- Saturday, March 31, 2001
Akesode, LASU VC dies in his sleep
By Wale Fatade and Adewale Sanyaolu
UNARGUABLY an irony of life, on a day his tenure ended after a first
term in office as vice-chancellor of the Lagos State University,
(LASU), Fatiu Ademola Akesode, 60, a professor of paediatrics died in
Akesode, fondly called Olori Ebi (head of family) by LASU students was
on February 8 re-appointed for a second term after four years in the
saddle as the helmsman of the 17-year-old university.
Tunde King, Head of Information Unit of the institution confirmed
Akesode's death when contacted yesterday.
He will be buried today at Abari Cemetery.
According to a statement by Oluwatoyin Oshun, the university's a
special Senate session will be held in his honour at 9 a.m.
The five-paragraph statement reads: "The Lagos State University
authorities regretfully announce the sudden passing away of our
vice-chancellor, Prof. Fatiu Ademola Akesode, on Friday, March 30,
2001. Lagos State Governor Bola
"Burial will take place at Abari Cemetery, Lagos Island, at 4.00 p.m.
on Saturday, March 31, 2001.
"A special Senate will be held in his honour on Saturday, March 31,
2001 at 9.00 a.m.
"The lying-in-state will be at the MBA (Master of Business
"A convoy of buses will depart for the burial from the campus after the
Senate, from the main gate.
Ahmed Tinubu in a tribute yesterday said: "It is particularly
disheartening that the demise of the fine gentleman recurred just as he
was settling down to a second term as vice-chancellor that would
unquestionably have been as successful as his first term."
Tinubu, in a statement minutes after the vice-chancellor's passage
added: "Even though he is no more with us physically, the imprints of
this outstanding intellectual and administrator in the educational
development of Lagos State will forever remain indelible. It is all too
obvious that he elevated LASU to a much higher pedestal than he met the
institution. Under his wise guidance, the university made rapid
progress on all fronts. Not only did his reputation soar as a centre of
academic excellence but the peace that obtained during his tenure was
unprecedented in the history of LASU.
"I can personally testify to the persistence and unrelenting doggedness
with which Prof. Akesode pursued the interest of LASU. He utilised
every opportunity and avenue possible to draw the attention of
government to the numerous needs of the institution and the need to
urgently meet them in the interest of Lagos State. Let me say that I
was always encouraged by the patriotic leadership demonstrated by Prof.
Akesode to do whatsoever was in my power to foster the growth and
development of LASU. There is also no doubt that his dynamic leadership
was a key contributory factor to the willingness of individuals and
groups within and outside Nigeria to invest in LASU.
"I am aware that despite his heavy administrative burden as
vice-chancellor, Prof. Akesode remained a committed academic who would
not be counted among those, who all too readily prostituting their
intellectual integrity on the contaminating altar of material
acquisition, contributed a great deal to dragging our nation downhill.
"On behalf of the government and people of Lagos State, I extend my
heartfelt condolence to the family of the late professor. It is my
prayer that the Almighty Allah will grant his loved ones the fortitude
to bear this great loss. However, they should be grateful to the
Almighty that Professor Akesode has left behind a good and honourable
name of immeasurable value. He has bequeathed to us an incomparable
record of patriotic and dedicated service that shall continue to
inspire future generations. And for us all, his life offers an enduring
lesson. Between the point of our birth and that of our death, we have
the opportunity, through our actions and in-actions, to determine what
history will record of us for posterity. May Prof. Fatiu Akesode's
noble soul rest in perfect peace."
NANS in the statement by its National Treasurer Adepoju Sheriff also
paid glowing tributes to a man who "personally condoled and facilitated
the activities of Nigerian students during the death of NANS former
president, Moses Oisakede in 1999."
According to the statement, Akesode "passed away in his sleep in the
early hours of this (yesterday) morning." It also made three demands -
declaration of a three-day lecture and work-free mourning period;
naming of the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) auditorium after
Akesode and the immediate resolution of the succession crisis that
dogged his re-appointment - so as to avoid a vacuum and a rancour.
The late Akesode was born on March 18, 1940 in Lagos. He attended
Ansar-Ud-Deen School, Okepopo, Lagos, between 1946 and 1953; Methodist
Boys High School, 1954-58; Abeokuta Grammar School, Abeokuta, 1960-61.
He was at the University of Lagos between 1962-67 where he studied
medicine before proceeding to John Hopkins University, United States.
He was House Physician and Surgeon, Lagos University Teaching Hospital
(LUTH), 1967-68; Senior House Officer, LUTH, 69-70; Resident in
Peadiatrics, University of Maryland, USA, 70-73; Clinical Instructor in
Peadiatrics, University of Maryland, USA, 72-73; Clinical Fellow and
Instructor in Peadiatrics Endocrinology, John Hopkins University,
73-76; Senior Lecturer, Department of Peadiatrics, College of Medicine,
University of Lagos; Fellow, Nigerian National Medical College, 1978;
Fellow, West African College of Physicians, 1978; Fellow Royal College
of Physicians, Canada, 1980; member Canadian Peadiatrics Society;
member, American Peadiatrics Society; member Clinical Research Society,
USA; member American Peadiatrics Society; former Provost and Chief
Medical Director of Ogun State University Teaching Hospital (OSUTH).
Speakers oppose deregulation
By Oma Djebah
THE Conference of Speakers of the 36 states Houses of Assembly ended
its two-day summit in Lagos yesterday with a resolution that the
Federal Government should shelve its decision to deregulate the
petroleum downstream sector.
To the conference, deregulation of the petroleum sector would have
severe implications on the masses.
The Speakers said: "The conference opposed the move to deregulate the
petroleum sector. The masses of the country should not be made to
suffer for the inefficiency of the system in respect of management of
the petroleum resources problems on the country."
In a statement at the end of the meeting in Akodo, a suburb of Lagos,
they also formally notice of their plan to institute a legal action to
"resolve the issue of usurpation of power of the state Assemblies by
the Senate through the proposed law on the review of local government
system, particularly its tenure."
"At the conference of speakers of Nigeria's state Houses of Assembly
hosted by Lagos State, it resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee under
the chairmanship of the current chairman of the conference, Hon (Dr.)
A.O. Mamora. The committee would explore legal option to resolve the
issue of usurpation of the power of the state Assemblies by the Senate
through the proposed law on the review of local government system,
particularly its tenure," they said.
Members of the committee are Mojeed Mabi, Mike Oger, Chukwukadibia,
Simon Lalong, Bulama Ibrahim and Rabiu Kurfi.
Delta State Speaker, Basil Gana0gana had in his address called on the
Federal Government to embrace the idea of allowing Niger Delta states
to control their resources "because the issue of resource control is
now a life-long battle."
He said: "As far as we are concerned, this battle for resource control
is a battle that must be fought. We shall not give up until victory is
According to him, the next summit of the conference should deliberate
on the issue (resource control) extensively.
The deregulation plan has pitched labour against the federal
On Thursday, President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Adams
Oshimhole restated labour's opposition to deregulation in Abuja,
warning that it would not hesitate to call a national strike if
President Olusegun Obasanjo did not shelve the idea of deregulation.
But Obasanjo insisted on Thursday while speaking on the Nigerian
Television Authority (NTA) that deregulation is a path that government
must pursue. According to him, the NLC was part of the committee which
recommended the deregulation of the downstream sector of the nation's
Yakubu admits issuing AK 47 rifles for operation
By Ibe Uwaleke
AT the continuation of the hearing of the trial of the former Chief of
Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (rtd) and other aides of the
late Gen. Sani Abacha yesterday, former Military Administrator of
Zamfara State, Lt. Col. Jubril Bala Yakubu (rtd), also on trial, told a
Lagos High Court that he did not issue any AK 47 riffles to Sergeant
Roger and his group as claimed by him in his own evidence late last
year, in order to shoot the publisher of The Guardian, Mr. Alex Uremu
However, he admitted issuing the same rifles to some security personnel
(whose names or numbers he could not tell) from Abuja, to perform an
undisclosed operation at Ibadan, Oyo State when he was requested to do
In addition to issuing the weapons to the boys through his own five
personnel from his Battalion who he said co-ordinated the operation, he
also provided logistics, vehicles and feeding money to the boys which
he received from the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).
Yakubu also admitted participating in checking the entry into the
country of those he called American terrorists when he was to head of
the surveillance group in order to stop them gaining entry. He claimed
that the alleged terrorists were being imported by the National
Democratic Coalition (NADECO) at the peak of Nigeria's military-induced
Though he admitted his involvement in the surveillance and Ibadan
operation, he flatly denied ever relating with Sgt. Rogers either by
issuing him guns or in any other way in the operation in which Mr. Ibru
was wounded on February 2, 1996 after his car was shot at by his
On Thursday, Captain Nasiru Najaja, one of those believed to have been
used for the Makardi Operation to kill the former Delta State Sports
Commissioner, Mr. Isaac Porbeni in 1996, claimed that the statements he
made before the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) in October, 1999, to
implicate Gen. Bamaiyi and Col. Yakubu were made under duress after
harsh conditions were prescribed for him by the panel.
He was a witness in the trial within trial which the court, presided
over by Justice Ade Alabi, is currently handling to determine whether
Yakubu's statements at the SIP were obtained under duress on not. He
painted a picture of the hard conditions Yakubu was placed during his
interrogation in 1999 at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, a situation
which Yakubu expanded yesterday when he gave details of how he wrote
Yakubu was led in evidence yesterday by his counsel, Mr. Ibrahim Buba,
when the court convened for the matter at 10.30 a.m. After the usual
announcement of legal representation by counsel, Yakubu was docked. He
affirmed to the oath instead of swearing to it when the registrar was
asked to swear him in.
Lead counsel for Lagos State government, and the commissioner for
Justice and Attorney-General, Professor Yemi Osibajo was absent at
yesterdays proceedings. But he was represented by the state's Director
of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mrs. Grace Onyeabor, who led other state
Bamaiyi and Yakubu are standing trial along with the former Lagos and
Oyo State Police Boss, Mr. James Danbaba, the former Chief Security
Officer (CSO) to Gen. Sani Abacha Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and CSP
Mohammed Rabo Lawal.
Yesterday's proceedings ended at 1.10 p.m. at the request of Mr. Buba
who pleaded with Justice Alabi to close proceedings early enough to
enable him catch a flight back to Kaduna to perform the naming ceremony
of his new born baby. The judge, after wide consultations obliged and
moved further hearing in the matter till April 11 and 12.
The proceedings between Buba and Yakubu ran thus:
You left Abuja Airport at 2 a.m.
Yes, after about an hour we landed, our legs were still chained to the
seats of the aircraft and we were asked to get down. It was when we
were out of the plane that we discovered that we were at Ikeja Airport.
Thereafter we were taken straight into a waiting Black Maria.
To Black Maria?
Yes. Thereafter we were driven to a police station and were asked to
wait at the SPO's office until about 8 a.m. from where we were taken to
Ikeja Chief Magistrate Court. Before we got out of the Black Maria, the
handcuffs were refused.
From where specifically were you brought?
I was at the Force Headquarters, but I don't know where Bamaiyi and
Danbaba were before they were brought to the Airport.
For how long were you at the Force headquarters?
From October 5 to November 23, 1999, precisely 49 days.
Where were you kept at the Force Headquarters?
In cell 5 and later cell 3
ACP Yusuf said you slept in his office on the 5th October, is that
That is correct, until I was moved to the cell on October 6.
Who was with you?
I was there with three armed policemen and two other officers in civil
dress. I stayed there throughout the night until about 1.30 a.m. when
the chairmen of the SIP, CP Udo Ubam visited the office.
He came in, all the other officers left with me left immediately.
How were you kept?
My legs were chained and I was handcuffed.
On the 6th October, 1999 you said you were moved into cell 5, what time
were you in a particular cell?
I was in he Cell 5 because I was not cooperating with the panel. I want
my lordship to know that Cell 5 is a punishment - cell dirty, messy and
wet that you can hardly sit down on the floor. Cell 3 is a little bit
better. One can sit down on the floor because it was better than Cell
5. The difference between the two cells could be likened to Ajegunle
and Ikoyi (laughter).
Why were you moved to cell 3?
After I had agreed to sign and endorse my first statement on October 13
I was moved to cell 3 on the 14th.
Do you know any of the five persons you met in the office at Force
The first time I met them I did not know DSP Solomon Arase my IPO was
one of hem. They told me that they invited me to know my stewardship as
a Battalion Commander of the 26 Battalion, Bony Camp, Lagos. I inquired
from them which of my stewardship but replied, that I remember one time
when some terrorists were expected in Nigeria being sponsored and
brought into the country by NADECO. I was tasked to give surveillance
and arrest them on arrival.
Some security personnel from Abuja were attached to me. We were told at
the Airport that the terrorists did not arrive at all, and the
operation was called off and the personnel from Abuja went back.
I then told them that my second connection with the security personnel
from Abuja was when Capt. Mohammed the administrative officer of the
Villa along with other security personnel were going to Ibadan and I
was asked to provide them with a vehicle and I did.
I provided the vehicle the following morning. The panel members
demanded to know what operation they went to Ibadan to perform, I
replied that I did not know they then asked me to commit to writing
what I have said, including my biography.
It was then DSP Solomon was involved in the interrogation. He give me
cautionary words and asked me to sign, after I had written my
Please go on
After that, they started asking me many more questions. They asked me
if the co-ordination of the movement of the boys from Abuja was the
only connection I had with the group. I told them yes. They said there
are others but I stood my ground that, that is the only one. They then
gave me paper to write that reply. They then asked me if my commission
with the Security personnel was personal or official, I replied that I
was duly authorised by my appropriate higher authority. They, then
asked me to write that. They went on again to ask which was my superior
authority, I told then it was Lagos Garrison Command. That too I was
asked to write. They asked me the Commander of the Garrison. I replied
it was Maj. Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi as he then was. They also asked me how
many of my own personnel took part in the operation with the boys from
Abuja and I answered them five soldiers with one officer and one other
co-ordinating and providing logistics.
They demanded to know how many personnel from Abuja I replied that I
couldn't remember. They wanted to know what type of weapon were issued
to my personnel for the operation. I told them it was AK 47 rifle. They
asked me if I issued any rifle to the personnel from Abuja and I
answered that I could not remember.
What logistics were provided to the personnel? The panel demanded, I
told them feeding allowance that was given to the boys from Abuja.
Then, the panel wanted to know how I got the money and I told them that
it was provided by Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).
So many other questions were asked but I can't remember all now. But
they hammered on another operation which they claimed I issued AK 47
riffle to Rogers and I denied that flatly. They applied many tricks to
convince me, but I insisted that I did not remember issuing any riffle
They told me that I was being very difficult and reminded me that they
know much. I told them I could not help and that all I told them was
all I can remember.
They started advising me not tobe difficult. That I should cooperate
with the team so as to ease their work and simplify my suffering. They
later took me upstairs where SIP members were sitting and left the
office alone to me. However, there were armed policemen at the door.
After some minutes DSP Solomon came to invite me up. I was offered a
chair to sit.
Do you know them?
I knew only Lt. Col. Bubai a colleague in the military. The other five
members were also in attendance. As soon as I sat down the panel very
harshly told me that the panel was not there to investigate human
rights abuses. He then said that the investigators told him that I was
difficult I replied that I was not difficult since I did not know
anything before coming there. That all I know was what I told them.
The chairman then asked me my name if I can remember the name of the
President of Nigeria and the food late last night seeing how
humiliating the questions are, I refused to answer them. Then, he and
other members started insulting me and calling me a dull colonel. The
chairman started wondering how I was made a military administrator. He
said that my appointment must have been a compensation of my being an
Abacha aid and my activities in Lagos. And I replied immediately that
that was his opinion that as far as I am concerned I never killed
nobody to be compensated with the appointment of a military
He said if my appointment was not a compensation, low could a dull
person like me be appointed a military administrator and what did I
achieve in office. My reply was that it was a new state and I as a
pioneering administrate, I gave the state a good foundation for its
It was here one of the panel members Mrs A. A Obileye, a director in
NIA (National Intelligence Agency asked me what good foundation did you
lay when you went and planted sharia that is bringing confusion in the
country, Every other thing to all other members was an insult.
To me. Immediately, I realised I was there to be humiliated, I decided
not to reply any question again. The chairman told me that they would
not accept my statements as written. And that the panel would then give
me another clearance and advised me to go back and have a rethink and
try to remember all what happened.
Any issue they wanted you to remember?
Sure! When the chairman told me that I should try to remember
everything the panel like to know, he said particularly the issue AK 47
rifle issue to Rogers. DSP Solomon Arase took me back to the office and
left me under the care of those armed policemen and went back to meet
his colleagues. A few minutes later they came back to me and asked me
to try to remember what I did. I replied that I have remembered and
what I put in my statement.
They reminded me again to remember the issue of issuing AK 47 rifles to
Sgt. Rogers which was used for the attempt on the life of Mr. Ibru, I
denied totally. They pleaded with me and that they were sure I acted on
instructions so I would have no problems If I told them and mentioned
who gave the instruction to do. I told them I never knew who gave any
instruction and did not do anything like that.
They then said theirs was just a piece of advice to me and I should
cooperate with them I told them I did not issue any rifle to Rogers.
They told me if I did not co-operate, the panel can go to any length to
extract information from me. And as a former military administrator and
a colonel it would not be good for me to allow myself to be subjected
to some form of bad treatment.
I stood my ground that I did not issue anybody any rifle. They asked
the names of the adjutants of my battalion during the period of the
airport operation arguing that there was one of the adjutants, one
Capt. Jalihu that I issued the rifle AK 47 for the operation. All these
I denied and wrote.
After you wrote your second statements what then happened?
They took the statements upstairs to meet the panel members. After a
few minutes I was called up again. As soon as I entered, the chairman
addressed me that I was just been difficult since I had refused to
co-operate with the panel. And that as dull as I am, I should not try
to be smart to the panel. He declared me an unreliable witness and
should be treated as shabbily as the panel desired. He asked the
investigators if they told me anything like VIP. But instead of
answering the question, they all laughed.
It was when I was being taken to cell 5 that it became clear to me what
they mean by VIP as it was referred to.
Were you told why you were taken to Cell 5
It was because of my uncooperative attitude. At this moment, I realised
that I would not be allowed to go home.
Justice Alabi adjourned further hearing in the matter till Wednesday,
April 11 and Thursday 12 for the continuation of Yakubu' evidence.
Surgeon wins N90m for racist attack on Nigerian
IT sounded like fiction, but a consultant surgeon has won a staggering
sum of �500,000 (N90 million) settlement for backing a Nigerian trainee
plastic surgeon over a sexist racist victimisation.
The consultant, Dr. Jude Evans, alleged that she was suspended by
Derreford Hospital, Plymouth, Devon, South West England, was victimised
and her competence questioned because she had defended the Nigerian
trainee who was abused by a male surgeon in the hospital.
According to media reports, the male surgeon had said to the Nigerian
trainee: "You are not operating on bloody Nigerians now; these are my
patients, they are normal human beings."
The male surgeon and another consultant later made complaints about Dr.
Evans' work soon after she defended the trainee she (Dr Evans) was
suspended on full pay.
However, Evans took her case to an employment tribunal after an
independent investigation found no problem with her work.
At the eve of the tribunal's two-week sitting, a deal was reached
between the National Health Service Trust (NHS Trust) and Dr. Evans
over the 500,000 pounds pay-out.
The chief executive of the NHS Trust, Mr. Paul Roberts in a statement
said: "Like the rest of the NHS, the Trust takes equal opportunities
very seriously," adding that the events at Derriford Hospital raised
questions around equal opportunities
He continued: "I would wish to confirm my commitment to ensuring that
our arrangements at the Trust are in line with National Guidance and
The hospital commented that the serious personality clashes between
colleagues within and outside the Plastic Surgery Department made it
impossible to bring back Dr. Evans, adding that the strife between the
doctors in the department was affecting its ability to recruit new
But for Dr. Evans who expressed confidence on the commitment of Mr.
Roberts to equal opportunities issues, the episode was already looking
closed, and according to her, she looks forward to the challenges of
developing her career outside of Derriford Hospital.
Ige insists on legal action, at Fafowora's book launch
By Uduma Kalu
THOSE asking the Federal Government to withdraw the resource court suit
against the state governors should rest their voices as the case is not
for the masses of the country to decide. Rather it is a legal matter,
and so will be decided by the courts.
These were the submissions of Chief Bola Ige, Attorney General and
minister for Justice yesterday, at the public presentation of selected
Essays and Speeches on Nigerian Diplomacy, politics and Economics
written by Ambassador Oladapo Fafowara at the Nigerian Institute of
International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos.
And in Delta State, Governor James Ibori has declared those opposing
resource control as hypocrites who are violating the Nigerian
Ige, who was reacting to a question on whether he would listen to the
voice of many Nigerian asking the government to withdraw suit said:
"voice of the people? In fact, if you read Igbinedion, Igbinedion the
governor of Edo State, stated the correct position. So which voice of
the people they (people) have their own point of view. It is a legal
matter. It is not a matter for hoi polloi (masses)".
Ige, who declined comments on state police, was apparently referring to
the speech by Igbinedion on the position of the southern governors to
go to the Supreme Court with the government.
However, the publishers of the book, Ambassador Olu Sanu disagreed with
certain views of Fafowora as expressed the book.
Fafowora is unhappy with Nigerian staff in the United Nation (UN)
system, both at the UN Headquarters and in the field, saying they do
not show enough patriotism and allegiance to Nigeria.
Sanu however, said that the attitude of the staff was determined by
Article 100 of which he stated that UN staff shall not seek or receive
instructions from any government or from any other authority external
to t he organisation and shall refrain from any action which may
reflect on their position as international officials responsible to the
He agreed with Fafowora's views on patriotism but said the truth of the
matter is that for a greater, part of the last 25 years, Nigeria, as a
nation state, was an embarrassment to Nigerians on the staff of UN
Secretariat and in the diaspora in general. It should therefore not be
a surprise that Nigerians of the UN had a lukewarm attitude towards the
The reviewer of the book, Prof. Jide Oshuntokun said that the book was
present "to herald the coming of democracy to Nigeria after the years
of locust and economic briandage of the military era."
The author himself expressed hopes that some of his reminiscences on
foreign office would replace cross of collective memory and archival
documentation occasioned by the burning of the ministry of External
Affairs in Marina, Lagos in 1983.
Govt awards N154.5b road contracts
By Lekan Sanni,
FEDERAL Government has so far awarded N154.5 billion contracts for the
construction of 125 roads and six bridges across the country. Contracts
for the engineering design of another 116 roads and bridges at a cost
of N1.2 billion have also been awarded.
Tony Anenih, Works and Housing Minister, at the third Joint Conference
of the National Councils on Works and Housing said that government
decided to commit such sum to the road section because of its
He regretted that although successive administrations at all tiers
showed interest in the development and upkeep of roads in the country,
such (interest) was never matched with sufficient allocation of fund.
Anenih who was represented by the Minister of State, Garba M. Ali said:
"This administration inherited a national road net-work that was in
deplorable state of description and needed urgent attention as a basis
for proper socio-economic development. The focus of this administration
is therefore the revitalisation of the highway infrastructure and the
development of a sustainable policy on highway maintenance and
"In order to realise this objective substantial sums of money have been
committed to the highway sub-sector, contracts have been awarded for 64
roads and six bridges covering a total length of 2,780 kilometres of
roads and 3,494 metres of bridges valued at N46.71 billion.
"Recently, we have awarded and flagged off three major highway projects
that are so dear in the hearts of Nigerians. These are the dualization
of Ibadan-Ilorin road, Abuja-Keffi road and the special repairs of
Enugu-Port-Harcourt express road.
"Government has also awarded 61 other contracts for the
rehabilitation/construction of a number of federal roads and bridges
nation-wide. These contracts cover about 3,591.38 km of roads and
2,152.20 metres of bridges valued at about N107,8181,124,372.76. Also,
contracts for the engineering design of 116 roads and bridges valued at
N1,221,204,506.25 were awarded."
In the area of housing, the minister said that efforts are being made
to complete many of the abandoned housing projects scattered all over
He said that the government has discovered that the mortgage industry
has performed below expectations in the area of house financing.
Therefore, he said, it (government) has decided to merge the Federal
Mortgage Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Mortgage Finance limited with
the aim of revitalising the mortgage industry, thereby making houses
affordable and available to the people.
He said that although the National Housing Fund remains the best
opportunity to facilitate home ownership in the country, many
contributors have failed to avail themselves of it.
The fund had N5 billion as at August 31, last year. Out of the about
two million contributors, less than 1,000 have so far applied for loans
under the scheme, the Anenih said.
Meanwhile, the conference has called on the Federal Government to set a
target for road maintenance as a mean of halting further deterioration
of the national road network.
The conference in a statement after the meeting in Lagos also called on
the National Assembly to give consideration to the Bill on National
Road Maintenance Agency pending before it.
The 25-point statement wants the federal and state governments and
councils to enact laws preventing dredging of sand within safety limits
of any bridge foundation and also set up bridge maintenance units to
monitor and maintain all bridges on a regular basis.
Among others, the council noted the need for proper documentation in
project execution and as such urged all tiers of government to ensure
as a matter of policy that the design and all tender documents are
completed before the award of contracts;
the absence of Land Use and Allocation Committees in some states and
the improper composition of such committees in others and asked that
such committees be properly constituted in line with the provision of
section 2, sub-sections 2 and 3 of the Land Use Act of 1978; and
the decision to merge FMFL and FMBN and asked the government to embark
on the repositioning of the NHF to make it move responsive and
Tribute as Ajose is buried
From Muyiwa Adeyemi, Johnson Okanlawon (Imeko)
AMIDST eulogies, the remains of the Pastor and head of Celestial Church
of Christ (CCC) World wide, Philip Hunsu Ajose was buried yesterday at
the conference centre of the Church, Celestial City Imeko, Ogun State.
And,, in what appears to be a swift reaction to the scheming to succeed
him, the board of trustees of the sect has declared that "succession is
not the priority of the Church now".
At the funeral service in front of Ajose's personal bungalow completed
early in the year, a member of the board Senior Evangelist Olayinka
Adefeso said that what the Church has gone through in the past six
months calls for fervent prayers form all the faithfuls.
He said: "for now, the whole Church is trying to listen to the word of
God. What has happened to us in the past six months calls for fervent
prayers. We are still praying and the Church will get a new leader
after God must have instructed and directed the Church."
He also made public some far reaching decision and proclamation made by
the late Pastor to the applause of the faithfuls. According to Adefeso,
"we want the whole world and the indigenes of Imeko to know that the
good work started by Rev. Ajose has not ended with his death. His work
in Imeko continues and will continue till glorious days."
He added: "It has been ordained by Rev. Ajose that the seminary at
Makoko (in the outskirts of Lagos) be transferred to Imeko and this has
been ratified by the board of trustees.
"Also he has ordained that any Pastor who succeeds him should live at
However, the vacuum created by the death of Ajose might have been
noticed in the organisation of the sect. The funeral service that was
billed to start by 12.pm could not begin until 1.30pm. The elders of
the Church went for and unscheduled marathon closed -door meeting to
discuss an undisclosed agenda. However, a source told The Guardian on
Saturday that the meeting was held to checkmate succession moves being
made by some people.
Before the final funeral service, Ajose's remains were laid-in-state in
front of his house. He was dressed in a snow-white sauterne with his
Pastoral cap and a copy of the Holy Bible placed beside him. The
collapsible wooden casket made by a Lagos-based funeral undertaker has
an in-built transparent white perspect and its interior was covered by
Superior Evangelist Giblert Jesse, the head of the Nigerian Diocese led
the funeral service.
He urged all Celestial church faithfuls to continue the good work of
Jesse said that the late Pastor did not die but he slept in the bosom
According to him, "We should not mourn him instead we should mourn
ourselves. No regret over his death because he has got to the pentacle
of his Christian life.
Ajose was buried at the left-hand side of the Pastor of the Church,
Abiodun Bada's tomb while that of Superior Evangelist Ajanlekoko was in
the right side, signifying their siting arrangement when they were
During the interment, a moon appeared on the sky which attracted
attention of the thousands of the church members at the graveside, a
sign, according to the church members that the soul of the departed
clergyman had been accepted by his maker.
According to a faithful, "that moon that appears on the centre of his
grave means that, the Almighty has accepted his soul. There was also a
rainbow during the wake keeping on Thursday night. And we saw this kind
of sign during the burial of Papa Oschoffa, that's why we are glad that
he did not die in vain."
Also at the entrance of the conference centre, some Imeko Youths under
the aegis of Imeko Youth Forum carried a placard to remind the church
elders of the plans of their later pastor and founder, Pastor Oschoffa
Their placards read: "The emerging pastor must stay in Imeko; "complete
the Celestial city project; "Don't change Papa Oschoffa's plan for
Imeko" one of the leaders of the Youth forum, who identified himself as
Segun Adeyemo, said the youths and elders of the town world want the
church elders to speed up the development of the Celestial city and
"should not just turn the city to a burial ground."
Rev. Ajose, the third Pastor of the Church, passed on February 24,
barely a week after his official enthronement as the spiritual head of
Many Christian leader and government officials attended the burial. The
Lagos State Government was represented by its Commissioner of Healthy,
Dr. Lekan Pitan who brought the state condolence message and announced
a gift of N0.5m cash form the state government of the church
First Bank's ultimatum on couples expires June 1
From Mike Osunde,
MARRIED couples who work for the First Bank of Nigeria Plc have up to
June 1 to decide who between a couple relinquish the services of the
bank under its repositioning strategy.
First Bank's Head of Human Capital Management said the management's
decision "is in line with industry best practice."
But a group called committee of concerned citizens based in Benin city,
Edo state denounced the policy, describing it as an abuse of the human
rights of the individual.
The groups spokesman, Mr. Willy Osazuwa Evboumwan, said in a letter to
the federation of Nigerian women In Politics (FONWIP), said the Bank
must be stopped otherwise its strategy will go a long way to cause a
lot of problems in various homes.
The bank had said in a statement that the management was aware of the
likely impact on the affected staff members and had therefore approved
a three-months notice period effective from April 1, 2001 to all
married couples within the bank to enable hem put their house in order
and decide which of the two will leave of the bank.
"In addition, management, is its usual magnanimity will allow the
retiring partner to exit under the recently concluded incentive package
for early retirement, to be based on the salary of staff as at March
It warned any couple that gives false information on the status of
their marriage in the form of false separation, change of name or use
of maiden name, that they would be sanctioned, and advised them to
comply with the bank's directive and be guided accordingly.
However, Evbuomwan in his letter to FONWIP, asked what the offences of
the couples was and wondered what negative effect married couples
working in the bank have caused to warrant their premature exit from
To Evbuomwan, married couples working in the bank have been of
tremendous benefit because according to him, a survey has shown that
must of them exercise more care, diligence, trustworthiness and honesty
in the discharge of their duties.
Urging FONWIP to stop the bank from carrying and its threat, Evbuomwan
said the bank's statement was capable of destabilising many homes.
Evbuomwan said he was aware that the former Managing Director, D. C.
Ademora, took his wife from the bank and that both of them rose to high
positions without a problem.
Dialogue, key to sustainable growth, says Don
FROM the academia came yesterday another acknowledgement that national
dialogue between different ethnic groups in the country remains the key
to sustainable national integration.
This was part of the resolutions of a two-day conference on Rekindling
the Flame of Development Through a Humanistic Management of Pluralism
organised by the Faculty of Arts of the University of Lagos, recently.
According to a statement made available to The Guardian on Saturday
dialogue which would foster co-operation and cultural exchange remains
one of the humanistic approaches to resolve the mounting problems
militating against the nation's advancement.
Identifying corruption, ethnic conflicts, social climbing, subversion
of values, kleptomania and gross abuse of trust among others, as some
of the problems the statement by the Dean of the Faculty and Convener
Agwonorhobo Eruvbetine hoped that these may soon be a thing of the
"The human being (Nigerian) read to be made the focus or epicentre of
all developmental policies and projects" he said.
He added that humanistic management is an innovation being offered by
the academia to resolve the vexed issues of managing the national,
social, political, and economic development of a plural society like
The conference recommended that the authentic traditional conflict
resolution techniques which are participatory, conciliatory, and
human-centred should be preferred in conflicts resolution. It said
community-based security outfits (vigilance groups) be encouraged and
harmonised with the more formal national security system.
On the development of youths, it advised government to put in place an
all-round education that places premium on human values, skills and
development while multi-language policies should be practically
realised in schools across the country.
The statement said literary programmes with infused lessons in the
positive values be embarked upon as this is a catalyst to advancement.
It called for fairness and equity in all gender matters, emphasising
that the aged, disabled and the despised by given the enabling
opportunities to realise their basic humanity.
Besides, the statement pointed out that individuals and corporate
bodies need be aware of and take practical steps in ensuring the
viability and sustainability of the environment, while constitutional
provision that would take advantage of the positive potentials of the
nation's pluralistic imperatives of ethnic conflicts, religions
cultures and politics be encouraged.
Group advocates generational power shift
From Kola Alade Ibadan
A Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, the Arole has called for
generational shift of power.
The group blamed Nigeria's woes on the inadequacies of the past and
present leaders and viewed with disdain, the past 40 years of
nationhood which he said, had been dominated by the same old
According to the chairman of the group, Mr. Muyiwa Alabi, "some of
these self-serving leaders became governors, ministers, commissioners
and heads of parastatals between ages of 25-35. They have turned our
generation into the 'seen and not heard brigades.' We have become
hostages of fate."
"The justification for the existence of leaders in Nigeria as a whole
and Youbaland in particular, should be meaningful contributions to the
community at large but apart from hiding behind the image and thinking
of Awo what creative contributions have they made?" he said.
While declaring the past leaders a Dark Stain on Nigeria, it demanded
for immediate removal of "generational road blocks" erected against the
20 persons in police net over woman's killing
From Frank Omololu Agbana, Lokoja
Over 20 persons identified as Fulani nomads have been in police custody
in Kogi State over the alleged murder of a 60-year-old petty trader
Madam Rebecca Igunu, who was found beheaded near her house in
Iddo-Isanlu Yagba East Council.
The Chairman of the council Mr. Ekundayo Balogun who disclosed this to
the The Guardian on Saturday on Thursday in Lokoja said the arrests
being made were the results of a joint effort by the police and the
vigilance groups in the area.
"It was a gory sight to behold. That is the remains of the innocent
woman after her gruesome murder. It was a display of man inhumanity to
man that must not be allowed to happen again."
He noted that although 20 persons had been arrested over the murder,
investigations were still on not only to bring the perpetrators to
justice, but also to stamp out the trend which he said had become
rampant in the area.
Efforts to seek confirmation from the police spokesman at the command
Headquarters, Lokoja, proved abortive as he was said not to be
Investigation revealed that the late Madam Igunu, a mother of eight was
killed on Thursday, March 15, by two unidentified men, believed to be
Eyewitnesses said that the incident occurred about 10 p.m when the
assailants were said to have approached the deceased at her shop under
the pretext that they wanted to buy a loaf of bread and a bottle of
Coca-Cola soft drink.
"Soon after their request was granted an old woman who was sitting with
Igunu bade her good night and left."
According to the account, an argument ensued between the woman and the
two men when she gave them a bill of N60. They refused to pay, saying
it was "bogus"
"Then from a distance we heard footsteps of people bolting away and in
a brief moment they disappeared into the bush.
"The action of these men, coupled with the sudden quietness from mama's
shop, the scene where she had words with the customers, raised our
suspicion. Our fears were, however, confirmed when on getting to the
scene we met her lying in her pool of blood, her head hanging loosely
to her body by what seemed like only two veins."
The incident was said to be the latest of similar gory killings in the
area in recent times in which some Fulani cattle rearers had been
Only last month a hunter and father of 18 children was said to have
been matcheted to death while repairing his bicycle near Odo-Ogbe by
men suspected to be bororos.
Motorists and travellers on Ilorin-Kabba-Lokoja road have also groaned
under the nightmare of highway robberies suspected to be perpetrated by
the same people.
Dead journalists: NUJ should demand compensation from Taylor, says
THE Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) should initiate a programme
through the Federal Government to compel Liberian President Charles
Taylor to pay reparation for the two Nigerian journalists who were
killed in 1991 during the war in that country.
That was the contribution by elderstatemen MCK Ajuluchukwu, during the
launch of a campaign by Mr. Okey Onwuchuwku, chairman of NUJ Champion
Newspapers chapel, for the compensation of the families of the dead
journalists by the Liberian Government.
The dead journalists were Krees Imodie of The Guardian and Champion's
In a welcome address at the maiden memorial lecture, organised by the
chapel yesterday in Lagos, to honour Awotunsin, Onwuchukwu noted that
the Liberian Government has become stable enough to own up to its
responsibility, especially since the country's president had admitted
He said that the deceased journalists' families were suffering as a
result of the killings, adding that they needed to be paid reparation
and compensation to ensure their survival.
But Chief Ajuluchukwu, who chaired the occasion, remarked that today's
youths were not matching their words with action.
"Otherwise they would have compelled the Federal Government to arrest
Charles Taylor when he visited Nigeria recently, to pay compensation
for the two journalists."
Also speaking, Mr. Feyi Smith, the Newspaper's Assistant General
Manager, Marketing, emphasised the need for a life Insurance scheme for
journalists in the country in view of the peculiar nature of their job.
The Vice-Chairman of the Lagos State Council of the NUJ, Alhaji Wahab
Oba, said the union was already negotiating with some insurance
companies to insure its members.
He said the union would follow up the issue of reparation for the two
journalists, adding that it would also assist their families
National film rejoins Information, Orientation ministry
From Jane Ezereonwu, Abuja
NATIONAL Film Corporation, a federal agency under the supervision of
the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in the past three years, has
returned to its fold under the Federal Ministry of Information and
At a handing-over ceremony yesterday in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary
of Ministry of Information and National Orientation, Dr. Safiya
Mohammed, noted that the ministry was happy to have the film
Futhermore, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and
Tourism, Mr. Umar Abubakar, said they were complying with directives
from the Presidency.
He said: "In compliance with the presidential directive to my minister
to hand over the management of film corporation to your ministry, I am
mandated to do the necessary. I therefore came over to carry out her
The Managing Director of the corporation, Dr. Hignus Ekwuazi, said they
were happy to be back and expressed hopes that their performance would
be improved under the Information and National Orientation Ministry.
Besides, the board of the five parastatals under the Ministry of
Information and National Orientation has been inaugurated by the
minister. The board of National Television Authority is headed by
Mallam Yakubu Hussaini; that of News Agency of Nigeria by Alhaji
Abubakar Bitako; Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Joe Ebusie; Federal Radio
Corporation, Alhaji Yakubu Alabi and National Broadcasting Commission
by Mr. Obong Akpan.
Inaugurating the boards yesterday the minister, Prof. Gerry Gana,
stated that there was a need for them to work hard to give the country
Also at the occasion, the Director-General of NTA, Ben Muray Bruce,
told the members of the board that they would not want to be encumbered
in any way as they had been working smoothly with the minister before
He said: "We have been doing well with the minister and would not want
to be disrupted by gossips or other forms of encumbrances from members
of the board. We want to continue working the same way."
Foot, mouth disease: Oyo orders entry points' monitor
TAKING a cue from European countries which have taken precautionary
measures to keep at bay the foot and mouth disease ravaging the
continent, the Oyo State Government has ordered the surveillance of all
its entry points to prevent the entry of livestock infected with the
Disclosing this recently in Ibadan, Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr.
Kola Thomas, said 49 additional veterinary doctors had been employed to
monitor and check the spread of infectious diseases in animals in the
state. He said that the state government was particularly concerned
about reports on the mad cow disease and the foot and mouth disease in
Europe, and had put in place, measures to prevent them from spreading
to the state.
The commissioner said the veterinary doctors would monitor the
slaughtering of livestock at abattoirs, and ensure that no infected
animal was slaughtered. The Oyo State House of Assembly had summoned
the commissioner to intimate the legislators on activities of the
In another development, the state government has concluded arrangements
to retrieve and convert shops used for the Family Support Programme
(PSP) in the 33 local government areas of the state, into payless
shops, the Chairman, Commodity and Pricing Committee, Chief Taiye
Ayorinde, has said.
Ayorinde gave the information in Ibadan on Wednesday, saying that the
measure was necessitated by the escalating cost of food stuffs in the
He said that necessary steps had been taken to recover the shops from
"squatters," who took over the use of the shops after the FSP became
defunct, explaining that the "payless shops" would sell food stuffs and
other commodities to interested buyers at the cost price.
He noted that already, a committee had been set up and was discussing
with foreign associates interested in marketing some of their
Julius Berger begins Champions' League title chase
By Kunle Solaja
JULIUS Berger FC boss, Daniel Idama during the week made spirited
efforts to drum up support for his team ahead of today's opening game
for the African Champions' League.
He remains convinced that in spite of an unimpressive outing in the
domestic league, Julius Berger could still win the African Champions'
His boys, playing about 80km away from their actual home begin the
title quest with an encounter with Equatorial Guinea's Sony Ela Nguema.
"The boys are motivated. They are mentally and physically ready
"remarked Chief Idama in a press statement.
Julius Berger are making their second attempt at winning the title
which for close to four decades was eluded the over one dozen Nigerian
clubs that have featured.
For Julius Berger, it is the second attempt after their debut in 1992
ended in a first round elimination by Morocco's Wydad Athletic of
New blood have been infused into the team managed by former Flying
Eagles' coach, Tunde Disu. The club's poor performance in the league
has been a major concern to fans.
But under Coach Disu, Julius Berger has been able to move a little step
up from the bottom rung of the league's table.
Meanwhile, the champions' league duel between cup-holders, Ghana's
Hearts of Oak and Etoile du Congo has been postponed for a week, CAF
CAF granted the Ghanaian club the request for postponement because
three of their players are involved in tomorrow's African Youth
Championship Final match with Angola.
Hearts of Oak are originally due to play the Congolese club tomorrow.
The African Youth Championship has also caused the postponement of
another champions' league match between St.George of Ethiopia and
Tusker of Kenya.
African cup fixtures (first round matches
African Champions League:
DIARAF Dakar (Senegal) v Real Banjul (Gambia), Dakar
ASEC Abidjan (Ivory Coast) v Stade Malien (Mali), Abidjan
Julius Berger (Nigeria) v Sony Ela Nguema (Equatorial Guinea), Lagos.
SC Villa (Uganda) v Vital'O (Burundi), Kampala
AS Marsouin (Reunion) v St Michel United (Seychelles), St. Joseph
Al Ahli (Egypt) v Red Sea (Eritrea), Cairo
Esperance (Tunisia) v JS Tenere (Niger), Tunis
St George (Ethiopia) v Tusker (Kenya), Addis Ababa
Young African (Tanzania) v Highlanders (Zimbabwe) Dar-es-Salaam
Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) v Costa do Sol (Mozambique), Pretoria
CR Belouizdad (Algeria) v Al Ahli Tripoli (Libya), Algiers
Al Merreikh (Sudan) v Power Dynamos (Zambia), Omdurman
Raja Casablanca (Morocco) v USFA (Burkina Faso), Casablanca
TP Mazembe Englebert (DR Congo) v Anges de Fatima (Central African
Hearts of Oak (Ghana) v Etoile du Congo (Congo), Kumasi Fovu de Baham
(Cameroon) v Petro Atletico (Angola)
African Cup Winners' Cup:
PORT Autonomme (Senegal) v Club African (Tunisia), Dakar
Olympic FC (Niger) v Stade Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Niamey
Olympique Bamako (Mali) v Inter Luanda (Angola), Bamako
Royal Armed Forces (Morocco) v Al Hilal (Libya), Rabat
Evico (Gabon) Walkover v Okwahu United (Ghana) withdrew
Steve Biko (Gambia) v CR Ben Tour (Algeria), Banjul
V Club Mokanda (Congo) v Niger Tornadoes (Nigeria), Pointe Noire
Atletico (Burundi) v Kumbo Strikers (Cameroun), Bujumbura
Matehedje (Mozambique) v Coffee FC (Ethiopia), Maputo
Mathare United (Kenya) v Ismailia (Egypt), Nairobi
EC Djivan (Madagascar) v Simba SC (Tanzania), Antananarivo
Al Hilal (Sudan) v Zamalek (Egypt holders), Omdurman
Nkana FC (Zambia) v Military Police (Uganda), Ndola
Mogoditshane Fighters (Botswana) v Sunshine SC (Seychelles), Gaborone
Stade Tamponnaise (Reunion) v Kaizer Chiefs (South Africa), Tampon
Gazelle (Chad) or Praia Cruz (Sao Tome e Principe) v AS Saint Luc (DR
Manchester (Congo) v AS Aviacao (Angola), Pointe Noire
Al Mahalla (Libya) v ASC Ndiambour (Senegal), Tripoli
Mouloudia Constantine (Algeria) v Al Merreikh (Sudan),
ConstantineKatsina United (Nigeria) v Simba FC (Rwanda), Katsina
SM Sanga Balende (DR Congo) v Deportivo Mongomo (Equatorial Guinea),
FC Jirama (Madagacar) v Ferroviario Maputo (Mozambique), Antananrivo
Zanaco (Zambia) v Green Mamba (Swaziland), Lusaka
Mtibwa Sugar (Tanzania) v EELPA (Ethiopia), Mogorosi
Oserian Fastac (Kenya) v Arabica FC Kirundo (Burundi), Nairobi
FC 105 Libreville (Gabon) v Cotonsport (Cameroon), Libreville
World Cup 2002 hosts skeptical about corporate donations
JAPAN's 10 World Cup host cities are mostly skeptical about plans to
make up for a shortfall in the budget for the 2002 event with corporate
donations amid the country's economic stagnation.
"We have not even opened a gambit in talking about corporate
assistance," said Mutsuhisa Ueda, head of the municipal World Cup
office in Osaka, the industrial and commercial hub in western Japan.
JAWOC, the Japanese organizing committee for the World Cup to be
co-hosted with South Korea in June next year, has downsized its draft
budget by 2.7 billion yen ($22 million) to 60.7 billion yen ($493
The new budget plan was due to be announced on Friday.
In an effort to balance its books, JAWOC's branches in the 10
municipalities plan to collect 100 million yen each in donations,
mostly from businesses, with the help of local administration.
But officials in eight of the 10 venues told AFP it would be difficult
to strike the target.
"Japan as a whole is in such a terrible financial state. We have not
even taken the first step in discussing donations," said Hiromi Sangu
of the World Cup office in Niigata by the Sea of Japan.
"We thrived with shipbuilding, automobile and electric machinery
companies in the past, but many of them have moved offshore," said
Kenji Uotani, executive director of planning at Yokohama's city office.
"Unfortunately, we have received no direct economic help from
JAWOC's head office in Tokyo had expected itself to receive about five
billion yen in subsidies and donations, but the total should fall
short, press reports said.
Last December, JAWOC asked the 10 municipalities to pay up 100 million
yen each to help finance the renovation of football stadia to suit
World cup specifications.
But only three of them- Yokohama, Shizuoka and Kobe - have so far
approved the payment while the others kept waiting for JAWOC's new
Now JAWOC hopes to recruit sponsors for the World Cup host cities -
other than 15 worldwide sponsors and six domestic sponsors for the
World Cup finals - the daily Nikka Sports reported Thursday.
"This show at least that JAWOC is really serious about the financial
situation," said Shizuoka World Cup official Akihide Ishigaya.
UNICAL makes sports meet annual event
HENCEFORTH the University of Calabar Inter Faculty/Departmental Games
which hitherto was a biennial event is to be made an annual event.
This is to encourage fitness and comrade feelings among the staff of
The Vice-Chancellor of the School, Prof. Ivara Esu, made this known in
Calabar early this week while declaring the Eighth edition of the games
tagged "The Millennium Reunion" open at the Abraham Ordia Memorial
Esu, who was the special guest of honour at the opening ceremony, said
"as staff and parents, we must show good example to our students by
using the sporting events as a therapy to associate with others in the
spirit of brotherhood currently existing in the University of Calabar."
He expressed his administration's readiness to ensure maximum
participation in the games by making available all that is needed to
make it successful.
"When the Sports Committee is drawing up the budget for the games,
provisions should be made to cover the purchase of balls, jerseys,
tracks suits and foots and every other thing needed for a hitch free
games," he said.
He thanked the Organising Committee for putting the games in place in
spite of the lean resources at their disposal.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Staff Sports Committee of the school, Dr.
Okon Eyo, said the event "is among other things to encourage
recreational activities among staff, create and sustain the awareness
of physical and mental fitness, foster social interaction and mutual
understanding among various categories of staff and engender the spirit
of healthy competition among faculties and departments."
Eyo who said that the games which started in 1980 could not be held in
1993, '95, '97 and 1999 due to the unfavourable attitude, put up by the
previous administration thanked the Prof. Esu-led administration for
reviving the games.
He called on sports' lovers in the university to support the games by
sponsoring events or donating trophies to be competed for in the games.
He also appealed to the school authority to restore the departmental
vote for sports to encourage sports development in the school.
The opening ceremony featured a march pass by the competing
faculties/departments, welcome song and callisthenics by students of
the University of Calabar International School.
'I was misquoted'
THE world over, history is replete with actions or utterances of great
men, usually leaders for good or otherwise. The more reason why their
pronouncements or speeches remain on the marble for many generations
after their own. From Sir Winston Churchill to Abraham Lincoln to
Martin Luther King Jr. who had "a dream" which remained a reference
point till today. Adolf Hitler, for whatever his actions were worth.
John F. Kennedy, great statesman. Even our own Gen. Murtala Mohammed,
the legendary Zik of Africa and the sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Many of
them worked to earn the name, and the reputation. So it is with
contemporary leaders too, within and outside the shores of Nigeria. How
can one easily forget the likes of Bill Clinton and Cuba's Fidel
Castro? In Nigeria, many political leaders are still working hard at
consolidating on the reputation they have built for themselves. Some
are just starting off. Attorney General and Minister of Justice Chief
Bola Ige a.k.a Cicero belongs to the former camp. Senate President
Anyim Pius Anyim belongs to the latter group.
One thing is common, however, to the two leaders - at least for this
week: They were misquoted by (who else?) the ubiquitous, idle
journalists on two sensitive issues. Chief Ige was reported to have
rained curses on policemen who extort money from innocent citizens. It
took the minister a signed public statement to deny the press reports
which stated that Chief Ige spoke at a public function at the
inauguration of the Human Rights Committee of the Nigerian Bar
Association in Abuja.
In his defence, the "Cicero" said whatever he said was blown out of
proportion by the media. According to him, he only chided erring
policemen but did not curse the Police Force.
The matter was considered serious enough to warrant a clarification by
the police who were reassured of the minister's unflinching regard for
the Force and the corps of officers.
For Anyim, the eavesdroppers called journalists again went to town to
tell the people that the Senate President had fallen in love with any
arrangement that would allow more than three parties as key players on
the political field,. As usual many media organisations in their news
judgement considered the news juicy enough to be published. Some had it
as the lead copy on the window page.
Anyim, however, denied later that he gave his blessing to the campaign
and therefore it must have been based again on wrong premise.
His own defence: It was a matter before the upper legislative chamber,
hence he could not have put up a personal opinion on it.
There is no doubt that these highly respected government functionaries
have a right to change their mind on any issue, or as they want us to
know, the right to say they were misquoted. But something is wrong
somewhere if more than four, five newspapers would be reporting an
event or a pronouncement by a government official or a politician of
note in almost similar perspective (and even quoting the official) only
for the concerned functionary to deny the claim. Could such denials or
refutations be an afterthought after the official attention might have
been drawn to the import of the statement?
Well, their reaction is understandable because their political career
can be jeopardised by opponents who are waiting in the wings to latch
on to any fault or miscalculation of politicians holding public
offices. One only hopes that the era of being misquoted by the press is
not back, even when the press boys have such statements on tape.
Thank God our friends in Khaki have been shown the way out of
government, otherwise, in their manner of dealing with issues, some
people would have been cooling their heads behind bars for publishing
"wrong" information about one general or vice-admiral or one air
marshall in a pepper soup corner.
There is a great need for our political leaders to be cautious in their
utterances, both in private and in public. If at all, and when
necessary, what would be expected of them are profound comments that
would be etched in the minds of generations following them. The press
may have its failings but that is not to say they are always wrong
especially on matters which give a pattern of reporting.
FOR upwards of two weeks, NITEL treated its customers to fitful
telephone services, most noticeable in the outgoing week. The telephone
service provider is one of government's sick babies, agreed. It is
however miles ahead of the leper caller NEPA. In fact if I were a NEPA
official, most likely I would be concealing my identity in public for
fear of the unknown. It is simply a failed agency, promise of an
eldorado from December this year notwithstanding. Who is even banking
on the promises? Perhaps, only an incurable optimist.
Sorry for the digression but it is necessary at times. As for NITEL,
despite its preparation for a new baby in the GSM, it is yet to provide
the quality services expected of it in its present op<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
- Govt, Labour talks end in deadlock
* Police stop rally in Benue, gov faults fuel
From Collins Olayinka (Abuja), Simon Nwakaudu
(Makurdi), Anietie Akpan (Calabar) and Auwal
THE Federal Government and Nigeria Labour
Congress (NLC) attempt at finding amicable
solution to the present stalemate over the
increase in the prices of petroleum products
yesterday hit the rocks as both parties failed to
agreed on all issues raised.
Speaking with journalists after the parley, NLC
President, Adams Oshiomhole, said: "Nothing has
changed, there is nothing positive."
Asked what the thrust of the parley was,
Oshiomhole stressed further: "They asked us to
come and we tried to discuss the issue of the
price increase and the consequences of the hike
and the team admitted not having mandate to
discuss on these issues. Therefore one can say
there are no positive indications yet."
Oshiomhole was however quick to add that the
phased protest rally scheduled to hold across the
country will go on.
His words: "Yes, we were persuaded to shelve our
proposed rally. But we told them that the protest
rallies have to go on because they are not
something we are doing out of fun. But in all we
expect the government to respond quickly because
this time, there is no ultimatum."
The NLC also disclosed that no time has been
fixed for reconvening.
Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Hassan
Lawal described the meeting as successful. "The
meeting was okay. It was calm and peaceful. We
have adjourned and we shall be resuming soonest.
The NLC group wants to go and make consultations
and we are also going to make more consultations,
especially on issues raised by the NLC. They have
intimated us on their intention to hold rallies.
Nobody is against rallies as long as they are
peaceful and I want to assure that government
will not in any way interfere with that. But we
believe it is better to sit, dialogue and
understand all the issues concerned."
The Minister of Information and National
Orientation, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr., on his own
part remarked: "It was successful because we
basically engaged in dialogue and that is
consistent with the constitution. No meaningful
development can take place in an atmosphere of
disharmony or confusion. So, for the fact that it
is Nigerians that manage Labour issues is very
consistent with the constitution and democracy.
We believe that their attitude is worth
commendation. We want them to continue in that
The minister also said that it would be wrong to
describe the meeting as failure. According to
him, the meeting indeed recorded some
achievements. "It would be wrong to say that
there is no meeting points. What happened was
that we've met for four hours and there was some
fatigue. That is why we decided to adjourn to
later reconvene." He however failed to give a
definite time when both parties are expected to
A statement from the office of the Secretary to
the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot
Ekaette, said: "The SGF said he has no mandate to
reverse the increase in the price of petroleum
The statement however added that Ekaette assured
that the Federal Government would address the
problems occasioned by the increase with a view
to cushioning the hardship.
"Chief Ekaette however gave an assurance that the
Federal Government would address problems that
have arisen from the increase in prices of
petroleum products so as to lessen the burden
being experienced by Nigerians."
The statement also said that Oshiomhole denied
serving any letter of a nation-wide strike on the
Federal Government but instead, the NLC and its
allies have decided on series of public
demonstrations across major state capitals in the
country scheduled to begin on September 14.
"Comrade Oshiomhole told the meeting that the NLC
had not served notice for strike action but what
the NLC has proposed is a public demonstration
price increase scheduled for next Wednesday,
Also in attendance at the meeting was Ekaette who
led the delegation, Minister of State for Water
Resources, Bashir Awoterebo; Minister of State
for Agriculture and Rural Development, Otunba
Bamidele Dada; the Economic Adviser to the
President, Prof. Ode Ojowu and National
Co-ordinator of the National Poverty Eradication
Programme, Dr. Magnus Kpakol.
Other stakeholders present were the Chairman of
Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency
(PPPRA), Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi; its Secretary,
Oluleye; the Group Managing Director of the
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),
Dr. Funso Kupolokun and the Permanent Secretary
of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Tieiebi
Meanwhile, an attempt yesterday by the Benue
State Council of the NLC to hold an anti-fuel
price increase rally was thwarted by the police.
Major streets of Makurdi, the state capital and
the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Square,
venue of the aborted rally, were taken over by
armed anti-riot policemen.
Also yesterday, the Cross River State governor,
Mr. Donald Duke, faulted the latest fuel price
increase, declaring that something is
fundamentally wrong with the managers of the
country's petroleum industry.
Anti-riot policemen numbering over 200 stopped
the protesters from entering the IBB Square.
Those who attempted gaining entrance into the
square were forcibly sent back by the security
Across the state capital, anti-riot policemen
positioned themselves at strategic points to
ensure that the workers did not hold the rally at
The state NLC chairman, Mr. Boga Abuul, at a
press conference on Monday, announced that the
rally would be used to sensitise people on the
need to support any action to be embarked upon by
He said that the Benue NLC was waiting for
directives from the National Secretariat of the
NLC on what to do to force the Federal Government
to beat down the N65 per litre of petrol price.
In a statement justifying its action, the state
Police Command Public Relations Officer, Mr.
Adesanya Jinadu, said: "The state NLC is hereby
advised to immediately call off the protest rally
and resort to constructive engagement with the
stakeholders rather than adopting a method that
will bring about lawlessness and anarchy in the
He warned that the police would take all
necessary measures to ensure that lives and
property were protected.
Attempts to speak with the NLC chairman on the
botched rally proved abortive as aides said that
he had gone into hiding to avoid police arrest.
Meanwhile, the price increase has affected
transport fares across the state. Intra and
inter-city fares have increased by 50 per cent.
Governor Duke has also decried the increase in
the pump prices of petroleum products, saying the
managers of the petroleum industry should be held
responsible for the citizens' woes.
Duke wondered why for six years now in the life
of the present administration, no single refinery
had been built in the country.
The governor, who spoke in Calabar at a monthly
press briefing, noted that "the pump price
increase is one of those unfortunate issues in
our economic life. It is shameful that we have
not solved the problem of our refineries and
until we stop the importation of products, which
are marketed at international prices, we will
continue to have this problem."
He added: "There is something fundamentally wrong
somewhere with those managing the petroleum
industry. Common economic sense tells us that a
good chunk of it (crude oil) should be refined
locally. Primarily, Nigeria is a producer of the
The problem the country is facing, he stated, is
not the shortage of crude but a shortage of
In a related development, the North-Eastern
States Legislators' Forum (NESLEF) has condemned
The forum at its fifth meeting in Gombe, called
on the National Assembly to take appropriate
measures to reverse the new prices of N65 to N50
According to the group, the Federal Government's
argument is not convincing enough to justify the
continuous increase in the prices of petroleum
products considering the revenue the country is
realising from the sale of oil in the
It advised the Federal Government to reactivate
the existing refineries to guard against further
The legislators also alleged the marginalisation
of the sub-region in the cassava production
programme of the Federal Government, adding that
the zone was very qualified for the scheme.
They added that the region's cassava was the best
in the country and therefore needed to be
encouraged to improve on the production.
Cholera in Niger threatens Nigeria, says WHO
By Chukwuma Muanya
FEARS that cholera now ravaging some communities
in Niger Republic may spread to Nigeria have been
raised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The United Nation's (UN) health agency said that
its apprehension was heightened by a fresh
outbreak of cholera in Niger districts right at
the border with Nigeria.
Seventeen new cases of the disease have been
reported in Niger's southern Tahoua region since
August 19, WHO spokeswoman, Christine McNab,
said. Twelve of the cases clustered in the
district of Konni included four deaths.
"It's a very high case fatality rate," McNab told
Five other cases were found in the past three
days in the nearby district of Madaoua, she
The new cases come on top of 108 others,
including 11 deaths, reported elsewhere in the
same region since last month. The newly affected
districts are right by the border with Nigeria.
"We are concerned about this because cholera,
while it can be treated easily, often kills those
who aren't treated," McNab said.
"We are concerned also because it is so close to
the border with Nigeria...and we don't want to
see that spread further or spread across
Cases of cholera were reported in Nigeria last
year, according to WHO.
The agency said it was planning a mission to the
newly affected districts. Authorities in Niger
had intervened to treat wells and water supplies
and distribute medicine.
McNab however told Agence French Presse (AFP)
that no link had yet been established between the
cholera outbreak and the food crisis in Niger,
although malnourished people will be weakened and
more vulnerable to infection.
Officials of the Federal Ministry of Health said
last Friday that a recent cholera outbreak in
Kano had killed 30 people. A source from the
ministry said medical teams were working to
prevent the bacterial infection of the intestine
Romo Adamu, a top health official, said hundreds
of cholera infections had been reported, with 30
dead so far.
The ministry recorded a total of 1,616 cases and
76 deaths from October 15 to November 23, 2004
and Edo State recorded 300 cases and 50 deaths
from September 16 to November 18, 2004.
In Kano, 20 local councils were affected with the
case fatality rate highest among those less than
two years and over 60 years of age.
The possibility of a major cholera epidemic in
Nigeria was yesterday corroborated by a public
health physician at the College of Medicine,
University of Lagos (CMUL) and the Lagos
University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Adebayo
T. Onajole. He said: "Cholera is endemic in the
whole of Nigeria. It occurs at low levels most of
the time. When it is in epidemic proportion, it
is always as a result of a breakdown in social
services within that environment. It is not
limited to occurring between September and
The physician added: "It is always present all
the time. It is not unexpected in Kano because of
the way of life and lack of proper social
services like potable water supply, efficient
sewage disposal system and poor food hygiene
processes. It is spread by contamination of water
or food from somebody who has it. Most of the
time, it is by faecal contamination of water and
food. These predispose them to cholera spread,"
Onajole said that cholera outbreak or even
epidemic is possible in Lagos. "This is because
the level of hygiene and waste disposal is poor.
Drinking water pipelines pass through the drains.
In most markets in Lagos, food items are exposed
beside gutters and toilets. Nobody is enforcing
food hygiene. It is not only cholera that can
thrive in these situation but other diseases.
Cholera has a shot incubation period and can kill
within 48 hours."
WHO said that "the current wave of cholera
outbreaks started several weeks ago in West
Africa. So far, 31,259 cases and 517 deaths have
been reported in eight countries. Seasonal
factors such as the rainy season, along with
population movements in the area contribute to
this unusually high incidence of cholera."
Cholera, according to Onajole, is a severe
bacterial infection of the intestine caused by
Vibrio cholerae, when infected food is eaten or
contaminated water taken. Symtoms of cholera, he
said, include diarrhoea and vomiting, leading to
First Bank, Ecobank unite for pan-Africa services
By Enitar Ugwu
FIRST Bank of Nigeria Plc and Ecobank
International Incorporation (EII), the parent
company of the Ecobank Group, are set to give
birth to a pan-African banking institution.
A statement jointly signed by Ecobank Group Chief
Executive Officer, Mr. Arnold Ekpe, and First
Bank Managing Director, Mr. Jacob Ajekigbe, said
that the agreement on the proposed combination
"will cover issues such as shareholding
structure, strategy, integration, management,
governance, valuation, due diligence, and such
other steps or actions that may be necessary in
realising the objectives of the parties."
It said that both banks believe that the
combination would enhance shareholders' value by
eliminating duplication and reducing operating
costs through shared services. It continued: "It
is also anticipated that a combination of both
institutions will have the resources to
considerably grow revenues by expanding into new
countries and market segments."
The bank chiefs explained that the discussions
would also take into consideration the Memorandum
of Understanding (MoU) of Ecobank's Nigerian
subsidiary with two other local banks, namely
Chartered Bank and Regent Bank, subject to the
approval of all parties.
When the deal is completed, the emerging group
will have total assets of over $5.5 billion and
over 470 branches and offices in 13 West and
Central African countries. There will be a
subsidiary in the United Kingdom (UK) and a
representative in South Africa.
Already, Ecobank has over 110 branches in 13
countries in West and Central Africa and Nigeria.
First Bank, on the other hand, has over 360
branches spread across Nigeria, a subsidiary in
the UK and a representative office in South
Africa, as well as 10 local subsidiaries and
Reacting to the development, Chief Philip Asiodu,
chairman of the Ecobank Group, noted that "this
combination marks the second phase of the
evolution of Ecobank into a leading pan-African
bank. In the first phase, Ecobank ushered in the
era of indigenous regional banking in Africa and
has grown over the past few years into a U.S.$2
billion banking group, with shareholders from
over 15 countries in Africa and beyond. Our
shareholders include Francophone, Anglophone and
Lusophone nationals and institutions."
To his First Bank counterpart, Alhaji Umaru
Mutallab, "the combination with Ecobank gives
added meaning to the concept of globalisation and
Nigeria's increasing integration into the global
economy. By providing a platform that leverages
First Bank's strong domestic competencies and
Ecobank's unique and impressive transnational
coverage, we are creating a sub-regional
presence, with the financial wherewithal, the
technological endowment, and the transaction
know-how to intermediate the financing needs that
will drive our continent's economic development."
Minister restates ban on importation of barytes,
EVEN if future discoveries are not made, the
Federal Government says that Nigeria has
sufficient quantities of barytes to meet its
Consequently, the government has declared that
the ban on the importation of barytes and
bentonite will remain in force. Further steps, it
says, will be taken to increase local production
and utilisation of the two solid minerals.
The two minerals are extensively used by oil
companies in exploration activities and
maintenance of their wells.
The Minister of Solid Minerals, Mrs. Obiageli
Ezekwesili, who restated the government's
position on the ban of the two commodities in
Abuja yesterday, said that all provisional
concessions for barytes and bentonite importation
would be reviewed.
She spoke at a roundtable discussion on
production and utilisation of barytes and
bentonite. According to her, the ban on the two
commodities would be maintained with a view to
boosting domestic production.
The meeting sought to consider why, despite
proven reserves of the commodities they have
remained unutilised in oil drilling activities in
Ezewesili said: "This administration is convinced
that high-grade barytes and bentonite are not
only available in commercial quantities in
Nigeria but are also being mined by such private
operators like the Nigerian Barytes Mining and
Processing Company Limited (NBMPC), a subsidiary
of the Nigerian Mining Corporation (NMC), Jos in
Citing efforts made since 1999 by the Federal
Government to increase local production of the
two items, Ezekwesili observed that such efforts
had resulted in the discovery of barytes reserves
in Edo, Nassarawa, Zamfara, Cross River, Taraba,
and Benue states.
The minister put the yearly market demand of
barytes at 130,000 tonnes, and assured that
production can conveniently service all local
needs for more than five years, even without
She, therefore, called upon all stakeholders,
especially drilling companies, to support
government's efforts to diversify the Nigerian
economy and break away from its present
Ezekwesili said the intensity of exploration
activities and the exploitation of high-grade
barytes had been largely unsuccessful due to:
* pricing of Nigerian barytes by mud-drilling
companies operating at below prevailing
international market rates;
* deliberate rejection of barytes at Port
Harcourt and Warri (Delta State) to frustrate the
* under-valuation of the specific gravity of
Nigerian barytes; and
* under-weighing at the supply depots of the
mud drilling companies.
Atiku's family releases list of items with FBI
A COMPREHENSIVE list of the items taken from the
United States home of Vice President Atiku
Abubakar by some officials of the American
Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has
The Vice President's family, in a statement
yesterday, said that it released the list to put
the records straight. Some media houses (The
Guardian not included) had reported that huge
sums were taken by the FBI operatives from the
home during a search on August 3.
The family said that the statement followed "many
enquiries on the items removed from the house"
during the raid.
The statement added: "In order to reassure the
public, the family has decided to make public the
information contained on the document containing
the report of the search which was jointly signed
by the FBI officials and a representative of the
family. But at the time of the raid, the family
had already returned to Nigeria."
The FBI document is entitled: Receipt for
property Received/ Returned / Released / Seized.
According to the Vice President's family, the FBI
document was signed by the investigators' team
leader, special agent Mark Stanley of the
Northern Virginia Resident Agency but operating
out of the Washington Field Office. The other
signatories are Patrick Fallon and Michael James
Lasut of the Washington Field Office, who were
accompanied by police officer J.P. Cissel of the
Montgomery county, Maryland Department of police.
The statement listed the seized documents as
including "one envelope with house sketch, an
employee schedule information and employee
contact information, a green "Standard diary" and
a 2005 Appointment Book."
The list also includes a "possible list of camera
locations, software and operation manual for DVR,
a kalatel digital recorder, a multiplexer and a
Manila envelope with William Jefferson's return
The family said that "the special agents
concluded that the FBI of the U.S. Department of
Justice, at the time of conducting a search,
'certify that the above represents all that was
obtained by special agents of the Federal Bureau
of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice' ".
The Vice President's family lawyers, who made the
information available, according to the
statement, "deplored the attempt by some
newspapers to sensationalise the issue through
the fabrication of falsehood."
The FBI search was a part of investigations into
the conduct of Jefferson, an American
Congressman, who is being probed over some
suspected under-the-table deals with some African
leaders. Jefferson visited Vice President
Abubakar's U.S. home two days before the search.
The Congressman has been linked to an American
firm's offer to do business with the Nigerian
Telecommunications Limited (NITEL).
Also being investigated by the FBI in connection
with a similar alleged deal is Ghana's Vice
President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama.
Customs stops import concessions, targets N230b
ALL concessions on importation of raw materials
have been cancelled, the Nigerian Customs Service
(NCS) disclosed yesterday. Henceforth, only
President Olusegun Obasanjo can approve the
granting of duty exemptions or wavers.
The Comptroller-General of the Customs Services,
Jacob Gyang also disclosed in Abuja yesterday
that government lost about N27 billion through
such concessions last year. He added that with
the cancellation, the NCS would likely meet the
N230 billion revenue target set for it this year
by the government.
"These adjustments will open more windows of
opportunity for better collection and there is
every likelihood that the revenue target for this
year will be met," he stressed.
Gyang disclosed that the NCS has already
collected N111.8 billion as revenue in the first
six months of this year.
He said the revenue target for last year was N120
billion, while N118 billion was collected. On the
problem of smuggling, he said the activities of
the agency were yielding positive results as the
incidence of smuggling had fallen "drastically."
With regards to textiles, he said the NCS had
seized about 167 containers of contraband
imported into the country and that between 80 and
90 per cent of these containers were loaded with
He frowned at the suggestion that such seized
materials should be sold through public auction
or be distributed to the needy, instead of being
Justifying the policy of government to destroy
the goods, the Comptroller-General stated that
such imports were avenues of laundering drug
He therefore wondered why proceeds from such
illegal business should be legitimised by
distributing them to Nigerians.
"We are not burning our money because the foreign
exchange used to import them was not sourced
legally and so the government is not losing any
revenue in this respect.
"Secondly, we have a character problem in
Nigeria. If we say we should distribute the
materials to the needy, what is the guarantee
that it will get to the people targeted.
"Before you know it, people assigned to execute
such tasks will corner them and become textile
"Until we can sort out this character problem we
can not run like other societies," he said. The
only imports being disposed by public auction, he
said, were refrigerators, deep freezers and
vehicles among others, because burning would
compound the existing environmental problems.
New Owu's monarch, Dosumu, for coronation on
From Charles Coffie Gyamfi, Abeokuta
THE stage is now set for the coronation and
installation of Oba Olusanya Adeboyega Dosumu,
Amororo II as the Olowu of Owu. The event is
slated for Monday, October 3, 2005 in Owu,
Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Dosumu, whose selection as the Owu monarch was
trailed with controversy, will on that day ascend
the throne as the traditional ruler of President
Olusegun Obasanjo's hometown.
He was picked from six contestants, all from the
Amororo Ruling House, to succeed Oba Adisa
Odeleye, an architect who died about two years
In a statement yesterday in Abeokuta, the
chairman of the Coronation Publicity Committee,
Mrs. Seyi Aderinokun Olusanya explained that the
week-long activities to mark the occasion would
be unfolded soon.
She said that President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is
also the Balogun of Owu would be chief host of
the event, which is expected to draw several
At his Ipebi solitary confinement yesterday, the
Olowu-elect told journalists that contrary to
media reports, President Obasanjo did not
influence his selection as the new monarch.
He explained that he was favoured for the throne
because among all the contestants, he was the
only "direct" descendant of a past Owu monarch.
According to him, the Owu Chieftaincy Declaration
states that it is only when there is no direct
descendant of a past Oba that those from the
maternal side of a former monarch can be
He insisted that all his rivals were from the
maternal sides of past Owu rulers.
Dosumu, who said that the media had not been fair
to him in their reports on the tussle for the Owu
throne, explained that he kept quiet until now
because of his belief that God would chose the
"I used to pray one prayer during the crisis. My
prayer was: God, please yourself, if you don't
want me there (throne), I must not be there," he
On his plans for his people, Dosumu said he would
promote peace, love and unity in the community.
Edo summons security meeting over robberies
From Mike Osunde, Benin
AGAINST the backdrop of the rising crime wave in
Edo State, the state government has summoned a
security meeting to hold today in Benin-City.
The meeting is coming in the wake of calls by
banks for the return of the recently recalled
joint military-police operations set up last year
when robbers terrorised the state.
The joint operation was disbanded recently to
allow Police take up its responsibilities,
following the mass transfer of officers from the
Government House sources said yesterday that all
divisional police officers in the state, bank
managers and other stakeholders have been invited
to the parley slated for Government House.
At a meeting the bankers held with the state
Police Commissioner, Muktar Abbass, they called
for the return of the joint military-police
patrols. They argued that their presence helped
to stem the tide of robberies since December last
The Police have had to foil two bank robberies in
the last three weeks.
Addressing journalists after meeting with the
bank managers, Abbass said the Police were on the
trail of the robbers and were making conscious
efforts to frustrate what he called their
"enterprise" by beefing up security in bank
At the briefing, Abbass said a number of arrests
including university students involved in robbery
operations have been made.
Meanwhile, a seminar on security and its
challenges to the Nigerian society will preced
the episcopal meeting of the Catholic Bishops
Conference which opens in Benin, next week.
The seminar, organised by the Catholic
Secretariat of Nigeria, is apparently in response
to the growing security problems which the host
Bishop, Dr. Patrick Ebosele Ekpu, said has become
Ekpu, the Archbishop of Benin Diocese, told The
Guardian that security was one of the cardinal
responsibilities of the government to the
According to Ekpu, if a government fails to
secure its citizens, it is failing in one of its
major responsibilities for being a government.
Nigeria to become major LNG exporter, says
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has assured that
Nigeria would become a major exporter of
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in the next three to
Speaking at a lecture titled: "Nigeria and the
African Union" on Monday in Mexico City, Obasanjo
said that everything was being done to make the
country able to take the lead in the global LNG
He said that part of his discussions with the
Mexican president, Mr. Vincente Fox included the
need for Mexico to purchase LNG directly from
Nigeria instead of securing it from a third
He said that both countries had agreed to work
closely for the enhancement of their economic
progress, adding that trade missions from both
countries would exchange visits before the end of
Obasanjo said that both countries had agreed to
set up a joint commission that would work
actively for their mutual benefits and called for
greater collaboration between developing nations.
He added that what Africa needed from the
developed world was access to their market,
stressing that the next WTO meeting in Doha and
Hong Kong should "truly work for the growth of
both developing and developed economies."
Meanwhile, President Obasanjo has said that he
had found that women in his administration are
more loyal than men. Speaking at an interactive
session with members of Mexico's National
Assembly, Obasanjo said that at least 30 per cent
of his ministers were women.
He told the lawmakers who spoke of efforts by
their parliament to address discrimination
against women that though Nigeria was also facing
similar problems, there were no disparities in
salaries of men and women.
Obasanjo said however, that the country was
battling a serious problem of male chauvinism
"and that is my quarrel with them (men)."
"They believe that men should be on top," he
said, pointing out that one of the most effective
ways of addressing discrimination against women
was to give the girl child equal opportunities in
He said that his party, the PDP, also practised
an affirmative action in favour of women,
allowing at least 15 per cent of political
offices for women.
Ngige, Obi feud splits Igbo confab in U.S.
From Gordi Udeaja,
Los Angeles, USA
BUT for the prompt intervention of the
President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Joe
Irukwu on Saturday, September 3, 2005, the
special awards session of the World Igbo
Convention (WIC) in Los Angeles, United States,
would have been disrupted.
Reason: Members reacted differently to the
recognition of Mr. Peter Obi, recently declared
winner of the Anambra State 2003 governorship
The chairman of the California Chapter of the
WIC, Dr. Kalu Kalu Diogu, had invited Obi to the
high table as the governor-elect of the state.
This was after Chief Ozo Ughamadu, the Deputy
Speaker of the State House of Assembly, who said
he was representing Ngige and the state
government at the convention had been called and
assigned a seat at the high table.
While some held that Obi's recognition was in
order, going by the rule of law, some disagreed
on the premise that Ngige was still the state
And pacifying the dissenting factions, Irukwu
explained that it had been the policy of Ohanaeze
Ndigbo and by extension all Igbo groups to abide
by the rule of law. In this regard, he said that
Obi was only recognised based on the election
petitions tribunal verdict which declared hin the
state governor-elect, but that while the appeal
was pending, Ngige remained the substantive state
governor and ought to be so recognised.
It was learnt that both Ngige and Obi were
formally invited to attend the convention and
that Obi was not invited as the state governor.
Addressing the meeting, Governor Orji Uzor Kalu
of Abia State lamented that 35 years after the
civil war, the Igbo in Nigeria were still being
treated as second class citizens in a nation
their sons risked their lives to create.
"Ndigbo today are an endangered species in
Nigeria, we are neglected in distribution of
wealth. Ndigbo are treated with scorn," he said.
He said there were enormous oil reserves in
Anambra and Abia states and nobody was doing
anything to explore them.
"Everything Igbo is being destroyed or sabotaged
across the country. Businesses which I founded
long before I became governor have been closed
down by the Federal Government. My sin is that I
spoke the truth and refused to be used against
our people," he said.
Kalu said that the neglect and poverty that were
visible in Igboland did not seem to worry some
Igbo sons and daughters in positions of authority
at the federal level. His address was entitled
"Posterity will judge us."
He said: "I have opted for the path of honour to
stand by our people no matter the odds. I will
continue to fight for social justice and equality
in Nigeria, my crusade for a better deal for our
people is borne out of a deep and sincere belief.
Some people say Ndigbo are not capable of leading
the country and allude to the constant changes in
the leadership of the Senate as a defence. I
therefore, urge the WIC and this gathering to
tell ourselves the truth and redefine our
destiny, as we cannot continue to live in this
Stressing that this was the only way the Igbo
could liberate themselves, he urged the gathering
to support him as Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu,
Chief Christian Onoh and many other Igbo leaders
had openly done and identify with his
presidential aspirations for the 2007 polls.
Champion Newspapers publisher, Chief Emmanuel
Iwuanyanwu, however, recommended that the
Presidency should rotate among the six Nigerian
geo-political zones, alternating between the
North and the South.
Ohanaeze cancels Igbo day in Delta
From Chido Okafor, Warri
FOLLOWING the protracted leadership tussle
between two factions of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Delta
State, the socio-political organisation has
cancelled its arrangements for the celebration of
Igbo Day in the state.
An Igbo leader, Chief Augustin Asimole, said
yesterday in Warri that the yearly ceremony would
not hold because there was no leadership to
organise it. "It is clear that he who's house is
on fire does not chase rats," he stated.
Ohanaeze Nigbo in Delta had been without an
accepted leadership since last year.
The problem began when the Olu of Warri, at the
Warri Township during the last Igbo Day,
installed Sir Peter Chukwu who was then President
of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the Delta Central and South
Senotarial districts, as the Eze-Igbo of Warri.
But his installation was severely challenged by
another faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the area
led by Chief C.C. Anichebe. He was supported by
some affluent Igbo businessmen in Warri, who
accused Chukwu of being too ambitious following
his crowning as Eze-Igbo in Warri.
The Anichebe faction soon obtained a court
injunction restraining Chukwu from parading
himself as Eze-Igbo of Warri. The faction later
pronounced Anichebe as the new President of
Ohanaeze in the districts, resulting in the
closure of the Ohanaeze secretariat in Warri.
While in search of legitimacy, the faction
invited the national secretary of Ohanaeze
Ndigbo, Chief Joe Achuzie to Warri. Achuzie and
Anichebe supporters visited all the kings in the
Asimole said the installation of Chukwu as Eze-
Igbo of Warri was a collective decision of the
coalition for his contribution to the
popularisation of the pan-Igbo group in Delta
Bayelsa govt alleges plot to humiliate
From Kelvin Ebiri (Port Harcourt) and Willie Etim
BAYELSA State government officials raised an
alarm yesterday that a plot to bring down
Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha may be afoot
following the questioning of three of his aides
on Monday by the Economic and Financial Crimes
The three (names withheld) who were detained in
Port Harcourt on Monday, but have since been
released, were accused of money laundering in the
United States, as reported by the Federal Bureau
of Investigations (FBI).
A government official, who spoke to The Guardian
on the condition of anonymity, expressed concern
that the EFCC investigation might have been
politically motivated. He explained that the
government would wait for the outcome of the
The Acting Chief Press Secretary to the State
Governor, Preye Wariowe, confirmed the arrest of
the men and that they were interrogated for
alleged diversion of public funds through
purchases and award of contracts. On purchases,
the EFCC, according to him, was said to be
interested in a new boat - Sunseeker - bought by
the government, which is the official boat of the
governor and contract for the governor and his
On the state government's reaction, Wariowe noted
that the EFCC has visited several states across
the federation since its inception to interrogate
government officials over allegations of
In all these places, EFCC personnel spoke with
the people there or invited them to the
commission's offices in Abuja. There were no
"We are at a loss why the questioning of our
state officials did not take place in Yenagoa but
in Port Harcourt. We hope there are no political
undertones to this strange investigation; it
would appear to us that the target of this EFCC
onslaught is His Excellency, Chief DSP
Alamieyeseigha. But then, hard evidence would be
needed to move against him, so it becomes easy to
go after his aides," he said
Wariowe explained that of late, several
high-ranking government officials, including
President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Chief Justice of
the Federation, Justice Mohammed Uwais and other
government officials have come under EFCC
According to him, it is rather amazing that the
EFCC should be bothered by the purchase of a boat
for official use by the governor even when other
governors have acquired more expensive machines
As to the contracts for the building of the
Governor's Lodge and the Deputy Governor's Lodge,
the press aide said these were projects that
began in 1999 and wondered at the reason behind
the investigation. He further asserted that the
motive for the continued detention of the three
government officials was to paralyse the state.
"We wish to state that the reason behind the
setting up of the EFCC is noble. The Government
of Bayelsa State supports it. All Nigerians must
support the EFCC to carry out their duties
diligently and effectively. However, where the
EFCC is turning out to be a vehicle for the
persecution and demonisation of citizens, then
our democracy is in danger" he added.
Why we want fresh polls in Anambra, by INEC
IF the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC) had its way, it would hold a fresh
governorship election in Anambra State.
According to the INEC chairman, Prof. Maurice
Iwu, the commission is challenging the election
tribunal's decision and is asking for a fresh
Iwu told House of Representatives Commission on
Electoral Matters yesterday in Abuja that since
the court ruled that INEC never conducted
elections in 90 out of 213 wards in the state,
"it makes sense to conduct a fresh elections".
He argued that the commission being the only body
responsible for conducting elections in the
country was convinced that elections were
conducted in the state.
"I think the onus now is on the court to now say,
based on the available facts before it, that we
conducted or we didn't conduct elections in those
wards," he said.
He added: "Now that the court ruled that INEC did
not conduct electione in 90 wards, I think they
should cancel the elections."
Rights group raises alarm on extra-judicial
By Kayode Falade
NO fewer than 2,987 people fell victim of
extra-judicial killings in the country in 2004.
This was the finding of a human rights group, the
Legal Defences and Assistance Project (LEDAP).
The group's national co-ordinator, Mr. Chino
Obiagwu, made the revelation yesterday in Lagos
at the presentation of a report, "Impunity in
Nigeria: Reports of Extra Judicial, Arbitrary and
Summary Executions in Nigeria 2004."
Alarmed by the development, the group has warned
that if unchecked, it portends a grave threat to
the growth of the nation's democracy.
It also pointed out that if allowed to continue
unabated, it could undermine the economic
development of the country.
Obiagwu told reporters that what proved most
worrisome in this development is the impunity in
which law enforcement agents and other agents of
the state carry on with this act.
He also lamented that as most of these killings
were unreported, the figure must have been more.
The organisation was further piqued that "out of
the total death arising from extra judicial and
summary killings, none has been resolved or
perpetrators prosecuted to finality."
According to LEDAP, this shows a 100 per cent
rate of impunity.
"In the corresponding period in 2003, LEDAP
recorded 117 cases resulting in 756 deaths out of
which only 16 were resolved. It shows that the
increase in the number of cases resolved shows
that the accountability capacity of the Nigerian
state, with respect to the right to life and
human security, is increasingly declining at an
alarming rate," the national co-ordinator
Obiagwu also observed that "impunity is a
situation where violation of human rights and
other crimes go unpunished."
To curb this problem, the group called for the
complete overhauling of the nation's police
It stated that it was this step coupled with the
provision of adequate communication and other
facilities that could effectively fight crimes
and control violence in the country.
"The leadership of the Nigerian Police Force
should also take concrete steps to prosecute to
finality policeman that engage in extra judicial
executions in order to send the proper message
that the authorities are not condoning the
killings," Obiagwu said in his address.
The LEDAP also raised alarm on the unchecked
influx of small arms into the country and the
circulation in high number of such.
The 109-page project report documented not only
the extra judicial killings in 2004, but the
summary executions too.
It also held that an average of five people were
killed extra judicially in the country in the
year under probe.
While fielding questions from reporters, Obiagwu
pointed out that the police have no right to
parade suspects and display their photographs or
images in both the print and electronic media.
He described this as an infringement on the
fundamental human rights of the paraded persons,
stressing that a suspect is adjudged innocent
until convicted by a court of law.
He further lamented that most of the paraded
suspects were never brought to trial in a
properly constituted court of law.
Obiagwu alleged that these suspects mostly end up
as victims of extra judicial killings.
The LEDAP national co-ordinator also decried the
situation where the police and other law
enforcement agents do not implement any judgment
He disclosed that about 150 judgments have been
made against the police in the last 10 years, but
regretted that none has been implemented.
He, however, called on the press to help
sensitise the citizens on their rights, the
ignorance of which he said, has been aiding the
impunity of extra judicial killing in the
Obiagwu also blamed militia group, vigilance
group, cults and other groups for summary
killings. The excesses of these groups,
especially the militia, he said, should be curbed
to allow growth of the country's economy and
Suspected arsonists burn Ado-Ekiti council
From Ifedayo Sayo, Ado-Ekiti
AGAIN, crisis erupted in Ekiti State yesterday as
suspected arsonists broke into the office of the
Ado-Ekiti Council Chairman, Mr. Taye Fasubaa and
set it ablaze. The incident occurred in the early
hours of yesterday. The council boss had in the
past one and half years been in the eye of the
storm in the political crisis in the state.
Fasubaa attributed the incident to the handiwork
of his political foes who were envious of his
"soaring popularity in the state."
He said there was a link between the attempted
attack on his life a year ago and the latest
incident, saying he was convinced that the
arsonist attack was politically motivated.
Fasubaa said the arsonists arrived at the council
secretariat complex around 11.00pm on Monday
night and scaled the fence of the complex to gain
entrance into the premises.
They later gained access to the office of the
chairman through the window after breaking the
louvres and cutting the burglary proof.
The arsonists, Fasubaa further explained brought
along with them petrol and matches with which
they set the office ablaze and escaped through
Affected by the fire incident were office
equipment, tables and chairs, the ceiling,
electronic gadgets and tiles kept in the office.
However, he said vital documents kept in office
were not affected by the fire, saying the
arsonists were only in the office to send warning
signal to him.
Fasubaa said he had reported the incident to the
police who were yet to effect any arrest,
pointing out that he learnt of the arsonists'
attack through the security men attached to the
He stressed that initially, he thought the whole
secretariat was on fire only to get to the office
and saw that his was the only one affected.
Fasubaa, who claimed to have contacted the fire
brigade service on the attack, said he was sure
that the perpetrators could be linked to those
who wanted to assassinate him about a year ago.
While conducting reporters round the scene, he
said: "You can see it is a sabotage. They broke
the louvres and bend the burglary proof to gain
entrance before they set the office ablaze. I
know that they are envious of my achievements in
But they will always fail as they did before."
Nurses oppose fuel price increase
From Okumephuna Chukwunwike, Abuja
MORE criticisms have continued to trail the
recent fuel price increase in the country as the
National Association of Nigeria Nurses and
Midwives has opposed the action.
The Association in a statement signed by its
Acting General Secretary, Sam Bolawole and made
available to The Guardian yesterday said that the
increase was unexpected and quite agonising in
view of the prevailing economic reality in the
"The increase will further compound the already
chaotic and unbearable living conditions of the
good people of Nigeria. In view of the above, the
association is calling on the Federal Government
to revert to the old rates," they added.
Describing itself as a humanitarian profession
that covers everywhere in the country in terms of
health care delivery service, the association
also urged the Federal Government to avert the
impending unpleasant health hazard and economic
problems the citizens will face if the price was
It, however, warned that they might be forced to
join other industrial unions in the planned
nation wide strike.
"We will be compelled to take this unpleasant
action if our pleading to revert to the old price
is not considered favourably. Similarly, the
association is calling on the traditional rulers,
religious groups, students, non-governmental
organisations and well meaning Nigerians to
prevail on the President to reverse to the former
price", the statement added.
Soludo presents 2005 human debt report
CENTRAL Bank governor, Prof. Charles Soludo will
tomorrow present the global Human Development
Report 2005 to some diplomats, development
partners, civil society representatives and
senior government officials at the UN House in
A statement yesterday by the UN Communications
Specialist, Mr. Waziri Adio, said the report,
entitled: "International cooperation at a
crossroads: Aid, trade and security in an unequal
world," will be launched in Nigeria a day after
its global launch in New York, where Finance
Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is featuring as
the lead discussant.
Published yearly since 1990 by the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), the Human
Development Report has become an authoritative
and invaluable resource to researchers, advocates
and policy makers across the globe.
It provides cutting-edge analyses and insights on
issues that affect human development and features
the Human Development Index.
Kidnappers demand N1.5m ransom
By Alex Olise and Odita Sunday
KIDNAPPERS struck again in Lagos yesterday. They
are now demanding a N1.5 million ransom on their
captor, 15-year-old Jennifer Okhudigbe. This
happened barely 24 hours after officers of the
Lagos State Police Command rescued two children
from the hands of a female kidnapper.
The incident according to the Deputy Commissioner
of Police (DCP), State Criminal Investigation
Department (SCID) Panti, Mr. Olayinka Balogun,
was reported by the parents of the 15-year-old
Security report available to the police, he
disclosed showed that the kidnappers are now in a
hideout at the Kuramo Beach, Victoria Island,
The hoodlums had in addition to their demand for
the sum, instructed the victim's father to come
over to their hideout with a sophisticated hand
set with one of the Global System for
communication (GSM) Lines.
Crack detectives of the State Criminal
Investigation Department were seen yesterday
marshalling out plan on how to rescue the victim
and apprehend the suspects.
The Okhudigbes reside in one of the buildings
located at Ademola Sanya Street, off Aileyun
The victim's father, Mr. Ofemu Jonathan Okhudigbe
looked worried yesterday when he visited the
police to ascertain the fate of his daughter.
The Guardian had raised an alarm on Monday that
between six and seven persons are reported
missing under mysterious circumstances on a
weekly basis within the metropolis."
Two weeks ago, a boy was kidnapped by two men at
Isolo area of Lagos demanding a ransom of N2
This was after the boy's father had parted with a
Toyota Camry car and N150,000.
The kidnappers were subsequently apprehended
after being lured into a plot hatched by the
police in collaboration with the victim's father.
The kidnappers had been invited to come for the
ransom at the father's resident. On their
arrival, a team of detectives swooped on them and
got them arrested. The kid was also rescued
The suspects were later discovered to be the
On interrogation, they confessed to the crime
claiming they needed the money to embark on a
business trip abroad.
At the Oshodi area of the metropolis on Monday, a
team of policemen on routine patrol had accosted
a woman driving a Toyota Carina II salon car with
two kids, aged two and six months sweating and
crying profusely. This attracted the officers'
attention and they later arrested the woman. She
is now undergoing interrogation.
Monarch urges peace in Ekiti, pledges support for
From Ifedayo Sayo, Ado Ekiti
FOLLOWING the clash on Monday between the police
and some of his subjects, the Ogoga of Ikere, Oba
Adegboye Akayejo, has urged the indigenes of the
town to shun any act of violence in the interest
of the community.
The appeal came on the heels of the protest by
the people over ongoing plans to impeach the
Deputy Governor, Mr. Abiodun Aluko, by the State
House of Assembly.
The Ogoga was with a member of the ruling Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees, Chief
Dayo Okondo and other notable indigenes of the
town who spoke during the visit of the Acting
Governor, Mr. Taiwo Olatunbosun, to Ikere.
They all harped on the need for the people of the
town to be law-abiding, assuring that the present
political situation in the state would soon be
Oba Akayejo restated his support for the State
Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose. He noted that several
benefits had accrued to the town from the Fayose
administration, particularly the newly
constructed Ikere-Ise-Emure Road,
Ikere-Igbara-Odo Road, the oil depot still under
construction, a poultry project as well as the
appointment of Ikere indigenes into top positions
Okondo dismissed insinuations that the state was
on fire, noting that people were already going
about their normal businesses.
The Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly
and Acting Governor, Olatunbosun, appreciated the
support of the Ikere people to the Fayose
administration, stressing that "Ikere will always
occupy a pride of place in the heart of the state
He denied speculations of attempts by the
government to deprive Ikere people of their
rights and called on the indigenes of the town to
continue to support the state government. He
pledged that the post of deputy governor would
remain in Ikere.
Olatunbosun said that those spreading rumours
that the post of deputy governor would be moved
out of Ikere were only trying to cause
disaffection with the government, saying they
were enemies of progress.
Hundreds of indigenes had staged a protest in the
town calling on the state assembly to halt the
move to remove the deputy governor, saying that
Aluko had been a loyal subordinate to Fayose.
Obasanjo restates vow to fight corruption
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday restated
that his administration was now more than ever
determined to crush all corrupt public officers,
no matter their positions.
He spoke in Abuja at the opening of a two-day
International Conference on Public Audit and
Accountability Reforms organised by the Office of
the Auditor-General of the Federation in
collaboration with the World Bank.
Represented by the Minister of Special Duties,
Col. Musa Mohammed, President Obasanjo said: "Our
avowed zero-tolerance for the scourge of
corruption derives from our conviction that
countering corruption and promoting public
integrity are critical to economic rebirth and
sustained development. If we must properly ground
our democracy, if we must engender religious
commitment to transparency and accountability,
and make government responsive to the needs of
our people, then we must make a conscious vow to
permanently turn our backs on our decadent,
wasteful, and corruption-driven past."
According to the President, the audit process has
a crucial role to play in driving forward the
administration's economic and political
He added: "An independent, efficient, effective
and innovative Auditor-General's Office is one
which fosters strong financial management based
on reliable, sufficient and timely reporting. It
is your responsibility to ensure full disclosure
of deviations and effective internal controls
systems in order to compel respect for the tenets
of transparency and accountability."
Also at the ceremony, Senate President Ken
Nnamani observed that audit has got to be taken
seriously because the country was sick and tired
of financial mismanagement by elected executives.
Represented by Senator Daniel Saror, Nnamani
said: "There is this hue and cry of poverty in
the midst of plenty because of mismanagement of
public funds by those in the executive positions.
It is almost getting to a point where those
involved in this act should have their hands
chopped off because of the dangerous trend."
He welcomed the concern of the international
community for the reform programme in the country
and assured that the National Assembly would do
all possible to entrench a reign of new laws in
Benue seeks truce with Tsav
From Simeon Nwakaudu, Makurdi
WORRIED by the continued face-off between it and
the former Lagos State Police Commissioner,
Abubakar Tsav, the Benue State government has
called for a ceasefire. However, Tsav said he
would continue to point out the defects of the
Governor George Akume-led administration to
ensure better governance.
The state Information Commissioner, Mr. Cletus
Akwaya, in a constituency briefing at Vandeikya
Council where Tsav hails from, called on the
former police chief's kinsmen to prevail on him
to stop writing petitions against Akume. He noted
that Tsav's action had deprived the people of
Akwaya regretted that despite several entreaties,
Tsav had turned his back on reconciliatory moves.
He pointed out that the former police boss
preferred to write destructive petitions against
government officials with no proof of such
The commissioner insisted that Akume has
performed creditably, stressing that what the
governor needs new is valuable support and not
He therefore, urged Tsav to retrace his steps and
end his criticism of Akume in the interest of
However, in response to the state government's
overtures for peace, Tsav said that he would
cease petitioning officials of the state
government when they put an end to alleged
massive looting of the state's treasury.
Tsav said: "To convince me against petition
writing, let my younger brother Akwaya, tell his
boss to complete all the projects he started
since 1999 including those abandoned by Dr.
Iyorchia Ayu. Then I can be part of commissioning
and therefore stop criticising Akume."
He added that he could not be bought over by the
state government, saying: "Honesty can influence
my conscience. I have nothing against Akume. If
my son is made governor today and he fails to
perform, I will criticise him."
Tsav insisted that his criticism of poor
performance should not be an excuse for the
governor to deny Vandeikya of developmental
According to him, even the governor's immediate
constituency has not benefited from any
Tsav has been an avowed critic of the Akume
administration over alleged non-performance.
Ali attributes strife in PDP to struggle for
From John-Abba Ogbodo, Abuja
THE National Chairman of the ruling Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP), Ahmadu Ali, yesterday
identified a fierce struggle for power among
members as the cause of the crisis rocking the
Ali stated this during a solidarity visit to him
by a coalition of youth associations in the
country under the aegis "Democratic Crusaders"
even as members of the National Working Committee
(NWC) did not attend the meeting.
Ali, who reflected on the crisis rocking the
party, particularly the feud between President
Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku
Abubakar, lamented that struggle for power among
PDP chieftains is the party's problem.
"We have our internal problems and that involve
the way of politics because people are jostling
for positions and none of these people wants to
leave it. They are all willing to remain there.
Those who had left are coming in their
thousands," Ali said.
The national chairman, however, said that despite
the internal wrangling, the PDP is waxing
stronger and remains the party to beat in the
country. "The party is strong. The party is well,
the party is hale and hearty. The party de
kampe," he assured.
Ali advised the youths to be cautious about
becoming politicians. He said: "I advise you to
play politics as a hobby. Don't go there to earn
a living. It is dangerous to start life with
politics. Have a permanent job, politics should
not be your main job. It should be an addition.
It is like wine. When you drink it, it gets into
The national chairman also warned the youths
against thuggery and advised them not to sell
their votes during elections.
The National President of the group, Amidu Anaja,
said the solidarity visit was informed by the
recent attempt by some people to demonise Ali on
account of board appointments, arguing that there
was no clause in the party's constitution that
forbids the chairman from having his own nominees
on the board.
Anaja urged the chairman not to be distracted by
"the campaign of calumny, stressing that most of
the people complaining have no electoral values.
"We, the entire youths crusading for the good and
sustenance of democracy in Nigeria urge you to
remain focused on the good work you started with
PDP and disregard the machinations of detractors,
arm chair critics and the Pharisees whose main
stock in trade is pull him down and searching for
the specks in the eyes of others."
The group's leader continued: "In any case, what
is the big deal having two family members out of
22 members you are entitled to put on boards in
your official capacity as the national chairman.
Since there is no clause in the party's
constitution restraining you from doing so. Are
they not bonafide Nigerians working hard for the
success of the party?"
But most of the party's NWC, including the
National Secretary, Chief Ojo Maduekwe and the
Deputy National Chairman, South, Chief Bode
George, were absent at the occasion although they
were in their offices at the national secretariat
where the event took place. Both Maduekwe and
George came into the premises almost the same
time and did not bother to even look at the
conference hall where the visit took place.
Breaking the resource control logjam
By Fred Okpohworho
THE National Political Reform Conference ended
recently without an agreement on the percentage
that should be allocated to the states on the
basis of derivation. The oil producing states
("OPS") of the Niger Delta demanded that the
percentage be raised from the present 13 per cent
to at least 25 per cent while most of the non-oil
producing states ("NOPS") as epitomised by the
northern states resisted any increase in the
percentage allocation but grudgingly accepted an
increase to 17 per cent. The inability of the
Conference to reach a consensus on this issue led
the South-South delegates to boycott the last
sessions of the conference.
This has led many commentators to conclude that
the Conference was a failure. It is heartening
however, that the President has kept the issues
raised and discussed at the Conference alive.
While presenting the report of the Conference to
the National Assembly, the President signalled
that the issues raised were still subject to
debate and discussion. It appears, from comments
emanating from many members of the National
Assembly, that the legislators intend to subject
the recommendations of the Conference to intense
scrutiny and debate before adopting, modifying,
or rejecting any of them. This is an attempt to
contribute to that debate and discourse.
This commentary is not intended to be a wholesale
appraisal of the success or otherwise of the
Conference but is intended to suggest ways out of
what has come to be known as the resource control
logjam. It may be well to mention however, that
the fact that the Conference provided a forum to
put such fundamental national issues like
resource control on the front burner of national
discourse is, in itself, a great achievement and
underscores the wisdom of Mr. President in
setting up the conference in the first instance.
I identify with the position of Olorogun Senator
Felix Ibru as expressed in The Guardian of August
15, 2005, that the issue should be addressed
through dialogue and in the spirit of
brotherliness. Hence, while the OPS are justified
in their demand for a 100 per cent control of
their resources, they must also try to understand
and appreciate the fears of the NOPS. It is my
opinion that the NOPS understand the position of
the OPS and see justification for the anger but
worry about the possible impact an increase in
the derivation percentage will have on their
states. In the understanding of the NOPS, an
increase in the allocation to the OPS on the
basis of derivation will result in a net decrease
in the overall allocation to their states. In
effect a win for the OPS is seen as a loss to the
NOPS. We must therefore look for solutions that
will address the problems driving the agitation
for greater resource control by the OPS that will
not necessarily be seen by the NOPS as a loss to
them. We must think outside the box to find
creative solutions that will at least appear to
all as a win.
In navigating our way out of this logjam, I will
recommend a multifaceted approach. This approach
will consist of a basket of solutions which, if
applied holistically or in part, may address all
the issues and satisfy the interests involved in
the dispute. What this means is that an enhanced
revenue allocation formula should be seen as one
means of placating and compensating the OPS but
not the only solution. Thankfully, many of the
solutions proffered can be implemented via
legislation by the National Assembly, at least in
the short term, while permanent fixes can be
addressed through constitutional amendments in
the long term.
As for revenue allocation itself, I will urge
that we consider a graduated revenue allocation
formula. I suggest that the 17 pert cent
recommended by the Conference be applied to any
receipts from petroleum exports up to the amount
of $30 per barrel and 33 per cent for any
receipts above $30 per barrel. This way, all the
states are assured of enough revenue for their
development in the event that oil prices f<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)