- Saturday, June 16, 2001
Miss Nigeria loses crown
By Seyi Odewale,
Wilson Akinwale and
FORTY-FOUR-YEAR old �Miss Nigeria� beauty pageant suffered its biggest
jolt yesterday with the desposition of Miss Valerie Ama Peterside, the
2001 beauty queen.
At a press briefing in Lagos yesterday, the Managing Director of
Daily Times of Nigeria (DTN), Plc, Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi-~Ojo, said the
decision to strip Peterside of her crown was �in accordance with the
tradition of the pageant�.
Subsequently, the first runner up in last year�s contest, Miss Amina
Eyo Ekpo, a student of Applied Chemistry at the University of Uyo, Akwa
Ibom State, takes over as the reigning queen.
�With effect from June 14, 2001, Miss Valerie Ama Peterside, ceases
to be the 2001, Miss Nigeria,� Adinoyi-Ojo declared.
Last night�s decision followed weeks of controversy over educational
qualification and age by Miss Peterside during the contest last year.
She later testified before a five-man panel headed by former
Information Minister, Chief Tony Momoh, where she again defended her
Consequently, Adnoyi-Ojo said Quest Communication, the marketers and
managers of the 2001 event, would have their contract with the DTN
reviewed to prevent a recurrence.
�We shall review our relationship with Quest Communications Ltd., the
marketers and managers of the 2001 event. In that regard, future
managers or marketers of the pageant will be more closely supervised be
the owners of the pageant,� he assured.
Other measures to be taken in addition to the panel�s recommendations
which earlier in the week advised that the queen be stripped of her
title, Adinoyi-Ojo said included:
� authentification of all claims by contestants, through a sworn
� contestants must either be enrolled in a higher institution of
learning or must have graduated from one;
� contestants at previous national pageants would be excluded and
� signing of an agreement by contestants with the organisers, would
be strictly enforced.
Miss Peterside was believed to have entered the pageant last year
with a sworn affidavit of age declaration. But the panel�s report said:
�Every available evidence points to the fact that 16th May 1975 is not
her true date of birth, rather, it is 16th May 1971�.
The committee�s report noted that apart from the alleged age
falsification, which the panel found out, it was also discovered that
Miss Peterside does not possess the qualification she claimed to have.
"We are convinced that Miss Nigeria attended Ahmadu Bello University
(ABU) Zaria, but she did not complete her programme as claimed. We are
worried that someone who occupies such a high office would be found to
have been involved in examination malpractice and that she would openly
tell lies about her past, and raise doubts about her integrity," the
The report said that the panel was convinced on the basis of
available evidence that Miss Peterside was born in 1971, which put her
age at 30.
It therefore submitted that "we uphold the principle that there is
responsibility in the face of communal guilt. Because of the role
played by Daily Times and Quest Communications, even if she continues
as Miss Nigeria, she would find it difficult to operate," adding that
"Miss Nigeria is supposed to symbolise the best virtues of Nigerian
The panel further noted that given the environment created by the
scandals, "we are not convinced that she will get the required support
nor would she be in the right frame of mind to discharge her duties
Consequently, the panel recommended the sacking of Miss Peterside as
the 2001 Miss Nigeria. "In the light of all this, she should cease to
be Miss Nigeria. We do not think that she should remain as Miss
Nigeria," the committee said.
The panel further recommended that in the future, rules relating to
the organisation of the beauty pageant be strictly observed, and
records should be carefully kept and vetted. "For future purposes, the
conditions set for qualifications should be strictly enforced. Persons
entering for the pageant should document their qualifications in their
own handwriting," the report of the panel stated.
It also recommended that there should be a contract that defines the
period of reign, remuneration, terms, roles and relationship with the
Queen which should be signed with the Queen before she starts her
official outing and engagements. "If such a contract already exists as
claimed, it should be enforced," the panel stated.
The panel however indicted the organisers of the Miss Nigeria 2001
pageant of being rather lax with the rules and that the acrimony that
they demonstrated before the panel only showed that they themselves
need to put their house in order.
"If the promoters of the pageant are different from the organisers
as appeared to be in this case," the panel stated, "there should be an
intermediary monitoring committee whose duty would be to ensure that
the two parties know what is happening".
In the 2001 Miss Nigeria Beauty pageant, the panel noted that there
was no proper co-ordination between the promoters and the organisers.
"There were too many lapses. As at the time of this report for example,
there has been no record of accounts of what happened since January,"
the report noted.
The panel was set up in April 2001 after due consultations with
Daily Times of Nigeria Plc with Miss Nigeria to look into the
allegations of false claim against Miss Peterside who emerged as the
winner of the beauty pageant.
Six sittings according to the panel's report, were held between April
27 after its inauguration and June 8, during which evidence and
arguments from all affected parties were taken.
Evidence and arguments tendered to the panel included the need to
prove whether Miss Peterside possessed the minimum qualification
required for the pageant, which is a school certificate. Counsel to
Miss Peterside, according to the report, argued that the organizers
found the claim of possessing the minimum qualification required to be
"true based on their own investigations and not necessarily because
Miss Nigeria made such an original claim in the entry form that she
In her own argument, Miss Peterside "insisted that there are certain
persons and interests at ABU, Zaria, opposed to her and who seemed to
have been doing everything possible to sabotage her".
Apart from Chief Tony Momoh who was chairman, other members of the
panel were: Mrs. Sefinatu Mohammed, Ms Julie Coker, Mr. Tajudeen
Adepetu and Dr. Reuben Abati, who served as its secretary.
In 1957, Daily Times of Nigeria Limited organised the first Miss
Nigeria contest in Lagos, the success of which proved that Nigerians
appreciated beauty and ever since; there had been no looking back.
One of the major reasons for organising the pageant was to create a
medium for the promotion and projection of the noble and aesthetic
values in the Africa woman. The first winner was Miss. Grace Oyelude
who was later succeeded in 1958 by Miss. Helen Anyameluna.
Other past winners, since 1958 include:
1959; Miss Nene Etule;
1960; Miss Rosemary Anieze (Also crowned Miss Independence)
1961; Miss Clara Emefiena
1962; Miss Yemi Idowu
1963; Miss Alice Aleebe
1964; Miss Edna Park
1965; Miss Anna Eboweme
1967; Miss Yinka Balogun
1968; Miss Foluke Ogundipe
1969; Miss Stella Owivry
1970; Miss Toyin Monney
1977; Miss. Irene Omagbemi
1979; Miss Helen Prest
1980; Miss Syster Jack
1981; Miss Tokunbo Onanuga
1982; Miss Rita Martins
1983; Miss Cynthia Oronsaye
1984; Miss Rosemary Okeke
1985; Miss Rita Anuku
1986; Miss Stella Okoye
1988; Miss Wunmi Adebowale
1990; Miss Binta Sukai
1992; Miss Bibiana Ohio
1993) Miss Janet Olukemi Fateye
1998) Miss Regina Nnanwubar
1999; Miss Vien Tetsola
2000/2001 Valerie Ama Peterside
Senate Rejects Electronic Voting
BY JOHN ABBA OGBODO
THE Senate ruled out yesterday the use of electronic voting system in
the next elections as it restated its resolve to allow more political
parties in the next dispensation just as it ruled out the use of
electronic voting system.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC), Senator Oserheimen Osunbor, stated this at the
weekly briefing of the upper House.
Osunbor posited that the Senate during its retreat in Calabar in
February this year, had taken a position to the affect that the
registration of more political parties would enrich the nation's
democracy and provide for expression of ideological opinions.
"The Senate took a position on that in Calabar during our retreat. It
is still the view of the Senate that registering more parties would
enrich democracy and give people opportunity to express their views,"
The chairman, however, ruled out the use of electronic system of
voting, pointing out that it was fraught with defects which the
nation's level of political development would not match . He pointed
out that even in advanced countries of the world such as the United
States, the system had not worked well.
He said: "There are insurmountable constraints to the use of the
electronic system of voting. Even in the U.S as technologically
sophisticated as it is, had problems.
Ogunbor also maintained that contrary to the views expressed in some
quarters that the national assembly could not legislate over council
elections, items 11 and 12 of the concurrent list under the 1999
constitution granted them the jurisdiction.
"We are of the view that the Senate has jurisdiction under items 11
and 12 of the concurrent list to legislate on registration of voters
and procedure for election at local government level and Item 12 says
that the state houses of assembly can legislate on additional
provisions to the conduct of these elections provided that they are not
in conflict with laws made by the National Assembly," he said.
The establishment of State Independent Electoral commissions (SIEC),
he added, was allowed by the constitution but warned that their conduct
must be in line with the laws made by the National Assembly.
London court jails Nigerians for selling lion meat
A London court yesterday jailed two Nigerians for trading in banned
�bush meat�, after they were trapped on film offering meat from
monkeys, lions, tigers, anteaters, snakes and even a human head.
Judge Peter Fingret, presiding at the Old Bailey, jailed Mobolaji
Osakuade, 40, a father of three, and his common-law wife Rose Kinnane,
35, for four months.
The court heard that the illegal bush meat imports could have driven
endangered species closer to extinction and caused outbreaks of
disease. Some have blamed Britain�s foot and mouth epidemic on
illegally imported meat.
The Nigerians were prepared to offer whole lions, antelopes,
porcupines, goats, cane rats and large, live snails. They smuggled
banned snakes and lizard skins for traditional ethnic medicines and
offered tiger and leopard parts, the court further heard.
�I fully acknowledge that such legislation (banning bush meat
imports) goes against the beliefs and practices of many people but it
is clearly for the greater good of society and of our planet that such
controls exist and are stringently enforced,� the prosecution said.
It was quite clear from the evidence that both were �fully willing
and enthusiastic participants� in the shop they ran in east London, he
Eddie Achunche, a journalist, told the court he had posed as the
nephew of a tribal chief and visited the store, saying he needed the
left hand, heart and head of a monkey for a traditional meal for his
uncle who was heir to a throne.
He paid a deposit of 200 pounds (about N36,000) and returned later,
with a hidden video camera to receive the smoked body of a Tantalus
monkey soup in exchange for a further 150 pounds (27,000).
Osakuade described the difficulties of smuggling bush meat past
customs, saying he �cut it into pieces so they can�t detect it. You can
then put it back together again with string.�
He told Achunuche he could order a whole lion for 5,000 pounds
(N900,00) or 1,000 pounds (N180,000) for the head on its own, while the
going rate for a leg was 500 pounds and for a tail 400.
Osakuade said he could even get � a human head�, a claim the
prosecution accepted was an empty boast. His lawyer said his client
was now a �broken man�, who realised his cultural background which had
led to these offences must now be left behind.
Okogie, Mamora Back Tinubu�s Plan To Recruit OPC
THE Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Dr. Anthony Olubunmi Okogie and
Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Dr. Olorunnibe Mamora, has
thrown their weight behind plan by Governor Bola Tinubu to engage the
services of O�dua Peoples Congress (OPC), to curb the rising wave of
crime in the state.
Fielding questions from reporters at a press conference organised by
the knights of St. Mulumba at the Holy Cross Catholic Cathedral, Lagos,
yesterday to mark his 65th birthday anniversary, the cleric declared
that: �if today we have Tinubu saying that the OPC may be merged with
the police, do you blame him?
�I buy the idea, so long as we are still not safe live without fear
can come,� he said.
Explaining his stand, Okogie said �I bet you, and I can bear my life
that they know where the robbers are.
Unfortunately, they do not go for the robbers, they look at faces
and are reluctant to work.
But when the OPC and the other vigilantes operate, they go to where
the robbers are, they go to the nooks and crannies and bring them out,
even though they don�t have more sophisticated weapons than the
Archbishop Okogie expressed grave concern about the dastardly
exploits of armed robbers in the state in the past few weeks and urged
the Governor to do everything to stem the tide.
Also lending support to Tinubu�s suggestion is Mr. Olorunimbe Mamora.
He said the OPC should be incorporated into the system since it is
for the good of the people.
Mamora spoke to newsmen on Thursday night at the venue of a lecture
titled �The Rule of Law and Democracy. Their Relation �inter se,�
delivered at the Law Week of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja
�I am not aware that Lagosians do not want OPC, rather to the
contrary, Lagosians want OPC because they have been able to checkmate
the activities of the men of the underworld largely.
�Therefore, if they are invited and we see them doing what we want
them to do all we need to do is to reorganise, harmonise and make them
a really positive force.
Mamora said �not minding one or two excesses we should be able to
utilise them and we are not opposed to their coming back.
The Speaker claimed that �the police do not want the OPC because some
of them do connive with the robbers, we have had instances in the past
linking some top police officers to the robbers.�
Police quiz Sunny Ade over PMEAN's finances
BY JUSTIN AKPOVI-ESADE
PROMINENT juju musician and President of the Performing Musicians
Employers Association of Nigeria(PMEAN), King Sunny Ade, was yesterday
invited to the General Investigation Division(GID), of the Lagos police
command, Ikeja to answer to allegations of financial impropriety
levelled against him by the association's suspended Vice-President, Mr.
Onwuama, who was suspended over an alleged financial crime by the
National Executive Council (NEC), accused Sunny Ade of embezzling the
The PMEAN president, in a convoy of musicians, arrived at the GID
premises, Ikeja about 10.30 a.m. yesterday, where he and his lawyer
held a closed door meeting in company of the Chief Investigating
Officer, Mr. Larry Achiluku. The meeting lasted for about four hours.
At the end of the meeting, the PMEAN president, dressed in a blue
kaftan, addressed journalists, dismissing Onwuama's allegations as
"I decided to contest for president of PMEAN because of my desire to
see that the plight of Nigerian musicians is reduced. In my almost two
years in office, I have tried against all odds to see that my electoral
promises are fulfilled.
"The allegations levelled against my person, I must say, are
frivolous because the day to day running of the association is done in
a transparent manner. At the end of the investigations by the police,
the truth will definitely come out".
The aggrieved first vice-president also indicted the Lagos police
command in his petition sent to media douses, a copy of which was also
sent to the Inspector General of Police. Onwuama alleged that the
police in Lagos accepted bribes from Sunny Ade. This action, according
to him, has prevented the police from investigating the allegations
It was learnt that it was the Inspector-General who ordered a proper
investigation of the issue. The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr.
Mike Okiro further confirmed this, when journalists on the issue
Okiro said: "I got the briefing from IG's office and I have forwarded
it to the GID".
On the complicity of the police, he said: "If he (Onwuama) can prove
that he, (Sunny Ade) gave out money to prevent his arrest, where and
who collected the said money; we will prosecute both Sunny Ade and the
officer(s) who collected the bribe.
"But, on the other hand, the police will not hesitate to prosecute
Onwuama if it is found out that he gave false information," Okiro said.
The musicians' body has known no peace since October last year when
five members of its executive were placed on suspension over alleged
financial impropriety and official highhandedness. Rowland Onwuama,
Kenny George and Okwomose E. Okwomose, first and second vice-presidents
respectively, were among those placed on suspension.
Lar, Suleiman join The Patriots
BY MUYIWA ADEYEMI AND WALE FATADE
DETERMINED in their quest for a better federation, The Patriots, a
group of eminent Nigerians has netted more members from the Middle
Belt. They include Chief Solomon Lar, Dan Suleiman and other leaders of
thought in the region.
Indeed, they are scheduled to be part of the Patriot's meeting
tomorrow morning at the Ilupeju Lagos residence of legal luminary,
Chief Rotimi Williams (SAN).
A source said that this was a fallout of the recent leaders of
thought meeting held in Abuja where the representatives of the Middle
Belt backed a restructuring of Nigeria through a national conference.
According to the source, "Chief Solomon Lar and other eminent
Nigerians from the Middle Belt want Nigeria to be restructured. It is
not only the South that has been marginalised. Middle Belt people are
also aggrieved with the present structure. They want charges. They will
attend tomorrow's meeting."
The source, who was in the Abuja parley and also a member of The
Patriot recalled how Chief Paul Unongo, a former minister of Power and
Steel, declared at the Abuja meeting that "the train of Nigeria has
started moving. You cannot stop it but only board it or jump out."
Tomorrow's meeting which is expected to solidify their resolutions to
clamour for their core-values - restructuring and true federation will
be presided over by the chairman of The Patriots.
Other notable members of The Patriot include, Chief Abraham Adesanya,
Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN), Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN), Chief Michael
Ajuluchukwu, Senator David Dafinone and Minister of Justice and
Attorney General of Federation, Chief Bola Ige (SAN).
Meanwhile, former External Affairs Minister and a chieftain of
Afenifere, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi has said that "Nigeria is not an
island unto itself. There is nothing uniquely Nigerian. The world is
full of multi-national states, which have been huge successes such as
Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, Britain and multi-national states
which have been woeful failure such as Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and
"Those multinational states which have been successful have been
successful because they practice true federalism, with full autonomy to
federating units. Those multi-national states, which have failed, have
failed because they have failed to practise true federalism. They have
run federal states along unitary lines, and they have paid dearly for
The Professor of International Relations made these remarks at a
public lecture entitled Nigeria. A Mere Geographical Expression?
delivered in Akure, Ondo State capital in commemoration of the annulled
June 12, 1993 presidential elections and the 25th anniversary of the
creation of Ondo State.
Akinyemi added: "It looks to me that the greatest danger to Nigerian
unity is the refusal of those who refuse to allow for the restructuring
of Nigeria. Those who make peaceful changes impossible, according to
John Fritzgerald Kennedy, make violent changes inevitable. If after 87
years of creation. Nigeria still appears to be an artificial creation,
it has to be done due to the fact that all Nigerians are not committed
to the concept of a just and equitable Nigeria."
He began his lecture by reminding the audience of the comment of the
late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in 1947 that Nigeria was just a
geographical expression. Akinyemi added that at the time the late
Awolowo made the comment, "Nigeria had been a state for about 36 years.
In the annals of state building, it needs more than even a century to
develop a sense of statehood, and to transform a state into a
Wondering whether "the fact that it was the imposition of British
colonial authority on Nigeria rather than a voluntary act on the part
of the nationalities that inhabited the space called Nigeria that led
to a state called Nigeria is what is responsible for Nigeria being
called an artificial state, is this a Nigerian peculiarity?
"To a large extent we have tended to focus on the artificiality issue
as it relates to one aspect of the nationality issue - that is the
merger of several nationalities.
But there is another aspect "this relates to the drawing of
boundaries without regard to whether the physical boundaries are
coterminous with the nationality boundaries. In that sense, Nigeria was
and still is an artificial creation because the physical boundaries of
Nigeria have left the Kanuri, the Hausa, the Fulani and the Yoruba
split between Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Benin Republics. However, I must
point out that this situation is not unique to Nigeria or Africa."
Akinyemi also contended that despite the fact that "the Yoruba nation
has had more episodes of political stress than any other nation in
Nigeria, they remain committed to the unity of Nigeria. "We must
conclude that at no time did the Yoruba nation behave politically as if
it is thought that Nigeria was a mere geographical expression."
He equally agreed that "the attitude of the Arewa nation to the unity
of Nigeria has never been in doubt. Whenever other nationalities in the
South did anything that the North found offensive or whenever events
threatened Arewa control of the central institutions of government, the
Arewa had always threatened to exercise the secessionist card. But now,
the agitation is about how to wrestle power from the South rather than
making threats about secession."
To him, the greatest challenge to Nigerian unity was mounted by the
Igbo nation when it openly declared the Independent Republic of Biafra,
an act of secession.
Two Feared Killed As Chairman, Councillors Clash
BY ANIEKAN BASSEY,
AT least two persons have been confirmed dead while property worth
millions of naira were razed in Eastern Obolo area of Akwa Ibom State
following a clash between the council chairman, Mr. Ufikaro Efet and
Eyewitnesses said that dangerous weapons, including guns, were freely
used as the council legislators attempted to resume sitting last
Prior to Thursday�s mayhem, the council had for about seven months
known no peace as the councillors and the chairman had often been
engaged in squabbles with each camp using physical and spiritual means
to gain upper hand. The chairman was at a time accused of sponsoring a
herbalist who was captured and brought before the council legislature.
He was alleged to have confessed to have been employed by the chairman
to eliminate some councillors.
It was the herbalist episode it was learnt, which led to the
legislators� suspension order on the chairman � a suspension the
chairman described as a hoax having been, according to him, illegally
effected without due process.
Already, the State House of Assembly has waded into the crisis,
calling on the state government to beef up security and restore law and
order in the area.
The house, which acted on a matter of urgent public importance
brought before it by a member representing the troubled area, Mr. Uyio
Udosen , condemned the killings and destruction in the area.
It was the members� belief that the laws, rather than ensuring peace
in the council area, had rather caused upheavals between chairmen and
their councillors in at least 10 of the 31 councils of the state.
According to them, it is either the council boss was suspended,
impeached or was in perpetual crisis most often for flimsy and selfish
Investigations revealed that in about 10 of such councils, at least
two council chairmen have been impeached, a third was removed
outrightly by the governor acting on recommendations of the State House
of Assembly, while about three have been suspended from office by the
Niger Delta Youths Oppose Inclusion In Eastern Council
THE constituent states of the South South geo-political zone will not
and should not be dragged into the proposed Eastern council, Niger
Delta Youths Coalition (NDYC), warned yesterday.
Berating Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, for calling for the
inclusion of the South South states of Delta, Edo, Rivers, Bayelsa,
Akwa Ibom and Cross River in the newly formed nascent political
organisation, Eastern Council, the youths said �the move is against the
spirit of true federalism�. They vowed to resist the move vehemently.
Similarly, the Urhobo National Assembly (UNA) at the weekend flayed
Dr. Odili�s call for the inclusion of Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa
Ibom and Cross River states in the nascent Eastern Council.
In a statement signed by the General Secretary of the UNA, Mr. Godwin
Etabidueba, the Assembly Odili�s action amounts to embarking on moves
to abrogate the South South zone.
Ijaw Group Decries Crisis In Bayelsa Assembly
FROM KELVIN EBIRI, PORT HARCOURT
BECAUSE of the prevalent political crisis in Bayelsa State that
culminated in the impeachment of the erstwhile speaker, Heineken
Lokpobiri and his deputy, Ayibaesin Ideghotu last Monday, the Ijaw
Youth Council has deplored the scenario accusing the executive and
legislative aims of government of holding the people to ransom.
The youth council in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Isaac Osuoke
after the organisation's parliamentary session which took place at
Adagbobiri, Bayelsa while condemning the state's legislative as well as
the executive arms for their actions and activities which had
manifested in the political crisis stated that it observed with dismay
the unfolding "political intrigue that almost plunge the state into
�The current crisis in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly over the
impeachment and counter impeachment and the resultant thuggery and
insecurity in the state capital is an expression of the greed,
visionlessness and irresponsibility of the Assembly and the executive
arm of the Bayelsa State Government, � the statement read.
He explained further that the spate of violence that ensued after the
suspension of the former speaker of the State's House of Assembly has
grossly dented the image of government in the state.
"The Bayelsa State House of Assembly has failed woefully in not
pushing and passing legislation to support the quest aspiration of the
people for resource control, self determination and environmental
justices,� the statement stressed.
The Ijaw Youth Council accused the assembly members and the executive
arm of the state government of involving in a project of
self-enrichment and self-aggrandisement to the detriment of the mass of
the people of Bayelsa State, stressing "they have done nothing
worthwhile to promote a better life for the impoverishment and long
suffering people of Bayelsa State".
The Ijaw youths body then urged the legislative and the executives
arm of government to respect the Bayelsa people and ensuring justice
In this regard, IYC said it would be holding a rally match in Yenogoa
to compel all the parties involved in the crisis to give account of
their stewardship and clear the air on all the allegations and counter
allegations of fraud and gross mismanagement of public funds.
"We blame the Bayelsa State government for working to protect the
'interest of the oil companies and its friends against the people. This
is demonstrated by the support of the government in the deployment of
troops to Nembe, Brass, Yenagoa Peremabiri," Osuaka said.
IYC, therefore, demanded for a complete demilitarisation and
restoration of the community rights and protection of human dignity in
De Klerk, Anyiam-Osigwe Foundations To Raise Leadership Institute
THE Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation in collaboration with the Frederick
Wilhelm de Klerk Foundation have concluded plans to establish the
African Institute for Leadership Training and Human Development.
To be based in Nigeria and South Africa, the plan is to set up the
Institute later in East and North Africa. It is in this connection that
renowned curriculum planner, political scientist, sociologist and
educator, Coetzee Bester will arrive in he country on Monday.
Bester is the Director of Pamodzi Training Services which is
affiliated to the De Klerk Foundation. He will be holding
consultations with leaders of different segments of the society in his
two weeks stay. This will take him to Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Ibadan,
Owerri and Port Harcourt. Bester has a wide experience in political
training in many countries of Africa.
The Institute is a fusion of the ideals of the Anyiam-Osigwe
Foundation's "Holistic Approach to Human Existence and Development" and
De Klerk's "Making Positive Changes In Africa Through Proper
Orientation And Training."
According to Michael Anyiam-Osigwe, co-ordinator of the Anyim-Osigwe
Foundation, the idea of the Institute was mooted when former South
Africa President came to Nigeria last year to deliver the key note
address at the Second Session of the Memorial Lecture Series.
"The F.W. de Klerk Foundation was particularly impressed by the work
of the Mission for Democracy(MDA), which is centred on creating
awareness on what true democracy is in terms of practice," he said.
In a subsequent visit to South Africa by members of the Anyiam-Osigwe
Foundation, it was agreed that the Institute be established to give
composite training to the individual on leadership, democracy,
political training, economic enhancement and spiritual development.
This is expected to cater for the various needs of the regions where
the Institute will be set up.
"The Institute will display the highest of standards in its
approach," Michael Anyiam Osigwe emphasized.
According to him, the aim is to achieve better quality of leadership,
better quality of governance, better conception of democracy by the
electroate and a better quality of life generally.
WAMI seeks new name for ECOWAS currency
BY next month, the common currency proposed for the West African
Monetary Zone, the second in the sub-region, will be named. A central
bank to serve the purpose will also become functional.
The supervisory institute, WAMI is studying proposals for the names
just as preparations reach top gear to recruit key personnel for the
common Central Bank.
These issues are key to fulfilling the basic objectives of the
monetary initiatives, says Dr. Michael Ojo, director-general of WAMI.
Last April, head of states of Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra
Leone, and Guinea agreed in Accra, capital of Ghana to induce
integration in the sub Saharan region with a fast-track approach using
monetary measures. The result is the West African Monetary zone two
which is expected to merge with CFA franc zone in year 2004 to form a
single monetary zone for the sub region.
Ojo explained that the arrangement was compelled by the difficulties
encountered by all member nations of the sub regional West African
Monetary Union to reach a common ground currency for all.
Ojo stressed that the six nation group is expected to play a role
similar to the one played by the European Monetary Union which midwifed
Ojo said the UEMOA is a smaller group within the regional body but
doing relatively better.
"It has become obvious all along that there was much closer
co-operation among the UEMOA member states than within ECOWAS."
Hence, the "positive experience of UEMOA group with respect to lower
inflation and exchange rate stability played a major role in the
awakening of Ghana and Nigeria to influence the stability and economic
progress in the sub region.
Omokomoko� Beat of the minstrel
IN front of the large dilapidated one storey building in the suburb of
Sapele, Delta State, the early morning visitor was momentarily at a
loss as to where to find his target among the numerous rooms in the
A small bare-bodied boy soon solved that puzzle at the mention of the
name of the subject. In the two-room apartment was a frail male figure,
naked except for a wrapper tied round the waist; sleeping on a wide
bed. A rather roomy woman seated on a wooden chair with a tray filled
with biscuits and groundnuts on her laps challenged the visitor and
that brought the sleeping figure to a sitting position.
Alas, there jumped out the familiar face of the great artist,
Chief(Dr) Omokomoko Osokpa.
No doubt, there is a pall of depression around the Octogenarian
musician who celebrated his 68th years on stage, recently. He had
suffered a bout of stroke early this year. He is still recovering. The
blind musician recalls in an interview coducted in in Urhobo language
to Justin Akpovi-Esade, his experience since he began playing music.
�I am Chief(Dr) Omokomoko Osokpa, the doctor attached is just an
appellate, and the trend was common among Urhobo musicians and even
now. I was born in 1920 and I started playing music in 1933. I played
music initially with a man called Kaigha in Orogun town, but, I will
say that God gave me the gift of music because I did not learn the act
�The kind of music I play is for the moral upliftment of the society.
I look at what is happening in the society that is not good and sing
about it, using the music to tell those involved in such acts to desist
from it. When I started music, people used to call me a riff-raff. In
fact, that is how musicians in those days were described. But I am
happy that my musicianship took me all over the country and I met
people like (late) I.K. Dairo in Ijebu Ijesha. Victor Olaiya and I were
friends and he came to visit me at Agbor where I stayed�.
The king of Urhobo vocalists, as Omokomoko is popularly referred to
does not see his blindness as a hindrance in his chosen career. �With
my condition if I did not choose to play music, what else do you think
I would have done? Tap rubber trees or farm?�
To Omokomoko, �Things are a little bit easier for musicians now. We
started with drums and later bottle and gong. In those days when we
were in the studio to do a recording, there was just one microphone
that my chorus singers and I used. But now even machines do almost
everything for the musician. I started in the period of the gramophone.
Things were not so easy as they are now.
Omokomoko has just one word to describe how many albums he has
produced in his almost seven decades of playing music: uncountable! �I
can�t remember how many records I have done since I started music. I
can�t, unless we go to my former studio manager, maybe he will know�.
The reason for this may not be far-fetch as aside the aged musician�s
claim of getting inspiration to sing almost daily, he also had his own
recording company - OGS Records, Sapele. �So anytime I got an
inspiration for a particular song or songs that can make up a full
album, off, I go into the studio and of course, my engineers were
always on hand�.
After the company folded up in the late 80�s, Omokomoko decided to
collect money in advance before recording for any label, because �I
don�t want to go chasing pirates or troubling the company for royalties
when I know they will not pay me. So I ask for a substantial amount
before I record an album for you. This arrangement saves me a lot of
trouble. You know I am not getting any younger.�
Why did the 81-year-old native of Obodeti, Orogun Town of Delta State
married 13 wives? �I am an only child of my parents, so I felt I
should �avenge� the inability of my parents by having plenty of wives
and children. But that is not to be�. Omokomoko was obviously referring
to his childless state. All his wives except Rebecca have since left
Up till early this year before he was bedridden, the musician was
still actively involved in music with his 10-member band. �I fell sick
immediately I returned from the burial ceremony of Late Chief Eko
Ovbije in January where I played all through the night�.
But he is still rearing to go. �If the decision is left for me to
take, I will go on stage today if I get an engagement. But my wife and
my doctor will not let me. My age? I don�t feel one bit of the 81 years
and that is the truth. Till I die, you will continue to hear from me
The patron of the Performing Musicians Employers Association of
Nigeria (PMEAN) and the Chairman of Urhobo Musicians Union, expressed
gratitude on the concern shown by his colleagues to his plight, saying
�They (musicians) visit me and give me both money and gifts. In fact,
the whole of Urhoboland contributed to my survival at present. I thank
all of them who gave and prayed for me�.
�It is all dance, dance music, no good songs to teach the society to
have good morals�, said Omokomoko, chastising some of his younger
colleagues for not engaging issue of morality in their songs. �They
don�t point out some of the wrongs of government in their music. Some
are just involved in praise singing. They should change�.
And Omokomoko is conscious of his current parlous state, as he
lamented �My illness has depleted my whole finances. I am at present
in debt, but for God and my wife and a few individuals, I would by now
be begging in the street. But I thank God�.
The veteran artiste called on the Governor of Delta State, Chief
James Ibori, to come to his aid. �What I ask Ibori to do for me at this
point in time is to provide a bus and a set of musical instruments and
let me fend for myself the way I know how to � play music. I don�t want
him to give me money to buy food, let him show that he cares for the
entertainment sector as well as the entertainers.�
�The instruments I have at present were bought by Chief Abakoro and
Mr. Pius Ovbije. But the speakers are bad�.
(Omokomoko�s latest album entitled Ero me mre mu (My Eyes Have Seen
Things), according to the musician, was a tremendous success, �but you
know I have already been paid off by Joromi Records where I did the
He is sad that of all his 68 years of playing music, his only
opportunity for an overseas tour came when he took ill. �I have never
travelled out of the country and it is something I have always looked
forward to. But when Samson Akporugo (a showbiz promoter) came from
London recently to take me for a tour, he met me sick.�
The deep folklorist would not agree with critics that the Urhobo
musician always appear less inspiring, because he sits mostly through
his performances. �I don�t agree with you on that. Everybody has his
ways of doing things and that is our style. To us, that is the most
regal position a musician should take, that is sitting down. It has
been like that since we started and without boasting, I am among the
first people to popularise Urhobo music.
�Once your male and female dancers are among the audience dancing, it
kind of make up for the musician�s inability to stand up. That is
Would the acclaimed lord of Urhobo folk music, say that his decades
of musicianship left him with fortune: �Why not? What would I have
done? I married 13 wives with music, built a house and used three cars,
though I don�t have anyone now. Music gave me popularity and wealth
alongside. I am so popular among the Yoruba of old that anytime an
Urhobo musician visits Yoruba land, he is called Omokomoko.
�I am not complaining but for my illness, I would not be in this
state of poverty that I am today. But I trust, God will do something to
bring me back on my feet again because I am getting restless to go back
Better Half Of The Bard
HER cool mien betrays her real person. Rebecca Omokomoko, the eighth
out of the 13 wives of the octogenarian musician, Chief (Dr) Omokomoko
can be aptly described as a rare specie among women.
Since she was married out to the musician in 1974, Rebecca has stood
by her marital vows and she has been through thick and thin with the
man she married.
Even in childless marriage to the minstrel, Rebecca is not
bothered. �I took a decision to marry him (Omokomoko ) and I will stand
by that decision, I guess, till I die.�
Over the years, Omokomoko�s harem of 13 wives depleted gradually
until only Rebecca is left. And for the singer and dancer of the almost
family band, �it has not been easy. I have gone through tough times,
with people putting pressure on me to desert my husband because he has
not been able to give me a baby. But like I said earlier on, I find
happiness here and this is where I will remain till the end.�
Though the task of caring for an aged and blind musician-husband,
according to the amiable dancer, is not easy �God, I guess has given me
the strength and I am coping�.
Rebecca has since left dancing as she said, �you can see that I am
getting old. I now sing . My husband�s band has two young dancers
now. Initially, all of us, the 13 wives were the group�s dancers until
the rest left and we had to shop for younger dancers�.
�How I will describe my husband? He is a talented, tireless and
hardworking musician, husband. He is equally caring that is why I chose
to remain with him and nurse him in his old age. He is fantastic and
generous when he had money. If I am given a choice, I will marry him
all over again�
Rebecca spends her time attending to her sick husband �and petty
business. When he is fully recovered, though he claims he is, we will
begin performance again. But for now I am tending him�.
Like her husband, Rebecca calls for help from the state government
and well meaning Urhobo people �now that Omokomoko is still alive, not
when he dies today, money will start coming for his burial. He wants to
play music, all we want is assistance now.�
She also doubles as Omkomoko�s accountant and she reveals that the
highest the greatest Urhobo musician get to perform a show is N15,000.
�After paying the band people, there is little left and the shows are
not that regular. Moreso, we still hire some instruments. We are lucky
sometimes to get some money from people at the party�.
Today, Artists Dry Tears Of Refugees
BY CHUKA NNABUIFE
Art For Humanity
Women and War, an exhibition of paintings organised by the
International Committee of the Red Cross , ICRC which opened last
weekend continues at the Goethe Institut, Victoria Island, Lagos. It is
part of campaign for a conflict-free human community.
WEDNESDAY, June 20 is the World Refugees Day. It will go down in
history as the first day the United Nations Assembly had ever set out
for the internationally displaced war victims. This year�s event is
Coming up over two decades after Organisation of African Unity has
been holding the yearly African Refugees Day, it appears the world has
finally followed the good initiative from the black continent; after a
mean long resistance.
In Nigeria starting from today the Ambassador Segun Olusola-led
African Refugee Foundation (AREF) and its affliate, the African
Garments For African Refugees (AGAR) rolls off a series of programme to
mark the day. Already the AREF is teaming up with the little known
Nigerian Artistes for Refugees (NARTIREF) to observe the day under the
expanded theme, Respect Give a Bundle of Joy. Today�s event kicks off
a week-long programme to give this year�s day a unique �artistic and
According to Mr Fidel Ndubisi, chief executive of Integrated
Marketing Corporation (IM CORP), the event�s marketing consultants,
�The purpose of bringing all these other bodies together with AREF is
simply to draw enough attention to worsening situation of refugees all
over Africa and particularly in Nigeria�
Really, the pathetic condition of those victims of war was shown when
the joint bodies visited Oru Refugee camp, Ijebu Oru Ogun State last
Sunday. There the visitors barely stopped short of shedding tears only
because �the main purpose of the visit� as Mr Osita Agu Media Relations
Director of IM CORP said, �is to raise hopes not to suppress it
The journey to the Oru camp began at about 10 am that Sunday, with a
service held at the Household of God Church of Oregun Road, Ikeja. At
the church the general overseer Pastor Kris Okotie spoke at length on
the need for the society to help refugee. He preached on the need for
the society not to forget the refugees because anybody from any part of
the world can become a refugee by circumstances beyond his control.
He later invited representatives of the refugee concern groups to the
church podium for recognition. The delegation was made up mostly of
popular film and music artistes including Kanayo O. Kanayo, Okey
Bakassi, Tony �One Week� Muonagor, Julius Agwu, Olisaemeka Ugwunze,
Seyi Solagbade as well as representatives of AGAR-AREF and IM CORP who
appealed for assistance for the refugees.
Okotie, himself a former pop music star and member of NARTIREF
delegated two pastors from his church, Lawrence Odoemelem and Mike
Igbokwe � heads of Welfare and Benevolence Department to join the
mission to Oru camp. He promised that after the Sunday June 10 journey,
his church will pay its own charity visit to the camp.
The numerous pot holes and bumps between Ago Iwoye and Ijebu-Oru was
an appropriate rough prelude to the depressive scenery the team was
face with at the aging refugee camp; built in the 1980s by the UNHCR.
The wide expanse of land tucked deep within thickets of woods has
neither fences nor gates. But it may not need it because the nearest
human settlement to the place is some long kilometers away. More so the
tall trees and bush nearby, are enough fences. However, the visitors
were greeted by a very large crowd, mostly women and children.
Inside, the camp commandant Mr Lawrence Yegwa led the delegation
through some of the living blocks � about six structure, two of which
are upstairs. Some aspects of the buildings received the touch of
paints, some time ago. The evidence on some of the structures that they
were once beautifully painted were the flakes and morse on the walls
that show dangling blades of paints suspended by strands of cobwebs.
But the painted structures are mansions compared to the others; some
of which have un-plastered walls. One of the bungalows has no ceiling
and; an inmate whispered that there is another hall without ceiling.
One of the structures has its dust-decked door and windows, firmly
locked. Yegwa informed that used to be the medical centre for the camp.
The delegation was informed that the medical centre stopped
functioning sometime in the middle of last year. The doors, looked like
they were locked a longer time ago.
According to Yegwa, the local hospital running the clinic for the
camp stopped coming when the camps debt hit about N150,000 and there
was no hope of paying the debt.
Similarly, the camp has one garri processing machine, which has never
functiond since installation. The inhabitants of the camp said the only
known fault in the garri making plant is that it was wrongly installed
and nothing had been dome to change that since inception.
One of the blocks also serves as school. The structure built for the
camp by a humanitarian society; The Justice Development and Peace
Commission (JDPC) of the Roman Catholic Church Ijebu-Ode Diocese serves
as the only source of education in the camp. In the school, pupils are
taught up to the level equivalent to primary six. Thereafter, the
children are at the mercy of providence for education. Only about three
graduates of the school have had the luck of being sponsored by some
charitable scholarships to attend secondary schools.
The camp has three dug wells but only one is functional, and it
serves the well over 2000 inhabitants.
The official record of the residents show that 1,700 are from Sierra
Leone, and 465 from Liberia.
There is no visible vocation within the camp and none of them is
employed elsewhere. Not surprising, there are many young girls, many
pregnant women and many new babies. Some of the families are up to
eight in number.
As the camp authorities disclosed, every month the inhabitants are
given one kilogram of beans and one kilogram of rice each with nothing
else; that�s how they feed. The result is that they are forced to do
any menial labour, for any pay, �at least to avoid starving to death�,
one of the inhabitants said.
Life in the camp is not even made better by some other
infrastructures that would have aided it. The public power supply has a
presence in the camp but for most of the day they only gaze at the
electric bulbs and wire which, for them constitute more of house
decoration. The visitor�s were told that electric light reaches the
camp for about 30 minutes daily and; it comes very late at night.
However, it is obvious that the residents make utmost use of the
power supply. They are very current with developments in the Nigerian
movie and music industry. The camp was agog with excitement when the
visiting artistes alighted from their cars. Shouts of �KOK!�, �Tony One
Week!�. �Julius Agwu!��Okey Bakassi!� rented the air, drawing more
and more people to the central arena. Even toddlers among them know the
names of the stars. Most of them had no difficulty in recalling the
popular films or songs the artiste have to their credit.
Nevertheless, it was this popularity the artistes capitalised on to
give succour to the visibly depressed refugees. Some of the singers in
the delegation performed like Tony One Week and Julius Agwu performed
their popular numbesr. Okey Bakassi, the comic actor who also led the
NARTIREF arm of the delegation thrilled the gathering with rib cracking
jokes and urged them to keep their dream alive despite the current
Kanayo who drew a deafening ovation narrated how he too happened to
be a refugee during the Nigerian civil war but today he is �using it as
Mohammed Tunis, a former school teacher in Sierra Leone spoke for the
inhabitants. The man who said he came into the camp in 1997 said it had
never received a delegation. He remarked that it is exceedingly
painfully for an able bodied person to be living outside his country as
a result of a situation he has no control over. But such a pain, he
said, can be assuaged if other people help to make the refugees�
Tunis� moaning was well buttressed by the caliber of inhabitants of
the camp. Some of the inhabitants of Oru Camp are well educated,
skilled. Most of them said they thought the visitors were employers who
came to pick people for employment from the camp hence they came out to
register their names.
Among such people who came out are Gaye Zargba, an agro- economist and
Austin Zebey �both Liberians and graduates of University of Nigeria
Nssuka. There were still some other graduates and skilled men who have
been locked out for many years in the camp, hopefully awaiting help.
Some others too, have resigned to dejection.
But, unfortunately there is a kind of help some people render to the
camp The camp authority showed the visitors rooms full of rags and such
unusable materials. The leader said, �if we want to wash the rags
people do bring to us here, the amount of money we will use to buy
soaps will be more than the worth of the clothes.�
To guard against such problem IM CORP said the there is a plan to
appeal to people to donate something reasonable to the refugees; not
rags and dust bin materials.
Over the years, the AGAR project of AREF had been championing donation
of sewing new and appropriate dress materials to the refugees. It has a
workshop in Ikeja, Lagos where garments of African designs concept are
sewn and given to the refugees. This according to art and culture
patron, Chief Olusola, former Ambassador to Ethiopia is ti discourage
donation of rags and unusable dresses to the refugees.
The road work and fund raising dinner planned for the current event is
also to ameliorate that problem.
The road work tagged: Give a Bundle Road Walk holds today; it will
begin at the National Stadium Surulere, Lagos, goes through Maryland to
the AREF office in Old GRA Ikeja, where AGAR is located.
The dinner will hold at Eko le Meridien Victoria Island Lagos, on
Wednesday 20 under the chairmanship of the Minister of Works and
Housing, Chief Tony Anenih with Chief Goodie Ibru, former president of
Nigerian Stock Exchange, a patron of AREF as Chief Guest of Honour.
Artistes in the NARTIREF collective and others will also perform.
Nations Cup Qualifier
Super Eagles Face Namibia In Windhoek
THE four remaining places for next year�s African Nations Cup will be
determined this weekend in a hectic final round of qualifying matches.
With 13 matches scheduled for today and tomorrow , 11 nations are
still in with a chance of reaching the 16-team finals to be held in
Mali next January.
The high-profile nations in danger of missing out include Tunisia,
Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Zambia have their fate in their own hands, needing an away win over
Madagascar, themselves just one win away from reaching their first
finals, to qualify for the seventh successive time.
A draw would open the door for Namibia, who would have to beat group
one winners Nigeria in Windhoek today to sneak through into second
Zambia will be without many of their foreign-based players for the
crucial clash in Antananarivo as Dutch coach, Jan Brouwer battles to
find some consistency with his side. Madagascar will have coaching
support from Herve Arsene, the former professional from French club
Tunisia, who finished fourth at the last Nations Cup finals, must
beat second-placed Kenya in their group three match in Tunis tomorrow.
A draw could let in Gabon, who must beat group winners Morocco in Fez
Kenya�s preparations have been hampered by a bizarre travel schedule
which sees them fly to Tunis via Dubai and London, a 36-hour
expedition. Coach Reinhard Fabisch is said to be furious with the
Kenyan Football Federation for their poor organisational efforts.
In group six, bottom team the Democratic Republic of Congo need to
beat Zimbabwe in Kinshasa and hope that Lesotho do not pull off an
unexpected victory over group winners Ghana in Kumasi. Congo, formerly
Zaire, have a rich tradition in the tournament, winning it in 1968 and
1974 and appearing in the last five competitions.
Lesotho led the group at the halfway stage and looked set for a
fairytale march to a first-ever Nations Cup finals appearance but the
tiny mountain kingdom have dropped five points at home in their last
two matches and now must pull off a shock victory to grab the second
Zimbabwe, who have also stumbled at home, will qualify if they draw
with the Congo and Ghana beat Lesotho.
Group four is much more straightforward. Burkina Faso will qualify if
they avoid defeat against group winners, Algeria in Ouagadougou
tomorrow. If they lose, then Angola can sneak into the second
qualifying berth by beating Burundi in Cabinda.
In the weekend�s other action, Egypt, Cote d�Ivoire, Senegal and
South Africa, all of whom are safely through, will use their matches as
preparation for crucial World Cup qualifiers at the end of the month.
Super Eagles depart June 27 for Sudan
THE Nigeria Football Association(NFA) has slated June 27 as departure
date for the Super Eagles to Sudan for its World Cup qualifier against
their Sudanese counterparts.
The NFA spokesman, Mr. Austin Mgbolu, told the News Agency of
Nigeria(NAN)on Thursday in Abuja, that the match had been slated for
July 1 at 8 p.m. when the weather would be more conducive.
"The 8 p.m. time fixed by the Sudanese Football Association, for the
World Cup qualifier is the reason NFA decided that the boys will leave
on June 27 since the weather won't be too harsh for our players,"
NAN recalls that the NFA had invited a total of 36 players to report at
the Super Eagles camp at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano, to prepare for
the crucial World Cup match.
According to Mgbolu, there will be no automatic shirt for the 19
invited foreign-based players, who will join the 19-man squad of
home-based players. These players are currently training for the match
against Namibia this weekend in Windhoek in the on-going Africa Cup of
He said that screening of the players would be done by the technical
crew who would consider their fitness, adding that the association
would not condone late arrival to camp as the match was vital
especially as it would decide the fate of the country in securing a
ticket for the Japan/Korea 2002 World Cup.
The Super Eagles is placed second with 10 points from six matches in
Group B while the Sudanese are third with nine points from five matches
and three more matches to play. The Lone Stars of Liberia leads Group B
with 12 point from six matches.
Meanwhile, the Super Eagles defeated Sudan 2-0 in the first leg of the
encounter played at the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt.
The Senate Committee on Sports on Wednesday summoned the football house
to plan ways of securing a ticket for the country.
Kenya in 36-hour journey, as oach blasts FA
KENYA�S coach Reinhard Fabisch has hit out at officials over their
organisation of travel arrangements ahead of tomorrow�s decisive
African Nations Cup qualifier against Tunisia in Tunis.
A victory would guarantee Kenya a place in the finals in Mali next
January, and a draw would probably be enough.
But their preparations will be disrupted by a journey that will take
The players left Nairobi on Thursday for Dubai where they waited eight
hours before catching a connecting flight to Paris. They travelled from
Paris to Tunis, arriving late yesterday afterno�on.
Fabisch, the outspoken German who is in his third spell as national
team coach, accused Kenyan Football Federation (KFF) officials of
seeking to save money at the cost of results.
�It will be nearly 36 hours between the time we leave our hotel in
Nairobi and the time we check into the hotel in Tunis,� he said on
Friday. �Now we just have to try and get there in high spirits.�
KFF officials said they were forced to switch arrangements after
being unable to secure confirmed bookings for their original flight
plan via London.
�We chose the airline that was not only affordable and convenient but
one which could confirm the team�s flight back home,� said KFF
treasurer Levi Obondo.
�We also have money problems and the only way to go via London would
be in a class higher than economy class and that is impossible for us,�
he told reporters.
Last week, Obondo said the large salary the federation pays Fabisch
has increased their financial difficulties.
The build-up to tomorrow� game has also been overshadowed by
allegations that players are still owed bonuses and appearance fees
from previous Nations Cup qualifying matches.
Kenya, who last qualified for the finals in 1992, would only need a
draw provided Gabon do not win their match against Morocco in the same
group in Fez this night.
Former champions, Abiola Babes begin title chase
By Kunle Solaja
THE chase for Nigeria's most glamorous football title, the Coca-Cola FA
Cup begins today in 10 centres. Most of the 20 teams kicking off
today's national preliminary round are mostly unrated and could attempt
some form of upsets as the competition gets to the crucial stages.
But the most significant event, is the return of former champions,
Abiola Babes who last won the nation's premier competition in 1987
before the club was disbanded.
Fourteen years after the historics win against Ranchers Bees in a
keenly contested duel that spanned two games and was eventually decided
by penalty shoot-out, Abiola Babes, relaunched last year, will be
attempting to rekindle their glorious past as they face NIPOST FC of
Imo State in Benin.
In another Coca-Cola FA Cup duel, AS Racines of Lagos will face
Enyimba Feeders of Abia at the PTI Ground in Warri, while Ebiaji Lions
of Ebony will face Oyo State runners-up, Nihort in Asaba.
Gulari FC of Yobe and Sunshine Babes of Ondo State will slug it out
at Lafia in Nasarawa State.
Iwuanyanwu Nationale of Owerri will be awaiting the winners of
Gashaka FC (Taraba) and Balyesa State's Admirality for the first round
clash. Gashaka and Admirality are meeting in Enugu.
Similarly, Kano Pillars will face the winners of Ikot Ekpene and
Nasarawa's pioneer clash in Yoba.
The other fixtures have Ila LG of Oshun facing Urban United of
Nasarawa in Bida while Kanta Warriors of Kebbi will face Works Rangers
of Ekiti in Ilorin.
Vipers FC of Osun will face Customs FC of Sokoto in Abuja while DG
Babes of Ogun and Shagari United will meet in Minna.
FIFA Denies Morocco
FIFA has rejected Morocco�s request for their final African group
World Cup qualifier away to Senegal next month, to be put back to
coincide with rivals, Egypt�s last match in Namibia.
�Morocco asked FIFA to postpone the match (against Senegal)
until July 22 from July 14, but FIFA refused,� Karim El Alem, the
Moroccan Football Federation�s secretary general, said yesterday.
�We wanted our match against Senegal to be played on July 22 to
coincid e with Egypt�s match against Namibia for more fairness in
sport and more transparency,� El Alem said.
Morocco, three points ahead of both Senegal and Egypt in group C ,
are scheduled to meet the Egyptians on June 30 in Rabat before
flying to Dakar to play their last qualifier against Senegal on
Egypt and Senegal will then play their last group C games away on
July 22 against Algeria and Namibia respectively.
Gov Tinubu Tennis Cup Venue Uncertain
BY YEMI AOFOLAJU
AS the date for the Second Governor Tinubu Tennis championship draws
near, uncertainty continues to reign as to the venue of the event which
is expected to be the biggest on the local tennis scene.
It was gathered that the organisers of the championship have decided
to move the competition from the National Stadium in Surulere to the
Lagos Lawn Tennis Club in Onikan.
This decision has, however, been frowned at by the Confederation of
African Tennis(CAT) which wrote the organisers stating that it could
not ratify the facilities at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club as it had not
inspected its facilities.
An official of the Nigerian Tennis Federation (WTF) who asked for
anonymity said CAT wrote that it would rather have the competition at
the National Stadium tennis courts where it was held last year. "CAT is
aware that the facilities at the National Stadium are good but they are
yet to inspect the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club facilities so they can't just
go ahead and allow the venue change."
The official added that the controversy arose out of a purported
misunderstanding between the former NTF Secretary Mrs. Funmi Adako and
Championship Co-ordinator Prince Femi Oladunjoye.
It is, however, unclear how the organisers intend to put up a better
showing than last year's event judging from the dilapidated structures
at the Lagos Club.
In addition the National Stadium which has seven tennis courts is
seen as a more central and accessible location to players, journalists
and other persons who may wish t<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
- Govt, Labour talks end in deadlock
* Police stop rally in Benue, gov faults fuel
From Collins Olayinka (Abuja), Simon Nwakaudu
(Makurdi), Anietie Akpan (Calabar) and Auwal
THE Federal Government and Nigeria Labour
Congress (NLC) attempt at finding amicable
solution to the present stalemate over the
increase in the prices of petroleum products
yesterday hit the rocks as both parties failed to
agreed on all issues raised.
Speaking with journalists after the parley, NLC
President, Adams Oshiomhole, said: "Nothing has
changed, there is nothing positive."
Asked what the thrust of the parley was,
Oshiomhole stressed further: "They asked us to
come and we tried to discuss the issue of the
price increase and the consequences of the hike
and the team admitted not having mandate to
discuss on these issues. Therefore one can say
there are no positive indications yet."
Oshiomhole was however quick to add that the
phased protest rally scheduled to hold across the
country will go on.
His words: "Yes, we were persuaded to shelve our
proposed rally. But we told them that the protest
rallies have to go on because they are not
something we are doing out of fun. But in all we
expect the government to respond quickly because
this time, there is no ultimatum."
The NLC also disclosed that no time has been
fixed for reconvening.
Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Hassan
Lawal described the meeting as successful. "The
meeting was okay. It was calm and peaceful. We
have adjourned and we shall be resuming soonest.
The NLC group wants to go and make consultations
and we are also going to make more consultations,
especially on issues raised by the NLC. They have
intimated us on their intention to hold rallies.
Nobody is against rallies as long as they are
peaceful and I want to assure that government
will not in any way interfere with that. But we
believe it is better to sit, dialogue and
understand all the issues concerned."
The Minister of Information and National
Orientation, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr., on his own
part remarked: "It was successful because we
basically engaged in dialogue and that is
consistent with the constitution. No meaningful
development can take place in an atmosphere of
disharmony or confusion. So, for the fact that it
is Nigerians that manage Labour issues is very
consistent with the constitution and democracy.
We believe that their attitude is worth
commendation. We want them to continue in that
The minister also said that it would be wrong to
describe the meeting as failure. According to
him, the meeting indeed recorded some
achievements. "It would be wrong to say that
there is no meeting points. What happened was
that we've met for four hours and there was some
fatigue. That is why we decided to adjourn to
later reconvene." He however failed to give a
definite time when both parties are expected to
A statement from the office of the Secretary to
the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot
Ekaette, said: "The SGF said he has no mandate to
reverse the increase in the price of petroleum
The statement however added that Ekaette assured
that the Federal Government would address the
problems occasioned by the increase with a view
to cushioning the hardship.
"Chief Ekaette however gave an assurance that the
Federal Government would address problems that
have arisen from the increase in prices of
petroleum products so as to lessen the burden
being experienced by Nigerians."
The statement also said that Oshiomhole denied
serving any letter of a nation-wide strike on the
Federal Government but instead, the NLC and its
allies have decided on series of public
demonstrations across major state capitals in the
country scheduled to begin on September 14.
"Comrade Oshiomhole told the meeting that the NLC
had not served notice for strike action but what
the NLC has proposed is a public demonstration
price increase scheduled for next Wednesday,
Also in attendance at the meeting was Ekaette who
led the delegation, Minister of State for Water
Resources, Bashir Awoterebo; Minister of State
for Agriculture and Rural Development, Otunba
Bamidele Dada; the Economic Adviser to the
President, Prof. Ode Ojowu and National
Co-ordinator of the National Poverty Eradication
Programme, Dr. Magnus Kpakol.
Other stakeholders present were the Chairman of
Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency
(PPPRA), Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi; its Secretary,
Oluleye; the Group Managing Director of the
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),
Dr. Funso Kupolokun and the Permanent Secretary
of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Tieiebi
Meanwhile, an attempt yesterday by the Benue
State Council of the NLC to hold an anti-fuel
price increase rally was thwarted by the police.
Major streets of Makurdi, the state capital and
the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Square,
venue of the aborted rally, were taken over by
armed anti-riot policemen.
Also yesterday, the Cross River State governor,
Mr. Donald Duke, faulted the latest fuel price
increase, declaring that something is
fundamentally wrong with the managers of the
country's petroleum industry.
Anti-riot policemen numbering over 200 stopped
the protesters from entering the IBB Square.
Those who attempted gaining entrance into the
square were forcibly sent back by the security
Across the state capital, anti-riot policemen
positioned themselves at strategic points to
ensure that the workers did not hold the rally at
The state NLC chairman, Mr. Boga Abuul, at a
press conference on Monday, announced that the
rally would be used to sensitise people on the
need to support any action to be embarked upon by
He said that the Benue NLC was waiting for
directives from the National Secretariat of the
NLC on what to do to force the Federal Government
to beat down the N65 per litre of petrol price.
In a statement justifying its action, the state
Police Command Public Relations Officer, Mr.
Adesanya Jinadu, said: "The state NLC is hereby
advised to immediately call off the protest rally
and resort to constructive engagement with the
stakeholders rather than adopting a method that
will bring about lawlessness and anarchy in the
He warned that the police would take all
necessary measures to ensure that lives and
property were protected.
Attempts to speak with the NLC chairman on the
botched rally proved abortive as aides said that
he had gone into hiding to avoid police arrest.
Meanwhile, the price increase has affected
transport fares across the state. Intra and
inter-city fares have increased by 50 per cent.
Governor Duke has also decried the increase in
the pump prices of petroleum products, saying the
managers of the petroleum industry should be held
responsible for the citizens' woes.
Duke wondered why for six years now in the life
of the present administration, no single refinery
had been built in the country.
The governor, who spoke in Calabar at a monthly
press briefing, noted that "the pump price
increase is one of those unfortunate issues in
our economic life. It is shameful that we have
not solved the problem of our refineries and
until we stop the importation of products, which
are marketed at international prices, we will
continue to have this problem."
He added: "There is something fundamentally wrong
somewhere with those managing the petroleum
industry. Common economic sense tells us that a
good chunk of it (crude oil) should be refined
locally. Primarily, Nigeria is a producer of the
The problem the country is facing, he stated, is
not the shortage of crude but a shortage of
In a related development, the North-Eastern
States Legislators' Forum (NESLEF) has condemned
The forum at its fifth meeting in Gombe, called
on the National Assembly to take appropriate
measures to reverse the new prices of N65 to N50
According to the group, the Federal Government's
argument is not convincing enough to justify the
continuous increase in the prices of petroleum
products considering the revenue the country is
realising from the sale of oil in the
It advised the Federal Government to reactivate
the existing refineries to guard against further
The legislators also alleged the marginalisation
of the sub-region in the cassava production
programme of the Federal Government, adding that
the zone was very qualified for the scheme.
They added that the region's cassava was the best
in the country and therefore needed to be
encouraged to improve on the production.
Cholera in Niger threatens Nigeria, says WHO
By Chukwuma Muanya
FEARS that cholera now ravaging some communities
in Niger Republic may spread to Nigeria have been
raised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The United Nation's (UN) health agency said that
its apprehension was heightened by a fresh
outbreak of cholera in Niger districts right at
the border with Nigeria.
Seventeen new cases of the disease have been
reported in Niger's southern Tahoua region since
August 19, WHO spokeswoman, Christine McNab,
said. Twelve of the cases clustered in the
district of Konni included four deaths.
"It's a very high case fatality rate," McNab told
Five other cases were found in the past three
days in the nearby district of Madaoua, she
The new cases come on top of 108 others,
including 11 deaths, reported elsewhere in the
same region since last month. The newly affected
districts are right by the border with Nigeria.
"We are concerned about this because cholera,
while it can be treated easily, often kills those
who aren't treated," McNab said.
"We are concerned also because it is so close to
the border with Nigeria...and we don't want to
see that spread further or spread across
Cases of cholera were reported in Nigeria last
year, according to WHO.
The agency said it was planning a mission to the
newly affected districts. Authorities in Niger
had intervened to treat wells and water supplies
and distribute medicine.
McNab however told Agence French Presse (AFP)
that no link had yet been established between the
cholera outbreak and the food crisis in Niger,
although malnourished people will be weakened and
more vulnerable to infection.
Officials of the Federal Ministry of Health said
last Friday that a recent cholera outbreak in
Kano had killed 30 people. A source from the
ministry said medical teams were working to
prevent the bacterial infection of the intestine
Romo Adamu, a top health official, said hundreds
of cholera infections had been reported, with 30
dead so far.
The ministry recorded a total of 1,616 cases and
76 deaths from October 15 to November 23, 2004
and Edo State recorded 300 cases and 50 deaths
from September 16 to November 18, 2004.
In Kano, 20 local councils were affected with the
case fatality rate highest among those less than
two years and over 60 years of age.
The possibility of a major cholera epidemic in
Nigeria was yesterday corroborated by a public
health physician at the College of Medicine,
University of Lagos (CMUL) and the Lagos
University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Adebayo
T. Onajole. He said: "Cholera is endemic in the
whole of Nigeria. It occurs at low levels most of
the time. When it is in epidemic proportion, it
is always as a result of a breakdown in social
services within that environment. It is not
limited to occurring between September and
The physician added: "It is always present all
the time. It is not unexpected in Kano because of
the way of life and lack of proper social
services like potable water supply, efficient
sewage disposal system and poor food hygiene
processes. It is spread by contamination of water
or food from somebody who has it. Most of the
time, it is by faecal contamination of water and
food. These predispose them to cholera spread,"
Onajole said that cholera outbreak or even
epidemic is possible in Lagos. "This is because
the level of hygiene and waste disposal is poor.
Drinking water pipelines pass through the drains.
In most markets in Lagos, food items are exposed
beside gutters and toilets. Nobody is enforcing
food hygiene. It is not only cholera that can
thrive in these situation but other diseases.
Cholera has a shot incubation period and can kill
within 48 hours."
WHO said that "the current wave of cholera
outbreaks started several weeks ago in West
Africa. So far, 31,259 cases and 517 deaths have
been reported in eight countries. Seasonal
factors such as the rainy season, along with
population movements in the area contribute to
this unusually high incidence of cholera."
Cholera, according to Onajole, is a severe
bacterial infection of the intestine caused by
Vibrio cholerae, when infected food is eaten or
contaminated water taken. Symtoms of cholera, he
said, include diarrhoea and vomiting, leading to
First Bank, Ecobank unite for pan-Africa services
By Enitar Ugwu
FIRST Bank of Nigeria Plc and Ecobank
International Incorporation (EII), the parent
company of the Ecobank Group, are set to give
birth to a pan-African banking institution.
A statement jointly signed by Ecobank Group Chief
Executive Officer, Mr. Arnold Ekpe, and First
Bank Managing Director, Mr. Jacob Ajekigbe, said
that the agreement on the proposed combination
"will cover issues such as shareholding
structure, strategy, integration, management,
governance, valuation, due diligence, and such
other steps or actions that may be necessary in
realising the objectives of the parties."
It said that both banks believe that the
combination would enhance shareholders' value by
eliminating duplication and reducing operating
costs through shared services. It continued: "It
is also anticipated that a combination of both
institutions will have the resources to
considerably grow revenues by expanding into new
countries and market segments."
The bank chiefs explained that the discussions
would also take into consideration the Memorandum
of Understanding (MoU) of Ecobank's Nigerian
subsidiary with two other local banks, namely
Chartered Bank and Regent Bank, subject to the
approval of all parties.
When the deal is completed, the emerging group
will have total assets of over $5.5 billion and
over 470 branches and offices in 13 West and
Central African countries. There will be a
subsidiary in the United Kingdom (UK) and a
representative in South Africa.
Already, Ecobank has over 110 branches in 13
countries in West and Central Africa and Nigeria.
First Bank, on the other hand, has over 360
branches spread across Nigeria, a subsidiary in
the UK and a representative office in South
Africa, as well as 10 local subsidiaries and
Reacting to the development, Chief Philip Asiodu,
chairman of the Ecobank Group, noted that "this
combination marks the second phase of the
evolution of Ecobank into a leading pan-African
bank. In the first phase, Ecobank ushered in the
era of indigenous regional banking in Africa and
has grown over the past few years into a U.S.$2
billion banking group, with shareholders from
over 15 countries in Africa and beyond. Our
shareholders include Francophone, Anglophone and
Lusophone nationals and institutions."
To his First Bank counterpart, Alhaji Umaru
Mutallab, "the combination with Ecobank gives
added meaning to the concept of globalisation and
Nigeria's increasing integration into the global
economy. By providing a platform that leverages
First Bank's strong domestic competencies and
Ecobank's unique and impressive transnational
coverage, we are creating a sub-regional
presence, with the financial wherewithal, the
technological endowment, and the transaction
know-how to intermediate the financing needs that
will drive our continent's economic development."
Minister restates ban on importation of barytes,
EVEN if future discoveries are not made, the
Federal Government says that Nigeria has
sufficient quantities of barytes to meet its
Consequently, the government has declared that
the ban on the importation of barytes and
bentonite will remain in force. Further steps, it
says, will be taken to increase local production
and utilisation of the two solid minerals.
The two minerals are extensively used by oil
companies in exploration activities and
maintenance of their wells.
The Minister of Solid Minerals, Mrs. Obiageli
Ezekwesili, who restated the government's
position on the ban of the two commodities in
Abuja yesterday, said that all provisional
concessions for barytes and bentonite importation
would be reviewed.
She spoke at a roundtable discussion on
production and utilisation of barytes and
bentonite. According to her, the ban on the two
commodities would be maintained with a view to
boosting domestic production.
The meeting sought to consider why, despite
proven reserves of the commodities they have
remained unutilised in oil drilling activities in
Ezewesili said: "This administration is convinced
that high-grade barytes and bentonite are not
only available in commercial quantities in
Nigeria but are also being mined by such private
operators like the Nigerian Barytes Mining and
Processing Company Limited (NBMPC), a subsidiary
of the Nigerian Mining Corporation (NMC), Jos in
Citing efforts made since 1999 by the Federal
Government to increase local production of the
two items, Ezekwesili observed that such efforts
had resulted in the discovery of barytes reserves
in Edo, Nassarawa, Zamfara, Cross River, Taraba,
and Benue states.
The minister put the yearly market demand of
barytes at 130,000 tonnes, and assured that
production can conveniently service all local
needs for more than five years, even without
She, therefore, called upon all stakeholders,
especially drilling companies, to support
government's efforts to diversify the Nigerian
economy and break away from its present
Ezekwesili said the intensity of exploration
activities and the exploitation of high-grade
barytes had been largely unsuccessful due to:
* pricing of Nigerian barytes by mud-drilling
companies operating at below prevailing
international market rates;
* deliberate rejection of barytes at Port
Harcourt and Warri (Delta State) to frustrate the
* under-valuation of the specific gravity of
Nigerian barytes; and
* under-weighing at the supply depots of the
mud drilling companies.
Atiku's family releases list of items with FBI
A COMPREHENSIVE list of the items taken from the
United States home of Vice President Atiku
Abubakar by some officials of the American
Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has
The Vice President's family, in a statement
yesterday, said that it released the list to put
the records straight. Some media houses (The
Guardian not included) had reported that huge
sums were taken by the FBI operatives from the
home during a search on August 3.
The family said that the statement followed "many
enquiries on the items removed from the house"
during the raid.
The statement added: "In order to reassure the
public, the family has decided to make public the
information contained on the document containing
the report of the search which was jointly signed
by the FBI officials and a representative of the
family. But at the time of the raid, the family
had already returned to Nigeria."
The FBI document is entitled: Receipt for
property Received/ Returned / Released / Seized.
According to the Vice President's family, the FBI
document was signed by the investigators' team
leader, special agent Mark Stanley of the
Northern Virginia Resident Agency but operating
out of the Washington Field Office. The other
signatories are Patrick Fallon and Michael James
Lasut of the Washington Field Office, who were
accompanied by police officer J.P. Cissel of the
Montgomery county, Maryland Department of police.
The statement listed the seized documents as
including "one envelope with house sketch, an
employee schedule information and employee
contact information, a green "Standard diary" and
a 2005 Appointment Book."
The list also includes a "possible list of camera
locations, software and operation manual for DVR,
a kalatel digital recorder, a multiplexer and a
Manila envelope with William Jefferson's return
The family said that "the special agents
concluded that the FBI of the U.S. Department of
Justice, at the time of conducting a search,
'certify that the above represents all that was
obtained by special agents of the Federal Bureau
of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice' ".
The Vice President's family lawyers, who made the
information available, according to the
statement, "deplored the attempt by some
newspapers to sensationalise the issue through
the fabrication of falsehood."
The FBI search was a part of investigations into
the conduct of Jefferson, an American
Congressman, who is being probed over some
suspected under-the-table deals with some African
leaders. Jefferson visited Vice President
Abubakar's U.S. home two days before the search.
The Congressman has been linked to an American
firm's offer to do business with the Nigerian
Telecommunications Limited (NITEL).
Also being investigated by the FBI in connection
with a similar alleged deal is Ghana's Vice
President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama.
Customs stops import concessions, targets N230b
ALL concessions on importation of raw materials
have been cancelled, the Nigerian Customs Service
(NCS) disclosed yesterday. Henceforth, only
President Olusegun Obasanjo can approve the
granting of duty exemptions or wavers.
The Comptroller-General of the Customs Services,
Jacob Gyang also disclosed in Abuja yesterday
that government lost about N27 billion through
such concessions last year. He added that with
the cancellation, the NCS would likely meet the
N230 billion revenue target set for it this year
by the government.
"These adjustments will open more windows of
opportunity for better collection and there is
every likelihood that the revenue target for this
year will be met," he stressed.
Gyang disclosed that the NCS has already
collected N111.8 billion as revenue in the first
six months of this year.
He said the revenue target for last year was N120
billion, while N118 billion was collected. On the
problem of smuggling, he said the activities of
the agency were yielding positive results as the
incidence of smuggling had fallen "drastically."
With regards to textiles, he said the NCS had
seized about 167 containers of contraband
imported into the country and that between 80 and
90 per cent of these containers were loaded with
He frowned at the suggestion that such seized
materials should be sold through public auction
or be distributed to the needy, instead of being
Justifying the policy of government to destroy
the goods, the Comptroller-General stated that
such imports were avenues of laundering drug
He therefore wondered why proceeds from such
illegal business should be legitimised by
distributing them to Nigerians.
"We are not burning our money because the foreign
exchange used to import them was not sourced
legally and so the government is not losing any
revenue in this respect.
"Secondly, we have a character problem in
Nigeria. If we say we should distribute the
materials to the needy, what is the guarantee
that it will get to the people targeted.
"Before you know it, people assigned to execute
such tasks will corner them and become textile
"Until we can sort out this character problem we
can not run like other societies," he said. The
only imports being disposed by public auction, he
said, were refrigerators, deep freezers and
vehicles among others, because burning would
compound the existing environmental problems.
New Owu's monarch, Dosumu, for coronation on
From Charles Coffie Gyamfi, Abeokuta
THE stage is now set for the coronation and
installation of Oba Olusanya Adeboyega Dosumu,
Amororo II as the Olowu of Owu. The event is
slated for Monday, October 3, 2005 in Owu,
Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Dosumu, whose selection as the Owu monarch was
trailed with controversy, will on that day ascend
the throne as the traditional ruler of President
Olusegun Obasanjo's hometown.
He was picked from six contestants, all from the
Amororo Ruling House, to succeed Oba Adisa
Odeleye, an architect who died about two years
In a statement yesterday in Abeokuta, the
chairman of the Coronation Publicity Committee,
Mrs. Seyi Aderinokun Olusanya explained that the
week-long activities to mark the occasion would
be unfolded soon.
She said that President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is
also the Balogun of Owu would be chief host of
the event, which is expected to draw several
At his Ipebi solitary confinement yesterday, the
Olowu-elect told journalists that contrary to
media reports, President Obasanjo did not
influence his selection as the new monarch.
He explained that he was favoured for the throne
because among all the contestants, he was the
only "direct" descendant of a past Owu monarch.
According to him, the Owu Chieftaincy Declaration
states that it is only when there is no direct
descendant of a past Oba that those from the
maternal side of a former monarch can be
He insisted that all his rivals were from the
maternal sides of past Owu rulers.
Dosumu, who said that the media had not been fair
to him in their reports on the tussle for the Owu
throne, explained that he kept quiet until now
because of his belief that God would chose the
"I used to pray one prayer during the crisis. My
prayer was: God, please yourself, if you don't
want me there (throne), I must not be there," he
On his plans for his people, Dosumu said he would
promote peace, love and unity in the community.
Edo summons security meeting over robberies
From Mike Osunde, Benin
AGAINST the backdrop of the rising crime wave in
Edo State, the state government has summoned a
security meeting to hold today in Benin-City.
The meeting is coming in the wake of calls by
banks for the return of the recently recalled
joint military-police operations set up last year
when robbers terrorised the state.
The joint operation was disbanded recently to
allow Police take up its responsibilities,
following the mass transfer of officers from the
Government House sources said yesterday that all
divisional police officers in the state, bank
managers and other stakeholders have been invited
to the parley slated for Government House.
At a meeting the bankers held with the state
Police Commissioner, Muktar Abbass, they called
for the return of the joint military-police
patrols. They argued that their presence helped
to stem the tide of robberies since December last
The Police have had to foil two bank robberies in
the last three weeks.
Addressing journalists after meeting with the
bank managers, Abbass said the Police were on the
trail of the robbers and were making conscious
efforts to frustrate what he called their
"enterprise" by beefing up security in bank
At the briefing, Abbass said a number of arrests
including university students involved in robbery
operations have been made.
Meanwhile, a seminar on security and its
challenges to the Nigerian society will preced
the episcopal meeting of the Catholic Bishops
Conference which opens in Benin, next week.
The seminar, organised by the Catholic
Secretariat of Nigeria, is apparently in response
to the growing security problems which the host
Bishop, Dr. Patrick Ebosele Ekpu, said has become
Ekpu, the Archbishop of Benin Diocese, told The
Guardian that security was one of the cardinal
responsibilities of the government to the
According to Ekpu, if a government fails to
secure its citizens, it is failing in one of its
major responsibilities for being a government.
Nigeria to become major LNG exporter, says
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has assured that
Nigeria would become a major exporter of
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in the next three to
Speaking at a lecture titled: "Nigeria and the
African Union" on Monday in Mexico City, Obasanjo
said that everything was being done to make the
country able to take the lead in the global LNG
He said that part of his discussions with the
Mexican president, Mr. Vincente Fox included the
need for Mexico to purchase LNG directly from
Nigeria instead of securing it from a third
He said that both countries had agreed to work
closely for the enhancement of their economic
progress, adding that trade missions from both
countries would exchange visits before the end of
Obasanjo said that both countries had agreed to
set up a joint commission that would work
actively for their mutual benefits and called for
greater collaboration between developing nations.
He added that what Africa needed from the
developed world was access to their market,
stressing that the next WTO meeting in Doha and
Hong Kong should "truly work for the growth of
both developing and developed economies."
Meanwhile, President Obasanjo has said that he
had found that women in his administration are
more loyal than men. Speaking at an interactive
session with members of Mexico's National
Assembly, Obasanjo said that at least 30 per cent
of his ministers were women.
He told the lawmakers who spoke of efforts by
their parliament to address discrimination
against women that though Nigeria was also facing
similar problems, there were no disparities in
salaries of men and women.
Obasanjo said however, that the country was
battling a serious problem of male chauvinism
"and that is my quarrel with them (men)."
"They believe that men should be on top," he
said, pointing out that one of the most effective
ways of addressing discrimination against women
was to give the girl child equal opportunities in
He said that his party, the PDP, also practised
an affirmative action in favour of women,
allowing at least 15 per cent of political
offices for women.
Ngige, Obi feud splits Igbo confab in U.S.
From Gordi Udeaja,
Los Angeles, USA
BUT for the prompt intervention of the
President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Joe
Irukwu on Saturday, September 3, 2005, the
special awards session of the World Igbo
Convention (WIC) in Los Angeles, United States,
would have been disrupted.
Reason: Members reacted differently to the
recognition of Mr. Peter Obi, recently declared
winner of the Anambra State 2003 governorship
The chairman of the California Chapter of the
WIC, Dr. Kalu Kalu Diogu, had invited Obi to the
high table as the governor-elect of the state.
This was after Chief Ozo Ughamadu, the Deputy
Speaker of the State House of Assembly, who said
he was representing Ngige and the state
government at the convention had been called and
assigned a seat at the high table.
While some held that Obi's recognition was in
order, going by the rule of law, some disagreed
on the premise that Ngige was still the state
And pacifying the dissenting factions, Irukwu
explained that it had been the policy of Ohanaeze
Ndigbo and by extension all Igbo groups to abide
by the rule of law. In this regard, he said that
Obi was only recognised based on the election
petitions tribunal verdict which declared hin the
state governor-elect, but that while the appeal
was pending, Ngige remained the substantive state
governor and ought to be so recognised.
It was learnt that both Ngige and Obi were
formally invited to attend the convention and
that Obi was not invited as the state governor.
Addressing the meeting, Governor Orji Uzor Kalu
of Abia State lamented that 35 years after the
civil war, the Igbo in Nigeria were still being
treated as second class citizens in a nation
their sons risked their lives to create.
"Ndigbo today are an endangered species in
Nigeria, we are neglected in distribution of
wealth. Ndigbo are treated with scorn," he said.
He said there were enormous oil reserves in
Anambra and Abia states and nobody was doing
anything to explore them.
"Everything Igbo is being destroyed or sabotaged
across the country. Businesses which I founded
long before I became governor have been closed
down by the Federal Government. My sin is that I
spoke the truth and refused to be used against
our people," he said.
Kalu said that the neglect and poverty that were
visible in Igboland did not seem to worry some
Igbo sons and daughters in positions of authority
at the federal level. His address was entitled
"Posterity will judge us."
He said: "I have opted for the path of honour to
stand by our people no matter the odds. I will
continue to fight for social justice and equality
in Nigeria, my crusade for a better deal for our
people is borne out of a deep and sincere belief.
Some people say Ndigbo are not capable of leading
the country and allude to the constant changes in
the leadership of the Senate as a defence. I
therefore, urge the WIC and this gathering to
tell ourselves the truth and redefine our
destiny, as we cannot continue to live in this
Stressing that this was the only way the Igbo
could liberate themselves, he urged the gathering
to support him as Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu,
Chief Christian Onoh and many other Igbo leaders
had openly done and identify with his
presidential aspirations for the 2007 polls.
Champion Newspapers publisher, Chief Emmanuel
Iwuanyanwu, however, recommended that the
Presidency should rotate among the six Nigerian
geo-political zones, alternating between the
North and the South.
Ohanaeze cancels Igbo day in Delta
From Chido Okafor, Warri
FOLLOWING the protracted leadership tussle
between two factions of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Delta
State, the socio-political organisation has
cancelled its arrangements for the celebration of
Igbo Day in the state.
An Igbo leader, Chief Augustin Asimole, said
yesterday in Warri that the yearly ceremony would
not hold because there was no leadership to
organise it. "It is clear that he who's house is
on fire does not chase rats," he stated.
Ohanaeze Nigbo in Delta had been without an
accepted leadership since last year.
The problem began when the Olu of Warri, at the
Warri Township during the last Igbo Day,
installed Sir Peter Chukwu who was then President
of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the Delta Central and South
Senotarial districts, as the Eze-Igbo of Warri.
But his installation was severely challenged by
another faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the area
led by Chief C.C. Anichebe. He was supported by
some affluent Igbo businessmen in Warri, who
accused Chukwu of being too ambitious following
his crowning as Eze-Igbo in Warri.
The Anichebe faction soon obtained a court
injunction restraining Chukwu from parading
himself as Eze-Igbo of Warri. The faction later
pronounced Anichebe as the new President of
Ohanaeze in the districts, resulting in the
closure of the Ohanaeze secretariat in Warri.
While in search of legitimacy, the faction
invited the national secretary of Ohanaeze
Ndigbo, Chief Joe Achuzie to Warri. Achuzie and
Anichebe supporters visited all the kings in the
Asimole said the installation of Chukwu as Eze-
Igbo of Warri was a collective decision of the
coalition for his contribution to the
popularisation of the pan-Igbo group in Delta
Bayelsa govt alleges plot to humiliate
From Kelvin Ebiri (Port Harcourt) and Willie Etim
BAYELSA State government officials raised an
alarm yesterday that a plot to bring down
Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha may be afoot
following the questioning of three of his aides
on Monday by the Economic and Financial Crimes
The three (names withheld) who were detained in
Port Harcourt on Monday, but have since been
released, were accused of money laundering in the
United States, as reported by the Federal Bureau
of Investigations (FBI).
A government official, who spoke to The Guardian
on the condition of anonymity, expressed concern
that the EFCC investigation might have been
politically motivated. He explained that the
government would wait for the outcome of the
The Acting Chief Press Secretary to the State
Governor, Preye Wariowe, confirmed the arrest of
the men and that they were interrogated for
alleged diversion of public funds through
purchases and award of contracts. On purchases,
the EFCC, according to him, was said to be
interested in a new boat - Sunseeker - bought by
the government, which is the official boat of the
governor and contract for the governor and his
On the state government's reaction, Wariowe noted
that the EFCC has visited several states across
the federation since its inception to interrogate
government officials over allegations of
In all these places, EFCC personnel spoke with
the people there or invited them to the
commission's offices in Abuja. There were no
"We are at a loss why the questioning of our
state officials did not take place in Yenagoa but
in Port Harcourt. We hope there are no political
undertones to this strange investigation; it
would appear to us that the target of this EFCC
onslaught is His Excellency, Chief DSP
Alamieyeseigha. But then, hard evidence would be
needed to move against him, so it becomes easy to
go after his aides," he said
Wariowe explained that of late, several
high-ranking government officials, including
President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Chief Justice of
the Federation, Justice Mohammed Uwais and other
government officials have come under EFCC
According to him, it is rather amazing that the
EFCC should be bothered by the purchase of a boat
for official use by the governor even when other
governors have acquired more expensive machines
As to the contracts for the building of the
Governor's Lodge and the Deputy Governor's Lodge,
the press aide said these were projects that
began in 1999 and wondered at the reason behind
the investigation. He further asserted that the
motive for the continued detention of the three
government officials was to paralyse the state.
"We wish to state that the reason behind the
setting up of the EFCC is noble. The Government
of Bayelsa State supports it. All Nigerians must
support the EFCC to carry out their duties
diligently and effectively. However, where the
EFCC is turning out to be a vehicle for the
persecution and demonisation of citizens, then
our democracy is in danger" he added.
Why we want fresh polls in Anambra, by INEC
IF the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC) had its way, it would hold a fresh
governorship election in Anambra State.
According to the INEC chairman, Prof. Maurice
Iwu, the commission is challenging the election
tribunal's decision and is asking for a fresh
Iwu told House of Representatives Commission on
Electoral Matters yesterday in Abuja that since
the court ruled that INEC never conducted
elections in 90 out of 213 wards in the state,
"it makes sense to conduct a fresh elections".
He argued that the commission being the only body
responsible for conducting elections in the
country was convinced that elections were
conducted in the state.
"I think the onus now is on the court to now say,
based on the available facts before it, that we
conducted or we didn't conduct elections in those
wards," he said.
He added: "Now that the court ruled that INEC did
not conduct electione in 90 wards, I think they
should cancel the elections."
Rights group raises alarm on extra-judicial
By Kayode Falade
NO fewer than 2,987 people fell victim of
extra-judicial killings in the country in 2004.
This was the finding of a human rights group, the
Legal Defences and Assistance Project (LEDAP).
The group's national co-ordinator, Mr. Chino
Obiagwu, made the revelation yesterday in Lagos
at the presentation of a report, "Impunity in
Nigeria: Reports of Extra Judicial, Arbitrary and
Summary Executions in Nigeria 2004."
Alarmed by the development, the group has warned
that if unchecked, it portends a grave threat to
the growth of the nation's democracy.
It also pointed out that if allowed to continue
unabated, it could undermine the economic
development of the country.
Obiagwu told reporters that what proved most
worrisome in this development is the impunity in
which law enforcement agents and other agents of
the state carry on with this act.
He also lamented that as most of these killings
were unreported, the figure must have been more.
The organisation was further piqued that "out of
the total death arising from extra judicial and
summary killings, none has been resolved or
perpetrators prosecuted to finality."
According to LEDAP, this shows a 100 per cent
rate of impunity.
"In the corresponding period in 2003, LEDAP
recorded 117 cases resulting in 756 deaths out of
which only 16 were resolved. It shows that the
increase in the number of cases resolved shows
that the accountability capacity of the Nigerian
state, with respect to the right to life and
human security, is increasingly declining at an
alarming rate," the national co-ordinator
Obiagwu also observed that "impunity is a
situation where violation of human rights and
other crimes go unpunished."
To curb this problem, the group called for the
complete overhauling of the nation's police
It stated that it was this step coupled with the
provision of adequate communication and other
facilities that could effectively fight crimes
and control violence in the country.
"The leadership of the Nigerian Police Force
should also take concrete steps to prosecute to
finality policeman that engage in extra judicial
executions in order to send the proper message
that the authorities are not condoning the
killings," Obiagwu said in his address.
The LEDAP also raised alarm on the unchecked
influx of small arms into the country and the
circulation in high number of such.
The 109-page project report documented not only
the extra judicial killings in 2004, but the
summary executions too.
It also held that an average of five people were
killed extra judicially in the country in the
year under probe.
While fielding questions from reporters, Obiagwu
pointed out that the police have no right to
parade suspects and display their photographs or
images in both the print and electronic media.
He described this as an infringement on the
fundamental human rights of the paraded persons,
stressing that a suspect is adjudged innocent
until convicted by a court of law.
He further lamented that most of the paraded
suspects were never brought to trial in a
properly constituted court of law.
Obiagwu alleged that these suspects mostly end up
as victims of extra judicial killings.
The LEDAP national co-ordinator also decried the
situation where the police and other law
enforcement agents do not implement any judgment
He disclosed that about 150 judgments have been
made against the police in the last 10 years, but
regretted that none has been implemented.
He, however, called on the press to help
sensitise the citizens on their rights, the
ignorance of which he said, has been aiding the
impunity of extra judicial killing in the
Obiagwu also blamed militia group, vigilance
group, cults and other groups for summary
killings. The excesses of these groups,
especially the militia, he said, should be curbed
to allow growth of the country's economy and
Suspected arsonists burn Ado-Ekiti council
From Ifedayo Sayo, Ado-Ekiti
AGAIN, crisis erupted in Ekiti State yesterday as
suspected arsonists broke into the office of the
Ado-Ekiti Council Chairman, Mr. Taye Fasubaa and
set it ablaze. The incident occurred in the early
hours of yesterday. The council boss had in the
past one and half years been in the eye of the
storm in the political crisis in the state.
Fasubaa attributed the incident to the handiwork
of his political foes who were envious of his
"soaring popularity in the state."
He said there was a link between the attempted
attack on his life a year ago and the latest
incident, saying he was convinced that the
arsonist attack was politically motivated.
Fasubaa said the arsonists arrived at the council
secretariat complex around 11.00pm on Monday
night and scaled the fence of the complex to gain
entrance into the premises.
They later gained access to the office of the
chairman through the window after breaking the
louvres and cutting the burglary proof.
The arsonists, Fasubaa further explained brought
along with them petrol and matches with which
they set the office ablaze and escaped through
Affected by the fire incident were office
equipment, tables and chairs, the ceiling,
electronic gadgets and tiles kept in the office.
However, he said vital documents kept in office
were not affected by the fire, saying the
arsonists were only in the office to send warning
signal to him.
Fasubaa said he had reported the incident to the
police who were yet to effect any arrest,
pointing out that he learnt of the arsonists'
attack through the security men attached to the
He stressed that initially, he thought the whole
secretariat was on fire only to get to the office
and saw that his was the only one affected.
Fasubaa, who claimed to have contacted the fire
brigade service on the attack, said he was sure
that the perpetrators could be linked to those
who wanted to assassinate him about a year ago.
While conducting reporters round the scene, he
said: "You can see it is a sabotage. They broke
the louvres and bend the burglary proof to gain
entrance before they set the office ablaze. I
know that they are envious of my achievements in
But they will always fail as they did before."
Nurses oppose fuel price increase
From Okumephuna Chukwunwike, Abuja
MORE criticisms have continued to trail the
recent fuel price increase in the country as the
National Association of Nigeria Nurses and
Midwives has opposed the action.
The Association in a statement signed by its
Acting General Secretary, Sam Bolawole and made
available to The Guardian yesterday said that the
increase was unexpected and quite agonising in
view of the prevailing economic reality in the
"The increase will further compound the already
chaotic and unbearable living conditions of the
good people of Nigeria. In view of the above, the
association is calling on the Federal Government
to revert to the old rates," they added.
Describing itself as a humanitarian profession
that covers everywhere in the country in terms of
health care delivery service, the association
also urged the Federal Government to avert the
impending unpleasant health hazard and economic
problems the citizens will face if the price was
It, however, warned that they might be forced to
join other industrial unions in the planned
nation wide strike.
"We will be compelled to take this unpleasant
action if our pleading to revert to the old price
is not considered favourably. Similarly, the
association is calling on the traditional rulers,
religious groups, students, non-governmental
organisations and well meaning Nigerians to
prevail on the President to reverse to the former
price", the statement added.
Soludo presents 2005 human debt report
CENTRAL Bank governor, Prof. Charles Soludo will
tomorrow present the global Human Development
Report 2005 to some diplomats, development
partners, civil society representatives and
senior government officials at the UN House in
A statement yesterday by the UN Communications
Specialist, Mr. Waziri Adio, said the report,
entitled: "International cooperation at a
crossroads: Aid, trade and security in an unequal
world," will be launched in Nigeria a day after
its global launch in New York, where Finance
Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is featuring as
the lead discussant.
Published yearly since 1990 by the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), the Human
Development Report has become an authoritative
and invaluable resource to researchers, advocates
and policy makers across the globe.
It provides cutting-edge analyses and insights on
issues that affect human development and features
the Human Development Index.
Kidnappers demand N1.5m ransom
By Alex Olise and Odita Sunday
KIDNAPPERS struck again in Lagos yesterday. They
are now demanding a N1.5 million ransom on their
captor, 15-year-old Jennifer Okhudigbe. This
happened barely 24 hours after officers of the
Lagos State Police Command rescued two children
from the hands of a female kidnapper.
The incident according to the Deputy Commissioner
of Police (DCP), State Criminal Investigation
Department (SCID) Panti, Mr. Olayinka Balogun,
was reported by the parents of the 15-year-old
Security report available to the police, he
disclosed showed that the kidnappers are now in a
hideout at the Kuramo Beach, Victoria Island,
The hoodlums had in addition to their demand for
the sum, instructed the victim's father to come
over to their hideout with a sophisticated hand
set with one of the Global System for
communication (GSM) Lines.
Crack detectives of the State Criminal
Investigation Department were seen yesterday
marshalling out plan on how to rescue the victim
and apprehend the suspects.
The Okhudigbes reside in one of the buildings
located at Ademola Sanya Street, off Aileyun
The victim's father, Mr. Ofemu Jonathan Okhudigbe
looked worried yesterday when he visited the
police to ascertain the fate of his daughter.
The Guardian had raised an alarm on Monday that
between six and seven persons are reported
missing under mysterious circumstances on a
weekly basis within the metropolis."
Two weeks ago, a boy was kidnapped by two men at
Isolo area of Lagos demanding a ransom of N2
This was after the boy's father had parted with a
Toyota Camry car and N150,000.
The kidnappers were subsequently apprehended
after being lured into a plot hatched by the
police in collaboration with the victim's father.
The kidnappers had been invited to come for the
ransom at the father's resident. On their
arrival, a team of detectives swooped on them and
got them arrested. The kid was also rescued
The suspects were later discovered to be the
On interrogation, they confessed to the crime
claiming they needed the money to embark on a
business trip abroad.
At the Oshodi area of the metropolis on Monday, a
team of policemen on routine patrol had accosted
a woman driving a Toyota Carina II salon car with
two kids, aged two and six months sweating and
crying profusely. This attracted the officers'
attention and they later arrested the woman. She
is now undergoing interrogation.
Monarch urges peace in Ekiti, pledges support for
From Ifedayo Sayo, Ado Ekiti
FOLLOWING the clash on Monday between the police
and some of his subjects, the Ogoga of Ikere, Oba
Adegboye Akayejo, has urged the indigenes of the
town to shun any act of violence in the interest
of the community.
The appeal came on the heels of the protest by
the people over ongoing plans to impeach the
Deputy Governor, Mr. Abiodun Aluko, by the State
House of Assembly.
The Ogoga was with a member of the ruling Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees, Chief
Dayo Okondo and other notable indigenes of the
town who spoke during the visit of the Acting
Governor, Mr. Taiwo Olatunbosun, to Ikere.
They all harped on the need for the people of the
town to be law-abiding, assuring that the present
political situation in the state would soon be
Oba Akayejo restated his support for the State
Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose. He noted that several
benefits had accrued to the town from the Fayose
administration, particularly the newly
constructed Ikere-Ise-Emure Road,
Ikere-Igbara-Odo Road, the oil depot still under
construction, a poultry project as well as the
appointment of Ikere indigenes into top positions
Okondo dismissed insinuations that the state was
on fire, noting that people were already going
about their normal businesses.
The Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly
and Acting Governor, Olatunbosun, appreciated the
support of the Ikere people to the Fayose
administration, stressing that "Ikere will always
occupy a pride of place in the heart of the state
He denied speculations of attempts by the
government to deprive Ikere people of their
rights and called on the indigenes of the town to
continue to support the state government. He
pledged that the post of deputy governor would
remain in Ikere.
Olatunbosun said that those spreading rumours
that the post of deputy governor would be moved
out of Ikere were only trying to cause
disaffection with the government, saying they
were enemies of progress.
Hundreds of indigenes had staged a protest in the
town calling on the state assembly to halt the
move to remove the deputy governor, saying that
Aluko had been a loyal subordinate to Fayose.
Obasanjo restates vow to fight corruption
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday restated
that his administration was now more than ever
determined to crush all corrupt public officers,
no matter their positions.
He spoke in Abuja at the opening of a two-day
International Conference on Public Audit and
Accountability Reforms organised by the Office of
the Auditor-General of the Federation in
collaboration with the World Bank.
Represented by the Minister of Special Duties,
Col. Musa Mohammed, President Obasanjo said: "Our
avowed zero-tolerance for the scourge of
corruption derives from our conviction that
countering corruption and promoting public
integrity are critical to economic rebirth and
sustained development. If we must properly ground
our democracy, if we must engender religious
commitment to transparency and accountability,
and make government responsive to the needs of
our people, then we must make a conscious vow to
permanently turn our backs on our decadent,
wasteful, and corruption-driven past."
According to the President, the audit process has
a crucial role to play in driving forward the
administration's economic and political
He added: "An independent, efficient, effective
and innovative Auditor-General's Office is one
which fosters strong financial management based
on reliable, sufficient and timely reporting. It
is your responsibility to ensure full disclosure
of deviations and effective internal controls
systems in order to compel respect for the tenets
of transparency and accountability."
Also at the ceremony, Senate President Ken
Nnamani observed that audit has got to be taken
seriously because the country was sick and tired
of financial mismanagement by elected executives.
Represented by Senator Daniel Saror, Nnamani
said: "There is this hue and cry of poverty in
the midst of plenty because of mismanagement of
public funds by those in the executive positions.
It is almost getting to a point where those
involved in this act should have their hands
chopped off because of the dangerous trend."
He welcomed the concern of the international
community for the reform programme in the country
and assured that the National Assembly would do
all possible to entrench a reign of new laws in
Benue seeks truce with Tsav
From Simeon Nwakaudu, Makurdi
WORRIED by the continued face-off between it and
the former Lagos State Police Commissioner,
Abubakar Tsav, the Benue State government has
called for a ceasefire. However, Tsav said he
would continue to point out the defects of the
Governor George Akume-led administration to
ensure better governance.
The state Information Commissioner, Mr. Cletus
Akwaya, in a constituency briefing at Vandeikya
Council where Tsav hails from, called on the
former police chief's kinsmen to prevail on him
to stop writing petitions against Akume. He noted
that Tsav's action had deprived the people of
Akwaya regretted that despite several entreaties,
Tsav had turned his back on reconciliatory moves.
He pointed out that the former police boss
preferred to write destructive petitions against
government officials with no proof of such
The commissioner insisted that Akume has
performed creditably, stressing that what the
governor needs new is valuable support and not
He therefore, urged Tsav to retrace his steps and
end his criticism of Akume in the interest of
However, in response to the state government's
overtures for peace, Tsav said that he would
cease petitioning officials of the state
government when they put an end to alleged
massive looting of the state's treasury.
Tsav said: "To convince me against petition
writing, let my younger brother Akwaya, tell his
boss to complete all the projects he started
since 1999 including those abandoned by Dr.
Iyorchia Ayu. Then I can be part of commissioning
and therefore stop criticising Akume."
He added that he could not be bought over by the
state government, saying: "Honesty can influence
my conscience. I have nothing against Akume. If
my son is made governor today and he fails to
perform, I will criticise him."
Tsav insisted that his criticism of poor
performance should not be an excuse for the
governor to deny Vandeikya of developmental
According to him, even the governor's immediate
constituency has not benefited from any
Tsav has been an avowed critic of the Akume
administration over alleged non-performance.
Ali attributes strife in PDP to struggle for
From John-Abba Ogbodo, Abuja
THE National Chairman of the ruling Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP), Ahmadu Ali, yesterday
identified a fierce struggle for power among
members as the cause of the crisis rocking the
Ali stated this during a solidarity visit to him
by a coalition of youth associations in the
country under the aegis "Democratic Crusaders"
even as members of the National Working Committee
(NWC) did not attend the meeting.
Ali, who reflected on the crisis rocking the
party, particularly the feud between President
Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku
Abubakar, lamented that struggle for power among
PDP chieftains is the party's problem.
"We have our internal problems and that involve
the way of politics because people are jostling
for positions and none of these people wants to
leave it. They are all willing to remain there.
Those who had left are coming in their
thousands," Ali said.
The national chairman, however, said that despite
the internal wrangling, the PDP is waxing
stronger and remains the party to beat in the
country. "The party is strong. The party is well,
the party is hale and hearty. The party de
kampe," he assured.
Ali advised the youths to be cautious about
becoming politicians. He said: "I advise you to
play politics as a hobby. Don't go there to earn
a living. It is dangerous to start life with
politics. Have a permanent job, politics should
not be your main job. It should be an addition.
It is like wine. When you drink it, it gets into
The national chairman also warned the youths
against thuggery and advised them not to sell
their votes during elections.
The National President of the group, Amidu Anaja,
said the solidarity visit was informed by the
recent attempt by some people to demonise Ali on
account of board appointments, arguing that there
was no clause in the party's constitution that
forbids the chairman from having his own nominees
on the board.
Anaja urged the chairman not to be distracted by
"the campaign of calumny, stressing that most of
the people complaining have no electoral values.
"We, the entire youths crusading for the good and
sustenance of democracy in Nigeria urge you to
remain focused on the good work you started with
PDP and disregard the machinations of detractors,
arm chair critics and the Pharisees whose main
stock in trade is pull him down and searching for
the specks in the eyes of others."
The group's leader continued: "In any case, what
is the big deal having two family members out of
22 members you are entitled to put on boards in
your official capacity as the national chairman.
Since there is no clause in the party's
constitution restraining you from doing so. Are
they not bonafide Nigerians working hard for the
success of the party?"
But most of the party's NWC, including the
National Secretary, Chief Ojo Maduekwe and the
Deputy National Chairman, South, Chief Bode
George, were absent at the occasion although they
were in their offices at the national secretariat
where the event took place. Both Maduekwe and
George came into the premises almost the same
time and did not bother to even look at the
conference hall where the visit took place.
Breaking the resource control logjam
By Fred Okpohworho
THE National Political Reform Conference ended
recently without an agreement on the percentage
that should be allocated to the states on the
basis of derivation. The oil producing states
("OPS") of the Niger Delta demanded that the
percentage be raised from the present 13 per cent
to at least 25 per cent while most of the non-oil
producing states ("NOPS") as epitomised by the
northern states resisted any increase in the
percentage allocation but grudgingly accepted an
increase to 17 per cent. The inability of the
Conference to reach a consensus on this issue led
the South-South delegates to boycott the last
sessions of the conference.
This has led many commentators to conclude that
the Conference was a failure. It is heartening
however, that the President has kept the issues
raised and discussed at the Conference alive.
While presenting the report of the Conference to
the National Assembly, the President signalled
that the issues raised were still subject to
debate and discussion. It appears, from comments
emanating from many members of the National
Assembly, that the legislators intend to subject
the recommendations of the Conference to intense
scrutiny and debate before adopting, modifying,
or rejecting any of them. This is an attempt to
contribute to that debate and discourse.
This commentary is not intended to be a wholesale
appraisal of the success or otherwise of the
Conference but is intended to suggest ways out of
what has come to be known as the resource control
logjam. It may be well to mention however, that
the fact that the Conference provided a forum to
put such fundamental national issues like
resource control on the front burner of national
discourse is, in itself, a great achievement and
underscores the wisdom of Mr. President in
setting up the conference in the first instance.
I identify with the position of Olorogun Senator
Felix Ibru as expressed in The Guardian of August
15, 2005, that the issue should be addressed
through dialogue and in the spirit of
brotherliness. Hence, while the OPS are justified
in their demand for a 100 per cent control of
their resources, they must also try to understand
and appreciate the fears of the NOPS. It is my
opinion that the NOPS understand the position of
the OPS and see justification for the anger but
worry about the possible impact an increase in
the derivation percentage will have on their
states. In the understanding of the NOPS, an
increase in the allocation to the OPS on the
basis of derivation will result in a net decrease
in the overall allocation to their states. In
effect a win for the OPS is seen as a loss to the
NOPS. We must therefore look for solutions that
will address the problems driving the agitation
for greater resource control by the OPS that will
not necessarily be seen by the NOPS as a loss to
them. We must think outside the box to find
creative solutions that will at least appear to
all as a win.
In navigating our way out of this logjam, I will
recommend a multifaceted approach. This approach
will consist of a basket of solutions which, if
applied holistically or in part, may address all
the issues and satisfy the interests involved in
the dispute. What this means is that an enhanced
revenue allocation formula should be seen as one
means of placating and compensating the OPS but
not the only solution. Thankfully, many of the
solutions proffered can be implemented via
legislation by the National Assembly, at least in
the short term, while permanent fixes can be
addressed through constitutional amendments in
the long term.
As for revenue allocation itself, I will urge
that we consider a graduated revenue allocation
formula. I suggest that the 17 pert cent
recommended by the Conference be applied to any
receipts from petroleum exports up to the amount
of $30 per barrel and 33 per cent for any
receipts above $30 per barrel. This way, all the
states are assured of enough revenue for their
development in the event that oil prices f<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)