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Xenophobic attacks: A wake up call for our leaders

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Xenophobic attacks: A wake up call for our leaders

The pursuit of wealth is not a bad thing in itself because without the food and comforts which wealth provides, life will be penurious and drab. But always remember that any wealth accumulated on a selfish basis, at the expense of the State in defiance of social justice helps to create a disorganised society in which everybody will eat everybody, and no one person can be safe.’ -Chief Obafemi Awolowo

 

 

He may have left us more than 32 years ago, but the above quote from the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo is still profoundly relevant in Nigeria as recent violent events in some parts of the country have shown. Incidentally, what triggered off, which was clearly pent up frustration amongst the people, was not anything here in Nigeria; but events some 4,644 kilometres away in South Africa.

Last weekend a fresh round of xenophobic hysteria began in the Rainbow nation with foreigners being on the wrong end of frustration with lack of jobs and decent living conditions for millions of South Africans, which their government had failed to provide. And thus it has become easy for the citizens to take out their anger on non-South Africans with Nigerians often being on the receiving end. Although xenophobia is not really a new scourge in South Africa having even existed when apartheid was still the order of the day, however, after majority rule in 1994, contrary to expectations, the incidence of nationalism increased. According to Wikipedia, between 2000 and March 2008, at least 67 people died in what were identified as xenophobic attacks.

In May 2008, a series of attacks left 62 people dead; although 21 of those killed were South African citizens. In 2015, another nationwide spike in xenophobic attacks against immigrants in general prompted a number of foreign governments to begin repatriating their citizens. In fact in the run up to the 2010 World Cup, many had expressed fears over a possible outbreak of xenophobia during the tournament proper, and some even appealed to world football governing body, FIFA to move the competition away from South Africa – a plea FIFA flatly rejected. And despite assurances from the government of then President Jacob Zuma that teams and visitors would be safe, many who travelled to South Africa did so with a lot of trepidation.

This writer was opportune to have been one of the journalists from Nigeria to have covered the 2010 World Cup and I still vividly remembering how even before leaving we had counselled ourselves not to move about, alone but to go out in groups (‘strength in numbers’ I guess). Luckily the tournament held without any major untoward incident that would have embarrassed the organisers and FIFA.

But the six weeks or so that we were in South Africa afforded us to see first-hand the wide gulf between the Rainbow nation and the so-called “Giant of Africa” in terms of virtually everything – hotels, roads, communication, infrastructure, you name it they are light years ahead of Nigeria. Sadly it is this advancement that has acted like a magnet in attracting migrants from not only their immediate neighbours like Zimbabwe and Mozambique but from virtually all over the continent to South Africa in search of a better life. According to reports, between 2010 and 2017 the immigrant community in South Africa increased from 2 million people to 4 million people. It is only natural that such an influx is bound to cause resentment, especially amongst the locals, who wrongly or rightly will blame the migrants for whatever woes they are enduring.

A Pew Research poll conducted in 2018 showed that 62% of South Africans viewed immigrants as a burden on society by taking jobs and social benefits and that 61% of South Africans thought those immigrants were more responsible for crime than other groups.

While the hard working nature of many Nigerians and other foreigners meant that they were able to make themselves an important part of the productive workforce in South Africa, it is only human nature that those that do not have jobs (for whatever reasons) will view the migrants as being the ones denying them work –especially if the economy is struggling! After all that is what happened in 1983 when the then government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari told immigrants without proper immigration documents to leave the country. Most of the immigrants were West Africans and mainly Ghanaians. Over 2 million men, women and children were affected. Incidentally, in 1969 Ghana also expelled Nigerians from its country.

In 1969, Ghana enacted the Aliens Compliance Order in which hundreds of thousands of immigrants, most of which were Nigerians, were forcefully expelled from the country. So disdain towards foreigners is not a new thing on the continent, although the manner they are attacked and often killed in South Africa is a new low.

But what is happening now shows how far we have fallen as a nation of choice that people loved to flock to, to now one in which its own citizens are leaving in droves having lost all hope of a better life. So much so that South Africa has supplanted us as the new honey pot on the continent. Unfortunately the latest orgy of violence in South Africa was the final straw that broke the tolerance level of Nigerians who resulted into attacking South African business concerns in the country.

But in doing so it, is a classic case of our spiting our face in order to cut off our nose, because most of those majorly affected by the assault on Shoprite, MTN, Pep and other South African businesses are actually Nigerians! Yes, while the investors will equally feel the pinch the main burden will be on the everyday folk that wake up in the morning to go and work at Shoprite or MTN and at the end of the month get paid. Now there may be no money to pay them this month because of the actions of a few.

Ironically had our leaders gotten their acts together it should have been the other way round with Nigeria protesting attacks on her business concerns in South Africa. But rather than develop the nation, our leaders have been mainly busy feathering their individual nests to the detriment of the collective good of Nigeria. We should be ashamed that a nation that only gained “independence” in 1994 is now showing us the way in terms of how to operate successful businesses.

Many will recall that in the 70s and 80s we had our Shoprite in the form of Kingsway and UTC – but what happened to them? They were run aground. For those who do not want to travel so far back in time, what about the other satellite station that birthed in 2007 to the delight of many of us who were happy that at last Multichoice/DSTV now had a rival? On November 8, Multichoice will be celebrating her 26th birthday while its rival went bust barely after just four years of operations.

One can only hope that our leaders will look beyond recalling our High Commissioner to South Africa and boycotting the World Economic Summit (WES) and look at truly holistic ways of empowering their own citizens so that the need to “flee” the country will reduce. After all the former Premier of the old Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo had already said what might eventually happen if they do not!

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Perspectives

P&ID’s $9.6bn judgement: ‘Who Done It?’

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P&ID’s $9.6bn judgement: ‘Who Done It?’

 

 

F

or those not only old enough to know, but also fans of television series; they will immediately (or not so immediately) recall that the above headline I am using for my piece this weekend strikes a chord – stirring up something that might had receded in their memories because it happened a fairly long time ago!

 

 

So let me end your struggle to recall where you had come across it – it is the headline of the one of the episodes of the television series, Dallas.

 

 

It was one of the 1980 episodes of the very popular series than ran on the American television network, on CBS from April 2, 1978, to May 3, 1991; and was syndicated all over the world including Nigeria.

 

 

In fact this particular episode still remains the second highest rated prime-time telecast ever and got viewers scratching their heads trying to find out who actually shot one of the main characters, J.R. Ewing before finally revealing the culprit.

 

 

But what is the title of one of the longest lasting full-hour prime time dramas in American TV history, which in 2007 was included in TIME magazine’s list of “100 Best TV Shows of All-Time”, doing in a very recent event which has captivated the headlines and been the main talk around town?

 

 

The answer is very simple: Because millions of Nigerians want to know how those in government and who are to protect the interests of the citizens have allowed the nation to get into this mess involving British engineering firm, Process & Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) and its $9.6billion judgment against the country in the first instance!

 

 

While not in a position to apportion blame on anyone directly, from what has been gleamed about the case, it is clear once again how inept those saddled with the responsibility of looking after our collective commonwealth have been – either naively or deliberately.

 

 

It also raises the spectre of which other contracts are lurking out there that we do not know off until they come out of the shadow to haunt the nation or some other shoddy decisions have been taken without being properly thought through.

 

 

A classic example of the later is the decision of authorities to allow the siting of various tank farms around Apapa without proper environmental impact assessments being carried out.

 

 

And because of this failure on the part of our bureaucrats and politicians, the once tranquil Apapa, which used to be home to many upper middle and rich class, has been turned into a living hell for the residents.

 

 

Even businesses that were already in the vicinity before the arrival of the tank farms have been impacted negatively.

 

 

John Holt, Niger Biscuits, banks and many others have been forced to relocate or have been squeezed almost to death.

 

 

I remember many occasions, when I was still with This Day Newspapers, of not being able to take my car to the office because tankers waiting to load at the tank farm located on Creek Road would have taken over all the three lanes leading to both the farm and Apapa port proper.

 

 

There were times, on the occasions we were are able to take our vehicles to the office, that we were forced to sleep in the premises after finishing production because the truck drivers would have totally blocked the company’s entrance.

 

 

On a number of occasions a frustrated Publisher, Nduka Obaigbena in a classic case of the “baby wey say him mama no go sleep, himself no go sleep” would use his SUV to block the road leading to the tank farm.

 

 

Members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) would come to beg and appeal to him to allow their members get to the tank farm and in return he (Obaigbena) would squeeze concessions from the NUPENG officials that they would not use theirs to disturb his own business by taking over the road thereby preventing newsprint from getting to the press or even allowing the printed paper leave for distribution because of the antics of their lawless members.

 

 

Of course for the next couple of days after the “truce meeting” we will enjoy some semblance of normalcy with the trucks keeping to one side of the road allowing other road users ply the road before total confusion returns and we are back to the bad old ways.

 

 

A number of people living in Apapa that I know have finally thrown in the towel packed up and left fed up of government’s inability to safe guard their own rights to living in a decent environment.

 

 

What makes the Apapa situation even more poignant is the fact that despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s order of more than two months ago to get the issue fixture it is still business as usual. So if a President’s directive cannot be enforced in this country, then what hope is there for the ordinary man?

 

 

But if one can genuinely argue that this Apapa problem affects just a “few” Nigerians and is limited to just a “small” section of the country; the same cannot be said of the mammoth $9.6billion judgement the nation is now facing and which is enforced will affect everyone living in the country called Nigeria!

 

 

Although moves are already on to find a way out of the logjam, it is also very imperative for government to get to the root cause of how the nation got into the mess in the first instance.

 

 

All the dramatis personnel and the roles that they played in the infamous contract scandal must not only be exposed but must be severely dealt with in order to serve as a deterrent to others who might want to put their selfish interests above those of the collective good of the nation.

 

 

The investigation should not end up like the Halliburton scandal in which the company paid Nigerian officials some $180 million in bribes between 1993 and 2004 in order to secure a construction contract for a liquefied natural gas plant in Bonny Island in the Niger Delta.

 

 

After making headlines for a couple of weeks just like this P&ID scandal, ostensibly because of the “big names” involved, the case quietly blew over without any Nigerian being made to pay for their indiscretions even though a number of foreigners involved in the scandal were prosecuted.

 

This act of impunity by our so-called “big men” is one of the reasons for why we have found ourselves in another messy situation 15 years after that one.

 

 

Thus unless a number of these “big men” are made scape goats; it is clear that such scandals will continue to be a reoccurring decibel in the nation’s history.

 

 

Speaking to the media in Abuja on the issue, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said: “We will find those involved in this scam, either inside or outside government.”

 

 

Well, Nigerians and indeed the world is waiting to see if for once this will actually be the case and we will not end up being treated to another episode of the now rested “Dallas”! 

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Perspectives

Marriage in The GAME OF THRONES (Part 2)

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Marriage in The GAME OF THRONES (Part 2)

P

lease, understand that the devil is not winning this GAME OF THRONES as is being perceived. Making many believe that he is winning, is part of his strategies being employed in the game. If you are among those who believe or have been deceived to believe that the devil is winning this GAME OF THRONES, “you are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).

 

 

One of Satan’s lies is that no one is reliable for marriage anymore. My dear! Don’t fall for this lie. There are dozens and dozens of faithful and reliable young men and ladies out there.

 

 

Because of media reports about church leaders whose marriages are in crisis, many are being deceived by the same attacker to believe that successful marriages hardly exist. He is even painting a picture of “all men of God have become suspects. After all, we hear reports of those indulging in adultery, fornication, rape, sodomy, etc.”

 

 

Satan’s projected VERY BIG LIES are attempts to win THE GAME OF THRONES. The big question (the truth) is “what percentage of men of God ever have their activities reported on the pages of the newspapers? Secondly, what percentage of priests, pastors and other church leaders are actually interested in having their private activities in public domain? Thirdly, who conducted a census of Christians and achieved a scientifically researched evidence that a significant percentage of church leaders have fallen into such sins?

 

 

Please, don’t fall for cheap lies and error of generalization. There are millions of clergy out there with exemplary successful marriages.

 

 

The media reports that husbands and wives, including church goer couples now all kill each other, is part of Satan’s exaggeration and engineering strategies to expand fears for the marital institution, while promoting sexual intercourse outside marriage, so that more people will join him to suffer in hell fire after rapture and white throne judgement.

 

 

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

 

 

Dear reader! Ask God to open your spiritual eyes to see that there is a GAME OF THRONES going on. Satan wants to secure by all means, your loyalty to his throne. So, he makes you believe that money alone is requirement for marital success. May I deflate this lie by informing you that many millionaire couples file for divorce every day? Divorce is not usually an overnight decision. It is the absence of Christ at the centre of a relationship that pilots the relationship towards divorce. Satan knows that your marriage wields a great influence over your personal relationship with God. So, there is currently, a massive satanic attack against Christian marriages, including those involving public figures. This also, is a gimmick being applied to contend for victory in the GAME OF THRONES.

 

 

It is the devil that tells you as a wife never to submit to your husband as scripture commands. Society applauds your errors as of course, sin is sweet and the road to hell fire looks easier to glide through.

 

 

It is Satan that tells you to forget about the Bible when it comes to marital issues. Your true enemy is not your spouse. Your true enemy is Satan who is doing everything to win more loyalists to his throne in this game. Jesus Christ warns you again not to switch camp in John 8:34-35.

 

 

Loyalty and faithfulness to your spouse is loyalty to God’s heavenly throne. Doing the contrary is to leave the winning team that the world thinks is losing (God’s team).

 

 

Avoiding premarital sex is loyalty to God’s heavenly throne. Doing the contrary is to denounce the winning team of godly people, loyalty to the heavenly throne.

 

 

There are millions of faithful, loyal and happy marriage partners in your society. Don’t fall for the devil’s gimmicks to get you, by forming analysis based on frequency of negative media reports. Publishing a church leader’s sin of adultery is fun and helps media houses to sell their products, especially when that church person is popular. That cannot become a representation of a larger silent population of loyalists to God’s heavenly throne.

 

 

Right from the day of your wedding where you were taking your marital vow, Satan was busy swearing to ensure that your marital vow never comes to fulfillment. His permanent focus is to ensure that your loyalty to the heavenly throne is broken (John 10:10).

 

 

What you are reading now is intended to help you ensure that you do not conform to this world’s standards but be transformed by the renewing of your mind to know the perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).

 

 

So, if you are a born again Christian, when next you go to the social media or any medium and receive an intimidating or tempting message from Satan’s throne, remember there is an ongoing GAME OF THRONES, and that you belong to, and must retain your position in the wining team. It can take just one second to give up your loyalty to the heavenly throne. Be careful that you do not sell your divine entitlement for the sweet pot of portage that is being shared by the father of all liars.

 

 

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual host of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

 

 

 

 

God’s heavenly throne is, and will forever remain the winning throne in the GAME OF THRONES. Don’t be deceived or lured out of the winning team.

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Perspectives

The yellowness of a fever

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The yellowness of a fever

 

 

T

he colour yellow relates to acquired knowledge. It is the colour which resonates with the left or logic side of the brain stimulating our mental faculties and creating mental agility and perception.  Being the lightest hue of the spectrum, the color psychology of yellow is uplifting and illuminating, offering hope, happiness, cheerfulness and fun.  In the meaning of colors, yellow inspires original thought and inquisitiveness.  But it can be critical and judgmental, being overly analytical, being impatient and impulsive, being egotistical, pessimistic, an inferiority complex, spiteful, cowardly, deceitful and non-emotional.

 

 

When a fever is labeled yellow, it’s devoid of all the bright sides but entirely the negatives. This recent outbreak is linked to the death of four students of the College of Education, Waka-Biu, Borno. They had gone on a field trip to Yankari Game Reserve, in Bauchi State as part of their course work.

 

 

What it is

 

 

Yellow fever (also called Yellow jack, Yellow plague or Bronze john) is a serious, potentially deadly flu-like disease, it is an acute viral haemorrhagic (bleeding) disease (like Ebola and Lassa fever) transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected with the virus when they bite an infected human or monkey. The disease cannot be spread from one person to another. It’s characterized by a high fever and jaundice. Jaundice is yellowing of the skin and eyes, which is why this disease is called yellow fever. This disease is most prevalent in parts of Africa and South America. It is not curable.

 

 

How is it transmitted?

 

 

Yellow fever virus (an RNA virus) is mainly transmitted through the bite of the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, but other mostly Aedes mosquitoes such as the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) can also serve as a vector for this virus. Like other arboviruses which are transmitted by mosquitoes, the yellow fever virus is taken up by a female mosquito when it ingests the blood of an infected human or other primate. Viruses reach the stomach of the mosquito, and if the virus concentration is high enough, the virions (the infective form of a virus) can infect epithelial cells and replicate there. From there, they reach the haemocoel (the blood system of mosquitoes) and from there the salivary glands. When the mosquito next sucks blood, it injects its saliva into the wound, and the virus reaches the bloodstream of the bitten person. The transmission of the yellow fever virus from a female mosquito to her eggs and then larvae, are indicated within A. aegypti.  This infection of vectors without a previous blood meal seems to play a role in single, sudden breakouts of the disease. The disease cannot be spread from one person to another. However, large numbers of cases (epidemics) can also occur in urban areas when a human with yellow fever infects the local Aedes mosquitoes (mainly Aedes aegypti) resulting in transmission from human to human via infected mosquitoes.

 

 

What may give it away

Yellow fever begins after an incubation period of three to six days. Most cases only cause a mild infection with fever, headache, chills, back pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle pain, nausea, and vomiting. In these cases, the infection lasts only three to four days.

 

 

In 15% of cases, however, people enter a second, toxic phase of the disease with recurring fever, this time accompanied by jaundice due to liver damage, as well as abdominal pain. Bleeding in the mouth, the eyes, and the gastrointestinal tract cause vomit containing blood, hence the Spanish name for yellow fever, vómito negro (“black vomit”). There may also be kidney failure, hiccups, and delirium.The toxic phase is fatal in about 20 to 50% of cases, making the overall fatality rate for the disease about 3.0 to 7.5%. However, the fatality rate of those with the toxic phase of the disease may exceed 50%.

 

 

Surviving the infection provides lifelong immunity, and normally no permanent organ damage results.

Laboratory catch

 

 

Yellow fever is most frequently a clinical diagnosis, made on the basis of symptoms and the diseased person’s whereabouts prior to becoming ill. Mild courses of the disease can only be confirmed virologically. Since mild courses of yellow fever can also contribute significantly to regional outbreaks, every suspected case of yellow fever (involving symptoms of fever, pain, nausea and vomiting six to 10 days after leaving the affected area) is treated seriously.

 

 

If yellow fever is suspected, the virus cannot be confirmed until six to 10 days after the illness. A direct confirmation can be obtained by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction where the genome of the virus is amplified. Another direct approach is the isolation of the virus and its growth in cell culture using blood plasma; this can take one to four weeks.

 

 

Serologically, an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) during the acute phase of the disease can confirm yellow fever.

 

 

Treatment

 

 

There’s no cure for yellow fever. Treatment involves managing symptoms (in a hospital setting) and assisting the body (immune system) in fighting off the infection by:

getting oxygen

maintaining a healthy blood pressure

getting blood transfusions if necessary

getting treatment for other infections that may develop

Prevention

Yellow fever is prevented by an extremely effective vaccine, which is safe and affordable. A single dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained immunity and life-long protection against yellow fever disease and a booster dose of the vaccine is not needed. The vaccine provides effective immunity within 30 days for 99% of persons vaccinated. Vector control taking measures to avoid mosquito bites (active in the day) are equally important.

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Perspectives

Judiciary was good in Zamfara but bad in Abuja?

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Judiciary was good in Zamfara but bad in Abuja?

The outcome of judicial pronouncements are usually two sides of the same coin. This, perhaps, explains the praises and criticisms that have trailed the outcome of the tribunal’s judgement that affirmed the election of President Muhammadu Buhari and threw away the petitions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for their inability to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. The onus of proof lies with whoever alleges to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt if the pendulum of justice must swing in his favour, especially in matters that are criminal in nature. Law is what it is and not what it ought to be.

 

As a result, judges are not expected to act like Father Christmas and can only adjudicate based on evidence before them. However, we have seen situations where judges brought opprobrium to themselves by soiling their hands in iniquities. Year 2016 was a very bad year for our judiciary.

 

The judiciary was thoroughly bruised and broken. That arm of government was like a hen with broken beak. In October of that year, the Department of State Security (DSS) in “sting operations” raided the homes of some judges and arrested seven of them including two from the highest court in the country- the Supreme Court. It was unprecedented. During the operations, the DSS claimed it recovered N363 million from houses of three of the judges, a sad reminder of the alarm raised by a former Supreme Court Justice, late Kayode Esho, that there were dirty men and women in the temple of justice. The late justice described them as “millionaire judges.” The raid and its attendant consequences confirmed the suspicion that not all our judges come to equity with clean hands and confirmed the level of rot in the system.

 

While there was argument on the rightness or wrongness of the action of the DSS, there was a consensus that a corruptfree judiciary is a necessary ingredient if our democracy and the rule of law must thrive. There was also a general agreement that judicial rascality and recklessness must be tamed if found as a guarantee that the judiciary remains the last hope of the common man. For those who felt the judiciary should be left alone even if corrupt so as to maintain its independence.

 

Then, I reminded them of the evocative words of late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa that: “If you are a judge and you are corrupt, where do we go from here? Then everything has come to a halt. If the legislature is corrupt, you go to the judiciary for redress.

 

If the executive is corrupt, you go to judiciary for remedy. If the judiciary itself is corrupt, where do we go from here?” Themis, the statue of woman of justice, found in courthouses and some law books, represents the Greek goddess of divine justice. Even those of us who are not “learned” as the lawyers call us, know that the statue has a very deep meaning beyond a mere symbol. The scale on Themis’ left hand symbolises fairness and balance. The black ribbon she is blindfolded with is a constant   reminder to judges that judicial pronouncements should be guided by evidence and law. In other words, judgements and rulings of court should not be determined by mere sentiments. Any court’s pronouncement that is not based on evidence and law is a travesty of justice.

 

However, some of our judges have shamelessly removed Themis’ blindfold so that they can see the faces of litigants and give judgements and rulings based on social and economic status of the parties before them. As a result of which, parties with higher monetary offers sure carry the day in courts. When people lose hope in the judiciary, they will resort to self-help, which can come in the form of people taking laws into their hands.

 

This is not good for the polity. It is an invitation to anarchy when people lose hope in the judiciary to find solace in self-help. Just as there are bad people in the temple of justice, there are also good people in the system.For this reason, it is extremely wrong to make sweeping statements that the entire judiciary is corrupt just because of a few bad eggs.

 

It’s a cause for concern when we bad mouth our judges each time the pendulum of justice does not swing in our favour or the way we expected it to be. While those of us who are not learned could be pardoned when we are aggrieved over courts’ judgements and rulings, how do we explain situations where lawyers who are learned lampoon judges on national television and on the pages of newspapers just because they disagreed with courts’ positions on some matters? This has been the case since the tribunal gave its judgement on Atiku/PDP’s petition. Some of us have gone back to the narrative of how the Buhari administration has ‘caged’ the judiciary.

 

‘The judiciary is now on trial.’ But when the same judiciary made pronouncements that put all elective political offices firmly in the hands of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) just because the All Progressives Congress (APC) did not conduct its primaries according to its own rules in Zamfara, the judiciary was okay and not caged then. Perhaps, the judiciary forgot then that the president belongs to the APC when it gave final verdict on Zamfara that in the eyes of the law, APC had no candidate in the election and could not have won any election as such would amount to building something on nothing. I am a firm and unrepentant believer in the rule of law.

 

This is what informed my position that Atiku should seek redress in court if he feels strongly that he won the February presidential election. I maintained that asking him not to seek redress so as not to heat up the polity is a bunkum talk that won’t fly. My insistence on Atiku to go to court was based on the fact that the outcome, irrespective of whatever it is would strengthen our jurisprudence and in turn help our democracy.

 

 

On Wednesday, the tribunal did affirm that Atiku has the right to petition against Buhari’s victory. The court said it was not a pre-election matter as claimed by the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The court hinged its position on the provisions of the Electoral Act, specifically Section 138 (1) (a), which allows for filing of petition relating to allegation of false information. We may never have known this if Atiku had not gone to court.

 

The same court said the former vicepresident is not a Cameroonian as claimed by the APC and that tradermoni is not for vote-buying. Imagine if the court had said tradermoni is being used to induce voters, of course that would have been the end of the programme until a more superior court pronounced otherwise. More importantly is the aspect of the judgement, which laid to rest the qualification of the president as the court insisted that “there’s no doubt that he (President Buhari) is not only qualified BUT EMINENTLY QUALIFIED (emphasis mine) to contest the election as shown by the EVIDENCE (emphasis mine) presented by the petitioners.

 

 

“No evidence that Buhari submitted false documents to the INEC,” the tribunal declared. We have also known that when criminal allegation is raised against someone or agency, the person or agency must be joined in the suit as failure to do so will negate the principle of fair hearing or akin to shaving someone’s head behind him. The tribunal said the PDP/Atiku should have joined security agents accused of rigging for Buhari if they feel strongly about such weighty allegation. Also of importance is the aspect which says the use of card readers and other electronic devices are valid component of the electoral process but there was ” no provision for electronic transmission of results.” All we need to do is to strengthen the process as such is capable of giving us credible polls in the future.

 

Just like I was happy when Atiku approached the court to register his disatisfaction with the outcome of the presidential election, my mood has not changed when I learnt that he is going to the Supreme Court to upturn Wednesday’s outcome. It is his right to do so. He should not be put under pressure or blackmail to rescind his decision. Whoever asks Atiku not to go to Supreme Court is definitely not a lover of democracy. The fact that that Nigerian court has not upturned presidential election victory does not mean it is impossible to do it. If there is need to do so. But the court won’t do it if it’s not approached by aggrieved party or parties. In everything, there is always the first time. Whatever the outcome is, at the Supreme Court, our jurisprudence and democracy stand to benefit immensely.

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Perspectives

So, how did Osun prepare Rauf Aregbesola for Nigeria’s stability?

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So, how did Osun prepare Rauf Aregbesola for Nigeria’s stability?

Trust Nigerians, hardly had he rounded off his first visit to the Ministry of Interiors than cartoonists, graphic artists went to work. In a jiffy, the tweeting facebooking and instagramming generation had gone to work to serve us different interpretations of what the new Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said shortly after his oath taking. “Interior Ministry for Beginners, Hard Copy, Soft Copy, Digital Editions Available” was one of those satirical pieces that got me laughing. And as usual too, the Nigerian media went out with different headlines: Buhari Has put me in a strange ministry-Aregbesola (Daily Post); “I don’t know Much About Interior Ministry” (PUNCH), “Except for Newspapers, I Have No Knowledge of my New Ministry” (Vanguard).

If you are one of those who had followed Aregbesola and his trajectory, you would have no qualms taking in these variants of interpretations of just one statement. For me, I laughed my head off. Don’t blame me! If I survived Aregbesola with all the possible darts he had received in his capacity as Governor of Osun, I doubt it any such blitz ( no matter how negative) could get my feet off grounds again. Just an example will do. Do you recall the former Governor after his famous interview at the Presidential Villa where he said the salary challenge in Osun was beyond him? Oh! Hell knew no worst media fury ever since.

A harmless opinion, genuine and critical to getting over the bad weather the national economy had run into was twisted to a campaign that Aregbesola must immediately vacate office because, according to the interpretations his critics would want to settle for, he had simply given up and had lost control of how to navigate out of the stormy financial weather in the state.

Such is the way, especially these days of gatekeeper-less media, any word, no matter how harmless, could easily become your greatest undoing by the time it passes through the crucibles of antagonistic wordsmiths. After eight good years, one should know better than being perturbed by the whimsical inclinations of ‘public affairs analysts’ bloggers, and writers who think first of traffic rather than truth. And the truth is that Aregbesola spoke the truth.

But the question here should be: How has Osun prepared Aregbesola for the tasks involved in internal security and other matters so interior to Nigeria? By the time the National Bureau of Statistics rated Osun as the safest state in Nigeria, it was obvious that certain government policies had impacted greatly on the state prompting others to look in the direction of the strategic approaches to solving societal problems. For security challenges, we are all more inclined to think that in guns and deployment of armed personnel to the field lie the solutions to national instability.

The experiment in Osun has proved that some more strategic policy frameworks are needed to create the atmosphere of peace and security required for smooth development to take place across the land. The pre-2010 Osun was fraught with insecurity, youths idleness and above all, despondency.

The ability to identify which segment of the society needed to be taken care of as a matter of priority became critical. Being able to achieve that, it then showed that creating opportunities for such segments such as the youths, the women and children and then the elderly would go far in eliminating elements that induce tension within the society. A scheme that took off 60,000 youths for some community engagements in three batches did more than reduce the lure into crimes in Osun.

The overall effects of re-orientations, value regenerations, skills acquisitions, realization of selfworth and potential were far more than token in effect on the psyche of the people. In addition to this were those specific programmes that engaged women such as the school-feeding programme for which women food vendors spread across the local governments were taken away from idleness.A number of Nigeria’s internal security challenges stem from vanishing values and good orientations.

Specifically, leadership programmes of the yore, which formed and baked future leaders from teen stages of their lives were practically lost. Characters became less important in dealings, culminating in criminal activities such as robberies, murders, suicides, rapes, advanced fee frauds, rituals, smugglings, bunkering, arsons and their ilk. And with those listed above, the challenges increase for the authorities to provide for internal security, which is threatened to the detriment of the law-abiding citizenry.

The society itself needs some review of its past with a view to bringing back some of the value-adding practices of old. A look at how leadership training strategies of the decades before now prepared citizens to be of good behaviours should give Nigeria the initiative that it is not only when security personnel are armed to their teeth that the people can sleep with their eyes full closed. Osun knew peace. Younger generation of the citizens in the state came under some new forms of re-orientations helping to produce the new man.

Apart from producing job opportunities, the Osun youths empowerment scheme reawakened the need for social responsibility. And in the same way, programmes such as calisthenics for younger minds willy-nilly, taught younger generation of Osun residents the beauty of collaboration, focus, concentration, commitment and dedication.

Were all these not to be missing in Nigeria’s national life, the issues that challenge us all today over internal security as listed above would have been halted at their manageable proportions. To sum it up, value re-orientation is pivotal to a new society where there is order and less criminality. Agencies such as the one for National Orientation, Ministry of Youths and Sports Development stand in very critical and good steads to help the Ministry of the Interiors step up engaging and positive youths activities to lure them away from crimes and other anti-social behaviours.

Even to be sure that no soul lived in Osun without being captured in the data base of the state, Aregbesola’s introduction of the Kaadi Omoluabi, a mode of identification for all in Osun with specific features went a long way to add to the overall task of securing the state.

Those saddled with leadership responsibilities must spot where the strengths lie in human capital resources. Of course, failure to do this has always in the past resulted in poor service delivery to the people. But where this is done, the people are always at the benefitting end. Aregbesola no doubt, left the workers in Osun with a lasting impression that a political office holder came and demonstrated an unrivaled penchant for spotting the best within the bureaucracy; motivating them to bring out the potential in them.

Even before Osun, it is on record that while Engr. Ganiyu Johnson served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure in Lagos State, it took Aregbesola’s eagle eye to spot Johnson’s competence, prompting him to ensure that rather than quit after his civil service years, he was headhunted to become a Special Adviser in the same ministry. Johnson later served as the Commissioner for Works in the state.

The current Senator representing Osun West district, Adelere Oriolowo, was Permanent Secretary, Rural Development before his retirement. Convinced of his vast experience in engineering and project management, Aregbesola did not hesitate to pull him back to serve as Project Coordinator for the Osun Rural Accessibility Mobility Programme (RAMP) a World Bank-funded development programme. In the same vein, at least, two permanent secretaries who had attained the peaks of their civil service careers – Fatai Kolawole and Lawrence Oyediran in the Ministry of Education were not allowed to go. While Kolawole was pulled back to head the State’s Universal Basic Education Board, Oyediran was pulled back to work at the State’s Education Quality Assurances Agency, an office created by his government specifically to monitor quality teachings and learning in the state’s public schools.

Whatever made Osun’s statistics to be such enviable in spite of the enormous financial challenges that administration faced must provide guides towards solving some of the national questions. Nigeria must rework her education policies such that the products are people who become assets, and not burdens to the society. It is only when peace is guaranteed internally through the combined strategies of the right value orientation, addition and focused social protection schemes that the economic potential of the country could be harnessed for the good of all.

 

Semiu Okanlawon, Communication and Strategy Consultant writes via sokanlawon67@gmail.com

 

 

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What exactly is the problem, South Africans?

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What exactly is the problem, South Africans?

Ask me which country is an ingrate; I will readily point to South Africa. Ask me which country lacks a modicum sense of history; South Africa will again fit the description. How can South Africans forget so soon the pivotal role played by Nigeria at a time when black skin was subjected to hatred, discrimination and even death when their country was enmeshed in apartheid? This is the thinking of average Nigerians, particularly those who remember the roles played by Nigeria when South Africa was an enclave of apartheid.

Surprisingly, old adversaries are now treated as beautiful brides and old friends are now treated with disdain and belligerence. If South African youths don’t have sense of history, have their elders who saw it all also lost their memories so soon that they cannot call their recalcitrant youths to order that biting the fingers that fed in your darkest hour is the worst kind of ingratitude? The recent xenophobic attacks whereby brutish South African youths who unleashed mayhem on Nigerians and other black Africans after the one that happened 2015, have shown that they harbour deep hatred and animosity towards Nigerians and will release their pent-up emotion at the slightest opportunity.

From 1960 to 1995, Nigeria spent billions of dollars to support the blacks who were strangers in their own land. The South African Institute of International Affairs at a time acknowledged that Nigeria was the highest donor to the anti-apartheid struggle.

It was as if Nigeria was waiting for its independence as the country immediately spearheaded the campaign to end apartheid just after October 1, 1960. At every given opportunity, Nigeria never hesitated to register its displeasure that apartheid was inhuman and degrading. It took risks and was dauntless in the face of backings given by the superpowers which endorsed apartheid and promoted minority whites against the majority blacks. On Apr 4, 1961, Nigeria under the leadership of the late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, wrote a letter to the African National Congress (ANC) assuring the then foremost anti-apartheid group of Nigeria’s unwavering support.

The ANC was an orphan ostracized and despised by the western world but encouraged by Nigeria and a few other African countries. For those who have a sense of history, they will understand the disappointment of former president Olusegun Obasanjo who in 2017 blamed the South African government for the bestiality of its youths who take delight in killing and maiming fellow Africans. Under ex-president Obasanjo as a military ruler, Nigeria contributed $3.7 million to the Southern Africa Relief Fund (SARF), which it established in 1976 basically to give support to black South Africans and promote their general wellbeing. Besides, the former president made a personal donation of $3,000.

Each member of his cabinet contributed $1,500 while all the civil servants and public officers in Nigeria donated two per cent of their monthly salary to the fund and Nigerian students skipped meals to contribute to the fund because they were determined to free South Africa from the white predators.

By June 1977, the fund better known by the sobriquet “Mandela tax” had reached $10.5 million. The will to contribute to the fund was a direct response to the 1976 Soweto uprising against apartheid in South Africa in which at least 700 black students were felled by callous white policemen who shot them during a protest against the changing of their education language to Afrikaans. Late Nigerian music icon, Sunny Okosuns, released a hit song, ‘Fire in Soweto’, a lyrical detail, on the massacre of the students described as one of the crudest and saddest chapters of the apartheid era.

The fund paved the way for the first set of 86 South African students to arrive in Nigeria in 1976 following the disruption of the education system in South Africa then. Hundreds of students also came into Nigeria to enjoy free education financed with the fund. Many others were welcomed here including the likes of former president Thabo Mbeki, who lived in Nigeria for seven years, from 1977 to 1984. At a time when the only thing that made apartheid government to seize the passports of over 300 blacks, was just the colour of their skin, Nigeria again came to their rescue by providing passports for hundreds of black South Africans to travel abroad.

It was also under the late Gen. Murtala Mohammed-Obasanjo regime that Nigeria nationalised British Petroleum and renamed it African Petroleum (AP) for supplying oil to the then South Africa’s apartheid regime. How can South Africa forget so soon how Nigeria spearheaded the boycott of the 1978 Commonwealth Games in protest against New Zealand over its sporting contact with the apartheid regime and in 1986, Before then, Nigeria, under Obasanjo, recalled its athletes from the Montreal Games, Canada,in 1976 because New Zealand maintained sporting contact with South Africa, and had undertaken a Rugby tour of the country just before the games. How about the secret military training and support that Nigeria’s Kaduna First Mechanised Army Division provided for the military wing of the ANC? Nigeria, with the support of other African countries, also lobbied for the creation of the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid and chaired it for over 30 years, doing all it just to end apartheid.

The list is endless. But it seems all these efforts no longer matter to the South Africans. The argument that the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africans are being carried out by a few may not really fly as there are no genuine and sincere efforts by the government to stop the perennial problem, which started in 2015, recurred in 2017 and now in 2019.

There were even cases where police were part of the conspiracy against the Africans by these unruly South African youths. Agreed that there are criminals among Nigerians living in South Africa, using crude and extra-judicial methods to deal with the situation cannot be an option in such a situation.

The average South African will rather give a clap to a Briton despite the atrocities Britain committed and the support it gave the minority white rulers while apartheid lasted even if such Briton committed a grevious crime in today’s South Africa. If there are evidences that Americans committed infractions in South Africa, would South Africans use jungle justice to deal with the Americans? Of course they won’t because they know how American government will react to such.

My assertion will be buttressed by a story told by a colleague, which was related to him by his friend. A Nigerian lady was in a queue at a supermarket in South Africa and when it was her turn to make payment for her purchase, the cashier, a black female South African, beckoned on a white man who was directly behind the Nigerian lady to jump the queue. Perhaps, what qualified the white to jump the queue was just the colour of his skin, a vestige of colonialism.

Of course, the Nigerian resisted the discrimination and stood her ground that it was her turn. Her resistance attracted a deafening silence at the supermarket, according to the story. A black who did that to a fellow black will jump at any opportunity to attack a fellow black. Unfortunately, the majority of Nigerians in South Africa or outside the shores of Nigeria will rather endure whatever insult comes their way even at the risk of their lives.

To such Nigerians, it is better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. They prefer to die in South Africa where basic amenities are available compared to their Nigeria where such amenities are a luxury. To such Nigerians and truly to a large extent there are no facilities at home, an attestation to the persistent failure on the part of successive Nigerian governments. I won’t be surprised if many Nigerians decline to board the plane sent to pick those who want to return home from South Africa on account of nothing to attract them home in terms of basic amenities. The dust of the on ongoing xenophobic attacks will settle albeit temporarily. The dog will always go back to its vomit.

The South Africans carry in their hearts a deep animosity, hatred and jealousy. They are only interested in looking for whom to blame for their ineptitude and mental laziness to work. In order to proffer a final solution to this recurring problem, we need to find out why black South Africans hate fellow black Africans. How sensitive are the foreigners to the plight of South Africans? A friend who is married to a German and lives in Germany once told me about how African migrants in Germany are attracting hatred and opprobrium on account of their ostentatious lifestyle, which they rubbed in on the indigenes. She said once the refugees get their allowances they go on shopping spree buying luxury items, which the indigenes cannot afford to buy and pay for the items at a go.

She said some Germans begin to develop hatred for such refugees wondering why the German government is giving them ‘so much support beyond what they need. We need to know exactly the grievances of black South Africans. However, there can’t be justification for the perennial xenophobic attacks and killings of Nigerians and other Africans just as it will amount to self-deceit that some Nigerians are not into crimes in South Africa just the way we have many Nigerians doing great and legitimate things there. Pretending that some Nigerians are not living large on crimes is like begging the issue. The Ozubulu killing was an eye opener to what some Nigerians do in South Africa.

No country will close its eyes to such nauseating occurrence. After these attacks, it is a matter of time before they will rise up again against their fellow Africans because there won’t be final solution until we know what exactly is the problem..

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The disease burden on the naira; N100 denomination as the most debased!

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The disease burden on the naira; N100 denomination as the most debased!

The CBN recently requested the general public to return mutilated naira notes to their banks. This is a vindication of the position of my humble self having twice highlighted the sorry state of the medium of exchange via this platform.

 

Scene 1

bus conductor calls out to passengers with a hemp/ethanol distorted voice at Iponri bus stop, Surulere, Lagos.

“Leventis, CMS! Leventis, CMS!!

As he does this aggressively, a discharge flew out from one of the nostrils!

Right there, he wiped the mucus with one hand and in turn wiped the implicated hand with a stinking N 100 naira note!!

Scene 2: A street hawker ran along to catch up with a potential patron in a yellow bus “ danfo” around Apogbon bridge

As she ran, she coughed at the same time. Unable to catch up, she gave up and coughed repeatedly, holding a naira note to her mouth!

Lamentations of the Naira

1. Fresh from the Mint I came,

     Embraced like a newborn,

     Smiles heralded my Coming,

     I am the Naira.

2. Found my way to a Castle,

Handled with care I was,

Neatly arranged in a wallet,

With Confidence I stroll.

3. The trader went in a bus,

Out he gave me to the bus man,

Breathless I in his stinking pocket,

Somebody help me!

4. Nature called,

To a corner the Conductor ran,

Assaulted me with befouled hands,

I’m still…….the………Naira

5. The hawker through me aground,

In the sputum laced mud I swam,

The filth turned my regalia,

Am I still the Naira?

Definition: 

The Naira is a medium of exchange for goods and services in Nigeria.

Re -Definition: The Naira is a medium of exchange for opportunistic pathogens, viruses, fungi/ fungal infections and parasites in Nigeria!

A Naira note could carry more germs than an average toilet seat!

Studies in Nigeria have shown that Currency counting machines yielded six different bacterial species (Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus sp, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus sp, Enterococcus sp and Proteus sp) and four genera of fungi (Aspergillus sp, Mucor sp, Rhizopus sp. and Penicillium sp (Elumalai et al 2015)

Why Is Naira (Paper bills) a Reservoir of Infection?

It offers a large surface area for organisms and organic debris to collect.

Folds and/or deliberate depressions or projections specifically engineered into the bills’ design as anti-counterfeiting measure serve as settling sites for both organisms and debris which allow the microorganisms to live longer (Nepal Journal of Sc/Tech, 8; 161-166).

Bank notes weave their way through the population for many years before they come to rest.

The level of contamination depends on how long the notes have been in circulation and the place & activity the previous handler was involved in.

Listed below are some pathogens found in Bank notes

Staphylococcus spp:

The main species of medical importance is Staph. aureus.

Staph aureus

This species causes:

Abscesses, boils, styes, and impetigo

Conjunctivitis, especially of the new born.

Cross infections in hospitals.

Septicaemia, endocarditis, and osteomyelitis.

Pneumonia and empyema.

Mastitis.

Antibiotic associated enteritis.

Food poisoning from enterotoxin B produced by S. aureus in foods such as cooked meats and milk and milk- products (e.g.ice cream).

Scalded skin syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome 

Bacillus spp

Bacillus cereus cause:

Food-poisoning

Occasionally pneumonia, bronchopneumonia, and infection of wounds.

Endocarditis

Meningitis

Streptococcus pneumoniae

Streptococcus pneumoniae causes:

Lobar pneumonia, bronchopneumonia, and bronchitis.

Meningitis

Endocarditis and pericarditis.

Middle ear infection, sinusitis, and conjunctivitis

Shigella spp:

Shigella species are found only in the human intestinal tract

Shigella species cause bacillary dysentery in humans

Escherichia coli:    

E.coli causes:

Urinary tract infections including cystitis, pyelitis, and pyelonephritis.

E. coli is the commonest pathogen isolated from patients with urinary infection involving the bladder.

Wound infections, appendicitis, and peritonitis.

Infection of the gall bladder, bacteraemia, and meningitis especially of the new born.

Diarrhoeal disease especially in infants but also in adults.

Vibrio spp:

Vibrio cholerae causes cholera in humans

Vibrio parahaemolyticus causes food poisoning.

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Marriage in The GAME OF THRONES (Part 1)

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Marriage in The GAME OF THRONES (Part 1)

The word ‘Throne’ is “a special chair used by a ruler, especially a king or queen.” It is equally “the state of being a ruler.” The GAME OF THRONES started a long time ago. At the inception, “there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels. And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven, And the great dragon was cast out; that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the account of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore, rejoice ye heavens and ye that dwell in them.

Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelations 12:7-12). The rebellion of Satan and his being chased away to have his throne was reflected also in Isaiah 14:12-15. “How you are fallen from Heaven O Lucifer, son of the morning. How you are cut down to the ground. You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into Heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation. On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds.

I will be like the Most High. Yet, you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the pit.” There is no throne without a king and every king protects his territory and contends consistently to ensure that none of his subjects are lost to another kingdom or king of another throne.

“A large population is a king’s glory” (Proverbs 14:28). So, the GAME OF THRONES in this world today is a battle of loyalty to either of the two controlling supernatural thrones- The throne of God Almighty and the throne of Satan, the devil. Unfortunately, one of these two thrones is headed by a liar, who presents photocopy as original, lies as truth, make-beliefs as reality, and so on (John 8:44). What is the occupation of this throne’s occupant? “The thief cometh not but to steal, kill and destroy…” (John 10:10).

His objective is to ensure that every loyalist to the heavenly throne denounces that loyalty, leaves the heavenly team with marvelous light and joins the loyalists of his kingdom of darkness. Satan’s presentations are easier to believe and he always has a gullible noisy crowd (Exodus 23:2). He is behind the evils that occur in the world today. He is where love for God waxes cold. He is responsible for broken homes, marriages and increased irresponsible acts of a husband or wife. Most visible occurrences today don’t happen by mistake.

They are controlled by either of the two spiritual powers. Now, the agents of the father of liars are likely to challenge this position or write-up by asking me why I should blame the devil for unsolicited problems. If you are one of them, you are also a victim of his captivity. Those who fight against devil’s enemies are loyal to the devil’s throne but fail to realize that there is a GAME OF THRONES going on. They have been hypnotized into slavery to the devil, who they think is winning this game and therefore, should be followed as “majority opinion looks like God’s opinion.” Jesus says: “verily verily I say unto you. Whosoever committed sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34-35).

I define the word ‘TRUTH’ as “the root of every fruit.” Devilish and ungodly acts are motivated by the devil. “By their fruits, ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:16). Your refusal to accept Biblical truth is an expression of Satan’s captivity. So, those who claim to be atheists and naturalists are Satan’s blind captives who actually deserve pity and need deliverance. Unfortunately, rather than contend for loyalty to the heavenly throne they ought to defend, many ignorant church goers and religious propagators betray the master they profess by joining those of the Satanic Throne to castigate God’s loyalists. It is not their fault. They don’t know about the ongoing GAME OF THRONES.

Please, understand that it is Satan that tells you to hearken to your ungodly friends and restrict your love for your spouse. It is Satan that tells you to dupe or deceive your spouse. It is Satan that tells you to betray or kill your spouse. He is the one that tells you to go enjoy sex outside marriage.

He is responsible for the sudden disdain you have developed for your spouse after loving him or her for some time. “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtility, so your mind should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2nd Corinthians 11:2-4). To find joy or peace in your premarital or marital relationship, you must refuse to for any reason, deny your loyalty to God’s heavenly throne. When you do this, your marriage shall be a blessing and a testimony in Jesus name.

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100 days of achievements: Abiodun redefines governance in Ogun

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100 days of achievements: Abiodun redefines governance in Ogun

It is now a convention in Nigeria’s evolving democracy for new government at all levels to celebrate 100 days in office. Ogun State is not an exception. In a few days’ time, precisely on September 6, the new administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun will perform the ritual ceremony of taking stock of its achievements. Coming at a time when the economy of the country is on a downward trend, the government has no doubt had its own share of the financial challenge.

But learning from elementary economic theory of scarcity, the governor has been able to strike a balance between the competing needs of the people and the available resources at his disposal. Despite the myraid of problems inherited from the immediate past administration, it is the resolve and commitment of the new APC-led administration to ensure that existing projects do not suffer neglect, regardless of who takes the credit.

In addressing the problems, the administration has come to terms with intents to ensure that abandoning such inherited decay in infrastructure would amount to waste of the meagre resources and management of the tax payers’ money. And in tandem with the philosophy of the new administration, it is poised to maintaining and upgrading the existing infrastructure.

While lending credence to the commitment of the administration, Abiodun, at a recent “Governor’s Dialogue with the Business Executives”, underscored the importance of the enablers and pillars that, existing infrastructure should not be made to suffer neglect, especially when it was discovered that most of them, like roads, health and school facilities, among others, were in bad shape.

At the back of the mind, with the mantra, “Building our future together”, and with a clear vision predicated on commitment to service, the focus of the administration encapsulates both the enablers and pillars respectfully.

They are good governance, security, ICT/Digital transformation, enabling business environment, agriculture and food security, health, education, power, housing, sports development, road infrastructure and environmental and physical planning, among others. All these are driving forces for effective, efficient and smooth service delivery. At a maiden parley with both the civil and public servants held at the Arcade Ground, shortly after his assumption of office as the fifth democratically elected governor of the state, Abiodun, who in his inauguration speech underscored the importance of the state workers as the prime resource, pledged that his administration would make do with available resources at the disposal of the state to be fair, open, just and equitable to all the workers and pensioners.

True to type, he has inaugurated a “committee on the review of appointments and promotions in the state civil service and enterprises between February 1 and May 20, 2019, a development which is aimed at repositioning both the civil and public service for effective and efficient service delivery. The Committee is chaired by Mr Dipo Odulate, erstwhile Head of Service (HoS) in the state.

Having been inundated with a torrent of requests, ranging from regular payment of salaries and leave bonuses, defrayment of the outstanding deductions, a total halt to partial and selective promotion exercises among the cadres, to regularisation of the dichotomy between HND and Bachelor degree holders, among others, the governor animated the day when he promised to live up to expectations with the regular payment of salaries.

“As parts of my social contract between me and the workers, whether the Federal Allocation Account (FAAC) or the Joint Allocation Account (JAAC) comes or not, we are going to ensure that your salaries are paid regularly on/or before the last working day of the month”, said the governor. To date, N4.8 billion pension arrears have been paid, while workers have equally enjoyed the same treatment of regular payment of their salaries.

The new administration has also offset salary arrears, remitted deductions to the Pension Funds Adminis-trators (PFA). In line with its commitment to prudence and frugality, the new administration has also blocked all leakages. In addition, in the health sector, the governor has approved the immediate recruitment of all categories and cadres of healthcare professionals, including resident doctors, nurses, pharmacists among others; rehabilitation of the State Hospital, Ilaro, Yewa South Local Government; free medical outreach at Ilishan-Remo, in Ikenne Local Government, while in terms of the social welfare, 1,000 widows have been empowered by the First Lady, Mrs Bamidele Abiodun and the launch of “Ok’Owo Dapo” loan empowerment programme for market women.

Knowing the importance of security as an enabler for safety of lives and property, the government recently launched the State Security Trust Fund as a clear demonstration of its commitment to ensuring that the people have a good life and pursue their legitimate businesses in a secured environment. Essentially, the aim of the Fund, according to the governor, is to have a private sector-driven programme that would support the state government in addressing various security challenges facing the state.

The Fund has Mr Bolaji Balogun, an investment banker and Managing Director, First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Plc, as chairman, while Mr Yomi Agbaje would serve as Executive Secretary (ES) of the Fund. To this end, the administration has procured 1,000 patrol vehicles and 200 motorcycles for the police and other sister agencies; sourcing of helicopter from the Presidency for aerial surveillance; and the signing of the State Security Trust Fund bill into law and Board Inauguration.

In the area of investments, the governor has established the Investment Promotion Agency (IPA)/Ogun Investment Bill; Executive Order for the establishment of Ogun State Enabling Business Environment Council; Executive Order for the establishment of the Enterprise Development Agency (EDA); and the Executive Order for the Ogun State Economic Transformation.

Not left out, in the financial transparency, accountability, due process, efficiency and cost management, the new administration is placing premium on a Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEM); Executive Order for the establishment of the fiscal responsibility Commission; Prudential financial management of the state resources; efficient allocation of the public expenditure, revenue and debt management; long-term economic stability of the state; Public-Private Partnership Bill; Staff Biometrics and payroll audit; implementation of the Treasury management solution for single review and efficiency in treasury and payment processing; financial sustainability assessment; and the establishment of the Bureau of Public Procurement Council. On the incomes that are accruing into the coffers of the state, the administration is deft in introducing reforms in the Ogun State Internal Revenue Service (OGIRS), automation and transformation; and informal sector enumeration and Residents registration. Employment opportunities and your empowerment programmes are key to sustaining economic growth and development.

The administration has established and launched a job portal; Ogun tech hub; and Agriculture Anchor Borrowers’ programme. By and large, as a pillar for driving economic growth and development, the administration is equally poised to ensure that all critical inter-state roads are fixed.

Hence, the government, through the Public Works Agency (PWA) has begun the immediate rehabilitation of the following abandoned road projects, Oru/Iperu, 4.5 kilometre Ijebu-Mushin/Ikija, 3.7 Kilometre Ogbogbo/Igbeba, 1.4 kilometre Balogun Kuku/Aje-Alapo, 7.65 Kilometre Ejirin/Imowo/Oluwalogbon, Ijebu-Ode/ Idowa/Ibefun/Itoikin, Sango/Abeokuta dual carriage ways, 32 Kilometre Sango/ Akute/Ajuwon/Ojodu-Abiodun, Osi/ Ita/Awolowo/Navy/AIT/Kola and a host of others. Others include the construction of Opako bridge at Adigbe, Abeokuta, culverts and gutters in certain parts of the ancient Ijebu-Ode community ravaged by the recent flood disaster.

Through a joint collaborative effort, Ogun and Lagos State Governors, Abiodun and Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have received the blessing of the Presidency to undertake rehabilitation of the Lagos/ Sango/Abeokuta dual carriage ways (undertaken, but abandoned in 2001) and Sagamu/Ogijo/Ikorodu road to serve as alternative routes and also ease the traffic congestions often occasioned along Lagos/ Ibadan expressway. In the education sector, primary schools located in each of 236 ward wards have undergone rehabilitation to enhance conducive learning environment for the pupils.

The governor has also restored normalcy in the protracted crisis that engulfed the state-owned Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Ojere, Abeokuta. For well over two years, the institution has been enmeshed in crisis over the attempt by Amosun to convert the institution into a University status and the subsequent relocation of the students to Ipokia.

The same feat is equally being replicated in the state-owned Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE), Omu-Ijebu, where a committee has been inaugurated to beam searchlight into the crisis rocking the institution. Also, as the wise saying goes, “health is wealth”, rehabilitation works have commenced in earnest in each of the primary healthcare centres that are spread across the 236 wards in the state.

Equally, the governor who shortly after, upon assumption of office, precisely on June 9, 2019, paid an unscheduled visit to the state-owned Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, to assess the deplorable conditions of the structural and obsolete equipment decay, had set up an administrative panel headed by Dr Yemi Onabowale, Chief Medical Director (CMD), Reddington Hospital, Lagos, to look into the numerous challenges facing the institution.

Consequently, the panel had submitted its report of recommendations to the governor on Thursday, September 5. In order to empower the youths through job creation, the government has opened a portal to help prospective applicants seeking employments, be it in the formal or informal sector of the economy.

Essentially, the rationale behind the scheme is to take stock of the data base of the unemployed youths in the state and to also afford them an opportunity to load vacancies free of charge. So far, no fewer than 75,000 prospective applicants have registered through the job portal. Also, no fewer than 100 companies domiciled in the state have resorted to the job portal to out-source for qualified unemployed young applicants to fill in vacant posts in their respective organisations.

Pursuance to its agricultural revolution, the state government through the “Ogun State Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme” the government has inaugurated a committee-led by Prof Peter Okunneye to oversee a programme designed to enhance self-sufficiency in food security, employment generation and poverty alleviation.

The primary target of the scheme is to produce enough food to attain self-sufficiency both in the short and long-term. The governor, Abiodun, noted that 10,000 farmers would benefit from the initial pilot scheme for the first one year, translating into having 40,000 beneficiaries in the four years tenure.

To serve as an incentive, each beneficiary will be alloted an hectare of farmland for a value chain of rice, cassava and maize and also placed on a regular upkeep allowance till the first harvest season. Other incentives, include the free provision of seedlings for the planting season and off-takers for the farm produce. According to Abiodun, at an official flag-off ceremony of the “FADAMA Graduate Unemployed Youths Scheme”, also known as “FADAMA Guys”, the 200 beneficiaries were offered automatic slots, thus, making the first set of the farmers to benefit from the grants from the Ogun State Anchor Borrowers’ programme.

Thus, the window of opportunity affords prospective applicants easy access to the scheme, while logging on into the “Ogun State job portal” for applying. However, in a bid to instill confidence and accord due respect to the traditional institution, the governor, on June 17, 2019, set up a “Chieftaincy Review Committee” led by Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, the Olu of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland. After eight weeks of its submission term, the committee made recommendations for the reversal of the last minute appointments of well over 75 Baales who were elevated as Coronet Kings by Senator Ibikunle Amosun, at the tail end of his administration.

“We used to be first over the years, but soon afterwards, the traditional institution nosedived. We lost respect and dignity as a result of the politicisation of the traditional institution by political interference by political leaders. History is replayed there that bastardized the institution.

I will not mention names and those that decided to descend on the traditional rulers are either alive or dead. I want to admonish political leaders to leave the traditional rulers out of politics”, declared Oba Olugbenle. Of course, the race is not for the swift, but the monumental development and growth recorded in the last 100 days can’t be over-emphasised, as it is a clear testimony of the determination of the current administration to improve the lots of the people of the state with its welfarist programmes.

 

Ogbonnikan is Media Consultant to the Ogun State Governor, Prince (Dr) Dapo Abiodun, MFR.

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Digging deep to catch ‘bad boys’

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Digging deep to catch ‘bad boys’

Last week, the United States once again showed us (Nigeria) that when it comes to tackling crime, we still have a long way to go, when they went public with the fact that they had just snared a massive fraud syndicate involving about 80 of our citizens. A 252-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Thursday (August 23) named 80 defendants charged with defrauding victims of up to $10 million in one of the “largest cases of its kind in US history.”

 

The fraudsters used a variety of cyber fraud methods to attempt to steal $40 million in total from victims in 10 countries as well as the US. While 14 arrests have been made on American soil, the US’ lead agency in fighting national crime, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is hoping that her sister agencies (in this case Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other Nigerian security agencies) will corporate and help apprehend those that are in the West African country. US District Attorney, Nicola Hanna, who spoke at the press briefing, said the US will seek to extradite indicted defendants believed to be in Nigeria. The defendants face charges ranging from money laundering to identity theft and will likely face “decades in federal prisons” if convicted. Hanna mentioned that 57 individuals are also under indictment in the case.

 

The unsealed indictment showed the evolving tactics of online fraudsters, which has seen them continue to dupe unwitting victims despite numerous awareness campaigns about the online scams. In the past, internet scams associated with Nigerians (known locally as “Yahoo Boys”) were dominated by romance scams through dating sites as well as phony email business propositions from infamous “Nigerian princes,” but their current tactics appear to have changed. How the fraudsters operated was explained at a press briefing by Paul Delacourt, FBI Assistant Director in Charge of   the Case, who said as part of the scam, fraudsters learn about key personnel in companies who are responsible for the payments as well as the protocols necessary to perform wire transfers in various companies, and then target businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments.

 

 

The scams have become so rampant that in the first seven months of 2019 alone, the FBI received nearly 14,000 complaints reporting BEC scams (Business email compromise attacks) with a total loss of around $1.1 billion—a figure that nearly matches losses reported for all of 2018. In another recent high profile case, following a 13-month long investigation, the FBI arrested another Nigerian, Obinwanne Okeke in an $11 million BEC fraud case.

 

Before his arrest, Okeke had posed as a successful entrepreneur and was featured on a Forbes 30-under-30 list as well a BBC Focus on Africa program. However, for me one of the highlights of the briefing by Hanna was the fact that they (US agencies) had quietly started to investigate the matter as far back as 2016 and so by the time they started to round up their suspects they had virtually iron-clad cases against them. Although I will not boast to being an expert in these matters, but from what I have gleamed from watching movies and reading widely, the FBI would have done wiretaps on the suspects’ phones, checked their internet activities, have photographs of them going into banks and possibly ATM’s withdrawing money from their illicit dealings and in short make sure that they have covered every angle in generating the necessary evidence to build a solid case against those they have charged.

 

Before this latest expose, another even more daring operation had been carried out by a US agency determined to rid the nation of bad eggs, when the IRS, the United States Customs Service (now part of the Department of Homeland Security) and the Drug Enforcement Agency combined to infiltrate Pablo Escobar’s Colombian drug cartel. Escobar, who is now late, was then the world’s biggest drug dealer and the US was determined to take him down.

 

And so federal agent, Robert Mazur, pulled off one of the biggest undercover operations of all time for two years in the mid-1980s by pretending to be Robert Musella, a moneylaundering, mob-connected businessman from New Jersey and getting into the inner sanctum of Escobar’s drug cartel. He created an entire life and career as Musella, working at a mortgage-broker business that was based in Florida but had a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

 

He would entertain his “clients” (drug traffickers and corrupt bankers) at the most exclusive restaurants and clubs around the world and lavish them with other perks that came with the territory. He would even fly his clients up to New York on the company jet and take them right onto the floor of the stock exchange.

 

 

“It was pretty eye-popping for people in the financial underworld to be with somebody who could take them right onto the floor of the [stock] exchange,” Mazur explained. As an undercover agent, Mazur learned early on that the way to catch these guys was to follow the money — not the drugs. In fact, the operation was dubbed “CChase” — as in currency chase. Although in the end the operation did not finally snare Escobar, there were more than 3,100 pounds of cocaine seized and more than $600 million in fines and forfeitures as a result of this operation.

 

And BCCI, which was the seventh largest privately held bank in the world at that time, ultimately collapsed. So it is clear that if we really need to get a lid on insecurity which is spiralling out of control, there must be a concerted effort by security and law enforcement agencies to step up their intelligence gathering capabilities and the major way this can be done is by infiltrating the various criminal gangs dotted across the country.

 

And from the two examples mentioned above, this will not come cheap as there will be need to spend money in convincing the ‘bad guys’ that the person they are dealing with is actually crooked like they are. But if they are able to pull it off, it will reveal valuable information which can then be used to round them and disrupt their nefarious activities. Thus government should back them up with the required resources in able to carry such actions out.

 

Also our security outfits should also not be shy in seeking external assistance when need be as the FBI operation showed that crime is now global. It is, however, nice to hear that collaboration between the FBI and our Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has led to the recovery of large sums of money (both local and foreign currencies) and the arrest of over 200 people. But such international synergy needs to be extended to the other outfits including the military, which still has its hands full trying to degrade Boko Haram. For at the end of the day, Nigerians do not care who did what, but that they can carry out their normal lives in peace and tranquillity.

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