Saturday, 5 January 2013

Amaechi: Rivers to Spend N21bn on Trans-Kalabari Road

29 Dec 2012 By Ernest Chinwo Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi has said his administration would spend N21 billion on the construction of the Trans-Kalabari road, the major road project covering the Kalabari-speaking area of the state. He said contract for the project has been awarded to Lubrik Construction Company (LCC). He stated this during a Town Hall Meeting with the people of Asari-Toru Local Government Area of the state at the Kings National College Field, Buguma. “Trans-Kalabari road is coming. We have awarded the contract to Lubrik for N21 billion. You know before, what I promised the chiefs is that I will stop at Bakana, but now we have agreed to take it to the end in Buguma and one assurance I give you is that by January, I will mobilise the contractor to start work. “We will do the roads according to importance. The most important road for me is the Trans-Kalabari road and the money is heavy, N21 billion, allow me focus on that road first then we can talk about the other roads,” he said. He said his administration had been working on completing old projects in Asari-Toru Local Government Area and congratulated the Kalabari people and the youths for being peace-loving and for stopping kidnapping and other criminal activities as foreign contract workers now do their job undisturbed. “When I was campaigning right here, I promised to consolidate on the old projects that we have. I did not say I will do too many new projects and if you look at it we have been trying to complete the old projects. The only new thing we have done in Buguma or in Asari-Toru is the farm, but before I talk about the farm let me congratulate the Kalabari people, you have changed completely,” he said. The governor said his administration would reclaim more land from the rivers in Buguma and finish up land reclamation already going on in Abalama community in Asari-Toru Local Government Area. Amaechi assured the people of the preparedness of his administration to fully furnish the 10 model primary schools in the area and complete the model secondary school in Buguma. He also disclosed that three general hospitals to serve as referral points are to be built in each senatorial zone. He said, “We are looking at developing three general hospitals that will serve as referral points. The one for this area is in Degema. We will look at the Degema hospital and renovate it between now and early next year so that anybody around here, Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru everybody can go there and be attended to.” Amaechi also promised to build skills acquisition centre in Asari-Toru to train the youth on various skills to keep them engaged, stressing that micro-economic activities would again grow with peace restored in the area. Earlier, Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Area, Hon. Ojukaye Flag- Amachree, praised Amaechi for developing the local government area. He also commended the Governor for locating the N1.5 billion fish farm project and the on-going multi-billion naira model secondary school in the area. He said, “Governor Chibuike Amaechi has done more in development of Asari-Toru Local Government than any other past governors of the State. I wish to reveal to all here present that Asari-Toru Local Government has received about half a billion Naira from the State Government.”

ALSCON: RUSAL wants $502m compensation

On January 4, 2013 • In News 12:40 pm By EMMA UJAH, Abuja Bureau Chief RUSAL, the Russian company which bought the controlling shares of the Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria, ALSCON, Ikot-Abasri, Akwa-Ibom State, has demanded $502 million (about $78.8 billion) compensation for it to quit the nation’s only aluminum manufacturing company, in line with the Supreme Court order. A top source at the Presidency told Vanguard that the Russians made the demand as an alternative to their holding on to ALSCON. The Supreme Court had ruled that the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, gives ALSCON to BFI Group, an American-registered company promoted by a Nigerian, Dr. Reuben Jaja and his team, which originally won the privatisation bid with an offer to pay $410 million for 77. 5 per cent of ALSCON shares in 2004. RUSAL was disqualified by the BPE from the financial bid process after submitting a conditional bid, in contravention of the bidding guidelines. It eventually, offered $250 million out of which it proposed to pay only $130 million to government and use the balance to dredge the Imo River and other facilities. The technical committee of the National Council on Privatisation, NCP, then under the Chairmanship of Mr. Akin-Kekere Ekun, disqualified RUSAL at the financial bid opening on June 14, 2004, over its conditional bid. Angered by the decision of the government of Chief Olusegun Obsanjo to give ALSCON to RUSAL, the original winners of the bid, BFI Group dragged BPE to court to stop the transaction with RUSAL but lost. Ever since, the Jaja group continued in the legal battle both in Nigeria and the United States where it has its headquarters until it finally got justice at the Nigerian Supreme Court in July, last year. RUSAL ignores order As learnt, RUSAL claimed it ignored the Supreme Court judgment on the company’s ownership because it legally owned the multi-billion naira firm but that it was prepared for settlement if properly compensated. RUSAL’s spokesman and Director of Public and Government Relations, Mr. Albert Dyabin, had told a press conference in Abuja, recently, “RUSAL wishes to confirm that RUSAL is the legal owner of ALSCON. RUSAL’s legal ownership of the plant has not been affected by any litigation. “No member of the RUSAL group is or has been a respondent in any case affecting the ownership of ALSCON. RUSAL is, however, fully prepared to defend its rights to the smelter, including in legal proceedings.” RUSAL has dragged the Federal Government before the International Court of Arbitration in London over what the Russians considered a breach of contract over the ALSCON transaction. The Russians are at the Arbitration Court where they are seeking an order prohibiting the Federal Government from executing the decision of the Supreme Court to its detriment and, alternatively, granting damages in the event that RUSAL should suffer a loss to its ownership of the stake in ALSCON. Sources revealed that officials of the Ministry of Justice have been briefed on how best to handle the negotiations that may arise from the current development. However, it was learnt that the $502 million compensation demand by RUSAL was outrageous considering the fact that they have consistently run down the value of ALSCON. ALSCON was valued at about N129 billion in 2006 but RUSAL was alleged to have brought in a Russian audit firm, ZOA Deloitte and Touche CIS, Moscow which crashed the company’s value to a mere N30.976 billion (about $240 million) the following year, 2007. The deficit arising on the revaluation was taken to profit and loss account for that year while the surplus was credited to the fixed assets revaluation reserve. ALSCON’s financial statement indicates that in 2008 the value of the company fell to N25.185 billion; in 2009 it fell to N19.351 billion; in 2010, it went further down to N14.848 billion and by 2011 it came to N14.574 billion. RUSAL claimed to have invested about N24.54 billion (about $ 160 million) in ALSCON since it took over in February 2007. BFIG battle At a point, the original preferred bidder in the privatisation process, BFI Group of America, insisted that BPE fraudulently sold the company to RUSAL against its own rules and alleged that the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo had predetermined to sell ALSCON to RUSAL and that it only used the American firm to create a semblance of a genuine privatisation process. According to the California-based organisation, “RUSAL failed to provide a required $1 million bid bond, thereby failing to comply with government rules for participating in the ALSCON bid process, yet RUSAL was still allowed to bid. “BFI Group fully complied with the government’s strict bid bond requirements as a contractual precondition for bidding and on national television officially requested a certificate of RUSAL’s compliance. The government denied BFI Group’s repeated requests in this regard. No complying RUSAL bid bond was produced because none exists. “The government in public announcements steadfastly and overwhelmingly favoured RUSAL despite its non-compliance with bid rules and inferior conditional bid terms, while BFI Group bid unconditionally in accordance with the bidding rules of the Federal Government of Nigeria. “RUSAL has been consistently favoured by the government over many months, having submitted a conditional bid price of just $5 million with an additional $200 million to be paid over 20 years or by 2025, while BFI Group was coerced by the government to bid against itself to increase its initial bid from $280 million to $410 million.”

Obi Blames Poor Road Design for Erosion

27 Dec 2012 Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State has derided improper design of roads in the past in the state, attributing it as one of the causes of erosion in the state. He said when roads are not properly designed the end result is that it usually leads to poor channelisation of flood water, which consequently leads to erosion. Obi, who disclosed this yesterday during the inspection of Uga and Isulo erosion sites respectively, which were caused by poor channelisation of flood water by the contractors who handled both roads, said part of the measures his government took on assuming office was to ensure that any road built in the state was properly designed with adequate drainage system linked to the right discharge points. Accompanied by his deputy, Mr. Emeka Sibeudu, and other top Government officials at the Isulo erosion site already threatening to cut the Akpu-Ajalli-Isulo-Umunze road, the governor said the state government would alert the Federal Government of the threat, while undertaking immediate measures to salvage the road. Upon the revelation that some of the erosion sites he visited had been awarded in the past by the Federal Government, Obi said he would follow it through and get to the roots of the allegation and take appropriate action. Meanwhile, Obi has decried the collapse of infrastructure at the Basden Memorial Education Centre, Isulo, Orumba South local government area of the state.Speaking while inspecting the facilities, the governor recalled that the school founded about 40 years ago had produced prominent Nigerians but regretted that gross neglect over the years has led to its decay. He said the inspection was to see how government could resuscitate the facilities.

Quit politics, leave Jonathan alone, Okpozo tells Obasanjo, Anenih

On January 3, 2013 • In News By SIMON EBEGBULEM BENIN — Senator Francis Okpozo has described as senseless and greedy, the appointment of Chief Tony Anenih as chairman of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and called on Chief Anenih and former President Olusegun Obasanjo to quit politics for the younger generation. Okpozo, who accused the duo of distracting President Goodluck Jonathan with their political activities and what he described as “selfish interests,” lamented that despite calls in some quarters that they should allow the younger generation take over the leadership of the nation, “they have continued to stay put and manipulate the system. “If Obasanjo and Anenih, who have been in the politics of this nation for long, are still coming today to take over from these small boys, who are supposed to take charge politically today, it means they are not serious. The only meaning that can be attached to their action is selfishness, greed, and it is time for them to quit politics because of their age. “They have made money, they have tasted power, they are old now like me, they have children, they have so many investments. Why are they not contented and leave politics for the younger generations? Greed destroys a man and I advise both of them to stay clear from President Jonathan. They should not play politics with Jonathan.” On the 2015 presidency, Senator Okpozo insisted that President Jonathan has the constitutional right to seek re-election, warning, however that “before he does that, he must pacify the people of the South South, who supported him during the election.”

Govs frustrating constitution amendment, says Adeyemi

On December 24, 2012 • In News By Henry Umoru ABUJA — CHAIRMAN, Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Senator Smart Adeyemi, PDP, Kogi West, weekend, alleged that the governors were frustrating the review of the 1999 Constitution. According to him, it was ironical that while the governors demand for more powers for states from the Federal Government, they were against freedom for another tier of government. Adeyemi told newsmen, weekend, in Abuja: “If the President can ask the EFCC to investigate the governors, two-third of them will go to jail because what they are doing is a breach of the constitution. “They are opposed to state creation because they believe it will reduce their empires. They are against the removal of immunity clause because they don’t want their atrocities exposed while in office and they are against the autonomy of the state assemblies because they want to enslave them.“If we have governors who are progressives, the constitution amendment would be successful. They will not allow the constitution amendment to be successful. They are going to derail it. “The fundamental aspect of the constitution amendment is the autonomy. If we cannot get the state assemblies to be autonomous, there will be no development and the standard of living of the people will be static. “How can one individual be determining the freedom of a whole state? It is for the media and the civil society to rise up against the governors and allow people to have their freedom.” On whether the Senate was helpless, he said: “With the provision of the constitution handed over to us by the military, we have to obey and respect the content and spirit of the constitution. “We cannot amend the constitution without getting two-third of the state assemblies concurring with us. And the governors are also saying that they don’t want the autonomy of local government. “Were the local governments created by state governors themselves? The local government reform of 1976 was meant to bring governance closer to the people, and subsequent constitution amendments recognised local government as the third tier of government. “The governors are demanding more powers for the states from the Federal Government, while they are against freedom for another tier of government.“The states were not created to ensure a true federal structure. In creating a state, factors such as norms, cultures, values and linguistics are taken into consideration. That is why states are not equal in the US. People agree to live together. “How can they be against local government autonomy? Sitting on the resources meant for local government is unconstitutional. State governors siphon these funds to a point that some local governments cannot even pay salary.” Source:

FG: Nigeria to Spend N23.4tr on Rice Importation

17 Dec 2012 By Crusoe Osagie The Federal Government disclosed weekend that $150 billion (N23.4 trillion) will be spent to meet Nigeria’s annual rice demand by 2050 as the nation’s population and appetite for imported rice continues to rise. It also revealed that Nigeria currently imports five million metric tonnes of rice and that the figure will increase to an estimated 36 million metric tonnes by 2050. These revelations were made by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) workshop on Financing Nigeria’s Agricultural Revolution. According to the minister, “Nigeria is now the largest importer of rice in the world. As our population rises, demand for rice is projected to rise from the current level of five million MT to 36 million MT by 2050. Unless Nigeria begins an aggressive import substitution programme for rice, it will spend $150 billion annually importing rice by 2050 and the nation will be broke,” he said. He disclosed that the Federal Government’s policy for now is to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production by 2015. “To encourage the production and milling of local rice, the Federal Government has raised tariffs on imported brown rice and finished rice. The policy is working. In the last 12 months, 13 new rice mills, with a total capacity of 240,000 MT, have been set up by the private sector,” he said. He further disclosed that Miva and Ashi rice in Benue, Ebony rice in Ebonyi State, Umza rice in Kano, have all hit the market, stressing that they are so popular and better than imported rice in terms of quality and price. He also said that a new investor, Dominion Farm is currently investing $40 million in commercial rice production in Taraba State and that this rice farm will use small holder contract farmers and out-growers to produce close to 300,000 metric tons of rice within 24 months which will create close to 15,000 jobs and replace 15 per cent of rice being imported. He explained that to ensure Nigeria has in place industrial capacity for international quality grade milled rice that can compete with imports; the Federal Government is facilitating the acquisition of 100 large scale integrated rice mills, with a total capacity of 2.1 million MT. “They will be owned and operated by the private sector. This is being acquired under a low interest rate facility from the China EXIM Bank. For the first time in our history as a nation, Nigeria will soon have the full industrial capacity to mill internationally competitive quality rice,” he said. Adesina explained that as Nigeria population rises, the government is focused on developing and transforming agricultural value chains that will provide new income opportunities for farmers, for all of our major crops, stressing that in this way farmers will have expanded and assured markets for their products. “We are also encouraging agro-processing to add greater value to all of our agricultural commodities,” he added. In her remarks, the Director General of SEC, Arunma Oteh, noted that agriculture permeates our society because it makes up about 40 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP and provides employment opportunities for 70 per cent of the country’s population. She then wondered why Nigeria is the third largest importer of wheat in the world and the length of time it has taken the country to get to where it is today given the important nature of agriculture to the Nigerian economy. She however expressed confidence that the agricultural revolution that is being masterminded by President Goodluck Jonathan and coordinated by the Minister of Agriculture whom she described as an agricultural transformation evangelist would set an example for the world to emulate.

Clark Slams Niger Delta Govs for Poor Use of Derivation Fund

27 Dec 2012 By Adibe Emenyonu Elder statesman and former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, has said it was sheer greed on the part of governors of oil and gas producing states to appropriate the 13 per cent derivation fund meant for the oil and gas producing communities. Clark stated this after he was told by the leadership of the oil producing communities that the Federal Government has paid out over N7.282 trillion in the past 13 years as 13 per cent derivation fund to the oil producing communities with nothing on the ground in those communities to show for it. Playing host to a delegation of the oil and gas producing communities from Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Edo and Ondo States, the elder statesman recalled the pressures, which were exerted during the 1994 Constitutional Conference as well as the drafting of the 1999 Constitution by the oil producing communities. According to him, it was the agitation from the leaders and people of the communities that made the Federal Government to entrench the 13 per cent derivation fund into the 1999 Constitution to pacify the communities. He explained that section 162 (2) of the constitution, which provided for the payment of derivation fund as first line charge, did not say the payment should be made through any state government to the oil producing communities. Clark emphasised that the fund was created by the Federal Government to address infrastructural deficit and neglect of the oil and gas producing communities, pointing out that the 13 per cent derivation fund belonged to the producing communities. He maintained that direct payments of the 13 per cent derivation fund to the producing communities would bring development to those communities much faster. The delegation, which was led by Niger Delta leader, Chief Wellington Okirika, had visited Clark to thank and pray for him for his leadership role both for the Niger Delta and the country and called for the creation of a National Derivation Committee on 13 per cent derivation fund with state implementation committees to be set up by the Federal Government to manage the fund on behalf of oil and gas producing communities.

..Rochas is long on empty promises – Duruiheoma, Imo PDP Chair

On January 2, 2013 • In Politics 12:26 pm.. By Nnamdi Ojiego …Says “our focus is on 2015″ CHIEF Eze Duruiheoma, SAN, is the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Imo State. In this interview, he explains why the party challenged the outcome of the 2011 governorship election in the state, despite congratulating the winner. He also speaks on the sacking of Local Government chairmen in Imo state and his efforts to reposition the party ahead 2015 among other issues. Excerpts: Shortly after the Independent National Electoral Commission,INEC, declared Okorocha the winner of the 2011 governorship election, PDP candidate, Ikedi Ohakim congratulated him. Why did you turn around to challenge his victory at the tribunal? Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Secretary-General of the United Nations once announced that he would not go for a second term but he later changed his mind and decided to contest again. When he was asked why he changed his mind, he answered: Only a fool cannot change his mind. That is only part of the point. The truth about it was that at that time, even the PDP joined in congratulating the governor. And you will agree with me that that is a show of good faith and good faith should beget good faith. But when these things happened, the governor instead of reciprocating the good faith, the goodwill from us, took up an aggressive posture, took up a very hostile posture towards the PDP. Is that why you went to court? Of course we needed to let him know that it takes two to tango. If we did this to show you goodwill, you owe us something in return. But when you now proved to us that you didn’t owe us anything, we then went to court to remind him that there were irregularities during the election. So, on the one hand, that is what happened. But all that is history now. Now that the election/court matters are done and dusted, what’s next for your party? To settle down to play opposition politics in the state just like the governor has settled down to govern. And you think you are a vibrant opposition to the ruling APGA? Of course. Opposition politics calls for everything you can muster, it calls for creativeness, pro-activeness and alertness of the mind. It demands too much from you so that you are on top of every situation. I can tell you it has not been a pleasant experience. What policies of this administration have you taken a stand on? PDP as a party has been raising its voice against unpopular policies of the government through the media. When the government came up with the idea of relocating Imo State University to another place, the party raised its voice against the move. We took up that matter, issued releases stating our stand. We also did the same to every other unpopular decisions of the this administration. For example, the opening of the road that causes regular congestion along Assumpta Avenue. PDP was the first group of people that condemned the decision. The opening of that road is the reason for the traffic congestion at Assumpta Avenue. Not many people noticed it before we did and so many other things. On free education We have repeatedly said it here that this administration is very long on promises but short in fulfillment. Take for example, the issue of free eduction. When this government came up with the idea of free education, they didn’t know what they were going into but now it is becoming obvious that they can’t achieve free education at the university level. It is dishonesty to talk about free education at the primary and secondary school levels because, they have been always there. Free education at the primary school level has been there from the period of UBE and it has not changed. Free education at secondary school level has also been there. What may be new is university level. What our people need is not this type of free education that is being bandied about. What we need in our tertiary institutions is investment and development in infrastructure. But because the administration does not listen to anybody except itself, it is drumming it into people’s ears that free education is achievable. Now the chips are down and the chickens have come home to roost. They are now looking for a way to reduce the number of beneficiaries and that is why admission into Imo State University, which is the only university that they have agreed to implement the free education is being controlled. In other words, any Imo son or daughter in any other university is not good enough for free education. You must be in the Imo State University to enjoy the free education. Because they cannot control admission in these other universities except in Imo State university, that’s why they are pegging it to ridiculous 30%, can you imagine 30% admission of Imo children into their own university? I mean it’s flash point and it will create serious problem. I’m worried, everybody is worried. That’s the mother of all injustice. On community/fourth tier government Our position on fourth tier government has been consistent. We are oppose to it because, it is an unnecessary distraction. If you go into the law, if you read the law on this subject matter, you will wonder why anybody should sit down to think about it. Autonomous communities have always been in existence. Their town unions have also always existed. They on their own evolved their own modus operandi and also the relationship between the town unions and the traditional rulers have worked so well for communities over time. Most communities in Imo State are other than the state. I mean before Imo state was created, these communities were functioning. They had town unions and operated smoothly and effectively. Why come now to introduce these alien ideas? Why? And the result is disharmony and unnecessary conflicts in the communities. Before ninety seventy something, when they introduced this uniform ezeship thing, most communities lived in absolute peace but as soon it was introduced, ezeship tussle now became the other of the day. If you go to the courts, ezeship tussle accounts for 70% of cases there. Today, because of government involvement in the way communities should be run, tussle of leadership of communities and ezeship tussle now become the major social problems confronting our people. Why? Communities should be allowed to develop at their own pace. Some communities are stronger than others. Those that are weak today may be strong tomorrow but let them do so at their own pace. But to wake up one morning to introduce a uniform style of government in every community destroying the people’s culture in the process does not follow. That is taking matters too far. On security challenges Well I don’t want to make the mistake the incumbent governor made. He made that mistake when he politicised the issue of insecurity. Security is a very serious matter and should not be trivialised. So I’m not prepared to blame it on him. Some other people may do that but the kind of politics that I play, I will not hold him responsible for that because, the issue of kidnapping and robbery appears to be now endemic. It is something that has been existing, he didn’t introduce it. But if he rode into power with the promise that he will eradicate all these, and today we are still saddled with them, the, that is a lesson to him and other people not to promise anything they can’t deliver. On abandoned projects We want to advice the governor to complete people-oriented projects began by previous administration. Nobody says he cannot complete them and put down his name on them. There is no point abandoning projects because the man who started it is your enemy or from a different party, it’s wrong. And the losers at the end of it all are Imo people. Take for instance the two fly-over bridges started by the previous administration, if he starts work there today, the cost of completing the projects will be different from their cost as at two years ago when he abandoned them. Now, who bears the responsibility of the extra cost, isn’t Imo people? And that money would have been used for other better things for the people. Repositioning the party ahead of 2015 elections Well, if you like and I beg you to like it, We are focusing on 2015. Our emphasis, our focus now is on 2015. What has gone has gone. Whatever may have led to what happened is now history. However, we have learnt our lesson but it is not something we can share….it is something we have internalized, something we have since understood and I can tell you that it is helping us in our present efforts to reposition the party for 2015. I can tell you that we are working so hard now to regain the confidence of every member of this party. We are also doing everything possible to ensure that members who left the party for one reason or the other return to the party before the next election. The PDP which I head stands for justice, peace and everything good. The gospel we are preaching now is that those who will fly our banners in the next election must be ready to serve the people. They must be service-oriented people who are ready to serve the people. In the past, the issue of money used to cause a lot of problems. We will ensure that this time, our candidates spend less so as to give the people quality service in leadership. We can assure you that whomever we are going to field in 2015 must be a human being not a small god or a super human who knows it all and promises everything. The person must be humble. Humility will teach him to level with the people. On governor Okorocha returning to the PDP I think I have answered this question several times. It is not my decision to take. It is a general decision of the party. In fact, it will involve the national leadership. However, The governor and indeed any other person who wants to join PDP knows what to do. We don’t have to cross any bridge until we get to that bridge. So I don’t want to do with this speculation about ‘if the governor comes, if the governor comes’. If he decides to join PDP tomorrow, he knows what to do. He will join in his ward and they will spell out the guidelines and the constitution of the party for him. Efforts to recall Imo Speaker, Uwajiogu The Speaker, Imo State House of Assemby is not part of what I am saying here. Meanwhile, we have commenced efforts to recall him. We are in court with him and as I am talking with you, the case has reached an advanced stage even though he is going about telling people that he has not left the PDP which shows you how fraudulent he is . How can somebody, a public officer, a highly placed one at that talked from two sides of his mouth? Very soon, his seat will be declared vacant… Zoning arrangement Yes. The party believes in zoning as a tool for equity. Haven made this statement that the party believes in zoning, the issue of which zone will take advantage of the zoning policy is a matter the PDP as a party and not me as the chairman will make pronouncement upon at the appropriate time. At the appropriate time, the party will say or do something about it. On sacking of council bosses The Court of Appeal has made pronouncement on that, describing the governor’s action illegal. So, that Court of Appeal decision is still valid because, it has not been set aside. Now, the governor has purported to have sacked the chairmen because according to him, their tenure is over and the chairmen are in court. As I’m talking to you now, there is an order of court in favour of the LG chairmen. What all this will mean is that nobody should tamper with the status quo until the matter in court is resolved one way or the other. So there is no question about conducting fresh elections. Of course, are you going to conduct election when the chairmen are still deemed to be occupying their offices? Are you going to elect people who will wait for them to now finish their tenure before you swear them in? No no! Things are not done like that.

Stop this profligacy, Mr. President!

The brouhaha that the contract cost for building the residence of the vice-president has thrown up is a clear indication of the insensitivity and the cluelessness that characterise the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. In a nation where the majority of the citizens are living below poverty line, homeless and with no indication that the situation will improve any time soon, the people at the helm of affairs are starkly projecting that they are there to feather their nest rather than serve those who put them in the saddle. Spending a whopping N14 billion to build such an edifice is unarguably a case of misplaced prority. It is even most befuddling that the contract had to be revised to suit some peculiar tastes and outlook of the incumbent vice-president. At a time when the government should be worried about putting food on the table of the average Nigerian, providing opportunities for the generality of Nigerians to be properly accommodated and facilitating the movements of the people, a forward-looking and sensitive administration would as of priority budgeted adequately for welfare schemes that will improve the lot of the people. The step being taken by the government has left many wondering why it would have taken the measure of removing the oil subsidy with a claim to putting the savings on efforts to improve the welfare of the people, only to end up spending it on frivolous projects such as the vice-president’s residence and the president’s banquet hall. The president, to me, has totally derailed. His selling point when he was campaigning for office was that he grew up as a young person without shoes and could, therefore, empathise with the common folks. His current gestures totally belie this! I am calling on him, if he desires to be on the good side of history, to retrace his steps immediately and stop frittering away the commonwealth of the people. He has to pay more serious attention to improving the electricity generation and supply in the country. The seeming gains that were made during the tenure of the former Minister in the sector, Barth Nnaji, have declined. The government seems to have now totally lost his bearing in the energy sector. Nigerians are daily going through hell trying to get fuel for their vehicles. The queues are endless and fuel is constantly in short supply. The Boko Haram terrorists are ever wreaking their deadly havocs, decimating human lives and destroying properties. With these myriad of problems, it is unimaginable for any government to ever think of misapplying the resources of the country for frivolous projects such as the proposed opulent vice-president’s residence and the president’s banquet hall. •Effiong Udoh wrote from Calabar.

Sanusi to FG: Stop accumulating debts for future generation

On December 26, 2012 • In News 9:53 pm By Babajide Komolafe LAGOS— Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has warned the Federal Government to stop accumulating debts for future generation by reducing its current levels of borrowing. He said the current level of borrowing, if unchecked, would result to unmitigated hardship for future generations. He urged the Federal Government not to allow the present and unborn generations inherit the heavy burden of foreign debts, cautioning that Nigeria, currently under the suppressing weight of the heavy burden of foreign debts, is in great danger. Speaking at the just concluded conference of Honorary International Investments Council (HIIC), in London, he warned of a great danger ahead if the nation continued to live above its realistic means. His words: “We are borrowing more money today at a higher interest rate while leaving the heavy debt burden for our children and grandchildren. For example, if you receive your salary and everyday the money is not enough, you have two options to adjust yourself; Either check your expenditure or check your wages. He urged the ruling class and the older generations to set good example and educate the coming generations for a better and secured future. According to him, such example should be set by not accumulating debt for future generations to inherit. “Where would the future be for Nigeria, if today should be allowed to destroy the future”, he queried. Mallam Sanusi was among the high-profile Nigerian delegation that attended the 13th session of the Honorary International Investments Council (HIIC) of the Council,which was held recently at Beckley Hotel in Knightsbridge, Central London. The Honorary International Investments Council (HIIC) is a cross-country organisation of prominent investors, drawn from various countries around the world with the task of advising and encouraging governments on economic development issues as concerned nations, especially the fast growing economies in the World. The business conference sessions had Vice President Namadi Sambo leading a strong team of economic planners and policy makers teaming up with business executives to canvass international investors for the country. The conference looked into the best ways of attracting investments to Nigeria and all speakers had the consensus that the nation with many opportunities and natural resources stands to grow faster economically, if the current trend of economic progress was sustained. Source:

New Year Resolution!

Books will continue to chronicle human history in a world @ flux and full of dynamic mechanics. But how many people read them? I think that there are three types of people who read books. The first group is possibly, a very large group; and consists of people who do not bother hard enough to pass through the rigour and discipline of sitting still, to read books. They, funny though, might even have bought book (s), but never had the time. They simply kept them on private shelves or might even have loaned them out. The second group; not as large as the first group, is populated by persons who managed to read, but forgot what they read. Perhaps, they were really not motivated enough to exhaust the book or lost interest mid-way. The third group; a negligible constituency compared to the overall number; are the genuine intellectuals and thinkers. They read to internalise, absorb and practice. So, where do you belong? Where are your New Year resolutions, do they include books? How many books have you resolved to Read? How many books, commentaries, journal articles etc. do you plan to write in 2013? Happy New Year! Joachim Ezeji