RECORD KEEPER FOR MARCH 2013

1st March 2013

The beginning of this month was very good for Mr. President, it was a day to pop champagne. Why? A Federal Capital Territory High Court today declared that President Goodluck Jonathan could contest the 2015 presidential election.

The court, presided by Justice Mudashiru Onayangi, made the declaration in its judgment in a suit which sought to stop Jonathan from the 2015 race. Justice Oniyangi struck out the suit filed by a member of the People’s Democratic Party, Mr.Cyriacus Njoku.

The court was also asked to stop the other respondents – Peoples Democratic Party and the Independent National Electoral Commission – from sponsoring or accepting Jonathan as a candidate in the forthcoming poll. Njoku had, through his counsel, Mr. Ngochukwu Osuagwu, asked the court to stop Jonathan from contesting the presidential election in 2015 on the grounds that he was already in his second term in office. But the court said no, and theman with good luck became happier.

We heard also today that our President, Goodluck Jonathan, was not afraid to visit any part of the country contrary to insinuations in some quarters. Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, stated this in an exclusive interview with our correspondent.

Gulak was reacting to Thursday’s visit of governors of the parties in the newly formed All Progressives Congress to Maiduguri, Borno State, where insinuations were made that leaders should be courageous to visit any part of the country.

Borno State remained the centre of activities of the fundamental Islamic sect, Boko Haram and Jonathan had not visited the state since the insurgency, which had claimed several lives, began in 2009. And seriously, one could not blame the man jare: who wan die!

2nd March 2013

Obj don come again o. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo today in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, declared that Nigeria lacked good leaders. Yeepa! Obasanjo lamented that the dearth of good leaders in the country as well as on the African continent, had become an issue that deserved serious attention.

This might be what the former Minister of Defence also saw when he said anarchy loomed in Nigeria because of the problem in the north. Theophilous Yakubu Danjuma said in Zaria today that with the current security challenges facing the country, Nigerians must unite to save the country from imminent collapse. He said the looming anarchy posed by the security challenges in the North, would consume all if not handled urgently.

To crown the leadership palava, The Abia State University withdrew the degree certificate it awarded to a former governor of the state, Uzor Orji Kalu. The University in a statement by its Registrar, O.E. Onuoha, said the decision was taken after an emergency meeting of the university senate. Whereas, it was this same senate that gave Kalu the certificate without fulfilling the conditions set by it. But then he was the governor, and now, an ordinary citizen.

 

3rd March 2013

It was cheering news today when those who loved violent death were killed by bullets. Twenty suspected members of Boko Haram were killed after a failed attack on a military barracks in Borno. This happened as the leader of the sect, Abubakar Shekau, denied the purported ceasefire and dialogue with the federal government by his group. Shekau, in a new video released by the sect at the weekend, also denied Sheikh Abdulazeez, stressing that nobody had asked anybody in the name of Abdulazeez to represent him or his movement.

And this is unbelievable! The killing of Kwara State Cmmissioner of Police, Mr. Chinwike Asadu, in Enugu today sent shock waves across the country. The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, directed the police homicide squad to fish out the gunmen who waylaid and killed Asadu on Saturday night while on a visit to his home in Enugu. He was killed at about 9.45pm in Abakpa Nike, Enugu East Local Government Area, by the gunmen who trailed him to his street. When a whole commissioner of police is assassinated, what happens to those who look on police for protection.

 

4th March 2013

What should he do now! While the Northern State Governors Forum (NSGF) was paying tribute to former president Olusegun Obasanjo who attained 76 years of age, saying the former Nigerian leader had lived a fulfilled life of service to Nigeria in particular, and humanity in general, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) said the old man should be sent to prison.

Chairman of NSGF and Governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu said at 76, former President Obasanjo remained the reference point on good governance, statesmanship, diplomacy, conflict resolution and prudent management of resources.

But the CPC called for the trial of the former President for genocide over the 1999 invasion of Odi community in Bayelsa State. Spokesman for the party, Rotimi Fashakin, said, sequel to the court description of the 1999 attack on Odi by Nigerian soldiers as genocide, Obasanjo should be arrested and tried before the International Criminal Court.

Now it crawled in again. Nigeria’s domestic and external debts stood at a N7.5 trillion as of December 31, 2012. Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Dr Abraham Nwankwo, disclosed today that the external debt of Nigeria, as of that date stood at $6.5 billion (N1.040 trillion), while the domestic debt within the same period was N6.5 trillion. Many citizens continued to pray that debt would not run the nation aground!

5th March 2013

Could visit to a troubled state make one a thief? Yes, it could! For the Presidency appeared to be bellyaching over the visit of nine opposition governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to Borno and Yobe states. Senior Special Adviser to the President of Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe accused the governors of “stealing” President Goodluck Jonathan’s scheduled plan to visit the two troubled states.

At a news conference in Abuja today, Okupe said Jonathan had long been scheduled to visit Borno State this week, adding that having got wind of the President’s plans, the governors hurriedly packaged the visit to preempt the President’s planned visit. What a coincidence, Mr. Special Adviser!

And to settle the matter, The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar III, today asked President Goodluck Jonathan to grant members of the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, “total amnesty” for the sake of peace in the country.

Abubakar, who by his position as Sultan, is the spiritual head of Nigerian Muslims, argued that a residential amnesty to even one member of the sect, could make others to lay down their arms for peace to reign in the nation.

Blaming the security challenges confronting the country on injustice “meted out to the people,” he said the muslim community in Nigeria was concerned about the spate of bombings and killings by Boko Haram members, especially in the North.

Abubakar spoke at the meeting of the Central Council of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam in Kaduna. And all present at the meeting could not help shouting at once Allahu akbar!

As if this was not enough for one day, news came in that the simmering crisis in the Ogun State House of Assembly finally erupted today as pandemonium broke out on the floor of the House following attempt by the Speaker, Suraj Adekunbi, to suspend four “errant” lawmakers. In the melee, the mace, the House’s symbol of the authority, was broken and curiously, Adekunle was “Suspended” by another group of 14 lawmakers.

 

6th March 2013

Now to show that our President was not afraid to visit troubled area, more than 3, 000 policemen and 100 State Security Service (SSS) operatives were deployed in Borno State to protect President Goodluck Jonathan, who was visiting the state and neighbouring Yobe. The two states were the epicenter of Boko Haram’s activities. Thousands had been killed in the insurgency launched by the sect, which was pushing for Sharia, the strict Islamic code, among others.

The security cover for the President’s first visit since the insurgency began waa coordinated by the Chief of Defence Staff, Vice-Admiral Ibrahim Ola Sa’ad and In-spector-General of Police Mohammed Abubakar.

Also today, a flurry of opposition greeted the Sultan of Sokoto’s Amnesty demand for members of the violent Islamist sect, Boko Haram, with the major ethnic associations outside of the North condemning the demand. Both the Pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere and youth wing of Ndigbo kicked against the Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar’s call which they described as unfortunate and outrageous.

A former President-General of the Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, said it was premature at this stage to be talking about granting amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect. Ikedife told one of our correspondents on the telephone that inasmuch as there was an urgent need to stop the senseless killings by the Boko Haram sect, it was more important first to identify the sect’s leaders and their backers and dialogue with them to know what they really wanted.

Good sense now prevailed as Members of the Ogun State House of Assembly apologized to the citizens of the state for their conduct during the plenary session on Tuesday, which turned into pandemonium. That day, there was confusion in the chamber when the Speaker, Honourable Suraj Ishola Adekunbi, purportedly suspended four lawmakers for what he described as unparliamentary behaviour and gross disrespect to the legislative institution.Worried by the development, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, on Wednesday morning, summoned an emergency meeting with the warring groups to settle the crisis. And they sang: No more war!

 

7th March 2013

For a brief moment Jega was in trouble. The former presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday said the 2015 election might not be free and fair-unless the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was disbanded. Besides, said Gen. Buhari, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – Federal Government had emasculated the Judiciary since 2003 to the extent that the court could not protect the ballot. So if INEC should go, then Jega would go!

But the most interesting news came from the President himself today as proponents of amnesty for Boko Haram members got a piece of bad news from him. President Goodluck Jonathan said the government would not give amnesty to ghosts. “The issue cannot be discussed, for now,” he said emphatically.

Dr. Jonathan spoke in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, on the first leg of his visit to the twin states of Borno and Yobe-epicentre of Boko Haram insurgency. The government, he said, could not grant amnesty to “ghosts”, adding that there was no parallel between the Boko Haram insurgency and the militancy in the Niger Delta, which was tackled with amnesty programme by the Yar’adua administration when he was vice president. Case closed!

8th March 2013

And the President was angry! Borno elders today drew the ire of president Goodluck Jonathan for demanding the withdrawal of the military Joint Task Force (JTF), which they accused of committing atrocities against their people. After requesting that he should take the JTF away from their state, the President snarled: “We are not so happy to be spending so much money keeping JTF in borno state and other places. In fact, if the elders agree now to come and sign agreement that I should move out all the JTF, I will do it; but if anybody dies in Borno state, I will hold them responsible. If anybody dies, yes, I will take you. I am going to remove the JTF, but come and sign!” Well, no one came out!

But there was just another problem at the backyard of the President and the People’s Democratic Party had begun desperate moves to prevent governors elected on its platform as well as its members from carrying out their threat to defect to the newly formed All Progressive Congress.

This followed indications that no fewer than 12 PDP governors as well as many of the national and state assembles and its 36 state chapter were being wooed by APC chieftains. Some of the governors had told PDP leaders last week that they would leave the fold in protest at the disdain which President Goodluck Jonathan and the party leadership had shown for them. The President was somewhere shouting, Tukur, don’t allow them go!

 

9th March 2013

Could Namadi Sambo have survived this? Prominent Northern politicians launched a search for a vice- presidential candidate to be the running mate of the region’s consensus candidate during the 2015 presidential election. Information gathered today showed that the yet-to-be chosen consensus candidate and his running mate would contest on the platform of the All Progressive Congress. The power brokers from the North had already penciled in the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fahola; his Edo State counterpart, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole; and Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State.

Well, if IBB said so, then it was so! Former military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida, today claimed that only the emergence of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as President in 1999 save the country from possible disintegration. Babangida, a key figure in the drafting of Obasanjo into the race, said on the Kaduna based Liberty Radio that the events in the country then demanded a leader who was and ready to work hard to keep the country one.

“We have to simplify a lot of things without going back to what happened before. The emergence of Obasanjo came about as a result of what happened in the country. The country was in a very serious crisis and we had to find solution to these problems. Therefore, we needed a leader, that leader who is known in the country,” he said. So the Obasanjo presidency was not a matter of votes or voting, it was a matter of calculation and selection. Not election!

10th March 2013

Now, the Governors Forum crisis was set to return in a more vicious manner. There were plans to discredit Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi and unleash anti-graft agencies on top officials of Rivers State – all in a bid to force a new leadership. Some “powerful forces” in Abuja and the presidency were fingered in the plot allegedly designed to “cut Amaechi to size”

It was gathered today that some forces in Abuja, in connivance with  about five governors, were uncomfortable that Amaechi had an edge and earned public sympathy in the battle with the presidency over the election of a new chairman for the Nigeria Governors forum (NGF).

But there was a sad event of the day as the Italian, British and Greek governments confirmed that hostages from their countries were among seven construction workers reportedly killed in Nigeria by Islamist militant group, Ansaru, at the weekend. The Greek foreign ministry said it believed its national was dead. And there was panic among the people of power in Nigeria.

 

11th March 2013

Even today, the Federal Government had not made an official statement on the “purported execution of the hostages” because it had not ascertained the truth or otherwise of it, sources said yesterday. The only information available to the government was about the illness of three of the seven hostages. Security agencies and the embassies had been working round the clock to establish where the killing took place and how to retrieve the bodies.

Then came this funny but disgraceful act of a grandma! A 53-year old grandmother was apprehended at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja. She was arrested at the weekend by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) following the discovery and seizure of 1.00kg of white powdery substance that tested positive for cocaine hidden inside her hair. The woman, Giwa Ayoka Sikirat, concealed the drug in her beautiful hair style while trying to board an Ethiopian Airline Flight ET 910 to Pakistan enroute Addis Ababa and Dubai. That was a computerised drug pushing!

 

12th March 2013

The President had a godfather, and the godfather had spoken, saying nobody could intimidate President Goodluck Jonathan from participating in the 2015 presidential race if he wished to seek a second term. Chief Edwin Clark, a leader from the Niger-Delta, who spoke to reporters in Abuja today, also read a letter, which he addressed to the Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu. In the letter, he accused Aliyu of lying that Jonathan had an agreement with northern governors to serve only a single term as President in 2011. Clark’s letter to Aliyu followed a claim by the governor that the President had an agreement with the governors to run for a single term.

Now, there was outrage in the land, because there were indications today that the National Council of State presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan had approved a presidential pardon for a former Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Dipreye Alamieyeisegha. Alamieyeisegha, who Jonathan recently described as his political benefactor, was convicted of corruption. His removal from office by the state House of Assembly led to his arrest, prosecution and conviction. Alamieyeseigha’s exit led to the emergency of Jonathan who was his deputy, as the Bayelsa State Governor.

 

13th March 2013

Oh, it was a bad day! Heavily armed robbers today invaded the International Wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport Lagos, killed two policemen and made away with a huge amount of foreign currencies from some bureau-de-change operators at the nation’s premier gateway. The dare devil robbers, who arrived the airport some few minutes to nine, headed for the BDC operators centre near the car park and started shooting sporadically. The robbers, numbering over 10, engaged in a gun duel for about 30 minutes by policemen attached to the airport.

And without a hitch, a new Pope was announced for the Roman Catholic Church, he was Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76-year-old Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He was to be known as Pope Francis. After five ballots which resulted in stalemate, white smoke, at last, poured from the roof of the Sistine Chapel today and the St. Peter’s Basilica bells rang at exactly 6.00 GMT, signaling a new Pope had been chosen by cardinals. He was announced to the world as 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church almost one and a half hours after his election.

 

14th March 2013

Confusion in the land! Confusion in the parties! Confusion over the use of the acronym, APC, worsened today as a third group, the All Patriotic Citizens, which was seeking registration as a political party, laid claim to it. Two groups – the All Progressives Congress and the African People’s Congress – had earlier engaged in a war of words over the ownership of the acronym. The All Patriotic Citizens and the African People Congress said they had submitted their registration applications to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for registration as political parties. But the merger committee of the sponsors of the All Progressives Congress – the Action Congress of Nigeria, the Congress for Progressive Change, the All Nigeria Peoples Party and the All Progressive Grand Alliance – said there was no going back on the decision by the group to use the acronym.

A fresh controversy broke out yesterday over the state pardon granted former Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and others. Former Chief of General Staff Lt-Gen. Oladipo Diya, Maj-Gen. A.K. Adisa, Maj-Gen. A. T. Olanrewaju and others were also pardoned. But critics of President Goodluck Jonathan’s action were saying the pardon was targetted at Alamieyeseigha and that others were listed merely “to justify the action and give it a national spread” They had been punished, said the critics. But proponents of the action were insisting that what Diya and the others got was “clemency”, not pardon. Gen. Abdulsalami, the then Head of State, in the “Supplement to The Official Gazette Extraordinary No 33, Vol. 86” published on May 26, 1999, granted Diya and other clemency 14 years ago.

15th March 2013

Then it was not surprising that a diplomatic row sparked this night between Nigeria and the United States of America (USA) over the pardon the Federal Government granted a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the US Deputy Chief of Mission after the Embassy said that it was “deeply disappointed” by the pardon. Alamieyeseigha, who was jailed for stealing public funds, was granted pardon on Tuesday by the Council of State at a meeting in Abuja.

In fact, Alamieyeseigha might be arrested anytime he stepped out of Nigeria, as he was still under investigation in some countries. This was not withstanding the presidential pardon. Diplomatic sources indicated that the ex-governor risked arrest because the international investigation of his involvement in corruption and money laundering was still on course.

Also today, a reconciliation meeting of the People’s Democratic Party in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, suffered a setback as former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former governors of Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo states were absent. The ex-governors were Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Adebayo Alao-Akala, Segun Oni and Olusegun Agagu respectively. They all boycotted the party’s South-West National Chairman’s Town Hall meeting. The meeting was part of the party’s efforts at reconciling aggrieved members ahead of future elections. Clearly, there was trouble in the house of the President.

 

16th March 2013

Well, the United States of America made it clear today that it was not taking matters lightly with Nigeria over the controversial pardon granted the former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. Speaking at the U.S. Department of State’s daily press briefing in Washington D.C., spokesperson for the department, Victoria Nuland, confirmed that the pardon might jeopardise the governance projects America was executing in Nigeria.

But there was more outrage nationwide also after over N6 billion was donated in Lagos at the fund raising in aid of St. Stephen’s Anglican Deanery and Youth Development Centre, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, home town of President Goodluck Jonathan. The event attended by the president held at the high brow Civil Centre, Victoria Island. The highest donation was given by Prince Arthur Eze, a business tycoon. He donated N1.8 billion. Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State made a donation of N230 million on behalf of the newly formed PDP Governors Forum. The belief was that if Jonathan were not the president, who would have donated this much.

 

17th March 2013

Many were shocked today to learn that ex-Wema Bank MD, Chief Samuel Igbayilola Adegbite was dead. He died at a Lagos hospital at the age of 73. Adegbite, an accomplished industrialist, lawyer and distinguished banker, turned 73 in January. Until his death, he was the chairman, Oasis Group Limited, Oasis Insurance Plc and Intercontinental Homes Savings and Loans Limited.

The Presidency was not happy with US, it summoned United States Ambassador Terence McCulley over his comment on the Boko Haram insurgency. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, who invited the Ambassador, discussed with him his comment, which the government said it was not comfortable with. Speaking in a telephone conference with journalists from four locations in West Africa on Thursday, Ambassador McCulley said: “The Boko Haram phenomenon has not stopped as a result of the operation going on in northern Mali. I do believe that Nigerians feel that there is a link between extremist activity in the Sahel and in their internal extremist insurgency.

“The government of Nigeria clearly needs to address this issue with what we call a multi-pronged approach that focuses generally on the security threat that Boko Haram represents. Also, in addressing economic and social conditions that exist in the North, communicating to northern populations, who have suffered most from the deprivations of these extremist attacks.” This was what annoyed the government!

 

18th March 2013

Again, suicide bombers struck in Kano today, killing no fewer than 25 people. Some of the dead included passengers aboard a Lagos-bound luxury bus. Park workers and traders were also killed at the New Road Motor Park in Sabon Gari, which was predominantly occupied by non-indigenes in the North’s commercial headquarters. Many were injured.

The attack, which occurred at about 4:30 pm during the peak period, was targeted at the 59-seater luxury bus, which was blown up as it was departing the park.Three suicide bombers positioned their Golf car, which had been primed with explosives, between Gobison Luxury Bus and one other before detonating the explosives.

Even then, politics found its way into the news today as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar vowed to resist any attempt to foist President Goodluck Jonathan on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the sole candidate in 2015. Atiku, who had declared his intention to seek the PDP ticket ahead of the 2015 polls, spoke in Kano today. He was reacting to alleged surreptitious moves to amend the PDP Constitution to pave the way for Jonathan’s sole candidacy.

 

19th March 2013

Another crisis reared its head out today, coming from the presidency. President Goodluck Jonathan said there was no going back on total subsidy removal, though he said the government would continue to dialogue with Nigerians, to make them reason with the government on the need for the removal. The President who was speaking at the Nigeria Summit 2013, organized by the Economist, in Lagos, said it did not make economic sense to continue to waste resources meant for greater numbers of Nigerians to subsidise the rich in the society, stressing that his government would continue to enlighten Nigerians on the need to remove the subsidy. The same excuse! The same euphemism for fuel price increase! The same reason for trouble!

 

20th March 2013

This might get out of hand. The pan Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo, said it could no longer guarantee peace in the East in the face of the continued killing of the Igbo in some states in the North. The group said that stopping its youths from carrying out reprisal attack over the years even in the face of extreme anger had been an onerous job. It added that it was not sure if it would continue to restrain them from doing so, especially in the South-East. Ohaneze Ndigbo, in a statement by its Secretary General Dr. Joe Nwaorgu, said this today while reacting to the bombings in Kano State in which many Igbo were killed. But just as the statement was made available to journalists, Juma’atu Nasril Islam, a group led by Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar 111, called on the Federal Government to urgently track down and bring those behind the series of bombings and killings in the country to book.

Also Senators today gave the Executive a wake-up call on the Boko Haram insurgency. The Senator urged the Executive to consider other options and strategies that would be effective in fighting the crisis. Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, at plenary in Abuja, described the multiple explosions that left dozens dead in Kano on Monday as regrettable. He said it was high time the Federal Government tackled the security challenge headlong. He also urged relevant senate committees to critically appraise the entire appalling scenario with a view to making a positive input. And there was no other topical issue in the land today than Boko Haram.

 

21st March 2013

Today, renowned evangelist and founder of the World Soul Winning Evangelical Mission (WOSEM), Prophet Timothy Obadare, died. Obadare, an Akure, Ondo State evangelist noted for the monthly Koseunti Crusade, died at an undisclosed private hospital in Akure, the state capital. He was 85. The late cleric was of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) before the ministry fell into a crisis over certain issues. Obadare’s death was confirmed by the Chairman Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ondo State branch, Bishop Joshua Ketiku, who said it came as a rude shock. The CAN chairman said the deceased lived a good life and had gone to rest, adding: “Baba is happier where he is now”.

But fear gripped many residents of Lagos today when news filtered in that troops, numbering about 100 stormed terror suspects’ hideouts in Ijora, a densely populated part of the city. The soldiers, who were assisted by men of the State Security Service, were believed to have acted on a tip-off. They were said to have arrived in the area around 7am in search of the suspect said to be members of an Islamic fundamental sect, Boko Haram. It was learnt that their search yielded fruits when two persons were arrested at 24 Aromire street and three others at a location on an adjacent street. The soldiers then ransacked the building at Aromire Street where one of the arrested persons, Ibrahim Musa, occupied five rooms. A bomb kept in a cooler and hidden inside the ceiling of one of the rooms in Musa’s apartment was recovered by the soldiers. Musa, who was described as an Illegal alien from Chad, was said the leader of the suspects.

22nd March 2013

As if this month was the month of death. One of the best known Nigerians ever, and celebrated author, Chinua Achebe, died today night throwing the international community into mourning. Prof. Achebe, 82, passed on in a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America (USA) following a brief illness, according to his agent Andrew Wylie. He said of him in a brief statement: “One of the great literary voices of his time, he was also a beloved husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him. Professor Achebe’s family requests privacy at this time.”

President Goodluck Jonathan and governors immediately mourned the death of the foremost writer, saying the deceased’s frank, truthful and fearless interventions in national affairs would be greatly missed. Jonathan’s position was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati. The President said although some people may have disagreed with the deceased’s views, most Nigerians never doubted his immense patriotism and sincere commitment to the building of a greater, more united and prosperous nation that all Africans and the entire black race could be proud of.

23rd March 2013

And this was another weekend of violence in Adamawa, Benue and Kano states, with about 32 people reportedly feared dead across the three states as a result of terrorist attacks and renewed ethnic hostilities, even as three other explosions were reported at the Eastern by-pass, Hotoro and Sharada quarters of Kano in the early hours of today. In Ganye town of Adamawa State, gunmen numbering about 30 raided on the town at night, killing a former Commissioner for Health in the cabinet of Governor Boni Haruna, Mr Adiel Billae; the chief prison warder of Ganye prison, the proprietor of a popular joint known as IK; his wife and no fewer than 20 others.

But this would not deter the National Chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, today from warning his party members that the emergence of the All Progressive Congress (APC) was for real and posed a formidable threat in the 2015 elections. “There is a group that just came up and wants to sweep the mat off our feet, we must fight it out”

 

24th March 2013

But it was like no one was listening, because it came to light today that the nationwide party reconciliation tour embarked upon by the National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Bamanga Tukur, did not yield the desired result as state governors elected under the umbrella of the party, shunned an event put together by Tukur to celebrate his first anniversary in office.

The occasion, which took place at the International Conference Centre (ICC) Abuja was meant to be the grand rally to round off the national reconciliation tour just concluded by Tukur.

Besides the absence of President Goodluck Jonathan who was represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo, only two governors, Godswill Akapabio of Akwa Ibom who was also the chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum and Idris Wada of Kogi State attended the event out of 23 state governors.

Of course, it would get to this! Activist-lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) today said it would be immoral and illegal for the Federal Government to increase the price of petrol under any guise. He described as “provocative” an announcement by President Goodluck Jonathan about a planned full deregulation of the downstream of the petroleum sector. Falana, in a statement, said another hike in the pump price of petrol under the pre-text of deregulation would inflict harsh economic hardship on hapless Nigerians.

He said doing so would also be illegal, as a court last week declared deregulation illegal. Falana warned that should Federal Government go ahead with the plan; it should be ready to face the wrath of Nigerians who would be ready to make the country “Completely ungovernable.”

Now, could we call him “Baba No Regret?” Former Chief of General Staff, Lt-Gen. Oladipo Diya (retd), says though he opposed the tyrannical tendencies of the late Gen. Sanni Abacha’s regime, he did not regret serving in the administration. Diya said this today during a press conference at his Ikeja, Lagos residence. He insisted that the Abacha regime had one of the best cabinet ever assembled in Nigeria, parading such men as current National Chairman of the PDP, Bamanga Tukur, former Governor of Lagos State, Lateef Jakande; and Chief Ebenezer Babatope.

He recalled that he went through hell over the allegation of planning a coup levelled against him and many others some of whom he never knew, but were made to suffer because of the regime’s determination to eliminate him. He, however, said as a Christian, he had forgiven the late Abacha as well as all those who vilified and neglected him during his trying period. At least, it was good to hear from the General after a very long time in the cooler, he was now a General, retired but not tired!

 

25th March 2013

Who had the franchise to the acronym-APC? The All Progressives Congress or the African People’s Congress? It seemed this controversy would soon end.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) today turned down the application of the African People’s Congress, one of the three parties laying claim to the ownership of the acronym. The three parties are seeking registration with INEC. The electoral body had initially kept quiet over the rejection of the African People’s Congress, but when the group cried foul, the electoral body came out to confirm the rejection, backing its action with Section 222 A of the Constitution. The party’s protem chairman, Chief Onyinye Ikeagwuonu, yesterday in a statement entitled: “A brewing storm,” alleged that the electoral body planned to deny it registration.

Also, alarmed by the possibility of disintegration, and the threat by opposition parties, the People Democratic Party leaders have decided to come down from their high horse and beg the aggrieved governors of the party. The governor’ mass boycott of the party’s peace meeting and celebration of the first anniversary of its National Working Committee, chaired by Alhaji Bamagar Tukur, on Sunday, had apparently sent jitters through the leadership, hence the decision to appease the state chief executives.

 

26th March, 2013

This was a bad news for Lagosians. Seventeen illegal immigrants arrested in Lagos by a joint team of policemen and Lagos State Task Force on Environment and other Offences may have been linked to terrorism.

The immigrants, said to be Nigeriens, who were among the 92 illegal immigrants arrested last week were handed over to the police by the National Immigration Service (NIS). Rasheed Odupeyin, the Comptroller of Immigration, speaking with newsmen today revealed that 57 of the immigrants were repatriated yesterday.

Also, it emerged in Abuja today that some governors of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who were planning to defect to the emerging mega party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) were gripped by the fear that President Goodluck Jonathan could give them the James Ibori or Timpre Sylva treatment if elected in 2015. Sources at a meeting of the merger APC held in Abuja stated that three of the PDP governors who approached the leaders of the party stated that they were afraid that the Anti-graft agencies could go after them and that if Jonathan got elected again in 2015, he would not give them any cover.

And in what appeared to be a major breakthrough in Nigeria’s war against terror, a former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Henry Okah, was today sent to 24 years in prison by a South Arican court sitting in Johannesburg. The judge, Neels Claassen, found Okah guilty of 13 offences, including the setting off of two bombs in Abuja and Warri, Delta State, on October 1, 2010. He was also sentenced for threatening the South African government after his arrest.

27th March 2013

Tukur: Nigeria under attack

No politics today and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, confessed that Nigeria was under attack. It was a day security remained on the front burner, with senators and the Service Chiefs meeting and the police making a haul of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Kano. Fielding question from reporters in Abuja on sundry national isues, Tukur pleaded with opposition political parties, organized labour, traditional rulers and other stakeholders to confront the insecurity which was threatening the nation’s peaceful co-existence.

Tukur said: “Today, there is fear everywhere. Churches are being burnt. Mosques are being attacked. United Nations building bombed; motor parks are being bombed. People cannot go to motor parks again to travel for the fear of being attacked. Security installations, such as police stations, prisons are being burnt down and inmates released at will. Nobody knows the next target of attack.”

Many critics, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, have blamed the PDP and the President for not tackling the Boko Haram crisis well. To Tukur, neither the party nor the President should carry the can.

Oh, not in this month again! Oluwole Awolowo, son of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, died today in London. He was 70. The Vice Chairman of the African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc, publishers of the Tribune titles, died at 7.40pm (Nigeria time) in Wellington Hospital, St. Johnswood, London.

 

28th March 2013

Things were not going well for these once-upon-a-time good friends. President Goodluck Jonathan was under pressure to dump the National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Bamangar Tukur, as a precondition for peace in the party which was currently riddled with internal crisis. Afraid that the Tukur issue with the governors who had insisted on winning their “Tukur-Most-Go” battle could further tear the party apart, Jonathan’s close aides reportedly joined the crusade for the President to part ways with the Party national chairman, his friend.

While sources in the Presidency indicated that Jonathan had not been happy with the demand for Tukur’s removal, his aides were said to have continued to insist that it was the only way to go in saving the party from disintegration.

Then, this from another household of government. Embattled Imo State Deputy Governor Jude Agbaso today lost the battle to stop his impeachment. The House of Assembly impeached him. The action, which caught the deputy governor unawares, followed the decision of the seven-man probe panel inaugurated by the Chief Judge, Justice Benjamin Njemanze, to continue with the investigation of the fraud allegation against Agbaso. Of the 27 members of the House, 23 endorsed the impeachment motion, which was moved by the Majority Leader, Adaku Ihuoma, representing Ahiazu Mbaise Constituency and seconded by Pat Ekeji, the minority Leader, representing Aboh Mbaise. The Speaker, Benjamin Uwajumogu, ruled in favour of the impeachment.

 

29th March 2013

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Following the discovery of bombs in a building in Lagos State and reports of likely invasions of South-west region by suspected Boko Haram members, the police deployed crack teams of police men to patrol worship centres during and after the Easter service in the region. Indeed, police commands in all the states in the zone stepped up surveillance around worship centres while churches and communities were asked to be vigilant. Specifically, worshippers were advised not to allow anyone to charge phones or any electronic devices during church service.

Just as this was on, a fresh crisis loomed between the National chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party over plans to conduct a fresh election in the South West into the office of the PDP National Secretary. The proposed election would lead to the replacement of the sacked National Secretary of the party, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who was removed after a judgment delivered by Justice Abdu Kafarati of the Federal High Court Abuja on January 11, 2013. Tukur was quoted as saying the caretaker committee currently in place (in the South West zone) would hold a fresh congress where a new secretary would be elected.

 

30th March 2013

At last, an answer had been given to the poser of the Presdent that he could not give amnest to faceless persons, or ghost. The Chairman Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Alhaji Aliko Muhmad, lamented the current security situation in the country, saying Boko Haram had remained faceless largely because government had not put any mechanism on ground to assure the sects that they would not be arrested and dealt with by security agencies. Alhaji Muhammad made the assertion today, when members of the ACF paid a courtesy visit to the Kano State governor, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankaso. He stressed that the position of the ACF and many other Nigerians in favour of dialogue with the sect did not vitiate the standard campaign against terrorism. ACF’s position, he reiterated, was informed by the fact of history that no hard power or military had ever succeeded in bringing terrorism under control anywhere in the world.

 

31st March 2013

This was another day of reckoning for the terrorists as operatives of the Joint Task Force today averted another major attack by terrorists in Kano by raiding their hideouts at Unguwa Uku area of the ancient city. The operatives, acting on a tip off, were said to have raced to the area around 4am and intercepted a Volkswagen Golf, primed with explosives, which some terrorists had wanted to use and wreak havoc during the Easter celebration in the city. The soldiers thereafter invaded a compound housing the suspected terrorist but were greeted with explosions. They added that the operatives who were not deterred exchanged gunfire with the terrorists for about four hours. The spokesperson of JTF in Kano, Ikedi Iweha, was quoted as saying that the task force killed 14 Boko Haram suspects in the raid.

With this achievement, the Presidency today also replied the growing band of northern leaders asking for amnesty for members of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, asking the leaders to first identify and talk to those to be granted amnesty. It said it behoved the northern agitator to identify members of the sect before asking the government for amnesty. The presidency also warned them not to turn the Boko Haram issue to a north versus south case. ‘They (those calling for amnesty for Boko Haram member) should identify the people and talk to them before posing a challenge to government to grant them amnesty.”

But President Goodluck Jonathan spoke of the efficacy of prayers on the affairs of the country.But for prayers, he said, the security challenges could have been worse. And he started praying at the Easter Service at Our Saviour’s Church Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos. And the month ended with prayers here and there. Amin!

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