November 1-10, 2013

November 1, 2013

Finally, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) ceased to exist as a corporate entity, as successor companies have taken over the hitherto monolithic electricity provider. Mixed reactions greeted this privatisation initiative as electricity workers’ union embarked on strike. Though FG admitted delay in payment of PHCN workers’ benefits and have partly responded to the commitment, the National Union of Electricity Employers (NUEE) said that the agreements met before final take-over by private owners has not been met. While FG protects privatised power assets with N1.28bn, it also pledged to monitor power investors. On the part of the new owners, they retained 40% of the workforce while others were shown the way out. The handing over across the nation, however, went without the much-trumpeted planned resistance from electricity workers, who had vowed to frustrate the exercise over alleged non-payment of their severance entitlements. And so it came to pass. As the PHCN is finally laid to rest, came up the Generation Companies (GENCOs) and the Distribution Companies (DISCOs) who are now responsible for provision of electricity in the country. Hmmnn…Lets see what they’ve got to offer, GENCOs and DISCOs.

And now it is the turn of the Yoruba to offer their submissions on how to move the country forward through a national dialogue. Stakeholders in Yoruba land, including the Yoruba Unity Forum, Yoruba Nationalists Assembly, Afenifere, Coalition of Oodua Self-Determination Groups, Oodua Foundation, National Committee of Yoruba Youths, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Oodua Foundation and South-West Consultative Forum, Oke Ogun Develoment Council, Awori Descendants Union among others turned up in large numbers at the National Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos, as they expressed their support for a national conference. All the groups collectively submitted that the national conference should be held before the 2015 polls, while commending the President for taking the bull by the horn to organise such a parley. Also speakers of respective groups advocated that the FG, political parties and states should have no role to play and that the recommendations of the conference should be subjected to a referendum in order for the country to evolve a truly representative constitution. In all, the meeting points on the issue to be discussed as proposed by Yoruba groups and leaders include revenue generation, constitution amendment, and equal representation in the forthcoming national conference. For who said what, it might interest you to know that General Alani Akinrinade, who stood in for Yoruba General Assemby said “On the mode of representation, of course, we thought it is quite possible to use ethnic nationalities to represent themselves in this conference. If anyone walks out of the conference, he can go and form his own country”. Perhaps another civil war around the corner if that should happen anyway. For Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, the Co-ordinator of the South-West Consultative Forum took a swipe at those that kicked against the conference, saying that “The proposed national conference will not fail. All ethnic nationalities should participate in the conference to rewrite the history of Nigeria. The national conference being proposed by President Jonathan is divine and we cannot have any general elections without a good constitution in place”. Ask Dr. Braithwaite himself, shey na today?

“I won’t be distracted by negative comments”, Jonathan said. Really? He seems serious and determined in being the President of Nigeria. While speaking at the funeral service held for his wife’s adopted mother, Madam Charity Oba, in Okrika town, Rivers State, he said that he had decided to ignore negative comments and criticisms of his administration by the opposition, noting that his legacies after office would vindicate him. He added that he would concentrate on delivering projects and programmes that would develop and make life better for its citizens. The President turned a motivational speaker when he said “To me as a political leader and most of my friends here who are politicians, politics or holding political offices is almost like death. The day you leave, what would people remember you for? That has always been my guiding principle. What challenges me every day is that the day I step out of the State House, what would the present and future generations of Nigerians remember me for? I believe that is what will guide most of us who are holding political offices”. Hmmnn, so inspiring. Don’t worry Baba Jonah, forever you will remain in our hearts and generation unborn thanks to the removal of oil subsidy.

Speaker House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal

November 2, 2013

Stampede is real and it happens. But none is more shocking to have 28 die, and 200 injured in a prayer ground tragedy that rocked the Holy Ghost Adoration Catholic Prayer Ministry in Ukeh, Idemili North Local Government of Anambra State. The incident occurred in the early hours of this day, at the end of the monthly Friday all-night prayers the church had. While some eye witness attributed the incident to an unprecedented crowd that besieged the prayer ground to seek the face of God, others said the large turnout could be as a result of the importance accorded every November 1st, which is All Saints’ Day to catholic church. Indications have emerged that the cause of these deaths was stampede and exhaustion which occured when people struggled to find their way out of the place. Earlier before the incident, the state governor, Mr. Peter Obi and the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Grand Allinace, Chief Willie Obiano, were said to have visited the church and addressed the congregation. Meanwhile, different versions have been put forward as to what caused the stampede. One of the versions said the stampede occurred when some of the worshippers shouted down Governor Obi while he was addressing them and went ahead to cause commotion. Another version had it that the stampede was caused by supporters of Ngige, Obi’s opponent, who, in their effort to block the way and cause confusion, shouted ‘fire, fire, fire’, thus causing the stampede.

 

November 3, 2013

Nigerians on this day viewed the solar eclipse that was seen in various parts of the world. The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) had earlier announced that a partial eclipse of the sun will occur on Sunday afternoon in some parts of Nigeria if not all. While the solar eclipse started in Abuja at exactly 1:30 pm as predicted by NASRDA, it was also observed by residents of Calabar, Lagos, Ijebu-Ode, Kano, Kaduna, Enugu and Ibadan. While warning Nigerians not to look directly at the rays of the eclipse as it is dangerous to the eyes, the NASRDA provided residents of Abuja with special glasses to view the eclipse. A solar eclipse is an astronomical event that occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth and partially blocks the sun. Meanwhile, the greatest total eclipse occurred in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 330km South-West of Liberia, and lasted for more than a minute. “Partial eclipse would occur in the country in April 2014, October 2014, March, April and September, 2015 and September 2016 as well”, the NASRDA reported.

Top photo, The Holy Ghost Adoration Ground, Anambra State, after the tragedy …

 

November 4, 2013

I hope they won’t bleed our economy to nothingness. The Federal Government and the Senate disagreed over the whereabouts of $1.03bn Excess Crude Fund. The discrepancy followed the disclosure by the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that the balance in the Excess Crude Account amounted to $4.3bn. Speaking at the Joint Senate Committee of Finance and Appropriation meeting on the 2013 budget and the FG revenue-generating agencies, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala did not divulge the total accrual to the account. Records available to the committee showed that the total inflow into the Escrow account was $14.06bn, while the outflow was $9bn leaving the account with a balance of $5.06bn. On the contrary, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala insisted that the balance to the Escrow account is $4.03bn. What happened to the $1.03bn? That’s what happens when a technocrat is involved. She also noted that the Escravos account, among other purposes, is meant for the payment of oil subsidy solely on petrol. On the status of the Sovereign Wealth Fund, she stated that “the SWF has $1bn, adding that there has not been further payment into the SWF”. There has been a leakage in the economy; government has launched actions to block the leakages. Present at the meeting was the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service who noted that “the FHG has lost N603.236bn between January and September 2013 adding that out of this figure, waivers on petroleum products gulped N236.88bn. Dikko also added that though the committee had projected revenue for 2013 as N718bn, only 530bn was realised giving a shortfall of N188bn.

 

November 5, 2013

The Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North submitted its report to President Jonathan, who immediately disapproved the idea of paying compensation to the victims of Boko Haram terror attacks in the country. However, he gave hope that such victims of the insurgency would be assisted by the Federal Government to get back to their feet. Speaking at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, President Jonathan noted that despite the risky challenges faced by the committee, it had laid the foundation for follow-up action, which would lead to the eventual control of the crisis, cautioning that while progress had been made, the war was yet to be won. Towards this end, the President added that a team would be set up in the National Security Council to review recommendations in the report. Meanwhile, the chairman of the committee and Minister of Special Duties, Alhaji Kabiru Turaki, who submitted the report had noted that some of the difficulties in having a productive dialogue, includes the refusal of their leaders to submit to the idea. He, however, observed that many of the key members of the insurgents, both in detention and at large, responded positively to contacts and had accepted the dialogue option as capable of fully resolving the conflict.

Following the drama that trailed the Benin interactive session when the confab committee requested for submissions of ethnic groups in Edo state, Col. Tony Nyiam (retd) resigned his appointment as a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee. On this day, Chief Solomon Asemota replaced Col. Nyiam. In a detailed letter conveyed to the President on the reasons of his resignation, Col. Nyiam traced the background of his resignation to the Benin incident which pitched him against Gov. Adams Oshiomhole. He wrote that “What became trouble was the governor’s talking down on people that gathered, among whom were former governors, senators, retired armed forces generals and judges. What was equally disturbing was the governor’s insensitiveness to the ethno-nationalities yearning for self-determination”. Therefore, it was imperative for him (Nyiam) to discountenance evil propagandists, who might derail the dialogue train on ill motives. This he did by tendering his resignation. While thanking the President for giving him the opportunity to serve Nigeria, he said that “I will be leaving the committee, believing that equity, fairness and justice will continue to be guiding principles of its deliberations. Like all Nigerians, i look forward to the report and will continue to believe that a better and greater Nigeria is possible”.

 

November 6, 2013

Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Amiru Sanusi averred that the trial court erred in law when he overruled Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s preliminary objection and assumed the jurisdiction in the suit, thus upturned the January 11 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja. You still can’t understand? You are a learner. The long and short of the story is that the People’s Democratic Party has been thrown into another round of crisis as the Court of Appeal, Abuja division, reversed the sack of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the National Secretary of the PDP, and people said “this is judiciary debacle”. Reacting to the judgment, counsel of the Ogun State Executive Committee, Ajibola Oluyede, said there was no evidence to support the reasons given by the Court of Appeal. He said his clients would appeal the judgment at the Supreme Court to maintain status quo. So, stay tuned to PDP TV, the story has just begun…

All forms of political, social and religious gatherings at the nation’s airports have been banned by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar. He said the airports are exclusive security zones. Further that the ban was necessary to avert security breaches and protect critical infrastructure, travellers, aircrew, airport staff and personnel at the nation’s local and international airports. This decision was taken after at a strategic security meeting at the Force Headquarters, Abuja. But where was this policy when the G-7 governors were attacked at the Port-Harcourt International Airport? Ok, one of the reasons that prompted it, well, if they mean well, it is well.

 

November 7, 2013

Wonders has just begun o, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission seized 61 houses from an official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps while investigating the alleged land scam, allocations and racketeering in the Federal Capital Territory. Please, don’t query me on what is not mine, I don’t know if he acquires that with his salary, but I can categorically tell you that he emulates the legacies and qualities of the great leaders of our weeping country. ICPC Chairman, Mr Ekpo Nta, who said the agency embarked on the investigation, following a formal complaint from the Commandant General of NSCDC, Dr. Ade Abolurin, who personally visited him and called for the investigation in a view to getting to the root of the matter, gave the breakdown of the 61 houses seized from the official as 40 units of 3bedroom flats, 20 units of 2bedroom flats and a duplex. So, why become a Senator when you can already acquire countless properties as an NSCDC official? NSCDC to sure…

This time around though they threw no chair and neither did they throw punch at each other, they are getting more matured and we hope it gets better and permanent. But yet, there was a sharp division at the green chamber of the National Assembly as always. The reason was no other than the proposed budget presentation of President Goodluck Jonathan, whether he should be admitted or not. Did you say why won’t he be admitted, relax, don’t conclude yet, they are only not pleased with the fact that the executive arm of government had continued to take the budget presentation as mere yearly ritual without taking a point of duty to implement. In the words of Hon. Ali Madaki, he wants the presentation of the budget to be put on hold pending the time percentage of the implementation of the 2013 budget would be determined by the various committees of the House who had gone out on oversight of capital component of the budget. However, Hons. Raphael Nnana Igbokwe, Warman Ogoriba, Tajudeen Yusuf among others maintained that it was the constitutional responsibility of the President to present the budget estimates to the National Assembly, hence he should not be stopped from performing his constitutional right. But Hon. Ben Nwankwo insisted that the House also has constitutional responsibility to postpone the presentation until the 2013 budget performance is satisfactorily implemented, lo ba tan. When the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, who presided over the session put the question through voice vote, there was still a sharp division among members, but the Speaker ruled in favour of those that voted “Yes”.

 

November 8, 2013

Just what we desired, amidst political tension, ASUU crisis, sales of PHCN and total black out, Nigerians were made proud and made to smile again. Though there was no light but the viewing centres did it all and they made their cash. The Golden Eaglets promised and delivered unlike our governments, they became the most successful team in FIFA U-17 World Cup history with a 3-0 win over Mexico at the Mohammad BinZayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. By far the most exciting team of the tournament, they beat the defending champions, Mexico to win the trophy in a final match and emerged the first country to win the junior world trophy four times. It was indeed, one of Nigeria’s finest days in recent times. When the final whistle was blown, the newly emerged world champions rejoiced while they pointed to the sky in what appeared to be an adopted jubilation, chanting “yes, yes, yes!” Great…like the Eaglets, Nigeria need leaders who can win gold, not those who will steal it.

Golden Eaglets celebrates

November 9, 2013

I don’t like this, a bloody Saturday; No fewer than 35 people were feared killed in Seven Agatu villages in Benue State in a fresh invasion by suspected heavily armed Fulani herdsmen. The villagers were caught unaware and trapped in the battle area. And there were no security men on ground to stop the gunmen, who had the upper hand and were progressing to neighbouring villages. The state Commissioner of Works and Transport, Mr. John Ngbede, who is a native of Agatu had previously raised the alarm of persistent invasion of Agatu villages by suspected Fulani herdsmen.  But in a swift reaction, the state Secretary of Miyette Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Garus Gololo dispelled claims that the attackers were Fulani herdsmen. He stressed that since a reconciliation committee was set up by the Ochi Idoma to broker peace between the Fulanis and Agatu natives, there had never been a reason for them to fight again. Whichever, all we ask is that they stop the killing.

 

November 10, 2013

I think I have heard this news before, they only raised my hope and nothing eventually happened it rather ended being a cheap talk. It is Academic Staff Union of Universities again in the news as it’s been happening for 4 months. They said indications have emerged that they may call off the strike next Thursday. Barring a last-minute change, the National Executive Committee of ASUU will meet on Wednesday night to consider the position of the congresses of the over 50 public universities on the offer made by the Federal government to revamp the institutions. The union met with a Federal Government team led by President Goodluck Jonathan last Tuesday in Abuja, they however, directed the local branches to organize congress meetings to enable all lecturers to make input into the action the union would take after its NEC meeting on Thursday. Feelers thus emerged that ASUU would suspend the strike after the Thursday NEC meeting. You want my sincere opinion? I no trust them, dear.

What good news, National Honours for members and handlers of the newly crowned Golden Eaglets. This was made known by President Goodluck Jonathan at a reception held in honour of the players at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with a cash gift of N2m each for all the players, N2.5m each for the assistant coaches and a N3m cash gift to the team’s head coach.  The physiotherapist and team secretary gets N500,000 each while the team technical officer, team coordinator, medical officers and the curator will get N300,000 each. Jonathan said with the gift. Hmmnn, a promise kept, a promise delivered.

Minister of Power, Chinedu Nebo

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