IMF forecasts 0.8 per cent economic growth for Nigeria

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given Nigeria’s economic recovery plan a pass mark, commending efforts made by government to reduce vulnerabilities and enhance resilience.

The Fund however, advised the Federal Government to lift remaining foreign exchange restrictions and scrap the multiple exchange rates system.The fund also forecast that the economy would grow 0.8 percent this year. The outlook came in the Washington-based fund’s Article IV consultation, which is a regular assessment of a country’s economy.

While recognising that the Nigerian economy has been negatively impacted by low oil prices and production, it noted that the management strategy, like increasing fuel prices, raising the monetary policy rate, and allowing the exchange rate to depreciate was in line.

According to the IMF, the country’s external current account, which turned into a surplus in 2016, was a result of import compression that has continued to offset falling exports, rather than expanding trade.

The recent Federal Government’s economic blueprint: Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), drew the attention of the multilateral institution even as it reiterated that without stronger policies the objectives may not be achieved.

IMF said priority should be given to increasing non-oil revenue- raising Value Added Tax and excise rates, strengthening compliance, and closing loopholes and exemptions.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria has unveiled plans to offer licensed Bureau De Change operators foreign exchange twice weekly, with effect from Monday.

Accordingly, BDC operators are required to fund their accounts with the CBN on Mondays and Wednesdays preceding delivery day of Tuesdays and Thursdays.The amount to each BDC has been increased to $10, 000 weekly from $8, 000.

By this development, BDC operators would now heave a sigh of relief following sharp appreciation of the Naira against major foreign currencies as a result of which speculators have been counting their losses.

In another development, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Idris Ahmed has issued a circular extending the tenure of the capital elements of the 2016 budget until May 5, 2017 or the passage of the 2017 budget, whichever is the earliest.


Source: The Guardian

OOTC: The high standards to which we must hold our leaders – By Chude Jideonwo

I have heard this bit of nonsense constantly – seen it sometimes on social media, in comment boxes or random commentary: that because I actively, enthusiastically and unrepentantly threw personal and professional weight behind the election of a political office holder, I have somehow lost the moral right to speak out against him.




As long as a president or a governor or a senator, or a representative is a public servant, paid for and employed by the Nigerian people (tax paying or not), no one loses the right to question him, to declaim him, to demand from him.


Wherever we learnt this nonsense from, as a matter of national urgency, we need to go back to that particular spot, and unlearn it, and while we are at it, get our basic self-worth back.


This is cognitive dissonance. And it is one that we have to begin to address, if we are to have a nation worth having, and if we are to stop getting the types of governments that we currently richly deserve.


Let’s use the current and immediate past presidents of Nigeria to understand this trend.


When you look critically at much of the online conversation, one thing quickly strikes you about the young elite supporters (and by elite I mean university educated, technology enabled, conversation starters) of Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari – the latter is quick to admit the failings of the man they voted, while the former insists incongruously, ridiculously that their man was not just good, but one of Nigeria’s best leaders.


The argument isn’t that he was a good man. But that he was a good leader.


Wait a minute, am I living in an alternative reality?


Even a series of governors and ministers who supported Jonathan actively for their own narrow reasons, businessmen who contributed to his incumbency, and random people who worked in the villa, when you sit down with them outside of the cameras, they routinely confess without hesitation: “Jonathan was a weak leader”, “He wasn’t prepared to be president”, and “He always listened to the last person in the room who spoke to him, and had no mind of his own.”


What are we even talking about? While he was president and many people worked with him, I routinely met his own appointees, his own employees, people benefiting from his government, who would not hesitate to confess that the man was a disappointment and an ongoing letdown as a democratic leader.


This was a man without a political philosophy, without a governing ideal, without an economic blueprint, without the basic apparent capacity for formulating ideas, principles and directions, without the presence of mind to engage complex problems in the public domain, without the integrity of consistent positions, without the pretense to an operating ideology, without the benefit of vision or hindsight and apparently no capacity for self-reflection.


Under him, we lost last swaths of Nigerian territory, lost lives and families to domestic terrorists, lost the respect of the international community, lost the ability to cooperate with nations in and outside Africa, were held hostage by corrupt politicians in cahoots with devil-may-care businessmen, and experienced widening income inequality while he celebrated the personal expansion of wealth of one citizen, and the obscene accumulation of questionable private jets. Under him, militants walked around with the swagger of validation, and soldiers lost morale, and foreign reserves took a beating. Our foreign reserves were depleted, and our oil politics polluted.


Yes, he had admirable qualities. Of course, he had admirable qualities. Yes, he took young people seriously. He loved the creative industries and respected civil society (even though some would tell you that, it was in fact his cerebral aides who loved both the creative industries and civil society and simply nudged him to follow their lead), he allowed his ministers a free hand (more out of cluelessness than deliberate strategy, but let’s even allow it), and he made giant strides in infrastructure (that in turn made available abundant sums for misdirection, but again, let’s allow it).


But what are we even talking about? Every leader has the capacity to do some good. Was it not Sani Abacha that delivered the Petroleum Trust Fund? Was it not Ibrahim Babangida that supervised our freest and fairest election? Was it not Umaru Yar’Adua that re-established federal respect for the rule of law?


The question for leaders is not: Was he a good man? It is not: Did he have good intentions? It is certainly not, did he do some good things? It is a more detailed question: Considering the resources that he had, and the opportunities that existed, did he achieve a basic minimum that we should be entitled to as citizens?


This is even more urgent in a democracy, because in a democracy, mentally competent people voluntarily decide to run for an office based on the promise that they know what they are doing, and they can do the job.


Getting into office and complaining that ‘you didn’t know how bad it was’, ‘the forces in the country are frustrating you’, ‘the country is very complex’ is beneath contempt.


What are you even talking about? You didn’t know the country was bad when you started running for elections? You didn’t know that principalities exist around our politics and governance? You did not know that running a country or a state, or even a N100 million business is hard? You didn’t know that you must expect the worst and be prepared only for the best?


No one votes a governor or a president, or a local chairman to ‘do their best’. Or, at least, no one should. You are not voted to do ‘your best’. You are not supposed to limit us to the extent of your capacity. You are supposed to rise to the occasion. You are supposed to meet the moment. You are supposed to get the job done, period.


That is the standard to which we must hold our governments. That is the standard to which we must past governments. And that is a standard to which we must hold Muhammadu Buhari.


You should not reduce those standards to make yourself feel better. You should not reduce the standard because you don’t want to accept that your choice did not meet the occasion. You should not reduce the standards so you can win an argument on social media. You should not reduce the standard because the other person’s candidate was worse. This is not a video game. This is not a social experiment. This is the business of making people’s lives better.


If Olusegun Obasanjo failed, then he failed. If Yar’adua failed, then he did. If Jonathan failed, then he failed. Assess his failure on its merits, irrespective of whether you think his successor is doing worse. If Buhari is disappointing, then he is disappointing, irrespective of whether Jonathan was a worse disappointment.


All of them were hired by all of us to do a job, and each is to be judged on its own merit. They are not to be defended and protected simply because you like the one and you dislike the other; they are to assessed independently based on the job they were given to do, and how they did that job.


That is what we deserve. No less.


You are a citizen. You deserve a government that works. And you deserve a government that works optimally.


Whether you like these guys or not, whether you supported these guys or not, whether you feel cheated by one part of the country or not, whether you violently disagree on an issue or not, there should be a basic, common sense agreement on this: we deserve, as a people, the very best that any government has to offer. We deserve leaders worthy of the positions that they are given.


When they fall below that basic minimum; regardless of party affiliation, economic interest, ethnic positioning, or simply to win an argument on Twitter, we should be able to say no, hell no, and demand better, and keep demanding better, until we get better.


If you can’t speak up, at least shut up, and let those who are able to find their voices use it for the benefit of all of us.


Enough of this tomfoolery, please.


*This series takes a break in the month of April. It will be concluded in the May, the month of Nigeria’s annual Democracy Day.

We are on top of the latest xenophobic attacks – Nigerian high commission

The Nigerian Mission in South Africa says it is on top of the latest xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in Polokwane, Limpopo Province.

Martin Cobham, Nigerian High Commissioner in South Africa, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone from Pretoria that the mission had visited the affected area and met with concerned parties.

Mr. Cobham said a senior staff of the high commission travelled to Polokwane with national officers of the Nigeria Union in South Africa, following the recent attacks against Nigerians in the Province.

“Following the reported attack on Nigerians in Polokwane, Limpopo Province, I sent an officer to the area. He held meetings with the local taxi drivers, Nigeria Union and the police.

“The aim is to resolve issues and ensure cordial relationship between Nigerians and South Africans,’’ he said.

Mr. Cobham said the meeting set up a committee comprising the Nigerian community, South African police and taxi drivers to identify trouble makers and hand them over to the police.

“Nigerians in that community volunteered to point out trouble makers and hand them over to the police and with that intervention, peace has returned to Polokwane.

“The committee is to report to the mission periodically, while the mission will take the report to the main body, the Early Warning Unit, set up by the Nigerian Foreign Affairs minister and his South African counterpart,’’ he said.

Mr. Cobham also said, “ the mission is on top of the situation and we assure our people that with the early warning unit in place, a lot will be achieved in this regard’’.

Ikechukwu Anyene, president, Nigeria Union, said the meeting in Polokwane was fruitful.

He said that though no Nigerian died, two were seriously injured and were in hospital.

“We had a meeting with the Nigerian community in the city and told them to be law abiding because the South African Police assured us that they are in charge and will not tolerate lawlessness,’’ he said.


Source: NAN

NFF confirms cancellation of Nigeria, Burkina Faso friendly.

The Super Eagles’ second international friendly against Burkina Faso in London on Monday, has been called off after seven players in the Burkinabe contingent failed to secure entry visas into the United Kingdom.

The chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee, Chris Green, told in London: “We regret to announce that the second friendly match we had scheduled for the Super Eagles as part of preparations for the remaining matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying series and the beginning of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification race would no longer take place on Monday, 27th March 2017.

“The match in question is called off due to no fault of either the organizers or the Nigeria Football Federation. We will announce further plans for the Super Eagles’ preparation for these two important qualifying campaigns in due course.”

There is no British Embassy in Ouagadougou, and officials of the Federation Burkinabe de Football had been shuttling between Accra and Ouagadougou for visa processing.

FBF sources said the Embassy in Accra told them last week to proceed to Morocco (where the Etalons played the Atlas Lions on Friday) and that the visas would be issued there.

However, the applications were still pending at the British Embassy in Morocco as at close of work on Friday, the last working day before match day in London.

The Burkinabe Football Federation on Friday, by 7pm UK time, telephoned the match organisers to say some of their players and officials were unable to secure entry visas into the United Kingdom and therefore would not be able to honour the match.

NFF president and CAF Executive Committee member, Amaju Pinnick, who expressed disappointment with the cancellation, however said the objectives of satisfying the technical team’s desire of squaring up against tough, physical African opposition and fostering team bonding and organization were achieved.

“The Technical Adviser (Gernot Rohr) wanted to play very physical African teams, as part of the preparations for the World Cup qualifying matches against Cameroon, and we duly fulfilled that with the arrangements we made for Senegal and Burkina Faso.

“Unfortunately, some of the Burkinabe players could not secure entry visas into the UK. It is nobody’s fault. Our joy is that we were able to play Senegal and got a fair result with a depleted squad, and also the objectives of team bonding, team building, team discipline and further imparting the Technical Adviser’s philosophy to the group have been well served.

“The Technical Adviser has also been able to look at a few more options, and our strength-in-depth is looking very good.”


Source: The Guardian

Nigeria, Morroco fertilizer deal creates 50,000 jobs — NNPC boss

The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the supply of phosphate between Nigerian and Morocco has created about 50, 000 jobs, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has said.

A statement by NNPC spokesperson, Ndu Ughumadu, said the Group Managing Director of the corporation, Maikanti Baru, made this disclosure in Abuja.

Mr. Baru disclosed this recently while receiving the National coordinator of The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD-Nigeria), Gloria Akobundu, at the NNPC Towers in Abuja.

The NNPC boss, who noted that the MoU between the two countries was for the supply of phosphate to rejuvenate agriculture by making fertilizer available and affordable, said the deal had started yielding positive results in the country.

“The Moroccans have already supplied a cargo of phosphate which has been delivered to various blending plants across the country,” the GMD said.

“Already, eleven blending plants have come into production because of the supply.

“I am happy to inform you that this development has translated to the creation of about 50, 000 jobs and led to the production of about 1.3million tonnes of fertiliser in the country.”

According to the statement, the Moroccans have also given Nigeria a generous credit term of 90 days and they are planning to bring in more cargoes that will fit the various blending plants in the country, following the arrival of the first consignment.

According to the GMD, aside being a huge boost to the Nigerian agricultural sector and the economy, this partnership is expected to boost bilateral relationship between the two countries.


Source: Premium Times

There is still hope for Nigeria – RCCG leader Enoch Adeboye

The General Overseer, Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye has said there is still hope for Nigeria, despite the numerous challenges confronting the country.

Adeboye, while addressing over 50, 000 faithful during a conference organised by the RCCG, First Born Family at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, said Nigerians should not be discouraged because of the economic and other challenges the country is facing currrently.

The clerics said God’s purpose and intention for the development of the country is still intact and would soon come to pass “if we continue in prayers and remain committed to Him.”

In another word of exhortation, one of the organisers and Special Assistance to the G.O on Missions, Pastor Brown Oyitso said Nigeria coul not be worse economically and socially than what it is at present before God would intervene “what is needful of us is to continue to pray and hope in the Lord.”


Source: The Guardian

Nigeria, Senegal friendly to go on despite terrorist attack in London

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) says the friendly match between the Super Eagles and Teranga Lions of Senegal slated for today at the Hive Stadium in London will hold despite a terrorist attack in the city yesterday.

A woman was killed on Westminster Bridge in central London in what police said was a terrorist incident yesterday afternoon. A police officer was also stabbed in the nearby Houses of Parliament by an attacker, who was shot dead by police, while a number of other people were hurt – some with “catastrophic” injuries.

The attacker struck several pedestrians as he drove a car across the bridge, before crashing it into railings.

However, the Secretary General of the NFF, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi told The Guardian on phone that there was nothing to worry about, adding that the attack took place far away from the Crowne Plaza Hotel camp of the Super Eagles.

“I have spoken to NFF officials, who are already with the team in London and they said the attack took place far away from the camp and the stadium where the match will take place. So, there is nothing to worry about,” Sanusi, who is on his way to London, stated.

Meanwhile, Sanusi has urged Nigerians not to judge the team with the outcome of the match, saying the federation’s major concern was to ensure the coach assembled a formidable squad that would compete successfully against any team in future engagements.

“The result of the friendlies against Senegal and Burkina Faso would not be used to judge the coach,’’ he said.

The Super Eagles and Senegal, according to FIFA’s statistics, have met in 15 times, with Nigeria winning eight, while Senegal picked four victories with three matches ending in a draw.


Source: The Guardian

Chinese government approves $5 Billion to support infrastructural projects in Nigeria

The Peoples Republic of China Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian said his home country had approved $5 billion to support infrastructure projects in Nigeria.

Pingjian stated this yesterday when he paid a courtesy visit to the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, at the party’s secretariat in Abuja.

The Chinese envoy requested the party’s support in ensuring Nigeria’s ‘full execution’ of the China’s policy between both countries.

Pingjian, who was accompanied by the Chinese Deputy Ambassador, Jing Lin and Political Officer, Peng Chen, further intimated the Odigie-Oyegun and members of the APC National Working Committee (NWC) present on China’s domestic politics and China-Nigeria strategic bilateral relations.

He noted: “This year is a big one for party politics in China. Every five years, we hold party conventions and we draw a new blueprint for the years ahead. That means, major policy decisions will be made at the national congress of the Communist Party of China. A new central committee will be elected at the congress. The central committee will in turn elect the new central leadership.”


Source: The Guardian

Nigeria is on it’s way out of recession – World Economics.

World Economics, a financial analysis organisation, says that Nigeria is on its way out of recession.

In a report released on Tuesday, the organisation said it was too early to know if the changes were built on a solid foundation.

The February inflation report released in March by the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that the rate slowed down in February for the first time in 15 months.

“March Sales Managers’ Index (SMI) data suggests that the Nigerian economy is starting to grow out of the recession which saw 10 months of consecutive contraction,” it said.

“The market growth index grew to 53.5 in March as the monthly sales growth index edged up to 51.3, its highest value since March 2016. It is too early to speculate if the recovery is built on solid fundamentals for a sustained recovery but the changes reflected are not insubstantial.

“Price inflation for March, which is tracked by the Prices Charged Index, remained high at 61.3 – and indicative that very high levels of inflation continue.

“Overall, conditions in Nigeria have improved over the past month and managers are expressing optimism that the economy will continue to grow.”

World Economics says the Sales Managers’ Indexes provide the earliest monthly data on the speed and direction of economic activity in the fastest growing areas of the world: Africa, Asia and the America’s.

The World Bank had earlier projected that Nigeria will get out of recession in 2017 and the economy would grow by one percent.

The recession currently experienced is the worst in almost three decades.

Nigerian Government Partners Japan On Border Security.

The Japanese government has reaffirmed its commitment to assisting the Nigerian government in strengthening its border security and also enhancing constant border patrol.

To this end, the Japanese government is committing 500 thousand dollars towards Nigeria’s border monitoring.

Nigerian and Japanese government officials met at Nfum border at Etung Local Government Area of Cross River state.


One of the Japanese officials told Journalists that in the last two years, the government had trained law enforcement officials in different workshops and on various techniques such as how to patrol the borders, how to interview suspects of crime, how to do proper arrests under the rule of law and respect to human rights among others.

She further stated that with the increase in crime rate across borders, the need for improved security approach has become imperative, which is the reason for the partnership.

“We find that since crime is so much evolving, and we have so many different forms of crime nowadays and organised crime, law enforcement officials need constant upgrading of their skills to be able to detect this crime, investigate them and be able to prosecute them”.


Source: Channels TV

Nigeria’s trade balance turns positive in Q4 2016 as exports jump

Nigeria’s trade balance turned positive in the fourth quarter of 2016 after exports rose by more than half, the national bureau of statistics said on Saturday, the first positive reading since the same quarter a year ago.

But Africa’s largest economy shrank 1.5 percent over the course of the full year due to lower oil revenues and a shortage of hard currency, its first annual contraction in quarter of a century.

With limited manufacturing capacity, Nigeria imports most of what it consumes. Fourth-quarter imports rose 46.4 percent from the previous year to 2.31 trillion naira ($7.6 billion), the statistics bureau said.

But exports more than compensated for that rise, jumping 53.5 percent in value terms from a year earlier to 2.98 trillion naira, the statistics bureau said.

The balance of trade for the fourth quarter was 671 billion naira. The net trade balance stood at minus 290 billion naira ($953 million) for all of 2016.

($1 = 304.2000 naira)


Source: Reuters

Shallow seaports worsen Nigeria’s economic woes – By Sulaimon Salau

Owing to their shallow water challenges, the nation’s seaports are not contributing optimally to the growth of the economy.

The Guardian’s investigations revealed that any vessel that requires about 15 meters’ water depth and above cannot berth at any of the six ports in the country.

The situation is having adverse effects on international trade, as many large ships are diverted to neighbouring countries while others berth on the high sea, requiring feeder vessels to transship their consignments. This attracts additional charges, which further increases the cost of transportation and production in the case of raw materials for industrial goods, which is ultimately transferred to the final consumer.

Apart from the Lagos water channel that has about 14 meters’ draught, other ports in Calabar and Port Harcourt are currently facing the challenge of shallow water which limits their ability to receive big cargo vessels.Today’s ships are worth about 4000-5000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), 1988 evolution of ships, with a depth requirement of about 13.5 meters. These are the vessels that mostly come to Nigeria. But the 2013 vessels (Tripple E) are of 18,000TEU with depth requirement of 15.5 meters. The next generation vessels are targeting 22,000TEU and above.

“Mega ships” reduce transportation costs by half, accommodating more cargoes and saving fuel and manpower.

According to some stakeholders, bigger ships always mean more profit, but they also mean deeper and longer docks as well as bigger container cranes, wider storage space and a more developed logistic infrastructure.

Currently, the Apapa water channel is 14.5 meters, Port Harcourt is seven meters while Calabar ports are six point four meters. This is a far cry from what could freely sail a large ocean liner which is currently being pursued by shipping lines across the world. One of the reasons the Lagos port is usually congested, compared to others in the country, is because it has the deepest draught.

Already, port operators are contending with the high cost of shipping, clearing and multiple charges by a numbers of government agencies. The poor state of the scanners prolongs cargo clearing while also creating a leeway for illegal movement of arms, ammunition and other unwholesome goods into the country. The dilapidated roads to the ports coupled with the high customs tariff and other inefficiencies have impacted negatively on port operations, making the operators to declare 2016 as the “worst year.”

Indeed, recent statistics from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicate a drop in the number of vessels that berthed in all the ports from 5,369 in 2013 to 4,025 in 2016.

Although efforts are being made to float three new deep seaports in Akwa Ibom, Lekki and Badagry, hopes are deeming daily as these projects have overshot estimated costs and construction plan.

Efforts by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to dredge the waterways in many cases have hit brick walls. For example, a particular company collected about $56 million to dredge the Calabar channel, but nothing was done after many years.

Around the world, demand for “mega ships” has increased in recent years and countries that lacked seaports with sufficient size and logistics to take them in are fast adjusting.

The Group General Manager, EcoMarine International, Balogun Moruf Adedayo, told The Guardian that the current position of the ports, in terms of shallow draught and technological advancement, might jeopardise the national aspiration of becoming a maritime hub for the West African region.

Adedayo said: “Nigeria really needs to look at dredging of its ports very sincerely because the dynamics in the shipping world today are in the direction of bigger tonnages. The global shipping industry is now in an era where we can do 7,000-14, 000 TEU capacity vessels. Nigeria will need to have deeper channels to be able to accommodate these bigger vessels (bigger tonnages) because shipping is about economics of size.”

Balogun decried the shallow water in Calabar port, saying: “Looking at the strategic importance of Calabar port to this country in terms of its proximity to 16 northern states and accessibility to the neighbouring countries of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, it has the potential of also becoming a trans-shipment hub for the land-locked countries such as Chad and Niger. It is only natural that such a port should be provided with the required infrastructure and should be dredged to be able to realise such enormous potential. It will also go a long way to reduce overdependence on the Lagos ports.”

The NPA had last year launched a probe into the $56 million Calabar channel dredging contract to ascertain why so much was spent on the project without achieving the desired draught to attract bigger vessels to the port.

The Federal Government awarded the contract at N3 billion in 1996. It was re-awarded in November 2014 at N20 billion to complete the project, and later re-awarded in 2006 at $56 million. The contract, which was signed by the NPA, the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) and the Calabar Channel Management, was to dredge the port up to 9.8 metres.

On the investigations, the General Manager, Public Affairs of NPA, Chief Michael Ajayi, said the matter was being handled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). But the anti-graft agency could not give details when contacted by The Guardian.

On the shallow channel, Ajayi said the Lagos carriage could accommodate big vessels but could not go to Calabar due to the shallow water.

On attracting bigger vessels, Ajayi said: “That is why there is an emergence of deep seaports that would require little or no dredging. We have other ones under construction in Akwa Ibom, Lekki and Badagry. These ports will be able to accommodate bigger vessels. By the time the newer bigger vessels are ready globally, our own deep seaports would have been on stream.”The President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Olayiwola Shittu, said: “We have been very poor at maintaining our ports.

We need a draught of nothing less than 16 meters. In some places, we have nine meters or eight meters. Now we are building several other new ports when we have not maintained the existing ones.”

Nigeria needs credible policies before 2019 elections – IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Nigeria’s window for bold reforms is gradually closing, and the country needs coherent and credible policies before 2019 elections.

“On Nigeria, it is currently facing a challenging outlook. As we have said before, the authorities have initiated some measures, but more remains to be done,” Gerry Rice, IMF director of communications, said at a press conference in Washington.

“Urgency is needed in implementing a coherent and credible package of monetary, fiscal and structural policies as the window for bold reforms is closing as the 2019 elections are approaching fast.”

Rice confirmed that Kemi Adeosun, the minister of finance, Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), or any other government official, has not approached the IMF for a loan.

He said the fund is however providing technical assistance for Nigeria and is willing and ready to help, if the need arises.

“It is true the Nigerian authorities have not approached the IMF for a programme, as such, there are no discussion, negotiations going on, regarding a programme with Nigeria,” he adds.

“As we have said before, the fund continues to render technical support and we stand ready to help, should the country make a request for financial assistance”.

The IMF said it would conclude its “Article IV Consultations” with Nigeria in March 2017, and would give an update on the global economy at its Spring meeting, scheduled for April, 2017in Washington.

South Africa issues statement over Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians, MTN properties

South African government has said that there is need to collaborate with major stakeholders in Nigeria to find lasting solution to the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

This is coming as Nigerian protesters on Thursday attacked and vandalised the head office of Africa’s biggest mobile firm in Abuja in apparent retaliation for anti-Nigerian violence in South Africa.

The retaliation also coincided with the visit of South Africa’s mobile operator MTN Group, who paid Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo a visit in Abuja.

The South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, on Thursday stressed the need for the South African Government to collaborate with major stakeholders in Nigeria to find lasting solution to the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

The Commissioner stated this while receiving the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Shehu Sani, in Abuja.

While condemning the recent attacks on foreigners, particularly Nigerians, Mnguni said there was need for the two countries to work together to bring an end to the problem. He said that it was important for Nigeria and South Africa to bring strategists together to discuss the issues at stake in order to find lasting solution to the problem.

“We will look for ways to contain the tension and come up with ways to encourage interaction between the two countries and other African countries.

“South Africa cannot see itself as an island. Instead, it will continue to work towards peace building and integration,’’ he said.

The High Commissioner further said the South African Government had always advocated for respect for human rights, stressing that there was no justification for the attacks. However, he called on foreigners to always abide by the laws of the countries where they live.

He pointed out that there were concerns among South Africans that a few foreigners, including Nigerians were involved in drug peddling.

Earlier, Sani expressed concern over the recurrent nature of xenophobic attacks on foreigners, including Nigerians, saying that if allowed to continue, it would portray the continent in bad light, adding that it was time for major stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the problem. “Nigeria’s relationship with South Africa dates back to the time of Apartheid.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa also condemned strongly any attempts to mobilise communities against African brothers and sisters.

“This is totally unacceptable

He said: “African neighbours are our brothers & sisters. We are all Nigerians, we are all Zimbabweans, we’re all South Africans”.

No corrupt person will lead Nigeria again, Lagos Oba Akiolu says

The Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, on Wednesday said he would work to ensure corrupt people never lead Nigeria again.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Nigerian Women Against Corruption initiative in Lagos, Mr. Akiolu said he would work against any corrupt individual becoming Nigeria’s president again.

“I insist that this is not era for somebody who spent the first three years under the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo making money and turning public corporations to his own,” Thisday newspaper quoted Mr. Akiolu as saying at the event.

“He is planning to come back to be the President of this country again. I’ll work against his ambition. I mean it and I mean it, by God’s grace, it shall not be so.”

Although he didn’t mention his name, Mr. Akiolu is believed to have been referring to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar for whom he has never hidden his disdain.

Mr. Abubakar served as vice president under ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2003.

Mr. Abubakar also presided over the National Council on Privatization, supervising the sale of dozens of government-owned enterprises to private individuals.

Last month, the Lagos monarch had accused Mr. Abubakar of being behind his forced exit from the Nigeria Police Force where he was retired as an Assistant Inspector General.

At an event organised by the Lagos State Ministry of Justice on January 30, Mr. Akiolu said Mr. Abubakar played a prominent role in convincing then president, Mr. Obasanjo, to retire him from service.

The former vice president denied the claims.
The monarch commended the government of Akinwunmi Ambode, the Lagos State governor, saying he had achieved a lot in less than two years
“If a man can achieve that much in office in under two years, it shows clearly that there is still hope for this country and whether we like it or not, we should thank God and commend Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

“If I did not put down my foot from 1999 to 2003 to ensure that nobody pushed the government of Lagos State aside, they would have taken government from us that time.

“We will not be saying what we are saying today. That is why I am praying that God will let President Muhmmadu Buhari complete his tenure.”

We’re committed to making Nigeria succeed – UN Envoy

Nigeria has been described as an important nation that is very strategic, not only to Africa but to the whole world while her success determines Africa’s success in the social, political and economic emancipation of the continent of Africa.

The Commander of the United States African Command, General Thomas Waldhauser, said this when he paid a courtesy call on the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.

General Waldhauser said he was happy with the level of warm and cordial relationship between the United States and Nigeria.

He pointed out that the US would do all that is needed and necessary to make Nigeria succeed in its leadership role in Africa, especially in its untiring effort at wiping terrorism from Nigeria and the West African sub-region.

The Commander AFRICOM stated that the United States is committed to maintaining productive and fruitful relationship with Nigeria by stepping up her assistance in the areas of training, intelligence sharing, capacity building and hardware.

He noted that fight against terrorism is a multifaceted problem that demands concerted efforts of the world to completely eradicate in the interest of mankind.

In his remarks, Olonisakin expressed appreciation of the US Government for its tremendous contributions to the Armed Forces of Nigeria in the fight against insurgency and other sundry crimes across the country.

He stressed that the US has been forthcoming in manpower training, equipment support, upgrading of Special Forces, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and other relevant areas as required by the Nigerian Army, the Navy and the Air Force.

He noted with gratitude the US supports, which he admitted have provided the Armed Forces of Nigeria with some critical capabilities that have gone a long way to help in containing the spate of security challenges that threaten our nation, Lake Chad Basin and West African Sub-Region.

The AFRICOM Commander was accompanied by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington; US Defence Attachee to Nigeria, Colonel Patrick Doyle; and some senior staff of US Embassy, while the CDS was assisted by the representatives of the Service Chiefs and Principal Staff Officers from the Defence Headquarters.

Acting president, Yemi Osinbajo Seeks strong Nigeria – US Ties

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday said the time has come for Nigeria and the United States to deepen the long-standing relationship between the countries based on mutual trust.

Osinbajo spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, while receiving the Commander of the US-Africa Command, Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser and the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Hon. W. Stuart Symington.

In a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, the Acting President said : “We will be very open and willing to build a relationship based on trust, so that we would benefit from it and of course our relationship as nations would benefit tremendously from it.”

Nigeria’s relationship with the US, he observed, is a very important one “and has been so for many years, even so now at a time like this for us.”

He said the Federal Government is appreciative of US support over the last few years.

Osinbajo said it is the belief of the Buhari presidency that the US is committed to helping Nigeria tackle some of its challenges especially in the Northeast.

In his remarks, Gen. Waldhauser expressed the readiness of the U.S government to “accelerate” its contributions, adding that there is a sense that “we want to get on and solve the problem.”

OOTC with Chude Jideonwo: Don’t be annoyed o, but please, who spoilt Nigeria?

There is something curious that you might have noticed. Something as strange as it is weird. And it should worry you.

We don’t appear to know who ‘spoilt’ Nigeria.

‘Spoilt’ of course is the colloquial shorthand for all that ails our nation – corruption, poor leadership, stillbirth policy, diving quality of life, and gaping income inequality.

We complain about these things everyday. We moan and point fingers, bitter over the legacy handed to generations that are yet unable to bear them. We are frustrated because the smattering of best efforts don’t appear to lead us anywhere. The foundation is destroyed.

So we know that Nigeria is ‘spoilt’.

But who exactly ‘spoilt’ the country?

It turns out; no one ever takes responsibility for the state of our nation.

Let’s start from the beginning.

The quartet of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo and Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa, not alone, who altogether led the team that secured Nigeria’s political independence and ensuring economic decline already escaped responsibility for our state of affairs.

These days it is impolitic to state certain ‘imperfections’ about these legends, as it were. That in 1943, the Saduana of Sokoto was accused by his cousin Alhaji Abubakar Saddique of misappropriating tax revenue as District Head of Gussau. That Dr. Azikiwe was accused of corruption in 1962 and a panel was set up by the chief whip of his party to investigate the misapplication of 2 million pounds under his watch as premier, a cloud under which he never emerged.

And of course, famously, that the great Obafemi Awolowo was, also in 1962, accused of diverting the funds of the Western Region’s government to his political party, conduct apparently confirmed by the Justice George Coker panel of inquiry.

“Before independence, there have been cases of official misuse of resources for personal enrichment (Storey, 1953),” notes a paper by University of Lagos professor of history, Michael Ogbeidi. “Over the years, Nigeria has seen its wealth withered with little to show in living conditions of the citizens. The First Republic under the leadership of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister, and Nnamdi Azikwe, the President, was marked by widespread corruption. Government officials looted public funds with impunity. Federal Representative and Ministers flaunted their wealth with reckless abandon. In fact, it appeared there were no men of good character in the political leadership of the First Republic. Politically, the thinking of the First Republic Nigerian leadership class was based on politics for material gain; making money and living well.”

He is talking about Nigeria’s “founding fathers”.

Instead of being held responsible for the parts that they have played, that they must have played, (since 1 plus 1 is equal to two) just after independence, in laying the foundations of a squandered promise, in addition to the Civil War that their actions precipitated, they are dealt with as benevolent fathers that bestowed the beauty of this nation unto us – a legacy one must assume the country is proud of since it celebrates them so urgently.

And Yakubu Gowon? The one who took after them? This is the president from under whom Nigeria’s oil boon began, where many historians can track the beginnings of our institutional waste and who oversaw a civil war the country has yet to recover from. He does not take responsibility for the state of the nation.

Shehu Shagari was 5-time minister from independence in 1960 – 1970 before he became president in 1979. His government was defined by corruption, and it is to him that we owe the pleasure of the Ajaokuta Steel Black Hole which he spent hundreds of millions in dollars on – with the raw material of rumoured kickbacks.

His programme to encourage mechanical machines in farming was hijacked by friends of the government who were retired military officers, and by the time oil prices began to fall in 1981, , the center could no longer hold.

“It was claimed that over $16 billion in oil revenues were lost between 1979 and 1983 during the reign of President Shehu Shagari. It became quite common, for federal buildings to mysteriously go up in flames, most especially just before the onset of ordered audits of government accounts, making it impossible to discover written evidence of embezzlement and fraud. No politician symbolised the graft and avarice under Shagari’s government more than his combative Transport Minister, Alhaji Umaru Dikko, who was alleged to have mismanaged about N4 billion of public fund meant for the importation of rice.”

Failure heavy enough that when General Muhammadu Buhari took over in a coup on December 31, 1983, the nation breathed a sigh of relief. Shagari was released from detention for personal corruption in 1986, and banned from politics for life.

Has he ever taken responsibility for anything, yet?

Then, of course, there was the legendary Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, under whose government Nigeria’s made leaps and bounds in corruption, ruining our reputation in narcotics trade and advanced economic fraud and whose government oversaw the disappearance of the $12.4b (or less, but certainly billions of dollars, based on the thorough Pius Okigbo Commission Report) from what we now call the Gulf War Windfall of 1991.

“If anything, corruption reached an alarming rate and became institutionalized during Babangida’s regime,” Ogbeidi reports. “Leaders found guilty by tribunals under the Murtala Mohammed and Mohammadu Buhari regimes found their way back to public life and recovered their seized properties.

“According to Maduagwu: Not only did the regime encourage corruption by pardoning corrupt officials convicted by his predecessors and returning their seized properties, the regime officially sanctioned corruption in the country and made it difficult to apply the only potent measures, long prison terms and seizure of ill-gotten wealth, for fighting corruption in Nigeria in the future.”

Asked, in 2015, how he built his mansion in Minna, Babangida told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (so that the irony can be complete), that it was generous, benevolent people who will remain unnamed that built it, of course.

“I know what my friends spent. No, my friends contributed,” he said, because we are all fools and reason is dead. “They were friends before we came into government and friends while I was in government. I started building it in 1991, took two to three years so that by the time I finished, I would have a house to sleep in.”

More than once you must have heard Babangida bemoan the state of the nation, complain about the collapse of morals and enjoin Nigerians to work hard and believe in the country,

We have really suffered.

“If what I read in the newspapers is currently what is happening then I think we were angels (in my government),” he said, without falling off his chair and hitting his head on the floor from shame. “My government was able to identify corruption-prone areas and checked them. If you remember in this country, there were things they call essential commodities. These are also sources of corruption. You go and buy ‘omo’ or food or whatever it is and we got government to take its hands off such activities. Let people use their own brains, hands and labour, nobody has to do it for them. I am proud to say that was much more effective. I give you an example; in a year I was making less than $7billion in oil revenue. In the same period, there are governments that are making $200billion to $300billion.”

Not even a dollar of responsibility taken, despite holding leadership of this country for the longest, his irresponsibility costing us the results of a free and fair election and plunging us into half a decade of pure Abacha-rian madness.

Babangida too does not know who spoilt Nigeria.

Olusegun Obasanjo, who oversaw the democratic transition that led Nigeria into Shagari, apart from playing his own questionable part in the carnage against the citizens of Biafra, and whose grand gestures as temporary president in the 70s did not translate into positivity for nation, would also say he is not part of those that spoilt Nigeria.

Then he returned to leadership and (though I consider him the most impressive Nigerian leader in my lifetime) left the country at the end, deliberately, in chaos – first by the damaging desire for an unconstitutional third term in office and then by arrogantly inflicting on all of us a sick man who transferred his illness to the nation’s soul and rolled back the small inches of progress we had made.

He too, who has led Nigeria twice – for almost a decade in total – would claim that he bears no responsibility for the state of our nation.

Not to speak of Muhammadu Buhari. He could previously claim, and indeed that claim held currency for 20 years, that he (much like the canonized Murtala Mohammed) spent too little time in office to be assessed responsible.

But on his second coming, we have had two years to interrogate his capacity and his legacy, two years during which we have seen fortunes decline, and citizens lose hope, without the cushion of leadership that inspires.
Even as he sits in the office and holds the ultimate responsibility for the state of affairs as I write, even he is not taking responsibility.

Buhari (whose candidacy I vigorously supported as, vastly, the better of our two options in 2015) points to everyone but himself. He points to all of those who held the office before him, he points to the government of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, he points to the opposition that won’t give him breathing space, he points to civil servants working hard to sabotage him, and he points to that most significant of Nigerian bad guys: ‘the system’.

It is not just our ex-presidents that have this affliction.

You see your friends whose fathers and mothers led this country at the highest levels, even those whose names have been demonstrably involved in corruption or at least negligence, and even they complain about the state of Nigeria.

They insist on presenting themselves as decent, reasonable people who had no part, magically, in the Nigeria that we have today.

Ask them who we should blame, and they point at others: ‘them’, ‘they’

Who are these ‘they’?

The faceless ‘they’ who always stand against change. You’ve heard every government speak about them, this unnamed powerful, omnipresent people who frustrate every good intention of the government but are never held accountable; these indeterminate group of people who sit like gremlins in Aso Rock and take over the brains and hearts of those who lead. Every president has pointed to them as the problem with the country.

Those indeterminate ‘they’ are so resolute that they were even there fighting against Diezani Alison-Madueke, despite her consolidation of oil administration power, the distribution of the wealth across questionable characters, and the ostentatious display that allegedly powered the obscene spend of the 2015 elections.

But despite all of the circumstantial dodginess, even our former oil minister says she was also victim of this indeterminate set of people who keep spoiling Nigeria – people who she, like those many innocents before her, did not name, did not shame, and did not hold accountable.

Of course, there is Jonathan, whose presidency accelerated an atmosphere of permissiveness and corruption, ceded large swaths of Nigeria to terrorists and lost 276 girls under his watch for which he yet has shown no remorse, at all. The less about him to be honest, the better for us all.

Ask the good doctor for who spoilt Nigeria – and he and his triumphal supporters who insist on crying over the spilt milk of a man who deserved to be voted out, will take no ounce of responsibility. No hoots give. If you don’t like it, they appear to say to us, go and die.

The truth is that Nigeria has been an unfortunate  (‘oloriburuku’ as the Yoruba excellently would put it) country.

We have been a desperately unfortunate country for so many years, the unfortunateness springing from our classless, clueless successive set of leaders.

And lest the point is lost in subtlety and euphemism: they are the people that spoilt Nigeria.

The question really is simple: if our succession of leaders were so sterling, so high achieving, and so distinguished – then how exactly did our country collapse?

The so-called founding fathers, the super permanent secretaries, every single person who has been president of this country, a vast majority of ministers and commissioners, governors and local government chairmen, and the dirty pack of colluding traditional rulers. Heads of parastatals, and members of boards, business leaders who have benefited from ungodly monopolies and the oppression of an unprotected competition, those who helped politicians funnel and launder illegal monies that they then deployed to set up banks, insurance companies and a hodge-podge of now ‘respectable businesses’, defense chiefs who allowed our arsenal to be depleted and outdated, putting all our lives at risk, each and every one of the inspector generals of police as far as we cannot find anyone whose legacy stands apart or possesses a highlight, who ruined the country if not them?

It’s time for us to have the clarity of intent and purpose to say to them, especially now – you did this; you caused this, take some responsibility for heaven’s sake.

On the first of January this year, I was invited alongside a respected academic and a former defense chief to the Nigerian Television Authority to speak about ‘Making Nigeria Great Again’.

This tragedy – of our unfortunateness – was again on display.

Every word this military chief (one of our points men in the fight against Boko Haram) uttered was grounded in vapidity. His responses to questions were devoid of reflection, strategy, or philosophy. He simply didn’t have anything useful to say.

And I panicked: This is the man who has been making decisions for our country? This is the man we trusted to keep us safe? This is the mind that informed the president?

“The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership,” Chinua Achebe already informed us.  “There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.”

Think about it: if all the leaders of our journalism from the past were credible and competent, then who holds responsibility for the decay in our journalism? Who ruined the Nigerian Television Authority and made it a carcass of the greatness we are told that it once had? If all the people who ran businesses in Nigeria in the past were heroes and visionaries with the capacity for transformative ideas, then, please, sorry, where are their businesses? If all the leaders in our health sector had been such healthy, sterling examples of wisdom and brilliance, then please who is responsible for the state of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital or that of the University College Hospital?

These guys have a lot of experience, but as political economist, Pat Utomi has said, it is bad experience. It is the experience that comes from simply existing and being rather than from achieving, excelling and improving.

They are the ones who mouth the inanity about Nigeria’s “strength in diversity” and that its “unity is non-negotiable” as if all of us have not been living in this same country since 1960 and seeing that if there is one thing that we have always had, it is certainly not strength.

The people who have led us have not been the best of us. Veterans only of bureaucracy and form, their experience is useless, their relevance is overstated, and their capacity is, at best, questionable.

To be sure, we have seen evidence of brilliance in Nigeria. We have witnessed citizens build the creative industries into a system to be admired. We have seen young people recreate the music industry and push its significance across a global market. We have seen technology innovators recreate an entire system from scratch.

We have seen brilliance in politics too; Anambra’s Peter Obi and Lagos’s Babatunde Fashola being two contemporary examples, as well as the sterling system of succession that Lagos has modelled.

Unfortunately – as will be the same if my generation doesn’t significantly reboot Nigeria and set it on the path to truly transformative growth (and we still have an abundance of time to make this right) – it will be fine for the next generation to look at them; to look at us, and to say that for the most part, we were failures, and we bear responsibility for the state of our p nation.

It will be fine for them to look back at the long past of Nigeria’s desolate history and for them to curse the darkness, thoroughly.

Yes I know that come 2019, because of the terrible fault lines of democracy, we may yet be so unfortunate that one of these will yet be the only option for president of Nigeria – because, where are the alternatives on the scene today? And it will sadly fall to us, agan, to perform a civic duty and support the least of the bad options.

But at least let us be clear that we are drinking gutter water, and not coconut juice.

What is the reason it is so important to correctly locate the provenance of Nigeria’s problems?

  1. a) So that the responsible party approaches its duties to make amends with sobriety and perspective.
  2. b) So that a new generation leaders understands the urgent need to unlearn from the past and to be discriminatory on the conventions and traditions it chooses to perpetuate.

“Permanent secretaries, diplomats, vice chancellors have been here over the past two days telling us about how government can work for the people,” I said in a speech February 2016 at the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy, to an audience of these ex-leaders. “We have spent the past days hearing these leaders tell us what to do, when they had ample opportunity to show us what to do – an did not do so.

“One wonders as a generation if we have a lot to learn from these people, or if indeed we have so much to un-learn.

“Do you guys really have anything to teach us?  Who were the permanent secretaries who stole billions in the 70s, the soldiers who ruined Nigerian in the 90s, the ministers who stole us blind after 2000? Are they the same ones still talking to us today? If things were so great in those days, then how did Nigeria get to this sorry stage where corruption was once only a cankerworm, but now has gone viral?

“There are too many billionaires whom we don’t know how they made their billions and too many politicians who used to win with landslides that disappeared when card readers emerged.

“We must be honest in noting where you people have failed and where you presented insurmountable obstacles for our generation: gerontocracy that didn’t exist in 1956, a collapsed education system, institutions that were interrupted and then declined, a lack of authentic moral fibre and no workable models of businesses that succeed or governance that works for the people.”

Of course these vestiges of the past can still be part of building the future – that, after all, is a model we have seen work in many places across the world. But, first, they have to repent.

Based on what we have seen over the past 16 years, and what we are looking at today, first they must have the humility to take responsibility for the part that they have played in bringing us to this sorry state – and then to commit to making amends.

Either that or, as my people used to say in Ijeshatedo where I grew up: abeg make them comot, make we for see road pass.


*Jideonwo is co-founder and managing partner of RED (, which brands including Y!/ and governance communication firm, StateCraft Inc. Office of the Citizen (OOTC) is his latest essay series.

It is wrong to call Nigeria ‘Naija’ – NOA Director- General

The Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr. Garba Abari, has appealed to Nigerians to stop calling Nigeria as ‘Naija’, in order to keep its originality.

He stated this while speaking to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, stressing that making the country’s name funky, was not in its best interest.

“We try in all our advocacy visits to insist that Nigeria must be referred to as Nigeria and not Naija.

“So, our schools have a role to play in this; the media itself has also got a very fundamental role to play because it is the media that helps in the propagation of this kind of misnomer.

“All of us, as individuals, as corporate organisations, as media, whether broadcast, print or online, must wake up to the reality.

“That the more we use these misnomers referring to our country, the fallout of it is that, a significant percentage of our younger ones will not even remember that Nigeria is the original name of our country.

“I want to appeal to all Nigerians, young and old to always refer to our country as Nigeria,” he said.

Abari also urged parents to discourage their children and wards from using the name `Naija’.



Why Nigeria’s education standard is poor – Senator Emmanuel Bwacha

The Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha has attributed the decline in the nation’s education standard to continuous emphasis on paper qualification rather than skills acquisition.

Senator Bwacha who disclosed this at a summit organized for secondary school teachers in Wukari Local Government Council of Taraba State said all hands must be on deck to address the declining trend.

With three universities in Taraba State coupled with others spread across the country, the lawmaker said the time has come to prepare qualified candidates for the institutions.

“We shall begin to look at areas of legislation; we shall check whether that certificate you are holding is truly yours; if not we shall ask you to give way for the qualified person who can defend his certificate.”

The convener of the summit, Emmanuel Attah said the summit was aimed at improving performance in post primary school external examinations including the West African Senior Certificate Examination (WASSC) and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) among others.


Source: The Guardian

Naira value to rise in the next six months – Ajimobi

Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi has predicted that the value of the Naira will rise in the next three to six months, saying things are getting better.

He spoke at a special prayer organised by the state for the nation and President Muhammadu Buhari at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan.

As early as 9am, thousands of Muslims, and Christians gathered at the stadium for the inter-faith prayer tagged: “Prayer for the nation”. Security personnel were strategically positioned to maintain peace and orderliness.

To begin the event, Muslim and Christian bands engaged in praises and worship to “charge” the atmosphere.
Ajimobi said emerging economic indicators have shown that things are getting better in the country.

“Nigeria produce two million barrel per day and the price of oil has increased tremendously. I know for sure, the way things are going, within the next three to six months, things will begin to get better, but we need to work. Let’s join hands and make the country better,” he said
Reacting on the rumour trailing the President’s health status, the governor wondered why some Nigerians were wishing Buhari dead, instead of praying for him .

Ajimobi said: “We are here to appreciate God. If you appreciate God regularly,he will help you regularly. We are here to pray for God’s guidance as leaders and followers. We are here to pray for unity, peace, progress and prosperity, we are here to pray for our President,Speaker, Senate President, and all the governors. I want all of us to desist from lying and gossiping.”

In their separate remarks, State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Pastor Benjamin Akanmu and the State Chairman of Pilgrims Welfare Board, Muslim Wing, Alhaji Akewugbagold, unanimously agreed that prayers and regular intercession have become necessary in the face of several national challenges.

In their messages of exhortation, Apostle Sunday Popoola and Sheikh Muyideen Bello implored Nigerians to imbibe godly virtues always. They cautioned against derogatory comments against leaders and the nation.

The Special Adviser to the governor on Community Relation, Abidemi Siyanbade, said the event was to seek divine grace from God for the country and its leaders.

According to him, “the country is bedeviled with various crises, economic sabotage, insurgency, kidnapping and others. It’s only through prayers that all this can be solved.”

My husband became President because he never gave up – Aisha Buhari

The wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has advised Nigerians to emulate her husband by never giving up on their dreams and aspirations.

She said her husband became Nigeria’s president in 2015 due to his doggedness, persistence and compassion for the masses.

She said this in Abeokuta on Tuesday in Abeokuta during the launch of a book titled, “Buhari vs Yar’Adua: Facing the future,” written by a Special Assistant on Media to the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Opeyemi Soyombo.

The First Lady was represented by the wife of the Ogun State governor, Dr Olufunso Amosun.

She commended the efforts of the author, who documented the legal struggles of her husband in the 2007 election petition challenging the victory of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.

Despite Buhari’s legal struggles which saw him moving to Court of Appeal and to the Supreme Court trying to prove that he won the 2007 presidential election, he lost the case. But he never gave up his presidential ambition.

Mrs Buhari noted that the importance of record keeping or documentation could not be over-emphasised because without it history would be distorted.

She said there were lots of lessons to learn from the life of President Buhari who contested the presidential election consecutively four times before he eventually won in 2015.

She said, “There are lots of lessons to learn from the life of President Muhammadu Buhari, most especially his doggedness and compassion for the masses. President Buhari contested presidential election consecutively four times before he eventually won in 2015.
“His victory has paid off considering his passion for helping the masses and most importantly the successes recorded in the anti-corruption war of his government.

“I commend the efforts of the writer for documenting the Presidential Election suit between the candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and President Umaru Yar’Adua of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2007.

“This shows that the author has been following with keen interest elections held in the country and the petitions arising from them. In most recent shared views and writings on human and societal development, the investment made on other people gives tremendous yields; thus the facts and authenticity of the book are invaluable.”

The chairman of the occasion, who’s a retired judge of the Ogun State High Court, Justice Ademola Bakre, said Nigerians must all work for a better future of Nigeria.

While he lamented the rot in the country’s judiciary, he warned against interference and undue pressure in the affairs of judges.

He said, “I want to appeal that Nigerians should allow the judges to do their job, people should stop putting unnecessary pressure on them.”
Speaking with journalists after the launch, the author said he was motivated to write the 179-page book, which was divided into seven chapters, to forestall election rigging in the future in Nigeria.

Soyombo noted that Buhari was short-changed in the 2007 presidential election, adding that the book would “ensure that we have credible, free and fair elections and to ensure that the judiciary on no account, either by design or default, would endorse electoral robbery.”

The book was reviewed by Mr Kayode Oyede of the Department of Public Private Law, Faculty of Law, Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos.

Nigerian Government set to evacuate 230 of it’s nationals from Libya, EU.

The Nigerian government has concluded arrangements to bring back home a fresh set of 180 Nigerians migrants trapped in Libya and 50 deportees from the European Union this week.

While the Libya returnees will arrive the country on Tuesday, the deportees from the EU will be received on Thursday.

A statement by Balogun Abdur-Rahman, the media assistant to Abike Dabiri-Erewa, senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, said the returnees will arrive through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport cargo terminal.

He said the returnees will be profiled by airport officials and security agencies before being transported to their states of origin.

While the Federal government has warned Nigerian about entering Libya illegally due to the persecution of black immigrants in the country, which is a popular transit point for many Africans seeking better lives in Europe, it has intensified efforts at repatriating Nigerians trapped in prison camps in the country.

Reacting to a viral video and pictures purportedly showing the abuse of black Africans migrants in Libya, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa had in January warned Nigerians of the hazards of illegal migration through the Sahara Desert to Libya with the hope of crossing to the EU.

Since the fall of the Muammar Ghadaffi regime in 2011, Libya has been engaged in a sectarian conflict, and militants affiliated to the so-called Islamic State now controls large swath of territory in the country.

There have been reports of arbitrary executions, torture and rape of migrants by the militants and human traffickers.

There are an estimated 300,000 African irregular migrants, many of them Nigerians, trapped in prison camps in Libya. The Nigerian government said it has evacuated over 2,000 from Libya and nearly 1,000 deportees from Europe since July 2016.


Source: Premium Times

13 countries to meet to raise $1.1 billion for IDPs in Northeast

No fewer than 13 countries are seeking $1.1 billion (N330 billion) as humanitarian assistance to 1.8 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) affected by Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east sub-region of the country.

The Ambassador of Ireland, Sean Hoy, disclosed this yesterday in Maiduguri, while briefing journalists about the “worsening humanitarian crisis” in the three affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

He said that the 13 ambassadors and representatives of Republic of Korea, Sweden, Netherlands, Japan, Germany, France, U.S, United Kingdom, and Norway among other countries; will attend the Oslo Conference slated for February 24, 2017 to raise the $1.1 billion.

Hoy listed the four humanitarian intervention and assistance to include, protection of IDPs, food, security and education.

Meawhile, the House of Representatives yesterday lamented the absence of a comprehensive data of IDPs spread across various camps in the country.

The House committee on the north east, refugees and internally displaced persons has called on the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and the Displaced that such data would be required for effective planning and implementation of resettlement re-integration programmes.

The Sani Zorro-led committee which met with the federal commissioner for refugees and internally displaced persons and migrants , Hajia Sadiya Farouk on her outfit 2017 budget proposal also stressed the need for durable solutions to the problems of the IDPs in the polity.

Zorro urged the commission to partner with state governments and NGOs as well as the Federal Capital Territory Administration to get accurate data on the number of persons displaced across the country and how to resettle or integrate them.

Also, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has trained 400 clerics, youth and women leaders in the north east to help propagate counter-terrorism messages to the youth in the zone.

The CDD Programme Officer, Mr. Ikponmwosa Omoijiade, at a workshop yesterday in Yola said that the training which is sponsored by Japanese government is to de-radicalize extremism in the region.

He said the programme is yielding fruitful, pointing out that the clerics and the youth have now understand the implications of radical extremism by some clerics in the country.

Lasun rebukes ECOWAS for downplaying Nigeria’s role in The Gambia

The First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Yusuf Sulaiman Lasun, yesterday, angrily left a session of the parliament, in protest against what he described as lack of appreciation of Nigeria’s huge role in the body.

Lasun’s action was provoked by the statement of a Senegalese member of parliament (MP), Ibrahima Baba Sall, who ranked the contributions of his country in resolving the Gambian crisis above that of Nigeria.

Expressing his displeasure, Lasun told the parliamentarians that Nigeria’s famed ‘big brother’ role in the continent may be reviewed, if it is not properly recognised.

He advised the commission to visit the Acting President and write a letter wishing Buhari quick recovery.

While speaking to newsmen after he left the session, Lasun, lamented the disdain meted out to Nigeria despite funding ECOWAS by about 80 per cent. “If our leaders and Nigeria are not being accorded proper recognition, why are we here then?”

BREAKING: World Bank agrees to approve $2.5bn loan for Nigeria.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, better known as the World Bank has agreed to give Nigeria $2.5bn loan.

One of the conditions for the release of the initial tranche of $1.5bn is a reform of Nigeria’s Forex market.

Business Day, a leading newspaper, tweeted this on Wednesday.


Since January 2016, the federal government has been in talks with the bank on the loan.

After a meeting with the executive of bank in Washington DC in May, Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, said the loan was required to bridge the N1.8trn  deficit in the budget, and also to fund infrastructural projects.

“We had discussions with the World Bank around our budget support request and we have been able to have very productive meetings to understand what the next steps are in the process and we are very positive of a good outcome,” she had said.

Nigeria’s inflation rate increases, hits 18.72 per cent.

From 18.55 per cent in December 2016, Nigeria’s inflation rate increased to 18.72 per cent in January 2017, the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, has said.

According to the Bureau, the Consumer Price Index, CPI, which measures inflation increased by 18.72 per cent (year-on-year) in January 2017, 0.17 percentage points higher from the rate recorded in December; and increases were recorded in all divisions that yield the Headline Index.

The report, released by the NBS on Wednesday, stated that communication and restaurants and hotels again recorded the slowest pace of growth in January, growing at 5.1 per cent and 8.4 per cent (year-on-year) respectively.

The NBS, however, said that the faster pace of growth in headline inflation, year on year, were bread and cereals; meat, fish, oils and fats; potatoes, yams and other tubers; wine and spirits: clothing materials and accessories. Others are electricity, cooking gas, liquid and solid fuels; motor cars and maintenance; vehicle spare parts and fuels; and lubricants for personal transport equipment as well as passenger transport by road.

According to the report, on a month-on-month basis, headline inflation was driven by passenger transport by air, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment; liquid fuels, cooking gas, oils and fats; fruits, cheese and eggs; fish, meat and bread; as well as cereals.

The report noted that the Food index increased by 17.82 per cent (year-on-year) in January, up by 0.43 per cent points from rate recorded in December 2016 (17.39) percent. During the month, all major food sub-indexes increased, with soft drinks recording the slowest pace of increase at 7.8 per cent(year on year).

During the month, the highest increases were seen in housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, with education and transport growing at 27.2, 21.0 and 17.2 per cent respectively.

On a month-on-month basis, the Headline index increased although at a slower pace in January 2017. The index increased by 1.01 per cent point in January, 0.05 per cent points from 1.06 per cent rate recorded in December 2016.

The Urban index rose by 20.31 per cent (year-on-year) in January from 20.12 per cent recorded in December, and the Rural index increased by 17.34 per cent in January from 17.20 per cent in December.

On month-on-month basis, the Urban index rose by 1.03 per cent in January from 1.08 per cent recorded in December, while the rural index rose by 1.00 per cent in January from 1.04 per cent in December.

The corresponding twelve-month year-on-year average percentage change for the Urban index, the report said, increased from 17.05 percent in December to 17.91 per cent in January, while the corresponding rural index also increased from 14.54 per cent in December to 15.18 per cent in January.

According to the NBS, the Composite Food Index rose by 17.82 per cent in January 2017. The rise in the index, the bureau said, was mainly driven by increases in prices of bread and cereals, meat, oil and fats, and fish.

On a month-on-month basis, the Food sub-index increased by 1.29 per cent in January, down by 0.04 per cent points from 1.33 per cent recorded in December.

Meanwhile, the ”All Items Less Farm Produce” or Core sub-index, which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce eased by 17.9 per cent during the month, 0.20 per cent points from 18.1 per cent recorded in December as all key divisions which contributes to the index increased.

Also on a month-on-month basis, the Core sub-index increased by 0.68 per cent in January, 0.06 per cent points higher from 0.62 per cent recorded in December. The highest increases were recorded in electricity, gas, passenger transport by air, liquid fuel, fuel and lubricants for personal transport equipment and solid fuels.

PREMIUM TIMES reports that the NBS said Nigeria’s inflation rate increased from 9.6 per cent recorded in December 2015 to 18.55 per cent in December 2016, as a result of sharp increase in the prices of meat, bread, fish, vegetable, and other products.

Nigeria to service $1b Eurobond with N361b

Nigeria is considering a new debt service provisioning of N361 billion ($1.2 billion) for the $1 billion (N305.1 billion) Eurobond which was acclaimed to have been over-subscribed.

When consummated, the development will not only add to the country’s debt stock, its current debt service provision at over N1.4 trillion will rise, and it will deepen the troubled debt-to-revenue ratio which has been impeding the country’s ability to freely finance growth projects.

Government had said its 15-year Eurobond offer was priced at 7.875 per cent, with a lump sum repayment of the principal ($1 billion) at the due date – February 2032.

However, the aggregate cost for the deal at the offering rate may not be less than N361 billion at the prevailing official exchange rate, considering that investors would be paid in dollar, representing a yearly average cost of about N24.1 billion ($79 million).

A popular economist who would not want his name in print told The Guardian that the net proceeds of the Eurobond would naturally be less than the amount quoted due to service charges incurred in the process, “but we would be debited with $1 billion.”

“If you factor in these costs, you begin to ask whether we should have been here. It is irritating that in the midst of these challenges, misappropriation, huge governance cost and outright embezzlement of public fund still persist.

“The budget items of some ministries are clear fraud and these have put the country on an unsustainable path. What is there to celebrate about the Eurobond? Is it that we are now committing our young generations, even the unborn, to poverty and immediate struggle?” the economist queried.

But the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, in a statement, said: “Nigeria is implementing an ambitious economic reform agenda designed to deliver long-term sustainable growth and reduce reliance on oil and gas revenues while reducing waste and improving the efficiency of government expenditure.

“We are establishing the building blocks for long-term growth and making the hard decisions that must be made to reset our economy appropriately.”

The Director-General of Debt Management Office, Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, also said: “Nigeria is delighted to have successfully priced its third Eurobond issue…The Eurobond is the latest step in a broader debt strategy designed to significantly re-balance our debt profile towards longer term financing and reduce the burden of interest on our annual budget.”

A director at Union Capital Markets Limited, Egie Akpata, said he was sure that the country would raise the amount and predicted an oversubscription earlier, but expressed worry on the pricing, which he said would have been a lot lower if the fundamentals did not get this bad.

“Eurobond is the easiest platform for international fund raising for the country now, because there is no string attached, unlike the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

“With the assurance that our daily oil earnings may be more or less this amount, it is not a ‘back breaking’ deal. But considering the exchange rate, local debts would be better off, as the total cost incurred would be less,” he said.

The Executive Director of Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, Idris Miliki, said with the President’s absence, investors’ risk assessments would always be on the high side.

Besides, he said that both investors and those in acting capacity would approach with caution any economic decision now, because the truth about the head of government is shrouded in uncertainty and that is a risk for investment.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government’s whistleblower policy has so far led to the recovery of $151 million and N8billion in looted funds.

The government yesterday said it would not disclose the identities of the whistleblowers or make public when they would receive the 2.5 to 5 per cent reward promised.

If the whistleblowing policy is well managed, it will boost the fight against corruption so that the nation’s resources can be used to develop the country rather than allowing corrupt leaders to siphon them for use only by their families.

In an interview with The Guardian, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed assured that government would not renege on its promise, arguing that disclosing the identities of the whistleblowers or when they would be rewarded would jeopardise the entire programme.

“We cannot disclose to you when where or how the whistleblowers will be paid, the moment we do that, we have blown their cover and this will jeopardise the entire programme so we have to protect their identities. But nobody will receive anything below 2.5 per cent, there is no question about that,” he said.

The Federal Ministry of Finance in December 2016 devised a whistleblower policy aimed at encouraging anyone with information about a violation, misconduct or improper activity that impacts negatively on Nigerians and government.

Reacting to the development, the lead Director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Eze Onyekpere expressed reservations over the authenticity of government’s claim and demanded that it tells Nigerians where the recovered money would be deployed.

“They should tell us from who they recovered the money and where they want to deploy it. It’s quite difficult for anybody to believe, so he should tell us from who they recovered the money and what they want to do with it because it is a lot of money, you are talking of over N45 billion by the official exchange rate. He can claim anything, nobody is sure of what he is saying.”

BBC: Nigeria has ‘more female entrepreneurs’ than any country in the world

Nigeria has the highest number of female entrepreneurs in the world, according to BBC.

The organisation spoke with two women who sell moi moi, a traditional meal made from beans, to make a living.

Ayo Megbope started by selling moi moi, but now has a restaurant and a catering service, while Aminat Salau, a market seller is also doing well.

“Forty percent of Nigerian women are entrepreneur, that is higher than anywhere else in the world,” BBC said.

Megbope described her business journey, narrating how she relied on family and friends because traditional financial institutions would not help.

“I started my business about nine years ago with a seed capital of $3. Nine years after, we are turning over about $250,000 annually,” she said.

“My access to education and information has helped me a great deal. Family and friends have also been good to me.

“There have been times that I got stuck and I needed to raise capital and I ran to family and friends because the traditional financial institutions would not listen to me.”

Moi Moi Enterpreneur1

Salau at her business location

On the other hand, Salau depends on human traffic to determine her sales.

“Sales are good, on some days we sell 60 or 80 wraps in the morning. When we have more time or more people passing by, we sell till late in the evening,” she said.

BBC said it would be difficult for traders like Salau to grow their business.

“Female entrepreneurs in Nigeria often struggle to secure investment, banks normally require collateral, like property, which women often do not have. Without access to capital, it will be difficult for Aminat to grow her business.”

President Buhari MAY return to Nigeria on Saturday – Presidency Official

Emerging reports suggest that, if all things go as planned, then President Muhammadu Buhari would return to Nigeria from his vacation to the United Kingdom this Saturday, February 11.

According to Leadership, a source disclosed on Wednesday, February 8, that except there would be any last minute change, all is set for President Buhari’s return.

The source, a senior official in the presidency, who spoke in confidence with newsmen, simply said: “Barring any last minute change, we are expecting the president back this weekend, probably on Saturday.”

It was also gathered that the president had on Tuesday this week cancelled an interview with a foreign media organisation, but may possibly grant an interview in London before the weekend.

Another source in the presidency also said that President Buhari “had already packed his bags to leave on Sunday but was advised by his doctors to wait and get results of some tests he conducted before leaving that country.”

“I can confidently tell you that Mr. President might still be there (in London) because he has to succumb to the superior knowledge of physicians who conducted medical checks on him, but his mind is in Nigeria,” he added.

On rumours that he is incapacitated, the source who preferred not to be named in print because he is not in a position to officially speak on the matter said, “What else do you expect from people? If it were to be other past presidents who go on vacation or medical checkup without official notification, there wouldn’t have been room for such rumour.

“But this is a president who is determined to remain transparent in whatever he does in office. Don’t forget that this is not the first time His Excellency is embarking on a vacation outside the shores of the country.”

Source: NAIJ

“We’re African champions, bring on Nigeria”, Indomitable Lions defender boasts.

Ahead of their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria, Cameroun defender, Ambrose Oyongo, says they will approach the back to back games with the mentality of champions of Africa.


Cameroun will face group leaders Nigeria in back to back World Cup qualifiers, with Nigeria four points ahead of them in the race to be in Russia following two straight victories. Cameroun have drawn their opening two games.


However, Oyongo believes there’s a change of mentality in the squad, which will make them approach their remaining World Cup qualifiers as the number one team in Africa after winning the Cup of Nations.


“The Confederations Cup in Russia will help us perfect our strategy before the games against Nigeria. We will be up against some of the best team in the World. We are champions of Africa, we are not scared of Nigeria,” he said.


Source: Guardian

#IStandWithNigeria: We Hear You Loud And Clear – Acting President Osinbajo

The following are excerpts from the opening remarks of Ag. President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN,  at today’s consultative forum between the Economic Management Team and the Private Sector on the Economic Recovery Growth Plan, which is to be launched later this month.

The Ag. President in response to the #IStandWithNigeria protesters across the country, said;

WE HEAR YOU loud and clear, those who are on the streets protesting the economic situation and even those who are are not, but feel the pain of economic hardship. We hear you loud and clear. You deserve a decent life and and we are working night and day to make life easier.

The Ag. President also recalled the words of President Buhari, a few months ago when he said;

“I know that uppermost in your minds today is the economic crisis, the recession for many individuals and families is real. For some it means not being able to pay school fees, for others it is not being able to afford the high cost of rice, millet, or of local or international travel. And for many of our young people the recession means joblessness, sometimes after graduating from university or polytechnic.

I know how difficult things are, and how rough business is. All my adult life I have always earned a salary, and I know what it is like when your salary simply is not enough. In every part of our nation people are making incredible sacrifices.”

The journey out of the damage caused by years of neglect and corruption is bound to be difficult but there is a glorious light at the end of the tunnel. Let us work together, steadfastly and patiently for the economic change that will come very soon.

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN 

Ag. President 

Federal Republic of Nigeria 

February 6, 2017

OPINION: “Mangoes are out” (Nigeria’s Portfolio of Waste) – By Adewunmi Emoruwa

I often say?—?we (Nigerians) are an unserious people. Though I blurt jokingly most times, the severity of this statement remains intact. Earlier this week, on Monday, I received a message on my WhatsApp from an unrelenting, serial pusher of broadcasts which I usually would not bother reading, but this one caught my attention, luckily. It reads:

Despite all that has been happening in Nigeria, the fight between APC and PDP, Army and Boko Haram, Buhari and Jonathan, EFCC, Subsidy, Fuel scarcity, increase in dollar and decrease of naira, unemployment, inflation and hardship I have good news for you…. Mango is out!!”

It was a widely shared joke, as I happened to see this same post on Social Media with some of the most funny and imaginative comments?—?as usual.

It wasn’t funny to me, not anymore, as soon as the message sank. “Mango is out!”

My mind raced back to the roots of my upbringing that chastised the habit of waste and early social science definition of Economics in respect to scare resources.

Mango is almost free in Nigeria and a lot of it gets to waste as people who live or pass through Gboko or some other rural community in Benue can attest to. Mango eventually becomes scarce in Nigeria and Mango in packed juice form is expensive as a result of rising cost of imports amid the foreign exchange scarcity.

“Mangoes are out and what about that?”

‘No jokes’, Nigeria is the 9th largest Mango producer in the world followed by the Philippines.

Feeling proud, guess what? Nigeria has no place even in the top 30 in terms of exporting the same commodity, and not even top 10 in Africa.

Precisely, Africa exported mangoes valued at about $178.8 million with the following countries topping the trade 1. Côte d’Ivoire: $38.7 million; 2. Egypt: $32.7 million; 3. Ghana: $25.9 million; 4. South Africa: $21.3 million; 5. Senegal: $17.9 million; 6. Mali: $11.1 million; 7. Burkina Faso: $10.7 million; 8. Kenya: $10.4 million; 9. Gambia: $4 million; 10. Cameroon: $2.2 million. To make matters worse, no other country in Africa is on the Top 10 list or close to being at par with Nigeria. 

Meanwhile, Philippines that is a rank beneath us in terms of production, exports about $91million worth of mangoes and Peru which is only about 1/5th of Nigeria’s population exports $194.2 million worth of Mangoes?—?more than Africa’s combined exports?—?and the country is not even a top 10 producer!

In Abuja, One (1) big fresh Mango is sold for about N100 (30¢) but a pack of imported Stute Mango Juice made from concentrates retails for about N1200 (almost $4). In other places, people only sell mangoes in baskets and beg customers to buy. 

Mango to a Nigerian can be likened to the biblical Manna from Heaven, one does not even have to harvest it, it just falls and our part is to pick and eat, saving none for tomorrow. Beyond Mangoes, this is the tale for other fruits such as the Citrus family, which Nigeria is also among the top 10 producers of.

But it is not all doom and gloom, certain Nigerians in the private sector are not just aware of these opportunities but have gone further to harness them. The Agriculture subsidiary of Tony Elumelu’s Transcorp Plc invested about 1 billion Naira in the Ben Fruit plant in Benue state which can produce about 26,500 metric tonnes per annum of fruit concentrates (Mango, Orange and Pineapple).

Affiong Williiam’s Reel Fruit is another inspiring story, the small start-up ventured into the production of dried fruits with decent packaging, initially targeting the middle class, health conscious demographic in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve but is now available to every demography across the country.

Nothing more can drive my point home than the story of Seun and Seyi Abolaji who started the Wilson’s Juice company with just N2000 (about $5 at the time) and turned squeezing lemons into a million dollar business.

The point is?—?Nigerians have shown that success is possible against all the odds and with little resources. It is up to government to remove the odds, among which include infrastructure, access to power, storage and credit facilities and policy push etc. Whenever the Mangoes come out again, we should get all we can out of them and must get them out!

BREAKING: Former Delta State Governor, James Ibori arrives Nigeria from UK.

One of Nigeria’s most powerful men, who was jailed in Britain for money laundering and fraud in a landmark anti-corruption case, has returned home, his aides told AFP on Saturday.

“Chief James Ibori has arrived. He landed in Abuja in the early hours,” said Ighoyota Amori, a political adviser to Ibori, who was governor of the oil-rich Delta state between 1999 and 2007.

He said Ibori, who was released in London in December after serving just over four years of a 13-year jail term, would later fly to the southern port city of Warri in Delta state.

“A chartered private plane will fly him to Warri and he will land at Osubi airfield operated by Shell,” he added.

The former politician would be received at the airstrip by supporters and sympathisers who have lined up to welcome him back, he added.

“For now, it is going to be a quiet ceremony. An elaborate reception will be organised later for him at Oghara, his hometown,” he said.

Ibori’s media aide, Tony Eluemunor, also confirmed his arrival, saying only: “He is in town. I will keep you posted later.”

Ibori was jailed in April 2012 for fraud amounting to nearly 50 million pounds (at the time $78.5 million/62 million euros) following a drawn-out extradition procedure and his evasion of arrest and prosecution in Nigeria.

He had fled to Dubai in 2010, from where he was extradited to Britain.

– Rare blow against graft –

Anti-corruption campaigners say billions of pounds of ill-gotten wealth is moved each year through Britain, its overseas territories and dependencies and Ibori’s conviction was a rare success against global graft.

Ibori, 57, has vowed to appeal the conviction, claiming that at least one police officer involved in the investigation against him had been compromised by taking bribes.

London’s Metropolitan Police has said it has investigated the claim but no charges were brought.

Transparency International on Friday called Ibori’s intent to appeal “an affront to justice”.

“Ibori claims that the police who investigated him were themselves corrupt.

“All allegations of corruption against the police force must be taken with the utmost seriousness and independently investigated, and those found guilty should be held accountable,” it said.

“But this should have no bearing on the guilt of an individual who amassed an astonishing personal fortune, whilst his notional official salary as a state governor would typically have been no more than $25,000 annually,” it said.

“Attempts to mask his own corrupt dealings by highlighting corruption elsewhere must not be allowed to prevail.”

Opinions are divided in Nigeria itself about whether Ibori should face a fresh trial on his return given the strong anti-corruption stance of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Ibori is said to have partially funded the election of Umaru Yar’Adua in his successful bid to become president in 2007.

Even during his time in prison, he is said to have influenced the election of the current Delta state governor and other politicians.

 Source: AFP

Nigeria’s Undying Love of Multiplying Parastatals – By Jibrin Ibrahim

…it is really important to get the National Assembly to realise that the multiplication of agencies is not a sign of effective work; it’s a process of creating more difficulties for the future. Currently, many agencies get just enough budgetary allocations for salaries and maintenance of ministers or boards. The victim of the system is the citizen for whom there is no public service.

The Daily Trust of January 30, 2017 carried a report about the National Assembly’s plans to create about 25 additional federal agencies through laws that are being processed. Almost every draft bill has a proposal for the establishment of a new agency to run whatever is being proposed in the bill. The 25 mentioned are just those that are about to be finalised. There are actually about 150 new agencies being considered by our legislators at this time. The Daily Trust report shows that about N2.98 trillion or 40.1 percent of the N7.28 trillion 2017 federal budget will be used to run 541 existing federal agencies, departments, commissions, institutes, bureaux and other bodies.

After an enormous effort, the Buhari Administration has succeeded in reducing the percentage of recurrent expenditure and raising capital expenditure to N2.4 trillion or 30 percent of the federal budget. However, the path we are on, of multiplying agencies, would take us back to where we were two years ago when over 90 percent of the budget was allocated to recurrent expenditure to run ministries and agencies. Most of the federal agencies that are annually guzzling trillions have duplicated roles; dozens hardly do anything apart from paying salaries and pretending to work.

It would be recalled that in August 2011, the Federal Government had established a Presidential Committee on the Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies headed by former Head of Service of the Federation, Steven Oronsanye. The Committee had recommended the reduction of statutory agencies of government from 263 to 161, the complete scrapping of 38 agencies, the merger of 52 and the conversion of 14 to departments in ministries. The Committee had also recommended the removal of all professional bodies and councils from the national budget in order to slash the exorbitant cost of governance. On assumption of office, President Buhari had established an implementation committee to ensure that the recommendations are executed but nothing has happened so far. It appears that the government is worried that scrapping the agencies would mean less membership of boards would be available for the ruling party members who have been agitating for appointments. I am not sure what this means as we are approaching almost two years of this Administration without the board appointments being made anyway.

Nigeria has a long history of establishing committees on restructuring and rationalisation of government agencies but the recommendations are never implemented. For example, the Ahmed Joda Panel Report on the Review, Harmonisation and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Institutions and Agencies in 2000 made recommendations about some parastatals and agencies which government should scrape, commercialise, privatise or be made self-funding. The recommendations were never implemented. Twelve years after Joda, Oronsanye was appointed to do a similar job. The latest recommendations have now been on the shelf for over six years and nothing is happening about its implementation.

The Buhari Administration is clearly averse to making political appointments. This means ministers remain in charge and in most cases chief executives operate in an acting capacity. The implication of this is that the process of setting targets and objectives by new boards does not happen and the organisations are run on a day-by-day basis.

One of the reasons the reports never get implemented is that ministers rely on parastatals under their control as cash cows to secure slush funds. Ministers therefore do everything in their powers to ensure the reports never get implemented. Way back in 1995, the Allison Ayida Panel Report had seriously criticised the relationship between ministers and the parastatals under their control and had proposed that ministers should not control parastatals. What has happened is that ministers delay the appointment of boards of parastatals so that they remain the sole authorities in control. The Ahmed Joda Committee had also strongly condemned ministerial interference and control of parastatals and pointed out that their effectiveness is reduced by the greed of their ministers. When boards are appointed, the members are drawn from party members who see their appointment as payoff for political support and therefore spend their time seeking to milk the parastatals for personal benefit. One of the clearest reasons for the increasing cost of governance is therefore the system of multiplication of parastatals and their operations by ministers or boards who see their value as payoff rather than public service. The organisation of wasteful governance is therefore systemic.

The Buhari Administration is clearly averse to making political appointments. This means ministers remain in charge and in most cases chief executives operate in an acting capacity. The implication of this is that the process of setting targets and objectives by new boards does not happen and the organisations are run on a day-by-day basis. I believe that sometime this year, pressure from the ruling party would force the president to appoint boards. The new boards would realise that they would have a life span of two years or less and would be determined to get something to “eat” as quickly as possible. They would also realise that the next election would be around the corner. It is therefore difficult to see how focus on the public service function of parastatals would get any priority. Now that it appears the Oronsanye report whitepaper will not be implemented, and all the wasteful organisations remain and the National Assembly is creating more of them, its difficult to see how rationality would return to the system.

The problem with the implementation of the Oronsanye report, if it is attempted at all, is that many of the parastatals are established by law and would require the National Assembly to enact legislation to eliminate them. The current tension between the legislature and the executive would make collaboration on the issue very difficult. Meanwhile, it is really important to get the National Assembly to realise that the multiplication of agencies is not a sign of effective work; it’s a process of creating more difficulties for the future. Currently, many agencies get just enough budgetary allocations for salaries and maintenance of ministers or boards. The victim of the system is the citizen for whom there is no public service. Someone should remind the APC-led Federal Government that they did promise Nigerians that they would take the task of reducing the cost of governance seriously.


A professor of Political Science and development consultant/expert, Jibrin Ibrahim is a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Democracy and Development, and Chair of the Editorial Board of PREMIUM TIMES.

OPINION: We Can’t Afford To Be Pawns – By Muhammed Karamba

Recently, there has been an uproar with regards to President Buhari’s decision to keep EFCC boss Ibrahim Magu and SGF Babachir Lawal. The President is under pressure from the public and the National Assembly to replace the two. I find it interesting how we have become so invested in such an issue that should probably be at the bottom of our list. Are we playing somebody’s game? I doubt if it is far from the truth.

It’s quite funny how, all of a sudden, the legislature decides who amongst the executive is corrupt or not. This is an arm of the government who hasn’t answered a lot of crucial questions being asked by Nigerians. It has failed to keep up to its promise of an open NASS. It has suspended a member turned whistle-blower and are yet to give comprehensive answers as per his allegations. I am not saying this disqualifies them from their officials. But it begs the question, are these probes done in the interest of Nigerians?

The media of today is doing a wonderful job at keeping us updated and exposing stuffs we probably otherwise wouldn’t have known. Most of us have one or a couple of media outlets which we trust hundred percent and will always believe anything that comes from them. But how sincere is the media of today? There are bad eggs; a lot of them. Now, all it takes to have a media outlet is money.

Have we ever sat down to think that maybe one of this media is there to defend the interest of a particular entity or group? It might even be as simple as a social media account. Politicians have social media “warriors” (one of whom is might be an account you trust so much) who get paid to spread propaganda. We have become so gullible that a simple twitter account operated by a fellow citizen is what we depend on, to get “credible” info. It’s saddening.

Would we know these people better than Buhari? These are people he would probably deal with on a daily basis. The thing is, being the spectator, we might have this feeling that the president is just there seated while his cabinet devours our wealth without his knowledge. If that happens, then we would have the worst leadership. Yeah, they would try as much as possible to hide their corrupt practices from him. Do we thing it is that easy to dig up something the president hasn’t? But the thing is, the president has the tedious job of knowing when an allegation is in the interest of someone or in the interest of the state.

It is very good for citizens to feel disturbed when we “see” a corrupt top official. We know what we don’t want. But most at times, we don’t know what we want. These guys might be corrupt, but president Buhari knows what he enjoys about working with them. You don’t employ a plumber and tell him which tools to use. Who are we to say no when the president says he wants them? If that’s what it takes to fulfill his campaign promises, then so be it.

The bottom line is, there is a political battle going on and we do not want to be pawns. Regardless of who is in this government, or priorities should not change. What we demand is Transparency and accountability, security, fight against corruption, good stable economy, proper infrastructure and the list goes. That’s it.

Author: Muhammad Karamba

#IStandWithNigeria: Let us not make this protests about Tuface – By Yemisi Adegoke

With back to back protests all over the world, it was probably inevitable that one would spring up in Nigeria, but rather than being a straightforward affair it’s threatening to derail before the first placard hits the street.

When 2Face first announced plans for nationwide protests calling for good governance, almost immediately it started trending. On social media, Nigerians are split; the pro-2Face camp are lauding his past efforts to promote civic engagement and speak out against poor leadership, “no one is perfect” they argue and “at least he is speaking out.”

The critics however, are citing a series of reasons why he isn’t fit to lead the march, ranging from the bizarre accusation of his supposed ‘lack of personal governance’ to claims of his ‘illiteracy.’ While the sceptics are asking if he or any celebrity should lead the march due to the cosy nature of relations between some entertainers and politicians.

Conversation about the protest has been dominated by talk of who is sponsoring it, or pulling strings from behind the curtain, what APC politicians think, what PDP politicians think, what the presidency thinks, what celebrities will show up and 2Face. At the center of it all is 2Face. Questions keep rolling in about what his motives are, if he’s being paid, what artistes are supporting him, what artistes are not, if this march is a launch pad for a political bid and so on.

While I agree that it’s right to have questions and to ask them, the intense concentration on the man shifts the focus away from the message. Ideally such a movement would spring organically from the everyday Nigerian, like the Black Lives Matter movement or even closer to home in Zimbabwe. Last summer, Zimbabweans took part in an organised stay-away day, where schools and businesses across the country completely shut down in protest over a government policy.

But we don’t live in an ideal world and the power and draw of celebrity is undeniable. Let’s be honest, if an unknown Akin or Ijeoma from Mushin tried to galvanise a protest, how many people would listen, and more importantly, come out to take part in the protest?

While it might be honourable to lend a powerful voice to a cause, it’s important that focus on that voice doesn’t shift and become bigger than the cause itself.

Worse still is the danger that this voice will become the long-desired hero, idolized and relied upon to magically solve everything with the wave of a hand. There’s a tendency in Nigeria to pin hope on a hero; a politician, an activist, someone that will not only lead us, but save us. This mythical figure will do the hardwork of thinking, fighting and preserving our freedoms so we don’t have to.

In one of the videos he released on Instagram 2Face clearly defined what the march isn’t about: politicians trying to hijack the movement to score cheap points and highlighting of political leanings and tribal differences. And he’s right, it’s not about any of that, so let’s not make it about him either.

Nigeria not leaving ICC – Foreign Ministry

Nigeria will remain with the International Criminal Court (ICC) despite the recent pull out of some African nations, the ministry of foreign affairs has said.

Clement Aduku, spokesperson of the ministry, made the federal government’s position known on Wednesday, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

Aduku said Nigeria’s stand on the issue as explained by the foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, had not changed.

The African Union had in January during plenary at the 28th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, called for collective withdrawal of its members from the court.

The summit had said that African countries were not fairly treated by the court.

But Onyeama says Nigeria and other countries believe that the court has an important role to play in holding leaders accountable, hence Nigeria fully stands by it.

“Nigeria is not the only voice against it; in fact, Senegal is speaking very strongly against it. Cape Verde and other countries are also against it. What AU did was to set up a committee to elaborate a strategy for collective withdrawal.

“After, Senegal took the floor, Nigeria took the floor, Cape Verde and some other countries made it clear that they were not going to subscribe to that decision,” he said.

Onyeama said that a number of countries had requested for more time to study the decision before acceding.

He said Zambia, Tanzania, Liberia, Botswana and a host of others were not willing to withdraw from the court.

“Each country freely and willingly acceded to the Treaty and not all of the members of the AU acceded; each country acceded individually, exercising its own sovereign right.

“So, if each country wants to withdraw, it has the right to do that individually.’ AU, which was not a party to the Rome Statute that established the court, should not be developing a strategy for a collective withdrawal for something that each country entered into individually.

“Those who feel they want to withdraw should do that individually,” Onyeama said.

Burundi, South Africa and The Gambia have publicly announced their intention to pull out of the ICC while Namibia, Kenya and Uganda are said to be contemplating withdrawing.

It’s in your interest to help Nigeria, UN tells Europe.

Toby Lanzer, UN assistant secretary general and lead humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, has advised European countries to help tackle the humanitarian crisis in countries in the Lake Chad region.

Lanzer said this ahead of a major donor conference in Oslo that will be co-hosted by Nigeria, Germany and Norway on February 24.

According to The Guardian, Lanzer said European countries have done too little to tackle the crisis despite the opportunity to address humanitarian and migration issues.

“It’s not only that we want Nigeria to be stable for the prosperity of that country and its people, it’s also in our broader interests at home,” the top UN official said.

“This is a double win, if you want. You don’t want the most populous country on the African continent becoming increasingly unstable; at the same time, you want people there prospering and not having to flee from violence or seek opportunity elsewhere.

“There is a convergence of interests here. I think the UK is probably doing all it can, both on the humanitarian and development fronts, but I think making calls to other capitals across Europe is going to be something that is really vital over the next two weeks to generate more interest.

“There are about 515,000 children who are at risk of starvation right now, so step up, Netherlands; step up, Denmark. You have got to show some solidarity now and it is in your interests to do so.”

A recent report published by the international organisation for migration (IOM) revealed that in 2016, Nigeria was the third largest source of migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

The UN had in December 2016 urged global donors to pool $1.5bn (£1.2bn) for the crisis in the Lake Chad region, including $1.05bn for Nigeria.

Only 53% of the requested amount had been received as at January, the report says.

Nigeria’s Ezekiel Bassey joins Barcelona

Super Eagles and Enyimba FC forward, Ezekiel Bassey, has joined the Team B of Spanish giants, Barcelona, on loan until the end of the season.

The Spanish giants announced on Tuesday that they had “reached an agreement” with seven-time Nigeria League champions for the services of the young forward to join their B-team for the rest of the season.

It is understood that the agreement between the Catalan outfit and Enyimba also includes a purchase option for two seasons according to Spanish news outlet

“FC Barcelona and Enyimba Football Club have reached an agreement for the transfer until the end of season of the player Ezekiel Joseph Bassey for Barça B.

“The agreement includes a purchase option for two more seasons. The 20-year-old Nigerian striker will undergo medical examination in the next few hours,” Barca announced on their website on Tuesday.

Bassey, who can play as a forward or as a wide man caught the fancy of his new employers when the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) All-Star team went for a week-long tour in Spain following the partnership between the League Management Company, LMC, and the Spanish La Liga.

The former Akwa United man will be keen to hit the ground running as he faces the challenge with the Barcelona B team.


Source: Premium Times

“No plans to leave Nigeria”, says Total Oil.

Total Nigeria has denied rumours that it is planning to leave the country any time soon.


Jean Philippe Torres, managing director of the organisation, made this known at the customer service day that held at Onigbagbo Total service station in Ikeja, Lagos.


Total recently indicated plans to spin off its downstream asset in Nigeria, feeding rumours that an exit could be in the works.


Torres used the programme as an opportunity to assure Nigerians of the continued presence of Total in the country.


“This event is to remind our customers of how significant they are to us. We at Total are keen to delivering good and satisfactory customer service,” he said.


“We want to make Nigerians understand that we are part of the communities. Once again, the main issue for us in Total is to tie the link with our esteemed customers and tell them that they are king at Total and that is the case.


“There were rumours that we wanted to leave the country, that is not the case. Total wants to stay in Nigeria.


“At Total, we have very strict control mechanism in order to make sure that our dispensers are really dispensing the right quantity.”


Commenting on alleged under-dispensing of petroleum products at the company’s filling stations, he said: “This is the responsibility of the full staff of our stations, dealers to make sure that we deliver to customers the quantity they pay for.


“We have system in place to control the stock level, deliveries to ensure that we really deliver the products needed and paid by the customers.”


Source: The Cable

WEF: Rising youth unemployment puts Nigeria on ‘time bomb’.

Nigeria’s rising youth unemployment is now a major source of worry with the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Lagos Business School saying the country sits on a ‘time bomb.’

Government says the situation is under control and efforts to curb joblessness will pay off in 2017. The country’s unemployment rate rose from 13.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2016 to 13.9 per cent in third quarter, according to the National Bureau of Statistics’ Unemployment/Under-employment Report released in October last year.

The rising rate of unemployment will enlarge existing risk of insecurity and militancy in major parts of the country and undermine government’s efforts at fighting insurgency in the Northeast, uprisings in the Southeast and other serious crimes in parts of the country. Past President of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, in agreeing with the WEF/LBS’ report, said Nigeria is experiencing insecurity largely due to joblessness and perceived marginalization. He added that unemployment rate has been rising consistently since 2014.

“The impact of unemployment is already evident, as we look at general levels of militancy in the South South, the problems with the Boko Haram and even some of the eruptions in other parts of the country, especially the IPOB and the MASSOB,” says Ohuabunwa who still sits in the NECA council. He argues that the country’s misery index has reached 50 per cent, meaning that more than half of Nigeria’s more than 180 million people “are miserable.” The Misery Index is a measure of unemployment in line with inflation rate — the average rate of increase in prices of good and services. Ohuabunwa explains that gross unemployment rate when factored with under-employment rate in the third quarter of last year for example, puts the unemployment rate at 50 per cent. “We are the third highest country with misery index, only behind Venezuela and Iraq. Recession has worsened our condition. Therefore, social stability and job creation should be at the core of our economic policy.”

But there is always the good side. Abiola Rasaq, an investment analyst with the UBA Capital, sees the challenge posed by youth unemployment differently. “It can either be positive or negative for the country,” he submits. “The rising youth unemployment reinforces the fact that Nigeria can become a manufacturing giant given the repository of labour force,” says Rasaq as he cites the productive activities of the Asian Tigers — China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, among others — with relatively cheap labour. “If we can harness and drive productivity, then it will be a win-win.”

Rasaq agrees that failure to harness “this rich human capital resource can create social menace for us. There is potential that unemployed youths can become a social force for civil unrest; we need to ensure that we make our youths productive,” said Rasaq who cited the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the Dangote Foundation as exemplary initiatives driving entrepreneurship and job creation.

The Federal Government yesterday responded to The Guardian enquiry on the WEF/LBS report as Festus Akanbi, the media aide to the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said “government already has a lot of programmes to address unemployment this year.”

Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity in the office of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande, also said government’s N-Power programme is already targeting unemployed graduates.

“Half a million people are being targeted but we have done 200,000. It is just for unemployed graduates. And we have already reached another 100,000 non-graduates as micro credit is being made available to young people who want to develop their businesses.”

Akande explained that the scheme is not limited to youths but they could get as much as N100, 000 business grant as part of government’s Social Investment Scheme. He also hinted of plans to create technology hubs in eight strategic centres across the country — one each in Lagos and Abuja, and the rest in the six geopolitical zones of the country.

The number of unemployed in the labour force, the NBS said, increased by 555,311 persons just as the underemployment rate rose from 19.3 per cent in second quarter to 19.7 in the third quarter.

Nigerians aged 15 to 64, who during the reference period were available and actively seeking work but were without work were categorised ‘unemployed,’ while underemployment occurs when a person works less than 40 hours, but works at least 20 hours a week. The NBS also explained that underemployment could occur when a person works full time but is engaged in an activity that underutilises his skills, time and educational qualifications.

The report stressed that addressing the “youth unemployment is not only important, but also most urgent given the link between unemployment and other social problems such as terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, which are unfortunately becoming more common in Nigeria.”

Joe Ajero, who leads one of the factions of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), yesterday told The Guardian that the unemployment situation was a national emergency. “No one needs to tell us that this is a problem that will explode any moment from now, especially as those who are leaving school are not getting jobs,” he said. “Those who are working are not being paid salaries and those who had worked and are retired are not being paid their pensions.” Ajero called for urgent action to avert what he said could lead to civil unrest.

We Need an Igbo President in Nigeria – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has subtly made a case for other geo-political zones that have not produced a President since 1999 to have a taste of it in the interest of justice and fairness.

The Southeast is yet to produce a President while the Southwest, North and minority Southsouth have had shots at the Presidency at different times.

Obasanjo said it was his view that the Southeast should produce a President as Ogun West Senatorial District in Ogun State should also produce a governor soon.

The ex-President spoke yesterday when the leadership of Ogun State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bishop Tunde-Akin Akinsanya and other people visited him at his Hilltop home for a special New Year service.

According to him, in justice and neglect lie the instigators of conflicts along with ethnic and regional lines in the country.

Obasanjo said it was part of his resolve for a just and fair country that informed his decision to work for a Southsouth President in 2009.

He said: “Irrespective of the thinking of the people ahead of 2019, I personally think that Southeast should have a go at the Presidency too.

“The same is happening here. If Ijebu and Egba have produced the governor, it is only fair and just to allow the Yewa or Ogun West to also produce a governor. Or else, one day, they will also stand up and take up arms against this injustice against them. That is my personally position on this.”
The former President cautioned Nigerians against unguided comments over Southern Kaduna crisis.

Obasanjo said unenlightened comments about the violence were largely responsible for the escalation of the situation.
He said: “My findings so far show that everyone is talking from the position of strength. People are not talking from knowledge of what they know. This is not helping. We must be able to dump all our sentiments to overcome the challenges.

“Just like other cases of injustice around us, we need peace. It is only peace with justice that can solve all these crises. Genuine peace is what everyone is craving for and this can only come when there is justice.”

Bishop Akinsanya described Obasanjo as a special gift to Nigeria and the world, considering his exploits and fatherly role in Nigeria and beyond.
The cleric hailed the former President for facilitating the building of Ecumenical Centre in Abuja, adding that the state chapter of CAN was working on a similar project in Ogun State.



Obasanjo canvasses Igbo President for Nigeria

Does Recession Truly Exists? – By Otolorin Olabode

Prices of goods have skyrocketed, companies are downsizing, We can’t afford to eat regularly, everyone is complaining. There is mass hunger in the land. This obviously is recession in the eyes of the poor.         On the other hand, let’s look at the analysis of recession by the rich. Owambe parties every Saturday, club outings on Friday, Regular online shopping orders, Lunch at upscale restaurants, frequent overseas trips, First class Air Tickets. finally, they acclaim “Recession is not affecting us”.


The two sides of a coin  they say don’t reflect the same outcome. Since, the Government made an official statement about recession in Nigeria, there has been agonizing tales of how Nigerians survive. From a woman stealing a pot of8 Amala to feed herself and her children to people killing Rats for meat. Many have had to subsidize their feeding regime by eating twice per day, while for others, it is a meal per day.


Even the Federal Government had to direct its ministers to fly Economy class when travelling by air. The rate of social vices have notched up higher with everyone seeking to use what they have to get what they want albeit through illegal means. The government has been emphasizing on the need to invest in Made-in-Nigeria goods and has made frantic moves to stop recession from scaling high by pumping money into the economy.


Nevertheless, there is a certain class of people in the society who despite the current recession continue to display their affluent wealth and we beg to ask “Is recession only affecting the poor?” Or is it not affecting the whole of Nigeria? In this case, the rich are not crying. Tales of how a popular senator bought a Rolls Royce worth 180million Naira still rings a bell in our head. Few days back, a Nigerian artiste bought a Mercedes worth 100million Naira.


However, it would have done the Nation enough good if we all can unite and help one another. one seem to wonder why in a 21st century country, there are beggars on the streets and highways. If Buhari and Osinbajo can take pay cuts in their salaries, what is stopping our greedy and self-centered senators from doing such. If Dangote and other rich people can donate to the poor, give scholarship awards to students and set up empowerment centers, what is stopping other so-called millionaires from treading the same path.


President Buhari, there is hunger in the land, the masses are suffering while the rich are enjoying, drinking the choicest wines from Spain, eating assorted meals, going on holiday trips and lavishing money on the latest expensive automobiles courtesy of the Nation’s treasury. President Buhari, the poor have the luxury of using rats as meat, eating an unbalanced diet,  getting sick everyday, the kids in the north are malnourished and one of your ministers is saying “Nigerians are not feeding well” . All is well with Nigeria.


Otolorin Olabode is a student of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. He is a Creative writer and also a seasoned content writer. He handles Latest9ja, a news and entertainment website.


He can be reached via Email: or through +2348064717949. He can also be followed on Instagram: @viewsfromthebod

Sorry, But My Country Is Ugly – By Okey Ndibe

What lofty and enduring dream could sprout in us when we have become accustomed to squalor, habituated to decrepitude, made our peace with detritus? What hope is there for us when we fetishise Dubai and flaunt our expensive Louis Vuitton handbags, and yet fail to realise that our country has become—is—an endless open toilet, overflowing with septic sludge?

I’ve known for a while that Nigeria was in a sorry shape, but not even that knowledge prepared me for a side of the country I saw when I arrived on January 3 for a ten-day visit. The last time I traveled by road from Lagos to my home state of Anambra was in 2002, when my wife and I were Fulbright fellows teaching in Nigeria for a year. On this recent visit, I had little choice but to go by road. Friends and relatives had warned me that flights from Lagos to Enugu were prone, at best, to interminable delays, and at worst to incessant cancellations owing to the harmattan. The best bet, I was told, was to make the trip by road. So my younger brother and I hired a Toyota Siena, one of the most popular vehicles in Nigeria for long commutes.

I’m willing to apologise for the bluntness of this assessment, but there’s no deodorising the reality: the ride was a nightmare. Before we set out, I had instructed the driver to take it easy. I made it clear that my brother and I were in no particular hurry, that what we sought, above all, was safe, cautious driving. The instructions fell on deaf ears.

In typical bravado, the driver told me he was not really a “driver.” He was married to a Togolese woman who lives in Belgium with their two boys. The Belgian authorities had deported him to Nigeria on account of some infraction he seemed in no haste to divulge. His wife was processing papers to enable him to rejoin his family, so he was, in the interim, just “managing” with the driving job.

Well, the short of it was he drove as if he were in an Indy 500 contest. It was all speed and all recklessness. He seemed to think any other driver who passed him—overtook him, as we say in Nigeria—were questioning his very manhood. And to reassert his manhood, he would give chase, create a veritable speeding derby, determined to reclaim the speeding title. I was awfully sleepy, but I knew that to fall asleep was to abandon my fate to this maniacal speedster. Countless times, I had to warn him—often by shouting at him—to slow down, and to refrain from cutting in front of his speeding adversary.

Yet, if our driver behaved like a crazed speeder, compared to many other drivers, his craziness seemed of a much milder variety.

Driving in Nigeria is an exercise in daredevilry. I hardly exaggerate here: the experience was akin to watching hundreds of clinically insane men and women who had been handed licenses and cars—and then unleashed on the road, empowered to suit themselves. To observe traffic in the country is to behold anarchy and chaos unfold before one’s eyes. Every sensible driving code is disdained, tossed aside. To describe the speeding as excessive is to equivocate; too many drivers seem on a mission to commit vehicular suicide and homicide. Many people assured me that the highways from Lagos to Anambra were now in excellent condition. I found patches of the road to be good, but the word that sums up the overall condition is: awful.

But drivers were the most potent, terrifying factor. Too many drove too close to the cars ahead of them, even though they couldn’t see what was in front—and vicious, tyre-wrecking potholes frequently ambushed cars.

I confirmed a sneaking suspicion: that Nigerian driving mirrors the country’s malaise, its pathology. At the slightest appearance of stalled traffic (say at the Lagos-Ibadan expressway), many Nigerian drivers responded in a counter-intuitive manner. If drivers acted with restraint by staying in line, everybody’s vehicle should be able to move on in ten or so minutes. Instead of which too many drivers attempted to out-maneuver others, to get ahead of everybody else. On a two-lane road, suddenly, to one’s amazement, four or five lanes would be formed. Often the ensuing gridlock would grind all movement to a halt, leaving everybody stuck for hours.

It reminded me of the disastrous price the country has paid for our politicians’ and bureaucratic elite’s depraved, boundless greed. That greed has sapped the country’s vitality, depleted its resources, left it a shell, and cast most of its people into abject impoverishment and forlorn resignation.

For me, traveling by road was a chastening, despair-inducing experience. One beheld Nigeria in its fulsome ugliness. The roadscape and landscape were marred, cheerless. From Lagos to Anambra, the roadside was a litter of plastic bottles, plastic wraps, discarded black plastic bags, orange rinds, banana peels, etc. No inch of space, from the journey’s beginning to its termination, was spared the plastic infestation. I had never encountered blight on this scale and in such unrelenting manner anywhere else in the world. But the assault wasn’t limited to the ubiquitous invasion of plastic. The carcasses of cars, trucks and tankers, many of them burnt, left the impression of battle zones—and compounded the eyesore. Numerous times I saw fast-moving fires burning up the roadside grass, shooting tiny sparks and plumes of vapour. The fires left their grotesque marks on the roadside, deepening the sense of gloom and ugliness.

Our driver said local hunters set most of the fires. The aim? To dislodge small game from holes and other hiding spots! What kind of country allows such backward practice, such mindless endangerment of the lives of commuters on highways plied by fuel-carrying tankers?

A common sight: people peeing or defecating beside the road or just a few feet off, openly. The picture struck me: we have been reduced, and have accepted our reduction, to animal-like status. We have allowed our political and bureaucratic thieftains to steal our humanity away, to strip us of what it means, at bottom, to possess human dignity, and to animalise us.

And how do we respond to this affront? We garland our dispossessors with flamboyant chieftaincy titles and festoon them with national honours. We reserve front seats for them in church and unctuously pledge to them—contemptible gluttons that they are—that we are fully loyal!

Each major town or city we passed exhibited a mini-mount of trash by the roadside. In no other place in the world had I seen trash so openly exhibited, as if it enhanced local character and burnished the country’s image. Indeed, it seemed as if different locations were proclaiming, with profane pride, “We’re a major (or up and coming) town, and we have the trash to prove it!”

Each mound of trash emitted a vile, dizzying stench. Yet, I saw bereft Nigerians who had scaled the bursting, steamy hills of waste, scavenging for some morsel of food to sup on, hunting for some tossed, varnished treasure.

I came out of Nigeria with a heavy heart, a certain sense of the gravity of our crises. Why is there no outcry about the blight, much less action? Where was the demand for an end to the conquest of the Nigerian space by “pure water” plastic?

What lofty and enduring dream could sprout in us when we have become accustomed to squalor, habituated to decrepitude, made our peace with detritus? What hope is there for us when we fetishise Dubai and flaunt our expensive Louis Vuitton handbags, and yet fail to realise that our country has become—is—an endless open toilet, overflowing with septic sludge?

Traveling by road, I saw Nigeria in a new way. The portrait, unflattering, left me deeply dispirited.

Please follow me on twitter @okeyndibe

MMM Nigeria sets withdrawal limit for participants

Operators of Mavrodi Moneybox Mundial (MMM) Nigeria have set a temporary fund withdrawal limit for its participants as the level of investment in the alleged Ponzi scheme dipped since its return from a one-month hiatus on January 13.

“Yes, there is a withdrawal limit for participants,” said an MMM guider who pleaded anonymity. “As of today, the limit is N31, 000. But that is subject to upward or downward review depending on the level of people who provide help (invest in the fund).”

Participants with the smallest funds would be given priority of withdrawing their funds, administrators of MMM Nigeria said when it resumed on January 13 without stating what constitute ‘small’ fund.

“The context of Nigeria’s economy cannot be separated from the scheme. It is not just that Nigeria’s economy is in a recession. The larger problem is a sense of hopelessness,” said Feyi Fawehinmi, a United Kingdom-based accountant and columnist with the Guardian.

“The middle class are escaping to Canada while poor Nigerians are crossing to Europe via Libya by the thousands practically every day. This is all the fertiliser that MMM needs to germinate and flourish in Nigeria and it is.”

A participant, Funmi Alabi, hoped the withdrawal limit would help restore participants’ confidence in the scheme and spur more inflow of funds.

“I’m a bit scared that I can’t get help (withdraw fund) the way I would have loved. But if the limit they set will ensure sanity in MMM community, I am okay with it. Hopefully, I can get my funds.”

Participants were prevented from withdrawing their funds from the scheme earlier in the week, but a person with knowledge of how the community works said participants were to be blamed for that.

“We know what is wrong,” Tobi Balogun said. “People wanted to play smart with the system, so GH (Get Help, which stands for withdrawal of fund) was hidden.

“Mavros [funds] grows every Tuesday and Thursday. Some participants would cancel mavros that they have already been allocated by Monday night so they can get more out of the system. That’s playing game on the system, and I believe that’s why the hidden GHed was implemented.”

These underhand tactics, Balogun confirmed, has created more panic in the system than ‘the media hysteria’ the operators of the scheme usually allude to.

Regardless of the fleeting gains participants derived from the Ponzi scheme, critics said the scheme does not present a way out of recession since it was not founded on any sound economic or investment principle.

China Pledges Additional $40 Billion Investment in Nigeria

The Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Wang Yi says his country is investing additional 40 billion dollars in Nigeria. Yi stated this at a bilateral meeting with his Nigerian counterpart, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama in Abuja. The minister said China had already invested up to the tune of  45 billion dollars in the Nigerian economy and was planning to invest more.


“Nigeria and China are strategic partners; our relations have been developing well; China has already invested or financed a total number of 22 billion-dollar projects here in Nigeria, another $23billion projects are on-going.


“In addition, we are also following up another over 40 billion dollars of investments, which is in the pipeline. Compare to the size, population and market of our two countries, our cooperation still have large potential to be deepened,” he said.


According to him, in order to achieve further development and prosperity of the two countries, we need to strengthen our political mutual trust, deep complementary between our developments.


Yi  said that there was the need to further expand practical cooperation and deepen strategic partnership between the two countries. He expressed confidence that his visit would be a successful one as well as play a dual role in further strengthening the strategic partnership between China and Nigeria.

On the rural-urban divide in Nigeria – By Emmanuel Akinwotu

The rural-urban divide is a challenge in Nigeria as it is in countries across the world. According to the World Bank, in 1960 85% of Nigerians lived in rural areas. Today less than 50% do.


Understandably, the narrative of rural areas does not easily feature in the national discourse which is overwhelmingly metropolitan. Rural areas are not the focus of governance and state institutions but are often ignored by it. The divide between rural and urban areas in Nigeria requires a greater focus from government for several reasons. But few more so than security. In rural areas insecurity, such as by the Boko Haram insurgency, is often less adequately addressed than in cities.


At the height of the Boko Haram insurgency, Yola was a fearful place. The militants, spreading down from Northern Adamawa, never managed to occupy it. But the threat of suicide bombings and explosions were constant. The militants may not have controlled Yola, but they changed it. According to locals, the market areas became more and more scarce. Attendance at schools dropped. As in many Northern cities, there was an apprehension about gathering in public places, a fear that it was an easy target for bombings, and they often were.


But those fears are now mostly behind it. A suicide attack in a market in Madagali in December, killing over 50 people, was a depressing but rare return of the kind of insecurity which in urban areas of Adamawa, had largely been absent for over a year. Yola however is a safe, peaceful and vibrant place. There is a strong military and police presence. It is close enough to insecure areas for people to be vigilant, but insulated enough for life to be relatively normal.


But in rural areas north of Yola, in villages and towns deep into the countryside, kilometres away from main roads, insecurity is a part of their lives. When Boko Haram occupied northern Adamawa in 2014-2015, their process of destroying and occupying villages and rural communities was deadly but not rushed. In Dabna, locals explained that the militants took their time, finding people who had hid in and around their homes, and killing them. They harvested the crops they could find and stole their cattle and produce. According to residents it took days before few soldiers arrived to the villages and when they did they were immediately pegged back.


The sense that the state government still isn’t really aware of the dangers they face in secluded, less accessible rural areas, is widespread. A vigilante group is now in charge of security. In the absence of Boko Haram in much of Adamawa they have still had to face threats from armed bandits and Fulani herdsmen. The vigilantes in several cases have not been able to protect residents from attacks but they have been a deterrent and are their only reliable defence.


The efforts of the vigilantes in helping protect these villages from Boko Haram and aggressive herdsmen has encouraged donations from local residents to help sustain them. According to locals, they also receive funding from the police who are aware of their inability to reach to these areas. The funding helped the vigilantes but vehicles helping them to respond quickly. Without the vigilante groups, their exposure to insecurity would be far worse. In Gombi, even the police admit that they rely on communities finding security solutions for themselves as they aren’t manned enough to always address them.


All across Nigeria the vulnerability of rural areas in comparison to urban areas is stark. The state’s inability to protect in rural areas should not be an accepted norm but a challenge that ought to be addressed. Much of the north-east relies heavily on agriculture based industry. In rural areas where education levels are lower, the reliance on farming is prevalent. In states like Adamawa, with rich, arable land, rural areas are a key part of the economy. That they can remain so vulnerable to attacks and so insufficiently protected is unacceptable.


The Shaping Davos event in Abuja tomorrow, as part of the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, will focus on how Nigerian policy makers can address the challenges that the urban rural divide presents. In addition to security, the event will focus on governance, education, health and infrastructure.
Rebuilding is evident throughout Yola. Many of the roads and buildings damaged by insecurity have been rebuilt.


There city is a peaceful, quietly bustling place. In many villages however, rebuilding of their schools, clinics and places of worship has been slow and difficult. Infrastructure spending scarcely reaches those areas, with the rebuilding reliant on help from NGOs.


The recession has placed even more strain on government spending. But the disconnect between urban and rural needs to be addressed if Nigeria, as a state, is to work for everyone.

How Nigeria Plans To Revive Its Railway Sector. – Rotimi Amaechi

The transport sector in Nigeria will soon be witnessing increased activities in the railways, following renewed collaboration between the federal government and foreign partners.

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, revealed that negotiations were at advanced stage with General Electric, an American multinational conglomerate and the China Exim Bank on the revival of the rail system.

Mr Amaechi told reporters shortly after he visited the dry inland port in Jos, the Plateau State capital, that work would commence on the narrow and standard rail line gauge across Nigeria as soon as the negotiations were concluded.

Rotimi Amaechi, Transport, Energy
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi

The minister, who was at the Heipang Inland Container Depot to inspect its facilities, was accompanied by officials of the Ministry of Transportation, the Nigerian Shippers Council, members of the Plateau State Executive Council as well as the concessionaire of the port.

Having inspected the site which borders the Yakubu Gowon Airport and a railway station, Mr Amaechi stressed the need to develop facilities in the inland dry ports on a tripartite arrangement involving the Federal Government, the host state government and the private investor.

In his response, Governor Simon Lalong assured the minister that Plateau State would contribute its part in the development and implementation of the project, with assurance that the project would receive urgent attention by his administration.

The Chairman, Plateau Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Bulus Daren, highlighted some of the advantages of the development.

He expressed optimism that apart from decongesting the seaports, the inland dry port would bring shipping services to the door steps of shippers across Nigeria, as well as assist in the overall costs of cargo to hinterland locations.

It is speculated that the Nigerian Shippers Council has been promoting and facilitating the establishment of inland container depots on the basis of public-private partnership with six approved locations in Aba, Ibadan, Jos, Kano, Funtua and Maiduguri to service the Nigerian populace.

Nigeria’s Improper Remembrance of its Armed Forces – By Halima Olajumoke Sogbesan

Our armed forces are immensely flawed. But if we must be honest, this is no befitting way of paying tribute for their enormous sacrifices. Our lives are not too busy for a minute or two of silence and reflection. And it should involve every one of us; young and old, male and female. This remembrance needs to happen in our classrooms, at our offices and in our homes.

The first time I heard about Nigeria’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, I was 20 years old. It was the second week of January and I was completing an internship at a non-governmental organisation when I noticed that my boss had an unfamiliar accessory pinned to his breast pocket. I concluded he was making a patriotic gesture by wearing it.

The accessory was just a little bigger than a plastic bottle cover. It was like a concentric circle with three layers. The outmost layer was wrapped with a golden lacy material, the middle a blood red colour, and the innermost layer had the Nigerian Coat of Arms, and a bleeding heart that stained the white of the Nigerian flag.

I asked no questions about the accessory. But my lesson came when he asked if I knew what “this thing” he had been wearing all week represented. I didn’t. He told me it was an emblem to commemorate the Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

Two years later, on Nov. 11, 2016, I am at a Remembrance Day ceremony in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, with thousands of other people. The weather is as cold as a refrigerator. The woman standing beside me occasionally breaks into a stationary march to keep warm. People without gloves blow warm air from their mouth into their palms and rub them together. We are at the National War Memorial waiting for the ceremony to start. The entire wait and ceremony lasts almost three hours. This is happening in 1400 communities across Canada.

The Royal Canadian Legion, a community service organisation that advocates for veterans, plans the ceremonies. School children, women and men, old and young, civilian and military personnel attend these ceremonies to pay tribute to those who have offered their lives in service of the country. The ceremonies are organised so Canadians will never forget the sacrifices these people have made and continue to make to keep them safe.

Nigeria’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day falls on January 15 annually. It was formerly marked on November 11, but the date was changed to commemorate the end of the Nigerian Civil War.

Unfortunately, on January 15, not everyone remembers.

Across the country, the Armed Forces Remembrance Day ceremony is a military and politicians’ affair. Most of the public – with the exception of those who follow the news – is oblivious. School children do not know because we have not emphasised the sacrifices of our armed forces in classes about civic education and history. There is also no public holiday that would force us to reflect on the significance of the day. On January 15, only public officers participate in a Remembrance Day ceremony that is not accessible to the public.

Children and even adults spend this day not remembering that thousands of soldiers are in the North-Eastern towns battling Boko Haram, making it possible for us to go to school and enjoy the company of friends without fear. Thousands more are on land and in our waters suppressing threats from people who frequently vow to make our country unsafe.

Many will not remember that these soldiers and military personnel, who are paid meagre salaries, face threats to their lives daily, but still continue to keep us safe and free. We do not remember those who have died serving our country, or the veterans who are now with us nursing injuries – physical and emotional – that were contracted on battlegrounds.

Our armed forces are immensely flawed. But if we must be honest, this is no befitting way of paying tribute for their enormous sacrifices. Our lives are not too busy for a minute or two of silence and reflection. And it should involve every one of us; young and old, male and female. This remembrance needs to happen in our classrooms, at our offices and in our homes. Because how do we remember if we never even think about the sacrifices of some of our country’s heroes?

Halima Olajumoke Sogbesan wrote from Ottawa, Canada.

Opinion: The First Coup – By Jibrin Ibrahim

At that time, the military had a good reputation. Following the publication of Samuel Huntington’s book “The Soldier and the State” in 1957, the political science establishment in the United States and Europe had been pushing the idea of the military as the most modern, disciplined and organised institution in Africa that could play the modernising role the Turkish military had played.

“Anybody who headed a military regime subverted the wishes of the people… We all subverted the wishes of the people.” – General Ibrahim Babangida (Tell magazine, 7/12/98)

Forty-three years ago, on the 15th of January 1966 to be precise, a certain Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu addressed Nigerians through Radio Kaduna announcing martial law and the takeover of power by the Supreme Council of the Revolution. Their aim, he said, was to “establish a strong, united and prosperous nation free of corruption and internal strife. Our method of achieving this is purely military”. By the end of the day, a significant part of the political class in the North and the West had been wiped out and the military had taken over the political system. In his column in Daily Times (3/2/1966), the late Tai Solarin blasted the civilian political class for destroying Nigerian politics through their twin evil practices of corruption and election rigging. He confidently boasted that “Now we have been saved – and we want to stay saved”. Today, we are all wiser and almost nobody believes the military can save any country.

At that time, the military had a good reputation. Following the publication of Samuel Huntington’s book The Soldier and the State in 1957, the political science establishment in the United States and Europe had been pushing the idea of the military as the most modern, disciplined and organised institution in Africa that could play the modernising role the Turkish military had played. Huntington, who died three weeks ago, was very influential in creating the ideological basis for supporting military rule.

They were presented as the African Cincinnatus. In Roman mythology, Cincinnatus was the model par excellence of human selfless service and civic consciousness. He had been invited by the representatives of the people in a period of national decay to carry out a fundamental civic responsibility – repair and reconstruct the decomposing political institutions and structures. Having brilliantly carried out his civic duty, he scorned the glory of power and the appeals for him to remain as ruler and left the scene.

In contrast to the mythical Roman hero, the soldiers in power in Nigeria were unwilling to relinquish power. In January 1966, General Aguiyi Ironsi declared that he was a temporary impartial arbiter accepting the responsibility of power only for the short time. He promised that his sojourn in power was necessary to reorganise the world of civilian politics, which would then take back the power that belongs to it.

Consistently, when military regimes were settling down as “natural rulers”, the Nigerian civil society had arisen, fought for the departure of the military to their barracks and insisted on a return to democracy. A certain form of political ethical code was thus imposed on the Nigerian military by civil society in the 1970s and 80s: That the military could organise occasional coup d’états for the resolution of acute political crisis, the reorganisation of structures and institutions and the organisation of elections, but they should not try to perpetuate their rule. That code has been broken, today; there can be no excuse for military rule.

The military, however, has ruled Nigeria for 28 out of the 49 years in which the country has existed as an independent entity and has impacted strongly on the country’s culture and institutions. As we reflect of the meaning of January 15th 1966 for our political system, it is clear to me that military rule ultimately impacts negatively on society by generalising its authoritarian values, which are in essence anti-social and destructive of politics. Politics in this sense is understood as the art of negotiating conflicts related to the exercise of power.

The military have succeeded in destroying Nigerian federalism, sacrificing it on the altar of over-centralisation. They are structurally incapable of running a federal system. Their unified command structure cannot accept a state government, which they consider to be hierarchically subordinate to the federal government, could have domains over which she is sovereign…

Military regimes have succeeded in permeating the civil society with their values – both the formal military values of centralisation and authoritarianism and the informal lumpen values associated with “barrack culture” and brutality that were derived from the colonial army. If today our political class are as crass, crude, violent and corrupt as they are, it is not unrelated to the fact that politicians have been acquiring a lot of “barrack culture” over the past three decades.

In Nigeria today, there is a decline in civility and a rise in violence in social interaction. In terms of governance, the most devastating impact of the military has been to spread the myth that they have a useful political role as an institution that could use its “monopoly” of force to prevent chaos. This is the context of General Babangida’s recent comments about the “good coup” in Guinea.

It will be recalled that since the Gowon era, the military regimes have used the “impending chaos” argument to postpone promised democratisation. The specific legacy from the military is therefore neither corruption nor authoritarianism, much as they took both to new heights. The military legacy is the fabrication of a political culture oriented towards the imposition of a command and control structure on the political process that is destroying the residual democratic values that have survived in the Nigerian society. This is the context that gives meaning to General Obasanjo’s declaration that the 2007 elections would be a do-or-die affair. That is the script Maurice Iwu used to organise massive fraud in the said elections. That is what Ogbulafor meant when he said the PDP would rule Nigeria for sixty years.

The Nigerian military, including retired officers, are today the major segment of the power elite. They are the richest people in the country and they occupy the summit of the most powerful organisations in the country’s polity and economy. It is not surprising that so many in the National Assembly have their background in the armed forces. The military, with its high concentration of corrupt and crass individuals, hedonists and putschists have wielded power for so long that they have become some of the most respected members of their communities.

The military have succeeded in destroying Nigerian federalism, sacrificing it on the altar of over-centralisation. They are structurally incapable of running a federal system. Their unified command structure cannot accept a state government, which they consider to be hierarchically subordinate to the federal government, could have domains over which she is sovereign, which as is generally recognised, is the essence of federalism. The current standoff between President Yar’Adua and Governor Jonah Jang is a reflection of this tradition. Following the coups in Mauritania and Guinea, the ideology of “good coup” is returning. We must remain vigilant.

‘Expect panic,’ MMM tells participants as it returns day ahead of schedule

MMM Nigeria, an alleged Ponzi scheme which down tools in mid-December 2016 has commenced operations, a day ahead of the January 14 earlier promised for the resumption of operations but warned participants that “panic will reign in the first few days.”

“The holidays are over, and we”re now open. Just as promised,” operators of MMM Nigeria said in a message sent to participants.

In spite of the expected panic in the scheme, MMM Nigeria said the system would pay its participants, though gradually.

“we’re going to make gradual paybacks by setting internal output limits. In other words, we will only pay a certain amount per day. Please, be prepared to wait for a couple of days. We are certain things will then calm down, and the System operation will return to normal.“As the System is socially oriented, we will make paybacks to the poor and the economically disadvantaged in the first place: it means to the members with small PH amounts.

“The richer can wait. Moreover, we’ve warned you repeatedly to only provide help with amounts that are not critical for you. Therefore, if these large amounts are not critical for them (the richer), they can wait a few days. No need to be tragic about it.”

The scheme closed shop in December 2016 for a month. In a message sent to all subscribers, it said it was freezing withdrawal of confirmed Mavros (funds) for one month, noting that the measure was put in place because “the System is experiencing heavy workload.”

Its operators insisted that the one-month closure was also partly occasioned by the “hysteria” created by the media and the government’s aversion for its popularity among Nigerians.

“By joining forces, they’ve managed to nearly give the members of the System a heart attack and have frightened them out of their wits. Poor souls don’t know what to expect,” MMM Nigeria said.

New rules for participants are expected to come into effect on January 14 to ensure its sustainability, the promoters explained.

“New model will address the issues of fake proof of payment and non-confirmation of order by recipients,” said MMM Nigeria.

“On the issue of fighting multiple accounts, the use of BVN was suggested which was unanimously rejected. Head of CRO, Mr Andrew attested that BVN can only be verified by Nigerian banks, so there is no way support can verify BVN.

BREAKING: Sergey Mavrodi’s Ponzi Scheme, MMM Is Finally Back.

Ponzi scheme, MMM Nigeria just announced their long awaited resumption a day earlier to their official resumption date via their official twitter handle.


The scheme officially tweeted their resumption with a caption “this is to officially inform you that MMM Nigeria is open for business a day earlier than promised! Let’s go there Nigerians!”


The popular financial scheme which announced its ‘freeze’ in mid-December 2016 assured its over three million subscribers to resume January 14, 2017 unexpectedly resumed a day earlier, January 13, 2017.


The scheme via its website apologized to its participants and cheered them with its popular slogan ‘together we can change the world’, assuring them to have no fear of expecting any emergency.


The founder furthermore pleaded with the authorities and mass media to leave attacking the scheme.


“I’d again like to call on the authorities and the mass media: please leave us alone! Have mercy on us.” He pleaded.


Read tweet below:

Presidency clarifies Nigeria’s relationship with Taiwan

A day after Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister said “Taiwan will stop enjoying any privileges (from Nigeria),” the presidency clarified Nigeria’s stance on the matter.

Geoffrey Onyeama had at a news conference on Wednesday said “Taiwan will stop enjoying any privileges because it is not a country that is recognised under international law and under the position we have taken internationally we recognise the people of China.”

“Taiwan will not have any diplomatic representation in Nigeria and also they will be moving to Lagos to the extent that they function as a trade mission with a skeletal staff,” the minister said.

In its reaction to media reports of the minister’s statement, the presidency on Thursday said Nigeria had not cut ties with Taiwan.

Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, in a statement in Abuja on Thursday said the correct position is that the official relationship between Nigeria and Taiwan has been at the level of trade representation and this has not changed from what it used to be.

“Taiwan Trade Office is Taiwan’s only representation in Nigeria and Nigeria’s Trade Office in Taipei is our only representation in Taiwan.

“Nigeria recognises and will sustain the “One China” policy and nothing has happened so far to change that level of relationship”, Mr. Shehu said.

8 months after, Nigeria reclaims spot as Africa’s largest oil producer.

After eight months, Nigeria has reclaimed its spot as Africa’s largest oil producer, edging out Angola by a few thousand barrels per day.

In March 2016, Angola overtook Nigeria as Africa’s  largest producer, with a production level of 1.782  million barrels per day, as Nigeria produced on 1.677 million bpd that month.

According to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) monthly oil report for December 2016, Nigeria pumped 1.782 million barrels per day while Angola produced 1.688 million barrels per day.

Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, had initially said Nigeria had hit 1.9 million barrels of oil in December 2016.

Nigeria however exported less crude to the Unites States than Angola did in the month under review.

“US imports of Angolan and Nigerian crude increased to 307,000 b/d and 303,000 b/d, respectively, by mid-November,” the report read.

Quoting a Stanbic IBTC report, OPEC said Nigeria’s private sector purchasing managers index (PMI) — an indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing sector — eased in November, 2016

“Following two consecutive quarters of contraction, the economy of Nigeria shrank by 2.3% y-o-y in 3Q16, according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics. The Stanbic IBTC Bank Nigeria PMI highlighted that contraction in the private sector eased somewhat in November on renewed growth of new orders received.”

With the recent OPEC oil output deal, which does not require a cut from Nigeria, shows that the country could ramp up production in 2017 to about 2 million barrels per day.

Nigeria move up one place to 50th in FIFA rankings

Super Eagles of Nigeria stepped up one spot in the latest grading released by the world football ruling body and are now seventh in Africa.


Nigeria are now ranked 50th, with 619 points, having placed 51st at the end of the 2016 FIFA grading.


With this, they are now seventh in Africa behind Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Congo DR.


Argentina are number one in the world with 1634 points, closely followed by cross-country rivals Brazil in number two.


Germany maintain its third position with Chile occupy the fourth position.

Taiwan protests Nigeria’s closure of its Abuja trade office

Taiwan protested Thursday after Nigeria asked it to shut down its trade office in the capital, in what it said was an attempt by Beijing to push it out of Africa’s largest economy.

The island’s foreign ministry said Nigeria had asked Taiwan to move its trade office out of the capital Abuja in a show of support for Beijing.

Chinese leaders see the self-ruling island as a renegade province which is still part of “one China”.

Ties have deteriorated since Beijing-sceptic president Tsai Ing-wen took the leadership in May and have worsened further in recent weeks since Tsai made a congratulatory call to United States President-elect Donald Trump and later transited through the US despite protests from Beijing.

The US is Taiwan’s most powerful ally and main arms supplier.

Taiwan says Beijing is leaning on other countries as a pressure tactic on Tsai.

“The foreign ministry protests and condemns Nigeria for collaborating with China’s political goal to engage in unreasonable, barbaric, rough and violent political manipulation,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The island’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), which handles relations with Beijing, expressed “strong dissatisfaction” over what it called an “unreasonable and provocative action”.

Beijing said Nigeria had taken the decision to ask the trade office to move out of Abuja, and to make sure its government had no official contact with Taiwan, in order to show its backing for the “one China” principle.

“The Nigerian government has made a political decision and taken tough measures on the Taiwan office’s violation of the ‘one China’ principle,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters.

Lu said the move had “cleared the political blocks in the way of bilateral relations” with Nigeria.

Nigeria has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Only 21 countries officially recognise the island as a sovereign state, with most nations instead recognising Beijing.

Nigeria pledged to “keep faith” with all its agreements with China in a government statement Thursday, without mentioning Taiwan.

For years, China and Taiwan were locked in a bitter diplomatic tug-of-war, luring away each other’s allies with generous financial packages in so-called “chequebook diplomacy”.

Diplomatic tussles between the two had eased under Taiwan’s previous Beijing-friendly government.

But since Tsai won elections in January last year, China has established relations with Taiwan’s former ally Gambia and the small African nation of Sao Tome and Principe.

“The things China has done are not helpful for improving cross-strait relations but rather harmful for improving ties,” Taiwan premier Lin Chuan told reporters Thursday when discussing the Nigeria row.

Beijing has also upped its military drills near the island since the Tsai-Trump call, with China’s only aircraft carrier moving through the Taiwan Strait earlier this week.

Lin said Taiwan had shown “good will” towards Beijing.

“We will not provoke and will not do things that are not expected,” he said.

Nigeria grants 335 foreigners citizenship

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday in Abuja approved Nigerian citizenship for 335 foreigners and rejected the applications of 165 others.

The Minister of Interior, Abudulrahman Dambazau, made this known at a joint State House Media briefing with the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, and the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina.

The briefing was held after the FEC meeting, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr. Dambazau explained that the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Nigerian citizenship received 500 applications and recommended 335 of the applicants for approval.

“The Ministry of Interior memo is on granting of citizenship to non-Nigerians, who applied.

“So we sit down to consider those applications. The last time this was done was in 2013. So we had some backlog of these applications.

“We have over 500 applications that we considered; out of these, 500 applications, 335 in total, were recommended for citizenship and this memo was brought to the council to that effect.

“Now the citizenship is either by naturalisation or by registration.

“There are 245 that applied for citizenship by naturalisation and the requirements to be met are clearly stated in section 26 of the constitution.

“Then there is citizenship by naturalisation and that is what is popularly known as Niger-wives, which is for women from foreign countries, who are married to Nigerian citizens.

“And that is also clearly spelt out in section 27 of the constitution.

“So, the requirements are there; we consider the requirements; those, who meet the requirement, we recommend, and the advisory council recommends and sends a memo to council for approval.

“So, today, the Council approved the recommendations of those who applied – 345 of them: 245 by naturalisation and 90 by registration.’’

The minister stated that all the successful applicants had complied with the sections 26 and 27 of the Nigerian constitution.

He said: “The moment any applicant doesn’t meet any of the requirement, check section 26 and 27 of the constitution, they are clearly stated there.

“If there are security issues, the security agencies will bring them out to say that a person belongs to a given group in-terms of security risk.

“But apart from that, we followed the rules and regulations, those constitutional requirements must be met.’’

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that in 2013 the Federal Government granted Nigerian citizenship to 174 foreigners while the applications of 27 persons were rejected.

Nigeria cuts diplomatic relations with Taiwan, closes Abuja office.

The Federal Government on Wednesday said it would no longer recognise Taiwan as a country but rather pledged support for One China.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, stated this while answering questions after a joint news conference with the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs in Abuja.

Mr. Onyeama said Nigeria had withdrawn all diplomatic relations with Taiwan as a country, adding that Taiwanese office in Abuja would be shut down and be relocated to Lagos.

According to him, Nigeria has communicated Taiwan and they are moving to Lagos as soon as possible.

“Taiwan will stop enjoying any privileges because it is not a country that is recognised under international law and under the position we have taken internationally we recognise the people of China.

“Taiwan will not have any diplomatic representation in Nigeria and also they will be moving to Lagos to the extent that they function as a trade mission with a skeletal staff.

“Chinese Government does not oppose trading with Taiwan as long as there is no formal contact with the Government that will suggest recognition of Taiwan as sovereign country,” he said.

According to him, China does not oppose relationship with Taiwan in the level of trade but not on government to government level.

The minister, however, said that Nigeria was not pressurised to take the decision, noting that the development was a bit of anormally on the side of Nigeria

He said Nigeria recognised the People’s Republic of China as country because Nigeria was one the leading African nations that fought for China to reclaim its seat at the UN Security Council from Taiwan.

He said the step being taken was to right the wrong that one could not specifically say how it came.

“It was not very clear how it got into Nigeria system – an arrangement for the Taiwan for a trade mission.

“And in grating the right of the trade mission it did not accurately reflect the nature of relationship between Nigeria and Taiwan,” he said.

Mr. Onyeama said the country took the decision to remove any iota of doubt in the mind of the Chinese people.

He said on the issue of building trust, the international community had embraced one China and China is a member of the United Nations and we don’t want to leave any doubt on the issue.

The minister stressed that Nigeria would adhere to it completely and there is no ambiguity at all.

He said Nigeria as a nation would do everything to realise the One China Policy as well as any effort that would promote the peace and well being of the People’s Republic of China.

According to Onyeama, China is one of the countries that have been in full support of reforms in the UN that would see Africa having two seats at the UN Security Council, as such deserved to be supported in her unification drive of One China.

HEALTH: The right tests at the right time can prevent cervical cancer – Nini Iyizoba

It’s a New Year again so let me start by wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy 2017. January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month and it’s only right to raise awareness about the disease; what it is, what causes it and how it can be prevented.

In Nigeria, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer-affecting women, second only to breast cancer. It is a disease in which cancerous cells form in the tissues of the cervix. To describe it in the simplest form, the cervix is part of the female reproductive system and is located between the vagina and the body of the uterus (womb).

Cervical cancer usually develops slowly over time. Before you can have cervical cancer, the normal cells of the cervix would usually go through stages where the normal cells slowly start changing to become abnormal. This is known as cervical dysplasia. Most times these abnormal cells would progress into cancerous cells to become cervical cancer. There are usually no signs or symptoms associated with cervical dysplasia or early cervical cancer. However, in its progressive stages of cervical cancer, the most common symptoms are pelvic pain and abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecological cancer to prevent. Most times a cancer diagnosis can be linked to family history and sadly, we can’t control that. However, some cancers such as cervical cancer are largely due to lifestyle choices and this, we can control. All women are at risk of developing cervical cancer but there is hope knowing that it can be prevented. Unfortunately, people largely underutilize preventive screening. This may be due to ignorance, lack of awareness or laziness. Whatever the case may be, it should not be so and women should learn to start taking their health more seriously. There are no early signs and symptoms, it can be only be prevented with regular screening tests. The two screening tests that help prevent Cervical Cancer are The Pap Test and HPV Test.

Pap smear is a test that can be done very quickly at the clinic. The doctor would insert a speculum into the vagina in order to be able to visualize the cervix and then uses a swab to scrape the cervix in order to get cervix cells that would be further examined in the lab. This procedure is minimally uncomfortable and it takes only a few minutes. Pap smear test looks for changes in the cells of cervix that are most likely to turn to cancer if left untreated. Pap smears are recommended once you turn 21 years and it’s done periodically till 65 years of age.

The second screening test is the HPV test. The collected cells during the Pap test will be tested for Human Papilloma Virus in the lab. This test is recommended for women over 30 years old. Both tests are recommended once in 3 years as long as your test results are normal.

All women are at risk of getting cervical cancer but certain factors may increase a woman’s risk.

The most important risk factor for cervical cancer is Human Papilloma Virus infection. HPV infection is usually spread through sexual activity with someone who has HPV infection. Women who are not sexually active have little or no chance of getting HPV and hence have little chance of getting cervical cancer. Likewise, being sexually active at a young age, usually less than 13 years, or having many sexually partners usually more than six sexual partners would increase your chances of cervical cancer because the risk of HPV infection is increased.

Secondly, women with lowered immune system have a higher chance of developing cervical cancer. These may include women that are infected with HIV, have a prolonged illness or prolonged use of corticosteroids. These people would have immune system deficiency and would be unable to prevent abnormal cells from turning into cancer cells. Smoking, including second hand exposure to cigarette smoking triples a woman’s chances of developing cervical cancer. It is advisable to quit smoking because it does a lot of harm to the body system as a whole.

Also, it is important to note that cervical cancer is more common among black women.
Other contributing factors for developing this cancer include being overweight or obese and lack of exercise. Therefore, proper balanced nutrition and frequent exercise is encouraged for optimal health and to reduce the chances of developing cervical cancer.

In addition, vaccines are available to protect against HPV infection and to help reduce risk of cervical cancer. These vaccines would not help those who have already been infected with HPV. It is best to administer the vaccine to young girls as from the age of 12 before sexual activity begins and before the exposure to HPV. HPV vaccination does not exempt women from routine Pap tests as the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.
Living with cancer is no joke! We are lucky enough that it takes about 10 years for cervical cancer to develop in the human body. With proper screening, we are able to detect it earlier on and stop it. Still, every year, there are half a million new cases of cervical cancer in Nigeria alone.

In Nigeria, women die everyday from cervical cancer. In fact, according to a recent data published by ICO information centre on HPV, it shows that in Nigeria about 9,000 women die yearly from cervical cancer. This is totally unacceptable, especially because routine screening that is easily done, and is relatively inexpensive can easily prevent cervical cancer. You can help spread awareness about cervical cancer by talking to your mother, sister, wife, friends and encourage them to get screened immediately.

Disclaimer: The medical information provided on here by Dr. Nini Iyizoba is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

The limits of 2017 optimism – By Chinaza Onuzo

While the shakeup at the Financial Reporting Council is the biggest surprise of 2017 so far, I must admit that the wave of optimism that seems to be everywhere is a close second. Considering the doom and gloom with which we ended 2016, I did not expect us to be on the sunny side of life this quickly. Those must have been some amazing crossover services that Nigerians went to. Who knows maybe all we need for 2017 to be better than 2016 is a rush of animal spirits. However, just in case more than that is required, let’s take a look at the things that need to go right for 2017 to be the year of restoration and be significantly better than 2016.

Everybody and their gateman know the first requirement for a better 2017. Oil prices need to remain above $55 per barrel for most of the year. Is it right that we are so dependent on the price of oil – probably not – but it is what it is. With the oil price currently hovering around $55, it is possible that this most fervent of wishes could be granted. However with the need for the OPEC cuts to hold, and shale to not be too disruptive, and robust global economic growth – it looks like a lot of things have to go right for the $55 to be sustained but we will continue to hope because we have no choice.

However it will not be good for all our prayers to work and then we will then fall our own hands. So we must ensure that we meet our budget target of 2.2 million barrels of oil daily average production. Since we’re currently at around 1.8 million barrels per day, we better hope that the work being done to engage the Niger Delta Avengers and the other militant groups will actually succeed.

Can you imagine us finally solving the Joint Venture funding issue, having the right oil price and finally being tripped up by inadequate production volumes? We will need to avoid such in 2017 if we are to meet our objectives.

In the event that both the oil price and our production volumes hold up the government revenues will increase and our state governments will be able to pay salaries again and the civil service which remains the engine of growth in a lot of the smaller states can help in restarting those economies. If those economies restart then some of the unrest that has plagued our country for the last twelve months may start to subside. And who knows maybe the Nigerian military can reduce the number of states they are active in from pretty much all of them to a more manageable number.

The optimists are even expecting that these increased revenues could mean that the federal government and the CBN may even be willing to do something the issues affecting the naira dollar exchange rate. In theory, the increased revenue will give the federal government and the CBN the ability to loosen the restraints on the naira. However given our historically pegging it is highly likely that doing so will lead to slight additional devaluation say to about N330 to N350. Given the focus on 2019 and the need to not rock the boat it’s safe to say that won’t happen. The optimists in this case are hoping that the revenue will increase enough for the CBN to unban the 41 items and be able to settle demand. Otherwise our optimism will wane and it will be very hard for the economy to return to robust levels of growth.

Another key limiting factor is power. After all it is hard to see the optimists being right if we do not have power. Well the Minister of Power has recently announced that the transmission grid can wheel 7,500MW. For our economy to be truly jumpstarted we need to see significant progress in transmission as a whole. For the last few years we have struggled to generate, transmit and distribute 4,000MW. We have even had moments when we’ve dropped below 1,000MW. What that means is that the system has been teetering for a while. The inability of the transmission company to increase the capacity of the grid has been one of the largest limiting factors. If the Minister’s proclamation holds, then it is possible the power sector companies may actually be in a better position in 2017.

It the power companies get more power, they are probably better able to pay their debts. If they are better able to pay their debts, the banking system is less under threat of bad loans. If the banking sector is less under threat of bad loans we are likely to escape an AMCON 2. If there is no AMCON 2 that means that no bank is in danger of failing and we are better off as a nation.

There you have it. The things that need to go right for 2017 to be significantly better than 2016. They don’t seem like a lot – oil price, oil production, security, foreign exchange, power. However the first is outside our general control, and the others require strong decisions from our federal and state governments. This is not to say that these things can’t happen, but it seems like a very thin reed to base all our 2017 hopes on.

I find that there’s an assumption that 2016 was a difficult year and therefore 2017 must be better by fire or by force.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee of this. The experiences of Venezuela and Zimbabwe tell us that things can continue to get worse if the right decisions are not taken. So, by all means be optimistic about 2017, however just remember that there needs to be action to turn the hopes for 2017 into reality.

Happy New Year!

China to invest additional $40 billion in Nigerian economy – Minister Wang Yi

China is investing additional $40 billion in Nigerian economy, its Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Wang Yi, said on Wednesday at a bilateral meeting with his Nigerian counterpart, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja.

The Minister said China has already invested up to the tune of $45 billion in the Nigerian economy.

“Nigeria and China are strategic partners; our relations have been developing well. China has already invested or financed a total number of $22billion projects here in Nigeria, another $23billion projects are on-going.

“In addition, we are also following up another over $40billion of investments which is in the pipeline.

“Compare with the size, population and market of our two countries, our cooperation still have large potential to be deepened,” he said.

According to him, in order to achieve further development and prosperity of the two countries, we need to strengthen our political mutual trust, deep complementary between our developments.

He stressed on the need to further expand practical cooperation and deepen strategic partnership between the two countries.

He expressed confidence that his visit would be a successful one and play a dual role in further strengthening the strategic partnership between China and Nigeria.

Yi said the purpose of his visit to Nigeria was to implement the important agreements and cooperation reached between the Chinese and Nigerian presidents.

He said the visit was also to help work closely with Nigeria to ensure that the outcome of the Forum for China Africa Cooperation summit are well implemented here in Nigeria.

Onyeama had earlier commended the existing relationship between Nigeria and China noting that the relationship had been strong for many years.

“I think the level of cooperation with China is extremely high and Chinese government is investing amount of money in Nigeria and probably is going up to $60 to $80 billion and we are extremely happy for that

He said that at the last meeting in South Africa and the government of China made available the total of $60 billon for Africa and a number of countries including Nigeria.

The Minister said that he would want to key in and see how much of that could be used to assist in the various projects that we have in this country.

He explained that President Muhammadu Buhari was in China in 2016 and had a discussion with Chinese Government on various cooperation.

“We know that in the area of infrastructure which is one of the priority areas and diversification the Programme of this government from oil .

“Chinese government has been showing a lot of cooperation with us in this area especially in the area of transportation,” he said

Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amaechi was part of the meeting.

Nigeria has to raise taxes to exit recession – PwC CEO

The Country Senior Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers Nigeria, Uyi Akpata, discusses the performance of the economy and government policies with IFE OGUNFUWA

What is your assessment of the Nigerian economy and the policies that have been introduced to keep it afloat?

I remain very optimistic because we can see that the government and the private sector appear to align in terms of where we think the real change needs to come from. It was very obvious from the beginning that we needed to stimulate the economy.

So discussions about loans are timely and if you look at that against the backdrop of a government that is preaching transparency, if we match those two together and we get those funds into real development, then we are on the path to economic recovery.

It is going to be challenging, as I tell my people internally, and we need to redouble our efforts to come out of recession.

What policies should be introduced to come out of recession?

I think the policies have been fairly consistent though the economy is telling us a different thing. From a very clear point of view, we are still quite dependent on foreign currency. Ultimately, if we reduce our dependence on that and drive economic development, things will turn around. We need to plough those funds into the real sector. One area I will like to see quick change is in encouraging the private sector.

All the loans that are coming in will help but it is going to be on the long term. The government should just target the policies around the ease of doing business. The foreign funds coming into Nigeria will be very significant. People will want to bring in such funds when they know they can get proper returns from them under a more stable environment.

What type of taxes should be reviewed?

It is like a catch-22 situation in which you say companies or businesses are doing badly and you are thinking of increasing taxes. The truth is that when we think about the ratio of taxes to Gross Domestic Product, Nigeria is one of the lowest. It means that there is a huge gap for us to explore. So, if there is anyone interested in real development in Nigeria, then we have to recognise that we have to raise the basis for taxes. That is one of the income and revenue streams that will see us out of these economic doldrums.

Is increased government spending capable of reducing the high inflation rate, which is currently at 18.48 per cent?

That will be in the short term. But if the government provides such funds and real development takes place, there is going to be a plateau at some time and obviously, we will be better for it. There are still challenging times ahead but I believe we have seen the worst of it, at least from the feelers around us. But we still have people who are just like ‘let’s just get round this curve.’

Everyone is anxious to see things happening. When we are dealing with the government from different areas, people are excited and saying they want to invest in entertainment, tourism, capital projects and infrastructure. Lagos State Government, for instance, is one of the clients we interact with.

People want to do business here because they see the potential. The opportunity in Europe is very limited. Africa still remains the destination but we just need to send the clear-cut signals that we are ready to support such investments.

How do you reconcile Nigeria’s continued dependence on crude oil with the measure to diversify the economy?

We survived on $30 oil price for a long time and $50 is an exciting price. I am happy with what people are saying about the issue of security because if we ramp up production to about 2.5 million barrels a day, the price will not be a factor provided we deal with issues related to OPEC membership.

A price of $50 with a production range of 2.5 million barrels a day is enough for us to stimulate the economy. At least, let’s learn our lessons from the past. Alternative sources will be a key way to go. Mining and, to a limited extent, cash crop agriculture may be medium to long term. But we cannot get rid of oil as it were because we need oil for us to expand and create other alternative sources of revenue.

It is just about reducing our foreign exchange exposure and looking at other sectors. They are many, like tourism. Some colleagues came from South Africa and decided to spend the weekend here for the first time. They said that the potential we have in terms of natural resources available for tourism was far superior to what they have in Cape Town. And when we look at it, maybe four million people visit Cape Town and here we have less than half a million coming into the country. There are different areas cutting across the country. It is just for us to improve security, infrastructure and power, then leave the rest and we will thrive.

What is your view on the nation’s growing foreign debt?

When you look at our population and the ratio in terms of our ability to repay these funds, we still have strong capacity to borrow. The most important thing with borrowing is that we should utilise it for value-added projects and infrastructure. And if you are doing it on the platform of a government that is seen to be more transparent, then our chances of leveraging those investments or getting absolute returns over a long period will be more possible.

Nigeria is an ongoing concern. You don’t look at Nigeria and say we need this in the next three to four years. We will be here in a hundred years; so we need those investments that are sustainable so that when people look at the country in 50-year time, they will see the giant strides because we made an investment of N30bn today. If you sit back and say we won’t invest in the real sector, that the money we put there will be detrimental to the people, then we are not building a sustainable economy.

How significant is the PwC alumni dinner?

This year is particularly symbolic because we just moved to a new office and it is an opportunity to tell our alumni family that we will continue to do those investments to sustain the PwC name itself as it relates to the quality of services and ethics in business conduct that we are noted for.


Source: PUNCH

READ: Why China continues to withhold $20b concession loan to Nigeria

Multiple negative growth recorded in the economy in 2016 has been identified as one of the reasons the Chinese government withheld a $20 billion concession loan earlier promised Nigeria upon due verification, The Guardian has learnt.

A top Presidency source privy to the development told The Guardian that the Federal Government had been hopeful that the Chinese government would release the loan last year, given the relationship between the two countries, but expressed disappointment that the money was withheld.

The action of China may well be an indication of the loss of confidence in Nigeria’s credit worthiness by the global financial community. Analysts have predicted that the current economic downturn would dent the country’s credit worthiness. The situation has increased the concern over Federal Government’s ability to borrow the $30billion for infrastructure development, which the National Assembly has refused to approve.

“We were very hopeful that we would secure that loan and other levels of assistance from the Chinese government. This is not to say we have given up though. We had set up an inter-ministerial committee working closely with the Chinese government officials as well as the China Exim Bank experts. They may have their reasons, but we are determined to fulfill our end of the bargain, and the Federal Government has already appropriated large sums for payment of counterpart funds on key projects to enable us to commence work proper,” the source said.

In 2015, China had, at a summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in Johannesburg, South Africa, pledged a $60 billion assistance to countries on the continent, including Nigeria, to develop and grow their infrastructure and human development capacities.

The move was not surprising as China had remained the continent’s top trade partner for six consecutive years.

The Chinese government said $35 billion had been set aside for concessionary loans, out of which about $10 billion was to go into the China -Africa Fund for Production Capacity. About $5 billion each was earmarked as non-interest grants for China-Africa Development Fund, and special loan schemes for the development of Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs) among qualified African countries. The funds were said to have been on ground for prompt disbursement.

The Federal Government had last year planned to raise a total of N2.2 trillion through external borrowings from China and other foreign finance institutions to fund the deficit in the 2016 budget, the implementation of which it said would continue till May 2017.

Unexpectedly, the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – which measures the market value of all final goods and services produced in a period, suffered a steady decline from quarter to quarter in 2016, sending negative signals to investors and lowering Nigeria’s credit worthiness in the international financial market.

Hopeful that the concession loan and other categories of financial assistance from China would be approved early, President Muhammadu Buhari led a delegation to Beijing in April last year to make a strong case for the country.

This was, however, not to be, as the Chinese government was advised by its economic experts who visited Nigeria for physical assessments to exercise caution, citing the shrinking economy and falling value of the naira.

They also alluded to high risks in diverting the loan to projects not specified in the agreement and requested a direct monitoring of the projects, in addition to the need for full compilation of all current trade agreements between the two countries till date, The Guardian learnt.

A team of experts from China Exim Bank had also expressed fear of possible mismanagement of the funds and requested an overhaul of some of the priority areas presented by the Federal Government for closer study on their viability and sustainability.

The Chinese financial experts, it was further learnt, expressed reservations about some areas the Federal Government was keen on investing the loan, saying they did not fall in line with the FOCAC vision.

However, a ministry official, who pleaded anonymity, in a text massage response to The Guardian, said: “All appropriate loan prospecting options by the Federal Ministry of Finance are on course, and are undergoing normal process of negotiation,” without giving further details.

The National Assembly has refused to approve the $30 billion worth of loans until the executive provides details of what they are meant for, even as there are speculations that the refusal was more political than economic as the executive had opposed the provision for constituency projects in the budget.

State Of The Nation: Full Text Of Speech By Pastor Tunde Bakare


Fellow citizens of our great country, we are gathered here again at the turn of the year, as has become customary, to take a timely look at our nation – to examine its social, economic and political landscapes, to test the solidity of its value pillars, to interrogate its spiritual foundations, and to envision its future. We do this, first of all, in keeping with the obligations of that high office, the Office of the Citizen1 , then as patriots and nation builders, and ultimately as watchmen who understand the times and know what the nations ought to do, having been commissioned by God to bring direction to Nigeria, our primary place of assignment.

This address, which I have titled “Looking into the Future 2 with the Eyes of Faith”, will begin with a brief overview of the year 2016 vis-à-vis the word we received, then I will discuss the centrality of vision to development, the inherent flaws in Nigeria’s structure, and sustainable solutions to our social, economic and political challenges.

A Review of the Year 2016

At the beginning of the year 2016, God gave us spiritual leverage to see into the year and understand the nature of the year. We had insights into the events that were to unfold in the nations. During our Watchnight Service and subsequently during a State of the Nation address on Sunday, April 3, 2016, I stood on this platform to unveil the year in the following words: The year 2016 is a year of global upheavals characterized by extreme uncertainties, intense political suspense, accelerated global terror, and mounting economic pressure due to dwindling resources that will drive nations to the precipice and activate the rage of the poor.

For the keen observer, barely had these declarations been made when the world began to see events unfold as revealed. Permit me to highlight a few of such occurrences that defined the year 2016 as unveiled. This prophecy-guided panoramic tour of the year has become necessary in order to remind our nation and other nations of the earth that God cannot be crowded out of history.

Extreme Uncertainties

The year 2016 turned out to be a year of miscalculations by pundits. From projected economic outputs to election results, forecasts and polls were met with shocking realities.

Intense Political Suspense

Similarly, the year 2016 saw the sudden rise of populist movements, the shaking of establishments, the defeat of incumbents, and victory for underdogs. Political outcomes in Britain, the United States, France, Italy, Gambia, Ghana, South Africa, to mention just a few, left the world in intense suspense.

Accelerated Global Terror

A June 2016 USA Today headline reads: “2016 already marred by nearly daily terror attacks”3 , while a December 2016 headline from the same newspaper describes 2016 as a “year of terror, war and political turbulence.”

From Burkina Faso to Cameroon, and from Brussels to the United States, to name but a few, the axis of terror widened, deepened and spread its tentacles of horror. Here in Nigeria, despite the laudable gains made against Boko Haram by the Buhari administration last year, the later part of 2016 saw a resurgence of attacks5 , one of which resulted in the killing of a great hero of the Nigerian army, Lt. Col. Muhammad Abu Ali, whose legendary courage had helped reclaim several Boko Haram held 4 territories. (May I please request that we observe one minute of silence in honour of Lt. Col. Abu Ali and all gallant soldiers who paid the ultimate price for our collective security, as well as fellow citizens who lost their lives.) May the good Lord comfort and strengthen the families left behind, and may the sacrifices of the departed not be in vain, in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.

Mounting Economic Pressures

Across the world, from Venezuela to Brazil, from Zimbabwe to South Africa, from Cameroon to Ethiopia, and from Argentina to South Korea, the rage of the marginalized and despondent poor was activated against governments perceived as unresponsive to the people. While protests manifested as occupation of streets and public places in some countries, in others such as the United States, Britain and Italy, the vote was used as an instrument of protest. While Turkey witnessed a shocking coup attempt against a long standing government, rage in Syria degenerated into one of the most disturbing devastations in recent human history.

Bringing it Home

In Nigeria, the rage of the poor became encapsulated in a cynical adaptation of a six-letter word that once represented the hope of the masses in the new government. To underscore this point, let me present scenarios you might be familiar with; scenarios that depict the real experiences of the Nigerian people.

A Nigerian woman, who we might refer to as Mama Bukky, living in Oko-Oba, one of the suburbs of Lagos, goes to the local market to purchase tomatoes. The previous week, five small-sized tomatoes had cost her N100. This time, however, she is told that the same number of tomatoes, roughly the same size, now costs N200.

Mama Bukky exclaims: “Ahn ahn, ki lo de? What is it? You dis market people wan kill us for this country?”

The trader, Mama Blessing, then replies: “Sey you no sabi wetin dey happen?” “Wetin dey happen?” asks Mama Bukky.

To this Mama Blessing responds: “Na change o.”

Before then, Baba Bukky, Mama Bukky’s husband, had gone to the electrical appliances store to purchase a new extension box to replace a damaged one. He had purchased the now damaged one at N500 two months ago. His frequent alternation from Ikeja Disco to his 1 KVA “ I-pass-my-neighbour” generator had sentenced the extension box to premature death by voltage surge.

The appliances dealer, Kelechi, tells him that the same extension box now goes for a thousand naira.

Baba Bukky is alarmed.  “How come?”, he asks.

“You no know?”, asks Kelechi.

“Tell me!”, Baba Bukky demands in surprise.

“Na change o. Na d change wey government promise us be that. You no see as dollar dey travel go space? Abi na naira wey no reach buy pure water we wan take do market with China?”, Kelechi responds sarcastically.

Baba Bukky continues inquisitively: “But government don make arrangement with China, make Nigerian traders fit exchange naira for China money.”

Kelechi responds, this time with fury: “Biko, leave matter for Matthias! No mind wetin government dey do; dem dey confused.”

From variations of ‘chanji’ to ‘shenji’, to the conflation of ‘change’ and ‘recession’, few, if any, have been immune to exclamations of discontent in the year 2016.

At a public event sometime last year, I pointed out to the nation that this exclamation now reverberates across the landscape – “from the importer who can’t access foreign exchange, to the manufacturer whose loan capital has been devalued by over a hundred percent; from the parent whose naira estimation of the cost of education for his ward has been overwhelmed by the cost of a dollar, to the  employee whose remuneration has become the victim of a downward spiraling purchasing power”; from the retrenched worker to the perennially unemployed; from the overburdened start-up entrepreneur to the weary investor.

It is unfortunate that what was once the rallying cry for progressive development has now become associated with retrogression and suffering. Nevertheless, the way forward is not so complex for those interested in genuine change. To begin with, the confusing and discriminatory multiple dollar to naira exchange rates – favourable to some and not so favourable to others, and without doubt confusing for potential investors – must be discarded while a more reliable and predictable exchange rate, mutually beneficial to our people and economy and attractive to foreign investors, should be put in place.

Similarly, prohibitive and punitive interest rates must be lowered in order to liberate the creative ingenuity of our people as well as encourage those who can access mortgages at affordable rates to become homeowners, especially if our Pension Scheme is up-to-date and robust.

The multiplier effect of the removal of these bottlenecks in our economy will cushion the effect of the current recession on our people. These are just two low hanging fruit solutions that demonstrate a commitment to turning the tide of decline.

Hopefully, as our foreign reserves increase steadily but surely as reported by the Central Bank of Nigeria on 8 Thursday, January 5, 20177 , these issues will be on the front burner of the apex bank. Propelled by love for our nation, motivated by deep concern for the sufferings of our people, and driven by a desire to see this government succeed, we come with additional propositions aimed at redeeming the Nigerian polity and economy in 2017, such that, years from now, generations yet unborn will point to this year as the turning point for the Nigerian nation.

Upon this premise, our quest for solutions must begin with an honest appraisal of where we are in readiness for where we desire to be.

The Current State of the Nation

On December 14, 2016, while acknowledging that every home and nearly every business in Nigeria is affected one way or the other by the present economic situation, President Muhammadu Buhari, presented the annual budget to a Joint Session of the National Assembly .

The budget was based on a Medium Term Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. I have heard concerned citizens attribute Nigeria’s current challenges to a lack of direction by the present administration.

I beg to disagree with this opinion no matter how widely held. Right from his inaugural address, President Buhari outlined a three-point policy thrust that included combating insecurity, tackling corruption and dealing with unemployment through diversification. It might be worthwhile to take a quick look at some of the indicators of commitment to this agenda.

First, on insecurity, Nigerian Security Tracker, a portal of the United States Council on Foreign Relations, which maps violence in Nigeria, reported a decline in deaths per month from violence perpetuated by a combination of state and non-state actors, including Boko Haram, from 767 deaths in May 2015 when this government came into power, to 250 deaths in December 2016, nineteen months into the administration.

As at April 2016, despite the acceleration of global terror, Boko Haram’s impact had been reduced from 22 attacks per month in 2015 to 9 per month in 2016. The group’s capacity had also diminished significantly from the control of 13 local governments just before the 2015 elections to a resort to suicide attacks by the turn of 2016.

Under this administration, 21 of the abducted Chibok girls were also released to their parents in October 2016, and, last Friday, Rakiya Abubakar, the latest rescued Chibok schoolgirl, was reunited with her parents in Abuja. To crown it all, at the tail end of 2016, Sambisa Forest was liberated and the Boko Haram flag was captured by our gallant soldiers. We pray for the safe return of all still in captivity, the continued protection of our soldiers, and the safety and rehabilitation of all internally displaced persons.

The government’s diversification efforts have also propelled increased attention to agriculture with the sector growing by 4.54% in the third 10 quarter of the year despite the 2.24% year on year reduction in growth rate. The third quarter also saw growth in non-oil sectors including fishing and crop production.

These are signs of a diversifying economy. Therefore, the assumption that the Buhari administration lacks direction is questionable. The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which aspires to a 7% growth rateand redirects budgeting and planning towards a made-in-Nigeria focus,16 is further indicative of the policy direction of the current administration.

On corruption, we have seen some progress in the anti-corruption war, with the relevant agencies recently extending the fight to elements within the judiciary suspected to have been major impediments to the successful prosecution of the war. Be that as it may, it is my considered opinion that we are still fighting corruption – our nation’s perennial archenemy – with kid gloves.

During the 2012 subsidy protest at Ojota Park, the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) adopted the slogan “Kill Corruption, not Nigerians.” It is very disheartening that allegations of corruption remain rife in our country, even against key office holders in the present government. Permit me to spend a few minutes discussing the menace of corruption in Nigeria. In my search for solutions to our ingrained corruption, I recently came across the Singapore Model of fighting and conquering corruption in a book by Jonathan Tepperman titled The Fix: How Nations Survive and Thrive in a World in Decline

From being dubbed “Sin-galore” after Independence in 1959, to being ranked the seventh least corrupt state in the world by a 2014 Transparency International report, Singapore’s upward trajectory provides a compelling contemporary case study (Tepperman 106-107).

Hear Tepperman: …Singapore’s bureaucrats, especially its police, were hopeless; a 1949 Colonial Office report referred to them as “an ill-clad, badly equipped and poorly disciplined rabble.” Things were so bad the year Singapore first became self-governing that, if you were unlucky enough to get hit by a car on its chaotic streets, you would have to pay off the ambulance crew before they would take you to a hospital. (Tepperman 107)

Yet, in spite of the pervasive corruption, Lee Kuan Yew took personal responsibility for stemming the tide of decay, focusing his campaign squarely on corruption which then, as in Nigeria now, was “part of their culture.” (Tepperman 108) As Nigerians know too well, winning an election is one thing; governance is another kettle of fish – but we cannot, in good conscience, continue to make excuses. Thirty-five year old Lee Kuan Yew not only won but was, in the same vein as this administration, immediately confronted with multi-faceted threats to Singapore’s stability, including severe under-development, widespread poverty and ethnic divisions.

In fact, Singapore had yet another key 12 disadvantage: very limited natural resources, unlike Nigeria (Tepperman 109-110).

Listen again to Tepperman:

Rather than lament these circumstances…Lee realized that they offered him…a tremendous opportunity. His breakthrough insight, which would lay the foundation for his country’s many eventual accomplishments, was that Singapore’s poverty of resources could be turned into an asset – by giving its leaders the freedom to think and act radically.

The one thing newly independent Singapore could offer, he reasoned, was good governance. Singapore needed to industrialize to survive, and that meant attracting lots of foreign investments. If Lee could enshrine the rule of law and what he called “First World standards of reliability and predictability” in a corner of the world utterly lacking in them, it might just give the city-state a comparative advantage – and a fighting chance.

I have been privileged to visit Singapore a number of times, so I am not just relying on hearsay or Tepperman’s testimony – I have been a witness. How did Lee Kuan Yew’s visionary leadership transform Singapore from a by-word to a gold standard? The lessons are myriad, and there are many stories one could refer to in highlighting Singapore’s success, but I will focus on three key insights:

  1. Lee Kuan Yew used what he inherited as a springboard to accomplish his aims: He used the existing Corrupt Services Investigation Bureau (CPIB) to launch a campaign “against bribery and graft, constructing one of the most effective and comprehensive anticorruption systems the world has ever seen”. (Tepperman 110). This he did by empowering the CPIB “to investigate, search, and arrest suspects all on its own, without having to rely on the country’s untrustworthy police.”;
  2. Where what he inherited was inadequate, he took responsibility for creating his own raw materials to override constraints, as all visionary leaders do. He introduced the Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA), roundly condemning the “giving of virtually anything of value…in exchange for any sort of benefit from the government.” In addition, “the law even criminalized bribe paying within the private sector cases where no government officials were involved.”; (Tepperman 111)
  3. Lee Kuan Yew demonstrated grit, single-mindedness, boldness and consistency in overcoming significant challenges, no matter whose ox was gored.

Hear Tepperman: To show how the bureau would work and to send message that, as Lee put it, “the disinfecting has to start from the top,” the 14 new government went after some high-profile targets, including a few of the prime minister’s close friends.

Furthermore, Lee Kuan Yew was “completely incorruptible, and chose people who were incorruptible, when they strayed, he came down hard and that became an internalized norm.”

I have shared Singapore’s story to illustrate that Nigeria does not have a peculiar problem that has not been solved before and also to state that we cannot continue to treat cancer with Panadol.

If we are fighting corruption, let us remove the kid gloves; if we are diversifying the economy, let us make tough choices; and if we are confronting insecurity, let us also address the systemic issues that make it possible in the first place. Hopefully, this Singapore Model can stimulate robust thinking, bold visions, dialogue and concrete action that will stop our national decline and save our Republic from becoming dystopian – a state in which the worst possible conditions exist in government, society and Law.

Vision Casting

With the background of Singapore’s success set, we must now critically examine our national goals under this administration in the context of the prophetic imperatives of national vision casting. To do this, let us visit the biblical locus classicus of vision casting, Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NKJV):

1 I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected.

2 Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.

3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.

4 “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith. Characteristics of a National Vision The foregoing experience of the prophet took place in the context of a nation that was plagued by violence, rebellion, plunder, corruption, disunity and disintegration manifest in strife and contention, the demise of the rule of law, the overwhelming preponderance of wicked 16 lieutenants around an otherwise righteous order, and the perversion of justice through judicial rascality. This we see in Habakkuk 1:1-4. It was against this backdrop that God dispensed to the prophet the characteristics of a national vision. In light of this, a national vision must possess the following qualities:

  1. It is given by God to those who are burdened with the destiny of their nation whether or not they are in government;
  2. To access the vision, such nation builders must heed the call to ascend above the perversity of their environment and rise to higher grounds of fortified value systems and greater heights of alertness;
  3. A national vision is crafted against the backdrop of an accurate definition and assessment of the problems and challenges plaguing the nation;
  4. However, it is bold and audacious to the extent that only the faith-inspired can conceive it;
  5. Due to the leveraged positioning of the recipient of vision, a true national vision is not only accurate, it is broad and panoramic, encompassing the varied dimensions of the landscape and capable of capturing in one full view the foundations, confrontations, agitations, transitions, expectations and aspirations of the diverse people groups in the nation;
  6. A national vision is documented, hence the admonition, “write the vision”;
  7. The essence of a national vision is kept plain and simple for all citizens to understand and imbibe;
  8. In the same vein, a national vision has a clear communication strategy that ensures that everyone “reads” it, which means everyone knows about it, and no one, not even the least enlightened, is left in the dark as to what the direction of the nation or its government is;
  9. A national vision must galvanize and inspire corresponding action among the citizenry, including individuals, families, communities, corporate organizations in both the private and public sectors, and the subnational entities, particularly the federating units and local governance structures, hence the admonition “…that he may run who reads it.”
  10. A national vision is time delineated; it must be long term, such that it is aspired to or waited for, yet it must be delineated into milestones which are worked at or run towards. Against this backdrop, the following verdict may be passed on us as a nation:
  11. This government has a direction in terms of goals and objectives that are mid to short term; these are encapsulated in Medium Term Expenditure Frameworks and annual appropriation bills or budgets. However, as a nation, we still lack a true national vision;
  12. Despite our previous attempts at national planning19 – from the era of Fixed Term Planning to the era of Rolling Plans, all through to the various governmental agendas including Vision 2020 – the signs of the absence of a true national vision are so glaring that one would conclude that the prophet Habakkuk was talking about Nigeria in the first four verses of Habbakuk 1;
  13. The biggest indicator of the absence of a national vision or rallying point is the preponderance of sectional agitations – from the clamour for self-determination by the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) and the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) in the South West, to the push for secession by the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) in the South East, from the terror unleashed by Boko Haram in the North East, to the ugly developments involving the Shiites in the North West, from the violent attacks by herdsmen in parts of the North West, especially the wanton destruction of lives and properties in Southern Kaduna, and in the North Central from 19 where it has spread down to the South, to the militant quest for resource control by the Niger Delta Avengers in the South South, there is no restraint to the degree of balkanization that awaits a nation that lacks a unifying national vision;
  14. Currently, we have a government that is led by a man who desires the best for Nigeria and is doing what he deems best, given the quality of his lieutenants, that is, the people surrounding him, and the reliability and accuracy of the information at his disposal;
  15. For a relatively long time, perhaps understandably due to the quagmire it met on ground, but also due to insufficient coordination of strategies, the government failed to effectively communicate its direction as encapsulated in the “Change” agenda. As I once said at an event last year, the word “Change” or one of its colloquial variants might as well have been adopted as a memorable acronym and rallying point for a true national vision20. Instead, due to the communication gaps, the word is now associated with unpleasant experiences by Nigerians;
  16. Again, due to the communication gaps and poor mobilization, there has been insufficient corresponding action 20 by non-state stakeholders, in particular, the private sector – the engine room of economic growth;
  17. After a slow start characterized by series of policy somersaults, the current government has created laudable medium term plans for socioeconomic growth and recovery. However, it is yet to demonstrate the audacity and courage required to address the foundations of the Nigerian problem, a critical factor that will determine the success or failure of the government and its plans at the end of the day. That factor is the restructuring of our nation.

The Fundamental Flaw in our Federal System

The hues and cries for restructuring in our nation appear not to have been well received by this present government. The inquisitive may ask: “Why must we restructure?” We must restructure to correct the flaws in our federal system.

A federated state is defined as “a territorial and constitutional community forming part of a federal union21.”

In a true federal system, previously sovereign states agree to confer their individual sovereignties on a central government. In other words, the states create the federal government, as was the case with the original thirteen American colonies. This was also the case when the Nigerian federal system was originally conceived by our founding fathers.

Prior to the coming of the colonialists, sovereignty was domiciled in empires, 21 kingdoms, city-states and republican villages. It was, however, taken over by the colonialists at which point it resided in the British Crown.

At Independence, as negotiations for the framework of a new sovereign entity took place, sovereignty had taken another geopolitical form – regional. It was these regional units that had agreed to federate at the London Conference which led to the Lyttletton Constitution of 1954.

Our founding fathers agreed that Nigeria would be “a truly federal state with limited and specific powers allocated to the federal government and residual powers inherent in the regional governments.”

This agreement was the social contract upon which the Nigerian state was formed, but this social contract was broken on May 24, 1966 through the Unification Decree by Gen. J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi’s administration. That was the day Nigeria died. Five decades later, in spite of the reversal of the Unification Decree by Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s administration resulting in the division of Nigeria into twelve states, this deviation from the landmarks set by the fathers is a crucial reason for our disjointed nationhood and the perennial socioeconomic decay. It is why efforts at economic diversification by government after government, including the present government, have failed to yield the expected results. It is what has led to the infrastructural decay. It is why we run bloated governments that hitherto spend over 70% of annual budgets on recurrent expenditure.

The Imperatives of Restructuring

To understand why we must restructure, let us take a quick look, for example, at the administration of education in Nigeria. At Independence, the entire Northern Region, which comprised the current nineteen northern states, had one Ministry of Education headed by one Minister. The entire Western Region, which comprised the current six states in the South West and roughly two states in the South South, had one Ministry of Education headed by one Minister. The entire Eastern Region which comprised roughly five states in the current South East and four states in the current South South had one Ministry of Education with one Minister.

Therefore, there were only three Ministries of Education headed by three Ministers in the entire country and they were responsible for the rapid educational advancement that took place in that era as the regions competed through such policies as free education to achieve socioeconomic development.

Today, we have thirty-six Ministries and thirty-six Commissioners for Education which, together with the Federal Ministry of Education, consume a huge chunk of the limited education budget through recurrent expenditure. This is a very huge drainpipe in our economy. It ranks pari-passu with the cancer of corruption in hampering our growth and development as a nation. Imagine how much we could save with six efficient and effective ministries in education and other relevant socioeconomic sectors in six geopolitical zones.

Restructuring Made Easy

For those who still question the need for restructuring, I have for you a simple analogy that may cause you to have a rethink. For sixteen years, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was the governing party in Nigeria. For about twelve years, as individual parties, the so-called opposition parties tried unsuccessfully to wrest power from the PDP. In 2003, the Action Congress (AC), dominant in the South West, the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP), dominant in parts of the North, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), dominant in the South East, presented individual candidates for federal elections, particularly the presidential elections, and were overwhelmed by the PDP. The same scenario played out in 2007 despite the change in name by the Action Congress to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). In 2011, three parties, ACN, ANPP and a new party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), once again individually took on the PDP and were beaten as before by the power of incumbency.

However, in 2015, following the merger of these major opposition parties to form the All Progressives Congress (APC), the PDP was finally defeated and today, we have an APC-led government in power. Fellow Nigerians, this is a prime example of leveraging on relative strengths. As with those small preceding political parties, our 36 states, most of which generate insignificant internal revenue, are not viable enough to overcome our economic challenges and facilitate accelerated economic growth.

These thirty-six states, overwhelmingly sustained by 24 allocations from Abuja, cannot guarantee functional infrastructure such as world class roads, railways, airports, housing and urban development. These thirty-six states, largely unable to pay workers’ salaries, cannot guarantee standard educational and healthcare systems, or facilitate rural development.

These thirty-six states should, in fact, become districts headed by Mayors within the framework of six geopolitical zones, because they will be stronger and more productive within a zonal structure. As zonal structures, they can pool resources to build transportation infrastructure; as zonal structures, they will empower local governments to bring effective governance directly to the people. As zonal structures, they will efficiently coordinate socioeconomic policies for the benefit of every Nigerian – every Nigerian like Mama Blessing, whose petty trading business will be expanded and transformed by vibrant regional agricultural and transportation policies; every Nigerian like Mazi Kelechi, whose electronics business can have a globally competitive made-in-Nigeria supply from regionally backed industrial clusters; every Nigerian now just selling suya who can build a whole range of businesses around hides and skins sourced from regionally coordinated ranching systems; every Nigerian like Baba Bukky, who will no longer rely on generating sets for power supply due to regional coordination of multimodal resources for efficient power generation, transmission and distribution.

The Search for a Well-Structured State On the question of how restructuring will be done, let me state that we have had engagements with this government, as well as with the preceding administration under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in which strategies and documents were put forward towards restructuring. One of these proposals called for a Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring guided by, among other frameworks, the 2014 National Conference.

I do not have the time to delve into the specifics of that Commission in this address, but I must state that I am inclined to a zonally structured governance system due to the reasons I earlier alluded to.

However, in the spirit of trustful give and take, let all the proposals be brought to the table. Inasmuch as it is in the interest of our nation, whatever governmental structure results from the process, a people deserve the right to determine the structural and functional parameters of governance in their nation. Let the Nigerian people decide. From the United Kingdom’s European Union membership referendum, to the constitutional plebiscite in Italy, we have seen examples of how this is done.

The notion that the Nigerian nation is non-negotiable will remain contested through agitations, until we summon enough courage to put it to the test, and prove, through the outcome, that we are indeed prepared to become a truly united nation. 26 Conclusion During the presentation of the 2017 budget, President Muhammadu Buhari rightly observed that the current economic situation also provides a climate of great opportunity24.

Truly, in the words of Allan K. Chalmers, “crises refine life. In them we discover who we are”, and, as declared by Jawharlal Nehru: “Crises and deadlocks have one advantage: they force us to think.” AND THINK WE MUST! As individual citizens, we must be accurately positioned to harness these opportunities. Prayer has its place but God will not come down to solve problems He has already equipped us to solve. He is looking for patriots who will become responsible for their families, for their communities, for their organizations, for their nation, for the continent and for the world. He calls everyone, irrespective of religious, ethnic, gender or other distinctions, and such people of destiny must receive God’s visions for their environment, articulate and communicate those visions plainly and galvanize others to run along with them, knowing that the Giver of vision is the God of All Sufficiency who will make provision for the vision.

For us at The Latter Rain Assembly, we have accepted responsibility for our nation and that is why we do what we do. As watchmen over our nation, we are propelled by our God-given vision of the New Nigeria, a nation on a journey to oneness and greatness; a journey the nation of 27 Israel embarked upon. Israel began as twelve tribes and then transited to two kingdoms, the Kingdom of the North and the Kingdom of the South. Eventually, the two kingdoms became one nation with David as king over them.

In like manner, we seek Nigeria’s transition from 36 states to 6 geopolitical zones that will become harbingers of a united nation led by patriotic and selfless leaders. The current government, under President Muhammadu Buhari, has the opportunity to provide such leadership by being at the forefront of the quest for change. Guided by the indicators of good governance in a well structured state, and propelled by a true unifying national vision, Mr. President and his team must summon the courage to make hard choices, especially the choice to restructure and the choice to embrace the necessary self-sacrifice that precedes economic recovery. May 29 this year will mark two full years of this administration in government. We have no more time to waste. Mr. President must galvanize his team to get the job done; square pegs in round holes must be removed or put in appropriate places; the wicked who surround the righteous must be led away from the presence of the king.

Those who cannot stand the heat must get out of the kitchen. It is time to demonstrate leadership, wise judgment and astute public policy that guarantees stable and prosperous nationhood upon a foundation of peace; it is time to build a well-ordered nation with strong institutions dispensing justice; it is time to arise with patriotic zeal to build a great nation such that, years from now, generations yet unborn will look back at their history, not with disdain, but with gratitude to God that our generation preceded theirs.

May 2017 be the year we look into the future with the eyes of faith and take steps to accomplish all that we know is possible.

Thank you for listening; God bless you, and God bless Nigeria.

Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare Serving Overseer, The Latter Rain Assembly; Convener, Save Nigeria Group (SNG)

Nigeria Targets 2.6 million Barrels Per Day Refining Capacity

Nigeria may be on the path to becoming self-sufficient in the production of petroleum products, as the Federal Government expects to increase the country’s refining capacity from 445,000 barrels per day to 2.62 million barrels per day.

To achieve this, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), has granted licences to 22 private firms to establish refineries, which are expected to produce 1.97 million barrels per day in the short, medium and long period.

If these refineries come on stream, the country is expected to save over $15 billion yearly from the importation of petroleum products, create jobs and meet the needs of industrial firms, which depend on by-products from refineries.

Already, nine companies have submitted bids for co-location of new refineries within the complexes of Nigeria’s three existing refineries in Kaduna, Warri and Port Harcourt, which are expected to increase the nation’s refining capacity from 445,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 650,000bpd.DPR, in its yearly report on the oil and gas sector stated that the Federal Government hoped to achieve 50 per cent domestic refining capacity by 2020, through a combined policy of deregulation and rehabilitation of aging plants.

According to the agency, in line with this aspiration, DPR has already granted 25 Licenses to Establish (LTE) and five Approvals to Construct (ATC) refineries in Nigeria to qualified companies.

It stated that one of the 25 LTE holders, Dangote Oil Refinery Company (DORC) has progressed the refinery development project to the equipment fabrication stage.

DPR said that the DORC project is due to be commissioned in 2018 and would add 500,000 BPSD to the domestic refining capacity.

The agency stated: “The modular refinery model is now emerging as a credible solution to the dismal share of domestic refineries. The model is gaining credence due to its comparatively lower establishment and running costs. Compared to bigger refinery projects, the modular solution appeals more to the marginal upstream producers desiring maximisation of assets value through local refining of produced oil.

“So far, DPR has issued 22 LTE and three ATC, respectively for modular Refineries projects. The projects have cumulative potentials to boost the domestic refinery capacity by more than 671,000BPSD on completion.”

The DPR noted that Nigerian refineries are plagued with peculiar domestic challenges and are not able to produce at sub-optimal levels partly due to the increasingly aging plants.

It added that incessant disruption of crude oil and product pipelines have posed further challenges to operations.

DPR said that there is a yawning gap between domestic demand and output from the domestic refineries, clearly underscores the need for proactive policies to bridge the gaps.

The agency noted that the continued low domestic refining capacity especially poses a peculiar policy challenge, in view of expanding local market for petroleum products.

According to the DPR, growing the domestic refining capacity would reduce the dependence on foreign products, boost local content, generate new jobs and develop requisite competencies in the ancillary sectors. “It would also free the foreign exchange market from undue demand pressures of petroleum products imports,” it added.

The agency said the future of the domestic refinery sector would be greatly improved through policy consistency, secured crude oil supplies and improved infrastructure. “Government is committed to tackling all the associated challenges facing the effective development of the domestic refinery sub-sector by promoting the business-friendly environment that is capable of driving the growth that will ensure the emergence of Nigeria as a refining hub in Africa,” it added.

The Director-General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf urged the Federal Government to liberalise the downstream petroleum sector for unfettered private sector participation and investment, while ensuring that the refineries are operated as commercial business entities.He said the approach should be subjected to appropriate regulatory framework that defines the role of NNPC, while a model that would allow for a level playing field for all operators including the NNPC should be adopted.

“We have concerns over lack of clarity on the deregulation and liberalization of the sector. This policy lacuna has put many investments in the sector at risk; while many other investment decisions have been put on hold.

Xenophobia: We don’t want Nigerians in our country – South Africans

Following the brutal murder of a Nigerian resident in South Africa by the police on suspicion of being a drug peddler, some of the country’s citizens have come out in support of its police, saying they do not want Nigerians in their country.
Despite the fact that Nigeria was at the forefront of fighting for the liberation of South Africa from its apartheid masters, the citizens think that Nigerians should be sent packing because they are criminals, drug barons, armed robbers and kidnappers.

Taking to the social media after the murder of Victor Tochukwu Nnadi by the SA police, some South Africans believe Nigerians are not wanted in their country.

One Lucki Lucky wrote this:

“What was he doing in SA? Nigerians must get out of South Africa. These criminals are hated and unwanted here and that will NEVER change.

Nigerians are the seed of Satan. There is not going to be any kind of friendship between Nigerians and South Africans. Will Nigerians ever put it in the tiny skulls that South Africans hate them?

Anyway, which nation in the world like Nigerians? Nigerians are hated all over the world. In China, they slit their throats and in Brazil, they cut their stomachs open and leave them for dead.

We don’t need Africans, Middle Easterns and Asians in the country.”

Dube Mtulenga wrote:

“Why can’t Nigerians stay back in their country? I wonder what they want in South Africa. Many of them come into our country illegally and are often the perpetrators of crimes like robbery, rape, gang fighting, drug trafficking, among others in our communities.

If it takes killing them all one after the other, so be it. We don’t want them polluting our land. They should go back to their stupid country.”

Karen Rethabile also wrote:

“In my own opinion, very few South Africans love Nigerians and they know this very well. They come into our country, steal our money, sell drugs to our people, corrupt our young men and treat our women as prostitutes.

We don’t want them and they should go back to their corruption-infested country.”

Sibuso Kunene wrote:

“Nigerians are thieving, conniving bastards and should not even be allowed to enter South Africa. All they know is sell drugs, rape, kidnap and rob us while our policemen are not helping matters at all.

More of the idiots should be killed to send a message to them that they are not welcome here.”

For how long will Nigerians be disrespected, maimed, killed and insulted by their South African hosts while the government back home sits comfortably doing nothing? This is the big question that needs answers immediately.

One Thing We Must Do in 2017 – By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

Long before the 2015 election, I met a Facebook friend, Emeka Nwokeocha, in New York City.  It was at a time when former President Jonathan was complaining that he was the most criticized president in the world. I told Emeka to wait until the next president comes into office and the criticism would increase many folds. I said that because I knew that the fundamentals of the economy were faulty. Warnings were coming from Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala about the need for diversification and savings. I knew from studies upon studies that said a chunk of our earnings were lost to corruption and the rest were used to pay top government officials.  That lifestyle was unsustainable. Then, I didn’t know the next president would be Buhari.

I explained to Emeka that whoever would be the next president would confront a different band of citizenry. It was before Reuben Abati called Jonathan’s critics “children of anger.” And well before Femi Adesina called Buhari’s critics, “wailing wailers.” What I explained to Emeka was that everyday information technology expands and reaches more and more people. What it means is that in this era of social media, everyone is a reporter, a critic and a publisher. And whatever they produce will join the huge information superhighway. It may not clog the highway, but it will surely change the prevailing order. And that is exactly what happened. People have hunkered down around their preferred echo chambers and from there regurgitate the sermons and the doctrines of their team leaders.

Another thing I told Emeka was that, just like those Democrats who did not appreciate what Republicans did to Bill Clinton during the impeachment period took their anger on George W. Bush, so would those who did not appreciate what the opposition party, APC, did to Jonathan would turn around and take their anger on the new president. It is the way of the world.

What I left out in the conversation was that every president would have an opportunity to withhold or provide his opponents the ammunition they would use to attack him. George W. Bush did that when he went to war in Iraq and the American economy collapsed under him. Obama did that when he rammed through Obamacare in Congress without a single Republican vote. Jonathan did that with his inability to tackle the security situation of the country and take control of the runaway corruption. Buhari did that with his haphazard and antique approach to biting economic decline and his poor grasp of what it takes to handle the complexities of a modern nation.

By May 29, 2017, it would have been two years of Buhari’s government. By then the characteristics of his administration would have solidified. He is slow to act. He is sequestered within the confines of his comfort zone, which is limiting and ineffective in today’s world. He is stubborn in his own ways and doesn’t reach out for new ideas and new blood around him. He has trust issues and in his bubble he has surrounded himself with people he trusts who turn around to take advantage of him to embrace the same maladies that he preaches against. By May 29, no matter how clear his successes are, the excuses for his failures would have become embarrassing. His critics would then be repeating the chorus.

And then what?

The people who are so incensed about the Buhari government are the very people who are doing the least to prepare for his replacement. When you ask them of the alternative, they say anyone but him. If you press, they mention Abubakar Atiku. If Atiku is the answer, then you are answering the wrong question. There was a time when El Rufai was on the list of possible candidates who would make Nigeria great. But his sins as FCT minister, his refusal to publicly declare his assets and live above board and his actions and inactions as governor of Kaduna state has greatly diminished his light. He has since dropped off the list despite his legions of social media supporters. Like most politicians addicted to instant gratification, he “used the first part of his life to destroy the last.”  Beyond the usual names, there are people in Nigeria with the right pedigree and integrity to lead the nation come 2019, but nobody is organizing around them. The only people organizing are the same people who brought Nigeria to where it is today.

I have searched for an expression that would capture what I am feeling about the dilemma of our nation. I found it in the latest edition of the journal, “Philosophy and Public Affairs”. It is called “moral grandstanding.” That is the reason it is difficult for anything sensible to happen in Nigeria’s political arena.

Every side has this unshakable feeling that they are divinely right while others are mortally wrong. George W. Bush captured it years after he left office when he noted that, “Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions.” For most of us, there are worst examples only in other groups. But if you see worst examples in other groups, it follows that there are worst examples in your group. And when we judge our group, we do not see the worst examples. We only see our intentions. We intentionally avoid looking at the actions of our group for fear that we may have worst examples lurking. When the worst examples in our group are pointed out to us, we rationalize it. We blame learned behavior, desperation due to gross unfairness or we blame the devil.

The way to make Nigeria great is for us all to first come down from our high moral stool. There are good people in every group. That is why the country is still standing on bended knees if I must add. Until we accept that fact, we cannot begin to imagine how to build the country together.  If we don’t accept that premise, if we are satisfied with generalizing and moralizing, we would be dissipating energy without getting any work done.

If I did not believe that the ideals of Nigeria have not been tried and found wanting, I would not have had any hope and stayed engaged. I believe that the ideals have been found difficult and left let untried. In such situation, we default to the easy position, which is to desecrate and demean. It is convenient. It absolves us of any guilt.

We have lived dangerously for too long. That we have not imploded does not mean that we have eternity to get it right. There will be no renewal if there is no reconciliation. Laziness leaves all possibilities under the radar unimagined. But the reality is an expert in upending fantasy. We make choices daily. Sometimes we make a choice from which we can never turn back.

Should we waste the next two years barking at the dogs or should we do something to get the dogs on leash and back into the house? Should we keep crying that the rain is beating us or should we get a cocoyam leaf and cover our head? The only way we do not have power over what our leaders do is by telling ourselves that we do not have power over what our leaders do. The power to bark can influence things, but we can always do more. The one thing we must not fail to do this New Year is to begin to do things to get the kind of leaders we want in 2019. If we don’t, we have no right to complain when the people who care choose the leaders for us.


Happy New Year!

James Ibori and a nation united by corruption – By Chido Onumah

One of the highlights of the year that has just ended was the release from a British jail of one of Nigeria’s most notorious politically exposed persons (PEPs), James Onanefe Ibori. Ibori’s rap sheet is as long as the 338km East-West Road in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, but the reason for his latest freedom was the conviction and sentencing—13 years in prison—by a Southwark Crown Court in April 2012 after he pleaded guilty to a 10-count charge of money laundering, corruption and conspiracy to defraud.

Of course, it wasn’t Ibori’s release that dominated the news, as newsy as his expected release was. Rather, it was his triumphant return to the warm embrace of his kinsmen, supporters and well-wishers. James Onanefe Ibori or James Onanefe Ochuko Ibori, depending on if you are appearing before the Supreme Court of Nigeria, is an enigma. He was governor of Delta State from 1999-2007. He and his bosom friend, Bukola Saraki, Nigeria’s current senate president, bankrolled the political machine that led to the emergence of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as president in 2007. And if not for providence—the death of Yar’Adua in May 2010—Ibori, who up until then was the de facto vice president of Nigeria, would have succeeded Yar’Adua.

Yar’Adua died and Nigeria dodged a bullet or so we thought! Ibori was subsequently jailed in 2012, two years after he was arrested—and extradited to the UK—by the Interpol in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where he was hiding after fleeing Nigeria. Even in prison, he maintained his godfather role and from the public admission of one of his surrogates played a key role not only in the emergence of high-ranking public officers in Delta State but the leadership of the National Assembly. For the trajectory of the Ibori saga and persona, readers will find this piece, “The welcome party for Ibori” by Simon Kolawole, instructive.

Depending on where you come from, perhaps your political affiliation and how much you benefitted from the Ibori heist in Delta State, either directly or through a third party or even tangentially as a hanger-on, the celebratory Mass held in honour of Ibori’s release from prison, though detestable, was quite understandable. After all, there is an Ibori in many of us. There are countless Iboris in the National Assembly, criminals making laws and posing as “distinguished senators” and “honourable members”. There are Ibori’s in various government houses across the country; scoundrels posing as executive governors. There are Iboris in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Customs, Immigration, Prisons, Police, our universities and sundry public institutions where those who have been kept in charge of what Peter Ekeh in his seminal essay, “Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement”, referred to as “civic public” conveniently and unconscionably steal from it and divert their loot to the “primordial public”.

That is the sorry state of Nigeria. And it explains the Ibori conundrum. According to Ekeh, “A good citizen of the primordial public gives out and asks for nothing in return; a lucky citizen of the civic public gains from the civic public but enjoys escaping giving anything in return whenever he can. But such a lucky man would not be a good man were he to channel all his lucky gains to his private purse. He will only continue to be a good man if he channels part of the largesse from the civic public to the primordial public. That is the logic of the dialectics. The unwritten law of the dialectics is that it is legitimate to rob the civic public in order to strengthen the primordial public.”

So, just as it is often the case where one person’s freedom fighter is another person’s militant, as a people, Nigerians seem not to be in agreement on what constitutes corruption or who a corrupt person is. What one Nigerian sees as corruption, another sees it as “blessing from God”, their own opportunity or “turn to eat”. The national cake is there for the taking. The state has abdicated its responsibilities—roads, water, school, health, sanitation, etc—and instinctively we have learned to “manage” by helping ourselves to as much as the national pottage, in the “civic public”, as we can lay our hands on.

Take the ongoing spat between the current Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and his predecessor, Solomon Arase, who has been accused of making away with over 20 police vehicles when he retired in June 2016. Arase didn’t deny carting away police vehicles. He is just piqued that when it was his “turn to eat”, the police authorities suddenly became amnesic. To show his righteous anger on an issue that has caused public discomfiture, Mr. Arase’s reminded the all-righteous police authorities that there is nothing new in Inspectors General of Police making away with enough vehicles to open a car shop when they retire.

“I expect that former occupants of the office of the Inspector-General of Police should not be demeaned. This explains why Force Order 295 was emplaced by the force management under my leadership as acknowledged in your letter in reference,” Arase wrote to his predecessor in his defence. “In spite of the emplacement of this order and despite the fact that my two immediate predecessors left office with 13 and nine vehicles of different makes and models respectively, I never pressurised either of them to return any of such vehicles neither did I engage in any act that was capable of bringing them to ridicule as being done to me of late by a force I dedicated my life to serving up to the highest level.”

Clearly, pubic office in Nigeria is simply a sinecure and you would be eternally excoriated by your kinsmen and associates for not taking advantage of a life-changing opportunity.  As someone once reminded me, public office in Nigeria is like climbing a mighty tree with lots of fruit. Once you climb, you are required to get as much as you can because you may not have a second chance. So, we are all, ceaselessly, engaged in the race of getting a nibble at the cake. To appreciate the Ibori phenomenon, you must understand Nigeria. Here, the best private schools, including universities, are owned by those whose responsibility has included how to make our public schools functional. It is the same story for the health, transport, and indeed, every sector of the Nigerian society.

It is as if Nigerians, wherever we find ourselves in the “civic public”, are in a race for a medal on how best to pillage the country. The “Villa Repair Heist”, as someone has described it, provides a fitting example of this brazen larceny that is called public service in Nigeria. The 2016 budget for repairs and rehabilitation of Nigeria’s Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, was N642.5 million.

By 2017, the budget had shot up to N5.6 billion. “Was the Villa hit by a bomb or earthquake unbeknownst to us citizens?” “Was there a war akin to Aleppo in the place?” one commentator asked. No, there wasn’t. It is simply “their time to eat.” In the same budget, there is a provision of N2.3billion for the Defence Headquarters to clear backlog of electricity bills that is budgeted for every year.

In July 2012, I was part of an audience at Chatham House, London, where an ex-governor of Niger State and Chair of the Northern States Governors Forum, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, was guest speaker. Dr. Aliyu spoke on “Nigeria’s Unity and Regional Socio-Political Groups: Influence and Impact of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF).” He noted that “corruption was the single unifying factor of the elite in Nigeria and that the way to deal with it was to reduce the focus on the centre.” Aliyu is right in many ways. But it is not just the elite. It is about Nigeria.

Today, if someone is robbed, we no longer get jolted. The refrain will be, “Thank God he is alive.” “We praise God the robbers took his possession and spared his life.” “God bless those robbers.” It is the same response you get when kidnappers strike. We no longer bother to interrogate armed robbery, kidnapping and other vices that have become part of our national ethos.

The celebration of Ibori’s return from prison, therefore, provides an opportunity to interrogate what Nigeria means to us as Nigerians. The problem is not really with Ibori or those who have elected to celebrate him. The problem is with Nigeria, a place where allegiance is to the “primordial public”, where rulers live in mansions and religious centres luxuriate in splendor while public schools and hospitals wallow is squalor.

Onumah is the author of We Are All Biafrans. Contact him on; Follow him on Twitter: @conumah

BBC Africa: Nigeria ‘plastic’ rice scandal: What is going on?

Nigeria’s government has denied reports that “plastic rice” was being sold in the country, days after the customs service said 2.5 tonnes of the contraband had been confiscated.

Health Minister Isaac Adewole tweeted that tests by the food safety agency found “no evidence” of plastic material.

Lagos customs chief Haruna Mamudu said on Wednesday the fake rice was intended to be sold during the festive season.

Rice is Nigeria’s staple food.

Mr Mamudu has not commented on the health minister’s statement.

It is not clear where the 102 seized sacks of rice came from but rice made from plastic pellets was found in China last year.

Mr Adewole said the agency would “release detailed findings to public as soon as it concludes investigations”, urging Nigerians to remain calm.

The BBC’s Stephanie Hegarty in Lagos says the results are to be released next week.

Mr Mamudu had said the rice was very sticky after it was boiled and “only God knows what would have happened” if people ate it.

The BBC’s Martin Patience in Lagos, who felt the rice, said it looked real but had a faint chemical odour.

The Lagos customs chief had called on “economic saboteurs who see yuletide season as a peak period for their nefarious acts to desist from such illegal” business activity.

Is the rice still on sale in the markets?

We haven’t heard any reports that the rice is still on sale in markets. Customs officials were investigating but as of now have found nothing.

Nigeria’s custom officials say they seized a total of 102 sacks, each containing 25kg (55lb), branded “Best Tomato Rice”.

It is, however, unclear how many bags had been sold, if at all, and if there are other forms of contraband in the market.

Has anyone eaten it?

We haven’t heard of any members of the public eating it.

Customs officials cooked the rice and said that the texture was very gummy and it smelled odd, they refused to eat it.

When asked the same question on Twitter, Health Minister Isaac Adewole joked that no, he wouldn’t eat it without salt.

An unverified video of the rice being cooked has been shared on social media.

In it the cook says the rice catches fire and sticks on the pan.

How worried are Nigerians?

Very worried. There have been several media reports warning the public about fake foodstuffs especially from China and their potential dangers.

Speaking to the BBC’s World Have Your Say programme Ibrahim, from Kano State, said selling fake rice was wickedness of the highest order.

How could there be such a disagreement between the customs service and health ministry?

Customs officials did say that they were awaiting tests by Nafdac, the food standard agency, before they could confirm what the rice was made of.

They suggested they would accept the results of those tests.

However, a customs agent did tell the BBC that he doubted that Nafdac had tested the same sample that his colleagues had cooked.

He insisted that the texture of the rice was like nothing he had seen before.

It is possible that this is a different type of rice that they weren’t familiar with.

It is also possible that the Ministry of Health is making an effort to avoid public hysteria in the run-up to Christmas.

Whatever the results announced next week, the BBC’s Stephanie Hegharty says many people will question them.

Retrospect: How a thief (James Ibori) almost became Nigeria President – By Andrew Walker

The story of how James Ibori went from convicted thief in London in the 1990s, to become governor of a wealthy oil-producing Nigerian state and then to a British prison is a remarkable one.

It is the story of a wily political operator, backing the right political horses and shifting allegiances when expedient.

Given slightly different circumstances, according to one observer, it could have seen Ibori in the presidential villa rather than a British jail cell.

Ibori’s defence in the face of allegations had always been that he had a successful business career and had made money independent of government.

But in 1991, he was working in a hardware store in the London suburb of Neasden.

The prosecution in this trial told a judge he was earning around £15,000 ($24,000) a year.

He was caught by his employer allowing his wife to walk through the till he was manning without paying for goods.

They both pleaded guilty at Isleworth Crown Court and were fined.

In 1992, he was convicted for possession of a stolen credit card, which had £1,000 spent on it, and was again fined in a UK court.

‘Murky business’

Ibori then returned to Nigeria intending to become a political operator. The country was about to be tipped into a tumultuous period.

Military leader Ibrahim Babangida had scheduled elections to return Nigeria to democracy in June 1993.

James Ibori: The story so far

Ibori worked for the governorship campaign of a friend.

The experience gave him good connections with the parties that would eventually merge to form the People’s Democratic Party, currently ruling Nigeria.

The 1993 elections were cancelled by Mr Babangida. Later that year, Gen Sani Abacha staged a coup, cementing the military’s grip on power for another five years.

According to Antony Goldman, who worked as a journalist in Nigeria for many years and has followed Ibori’s career closely, this is when Ibori made his first shift of political master, offering his services to Abacha.

“He had an unspecified role in security,” Mr Goldman said. “That could be anything, it was a very murky business.”

Abacha was accused of murdering political opponents and ruthlessly crushing dissent and pro-democracy movements.

In the mid-1990s, Ibori was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in the US about how he came into the possession of millions of dollars that he transferred to accounts in the US.

The FBI suspected the money came from advance fee fraud, the infamous Nigerian 419 scam, but he was able to prove the money came from his work with Abacha, Mr Goldman said.

Abacha died in 1998 and Ibori switched horses again, attaching himself to influential northern politician Atiku Abubakar, who went on to become vice-president.

Medically impossible

In 1999, Ibori took out a mortgage on a property in Abbey Road, London.

To do that, he got a new passport with a false birth date to mask his previous convictions.

The birth date he chose was in fact medically impossible as it was only a month after his sister’s birthday, the prosecution told the court.

Ibori was installed as the governor of the oil-rich Delta State in the 1999 elections.

In order to take office in Nigeria, he had to swear an affidavit that he had no convictions. To do this, he used the same birth date he had made up to acquire his mortgage.

It was this evidence that would, in a London court 14 years later, spell the end for Ibori.

Soon after he became governor, Ibori paid off the Abbey Road mortgage in cash.

He went on to buy three other properties in the UK. He paid £2.2 million in cash for a house in the plush London suburb of Hampstead.

‘Bankrolled election’

In 2005 the Metropolitan Police began to take an interest in Ibori after they came across a purchase order for a private jet, made through his solicitor in London.

It was just after this that Ibori shifted horses again, switching his allegiance from Mr Abubakar to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo.

In 2006, President Obasanjo recruited Ibori to help him force through a change in the constitution to allow him to run for a third term as president.

When that plan failed, Ibori promised his allegiance to Mr Obasanjo’s anointed successor, Umaru Yar’Adua.

At the ruling party’s pre-election convention in 2006, Ibori was on hand to lift up the northern governor’s hands in a display of victory – hours before delegates from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) voted to select him as their candidate.

Ibori is then accused of bankrolling the 2007 Yar’Adua election campaign, although this has been denied.

Mr Goldman says he understands Ibori was promised the vice-president’s job, in return for his support.

But Mr Yar’Adua, who had been ill for many years, died in office.

His Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan succeeded him and remains Nigeria’s president.

Despite being a fellow former governor of a neighbouring oil state, Ibori and Mr Jonathan were by now political enemies.

In 2010, President Jonathan set the country’s anti-corruption police, the Economic and Financial Crimes commission on him, but their officers were ambushed when they came to arrest him.

Ibori left Nigeria shortly afterwards.

He went to Dubai, whose government arrested him and transferred him to the UK to face trial.

Mr Goldman says had Yar’Adua lived, and made Ibori his vice-president, he would have had a clear run to become president.

“Then Mr Ibori would have met Queen Elizabeth at the state house, instead of serving at her pleasure,” Mr Goldman said.

Nigeria At 51st On FIFA Ranking

Nigeria’s senior national team, the Super Eagles has dropped a place to 51st in the latest FIFA world ranking released yesterday by the world football governing body.

The Super Eagles gathered a total of 616 points to fall to number eight in Africa. However, the one spot dropped has also moved Nigeria to the eighth place in Africa.

Senegal ended this year as the highest ranked African national team, edging Cup of Nations title holders the Ivory Coast for top spot in the December listings.

Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Morocco complete the top 10 compiled by FIFA.

All the countries, except Nigeria will be among the 16 challengers for the Cup of Nations title when Gabon stages the 2017 tournament between January 14 and February 5.

Another four qualified teams – Mali, Cameroon, giantkillers Guinea-Bissau and Uganda are among the top 20 ranked teams.

Gabon-bound Togo and Zimbabwe and the host nation fall outside the elite, but should not be underestimated when the biennial African Cup kicks off in Libreville.

On the global scene, Argentina has ended the year on top of the world, leading the way in the final ranking of 2016 with neighbours Brazil in second place.

There were also no movements inside or into the top 10.

The next FIFA world ranking will be published on Thursday 12 January 2017.

Credit: dailytrust

No Plastic Rice In Nigeria- Minister

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has dismissed claims by the Nigria Customs Service (NCS) that there is plastic rice in Nigeria.

On December 21, 2016, Customs said it intercepted 102 bags of plastic rice branded “Beat Tomato Rice’’ with no manufacture date.

Yesterday, the minister laid to rest claims about the presence of plastic rice in Nigeria.

For some weeks, reports in social media claimed plastic rice had allegedly been imported massively into the country.

In two tweets, yesterday, through his twitter handle; @IsaacFAdewole, the Health minister said preliminary tests and results proved no rice in the country was plastic.

He noted that some of the impounded rice, when cooked, had “normal odour,” “normal colour” and was “off white.”

He added that the Director General of the National Agency for Food, Drugs, Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Oluremi Oni had also informed him that there is no such rice in Nigeria.

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Nigeria still cheapest country to buy cement in Africa – BUA

Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of BUA Group, Abdul Samad Rabiu has said that in spite of over 40 per cent recent rise in the price of cement in Nigeria, the country still retains the most affordable pricing for the commodity in Africa. Cement Cement He stated while speaking fielding questions from newsmen in Abuja.
“In August this year, the price of cement per 50kg of cement bag rose by more than 40 per cent from N1,400 to N2,350 and has since hovered between N2,200 and N2,300,” he said. According to him, the price remains the most competitive when compared to other countries in Africa.
He also noted that he does not foresee any possibilities of price reduction in the near future. “If you look at the price of cement today, vis-a-vis the price cement is selling in other countries, even in Africa, in terms of dollars, you would see that the price of cement in Nigeria today is probably the cheapest.
The price we are selling today translates to less than $100 per tonne. I do not believe that you can see a $100 for cement anywhere in Africa today. So, the price is not expensive, it is very competitive compared to what other countries are selling but again you would not see it because it is priced in Naira.
“Also if you look at the price regime from five years ago to what we have today, you would see that the price of cement is more or less cheaper than what it was then. So I do not believe that it would be realistic to say that there will be any price reduction for now.
What we should be hoping for is to say that there is not going to be price increase. We are working very hard to ensure we maintain the price that we have. “Although we have to be realistic that there are lots of inputs that may necessitate price increase but it will not be much.
We are quite aware that Nigerians are suffering because the economy is not at its best, the challenges are there but again if you have an outfit you have to ensure that you survive,” he said.

Ibori’s associates kick over his inability to return to Nigeria till next year

Although James Ibori, former governor of Delta state, has been released from prison in the UK, he is not likely to return to the country until January.

He was released on Tuesday, having agreed to be deported after serving half of his 13-year prison sentence.

But Amber Rudd, the home secretary, does not intend to deport Ibori to Nigeria until he hands over £18 million of “proceeds of crime”, according to reports.

A high court judge said attempts to detain him were “quite extraordinary.”

Ordering Ibori to be immediately freed from prison, May said: “You don’t hold someone just because it is convenient to do so and without plans to deport them.”

A home office application that Ibori be electronically tagged and subjected to strict curfew conditions was also rejected.

The judge accepted arguments that the home secretary was attempting to misuse her immigration and deportation powers.

On Wednesday, the home office’s barrister said the government was concerned that Ibori might “frustrate confiscation proceedings” and wanted him kept in jail or subjected to strict controls on his movement.

Tony Eluemunor, media aide to Ibori, accused some unnamed top people in the UK of trying to stop his release.

In a statement on Wednesday, Eluemunor said instead of releasing Ibori on December 20, British home office wanted him to be detained on the grounds that his confiscation hearing had not been concluded.

“The apparent decision to block Ibori’s release and detain him appears to have come from the highest echelons of the UK government – the Home Secretary who was accused in today’s hearing of acting unlawfully and misusing her powers,” the statement read.

“In a curious move, the British Home Office, instead of releasing Ibori on December 20, informed him that he would be detained on the grounds that his confiscation hearing had not been concluded.

“In court, Ibori’s lawyers exposed the injustice in the indefinite detention the Home Office had planned for Ibori.  They told the Judge that there were no grounds in law under which Ibori could be detained and that his detention for one day by the Home office was unlawful.”

He said Sian Davies, the prosecution lawyer did not object to Ibori’s release and his return to Nigeria but at the last minute the Home Office stepped in.

“There is clear discord between the two arms of the British government,” he said.

“The visibly irritated judge could not understand the Home Secretary’s position and at times was critical of the move to detain Ibori any further.  Mrs Justice May rejected the home secretary’s requests for conditions to be imposed and ordered Ibori’s immediate release.

“Ibori and others have long maintained that this prosecution was politically motivated. It was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, DFID.”

The conviction of Ibori followed a government anti-corruption campaign led by DfID 10 years ago.

Oghara, the hometown of the famous politician, has been agog over his release.

A source close to Ibori, who remained a political aforce in Delta throughout his years of travail, said it was not comprehensible whether Ibori would fly to Nigeria.

Ibori ruled Delta from 1999 to 2007. He was one of the most influential governors during his time and he established a political dynasty that produced his successor, Emmanuel Uduaghan and the incumbent Ifeanyi Okowa.

Despite the legal entanglements and the prospect of Ibori taking his case to the court of appeal, the mood among his kinsmen and politicians in the state, especially Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faithful is that he should return.

Oghara is wearing a new look with banners bearing pictures of the ex-governor strategically displayed at different roundabouts within the town.

Associates and loyalists are also catching up on the event to pledge their loyalty to Ibori as they adorn the banners with their pictures side by side the former governor.

Some of the banners, which were placed at the Market Roundabout, Ibori Roundabout and entrance of Oghara, have inscriptions such as: ‘Welcome back home, our national leader’, ‘The political messiah and his kinsmen’, ‘The resource control living legend’,  and ‘His ordeal, God’s plan to fortify him’.

Former DESOPADEC commissioner representing Ethiope West, Sapele and Okpe, Henry Ofa, told Vanguard: “Without trying to be immodest, the world knows that there is great expectation in Oghara.

“Since he left, there had been lots of misgivings and backwardness in the area in the hope that when he arrives, so many things would change positively.”

“We are prepared to follow him and we are convinced that he is going to lead us to the Promised Land.”

“We have the belief that there is a plan for him by God,” Ofa, a key loyalist said.

Experts express worry over ‘plastic rice’ imported into Nigeria

Agro-business experts have expressed worries over the seizure of 102 bags of plastic rice by officials of the Nigerian Customs on Monday.

In separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES, the experts enjoined the government to ensure that security is beefed up in the nation’s borders and perpetrators of the criminal acts are prosecuted.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that officers of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit, Ikeja, on Tuesday seized 102 bags of plastic rice branded “Beat Tomato Rice’’ with no date of manufacture.

A Customs Area Comptroller, Mohammed Haruna, said the commodity was stored for distribution as Yuletide gifts for the public.

Mr. Haruna said officers of the unit seized the plastic rice along Ikeja area on Monday, adding that a suspect was arrested in connection with the seizure.

“Before now, I thought it was a rumour that the plastic rice is all over the country but with this seizure, I have been totally convinced that such rice exists.

“We have done the preliminary analysis on the plastic rice. After boiling, it was sticky and only God knows what would have happened if people consumed it,” the customs boss said.

Reacting to the incident in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, Adewale Ilesanmi, an agri-business consultant, expressed surprise at how such goods got shipped across the borders of the country.

“My immediate impression on this is to say that this is wicked, inhuman, and totally unacceptable. The perpetrators of this crime should be prosecuted.

“It is the height of bad business practice and must send a strong worded message to the state of China and if possible, stop all importation from the people’s Republic of China,” he said.

While explaining the genesis of the ‘plastic rice’, Mr. Ilesanmi disclosed that players in the industry have long suspected that the fake rice is in the Nigerian market.

“We have for sometimes been following this dangerous trends in business and have always expected the Nigerian government to engage the Chinese government on it. We all know that in shortest possible time, it will be here and here we are today,” he said.

While explaining the health implication of consuming the plastic rice, the agro-business consultant said it is poisonous and can result in cancer or death.

“Plastic rice, simply put, is artificial, synthetic or fake rice-like granules which are made from sheet of plastics. They are toxic and inorganic materials and have grave health implications.

“Its implications are mostly health related complications including cancer or death depending on the volume consumed by the individual. They are poisonous and synthetic materials which do not have any metabolic relationship with the metabolic system of humans.”

For Adeniyi Phillips, a farmer and agro-preneur, the interception of the rice confirms the long held suspicion among farmers that the fake rice is being imported into the Nigerian market.

“I find it very disturbing that such rice as “plastic rice” truly exist in Nigeria. I have seen videos corroborating this fact in the past but I never believed those videos. The seizure of 102 bags of the plastic rice by the Nigerian Customs Service is a confirmation that is truly sad.

“I feel sad that some Nigerians in the name of doing business could go that far, to bring in contrabands that could adversely affect the lives of Nigerians, especially in this yuletide season when the demand for rice increases.”

Commenting on how the plastic rice is produced, Mr. Phillips who is also the convener of the Nigerian Youths in Agriculture Forum (NYAF), said that the rice can only be ‘cloned’ as it cannot be
planted or grown on any soil.

“From experience, plastic rice cannot be planted or grown on any soil. Rice formation (planting) goes through different stages. From planting of paddy, to the milking stage and then it becomes solid. I doubt if the plastic rice goes through these stages. It will be hard to believe the fake rice was
planted. Perhaps, it was ‘cloned’,” he said.

The agricultural consultant said that Nigerians should exercise caution on the issue. He also enjoined other agencies of government and the media to monitor the result of the test by NAFDAC.

“According to the NCS, they did some preliminary test on the confiscated rice and they found out that it is sticky and harmful to the consumers. They have also proposed to hand over the “plastic rice” to NAFDAC for further investigations. That tells a lot.”

Mr. Phillips however lamented the porous state of the Nigerian borders, stressing that the importation of the fake rice into Nigeria is due to the corrupt practices of some officers of the Nigerian Customs Service.

“Unfortunately, for the 102 seized, there are tens of thousands of such rice already in circulation. I ply Sango-Idiroko road regularly and I know the several tonnes of rice coming into Nigeria on a daily basis.

“It is unfortunate that our land borders are porous, so much that this fake rice get into Nigeria unhindered. This nefarious act continues to endure, because the NCS and other regulatory agencies along the border continue to aid these importers after getting some kickbacks.”

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Customs Service has assured Nigerians that the circulation point of the plastic rice has been blocked, debunking suspicions that the fake rice might have saturated the market.

While showing appreciation to well-meaning Nigerians who provided the service with prompt information that led to the discovery of the bags of plastic rice, Mr. Haruna advised the media to educate the public on the existence of plastic rice, adding that it was no longer a rumour.

He said investigation was still ongoing and the unit would hand over the plastic rice to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for proper investigation.

Nigeria’s Debt Service Bill Tops N4tr In Three Years

By the end of 2017, Nigeria would have spent N4.1 trillion on debt servicing. The 2017 budget proposal has N1.7 trillion for debt servicing

The debt service provision is the third largest component of the 2017 fiscal plan, representing 23 per cent or one-fifth of the entire budget at N7.3 trillion and 33.6 per cent of estimated revenue.

In the last three years, the government had a budget of N17.9 trillion, out of which debt service provision alone took 23 per cent, more than one-fifth of the total figure, leaving N13.8 trillion for recurrent and capital expenditures.

In 2015, the country provisioned N943 billion for debt service, which rose by over 50 per cent to N1.48 trillion in 2016 and currently, a proposal of N1.7 trillion, due to take effect from January 1, 2017.

Presently, while the country has almost drawn down more the provision for 2016 budget to meet obligations, the capital expenditure votes upon which the debts were brokered are yet to get N1 trillion disbursements.

This is coming as the Presidency yesterday explained that the $30 billion loan request was to cover development projects spanning three years and not restricted to 2017 alone.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Solomon Ita-Enang, at a briefing in Abuja stated that the loan request if approved could take the country out of recession.

The Upper Legislative Chamber had rejected the loan request by the president this year.

Ita-Enag said: “Remember that this $30 billion dollar request was not what was to be spent in 2016, 2017 or 2018. It was a projection for three years therefore, the Senate has remitted it back to the president requesting further and it is still pending in the House of Representatives.’’


US supports Nigeria’s fight against poverty with additional $227.3m

The United States of America has announced the release of $227.3million to help fight poverty in Nigeria.

The sum which was announced by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was in addition to the US developmental assistance to support the five-year $2.3 billion agreement signed with the Nigerian Government in 2015.

According to the US, the additional fund now brings the total provided under the agreement to $702 million.

In a statement from the Public Affairs Section of the US Mission in Abuja, the new funding would continue to help Nigeria reduce extreme poverty by stimulating inclusive economic growth, promoting a healthier, more-educated population, and strengthening good governance.

“Today, we are pleased to announce new funding under the agreement signed with the Nigerian Government in 2015 to provide better access to education and health services and promote democracy and economic growth,” the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, was quoted as saying in the statement.

He added: “With the Nigerian Government’s leadership, we know this funding will significantly improve the wellbeing of Nigerians.”

The agreement, which would run through 2020, is structured by the USAID in collaboration with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning; Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Power, and Education and their counterparts at the state-level.

In addition to development assistance funding, the US is providing humanitarian assistance to people affected by the ongoing conflict and severe food insecurity in the North-eastern part of Nigeria and throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

The US has provided more than $291 million in humanitarian assistance in the 2016 fiscal year and continues to be the single largest bilateral humanitarian donor to the region.

“God didn’t make a mistake by putting together a country called Nigeria” – Sultan

The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar has cautioned those agitating for secession to desist from it in the interest of the country’s unity.

He spoke in Enugu at the grand reception organised by the state government in honour of the Rangers International Football Club.

The sultan said he was committed to the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria, adding that those clamouring for a separation were making a huge mistake.

The monarch warned politicians and leaders to desist from using religion and ethnicity to divide the country.

He said Nigeria would continue to flourish with the contribution and skills of the different ethnic groups, religions and individuals.

He said there was no way the country could break up because all the ethnic groups have intermixed across the country.

“We have Igbo people everywhere in the country and they are industrious and we have Hausa people who have not lived anywhere else except in Igboland. Also, we have Yoruba people in different parts of the country who are contributing their quota to the society.”

Good news for Nigeria as oil price rises to $55.61

The price of Brent crude rose to $55.61 per barrel on Wednesday, up 26 cents from the previous day in what will be good news to oil dependent Nigeria.

The Nigerian government has repeatedly lamented the impact of the fall in global oil prices on its economy which is suffering from a recession. The current Muhammadu Buhari administration has pledged to diversify the economy with a focus on agriculture and solid minerals.

Nigeria was one of the oil producing OPEC members that agreed to a reduction in oil export to help bolster oil prices which have been low for over a year, going below $40 dollars a barrel. The country was, however, exempted from the slash due to not being able to meet its original quota caused by militancy in the oil producing Niger Delta region.

To ensure proper preparation for any fall in oil price, the Nigerian government projected an oil price of $42.5 per barrel in the 2017 budget.

On Wednesday, the U.S. dollar held near 14-year peaks as global yield spreads moved inexorably in its favour, while a falling yen lifted Japanese shares to a one-year top.

U.S. crude futures were up 32 cents at 53.62 dollars a barrel, while benchmark Brent crude futures added 26 cents to 55.61 dollars.

The Nikkei added 0.3 per cent in thin trade, while Australia’s main index climbed 0.6 per cent to its highest in 17 months after Wall Street racked up more records.

Japan’s government upgraded its overall assessment of the economy on Wednesday, echoing a more upbeat view from the Bank of Japan’s delivered the day before.

The dollar index, which measures it against a basket of currencies, stood at 103.100 having touched 103.65, its highest since December 2002.

The euro was a fraction firmer at 1.0413 dollars. On Wall Street, the Dow ended just 25 points shy of the magical 20,000 barrier helped by a 1.68 per cent gain in Goldman Sachs.

Stocks have been on a tear since the November 8 presidential election, with the Dow up nine per cent and the S&P 500 6 per cent on bets that President- elect Donald Trump’s plans for deregulation and infrastructure spending might boost profits and growth.

The Dow rose 0.46 per cent on Tuesday, while the S&P 500 gained 0.36 per cent and the Nasdaq0.49 per cent. Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors rose, led by a 1.23 per cent jump in the financial index.

After the bell, Nike rose 3 per cent on a strong quarterly report from the sports apparel seller.

European shares scaled 11-month highs on Tuesday as Italy’s banking index rose 2.3 per cent after the government decided to seek parliamentary approval to borrow 20 billion Euros to underwrite the stability of its banks.

Emerging markets have not been nearly as thrilled by Trump’s win, as the threat of tariffs has stirred fears of a trade war while rising U.S. yields have attracted funds away.

Benchmark 10-year U.S yields have climbed almost 80 basis points since early November to reach 2.57 per cent.

Data from the Institute for International Finance showed non-resident investors had pulled 23 billion dollars from emerging market portfolios since early October.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched up 0.3 per cent on Wednesday, but that followed a string of losses.

Gold held at 1,133.80 dollars an ounce as a firm U.S. dollar kept it pinned near last week’s 10-1/2-month low of 1,122.35 dollars.

JUST IN: Buhari meets Ghana’s President-elect, Akufo-Addo.

Presidential sources have informed Omojuwa.Com that Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is currently meeting with Ghana’s President-elect, Nana Akufo-Addo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.


Akufo-Addo arrived the premises at about 2pm.


Stay with us as we bring you more details and outcome of the meeting later…

Just In: MMM launches in Ghana.

The creation of the Mavrodi Mondial Moneybox (MMM) in Kenya and Ghana, approximately 48 hours after its activities in Nigeria were suspended for a month, has caused increased panic among its Nigerian participants.

Chiamaka Ugorji, the wife of Chuddy Ugorji, a leading MMM Nigeria promoter, attempted to calm nerves by writing an open letter to participants, but this failed to reassure Nigerians that their investments were safe.

Some individuals, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Abuja, shared their thoughts on the issue.

A civil servant, Charity Okafor, said “I participated in the scheme twice by investing N500,000 and one million naira respectively and I got my money back with the large interest.

“However, I felt I should not participate in the scheme any longer and I am lucky I had people around me who convinced me not to reinvest.

“I know I would have turned into a crazy woman if I had money there during this suspension,” Mr. Okafor said.

Ebube Okoh, a housewife, said that she believed the launch of MMM in Ghana and Kenya had everything to do with the Nigerian chapter.

According to the website, the ban on withdrawals is due to negative reports by the media, heavy workload experienced by the system, and an attempt to prevent problems during the New Year.

“I, however, believe that they have run out of people to get money from to pay back the large investments that were coming into the system.

“I believe the money obtained in Kenya and Ghana will be used to make up for the deficit in Nigeria, besides both countries have higher currency values when compared to the Nigeria naira.

“The launch in Ghana and Kenya can’t be a coincidence.”

Gregory Bello, an engineer, said “I have money in the programme, but I am not as upset as other participants because it is a small amount of money compared to others.

“The money I put in is the interest I got from my last investment. I am one of those hoping the system comes back in January for the sake of our sanity.

“I have friends who put in millions of naira and have either suddenly fallen ill or are showing signs of depression.

“I just pray that MMM Nigeria has not crashed because many people will commit suicide or turn crazy,” Bello said.

Federal Government partners Morocco on renewable energy

Nigeria is pursuing international partnership with Morocco to create collaborative platform for increased deployment of solar energy technologies to enhance security and sustainable development.

The Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, who disclosed this, while giving account of one-year stewardship, said investments in the power sector is to encourage the implementation of renewable energy solution in the country.

She added that Nigeria has begun to explore and invest in a variety of alternative energy components, not only to address its carbon emissions, but to embrace cleaner alternatives to cooking such as liquefied petroleum gas and ethanol cook stoves.

According to the minister, Nigeria is promoting investment in solar power projects in several rural villages to improve education, water supply, health, agriculture, commerce, security and all these would offer opportunities to women.

On national budget, she hinted, the 2016 budget was not reflective of the level of work needed to execute by the Environment ministry. “Our capital budget is N4.9 billion of which N1.457 billion was released as at September amounting to 29.5 percent and 96 percent utilized”. She added

The minister maintained that environmental degradation has been identified as the root cause of insecurity and conflicts like Boko Haram insurgency, Niger Delta and militancy in the south and more recently conflict between herdsmen and farmers, where mostly women are caught at the centre.

Commenting on Ogoniland Clean up Project, she said out of $1 billion set aside, $200million would be released and for the period of five years, adding, this would commence when a revised gazette is put in place.

“The government wants to put up structures that would enhance the take-off of the project, and over 1,000 women would be empowered to improve their livelihoods”, she added.

How Nigeria Killed Her Tourism – By Sonala Olumhense

I wonder if there is anyone in authority in Nigeria who understands the brutal counsel offered recently by Ohis Ehimiaghe, Manager of the North, West and Central Africa Region for South African Airways.

Nigeria’s airports are the worst in his area of command, he told aviation journalists.  In effect, Africa’s worst.

By his name, Mr. Ehimiaghe is a Nigerian.  Evidently, his portfolio enables him to see a lot of airports.  As a Nigerian, he is evidently hurt by what he has experienced.

But he is also a truthful and patriotic man, and in the interview, he came down hard and heavy on Nigeria’s airports, particularly the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos.

I quote Mr. Ehimiaghe:

“Some of the facilities at [Nigeria’s] airports have completely collapsed and naturally irritate normal and rational passengers. For instance, if you decide to use the washroom facilities, your hormone system will definitely have challenges.

“Going through the MMIA is a challenge and very bad for usage by a rational being. The smallest airport under me is Cotonou Airport in the Benin Republic. I can go to their toilets and come out with a smile on my face.

“We are not harassed by security agencies, unlike in Nigeria. We have scanning machines at our airports in Nigeria, so, why the harassment by the security agencies again in the country?”

Among other subjects, Mr. Ehimiaghe also reflected on the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Nigeria’s federal capital, Abuja.  He stated that the runway was in such a poor state that in the weeks preceding his interview, at least four aircraft were damaged, one of them so badly that that it could not be used for over one week.

Somewhere, Nigerian officials are abusing the manager.  It is the way we respond to a Nigerian of visibility who calls the government out.  Twice before his death, Chinua Achebe rejected the government’s offer of a so-called National Honour, saying he could accept no such award from governments with no honor.

On both occasions, the government called the literary icon names.  It is the tradition of Nigerian governments to denounce anyone who identifies their weaknesses, or as Achebe did, their connivance.

The irony is that Nigeria continues to deteriorate because of these government, a fact that is best illustrated by our airports.

An airport is every nation’s economic, cultural and political border with every other nation and with the international community.  When you see an airport, you can feel that country’s heartbeat.

In “First, Service the Engine of Change,” on June 5, 2016, I shared my thoughts of a Nigerian airport in words that were like Mr. Ehimare’s:

“When you step into the restrooms, it is at your peril: the worst experience you can have in an airport, including war-ravaged Somalia, and I apologize to every Somali.”

I observed that the restrooms were not being maintained or really cleaned.  “…The place is so wet and so repugnant your life begins to flash before your eyes.  You remember, for sure, whether you have a will or not…”

Compare those remarks with Mr. Ehimare’s: “The smallest airport under me is Cotonou Airport in the Benin Republic. I can go to their toilets and come out with a smile on my face.”

While these comments address the airport environment, they are really a report of the collapse of the governance infrastructure in Nigeria.  The website:, which tracks the quality of airports around the world, routinely lists Nigerian airports among the worst.  For 2016, one of ours is among the top two worst; and two of them are prominent in Africa’s worst 10.

We ought to be ashamed, but shame is not a characteristic of Nigerian governance.  Of greater importance, we ought to be alarmed.  This is because, while international travel, interests, and journalism will always point out our aviation failures and therefore irritate the government perhaps into some action, there is no comparable exposure of the absence of governance in many other areas.

Last week, for instance, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha lamented that federal roads in the South East have become such death traps his government is having to fix them to help road users, a matter of national concern during the Christmas travel season.

“In Imo we do not know again which one is federal road or state-owned road. We do every road like the Akokwa/Orlu road which we have fixed and dualized. Owerri/Port-Harcourt is so bad.”

After traveling from Benin City to Abuja seven months ago, I wrote in this column that the quality of that federal road was so bad it was a miracle there wasn’t an accident every minute.  “You stay sane by closing your eyes and listening to a radio station in your head…The annual losses to the economy ought to make the federal cabinet weep weekly, if anyone cared.”

If anyone cared…

I don’t mean to sound that this collapse of governance exists only at the federal level.  In many States, the government is the only business, and that means the governor the only source of economic life.  Regrettably, the governor’s only interest is often the governor.  Many of them have looted the local government councils into irrelevance, and from the little they receive from the State, many local council chairmen have erected themselves into insensitive deities.

Think about it: Nigeria’s top officials are currently citing lack of resources as the reason for their inability to bring about change.

That is not true.  The absence of political will is the most prominent reason for the poverty of the Buhari administration, just as it was for his predecessors.

The most important resource the administration needed was the resounding support of the electorate in 2015, but that has now been squandered on the altar of political convenience, and it is doubtful the government will achieve much before its term is up.   Instead of recruiting and deploying the nation’s best experts, the Buhari government chose the quicksand of party personnel and personal relatives.

And while there has been a lot of public agonies expressed about low levels of new oil earnings, it is unclear why almost nothing has been done about a lot of recoverable funds, the government’s attention being completely limited to a few isolated concerns.

A part of this is that for some reason, and while governments are increasingly bloated and indolent, Nigeria’s vision has grown dim, if not dismal.  Gone are the big dreams and hopes of our independence and the energy and heart of the post-civil war period.

In contrast to the supposed glory of our past, other nations are building visionary infrastructure capable of making their people competitive for decades to come.  That is why the Cotonou airport can make happy a visitor, even an airline official with access to hundreds of airports.

A good airport is not just a good airport.  It is an invitation, an investment.  It is partly why, in 2014 according to the World Bank, South Africa had 9.5million tourists; Mexico 29m; Malaysia 27.4m; Kenya 1.2m; and Ghana 1.09m.

In that same year, the Republic of Benin had 242,000 tourists.  Nigeria had none.
Twitter: @SonalaOlumhense

Days after MMM disappeared, another Ponzi Scheme, NNN Nigeria rear its head.

Just days after the alleged disappearance of the Mavrodi Mundial Moneybox popularly known as MMM, there have been attempts by other Ponzi Schemes to fill the void MMM left behind.


Members of the famous money-doubling scheme, MMM have been thrown into panic and great confusion since Tuesday, following the message from the ponzi scheme freezing all confirmed Mavros, otherwise known as money due for withdrawal for one month.


Just this afternoon, Omojuwa.Com came across the latest Ponzi Scheme online.


According to the website, NNN is a community of ordinary people, selflessly helping each other, a kind of mutual aid. This is the first sprout of something new in modern soulless and ruthless world of greed and hard cash. The goal here is not the money. The goal is to ACQUIRE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.


The website also clearly states that; NNN is not a bank, NNN does not collect your money, NNN is not an online business, HYIP, investment or MLM program. NNN is a community where people help each other. NNN gives you a technical platform which helps millions of participants worldwide to connect those who NEED help to those who are ready to PROVIDE help, for FREE. All transferred funds to another participant are your help  given by your own good will to another one, absolutely gratis. If you are completely confident and certain in your actions and make your mind to participate, we kindly ask you to study carefully all warnings and instructions first. In cases of any matter regarding the topic Our online consultants are ready to help and answer all of your questions.


Further investigation into this new scheme reveals that NNN is a team of ‘freedom lovers’ in America headed by an influential Yoruba man (Name Undisclosed) and also is just an exact replica of MMM.


In the wake of the current economic recession, so many more Ponzi Schemes are expected to rise due to the economic challenges faced by Nigerians. However, warnings are on the high about the eventual fall of such schemes which in turn may result in loss of hard-earned money as scammers are on the prowl.


We hope Nigerians will shun this new scheme as a result of the lessons learnt from the now defunct MMM.

40% of men living with prostate cancer in Nigeria – Urologist

Forty per cent of men aged about 40 years are living with prostate cancer and many are unaware of their status, an expert has said.

Ovunda Omudu, Head, Department of Surgery at the Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital, disclosed this on Thursday while delivering a lecture on cancer to officers and ratings of the Nigeria Navy Ship Pathfinder in Port Harcourt.

Mr. Omudu, a trained Urologist, said the disease had killed many due to several factors including poor awareness, knowledge, ignorance and manpower.

According to him, treatment for the disease is equally very expensive as it cost between N90,000 to N110,000 per one injection administered to a patient every three months.

“Prostate cancer is one of the leading killer diseases in men in Nigeria and the second cause of cancer deaths in men worldwide.

“Here in Nigeria, we do not have a national budget designated for prostate cancer as obtainable in some western nations which meant that treatment lies solely on the sufferer.

“Due to exchange rate, a 10.8 milligram of prostate cancer injection goes for N90,000 to N110,000 which a patient takes once every three months.

“Similarly, 3.6 milligram of the same injection which is taken every month is sold for N45,000 combined with drug which cost N27,000 per dosage.

“So, you can imagine that every month a retiree or pensioner with prostate cancer will spend roughly N120,000 to treat the disease.

“So, it is very important that we do our best to prevent the disease and stop paying salary to prostate cancer via drugs and medication,” he said.

Mr. Omudu said that surgery to remove prostate cancer abroad cost about 10,000 U.S. dollars (N4.85 million) while cost of travelling, hospital and hotel accommodation increased the figure to N7 million.

Mr. Omudu, however, said that a foundation based in the country had intervened by reducing cost for laser surgery to N600,000.

He said the disease could be prevented by eating consumables like red tomato; Green tea, sea foods, such as periwinkles and snails, and regular exercise.

“Green tea contain anti-oxidant and anti-free radicals while the sea foods have magnesium, manganese, selenium and vitamin E and D which are nutrients for prevention of the disease,” he said.

Mr. Omudu said that efforts were currently being made to reduce the number by creating more awareness and training of additional Urologist doctors to provide needed expertise.

The medical doctor advised officers and ratings to take measures to prevent the diseases, especially going by the nature of their jobs which demanded physical fitness.

Speaking, Obi Egbuchulam, the Commander of Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS), said the base organised the lecture to expose troops to dangers posed by the disease.

He said that some serving and retired naval officers and ratings were currently suffering from prostate cancer which could affect their ability to provide optimal service to the country.

“I think it is our responsibility to educate and enlighten our personnel on dangers of prostate cancer, so that they can live a happy and healthy life serving and after retirement.

“Some people developed this disease due to ignorance and so, this lecture is taking place together with a free Prostate Specific Antigen screening to enable our personnel know their cancer status,” the commodore said.

Mr. Egbuchulam assured that the exercise would be a regular and urged personnel from other units and formations to always get tested.

Nigeria lost over N1.5Tr to attacks by Niger Delta militants, oil vandals in 2016 – NPDC

The Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, lost N1.5 trillion due to attacks on its facilities in 2016, an official has said.

Maikanti Baru, the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, stated this on Wednesday.

In a statement ?signed by Ndu Ughamadu, Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Baru said that the exploration and production subsidiary of the corporation lost the amount due to attacks on its facilities from January till date.

Mr. Baru disclosed this when he declared open the 2016 NNPC Security Awareness week with the theme:? “NNPC Security: A Task for All Stakeholders”.

He ?lamented the rising spate of criminality in the society at large and in the oil and gas industry in particular leading to loss of much needed revenue.

”At industry level, we are all conversant with the seriousness and frequency with which national assets in form of pipelines, flow stations are vandalised and crude oil and white products stolen with impunity.?

”In 2016, January to date for example, NPDC alone recorded 59 security incidents resulting in crude production shut down/deferment and revenue loss of over N1.5 trillion,” he said.?

PREMIUM TIMES reported several such attacks, most carried out by the Niger Delta Avengers, an armed group in the oil producing region. The attacks reduced Nigeria’s oil production and export by about 50 per cent and also affect power generation as gas supply to power plants for cut.

Mr. Baru urged all Nigerians to do everything possible to help protect national assets, adding that governments at various levels were working to fight criminality.

He assured staff that security was a focal point off his administration and that success could only be achieved when all stakeholders imbibed the consciousness that security was a task for everyone.

”At corporate level, you are all aware that the first item on my 12 Focus Areas is security.

”This is in recognition of the imperative that without assurances of safety, NNPC, the oil and gas industry, and indeed the country cannot achieve appreciable growth to assure citizens of decent and productive lives,” he said.

Mr. Baru also launched the Corporation’s Kidnap for Ransom Policy to raise staff awareness on the need to avoid actions that predispose them to being kidnapped, especially at a time like this when kidnapping for ransom had become rampant.

He charged all staff to participate actively in the activities of the Security Awareness Week to imbibe ideas that could help them not only on personal security but also on the protection of national assets.

Nigeria Lost Over N1.5 trillion To Attacks By Niger Delta Militants, Oil Vandals In 2016

The Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, lost N1.5 trillion due to attacks on its facilities in 2016, an official has said.

Maikanti Baru, the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, stated this on Wednesday.

In a statement ?signed by Ndu Ughamadu, Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Baru said that the exploration and production subsidiary of the corporation lost the amount due to attacks on its facilities from January till date.

Mr. Baru disclosed this when he declared open the 2016 NNPC Security Awareness week with the theme:? “NNPC Security: A Task for All Stakeholders”.

He ?lamented the rising spate of criminality in the society at large and in the oil and gas industry in particular leading to loss of much needed revenue.

”At industry level, we are all conversant with the seriousness and frequency with which national assets in form of pipelines, flow stations are vandalised and crude oil and white products stolen with impunity.?

”In 2016, January to date for example, NPDC alone recorded 59 security incidents resulting in crude production shut down/deferment and revenue loss of over N1.5 trillion,” he said.

Read More:

Nigeria: Land of Wastage By Abimbola Lagunju

Nigeria wastes everything it touches. Wastage is an ideological, political, governmental and existential philosophy in our country.

Nigeria wastes lives. See the statistics of infant and under-five mortality rates, pregnancy related deaths, and youth and adult death figures. Ill-equipped health facilities, armed bandits, insurgents, bad roads, bad water and security forces take their turns to waste lives. Reading about violent and untimely deaths in the newspapers is a daily menu – building collapses on people, some gun others down, someone throws or detonates a bomb, a tanker spills its fuel and roasts other road users, a mad bus driver somersaults on the road, hospital mismanages a patient, and many other woes that bring life to an end. Lives are wasted at enormous rates in Nigeria. Life almost has zero value. No one cares.

Nigeria wastes its natural resources. No one seems to know exactly how much oil comes out of Nigeria on a daily basis. Whatever revenue is earned is wasted. Gas is flared. Oil is spilled when not stolen. Sea-life, which many countries depend upon, not only for food, but also for income, is wasted. Low-grade and formalin-loaded fish is then imported for public consumption. We have no idea of the number of trees felled a day in this country. Our rivers are polluted. Soil erosion is considered normal.

This country wastes even God-given oxygen. No one controls dangerous emissions by factories. Those who live in the neighborhood of cement factories across Nigeria breathe any other thing but oxygen. No one cares. Dust from untarred roads, plied by smoking vehicles of forgotten dates of manufacture, convoyed by numberless motorcycles, has relegated oxygen in the cities to history books. No one seems to know what it means to breathe unpolluted air.

Nigeria wastes its own infrastructure. All major infrastructure either built by the States or the Federal Government invariably get stuck before they reach service level. Then they lay waste. Steel companies get built half-way and then get sold off to cannibals, who strip them to the bones. Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world where telephony has been reduced to a nuisance of dangling wires and broken poles. Nitel was wasted. I was dismayed during a recent visit to Warri to learn that the multi-million dollar infrastructure that Shell Company built in Warri has been abandoned to all types of reptiles after the company pulled out. A monumental waste.

Justice is wasted in Nigeria. Justice is bartered and sold. It has been let out of court rooms and it wanders in the market place, where criminals and the guardians of justice hag over its price. It is handcuffed to the tree of perpetual injunctions and interminable adjournments where it wastes away. Justice is as much a victim as other victims of injustice. In addition to genocide crimes, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the ICC should consider introducing Crime Against Justice in its books.

Nigeria wastes hope. Hope that things will be better in the future is no longer a dream. No one has such dreams any longer. And that is why some hold on tightly to the past. They romanticize the days when it appeared there was hope. Very few people, if any at all believe in the future of Nigeria or the competence of governance. Elections have been reduced to a change of batons between the devil and the Red Sea. Either way, one loses. And that is why many sell their votes for anything tangible during elections. They prefer cash to nebulous campaign promises. Hope is bartered and then slaughtered. The buyers of votes are the murderers of hope. The sellers of hope are their unwary accomplices. Done away with earthly hope of a functional society, the sellers of hope flock to religious houses, hoping for a miraculous way to keep their heads above water in a hopeless society. Their religious leaders, who are in cohorts with the murderers of hope, oblige them. They hook them on heavenly hope and empty their pockets. They take back the sellers’ earnings from the sale of their earthly hope.

Nigeria wastes brains. Parents train their children in universities, polytechnics and technical schools and put them at the disposal of the country. Nigeria ignores the huge potential in these graduates. These smart graduates then export themselves, legally or illegally, to Europe, the United States and other parts of the world to practice their trade. There in these countries, some of these bright people rise to great heights and we read of them in the newspapers.  However, for every successful one, there are many other Nigerian professionals wasting away doing menial jobs. Nigeria is not bothered. The country is satisfied with the waste. Does the Nigerian government know how many doctors, engineers and other professionals we have in other countries?

A Premium Times report of 12th December, 2016 says, “President Muhammadu Buhari has frowned at the high rate of illegal migration of Nigerian youths to European countries through the Mediterranean Sea. The president, who was represented by Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, called for an immediate stop to the action by Nigerians, saying it was unfair to European countries.” Unfair to European countries!? No Sir! It is unfair to Nigeria, Mr. President. That is brain and muscle waste at its worst! The report further states that “an average of 83 Nigerians crossed illegally from Nigeria to Europe, daily, via the Mediterranean in the first nine months of 2016,” and this number does not include those who lost their lives in the crossing. Colossal waste, Mr. President.

Locally, we read of young people who can refine crude oil in their backyards; we read of people who can make guns; we read of people who can manufacture all sorts of useful implements. What does Nigeria do? They arrest them. They put them in jail till their creativity dies off under bad prison conditions. They waste them in detention. No one bothers to see how these smart and creative people can be put to use for common good. Nigeria prefers to buy guns from Pakistan and other countries that are not in any way better than us. Nigeria prefers to import refined fuel and other finished products.

The leaders of Nigeria waste the goodwill of the citizens. This is our lot. The tale of wastage of goodwill is a long one. Obasanjo came and frittered away all the goodwill he had with an illegal third-term ambition. Goodluck Jonathan, who claimed he didn’t have shoes when he was going to school, emotionalized everyone, including those who did not have shoes as adults, to win the election. He was given a goodwill capital which he squandered in no time. He surrounded himself with people who were in brain-rest mode and who didn’t care about wastage. History has made its statement.

Mr. President, I did not sell my hope during the elections that brought you into power. I still have hope and still believe in you. Stop the wastage, Mr. President.

I am probably wasting ink writing all this too….

Abimbola Lagunju is a writer and author of several books. You can reach him at and read his work here.

How Nigeria’s N53 Trillion Budget Of 18 Years Failed- Report

The controversy over performance of the 2016 budget is just the latest in a series of government’s failed efforts at infrastructure building in the last 18 years despite ambitious budgets totaling N53 trillion within the period.

The nation’s yearly budget, which started from a modest expenditure plan of N948 billion ($3.2billion) — apart from supplementary requests — in 1999, consistently grew to N6.06 trillion ($19.9 billion) this year. The Federal Government plans to spend more than N7 trillion next year.

Experts have said that the combination of frivolous and fictitious heads and duplication of items in budgets have remained major challenges, leading to poor performance, the huge budget provisions notwithstanding.

Besides, high recurrent votes, which partly was paid out to “carefully crafted ghost worker scheme”, non-implementation of capital votes as planned and abandonment of projects after mobilization, helped to bring the country down.

Out of the N53 trillion, the country has budgeted N33.2 trillion in the last seven years, with recurrent expenditures averaging 72 per cent, leaving 28 per cent for capital votes.

But going by the projections of the stakeholders, an average of N900 billion yearly has been made in the last 17 years, while the recent fall into recession showed that it was not really invested.

An economist and fiscal governance campaigner, Dr. Uzochukwu Anakom, while speaking on the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, noted that the shoddy work depicts how budgets over the years were used to under-develop the country.

“The macroeconomic targets and figures make no sense to an average Nigerian and can be subject to as many interpretations as there are Nigerians. It commits the government to nothing.

“It raises several questions- what is the inflation target in the next three fiscal years? Will interest be in the single or double digits for it to be consistent with economic growth that can move Nigeria out of recession? Essentially, there are no projections for interest rate and lending to the economy.’’

The immediate past Director-General of Bureau of Public Procurement, Emeka Eze, said that the number of government projects currently abandoned across the country stood at 19,000 as at May this year.

He said that besides duplication of office buildings, personnel and overhead cost, there was the tendency for each agency of government to assert its authority in procurement process.

The result, according to experts, has been poor execution or outright non-execution of projects after mobilisation, as well as over-pricing of projects, after delays in preparation and presentation, inconsistencies in timeframe and questionable figures.

Read More:

Nigeria To Allocate New Oil Licenses To Fund 2017 Budget

The Federal Government will issue new oil licences as part of efforts to explore new streams of revenues to fund the 2017 budget, an official has said.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, stated this when he appeared before the Senate Joint Committee on Appropriation and Finance to defend the revised Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).

He said the Federal Government would also review the current joint venture arrangements with oil companies, marginal oil fields as well as mount pressure on revenue generating agencies to surpass expected targets.

Mr. Udoma said a total of N10 trillion was being targeted by the Federal Government as revenue for the 2017 fiscal year.

According to him, out of this amount, about N5 trillion is expected to be generated from the sale of crude oil.

“Non-oil revenues will rake in about N5.06 trillion.

“These revenues are expected to come from corporate and company taxes, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, Stamp Duties, capital gains tax and value added tax.

“Others are Customs, excise, fees, surcharges on luxury items, special levies and Federal Government independent revenue,” he said.

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How MMM warned Nigerians before suspending payments

Just hours before it suspended further payments to subscribers, promoters of shadowy deposit money scheme, MMM, warned Nigerians not to be “unnecessarily greedy”.

In an update on its Twitter page at 6:30 p.m. Monday night, MMM Nigeria said interested participants should exercise caution and use only their “spare money”.

“MMM has always advised that you use your #SpareMoney. Use your #SpareMoney and #SpareMoney only. Don’t be unnecessarily greedy,” it tweeted.

On Tuesday morning, the scheme put up a disclaimer on its website informing Nigerians of a temporary freeze on payments to existing subscribers.

It blamed a “heavy workload” being experienced by its servers and the panic caused by the Nigerian government and media for the development, but said it will be back by mid-January, 2017.

It also continued to encourage new users to sign up and existing ones to continue making donations.

MMM allows Nigerians to sign up and pledge a monetary donation to people who are in need of it. The pledge is made with a guarantee of 30% appreciation fee that is essentially an interest on the specific amount donated.

The promoters of the scheme have yet to explain how they manage to pay a 30% interest within 30 days —which is more than three times the return on a fixed deposit account.

The model has remained a mystery even for market analysts and economics, especially as it does not involve the firm receiving funds directly from subscribers.

In July, the Securities and Exchange Commission warned Nigerians against MMM and other questionable varieties of it.

“How can somebody give you 50 per cent return? Where is he going to get the 50 per cent from?” the Director-General of SEC, Mounir Gwarzo, said. “Where is he going to put the money? What is he going to do?”

About a month ago, the House of Representatives urged an immediate crackdown.

But the scheme found an easy ride in Nigeria, given the country’s lingering economic crisis.

An estimated 3 million Nigerians are said to have signed up for the scheme within the past 12 months. For the past one month, the organisation’s website has become the 5th most-visited in Nigeria.

But many Nigerians who took to social media to vent their exasperation over the announcement were immediately assured of a return of the scheme in no further than 30 days’ time.

“Be rest assured that we will be back, bigger, more sustainable and stable,” MMM Nigeria tweeted after a deluge of enquiries from panicking Nigerians.

In fact, the scheme said those who expected to be paid this month will see their interest grow by nearly double by the time it returns to normal operations in January.

“Dear Mavrodians, the one month freezing of confirmed Mavros is a step to ensure the sustainability and stability of the MMM Nigeria system.

“There is no better time to PH (provide help) than now when you can earn 50% more of your amount of PH (provided help). There is nothing to worry about,” MMM said.

Kanu: There’ll be no Nigeria again by the time I finish my testimony

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and director of Radio Biafra, says Nigeria will collapse when he gives his testimony in court.

Kanu, who spoke from the dock, said this in protest of Justice Binta Nyako’s decision to shield witnesses that would testify against him at her court.

“Buhari went on national television to accuse me in public and he wants to try me in secret. I will not allow myself to be subjected to this kind of trial,” he said.

“By the time I am through with my testimony there will be no Nigeria. What kind of secret trial? This is not a Sharia Court but common law court.”

On December 1, Nyako had denied Kanu and other accused persons – Chidiebere Onwudiwe, David Nwawuisi and Benjamin Nmadubugwu – bail, citing the severity of their offence as the reason for her decision.

On that day, Labaran Shuaibu, counsel to the federal government and prosecutor, asked the court for an order to mask the witnesses who would testify against the defendants.

He said the lives of his witnesses might be in danger if their identities were not concealed.

But Maxwell Okpara, one of Kanu’s lawyers, told the court then that the government had lined up foreigners, whose identities it wanted to conceal, as witnesses.

“My lord, we have uncovered their plan to bring Ghanaians and people from Cameroon to appear in this court to testify against the defendants,” he had said.

“We as Nigerians will resist that plot. It cannot work. That is why they are insisting that they should testify behind screen. That plot has failed, it will not work.”

On Tuesday, Nyako, a judge of the federal high court, Abuja, granted the request of the government to shield witnesses.

Kanu is facing 11-counts of treason and terrorism brought against him by the government.

Man laments how MMM in South Africa got frozen, and his money disappeared.

A South-African man has schooled Nigerians who are MMM participants. Relaying his experience of what happened to the popular money doubling scheme in his country way back in May, the man said contrary to reports that the participants will get their money when the bans on Mavros have been lifted, nothing like that will happen.

He said that was the exact thing that happened to them in May and up till now, no one has been able to get their money. He went ahead to say that Nigerians should have leanrt from South Africans. Read what he wrote below:

”LOL u should have learned from your brothers and sisters here in south africa , our own mavro money is gone as we speak and MMM is at silence as we speak so watch out for this ponzi schemes i have also learned my lesson here in south africa but atleast is not to much money that i lost”

“Nigerians This Serves You Right You Guys Are Very Greedy, This Was The Same Technique MMM Used To Scam People In South Africa” (Must See)

From reports gathered, this exact occurrence happening in Nigeria had happened also to the South African MMM sometime back. Headlines like:

“Controversial “donation platform” and alleged Ponzi scheme, MMM” and “South Africa collapsed and rebooted amid what it calls a “media panic”, flooded the news page when it happened in SA.

In a notice posted to participants of the scheme after it happened, the group said that “persecution against MMM organized by the mass media” has provoked a panic which has forced the scheme to “start all over again”.

MMM’s administration said that the scheme’s currency – “Mavros” had been frozen and were impossible to use. The group blamed the collapse of the system on media reports and South African banks, which it alleges have hurt and robbed “millions” of people who were part of the MMM scheme.

The scheme said it has started over with a clean sweep and all users whose mavros were frozen will be rewarded handsomely. They promised that the “old” version of the Mavro currency will be ‘bought out’ through trades of the “new” version of the currency, where equal value would be paid out to participants over six months, using 10% of total trade – effectively placing a debt burden on all participants. All these were made known May 1, 2016. See the exact notice as sent to all participants below:

“Dear participants!

Unfortunately, the persecution against MMM organized by the mass media has provoked a panic. We have been working in South Africa for almost 2 years and we have millions of members. During all that time, we had no complaints and accusations from participants, everything was paid to everyone in time and in full amount, by 30% per month. We held charity events and helped children. We did a lot of useful things for people! Well, who was suffering from this?

“The bankers and the adherents of the current unjust financial system. That is why they planned and brought all these crazy investigations and persecution in the mass media. “The only thing which prevents the investigation is the fact that non of the participants reported to the police”. If there are no complaints, and everybody is happy, then what is the investigation for? What is the subject? Did not they understand the consequences? Did not they understand that their irresponsible actions would hurt people? Millions of people! Well, try oppressing any bank, even the most reliable one, in the same way, and see what will happen tomorrow.

“However, it is futile to explain that to them. MMM prevents banks from robbing people, that is the only reason why all this is happening. And nobody cares about people. If we managed to pay millions of participants 30% per month for two years (and would still be paying, if the mass media did not lie about MMM!), why do banks not do the same? Why do they offer only a few percents a year? Make your own conclusions. Thought everything is clear right now. You are simply robbed, we have always been saying it. The modern financial system is predatory by nature. It is not for ordinary people, it is for the bankers. Its purpose is financial slavery! And it achieves this purpose perfectly. In general, in this situation, we have to start all over again. We have no choice. You can see on your own what is happening.

HILARIOUS: Nigerian Twitter reacts to the news of MMM Freeze.

It is no longer news that MMM Nigeria has frozen accounts of its participants, blocking them from withdrawing their funds along with accruing 30% interest until January 12, 2017.


While some participants in the alleged Ponzi scheme have said they were not worried about the temporary ban placed on their accounts, a lot of critics are having a good laugh. And Twitter seems to be their ideal place for that.


We did a compilation of tweets from our TL today and too many people had fun. Enjoy:

Nigeria not working, her existence must be renegotiated – Atiku

Nigeria as currently constituted is an entity that is rooted in corruption, impunity and injustice and thus must be reconstituted, a former vice-president said on Monday.

Atiku Abubakar, who served under former President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999-2007, said at a forum in Abuja that the current system is the bane of Nigeria and not the individuals running it.

“Political and civic leaders from across the country must come together, discuss, negotiate and make the necessary compromises and sacrifices needed to restructure our federation to make us a stronger, more united, productive, and competitive country,” Mr. Atiku said while expanding on a paper titled: “Nigerian Federalism: Continuing Quest for Stability and Nation-Building.”

Mr. Atiku has been at the forefront of renewed calls for a reconstituted Nigeria since the beginning of the year.

In June, he used his remarks at a book launch, also in Abuja, to call for a more federal system which would put to rest the disparate yearnings of Nigerians from all sections of the country.

Mr. Atiku said there’s a perennial cry of marginalisation from every section of the country, a situation, he said, was caused by the flaw in the country’s constitution.

“No section of this country can claim correctly that its people are better served by the current structure of our federation. When we were not dependent on oil revenues and when the federating units had greater autonomy of action and were largely responsible for their affairs, they, that is our regional governments, did not owe workers their salaries for several months.

“They did not shut down schools and universities for several months because of teacher strikes and inadequate funding. Take a look at the industries that the regional governments established and ran and the quality of schools that they established, and see if you can see a state government or a group of state governments that have bested them since the emergence of our unitary federalism.

“And also ask yourself which of those establishments taken over or established by the federal government since, has performed as well as they did under our pre-1966 federal system.”

The former vice president said Abuja should be prepared and willing to relinquish some of its powers over the remaining 36 federating units.

This call, Mr. Atiku said, does not mean a call for a break up of Nigeria, but only a call for the imposition of a system where transparency, efficiency and equity will prevail.

“National unity does not mean the absence of disagreement or agitations. In fact disagreements and peaceful agitations indicate vibrant and living relationships,” Mr. Atiku said. “The key to making national progress is to manage those disagreements in peaceful and mature ways.”

Buhari frowns at high illegal migration of Nigerians to Europe

President Muhammadu Buhari has frowned at the high rate of illegal migration of Nigerian youths to European countries through the Mediterranean Sea.

Mr. Buhari made this known at the 32rd Annual Meeting of the Sahel and West Africa also to mark its week, organised by the Food Crisis Protection Network in Abuja on Monday.

The president, who was represented by Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, called for an immediate stop to the action by Nigerians, saying it was unfair to European countries.

He said that agriculture revitalisation was a solution to the migration issue, while expressing the readiness of his administration to support farmers in order to boost local production in the country.

“We are pained when we see our youth across West and North Eastern Africa in a desperate attempt to cross the desert; get to Libya and cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

“We consider it as something that must stop as fast as possible because it is unfair to Europe.”

Data from the European Union indicate that an average of 83 Nigerians crossed illegally from Nigeria to Europe, daily, via the Mediterranean in the first nine months of 2016.

The daily figure was extrapolated from the 22,500 illegal Nigerian migrants that the EU said crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe between January and September this year.

Nigeria, however, said it hopes to use agriculture to stem the tide of illegal migration.

“We think that if we reorganise our agriculture better, many of these youths will earn a decent living at home rather than become an embarrassment to their host countries and to us here in Africa,” the president said.

“We are not unmindful of our youths population here, hence the need to ensure that the agriculture sector is revitalised as soon as possible.

“We have decided that we will no longer rely on rainfall, we will create dams, water reservoirs and insist on harvesting food at least three times in a year,” he added.

On food crisis in the West African region, he described the threat as real, saying that urgent steps were necessary to address the challenge.

According to him, there are 800 million hectares of agricultural land across the world yet to be cultivated and Africa owns half of them.

The president, appealed to Sahel and West African agricultural stakeholder to devise ideas that would guarantee better management in cattle breeding through artificial insemination.

Mr. Buhari, however, said his administration was aggressively tackling humanitarian crisis of the Internally Displaced Persons by attending to issues of food and nutrition, especially for women and children in the North East.

Marcel De Souza, the President of ECOWAS Commission, said that no fewer than 4 million Nigerians were internally displaced as a result of the insecurity in the North eastern region.

He listed some of the developmental challenges of the Sahel and West African regions to include economic and political governance.

Mr. De Souza called on governments of the regions to invest toward addressing unemployment and food crisis, which he described as bane to development.

Kassoum Denon, the Malian Minister of Agriculture, appealed to various countries in the Sahel and West Africa to share ideas and success stories with a view to addressing food crisis in the regions.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Food Crisis Protection Network is an international network created in 1984 as part of regional system for the prevention of food crisis.

It brings together Sahelian and West African expertise of the humanitarian and development spheres by mobilising available resources for social protection, livelihoods, nutrition, agricultural development, natural resources management to benefit the most vulnerable populations.

It aims to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by 2030 in the regions.

Why Nigeria Banned Toxic Fuel From Europe

When reports filtered in last September, that Swiss trading firms – Trafigura and Vitol – were exploiting weak regulations in Africa to import “dirty fuels” into Africa, including Nigeria, many dismissed it as impossible considering the many government agencies that are present at the ports.
But today, the story seems different as five countries in West Africa have decided to stop importing “dirty fuels” from Europe, the UN Environment Programme has said. Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have all agreed on the import ban.
Daily Sun had in September reported the findings by Swiss watchdog group, Public Eye, with the title, “Dirty Diesel’’ which had alleged that the Swiss trading firms are blending and dumping dirty fuel in Nigeria and other West African countries with more than 100 per cent toxic (sulphur) levels allowed in Europe, thereby causing health and environmental hazards.
Why the ban?
The UN says the move will help more than 250 million people breathe safer and cleaner air because the sulphur particles emitted by a diesel engine are considered to be a major contributor to air pollution and are ranked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the top global health risks associated with heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory problems.
Head of UNEP, Erik Solheim, hailed the import ban
In a statement, the UN Environment Programme said the five West African countries, in addition to banning the import of dirty fuels, have also agreed to upgrade the operations of their national refineries.
The upgrade, which will concern both public and privately owned refineries, is meant to boost standards in the oil produced in the five countries.
The report into Europe oil exports released in September particularly criticised the Swiss for their links to the African trade in diesel that has toxin levels illegal in Europe.
“West Africa is sending a strong message that it is no longer accepting dirty fuels from Europe. Their decision to set strict new standards for cleaner, safer fuels and advanced vehicle emission standards shows they are placing the health of their people first,” he added.
FG speaks
Despite the denial by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in September, that it was impossible to have toxic fuel in circulation in Nigeria, the commitment of the Federal Government to ban the toxic fuel from entering the country has proved critics, including DPR, wrong.
Deputy Director, Public Affairs in DPR, Dorothy Bassey, had told Daily Sun in a telephone interview that there was no cause for alarm as all petroleum products are tested before entering the shores of the country. According to her, any product or products that fail the specification test are sent back to the country of origin.
“But if by error of omission or commission any product(s) that fall short of the required specification find their way into the country, the importer of such products will be severely sanctioned,’’ she said. But Nigerians are yet to see such sanctions on the Swiss importers.
But Environment Minister, Amina Mohamed, said: “For 20 years, Nigeria has not been able to address the vehicle pollution crisis due to the poor fuels we have been importing. Today, we are taking a huge leap forward – limiting sulphur in fuels from 3,000 parts per million to 50 parts per million.”
She said the move would result in major air quality benefits in Nigerian cities and would allow the country to set modern vehicle standards.
The WHO says that pollution is particularly bad in low and middle-income countries.

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Jammeh Trying To Use Nigerian Judges To Plant Himself In Office, Gambian Lawyers Warn

The Gambian Bar Association has warned that Ex-President Yahya Jammeh, who first accepted his loss of the presidency in this month’s election only to reject the result, is attempting to use judicial officers imported from Nigeria to remain in office.

The Gambian judiciary is led by Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle, a Nigerian national.  In a statement, the Gambian Bar said they have “absolutely no confidence” in Fagbenle, citing many instances of his close investment in the Jammeh presidency, and affirming that he is at the helm of Jammeh’s plan to undermine the will of the Gambian people.

“There is a total breakdown of the rule of law and the Chief Justice has been known to carry executive directives in matters of the state interest,” the Gambian Bar said, adding that it wished to bring this issue to the attention of the Nigerian Government.

The lawyers noted that there has been no Session of the Supreme Court of the Gambia for almost two years, in contravention of the law.  It said that the only Judge appointed to sit on the Supreme Court is Chief Justice Fagbenle, and that whenever there is an intention to constitute a Supreme Court, he and the Attorney General would handpick qualified lawyers or judges from commonwealth countries who would visit the Gambia for a two-week duration and are appointed by the President for that purpose to dispose of cases.

“It is clear that Jammeh did not expect to lose the election and did not deem it fit to have a sitting permanent Supreme Court. This has inured to his benefit for the last two years during which several cases have sat unheard by a Supreme Court. Case in point is the appeal by the United Democratic party against the conviction of its party leaders.”

Insisting that Fagbenle is “clearly unfit” for the constitutional role of Chief Justice and will certainly take steps to attempt to extend the illegal regime of Jammeh, the group pointed out that there are also seven judges of the high court, all appointed in 2016, and all handpicked from Nigeria.

They named the judges as Justice Agboola, Justice A.N.C. Ikoro, Justice Uduma, Justice E.E. Ogar, Justice E.O. Dada, Justice Sulaiman, and Justice E.O. Otaba

“These persons have never been judges or sat in a judicial capacity,” the lawyers said.  “They were imported and appointed and have demonstrated in several high-profile judgments that they will not take any steps contrary to the will of the President.

“It is, therefore, a vital priority for the Government of Nigeria and all Bar Associations to condemn the actions and capacity of all judges of foreign nationality currently sitting in Gambia and call for their immediate repatriation to prevent them from undermining the will of the Gambian people,” they added.

2017 Budget Will Pull Nigeria Out of Recession- Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Nigerians not to lose faith in the ability of his administration to make a difference in their lives, saying the 2017 Budget contains measures that will pull Nigeria out the current economic recession.
The president in his 2016 Eid-el-Maulud message to Muslim faithful, urged Nigerians not to despair as he was doing his best to redress the situation, particularly with a number of policies he had embedded in the 2017 budget proposals, which he would lay before the National Assembly on Wednesday.
He said: “As we use the memorable occasion of this celebration to reflect on our current challenges, I urge you not to lose faith in the ability of this administration to make a difference in the lives of our people.
“The 2017 Budget proposals, which I will lay before the National Assembly on Wednesday, will contain measures that we are confident will get the nation out of its economic woods.”
The president, while wishing all Muslims a happy and memorable celebration of the birth of the great Prophet, said through His (Prophet)  teachings, particularly on peaceful living, tolerance, sobriety, generosity, sacrifice and honesty, and wisdom, the nation had gained immensely in building a harmonious and prosperous society.
Buhari said the universal truth of the Prophet’s values remained unchanged.
He said: “Against all odds, we have used these pillars of strength in securing a just and fair society, and our efforts are beginning to yield dividends in curbing terrorism, militancy, corruption and other crimes that devalue our humanity.”
Buhari called on Nigerians not to allow the reality of the temporary challenges to undermine “our hope, reverse our collective will to succeed, or divide us”.
Rather, Buhari said, it should remind us of “why we need to stay together, fight together and succeed together”.
According to him, we all share a vision of a better Nigeria, and we will all share in the responsibility of building the country of our dreams.
He said: “As we look forward to 2017 with hope and huge expectations, let me assure you that with collective dedication and hard work, we will overcome the mountain of economic difficulties, and return our country to the path of prosperity.”
The president described the occasion of the Prophet’s birth as, “another period of celebration, and deep reflection”.
“Celebration, because we are marking the birth of Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him), and deep reflection, because it is another opportunity of pausing, taking a deep breath and reflecting on the current realities before us,” he added.
Credit: thisdaylive

Shiloh 2016: Nigeria will still experience gross darkness – Oyedepo

The General Overseer, Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), David Oyedepo, said that Nigeria would still experience gross darkness. He called for special prayers to overcome the difficulties.

Mr. Oyedepo, who was quoted in a live streaming broadcast, described the economic downturn in the country as a holocaust.

He noted this at Canaan Land in Ota, Ogun, during the annual Winners Chapel prayer convention, Shiloh 2016, tagged “My Case is Different’’, taken from Genesis Chapter 47 Verses 15 to 27.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the annual programme was a mountain of divine encounter for salvation healing and deliverance.

“Anyone who keys into the kingdom investments covenant will overcome the gross darkness that awaits the world.

“As Christians, you should understand and have the spirit of giving no matter what it takes to give,” Mr. Oyedepo said.

Reacting to the programme, some Abuja residents expressed joy and fulfilment, saying they had a lot to be grateful to God for.

Deborah Peters, a member, said that Shiloh was a refreshing programme that was meant to make every Christian experience divine breakthrough and increase in their lives.

Ms. Peters advised Christians to be open minded with their concerns at this period and all times so that they would encounter God’s visitation.

“We have to make sacrifices of giving like Papa (Mr. Oyedepo) pointed out so that we will encounter increase, breakthrough, unending grace, protection and even deliverance.

“For us to gain all of these, we have to, with the help of the theme of Shiloh open up to God to have his way in us.”

Rose Benjamin, a member that attended the programme from Kaduna, urged Christians not to take their encounter with God for granted for it must be followed with testimonies.

Ms. Benjamin said she encountered God because she believed Him for a divine intervention in the aspect of pregnancy and her prayers were answered.

“God took me to a different level I never expected; that is why it is good to pray fervently without season.

“My husband and I prayed and believed God for divine intervention; it was our topmost prayer point and we held onto every prophecy declared by Bishop.’’

On his part, Damola Arogundade, a driver, said he encountered God’s presence in the 2012 Shiloh after he had obeyed all what the Bishop asked the congregation to do during the impartation service.

Prominent clerics from all works of life were represented at the programme as well as nations.

Dangerous Fine Print in Emir Sanusi’s Prescriptions for Buhari By Farooq A. Kperogi

Emir Muhammad Sanusi II’s well-publicized December 2, 2016 public lecture on the Nigerian economy has divided Nigerians into two broad camps. In one camp you have the unreasoning, knee-jerk Buhari apologists who can’t brook the slightest criticism of their idol. This camp lashed out—and are still lashing out— at the emir for saying what all sensible people who are unencumbered by political and primordial loyalties already know: that Nigeria is collapsing under Buhari’s watch.

In the other camp you have a motley crowd of Sanusi groupies who are mesmerized by his brilliance and Buhari critics who either didn’t like Buhari from the get-go or who used to like him but have become inconsolably disillusioned by his uninspiring performance so far. This group vigorously defended the emir.

But this is a false, unhelpful binary that ignores the danger the emir poses to all of us.  While the emir’s diagnosis of Nigeria’s economic malaise was unquestionably sound, some of his prescriptions were sadly familiar neoliberal, IMF/World Bank deathly pills. You only need to read the PowerPoint slides of his lecture to know this.

For instance, the emir suggested that the government “firmly and unequivocally eliminate fuel subsidies.” But hasn’t the president already done that? How much more must Nigerians pay for fuel before the government can be deemed to have “firmly and unequivocally eliminated fuel subsidies”? Perhaps 500 naira per liter?

In other words, the emir’s grouse with Buhari is that the president isn’t going far enough with his anti-poor, IMF/World Bank-inspired neoliberal policies that have impoverished and continue to impoverish vast swathes of Nigerians. If you take the time to wade through the maze of pseudo-scientific economic gobbledygook in his presentation, you will actually discover that the emir isn’t the hero he is being made out to be by his cheerleaders. His economic template isn’t different from Buhari’s; it’s only more treacherous.

Those of us who are familiar with the emir’s immediate past antecedents aren’t the least bit surprised. He is a thoroughgoing neoliberal theologist who was one the most vociferous enablers and defenders of Goodluck Jonathan’s fuel price increase in 2012. In defending the increase, he protested that it was diesel, not petrol, that powered generators and that Nigerians should stop whining about how the increase in the pump price of petrol would deprive them of electricity.

When his attention was drawn to the fact that only “subsidized” and privileged “big men” like him use diesel-powered generators, he backed down and apologized. As I wrote in 2012, I found it remarkably telling that until 2012, Sanusi had not the vaguest idea that the majority of Nigerians use petrol-powered generators to get electricity for themselves. “Yet it is people like this who make policies that affect the lives of the vast majority of our people who are desperately poor. Why won’t there be a vast disconnect between policies and people when the people who make the policies live in a vastly different world from the rest of us?” I wrote.

In a September 1, 2012 article titled, “Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s Unwanted 5000 Naira Notes” I described him as “one of the most insensitive, out-of-touch bureaucrats to ever walk Nigeria’s corridors of power.”

If you are a poor or economically insecure middle-class person who is writhing in pain amid this economic downtown, don’t be deceived into thinking that Emir Sanusi is on your side. He is not. His disagreements with Buhari have nothing to do with you or your plight. If he has his way, you would be dead by now because the IMF/World Bank neoliberal theology he evangelizes has no care for poor, vulnerable people. So disband those “camps.”

What we should tell the emir and whoever in the world is Buhari’s economic adviser is that no country on earth has ever made economic progress on the basis of World Bank/IMF prescriptions. None whatsoever. As David Held and Anthony McGrew pointed in their book, Globalization/Anti-Globalization: Beyond the Great Divide, “Developing countries that have benefited most from globalization are those that have not played by the rules of the standard [neo]liberal market approach, including China, India and Vietnam” (p. 226).

Yet the emir wants government to basically return to IBB’s SAP era, which entailed rolling back the state (without, of course, rolling back the lavish, unearned privileges of the buccaneers of the state), privatization of public enterprises, retrenchment of workers, devaluation of the national currency, increase in taxes for the poor and middle classes, withdrawal of subsidies, and other obnoxious, suffocating economic policies.

But when the United States went into a recession between 2007 and 2009, it didn’t follow any of these neoliberal prescriptions. The dollar wasn’t devalued. Subsidies weren’t removed. The state wasn’t rolled back. Government didn’t retrench workers. Taxes weren’t raised. On the contrary, government increased expenditure. The financial burden on the populace was eased with lower taxes.  Government, in fact, sent lots of money, called tax rebate checks, to lower- and middle-income families so they could have money to spend, since recession is essentially the consequence of people not having enough money to spend. I was a beneficiary of the tax rebate, so I know what I am talking about. Financially distraught private companies (particularly car manufacturers and banks) were bailed out by the government.

These policies fly in the face of the neoliberal canard spouted by the emir and his ilk: that government should step back and leave market forces to regulate society unaided.

Buhari, please just do nothing!

I used to say that it was impossible for any Nigerian president to be worse than Jonathan. That was how much I despised him. So in May 2015, I started out investing enormous hopes in Buhari to transform Nigeria and to build enduring institutions. After waiting 6 months to appoint a predictable, lackluster cabinet, it became clear to me that my hopes were misplaced, that Buhari wasn’t prepared to be president, so I scaled backed my expectations and hoped that Buhari would at least be minimally better than Jonathan.

But when Buhari hiked fuel prices, reversed the few miserly subsidies that sustained the poor, and became prisoner of the “Washington Consensus,” I scaled back my expectations again and hoped that Buhari would be just as bad as Jonathan was.

When his government’s incredibly inept husbandry of the economy continued to deepen the recession it instigated in the first place with its wrongheaded policies, I hoped that Buhari would just be slightly worse than Jonathan for the sake of Nigeria’s survival.

Now with the unceasing rash of counter-intuitive, mutually contradictory, insanely irrational, and thoughtless policy prescriptions from this government every day, the very foundation of the country is tanking before our very eyes, and I just hope Buhari never does anything again till 2019 when his tenure will expire—and with it the torment he is inflicting on Nigeria. A stagnant, do-nothing Buhari is now better for the country than this madness we’re witnessing! Nigeria is fast sinking to the nadir of despair and ruination.

Boko Haram: U.S. Lawmakers Okay Five-year Strategy To Assist Nigeria

The United States House of Representatives has passed a legislation directing the country’s Secretaries of State and Defence to jointly develop a five-year strategy to assist Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram.

The measure is also aimed at providing assistance to members of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and international partners offering support in counter-terrorism operations against the Boko Haram sect in the region.

According to reports, the legislation, passed by a voice vote, was introduced by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Florida) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine).

They expressed optimism that it would help combat Boko Haram specifically. The strategy is also aimed at addressing the crushing humanitarian and educational crises that Boko Haram had created.

“Boko Haram captured my attention and the headlines when the terrorist group kidnapped 276 Nigerian schoolgirls from their dormitory rooms 968 days ago. For most of the world, the Chibok girls symbolised the horror that is Boko Haram, but the damage its members have wrought goes far deeper,” Congresswoman Wilson, wa quoted as saying in a statement.

Collins, who authored and originally introduced the bill, averred that Boko Haram had pledged allegiance to ISIS and it continued to commit terrible acts of brutal violence against civilians in Nigeria as well as in Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic.

Collins, describing Wilson as a willing and able partner in the effort to pass the bipartisan legislation, explained that it requires a five-year strategy to pursue Boko Haram and it would bolster efforts of the U.S. throughout the region.

Any support from the United States will be welcomed by the Nigerian government, even though heightened counter-terrorism operations have decimated the terrorists, who still carry out suicide attacks on soft targets.

The military said few days ago that it has commenced final rescue operations in Sambisa Forest, a safe haven for the terrorists that have forced over two million persons out of their homes in their over seven years push for an Islamic State and an end to Western education in the region.

Is Buhari Out Of Sync With Nigerians? – By Adewale Giwa

Many people believe that the emergence of the opposition All Progressives Party (APC) will find a lasting solution to Nigeria’s woes. But, as it is, people who are not parochial in analyzing issues could easily conclude that the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is not showing any positive sign in tackling the nation’s challenges. This opinion of mine might not go down well with APC supporters/sympathizers who are out there to deceive and defend the government despite the agony that citizens of the country are passing through.


It is approaching two years since Buhari was sworn in as president to lead the country for four years, and things seem to be worse than they were during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. From the onset of his presidency, Buhari has blamed Jonathan for the poor economic state of the country.


Eighteen months later, Buhari continues to hold Jonathan responsible for the mess Nigeria is in. Someone needs to tell Buhari to stop the blame game and swing into action. Time waits for no one. If it takes President Buhari almost two years to complain, how long will it take him to begin to address the numerous challenges facing the country? Is the body language of Buhari not telling Nigerians that ‘A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame someone else?”


Political observers in the country can paradoxically conclude that whoever criticizes Mr. President will be made to face the consequences. No wonder those present and past politicians who had skeleton in their cupboards cannot talk because it is widely believed that Buhari exiles politicians who dare to criticize his government.


However, it is high time for Nigerians who have no bad criminal record to tell Mr. President to wake up and quickly proffer solutions to the nation’s distress. Journalists, they say, are the ‘watchdog of the society’. If a common man on a street refuses to voice out, it is the duty of journalists to challenge any weak government to save the souls of people. To tell the truth, Nigerians are facing very hard times. This is to say ‘BI O SE N SE OMO ENIYAN NA LO N SE ERANKO’, meaning, ‘As it affects animals, so it affects humans’.


It is time to tell our President that Nigerians can no longer feed their pets let alone feeding themselves. At times, I do think that maybe the president is no longer in Nigeria or he has gone away on a permanent assignment without any consideration to the plight of his people. Is this how we are going to continue with this horrible situation? Is it not better for Nigerians to tell Mr. President that he should put 2019 ambition aside and focus on effective leadership?


As a political animal by nature, I pondered on the possibility of the APC transforming Nigeria with laudable programmes. Rather, I am reminded of the painful reality that we are facing under Buhari’s regime.


It is worrisome that since the inception of the APC in May 30, 2015, almost two years now, Nigeria has been struggling to survive as a nation. To make matters worse, the present administration of APC has placed a ban on the importation of rice which is a staple food.


Mr. President, Is there any offense committed by Nigerians that has warranted this unfortunate bitter experience? Should the president say Nigerians did not show him love by voting him into power? Should Nigeria now blame herself for voting the APC into power?


If the president would be kind enough to let Nigerians know their wrongs, then, there is need to send some notable delegations of foremost traditional rulers so as to pacify him with a view to coming out from this unfortunate mess. The president must also know that Nigerians can no longer bear the agony they are presently experiencing. If peradventure, President Buhari fails to fix the nation’s economy for four years, Nigerians are begging him to yield to the advice of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi who said the solution to Nigeria’ s problems was to split completely. This assertion of the late Gaddafi might sound unpolitical but it is a fact that if the situation persists without seeing the solution(s), disintegration policy should be adopted.


Recall that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under that previous administration also made life inconvenient for Nigerians, but the scenario has grown worse under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. A great leader is someone who cares for and makes sacrifices for his people. Buhari has not shown that he is the leader Nigerians are seeking.


It seems what a British political theorist, Harold Joseph Laski, said about governance has continued to manifest in Nigeria. Laski, in his political theory, argued that it is better for a country to not have a government at all rather than a government under which the people continue to suffer. I think it is high time we looked at it from the angle that why do we have a government in power, yet the situation remains the same.


We should also ask ourselves why is it that what we have been hearing from political leaders is propaganda that cannot stand the test of time? Why has government failed to stabilize electricity in Nigeria since 1960? Why is it that the government of Nigeria does not safeguard the future of her children? Why is it that the same sect of people that ruled in the past are still ruling today in Nigeria? We have heard and seen how PDP government has failed Nigerians since 1999.


But, what can we now say about the APC that portrays to be a good political party, yet it has failed to change people’s lives for the better? What is the vision of the APC in Education in Nigeria? What are the APC governors doing to really actualize the democratic system of the country? What is the APC doing about improving the nation’s infrastructures? In what way do we agree with APC under president Buhari that it will bring change to the Nation’s democracy? Do not forget that Nigerians are crying for what to eat every day. What is the APC government doing to address unemployment the country? Is the Party fighting corruption truly, considering billions of Naira wasting to retain or get power in many states in Nigeria during elections? So, is there any difference between APC and PDP in terms of implementing positive programmes, in terms of ideas and visions? Are the two political parties not playing politics of ”chop make I chop”? Who will save Nigerians?


Please join me in telling our political leaders starting with Mr. Buhari to put Nigeria first in all their endeavors.

How Nigeria’s economic challenges affect West Africa – ECOWAS

The depreciation of the naira and other economic challenges affecting member states have slowed down ECOWAS economic integration and the adoption of a single currency, the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports.

This was one of the main issues discussed at the technical meeting of the ECOWAS Macroeconomic Policy Committee on Multilateral Surveillance in Abuja on Thursday.

The out-going Chairperson of the committee, Ommy Sar Ndaiye, said that it was pertinent for member states to develop strategies to address the prevailing economic challenges.

Ms. Ndaiye, however, noted that the commission had made progress in its macroeconomic policies.

“The depreciation in value of the naira and other economic factors in Nigeria are affecting ECOWAS.

“We all know that whatever happens in Nigeria weighs heavily on our economies.

“If there are challenges there, it would reflect on the region,” she said.

She urged the committee to make recommendations that would strengthen sub-regional economic integration and development that could also be implemented through the economic policies of member states.

The ECOWAS Commissioner, Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Research, Mamadou Traore, said that the 2015 report on the macroeconomic convergence for the region showed a slowdown the growth of the economy compared to 2014.

Mr. Traore said the lack of raw materials, poor state of infrastructural development in member states and the depreciation in value of the naira contributed to the slow growth rate.

He said that that despite measures put in place by the commission, the ECOWAS economy “is still vulnerable to external shocks”.

He called on member countries to do in-depth analyses to determine the growth factors that made the sub-region vulnerable.

“Member states should get an update of implementation of the ECOWAS single currency programme.

“The deadline for the adoption of single currency is fast approaching; this committee should set an agenda to look into the progress made so far and identify challenges that may hinder its smooth operation.”

He urged member states to regularly update their databases on measures that drive economic growth in their countries.

The commissioner stated that the two-day meeting would review the 2015 report, evaluate and make recommendations that would drive the economies of member states.

He also said that the meeting would discuss the status of the implementation of the ECOWAS Common external Tariff.

NAN reports that ECOWAS has set 2020 to achieve the adoption of a single currency for the region.

Udoma Udo Udoma: Nigeria needs oil to get out of oil-propelled economy

Udoma Udo Udoma, minister of budget and national planning, says Nigeria needs revenue from crude oil to diversify its economy.

In a statement issued by Akpandem James, his media aide, on Thursday, the minister said the country’s immediate priority was to get oil production output back to the desired level to secure revenue needed to diversify the economy.

He told the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) regional director for Africa, Abdoulaye Mar Deiye, in Abuja, that “although the country is focused on diversification of its economy, it needs oil to get out of the oil-propelled economy”.

He explained that though the global slump in oil prices introduced some shocks that affected the country’s economy, the immediate reason for the slump into recession was the massive reduction in output caused by militancy in the oil-bearing Niger Delta region.

While exploring a number of engagements that would ensure the return of normal production activities in the region, Udoma said government was intensely focused on a long term economic agenda that would ensure sustainable economic growth and development.

He also briefed the visiting UNDP regional director on the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NERGP) that is currently being finalised by the federal government.

Her acknowledged the support of the UNDP, particularly in the area of technical assistance, including capacity building and the humanitarian situation in the northeast.

In his response, Deiye expressed delight that the ministry of budget and national planning was given the coordinating role of the situation in the northeast and indicated the UNDP’s willingness to support the ministry to ensure success in its defined goals.

He said UNDP was aware of the current complexity of the situation in Nigeria, particularly with respect to the security challenges and the oil price collapse, stating that the fall in oil price which is the country’s main source of revenue had also affected budget implementation.

Despite these challenges, he acknowledged that Nigeria still remains the largest economy in Africa.

China Partners With Nigeria To Boost Food Production

The Peoples Republic of China has expressed its readiness to a partnership with Nigeria to boost food production in the country.

Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria  Zhou Pingjian, who made the promise said  the support would come through the provision of loan facilities to small and medium scale farmers and manufacturers through the China Development Bank.

He spoke on Wednesday in  Abuja  when he paid a visit to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh.

Pingjian  said the bank had over N10 billion which could be loaned to farmers and manufacturers in the country to boost agricultural production.

“This visit and partnership is the aftermath of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to China.

“This loan facility will work just like the Anchor Borrowers scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“Agriculture is one of the priority areas that we want to support Nigeria,’’ he said.

Ogbeh appealed to the Chinese Government to assist the country in developing processing machines that could facilitate mechanised agriculture.

He listed some agricultural products that needed adequate processing to meet international standards.

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China partners with Nigeria to boost food production

Map Ranks Pakistan Best At Gay Porn, See What Nigeria Is Ranked For

New map has “revealed” what every country is best at, throwing up some shocking pair up that will leave some countries “red in the face”. For instance, the map ranks Pakistan as best at gay porn and Honduras for murder, while Libya is in for fat child.

Nigeria, often ranked for undesirable things, however, claims a positive spot, ranking for… wait for it… Scrabble players.

The United Kingdom is for the billionaires, Togo for unhappiness, and Sudan beats Nigeria to rank for oil dependency.

According to the map, Zimbabwe is best at languages (sorry, Robert Mugabe), South Africa shows up with death and Swaziland for HIV.

The map is designed and published by Information Is Beautiful, a visual website “dedicated to distilling the world’s data, information and knowledge into beautiful, interesting and, above all, useful visualisations, infographics and diagrams”.

The map, entitled “International number ones… because every country is best at something”, relies on data from the CIA, the World Bank, UN, Bloomberg and Forbes, among others.


Credit: punchng

It’s risky to talk about Nigeria now, says Jonathan

Former President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday at Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta State, said it is unsafe to talk about events and situation of things in Nigeria.

The reluctance of the former president to speak on national issues raises concern about his standing with the incumbent administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, which has accused many of his ministers, aides and party men of barefaced corruption during his six years of governance.

Against Buhari’s sustained onslaught, the expectation is for Jonathan to offer some explanation to dispel the heavy charge of corruption against him and his government. But the ex-President in pleading his constraints, said so much by saying nothing.

Jonathan who was special guest of honour at the presentation of staff of office to the 26th Pere of Gbaramatu Kingdom, HRM Oboro Gbaraun II Aketekpe, Agadagba, said the country is passing through serious challenges and that making comments now about it is not the best thing to do.

He said Gbaramatu has been so associated with violence and militancy that most people would not believe that such a ceremony would be held peacefully in the kingdom. Jonathan said Nigeria is a country of resilient people and that the challenges facing the country would soon be over.

The former President lauded the Pere of Gbaramatu and urged the monarch to use his traditional stool to enthrone peace in the kingdom.

The presentation of staff of office is a follow up to the monarch’s selection, confirmation and installation as Pere of Gbaramatu kingdom after following due process as specified under section 8 of the Traditional Rulers and Chiefs Edict of 1979 regulating succession to the throne.

Speaking during the event, the Ibe-Benemowei of Gbaramatu, Chief Godspower Gbenekama in strong terms begged the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, to use his office to stop the daily harassment and invasion of Gbaramatu people by the military.

Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho score in Champions League

The Nigerian duo of Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho were both on target for their respective clubs in the UEFA Championship League on Tuesday.


Iheanacho showed that he could fit in, in the absence of Sergio Aguero, by scoring Manchester City’s only goal in their 1-1 draw against Celtic FC.


The Citizens conceded an early goal in the fourth minute but Iheanacho was on hand to restore parity in the 8th minute of the encounter that took place at the Etihad stadium.


Regardless of the outcome, Manchester City finished as runners up behind Barcelona who ended the group stage on a high with a 4-0 bashing of Borussia Monchengladbach.


In the other game, Iwobi scored for Arsenal in their 4-1 win over Swiss side, Basel.


The goal will be a confidence booster for Iwobi who scored an own goal last time out against PSG.
The Gunners finished top in group as PSG could only manage a draw in their own game.

Nigeria commences process to make visa issuance easier

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday in Abuja reiterated call for a change in the nation’s visa administration to encourage tourists and investors.

The minister made the call when he received Jim Flannery, an international advisor to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, UNTWO.

The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that the advisor was sent by UNWTO to assist in the review of Nigeria Tourism Master Plan.

The minister stressed that a new regime that allowed for easy access to visa for tourists and investors at point of entry was required for the tourism sector to grow.

He said he was glad that government had set up a committee on the ease of doing business which would look into it.

The minister also underscored the need for the nation to do away with bureaucracy and encourage full participation of the private sector in growing the tourism industry.

“We must begin to understand that tourism is the new oil that we have failed to discover and exploit.

“It is shocking that Nigeria with a population of about 170 million people and land mass of about one million sq km has only two world heritage sites.

“Whereas, Italy with population of about 50 million people has 51 world heritage sites.

“What that means is that people will not come to our country unless they see what they can be attracted to.

“That explains why France attracted 120 million tourists last year, while the whole of Africa attracted less than 50 million and why three out of five jobs in Italy, three are from the creative industry.

“This figure will show you the importance of tourism and Nigeria is the new tourists destination and we really need to work together to harness the potential in the industry,” he said.

The minister said he was glad to receive the UNWTO delegate whose coming was a fall out of his trip to the headquarters of the world tourism body in Madrid, Spain in July.

The minister recalled that during the visit, the UNWTO agreed to send an expert to help in the review of tourism master plan and to partner in revising the Presidential Council on Tourism.

He said the organisation also promised to assist in organising international conference with the theme; “Tourism as a Tool for Peace’’ in Maiduguri and train women on capacity building in tourism.

The minister urged members of the review committee to cooperate and work with Flanker for a successful review of the master plan.

He said in the course of his stay, Mr. Flannery would meet with major donors like World Bank and UNDP to exploit how they could assist the country in implementing the master plan.

Earlier, Mr. Flannery said the review of the master plan drafted about 10 years ago would not be a total jettison of the existing one.

“We are not here to write a new master plan, because we have a very expansive document before us that has never been implemented.

“This time, our attitude will be let us break it down to smaller steps and identify what can be done quickly to open new products and create  new markets.’’

He said that unlike the manufacturing industry, tourism does not need special technical knowhow and huge investment to start.

He noted that tourism was a very viable industry that most countries were now realising and benefitting from and Nigeria would not regret the action taken to reposition the sector.

INTERVIEW: Buhari should invite Trump to Nigeria – American Policy Expert

Jennifer Cooke is a director of the Africa Program at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS.

An expert on Nigerian and African affairs, Ms. Cooke manages a range of projects on political, economic, and security dynamics in Africa, providing research and analysis to U.S. policymakers, members of Congress, and the U.S. military, as well as the broader public.

She spoke to Ladi Olorunyomi, the head of the PREMIUM TIMES Washington Bureau, on the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President-elect and his possible plans for Nigeria and Africa.

PT: During the campaign, it seems like there was no mention of Africa at all. Going forward now, what should Africa expect from the Trump administration?

Cooke: Just as an aside, the one issue that did come up was Benghazi and that was pointed out as a failure of Clinton. I think it’s very hard to predict right now what the Trump foreign policy is going to look like. He’s never expressed any interest in Africa as a business opportunity or as a political pitch. I just think he has pretty much zero knowledge of the continent in terms of the current issues and things that are happening. That said, we don’t know who he will put in place as the Secretary of State, that is one thing. The other is that, the presidents change but there is a massive bureaucracy that kind of continues on, the State Department, USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, PEPFAR, all of those are institutions now that will carry forward. Now leadership change may seem toxic for tenure in some ways, I think people were very dubious about what President [George W.] Bush might do in Africa and he ended up having a very good record. We don’t know what Trump’s interests are because we have no idea what his foreign policy looks like but there is this major bureaucracy, the State Department, USAID and various institutions. There is the Defense Department interest in, kind of, an expanding military presence within Africa to fight violent extremism and then finally, on a positive note, there has been fairly strong bi-partisan support in Congress for African initiatives, whether it’s on peacekeeping, whether it’s Power Africa, Electrify Africa, AGOA. There has been a coalition within Congress that is not Republican or Democratic that has kind of sustained interest and funding for Africa. My expectation is that the security interest will be the one thing that captures the President’s attention if at all, there are some other factors that may mean a dramatic change in African policy.

PT: One of the anxieties in Nigeria now about the Trump presidency is about MNJTF, the coalition that is fighting Boko Haram which the U.S. has been very supportive of. Trump said something about decreasing the U.S. footprint in security affairs around the world, so there is this anxiety about what he will do about Boko Haram.

Cooke: That’s interesting because my fear will be the flip side of that. A number of his leading appointments have been military officials and he will be advised by them on U.S. ongoing engagement. There are some things the president does not turn on a dime, that is one thing. The second is that in global terms, U.S. support for counter-terrorism in the Sahel and northern Nigeria is keener compared to the footprints elsewhere in the world. That would not be the first place, I think, that things will shake out. You might say, disentangle from places like the South Sudan but MNJTF is kind of one of the smaller U.S. military commitments. My concern is that he would look at security issues in Nigeria and the Sahel through a strictly military lens. I think it is going to be very important to convince him and to convince the advisers around him that Boko Haram and groups like it cannot be dealt with through solely military means. That’s why governance, economic development, job creation, those are the things, they are harder to do, they take a long time but those are the things that ultimately turn the tide. And that’s my worry, that they won’t see the need for a more comprehensive approach to ultimately defeat terrorists, whether in Nigeria or elsewhere.

PT: Do you think President Buhari should invite President Trump to visit Nigeria?

Cooke: I absolutely think he should, I don’t know whether he will though, or whether he will go. I think the more exposure President Trump can get to different parts of the world, to different perspectives than the purely commercial view he’s got will be very important. But I just can’t imagine that Africa will be very high on his priority list.

PT:  And around Africa, there is also the fear that the Trump administration might decide to tamper with AGOA given what he said about trade deals during the campaign.

Cooke: Yes, but he can’t just overturn a law, that would have to have a strong congressional support. Where he might be harder is on a place like South Africa, I don’t know if you followed the whole chicken business [South African restriction on chicken import from the United States] …

PT: Yes, I did …

Cooke: I think there, he might be less willing to cut a place like South Africa a slack, because in some ways, South Africa was giving Europe, Brazil and China better opportunities than it was giving to the United States. So he might press for harder terms when issues come up but he can’t just reverse a law that is in place, and not without strong congressional support.

PT: So we just have to wait and see …

Cooke: Nobody knows what it is going to look like, yes you have to wait and see. You can only judge from the things he’s done and the things he’s said so far. But then President Bush surprised us on Africa …

PT: Yes, but Bush had political experience and good intentions …

Cooke: … and people around him.

PT: … yes, Trump seems to have just began building his coalition, his team.

Cooke: … and the people he is picking are not strong policy pundits …

PT: … that is the fear, Nigeria is at a very delicate position now. The kind of support Nigeria needs from the United States now is not some kind of reversal or hotchpotch policy, we need something integrated, wholesome and solid.

Cooke: The one good thing about Africa not getting that much attention from the President is that the State Department, USAID and the African Command would kind of keep doing what they are doing under the radar. If Africa were a huge priority for the President, then we might see some big changes. But it’s kind of so low that those bureaucracies, those institutions and those engagements that are going on now will likely just carry on in a lot of ways.

Power – FG to generate 7000mw soon

Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, on Sunday gave the assurance that the Federal Government would soon generate 7000 megawatts (MW) of power.

Akande said this when he appeared on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja that government was working assiduously to step up power generation from 5000mw to 7000 mw.

He said that the country began to experience low electricity supply due to pipeline vandalism and the bombings in the Niger Delta region.

“When the administration came in as a matter of fact we were doing less than 300mw.

“So we were not doing 5000 mw when we came in; actually, we were the ones that took it to 5000 mw for the first time in the history of this country.

“In February, we took it to 5000 mw but unfortunately it was that same February that the bombing of the oil pipelines started, so it brought down the output.

“So, what is being done now is what is called incremental power to try to see how we can in different ways increase the output in power.

“So a lot of transmission facilities and infrastructure for power are being rejuvenated, trying to tap more from gas.

“So, you are going to be seeing more of gas-to-power, government is rejuvenating quite a number of them, ” he said.

He said that the Federal Government had signed Memorandum of Understanding with companies that would supply gas that would ultimately increase the output to 500 mw.

Akande said that by rejuvenating some of the transmission facilities and infrastructure government was doing what is called “incremental power”  in order to bring up the megawatt.

He said government would be carrying these processes in the geo-pollical zones of the country in order to provide constant and sustainable electricity to the people.

“We are doing what is called “incremental power ,” try and bring up the megawatt output, we believed that very soon we will be doing about 7000mw as power is critical to economic growth of country.

“Government is working, it is one of the areas we are working very diligently on a daily basis to sort out the problems,’’ he said.

He said that there were plans also by government to effect public, private partnership to ensure that Mambila project came on stream in power generation.

On the issues of idle power plants Akande explained that the truth was that “a lot of those plants, facilities are just there and not being utilized.

“The power plants are all disconnected and we are trying to fix them so that the plants will bring significant increment to the output.

“So, government is trying to see how this problem can be solved and we believed that there would be an improvement in power sector,’’ he said.

How Neglect Of Solid Minerals Robs Nigeria N8trn Yearly

The recent figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) rating youth unemployment/underemployment at 49.9 per cent, unemployment at 13.3 per cent and underemployment call for concern, considering the state of neglect of the country’s solid minerals sector, which is said to be capable of providing over 500,000 direct and indirect jobs.
A study commissioned by the United Nations Industrial Development Council (UNIDO) led by a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Femi  Bamiro, had proved that there are mineral resources in each of the 774 local councils in the country.
The Nigerian Extractive Industries and Transparency Initiative, (NEITI ) report suggests that there are about 40 different kinds of solid minerals and precious metals buried in Nigerian soil waiting to be exploited. The commercial value of Nigeria’s solid minerals is estimated to run into hundreds of trillions of dollars, with 70 per cent of these buried in the bowels of Northern Nigeria.
But despite these potential, the Nigerian solid minerals sector has performed below expectation, contributing 0.3 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Synopsis of NEITI 2013 audit report
According to the Minister of Solid Minerals, Mr. Kayode Fayemi, 619 entities made payments to the government in 2013 but the 2013 solid minerals audit reconciled payments by only 65 entities (63 companies and two buying centres) that made payments of N2 million and above. These 65 entities (10.5 per cent of 619) accounted for 90.49 per cent of the total payments for 2013 and six government agencies were covered by the audit.
Total production across the solid minerals sector increased to 46,280,996 tonnes in 2013 as against 37,808,063 tonnes in 2012. The 19 per cent increase was attributed to a 33 per cent rise in limestone production from 18 million tonnes in 2012 to 24 million tonnes in 2013. Also, solid minerals sector accounted for an average of 0.09 per cent of total export earnings for 2013 compared to 0.02 per cent for 2012, with lead ores accounting for over 50 per cent of the value of all solid minerals sector exports for 2013.
Low revenue flows to government
The NEITI report espoused further that a meagre N33.86 billion accrued to the Federation Account from solid minerals sector in 2013. Out of this, payments from cement manufacturing companies accounted for N30.47 billion (89.98 per cent); construction companies, N1.98 billion (5.83 per cent); mining and quarrying companies, N1.42 billion (4.19 per cent).
Stakeholders express concern
President of Miners’ Empowerment Association of Nigeria, Mr. Sunny Ekosin, disclosed that Nigeria loses a whopping N8 trillion annually in unexploited gold alone.  He also said that Ajaokuta remains the key to Nigeria’s industrialisation and that getting it back to work is a matter of patriotism for President Muhammadu Buhari and his team.
Ekosin had in a recent interview said: “If Nigerians were taking data seriously, we would have built a database, where we have authentic information. In 2012, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Steel came before the nation and said that from our precious metals, specifically from gold exploitation alone, Nigeria is losing N8 trillion ($50 billion) annually.”
According to him, the failure of Nigeria, since independence in 1960, to put in place a structure that will make the benefits of the exploitation of solid minerals available to all Nigerians has been the bane of the nation.
Regrettably, he said at the moment mining of minerals in Nigeria accounts for only 0.3 per cent of its GDP due to the influence of oil resources.
The domestic mining industry, he said, is underdeveloped, leading to Nigeria having to import commodities it could produce domestically, such as salt or iron sheets and billets.
According to NEITI’s audit findings, solid mineral deposits are spread all over Nigeria, with more deposits in certain areas than others. Over 40 million tonnes of talc deposits have been identified in Niger, Osun, Kogi, Ogun and Kaduna states.
He explained that there are huge deposits of coal ranging from bituminous to lignite in the Anambra Basin of South-Eastern Nigeria.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Laurel School of Mines, Mr. Tope Adebanjo, said if Nigeria channels the required efforts towards gemstone development, the industry is capable of turning the fortunes of the economy around, maintaining that the multi-billion dollar industry has transformed many economies of the world.

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Gowon, Obasanjo, Shonekan, Osinbajo Pray for Nigeria at Villa Chapel Thanksgiving

Aso Villa Chapel yesterday organised its annual end of the year thanksgiving service with former Heads of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ernest Shonekan in attendance.

The service, which took place in the chapel, was also attended by former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme, former Chief of General Staff Rear Admiral Ebitu Ukiwe, Gen. Oladipo Diya and the host, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

Osinbajo said the service was an exciting time to thank God for all he had done for the country during the year.

“Today is a special thanksgiving for the end of the year and as you have seen, all the former presidents and vice-presidents are here for the special thanksgiving service.

“They have been specially invited to come, we also expected former President Jonathan but unfortunately, he had to cancel at the last moment.

“So we are all extremely excited that we have been able to bring everyone together to thank God for our nation and to give Him thanks for the great future ahead of us,’’ he said.

Gowon said he was delighted to be at the service with other former colleagues and thanked Osinbajo for facilitating his attendance.

Gowon said he was more excited with the children who came also to do their thanksgiving and prayed to God to bless the children in a special way.

He enjoined the children to keep the faith with other Christians and “to always make sure that we keep this country one and together’’.

He urged Christians to love every Nigerian in spite of their faith following the injunction of Jesus Christ to love their neighbour.

“Our neighbours are Christians, Muslims, traditional religions etc. Whatever we do, we make sure that we live up to the expectation of what Christ expects of us,’’ he said.

Gowon prayed for President Muhammadu Buhari, Osinbajo, the entire presidency and Nigerians and asked God to give the leadership the guidance to administer the country according to His will.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, thanked the vice-president and organisers of the service for bringing the past and present leaders to the service.

He said the nation was expecting good lead from the leadership in the coming year, noting that the event was meant specifically to thank God for helping the country to steer its economy.

Enang said the year was almost gone and that the budget for next year would soon be presented.

Read More: thisdaylive

SR: How SSS Tortured Man To Death, Paid Family N15m To Keep Quiet

After “torturing” a man to death, Nigeria’s secret police, SSS, exploited the influence of the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, to pay a paltry N15 million compensation to the victim’s family, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.

At about 2.30 a.m. on April 4, SSS operatives on the trail of a suspect accused of cloning the phone number of the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, stormed No 37, Aje Street, Pleasure, in the Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos in commando style.

Residents of the address said the operatives scaled the fence of the compound, screaming and threatening as they knocked down doors and shattered ceilings. They rough-handled residents, who thought they were armed robbers as they did not introduce themselves, dragged them from their beds, ordered them out of their apartments and forced them to sit on the dusty ground of the compound.

About an hour later, when they were done harassing the residents, Saheed Eyitayo, 34, a friend to the suspect the operatives were looking for, laid in the dust motionless – beaten to a pulp by the operatives.

One resident, who described the entire experience as “nightmarish,” told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Eyitayo was so battered that he couldn’t stand unaided – three operatives had to drag his him into one of the vans the armed men brought with them.

Unfortunately, that was the last time he would be seen alive in public.

The operatives were led to the residence by Adejoke Ogunbona, the wife of the wanted man, Rilwanu Jamiu. While on the run for the alleged crime, Mr. Jamiu, who is now facing trial alongside another suspect, had spent few days at Mr. Eyitayo’s apartment before moving on to another place in the Oke Aro area of Lagos, where he was eventually arrested.

It is not clear if Mr. Eyitayo knew his friend was a fugitive when he allowed him to stay at his apartment.

Mr. Jamiu’s wife had visited her husband while he was hiding at Mr. Eyitayo’s apartment. Though she later confessed that even though she knew her husband was no longer at Mr. Eyitayo’s apartment, she took the SSS operatives there.

Suspicious death

Three days after the raid, the SSS invited Mr. Eyitayo’s landlord, Mathew Sobiye, to the Lagos office in Shangisha and told him, for the first time, that they had carried out the raid on his compound and that Mr. Eyitayo was dead.

They warned him not to disclose this to anyone, the Septuagenarian said.

The SSS claimed Mr. Eyitayo was resisting arrest on the night of the raid and tried to jump from the moving van as he was being conveyed to their office. They said he died from injuries sustained in the process.

But Mr. Eyitayo’s family would have none of that. They claimed that from account of fellow tenants at his Pleasure residence, he was already unconscious when he was handcuffed and carried into the waiting van.

They wondered how an unconscious man in chains could overpower several SSS operatives and jump to his death. They said if the SSS had nothing to hide, it shouldn’t have waited for 19 days before formally informing them of Mr. Eyitayo’s death.

Michael Lasisi, one of Mr. Eyitayo’s relatives, told PREMIUM TIMES that the SSS waited that long because they were trying to perfect a fabricated story to hide the fact that they tortured Mr. Eyitayo to death.

“We had gone to the SSS office several times, and they told us ‘come back you cannot see him.’ Until finally on the 23rd (of April), 19 days after he was killed, they now told one of my brothers Oyetunji that he had died. Meanwhile they had told the landlord not to tell anybody that he had died.

“They did that so as the days elapsed they would be able to manufacture lies to cover up the official criminality. They could not tell us what he has done. They said his friend was part of those who cloned the governor’s number. They traced the friend to his house but they did not see him.

At a meeting between Mr. Eyitayo’s family and the SSS on May 3 at their Shangisha office, angered by an SSS attempt to implicate Mr. Eyitayo in the number cloning scam, Mr. Lasisi and other family members walked out on the officials of the secret service threatening to drag the agency to court.


Not wanting the story of the alleged extrajudicial killing by its operatives out in the open, the SSS approached Mr. Akiolu, the paramount traditional monarch in Lagos, to appeal to the family of the dead man, after its original attempt to use officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice failed to assuage Mr. Eyitayo’s family.

Some members of the family said they first suspected that something was fishy when those who had resisted the antics of the Lagos State officials were exempted from the delegation to meet with Mr. Akiolu.

“I think the SSS had told the Oba that some members of the family who gave them a hard time during the initial discussion shouldn’t be allowed to be part of the negotiation. The excuse they gave was that the Oba did not want a crowd in his palace,” a family member, who sought anonymity for security reasons, said.

Several family sources present described the negotiation at the monarch’s palace as a show of shame. They said the moment the SSS offered to pay N15 million, some of the most outspoken members of the delegation suddenly became quiet.

They said Mr. Akiolu doused the flickering flame of resistance from the family members when he appealed to them to accept what the SSS was offering in order to bring a closure to the matter and stop acting like they were there to sell the body of their dead kin.

“The family lawyer put up a spirited effort to make the DSS [as the SSS is also called] pay more compensation, but members of Saheed’s family would have none of that,” an attendee at the meeting said.

“In fact, one of them was stepping on his (lawyer’s) feet and telling him not to be too hard of the DSS and to accept whatever the DSS was offering so that the matter can be settled. The lawyer was almost in tears,” another family source said.

“At a point, they even threatened to fire the lawyer if he would not agree with the decision of the family.”

“One of them said that they should accept the offer of the DSS because the body of Saheed was suffering and they needed to bury him urgently to stop the suffering,” the source said.

Another source, however, added that Mr Akiolu insisted that N10 million be given entirely to the parents of the deceased. He also insisted that the SSS must pay the lawyer’s professional fees.

According to our sources, the five million that was remaining from the compensation paid was shared among members of the deceased’s family involved in the negotiation.

Meanwhile, even as they agreed to accept the compensation, none of the victim’s family members had seen his corpse as the SSS did not disclose where it kept the body.

The family did not also press the SSS to conduct an autopsy on the deceased as required by Lagos State laws for persons who died under suspicious circumstances like Mr. Eyitayo

“The DSS did not allow the family see the corpse of the dead victim before they forced the family to reach a negotiation. That was the plan. When they finished the negotiation, they called Saheed’s uncle to come and look at the body but he was only shown his legs,” one of our sources said.


Family members who saw Mr. Eyitayo’s corpse after it was released for burial by the SSS said it dawned on them the reason the agency refused to let his family see the body before the negotiation was concluded and all documents signed.

“If you see the corpse, you would know that he was tortured and killed in a brutal manner. He had two deep cuts in the back of his head, apparently inflicted by a machete or other similar sharp objects. There were cuts and bruises all over his body,” the source said.

As part of the agreement reached with the deceased family, the SSS agreed to foot the bill for his funeral. Mr. Eyitayo’s body was carried to his hometown in Oyo for burial in the most disrespectful manner, the source said.

“If you see the way they carried his body home. They couldn’t even get a proper vehicle to deliver his body to his family.

“They got a rickety vehicle. On their way to Oyo State, the vehicle conveying his body was so old that its tyres bust twice before it got to the town. And they spent several hours on the road fixing the tyres.

“His body was not even put in a casket. He was taken home for burial in a body bag made of jute sack. The type used for keeping rice.

Babs Animashaun, the lawyer who represented the family, declined to discuss details of the negotiation when reached for comments. He however said the family has moved on after settlement.

“That is strictly confidential between the parties. I cannot share the details of the settlement with the public,” he said.

“The family agreed to settle with the SSS out of court. They can never be happy with what has happened but at least they were able to move on. That is what is important,” he added.

The SSS could not be reached for comments. The agency does not have a spokesperson, neither does it have an email address or phone number through which it can be contacted. Before the current administration, the SSS used to have a spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar, but the current leadership of the agency led by Lawal Daura, has refused to appoint one or disclose how it should be officially contacted for enquiries.

When PREMIUM TIMES visited the palace of the Oba of Lagos to ask about his role in the saga, officials requested a formal letter. About two weeks after the letter was delivered, the monarch has not responded or agreed to a formal interview.

Nigeria turns to Pakistan, China for war planes, helicopters, others

Concerned about global politics surrounding procurement of sophisticated arms from western countries, Nigerian Air Force is expecting arrival of war-planes and helicopters from Pakistan and Russia to boost its fleets.

The Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, made the disclosure at a breakfast briefing with editors of online media in Abuja at the weekend.

Mr. Abubakar said: “I want to say that we have been enjoying support from other countries. (Sometimes arm procurement) is shrouded in a lot of politics. Unfortunately, I’m not a politician, so I cannot be able to say much on that. But what I can tell you is that right now as I speak to you, we are expecting the Pakistani Chief of Air Staff in Nigeria soon. Pakistan has accepted to sell ten trainer airplanes. And that is why the Pakistan Chief of Air Staff is coming for the induction ceremony which is going to take place in Kaduna.

“We are really getting support from many countries. Similarly, we have trained so many people in Pakistan, China. In the US, we have pilots that are training right now. We have other pilots that have just finished training from the United Kingdom. We have additional pilots that are training in South Africa. We have more pilots that are training in the Egyptian Air Force and so many other places including Russia…We are really getting support”, he said.

On the competence of Nigerian fighter pilots, Mr. Abubakar said “In the last 18 months, we have flown almost 3000 hours with no incident. In terms of competence I can tell you that the Nigerian Air Force pilots are amongst the most competent. Because the training curriculum is very clear. And that is why now in the Air Force you look at the wings, pilots wear wings. We have categorized the wings according to their skill levels. We also organize simulation training for our pilots, we organize evaluation visits where pilots are evaluated without any notice. We have also sent over 700 personnel of the NAF to different parts of the world to train and acquire the skills required for them to be effective.

Mr. Abubakar said the air force is currently assisting the Nigerian Army and Navy in the North and South in countering criminal activities of terrorists and militants through operational strategy, air interdictions strategy and soft-core strategy. He explained that the main objective is to create an enabling environment for the ground and surface forces, to be able to operate with little or no hindrance.

He continued: “Another sub-strategy under this is the reactivation of airplanes. We have embarked on the reactivation of airplanes and today as I speak to you we are on the thirteenth aircraft. What I mean by reactivation is that aircrafts that were not in involved in any fight before the coming of the present federal government; they were parked before but are today part of the fight.

“The thirteenth aircraft as I speak to you is being worked upon in Yola and we are hoping that before the end of this month that airplane will be flying. When you train, you must reactivate the platform to be used in flying.”

The Air Force boss also claimed there was no helicopter crash in Makurdi. Explaining the incident involving Agusta AW 101 helicopter handed over to NAF by President Muhammadu Buhari, he said: “What happened in Makurdi was not a crash. Immediately we received the aircraft from the Presidency, we took one of them to Kaduna to paint it into desert camouflage. They removed the seal of the President and painted it into a combat machine.

“When they finished the painting, they were supposed to go to Maiduguri but they needed to go to Makurdi to pick certain things before proceeding to Maiduguri. So the aircraft took off from Kaduna, landed perfectly in Makurdi. They were just taxiing to go and park when the incident happened. I don’t want to pre-empt whatever investigation that is going on.

“Those same pilots were the ones that picked the 21 Chibok girls that were moved out in the night and brought them back to Maiduguri and from Maiduguri to Abuja. So accidents happen and we are investigating to find out why it happened and we will make it public when we get the picture of what really happened.”

The Air Marshall also disclosed that the welfare of officers in the Air Force have been improved upon through provisions of accommodation, agricultural programs, housing schemes and other welfare packages. He added that people in host communities are also beneficiaries of its services through the provisions of health facilities, water boreholes, schools and skill acquisitions centres.

Super Falcons stars celebrate 8th African title

The Super Falcons players have continued in their celebrations after they won a record eighth African title in Cameroon on Saturday.

The AWCON 2016 top scorer, Asisat Oshoala, Francesca Ordega as well as Courtney Dike have all expressed their delight following the lone goal victory against the Indomitable Lionesses on Saturday in Yaounde.

Desire Oparanozie’s solitary strike in the 84th minute was enough to help the Falcons to their eighth African title.

Oshoala who won the Golden Boot award having scored six goals stated that she is always focused on winning.

“All I do is win… win no matter what!!” the Arsenal Ladies star wrote on her Twitter handle.

On her part, Ordega gave praises to God for the triumph.

She wrote: “Congrats to me and my teammates…All I have to say is thank you God, I give you thanks and praise.”

Dike, who was not part of the squad to Cameroon, reserved special praise for four of the players.

“Congratulations to my teammates! AWCON champs once again! Super Falcons, Oshoala, Oparanozie, Ordega, Okobi,” Dike wrote on her handle.

Nigeria, Morocco To Build Gas Pipeline Link

Nigeria and Morocco on Saturday resolved to jointly promote a gas pipeline that will connect the two countries and some other African countries.

This was one of the agreement reached during the three-day visit of Moroccan King President Mohammed VI.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Geoffrey Onyema, disclosed this to reporters on Saturday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Onyema said the gas pipeline project would also accelerate energy and electrification projects across the affected member countries.

He said, “It is a great honour and privilege to read for you a communique which outlines the strategic visions that you both have for our two countries.

“On the occasion of the visit of His Majesty King Mohammed VI to Nigeria, and following the discussion with President Muhammadu Buhari in Marrackeck, on the sidelines of the Conference of the Parties (COP-22), and also in Abuja , the Kingdom of Morocco and the Federal Republic of Nigeria decided to study and take concrete steps toward the promotion of a regional gas pipeline project that will connect Nigeria’s gas resources, those of several West African countries and Morocco.”

The minister said the pipeline project would be designed with the participation of all stakeholders.

This, he explained, is meant to create a competitive regional electricity market with the potential to be connected to the European energy markets.

He said  Nigeria and Kingdom of Morocco also agreed to develop integrated industrial clusters in the sub-region in sectors such as manufacturing, Agro-business and fertilizers to attract foreign capital and improve export competitiveness.

Credit: punchng