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Mosalasi in Old Ojo where all stolen items are bought, resold

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Mosalasi in Old Ojo where all stolen items are bought, resold

• It’s a quick means of making money –Suspects


• I did it to recover from bad business, says Chidiebere


• ‘It’s a lucrative business’

 

Buying and selling of stolen goods is an act that contravenes the law of the land; yet those dealing in it say the business is lucrative. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports that many citizens have met their untimely deaths while others have been sentenced to different jail terms for dealing in stolen items, knowingly or unknowingly

 

 

Ignorantia juris non excusat or ignorantia legis neminem excusat is the Latin expression for “Ignorance of the law excuses not” and “ignorance of law excuses no one” respectively. It’s, therefore, a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because one was unaware of its existence.

 

The law contravenes stealing, selling or buying of stolen items, knowingly or unknowingly. Many citizens across the world have met their untimely deaths while others have been sentenced to different jail terms for the same reason.

Sunday Telegraph reports that though these promulgations were made to deter citizens from committing acts inimical to the law of the land yet a litmus test, which the law was subjected to, showed that people still contravene these laws for several reasons among, which is quick money.

 

A journey to Masalashi area of Lagos State along Old Ojo Road revealed a thriving market for stolen items. It was learnt that all manner of items that go missing around that axis and by extension, Festac are found and sold there.

Sunday Telegraph learnt that any stolen item not found there will not be seen again, which is the reason many victims of robbery will always rush to the spot first to register the item should the thieves take them there or before the item is sold off.

Ejike’s wrist watch was stolen in a church in Festac Town and a day after, it was seen on another person’s wrist at Old Ojo. When he got it from, he said, he bought the wrist watch at the same spot.

According to Ejike, they were working in the church and he removed his watch and placed it at the altar so that it would be safe but little did he know that some people who come to church do not come for purpose of serving God.

He said: “We were washing our church in Festac and I removed the watch and placed it on the altar so that I will pick it afterwards. But by the time I was done, I didn’t find my wrist watch again. We asked all the people that were there, no one know its whereabout
“Fortunately for me, a church member that knows the watch saw it on another person’s hand a day after at Old Ojo Road and called me. When we approached him and wanted to beat him up, he said he bought it from somebody.

“We asked him to take us to where he bought, though we didn’t meet the person that sold it to him but we have to give him his money N3, 500, which he claimed he bought the watch before he could release     it to us.”

Also, he said that the spot was notorious for stolen items, saying that the buyers encourage more stealing because once the people know that somebody is waiting to buy the items, they will try to steal more yet the police are not helping matters.

“Once there is a case of robbery, the victims first of all rush to Mosalasi to know if the thieves or the robbers took their items there for sale,” said Jide Balogun, whose residence was plundered by thieves and made away with cash of N500, 000, laptop and shoes.

According to him, his house was ransacked by thieves a day after his brother brought in a cash of N500, 000, shoes and an apple laptop meant for his boss and made away with the items and money.

He continued: “This happened in the broad day light and by the time we came back in the evening, I went to the Mosalasi with two of my co-tenants but we were told that the items have not been brought there. The guys said nobody brought anything to them. We told them to keep it for us in case they come with the laptop and shoes.”

Asked why he was so certain that the guys told them the truth, “No, they know me and they don’t tell lies about this. Anything they tell you, that’s the way it is except they don’t trust you. But even at that, they have police cover and the police know what they do there.

“There are some police officers that work with them. Once something is missing, those bad police will go there to confirm if they receive the items and also determine what their own share will be. The police officers, I supposed, come from Old Ojo Police Barracks near Total filling station.”

On the authenticity of this strong allegation against the police, he said: “I’m sure of what I’m saying. This is my area and I know what happens around here. Sometimes, you will see police patrol van there, you will think they are investigating a matter but they went there to collect their share.

“Things are happening in this country. Everybody has to be careful. This has been going on for long and these guys are living big. But when the DPO was changed we saw a slight improvement as the new DPO is a no nonsense man.
“Well, what I don’t know is if the DPO is aware that some of his colleagues are part of the crime. I know a number of cases the genuine police squad visited the location but there was nobody to arrest. After the visit, we heard that their police accomplices gave them information and they all disappeared.”

According to Sule O., a panel beater in one of the mechanic workshops around there, the criminals connive with some bad eggs in the police to do this business, saying that the boys make some remittance to them for protection.

On how they operate, he said: “Once they receive stolen items and they report to the police, the police will want to carry out investigation. The moment they give the investigation to these people, the case is as good as closed and if the police didn’t give them the case, they will sabotage it.

“For instance, they have a code. If they are coming to their area, they will sound siren and shoot two times in the air, then the boys will know that it’s their ally that are coming, but if they shoot once or more, they will know that there is danger and they will take cover.

“Even when the boys are arrested, give them matter of short while, they will be released. So this is not a new thing here. They work hand in hand with the bad police. Some police work hand in hand with area boys and sometimes criminals. They know all the strong criminals in this area. It’s no longer a new story nahh.”

For Karmal Gegede, a staff of one of the leading newspaper companies in the country with headquarters in Lagos State, whose car was snatched around Palmgrove at a gun point same years ago, involvement of police in the search of the vehicle was something he would rather leave uncommunicated.

Gegede, whose Honda (Baby Boy) brand of car had reported the matter to the police who in turn, asked him to pay N50, 000 to enable them get their errand boys (area-boys/thieve) who know the whereabouts around town to find and return the car but this didn’t happen as he was promised.

He explained: “After I reported the matter, I was asked to bring N50, 000 so that they will give their boy to go to Cotonou in Benin Republic in search of the vehicle which I obliged. After some weeks, there was no response from them and I called the police. Shockingly, they told me that they boy they sent was involved in a motor accident and died.

“The money, I wasn’t refunded and at the same time, I didn’t see my motor till today. There was nothing I could do. So, I have my reservations when it comes to relationship between police and criminals.”

According to some residents of the area, the secured market of stolen items from that axis has encouraged door-to-door stealing and robbery since the thieves are sure of disposing of their spoils.

They noted that these activities are being carried out mostly by some notorious cult members in the area, whose activities have been on the rise in the past three years irrespective of the former Commissioner of Police (CP)’s warning on zero tolerance for cultism in Lagos.
A resident, who revealed her name as Jumoke, said there are known persons who help to look for the items once there are cases of robbery or ‘break and enter’ which involved stolen items.

She noted that criminal activities like stealing, selling or buying stolen items are a great offence against the state but wondering if some people and her area are exempted from the punishment that comes with violation of this law.

She lamented that buying and selling of stolen items in the area has fallen on the blind spot of the government which is the reason an area will be known for such level of crime yet nothing is done to stop it.
“This makes many people to believe that police gives them cover,” she added.

On the same Ojo area recently, two traders identified as Ozurumba and Chizoba were caught by the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Fed. SARS) dealing on stolen goods. They said stolen goods business is lucrative and easy to dispose off.

Earlier Police’s investigation showed that the traders have been in the business of stolen goods for time being, until they were arrested. They conspired and hijacked a container, having held the driver hostage. They diverted its contents belonging to LG Electronics to a warehouse in Alaba International Market preparatory to quick disposal.

The goods were allegedly sold to Mr. Chidiebere for as low as N5million. Chidiebere, who trades mainly on power generating sets, had difficulties selling off the goods and then, sold it at a ‘give away’ price to Chizoba and Abiodun.

Police investigators upon report, traced the TV serial numbers to Chizoba’s shop who during interrogation confessed that he bought them from Chidiebere. They both confessed to the crime, saying they were into stolen goods business because it is very lucrative.
According to Chidiebere stolen goods/items business is a quick way of making money.

He said: “I saw it as quick means of making money and have been making money from it. I knew they were stolen goods, but I was eager to recover from the previous business I did, which was on generators.

“In that deal, I lost over N10million because after I bought them, the police came and arrested me. They emptied my shops and took away both the genuine and stolen goods I have. Ever since then, I have been trying to recover my money.

“So, when they brought these goods for me to buy. I took it as an opportunity of recovering my lost money. The goods were sold to me at a price twice lower than the original market price. I quickly paid N5m because I don’t want them to sell it to someone else.
“Thereafter, I had a little problem selling the goods because I don’t sell television sets. This was why I contacted Chizoba and Marcus because they deal in television sets in the market. I, in turn sold the goods to them at a price a bit lower.

“But the truth is that, they were aware that the goods were stolen. I think they were interested in the profit they will also make out of the goods that was why they accepted to buy them. But how the police got to find out is something I am yet to understand because the people that sold the goods to me, promised never to tell anybody.

“I was surprise when some policemen brought Chizoba to my shop and they got me arrested. I feel terrible getting myself into this situation. My life and family are all shattered. My brothers have been coming to get my bail but they have not been able yet.”

In his reaction, the Commissioner of Police in-charge of the Federal SAR Lagos, Mr. Jubril Adeniji, described the business of stolen goods as criminal, adding that the buyers are themselves more liable because according to him, if there is no ready market for these stolen goods criminals would be discouraged to go stealing.

He said: “They are more liable because when the criminals steal, somebody somewhere is waiting to clear the goods, the criminals will be encouraged to steal more but if they didn’t buy it, they will be discouraged.”

He confirmed the arraignment of the suspects before a court of law at the end of the investigations.

Also, when contacted the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Bala Elkana to react to the allegation that some bad eggs in police give some of these people who deal in stolen goods cover, proved abortive as none of the calls put across to his cell phone was responded.

Also, text message sent to his cell phone was not acknowledged nor responded to.

 

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Sunday Extra

Tension as cerebrospinal meningitis hits Lagos

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Tension as cerebrospinal meningitis hits Lagos

•Outbreak kills 489 in Nigeria –Reports

•My son learning how to walk at 15 –Victim’s father

•Meningitis should always be viewed as medical, emergency, says WHO •‘Isolation of the patient not necessary’

 

The recent outbreak of deadly cerebrospinal meningitis in Lagos, a rare disease in the West, is currently sending shivers down the spines of Lagosians. This potents great danger to the state even as medical experts wonder the possibility of such sickness in temperate Lagos climate. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports

 

T

hat Saturday morning started like a normal day with hopes and aspirations for Master Justice Anya. He was happy and hopeful as he prepared for a wedding somewhere around Badagry. Had he known what was lurking, he would have wished it away.

It started like a normal high temperature which was calmed by the medicine his mother administered on him upon his complaint that he was having a fever.

The innocent boy and his mother didn’t suspect anything deadlier than fever as they administered another drug, suspecting malaria, on the Sunday morning when he woke up vomiting and still running temperature.

After he returned from church service, the parents discovered that the vomiting and high temperature were still there before he complained of stiff nake experience, which made them think otherwise.

It was at this point that his parents considered it necessary to call on their family physician who suspected a case of meningitis that sunday evening but nothing was done as it was late.

Early on Monday morning, he woke up, went to the bathroom and had his bath. He picked up his toothbrush to brush his teeth but midway, he noticed he couldn’t stand nor walk again.

He managed to sit and shortly after, his mother came calling, but his hearing had gone. He couldn’t hear his mum call and couldn’t speak either, which gave the mother a great concern to pick up her cell phone and dialled another doctor’s number.

Again, the doctor who was called upon, also suspected a case of meningitis and this prompted the parents to take him to the Federal Medical Centre, Ebutte Metta, where he was rejected on the reason that there was no bed space.

At this point, his system had collapsed, he lost the control of his nervous system and urinates as well as defecates without control. He lost feelings and sensations.

They immediately moved him to the Military Hospital, Yaba, where drugs were administered and spinal fluid taken from his spinal cord, lumbar puncture as it’s called medically, for examination.

But they couldn’t complete this procedure because the military facility lacked the requisite equipment to do so.

Sequel to this, he was referred to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, where with doctors battling to save his life.

It was at the LUTH that it was discovered that the 15-year-old, Justice Anya had Acute Bacterial Meningitis, a diseased widely believed to be endemic to the northern Nigeria before now, owing to its intemperate climate.

Traumatised by this sickness, the father of the SS3 Justice, who is working hard in his career line to become an accountant in future, Mr. Emma Anya, is fearful and constantly praying to God that his son does not remain on the wheelchair.

“I’m constantly praying to God not to allow my son to be on the wheelchair. As a father, I’m depressed. It’s even better for my son to hear with a hearing aid than to be on a wheelchair, crippled,” he said.

He continued in optimism: “I know there is hearing aid which he is using now, but I can’t imagine him to be on a wheelchair, crippled after 15 years. I never knew that this is a vicious disease killing faster than AIDS.

“Of course, I have spent fortune in the hospital, staying almost a month in the hospital. Only hearing aid cost N500, 000 for one ear. There is another one for N750, 000 for one ear, and for two ears, you have to pay N1.5 million and so on.

“I watched my son’s system within the space of 48 hours slumped. It’s a traumatic experience. I’m psychologically depressed. I constantly pray that he bounces back and joins his mates in school to pursue his dreamed career in accountancy.

“He is currently on physiotherapy and the physiotherapist said it will take six weeks for him to get his posture back. My son is learning how to re-walk after 15 years of age. He walks and stagers. He had a renal failure; he can’t control his urine anymore and he wears

carteter at 15.

“We went for MRL and his spinal cord wasn’t affected so there is hope that he will walk again. We are believing God for his awesome miracles in his life.”

Thus, the recent outbreak of severe cases of meningitis in Lagos State is currently creating tension among the residents. Medical experts are wondering the possibility of such sickness in a moderate climate in Lagos.

Their worries were further compounded as why the rare sickness is known to be endemic to the hot temperate region of the northern Nigeria, found its way in Lagos during the rainy season.

Many people feel it’s totally abnormal to see such deadly disease in Lagos, which prompted the government to set out in search of vaccine to protect children in Lagos.

Professor of Medicine and the Medical Director, Chidicon Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State, Dr. Philip Njemanze said meningitis is not much of a weather issue, rather issue of overcrowding and other factors.

He noted that the massive displacement of the people from the North to the West could be responsible for the unusual sickness.

He said, “Massive displacement of northerners, which results in many of them pushing westwards cannot be left out in the outbreak of meningitis in Lagos. It’s not all about weather, should anyone of those coming to the west escaped with the disease, it will manifest here.

“It’s a consequential situation as the people find their way to Lagos for succour, they may have come with untreated meningitis which now manifested in him in lagos or transferred it to another person. So, it doesn’t need to be weather thing.

“As you know, there is a high movement of people along the LAKAJI corridor. The Lakaji Corridor was named from the three largest cities along the trade route (Lagos-Kano-Jibiya). The corridor runs along eight major states: Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kwara, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, and Oyo states.

“Over 54 million people live along the corridor, accounting for almost 30% of Nigeria’s population. Agropreneurs along the Lakaji Corridor are involved in the production of cassava, cotton, fruits and vegetables, groundnuts, rice, maize, shea, livestock, and many other agricultural products.

“So this corridor allowed them to move through it and get to the west. They move from one border or the other.”

Meningitis is a serious infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, which can cause brain damage. ‘Stereotype C,’ a new strain of meningococcal meningitis, emerged in Nigeria in 2013.

According to a consultant Surgeon with Havana Hospital, Lagos, Dr. Cynthia Okafor, the average incubation period is four days, but can range between two and 10 days.

She noted that the most common symptoms are a stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, headaches and vomiting, adding that in infants, bulging fontanelle and ragdoll appearance are commonly found.

She said, “A less common but even more severe, often fatal, form of meningococcal disease is meningococcal septicaemia, which is characterised by a haemorrhagic rash and rapid circulatory collapse.

“Even when the disease is diagnosed early and adequate treatment is started, 8 percent to 15 percent of patients die, often within 24 to 48 hours after the onset of symptoms.

“If untreated, meningococcal meningitis is fatal in 50 per cent of cases and may result in brain damage, hearing loss or disability in 10 per cent to 20 percent of survivors.”

Corroborating her, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said meningococcal disease is potentially fatal and should always be viewed as a medical emergency.

It noted that admission to a hospital or health centre is necessary but isolation of the patient is not needed, saying that treatment with an appropriate antibiotic must be started as soon as possible.

The world body said the treatment with an antibiotic should be ideal, after the lumbar puncture has been carried out if such a puncture can be performed immediately.

WHO continued: “If treatment is started prior to the lumbar puncture it may be difficult to grow the bacteria from the spinal fluid and confirm the diagnosis. However, confirmation of the diagnosis should not delay treatment.

“A range of antibiotics can treat the infection, including penicillin, ampicillin and ceftriaxone. Under epidemic conditions in Africa in areas with limited health infrastructure and resources, ceftriaxone is the drug of choice.”

Sunday Telegraph learnt that Nigeria is one of the 26 countries within the extensive region of sub-Saharan Africa known as the meningitis belt,’ where large epidemics occur.

According to Flourish Chukwurah, the outbreak peaks in the dry season in certain states due to the low humidity and dusty conditions and usually end as the rainy season approaches, saying that Nigeria records some of the highest incidences of the disease on the continent.

“Meningitis is a tough disease, especially during this period, and it is associated with overcrowding, understanding the living conditions in the country, people must keep their building ventilated,” he said.

The WHO’s fact sheet has it that meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis, a serious infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Sunday Telegraph learnt that meningococcal meningitis is associated with high fatality (up to 50% when untreated) and high frequency (more than 10%) of severe sequelae. Early antibiotic treatment is the most important measure to save lives and reduce complications.

WHO noted that meningococcal meningitis is observed worldwide but the highest burden of the disease is in the meningitis belt of sub-Saharan Africa, stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east.

Sunday Telegraph learnt that a variety of organisms including different bacteria, fungi or viruses, can cause meningitis. Meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial form of meningitis, is a serious infection of the meninges that affects the brain membrane. It can cause severe brain damage and is fatal in 50% of cases if untreated.

In 2017, the WHO reported that a meningitis outbreak killed 489 people in Nigeria, saying that the country’s Center for Disease Control reported 4,637 suspected cases.

Speaking on the diagnosis and prevention of meningitis, Dr. Efekodo Wilson said Initial diagnosis of meningococcal meningitis can be made by clinical examination followed by a lumbar puncture showing a purulent spinal fluid.

According to him, lumbar puncture is a procedure that is often performed in the emergency department to obtain information about the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of a patient.

He noted that the bacteria can sometimes be seen in microscopic examinations of the spinal fluid, saying that the diagnosis is supported or confirmed by growing the bacteria from specimens of spinal fluid or blood, by agglutination tests or by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

“The identification of serogroups and susceptibility testing to antibiotics are important to define control measures,” he noted.

On the prevention, he said, “Licensed vaccines against meningococcal disease have been available for over 30 years, saying that there have been major improvements in strain coverage and vaccine availability.”

He, however, lamented that no universal vaccine against meningococcal disease exists till date, adding that vaccines are serogroup specific and confer varying degrees of duration of protection.

He noted that there are two types of vaccines available, which are polysaccharide vaccines used during a response to outbreaks, mainly in Africa and Chemoprophylaxis, antibiotic prophylaxis for close contacts, when given promptly, decreases the risk of transmission.

According to the WHO vaccines are either bivalent (serogroups A and C), trivalent (A, C and W), or tetravalent (A, C, Y and W). They are not effective before 2 years of age. They offer a 3-year protection but do not induce herd immunity.

“Conjugate vaccines are used in prevention (into routine immunization schedules and preventive campaigns) and outbreak response. They confer longer-lasting immunity (5 years and more), prevent carriage and induce herd immunity.

“They can be used as soon as one year of age. Outside the African meningitis belt, chemoprophylaxis is recommended for close contacts within the household.

“In the meningitis belt, chemoprophylaxis for close contacts is recommended in non-epidemic situations. Ciprofloxacin antibiotic is the antibiotic of choice, and ceftriaxone an alternative.”

In the meningitis belt, chemoprophylaxis for close contacts is recommended in non-epidemic situations. Ciprofloxacin antibiotic is the antibiotic of choice, and ceftriaxone an alternative.

Meanwhile, Lagos State government under the State Primary Health Care Board (PHCB), on Friday flagged-off meningitis vaccination in the State in order to get rid of ‘Men A meningitis’ and protect children against same.

Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Primary Health Care Board (PHCB), Dr. Tayo Lawal flagged off the exercise at the Primary Health Center, PHC, Palm Avenue, Muslim, Lagos.

Speaking during the flag-off Lawal said meningitis is a devastating disease and remain a major public health challenge, adding that “the wellbeing of our children is paramount to the future of Lagos State and Nigeria as a nation.”

He stated that meningitis is an infectious disease affecting the lining of the brain and capable of causing serious fatalities, “this is especially so for States in the Meningitis belt in Nigeria,” adding that many organisms cause meningitis including viruses, fungi and bacteria.

“For bacterial Meningitis, the most common cause is Neisseria Meningitidis, Meningitis is known to commence at the peak of the dry season and stops abruptly in the rainy season. People of all ages can be affected with the bacteria, children between the ages of 5-14 years being the most vulnerable,” Dr Lawal said.

He encouraged all parents and guardians in all localities in the State to embrace immunisation services in all the Primary Health Care Centres (PHC) across the State, especially the newly introduced vaccine Men A that is available in all Primary Health Care Centres in the State.

 

 

 

 

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Sunday Extra

RUGA shouldn’t be a national issue –Ganduje

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RUGA shouldn’t be a national issue –Ganduje

Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, the governor of Kano State, is one of the governors who survived the recent re-election by the whiskers. In this interview with journalists, he speaks on some national issues, including the alleged crisis in his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). He also gives account of his achievements in the first tenure as JOHNCHUKS ONUANYIM reports

 

 

Can you talk about the achievements of your government in your first tenure?

 

During the last four years in Kano State, we witnessed a lot of developments. But I will just mention the very conspicuous ones because there are projects which you can see and programmes which you may not see, but may hear about.

 

We tried as much as we can to improve the outlook of Kano metropolis. Kano, being a mega city, the issues of transportation, road network and security as well as water supply are very important. In other to improve the transportation system and road network, we had to introduce a number of new designs in form of road inter change.

 

We introduced flyovers, constructing a flyover of almost two kilometres to Sabon Gari and an under pass at Kofar Ruwa and another one at Madobi Road and Zoo road. We also constructed hundreds of kilometres of roads across the various local government.

 

In the area of youth employment, we embarked upon the training of our youths in different skills and gave them employment. For instance, we undertook a survey and found out that most of the motor mechanics in Kano are road side mechanics and in the present transportation system, vehicles are computerised. So we signed an agreement with Peugeot Automobile Nigeria to train at least 1000 auto-mechanics engineers. We took 75 to them, they spent one year and graduated and were given certificates and empowerment. All of them are gainfully employed now.

 

 

We took another 200 made up of 150 boys and 50 girls who have graduated and so, women are now auto mechanics in Kano. We have taken another 250 made up of 200 boys and 50 girls who are expected to round up by November this year after which, we take another set. We also undertook another research to found out the skill that will give our youth automatic employment after training or become self employed. We identified 24 different skills and we employed a consultant to advice us on what to do with that. The consultant designed an ultra modern skill acquisition centre and prescribed the types of equipments that should be installed. Everything is being completed and will soon be commissioned by the Vice President. We spent over N5 billion on it including the equipment and we are naming it after Aliko Dangote because of his dexterity in providing employment to Nigerians.

 

 

Has any other sector benefitted from this?

 

 

In the health sector, we discovered that there was a big problem in the funding of health and we decided to introduce the contributory health scheme modeled after the National Health Insurance Scheme. This has been very successful in Kano. All our civil servants have cued in and we are now extending it to the private sector and the vulnerable will benefit free of charge from the scheme.

 

In order to increase funding of health, we introduced the Health Trust Fund.  Five per cent of our IGR every month goes into the basket and one per cent from the local government is also paid into the fund monthly. Every month, we have at least N150 million paid into the basket and that is assisting our drug revolving scheme and the funding of consumables in our primary health care scheme. We also decided to build an ultra modern hospital in order to reduce medical tourism. The Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital which was commissioned by the President himself is well equipped and the first brain and spinal cord surgeries were conducted in the hospital. We believe that this will reduce drastically, the issue of medical tourism abroad. In other to regulate activities of private hospitals, we decided to establish a governing board that will regulate private health facilities where people are not being over charged, ensuring that qualified doctors and nurses are employed there so that our people will be safe if they attend private hospitals.

 

 

In agriculture, fertiliser is no more an issue in Kano State. Most northern states are buying their fertilisers in Kano. The fertliser blending plant was built by late Abubakar Rimi, but abandoned for over 25 years until we reactivated it, put in new machines and is now working 24 hours. We are no longer suffering from fertiliser issue because it is all over the state. We constructed stores in local government areas where the fertiliser is stored. If you are looking for 100 trailers of fertiliser, you can get it in a day.

 

 

What is important now is how do we take Kano to the next level?  We have declared primary and secondary education free and compulsory, including girls education across the state. In fact, we are holding a stakeholders’ summit on education in Kano State on September 3 and the Vice President is coming to declare the summit open. What we intend to do is to ensure that instead of our population becoming a liability, it will be an asset. I am sure that you are aware of the Almajiri issue. It is a serious issue in Nigeria today and breeding a lot of security issues.

 

 

We decided to discuss with those who are operating the Almajiri system so that we integrate it with our educational system. They have agreed and will be part of the summit. We made it compulsory because any child of school age in Kano must go to school. But Kano, being a commercial centre, we have influx of Almajiris from all over the North, from Chad and Niger. So, we are submitting a memo to the Northern States Governors Forum so that we have common legislation on the movement of Almajiris from one state to the other. Unless we do that, the problem is difficult to solve in isolation and I believe that the memo will get the blessing of the northern states.

 

 

On agriculture, we are clustering our irrigation scheme and construct farm centres and irrigation facilities provided there. On the herdsmen/farmers clashes, we have succeeded in curtailing it in the state and have resolved the issue of cattle rustling and given amnesty to the Fulanis who are involved in that. Now, we are going to construct farm settlements so that the herdsmen will no longer travel from one place to the other. We have a technical committee in place involving the herdsmen themselves. We have five big forests which we are converting to grazing areas, including the Falgore Forest. We have already awarded contract and water is being provided there. We will construct some dams in some of the places. We will also provide social amenities like hospitals, veterinary clinics, markets, security posts, schools so that the herdsmen will enjoy basic facilities like any other Nigerian.

 

 

We have been saying that as a way of solving the problem of herdsmen/farmers clash, the Federal Government should ban the herdsmen from trekking from the Northern part of Nigeria to the South because along the way, you get so many problems, unless if they are domiciled in one place, then the issue of having peace and stability remain questionable. Not only that, the herdsmen men in Nigeria need to improve because herdsman issue is no more a socio-cultural issue, it should be a socio-economic issue. But the way they are managing it is socio-cultural because they have not succeeded in killing poverty and poverty had not succeeded in killing them.

 

 

You cannot call a herdsman, a poor man because his moving with cows that worth millions of naira. But if he trek thousands of kilometres you cannot distinguish him from a poor man. That is why I said that he has not succeeded in killing poverty and poverty has not succeeded in killing him. Resettling the Fulanis is the solution. Already, I have sponsored 75 of their children to Turkey to learn artificial insemination which they are practising all over now. Also, when they are settled, there is the need to introduce new system of rearing cattle.

 

 

Why did you create new Emirates?

 

There are three basic reasons why we created the new Emirates. First, it is because of history and demand by the people in the new Emirates. Secondly, to widen and deepen the participation of the traditional system in governance so that the traditional institution is no more an institution of regalia, but an institution that is functional, work with the people and assist the government in the implementation of important programmes and projects. Thirdly we want to create mini cities in the state so that some big towns can develop into cities while Kano Mega City will continue to grow, while other towns are improved upon to become cities.

 

By so doing, we believe it will improve the socio economic development of the rural areas. If we are talking of compulsory education, who will help you to ensure that all children go to school? It is the Emir, the District Head and the village and ward heads. It is the village heads that will help you in security system because the security agents alone cannot do it. It is also to improve the cultural activities. From the information we received, thousands things were bought during this Sallah because of the decentralisation of the Sallah celebration to major towns. The emirates have been created to involve them in governance which is very good. 

 

But that seemed to have reduced the power Emir Lamido Sanusi?

 

The Emir of Kano has no problem with the creation of new Emirates in Kano. Of course, he had a problem with anti corruption agency in the state and the committee did its own work and submitted a report to the state government. Many people have been appealing to allow peace and stability in the state. The state government has already said that we do not intend to remove the Emir of Kano. But at the same time, we are sceptical in controlling the anti corruption agency because it is an independent body. But I believe there is peace and stability in the state. The role the Emir played during the election has to do with his own conviction. What is important is that we have won the election and we are not going to look back.

 

So, the creation of Emirates has nothing to do with that misunderstanding. After all, Abubakar Rimi of blessed memory created Emirates. But Rimi was a much younger and radical politician, but he was not as experienced as we are. That was why his own emirates could not survive. But this time, I want to assure you that even though it is in the court, it will survive. This shows experience in politics and governance.

 

You asked the herdsmen in the South to relocate to your state. Of what benefit will this be to your state?

 

I don’t subscribe to the call for Fulani herdsmen in the South to come back to the North because RUGA should not be a national issue. It should be a state issue. If there are Fulanis in Southern states and want to remain there, the Constitution has allowed them to remain there. But they should negotiate with the inhabitants of that state under what terms they should carry out their herdsman issue without harming anybody. If you are existing in an environment, then you should not harm the environment and the environment must not harm you.

That can only exist when you negotiate. You cannot build a night club near a church or near a mosque. You have to negotiate with the owners of the church or the mosque. So, if you want to practice herdsman issue which is okay and beneficial, you must have a symbiotic relationship between the herdsmen and the farmers. Because of climate change and increase in population and the land is not increasing, grazing areas is scarce. You don’t have to be a herdsman now to rear cattle because anybody is free to rear cattle. That is my understanding of the situation. You can remain where you are and run your business, but you must negotiate.   

 

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai says the party should abandon zoning for competency in 2023. What is your take on this?

 

The way I looked at it is that it is an issue between idealism and realism. Idealism is a situation whereby things should be done in accordance with ideas. If things are done like that, then everybody should have equal treatment and everybody has equal chance to contest and then, what the people decide should be done. Now, the issue of realism.

 

Nigeria is a multi ethnic, multi religious country with several geopolitical zones. In reality, people are yearning for participation of different political zones and not the politics of north and south. So, the reality of the situation is that people are crying of marginalisation in the leadership of the country. But the idealism is that people should participate and be elected based on their capacity. So, it is not the governor of Kano State that should decide whether it is idealism or realism. It is the party that will determine which should be applied in Nigeria and you know that it is a political strategy. So, the political party should decide which option to follow.

 

 

How sustainable is your free primary and secondary education programme and what is the status of the Tsanganyya Education policy?

 

 

The Tsanganyya system as started by the former President was a very good system. But it was a micro level. As of today in Kano, we have over two million almajiris. We don’t have the infrastructural facilities to provide classrooms for them. Even our children in the formal system, are about three million. So, you can see that the almajiris are trying to equal the number of our children in the formal system. But what we intend to do is to recruit volunteer teachers like the Federal Government has done with those teachers who are unemployed. We can give them allowances.

 

 

We are not uprooting the almajiri system because it has its own purpose. But we have already discussed with the owners of the almajiri system. What we intend to do is to post English and Mathematics teachers to those Tsanganyya schools so that the children should be able to take common entrance examination later which is a national examination.

 

 

With that they should be able to get admission into junior secondary school. That is what we intend to do to ensure its sustainability. Of course there is the issue of feeding and school uniform. For basic education, already, there is a law which makes it compulsory. So, we are not creating something new. The only thing is the senior secondary school and we intend to make a law on that. We are also inviting some corporate organisations to take part and provide corporate social responsibility in helping to sustain the system.

 

 

What is your view of Fulani herdsmen and how to tackle the problem?

 

There are three types of herdsmen in Nigeria. The first is those who are coming with thousands of cattle from West African countries and you don’t expect them to carry the food for the cattle. Along the way, they have to cut trees and provide food for the cattle and that create some problem. They are attacked by farmers and along the line; they have learnt to attack farmers as well.

They go about with their families on horses and donkeys and also carry arms and have graduated into being bandits. That is one category of herdsmen who are coming from West Africa. That is an ECOWAS problem which Nigeria should negotiate.

The second is the herdsmen who are from the Northern part of Nigeria. They trek through the North Central to the South. They normally don’t have a lot of cattle like the ones coming from West Africa. Those ones too create problems because of trekking from one place to the other.

The third one are those herdsmen who are born in places different from places of their socio-cultural and socio-religious origin. I am sure that in the South, you can get some Fulani herdsmen who are born there and are not trekking to come to the North, but are permanently there. They also have problems because when their young ones cannot go to school, they can also cause problems. This is my own classification and I am doing it because I am a Fulani man. So, I know what it feels to be a herdsman and business should not continue as usual. Herdsman issue should be a socio-economic venture and not a socio-cultural venture as it is right now.

 

What is your take on influx of almajiri to Kano

 

As I told you, we undertook a survey and found out that most of them are not from Kano. Some are from Niger Republic, Chad, Katsina, Borno among other. The almajiri system is not flourishing in the North-East because of the effect of Boko Haram. So, sometimes, you find a trailer load of almajiris dropping in Kano. That is how we had such large population of almajiris in Kano. There are a few of them who are from the rural areas of Kano.

  

 

What is your take on the call for revolution by a section of Nigerian youths?

 

This is unconstitutional and it is the creation of the opposition to some extent and those tribalists especially when you consider what happened to the former Deputy Senate President in Germany. So, it is in the imagination of all those who wants to destabilise Nigeria. It is also the hand work of those religious extremists like El-Zakzaky people. If you know what happened in Iraq, you will discover that it is all about revolution.

 

 

 

But in Nigeria, we have elected a government, we have a constitution, we have a legislature and if you want to change the government, you go through the Constitution. That is the most agreed means of changing a government in all countries of the world. So, the call for revolution should not be taken lightly. They should be taken to court and treated according to the rule of law.

 

What plans do you have for farmers?

 

The farmers are already enjoying their incentives from the federal and state governments. A lot of inputs are being provided by both the federal and state government. We have over 10,000 extension workers in Kano serving the workers. Our fertiliser blending plant is working 24 hours. It is not for the herdsmen, but for the farmers. I told you that we are going to cluster irrigation. We have the Islamic Development Bank coming to assist in the irrigation scheme for farmers. The farmers are the ones enjoying interventions from the Federal Government.

 

 

APC seems to be a house of commotion and plots against Oshiomhole, what is your taken?

 

 

I am not aware of governors working against the national leadership of the APC. I have not heard of any such thing. The Progressive Governors will soon meet with the National Chairman because he has invited us for a meeting. So, I have not heard of any gang up against the national leadership and if it exists, I am not aware of it and I am not a party to it.

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Sunday Extra

Tears, blood, anguish as government bulldozers move into Lagos markets, shanties

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Tears, blood, anguish as government bulldozers move into Lagos markets, shanties

…says they’re hideout for hoodlums that attack motorists, commuters

 

Traders, artisans and shops owners along Orile – Badagry and Oshodi – Abule Egba corridors lament demolition of market stalls, shanties and parks across Lagos, accuse the State Government led by Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of insensitive to the plights of the masses. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports

 

“Ewo oo, I borrowed money to build this kiosk; how do I pay back?” was the first reaction of Mrs. Bukola Olaiya, who had her two hands on her head when she rushed to the scene of demolition with her seven month-old-baby on her back and found her kiosk smashed by government’s bulldozer. Bukola had borrowed N31, 000 earlier from a money lender to build the smashed kiosk with the hope to pay back from the business’ proceeds as it begins to flourish. Little did she know that misfortune was lurking. Though she cried but that didn’t change anything as the deed had been done; she was left with the option of gathering the remnants of the wreckage.

 

“I’m supposed to pay back the money by  August ending. I’m dead, I’m finished, who will hear my voice ooo,” she continued wailing at the First Gate where she sells fruits. Nobody attended to her as everyone was running helter skelter from the full government’s arsenal deployed for the operation and struggled to save their usable rubble from scavengers who were feasting on the site. Bukola, a mother of three, who was backing her third child (Girl), when she got to the scene, is married to her bricklayer husband who didn’t have much to support her after he had given all he had.’

 

Unfortunately, her cries didn’t attract any sympathizers except for a woman who helped her to carry her baby while she was crying and lanmenting her continuous suffering in the hands of the council and the state government. For David Ibe, a trader at Alafia, along the Orile -Badagry Expressway, the Lagos State government should think of ways to cushion the effects of bad policies in the country targeted at further impoverishing the masses and making them face the worse state of suffering amids economic bastardisation of Nigeria.

 

David, other traders and artisans who ply their businesses along Orile – Badagry Expressway and Oshodi Abule Egba Road, whose businesses and stalls are currently facing heavy demolition exercise by the Lagos State Government led by Mr. Babajide Sanwo–Olu said the government’s action is insensitive of the people’s plight in the state. He said instead of the government taking actions that would calm down the heavy blow the masses get from the hostile policies and activities of the government at the centre which have been killing and suffocating the masses and killing the economy, the new government decided to aggravate their sufferings and agony. “How would the first government action in power be anti masses? How would these actions affect or improve the lives of the people? Do stores and buildings along these areas disturb Sanwolu’s administration?” he queried. He continued: “I do not know why the state government always treated the people with an act of cruelty, especially attacking the masses source of livelyhood. “Do these people want us to starve to death? The other time, it was Fashola and Yaba traders. After that, it was Ambode who collapsed Oshodi electronic market while their goods were in side.

 

“Lagos State is very insensitive to the plight of the people. In all these things, they do not touch the rich man’s property. It’s only the poor masses that face the cruelty of those in government. Badagry Road that has been killing people is where a government tries to frustrate the masses the more.” David doesn’t consider it sensible for a government to start off a new administration with cruelty targeted at the poor people, saying that every sensible government would look for ways to address the suffering of its subjects and making policies that will make it buy masses’ hearts.

 

“As long as I am concerned, this action is needless and does not add any credit to Sanwo–Olu’s administration. It’s baseless and unwarranted.” he added. Thus, traders and residents along Orile – Badagry Expressway and Oshodi Abule Egba Road, are currently groaning under what they described as the insensitivity of Sanwo-Olu’s administration by demolishing market stalls, shanties and all attachments to main buildings along the axis.

 

They lamented that in the midst of Muslim celebration, Lagos State government sent its squad to spoil their joy by embacking on the operation demolish shanties and stalls on these main corridors as pilot operation which will spread across the state afterwards. During Sunday Telegraph’s visits to the scene, directly affected traders were seen running helter skelter to salvage their wares and preserve the materials which they used in building their shops and stalls in the market while the property owners were also panicking on what to do.

 

Scavengers were seen feasting on the rubbles and other materials such as corrugated iron ore (zink), woods of different kind, iron rods trampled under by the bulldoser’s chain wheels as well as boards among others. Some were seen buying polines and used plywoods. During the demolition exercise, which was witnessed by Sunday Telegraph, the demolition tasksforce came in their full strength and arsenal including the police, Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Soldiers, Lagos State Vigilante, the Neighborhood Watch Safety Corps, Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and some staff of Lagos State Ministry of Works among others.

 

Recall that Governor Sanwo–Olu had on assumption of office, May 29, 2019, declared zero tolerance on all traffic impediments, road pot-holes, and environmental degradation, such as indiscriminate refuse disposal when he signed three Executive   Orders, aimed at enhancing the free flow of traffic, environment across the state.

 

Also, recall that he had earlier in June, during an inspection of the dilapidated state of the road on the axis, directed relevant agencies to ensure removal of all illegal shanties, shops and other illegal structures impeding movement of traffic, constituting security threat as soon as possible to allow for smooth operation of the ongoing road rehabilitation project.

 

Sequel to this, the state government issued a seven-day ultimatum to owners of illegal trading kiosks and shanties along Lagos- Badagry and Oshodi-Abule Egba corridors to vacate the routes for a clean-up exercise aimed at reclaiming rights of way for free passage of vehicles and salvaging the aesthetics of the environment.

 

After the elapse of the seven-day notice, on Tuesday last week, the demolition started on the two major routes, affecting linear settlements obstructing free flow of traffic along the corridors.

 

According to Lagos State, the clean-up intervention is part of implementation of the Executive Order declaring zero tolerance for traffic management, public works and indiscriminate dumping of refuse, which was signed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on May 30, 2019. Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Taiwo Salaami and Chairman of the state Task Force, Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, Olayinka Egbeyemi, led the enforcement team which commenced exercise from Eric-Moore Orile-Iganmu, area of Apapa. Salaami, who addressed the media, explained that the state government had earlier issued a notice of ‘Removal Order’ to all owners of illegal structures which include; shanties, Kiosks and makeshift shops along Okokomaiko to Badagry and Iba-LASU road on the need to immediately relocate as taskforce had been mobilized to embark on demolition exercise of such structures.

 

On notice of ‘Removal Order,’ he said; “The Governor was touched by the discomfort being experienced on a daily basis along the axis as a result of these bad roads and vowed to ameliorate the sufferings of residents, commuters plying the Okokomaiko to Badagry Express-way by rehabilitating the road. “Therefore, we have to embark on general demolition exercise of all the shanties, kiosks and makeshift shops within these areas starting from today, Tuesday.” Egbeyemi stated that criminals seized the opportunity to hide in some of the kiosks and shanties to carry out their nefarious acts, especially at night, hence, the need to clear the structures with immediate effect.

 

“There were several complaints and reports of armed banditry along the axis where motorists and commuters were being attacked and dispossessed of their valuables, as well as maimed in the process,” he added. Salaami who frowned at the indiscipline attitude of converting walkways and setbacks into shops and abodes, noted that the act undermines Government’s huge investment in social infrastructure. According to Salaami, the cleaning exercise has no time frame for operation, saying it would be a continuous exercise until the area has been cleared of all illegal structures.

 

However, the traders, artisans and property owners feel that the exercise is uncalled for, given the suffering in the land, which according to them, orchestrated by the All Progressives Congress’ next level agender. They said with the situation of the economy of Nigeria, the masses will be expecting strategies to cushion its effects on the people and not bringing in policies that will further impoverish the masses which add no value to the country. “What will this project government is heeping too much money on do for the country which will be abandoned midway anyway. This is a misplacement of priorities. I stand to be corrected that nothing will come out of this shadow chasing. “We have obeyed the initial other from state government but we are going to resist this.

 

We are collecting names of the owners whose property fall within the area they want to de molish, which have Certificate Of Occupancy to find a lasting solution to this,” said one of the Orile landlords, Mr. Babatunde Faseke.

 

He noted that Fashola had taken a reasonable portion of their lands and such will not be allowed again. At Agboju Market Festac, which was recovering from the previous demolition barely a month ago, the buldozer’s blade didn’t spare it as it fell under the blade of the state government’s bulldozer. Not even the newly rebuilt foundation at the market was spared at some metres off the Expressway.

 

Though their products and wares were not destroyed this time around but the traders lament that their machines with which they saw their woods are now left in the sun and rain as the roof upon them have been removed. Sunday Telegraph observed that the mainly affected area of Agboju Market were those areas where furniture, plywoods, polines and zink are milled and sold. In fact, where building materials are sold at Agboju market. According to Joseph Obong, they were asked to remove all zink on the roads as the government does not want to see zink on the road while traveling on the Express except umbrellas.

 

Wondering the basis for that and why umbrellas were preferred, he said every government has its policy, whether good or bad, it will be implemented with use of force and the poor man is always targeted. He said: “What does the government want to achieve with this exercise even when the   road construction has been in a mess.

 

Anyway, this is the APC next level of suffering. Fashola did is own but with some respect to certain metres away from the road but in this one, we don’t even know their measurements. “We tried to remove our structures, push our stalls inward but when they came, they further pushed us inward. Every structure they met on their way were removed and destroyed. “They do the same all over Lagos. A month ago, they gave us seven days notice for us to move. My brother at Ajah told me that they did the same at Ajah but that of Aja started after the end of the seven days notice.

 

“On this axis, they started scattering things all the way from Orile and today is our turn. They will continue in this manner until they get to Badagry and turn to the other side of the road and start coming back to Orile again. “All those buildings under the high tension will go down.

 

That is where they have more work.” Recall that Fashola had approved the demolition of some buildings on this road when the road construction started. Some of the buildings which partly fall within the demolition plan were destroyed while some buildings were chopped off by the bulldozer. Other buildings which suffered such partial collapse were yet to recover from it before this exercise came up again.

 

Some transport companies and some hotels where partly chopped off and were reconstructed. Also, Alaja Aisha Sadiq, one of the traders said she parked her plywoods in the bush, praying that rain doesn’t fall and destroy them as at Friday afternoon when Sunday Telegraph visited Kpako area to determine what extent the demolition has gone. Mrs Faith Ugwu, who had buyers for plywood said she can’t bring in more goods until the team finished its work. “With this thing happening, I won’t be able to bring in more goods.

 

I want to first of all finish the 4mm plywood that I have here before going to get 6mm for you,” she hesitated. However, the Managing Director, Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Mr. Ola Oresanya, described the cleanup exercise as ‘obligatory’ for government, stressing that the two routes had been ‘heavily commercialised.’

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Sunday Extra

Anambra traders at war over union’s secretariat

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Anambra traders at war over union’s secretariat

Anambra traders are currently at each other’s throat over the leadership of the Anambra Market Amalgamated Traders Association ASMATA -the umbrella body of all the market Associations in Anambra State.

 

The union was formed in the 1980s, but became prominent during the reign of three notable leaders -Chief G.U Okeke, Chief Pius Ozoanekwe and Hon Okwudili Ezenwankwo, now member representing Orumba Nort and South in the Federal House of Representatives. Okwudili had, during his tenure, acquired the association’s Secretariat at the tune of over hundred million naira.

 

The rift over who occupies his office rose shortly after the expiration of his tenure. The Honorable member had fixed July 5 for the election into the offices of the association but the state government suddenly placed a ban on the election.

 

Irked by the action of the state government, some members of the Board of Trustees, BOT, went to court. Their stance was that the state government should not meddle in the running of the Association, claiming that it is an NGO. While the crisis deepened, the state government appointed a 15-member caretaker committee to take over the administration of the market leadership.

 

Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu, an Uncle of the wife of the Governor of Anambra State was made the chairman. Also, the state government in July, mobilized security agents who stormed the office and sacked the remaining officers of the association who were laying claims to the office. Following this development, the traders organised a press conference where they claimed to have suspended the immediate past president of the association, Hon Ezenwankwo.

 

They accused him of conspiring with the state government to take over the market leadership. But in an interview with journalists, Ezewankwo said he contributed over 60 per cent of the money used for the office project.

 

According to findings, he is the BOT chairman of the association known to law as far as the secretariat is concerned. Investigation by Sunday Telegraph revealed that the traders contributed less than 25 per cent of the total sum of the project. Some of the market leadership, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, collaborated Nwawnkwo’s claim, saying that traders contributed very little to the building project.

 

However, in an interview with the Commissioner for Commerce, Trade and Wealth Creation, Dr Christian Madubko, he stressed that the state government is not contesting for the ownership of the association, neither does she want to impose leadership on the traders. He said the state government is playing supervisory role, in line with government’s policy. “We are not contesting anything with them in court.

 

All we need is to ensure peace and stability of our markets. “What the government is doing is just supervisory role and doesn’t want to interfere in their internal affairs. We allow them to conduct their election according to their constitution and we only come as an observer and solve problem where there is, in line with the government’s policy for the markets.” The action of the government has elicited several criticisms from the traders.

 

Former president of the disbanded Onitsha Market Amalgamated Traders Association, OMATA, Chief Pius Ozoanekwe, is of the opinion that the traders are government’s tenants and only owe them their taxes and stall fees. He said government has no right to sack the traders in the office and appoint a caretaker committee for them against the wish and constitutional provision.

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Sunday Extra

Nobody can use Middle Belt to fight civil war again –Dr. Pogu

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Nobody can use Middle Belt to fight civil war again –Dr. Pogu

The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) recently held a crucial conference to review the state of the nation as it concerns the indigenous ethnic groups in Northern Nigeria.  In this interview, President of the MBF, Dr Bitrus Pogu tells ONWUKA NZESHI that his people are the silent majority in the North but have been subjugated under the oligarchy and reduced to hewers of wood and fetchers of water

 

 

 

The Middle Belt Forum held a conference recently in Abuja and took some far-reaching decisions. What was the essence of that meeting?

 

 

The meeting was tagged: ‘Re-awakening’ because our people have gone to sleep; they are not on the alert and people are not having the correct information about what is happening to us to the extent that some of our people have lost their sense of direction. So we wanted our people to come back to the realisation of who they are as Middle Belters, different from other Northerners. We also want them to know their position in the developments that are unfolding in the country.

 

 

For example, we want them to put in correct and proper perspective, all the attacks launched by the herdsmen on our people and communities. We believe these attacks are a calculated agenda for land grabbing and change of demography rather than herder-farmer conflict as some people call them. If it was herdsmen clashing with farmers, it would have been a different thing.

 

 

During our conference, we had two papers-one, telling us who we are and the second paper telling us about the state of the nation as it relates to the Middle Belt region. These were the areas we dwelt on as a form of sensitization so that our people can be re-awakened to their responsibilities in the unfolding scenarios in Nigeria.

 

 

Who and who were at your conference?

 

 

It was a delegates’ conference, so we had people who were selected from various ethnic nationalities to represent each state of the Middle Belt.  We had very fruitful deliberations and took a number of important resolutions which we captured in our communiqué.

 

 

When you mentioned the term Middle Belt states, are you referring to the six states of the North Central?

 

 

It goes beyond that geographic space known as North Central zone.  Middle Belters are non-Hausa/Fulani people of the North and they are spread all over the North. Initially, it included the Kanuri but the Hausa/Fulani eventually absorbed them even though some of them had in the past benefited from the Middle Belt struggle.

 

 

The late Ibrahim Imam is a Kanuri whom Joseph Tarka, one of the founding fathers of the Middle Belt Movement took from Borno and fielded him on the ticket of the Middle Belt Congress and he was elected to represent the Tiv people..

 

 

So essentially, all ethnic nationalities in the North apart from the Hausa/Fulani are part of the Middle Belt. We span from the North West in places like Kebbi and Kaduna to the North Central where it is holistic down to the North East where we have some of our people in Southern Borno, Southern parts of Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba and even parts of Bauchi and Yobe. These are the states where the Middle Belters are found in Nigeria.

 

 

So when we talk of the Middle Belt as it is, a lot of people do not understand that we actually constitute a large chunk of the population in Northern Nigeria.

 

 

The leadership of the Middle Belt Movement has been rotating across these ethnic nationalities and states that I had mentioned earlier.

 

 

I am from Chibok in Southern Borno and my predecessor, the late  Bala Takaya was from Adamawa.  His predecessor in the struggle was Prof. Jerry Gana from Niger State. Before Prof. Jerry Gana, we had Chief Isaac Shaahu from Benue and before him, we had Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (rtd) from Adamawa; before Suleiman, we had the late Chief Solomon Lar from Plateau. Before Lar, it was the late Dr Olusola Saraki from Kwara and before him it was Gen. T.Y Danjuma (rtd). I am just taking you down memory lane so that you can understand the spread.

 

 

So, we have come this far because the Middle Belt Movement started even before Nigeria’s independence in 1960. In fact it started in the early 1950s and metamorphosed to what it is today. It used to be called the Middle Belt Congress but now it is known as the Middle Belt Forum.

 

 

 

 

If the Middle Belt is such a large group spread all across the North, why are you seen as minorities and crying of marginalization in the North?

 

 

Right from the onset, the Northern oligarchy, represented by the Hausa/Fulani had an undue advantage over us. The British colonial masters worked with them and handed over power to them at independence.

 

 

But before then, the British set up the Willinks Commission which went round and met with the various ethnic groups  across the   then Northern Region. They went as far as to Numan, Wukari and other places where ethnic nationalities other than the Hausa/Fulani and Kanuri occupied to feel the pulse of the people.

 

 

 

The Commission made recommendations that these groups considered to be in the minority needed to be treated separately but it was never done. Nigeria is where it is today because some of those recommendations were never implemented. We have copies of the Willinks Commission Report and you need to read it for you to understand to background of our struggle.

 

 

The truth is that we are not minorities when we come as a group because we constitute a larger group than these people in terms of numbers.

 

 

Unfortunately, the oligarchy and the Emirate system in the North, lumped so many of these ethnic nationalities together and subsumed them under the Emir and denied them of their independence. For example, my place, Chibok, is still under Borno Emirate till today. In fact, it took us revolting before the Borno Emirate started appointing District Heads of Chibok origin. There are such cases all over the place.

 

 

Let take for example, the Sayawa ethnic group, where the former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara comes from, also has similar problems with the Fulani oligarchy in Bauchi Emirate. They don’t want to recognise the Sayawa people as an entity of their own having their own traditional institution in spite of the fact that they have a large population. These problems have continued to exist within the Middle Belt.

 

 

Last year, when the massacre in Plateau took place, more than 200 Beroms were killed, the Miyetti Allah came out boldly to claim responsibility for the bloodshed because they felt that the lives of the Beroms don’t mean anything and they can wipe them out the way they wish.

 

 

But recently, when the daughter of Fasoranti, the Afenifere leader was killed, even though it was just one person, they were afraid to even not own up to what they did because they know that the Yoruba is one big block and there could be serious consequences.

 

 

Look at the Federal Capital Territory where the Gwaris constitute the local majority, yet no Gwari or Gbagi man has even been appointed a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

 

So when we see all these things happening, we have to come together as a united group to be able to stand because we cannot just continue to allow the North to be using us and exploiting the whole country. Without us, they cannot even win any election because they don’t have the numbers.

 

 

In the communique issued at the end of your last conference, you said that henceforth, the Middle Belt will adopt a collective resistance approach to any further attack on Middle Belt people. What do you mean by this?

 

 

Ehhm… you see, the issue is that struggles, liberation struggles or what ever you may call them happen in stages. We are getting to the stage where we have to collectively come together and defend the weaker ones among us. There are groups in the Middle Belt that have been suffering continous attacks from forces of the oppressors in the North. The Fulanis will come, invade villages, kill the Middle Belters, they will own up to it, but nobody will be arrested and prosecuted for those crimes. Even those who will come out openly and say: We did it, will never be arrested.

 

 

By the time we have reached the threshold where we can call anybody’s bluff, you will know what we mean by collective resistance.

 

 

Are we expecting that when they attack Middle Belt people in Plateau, Benue, Taraba and other places, you will all rise up to the challenge?

 

 

We will continue to speak out against such attacks and as to what we will do, when the time comes, you will know.

 

 

We understand that since you made these declarations at your last meeting, you and some of you lieutenants have been under intense pressure from the Northern oligarchy to retrace your steps. Is this true?

 

 

As leader of the Middle Belt Forum, nobody has come to me or approached me to do anything. The truth of the matter is that I’ve been in this kind of struggle for a long time. I’ve been in it right from the Chibok area to this point and you know some people like us will not back down anyway.  But I know that so many of our members have been approached, some have been threatened and whatever… whatever.

 

 

The issue is that we have reached the stage where we can say categorically, as we have said, that the North as it is, we don’t belong because some people think we have no stake there.

 

 

Right from the time Obasanjo was President, there were ministers from the Middle Belt who were appointed and the far North said these are not their own. What do they mean? Are they saying that because the people so appointed were not Hausa/Fulani?  Or are they saying so because these people were not Moslems? What does that mean?

 

 

So as far as we are concerned, if you don’t want us, we don’t want you; we don’t need you. We can survive on our own and we are now putting up that pressure.  We are educating and sensitising our people on the need for self recognition and self determination, so that our people who constitute the larger part of the North can tell these people that: Look,  Enough is Enough. You’re using us to control Nigeria. Let every Nigerian chart the way forward for themselves

 

 

We have been used during the civil war. It was our people who fought the Civil War and today, the people who are enjoying the fruits of that war are these same people who used us. So many of these people did not go to the war. The bulk of the people who fought the war were Middle Belters. If today they say they want to fight another civil war, we will tell our people no; we’re not going to fight any civil war against anybody. If you want to challenge the people, go and challenge them and all of you will sort it out.

 

 

We are the true Nigerians. We are the aborigines of Nigeria. Even if they want to break up, let them go where they want to go. We are here and we are partnering with our Southern brothers because we believe that when you oppress people, they can forge a stronger alliance and rescue themselves and that is what we are doing.

 

 

The North is usually together whenever it is time for elections, are you saying that if there is an election today, the Middle Belters would be ready to take their destiny in their own hands?

 

 

Certainly. Just wait and see. It will require dedication and it will require enlightenment. As people get more and more enlightened about who they are, you will see the difference.

 

 

What would you consider as the greatest challenge facing the people of the Middle Belt in Nigeria today?

 

 

Of course, apart from the fact that we have some states that can stand on their own, Middle Belters are impoverished. Our people are largely impoverished and we are not in control of anything in Nigeria. This is why we have to start afresh to build ourselves.

 

 

Let me give you an example – in the 50s and 60s, the North depended on the groundout and cotton pyramids as well as the tin mining on the Plateau. Today, we have Ajaokuta which is in the Middle Belt but it couldn’t take off. Now let me ask you this simple question: If the Ajaokuta Steel Company were to be in Katsina, would it be where it is in spite of all its potentials?  So, the issue is that we are impoverished and our land is now being taken over forcefully whether through grazing reserve, cattle colony, ruga or aggression by Fulani insurgents and bandits. I think they are insurgents because even the international community sees them as such.

 

 

The result is all over the place for everyone to see. Go to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. It is the Middle Belters that you will find there because their communities have been sacked and taken over by these insurgents.

 

 

In Plateau State, they have even gone ahead to change the names of these communities that the Fulani herdsmen have taken over to Fulani names. That is now to say we are now practicing some kind of internal colonisation and annexation of territories. It is as if there is no democracy and rule of law in Nigeria.

 

 

How can some armed invaders come, sack a village, kill the people and take over their community when we have a government, the Nigeria Army and the Nigeria Police? Nobody cares. Nobody arrests anybody. They settle there and rename the place and it is now their own. Our ancestral lands are being taken; it cannot continue and we are going to resist it. Very soon, it is either they leave on their own or they will be sacked. We cannot continue like this.

 

 

Are there sons of the Middle Belt who are governors and are   working with you on this project?

 

 

Of course there are and we are consulting them. I can’t name them now. All I can say is that there are some who have come out openly to identify with us and there are also others who are covertly saying: Yes, we are with you, but we cannot come out.

 

 

Whatever may be the case, once you are a Middle Belter, we cannot say we don’t want you. All of us are one and the same. Middle Belt is not about religion, it is about collective interest for survival under an oligarchy that has been so domineering and so ruthless. Look at how appointment are being made under the current dispensation. Middle Belters contributed to President Muhammadu Buhari’s coming to office but he doesn’t see us as people existing in the country. So we are waiting. The time is going, the clock is ticking and everybody is wisening up every day as the time goes on.

 

 

What would be your message to your fellow Middle Belters and other Nigerians at this time?

 

 

Middle Belters should unite and be resolute that they are true Nigerians. They have no other place than Nigeria. They should stand firm wherever God has placed them in Nigeria.

 

 

To other Nigetians, I want to tell them that Middle Belters are the most peace-loving people; they are accommodating and they are true Nigerians. We are committed to having a united Nigeria where every one is equal and none is inferior to the other.

 

 

All the divisive forces whether it is Boko Haram, insurgents or bandits, came from the North. They didn’t come from the South; they didn’t come from the Middle Belt. They all came from the North. They should stop it so that Nigeria can move ahead. All divisive forces whether through government of through individuals, let them stop so that Nigeria can move ahead and let us have a better country.

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Sunday Extra

We’ll do things differently in Kogi and Bayelsa governorship polls –Okoye

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We’ll do things differently in Kogi and Bayelsa governorship polls –Okoye

The November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states are just over three months away. Festus Okoye, National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Publicity, speaks to ONYEKACHI EZE on the commission’s preparation for the elections in the two states and sundry issues

 

Now that we are done with the 2019 general elections, INEC is faced with Kogi and Bayelsa governorship  polls fixed for November 16, how prepared is INEC for them

 

 

The Commission is gradually getting ready for the conduct of the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections. We have delivered all nonsensitive materials required for the conduct of governorship election in Bayelsa State. Before this week runs out, we will deliver all nonsensitive materials required for the conduct of Kogi governorship election. So we don’t have challenges in delivering nonsensitive materials required for elections in this two states.

 

 

Secondly, we have started training of some of ad hoc staff that will be involved in the conduct of the two governorship elections. Our alternative dispute resolution officers have also gone to these two states to conduct trainings. We are going to do things differently this time around in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

 

 

In terms of lessons learnt from the 2019 general elections, some of the positive lessons in the general elections will be devolved into the conduct of Kogi and Bayelsa governorship polls. Some of the loose ends in the conduct of the 2019 and some of the challenges we had in certain things, we are going to do things differently in Kogi and Bayelsa this time around.

 

 

You will notice that we are yet to announce the date for the collection of permanent voter’s cards in this two states. Within the next one week, we are going to announce the resumption of collection of PVCs for these two states. We are going to train the ad hoc staff that will conduct these elections very well. Previously we had complaints with the timeline for the training of ad hoc staff, which most of the trainers said were inadequate. We are going to make out adequate time for the training of ad hoc staff so that those who are going to be in charge of smart card readers will be trained well; those who are going to conduct the elections as presiding officers will also be well trained. We are taking the issue of training very seriously.

 

 

We are also collaborating with critical stakeholders in these two states to do voter education and sensitisation programmes so that when we get into the elections the quantum of ballot papers that will be spoilt due to people’s inability to recognise logos of political parties, and so on, will be reduced to the barest minimum.

 

 

Usually, INEC test run some technologies to be used in general elections during off-season elections. Are we expecting any new technology during the elections?

We are not going to use any new technology for the conduct of the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections. Definitely, the Commission will deploy smart card readers for the conduct of these elections. And the Commission will not, under any circumstances and under any guise, allow or tolerate any presiding officer to arbitrarily and without authorisation, jettison the use of smart card readers for the accreditation of voters.

We are going to make it very clear to all presiding officers that they are under a statutory obligation to conduct the elections in the manner prescribed by the constitution, the Electoral Act, our regulations, guidelines and manuals. So we are going to use smart card readers for the conduct of 2019 off-season governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.

 

 

Secondly, we also noticed that we have challenges and problems with some of our collation officers during the 2019 general elections. In terms of recruitment of collation officers, we are going to do things differently this time around. We are going to screen, authentic, the quality, the competence, the neutrality and non-partisanship of the collation officers that will be deployed for the conduct of elections in this two states.

 

 

We believe that the technologies we are using presently are adequate for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections. So we are not going to deploy any new technology. We are going to insist is that the technologies that we are going to use should be used in the manner as prescribed by the commission. The commission will not tolerate where any individual or group of individuals will bye pass this technologies and do things not in accordance with the prescribed guidelines and the regulations.

 

 

INEC had expressed concerns over the security situation in these two states given what happened in 2015 when elections were conduct there. What assurances that there will be adequate security to men and materials during the elections?

 

 

The Commission has met severally with the leadership of the various security agencies at the level of Inter-Agency Consultation Committee on Election Security. The Commission has in consultation and conjunction with these security agencies, reviewed the conduct of the 2019 general elections. We have noticed the areas where we have positives and also the areas where we have negatives. We are working with these security agencies to make sure that this off-season elections that adequate security is going to be provided for voters, election officials and election materials.

 

 

Bayelsa has a very peculiar terrain. That presupposes that we are going to hire gun boats to protect our personnel and materials on the high seas. We have started discussing with the navy both at the state and local government levels for their services in this area.

 

 

But ultimately, the political elite must accept responsibility for some of the security challenges we have during elections. INEC does not have security outfit of its own. We rely on the professionalism and the ethical conduct of security agencies recognized by the constitution for the conduct of elections.

 

 

Our appeal to the political parties is to conduct the primary elections in the way and manner provided for, and recognised by section 87 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Political parties should also conduct the primary elections that will lead to less acrimony because INEC will use its constitutional and statutory power to monitor the conduct of those primary elections. INEC will not accept list that would be generated by any political parties that does not emanate from the conduct of credible primary elections as envisaged by the law.

 

 

Secondly, it is against the democratic spirit and the democratic values for any political party or individual or group of individuals to arm political thugs for the purposes of disrupting the electoral process. The conduct of elections is the ordinary constitutional responsibility of INEC while voting is a civic responsibil   ity of the individuals. We appeal to the political parties that are going to contest this elections to allow the will of the people to be the only major determinant of who gets elected and who does not get elected.

 

 

The political parties should allow voters to go to the polling units unmolested. In other words, they should not arm political thugs to go and disrupt the elections or to compromise INEC officials. If political parties conduct themselves well, INEC will conduct elections everybody will be proud of. We are going to deploy election materials and personnel on time, and we are going to make sure that nobody takes control of any the collation centre to do things that are unethical.

 

 

The conduct of elections is a cyclical thing. It involves political parties conducting themselves well, it involves security agencies acting professionally and ethically, it also involves the civil societies and organizations to conform with their code of conduct in observing the elections. It also beholds traditional rules and religious leaders and institutions of government to carry out robust voter education for our people. It also involves the media in sensitising and enlightening people on the best practices in the conduct of elections and in democratic practices and procedures.

 

The 2019 general election was conducted some few months ago now. Definitely, there are some lessons INEC learnt from the conduct of the elections. What are the lessons learnt and how does INEC going to apply it for the conduct of Kogi and Bayelsa polls?

 

 

One of the things we are going to do differently is that we are going to commence the distribution of permanent voter’s cards to the people of Bayelsa and Kogi states. And when we commence, we are going to bring new approaches and new innovations to the distribution process. At the end of the day we are going to ensure that any individual who wants to collect his or her permanent voter’s cards do so.

 

 

Secondly, we are going to ensure that our officers who are well trained are sent to monitor the conduct of party primaries, and their report will be acted upon. So we assure the Nigerian people that we are going to act on the reports of our monitors who are going to monitor the party primaries.

 

 

The third issue is that we are not going to have any challenge with the procurement of sensitive materials. We are going to procure the materials for the conduct of this elections on time, and we are going to make sure that we energies our registration area centres and make sure that we deploy our personnel and materials on time. The moment you don’t deploy on time, you create security challenges at the polling units.

 

 

We also noticed that the political parties and their candidates are paying too much attention to our collation centres. We are going to make sure that we secure our collation centres in such a way that no individual will take control of our collation centres, and no individual will hold our collation officers hostage to declare a results that are not part of the polling units and from our registration areas.

 

 

One other thing we are going to do differently, we are going to make sure that we harvest our collation officers from places political parties cannot reach them. Since we harvest our collation officers from universities and tertiary institutions within the state, some political parties have also go to this institutions to compromise them. I’m not going to reveal what we are going to do but our resolve is that we have learnt good lessons from the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

 

 

Some of these lessons are from our own internal review from the conduct of our electoral officers in the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, election observers, the media and also from the documents and recommendations made to us by both domestic and foreign observers.

 

 

We are going to act on the ones we can act on, the ones that are actionable, we act on them. The ones we can implement administratively, we will implement them, and the ones that need legislative intervention will meet with critical agencies that can either altering the law or amend the law.

 

 

Kogi and Bayelsa are peculiar states. For instance, Bayelsa State in riverine. About 80 percent is covered by water, while Kogi State has a large land mass. Last time INEC postponed elections was because materials could not reach the polling units on time. What effort is INEC making this time around to make sure that materials reach polling units only?

 

 

We have had several meetings with the Resident Electoral Commissioners and with the Administrative Secretaries. On the 5th of August we had a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners and Administrative Secretaries of this two states. All this meetings are aimed at fine-tuning preparations for the conduct of this two elections. They have given us the figure of the number of personnel that they need to deploy for the conduct of the elections.

 

 

For Bayelsa State, we have a figure with which to hire gunboats. We are also meeting with officers from the Navy who are going to assist in security our officers and materials. We assure the Nigeria people that we are going to move the sensitive materials to the locations on time. Bayelsa has eight local government areas, so the methodology of deploying materials and personnel to polling units in Bayelsa may likely be different from the methodology we will use in deployment in Kogi State. So we are taking into consideration the issue of landmass in Kogi and the riverine nature of Bayelsa. We are doing deferential appresial of this two states.

 

 

We have conducted elections in this two states before, then we had inconclusive elections on account of violence. So, based on this, the Chairman of INEC will begin robust consultations with the political parties, traditional and religious leaders, professional groups and organisations in this two states in October. We are going to conduct elections that everybody will be proud of.

 

 

INEC has received reports of the observers who monitored the 2019 general elections. Some of them did not give INEC a pass mark.  Has INEC accepted its shortcomings?

 

 

Before we received the report of some of the domestic and international observers, the commission on its own, decided that it needed to review its conduct of the 2019 general elections. We started this review at the state level. Every National Commissioner went to the state where he or she is supervising, to go and review the conduct of the elections. And we met with so many of our presiding officers; we met with some civil societies and organisations; we met with members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers because they are the ones who provided the bulk of the vehicles we use to transport election materials and personnel. We also met with the security agencies at the base level to understand some of the things that happened at the polling units – some of the challenges that they have and some of the positives that were recorded in some of the states.

 

 

Thereafter, we brought all the 774 electoral officers in all the local government areas to Abuja in two streams. We reviewed the conduct of the elections with them.

 

 

So, some of the things pointed out by the local and foreign observers, we are already aware of some of them, because some of them were pointed out by our own officials during our own internal assessment.

 

 

We have taken some of the recommendations of domestic and international observers into consideration. The critical ones that we believe that are honest, the critical ones we believe we made out of genuine intention to improve our electoral system, we have taken them on board. Those that require legislative intervention, we are going to work with critical stakeholders to make sure that we get a very good law. Some of the recommendations that require administrative intervention, we are going to input them into our administrative framework.

 

 

There are some of the recommendations that do not take into consideration some of the improvement, some of the accountability and openness made by INEC before the 2019 general elections. For instance, it was not part of the law or part of any regulation when we designed a form that enabled every presiding officer at a polling unit, to record the result and paste at a conspicuous place, for the purposes of accountability and transparency.

 

 

Secondly, it was the innovation introduced by the commission to get two collation officers for the first set of elections – the Presidential and National Assembly.

 

 

The Commission has conducted its internal evaluation, the different political parties that contested this elections should also do their own internal review and evaluations, both at party and inter-party advisory levels, and admonished themselves on some of the things they did during the elections.

 

 

INEC is not a vote buyer and not a vote seller. It is the political parties that do those things. INEC does not train and deploy political thugs. It is the political parties that do that. Let them do their own evaluation and commit to a new electoral and democratic process.

 

 

We also called the security agencies to do their own evaluation and see whether their men did the right things during the elections. There were some security agencies that acted professionally and ethically. There were also some that crossed the line.

 

 

If all of us do our own internal evaluation we will know where we have positives and where we have negatives, and when we harmonise all these things we will have a new Nigeria and a new political and democratic order.

 

 

This particular Commission accept criticisms and we accept our mistakes, and where we make mistakes we have no problems in accepting that.

 

 

Is INEC worried with the number of petitions at the tribunals, compared to the number we had after 2015 general elections?

 

 

No. If you look at the figures, for pre-election matters, involving the conduct of party primaries, we have 809 matters in court. For election petitions, we have 800 matters in court. So the challenge is the conduct of party primaries by political parties.

 

 

So we have less number of election petitions arising from the conduct of election generally than preelection matters arising from party primary elections. So, I think we did well with the conduct of the 2019 general elections. We conducted elections that were credible, and we conducted elections that reflected the voting patterns and the wishes of the Nigerian people. But that does not mean we didn’t have challenges in the elections. We have accepted these challenges, and one of those challenges was the rescheduling of the elections. We have addressed the Nigerian people and we made the necessary amends so that we don’t have such time of postponement this time around. But in terms of number of election petitions in court, we are not worried about that.

 

 

Some of this election petitions also revolved around whether the person declared as a winner was even qualified to contest the election. So have of this 800 has nothing to do with the conduct of the elections. Under the law, the issue of qualification is both the preelection matters and postelection matter.

 

 

Those who promulgated our electoral act and those who designed the constitution know that there will be problems, and based on this, they designed a mechanism for the resolution of this problems and some of these challenges.

 

 

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Sunday Extra

Deplorable state of Onitsha, Nkpor feeder roads: We’re ready to support Obiano if…

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Deplorable state of Onitsha, Nkpor feeder roads: We’re ready to support Obiano if…

•We pay heavy tax yet our roads are deplorable –Residents

 

 

Despite the strides recorded by successive governments in Anambra State in the area of road networks, the inability to fix the feeder roads connecting Onitsha, Nkpor and Obosi, we erode the enviable achievements that earned Anambra State, the state with the best road networks. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports

 

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esidents of Nkpor, Obosi and Onitsha in Idemili North and Onitsha North  Local Government Area of Anambra State respectively, are currently calling on the government of Chief Willie Obianor to fix the feeder roads connecting the high rising buildings in these communities in order not to erode the long-standing achievements of the state as the best with good road networks in the country.

 

 

The residents said Onitsha, Nkpor and Obosi are typical example of communities built by private individuals without government involvement hence there is a need for the government to show some concern by fixing these roads which have become impassable and consequently prevented mororits from driving their cars home.

 

 

Many of them have resorted to parking their vehicles on the roads as well as nearby fuel stations instead of struggling to drive their vehicles home on a rugged and slippery roads, the vehicles which occasionally end up in a ditch or deep pothole.

 

 

The residents said if the government will show interest in reconstructing the roads, they will give it all the financial and moral support to ensure that they drive their vehicles to their respective homes, saying the effect of the bad roads is worse during the raining season.

 

 

Sunday Telegraph learnt that the indigineous Anambra traders were the reason for such massive development and investment in the high rising buildings one sees in these communities and were never government’s efforts.

No, the weekly gathered that lack of government’s involvement in this level of development also made it possible for the majority of the landlords of these high rising buildings to build a house without making provision for borehole for the tenants as a number of the residents have to go down stairs to buy water.

 

 

Unlike what obtains in the Federal Capital Territory, where Sunday Telegraph learnt that the FCT government made it mandatory that any landlord who builds more than three storey building must install a lift and ensure water supply, tenants living at the six floor to come down to buy water in jerrican.

 

 

According to a resident of Nkpor, Barr Emeka Ndukwe, despite the huge revenue they contribute to the government, the government is yet to reciprocate by fixing their roads and even portable water, saying that he wants Governor Obianor to tar the roads as his departing legacy.

 

 

“Outside these estates and high rising building areas, Anambra State has fantastic road networks and it seemed as if there is nothing else to do. Former administrations of Dr. Chris Ngige and Mr. Peter Obi did well in the areas of roads constructions. And others and they are known for these achievements. We also want this administration to give us this as a parting gift,” he said.

 

 

He urged any potential governor to the state, as a matter of priority, reconstruct these roads to make the cities and estates envy of other states across the country and pride of the state as has always been the case.

 

 

He continued: “There is no state in Nigeria where there are concentration of such high rising buildings on a stretch except for Lagos State to an extent. These are private traders efforts. If government should come in and help them plan, regulate and maintain their roads, properties around these places will appreciate for the good of the state.”

 

 

During Sunday Telegraph’s visit to Ata Road, Nkpor, it was discovered that the majority of these residents park their vehicles some distance away from their houses as the bad roads prevented them from driving their vehicles home. Some of them by vehicles but have never entered their compounds.

 

 

 

In some places, erosion has almost washed off their gate and with the ban of commercial motorcycle operators (Okada) in Anambra State, it makes it more difficult. Prior to the ban, okada was the choice option as it manoeuvre the rugged roads with slippery red mud.

 

 

It was learnt that one of the successive governors in the state paid attention to the plights of the residents except the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo, who in his governorship campaign previously showed concern even as he went ahead saying that he will use the high rising buildings to obtain foreign loan to build the state.

 

 

At Uke Street by Transformer, Mr. Chima Obiojor said everybody is on his own here, adding a typical Anambra man does not look on the government when he wants to do anything, the reason Anambra men build houses, pay for electricity poles and transformer, yet provide their own security irrespective of what the government is offering.

 

 

He said: “We have fine buildings here but there are no roads to pass. You know my house and the simple way to follow is Idemili bus-stop but you can see me go through the Nkpor Junction. Not as if the junction is okay but it’s manageable.

 

 

“I change shock absorbers on regular basis. I am planning to pack out from there and go to house in Ogidi so that my motor will last. With this, I will end the unnecessary stress. Obianor’s administration should do something. He is trying but there is a need for him to give these axis a face lift.”

 

 

While in a commercial tricycle, a woman who introduced herself as Mama Junior, a primary school teacher, told our correspondent that some time, the residents and some good landlords organised themselves to do the roads independent of the government but some indigenous people demanded money from them which stalled the work.

 

 

She said, “Our government is not interested here because nobody sees the roads, rather they went and spent money on other roads that are seen by people. Now    that there are no major roads to build in the state, we want the government to fix these roads so that we can enjoy what others are enjoying.

 

 

“Apart from Peter Obi, Anambra has been a state built by private individual efforts of indegineous traders and others. People of Anambra do not wait for government to do anything for them. They find solution to their problems. Anambra State is a solution state.

“They build empires of their own without anybody’s support and the reason they feel nothing is impossible with money. They believe that once there is money, with government or without the government’s support, they can achieve anything they want. They feel that since you don’t want to support them also don’t be an obstacle to them.

 

 

“If the government can fix the roads, there is no estate in any part of the country that can beat anambra state in the area of development and infrastructure.”

 

 

According to Engineer Chibuzor Udokwu, with what Peter Obi did in Anambra State, other governors of this state may end up spending Anambra money on white elephant projects, thinking there is nothing to do in the state again.

 

 

“There are feeder roads in Onitsha and Nkpor that you can’t even pass on foot how much more vehicles yet these are very good link roads that connect to one major community or the other. For long, these roads have not been done and this is the time to do that,” he said. 

 

 

He noted that Anambra State has woken up and never to return to the days of slumber and will not support anybody who will want to return the state to pre-Chris Ngige era.

 

 

He insisted that greater industrialisation of Anambra State in view requires good road, water supply and the ultimate electricity, adding that the state government must rise up to its responsibilities according to the social contract theory.

 

 

On the other hand, Sunday Telegraph learnt that apart from the issue of bad roads, lack of government policy and involvement in these high rising buildings brought about a major structural defect in Nkpor and Onitsha as landlords build houses without provision of water supply.

 

 

It was learnt that some of them are waiting for the government to provide them with pipe bore water even as Onitsha Greater Water Scheme, Nkisi went morribund many years ago.

 

 

“The landlords here are very mean. How can somebody build four story building and without water. They will expect you to go down and buy water and carry it up stairs. I live on the penthouse, the fifth floor, so you can imagine what I face every day fetching water,” said Obiora Chukwunulu, who lives on Obosi Road.

 

 

 

 

“In most cases, I have to pay water vendors to bring water for me. One jerrycan is between N50 and N100; by the time you get the quantity that will be enough for you and your family, you would have spent some fortunes,” he said.

 

 

“We have affordable accommodation here apart from what I have explained and roads leading to inner streets which nobody is concerned about. Obosi is a good place to be and do business. We have good security as well but we need roads and potable water. Everybody depends on boreholes as there is nothing like reliable public water,” he added.

 

 

Meanwhile, according to Izueke Edwin Madu of Department of Public Administration and Local Government Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, urban centres throughout the world exhibit an incredible diversity of characteristics, economic structure, levels of infrastructure, historical origins, patterns of growth and degree of formal planning.

 

 

He said: “Yet, many of the problems they face are strikingly familiar. But in developing countries, particularly in Africa, urban residents suffer to a great extent from severe environmental and health challenges associated with insufficient access to clean drinking water, inadequate sewage facilities and solid waste disposal.

 

 

“One of the most visible and disturbing characteristics of the urban areas in Nigeria is the decline of their infrastructural base. As urban populations grow, and as available resources decline, public infrastructure is being degraded to the point where cities are seriously losing their capacity to operate as productive entities.

 

 

“Solid wastes are uncollected and piles of decaying wastes are allowed to rot in the streets; schools are overcrowded; urban roads have deteriorated into quagmires in rainy seasons; Public telephone is an impossible dream; public transport systems are becoming severely overloaded; and more and more people are obliged to live in unserviced plots.

 

 

“Not only is little new infrastructures constructed, but existing infrastructures are poorly maintained. Poor urban planning in the face of rapid urbanisation is therefore regarded as one of the major problems confronting many urban areas in Nigeria with special reference to Onitsha Urban area.

 

 

“The filth and infrastructural degradation that have over taken Onitsha, NKpor and Obosi among others, is as a result of poor urban planning. The failure of land subdivision and servicing programmes to keep pace with rapid urban growth has led to widespread illegal and informal developments, hence the growth of squatter settlements or slum areas, for instance, the housing clusters at Okpoko, Fegge, Woliwo and Odoakpu.”

 

 

In the same manner, and corroborating him, Eme Innocent of the same department, said many development projects carried out in these areas were without regard to the environment and this poses potential health problems and other hazards such as flooding, congestion and confusion.

 

 

“This has hindered the extension of not only of water, electricity and solid waste collection services, but also adequate sanitation arrangements and road networks to such areas,” he said.

 

 

He noted that deficiencies in infrastructure provision and waste management, environmental problems in Onitsha also arise from the inability of public sector authorities like the Onitsha Town Planning Authority and the Onitsha Local Government councils to enforce regulations governing land development, and industrial emissions.

 

 

However, there are other areas of these communities that have received one facelift or the other but the fact remains that Anambra State government has to do something about these roads linking one community or the other within Onitsha, Nkpor and Obosi rising buildings.

 

 

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Sunday Extra

Women’s summit: In celebration of Anambra amazons

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Women’s summit: In celebration of Anambra amazons

T

he year 1929 has continued to remain ever green in the annals of Nigerian history as a day the women in Aba, now in the current Abia State, took to the streets when the colonial Paramount rulers ordered that women should start paying taxes and other forms of levies.

Apparently unhappy with this development the women in Aba brought the ancient commercial town to a stand still protesting that there cannot be taxation without representation.

 

 

The protest became a watershed in the struggle for Nigeria’s Independence and also made a strong statement about the position of women in the polity even before the Women’s Conference in China some years ago where affirmative action on women came to be.

 

 

This also rubbed off on the various churches in the country giving impetus to Christian Women Organisation (CWO) of the Roman Catholic Church and their Anglican counterparts to commence the yearly August meetings.

 

 

As it were, the August meeting was an opportunity for the women to appraise themselves and also chart a new course in the interest of the women as well as embark on developmental projects in the respective parishes.

 

 

But the advent of the Willie Obiano administration brought a novelty and fresh tonic to the annual August meetings by the women and injected fresh ideas and motivation to the celebration.

 

 

Anambra’s First Lady, Chief Mrs Ebele Obiano introduced the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) which she used as the platform to empower women both married and widows and in the last four years over 50 homeless families are now comfortable owners of their homes while so many physically challenged men and women have benefited from the project.

 

 

Today the usual August meetings have metamorphosed into the Anambra Women Summit, which still takes place every August and this year’s event which has as its theme “Gender Balance and Social Balance”, also showcased a celebration of accomplished women in the state.

 

 

Among those that received award of recognition include the wife of Nigeria’s first President, Prof Uche Azikiwe and first female governor in Nigeria, Dame Virginia Etiaba as well as Iyom Josephine Anieneh

 

 

On the whole, a total of 18 women of Anambra extraction were honoured at the occasion which according to Mrs. Obiano was a way of encouraging women in the state to stand and be counted in the nation’s hall of fame.

 

 

Continuing the First Lady noted that it is not only the men in Anambra who have made the state proud. The women have also contributed to the socio economic development of the state.

 

 

“I am very proud of our women who toil every day to ensure that our future is secured. If you look around every sector you will find a proud Anambra daughter excelling. We therefore decided to start the process of recognising them as a way of appreciation and encouraging the budding ones to aspire and excel. Moreover, we will also empower various women groups,” she said.

 

 

Explaining further the programmes of 2019 Mothers’ Summit, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Lady Ndidi Mezue, whose ministry is collaborating and organising the event in collaboration with the Wife of the Governor, said that the theme of this year’s summit will guide the discussion led by a keynote speaker.

 

 

Speaking also Governor Obiano announced that the state government will be holding a special award reception which would include those that were honoured during the summit.

 

 

Obiano further explained that if not for the peace in crime free Anambra State the summit would not have been successful recalling that in the past people were holding traditional wedding receptions outside the state due to the poor security.

Speaking shortly after receiving her award Dame Etiaba noted that this is the first time Anambra women are being recognised specially adding that the wife of the governor has taken the annual August meeting to another level.

 

Prof Uche Azikiwe urged Anambra women to strive to be successful in their various fields of endeavour contending that they should not see their status as women as a disadvantage to sell themselves but to complete favourably in the society.

The Anambra Women’s Summit is a one month beehive of activities which has commenced with the tour of the 21 local government areas in the state.

 

 

 

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Sunday Extra

Nigeria back to days of unwholesome, substandard drugs, products

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Nigeria back to days of unwholesome, substandard drugs, products
  • Counterfeited drugs as a result of porous Nigerian borders –NAFDAC

 

  • ‘Nigeria in worst state of products counterfeiting’

 

  • It was as if my intestine was about to cut – Victim

 

Many Nigerians have met their untimely deaths even as others are continuously consuming poisonous and other lethal substances in place of food, drinks and beverages due to the failure of the different regulatory bodies in charge of safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the nation. CJIKIOKE IREMEKA reports

 

Miss Lucy Ogbodo, no doubt, may have had the worst of trips for the year when she travelled to Onitsha from Lagos recently. Her last recreational trip was a show of great embarrassment and discomfiture even as she was gorgeously dressed. She vomited and defecated all through the journey in an embarrassing manner due to a bottled malt (soft drink) she took few minutes into the journey.

 

It was suspected to be adulterated Not even the combination of tetracycline and flagyl (drugs) administered on her by a co-traveller were able to salvage the situation as she vomited indiscriminately. Also, other passengers made futile efforts to restore her health to normal as she continued to hold and squeeze her tummy in pains while vomiting.

 

More so, sympathizers’ soft words targeted at calming her down failed too as she made no pretenses crying her eyes out and appealed to the bus driver to stop within short intervals for her to throw up and defecate. Initially, she managed to vomit through the window of the bus, but being a moving vehicle, the hurls was messing up the vehicle which spurred the driver to stop each time she wanted to vomit. Lucy’s body system changed after she finished taking plastic bottled malt which many people said was counterfeited malt brewed illegally at one of the numerous illegal brewing plants in Lagos.

 

“I bought the malt in this park (Ojota) as I alighted from bus. I didn’t suspect anything because it had almost the same taste with some of the canned malt that I have taken before, though there was a slight but unnoticeable difference,” she said. “It was when I started experiencing this that I tried to remember the name of the malt which I bought but I couldn’t put a name to it,” she quipped.

 

According to her, she thought the slight difference in the taste could be a distinctive taste to distinguish a particular brand from other products flocking the Nigerian market unregulated. At a gaze, she thought the malt was named after a particular brand which she wasn’t familiar with, until much later she discovered the name of the malt was unknown to her.

 

“I was never been humbled as I was that day and I thank God that the driver was a good man. Before, I was still trying to hold myself as a lady but at point, it dawn on me that I can’t hold it anymore without seeking help,” she said. “I thought my intestines were going to cut. It was so disgraceful and painful. When I got to Onitsha, I had to go for full medical checkup. As it stands, I don’t think I will buy anything again, especially a product I don’t know its name or address of the manufacturer, when travelling,” she added.

 

“There are too many fake products in the country but unfortunately, the government is not doing anything about it. We really missed late Prof. Dora Akunyili,” added Lucy, a graduate of Public Administration. In similar case, Dr. Segun Aremu said the unchecked rise in counterfeiting products and drugs in the country is alarming, saying that the country’s regulatory bodies have failed in their responsibility of safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the country.

 

At Oshodi, he bought a bottled plastic Pepsi Cola, after work in the evening but at this time the old pep not the one that has yellow strip around the neck that reads ‘20% extra at same price.’ “After buying the chilled drink, I boarded a bus and opened the drink. I drank the drink but it was a way far different from the taste I know. I tried to pour it on the floor of the vehicle (Nissan Coaster) which I boarded to Mile 2, but the content foamed suggesting it was airtight,” he said. He checked the expiring date but that was not visible anymore.

So, he tasted it once again yet. It didn’t taste the same and to be on safer side, he had to fling it off through window understanding what a fake and or expired product can do to one’s health. Segun is so familiar with the taste of Pepsi that even in the middle of sleep he will tell you the difference between a pepsi and a coke. According to him, even if his eyes were to be tied and given both drinks, he will be able to detect which is which. He concluded that the product was adulterated by some people as there have been cases of mushrooms illegal wineries and bottling companies in the state. They are left unchecked by the regulatory bodies in the country, especially in Lagos.

 

Sunday Telegraph investigation showed that the rate at which product counterfeiting is thriving in the country is alarming. It also shows that the regulatory bodies saddled with the responsibility of safeguarding the life and health of the nation have compromised.

 

Hence, the counterfeiters of popular brands in Nigeria are making a kill of the illegal business occasioned by the inability of regulatory bodies, especially National Administration of Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) which saddled with responsibility of regulating and controlling the food have in this country to step up their game.

 

This has given rise to proliferation of illegal ‘one corner breweries’ where the fakers churn out dangerous products that are injurious to the health of the end consumers, which in some cases, leave the victims with perpetual deformity. According to social commentator, Mr. Hillary Ugboji, the quest for survival today in Nigeria with no sense of direction has pushed many Nigerians into illegalities.

 

He noted that the case of counterfeiting product has been on upward since the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that while issue of corruption in the public sector is being romanced with, a greater corruption is springing up from all sphere of the country.

 

According to him, market trends showed an increase in counterfeiting, even as enforcement scores significant wins, saying in Nigeria, HP, in collaboration with security agents, has raided several hideouts in Lagos, where counterfeit HP consumables were sold and arrest was affected.

 

He said: “Already counterfeiting is costing the global economy $3 billion per year according to the Imaging Supplies Coalition, the growing risk of fake products was driven by an increasingly broad supplier ecosystem, lack of certainty by buyers that their purchases are genuine, and a lack of awareness of the risks of purchasing counterfeit goods.”

 

Just recently, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) raised concern over the growing number of fake and substandard products in the country.

 

The President of LCCI, Babatunde Ruwase, made the observation at a press briefing on the state of the economy in Lagos. Mr. Ruwase said the counterfeiting of products posed a grave danger to the health and safety of the citizens. According to him, the issue constitutes a major challenge to leading brands in the consumer and durable products sector, as it erodes their market share, profit margin, and impacts adversely on their reputation.

 

He called for better investment in the capacity of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), toward tackling the problem of fake and substandard products.

 

 

He also urged the Federal Government to address concerns about overlapping responsibilities of SON, NAFDAC and the Weight and Measures Unit of Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. Analysing a report whivh said Nigeria and other countries lose $3bn to counterfeit products yearly, the Director Global Anti- Counterfeit Programme at HP, Glenn Jones, said: “Every one of the key market indicators we monitor show a significant increase in the risk of counterfeit print supplies.

 

 

“For companies like HP, counterfeits undermine decades of focused research and testing aimed at creating superior ink and toner, and reliable, high-quality cartridges for our customers.

 

For users, fakes cause a significant increase in print failures, low page yield; poor print quality, leaks and clogs, in addition to voiding hardware warranties.” Sunday Telegraph learnt according to Harris Interactive surveys, the past four years have shown a 30 per cent plus drop in companies working with a trusted, primary supplier, and a 27 per cent increase in companies buying purely on availability

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Sunday Extra

Sen. Okurounmu: Expect nothing extra-ordinary from Buhari’s cabinet

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Sen. Okurounmu: Expect nothing extra-ordinary from Buhari’s cabinet

Senator Femi Okurounmu, a nationalist, the Chairman of the 2014 National Conference Convening Committee and one of the leaders of the pan-Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere. In this interview with ADEWALE AJAYI, he expresses displeasure over the Senate’s “poor screening of ministerial nominees,” just as he blames the media for not discharging their duties as expected as the watchdog of the three arms of government. He expresses great doubt over the capability of the new cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari to make any difference in national development in the next four years

 

The ministerial nominees have been confirmed by the National Assembly without any ministry attached to any of the names. Thus, they could not be asked questions on their competence in the ministry they are to head, rather than the senators ended up commending them in a “take a bow and leave,” manner. Is that the right way to go about screening nominees?

 

If you read my book which I have just launched, that was part of my valedictory at the Senate, my strong recommendations is that, when the list of ministers come to the Senate it should be done such that the ministry which they intend to head should be attached, so that they could be asked relevant questions, and a lot of investigations could be done to know how competent they are to hold that ministry.

 

I made that recommendations way back 2003 but, apparently the Senate continues to do whatever it likes. The procedure they are following does not allow for proper screening of ministers.

 

All those people they screened they gave them clean bill of health despite the fact that some of them have cases with the anti graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). I believe an investigation or clearance letter should have been sought from the anti-graft agencies before screening the nominees.

 

You journalists in Nigeria have a role to play in this regard.

 

How do you mean Sir?

 

 

In America or Britain, the journalist will be crying out in criticism of the government and the Senate, if such a thing is ever done but our journalists in Nigeria don’t say anything apart from the comment we observers make, they report what we say but journalist themselves don’t say anything. But at times some of these attitudes are condemned, but those concerned do it with impunity. It is because journalists don’t cry out enough.

 

 

If all the media keep complaining, and it is not just complaining once and keep quiet, but they should keep complaining and recycling the news that this should not be the way Senate should screen ministers

 

 

If the newspapers in Nigeria, radio stations, television houses and social media and online publications keep complaining that, that is not the way to go about it, the government itself will know it has done something wrong and it will feel uncomfortable. But our media houses are complicit, they just watch, and feel all what they need to do is just to report what government does, as if they don’t have their own opinion. Among the ministerial designates cleared by the National Assembly are former governors Timipre Sylva and Godswill Akpabio, both having pending corruption cases at the EFCC.

 

Of particular importance is the fact that Mr. Festus Keyamo was the prosecutor of the former. What does that implies about President Buhari’s fight against corruption? It is obvious, as you have said and I’m excited that you media are the ones highlighting it. We have said enough, we have said it repeatedly but they said that we are saying it because of politics

 

 

So it is left for you media people to keep repeating it and emphasising it to highlight the inadequacies of this Buhari regime. I think it sinks more when you media highlight it than when they tag us critics for doing it. When we highlight it, they say because we are critics that is why we are saying it.

 

The country needs you journalists to keep harping on all this very hypocritical fight against corruption. The way foreign media do, the media in the advance countries, we need our own media too to come to the side of the masses and begin to fight for our own people, so that is the challenge and my plea to Nigerian journalists.

 

Recently, the sum of N53 Billion said to belong to NNPC was discovered in First Bank account, though NNPC has denied ownership. What is your view of this? That is Buhari’s way of fighting corruption, that is all I can say.

 

That is Buhari’s way of fighting corruption. I don’t want to say more than that. It is shameful, but we can also commend Federal Government for confiscating the money.

 

What do you make of Yoruba traditional rulers’ recent visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, proposed installation of closed circuit cameras and drones to monitor high ways in the South- West?

 

Of course, he had to say something, just telling them something which they have no intention of doing. If they even do it, the cameras will not last for one week before they are destroyed.

 

The cameras will not be functional than a week before they pack up, they cannot be effective at all, in any case do they have network in the bush that can make the camera to be effective..

 

Chief Olusegun Osoba has threatened to sue you for N3billion if you don’t retract what you said about him in a publication made recently credited to you. How do you feel and what is your position on the development? He was referring to the interview I granted newspapers, but I have no comment on it right now. I don’t want to comment on it now.

 

The security situation is getting worse, because in the past, the activities of the Fulani herdsmen were limited to the North and part of South-South and South-East but now it has been extended to the South -West, and from all indications no concrete step has been taken to checkmate their activities. Should we continue that way? We claim we are educated people, when people go to school, is it not to go and pass examination, and they continue to behave they never went to school. Many of us in the South-West went to school but we don’t behave we are educated people.

 

As educated people you have a vision, you should be able to see a thing from a distance before it touches you.

 

When the Fulani killing started in the Middle Belt, some of us were crying that these killings were coming and it would not be limited to the Middle Belt, which was just a staging post, we have been crying about this for the last three, four years, but we did not get enough support from the media as usual, a lot of people, particularly those with politicalvested interest dismissed our observations and recommendations, even the media remains silent.

 

They thought it was a matter of politics, it is not a matter of politics, but it is a matter of security.

 

When people are silent and complicit with what is happening that is what will happen. We should have foreseen this thing long ago because we saw it coming, it did not just descend on us because, we saw it coming. The Federal Government’s approach to this problem is not encouraging, the other time there was crisis between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Katsina State which led to loss of lives, President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the killing and urged the herdsmen to respect the farmers right over their land, but when such a thing happened in other states, the Federal Government only promised to look into the matter and since then, no herdsman has been brought to book. Is that not an act of insensitive to the plight of others?

 

We have been saying this, the Fulani people also make fun of us that all we can do is to talk, what we are saying now; we have said it many times.

 

How can we make government accountable?

 

The way all democracies across the globe make government accountable, that is the only way.

 

There are many ways acceptable to democracy that can make the government accountable, either you vote the government out of power, if you have detected the failings of the government. If elections are pretty far away, you let the government know your displeasure, by going to the street and march, and protest, so the government will know you are not happy.

 

Go to the street and protest, that is a way of making government accountable One major problem we have is that the electorate’s vote does not count, because according to some facts presented by electoral observers, the last presidential election was manipulated to favour the ruling party?

 

How much has the press talked and complained about that?

 

 

Up till now the American press is still complaining about Donald Trump’s victory, Cable News Network (CNN) for the last three years has not stopped to complain about Trump’s victory.

 

How much has Nigerian press complained that elections were not fair? Is the media not supposed to be the voice of the people? The media have fault in Nigeria.

 

But the media has been reporting and doing series of analyses on voter manipulation, vote-buying and even over-militarisation of the election process. Have you not been reading these? Yes, I have seen some of these, but they need to do more until changes and improvements are made.

 

If you take a look at the list of ministers just confirmed, most of them are politicians, many of   them recycled, and there were few technocrats among them.

 

We also have many ex-governors. With these set of people can Nigeria move forward, because some of them have been tested and they have failed the nation?

 

The feeling that some Nigerians have come to the conclusion that, it is only a few people that should be criticizing government all the time, the media should also be at the fore front of criticizing; the media should be at the fore front of criticizing government when they do something bad. The Nigerian masses are not getting enough support from the media.

 

The media is not playing its role. The economy is not improving, and some attributed the delay in appointing ministers to one of the reasons the economy nosedived.

 

How can the economy be fixed?

 

The economy can be fixed by appointing those who know about the economy, that is appointing technocrats and create an atmosphere for conducive investment, and foreign investment, as it is, foreign investors are disinvesting by taking their money outside the country. There is a lot of disinvesting going on in Nigeria, people closing their investments and moving out of the country, this is what is going on, some factories are closing down and the owners of the factories are moving out. Nigeria is not conducive for investment, some factories in Nigeria are moving to other African countries, and the media remain silent, expressly silent.

 

The media is not silent as you are trying to portray it; the media does condemn some government policies. Probably you write one editorial and that is the end that is what most newspapers do. If the media see something wrong, it should be talking about it to generate awareness.

 

Like you said earlier, what could be done about this resort to the ballot to make their vote count? I agree with you, what can be done to make the vote count, is to make the elected officials accountable.

 

 

Take as an example what is happening at the Senate, let Nigerians march at the Senate and express their displeasure.

 

Can’t Nigerians march at the National Assembly?

 

If Nigerians do that, and they continue to do that, to show they are aware of what their elected people are doing and not happy with what is happening and they continue to express their displeasure, the elected people will be conscious of what they would do.

 

 

They don’t want to offend their constituents, as it is now the elected people behave as if nobody elected them, because no matter what they do, they get away with it, their constituents won’t react.

 

It is the fear of the constituent that will make an elected person behave and put himself in check, but if he knows his constituent won’t react to anything he does, why should he bother?

 

Because of this development, apathy has set in because some people don’t bother to go out and vote, because if they vote, their vote won’t count. I don’t blame them because if their vote does not count why do they need to go and waste their time, the people should also put the government on their toes, by publicly demonstrating their feeling to government to know how they feel, that is the only way.

 

If you are to advice President Buhari, what will you tell him to do, to put the country back on its feet?

 

I don’t think Buhari wants to keep this country on its feet, why would I advise him against his wish?

 

What informed your opinion? Obasanjo has already told us what Buhari’s agenda is, I don’t need to repeat it.

 

Are you not aware of what Obasanjo said, don’t you believe him?

 

 

The 2023 general elections is just some few years from now, and some Nigerians have started scheming to succeed Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s name has come up, do you think Nigerians will opt for him to succeed Buhari?

 

 

I don’t know, but if there is still Nigeria by then I wish him luck. How do you mean that if there is still Nigeria by then?

 

 

It is consistent with all we have been saying, is everything we have been saying so far not threatening Nigeria existence?

 

 

Some Nigerians are of the view that irrespective of what happen, the country will still remain united. If Nigeria is a slave colony by that time then I wish anybody luck then. Reasons have been advanced on how to move Nigeria forward.

 

What do you think we need to do to move the country forward? From the look of things can one say our leaders are committed to moving the country forward?

 

 

They know the right thing rather than do it, they will do what is contrary, why is it like that? Then you are not being consistent.

 

We have suggested the implementation of the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference that is our own suggestion that is the only way Nigeria can move forward, restructuring. Immediate restructuring, to grant autonomy to the various ethnic nationality groups, to various constituent parts, if we can do that Nigeria can move forward.

 

In what way?

 

A person in power, is either interested in pursuing his interest or national interest or a group interest, it all depends on which interest is uppermost in his mind. Our politicians are either driven by self interest, or by ethnic interest, or by religious interest, only few of them are driven by patriotic national interest

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