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  • Nubi Achebo
    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
    Message 1 of 289 , Mar 31 8:10 AM
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      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
      his sleep.

      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
      Administration) building.

      "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
      achieved"

      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
      government.

      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
      oil industry.
      -----------------------

      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
      Ibru.

      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
      so.

      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
      crisis.

      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
      attackers.

      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
      his statements.

      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
      counsel.

      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
      correct?

      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.

      Thereafter?

      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
      Headquarters?

      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
      biography.

      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
      to Rogers.

      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
      administrator.

      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
      future development.

      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 who

      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
      rigorously applied."

      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
      staff.

      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
      constitution.

      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
      organisation.

      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
      permanent mission."

      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,

      Staff Reporter

      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
      deplorable condition.

      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
      rehabilitation.

      "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
      the country.

      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
      effective.
      -----------------------

      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
      Imeko."

      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
      white satin.

      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
      Ajose.

      Jesse said that the late Pastor did not die but he slept in the bosom
      of Abraham.

      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
      alive.

      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
      to Imeko.

      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
      the church.

      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,

      Benin

      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
      31, 2001."

      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
      the bank.

      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
      past.

      "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
      Nigeria.

      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
      generation.

      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
      youths.
      ----------------------

      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
      available.

      Investigation revealed that the late Madam Igunu, a mother of eight was
      killed on Thursday, March 15, by two unidentified men, believed to be
      bororos.

      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
      implicated.

      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
      Ajuluchukwu

      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
      Tayo Awotunsin.

      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
      the murder.

      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
      financially.

      -----------------------

      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
      National Orientation.

      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
      corporation back.

      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
      directive."

      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
      their best.

      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
      their inauguration.

      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
      disease.

      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
      ministry.

      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
      state.

      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
      commodities.

      -----------------------

      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'
      League title.

      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
      Casablanca.

      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
      announced yesterday.

      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
      Republic), Lubumbashi

      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
      Congo)

      CAF Cup

      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),
      Mbuji Mbayi

      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
      million).

      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
      companies."

      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
      budget plan.

      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 institution.

      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
      Sports Complex.

      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.

      NITEL's services

      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)
    • Nubi Achebo
      Govt, Labour talks end in deadlock * Police stop rally in Benue, gov faults fuel price increase From Collins Olayinka (Abuja), Simon Nwakaudu (Makurdi),
      Message 289 of 289 , Sep 7, 2005
      • 0 Attachment
        Govt, Labour talks end in deadlock

        * Police stop rally in Benue, gov faults fuel
        price increase

        From Collins Olayinka (Abuja), Simon Nwakaudu
        (Makurdi), Anietie Akpan (Calabar) and Auwal
        Ahmed (Gombe)

        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
        part."

        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
        reconvene.

        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
        products."

        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
        against the

        price increase scheduled for next Wednesday,
        September 14."

        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,
        Dr. Oluwole

        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
        Koripamo-Agary.

        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
        personnel.

        Across the state capital, anti-riot policemen
        positioned themselves at strategic points to
        ensure that the workers did not hold the rally at
        another venue.

        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
        Labour.

        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
        society."

        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
        product."

        The problem the country is facing, he stated, is
        not the shortage of crude but a shortage of
        refineries.

        In a related development, the North-Eastern
        States Legislators' Forum (NESLEF) has condemned
        the increase.

        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
        per litre.

        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
        international market.

        It advised the Federal Government to reactivate
        the existing refineries to guard against further
        increase.

        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
        journalists.

        Five other cases were found in the past three
        days in the nearby district of Madaoua, she
        added.

        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
        borders."

        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
        from spreading.

        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
        November.

        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,"
        he said.

        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
        death.
        ---------------

        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
        associate companies.

        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,
        bentonite

        EVEN if future discoveries are not made, the
        Federal Government says that Nigeria has
        sufficient quantities of barytes to meet its
        local needs.

        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
        the country.

        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
        Plateau State."

        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
        domestic

        production can conveniently service all local
        needs for more than five years, even without
        additional discoveries.

        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
        mono-economy status.

        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
        vendors;

        * 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
        emerged.

        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
        address".

        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
        revenue

        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
        textiles.

        He frowned at the suggestion that such seized
        materials should be sold through public auction
        or be distributed to the needy, instead of being
        burnt.

        Justifying the policy of government to destroy
        the goods, the Comptroller-General stated that
        such imports were avenues of laundering drug
        trade proceeds.

        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
        merchants themselves.

        "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
        October 3
        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
        ago.

        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
        eminent Nigerians.

        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
        considered.

        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
        right person.

        "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
        said.

        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
        state.

        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
        year.

        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
        premises.

        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
        pervasive nationwide.

        Ekpu, the Archbishop of Benin Diocese, told The
        Guardian that security was one of the cardinal
        responsibilities of the government to the
        citizenry.

        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
        Obasanjo

        PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has assured that
        Nigeria would become a major exporter of
        Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in the next three to
        four years.

        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
        market.

        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
        party.

        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
        the year.

        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
        education.

        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
        election.

        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
        governor.

        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
        way."

        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
        area.

        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
        State.
        ----------------

        Bayelsa govt alleges plot to humiliate
        Alamieyeseigha
        From Kelvin Ebiri (Port Harcourt) and Willie Etim
        (Yenagoa)

        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
        Commission (EFCC).

        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
        investigation.

        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
        deputy's lodges.

        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
        corruption.

        In all these places, EFCC personnel spoke with
        the people there or invited them to the
        commission's offices in Abuja. There were no
        middle stops.

        "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
        searchlight.

        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
        for transportation.

        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
        election.

        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
        killings
        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
        explained.

        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
        force.

        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
        against them.

        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
        country.

        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
        democracy.
        -----------------

        Suspected arsonists burn Ado-Ekiti council
        chief's office
        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
        the window.

        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
        secretariat complex.

        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
        office.

        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
        country.

        "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
        not reviewed.

        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
        Abuja.

        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
        girl.

        Security report available to the police, he
        disclosed showed that the kidnappers are now in a
        hideout at the Kuramo Beach, Victoria Island,
        Lagos.

        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
        Road, Ejigbo.

        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
        million.

        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
        unhurt.

        The suspects were later discovered to be the
        victim's uncles.

        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
        govt
        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
        over.

        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
        in government.

        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
        government."

        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
        regeneration efforts.

        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
        audit administration.
        -------------------

        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
        development.

        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
        allegations.

        The commissioner insisted that Akume has
        performed creditably, stressing that what the
        governor needs new is valuable support and not
        unnecessary criticisms.

        He therefore, urged Tsav to retrace his steps and
        end his criticism of Akume in the interest of
        Vandeikya people.

        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
        projects.

        According to him, even the governor's immediate
        constituency has not benefited from any
        government project.

        Tsav has been an avowed critic of the Akume
        administration over alleged non-performance.
        --------------

        Ali attributes strife in PDP to struggle for
        power
        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
        party.

        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
        your head."

        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)
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