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Sunday, 27 December 2015



Garba Shehu

By Garba Shehu, SSAP (Media and Publicity)

As the war on corruption heightens, the political battle-line between the governing All Progressives Congress, APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has sharply been drawn.

While leaders from both parties voice out their support for the clean-up of the country by ridding it of corruption, the National Working Committee of the PDP seems clearly to be working contrary to the anti-corruption rhetoric of their Board of Trustees. Their public communication organs have, in particular, become increasingly combative against the exercise. All that the President, leading the APC change orchestra is trying to do is to revamp a moribund nation with growth, jobs and recovered looted funds. Sadly, only a few, if any in Wadata House are treating the war against corruption as the extra-ordinary event which it is. Instead, when they speak up, they do so most ardently against it. In a clear demonstration of abstructist politics, they challenge the government in every move it makes, but fail to spell out alternative roadmaps to curbing the monstrous corruption that threatens to consume the country; they rush to condemn and dramatize even the smallest of measures which, given time and patience will manifest through positive outcomes.

Doing this gives the PDP the illusion of being an effective opposition party but taken in the context of national interest and the mood of the nation, it is doubtful it it is yielding anything beyond limited political returns. To most Nigerians, the cacophonous opposition is just a media spectacle to distract or mellow the President.

After an historic loss in an election to the opposition for the first time in the annals of this country’s political history, PDP has not looked inwards in any serious way to seek its revival. The first and major leap at reform ended disastrously when first, the party establishment rejected a well-timed apology tendered on its behalf for their past failures. Then, the leader of the reform movement got himself mired in allegations leading to court charges of the theft of billions of Naira voted for weapons purchase to fight terror in the North East. Chief Raymond Dokpesi's trial ( and Col. Dasuki's) is no doubt a serious blow to any prospects of a turn-around in the PDP.

The party did not seek democratize their internal organization, a major reason for their implosion leading to the loss of the election or began thinking innovatively about the challenges of modern day Nigeria, nor have they got a "Plan B" that is inviting to the voters.

It is this failure to reckon with, or look at the real issues confronting the party and the nation that led to their call for an investigation of President Buhari for having been supplied two jeeps by the erstwhile Jonathan administration after the personal bullet-proof jeep he owned was bombed by yet unknown assailants.

As the Special Adviser to the President, Femi Adesina said, issuance of the cars,soon after this incident was merely a face-saving move, intended to cover the government's failure to keep its duty to this particular former leader. The law, cited as the Remuneration of Former Presidents and Heads of State (and other Ancillary Matters), entitles former Nigerian Presidents including General Muhammadu Buhari to “three vehicles to be bought by the Federal Government and liable to be replaced every four years”.

Cars are just a few in a litany of entitlements written in that law although it is contestable to say that General Buhari had been given his due entitlements by successive administrations as provided thereunder. Regime after regime treated him as if he was not a former Head of State.

General Abacha came on the saddle and wanted to throw everything at Buhari who, knowing his very nature declined virtually but his military pension. The military in particular treated him so badly that its leaders kept silent when the PDP charged that he didn't have WAEC papers. One shameless Army Records officer said that the former Head of State had no records at all under their system. General Buhari went without a full compliment of armed guards from the army he served at the highest level until the dastardly bomb attack on his convoy in April 2014. It was at this time that the Chief of Army Staff at that time thought it necessary to reinstate the armed convoy to protect him. When they brought the two cars within a few days of his being bombed, the staff of the General were merely informed that this was from the Federal Government in fulfillment of its obligation to him. Since this was an entitlement long-overdue, not minding that it came short of what was expected, there was absolutely nothing wrong on the part of the General for accepting that which was due to him.

This hashtag “#Buharigate” was intended as a counterpoise to "Dasukigate," the phenomenal corruption scheme by which money intended for weapons to fight terror was shared among PDP leaders. It was a fake intervention and a malicious propaganda against the president, obviously intended to detract from his enormously huge reputational capital, the basis on which the APC nation-wide victory was founded.

The #Buharigate failed to gain traction because was seen as an opposition overreach and a desperate attempt to tarnish his hard-earned name and nothing more. No serious blogger therefore paid a serious attention to it.

This baseless allegation that the President had benefitted from the diversion of money intended to fight insurgency under the former National Security Adviser equally underlines the cruel nature of today’s politics, that even the best personal examples cannot keep a leader from the tar brush of the opponent.

Apart from seeking to mellow the President, I suspect that the opposition had thought these attacks would revive the collapsed fortunes of the PDP while at the same time projecting their leaders as victims of persecution in the hands of the APC administration.

What however is encouraging in the country today is that Nigerians have thrown their full weight behind the war on corruption. This itself is an account the constructive nature of the government’s engagement against the vice and the determination with which it is being fought. Adding impetus and flavor is the frustration at the routionisation of corruption by the last administration and their inadequate and impotent efforts to curb and punish high-profile offenders.

My concluding augment is that President Buhari’s election and war against terrorism and corruption have become a template. In Niger, Chad and Ghana where there will be elections next year, opposition candidates are parading themselves as the “Buhari” of their own country.

President Buhari must have himself been embarrassed by calls, through newspaper articles, posters and banners in the course of his visits to these friendly countries, saying “we want Buhari type elections; we will wage Buhari-type anti-corruption war”. One Chadian political party published an advertorial asking their government to procure and issue permanent voters cards as well as the use of card readers in the coming election and if the funds were not available, “let us borrow from Nigeria” for the coming elections.

President Buhari was and is far, far away from, and remains untouched by the “Dasukigate”. “#Buharigate” is therefore a fraud and an unbecoming spectacle designed to tarnish the illustrious record of the President so as to mellow his anti-corruption drive. It failed because it was born out of desperation to gain sympathy by an opposition that can’t heal itself unless it comes to terms with the danger of corruption they thrived in, and the party's internal structures are overhauled and remade to meet the minimum requirements of a democratic organization.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015


               A TRANSCRIPT OF

I am honoured and privileged to present the 2016 Budget proposal. This is my first address before this joint session of the National Assembly. I have come here today, not only to address members of the National Assembly, but also to speak directly to the men and women who placed us here.
2. I know the state of our economy is a source of concern for many. This has been further worsened by the unbridled corruption and security challenges we have faced in the last few years. From those who have lost their jobs, to those young people who have never had a job, to the people in the North East whose families and businesses were destroyed by insurgents, this has been a difficult period in our nation’s history, lessons that we must not forget or ignore, as we plan for the future.
3. By June 2014, oil prices averaged $112 per barrel. But as at today, the price is under $39 per barrel. This huge decline is having a painful effect on our economy. Consumption has declined at all levels. In both the private and public sectors, employers have struggled to meet their salary and other employee related obligations. The small business owners and traders have been particularly hard hit by this state of affairs.
4. Fellow Nigerians, the confidence of many might be shaken. However, I stand before you today promising that we will secure our country, rebuild our economy, and make the Federal Republic of Nigeria stronger than it has ever been.
5. The answers to our problems are not beyond us. They exist on our farmlands; our corporations; in the universities in the hearts and minds of our entrepreneurs; through the gallantry of our Armed Forces; and the resolute spirit of Nigerians, especially the youth, who have refused to give up despite all the obstacles confronting them.
6. This Budget proposal, the first by our Government, seeks to stimulate the economy, making it more competitive by focusing on infrastructural development; delivering inclusive growth; and prioritizing the welfare of Nigerians. We believe that this budget, while helping industry, commerce and investment to pick up, will as a matter of urgency, address the immediate problems of youth unemployment and the terrible living conditions of the extremely poor and vulnerable Nigerians.
7. In the medium to longer term, we remain committed to economic diversification through import substitution and export promotion. This will build resilience in our economy. It will guarantee that the problems we have today, will not confront our children and their children. This shall be our legacy for generations to come.
2015: A Year of Global and Domestic Challenges
8. Today, it is widely acknowledged that the global economy has slowed down. This is particularly the case with emerging markets such as Nigeria. However, despite the weak emerging market growth rates, our domestic security challenges, declining oil prices, and the attendant difficulties in providing foreign exchange to meet market demands, the Nigerian economy grew by 2.84% in the third quarter of 2015.
9. We have, and will continue to implement strategies that will maintain macroeconomic stability and manage the oil price shocks we are experiencing.
10. Upon the inauguration of this administration on 29th May 2015, we engaged key stakeholders from various sectors of our economy and interfaced with the heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in order to understand the true state of our nation. What we found prompted us to take certain strategic decisions.
11. On the economy, we injected new leadership at the helm of our revenue generating agencies including the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). We implemented the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which, so far, has provided greater visibility of Government revenues and cash flows. We intervened to support States to navigate their fiscal challenges by restructuring their commercial bank loans and by providing facilities to enable them to pay salary arrears.
12. We have demonstrated a strong will to fight corruption. I am sure you will agree that the sheer scale of corruption and impunity of the past explains in part, the economic challenges we now face. On these initiatives, and the many more to come, we shall not be deterred. We will pursue the recovery of everything that belongs to the people of Nigeria. No matter where it is hidden. No matter how long it will take.
2015 Budget Performance
13. Distinguished and honourable members of the National Assembly, I now present a review of the 2015 Budget. That Budget was based on a benchmark oil price of $53 per barrel, oil production of 2.28 million barrels per day and an exchange rate of N190 to the US$.
14. The projected revenue was N3.45 trillion, with an outlay of N4.49 trillion, implying a deficit of N1.04 trillion. Due largely to under-provisioning by the previous administration for fuel subsidy and the costs required to support the military operations in the North East, the Government had to obtain National Assembly’s approval for a supplementary budget of N575.5 billion. I take this opportunity to thank all members of the National Assembly for the prompt passage of that Bill.
2016: Budget Assumptions
15. After reviewing the trends in the global oil industry, we have set a benchmark price of $38 per barrel and a production estimate of 2.2 million barrels per day for 2016. We have focused on non-oil revenues by broadening our tax base and improving the effectiveness of our revenue collecting agencies.
16. Also, with the full implementation of the Treasury Single Account, we expect significant improvements in the collection and remittance of independent revenues. To further support the drive for increased remittances, we will ensure that all MDAs present their budgets in advance, and remit their operating surpluses as required by section 22 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
17. We are determined to ensure that our resources are managed prudently and utilized solely for the public good. To set the proper tone, one of our early decisions was the adoption of a zero based budgeting approach, which ensures that resources are aligned with Government’s priorities and allocated efficiently. This budgeting method, a clear departure from previous budgeting activities, will optimize the impact of public expenditure.
18. In addition to the proper linkage of budgeting to strategic planning, we are enhancing the utilization of the Government Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (GIFMIS) to improve financial management. The recently established Efficiency Unit is working across MDAs to identify and eliminate wasteful spending, duplication and other inefficiencies. We engaged costing experts to scrutinize the 2016 budget proposals. They have already identified certain cost areas that can be centralized for economies to be made.
19. We have directed the extension of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) to all MDAs to reap its full benefits. We will also strengthen the controls over our personnel and pension costs with the imminent introduction of the Continuous Audit Process (CAP). These initiatives will ensure personnel costs are reduced. Our commitment to a lean and cost effective government remains a priority, and the initiatives we are introducing will signal a fundamental change in how Government spends public revenue.
2016: Laying the Foundation for Sustainable Growth
20. The 2016 budget, as outlined, is designed to ensure that we revive our economy, deliver inclusive growth to Nigerians and create a significant number of jobs.
21. We aim to ensure macroeconomic stability by achieving a real GDP growth rate of 4.37% and managing inflation. To achieve this, we will ensure the aligning of fiscal, monetary, trade and industrial policies.
22. As we focus on inclusive growth, we are conscious of the current rate of unemployment and underemployment. This is a challenge we are determined to meet; and this budget is the platform for putting more Nigerians to work. I can assure you that this administration will have a job creation focus in every aspect of the execution of this budget. Nigeria’s job creation drive will be private sector led. We will encourage this by a reduction in tax rates for smaller businesses as well as subsidized funding for priority sectors such as agriculture and solid minerals.
23. As an emergency measure, to address the chronic shortage of teachers in public schools across the country, we also will partner with State and Local Governments to recruit, train and deploy 500,000 unemployed graduates and NCE holders. These graduate teachers will be deployed to primary schools, thereby, enhancing the provision of basic education especially in our rural areas.
24. We also intend to partner with State and Local Governments to provide financial training and loans to market women, traders and artisans, through their cooperative societies. We believe that this segment of our society is not only critical to our plan for growing small businesses, but it is also an important platform to create jobs and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs.
25. Furthermore, through the office of the Vice President, we are working with various development partners to design an implementable and transparent conditional cash transfer program for the poorest and most vulnerable. This program will be implemented in phases. Already, the compilation of registers of the poorest persons is ongoing. In the coming weeks, we will present the full programme, which will include our home-grown public primary school feeding and free education for science, technology and education students in our tertiary institutions. Indeed, this will mark a historic milestone for us as a nation.
The 2016 Budget
26. Distinguished members of the National Assembly, I now present, the 2016 Budget proposals of the Federal Government. Based on the assumptions I presented earlier, we have proposed a budget of N6.08 trillion with a revenue projection of N3.86 trillion resulting in a deficit of N2.22 trillion.
27. The deficit, which is equivalent to 2.16% of Nigeria’s GDP, will take our overall debt profile to 14% of our GDP. This remains well within acceptable fiscal limits. Our deficit will be financed by a combination of domestic borrowing of N984 billion, and foreign borrowing of N900 billion totaling N1.84 trillion. Over the medium term, we expect to increase revenues and reduce overheads, to bring the fiscal deficit down to 1.3% of GDP by 2018.
28. In 2016, oil related revenues are expected to contribute N820 billion. Non-oil revenues, comprising Company Income Tax (CIT), Value Added Tax (VAT), Customs and Excise duties, and Federation Account levies, will contribute N1.45 trillion. Finally, by enforcing strict compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 and public expenditure reforms in all MDAs, we have projected up to N1.51 trillion from independent revenues.
29. Although we are working to diversify our economy, we will not lose sight of the need to restructure the oil and gas sector which has been marred by corruption and plagued with inefficiencies. Accordingly, I have directed the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to adjust its pricing template to reflect competitive and market driven components. We believe this can lower input costs and attain efficiency savings that will enable PPPRA to keep the selling price for all marketers of petrol at N87 per liter for now.
30. The current fuel scarcity with long queues at petrol stations all over the country causing social dislocation is very unfortunate. Government profoundly apologizes to Nigerians for this prolonged hardship and misery. It is as a result of market speculators and resistance to change by some stakeholders. Government is working very hard to end these shortages and bring fuel to the pumps all over the country.
31. I have also directed the NNPC to explore alternate funding models that will enable us to honour our obligations in Joint Ventures (JVs) and deep offshore fields. We are confident that these measures can be achieved and will lower the burden that the traditional cash calls have imposed on our budget and cash flows as well as contribute towards shoring up our national reserves.
32. To deliver our development objectives, we have increased the capital expenditure portion of the budget from N557 billion in the 2015 budget to N1.8 trillion, in the 2016 budget. Distinguished and honourable members of the National Assembly, for the first time in many years, capital expenditure will represent 30% of our total budget. In future years we intend to raise the percentage allocation for capital expenditure.
33. This is a fulfillment of our promise to align expenditure to our long-term objectives, and a sign of government’s commitment to sustainable development. This increased capital expenditure commits significant resources to critical sectors such as Works, Power and Housing – N433.4 billion; Transport – N202.0 billion; Special Intervention Programs – N200.0 billion; Defence – N134.6 billion; and Interior – N53.1 billion. These investments in infrastructure and security are meant to support our reforms in the Agriculture, Solid Minerals and other core job creating sectors of our economy.
34. We will invest to safeguard lives and property.
35. We will invest in equipping our farmers with the right tools, technology and techniques.
36. We will invest in empowering and enabling our miners to operate in a safe, secure and humane environment.
37. We will invest in training our youths, through the revival of our technical and vocational institutions, to ensure they are competent enough to seize the opportunities that will arise from this economic revival.
38. Indeed, the future looks bright. And I ask that we all work together to make this vision a reality. The 223% year on year growth in capital expenditure demonstrates our desire to make Nigeria more competitive, and start the journey to deliver sustainable development in our country.
39. In fulfillment of our promise to run a lean government, we have proposed a 9% reduction in non-debt recurrent expenditure, from N2.59 trillion in the 2015 Budget to N2.35 trillion in 2016. Furthermore, we have budgeted N300 billion for Special Intervention Programs, which takes the total amount for non-debt recurrent expenditure to N2.65 trillion.
39. As I mentioned earlier, the Efficiency Unit set up by this Administration together with effective implementation of GIFMIS and IPPIS will drive a reduction of overheads by at least 7%, personnel costs by 8% and other service wide votes by 19%. Distinguished and honourable members, this budget will be executed to provide optimum value by ensuring every naira spent by this Government, counts.
40. We will devote a significant portion of our recurrent expenditure to institutions that provide critical government services. We will spend N369.6 billion in Education; N294.5 billion in Defence; N221.7 billion in Health and N145.3 billion in the Ministry of Interior. This will ensure our teachers, armed forces personnel, doctors, nurses, police men, fire fighters, prison service officers and many more critical service providers are paid competitively and on time.
41. Distinguished and honourable members of the National Assembly, our 2016 borrowings will be principally directed to fund our capital projects. Furthermore, the sum of N113 billion will be set aside for a Sinking Fund towards the retirement of maturing loans; while N1.36 trillion has been provided for foreign and domestic debt service. This calls for prudent management on our part, both of the debt portfolio and the deployment of our hard earned foreign exchange earnings.
42. I am aware of the problems many Nigerians currently have in accessing foreign exchange for their various purposes – from our traders and business operators who rely on imported inputs; to manufacturers needing to import sophisticated equipment and spare parts; to our airlines operators who need foreign exchange to meet their international regulatory obligations; to the financial services sector and capital markets who are key actors in the global arena.
43. These are clearly due to the current inadequacies in the supply of foreign exchange to Nigerians who need it. I am however assured by the Governor of Central Bank that the Bank is currently fine-tuning its foreign exchange management to introduce some flexibility and encourage additional inflow of foreign currency to help ease the pressure. 
44. We are carefully assessing our exchange rate regime keeping in mind our willingness to attract foreign investors but at the same time, managing and controlling inflation to level that will not harm the average Nigerians. Nigeria is open for business. But the interest of all Nigerians must be protected. Indeed, tough decisions will have to be made. But this does not necessarily mean increasing the level of pain already being experienced by most Nigerians.
45. So to the investors, business owners and industrialists, we are aware of your pains. To the farmers, traders and entrepreneurs, we also hear you. The status quo cannot continue. The rent seeking will stop. The artificial current demand will end. Our monetary, fiscal and social development policies are aligned. 
46. Mr. Senate President, Mr. Speaker, distinguished members of the National Assembly, in spite of the global economic uncertainties; we must remain steadfast in our commitment to steer this country back to greatness.
47. The Nigerian economy needs to move away from dependency on oil. Our growth must be inclusive. Nigerians must be part of the growth story. As a Government, we shall deliver security, jobs and infrastructure. This is the right of all Nigerians.
48. I know many people will say “I have heard this before”. Indeed, trust in Government, due to the abuse and negligence of the past, is at an all-time low. This means we must go back to basics. Our actions will speak for us. My team of dedicated, committed and patriotic Nigerians is well aware of the task ahead and I can assure you that we are taking on the challenge.
49. We will not betray the trust reposed in us.
50. We will welcome and be responsive to your feedback and criticisms.
51. We are here to serve. And indeed, Nigerians will get the service they have longed for and which they rightly deserve.
52. We as a Government cannot do it alone. We will require the support of all civil servants, the organized labour, industry groups, the press and of course, our religious and traditional institutions. This is a call for all of us to stand and serve our country.
53. This Budget represents a major step in delivering a new opportunity for Nigeria. It demonstrates our confident optimism that despite the challenging times, we have the will, resourcefulness and commitment to deliver prosperity to our people. And by the Grace of Almighty God and the sheer will and determination of the Nigerian people, we will come out stronger and more united than ever.
54. Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Nigeria Bans Use of Credit Cards abroad!

Nigeria bans credit card use abroad

A money changer counts Nigerian naira currency at a bureau de changeImageAP
ImageNigeria is Africa's largest economy

Nigeria's central bank has ordered commercial banks to stop customers from using their debit and credit cards abroad, a source has told the BBC.
One bank has emailed customers to this effect, stressing it is a "temporary measure".
Access to foreign online retailers will also be affected when the ban takes effect on 1 January 2016.
It is part of the government's effort to try to stem the flow of foreign exchange out of the country.
The unofficial value of the Nigerian currency, the naira, has plunged because of the fall in the oil price - its main export.
Africa's largest economy has spent billions of dollars propping up the currency since it fixed the exchange rate in February and tightened trading rules to curb speculation.
It is not clear how many people will be affected by the latest measure but the BBC's Bashir Sa'ad Abdullahi in the capital, Abuja, says wealthy Nigerians travel abroad regularly and use their local cards for shopping and other transactions.
Some top-end shops in London have signs in Hausa to cater for the large number of Nigerian customers.
One of the banks, Standard Chartered, has emailed its customers notifying them of the ban.

Standard Chartered announcementImageStandard Chartered announcement

In June, the central bank banned businesses from accessing hard currency to import about 40 items.
The list included Indian incense, plastic and rubber products, soap and even private jets.
The amount that Nigerians could spend on credit cards abroad has already been reduced by the banks.

Syrian refugees living in Jordan and Lebanon caught in poverty, face uncertain future -World Bank report

Syrian refugees living in Jordan and Lebanon caught in poverty, face uncertain future

WASHINGTON, December 16, 2015 –


 Nearly nine in ten registered Syrian refugees living in Jordan are either poor or expected to be in the near future based on UNHCR’s assistance threshold, according to a joint report released today by the World Bank Group and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. About half the refugees are children, and the majority are women.


The nearly 1.7 million Syrians who are registered in neighboring Jordan and Lebanon live in precarious circumstances notwithstanding the generosity of hosting governments. Refugees have few legal rights, and face constrained access to public services due to unprecedented demand. The vast majority of these refugees live on the margins, in urban or peri-urban areas, many in informal settlements, rather than in refugee camps.


"The conflict in Syria has led to the largest refugee crisis of our time, with colossal human, economic and social costs for the refugees, host countries and host communities. The plight of the refugees is dire and the lives and dignity of millions is at stake. The crisis has had effects that go beyond the Middle East as desperate refugees are starting to move to Europe and beyond.  We have a collective responsibility to respond to the humanitarian and development crises unfolding in the Middle East and to act on the immediate consequences as well as on the underlying causes of conflict. We should spare no efforts to put the MENA region on the path of stability, peace and prosperity for all", said Hafez M. H. Ghanem, Vice President for Middle East and North Africa Region, World Bank.


Sunday, 20 December 2015

BRISIN will solve challenges in nation’s economy, Diaspora Nigerians tell FG

Abuja, Dec. 20, 2015 (NAN)
Some Nigerians in Diaspora have urged President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to embrace the Basic Registry and Information System in Nigeria (BRISIN) concept, in order to solve the current challenges bedevilling the country.
In separate online interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, the respondents urged the Federal Government to use BRISIN as a critical instrument of governance, to solve the unacceptable situations crippling the nation’s economy.
BRISIN is an integrated system for the collection, storage and distribution of information to support the management of the economy.
The project was initiated under the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration while the Goodluck Jonathan administration inaugurated a technical committee for its implementation.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

EDITORIAL: Zaria Massacre: President Buhari’s Unsettling, Disquieting Silence. -Premium Times

President Muhammadu  Buhari
One week after the deadly carnage in Zaria, Kaduna State, involving the Nigerian Army and members of the Shi’ite Community, President Muhammadu Buhari remains silent. For a President whose preferred method of public communication has been widely described as “body language”, the message telegraphed by his silence is less than eloquent, unsettling and disquieting.
The exact sequence of events leading to the encounter between the Shi’ites and the Army will, hopefully, be unraveled by the judicial commission of inquiry to be established by the government of Kaduna State. Some things are already quite clear however.
Many people were killed in the encounter. Some have described it as a “massacre”. The victims included young children and women. The leader of the Shi’ites, Sheikh El-Zakzaky, has not been seen since then. The army initially said it took him into “protective custody”. At best, this is not a lawful procedure under Nigerian law. Subsequently, the army claimed it handed him over to civil authorities for prosecution for as yet undisclosed crimes. The army is not a prosecutorial authority for civilians. So on what basis are they deciding that he should be prosecuted?
Rather unfortunately, and quite oddly, in a presumed secular state, the Shiite movement, like many islamic and christian religious organisations, appears to have its own long-term history of breaking the law, and of impunity, that had not been called to order by previous administrations, especially by holding processions or taking over and blocking major roads with utmost disregard for other road users.
Yet the reaction of many, including Nigeria’s bilateral and multi-lateral partners has coalesced around the view that the conduct of the military in response was both brutal and disproportionate. From within Nigeria, many people and institutions, including the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), as well as the Christian Association of Nigeria have called for an independent investigation.
Even more, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, a former Permanent Secretary for the Interior and Joint Intelligence in Nigeria’s federal government, himself from Zaria, has regretted the fact that the “military does not appreciate the fact that it handed over to the Shi’ites a victory it will exploit to the detriment of national security”.
Amidst this rising crescendo of condemnation and concern, and whilst considering the fact that President Buhari must be awaiting a report of what transpired leading to the massacre, his studied silence appears quite disturbing. He ordinarily ought not to foreclose the need for showing concern by talking to Nigerians about the ill-fated incident.
And, in line with democratic governance, it behoves the President to constantly engage with the public on matters of national interest. Yet, since the incident, the only response from the Presidency has come from a text message reportedly sent by an official spokesperson of the President, Femi Adesina, to a newspaper in which he described what happened as a “military affair”, whatever that means.
The president’s silence is disconcerting for many reasons. First, the Zaria Massacre is the latest in a long and gruesome list of military operations since 1961 that have ended in civilian bloodbath. It occurred in the same weekend that the President went to Kaduna State, first, for a music festival and, then, to accept an honorary doctorate degree from the Kaduna State University, a curiously dubious conferment from a university that does not itself run any doctorate programme. That the lethal sequence that followed is associated with the presence of the President in the state should surely be of concern to him.
Second, President Buhari is not just anybody. He is a two-time Commander-In-Chief, a retired army General and one of the most respected and decorated officers in the history of the Nigerian Army. As a General, what happened in Zaria must be of interest to him. As Commander-In-Chief, he has command responsibility for what the military did. This is not a mere military affair. It is his affair. By keeping quiet, he reinforces the impression that he explicitly instructed the military operation in Zaria or implicitly condoned its manner and outcomes. If this is not the case, then he should say so.
Third, there is disturbing evidence in his silence that far from learning from the mistakes of his predecessor, President Buhari appears willing to repeat the errors that turned Nigerians against the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. It bears recalling that President Buhari rode to the Presidency on the crest of public revolt against the way his predecessor showed scant regard for the lives and sufferings of Nigerians in the hands of Boko Haram extremists. To this attitude, President Buhari promised change. He did not promise being mute. Rather than offer change on this occasion, he has chosen to go mute.
Fourth, President Buhari’s answer to allegations of Shi’ite lawlessness cannot be an outlaw army. His silence could encourage open-ended military operations against unarmed civilians. The state can contain citizen lawlessness, but state lawlessness invites anarchy.
Above all, as the only officer under our constitution elected – no less – by Nigerians from every state and the Federal Capital Territory, President Buhari swore to protect Nigeria’s constitution and the values that underpin it, including the obligation to run a humane government, respect human life and guarantee due process. When citizens are killed in encounters with the armed forces, the responsibility of government is engaged. The people who died are Nigerians. A humane government must show that it cares. By remaining silent, the President appears inhumane and encourages the impression that he neither cares about human life nor about his oath of office.
It is already late but there is still time for the President to correct the course of happenings. The President who promised change cannot keep quiet when soldiers under his command leave scores, perhaps indeed, hundreds of killed civilian citizens in their wake. He needs to speak to Nigerians and the world urgently and reassure everyone about his commitment to the values of constitutional government.
The whereabouts of the leader of the Shi’ite community, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, must be disclosed. He should be released from custody forthwith or charged before a court for crimes known to the law. Contrary to their claim, the Nigerian constitution has no place for the military to hold a citizen in “protective custody.” Any persons, civilian or military, implicated in the incident in Zaria, should be held to account resolutely.
While PREMIUM TIMES acknowledges the right of, as indeed salutes, the Kaduna State government on its initiative to set up a judicial commission of inquiry into the incident which occurred within its state borders, as announced by Governor Nasir El-Rufai, still we need to be aware that the scale of the problem is national, and the army, as one of the parties involved, is a national institution.
Hence President Buhari, as Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces needs to get proactive in the national engagement with what transpired and in achieving justice for those unjustly violated and murdered. If he fails to do this urgently and resolutely, his promise of change could begin to ring hollow

Friday, 18 December 2015

Kaduna Massacre: El-ZakZaky Protesters Storm Nigeria High Commission In London, demands his freedom!

Kaduna Massacre : El-ZakZaky Protesters Storm Nigeria High Commission In London.

Following the recent brutal killings of Shiite muslims in  northern Nigerian cities of Zaria and Kaduna, protesters who are mainly Iranians stormed the Nigeria High Commission today in central London to condemn the brutality from the Nigerian soldiers.

Different groups of Islamic organisations and human rights crusaders under the banner of Justice For Peace came out to  condemn Nigerian government and its Army for killing the followers of Sheik Ibrahim El- Zakyzaky in Zaria and the group expressed Thierry support for Islamic Movement of Nigeria ( Known as Shitte group in Nigeria) as they described as a spiritual leader representing peaceful co-existence of his people irrespective of their religion, faith and tribes.

"Sheik ZakyZaky is a man of peace, he protected even the Christians and Muslims in Nigeria in the face of brutal Boko Haram insurgency, he is a symbol of peace and unity of many people all over the world."

Raza Kazim of Islamic Human Rights Commission while addressing the gathering proclaimed that " Imam ZakyZaky belongs to every school of thought, he belongs to Muslims, Christians, Hinduism and all religion groups and he is an emblem of peace.

 It is an act of condemnation for Nigerian Army to humiliate Imam El-ZakZaky who has been supporting the Nigerian government in every consultations to maintaining peace and safety of Nigerian people."

Some placards read : Stop Killing Nigerians' 'Release ZakyZaky' among others were displayed by angry protesters for  over two hours in the front of Nigeria High Commission in London.

Protesters were chanting  " Shame on Nigerian Army" along the Northumberland Lane adjacent to the Nigeria House. Some of the group of protesters who spoke to our correspondent said that similar protest shall come up on Sunday 20th December, 2015 which is the last part of the three peaceful protests in the same location.

All attempts to get reaction from the officials of the Nigerian House prove abortive as the Acting High Commissioner was believed to  be attending a send-forth party at the time the protest was taking place outside the High Commission.

Kaduna state government also banned all forms of procession until further notice and panel of inquiry has been set up to investigate the whole unfortunate incident.

A leader among the  protesters who are mainly non-Nigerians stated that the peaceful protest is to openly testify that they are standing in solidarity with the people of Nigeria.

 "We are asking for Freedom of Speech, justice and rights of religion observation. Enough is enough, we the Muslim nations need to stand together, that we are peaceful nations. Who is providing the amunition? Why is there is no official statement from the Nigerian government to condemn the ignoble acts of Nigeria Army? Muslims are  peaceful people and must not be treated like terrorists." he said.

By Lashley Oladigbolu in London.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The Nigerian Senate: Message like a snake, deliver like a free born. By Kehinde Ayoola

By Kehinde Ayoola.

There seems to me to be a disconnect between the Nigerian Senate and the Nigerian people as far as their aspirations are concerned. This has been the worrisome trend since its inauguration on the 9th of June, 2015.

The Senate is the Upper Legislative House of the National Assembly. The Legislature itself is the fulcrum upon which democratic governance revolves. Since 1960, we have had military interventions in the democratic process on two different occasions (I mean interventions that ended democratically-elected governments). These were January 15th, 1966 and December 31st, 1983. On these two occasions, the Constitution was suspended and military governance was foisted on Nigeria. The ensuing military governments operated the Executive Arm and allowed the Judiciary to function in so far as it suited their whims and caprices (decrees and edicts with ouster clauses, no-go areas and so on). But the legislature was totally erased. The legislative function of law-making was subjugated to that of the Executive Arm. The people had no direct representatives in government.

The Legislature is very important in a democracy. It marks the difference between a democratic government and a dictatorship.

When the foremost legislative house in Nigeria is therefore acting at variance with the yearnings and aspirations of the people, there is need to prick their ears so they may listen, learn and correct their ways.
Kehinde Ayoola JP, Former Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly
Politics is about interests no doubt. However, for a government that rode to power on the popular imperative for change, Nigerians need to see a lot of proactivity, seriousness, public-spiritedness and zeal from our lawmakers towards matters and legislations that concern their interests. That should be the sole watch of this Senate.

It is still a trending issue that the Senate wants to spend N4.7billion (Four billion, seven hundred million naira only) to purchase cars for what the Senate leadership called ‘Committee Work’.

Nigerians tend to see their Senators and Representatives on television only during Plenary Sessions. However, Plenary Sessions are about just an infinitesimal part of the work of the Legislature. Members are streamed into various standing and ad-hoc committees where the real work is. Committees are an integral part of the law-making process. In the processes leading to the passage of a Bill, there is what is called the Committee Stage where the relevant Committee meets to consider the new bill properly and make recommendations to the House on it. It is also the stage where a Public Hearing could be convened in order that relevant stakeholders could make inputs. In the case of our bi-cameral National Assembly, if a House passes a Bill, it is sent to the other House for passage. If after this is done and there still exists a difference in the versions passed by each House, a Committee of both Houses is empaneled to iron out the grey areas. Committees could also be charged with specific responsibilities such as special hearings, investigations or consideration of any other matter that may be referred to them by the President of Senate or Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Therefore, let no one hold lightly the importance of Committees to the proper functioning of the Senate in particular.

However, the Senate needs to carry out whatever it wants to do within the confines of absolute expediency. It needs to go about its duties with the ultimate aim of serving the people not in a manner that is offensive to the feelings of our people. Yorubas say when you are sent on an errand as a slave, do your utmost to deliver it as a freeborn.

The Senate should please demonstrate absolute sensitivity to the feelings of Nigerians in this period of socio-economic stress and emotional headaches for many families. With all due respect, none of our 109 Senators is a pauper. So what is wrong if, as a sign of sacrifice for our common good, they use their personal cars for committee work until things settle a bit financially for our nation?

It is just not right in my view to shell out almost 5 billion when we are still shell-shocked about the revelations from Dasuki-gate; when the President still issued a plea to those who have looted the nation to return the loots and when virtually all our revenue indices are pointing South such that government, according to the President, cannot easily pay salaries anymore.

Given that the Federal House of Representatives is about thrice the Senate in number that means about N14.1 billion (Fourteen billion, one hundred million naira only) will be needed to buy cars for Committee Work in the Reps! That will set the famished Nigerian treasury back by N18.8billion (Eighteen billion, eight hundred million naira only)

We must not forget that just before this car issue, the other matter about which many Nigerians were unhappy with the Senate was the controversial Bill that seeks to regulate the use of Social Media. Add to that the long-drawn internecine struggle for leadership positions in the Senate as well as the Senate President’s celebrated trial at the Code of Conduct Bureau. What you get is a potpourri of issues that dissatisfy and irk the Nigerian public.

Not for once have we heard a robust debate of issues on education, health, corruption, security, job creation, poverty alleviation, peaceful coexistence of Nigerians and so on. During the Senate screening of Ministerial Nominees, some of them made wonderful submissions on issues that urgently concern Nigerians. Many people still recollect Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola’s brilliant submission on State and Community Policing. Or Mrs Kemi Adeosun’s take on financial governance. Or Prof Isaac Adewole’s suggestions on healthcare. (Just to mention a few). Methinks by now, relevant committees ought to be interfacing with these individuals in both their personal and official capacities on how to make those concrete suggestions become practical realities.

The Senate and indeed the National Assembly ought to make their voice heard loud and clear that they are on the side of the suffering masses of the Nigerian people.

There must always be a nexus between the activities of our Senators/Representatives and the ultimate yearnings of the people of Nigeria whom they represent.

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Omi Tuntun, Igba Otun.

Kehinde Ayoola,

Twitter: @kehindeayoolajp

Telephone: 08023118487.


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

N19.4billion: EFCC docks Dasuki, Yuguda, Bafarawa others, on fresh corruption charges!

R-L: Sambo Dasuki, Aminu Babakusa, Shuaibu Salisu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday arraigned a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; a former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda; a former Sokoto State Governor, Attahiru Bafarawa; Mr. Bafarawa’s son, Sagir; and two others on fresh charges bordering on money laundering and criminal breach of trust.
The EFFC has accused the six of diversions, misappropriation and breach of public trust in respect of N19.4billion.
They were arraigned on 22-count charge before Justice Peter Affem of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High court.
When the charges were read to them, all the accused persons denied the charges one after the other.
Counsel to the Nigerian government, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, requested an adjournment of the trial till next year to enable him assemble his witnesses.
However, Counsel to Mr. Dasuki, Ahmed Raji, SAN, raised the issue of bail for the accused persons adding that motions for their bail had been filed and served on the prosecution.
The prosecution lawyer, Mr. Jacobs confirmed that he was served the applications for bail of all the accused persons.

Justice Affem adjourned hearing in the bail application until Wednesday, December 16, with the consent of all the lawyers in the trial.
He also ordered the accused persons kept in the custody of the EFCC until their bail is decided on Thursday.
Meanwhile in another FCT High Court, Justice Sani Yusuf adjourned bail ruling till Friday.
Mr. Dasuki, who was arraigned before Justice Yusuf, alongside a former director of finance at the office of the NSA, Shuaibu Salisu, and a former Group General Manager of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Aminu Kura, and two firms, Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Reference Hospital, had on Monday filed for bail after pleading not guilty to the 19-count charge bordering on money laundering and criminal breach of trust.
After over two hours of arguments and counter-arguments from counsel to both parties, Mr. Yusuf adjourned bail ruling to Friday. Mr. Dasuki will remain in EFCC custody.

A day ealier:

Mr. Dasuki with family members among others was on Monday arraigned before an Abuja High Court on a 19-count charge of money laundering and breach of public trust.
Those charged alongside Mr. Dasuki were a former director of finance at the office of the NSA, Shuaibu Salisu, as well as an aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamowei Dudafa.
A former general manager at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Aminu BabaKusa, and two firms, Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Abuja, were also charged.
The first charge accused Messrs. Dasuki, Salisu and Dudafa (said to be at large) of withdrawing N10 billion in foreign currency equivalent from the account of the NSA with the CBN on November 27, 2014.
The charge says Mr. Dasuki claimed to have distributed the money to PDP presidential primary election delegates – an act the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said was punishable under section 315 of the penal code Act, Cap 532, Vol. 4 laws of the federation 2004.
Another count says Messrs. Dasuki and Salisu withdrew N2.120 billion from the NSA account with CBN, between January 22 and March 19 and paid same to the account of Daar Investment and Holding Company Limited controlled by Raymond Dokpesi, for the funding of the media activities for the 2015 presidential election campaign of the PDP.
Messrs. Dasuki and Salisu were also accused of criminal breach of trust by withdrawing N90 Million from the NSA’s account with Diamond Bank Plc and remitting the said amount into the account of “Brains and Hammers Limited for the purchase of 7-bedroom duplex house at No. 11 Mansur Bamalli Drive (D1064), Apo 1, Abuja in the name of Abubakar Atiku Dasuki, the son of Mr. Dasuki”.
Messrs. Dasuki and Salisu also on 28 January reportedly withdrew N170 million from another NSA account with Skye Bank Plc and paid the money into the account of Urban Abode Nigeria Limited for the purchase of a four-bedroom duplex at plot 2562/2643, Platinum Villa (PV) Asokoro Abuja in the name of AVM M. N. Umaru.
The Nigerian government is also accusing Messrs. Dasuki and Salisu of illegally transferring N1.5 billion of Nigerian money held at Zenith Bank between October 9, 2014 and April 17 2015, to Acacia Holdings limited “controlled by one Aminu Babakusa purporting same to be payment for organizing prayers”.
The duo were also said to have on April 17, 2015 transferred N750 Million from the NSA account with Zenith bank to the account of Reliance Reference Hospital also controlled by Mr. Babakusa for organizing prayers.
In a separate charge, Acacia Holdings and its owner, Mr. Babakusa, were accused of collecting N1.45 billion from the account of the NSA with Zenith Bank, into their accounts with UBA and Ecobank, between October 9, 2014 and April 17, 2015, from Messr. Dasuki and Salisu for organizing prayers, knowing that the money “directly represented proceeds of criminal conducts and knowing same to be stolen property”.
Mr. Babakusa and Reliance Hospital were also accused of collecting N750 million from Mr. Dasuki on April 17, 2015 “which sum belonged to the Federal Government of Nigeria and knowing the said sum to be stolen property but purporting same to be payment for organizing prayers and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 317 of the penal code Act, Cap 532, Vol. 4 laws of the federation 2004”.
The government also said that on April 9, 2015, Messrs. Dasuki and Salisu transferred N380 million in the account of the NSA with CBN to the account of Belsha Nigeria Limited for “consultancy services”.
Messrs. Dasuki and Salisu were also accused of transferring, on 12th August 2014 and 23rd March, 2015, from the NSA account with CBN, the sum of N670 Million to the account of General hydrocarbons Limited with Guarantee Trust Bank, GTB, controlled by Nduka Obaigbena as payment for “energy consulting”.
Mr. Obaigbena is the publisher of ThisDay newspaper.
The two former government officials are also accused of transferring N260 million from the NSA account with Skye Bank to the account of a former chairman of the Board of Trustee of the PDP, Tony Anenih, with First Bank of Nigeria Plc.
Messrs. Dasuki and Salisu are also accused of criminal breach of trust when they allegedly transferred N345 million from the CBN account of the NSA to the account of Starbrid Limited with Stanbic IBTC Bank and GTB controlled by Emmanuel Lawani on behalf of Iyorchia Ayu, for the construction of a shopping mall at Jabi, Abuja, “purporting same to be payment for satellite charges and security equipment” thereby committing an offence punishable under section 315 of the penal code Act, Cap 532, Vol. 4 laws of the federation 2004.
In all, the EFCC said it was accusing Messrs. Dasuki and Salisu of conspiring to do an illegal act through criminal breach of trust by public officers between October 2014 and April 2015 by distributing N13.570 billion belonging to the Federal Government to politicians and cronies.
The EFCC said the offense committed by the duo is punishable under section 97 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, Vol, 4 LFN 2004.
The anti-graft agency also said by “dishonestly receiving stolen property” belonging to the Nigerian government, totalling N2.2 billion, Acacia Holdings Limited, Reliance Reference Hospital and Aminu Babakusa have committed an offence punishable under section 97 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, Vol, 4 LFN 2004.

Source: PremiumTimesNg

Sunday, 13 December 2015

OPINION: Time To Give and Inspire, By Dele Momodu

Nigerians, let me start by emphasising that there is no task bigger than empowering our youths and liberating them from abject poverty. I sincerely do not envy President Muhammadu Buhari in this regard. Most of our youths nowadays believe government can do it all but in reality this is impossible. There are different ways we can ameliorate the suffering of the unemployed. Government can only handle a tiny fraction of the humongous challenges while the rest of us must come up with creative ways of doing things.
The first key that can unlock the door of prosperity is education. Education is one of the greatest levellers in the world. The son of a certified pauper can become a celebrated man of means in little time if properly educated. The second key is inspiration. The world has reached where it is today because of the incredible vision of certain entrepreneurs who decided to make the world better than they met it. Whosoever can create job opportunities and provide employment for his people must be commended and encouraged. We must learn from the stories of their lives. That is why I’m in love with biographies. Life is not always a bed of roses as many imagine. Until you listen to what successful people went through in life, you never know how far they’ve come through thick and thin.
The key that is missing in Nigeria is Hope. That is why a lot of our youths snap at the slightest opportunity and see every successful man as the cause of their misery and frustration. This fact was amplified by one gentleman I call Professor Socrates, Mr Leke Alder. I had approached him in 2007 and told him of my vision to start something in form of a Christmas festival and he told me to give him a few days. I was stunned when we met later in his office and he made a presentation to our team on what the show should be called and what our goal should be. Pronto, he told us HOPE should be our watch word. And it came to pass.
Not many would remember that the Nigerian entertainment industry had not grown so big in 2007. D’banj and Don Jazzy were just warming up. Wande Coal and Dr Sid were apprentices working hard to become the megastars they are today. Tiwa Savage was not yet a household name. Banky W had just returned from his sojourn in the United States. Olu Maintain had not released his bazooka Yahooze. We didn’t know of MI. Ice Prince Zamani was still incubating. Wiz Kid was still a kid truly. Yemi Alade was virtually rehearsing. Waje was growing slowly and steadily. Davido was still David without O. Ovation Red Carol came from the blues and provided that platform of HOPE already erected by Globacom. They changed the lives and lifestyles of our entertainers. Before the extraordinary intervention of Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr. (GCON) most of our artists had fame without money. They lived perilously in penury. Globacom changed that forever by splashing millions of dollars yearly on our talented stars in music, movies and comedy. Sports was later added big time.
We drew our inspiration from that singular act of Dr Adenuga, the tireless bull, who chose to bring the Hollywood treat closer home. We moved out on the field to start the journey. Ideas are useless without support but we’ve always been blessed by God with the power of making and keeping good company.
One man stood stoutly with the dream at the time and rolled out with the train of empowering our youths. He is no other than Mr Tony O. Elumelu, (CON) the Chairman of Heirs Holdings and the global Bank, United Bank for Africa. The Ovation Red Carol brand grew so big that we expanded it to Ghana and we were fortunate to secure the backing of Africa’s telecommunications giant GLOBACOM as our lead sponsors in 2013 and 2014. We have been able to bring African artists together under one roof. Artists from South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Togo, and other countries performed at our shows. We kept growing and ready to fly across the wolrld.
We glow with pride whenever we look back at the unlimited exposure we’ve given to our young talents. Every year, we get numerous requests from up and coming artists wishing to use our platform to launch their careers as they always blow bigger soon thereafter. It is our humble and modest contribution to the development of African entertainment. We are eternally grateful to everyone who ever lifted a helping hand to support this vision. As Chief Moshood Abiola was fond of saying, “the hand of the giver is always on top,” they will never lack.
If we thought we had good shows in the past, Globacom has decided to take us to a different level. I do not want to go into too much detail yet but Globacom has issued a release about its plans to host a mother of all carols this year. There can be no doubt about what Globacom is bringing on the table. No company in Africa has repeatedly committed so much energy and resources to sports and entertainment, an area that had always been ignored by government. In terms of class and panache, Globacom is never timid. This is what the company released to the media and we were deeply touched by the accolades showered on us:
“The 2015 edition of the annual Ovation Carol scheduled to hold on Sunday, 20th December, 2015 at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos has received comprehensive support from Next Generation Network, Globacom.
To headline this year’s Ovation Carol is one of America’s living music legends, Evelyn Champagne King and one of the most illustrious and philosophical musicians Africa has ever produced, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi.
They will be joined by Glo brand ambassadors, Ayo Balogun popularly known as Wizkid, Omawumi Megbele and other top rated African musicians who have promised to give Nigerians and other international guests attending the event a memorable yuletide.
“In line with our tradition of adding value to worthwhile ventures, we are sponsoring the Ovation Carol to celebrate African music, fashion and culture. We have particularly chosen to support the Ovation Carol because we share the noble objective of the organizers of the Carol to use the platform not only to give sublime entertainment at this time of the year but more importantly to raise funds for various charity initiatives. It aligns with our avowed commitment to ensuring mirth for others in this season of goodwill to mankind”, Globacom said in a statement.
The company expressed its delight with Ovation magazine for carving a niche for itself in celebrity journalism by pushing the frontiers of magazine productions in aesthetics, pagination and contents:
“Carols are moments during which Christians appreciate, through melodious songs, the great sacrifice which the birth of Jesus signifies. They retell the story of love, redemption and regeneration which Christ stands for. In like manner, we would like to enjoin humanity to embrace peace, Godliness, empathy for others and sacrifice for the good of others in order for us to live more fulfilling lives as creatures of God who should not be divided by the banalities of this world”, Globacom noted.
“The Ovation Carol which started in 2007 has become one of the biggest and most sought after ceremonies during the Yuletide. The high octane event which brings together a galaxy of music stars from across the world under the atmosphere of praise, worship and entertainment, will be beamed live in Nigeria, across Africa and worldwide,” Globacom revealed.
What more can we add? The charity aspect of the event would be announced during the show. Our priority had always been in the area of education though we had supported hospices and the building of health centres in the past. Let the show begin.
Despite the hullabaloo surrounding the six-month old government of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, I wish to remain one of the die-hards who would not write him off yet.
I had the chance of sitting with one of the Ministers the other day and he was able to take us through some of the challenges being faced by President Buhari. For example, he described the state of hopelessness inherited by him in May 2015 and said only God knows what would have happened if PDP had returned to power. He said the past administration had spent and stolen the country dead and Buhari and his economic team are now under pressure to find ways out of the cul-de-sac they’ve found themselves.
There were other revelations he made especially on the mind-boggling issue of corruption. I told him I agreed with some of his submissions but there are few things to be done by the government. First they need to reach out more powerfully to the people and explain the true situation of things. There seems to be a lot of confusion in the land. The anti-corruption war has become a drama whereby government and the embattled parties are busy exchanging brickbats daily. Cases should be prosecuted as soon as possible in the law courts instead of trying to get judgment from the courts of the people. No matter what happens, there is no way of convicting anyone on the pages of newspaper.
Two, government must make up its mind about the oil subsidy regime. Difficult decisions would have to be made as it is practically impossible to hide behind one finger. The scarcity of petroleum products in a land overflowing with oil has become too embarrassing and unbearable. Something drastic has to be done. The fear of taking risks should be removed as there is no alternative on ground.
President Buhari is very lucky to have what is lacking in most leaders; integrity. I don’t know much about the coterie of aides around him but the President will obviously not do deals. This makes it easy for Nigerians to trust him with their lives. As one of Nigeria’s biggest tycoons described him to us “the atmosphere will never be conducive to discuss deals with Buhari…” This is his biggest asset and the reason I would plead once more that those criticising him should exercise some patience. Nigeria degenerated so much in the past many years and it won’t be fixed in under one year.
May God bless our leaders with uncommon sagacity.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Nigerian Troops killed terrorists, rescued 210 persons

Defence headquarters in Nigeria on Friday said no fewer than five terrorists were killed following a tip off at some remote villages witnessing the menace of Boko Haram in the Northwestern part of the country
In an encounter with Boko Haram terrorists, advancing troops of Nigerian Army at Furkati village, Geidam Local Government Area,  killed 5 Boko Haram terrorists and recovered 4 AK-47 rifles.
In a related development, troops responded to a tip off on Boko Haram terrorists’ besiege on Ejilije, Bulagaije-lari, Bulagaije-Adamde and Ajiri villages and holding the inhabitants captives.
The terrorists fled the areas before the arrival of the soldiers. The team found and rescued 210 persons,  comprising of mostly elderly men,  women and children who have been safely evacuated to an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.
The rescued persons said that they were brought there by the terrorists from various villages to be used as human shield in case if advancing troops of the Nigerian Army came to attack the Boko Haram terrorists.
The troops also recovered 1 Machine Gun barrel,  4 loaded magazines of G3 rifles,  4 Dane guns and some quantities of 7.62mm ammunitions, as well as empty canisters of Mortar bombs and a bandoleer.
The gallant soldiers have continued their advance, raids and patrols to further deny the Boko Haram.
Posted by Lashley Oladigbolu.

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