Friday, August 31, 2012

Video - Nigeria introduces new 5,000 naira bank note

Nigeria's new 5,000-naira banknote, worth five times as much as the previous largest, has earned scorn from money changers well aware than at least 100 million citizens earn less than 160 naira per day. Likewise, economists question how the introduction of a new note dovetails with government plans to begin making Nigeria a cashless society next year. But the central bank says the country's booming economy and middle class, in addition to bank costs for handling so many small notes, make the new 5,000-naira bill a good idea.

Related stories: Video - Nigeria's population explotion

Nigeria's growing middle class

USA lists Nigeria as priority in visa issuance

The United States (US) mission in Nigeria, has disclosed that Nigeria, along with Brazil and China, are now priority in the issuance of visa to applicants.

US Consular Officer, Patty Neary, made this known yesterday in Abuja during the monthly press briefing, where he said Nigeria is now a priority alongside Brazil and China, adding that, time for issuance of visa will be reduced.

Neary stated that as a priority country, Nigeria will be given more officers and more staff to facilitate issuance of visa. She further said in the 2012 fiscal year, the US has processed over 40,000 visas, compared to the year 2011, while also saying that the US has increased the figures by 11 percent.

According to Neary, "Majority of those visas have been issued. Nigeria became a priority nation in 2012, following the recent upsurge. We are absolutely committed to facilitating legitimate travels and to do that, you need to help us."

On the issuance of student visa, Neary added that the US wants Nigerian students to study in the US, but that they have to plan ahead. Her words "They should apply 120 days before their studies begin and we encourage them to apply as soon as possible. Service fee must be paid and come, prepared to speak to us. Our goal is that every qualified student visa applicant is able to begin his or her program of study on time. Good reasons for choosing a US school should be given rather than coming to tell us about the school building, library and all that."

Neary also said there was no need to pay a tout to assist in the processing of visa, saying applicants should rather go on the internet and pay $160 for visa.

"We can't stress enough, the need for all of you to make your own appointment individually because of its importance. You do not need anyone, you do not need a company to help you process your visa," she said.

President Goodluck Jonathan promises better standard of living in 2013

President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, promised Nigerians improved standard of living by 2013 in his bid to deliver democracy dividends.

Jonathan made the promise at the inauguration of the SAB-Millers Brewery, in Onitsha, Anambra State, according to News Agency of Nigeria.

President Goodluck Jonathan official visit to Anambra State Thursday 30/8/2012. President Goodluck Jonmathan, Gov Peter Obi Opf Anambra State, Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu And Minister Of Works, Chief Mike Onolememen at the unveiling Of Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu statue in Onitsha. Photos-State House

He noted that in spite of the challenges facing the country, the private sector was still making massive progress, noting that the Federal Government would continue to support the private sector Operators and provide infrastructure to assist them.

"I want to commend this company for what it has done; I also want to commend others for what they are doing considering that fact that within this period as a nation, we know we have our challenges.

"But this administration is totally committed to changing things; we have challenges in terms of road infrastructure, power; we have that also in security and others.

"I know all these are major handicaps to the development of industry in the nation; but even under these situations the companies are trying and doing well.

"We promise you that we would change things and make sure that the private sector blossoms in this country because that is the only way we can create jobs.

"Our transformation agenda is going on, in a partnership between government and the private sector; that's' why even in our economic management team we have people from the Federal Government; state governors are there, Governors Peter Obi and Murtala Nyako and of course key captains of industry from the private sector."

Jonathan also noted that Nigeria's population of 160 million people, 70 per cent of which was made up of the youth, made it an attractive investment destination for investors.

He praised Governor Obi for deploying his private sector experience to attract investment to the state.

"I promise SABMiller breweries investors that they would not regret their investment in the country as young people under the age of 35 constitute 70 percent of the country's population and we are not under any restrictions to what they could eat or consume."

Governor Obi, in his address promised that the people of the state would support and stand with Jonathan having overwhelmingly voted for him in the 2011 Presidential elections.

The governor said with the level of private sector investments springing up, the state was fast becoming the home of Africa's greatest entrepreneurs.

Mr Mark Bowman, Managing Director of SAB-Miller Africa, expressed gratitude to the Anambra and Federal governments for creating the enabling environment for the brewery to thrive in the country.

"We are grateful for the support and infrastructure you have assisted us with and we promise that the company would deliver on its promises of job creation."

It will be recalled that SAB-Miller Breweries had invested $100 million (N15 billion) on building a green-field brewery in Onitsha in 2011.

The brewery is the highest direct investment by any group or company in the history of the South-East geo-political zone.

The factory, which is expected to produce beer and malt for a start, has 12.5 per cent share owned by indigenous entrepreneurs and 10 per cent share owned by Anambra Government.

The brewery is expected to directly employ about 750 youths and indirectly engage 4,500 people, especially through its subsidiary distribution company Interfact Nigeria Ltd.

The brewery would be taking advantage of the largest market in West Africa - Onitsha Main Market - as well as 1.5 million residents excluding thousands of visiting traders daily.

Meanwhile, Anambra State Government had announced that it would provide tax cuts and infrastructure to the brewery and other industries within the Onitsha industrial harbour.

Nigeria wins gold and sets new world record in paralympics

The medal that eluded Team Nigeria during the London 2012 Olympics came tumbling in Thursday as Nigeria's Paralympians begun their quest for medals and also to redeem the image of the country as a super power in sports. Team Nigeria's outing at the main Olympics was colourless.

Yakubu Adesokan of Nigeria celebrates setting a new world record and gold in the Men's 48kg Powerlifting on day 1 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at ExCel on August 30, 2012 in London, England.

Yakubu Adesokan struck the goldmine yesterday in a refreshing manner in Powerlifting where he also sent the World record crashing with his amazing 178 kg lift in his men's 48 category which was over three times his body weight.

Adesokan's feat was celebrated by the country's flagbearers in London Thursday as they hoped to win more medals. And back home, it was a double joy for the country that watched gleefully on television as the Falconets dumped Mexico 1-0 in a nail-biting quarter-final thriller to berth into the semi-final of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup semi final.

Sports Minister and Chairman of National Sports Commission, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi heaved a sigh of relief yesterday when the cherry news came and urged the Nigerian heros and heroines not to relent in their efforts to win more medals.

"The Minister is happy with the feat of Yakubu Adesokan in winning the first gold for Nigeria at the Paralympics and also over-joyed at his feat of breaking the World record. "It is one thing to win gold and another super feat to break the World record", the Minister's Special Adviser on Media, Julius Ogunro quoted the Minister.

Adesokan was a full 10kg ahead of silver medallist Vladimir Balynedc of Russia, while Taha Abdelmagid of Egypt claimed bronze with his 165kg effort.


USA to assist Nigeria in combating HIV with $500 million

The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Terence McCulley, on Monday in Abuja said his country had supported Nigeria with a grant of 500 million dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS and other related diseases since 2005.

McCulley said this at the inauguration of the Defence Reference Laboratory by Mrs Olusola Obada, the Minister of State for Defence, at the Mogadishu Cantonment.

He said the laboratory, which is the first of its kind in the sub-region, was funded from the grant.

"The Reference Laboratory Programme is part of our $500m assistance to Nigeria since 2005 when the partnership began between U.S. Department of Defence and your Ministry of Defence.

"The partnership between U.S. Department of Defence (DOD) and Nigeria's Ministry of Defence (NMOD) through the Walter Reed Programme (WRP-N) and the Emergency Plan Implementation Committee (EPIC) has grown strong," he said.

MCculley said the partnership was evidenced by the commissioning of a world-class Defence Reference Laboratory (DRL).

According to him, the DRL was a critical piece for health care, enabling world-class diagnostic and laboratory monitoring services for military personnel and civilian population living in the surrounding communities.

He said the DRL would continue to grow, improve health care for the community it served and become a centre for excellence in Nigeria and West Africa sub-region.

In her remarks,Obada said the commencement of full activities at the DRL would lead to great improvement in the handling of HIV programmes and ultimately translate to better care for those living with the virus.

Obada, who was represented by Dr. Evelyn Ngige, said the establishment of the DRL was in line with Mr President's Transformation Agenda in the health sector through strengthening of indigenous capabilities and a drastic reduction on dependence of facilities abroad for similar services.

"Expectedly, this facility will promote the health of our troops, thereby ensuring their combat fitness for International Peace Support Operations and internal security challenges, " she said .

The minister commended the U.S. government for the support and urged the professionals that would be making use of the laboratory to justify the confidence reposed in them.

"But the beauty of the programme is that in all the 24 sites where we have in Nigeria where we treat our troops, civilians are also taken care of and the communities near the barracks also benefit from the programme, " she added.

Also speaking, Maj.-Gen. Tahir Umar, the Chairman of Emergency Plan Implementation Committee, said the success of the sites operated by EPIC across the country had led to the need to provide a laboratory that would be able to assure quality control of all programme sites.

Umar said the establishment of the laboratory was made possible through the funding by the U.S. Defense Department and the Ministry of Defence.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Video - Lagos, a city of the 21st century

Video -Thousands homeless after forced eviction from Makoko slum in Lagos

Video - Business in Makoko, the venitian slum of Lagos

Power minister Prof. Bart Nnaji resigns

Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji, on Tuesday resigned from office amid controversies and allegations of conflict of interest in the privatisation process.

Besides being at loggerheads with Power Holding Company of Nigeria’s workers on sundry issues, he was said to have interests in two firms that submitted bids for the Afam Power Plc and the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company Plc.

The PUNCH learnt on Tuesday that Nnaji must have been pressured into resigning from the Federal Executive Council by the Presidency because of fears that the issue of conflict of interest could damage the credibility of the privatisation process, which has local and foreign investors as bidders.

The privatisation of 17 electricity firms is scheduled to be concluded in two months’ time.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan said he had accepted the resignation.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the President thanked Nnaji for his services to the nation.

It was gathered that it was when it was established that Nnaji had interest in two firms, Skipper Nigeria Limited and Eastern Electric Nigeria Limited, that the National Council on Privatisation chaired by Vice- President Namadi Sambo, decided to cancel the technical bid evaluation process conducted for the two firms.

The NCP had last Friday named seven firms as the successful bidders for five generation companies.

According to Chairman of the National Council on Privatisation’s Technical Committee, Mr. Atedo Peterside, the successful bidders qualified to take part in the financial bidding slated for September.

The preferred bidders for Ughelli Power Plant are Phoenix Electricity, Transcorp Consortium and Ampiron Power Distribution Limited.

Two bidders, CMEC Energy and GPN Nestoil Power Services Limited, were named for the Sapele Power Plant.

Only one firm each emerged successful for Geregu, Kainji and Shiroro Power Plants. They are Ampiron Power Distribution Limited, Mainstream Energy Solution Limited and North South Power Company Limited respectively.

He explained that the seven firms were chosen after scaling the 750 pass mark for the bidding process which involved submission of bids by pre-qualified bidders.

There was speculation that the NCP had been silent on the bidders that were prequalified for the Afam Power Station because of the conflict of interest that had arisen during the privatisation process.

A national newspaper had reported that Nnaji, a member of the NCP by virtue of his position as Minister of Power, had told the council that O & M Solutions of Pakistan, a member of one of the consortia bidding for Afam, had worked as a contractor for Geometric Power.

Nnaji further notified the NCP that Geometric Power had a minority stake in Eastern Electric Nigeria Limited, which had submitted technical and financial bids for Enugu Distribution Company Limited on July 31.

He also reportedly informed the council that owing to his position, he had notified President Jonathan of his company’s bid for Enugu Distribution Company, and brought it to their attention that although he had an interest in Geometric Power, he had resigned from its board and transferred his shares to a blind trust.

Following this disclosure, Nnaji was said to have excused himself from the consideration of the report of the technical bids.

Having been informed of Nnaji’s direct and indirect interest in two companies being privatised, the report said the council decided to cancel the technical evaluation that had been conducted for Afam and disbanded the evaluation team.

Reacting to the issue of conflict of interest few hours before his resignation, Nnaji said he had voluntarily on Friday, August 24 , 2012, informed other members of the National Council on Privatisation at a meeting, which considered the report on the technical evaluation of bids for generation companies. He said he had revealed to the committee that a company with which he was associated before he joined the government in 2010, was a client of a member of a consortium interested in acquiring majority shares of the Afam power plant in Rivers State.

A statement from his office then said, “The minister consequently applied to be excused from all deliberations at the meeting, and he maintained his ground despite the insistence of some of his colleagues.

“The minister ought to be commended for exemplary commitment to transparency, probity and the common good. If most public officers had been behaving like Professor Bart Nnaji , there would not have been trust deficit in Nigeria over the decades in respect of the relationship between the people and those in government. The unprecedented domestic and international investor confidence in the

Nigerian power sector is directly traceable to the personal and professional integrity of the process drivers like Professor Nnaji.

“We welcome wholeheartedly the decision of the National Council on Privatisation that bids for the Afam plant be evaluated all over again because justice should not only be done but also seen to have been done by all and sundry.’’

Before he finally threw in the towel, the former minister had also been at the receiving end of the war declared by workers of the PHCN.

The workers had opened a can of worms on some financial transactions allegedly carried out by Nnaji which reportedly drained the purse of PHCN.

They had given the embattled minister a seven-day ultimatum to explain what he did with the money running into millions of naira which they claimed was withdrawn from the firm’s coffer.

Vice-President of the National Union of Electricity Workers Employees, Mr. Etete Ntukuben, last Friday, called for a probe, not just of the PHCN superannuation account, but the entire account of the PHCN.

Ntukuben said that investigators should be brought in to take a critical look at the withdrawals by the former minister from the account of the PHCN.

“Let us have a holistic look at the PHCN account apart from the pension account; we should take a look at the minister’s withdrawals.

A lot of millions of naira have been withdrawn and given to soldiers and policemen in the guise of security maintenance,” he said.

$400 billion USD looted from Nigeria since independence

Former World Bank vice president for Africa Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, yesterday disclosed that $400 billion of Nigeria's oil revenue was either stolen or misappropriated since the country's independence in 1960.

Ezekwesili stated this while presenting a paper captioned, "Corruption, National Development, The Bar and The Judiciary" at the ongoing 52nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja.

Ezekwesili also noted that while oil accounted for about 90 per cent of the value of Nigeria's exports over 80 per cent of that money ended up in the hands of 1 per cent of the population and stressed that the fight against corruption and demand for good governance must go beyond the actions or efforts of the government.

She said: "In fact, results reveal that as much as 20 per cent of the entire capital expenditure will end up in private pockets annually. The negative effect of corruption was starkly demonstrated by the fact that based on current track record. Nigeria will miss all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets set in 2000 in spite of its natural and human resources. There is no doubt that at the heart of any progress towards meeting these goals is the quality of governance at all levels of government, yet the general perception is validated by the revealed large scale corruption in the petroleum sector especially, but not limited to the management of the subsidy scheme by all the relevant agencies of government."

Poor governance of public resources and assets in Nigeria she added is worsening at every level of government, institutions of state, the private sector and is engulfing the wider society and said a more significant impact of corruption is on the government bottom line and in the teacher-less, desk-less schools which only hint at the extent of the problem in Nigeria.

Ezekwesili revealed that "a study by the World Bank, showed that annual worldwide losses due to corruption amount to between one to four thousand US Dollars while the Global Financial Integrity estimated that between 1970 and 2008 Africa lost more than $854 billion in illicit financial outflows, an amount which is far in excess of official development inflows.

"Another report of the Transparency International (TI) put the amount of bribes companies paid politicians and other public officials in developing and transiting economies annually at $ 40 billion in 2009 and consider that Africa would constitute a major part of since we know the continent's ranking on governance in the lower regions of the TI's corruption perception index," the former minister stated

She stressed that civil society organisations like the NBA and the nation's judiciary and non state actors can play a significant role in making public budgeting more transparent and accountable and engage in the various stages of the budget process that can strengthen the oversight process and accountability in the use of public resources.

She revealed: "An independent judiciary and the bar is important for preserving the rule of law and is, therefore, the most important facet of good governance. The judicial system has an important role to play ultimately in ensuring better public governance. There is no area where the judgment of the Supreme Court has not played a significant role in the governance of any nation whether in environment, human rights, gender justice, education, minorities, police reforms among other.

"The rule of law, one of the most significant characteristics of good governance, prevails in India for example, because India has an independent judiciary that has been sustained owing to the support and assistance from an independent bar which has been fearless in advocating the cause of the underprivileged and the deprived.

So my last words is "who among you is ready to let character be their destiny? Count me in should you need a slightly learned friend" she declared.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

President Barack Obama declares Nigeria is world's next economic giant

United States President Barack Obama has declared Nigeria as the world's next economic success story, stressing that this was one of the major reasons why his government was committed to helping the country build strong democratic institutions and remove constraints to trade and investment through the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

Making this declaration at the ongoing US-Nigeria Trade and Investment Forum, an event organised by the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDOA) in Washington DC, yesterday, Obama who was represented by Ambassador Eunice Reddick, said that his country expanded opportunities for Nigeria to effectively access markets and diversify its economy beyond a narrow reliance on natural resources.

"As we support these efforts, the Diaspora can play an important role in contributing to a strong, vibrant and economically prosperous Nigeria" he noted.

Obama said his country was investing in Nigeria's success because it recognises her as a strategic center of gravity, whose success would as well be Africa's success.

The US leader also made it known that his government would encourage Nigeria in the area of private investment in the power sector as well as other sectors to help seal the promise of growth and opportunity for all Nigerians.

He added that the US government would also work to strengthen Nigeria's agriculture sector, which employs nearly 70 per cent of the country's population, by encouraging improvements in infrastructure that would facilitate agricultural growth.

America would help to liberalise Nigeria's trade policies to foster regional trade, reform the customs system to bring it in line with global best practices, and also encourage policy reforms to enable private investment in agriculture.

Speaking on the US-Nigeria Bi-national agreement, Obama said that the joint Commission has grown into a forum for frank, high-level conversations in which both nations have seen substantial reforms and mutually reinforcing initiatives implemented in Nigeria.

His words: "Some key outcomes of the Bi-national Commission so far have been successful integration of civil society into the electoral process prior to the 2011 elections, sustained and elevated dialogue with energy sector officials on energy policy, reforms to increase investment, and agreement to support the development of a civil affairs training centre in the coming year."

"Energy and Investment, the subject of one of the four working groups of the Binational Commission, is critical to Nigeria-s present and future"


Arrests made of general's daughter murder

A Yaba Chief Magistrate’s Court, Lagos, was filled to capacity on Monday as the police arraigned four suspects for the murder of Cynthia Osokogu, daughter of Maj-Gen Frank Osukogu (retd.), on July 22, 2012.

The accused – Okwumo Nwabufo (33), Ezike Olisaeloka (23), Orji Osita (32) and Maduakor Chukwunonso (25) – were charged with eight offences.

Nwabufo and Olisaeloka are students while Osita and Chukwunonso are pharmacists.

Some of the charges levelled against the accused were murder, rape, robbery, administering an obnoxious substance to the deceased without her consent.

The charge sheet read in part, “That you (accused persons) and others at large, between 9pm on July 21, 2012 and 12pm of July 22, 2012 at Room C1, Cosmilla Hotel, Lakeview Estate, Amuwo Odofin, FESTAC, Lagos, in the Magisterial District, conspired among yourselves to commit felony to wit; murder and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 231 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.

“That you (accused persons) and others at large, on the said date, unlawfully killed Cynthia Osokogu by administering her with an obnoxious substance known as Rohpynol Flunitrazepam tablets via a Ribena fruit drink, binding her hands with chain, padlock and taping her legs, neck and mouth, giving her fist blows and several human bites, tortured and strangled her to death, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 221 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

“That you (accused persons) and others at large on same date and place did unlawfully have sexual intercourse with one Cynthia Osokogu without her consent and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 258(1) of the criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.”

The accused persons were also charged with robbing the deceased of her BlackBerry phone, passport, driving licence, shoes, hand bag, artificial sex toy vibrator, three wristwatches, four rings, three pairs of earrings and other properties.

Mr. Chukwu Agwu, the police prosecutor, prayed the court to remand the accused persons in prison custody.

The Magistrate, Mr Olalekan Aka-Bashorun, said the accused persons should be remanded in prison custody pending the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The case was adjourned till October 3, 2012.

A mini-drama however unfolded outside the court room as journalists and members of the public scrambled to take pictures of the accused persons.

The lawyer of the pharmacists, who refused to identify himself, tried to prevent our correspondent from taking pictures.

“The pharmacists are not killers. Their charges were only mixed up with those of the other two suspects (Nwabufo and Olisaeloka),” he said.

Meanwhile, the Osokogu family has said Cynthia would be buried on September 7, 2012 at Bebe, Ovia Agbor, Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State.

Mrs. Joy Osokogu, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Jos, Plateau State that her daughter was “very industrious, hardworking and a respectful child.”

She advised youths to be very cautious of making friends with people that they do not know.

She said, “Youths should be very careful, especially when they are making friends on the social media. Like we have seen in the case of my daughter, such friends may have ulterior motives.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

Video - Google supports Nigerian businesses

Google is helping young entrepreneurs in Nigeria expand their businesses by putting them online.

While many legitimate ventures are launching websites and thriving as a result, the country's reputation for internet fraud remains an obstacle.

Stephen Keshi drops Obi Mikel and Osaze from Nigerian squad

Super Eagles' Head Coach, Stephen Keshi has called up Skipper Joseph Yobo and Russia-based power-playing forward Emmanuel Emenike, as well as eight other overseas-based players for next month's final 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifying match against Liberia in Monrovia.

At a meeting in the NFF Secretariat in Abuja yesterday, the former libero briefed the NFF Technical Sub-Committee on his conviction about all players on the list and it was duly approved.

Also listed are goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, defenders Efe Ambrose and Elderson Echiejile, midfielder Obiora Nwankwo and forwards Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa and Ikechukwu Uche.

Effervescent midfielder Nosa Igiebor and in-form marksman Brown Ideye complete the list of 11 players, who will team up with the home-based players that played a 0-0 draw with the Mena of Niger in an international friendly in Niamey last week.

Chairman of the NFF Technical Sub-Committee, Barrister Chris Green, said after the meeting: "Coach Keshi gave his reasons for inviting each of the players and we all agreed with him that these players are in good form presently and will do the job for Nigeria against Liberia."


Goalkeeper: Vincent Enyeama (Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel)

Defenders: Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce, Turkey); Efe Ambrose (Ashdod FC, Israel); Elderson Echiejile (Sporting Braga, Portugal)

Midfielders and Forwards: Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis, Spain); Obiora Nwankwo (Calcio Padova, Italy); Victor Moses (Wigan Athletic, England); Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Ikechukwu Uche (Villarreal, Spain); Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak Moscow, Russia); Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kyiv, Ukraine).

Presidency starts dialogue with Boko Haram

Despite denial by Boko Haram spokesman, the Presidency, yesterday emphasised that government had commenced dialogue with members of the sect, assuring Nigerians that the insurgency will soon be brought under control.

Speaking with newsmen, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said the dialogue was through third parties and not directly with Boko Haram officials.

Abati said that what President Goodluck Jonathan is asking from Nigerians as he tackles the issue through the multi-faceted levels is support.

"When government says it is already talking to Boko Haram, the form of that dialogue must be properly understood. I think a lot of people are under the impression that the dialogue involves a situation whereby government officials are sitting on one side, Boko Haram persons are sitting on the other side in an air-conditioned room and there are negotiations across the table. That is not the form of the dialogue.

"The form of the dialogue is that back room channels are being used to reach across with the sole objective of understanding what exactly the grievances of these persons are, what exactly can be done to resolve the crises, in the overall best interest of ensuring peace and stability in Nigeria and the security of life and property. And all of this is consistent with the position of the President.

"So what is called dialogue is at many levels: through back room channels and through multi-level, constructive interventions to address a difficult issue that is multi-farious".

Explaining further, the Presidential Adviser said "one thing that is noteworthy is that the Boko Haram spokesperson made it clear that they were prepared to go a step further to ensure that persons who are using the name of Boko Haram for political and criminal purposes are identified and checked. What that original statement indicated was that indeed Boko Haram has many faces. It confirms that this thing called Boko Haram is such a multi-faceted phenomenon.

"The true situation has already been stated by the Minister of Information on two different occasions. First in an interview, second through a press release, namely that the Federal Government is involved in dialogue with Boko Haram.

"You will recall that what led to this is that a spokesperson for Boko Haram issued a statement confirming that government and some leaders of Boko Haram were already discussing; in that particular statement the issues being looked at were clearly identified.

"You will recall that in one instance, during a Presidential Media Chat, President Jonathan had made it clear that the Boko Haram phenomenon, the terror phenomenon in Nigeria, is quite a novel phenomenon and that many of the persons involved in the low level insurgency are not known, they have not come forward. However if such persons should come forward, government will grant them a listening ear to know what it is that they are after.

"Again the President is on record, as having made it clear that government's approach to checking the Boko Haram insurgency is at many levels. The available option according to Mr President is not solely one of military action or police action and it is on the basis of this that he had reached out to leaders of political thought in the parts of the country that are affected.

"It is on this basis that President Jonathan held meetings with politicians from the Northern states. Because his position is that look, these people, yes they may not come forward but they are not ghosts, they live in communities. They are members of the Nigerian community, there would be persons who know them. There would be leaders in these communities, in these villages, in these towns who may have an idea and such persons needed to be carried along to assist in addressing the Boko Haram issue".

When government adopts this approach, it does not mean government is abdicating its responsibility to ensure that persons who go against the law are sanctioned.

"There is even a third level of intervention, the economic and social level of intervention. In this regard, President Jonathan has made it clear that many of the efforts being directed towards the affected parts of the country are meant, in fact to redirect the energies of the youths and this is the whole point of using the agricultural sector to transform lives, to create wealth, to create a value chain, the end of which is to create jobs and to engage young people more effectively. This government has a robust agricultural transformation programme that has been justly praised by IFAD and the World Bank".

"The Jonathan administration has been providing wider opportunities for many of the youths in the affected parts of the country to be able to go to school. No other government before now has done as much. Get them off the streets, engage them meaningfully and then of course you know that the government introduced the YouWin programme, and several other pro-people initiatives and policies.

"So, this is the issue at this stage, but one thing you should also note is that the Boko Haram as has been admitted, even by its spokespersons, is a phenomenon that has mutated. So it is not unusual that you will find a situation whereby a variant of the mutation may express a view that sounds like it's contradicting the other. What is certain is that government is considering all of this, government is taking on the issue frontally and through back room channels, with the assistance of a number of persons who have an understanding of the sociology and the character of the problem.

"You must admit of course that a lot is being achieved. Within the last one year and more, you can see that a lot has changed in terms of the knowledge that has been gained about the nature and character of the problem. A lot has been done, and a lot has been achieved in terms of the capacity of the state to deal with the problem.

What President Jonathan is asking for as his government tackles this issue from the various dimensions that we have identified, the political, the economic, the social and also, law enforcement, what he calls for, what he demands from Nigerians is support."

Joint Task Farce rescues 27 kidnapped oil workers in Bakassi

The Eastern Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy in collaboration with the Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in Calabar, Cross River State, at the weekend rescued 27 oil workers who were kidnapped in Bakassi.

A militant gang, Lactop Marine Force, in Bakassi, kidnapped 27 workers of a private oil company, Sinopec, at Ikang near the Bakassi Local Government headquarters.

It was gathered that following the incident, the JTF launched a raid on the hideout of the militants.

Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Olufemi Ogunjimi, confirmed the JTF raid and described the militant group as criminals, who had nothing to do with the group agitating for the reclaiming of Bakassi, which was ceded to Cameroon by the International Court of Justice. He said Lactop, the leader of the gang, is a criminal who runs a criminal gang which kidnaps for ransom, engages in piracy, sea robbery and killing of innocent people including uniform personnel.

Commander of JTF, Major General Johnson Ochoga, said they have been working hard to flush out the gang in the past three days, and that the militant group was given an opportunity to come out and denounce their criminal activities, but they did not embrace the opportunity before the JTF closed in on them.

Also speaking, the Commander of 13 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Calabar, Brigadier General Shehu Yusuf, said no life was lost in the operation, and that the military has given Lactop an opportunity to come out. He maintained that if he surrenders himself willingly, nothing would happen to him.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Video - Rick Ross shows Nigeria some love - Performs at Lagos

Rick Ross brought some Maybach Music Group love all the way across the Atlantic (as in the ocean) to the motherland this weekend. The Miami rapper made a trip to Lagos, Nigeria for a show and MMG's official video documentarian, Spiff TV Films, was along for the trip, so you can expect visuals soon. "Filming in the slums in Lagos.i just bought out the whole grocery store and gave it to the village. #MMG presence strong in our homeland,"tweeted Rozay.
It doesn't seem like Wale, who is Nigerian (but born in DC), was along for the trip, but the Bawse gave  him a shout out,tweeting, "I Salute #Lagos for having trip wuz #boss gotta rep for my lil bro's @Wale & Vic.luv," Rozay. 
Just this week, the "Hold Me Back" rapper appeared on the cover of the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine. In the interview, the Miami native revealed that it was a friend getting shipped to the bing that eventually led him to employment as a correction's officer. 
Rick Ross' new album, God Forgive, I Don't, is in stores now. Check out photos from his trip to Nigeria in the gallery.

Nigeria's finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala makes it on Forbes list of most powerful women

Forbes, a leading source of reliable international business news and financial information has released its list of "The World's Most Powerful Women" with Nigeria's finance minister and coordinating minister for the economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala taking the 81st position in the politics category as one of only three Africans on the list - Joyce Banda, President of Malawi (71) and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia's President (82).

Angela Merkel, German Chancellor topped the list dominated by women from the United States led by secretary of state Hilary Clinton in second place and 59 others such as Melinda Gates (4), Michelle Obama (7), Oprah Winfrey (11), Christiane Amanpour (53), Lady Gaga (14), Beyonce Knowles (32), Jennifer Lopez (38), Marissa Mayer - CEO Yahoo (21) and Sheryl Sandberge - COO Facebook (10) among others.

Other notable women of power on the list are President of Brazil, Dilma Roosseff (3), Sonia Gandhi, president, National Congress Party of India (6), Christine Lagarde - MD, IMF (8), Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, president of Argentina (16), Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma (19), Queen Elizabeth II of the UK (26), Julia Gillard, prime minister of Australia (27), Yingluck Shinawatra, prime minister of Thailand (30) and Sri Mulvani Indrawati, MD World Bank (72).

Forbes List Of World's Most Powerful Women

1. Angela Merkel Chancellor, Germany

2. Hillary Clinton Secretary of State, United States

3. Dilma Rousseff President, Brazil

4. Melinda Gates Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

5. Jill Abramson Executive Editor, New York Times Co.

6. Sonia Gandhi President, Indian National Congress, India

7. Michelle Obama First Lady, United States

8. Christine Lagarde Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

9. Janet Napolitano Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, United States

10. Sheryl Sandberg

11. Oprah Winfrey Entrepreneur, Personality

12. Indra Nooyi Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo

13. Irene Rosenfeld Chairman and CEO, Kraft Foods

14. Lady Gaga Musician, Philanthropist

15. Virginia Rometty President and CEO, IBM

16. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner President, Argentina

17. Ursula Burns Chairman and CEO, Xerox

18. Meg Whitman CEO, Hewlett-Packard

19. Aung San Suu Kyi Chair and Parliamentarian, National League for Democracy, Burma

20. Maria das Graças Silva Foster CEO, Petrobras-Petróleo Brasil

21. Marissa Mayer CEO, Yahoo

22. Anne Sweeney Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks, and President, Disney/ABC Television Group, Walt Disney

23. Diane Sawyer Anchor of World News, ABC, Walt Disney

24. Angela Braly CEO, WellPoint

25. Susan Wojcicki Senior Vice President, Google

26. Queen Elizabeth II Monarch, United Kingdom

27. Julia Gillard Prime Minister, Australia

28. Nancy Pelosi Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, United States

29. Arianna Huffington Editor-In-Chief, Huffington Post Media Group, AOL

30. Yingluck Shinawatra Prime Minister, Thailand

31. Kathleen Sebelius Secretary, Department of Health and Human Service, United States

32. Beyonce Knowles Actress, Entrepreneur, Musician

33. Diane Von Furstenberg Owner, Fashion Designer, Diane von Furstenberg Studio, L.P.

34. Helen Clark Administrator, U.N. Development Programme

35. Georgina Rinehart Executive Chairman, Hancock Prospecting

36. Amy Pascal Co-Chairman, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony

37. Margaret Chan Director-General, World Health Organization

38. Jennifer Lopez Actress, Musician, Personality, Philanthropist

39. Sheri McCoy CEO, Avon Products

40. Shakira Musician, Personality, Philanthropist

41. Mary Barra SVP, Global Product Development, General Motors

42. Zhang Xin & family Cofounder, CEO, Soho China Ltd.

43. Alice Walton Chairman, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

44. Laura Lang CEO, Time Inc., Time Warner

45. Angela Ahrendts CEO, Burberry Group

46. Sue Naegle President, HBO Entertainment, Time Warner Cable

47. Ellen DeGeneres Comedian, Personality, Philanthropist

48. Safra Catz President, CFO, Oracle

49. Laurene Powell Jobs & family Founder and Chair, Emerson Collective

50. Rosalind Brewer President and CEO, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart Stores

51. Anna Wintour Editor-in-Chief, Vogue, Conde Nast Publications, Inc.

52. Helene Gayle President, CEO, CARE

53. Christiane Amanpour Chief International Correspondent, CNN, Time Warner

54. Rosalia Mera Investor, Philanthropist

55. Cynthia Carroll CEO, Anglo American

56. Cher Wang Co-founder and Chair, HTC

57. Abigail Johnson President, Fidelity Personal, Workplace and Institutional Services, Fidelity Investments

58. Padmasree Warrior Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, Cisco Systems

59. Chanda Kochhar Managing Director and CEO, ICICI Bank

60. Gail Kelly CEO, Westpac Banking Group

61. Margaret Hamburg Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration, United States

62. Ellen Kullman Chairman and CEO, EI du Pont de Nemours

63. Drew Gilpin Faust President, Harvard University

64. Shari Arison Investor, Philanthropist

65. Mary Schapiro Chair, Securities and Exchange Commission, United States

66. Angelina Jolie Actress, Philanthropist

67. Miuccia Prada Owner, Fashion Designer, Prada

68. Carol Meyrowitz CEO, TJX Cos

69. Ertharin Cousin Executive Director, World Food Programme, United Nations

70. Sue Gardner Executive Director, WikiMedia Foundation

71. Joyce Banda President, Malawi

72. Sri Mulyani Indrawati Managing Director, World Bank

73. Bonnie Hammer Chairman, Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios, NBCUniversal, Comcast

74. Chua Sock Koong Group CEO, SingTel

75. Sofia Vergara Actress, Entrepreneur

76. Ho Ching CEO, Temasek

77. Tina Brown Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Beast and Newsweek, IAC/InterActiveCorp.

78. J.K. Rowling Author

79. Chan Laiwa & family Philanthropist

80. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw Founder, Chair, Biocon Ltd.

81. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Minister of Finance, Nigeria

82. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf President, Liberia

83. Gisele Bundchen Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Supermodel

84. Mary Meeker General Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

85. Shaikha Al-Bahar CEO-Kuwait, National Bank of Kuwait

86. Marjorie Scardino CEO, Pearson

87. Solina Chau Director, Li Ka Shing Foundation

88. Jan Fields President, McDonald's USA, McDonald's

89. Weili Dai Co-founder, Marvell Technology Group

90. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey President, CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

91. Sun Yafang Chair, Huawei Technologies

92. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi Minister of Foreign Trade, United Arab Emirates

93. Guler Sabanci Chairman and Managing Director, Sabanci Holding

94. Greta Van Susteren Anchor, FOX News, News Corp

95. Mary Callahan Erdoes CEO, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, JPMorgan Chase

96. Mary Callahan Erdoes CEO, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, JPMorgan Chase

97. Mindy Grossman CEO, HSN

98. Patricia Woertz Chairman, CEO and President, Archer Daniels Midland

99. Beth Brooke Global Vice Chair - Public Policy, Ernst & Young

100.Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani Chair, Qatar Museums Authority, Qatar

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nigeria ranked third poorest provider of water in the world

NIGERIA is allegedly rated as the third poorest country in the world in the provision of water for its citizens.

With the rating, it is also placed among countries, which may not meet the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goal (MDG) in water supply to its citizens due to poor governance.

These assertions were made in Benin City, Edo State capital, at the weekend by a guest lecturer, Gabriel Okezi, at a lecture on the use and conservation of water for human development organised by the management of the Benin-Owena River Basin Development Authority.

Speaking on the theme: “Water resources management in Nigeria,” Okezi noted that the goal of water management was to make it available and affordable for all purposes to promote “good health, national welfare, food and self-sufficiency, as well as industrial growth.”

Okezie lamented that the laws on water management in the country were not being implemented, which he described as informing Nigeria’s rating as the third poorest in terms of water supply after India and China.

“The laws on water resources management are not being evolved by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. That is the highest water authority in the country. They should give us guidelines as to how we should manage our water,” he said.

Okezie urged the Federal and state Governments to include water resources management in school curriculum.

Earlier, Managing Director of Benin-Owena River Basin Development Authority, Ajibade Luka, said the lecture was designed to discuss water resources management in Nigeria because water is critical to human development.

The Edo State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Abdul Orho, lauded the River Basin agency for organising the event, stressing that water is a gift from God for all to manage.

Also, Delta State Commissioner for Agriculture and Water Resources, Misan Okubenji, said the importance of water to human existence cannot be over-emphasised and urged Nigerians not to pollute it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hotels in Lagos rank as second most expensive in the world

With its oligarchs and bling reputation, it is perhaps not surprising that Moscow has been found to have the planet's highest hotel prices, according to new research.

In a poll of 50 cities worldwide, room rates in the Russian capital were priced the highest of any destination for the eighth year running - topping the chart at an average of £258.11 - travel management company Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) found.

And the cost of a place to lay your head in the city famed for its onion-domed churches and imperial treasures has increased by three per cent in local currency over the past twelve months.

Nigeria's populous city of Lagos was found to be the second most expensive location, with an average room rate of £217.05.

This was thanks to the 'high volume of inbound business travel connected with the oil industry', the research noted.

'Travellers to Lagos are also conscious of the city’s well-documented security issues and are more inclined to stay in five-star accommodation,' it said.

Although Geneva took third place, with rooms priced at an average of £215.92, the survey said that hotel prices across the Eurozone had 'either fallen or remained flat'.

Stewart Harvey, Group Commercial Director at HRG, said 'uncertainty' was 'driving room rates down across mainland Europe'.

Barcelona saw prices fall by 22 per cent (in Euros), while Madrid and Dublin also reported drops.

Mr Harvey noted that, according to the research, the Latin American region had seen the strongest growth in the first six months of the year.

There were room rate increases of 23 per cent in Sao Paulo and 15 per cent in Rio de Janeiro, where rooms were priced at an average £204.65 and £170.95 respectively.

In terms of price increases, Mexico City was found to have experienced the highest, with rates soaring 30 per cent in local currency as demand rocketed. The average cost of a room was £105.65.

The survey also found that prices of hotel rooms had increased in both Tokyo and Dubai as they recovered from last year's earthquake, tsunami and Arab Spring.

The twice yearly research looks at hotel room prices for key business destinations.

Major fuel scarcity in Abuja, Nigeria

There seems to be no hope in sight to the fuel scarcity currently ravaging the Federal Capital, Abuja. In all the filling stations across the town, there are long queues of vehicles waiting to buy fuel which is not readily available.

This started during the past week and is telling hard on the citizenry. There are no vehicles on the road and as it has always been the custom when this problem comes up, there will be increase in transport fares.

No one seems to know the reason why it's only Abuja that is faced with this issue but some individuals like Gabriel Emmanuel and Femi Adegbite said it's because this is the center of the economy and it will spread to other states soon if this issue is not nipped in the bud early.

On a fact finding mission as to what could be responsible for this scarcity peculiar alone to Abuja at the moment, Mr Oyinlola, the NNPC Afrigate manager in Gwarinpa said the scarcity is due to NUPENG indefinite strike action.

He further explained that they had exhausted their fuel and were waiting for more fuel from the appropriate quarters. On probing further to ascertain whether the threats from the marketers to shut down the economy are coming to reality, he opined that he is not aware about that.

The people at the filling stations have refused to leave the petrol stations on the 1st avenue road in Gwarinpa. In fact, the road was blocked totally and the security agents from the Gwarinpa police station led by Mr A.A Godwin were on ground to forestall any breakdown of law and order as well as ensure free flow of traffic.

On meeting the taxi drivers present to get their views on the situation on ground, it was a loud cry of lamentation from most of them. A particular one who refused to mention his name recounted his experiences and challenges he has faced since the scarcity began.

According to him and others present, he bought 25litres of fuel for N8000 from the black market. He even said the filling station in Area 11 sold fuel to them at black market prices Nigerians are used to suffering but will still smile over the issue and that has been keeping us going.

Some of them were proved that assertion right. They were eating and drinking while waiting for fuel.Lady Maria Ejielo who had been at the filling station since 3 am(just as so many others), when asked her opinion on whether we are at a brink of revolution in the country, she prayed against it but urged His Excellency, Goodluck Jonathan to use his presidential powers and arrest the situation before it goes bad.

Dangote Group to create more employment opportunities in Nigeria

Dangote Group has unveiled plans to establish agro- sacks manufacturing company at Ibese, Ogun state to complement Dangote Cement plant in the community as part of the company's efforts to create employment.

The company is also planning to establish a tomato paste company as well as palm oil refinery in the community. President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote disclosed these investment plans during a meeting with Ibese community host members of Yewa North Local Government Council of Baales.

Dangote, who was represented by the Group General Manager Project of Dangote Group, Mr. Joseph Alaba, assured that eligible indigenes of the host communities would be given attention for employment.

He said the establishment of the these new companies in line with his desire to invest more in manufacturing concerns that complement his existing companies, so that the teeming unemployed youths would be gainfully engaged.

According to him, the construction of the lines three and four of the Ibese plant which will take the annual production to from the present six million to 12 million has started in earnest.

Dangote urged the community leaders to give maximum cooperation to the firm just as it has done in the past.

He explained that he was of the firm believe that production is what could lift the nation's economy from the woods and not importation.

He noted that the employment could only be generated through manufacturing and that all hands must be on deck to create jobs through manufacturing.

Dangote thanked his host communities for the tremendous support the company had gotten from them saying he was happy that the communities understood that it was only in the atmosphere of peace and tranquility that any meaningful development could take place.

"We have been enjoying peaceful, harmonious and conducive working environment since the time we started the construction works at Ibese here up till now that production has started. We appreciate the the efforts of our Baales and we pray for lasting cordial and mutually beneficial relationship," he said.

Dangote added that the support had motivated Dangote Cement to invest more in the execution of some Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects.

He said to the delight of the Community leaders that the contract for the construction of a 25kilometre cement concrete road from the Ibese plant to Itori had been awarded while the ever busy Ibese and Ilaro road is being redesigned for rehabilitation.

This Day

Related story: Africa's riches man billionaire Aliko Dangote re-instated as head of Nigeria's stock exchange

Video - The young and the jobless in Nigeria

Friday, August 17, 2012

President Goodluck Jonathan orders overhaul of sports sector in Nigeria

Expressing dismay over the poor outing of the Nigerian Olympic team in the just concluded London Olympic Games, President Goodluck Jonathan has directed that the entire gamut of the sporting sector of the country should be re-organised.

Despite the release of N 2.2 billion two months before the London Olympics the 55-man Nigerian contingent with a coterie of officials returned home without any medal, while irregular medal clinchers like Tunisia, Uganda, Algeria and even Gabon and Botswana, returned home with some medals of varying colours.

This is the third time that Nigeria will record such an abysmal performance at the Games. The first was at the 1980 Moscow Games and the second was at 1988 Seoul Olympics.

President Jonathan, Wednesday, advocated for a national retreat at which the apex government, state governments and the private sector will discuss how to reinvigorate the country's sporting sector in order to make it robust and productive.

The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku told State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that the president has indicated that some key sports administrators will be affected by the changes being proposed but he did not give names of those that will be affected.

The Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, who traditionally ought to have been present, was conspicuously absent at the briefing.

Sources in the know revealed that some prominent administrators, particularly the Director General of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Chief Patrick Ekeji, may lose his plum job.

President Jonathan, the information minister said, was irked by the performance of the athletes and said that the industry should be rekindled to meet future challenges through proper planning, provision of adequate funds and the setting of standards that could be met in all future games.

"President Goodluck Jonathan ordered for a total and comprehensive re-organization of the sporting sector, following the disappointing performances of Nigerian contingent to the London 2012 Olympics.

"The President accordingly directed for a national retreat which will involved state governments as well as the private sector to re-order priorities in the Nigerian sporting sector.

"He said what took place in London must be the beginning of a new momentum to place Nigerian sports at a level that will enable this country return to the glory it is known for in the areas of sports.

"President Jonathan believes for us to change the present scenario, we need to specialize, we need to plan and we need to fund sports in a way that this country will continue to make impact in the sporting sector.

"He believes that the next Commonwealth Games and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil must enable Nigeria sets specific targets and realize them in order to promote our sports development.

"He also called for a new direction in sports management as well as funding and planning. He believes that what this nation needs at the moment is to take a sober look at what has happened and indeed change the scenario by working hard on all that we need to do to return the sporting sector to his glory.

"Mr. President emphasis the need for early planning, better administration of sports as well as funding which he believes can no longer be left to the government alone but must involve the private sector to generate sufficient resources to return our sports to it's glory.

"So in the next couple of weeks you are going to see action in this area as we prepare to work and ensure that Nigeria in subsequent events, in continental and global takes it proper place within the continent and globally in sporting competitions."

Former President General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida says Nigeria is more corrupt today

Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, has dismissed insinuations that his regime institutionalised corruption and declared that the scourge is more rampant today than in his time.

The general, who is 71 today, was speaking to reporters at an interactive session on the eve of his birthday in his Hilltop residence in Minna yesterday.

"Some people said I institutionalised corruption but I remember I removed a governor for stealing N300,000, but now you cannot remove them even for stealing N3 billion," the general remarked, noting that those still accusing him of alleged corruption 22 years after he left office were neither realistic nor fair to him.

The former military president who also stated "I managed poverty but some people managed affluence" said he will continue to respect the late human rights lawyer and advocate Chief Gani Fawehinmi because he did all his criticism as a legal luminary "and you always learnt one thing from him."

Commenting on the prevailing security challenges, including the potential threat by the Boko Haram, IBB said it is a passing phase, insisting that the development will not disintegrate the country.

He added that people should be sincere and accept that President Goodluck Jonathan needed support of every Nigerian.

When asked whether he was hopeful that the nation will remain the same in the face of the Boko Haram and other challenges, Babangida said "Positive! Yes, you know why? When I was growing up I was involved in so many things in this country which border on the stability of this country.

From 1963 to 1993, when I left office, I was involved in many things. We also saw many things like Tiv riot and civil war. It went on like that because we are a 'developing' country, so it went through and is still going through. I participated in virtually every operation from 1964 till I left office. I am sensible enough to know that we have to go through this."

The former military president said what is happening in Nigeria is a passing phase in the history of every developing nation, saying that it is instructive to note that all the leaders of developing nations are always aware of the challenges.

He also stated that it was his belief that unlike his own generation, the younger generations have more things that will make them bond together easily and he could see the younger generation achieving unity at least 50 years.

"I don't think that we are likely going again into civil war despite all that is happening. I am not sure that your generation may like to go through what we went through," IBB remarked adding that hope for keeping Nigeria one lays in the hands of the common man and not the elite and media who he claimed were unnecessarily sensational about issues that could easily be resolved through dialogue.

The former military president said the common man has never been involved in the "if you cannot get it you find a reason to spoil it" syndrome.

He explained that his coming together with his "Boss" former president Olusegun Obasanjo was the best they could do at the moment because "when me and my Boss Obasanjo issued a joint statement we proffered our solution, it is laziness for somebody to sit down and ask what did we do. Fine, we were there when it started but we should not be deprived of the right to make a contribution, what President Jonathan needs is support and that is what we are giving him".

He said what he shared in common with former President Obasanjo was a passion for a united Nigeria. "I can tell you that if there is somebody committed to the unity of Nigeria that person is my Boss OBJ".

IBB therefore said: "I plead with all of us to live with one another in peace, that is the only way we can move forward. The country has a lot of potential, what we need to do is to try to live in peace with one another, we can channel this virtue of ours towards achieving a great country."

On his feud with Edwin Clark he said "Chief Edwin Clark is my friend. I have known him for over 30 years, there is mutual respect between us, he will not deny me as his friend. The media might have heightened it."

On the state police debate, IBB supported the idea of state police that will operate within the confines of a given law saying that in the 50s and 60s there was state police but "they said it was used to molest political opponents".

He said he wondered why the fear of state police continues to persist, saying "left to me the purpose of government is security, the fears that governors will use the state police is unfounded".

Commenting on why he left the late General Sani Abacha behind in 1993 when he was stepping aside, Babangida said that he left him behind to strengthen the interim government and not for any ulterior motive, saying that what happened after that was another story entirely.

Northern governors salute him at 71

Meanwhile, the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) has paid tribute to former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, who turns 71 today, saying his life is a testimony to the power of good leadership and purposeful living.

The chairman of the forum and Niger State Governor Dr Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu, described Babangida as the symbol of statesmanship, patriotism, vision and courage which are some of the excellent leadership virtues that have guided him through his years of active public service life.

The NSGF stated this in a statement signed by Governor Aliyu's Chief Press Secretary, Danladi Ndayebo. According to the forum, the former military leader has excelled in his chosen profession and went on to preside over Africa's most influential country during which period he showed rare vision, courage and exemplary leadership.

The governors noted that IBB had consistently remained on the path of promoting national unity, integration and development with his influential networks cutting across the length and breadth of Nigeria and beyond.

The forum said the history of Nigeria will always be incomplete without paying tribute to IBB's contributions and achievements to the socio-economic and political development of our country.

The governors listed the achievements of the former leader to include the realisation of the vision of Abuja as the Federal Capital City by providing the most vital infrastructure and moving the seat of power from Lagos in 1991.

The Forum also made reference to the privatisation of the broadcast industry, the licensing of private universities and airlines and the liberalization of the banking industry, including the establishment of community banks (now microfinance institutions) as ranking among IBB's notable legacies.

The governors then prayed God to grant Babangida excellent health, courage and many more years of selfless service to Nigeria and humanity.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Nigerian couple given 14 years in London prison for child abuse

What most Nigerians culturally do by using corporal punishment to correct their children when they do wrong and go scot free has become the albatross for two Nigerian couples resident in the United Kingdom.

For beating their six children with brooms, hoovers and wires and even giving their baby a morphine overdose after childbirth, the Nigerian couple have been jailed for seven years each in London, with the UK press calling them all sorts of names.

But the Nigerian married couple denied the allegations, claiming the children were victims of a racist witch-hunt. They were, however, found guilty of cruelty to a person under 16.

The parents convicted of a decade long campaign of abuse against their six children were jailed for seven years each yesterday.

The Nigerian couple, which the paper said claimed their kids were possessed by evil spirits, were found guilty after Coronation Street star Michelle Collins gave evidence against them.

The parents argued that the children had been ‘brainwashed’ into making the allegations by the police, the London Borough of Haringey and Miss Collins who they said ‘wanted to steal’ them, UK’s Green Crown Court heard.

Jurors rejected the parents conspiracy theories. When they are released, they face deportation back to Nigeria – despite pleas from their legal team that they have been ‘punished enough’ by having their children taken into care.

As they left the court, the paper said the couple wailed: ‘We are innocent, this is a miscarriage of justice.’

The couple were accused of beating their children with brooms, hoovers and wires and even giving their baby a morphine overdose just days after her first birthday.

A report published in UK’s Daily Mail said five of the children were rescued after their eldest daughter threw a heart-wrenching SOS note out of a window.

The report said it was not until their one-year-old baby was given a morphine overdose over a year later that police reopened the case which led to their prosecution.

The paper said the plight of the children was so bad that Miss Collins, who met them at a church lunch, took them to the cinema ‘because she felt sorry for them’.

The Miss Collins gave evidence as a prosecution witness during the trial of the parents, both 40, who could not be named to protect their six children.

Sentencing them to seven years behind bars each, Judge James Patrick described it as ‘shocking mistreatment’ that they had tried to cover up with a ‘web of deception’.

Judge Patrick said: “No-one who sat through this trial could help but be moved by the fact that these intelligent, charming, fun, lovable children continue to love you despite what you put them through.

“You alleged a conspiracy involving a well-known actress, who had done nothing but show your family generosity and kindness, a member of a housing charity, social workers and foster carers.

“Those who had taken the trouble to support you were repeatedly accused of dishonesty, lying, and conspiracy to rob you of your children when the reality was that both of you were lying – in fact they ware simply seeking to give your children stability.”

But the parents claimed they were victims of a conspiracy – and even alleged Miss Collins was involved in a witch hunt against them and wanted to ‘steal’ their children.

One of the youngsters, a baby at the time, had been allowed to stay in the home by Haringey council, who were involved in other case called the Baby P and Victoria Climbie cases, despite the fact the five other children had to be rescued.

The abuse reportedly came to the attention of police in April 2010 when their nine-year-old wrote an SOS note and threw it out of her bedroom window.

The heart-breaking plea read: ‘My mum is the worst mum ever because she can’t cope with five of us, her broken hand and being pregnant. She always leaves me out so I always starve and I am forced to work.

‘If I don’t get enough house work done, I am beaten without mercy with the wooden end of a broom. I have scars all over me to prove it. I can’t stay here. I would like a new mum.’

It was found by a neighbour who called the police, and when officers attended the address they found the children living in messy conditions with ‘dirty’ and ‘dishevelled’ clothing.

Revealing scars the eldest said her mother had hit her with a cable, a broom, and a hoover and her father had dangled her by her feet down the stairwell of the house, tied her hands behind her back and her legs together ‘to get the devilish spirits out’, prosecutor Emma Smith said.

Her sister, who was seven at the time, had a stick shaped bruise of her thigh and after a few months in care, she drew a series of pictures showing her dad beating her and her being left home alone and including a speech bubble saying ‘I’m hungry.’

The children were left home alone for hours, sometimes days on end, with the elder kids forced to look after the others.

They had even been forced to lie to a charity and social services that they were living alone with their mother in one room and had no idea who their dad was so they could scam benefits.

Even during the trial the eldest feared she had torn her family apart with her ‘devastating cry from the heart in the form of a letter which she threw from the window’, the judge noted.

There was an investigation but no further action, and the five children remained in care until the parents once again came to police attention on 28 June last year, when they gave their baby an overdose.

‘But for the events of June 28 you would have gotten away with your crimes because of a merciful decision not to prosecute you’, Judge Patrick noted.

The couple’s sixth child, a baby girl, the report said, was also initially taken into care but then returned to her parents. They took her to St Thomas’s Hospital just days after her first birthday last year.

The paper went on to say that without treatment, the baby could have died but doctors managed to save the youngster, who it is believed was given morphine orally that morning.

Police detonate 963 IED and arrest 108 in Kano, Nigeria

Kano State Police Command Tuesday said it had detonated 963 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) of different calibre, as well as arrested 108 suspected criminals at different locations in the last eight months in the state.

The state Police Commissioner, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, said: "From August 1, 2012, the command was able to detonate a bomb at Federal College of Education (FCE) Kano, 10 undetonated explosives at Rijiyar Zaki along Jambulo Estate and four IEDs recovered and detonated at the same Rijiyar Zaki, on August 6, including another one at BUK."

Idris said out of the 963 bombs detonated, two were suicide prime car bombs, adding that all the IEDs were successfully detonated since January 20 to date and that the detonated bombs did not cause any injury or damage.

Addressing journalists yesterday at the Officers Mess, the police commissioner disclosed that items recovered within the two weeks include, 26 IEDs, 10 rounds of ammunition, two pistols, pump action guns, one air rifle and nine double barrels.

Idris said other items were three AK 47 riffles, 226 cartridges, 12 knives, 11 stolen vehicles and 45 rounds of ammunition, stressing that the command was ready to discharge its role in ensuring the protection of lives and property.

"We are always combat ready in the state and we are always appealing to the public to report any suspicious persons or movement to the nearest security outfit for proper action," he said.

The commissioner also explained that 108 persons suspected to be criminals were arrested at different hideouts in the state, while 92 of them were charged to court for different offences ranging from being in possession of Indian hemp, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons.

He said the command in collaboration with other security agencies had concluded plans to ensure a successful E-id- Fitri celebration in the state, assuring residents that the command was combat ready to forstall the breakdown of law and order during the celebration.

According to World Bank - 80% of businesses in Nigeria bribe government officials

The report of a World Bank study conducted in 26 states in Nigeria has indicated that about 80 per cent of businesses in the country paid bribes to government officials in 2011 to stay in business.

World Bank's 2011 report on 2011 investment climate in Nigeria said one-third of micro-enterprises agreed that "informal payments/gifts to government officials" were common occurrences, suggesting that registered firms deal more with such requests for bribes.

Only 20 per cent of micro-enterprise firms reported to have had foreknowledge of the amount of money required to "get things done," a situation that means the informal payments are sudden and unplanned for.

The report further stated that these informal payments/gifts represented approximately 1.2 per cent of annual sales for all micro-enterprises. It added that micro-enterprises dealing in government contracts were expected to pay approximately 4.3 per cent of the value of contracts that they were hoping to secure.

Manufactured goods attracted larger bribes (6.7 per cent) than those for small services (3.9 per cent). However, firms in the formal sector obviously spent more on corruption, as 47 per cent of formal firms claimed that informal gifts/payments were commonplace in comparison to 33 per cent for micro-enterprises.

The report also stated that micro-enterprises have a greater mistrust of institutions than formal firms; that 63 per cent of formal sector firms and 72 per cent of micro-enterprises reported that the application of laws was not consistent and predictable; and that 41 per cent of formal firms and 20 per cent of micro-enterprises reported that they had advance knowledge of informal payments/gifts.

Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi and Kwara states are some of the states where the study was conducted. The other states are Nassarawa, Niger, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Video - The fastest growing sport in Nigeria

Taekwondo instructor Master Ferguson Oluigbo tells Vladimir Duthiers about Nigeria's growing interest in martial arts.

Monday, August 13, 2012

62 percent of students fail 2012 WAEC exam

Only 649,156 candidates, representing 38.81 per cent of those who sat for the May/June 2012 Senior Secondary School Certificate examination, obtained credits in five subjects and above, including English Language and Mathematics.

According to details of the results released yesterday by the West Africa Examination Council, this represents an eight per cent improvement when compared with that of 2011 May/June results, which had a pass level of 30.91 per cent.

The Head of the Nigeria National Office of WAEC, Iyi Uwadiae, at a press briefing at the council's office in Yaba, Lagos, stated that 1,695,8788 candidates registered for the examination out of which 1,672,224 candidates, consisting of 923,974 male and 748,250 female candidates, sat for the examination.

"Out of the total number of candidates, 1,545,004 candidates, representing 90.10 per cent, have their results fully released, while 1,545,004 candidates, representing 8.90 per cent, have their results fully released while 150,874 candidates, representing 8.90 per cent, have a few of their subjects still being processed," Uwadiae said

The full results will be available on the WAEC website from Saturday, he said.

The examination body also stated that 112,000 candidates' results, representing 6.70 per cent, are being withheld in connection with various cases of examination malpractices.

He said candidates would be able to check the details of their performance on the council's results website: within the next 48 hours.

Video - Nigerian Olympian rejects drug allegations

Chioma Ajunwa Opara on rebuilding her career after failing a drug test and the need for better sports doctors in Nigeria.

No medals for Nigeria at London 2012 Olympics

The story of Nigeria at the 2012 London Olympics is "No gold, no silver, no bronze, N2.3 billion down the drain."

And now a top Nigerian sports official who is a member of an international sports federation wants the federal government to compel the sports ministry to account for how they spent the N2.3 billion government released for the Olympic Games which ended in London yesterday. He would not have his name on print.

He said the ministry should disclose how much they released to each sports association that presented a team to the Olympic Games. Athletics, Weightlifting, Taekwondo(athletes) Canoeing (one athlete), Wrestling, Basketball, Table Tennis and Boxing associations presented teams at the games. All the athletes were 51. The number of officials was still unknown as there were many who were not accredited and, consequently, were not useful to the athletes. They stayed in their hotels to watch the games on television. This irked the Nigerian official and he described the action of the ministry as "wasteful."

He said it was necessary for the ministry to disclose the allocations to each association because of what he called "the wrong decisions" that partly affected Nigeria's preparation to the games.

The official said the following: "Taekwondo that presented two athletes was given over N65m to prepare while Athletics that had over 100 athletes but which they pruned to 28 for the Olympics was given N131m. Basketball which had to travel to Venezuela for their qualifying tournament was given N75m for all their preparation including the tournament in Venezuela. 

The rest of the sports did not get more than N500,000. And yet N2.3 billion was released for the Olympic games. But the money came in installments and it came so late that nothing much could be done with the last installment. This is not the way to prepare for the Olympic Games. The people who disbursed the money took wrong decisions and now the athletes are saying that they did not prepare well. The ministry is to blame."

A coach in one of the teams admitted that Nigeria lacked world class athletes and that even if more billions of money were approved the money would have still gone down the drain as "you cannot perform magic over night in sports, you build over a period of time."

The last time Nigeria left the Olympic Games without a medal was 24 years ago in the Seoul Olympic Games of 1988.

Friday, August 10, 2012

United Kingdom to upgrade Nigerian prisons for deportees

Taxpayers in the United Kingdom are to foot the bill to revamp jails in Nigeria and Jamaica so that the convicts in British prisons can be deported without breaching their human rights, The Daily Mail reported on Thursday.

This is the latest move by the UK’s coalition government to persuade foreign convicts to serve their sentences at home.

It was revealed that a project is currently going in Nigeria which supports the provision of “human rights training for prison officers” while another project will construct new facilities at a women’s prison in Lagos, to reduce overcrowding.

The report also claimed that funds were currently being spent in Jamaica to “assist Jamaican authorities in modernising their prison service and rehabilitation and reintegration activities.”

Jamaica tops the list of the nations with most prisoners in British jails, with 900 inmates, followed by Poland-750, Republic of Ireland-737 and Nigeria, with 594 inmates.

“Ministers have resorted to the tactic – designed to satisfy the human rights of inmates – after it emerged that the UK’s own prison system has turned into a ‘United Nations of crime” the British Tabloid reported on its website.

Research by the House of Commons library reveals how British jails contain inmates from 156 countries and the total number of foreign prisoners is rising despite pledges by the Prime Minister, David Cameron to address the issue.

It is estimated that by March 2012, there were 11,127 foreign inmates behind bars, at an estimated cost to the UK public purse of more than £420m. This is up from 10,778 in 2011.

The convicts, which includes rapists, murderers and burglars, now make up more than one in every eight convicts. The figures were disclosed as the British Prime Minister faced more criticism on Wednesday over his foreign aid commitments.

Cameron was taking part in a radio phone-in when a pensioner called to tell him it was wrong that she was denied a cancer drug while billions were spent on overseas aid.

Meanwhile, it emerged that the dire need to create space in the packed jails has prompted ministers to take the extraordinary step of establishing a £3m annual pot to make it easier for convicts to serve their sentences back home.