Page 1

Hope Rises for Akpabio as A’Court Orders Rerun Election Sanwo-Olu wins appeal Bassey Inyang in Calabar and Segun James in Lagos The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar, Cross River State has annulled the election of Senator

Christopher Ekpenyong of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who until the judgment represented Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District and ordered a rerun within

Balance of power shifts in Senate

90 days. In the same breath, the Court of Appeal in Lagos, yesterday, dismissed an appeal filed by the Labour Party (LP) challenging the judgment of

the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that affirmed the election of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the Governor of Lagos State. However, with the recent

development in the Senate, the balance of power has shifted significantly, decimating the ranks of the ruling APC. In a unanimous judgment delivered on Saturday, by a

three-member panel of Justice S. Tanko Hussen, Justices M. Bolaji-Yusuf, and M. Mustapha, the election of Ekpenyong was Continued on page 5

Sowore: DSS Statement Misleading, Says Falana… Page 5 Sunday 10 November, 2019 Vol 24. No 8980

www.thisdaylive.com TR

UT H

& RE A S O

N400

N

Buhari, Tinubu Celebrate Mamman Daura at 80 Demola Ojo

President Muhammadu Buhari and one of the national leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday, joined

family and friends to celebrate a veteran journalist, renowned entrepreneur and nephew of the President, Mamman Daura, who turned 80 years. Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on

Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, assured Daura that his footprint on the development of the country, and attention to family values, would always be remembered and appreciated, even as he

extolled him for the visionary role he played in the banking sector and management of companies, and development institutions. “On the auspicious occasion of 80th birthday

of Baba Mamman Daura, November 9, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari joins all family members and friends of the veteran journalist in celebrating the milestone, congratulating him for many

years of love and sacrifices for the nation, especially in his chosen career, journalism. “President Buhari recalls, with delight, Daura’s Continued on page 5

Osinbajo Kicks off First Railway Wagon Assembly Plant in W’Africa Says rail system holds key to transformation of commerce across Africa Project estimated to generate 5,000 jobs Kasim Sumaina in Abuja Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday in Kajola, Ogun State, kicked off the construction of the first ever wagon assembly plant for the railway system in the country, saying it is part of efforts to localise rail technology in Nigeria. Osinbajo said while performing the groundbreaking ceremony that the rail system of transportation held the key to transformation of commerce in Nigeria and across the continent, as it would link the ports and provide an integrated transportation network.He noted that the project, when completed, apart from generating about 5, 000 jobs, was expected to produce some parts of the wagons for the Lagos–Ibadan and Abuja–Kaduna rail lines. It is also projected to produce some parts for the central rail lines that would link other rail operators within the West African sub-region.

Osibanjo observed that by building the rolling stock locally, import and export businesses within, into and out of Africa’s largest market would receive a heavy boost. According to him, the citing of the plant in Nigeria and the commitment to hiring Nigerians and Nigerian businesses affirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s directives in Executive Order 5. The executive order focuses on prioritising Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in the innovation, production and procurement of engineering projects and services. The vice president stated, “The plant would offer an important platform for engineers, technicians, artisans and other professionals to gain the specialised skills required for the production and maintenance of rolling stock. "This will invariably Continued on page 5

WHEN ROADS ARE NOT THAT BAD... L-R: Ooni of Ife,Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi,Ojaja II; wife of the Ondo State Governor, Mrs Betty Anyawu-Akeredolu; Minister of Works & Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola; Chairman, Elizade Group and Aare Atayese of llara - Mokin, Chief Micheal Ade-Ojo and his wife, Mrs Taiwo Ade-Ojo at the inaugurationof a 6km road network in Ilara -Mokin, Akure, Ondo State constructed by Chief Ade-Ojo ...Saturday


2

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 •T H I S D AY


3

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 •T H I S D AY


4

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 •T H I S D AY


5

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

PAGE FIVE

Sowore: DSS Statement Misleading, Says Falana As group stages protest at DSS Abuja office Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja Human rights lawyer and counsel to the detained Convener of #RevolutionNow Movement, Omoyole Sowore, Femi Falana (SAN), yesterday countered the position of the Department of State Security (DSS) that there was no representation for the release of his client, saying the statement was misleading. Falana, while explaining the untruth in the DSS statement, explained that four lawyers from his chambers had waited at the agency’s headquarters for four hours without any response from its operatives. This, however, came as a group of activists staged a protest at the headquarters

of the agency following its refusal to release Sowore, who is also the publisher of Sahara Reporters. The DSS had denied any representation for Sowore’s release even though it admitted to having received a court order granting Sowore bail. Sowore had also met the conditions of his revised bail. A Federal High Court had on Wednesday, November 6, ordered the release of Sowore and his partner, Olawale Bakare, following an application for their bail. But the DSS refused to comply with the order, claiming it was yet to receive details of the bail. Later on Friday, the DSS confirmed it had been served

the bail order but was yet to release the accused, because no one came for him. Falana however said in spite of acknowledging the receipt of the court order, the DSS still failed to comply with it. “On 6/11/19 the bailiff of the federal high court wanted to serve the reproduction warrants issued by the court on the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS). But the SSS asked the Bailiff to call back at 10.00am on 7/11/19. The bailiff did and was able to serve the reproduction warrants on the DG of the SSS. “Upon acknowledging the service of the reproduction warrants, the SSS assured the bailiff and five lawyers from the defence team that

our clients would be released yesterday (Thursday). But the SSS decided not to release our clients to our lawyers who waited in vain in the agency's headquarters for not less than four hours,� he said. According to him, “When Sowore said that he would not make a statement without first consulting with me, the SSS management called me on phone on 6/8/19. Assuming the SSS had wanted to release our clients since yesterday, the management would have contacted me. “Even though the SSS disobeyed the order of the Honourable Justice Taiwo for the release of Mr. Sowore on 24/9/19, it has turned round to announce its readiness to

comply with the order of the Honourable Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu for the release of Sowore and Bakare from illegal custody�. Against this backdrop, a group of activists demanding Sowore’s release had staged a protest at the headquarters of DSS in Abuja at the weekend. Led by Mr. Deji Adeyanju, the group said the agency failed to release Sowore and Olawale Bakare as ordered by the court. “They have refused to release Sowore to me or his lawyer here. They claim they are not at work�, he said. The DSS, while confirming receipt of the court order said, “It is important that the public notes that since

the receipt of the Order, no person has turned up at the DSS to take delivery of him. This becomes imperative for reasons of accountability. “However, the court has been properly briefed on this development and the steps being taken to ensure compliance with its order�. The DSS statement, issued by its Spokesman, Peter Afunanya, further stated, “The service, under the leadership of Yusuf Magaji Bichi (fwc), as the Director General, is not a lawless organisation and will never obstruct justice or disobey court orders. It, therefore, affirms that it will do all that is needful once the appropriate processes have been concluded.�

judgment," he stated. As at the last count, while the Court of Appeal had sacked Senator Dayo Adeyeye of the APC from Ekiti State and replaced him with Senator Abiodun Olujimi of the PDP, the ruling party also lost its seat in Sokoto South as another appeal court sacked Senator Abubakar Tambuwal and upheld the election of Senator Ibrahim Dambata. Similarly, in Kogi, the appellate court had sacked Senator Dino Melaye on the pleas of Senator Smart Adeyemi and ordered a rerun, which has already been slated to hold on November 16, the same day a governorship election is holding in the state and Bayelsa State. Equally, in Akwa Ibom, the Court of Appeal has sacked Senator Christopher Ekpenyong as a result of Senator Godswill Akpabio’s appeal and ordered a rerun within 90 days. Meanwhile, in Lagos, in a unanimous decision, the appellate court held that the appeal by the LP lacked merit and “sank never to rise again, even on appeal.� Labour Party and its governorship candidate, Mr Ifagbemi Awamaridi, had appealed the decision of the election tribunal delivered on

September 23, insisting that Sanwo-Olu was not qualified to contest the election held in March 2019 and that he did not win the election. The respondents were INEC, Sanwo-Olu, APC, INEC Residential Electoral Commissioner, the Returning Officer for the Lagos State Governorship Election, the State Commissioner of Police and the Nigerian Army. But Justice Hannatu Sankey, who read the lead judgment of the five-man panel, affirmed the decisions reached by the election tribunal. The court said the appellant failed to produce any oral or documentary evidence through witnesses and other channels to establish the fact that SanwoOlu was not qualified to contest the election, or did not win the election. It ruled that the petitioner went on a "Columbian Journey of making assertions with nothing to back it up,� and thereby dismissed the appeal in its entirety. It upheld the tribunal's decision that no proof of allegation of collusion and assault against officers of the Nigerian Army was provided by the appellants, adding that no sufficient fact was provided to substantiate allegation of

electoral malpractices at the polling units against the respondents. "The appeal is lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed. I hereby uphold the judgment of the Lagos State Election Petition Tribunal,� the appellate court said. All the other four members of the panel affirmed and concurred with the lead judgment. The Appeal Court also dismissed an appeal filed by the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and its governorship candidate, Owolabi Salis, challenging Governor SanwoOlu’s victory. Justice Ayobode Shodipe, who read the lead judgment, held that the appeal of AD lacked merit and was “Dead On Arrival.� According to him, “The appeal is seriously lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed. The seven issues of the appellant (Salis) are hereby resolved against him,� Justice Shodipe ruled. The Appellate Court also awarded a cost of N200,000 against the appellants in favour of each of the seven respondents (except the Commissioner of Police) in both appeals, bringing the total cost to N2.4million.

“At 80, you are of sound mind, sound health, in high spirit and remain as brilliant, radiant and quick-witted as you have always been. Alihamudulilai. We are grateful to Almighty Allah for this and we pray for many more years for you. “Your life is a study in high integrity, humility and discipline. An extremely private person who hardly talks about himself, your accomplishments, however, speak highly of you. “You are a reputable veteran journalist, successful entrepreneur, a nationalist and an Islamic faithful, who has

made important contributions to this country. Indeed, you have done a lot for our country. “A man of great character, you have been a resourceful pillar of support for our president, Muhammadu Buhari. Many have rightfully described you as imbued with immense talents, your character, however, remains an inspiration to me in particular. “Our country is lucky to have you at this particular time. I’m highly honoured and privileged to know you because knowing you is a wonderful thing. As you age gracefully, we pray that Allah

continues to keep you in good health and continues to grant you His blessings.� Tinubu, however, said special prayers for Daura on the occasion of his 80th birthday. “We pray that Allah in His Infinite mercy continues to support you, bless your family and all the things you cherished. For the Almighty Allah says in Qur’an 93 Verse 3-5 thus: ‘Your Lord has not abandoned you nor detested you. And the Hereafter will be better for you than the first life. And your Lord is going to give you and you will be satisfied. Ma Salam.�

Nigeria Limited in March 2018 to establish the plant for the production and assembling of rolling stock, spare parts, and maintenance equipment in Nigeria. Messrs CCECC conducted a feasibility study in which the choice of Kajola was arrived at as the suitable location for the project, the minister stated. He said the project was a direct investment of Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited in the country and part of the gains from the contract signed for the supply of the rolling stock. "This will be the first of its

kind in Nigeria and the first batch of the wagons to be assembled from the production line of this plant will form part of the rolling stock for Lagos-Ibadan and AbujaKaduna railway operations. Subsequently, other rolling stock would be produced as its production capacities increase," Amaechi said. He also said the project would generate about 5,000 jobs when completed, adding that in the long run, Nigeria would manufacture rolling stock for the country’s use and for other African countries.

HOPE RISES FOR AKPABIO AS A’COURT ORDERS RERUN ELECTION set aside, and a rerun ordered within 90 days in the Essien Udim Local Government Area to determine the actual winner of the February 23, 2019 senatorial election. Akpabio of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who contested the election against Ekpenyong, and his party as second appellant, had challenged the earlier judgment of the election petitions tribunal, which upheld the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declaring Ekpenyong winner of the election. The court upheld the election results for Obot Akara Local Government Area, and others disputed by Akpabio and the APC on the grounds that they failed to prove alleged irregularities in the conduct of the election, and the results announced by the INEC. Though the court also declared that Akpabio and the APC failed to prove that they won the election in Essien Udim with over 61,000 votes, it, however, agreed with their arguments that the election there was characterised by gross irregularities, making the final results announced for the entire Local Government Area by the INEC unreliable. The court, therefore, annulled

Ekpenyong's election and ordered a rerun in Essien Udim in other to determine the actual winner of the election on the grounds that the area has over 126, 000 registered voters, which is more than the margin of valid votes between the two leading candidates in the election, and is enough to determine the actual winner of the election. The appeal court also delivered other judgments among which was the ordering of a rerun for Ikot Ekpene/ Obot Akara/Essien Udim Federal Constituency following the upholding in part of the appeal brought before it by Akpan Sunday of APC against the election of Ekong Nsikak of PDP. The Appeal panel also set aside the judgment of the election tribunal and ordered a re-run in Essien Udim within 90 days. It also annulled the election of Nsikak, the PDP candidate. However, the appeal court upheld the judgment of the election tribunal, which declared Mr. Patrick Ifon of PDP as the winner of Eket/ Esit Eket/Ibeno/Onna Federal Constituency, and dismissed the appeal of Kufre Akpabio of APC. Reacting to the judgment,

counsel to Akpabio and Sunday, Mr. Paulinus Idio, applauded the judgment of the appeal court saying, "My Lord, we are very grateful for the well considered good judgment". Also reacting, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Uwemedimo Nwoko said, "It has been what I would like to describe as a misfortune for both parties. There were losers and winners in the judgment of today. I am not a mathematician. I would have given you the percentage. "It has been misfortunes. I want to commend their Lordship for the judgment of today. It has been a tedious job over this period of time in the Court of Appeal. It is a national service and they must be commended for committing so much time and energy on this exercise. This is the final court and so every party must abide by their judgment. "For elections that were nullified partially must be inclusive. As a party in Akwa Ibom, we are satisfied with judgment. All we need to do is to go back home and talk to our people and prepare on how to win the rerun. Generally, we have nothing against the

BUHARI, TINUBU CELEBRATE MAMMAN DAURA AT 80 remarkable brilliance from childhood at the Katsina Middle School and Government College, which caught the attention of Northern Regional Government, leading to sponsorship for further studies in the United Kingdom in the 50’s and many years to follow, noting that the knowledge had, overtime, only translated into more wisdom.� Eulogising Daura, who was in the civil service for a while before joining the New Nigerian Newspapers, where he rose to become Editor and Managing Director, before venturing into the private sector, Buhari said Daura’s entrepreneurial skills

inspired industrial growth in the north in furniture making, textile manufacturing, aluminium smelting and other investments. “President Buhari assures Daura that his footprint on the development of the country, and quintessential attention to family values, will always be remembered and appreciated, extolling him for the visionary role he played in the banking sector and management of companies, and development institutions. “The President prays that the Almighty God will grant longer life to the elder statesman, and

more strength to keep pursuing his number one passion of serving humanity, especially through philanthropy.� On his part, Tinubu, also in a statement by Tunde Rahman, his media aide, described Daura as a resourceful pillar of support for the president, adding that he was a study in integrity, humility and discipline. In a letter personally signed and delivered to Daura, Tinubu said: “I write to join you, your family, friends and associates in thanking God Almighty, who has made it possible for you to attain this milestone age.

OSINBAJO KICKS OFF FIRST RAILWAY WAGON ASSEMBLY PLANT IN W’AFRICA conduce to spin-off businesses in the region of operation and across the country wherever rail networks are in existence. The plant is expected to generate about 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.� He said after completing the Abuja-Kaduna railway project in July 2016, the Buhari administration commenced construction works on the Lagos-Ibadan railway modernisation project in March 2017. "Following which we initiated the rehabilitation and completion of the abandoned

Itakpe–Ajaokuta–Warri rail line, which was started over three decades ago,� he disclosed. The vice president called on the host communities to support government’s efforts by cooperating with the contractors in safeguarding and protecting the investments so that “we can ensure that all intended objectives and mutual benefits are attained.� The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Ameachi, who spoke earlier, explained that to meet the increasing demand of both passengers and freight on the

new Nigeria Standard Gauge Railway Service, the federal government had awarded the contract for the procurement of a rolling stock. This, he said, included "locomotives, coaches, wagons and contemporary Diesel Multiple Units to serve the movement of passengers and freight on the AbujaKaduna, Itakpe–Ajaokuta–Warri train services as well as the on-going Lagos–Ibadan railway. It will also serve any railway service in the West-African sub-region. "The Ministry of Transportation, realising the

need to set up this type of plant, considering the potential need in view of the on-going rail projects in the country and the sub-region, encouraged Messrs CCECC to establish this plant. "It is expected that the plant would generate job opportunities for Nigerians and as well facilitate the much-desired objective of the government towards the local content capacity development." Amaechi added that it was in the pursuit of these objectives that the Federal Ministry of Transportation signed an agreement with Messrs CCECC


6

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 •T H I S D AY


SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 • T H I S D AY

7


8

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ËžOVEMBER 10, 2019

PERSPECTIVE Those with Glass Jaws Shouldn’t Throw Punches Paul Ibe

I

t is pulsating trying to ascribe any intelligent reason to why the chief spokesman to Muhammadu Buhari had penned a misleading account of the last presidential election in the country. But it wasn’t all together a bad idea. If anything, Femi Adesina gave a literary expression to how jolt to the hilt people at the Aso Rock Villa were about the inevitability of a win at the polls by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and Atiku Abubakar during the February 23 presidential election. This much, Adesina himself, confessed to when he said, ‘before the election, you saw and heard Atikulators everywhere... They were all over in offices, marketplaces, churches, mosques, schools, on television, radio, newspaper; almost in all traffic lanes of life.’ That was both a candid and surreal expression of fear that the Atikulators were indeed poised for victory in the 2019 presidential election. However, if we are to interrogate Adesina’s confession a little bit further, we would remove the mask and expose the chicanery that summed up the claim of victory by the APC and their Buharideens alike. First off, before the election, the APC band was busy chorusing around town that there was no Nigerian alive who was up to challenge and defeat Buhari in an election. They soon coined the phrase: ‘No Alternative’ to ingrain the argument that Buhari was super human and to scare the opposition from challenging a second term ticket with him. The APC and the likes of Adesina who are disconnect from the reality of the angst of Nigerians against the incompetence and cluessness of Buhari-led administration told a lie to the president that he was loved and adored by all. Thus, Buhari and the APC entered the 2019 presidential race with a foolish and corrupted sense of entitlement about a towering expectation from the people that was nowhere to be found. The Buhari team, unlike the Atikulators, lured their candidate into an election without an honest evaluation of the strength of their opponent. At the end, they entered a panic mode and, using the instrumentality of power of incumbency, took certain actions to guarantee victory at all cost which ultimately compromised the integrity of the election. The second irrational assumption is the claim that the Atikulators is an assembly of people who hate Buhari. According to Adesina’s words, Atikulators are ‘those who didn’t like Buhari, either because of ethnicity, language, religion, or the man’s aversion for corruption... So, they followed Atiku, not because they loved him, but they would have also followed a goat...’ It is often said that people who live in the corridors of power actually live inside a bubble. If there are people in this country who think that there is anything close to aversion for corruption by this current administration, they must be folks like Femi who are too busy choping and smiling, having a blurry vision of the cesspool of iniquities and the lack of rectitude in the system. Irrespective of what Adesina and his colleagues at the corridors of power might say, Nigerians already have their opinion about the vastness of space index for corruption in the Buhari government. And by the way, Femi and his cotravellers need to be reminded that those with glass jaws should not throw punches. So, coming back to the question: who are the Atikulators? Perhaps Femi is a bit right when he says that they are people who didn’t like the policies of this president. Where he got it all wrong is that they didn’t have to dislike Buhari’s personality or identity in order to like Atiku because both men share same religion, ethnicity and even language. If these qualities are the reason why some people hate Buhari, it must go without begging that there must be some other reason(s) why the same people will prefer Atiku as a leader. There is a popular American saying that ‘fool me once, shame on you!’ In 2015, many of the people that supported and voted for Buhari feel that they have been fooled. They didn’t imagine that the man they would be voting as president would divide the country in the approximation of 70-30 percent. They didn’t believe that the man they voted would be clannish in his top appointments. They didn’t expect that a president who boasted that there would not be one corrupt person in his government will end up filling more than half of his cabinet positions with same ‘corrupt PDP people.’ They didn’t believe that the man who promised to crash the prices of petroleum products, but ended up doubling it should be trusted again. They felt betrayed by a man who promised

Atiku them change but ended up changing his ways and his words! One epic episode in the 2019 election cycle is the live NTA interview anchored by Kadaira Ahmed. The interview afforded Nigerians a life time opportunity to hear the man called Buhari unscripted. Were Femi Adesina’s pen not beguiled by the lucre of power, he would certainly not find any excuse for himself to still be a Buharideen after watching the man unscripted at the interview. Had Adesina been a mere mortal like the rest of us, he would have longed to see the Atiku episode of that interview and given the brilliance that the former Vice President showed at that interview, Adesina himself would have been an Atikulator. But he didn’t. Not because Adesina hated the ideas espoused by Atiku during the campaign trail, but for him and his cohorts at the corridor of power the refrain is: Buhari will NEVER relinquish power to Atiku. The Atikulators are patriotic Nigerians. They wouldn’t have voted for a goat. I mean, they just wouldn’t have doubled down on the same mistake! Again, there was a reference to what Adesina called hurricane Buhari sweeping everywhere across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Yes, he is right about that allegorical meaning of hurricane in Nigeria blowing through the bellies and wallets of Nigerians. But if by any stretch of assumption the hurricane was describing Buhari’s electoral popularity, it is safe to conclude therefore that our friend, Femi, is a fit for stand-up comedy. Or how could he have forgotten

so soon what transpired in room 710 of Eko Hotel during his presidency of the NGE in the presence of my then colleague at Atiku Media Office, and now his colleague in the Aso rocked villa. But to avert a needless distraction, I am inclined to ensure that what transpired in that room is buried in the bowels of time. Where in the world would Buhari of all people feel invincible in an election contest when the man could not trust where his own wife would vote on the election day. Atiku went through the judicial process to express his aggreivement with the election. He never called on his supporters to launch a violent attack, neither did he make a savage remark about baboons being soaked in blood. If Adesina feels what Atiku did is morally deficient, then it only shows the company he has been keeping of late is already telling on his vanishing ethos. And talking about jokes, there is a piece going around the social media that smart people who serve in Buhari’s government have a way of losing it. For Femi, that is more than a joke. And when next you have the opportunity to read Femi be sure to have a bowl of pepper and salt by your side. It will be wise to leave our friend with a popular Yoruba saying that the sheep that flocks with dogs will end up eating faeces. ––Mazi Paul Ibe is Media Adviser to Atiku Abubakar, Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and Vice President of Nigeria, 1999-2007


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

9

SUNDAY COMMENT

Editor, Editorial Page PETER ISHAKA Email peter.ishaka@thisdaylive.com

KOGI/BAYELSA GOVERNORSHIP ELECTIONS The will of the people should determine the outcome of the elections

A

s the people of Kogi and Bayelsa States go to the polls again on Saturday, this time to elect their governors, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has another golden opportunity to make a bold statement that it is truly an unbiased empire with the capacity to conduct credible elections. In view of the controversy that trailed the 2019 general election as well as other stand-alone gubernatorial elections in recent years, we expect INEC to have learnt its lessons from past flaws and conduct these elections with every sense of responsibility. Meanwhile, the two states where the elections would be held on Saturday have unbridled records of violence. The last elections held in Bayelsa and Kogi in 2016 were marred by violence and eventually declared inconclusive. Against this background, these are not the easiest states to conduct elections in the country. But INEC has a responsibility to prove that it is up to the task, but they also need all the support they can get. Beyond the usual banal promise to deploy thousands of policemen, questions remain as to how prepared the police are to carry out their tasks with every sense of professionalism that can enhance the credibility of the polls. More worrisome, however, is the role of the military which ordinarily should not be involved in electoral matters. During the last general election, there were accusations of interference by soldiers at polling units and collation centres. Such was the level of their involvement in Rivers that the INEC headquarters in Abuja had to suspend collation of results in the state when it became obvious that some soldiers were bent on determining the outcome by force of arms. We must restate that soldiers have no role to play at polling stations and collation

centresWe expect all security agents deployed in the states to insulate themselves from partisan politics and dispassionately discharge their responsibilities by refusing to be willing tools in the hands of politicians to stall the will of the people. We also appeal to the major political actors in these elections to give room for peace and allow common sense to prevail.

T

Once again, the onus lies on the INEC to rebuild the confidence of both Nigerians and the world in its ability to conduct free, fair and credible elections

Letters to the Editor

T

he population of Abuja is increasing every passing minute and if we are to ever avoid repeating the mistakes of Lagos, our former capital city, there is need for government to quickly do the needful. The needful is the provision of the basic minimum infrastructural requirements through increased funding of projects in the Federal Capital Territory. It is not surprising that the man saddled with the task of administering the terri-

S U N DAY N E W S PA P E R EDITOR SHAKA MOMODU DEPUTY EDITORS OLAWALE OLALEYE, TOBI SONIYI MANAGING DIRECTOR ENIOLA BELLO DEPUTY MANAGING DIRECTOR KAYODE KOMOLAFE CHAIRMAN EDITORIAL BOARD OLUSEGUN ADENIYI EDITOR NATION’S CAPITAL IYOBOSA UWUGIAREN MANAGING EDITOR JOSEPH USHIGIALE

T H I S DAY N E W S PA P E R S L I M I T E D EDITOR-IN-CHIEF/CHAIRMAN NDUKA OBAIGBENA GROUP EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS ENIOLA BELLO, KAYODE KOMOLAFE, ISRAEL IWEGBU, IJEOMA NWOGWUGWU, EMMANUEL EFENI DIVISIONAL DIRECTORS BOLAJI ADEBIYI , PETER IWEGBU, ANTHONY OGEDENGBE DEPUTY DIVISIONAL DIRECTOR OJOGUN VICTOR DANBOYI SNR. ASSOCIATE DIRECTORS ERIC OJEH, PATRICK EIMIUHI ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR SAHEED ADEYEMO CONTROLLERS ABIMBOLA TAIWO, UCHENNA DIBIAGWU, NDUKA MOSERI DIRECTOR, PRINTING PRODUCTION CHUKS ONWUDINJO TO SEND EMAIL: first name.surname@thisdaylive.com

hese elections must not be seen as do-or-die affair as we have had enough of bloodshed. The fundamental rights of Nigerians to live must be sacrosanct. We specifically call on Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and former Governor Timipre Sylva to avoid the temptation of seeing this election as a battle for supremacy or a test of might as the aftermath of such will be catastrophic for both the country and lesser mortals as it will only underscore the maxim that where two elephants fight, the grass suffers. We extend the same appeal to Governor Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) opponent, Musa Wada, to resist any acts of desperation that can forestall peace during and after the polls. Once again, the onus lies on the INEC to rebuild the confidence of both Nigerians and the world in its ability to conduct free, fair and credible elections from the outcome of Saturday elections. We expect the commission to demonstrate a strict sense of professionalism in the overall conduct of the poll in the two states. Logistics must be deployed at the nick of time. It will be a gross failure, for instance, if there are reports of late arrival of voting materials or cases of voters waiting for the arrival of electoral officers at polling stations on Saturday as well as the use of non-functional card readers. Notwithstanding the posturing by the principal actors, one fact about the Ondo elections which also is true with all Nigerian elections is that it is not going to be fought on ideological platforms. Neither the PDP nor the APC can also be described as an ideology-driven party by any stretch of the imagination. It is therefore important for the politicians to allow the people of Kogi and Bayelsa States to decide their destiny for the next four years. There should be no room for coercion and violence. As for INEC, if it can conduct the Saturday polls without hitches, then Professor Mahmoud Yakubu would have proved that the commission has indeed learnt useful lessons.

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 opinion@thisdaylive.com. 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 opinion@thisdaylive.com along with the email address and phone numbers of the writer.

FCT Needs More Funding tory and providing the much needed developmental infrastructure, Mr Musa Bello, had called for increase in budgetary allocations to meet the challenges of the city. The minister who made the call while presenting the 2020 national priority budget of the FCT to the committee of the House of Representatives, stated the obvious by calling for more funding to avoid the disaster waiting to happen. Better funding of the FCT administration would surely enable it to fulfil its mandate of

building a world class capital city for all. It is true that budgetary allocations to the FCT have increased since the administration of President Buhari. It is also true that the allocation was not enough to build the dream city. Much more is still needed. The minister said the ministry plans to spend about N28b for the national priority budget. A breakdown of the budget proposal which he submitted to the house includes the development of the Idu Industrial

infrastructure, rehabilitation and expansion of the airport expressway, counterpart funding for the greater Abuja water supply projects, Abuja rail mass transit project, among others. It is heartwarming to see and hear that the members of the house committee on the FCT concurred with Mohammed Bello on the need for better and enhanced funding for the provisions of infrastructure considering the enormous responsibility placed on the shoulders of the minister. There is an urgent need for investments in infrastructure to reduce the cost of doing business

and increase the ease of living in Abuja. The traditional methods of funding infrastructural projects in Abuja can no longer be sustained. We thank the minister in the introduction of the public finance initiatives and the public- private partnership initiatives as some of the financial models that would be used in financing Abuja developmental infrastructure. Example of projects which have been or are being financed through this model includes the Abuja light rail project which many describe as a model of PPP. ––Jamila Musa, Abuja.


10

NOVEMBER 10, 2019 ˾T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R

NEWS

Acting News Editor Gboyega Akinsanmi E-mail: gboyega.akinsanmi@thisdaylive.com,08081986590 (sms only)

UNICEF: 23m Girls Married as Children in Nigeria tSays three of five girls suffer violence before 18 ·t Gov’s wife claims she married at 16 as a stark illiterate Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) yesterday disclosed that Nigeria had the second largest number of childbrides in the world, noting that at least over 23 million girls had been married as children.

UNICEF, a leading advocate for children in the world, also revealed that three out of five children suffered one or more formsofviolencebeforereaching 18 with over 70 percent experiencing multiple incidents of violence. Corroborating UNICEF’s

statistics on child marriage, Aishatu Mohammed, wife of Bauchi Governor, Bala Mohammed, also disclosed that she had formaleducationwhenshemarried her husband at the age of 16. The UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Bauchi, Bhanu Pathak disclosed this at the 30th anni-

versary of the adoption of the Child Rights Convention held at BanquetHalloftheGovernment House, Bauchi yesterday. He said since its adoption, the convention “has helped to transform the lives of children worldwide. It helps establish that children are not the prop-

HAPPY GOLDEN JUBILEE... L-R:The Vice Presidential candidate of the PDP and former Gov. of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi (right), with John Cardinal Onaiyekan (left), after the mass to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of Daughters of Divine Love Congregation at their Sacred Heart Chapel, Abakpa Nike, Enugu, yesterday

erty of adults, but people with rights of their own as well as inspired governments including the Nigerian government to change laws and policies to protectchildrenandmakemore investments in children.” Pathak said although the UN had set a goal that every human being on the planet “will have a legal identity by 2030, many children in Nigeria are yet to have their births registered.” He said violent conflicts had affected some states in the North-east since 2009, which he said, was as a result of clashes between non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and the Nigerian military. He said with the massive destruction of towns and villages and ongoing violent attacks by NSAGs, the region had experienced increased population displacement, loss of livelihood, food insecurity and increased mortality because of malnutrition, inadequate health services and poor sanitation especially in the most affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe where children were at the receiving end of the atrocities. Pathak lamented that too many Nigerian children and young people were being left behind especially in education adding that statistics have it that Nigeria has the world’s highest numberofout-of-schoolchildren as more than 10.5 million Nigerian children are not in school. Also at the anniversary, Mohammed stated this in Bauchi at the occasion of the “Naija Youth Talk”, organised by the Bauchi Field Office of the

United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) “I was 16 years old and a stark illiterate when I married my husband. “We were 100 girls in our family; none went to school; I only started school after my third child,” she said. She decried the high rate of illiteracy and early marriage among young girls in the state, blaming the situation on parents who believed formal education for the girl-child was a mere waste of resources. “We were 100 girls in my family, but none of us had formal education; I had never been to primary school in my parent’s house. This is because our parents never believed in educating the girl-child; I struggled to go school, but they refused. “I picked the challenge to be educated from my brothers and after I had my third child, I insisted my husband gets me a home teacher. That’s how I started and I later went to secondary school. Today I am a graduate of Public Administration from the University of Abuja.” Mohammed emphasised the importance of educating not only the girl-child, but young people in the society, added that such move would curb crimes and social vices in the society. She called on relevant government agencies and organisations to ensure that parents and caregivers were adequately sensitised on the need to allow young boys and girls go to school.

AGF Unveils New Guidelines for Anti-corruption Strategy Tobi Soniyi

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, (SAN) has unveiled new guidelines for the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017-2021. The new guidelines which came into effect on October 24, 2019 stated that all ministries, departments or agencies and committees seeking to conduct, organize or host programs on thefightagainstcorruptionmust

seek and obtain clearance of the justice minister. Similarly, all ministries, departments and agencies and committees must seek and obtain clearance of the minister on donor assisted project. The Minister of Justice is empowered under Paragraph 5.0 of the National Anti-com1ption Strategy2017-2021toco-ordinate and issue policy directives from time to time. TheguidelinesmaketheOffice of the AGF the secretariat for the implementation of the National

Anti-Corruption Strategy. Malami has also been empowered to manage all assets recovered as proceeds of crimes underanewregulationthatcame into effect on October 24, 2019. Entitled: “Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019,” and published as Government Notice No. 88 in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 163, Vol. 106 of 29th October, 2019, it says all anti-corruption agencies,includingtheEconomic and Financial Crimes Commis-

Masari Warns Customs Against Killings in Katsina

Francis Sardauna in Katsina

Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari yesterday warned the Nigeria Customs Service against terrorizing innocent citizens and causing unnecessary death in the discharge of its duties in the state. He said the service should find other suitable ways of managing relationships with the people in border communities and cities in the state to prevent what he termed as unnecessary killings of the citizenry. Masari stated this when he received the coordinator of Sector 4 command of the National Border Drill Opera-

tion, ACG Bashir Abubakar and other members of the team who were on a working visit to his office at the Government House. Masari said that his administration had accorded priority to the protection of lives and properties of the citizenry and would not tolerate unnecessary killings by customs officers operating in the state. He said: “We will continue to give you all the support that is required but what we don’t want is using excessive force and shooting inside the city because it creates panic. And in the course of the panic, some people run way; some get injured and some even lose their lives.

“I think you should be more civil when you are executing your authorities. Certainly, we will not accept sporadic shooting in the city. Whatever you are going to do, you should do it in the bush or border”. He added, “But when it comes to the city where you are making recoveries or seizures, be more civil, we don’t want firearms. There are better ways of doing it and you can do it successful”. Masari, however, called for the involvement of traditional and religious leaders in the fight against smuggling and other nefarious activities in the state and the country in general.

sion (EFCC), have ceased to have powertomanageassetswhether recovered in the interim or final forfeiture. The gazette, a copy of which was obtained by THISDAY,wassignedbyMalamiand stated that the AGF resorted to the powers conferred on him by the EFCC (Establishment) Act; the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act; Administration of Criminal Justice Act, Money Laundering (Prohibitions) Act, Terrorism (Prevention) Act, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act

andtheNigerianFinancialIntelligence Unit Act (NFIU), among others, as “and all other powers enabling” him in that behalf to make the regulation. BytheregulationtheAGFwill alsocoordinateallinter-agencies investigation in recovery matters within and outside the country even as he would also co-ordinate tracing of proceeds of crimes within and outside Nigeria. The AGF would operate and maintaina“centraliseddatabase for the storage of records of all

recovered assets within and outside Nigeria.” According to the gazette, the regulationshallapplytoillegally acquired assets and proceeds of crime by a person, corporate bodies, including financial institutionsanddesignatednonfinancialinstitutionsinvestigated orprosecutedunderanyrelevant Act in Nigeria. Section 5 of the regulation states that “all non-convictionbasedforfeitureshallbeconducted by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.”

‘Local Content Will Curb Production Cost in Oil Industry’ Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

The Minister of State, Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva yesterday said that federal government would continue to support local content in the oil industry, noting that it would reduce the rising cost of production in the oil industry. Sylva spoke while inspecting the17-storyOfficeComplexofthe Nigeria Content Development andMonitoringBoard(NCDMB) anda10mega-wattspowerplant in Bayelsa expected to supply electricity to the building, the Nigerian Oil and Gas Plant Scheme(NOGAPS)andselected government institutions. Sylva said that local content

to a large extent connotes cost reductionintheoilandgassector, saying local contractors charge less than the expatriates due to some inbuilt costs. “Local content development is part of cost reduction. Local contractors are cheaper than expatriates. That is part of our cost reduction strategy. That is why we want to encourage local participation in Nigeria. “Expatriatescomewithalotof costslikeinsurance.Localcontent is cheaper and by extension we are reducing cost of doing business in Nigeria by supporting local content.” He stated that he was impressedwiththefacility,arguably

the tallest building in the Niger Delta,sayingwhencompletedin thenextfewweeks,itwillreduce the rush to host major oil and gas activities in Lagos and Abuja. He added that within a few years of the NCDMB’s existence, the management had been able to turn things around in the oil and gas industry, especially in theareaoflocalcapacitydevelopment. “I am impressed. This is an indicationaboutwhatNigerians can do in Nigeria. This is encouraging for other contractors and thecontentBoard.Whenyousee that local contractors could do this, they inspire other contractors.”


SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 • T H I S D AY

11


12

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ËžOVEMBER 10, 2019

NEWS Debt Burden Not an Impediment to Execution of N1.168tn Lagos Budget, Say LCCI, NECA tUrge Sanwo-Olu to institutionalise fiscal disciple t Seek review of the state’s security architecture Segun James

Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) yesterday said the debt stock of Lagos State currently standing at N992.38 billion should not be an impediment to the execution of its 2020 budget valued at N1.168 trillion. With the budget deficit of N97.53 billion, the two bodies urged the state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to institu-

tionalise fiscal discipline in the public service so as not to mortgage the progress that would be made in the next financial year. LCCI’s Director-General, Mr. Muda Yusuf and his NECA counterpart, Mr. Timothy Olawale canvassed these positions in separate responses to THISDAY inquiries on the capacity of the state to execute the 2020 budget effectively in the context of unstable national economy. Sanwo-Olu had presented N1.168 trillion budget to the State House of Assembly,

Nigeria Second Largest Importer of Norwegian Seafood Emma Okonji

The Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) has revealed that Nigeria is the second largest importer of seafood from Norway after the People’s Republic of China. The council’s Director for Central and West Africa, Mr. Trond Kostveit disclosed this at a seminar held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island recently. At the seminar, Kostveit said Nigeria “is our second largest country after China for the export of Norwegian seafood, hence the need to address safety and create awareness among Nigerians dealers and chefs on how to preserve seafood from Norway.� Kostveit, however, frowned at the poor storage facilities for imported seafood in Nigeria, especially the move by some traders to preserve seafood with insecticides that are harmful to human beings. He said the best way to preserve seafood from exported from Norway “is through the natural preservation process practised by Norwegian

Seafood Council, which takes a minimum of three months to naturally dry and preserve seafood in the open air.� In the past months, Kostveit explained that there “has been focus on illegal uses of dangerous chemicals on broken pieces of dried fish in some Nigerian markets. “To this end, the Norwegian Seafood Council wishes to organize a seminar on seafood safety showcasing the correct handling of seafood. “The seminar will also create awareness and assurance on various ways to prevent insects and other unwanted pests on perching on seafood products. “As part of the knowledge expansion on Norwegian products, we have invited chefs at some key hotels and restaurants in Nigeria to a separate chef seminar where we will focus on the preparation of stockfish mackerel and salmon.� The director noted that in 2018 Norway exported 20,500 tons of seafood to Nigeria, valued at $40.5 million.

earmarking N723.75 billion (62 per cent) for capital expenditure and N444.81 billion (38 percent) for recurrent expenditure. The governor had proposed that the budget would be funded from a projected Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of N1.071 trillion. However, the budget deficit, put at N97.53billion, would be financed through internal and external loans. Dissecting the fiscal plan yesterday, Yusuf, LCCI’s director-general acknowledged that the state’s debt profile, which the Debt Management Office (DMO) put at N992.38 billion, was the highest among the states in the federation. However, he said the state “has the highest capacity to service debt even though it has the highest debt profile among

the states in the federation.� On his part, Olawale, NECA’s director-general, expressed concern not just at the current debt profile of the state, but also the anticipated deficit. To effectively manage the state’s debt stock and its anticipated deficit of N97.53 billion, Olawale urged the state government “to maintain fiscal discipline so as not to mortgage the progress that would be made.� Olawale emphasised the need to improve security of lives and property, which according to him, had been under duress due to the growing influx of people to the state from all states of the federation and neighbouring countries. He, therefore, noted that it would be necessary for the state government “to review its

security architecture and come up with more innovative ideas and strategies to combat crime and stop the insecurity that is threatening the pace of our national development.� Specifically, the directorgeneral pointed out that private capital and investments could only be guaranteed with assured security of lives and properties. Yusuf equally made a case for improved security, noting that the rapid urbanisation challenges had undermined the security of lives and property in the state. He said the pressure on the state’s infrastructure “is huge. There is heavy pressure on the roads, health facilities, educational facilities, waste management systems etc. This is because of the growing population in Lagos state, currently

estimated at over 22 million. “This is coupled with the rapid urbanization challenges, which comes with the added challenge of ensuring the security of lives and property. Security expenditure to support the security agencies is also very significant.� Yusuf, therefore, pointed out that the budget “will impact on the citizens of the state only to the extent that revenue expectations are met. Practically all levels of government are currently faced with challenge of revenue. “The good thing about Lagos is its robust IGR. But even the IGR is dependent on the health of the economy and the prosperity of investment in the state. There is a clear correlation between business performance and government revenue.

AN ILLUSTRIOUS SON... L-R: President, Sons and Daughters of Igbomina, Mr. Timothy Niyi Adebayo (left), conferring a Merit Award on the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed (right), at the 2019 Igbomina Day in Isanlu-Isin, Kwara State...Saturday

Oando Legal Seminar Avenue Falomo, MKO Abiola’s Personal Physician, Dies at 77 for Knowledge Sharing t Buhari, Tinubu, Adebanjo, Okunrounmu mourn Oando Plc, Africa’s leading integrated energy solutions provider, has held its sixth legal seminar, bringing senior lawyers and legal practitioners to share knowledge and drive meaningful engagement. The firm’s Chief Legal Officer, Mrs. Ngozi Okonkwo explained the objective of the seminar, saying it was borne out of the need to drive engagement and create an avenue for knowledge sharing in the Nigerian legal sector. Okonkwo, also, said the seminar was designed to bring forth opportunities for collaborations and deliberations that would be beneficial to practitioners, the industry, and the country at large. She said: “The kind of value you gain from seminars like these cannot be over emphasized, attendees leave

equipped with knowledge that are certain to come in handy in their practice and other endeavours. “As a result of their busy schedules, many professionals do not have enough time for personal development, however, seminars such as these are an easy way to gain real value, opening the door for that flood of useful information that equips us to become that valuable knowledge resource.� Topics discussed at the event included the intricacies of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA), which has now been signed by 52 out of 55 African countries, including Nigeria. Experts, at the event harped on the need for Nigeria to improve on its infrastructural facilities to enable the country reap the benefits of AFCTA.

Idowu Sowunmi

Personal physician to late Chief MKO Abiola, Dr. Ore Falomo, is dead. He was 77 years old. Falomo, a former Medical Director of Maryland Specialist Hospital, was said to have died in the early hours of Saturday after a brief illness. In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media & Publicity, President Muhammadu Buhari condoled with the family of Falomo, who served humanity for many years, working for citizens, eminent Nigerians and medical institutions. The president commiserated with friends and professional associates of the former Chief Medical Director of Maryland Specialist Hospital, whose dedication to duty and welfare of his patients brought him to recognition, especially

as personal physician to politician and business magnate, Chief MKO Abiola. Buhari said the kindness and humane services of the late chief medical director would be sorely missed, praying that God will grant him eternal rest and comfort his family. Although no official statement has been issued on his death, some leaders of pan Yoruba group, Afenifere, have reacted to his death. Chief Ayo Adebanjo described him as a progressive, nationalist, patriot and successful medical practitioner. He said Falomo fought for democratic ideals and was loyal to the struggle. Senator Femi Okunrounmu described the late medical doctor as a courageous fighter who was loyal to Abiola to the end. In a statement yesterday,

the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu described Falomo as a physician and activist who identified with the agitation for a better Nigeria, though he was not a politician. Tinubu said: “I knew Falomo very well as a physician and an activist. Though he was late MKO’s personal physician, he was part of the struggle for the revalidation of June 12. “He was no politician but he identified with us. He identified with our agitation for a better and progressive Nigeria. He was one of us. He participated in Abiola’s political struggles and also felt in his pains. He was one of those who saw Abiola last, some two weeks to his eventual death. “His death is a loss to the country, to the medical profession and to the progressives

family. But we must thank God that he lived to a rather advanced age and that he left behind good deeds and good children to continue to live after him. “Falomo lived and practised in Lagos where his clinic is located, he would be deeply missed by all those who came in contact with him because of his good nature. “I commiserate with his family, relations, friends and associates. I mourn with the medical confraternity. I mourn with Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Dapo Abiodun and the government and people of Lagos and Ogun states.� Tinubu prayed God to grant Falomo rest, praying also God to grant his family the courage to live through his passing and the strength to continue with his good deeds.


SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 • T H I S D AY

13


14

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

OPINION Customs Automation And National Security Remi Adebayo argues that the implementation of new e-customs policy will enhance transparency and security

A

country’s economic survival largely depends on innovations at revamping strategic sectors of the economy to drive efficiency and competition; to increase investment, reduce prices and expand the range of services. As such, the port, being a critical sector in revenue generation and window to any nation, is always at the forefront in engendering and advancing efforts to boost government revenue and national security. Over the years, the port has experienced phases in the ownership, management and regulation. In fact, as far back as 2005, when the Nigerian government proved disappointing in the face of competing demands, Nigerian ports lacked the resources to fund substantial innovations in the sector. Consequently, the government transferred the provision of needed infrastructure services to the private sector, with accompanied sector reform and re-structuring before concession. Many Nigerians who had businesses at the seaports before the concession went through difficulties, experiencing various forms of shoddiness, lack of plants and equipment, pilferage, bribery and allied vices carried out by miscreants called ‘wharf rats’, populated by unscrupulous labour contractors who held ship masters and agents to ransom even after they have paid all official fees. Some of these deplorable acts were then committed by seemingly over-bloated workforce of the seaports who collude with other despicable elements. The Nigerian Maritime Sector has underperformed, forcing the government to accede to the proposal by the Federal Ministry of Transport to invite all interested international stakeholders in Nigerian seaborne trade to partake in a competitive bidding for private operators to run the ports purely as profit-oriented commercial ventures paying tax to the federal government. This was the basis of the seaport reform agenda adopted by the Federal Executive Council. Fortunately, the government was able to achieve its goal and address some deficiencies with the concession of ports which made it to record impressive results. These notwithstanding, government and concessionaires realized the need to embrace modern customs’ practices and procedures to reduce the delays, bottlenecks and corruption within the ports. In a bid to achieve this, Col. Hameed Ali, the ComptrollerGeneral of Nigeria Customs Service, is keen in fast-tracking the e-custom strategic plan, an initiative which began in 2016 when

94 companies responded to a bid request by the Service. In the exercise, 15 companies were pre-qualified and invited to make presentations on their solutions. At the end, Bionica Technologies W.A. Limited came top after a rigorous evaluation process. The company has five technical partners, including Paramout Group, Huawei Technology, Smiths Detection, Larsen & Toubro Group and Nuctech of China. The partners are mobilising about $450 million in investment to attain the complete turnaround programme. The Africa/Finance Corporation has indicated its interest in supporting the Customs automation programme. The consortium will partner with the Nigeria Customs Service by deploying direct capital investment, collaborating with original equipment manufacturers to develop and implement specific modernization programs. Specifically, the consortium will implement full automation of all the Nigeria Customs’ business processes and procedures through the development and implementation of a robust and secured ICT platform. This entails complete systems integration with the current ICT platform; development and implementation of modern customs border stations, airports and marine posts. The marine posts would be utilized to develop the marine customs outfit. Another part is to repair, upgrade and maintain the existing scanners; including installation of sophisticated fit-for-site new scanners suitable for site-type customs operations in secured locations in class non-intrusive systems available all-year-round. The innovation will also focus on modernizing strategic customs infrastructure as well as delivery on full capacity-building programs for officers with local and internationally recognised professional certification across cadres in line with international best practices.

The turnaround will ensure that the business of the customs is fully automated using the latest smart technologies with original equipment manufacturers. It will also guarantee the evolution of integrated border management module with centralized automated customs risk management system

Stakeholders have applauded this impactful vision; insisting that they hold benefits for strong partnership with 100 per cent guarantee with external finance having no immediate cost to the customs for all projects. Instead, will increase revenue for the government, create jobs, minimize smuggling and insecurity. Similarly, the turnaround will ensure that the business of the customs is fully automated using the latest smart technologies with original equipment manufacturers. It will also guarantee the evolution of integrated border management module with centralized automated customs risk management system through real-time, remote scanning operations. Pundits also believe that through this measure, there will be drastic reduction in leakages and other trade malpractices; transparency, predictability and trade facilitation and address current national security challenges, through sharing of information data with other partner organizations. The innovation will also upgrade the Nigeria Customs Service’s current ICT infrastructure, existing scanners and scanning operations and facilities. On the long term, the direct capital investment through the proposed Public-Private Partnership promises professional execution of the Nigerian Customs Service’s modernization programme; it will ensure that all collectable revenues are accounted for in line with the Treasury Single Account policy of the federal government which in turn will shore up the pedigree of the Service amongst the best organized worldwide as it targets reducing incentive to leakages and discourage corrupt practices. This innovation is neither new nor peculiar to Nigeria. Checks on the website of the Port of Singapore, the busiest container transhipment hub in the world, indicated a remarkable success of the solution proposed for the NCS. Similarly, Shanghai Customs is using the container image centralized analysis system; Shanghai Yangshan Port for its mega ports initiative. The Turkish Customs use it for centralized supervision system; Singapore Custom inspection smart clearance system; Qatar Customs deployed it for container image centralized analysis system while the Venezuelan Customs has deployed same for its national inspection centralized supervision system. At this time the Nigerian government is enforcing the temporary border closure policy to curb economic and security lapses, including economic sabotage and smuggling of small arms and light weapons, the implementation of new e-customs policy is long overdue.

Magu and The EFCC Chair The President is entitled to retain Ibrahim Magu in acting capacity, writes Wahab Shittu

T

he name Ibrahim Magu has a close chemistry with the name President Muhammadu Buhari. The two personalities are very passionate about the anti-corruption war, both live relatively simple and are perceived as hardliners in terms of adherence to principles. So far, both have worked together particularly in fostering the anti-corruption agenda of this administration, winning in the process accolades locally and internationally. The surprise however is that while Buhari is enjoying a second term tenure on account of his high moral and ethical standards including popular appeal, Magu, who shares similar traits with the president, is still in acting capacity as the Chairman of EFCC because forces obsessed with the theory of corruption continue to mount fierce battle against this confirmation in spite of his stellar achievements. The irony of all of these however is that in spite of this fierce opposition against Magu by pro-corruption elements, only Buhari, as the appointing authority, has the power under the law to determine who spearheads his anti-corruption crusade. Going by the antecedents of Mr President for his anti-corruption reputation, he is likely to insist on Magu as the head of EFCC given some of these sterling achievements detailed hereunder. The EFCC, is no doubt, one of the most vibrant anti-corruption agency in Nigeria. Currently led by Magu, the agency has since keyed into the National Anti-corruption Strategy, a framework of Buhari’s government for a coordinated approach to the anti-graft war in Nigeria. Prevention, which is a cardinal objective, if the fight against corruption must be won, was given the top priority. To this extent, various preventive initiatives were designed towards public re-orientation and enlightenment. The EFCC new head office building whose construction was abandoned due to lack of funds was also given priority attention and with support from the Nigerian government, the project was completed and commissioned on May 15, 2018, by Buhari. The very first information which came through the corruption reporting platforms led to the discovery of $9.8million hidden in the slums of Sabon Tasha, in Kaduna State. The money is said to belong to Dr. Andrew Yakubu, a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The

funds are currently under an interim forfeiture order while the alleged owner is challenging the forfeiture order of the court. The more shocking discovery was, however, that of Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, also in Lagos, where cash in local and foreign currencies was recovered in an apartment on the seventh floor of the towers. Funds recovered in the apartment through information provided by whistle-blowers include: 527.46million; $53.23million; £122,890 and €547,730.00.These funds have now been forfeited to the federal government. The EFCC under the watch of Magu has launched a major onslaught on the hitherto sacred cows in the society, who have soiled their hands with corruption including very senior military officers and their civilian counterparts implicated in the $2.1billion federal government's arms procurement fraud. A breakdown of what has been recovered so far include the sum of $1million, found in one of the late retired generals’ wardrobe, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd.), during a search of one of the properties linked to him. The following properties located in high- brow locations in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, were also recovered from Badeh: a tastefully furnished mansion, located at 6, Ogun River Street, Maitama; a duplex, located at No. 14 Adzope Crescent, off Kumasi Crescent, Wuse 2; a shopping mall at Plot 1386, Oda Crescent, Cadastral Zone A07, Wuse II, Abuja, and a house located at No.19, Kumasi Crescent, Wuse II, allegedly belonging to Badeh's son. All these properties are located in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Another indicted general, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd.), who is also on trial allegedly enriched himself with illegally acquired funds. Properties and funds recovered from him include: 2, 244,500,000, a house located on Adeyemo Alakija Street, GRA Ikeja, Lagos; a set of houses in the Badagry area in Lagos, and an ultra-modern hospital, St. Solomon Health Care Limited, located on Adeniyi Jones Avenue in Ikeja, also in Lagos. These have since been forfeited to the federal government through the efforts of the EFCC. The EFCC, in the cause of investigating the arms deal fraud, also recovered the following properties belonging to retired Air Vice Marshal Adigun. They are: a block of 12 luxury flats located on Agodogba Street, Park View Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, a block of luxury flats on Sinari Daranijo Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, as well as a parcel of land, located on Bourdillon Drive, Ikoyi.

Others include: a set of four terrace houses on Agede Street, off Aminu Kano in the Wuse 2 area of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Over the past three years, the EFCC has conducted massive investigation into transactions in the petroleum sector, leading to the indictment of some former officials of the Petroleum Resources Ministry and their accomplices. Notable names being investigated by the EFCC include a former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke and her associates, Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko, believed to be hibernating overseas. From Diezani, the EFCC secured the forfeiture of several properties to the federal government through non-convictionbased forfeiture proceedings. They include $50million properties linked to her and exotic jewelleries worth about $40million from her Abuja residence. While these revelations rankle, most Nigerians were also shocked to learn about how the country’s common patrimony was frittered in bribes for votes schemes in the 2015 general elections. The sum of $115million was allegedly shared among top politicians and staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to rig the election. Dozens of staff of INEC and influential political figures including former ministers and state governors are currently being prosecuted in court for their roles in the scam. Some recoveries were also recorded by the commission in this area. The EFCC under Magu’s leadership has secured harvest of court convictions that are adjudged the highest among law enforcement agencies in the country. The breakdown of convictions recorded in three years is as follows: the EFCC recorded 103 convictions in 2015; 195 in 2016; 189 in 2017 and 314 convictions in 2018. From January to October this year, the commission recorded 890 convictions. Thus, Magu has set a record unsurpassed by any anti-graft agency anywhere in the world. The significant milestone regarding the convictions recorded in 2018 was the 14 years jail terms handed to two former state governors, Joshua Dariye, who is a serving senator and Rev. Jolly Nyame, for corruption. Their trial took 11 years while the duo is currently serving their jail terms at Kuje Prison. ––Shittu is a legal practitioner and a lecturer at the University of Lagos.


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

15

LETTERS Lagos: Imperatives of Intermodal Transportation

B

eing a megacity and emerging smart city, it is quite obvious that efficient traffic management can best be experienced in Lagos State if the three modes of rail, road and water transportation are effectively integrated to complement one another. Commuting the over 20 million people of Lagos State largely on the road has, thus far, proven ineffective. Aside her appellation of the ‘Centre of Excellence’, Lagos State is also acknowledged as the ‘State of Aquatic Splendor’. It is, however, the latter tag that appropriately captures the topography of the state. It is an open secret that Lagos, the smallest, most densely populated and most cosmopolitan state in Nigeria has about 10 Lagoons, with the Lagos and Lekki Lagoons being the major ones. The others are Yewa, Badagry, Ologe, Iyagbe, Kuramo, Apese, Epe and Mahin lagoons. The Lagos lagoon is fed by several rivers, the most important of which are the Ogun, Ona/ Ibu, Oshun, Shasha and Oni. These water bodies inundate the state with so much storm water during the rainy season, leading to flash flood-

I

Sanwo-Olu ing and consequential damage to the surface of the road. But then, could this be all the water bodies do to Lagos? Definitely not! They provide water for agriculture as well as domestic and industrial use. However, the major concern of this piece is the role the lagoon plays and is capable of playing

in the management of traffic and transportation, which incidentally is the first pillar of the development agenda of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s administration. Lagos State is littoral in topography; all her five administrative divisions are accessible through the water ways. For instance, it is possible to access

Badagry, the West end of the state from Epe, the far East end by ferry boats traversing Ikorodu, Lagos and Ikeja divisions in the process. Before the construction of roads leading to the mainland, water transportation was the prominent means of commuting in Lagos. Imported merchandise for distribution into the hinterlands and local produce designated for Lagos onward journey overseas were conveyed on the waterways. This activity gave prominence to three major markets, Ebute Market, Ipakodo in Ikorodu division, Ejinrin in Epe and Agbadirigi in Badagry. The water transportation was soon abandoned following roads construction and the development of communities along the road corridors. Today, the reality is that road transportation has been overstretched. The introduction of minibuses, Keke Marwa and Okada (motorbikes) has mostly compounded the management of traffic across the state. In as much as these diverse means of road transportation cluster Lagos roads, the bus-stops continue to play host to stranded passengers. Many attempts to move a chunk of the commut-

The Closure of Nigeria’s Borders

n 1949, the Peoples Republic of China came into being after Chairman Mao Zedong came to power and entrenched communism into the once ancient empire – one of the few never to have been colonized. He immediately turned to the then Soviet Union to make China leapfrog into becoming a highly industrialized economy which could be self reliant in the future. His foreign policy thrust saw the sending of many young Chinese students to understudy the Soviet Union especially in the areas of science and technology and come back home to have a great impact on the Chinese economy. This visionary move worked and heralded the dawn of the Cultural Revolution which cashed in on the large population of the country to get millions out of grinding poverty. After Zedong’s death, the new leaders decided it was high time China developed its own home grown technology for massive exportation. It then closed her borders for a long period of time. It naturally resulted in a short term pain which later translated into a long term gain as

the Chinese economy got better for it and is now the fastest growing in the entire globe. The Buhari government, concerned about smuggling, decided to shut down the Nigerian borders. Smugglers from Benin Republic were engaging in massive smuggling of rice, second hand cars and bales of clothes which adversely affected the Nigerian economy as customs duties weren’t paid to her. Concerned about the plight of the local farmers who were unable to sell their rice no thanks to the insatiable appetite for foreign rice by many Nigerians, the government decided to act fast to save these tillers of the land from economic annihilation. From a nationalistic viewpoint, the border closure is highly commendable as it will make Nigerians critically look inwards and solve their problems with home grown solutions. For the first time in a very long while, the rejected local rice suddenly became the beautiful bride as the demand exponentially went up as well as its hitherto low price. The Nigerian Customs Service has been

raking in between five to six billion naira a day thereby increasing the revenue in the government coffers at a time when revenue from crude oil is at an all -time low and we are eager to return the budget cycle to the January to December calendar. On the other hand, I am very skeptical about this policy not because I am any less patriotic but because successive governments always fail when it comes to policy implementation for the benefit of the citizens especially the downtrodden who have always bore the brunt of maladministration. I believe that the leaders should lead by example so that they actually walk the talk. There is no sturdy agricultural policy to get Nigerian farmers to massively export their produce. The government isn’t thinking in the direction of extending agricultural subsidy to these drawers of water and hewers of wood in their motherland. They are practically left alone and to their own devices. There is no infrastructural development to aid them in easily transporting their produce to the cities from the hinterland. Aside food production,

there is no sincerity on the part of the government to ensure a robust home grown economy that can enable the ‘Giant of Africa’ stand on her two feet. When our dear President falls ill, he runs at the slightest opportunity to London to seek privileged treatment despite a campaign promise in 2015 to ban medical tourism. We have Innoson motors that are producing vehicles locally against all odds. Do government officials in the ministries, departments and agencies drive any of their vehicles to encourage patronage for this wonderful economic initiative of their fellow Nigerian? The “patronize made in Nigeria products” is just a mere slogan that does not apply to the parasitic political elite. One won’t be surprised if the prohibited foreign rice is still being consumed by the political elite as the law is clearly for the poor. The success of any economic policy is the willingness of the political actors to show a high modicum of sincerity in its effective implementation rather than merely playing to the gallery. ––Tony Ademiluyi, Lagos

ers on to the waterways for a cool soothing cruise in short time to their various destinations have been frustrated by the phobia for water travels. A few boat mishaps, occasioned by disrespect for rules and regulations, especially the use of rickety boats, overloading and over speeding have also not helped matters. However, the narrative seems set for a change as state of the art commuter ferry boats some of which were named after Ipakodo, Alausa and Ejirin will soon be deployed to the waterways. With capacity for 40 to 60 passengers, the ferry boats will commute Lagos residents from Badagry, Epe, Ikorodu, Badore, Ikoyi, amongst other routes. With over 30 jetties, there is no reason why Lagos should not diversify its mode of transportation. For instance, it takes less than seven minutes to cross from Ijede in Ikorodu to Badore while from Baiyeku to Langbasa is about 15 minutes. The journey of about two and half hours on a good day from Ipakodo to Ikoyi takes less than 30 minutes from the Ipakodo Ferry Terminal. A well developed and properly coordinated water transportation will also help in haulage across the state, thereby relieving the roads of heavy duty trucks which contribute in no small measure to the depression of the roads leading to their failures. It is glaring that for Lagos to be a functional smart city there must be diversification of the mode of transportation. There must be interconnectivity of the rail, road and water transportation. The overdependence on road transportation is largely responsible for the agony being suffered when the persistent rains washed the surface of many roads in Lagos metropolis, creating potholes and craters that made travelling on the

roads unpalatable. Ponds were made of many roads making navigation very difficult, largely because drainage channels had been compromised and many a times there was rise in the lagoon and ocean bodies leading to tidal lock. Interestingly, it was mostly in communities abutting water bodies where advantage of water transportation should have been taken. It is, therefore, important to develop more of the routes on the waterways, provide more of the modern ferry boats that comes along with aesthetics, speed, comfort and confidence in the use of the water transportation; more private sector operators should be encouraged to invest in this mode of transportation while government provide more facilities and regulations. There is also need for media campaigns and organized tour of major waterways in the state with the aim of drawing the attention of more people to the reality of water transport and disabuse their minds of the phobia for the mode as largely spread by the older generation. A visit to most of the functional jetties in the state to observe and listen to people who have been taking advantage of the facilities will also help. Ultimately, there is the need to also make the cost of water transportation affordable. While we await the completion of the light rail from Mile Two to Marina, and its extension to various other routes within the state, in order to speedily ensure the integration of the three modes of rail, water and road transportation in the state, it is imperative that we take advantage of the water bodies that nature has endowed us with to our advantage. ––Adesegun Ogundeji, Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Works and Infrastructure.

The Truth Will Set You Free

T

he truth is out there' but not seemingly in Australia, given the front cover of many of the newspapers. How can a person face 161 years' jail for talking about the Australian Tax Office? How can going through a journalist's underwear drawer help Australia be a freer country? Why can't politicians actually answer a question with 'yes' or 'no'?

There is something to reflect on in the words of George Orwell, 'In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.' Telling the truth is surely the only option in a free country. Telling the truth is vital, but more important is the freedom to be able to tell the truth without fear or favour. ––Dennis Fitzgerald, Melbourne, Australia.


16

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 •T H I S D AY


SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 • T H I S D AY

17


18

N͚͸˜ͺ͸͚ΠËžTHISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER

INTERNATIONAL Issues in the Corruption-driven Governance of Nigeria: The Truth about Untruths

P

olitical governance of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) appears to have become the most controversial question since the time of independence in 1960. This is because of the very critical issues often raised and which border much on dignity and honesty of purpose in the management and conduct of national business. When PMB was elected in 2015, he said his priority would be on three main pillars: economic recovery, security, and anti-corruption. And true enough, good efforts were made to dislodge the territorial occupation of the Boko Haramists. Their national flags were uprooted and were actually pushed out into engagement in a guerrilla warfare. But this has not put an end to Boko Haram’s insurgency. On economic recovery, whether there has been improvement is, at best, controversial, especially in light of the new extent of foreign indebtedness and high costs of living. We should really be talking about growth, and not yet about development. As regards anti-corruption, the more we have reported cases of recovery of ill-gotten funds, the more the new cases of corruption. This necessarily prompts any right-thinking person to ask and challenge this observation. We strongly believe that political governance under PMB is largely corruption driven. On the one hand, there is no disputing the fact that Government is not only truly carrying the anticorruption battle to the door steps of many corruption suspects, but it is also reportedly winning in many cases of engagement of public officials and also recovering some funds. On the other hand, there are many newly reported cases over which Government has been keeping quiet. And perhaps more disturbingly, political governance under PMB has come to be characterised by allegations, one after the other, but which are always promptly denied by Government. It is truth for the reporters but untruth at the level of Government. The first issue then is to ask about the genesis of the information. Why is there always ‘fake news’ whenever the information is about PMB, either at the level of his family or at the level of his presidency? Why is dishonesty rampant in his government? In whichever way these questions are looked at, the truth remains that dishonesty has become the hallmark of political governance under PMB and this is why corruption-fighting at the top is necessarily neutralised by galloping corruption at the lower levels. Corruption is not, and should not, be simply considered in the way it is officially and legally defined in Nigeria. Government places emphasis, speaking generally, on bribe-giving and the corruptionists still holding public office. Without doubt, an act of corruption is essentially about dishonesty. Acorrupt person necessarily has a perverted character and not only destroys morally, but also destroys integrity and debases quality. Corruption is another word for any act of dishonesty. There can never be any engagement in an act of corruption without having a mind of dishonesty driving it. In fact, corruption is an intention. It is a purpose. The Presidency is therefore very corrupt in various ramifications, especially that it claims that aides of the Vice President were deployed and that there was no case of sack. Even the spokesperson, not to mention the Vice President himself gave the public an impression that there is nothing like. Whereas, the same presidency was reported on Saturday, November 9, 2019 to have given reasons for the sack of the 35 aides. According to Saturday Sun, ‘the Presidency wishes to confirm that there is on-going, an unprecedented overhaul of the nation’s seat of government, arising from which a number of political appointments have either been revoked or not renewed in the Second Term.’ More important, the Presidency also has it that ‘the exercise, which has been ordered by the President, is to streamline decisionmaking, cut down multiple authorities and reduce the cost of administration. It is also an appropriate response to the general perception that the Presidency has an oversized and bloated workforce, which acts a drag on efficiency.’ To indulge in telling untruths, only to wake up again to jettison earlier pronouncement is an act of self-deceit and wrong doing. It is a manifestation of corruption. In fact, every act of dishonesty is corruption and should be fought tooth and nail. But this hardly the case in Nigeria, and particularly under the administration of PMB. There are many manifestations of open dishonesty in the governance of Nigeria, all of which send wrong messages about the people of Nigeria to the larger world. Three illustrations will do at this juncture: PMB’s

VIE INTERNATIONALE with

Bola A. Akinterinwa Telephone : 0807-688-2846

e-mail: bolyttag@yahoo.com

Buhari visit to the United Kingdom, the controversy surrounding the aides of the Vice President, Professor Osinbajo, and the dismissal of Abubakar Atiku’s appeal case by the Supreme Court.

PMB’s Private Visit to the UK

On October 28, 2019 PMB travelled to Saudi Arabia on official visit and was reported that, from there, he would be going to the United Kingdom on a private visit. As reported, he would not return to the country until November 17, 2019, that is, 21 days of continuous absence. Many issues are raised with the visit. What really should we mean by a private visit? In international relations, there are three main types of visits: official, unofficial, and officious. Each type still has its own categorisation. For instance, an official visit can be a State Visit or Working Visit, with their attendant implications for protocol. It should be recalled here that when Alhaji Shehu Shagari was to pay an official visit to France in 1982, the Government of Nigeria considered the visit as a State Visit, while the ElysĂŠe authorities considered it an ordinary working visit. As a result, the French government assigned a Minister, with a low ranking, Mrs Georgina Dufoix, to receive Alhaji Shehu Shagari at the airport. But on knowing about the appointment of Mrs. Dufoix to receive the Nigerian leader, the Embassy of Nigeria in Paris protested and advised against the visit. This was why President Shagari boycotted the visit to France and travelled to Germany. Germany took advantage of the French saga to give a better red carpet welcome to Shehu Shagari. In other words, a State Visit has more recognition than a working visit, which attracts little protocol. Aprivate visit is one which does not have much of governmental involvement, especially in terms of protocolar reception and protection. It is also referred to as unofficial visit. Diplomatic protection is taken for granted in terms of safety, without which the international responsibility of the host State may be called to question. Aprivate visit, is private to

We strongly believe that political governance under PMB is largely corruption driven. On the one hand, there is no disputing the fact that Government is not only truly carrying the anti-corruption battle to the door steps of many corruption suspects, but it is also reportedly winning in many cases of engagement of public ofďŹ cials and also recovering some funds. On the other hand, there are many newly reported cases over which Government has been keeping quiet

the extent that it does not even involve the government of which a president is the head. In other words, if PMB is reported to have gone on private visit to the United Kingdom, it simply implies that he was going on vacation and not on any official business on behalf of the government and people of Nigeria. In this regard, room can still be given to the visit to include working scenarios, and then, the private visit can have the character of a working visit. As regards officious visit, it is one that has both the characters of an official and a private visit. Like PMB is on private visit to the United Kingdom, he may still be invited to some official receptions during which state duties may be performed. It is the official and non-official character of a visit that define what constitutes an officious visit. In all cases, official visit, especially in the sense of a State Visit, is the highest and most important in inter-state relations. In understanding the thrust of this column, the private visit of PMB will still need to subjected to other questions: is the visit really private? If it is private, what is the nature of the privacy of the visit? Depending on the nature of the privacy, should public funds be expended? We ask these questions because Abba Kyari, the Presidential Chief of Staff, was reported to have travelled to the United Kingdom to give PMB the Deep Offshore (amendment) Bill for assent on Monday, November 4, 2019. If PMB is truly on private visit to the United Kingdom, why disturb his private visit with a bill to sign? Why not wait for his arrival? Who pays for Abba Kyari’s visit to the United Kingdom? Was he not officially received by the Foreign Service Officers at the Nigeria High Commission? Was PMB also not officially received by the Nigeria High Commission? We ask these questions with the objective of underscoring the point that there is absolutely nothing to suggest that PMB’s visit has an exclusive character of privacy and that government officials have become specialists in dishoneststory telling. If PMB is going on medical vacation, he is entitled to it, because presidential functions can be very fastidious, and therefore can require rest and medical consultation. However, giving the public the impression that PMB is hale and hearty, rather than that he is physiologically not alright, is nothing more than a manifestation of dishonesty, and therefore, of corruption. In this case, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is also on record to have commended PMB not only for signing the bill, but particularly for Abba Kyari’s decision to take the bill to as far as the United Kingdom for signing. What is the total cost of Abba Kyari’s visit, in terms of flight, hotel accommodation, estacode, etc. Answers are needed in light of PMB’s reported policy of the need to reduce the costs of governance in Nigeria. Questions have been raised as to why the reduction in the costs of administration are limited to the staff of the Vice President. Whatever is the case, problems can only be created for an amiable PMB when he is made to live at the epicentre of untruths. As told by the Sahara Reporters, the purpose of PMB’s visit to the United Kingdom is medical check-up. PMB has been diagnosed as far back as February 2017, to have Chrohn’s disease that affects the digestive system. The resurgence of the disease has been ascribed to stress. As quoted by the Sahara Reporters, PMB ‘has really been stressed by all the drama that has been happening in the villa.’ This is a very good reason and justification for the visit. PMB is Nigeria’s president and all Nigerians should be much concerned about his health. There is no need engaging in any act of corruption to make a case for him. He does not need it. PMB cannot, on the one hand, claim to be fighting dishonesty while his aides are directly acting as special corruptionists. This brings us to the issue of Vice President Osibajo.

The Case of Yemi Osibajo’s Aides

The case of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is quite interesting in terms of dishonesty of purpose and corruption. It raises the controversy about PMB’s disinterest in his Vice and the constitutional provision requiring PMB to transmit a letter to the National Assembly if he is travelling out and will not be able to perform his official functions. In other words, the trending controversy is that PMB is apparently undermining the Office of the Vice President, but which is strongly being denied by the Presidency. It is argued deductively that, if there is no intention to undermine, there would have been a written letter to the National Assembly, to create a basis for him to act the position of the President. In this regard too, the issue of the aides of the Vice President has been raised. Reports have it that 35 of them have been sacked. Initially, the report was that they were asked to vacate their official residences within the Presidential Villa, on the basis that they had been redeployed to the newly-established Ministries of Humanitarian and Social Affairs. In other words, they do not need to reside in the villa. Not only were they asked to vacate, their entry permit were said to have been withdrawn. Today, the report is not only that the new Ministries to which the aides had been redeployed are said to have rejected them on grounds of non-available positions. Have they been technically sacked? Is the sack an attempt to undermine the Office of the Vice President? In fact, the report is also that the Vice President is said to be waiting for the arrival of PMB to find out the extent of veracity about the decision to redeploy them. (See concluding part on www.thisdaylive.com)


19

THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER Ëž͚͸˜ͺ͸͚Î

BUSINESS

   ĂŽĂ“ĂžĂ™ĂœË? Kunle Aderinokun 08033204315, 08111813084 Ă—Ă‹Ă“Ă–Ë? Ă•Ă&#x;Ă˜Ă–Ă?˛ËÎĂ?ĂœĂ“Ă˜Ă™Ă•Ă&#x;Ă˜ĚśĂžĂ’Ă“Ă?ĂŽĂ‹ĂŁĂ–Ă“Ă Ă?Ë›Ă?Ù×

Danbatta

Pantami

As FG Forces Telcos to Cut Subscribers’ Data Cost... The recent directive from the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy that telecoms operators should cut data subscription rates, has been received with mixed feelings by the operators and subscribers, writes Emma Okonji

T

he Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, last week, directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to resolve the issues of illegal data deduction and review downwards, the cost of data in the country within five days. While telecoms subscribers have hailed the directive of the minister, which they said was long overdue, having been subjected to high cost of data against their wish for too long a time, telecoms operators are however disturbed about the directive, insisting that the directive is unachievable, owing to the high operational cost of doing telecoms business in Nigeria. Telecoms operators had, before now, consistently complained about the high cost of data in Nigeria, despite the berthing of several submarine broadband cables at the shores of the country like MainOne, Glo 1, MTN WACS, SAT3, among others. The subscribers were of the view that with the landing of the various submarine cables at the shores of the country, operators have comparative advantage of reducing cost of data in Nigeria, but they expressed their dissatisfaction that cost of data still remained high in Nigeria, thus limiting businesses, organisations and

individuals from accessing the internet for e-Commerce trade, government online activities and personal browsing. The Directive Pantami, last Tuesday, directed NCC to resolve the issues of illegal data deduction and review downwards, the price of data in the country within five days. The minister gave the directive during the presentation of Mr. Adeleke Morofolu Adewolu, the new NCC board member/executive commissioner by the commission’s chairman, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja. The minister pointed out that there were numerous complaints from Nigerians regarding illegal data deduction and high price of data, adding that he had personally experienced illegal data deduction. He charged NCC to facilitate the penetration and expansion of 3G and 4G and urged the commission to design a target on how mobile operators could expand penetration of 3G and 4G in the country. Pantami said: “The main agenda of NCC is to protect the interest of customers and our priority is to protect Nigerians. It is our collective responsibility to make sure we give 100 per cent support to Mr. President to deliver his key mandate.� He charged the new commissioner to use his experience and support the board to fight corruption, noting that the success of NCC

and the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy remained the success of Nigeria. The minister noted that the mandate of the ministry had been expanded towards improving the economy of the country through ICT, hence, there is a need to work together for the progress of Nigeria. Subscribers’ Reaction Following the directive of the minister that telecoms operators should embark on downward review of data pricing in the country, telecoms subscribers, who for the cost of data, have commended the minister for the directive, saying the directive is long overdue. One of the subscribers to MTN, who identified himself as Adeleke Jimoh, said although the telecoms operators often come up with some palliatives through promos to reduce cost of data and increase data gigabytes for the same fixed rate, to enable subscribers have more data for browsing. He, however said the rate at which such data runs and depletes, was alarming, making it impossible for subscribers to actually stay long on the internet. Other subscribers, who expressed their feelings over the directive, also commended the minister, while explaining that Nigeria had the highest rate in data billing in the world. They called on the telecoms regulator, NCC, to ensure that all telecoms operators comply with the

directive of the minister to further reduce the cost of data across all networks. Telcos Reaction Speaking on the new directive, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, said enforcing reduction in data cost without addressing the challenges of doing telecoms business in Nigeria, would make the directive practically unrealistic. He wondered how the directive would work without a good framework that will save the huge investments made by the telecom operators. “I don’t know how the government is going to achieve data reduction in five days without putting into consideration the high cost of operating our businesses and the very harsh operating environment we are in. “Why are they trying to muzzle the NCC and stampede it into doing what is unrealistic? Do they know that operators don’t just sit down and fix tariffs?� They, with NCC, rely on so many things before coming up with tariffs. “We do not know under what circumstances the directive was given, and to be honest with you, we don’t know how that is going to be achieved. “We have said it several times that when policies interfere with commercial matters, the industry will be jeopardised. Government


20

THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER Ëž͚͸˜ͺ͸͚Î

  As FG Forces Telecos to Cut Subscribers’ Data Cost...

Cont’d from pg. 19

needs to be careful not to whittle down the powers of the regulator. To arrive at prices NCC normally conducts survey and research, and after all that, it will benchmark the country’s tariffs based on what is obtained in other jurisdictions,� Adebayo said. Data Depletion Following the global shift from voice to data communications as a result of the free data services offered by Over The Top (OTT) telecoms service providers, subscribers in Nigeria have complained of data rip-off by telecoms subscribers, who they alleged, programmed their data bundle to deplete very fast while browsing. Although the incursion into data communication by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) is a global phenomenon meant to generate additional revenue strings for MNOs in order to make up for the loss in voice revenue, occasioned by activities of OTT players, subscribers have alleged that MNOs, like MTN, Globacom, Airtel, 9mobile and ntel, are however using the opportunity to rip off telecoms subscribers of their money, through early data depletion. The situation is such that subscribers’ data bundle purchased from MNOs, depletes in a twinkle of an eye after just few usage, which the telecoms subscribers have described as huge rip-off in the system. Majority of the complaints have been on fast depletion of data bundle after each successful purchase of data bundle from their data service providers. One of the subscribers who identified himself as Mr. Yemi Adeniran, said he has multiple SIMs for data services, and that the rate at which the data depletes from his devices after visiting few websites was alarming. According to him, as soon as data is loaded into my device and I visit few websites, the data bundle depletes faster than expected, forcing me to buy another data when I have need to go online another day. Other complaints from subscribers, include fast data depletion while on social media. A subscriber said his monthly data bundle of 1.5 Gigabyte for N1,000, which is supposed to last for a period of one month, does not stay up to two weeks before he gets a notification that he has consumed up to 75 per cent of his data usage and that within few days he is cut off because of insufficient data. Some other complaints have to do with the inability of telecoms subscribers to access the internet when they actually have sufficient data bundle to do so, which they attributed to poor network service on data delivery. Some other customers blamed the situation on weak internet infrastructure across the country. According to them, they got disconnected intermittently from the internet, especially at a time when they required the service the most, a situation, which is said to be hurting businesses that relied heavily on internet. Some of the customers said they pay so much for monthly subscription, yet they do not get the full value for their monthly subscription. They have therefore called on NCC to come to their rescue, and to compel ISPs to compensate for any downtime suffered by their customers and to ensure that service providers deliver unhindered internet access to customers. Data Rollover In order to ameliorate some of the challenges in use of data, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), introduces Data Roll-Over policy, which allows telecoms subscribers the benefit of rolling over unused data which they could not exhaust at the expiry date of their data bundle plan. According to NCC, the Data Roll-Over policy became necessary, following complaints from millions of data subscribers that they were being short-changed by internet service providers by deleting every unused data at the end of the expiration date. NCC had therefore in the past, directed all telecoms operators to give a 14-day window to subscribers after the expiration of their monthly data subscriptions, to enable them exhaust their unused data bundle before rolling over. Before the directive there were myriads of complaints from telecoms subscribers that service providers do not give them enough time to exhaust their monthly data subscription plans before they are either disconnected

Telecoms mast

or forced to rollover the excess data bundle to the next month after purchasing another monthly data plan. To address this concern, the NCC issued a directive to the telecoms operators to implement 14-day window for data rollover. The 14-day window, after the expiration of the 30-day data plan, allowed subscribers to completely use their current monthly data subscription plans, before rolling over the unused data to the next month after purchasing a new monthly data plan. The decision of NCC to address the ubiquitous complaint by subscribers was in line with its resolve to always protect the interest of telecoms consumers. The resolve followed the regulatory body’s declaration of 2017 as the year of telecoms consumers. Most light users of data often have surplus of data at the end of the month, but cannot rollover the excess data to the next month. They had to forfeit their unused data of the previous month at the beginning of a new month, a situation they also described as data rip-off. MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, one of the MNOs, had said in a statement that the company had provision for data rollover as palliative to enable MTN customers have more access to the internet, through subscribers’ data bundle. According to the statement, to roll over unused data balance, customers must renew their bundle before expiration or before the end of grace period. Auto renewal only applies, if the customer selects the “Recurrent� option at the point of activation of any data bundle. Data Price Floor NCC had on November 1, 2016, written to mobile network operators (MNOs) on the determination of an interim price floor for data services after the stakeholders’ consultative meeting of October 19, 2016. According to NCC, the decision to have a price floor was primarily to promote a levelplaying field for all operators in the industry, encourage small operators and new entrants,

and not necessarily to hike price. The data price floor is a regulatory safeguard put in place by the telecommunications regulator to check anti-competitive practices by dominant operators. The price floor in 2014 was N3.11k/MB, but was removed in 2015, and further reintroduced at N0.53k/MB. But even at that, operators were charging different rates. While Etisalat (now 9mobile) offered N0.94k/MB, Airtel offered N0.52k/MB, MTN offered N0.45k/MB and Globacom offered N0.21k/MB. The smaller operators/ new entrants also charged at different rates. Smile Communications charged N0.84k/MB, Spectranet charged N0.58k/MB and NATCOMS, which operates as ntel, charged N0.72k/MB. Based on the differentials in data price floor among telecoms service providers, NCC decided to introduce a new price floor of N0.90k/ MB, but subscribers opposed it for the fear that it would increase cost of data services. The differentials in the cost of data by different operators, did not go down well with subscribers who protested the high cost of data as at 2016, and till date, subscribers still complain about high cost of data, hence their decision to commend the minister for the directive to reduce cost of data across all networks. Based on several agitations and opposition that greeted the directive to introduce price floor for data segment of the telecommunications sector, NCC, on November 30, 2016, suspended the plan, expected to take effect from December 1, 2016. According to NCC, the decision to suspend the directive was taken after due consultation with industry stakeholders and the general complaints by consumers across the country. The commission weighed all of this and consequently asked all operators to maintain the status quo until the conclusion of study to determine retail prices for broadband and data services in Nigeria, NCC said. But seven months after suspension of

the proposed data price floor by the NCC, industry stakeholders called on the telecoms industry regulator to revisit it for the benefit of operators and the subscribers. The stakeholders said the need to revisit the suspended price floor became necessary in order to maintain business continuity in the telecoms sector. The operators were of the view that upward review of data price floor would enhance quality service delivery. Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, said there was need for upward review of the data price floor in order to help telecoms operators remain in business and offer quality and reliable telecoms services to their subscribers. According to him, the suspended data price floor should be revisited and the price raised, because there is a limit to which operators can reduce cost of service delivery and still remain in business. He expressed fears that if the data price floor remain low, more operators may go out of business. He said registered telecoms service providers used to be 35 in number, but that the number drastically reduced to 14 players in 2017, with further reduction as of today, which he said could be a big threat to telecoms growth. Internet service providers (ISP), have called on the NCC to as a matter of urgency, come up with the new data floor price that will determine the charges of internet service delivery and also protect the smaller ISPs from undue market forces from the bigger ISPs that are mostly telecoms operators, licensed to provide both voice as data services. The situation, according to ISPs, is forcing traditional ISPs to go out of business, coupled with the harsh business environment in the country. The effect has cut down on the current 103 licensed ISPs, as only few of them were able to renew their licenses in 2018 and 2019, an indication that more ISPs may have gone under this year, the ISPs said.


21

THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER Ëž͚͸˜ͺ͸͚Î

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

3D\LQJ3ROLWLFDO2ÍżFH +ROGHUVWR3URPRWH3RYHUW\ Public office holders in Nigeria enjoy economic appurtenances unheard of in civilised political economies. These benefits apart from helping to drive economic and social inequalities also help to promote and sustain poverty. Nosa James-Igbinadolor reports

I

t is quite obvious, after all, that public office holders in Nigeria, especially those, who hold high offices of state, perceive the country’s treasury as one massive grilled Ostrich delicatessen at their culinary disposal that must be cut into palatable pieces to satiate their gluttonous appetite. It is no more mind numbing or conscience searing in most homes in Nigeria to hear and read of unspeakable heist of the country’s economic patrimony by office holders; it has become the accepted tale. In his analysis of the relationship between prebendal politics and federal governance in Nigeria, Mr. Rotimi Suberu opined that, “The fragmentation of Nigeria into a multiplicity of centrally funded, subnational state and local governments has vastly expanded and multiplied the access points and conduits for the individual and sectional appropriation of public power and resources. Indeed, the Nigerian federal system operates almost exclusively as a mechanism for the intergovernmental distribution and ethnopolitical appropriation of centrally collected oil revenues. In short, the system abets, and is enmeshed and subsumed in an overall context of, prebendal, neo-patrimonial politics.� Occupants of public offices, especially political offices at federal, state and local levels in Nigeria no doubt believe that their positions permit them unimpeded access to public resources which they use to not only satisfy their own material wants, but also service the wants of plebeian clients. According to Segun Ayobolu, this kind of criminal diversion of public resources for selfish private ends starves the polity of funds for development, increases poverty and inequality, and intensifies an unhealthy rivalry and competition for public office that triggers pervasive instability. Earlier in the year, the Court of Appeal in Abuja described as morally wrong the payment of severance allowances to elected or appointed public office holders, stating that such payments “cannot be justified in the context of our present social realities.� Justice Emmanuel Agim, who read the lead judgement of the court asserted that, “The political appointees and elected public office holders who do not work as long and as hard as career civil servants quickly get paid huge severance allowances upon leaving office, in addition to the huge wealth they acquired while holding such offices and without having been subjected to any contributory pension schemes.� The Justice further berated public office holders’ insatiable taste as “not morally right to pay an elected public officer or political appointee pension and gratuity or severance allowance for holding such an office for three to eight years as the case may be. It cannot be justified in the context of our present social realities; it amounts to gross social injustice� Among the most sordid of indefensible salaries and allowances is that paid to Nigerian federal legislators, who, we now know are entitled to compensation packages unseen in most places except in very few deified spaces in the highest levels of the more competitive private sector. An erstwhile Senator from Kaduna state, Senator Shehu Sani, had in what was probably a pang of conscience in 2018, broken from the code of ‘omerta’ prevalent amongst legislators when it comes to their horizonless pay and announced that the salary of senators is N750,000 per month plus allowances of N13.5 million per month; total package of N14.25 million per month. What this simply means is that the Nigerian legislators who exert very diminutive labour in a very uncompetitive, inefficient and ineffective legislature, take out some N7 billion every month out of the nation’s lean treasury as renumeration and compensation and a whopping N84 billion every year to preen and prune themselves in a country making little progress in eliminating poverty.

Minister of LaBour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige

The situation is no different at the sub-national legislative and government houses, where governors and state lawmakers allocate obscene compensations to themselves. The 2019 global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) that sheds light on disparities in how people experience poverty beyond income as the sole indicator for poverty, revealed that in Nigeria, even though the proportion of people, who are multidimensionally poor has remained constant at just over 50 per cent over the past decade, the actual number of people, who are multi-dimensionally poor increased from 86 million to 98 million over the same period. Also, important to note from the report is that when compared to the national poverty line, which measures income/consumption, a larger proportion of Nigerians (51per cent) are multidimensionally poor than those that are income poor (46per cent). The World Poverty Clock, a project of the World Data Lab which tracks income levels for individuals around the world, showed that more than 90 million Nigerians are now living in poverty. This is the second year in a row Nigeria has landed in the top spot of the World Poverty Clock. In May 2018 the country overtook India as the country with the most people living in poverty. World Poverty Clock defines poverty as living on less than $1.90 per day. Thus, while 90 million Nigerians live on less than $1.90 per day, 469 Nigerian legislators shockingly live on $1,357 per day! One of the major drivers of this scandalous poverty level is the misallocation of resources as exemplified by the outrageous remuneration of certain cadre of public officers. In a 2018 critique of Nigeria in its Commitment to Reducing Inequality index report, a global ranking of governments based on what they are doing to tackle the gap between rich and poor, Oxfam International noted that, “Nigeria has the unenviable distinction of being at the bottom of the Index for the second year running. Its social spending (on health, education and social protection) is shamefully low, which is reflected in very poor social outcomes for its

Chairman, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission,Engr.

citizens. One in 10 children in Nigeria does not reach their fifth birthday, and more than 10 million children do not go to school. Sixty percent of these are girls. The CRI Index showed that in the past year, Nigeria has seen an increase in the number of labour rights violations. The minimum wage has not increased since 2011. Social spending has stagnated.� The report further noted that, “Poverty and inequality in Nigeria are not due to a lack of resources, but to the ill-use, misallocation and misappropriation of such resources.At the root is a culture of corruption combined with a political elite out of touch with the daily struggles of average Nigerians.� Former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. John Campbell, in an analysis for the Council on Foreign Relations noted that, “A member of the National Assembly in Nigeria, one of the poorest countries in the world, can largely spend his allowances anyway he sees fit. Not only is parliamentary compensation in Nigeria massive compared to the overall wealth of the country, it is also largely unregulated and subject to abuse.� He contrasts this abuse of resources by Nigerian legislators to their US counterparts, when he asserts that, “The Nigerian politician lacks the resources available to a U.S. member of Congress, such as the fully-developed Congressional Research Service or the Library of Congress. That being said, the resources at the disposal of a U.S. member of Congress are closely governed by law and regulation.� He concluded by aptly postulating that “levels of parliamentary compensation in Nigeria are so high that there is an understanding that service in the National Assembly is an aspect of patronage/clientele relationships and should be rotated between ethnic group, local region, and religion. This is one reason why, following each national election, more than 60 percent of parliamentarians are new.� With the adoption of a new minimum wage of N30,000, public office holders will also expect a further augmentation of their already gargantuan pay, the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, which is

charged with determining the remuneration appropriate for political office holders now has to sensibly deal with expanding the pay of about 1,500 political office holders, which include the President and his deputy as well as ministers, special advisers, special assistants, legislators and parastatal heads in a way that would not exacerbate the already dire income and social inequality environment. For a country that spends more of her annual budget on recurrent expenditure and less on capital spending, reining in the public wage bill will certainly continue to defy government efforts. What this means is that as more government revenue is spent on taking care of the primitive needs of public officials, little will be left to spend on infrastructure which is more critical for economic growth and development. Projections in the 2020 budget, show that the government expects to spend as much as N3 trillion on personnel salaries and pensions, while capital spending is projected to be just 24per cent of the budget. There is an urgent need to prune the rising cost of governance in Nigeria. Former President Goodluck Jonathan in August, 2011, set up a Presidential Committee on Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government’s Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies. The committee, which was headed by former Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Stephen Orosanye, made some far-reaching recommendations that, if considered will go a long way in reducing the bourgeoning spending by government on non-growth enhancing activities. As the unbridled heist of the country’s treasury through unrestrained allocation of compensation packages as well as outright theft of public resources becomes a directive principle of state policy, it is no wonder that a country with so much potential remains mired in poverty. As Richard Joseph noted in his op-ed for the Brookings Institution in 2013: “The crippling consequences of dysfunctional governance are experienced in all areas of life in Nigeria. There is a fundamental contradiction between prebendalism and the provision of efficient public services.�


22

THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER Ëž͚͸˜ͺ͸͚Î

 Ëš 

Minister of Niger Delta Aairs, Mr. Godswill Akpabio

Buhari

Waiting for NDDC Audit Nineteen years after its creation, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has been beset by sundry ills that ravaged its precursor-Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC)- prompting an impending inquest into its activities, writes Ndubuisi Francis

A

dispassionate appraisal of the activities of NDDC, as an interventionist agency, in its almost two decadeslong existence, will return a verdict that is everything, but complimentary. Its signature tone has been largely a trajectory of badly-executed or uncompleted projects, sad tales of disappointment, under-performance, dashed hopes, shoddy project execution and sleaze. Judged by the quantum of resources at its disposal, not a few observer in the private and public space believe that the agency has been dismal in discharging its mandate. While fame and fortune have smiled on successive managers of the agency, millions of people in the region--the original beneficiaries for which its creation was deemed necessary, have been languishing in utter privation. The NDDC Mandate The NDDC was established in the year 2000 with the mission of facilitating the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful. It is saddled with the task of formulating policies and guidelines for the development of the Niger Delta area. It was designed, among others, to survey the Niger Delta in order to ascertain measures necessary to promote its physical and socio-economic development as well as prepare master plans and schemes designed to promote the physical development of the region and the estimation of the member-states of the commission.

It also has the mandate to implement all the measures approved for the development of the Niger Delta region by the federal government and the states of the commission However, after 19 years of existence, the overwhelming assessment of its scorecard has been everything, but superlative. To many, what is fair is now foul in the interventionist agency, igniting a call for an inquiry into how the successive managers of organisation had deployed the huge funds at its disposal over the years. Buhari’s Directive on Forensic Audit President Muhammadu Buhari had recently ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the commission from 2001 to 2019. The decision followed persistent criticisms of the operations of the NDDC.

Buhari gave the directive after receiving governors of the states that make up the NCDC, led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State. The president said what was presently on ground in the South-south region did not justify the huge resources that had been made available to the agency. The Controversies Buhari had also recently nominated a 16-member board of the commission, a move reported to have piqued the governors of the nine oil-producing states that constitute the NDDC catchment area, for lack of ‘consultation.’ While the controversy over whether or not consultation was carried out with the govenors before Buhari nominated the board members was yet to gather steam, the minister of Niger Delta Affairs constituted a threemember interim management team of

The impending audit is expected to provide the launchpad for a more purposeful NDDC. A holistic audit has the potential to unearth the pitfalls of the almost two decades-long agency

the commission. Few days later, the Senate confirmed the board members nominated by the president, with a charge by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, that it should take over the affairs of the agency immediately. Lawan, who stated this after the upper chamber confirmed the appointment of the nominees forwarded to the upper chamber, said the law setting up the NDDC does not recognise any interim arrangement once a board is in place. Akpabio had set up an interim management team to be in place for six months to oversee a forensic audit of the agency. But Lawan said the new board, members should take over immediately according to the law setting up the NDDC. He added that inaugurating the new board members would not affect the works of the forensic auditors, and asked the senate committee on the NDDC to be alive to its responsibility by carrying out its oversight functions. The Way Forward The impending audit is expected to provide the launchpad for a more purposeful NDDC. A holistic audit has the potential to unearth the pitfalls of the almost two decades-long agency. With the realisation that the NDDC has under-performed, and that the Niger Delta region is desperately in need of development, what is required now is a speedy move to cover lost grounds. It is not a time for controversies, muscle-flexing and bickering, but a time to change the sorry narrative in the Niger Delta.


23

THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER Ëž͚͸˜ͺ͸͚Î

 Ëš

MD, ETI, Mr. Ade Ayeyemi

MD, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan

Ecobank Fighting the Sustainability Battle It cannot be said that all is well with Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), going by the setback it recorded in its core banking operations, which whittled down its finances in the third quarter ended September 30, 2019. Obviously, shareholders of the bank are the biggest losers as earnings per share (EPS) dropped and share price staggers, reports Bamidele Famoofo

T

hough Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) grew its third quarter earnings by 7 percent with net profit up 4 percent, the marginal growth did not come as a result of its core banking services as net interest income dipped 9 percent while non-interest income only grew 12 percent. The bank fell short of key performing parameters for deposit money banks in the review period with deposits from customers dropping by 3 percent while loans and advances to customers declined by 6 percent. Total assets dropped by 0.6 percent while total equity remained unchanged in the review period. Also, earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 8 percent. Financial Highlights Gross earnings recorded a marginal growth of 7 per cent from about N573billion in third quarter ended September 30, 2018 to about N611billion in the same period in 2019. The ability of the bank to generate revenue improved by 1 per cent as revenue increased from N419billion in Q3, 2018 to N423billion as at September 30, 20019. Operating profit before impairment losses recorded a drop to the tune of 13 percent from N163billion in Q3, 2018 to N142billion in the same period in 2019. Before tax deduction, profit increased by 14 percent from N96billion as of September, 2018 to

N109billion as at September 30, 2019 while profit for the period (net profit) increased by 4 per cent at N78.8billion compared with N75.8billion recorded in the same period in 2018. The bank’s balance sheet recorded a dismal performance as assets portfolio sheds weight by 0.6 percent from N8.22trillion in September 2018 to N8.17trillion as at September 30, 2019. Total equity remained almost fixed at N660.22billion from N660.07billion in September, 2018. The bank could not grow its deposits portfolio in the review as year-on-year performance recorded a 3 per cent drop. As at September 30, 2019 deposits from customers dropped to N5.63trillion from N5.80trillion in the preceding third quarter. In the same vein, loans and advances portfolio declined 6 percent as the bank decided to cut down on advancing credit to its customers contrary to the directive of the central bank that deposit money banks should increase lending to small and medium enterprises and individuals to accelerate economic growth. The bank’s loans and advances to customers compared to its deposits base stood at about 56 per cent as at September 30, 2019. It dropped from N3.34trillion in September 2018 to N3.15trillion as of nine months ended September 30, 2019. The figure fell below the CBN’s mandatory cap of 65 percent. CBN’s Directive Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria

(CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said he wanted to ramp up the growth of the Nigerian economy. His strategy is to bring about that desired growth for the economy through deliberate investment in the real sector which is the growth engine of the economy. Hence, in a letter tagged: “Regulatory Measures to Improve Lending to the Real Sector of the Nigerian Economy,� he mandated all commercial banks operating in the country to make cash available for businesses to increase their capacities and to be able to create more jobs. Emefiele through the Director of Banking Supervision, Mr. Ahmad Abdullahi, instructed banks to make available as loan to the real sector, at least 60 per cent of the cash, which they collect from depositors effective from September 30, 2019. The requirement has since been reviewed to 65 per cent with a December 31 deadline. “All DMBs are hereby required to maintain a minimum Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) of 60 per cent by September 30, 2019. This ratio shall be subject to quarterly review,� the letter stated. For the purpose of implementation and to be able to track compliance, the CBN said it shall provide a framework for classification of enterprises/businesses that fall under these categories. The apex had warned that failure to meet the prescribed minimum LDR by the specified date shall result in a levy of additional cash reserve requirement equals to 50 per cent of the lending shortfall of the target

LDR. The CBN said it shall continue to review development in the market with a view to facilitating greater investment in the real sector of the Nigerian economy. Earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to owners of the parent during the period (expressed in kobo per share) stood at about 227.4kobo, dropping 8 percent from 246kobo in the same period the preceding year. A breakdown of the bank’s earnings portfolio showed that income from core banking operations in the review nine months period dropped by 9 per cent as net interest income stood at N196billion compared to N215billion recorded in the preceding nine months period. Interest expense, which increased by 27 per cent YoY made a mockery of the 5 per cent increase in interest income as at end of September 2019. Interest expense rose to N177billion in 2019 from N139billion in 2018 while interest income moved up from N354billion in 2018 to N373billion in 2019. Non-interest revenue on the other hand gained 12 per cent with fee and commission income and net trading income being biggest contributors. Meanwhile, fee and commission expenses which declined by 34 percent, from (N14.86billion) in September 2018 to (N9.8billion) as at September 30, 2019, boosted non-interest revenue which stood at N227billion in 2019 compared to N203billion amassed in September 2018. It’s obvious that the management of ETI must device means to reduce cost, if the bank must move up on the ladder of profitability and be able to compete effectively in its industry. Whilst operating income grew only by 1 per cent as of September 30, 2019, operating expenses moved up 10 per cent. The condensed unaudited consolidated statement of comprehensive income of the bank presented to the Nigerian Stock Exchange for the financial period ended September 30, 2019 showed that operating expenses grew by 1 percent to N423billion from N419billion in the same period in 2018 while operating expenses jumped 10 per cent from N256billion in September 2018 to about N281billion in the same period in 2019. Growth Strategy? Apparently to grow its deposits portfolio, Ecobank has made some moves in recent times. The Pan- African Bank with a presence in 33 African countries including Nigeria, entered into a partnership with Airtel Money, which will allow millions of Airtel Money and Ecobank customers across Africa gain access to mobile financial services using the Ecobank digital financial services ecosystem. Customers will be able to make mobile deposits and withdrawals, effect real time domestic and international money transfers, make in-store merchant payments, and access loans and savings products among others. The bank also said it had removed all charges from USSD transactions for its customers. The Ecobank group in August 2019 appointed a new consumer banking head as well as chief financial controller to drive deposit and manage its finance. Group Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Ade Ayeyemi, said, “We continued to focus on our strategic priorities. Whilst noting the revenue headwinds, most of our regions delivered solid profit growth, with total Group profit before tax of $303 million, demonstrating the resilience of our panAfrican business strategy. We continued with the modernisation of our core banking application having now covered about 80 per cent of total Group transactions and 22 out of our 34 countries within a period of less than a year, with full completion by mid-November 2019.’’ ‘’Our unwavering commitment to ensuring best-in-class digital product offerings remain key. Our Ecobank Pay Zones are increasing across our network, providing SMEs and households with easy and secure digital payment solutions. Additionally, we are growing our agency banking network making banking services available to more previously un-banked Africans. We recognise the imperative of ensuring excellent customer experience across all our customer touch points and we are assiduously committed to achieving this. We are confident that all the actions we are taking will deliver longer-term value to all of our stakeholders,� he added.


24

THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER Ëž͚͸˜ͺ͸͚Î

   ALIYU JAURO

Nigeria Must Begin to Key into the Circular Economy Prof. Aliyu Jauro is a professor of Industrial Chemistry and sits atop the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) as director-general/CEO. NESREA is the agency of government responsible for the protection and development of the nation’s environment, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development of Nigeria’s natural resources. Jauro is keen on Nigeria developing a circular economy that works for its citizens. He speaks with Nosa James-Igbinadolor

+

ow will you describe the state of the Nigerian environment with respect to the work of NESREA?

Well, I wouldn’t say our environment is doing great at all, neither will I say the outlook of the environment is very healthy. The reality is that we have a whole lot of environmental challenges that we need to solve and indeed we are solving them issues upon issues. As you know, NESREA has the mandate to ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations, guidelines and policies. We have a lot of things to do and we are doing them. The first thing we are doing is to sensitise Nigerians about their duty and responsibility to the environment and we all have a duty to not only protect our environment, but to also ensure the preservation of a clean environment for the generations after us. In addition, we are engaging in enforcement of environmental regulations and standards and this entails forcing people to comply. So, there are a lot of things we are doing.

Talking about sensitisation, NESREA has a Green Corps Initiative that seeks to promote environmental activism. How well is that initiative doing and how well are Nigerians keying into that initiative? The Green Corps Initiative is a voluntary organisation under NESREA that seeks to promote environmental awareness. They do this by sensitising Nigerians. We have a lot of members all over the country. We have a lot of youth corps members who are part of this initiative. We are recording a lot of successes as Nigerians are keying into the initiative. A lot is being achieved especially with respect to waste control. We face herculean challenges when it comes to waste control and management in the country and as you know, when waste is improperly managed and controlled, and dumped indiscriminately, this can lead to outbreak of diseases such as malaria, typhoid. Yes, we do have serious problem of littering too as well as indiscriminate acts of deforestation where trees and other flora are deliberately and extensively cut down. This has culminated in deforestation especially in the northern part of the country. So, this Green Corps Initiative aims to promote environmental awareness, including afforestation and I commend Nigerians to take advantage of it and support the environment. One of the criticisms of NESREA and it is a criticism that has been out there way before NESREA came into being, right from the days of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, FEPA,

Jauro


THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER Ëž͚͸˜ͺ͸͚Î

25

   Soon, All Vehicles Must Pass Emission Test before Plying Nigerian Roads is that NESREA tends to focus on the macro issues; oil spills, deforestation and such and neglect weightier issues such as the everyday carbon emissions from cars and trucks that shouldn’t be on the roads. The carbon emissions from these vehicles pose critical health hazards to Nigerians, who ply the roads every day. NESREA seems lethargic in this regard. What’s your take? No, we aren’t lethargic at all. NESREA is very keen to ensure that Nigerians live in a clean air environment and there are lots of regulations that seek to ensure that Nigerians have clean air to breath. We are more than keen on anything that has to do with pollution. That is why even open burning, including open burning of waste is prohibited, not just emission from vehicles. One of our major projects is the National Vehicular Emission Programme. We also have the National Generator Emission Control Programme. These two programmes are tailored to checking the challenge of inordinate emission from both stationary and mobile sources; that is motor vehicles and generators. So, we have a limit as to how much emission these two sources are allowed to release. So very soon, we will launch these two programmes and we will go out and monitor cars and issue licenses. All vehicles will have to undergo this test before they will be allowed to ply our roads so that they do not pollute our roads.

to drive this project.

Nigeria’s wildlife is constantly being degraded. From the North to the South, the country’s ora and fauna have been subjected and are still being subjected to unbridled degradation from within and without. One of the responsibilities of NESREA is the protection of the nation’s wildlife environment. Has your organisation taken its eyes off the ball here? NESREA is highly involved in the protection of the nation’s wildlife environment because Nigeria is a signatory to the treaty on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES. We just came back from the convention of parties, which was held in Switzerland a few weeks ago. CITES is a very vital coalition where all signatories are expected to abide by the regulations of the agreement, and the essence is to protect endangered plants and animals. We have a responsibility as an organisation to protect wildlife. Presently, there are some animals like the pangolin, who are killed for their scales because people believe they have medicinal value. Also, the elephants are being hunted and killed because of their ivories. Presently, we have a lot these ivories in our store and very soon we are going to destroy them. These ivories are very expensive, but we are going to destroy them to serve as a deterrent. We have problems with prosecution because what the illegal hunters do is to abandon their catch when they come under attacks from us. We found out that most of the people involved in the illegal hunting of these wildlife animals are Chinese and we are engaging with the Chinese government to help us check the menace of the degradation and smuggling of these endangered species

Is there a timeline to this in terms of enforcement? In terms of enforcement, we are just finishing the technicalities involved. You know before such a big project is operationalised, we have to sensitise the public step by step, undertake stakeholder consultations and we have signed the MoU with our technical partners and will begin sensitisation very soon. There will be an initial pilot project to test the effectiveness and efficiency of this programme. Undertaking this programme will allow us key into the United Nations Environmental Programme on carbon credits. So, we are working on developing a database of what we emit so that we can use that, first of all we have to have a baseline so that we can compare on how well we have achieved on cutting down emissions, which will be a source of carbon credits to Nigeria. Let’s talk about the Extended Producer Responsibility programme, which is a major programme of NESREA aimed at promoting recycling and expanding effective waste management. How well has the EPR done with respect to its major objectives? Yes, the Extended Producer Responsibility programme is a framework of action, where all manufacturers and importers of all items are saddled with the responsibility of taking care of whatever is produced or imported throughout the lifecycle of that material whether it is an equipment or whatever product. So right from manufacturing and throughout its lifecycle to its end, the manufacturer is responsible for ensuring the proper management of the product and its efficient disposal so that it does not constitute a threat to the environment. The EPR programme also takes care of indiscriminate dumping as well as the packaging of products. As you know that packaging materials that come with a lot of these items constitute a large part of industrial waste and when these products are removed from their packaging, they are dumped indiscriminately, so the manufacturer is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring proper waste management and this will help us all to key into the circular economy as most of these items can be recycled. Once they are recycled, the economic value can be tapped instead of just dumping and causing a lot of havoc. These will allow most of our processes to be sustainable because if you talk of items like plastics, the source of their raw materials is from petroleum and these are non-replenishable and with time, even

Jauro

oil will finish and if we do not encourage a circular economy now, we could reach a point when we will not have raw materials to produce these products. The ultimate goal of the EPR programme is to achieve a circular economy and the circular economy model is ultimately a win-win for Nigeria and we need to key into it. We are also concerned at the rate at which these pollutants enter the environment. Daily, about 300 million tonnes of these plastics enter the environment. From 1950 to date, about 8 billion metric tonnes of these plastics have been discharged into the environment, because when they are used, they are thrown away and that is one of the major problems we have today in our oceans and they are a threat to our marine life. That is why we developed the EPR programme. Recently, we re-launched the EPR programme for the electronics industry with the assistance of the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, through their Global Environmental Facility, GER, where we accessed a grant of about two million dollars, which we are using to pilot the project in Lagos. So, we are going to work with the Producer Responsibility Organisation, PRO, where we will work with them to create formal recyclers and formal collectors of these waste. It’s a two

year project and hopefully after two years, we will replicate it across Nigeria. At the same, time, we are working the Food and Beverage Alliance to effectively manage waste. The Food and Beverage industry is one of the major sectors that produce a lot of waste. You buy water, and water now is either plastic or beverage and soft drinks too, so, they have come together to form an alliance and very soon we will launch their EPR programme.

Tell us more about this Food and Beverage Alliance The Food and Beverage Alliance is an alliance formed by players in the food and beverage industry like Coca Cola, Nigerian Breweries, etc. They came together and decided to form this alliance. The essence of forming this alliance is to have a common Producer Responsibility Organisation, because assuming now you are dealing with only Coca Cola, Coca Cola produces their own drinks and brand of bottled water. It will be very difficult and economically inefficient for them to say we are going to only go out and sort out our waste. So, it is cheaper and easier for the entire food and beverage industry as well as more efficient to come together and work together and appoint one manager

The federal government is keen on improving the ease of doing business in the country. NESREA is responsible for issuing environmental permits, with respect to easy accessibility of environmental permits, and there had been lots of complaints in the past. What are you doing to simplify the process? Before I assumed duty as director-general, I heard and indeed there were a lot of complaints about the difficulty in accessing environmental permits. Indeed, when I assumed office, I met huge backlogs of permits’ requests that hadn’t been dealt with. What I did was to request all departments to forward to me the lists of all permit applications pending, likewise, we sent out circulars to all state offices demanding a list of all permits that were issued and the reasons behind the non-issuance. So, we sat down and analysed and found out that some of the permits weren’t issued as a result of the fault of the facilities as many did not submit the full applications and necessary documents were not attached for the permit to be processed. In addition, some did not pay the stipulated fees. So, I ordered that all permit applicants should be notified to submit full applications and also sent our circulars that henceforth all application with missing documents should be rejected at the point of submission. So presently, under my leadership, we have issued a lot of permits and I have instructed that moving forward, any application for permit must be dispensed with from our end and issued out within two weeks. What we are trying to do now is to automate the entire application process and make it seamless, so that from the beginning to the end, the entire application process is done online. With this system being in place, it is possible to get a permit issued within three to five days of receiving the application. This, I am confident will go a long way in eliminating some of the delays encountered in the application process and will no doubt help to improve the ease of doing business which, is one of the cardinal objectives of this administration.


26

THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER Ëž͚͸˜˜ͺ͸͚Î

 The Gold Mine Converted To Theme Park

ĂŽĂ“ĂžĂ?ĂŽĂŒĂŁDemola Ojo Ă—Ă‹Ă“Ă–demola.ojo@thisdaylive.com

One of the first gold mines in Johannesburg is now home to various forms of entertainment including thrilling rides that keep visitors staying in line and coming back for more, writes Demola Ojo...

Y

ou would be forgiven for wondering why a high-speed verticaldrop rollercoaster known as the Tower of Terror has such a long queue. With a fear factor rated 10 out of 10, it is somewhat surprising that the hair-raising ride with a 50 metre, 90 degree drop into an open mine shaft at speeds of 100 kilometres per hour, has a waiting time of close to an hour. That’s how long it took the members of the group I was a part of – the brave ones who dared – to make it into the car that seats eight. The Tower of Terror is one of the rides that attract adrenaline junkies to the Gold Reef City theme park. It has the distinction of being the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Africa and the highest g-force of any rollercoaster in the world at 6.3 gs. The long wait comes in handy for those who – after seeing what those ahead of them go through, hearing their screams of terror and squeals of delight – decide they want to turn back. The sign which boldly states “It’s too late to scream for your mama!� is not enough deterrent for those who decide they don’t have the stomach for rushing headlong into a former mine shaft. But just like a hundred years before, when fortune hunters swarmed this site in search of gold, thrill seekers are doing the same now, chasing that rush which is better experienced than described. Gold Rush A city founded in 1886 after the discovery of the world’s largest gold deposits, Johannesburg - also known as the City of Gold – is the world’s largest city not built on a coastline or a major water body. Drawn by dreams of great riches, fortune seekers flooded in from far and wide within South Africa and beyond – and swiftly populated the plains in what was known as the Gold Rush. Mines were dug, gold was discovered and a burgeoning industry was born. At a point, the Witwatersrand region in Johannesburg produced forty per cent of the planet’s gold. Mining has been the foundation of the Witwatersrand economy, but its importance is gradually declining due to dwindling reserves. Service and manufacturing industries have become more important to the city’s economy. Tourism is also gaining more significance due to the efforts of the Gauteng Tourism Authority and South Africa Tourism. Johannesburg has traditionally been more of a business destination rather than one for leisure, but the city is a transit point for connecting flights to Cape Town, Durban, the Kruger National Park and other hotspots. Consequently, most international visitors to South Africa pass through Johannesburg at least once, which has led to the development of several attractions for tourists. Prominent among these attractions is Gold Reef City, built on the site of one of South Africa’s first gold mines which closed in 1971. Themed around the 1886 gold rush, Gold Reef City is an entertainment complex which goes beyond the theme park and includes a casino, hotels and an entertainment centre. There is a museum dedicated to gold

mining where - among other things – you can see how real gold is poured into barrels. The casino is open 24 hours a day and has 1700 slot machines and 50 gaming tables, a spacious lounge area and the exclusive Salon PrivÊ gaming lounge reserved for high rollers. Among the variety of entertainment facilities are restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as the 1100-seat Lyric Theatre, which is frequently used for major concerts and shows. There is also a six-screen cinema, which has been stylishly redesigned to emulate an old-fashioned picture house. To ensure this is a one-stop shop for family entertainment, there are two hotels located within Gold Reef City, the Southern Sun Gold Reef City and the Gold Reef City Theme Park Hotel. Adrenaline Rush However the theme park is the biggest attraction and what Gold Reef City is famous for. It houses some of the biggest and scariest roller coasters in Africa besides the earlier mentioned Tower of Terror. For this writer, the Anaconda, an inverted corkscrew rollercoaster with a fear factor of nine out of 10, was just as exciting and has the ability to spike one’s adrenaline even more. Unlike the Tower of Terror, a short vertical drop which is over in a few seconds, the Anaconda has many twists and turns with a few loops, and lasts for close to a minute. A single train with 10 cars, each seating two riders for a total of 20 riders, the Anaconda also has a long waiting time. The screams are also louder, magnified by the extra number of people. The length of the train means it can take 600 riders per hour. A notch below the Anaconda is the Golden Loop, with a fear factor of eight. The Golden Loop is a linear ride that rockets to heights of close to 40 meters at astounding speeds; it goes from 0 – 85 kilometres an hour in just three seconds and takes you through a thrilling 360-degree horizontal loop. These three rides were the ones the group of tour operators and their clients from Nigeria participated in (remember, only the brave) and considering the wait time, there wasn’t much time to do more. But there are about 30 rides at the park, many of them leisurely, for those who don’t yearn for heart-stopping moments. From the Jozi Express, which is designed to move you across tree tops, mine dumps and a breath-taking view of Johannesburg’s CBD, to the Raging River Rapids, which is a memorable trip through old caves and waterfalls and is recommended for families, there is something for everyone. Miner’s Revenge, Runaway Train and UFO are sure to give a rush (but not like the Tower or Anaconda, sorry) while the Giant Wheel gives magnificent views of Johannesburg. Gold Reef City’s theme park is a popular place for a family day out and there are rides for all ages, including kids, with the Golden Wave allowing them have their first taste of what it feels like to be a pilot. With the thousands that throng here on the days it is open (the theme park is closed Mondays and Tuesdays), and the attendant revenue it generates, it’s safe to say that Gold Reef City is back to being a gold mine.

Tower of Terror

A section of the Gold Reef City theme park

Golden Loop


SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 • T H I S D AY

27


28

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 •T H I S D AY


SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 • T H I S D AY

29


30

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 •T H I S D AY


A

WEEKLY PULL-OUT

10.11.2019

EGO BOYO WE CAN’T EXIST ON LAUGHTER ALONE ASSISTANT EDITOR OLUFUNKE OLAODE/funkola2000@gmail.com


32

T H I S DAY, T H E S U N DAY N E W S PA P E R ˞10,Ͱ͎ͯ͡

COVER

EGO BOYO

Artists Have A Responsibility to Reect the Times Ego Boyo has come a long way from playing a starring role in the early nineties soap opera, Checkmate, to producing thought-provoking and critically acclaimed films. Her latest production - The Ghost and the House of Truth - which is set to hit cinemas this month, goes beyond entertainment and strives to stir up issues fundamental to a progressive society, writes Demola Ojo


57

NOVEMBER 10, 2019˾T H I S DAY, T H E S U N DAY N E W S PA P E R

COVER

Making Films with a Purpose

M

issing children. Databases and alert systems. Policing. These are not the themes that run through a typical Nigerian movie but then, Ego Boyo is not your typical producer. Coming off the success of her awardwinning experimental film, a silent movie titled A Hotel Called Memory, Boyo has teamed up with the same director, Akin Omotoso, to serve up a potential blockbuster that is anything but run-ofthe-mill. A highly anticipated drama set in Lagos, The Ghost and the House of Truth had its world premiere in New York as part of the Urban World Film Festival in September, and won the award for Best Narrative Feature (World Cinema). Set to premiere in Lagos this month as the closing film of the 9th edition of the prestigious Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), The Ghost and the House of Truth tells a story of the streets and the working class. “The film is basically about a young woman who is a single mother and works as a councillor reconciling victims of crimes and the perpetrators of those crimes,” Boyo reveals during an interview in Ikoyi, Lagos. “Her job is all about redemption, hope and forgiveness. Then her only child doesn’t come back from school. She’s put on that path of every parent’s nightmare: A lost child.” The mother goes to the police and a dedicated police woman takes on the case personally. “Obviously I don’t want to give too much away,” Boyo says as she highlights the paucity of statistics when it comes to missing children. “In this country, there are not enough statistics about exactly how many children are missing. I tried to read up on so many, but there were varying statistics. The major statistic that seemed more credible was that of the girls in the Northeast - the Chibok girls - and a lot of the children displaced by war. We sort of have a rough idea of the figures. “But when you go to other parts of Nigeria, where are those figures? Who is keeping track of who is missing?” These were questions she asked and didn’t get answers to. “...And then I started looking online and found that there have been calls for government to set up a missing persons database. We don’t have that yet. “When a child goes missing, there’s no machinery, there’s no checklist. If there’s a machinery in place, we need to know about it. Let the public know that this is what we need to do, and this is how the police and other agencies tackle these issues,” Boyo says. The Ghost and the House of Truth solidifies Boyo and Omotoso’s intent on making films with a purpose and a message, films which delve into the socio-cultural issues plaguing society and create opportunities for continued dialogue and reform. Two years ago, after the release of A Hotel Called Memory which was shot in Lagos, Zanzibar and Cape Town, Boyo and Omotoso decided their next project will be shot in Lagos for both cost and logistical reasons. The director had a script written by two South Africans which he brought to Boyo. “We saw that the story could be replicated anywhere. It’s a story that is universal. I read it and was like ‘Oh whao!’ “When my career started – I’ve been doing this for over 20 years – my first productions were mainly romantic dramas; soft, easy... That’s where I was at the time. ”I think we as artists, to quote Nina Simone, we have a responsibility to reflect the times.” Commenting further on her new direction, she says, “I know it’s entertainment but sometimes it’s good for you to shine a lens on these serious

A scene from The Ghost and the House of Truth

issues, not only to provoke conversion but hopefully, to get people thinking and change the status quo.” With that in mind, she started looking for weightier subjects that she felt would make a difference, challenge people , make them converse and hopefully get the authorities interested in finding different ways in handling a problem that already exists. “I felt I had to reflect what was real. I could keep doing those sort of dramas, which is what I started my career doing. But as you grow up, your interests change and you lean towards something.” There’s a pattern running through her last movie to the current one. They are works of art to be appreciated by aficionados. But how much acceptance does she envisage from the general public? “This film is for everybody,” she replies. “It’s for the masses. In it, we speak Yoruba, Pidgin English, English. Just like you do in Lagos. “The only thing is that we’re not laughing. It’s a serious subject. And it’s something I want us to pay attention to. Because it happens everyday. “I want everybody to see it. To me, it’s not niche. It’s reflective of our times and the society. You can relate. I can relate. I know people whose children were abducted, I know people whose children have gone missing,” she explains. Boyo believes that apart from entertainment, film is an opportunity to create awareness. “If it’s only for entertainment, it’s okay but I like to do films like this that do more.”

Steeped In the Art

Ego Boyo grew up in Lagos but attended the University of Benin where she studied Theatre Arts, with a focus on film and TV production. “I’ve always loved film since I was young. My parents used to watch a lot of black and white Hollywood productions, so for me it was a natural progression that I went into film.” She did a little bit of acting in school but not a lot, so some of her classmates were surprised that she ended up an actress. The year she finished school, her father passed away. “A year before then I met a young lady who had come to interview him. He was a Supreme Court judge. She was a daughter of a friend of

his and he introduced us. “I was home getting ready for my youth service, figuring out what to do next, then I got a call. She was the one. She said she a show coming up on television and I should audition for it.” The lady in question – Amaka Igwe - had written a series, Checkmate, to be aired on the Nigerian Television Authority. “Soon after, they called to offer me the part of Ann Haatrope which was the main character.” The role was a game changer, way ahead of its time, a boon for women empowerment long before it became a thing. “I keep meeting people that say they were inspired by the Checkmate story. A lot of young women tell me that seeing the character of Ann Haatrope every week gave them the confidence to be part of corporate Nigeria. Amaka’s story was that powerful,” she recalls. Checkmate ran for five years on NTA and was also aired in England. Initially, Boyo had to act while also a youth corper working with Continental Merchant Bank. “I had to tell my boss that I would be on TV. But they were so good. He told me that as long as the part is a respectable one, no problem.” She juggled both jobs, working 8 am to 6pm at the bank, then go on set till the next morning, before the bank job again. “When you’re young, you can do that,” she laughs. “You sleep on set. It was a short period, so you had to get all your episodes in.” After Checkmate, Ama ka I gw e had also writ t en a st ory w h i c h sh e want ed Boy o t o pla y t h e l ea d ro l e. It was t he movie, Vi ol a t ed . “I want ed t o pro d uc e mo re t han I wanted to act,” says Boyo. She went in search of other actors to play the role but it was meant to be as she ended up producing and acting. That’s how her career as a producer started.

Life as a Producer

Ego Boyo set up her production company, Temple Productions, in 1996. “I started producing because I wanted to make films in a certain way. I understood how films should be made and I wanted to be in charge of the process because I saw that there were a lot of things I could

bring to the table with my own skills.” She insists she wouldn’t dumb down: “I don’t have the ability to switch off my brain because we want to entertain. I wanted to be able to have some level of control over the material and that’s why I got into producing.” With a few decades under her belt, she’s in a position to tell where improvements have been made in the Nigerian movie industry. There has been a lot of progress, especially in the technical quality of films. “...But I notice that we seem to believe that only a particular kind of film can succeed at the cinema and that is so wrong. “Film is a medium of so many different genres. You can do horror, sci-fi, drama, thriller. The key thing is having a fantastic story and putting in the extras; the technical quality, so that people go in there and can see, hear, enjoy and follow a story that progresses. Those for me are the key things. “There’s an audience for different kinds of film and it’s important to offer that audience all that is available. We can’t keep feeding them the same thing. “Not to say that the comedies are not good. Some of them are shot well, but the thing is, we can’t exist on just laughter. We can’t. We have to deal with weightier subjects. “I don’t mean my film necessarily. There was a political film the other day. Yes! There was one that had a psychological twist. Yes, we must. Drama about a family, drama about crime... these are things that happen, these are things that exist. We’re not just walking around laughing. Laughter is important, laughter they say is the best medicine but in terms of sticking to only one genre in cinema, laughter cannot be it.” Boyo is confident that The Ghost and the House of Truth will make an impact beyond the shores of Nigeria because it’s a story that resonates anywhere and was only adapted to the unique challenges in Nigeria. She wanted a film that could straddle both worlds; that could be critically acclaimed - win awards possibly, but also something that everyone can watch. A movie that will resonate with the average Nigerian but done to the highest technical standards. With The Ghost and the House of Truth, she believes she has it.


58

T H I S DAY, T H E S U N DAY N E W S PA P E R Ëž10, 2019

GLITZ FOCUS

Lemon and Feathers Advocates Care for Senior Citizens Funke Olaode writes that Lemon and Feathers, a social enterprise established in 2016 to promote the care of the Nigerian ageing population, recently held its inaugural conference themed, ‘Aging in the Developing World, the Nigerian Story’, with focus on dementia in ageing

.....

I

n 2015, a group of well-meaning Nigerians with diverse backgrounds and first-hand experience in caring for their elderly both informally and formally in a resource-limited environment as ours, got together to chart a course on how to create value in assisting themselves and other informal caregivers also caring for their own elderly folks. They see the need to be a voice for the elderly, in order to bring to light their plight to every necessary stakeholder, and also help to enlighten them on how to access various much-needed information, assistive products and essential services. Ageing, which simply means to grow older naturally, may come with serious physical, psychological and social challenges. Hence, public enlightenment of the ageing population in preparation for old age and more fulfilling life in their twilight years is of utmost importance. One very common factor associated with aging remains dementia. Dementia and especially Alzheimer’s disease is fast becoming an everyday conversation. Hardly is any family or extended family not affected by at least one person suffering (or having suffered) from dementia, especially AD. Unfortunately our improving life expectancy has now exposed us to the increased burden of dementia. Advocacy groups and NGOs are desperately needed to drive the quest for early diagnosis, treatment, family and social support, public education and also research in the field of dementia and AD. Hence, the conference. The epoch event, no doubt brought confidence, relief and enlightenment to many older persons who are suffering from progressive decline in cognitive functions due to diseases or damage in the brain beyond what is expected from normal ageing. In his address, the guest speaker, Dr. Seyi Roberts defined aging as the amount or duration of time during which a person or animal or plant has lived or the amount of time during which a thing has existed. He said, “Age is therefore all about time, and specifically, elapsed time, everybody and

everything ages, time waits for no one. “Human beings have always had a love and hate relationship with age. When we are young, we want to age quickly and become adults so we can indulge in adult activities and privileges. “But when we hit middle age, we now want to slow down or halt the ageing process so we can remain young and youthful indefinitely. The current reality is that ageing is still an inevitable accompaniment of life itself. “We are all going to age and die at some time, hence the need to prepare for ageing and the challenges that may come with it. The length of life itself is one of the organism’s most integral genetically programmed characteristics. “For example, the rat survives for 2 years, the Rhesus monkey for 20-25 years, the African elephant for 70-75 years, humans for 80-85 years, and the Galapagos tortoise for over 100 years. The shortest lifespan on earth is that of the ‘Mayfly’ which is, 24 hours.� Dr. Roberts defined dementia as a broad category of brain diseases that causes long-term loss of the ability to think and reason clearly, which is severe enough to affect a person’s daily functioning. He noted that Alzheimer’s disease is the commonest cause of dementia, responsible for 75 percent of all cases of all dementias. Roberts explained further, “Prevalence of dementia worldwide in person 65 years of age and older is six to 10 percent, with AD accounting for 75 percent of cases. Between 60 to 69 years of age, the prevalence of AD is less than one percent. In 75 years olds, it’s five to 10 percent, but in persons of ages 90 to 95 years old, it’s about 40 to 50 percent. “The world prevalence of AD is currently put at about 30 million, projected to hit 106 million by 2050. Note that there is no age at which AD’s prevalence is 100%, therefore it is not an inevitable accompaniment of old age. “In Nigeria, the prevalence reported in the general population is somewhat lower than the world prevalence, but this may just reflect our lower life expectancy in the third world. AD affects men and women equally, but increased life expectancy in women may skew the prevalence of them. “AD and other dementias are more common

in African Americans than whites in the USA (ratio 2:1), but incidence is similar all over the world without a racial bias.� He added that AD is characterized by, insidiously progressive memory loss, behavioral changes, language disorders, (difficulty in naming people and objects), impairment of visuospatial skills, impairment of executive functions, and/or inability to calculate could also be profound. On treatment, Roberts noted that there is neither cure nor effective treatment for AD, but only symptomatic treatments are available. All drugs approved and available for the treatment of AD only control some of the symptoms, and bring about only a slight improvement in memory and cognitive function in a small proportion of patients. He also decried as unfortunate that there are only a few dedicated facilities for the care of the elderly and those suffering from dementia (aka Old people’s homes) in this Nigeria. To further compound the challenge of old age in Nigeria, most HMOs and health insurance companies often do not accept persons beyond a certain age for health insurance. He, however, advocated prevention through exercise, and healthy living, rather than cure. Roberts said, “There is no proven modality for preventing AD. However epidemiologic evidence suggests that a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of AD. “Physical activity, exercise, and cardiorespiratory fitness may be protective. The Mediterranean diet may also be protective; light to moderate alcohol drinking may reduce the risk of AD. “A healthy sleep pattern has recently been shown to reduce AD risk. It has also been suggested that engaging in regular intellectual and brain-tasking activities like reading and solving puzzles may help to reduce the risk of developing AD.�

He pointed out that the ultimate solution to the care of the aged and those suffering from dementia in our country is universal health coverage, without discrimination on account of age. He recommended that a federal government scheme similar to the medicare programme in the US for senior citizens (over 65 years) should be considered. “Lawmakers in the 9th National Assembly will eventually live up to their responsibility and ensure the pending bill for mandatory UHC is assented to by the President, failing which they should proceed to override a presidential veto and pass the law for the benefit of all Nigerians, young and old,� said Roberts. In a separate statement from Lemon and Feathers, the organization revealed that there are plans underway for the construction of an affordable and accessible care home for the senior citizens. The statement said, “We are poised at Lemon and Feathers to promote and offer diverse support services to seniors in Nigeria which will also include outsourcing, concierge services, health, and social escort services, professional care services, logistics, home retrofits and adaptations along with lifestyleenhancing products and services, training, events, etc. We also plan to adopt and support indigent community facilities. “Our plans are already underway for the design and construction of the first of its kind Proposed Care Home Facility, affordable and accessible to the average Nigerian. “It is set out to provide care at various levels for daycare, respite, and short term and long term care. Other facilities include a recreation centre for social networks and a resource centre with diverse lifestyle resources, products, and services meant to assist the ageing population and their caregivers with information on quality living and a more adaptable lifestyle as required. “Ageing, which simply means to grow older naturally, may come with serious physical, psychological and social challenges. Hence, public enlightenment of the ageing population in preparation for old age and more fulfilling life in their twilight years is of utmost importance to our organization.�


NOVEMBER 10 , 2019 ˾T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R

High Life Senator Gbenga Ashafa Repositions GATE Foundation

59 with KAYODE ALFRED 08116759807, E-mail: kayflex2@yahoo.com

...Amazing lifestyles of Nigeria’s rich and famous

Inspiring Mileage of Samad Rabiu....As BUA’s $450m Cement Plant to be Inaugurated In 2020

A

man of words and not of deeds, is like a garden full of weeds,” goes one of the best moralistic rhymes in any language. Certainly, to put one’s mouth in a matter is the easiest thing in the world. To put one’s time and money where the mouth has already gone is an entirely different proposition. Yet, in this world where those in high positions disperse words with all the grace of and commitment of court jesters, some still regard their word as their bond. Old fashioned that sentiment might be, but it is also timeless. Step forward Gbenga Bareehu Ashafa, the former Senator representing Lagos East at the national assembly. The end of a man’s political career is often regarded as the end of the man. But for Senator Ashafa, it is a new beginning. For the people of his senatorial district, it might be even better. Far from hanging up his boots and excusing himself to some remote but luxurious corner of the world to feast on the fat dividends of prolonged service, Senator Ashafa has instead moved closer to his constituency. The Gbenga Ashafa Trust Endowment (G.A.T.E) is a Trust Fund set up by the Senator and it provides funds for projects covering ICT Training, Education, HealthCare, Micro-Finance, as well as Agricultural Development. Only recently, an ICT center/Town hall in Oreyo Grammar School, Ikorodu, which he sponsored as a constituency project, was commissioned for the benefit of his constituents. If these projects touched and continue to touch thousands of constituents, fears were amplified that they would die a slow, sad and painful death along with the dying of Ashafa’s ambitions of returning to the Senate for a third time. As his Ashafa Action Group vehemently protested his alleged exclusion by the APC powers that be, few would have blamed the soft spoken man of the people for momentarily taking his eyes off the larger picture. As it turned out, Ashafa is like a man reborn. Fresh from helping the Lagos APC coast to victory at the polls, he has settled down to the laudable task of giving his constituency the best he has to offer. Projects sponsored by the amiable and popular dude and his foundations have been springing up left and right in Lagos East.

Ashafa

Rabiu

What those who rush after oil fail to realise is that there are other kinds of gold apart from black gold. Wars have been fought over the rights to control oil wells and supply routes. But the best type of resource is the one that doesn’t require a national army — and sometimes an international one — to maintain.

Billionaire businessman Abdulsamad Rabiu learned this lesson from an early business age and he has gone from strength to strength, putting it in practice, creating a multi-billion dollar empire out of sand. For what is cement but solidified sand? Even when his fortunes took a nosedive

Siju Iluyomade Becomes the Most Powerful Woman in the Redeemed Christian Church of God How is power measured? To the man of God, it is through a booming voice commanding the attention of thousands from the pulpit. To the politician, it is the ability to make laws, or abuse them without repercussions. To the celebrity, it is the millions of likes on Instagram and more millions in cold hard dollars from endorsements. By those measures, Siju Iluyomade does not immediately bubble to the surface of conversations about power. However, those who measure power LQ WHUPV RI LQÁXHQFH VKRXOG KDYH D rethink after witnessing her scintillating performance at the annual Arise Women’s Conference. As the convener of the yearly event for women, the spotlight was on her from the beginning. By the end, it could have stayed on her longer and nobody would have batted an eyelid. Arguably the living, walking apex of fashion in the Nigerian Christian community, Pastor Siju, the wife of the charismatic Senior Pastor of RCCG City of David Parish, Pastor David Iluyomade, showed everyone that there is more to her than dressing well. She spoke with such mesmerizing grace and charming sagacity that the over 4000 women at the event were WUDQVÀ[HGZLWKZRQGHU7KH\FRXOGQ·W get enough of Pastor Siju as they

greedily lapped up all her nuggets of leadership and transformation. Committed to accelerating nation building through the empowerment of women in the society, the Arise Women Conference has become a SHUPDQHQW À[WXUH LQ WKH FDOHQGDUV of the female faithful. This year was no different as speaker after speaker took the stage to take the attendees on a transformational tour through the nooks and corners of leadership, economic and social empowerment, and all-round betterment for the womenfolk. Through it all, Pastor Siju maintains an air of ornamented glamour. She wears all the razzle-dazzle but manages to carry herself like a nightingale full of enchanting song. Power for her, doesn’t lie in dull, strict offices or boring proclamations. In impact as in dress, she is always after what can make the loudest statement. Prayer might move mountains but charisma and passion can move people. Just ask Greta Thunberg, the young girl whose concern for the decaying earth has sparked a worldwide revolution. Look towards Pastor Siju as well: her sense of fashion and style is all the Christian woman needs, they don’t need to dress in dull, drab, unappealing attire to prove their virtuousness.

Iluyomade

following the tailspinning of the value of the Naira and the economic recession, Rabiu remained unbowed, unbent, and unbroken. He simply went to the drawing board and restrategised. His efforts borne fruits as he has shot back up the rich men’s leaderboard, finding himself tucked in nicely at number 3 just below the dynamic duo Dangote and Adenuga. The BUA Group’s head honcho’s fortunes stand at a whopping $1.6 billion, following the merger of the Cement Company of Northern Nigeria with his privately-owned Kalambaina Cement company. Not content with playing second fiddle to Dangote Cement, Rabiu has unveiled his Hail Mary — a plan to loosen his fellow northern billionaire’s stranglehold on that industry. Construction is already ongoing on a new cement plant, the $450million Sokoto Kalambaina II plant, which will boost BUA Group’s cement production capacity by an astronomical 3 million metric tonnes. Coupled with the consolidation of the 6 million metric tonnes-producing Obu Cement Company, the total capacity will shoot up to 11 million MTTpa, enough for second place, just behind Dangote’s Cement empire. Not to mention that BUA Cement also owns Edo Cement Company and BUA Cement Port Harcourt, which continue to operate as private companies, the ongoing consolidation has instantly transformed Rabiu into a force to reckon with in the economies of, not just Nigeria, but its dependent neighbours. Through it all, Rabiu continues to maintain a humble mien. If he is a lion in the business world, he is a lamb in human relations. His humility is the stuff of legends, his generosity the foundation behind many a northern ballad and his commitment to principles of progress merely ensures his star continues to shine bright.


60

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ËžÍŻÍŽËœͰ͎ͯ͡

HIGHLIFE

AnotherWedding in the Bag‌ As 9ice PicksWedding Date As the festive period approaches, wedding bells have been tolling across the land, disturbing the sleep and pity parties of less lucky bachelors and spinsters who can only watch in envy as wedding procession after wedding procession waltzes past. Pop musician Abolore Akande, popularly known as 9ice has got in on the act. The dude who became famous with his Gógó A song which enjoyed rave reviews and continuous airplay many months after it was released, is set to walk down the aisle with his umpteenth bride. At least this time, guests will enjoy the privilege of actually seeing the bride in the flesh. The bride in question is Ajala Olasunkanmi, who is also the mother of Michelle, one of his daughters. 9ice thus joins the list of celebrities who have been getting married to their baby mamas in recent times. Although Ajala isn’t the only woman confirmed or rumored to have mothered children for 9ice, the musician sees something in her that the rest of the women don’t possess. Close friends confirmed that since the two reconciled after going through a rough patch, they have been inseparable. They go

9ice

everywhere together in public and it was just a matter of time before they took things to the next level.

Come 30th December 2019 at the Civic Center, Ozumba Mbadiwe Way, Victoria island, their love will finally culminate in plighted vows and not-so-chaste kisses. Customized invitations cards have already flown to the few guests who were lucky enough to be invited by the couple. The event is strictly by invitation and this is made possible through the access card system that ensures gate crashers and party poopers alike won’t have the chance to crash the occasion. Come D-day, the bride’s friends are expected to storm the venue in expensive French lace and two-toned champagne and blush Aso-Oke while the groom’s men won’t be left out either in their traditional agbada and lace apparels styled by the best fashion designers in town. What becomes of 9ice’s current wife Adetola Anifalaje whom he married last year is a question only him can answer. Recall that after parting with his first wife Toni Payne several years back, he has been entangled in multiple romances with multiple women with multiple children to show for it.

Kashamu Buruji Shuns Fayose‘s Mother’s 80th Birthday What goes around comes around. The sun rises from the east only to rise again from the selfsame place. Winter gives way to spring but for a while, for the cold of snow and the death of trees will come again. Kingdoms rise and wane and humans, once frail things, become, in old age, frail things once more. It is an eternal law of nature. It also seems to be a law in human relationships, albeit a law that is better left un-obeyed. Exemplary is the man who decides not to give an eye for an eye. Which is a long way of saying few politicians in Nigeria can lay claim to this distinction. Former governorship candidate at the Ogun State governorship polls, Senator Buruji Kashamu and his losing counterpart in Ekiti State Ayodele Fayose, certainly don’t care too much about being models of graciousness. For a while now, the tiff between both men has been glaring, like the splotches of red on an albino’s sunburnt skin. They avoided each other at meetings, events, forums. They never mentioned one another, except to fire arrows, and one seldom applauded his counterpart’s actions, except sarcastically. The two former buddies have well and truly thrown friendship to the winds. If a “celebration of life� couldn’t mend the rift, perhaps it was wishful thinking to

suppose that a birthday celebration could. When Senator Kashamu threw an earthshaking final burial ceremony for his late mother, Madam Wulemotu Ebunoluwa Kashamu, who died in August at the ripe old age of 92, the entire political community was on hand to pay their final respects. Everyone, that is, except Fayose was there. Whatever their enmity was, it was shocking to many that the former Ekiti governor didn’t use the opportunity to extend an olive branch of peace. Very well then. Fast forward to the classy 80th birthday bash thrown by Fayose for his mother. The Radisson blu, GRA, Ikeja venue of the shindig was the delight of high society on the day. The creme de la creme came in all their glory and gave it their best dancing shot as juju legend Ebenezar Obey Fabiyi dished out golden oldies from the bandstand. Not a few thought Senator Buruji Kashamu would be the better man and attend his former best friend’s mum’s birthday for old time’s sake. What they didn’t know was that, between the two at least, old times aren’t enough to heal new grudges. And so their quarrel rumbles on. With no end in sight and no push for reconciliation from either camp, the keen observer is waiting with bated breath to see who blinks first.

Few days back, matriarch of high society Joke Sogunro clocked 55. Ordinarily, such an August occasion should have seen the drums rolled out, the red carpets spread, the bandstands erected, and continental dishes and western wine served to high profile guests. This time, however, the popular businesswoman’s day of joy was a more subdued affair. It was the worst of times, it was the best of times, to invert the first clause of Charles Dickens’ great antithesis. When a high point comes so soon after a sad event, the feeling is bittersweet, to say the least. Those who thought Joke would make a hue and cry over clocking 54 years must have forgotten that she is also flesh and blood, prinento feeling pain and grief after a shattering loss. It was just in August that the head honcho of Soggy’s Couture lost her younger brother Idris Sogunro to the cold, cruel hands of death. Just 44, and about to celebrate his birthday, his sister and family were left to mourn his premature departure instead. Such things must have weighed heavily on the mind of Joke, whose Soggy’s Couture has branches in

Oba Elegushi

A Feather in His Cap: Igbinedion University Honours Oba Saheed Elegushi

I

Buruji

Society Lady, Joke Sogunro Celebrates 55th Birthday in Style

Sogunro

Surulere, Ikoyi and Abuja. Perhaps it led her to contemplate more on the

vanity of life and the impermanence of it all. She must have come to the realization that the best way to rescue oneself from the transience of time is by adding value to others, making sure their own, equally brief sojourns aren’t devoid of happiness. Hence the wealthy philanthropist used the occasion of her 55th birthday to float the Joke Sogunro Foundation. The stated aim of the new NGO is to cater to the needy, especially women and children. Through this medium, she hopes to put smiles on the faces of those whom life, fortune, and nation have forgotten. Meanwhile, the matriarch of high society has intimated to her friends that she won’t be throwing any high octane shindig until she joins the sexagenarian club — that is, until she clocks 60. When that time comes, trust the popular Abuja socialite to treat everyone to a bash, the likes of which they have never seen.

t is no exaggeration to say that even the most royal of monarchs has often cast an envious glance in the direction of ba Saheed Ademola Elegushi, Kusenla III, the Elegushi of Ikateland. Old men with royal diadems sagging down their weary heads envy him on account of his youth. Weak monarchs have cast him many a baleful look on account of his exuberance and endless vitality. Rulers of bankrupt kingdoms can only look on in helpless jealousy as he presides over a kingdom whose wealth continues to expand at a geometric rate. Even some with multiple wives have secretly wished they are the ones in possession of ba Saheed’s two incomparable jewels — OlĂłrĂ­ Aramide and OlĂłrĂ­ Hadiza. And now, they have one more thing to stoke their envy: the young monarch has been chosen for an honorary degree by the Igbinedion University, Okada, in Benin City, Edo State. The premier private university will honour the happening king with a degree in Public Administration (Honoris Causa). He is being academically ennobled for his “contributions as a Traditional and Cultural Icon, Outstanding and Visionary Leader, Developmentalist, Generational Role Model and a National Builderâ€?. Oba Elegushi is a man who likes to make a statement anytime he steps out to a function and this time will not be different. The delighted king has already handpicked the royal robes he will adorn on the August occasion. He will be formally conferred with the degree at the university’s seventeenth convocation which takes place on Saturday November 30, at the school premises Already, some of his closest buddies have indicated their intention to storm the venue as part of his entourage. The amboyant monarch is known to always go around with a formidable caravan of eminent personalities, with one of his wives in tow. Meanwhile, to be honoured alongside Oba Elegushi are former President Goodluck Jonathan and Nollywood superstar Omotola Jalade Ekeinde. But while the two are bonaďŹ de wave makers in their respective domains, none currently commands the glitter and attention like Oba Elegushi.


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ËžÍŻÍŽËœͰ͎ͯ͡

61

HIGHLIFE

Akeredolu, Senator Ajayi BoroďŹƒce in Fresh Battle

BoroďŹƒce

It would be wise if every human were to obey the injunction to let sleeping dogs lie. When dogs sleep, it is not because they have lost their bark and bite; rather, the situation often merits a period of prolonged rest, after which the famous fang is unleashed once more on their unsuspecting victims. Such is the developing situation between interested parties in the fortunes of Ondo State a few months before the landmark elections that would shape its political destiny for the next four years. The chief antagonists in this particular play are the governor of the state Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, and the senator representing Ondo North at the National Assembly, Ajayi Boroffice. If the senator is the sleeping dog, his ire has been well and truly roused by the governor’s actions which amounted to prodding him with a stick. Politics not only makes strange bedfellows but strange enemies as well. How better to explain the rancour between two people expected to have closed ranks for the

betterment of the Sunshine State? With Akeredolu on a charm offensive to woo party elements ahead of the APC primaries, Senator Boroffice stands in his way, a formidable oak that would neither bend nor waver in the face of the governor’s wind of political change. The recent elections only bolstered his standing as he was the only APC aspirant to win a seat in the senate while the rest foundered against the challenges of PDP candidates. With the backing of certain party leaders at the national level, the senator has begun to get his pound of flesh in retaliation at the governor’s attempts to stymie his re-election bid. Although he eventually prevailed, the slight remains as a wound on his heart, and seeing Akeredolu fall flat on his face would be the sweetest balm imaginable. Thus goes the face-off between the two prominent sons of Ondo North. With so many people caught in the middle, and momentum in the fratricidal war swaying here and there, seemingly at random, it

Kennedy Alogaga Goes Underground Fame is nothing but a fancied life in others’ breath. It has less to do with actions and more with perceptions. It is a fickle mistress that tempts the sons of men to lay on its beds of flowers while hidden thorns orick underneath until one day when the memory of a star becomes as dim as a black hole. The name Kennedy Alogaga might ring a bell. Or it might not. What is clear is that any resonance will be faint, like the last wisps of smoke from a burnt out candle or the final wink of a red sun before it disappears over the horizon. Such is the fate of the once-happening dude called Ken whose name used to resonate so loudly on the Lagos social scene. Unlike others whose downfall could be attributed to their deeds or misdeeds, Ken’s prolonged brush with invisibility has more to

do with the mischances of time. Italy-bred young man was just a clothier under the aegis of L’uomo, which had offices in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. But, in those good old days when he ruled the roost, you wouldn’t know this going by his appearance and how others held him in high regard. His fame was more pop star’s than fashion stylist’s. Things began to go south when the federal government’s importation hammer fell on textiles. Ken was forced to close down his spot which was the hottest shop for chic eyeglasses and top-of-therange designer items. Undaunted, he reinvented himself with Waka Restaurant and Bar on Akin Adesola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. And for a time, it seemed he had found his calling.

Alogaga

The NDDC Debacle: Between Ahmed Lawan and Godswill Akpabio

Lawan

Existential questions are as old as human existence. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg, the man or the embryo, Ahmed Lawan or Godswill Akpabio? The latter poser might be infinitely less meaningful in the grand scheme of things, but for the rank and file of the Niger Delta, not to mention those who earn their daily bread from the activities of the region’s federal commission, it is a question that requires an answer. And fast. Parallel governments are nothing new in politics. Nigeria’s two main parties have been victims, and sometimes victors, of splintered factions, especially at state levels. But when the fate of a region’s development is at stake, such divisions morph from a political game to an emergency that must be rectified at once. Enter Senators Ahmed Lawan and Godswill Akpabio. The two former comrades of the legislative upper chambers certainly have a lot in common. But it is their differences that are sticking out like a sore thumb. Ever since Akpabio was made the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, observers already claimed it was a matter of time before he went on a collision course with the second arm of government.

Akpabio had, against some advice, and perhaps even his own better judgment, set up an interim management committee to pilot the affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission. The committee was headed by Dr Joy Nunieh from Rivers State. Immediately, there was a hue and cry in the polity. Not to worry, the senate assured, as they commenced screening for the 15 nominees for the NDDC board put forward by the presidency. With proceedings concluded, ex-Edo State Deputy Governor Pius Odubu was confirmed as Chairman of the board while Delta State’s Bernard Okumagba was confirmed as Managing Director and Bayelsa State’s Maxwell Okoh as Executive Director Finance and Administration. In an interesting turn of events, Nunieh, Akpabio’s interim MD, who was also nominated for the board, failed to show up for the screenings and was subsequently rejected by the senate. Those close to the matter claimed she might have been ordered to stay away by the new Niger Delta minister in an apparent bid to flex his muscle of influence.

remains impossible to tell who will eventually prevail. This is coming on the heels of whispers in some quarters that Boroffice is being put forward to challenge Akeredolu’s reelection bid at the APC primaries.

Taiwo Afolabi is Living it Up If a sojourner in life’s thorny journey were to ask on which path greatness lies, some would direct him to the assemblage of heroes, those who won renown and carved for themselves busts of marbles and chapters in the pages of history. Some would point to the conclave of the sages, men who, through words and postulations fetched from the deepest wells of wisdom, shaped the destiny of eras. And some would simply point to the billionaire club where titans of industry and controllers of world and national economies hold sway. Yes, fingers would wave him in the direction of Aliko Dangote, Otunba Mike Adenuga Jnr, Femi Otedola and Absulsamad Rabiu. In the not too distant future, the worn traveller, finally gaining admittance to this rarefied air, would find SiFAX boss Taiwo Afolabi among their ranks. He might already have joined them. Joining the exclusive club of billionaire takes more than the chinking of millions of coins. It takes grit. It takes courage. It takes the ability to know when to move in for the kill and when to take a step back while planning things to perfection. Hence why Taiwo Afolabi paid no heed to the jeering of naysayers who inundated the airwaves with premature proclamations of his downfall when some of his recent projects seemed like they had run aground. Unbeknownst to them, Taiwo was simply waiting for the opportune time to press the speed button. His Marriott Hotel which many thought had joined the ranks of abandoned projects dotting the landscape is finally completion. Skeptics are welcome to drive around Oba Adejobi and Joel Ogunnaike axes in Ikeja GRA. They would be confronted with a stunning seven storey wonder on land. The accomplished gentleman does not joke with his comfort which explains why he spared no cost to complete his new hotel. The magnificent building parades luxury rooms and deliciously furnished and up-to-the minute amenities that make the world a more desirable place to live in. Many say Taiwo has no contrition about relishing opulence. With his recent addition, Afolabi has added hospitality to the list of industries in which his dexterous fingers have secured a pie. He is also a key player in the Maritime, Aviation, Haulage, Financial Services and Oil and Gas sectors.

Afolabi


62

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ËžÍŻÍŽËœͰ͎ͯ͡

Adebayo Adeoye bayoolunla@gmail.com; 08054680651

 

Tino Electronics Boss, Timothy Efoezie Plans Big for Mum at 80 When you are wealthy, connected and sociable, throwing a high-octane party that will be in the minds and on the lips of your guests for many years comes to you naturally. This is what may play out as respected businessman, Timothy Ofoezie, a giant in electronics business in the country, plans a three-day celebration for his mother, Madam Ezinne Clarice, who turns 80, at his country home in Isikare Achi Oji River LGA, Enugu State. It was gathered that an array of top dignitaries from different walks of life have signified their interest to honour the Enuguborn Chairman/ CEO of Tino Electronics Limited and his adorable wife, Olufunke. The event, which is slated to hold between November 15, 16 and 17, will commence with a praise and worship dubbed “Praise Concert�, featuring Evang. Chioma Jesus alongside Chigozie Anyanwu of Zion Voice and Nonso Chukwumere of Royal Band International, among others. According to the organizers, there will be a morning service in the Ofoezie’s compound on the second day, which will be followed with a reception. As a devout Christian, who attributes his successes to God’s grace, he plans to wrap up the event with a thanksgiving service at Christ Church, Isikare Achi, Oji River LGA, in Enugu State, with entire Ofoezies as well as friends and well-wishers in attendance. Already, the millionaire businessman is said to be leaving no stone unturned to make the day most memorable.

Billionaire Businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim’s Academic Quest It is no longer news that billionaire businessman, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim, has been off the radar since he lost his governorship bid in Ondo State three years ago. Many would also not forget his role in the election that was won by the incumbent, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN. Following court rejection as PDP candidate in the election then, the lawyer-cum-businessman jetted to Dubai. The serial entrepreneur was not sighted anywhere around the country for a long time, fuelling suspicions in many quarters. Amidst the rumours about his new lifestyle, Society Watch gathered the reason for the Chairman/ CEO of Energy Group’s sudden “disappearance� has to do with his quest for more knowledge. A source disclosed that the billionaire is pursuing postgraduate courses at both the Oxford and Cambridge Universities, respectively. While he is currently a Ph.D student in

Management Science at the Cambridge, which ends in 2024, he is also studying for a Ph.D in War Studies at the University of Buckingham. Love or hate him, he is a phenomenon. His business strategies may not appeal to you, but what is incontestable is that he is blessed with uncommon business acumen. Today, by virtue of his rare accomplishments, he is one of the few Nigeria’s businessmen who can rub shoulders with other top businessmen around the globe. Indeed, if the history of billionaires in Africa were to be documented, his name would stand out. He is a rare gem, who set out to achieve greatness in life. Evidence of this, no doubt, manifests in all his business interests, which include oil & gas distribution, hotels, resorts, aviation, banking, real estate, insurance, publishing and investments, among others.

Ibrahim

Kemi Nelson, Okoya-Thomas Still Sworn Enemies

Nleson

If you are of the opinion that the end to the smouldering ‘war’ between two top society women and chieftains of All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief (Mrs.) Kemi Nelson and Hon. Jumoke Okoya-Thomas is in sight, you are dead wrong. Society Watch gathered that these two Lagos female political top-shots have vowed to fight on. Though a number of the party’s chieftains have intervened, they have refused to sheathe their swords; hence, the ‘war’ rages on. Our source disclosed that the women continually engage in namecalling and mudslinging, which many do not find funny anymore.

The cause of the alleged enmity between both women, it was gathered, started like a murmur a few months to the last general election over positions within the party. But the discordant tune of war took a dangerous twist and even turned messier when their supporters clashed at the party Lagos Secretariat. A source disclosed that Kemi Nelson’s office was allegedly vandalized during the melee, with several personal effects and other valuables like mobile phones, television sets, chairs, tables and computers either destroyed or stolen. Nelson allegedly accused OkoyaThomas of being responsible for the attack on her.

Tears as Maureen Onigbanjo Buries Son

Efoezie

Even if you had literally feasted on the head of a tortoise, as the Yoruba would say, you would have cried out your heart, last Tuesday, wh en the remain s of Olaw ale Jnr., son of t h e popular fas hion design er, M aureen O ni gban jo, CEO, H ouse of Mau fec h i, were c ommit t ed to mot h er eart h at t h e E b o n y Vault s I koyi Lagos. T he burial c eremon y ki cked off on M on day, No vember 4, wit h a cand leligh t serv ic e at Th e K u d os H all an d Ev en t Ce nt re in I keja, Lagos. Olawale Jnr. died on Monday, 14 October, 2019 in London, just three months after celebrating his 31st birthday. Since the news of Olawale’s death broke out last October,

members of his family and friends have become very inconsolable. The Lagos social circuit has since been thrown into a mourning mood, occasioned by his tragic death. His parents’ home in AdeniyiJones, Ikeja, Lagos has also been playing host to thousands of grief-stricken sympathisers. It will be recalled that, in July 2015, Maufechi was hit by the death of her husband, Olawale Lukman Onigbanjo, the founder of Lakoom Enterprises. Onigbanjo, who was fondly called Onyx by his close friends, died in London, few minutes after arriving from Nigeria. Maufechi was still smarting from this loss when her handsome son, Olawale, suddenly died last month.

Onigbanjo


63

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ËžÍŻÍŽËœͰ͎ͯ͡

SOCIETY WATCH

Former LIRS Boss, Olufolarin Kayode Ogunsanwo Back in the Limelight

Ogunsanwo

In the past weeks, Olufolarin Kayode Ogunsanwo, a former Head of the Lagos State Inland Revenue, LIRS, has been a subject of interesting discourses among the indigenes of Ilara in the Epe area of Lagos. Ogunsanwo, again, may be journeying on the boulevard of fame, having been named the Alara-Elect of Ilara Kingdom of Epe area of Lagos by the five-man kingmakers, amidst orchestrated opposition by other contenders. Interestingly, there have reportedly been wild jubilations from across the ancient town by his supporters and those who see his selection as a blessing to the town. It will be recalled that Ogunsanwo, who may be described as a child of destiny, had had a turbulent period as the head honcho of the LIRS then.

This was because his appointment had been terminated by the then governor of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode, on allegations of financial malfeasance. At the height of the trumped-up charges levelled against him, his supporters had made efforts to save his job. But in the face of the crisis, his supporters were said to have later prevailed on him to throw in the towel. He did listen to wise counsel. As fate would have it, he had the last laugh, as the house of mischief literally built by his adversaries on a sandy soil collapsed on them and he was vindicated. Described as a man of integrity, he enjoys a healthy relationship with top personalities in the state as well as the powers that be.

Ogun First Lady, Bamidele Abiodun’s Welfarist Tendencies Talk about beauty, grace and class and Bamidele Abiodun, wife of Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, will come to mind. The elegant and stunning First Lady of Ogun State is blessed with a figure that belies her age. Very reserved, she makes a statement with her dress whenever she steps out. Her love for headgear is unparalleled and she has them in numerous eye-catching colours to match her lovely outfits. But the essential Abiodun has shown evidence of a privileged woman blessed with a heart of gold. All her actions so far point to the fact that she shares in her husband’s vision, which is to further change the face of the

state, while also bettering the lives of the indigenes. Since she became to office, she has continuously maintained that her office would harness the developmental drive of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the State to further enhance effective family planning services, adolescent reproductive healthcare as well as overall family well-being. In line with this, she recently empowered no fewer than 1,000 widows across the state in her programme tagged “Renewed Hope for Widows�. Speaking on the occasion, she said the event was part of her husband’s commitment to cater for the welfare of the people of the state.

Abiodun

Premier Lotto Boss, Kessington Adebutu’s Wondrous Taste

Adebutu’s

Without a doubt, Sir Kesington Adebutu, a billionaire businessman and Chairman of Premier Lotto, knows how to dazzle his competitors. For a man who has been so blessed with all the comforts of life, he does not spare any expense to spoil himself in any way, as his heart dictates. He is a man with wondrous taste As a billionaire he can afford a lifestyle filled with luxury watches, expensive cars and luxury real estate. And what else does one do with a bunch of extra cash? Yes, he hangs out with the rich and the famous. In the build-up to the conferment of the title of Odole on him by the Ooni of Ife, His

Imperial Majesty, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, at an elaborate ceremony attended by notable individuals in the country, the 84-year-old businessman had acquired another wonder-on-wheel, a Roll Royce Phantom 2019 model. The luxury car, it was learnt, was purchased for about N200m purposely for the traditional title, which he treasures so much. The light-skinned octogenarian keeps imparting his society positively through his Kensington Adebukunola Adebutu Foundation (KAAF) and the Medical Laboratory and Maternity Centre established in 2005.

Ex-Ogun Commissioner, Bukola Olopade’s Passion His name has always been in the forefront of sports development in Ogun State. Known for his obsession with grassroots development and youth empowerment, Bukola Olopade, who is one of the youngest Commissioners in annals of the state, dazzled during his reign under the administration of former Governor Gbenga Daniel. Even now, the vivacious man has continued to be a blessing to his state. Through his Nilayo Sports Limited, one of Nigeria’s highly rated sports companies, he has successfully raised the bar in the history of sports events in the state. Two weeks ago, his company organised the firstever long distance race in the state. Aside from the health benefits of the race, the colourful race, which is another tourism earner for Ogun State, has opened up the gateway state to economic prosperity. It was gathered that the JAC Motors Abeokuta 10km Race attracted hundreds of thousands from all walks - the runners, media, volunteers and a host of other tourists. Expectedly, the influx of people into the state rubbed off on businesses in the state from the hospitality industry to entertainment and other businesses. In his own words, the people of Ogun love sports and the only way to create economic prosperity is through the people’s passion.

Olapade


64

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ËžÍŻÍŽËœͰ͎ͯ͡

LOUD WHISPERS

with JOSEPH EDGAR (09095325791)

Buhari: Once Bitten, Twice Shy Mbok as my father would say, ‘how many times will something do you’. Yes o people are shouting that the President signed one Bill in the UK, abi where sef and they are screaming blue murder that he has relegated the Vice President, he has contravened the law and all what not. Please let me even ask, the last time he transmitted a letter empowering the Vice President, what happened? By the time he came back, he had lost his DSS Chief and so many other things that took him a lot of stress to recover. Mbok, this time, baba has learnt lessons, as they say once bitten, twice shy. He no write any letter o. He

GOOD MORNING MR. SANWO-OLU Is what I am hearing true that you no longer want to be addressed by the title, Your Excellency or is it His Excellency and that from now onwards you want to be known and referred to as Mr. Governor? Well I hope you will put the necessary Public Notice in at least three national dailies including Sahara Reporters so that everybody is carried along with this decision. I really support this decision if it is true. Going beyond the obvious symbolism which I suspect is to curry dwindling public support, I feel that the decision will better situate you and ground you as you fully begin to grapple with the many challenges you face in governing Lagos. So Mr. Governor Sir, let me tell you something that would make those close to me feel that I am drunk from too much drink- I truly really believe in your ability to deliver on your campaign promises. When you emerged, we were very angry but then again what can we do but to sit down now and begin to support you since you have emerged the constituted authority in charge of Lagos? So my brother after we have finished with that crack attempt at populism, let us now face the work. The roads, infrastructure, health, environment – Lagos is sinking. No be to call you Excellency or Highness be the issue now my lord. Let us put heads together and see how we can resolve these problems. While we are still talking, crime is resurging. This is not time to wear Buba and

Sanwo-Olu

conveniently forgot the letter before they remove his First Lady before he comes back. Please I cannot shout o. Let the baba just be managing himself till the tenor is over with no disruptions. You know Osinbajo is not very happy with baba. It is not because of all these things we are hearing o like the one they have just denied - the sacking of 35 of his aides, but I want to believe that Osinbajo’s main angst would be the price of rice. They say that the thing is now like N24,000 since they have closed the borders and you know what rice and stew means to the Yoruba man. It is the way the Fulani cherish their cows that is the way

Yoruba do not joke with their rice and stew especially stew. So this situation cannot make Osinbajo happy and baba knows that one very well. So he no want risk am o. Osinbajo will quickly open borders for one day so that rice can enter o before baba come back. The constitution does not cover some of these things and me I know blame daddy o. Transmit what, to where? Mbok leave me abeg make I siddon for here o. That is what he would have told his advisers when they must have come to him with the request for the letter. Laugh will not kill me in this our country, I tell you.

APOSTLE SULEMAN – MILKING SOWORE’S PREDICAMENT This baba’s penchant of latching onto trending stories to increase the size of mumu tithe payers is very very commendable o. So, all the ‘years’ Sowore was languishing with nobody to stand surety not even all the loud social crusaders, daddy did not deem it fit to jump out o. It is when the man was finally getting close to getting his bail perfected this baba just started considering standing bail? These are the kinds of things I would have craved for an opportunity to see this baba face to face so I can really tell him what is on my mind and then he can slap me and I will show him how we do it in Shomolu. We are just crawling with fake people parading themselves as saints. Imagine trying to profit or inch up column mentions on a matter as serious

as this. Sowore’s ongoing matter goes deep into the heart of our democracy and the freedoms that come with it. This case will show Nigerians which side is correct or whether we like it or not, will either strengthen our democracy or give it a defining blow. So for this pastor to come and be playing social media gimmicks with the matter to say the least is annoying. As I write, I hear that Sowore has finally met his bail conditions and may be set free momentarily. Some of us are eagerly awaiting the outcome of this case because like I said, it is a litmus test for our democracy and the patience of the leaders that the same democracy has thrown up. These are issues that this person will not understand because for him, it is all just a publicity stunt. I wish him well.

Sulema

Sokoto and go and be playing monkey post football with that

Wike

Gbaja wey no really get problem. In fact let me just yab that one

Obono Obia

Buhari

small. That is how I went to eat rice at Bank Olemoh and what did I see? A whole Gbaja with all the gray beards in the world had renovated the Buka! Laugh nearly want kill me. That is what they call ‘Afamaco’ in Shomolu. But today is not for that one, his time is coming. My lord Mr. Governor, Lagos is on its knees, its people are in tears and hope is fast sliding away. But I know you can do it. I have read your profile and I have spoken to people like Labi who have sent you texts on their worries and you have replied them which tells me you are a listening governor. I want, at the end of your tenor to invite you to Shomolu to give you the highest honour we can give any human being when you must have delivered Lagos. I know you can do it. You have my prayers bro. Go and conquer. WIKE – I DON’T UNDERSTAND ANYMORE Please what is happening o? Somebody or something has tamed this brother o. The fire is gone o. What happened, can someone please tell me o? No longer are the fiery speeches, the standoff against the federal government and APC, now we are seeing a subdued Wike. A begging Wike and a wimping Wike and this is not good for our democracy as it is not giving us the tonic we need as interested bystanders. Mbok, if everybody is subdued, where is the fun in Nigerian politics. First it was Fayose, that one has obviously gone quiet because without

Atiku


65

NOVEMBER 10 , 20199 ˾ T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R

LOUD WHISPERS

Nnaji

Imoukhuede

Oshikoya

immunity he don naked so he ‘gast to respect himself’, but this one even with immunity don melt. Be like bro is looking at end of tenor and the possible consequences of mis-yarn hence the need to calm down and begin to show respect. Anyways, me I am not enjoying this new Wike abeg. The space is getting boring.

Supreme Court would now hear the case. By that time my battery had gone down so I went to charge the phone only for the phone to come up and presto, judgment had been given. This na real ‘Mr. Biggs’ judgment. No waste of time. Anyways, with that our man finally threw in the towel and went back to Dubai to continue with his retreat. Anyways, while we were still grappling with the many issues that disturb us in the land, one thing caught my attention: the possibility of Atiku contesting come 2023. Kai, that is the kind of thing you see those old men who still use chewing stick will spit out tobacco coloured spittle and shout – tufiakwa. Atiku recontest? For what na? Shey because Bubu did it four times and eventually won he wants to try himself? Shebi we have seen where that has got us as a people? Please whoever is muting this idea should stop o. That is how it will start like a tiny joke and before you know it, we will now come and be seeing one old man with walking stick and no teeth on the soap box asking for vote. Let me even say it here very clearly that even though the so-called youths of this country have not shown any seriousness in seizing the mantle of their destiny, the old ones should equally respect themselves and go and sit down. This Atiku did not run a compelling campaign, he did not fire our imaginations and relied too much on a public angst as fuel to catapult him to the throne and as such there was no eureka moment during the campaign. So he should just go and rest so that we can concentrate and remain focused in our search for true leadership. No be wetin we dey see. The beautiful ones are truly not yet born as that person said it.

contest. You see there is something really wrong with us as a people. It is no longer ordinary eye. There is something really wrong with Nigeria and its people. No wonder people are running away. The moment they appointed a local committee to screen entries and throw up nominations, I just knew that yeye will happen. Is it not us, we that will be changing NYSC post, we that will be doing man know man, we that will be doing ‘na my brother’? They have carried the rubbish to a timetested institution that has over the years - running almost into a century - built an enviable platform on integrity and strong values to go and try. So of all the indigenous movies that are churned out in this country that we have even divided into Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa, it is only this Genevieve one we have seen to put forward in clear variance with the guideline? This is just total crap and the Genevieve herself took time out of the shower to come and be explaining that English is our language and what binds the over 600 different languages together. Can you imagine, if not that because I have a major crush on her I would have called her something this morning. Please nobody will heal us if we don’t heal ourselves. People are bringing up initiatives to strengthen our culture and restore our dignity as a proud conglomeration of the black man, na Genevieve movie with bad English we throw out there? Please can we just stop this because it is very very annoying to say the least.

OBONO-OBLA – COME ON, BE A MAN I was trained by soldiers and if there is anything I do not like are cowards. We were trained to stand and take the bullet no matter what. Those days in the wild jungle that was Command Secondary School in Ipaja, if you were caught committing an offence and you ratted out your companions, you got double punishment. You were to show courage under fire and take the lashes like a man. Not cower and begin to sing like someone with a bad case of diarrhea. In fact your wahala will be worsened if you as much as opened your mouth. So you will understand my position as I am looking at this person like a yellow Rat. So now it is Osinbajo that is chasing him? When he was running around like a sheriff like he owned the country and was doing Rambo all over the place, he did not know that he was a minority from the Hills of Obruba and as such did not have the Hallo that he needed to protect him; he did not know o. I hear he was lord unto himself, carrying out Gestapo-type inquest and being everything. Well, today he has run away like they all do and is singing like a cannery accusing everybody but anybody for his fate. If I am not careful sef, he will say the Duke of Shomolu is also after him. Please my brother be a man and come back like Idiagbon did. That one came back after a military coup o. This one na democracy. So come back and defend yourself, it is your right my brother, we are waiting. ATIKU ABUBAKAR – TO RECONTEST? That Supreme Court judgment which finally put the final nail in the coffin of our man’s presidential ambition is the one we want to call fast food judgment. Mbok, as I see the breaking news that the

GENEVIEVE NNAJI – A MISSED OPPORTUNITY Something happened during the week. The movie lionheart and Nigeria’s only submission for a consideration at the Oscar’s was disqualified. I just look these people not knowing if to vex or just walk away. The criterion was simple - all nominees for a foreign language movie must be 95% in a foreign language. My people go chose movie with 90% English and only a smattering of Igbo to

AIGBOJE AIG-IMOUKHUEDE – WHAT A PLEASANT MIX-UP! You know it is not every time that you get to meet people that have redefined whole markets and industries the way this my lord has. The story started in a funny way. So I saw a name on my whats app – ‘Aigboje Access’ not being too sure of who I had saved under the name, thinking it was the beautiful sweet lady at the Awolowo road, Access bank branch, I said ‘hi’ and waited. You know how these babes can be posing so I wasn’t expecting a reply so quick but immediately, the reply came - hi. I shock. I started envisioning the girl in my head. She was short, dark with a

wonderful gap tooth. She was a teller cashier in the branch that is beside my favourite restaurant - Green Gourmet. Her skin is chocolatey brown and every time I had more than N5,000 to deposit na her branch I dey go. So that was me thinking, it was this beautiful specimen saying hi to me o? So I continued, ‘how are you… ‘she’ replied, ‘ I am fine’. I quickly call my brother Tunde to show the chats and the Yoruba man start to vex. He was also eyeing the girl that he was younger than me and did not understand why I was getting this mileage. I say look this one, is it today we have started this career? Mbok I continued o. By this time I checked ‘her’ DP no picture but Access Bank logo. I say ‘yes’. I quickly put my best picture, the one I took with Chief Emeka Anyaoku during my book launch so ‘she’ will know that I know people. By this time I was home and went straight into the toilet, lock the door before Duchess will come and catch me and scatter the merger between ‘Diamond and Access’. By this time, my confidence levels had gone very high, so I throw in my powerful line – can I come see you, I want to present my new book to you personally, ‘she’ say ‘sure’ mbok. I farted from excitement. I quickly close the phone o, put it in my pocket and went to lock it in the car boot. Went back upstairs to sleep with a smile on my face. When you have time go that branch, na she you will first see by the right so you can understand my wahala this morning. That is how the next morning, I continued – please when can I come in and the reply came instantly ‘Peter will call you’ – Peterrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Mbok who be Peter for this matter? Peterrrrrrrrrrrrr. I want to cry o. Is Peter the Branch Manager or her boyfriend? I never think finish when my phone ring and the voice say, hi I am Peter from Mr. Aigboje’s office, Aig will like to see you Wednesday 3.30pm. My people I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I accepted o, what choice do I have? Aig in my books is an icon and I will do anything to have a meet up with him. But anyways, I have gone to see him and will gist you later but for now, I dey go move my account to another branch down the road. I cannot kill myself. HELEN OSHIKOYA – I HAIL YOU Helen is a mental health Expert and a Chartered Education Accessor who has been championing what is today known as inclusive education. Inclusive education according to her is about ensuring access to quality education for all students by effectively meeting their diverse needs. If you follow what she is doing you will marvel at her spirit and devotion. You see, she was my School Mother while at school and was one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever come across. So for her to toe this remarkable line of giving society a chance by devoting her life to this worthy cause needs to be recognised. She is daily pushing this agenda with no material consideration but driven by the very unique desire to push it for betterment of society. It is highly commendable. Well done Obiageli, God bless you.


66

NOVEMBER 10, 2019 ˾THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER

THEALTERNATIVE/TRIBUTE

with RenoOmokri

How Africa Mistakes Gullibility for Spirituality

I

will begin this week’s edition of #TheAlternative with a generalisation, and I ask for the forgiveness of my readers in advance. You see, a lifetime of living in Nigeria has taught me that Nigerians emote rather than we reason. This tendency to emote is the reason African parents will not invest millions in their children’s education, but will invest millions in their wedding and their children will not invest millions to cater for their aged parents, but will invest millions in their funeral. You honestly believe that if European and Asian leaders attend an African wedding or funeral, they would stop lending sub-Saharan Africa money, if they have a conscience. Africa’s problem is not money. It is misplaced priority. We look for PITY, but we like to PARTY Our tendency to emote is also the reason why we approach religion differently from other continents. Recently, a Nigerian church announced with glee that they had constructed the world’s biggest church building. To be honest, I was not really impressed, because the word mistakenly translated as church in the English translation of the New Testament is, (ekklesia when using the English alphabets). The word ekklesia actually means gathering. It does not mean a building. God is not impressed with buildings. That is why Christ said “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” People, not buildings, attract God. In fact, let me even go one step further and say that Africa only half pleases God when we build the world’s biggest churches in the world’s poverty continent. If we want to fully please God, we must also build the world’s most Godly and honest congregations and the world’s biggest businesses. FAITH without WORKS is DEAD! Christ’s disciples had businesses. Peter, James and John were fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector. Paul was a tent maker. Judas, who did not have a business, became a BETRAYER and a THIEF. So, say a big PRAYER, but be a bigger PLAYER in BUSINESS. Going further on our spectacular ability to emote when we

should reason and use are, I recently chanced upon a Facebook post of a famed footballer from the 90s, who had fallen on hard times. I took particular interest in him because Nigerians were commenting that the Nigerian Football Federation had abandoned him. And I thought to myself, why do Nigerians reason like this? As a footballer, you earn money. You ought to invest it in preparation for retirement. It is not the duty of the NFF to look after footballers in their old age. It is called the Nigerian Football Federation, not the Nigerian Footballers Pension Society. The public should stop feeding such false expectations. That is the same way I read about a late 90s pop star who died and the same Nigerians accused the industry of abandoning him. Excuse me? When that star was lavishing his earnings on a flashy lifestyle, why didn’t the public accuse the ‘industry’ of abandoning him? They were hailing him. Actions have consequences and you reap what you sow! Many of the so-called celebrities now posting pictures of their brand new cars and their First-Class travels with their children and pets, will be broke in old age. Then emotional Nigerians will rush to social media to accuse the ‘industry’ of abandoning’ them. A nation of emotional people cannot progress like a nation of rational people. A day is coming when their slay queen body will turn to a slay mama body. Roles will stop coming. Album sales will reduce. Younger footballers will be signed by your club. So invest in your future and don’t accuse the industry of abandoning you. If you don’t, it is you who abandoned your senses, and not the industry that abandoned you! Our religious leaders need to teach their congregants and parishioners that God made man sufficient time to stand, and yet free to fall. We, as Black Africans need to understand that contrary to what many Christian and Muslim leaders teach, we are not a product of fate, we are products of our choices. God had a destiny prepared for every human being born of a woman before HE sent them into this world and that destiny is that God gave

you a head to decide where you want to go and 2 legs to take you there. It was not only Judas that satan tried to enter. He also tried to use Peter. The difference between Peter and Judas is that one elected to cooperate with satan, while the other chose to rebuke him. Their choices became their destiny. We are poor in Africa because of our choices, and not because of the witch in the village. We made a choice to spend three times the amount we spend on books to buy real and artificial hair. What goes on our head is more important to us than what goes in it. Africa will be rich only by our choices. Religion cannot make us rich. In fact, many of us mistake gullibility for spirituality. To believe that God wants you to prosper is spirituality. To believe that God will prosper you without any effort on your part is gullibility. Gullible faith is no faith. Scripture says “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”-Hosea 4:6 (NIV). That Scripture could as well have been tailor-written for Africa. But thank God that, unlike humans, He does not identify a problem without advancing a solution. Hosea 6:6 says “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the KNOWLEDGE of God rather than burnt offerings.” You see, we Africans focus on burnt offerings rather than knowledge acquisition. And until we make a course correction, we may find that development stays far, very, very, far from us.

#Reno’s Nuggets

If you have not bought or built a house, you really shouldn’t: * Fly First Class * Buy an iPhone 11 * Habitually wear designers Poverty is the destiny of those who can’t differentiate their NEEDS from their WANTS. Sadly, many people with low self-esteem cover it up by living a lifestyle they can’t afford, just to impress people. That is why many celebrities go broke in old age and foolishly accuse the ‘industry’ of abandoning them.

Celebrating Accomplished Academic, Professor Afolabi Ojo, at 90 Demola Ojo

P

rofessor Gabriel Jimoh Afolabi Ojo is many things rolled into one but is first and foremost, a teacher. The brains behind distance learning at tertiary level in Nigeria, Prof Ojo has been a teacher all his life and has authored over 140 books and academic articles. He started as a class teacher in Ekiti in 1946 and quickly rose to become a headmaster. He was a tutor at St. Joseph’s College, Ondo, and quickly rose to become the Vice-Principal. He went to the Nigerian College of Arts & Science Enugu in October, 1959 as lecturer, but soon became Head of Department (19601961). He moved to the then University of Ife and became Acting Head of Geography Department (1962). On October 1, 1970, he became a Professor of Geography. He then Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences (1972) and later, Dean, Faculty of Administration (1976-77). One of his notable achievements among many was being Chairman, Presidential Planning Committee on the Open University System in Nigeria (1980-81). He was then appointed as pioneer Vice Chancellor of the National Open University (1981-1984). Prof Ojo was born to Pa Sanni Kowe Ojo and Chief (Mrs.) Lydia Aina in Ado-Ekiti on November 1, 1929. He had his primary education at St. George’s Catholic School, Ado-Ekiti, between 1936 and 1942, went on to St. John Bosco’s Training College, Ubiaja (1944-1945), before earning his Senior Cambridge School Certificate in December 1948. In 1950, he obtained the Teachers’ Higher Elementary Certificate, and topped it up with the London Matriculation in June, 1951. He then proceeded to the National University of Ireland in 1953 and finished with a B.A. First Class Honours in 1956, (thus becoming the first African to acquire a First Class Degree in Geography and Economics from Dublin). He later obtained another First Class with his Master of Arts degree in 1957. The Ph.D he obtained from Dublin in April, 1963 was the icing on the cake. Active in the Church and His Community Away from academics, Professor Ojo is also an active member of the Catholic Church, as well as the local

Prof. Ojo communities in Ado-Ekiti and Ife. He is the foundation National Secretary of the Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria (CLCN) from 1973 to 1981. He later became the National President of the CLCN from 1986-1994, and thereafter, a National Life Patron in 1995. He is also a foundation member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in the Vatican from 1983, a post he occupied for seven years.

Prof Ojo served as the Chairman of the Provisional Governing Council of the Catholic University of Nigeria, Abuja (CUNA), from 2005 to 2008. Till now, he continues to serve the Catholic Church in Nigeria in various capacities especially as the author of a good number of religious publications. In recognition of his active participation in the Catholic Church, Prof Ojo was conferred with a Papal Knighthood (Knight of St. Gregory the Great) in 1975. In recognition of the impact he had on the development of his hometown, Prof Ojo holds the traditional chieftaincy title of Asiwaju of Ado-Ekiti. He is also the Otun Maye of Ile-Ife and Balogun of Imesi-Ekiti. He was, for many years, the President of Ado- Ekiti Progressive Union of which he later became a Life Patron. Prof. Afolabi Ojo currently holds the membership of a good number of professional and academic bodies. His awards in such academic membership include Fellows and Consultors; leading to such positions as: Chairman, Editor, President, Patron and more. He is a Fellow of the Geographical Association of the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) and an Honorary Mountaineer of the State of West Virginia, USA. For his meritorious services to Nigeria and humanity, Prof. Ojo holds the national honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) which he was awarded in 2004. Prof Ojo has always been of immense service to Ado-Ekiti over the years. He served as the president of Ado-Ekiti Progressive Union and encouraged and groomed others to take over from him, thereby encouraging the asociation to grow from strength to strength. He has also promoted the growth and development of other institutions, especially National Open University of Nigeria. Prof. Ojo is blessed with three sons and three daughters from his union with Florence Bukunola Ojo (nee Adeyanju), who joined the Church triumphant on March 20, 2012.


ARTS & REVIEW A

PUBLICATION

AYENI-BABAEKO FLAUNTS NEW DRAMA SERIES, NALINGO NAIJA PAGE 69

10.11.2019

ATEXTUALTRIBUTETO ABAYOMI BARBER, THE VICTIM OF A CONSTANT CONSPIRACY Igweze poses before an Abayomi Barber's painting

EDITOR OKECHUKWU UWAEZUOKE/ okechukwu.uwaezuoke@thisdaylive.com


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

68

ARTS & REVIEW\\VISUAL ARTS

A TEXTUAL TRIBUTE TO ABAYOMI BARBER, THE VICTIM OF A CONSTANT CONSPIRACY In his latest book, distinguished by its breezy brevity and cinematic dialogues, Dozie Igweze grants the reader a privileged access into the enigmatic world of a local visual arts luminary Abayomi Barber. Okechukwu Uwaezuoke writes

P

erhaps, it would be spot-on to affirm that Abayomi Barber recently wormed himself back into the industry limelight. The local visual arts colossus, best known for distancing himself from the Western perceptions of African art, turned 91 on October 23, according to Wikipedia. Just as the Lagos art scene was revving up with high-octane events, an art exhibition and a book presentation in his honour at the Hourglass Gallery along Saka Jojo Street in Victoria Island once more beamed the spotlight on this surrealist painter and sculptor. While the week-long exhibition featured sketches related to the book, the book itself compresses the story of the artist’s life in a brief, breezy and matter-offact manner. Titled Abayomi: the Life and Sketches of Abayomi Barber, the hard-cover generouslyillustrated book is the latest of the author Dozie Igweze’s textual tribute to Nigerian visual arts legends. Igweze’s two previous books were on Bruce Onobrakpeya and Duke Asidere. “This story isn’t just about Abayomi. It’s also about his legs and mind,” Igweze informs his readers in an interesting foreword he unpretentiously titles “Opening”. Personifying the artist’s legs and mind is the Hourglass proprietor’s way of wrenching his audience from the embrace of superficial passivity. He wants them actively involved in the narrative and to imagine the artist’s legs and mind engaged in a perpetual conflict. Of the legs, he says: “[they] seemed to have a life of their own. They wanted to walk away from troubles, and boredom, and difficulty. They just wanted to walk away, and to keep walking. And every chance they got they walked.” “The mind,” he continues, “sometimes agreed with the legs; but sometimes went on its way. It was quirky, curious, flighty, and resolute about its freedom. Abayomi was the impossible conductor of mind and legs, the victim of a constant conspiracy.” Thus equipped, the reader accompanies the author in spirit to sometime back in 1972. Place: University of Lagos, at the gate to the vice-chancellor’s precisely. Without warning, the author whimsically begins the narrative with a re-enactment the artist’s encounter with an officious head guard, who barred his way from attending a party at the lodge in honour of the visiting Ethiopian head of state, Emperor Haile Selassie. He had, according to the story, produced a portrait of the visiting foreign

dignitary and this portrait was to be presented the latter by his Nigerian counterpart, General Yakubu Gowon. “Abayomi had been instructed by the Vice-Chancellor to attend and speak with Selassie,” Igweze writes. “He’d been warned to be prompt.” The head guard, whose judgement by appearances seems to be the norm in a materialistic society like Nigeria, obviously couldn’t imagine the plainlooking man standing before him hobnobbing with the dignitaries in the lodge. So, he denied him entry. Having retreated from the gate, the artist had to inveigle himself into the lodge through the backdoor after wending his way through a thicket beside it. The author’s account of this walk to the usually unmanned rear entrance of the V. C.’s lodge not only draws the reader’s attention to the artist’s restless legs, but also introduces him or her to the workings of the latter’s mind. To the creative mind, the play of the moonlight on the leaves offered some possibilities. With a flashback, the author teleports the reader back to sometime in 1940. This was a time when the artist as a 12-year-old took a 79-kilometre walk from the south-western Nigerian town of Ibadan to Ife. “His mother was in Ife with his older siblings, but he had been instructed to remain in Ibadan with his uncle for proper training, which involved copious

amount of beating,” Igweze writes. “Abayomi found this brutal physical imposition much to his distaste and had decided on escape as protest.” Again, this walk presented him an opportunity for his inner musings, which led to his personification of the trees, each with its own peculiar character. “It was like walking down a road full of all sorts of different people. There were robust, cheerful trees with leaves that danced to the skies. There were more reticent trees with their secrets. There were friendly, affectionate trees with happy leaves.” Perhaps, the beauty of this narrative lies in the author’s penchant for brevity. This is even when he takes his time to re-enact scenes from a distant past in cinematic dialogues. Thus, he ensures that there can be no dull moment for even a casual leader, who gains a privileged access into the enigmatic world of a local visual arts luminary. Young Abayomi’s walk from Ibadan to Ife – split into three segments, each representing a day – attests to the steely sense of purpose that has ever since guided his life till date. It also affirms the uniqueness and independence of a human spirit in its struggle through the vagaries of material existence. Even with an ethereal blindfold, which sometimes takes the form of family bond and dogmatic traditions, the resolute creative spirit manages to wriggle itself out of unpleasant situations. Aquick cut to Lagos in 1952 takes the reader to Abayomi's stint as a graphic artist with the advertising agency, The Nigerian Advertiser, owned by K. O. K. Onyioha, a former employee of the late nationalist Nnamdi Azikiwe's West African Pilot. Not even the fact that he liked the idea of being an artist stopped him from moonlighting with Dele Bamgbose's jazz band and later with Victor Olaiya’s The Kool Cats. His restless legs and mind would later see him drift from a studio in the Obalende area of Lagos, where he carved thorns, to Lagos Grammar School, where he had to deal with recalcitrant students as well as to Yaba College of Technology, where the British art instructor extolled his proficiency in portraiture. The restless creative soul soon found himself moving on to other experiences in Ibadan until finally the weaving of fate corralled him into the circumstances that led to his meeting with Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

It was through the latter that he eventually found himself in London in 1961 on then Nigeria’s Western Region scholarship. Part of his brief was to produce a statue of Chief Awolowo. But, it was this that ironically led to his losing his scholarship. This was after he refused on principle to obey Chief Ladoke Akintola’s order to abandon Awolowo’s stature and do his own instead. With the closure of that door, other doors opened. The abrupt stopping of the monthly stipends led to his running out of money. Starvation stalked him until his legs forced him outdoors to an artist’s studio, where he showed his sketchbook to the owner. It was through the latter that he got his first job at Edward Delaney’s studio in 1963. Moving on, he had a stint with the Mancini brothers – Mark and Frederick – before getting introduced to the Croatian sculptor Oscar Nemon, whose studio was in the garden of the Queen mother’s residence at St. James’ Palace. According to Igweze, Abayomi “would work as Nemon’s main assistant for many years until the lure of palm wine distracted him.” The 227-page book is not just about Abayomi’s constant urge to move. Igweze takes the reader through a crash course on the artist’s love life while in London. Ola, his initial paramour, had moved on when he didn’t show he was ready to get married and move back to Lagos. But, he consented to marry his next sweetheart, Bola, who it turned out was not suited to his temperament. Back to the V. C.’s lodge, the concludes the narrative in suspenseful few lines, which compel the reader to fill in the blank spaces. Walking in through the lodge’s kitchen, through which the sound of music and voices drifted to him, it is assumed that the presentation of his portrait went smoothly. True, Igweze skilfully leaves a lot in the biographical account to the readers’ conjectures. Yet, the flow of the big font-sized text is generously interspersed with the artist’s sketches and drawings, which are more eloquent than a thousand words. Not even this beautifully-packaged book is free of avoidable flaws. For instance, the question mark in the second sentence of the foreword is wrongly position at the end of the sentence. Thus, rather than “What’s the difference, you might wonder?”, the sentence should have been “What’s the difference? you might wonder”. Again, in a few instances, the closing quotation marks in dialogues are wrongly positioned. In any case, none of these flaws are seriousness enough to diminish the quality of this book, which compresses Abayomi Barber’s biography into an accessible format.

EXHIBITION

ONOBRAKPEYA HEADLINES LIMCAF GALA AND AWARD NIGHT Olufunke Adepuji

F

or Life in My City Art Festival’s organisers, getting Nigeria’s iconic internationally-recognised artistic luminary Bruce Onobrakpeya to grace its gala and award night holding in Enugu on Saturday, November 16 is a morale-booster. This indeed is a great honour for the annual festival – better known by its acronym LIMCAF –, as it marks its 13th edition. Onobrakpeya, who was one of the pillars of the now defunct revolutionary Zaria Art Society, has further engraved his name in the collective memory through his recent audacious experimental works. Widely acknowledged as a print-maker, painter, sculptor, poet and pioneer in modern African art, the octogenarian preens himself on a career that spans six decades. His deep understanding and fusion of ancient and modern concepts and aesthetics,

which pay tribute to traditional religions, customs and local folklore, are eloquent testimonials of the Natural Synthesis theory for which the Zaria Art Society was known for. In the process, he popularised a wide range of printmaking techniques, which included those he pioneered. Celebrating the deep symbolism of Onobrakpeya’s distinguished presence at the LIMCAF gala and award night, the festival’s art director Dr. Ayo Adewunmi remarked that it was consistent with the vision of LIMCAF in its all-embracing effort to contribute significantly to the development of visual art in Nigeria. Dr. Adewunmi also noted that it was a measure of the annual event’s achievement and impact it was making nationwide that such highly acclaimed practitioners and scholars as Onobrakpeya and El Anatsui are happy to be associated with it. Recall that Onobrakpeya himself organises the bi-annual Harmattan Workshops in Agbarhar Oto, Delta State while Anatsui, formerly with the University of Nigeria, is a member of the US Academy of Letters as well as a patron of the festival, who sponsors the six top winners to Dark’Art, Senegal every other year. Both distinguished art

personalities are recipients of other innumerable national and international prestigious awards. LIMCAF is essentially a competition for young Nigerian artists under 35 years of age in which the national jury panels now include past winners with the aim of building continuity while pushing for the highest possible standards of production and above all while also firing the imagination of the competing artists by enabling them to interact informally with older and high achieving veterans. Meanwhile, the LIMCAF Grand Finale Week kicks off tomorrow, Monday, November 11 with the opening of the Grand Finale Exhibition by Professor Paul Modum, Chairman of the Board of Alliance Française in Enugu. Other events include the Children’s Art Workshop and the Festival Lecture to be given by Professor Emeritus Ola Oloidi of the University of Nigeria on Friday, November 15. t"EFQVKJXSJUFTGSPN-BHPT

Onobrakpeya


69

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

ARTS & REVIEW\\DRAMA

AYENI-BABAEKO FLAUNTS NEW DRAMA SERIES, NALINGO NAIJA Yinka Olatunbosun

T

he Nigerian-German photographer and CEO, Camara Studios, Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko is expanding her portfolio with the new webbased series, titled Nalingo Naija. The series has been created for the digital media to teach Yoruba language and culture, using drama skits, humour and subtitles. Though a nonfluent speaker of Yoruba, Ayeni-Babaeko finds it very fascinating that many Nigerians in diaspora struggle to speak the indigenous language. And the search for platforms for learning the language has led many into unwholesome content online. Walking into her studios last week, she gave an insight into the videography project in a serene atmosphere of hospitality. Ayeni-Babaeko revealed that the Nalingo Naija is a project under CS Production, a subsidiary of Camara Studios. Before veering into this educational and entertainment series, she had been shooting music videos alongside her work in advertising photography for which she is famed. However, the need to consolidate her skills led her into a four-week course at the New York Film Academy where she learnt more about video making, editing and scriptwriting. Panning her large desktop computer further to the right, she went on the YouTube channel, Nalingo Naija to show some samples of the series which are funny and educative at the same time. "We want the videos to be entertaining and simple," she explained. "You have to break it down into sentences with vocabulary that can easily be understood. We created the soundtrack ourselves. You can pause the video and repeat it. You can learn at your own pace." Showing on the screen was the episode titled, "Ipe Pataki" which means "Important Call". This episode features a guest artist, the public relations guru, Adekunle Ayeni who is the CEO, Black House Media. “We have guest actors, because we want to make speaking Yoruba cool again,” she said. “We have a volunteer in Adekunle Ayeni who said he supports this cause so much and that he will be available to act for us anytime. He took it very seriously. I wanted to do a drama skit that is related to him and what he does.” In the said skit, Ayeni is seen receiving a call from "Beyonce" in Yoruba and the call is interrupted by another one just a few seconds into it. Ayeni tells "Beyonce" to end her call so that he can pick "Davido's". It is simply hilarious. Of course, working

with guest artists may present new challenges as AyeniBabaeko recalled. "He speaks really fast,” she observes. “That's the slowest he could do. Even if it feels unnaturally slow, this is the way that people like me can learn. That is why it is essential that I am the director because I know exactly when it is too fast. Imagine if it was a team of Yoruba speakers that did this, it may not work.” Every Wednesday, a new episode will be broadcast on the YouTube channel. Ayeni-Babaeko is a beginner who is also benefiting from the series. She has downloaded some on her mobile phone and watches it on the go repeatedly. Though some may argue that audio series may be as effective, she certainly believes that the visual element plays a key role in making a lasting impression. "There is a connection between the eyes and memory. We need to have visual connection. If you can see, it will be easier to remember. That's why we had to make it entertaining. The subconscious mind works miraculously," she explained. "Each video is about two to three minutes long and is divided into two sections. The first one lets you listen to the vocabulary you need to know for the video. The second part of the video is the play between mostly two to three actors." "The actors speak slowly for the viewer to be able to follow the plot and for easy comprehension. And also, to be able to read the subtitles which are very essential in the learning process. The subtitles in Nalingo Naija are 100% accurate and you do not just have the English subtitles but the Yorùbá subtitles with intonation marks as well," she said adding that the writer, Kola Tunbosun is a consultant on the project. Though Ayeni-Babaeko writes the scripts in English, a Yoruba teacher, Mrs Ajose translates and works with the cast on location to ensure a good use of Yoruba language. Another important aspect of the production is the sound which she has outsourced for quality assurance. Next to be screened was another episode, titled, "Ago Melo Lolu" meaning "What time is it?". It features in the second part a scenario of examination malpractice. A young boy reports to the invigilator that the man sitting beside him is copying his work. The dramatic denial inspires laughter. The whole idea is to keep the production as simple as possible. Actors do not use professional makeup while the natural locale for the skit is used or staged. Various locations such as the classroom, marketplace and

Ayeni-Babaeko offices had been featured in the drama skits. "Nalingo Naija is useful to everyone. Even Yoruba speakers can improve on their spelling and pronunciation with the Nalingo Videos. This is targeted at Nigerians in diaspora. I don't expect Germans to sit down and learn Yoruba but I will be happy if they do," she said with a smile.

FILMS

Film Entries Open for Lekki Film Festival

T

he submission of films for the second edition of the Lekki International Film Festival opens on Thursday, November 14. This is five months ahead of the actual festival events, a shift from the month of June to April. The inaugural festival held in June at the Lekki Coliseum in Lekki Phase 1, Lagos. The dates for 2020 have been scheduled from Monday, April 20 to Saturday, April 25. The 2019 edition featured film entries from national and international film makers. Speakers at the festival forum also included such international experts as Jonathan Haynes, a professor of film at Long Island University, New York and Tony Adah theatre and film studies professor at the University of of Minnesota. Others were Duro Oni until recently a deputy vice chancellor at the University of Lagos, Kingsley Uranta of Channels TV, Segun Oyekunle managing director of Abuja Film Village (who also chaired the festival awards jury), Taju Agboola a seasoned field and studio production expert and retired Vice Air Marshall Femi Gbadebo. Segilola Awolesi, a radio producer who also is the head of corporate relations of the festival, said in Lagos in a release co-signed by the secretary of the jury Augusta Okon: "[The] 2020 Lekki International Film Festival is set to be a lot more exciting with a more programme content pointed towards a greater public engagement. "We are engaging the interest and attention of the distinct age groups with innovative content. We are looking at the upstart professionals which also includes the college grade participants as well as the upwardly mobile social segments. The very mature older

DRAMA BAP Productions’ Man Enough Premieres Today in Lagos

B Austin Aimankhu Fashion designer (Left), a guest and Dapo Adeniyi Lekki International Film Festival Director classes will be met with vintage programmes bordering on history and culture." Among the main award categories for the festival is the film legend award, an award that is not contested for. The festival in conceiving the award intends to connect production culture to history. Awolesi and Okon also stated that "Nigeria has a very rich history of television and film. It is regrettable that some of most important historical film and television assets may have been lost or destroyed. Many of our television and film legends are no longer with us. Those still around are significantly overlooked and unacknowledged in view of the special roles they have played in our development. This partly why it is important to introduce this award." The festival also intends to expose the upcoming generation and intimate them with our rich and diverse culture by direct involvement. This is why smartphone film photography is being introduced into the menu for film submissions.

A special masterclass on smartphone photography will be held and directed by a Nigerian practitioner in the field who is based in New York. The other categories of awards are overall best film award, the best feature film, the best short feature, the best documentary and the best indigenous language film. Others are the best actor award, the best director, the best writing, the best song/ music score. The awards are a plaque, a certificate and a digital festival laurel. The festival seminar, which is one of the key offerings of the events, will feature a diverse cast of speakers from industry leaders in Nigeria and abroad. The festival publishes an annual event magazine with festival highlights and background of speakers and film makers, the film selection, and a whole range of interesting features on Lekki and Lagos. The 2019 magazine visual and textual features on Lekki lifestyles, events having direct and tangential bearing on the film industry. It also featured Lekki people, social engagements and landmarks.

AP Productions’ Man Enough, a stage play directed by Bolanle AustenPeters is set to premiere this afternoon at Terra Kulture in Victoria Island, Lagos. The play, which will be performed at the same venue every Sunday until November 24, features an exciting mix of actors like Tana Adelana, Gideon Okeke, Juliana Olayode, Ayo Ayoola, Moshood Fattah, Ralph Okoro, Josephine Ewuru, and Iyke Okechukwu. Man Enough addresses some of the harsh realities men experience in today’s society, and exposes the pressure they face in dealing with acceptance by women; financial pressure, societal expectations, and negative stereotypes for them to act “man enough”. In the play, the three major characters – Bruno, Onyilo, and Thino – struggle to achieve more while they live in denial of their own realities. Through their stories, the play delves into the life of the modern man and reveals his vulnerability, fears, and the choices he has to make for himself and his family as he tries to portray the traits of traditional masculinity. It also recognises the voices of men crying to be heard, and begging to be saved from a world with unrealistic expectations. Two shows of the play have been scheduled for every Sunday at 3pm and 7pm.


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

70

ARTS & REVIEW\\LITERARY CAFÉ

Ihebuzor's Literary Odyssey Takes off on The Power of Dreams Egged on by his childhood years’ literary passion nurtured by his parents, Chima Ihebuzor gradually asserts himself in a turf peopled by past and current giants and brimming with the promise of new story tellers. Ahead of the launch of his maiden published work, The Power of Dreams: Century of Poems, he spoke with Stanley Nkwazema How do you feel about your mum’s absence at this crucial moment of the culmination of your dreams? I am sad that she is not here to see it. But at the same time I feel that she is proud of me for having done it at all and I hope that I can continue to make her proud even if she is not here. This means a lot to everyone in my family – my father, my brothers and myself. I know if my mum was here, it would have meant so much to her. My siblings are also encouraging. They even ask me about it sometimes and whenever I feel like writing a poem I share it with them. Are you a member of the Abuja Literary Society and who are your mentors? Yes, sometimes I share my poems with the society? I have Dr. James Ile who was my literary Lecturer in Nile University and the recently deceased Ikeogu O.K. He won a literary prize. I listed a poem and a reference he wrote. He read my poems and he was very encouraging to me and it meant a lot to me.

Ihebuzor

P

lease could you briefly walk me through your literary background? My name is Chima Ihebuzor, a rookie author preparing to launch my first literary work - a collection of poems. I reside in Abuja with my father and two brothers. Writing has been a passion since I was a teenager and I have always liked reading and discussing books. Now I am getting set to make a career out of this passion. When did you start writing? I began writing at about 15. My secondary school, the International Community School (ICS) would often give me literary projects to do. I always loved the stories I had to read for literature classes and I always had a good time writing about and analyzing stories. I also had a certain talent for writing poems. I once had a poetry slam in ICS where I read one of my poems and got a good reception. For a while I slackened in writing but over time, regained my passion. This project started when my dad convinced me to write 12 poems in one week as a project. When he saw how good the poems were, we decided to expand it some more. This was sometime in 2016. What is the focus area of your poems? It’s a cross between psychological and sociological writing. Like how certain events or traditions can affect certain people. For example, how colonialism impacts a people or how war can sunder a family. How many pages is this poetry book and what do you hope to achieve with the work? It is 128 pages. I hope that with the success of this work of poetry, I can continue my writing career and hope to expand my writing expertise to include novels because it is where the real success is these days What inspires you? It can come from something I hear

So what is your launching date? The date is November 3, 2019 and its taking place in Owerri. That’s my father ’s town and basically where my family members often gather for special occasions and I want to believe that this is a special occasion. What is the title of this poetry compilation and what inspired the title? ‘The Power of Dreams: Century of Poems’ is the title. The compilation has over a hundred poems and the Power of Dreams is something I’m motivated by. Literature is something I love. This is me saying how dreams can come true. This is something my parents have motivated me to believe and my teachers that I have had the pleasure of been taught by have motivated me to believe. on the news, a certain event or occurrence. Inspiration can flow from even thoughts, how I am feeling right at that moment or even certain feelings I have had in the past; like something that made me happy, depressed or scared me. How long did it take you to compile these poems? This book contains a few literary works I had written in the past but I did not really start the compilation till 2016. I concluded it in 2018. So it took me three years to complete it. You said you are dedicating this book to your mum. Why? My dad also encouraged me to start this project, but my mum has always been very encouraging of me and my brothers. She talked about how much I read and how much I loved writing. As much as my dad

was the one who gave me the idea to start this project, my mum was also pushing and encouraging me to do it as well. She gave me the courage to dig deep into myself and push on with it. She pushed me to be passionate about things. From a young age, she saw how much I loved to read and how much I loved writing. Without her, this project would not have come to fruition. That is why I dedicated this book to her. What did you study for your first degree? I studied Law with Criminology in Hull for my first degree. I studied Literature and English in Nile University for my Master ’s degree. I wanted to do Literature in English because that is what I was really passionate about.

Your counsel to youths – from age 16 to 26? Stick to whatever you’re passionate about; always drive yourselves towards it. If you feel lost and alone, never be ashamed to seek help. Do not be ashamed to ask for advice, if there are things you don’t truly understand. Who proofed your poems and would you like to continue writing or go into academics? I had my father, Dr. Ile, Mr. Ikeogu and a friend of the family Mr. Ekpo proofread the poems. Mr. Fabian Okogu published the book via his publishing firm in Nigeria. Oh yes absolutely I want to continue with my writing, hoping that in the next two or three years at most, I will have a novel prepared. I also want to publish more poems and have a better collection.


SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2019 • T H I S D AY

71


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

72

INFOGRAPH

ADVERTISEMENT

+"-*/(0JT

ƍ*//0$&/5 #IDC ,CNKPIQ VJG RWDNKUJGT QH $SPTT3JWFS8BUDI YCU CTTGUVGF D[ VJG 0KIGTKC 2QNKEG CPF EJCTIGF HQT VGTTQTKUO VTGCUQPCDNGHGNQP[CPFCVVGORVVQVQRRNGVJG%TQUU4KXGT 5VCVG)QXGTPOGPV *G URGPV  FC[U KP LCKN DGHQTG JKU VTKCNUVCTVGF

5JNFMJOF 

+VMZ  /T,CNKPIQRWDNKUJGFCPCTVKENGVKVNGFũ)PX"ZBEF"QQSPWFE"OE%JWFSUFE /NJMMJPOGPS$SPTT3JWFS.JDSPmOBODF#BOLŪ



"VHVTU  *GYCUCTTGUVGFKP.CIQUD[QRGTCVKXGUQHVJG+PVGNNKIGPEG4GURQPUG6GCO QHVJG0KIGTKC2QNKEG



4FQUFNCFS  *GHGNNUKEMCPFYCUTWUJGFVQVJG2QNKEG%NKPKEDWVYCUTGVWTPGFVQVJGHCEKNKV[ YJGTGJGYCUFGVCKPGFFGURKVGVJGFQEVQTKPUKUVKPIJGURGPFUVJGPKIJV



4FQUFNCFS  *GTGVWTPGFVQVJGENKPKECPFYCUFKTGEVGFVQTGUVKPVJGJQURKVCNHQTQDUGTXCVKQP 6JG2QNKEGTGHWUGFCPFVQQMJKODCEMKPVQFGVGPVKQP



0DUPCFS  ,WUVKEG5KOQP#OQDGFCQHVJG(GFGTCN*KIJ%QWTV%CNCDCTFGPKGF/T,CNKPIQDCKN



0DUPCFS  2QNKEGƒNGFCOQVKQPVQCOGPFEJCTIGUCPFUGGMRTQVGEVKQPQHYKVPGUUGU



0DUPCFS  6JGRTQUGEWVKQPEQWPUGNƒNGFHQTCPCOOGPFOGPVQHEJCTIGUCPQTFGTVQRTQVGEVKVU YKVPGUUGU6JGVTKCNLWFIGQTFGTGFVJGRTKUQPQHƒEGTUPGXGTVQDTKPI/T,CNKPIQKPVQVJG EQWTVRTGOKUGUKPEJCKPU



0DUPCFS  6JGQHƒEGTUEWHHGF/T,CNKPIQCPFQPN[TGOQXGFVJGEWHHUCUUQQPCUJGUVGRRGFQWVQHVJGXCP6JGVTKCN UVCNNGFQPVGEJPKECNITQWPFUCUVJGRTQUGEWVKQPFGHGPUGEQWPUGNEQWNFPQVCITGGQPVJGRTQEGUUGUƒNGF



0DUPCFS  %QWTVITCPVUNGCXGHQTRTQUGEWVKQPVQOCUMYKVPGUUGU



0DUPCFS 



/PWFNCFS  6JGECUGYCUCFLQWTPGFVKNN/PWFNCFS  6RXUFH(L(5HVHDUFK

[[[[XTRKS

[XTRMKIVME


73

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

CICERO

Editor:Olawale Olaleye Email:wale.olaleye@thisdaylive.com, SMS: 08116759819

IN THE ARENA

Oshiomhole VERSUS Obaseki

It’s Mutually Assured Destruction The current animosity between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and his estranged predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, is unhealthy for both the ruling APC and the government, writes Olawale Olaleye

S

igns that the duo of Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, would ultimately lock horns in serious disagreement started during the party primaries that ushered in the 2019 general election. As a new comer that he was presumed to be, there were conscious moves to sideline Governor Obaseki and subtly take over the state party leadership from him by deciding those, who ran for elections in the state. That way, he could also be at their mercy. Indeed, the development affected the party in the state especially during the national elections. Although the party managed to stage a comeback during the state assembly elections, by this time, the governor had seen the handwriting and the need for each to mark his territory had begun. But the first indication that the governor understood the signs and was on top of his own game too manifested during the inauguration of the state assembly, which held at night and left out many of the lawmakers believed to be loyal to Oshiomhole. The governor made sure his choice candidate, Frank Okiye emerge speaker, contrary to the extrapolation of those on the other side. He was said to have even conscripted some lawmakers on the other side, many of who feigned ignorance of the real intention of the governor’s camp. Oshiomhole would not have any of this outplay him. But it gradually began to dawn on him that all he had worked for in the state had begun to slip off his grip – particu- Obaseki and Oshiomhole...is it over yet larly his seeming leadership. Even when the leadership of so it could “properly cater to his security”. This, it said, was the National Assembly came to his rescue and demanded following protocol. But Oshiomhole and his people said it a review of the process that led to the inauguration of the was a ploy to further monitor his movements, so, they could assembly, the governor too got the court to ask the federal perfect their subsequent attacks on him. legislature to back off. And the battle continued. Amid these back and forth, Obaseki and Oshiomhole However, the introduction of violence took centre stage, have had some “photo sessions” to give the impression that when thugs believed to be loyal to Obaseki, reportedly all was well. But because it was no more than a move for attacked Mr. Seidu Oshiomhole, younger brother of the APC the ‘gram’, last week’s reported attack on the convoy of the national chairman in Benin. The younger Oshiomhole was governor, bearing amongst others, the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan attacked alongside 14 other lawmakers-elect in the state Akiolu, at the residence of Oshiomhole, finally gave it all some five months ago. away. Again, months after, Oshiomhole alleged that his Edo Whilst the governor expressed concern that his safety State residence, was attacked by thugs believed to be loyal could no longer be guaranteed at the residence of his to the governor during the Sallah holidays. The APC also national chairman, a development he thought was shameful issued a statement to that effect, confirming the attack on and unfortunate; Oshiomhole was unequivocal about the Oshiomhole’s residence. fact that the deputy governor of the state, Philip Shaib, was But the state government denied any such thing through behind the organised attack. the various statements from its spokespersons. Even the state Almost a week after the said attack, recriminations from Commissioner of Police, DanMallam Muhammed dismissed both parties had not ceased. In fact, there is a strong feeling the report as untrue, saying the police ensured the security amongst the observing members of the public now that with of the former governor and saw him off to the airport. the look of things, Obaseki and Oshiomhole might have Interestingly, the state government, at this point requestactivated the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) button ed of Oshiomhole to always intimate it with his itinerary in the ongoing survival battle.

To think that some of their closest friends, including the likes of Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State had allegedly intervened in the crisis and beseeched the both of them to sheathe their swords without either of the parties budging, means the MAD button is already activated. Curiously, their friends had also left the both of them to exhaust themselves especially that a few of them felt there was more to the disagreement that either of the parties was not wiling to divulge, then, there could not have been more from them in terms of intervention. Thus, with the obvious failure of preventive diplomacy as was seen in the many interventions, including those from the presidency, mutually assured destruction might have become inevitable, which ultimately is sure to leave both the ruling APC and the state highly devastated. Clearly, what is even more evident is that the two parties might have underrated each other at inception and with the current level of personal attacks from the two camps, exacerbated by sweeping mistrust, genuine rapprochement might be impossible going forward, whilst the collateral damage due at the end of the mutually assured destruction would be staggering, both in form and content.

P O L I T I CA L N OT E S

Exposing Army’s Extra-judicial Killers!

A

Buratai

graphical video of some men believed to be Nigerian soldiers, who extra-judicially killed an alleged Boko Haram member trended last week, giving the soldiers away as not too different from the terrorist group they seek to decimate. In the video was a man, whose hands and legs were tied, pulled down from the back of a pick-up like an animal and dragged on the ground to a shallow grave, where he was shot multiple times and covered up. Just like that? What even says he was a Boko Haram member? Who confirmed that fact? That was barbaric and atypical of any professionally trained military officer, who understands the rules of engagement in every battle. It was bad enough that

they had no clue this was a typical case of extra-judicial killing as they went ahead to make a video of such impunity and released it to the world. In what ways were they different from the sect members, who often played on the psychology of the people with a view to instilling fears in their victims by publicly executing them in videos that would be released to the world? It is however heartwarming that the army had promised to investigate the development and bring the erring soldiers to book. This is a nation of rule of law and every example to further communicate this must be set. The soldiers involved in this killing must be fished out and made to face the consequences of their choice. Period!


THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

74

BRIEFINGNOTES Obono-Obla’s Self-designed Misadventure Had the ex-Chairman of Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla, who is currently at large, known that his decision to blackmail Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo could backfire, he might have had a rethink, writes Omololu Ogunmade

D

ismissed former Chairman of Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla, must be living with loads of regrets now. Reason? The embattled former chairman of the presidential panel, who was declared wanted penultimate week by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over alleged misconduct, financial impropriety and abuse of office, had last weekend sought to arouse public sympathy. This he did by releasing to the media a letter he had written to President Muhammadu Buhari, where he accused Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo of masterminding his travails, because of his alleged refusal to pander to his (Osinbajo) whims and caprices. In the letter dated August 29, 2019, and addressed to Buhari, Obono-Obla made a series of allegations against the vice-president, saying he made several efforts to frustrate the investigation of some corrupt persons by the disbanded panel. According to him, his decision to resist such pressure allegedly mounted on him by Osinbajo to halt several investigations of corrupt practices and shield their perpetrators through the Deputy Chief of Staff, Ade Ipaye, in the vice-president’s office, landed him in his current travails. Obono-Obla was suspended in August by Buhari and subsequently sacked, over a range allegations, including abuse of office, intimidation and unauthorised malicious investigations, financial impropriety, administrative misconduct, forgery, falsification of records, to mention a few. Faced with prosecution, the embattled Obono-Obla came up with allegations, claiming that he was being witch-hunted by the vice-president, because he chose to be loyal to the president and refused to shield Osinbajo’s cronies. “I started getting worried over the undue interest and unwarranted interference in the affairs of the panel. I vividly remembered how in February 2018, Mr. Ipaye wrote a query to me, when I started investigating a case of misappropriation of N10 billion allegedly belonging to National Health Insurance Scheme by the Auditor-General of the Federation. “In April 2018, Mr. Ipaye invited me to his office and instructed me not to proceed with the investigation of some members of the National Assembly. He said he was directed to do so by the Vice President. I also remembered sometime in January 2018, when the ADC to the Vice President stopped the investigation of a case reported against some functionaries of Akwa Ibom State. “In February 2019, Mr. Ipaye wrote to me instructing me to suspend the activities of the panel on the purported grounds that government was reviewing its operations. He said he was acting on the directives of the vice-president. “So, from the beginning, the office of the Vice-President through Mr. Ipaye saw the panel as an extension of the Office of the Vice President. I incurred their wrath, because I refused to do their dictates and bidding,” some parts of Obono-Obla’s letter read. He had probably thought that the game would change if he could make public the content of his letter to Buhari, which had intended to portray Osinbajo, known as a pastor, as a hypocrite, who aids and abets corruption, especially at a time the vice-president is believed to be facing persecution within the same presidency. But little did he know that he would be worse for it as the accusations now forced the presidency to make public the records of his hitherto unknown alleged atrocities, which only generated deep seated hatred for him and exposed his alleged criminal records. The presidency had on Monday reeled off several records of atrocities allegedly perpetrated by Obono-Obla, saying the embattled ex-chairman, who is currently at large, violated the mandate of the panel and engaged in all manners of rights’ abuses, gross misconduct and actions which exposed the government to ridicule. The records as released by the presidency revealed several records of petitions written by individuals and groups on how Obono-Obla allegedly manhandled or extorted and engaged in all manners of fraudulent practices. According to the release, approval for the constitution of the panel under the chairmanship of Obono-Obla was formally given on July 27, 2017, by Osinbajo in his capacity then as the acting president on the recommendation of the then acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr. (Mrs.) Habiba M. Lawal, pursuant to the provisions of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act Cap. R4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004. However, the presidency said whereas the panel was only mandated to act on matters referred to it in writing by the president or his designate, Obono-Obla violated his job description and flagrantly abused the rights of individuals,

Okoi Obono-Obla government agencies, private companies, and simultaneously extended such abuses to foreign missions in Nigeria. The release claimed such flagrant abuse and maladministration resulted in a series of complaints and petitions that culminated in the intervention of the vice president through the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. It also said following the intervention, Obono-Obla submitted a written undertaking dated November 10, 2017, where he pledged to thenceforth “only act on a written mandate received from the Presidency, and will seek authorisation from the Presidency to undertake fresh mandates in accordance with extant laws of the Federation.” But despite the undertaking, the release stated that, Obono-Obla’s alleged atrocities continued unabated, recalling how his alleged abuse of office included applying for forfeiture of properties, which it said the panel had no power to do even though “two courts respectively held that the panel has no powers to apply for forfeiture of properties”, because “the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act 2004 did not empower the panel to initiate and prosecute criminal charges against anybody.” The presidency also recalled how the courts ruled that the panel’s functions came to an end “upon its compliance with Section 4(4) of Act which requires it to, at the end of its investigation, submit its findings to the Head of the Federal Government.” Buttressing its submission that the presidency received several complaints and petitions over alleged abuse of office by Obono-Obla, it proceeded to release details of some of the atrocities as contained in the petitions. “The under-listed petitions are just samples of dozens of petitions received by the Office of the Vice President. It is worthy of note that there was no referral to the Panel, from the Presidency, of any of the matters mentioned in the petitions. “Petition dated 28 November 2017 from Ugochukwu Okwesili, Head Litigation, United Bank for Africa challenging a demand by the Panel for the statement of accounts of four of its customers in relation to a matter he claimed had been thoroughly investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of Police, the Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Ministry of Justice, and clearance was issued by the three authorities. “Petitions dated 2 January 2018 and 16 May 2018 from Peter N. Eze, solicitor to Senator Ike Ekweremadu, challenging allegations by the Panel that the senator had illegally acquired the official residence of the Deputy Senate President and directive to vacate same and declare his assets to the Panel; and filing by the Panel of an application at the Federal High Court for an order to temporarily attach/forfeit certain properties of the Senator. The petitioner claimed that there was no prior invitation or impartial investigation by the Panel. “Petition dated 8 February 2018 from Martin A. Aguda Esq. to the HAGF challenging the decision of the Panel to investigate a joint venture involving its client and the

Nigerian Ports Authority in respect of the Calabar Channel Management, which was subjudice at the time being the subject matter of Suit No. LD/3204SMW/2017 between Nigerian Ports Authority v Niger Global Engineering and Technical Services Limited & 6 Ors and Suit No FHC/L/ CS/1296/2017 between Nigerian Ports Authority v Calabar Channel Management Limited & 2 ors. “Petition dated 21 February 2018 from A. M. Ayine FCA, Auditor-General of the Federation to the HAGF requesting the latter to determine the question of whether the Panel had legal authority or responsibility over ‘public funds’ since its name indicated ‘public property’, or power to issue instructions or directives to the Accountant General of the Federation. This resulted from a letter from the Panel directing the Accountant General of the Federation to: “Furnish it with details of a purported withdrawal without proper authorisation from the Treasury Single Account of the sum of Ten Billion Naira (N10,000,000,000.00) belonging to the National Health Insurance Scheme; and for the Accountant General of the Federation to complete and return, within 30 days, Declaration of Assets Form to the Chairman of the Panel. “Petition dated 1 March 2018 from Alhaji Tijani Musa Tumsah, Vice President of both the Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative and Victim Support Fund to the HAGF alleging harassment and malicious prosecution by the Panel, which he attributed to his refusal to influence contracts in favour of its Chairman and refusal to donate towards the public presentation of his book titled ‘All Progressives Congress, the Making of a Change Agent’ because of factual inaccuracies,” the release said among several others. The release also stated that Unity Bank Plc submitted a petition detailing the panel’s alleged order for reconciliation exercise following a request on September 7, 2018 by the panel requesting for hard and soft copies of statements of accounts of both naira and domiciliary accounts of 16 departments and agencies of the federal government with the allegations that there were arbitrary/excess bank charges on their accounts. It listed the departments and agencies as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and National Examinations Council (NECO). Others were Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri Refineries, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). It added: “The bank alleged that none of the above listed agencies were aware of the investigation and although the reconciliation was ongoing with the NNPC, NPA and NCS, the Panel has issued demand notices and demonstrated unwillingness to admit further evidence.” Furthermore, the presidency said Obono-Obla, in a letter dated March 19, 2019, directed the bank to refund the sum of $15,561,769.99 and N1,488,255.55 to the federal government through the panel’s recovery account with the Central Bank of Nigeria. It also said another petition by one Adejo-Ogiri D. Owoicho, solicitor to Alhaji Adamu Teku, on June 13, 2019, reported how his client’s house at Gwarimpa, Abuja, was marked for seizure and reallocation by the panel, “for failure to give a bribe of Twenty Million Naira (20,000,000.00) to a certain Professor Kester.” According to the release, the bribe was “to facilitate the interception of an investigation report to the panel and prevent a letter of complaint/invitation from being issued as a result. He had claimed that the money would be shared on a 50/50 basis with Mr. Obla.” It also said in an email correspondence on June 18, 2019, the Solicitor General of the Federation submitted some documents revealing how Obono-Obla engaged the services of Omojay Limited as auctioneers, using the Federal Ministry of Justice as a cover. It added that Omojay Limited was instructed by the panel to auction several houses, landed properties and automobiles, highlighting various categories in which the assets were meant to be sold. Respectively, it highlighted the total value of the properties to be sold at N2.364 billion, N885million, N583 million, N382 million, N294 million and N235 million, adding that the value of two categories of automobiles to be auctioned were valued at N172.4 million and N308.05 million respectively. The presidency, therefore, said the alleged criminal acts were perpetrated by Obono-Obla’s panel in addition to physically assaulting some individuals, including women, who had to be hospitalised.


75

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

CICERO/ISSUE

EKITI LG CRISIS Between S’Court Ruling and Community’s Grouse Recently, the Supreme Court declared that the headquarters of Ilejemeje Local Government of Ekiti State should be Eda Oniyo and not Iye-Ekiti. But the Iye-Ekiti community went to high court, which has raised considerable highbrows about the abuse of court process. But as Shola Oyeyipo writes, the community claimed that since it was never part of the original suit, perhaps, the state government needed to explain its own role via another court process

T

he long drawn legal battle over the siting of the headquarters of Ilejemeje Local Government area of Ekiti State went all the way to the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court. The apex court affirmed that the headquarters of the local government be moved from Iye-Ekiti to Eda Oniyo-Ekiti. This would seem to have settled the matter, as the Ekiti State government did not waste time implementing the letters of the judgment. The deputy governor of the state, Bisi Egbeyemi, who announced the implementation of the judgment said, “By virtue of the judgment, Eda-Oniyo is the only recognised headquarters of Ilejemeje Local Government. The headquarters of Ilejemeje Local Government and its machinery are hereby relocated from Iye-Ekiti to Eda Oniyo-Ekiti.” One would have expected that the matter would have been put to rest. But the Iye-Ekiti community, which was at the receiving end of the judgment has kicked, claiming that there were sundry issues, which the Supreme Court judgment did not take into consideration. The community, through the National President of Iye-Ekiti Development Association, IDA, Engineer Femi Kupolati, said while the community fully respected and was always willing to abide by the sanctity of the nation’s judiciary, claimed that going by the pronouncement of the Court of Appeal, the state government ought to have presented to the Supreme Court the Local Government Administration Law No. 2 of 1999, which affirmed Iye-Ekiti as the headquarters. “The entire Iye community received the Supreme Court ruling with great shock. One, the Court of Appeal already declared the case as being statute barred. The fact remains the local government relocation was done by the then Federal Military Government and not the state and there was a memo to that effect, which was sent to the state government. And as a result of this, the Government of Ekiti State in line with 1999 Constitution already did the needful by passing a law affirming Iye-Ekiti as headquarters of Ilejemeje Local Government.” Kupolati said, while he would not claim there was a miscarriage of justice, he could understand that the apex court had delivered its judgment on the basis of the level of information available to it. “The state failed to respond or appear in court while the case lasted,” Kupolati stated. While the Supreme Court might have given its judgment, which is binding on all parties involved, including the state government, the Iye-Ekiti community might have a case after all. Perhaps, there is need to go down memory lane to understand the grouse of the Iye-Ekiti community. In 1996, after the creation of Ekiti State from the old Ondo State, five additional local government were created for the state to bring the number to the present sixteen. These were Gbonyin Local Government, Efon Alaaye Local Government, Emure Local Government, Ise/Orun Local Government as well as the controversial Ilejemeje Local Government. The headquarters was initially sited at Eda Oniyo before the Federal Military Government through the Provisional Ruling Council, changed the headquarters to Iye-Ekiti. In November, 1999, the Ekiti State House of Assembly and the Executive passed a statute entitled ‘Local Government Administration Law No. 2 of 1999’, which backed up the relocation of Local Government headquarters to Iye-Ekiti. As expected, this did not go down well with the Eda-Oniyo community. The community went ahead to challenge the relocation in court. They sued the Ekiti State

Egbeyemi government and strangely, the state government did not participate in the proceedings. “No witness gave evidence on behalf of the State. The trial court just granted the prayers of Eleda of Eda-Oniyo,” the lawyer to Iye-Ekiti community, Taiwo Kupolati, declared in a full-page advert in some national dailies. However, in giving its judgment, the trial court, said it had not been able to find the statute or legislation by which the headquarters of Ilejemeje Local Government was relocated to Iye-EKiti. The interpretation of this is that the state government did not present it during the trial. When the matter went to the Appeal Court, the appellate court averred that Eda-Oniyo was statute-barred hence the relocation of the headquarters to Iye-Ekiti could not be reversed. The case, as expected, proceeded to the Supreme Court. At the apex court, it was stated that while it agreed that the headquarters had been relocated to Iye-Ekiti, the law to that effect had not been validly promulgated. The Supreme court stated: “The headquarter of Ilejemeje Local Government Area was a product of statute and that since NO LAW has been validly promulgated that has relocated the headquarter of the Local Government aforesaid, the act of the Respondent had no legal basis.” Yet, the Ekiti State Government promulgated Local Government Administration LAW NO. 2 OF 1999 on 26 November 1999, which relocated the headquarters to IyeEkiti. It remains to be seen why the state government did not present this statute during the court proceedings.

After the judgment of the Supreme Court, the Iye-Ekiti Community wrote to Ekiti State government and queried why the statute enacted in 1999 relocating the headquarter to Iye-Ekiti was not presented to the Supreme Court. The Government neither acknowledged nor acted on the letter. The state government was said to have set up a committee to which Iye-Ekiti community was not invited. The Iye-Ekiti had then proceeded to the High Court filing a case joining the Attorney General of the state and the traditional of Eda-Oniyo as parties. When asked if this was not abuse of court process, the lawyer to the Iye-Ekiti community, Taiwo Kupolati, said it was not and it was not disregarding the pronouncement of the Supreme Court. His words: “Iye-Ekiti Community not being party to the earlier proceeding could not apply to the Supreme Court for review and the Supreme Court does not have original jurisdiction over claims of declaration by individuals. The only means for venting the grievance of Iye-Ekiti Community and seeking justice is by filing a new action in the High Court with the Attorney general of Ekiti State and the Oba of Eda Oniyo as parties.” Kupolati claimed that it would be unfair to say, as being claimed in some quarters, that the Iye-Ekiti community was challenging the pronouncement of the Supreme Court. He stated that the state government should be able to explain to the whole world why it continually refused to tender the statute it promulgated in court, which should have guided the Supreme Court in its decision.

NOTES FOR FILE

Beyond the Border Closure

Hamid Alli

Since the Nigerian borders were closed many weeks ago, the federal government has scored impressive points and savoured some popularity from this and across the world, where a majority of the people reckoned the move was in order, not only to tame smuggling and curb corruption, but also to encourage local productions and by extension improve the economy in general. First, there have been questions on the period of time the borders would be shut, because of its negative effects on genuine businesses. The January date is still shaky. Two, border closure is not sufficiently a strategy that could contain the concerns at the Nigerian borders

in terms of its inadequacies. This is why many have come to the conclusion that border closure was not what Nigeria needed but a competent and effective customs service, because not only is the closure not a strategy, it is also not sustainable. In this circumstance, therefore, the best solution to getting an efficient customs service is to reform the agency and border control in totality – automate its operations, reduce human interaction, expand the road networks and enforce duties and levies. That’s all! The closure is fast becoming a failed choice, because it is not sustainable.


76

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

CICERO/REPORT

PDP’s mega rally in Bayelsa

How the Parties Stand in Bayelsa, Kogi Elections A week away from the November 16 governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States, the parties are already consolidating their chances, write Emmanuel Addeh and Ibrahim Oyewale

A

ll things being equal, a week from today, the people of Bayelsa and Kogi States would file out in their large numbers to decide for the state, persons that would lead the state for another four years. While in Bayelsa, the incumbent governor, Seriake Dickson has served out his constitutional two terms and would not be seeking re-election, his Kogi State counterpart, is billed to come back, having just served his first term. As it is with most elections, the journey thus far has been fraught with a lot of misgivings from the various contending interests in the respective states. From the crises that attended the primaries of both parties and the efforts at reconciling the aggrieved persons, the election of November 16, is though assuming shape not to the extent of showing clearly who might get what. Thus, with the elections just a week away from today, this state of the parties in the two states reveals, where and how each of the parties stand in the emerging equation even though the pictures may not be as distinct as expected.

Bayelsa in Last Minute Pitches

Despite their largely colourless campaigns, further imperiled generally by last minute cancellation of schedules and sudden postponements, the two major political parties in contention for the Creek Haven, Bayelsa’s seat of power, are gradually winding up what would at best pass for poorly funded and badly executed drive to win votes of the electorate. But, the ‘show must go on’ phrase in show business, which literally means that regardless of what happens, a plan must be seen to a logical conclusion is the force holding down the election of Saturday, November 16. So, this coming week, the campaigns will rev to a halt even though they have been largely uninspiring with no specific programmes and policies while they lasted. In all, it’s mostly been a duel between two mudslingers, namely the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), which has also failed to elevate political discourses beyond the usual ‘ my father’s farm is bigger than your father’s’. As the drive by each of the two big parties to persuade the electorate to vote them ends this week, the question that has also remained unanswered is: “Where are the other 44 other political parties cleared to contest the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) aside the PDP and APC?” A noticeable highlight of the engagements of both parties have also been the near absence of Timipre Sylva, believed to be the godfather of David Lyon and who almost singlehandedly picked him to run for the top seat, from the campaigns while former President Goodluck Jonathan has stayed away from that of the PDP. While Jonathan’s body language remains confusing, with some of his close allies returning to work for Senator Douye Diri, the PDP’s standard bearer; Sylva seems to have been very engrossed in his new appointment as the Minister of State, Petroleum, which is keeping him away from playing active role, publicly in the APC campaign. But how do the candidates stand and what are their chances. As it is, the contest is a straight one between Diri of the PDP and Lyon of the APC, with the rest having gone into oblivion, except the Accord Party candidate, Ebizimor

PDP members gather in Kogi for Wada’s sake Diriyai, who has shown some flashes of brilliance, especially in the open debate organised for all the candidates, which was conspicuously shunned by Lyon of the APC. Diri and his backers, chief of which is Governor Dickson, continue to list his ‘exposure’, experience in government, his passion for the Ijaw cause as some of his biggest assets and keep characterising the opponent, Lyon, as lacking the experience needed to govern Bayelsa. The Diri team also casts aspersions on the perceived inability of the APC candidate to communicate or articulate his views in public, a weakness that has become very pronounced since the campaign began. Dickson and Uche Secondus, the National Chairman of the PDP had maintained that the APC leader in the state, Sylva, should publicly apologise to the people for picking a man like Lyon, who to them should go and contest for councillor’s seat before attempting to do a task as complex as that of the governor of a state. “I will like David Lyon to go to Ijaw National Academy and interact with the students there. Let him tell them his life story, because everyone has a story. For example, I started out as a policeman. I worked my way up by dint of hard work. “All of us come from very humble beginnings. I was a party member, then national legal adviser of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). We shouldn’t write anybody off, but the matter he’s coming for is a serious one. Let’s know his views” Dickson recently said while trying to diminish, nay de-market the APC candidate. In contrast, he positioned Diri as educated, enlightened, focused, prudent and one, who would not be intimidated to do the bidding of anybody outside the Ijaw interest. Born 60 years ago, Diri from Kolokuma/Opokuma,

attended the College of Education, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where he got his NCE. He also attended the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and obtained his Bachelors of Education degree in Political Science in 1990. He’s been a teacher, first National Organising Secretary of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Executive Secretary, Centre for Youth Development in Bayelsa State, Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Chairman of the PDP Disciplinary Council, Bayelsa, Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Principal Executive Secretary, member Federal House of Representatives and currently a senator. However, in response, the APC loyalists retorted that those who had spoken ‘big grammar’ as governors in the past, including the incumbent were not able to develop the state even though they were largely educated. So, it is not out of place these days to see t-shirts with inscription like ‘who grammar epp’, loosely translated ‘ grammar or fluent English will not help develop the state. Grammar aside, Lyon’s biggest political benefactor, Sylva feels that no other person has been more suited for the job than his protégé, adding that the transformation of Bayelsa would be obvious in Lyon’s first 100 days in office. “We are bringing security. Armed robbery and killings are taking place. The unfortunate thing today, is that after ransacking your house, they (thieves) ask you for your pot of soup. He (Dickson) has so impoverished Bayelsans that they have forgotten that there’s money in this state. Today, people are only looking for food to eat. “The David Lyon we are bringing is a security expert. He’s an empowerment and development expert. In the first 100 days, Bayelsa State will start seeing changes. Let me assure you that David Lyon will give you jobs”, Sylva opines.


77

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

CICERO/REPORT t HOW THE PARTIES STAND IN BAYELSA, KOGI ELECTIONS t

Continued from Page 76

APC members at its Kogi rally

Oshiomhole at Bayelsa APC rally Lyon was born on the 20th December 1970, in Olugbobiri Community, Olodiama clan, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area. He attended Saint Gabriel’s State School Olugbobiri and then community secondary school, before proceeding to Rivers State College of Education, where he obtained the National Certificate of Education (NCE). He’s currently an oil and gas security contractor to a major international oil company operating in the state. On the surface, discounting the nuances, it appears easy to pontificate on where the strongholds of both parties are in the eight councils. For the APC, Brass, where Sylva comes from, Southern Ijaw, where Lyon hails from and Nembe where the APC has a foothold might be their best bets. For the PDP, it might well be Yenagoa, the state capital, Kolokuma/Opokuma where Diri, the PDP candidate comes from, Sagbama, Dickson’s home council and Ekeremor, where Senator Lokpobiri hails from. But Lokpobiri victory is currently in court against Lyon over the APC ticket. Ogbia, Jonathan’s council, appears more of a battleground, at least on the surface.

In Kogi, It’s Pervasive Tension

Barely one week to the governorship election in Kogi State, all the contending political parties had revved their electioneering particularly, the two major political parties – the APC and the PDP, seeking to wrest power from the incumbent occupant of the Lugard House. In the past two weeks, the political landscape in the Confluence State has been fully charged with political activities in line with the timetable reeled off by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) towards the successful conduct of free, fair, credible and above all, conclusive gubernatorial election in the state.

Prior to the commencement of the campaigns, the 23 political parties contesting the number seat in the state, INEC had assured Nigerians that the Commission was ready to discharge its constitutional responsibility to conduct free, fair, credible and conclusive governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States respectively. National Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, restated the commitments of the electoral body to delivering credible election in the two states. Yakubu, however, expressed concerns over the actions and utterances of some political actors, saying they were inimical to the fragile peace being enjoyed in the states and implored politicians to play by the rules. Earlier, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Professor James Apam, also said the Commission was ready to conduct peaceful election, saying INEC had already commenced the election process in Kogi. As a result, he said INEC had already issued permanent voter cards to about 10,000 eligible voters at the time with about 160,646 unclaimed PVCs. Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi and flag bearer of the APC, stated that as the chief security officer of the state, he had sworn to an oath to protect lives and property, stressing that all the reports that emanated from the state during the last general election were not the true reflection of what happened in the State. The PDP candidate, Musa Wada, called on security agencies to look into certain allegations, like the one concerning a chief alleged to be training a private army in the state, adding that his ambition was not worth the blood of anybody, and that “if we are practicing democracy, there should not be no room for militarizing election in Kogi State.” Thus as, the two major political parties continued to strategise and outwit each other, the race has also been reduced

to a two -horse race in confluence State. At the flag off of the APC campaign recently in Idah, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole ignited the campaign for Bello’s reelection bid. Osinbajo, who presented the APC flag to Bello, expressed optimism that he would emerge victorious in the election and appealed to the electorate to come out en masse to vote for Bello and his running mate, the Deputy Edward Onoja. Oshiomhole, in his remarks, described Bello as a tested and trusted politician, who has performed excellently during his first tenure, adding that the party’s candidate has passion for the sustainable development of the state and would not disappoint the people. Director General of the Campaign Council, Senator Smart Adeyemi said with the show of love from the eastern people, it was crystal clear that the party would garner nothing less than 70 per cent of the votes. Also, During PDP’s campaign kick-off at the Confluence Stadium, Lokoja, Secondus said that the party was ready to recapture the state come November 16. He explained that the incoming PDP administration would move the state out of the wilderness. He appeal also called on the people of Kogi West to vote massively for Senator Dino Melaye to return to the red chamber of National Assembly, adding that Melaye was an international man and must not be allowed to go into oblivion. Governor Dickson, who spoke on behalf of seven governors of the party, called for peaceful election in Kogi State and stressed that election was not war. He also said Kogi under the incoming PDP administration would emancipate the people of the state. Wada, on his part, pledged to put smiles on the faces of the people of the state if voted into office. He said he and his running mate, Samuel Bamidele Aro, would revive every segment of the economy in the state. Former governor Idris Ichalla Wada, who was on campaign tour of Dekina local government area, urged the electorate in Kogi to come out to vote for Wada, while appealing to members of the PDP to work assiduously to ensure the victory. But pundits, and civil society organisations have continued to express concerns over the possible break down of law and order before, during and after governorship election in the state, based on early warning signs observed since the commencement of campaigns, especially with respect to hate speeches and attacks on personality rather than issues. A political scientist and social analyst, Folorunsho Babatunde Akolade, berated the ruling the two parties for not telling the electorate what they have achieved and what they intend to do to improve the standard of living of the common man in the state. “Rather, what we observed was incitement, ethnic sentiments and threat to lives and property of ordinary citizens of the state.” Also, civil groups like the Search for Common Ground, Yiaga African and Conscience for Human Rights and Conflicts Resolution had observed that the utterances of the political actor and their supporters could instigate violence. They lamented that using ethnic sentiments had already heightened tension and therefore called on security agents and the media to prevent the breaking of law and order in the confluence state. Sadly, the two major ethic groups in the state the Igalas and the Ebiras are currently on each other’s nerves. But the coalition of umbrella Development Associations has called on leaders to discourage those using ethnic sentiment to score political points. National Presidents of Ebira Peoples Association EPA, Mr. Adeiza Abdulrahman, Igala Cultural Association ICDA, Mr. Abubarka Sodiq and Okun Development Association ODA, Mr. Femi Mokikan, jointly addressed the newsmen in Lokoja, saying there was need to build bridges across the geographical divides of the state, using the instrumentality of associations. The Coalition believed that the move was critical to promoting peace, unity and understanding without which development would remain a mirage.


78

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

CICERO/ONTHEWATCH

Sowore: Is the DSS Playing a Mind Game? A statement at the weekend by the Department of State Security that the reason it had not released the founder of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowopre and his partner, Olawale Bakare, was because no one came for them, belies logic. Shola Oyeyipo writes

T

wo days after the Department of State Services (DSS) refused to release the founder of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowopre and his partner, Olawale Bakare following a fresh bail terms by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, the security agency has come out to claim the reason Sowore was still in its custody, was because no one had come for him. A statement by its Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunanya, confirmed that the DSS “has received the Court Order for the release of Omoyele Sowore,” but added that, “It is important that the public notes that since the receipt of the Order, no person has turned up at the DSS to take delivery of him. This becomes imperative for reasons of accountability. “However, the Court has been properly briefed on this development and the steps being taken to ensure compliance with its Order.” According to the statement, the DSS also noted that, “The Service, under the leadership of Yusuf Magaji Bichi (fwc), as the Director General, is not a lawless organisation and will never obstruct justice or disobey Court Orders. It, therefore, affirms that it will do all that is needful once the appropriate processes have been concluded.” Although either by accident or design, Sowore was forced to sleep in the DSS detention all weekend again, making it his 96th day in detention today, it may not be out of place to infer that the nation might be fast inching towards anarchy. This is not just because men of the DSS flagrantly refused to release Sowore and Bakare even though their statement appears to belie logic, because impunity might have become the signature tune of the current administration. The news was first that the DSS had on Wednesday turned back the court bailiff and the defendants’ lawyers, who went to serve the court order signed by Justice Ijeoma after the Sowore... free at last perfection of bail conditions, on the grounds that they had the judge recently passed a snide comment, suggesting that closed for the day, at 3:30pm. This had also given meaning to the views of a staunch critic Sowore and Bakare had been abandoned. The federal government had dragged Sowore and Bakare to of President Muhammadu Buhari and chieftain of pan-Yoruba court on seven-count charge of treasonable felony, cyberstalksocio-political organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who had never agreed that the Nigerian leader was capable of ing and money laundering. When Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja transforming into a true democrat. initially granted them bail and dismissed the objection raised At every given opportunity, Adebanjo always referred to by the DSS to his bail, there were reports in some national Buhari as a dictator with anti-democratic principles and this is dailies that the government planned to report him to the exactly what is playing out in Sowore’s case. National Judicial Council (NJC) on the account that he granted The duo of Femi Falana (SAN) and Adeyinka OlumideFusika (SAN), who appeared for Sowore and Olawale Bakare, bail to Sowore. Though the claim was that anyone standing trial for treasonhad pointed fingers at the Nigerian secret police. The lawyers able felony was not entitled to bail and as such, Justice Taiwo said they were unable to defend the accused persons, because shouldn’t have granted them bail, many Nigerian were aware of the refusal of the SSS to release them after the last order of that those were trumped up charges and also questionable. Justice Ijeoma. The charges seemed designed to keep him away and preEven where the president’s handlers were openly against vent him from ‘instigating’ Nigerians against the government, castigation and classification of their principal as Adebanjo which is believed to have continued to fail the aspirations of would, instances abound to strengthen the septuagenarian’s those who looked forward to genuine change and prepared to position that the President Buhari leadership is not capable showcase their angsts. of complying with all the tenets of democracy, particularly, its Since the principle of natural justice suggested that no penchant for ignoring court orders. person could judge a case in which they have an interest It is evidently clear that the DSS was doing the bidding of encapsulated in the Latin thus: ‘nemo judex in causa sua, the government of the day and this might have corroborated meaning “no-one is judge in his own cause,” being a cardinal the views that the activist’s failure to align with some powerful forces within the system had led to his continued detention point in jurisprudence, the government and the DSS shouldn’t have assumed that those allegations against an accused person despite various court rulings granting his bail. should be taken hook, line and sinker by the court. It is similar tyranny that explains why the government The reported shock of the Nigerian security and intelligence has continued to ignore several court orders demanding the community over Justice Taiwo’s judgment only pointed to one release of a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo thing, a mindset targeted at ensuring that the political activist Dasuki; the leader of the outlawed Islamic sect, Shiite, Sheik spent a longer time behind bars and that best explained Ibrahim El-Zakizaki and others awaiting trials. These have continued to put the administration in bad light, why the DSS initially refused to comply with the court order granting them bail. painting the government as having no iota of respect for the Earlier explaining why it opposed the request by Sowore rule of law. and his co-defendant, to be released on bail pending the This was again exhibited when Sowore and Bakare were determination of the allegation that he committed a treasonarrested and since kept in detention for conceiving the idea of able felony, government tagged him as “a threat to national #RevolutionNow protest to demand better governance from security”. the government. Government lawyers led by Mr. Hassan Liman (SAN), Although this time, the fault was not entirely that of the expressed fear that once set free, Sowore would organise government, but of Sowore and Bakare, who were unable to another revolution. satisfy the conditions set for their bail. Drawing inference from the case of the leader of the But many had believed that the bail conditions put in place proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, by Justice Ojukwu, for their release were questionable after who fled Nigeria after he was granted bail on a similar charge she took over the case, thus worsening their plight. Indeed,

and noting that Sowore was based in the United States of America especially, that his charges attract capital punishment that could earn him life imprisonment if found guilty, he is likely to jump bail. Whilst a cross section of Nigerians still expressed disapproval for government’s decision to ignore the previous bail granted the activist by a court of coordinate jurisdiction, Justice Ojukwu handed down a new bail conditions that had hitherto remained a talking point. She had initially granted Sowore bail of N100m on October 4 and two sureties in the same amount and barred him from travelling out of Abuja. She also ordered him to deposit N50m in the account of the court as security. Bakare, on the other hand, was granted bail for N50m with a surety in the same amount and barred him from travelling out of his base in Osogbo, except while coming for the trial in Abuja. According to the judge, the sureties, who must be resident in Abuja, must also have landed assets worth the bail sum in Abuja and should deposit the original title documents of the assets with the court. She further ordered that the defendants should remain in the custody of the DSS pending, when they were able to meet their bail conditions. But following public outcries and the fact that Sowore and Bakare were unable to meet the conditions, their lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), applied for variation of the terms and asked the court for leniency. The judge, as a result, set aside the previous conditions of N50 million security deposit by one of the sureties and also reduced the N50 million bail of the second defendant, Bakare, to N20 million while their conditions stand. The charges against Sowore and the bail conditions have continued to elicit reactions among Nigerians, who feel the government was only working to silence the opposition and dissenting voices by making the two scapegoats. Recently, a victim of similar detention by a state governor, the Convener, Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, said the bail condition imposed on Sowore and Bakare was a mockery of judiciary and travesty of justice. He said: “It makes mockery of our judicial system if the said offence allegedly committed by Omoyele Sowore would attract such conditions while the politicians, who looted and are still looting our commonwealth will be given light bail. “We understand that it is the nature of the offence that determines the bail that is given to a defendant but in Sowore’s case, it is ridiculous and laughable. Bail must be exercised judiciously and judicially in order not to undermine the right of the defendant.” Sowore’s wife, Opeyemi, said in an interview with a US-based media that the amount set for the bail “is outrageous, almost impossible to meet.” According to her husband’s lawyers, she called it “stringent.” “It is a step backwards for free press,” Mrs. Sowore said, contending that the ruling by Justice Taiwo stands and that the Nigerian authority was in violation of the order. She also claimed not to have spoken to her husband since August, because the Nigerian government stopped all communication between them after she gave an interview to Democracy Now. There was also the belief in many quarters that Sowore and Bakare were not initially able to meet their bail condition, not because there was no one to help, but the possibility that government could go after whoever did, sending their agents to query their source of wealth and media shame them. However, while a lot of Sowore’s supporters hang on to the promise by his lawyer, Falana, that he would take appropriate steps to ensure that he and Bakare gained their freedom as soon as possible, those in the corridor of power in the Aso Rock, must not be oblivious of the fact that the President Buhari’s regime was fast attracting condemnations across the world. There is no doubting the fact that this case amongst many others has continued to put the administration in bad light, even though it had begun to look like Sowore and Bakare were at their mercy. But with the DSS forced out of its mischief corner to say it was ready to release him to his people whenever they come forward – the same people that had been itching to have him reunite with his family, coupled with the needless drama that ensued at the DSS office on Saturday after all its pretence – it is hoped that Sowore would be freed latest by tomorrow or next.


T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

79

CICERO/ISSUE

Yemi Osinbajo: The Heat Is Real! Last week’s disengagement of some aides in Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s office may have further confirmed insinuations doing the rounds about plans to whittle down the influence of the nation’s number two citizen, writes Raheem Akingbolu

L

ike drama, politics is full of make-believe and window dressing. Even when they have so much against one another, with contrasting interests, politicians meet, greet and genuflect. This, perhaps aptly captures the mood in the presidency, where President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo give Nigerians the impression that all is well. Barely a month after a subtle move to checkmate the influence of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in the presidency had stirred the hornet’s nest; the news that some of the Presidential aides in the Vice President’s office had been relieved of their appointments had sent a fresh jitter down the nation’s political landscape. Since the issue was made public, not a few Nigerians have been wondering what could be responsible for the continuous witch-hunting of the Vice President. While a section of the public links the problem with the supposed presidential ambition of Osinbajo, it is believed in some quarters that some members of the cabal in the presidency don’t like the face of the vice-president and are thus bent on frustrating him. But beyond all the insinuation, a source in the presidency, who pleaded to remain anonymous, confirmed to THISDAY that the recent issue was as a result of the weekend’s perceived vote of confidence passed on the embattled VP by the Emir of Daura, without the express consent of the President. According to the source, the sudden plan to disengage the aides was a knee-jerk reaction by a top presidential aide, who believed the position of the revered Emir, undermined President Muhammadu Buhari. Thus, the disengagement was regarded as a calculated attempt to ridicule Osinbajo, because the President was said to have already personally approved the appointment of all the 35 aides and also instructed their deployment to other ministries as part of a reorganisation in the presidency, proposed to him by the same top presidential aide, who is seen to be engaging the VP in a power tussle. While the Emir of Daura, His Royal Highness Alhaji Umar Faruk Umar had spoken so highly of the VP at the installation ceremony of the President’s cousin, Musa Haro as the new Dan-Madamin of Daura last Saturday, the said aide of the president was present and was reportedly pissed by the development. The Emir’s effusive praise of the VP, while largely welcomed at the event and across the country was seen as a deliberate attempt by the Emir to rubbish what the so-called cabal had been doing to curtail the VP and at the same time, attempting to orchestrate a feud between the President and the VP. Informed sources said the President had already approved all the aides of the VP and stipulated those to be in the villa, and those to be in the ministries. But by Monday, few days after the Emir of DAURA praised the VP for his loyalty and service, the presidential aide in question, allegedly mounted pressure on another top functionary of the government that all the aides deployed to the ministries should be disengaged except those sent to the new ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development. Top government sources added that this top government functionary was told it was the President, who made the decision, causing confusion and raising doubts about such a claim, because the President had approved all the presidential aides in the office of the VP only few weeks ago according to official correspondence between the President’s office and the office of the top government functionary. THISDAY gathered that the top official of government in the presidency was prevailed upon after a shouting match between him and the presidential aide on the matter. The top government official was believed to have resisted the order for a few days since weekend, until he was lied to that it was what the President wanted but with no proof to such a claim. An informed source last night said, “It was the Emir’s praise that infuriated the cabal and the buzz within government circle now is how possible is it for an aide to pervert a presidential decision that is written in black and white.” Sources close to the President expressed concern that the latest development might worry the President, who had warned that some of the recent changes that affected the VP’s role were not misunderstood or used to embarrass him – that is the President in the perception of the Nigerian public. Expectedly, both the APC and the Presidency had insisted that there was no rift between the President and his embattled deputy. Amidst the lingering speculations that there is disagreement between the two leaders, a presidential

Osinbajo...who will save the VP aide, Senator Babajide Omoworare, declared that the duo still maintained cordial relationship. Omoworare, who is the senior special assistant to the president on National Assembly matters (Senate), was reported to have made the clarification while briefing journalists at the National Assembly Complex on Wednesday, November 6. Also, the spokesperson to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, didn’t only deny the rumour that there was rift between the two leaders but also condemned a list being peddled around as names of those affected. But whichever way, with the recent development, it’s believed in some quarters that the Vice-President must have been used and dumped after the February presidential election. While some observers were of the opinion that the President must have applied his military training to push the Vice-President aside, pundits who were close to the Aso Rock politics had insisted that the development had no hand of Buhari but that of the cabal within. The story began to change after the inauguration but didn’t take shape until after President Buhari named his ministers and it was discovered that neither Osinbajo nor former Governor of Lagos State and APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu, had little or no input in who got what in the new cabinet. Then came the announcement of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, which though new, however, considered necessary. The ministry is conceived to provide solutions to the plight of millions of internally displaced persons as well as co-ordinate humanitarian affairs and social development in the country, including the so-called N-Power, trade money and market money. Osinbajo had leveraged all these during the build-up to the Presidential election to approach the grassroots. At the peak of the campaign, President Buhari was so impressed that he confessed that his deputy’s activities through the houseto-house campaign and market activations had boosted the popularity of the All Progressive Congress and its candidates. In another development, the president had felicitated well with his deputy, when the latter and nine others survived helicopter crash during the campaign in Kabba, Kogi State. While a section of the country celebrated the new ministry and the minister-in-charge, political analysts, who understood the undercurrent chuckled. Knowing well that the decision to create the ministry was primarily to move out some of the functions under the office of the Vice President, critics of the new ministry considered it an affront. But the deed had been done. Another signal that pointed to the fact that Osinbajo was being relegated was the President’s announcement at the

close of the two-day retreat organised for the ministers, that they should always go through his Chief-of-Staff, Abba Kyari, for meeting requests and through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, for issues relating to the Federal Executive Council. He reiterated the same thing the following day while inaugurating the ministers. He said: “As I said yesterday (Tuesday), in terms of coordinating communication, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channeled through the Chief of Staff while all Federal Executive Council matters be coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in order to speed up the process of decision-making.” Immediately the announcement was made, not a few Nigerians came out to criticise the president. Despite efforts by the administration’s spin-doctors to water down the issue with the argument that it was a global practice, a section of the country and opposition voices believed the statement was deliberate made to slight Osinbajo In what initially sent the strongest signal, Nigerians were stunned sometime back, when President Buhari dissolved Osinbajo-led economic team and announced Economic Advisory Council to fill the gap. This advisory council will replace the current Economic Management Team, previously headed by Osinbajo. The new appointment however came with a caveat: the EAC should report directly to the President and not the Vice President. According to a statement issued to announce the appointment, it was stated that EAC would advise the President on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies. “The EAC will have monthly technical sessions as well as scheduled quarterly meetings with the President. The Chairman may, however, request for unscheduled meetings if the need arises,” the statement stated. Before the furore generated by the appointment could settle, the President threw another salvo – he directed the Vice President to, henceforth, seek presidential approvals for agencies under his supervision. With the recent development, the question on the lips of concerned Nigerians centres on how and who would save the situation. Will Buhari reverse some of these decisions on arrival from his private visit abroad? Or has Osinbajo already taken it in good faith? What roles have the APC leaders in addressing the situation? All these and more are the questions begging for answers.


THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

80

FROMTHECOURT

Court: Severance Allowances Morally Wrong A recent judgment of the Court of Appeal declaring the payment of severance allowances to elected or appointed public office holders, including former governors and their deputies morally wrong, is just what is needed to stop the social injustice. Davidson Iriekpen writes

F

or many Nigerians, a recent judgment of the Court of Appeal describing the payment of severance allowances to elected or appointed public office holders as morally wrong could not have come at a better than now. Since the return of democracy in 1999, there’s a feeling that the political class has been reaping the country off with humongous allowances – money that could have been channeled to other better things for the people. So, when the judgment came, it was a great relief. The court, in a judgment on an appeal marked: CA/A/810/2017 filed by the Kogi State Government, held that the fact that elected public office holders and political appointees were paid huge amounts of money as monthly salaries and other forms of allowances while in office makes it morally wrong for them to demand gratuity or severance allowance for holding such an office for three to eight years as the case may be. The case started following a dispute between the Kogi State Government and some former members of the state Local Government Service Commission (KGSLGSC), who served for four years from February 2013 to February 2017. The former council officials had filed a suit before the National Industrial Court in Abuja, suing the Kogi State governor, Secretary to the State Government, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Kogi State Local Government Service Commission. They claimed that the sum of N55.4million was supposed to be to them as total of the various amounts of money due to them as arrears of salaries for 17 months, four years leave bonuses, and severance payment for the end of the tenure of their appointments. The claimants were Alhaji Nuhu Ahmed (ex-chairman of the commission), M.O Sule, Momoh Azia, Michael Akeji, James Olumorin and George Abogun. They asked the court to compel the state government to pay them the severance package. Rather than give judgment in the case after taking arguments on the originating summons and preliminary objection raised by the defendants, the presiding judge of the court, Justice R. B. Hastrup, in his decision, ordered parties to file more pleadings. This made the Kogi State government to approach the Court of Appeal. In their judgment, the three-man panel of the court faulted the payment of severance allowance, pension or gratuity to political office holders and political appointees, insisting that the practice was morally wrong. Submitting that it amounted to gross social injustice, the court held that it could not be justified in the context of the nation’s present social realities. In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, he said it was wicked and morally wrong for political office holders and political appointees, who helped themselves to public funds while in office, to claim entitlement to pension and severance allowances. The judge held that it was unjustifiable for some few politicians, who hold office for not more than eight years, to allocate huge public funds to themselves in the name of pension and severance package while civil servants, who committed most of their active years to the service of the nation are denied their retirement benefits. Justice Agim submitted that it was wrong for political appointees and elected public office holders, who do not work as long and as hard as the career civil servants to quickly get paid huge severance allowances upon leaving office in addition to the huge wealth they acquired while holding such offices and without having been subjected to any contributory pension schemes. “I must state here that the claimants’ claim for payment of severance allowance, because the tenure of their appointment has come to an end, is as unfounded as is morally wrong. As I have held that their letters of appointment did not stipulate their entitlement to such payment. They did not produce any law or any document or instrument that entitles them to such payment. “The fact that elected pubic officeholders and political appointees are paid huge amounts of money as monthly salaries and other forms of allowances, while in office, is common knowledge in Nigeria and is not reasonable to open question. “It is also common knowledge that many of them after an office tenure of between three to eight years become stupendously wealthy, exhibiting mind-blowing opulence and splendor. Yet, these office holders insist on being paid severance allowance for holding such offices. “Meanwhile, career civil servants, who have served this country or their states or local governments, all their

Zainab Bulkachuwa, President, Court of Appeal life, can hardly collect their pensions and gratuity, when retired. They are now being subjected to contributory pension schemes in which they contribute part of their monthly meagre salaries that are always paid in arrears while in service, to be able to earn pension and gratuity upon retirement. “The political appointees and elected public office holders, who do not work as long and as hard as the career civil servants quickly get paid huge severance allowances upon leaving office in addition to the huge wealth they acquired while holding such offices and without having been subjected to any contributory pension schemes. “It is not morally right to pay an elected public officer or political appointee pension and gratuity or severance allowance for holding such an office for three to eight years as the case may be. It cannot be justified in the context of our present social realities; it amounts to gross social injustice.” The panel, which had Justices Abubakar Datti Yahaya and Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson, also agreed with the lead judgment. The judgment has since been resonating in many quarters with many hailing it and wishing that same injustice could be corrected. Since 1999, the country has been reaped off through humongous allowances paid to both officials in the executive and legislative arms of government at federal and state levels. At the end of every four years, these officials pay themselves huge allowances without any fear or threat. While it is never known how much members of executive particularly ministers and others collect as severance allowance, last May, it was reported that members of the eighth National Assembly got N23.678billion as severance package. Most annoying to many Nigerians are not just the severance allowances out-going governors pay themselves but the bogus pensions they enjoy. Presently, the cost of pension paid by 21 states to some 47 former governors in the last four years has been estimated at over N37 billion. In a trend that started in Lagos in 2007, practically all former governors except Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, who turned down the idea, had committed their states to write laws that entitle them to lives of luxury outside office as well as opulent burials, when they die.

Huge mansions are also constructed for them at public expense since the law provides for the governor a befitting palace in the state capital or in the nation’s capital, Abuja, while the deputy governor is entitled to an accommodation allowance equal to 300 per cent of his annual basic salary. In most of the states, after office, a former governor and his spouse would be entitled to free medical services anywhere at a sum ranging from N100 million to N200 million per annum while the deputy governor will pocket N50 million for same purpose. Both would also be entitled to their current salary for life, which is in excess of N25 million each per annum. In addition, they are also entitled to furniture allowances and brand new cars every four years at the taxpayers’ expense. Their cooks, chauffeurs and security men – people who will further lighten their burden – are also well provided for. All these are coming at a time when ordinary pensioners, who served for 30 to 35 years in service, in most of these states and at the federal level have not been paid their meagre entitlements regularly for many years. Most annoying to many Nigerians is that a good number of these ex-governors are either in the Senate, serving as ministers or are occupying other equally high public offices, where they draw huge remunerations, thus raising a serious question about the propriety of the naked rape of the treasury. Over time, there have been arguments on the propriety of the pensions paid to governors, who only spend four or eight years in office but that is where they end. Ahead of the 2015 presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had promised to use moral persuasion to compel the governors to amend the provisions of the pension laws on the grounds that they were unsustainable but after four years in office, nothing has been heard on the issue. Many analysts believe that the Court of Appeal judgment was an opportunity for labour unions and civil society organisations not only to challenge the different laws at the state level empowering former governors to collect huge pensions but other severance allowances both at the federal and state levels, which have led to the plundering of the scarce resources and denying the people infrastructure development and basic facilities.


THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER Ëž͚͸˜ͺ͸͚Î



81



SMS: 08116759819 

  ĂŽĂ“ĂžĂ™ĂœË? Olawale Olaleye Ă—Ă‹Ă“Ă–Ë? ĂĄĂ‹Ă–Ă?˛ÖËÖĂ?ĂŁĂ?̜ÞÒÓĂ?ĂŽĂ‹ĂŁĂ–Ă“Ă Ă?Ë›Ă?Ù×

Gbajabiamila

Senate Loses Two Members to Court Ruling as House Tackles Archaic Customs Act The Court of Appeal, last week, sacked two senators from the upper legislative chamber, as the lower chamber addressed the furore created by the old-fashioned Customs Act, report Deji Elumoye and Adedayo Akinwale

T

he results of the February 23 National Assembly elections held in all the 109 senatorial districts and 360 federal constituencies in the country generated a lot of issues including legal battles. While some of the candidates, who lost at the polls accepted the outcome of the election, others who suspected foul play went to court to challenge the electoral victory of their opponents from the Tribunal to the Court of Appeal, which is the Court of last resort for National Assembly polls. At the last count, two Senators – Abubakar Tambuwal (APC Sokoto South) and Adedayo Adeyeye (APC Ekiti South) had their elections nullified by the Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto and Kaduna respectively. Tambuwal, a first time Senator, whose election was upheld at the Election Petition Tribunal but upturned by the Appellate Court lost to Ibrahim Dambata (PDP), a member of the Senate in the Eighth National Assembly, while Adeyeye, also a rookie Senator and Senate spokesman has been replaced by former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi (PDP), who thanked God and her constituents for making the electoral victory possible. She tweeted on her account shortly after the Appeal Court judgment saying, “Congrats to my steadfast constituents of Ekiti South Senatorial district and all Ekiti people indeed. It is a victory for democracy and the freedom of choice. May God only be praised, to Him alone be all the glory�. Other Senators, who also had their elec-

tions challenged in court by their opponents, were however lucky to have their electoral victory affirmed by the Court of Appeal. They include Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu; former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Senator James Manager and Senator Rochas Okorocha. Reacting to the upturning of the tribunal’s earlier judgment ordering for a rerun in some polling units in Abia North senatorial district by the Appellate Court that eventually affirmed his election, Uzor-Kalu, who claimed he has been vindicated by the appeal court ruling re-assured Nigerians of his unwavering and determined efforts in advancing the cause of the people. Admonishing Senator Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other politicians in Abia State to join hands with him in driving development across the state, the former governor of Abia State cautioned his supporters, associates and party faithful to be wary of their utterances and actions, adding that all hands must be on deck to work collectively for the betterment of Abia North Senatorial District and Abia state at large. Also reacting to his election affirmation by the Appellate Court, Senator Okorocha dedicated his victory to his opponents – Hon Jones Onyeriri and Senator Osita Izunaso, Candidates of PDP and APGA respectively – who had challenged his election victory up to the Appeal Court. The former Imo State governor also dedicated his court victory to the good people of Imo West senatorial district and indeed, Imo people in general, whom he said, have

remained supportive irrespective of their political affiliations. He added that the Appeal Court Judgment has also added fibre to the nation’s democracy, because like the tribunal, the Appeal Court was able to detach blackmail from the home truth. Meanwhile, the social media was recently awash with the narrative by one Mrs. Udensi Adaeze Nwagboliwe, who claimed to have being ill treated at the Abuja airport by the operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on the basis of her gender, tribe or where she comes from. Nwagboliwe, who arrived the country onboard BA083 with passport No A07994773 at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, claimed that she was singled out and slammed with Customs Duty payment for one pair of shoes and “a mini boy bag� that should have been allowed to pass freely as personal effects. Her claims however forced the Customs to make public what actually transpired and put the record straight. Customs had in a statement said it was simply a case of being told to pay duty, as what was in her possession was far above the allowable value of N50,000.00 and certainly beyond what normal discretion would allow. Customs also explained that upon routine search of Nwagboliwe’s luggage, operatives discovered a Loius Vuitton bag and shoe. Obviously knowing the luxury brand (Loius Vuitton), she was asked to produce the receipt, which would form the basis for duty calculation or not. She could not produce the receipt of what she claimed she bought at

the duty free shop at the point of departure, saying the receipt was with her husband, who did not travel with her. But that, of course, was impossible because the husband, who wasn’t traveling at the time could not have accessed the duty free hall. Customs added that its officers had to take the long route of ascertaining the current worth of her items online. The luxury items were found to be worth N570,467.40 and consequently, appropriate duty assessment of N165, 692.25k was slammed on her to pay into federal government coffer. Since she could not immediately pay, a detention notice was given to her showing that the items would remain with the Nigeria Customs Service until she pays and brings evidence of payment before they will be released to her. However, Customs said instead of paying the assessed duty and pick up her items or request to see any superior officer, should she have any reservation on the assessed value, she took to the social media, drawing all sorts of conjectures, gender, even when the officer, Ms. Essien, who attended to her is a lady, tribe and even inciting the public against the Service. Unfortunately, insinuations were also made by some other sources, who seemed to share the sentiment of the Customs, alleging that she was a smuggler and a target of the Service hence the special attention extended to her on arrival. But THISDAY independent findings had since discovered that the allegation of being a smuggler was false and an attempt to further paint the woman, a distinguished banker, black. However, the altercation between the woman and Customs attracted the attention of the House of Representatives, which vowed to amend Customs and Excise Management Act. The Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, at the plenary recently called for a review of the Act, especially the part that imposes duty on items valued more than N50,000. Gbajabiamila said, “Honourable colleagues, while we were away in the last two or three weeks, there was an issue that came up. We all got messages about how one of us, a citizen of Nigeria that supposedly ran into problem with the Customs at the airport, where she was charged for the purchase of a bag, that apparently the duty threshold was N50,000. And we all know that, in my opinion, this is unrealistic. “So, I would want to ask Chairman of the House Committee on Customs and Chairman House Committee on Finance to put together, a review of the Custom and Excise Management Act, so that we can reflect the limits and do the necessary amendments. “For instance, the Custom and Excise Management Act, allows anyone to travel with minimum of $10,000, which is equivalent to N3.6 million, but if you have more than the threshold, it must be declared. To say the Act is outdated would actually be an understatement. Customs cannot be expected to perform optimally operating with archaic laws in the 21st century.� Beyond rhetoric, it is important for the House to amend the Customs Act for necessary reforms to take place. Though there are so many reforms that the customs requires, amending this outdated Act is one of the major reforms the Service needs. The green chamber should therefore not end the issue of the amendment with a mere discussion on the floor of the House, but to follow it up and ensure that proper legislative backing is given to NCS that would ensure that the reforms take place and also generate more revenue to the government. This would however involve the House working in synergy with the leadership of the Customs. Whether the amendment Act bill would come from the executive, or initiated by the National Assembly, they must ensure that the law is urgently amended and ensure that the reforms must take place. No one, indeed, no Nigerian deserved to be treated the way Mrs. Nwagboliwe was treated at the airport, not even when the Customs leadership subjected mere discretion at work to needless academic rigours just because they wanted to be seen as working. The amendment is long overdue.


82

T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R ˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

SOCIALMEDIABITS

with DEMOLA OJO demola.ojo@thisdaylive.com

Last week, the President signed a bill in London, theLagos Governor requested a title be withdrawn, and government revealed plans toregulate social media...

L

ast week, the Federal Government passed into law abill that renegotiates the agreement between Nigeria and the International oilcompanies that extract crude oil from its shores. It is a landmark law thatguarantees more revenue for the country. But the import of the occasion was lost in the outragethat greeted how the bill was signed. In what can, at the very least, bedescribed as an eyebrowraising decision, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief ofStaff, Abba Kyari, took the papers to him in London to sign. They made a showof it too, making sure the pictures were widely circulated. The question asked by many on social media was why theChief of Staff had to go all the way to London with

a document, expending thecountry’s lean resources in the process, when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo couldeasily have signed. Of course there were more questions. Why didn’t thePresident hand over to his VP like he had done in the past? Does it confirm rumoursof a rift between them? What sort of private visit is he in London for anyway,that the citizens who pay for these trips don’t know about? While these questionswere swirling around on social media, news filtered in that about 35 aides ofthe Vice President had been relieved of their responsibilities. As you canimagine, this only fuelled the rumours that all was not well between the APC’sjoint presidential ticket holders. The dissonance was laid bare later in the week whenthe VP’s media aide released a statement denying the story,


NOVEMBER 10, 2019 ˾T H I S D AY, T H E S U N D AY N E W S PA P E R

83

SOCIALMEDIABITS only for thePresident’s media aide to release another statement affirming it. One doesn’t need to dig too deep to deduce where thebalance of power in the presidency tilts to. Already, there have been debateson social media on how a President’s Chief of Staff is more powerful than aVice President in a presidential system of government. Chief among the vocal proponents of this theory is aHouse of Representatives member under the banner of the APC, Akin Alabi. Alabi took time out to write a thread on twitter supportingthis view, in what came off as a blatant attempt to warm his way into the heartof the obviously powerful Chief of Staff. He wasn’t alone. More influential andexperienced gladiators in the political space did likewise. Former governor of Lagos State and national leader ofthe APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, penned an opinion editorial published in THISDAYpraising the signing of the new bill. He made sure to portray the CoS in goodlight, occasionally quoting an earlier op-ed written by Kyari. This column might soon tow the same line, consideringthe government is planning to regulate social media,

according to Minister ofInformation, Lai Mohammed. The same day, the Senate introduced a bill to thiseffect. In truth, it isn’t such a bad idea, considering the harmthat fake news and hate speech can and will cause if not nipped in the bud.Unfortunately, the fear is that this will be an opportunity for government to trampleon free speech and muzzle those with a contrary opinion. Talking about contrary opinions, the Minister of Worksand Housing, Babatunde Fashola, thinks Nigerian roads are not as bad as theyare being portrayed. His opinion calls to question his suitability for the jobat hand; if you don’t know how bad the problem is, how can you tackle it? He has been challenged on social media to take a tourof the country by road. He probably knows better than to take the challenge. Meanwhile, a chief executive whose state has beenunder the spotlight becauseof bad roads hasdecided he needs to drop the title “Your Excellency” for him to functioneffectively. Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu would rather be addressed as MrGovernor. So here goes: Mr Governor, please fix the awful roads in your state.


84

THISDAY, THE SATURDAY NEWSPAPER˾ NOVEMBER 10, 2019

REFLECTION RAYMOND HEMEN IHYEMBE

My Life Story at 70, How I Keep Physically and Mentally Alert His mien signposts everything desirable. His gait is of royal gracefulness. His professional and educational career is enviable. Few men are as humble and down-to-earth as Chief Raymond Hemen Ihyembe (Tor u Tiv of Benue), who turned 70 recently. In this interview with THISDAY, Chief Ihyembe, former Afribank MD and current Vice Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Nigeria, with international head office in Paris, talks about his life, achievements, and family

I

n the life of men, the 70th year is considered a very special number and only a few people attain that number of years in good health and a sound mind as you have. Can you describe how you feel at this very special age and what is the philosophy or secret to attaining such a special age? First of all, I give thanks to God for having lived this long to see my 70th birthday and in good health, too. It’s entirely by his grace. I also give credit to the loving family I have... My dear wife, Chief Mrs. Obiageli Nwakaku Ihyembe, and my daughters, Mrs.Ngover Ihyembe-Nwankwo; Mrs. Wandoo Ihyembe-Hassan; and Dr. Demvihin ( Dem) Ihyembe. They have wrapped me in love completely over the years. Even during periods that I was ill, their love and commitment to caring for me and nursing me back to good health never wavered. One other factor has also been the fact that I have kept very busy working since I retired from the then Afribank Nigeria Plc, 17 years ago. This has kept me physically and mentally quite alert. Having good and trusted friends as I have got older has also helped to keep depression at bay. I have known most of these friends for over 50 years and we know ourselves. You are the seventh child of your father and the last of your mother. How has this impacted on your personality? Being the seventh out of my father’s children and the last of my mother’s children did not confer any special status on me. But, overall, I was very close to my father even before I started my primary school education. Our father was very aware of and quite focused on the benefits of Western education and kept preaching the virtues of being literate and educated to all of us. It was, therefore, quite natural that he would send his children to school, at a time many parents in our corner of Nigeria had not realized the value of education. Tell us a bit about your background: how you became a banker and in the years since you left, what do you miss most about banking? I completed my primary school education at the Tiv Native Authority Primary School, Gboko in 1963. Thereafter, I proceeded to the famous Barewa College, Zaria for my secondary education. After completing my secondary school education at Barewa College, I proceeded to another equally famous secondary school, the Federal Government College, Warri, in the then Mid-West state of Nigeria for my higher school certificate. After I retired from the banking sector in 2002, I have since moved on to new challenges. Barewa College in Zaria where you had your secondary school education is known to have produced several persons of great import in different industries. Would you say this defined your path in life? While at Barewa college, one was naturally very aware that the school had produced very famous and illustrious personalities. It was not the fact that it produced so many important personalities that influenced me but that these ‘old boys’ were people of very high integrity and who were very humble and focused on serving rather than being served, and who gave their all to serve their country. These moral qualities of the illustrious products of Barewa college impressed me and, perhaps, formed my character. However, my path in life was not really determined by the lives of these people, although I admired such illustrious alumni of the college. I was more inclined and stronger in science subjects and therefore wanted to be an engineer. I subsequently trained as one and practised the profession for a short period before I became a banker, purely by fate.

Ihyembe

Do you remember what your first reaction was to the news of your Shell Petroleum Development Company’s overseas scholarship? Did you realize you were being provided a chance to attain greatness? I must admit that to get the Shell overseas scholarship at the time was the dream of all students offering Mathematics or Double Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry at the higher school certificate( HSC) level. The scholarship was open to all schools in Nigeria that had students offering the aforementioned subjects at the HSC level. It was the best


85

NOVEMBER 10, 2019 ˾THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER

REFLECTION tHow My Wife, Children Have Helped to Keep Me Alive And Healthy t

Continued from Pg. 84

Chief Raymond Hemen Ihyembe and family scholarship scheme at the time and the most prestigious too. The opportunities offered to me through the Shell overseas scholarship shaped my life. I still remain grateful to the Shell Petroleum Development Company for the privilege given to me. Many of my closest friends I have today date back to our days as Shell overseas scholars. You retired at 53. It’s not usual for people to retire at that age in this part of the world. What great planning skill did you deploy or was it just good fortune considering the fact that the bank attained some of its best achievements under your leadership? I retired quite early at 53 not out of choice but because it was required of me to retire when I did because of the provisions of the Articles and Memorandum of Afribank Nigeria Plc, at the time. This provision stated that one could be a director of the bank for a maximum of two terms of three years each. As I had been a director of the bank for a maximum of six years as provided in the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the bank, I had to retire. I took over the running of Afribank Nigeria Plc at a difficult time when the staff were disgruntled, the unions had virtually taken over the institution, non-performing loans were growing and there was all manner of politics going on within and outside the bank. I gave a lot of credit to the staff who believed in me and stayed the course with me. With their support, we were, by 2002, able to produce the best financial results the bank ever had in its history. Unfortunately, due to a lack of good corporate governance practices, not long after I retired, the bank failed seven years after my retirement. Of course, a bank can fail within 12 months, if not prudently managed. You have been married for more than 43 years to your wife, Chief Mrs. Obiageli Ihyembe.You have a great family life. Given the requirements of banking; how much time and hard work it takes to rise to the zenith of a banking career, how were you able to raise a successful family? We asked because we know at what level your three children operate: Ngover, a seasoned corporate banker, Wandoo, a strategy manager in the oil and gas sector and Demvihin, a medical doctor and associate professor. That I have a fantastic and loving wife and absolutely incredible daughters, Ngover, Wandoo, and Dem, I give glory to God. Forty-three years is a long time. But, it’s also like yesterday. Time has passed so quickly because we have lived well and have a loving and peaceful relationship. The same time frame would have seemed an eternity if we were not living well or in peace and in love. It does not mean we don’t disagree. But, it means we have learned about each other and are patient and forgiving and have also learned a lot more about life. So, I can say we have learned to tolerate each other’s idiosyncrasies. That’s the key to having a long marriage.... tolerance of each other. You are known as a philanthropist with a lot of contributions in the development of several people through

Chief Ihyembe and wife, Obiagbeli scholarships and fellowships as well as the transformation of schools, community centres, churches, and even companies. What fulfillment do you derive from that? My philanthropic activities and giving to others and society, in general, give me a lot of satisfaction. This is because no one makes himself or herself what he or she is or has become in life. Even Sir Isaac Newton was taught and nurtured by his teachers. All great men and women are made by others, no matter how humble! At one point or the other, someone somewhere must have sacrificed and given love or material things to ensure that one made progress in life. So, as I drank from other people’s fountain of love, it is only natural that I should also give unto others who are in need. At the height of your career, you facilitated the entry of a lot of young people from Benue and other states into the banking sector. Given the number of those admitted then, there is a noticeable dearth in Benue talent in the banking sector at the highest levels. Did something go wrong? Is there something youths from that region should be doing differently? Yes, I facilitated the entry of quite a number of Benue young

men and women into the banking industry while I was still working. Sadly, there are not too many left in the industry today. I am yet to fathom the reason we don’t have many of them in top management positions within the industry. But, I believe those of them that are still in the Industry will eventually get to the top if they persevere and continue to work diligently and are focused on excelling in their various fields. You have a lot of admirers and young people who look up to you. Is there a philosophy of life, a message about life that you want them to focus on? My message to young people is that the world out there is large and they can realize their dreams in the global space offered by today’s globalized economy. They should, therefore, train themselves to excel in their chosen fields. By doing so, they will see opportunities out there that they never thought existed before. They should also seek to become entrepreneurs, as this is the sure way of becoming financially liberated. There is no magic wand or keys to success. On the whole, there could be many factors that are responsible for an individual’s success in life. But, cutting corners and magic are not part of them.


86

THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER ˞͚͸˜2019

NEWSXTRA Frustrated by Low Patronage, Ekiti Women Contribute N250, 000 to Fix Deplorable Federal Roads Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti Frustrated by abysmally low patronage from travellers, a sizable number of roadside traders in Ekiti State have contributed N250, 000 to rehabilitate fix federal roads in the state, especially between Efon Alaaye and Ado Ekiti. The traders, who are predominantly women hawking such farm produce as yams, banana, plantain and corns on federal roads, lamented that they had been excluded from the fiscal plan under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. Some of the traders expressed their concern in separate interview with THISDAY on Friday, narrating how abysmally low patronage from commuters in the state compelled to con-

tribute N250, 000 to fix federal roads in the state. Operating along the highway at Efon Alaaye farmstead in Efon Local Government Area, the traders said they had to task themselves to carry out palliative works on the roads when it started affecting their businesses adversely. Speaking with THISDAY, a 52 -year old locust beans seller, Mrs Oladunni Olagoke said patronage had dropped because over 80 percent of motorists had diverted to Ita Ure-Efon-Iwaraja road to avoid the bad portion of the EkitiOsun border where they were trading. Olagoke said this had caused “serious slump in the level of gains they were making on daily basis. Before the road went so bad to the extent that

the motorists and some of our best customers decided to take alternative route, I was making between N20, 000 and N25, 000 daily. “But now, I hardly goods valued N5, 000 per day. Many times, we went home empty handed. This situation prompted us to contribute N5, 000 each, though depending on the strength of your business.

“There were those who contributed N1, 000. Some contributed N2, 000 to buy gravels and hired labourers to do the palliative works for us. The idea is to attract commuters to the portion of the Ekiti-Osun road that commuters had abandoned. Now, our customers are gradually returning.� Giving insight on the materials they purchased for the

project, she said: “We bought five loads of gravel at N35, 000 each. We bought two loads of sand at N30, 000 and the remaining money went for the labourers and food. “But we could only carry out palliative works which will not last. We therefore appeal to the federal government to rehabilitate Aramoko-Erio-Ijebu-Ijesha

road where we stay so that our means of livelihood can be sustained.� A 21-year old secondary school leaver, Miss Ajibike Ayomide narrated the ordeal of the hawkers on the federal roads in the state, noting that the portion of road had damaged many vehicles and caused accidents of monumental proportion before their intervention.

US Embassy Never Denied Fayemi Visa, Says NGF Chuks Okocha in Abuja The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) yesterday clarified that the United States Embassy in Nigeria did not deny its Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi visa contrary to reports on the social media. The forum made the clarification in a statement its Head of Communication, Mr. Razak Bello Barkindo issued yesterday, saying the governor was not denied any visa as reported. Contrary to some reports, the statement explained Fayemi withdrew his international passport from the US Embassy because it clashed with his earlier schedules in South Africa. The statement read in part: “Fayemi, like every other Nigerian citizen intending to visit the US, applied for a visa, attended his interview and was requested to pay the statutory visa acceptance fee by the US Consulate. “The governor’s visa application was not denied. Anyone conversant with US Visa application procedure knows that applicants are now routinely taken through administrative processing before visas are issued. “When the American Embassy indicated that the visa may not be ready by Friday, November

8, Fayemi retrieved his passport because of a crucial speaking engagement at the AfDB Africa Investment Forum in South Africa on Monday, November 11. “It is imperative to mention here that Fayemi, only just returned from the United States where he attended the United Nation’s General Assembly where the NGF organised a high-level side meeting on September 27. “It is also important, at this juncture, to caution journalists on the rush to print, as blatant mischief, laden with glaring untruths as contained in the 247Ureports narrative, can drag the journalism profession to disrepute. “Knowing Fayemi, it is virtually impossible to associate him with the uncouth behaviour that 247Ureports dramatised�, the statement stated. . Meanwhile, the statement said that the trip to the United States is at the instance of the Dangote Foundation in concert with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and it is on course. The forum said that the foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “have partnered for years on several global health and development initiatives in Nigeria.

CATCHING THEM YOUNG L-R: Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat with the students of St. Mary Model Nur/Pry School,Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government Area at the inauguration of their school... Friday

Fire Disaster Averted at MMIA as Tanker Spills Petrol on Motorway Chinedu Eze Vehicular traffic came to standstill yesterday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos when a 42 feet truck, laden with 33, 000 litres of petrol fell and spilled content on the link road connecting the domestic terminals to the international wing of the airport. The road was blocked for hours, creating fear that the highly flammable product could ignite fire and gut some part of the airport, located few meters to the headquarters of the Nigerian Civil Aviation

Authority (NCAA), Forte Oil Filling Station, the Head officer of Arik Air and about 20 meters to the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), known as MMIA Terminal 1. However, no life was lost and no injury was reported. Eyewitness account told THISDAY that the accident occurred when the driver lost control of the vehicle while descending the slope on the link bridge between Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja and the Lagos Airport. To avert plunging the vehicle on the filling station, driver of the truck swerved it to the left side of the road and hit the me-

dian before it fell on its side, after hitting a bus in motion but there was no severe damage. The spilled petrol after fall streamed down through the gutters towards the headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), but it did not ignite fire. Within minutes there was prompt responses from FAAN Aerodrome Rescue Fire Safety Services and Lagos State Fire Services who poured anti-fire chemicals to prevent fire outbreak. The tanker owned by Forte Oil was bringing supplies into the station when the accident

occurred late morning. A statement from the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) said the Lagos State Fire Service Officers came to the scene were involved in the blanketing of the entire area. Also on ground with LASEMA were officers of the Nigeria Police Force and LASTMA Officials providing security, crowd and traffic control. LASEMA explained in the statement which was signed by the agency spokesperson, Nosa Okunbor said the impact of the fallen tanker resulted in the spillage of its contents.

Access Bank Pledges Support Nigeria NAVY, NIWA Strengthen Adeniyi Charges Judges to Review Stringent Bail Conditions for Oba of Benin Satellite Town Security of Waterways Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City The Group Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank PLC, Mr. Herbert Wigwe has pledged the support of his bank for projects that will uplift Benin Kingdom. He made the pledge during a courtesy visit on the Oba of Benin, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II at. his palace in Benin City. Wigwe, accompanied on the visit by his management team, said the bank has phenomenal respect for the ancient kingdom of Benin that everyone is extremely proud to associate with. He also said the bank would support the monarch’s new satellite town project and other

palace activities such as the Igue festival. He said: “I thank you his majesty for the rare privilege of receiving us. We will support the Oba’s housing project. As great students of history his majesty, take it for granted that we will always support all the projects within your domain.� Responding, the Oba of Benin said the idea of Benin new city project was his brainchild aimed at opening up new area and encourage urban-rural migration. He said: “We are talking about creating a new city. We want to try and open a new area that can encourage urban-rural migration. With this project, we will be able to achieve a lot in that regard.

Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and Nigerian Navy Dockyard in Port Harcourt yesterday agreed to collaborate to ensure the safety and navigability of the country’s inland waterways. The two organisations made the pledge when the Managing Director NIWA, Chief George Muoghalu undertook a facility tour of the Naval Dockyard as well as the facilities located at NIWA Marine base, Port Harcourt. At the Naval Dockyard yesterday, Commodore Superintendent and MD/CEO, Naval Shipyard Limited, Commodore Abolaji Orederu said NIWA was one of the organisa-

tions the shipyard had been coveting collaboration with the strategic and critical enterprise of waterways services. Orederu said the Naval Shipyard Limited “is in a collaborative venture arrangement with thee Admiralty China Shipbuilding Offshore International Ltd (ACSOIL). Naval Shipyard Limited is one of the subsidiaries of the Nigerian Navy Group carrying out ship/boat building and maintenance. He said the Nigerian Navy has made phenomenal progress in realising the local content in its marine engineering endeavours, adding that the first naval ship was built in 2012, the second ship is build in 2016 while the third ship was undergoing construction.

Adedayo Akinwale The Chairman of THISDAY Editorial Board, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi has charged judges to consider reviewing stringent bail conditions. He spoke at a dinner in honour of Mojisola Olatoregun, retired judge of a federal high court in Lagos, citing instances of how people granted bail by the court spend weeks in detention as a result of the bail conditions. He said there “is an urgent need to address the development. “In Nigeria, there are several other challenges that our men and women on the bench confront almost on a daily basis. So, I salute all our Judges who are seated here tonight,� he said. “However, there is an issue that

worries me and I want to seize this opportunity to highlight it: The attachment of stringent bail conditions that are most often designed to keep applicants in jail. “That these conditions apply mostly to those being prosecuted by the government raises questions that touch on the integrity of the bench in Nigeria. “Across the country today, there are hundreds of people who have been granted bail by court yet languishing in prisons because they cannot meet the attached conditions. “As I speak, the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore remains in incarceration, several weeks after he was granted bail by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu and despite the variation of the terms by another Judge. “


THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER Ëž͚͸˜ͺ͸͚Î

87

SUNDAYSPORTS Title Favourites Clash as Liverpool Host Man City

Edited by Demola Ojo Email: demola.ojo@thisdaylive.com

Demola Ojo

T

oday represents the most important day of this Premier League season so far as the competition’s best teams renew a rivalry that defined last season’s title race and may do so again providing Pep Guardiola’s injury-hit Manchester City keep up with Liverpool. Another win for Jßrgen Klopp, who has beaten a team led by Pep Guardiola more times than any other manager (eight wins out of 17 meetings), would represent a monumental step for Liverpool, although City ended their unbeaten start to last season. Liverpool, who have dropped just two points all season, host Manchester City, the side whom they are six points clear of. A win would give Liverpool a mammoth nine-point lead over their rivals and would see them be at least eight points clear of both Leicester City and Chelsea. The Reds made a huge statement last time out with their dramatic late win against Aston Villa. Despite being subpar for most of the game, Sadio Mane’s 95th-minute winner gave Klopp and his side a vital victory. If City win, then the title race is well and truly on. Their comeback win over Southampton was somewhat less impressive than Liverpool’s but the fact that they are showing similar levels of resolve will encourage Pep Guardiola. Mane will be pivotal for Liverpool. The Senegalese international has found a new level to his game. His dramatic late winner at Villa Park summed up what has been an excellent season thus far, with six goals and four assists barely scratching the surface. It won’t be a surprise if he’s a central figure at Anfield today as his goals have won Liverpool eight points already this season. He has scored 17 goals in his last 17 league appearances at Anfield. Meanwhile Man City faced another injury blow midweek when goalkeeper Ederson left the Champions League game against Atalanta midway with an injury. Claudio Bravo replaced him and was sent off with less than a half under his belt. The thought of the Chilean being in goal may excite Liverpool fans. However, the Reds should remember that it was Bravo’s man of the match display which won City the Community Shield in August. His distribution and eagerness to play out from the back suits Guardiola perfectly. This is undoubtedly the biggest game of his City career thus far. Bravo will be making his first Premier League appearance in 18 months.

Roberto Firmino is sandwiched between City players Bernado Silva and Gabriel Jesus in a previous encounter Liverpool have gone 16 top-flight games unbeaten against City at Anfield, with their solitary home defeat in the past 28 meetings coming in May 2003. City’s 16-match winless streak away to Liverpool is their longest in the Premier League against any opponent (D5, L11). However, City have only lost one of the last five Premier League meetings (W2, D2). A Liverpool win would ensure they equal the English top-flight record of 11 wins and a draw after 12 matches of a season. Five sides have achieved the feat, including Liverpool in 1990 and Manchester City twice. Jurgen Klopp’s side are unbeaten in 28 Premier League matches, winning 19 of the past 20. Their only defeat in 50 league fixtures came against Manchester City in January. The Reds have gone 45 home matches without defeat, the second longest unbeaten run in Premier League history. Liverpool have recovered an unrivalled 10 points from losing positions this season. Manchester City have won 11 of their past 12 Premier League away games, scoring 30 goals during that period. They are the division’s top scorers this season with 34 goals, and have only

Ndidi Stars As Leicester Beat Arsenal 2-0 Super Eagles midfielder Wilfred Ndidi produced a fine performance as Leicester City outclassed Arsenal 2-0 in their Premier League clash at the King Power Stadium yesterday. Ndidi came close to grabbing the opening goal for Leicester in the 48th minute but his effort hit the bar. He has scored two goals in 11 league appearances for the Foxes this season. Jamie Vardy broke the deadlock in the 68th minute, finishing a slick Leicester move involving Youri

Tielemans and Harvey Barnes. James Maddison then secured Leicester’s win seven minutes later with a fine strike into the bottom corner to send the Foxes second in the table, five points behind league leaders Liverpool, who play Manchester City today. Meanwhile, the defeat increases the pressure on under-fire Arsenal head coach Unai Emery, whose position at the Emirates Stadium has come under intense pressure in recent weeks.

failed to score in one of their past 33 league fixtures. City have lost two of their opening 11 league fixtures - no team managed by Pep Guardiola has suffered three

top-flight defeats before the 15th match of a season. Sergio Aguero has made seven Premier League appearances at Anfield without scoring, his longest wait for a goal at any

stadium. He has only had two attempts on target in those seven games. However, he has nine goals from 10 shots on target in the Premier League this season.

Bayern Thrash Dortmund 4-0 Robert Lewandowski’s incredible scoring run continued as Bayern Munich thrashed Borussia Dortmund in ‘Der Klassiker’ yesterday. Lewandowski, who hit two goals, has scored in all 15 of Bayern’s European and Bundesliga games this season, with a tally of 22 across both competitions. England forward Jadon Sancho was substituted after 36 minutes for Dortmund with an injury.

Bayern move to third in the Bundesliga, with Dortmund in fifth. Bayern, who are chasing their seventh consecutive Bundesliga title, are now level on points with second-placed RB Leipzig and a point behind leaders Borussia Monchengladbach, who host Werder Bremen on today. And Lewandowski was again responsible for carrying their main threat in front of goal. The Poland forward opened the scoring against

his former employers with a brilliant diving header from Benjamin Pavard’s cross before sweeping in his second of the night from Thomas Muller’s pass. Serge Gnabry’s tap-in and a Mats Hummels own-goal, either side of Lewandowski’s contributions, rounded off the scoring for the hosts on a miserable evening for Dortmund at the Allianz Arena, with the visitors having now shipped 15 goals across their last three visits.

Obaseki, Others Tee-off Governor’s Cup Golf Tourney Adibe Emenyonu Ă“Ă˜Ă?Ă˜Ă“Ă˜ÓÞã

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has assured of plans by his administration to leverage on local resources to produce world-class sports talents in the state. Obaseki said this when he teed-off the Governor’s Cup Golf Tournament in Benin City, as part of activities, to mark his third-year anniversary in office. He was joined by the Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu and other golfers, in Benin City. He said his administration plans to leverage on the Egbabonelimwin traditional dance, popular in Edo Central to produce world-class gymnasts, noting, “The state government will use inter-school competitions to harness talents in table tennis, lawn tennis, athletics and also develop world-class gymnasts by focusing on the traditional Egbabonelimwin

dance from Edo Central.� The governor added, “The people of Edo North are good in a long-distance race. We are sure of producing champions using the facilities at Afuze. The facilities to be used for the inter-school competitions are being built across the 18 Local Government Areas in the state. There will be competition at the local, senatorial and state levels.� Obaseki noted that sports development is part of the initiatives by his administration to sustain a healthy society, adding, “Next year will be significant for the youths in Edo State as we will be hosting the National Sports Festival (NSF). We are expecting about 15,000 athletes and sportsmen in Benin City. This will boost economic activities.� The governor said the state government will provide sporting facilities that will engage youths and keep them active to produce a

generation of sportsmen that will lead the country and continent, adding, “We are rejuvenating all our sporting facilities because these facilities will re-ignite series of sporting activities across the 18 LGAs in Edo State. We are building mini-stadia across the 18 LGAs and improving the existing ones on the ground.�

RESULTS & FIXTURES Chelsea Burnley Newcastle Southampton Tottenham Leicester Alaves Valencia Eibar Barcelona Brescia Inter Man United Wolves Liverpool Juventus

2–0 3–0 2–1 1–2 1–1 2–0 3–0 2–0 0–4 3–1 0–4 2–1 v v v v

Crystal Palace West Ham Bournemouth Everton ShefďŹ eld United Arsenal Real Valladolid Granada Real Madrid Celta Vigo Torino Verona Brighton 3pm Aston Villa 3pm Man City 5;30pm Milan 8:45pm


Sunday November 10, 2019

TR

UT H

& RE A S O

N

Price: N400

MISSILE

Masari to Customs “But when it comes to the city where you are making recoveries or seizures, be more civil, we don’t want firearms. There are better ways of doing it and you can do it successful” – Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari calling on the Nigeria Customs Service to stop terrorizing innocent citizens.

SIMONKOLAWOLE SIMONKOLAWOLELIVE!

simon.kolawole@thisdaylive.com, sms: 0805 500 1961

Buhari’s ‘Coup’ against Oil Companies

I

don’t know about you, but I would say one of the most iconic images of the Buhari administration so far is the one released to the media on Monday, November 4. President Muhammadu Buhari — with a Hausa cap sitting comfortably on his head, a green pen in his right hand and a grin on his face — is seen appending his signature to the amended Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (DOIBPSC) somewhere in London. Bent over by Buhari’s side was Mallam Abba Kyari, his chief of staff, whom I needed some forensic help to identify because he was not wearing his trademark red cap and white flowing gown; rather, he was in suit and cardigan. Typical of us in Nigeria, we have been discussing everything about the event apart from the significance of it: that Buhari has finally broken a major stranglehold of multinational oil companies on this country. To the uninitiated, I will make the narrative as simple as possible. In 1993, we entered into deep offshore production sharing contracts (PSCs) with multinational oil companies. Because deep offshore was a new thing and it was going to be expensive to explore, we decided to offer very attractive incentives to the companies to encourage them to invest in the fields. It certainly made sense: the technology was expensive and success was not assured. We decided that if they hit oil beyond 1000 meters, they would not pay any royalty. But they would pay royalty in various percentages for oil explored between 100 meters and before 1000 meters. They would also pay a flat 10% royalty for oil found in the inland basin. There were other juicy incentives in form of lower rate of petroleum profit tax, compared to joint venture partnerships; profit oil split; investment allowance; and cost recovery limits. The long and short of it all is that fortune smiled on the “contractors” and they hit oil earlier than expected. Technology had also improved along the line to make life easier for them. In no time, they started smiling to the bank. In March 1999, we decided to make a law on PSCs in Nigeria’s deep offshore and inland basin — so that they are not just contracts but covered in our legal statutes as well. We said if crude oil price went as high as $20 per barrel, the terms of the PSCs would be reviewed. We projected that at $20, their costs would be reasonably recovered and Nigeria should therefore sip more from the juice. We also said even if oil did not hit $20, the terms should still be reviewed after 10 years and every five years thereafter — in a way “economically beneficial” to Nigeria. So simple and straightforward, in black and white! Commencement date was 1993 when the first PSCs were signed. You know what? Less than two months after making the law in 1999, we mysteriously amended it and moved the threshold from 10 years to 15 years! That is the kind of hold the oil companies have on us — of course, with the full help and collaboration of Nigerians. When 15 years arrived in 2008, the terms were not reviewed, even though crude oil was already selling for over $90 per barrel. At a point, the “contractors” was taking 80% of the deep offshore oil and while the Nigerian

Buhari

National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) got just 20%. We were not bothered: those who should defend the national interest were more interested in what-have-you. The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the industry regulator, actually wrote a letter to the oil companies in 2007 informing them of the 2008 timeline for the review, but that was all about it. The national assembly looked the other way. Everything went quiet thereafter. For a law that had automatic triggers — both in timelines and oil price benchmarks — it is incredible that we did nothing for so long. Why? Your guess is as bad as mine. Nigeria’s decision makers and political influencers always kowtow to them at the snap of a finger. We have to blame our own people in any case. But someone somewhere was going to break the spell one day. It was inevitable. Even though Buhari waited for four years, he should be forgiven for finally doing the needful. Under the reviewed terms, there is a flat royalty rate of 10% starting from 200 meters. The zero royalty for 1000 metres and beyond is now history. Royalty based on oil price is now graduated: the sub-$20 mark remains 0%, but 2.5% will be paid if price goes to between $20 and $60; 4% if between $60 and $100; 8% if between $100 and $150; and 10% if above $150. The other incentives remain untouched. In fact, petroleum profit tax remains 50%, compared to 85% for JVs. We are projecting that the reviewed terms will fetch us an additional $1.4 billion in 2020. I am, therefore, amazed to be hearing some murmuring from even Nigerians that the new law would discourage investment in deep offshore and that the oil companies would move to other countries in protest. Really? This is very difficult for me to understand. There was a law that should have been implemented since 2008. This law was ignored by every government for whatever reason. Nigeria lost billions of dollars as a result: an estimate puts the short payment at $62 billion in the last 11 years, but a moderate figure would be between $1.6 billion and $2.8 billion per year. How can we be blaming ourselves for implementing our own laws? I honestly cannot understand this. As for the threat that the oil companies will get angry and leave our shores simply because we decided to make the necessary

adjustments to the PSC terms as provided for in the law, I believe that would be an over-reaction. But for the lack of visionary leadership which has plagued Nigeria for decades, shouldn’t we be doing the exploration by ourselves — 63 years after discovering oil? Isn’t it an indictment on us that we are afraid that the big oil companies would angrily leave our shores (or offshore) and we would be left naked? Why should we be afraid to review the PSC terms under which they were engaged for deep offshore exploration in the first place? Actually, we should be ashamed of ourselves for our legendary incompetence. In the 1970s, three countries — Nigeria, Norway and Malaysia — decided to set up national oil companies to engage in exploration, production and refining. Nigeria created the NNPC, Norway Statoil and Malaysia Petronas. Today, Statoil, now renamed Equinor ASA, and Petronas are among the biggest state-owned oil and gas companies in the world. Equinor ASA and Petronas declare profits in billions of dollars and are among the most valuable companies in the world. Equinor ASA operates in 36 countries; Petronas 35 countries. And our own NNPC? Please don’t get me started this morning! If NNPC had not been operating as a scam centre for decades, we would not be batting an eyelash over any oil company threatening to exit Nigeria because of the reviewed PSC terms. Unfortunately, when we decided to empower Nigerian entrepreneurs to play big in the upstream sector of the oil industry, our renowned “greed is good” disposition and mismanagement malady expectedly took the centre stage. Some of the so-called entrepreneurs were busy frolicking with the Naomi Campbells and Atlanta celebrities, accumulating private jets like toys, partying in $80 million yachts, rendezvousing in $35 million penthouses and what not. A fool and his money are soon parted. The amendment of the law was a clinical coup by Buhari. The planning and execution was done in such a way that the oil companies did not have time to kill it or lobby it into coma at the national assembly. Kyari, apparently the arrowhead, is himself a former oilman, so he knows one or two things about the politics of the industry. The guile and determination were such that the amendment was passed by both legislative chambers within 21 days. This again confirms my pet theory — that if Nigerian politicians decide to do something, nothing can stop them. I wish this determination would always be applied to all the things that matter to Nigeria’s progress. If there is a will, there is always a way. Let them now apply the same determination to healthcare, power, education and security. Above all, we need to start thinking strategically as a nation, to define our interests and to pursue them with one mind. We cannot be doing deals that are skewed against us. Only God knows how many agreements government officials have entered into ostensibly “in the national interest” but purely for personal benefit. Some agreements and laws need to be reviewed or renegotiated. Many government officials sign agreements or pass laws that are clearly hurtful to the public interest but they cannot be bothered. Their god is their stomach.

And Four Other Things… SAVING SOWORE The failure of the Department of State Services (DSS) to release Omoyele Sowore, convener of Revolution Now movement, despite a court order is turning the whole case into a circus. No matter the offence Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, is accused of committing, we are in a democracy and court orders must be obeyed. The government cannot keep holding an individual without legal justification. We are not operating under the obnoxious Decree No 2 of 1984 under which people were arrested and detained in a devil-may-care manner. The Sowore case is yet another acid test for President Buhari’s self-professed conversion to constitutional democracy. Watching… THE GRIDLOCK For the 11th time this year, the national grid collapsed on Friday night, sending darkness across the nation. No matter the megawatts we generate, the national grid, managed by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), must be able to move the power from the generating companies (GenCos) to the distribution companies (DisCos) before we can enjoy the electricity. TCN has become the biggest obstacle to regular power supply today and has endangered many agreements the country signed with GenCos. And you know what? We chased away Manitoa, the Canadian company managing the grid, in 2016 without getting a competent replacement. Shocking! OIL THEFT The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has released a report on oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the country. The biggest summary is that crude oil and refined products worth $41.9 billion were stolen between 2009 and 2018 — that is the size of the nation’s foreign reserves currently. The tragedy, if I need to emphasise it, is that most of these criminal activities are carried out in collusion with security agencies and government officials, some of them very senior. This is an open secret. The evils we do in this country! That is why at some point, crude oil was selling for $100 and above but our foreign reserves were not growing. Treasonable. REMEMBERING GEJ Former President Goodluck Jonathan has been derided for his stewardship but there is one thing nobody can take away from him — the singular honour of accepting defeat and congratulating his opponent while results were being announced! No top presidential candidate in our history has been able to do this. When the Supreme Court threw out Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s petition against President Buhari recently, he couldn’t summon the courage to accept defeat and congratulate Buhari. Do we still remember that Buhari himself never accepted defeat or congratulated his opponent? Those who think Jonathan’s gesture was not special need a rethink. Statesmanship.

Printed and Published in Lagos by THISDAY Newspapers Limited. Lagos: 35 Creek Road, Apapa, Lagos. Abuja: Plot 1, Sector Centre B, Jabi Business District, Solomon Lar Way, Jabi North East, Abuja . All Correspondence to POBox 54749, Ikoyi, Lagos. EMAIL: editor@thisdaylive.com, info@thisdaylive.com. TELEPHONE Lagos: 0802 2924721-2, 08022924485. Abuja: Tel: 08155555292, 08155555929 24/7 ADVERTISING HOT LINES: 0811 181 3085, 0811 181 3086, 0811 181 3087, 0811 181 3088, 0811 181 3089, 0811 181 3090. ENQUIRIES & BOOKING: adsbooking@thisdaylive.com

Profile for THISDAY Newspapers Ltd

SUNDAY 10TH NOVEMBER 2019 NEW  

SUNDAY 10TH NOVEMBER 2019 NEW  

Advertisement