Okonjo-Iweala: Indicted Marketers Behind Demonstration by Melaye’s Group

Mr. Dino Melaye
Mr. Dino Melaye

By Ndubuisi Francis

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Wednesday  said indicted oil marketers  were behind the demonstration embarked upon by  a former member of the House of Representatives and Executive Secretary of a civil society group, Anti-Corruption Network, Mr. Dino Melaye.

Okonjo-Iweala said no amount of intimidation or harassment will make her do what is not proper to the country. 
Melaye had led a group of demonstrators to the ministry yesterday afternoon.

A statement issued by the Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, Senior Special Assistant to the minister, alleged that the ministry had established concrete evidence that the demonstration was sponsored by indicted oil marketers

“We have it on good authority that Melaye’s group was sponsored by some of the indicted oil barons who are currently being investigated and prosecuted for subsidy fraud. Their allegation to wrong subsidy payments made by the Ministry is a mere ruse to conceal their true motives.

“It is important to note that the Federal Ministry of Finance does not pay any contractor directly. The relevant ministries do. So this allegation by Melaye and his group is completely wrong and without foundation.

“Also, whenever its statutory mandate requires that it makes any payments, the Ministry follows strict payment procedures, and only pays when there is appropriate documentation from relevant agencies,“ the statement added.

The demonstration, the statement stressed, “was ostensibly to call for the resignation of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance who is well known for fighting the fraudulent oil barons whose names were published by the Ministry for various breaches of the subsidy regime.”

According to the statement, Nigerians were not deceived by the antics of Melaye, “who has no known pedigree as a civil society activist or even a reputation for honour or common decency.” 

“When asked by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr. Danladi Kifasi, to submit a written statement, Melaye said that they did not come with any. This gives an indication of the level of seriousness of the effort.

“Curiously, Melaye and his cohorts, in making their frivolous allegations,  did not mention the fact that the Federal Ministry of Finance under the leadership of Dr Okonjo-Iweala took the unprecedented step of publishing the names of 25 companies which were investigated by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee for various breaches of the subsidy regime,” the ministry added.

“They also neglected to say that many of the indicted marketers are currently undergoing interrogation and prosecution. As a direct result of the Ministry’s efforts against corruption in the subsidy regime and tighter procedures, the nation has saved billions of naira that would otherwise have gone to corrupt marketers.

“The Federal Ministry of Finance stands steadfast in its resolve to fight against corruption and manage the finances of the country in the best interest of the Nigerian people,” it stated.
Source: Sun, 8th November 2012.

 

Security beefed up at Finance Ministry …
As Okonjo-Iweala cries out over oil barons’ harassment

By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief

ABUJA—Security has been beefed up at the Federal Ministry of Finance, following an alarm by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Onkonjo-Iweala, that indicted oil barons were harassing her.

Former member of  House of Representatives, Mr. Dino Melaye, had led a protest to the ministry on Wednesday, over an alleged N2.7 billion contract to one Pinacle Nigeria Ltd, but the minister debunked the allegations and explained that her ministry does not award road contracts.

The minister told Vanguard on phone that “we don’t  pay road contractors in the  Ministry.  Ministries that award contracts pay their contractors so anyone who says that we pay contractors is ignorant of the system.

“Dino and his group are sponsored.  I have it on good authority that the demonstrators, numbering about 20 were paid N 3,000 and a T-shirt by indicted oil barons in the subsidy probe to try to harass me but they have failed.

“They are trying to intimidate me but I won’t allow it.  I will not take it.  They don’t want me to clean up the system as we are doing in the ministry.  You can quote me that they will not succeed in silencing me, no matter their antics.”

It was learnt that some oil firms indicted in the Nuhu Ribadu report have joined forces with some of those involved in the subsidy scam and now threatening Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and those considered to be in support of the probes.

Security sources added in Abuja, yesterday, that intelligence operatives had uncovered plots to discredit members of President Goodluck  Jonathan’s administration who played active roles in the various investigations.
Source: Vanguard, 8th November 2012.

 

Nigeria: Okonjo-Iweala - Indicted Marketers Behind Demonstration By Melaye's Group

BY NDUBUISI FRANCIS

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Wednesday said indicted oil marketers were behind the demonstration embarked upon by a former member of the House of Representatives and Executive Secretary of a civil society group, Anti-Corruption Network, Mr. Dino Melaye.

Okonjo-Iweala said no amount of intimidation or harrassment will make her do what is not proper to the country.

Melaye had led a group of demonstrators to the ministry yesterday afternoon.

A statement issued by the Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, Senior Special Assistant to the minister, alleged that the ministry had established concrete evidence that the demonstration was sponsored by indicted oil marketers

"We have it on good authority that Melaye's group was sponsored by some of the indicted oil barons who are currently being investigated and prosecuted for subsidy fraud. Their allegation to wrong subsidy payments made by the Ministry is a mere ruse to conceal their true motives.

"It is important to note that the Federal Ministry of Finance does not pay any contractor directly. The relevant ministries do. So this allegation by Melaye and his group is completely wrong and without foundation.

"Also, whenever its statutory mandate requires that it makes any payments, the Ministry follows strict payment procedures, and only pays when there is appropriate documentation from relevant agencies," the statement added.

The demonstration, the statement stressed, "was ostensibly to call for the resignation of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance who is well known for fighting the fraudulent oil barons whose names were published by the Ministry for various breaches of the subsidy regime."

According to the statement, Nigerians were not deceived by the antics of Melaye, "who has no known pedigree as a civil society activist or even a reputation for honour or common decency."

"When asked by the Ministry's Permanent Secretary, Mr. Danladi Kifasi, to submit a written statement, Melaye said that they did not come with any. This gives an indication of the level of seriousness of the effort.

"Curiously, Melaye and his cohorts, in making their frivolous allegations, did not mention the fact that the Federal Ministry of Finance under the leadership of Dr Okonjo-Iweala took the unprecedented step of publishing the names of 25 companies which were investigated by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee for various breaches of the subsidy regime," the ministry added.

"They also neglected to say that many of the indicted marketers are currently undergoing interrogation and prosecution. As a direct result of the Ministry's efforts against corruption in the subsidy regime and tighter procedures, the nation has saved billions of naira that would otherwise have gone to corrupt marketers.

"The Federal Ministry of Finance stands steadfast in its resolve to fight against corruption and manage the finances of the country in the best interest of the Nigerian people," it stated.

Source: This Day, 8th November 2012.

 

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Why some people want me out of Petroleum Ministry – Deziani

Ben Agande, Abuja.

Mrs. Deziani Allison-Maduekwe

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Deziani Allison-Maduekwe, Thursday attributed the unrelenting attack on her office to those she said had been frustrated from continuing with their nefarious deals in the petroleum sector of the economy.

In an interview in Abuja on Thursday the minister said those who have no skeleton in their cupboards need not be afraid of the reforms in the sector as it was meant to benefit all Nigerians.

“A vast majority of Nigerians are happy with Mr. Jonathan for the far reaching decisions his administration has taken to stabilise the sector.

“Those fighting the government in the media are  doing so because we have been able to frustrate their efforts in strangulating the economy through their devilish black market and questionable profiteering at the expense of the Nigeria people.

“I would not want to join issues with those criticising me because they are crying foul that through us Mr. President has broken the old order where things are done without coordination.

What is hurting them is that we have put policies in place where they can no longer cheat the government and cause untold hardship for millions of our Nigerians” she said.

According to her, no amount of blackmail would stop her from continuing to pursue the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan in the oil and gas sector.

She reiterated that the few individuals angling for her sack were doing so because she has refused to continue the ‘business as usual’ tradition in the oil and gas sector of the economy.

She vowed  that never again will the government allow the return of the age-long cartel in the country’s oil and gas sector, adding that  despite the unjustified criticism and unfounded allegations against her, her greatest joy is that majority of Nigerians in the sector appreciate the good work her ministry and agencies under her are doing to reposition the oil and gas sector.

According to her, operators and stakeholders in the oil and gas sector that have the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians at heart need not be afraid of her leadership style, except those that have skeleton in their  cupboard.

While commending the cordial relationship between her and top officials of the Ministry including those of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Petroleum Pricing and Marketing Company (PPMC), Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and other parastatals of the Ministry, Mrs Allison-Madukwe explained it was the harmonious relationship that has brought about the high level successes by government in the sector.

She solicited the corporation of Nigerians, oil companies and other investors at all times in order to achieve Mr President’s objectives for the sector, and commended the leadership of various union in the sector for standing by President Jonathan in the ongoing reforms of the sector.
Source: Vanguard, 8th November 2012.

 

Alison-Madueke - Agitators for My Removal Are Blackmailers

Abuja — The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Deziani Alison-Madueke, Thursday dismissed the clamour for her removal by President Goodluck Jonathan, describing those behind the clamour as blackmailers

Alison-Madueke said she would remain focused and committed to her job and embark on reforms in the oil and gas sector.

The minister stated that her schedule of duty was closely tied to the transformation agenda of the president in the oil and gas sector.

According to her, those clamouring for her removal were doing so because she has refused to continue the 'business as usual' tradition in the oil and gas sector.

She added that those alleging that she is corrupt and inefficient are those that have skeletons in their cupboards and have for long participated in the shadowy control of the oil and gas sector.

The minister expressed confidence that despite the wranglings by her detractors, her greatest joy is that "a vast majority of Nigerians are happy with Dr. Jonathan for the far reaching decisions his administration has taken to stabilise the sector."

For her, those fighting the government in the media "were doing so because we have been able to frustrate their efforts in strangulating the economy through their devilish black market and questionable profiteering at the expense of the Nigeria people."

She stated further that "I would not want to join issues with those criticising me because they are crying foul that through us Mr. President has broken the old order where things are done without coordination. What is hurting them is that we have put policies in place where they can no longer cheat the government and cause untold hardship for millions of our Nigerians."

Speaking further, she added that operators and stakeholders in the oil and gas sector that have the interest of the country at heart need not be afraid of her leadership style, except those that have skeleton in their cupboards that are scared of change and reforms.

While commending the cordial relationship between her and top officials of the ministry including those of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Petroleum Pricing and Marketing Company (PPMC), Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and other parastatals under her ministry, Alison-Madueke explained that it was the harmonious relationship that had brought about the high level successes by government in the sector.

She solicited the cooperation of Nigerians, oil companies and other investors at all times in order to achieve the President's objectives for the sector, commending the leadership of various unions in the sector for standing by President Jonathan in the ongoing reforms of the sector.

Source: This Day, 9th November 2012.

 

No blackmail ‘ll stop oil and gas reform – Alison-Madueke

From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Deziani Alison-Madueke, has said the only reason she is hated so much is because she has stopped the “business as usual” tradition in the oil and gas sector. She told newsmen in Abuja yesterday that the reforms in the sector have come to stay, blackmail or not, noting that those with skeletons in their cupboards are afraid of her leadership style.

Alison-Madueke said that some people clamouring for her sack were doing so because she is a stumbling block to their corruption tendencies, dismissing those labelling her as corrupt and inefficient as people simply afraid of the reform agenda in the sector.

She said that never again will the government allow the return of the age-long cartel in the oil and gas sector. The minister said that despite the unjustified criticism and unfounded allegations against her, her greatest joy is that “a vast majority of Nigerians are happy with President Jonathan for the far-reaching decisions his administration had taken to stabilise the sector”.

She described those engaging in media war against the government as frustrated because “we have been able to frustrate their efforts in strangulating the economy through their devilish black market and questionable profiteering at the expense of the Nigerian people. “I would not want to join issues with those criticising me because they are crying foul that through us Mr. President has broken the old order where things are done without coordination. What is hurting them is that we have put policies in place where they can no longer cheat the government and cause untold hardship for millions of Nigerians”.

According to her, operators and stakeholders in the oil and gas sector that have the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians at heart need not be afraid of her leadership style, except those that have skeletons in their cupboards. While commending the cordial relationship between her and top officials of the ministry including those of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Petroleum Pricing and Marketing Company (PPMC), Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and other parastatals of the ministry, Alison-Madueke said it was the harmonious relationship that has brought about the high level successes by government in the sector.

She solicited the co-operation of Nigerians, oil companies and other investors at all times to achieve Mr President’s objectives for the sector, and commended the leadership of various unions in the sector for standing by President Jonathan in the ongoing reform.

Source: Sun, 9th November 2012.

 

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$400bn Looted Since 1960 - Ezekwesili

BY AHURAKA YUSUF

Dr. Oby Ezekwesili

Former World Bank vice president for Africa Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, yesterday disclosed that  $400 billion of Nigeria’s oil revenue was either stolen or misappropriated since the country’s independence in 1960.

Ezekwesili stated this while presenting  a paper captioned, “Corruption, National Development, The Bar and The Judiciary” at the ongoing 52nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja.

 Ezekwesili also noted that while oil accounted for about 90 per cent of the value of Nigeria’s exports over 80 per cent of that money ended up in the hands of 1 per cent of the population and stressed            that the fight against corruption and demand for good governance must go beyond the actions or efforts of the government.

She said: “In fact, results reveal that as much as 20 per cent of the entire capital expenditure will end up in private pockets annually. The negative effect of corruption was starkly demonstrated by the fact that based on current track record. Nigeria will miss all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets set in 2000 in spite of its natural and human resources. There is no doubt that at the heart of any progress towards meeting these goals is the quality of governance at all levels of government, yet the general perception is validated by the revealed large scale corruption in the petroleum sector especially, but not limited to the management of the subsidy scheme by all the relevant agencies of government.”

Poor governance of public resources and assets in Nigeria she added is worsening at every level of government, institutions of state, the private sector and is engulfing the wider society and said a more significant impact of corruption is on the government bottom line and in the teacher-less, desk-less schools which only hint at the extent of the problem in Nigeria.

Ezekwesili revealed that “a study by the World Bank, showed that annual worldwide losses due to corruption amount to between one to four thousand US Dollars while the Global Financial Integrity estimated that between 1970 and 2008 Africa lost more than $854 billion in illicit financial outflows, an amount which is far in excess of official development inflows.

“Another report of the Transparency International (TI) put the amount of bribes companies paid politicians and other public officials in developing and transiting economies annually at $ 40 billion in 2009 and consider that Africa would  constitute a major part of since we know the continent’s ranking on governance in the lower regions of the TI’s corruption perception index,” the former minister stated

She stressed that civil society organisations like the NBA and the nation’s judiciary and non state actors can play a significant role in making public budgeting more transparent and accountable and engage in the various stages of the budget process that can strengthen the oversight process and accountability in the use of public resources.

She revealed: “An independent judiciary and the bar is important for preserving the rule of law and is, therefore, the most important facet of good governance. The judicial system has an important role to play ultimately in ensuring better public governance. There is no area where the judgment of the Supreme Court has not played a significant role in the governance of any nation whether in environment, human rights, gender justice, education, minorities, police reforms among other.

“The rule of law, one of the most significant characteristics of good governance, prevails in India for example, because India has an independent judiciary that has been sustained owing to the support and assistance from an independent bar which has been fearless in advocating the cause of the underprivileged and the deprived.

So my last word is “who among you is ready to let character be their destiny? Count me in should you need a slightly learned friend” she declared.

Source: Leadership, 29th August 2012.

 

Western Nations Fuel Corruption In Nigeria - Falana

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria Mr. Femi Falana has lashed out at governments of the United States of Ameria and other major western nations who fuel corruption in Nigeria and other African nations but turn around to heap the blame on corruption of developing countries.

Speaking at a workshop organised by the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), Falana highlighted the conviction of top American officials and business executives and recovery of N3 billion fines under Obama’s watch for bribing governments around the world.

He said $1 billion was paid out by US companies and individuals involved in many financial scandals in Nigeria alone.

The prosecutions, he said, were carried out under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). “But in order to cover up the Nigerian officials involved in the international scam and frustrate their prosecution in Nigeria, the Obama administration has refused to release the certified true copies of the judicial proceedings in violation of provisions of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption’’.

Continuing, Falana said, in 2010, the former US vice president, Mr. Dick Cheney, was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Nigeria over his involvement in the $180 million bribe paid to Nigerian officials by Halliburton when he was the chairman of the company. The case, he said, was dropped after a “political plea bargain” that led to the payment of $120 million fine to the Government of Nigeria.

“In order to cover up the involvement of western governments and corporations in the promotion of corruption, terrorism and drug abuse in Africa, the impression is often created by top public officials of some foreign governments that Africans are the most corrupt people in the world,” Falana observed noting that only last week, the US secretary of state, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, kicked off her 11-day tour of some African states in Senegal by condemning corruption in Africa and urging African leaders to fight it in order to get good governance in the continent. He said it was also the kernel of President Barack Obama’s message to Africans when he made a brief stopover in Ghana three years ago.

“While we do not condone corruption, it is high time the Obama administration was told to stop blaming the victims of grand corruption promoted and fuelled by western countries led by Switzerland, France, United Kingdom and United States,’’ Falana said.

Falana said that, a few months ago, a former Nigerian governor, Chief James Ibori, was convicted of fraud and money laundering of £250 million.

“Although the trial judge condemned the reckless looting of the public funds of a poor community in the impoverished Niger Delta, the criminal roles of the British banks and mortgage institutions that provided a conducive environment for the trans-atlantic financial crimes were not penalised,” he said.

He went further to state that the brutal killing of the former Libyan ruler, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi which was supervised by the allied forces, was not unconnected with the decision of western leaders to prevent the eccentric dictator from exposing their shady economic deals in Libya at the International Criminal Court at the Hague where he was wanted for crimes against humanity.

Switzerland, he said, operates a fraudulent banking system which provides a safe haven for corrupt leaders to keep stolen wealth. “Through such dubious banking system, Switzerland has frustrated all legal measures to recover billions of dollars stolen from poverty stricken nations.

“After the Arab Spring it was revealed that the illicit wealth accumulated by the deposed rulers of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt stands at an estimated $190 billion. The bulk of such stolen wealth is kept in secret accounts in Switzerland.”

However, the director-general of GIABA, Dr Garba Shehu, averred that money laundering and terrorist financing inhibit economic development, threaten social and political stability, cause artificial rise in the cost of business, and impede direct foreign investment.

“The fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is therefore a collective responsibility of all stakeholders.

 “GIABA recognises the valuable contributions that civil society can make to the public policy –making processes and attaching great importance to the institution’s own dialogue and partnership with civil society organizations.”
Source: Leadership, 8th August 2012.

 

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President Jonathan Laments Oil Theft In Nigeria

BY AGENCY REPORT

PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN 5

Presidential Goodluck Jonathan on Monday described the situation where it is only Nigeria that crude oil is stolen as extremely embarrassing and unacceptable. 

Jonathan expressed the regret at the presidential maritime security retreat held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. 

The retreat was convened by the president to assess progress, review challenges and chart a realistic way forward for the attainment of set goals in the maritime sector. 

Jonathan said government would strengthen the relevant regulatory agencies and deepen inter-agencies partnership in addressing the challenge of oil theft, piracy, and coastal insecurity. 

``It is extremely embarrassing that it’s only in Nigeria that crude oil is stolen. 

``It’s a very bad news and I believe that Nigerians and foreigners, who are indulged in that act, need to put their heads under the pillow; because all over the world it’s only in Nigeria that crude oil is stolen. 

``We are not the only oil producing country. Why is it that it’s only in Nigeria that people steal crude oil?  That must stop. 

``Our charge to all relevant agencies and departments of government is to work cooperatively with the required urgency this challenge deserves. 

``I request participants to this workshop to come up with deliverables that provide details on roles and responsibilities of stakeholders and timelines for harnessing the huge potentials in the maritime sector so that our losses will, in the shortest possible time, be converted to our net gains.’’

The president noted that the maritime sector was critical to the attainment of national economic development and for effecting national transformation agenda. 

He said the sector facilitated approximately 90 per cent of world trade; created millions of jobs and generated billions of dollars in economic output. 

Jonathan said the maritime industry had helped to enhance Nigeria’s position as a regional leader in several areas because it is a major engine of national growth. 

``Besides improved prospects in traditional sea-related activities such as fishing, shipping, ship-building and repairs, agriculture and tourism, the sector is a major hub in offshore oil exploration and production activities and will remain so in the foreseeable future.’’

Given its importance to national economy, the president said all hands must be on deck to safeguard the nation’s territorial waters against all threats. 

He said such threats as poaching, piracy, pipeline vandalism, coastal insecurity, crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, non-payment of statutory levies and charges, illegal entry of ships into our territorial waters, illegal importation of arms and hard drugs, must be checked. 

The president said that the cost of piracy to national economy was unacceptably high and threatened investments, while pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft had resulted in serious loss of revenue to government. 

He said government was determined to reverse the situation, protect the nation’s natural resources and ensure their sustainable use for the benefit of present and future generations. 

To this end, he tasked participants at the workshop to provide opportunity to capitalise on the gains so far made and find durable solutions to challenges in the sector. 

``In your deliberations, you must place focus on evolving a strong intelligence base and information gathering system and measures so that crude oil theft is completely eliminated.’’

``Our country men and women are looking forward to a better managed and result-oriented maritime sector. We cannot afford to disappoint our people.’’

The president also decried a situation where the West African coast generally known as the richest fishery resources in Africa, could not be harnessed to advantage by the sub-region. 

He attributed the failure to inadequate law enforcement and poor industry capacity. (NAN)

Source: Leadership, 23rd July 2012.

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Investigation: Economic Growth Slows As Oil Theft Threatens Output

Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

BY NSE ANTHONY-UKO 

Ahead of a more pronounced decline in oil prices stemming from sluggish global economy, Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth appears to be slowing from its recent heady pace as reports of trade in stolen oil becomes more prevalent. 

Data for the first quarter of 2012 revealed that average daily oil production fell to only 2.35 million barrels per day (mbd), down from the 2.51mbd recorded a year earlier. The oil sector also contracted an estimated 2.32 per cent year-on-year (y/y) in first quarter, according to official data.

Regional head of research, Africa Global Research, Standard Chartered Bank, Razia Khan, said this was even as reports of increased bunkering have become more prevalent.

She said with oil output undershooting its 2012 budget assumption of 2.45mbd, the loss of oil revenue was starting to have a meaningful fiscal impact. Although the price of Bonny Light, Nigeria’s light sweet crude exports, remained well above the $72/barrel (bbl) assumed in the 2012 budget, withdrawals from the excess crude account (ECA) for augmentation of budget revenue have been necessary. 

“We estimate that at least N839 billion ($5.24 billion) was withdrawn from the ECA between January and May, to boost Nigeria’s monthly release of statutory oil earnings.

“In May alone, oil revenue was down 8.5 per cent. Nonetheless, improved savings in Nigeria have helped to offset some of the pressure, with injections into the ECA taking place simultaneously. ECA funds had increased to $5.3 billion by June. 

“The alarming aspect of the picture is that the non-oil economy is also slowing. There is a counterpoint to increased savings, however, with oil-sector developments not the only threat facing the economy and with the hydrocarbons sector accounting for a 15 per cent share of GDP in 2011; developments in the non-oil sector representing the other 85 per cent of the economy have long been more important in determining economic growth,” Khan said. “Agriculture, the most important sector, typically accounting for 40 per cent of GDP, grew at its weakest rate in seven years in the first quarter of 2012, increasing by only 4.15 per cent y/y.

“Nigeria’s worsening security situation, the impact of the new-year fuel subsidy adjustment, and possible disruption to the supply of goods and services may all have been to blame. The official GDP release merely alludes to low activity by farmers during the period. It is unclear how soon recovery will materialise.”

Other sectors showing a more pronounced slowdown in growth include wholesale and retail trade. Representing 23 per cent of GDP in the first quarter of 2012, growth in this sector slowed to 8.35 per cent y/y from 11.3 per cent the previous quarter. Rising prices following fuel subsidy reforms, and weaker real disposable incomes were the most likely causes of softer growth. 

Jide Solanke, analyst with FSDH, agreed, saying that, although the Nigerian economy has been recording robust growth rates in the last few years, a critical look at the figures published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the Nigerian economy, as measured by the real GDP growth rate, has been decelerating since the beginning of 2011.

The GDP growth rate in the first quarter of 2011 was 7.13 per cent, lower than 7.36 per cent in first quarter of 2010; 7.61 per cent in second quarter of 2011, lower than 7.69 per cent in second quarter of 2010; 7.3 per cent in third quarter of 2011, lower than 7.86 per cent in the third quarter of 2010; 7.68 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011, lower than 8.36 per cent in fourth quarter of 2010 and finally 6.17 per cent in first quarter of 2012, lower than 7.13 per cent in the first quarter of 2011. 

The growth rate in first quarter of 2012 is the lowest in the last nine quarters and it is worrisome because agriculture, which accounted for an average of 40 per cent of the real GDP in the last nine quarters, recorded the lowest growth rate of 4.15 per cent as against 5.54 per cent in Q1, 2011, and 5.43 per cent in the first quarter of 2010.

 Its contribution to real GDP in the first quarter of 2012 was also the lowest in the last nine quarters. If the current trend continues, the Nigerian economy may soon go into a recession.
Source: Leadership, 23rd July 2012.

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Outrage as NYSC Posts Graduates to Borno, Others

BY OLABISI DEJI-FOLUTILE AND JOHN ALECHENU 

National Youth Service Corps members

Corps members posted to Yobe, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Bornu and Bauchi states have asked the National Youth Service Corps to redeploy them from these trouble states.

The corps members, who expressed sadness as they received their call-up letters for the Batch B NYSC service year, said they were confused as they did not know what to do due to the spate of bombings and other forms of insecurity in these states.

Some of the corps members and their families, who expressed their worries on various social network sites including Facebook and Twitter, said they were extremely sad and disappointed when they received their call-up letters, deploying them to trouble states where there is currently curfew, threats of reprisals and censeless bombings.

Some of the comments on the social network sites read, “We need to arise and stop the government from sentencing us and our loved ones to death. Is our government/NYSC this heartless or simply inhumane? We seek our immediate redeployment, we want to live in places where we can work with peace of mind.’’

Our correspondents learnt that authorities of the NYSC had also been under pressure from parents and prospective corps members posted to northern states, who had been seeking alternative posting.

Our Correspondent learnt in Abuja on Sunday that the NYSC was already collaborating with the affected states on how to ensure security for the corps members posted to their states.

But speaking through the Borno State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Inuwa Bwala, in a telephone interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday, the Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, made a case for corps members to be posted to the state.

He argued that the security situation in the state was being exaggerated by detractors to further isolate the state from the rest of the country.

He said, “While it is true that we have security challenges, it is a fact that these challenges are not exclusive to Borno State.

“We don’t have on record any attack on visitors neither do we have any record of attacks on the NYSC camp or corps members posted to and currently serving in Borno State.”
Source: Punch, 2nd July 2012.

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Protests, Rejection Trail NYSC Postings

JOHN OBA 

The current National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) 2012 Batch ‘B’ orientation course scheduled to open tomorrow is generating a lot of confusion and may witness a boycott in the troubled states across the country as most prospective corps members posted there have vowed not to go.

Also, many parents have refused to release their children, saying that they would rather miss the service than go to a state where there is bombing and killing every day.

LEADERSHIP investigations revealed that most corps members posted to the perceived troubled states are frantically visiting hospitals, looking for health certificates to present as reason for not going to such states.

A parent of one of the corps members posted to one of the north eastern states vowed that his ward would never go to the state. Another prospective corps member posted to a north western said she was confused at what to do since she had just been discharged from the hospital after operation, and scared of the insecurity in the state she was posted.

A parent who did not want his name in print said: “I will not allow my daughter to go to a state where bombing, killings are the order of the day. She can stay and waste one year rather than die.”

Some scolded the NYSC for posting corps members to such troubled states at a time the security challenge is getting worse. Others believed that the management of the scheme was acting like an ostrich that hides its head in the sand while the whole body is outside.

“Why would NYSC post corps members to the troubled states in the country, a parent queried. “Can they send their own children there to serve?”

When LEADERSHIP contacted the director of press and public relations of the NYSC, Mrs. Bose Aderibegbeon, to ascertain the position of the organisation, she said parents that do not want to release their children can wait for the next batch as the scheme cannot force anyone to release their wards. She, however, said corps members jostling for redeployment must resume in the orientation camps to register on the ground that the scheme cannot redeploy unregistered corps members. Aderibegbe further assured parents of the safety of the NYSC camps.

She said: “We cannot force parents to release their children. If they are not releasing them, their children can wait for the next batch, but we can assure that there is not going to be a problem in our camps. And it is the right of those wanting to be redeployed, but they must first resume at the orientation camps for registration because we cannot redeploy unregistered corps members.”
Source: Leadership, 2nd July 2012.

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Why I sacked Azazi – Jonathan

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan 4

BY PRINCE OSUAGWU, EMEKA AGINAM, GODFREY BIVBERE, DAYO ADESULU, MICHAEL EBOH & CHARLES KUMOLU
LAGOS — President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, evening stated the reason for the sack of his erstwhile National Security Adviser, Gen. Andrew Azazi, saying it was to conform with the changing tactics of the Boko Haram insurgency.

He also vowed that the Islamist sect would not bring his government to its knees as he pledged last night to change the face and structure of the administration to combat what he described as the varying strategies of the insurgent group.

Speaking during a presidential media chat, President Jonathan gave reasons why he removed Gen. Andrew Azazi as the National Security Adviser, NSA; why he traveled to Brazil last Tuesday despite the carnage in Kaduna and Yobe states and the administration’s response to the recent scandal involving the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy management.

For the first time President Jonathan also opened the lid on the differences between him and former President Umaru Yar‘adua on the public declaration of assets, noting that no one can blackmail him to now disclose his assets just as he affirmed that he would not dabble into speculations of his ambition concerning the 2015 presidential election. He, nevertheless, revealed that he would not reveal his plans until next year.

The live media chat was anchored by Ohi Alegbe with Tribune Editor, Edward Dickson; Ishak Modibo Kawu, Vanguard columnist and Maupe Ogun of Channels as panellists.

Giving reasons for the recent sack of Azazi as NSA and Dr. Haliru Bello as Minister of Defence, he said that the security challenges faced by the administration has overtime evolved through various stages and forms necessitating changes in the administration to combat the growing insurgency.

Jonathan said his decision to change his National Security Adviser is to conform with the changing tactics of the Boko Haram sect.

According to him: “if you study the evolution of Boko Haram, they are changing their tactics every day, so you also have to change your staff and personnel to beat their styles.”

Why I traveled to Brazil — Jonathan

Responding to public criticism on his travel to Brazil despite the troubles in Kaduna and Yobe, he said the government would not allow the threats from the Islamic militant group to cripple the machinery of government.

“It would have sent a negative signal to the international community, and the Boko Haram sect would have been seen to have achieved their aim of strangulating the government.

“The aim of terrorists all over the world is to strangulate government and ensure that government does not function. If they know I did not travel because of their activities, they would rejoice. If I do not travel because of Boko Haram activities, why should foreigners want to travel to Nigeria? My inability to travel would send a negative signal to the international community,” he added.

He thus vowed that the activities of the sect would not stop government functionaries from moving around or from doing their work, adding that it is committed to ensuring that all the arms of government keep faith with their various international commitments.

“Boko Haram can not bring us to our knees, this government must keep faith with our international business allies, notwithstanding the threat of the sect. We must do all in our powers to stop them and we must stop them.”

Boko Haram aiming to destabilize my government

Jonathan further stated that the aim of the Boko Haram sect is to destabilize the government, saying that the various attacks on churches are aimed at instigating religious violence.

He also alleged that if Christians do not retaliate, the sect would adopt a change of strategy by attacking mosques, in a bid to achieve their aim. However, he promised that his government will surely bring the Boko Haram menace to an end.

“Boko Haram aims to destabilize the government. By attacking the churches, they hope that Christians will retaliate against the Muslims. If the Christians fail to retaliate, the same sect will start attacking mosques, hoping the Muslims will attack the Christians.”

He said that the government is ready to dialogue with the sect, but that the only problem was that the sect is faceless and the government cannot dialogue with a faceless body or group.

Asset Declaration

For the first time the President responded to critics on his failure to publicly declare his assets as he did when he was Vice-President. He explained that while he was Vice-President he disagreed with former President Yar‘adua on the principle of public declaration of assets saying that it was an unnecessary step. Describing it as an anomalous action, Jonathan said that he told the late President that they should not start something that they could not control saying that they could not as well compel all other senior officials of government to follow their action.

He, however, confessed that he had to declare his assets publicly then because he was under President Yar‘adua, but affirmed that no one can now compel or intimidate him to do so, saying that would not “improve the economy, would not stop the Boko Haram menace and would not advance governance in any way.”

“When I was Vice President, I declared my assets, because the President then did. In any case, between the time when I was Vice President and President was just a few months, so what would I have acquired within that short time?”

He however, stated that he has nothing to hide and could even decide to declare tomorrow, if he so wishes.

Speaking on the fight against corruption, he defended the government’s decision to sack the former boss of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, saying: “When I give people work and assignment, I give them time and the latitude to do the job. It is when they are not performing that I take action. Everybody likes the new boss, Lamorde, people like his mode of operation and I do too.”

He, however, noted the procedural difficulties in bringing corrupt persons to book. “To arrange a case file to prosecute corrupt criminals is difficult and it would be wrong to convict an innocent person. It is better for nine criminals to go scot-free than to convict one innocent person.”

He urged the public to allow both Lamorde and the Acting Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC to do their job.

Fuel subsidy probe

On the fuel subsidy probe scandal in the House of Representatives, he said the reference to patrons of the PDP as being behind the scandal was uncalled for.

“The PDP has a board of trustees and since the fuel subsidy probe report was made known, no PDP member was indicted in that report. So the claims that PDP was indicted are wrong. All the noise that the President is part of the Farouk sting operation is wrong. Yes, I have heard about the Farouk issue and the matter is being investigated by relevant agencies. As a president I don’t have time for that. Femi Otedola is a business man, why would I be involved in the sting operation?

“The questions on Farouk are questions you have to take up with the SSS. One thing I discovered is that criticising Jonathan and Jonathan’s administration is a serious business among Nigerians. People don’t know that I initiated the subsidy probe before the Senate and the House of Representatives started it.

“Just yesterday I read a story in Punch Newspapers and I have directed the EFCC to start investigating Nigeria’s accounts in the United States following the newspaper report.”

The President also asked Nigerians to give him time to fix the country’s epileptic power situation.

He disclosed that some power transformers to address the issue were already on ground but regretted the absence of some needed infrastructure.

“Some of the basic things needed before the importation of more transformers were not put in place. For example, the pipelines that would bring gas to the turbines have not been put in place. Where the transmission lines would pass are not ready also. However, with time we would get over it.“The gas Nigeria is depending upon belongs to multinational companies and they have invested heavily on it. It takes time to address this issue with the multinational companies, with time it would be addressed. Periodically, the Minister of Power will brief the country on this issue.”

Increase in PHCN Tariff

On the increase in electricity tariff, he said: “Nigerians have been paying tariffs before now. What we did was to adjust the tariff for Nigerians to pay more. Those with low income will pay less than what they were paying before now, while higher income consumers will pay more.

“If we can generate electricity freely and distribute it freely without it affecting our economy we would have done so.”

On the time frame for steady power supply, he said the government is working to improve the power situation in the country, adding however, that the government cannot give a specific time frame.”

The President also spoke on his administration’s efforts to revive the railways saying that his government should be praised for what it has done.

2015 Presidency

Asked on his plans for the 2015 elections, the President said that it was quite early to make a declaration saying that he would not allow himself to be distracted on the issue. Pressed on the issue, the President said he would not make his public intention until two years into the lifespan of his administration.

“When you ask me about 2015, I will say that it is not proper for any president given our circumstances. If I say so, whether left or right, people will misinterpret it.

“We have just spent one year. If I say I am running, the polity will be overheated. Allow us at least the next two years before we start talking about 2015.

“I said so during one of our PDP meetings that we should concentrate now and forget about 2015 debate. If we start campaigning now, we will end up campaigning for the next four years.”

UNILAG

Defending the process in renaming the University of Lagos after the late democracy icon, Moshood Abiola, he said that there is no law compelling him to send a proposal to the National Assembly before declaring the name change. “In establishing a university, the university is set up first, before it is sent to the National Assembly to ratify. In name change, we have to declare the new name before sending it to the National Assembly.

“There is no law that says that we must first of all consult with the National Assembly or the Senate of the University before coming up with the new name.”
Source: Business Day, 25th June 2012.

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Why President Fired NSA, Defence Minister

FROM MADU ONUORAH, ABUJA

BY the demeanour of President Goodluck Jonathan on his arrival from the Rio Earth Summit on Friday morning, it was clear that all was not well. The security situation was weighing heavily on his mind. And already, an emergency meeting of the National Security Council was on the schedule for that day. The full membership was expectedly in attendance.

They include President Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Minister of Defence, Dr Bello Haliru Mohammed, National Security Adviser, Gen Andrew Owoye Azazi, Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin; Chief of Army Staff, General Onyeabo Azubuike Ihejirika; Chef of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar and Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Dikko Abubakar.

Sources told The Guardian that President Jonathan wasted no time in expressing his anger at the state of insecurity and loss of lives in the country. He then demanded for a full and up to date brief on the security situation from concerned security chiefs. He demanded to know why it was difficult to arrest the deteriorating situation. And for about four hours, officials including the former NSA, Gen Azazi briefed the meeting.

But in the end, President Jonathan made it clear that he was not impressed with the efforts made towards maintaining a conducive security situation. It was at the meeting that the president resolved to make some strategic changes in the security and defence sectors in order to inject new blood and renewed vigour in the war against terror. For him, Gen Azazi and Dr Mohammed had to go.

From the mood of the members of the Council after the meeting, reporters and other state house staffers could not detect any coming bombshell. Even Gen Azazi fielded questions from journalists on the outcome of the meeting, though he parried the answers. But he did not seem bothered by the outcome of the meeting.

With his mind made up, President Jonathan directed Presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati to issue a statement in that direction. The spokesman first sent out word on the sack of Gen Azazi on twitter. He followed up later, adding that Dr Mohammed had also been dropped from the cabinet.

From that time, it was a frenzy on the authenticity of the twitter feeds. The confirmation came even before the press release.

Later a full statement on the changes was released by the Office of the Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity). The three paragraph statement signed by Dr Abati read: “

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Friday appointed retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki as the new National Security Adviser (NSA).

“Colonel Dasuki, a one-time Aide de Camp (ADC) to former military President General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), replaced former NSA, General Andrew Owoeye Azazi (rtd).

“President Jonathan also dropped Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed as the Minister of Defence.”

Meanwhile, the President is expected to hold a two-hour interaction with the media and Nigerians tonight to address growing fears on the challenges facing the country, especially the security issues. Presidential spokesman, Dr. Abati in a two-paragraph statement last night said; “President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will host seasoned journalists at the Presidential Media Chat tomorrow, Sunday June 24, 2012 at 7pm”.
Source: The Guardian, 24th June 2012.

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Stop Distracting President’s Attention – Aliyu Appeals

Governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu

BY ABU NMODU 

The Governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, has said that people should stop distracting President Goodluck Jonathan with talk about 2015 general election which is three years away.

Aliyu who spoke, yesterday, in Minna said that politicians especially those angling for elective positions should not “worry about 2015 because 2015 belongs to God”.

He said that “nobody knows who will see tomorrow, tomorrow is in the hands of God” and therefore said that the talk about 2015 should not be used to disturb the President’s concentration on the task at hand.

The Governor said that 2014 is the most ideal year for politicians to commence talks about those that would take over from the present crop of elected public officials

“Allow us to work, we can start the noise in 2014. As for me, I cannot run for Governor again people should allow me to work for the people who elected me so that they will know I got my PHD from the classroom not honorary”.

Aliyu however said that those who thought they could not live up to responsibilities given to them should decline  and said that if any leader deceived the people such a leader could not deceive God.

He said that the people should not hide under deprivations and poverty to destroy public property as witnessed during the last subsidy protest in the state and said that people must begin to see public property as their own.
Source: Leadership, 8th June 2012.

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16 killed, 83 injured as security operatives raid MASSOB offices

MASSOB Killing

FROM UZOMA NZEAGWU , AWKA

A COMBINED team of the police, army and other security operatives yesterday killed about 16 members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and  injured  83 others as they raided the offices  of the group in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra State and its environs.

Also arrested during the raid that lasted from Monday night to yesterday morning were over 500  members of the group, including women at different locations in the state.

The MASSOB National Director of Information and the Onitsha Region Four Administrator, Uchenna Madu and Chief Arinze Igbani, who briefed reporters over the incident, declared that the raid on their offices by the security operatives was unwarranted and provocative, saying that it was a renewed plot by the army to resume a systematic clampdown on MASSOB.

Madu said : “At about 5 p.m., a detachment of security operatives, numbering over 50, allegedly broke into MASSOB office along ‘Pam Pam’ lane at the Onitsha Main Market. They vandalized the office, set the Biafran flag ablaze and then ordered all those in the  neighbourhood to lie down in the flood.”

He also alleged that the team  invaded MASSOB’s central office along Kilometre Seven , Owerri Road, Onitsha where a security meeting of the movement was holding and opened fire on the people, arresting and  killing some of the  members on the spot. The team also allegedly made away with the bodies of the dead persons.

The MASSOB leaders urged the immediate and unconditional release of all its members that were arrested or they  be arraigned  in court.

They also urged security operatives to stop further attacks on MASSOB offices, and that they should  respect the sanctity of the Biafran flag.

“MASSOB is non-violent, we have assisted the security operatives in fishing out criminals especially in Onitsha where we have handed over 15 notorious armed robbers and car snatchers to the police”, he said.

They appealed to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Azubike Ihejirika and the Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar to call their men to order, suggesting that the state Commissioner of Police and the Onitsha 302 Army Commander should always contact the MASSOB leaders whenever they thought they were going beyond control.

When contacted, the Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Emeka Chukwuemeka, confirmed the operation but noted that he was yet to be officially briefed on the number of arrests and casualties recorded.

Source: The Guardian, 6th June 2012.

 

16 Feared Dead As Security Operatives Raid MASSOB Office

By David-Chyddy Eleke

No fewer than 16 members of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), were yesterday feared dead, when a combined team of the Army, Police and SSS raided MASSOB offices in the commercial city of Onitsha.

83 members of the group were also said to have sustained bullet wounds, while over 500 others were arrested.

  MASSOB’s National Director of Information and the Onitsha Region four Administrator, Uchenna Madu and Chief Arinze Igbani, stated that the raid was a renewed plot by the Army to resume the systematic clampdown on MASSOB.

  The duo said that, a detachment of security operatives, numbering over 50, allegedly stormed MASSOB office along ‘Pam Pam’ lane located inside the Onitsha Main Market and when they could not find any member inside the office, they broke in, vandalised the office, set the Biafran flag ablaze and then ordered all the neighbourhood to lie down and swim on the flood.

  They said that the actions were unwarranted, especially in Onitsha where the group had severally assisted security agents by arresting kidnappers and robbers, and handing them over to the police.

   LEADERSHIP gathered that the action of the security operatives was fueled by a violent protest on Sunday by youths from Obosi, while demanding tenement rate from residents.

  The youths were said to have adorned MASSOB insignia, giving them away as members of the group. Madu insisted that the youths are not their members but may have been up to mischief if they actually wore their t-shirts.

Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Emeka Chukwuemeka, confirmed the operation but noted that he was yet to be officially briefed on the number of arrests and casualties recorded. 

Source: Leadership, 5th June 2012.

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CPC & PDP

Nigeria: 2015 - Between the North and the Presidency

BY ANDREW AGBESE

The feeling that a president from the northern part of the country is long overdue in the present dispensation is premised mainly on the details of the zoning arrangement, worked out by the People's Democratic Party, PDP, as the country prepared to return to democratic rule in 1999.

Going by the overwhelming support the idea was accorded at inception, it appeared more like an aberration for anyone to have gone against the grain of the accord, which succeeded in solving some of the socio-political problems of the country in one fell swoop, by convincing some sections of the country that no one part intended to hold the mantle of leadership forever as it was being alleged and further, calmed the agitation over the perceived wrong done to the South Western part of the country over the June 12 imbroglio which clamour had reached a level many concluded, became laden with the potency of dividing the country.

But no sooner had the implementation of the agreement taken off than it began to show signs of strains owing to the shoddy manner it was conceived which left many aspects unattended to.

One, it was obvious that even if it was agreed that the office be zoned, it was not stated whether it should be for one or two terms to a particular zone and closely following that was whether the arrangement recognized the six geo-political zones as single entities to benefit in turns or gave privilege to the broader divide of North and South such that once a zone from a from any of the two had it, then it would go to only any of the other zones in the broader perspective in the subsequent dispensation.

Later another unresolved puzzle of zoning was revealed, which had to do with who succeeds the president when an occupant of the office from a particular zone dies or leaves office since the vice president, by the larger arrangement, usually hails from a different zone.

At the end, all the questions begging for answers which were hitherto kept aside, confronted the nation and the need to answer all practically led the country to a whole gamut of experience.

In 2003, the likes of Late Abubakar Rimi and Chief Barnabas Gemade, answered the first question by resolving that the zoning arrangement by the PDP prescribed only a term for a zone, and they duo from the northern part of the country, moved and contested the PDP presidential primaries.

In 2007, while there were serious disagreements by other zones over the classification of the zones spelt in the arrangement, then President Olusegun Obasanjo who had served his constitutionally allowed two terms, provided the answer himself by stopping most of the contenders like Peter Odili, Donald Duke and others from contesting the PDP primaries, making Umaru Musa Yar'adua, then governor of Katsina State, the PDP approved sole contender.

The question of what happens when the occupant of the office dies however proved more difficult to resolve as all manners of sentiments were brought into the mix, when President Yar'adua died, but at the end, the matter resolved itself in default and the Vice President to Yar'adua who hailed from another zone, was cleared to vie for the PDP presidential ticket.

As another election year approaches, similar agitations have started with the North now coming out boldly to demand for the office.

The Northern Governor's Forum, which had in the past preferred to play the ostrich on such matters made its position on the issue clear saying they would this time collectively work to see to the emergence of a president of northern extraction.

Chairman of the forum and governor of Niger state, Alhaji Babangida Muazu Aliyu said the governors would not allow what happened in 2011 to repeat itself in 2015 as they would unite against candidates from the South. "We must be united more than ever to go into the 2015 elections as one entity with the aim of producing the president," he said.

But even with the proclamation by the northern governors, it is clear that the road to 2015 will not be that smooth for the north as a number of factors stand between the north and 2015.

In terms of voting population, the north has always had an upper hand and had in the distant past presented itself as a monolith that cannot be broken. But in recent times, some of the states in the north central zone have opted to act differently in protest to the general position of the others states in the north. But even with that schism, the voter population of the region has remained quite attractive to any major contender for the office of the president that cannot be ignored.

The 2011 number of voters shows the five South Eastern states as having a voter population of 7.028 million, while the South West has over 14. 298 million and the South South; 8.937 million, compared to the North central's; 7. 675 million, North East; 10.038, and North West; 18.900 million

But with last week's statement by Chief Edwin Clark, that Jonathan will contest the 2015 election, many have concluded that there's not going to be any flip flop on the matter as Clark may have spoken the minds of the President.

If experience is anything to go by, then that would be the greatest stumbling block on the part of the north towards attaining the presidency in 2015. The reason is not farfetched. In Nigeria the office of the president comes with a lot of influence and power. This many say accounts for why in the history of the country, no incumbent at the federal level has been defeated. Since 1960 through all the republics, the ruling party at the top always manages to bounce back despite its performance in office.

In 2011, through the combination of the use of all the privileges of office, most states in the north gave Jonathan who was contesting against three major northern candidates, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the CPC, Nuhu Ribadu of the ACN and Ibrahim Shekarau of the ANPP no less than 25 percent of the votes cast in their respective states to add to the near hundred percent he recorded in the South East and South South.

This is believed to have been made possible through the control of the machinery of government, which includes the security and election agencies, unrestricted access to finance and the capacity to make other subtle offers.

The scenario does not appear to look different in 2015 should Jonathan decide to contest as all the factors that worked in his favour in 2011 would be readily available to him.

Though the South East is said to be making moves to position itself in the contest, the threat would pale into insignificance if President Jonathan is to declare interest in contesting.

Another factor is the control of the PDP by the presidency. Already, it has been made clear with whom the PDP national chairman would prefer to go to bed as he owes his election to the office to the presidency.

His choice as PDP national chairman is said to be part of a plot to stop former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who hails from the same place with him. Who gets the PDP ticket is important because so far, in terms of national spread, the PDP can be said to be the most popular party as the others have their support bases restricted to certain geo-political zones. With the control Jonathan has over the PDP, it is difficult seeing how any other party member can upstage him for the ticket.

Another thing is the usual failure of the opposition to reach an agreement on time to give the PDP a run for its money. Many a time, when the idea of a merger is mooted, individual differences and selfish interests are overplayed over the will to see to the trouncing of the PDP.

How this can be avoided in 2015 is not yet clear as Gen. Buhari who is being positioned to contest for the seat in 2015 on a joint opposition ticket is not likely to step down for anybody, even if odds seem to favour a marriage of other individuals, while the likes of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who are likely to run on the platform of the PDP, may not want to join forces with Buhari even if they fail to clinch the PDP ticket but would at worst move to their own parties to test their popularity. This has been the case since 2007.

If all the parties and major candidates go into the race individually, the PDP may again take advantage of the division to pull a fast one, as it had done in the past.
Source: Daily Trust, 31st May 2012

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Ex-Commonwealth SecretaryAnyaoku: focus on insecurity not 2015

Former Commonwealth Secretary General Emeka Anyaoku

By Vincent Ikuomola, Abuja

Government and politicians should focus on the security challenges and other issues affecting Nigerians rather than dissipate energy on the 2015 elections, former Commonwealth Secretary General Emeka Anyaoku advised yesterday.

Allowing 2015 to dominate national discourse now, he said, will only confirm the view that Nigerian politicians are only interested in self-aggrandisement.

Anyaoku spoke as Chairman at the Democracy Day National Symposium held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja. He urged politicians and the media to shun the debate on the 2015 elections, for now.

He said the main focus of public debates should be how to tackle the challenges of insecurity, development and job creation.

President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo attended the symposium.

Other dignitaries include House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha, representative of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghie, former President Shehu Shagari, former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, Secretary to the Government of the Federation Anyim Pius Anyim and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

Also present were Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman Bamanga Tukur, former Director General of the State Security Service (SSS) Col. Kayode Are, Chief Edwin Clark, Guild of Editors President Mr Gbenga Adefaye and many others

Anyaoku said: “I have only two messages in my brief chairman’s remarks. The first is to urge our politicians, and here I must also add our media too, to spare the nation the distraction of engaging now in public debate on the 2015 elections. This is only the first of a four-year political dispensation.

“We must not allow preoccupation with the 2015 elections to confirm the view that our politicians are only interested in self-aggrandisement, with the result that our national politics is bereft of active ideas on how to uplift the country and improve the quality of life of our citizens.

“ The main focus of our public debates at this time should be how to tackle the massively destructive challenges currently facing the nation.

“Our democracy, like democracy in many other countries, has over the last year faced a number of serious challenges.

“We - the government, the corporate sector, the civil organisations and the citizenry - must in all our activities be driven by the commitment and desire to work for the good of the majority of our citizens. It is only in this way that we can be confident of continuing to celebrate in years to come, our Democracy Day in a united and indivisible country,” he added.

Anyaoku noted that the Jonathan administration had set the national compass in the right and inspiring direction, especially in the agenda set for power supply, agricultural development, roads and railway as well as macro-economic management.

He called for the commitment of the corporate sector, the civil organisations and the citizenry in the realisation of the set goals.

President Jonathan said the Executive once contemplated approaching the Supreme Court for interpretation on whose prerogative it was to prepare budget.

He also said for the nation’s democracy to yield dividends, the legislative and executive arms of government must work together for the good of democracy.

House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal accused the executive of shunning the responsibility of assenting to bills passed by the legislature, saying this has been a challenge to lawmakers.

They both spoke at the Democracy Day Symposium with the theme “Our Democracy: Progress and Challenges”.

Jonathan noted that for democracy to be meaningful, the government must have a budget to manage the economy. He, however, said budgeting has always been a source of friction between the Executive and the legislature.

He noted that every time the budget is sent to the National Assembly for approval, it is always distorted and this does not go down well with the executive that prepared it according to needs and resources available.

The President noted that the situation got to a point in 2008 when the Executive wanted to approach the apex court for interpretation on the budget appropriation.

“For democracy to be meaningful to this country and for us not to have conflict and for us to render good service, we must have budget; budget is a law. The Constitution said the Executive must have a budget for you to be able to plan and manage the economy of the country. If you send your budget to the National Assembly and they tear it to pieces and package what they like to you, you start planning and managing the economy, we have challenges every year.

“We even wanted to go to court, so that the Supreme Court would tell us if it is the duty of the National Assembly to plan the economy. This was in 2008. Let them do the budget, hand over to us we will implement, but if it is our duty, then they should listen to us because the executive arm of government has a ministry for planning and finance and work with the Central Bank.

“Budgets are not created from the moon; it is based on projections, commitments and funding and what you see sometimes could be disturbing. This has been a major conflict between National Assembly and the Executive, the Speaker mentioned it; that is why I am raising it. These are little things, if both arms of government work together. My plea is legislative and the executive arms of government of the same political party, must work together for democracy to be meaningful to Nigerians,” he said.

The President added: “One other area is that we are still confused between the democratic government and military dictatorship. If we must practice democracy, no matter how bad you feel about any situation, you must follow the rule of law.

“As we speak, we have about N185 billion judgment debt for this country. Most of them because of decisions taken by government not properly thought through but because people push you to take such decisions. When people go to court, the government is being fined, I have told the Attorney-General that we must stop this.

“Nigerians should encourage us to follow rule of law to get to where you want to go, we will follow the rule of law in our transformation programme and as we progress.

“In any government, the first year is more of a planning year. For you to succeed you must plan; we have planned and carried out a number of programmes. I believe Nigerians will agree with us that we have tried.”

Adefaye, who spoke on behalf of the media, praised the administration for expanding the scope of democracy by identifying with the media.

He said the gesture demonstrated the realisation of the government to the fact that the media is a major pillar for democratic development.

Adefaye lauded the passage of the FOI law by the administration, noting that the law has promoted citizens participation in governance and greater than any other material development.

He urged the government to pay more attention to the security, employment generation and development of key infrastructure, particularly power.

Mr Frank Nweke jr, on behalf of the private sector, said the administration in the past one year had witnessed increased private sector participation in the development and provision of key infrastructure.

He called on Nigerians to support the administration’s reform programmes for the power sector, noting that it would encourage private investors to invest and develop the sector.

The Interim president of National Youth Council, Ajani Olawale, decried the level youth employment and attributed it to national insecurity.

He noted that it is only in an atmosphere of peace that the nation can develop.

National Council of Women’s Societies (NCWS) President Mrs Nkechi Mba praised Jonathan Administration for appointing women as ministers of key sectors, such as Petroleum, Finance and Aviation among others.

Mrs Mba said the decoration of the first woman pilot combatant and the anticipated appointment of the first woman Chief Justice of Nigeria after the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent CJN are credit to the administration.

She also commended the National Assembly for the appointment of a woman as Majority Leader in the House of Representatives.

Are, identified the primary goals of any government as the security and welfare of the citizenry.

He advised that government should avoid selective enforcement of laws, policisation of security matters, as well as partisan and sectoral interest in dealing with security issues.
Source: The Nation, 29th May 2012.

 

Forget 2015 now, Anyaoku tells office holders

Hon. Tambuwal accused the executive arm of shuning the responsibility to assent to bills passed by the legislature, saying this had been a challenge to lawmakers. According to him, the situation does not augur well for the relationship between the legislative and executive arms of governmentnd does not portray the government in good light.

On his part, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said there were 870,000 multiple registrations recorded during the 2011 elections while the commission had only successfully prosecuted 200 electoral offenders.

While admiting that considerable progress was made in the conduct of free, fair and credible elections with the 2011 general elections, he, however, identified the absence of internal democracy in the political parties as one of the major challenges of the commission, adding that the prosecution of electoral offences was another key area that should be looked into with the creation of special Electoral Offences Tribunal.

Anyaoku appealed to politicians and the media to shun the debate on the 2015 elections for now, adding that the Jonathan administration was just a year old in the four-year dispensation. According to Anyaoku, “I have only two messages in my brief Chairman’s remarks. The first is to urge our politicians, and here I must also add our media too, to spare the nation the distraction of engaging now in public debate on the 2015 elections. This is only the first of a four-year political dispensation.

“We must not allow preoccupation with the 2015 elections to confirm the view that our politicians are only interested in self-aggrandizement, with the result that our national politics is bereft of active ideas on how to uplift the country and improve the quality of life of our citizens.“ The main focus of our public debates at this time should be how to tackle the massively destructive challenges currently facing the nation.”

He said the country has an undoubted potential for greatness, noting further that her size and diversity offer immesurable benefits to all its peoples no matter religion, ethnicity, or place of birth. Anyaoku noted that the Jonathan administration had set the national compass in the right and inspiring direction especially in the agenda set for power supply, agricultural development, roads and railway as well macro-economic management.

He called for the commitment of the corporate sector, the civil organisations and the citizenry in the realisation of the set goals.

Also in his remarks, the President, Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Mr Gbenga Adefaye, commended the administration for expanding the scope of democracy by identifying with the media. He said the gesture had demonstrated the realisation of government to the fact that media is a major pillar for democratic development.

Adefaye lauded the passage of FOI Bill into law by the administration, noting that the legislation has promoted citizens’ participation in governance and greater than any other material development. He appealed to the government to pay more attention to the security, employment generation and development of key infrastructure, particularly power.

Mr Frank Nweke Jr, on behalf of the private sector, said the Jonathan’s government had in the past one year witnessed increased private sector participation in the development and provisions of key infrastructure.

He called on Nigerians to support its reform programmes for the power sector, noting that it would encourage the private entrepreneurs to invest and develop the sector. The interim president of National Youth Council, Ajani Olawale, decried the level of youth unemployment and attributed it to national insecurity, noting that it is only in an atmosphere of peace that the nation can develop.

The president of National Council of Women’s Societies (NCWS), Mrs. Nkechi Mba, who said her views represented those of 250 affiliate women societies including market women, commended the administration for its gender friendliness.

She said women got a fair deal in the Jonathan administration with the appointments of some of them as ministers of key sectors like petroleum, finance and aviation. Nkechi said the decoration of the first female pilot combatant and the anticipated appointment of the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) after the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent, were credit to the administration.

Former Director-General of the State Security Services (SSS), Mr Kayode Are, identified the primary goals of any government as the security and welfare of the citizenry. He note that both could be achieved through the maintenance of law and order and provisions of public services and goods.

Are advised that government should avoid selective enforcement of laws, politicisation of security matters, as well as partisan and sectoral interests in dealing with security issues. The President of FCT Market Women Association, Mrs. Felicia Sani, regretted that the government is paying lip service to fighting corruption and is thereby setting bad precedence to the youths.

Also in attendance were Vice President Namadi Sambo Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha, representative of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), former President Shehu Shagari, former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and members of diplomatic corps, Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark and PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur.
Source: Sun, 29th May 2012.

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Reuters: Jonathan Backs Okonjo-Iweala for World Bank’s Top Job

Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

REUTERS

Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo are set to be nominated to lead the World Bank, sources with knowledge of emerging market efforts to find candidates have said.

The candidacies of Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo, who have credentials as both economists and diplomats and according to sources the respective backing of Brazil and South Africa, pose a challenge to the United States, whose hold on the top post has never been contested.

But with its majority of votes and the expected support of European countries, the United States is still likely to ensure that another American will succeed Robert Zoellick, who plans to step down when his term expires at the end of June.

Washington has held the presidency since the Bank's founding after World War Two, while a European has always led the International Monetary Fund. It has yet to publicly identify a nominee to succeed Zoellick.

The deadline for submitting nominations is Friday, and the Obama administration has said it will name a candidate by then.

All of the World Bank's 187 members nations have committed to a merit-based process to select Zoellick's successor.

Emerging and developing economies have long talked up their desire to break U.S. and European dominance of the Bretton Woods Institutions, but have until now have failed to build a coalition large enough to change the status quo.

Three sources said Ocampo, currently a professor at Columbia University in New York, would be formally nominated by Brazil.

One source said Okonjo-Iweala, who also doubles as the Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, could be nominated on Wednesday, while two other sources said it would be Friday.

Nominations will be submitted to the 25-member World Bank board, which has said it will decide on the next president within the next month.

Two sources said Okonjo-Iweala's candidacy had the blessing of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who convinced her to join his cabinet last year to lend more weight to his reform agenda.

The decision to nominate Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo followed weeks of discussions among emerging and developing countries at the World Bank board including China and India.

Two sources said South Africa's director at the World Bank board, Renosi Mokate, who also represents Nigeria and other English-speaking African countries, personally flew to Abuja to consult with Okonjo-Iweala about her nomination.

"The impressive credentials of both Ocampo and Okonjo-Iweala puts tremendous pressure on the White House to come up with a candidate of at least equivalent standing," said Domenico Lombardi, a former World Bank board official now at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

"This signals a big shift and really reflects a game change," Lombardi added. "This is the first time in history we have a truly contested election."

Okonjo-Iweala, who left the World Bank as managing director last year to become Nigeria's Finance Minister, and Ocampo, a former U.N. under-secretary for economic and social affairs, will join American economist Jeffrey Sachs, who has the backing of a handful of small countries, on the nomination list.

Sources with knowledge of the administration's thinking say Washington has focused on convincing a woman to enter the race, which could go some way to address calls by emerging market nations for change. A woman has never led the bank.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was a leading contender, however, it is not clear she wants the job, sources have said. Former adviser to President Barack Obama, Lawrence Summers, has also been short-listed for the job. He has declined to comment.

U.S. Senator John Kerry and PepsiCo's Indian-born CEO Indra Nooyi also made an Obama administration shortlist, according to a source, although Kerry has publicly ruled out the job and Nooyi is no longer in contention, according to another source.

Sachs has said he aims to challenge with his candidacy what he sees as a history of political appointments by the White House and acknowledges he does not have the support of the Obama administration. He was formally nominated by Bhutan and a grouping of developing countries including East Timor, Jordan, Kenya, Namibia and Malaysia.

Lombardi said the test was whether large emerging economies like China would rally support for Ocampo and Okonjo-Iweala, or in the end vote for a U.S. nominee.

Last year, Brazil and China failed to rally around Mexico's central bank chief, Agustin Carstens, for the top post at the IMF, instead favouring former French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who now heads the institution.

The United States has insisted that to keep funding flowing from Congress for the World Bank, it is important to retain the presidency.

It is unclear if big emerging nations such as China and India would support a fellow developing nation candidate.

He Fan, deputy director of the institute of world economics and politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think-tank, said he thought Beijing would do so.

But Yi Xianrong, an economist at the same institute, said "the most important thing is to have a capable person with energy and expertise...it doesn't matter whether the candidate is from the United States, Germany or developing countries."

"We need to see whether the candidates' value standards and judgment are in line with the World Bank's goals. We can increase our influence in the World Bank through increases in our voting rights," Yi added.

A senior Indian government source said it didn't "have any favourites, no probables."

With just two days left, India is not planning to change that position. Asked whether India would support a developing world candidate, the source said, "If it comes up we will decide; let's see."
Source, This Day, 21st March 2012.

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Okonjo-Iweala tipped for World Bank president

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala 10

With just four days to go for nations to put forward nominees to lead the World Bank, the Minister of Finance and former Managing Director of the bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is among the candidates being considered for the post of President of the global institution.

Reuters reported on Monday that the two most talked about names among developing countries for the top job were Okonjo-Iweala and the South African Planning Minister, Trevor Samuel.

It was gathered that the developing and emerging market economies were currently in consultations on putting forward names of non-United States candidates.

The dilemma for developing regions, according to the report, however, is finding candidates willing to come forward in a race in which the outcome is felt to be pre-ordained.

However, former Indonesian Finance minister and current World Bank Managing Director, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, and Mexico’s Central Bank Governor, Agustin Carstens, have ruled themselves out.

World Bank board sources were also quoted as saying that there were talks underway about the possibility of appointing a candidate from a developing or emerging economy to head the bank’s private-sector lender, the International Finance Corporation.

IFC’s chief executive officers have mainly been European.

The United States has held the presidency of the bank since its founding after World War II, while a European has always led its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund.

But Washington has yet to publicly identify a candidate and some observers think the delay could signal that the White House is having a hard time convincing possible candidates to take the job.

The White House and Treasury Department have declined to comment.

Sources with knowledge of the administration’s thinking said the hope was to convince a woman to enter the race to replace Robert Zoellick, who has said he will step down when his term expires at the end of June.

Naming a woman could go some way to address calls from emerging-market nations for a change in the status quo. A woman has never led the bank.
Source: Punch, 20th March 2012.

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Revenue allocation: Look inward for more money, Jonathan tells Northern governors

By Yomi Odunuga and Daniel Essiet, Makurdi 

President Jonathan (This Day)

Governors who are pushing for a readjustment of the revenue sharing formula got a candid advice from President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday: they should develop the natural resources in their states to generate more funds instead of relying on the shares from oil exploitation.

The President believes that if the states partner with the private sector and create the enabling environment for investment to thrive, there would be less emphasis on the oil revenues, as most of the states would be self-sufficient.

He therefore urged the state governments to draw up an agenda aimed at reviving the dead sectors of the economy.

Jonathan spoke in Makurdi, the Benue State capital yesterday during the commissioning of Teragro, a subsidiary of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp) and the first fruit concentrates processing factory in the country.

Following the dismal poverty rate released by the Bureau of Statistics recently, the 19 governors of the northern states called for a review of the revenue formula they said was in favour of some states, particularly the oil-producing states in the South-South.

The President’s statement is seen as a veiled response to the push for a review of the revenue allocation formula, including the derivation sharing ratio; a development that has divided the governors along regional lines.

The President said: “We have resources in all parts of the country to sell. All states of the federation have products they can export.  The governors should work with private sector operators to produce and sell what they have not only to Nigerians but also for export.

“Nigeria is an agro-based economy even before the civil war and that is why they did not borrow money to prosecute the war.  We should be able to revive this process like it happened in those period where oil is not an issue.

“If we create the enabling environment and liase with the private sector, people will not need to steal or go into 419 before they can make it.”

Arguing that the tranformation agenda of the administration would be based on the involvement of the private sector in developing the economy, the President described the commissioning of the factory as “good example of all we have been doing.”

“The idea is good because if you get concentrates, it will be easy to export since it is always difficult to export raw fruits.

He commended the state governor, Gabriel Suswam, for seeing that a factory that could not be commissioned by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007 was finally made to work with the patnership of the private sector.

Earlier in his speech, the Chairman of Transcorp, Mr. Tony Elumelu, said the corporation decided to venture into the agro business as a way of pushing forward the tranformation agenda of the administration and generate employment for the generality of Nigerians.

“What we are doing today is an answer to your call for transformation starting with agriculture. We will conserve foreign exchange with the commissioning of this factory and we are also planning to export fruit concentrates abroad. 

“Already, we are getting calls from Europe amd elsewhere and they have shown interest in what we are doing.” 
Source: The Nation, 10th March 2012.

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Northern Govs Insist on Revenue Sharing Formula Review

Niger State Governor, Dr. Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu
Governor Mu’azu  Babangida Aliyu

By  John Shiklam

Governor of Niger state and Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum (NGF) and governor  of Niger State, Dr. Mu’azu  Babangida Aliyu, Wednesday said nobody could  intimidated governors of the 19 Northern states over calls for the review of the revenue allocation formula.

Speaking at the opening of the annual conference and general assembly of Society for Peace Studies and Practice, which was held at the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre, Jaji, Kaduna State,  Aliyu said  the North had been short changed  in the  nation’s revenue allocation formula.

He said genuine peace in the Nigerian society can only be realised when there was equity and justice, which according to him are the panacea for the current security challenges in the country.

According to him, as governors, the people were expecting a lot from them as “everybody wants the governor to do this and that and our diamond and gold has not come out from the ground and even our oil from the Chad Basin has not come out from the ground.

“So, there is a limit to what any Northern state would be able to do. If you hear us cry for the improvement of the revenue formula, it is because we believe that we are being short changed.” 

He argued that the 1999 Constitution provided that the revenue formula should be reviewed every 10 years, pointing out that: “It is now over twenty years that the nation’s revenue formula was looked at and we made that statement and believe me, since we made that statement, people have decided to read it their own way because they are looking for things to do.”

“We did not attack derivation because even during independence, there was the principle of derivation. But till tomorrow, I will continue to talk about the old oil wells that were there in the ocean 200 miles away. It does not belong to any state,” he said.

“There is a Supreme Court judgment on that and we do not understand why the National Assembly passed it into law. So, the President of that time, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, refused to sign that law and they overruled him. I want to know, maybe there are lawyers here to tell me, when there is a Supreme Court judgment on the ground and then later on the National Assembly passed  the law, which one should I stand upon.

“That is all I am asking, but you see, every newspaper you pick today, you will see column writers  giving it wrong interpretations. But believe me we shall not be intimidated because we know without equity there will be no peace,” he said.
Source: ThisDay, 8th March 2012.

 

Oil states reject North’s demand for more revenue

BY FIDELIS SORIWEI, CHUKWUDI AKASIKE, MIKE ODIEGWU, SUNDAY ABORISADE AND ETIM EKPIMAH 

Oil states reject North’s demand for more revenue

Anger dripped from the reply of governors and stakeholders in the oil-producing states on Saturday to the 19 Northern governors’ demand for a review of the revenue formula to give more funds to them.

The South-South governors said such a call smacked of insensitivity to the plight of the zone, evident in its over 50 years of marginalisation and environmental degradation and advised Northern governors to develop their revenue base as each state had a resource to develop.

Similarly, Niger Delta activists said states in the North should find ways of generating revenues to run their states as the region once did through groundnut pyramids, rather than seeking for more allocation from oil.

The Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum and governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, had last Thursday, on behalf of his colleagues, asked for a review of the revenue formula that “reflects current realities.”

Aliyu had stated this during the inauguration of Ahmadu Bello’s Memorial Foundation Advisory Council in Abuja.

A recent poverty index released by the Federal Bureau of Statistics had shown more states in the North in grave situation than their counterparts in the Southern part of the country, a scenario that Aliyu might have had in mind when he mentioned “current realities.”

He had bemoaned how his state got between N4.2bn and N4.5bn as monthly allocation whereas some other states received 20 times the amount.

He had said, “The revenue allocation formula should be looked at. We are hoping that within 2012, there would be discussions and review of the allocation formula.

“It will not serve everybody well if certain parts of the country are not doing well while some parts are doing exceptionally well. So, the pressure will continue until we are able to find a solution.”

But irked by Aliyu’s clamour, the Rivers State government said his comment was unfair and lacked appreciation of the fact that the oil-producing states were, the “goose that lay the golden egg.”

It added that every state had resources it could develop and generate revenue and that “nobody should be worried when some concessions are given to oil-bearing states.”

The state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, stated her government’s stance.

She said, “It is unfortunate that this is coming from a governor I respect. Knowing the environmental degradation in the Niger Delta, the thought of getting equal allocation of funds is unnecessary.

“Every state has its own resources. We also have states that are doing well in agriculture but the proceeds from such resources are not shared among states.

“The funds that are shared among the states of the federation come from the oil bearing states. The level of magnanimity from the Niger Delta should be saluted and not the call for sharing the proceeds from the oil-bearing states equally.”

In Akwa-Ibom State, the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, said, “The demand by the northern governors is improper. When they were receiving 50 per cent for groundnut, they did not share it with anybody.

“Now that 13 per cent oil derivation is paid to the South-South and other oil producing states in the country, they want the money to be shared with them.”

On Aliyu’s claim that oil wells that were over 200 kilometres off shore were supposed to be oil wells for the whole country, Umannah reminded him that people inhabited the coastline.

 He noted that oil producing states did not share their 50 years of environmental degradation with the North.

Umannah said, “Don’t they know about environmental degradation? Don’t they think that people live along the coastline and that they are affected by oil spills and other environmental degradation through the activities of oil companies?

“What have they suffered to justify their demand that they equally get 13 per cent of oil revenue? It is uncalled for.”

The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State, Mr. Ugochukwu Emezue, also toldSUNDAY PUNCH that Aliyu’s demand was uncalled for.

He said, “I don’t think it is fair for anybody to complain about what Niger Delta states get as monthly allocation because these are the states that suffer environmental degradation.

“What we are getting in Abia as a Niger Delta state is not enough and we are calling for an upward review of our monthly allocation.

“Abia is serious about developing the state and as an oil-bearing state; we need more funds to achieve all these.

“But it will not be fair for anybody to say that the funds from crude oil should be shared equally between the oil-producing and non-oil producing states.”

Similarly in Ondo State, the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade, noted that the oil producing states currently enjoying the 13 per cent derivation funds had the statutory rights to enjoy it.

He said, “We should not forget the fact that states that are currently enjoying the derivation fund had experienced serious environmental degradation and untold neglect by successive governments in the past despite the fact that they were ‘laying the golden eggs.’

“The bulk of the money being used to develop the country is coming from the natural resources being derived from the oil producing states but they remain the least developed in terms of provision of infrastructural facilities.

“The condition of most residents of the oil producing communities is appalling. Many of them do not have access to drinkable water, decent accommodation, good roads, functional public schools and qualitative health care, among others.”

Opinion leaders in the South-South geopolitical zone also lacerated the northern governors stressing that Aliyu’s position negated true federalism.

Niger Delta activist, Annkio Briggs, said, “If the Niger State Governor said that, I want to tell him that what he said was unfair because his state is not bringing anything to the table.

“The people from the Niger Delta region are bringing the oil that God has given to them. The oil is in our land and it belongs to us.

“I want him to know that it is unfair that there are 36 states in Nigeria and only nine states are actually contributing something; and people who are not contributing anything at all are now talking about injustice.”

Also, the former President of the Ijaw National Congress, Prof. Kimse Okoko, described the position of Aliyu as ‘insensitive.’

He said Aliyu’s position had further reinforced the call for a Sovereign National Conference and the urgent need to amend the 1999 Constitution in favour of true federalism in the country.

He explained, “They are trying to make a case on the basis of their own interest. We have our own interest and we will protect it.

“They don’t experience the kind of severe pollution that the people of our states experience in this country.

“It is not fair that we should bear the environmental destruction caused by oil spills in the litoral states and at the same time share with those people who have absolutely not been affected by any oil pollution. We will just ignore those kinds of statements.”

Similarly, the National Secretary of the Ijaw National Congress, Mr. Robinson Esitei, condemned the demand by the northern governors and advised them to be creative and look for alternative sources of revenue to run their respective states.

He said, “What the northern governors are saying is totally wrong. Our people are saying that they should be in control of the resources found in our communities so that they could pay tax to the centre.

 “If you look at the IGR of the states of the North, you find out that it is lower than that of their counterparts in the South because they are relying on allocation from oil proceeds from the Federal Government.

“This cannot be the position of Nigeria now, if the country is to move forward. In fact, we are proposing in the present constitutional amendment that Nigeria should revert back to the regional arrangement where each region would control its resources and pay tax to the centre.

“We are in essence saying that the present formula is disadvantageous to the Niger Delta people who are suffering degradation and other hazards that go with oil exploitation.”

The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, had in an interview with The Financial Timesof London last month, decried what he termed the low allocation to Northern states from the Federation Account.

Sanusi had linked violence in the North, particularly the activities of the Islamic fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram, to the uneven distribution of the country’s wealth.

Currently, the revenue allocation formula is 52.68 for the Federal Government; 26.72 per cent for states; and 20.6 per cent for council areas, while 13 per cent is given to the oil-producing states as derivation.

The 13 per cent derivation was introduced in 1999 as part of measures aimed at redressing the long time grievances of oil-producing states.

Official figures from the government show that Rivers State received N1.053tn between 1999 and 2008 from the federal allocation.

However, two states in the North-East – Yobe and Borno – received N388bn within the same period. 

Source: Punch, 26th February 2012.

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Northern Governors Demand More Share of Revenue

Niger State Governor, Dr. Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu
Niger State Governor, Dr. Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu

By Chuks Okocha

Northern governors under the aegis of the Nigerian Northern Governors Forum Thursday bemoaned what they described as the “inequality” in the allocation of federal revenue.

They also said that there must be a review of the federal revenue allocation formula this year to address the inequality in sharing the federally collected revenue.

As a first step in their quest, the 19 Northern governors called for a review of the laws on the ownership of oil blocks on the continental shelf.

All oil blocks outside the 200 kilometres of the continental shelf should be shared as a commonwealth, they demanded, rather than allowing a few states to share the proceeds.

Speaking at the inauguration of Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation Advisory Council to advise the Northern governors on development, chairman of the forum and Niger State Governor, Dr. Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu, said: “The North today is in a very grave situation where illiteracy, poverty and general backwardness are on the rise in the face of unfavourable federation allocation structure in which the Northern states are at a great disadvantage.”
Lamenting the “unfavourable federation allocation in the Northern states,” he said.

“In Niger State, for instance, we receive N4.2 billion to N4.5 billion annually and spend over N2.1 billion on wages and salaries, leaving behind the balance of N2 billion to be spent on a population of 4.1 million people, including other exigencies of state, like social services, hospital and road construction.

“This is unlike the situation where some states collect 20 times more than what we collect with a small population.”

He added: “According to the constitution, the federation allocation formula is expected to be reviewed in every five or 10 years and we are expecting that there would be a review of the federation allocation formula within this year, 2012. We are expecting a review.”

Giving an instance of where there should be a review, Aliyu said: “Revenue from oil wells within the 200 kilometres of the continental shelf ought to be for the whole country, but the revenue goes to some states. What is happening will not serve equity and therefore we will continue to discuss until there is equilibrium.”

Aliyu, who charged the Sardauna Memorial Foundation Advisory Council headed by the former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mamman Nasir, on how the Northern states should come out of the economic blues, said: “Each one of us must therefore begin to change our mindset from parasitic and consumptive tendencies towards what we can do productively to contribute to the economic development of the region, otherwise we shall forever continue to lag behind.

“Each one of us must act with a sense of responsibility, commitment and discipline in order to achieve our developmental goals. We must realise that progress and prosperity do not come either from soft choices or on a platter of gold, not by wishful thinking or buck passing. We need to let people understand that the economic challenges before us cannot be tackled effectively by few people in government alone, everyone of us must endeavour to collaborate, cooperate and work together for the good of all so that we can get out of the woods,” he said.

Asked whether the task before the members of the Advisory Councils included the challenge of the Boko Haram, the governor said: “Yes, it will include the challenge of the security, advice on what ought or need to be done. Yes sir, it includes security in the Niger Delta, South-east, South-west. All other security challenges in Nigeria.”

He said over N17.2 billion had accrued to the foundation since inception in 2009 and it had made several investments from this.

The Advisory Council has, as members, former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie; former Chief of Army Staff, General Ibrahim Salihu; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Aminu Saleh; former governor of Borno State, Asheik Jarma; and former Director General of Nigerian Security Organisation, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi; among others.
Source: This Day, 24th February 2012

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