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Nigeria needs an angry President



By Late Prince (Dr) Samuel Ibiyemi Founding Publisher, Nigerian NewsDirect

First published: December 12, 2011

My fellow country men, it is time for Nigeria to have an angry President. This was my statement in Doha immediately it was time for question and answer time when Qatar Minister of Energy finished his opening speech to commemorate the commencement of plenary session during the World Petroleum Congress that took place in Doha, Qatar between December 4 and 8. I asked the wrong question at a gathering meant to discuss global issues in the oil and gas industry but unfortunately our federal lawmakers expected to join us at the plenary session were still on their flight from Nigeria. Those I have around were mainly those from the grade of general managers below in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and indigenous oil producers. I asked the wrong question because all foreign journalists underestimated the ability of Qatar government to put necessary infrastructures and facilities needed to host a befitting World Petroleum Congress when the Petroleum Council (WPC) insisted on Qatar as the next host of the World Petroleum Congress in 2008 in Madrid, Spain. I also became a nuisance with my question because I had a terrible experience during my departure which started with potholes along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway that damaged the borejoint of my car on my way to the airport and the extreme heat at the conveyor belt leading to the entrance of the aircraft at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.

I asked the wrong question because it is only in Nigeria that oil revenue has remained as a curse for the nation. I was offered another opportunity to ask another question and here it is, “Sir, where did you get the money to construct all these edifices, good roads and airports?” This question looked attractive and delegates in the auditorium murmured and ushers gave me the signal that I had utilised my opportunity to ask a question but were resisted by those on the high table.

Howeer, I received an answer frm Qatar’s Minister of Energy and this was vision, disciplie and  political will. But I beame more interested as the Minister was eager for anther question and quickly I stumbled on it, but my question again was an embarrassment to many delegates from Nigeria. They had expected me as an oil and gas reporter to ask questions relating to incentives for investors in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry. Here was my third question, “Your Excellency, after 20 years in office as the Minister of Energy. Can you list the number of probes initiated by the parliament over projects awarded and where did you raise money to finance these capital intensive projects?” His simple answer was: “The private sector contributed the fund and the beautiful convention centre hosting the World Petroleum Congress is the initiative of the government but financed by the private sector based on TRUST.” Then, I was happy that the message was clear to all our delegates from Nigeria and other African countries that oil revenue will no longer remain as a curse if we do the right thing and that is giving more opportunities to the private sector regardless of the complex challenges of ethnic and religious sentiments responsible for the high level of corrupt practices. Of course, the private sector will invest in Nigeria if the government will utilise oil revenue judiciously for the construction of roads, bridges, power stations, hospitals and other amenities that will make them recoup their investment without spending extra naira on purchase of generators as alternative source of electricity generation in offices.

When I had satisfied myself with these questions, I apologised for what myself and my colleagues said at Madrid in 2008 that the World Petroleum Council must have collected bribes for granting approval for hosting the 20th World Petroleum Congress in Qatar. It was not that we underestimated Qatar because even at that time, the country was already recognised as a nation with committed leaders based on good utilisation of its oil and gas revenue for the development of the country. Our mistake at that time was our failure to read the history of Qatar and track record of the leaders. Now, Qatar Airways is the pride of the country for beating tough competition in the aviation industry to earn many international awards and accolades including the highly coveted Airline of the Year trophy at the 2011 World Airline awards. As Qatar heads towards the hosting of the football World Cup in 2022, Qatar Airways has also placed 250 new aircrafts on order. New Doha International Airport project which gulped $14.5 billion will add a vital component to the country’s infrastructure. The response of all companies to the commitment of Qatar’s government to infrastructure development is that they are falling on each other to make investment in all the sectors of the oil and gas industry. This is the opposite of what is happening in Nigeria such that despite several foreign trips of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to woo foreign investors, the likes of Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil refused to invest in the establishment of private refineries in Nigeria. Whereas the same Shell in partnership with Qatar Petroleum have established Qatar as the Gas to Liquids (GTL) Capital of the World. This is equipped with the state-of-the-art technology and innovative engineering Pearl GTL converts natural gas from Qatar’s North field into higher quality and more efficient liquid fuels for cars and airplanes, base oils for lubricants and feed stocks for chemicals and detergents. According to an advertorial by Shell, “Over 52,000 people worked 500 million hours to deliver this world’s largest integrated gas to liquids project.”

Unfortunately, till today in Nigeria there is no solution to local refining of petroleum products and President Goodluck Jonathan is insisting on removal of fuel subsidy. This is considered a good option for Nigeria which I am in support of the implementation in order to save in future huge revenue of over N3.65 trillion spent on fuel subsidy in the last four years. This removal however will only bring benefits to the country if the implementation is postponed for another three years and this period is utilised for the construction of NNPC Greenfield refineries in partnership with the private sector in order to ensure that crude of being produced in Nigeria will serve as feedstock in order to cut down on cost of output and pump price.

Is this not a good reason why we need an angry president in Nigeria? President Jonathan should read on his own and visit the Emir of Qatar and not necessarily what the advisers recommend. He should spend his next vacation not with the First Lady but in the library of the Emir of Qatar The Senate and the House of Representatives should constitute fact-finding delegation led by Senate President David Mark and the Speaker Tambuwal to see how the Parliament in Qatar has been able to drive the achievements recorded within a short period. We should not forget that Qatar had no electricity as at 1972 as a nation but today, it enjoys 24 hours electricity in excess supply. Our lawmakers should find out how it was made possible for the government to put in place compulsory monthly payment of 5,000 Riyals to all indigenes in higher institutions.

It is also necessary to find out why the government allows only Goodluck Jonathan to allow only foreigners to sell and drink alcohol, at the same time making it a criminal offence and jail sentence to sell alcohol to Qataris.

To be continued next week…


Ogun Govt sympathises with victims of Ado Odo/Ota over rainstorm destruction



…’We’re in touch with IBEDC for prompt action’

Ogun State  Government said it  is in touch with the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) to ensure the immediate fixing of poles damaged as a result of rainstorm occasioned by Sunday’s downpour in some parts of Sango in Ado Odo/Ota Local Government Area of the state.

The government, in a statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media, Hon. Kayode Akinmade said a team from the state government was in the area on Monday to physically ascertain the extent of damage and to know how to engage with IBEDC, as well as sympathising with victims.

Akinmade noted the cables had not been energised before the destruction, which saved lots of lives.

“Our team went on physical site inspection of the affected area on Monday to ascertain the extent of the damage and to know how to engage with the IBEDC team.

“We are currently working with the IBEDC team led by the Regional Manager and the Technical Head for the Ogun Region. Some of the less affected feeders have been restored and energised while the clean-up of the most affected areas has already started.

“Most of the poles on the roads have been removed while the remaining will be taken out today (Wednesday). We are working with IBEDC to ensure there will be full restoration of power in Sango Ota before the week runs out.

“The government is not relenting in its effort to make sure that we restore power to Sango Ota and its environs and we can assure the citizens that we are on top on the matter.

“We, therefore, commiserate with those whose properties were destroyed by the fallen poles, as the government urged those living in the area to remain calm.”

Residents of lyana lyesi, Osuke Town, Egan Road, lyana Ilogbo, Ijaba, Ijagba, Itele, Lafenwa, Singer, Joju, Alishiba, Oju Ore, Tollgate, Eledi, Akeja, Abebi, Osi Roundabout, Ota Town, Ota Industrial Estate, Igberen, lju, Atan, Onipanu, Obasanjo, Lusada, Arigba, Odugbe, Ado-Odo, Igbesa, Owode. Olokuta, Hanushi, Bamtish Camp Lufiwape, Eltees Farm, August Engineering, Spark Cear Soap Ayetoro, Amazing Grace Oil, Christopher University, Royal Garden Estate were affected by the disaster.

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Ortom urges Alia to work with SGF for more democracy dividends in Benue



By Titus Atondu, Makurdi

The former Governor of Benue State, Chief Samuel Ortom, has called on his successor, Governor Hyacinth Alia to work in synergy  with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), Sen George Akume for sustainable democracy dividends to the state.

 Ortom made the call in Makurdi  while speaking at the public lecture organised by his former aides on the occasion of his 63rd birthday.

Ortom described Sen George Akume as a true father, his leader and mentor and attributed all his achievements in life to the SGF.

He  also thanked Governor Hyacinth Alia for his good will message on his birthday and warned that Benue state has not had the position of SGF in the past and called on Governor Alia to embrace and work with him to enable the state to benefit from the position.

“Benue is our state, we have no other state and no one will come from anywhere to bring peace to Benue.

“Alia must sheathe his sword and find ways to work with the SGF so that all of us can enjoy the dividends of that position,” Ortom maintained.

He noted that elections were conducted and won, litigation were entered and God gave him victory saying, “It is his responsibility to do the needful so that Benue state will be at peace.”

Ortom expressed worry  that Benue is under siege and the governor alone or the SGF and himself cannot fight it alone without working collectively. He therefore noted that, “We are available if we are called upon to support or add value to the peace efforts of the government so that our people can live and enjoy the dividends of democracy.”

He  enjoined Benue people to pray for their leaders, Ortom said, “If I had my way, I would have given everyone the opportunity to be the Governor even in a few days.

“The challenges are enormous. You would not understand the challenges we go through but when you are there, you will understand the issues better.

“Nigeria is passing through very difficult times and that was what I was fighting against and I’m happy that people appreciated what we were doing,” he explained.

He appreciated his former appointees for organising the celebration of his 63 birthday anniversary in his honour.

“I’m very humbled by this special lecture on my 63 birthday celebration. This is not my first but this is the first time I’m witnessing a lecture and I must say that I’m pleased and enriched with all that was said here.

“I was taken unawares. You have made me know that I am appreciated. I thought I was used and dumped. I’m grateful to God for the eight years in office. I did everything with the fear of God, with equity, justice and fairness.

“I must have stepped on toes and those I know and those I didn’t know, I ask for forgiveness. I am humbled by this programme and further encouraged by your presence, kind words and prayers,” Ortom testified.

Guest Lecturer, Prof Samuel Aghalino, in the department of History and International Studies, University of Ilorin who is also the President Historical Society of Nigeria said, “Ortom was that Governor with a face cap. Anyone with a face cap is a revolutionary.

“Ortom played a significant role in extending politics beyond the borders of the state.

“He is one of the few politicians that stood in defense of his people, and was passionate in standing for human value while also demonstrating uncommon leadership.

“He was committed to the wellbeing of his people and stood vehemently, against the then government for murdering justice, fairness, equity and accountability, adding that Ortom expressed a rare readiness to cooperate with the investigations.

“He was a servant leader at a great cost to himself. At a time, during the Buhari administration, the doors of Aso Rock, the seat of power was shut against him for speaking the truth to power and holding the powerful accountable. I wonder how he survived.

“Ortom believes that politicians do not have to strive to be perfect to provide good governance to the people because only God is perfect. In his mind, you only have to love the people, therefore when it comes to democratic considerations, Ortom represents the school of thought that existence must take precedence over essence in governance.”

He said Ortom will be remembered by his people for the numerous things he has done and still doing.

Nigerian NewsDirect reports that the lecture was graced by prominent personalities like the former Attorney General of the federation and minister of Justice, Mike Aondakaa, Speaker, Plateau State House of Assembly, Gabriel Dewan, Member representing Apa-Agatu Federal Constituency, Pastor, Ojotu Ojema, Former Deputy Governor, Engr Benson Abounu, representatives of the Tor Tiv, Professor James Ayatse, Ter Gwer Dominic Akpete, the Ochidoma, Ogabaidu John Elaigwu represented by Dr Chris Ijale among others

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Katsina Gov. tasks corps members on nation building, cultism



By Matthew Denis

The Governor of Katsina State, Mallam Dikko Umaru Radda has tasked National Youth Service Corps members deployed to the State for the one year national service to strive towards nation building.

This is contained in a statement signed by Director, Press and Public Relations, Eddy Megwa, to the governor and made available to journalists on Wednesday.

He also lauded the immense contributions of successive batches of corps members to the socio-economic development of Katsina State over the years, especially through corps members community development service projects and also increasing the manpower needs in schools and in the industrial sector across the State.

Governor Raddah disclosed this at the NYSC Katsina State Orientation Camp, while speaking through his Deputy, Alhaji Farouk Lawal Jobe during the swearing-in ceremony of the prospective corps members deployed to the State.

The Governor urged the corps members to embrace the opportunities of the orientation course to prepare themselves for leadership responsibilities.

“I challenge you to live up to the standard already set by your predecessors. It is my belief that the orientation lectures will stimulate you to strive for the socio-economic development of our country.

“I urge you to see the opportunity of your call to service as a rare opportunity and your commitment to the Oath of Allegiance to your fatherland”, he said.

He also advised the corps members to shun cultism, political and religious intolerance with other forms of anti-social behaviour.

The NYSC Katsina State Coordinator, Hajiya Aisha Muhammad in her address stated that the orientation course is the first among the cardinal programmes of the NYSC, which was designed to prepare corps members for the challenges of the service year and beyond.

She added that the orientation course, which is a regimented environment has over the years been able to inculcate in the youth, the spirit of positive citizenship, leadership values including the ideals of commitment to national assignment, patriotism, integrity, diligence and loyalty to the fatherland.

“I enjoin you to obey all camp rules and regulations as any erring corps member will be referred to the Camp court for appropriate sanctions in line with the provision of the NYSC by-laws,” She added.

The Coordinator also said a total of 1,410 prospective corps members comprising 715 males and 695 females were deployed to the State.

The Director General of National Youth Service Corps, Brigadier General YD Ahmed who was among the dignitaries that witnessed the swearing-in ceremony earlier in the day implored the corps members to take full advantage of the NYSC Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme and acquire at least a skill while in camp.

The DG added that skills acquisition is the remedy to the increasing youth unemployment in the country.

General Ahmed who urged the corps members to be security conscious at all times also advised them to obey the cultural beliefs of their host communities.

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