Relief may have come President Goodluck Jonathan's way, as the seven aggrieved governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who broke away two weeks ago to form a splinter group, may have shelved one of their demands that the president must not seek re-election in 2015.
Fielding questions from reporters at the State House yesterday, the Akwa Ibom State Governor and Chairman of the PDP Governor’ Forum, Godswill Akpabio, after a meeting with the president, said at the peace meeting on Sunday night, the aggrieved governors agreed that Jonathan's ambition to run for another term in 2015 was not negotiable.
It has also emerged that one of the decisions reached at the Sunday meeting was that the suspension slammed on Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, by the party would soon be lifted.
During his briefing to the press, Akpabio said: “Well, what you heard is true. The PDP family is coming back together. We have started a process of total reconciliation and of course you know the house is very large, very robust and PDP is very entrenched and there is no way we can have internal wrangling without being able to resolve.
“So, clearly speaking, it was just a family disagreement and the processes are in place now to bring everybody on board and Nigerians are very happy.
“I have received a lot of calls from party faithful across the entire country and people are happy, stakeholders are happy that the family is coming back as one strong family."
On the conditions for reconciliation among the warring sides, Akpabio added: “The disagreement differs from state to state. So it wasn't as if there was a major issue with all PDP governors.
“There were few states that had difficulties. Some states complained about their delegates not being allowed entry to Eagles Square, some complained about party positions, and some had court issues.
“But these are all things that we cannot allow to affect the fabric of the party, and of course by implication, the fabric of the nation because the PDP is Nigeria.
“We have been in power for the past 14 years and Nigerians have confidence that this is the only truly national party that expresses the true aspirations of all and sundry and of course it is also the only party that is not owned by any individual.
“It’s a party that belongs to all Nigerians. Even the market woman in Sokoto claims ownership of the PDP and of course the same thing with the trader in Akwa Ibom State. The same thing with somebody in the South-west and the same thing in South-east.
“So the PDP is Nigeria and so anything that affects the PDP will affect the entire country. And so that is why we commend the president for the peace process, for his humility, and for his decision to be a father to all and for behaving like a good shepherd where if one single sheep goes astray, he abandons the 99 to go and look for that one.
“That was the spirit and everybody is coming on board now. That process is going to be concluded on the 7th of October. We are all very excited.”
On the other demands of the aggrieved governors, which include the removal of the party's National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and a presidential order of respite from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Akpabio said they were issues of processes and those too would be resolved very soon.
According to him, “That is why I said that the processes are on, and of course on the issue of 2015, both sides agreed that it wasn't an issue for discussion because every single person has a right to have an ambition.
“Some of the governors may have their ambition, like I have my ambition to go to Senate and you can't discuss anything about another person's ambition. You are the only person that can discuss your own ambition. Ambition is personal. So both parties agreed to that.
“On all other issues, we have put in place methodologies of settling them and of course it’s a process issue. The process is on. It was in the first place an internal issue of the PDP and so we are going to settle it internally and if you want to know how it is going to be settled, then you have to stop being a journalist to join the PDP family.”
On the opposition feasting on the PDP crisis, the Akwa Ibom governor said the controversy was too minor for the opposition to feast on.
“Were they waiting to see the party disintegrate? Which opposition are you talking about, is it APC? Well, you know the only thing I can see for the APC in 2015 is that they will change their name.
“They normally change names. That is the only thing I know. I think they used to be AC, later they changed to ACN, then of course they have now linked it with CPC and have turned to APC, and by 2015 it will be Panadol.”
Meanwhile, it has emerged that one of the agreements reached at the meeting between the president and the Group of Seven Governors (G7 Governors) on Sunday is the lifting of the suspension slammed on Amaechi by the party.
This formed part of the crucial decisions that were reached at the meeting, following which a long adjournment was agreed to by both sides before their next meeting slated for October 7.
THISDAY was reliably informed that the long adjournment was premised on the need to give time for the implementation of the issues agreed to by both sides during Sunday’s meeting.
Since the factionalisation of the party, the president and other governors considered loyal to him have been holding a series of meetings with the G7 governors.
According to a party source, it was agreed that since the mandatory 30 days had expired since Amaechi’s suspension in May, this year, without a counter directive from the National Working Committee (NWC) or National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP, the party should lift the suspension to enable peace to reign.
In return, it is expected that the aggrieved governor would withdraw all cases instituted against the party, to enable the ongoing reconciliation to be completed before the next meeting on October 7.
Also, the source said the party structures so far taken away from the G7 governors would be returned to them in recognition of the fact that they “are the leaders of the party in the state”.
The source added that in this regard, it is expected that the party structures in Adamawa, Rivers and Kano States would be returned to the state governors before the next meeting.
As a prelude to this, the meeting agreed that a high-powered committee should visit Rivers State to work on the restoration of the party structures.
According to the source, the fate of the national chairman of the party was also extensively discussed and it was resolved that the governors and party leaders should leave Tukur’s fate to the president to handle.
THISDAY also learnt that prior to reaching a resolution on some of the sticky points, it was Governors Idris Wada of Kogi, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa and Liyel Imoke of Cross River, who had pleaded that the president should not be stampeded into not contesting, as it would not augur well for the party and the country.
The president had also accused the Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, who read the communiqué after the meeting, of misinforming Nigerians, stating that there was no time he said at any forum that he would not contest the 2015 presidential election.
But Aliyu reminded the president of his statements in Ethiopia in 2010, at the PDP caucus held at the Presidential Villa, and in the United States of America, when he repeatedly said he would not contest for a second term.
The president, however, countered Babangida, saying he was talking of a six-year single term.
Caption: President Goodluck Jonathan
Presidency: PDP Will Resolve its Problems
•Kano exco dissolved as Abacha returns to ruling party
•Splinter group: Our treasurer was a mole
Muhammad Bello and Jaiyeola Andrews
Sequel to the meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and the seven aggrieved governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday to resolve the crisis that has led to the factionalisation of the party, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, has said the PDP has its internal mechanism for resolving its differences.
In furtherance of this objective, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP yesterday dissolved its Kano State chapter executive committee and appointed a caretaker committee headed by Hassan Kafayos.
The dissolution of the Kano State exco coincided with the decision by the son of the late military dictator, General Sani Abachi, Mohammed Abacha, to return to the ruling party after dumping it in 2010 for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Gulak, while fielding questions from State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said whatever crisis outsiders may think the party has, would be resolved through dialogue.
“We are talking, we are holding dialogue, peace is gradually returning to PDP in accordance with the constitution of the party and in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“These two documents are our guide, we abide by them and we are holding dialogue in accordance with the provision of the constitution,” Gulak stressed.
On the perception among sceptics that the crisis could mark the end of PDP, he dismissed the notion, insisting that PDP would come out of the crisis stronger and more united.
On the call for the sack of the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamaga Tukur by the aggrieved governors, Gulak said: “The national chairman has no problem, he was elected and I always say that as there are processes for elections, there are processes for someone’s removal or resignation.
“So nobody can cajole anyone to say the national chairman will not survive. Nobody is against the national chairman,” he said.
When asked which of the conditions listed by the aggrieved governors the PDP would concede to, he said: “I have said it before that the 2015 elections, the national chairman and EFCC; these are the three demands and we have to be guided by the constitution.
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, gives Mr. President the right to offer himself for a second term if he so chooses and nobody, either individual or group, can abridge his constitutional right. If he decides not to contest, let it be of his own volition not because he is intimidated or cajoled into doing that.
“Secondly, about EFCC, I have said it before and will say it again, Mr. President will never ask such an independent body not to carry out its job or statutory functions.
“The third is about national chairman and I have said he emerged through the process of an election and his removal is also guided by the constitutional provisions of the party.”
On the new ministerial nominees to replace the 12 vacancies in the Federal Executive Council (FEC), Gulak said the president would bring on board, people who are capable of keeping up with the pace of the transformation agenda of his administration with a view to replacing the sacked minister.
The uncertainty surrounding Tukur’s chairmanship of the party, notwithstanding, the NWC of the PDP yesterday dissolved the Kano State chapter of the party’s executive committee and appointed a caretaker committee.
Last week, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Na’Abba, and Nigeria’s ambassador to China, Aminu Wali, were at the PDP national secretariat of the party and had called for the dissolution of the Kano exco.
It is believed that arrangements for the caretaker committee in Kano were made as a consequence of that meeting.
While inaugurating the caretaker committee led by Kafayos from Yobe State as chairman, and Andrew Musa, an Assistant Director of Personnel with the national secretariat of the party, the PDP National Chairman, Tukur, charged the committee to ensure it holds a credible congress for a new state exco in Kano State.
Tukur said PDP was very democratic and followed its internal rules and regulations as well as the constitution of the country, explaining that the tenure of the past executive led by Aliyu Ishamalia had expired since August 15, 2015, adding that it was time to set up the caretaker committee to ensure that all grievances were resolved.
The committee was given three months to conduct a congress in the state.
Meanwhile, Mohammed, Abacha’s son who held a closed-door meeting with the PDP NWC said he was joining PDP because he had been assured of a level-playing field in the 2015 elections.
According to him, “I left PDP in 2010 because there was absence of internal democracy. But I am returning because I have been assured that all doubts have been cleared.”
Also yesterday, the NWC of the PDP commended the president, Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih, and the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, for their efforts at the ongoing reconciliation in the party.
Speaking with journalists after the NWC meeting, the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Olisa Metuh, said the meeting applauded the initiatives of President Jonathan, Akpabio and Anenih for their efforts in ensuring that the reconciliation of the party is successful.
Metuh said with the peace initiatives being fashioned out, it has shown that PDP as a political party has the capacity to manage its crisis and also reconcile such differences whenever they occur, adding, “We are indeed grateful to the president, Goodluck Jonathan, the chairman of the party’s BoT, Chief Anenih, and Governor Godswill Akpabio for their efforts in reconciling the crisis within the party”.
Metuh also said the NWC reiterated its position that Tony Nwoye remains its governorship candidate for the November 16 governorship election in Anambra State.
He said: “The NWC has written to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) informing the commission that Tony Nwoye remains the party’s governorship candidate.”
In a related development, the splinter group of the PDP yesterday dismissed claims that the former national treasurer of the New PDP, Alhaji Tanko Isiaku Gwamna, had resigned his position and gone back to the mainstream PDP, stating that he was actually relinquished of his post for spying on the faction.
Gwamna, had in a statement issued Sunday, stated that he had decided to return to the fold of the Tukur-led faction because he believed that the current impasse in the party would not augur well for it as well as the unity, peace, progress and prosperity of the party and the nation in general.
However, the Baraje faction, in a statement by its spokesperson, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, dismissed Gwamna's claim, pointing out that he was sacked and has since been replaced by Mr. Abubakar Gambo Umar.
Eze said the reason for Gwamna’s removal was that he was planted by the Tukur group to spy on the New PDP in exchange for contracts from his handlers to deliver information to them.
Eze said: “Alhaji Gwamna’s fate became sealed when a report on his true status was tabled before the National Working Committee of the (New) PDP during its inaugural meeting held at the residence of the party’s National Chairman, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, in Abuja on 15th September, 2013.
“The damning report on Alhaji Gwamna was submitted by the PDP National Secretary, His Excellency, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. According to the report, it was found that Alhaji Gwamna was a mole planted by the Tukur faction of PDP to monitor our activities and report back to it with a view to sabotaging our activities.”
He added that Oyinlola’s report further indicted Gwamna as one of those executing contracts for the federal government and was facing the prospect of having all his contracts terminated if he failed to spy on the New PDP.
“Like the Judas that he is, Alhaji Gwamna agreed to mortgage his conscience in his mistaken belief that he could successfully sabotage our mission to bring sanity to our party being hijacked by hawks whose aim is to destroy a party that they do not know how it was formed," he said.
He explained that Gwamna decided to play smart when he learnt that his cover had been blown by quickly rushing “to the presidency to alert his paymasters that he had been discovered to be a mole and was on the verge of dismissal".
“To save his ugly face, the presidency quickly drafted a press statement announcing his resignation and gave him to sign and immediately released same to the press last night," he added.
The faction apologised to Nigerians for its failure to ascertain the true character of Gwamma, “before giving him such an exalted position of national treasurer of a great party like (New) PDP.”
Caption: Senator David Mark and Aminu Tambuwal
Mark, Tambuwal Move to Stem PDP Crisis in N’Assembly
Determined to ensure that the National Assembly is insulated from the crisis rocking the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the leadership of the two chambers have, ahead of today's resumption, taken adequate measures to ensure that the legislature does not get enmeshed in the crisis.
Following concerns that the crisis in the ruling party might trigger a leadership change in the National Assembly, THISDAY learnt that the principal officers of both chambers met Sunday night and resolved to nip the crisis in the bud.
The factionalisation of PDP on August 31 had resulted in the defection of 22 senators and 57 members of the House of Representatives to the “New PDP”, a splinter group led by Abubakar Baraje.
THISDAY learnt that the decision to meet ahead of today’s resumption was at the instance of Senate President David Mark and was aimed at dousing tension in the legislature.
THISDAY also learnt that the PDP caucus in the Senate met in Mark's house at Apo Legislative Quarters last night to discuss the strategy of thwarting any implosion in the caucus when the legislature resumes today.
At the end of the PDP meeting, members resolved to remain united and sustain the responsibility of stabilising the polity.
Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba, at the end of the meeting, acknowledged that the PDP problem has consequences on the polity, adding that the Senate must not get involved but should be available to stabilise the nation “as it has always done historically”.
Furthermore, the caucus also resolved that the Senate was not a Senate of parties but of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and since other parties have always had their problems without bringing them into the Senate, it will be an aberration for the PDP crisis to become an issue in the Senate.
The meeting further resolved that the caucus will continue to provide the required support for the Senate leadership in its effort to ensure a stable polity.
The meeting was attended by 45 members from both the mainstream and New PDP, while 10 others sent apologies for their absence.
Although members of the New PDP in the House had threatened to effect a leadership change, the 22 senators in the faction said they had no intention whatsoever to move against its leadership.
Instead, the 22 senators maintained that the crisis was a party matter and not a National Assembly affair.
Caption: Arik Airline
Arik: Expectant Woman Concealed Her Pregnancy
The circumstances surrounding the emergency landing of an Arik Air flight at Palma, Mallorca, Spain, on Sunday got murkier yesterday when the airline’s authorities claimed that the pregnant woman said to have given birth aboard the Lagos-London bound Flight W3 101, had indeed concealed her pregnancy from the airline’s staff.
A statement from the airline said the pregnancy was just 12 weeks old, and so was not noticeable. It added further that no medical report was required from the woman in the first trimester of her pregnancy. The airline explained that the pregnancy was not big enough for the airline profiling officials to have stopped her from boarding the flight.
“This particular guest did not indicate her pregnancy status to the airline’s Passenger Service Agents (PSA) at check-in and because her pregnancy was 12 weeks old, the team didn't notice her status,” the airline alleged.
It is suspected that if indeed the pregnancy was 12 weeks old, then what occurred may have been a spontaneous abortion (better known as a miscarriage) of the pregnancy. But this could not be confirmed by the airline.
Arik said the flight with 216 passengers on board was forced to land in Palma, Mallorca, Spain, for the safety of the woman and other passengers, the airline had to pay 15,000 euros (about N3.2 million) for diverting the flight to another airport.
It was also gathered that the captain of the flight had to take off immediately to London after the woman was admitted in a hospital, so that the airline would not miss its landing slot at London Heathrow Airport.
Arik, in the statement, said the flight was diverted to Palma, Mallorca Airport, Spain at 5.44 pm, adding, “The passenger reportedly developed severe pains during the course of the flight. The pain was later coupled with bleeding from a suspected miscarriage.
“The passenger, who was initially attended to by two medical doctors on board the flight, was 12 weeks pregnant. She was later transferred to a hospital in Mallorca for further medical attention. The Arik flight later departed Mallorca at 8.00 pm for London Heathrow Airport.”
According to the airline, “This singular act further demonstrates that Arik Air is passionate about meeting individual needs of its guests and is ready to go the extra mile to ensure that safety is not compromised, no matter the cost.”
The airline said it would continue to investigate the incident to get more details of what happened to the passenger.
THISDAY, however, was unable to confirm if it was a medical doctor who had confirmed that the woman was 12 weeks pregnant or the airline plucked the tenure of the pregnancy from the air.
The airline’s statement also conflicted with initial reports from its own staff on Sunday that a delivery did indeed occur while the flight was airborne and that mother and child, who were left in the care of medical personnel at Palma, were stable. It is suspected that Arik decided to play safe to absolve itself of any possible liability in the event of a probe.
Women with full term pregnancies are not allowed to travel by air, according to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations. As such, intending pregnant passengers are required to present medical reports certifying that they are less than 32 weeks pregnant before they are allowed to fly.
All efforts by THISDAY to contact passengers who were on board the flight, the relations of the mother, and the two doctors who had assisted her, met a brick wall Monday.
Caption: Governor Kayode Fayemi
Fayemi’s Car Gifts to Monarchs Unsettles Ekiti Communities
Perhaps the government’s gesture was aimed at making life a little less brutish for the traditional rulers of the various communities in the state. But the outcome of the generous donations to the monarchs in Ekiti State has led to a rising wave of disquiet in some communities.
The subjects are somewhat angry that their monarchs, and not them, have been picked to benefit directly from the “democracy dividends” which the government in Ado Ekiti is showering on the communities.
The 123 Ford cars and SUVs doled out recently by Governor Kayode Fayemi to some traditional rulers in Ekiti have been causing ripples in some communities as all the quarters' chiefs, youths and other community leaders in Efon Alaaye area of Ekiti are now calling for the removal of the town's monarch, Oba Emmanuel Aladejare, over what they described as his undemocratic style of leadership.
The crisis assumed a new twist at the weekend when all the six quarters' chiefs in Efon Alaaye, the headquarters of Efon Local Government Area, especially Obanla John Fakorede, Obaloja Pariola, Oisajigan Ejigan, Peteeko Ojo, Alaayo Folayan and Ojubu Olowookere decided to shun the palace after removing their beads in protest.
They vowed that they would not have anything to do with the palace, following their exclusion from the list of traditional rulers to get vehicles from the state government.
So it was not quite a charge of being undemocratic, but was an accusation, as they say in the local verbiage, “chopping alone”. They alleged that in some local governments, no fewer than 13 traditional rulers got a car each as part of the government largesse.
The protesters, especially the transport commercial motorcyclists, popularly called okada riders had, for three days, refused to convey any passenger within the town, while the chiefs shunned the palace.
One of the quarter's chiefs, who spoke to newsmen but did not want to be named, disclosed that Oba Aladejare had been suppressing moves by the lesser communities in the area to gain autonomy.
“We observed to our chagrin that the state government has just given autonomy to at least six different communities in the state, and we observe that our monarch is not supporting such a move in this local government. We realised that our traditional ruler has been oppressing various moves and agitation for the upgrade of our traditional rulers,” he said.
However, in his reaction to the development, a prominent citizen of the community and the President-General of the Efon Development Association, Chief Patrick Ojo, said all the leaders of the community had intervened and resolved to bring peace and harmony back to the community. Ojo further said the agitation by the chiefs and the youth would soon be addressed.
As at press time, the monarchs and the aggrieved chiefs were attending a crucial meeting with the Special Adviser on Chieftancy Affairs, Chief Aderemi Ajayi, to resolve the logjam.
Observers have however wondered why the state government had to provide vehicles for traditional rulers. They argued that the gesture might not be unconnected with the gubernatorial election in the state next year.
The traditional rulers are believed to have a significant influence on their subjects. The interpretation of the government’s gesture, therefore, is that the gifts sre aimed at securing the support and understanding of the monarchs and their subjects ahead of the election.
As one of the commentators asked, “Governor Fayemi has been in office for almost four years now. Why is he suddenly being this generous to the traditional rulers a few months to the gubernatorial election in which he is billed to participate?”
Caption: Senator Ita Enang, Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business
Senate Resumes, Awaits Expenditure Framework for 2014 Budget
As the Senate resumes today after seven weeks of holiday, the upper legislative chamber is eagerly awaiting Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), which will set the tone for the 2014 budget.
The MTEF, which is expected to cover the period of 2014 to 2016 fiscal years, usually helps the nation in its revenue generation efforts. The essential features of MTEF are production quota, oil benchmark and revenue projection.
Briefing journalists yesterday, Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang, who said the National Assembly was still awaiting the framework, explained that there could be no budget presentation until MTEF was received from the executive and accordingly deliberated upon.
After receiving the MTEF, lawmakers were expected to deliberate on the content with the intention to draw conclusion on which of the components of the framework will serve as benchmark for the budget. After fruitful deliberation, the framework would be passed and sent back to the executive, thus clearing the coast for budget presentation.
Said Enang: "In fact, MEFT after being deliberated upon by the National Assembly and forwarded back to the presidency, usually serves as basis upon which the budget profile of a particular year is predicated by the executive."
There are fears in some quarters, however, that since the MTEF was yet to arrive National Assembly on September 17, hopes of the repeat of last year's feat when budget was presented on October 9 may falter.
By September last year, the 2013 budget was already available for presentation but was only delayed till October, following the House of Representatives unwillingness to receive President Goodluck Jonathan at the time.
While speaking on urgent issues for consideration as Senate resumes today, Enang said consideration of constitution review outputs from both the Senate and the House would be given a major priority.
According to him, both chambers would constitute a conference committee that would harmonise the positions of both legislative chambers for onward transmission to state houses of assembly where the fate of the exercise would finally be determined.
He also said the Senate would give due consideration to the confirmation of ambassadorial nominees from the executive as well as other executive appointments such as nominations into the Federal Character Commission (FCC).
Eight names of ambassadorial nominees were sent to the Senate for confirmation in July before the chamber proceeded on vacation.
On the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Enang said the Senate would also await the report of the Joint Committee on PIB for consideration and possible quick passage.
Caption: President Goodluck Jonathan
Jonathan: Stemming Corruption is My Major Priority
President Goodluck Jonathan Monday said his administration was committed to fighting corruption in the country.
Speaking at the 2013 annual national conference of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, Jonathan said he knew the effect of corruption to the growth of the country, pledging that he would tackle the menace head on.
The president, who was represented by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Alhaji Bukar Goni-Aji, explained that since the inception of his administration, the federal government had not relented in its endeavours to ensure that it delivers the dividends of democracy to the teeming populace through good governance, especially as the critical sectors of the economy are being tackled.
He noted that the theme of the conference, “Essentials of Good Governance in the Progressive Transformation of Nigeria,” was relevant to the present state of affairs in the country and in line with the Transformation Agenda of his administration.
The president listed areas his administration has recorded successes, including creating political stable environment, sound economic policies, youth unemployment, port reforms, air transportation, housing and diversifying the economy away from the oil sector into agriculture, housing, manufacturing, creative industries among other areas.
“By choosing this theme as the focus of this year’s conference, the institute has further demonstrated that it is always committed to supporting the federal government in achieving its drive to reposition and turn around the nation’s economy.”
“All these laudable achievements by our administration cannot be sustained if the state of insecurity witnessed in the recent past had continued.
“We are happy to say that the state of emergency in parts of the North has brought normalcy to the concerned areas. That spread of insurgency in the area demanded full deployment of forces and routine security checks.
“With cooperation from neighboring countries, inflow of arms and incessant criminality has reduced. We are appreciative to the people of the North-east and the security forces for their sacrifice and cooperation at a very difficult period in our nation’s history,” the president said.
He called on the institute to improve its visibility and interactions at public hearings of the National Assembly when bills are considered so as to have their views and professionals inputs.
He emphasised that for the nation to be on the path of greatness and prosperity, the elimination of all forms of corrupt practices had been a major priority stand of his administration, as a great nation is a reward great leadership built on transparency and good governance.
As a nation, he said the federal government would continue the fight against corruption and associated social vices in the system.
Speaking earlier, the President, of NIM, Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, had linked the mirage of problems confronting the country to leadership, saying the nation needed committed and purposeful leaders.
Olawale-Colle, who is also the Chairman of Council of the NIM, said it was ironic that Nigeria, blessed with abundant natural and human resources, had not been able to get it right in the area of leadership.
The NIM boss insisted that “ineffective leadership has been the bane of the nation’s development since independence,” hinting that the annual national conference was a major platform for members to focus and brainstorm on burning and contemporary leadership issues of national importance and ways forward to government.
He lamented that “while other nations which are not as equally blessed have moved on due to purposeful and committed leadership, Nigeria has continued to stagnate in almost all facets of its national life due to leadership ineptitude, widespread corruption and other social vices that stall every attempt at effective leadership.
According to him, it takes a lot of commitment and focus to deliver good governance, declaring that “the problem of Nigeria has never been that of paucity of funds and resources but lack of the political will to do the right thing” as the best democracies of the world thrive on good governance.
He said the theme of the conference was chosen because the institute came to the painful and sad conclusion that more than ever before in the history of its existence, Nigeria needs an urgent solution to the many leadership and governance challenges besetting it which are threatening the nation’s corporate existence.
Olawale-Cole added that instead of sitting by criticising government and trading endless blames on why the nation has come to this pathetic leadership crossroads, believes in supporting government in finding solutions to the problems of governance through the conference to contribute its quota by proffering viable and workable roadmap to the leadership question through the focus on ways to deliver good governance to Nigerians.
Besides the annual conference, he stressed that the institute had been impacting the nation in other ways especially being the foremost and largest multidisciplinary professional body in Nigeria with membership strength of over 170,000 individual and 400 corporate members.
He said in the past 52 years, the body had recorded laudable achievements in the areas of professional management, capacity building, consultancy, re-engineering and human capital development.
Olawale-Cole charged members of the institute to do away with avarice, self aggrandisement, contract-splitting, over invoicing, and other vices that are commonplace in the workplace and the nation, which had hampered the much-desired match towards national transformation.
Caption: Emeka Ofor
Interstate Earmarks N41.66bn to Upgrade Enugu Disco
• APC chieftain threatens to sue BPE
Christopher Isiguzo and James Emejo
Interstate Electrics, the core investor for the Enugu Electricity Distribution Plc has unveiled a N41.66 billion budget for the upgrade of the asset over the next five years.
The company in its capital investment proposal to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), had stated that its investments would seek to reduce technical, commercial and collection losses, and the deployment of pre-paid meters to eliminate the existing metering.
That also included the expansion of the company’s network besides other investments necessary to efficiently operate the firm.
The proposal further stressed that the technical loss investments will focus on rehabilitation, replacement and strengthening of network equipment as set out in the Technical Plan, while commercial loss investment will focus on increasing billing and process efficiency as set out in the Technical Plan.
It stated: “This is intended to bring quality and uninterrupted power to customers. (the company) will eliminate the Metering Gap in two years and provide meters to all new customers. Network expansion investments will be undertaken to meet future growth and demands. Other investments will be aimed at increasing the operational efficiency of the disco as indicated in the operational plan. Process efficiency and devised enterprise solutions will result in customer satisfaction."
It was also revealed that the core investor for Interstate had proposed N12.8 billion for investments to reduce technical/system losses over the next five years. The proposal was also adjudged exceptional.
A BPE source said: “Our fears over abilities of most core investors have been allayed with what has been paid so far. The problem with this kind of business is raising acquisition/equity funds. Once that is sorted out, you can be assured that working capital is not likely going to be a problem, as financial institutions, both foreign and local are easily disposed to funding such projects given their prospects."
Besides Interstates, other successful consortia are West Power and Gas, the preferred bidder for the Eko Distribution Company; NEDC/KEPCO, Ikeja Distribution Company; 4power Consortium, Port Harcourt Distribution Company; Vigeo Consortium, Benin Distribution Company; Aura Energy, Jos Distribution Company; Kann Consortium, Abuja Distribution Company; Integrated Energy Distribution and marketing Company, the preferred bidder for the Ibadan and Yola Distribution Companies; Sahelian Power, Kano Distribution Company; Transcorp/Woodrock Consortium, Ughelli Power Plc; Mainstream Energy Limited, Kanji Power Plc; and CMEC/EUAFRIC Energy JV, which made the part-payment for the acquisition of Sapele Power Plc.
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the South-east zone, Osita Okechukwu, yesterday gave the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) a seven-day ultimatum within which to furnish him with information on the privatisation of the Enugu Distribution Company Plc (Enugu Disco) in line with the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011.
Okechukwu said he would commence legal proceedings against the bureau if it fails to comply with the ultimatum.
THISDAY checks revealed that Okechukwu had earlier in a letter dated September 12 requested the BPE’s Director General to furnish him with information and documents covering the events, ranging from expression of interest, valuation and technical proposal, emergence of the preferred bidder, share purchase agreement, payments made so far (with dates) and all other relevant documents, relating to the sale of the company.
In a statement yesterday in Enugu, the APC chieftain noted that for the BPE to bend the rules to allow a preferred bidder buy a national treasure was against due process and the rules of the privatisation process.
Okechukwu, who is the South-east Zonal Publicity Secretary of APC and the National Publicity Secretary of Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), disclosed that he had already briefed human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), on the matter.
His earlier letter to the BPE had read: “Requests for Information-Privatisation of Enugu Distribution Company read:
“May I humbly request you to use your good offices to furnish me with information regarding the privatisation of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company Plc.
“Sir, I am a tax payer from Enugu State, whose daily bread is tangential to the electricity supply.
“I make this request, relying on the FoI Act 2011. For the avoidance of doubt, I request you to furnish me with information and documents covering the events, ranging from expression of interest, valuation and technical proposal, emergence of the preferred bidder, share purchase agreement, payments made so far (with dates) and all other relevant documents, relating to the sale of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (ENDISCO).
“While waiting for your favourable response in accordance with FoI Act, kindly accept my highest assurance and best regards,” Okechukwu said.
Caption: Olusegun Agagu
Agagu’s Death, Great Loss to Our Family, Says Sister
Mimiko constitutes burial team Fashola, Ohakim, others mourn
James Sowole and Toba Suleiman
As the seven-day mourning declared by the Ondo State Government in honour of the former Governor of the state, late Dr. Olusegun Agagu, continues, his elder sister, Mrs. Olayinka Ogunsusi, Monday declared that the extended family of the deceased had lost a rare gem.
Ogunsusi, who spoke at her residence in Iju Odo town in Okitipupa Local Government Area of the state, said the former governor would be missed greatly, specifically because of his care for his extended family members and the people of Iju Odo, where he hailed from.
“He did very wonderfully for us, he took adequate care of us, he used to give me and other family members the sum N10,000 monthly each, he had been doing this for a very long time. I was expecting him to send another one for the month of September, when they told me he was dead.
“He used to give our children scholarship, he tarred all the roads in our town and local government areas. You too can see it when you were coming here, indeed we have lost a very important son in our family,” Ogunsusi stated.
Also, the regent of the town, who is also an uncle to the deceased, High Chief Sehinde Oguntoye, said the death came as a rude shock to the community, stressing that the late governor had helped a number of sons and daughters of the town.
“We are going to miss him greatly, he had tried for this community, about 25 of our children get his scholarship on a yearly basis. Go round our town, all the development you see were brought here by Segun, it is very unfortunate that we lost him,” the regent said.
In a related development, the state Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, yesterday constituted an 11-man burial committee for Agagu, who passed on last Friday.
A statement issued in Akure yesterday, by the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade, said: “Following the demise of the immediate past Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, on September 13, 2013, at his Ikoyi residence in Lagos, His Excellency, the Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, has constituted a high-powered state committee in conjunction with the family of the deceased to plan a befitting state burial in honour of the late former governor.”
The statement mentioned the Chief of Staff to the state governor, Dr. Kola Ademujimi, as the head of the committee with Akinmade and the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Nike Ademujimi, as members.
Others are the Commissioner for Transport, Mr Nicolas Tofowomo; Hon Jumoke Akindele, Hon. Soji Akinkurolire, Mr. Eni Akinsola, Mr. Niyi Pirisola, Mrs O. O. Ajayi, Mr. Ife Fasoranti with Rev. Soji Gbadebo as Secretary.
Mimiko had during a condolence visit to the deceased Ikoyi, Lagos, home on Sunday, declared a seven-day mourning period commencing from yesterday.
He also ordered that a condolence register be opened at the Governor’s Office, Alagbaka, Akure; the state’s liaison offices in Lagos and Abuja and in all the headquarters of the 18 local government areas of the state.
The governor, who called on “indigenes and residents of the state to remember the Agagu family in their prayers,” described late Agagu as an early achiever who scaled dizzying heights in the academic, political and social circles in the country.
Mimiko further described the deceased as “a very brilliant man who possessed a remarkable ability for hard work which was evident as he gave his best to the state, first as deputy governor (in the old Ondo State) and later, as governor.”
However, Agagu’s death was the main subject of discussion among the civil servants in various parts of the state, as the state government, in honour of the late governor, had suspended all official activities.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has mourned the death of Agagu, praying that the Almighty God grant the soul of the deceased a peaceful repose.
Fashola, who spoke at the LTV Blue Roof Hall on Agidingbi Road, Ikeja, when he rendered account of his administration’s stewardship for the 23rd time in the series of 100 days in office, which he began at its inception in 2007, called on the audience to observe a minute’s silence for the soul of the late governor.
Also reacting, the former Governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, yesterday said he received the news of the death of Agagu with a big shock.
Speaking through a statement issued by his Special Assistant, Mr. Ethelbert Okere, Ohakim described Agagu’s death “as a big loss to the country, especially now that the entire nation is in dire need of contributions from well meaning and honest citizens of Nigeria like late Agagu.”
Ohakim also recalled that apart from providing his people with purposeful leadership during his tenure as governor, Agagu also made very good contributions at the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) meetings and was always giving fresh insights into issues in a clear and unambiguous manner.
Similarly, a former Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada, Ambassador Dare Bejide, has expressed the need for Nigerian leaders to emulate the life style of Agagu, who he said, proved that one could rule a state without plunging it into a huge debt.
The former ambassador, who stated this yesterday in a statement issued in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, and made available to journalists, said the death of the former governor had further deprived the country of another refined politician, who worked assiduously for the sustenance of democracy in the country.
NOA Proposes Jail Term for Abuse of National Symbols
The National Orientation Agency (NOA) has proposed to the National Assembly an amendment to the Ordinance Act in order to allow stiffer penalties, including jail terms for abusers of Nigeria's national symbols.
The Director General of NOA, Mr. Mike Omeri, made this known yesterday in Abuja, at the second National Symbols Day in Abuja.
He said the proposal was aimed at reducing the level of abuses on the Nigerian national symbols.
He said national symbols were unique features of different countries across the globe.
Omeri observed that abuses of national symbols by citizens was an act of irresponsibility and negligence on the national integrity.
He revealed that the bill for amendment of the Act had passed first reading, in the House of Representatives, adding that as soon as the National Assembly returns from recess, the bill would proceed to the second reading.
"NOA is seeking the amendment of the Ordinance Act to make wrong display of the national symbols, defacing of same and other treatments of our National Symbols attract greater sanctions," Omeri said.
Omeri also said that the agency had written to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) requesting that September 16 every year be declared 'National Symbols Day.'
He said many nations across the globe have dedicated one day every year for national symbols as a way of bringing attention to bear on the things that unite them.
"We believe that the positive values embodied by our national symbols can naturally evoke certain attitudes and emotions towards our nation."
"We believe our national core values as enumerated in Section 2, sub-section 23 of the 1999 Constitution are expressed in our national symbols and should further find practical expression in the manifestation of those values by Nigerians through the inspiration they draw from our national symbols," he added.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Ambassador Sani Bala, said the two-day conference was geared towards reviewing the progress and building consensus on actions that will harness the nation’s contributions to human resources challenges in the country.
Also speaking, the Director of Human Resources in the ministry. Ansa Boco Ogu, said the conference with the theme: 'Universal Health Coverage: Role of Human Resources for Health' was aimed at reinforcing the benefits in harnessing human resources for optimum results in the health sector.
The conference, which had in attendance military personnel, health experts, officials from DFID, WHO, CDC and others was expected to streamline best policies that will harness human resources potentials in the nation’s health sector for effective service delivery.
Caption: Most Rev. Ignatius Kattey
Abe: Kattey’s Travail, a Wake-up Call on Insecurity
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Magnus Abe, has charged Nigerians to see the travails of the Dean, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Ignatius Kattey, in the hands of kidnappers as a wake-up call, insisting that the country can no longer afford to play with the issue of security.
Abe, who stated this during a visit to Kattey shortly after he was released by his abductors, however said joblessness and financial challenges should not be placed as excuses for indulging in kidnapping and armed robbery.
Kattey, who is also the Archbishop, Province of the Niger Delta and Bishop of the Diocese of the Niger Delta North, was released by his abductors on Saturday night after spending nine days in captivity.
“I just want to use this opportunity to thank Christian faithful across the country; every Christian in this country showed concern; so I thank all of us for what God has done and to say that this actually is a wake-up call for us as a country. We can no longer afford to play with the issue of security,” Abe, who representing Rivers South East in the National Assembly, said.
He said: “It is by the grace of God that we are today gathered here, smiling and clapping, the story could have been the other way; joblessness and financial challenges are not excuses for kidnapping and armed robbery. It is an insult to all the people who are poor, who are struggling, and who have refused to kill anybody or harm another person to better their lot.”
While calling on Nigerians to join hands with security operatives to arrest the kidnappers of the Anglican cleric, the lawmaker he said "This is a criminal action; and anybody who was involved remotely or otherwise, should be tracked to prevent it from happening again.”
“This is a servant of God, this is a leader of the Church, this is an Anglican priest, this is a known character in this state and country, highly respected, and then, little boys will just come, drag him around the way they did?”
“It is totally unacceptable and we must condemn it without reservation. My Lord, when we catch them, the issue of forgiving them will arise; but we must look for them and we will never stop looking for them,” Abe declared.
Meanwhile, MOSOP has said there could be some hidden motives in the abduction of the cleric following the silence of the kidnappers for the nine days the archbishop was held.
The President of MOSOP, Mr. Legborsi Pyagbara, said in a statement in Port Harcourt yesterday, “While we thank God for his release, his abduction was senseless, criminal and violated his fundamental human right and freedom.
“It appears to us that there may have been some hidden motives behind the kidnap as the level of silence the kidnappers kept all through the period of his captivity, has been quite unusual. We do not see how this acclaimed humble gentle man who has spent his entire life promoting peace and love in the service of God and had hurt no one should have merited such evil treatment. The abduction, no doubt, was a regrettable affront against the Almighty God and which consequences are weightier than whatever may have informed the crime”.
“It is appalling that people have under the pretext of the visible challenges facing us all in this country to misdirect their thoughts and energies to criminality in their mindless inclination to sadism and acquisition of wealth. Consequently, they mortgage their conscience and allow themselves to be used by unscrupulous elements in the society to inflict pain on innocent citizens.”
He advised security agencies to redouble their efforts in terms of intelligence gathering to foster superior response to the rising sophistication of the men of the underworld.
Meanwhile, the apex body of the Ogoni people, has also condemned the reported invasion of Ekporo village in Eleme Local Government Area of Ogoni by armed attackers from Ogu community in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area of the state.
He said, “The raid has reportedly displaced the people as they flee the village for safety and are now taking refuge in neighbouring communities.
“We are concerned and decry the resort to violence as the only seeming option in resolving whatever grievances. We have on several occasions warned that violence is an ill wind that blows no one any good as the consequences of such resort end up hurting both sides. It is therefore important that communities adopt dialogue in dealing with issues of conflict as the benefits are unquantifiable.
“While we reiterate our commitment to working with communities to resolve disputes, we call on all those involved in this matter to sheathe their swords to allow peace to reign, to enable peace initiatives aimed at finding enduring resolution of the matter to take place.”