă?ĂŁĂ?Ă?Ă&#x153;Ă?Ă&#x2014;Ă&#x2122;Ă&#x2DC;ĂŁ


o her loved ones, Angelina Oyakhilome is rare gem. There is no such thing in nature or humankind that measures up to her fairness and grace. If you ask them, her children, in-laws and grandchildren would earnestly tell you that she is that rare icon fate invents to stun mortality. By her industry, lofty politics and compassion, Madam Angelina, the beautiful mother of Rev. Chris Oyakhilome, excites uncommon adulation, which remains the treasure of icons and Africaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most revered Amazons. Thus as she turned 80 few days ago, the Oyakhilome clan came together to celebrate her in a ceremony befitting of a matriarch, at her residence in Benin City, Edo State. Predictably, Madam Oyakhilome looked resplendent in her dazzling attire and expensive jewelry thus making nonsense of speculations that she had lost the dash and ĂŠlan that defined her back then.

Interestingly there was no mention of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Pastorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in the counts, rather the Tony Rapu mentioned was addressed as â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Dr.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Mischief makers should therefore stop linking this revered man of God to this case.

REALITY BITESâ&#x20AC;Ś AUDU ABUBAKARâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S TEENAGE WIDOW, OLIVIA, ADJUSTS TO LIFE WITHOUT THE OBSEQUIOUSNESS AND PANOPLIES OF POWER While her husband was alive, she had the sweetest experience of the world; she knew what it is to be the heartthrob of the political godfather. She understood what it is to be courted by the lowly-placed, the high and mighty seeking innumerable favours from her husband. But no sooner her husband died than she tasted the bitter pill of betrayal. In friendship, she found coldness and

Deaconess A.Oyakhilome ďŹ&#x201A;anked by her son and Archbishop Margaret Idahosa

in trust, she found treason. It appears her whole world has come crashing down like a giant iceberg. And the reasons are not far-fetched: no sooner the remains of her powerful husband were lowered into the grave than his friends and political associates began to desert his political empire and family. Few people would forget how death snuffed out the life of Abubakar Audu at the time his life got sweetest. At the dawn of his electoral victory, the grim reaper harvested the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial flagbearer from mother earth, as the hurricane uproots dandelions from their shallow depths. What most people do not know is that, at his demise, the Kogi state gubernatorial hopeful left behind a very cute teenage wife. Late Audu had a very tender and gentle younger wife, Olivia, before he passed on. It is not confirmed if she conceived for him but they both had a smooth union over the years before his demise. Reports have it that she was already fantasizing about being the youngest First Lady in the history of Kogi State and in Nigeria as a whole. Olivia, an half-caste, hails from the Tiv-part of Benue State, as her mum is from Ugba/Unongo family. She was an undergraduate of the University of Jos then and was definitely not prepared for life as a widow.

chairman of Quits Aviation Services Nigeria Limited and Legend Lagos Airport, achieves this with unequalled grace and ĂŠlan. The perfect symbol of business excellence, Iwuajoku has made good his words that soon, the first-ever hotel around the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, would become a reality. It has happened! The new hotel called LEGENDâ&#x20AC;ŚCurio by Hilton, would throw its doors open for business at the prestigious ExecuJet, Lagos International Airport, Lagos, in few weeks time. The Legend would not only emerge as the first in its class in the Mainland and beyond, the owners truly went off the beaten track to give patrons a memorable time. As you enter into this truly unique world of comfort, service and style magnificently located in a picturesque part of the airport, one of the first


Olivia Abubakar

Yes, very few businessmen can knead the tripartite traits of genius, modesty and character into that moral and humane centaur that remains unattainable to generations of tycoons and billionaires like Sam Iwuajoku. The billionaire businessman and the

Sam Iwuajoku

things that would arrest your attention is the Legendâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sheer architectural delight and pristine environment, which make it an ideal place for pleasure and business. Everywhere is spick and span and has the halo of paradise. Everywhere features uniquely designed interiors with contemporary furnishings with elegant styling and attention to detail. All rooms carry a fresh and modern design with free high-speed wireless Internet. Guests can enjoy dining at the hotelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all-day dining restaurant serving international and local cuisine, a steak house restaurant ready to calm a carnivorous craving, as well as a destination rooftop terrace and stylish lobby cafĂŠ. A visit to the hotel last week was quite an experience. However, angels fly because they take themselves lightly. They do not think too much of themselves, so does Iwuajoku. Like an angel, he takes himself very lightly despite his worth and intimidating stature. He wears his badge of temperance and humility in the shape of a subtly hued bowtie. Sam is indeed a modest, compassionate, accommodating and understanding man. His story offers great lesson for all because it defangs too many of the prejudices and stereotypes that unfairly holds ambitious youth back. In fact, he achieved success the old-fashioned way: he earned it. He worked hard and stayed humble. A smart business magnate, Sam is a bold disrupter of the aviation model. And Nigeria and Africa are the better for it. His forays into the business sector are richly layered and iconic.




High Society Excited as Dehinde Fernandezâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Grandson Marries Former Governor Donald Dukeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Daughter April


he faults that mar the commonerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hard-earned marriage hardly afflicts the wedlock of the rich - the faults of impoverishment, faults of denial and other extreme inadequacies to be precise. This is because the rich seldom marry outside their class. Often times, a filthy rich kid marries into a super rich family. Thus money mixes with money and fortune meshes with class. The former governor of Cross River, Donald Duke, is about to become an inlaw of one of Nigeriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s preeminent billionaires, the late ambassador plenipotentiary, Dehinde Fernandez. The Baron of Dudley and global businessman died September 2015. Fernandezâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s death would however not take the shine off the proposed union between his grandson, Derin Phillips,

popularly known in entertainment circles as DJ Caise, and Xerona, the svelte, music-loving daughter of Duke. Derinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mum is Teju Phillips nee Fernandez, a former commissioner in Lagos State. Derin is an Economics graduate of the University of Reading and has a masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in Finance from the same institution. Xerona, on the other hand, is the eldest daughter of the likeable former governor. A law graduate of the University of Nottingham, UK, Xerona is currently working on a music career with the full support of her father. They are getting married on April 14 for traditional and April 21 for the white wedding. Since he left office in 2007, Duke, a respected politician, has been very visible in social circles. Thus, DJ Caise and Xeronaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s impending wedding promises to be grand.

Yataka Indimi


Ëž     There is a storm in Yataka Indimi. It bellows like a hurricane stuck in a marigold or suburban azalea. You couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have forgotten so soon how Yataka raised a storm during the traditional introduction ceremony of her brother and Mr. Presidentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s daughter, Zahra. Yataka insisted on taking her mobile phone into the Presidential Villa in Aso Rock, Abuja, contrary to security protocol. Yataka wanted to record all the proceedings, including the delivery of the boxes made by the French luxury brand, Louis Vuitton, with her mobile phone, despite the fact it was against standard security protocol in the villa. However, a struggle ensued between Yataka and the security officials who tried to compel her to comply with protocol, only for her to resist. The incident attracted the attention of other dignitaries who tried to stop the scuffle. There is no gainsaying

Yataka is the most outgoing of the popular daughters of business mogul, Mohammed Indimi. She is the wife of Mohammed, the first son of exMinister of Power and Steel, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, who died in a power bike accident. Since Mohammedâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s death, Yataka has refused to remarry. It is insinuated that she is being confronted with the temptation of giving marriage a second shot. Several attractive suitors have been crowding her porch but she has managed to keep every one of them at armâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s length. Mohammed died on his way to Abuja after participating at a bikersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; convention in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital. Mohammed, according a source, had told his driver to drive along while he rode on his power bike.

OBASANJO MARKS 81ST BIRTHDAY IN ABEOKUTA As the sea anemone attaches itself to the sturdiest boulder in the Atlantic, so does the random socialite, political

Derin Phillips and Xerona Duke

lobbyist, power broker or social butterfly attach himself or herself to the most powerful social and political titan. Little wonder, friends, family and political associates trooped to the Olusegun Obasanjo Library, Abeokuta, to celebrate former President Olusegun Obasanjo as he clocked 81. Like clams and corals gravitating in the deep, towards the tide without a storm, the creme of Nigeriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s high society trooped out to party with Obasanjo despite his established distaste for grand festivities. There is no gainsaying that the former president is hardly given to grand frivolities. He is not one to indulge in extravagant activities, as confirmed by him years ago. Obasanjo also confirmed that he is not given to celebrating his birthdays since any of his birthdays is just like any other day of his life. But he had a different story to tell as he celebrated his 81st birthday. Interestingly, Obasanjo broke tradition from his well-known anathema to birthday celebrations to host his 80th birthday at the prestigious Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, with King Sunny Ade on the bandstand, last year. Expectedly, Nigeriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s superrich men and women, politicians and celebrities who made good during his time as the president filed out to celebrate with their benefactor. And King Sunny Ade didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t disappoint them at all. Obasanjo, took a retrospective look at his life as he clocked 81 years on Monday, and lamented that his parents did not live long enough to reap the fruits of their labour on him. He noted that it was â&#x20AC;&#x153;sad and regrettableâ&#x20AC;? that despite the sacrifices they made on him, they did not live long to also share and be part of his success story.

long, horrid night; perhaps it would be if it wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t as dull as ditch water. This sad reality becomes the lot of the former beauty queen and socialite whose TV show was severally overhyped prior to its debut. Despite the hype that heralded her entrance into the world of television magazine programmes, Nike is yet to effect that promising spark characteristic of a brash and able neophyte trying her hands in a tasking field. Contrary to initial expectations about her ability to rattle and compete effectively with established broadcasters and TV talk show hosts and entrepreneurs, Nike has failed to shine. While others scurried back to the drawing board in fear, to re-strategise and repackage their shows, Nike brazenly dashes the hopes of her fans when she pulled the plug of the show and dutifully devotes her time to her twins. The estranged wife of Tunde Soleye, will apparently do better in familiar terrains, like the walkway and the social circuit.


Nike Osinowoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s television talk show was supposed to be as bright as a dawn of hope after the spell of a

Nike Osinowo

Sunday March 11, 2018



& RE A S O


Price: N400


Atiku to FG

“If I had my way, I would have recalled all of those 150,000 policemen who are not performing core police duties and send them to provide security for every schools in the North-east region. That to me would be a better use of their time and services.” – Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar advising the federal government on how to deploy the police to better use


One More Thing to Restructure


Syed, the British journalist and author, is one of my favourite sports columnists. His article, ‘Why Chelsea fans are doctoring reality over the latest controversy’ (The Times of London, August 17, 2015), readily comes to mind as I ponder over the nature and quality of public debate in Nigeria. Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea coach at the time, had been in the thick of controversy over the way he treated the team doctor, Eva Carneiro. Mourinho publicly chastised her for going on the field to treat an injured player, Eden Hazard, while the team was desperately searching for a winning goal in the dying minutes of a league match against Swansea. Syed analysed the pattern of reactions among football fans as the incident snowballed into a crisis. While, as expected, Chelsea fans sought to rationalise Mourinho’s action, fans of other clubs were, unsurprisingly, critical of the Special One. Syed then asserted: “The twist, of course, is that had Arsène Wenger engaged in the same behaviour, Arsenal fans would have been falling over themselves to justify it. Ditto with other clubs and fans.” His take is that “managerial behaviour is judged not by what happened, but on pre-existing allegiances… Chelsea fans know that Mourinho was in the wrong… but they defend him out of a sense of loyalty.” I have been sitting in my balcony, with popcorn on the one hand and soda on the other, keenly observing the patterns of public debate on President Buhari since he came to power. You would find the debates quite amusing if you are a FIFA-badge spectator like me. There are people who think Buhari can do no wrong. And there are those who think he can do no right. On the other side of the hemisphere, there are those who believe Jonathan has never done anything good in his life, and there are those who insist he has never done anything wrong. In fact, the whole game seems to be Jonathan vs Buhari. The match was decided in 2015 but we are still settling the score. I don’t really understand why the whole debate has to be about Jonathan and Buhari. Many people have simply refused to move on from 2015. The bitterness of that poll still haunts us like an evil spirit, particularly on social media. No argument is complete without reference to both men. So when one person says “why hasn’t Buhari gone to Dapchi since 110 schoolgirls were kidnapped?” someone will reply with a question: “Did Jonathan visit Chibok?” I have seen same people who condemned Jonathan for not going to Chibok now defending Buhari for avoiding Dapchi. I’ve also seen people who defended Jonathan now condemning Buhari for the same inaction. Syed says “self-conscious hypocrisy” is an occasional demand of group cohesion. That is, we overrule our senses to go along with the group. Several experiments have proved that we tend to respond to issues not strictly on the basis of the logic of the facts in front of us but based on the biases in our minds. If a governor pulls down the house of his political opponent for tax default, our responses would be shaped by our disposition to him. If we are sympathetic to him, we would seek to justify it by saying “but that guy should have paid his taxes”. If we are not, we would say: “This is surely political vendetta.” A neutral person would ask: what is the penalty for tax default? Bulldozing? There is yet another interesting dimension to hypocrisy. Syed, in the same article, recalled a famous experiment by Professor Lee Ross, a

Buhari psychologist from Stanford University, in the 1990s. Lee took peace proposals prepared by Israeli negotiators, labelled them as “Palestinian proposals”, and asked Israeli citizens to assess them. “The Israelis liked the Palestinian proposal attributed to Israel more than they liked the Israeli proposal attributed to the Palestinians,” Ross said. Logically, Palestinians would automatically dislike a Palestinian-authored proposal attributed to Israel. Both groups would judge proposals not on their merit but according to the identity of who came up with them. I find the article by Syed so instructive that I must have read it a million times. It has helped me to understand public debate in Nigeria much better, especially the psychology of it. There are issues that I think are so glaring that there should not be much argument on right or wrong. But when you hear people talk, you will be gripped by the fear of God. You support Jonathan so you have to defend him, no matter what. You are Buhari’s fan so you have to behave the part, no matter what. There are people who support or attack blindly because they want to be seen to be right all the time — that their original position was not a mistake. They are always looking for reinforcement. By the way, I don’t think it is a hidden fact that I am a fan of Buhari. I supported Buhari to be president long before he threw his hat in the ring in 2003. However, I am man enough to admit that things are not turning out well. But to say he has achieved nothing is to go overboard. No single president can transform Nigeria overnight, no matter the grandiose campaign promises. Developmental governance is a relay race, I often theorise. Jonathan did his part and deserves recognition and commendation. Buhari is building on many of Jonathan’s achievements, as seen in railway, agriculture and anti-graft war. Is that too much to admit? Is it not about Nigeria, after all? One thing that discourages me about public debate in Nigeria is the dominance of duplicity. It easily blinds us. I can give an example straightway. Jonathan went to dance “Azonto” in Kano after the Nyanya bombing in 2014. Four years later, Buhari went for an extravagant wedding in Kano after the Dapchi kidnappings. Jonathan’s aides did not see anything wrong in the Kano

rally convened to welcome Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau to PDP while Nigeria was bleeding. In 2018, Buhari’s social media aide said the president was an adult and could decide to go anywhere he liked. Are you getting me? That is group allegiance at work. Nigeria takes the back seat in the reasoning. I’m running out of space, so I will now rush my argument. First, I surrender to the fact that bias is human and universal. It is not peculiar to Nigerians. I will, also, not dispute the fact that partisanship is always a factor in public debate. We tend to go with group dynamics in advancing our arguments irrespective of the facts. Three, we cannot legislate on people’s emotions. We live in a world of opinions and no matter how annoying we find some people, we have to defend their freedom of expression. However, I am beginning to think public debate needs to be “hijacked” by a third force — I mean critics whose primary loyalty is to the progress of Nigeria, no matter who is in power. No commentator is perfect. We all wear goggles. But some goggles are darker than the others. I benefit tremendously from reading and listening to the intellectual contributions of those who look at issues more dispassionately, suppressing ethnic, religious and partisan allegiances. But many commentators are not capable of controlling their jaundice. In the Fulani herdsmen impasse, for instance, it is so predictable to know where people, including government officials, will pitch their tents. We make it look like a killing competition. The critical issues of deforestation, insecurity in the land, anarchy and weak law-enforcement are not dominating discourse. Can any society make progress when their collective reasoning is so narrow and lacking in intellectual rigour? I would think the issue that should bother Nigerians the most is that human lives are being lost unnecessarily and the government owes each and every one of us the duty of providing security and ensuring that justice is done to lawbreakers. I would readily accuse Buhari of being lethargic in the herdsmen affair. He deserves to be thoroughly criticised for that. In fact, there are enough issues on the ground for which he should be properly criticised. I can list a dozen instantly. But why hate a man because of his religion and ethnicity? Why? We need to examine our collective reasoning. Nigeria can never be better than the collective reasoning of Nigerians. Everybody cannot reason alike, but we can reason together. I understand that elections are around the corner and politicians must politick to remain in office or gain control of power. I know. However, we need to birth a new political mindset that emphasises a common loyalty to the development of Nigeria. We need men and women who, after voting for whoever they like, will continue to insist on good governance — whether or not the winner is their preferred candidate. This group of Nigerians must overwhelm the cults of partisans in the public sphere. I am aware that those who refuse to be blinded by sectional emotions stand the risk of being accused of “sitting on the fence” or being “naïve”, but then there is always a price to pay for your convictions. You should prefer to be abused for having a bias for national cohesion and development. Our collective thinking, as things stand, is very detrimental to our progress. The wrong people are controlling the airwaves. We cannot be reducing the whole debate about Nigeria to Jonathan vs Buhari. For all you care, Buhari and Jonathan will pass away. Presidents will come and presidents will go. Nigeria will remain. If we are wise then, our priority should always be Nigeria.

And Four Other Things… ‘FISCAL FEDERALISM’ Lagosians are having a foretaste of “fiscal federalism” as higher taxes have been introduced by the state government. The vehicle licence for a 16-tire trailer will now cost N200,000 — up from N8,750! You could pay a fee as high as N50,000 for sinking a life-saving borehole at home! Land use charge is heading for the skies! But why are advocates of “true federalism” protesting? When oil-producing states begin to keep their petrodollars, taxation is going to be fastest way to make up for the lost revenue in most states (or is it regions) of the “true federation”. It’s not only northern Nigeria that will pay the price, as the spiteful campaigners think. You ain’t seen nothing yet, guys. Reality. THE MONEY MACHINE Finally, a senator has revealed what they “earn”. Senator Shehu Sani says every senator gets N13.5 million monthly, which they “account” for (LOL), and another N700,000 they don’t account for. Of course, principal officers collect more. There is also the N200 million for “constituency project”. Long ago, we heard about blackmail money under the pretext of “oversight” function. Failure to play ball will lead to public hearings, probes and resolutions. There is also “prepaid” budget padding — under which MDAs pay “cash down” to have their budgets handsomely inflated. Many lawmakers even nominate contractors or do contracts. We are a bunch of jokers in this country. Disgusting. AJAOKUTA STEALTH I was fascinated by the recent “public hearing” on Ajaokuta Steel Company. Ms Natasha Akpoti, a lawyer, made a depressing presentation on the history of the project. But she missed it when she said it should not be privatised. She didn’t name a single company that is well run by government. We that can’t run refineries will run a steel mill? Are you joking me? She made me laugh when she said foreigners should not run the mill because it can produce guns. She probably doesn’t know Nigeria actually imports arms from foreigners! As it has now turned out, the lawmakers, in fact, approved N2bn for the concessioning and are now opposing it after “public hearing”. Nigeria!!! PEACED OFF The National Assembly is hell-bent on turning a private security outfit, called Peace Corps, into a government agency. At this rate, the lawmakers will soon upgrade Arksego and KingsGuard to parastatals. President Buhari did the right thing by withholding assent to the bill. If Nigeria is under-policed, the logical thing to do is strengthen the police force — both in numbers and with modern systems that reduce the physical presence of police everywhere. But to create yet another body, after NSCDC, and keep bloating the huge public service is not what we need now. Whenever we have a challenge in Nigeria, we always think the solution is a new law or new agency. Warped.

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Sunday 11th MARCH 2018  
Sunday 11th MARCH 2018