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Daily Independent

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  • Nubi Achebo
    Fresh crisis looms in Osun As Ige s kinsmen plan attack on Ife By Dele Lateef Daily Independent Ile-Ife, a town just smarting from a protracted war with
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 13, 2002
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      Fresh crisis looms in Osun
      As Ige's kinsmen plan attack on Ife

      By Dele Lateef

      Daily Independent
      Ile-Ife, a town just smarting from a protracted war
      with neighbouring Modakeke, another Yoruba town, may
      bein for another round of bloody clash as Ijesha
      people, kinsmen of the slain Minister of Justice and
      Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige,
      have vowed to retaliate the attack on their son at
      Ile-Ife, using both violent and spiritual means.

      The people, who view the attack on Ige as an insult on
      their deity, have already sent signals to the Ajimoko
      and Ogedengbe families of warriors of their planned
      retaliation. The two families reputed for their
      bravery have lent support to the Ijesha people for the
      spiritual battle they intend to launch against Ife.
      Chief Ige was on December 15,last year attacked by
      some hired thugs who removed his cap and broke his
      pair of glasses at the palace of the Ooni of Ife on
      the occasion of the conferment of a chieftaincy title
      on Chief Mrs. Stella Obasanjo as the Yeye Oromiyan of
      Ife.
      The attack was followed fewdays later by the gruesome
      assassination of the minister in his Bodija home,
      Ibadan, Oyo State. His kinsmen have vowed not to take
      the incident at Ile-Ife lightly as they have resolved
      to launch a spiritual battle against master minders of
      the attack on Ige. They had earlier embarked on a
      peaceful protest around the ancient town of Ilesha
      immediately after the incident. During the protest
      ,Ige's kinsmen wore black headband and marched to
      strategic parts of the town without uttering a word to
      anybody.
      It was learnt that the Ijesha people are planning a
      major attack on Ife by engineering a controversy over
      boundary with the ancient town.
      The controversy is expected to degenerate to
      skirmishes with a view to capitalising on it to launch
      a counterattack on Ife over Ige's humiliation.
      A spokesman of the Ijesha people who is also the
      Alliance for Democracy (AD) leader in the senate,
      Senator Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa, confirmed the planned
      retaliation, saying thesilence of the people should
      not be misconstrued. He said, "we have our own
      strategy, anyone or group who did it on Ige will pay
      for it dearly. Ijeshas are not cowards and I think our
      brothers in Ife know that". Akinfenwa, who was the
      chairman of Ige's burial committee in Ijesha land,
      said the humiliationat Ile-Ife was "most disturbing
      and disgracing in a place regarded as thecradle of
      civilization".
      Investigations by DailyIndependent reveal that the
      police are not aware of the planned retaliation. The
      command's spokesman, Mr. Oluwole Ayodeji, said the
      police was yet to get any report on the alleged plan
      by the Ijesha people, assuring however, that security
      had been beefed up in the state to avoid any breakdown
      of law and order
      --------------------

      Onyali unaware of MON award
      Blames the govt for not communicating with her

      By Humphrey Njoku

      Daily Independent
      The National and Africa 200 metres champion, Mary
      Onyali-Omagbemi, claims ignorance of the recent
      national award of Member of Order of the Niger,(MON),
      bestowed on her by the Federal Government in
      recognition of her contributions to the development of
      sports in the country. Onyali who was at the National
      Stadium to honour a meeting convened by the Athletics
      Federation of Nigeria, (AFN), president, Mr. Dan
      Ngerem told Daily Independent shortly after the event
      that she was unaware and would have remained unaware
      of the award but for her friends whogave her the good
      tidings. The athlete who threatened boycott of the
      forthcoming Commonwealth Games, if her training grants
      and that of other athletes seized since 1996 were not
      released on time, expressed surprise at the award and
      the manner in which the organisers chose to go about
      it. She blamed the organisers for not informing some
      of the recipients but thanked the government for
      considering her worthy of the award. "I am happy about
      it, actually I did not know that I was given an award
      but for my friend who told me. I am happy
      notwithstanding", she said. Obviously unsure of what
      the MON award means and what would be expected of her,
      Onyali pleaded with the government to forward a letter
      to her explaining in detail what the award means, and
      what is expected of her. Onyali praised the efforts of
      the AFN president to bring the federation back to the
      path of glory and progress.
      ----------------------

      Ige's burial: four crushed by cab

      By Bolaji Adepegba

      Daily Independent
      People of Ijebujesa in Osun State will not forget in a
      hurry the funeral ceremonies of the late attorney
      general of the federation, Chief Bola Ige as four
      people were crushed by a taxicab painted in the Osun
      colour of blue and white stripe with registration
      number AG 41 JJS at about 5.15 P.M. in the town on
      Friday.
      Before the accident, Ijebujesa had been agog with
      expectations that the body of the slain states
      manwould be conveyed through the township, being the
      last human settlement before Esa Oke, the minister's
      home town and final resting place, on a major route
      from Osogbo, the state capital. Residents had lined up
      the streets to have a last glimpse of the late
      minister. Transport situation in the town andother
      towns along the route was at a stand still as
      commercial vehicles wereoff the streets in solidarity
      with the funeral train.
      According to an eye witness,the incident occurred when
      travellers in a white Toyota Corolla car heading to
      Esa Oke threw flyers bearing the late orator's
      biography into the air while curious
      residentsscrambled to pick copies that fell on the
      road. The cab, a fairly old Nissan 120 Y, rammed at
      top speed into the four residents and killed three on
      thespot. The fourth, a middle aged woman was still
      gasping for breath when Daily Independent arrived the
      scene. They were all rushed to the
      hospitalimmediately. Mean while, the driver whose name
      was given as Dele Adegbayi ofIsale Oja area of the
      town sped off after the incidence. Vehicles in the
      convoyof Mr. Gani Adams, the leader of a faction of
      Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) whoarrived the scene
      about two minutes after gave the cabman a chase into
      thenooks and cranies of the town. However the taxi
      driver abandoned the cabsomewhere, taking to his heels
      but leaving one of the passengers aboard. The OPC
      contingent got to the vehicle as one of the passengers
      who gave his name as Lanre Ojo, and who knew the
      driver was about to scamper out of the vehicle. He was
      caught and he gave the name of the cab driver. The OPC
      leader, who had passed the scene before the incident,
      came back when he did not see the other vehicles in
      his convoy. He sympathised with thecommunity and
      ordered that Lanre and the cab be handed over to the
      police immediately.

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

      Aspirants line up for Kwatalo's job

      By Habib Yakoob
      Daily Independent
      Alhaji Babannan Rabo Alyara, chairman of All Peoples
      Party chapter in Jigawa State, has cautioned aspirants
      jostling for the vacant position of deputy governor of
      the state against being overzealous. Alyara told the
      aspirants to exercise patience, as the nomination will
      be at the discretion of the state governor. It was
      learnt that since the resignation of the former deputy
      governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shehu Kwatalo, and his
      subsequent defec-tion to the Peoples Democratic Party,
      aspirants have been making frantic efforts to be
      nominated for the job. Only last week, chairmen and
      secretaries of APP from eight local government
      councils in Hadejia Emi-rate, from where the deputy
      governor may likely be picked, collectively signed a
      letter endorsing the Commissioner for
      Environment,Alhaji Abbas Annas Guri. In theletter,
      they described Annas, whohails from Guri Local
      Government Area of Hadejia Emirate as "dedicated,
      honest and loyal". But thechairman of the APP in the
      state, Alhaji Babannan Rabo Alyara, revealed in
      atelephone interview that the nomination of the deputy
      governor is the soleprerogative of the governor, who
      deserves the right not to be stampeded. "I donot think
      that the governor has broken any constitutional
      provision by not appointing his deputy. Nobody
      canimpose himself on him or even browbeat him into
      taking such action", adding that, "the governor is
      taking his time, so as not to makethe same mistake he
      made, when hefirst chose his former running mate in
      1999". Babannansaid even though the governor has the
      right to nominate, as a democrat, hehas to hear the
      party's advice and position, as regards those who
      shouldqualify for the position, adding that "we have
      rendered such advice andit is left to the governor to
      make the nomination". ThoughBabannan would not
      disclose thenames of the aspirants forwarded to the
      governor for eventual selection, hestated that whoever
      emerges would have been nominated for his "merit
      andunshaken loyalty which such job demands". He
      ruledout any possibility that the non-appointment of a
      deputy governor would affectthe smooth administration
      of the state, stressing that "theTuraki's government
      remains the best, so far".

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

      Nigerians in unusual business

      By Sylvester Tunde Atere
      Daily Independent
      The approach to the shack was rough and dangerous, not
      only because of sharp objects lying around. It was
      also a lonely path hardly used by anybody. It is
      located at the tip of what appears to be a cliff, and
      arguably one of the highest spots at the sprawling
      Olusosun landfill site, Ojota, Lagos. Coded messages
      had passed round as we approached the makeshift
      structure, home of the 26-year old Daniel Raymond, a
      leading scavenger. His articles of trade ranging from
      disused electric appliances likeradios, fans and
      cables littered the frontage of the makeshift wooden
      structurewrapped massively with transluscient nylon
      sheets of different shades and colours. Time was
      around noon, the first day ofJanuary, 2002. Apart from
      the stench oozing from all directions as the hot
      windblows, the atmosphere was quite serene. The
      situation here was quite differentfrom the wild
      gyrations and noisy firework of the metropolis called
      Lagos.Thick and offensive smoke was billowing, from a
      major tip section in the refusedump complex. We were
      met few metres to the structureby a young man who
      after scrutinizing us inquired of our mission. "Whyare
      you here? And what can we do for you?" Interrogation
      session gone,the door flips half open quietly
      revealing a frying pan containing pieces ofmeat
      supported by empty tins of beverage. In-between the
      tripod stand werewoods and other objects that could
      generate energy. Called 'Garrus' by closeassociates,
      Daniel emerged from his shack looking rather haggard
      anddehydrated. He scratched his head and coughed
      reassuringly. He apologized forwhat he called a
      'rough' encounter, saying visitors' identity must be
      known forsecurity purposes. "Most of the time, members
      of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) do come
      around to ask us questions. So, we do notcompromise
      our security. And by the way, we do not allow
      strangers to wanderabout here. Every man keeps to
      himself. It is a way of life here. I am talkingto you
      now because today is special. "My name is Daniel
      Raymond, alsoknown as Garrus. I have been here for
      about ten years now. I was a picker orwhat people
      called scavenger for about five years before I decided
      to be on myown. I have come a long way. I learnt this
      trade and acquired the skill. It isa good business for
      those that are strong. An outsider cannot survive
      thisterrain. "But for poverty, nobody wouldcome here.
      This however, is not to say that the business does not
      have itsbenefits. People from differentwalks of life,
      particularly, Lebanese do come here to patronize us;
      not mindingthe unfriendly physical environment", he
      said. His countenance suddenly changed,pleading, "You
      may have to go now. No more questioning." Although,
      Daniel confessed not beingtoo educated, but boasted
      that he was a thorough professional in the business. A
      little down the land fill area whichcovers about
      thirty hectares of land is a sprawling settlement.
      Heaps of itemsspanning used shoes, rubber slippers,
      plastic chairs, empty bottles, cans ofbeer and soft
      drinks were all neatly arranged in sacks. Moses Ajide,
      like akeeper of a derelict home squatted on an empty
      tin, wearing an amiable mien. Looking sober, and with
      misty eyes henarrated the story of his life. "I came
      into this business about sixmonths ago. I was
      introduced by my elder sister who hawks pure water
      aroundhere. It was a hard decision I had to take to
      survive and be able to face thechallenges in the years
      ahead. My dream was halted by the devastating death
      ofmy mother in 1995. Although I graduated from
      Community Grammar School, Elewura,Challenge, Ibadan,
      Oyo State in 1996, a year after her death, the journey
      hasbeen very rough. He said he got into the
      scavengingtrade to raise money and go back to school.
      "My father is old and too weak tosupport me
      financially. I have four credits from the previous
      examination and Iam now trying to raise enough money
      to take the General Certificate Examinationso that I
      can make up my certificate and gain admission into
      KwaraPolytechnic". He shares the same dream with
      hislandlord and roommate, Jerry Ozuruigbo, who is
      already on his way out of thescavenging business by
      the end of January if his ambition to pursue a
      lawdegree programme at the University of Calabar
      materialises. Jerry too has his own story to tell.His
      problem has to do with rebellion. He opposed his
      parents on the choice ofcareer to pursue. He
      thereafter lost their financial support. "I have a
      Diploma in Law from theUniversity of Jos; even though
      my initial ambition was to pursue a careereither in
      Theatre Arts or Linguistics. But my parents would not
      want any ofsuch. They have their own idea of what
      constitutes a good career. This led to afundamental
      disagreement. I then decided to fend for myself. Now,
      I have to goback to get fulfilled and prove to my
      parents who are not even aware of what Iam doing now
      that I am not a failure." The business terrain, he
      said, isfraught with risk. "Business could be good
      when one is lucky. It couldalso be unreliable. It is
      funny to discover that the global trend influencesour
      own business too. Or, at least, so they make us
      believe. Our clients willcome around at times to tell
      us that they cannot buy at a particular pricebecause
      dollar has fallen in the international market. For
      God's sakewhat has that got to do with our business?
      For instance, let's say itcosts me about ten naira to
      procure certain materials and somebody now turnaround
      to offer eleven naira under the guise of an
      unfavourable exchange rate.This, I consider the height
      of injustice." Moses supported his view with
      anexplanation of the internal workings of the
      business. According to him, thereare two business
      options. The first is to be a scavenger, scouting
      round foruseful items, or to buy scavenged items off
      other scavengers. One could howevercombine the two. He
      said that the third option would be very demanding
      bothphysically and financially. "This job is not
      stable. A goodbusiness day may bring in as much as
      N500, while a bad one may bring nothing atall. There
      are times we sell below the cost price. We pass the
      night here usingtorch to pick things from fresh
      deposits from the vehicles of the Lagos StateWaste
      Management (LAWMA). But this too is unreliable as no
      one is too sure whensuch vehicles would arrive", he
      explained. There are rules, or if you like
      ethicsguiding business in this environment. First is
      the existence of a body calledOlusosun Scavengers
      Association. Authority Membership is compulsory for
      allscavengers operating in the pit. The leader is
      Erico. He is also called king ofboys. As the lord of
      the manor, he bestrides the place with an aura of
      aleader. With the support ofothers, his words carry
      authority. Like in other slums, the rules,
      thoughseldom written, are known by all as potent. For
      instance, it is a rule that allmen should scout for
      materials that are demanding both in terms of
      physicalexertion and time. These include such items as
      aluminium, plastic, paper,rubber, shoes, metals and so
      on. On their own women are to go after nylonbasically
      because it is considered to be light and more
      profitable. The onlyexception to the rule is that men
      staying back could pick nylon at night. "Aluminium
      attracts the highestvalue, it is the most sought after
      item. A kilogramme attracts N50,particularly when it
      is very strong. Otherwise, it can attract around N20
      perkilogramme if it consists of empty beverage or beer
      cans considered light. Nextin ranking is the rubber
      strap of the common bathroom slippers, which sells
      forN15 per kilogramme. Shoe sole goes for N10 per
      kilogramme", Ajideexplained. With a take-off capital
      of N50,000, a person can make a goodstart in the
      business. Ozuruigbo however cautioned that the terrain
      may not betoo promising. The business he said is too
      fraught with problems. According tohim, the scavengers
      are always at the mercy of the middlemen who exploit
      therelationship they have with them to buy at cheaper
      prices. "We are just tools in the handsof people
      coming to buy. Since wedon't deal directly with the
      end users, we are not in a position todictate the
      price. Apart from this, we do not have a monopoly of
      the market.Also, the market is not in anyway
      regulated. There are no rules guiding demandand
      supply. "Sorting of refuse at source haspotential of
      long term benefits to the society. But it will
      eventuallyeliminate scavengers from their line of
      business. This is because, the momentpeople generating
      waste at source are aware that they too can make a
      littleprofit from it, they will not throw it away
      again. And once that happens, wewill be out of
      business", he said. Already, many of the scavengers
      areventuring into related businesses to cushion the
      effect of the declining profitfrom scavenging. One of
      such is working as a casual with any of the
      privatesector participants in waste management who
      come occasionally to recruit handsto work for them on
      a daily basis. Others too are going into
      businessesthat are not in anyway related. One such
      person is Patrick John. He is both ascavenger and a
      photographer. "I depend on my camera to augment
      myearnings on the waste business. I do not have any
      stringent price attached tomy works. At times, I just
      collect whatever my colleagues offer. He has twodogs
      to ward off unwanted visitors from his own portion of
      the landfill site. Oblivious of the health
      implications ofthe unhygienic environment, the
      scavengers believe that their presentexperience will
      not last forever. To them, it is just a passing
      phase.Ironically, many of them may ignorantly be
      gradually dying. Ozuruigbo does not belong to
      thiscategory, though his knowledge of the grave danger
      that the environmentconstitutes is limited. He said
      most occupants are victims of asthma and
      bodyirritation. While he could not proffer solution to
      asthma, he suggested thatbody irritation can easily be
      conquered by paying attention to personalhygiene. He
      also said that most of the potential health problems
      can beovercome if scavengers use hand gloves and nose
      guard. But the Minister of Environment, AlhajiMohammed
      Kabir Sa'id, while speaking on the hazardous nature of
      wastes,said its stocks represent a "serious threat to
      the environment and tohuman health, and therefore
      deserve special attention and priorityactions". The
      streams of hazardous waste generated in Nigeria, he
      said,include unwanted/expired pesticides, unwanted
      stocks of PCBs, used oils,hospital wastes, chemical
      wastes, battery wastes and used tyres, among others.
      Hazardouswastes, Mr. Mbaya Kankwenda, the Resident
      Representative and United NationsResident Coordinator
      in Nigeria, argued "constitutes a major risk
      tohumanity and sustainable development. This is
      because they are toxic, poisonous, explosive,
      corrosive,flammable, eco-toxic, or infectious.
      Exposure to chemical agents and hazardouswastes in the
      environment, have been identified as causes of
      numerous ailmentsafflicting humans. These range from
      cancer to birth defects. Heavy metals andpersistent
      organic pollutants are the main culprits. Exposure to
      heavy metalshas been linked with developmental
      retardation, various kinds of cancers andkidney
      damage."

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

      Nigerian women battle barriers in elite sports

      By Ugo Okeke

      Daily Independent
      Nigerian women, highly regarded for their hard work
      and stead fastness even under grueling conditions are
      gradually carving a niche for themselves in sports
      generally regarded as the exclusive preserve of the
      men folk. They are breaking barriers and winning
      laurels for the country where their male counterparts
      have failed, although often neglected by the
      authorities. And inspite of trying problems ranging
      from gender discrimination to sexual assaults, they
      have refused to give up and their patience over the
      years is gradually yielding results. Prior to the
      commencement of organized female football league in
      the country, female players were seen as tom boys
      dreaming of the impossible. To their peers, their
      chances of getting suitors were slim. The success of
      the Super Falcons and the financial reward that
      accrued to the players have since, changed the
      perception of people towards female footballers. The
      female national football team in itsshort period of
      existence has won the female Nations Cup twice,
      qualified forthe last Sydney Olympics and is on the
      verge of qualifying for the first FIFAU-19 world cup.
      While the handlers of the male national teamare
      getting grey hairs over their inability to find young
      talents to replace ageingplayers, their female
      counterparts are less worried as they have a rich
      reserveof talents to choose from. The Nigerian girls
      have not only succeededin writing the country's name
      in gold, they have also succeeded inbuilding a career
      for themselves in the game of football. Mercy Akide
      made history early last yearwhen she became the first
      African to play in the newly established
      Americanfemale football league christenedWUSA. Akide
      and Super Falcons skipper, FlorenceOmagbemi hold the
      honour as theonly Africans playing in the highly
      competitive WUSA League. Nigeria also stands out as
      the Africancountry with the highest number of female
      professionals scattered across theglobe. Super Falcons
      sensation, Mercy Akide whoemerged the highest goal
      scorer in the last two editions of the female
      nationscup scored another first when she became the
      first woman in the continent towin the prestigious
      African Female Footballer of the Year award. GOLF
      Golf, which many see as an elitist game haswitnessed
      an influx of lady golfers in the last couple of years.
      The formation of the Nigerian Ladies GolfUnion, an
      umbrella body for lady golfers has become a rallying
      point for ladieswho are bent on building a career for
      themselves. The ladies, having watched from
      thesidelines for decades have taken the bull by the
      horn, sourcing for funds toorganise championships
      which in the past was non- existent. Celina James who
      successfully defended her title at the Nigeria Ladies
      Golf Union Championshipposting an impressive 251 gross
      over 54 holes is poised to take female golfhigher, the
      21-year'-old is keen on joining the professional
      ranks. She will soon becompeting against the best
      female golfers in the world if her plan of
      attendingthe qualifying school materialises. CHESS
      Although, thegame of chess is not wellappreciated in
      this part of the globe, Nigerian ladies have succeeded
      inattracting the attention of the International Chess
      Federation ( FIDE). Pauline Glewis,the national female
      champion is ranked 2042 by FIDE, she got the ranking
      afteran impressive performance at the Elista Olympiad
      held in Kalmyl Republic in1998. Another Nigerian,Alabi
      Omolola is also ranked by the intenational chess body,
      she is ranked 2050in the world. While praisingthe
      efforts of the players, the national coach, Fola
      Akintola however said that there is still roomfor
      improvement. "Theirfuture is bright, they have an eye
      for tactics but their opening is bad. Theyonly start
      struggling after opening poorly. "I am goingto work on
      their openings, if they can correct the errors, then
      the sky is thelimit for them" he said. SWIMMING
      Ikaghomi Joshua,the national record holder in the 50
      metre and 100 metre free stylerespectively has proved
      that with better facilities and improved
      incentives,Nigerian female swimmers are capable of
      turning around the fortunes of thesport. Both records
      setby the 26 -year -old Bayelsa State indigene ten
      years ago has remainedunbroken, one decade after they
      were set. Her record of 27:41 seconds in the 50 metres
      free style and 1minute: 072 seconds in the 100metres
      ranks among the best in the country, unfortunately,
      the lady who holdsthat record is wasting away in
      Bayelsa due to the dearth of competitions on thelocal
      scene. The likes ofFigbele Regina and upcoming
      NgoziMonu, in spite of their immense talents have been
      abandoned by those saddledwith the responsibility of
      discovering and developing young talents who
      seenothing good in other sports except football. These
      female swimmers like othersports women in the country
      face a tough task as they struggle to achievesuccess
      in their chosen fields in a country where gender
      doesn't swingthe pendulum in decision making
      -----------------------

      Violence mars Nigeria's image abroad, says envoy

      By Sola Balogun
      Daily Independent
      Except Nigerians love one another and allow peace to
      reign in their communities, the spate of violence in
      the country would further dent its image in the comity
      of nations and thereby chase away foreign investors.
      Mr. Etim Okpoyo, Nigeria's ambassador to Italy made
      this observation recently in Milan shortly after
      presiding over the 2001 edition of the Nigeria Fashion
      Show (NFS) held in the Italian city.
      The ambassador noted with regret the various killings
      occasioned by ethnic and political conflicts in some
      parts of the country and reasoned that, no sane
      foreigner would want to trade or establish his
      business in a turbulent environment. "We should blame
      ourselves for all the religious and political violence
      at home. Each time there are killings or disturbances,
      the negative effect on the country's image abroad
      deepen sand this scares away those who could help us
      industrialise our country,'' explained the envoy who
      recalled how the Nigerian Embassy in Italy has been
      making friends with potential investors but that "Each
      time there's violence at home, Europeans always wonder
      whether or not our country is safe for their
      business�so let us go home and clean ourselves, allow
      peace to reign so that we would be able to attract
      medium and small scale investors to our dear country''
      According to Okpoyo," The world is now a global
      village, whatever you do in a small village in
      Nigeria, the whole world hear sit and the negative
      effect outside the country becomes worrisome''

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

      West African culture festival moves to Asaba

      By Agatha Edo
      Daily Independent
      Government at all tiers have been urged to develop and
      encourage the tourism potentials of the country as
      being done in other African countries. At a press
      briefing in Asaba, Delta state,the Ide Ahaba, Chief
      Sonny Odogwu stressed the need to promote the vast
      cultural and tourism potentials of this country for a
      diversification of there venue base of tourism.
      Explaining the advantages of the ECOWAS Cultural
      Tourism Designers Festival (Ecofest) coming up in the
      state from, January 21 to 26, Odogwu said culture was
      a viable way to market the potentials of " our
      country, which has in the last couple of years
      received severe bashing. With the first ladies of
      several ECOWAS countries and international models and
      designers coming to the oil and culture rich Asaba for
      one week, the country will benefit positively from the
      good publicity that is bound to accompany it," he
      said. He equally urged more government encouragement
      for private sector participation in the development of
      the hospitality industry. Stating that the private
      sector can never be satisfied with the involvement of
      government participation in the hospitality industry"
      because often than not the financial commitment of
      government to the private sector is miserable," he
      however pleaded with the present government to
      encourage the private sector to invest in the industry
      as is done in countries like Mali and Kenya where the
      industry contributes a major percentage to their
      incomes. The festival that will parade mainly top
      designers from ECOWAS countries will also feature
      indigenous African hair styles. According to the
      representative of Fashion Designers Association of
      Nigeria (FADAN), Frank Osodi, the festival that has
      the President's wife, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo as its
      grand patron will see African culture at its best."
      The event is packaged in such a way to project our
      cultural and tourism potentials," he said.
      This experience will hold at Grand Hotel, Asaba where
      a regatta is also expected to hold on the River Niger.


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


      Nigerians in unusual business

      By Sylvester Tunde Atere
      Daily Independent
      The approach to the shack was rough and dangerous, not
      only because of sharp objects lying around. It was
      also a lonely path hardly used by anybody. It is
      located at the tip of what appears to be a cliff, and
      arguably one of the highest spots at the sprawling
      Olusosun landfill site, Ojota, Lagos. Coded messages
      had passed round as we approached the makeshift
      structure, home of the 26-year old Daniel Raymond, a
      leading scavenger. His articles of trade ranging from
      disused electric appliances likeradios, fans and
      cables littered the frontage of the makeshift wooden
      structurewrapped massively with transluscient nylon
      sheets of different shades and colours. Time was
      around noon, the first day ofJanuary, 2002. Apart from
      the stench oozing from all directions as the hot
      windblows, the atmosphere was quite serene. The
      situation here was quite differentfrom the wild
      gyrations and noisy firework of the metropolis called
      Lagos.Thick and offensive smoke was billowing, from a
      major tip section in the refusedump complex. We were
      met few metres to the structureby a young man who
      after scrutinizing us inquired of our mission. "Whyare
      you here? And what can we do for you?" Interrogation
      session gone,the door flips half open quietly
      revealing a frying pan containing pieces ofmeat
      supported by empty tins of beverage. In-between the
      tripod stand werewoods and other objects that could
      generate energy. Called 'Garrus' by closeassociates,
      Daniel emerged from his shack looking rather haggard
      anddehydrated. He scratched his head and coughed
      reassuringly. He apologized forwhat he called a
      'rough' encounter, saying visitors' identity must be
      known forsecurity purposes. "Most of the time, members
      of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) do come
      around to ask us questions. So, we do notcompromise
      our security. And by the way, we do not allow
      strangers to wanderabout here. Every man keeps to
      himself. It is a way of life here. I am talkingto you
      now because today is special. "My name is Daniel
      Raymond, alsoknown as Garrus. I have been here for
      about ten years now. I was a picker orwhat people
      called scavenger for about five years before I decided
      to be on myown. I have come a long way. I learnt this
      trade and acquired the skill. It isa good business for
      those that are strong. An outsider cannot survive
      thisterrain. "But for poverty, nobody wouldcome here.
      This however, is not to say that the business does not
      have itsbenefits. People from differentwalks of life,
      particularly, Lebanese do come here to patronize us;
      not mindingthe unfriendly physical environment", he
      said. His countenance suddenly changed,pleading, "You
      may have to go now. No more questioning." Although,
      Daniel confessed not beingtoo educated, but boasted
      that he was a thorough professional in the business. A
      little down the land fill area whichcovers about
      thirty hectares of land is a sprawling settlement.
      Heaps of itemsspanning used shoes, rubber slippers,
      plastic chairs, empty bottles, cans ofbeer and soft
      drinks were all neatly arranged in sacks. Moses Ajide,
      like akeeper of a derelict home squatted on an empty
      tin, wearing an amiable mien. Looking sober, and with
      misty eyes henarrated the story of his life. "I came
      into this business about sixmonths ago. I was
      introduced by my elder sister who hawks pure water
      aroundhere. It was a hard decision I had to take to
      survive and be able to face thechallenges in the years
      ahead. My dream was halted by the devastating death
      ofmy mother in 1995. Although I graduated from
      Community Grammar School, Elewura,Challenge, Ibadan,
      Oyo State in 1996, a year after her death, the journey
      hasbeen very rough. He said he got into the
      scavengingtrade to raise money and go back to school.
      "My father is old and too weak tosupport me
      financially. I have four credits from the previous
      examination and Iam now trying to raise enough money
      to take the General Certificate Examinationso that I
      can make up my certificate and gain admission into
      KwaraPolytechnic". He shares the same dream with
      hislandlord and roommate, Jerry Ozuruigbo, who is
      already on his way out of thescavenging business by
      the end of January if his ambition to pursue a
      lawdegree programme at the University of Calabar
      materialises. Jerry too has his own story to tell.His
      problem has to do with rebellion. He opposed his
      parents on the choice ofcareer to pursue. He
      thereafter lost their financial support. "I have a
      Diploma in Law from theUniversity of Jos; even though
      my initial ambition was to pursue a careereither in
      Theatre Arts or Linguistics. But my parents would not
      want any ofsuch. They have their own idea of what
      constitutes a good career. This led to afundamental
      disagreement. I then decided to fend for myself. Now,
      I have to goback to get fulfilled and prove to my
      parents who are not even aware of what Iam doing now
      that I am not a failure." The business terrain, he
      said, isfraught with risk. "Business could be good
      when one is lucky. It couldalso be unreliable. It is
      funny to discover that the global trend influencesour
      own business too. Or, at least, so they make us
      believe. Our clients willcome around at times to tell
      us that they cannot buy at a particular pricebecause
      dollar has fallen in the international market. For
      God's sakewhat has that got to do with our business?
      For instance, let's say itcosts me about ten naira to
      procure certain materials and somebody now turnaround
      to offer eleven naira under the guise of an
      unfavourable exchange rate.This, I consider the height
      of injustice." Moses supported his view with
      anexplanation of the internal workings of the
      business. According to him, thereare two business
      options. The first is to be a scavenger, scouting
      round foruseful items, or to buy scavenged items off
      other scavengers. One could howevercombine the two. He
      said that the third option would be very demanding
      bothphysically and financially. "This job is not
      stable. A goodbusiness day may bring in as much as
      N500, while a bad one may bring nothing atall. There
      are times we sell below the cost price. We pass the
      night here usingtorch to pick things from fresh
      deposits from the vehicles of the Lagos StateWaste
      Management (LAWMA). But this too is unreliable as no
      one is too sure whensuch vehicles would arrive", he
      explained. There are rules, or if you like
      ethicsguiding business in this environment. First is
      the existence of a body calledOlusosun Scavengers
      Association. Authority Membership is compulsory for
      allscavengers operating in the pit. The leader is
      Erico. He is also called king ofboys. As the lord of
      the manor, he bestrides the place with an aura of
      aleader. With the support ofothers, his words carry
      authority. Like in other slums, the rules,
      thoughseldom written, are known by all as potent. For
      instance, it is a rule that allmen should scout for
      materials that are demanding both in terms of
      physicalexertion and time. These include such items as
      aluminium, plastic, paper,rubber, shoes, metals and so
      on. On their own women are to go after nylonbasically
      because it is considered to be light and more
      profitable. The onlyexception to the rule is that men
      staying back could pick nylon at night. "Aluminium
      attracts the highestvalue, it is the most sought after
      item. A kilogramme attracts N50,particularly when it
      is very strong. Otherwise, it can attract around N20
      perkilogramme if it consists of empty beverage or beer
      cans considered light. Nextin ranking is the rubber
      strap of the common bathroom slippers, which sells
      forN15 per kilogramme. Shoe sole goes for N10 per
      kilogramme", Ajideexplained. With a take-off capital
      of N50,000, a person can make a goodstart in the
      business. Ozuruigbo however cautioned that the terrain
      may not betoo promising. The business he said is too
      fraught with problems. According tohim, the scavengers
      are always at the mercy of the middlemen who exploit
      therelationship they have with them to buy at cheaper
      prices. "We are just tools in the handsof people
      coming to buy. Since wedon't deal directly with the
      end users, we are not in a position todictate the
      price. Apart from this, we do not have a monopoly of
      the market.Also, the market is not in anyway
      regulated. There are no rules guiding demandand
      supply. "Sorting of refuse at source haspotential of
      long term benefits to the society. But it will
      eventuallyeliminate scavengers from their line of
      business. This is because, the momentpeople generating
      waste at source are aware that they too can make a
      littleprofit from it, they will not throw it away
      again. And once that happens, wewill be out of
      business", he said. Already, many of the scavengers
      areventuring into related businesses to cushion the
      effect of the declining profitfrom scavenging. One of
      such is working as a casual with any of the
      privatesector participants in waste management who
      come occasionally to recruit handsto work for them on
      a daily basis. Others too are going into
      businessesthat are not in anyway related. One such
      person is Patrick John. He is both ascavenger and a
      photographer. "I depend on my camera to augment
      myearnings on the waste business. I do not have any
      stringent price attached tomy works. At times, I just
      collect whatever my colleagues offer. He has twodogs
      to ward off unwanted visitors from his own portion of
      the landfill site. Oblivious of the health
      implications ofthe unhygienic environment, the
      scavengers believe that their presentexperience will
      not last forever. To them, it is just a passing
      phase.Ironically, many of them may ignorantly be
      gradually dying. Ozuruigbo does not belong to
      thiscategory, though his knowledge of the grave danger
      that the environmentconstitutes is limited. He said
      most occupants are victims of asthma and
      bodyirritation. While he could not proffer solution to
      asthma, he suggested thatbody irritation can easily be
      conquered by paying attention to personalhygiene. He
      also said that most of the potential health problems
      can beovercome if scavengers use hand gloves and nose
      guard. But the Minister of Environment, AlhajiMohammed
      Kabir Sa'id, while speaking on the hazardous nature of
      wastes,said its stocks represent a "serious threat to
      the environment and tohuman health, and therefore
      deserve special attention and priorityactions". The
      streams of hazardous waste generated in Nigeria, he
      said,include unwanted/expired pesticides, unwanted
      stocks of PCBs, used oils,hospital wastes, chemical
      wastes, battery wastes and used tyres, among others.
      Hazardouswastes, Mr. Mbaya Kankwenda, the Resident
      Representative and United NationsResident Coordinator
      in Nigeria, argued "constitutes a major risk
      tohumanity and sustainable development. This is
      because they are toxic, poisonous, explosive,
      corrosive,flammable, eco-toxic, or infectious.
      Exposure to chemical agents and hazardouswastes in the
      environment, have been identified as causes of
      numerous ailmentsafflicting humans. These range from
      cancer to birth defects. Heavy metals andpersistent
      organic pollutants are the main culprits. Exposure to
      heavy metalshas been linked with developmental
      retardation, various kinds of cancers andkidney
      damage."

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


      Eleme gas sparks crossfireAs officials trade counter
      accusations over collapse

      By Akanimo Sampson
      Daily Independent
      The Eleme gas turbine project in Rivers State, which
      President Olusegun Obasanjo commissioned last May 28,
      is now moribund, Daily Independent can authoritatively
      confirm. The Independent Power Project (IPP)
      reportedly collapsed a few days after the president
      commissioned it. Seven months after the collapse, the
      state's Commissioner for Power, Mr. Reginald Wilcox,
      has disclosed that, "the gas turbine is second hand
      and as such fairly used". He also revealed that the
      gas turbine was not designed for the Nigerian
      environment. According to Wilcox, the gas turbine was
      handed over to the Rivers State Government by the
      defunct Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development
      Commission (OMPADEC). Investigations however indicate
      that the last May commissioning ceremony by Obasanjo
      marks the second time the sameturbine would be
      commissioned by the country's rulers. The late Head
      ofState, General Sani Abacha, had first commissioned
      it in 1996. Although, the commissioner claimed thatthe
      gas turbine was not manufactured originally for the
      defunct OMPADEC,findings however point to the
      contrary. According to Wilcox, specifications forthe
      Eleme gas turbine was for a "different climate and
      environment." The President and Chief ExecutiveOfficer
      of Stewart and Stevenson Energy Products, (an American
      company based inHouston, Texas, suppliers of the gas
      turbine) Mr. Rick Stewart, in a reaction,says the
      Rivers State Commissioner may afterall not be saying
      the truth. Stewart insists that the turbine was anew
      one, noting that "the engine was packaged in our Works
      Order No.260252, and sold to Desalm Engineering, a
      Nigerian company". He added that the turbine was
      shippedfrom Houston, Texas to Port Harcourt, the
      Rivers State capital on October 25,1993. Meanwhile,
      Speaker of the State Houseof Assembly, Mr. Chibuike
      Amaechi, has added a new twist to the controversy,
      ashe also claimed that the gas turbine was functioning
      but that "theproblem was with power distribution".
      Amaechi, said Rivers State was usingthe existing
      distribution network of the National Electric Power
      Authority(NEPA). On a visit to NEPA office, a
      seniorofficial however said, "We don't want to be
      drawn into therow". The United States Energy
      InformationAdministration (EIA) in its April 2001
      report on independent power projects in Nigeria noted
      that theEleme gas turbine went moribund because of
      lack of fuel supply into the pipeline. Before the last
      commissioning exercise,Rivers State Government had
      announced that it spent N944 million onrefurbishing
      the controversial gas turbine, and that the Federal
      Governmentprovided N300 million for gas pipeline
      installations. Governor Peter Odili however maintains
      that his administration's independent power project is
      on course.

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

      NITEL unveils new carrier licence

      By Jonah Iboma
      Daily Independent
      The Nigerian Communications Commission,(NCC), has
      completed work on the document for the carrier license
      of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, (NITEL), and
      other operators of the soon to be licensed Fixed
      Wireless Access, (FWA) service. According to the
      document granted by NCC to NITEL under Section 12 of
      Act No. 75 of 1992, signed by the Executive Vice
      Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Ernest Ndukwe, NITEL's
      License isfor a period of twenty years. The document
      also states that NITEL is "to provide and operate
      public switched telecommunications network employing
      cable, radio or satellite and carrier services". The
      completion and publishing of the National Carrier
      licenseis timely as the company was recently sold and
      government is expected to handover its management in
      February to private hands-- Investors
      International(London) Limited, (IILL), who emerged as
      the preferred bidder in November 2001. The document
      further clearly spells outNITEL's responsibilities as
      the nation's only national carrier,which as such,
      needs to provide adequate backbone for other operators
      in thenow deregulated telecom sector and ensure that
      its services extend to all partsof the country without
      undue favour to any location. Provision of
      ruraltelephony is also a major responsibility of the
      national carrier, as well asprovision of public
      payphones. Preparation of the license document issaid
      to be in line with the Minister of Communications
      statement on reforms inthe telecommunications sector
      where he had stated that, "in order toensure effective
      privatisation of NITEL, �the National Council
      onPrivatisation, (NCP), constituted the Telecoms
      Sector Reform ImplementationCommittee (TSRIC) which
      adopted a four-phased sequential reform
      processentailing: o formulation of a new sectorpolicy;
      o design of an appropriate legal& regulatory
      framework; o restructuring &liberalisation of the
      sector; and o privatisation of NITEL andM-TEL." The
      drafting of an appropriateregulatory framework that
      would enable the telecommunications industry tofulfil
      the objectives of the policy and respond positively to
      future trends andchanges is the second step in the
      phased programme of restructuring of thesector'. The
      Minister of Communications, Dr.Bello Haliru Mohammed
      had, during the opening of bids for NITEL's
      newinvestor, said that "in October 2000, the National
      Council onPrivatisation, (NCP), appointed a consortium
      of international and Nigerianlegal and regulatory
      consultants comprising Boaz Allen & Hamilton;
      CliffordChance; Udo Udoma & Bello-Osagie and Afri
      Projects to; o review and comment on existinglaws and
      regulations; o prepare a new legal frameworkfor the
      sector; o provide support to NCC inconnection with
      drafting certain categories of licenses; and o prepare
      appropriate subsidiarylegislation and regulatory
      instruments for the most significant aspects of thenew
      law" As a result of the work of theconsultants,
      licence documents for NITEL and other operators of
      fixed andmobile telecom services have been produced.
      Other documents the consultantsworked on include the
      draft telecom bill and the draft NCC regulation.
      Thetelecom bill has now been approved by the Federal
      Executive Council andforwarded to the National
      Assembly for enactment into law. Mean while, NCC has
      immediately commenced work on the licensing of the
      second national operator. The information memorandum
      is to be published any moment from now, and interested
      bidders expected to send in their bids immediately.
      The licensing of the second national operator,
      expectedly, is to commence by next month.

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

      23 agents lose licences for malpractices

      By Walter Ukaegbu
      Daily Independent
      Nigeria Customs Service may havewielded the big stick
      last week, when it ordered the immediate revocation
      ofthe licences of 23 customs agents scattered across
      the country. The revocation, which is part of
      itsprovision under the Customs and Excise Management
      Act (CEMA), is believed to bein line with its
      functions, which has not been applied in recent times.
      In a statement made available to DailyIndependent from
      the Licenceand Permits Division, of the Tariff and
      Trade Department, Customs headquarters,Wuse, Abuja,
      the agents were allegedly involved in fraudulent
      activities at theTin Can Island Port, Apapa, Lagos.
      According to the statement withreference number
      NCS/CUS/020/S.5/Vol. III titled, "Revocation of
      CustomsAgents Licences" and copied to all zonal
      co-ordinators, Customs AreaComptrollers and the public
      relations officer (PRO) the customs directed
      thatofficers should not allow any of the affected
      agencies to operate in their areacommands, ports or
      stations.
      The letter dated October 2001, statedthus: "I am
      directed to convey the immediate revocation of
      theunderlisted customs agents licences. The agencies
      were allegedly involved infraudulent activities at Tin
      Can Island Port. "The revocation order is in linewith
      the provision of CEMA CAP. 84 Law of the Federal
      Republic of Nigeria 1990Section 156, sub-section 5(2).
      Under no circumstance should you allow any ofthem to
      operate in your area commands, ports or stations."
      The alleged erring agencies are:Satellite Cargo
      Services Limited, Kaduna; Jidson Nigeria Limited,
      Mushin,Lagos; Algaidog Nigeria Agency Limited, Lagos;
      Atlantic Link (West Africa)Limited, Kaduna and Bile
      Trade Nigeria Limited, Ketu, Lagos.
      Others are: Rotinson Computer VenturesNigeria Limited,
      Shomolu, Lagos; Cedarline Maritime Nigeria Services
      Limited,Oroyinyin Street, Lagos; Mosolu Nigeria
      Limited, Apapa, Lagos; Vitas NigeriaLimited, Ketu,
      Lagos; Mbatas H/Pack Storage and Transport Limited;
      Ogao NigeriaCompany Limited, Lagos and Oyeyinka
      Igbalajobi and Company Limited, Shogunle,Lagos.
      It also includes: Orjco NigeriaLimited, Oregun, Lagos;
      Mudkaz Company Limited, Surulere, Lagos; Onwozor
      TrustLink Limited, Apapa, Lagos; Dallamsons Limited,
      Tinubu, Lagos; Wsajos VenturesNigeria Limited, Ipaja,
      Lagos; and Citymark Carriers Nigeria Limited,
      Mafoluku,Lagos.
      Others whose licences were equallyrevoked are: United
      Marketing Company Nigeria Limited, Ikeja, Lagos; Aga
      ChrisInvestment Limited, Apapa, Lagos; Euro Global
      International Agency Limited, Lagos; Omoba Ventures
      Limited, Apapa, Lagos and Sun Paul Sidney
      (oppositeNigerdock at Tin Can Island) Port, Apapa,
      Lagos. The Service also directed its officersinvolved
      in the processes of cargo clearance and release to
      ensure strictenforcement of the ban.
      The agencies were allegedly involvedin malpractices
      ranging from forgery of bank and Customs receipts, use
      of fakedocuments also known as "machine outside" to
      make under-declarationof goods, under valuation of
      goods among others.

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


      Applause heralds digital libraries for varsities

      By Emma Okonji
      Daily Independent
      Following Federal Government's final approval for the
      take-off of digital libraries in nine federal
      universities in the first phase of a National
      Libraries computerization project, many university
      students and lecturers have lauded Federal
      Government's initiative, describing it as a bold step
      in the right direction.
      Students from the state owned universities have,
      however, received the report with mixed feelings,
      saying, "we will want our universities tobe part of
      the computerization project."
      Niyi Oduyemi, a 200 level accounting student ofLagos
      State University (LASU), told Daily Independent that,
      "I was particularly happy because of the importance
      ofdigital library, but became surprised when the
      Minister for Information andNational Orientation,
      Prof. Jerry Gana, announced that the Federal
      Governmenthas given approval of the digital libraries
      for only nine federal universitiesin the first phase
      of the project."
      Another student, Kola Otukowora, a 200level bankingand
      finance student of Lagos State University also wished
      "my universityis included in the first phase of the
      project because of the importance ofdigital libraries
      in universities," adding, "It would have affordedus
      access to expensive books from other university
      libraries, especially, thosebooks, which we do not
      have."
      In the same vein, Mr. Esegbue Peters, a lecturerwith
      the Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Olabisi
      Onabanjo University,formerly known as Ogun State
      University Ago-Iwoye, praised the government
      initiative. He spoke on the need for universities to
      become InformationTechnology (IT) compliant,
      explaining that it would go a long way in helpingboth
      students and lecturers to read more books by simply
      browsing the internet.
      Esegbue then called on the Federal Government
      toexpedite action so as to extend the project to other
      universities. ThePhysiology lecturer implored state
      governments to do same for stateuniversities. This
      according to him, is to enable undergraduates of the
      state universities tobenefit from the advancement in
      technology before they graduate. Last year, President
      Olusegun Obasanjo hadreiterated government's plan to
      introduce digital libraries into Nigerianuniversities,
      using Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
      The plan came to limelight recently when Prof.
      JerryGana, the Minister for Information and National
      Orientation listed theuniversities that the project
      would take off from at the end of a FederalExecutive
      Council meeting held last week in Abuja.
      According to the minister, nine federal
      universitieswill benefit from the first phase of the
      project. "At the successful end of the first phase,
      otheruniversities shall benefit from the second
      phase," Gana had said.
      The universities are: University of Ibadan, University
      of Lagos, University of Nigeria Nsukka, University of
      Jos, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Federal
      University of Technology Minna, Ahmadu Bello
      University Zaria, University of Benin and University
      of Port-Hacourt.

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


      Computer professionals recommend IT for financial
      deals

      By Emma Okonji
      Daily Independent
      Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria
      (CPN) has recommended the use of Information
      Technology as abetter means for all financial
      transactions, especially in government establishments.
      This recommendation was made at a public hearing held
      at the old National Assembly complex in Lagos, where
      CPN indentified poor record keeping as being the root
      cause of delayed payment of salaries, allowances,
      pensions and the recurring incidence of ghost workers
      in the federal and state civil service. According to
      Mr. Ojinta Oji-Alala, "with computers and specially
      developed software programs, the use of information
      technology will help to ease problems associated with
      the paymentof salaries and pensions, especially as it
      affects retired workers." In a related development,
      softwaredevelopers have developed the software called
      "Human Manager". Itis said to be an integrated human
      resource management solution software thatmanages
      everything about employees from recruitment to
      retirement, and it comesin three modules of human
      resource, payroll and pension. Oji Alala further
      explained theadvantages of using Information
      Technology in financial transactions. One ofthe
      advantages he observed is "the elimination of painful
      delay that hasfor long characterized the Federal Civil
      Service payroll, personnel andpensions operations.
      "Blocking loopholes from where national wealth of
      greatproportions had been endlessly siphoned, and a
      structured and easily accessiblepayroll and pension
      records," were identified as some of the advantagesof
      the use of Information Technology. Others include, "
      the timelypayment of salaries and pensions at
      different locations concurrently, either incash or in
      cheques, as well as the ability to achieve effective
      nationalplanning through budgeting and making advance
      provisions for eligibleretirees." In view of this,
      government at alllevels were challenged to take the
      CPN recommendation seriously, " ifthey truly want the
      problem of delayed salaries to be a thing of thepast."
      Itwould be recalled that during the last yuletide
      season, the Federal Governmentannounced that military
      pensioners would not receive their pensions in
      Decemberas a result of delay in payroll processing. It
      further stated that affectedpensioners should not
      bother going to their designated banks, as the monies
      were yet to be paid into the banks.

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

      Bureau de change operators panic
      As CBN compiles list of eligible operators

      By Austeen Iwelu
      Daily Independent
      Bureau de change operators in the financial sector
      have their heats in their mouth as they await Central
      Bank ofNigeria's list if firms eligible to participate
      in the official sales of personal and basic travellers
      allowancesas announced by the regulatory authority a
      few weeks ago Last December, the Central Bank had
      directed that bureau de change operators and Thomas
      Cook should be involved in the official sourcing of
      foreign exchange requirements. According to the
      monetary guide lines for year 2002/2003, the decision
      is in line with CBN's intention to liberalise the
      foreign exchange market.This further deregulation will
      enhance public access to foreign exchange and minimise
      speculative arbitrage. "All licensed Bureau de
      changeare, therefore, enjoined to continue to adhere
      strictly to all existing andrevised guidelines on
      their operations in 2002, to facilitate the
      achievementsof desired objectives, ''the guidelines
      stated. As part of preparations to equip themarket
      operators, a workshop was organised late last year.
      The idea of theworkshop, Daily Independent gatheredwas
      to sensitive and orientate participants on how to
      handle such foreignexchange transactions The lack of
      knowledge amongst bureaude change operators on how to
      handle travellers cheque transaction, a financeexpert,
      Sam Okoh, argued, may turn out to be one of the
      greatest set backs ofthe noble idea; querying
      rhetorically, he asked, "How can CBN allow thewhole
      lot of bureau de change operators to participate?"
      Manager of Majoe Bureau de Change Ltd, Festus Asemota
      saysthe decision to involve BDC's is commendable, but
      he readily expressedthe fear that improper monitoring
      and effective implementation of guidelinesmay mar the
      entire exercise as there are many unregistered members
      of BDC's participating in the market than required. In
      the same vein, Ola Ibraheem of Standard Bureau de
      Change agrees that it would be a good development if
      the entire applications arepainstainkingly
      scrutinized, saying, "We are registered with
      theCorporate Affairs Commission of the country, the
      best approach is for the apexbank to go and collate
      from the files of CAC'', he advised. Asource from the
      apex bank howeverconfirmed that the official list of
      operators to be trained as participants inthe
      Travellers Cheque Scheme is ready for final approval.

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

      Chevron allays fears of job loss over merger

      By Charles Okonji
      Daily Independent
      Managing Director of Chevron Texaco Nigeria
      Limited,Mr. Ray Wilcox, has allayed fears that the
      merger of Chevron Corporation andTexaco Incorporation
      on October 9, 2001, would lead to joblosses for staff
      of the two companies in Nigeria. Wilcox, in allaying
      the fears expressed by some staff of ChevronNigeria
      Limited (NCL) and Texaco Overseas Petroleum Company
      (TOPCON) over themerger, said "Therewill be no job
      loss for any Nigerian employee arising from the
      Chevron andTexaco merger. We cannot afford to lose
      anybody. We need all hands ondeck." The ChevronTexaco
      Managing Director, however,explained that every job
      would be looked at and evaluated which might lead
      tochange of titles, "butgrades will be protected."
      Wilcox explained that all Chevron and Texaco companies
      in Nigeria, Chevron NigeriaLimited, Chevron Oil
      Company of Nigeria Limited, Chevron Petroleum Company
      ofNigeria Limited, Texaco Overseas Petroleum Company
      (TOPCON) and Texaco NigeriaPlc, would continue to
      exist as separate companies. He said, "ChevronTexaco
      is the corporationname, but all other companies under
      the umbrella remain the same. No changesare being made
      or are proposed to be made." A Texaco company, Star
      Deep, Wilcox explained, is inpartnership with Famfa,
      an indigenous company. The company, according to
      him,is responsible for the discovery of a billion
      barrels oil reserve in Agbamifield in Oil Producing
      Lease (OPL) 216 Offshore and there is no plan to
      changethe title of the company and the agreement with
      the local firm. Wilcox also stated that the management
      ofChevronTexaco would try to harmonise the collective
      agreement with staff. Heurged the two unions to help
      achievethe company's objectives. He said, "Regarding
      the issues of employeeswelfare, I assure you that the
      company will always remain competitive in
      theindustry." In places where Chevron and Texaco
      currently haveoffices side by side, like Lagos and
      Warri, Wilcox said ChevronTexaco"will have one
      effective operation and where it is desirable to have
      oneoffice, it would be worked out." The structure and
      logo of Texaco Nigeria Plc, adownstream company, would
      remain intact, but TOPCON and other Chevron
      companiesin the upstream would use the same logo.
      "Logosare marketing tools, so we have to be careful
      not to tamper with what we already have," he said.

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

      DailyTimes declares N359.9m loss, embarkson
      restructuring

      By Adekunle Kasali
      Daily Independent
      Chairman of Daily Times Nigeria Plc, Dr. Yemi
      Farounbi, may have adifficult time persuading his
      company's shareholders to remain supportiveof its
      activities in view of losses suffered this financial
      year. The company declared a loss of N359.9million,
      the highest in three years, which is 82.3 per cent
      higher than theN197.4 million recorded last year. The
      loss was made on a turnover ofN160.7million, 4.9 per
      cent less than the previous year's N168.6million.The
      chairman, however, believes with the restructuring
      exercise embarked upon,the company's fortune will
      change for the better. Although authoritative sources
      havedisclosed that the board has been unable to
      persuade the core investors of theneed to continue to
      support the company, "The quest for continued
      supporthad fallen on deaf ears", said a source, given
      the fact that the boardhad been constituted since
      2000, and yet losses continue to grow. However, market
      operators have opinedthat, "Daily Times, asa company,
      was being run as a government parastatal but needed a
      new approachto survive". They maintain that it also
      needs an injection of freshcapital. Asked how easy it
      wouldbe for the company to raise the needed funds ,
      the terse response was"this is a tricky business, if
      the company has somebody who is interestedin having
      influence in the newspaper's business, it would be
      able toraise the needed extra capital. But where the
      company does not have any external party interested as
      apotential core investor, its past performance may
      militate against it". Daily Times' messy situation has
      been attributed to quite afew factors primary amongst
      whichhas been indentified as the unfavourable economic
      conditions in the country,which has to do with the
      contracted disposable income of the average Nigerian
      and increased cost of doing business inthe country.
      This view issupported by Dr. Farounbi. Although, the
      company's internal factors have also beenidentified.
      Quick mention isreadily made in this regard to its
      aged printing press and machinery, increasedprices of
      news prints and other printing materials which has
      resultant effecton the cost of production, but which
      has continued to push the company into losses and,
      generally, reducedworking capital, leading Daily Times
      into borrowing from local banks. Consequently, as in
      banking business, the result is amassive increase in
      interest and similar charges, which rose from N8.260
      million in 1997 to N33.868million in 2001. Equally
      important, though notmentioned, was the role of
      government in the survival of the company. Thepublic
      sees the company as a government mouthpiece, and as
      such may not have abalanced editorial content. The
      effect of this perception on the sales of thepaper has
      been a devastating loss, causing reduction of total
      turnover. The turnover that was N425.366 millionin
      1996 went down to N160.679 million in 2001. The
      current board as constituted by thegovernment, was to
      resuscitate the company that an analyst said is
      perceived tobe "practically dead" in the market.
      Sources close to the company'sboard say, the new board
      has taken urgent steps to restructure andre-organise
      the company. They saystaff strength had been reduced
      to the barest minimum to reduce cost, debts are being
      negotiated downwards with banks andtrade creditors,
      while others are being settled through bartered
      arrangement. Determined to take the company out
      ofdebts, and improve its performance level, the new
      board is to re-organise itsoperation and source for
      the injection of fresh funds. It also spoke of the
      need to rationalise the three business premisesto one.
      It had earlier moved both its Kakawa and Apapa
      operational bases to itsAgidingbi premises for
      effective management and operations. In addition,
      non-performing subsidiaries had been closed,
      whileunprofitable titles have been incorporated into
      the main daily editions to givemore value to the
      readers. "Daily Times is now fully computerized",
      revealedanother source closed to theboard, who also
      added that the directors have "blocked all avenues
      ofleakages and wastages". Tothis claim, market
      watchers, say the newspaper management may need more
      than this to move the companyinto profitability. On
      efforts to improve the company's sales record,the
      board says it has improved theeditorial contents and
      repackage the publications, which according to
      itschairman has increased confidence of readers and
      advertisers. Presently, the company is thinking
      ofraising its authorised share capital to N400million
      from N50 million through the creation of
      700millionordinary shares of 50 kobo each. NICON had
      earlier given the company a soft loan, leading
      thecompany's audited accounts of February 2001, to
      amount to N145million. To raise 700million ordinary
      shares, the board plans tocapital the loan given by
      NICON which owns a stake of 14.4million ordinaryshares
      in its operations, representing 60 per cent of the
      total paid-up shares of the company which was N12
      million before thedecision to increase share capital.
      This gives NICON 304.4 million ordinaryshares of 800
      mi<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
    • Nubi Achebo
      Saturday January 19, 2002 N.1b fraud rocks National Hospital By Tony Eluemunor and Dennis Mernyi Daily Independent Investigators and security operatives have
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 19, 2002
      • 0 Attachment
        Saturday January 19, 2002

        N.1b fraud rocks National Hospital

        By Tony Eluemunor and
        Dennis Mernyi

        Daily Independent
        Investigators and security operatives have descended
        on the prestigious National Hospital, Abuja, searching
        for clues into how over 100 million naira was stolen
        from the hospital. Though investigators are still in
        search of clues into the various scams, investigation
        into one of the cases allegedly involving the chief
        accountant, Mr. Bello, is almost completed. Bello, a
        pioneer staff of the hospital, freely gave out the
        clues that led to his being investigated and
        subsequently arrested. Early December last year, he
        went to an Abuja Pentecostal church and gave testimony
        of the "good things the good Lord had done for him
        since 1999 when the National Hospital fully took off
        and he was appointed the chief accountant. He
        allegedly narrated how he has been able to build a
        mansion, buy a fleet of cars, and keep a fat bank
        account that would keep his future generation in cosy
        comfort. Then he gave the testimony that drew the
        longest applause that he has already acquired his
        American visa and would leave for the United States
        early this year. Well, early this year, he actually
        left his house, but not for the US. He was arrested
        and taken away by the State Security Services, (SSS).
        His co-worker and fellow church member later reported
        the matter to the hospital management. One of the
        loopholes, which the chief accountant exploited to
        allegedly defraud the hospital, Daily Independent
        learnt, was through VAT and tax meant for the Internal
        Revenue Board. The accused allegedly paid the money
        into his personal account instead. Through this and
        other ways, the hospital lost several millions of
        naira. About N39 million has allegedly been traced to
        the chief accountant. As investigations continue, the
        entire hospital's accounting system is being reviewed
        while various departments are being closely monitored
        by the Presidency. Since April last year, when the
        hospital's board was dissolved, the National Hospital
        has been under the Office of the Secretary to the
        Government of the Federation (SGF), apparently,
        according to Presidency sources, for close monitoring
        to consider whether the present management team can
        efficiently manage the institute. Malam Sadiq Yahaya
        Ozi, chief public relations officer of the hospital
        said the accused chief accountant would soon be
        brought before the disciplinary committee of the
        hospital for probe, and would be dismissed if found
        guilty. Subsequently, he would be handed over to the
        Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related
        Offences Commission (ICPC) for further investigation.
        The SGF, Chief Ufot Ekaette, was not available for
        comment. It, was, however, gathered that an Internal
        Monitoring Committee headed by a deputy director in
        the SGF's office has commenced investigations into the
        events surrounding the scam at the hospital.

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

        New NFA: Much ado about selection

        By Ugo Okeke

        Daily Independent
        The Nigeria Football Association (NFA) is daily living
        up to its name as the most volatile and crisis-prone
        of all the 29 sporting associations under the Ministry
        of Sports and Social Development.
        NFA, established in 1945 to oversee the development of
        football in the country has failed to live up to
        expectations in spite of the huge material and human
        resources committed to the association by the Federal
        Government.
        After 57 years of existence, the FA has failed to
        stand on its feet, creating an impression that it is a
        critically ill man whose problems can only be solved
        through drastic measures.
        The search for the cure for the ' disease' ravaging
        the FA has taken many years, outliving many FA
        chairmen who have gone into the oval office with a
        promise to rid the association of its problems but
        left the FA worse than they met it.
        The battle for the soul of the FA between those who
        have genuine ideas but lack the confidence to invest
        their personal resources into the FA and Sports
        ministry officials who lack ideas but have been
        pampered by the Federal government led to the drafting
        of Decree 101. Decree 101 keeps the FA perpetually
        under the control of the ministry.
        Going by the provisions in the decree, Federal
        government as part of its social responsibilities will
        provide funds for the running of the soccer house
        through the Secretary General who will be appointed by
        the Sports minister.
        The arrangement definitely favoured the civil servants
        who do not have to prove their competence before
        earning their pay.
        This arrangement left the football house open to
        people of various calling being seconded to the FA by
        the ministry. The FA became another federal government
        parastatal and the country's football is the worse for
        it. Nigeria, a country feared and respected around the
        world for her prowess in the game of football saw her
        fortunes nose dive due to incompetence of the soccer
        administrators.
        In the late eighties, Nigeria was suspended by FIFA
        due to the discrepancies noticed in the date of births
        of some national team players by the NFA. The FA was
        to further expose its incompetence few years after the
        country was re-absorbed into FIFA-organised age group
        competitions when the FA officials forgot the
        international passports of the Golden Eaglets players
        during their qualifying game against Benin Republic.
        This effectively ruled Nigeria out of the cadet world
        cup. The cry for the re-organisation of the NFA was
        not heeded by successive FA chairmen who appeared
        satisfied with the setting at the FA.
        The arrival of Engineer Ishaya Mark Aku, the Minister
        of Sports and Social Development was to change all
        that as he seems committed to the long-awaited
        restructuring of the FA.
        Aku, who took over from Damishi Sango was reported to
        have held a meeting with top shots of the FA shortly
        after he assumed office where he demanded to be
        briefed by the various departmental heads.
        Their poor understanding of the jobs they were meant
        to do in the football house infuriated the minister
        who demanded to go through some of the files in the
        FA. His discoveries were shocking, leading to a chain
        of events which has drastically changed the set up at
        the FA. The minister discovered a lot of
        irregularities ranging from financial to favouratism
        and lack of accountability.
        Apparently unsatisfied with the goings on in the NFA
        and determined to bring sanity to the football house,
        the sports minister undertook a trip to England where
        he held a secret meeting with members of the British
        FA. During his brief stay in England, the minister and
        his aids were given expert advice on how to run a
        football association. On his return, the minister set
        out to put into practise all that he had learnt in
        England.
        In an unprecedented move, the sports minister threw
        open vacancies in the FA to the public after relieving
        the secretary general and his team of their duties.
        This was after Patrick Okpomo was brought in to act as
        the interim secretary of the FA.
        Candidates who met the stringent requirements of the
        NFA were encouraged to apply for the vacant positions,
        and that was when the intrigues and power play began
        again.
        The post of the Secretary general unarguably the most
        lucrative was hotly contested by highly respected
        Nigerians who felt they have what it takes to bring
        sanity to the most vilified sporting association in
        the country.
        The sports minister surprised many by engaging the
        services of a Benin-based consultancy firm, Re-Stral
        Consultancy Limited to screen the aspiring candidates.
        The Benin-based firm which was paid N15m for the
        screening exercise had a difficult task sifting the
        chaff from the wheat.
        At the end of the tests conducted by the firm, Francis
        Monidafe and Paul Bassey were dropped while Taiwo
        Ogunjobi, Kashimawo Laloko and Charles Ojugbana were
        given the clear to contest for the plum job. However,
        Julius Berger team manager, Taiwo Ogunjobi was said to
        have topped the list of the candidates drawn by the
        private consultancy firm.
        The issue took a dramatic turn when the minister
        rather than approve the recommendations of the
        consultancy firm referred the list to the FA board for
        approval. The minister's decision took the shine off
        the exercise, as the FA board members unimpressed with
        the job done by the consultancy firm, ignored its
        recommendation.
        The board members under the leadership of Brigadier -
        General Dominic Oneya (rtd) upturned the firm's
        recommendation and elected Charles Ojugbana as the FA
        scribe.
        NFA's decision did not go down well with the sports
        minister who ordered the board of the Nigeria Football
        Association to confirm Ogunjobi as the new Secretary
        General of the football house.
        Since the announcement, the minister has not known
        peace. A lot of questions have been asked on the
        rationale behind the contracting of a private
        consultancy firm whose final recommendation has caused
        so much problem between the FA and the sports
        minister. Ogunjobi's joy was also cut short by an
        Abuja high court which granted an injunction
        restraining him from parading himself as the FA
        scribe.
        The court ruled on an application brought before it by
        an aggrieved member of the NFA who was not satisfied
        with the minister's decision.
        The employment of others who applied for jobs in the
        FA has however not attracted any criticisms. The
        appointment of Chief Osuola Onigbinde as the head,
        technical department is expected to bring life into
        the department which many have blamed for the
        technical problems rocking the national teams.
        Onigbinde led the then Green Eagles made up of mostly
        local players to a respectable second place finish at
        the 1984 Nations Cup.
        He was also in charge of IICC Shooting Stars when they
        got to the finals of the African champions league. The
        CAF instructor who is well respected in FIFA recently
        returned from Trinidad and Tobago where he spent three
        years restructuring that country's football. He is
        expected to bring his experience to bear on the Super
        Eagles and other national teams presently being
        handled by indigenous coaches.
        NFA has taken the bull by the horns by ratifying the
        employment of Edozien Enemuo, an experienced marketer
        and a football referee.
        Enemuo who has worked with top advertising and
        marketing companies in the country is saddled with the
        responsibility of selling the NFA to corporate bodies
        who are skeptical about doing business with the
        football house.
        He will play a key role in the new FA as the federal
        government gradually withdraws its financial
        contributions to the association.
        If Ogunjobi is allowed to run the FA without any
        distraction, the former national team player may
        actually rescue the country from the precarious
        situation she has found herself.
        The former 3SC team manager has led two clubsides, 3SC
        and Julius Berger to the finals of the African
        champions league loosing in the final and semi final
        respectively.

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

        War on the Mambilla

        By Sukuji Bakoji

        Daily Independent
        "Relative peace" has returned to the Mambilla Plateau,
        especially in Gembu, the headquarters of Sardauna
        Local Government Area, Taraba State, after the clash
        that erupted on New Year's Eve between the Fulanis and
        the Mambillans. However, in the adjoining villages,
        the warring parties have resorted to guerrilla
        warfare, thus turning the entire Plateau into a
        theatre of war. The Plateau has a similar terrain with
        Afghanistan. The Chairman of the local government
        council, Mr. Gebon Timothy Kataps, lamented in a sad,
        low tone: "My worry is that a security risk has been
        created in the Mambilla Plateau. Most of the
        sophisticated weapons captured from the mercenaries
        are in the hands of the villagers, which is very
        dangerous. The state and the Federal Government must
        treat this issue with all dispatch and caution. The
        warring parties have resorted to guerrilla warfare
        which is a very dangerous trend, indeed. Both warring
        parties traded words, blaming each other for igniting
        the bloody clash in which about 60 people were
        confirmed dead. But the police put the figure at 35.
        While the Fulanis claimed that it was the activities
        of the militia group, Ashana No Case To Answer, formed
        by Mambillans to reclaim farmlands taken over by
        wealthy Fulani cattle breeders, that led to the
        eruption of the crisis, the Mambillans accused the
        wealthy Fulanis of hiring mercenaries from Chad and
        Cameroun to make ethnic war on the natives. The
        second-class chief of Mambilla, Alhaji Muhammadu
        Mansur, who is a Fulani man, put the blame on the
        Mambilla peasant farmers. He said he was not aware of
        the presence of any mercenaries in his domain. "It was
        alleged that the Fulani mercenaries called Wadabe were
        hired by some Fulanis. To the best of my knowledge, I
        don't know. As I told you, it was the activities of
        the farmers which sparked off the clash," the ruler
        said. But the security report sent by the village head
        of Mayo Ndaga, who is also the son of the Chief of
        Mambilla, Ubandoma Alhaji Isa Muhammadu, gave a
        blow-by-blow account of what ignited the clash. Part
        of the report dated January 6, 2002, read: "Today
        January 1, 2002, around 4 a.m., over 60 armed Fulanis
        (Wadabe) from Gashaka, Taraba, northern Nigeria and
        Chad Republic invaded Pappa and Tem Petel through the
        residence of Ardo Dabo Pappa; Jibo Duna, Gindau,
        Gomse, Alhaji Bawuro, Alhaji Hamman Tunga, etc. The
        inhabitant farmers were compelled to make self-defence
        that resulted to casualties of serious injuries of
        three people and many others � "One Gashaka Fulani
        vigilante chairman of Sarkin Fulani by name Mal.
        Ahmadu and one Fulani from Jabu by name Yusufa Manjo
        were arrested by vigilante group of Pappa with hired
        Land-Rover vehicle to convey the Fulani invaders. One
        among the 60 invaders was arrested by vigilante group
        and were all handed over to the police of Mayo Ndaga
        from Tem Petel. The rest escaped into Gashaka and
        Cameroun Republic, though I got unconfirmed
        information that many have been killed in the course
        of the farmers self-defence". A Mambilla elder
        statesman, Mr. Subur Matthew Vakkude, told Daily
        Independent that the Fulanis hired the mercenaries to
        exterminate all the inhabitants leaving them to take
        possession of the Mambilla Plateau. He said the
        natives were reduced to fetchers of water and hewers
        of wood in their own land. Vakkude said the eruption
        of the bloody clash, therefore, was a bottled-up
        problem over the years. The youths felt that the
        Fulanis had dispossessed them of their land and even
        brought in the mercenaries to exterminate the people
        of the Plateau. Investigations at the National
        Archives Kaduna revealed that the arrival of the
        nomadic Fulanis, popularly called Bororo, date back to
        the Fulani jihadist times, in 1800s. The nomads were
        attracted by the excellent weather of the Plateau,
        devoid of tsetse fly. The breeders could leave their
        herds unattended for days without the risk of them
        being stolen. The Mambilla Plateau is a fraction of a
        long wedge of broken mountainous land that stretches
        from beyond Bamenda in Cameroun Republic, nearly to
        Yola, Adamawa State. The Plateau consists largely of
        smooth, though steep, grassy hills at a mean level of
        about 5,000 feet above sea level with peaks reaching
        perhaps 6,000 feet. It is intersected by innumerable
        perennial streams lined with rapffia-palms. In the
        southwest corner, where rainfall is heavy, these hills
        have been broken off into precipitous gullies. The
        whole Plateau is surrounded by plains and falls in a
        continuous escarpment, varying from a few hundred feet
        in height to 3,000 feet. Rainfall on the Mambilla
        Plateau is high, perhaps about 120 inches at Mayo
        Ndaga, the flashpoint of the ethnic clash, and about
        150" in the southwest where the dry season lasts for
        less than two months. The Plateau serves as haven for
        the cattle breeders. As far back as 1938, intelligence
        report on the Mambilla Plateau indicted the Fulanis
        for causing constant clashes between them and the
        natives who were predominantly peasant farmers. Part
        of the report read, "Bororo are found within the
        bounds of almost every Mambilla village and are the
        source directly of over half the revenue of the area
        and indirectly of a good deal more. On the other hand,
        they are also, by the damage they cause, the source of
        more than half of the complaints and administrative
        difficulties". The 1938 Intelligence Report
        recommended autonomy for the Mambillans and the other
        ethnic groups on the Plateau. But instead of granting
        the Mambillans and other ethnic groups self-autonomy
        they were subjected to the Fulani rule. The
        Intelligence Report proposed the "abolition of the
        present Fulani district Head and of Alkalis
        jurisdiction over the Mambilla villages, and the
        constitution of a Mambilla Police and messenger staff,
        with quarters within the Mambilla tribal area."
        Therefore, the eruption of the bloody clash between
        the Fulanis and the Mambilla was as a result of
        domination and marginalisation by the minority Fulanis
        on the Plateau. The 1938 Intelligence Report heaped
        blame on the then colonial administrators for gross
        neglect and marginalisation. "Not only is the area
        utterly isolated from even the nearest parts of
        Adamawa and consequently subject to delays and lack of
        liaison, but also its needs are so different that it
        is impossible to expect an understanding attitude from
        Central officials who have never seen and are never
        likely to see it and who have little conception of the
        conditions," the report stated. "In their seasons,"
        the report further painted the gloomy picture, "Their
        farming-customs, their sources of revenue, their lack
        of educational facilities, their illnesses and the
        illnesses of the cattle everywhere, the Mambillans are
        unique in the emirate." Ironically, the report stated,
        "they got virtually no benefit from the Departmental
        Organisations at Yola, and even in judicial matters
        appeal to or supervision by the Lamido is
        impracticable". Indeed, the Mambillans are
        historically something of a problem. Three reports
        have been made upon them. In the first, in 1923, Major
        Glasson attributed to them an origin from the Jukuns
        in the southwest of the Plateau. Secondly, Captain T.
        A. Izard, who actually brought the Mambilla Plateau
        under British rule in 1926, derived them and their
        southern neighbours from the Mbum in Cameroun. Lastly,
        Dr. C.K. Meek, a renowned anthropologist and author,
        in 1931, placed them linguistically together with the
        Bata and Waka of Banyo in the then Adamawa province.
        In any case, the Mambilla Plateau has remained a safe
        haven for nomadic Fulanis because of the weather and
        the grassy hills that are good for pasturing. But the
        Fulanis have left the Plateau en masse. Those who
        migrated to the Cameroun have met stout resistance
        from the farmers. While those who fled down the
        Plateau to Gashaka area have vowed never to return
        again. Alhaji Umar Abdullahi, 35, a civil servant in
        Abuja told Daily Independent at Serti that "Gembu
        Wati" meaning, "Gembu is dead." Said he: "My parents
        spent about 50 years on the Mambilla Plateau. Today,
        we have been driven away because we are called
        settlers. My parents migrated to the Plateau because
        of the grazing lands for the cattle. But I want to
        warn them that the war is not yet over. We shall
        retaliate even if it will take us 100 years. Fulani
        man never forgets things." As the guerrilla warfare
        rages on, the soldiers and the mobile police have
        intensified efforts to disarm the villagers. The
        combined efforts have yielded little fruit. According
        to the Taraba State Police Public Relations Officer
        (PPRO), Mr. Clement Robert, the warring parties have
        failed to heed the warning by the Commissioner of
        Police, Mr. Njangor Egbe Njom, that they should
        surrender their arms, whether legally acquired or not,
        to the police. He said those suspects arrested would
        soon be charged to court. Forty-two of the suspected
        mercenaries are in police net in Jalingo, Taraba State
        capital. By and large, both the chairman of the local
        government council and chief of Mambilla have agreed
        to a consensus opinion that the Federal Government
        should establish a military base or barracks to
        checkmate the activities of the mercenaries and the
        ethnic militia, Ashana No Case To Answer. The war cry
        has not ebbed, instead it exacerbates by the day.
        What's more; if the governments and wealthy
        individuals can invest on the Mambilla Plateau, it
        holds a great promise for Nigeria in becoming
        self-reliant and self-sustaining. Successive
        governments in the country have turned a blind eye to
        the plight and potential of the Mambilla.


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


        One act, two bills and a bedlam

        By Ali M. Ali
        Daily Independent
        The National Assembly which went on recess early last
        month is reconvening tomorrow, January 22 amidst
        mounting confusion and re-opening of old wounds. The
        legislators are returning to face the lingering
        controversy surrounding the Electoral Act which, like
        a nightmare, continues to hound its progenitors and
        those who conspired to foist a roundly rejected
        legislation on the polity. Other unfinished but less
        engaging business is the 2002 Appropriation Bill and
        to a lesser extent, the recently hiked pump price of
        fuel which culminated into a paralysing nationwide
        strike that lasted for two days last week. It appears
        that Nigerians have forgiven some of the legislators
        who tried to bastardise the mandate freely given to
        them, because the dust raised by the Electoral Act is
        gradually settling. Up till last Thursday when the PDP
        national caucus made it clear that it won't encourage
        a change in the leadership of the National Assembly,
        the dust has thickened and was in the process of
        consuming the Senate President who was said to be on
        his way out. Already a couple of senators from the
        South-east were allegedly hitting the tracks, warming
        up to take over from the embattled president once his
        fate was sealed. Among the leading contenders were Jim
        Nwobodo, Ike Nwachukwu and Adolphus Nwabara.This trio
        had previously lost the seat to Anyim when Okadigbo
        fell in mid 2000. Since he became Senate President,
        Pius Anyim, seen by many, as a lackey of the
        executive, had managed to maintain a cordial
        relationship with the executive. Before his
        leadership, the relation between the two was, at best,
        like cat and mouse. For over a year, Anyim had
        successfully presided over the affairs of the Senate
        until the Electoral Act palaver shattered the fluid
        peace accord with the executive and tore the National
        Assembly right to the bottom. Exactly a week ago,
        Senator Oserheimen Osunbor, chairman of the Joint
        Conference Committee of the National Assembly blamed
        Speaker of the House, Ghali Na'abba over Section
        80(1). Osunbor was only reinforcing the position of
        Senator Tunde Ogbeha over who is to be blamed. Buck
        passing the Electoral Act has been the name of the
        game since the House of Representatives amended it on
        January 3, 2002 after an emergency session. Earlier on
        December 28, 2001 the Senate passed a resolution
        rejecting the Electoral Act and urging the president
        to sign the original bill without the contentious
        Section 80(1). The questions at this juncture are:
        Which is the original bill? Who authored it? Blames
        have been traded between the executive and the
        legislature and from the Senate to the House. The buck
        passing degenerated to specifics - who, where, when
        and how. The president fingered the Speaker who
        promptly denied and in return brandished a letter
        signed by the Commander-in-Chief requesting for the
        suddenly orphaned Section 80(1). To prove his
        innocence and make a point, the Speaker summoned the
        Clerk of the National Assembly who told the House how
        Senators Tunde Ogbeha, Udo Udoma and the Senate
        President himself doctored the bill and inserted the
        unpopular proviso. All the indicted senators have
        since denied complicity. Senator Udoma actually bought
        pages of newspaper to deny the Clerk's allegations
        separately. In an interview with Sunday Tribune of
        January 6, 2002, Senator Tunde Ogbeha on his part,
        graphically explained how the Electoral Bill with the
        suddenly orphaned Section 80(1) came about. Hear him:
        "We had just finished a meeting when a member (Gumel)
        came in with a letter from the president. I did not
        read the letter, but he read the contents to me, and
        it was about what the president wanted in the
        Electoral Bill. There and then, we decided to hold a
        meeting at the Senate President's house between the
        leaders of the National Assembly and the committee.
        There were arguments for and against and in the end we
        decided on a proviso". Two issues are easily deducible
        from Ogbeha's confession. One, the original Electoral
        Bill was actually authored by the National Assembly
        collectively. Both the Senate and the House of
        Representatives were agreed on the original Electoral
        Bill. Two, the contentious Section 80(1) was actually
        the handiwork of a few legislators who sat down in
        isolation of the House and in flagrant violation of
        Section 62(4) of the constitution which states in part
        that, "Nothing in this section shall be construed as
        authorising such House to delegate to a committee the
        power to decide whether a bill shall be passed into
        law or to determine any matter which is empowered to
        determine by resolution under the provisions of this
        constitution �" By this, the insertion of Section
        80(1) was in itself unconstitutional. The few
        senators, members of the House of Representatives and
        the Harmonisation Committee have no mandate to tinker
        with the original bill. According to Senator Ogbeha:
        "That same evening, we went to Anyim's house. We were
        supposed to hold a meeting with the president on the
        Electoral Bill and the budget. The leadership and the
        committee members then went to the villa.Na' Abba also
        came in. We saw the president had invited the
        governors for the meeting. We found that Governor
        Osoba was reading the original bill without the
        proviso �." By Ogbeha's own admission, the original
        Electoral Bill was doctored to accommodate
        presidential request. What then are the likely
        implications? Much has been said. Before the advent of
        the Electoral Act, notable Nigerians had warned of
        Nigeria becoming a one party state on account of the
        domineering attitude of the ruling People Democratic
        Party (PDP). Second Republic Senator Frances Spanner
        Okpozo, warned that the contentious clause is
        impliedly a declaration of one party state. Dr Yusuf
        Bala Usman, fiery university don, shares the same
        view. Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Lagos lawyer and Prof. Omo
        Omoruyi, former director-general of the defunct Centre
        for Democratic Studies (CDS) also expressed misgivings
        over government's handling of issues. Beyond that,
        Section 80(1) would most certainly have contracted the
        political space and thereby deny the new political
        associations the oppor-tunity of testing their
        strength and popularity at the polls. The Electoral
        Act is actually the brainchild of the PDP. The
        chairman, Mr. Audu Ogbeh, publicly admitted that if
        anybody is to be blamed, his leadership should carry
        the cross. His admission, however, has not appeased
        most Nigerians especially those in the political class
        who had hoped to have their political associations
        registered. It is not the first time that a democratic
        government that is not certain of electoral victory in
        Nigeria or Africa has altered the constitution to gain
        an unfair advantage. The defunct National Party of
        Nigeria (NPN) controlled federal government in the
        Second Republic, for example, inverted the order of
        elections and paid dearly for it. The presidential
        election was conducted first instead of the usual
        local government election and the 1982 Electoral Act
        extended local government council tenure from two to
        three years, albeit proactively. By December 31,1983,
        the government that enjoyed a landslide victory at
        verdict '83 had collapsed. The rest is history. At the
        continental level, immediate past president of Zambia,
        Frederick Chiluba tried unsuccessfully again to cling
        to power by encouraging legislation aimed at muscling
        the opposition. One such example was the change in the
        Zambia's constitution in 1996, which effectively
        sealed the fate of Chiluba's strongest challenger,
        former president, Kenneth Kaunda. The new constitution
        said if one's parents were settlers in Zambia, he
        can't run for election. Kaunda's parents were from
        Malawi. Chiluba tried unsuccessfully to manipulate his
        country's constitution to accommodate him for a third
        term in office. He was literally chased out. Mr.
        Alasen Quattara, former Prime Minister and foremost
        challenger to the Ivory Coast's plum job of president
        also suffered the Kaunda treatment. Overthrown
        president, Konen Bedie, scared of defeat pulled the
        legislation trick and deflated, in one stroke,
        Quattara's rising political profile. The raging
        political feud between Bedie and Quattara ultimately
        led to a military take-over in 1998. Presently,
        Zimbabwe is on the boil on account of President Robert
        Mugabe's efforts to cling to power at all cost. Just
        penultimate Thursday the government passed two
        controversial bills that critics say are designed to
        stifle dissent ahead of the president's re-election in
        March. Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF which has a comfortable
        majority in the parliament, just like Obasanjo's PDP,
        passed by 62 votes to 49, the General Laws Amendment
        Bill which would ban independent election monitors
        during the presidential election between March 9-10
        2002. Already, Zimbabwe's military and security chiefs
        have sided with President Mugabe who has been in power
        for 22 years. In a statement penultimate week, the
        defence forces commander General Vitalis Zvinavashe
        said that they would only support leaders that fought
        in the liberation wars against white rule. Perhaps,
        some members of the National Assembly have realised
        the dangerous implications of some of the provisions
        in the Electoral Act. The notorious Section 80(1)
        which the House of Representatives has already amended
        should have been jettisoned in the first place. "It is
        not for the PDP or the National Assembly or the
        president to narrow the political space", says Alhaji
        Ibrahim Ali El-Amin, chairman of APP, Kaduna State.
        Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman said last year: "I believe that
        the constitution does not provide for the registration
        of political parties as being applied by INEC now. The
        constitution requires parties to notify INEC and then
        contest elections". In the final analysis, the
        confusion that gave birth to two bills for a single
        act can only be resolved if the legislature acts with
        the same speed it passed the doctored bill to the
        executive for signing into law. It is a matter of joy
        that, the president has expressed his willingness to
        sign the amended act once it gets to his desk. His
        adviser on political affairs, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife,
        confirmed last Tuesday that "the president will be
        prepared to examine, consider and sign any amendment".


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

        Lagos ports lose N2b to industrial action

        By Walter Ukaegbu
        Daily Independent
        More than N2 billion is reported to have been lost by
        the maritime sector as a result of the strike action
        embarked upon by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)
        last week. Daily Independent checks at the ports
        showed that running costs for vessels already berthed
        at the quays exceeded N23.52 million for the two days
        of the strike action, demurrage charges were in the
        neighbourhood of N26.88 million, while vessels
        awaiting berthing in the high seas also incurred
        demurrage totaling N24.96 million for the two days.
        The demurrage was expected to be paid by the NPA to
        the ship owners. Other costs incurred at the ports
        include port usage revenue losses by the NPA, which
        has been put at N400 million, Nigeria Customs Service
        (NSC) import duty losses estimated at N800 million and
        losses incurred by other maritime practitioners such
        as importers and freight forwarders, whom maritime
        experts say bring the total to about N2 billion. The
        above disclosure was made by Chief Leo Ogamba,
        Secretary, Lagos State Shippers Association (LASSA)
        and Chief Executive Leochuks Nigeria Limited. Economic
        and social activities were paralysed in most of the 36
        states from Wednesday to Thursday last week as
        workers, artisans, students and market women complied
        with the stay at home order given by the Nigeria
        Labour Congress (NLC). That order signaled the
        beginning of a strike nation wide to protest the
        recent increase in the pump price of petroleum
        products. Chief Leo Ogamba, said shippers have
        actually incurred a lot of losses. "The NPA is to pay
        the shippers for their vessels, which were delayed at
        the high seas without having the opportunity to berth,
        a fault, which is not their making," he said. Ogamba
        disclosed that the two day delay in the clearance of
        goods would bring more pressure to bear on the already
        congested state of goods clearing activities at the
        ports. He said some containers were already loaded on
        trucks but could not leave the ports before the
        commencement of the strike. This Ogamba explained,
        will result in the importers paying demurrage on those
        containers. The Assistant General Manager (AGM)
        Corporate Affairs of NPA could not be reached for
        comments as he was said to be having a meeting with
        the management staff.

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


        Ajunwa trains in Texas for Manchester 2002



        Daily Independent
        Sydney 2000 Olympics gold medallist, Chioma Ajunwa,
        has taken her career revival pursuits to the United
        States as the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games draws
        near.
        Daily Independent learnt that the policewoman is
        presently training in a secret camp in Texas, for the
        games and has promised close pals that she would be in
        top shape for the Nigeria's much anticipated return to
        the games. In fact the multi-talented athlete is
        looking beyond the Manchester games as she has her
        eyes firmly on the money spinning IAAF Golden League
        that will soon take off across the globe.
        " Chioma will surprise a lot off people this season
        because she is taking her training very serious. She
        does not want anything to distract her from
        concentrating to do well", a source close to the
        athlete said.
        Ajunwa is among Nigerian athletes that are hoping to
        make their mark before the Commonwealth trials in
        June, which will be used to draw the final list of
        athletes for the games. She is expected to do the long
        jump as well as the sprints during the trials that
        usually bring together the cream of top Nigerian
        athletes.
        ----------------------

        Entry for beauty pageant hits all-time high

        By Ozolua Uhakheme
        Daily Independent
        For many Nigerian girls, the quest for fortune has
        shifted to the headquarters of Silverbird Productions
        Limited in Sabo-Yaba, Lagos. Daily, the teenagers
        besiege the outfit's office to obtain the forms for
        this year's Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN)
        beauty contest. Unlike in the past when most of them
        sneak into Silverbird's office, many now come in the
        company of their parents to collect the forms. Since
        mid-December when the sale of forms commenced, the
        army of girls that throng the organisation's
        headquarters has been on the increase. According to
        investigations, agencies and organisers of other
        pageants are exploiting this situation as they now
        assist these girls to collect and submit forms for a
        fee. As at last Friday, over 300 forms have been sold,
        and the sale of forms closes on January 25. Following
        the success of the reigning Miss World, Nigerian born
        Agbani Darego last November, most Nigerian girls now
        see themselves as potential queens. This development
        has increased the number of applicants for the contest
        just as the organisers have devised a measure to
        control the volume of prospective participants in the
        beauty contest that debuted in 1986. Unlike in the
        previous editions when contestants are among others,
        required to be holders of West African School
        Certificate, every applicant must now be an
        undergraduate and preferably above 5.8 feet tall.
        "Though the standard remains the same, the
        qualification has been raised while the fee is still
        N500.00 per candidate. Unlike in the past, at this
        time of the planning, we would be wondering if we
        would make a good list. Now, we have close to over 300
        girls who have obtained forms. Right now, the burden
        is how to screen the prospective contestants because
        we have recorded an unprecedented number of applicants
        so far in the history of the pageant," the organisers
        said in a chat with Daily Independent. The MBGN crown
        was first won by Miss Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu in 1986.
        Riholy Gbinigie, Toyin Raji, Omasan Buwa, Bianca Onoh,
        Nike Oshinowo and Sabena Umeh are also past winners.
        Last year's winner, Agbani Darego relinquished the
        crown to the runner-up Ann Suinner after winning the
        Miss World crown.

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


        The Nigerian child and his uncertain future

        By Agatha Edo
        Daily Independent
        Scene One: Alli, 12, hawks sachets of packaged water
        popularly called 'pure water' on Apongbon Bridge in
        Lagos. Watching him sprint after a moving car as he
        attempts to sell his ware, onlookers cannot but marvel
        at his extraordinary speed and dexterity which remind
        them of American sprinters Maurice Green and Michael
        Johnson. Scene Two: Eight-year old Temitope hawks
        bread for her mother before and after school. Her
        twiggy legs can hardly withstand the weight of the
        tray on her head. Unmindful of the danger she
        constantly faces, she dashes across the heavy traffic
        to sell bread to customers. Unfortunately, the driver
        of one of the cars who saw her too late knocked her
        down. Scene three: Looking fragile and hungry, a
        mother calls on every passer-by to show benevolence by
        giving alms to her twins. Oblivious of their mission
        on the busy and rickety Palmgrove pedestrian bridge,
        the twins jump in excitement enjoying the noise and
        motion of vehicles below. These are a sample of the
        growing army of street children in Nigeria. Daily, the
        number keeps increasing as more children find
        themselves on the streets eking out a living for
        themselves and families. From the second such a child
        opens his innocent eyes in the maternity ward his
        parents see him as an extra burden. From that moment,
        he risks a loss of his rights to protection, care,
        love and attention from parents who are too
        overwhelmed by their own problems to appreciate the
        life of an innocent child. Apparently forgetting the
        role they played in the procreation story of that
        child, parents resent the child for being another
        money-draining well. Although today's children are
        more fortunate and better equipped for the challenges
        of tomorrow than children of yesterday due to advanced
        technology, this class of children unfortunately do
        not enjoy such privileges. They are constantly exposed
        to much neglect and loss of their childhood innocence.
        These children, unlike those of developed countries
        whose mastery of high quality computers and other
        modern equipment shames even the most learned here,
        have as their inheritance hardship and stories of woe.
        Across Africa, the story of street children bears
        testimony to the selfish creed of leaders in Africa.
        Many African countries like Nigeria lack proper
        welfare packages to cater for parents who insist that
        abandonment of their children is not a first choice
        but a consequence of the inability of the government
        to address many of the economic and social problems
        that gave birth to the situation. "Let's face it, no
        sane parent would willingly push a child into the
        streets but like many others, I find myself doing
        exactly that because I lack the financial means to
        look after myself let alone feed my five children,"
        says Ibidun Adeyemi, a former civil servant with the
        Lagos State Ministry of Works who was affected by the
        mass retrenchment in the state's civil service two
        years ago. Adeyemi, whose wife was also affected, now
        has all his five children hawking essential items as a
        way of surviving hard times. Even though he claims
        that his children still attend school, one of them,
        Illesanmi, a junior secondary school student of Ogudu
        High School describes the whole thing as awkward. " A
        condition where I have to go hawking before and after
        school leaves me tired and not uninterested in my
        education because I prefer the life on the streets
        than that of the classroom. Street life is a blend of
        everything-- the good, the bad, the ugly. Once you
        taste the experience, you find it difficult to let go.
        My life as a soft drinks seller at Ojota garage is
        fascinating," he says. However, nine-year-old Chidima
        Ajulunna disagrees. "I hate it. I want to go to school
        like all other children. But my stepmother and father
        would not hear of it. They make me stay out all day to
        sell bread and pure water (packaged water). My mandate
        is simple. 'Do not come home unless you finish selling
        everything'. At times, I stay out as late as 10 p.m.
        If I come home with any left over ware, I get beaten
        by my father and his wife," she said. Article 36 of
        the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
        Child, states that governments of member countries
        shall protect the child against all forms of
        exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child.
        The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now Africa
        Union, in its preamble on the rights and welfare of
        the child sees the child as occupying a privileged
        position in the African society and "that for the full
        and harmonious development of his personality, the
        child should grow up in a family environment in an
        atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding." It
        also went on to emphasise that the child, because of
        his physical and mental needs, requires particular
        care with regard to health, physical, mental, moral
        and social development, and requires legal protection
        in conditions of freedom, dignity and security.
        According to Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the
        United Nations, "every child should have the best
        possible start in life; every child should receive a
        good quality basic education; and every child should
        have the opportunities to develop his or her full
        potential and contribute to society in meaningful
        ways." But how many children in Africa, particularly
        in Nigeria can claim to have the best possible start
        in life? "Regrettably not many. Only a minute number
        can lay claim to this. For the large majority life is
        a huge struggle. Looking at them waste away at the
        roads, garages, hotels and other similar places, one
        cannot but ask if this country has a future. As a
        social worker, I have come across very pathetic cases
        that have set me on a path of serious emotional anger
        with the system. Our leaders are to blame for the
        number of street and abandoned children. If all the
        money they daily steal is plunged into the economy,
        the family units would have been better off," stated
        Bisi Aderoju, social worker with the Lagos state
        Ministry of Youth and Social Welfare. At the Lagos
        State Police Command, it was described as a national
        malaise hence outside the sole responsibility of the
        command. Lesley Pearse, founder of Child Care, a
        non-governmental organisation, dedicated to the
        protection of street children, blames the government
        for children's woes. " Government officials in this
        country are the blight of the Nigerian child. They are
        only concerned about their own children. Once their
        children have the best, they are not bothered about
        what happens to the average child and family. We will
        continue to witness waste of our children's future
        until we concern ourselves with those things that
        matter to us as a people. Many of these kids would be
        off the streets if their parents have other means of
        survival." While she acknowledges that many parents
        see hawking as part of our culture, "something should
        be done to prevent parents from abusing them. When a
        child stays out till late all because the parents say
        the child should not come back till everything is
        sold, it becomes an abuse. A child has every right to
        education without hindrance from anyone. Our laws
        should be strengthened to protect the child and
        prosecute parents who abuse them. There should also be
        a strong will on the part of government and its
        officials to enforce even existing laws. From all
        available evidence government is not serious on
        matters affecting the protection and welfare of the
        Nigerian child." She insists that until we all
        collectively agree that our children have first call
        to our resources, time and attention, " Nigerian
        children will continue to be an embarrassment to us
        all."

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

        Udenta advocates honour for Bola Ige

        By Bisi Abidoye

        Daily Independent
        Former national secretary of the Alliance for
        Democracy (AD), Dr Udenta O. Udenta, has advocated
        that the slain attorney-general of the federation and
        Justice minister, Chief Bola Ige, be named father of
        Nigeria's Fourth Republic. Fielding questions from
        Daily Independent in Abuja over the weekend, the ex-AD
        scribe said Ige deserved the honour because he is
        credited with formulating the constitution of the
        three Fourth Republic political parties namely,
        People's Democratic Party (PDP), All People's Party
        (APP), and AD. "Not that he physically wrote every
        line of the constitutions of the three parties, but he
        chaired the committees that drafted their manifestos
        and constitutions. And these form the framework of the
        current democratic dispensation in Nigeria," he
        stated. Udenta posited that Ige was assassinated by a
        section of the elite who lost the capacity to debate
        Nigeria's future with Ige as, according to him, Ige's
        concept of Nigeria, his nationalism and patriotism
        were far more profound and sustainable than certain
        narrow constructions bandied by the masterminds of his
        assassination. Not for Udenta, vitriolic criticisms of
        ideological volte-face against Ige for pitching camp
        with the PDP government and instituting resource
        control suit against some states as well as his
        apparent foot-dragging on the need for a Sovereign
        National Conference (SNC). Udenta explained that Ige
        was greatly misunderstood for his complexities and
        contradictions, adding that Ige belonged to the
        progressive class and played progressive politics
        until violent people silenced him. Going further,
        Udenta said it would be difficult to pin-point the
        enemies behind his assassination because he fought so
        many battles at different fronts at the same time and
        had garnered too many enemies. He said being
        conversant with the AD, he knew the battle Ige fought
        to democratise the structure of the party and to
        broaden its platform and membership frontiers to the
        chagrin of some people. Udenta defended Ige's role in
        instituting the controversial resource control suit
        against southern states, saying as the chief law
        officer of the federation, Ige was duty-bound to have
        the Supreme Court interpret grey areas of the
        constitution rather than relying on ambiguities. He
        said Ige's action was legally sensible because an
        independent arbiter like the Supreme Court was in a
        better position to make judgment on any grey area of
        the constitution. That way, he said, Ige would not
        offend the sensibilities of his allies and foes.
        Udenta said Ige introduced many bold initiatives to
        cleanse the political system and that must have been
        the reason those who have no better means of shouting
        down his work resorted to violence so that the present
        government becomes more totalitarian in nature.

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

        Man of the year



        Daily Independent
        A variety of interesting candidates made the nominees'
        list for the maiden selection of Daily Independent MAN
        OF THE YEAR. However, at the back of our mind - the
        Board of Editors of Daily Independent - is a sense of
        history. Three months after it hit the streets by
        storm and in style, Daily Independent approaches its
        critical choice of Man of the Year fromthe perspective
        of nobility and goodness. From the Jeremy Bentham
        school of thought of governance as that of the
        greatest happiness forthe greatest number, our
        cardinal criterion is etched in marble: the triumph
        ofgood over evil. Hence the award can only go to the
        man who has affected humanity most, and for good. We
        cannot glorify evil. Our mission is to stretch out
        hope to Nigerians in particular and the world at
        large.
        These surely are some tall criteria. Who will best fit
        the bill in auniverse of six billion homo sapiens?
        Before the Board of Editors were a number of
        nominations put forward by members and sourced from
        informed survey at a December 11, 2001 meeting. From
        Kofi Annan, Osama bin Laden,George Walker Bush,
        Shuaibu Amodu, Agbani Asenite Darego, Ayodele Okeke to
        Ibrahim Kwatalo, the list of nominees was formidable.
        Such broad nominees as HIV/AIDS and the common man
        were also mentioned. The Editors were to chew over the
        list and re-assemble a weeklater for a seminal
        analysis of the nominees and eventual selection of the
        winner. At the meeting, the debates were formidable
        and candidates were x-rayed with the fine tooth
        combthat is characteristic of Daily Independent. From
        the crucible of this passionatecolloquium, Kofi Atta
        Annan, the Ghanaian-born consummate diplomat and
        bureaucrat who is the UN Secretary-General, is the
        obvious choice as 'Manof the Year' on the
        international pedestal.
        Dianam Dakolo, a dependable and forthright member of
        our editorial board captures the views of the
        discussion in a prosaicstyle that is uniquely his -
        strong, captivating, factual and academic. He is
        eminentlyqualified to do so. His cognate experience as
        university teacher and journalist are invaluable
        assets for thejob.
        Keeping faith with our October 1, 2001 founding
        mission which detests neutrality "in any matter,
        especiallythose concerning the well-being of the
        Nigerian people", it is our view to also look for a
        Man of the Yearfrom the Nigerian scene. Shuaibu Amodu,
        the rejected stone who has now become the cornerstone
        of the nation's third consecutive qualification for
        the 2002 Mundial, is ourchoice. Dr. Emman Usman Shehu,
        our Ombudsman and member of the Editorial Board
        anchors the essay. He is indisputably trained to
        handle the job. A teacher, author,columnist and
        journalist whose broad range of practice has taken him
        through radio, television and print media, periscopes
        the subject with gripping suspense. It must rank as
        writingat its best. Daily Independent also comes with
        a runner-up at the local scene. He is Ibrahim Kwatalo,
        the former deputy governor of Jigawastate who resigned
        from the job, because he was denied the responsibility
        forperformance. He would rather beout of office, than
        sit it out in the pain and agony of non-performance.
        We consider him a rare Nigerian. His example parallels
        the manner inwhich Abubakar Dangiwa Umar quit as
        military governor of Kaduna State in the late 80s when
        evil was infull bloom under the military regime.
        John Kingsley Oseze-Langley, our EditorialBoard
        Chairman, is assigned the duty of crafting the piece.
        He is on an all-too familiar turf. All his life, he
        has been writing. He conquers this essay with his
        richobservation of the nation's politics and his
        inimitable writing skill.
        Our choice also reflects our editorialpolicy of a
        concentric news coverage formula along zonal,
        national, continentaland international lines.
        Kwatalo,Shuaibu and Annan match this vision. Kwatalo
        and Shuaibu are within the bandwidth of the zonal and
        national. Annan's choice reflects theglobal
        perspective.
        Please turn to our Life Section D2, D11and MORE for
        the real fare. Enjoy the read.

        Doyin Mahmoud
        Chief Operating Officer andEditor-In-Chief

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


        Nnamani sues for peace in Enugu

        Sunny Igboanugo

        Daily Independent
        Governor of Enugu State Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani has
        extended an olive branch to the main opposition to his
        government, the coalition led by former governor of
        old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo and former
        national secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party
        (PDP) Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo. Nnamani's
        trouble-shooting efforts came at the weekend in the
        wake of the recognition of his faction of the state
        executive of the PDP led by Chief, Onyiaoha Nwanjoku
        by the national secretariat of the party as the
        authentic body in the state. Palpably elated at the
        decision, Nnamani said at the government house Enugu
        where the recognized executive had come to intimate
        him officially of the party's decision that those
        still bitter over the ward, council and state
        congresses which produced the current executive should
        put the past behind them and work for the success of
        the party in the state. Appealing particularly to
        Nwobodo and Nwodo to join hands in rebuilding the
        party, Nnamani said the issue of factions in the party
        should no longer arise. "I appeal for reconciliation.
        I appeal for peace and I appeal to Nwobodo and Nwodo
        to return to the fold. I am interested in
        reconciliation so that there will be peace in PDP. The
        issue of faction should be put to rest", he said.
        Maintaining that the issue of faction should be laid
        to rest, he emphasised the need for both former
        governors to forgive and forget and to join the
        authentic party leadership in steering the ship of the
        party with them. " It is clear now that there is
        nothing like faction in the party. The issue of
        congress is over. The next stage now is
        reconciliation", he said. Nwanjoku who had gone to
        court last week to stop the Nwobodo led factional
        leadership from parading themselves had told the
        governor of the official reconciliation of his
        executive via a letter by prince Vincent Ogbulafor,
        PDP national secretary.

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

        Customs in secret auction of goods

        By Walter Ukaegbu

        Daily Independent
        Emerging facts have revealed that the Federal
        Government may have commenced secret auction of seized
        overtime and non-CRI goods at the ports. Daily
        Independent gathered that over the last two weeks,
        secret auctioning of such goods has been going on
        through irregular procedures. The goods auctioned
        include containers and cars seized by the Nigeria
        Customs Service (NCS) at the various ports and border
        posts. A source which spoke on condition of anonymity
        disclosed that the auction may have been extended to
        political associates, influential legislators and
        frontline associations that are "regarded as important
        to the authorities". According to Mr. Festus Ugwu, a
        freight forwarder and director of Publicity,
        Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents
        (ANLCA): "This mode of secret auctioning of goods is a
        departure from the norm. This is not the rule at all.
        Before now, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) takes
        stock of goods and where they are located. After that
        is done, it is then gazetted and sent to the Nigeria
        Customs Service through the Ministry of Finance, then
        announcements are made, while auctioneers are
        appointed." Another maritime practitioner, who claimed
        to have just returned from Abuja, said the
        headquarters of the Nigeria Customs Service had been
        besieged by influential Nigerians, moneybags,
        politicians and relations of Customs officials who
        were lobbying to get allocations of cars and
        containers to be auctioned. Speaking on the departure
        from the previous norm, Rasta Kofi, who works at the
        West Coast Shipping Section of NPA, explained that
        "the goods to be auctioned were not as much as the
        people who are interested to buy and government wanted
        to compensate a few people", adding: "Even if it is
        made public, the authorities would still allocate it
        to those they want them allocated to. So, any
        announcement on the issue should not be considered to
        be important," he said. Ugwu also confirmed that most
        of the containers to be auctioned had already left the
        ports for their respective beneficiaries even before
        the exercise began. It was also alleged that in the
        past, importers whose containers were seized, but in
        dire need of their seized imported goods usually
        approach auctioneers and pacify them to let them buy
        their goods back. But this has not been the case.
        Following the deadline given to importers of non-CRI
        goods to get them cleared, which is believed to
        constitute a greater percentage of goods being
        auctioned, importers and freight forwarders had
        cautioned the Federal Government against its decision
        to auction.

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

        Mbang supports Obasanjo's re-election

        By Habib Aruna

        Daily Independent
        The head of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Dr.
        Sunday Mbang, has called on President Olusegun
        Obasanjo to positively consider his re-election bid in
        2003. The cleric said he had repeatedly asked the
        president if he would re-contest without getting a
        concrete response. Mbang made this remark while
        speaking with Daily Independent in Lagos last week at
        the 'Celebration of Life Service' organised by the
        Lagos State government for the slain former Justice
        Minister, Chief Bola Ige. Says he: " I am beginning to
        see the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA)
        improving. On telephone, I see every young boy
        carrying these little things around. I was travelling
        to Ilorin the other day and I saw the road undergoing
        construction. So, he deserves a second term in office
        since he has been able to accomplish these tasks".
        Mbang, who is also the President of the Christian
        Association of Nigeria (CAN), berated Nigerian
        politicians for their failure to learn from past
        experiences and their selfish attitude to issues of
        national interest. He therefore warned that, " If the
        politicians don't understand what the entire nation is
        out for, may be the death of Bola Ige will tell them
        that if they are not very careful, some of us will
        move and drive them out from their seats." On the
        recent increase in the pump price of petroleum
        products, Mbang said government should have consulted
        with different sections of the country before the
        increase was affected. He however advised Nigerians to
        give the government benefit of the doubt and wait to
        see if the increase will affect the economy positively
        before going out to fight against it.

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

        Court to rule on Arabic inscription on the naira

        By Joshua Aghasedo

        Daily Independent
        A federal high court in Lagos will on January 31
        deliver a ruling on the preliminary objection raised
        against the suit challenging the retention of the
        Arabic inscription on the naira. The suit, instituted
        by Mr. Ilya Osahon Ihenyen, is seeking amongst others
        a declaration of the court that the continued
        inscription of the Arabic words on the naira notes is
        unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal, null and void;
        and an order of the court to stop forthwith the
        continued use of the said words on the naira. Named as
        defendants are the attorney-general of the federation,
        the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and
        the Senate president. Also joined in the suit as
        defendants are the Speaker of the House of
        Representatives, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria
        and the Nigerian Security Minting and Printing Company
        Limited. In a seventeen paragraph affidavit in support
        of his application dated October 9, 2000, the
        applicant claims that since Arabic is neither the
        lingua franca in Nigeria nor one of the languages
        indigenous to any Nigerian tribe, clan or ethnic
        group, the said inscription being part of the naira
        note discriminates against him and other Nigerians who
        are not lettered or educated in Arabic language. He
        argued that the continued use of the Arabic language
        on Nigeria's currency notes is an unnecessary and
        avoidable violation of his fundamental human rights as
        a citizen of Nigeria. The defendants through their
        counsel, Chieson Okpoko of the Federal Ministry of
        Justice, Lagos, have however, raised a preliminary
        objection questioning the jurisdiction of the court to
        adjudicate on the applicant's suit and the competence
        of the applicant to institute the said suit. The
        court, presided over by Justice Ahmed Jega, having
        taken the arguments on the issue from both parties to
        the suit, has reserved ruling for January 31.
        ------------------------

        Mystery death hits LASU

        By Fabian Ozor

        Daily Independent
        Anxiety and fear have gripped both staff and students
        of the Lagos State University (LASU) following the
        loss of no fewer than 20 lives in the institution in
        the last three months. It was gathered that most of
        the deaths were caused by unknown ailments, which have
        left both staff and students in a state of uncertainty
        as to the next victim. Prominent among those who have
        lost their lives recently include Professor Gabriel
        Ogundeji Ogunremi, former Dean, Faculty of Arts at the
        Ojo campus of the university. He died on December 26,
        last year. Others include Dr. Moshood Ademola Elias, a
        senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology. He was
        former Head of Department and died on December 18,
        last year. Also two members of staff of the security
        department at the Epe campus of the university have
        lost their lives. They are Mr. Raimi Taiwo who died on
        December 30, and Mr. Taiye Pakiti, a senior patrolman,
        who died on January 6, this year. The students were
        not left out as investigation revealed that no fewer
        than 10 students have so far been reported dead
        between October last year to date. One of the students
        is Mr. Sani Olanrewaju, a student at the faculty of
        Arts. Scores of posters of obituaries adorn walls and
        notice boards at the institution's campuses at Epe and
        Ojo. Members of staff at the Ojo campus who were
        contacted for comments on the issue declined to speak
        while those who spoke on condition of anonymity
        lamented the ugly development, saying that it calls
        for concern. They called on both Christians and
        Muslims in the university to embark on intensive
        prayers to appease God. It will be recalled that the
        university lost its vice-chancellor, Professor Fatiu
        Ademola Akesode, who died mysteriously in March 2001.
        Professor Akesode according to media reports died in
        his sleep after attending a party organised by the
        Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Idowu
        Sobowale, when he was special adviser to the governor
        on education. The late vice-chancellor was said to
        have complained of serious headache and was taken to
        hospital before he died in his sleep. Five professors
        of the university who took the late vice-chancellor,
        state government and the university to court over the
        re-appointment of late Akesode as vice-chancellor for
        a second term were fingered to have had a hand in his
        death, which they denied. They were later sacked by
        the university council. It will be recalled that
        during a strike action by both academic and
        non-academic staff of the university, early last year,
        two pots of fetish objects (juju) were deposited at
        the doors leading to the offices of the
        vice-chancellor and registrar.

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

        Communal clashes worry Rivers govt

        By Sampson Akanimo

        Daily Independent
        Rivers State government has expressed worry over the
        spate of communal, land and chieftaincy crises in the
        state, which have reportedly claimed thousands of
        lives since 1967. Although no official statistics of
        casualties has been given, government officials
        however, claim that "tens of thousands" have lost
        their lives in these crises. Apparently disturbed, the
        state governor, Dr. Peter Odili, has warned that if
        the "senseless blood-letting" was not stopped in all
        parts of the state, "it will be difficult for
        government to actualise its development plans for the
        people". Odili's warning is coming on the heels of
        Justice Iche Ndu-led commission of inquiry's report on
        the Bille/Ke communal disturbances submitted recently
        to the state governor. Violence had erupted in Bille
        and Ke in Degema local government on December 29, 2000
        and on January 13 through February 27, 2001. According
        to Justice Ndu, "many people were killed and property
        worth millions of naira damaged". Extracts from the
        report which is still held secret in government
        circles have it that one of the remote causes of the
        crises was the contest between Bille and Krakrama over
        who is the legitimate owner of the Shell Petroleum
        Development Company (SPDC) oil facilities in Krakama
        flow station. "We found that the style of operation of
        SPDC in the area had largely contributed to the
        restiveness in those communities", Justice Ndu said,
        pointing out that the commission had recommended that
        government should liaise with oil companies operating
        in that region to ensure that they avoid double
        standard. According to Ndu, the judicial commission
        also identified the various territorial claims by
        communities in the region. For instance, there has
        always been the problem of the actual boundary between
        Rivers and Bayelsa states on the South-West axis.
        While Bille and Nembe always claim that it is by the
        River St. Bartholomew, the Kalabari Kingdom and Kula,
        are claiming that it is at River Santa Barbara. This
        boundary problem has always been central in the
        perennial conflict between Akuku Toru local government
        of Rivers State, and Brass in Bayelsa State. The issue
        is presently before the Federal Government Boundary
        Commission. Meanwhile, the state governor has
        cautioned against what he described as "unnecessarily
        induced crises" in the state. Governor Odili assured
        that the life of every Rivers person was very
        important to government, saying that government was
        studying the Justice Ndu report carefully with a view
        to coming out with a position that would be in the
        best interest of the state.

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

        Obasanjo urged to sign UBE bill

        By Fabian Ozor

        Daily Independent
        President Olusegun Obasanjo has been called upon to
        sign into law the Universal Basic Education (UBE)
        bill, which was recently passed by the National
        Assembly. The Pr<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
      • Nubi Achebo
        Monday January 28, 2002 I will enact Sharia law, says Rimi If elected Nigeria s president in 2003 By Sukuji Bakoji Daily Independent A People s Democratic
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 28, 2002
        • 0 Attachment

          Monday January 28, 2002


          I will enact Sharia law, says Rimi
          If elected Nigeria's president in 2003

          By Sukuji Bakoji

          Daily Independent

          A People's Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, has vowed that he will not hesitate to introduce the Islamic legal code, Sharia, in the country if he wins the 2003 polls. Rimi argued that Sharia is the constitutional right of Muslims in the country and that they should not be denied the right. Speaking in Kaduna, Rimi, who is the chairman of the Security Printing and Minting Company Limited, also took a swipe at the opponents of the legal code, describing them as alarmists. In his words: "What is the business of a non-Muslim to say that a Muslim should not live according to the Sharia? Sharia is not only a legal code, it is a way of life. "There is a lot of misconception and misunderstanding of the Sharia issue. I cannot understand why every time Sharia is mentioned, people become so jittery and uneasy. "Sharia is part of the Nigerian legal system. It is a law that existed in this country even before the white man came with the English law". He urged non-Muslims not to see Sharia as an evil thing. "Non-Muslims should stop portraying Sharia as an evil thing. If Nigerians would live according to Sharia, there will be no crime in the country", he argued. Zamfara State blazed the trail with the introduction of Sharia on January 27, 2000. Since then, other states, including Sokoto, Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Kebbi, Niger and Yobe, have followed suit. Katsina State, however, recorded the first execution under the Sharia, with the hanging last year of Malam Sani Rodi, 25. He was found guilty by a Katsina court of killing 35- year old Hajiya Zainab Hamza, wife of his master and her two children. In September last year, a Kebbi State Sharia Court sentenced a man to death by stoning for sodomising a seven-year old boy, whose sentence is yet to be carried out. But none of the cases has attracted as much local and international attention as that of Safiya Hussani, a 35-year old woman, sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. The case is presently under appeal.

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

          Okocha named in World Cup super stars' list

          By Ben Alaiya

          Daily Independent

          Super Eagles and Paris St. Germain of France midfield star, Austin Jay Jay Okocha has been listed in the exclusive list of 24 players who will set aglow this year's World Cup in Korea and Japan. The list also has current World Footballer of the Year, Luis Figo of Portugal and reigning European Footballer of the Year, Michael Owen of England. FIFA said in a release that it took a painstaking assessment of all the countries that have qualified for the mundial and decided to pick one player each from the countries as the star attraction. Of the Nigerian stars only Okocha was found worthy of mention by the world football governing body. The development is expected to further boost the midfielder's performance in the on-going Mali 2002 Nations Cup, where he has been instrumental to Nigeria's above average outing so far in the championship. From Cameroon, former African Footballer of the Year, Patrick Mboma was picked. Shaun Bartlett was named from South Africa's Bafana Bafana, while reigning African Footballer of the Year, El-Hadji Diouf emerged from the Senegalese Lions.
          Below are other star players that FIFA has listed for special mention in the release.

          Emile Mpenza-Belgium
          Gabriel Batistuta-Argentina
          Hakan Sukur-Turkey
          Henrik Larson-Sweden
          Hanan Medford-Croatia
          Hidetoshi Nakata-Japan
          Oliver Khan-Germany
          Jose Luis Chilavert-Paraguay
          Raul Gonzalez-Spain
          Rivaldo-Brazil
          Roy Keane-Republic of Ireland
          Sami Al Jaber-Saudi Arabia
          Seol Ki-Hyeon-South Korea
          Tamasz Hajto-Poland
          Victor Onopko-Russia
          Zinedine Zidane-France
          Zlatco Zahovic-Slovenia
          Fan Zhiyi-Tunisia.
          ------------------------------


          Black Saturday for OPC

          By Bolaji Tunji

          Daily Independent

          It was supposed to be an idyllic ride for members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC). They had left Esa-Oke, Osun State, in the early hours of Saturday, January 12, having given the late minister of Justice and attorney general of the federation, Chief James Ajibola Ige, a befitting burial. Their destination was Arigidi-Akoko, the hometown of their leader, Ganiyu Adams. But midway into their journey, tragedy struck in Owo. And many members of the congress lay dead while scores of vehicles in which they were travelling were also set ablaze, including the Honda Accord saloon belonging to Adams. Though Owo seemed to have settled down after the mayhem with the market opposite the Olowo palace again as busy as ever, the indelible reminder of what took place on that Saturday still remain. Entering the town through Ishotun Road from the expressway, one could see the burnt skeleton of an LT 35 bus. Not far away by the junction of Irugbe through Ijebu-Owo Road were also several burnt vehicles. It was just less than 100 metres to the palace. This was where Ganiyu Adams escaped, leaving his car behind. It is still parked where it was torched. Just nearby, but right in the middle of the road, is another bus that was trying to turn back towards the palace. It was also torched. Some OPC members were said to have been shot dead inside the bus. The bus itself never made the turning. And it is still right there in the middle of the road, giving credence to the OPC story that they were actually leaving town but had to turn back to find out what the problem was with their people who were behind. About five other cars lay in ruins after having been torched too. Other vehicles had to find a detour because of the obstruction. Moving further into town, and right opposite the palace, were two burnt vehicles, a bus and a space wagon. Like the other cars, they had entered through the old road, refuelled and were passing through the town to link up with the expressway in order to continue their journey, so goes the OPC version. But the spokesman of Owo community, Chief Frank Ogundadegbe, has a different story. "They came into Owo through the old road where nobody could identify their movement. Some parked a few kilometers away, some stayed within this vicinity (palace), some moved to Ijebu-Owo area, they started scattering themselves all over town", he said. Yet a resident of Owo, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had a contrary story. "They had actually come into town to buy fuel. They stopped by the post office to fuel at the Total filling station. An elderly man who was at the fuel station even asked them where they were going and they told him they were going to Arigidi and even asked for direction to the expressway. The man prayed for them and urged them to take things easy", he said. Speaking further on what happened, the eyewitness, whose house was between the palace and the filling station, said " a few of the OPC vehicles had already gone ahead while the remaining ones, especially those burnt opposite the palace were trying to catch up with their colleagues." "They probably had problems with the palace guards but the police were actually the ones that killed most of the OPC members. I know for certain that seven people were shot dead in the bus. One of them who had a matchet cut who was taken to Mobil petrol station by Ikare junction was also shot dead." When Daily Independent visited the Total filling station where the OPC vehicles stopped to refuel, the elderly man who refused to disclose his name, confirmed that "two of their vehicles actually stopped here to refuel and they paid but that is as far as I know. What happened after they left here, I cannot tell since I did not see it". Indeed, what triggered the mayhem is not clear but going by what Chief Ogundadegbe said, the OPC members had entered the town, " firing" .The day was also the closing day for the year's prayer ceremony for the Owo people, which must be ended in the Olowo's palace." The Olowo, Oba Folagbade Olateru-Olagbegi, was said to have presided over the prayer and the belief of everybody was that the OPC had come to "get rid of the Olowo" as that was "their third time of coming to town," Ogundadegbe said. Though Ganiyu Adams has denied this, one thing is quite clear: Seeing the OPC in town must have heightened the fear of the palace guard, who probably thought the OPC members had come to cause problem even though that may not have been their intention. Investigations, however, reveal that the vehicles were burnt much later in the day at about 5 p.m. "It was not that the vehicles were burnt immediately, but the OPC abandoned them while escaping. Later in the day, people were organised and they burnt the vehicles", a source said. Efforts to get information at the Zone II of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) headquarters in Osogbo, where the case was said to have been transferred, proved abortive. The Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) in the zone, Mr. I.D. Lokadang, only sent his personal assistant to the reporters that he would not be able to comment on the issue. "He cannot say anything as he can only act on information he was supplied from over there," the personal assistant told the reporters.

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

          Afikuyomi calls for Sovereign National Conference

          By Ali M. Ali and
          Gbenga Adebayo
          Daily Independent

          Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi has joined in the clamour for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference amidst the frequent ethnic clashes in different parts of the country. Speaking exclusively with Daily Independent in Lagos on Thursday, Afikuyomi explained that convocation of sovereign national conference has been the universal way of solving national issues and Nigeria cannot be an exception. "Since this civilian regime came into power almost three years ago, the number of people who have died as a result of ethnic clashes are more than those killed under all the military regimes we have had in the country. "So, let us have a conference and discuss the modalities of how to live in unison, what laws should govern us and how we want to be ruled," he adds. He further noted that, as a nation we are at a crossroad and unless we agree to discuss national issues at a conference, Nigeria might not get out of this crossroads because no nation has been reformed without a conference. Senator Afikuyomi dispelled speculations that the convocation of the conference will wrest power from the National Assembly members, saying it will not undermine the power of the members, since they will be the people who will prescribe the modalities for the conference. "In countries, like South Africa and Benin Republic where these conferences have been held, it went on simultaneously with their respective houses still in place and never brought in any chaos or power tussle" he maintains. On the vote of confidence passed in the Senate leadership, he said he sees it as an arrogant way of handling issues, which is capable of undermining the integrity of members of the National Assembly. "Vote of confidence is an alien language to Nigerian politics, but in this dispensation, it has become a soothing balm for those in power, as they are congratulated for a job well done even when they know they have achieved nothing", he said. He advised Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, the Senate president, to be careful, pointing out that the previous Senate presidents in this administration were impeached shortly after a vote of confidence had been passed on them. Afikuyomi agrees that the Electoral Act is a recipe for anarchy because it is a time bomb and will remain a time bomb unless both houses of the assembly harmonise their differences as quickly as possible. "It is now clear that different tribes of this country do not agree with quite a number of provisions of the act, so the earlier it is amended, the better", he said.

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

          New deal for wireless license

          By Jonah Iboma
          Daily Independent

          The Nigerian Communications Commission may employ an auction procedure totally different from that adopted for GSM licences in its choice of firms for Fixed Access wireless telephony services in Nigeria.
          According to the Initial Consultation Document (ICD), released by the NCC, "Fixed Wireless Access is essentially a localised service but licence coverage areas can be much larger". It is also believed, says the document, that "large licence areas provide a much viable commercial opportunity and allow more efficient use of available spectrum."
          NCC is also taking the auction option because it is "considered objective, as the outcome is easy to understand and difficult to challenge" the commission's document stated.
          Other emerging facts indicate that the government is considering issuing regional licences as a way of meeting the demand both for services at the state government level and for national coverage. The commission, while setting out the Initial Consultation Document, stated that an operator looking for national coverage could do so by obtaining a licence in each region. The number of licensing regions to be set up by the telecom industry's regulatory body is expected to be 37, one for each of the 36 states and the FCT. To this end, the industry's regulatory body is considering holding a number of licensing processes at different times for different regions or to conduct them simultaneously.
          Three frequency wave bands have been identified by the NCC as those to be made available for the two types of FWA, Fixed Data Wireless Access(FDWA) and Broadband Fixed Wireless Access, (BFWA). The bands are 3.5Ghz, 10Ghz and 26Ghz. The amount of spectrum to be available on each of them is also being considered, in order to provide excellent and reliable service.
          The NCC however added in the ICD that "there may be other bands suitable"which may be considered "as they become available". It indicated that "the intention is to auction FDWA initially, followed by BFWA" with the proviso that "for FDWA, the aim would be to auction paired channels in both the 3.5Ghz and 10Ghz bands". When eventually operational, FWA will provide users with quick connection "at typically half the time it takes to roll out an alternative access solutions (copper or fibre) and so allows operators a quick, and cheap flexible market entry".
          It is expected that FDWA will be capable of delivering Voice telephony, Data services (always-on access to the internet, and data transfer) with achievable speeds of 64kbps to 2Mbps, which imply cheap and extremely fast internet access.
          Meanwhile, the BFWA services will include:
          Fast always-on access to the Internet;
          high capacity data transfer;
          video conferencing;
          leisure services (interactive games and audio);
          on-line banking and shopping;
          local area network, (LAN), access; and
          web serving and other telephony services.
          The Commission has already promised to publish the Information Memorandum before the end of this week to provide interested operators details of auction procedures and the number of licences that would be available.


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

          For basketball, time to clean the augean stable

          By Ugo Okeke

          Daily Independent

          First it was the football season in the country that took off with out a sponsor. Now the rot has shifted to basketball as a new season for the dunking game beckons. "The game of basketball is gradually losing its appeal, it is saddening when you consider the fact that basketball is the second most popular sports after football but the game has suffered greatly in the hands of those who said they are running it for us.Basketball is dying and if those who know the job are not appointed to manage it, then the chances of the game reclaiming its lost glory are slim" Those were the words of Lt Col Sam Ahmedu, a member of the African Basketball Federation. Ahmedu's outburst which is coming on the heels of the recent criticisms by coaches and players in the premier league which before now enjoyed the sponsorship of 7Up bottling company brings to fore the problems bedevilling the sport that has produced great players like Hakeem Olajuwon, Yinka Dare, Olumide Oyedeji, all of whom have excelled in the highly competitive and rich American NBA league. A lot of pundits say a surgical operation akin to the recent restructuring exercise in the Nigeria Football Association is also needed in basketball's apex body, the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF). The problems rocking the game are purely administrative. Intrigues, power play and the self- interest of a cabal in the NBBF have combined to cripple the game that held high hopes for kids who trooped daily to basketball courts to sharpen their skills with the hope of becoming another Hakeem Olajuwon. The core problem, many believe lies with the absolute power given the NBBF by the Sports Ministry to regulate the game without ensuring that qualified individuals are employed to handle this delicate assignment. A lot of people, mostly government appointees, have at one time or the other headed the NBBF without contributing towards the development of the game while those with proven track records in the administration of the game are either not given the chance or rendered irrelevant when appointed into the board of the NBBF. Prior to the appointment of Hassan Abou Farid, the federation always had difficulty in convincing corporate bodies to take up the sponsorship of the local league. Farid, a Lebanese, within few weeks on the board was able to convince Seven Up bottling company to take up the sponsorship of the league . The deal brought life back into the league and players who had abandoned the game returned to their first love while the basketball secretariat, which was offering skeletal services, bounced back to life. However, the funds tore the board members apart, some members saw the funds as free money to be shared among themselves to the detriment of the players who were supposed to be the main beneficiaries of the money. The in- fighting and blackmail led to the exit of About Farid who claimed that he was been frustrated by some group of people who were working contrary to the goal of the Federation. The exit of the Lebanese gave room for the emergence of factions in the federation. While some openly expressed sympathy for Farid, others pitched their tent with the then NBBF president, U.K Umar. The board members dissipated energy fighting imaginary enemies while the game suffered. The various factions who were bent on taking control of the NBBF secretariat traded accusations and counter accusations. Daily Independent investigations however revealed that the in - fighting was not aimed at getting a better deal for the long- suffering players. The bone of contention was the over one million naira allegedly given the country by the International Basketball Federation for qualifying for the world championships in 1997. A faction allegedly embezzled the money, which was meant for the development of the game in the country, without giving others their 'share'. While the board members were busy fighting to remain relevant, premier league sponsors, Seven up bottling company pulled the rug off their feet by exposing the fraud perpetrated by some members of federation. Humble Chesa, the corporate affairs manager of the bottling company revealed shortly before it pulled out of the sponsorship deal with NBBF that the federation had failed to win its confidence even though it had invested a huge amount of money toward the resuscitation of the league. Chesa, piqued by the federation's lack of accountability, said the NBBF may find it difficult securing sponsors for its programmes if it fails to put its house in order. He alleged that the NBBF has been short changing the teams in the premier league. According to him, the federation abandoned their duty to the clubs after receiving money from the sponsors for the maintenance of the dilapidated court of the Indoor Sports hall of the National Stadium, venue of most league games in the Atlantic Conference. He said home teams were asked instead to repair the court each time it caved in during league games, a decision the sponsors frowned at. He also alleged that the NBBF after receiving money for the repairs of the two score boards in the sports hall refurbished only one. But the scribe of the Nigeria basketball federation, Chinedu Ezeala ,denied the allegation, stating that the federation has set up a committee to dialogue with the bottling company with the aim of settling the differences between both parties. NBBF, is in fact in a dilemma as it has failed to secure sponsors for the programmes it plans to carry out this season. The new NBBF board led by Buba Gyang has been negotiating with some sponsors without much success. The uncertainty in the local scene has led to the exodus of players to minor leagues in Angola, Lithuania and Saudi Arabia in search of action. The federation has also come under heavy criticism from proprietors of female basketball teams for what was described as the federation's lack of interest in female basketball. Wale Aboderin,the proprietor of Dolphins lambasted the NBBF for their lack of developmental programmes and short- sightedness which, he said, has contributed to the sorry state of female basketball. He challenged the new board to correct the anomaly or face the wrath of female team proprietors. The current state of confusion in the house of basketball in the country points to the fact that there is urgent need to reshape the federation in both administrative style and personnel.

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          Fragrant flights of fancy

          By Sola Balogun
          Daily Independent

          If someone is about to travel to France, the usual request from friends or relations is that he or she should bring perfumes as gifts. Perfumes are simply synonymous with France such that the European country itself, though widely reputed for fashion and glamour, is equally notable for its exquisite luxury, and perfumes easily come in as the first products to be reckoned with. During an interview in Paris recently, a popular dealer in perfumes who pleaded anonymity disclosed that nine out of every 10 women and one out of every two men in Paris use perfumes, and that the figures have not dropped in the last10 years. A confirmation of this assertion came through a recent report that the growth rate of the perfume industry is on daily increase in France, as there is hardly any street or market, particularly in Paris, that the visitor did not sight a perfume shop. While France is the world's perfume headquarters, there is a growing tradition in Nigeria which appears to be taking after the French culture. But in Nigeria, the love of perfumes is said to follow a peculiar trend that is rested on followership rather than addiction. This is because majority of the users, especially the youth, would rather go for particular brands for which their peers are known rather than chose ones that suit them most. But among the middle aged and the elderly, there could be some level of conservatism in the choice of brands. A female journalist who has for ten years abandoned other brands for Venus Gold, a perfume produced locally by PZ said that ever since she discovered the product, she had been stick to it because" Ordinarily, most Nigerians won't want to go for Venus Gold because it's made here in Nigeria, but I tell you, it's good for me though I can still afford the foreign brands if I want'' On what the youths prefer, the middle-aged journalist observed "Most young people buy the latest brands just because of labels and price tag, only a few bother to discover the quality of these products. She listed a number of top brands in vogue, including Escada, Freedom, Valentino, Hugo, 5th Avenue, 24 Faubourg, Kenzo(By Hermes), Giorgio Armani, Obsession, Annais Annais, Channel 5, Bvlgary as well as Amarige, Extra Vagance and Organza, all made by Givenchy. For the elderly ones, the use of perfumes is also linked to particular designers. And this is why the highly placed usually go for the brands in vogue. Some of them, according to a Lagos-based businesswoman, usually compete for the latest brands, which are either directly imported by the dealers or bought by friends or relations from Europe and America. The woman equally disclosed how Avon products were so popular in the 1970s and the 1980s in Nigeria, and how they are still popular among the older people nowadays. However, unlike what obtains in Europe, there is hardly a distinct perfume culture among the children in Nigeria, but quite often, the children make do with their parents' brands or copy brands from the adolescents and the youth. In cases where children are introduced to perfumes or fragrances early in life, they grow with it unconsciously to develop their own love for particular brands. In France, there has been an irrepressible growth of children's perfumes such that they are specially put on sale at shops and boutiques. Although the sale of children perfumes is said to be a recent trend, some Europeans recollect that the children's clothing label Tartine and Chocolat were the first to launch a perfume with P'itt Senson, followed by Agnes B, Jacardi, Bon Point, and Clayeux. The craze for perfumes has so taken root in France that from industrialists to the working class people, as well as lovers, the youth and children, perfumes are not only popular but are used as symbols of luxury and sensuality. They are also objects of refinement or expressions of inner feelings and moods. This is probably why the scents given by these perfumes often reflect the personality or comments on the status of the wearer. For lovers, perfumes are exchanged as reminders of flourishing relationships or simply put on as attractive signals; to arouse amorous feelings or in more serious cases, seduce the opposite sex. Young girls particularly, are fond of perfumes and they find it exciting and comfortable to discuss the different brands. Majority of the girls go for popular brands like the Eden, So pretty, Poeme and Poison, an old brand, which still enjoys patronage among the young and the old. Like young lovers, older people, including couples in the working and business classes in Europe also find perfumes exciting. They exchange these products like the younger ones and wear them to their offices and social engagements. Other brands like the Paco, Palace, Tiffany and Trueste are in high demand just as new entrants are launched by the day. Beyond the need for luxury or sensuality, the perfume industry in France is no doubt a mainstay of that country's economy. While the product is often seen as frivolous, always displaying a fleeting effect, it nevertheless, remains one of the most reliable and sustainable sources of income. One of the French companies, which manufacture them is called L'Oreal. It is said to have recently come closely after its American counterparts such as Estee Lauder, which has been making a yearly turnover in perfumes of over FF6 billion ($ 1.2 billion) since the late 1990s. The French perfumes and cosmetics manufacturers, which continue to thrive in the business till date include Lancome, Ralph Lauren, Guy Laroche, Paloma Picasso, Giorgio Armani and Cacharel. But the hottest brand in this group is, according to some ardent perfume users, the Louis-Vuitton-Moet Hennessy (LVMH).The average turnover of these manufacturers on a yearly basis is put at about FF5.4 billion ($1billion). Aside the major manufacturers, there are smaller companies that are cashing in on the success of the bigger ones.Some of these include Annick Guotal and Cartier. The emergence of the smaller manufacturers resulted in stiffer competition in addition to spurring inflation. Again, the firms started investing in large-scale distribution apart from spending fortunes on advertisement. In Paris, most leading perfume companies initially sold their products exclusively at the brands' boutiques, but with time, and specifically in the late1990s, more perfumes flooded the markets and were sold or distributed at the popular shelves, departmental shops and supermarkets On the whole, France occupies the prime position global perfume manufacturing. Since the experiment began in the 18th Century in Grasse, a town on the French Riveria, there has been no going back. Other societies, like America and Asia equally discovered the magic of scents in flowers at one stage or the other In France, it all started with the planting of flowers and collection of animal essences such as musk and amber. These later became the basic ingredients of all perfumes. In fact, the growth of flowers such as roses, irises, jasmine, lavender mimosa among others in Grasse was said to have propelled the movement of the seat of perfumes from Paris to the French Riveria. The latter used to be a small town perched on the foothills of the Alpes-de-Haute- Provence an area heavily populated by people who work to make perfumes and aromas. Today, Grasse is not just a world industrial centre, but a tourist cum agricultural headquarters for many luxury products Moreover, specialists in beauty and hygiene products for many decades have introduced modern techniques, which have also brought many changes to the sector. This trend, according to Mrs Evelyn Massiere, a beautician who runs a perfumes shop around Champs de Elysse ultimately led to the evolution of perfumes as industrial products. She said:" These days, perfumes are indeed startling. These are adored so much with their freshness and marine touch. As we have it in fashion and in other artistic creations, success comes through the avenue offered by a smooth encounter between the public and a certain sensitivity�For this, the perfume through the maker develops a character alongside its brand name, then, it exudes its unique luxury, sensuality, mystery, image and what have you'' The process of creating a perfume involves a blend of several dozens of essences. First, the specialists refer to what is known as the 'key notes,'otherwise referred to as the fragrance. The second group is the 'core notes' that refer to that fragrance that give the perfume its character. The last group is the 'basic notes' that holds the entire structure together. While creating the product, the specialist mixes the 'notes' that are fruity or tart, woody, flowery or sensual. Some of these experts work for particular houses or brands and are bound by the employers' preferences and qualities.


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          The world has failed children, says report

          By Ozolua Uhakheme
          Daily Independent

          The world has broken its promises to children, making them suffer worsening neglect, the latest report of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), has said. Painting a pathetic picture of how badly the world's children have fared, the global body narrated the moving story of Ayodele. According to it, "Ayodele is now 10 years old, going on 11 and, though she does not know it, she has been let down. Her life has not changed for the better. She cannot go to school, as she is obliged to work at home and in the fields. In any case, school is too expensive. She cannot read or count beyond a very basic level. She has no idea of her rights. But she is lucky to be alive. Two of her siblings born since the 1990 Summit for Children died from preventable childhood diseases." The report, tagged The State of the World's Children 2002, said more than 10 million under-five children still die each year from preventable causes; 149 million in developing countries suffer from malnutrition; more than 100 million are still not in primary school--the majority being girls; and millions are still caught up in child labour, trafficking, prostitution, and conflict. Similarly, the report notes that while child poverty in almost every country in the European Union has increased over the last 20 years, the proportion of public expenditure on children has diminished-- even as government coffers reaped the benefits of global economic expansion. It also adds that broken promises hurt the children of the 1990s stressing that despite outstanding examples of progress for children in the last decade, most governments have not lived up to the promises made at the 1990 World Summit for Children. Significantly, the UNICEF report details numerous examples of how enlightened leadership and a thorough commitment to children has paid off in lower child mortality, improved child health and education, and gains in overall human development. Among many examples, the report also cites the timeless inspiration of Costa Rican President Jose Figueres, who in 1948 abolished his country's army and transferred the defence budget to the education budget at a stroke. Today, Costa Rica has the best human development statistics in its region, including an under-five mortality rate that is one-third that of its neighbours. The report was to be presented at a UN Special Session on children last November in New York, but was postponed till May 8 and 10 this year following the September 11 terrorist attack on World Trade Centre. In her introductory statement to the report shortly before the summit was postponed, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy urged leaders gathering at the summit to "seize this opportunity to finish unfinished business. We know what needs to be done. Now we need leaders to step forward and do it. "Our report not only looks at the state of the world's children but also at the state of the world's leadership. To a large degree, although they don't know it, the children of the 1990s were let down. The gains made, while important, were significantly less than what we had all anticipated when the decade began. "Given the accumulation of resources and know-how in the world today, we have really fallen short of our collective potential. Some among us have achieved great things, but collectively we have under-achieved. The difference was leadership."

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          THE FEDERALIST

          Crutches All

          By Greg Obong-Oshotse

          Bola Ige, I am told, insisted on addressing the late sage simply as Obafemi Awolowo. A deeper reverence than the mere self-serving servility of many followers dictated his decision. Not that he called the old man by his names on a one on one basis. No, not at all. He was too much of a cultural ambassador to have done despite to the values of his race.
          For the classicist and lawyer, the logic was simple enough for everyone to see. The point was to have history enter his name in its honours roll simply as Obafemi Awolowo. He didn't need to 'Chief', 'Doctor' or 'Barrister' him. These were but meaningless appendages and unnecessary crutches for a man who, physically and psychologically, stood firm and walked erect, his shoulders held high to the admiration of his teeming followers. No defect whatsoever forced on him the humiliation of such an Orwellian ordeal.
          As far as he was concerned, the name was greater than any titles or honours that may be appended to it. No title could make the name nobler than it already was. Indeed, such titles could have the unintended effect of dimming the brightness of the star. For, each title would tend merely to put the man in a box too small for him.
          History corroborates the point all too well. Napoleon Bonaparte was the dread of Europe in his days. Of that era, historians like to say, "When France sneezes, Europe catches cold." He was an emperor, a general and a conqueror. And he was a number of other things still. But he didn't have to be trussed up, garnished and helped to stand with Aminian (Dada Idi Amin) bombast and buffoonery.
          History simply calls him Napoleon Bonaparte. The mere mention of the name is enough to conjure up images of the exploits that made him great. If you will give a man titles before he can stand out in a crowd, literally and figuratively, then that man certainly is not great. And he does not deserve the title in the first place.
          Take also the example of Alexander the great. This is a case where the appellation has become one with the name. His exploits were so phenomenal that they bordered on the magical and had to be eulogized by a world rendered motionless by his wondrous feats. Alexander was a general. You could call him a Field Marshall, though I doubt that the title existed then. He was, like Napoleon, also a conqueror and military genius, but of a rarefied type. Alexander used to weep that his father, Phillip, who also was a mighty conqueror, was colonising so many nations that he feared that there would be no place left to conquer when he succeeded his father as king! The man was barely 20 when he became king and in less than 13 years, he had conquered about half of the then known world! An early death from a mosquito bite terminated his sweeping march across the globe.
          But few people today remember that his surname was Macedon. Every one simply calls him Alexander the great. In fact, most educated people are likely to think first of this war prodigy at the mere mention of the name, Alexander, than of any other notable bearer of the name. Just so is it with Napoleon.
          And we can say the same for hundreds of other all-time greats that are faithfully embalmed in the warm pantheon of history. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa, Kwame Nkrumah, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela and hundreds more may be mentioned. What may pass here for the exception to the rule will be found, not surprisingly, from the rank of royalty. Lord this, Archduke that or Prince so and so. It is so difficult to dislodge royal perks! However, it is cheering that some of the greatest who ever lived are known by just one-word names. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are all legends in their own right. These Greek philosophers were thinkers and teachers, two humble but very ennobling trades. Yet they stand out, head and shoulders, above all. They have dominated Western thought for more than twenty centuries. But the greatest of them all remains Jesus. The incarnated Messiah and resurrected Saviour is, all over the world and throughout time, addressed as Jesus. His followers simply live by that.
          The lesson in all this is that titles do not confer greatness on a man. Men, on the contrary, ought to confer greatness on the titles that they bear. Honour a fool with a title and he will be a fool still. You might as well hope to turn a thief into a priest by the mere change of nomenclature as turn a goat into a dolphin by throwing it in the sea. Yet this is what we seem to want to do in our society. Men who didn't go to school pilfer a pot of money somewhere and go shopping for rank, picking up chieftaincy titles and honourary degrees all over the place as one would pellets of ice in winter. The sad thing is that even the educated have joined in this orgy of lowbred desire.
          It may help us to realise that the really developed parts of the world, which we try to ape in most things, see it as a mark of progress to move away from such relics. To be distinguished other than by talent and real merit is to win unnecessary privilege and an undue advantage over your fellow man. It drags every one down because when mediocrity reigns, excellence withdraws. Certainly, only a deformity of sorts will necessitate the use of crutches, which is what far too many of our titles are. It is worse when our leaders and elite need them.

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          THE CRUCIBLE

          The limits of Aluta

          By John Oseze-Langley

          I can hear the Presidency clinking glasses and backslapping already. I can imagine the grin; the kind you see on a man celebrating a suppressed triumph over an arch enemy. I can hear the roaring laughter in the hallowed chambers of Aso Rock, as President Olusegun Obasanjo congratulates himself and his hatchet-men for what has proved to be a profitable manoeuvre, his foresight.
          This time last year, it was inconceivable that labour President, Adams Oshiomhole would end up put as one of those activists that can be caged. He rode the crest of populism. His name was on every lip. Government dreaded him. Civil servants and the masses, saw in him, possible hope for redemption. And they had a reason to think so: The National Assembly had messed-up their mandate. When they should be making laws for their betterment, they were busy awarding contracts to themselves; talking big, using confusing, bombastic language like 'anticipatory approvals' and 'oversight functions' as blankets with which they spirit our taxes abroad into private accounts. While the people groaned, in pain and neglect, Senators and Honourables were building more houses and buying cars for their mistresses. It was that bad. So peeved and smarting from a perceived no-nonsense background, Oshiomhole quickly earned the epithet of 'stormy petrel'. He was one man every frustrated Nigerian wanted to hear speak. He aggregated the collective aspirations of the hopeless, the oppressed. But towards the end of last year, the tune began to change.
          The drumbeats were getting strange, and so were the labour leader's dancing steps. From the labour leaders involvement in staff matters of First Bank through his appointment to the Committee on the appropriate pricing of petroleum products headed by Rasheed Gbadamosi, up to his curious position on the argument for price hike, before the recent volte, face, revealed a man in battle. At the beginning, he had good intentions. He wanted to stand and be counted on the side of the people. But Nigeria is not one country for virtuous people. So, from several directions, he has been pilloried. You may not believe it, the politicians knew quite well, this Edo-born labour leader had to be tamed if they must have their way. And that was exactly what they did between January 17 and 21 when labour declared dispute with the powers that be.
          It would be unnecessary to go into how Obasanjo got the better part of Oshiomhole - who doubtlessly, is also a victim of betrayal from the ranks of labour itself. But it is now on record that Aremu gave him a good hiding: First, was his detention and two subsequent appearances in the court. Oshiomhole has attempted to laugh off the portends of the post-strike travails as "one of the good things of democracy". But for whatever it was worth, the strike exposed the underbelly of our political process charted by President Olusegun Obasanjo who is growing increasingly more corrupted by power and unpopular by the day. Oshiomhole now knows, if he did not before the faulted strike, that politicians in mufti, can be more deadly than their military counterparts we have not ceased from condemning in unprintable words. He now knows that Aremu would not brook opposition to his anti-people policies at a time common sense dictates total empowerment of the oppressed. Add to that is the fact that Oshiomhole may have started paying, though much too early in the day, for his undisguised political ambition. Not a few, even in Labour caucus are mouthing the possibilities of the iconoclast eyeing the most powerful job in the land. A labour party led by him is even on the cards. Mark you, Obasanjo is not so na�ve as not to know the ramifications of allowing a Labour party at this critical period of his failure. Oshiomhole underestimated his foes and called them friends. When next he is launching an 'attack' he would be operating with a foreknowledge of the size of their arsenals. Activism has failed to yield fruit in this country because between labour and the people, it has never gone the full distance!
          So like an aberrant teenager, a thorn in the skin, Baba got Oshiomhole grounded. Our labour leader has been told clearly to stay away from the hawks. He has been cautioned not to mix labour struggle with politics. He has never been a politician, he would never be!
          But it would be wrong to write Oshiomhole off. A thin veneer exists between where labour matters stop and politics start. And politicians would rather not experience or talk about it. It is an explosive subject they just cannot deal with, the same way they find it difficult to deal with tolerance; opposition in politics and politics of inclusion. Our dear Oshiomhole may have been rattled, pulverised in the mud, but he is not about to tuck his tail between his legs as would a vanquished dog. He has made an unassailable statement. That this thing called fuel hike two-and-a-half years into democracy achieved at very huge costs; this increase two months after government declared 'surplus' and shared proceeds from a providential oil windfall; this wicked act aimed at further taking the good things of life beyond the common man, is one vacuous decision too many taken by the present government. Oshiomhole is being hounded because, his pitfalls aside, he has called the people to stop our wicked civilian leaders from making Nigeria hell on earth! We all pray for good things for our children and our country. But our political class has other ideas. In Nigeria, there is limit to Aluta.

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          VISTAS

          Yesterday as hostage

          By Dianam Dakolo

          "Time is a dynamic flow," the Philosophy teacher used to say. Students had little difficulty comprehending, because facts pertaining to the phenomenon were directly observable: the ceaseless, rhythmic ticking of the clock, the ineluctable cyclical progression from sunrise, through sunset, to dark. Extrapolating, teacher and students were unanimous that as a day rolls past, and qualifies as yesterday, all that is associated with it goes into history. The succeeding day is distinct, dated uniquely, with its own panorama for chroniclers to capture as events of human history. But, now, as I can see, something about today could leave one believing that the progression of time has been arrested, that yesterday is entrapped in the present, as when events and social circumstances take on a strong character of changelessness.
          Last July 23, Ekiti State Director of the National Orientation Agency told newsmen: "I can assure you that since we embarked on mass mobilisation, nationwide, between 80 and 85 per cent of the Nigerian populace now agree with the Federal Government on the need for deregulation." (The Punch, July 24, 2001, p.7). With that purported national consensus, he believed that fuel prices could be raised with minimal - if any - resistance. On the strength of that make-believe, the Federal Government announced an 18-35 per cent increase in the prices of petroleum products. The Nigeria Labour Congress, responding to the groundswell of civic discontent, issued a 7-day ultimatum. On January 16, it called out workers on a nationwide strike. "Strike sends Lagos to bed", was how a leading paper reported the effect of the action in the nation's commercial/industrial capital. All over the country's state capitals, with the exception of Enugu, it was same.
          Government had its fingers scalded, even though it eventually suppressed the leadership of the central labour movement. The protests may have been checkmated, but no one is in doubt about their negative impact on the economy and, by extension, the rating of the Government, locally and abroad. It was the price of self-deception, of official disinformation, the stock-in-trade of Information Ministers under Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha (late). It is instructive that the Federal Government, piqued by the ineffectiveness of the deregulation campaigns, has directed the presidential technical team appointed for the purpose to account for N150 million expended in the exercise. (The Guardian, January 20, 2002, p.1). So, like the Technical Board of NEPA that had to prattle about 4,000 megawatts rather than rue its failure to deliver the "uninterrupted power supply" promise, the deregulation campaigners resorted to fabrication.
          Still on product pricing and Government's insistence on market forces, there is ample evidence of double-speak, a notable trait of the two infamous regimes above. At the launch of the 1998 and 1999 Human Development Reports by the United Nations Development Programme, in Abuja, on August 19, 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo stated that free market economics does not have to be the primary basis for determination of prices of essential utilities and services. According to him, poverty alleviation and eradication would be a difficult task in Nigeria, if policies are based entirely on market forces and macro-economic stability (THISDAY, August 20, 1999, p.1). Now, when Government decides to hike prices of petroleum products on the bases of international price movements and import parity, is the populace not being exposed to policy options worse than market-determined pricing?
          Nigerians who watched President Obasanjo disparage General Abdulsalami Abubakar on a live Questions and Answers Programme of the global satellite television, Cable News Network (CNN), September 6, 1999, were tempted to believe that the era of profligacy and official corruption was over. He was impassioned in his denunciation of his predecessor for unbridled public spending and mismanagement of national resources. It was natural to expect that the findings and recommendations of the Christopher Kolade Panel on Review of Contracts (established by President Obasanjo) would be carefully studied and implemented. But, like it was in previous administrations, from Alhaji Shehu Shagari's to Abubakar's, no concrete action has been taken.
          In fact, profligacy, unbridled spending and disregard for public service financial rules and regulations, are at their worst, today. For instance, the Federal Tenders Board, which President Obasanjo promised in his inauguration speech (May 29, 1999) to reactivate, was sidelined when contracts worth $3.65 billion were awarded for importation of petroleum products between October, 1999 and October 2000. Importation of the sort is the statutory responsibility of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), but, as it was in the Abacha years, the political imperatives of clientelism and patrimonialism dictated Government's decision. Then the N38 billion Abuja Stadium. No public tenders, and one is yet to find the project reflected in any Appropriation Act. And only last December, Federal legislators received N3 million each as Christmas bonus, even when tens of thousands of pensioners of federal parastatals have remained without their paltry pensions for upwards of 10 months, as in Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
          For those who read Dr. Chukwemeka Ezeife's prescription that the 2003 elections be shifted to allow the 'nascent' democracy to stabilize (THISDAY, December 4, 2001 p.11), the emergence of the misbegotten Electoral Act 2001 could not have been a surprise. As a Political Adviser to the man believed to have masterminded the interjection of Section 80(1) of the Act, his standpoint is interpretable as reflective of official thinking. And who does not know that the stipulations of the Act were as mischievous as contraptions devised by General Babangida and Abacha for self-succession.
          Across the nation, today, the signs are that yesterday is with us, notwithstanding the colourful rites of passage at the Eagle Square, Abuja, on May 29, 1999. With a cash-and-carry National Assembly, what else does one need to relive memories of legislative business during General Babangida's botched Third Republic (1993). In the composition of the Federal cabinet/power blocks at the centre, and in the predilections and proclivities of public functionaries, all one can find are images of eras supposed to have gone by. The lingering atmosphere of uncertainty and apprehension, mysterious assassinations/murders and fear of cover-ups, the spectre of state terrorism, and the frightening deterioration of social conditions, point to one reality: rulers of today have held yesterday hostage. And they are not about to let it go, to make way for a new dawn. But, if time has any real dynamism, then the liberation of yesterday should come somehow, someday.

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          ASTERISK

          Goodnight, Nigeria

          By Emman Usman Shehu
          E-mail: prohabe@...

          The curse of Nigeria is her leaders. There can be no better proof than the charade that played out in the Senate on January 22, 2002. The same lawmakers who forged an Electoral Act turned round to repeal it, and gave one of the principal fraudsters - the Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, Grand Commander of the Order of Nigeria (GCON) - a clean-bill of health. These lawmakers, especially the 75 who had no qualms in backing Anyim, have shown conclusively that they are un- principled and morally bankrupt.
          Exactly ten days before this show of shame in Abuja, a former American Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance passed away. Apart from the capable manner in which Vance fared in that highest post in the cabinet, he did something that won him international acclaim as a principled statesman. In 1980 when President Jimmy Carter approved a plan to rescue 52 Americans held hostage in the capital of Iran, Vance objected because he felt the element of force involved would jeopardise lives. Vance made it clear that whether the operation was a failure or success he was going to resign because the decision was against his conscience. True to his words he put in his resignation without any fanfare. The operation to rescue the prisoners in Teheran went ahead but ended in a debacle. At that point the Secretary of State's resignation was made public for the first time, in recognition of what he stood for - principle and honour. He was not accused of sabotaging the administration or being unpatriotic.
          A leader cannot be principled if he is not honest. He also cannot be honest if he is morally bankrupt. A leader who is morally bankrupt has no respect for the rule of law. It is the rule of law that guarantees order and safety in a society, thereby providing an enabling environment for progress. One of the reasons for the success of democracy as a mode of governance is the critical role the rule of law plays. In all the developed nations there is no disguising the fact that the rule of law is sacrosanct. Thus no one is allowed to be above the law regardless of his position. Leaders in such places resign at the slightest misdemenour as an act of contrition, even before the relevant sanctions of the law are applied.
          When a nation chooses to sweep respect for law under the carpet, it finds itself thrown into a state of moral turpitude. And it is the leaders who always start this awful process of pushing the society into the cesspit. In Nigeria we have been cursed with leaders who have feudal and military tendencies. For these people leadership is only a means of personal enrichment at the expense of the larger society. They turn blind eyes to the standards that go with the various positions of leadership. Thus they approach every issue, every situation, and every problem, based on their own self-serving agenda rather than that of the common-good. Not for them the progress of the nation, but if that happens incidentally in the course of their personal advancement, all well and good.
          In such a situation deceit becomes an acceptable instrument of governance. Slogans are spewed all over the place to give a semblance of seriousness and commitment to the progress of the nation. But the sloganeering is merely a smokescreen for the exploitation of the nation. Meanwhile decadence becomes more manifest at all levels; values that underscore uprightness are hastily discarded for the ones that steadily corrode the nation's soul. In the same way that such individuals have allowed their conscience to be eroded by worshiping at the altar of wrong values. Thus it becomes very easy not just to break the law, but to also avoid facing the wrath of the law at all costs, as those who forged the Electoral Act have now done. It also becomes very easy to forget that breaking the law is tantamount to committing a crime against the people, for it is the people that make the nation.
          When lawmakers become lawbreakers and show no compunction in the manner they absolve themselves of guilt, they show they have no respect for the people. They also show that they really do not care about the people. Of course this is not unexpected in a milieu like ours where self-service is the underlying objective of leadership.
          A democracy that thrives on disregarding the rule of law is doomed. Since the Fourth Republic emerged on May 29, 1999 the penchant for governance through illegalities has become increasingly pronounced. Indeed it has become the accepted method of governance. The catalogue of illegalities keeps growing by the day. The rule of law is certainly not one of the pillars of our so-called democracy. Since such a vital pillar is non-existent it has become very easy to get away with decisions that are clearly crimes against the people. It has become very easy to talk about anti-corruption and transparency in one breath, and in the same breath bribe lawmakers to enact worthless laws. It has become so easy to talk about justice and respect for human rights, and simultaneously empower illegal bodies to enact far-reaching decisions on the polity. It is so easy to shout democracy from the top of the rock, and still arrest people who go on strike to counter an illegal and draconian legislation.
          This is our democracy where President Olusegun Obasanjo can aid and abet forgery and he does not see that he has committed a crime against the people. What kind of legacy do the members of the national assembly who deliberately and unlawfully changed the contents of the Electoral Act want to leave for posterity? The actions of our leaders thus far, show clearly that we do not have upright leaders. Their nauseating performance on January 22, 2002 leaves no doubt the extent to which evil has taken a hold over this nation. Their behaviour was most ungoldly. When ungodliness thrives, and enjoys official endorsement in a nation, then its destruction is assured. It is a cursed nation. Our leaders have become the source of the curse that haunts and stultifies us. A new Nigeria can only emerge when the present mess is totally and absolutely exorcised. Until then, for now it is goodnight Nigeria. No kidding.

           


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        • Nubi Achebo
          Monday February 25, 2002 Arewa moves against ex-generals IBB s presidential bid suffers setback By Kenneth Ezea Daily Independent Faced with diminishing
          Message 4 of 5 , Feb 25, 2002
          • 0 Attachment
            Monday February 25, 2002


            Arewa moves against ex-generals
            IBB's presidential bid suffers setback

            By Kenneth Ezea

            Daily Independent
            Faced with diminishing political fortunes, the Arewa
            Consultative Forum (ACF) has resolved never to allow
            any retired military person or policeman to fly the
            northern flag in future presidential elections.
            And it would also not accept any retired soldier as
            presidential candidate in the other zones of the
            country. The implication, according to a high-ranking
            ACF official, is that no military persons will be
            allowed to rule Nigeria again.
            "Having rejected the ex-military rulers from the
            North, it stands to reason that we will not accept any
            retired soldier from any other part of the country",
            he said. The resolve is the idea of the forum's
            think-tank, its intellectual arm, said to be
            co-ordinated by Alhaji Muhammadu Gambo Jimeta,
            one-time inspector-general of Police. The idea has
            become a key strategy, as the North tries to
            articulate its fortunes and interests within the
            Nigerian equation.
            The decision, which is an obvious setback for the
            ambition of former military president, Ibrahim
            Badamasi Babangida, to contest the 2003 presidential
            elections, was arrived at after exhaustive
            deliberations on what would best serve the interest of
            the North in the current democratic dispensation.
            Although the decision is not targeted primarily at
            Babangida, the group acknowledges that if indeed he
            had an ambition to contest the 2003 polls, it would be
            against the interest of the North, adding that it is
            either he drops the idea, or the zone scuttles it.
            The ACF, in taking the decision, is said to be aware
            that, being a non-partisan group with former military
            leaders as patrons, targeting any particular person
            would be like a declaration of war capable of
            destabilising it.
            Consequently, many reasons were articulated to
            persuade the rank and file of ACF and other northern
            politicians to understand why it would be in the
            interest of the North to support people without
            military backgrounds in future presidential elections.
            Besides, a source hinted in Abuja that the ACF may
            have also decided that the current resentment suffered
            by the core North from their former regional political
            allies in the Middle Belt, South South and South East,
            was a result of the leadership style of the erstwhile
            military rulers, stressing that the North would be
            more mistrusted if the former dictators are allowed to
            regain power through the ballot box. "Nigeria is not
            going to be polarised forever like the Middle East. At
            a point in time, every group has to sacrifice
            something for all of us to live together in peace",
            the source, which pleaded anonymity, said.
            "The point being made is that it is in the interest of
            the North to groom a new set of leaders without
            military backgrounds, as the zone stands to lose if
            the men of yesterday are allowed to lord it over the
            rest of the people in the zone, while other zones are
            fielding their best who are devoid of military
            backgrounds", he said.
            The source also argued, for instance, that it is the
            northern military actors who overthrew former
            president, Shehu Shagari, on December 31,1983, that
            also groomed the late Moshood Abiola, whose annulled
            presidential victory in 1993 caused grave problems for
            the country.
            Accusing the generals of betrayal, the ACF said if
            other candidates had not been disqualified to make way
            for Abiola, he would not have made it to the
            Presidency. It also listed the alleged imposition of
            President Olusegun Obasanjo as the People's Democratic
            Party (PDP) candidate in 1999 by the conspiracy of the
            former military rulers, insisting that their
            permutation has turned out to be regrettable.
            However, the group foresees two problems. One is how
            to handle the ambition of Alhaji Mohammed Dikko Yusufu
            should he get more involved in partisan politics. As a
            retired inspector-general, the report clearly is not
            in his favour.

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

            Abuja 2003: Volunteers' recruitment begin

            By Ben Alaiya

            Daily Independent
            The recruitment of volunteers for next year's All
            Africa Games tagged Abuja 2003 will begin this week
            across the 36 states of the federation and Abuja.
            Executive Director of the games organizing committee
            tagged COJA 2003, Dr Amos Adamu said in Lagos at the
            weekend that about 10,000 volunteers would be
            recruited for the games and forms to that effect will
            be issued this week.
            Listing the categories of those who are likely to be
            employed as volunteers, he said they would be
            professionals like Ambassadors, Medical Doctors, Youth
            Corp Members and other professionals. "What I will
            assure you is that we will not admit jobless
            individuals and the so called miscreant into our fold,
            because we want to bequeath the volunteering tradition
            to Nigeria after the games", he said.
            The volunteers will later undergo a nine-month
            intensive training for the games that is scheduled to
            run from October 4-18 in Abuja.
            Adamu also revealed that the organizing committee is
            expecting 6000 athletes, 1200 officials and 1500
            journalists for the games, which will take place in 14
            centres spread across the city of Abuja.
            The high point of his committee's findings is that the
            sum of 1000,080 (one million and eighty) meals will be
            served to guests and athletes during the games. "That
            tells you we have gone very far in our job of making
            Abuja 2003 a huge success", Adamu said.


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

            Problems at relief centers

            By Bolaji Tunji

            Daily Independent
            As Mrs. Glory Joseph stood in the Red Cross tent at
            the Police College, Ikeja Centre II site for the
            rehabilitation of people affected by the bomb blasts
            of January 27, what was uppermost on her mind was how
            to make sure the relief materials, scattered around
            her, were issued to people with genuine need. It has
            been a task that is proving quite difficult of late.
            As early as 9 a.m., the rehabilitation camp located on
            an open field opposite the college's Officers' Mess
            would have been swollen by a large turnout of women,
            mostly from the army cantonment who had come to
            collect relief materials.
            Though there is nothing wrong in this, Mrs. Joseph's
            problem is that most of them queue more than once to
            collect the same number of items, thus depriving those
            in genuine need of such items. " The same set of
            people kept coming. There was a woman who came here
            when we were giving out stoves, she came to collect
            for the second time but I accosted her. Most of them,
            when they realise that I have recognised them, try to
            hide from me", says Mrs. Joseph, who is also the Red
            Cross camp secretary.
            Ironically, most of the items collected are not used,
            as they are re-sold to some other people. A stove,
            which is sold for about N750 outside, goes for about
            N400 or N500; groundnut oil is sold for N100 while mat
            goes for N300.
            Besides, there are also allegations concerning the
            distribution of the relief items. Many of the victims
            alleged discrimination in the distribution, especially
            those involving clothing materials. "Whenever they had
            to give us clothing, we see them sorting them out.
            They keep the better ones to one side, which they give
            to their relation or people they know. What they give
            to us are the tattered materials", she said.
            Another quipped: " I was even given a National Youth
            Service Corps (NYSC) khaki."
            To another group, the relief materials hardly ever get
            to them. They claimed that officials come in the
            evening with cars to cart away relief materials meant
            for them. "On Tuesday, a trailer brought 2,500 bags of
            rice, 150 bags of beans, 150 bags of sugar, 7,000
            tubers of yam, 3,500 mattresses, 250 cartons each of
            bournvita and powdered milk and 250 cartons of bathing
            soap. I went to the people who brought the materials
            and they gave me the list, saying it was meant for the
            victims of the blast, but by the time we came this
            morning, we could only find 15 bags of rice and some
            other items", she alleged amid shouts of "Yes," "Yes,"
            "Na true" by other women around.
            Investigation reveals however, that most of the women
            spoke out of ignorance, as they do not know how the
            rehabilitation centre operates. An official explained
            that the items in question were brought by the Syrian
            community in Nigeria. "When the items arrived, we had
            to distribute among the voluntary agencies around. We
            have the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the
            National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the
            Lagos State government agency. And each of these
            agencies have their stands where they take care of
            people."
            "As for the Red Cross, we took our own items to the
            Maryland Comprehensive College where we have our
            store. So, when these people see all these, they
            believe some people shared the items but that is not
            the case", he said. On clothing, the official said the
            problem they initially faced was that they just gave
            out materials without checking. "But we discovered
            that some of them, especially women, come back to
            inform us that we had given them male apparel. So in
            order to forestall that, we now organised some people
            to sort out the clothing before they are given out",
            he said. But these are not the only problems of the
            rehabilitation centres. The volunteers and relief
            agencies also have to cope with the problems of army
            wives, who insist that they had to share in the relief
            package despite an order from the cantonment that they
            should not be given anything as provision has been
            made for them at the Abalti Barracks. Says Mrs.
            Joseph, "though the army said we should not give out
            relief materials to their people, we still try to give
            them because we had already given out ration cards to
            some of them when we were in the barracks. So whenever
            they present the cards, we give them".
            "And in order to prevent unscrupulous people from
            collecting items more than they should, the centre has
            stopped issuing out cards.
            "What we now do is to go to the areas that were
            affected outside the barracks to assess the damage,
            and issue relief materials to people in such areas.
            Last Monday and Tuesday, we were in Onigbongbo area,
            Maryland. From there, we shall go to Alasia and Bolade
            in Oshodi. So, what we tell people in genuine distress
            is to go back to their homes and we shall come to
            them," the camp secretary said. These notwithstanding,
            what readily comes to mind during a visit to the
            centre is a rowdy market scene. With tents scattered
            all over the open field and women with empty bags of
            rice in hand, the impression of a market scene becomes
            so glaring. By a corner of the camp is a stand on
            which were placed about eight water tanks. Tents from
            different relief agencies, including army tents, also
            gave the place the impression of a market scene. In
            some tents, doctors give prescriptions and drugs,
            while in another tent belonging to the Salvation Army,
            food was being served to people, who jostled each
            other to get vantage positions, in a long queue. Also,
            at the Red Cross tent, two long queues had formed as
            relief materials were being given out. By late
            evening, some of the women could be seen with their
            empty bags now fully loaded with different items
            waiting for vehicles to take them " home".
            But at the Abalti Barracks, Ojuelegba, the situation
            is much more normal as there is an orderliness to the
            rehabilitation centre. It was gathered that there were
            116 families made up of 739 people presently being
            accommodated on the open field of the barracks. Army
            tents also dot the entire field, while laundry lines
            adorned the sides of the tent.
            People waited patently in a corner to collect fried
            rice and meat being served for lunch. Behind the
            administrative office and close to the medical blocks,
            a woman stood in charge of people cooking for the
            displaced. She said about 900 people are fed daily. "
            In the morning, we serve them tea with bread and
            butter. For lunch, we serve fried rice and joloff
            rice, while yam porridge is served in the evening,"
            she explains to the visitors.
            One of the victims noted that though they are being
            adequately taken care of, "mosquito is one of our
            biggest headaches."
            This fact was acknowledged by an officer in the
            barracks who said that the Ministry of Health had
            supplied a few bednets which could not go round the
            people. With about four single spring beds in each of
            the tents, the people also have to contend with the
            midday sun. And it is not out of place to see many of
            them sitting under trees. But these may come to an end
            soon as the construction giant; Julius Berger, has
            nearly completed the construction of temporary
            shelters for the victims in each of the rehabilitation
            centres.

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

            Obasanjo, N/Assembly: A frosty relationship

            By Bisi Abidoye
            Daily Independent
            The House of Representatives did not meet the February
            14 target it set for itself for passing the 2002
            Appropriation Bill. But it was not for lack of effort.
            Between January 29 and February 11, the House
            suspended plenary sittings to free members for
            committee work on the budget. For the purpose of
            appropriation, standing committees are deemed to be
            sub-committees of the Appropriation Committee. Each
            considers estimates for the ministries, departments
            and agencies under its charge and reports back to the
            Appropriation Committee, which deliberates on the
            report and then writes a comprehensive report to the
            committee of the House. When the House resumed plenary
            sittings recently, it was not to sit as the "Committee
            of Supply," which is what the House becomes when it
            deliberates on the report of the Appropriation
            Committee. That did not happen because the committee
            was not ready with its report. Most of the
            sub-committees were busy on the budget, with some
            still holding public hearings. Early this month, the
            Committee on Finance invited the Minister of Finance,
            Malam Adamu Ciroma, his top officials, and officials
            of key financial institutions to a public hearing on
            the Finance Bill, which is the revenue side of the
            budget. Appropriation and Finance are the subjects of
            the two draft bills presented to the legislature by
            the executive after the budget speech of the
            president. With so much to do on the budget, you would
            not expect the House to be distracted by other
            legislative concerns. But that was what happened eight
            days ago when passion became inflamed again over a
            motion on the state of the nation. Media
            interpretation of the bill was that impeachment moves
            were being made against President Olusegun Obasanjo.
            The immediate implication of the foregoing, in simple
            terms, is that the 2002 budget will be delayed. Of
            course, it will not be the first time such would
            happen between the president and the National
            Assembly. But what is significant this time is that
            nobody is blaming the legislature for it. Indeed,
            Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly,
            Alhaji Aminu Wali, has praised the "great efforts and
            tremendous progress" of the legislators over the
            budget, even remarking on the "mastery" that is
            manifesting at the National Assembly over the "art of
            budgeting." Despite the acrimony that surrounded the
            long delay of the 1999 (supplementary) and 2000
            Appropriation Bill, budget bills have fared much
            better than other executive bills. That gives a
            picture of the travails of the president at the
            National Assembly. The truth is that the president has
            failed more miserably in his relationship with the
            legislature and, by extension, in his legislative
            agenda, than in any other area of governance, which on
            the face of it, is strange, given the enormous
            "powers" at the disposal of the president and the fact
            that the ruling party also holds a comfortable
            majority in both the Senate and the House. Executive
            bills embody the policy of an administration and are
            assumed to flow from the electoral manifesto of the
            ruling party. But while many executive bills have
            languished in the National Assembly, others were
            passed with controversial amendments. Two bills (NDDC
            and Order of Precedence bills) were passed into Acts
            by the National Assembly after overriding the veto of
            the president. In some instances, the president relied
            on members of the opposition parties to manage
            through, in particular members of the Alliance for
            Democracy (AD), whose party provided the staunchest
            opposition to the election of the president in
            February 1999. Observers hold the president largely
            responsible for his own legislative troubles. They
            point at 'flaws' in his approach to the National
            Assembly, brought about by lack of experience.
            Observers see this as an apparent disdain for
            consultation and lobby, and poor co-ordination of
            executive operations at the assembly. Almost three
            years on, the president has remained puffy and aloof,
            essentially a stranger to his own legislators. He
            scarcely interacts, not even with his own party's
            caucus, in the assembly. The result is a near absence
            of personal clout in the assembly, a failing that puts
            him at the mercy of the leadership and intrigues of
            both houses. Obasanjo's abdication of influence on the
            legislative floor has consolidated the powers of the
            leadership of both houses; the only authorities with
            which a majority of the members are familiar and on
            whose benevolence they depend for patronage and
            largesse. Said a senator: "You expect the president to
            court influential members and make them allies in the
            prosecution of his legislative agenda. This would have
            diluted the powers of the presiding officers, created
            alternative power points and broadened the president's
            sphere of influence." "Had that been the case, he
            would never need to meddle in the composition of the
            leadership of the Houses or be accused of bribing
            members to change their leaders." According to the
            senator, most legislators regard the president and his
            ministers as friends who remember you when they need
            you. "To them, you are a mere unit in the number that
            they need when issues come to the vote, afterwards,
            they avoid you until the next crisis." Another source
            of the president's problems is his limited experience
            in legislative procedures under a representative
            government. But an aide of his extended this blame to
            the civil servants involved in the legislative roles.
            Legal and budgetary officers and draftsmen that
            prepare draft executive bills are still "steeped in
            the old ways and have a mindset about how things are
            done." That may be true. But how about re-orientation
            courses? Not much of that is going on. But Alhaji Wali
            said that a workshop is in the offing for key civil
            servants involved in the legislative process. The
            workshop, which will hold in the second or third
            quarter in collaboration with the American
            International Republican Institute (AIRI), will
            involve top civil servants, such as permanent
            secretaries and directors of relevant ministries and
            departments who are involved in the drafting of
            executive bills. A major source of trouble for
            executive bills is the fact that many legislators hear
            about them for the first time when they reach the
            National Assembly. Even the key members of the
            relevant standing committees are kept in the dark and,
            mostly, are not aware before hand of the principle and
            elements of the laws proposed by the bills. After the
            acrimonious delay of the 2000 budget, the Office of
            the Special Adviser to the President on National
            Assembly initiated some interactive fora for the
            Presidency and the legislators. These include a budget
            consultative forum and a fortnightly interactive
            dinner at the Aso Rock Villa. The consultative forum
            was credited with the breakthrough seen in the easy
            passage of the 2001 budget. The forum, including the
            lessons from it, on the need for early processing of
            budgets, were abandoned and never featured in the
            preparation of the 2002 budget. The interactive dinner
            was also shelved. But Wali said the dinner idea was
            only being refocused. It is now to target committees
            since the old concept was found unwieldy and defective
            at stimulating discussions of serious issues. "The key
            to solving most of the problems is consultation," said
            an aide to a principal officer of the National
            Assembly. "When you carry the committee members along,
            especially members of the party, they understand the
            issues and can speak on them to the conviction of
            other members who mostly rely on the committee members
            for direction," said the aide. Early in the life of
            the administration in 1999, it sent the
            Anti-Corruption Bill to underscore the importance
            attached by the president to the crusade against
            corruption. But people inside and outside the
            legislature were quick to see the side effects and
            potential abuse of some of the provisions of the bill,
            for example, those that allow secret tapping of
            private telephone lines, opening of private
            correspondence and long pre-trial detentions.
            Following feelers on these complaints, the Presidency
            invited members of the House committees on
            Anti-Corruption and Judiciary and Legal Matters to
            meet with resource persons with whom they exchanged
            ideas. Committee members were also sponsored on trips
            to Hong Kong and Malaysia after which they proposed
            amendments that broadened the scope of the bill and
            enhanced its principles. Speaking after the passage of
            the bill, Tony Anyanwu, a member of one of the
            committees that worked on the bill, praised the
            breakthrough as the fruit of consultation." The
            executive, perhaps due to a narrow understanding of
            the concept, does not undertake serious lobbying. The
            lobby system is a crucial aspect of law-making under
            the presidential system, as it facilitates the
            transmission of information to lawmakers by the
            proponents of laws. In the United States, laws guide
            the practice, which has spunned its own professional
            practitioners. According to a Presidency official, a
            pan-ministerial lobby system was initially proposed to
            promote the legislative agenda of the administration.
            "Ministers, senior special assistants, special
            advisers and other top political leaders were to be
            involved in persuading legislators and the public to
            the point of view of the executive or its policies,"
            explained the aide. "Perhaps, this has not been
            pursued with focus and determination," he said. On the
            Niger Delta Development Commission's (NDDC) bill, a
            senator said he was amazed how it was handled. "The
            bill was the idea of the president, but by the time
            the law was passed, he had been portrayed as an
            adversary of the people whose interests he purposed
            the bill to advance. "Did it not amuse you that the
            president never carried along governors and people of
            the non-oil producing areas, over his advocated
            dichotomy between onshore and offshore oil revenue?"
            When the House overrode the president's veto of the
            bill, only one Northern member in the House of
            Representatives voted for dichotomy. Others were busy
            looking at Obasanjo with fury that they didn't see
            that what he advocated best served their interest. The
            president is represented by three key aides in the
            National Assembly - the special adviser and the
            presidential liaison officers (PLOs) to the Senate and
            House of Representatives, yet much has not been
            achieved in smoothening legislative-executive
            relations because these aides work with little
            co-ordination. Since the PLOs were granted the same
            status as the special advisers, they run their own
            shows. Sometimes, they speak in discordant tunes on
            the same issue. And their collective scope is narrow.
            They do not carry out much in terms of lobbying or
            advocacy. To justify their roles, these officials need
            an expansion of responsibility. As the administration
            approaches its last year, its experience so far
            dictates that it reviews its performance in the
            legislative area, and amend its approach and
            operations.

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

            NSE clears its position on Savannah Bank

            By Afam Onumonu &
            Adekunle Kasali
            Daily Independent
            Controversy over the mandate given Nigeria Deposit
            Insurance Corporation (NDIC) by the Central Bank of
            Nigeria (CBN) to liquidate Savannah Bank deepened last
            weekend. Sources at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE)
            disclosed to Daily Independent that a representative
            of Savannah Bank presented a Certificate of Capital
            Importation obtained from the CBN in favour of
            International Resource Associates (IRA) to the NSE, as
            evidence of payment for warehoused shares of Savannah
            Bank, before the shares were transferred to IRA, the
            supposed foreign investors who by the shares
            acquisition obtained a 59.9 per cent controlling stake
            in the bank's equity.
            According to a source close to NSE, "IRA's transaction
            was a primary market transaction, because the shares
            were warehoused for sale following the
            under-subscription of the preceding public offer. We
            at the NSE required evidence of payment, that is,
            there must be Certificate of Capital Importation
            approved by CBN. Savannah Bank showed evidence that
            payment had been made. Based on the evidence, NSE
            allowed the transaction to be consummated on its
            trading floor."
            The Director of Banking Operations of CBN, Mr.
            Ignatius Imala, had at a press conference given as one
            of the reasons for the sanctioning of the bank, the
            fact that the new core investors, who were supposed to
            have brought US $7 million into the bank's operations
            in payment for the shares could not show evidence that
            it actually brought in that amount. The claim, by
            officials of Savannah Bank, that $6.8 million out of
            the $7 million was invested in new computers for the
            bank was according to Imala, not justified by new
            investment on computers in the bank's operations.
            The implication of this statement is that IRA had
            obtained controlling shares in the bank, and
            positioned its candidates in Board and management
            positions in the bank without actually giving value in
            the form of full payment for the shares acquired.
            The statement by the Nigerian Stock Exchange, however,
            raises questions about the position of the CBN. If
            representatives of IRA actually presented a
            certificate of Capital Importation obtained from the
            CBN to the NSE before the transference of shares was
            sanctioned by the Exchange, it would be contradictory
            for a representative of the apex bank to give as part
            of the reasons for the action on Savannah that IRA had
            not fully paid for its equity.


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

            Taribo to lead Eagles

            By Ben Alaiya

            Daily Independent
            For his level headedness and consistency in the
            national team, dread locked Super Eagles defender cum
            pastor, Taribo West will be handed the team's
            captain's band when hostilities commence in the
            Korea-Japan 2002 World Cup. Enquiries revealed that
            both the NFA and Sports Ministry big wigs are
            favourably disposed to the player leading the team to
            the mundial in place of off form and arrogant Borussia
            Dortmund midfielder, Sunday Oliseh. Taribo who
            presently plies his trade with Kaiserslautern in the
            German Bundesliga will receive the cheery news when
            the list of players invitation for the friendly
            against a Spanish selected side in Madrid on March 27
            is released.
            There were also suggestions in some quarters that at
            least half of the players that made the team to the
            Mali 2002 Nations Cup will be dropped from the World
            cup team as the consortium of coaches headed by Chief
            Festus Onigbinde set to work last week by drawing up a
            list of initial players that will make the team to
            Korea-Japan.
            "What we want to do is to blend the team with the old
            and the young and not do away with all the players as
            have been suggested in some quarters. We are sure that
            at the end of the day Nigerians will be very happy
            with our decision to use only the best players for the
            World Cup", a source said.

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


            What we want in marriage
            Nigerian women vote for love in place of money

            By Sola Balogun
            Daily Independent
            Contrary to the belief that most Nigerian women go
            after money rather than love, a recent survey carried
            out in Lagos by Daily Independent shows that before
            marriage, most women date men because of money, but
            that when they are ready to settle down to marital
            life, they prefer to team up with their true loves to
            scale the hurdles of life together.
            Majority of those interviewed, particularly those who
            have acquired tertiary education said they favour a
            marital life that is built on true love rather than
            other factors, noting that love comes before other
            considerations in marriage. However, almost half of
            the remaining respondents who fall within the
            averagely educated could not identify love as the main
            issue in marital life. One of them, a middle aged
            woman who is in her second marriage reasoned that true
            love is determined by how caring a man can be to his
            wife. A man, according to her, should take care of all
            the needs of his wife but if he fails, then he should
            be the one to blame if things go amiss.
            But a young lady who is yet to make up her mind about
            her future partner said "I will be free to discuss
            anything with him since he's going to be my life
            partner. I know most men are dishonest on money
            matters unlike women, yet, I expect a certain level of
            openness. Let him tell me about our future -- love
            life, money, children and all�'' That was Ndidi Njoku,
            a dancer who rules out love of money as a condition
            for choosing a husband.
            Though Olamide Fayemi, an undergraduate of one of the
            state universities agrees that love covers everything,
            she would prefer a hardworking man who is sure of
            finding his feet in future. "I expect my man to be
            open and generous. I'll love a man who is serious with
            his job and who'll take care of me, I love my future
            partner not because of what he has now but because I'm
            sure of what he can do�He has to be honest too''
            Out of 39 respondents in Lagos, 21 preferred a
            peaceful home rooted in genuine love to one based on
            material wealth. One of the respondents; a young,
            fresh graduate of the University of Ibadan whose
            husband works in Lagos said ''All I want in marriage
            centres on love, I want a peaceful home, devoid of any
            interference. I want to love my husband and I expect
            the same from him. Anything that can come between us
            will not be allowed.'' Speaking further, the young
            woman who looks forward to her 26th birthday said she
            had agreed with her husband to have as many children
            as possible ''I want to have them around me, they are
            a source of joy� but I'll make sure I take good care
            of them as they come�I want to have four or five�''
            For Adolph Onwuka, a pubic relations officer with the
            embassy of a European country in Lagos, it is good for
            the two to discuss finance, love, number of children
            and even sex before settling down as husband and wife.
            " You see, that's just the best way-- not to hide
            anything from each other. I like being open. Though
            I'm yet to find my wife, I believe it's right to know
            how your partner will handle money and how
            understanding she can be during difficulties''
            Like Onwuka, Bola Alaketu, a business woman says she
            discussed all the vital issues with her husband before
            her marriage, but that she never liked a lazy man for
            marriage because she wanted to have enough to take
            care of her children and home.
            Most of the respondents however said they would not go
            into marriage without ensuring that the proposed
            husband is financially viable because ''true love does
            not say one should be poor. I do not like to express
            my love while in want�Love is good when there is
            enough to show.''

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

            Different faces of beauty

            By: Agatha Edo
            Daily Independent
            Victoria at 40 could pass for a 25-year-old woman.
            Though a mother of four, she still uses size 14
            dresses, a lesson from her mother who got kicked out
            by a father that could not stand the sight of how
            obese his wife had become after two kids. To avoid the
            same mistake, Victoria vowed from the moment she met
            and married her husband, Philips, to do everything
            within her power to retain her figure.
            Thinking it was the perfect ace needed to keep her
            husband; she was shocked to discover that her husband
            was heavily involved with a woman who was her exact
            opposite. Victoria considered the fat and homely woman
            ugly. Philips' response to queries concerning his
            decision was simple? "Beauty is in the eye of the
            beholder. I do not find Victoria beautiful because she
            is too thin for me." Until technology took over, the
            definition of beauty was limited to a large extent on
            the individual's perception. However, with the aid of
            technology, beauty assumed a wider definition as it
            became less complicated to define. With money, the
            flabby ugly duckling could be reconstructed by plastic
            surgeons to become an instant beauty. Equally, hi-tech
            make-ups now exist to conceal nature's flaws.
            But it has not robbed man of his right of choice.
            Women, a survey has showed, spend over 70 percent of
            their money and time attending to matters having to do
            with beauty. It is a universally accepted fact that
            the beauty care industry is the most profitable.
            "Nobody wants to be ugly. Even those born ugly now
            rely on cosmetics to improve their aesthetic
            appearance. And because of the high premium the world
            now places on it, even babies crave for a share of
            it," observed Mrs Remi Agbowu, CEO of Remiks Beauty
            products.
            Besides, the era of associating beauty with a
            particular gender has become obsolete as beauty now
            embraces both men and women alike. "I would not be
            caught dead with a man who has beard or has large
            lips. My idea of a handsome man is one with spotless
            face; clean-shaven with heart shaped lips. He most be
            tall. Being petit, I feel better protected with a man
            who is tall and large. And men who have heart shaped
            lips are fantastic kissers," said Juliet Cruz, a
            28-year-old researcher with a Lagos based
            Non-governmental Organisation (NGO).
            Beauty, to Felix Ofeigbamu, 32 and an engineer, means
            fine sculptured legs and good manners. "I am basically
            a leg's man. Women with full, well shaped legs turn me
            crazy. Combined that with a gap-toothed face is a
            combination hard to beat. No matter how beautiful a
            woman is facially, I do not consider her beautiful
            without these attributes." Does he like fat, slim,
            dark or short women? Ofeigbamu said he really does not
            care about the height of a woman provided she is not
            thin. " I like women who are full and have the curves
            in the right places."
            Tade Odumosu, 40, an architect, described a beautiful
            woman as one whose beauty goes beyond the surface. "
            With age, my concept of beauty has changed. I no
            longer equate it with shape or facial beauty. As a
            young man, the preference was for thin women. You know
            the typical model look. But I have since discovered
            that such superficial features do not last. Like
            flowers, they wither. Experience has taught me to
            place more emphasis on the person rather than the
            face. A woman's inner beauty is like light in
            darkness, an oasis in the desert for all that lifetime
            joy. Now it matters not if a woman is fat, thin, tall,
            short, dark or light complexioned. What matters is who
            she is," he said.
            Different strokes for different people. According to a
            report in America, three minutes spent by women
            looking at fashion magazines caused 70 percent to feel
            guilty, depressed and shameful. A psychologist, Dr.
            Irene Ireti blamed this on the orientation many women
            grew up with. "Many of us were brought up to see
            ourselves through the eyes of men. We define female
            beauty from the male perspective. If a man says a
            woman is ugly, we accept it hook, line and sinker. And
            it is still so because no matter our level of
            education as women, we were created to be appreciated
            by men. It is sad but it is the hard fact. Some label
            it vanity but it is reality. We package ourselves to
            be appreciated by men."
            Many women feel guilty about their shapes and looks
            because their husbands or boyfriends never let them
            forget that the definition of beauty is dynamic. " It
            changes according to the moods of men. Alfhough before
            an Agbani became the symbol of beauty, some men liked
            their women plum, the concept changed as soon as the
            slim Agbani became queen. Some men who encouraged
            their women to be a little fleshy now want them to
            look like mannequins over night. Women with such
            problems have to battle their weight to meet up with
            the new definition of beauty if they desire to
            continue to keep their men," she said.
            Another respondent, 30-year-old Emeka Onuora, provided
            a good example of the new trend. " I do not want my
            woman feeling self conscious where my friends are.
            Many of my friends' girlfriends are slim and sleek. A
            woman should strive to keep her maiden figure at all
            cost. After all, that was what attracted the man in
            the first place. Childbirth should not be an excuse to
            let go. I like a woman who has flat stomach and firm
            full boobs. If white women can maintain their
            pre-maternity figure I see no reason why our women
            cannot do same," he stated.
            Tinuola Asade, a banker, described a handsome man as
            one who is considerate. " True, I cannot tolerate
            short or bald men; the fact however remains that my
            ideal man should be romantic, considerate and
            religious. He must in addition be fashionable. A man
            who has no sense of fashion turns me off even if he is
            Mr. Universe," the 29-year-old said.
            A top civil servant with the Federal Ministry of
            Information, 45-year-old Albert Boyo, said the beauty
            of a woman is not in the clothes she wears or her
            figure. "Rather, her beauty must be seen from her eyes
            because that is the doorway to her heart, a place
            where love resides. Her beauty is reflected in her
            soul. It is about the care that she gives and the
            passion she shows. A woman's beauty only grows with
            the passing years. At my age I have found beauty to be
            more of a soul thing," he stressed.

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

            WHY OBASANJO SHOULD HAVE A SECOND TERM
            By Greg Obong-Oshotse

            Don't get me wrong. I am no fan of the boy from
            lbogun. Yet would I owe no apologies to anyone if I
            were. There are things 1 like about him and, yes,
            there are things 1 wish were not mentioned about him.
            But let's not talk about examples just yet. Thafs
            beside the point right now. What interests me this
            moment is the pressing matter of who becomes Nigeria's
            president from 29 May 2003. There is so much
            speculation about the subject presently that every
            other rnatter has literally become a distraction. We
            had hardly spelt 'd-e-m-o-c-r-a-c- y' when the men in
            power started to strategise on how to return to their
            seats in 2003! They did not even have the patience to
            wait out the first leg of a four-year tenure. Such
            effrontery! And such presumption!

            You would have thought they would use their vantage
            positions, with the power and purse of office, to give
            the voter a breath of some fresh aft and at least a
            cup of clean water. You would have thought they would
            allow their 'good works' to do the campaigning for
            their re-election. Or, failing that, they would at
            least have the decency, even nobility, to shut their
            mouths and bow out with some honour instead of
            shooting the breeze at the people's expense. Afterall,
            when a man gets elected to office, he is given a
            singularly devastating advantage over his
            opponents:four full years and a large purse with which
            to win the people's hearts. If he is really half as
            smart as he made the voters believe, he should be able
            to so take advantage of his fortune and bless the
            people with real goodies that even his opponents will
            forget to vote for them- selves!

            For now, we must conclude that the political culture
            here does not as yet have the luxury of such decency.
            And if the prognostications of political pundits are
            to be believed - and there is no reason why they
            should not, we are going to be in this state of things
            for a while yet. Afterall, we are still in our infancy
            in this business though we have spent all of forty
            years trying to be a nation.

            However, I want to hope that we can conclude these
            years of blight, and the inevitable ones to come. with
            a jolly song to welcome the nation of our dreams. This
            is what brings me to the business of a second term for
            President Obasanjo. I know that it may be easy enough
            to raise millions of men who would rather see Obasanjo
            back at his farm in Ota than keep his flying jet in
            full throttle around the world. But the truth, if we
            knew it, is that we need a second-term Obasanjo
            presidency more than he needs it. Recall that
            independent Nigeria has not been able to live out a
            second term in office. The Azikiwe/Balewa second term
            was terminated by Nzeogwu's intervention while
            Shagari's second tenure was flung aside by Buhari and
            Idiagbon. The Third republic had hardly gotten off the
            ground when it crashed. Abacha quickly and quietly
            ensured that we did not even have to bother about a
            second term!

            A second-term Obasanjo presidency is both historically
            and politically expedient because it would set a
            critical precedent in our political culture. By the
            time he is through after eight years, no one needs to
            guess where the next president should come from. The
            North would take the slot and also have a free run for
            two terms of eight years. Then of course, it should
            return to the south again. But this time, to the South
            East.Such a precedent would bring down the overheating
            in the system and reduce the stress and the cracks and
            tears they inflict upon the fragile framework of our
            federation.

            After twenty four years of this run, we would be surer
            of, and getting closer to achieving political
            stability, the most critical factor that has eluded
            our body politic since independence. Stability would
            provide us a framework of order, defined as the
            generally accepted way of doing things.When such order
            become our way of life, our culture, our habit then
            and only then - can we confer on our ourselves the
            status of nationhood and begin in earnest to expect to
            rise to the height of our true potential as a people.

            Truly, therefore, a second term for Obasanjo will be a
            second term for Nigeria, for our fourth attempt at
            civillian rule and for democracy. It is politically
            expedient and it is a duty that our history and
            destiny has conferred upon our generation. It is a
            charge that no true patriot should buck. And history
            will not be kind to us if we fail.This is why we must
            give Obasanjo a second term in the Presidency.




            =====
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