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GLOBALISED TERRORISM: A FOOD FOR THOUGHT

CAVEAT: I wrote this article 15 years ago, just after Al-Qaeda’s attack on Pentagon and World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. I was in my sophomore then and a novice in the art of writing.

The avalanche of terrorist activities, leaving sorrow, tears and death in thousands, is worth worrying about. From Europe to Asia, America to Africa, and sweeping through Australia – it has been globalised, with deaths and colossal tragedies in its wake. War experts predicted after the World War II that it was only another war of such magnitude that could truncate world peace. How wrong they were? Terrorist activities of today not only denied the whole humanity the said peace but have also succeeded in eluding individuals the much needed security. Public places such as hotels, cinemas, offices, homes and even churches and mosques are not spared. Where then can one be assure of security?

 Until recent past, many people were not familiar with the now dreaded word ‘Terrorism’. Not that it is a newly coined but because it is not among the familiar household words. Ironically, however, this hitherto obscure word has metamorphosed to gain importance and popularity not only in the literate circles but also among the illiterates alike. In fact, it is now been erroneously used in homes and particularly in higher institutions of learning: it is either a husband is terrorizing his wife or student cultists terrorizing fellow students or male teachers/lecturers terrorising female students, and vice versa.

 To cut-off the fanfare, the exhumation of the word ‘Terrorism’ emanated from the condemned Al-Qaeda Networks (a terrorist outfit under the tutelage of the accursed Osama Bin Laden) attack on World Trade Centre and Pentagon building (America Military Stronghold) on September 11 2001. Though this is not the first attack to be carried out by Bin Laden led terrorist formation, the totality of the havoc not only brought to the fore the man’s inhumanity to man but also shows how useless and ineffective man-made security could be. Because, that America –the acclaimed world power– could easily fall prey and be crushed by some bunch of shallow and insane criminals is not only unbelievable but also astonishing.

 Not that Osama’s criminal organization deserves commendation but because America who, according to the United Nations Organization (UN) believed to be acquiring, manufacturing and owned 34% of world’s ammunition could be so death a crushing blow by certain individuals is a food for thought.

 The one million question people are now asking is: when and who actually started terrorist activity?

 Well, the answer is not far-fetched. Terrorism is as old as humanity itself. It would have been more explicit if incidents in the Holy Bible and Holy Quran is cited but in other to avoid religious impasse that might resulted from such retrospection, attempt at unravelling the mystery surrounding terrorist activities will be confined only to happenings as from the 20th century.

 It is pertinent to clarify here that this essay is in no way an effort in defence of terrorism nor aimed at supporting any country or religion. Rather, the objective is to make use of both critical and logical analysis at unravelling the cause(s) of the now rampant terrorist activities and their formations that is becoming globalised.

 Since there is hardly the mentioning of terrorism without America’s name been dragged into it, it will not be a waste of effort if America’s solo efforts at crushing Osama’s Al-Qaeda Networks and its allies is scrutinized. The one question in this regard, which a novice in world politics may not easily find clue to is: is America not taking too much? For me the answer is YES! America undoubtedly is taking more than enough. Of course, her no-nonsense stance in her international policy is worthy of commendation but, if bigotry is to be set aside, America is trespassing her bound and also defying the United Nation’s Charter on territorial sovereignty of other nations; she is guilty of infringement. And since ‘Terrorism’ as defined by the Advance Learners Dictionary of English Language is an act of using force (power) to suppress, oppress or intimidate, so is America’s role in international politics. Or, can America exonerate itself from the disintegrations of Germany and Soviet Union? Just to mention a few of her atrocities.

 Of course, some pro-United States columnists may have me blacklisted as anti-American. No, I am not. On the contrary, I really commend United States for her untiring efforts that liberated Kuwait from Iraqi’s clutch (Gulf War of 1991), the 1919 return of Alsace and Loraine by Germany to France (which the former had forcefully taken in the France-German war of 1870-71), her role in ending both the First and Second World Wars, the formation of the League of Nations (1919) and later the formation of the United Nations Organization at San Francisco in 1945, the disruption of Bin Laden terrorist formations and her solo efforts at resolving the Middle East crisis, among others.

 For want of space, I would like to round-off by crystallizing the difference in America and Bin Laden’s forms of terrorism. While that of the former, to laudable degree, is positive, the latter is condemnable in its entirety.

 Are you confused by the grammatical ambivalence thus created by my choice of words in referring to America as a ‘POSITIVE TERRORIST’ nation? Well, what I mean is that America’s form of terrorism has positive objective. Though the word ‘OBJECTIVE’ means aims – either devilish or angelic – the fact here is that America’s objective, to appreciable degree, have positive underlining.

In contradistinction, the bunch of criminal enthusiasts in the name of Al-Qaeda is never positive. The organization in 1998 not only succeeded in bombing American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (July 7, and Oct 8, respectively) but also send many people to early graves at every opportunity. In the two attacks properties worth millions of dollars ended in shambles while large number of people were also wounded. These are just few of their atrocities against humanity. The whole universe should rise against them and their accomplices for peace to reign.

 

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Twitter: @Femiolas

Blog:  http://www.femiolas.wordpress.com

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2016 in Opinion, Politics

 

TOTAL NUMBER OF INEC NIGERIA REGISTERED VOTERS IN EACH STATE

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If everybody voted, and if “OUR SON SYNDROME” synonymous with Nigeria comes to play, then 2015 may see to the emergence of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as the next President and Vice-President, respectively.

SOUTH EAST
Abia                 –           1,481,191
Anambra          –           1,758,220
Enugu              –           1,301,185
Imo                  –           1,611,715
Ebonyi             –              876,249
TOTAL             –           7,028,560
SOUTH WEST
Lagos               –           6,247,845
Ogun                –           1,869,326
Osun                –           1,293,967
Ondo                –           1,558,975
Ekiti                 –              750,753
Oyo                  –           2,577,490
TOTAL              –         14,298,356
SOUTH SOUTH
Edo                  –           1,412;225
Delta                –           1,900,055
Bayelsa            –              472,389
Akwa Ibom        –           1,714,781
RIvers               –           2,419,057
Cross Rivers      –           1,018,550
TOTAL              –           8,937,057
NORTH CENTRAL
Benue              –           1,415,162
Kogi                 –           1,215,405
Kwara               –           1,115,665
Nassarawa        –           1,224,206
Niger                –              721,478
Plateau             –           1,983,453
TOTAL              –          7,675,369
NORTH EAST
Adamawa         –           1,714,860
Bauchi              –           1,835,562
Borno               –           2,730,368
Gombe             –           1,266,993
Taraba               –          1,308,106
Yobe                –           1,182,230
TOTAL             –         10,038,119
NORTH WEST
Jigawa              –           1,852,698
Kano                 –           5,135,415
Katsina             –           2,931,668
Kaduna             –           3,565,762
Kebbi                –           1,603,468
Sokoto              –           2,065,508
Zamfara             –           1,746,024
TOTAL              –         18,900,543

NOTE: The above was copied from the Facebook page of Hon. Rotimi Makinde (Member of House of Representative, Ife Federal Constituency)

@Femiolas

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2014 in Politics

 

Re: Before It’s Too Late – President Jonathan Replies Ex-Presdent Obasanjo

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His Excellency,
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR
Agbe L’Oba House, Quarry Road,
Ibara, Abeokuta.

RE: BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

I wish to formally acknowledge your letter dated December 2, 2013 and other previous correspondence similar to it.

You will recall that all the letters were brought to me by hand. Although both of us discussed some of the issues in those letters, I had not, before now, seen the need for any formal reply since, to me, they contained advice from a former President to a serving President. Obviously, you felt differently because in your last letter, you complained about my not acknowledging or replying your previous letters.

It is with the greatest possible reluctance that I now write this reply. I am most uneasy about embarking on this unprecedented and unconventional form of open communication between me and a former leader of our country because I know that there are more acceptable and dignified means of doing so.

But I feel obliged to reply your letter for a number of reasons: one, you formally requested for a reply and not sending you one will be interpreted as ignoring a former President.

Secondly, Nigerians know the role you have played in my political life and given the unfortunate tone of your letter, clearly, the grapes have gone sour. Therefore, my side of the story also needs to be told.

The third reason why I must reply you in writing is that your letter is clearly a threat to national security as it may deliberately or inadvertently set the stage for subversion.

The fourth reason for this reply is that you raised very weighty issues, and since the letter has been made public, Nigerians are expressing legitimate concerns. A response from me therefore, becomes very necessary.

The fifth reason is that this letter may appear in biographies and other books which political commentators on Nigeria’s contemporary politics may write. It is only proper for such publications to include my comments on the issues raised in your letter.

Sixthly, you are very unique in terms of the governance of this country. You were a military Head of State for three years and eight months, and an elected President for eight years. That means you have been the Head of Government of Nigeria for about twelve years. This must have, presumably, exposed you to a lot of information. Thus when you make a statement, there is the tendency for people to take it seriously.

The seventh reason is that the timing of your letter coincided with other vicious releases. The Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke of my “body language” encouraging corruption. A letter written to me by the CBN Governor alleging that NNPC, within a period of 19 months did not remit the sum of USD49.8 billion to the federation account, was also deliberately leaked to the public.

The eighth reason is that it appears that your letter was designed to incite Nigerians from other geopolitical zones against me and also calculated to promote ethnic disharmony. Worse still, your letter was designed to instigate members of our Party, the PDP, against me.

The ninth reason is that your letter conveys to me the feeling that landmines have been laid for me. Therefore, Nigerians need to have my response to the issues raised before the mines explode.

The tenth and final reason why my reply is inevitable is that you have written similar letters and made public comments in reference to all former Presidents and Heads of Government starting from Alhaji Shehu Shagari and these have instigated different actions and reactions. The purpose and direction of your letter is distinctly ominous, and before it is too late, my clarifications on the issues need to be placed on record.

Let me now comment on the issues you raised. In commenting I wish to crave your indulgence to compare what is happening now to what took place before. This, I believe, will enable Nigerians see things in better perspective because we must know where we are coming from so as to appreciate where we now are, and to allow us clearly map out where we are going.

You raised concerns about the security situation in the country. I assure you that I am fully aware of the responsibility of government for ensuring the security of the lives and property of citizens. My Administration is working assiduously to overcome current national security challenges, the seeds of which were sown under previous administrations. There have been some setbacks; but certainly there have also been great successes in our efforts to overcome terrorism and insurgency.

Those who continue to down-play our successes in this regard, amongst whom you must now be numbered, appear to have conveniently forgotten the depths to which security in our country had plunged before now.

At a stage, almost the entire North-East of Nigeria was under siege by insurgents. Bombings of churches and public buildings in the North and the federal capital became an almost weekly occurrence. Our entire national security apparatus seemed nonplussed and unable to come to grips with the new threat posed by the berthing of terrorism on our shores.

But my administration has since brought that very unacceptable situation under significant control. We have overhauled our entire national security architecture, improved intelligence gathering, training, funding, logistical support to our armed forces and security agencies, and security collaboration with friendly countries with very visible and positive results.

The scope and impact of terrorist operations have been significantly reduced and efforts are underway to restore full normalcy to the most affected North Eastern region and initiate a post-crisis development agenda, including a special intervention programme to boost the region’s socio-economic progress.

In doing all this, we have kept our doors open for dialogue with the insurgents and their supporters through efforts such as the work of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and the Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges in the North-East. You also know that the Governor of Borno State provided the items you mentioned to me as carrots. Having done all this and more, it is interesting that you still accuse me of not acting on your hardly original recommendation that the carrot and stick option be deployed to solve the Boko Haram problem.

Your suggestion that we are pursuing a “war against violence without understanding the root causes of the violence and applying solutions to deal with all the underlying factors” is definitely misplaced because from the onset of this administration, we have been implementing a multifaceted strategy against militancy, insurgency and terrorism that includes poverty alleviation, economic development, education and social reforms.

Even though basic education is the constitutional responsibility of States, my administration has, as part of its efforts to address ignorance and poor education which have been identified as two of the factors responsible for making some of our youth easily available for use as cannon fodder by insurgents and terrorists, committed huge funds to the provision of modern basic education schools for the Almajiri in several Northern States. The Federal Government under my leadership has also set up nine additional universities in the Northern States and three in the Southern States in keeping with my belief that proper education is the surest way of emancipating and empowering our people.

More uncharitable persons may even see a touch of sanctimoniousness in your new belief in the carrot and stick approach to overcoming militancy and insurgency. You have always referred to how you hit Odi in Bayelsa State to curb militancy in the Niger Delta. If the invasion of Odi by the Army was the stick, I did not see the corresponding carrot. I was the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State then, and as I have always told you, the invasion of Odi did not solve any militancy problem but, to some extent, escalated it. If it had solved it, late President Yar’Adua would not have had to come up with the amnesty program. And while some elements of the problem may still be there, in general, the situation is reasonably better.

In terms of general insecurity in the country and particularly the crisis in the Niger Delta, 2007 was one of the worst periods in our history. You will recall three incidents that happened in 2007 which seemed to have been orchestrated to achieve sinister objectives. Here in Abuja, a petrol tanker loaded with explosives was to be rammed into the INEC building. But luckily for the country, an electric pole stopped the tanker from hitting the INEC building. It is clear that this incident was meant to exploit the general sense of insecurity in the nation at the time to achieve the aim of stopping the 2007 elections. It is instructive that you, on a number of occasions, alluded to this fact.

When that incident failed, an armed group invaded Yenagoa one evening with the intent to assassinate me. Luckily for me, they could not. They again attacked and bombed my country home on a night when I was expected in the village. Fortunately, as God would have it, I did not make the trip.

I recall that immediately after both incidents, I got calls expressing the concern of Abuja. But Baba, you know that despite the apparent concern of Abuja, no single arrest was ever made. I was then the Governor of Bayelsa State and the PDP Vice-Presidential candidate. The security people ordinarily should have unraveled the assassination attempt on me.

You also raised the issues of kidnapping, piracy and armed robbery. These are issues all Nigerians, including me are very concerned about. While we will continue to do our utmost best to reduce all forms of criminality to the barest minimum in our country, it is just as well to remind you that the first major case of kidnapping for ransom took place around 2006. And the Boko Haram crisis dates back to 2002. Goodluck Jonathan was not the President of the country then. Also, armed robbery started in this country immediately after the civil war and since then, it has been a problem to all succeeding governments. For a former Head of Government, who should know better, to present these problems as if they were creations of the Jonathan Administration is most uncharitable.

Having said that, let me remind you of some of the things we have done to curb violent crime in the country. We have reorganized the Nigerian Police Force and appointed a more dynamic leadership to oversee its affairs. We have also improved its manpower levels as well as funding, training and logistical support.

We have also increased the surveillance capabilities of the Police and provided its air-wing with thrice the number of helicopters it had before the inception of the present administration. The National Civil Defence and Security Corps has been armed to make it a much more effective ally of the police and other security agencies in the war against violent crime. At both domestic and international levels, we are doing everything possible to curb the proliferation of the small arms and light weapons with which armed robberies, kidnappings and piracy are perpetrated. We have also enhanced security at our borders to curb cross-border crimes.

We are aggressively addressing the challenge of crude oil theft in collaboration with the state Governors. In addition, the Federal Government has engaged the British and US governments for their support in the tracking of the proceeds from the purchase of stolen crude. Similarly, a regional Gulf of Guinea security strategy has been initiated to curb crude oil theft and piracy.

Perhaps the most invidious accusation in your letter is the allegation that I have placed over one thousand Nigerians on a political watch list, and that I am training snipers and other militia to assassinate people. Baba, I don’t know where you got that from but you do me grave injustice in not only lending credence to such baseless rumours, but also publicizing it. You mentioned God seventeen times in your letter. Can you as a Christian hold the Bible and say that you truly believe this allegation?

The allegation of training snipers to assassinate political opponents is particularly incomprehensible to me. Since I started my political career as a Deputy Governor, I have never been associated with any form of political violence. I have been a President for over three years now, with a lot of challenges and opposition mainly from the high and mighty. There have certainly been cases of political assassination since the advent of our Fourth Republic, but as you well know, none of them occurred under my leadership.

Regarding the over one thousand people you say are on a political watch list, I urge you to kindly tell Nigerians who they are and what agencies of government are “watching” them. Your allegation that I am using security operatives to harass people is also baseless. Nigerians are waiting for your evidence of proof. That was an accusation made against previous administrations, including yours, but it is certainly not my style and will never be. Again, if you insist on the spurious claim that some of your relatives and friends are being harassed, I urge you to name them and tell Nigerians what agencies of my administration are harassing them.

I also find it difficult to believe that you will accuse me of assisting murderers, or assigning a presidential delegation to welcome a murderer. This is a most unconscionable and untrue allegation. It is incumbent on me to remind you that I am fully conscious of the dictates of my responsibilities to God and our dear nation. It is my hope that devious elements will not take advantage of your baseless allegation to engage in brazen and wanton assassination of high profile politicians as before, hiding under the alibi your “open letter” has provided for them.
Nevertheless, I have directed the security agencies and requested the National Human Rights Commission to carry out a thorough investigation of these criminal allegations and make their findings public.

That corruption is an issue in Nigeria is indisputable. It has been with us for many years. You will recall that your kinsman, the renowned afro-beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti famously sang about it during your first stint as Head of State. Sonny Okosun also sang about corruption. And as you may recall, a number of Army Generals were to be retired because of corruption before the Dimka coup. Also, the late General Murtala Mohammed himself wanted to retire some top people in his cabinet on corruption-related issues before he was assassinated. Even in this Fourth Republic, the Siemens and Halliburton scandals are well known.

The seed of corruption in this country was planted a long time ago, but we are doing all that we can to drastically reduce its debilitating effects on national development and progress. I have been strengthening the institutions established to fight corruption. I will not shield any government official or private individual involved in corruption, but I must follow due process in all that I do. And whenever clear cases of corruption or fraud have been established, my administration has always taken prompt action in keeping with the dictates of extant laws and procedures. You cannot claim to be unaware of the fact that several highly placed persons in our country, including sons of some of our party leaders are currently facing trial for their involvement in the celebrated subsidy scam affair. I can hardly be blamed if the wheels of justice still grind very slowly in our country, but we are doing our best to support and encourage the judiciary to quicken the pace of adjudication in cases of corruption.

Baba, I am amazed that with all the knowledge garnered from your many years at the highest level of governance in our country, you could still believe the spurious allegation contained in a letter written to me by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and surreptitiously obtained by you, alleging that USD49.8 billion, a sum equal to our entire national budget for two years, is “unaccounted for” by the NNPC. Since, as President, you also served for many years as Minister of Petroleum Resources, you very well know the workings of the corporation. It is therefore intriguing that you have made such an assertion. You made a lot of insinuations about oil theft, shady dealings at the NNPC and the NNPC not remitting the full proceeds of oil sales to the of CBN. Now that the main source of the allegations which you rehashed has publicly stated that he was “misconstrued”, perhaps you will find it in your heart to apologize for misleading unwary Nigerians and impugning the integrity of my administration on that score.

Your claim of “Atlantic Oil loading about 130, 000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on behalf of NPDC with no sale proceeds paid into the NPDC account” is also disjointed and baseless because no such arrangement as you described exists between Atlantic Oil and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company. NPDC currently produces about 138, 000 barrels of oil per day from over 7 producing assets. The Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD) of the NNPC markets all of this production on behalf of NPDC with proceeds paid into NPDC account.

I am really shocked that with all avenues open to you as a former Head of State for the verification of any information you have received about state affairs, you chose to go public with allegations of “high corruption” without offering a shred of supporting evidence. One of your political “sons” similarly alleged recently that he told me of a minister who received a bribe of $250 Million from an oil company and I did nothing about it. He may have been playing from a shared script, but we have not heard from him again since he was challenged to name the minister involved and provide the evidence to back his claim. I urge you, in the same vein, to furnish me with the names, facts and figures of a single verifiable case of the “high corruption” which you say stinks all around my administration and see whether the corrective action you advocate does not follow promptly. And while you are at it, you may also wish to tell Nigerians the true story of questionable waivers of signature bonuses between 2000 and 2007.

While, by the Grace of God Almighty, I am the first President from a minority group, I am never unmindful of the fact that I was elected leader of the whole of Nigeria and I have always acted in the best interest of all Nigerians. You referred to the divisive actions and inflammatory utterances of some individuals from the South-South and asserted that I have done nothing to call them to order or distance myself from their ethnic chauvinism. Again that is very untrue. I am as committed to the unity of this country as any patriot can be and I have publicly declared on many occasions that no person who threatens other Nigerians or parts of the country is acting on my behalf.

It is very regrettable that in your letter, you seem to place sole responsibility for the ongoing intrigues and tensions in the PDP at my doorstep, and going on from that position, you direct all your appeals for a resolution at me. Baba, let us all be truthful to ourselves, God and posterity. At the heart of all the current troubles in our party and the larger polity is the unbridled jostling and positioning for personal or group advantage ahead of the 2015 general elections. The “bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear and deep suspicion” you wrote about all flow from this singular factor.

It is indeed very unfortunate that the seeming crisis in the party was instigated by a few senior members of the party, including you. But, as leader of the party, I will continue to do my best to unite it so that we can move forward with strength and unity of purpose. The PDP has always recovered from previous crises with renewed vigour and vitality. I am very optimistic that that will be the case again this time. The PDP will overcome any temporary setback, remain a strong party and even grow stronger.

Instigating people to cause problems and disaffection within the party is something that you are certainly familiar with. You will recall that founding fathers of the Party were frustrated out of the Party at a time. Late Chief Sunday Awoniyi was pushed out, Late Chief Solomon Lar left and later came back, Chief Audu Ogbeh and Chief Tom Ikimi also left. Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo left and later came back. In 2005/2006, link-men were sent to take over party structures from PDP Governors in an unveiled attempt to undermine the state governors. In spite of that, the Governors did not leave the Party because nobody instigated and encouraged them to do so.

The charge that I was involved in anti-party activities in governorship elections in Edo, Ondo, Lagos, and Anambra States is also very unfortunate. I relate with all Governors irrespective of political party affiliation but I have not worked against the interest of the PDP. What I have not done is to influence the electoral process to favour our Party. You were definitely never so inclined, since you openly boasted in your letter of how you supported Alhaji Shehu Shagari against Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe and others in the 1979 presidential elections while serving as a military Head of State. You and I clearly differ in this regard, because as the President of Nigeria, I believe it is my duty and responsibility to create a level playing field for all parties and all candidates.

Recalling how the PDP lost in states where we were very strong in 2003 and 2007 such as Edo, Ondo, Imo, Bauchi, Anambra, and Borno, longstanding members of our great party with good memory will also consider the charge of anti-party activities you made against me as misdirected and hugely hypocritical. It certainly was not Goodluck Jonathan’s “personal ambition or selfish interest” that caused the PDP to lose the governorship of Ogun State and all its senatorial seats in the last general elections.

You quoted me as saying that I have not told anybody that I will seek another term in office in 2015. You and your ambitious acolytes within the party have clearly decided to act on your conclusion that “only a fool will believe that statement” and embark on a virulent campaign to harass me out of an undeclared candidature for the 2015 presidential elections so as to pave the way for a successor anointed by you.

You will recall that you serially advised me that we should refrain from discussing the 2015 general elections for now so as not to distract elected public officials from urgent task of governance. While you have apparently moved away from that position, I am still of the considered opinion that it would have been best for us to do all that is necessary to refrain from heating up the polity at this time. Accordingly, I have already informed Nigerians that I will only speak on whether or not I will seek a second term when it is time for such declarations. Your claims about discussions I had with you, Governor Gabriel Suswam and others are wrong, but in keeping with my declared stance, I will reserve further comments until the appropriate time.

Your allegation that I asked half a dozen African Presidents to speak to you about my alleged ambition for 2015, is also untrue. I have never requested any African President to discuss with you on my behalf. In our discussion, I mentioned to you that four Presidents told me that they were concerned about the political situation in Nigeria and intended to talk to you about it. So far, only three of them have confirmed to me that they have had any discussion with you. If I made such a request, why would I deny it?

The issue of Buruji Kashamu is one of those lies that should not be associated with a former President. The allegation that I am imposing Kashamu on the South-West is most unfortunate and regrettable. I do not even impose Party officials in my home state of Bayelsa and there is no zone in this country where I have imposed officials. So why would I do so in the South West? Baba, in the light of Buruji’s detailed public response to your “open letter”, it will be charitable for you to render an apology to Nigerians and I.

On the issue of investors being scared to come to Nigeria, economic dormancy, and stagnation, I will just refer you to FDI statistics from 2000 to 2013. Within the last three years, Nigeria has emerged as the preferred destination for investments in Africa, driven by successful government policies to attract foreign investors. For the second year running, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Investments (UNCTAD) has ranked Nigeria as the number one destination for investments in Africa, and as having the fourth highest returns in the world.

Today, Nigeria is holding 18 percent of all foreign investments in Africa and 60 percent of all foreign investments in the ECOWAS Sub-Region. Kindly note also that in the seven years between 2000 and 2007 when you were President, Nigeria attracted a total of $24.9 Billion in FDI. As a result of our efforts which you disparage, the country has seen an FDI inflow of $25.7 Billion in just three years which is more than double the FDI that has gone to the second highest African destination. We have also maintained an annual national economic growth rate of close to seven per cent since the inception of this administration. What then, is the justification for your allegation of scared investors and economic dormancy?

Although it was not emphasized in your letter of December 2, 2013, you also conveyed, in previous correspondence, the impression that you were ignorant of the very notable achievements of my administration in the area of foreign relations. It is on record that under my leadership, Nigeria has played a key role in resolving the conflicts in Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea Bissau and others.
The unproductive rivalry that existed between Nigeria and some ECOWAS countries has also been ended under my watch and Nigeria now has better relations with all the ECOWAS countries. At the African Union, we now have a Commissioner at the AU Commission after being without one for so long. We were in the United Nations Security Council for the 2010/2011 Session and we have been voted in again for the 2014/2015 Session. From independence to 2010, we were in the U.N. Security Council only three times but from 2010 to 2015, we will be there two times.

This did not happen by chance. My Administration worked hard for it and we continue to maintain the best possible relations with all centres of global political and economic power. I find it hard therefore, to believe your assertions of untoward concern in the international community over the state of governance in Nigeria.

With respect to the Brass and Olokola LNG projects, you may have forgotten that though you started these projects, Final Investment Decisions were never reached. For your information, NNPC has not withdrawn from either the Olokola or the Brass LNG projects.

On the Rivers State Water Project, you were misled by your informant. The Federal Government under my watch has never directed or instructed the Africa Development Bank to put on hold any project to be executed in Rivers state or any other State within the Federation. The Rivers Water Project was not originally in the borrowing plan but it was included in April 2013 and appraised in May. Negotiations are ongoing with the AfDB. I have no doubt that you are familiar with the entire process that prefaces the signing of a Subsidiary Loan Agreement as in this instance.

Let me assure you and all Nigerians that I do not engage in negative political actions and will never, as President, oppress the people of a State or deprive them of much needed public services as a result of political disagreement.

I have noted your comments on the proposed National Conference. Contrary to the insinuation in your letter, the proposed conference is aimed at bringing Nigerians together to resolve contentious national issues in a formal setting. This is a sure way of promoting greater national consensus and unity, and not a recipe for “disunity, confusion and chaos” as you alleged in your letter.

Having twice held the high office of President, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I trust that you will understand that I cannot possibly find the time to offer a line-by-line response to all the accusations and allegations made in your letter while dealing with other pressing demands of office and more urgent affairs of state.

I have tried, however, to respond to only the most serious of the charges which question my sincerity, personal honour, and commitment to the oath which I have sworn, to always uphold and protect the interests of all Nigerians, and promote their well-being.

In closing, let me state that you have done me grave injustice with your public letter in which you wrongfully accused me of deceit, deception, dishonesty, incompetence, clannishness, divisiveness and insincerity, amongst other ills.

I have not, myself, ever claimed to be all-knowing or infallible, but I have never taken Nigeria or Nigerians for granted as you implied, and I will continue to do my utmost to steer our ship of state towards the brighter future to which we all aspire.

Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration and warm regards.

GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Politics

 

Four Questions for the Jonathan Government – Tolu Ogunlesi

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Question 1

What became of the annual savings from the debt relief deal of 2006? Starting in 2006, a “debt relief savings” item of around N100bn began to show up in the Federal Budget. This is how the then President Olusegun Obasanjo explained it in his 2006 budget speech: “Budget 2006 commits all the gains from debt relief, that is, the Federal Government resources that would have gone for external debt service in 2006, amounting to N100bn, to poverty reducing expenditures in Health, Power, Education, Agriculture, Water Resources, Environment, Housing, and support for women and youths. All the expenditures are targeted at programmes and projects aimed at scaling up our effort to reach the Millennium Development Goals.”The 2007 budget, Obasanjo’s final budget as president, followed up on this. He said: “Included in these allocations are the debt relief savings for 2007 totalling N110bn. As in 2006, these savings are being used exclusively to support and scale up spending on MDG-related initiatives and programmes…”The 2008 budget, President Umaru Yar’Adua’s first, contained the sum of N110bn, set aside for the same purpose.After that, silence. I’ve checked every budget since then, and I can’t find any item remotely resembling debt relief savings. I actually also didn’t find ‘MDGs’ mentioned in any of the budgets after 2009. Hence my question: Can someone please explain this? Did the savings transmute into something else?The disturbing irony is that when a sum similar to the debt relief savings shows up in the 2013 budget, it’s for a dedicated fund that’ll be swallowed by the monster of domestic debt. In President Goodluck Jonathan’s words: “In this respect, a sinking fund of N100bn is being established in the 2013 fiscal year to be used for repaying Government’s maturing debt obligations and to curb the rising domestic debt profile.” We have gone, it seems, from (foreign) debt savings to (domestic) debt sinking funds.

Question 2

How much did the Obasanjo government leave in the Excess Crude Account, in May 2007? How much was there in November 2009 when President Yar’Adua left the country? How much was there in February 2010 when Jonathan became Acting President? And how much in May 2011? There’s been heated debate about the foreign reserves and the ECA in recent weeks, kickstarted by Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili’s University of Nigeria, Nsukka Convocation Lecture. In the speech, she says that the Obasanjo administration left $45bn in foreign reserves and $22bn in the Excess Crude Account. An obviously displeased government has been on the offensive, insisting she is wrong, but failing to give us a clear(er) picture of things. The Ministry of Finance released full-page advertorials telling us what the ECA held in the last half of 2012, which, in my opinion, is not what we need. What will be helpful is to get a sense of the inflow and outflow for the Excess Crude Account, between May 2007 and May 2011. Before now, it was widely believed that Obasanjo left about $20bn in the account (something close to Mrs. Ezekwesili’s figures). Today, this government is telling us there was only $9bn in it in May 2007.For more information I’ve turned to Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s new book, Reforming the Unreformable. On page 22, she writes that at the end of 2006, Nigeria had $8bn in the ECA. On Page 120, she says that the ECA “accumulated up to US$17bn, boosting foreign-exchange reserves to US$60 as Nigeria entered the Great Recession of the global economy in September 2008.”So, while she doesn’t tell us exactly how much was there in May 2007, what we know is that as of mid-2008, there was still at least US$17bn in the ECA. “The availability of these savings allowed Nigeria to introduce a fiscal stimulus to the economy equivalent to 0.5 per cent of GDP at the height of the global financial crisis,” she adds.And then on Page 122, she acknowledges that “the ECA was raided several times after the Obasanjo administration ended – even when the triggers for sharing were not met.” Reuters quotes the then Accountant-General of the Federation (now Governor of Gombe State), Ibrahim Dankwambo, as saying, in August 2010, that the ECA contained only $460m. And last week in Lagos, the CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido, was quoted as saying that the six-fold increase in fuel subsidy payouts between 2009 and 2011, were funded from the ECA.So, what we have are all these bits of random information. We desperately need the Federal Government to give us a coherent picture.

Question 3

What happens to the ongoing projects for which Federal funds have been appropriated, but have now been passed on to SURE-P for completion? SURE-P is currently working on completing a number of transport infrastructure rehabilitation projects that predate its creation. One example: In the 2007 budget speech, President Obasanjo said that all the three tiers of government have decided to, from the Excess Crude Account, “jointly execute and fund six major developmental projects, with large foreign exchange components. One of the projects listed is the “Lagos – Minna – Kano (railway line) with Minna – Abuja – Kaduna Spur, Standard Gauge Double Track, (150km per hour design Speed) Railway Line – estimated to cost US$8.3bn in four years.” (The Yar’Adua government would later cancel that contract, and then re-award it). Today, SURE-P lists “Jebba-Kano Railway Rehabilitation” (Jebba-Kano is part of the northern leg of the Lagos-Kano line) as one of its projects, and says it has paid N1.12bn to take it from 87 per cent to 98 per cent completion. In essence, SURE-P, an “intervention” vehicle, that has helped ensure the completion of something started and budgeted for by a different arm(s) of government. My question then is: What happens to the monies already appropriated in the Federal budget for these projects, if any? How can we track these potentially overlapping expenditures, and prevent double-budgeting?

Question 4

Can we get an update on the plans of the government to boost local refining capacity, more than one year after Occupy Nigeria and all the promises to reform the oil industry? I read an interesting interview last week, by Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, CEO of Access Bank, in which he argues that building new refineries is not such a big deal, and that local banks have the capacity to easily finance such projects; we don’t have to wait for foreign investors. So, the question hangs in the air: What is the government doing to develop local refining capacity? All we know is that the Minister of Petroleum intends to spend $1.6bn on trying to fix the four broken refineries (which have a disgraceful capacity utilisation currently below 20 per cent). As The PUNCH said in a November 2012 editorial, “Nothing will come out of it, except opening up another avenue for graft.” So, putting that (throwing money at the existing refineries) alongside these facts: one, that we’re still spending billions of dollars importing petrol; two, the bank CEO’s comments (the capacity of local banks to fund refinery construction), and three, that the Niger Delta is full of thriving illegal refineries (proving that local refining can be a viable business), it’d be good to know what the government plans to do differently, beyond wasting more money on trying to redeem the apparently irredeemable?

Tolu Ogunlesi Twits @toluogunlesi

Blogger Twits @Femiolas

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Economy, Politics

 

Finance Minister Gets 50 Knotty Questions From House Of Reps

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Finance Minister Gets 50 Knotty Questions From House Of Reps

Apparently troubled with the level of economic decay and underdevelopment that have characterised President Goodluck Jonathan administration, Nigerian House of Represntative Finance Committee, under the Chairmanship of Dr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, asked the Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala (who also double as the Coordinating Minister of the Economy) to provide answers to the following 50 questions.  

Below are the 50 questions:

1. What should you consider as the major economic achievements of this government in the 2013 fiscal year and why? In your explanation, we will need facts and figures in demonstrating such achievements. 

2. You have been credited with many announcements regarding Nigeria’s economy as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. If the economy is one of the fast growing economies, what is exactly growing the economy? What role does government play in the said economic growth, especially given that as high as 80 percent of the country’s total annual budget spending still goes into recurrent expenditure? 

3. Since your arrival as minister of finance in 2011, you have publicly announced the need to reduce the recurrent expenditure so that more money would be made available to capital spending which is critical to growing and diversifying the country’s economy. How far has government succeeded in making these necessary cuts; and where exactly have these cuts been made in this effort to reduce recurrent expenditure? In other words, based on real amount spent on capital expenditure, how much reduction was made in 2011 against 2010, in 2012 against 2011 and in 2013 against 2012? 

4. You are known to be celebrating a single-digit GDP growth. But speaking recently at a breakfast dialogue with some members of the organized private sector in Lagos, organized by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), you were quoted as saying: “We are growing, but not creating enough jobs. That is a very big challenge…We need to grow faster. I think it needs to grow at least 9 to 10 percent to drive job growth the way we want.” Don’t you agree that a good finance minister managing an economy like ours should be celebrating a GDP growth as high as 20 percent annually? Why is it that our economy cannot grow beyond a single digit? How many jobs are being created as a result of these said growths? In which sectors of the economy are these jobs created? If in private sector, what contributions is government making to further assist these private sector firms?

5. In the presence of Nigeria’s huge infrastructure deficit, why is it that the country’s debt-to-GDP at about 19 percent in 2012 remains one of the lowest in the world when compared to nations already with world-class infrastructure and industrial economies such as America’s 105 percent, Brazil’s 65.49 percent, India’s 67.60 percent, and South Africa’s 40.9 percent? 

6. Since facts don’t lie, have you any disagreements with the September 4, 2013 Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum for 2013-2014, which ranked Nigeria 120th out of 148 countries ranked in the Global Competitiveness Index, including being ranked far behind some African countries such as Mauritius 45th, South Africa 53rd, and Kenya 96th? 

7. ‘’For the first time in Nigeria’s 53rd year history, we have successfully privatized the electric power industry,” so said the President at a recent meeting in London with some foreign investors. As minister of finance should you agree that the recent privatization of the country’s power infrastructure is worth celebrating as a major economic achievement in 2013, when in reality there is little or nothing to show as an improvement in the country power supply? Also why our rush to wholesale privatization of the power sector when countries like South Africa, generating as high as 42,000MW still have their power sector mostly in public hands?

8. What was your reaction to the November 12, 2013 statement credited to the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, who said that over 100 million Nigerians are today living in absolute destitution, representing an unheard-of 8.33 percent of the world’s total number of people living in destitution? 

9. Nigerians are increasingly perplexed that these days nothing happens without government borrowing. And for most Nigerians, it is frightening how those managing the economy are just dragging us into excessively unproductive debts. More worrisome is the fact that every effort is being made to hide the details of the country’s debt stock from Nigerians. Where are the facts that the country’s current high rate of borrowing is productive, let alone have the ability to be repaid without having to resort to more borrowings? 

10. Is prudence in our borrowing simply reduction in borrowing or simply constructive borrowing with government putting necessary measures in place to ensure that domestic debt profile is properly supervised and utilized by curbing corruption? 

11. From Debt Management Office (DMO) 2012 Annual Report, the total public debt outstanding between 2008 and 2012 for external stock rose from $3.72bn to $6.53bn, while domestic stock rose from $17.68bn to $41.97bn. The total debt service the same period saw the percentage of external debt service drastically reduced from 11.46 per cent to 5.96 per cent while the percentage of domestic debt servicing grew from 88.54 per cent in 2008 to 94.04 per cent in 2012, drastically increasing the cost of the total debt service since the cost of domestic borrowing is atrociously higher than the cost of external borrowing. How could your debt sustainability analysis rationalize this without seeing some narrow interests being the overriding reason? Could this be the explanation why commercial banks in the country are declaring unheard-of three digit profits and the high Foreign Portfolio Investment and low Foreign Direct Investment? 

12. It’s an established fact that the willingness and ability to borrow do not automatically translate into economic growth. If you agree with this fact, how productive are the country’s recent borrowings? 

13. Why should our internal debts continue to represent more than two-thirds of Nigeria’s external debt profile, when the cost of servicing domestic debts is ridiculously far more expensive than servicing external debts? Why should government continue to borrow internally when in so doing results in insufficient funds, skyrockets the cost of borrowing and above all, crowds out the real sector from the money market? Shouldn’t the high cost of domestic borrowing override whatever are the assumed benefits? Since both London Interbank Offer Rates (LIBOR) and the US Treasury Bonds rates offer far better interest rates for sovereign borrowings, why have we continued not to take advantage of cheaper interest rates? 

14. Your references to the country’s economic growth profile have always been based on Fitch, Standard and Poor’s, and Moody’s ratings. Are you aware that these same rating agencies are being sued in New York (with case # 652410/2013) by two Bear Stearns hedge funds for fraudulently assigning inflated ratings to securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis? If you do, why do you insist on accepting the rating as reliable. 

15. How much exactly has been the amount of money lost in government revenue as a result of import duty waivers in 2011, 2012 and 2013? Provide the names and beneficiaries and justification for same. In your opinion as the minister of finance who oversees the economy, what are the implications to the country’s economy? What efforts have you have made to stop this waiver policy, which is distorting the economy? Our non oil income has dropped in 2013. A case where increased tariffs on various items effectively reduced importation to zero in some sectors. However, those items now find their way into Nigeria through our borders. Does it make any sense to increase these tariffs when we have such porous borders? As an example, officially, Benin Republic imported more rice this year than Nigeria. 

16. It was reported that the FIRS is to engage foreign consultants for tax collection in 2014. Could the Minister clarify this position and what Nigeria stands to gain? Have the FIRS not been working effectively? 

17. Do you really believe that Nigeria needs a ‘Sovereign Wealth Fund’ at this critical juncture of budgetary deficits, and having to be borrowing extensively in an effort to address government revenue gaps? Shouldn’t the presence of Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) simply mean spreading government’s scarce resources thinly? Why will you insist that no matter what we still need to operate a sovereign wealth fund? Sincerely speaking, how sustainable are the objectives of Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, particularly in the long-term? 

18. You should agree that a lot of Nigerians are interested in the link between NSIA and the government. Since there is no doubt that Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority is an agent of government — or is it not? The question is: How should we think about the management structure in so far as major decisions are concerned? Where is the line between NSIA, as a commercially minded entity, and the government, especially given government’s policy of having no business doing business? If, for example, government does not get involved in specific investments, then, who appoints the external managers involved in managing some parts of the NSIA funds? 

19. Who determines the investment objective and who establishes the risk parameter for the NSIA’s portfolio? In providing answer to this question, it is also important to understand and explain why NSIA recently hired a Swiss national as its chief portfolio investor? Answering this question is important since it should help us to know who determines the maximum draw-down that the government would be comfortable with in extremely negative market environments. 

20. What should be your explanations for awarding MasterCard a multimillion dollar National Identity Smart Cards, when there are indigenous ICT companies that not only have what it takes but would have done it cheaper and create local jobs at the same time? 

21. Have you taken into considerations how foreign company could use such information available to it to invade the privacy of Nigerians? 

22. What are reasons for SURE-P to give preference to Chevrolet cars for SURE-P taxis, when it is known that not only are such cars very expensive to maintain compared with Asian and European cars, but also are also not fuel efficient and not durable on our roads?

23. Honorable Minister of Finance, you will agree that SURE-P is very important to the people of this country, taking into cognizance that it is the only thing they stand to gain from the increase on petroleum product pump prices almost 2 years ago. Who is in charge of the management of SURE-P and who takes responsibility for its successes and failures? 

24. You will agree that inasmuch as the interest rate regime is critical to the real sector borrowing decisions, most principal factor in making borrowing decisions is the business’s expected rate of return on investing borrowed money? The question, without efforts to protect local businesses from their foreign counterparts, the high cost of doing business in Nigeria, puts them at such a disadvantaged position that it makes no economic sense borrowing to invest in their local businesses, why should we expect private sector firms to be investing in the economy? 

25. You are quoted as saying, ‘’ Very soon, the US would become a net exporter of oil…So, it would be disingenuous for anyone to say that just because the price of oil has hovered at around $100 per barrel, it cannot crash…Lest we forget, as recently as 2008, oil prices crashed from a peak of $147 per barrel to $35 per barrel ina space of months triggered by the global financial crisis. Is the minority leader saying he has forgotten that?” This forces one to wonder from which source should the US become that net exporter of oil, given that the US daily oil consumption was 18.7 million barrels with (10.6 million of which was imported daily) in 2012? Or, should it be from the shale oil which the International Energy Agency (IEA) demonstrates to be at two million barrels daily? In other words, given the IEA global oil price trajectory, can’t we agree that “There are many constraints on supply keeping pace with demand” which means that within this decade, oil prices should always hover around $125 per barrel? Answering this question will help us understand why you insist on benchmarking the oil price for the 2014 appropriation at below $79 per barrel? In answering this question, would you also agree that as the global economy shifts from West to Asia, so will the appetite for global oil consumption shift from the West to Asia? As crude oil continues to sell at $100-$110, how low will production have to fall for us to record a net loss or at what production level can we break even at a 2013 benchmark of $79. 

26. Do you agree that the Excess Crude Account as being operated by government is illegal and unconstitutional, especially given how it has been managed? 

27. Can you explain with clarity how the ECA is being operated? Also provide a statement of account of the ECA from 2011 to 2013? Also how much have we made in excess of the benchmark price from January 2013 till date. 

28. If there is nothing like Excess Crude Account, would you have been demanding lower oil price benchmark for the budget, especially when the executive arm of government around world is known for demanding more money from lawmakers in order to be able to meet government spending obligations, particularly capital spending. Why is the reverse the case in Nigeria only, notably since 2011? 

29. With respect to the Excess crude account and our Sovereign wealth fund again, there have been allegations and counter allegations on its legality. Assuming, for the sake of the committee’s enlightenment, the FGN alone saved its own excess in its ECA/SWF (which is about 52% of the Federation account) and the states and LGs get their funds in full compliance with the constitution, what would be the effect on the economy? 

30. Do you believe in the fight against corruption? If you do why has EFCC not been proper funded? Without properly funding the commission, how should it be expected to carry out its duties effectively?

31. Can you confirm with figures if we have met our cumulative revenue projections for 2011, 2012, 2013, and if we have, how and if we have not, why? Also provide backup performance information under the various revenue generating agencies—NNPC (Oil and Gas), DPR, FIRS, Customs, Independent Revenue and other anticipated and unanticipated revenues e.g. privatization and sales of government properties etc. 

32. As Minister of Finance, are you familiar and comfortable with all the present business arrangements of the NNPC? Why were these business arrangements excluded from the MTEF which used to be the practice? Provide all the present business arrangements, the parties involved, the share of each party, and justifications for such. 

33. Provide details of government stake in NLNG. All categories of revenue under the NLNG and total amount generated so far and evidence of remittances. 

34. Why do you always prefer a lower benchmark which leaves government with wider deficits and your attitude of no qualms with domestic borrowings at excessively high interest rates to balance deficit as against our position of increasing benchmark to reduce deficit which consequently reduces domestic borrowing, that frees up funds for the real sector of the economy, thereby bringing down the interest rate, increased private sector investments and creating jobs. 

35. What is the total amount expended by certain statutory agencies of government without appropriation for 2011, 2012, and 2013? Also provide aggregate appropriated expenditure for the same period. As the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, do you feel comfortable with allegations that almost equal amount of our yearly aggregate expenditure is being spent without appropriation, yet we are crying that the country is running short of revenue? 

36. Between May 7 and 9, 2014, it is expected that Nigeria will be hosting World Economic Forum on Africa. Who will finance this event and why? In concrete terms, what are the expected tangible benefits to the country in return to justify hosting such expensive event that will require lots of money for logistics, accommodations, security, especially given that South Africa that recently hosted the event has nothing to show for it. 

37. If you should for any reason say it will attract foreign investors, the question, then becomes, what kind of foreign investors are we talking about here because as we all know, no serious foreign investor needs to attend such a forum in Nigeria in order to recognize that our country should have been one of the world’s favored investment destinations had our perennial infrastructure deficit been addressed head-on? 

38. Most of the developing economies like China, India, and Brazil that the world is today celebrating as economic success wouldn’t have become this successful without adopting multi-year development plans. Why after knowing that their successes are as a result of carefully designed multi-year economic planning, we are yet to adopt such a multi-year development model? In other words, why wouldn’t you agree that Nigeria too needs that in order to move faster and more sustainably in its quest for industrialization and economic diversification and job creation for millions of the country’s unemployed young men and women. Specifically, what concrete, visible strategic efforts and action are you taken to diversify our economy 

39. As the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, can you precisely clarify how much is AMCON’s debt exposure and what will its defaulting mean to the country’s economy? 

40. Why are we using the 10 to 15 years moving average to arrive at your 2014 proposed benchmark as against the traditional 5 to 10 years moving average we have always used? Is it because using the 5 -10 year average will not give you the benchmark price you desire? 

41. This time last year you informed this committee that our external reserve position was about $48 billion and the balance on our excess crude account was about $9 billion. You also said that the plan was to grow these balances to about $50 billion and $10 billion respectively. However we are hearing that the balances have dropped to $43 billion and $3 billion respectively. And you are saying all is well? 

42. Crude oil projections for 2013 were 2.53 million barrels per day while actual figures as supplied by the NNPC/DPR/MTEF have averaged about 2.3 million barrels per day giving a shortfall of about 9%. Could this alone have caused such a drastic reduction in our reserves and savings positions? 

43. Is any money missing from our anticipated revenue from the NNPC in particular and oil industry in general. If there is, how much? If not, how come such issues emanate from high offices in the executive arm of Government? However, if the reconciliation figures is the issue, how long will Nigerians wait for the reconciliation to be completed. In other words, how long will the reconciliation last and the outcome announced? 

44. Referring to the pre-shipment inspection of exports act of 1996 and the Federal ministry of Finance export guidelines. If any good (oil, gas or non oil) is exported from Nigeria the exporter is compelled to repatriate these proceeds through the domiciliary account of a Nigerian bank. What has been the effectiveness of these laws? Is there full compliance. 

45. If there has not been compliance, would it not make it difficult for us to build up our foreign reserves? Could we not say that the main thrust of the CBN letter was that our foreign reserves are not growing even though there has been a consistent high selling price of crude due to the fact that huge funds are not being repatriated at all or are repatriated through the black market? 

46. Could we say that the issue is not so much that money is missing (which is yet to be determined) but that proceeds that should have found their way back to the Nigerian economy have grown wings or they fly in through the black market, allowing oil industry players have a field day making spreads of up to N7 per dollar in some cases. 

47. What is the Minister’s take on the apparent stagnation of the economy as there seems to be very little job creation and growth in small businesses. Even though the Minister has read out growth figures before it is not telling on the average man on the street. 

48. Would the Minister say that the various Government initiatives at job creation have not lived up to expectation as they affect only a very small part of the population? 

49. Wouldn’t the Minister think that the private sector should be the main driver of job and wealth creation through natural growth of business and start ups being financed by the banking industry?

50. If so, what does the Minister think it would do for the local banking industry if this same pre-shipment inspection law and your own export guidelines are enforced to the letter. The oil industry in Nigeria is worth about $50 billion per annum. If even $10 billion of this passes through our local banks wouldn’t that give the economy a boost with banks now able to fund longer term and bigger projects?

Signed: Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, Ph.D
Chairman

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Politics

 

Fifty Billion-Dollar Blues – By Pius Adesanmi

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Aso Rock Villa. Yoruba music-themed day in one of the expansive presidential reception rooms. Ebenezer Obey is crooning from a sophisticated sound system:

A l’owo ma j’aiye

Eyin le mo

Awon to j’aiye l’ana da

Won ti ku won ti lo

(If you have serious money

And you don’t enjoy life to the hilt

That is your fucking business

Those who enjoyed life yesterday

Are dead and gone today)

General party atmosphere and genteel conversations in the ajebutter mode of the rich and powerful. Baba’s raucous peals of laughter are the only throwback to unpolished bush mannerisms. In the room, the usual suspects: President Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, Baba Olusegun Obasanjo, General Ibrahim Babangida, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, General T.Y. Danjuma, Chief Tony Anenih, all kinds of rebel Governors, representatives of the Northern Elders’ Forum, plenty of food, plenty of drinks, and assorted aides carrying the cellphones of their principals. President Jonathan can be heard above Ebenezer Obey’s financial advice:

“Ah, Baba himself! For the Baba himself! Ladies and gentlemen, it’s amazing how we all here continue to owe our necks and good fortunes to Baba’s quick thinking o!”

“Mr. President, I agree with you. You are absolutely right. I mean, look at me, I’m supposed to be Mr. Fix It. Yet, I was caught completely off guard by that idiot Kano prince. But for Baba’s quick action, we would all have been in a lot of trouble. I doff my hat and heart for Baba o”

(General murmur of agreement across the room.)

“Em, my people, if you praise me too much my head will swell o”

“Ah, Baba, let’s praise you. You deserve it. You have saved the President from a very tight corner.”

“Ok, praise me. It was my usual work of genius. As I sat down at the stadium in Johannesburg for Mandela’s funeral, I kept thinking of the damage that this lunatic Kano prince could potentially do to our plans with his useless letter. Then I thought of the one thing that never fails to work with Nigerians: emotion. You see, no matter how grown up and educated a Nigerian is, you must always remember that his emotion never develops beyond the Choco Milo stage throughout his or her life. Give children Choco Milo and you can divert their attention away from anything. I knew instantly that a letter containing more sensational tsunami than that of the Kano prince would divert their attention from our money. Throwing Nigerians Choco Milo worked for those who ruled them before us; throwing Nigerians Choco Milo has worked for us since we started ruling them; throwing Nigerians Choco Milo will work for our children who will rule Nigerians when we are dead and buried.”

(Thunderous applause in the room)

“Em, Your Excellency President Jonathan.”

“Yes, my dear General IBB.”

“Well, now that Baba has mentioned our money, I think it is time to get down to business. I still need to be in Minna today to receive another APC delegation. You know that those fools literally sleep on my verandah these days.”

“Ah, yes, you’re right General. Gentlemen, the meeting is about to start. If you are not supposed to be here, please exit now.”

(All aides exit. Patience Jonathan remains seated, beaming. Baba whispers into President Jonathan’s ear.)

“Em, Jona, your madam is still here now.”

“Yes now, Baba, I can see her.”

“Haba, don’t you understand? Tell her to go out too now.”

“Ehn, Baba, you want to kill me? Tell Patience to go out? Baba, leave matter, she is the real President o.”

“Ah, Jona, wo aiye e nta! See your life! Okay, let me help you get her out of here.”

“Ah, Baba, please I beg you, leave her alone o.”

(Too late. Baba is already approaching the First Lady.)

“My one and only Madam Peshe!”

“Baba, you are our father.”

“Peshe, Peshe! The lionness of Okrika! May Soponna strike any other woman who looks at Jona.”

“Baba we thank God. We thank you.”

“Ehen, Madam Peshe, shebi you know that whenever I’m here in the Villa, I will only eat what you personally cook because I am yet to see any woman who cooks soup like you in the whole of Africa.”

“Ah, Baba, you are flattering me again o.”

“It is not flattery o Madam Peshe. This one that you are seating here with us. It means you want me to eat food cooked by Villa cooks today?”

“Ah, Baba! Okay, let me leave you men alone and go and personally cook your own meal.”

“That is what I’m talking about my daughter. Thank you. O kare omobinrin yi.”

(The First Lady exits)

“Ah, Baba, how did you do it?”

“Leave me alone jare Jona. O ti de ju. Must I teach you everything including how to flatter a woman to get her to do anything you want? Start the meeting jare.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are all here to review Operation Fifty-Billion-Dollars-For-2015. Now that Baba, through a stroke of genius, has been able to divert the country’s attention away from the money and to his letter, we have to move quickly and discuss the sharing formula.”

“Your Excellency.”

“Yes, Mr. Fix It.”

“First I want to congratulate you for raising the fifty billion dollars.”

“I didn’t raise it o. Nne One and Nne Two did it. I only provided Presidential leverage.”

“Ah, Jona”

“Yes Baba”

“Sorry for interrupting you but how do you go about picking those your Nnes? One bought bulletproof BMWs for some cool dollars and another two have raised fifty billion dollars for 2015. Anyway, Mr. Fix It, you have no mouth to congratulate anybody o. When we put you in works, how much were you able to raise? Now ordinary women have raised fifty billion dollars and you are talking. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

“Baba, please let’s stay on point. General IBB, your opinion?”

“Well, President Jonathan, have you determined the traditional courtesy cut for us the elder statesmen here? How much is going to Baba, General Danjuma, General Abdulsalami, and I? And since General Integrity will never attend these meetings and will reject his share if we send it to him, we can add it to ours. So, as usual, we take our cut first and decide how to disburse the rest for 2015.”

“Yes, General IBB, in view of all the contending issues, I have fixed the traditional courtesy cut for you elders at ten billion dollars. As usual, you will work out the sharing formula among yourselves. We are left with a balance of forty billion dollars. Baba, I hope that works for you?”

“Jona, you know by now that no amount of money works for me but let me not be an agbaya. Let me agree this time. Now let’s move on to these noisemakers in the Northern Elders’ Forum. General Abubakar should handle that side.”

(General Abubakar turns to the representatives of the NEF and speaks)

“Folks, I’m a man of few words. Four years of waiting is nothing if you are busy investing ten billion dollars. Take ten billion dollars and bury your agitation for the Presidency to shift to the North in 2015. You don’t have to openly work for President Jonathan. Just go and get busy investing your share of the ten billion dollars and disappear from circulation. Remember that if you refuse to take this money, he has the might of the Nigerian state and will still rig that election anyway. Guys, grow a brain. Don’t lose both ways. Take ten billion dollars and advise the North to wait for 2019.”

“Okay, General Abdulsalami, we hear you. But this ten billion is for how many of us? Can the President add three oil blocks to it?”

“Alhaji, don’t push it. Ten billion and nothing more. It’s dollars o. The sharing formula is for you members of the executive of the Northern Elders Forum to decide when you get back to Kaduna.”

“Ok. We agree.”

“Your Excellency.”

“Yes, General Abdulsalami.”

“We have the north. Ten billion dollars.”

“Ok. Baba, shey you hear. We are down to thirty billion dollars.”

“Ehen, these rebel rascals, there are seven or eight of them?”

“Well, Baba, they are all here but I don’t know in what combination. They were seven. Then they were five and two, and then they were five and one and one. But we have seven of them here.”

“Jona”

“Yes Baba”

“Give them one billion each and let them go and sempe”

“Sempe?”

“Cool temper.”

“Ah, ok. That makes seven billion dollars. But Sule Lamido already cornered ten billion naira through his sons. Should he also get a billion dollars?”

“Jona, give those boys what I said. By the way, where is Rotimi? Rotimi! Rotimi!”

(Rotimi Amaechi approaches the centre of the room and kneels down. Baba addresses him)

“Ehen, Rotimi, your drama has gone on long enough.”

“Yes, I know, Baba.”

“You will leave this meeting with one billion dollars. The money is to organize your campaign for the Senate in 2015. Once you leave this meeting, go back to Port Harcourt and engineer how to lose your ongoing battle with the Presidency. You understand that the Presidency must not be seen to have lost out in a battle with a governor.”

“I understand Baba.”

“Okay, Jona, what else do you have for Rotimi.”

“In addition to the one billion dollars, he gets two oil blocks. He gets to continue his association openly with APC but must come back to us once he is elected to the Senate.”

“Rotimi, shey you hear President Jonathan. Do you agree?”

“I agree Baba.”

“Okay, go and arrange how Bipi will impeach you. Protest a little and disappear into APC. See you at the Senate in 2015. Jona, where are we?”

“Well, Baba, ten billion for Elder statesmen, ten billion for the Northern Elders Forum, seven billion for the rebels. That’s twenty-seven billion dollars.”

“Okay, we must earmark ten billion dollars for Bode George now that he is completely free to work for us again.”

“Haba Baba! Ten billion dollars for Bode George?”

“Jona, I think you are underestimating the importance of Lagos. Until we take that state, we cannot really say that we own Nigeria even if you win in 2015. You understand that the owner of the treasury of that state is singlehandedly financing APC and poking his rude finger in our noses all the time just because he owns that treasury? Whatever we do, we got to capture that treasury. Capturing the treasury of Lagos state is a do or die affair.”

“But Baba, we can always fly him here in the dead of night and cut another deal.”

“That will be another temporary solution. Bode is the only stormy petrel capable of handling him. But Bode needs money.”

“But Baba, what will ten billion dollars do? Do you know how much the man rakes in monthly from that treasury he owns in Lagos? Lamorde showed me his file last week and I nearly had a heart attack.”

“That is why you will give Bode five oil blocks in addition to the ten billion dollar mobilization fee. Besides, something will work for us. Sooner or later, the people of Lagos will get tired of their money being used to build a personal empire across the southwest. They will begin to insist that the money for Lagos must be spent exclusively on the development of Lagos. Once that happens, we move in for the kill.”

“Okay, Baba, ten billion for Bode George. So, we have run through thrity-seven billion dollars. What about Nne One and Nne Two?  Without the extraordinary work of those two women, we won’t be here.”

“Ah, yes, they tried. Encourage them with $1.5 billion each.”

“That’s three billion dollars. We are at forty billion dollars.”

“I think the whole house here would agree that the remaining ten billion dollars should be disbursed at your discretion, Mr. President.”

(Outside the room, some eavesdropping disgruntled aides whisper)

“Chei, Ruby.”

“Wetin now, Renoks?”

“You no hear? The money don remain ten billion dollars o.”

“Ehen?”

“What do you mean ehen?”

“They have not mentioned aides now. And the money don nearly finish. It takes billions to effectively monitor social media these days…”

“Haba, Renoks!”

“Wetin now, Oga Doyin, was I talking to you? I was talking to Oga Ruby.”

“Ole ni e. You are a thief. No respect for elders. Elders are sharing money that will guarantee your future here beyond 2015 and you are doing longa throat. Foolish boy.”

“At least nobody in Benue and Imo states has accused me of contract jibiti.”

“Ehn, Renoks, are you talking to me? Ruby, you are here and this small boy is insulting me? I will…”

(Madam Peshe’s voice screaming from the kitchen interrupts him)

“Renoks! Ruby! Doyin! Where are these boys when you need them? Renoks! Ruby! Doyin! Have you set the table?”

They all roar, “Yes Madam!!” and rush to the kitchen.

 

Source: Sahara Reporters

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2013 in Comic, Politics

 

Before It Is Too Late… A Letter From Ex-President Obasanjo To President Jonathan

His Excellency,

Dr. Goodluck E. Jonathan, GCFR,

President and Commnander-in-Chief

Of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,

Presidential Villa,

Asokoro, Abuja.

Dear Mr. President,

 

Before It Is Too Late…

I am constrained to make this an open letter to you for a number of reasons. One, the current situation and consequent possible outcome dictate that I should, before the door closes on reason and promotion of national interest, alert you to the danger that may be lurking in the corner. Two, none of the four or more letters that I have written to you in the past two years or so has elicited an acknowledgment or any response. Three, people close to you, if not yourself, have been asking, what does Obasanjo want?

Four, I could sense a semblance between the situation that we are gradually getting into and the situation we fell into as a nation during the Abacha era. Five, everything must be done to guard, protect and defend our fledgling democracy, nourish it and prevent bloodshed. Six, we must move away from advertently or inadvertently dividing the country along weak seams of North-South and Christian-Moslem. Seven, nothing should be done to allow the country to degenerate into economic dormancy, stagnation or retrogression.

Please continue, the contents of this letter is very important…

Eight, some of our international friends and development partners are genuinely worried about signs and signals that are coming out of Nigeria. Nine, Nigeria should be in a position to take advantage of the present favourable international interest to invest in Africa – an opportunity that will not be open for too long. Ten, I am concerned about your legacy and your climb-down which you alone can best be the manager of, whenever you so decide.

Mr. President, you have on a number of occasions acknowledged the role God enabled me to play in your ascension to power. You put me third after God and your parents among those that have impacted most on your life. I have always retorted that God only put you where you are and those that could be regarded as having played a role were only instruments of God to achieve God’s purpose in your life. For me, I believe that politically, it was in the best interest of Nigeria that you, a Nigerian from minority group in the South, could rise to the highest pinnacle of political leadership.

If Obasanjo could get there, Yar’Adua could get there and Jonathan can get there, any Nigerian can. It is now not a matter of the turn of any section or geographical area but the best interest of Nigeria and all Nigerians. It has been proved that no group – ethnic, linguistic, religious or geographical location – has monopoly of materials for leadership of our country. And no group solely by itself can crown any of its members the Nigerian CEO. It is good for Nigeria.

I have also always told you that God has graciously been kind, generous, merciful and compassionate to me and He has done more than I could have ever hoped for. I want nothing from you personally except that you should run the affairs of Nigeria not only to make Nigeria good, but to make Nigeria great for which I have always pleaded with you and I will always do so. And it is yet to be done for most Nigerians to see. 2

For five capacities in which you find yourself, you must hold yourself most significantly responsible for what happens or fails to happen in Nigeria and in any case, most others will hold you responsible and God who put you there will surely hold you responsible and accountable. I have had opportunity, in recent times, to interact closely with you and I have come to the conclusion painfully or happily that if you can shun yourself to a great extent of personal and political interests and dwell more on the national interest and also draw the line between advice from selfish and self-centered aides and advice from those who in the interest of the nation may not tell you what you will want to hear, it will be well.

The five positions which you share with nobody except with God and which place great and grave responsibility on you are leadership of the ruling party, headship of the Federal Government or national government, Commander-in-Chief of the Military, Chief Security Officer of the nation, and the political leader of the country. Those positions go with being the President of our country and while depending on your disposition, you can delegate or devolve responsibility, but the buck must stop on your table whether you like it or not.

Let me start with the leadership of the ruling party. Many of us were puzzled over what was going on in the party. Most party members blamed the National Chairman. I understand that some in the presidency tried to create the impression that some of us were to blame. The situation became clear only when the National Chairman spoke out that he never did anything or acted in any way without the approval or concurrence of the Party Leader and that where the Party Leader disapproved, he made correction or amendment, that we realised most actions were those of the Chairman but the motivation and direction were those of the Leader. It would be unfair to continue to level full blames on the Chairman for all that goes wrong with the Party. The Chairman is playing the tune dictated by the Paymaster. But the Paymaster is acting for a definitive purpose for which deceit and deception seem to be the major ingredients. Up till two months ago, Mr. President, you told me that you have not told anybody that you would contest in 2015. I quickly pointed out to you that the signs and the measures on the ground do not tally with your statement. You said the same to one other person who shared his observation with me. And only a fool would believe that statement you made to me judging by what is going on.

I must say that it is not ingenious. You may wish to pursue a more credible and more honourable path. Although you have not formally informed me one way or the other, it will be necessary to refresh your memory of what transpired in 2011. I had gone to Benue State for the marriage of one of my staff, Vitalis Ortese, in the State. Governor Suswam was my hospitable host. He told me that you had accepted a one-term presidency to allow for ease of getting support across the board in the North. I decided to cross-check with you. You did not hesitate to confirm to me that you are a strong believer in a one-term of six years for the President and that by the time you have used the unexpired time of your predecessor and the four years of your first term, you would have almost used up to six years and you would not need any more term or time.

Later, I heard from other sources including sources close to you that you made the same commitment elsewhere, hence, my inclusion of it in my address at the finale of your campaign in 2011 as follows:

“…PDP should be praised for being the only party that enshrines federal character, zoning and rotation in its Constitution and practises it. PDP has brought stability and substantial predictability to the polity and to the system. I do not know who will be President of Nigeria after Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. That is in the hand of God. But with PDP policy and practice, I can reasonably guess from where, in term of section of the country, the successor to President Jonathan will come. And no internal democracy or competition will thereby be destroyed.

The recent resort to sentiments and emotions of religion and regionalism is self-serving, unpatriotic and mischievous, to say the least. It is also preying on dangerous emotive issues that can ignite uncontrollable passion and can distabilise if not destroy our country. This is being oblivious to the sacrifices others have made in the past for unity, stability and democracy in Nigeria in giving up their lives, shedding their blood, and in going to prison. I personally have done two out of those three sacrifices and I am ready to do the third if it will serve the best interest of Nigerian dream. Let me appeal to those who have embarked on this dangerous road to reflect and desist from taking us on a perishable journey.

With common identity as Nigerians, there is more that binds us than separates us. I am a Nigerian, born a Yoruba man, and I am proud of both identities as they are for me complementary. Our duties, responsibilities and obligations to our country as citizens and, indeed, as leaders must go side by side with our rights and demands. There must be certain values and virtues that must go concomitantly with our dream. Thomas Paine said “my country is the world”; for me, my country I hold dear.

On two occasions, I have had opportunity to work for my successors to the government of Nigeria. On both occasions, I never took the easy and distabilising route of ethnic, regional or religious consideration, rather I took the enduring route of national, uniting and stabilising route. I worked for both President Shagari and President Yar’Adua to succeed me not just because they are Moslems, Northerners or Hausa-Fulani, but because they could strengthen the unity, stability and democracy in Nigeria. We incurred the displeasure of ethnic chauvinists for doing what was right for the country. That is in the nature of burden of leadership. A leader must lead, no matter whose ox is gored.

In the present circumstance, let me reiterate what I have said on a number of occasions. Electing Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in his own right and on his own merit, as the President of Nigeria will enhance and strengthen our unity, stability and democracy. And it will lead us towards the achievement of our Nigerian dream.

There is a press report that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has already taken a unique and unprecedented step of declaring that he would only want to be a one-term President. If so, whether we know it or not, that is a sacrifice and it is statesmanly. Rather than vilify him and pull him down, we, as a Party, should applaud and commend him and Nigerians should reward and venerate him. He has taken the first good step.

Let us encourage him to take more good steps by voting him in with landslide victory as the fourth elected President of Nigeria on the basis of our common Nigerian identity and for the purpose of actualising Nigerian dream…”

When you won the election, one of the issues you very early pursued was that of one term of six years. That convinced me that you meant what you told me before my Speech at the campaign. Mr. President, whatever may be your intention or plan, I cannot comment much on the constitutional aspect of your second term or what some people call third term. That is for both legal and judicial attention. But if constitutionally you are on a strong wicket if you so decide, it will be fatally and morally flawed. As a leader, two things you must cherish and hold dear among others are trust and honour both of which are important ingredients of character. I will want to see anyone in the Office of the Presidency of Nigeria as a man or woman who can be trusted, a person of honour in his words and character. I will respect you for upholding these attributes and for dignifying that Office.

Chinua Achebe said, “One of the truest test of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” It is a lesson for all leaders including you and me.

However, Mr. President, let me hope that as you claimed that you have not told anybody that you are contesting and that what we see and hear is a rumbling of overzealous aides, you will remain a leader that can be believed and trusted without unduly passing the buck or engaging in game of denials.

Maybe you also need to know that many party members feel disappointed in the double game you were alleged to play in support of party gubernatorial candidates in some States where you surreptitiously supported non-PDP candidates against PDP candidates in exchange for promise or act of those non-PDP Governors supporting you for your election in the past or for the one that you are yet to formally declare. It happened in Lagos in 2011 when Bola Tinubu was nocturnally brought to Abuja to strike a deal for support for your personal election at great price materially and in the fortune of PDP gubernatorial candidate.

As Chairman of BOT, I spoke to you at that time. It happened in Ondo State where there was in addition evidence of cover-up and non-prosecution of fraud of fake security report against the non-PDP candidate and his collaborators for the purpose of extracting personal electoral advantage for you. In fact, I have raised with you the story of those in other States in the South-West where some disgruntled PDP members were going around to recruit people into the Labour Party for you, because, for electoral purpose at the national level, Labour Party will have no candidate but you. It also happened in Edo State and those who know the detail never stopped talking about it. And you know it. Ditto in Anambra State with the fiasco coming from undue interference. If you as leader of the Party cannot be seen to be loyal to the PDP in support of the candidates of the Party and the interests of such Party candidates have to be sacrificed on the altar of your personal and political interest, then good luck to the Party and I will also say as I have had occasions to say in the past, good luck to Goodluck.

If on the altar of the Party you go for broke, the Party may be broken beyond repairs. And when in a dispute between two sides, they both stubbornly decide to fight to the last drop of blood, no one knows whose blood would be the last to drop. In such a situation, Nigeria as a nation may also be adversely affected, not just the PDP. I wish to see no more bloodshed occasioned by politics in Nigeria. Please, Mr. President, be mindful of that. You were exemplary in words when during the campaign and the 2011 elections, you said, “My election is not worth spilling the blood of any Nigerian.” From you, it should not be if it has to be, let it be. It should be from you, let peace, security, harmony, good governance, development and progress be for Nigeria. That is also your responsibility and mandate. You can do it and I plead that you do it. We all have to be mindful of not securing pyrrhic victory on the ashes of great values, attributes and issues that matter as it would amount to hollow victory without honour and integrity.

Whatever may be the feud in PDP and no matter what you or your aides may feel, you, as the Party Leader, have the responsibility to find solution, resolve and fix it. Your legacy is involved. If PDP as a ruling Party collapses, it will be the first time in an independent Nigeria that a ruling political party would collapse not as a result of a military coup. It is food for thought. At the prompting of Governors on both sides of the divide, and on encouragement from you, I spent two nights to intervene in the dispute of the PDP Governors. I kept you fully briefed at every stage.

I deliberately chose Banquet Hall at the Villa to ensure transparency. Your aides studied all the recordings of the two nights. But I told you at the end of the exercise that I observed five reactions among the Governors that required your immediate attention as you are the only one from the vantage point of your five positions that could deal effectively with the five reactions which were bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear and deep suspicion. I could only hope that you made efforts to deal with these unpleasant reactions.

The feud leading to the factionalisation of the Party made me to invite some select elders of the Party to mediate again. Since I was engaged in assignment outside the country, I was not able to join the three members of the elders group that presented the report of our mediation to you. I was briefed that you agreed to work on the report. It would appear that for now, the ball is in your court as the Leader of the Party. I can only wish you every success in your handling of the issue. But time is not your friend or that of the Party in this respect. With leadership come not just power and authority to do and to undo, but also responsibility and accountability to do and to undo rightly, well and justly. Time and opportunity are treasure that must be appreciated and shared to enhance their value and utilitarianism.

It is instructive that after half a dozen African Presidents have spoken to me to help you with unifying the Party based on your request to them and I came in company of Senator Amadu Ali to discuss the whole issue with you again, strangely, you denied ever requesting or authorising any President to talk to me. I was not surprised because I am used to such a situation of denial coming from you. Of course, I was not deterred. I have done and I will continue to do and say what is first, in the best interest of Nigeria and second, what is in the best interest of the Party. I stand for the aims, objectives, mission and vision of the founding fathers of the Party, to use it as a wholesome instrument of unity, good governance, development, prosperity and progress of Nigeria and all Nigerians. I have contributed to this goal in the past and no one who has been raised to position on the platform of the Party should shy away from further contribution to avoid division and destruction of the Party on any altar whatsoever.

Debates and dialogues are necessary to promote the interest and work for the progress of any human institution or organisation. In such a situation, agreements and disagreements will occur but in the final analysis, leadership will pursue the course of action that benefit the majority and serve the purpose of the organisation, not the purpose of an individual or a minority. In that process, unity is sustained and everybody becomes a winner. The so-called crisis in the PDP can be turned to an opportunity of unity, mutual understanding and respect with the Party emerging with enhanced strength and victory. It will be a win-win for all members of the Party and for the country. By that, PDP would have proved that it could have internal disagreement and emerge stronger. The calamity of failure can still be avoided. Please, move away from fringes or the extremes and move to the centre and carry ALL along. Time is running out.

I will only state that as far as your responsibility as Chief Security Officer of the nation is concerned for Nigerians, a lot more needs to be done to enhance the feeling of security amongst them. Whether one talks of the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta, the underlying causes of which have not been adequately addressed, if addressed at all, kidnapping, piracy, abductions and armed robberies which rather than abate are on the increase and Boko Haram which requires carrot and stick approach to lay its ghost to rest, the general security situation cannot be described as comforting. Knowing the genesis of Boko Haram and the reasons for escalation of violence from that sector with the widespread and ramification of the menace of Boko Haram within and outside the Nigerian borders, conventional military actions based on standard phases of military operations alone will not permanently and effectively deal with the issue of Boko Haram. There are many strands or layers of causes that require different solutions, approaches or antidotes. Drug, indoctrination, fundamentalism, gun trafficking, hate culture, human trafficking, money laundering, religion, poverty, unemployment, poor education, revenge and international terrorism are among factors that have effect on Boko Haram.

One single prescription cannot cure all these ailments that combine in Boko Haram. Should we pursue war against violence without understanding the root causes of the violence and applying solutions to deal with all underlying factors – root, stem and branches? Nigeria is bleeding and the hemorrhage must be stopped. I am convinced that you can initiate measures that will bring all hands on deck to deal effectively with this great menace.

Mr. President, the most important qualification for your present position is your being a Nigerian. Whatever else you may be besides being a Nigerian is only secondary for this purpose. And if majority of Nigerians who voted had not cast their votes for you, you could not have been there. For you to allow yourself to be “possessed”, so to say, to the exclusion of most of the rest of Nigerians as an ‘Ijaw man’ is a mistake that should never have been allowed to happen. Yes, you have to be born in one part of Nigeria to be a Nigerian if not naturalised, but the Nigerian President must be above ethnic factionalism. And those who prop you up as of, and for ‘Ijaw nation’ are not your friends genuinely, not friends of Nigeria nor friends of ‘Ijaw nation’, they tout about. To allow or tacitly encourage people of ‘Ijaw nation’ to throw insults on other Nigerians from other parts of the country and threaten fire and brimstone to protect your interest as an Ijaw man is myopic and your not openly quieting them is even more unfortunate. You know that I have expressed my views and feelings to you on this issue in the past but I have come to realise that many others feel the way I have earlier expressed to you. It is not the best way of making friendship among all sections of Nigeria. You don’t have shared and wholesome society without inclusive political, economic and social sustainable development and good governance. Also declaring that one section of the country voted for you as if you got no votes from other sections can only be an unnecessary talk, to put it mildly. After all and at the end of the day, democracy is a game of numbers. Even, if you would not need people’s vote across the country again, your political Party will.

Allegation of keeping over 1,000 people on political watch list rather than criminal or security watch list and training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely acquiring weapons to match for political purposes like Abacha, and training them where Abacha trained his own killers, if it is true, cannot augur well for the initiator, the government and the people of Nigeria. Here again, there is the lesson of history to learn from for anybody who cares to learn from history. Mr. President would always remember that he was elected to maintain security for all Nigerians and protect them. And no one should prepare to kill or maim Nigerians for personal or political ambition or interest of anyone. The Yoruba adage says, “The man with whose head the coconut is broken may not live to savour the taste of the succulent fruit.” Those who advise you to go hard on those who oppose you are your worst enemies. Democratic politics admits and is permissive of supporters and opponents. When the consequences come, those who have wrongly advised you will not be there to help carry the can. Egypt must teach some lesson.

Presidential assistance for a murderer to evade justice and presidential delegation to welcome him home can only be in bad taste generally but particularly to the family of his victim. Assisting criminals to evade justice cannot be part of the job of the Presidency. Or, as it is viewed in some quarters, is he being recruited to do for you what he had done for Abacha in the past? Hopefully, he should have learned his lesson. Let us continue to watch.

As Head of Government, the buck of the performance and non-performance stops on your table and let nobody tell you anything to the contrary. Most of our friends and development partners are worried and they see what we pretend to cover up. They are worried about issue of security internally and on our coastal waters, including heavy oil theft, alias bunkering and piracy. They are worried about corruption and what we are doing or not doing about it. Corruption has reached the level of impunity. It is also necessary to be mindful that corruption and injustice are fertile breeding ground for terrorism and political instability. And if you are not ready to name, shame, prosecute and stoutly fight against corruption, whatever you do will be hollow. It will be a laughing matter.

They are worried about how we play our role in our region and, indeed, in the world. In a way, I share some of their concerns because there are notable areas we can do more or do better than we are doing. Some of our development partners were politically frustrated to withdraw from the Olokola LNG project, which happily was not yet the same with the Brass. I initiated them both. They were viable and would have taken us close to Qatar as LNG producing country. Please do not frustrate Brass LNG and in the interest of what is best for Nigerian economy, bring back the OK LNG into active implementation. The major international oil companies have withheld investment in projects in Nigeria. If they have not completely moved out, they are divesting. Nigeria, which is the Saudi of Africa in oil and gas terms, is being overtaken by Angola only because necessary decisions are not made timely and appropriately. Mr. President, let me again plead with you to be decisive on the oil and gas sector so that Nigeria may not lag behind. Oil with gas is being discovered all over Africa. New technology is producing oil from shale elsewhere. We should make hay while the sun shines. I hope we can still save the OK and Brass LNG projects.

Three things are imperative in the oil and gas sector – stop oil stealing, encourage investment, especially by the IOCs and improve the present poor management of the industry. On the economy generally, it suffices to say that we could do better than we are doing. The signs are there and the expectations are high. The most dangerous ticking bomb is youth unemployment, particularly in the face of unbridled corruption and obscene rulers’ opulence.

Let me repeat that as far as the issue of corruption, security and oil stealing is concerned, it is only apt to say that when the guard becomes the thief, nothing is safe, secure nor protected in the house. We must all remember that corruption, inequity and injustice breed poverty, unemployment, conflict, violence and wittingly or unwittingly create terrorists because the opulence of the governor can only lead to the leanness of the governed. But God never sleeps, He is watching, waiting and bidding His time to dispense justice.

The serious and strong allegation of non-remittance of about $7bn from the NNPC to central bank occurring from export of some 300,000 barrels per day, amounting to $900 million a month, to be refined and with refined products of only $400m returned and Atlantic Oil loading about 130,000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on behalf of NPDC with no sale proceeds paid into NPDC account is incredible. The allegation was buttressed by the letter of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria to you on non-remittance to the central bank. This allegation will not fly away by non-action, cover-up, denial or bribing possible investigators. Please deal with this allegation transparently and let the truth be known.

The dramatis personae in this allegation and who they are working for will one day be public knowledge. Those who know are watching if the National Assembly will not be accomplice in the heinous crime and naked grand corruption. May God grant you the grace for at least one effective corrective action against high corruption, which seems to stink all around you in your government.

The international community knows us as we are and maybe more than we claim to know ourselves. And a good friend will tell you the truth no matter how bitter. Denials and cover-up of what is obvious, true and factual can detract from honour, dignity and respect. Truth and transparency dignify and earn respect. And life without passion for something can only achieve little. I was taken aback when an African Development Bank Director informed me that the water project for Port Harcourt, originally initiated by the Federal Government and to be financed by the bank, is being put in the cooler by the Federal Government because of the Amaechi-Jonathan face-off. Amaechi, whether he likes it or not, will cease to be governor over Rivers State, which Port Harcourt is part by the end of May 2015, but residents of Port Harcourt will continue to need improvement of their water supply. President Jonathan should rise above such pettiness and unpresidential act, if it is coming from him. But if not, and it is the action of overzealous officials reading the situation, he should give appropriate instruction for the project to be pursued. And there are other projects anywhere suffering the same coolness as a result of similar situation, let national interest supercede personal or political feud and the machinations of satanic officials.

Mr. President, let me plead with you for a few things that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. Don’t always consider critics on national issues as enemies. Some of them may be as patriotic and nationalistic as you and I who have been in government. Some of them have as much passion for Nigeria as we have. I saw that among Nigerians living abroad, hence, I initiated Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, NIDO. You must also differentiate between malevolent, mischievous and objective criticism. Analyses, criticisms and commentaries on government actions and policies are sinew of democracy.

Please, Mr. President, be very wary of assistants, aides and collaborators who look for enemies for you. I have seen them with you and some were around me when I was in your position. I knew how not to allow them create enemies for me. If you allow them, everybody except them will be your enemy. They are more dangerous than identified adversaries. May God save leaders from sycophants. They know what you want to hear and they feed you with it essentially for their own selfish interest. As far as you and Nigeria are concerned, they are wreckers. Where were they when God used others to achieve His will in your life. They possess you now for their interest. No interest should be higher or more important than the Nigerian interest to you. You have already made history and please do nothing to mar history. I supported you as I supported Yar’Adua. For me, there is neither North-South divide nor Christian-Moslem divide but one Nigeria.

Let me put it, that talks, loose and serious, abound about possible abuse and misuse of the military and the legitimate security apparatus for unwholesome personal and political interest to the detriment of the honour, dignity, oath and professionalism of these honourable and patriotic forces.

Let me urge the authorities not to embark on such destructive path for an important element of our national make-up. The roles of the military and the security agencies should be held sacrosanct in the best interest of the nation. Again, let not history repeat itself here.

I believe that with what Nigeria went through in the past, the worst should have already happened. It must be your responsibility as the captain of the ship to prevent the ship from going aground or from a shipwreck. For anybody close to you saying that if the worst happens, he or she would not be involved is idle and loose talk. If we leave God to do His will and we don’t rely only on our own efforts, plans and wisdom, God will always do His best. And the power of money and belief in it is satanically tempting. As I go around Nigeria and the world, I always come across Nigerians who are first-class citizens of the world and who are doing well where they are and who are passionate to do well for Nigeria. My hope for our country lies in these people. They abound and I hope that all of us will realise that they are the jewels of Nigeria wherever they may be and not those who arrogate to themselves eternal for ephemeral.

Also, to my embarrassment at times, I learned more about what is going on in the public and private sectors of Nigeria from our development partners, international institutions and those transacting business in Nigeria most times I was abroad. On returning home to verify the veracity of these stories, I found some of them not only to be true but more horrifying than they were presented abroad. Other countries look up to Nigeria for regional leadership. Failure on the part of Nigeria will create a schism that will be bad for the region.

Knowing what happens around you, most of which you know of and condone or deny, this letter will provoke cacophony from hired and unhired attackers but I will maintain my serenity because by this letter, I have done my duty to you as I have always done, to your government, to the Party, PDP, and to our country, Nigeria. If I stuck out my neck and God used me and others as instrument to work hard for you to reach where you are today in what I considered the best political interest of Nigeria, tagging me as your enemy or the enemy of your administration by you, your kin or your aides can only be regarded as ridiculous to extreme. If I see any danger to your life, I will point it out to you or ward it off as I have done in the past.

But I will not support what I believe is not in the best interest of Nigeria, no matter who is putting it forward or who is behind it. Mr. President, I have passed the stage of being flattered, intimidated, threatened, frightened, induced or bought. I am never afraid to agree or disagree but it will always be on principles, and if on politics, in the national interest. After my prison experience in the close proximity of and sharing facilities with an asylum in Yola, there is nothing worse for anyone alive and well. And that was for a military dictator to perpetuate himself in power. Death is the end of all human beings and may it come when God wills it to come. The harassment of my relations and friends and innuendo that are coming from the Government security apparatus on whether they belong to new PDP or supporters of defected Governors and which are possibly authorised or are the work of overzealous aides and those reading your lips to act in your interest will be counter-productive. It is abuse of security apparatus. Such abuse took place last in the time of Abacha.

Lies and untruths about me emanating from the presidency is too absurd to contemplate. Saying that I recommended a wanted criminal by UK and USA authorities to you or your aides to supplant legitimately elected PDP leader in South-West is not only unwise and crude but also disingenuous. Nobody in his or her right senses will believe such a story and surely nobody in Ogun State or South-West zone will believe such nonsense. It is a clear indication of how unscrupulous and unethical the presidency can go to pursue your personal and political interest. Nothing else matters. What a pity! Nothing at this stage of my life would prevent me from standing for whatever I consider to be in the best interest of Nigeria – all Nigeria, Africa and the world in that order. I believe strongly that a united and strong PDP at all costs is in the best interest of Nigeria. In these respects, if our interests and views coincide, together we will march. Putting a certified unashamed criminal wanted abroad to face justice and who has greatly contributed to corruption within the judiciary on a high profile of politics as you and your aides have done with the man you enthrone as PDP Zonal leader in the South-West is the height of disservice to this country politically and height of insult to the people of South-West in general and members of PDP in that zone in particular.

For me, my politics goes with principles and morality and I will not be a party to highly profiling criminals in politics, not to say one would be my zonal leader. It destroys what PDP stands for from its inception…

God is never a supporter of evil and will surely save PDP and Nigeria from the hands of destroyers. If everything fails and the Party cannot be retrieved from the hands of criminals and commercial jobbers and discredited touts, men and women of honour, principles, morality and integrity must step aside to rethink.

Let me also appeal to and urge defected, dissatisfied, disgruntled and in any way displeased PDP Governors, legislators, party officials and party members to respond positively if the President seriously takes the initiative to find mutually agreeable solution to the current problems for which he alone has the key and the initiative. I have heard it said particularly within the presidency circle that the disaffected Governors and members of PDP are my children. I begin to wonder if, from top to bottom, any PDP 15 member in elective office today is not directly or indirectly a beneficiary and, so to say, my political child. Anyone who may claim otherwise will be like a river that has forgotten its source. But like a good father, all I seek is peaceful and amicable solution that will re-unite the family for victory and progress of the family and the nation and nothing else.

In a democracy, leaders are elected to lighten the burden of the people, give them freedom, choice and equity and ensure good governance and not to deceive them, burden them, oppress them, render them hopeless and helpless. Nothing should be done to undermine the tenets, and values of democratic principles and practice. Tyranny in all its manifestation may be appealing to a leader in trying times of political feud or disagreement. Democracy must, however, prevail and be held as sacrosanct. Today, you are the President of Nigeria, I acknowledge you and respect you as such.

The act of an individual has a way of rubbing off on the generality.

May it never be the wish of majority of Nigerians that Goodluck Jonathan, by his acts of omission or commission, would be the first and the last Nigerian President ever to come from Ijaw tribe. The idea and the possibility must give all of us food for thought. That was never what I worked for and that would never be what I will work for. But legacy is made of such or the opposite.

My last piece of advice, Mr. President, is that you should learn the lesson of history and please do not take Nigeria and Nigerians for granted.

Move away from culture of denials, cover-ups and proxies and deal honesty, sincerely and transparently with Nigerians to regain their trust and confidence. Nigerians are no fools, they can see, they can hear, they can talk among themselves, they can think, they can compare and they can act in the interest of their country and in their own self-interest. They keenly watch all actions and deeds that are associated with you if they cannot believe your words. I know you have the power to save PDP and the country. I beg you to have the courage and the will with patriotism to use the power for the good of the country. Please uphold some form of national core values. I will appeal to all Nigerians particularly all members of PDP to respect and dignify the Office of the President. We must all know that individuals will come and go but the Office will remain.

Once again, time is of the essence. Investors are already retreating 16 from Nigeria, adopting ‘wait and see attitude’ and knowing what we are deficient of, it will take time to reverse the trend and we may miss some golden opportunities.

Finally, your later-day conversion into National Conference is fraught with danger of disunity, confusion and chaos if not well handled. I believe in debate and dialogue but it must be purposeful, directed and managed well without ulterior motives. The ovation has not died out yet and there is always life after a decent descent.

Accept, Dear Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration.

PS

I crave your indulgence to share the contents of this letter, in the first instance, with General Ibrahim Babangida and General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who, on a number of occasions in recent times, have shared with me their agonising thoughts, concerns and expressions on most of the issues I have raised in this letter concerning the situation and future of our country. I also crave your indulgence to share the contents with General Yakubu Danjuma and Dr. Alex Ekwueme, whose concerns for and commitments to the good of Nigeria have been known to be strong.

The limit of sharing of the contents may be extended as time goes on.

Source:  Business Day

@Femiolas

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Opinion, Politics

 
 
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