Thursday, 25 September 2008

Ogbulafor Is Obstacle To Peace In Anambra

Chuks Akunna, aide of Andy Ubah, former special adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on domestic matters, spoke to Gerald Eze and Okechukwu Jombo on the protracted crisis of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Anambra State

There seem to be no love lost between the national chairman of PDP, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor and your boss, Andy Uba. What is actually the problem between these two personalities?

Well, I think Ogbulafor will be in a better state to answer that question. Like I said before, if while taking an office your aim is to use that office to settle personal scores then you have abused that office. Do you know that since Ogbulafor became national chairman of PDP, he has not called the former president Olusegun Obasanjo on phone? This is somebody who took him from APP, from obscurity and made him a first class minister and from minister to national secretary of PDP. Of course, we all know why his exco left in a very controversial circumstance which was not too decent. But now, he becomes national chairman and his obsession has become to do away with Obasanjo and his former assistant, Andy Uba, and that is the problem and I mean it if I don't have proof .
I wouldn't say he had cause to complain to certain senators, members of the national working committee and some governors that Andy hurt him and that he was going to revenge. And unless there is a divine intervention, Prince Ogbulafor will not desist from witch hunting these two Nigerians.

What do you have to say about the argument on the part of Ogbulafor that they are trying to restore internal democracy in PDP especially in Anambra State.

Ogbulafor does not understand what internal democracy is all about because he has never won any election in his life. You recall in 1998 he ran against Orji Kalu on APP platform and lost. When the matter was in court, he sold out and ended up as minister for economic planning and from there he went and became appointed as PDP national secretary and, of course recently was appointed national chairman. If Ogbulafor is talking about internal democracy, I challenge him to tell me how many votes he secured to become national chairman or national secretary of PDP. He was not elected so I challenge him on that; he is not in any way qualified to talk about democracy. It's unfortunate because politics is about reality, about the majority having their way while the minority will continue to have their say. Let us look at America for instance, Clinton scored 18 million votes, she is also popular among the democrats but Obama became the flag bearer and as soon as Obama became the flag bearer she puts herself into line. She didn't even allow counting to be completed. That is the way any good person does. There was a governorship primary in Anambra, Andy Uba emerged, he scored the highest number of votes among any PDP aspirants in Nigeria. When he emerged, he quickly became PDP leader in Anambra State. So if you don't like that you wait till next guber primary and you emerge.

Uba rejected the Chuma Nwafor and Nwobodo committees and now Jerry Gana. What is the problem; who does Andy Uba want as chairman of that reconciliation committee?

Let's get these things straight. Even before the Nwobodo committee, Andy Uba had approached Ogbulafor, 'let us sit down and talk, let us reconcile.' But Ogbulafor thought that as the national chairman of the party, as a chief executive of PDP he could do and undo. With that mindset he went to work; and if you watch the people in the two committees they are all his cronies; they are people who have vested interest in Anambra State for or against Andy Uba. Even in law court, if you appoint somebody in a jury or there is a judge handling a matter and it is established that he has any relationship whatsoever with the litigant he excuses himself. In the case of Anambra that wasn't the case. These were people who had invested interest in Anambra and yet they went ahead and took the assignment. Let me ask you, why did the committees fail? Did Andy ever go there to stop them from holding election? They went ahead to have congress (but) Andy didn’t participate because if he had participated they will say his thugs went to destroy things. What happened? It ended up in disaster. For the Jerry Gana committee, we said fine some of the members in the committee, with due respect, do not have the moral right to talk about reconciliation because their home states are in more urgent needs for reconciliation; you can't get water out of stone. We are peace lovers. Andy Uba felt very willing to meet with the committee and hear them out as long as it doesn't interfere with the on going justice system. But like I said whoever is talking about restructuring must take cognisance of the tradition, weather you like it or not that as the governor or the guber candidate of the party, that you are the leader of the party. If you hold congress a million times there are people who will still come out and say they are still aggrieved. If everybody was satisfied with PDP there will be nobody in other parties. So if you hold congresses a billion times, some people will still come up and say no we are not satisfied. Does that imply that PDP will have to wait for these people?

Will the removal of Ogbulafor as chairman of the party be the solution to the problem?

It is for the PDP convention to decide whether Ogbualafor stays or not but having said that, the NWC has 12 members, Ogbualafor is just one member of the working committee. Let him step aside from the Anambra case let other people take charge. If he wants this crisis to be resolved why not wash his hand off Anambra. If other members of the NWC handle this crisis, in no time it will be resolved because the obstacle to peace in Anambra State is Ogbualafor.

Like I said, if not for the fact that Anambra is a goldmine why does Ogbualafor have special interest? Abia State (his home state) is PPA. I thought that charity should begin at home; Abia State should be more secured for PDP. So the task before Ogbualafor will be to return Abia State to PDP. Every thing that concerns Anambra he has always taken a special interest in it.

Dr. Alex Ekwueme, one of the founding fathers of PDP is from Anambra State, why can't Andy Uba, for the sake of Ekwueme allow peace to return to the state chapter of PDP?

With due respect, Ekwueme has never been known to take any position on issues concerning Anambra State. Don't forget that Mbadinuju was his S.A. and Ekwueme was instrumental in making Mbadinuju governor and you and I know the crisis that went on through Mbadinuju’s tenure, not for once did he say anything. In fact, I asked him a question the day he came to declare his presidential ambition known at Sheraton Hotel, I asked him a question: 'sorry sir, you want to rule Nigeria, your own state is on fire you have not taken any position.' If you watch through this crisis Ekwueme has never said anything. We should ask him why he has never said anything about Anambra State. Even during Ngige tenure he has never said anything. I think he is a naturally taciturn person.

A couple of days ago I had the pleasure of meeting the former chairman, Tony Nwoye; he was one of the people who seem to be very close to Andy Uba and suddenly they seems to have fallen apart. When he spoke he spoke very sadly that Andy Uba has the tendency of using people and dumping them that was what led to their problem and that it will never be solved until he changes his style. What do you have to say about that?

I don't know what is use and dump, I mean if you allowed yourself to be used or anybody who allowed himself to be used should also anticipate that he will be dumped. Tony Nwaoye is my friend, somebody I hold very high; we even spoke yesterday. I think the disagreement was that Andy called him and said the minister is from the north, it is not good for the chairmanship to remain in the north, at least let it go to the south since the (north) central has the speaker. Andy Uba is from the south and he is not governor so the chairmanship can afford to remain there. Tony Nwoaye is not minister, so you don't expect him to be happy about that development; it is just a political reality.

It seems that Andy Uba is afraid of his own shadow. He is fighting at all fronts. He caused the arrest of his brother, Chris on the eve of the controversial election last year. Why is Andy fighting almost everybody?

Though they have their family problem but if you go about telling people and boasting that I will do this I will do that, anybody who is supposed to participate in anything has a right or is obliged to report such person to the police. If the police conduct opinion that such (person) may cause threat to peace the police will not folds their arms, they will keep such person in custody. Andy Uba is a very reserved person. He might have his shortcomings. Of course he is a human being but I don't think such qualities (of fighting everybody) should be attributed to him.

People are saying that Andy’s plan is to plant somebody who will protect his interest against 2010 whereas the Supreme Court says there was no election in Anambra State in 2007.

Let us be objective, if you are going to sit for exam and somebody says he can get you the answer sheet I am not sure you will say no. The struggle like you rightly said is that Andy Uba wants to put people there; all these other people who are also fighting are not doing so because they are saints or they are doing that for humanitarian services.

Row Over Guard Uniforms

The use of replica uniforms by some private security guards with military agencies is provoking some debates among the people

By Anita Ochoga

Jessica, a Briton who was on a visit to Nigeria was surprised to observe 'naval personnel' guarding one of the banks in the country. At first, she attributed this to the militancy in the Niger Delta region. But on a second thought, Jessica enquired from her host why 'naval personnel' should leave the sea and be guarding a finance house.

Obviously Jessica may not be the only one who usually mistakes private guards with any of the military outfits. Investigations by this magazine on the uniforms of some private guard companies show similarity with the Nigerian navy or the army. For instance, the uniform of the private guard company manning the premises of Bank PHB is a replica to Nigeria Navy. The same with Soltan Security guarding the premises of AMAC Plaza in Wuse zone 3. Main Guard Company, a registered private company based in Jos, Plateau State adopts a replica of Nigeria Army uniform as its uniform. The company is said to be owned by a retired Air Force officer. The uniform of another private guard, Vigil Security is a replica of the Nigeria Air force. All these are in contravention of the Act establishing private guard companies in the country.

A staff at the public affairs department of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, told Newsworld highly connected people do not bother to follow due process in the registration of their guard companies. According to him, with just one phone call, the deed is done, and nobody bothers to know if the laid down procedure is observed thereafter.

Act No 6 section 3 of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (Amendment) Act 2007 gives the NSCDC power to register, and from time to time, inspect the premises of private guard companies, their training facilities and approve same if it is up to standard. It also empowers the agency to supervise and monitor the activities of all private guard companies and keep a register for that purpose as well as seal up any private guard company which operates without a valid licence.

These, to many Nigerians may be observed in breach. A staff of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Mrs. Chi-Chi Augustine told Newsworld that children no longer know the difference between a private security personnel and Nigeria military. Sunday Obima, a police officer said it is high time the civil defence reviewed the registered uniform used by private guard companies since some of them conflict with that of the federal security agencies.

A senior army officer at the Mogadishu Barrack accused the civil defence of compromising its responsibilities. He described the conflict in uniform as an embarrassment to the country. “This is what you see in democratic rule; if it were military regime no private security company could try to insult the sensibilities of the federal (security) agencies.”

The Anatomy Of Adultery And Violence (7)

Last week, we started our discoveries on the moral consequences that come with sexual sin and its cover ups. The first cover-up we discussed was: “Let's conceal and cover-up the identity of the real father”. We also discovered the second cover-up as: if the real father cannot be concealed, then “Let's push the responsibility to someone else”. Thirdly, death or murder as an option at times is considered as the best way out.

“And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die. And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were. And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also.” (2Sam. 11:14-17)

Very few people know that the passion that seizes men and leads them to steal other people's wives is bound up with the cruelty that plots the murder of a human life. David in his wildest imagination would never have imagined that what went between him and Bathsheba could develop to the magnitude of having and considering an option of killing her husband. That is how immorality must be seriously eschewed by this generation if some crimes, corruptions and evils or wickedness must be curbed.

The fourth consequence is that adultery and fornication displease God.
“And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” (2Sam. 11:27)
Whatever displeases God the creator of the human spirit, soul and body must be harmful to mankind. There will be grave consequences when we disobey Him and do what displeases Him.

Fifthly, immorality never builds stable homes in which children can feel secure. It leads to lies, deception and violence. The guilt destroys a man and woman physically, emotionally and spiritually. When violent death is involved as an option or abortion, the scars are not easily healed for life. So the Bible warns:
“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2Ti. 2:22)
Let's continue our discussion on why people commit immorality. Remember we started discussing on the consequences under a third reason why people commit adultery namely: It is because people have chosen and will always choose to forget God's command-“you shall not commit adultery.” (Exod. 20:14)
The fourth reason is doubting God's goodness in the midst of plenty, which makes a man to focus on sex other than channeling his energy to some other great endeavors, fields or issues of life. He (serpent) said to the woman,
“Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1b)

The woman's attention suddenly was shifted to that tree, which she later ate of its fruit. But mind you, there were many other trees for food that God had granted them access to. History has never changed. We are always after things that are forbidden leading to our destruction or heavy shame and regrets.

Fifthly, being desperate to get married. Some singles do everything immoral to keep men or women they intend to marry. Some do so for financial gains and end up being trapped. The Bible again warns:
“Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.” (Prov. 9:17-18)

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” (Prov. 22:3)
It is the case of the proverbial frog in a pot of cold water but on glowing coals of fire. Very soon this frog will be killed when the true heat threatens.
Finally, there is this crazy syndrome: “Everyone else is doing it”. So people believe because everybody is doing it, God will always forgive as a loving Father. Some other lies and deceptions are: “Ah! It adds colour to marital acts or it causes sickness if you abstain from sex.

“A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing. For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, To call passengers, who go right on their ways: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.” (Prov. 9:13-18)
“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification that ye should abstain from fornication.” (1Thess. 4:3)

Friends, do not follow the modern trend, where premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, incest, rape, lusts, obscene speeches, pornography and other dirty hell-bound activities are celebrated.

Set For A Show Down

Nigerian medical Association, NMA, rejects the National Universities Commission, NUC’s planned introduction of PhD as baseline qualification for medical doctors in teaching hospitals

By Nathaniel Jonah & Juliana Uzoka

Saratu Yusuf, a 13-year old primary 5 student of Science Primary School, Kuje had no premonition of any evil when on April 2nd this year, she went out with her brother to a nearby kiosk to purchase some staple food items. Saratu was hit by a reckless truck, which left her unconscious in a pool of blood. She was immediately rushed to a nearby private clinic by her brother for medical treatment. The doctor on duty demanded a down payment of N1,000 before any treatment could be administered to her. Saratu and her family however, got more than what they bargained for. She told Newsworld on her hospital bed: “The doctor administered an injection (on me) which I thought was to stop the bleeding, but which rather made me sleep off. When I woke up, I discovered my two hands had been amputated. When I asked why, the doctor said he had to do it so that I don't die.”

In Benin City, Edo State, Helen Eromosele was still having pains in her bowels two weeks after a surgical operation for her appendicitis. Preliminary abdominal scans revealed that there was a face towel tucked inside her intestine, which was forgotten there by the surgeons during the previous operation. She was hurriedly rushed to the operating theatre for another operation to remove the towel. Helen survived the medical ordeal through the skin of her teeth.
Saratu and Helen are but a few victims of wrong medical diagnosis, which has often times sent so many innocent souls to their untimely graves.
Medical records also show that maternal deaths are on the increase. Health index at the ministry of health Abuja indicates that the nation records about 53, 000 deaths every year as a result complications during pregnancy or childbirth. This was blamed on poor work attitude of nurses and midwives towards pregnant women.

Hadiza Umaru, a food seller told this magazine that she was almost denied attention at a federal staff hospital in Abuja when she went into labour because the doctors claimed they did not have her medical history. Umaru, who was already drenched in her amniotic fluid at the time she was rushed to the clinic told Newsworld that the medical personnel in the hospital told her that because she did not registered with them nobody would attended to her. According to her, the doctors insisted that she either made a deposit or go to where she attended antenatal. The woman said she registered in Jikwoi where she lives but “I went into labour in Garki where I sell food to people who are engaged in construction work.”

Another woman told this magazine that nurses in one of the hospitals gave her an episiotomy during labour and was accused of laziness, which resulted in her baby's death. “The nurses were beating me, climbed my back, while I was yelling with pains,” she alleged. It was her first pregnancy and the baby weighed 4.5kg.

The deputy director, Reproductive Health at the federal ministry of health, Mrs. Osutogun said it is wrong for women, who are in labour to be turned back, where they are not registered for antenatal. “The health personnel should help deliver them of their baby. They are in no way in danger, because as health care officers, they know what to do to protect themselves,” Osutogun stated.

Investigations have shown that unskilled medical doctors have taken over the nation's hospitals. The acting registrar of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, Dr. Abdulmumuni Ibrahim declared recently at a one day stake holders' workshop on medical education that the nation's health sector is infested with fake medical practitioners. According to him, the influx of incompetent doctors in the health system was a violation of the decision of the council that all medical schools should conform to the quota of medical students allocated to them.

Although Ibrahim attributes the declining standards to the incompetence of many new doctors, investigations however, show that the infiltration of quacks into the medical practice is an off shoot of the systematic neglect of the health sector by successive government administrations in Nigeria. Dr. Shehu Abubakar, an Abuja based private medical doctor observed that “no health policy or plan has been adhered to for more than 10 years by any government and some of these policies are well articulated if only they are implemented. Poor budgeting allocations over the past 20 years to the health sector at between two to three per cent have not helped matters.” He noted that when the health sector suffers poor funding by the government and special attention is not paid to standards, the result is half-baked doctors and drop outs from medical schools, who could not pass their medical examinations parading themselves as qualified health practitioners.

The National University Commission, NUC, has made moves to arrest the ugly situation. The commission has made acquisition of a PhD degree mandatory for medical doctors working in teaching hospitals across the country. This has however, elicited sharp reactions from the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA. In a communiqué at the end of its national executive council, NEC, meeting in Awka, the association decried this moves by the NUC and maintains that the postgraduate medical fellowship, which is indeed higher than a PhD is the standard worldwide in the medical profession.

A medical doctor at the defense headquarters' medical center, Asokoro, Dr. Kingsley Obiaku condemned the planned action of the NUC. According to him: “It shows once again that the Nigerian society is over dependent on paper qualification, which has not taken us anywhere in the past. What should be done if the government is serious about eliminating quacks from the system is for the appropriate authority in conjunction with the government to radically revolutionize the medical schools in such a way that products of these medical schools can favorably compete with their counterparts all over the world and, this can be done through adequate funding for research programmes and increased budgetary allocation to the health sector.

Dr. Abraham Apata of the Brooks Hospital, New Nyanyan argued that instead of mandating the medical doctors to acquire PhD which might amount to little or no improvement in the health sector, “the government should as a matter of urgency put its acts together and commence the process of radical reformation of the Nigerian education system which of course includes that of the medical colleges. It is only when our leaders begin to have confidence in our health institutions and desist from traveling abroad for medical treatment that the nation's health sector can significantly move forward.”

To the National President of the National Medical and Health Workers Union, NMHWU, Ayuba Wabba, the steady neglect of education sector by government is responsible for the unsavory development. In his opinion, “if government had listened to the cries of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, which has constantly reminded the government of the decay in the nation's university system, perhaps the situation would not have degenerated to the present state.

"Generally, there is a fall in the standard of education and I think that the government has a responsibility to look into these issues. The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU has been crying about the steady fall in the standard of education in the country. This has led to the mass movement of our best professionals out of the country," he stated.

Nigeria's Productivity Is On The Slide

This is the response of the Director General, Nigeria Productivity Centre, NPC, Dr. Paul Mari Bdliya to NIGERIAN NEWSWORLD questions on pertinent issues concerning the centre’s activities

Considering Nigeria's economic status and development since independence, what is the country's productivity rate and capacity now?

It is difficult to give you an exact figure as Nigeria's Productivity but we can say that Nigeria's productivity is on the low side. This is evident from the abundant symptoms of low productivity around us in the economy. These include low to medium capacity utilization of our manufacturing industries (often quoted to be between 35-55 per cent), decaying infrastructure, epileptic power supply, general poor work ethics and attitudes, poor service delivery especially by government agencies, high level of corruption, non-implementation of projects and weak or even non-functional institutions including operational problems in all tiers of governance. We have no doubt made some progress as a nation since independence but given our resources, it is the general belief that Nigeria's productivity rate should be at least average if not high by now.

How would you assess the productivity indices in the country's socio-economic sector over the last five decades?

This question relates to the first. Again, let me say that we have made substantial progress since independence in almost all sectors of our economy: manufacturing, transport, commerce, energy, petroleum and gas, education, health. Sectoral annual productivity indices for the past 20 years show some ups and downs in almost all the sectors measured. This means that even when and where the country had made productivity increases, they have not been consistent and sustainable.

How much contribution has the term 'productivity' made to the socio-economic growth of the country?

This is also difficult to measure but you see that productivity as a word and perhaps as a concept to some people is used every now and then when we speak of socio-economic development of a country. This simply means that the word and hopefully, its concept appear to people as one tool for economic development and growth. The challenge now is to make more Nigerians aware of the meaning and concept of productivity as a tool for economic development and growth and eventually attain better living standards. So, coming back to the question, I would say the word 'productivity' has contributed to some appreciable degree, especially among the elites for socio-economic growth.

Nigerians and indeed a larger section of the international community maintain that Nigeria's economy has been stagnant for several years now, if not for a larger part of its independence history. Considering the essence of productivity in economic growth and your centre as the main tool for stimulating it, would you say it has done much to move the economy forward?

The centre has done fairly well over the years since its establishment in stimulating the citizenry towards productivity improvement for economic growth within our very limited financial resources. I must say that the concept productivity alone cannot make the nation grow economically. Productivity improvement works best when all other socio-economic variables are in place. These include- education, skills (fiscal, political, trade, etc).
However, through our various programmes, we have continued to reach out to Nigerians being the catalyst we are and by and large, we have appealed to some minds. This we feel is our contribution as one of the numerous activities by government and the public to assist Nigerians imbibe the culture of productivity.

How much effort has the centre made in the creation and establishment of productivity enhancement instruments across the country's economic terrain?

The centre has inaugurated over 20 state productivity committees across the country in our attempt to reach the grassroots. For instance, Productivity and Quality Improvement Scheme, PIS, has been installed in over 15 small and medium enterprises in the country. This has assisted businesses improve their productivity

There is also in-plant trainings and consultancy especially in the agricultural sector, where the centre has trained about 500 FADAMA Community Association members in Kaduna State. Over 60 workshops, seminars and conferences were held as part of our awareness and training of Productivity Personnel. We have observed seven National Productivity Day and conferred the National Productivity Order of Merit, NPOM, award on over 20 productive organizations and over 190 individuals to serve as motivation.

How enormous are the challenges facing your centre with regards to its statutory roles and duties amidst the multiplying constraints and emerging complexities for the country's socio-economic growth according to the emerging world order?

The major challenges facing the centre are of course in the area of low funding. Productivity awareness requires that we reach the grassroots and sustain our presence with the productivity message always. This could be through physical presence, the electronic and print media. These are expensive. Also considering our multi-lingual nature, this becomes more complex and challenging. Also, to be fully effective, NPC has to be able to assist as many companies and organizations in order to improve their productivity and competitiveness.

The National Productivity Centre acts as the secretariat to the National Productivity Order of Merit Award. Can you please briefly enlighten our readers on this award and the criteria for nomination for the award?

The National Productivity Order of Merit Award was instituted by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the National Productivity Centre in 1991 in order to recognize and honour at national level, the most productive individuals and organizations in Nigeria in the year of the respective awards for achievements made in the three preceding years. All Nigerians resident in the country and all organizations operating in Nigeria are eligible for the award.

President Umar Musa Yar'adua has outlined a seven-Point Agenda designed to make the Nigeria’s economy one of the 20 largest economies in the world in 2020. How is the Centre repositioning to effectively key in and play a vital role in the actualization of Mr. President's reform programme?

In line with its vision of becoming a world class productivity institution and a key player in realizing Nigeria's overall growth and development objectives, the Centre in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity in July 2007 at a ministerial retreat identified some core issues that are challenges to productivity improvement. By addressing these core issues, the centre would effectively key into the seven-Point Agenda.

Given the many challenges confronting NPC, What is the way forward for the centre?

The way forward for the Centre in the midst of all the many challenges confronting it would include addressing of the following major issues:

· Increased funding of the centre by government and the private sector
· Strengthening the capacity of the centre as an institution and its staff
Promoting the Nigerian productivity movement which would involve the active support of major stakeholders - the business, industry, workers, government, academia, communities, the press and other interested groups.

Nigerians Are Enthusiastic For Change

Justice Muhammed Uwais, retired Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, and the chairman, Electoral Reform Committee spoke to SUNNY IDACHABA on the work of the committee, so far

The Federal government appointed you as the chairman of the Electoral Reforms Committee, ERC. How has it been since you took up this appointment?

I was not the only one appointed by the Federal Government as we were 21 altogether. However, my assignment as the chairman of the committee is probably what has made me conspicuous among my colleagues but the job has been very challenging in the sense that it was an assignment that would usher the country into a phase of electoral transparency in the future. You could recall that in almost every elections held in this country for some time now, there have always been complains before and after the elections, all because of the lapses in the Electoral Acts. This was what the government saw behind the necessity of this committee. When the Federal Government set up this committee last year August, one of the things we did after our inauguration was to divide ourselves into sub-committees in order to work faster since the assignment covers the whole six geo-political areas that make up the country. Therefore we divided ourselves into groups for the purpose of meeting. And because we cannot be in all the geo-political parts of the country at the same time, we decided that one group would meet from Monday to Wednesday while another group would meet from Wednesday to Friday. That gave me the time to do my supervisory role on the works of the committee however; this was after we advertised for memoranda from the public. Over 200 memoranda were submitted for this assignment. Another thing we did was that we sampled only two states from each of the geopolitical units of the country. This is because we would not be able to reach all the states in the country for our sittings. It was those selected states representing the whole region we visited during our sittings.
What are likely to be the content and findings of your committee?

If I tell you that I have an idea of the final outcome of the report now, I would be lying because it is still going through a process of compilation and of course I cannot tell you what it is likely to be as it would mean preempting the report. The members of the committee have to take a final look at the report whenever it is ready after which it would be submitted to the president. If I tell you what the final outcome is likely to be, then it has ceased to be a report. I will only advise you to wait till December when it would be submitted to the government.

As you were moving round the whole country for this assignment, and from the memoranda submitted to you, obviously you would have read the mood of Nigerians towards the necessity of electoral reforms. How can you describe this mood?

From what we saw, Nigerians are very enthusiastic for a change in the electoral system. Remember that previous elections held in this country have never been devoid of complains. These form part of the memoranda they submitted to our committee. Many people submitted memoranda based on their resentment to the existing laws governing elections in Nigeria. It was their memoranda that we worked on and if I am to give you an idea of what the final outcome of the report would be, I can say it would be the people's opinion that would be submitted at the end of the day.

What were the defective areas in the existing electoral Acts that necessitated the setting up of your committee?

I hope you are not indirectly asking me to tell you what would be in our report? Anyway, it has been observed from the times past that there was something wrong with the funding of the electoral system, a situation that has generated serious contention in the political system. There is also the problem of thuggery in the political system which does not give room for healthy political interaction among the people. People also bore their mind on the number of political parties that should be allowed to exist in the country. While some said two, others said a maximum of five and a minimum of two. These were their opinions but remember that even if you are restricting the number to only two, you have to put into consideration the international convention of free association that Nigeria subscribes to so that you do not impinge on international law. There are certainly so many defective areas in the existing electoral system which would be corrected by the time the report is out.

As a judge, you must have ruled on so many areas that would probably be contrary to the recommendations of your committee, how would you reconcile these?

As a judge, your ruling on any matter is based on the evidences presented before you by the parties per time. In most cases, you don't pass any judgment without first looking at all the sides of the evidences and witnesses at your disposal. If these are exhausted then you can deliver your judgment. Now, if there was any judgment delivered in times past that would be contrary to any of the recommendations in the ERC's report, it is because of the necessity of that judgment then as distinct from what is the overwhelming need on ground today; but certainly there is no contradiction as far as the application of the law is concerned.

Nigerians have had series of recommendations in the past that were never implemented. To what extent do you think that the report of your committee would be implemented?

To the extent that Nigeria needs peace. As far as sanity is needed in the society, these recommendations would certainly have to be implemented. The minister of Justice has assured me about the desire of the president to leave a legacy behind on the electoral system being practiced by the country at the moment; therefore I don't have any doubt about the willingness of the government to implement these recommendations when eventually it becomes public. It may be subjected to further legislative screening, no doubt, but certainly not to be dumped as everyone is aware of the need to solve election-related issues once and for all.

Commuters' Headache

Despite the introduction of mass transit buses by the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, to ease transportation problem, Abuja residents still groan over high transport fares occasioned by arbitrary hike by touts

By Sunny Idachaba

At the close of work everyday, Ojo, who relocated to Abuja two months ago, notices long queue of commuters waiting to board the Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company, AUMTCO (popularly called el-Rufai buses) at Wuse. He wonders why people could subject themselves to such hardship when there are many mini-buses available. He was later to find out the reason.

Another resident of the city, Okey had a bitter taste of the transportation problem in the territory. Okey, a journalist had an accident with his car, which sent the vehicle to the mechanic workshop. In the interim, he resorted to the use of public transport pending when his car would be fixed. That was when, like Ojo, Okey understood why people queue for hours waiting to board the 'el-Rufai' bus. He told this magazine that he paid N80 from Kubwa where he lives to Wuse while coming to work but surprisingly the fare rose to N150 in the evening that same day. Okey who had only N100 in his pocket said he quickly disembarked and contacted a friend who bailed him out.

Arbitrary hike in transport fares has become the pastime of motorists in the territory. Ade, 27 years old who came to Abuja in 2006 in search of the proverbial Golden Fleece but became a motor boy in a mini bus plying Suleja in Niger State to Wuse, is among those who relish hiking fares, especially during peak hours of the day. He told Newsworld that hold-ups experienced by motorists during peak hours made the hike inevitable. “If you buy N2000 fuel, by the time you go through the hold-up the fuel would finish,” he said. But an attempt by Ade and his colleagues to raise the fare from N200 to N250 on Suleja-Abuja route on a rainy Monday morning nearly resulted in a clash between them and the passengers. It took the intervention of the vehicle inspection officers, VIOs, at Mabushi to arrest the situation.

The traffic situation in the territory seemed to be defying solutions. This is blamed on the influx of people to the city. The worse hit are Abuja-Keffi road and Suleja-Abuja expressway commuters. Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar, minister of the territory said government is contemplating closing a section of the Suleja-Abuja road to traffic during peak hours to ease the situation while contract has been awarded for the construction of a flyover at AYA junction to further ease the traffic situation along Abuja-Keffi road.

But residents of the territory said motorists are unduly exploiting the commuters. Kola Azeez, secretary of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, at the Jabi motor park told Newsworld that fares charged on every route in the territory are uniformly fixed. He accused the people he called 'unauthorised' drivers who are not registered with the union of exploiting the passengers. According to him, before the fare on any route is raised, it would be communicated to all the transport owners whose vehicles are on such roads and not a few individuals who delight in taking advantage of every situation to raise fares.

Head, safety and enlightenment unit of the Directorate of Road Traffic Services, Vivian Uttah advised those responsible for the transport sector in the territory to take a second look at the trend of arbitrary hike in transport fares in the federal capital.

Intra city transport system is a catalyst for economic growth. In some countries like Egypt and Libya, the operation of private cabs is regulated by government to guard against indiscriminate fare increase. Ahmadou Sheriff, a Libyan who has a shop in Wuse II, Abuja told this magazine that now the unpleasant sight of motor bikes has been phased out of the city centres, private cabs operating in the city should be regulated. For him, Nigeria is a place where any body can come into from any part of the world to do business without any fear of reprisal.

Until the authorities of the city take a second look at the transport sector, Abuja would soon be worse than what Lagos was before the seat of the government was removed from there.

There Is Transparency In Amaechi’s Govt

Ogbonna Nwuke, Commissioner for Information, Rivers State spoke to Correspondent, VICTOR EDOZIE, in Port-Harcourt on the allegation that the administration does not follow due process in the award of contracts

There was the allegation that almost all the contracts awarded by this administration do not follow due process. How do you react to that, sir?

Nothing buttresses our commitment to due process more than the early move by the governor to get the state Assembly pass the bill on due process into law. While the bill was going through legislative process, the various ministries and agencies concerned with procurement have been fulfilling the requirement for due process, for example, by encouraging biding jobs.

It was also alleged that it is only the governor and his chief of staff that decides who gets most of the contracts. Is it true?

It is not correct that Amaechi is connected with award of contracts as alleged by the petitioner. We are amazed that the chief of state to the governor has equally been linked to contracts awards. By his job schedule the chief of staff is concerned with the activities in the Government House. That is why we say that the allegations by unseen persons are very spurious and unfounded.

What criteria were employed to ensure there is transparency in the award of contracts?

The criteria for contracts were openly advertised and every Rivers person knows that we publish bids. There is transparency in Amaechi's administration. We look at the competence of the company that bided as well as their track record. For instance, nobody can question the competence of Julius Berger and Entraco in terms of civil engineering and construction works. These companies have fulfilled the laid down criteria for the job before even contracts were awarded to them. We made a commitment that Rivers’ money is for Rivers people and we are making sure that we take care of local component as we try to empower our people.

How do you react to this allegation that the governor released the sum of N400 million each to the local government councils in the state to settle his supporters?

We simply say that this allegation is the figment of the imagination of whoever conceives it. This government believes in transparency and as a result accountable to the people. The governor has given account of his stewardship on how much has come to the state and how much was spent. The governor did not stop there. He went ahead to list every project and how much it costs the tax payers. So, where in hell or heaven are those who are behind these wild rumours getting their figures from? We challenge them to publish the statistics they have. We are certain that these allegations are the handiwork of persons who did not wish the Amaechi administration well. For us it is not a matter of telling the truth the best way we can. Accordingly, we salute gentlemen like you who are bothered to ask for our side before going to the press. It is our plea that the mass media should not allow people with parochial interest to use the media for vindictive purposes and campaign of calumny.

Harvest Of Criminals

Police in Abia State make a huge haul in their fight against criminals in the state

By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu

Perhaps the decision of the Abia State Police Command to occasionally carry out raids on brothels and drinking joints during working hours is helping in the command's fight against crime. So far, about 40 suspects have been arrested by the police in the last one month for crimes ranging from armed robbery, pipeline vandalism and kidnapping. The suspects include Christopher Okeke and Emeka Nwafor who were arrested while negotiating for the sale of a Nissan Sunny vehicle with registration number DW871 PHC suspected to have been stolen. Also arrested were Samuel Okafor, Chibunna Nwaobasi and Uchenna Osuagwu. They were arrested by a team of detectives at Central Police Station, CPS, Aba, led by the Divisional Crime Officer 2 of the station, ASP Titus Ugwoke following a tip off. Items recovered from their hideout include three locally-made pistols, 19 live cartridges and one expended cartridge, some quantities of wrapped weed, suspected to be Indian Hemp, one long machete, one long cutter, a pair of big scissors and other personal effects.

Five suspected kidnappers who attempted to kidnap a popular medical practitioner in Abia state, Dr. Chidozie Ezuma of University Teaching Hospital, Aba were also nabbed. Dr. Ezuma who managed to escape their custody was able to identify one of his kidnappers, Chinonso Owunna who later led the police to arrest two other suspects, Ifeanyi Allison and Onyekachi Ajuzieogu. The arrested suspects were former house-helps of the victim. Also, one Obed Dike who attempted to kidnap the chairman of Ukwa East local government, Chief Nwaji Sylvania was arrested at the premises of the council.

Ikechukwu Nwogu and Ikechukwu Ohaeri, suspected pipeline vandals were arrested at Umuchichi village in Osisioma local government with a Mitsubishi L300 bus with registration number XB 113 BND.

One Obinna Nwankwo described as “a notorious armed robber” who specializes in robbing people along Aba-Port Harcourt expressway was arrested by the joint team of the anti-robbery and Abia state security service but his gang upon sighting the team fled. Also arrested with him are his mother, Mrs. Nnenna Nwankwo and brother, Mr. Ndubuisi Nwankwo for alleged conspiracy. A locally-made double-barrel riffle with two live cartridges, a hammer, a Hiace bus with registration number XS538 ENU and a Mercedes Benz 230 were recovered from the suspects.

Another gallant feat was recorded later. An escort team comprising about 18 Police Mobile Force personnel was escorting a bullion van loaded with several millions of naira when they were attacked at Ugba junction, along Port Harcourt-Enugu expressway by armed robbers. The joint patrol team of Aba Area Command led by one Major Chikezie was mobilised. A gun duel ensued between the patrol team and the robbers, which resulted in the death of two policemen attached to the patrol team. A Mitsubishi jeep with registration number AT 355 SSM, one long gas cylinder and one short gas cylinder, eleven expended AK47 ammunition and one sledge hammer were later recovered by the police from the suspect who escaped after the battle. Ogbusua Oleh, the Aba Area commander, said most of the suspects were arrested at the conception stage of their criminal activities, attributing this to the measures adopted by the command to occasionally raid drinking joints and brothels.

Despite the successes recorded by the police, incidences of kidnapping have remained a festering sore in Abia State. Even the N1 million offer by the state government to whoever that would provide useful information that could lead to the arrest of suspected kidnappers could not provide solution to the crime. Investigations by this magazine showed that political office holders, politicians and industrialists in the state are now living in fear and have instructed their relatives not to be making public appearances to reduce the chances of being kidnapped. Recently the council chairman of Obingwa local government was kidnapped when his convoy was attacked. The cahirman's driver, one Mr. Umunnakwe and a commercial motor cyclist, whose identity was not ascertained, died in the incident.

The people of the state want the state police command to double its effort towards arresting the situation. Dr. Marazere Ubani, a legal practitioner wants the police to invade the hideouts of the kidnappers to demobilise them. “If the police does not know their hideouts, they should gather intelligence report about these hideouts and invade them. This will enable them nip the activities of these kidnapers in the bud,” Dr. Ubani declared.

Emeka Ogbonna, president, Popular Participation Front, PPF, attributes the problem to what he called the fundamental defects of the society. “The Nigerian society is replete with fundamental defects. Such defects are unemployment and the brazen looting of public treasury. The government is paying lip service to these issues and the consequences are what we are witnessing,” he summed up.

The Anger Of The Students

Students of North Central University, Otukpo vent their anger against the authorities over the blacklisting of the university by National Universities Commission, NUC

By Sunday Ogli

The closure of fake and unlicensed universities in the country is already having a backlash effect. Students of North Central University, Otukpo, one of the universities closed down by government, September 10 vent their anger on the university for what they termed the deception of the authorities of the university.

The university, which opened its doors to students in February this year, attracted candidates mainly from the southern part of the country. But since the announcement by the National Universities Commission, NUC that some universities in the country are operating without valid license, all has not been the same between the students and the university authorities. Every attempt by the students to clarify the status of the institution from the authorities has been met with rebuff. It is therefore not surprising that the North Central University was one of blacklisted universities for failing to meet the requirements, in a recent publication by NUC. This elicited the anger of the students. They wrecked several damages to some of the facilities in the institution. Locks were forcefully destroyed and several documents, including admission forms scattered. Dr. Francis Adah, the coordinator escaped from being lynched by the demonstrating students. The students later went to the Otukpo police station to register their anger; they were however denied access by police authorities. Their effort to get to Innocent Onuh, the chairman of Otukpo local government area also failed as security agents at the gate of the secretariat equally denied them entry.

Adah told Newsworld on phone that the situation was under control. He said he had given the students a four-week vacation to enable him rectify some of the problems facing the institution, adding that he was working towards the registration of another university, Middle Belt University with the NUC since the existing one is causing problems for him. But Eugene Aliegba, Benue State commissioner of Education told Newsworld that the institution was operating illegally. He alleged that some of the lecturers are not even qualified to teach in secondary schools. Newsworld gathered that Adah paid N1 million to the Benue state ministry of education but the commissioner claimed that the registration was done through the back door. The receipt was allegedly issued by Dr. Awambe Nule, director of Tertiary Education in the ministry.

This magazine gathered that Adah was arrested and charged to court when officials of the NUC came to Otukpo to close down the school. He was granted bail but later rearrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and subsequently detained in Kuje prison.

Reports of Adah's activities made available to this magazine by an EFCC official indicated that the purported approval by the NUC is false. An official of the NUC was said to be behind the deal. Adah believed to have used monies realised from the students for personal advantage instead of providing facilities at the university. He is also alleged to have three cars, one of them a Mercedes V Boot with registration number Benue AA 980 PKG.

It seems that Benue state has become a haven for fake universities. Apart from the North Central University, other blacklisted universities in the state are Sunday Adokpela University located in Adoka and Samuel Ahmadu University in Makurdi. However, authorities of Samuel Ahmadu University said it should not be classified among unregistered universities. In a radio announcement in Makurdi, the university authorities said it has not started academic activities and threatened legal action against NUC if it attempts blacklist the institution.

Some students of the blacklisted North Central University stated they were deceived by the name to believe that the university was owned by states in the north central region. Most of them were already home-bound when Newsworld met them but one of them from Kogi State, who pleaded anonymity told the magazine: “I cannot go home because I don't know what to tell my mother. She was happy over my admission. I find it difficult to tell her anything about the present development. She is hypertensive and it might worsen her condition.”

On Collision Course

The change from Nigeria Football Association, NFA, to Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, without an Act of the parliament may bring the federation on collision course with the National Assembly

By Chris Onokpegu

If the revelation emerging from the Glass House as the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) now renamed Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is anything to go by, then there will be difficult time for Nigerian football.
The nation's football ruling body recently changed its name from Nigeria Football Association (NFA) to Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in line with FIFA statutes to all its member countries.
FIFA statutes adopted at the 58th Congress in Sydney on May 30, 2008, which came into force on August 1, 2008 reads: “changes can only be made by the Congress and require a three-quarter majority of the association's members present and eligible to vote.
“As representatives of FIFA in their countries, they must respect the statutes, aims and ideals of football's governing body and promote and manage our sport accordingly. The bodies and officials must observe and comply with the statutes, regulations, directives, decisions and Code of Ethics of FIFA in their activities.
“The Congress may expel a member if it seriously violates the statutes, regulations, decision or the Code of Ethics of FIFA or get suspended if a member seriously and repeatedly violates its obligations as a member with immediate effect. The suspension shall last until the next Congress.”
FIFA is a government of its own and statutes supercede every other statute hence Nigeria's soccer ruling body's decision at its congress in Makurdi, Benue State to change its name from NFA to NFF and the body has since ratified it. What it means is that the chairman would be referred to as President while the Secretary-General would be known as the General Secretary.
However, Nigeria's upper legislative body, the Senate thinks contrary from the football house. Sports Committee of the Senate has come out strongly against NFF arguing that it is a constitutional thing and should be directed by the dictates of the constitution, failure to do so, means no funding for football. “From next year, NFF would not be funded because it is none-existent. NFF is not a parastatal under government unlike NFA which is a creation of government by an act of parliament…” according to Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, Senate Committee Chairman on Sports .
Lokpobiri's argument may sound distasteful to soccer supporters in Nigeria, but with the way they are going, the lawmakers may need extra push to change their position. The Senate's contention is that NFF must be recognised by government. It has to go through the National Assembly for an act of parliament before it can be taken as a parastatal under government, same applies to the National Sports Commission which has since been criticised as not following due process.
All efforts made by Newsworld Sports to speak with the officials of the Nigeria Football Federation proved abortive as they all turned our request down.
Newsworld Sports however went the extra mile and succeeded in speaking with an insider who confirmed that the name of the football house has been changed from NFA to NFF.
When asked about the comments of the senate committee chairman on sports and denial of funds by the federal government, he answered: “Are you still talking of NFA? Are we still operating decree 101? The congress has the final say and the issue (NFA/NFF) has been settled. We can source for money by ourselves if they fail to fund us after all we have been doing that before.”
Another source said the leadership of the two bodies (Senate and NFF) are putting heads together and will soon come out with a solution.
It may be difficult for the body which has always complained of funds even when it was funded by government to survive let alone now that it will be denied funds. However, FIFA supports its associations financially and logistically through various programmes and grants them a number of attractive rights and privileges hence the confidence in changing its name from NFA to NFF.
In Africa, sports is mostly sponsored by government unlike their European counterparts where the private sectors is fully involved.
Sports commentators opined that this threat by the government may spell doom for the country's sports since the bodies (NSC and others) have always relied on funds from them to prosecute major events. They gave instances on the Africa Cup of Nations and the Olympics in Ghana and China respectively where Nigeria performed woefully due to late preparation hinged on lack of funds.
The National Sports Commission (NSC) was also condemned by the Senate through its committee chairman on sports during a public hearing saying, it is not a parastatal under government and the nomenclature should be changed to Ministry of Sports or they will be denied funds. The upper law-making body said it only recognised the Ministry of Youth and Sports and advised that it returns to status quo.
The Minister and Chairman of National Sports Commission (NSC) was quoted as saying that sports was not included in the constitution hence the difficulty in convincing the private sector to invest in sports.
Sports analysts wondered what's in a name that warrants a change. They asked if the change of name will metamorphose our performances or transform our games and bring more glory. Well, much need to be desired.

Naomi's Charity And Fashion Statement

Super model, Naomi Campbell last week proved to her teeming fans and critics alike that despite her quick and violent temper, she is still in control, even as she attracted the crème-de-la-crème in the fashion and entertainment industry to her charity show.

By George Emine

Last Wednesday night's “Fashion For Relief” charity show, organised by renowned super model, Naomi Campbell was reminiscent of London's reputation as a home to cutting-edge, experimental new designers. And for Campbell, it was yet another opportunity to show to the world, and indeed, her numerous fans her charity and philanthropic streak.
The show was organised by the super model, singer, dancer and actress to raise money for The White Ribbon Alliance fund promoting safe childbirth, of which Sarah Brown, Briton's Prime Minister's wife, is patron. Held at London's Natural History Museum, it was a parade of leading lights in the industry along with other celebrities with the likes of Cilla Black, Tracey Emin and Vivienne Westwood also present modelling of clothes by the likes of Chanel and Christian Dior, which were later auctioned.

Cheryl Cole, wife of football star, Ashley Cole was one of the stars, who took turns on the runway, she was dressed in a Jean Paul Gautier dress, while her husband Ashley Cole and band mate Sarah Harding watched from the audience. Olympic gold medallists, Sarah Ayton and Rebecca Adlington used their moment in the spotlight to show off their medals. Ayton won gold in sailing in Beijing, while Adlington got two in the pool.

28-year old Estelle, known for her song, American Boy looked at ease on the catwalk in a full-length leopard skin number. But it was no surprise as she has just been nominated in five categories at November's UK Urban Music Awards. Recently, named British favourite female singer, Catherine Jenkins was at her obvious best. The soprano, who often sings the Welsh anthem at sporting events, was recently named Britain's favourite female classical singer. OC actress, Mischa Barton was also in the audience for the show. She has been in the papers after reportedly spending the evening with Hollywood actor, Josh Hartnett.

For Sugababes singer, Heidi Range however, it was tricky as she lost one of her heels on the catwalk, but luckily managed to recover. That was not the same for Ronan Keating, who strolled confidently down the runway as one of the few celebrity male models. Keating and his Boyzone band mates are about to release Love You Anyway, their first new single for the past nine years.

A more cartoonish take on spring/ summer characterised the House of Holland collection. The model, Agyness Deyn, a friend of the much-hyped designer Henry Holland, wore a black-and-white spotty lycra body and sheer silk, floral patterned jeans, while carrying a white handbag with giant white spots. Of course, any nod to the decade would be incomplete without a jumpsuit, a garment that has been doing its best to make a comeback and Jackson provided a persuasive argument in the form of a khaki all-in-one with fluted shoulders.

Another elegant jumpsuit came from Richard Nicoll, who showed a taupe version with a sash over one shoulder and a single asymmetric strap over the other. The boldest statement came from the pink pieces that opened the show. A long blazer, pale pink and fuschia T-shirt dress and a short silk dress in colour blocked shades of pink showed that Barbie's favourite colour can exude a clean, modern, pastel-free femininity. Other models of the night included rock daughters Kimberly Stewart, Lizzie Jagger and Mark Ronson's ex-girlfriend Daisy Lowe.

The atmosphere was a part MTV awards show, part Royal Variety Performance, as the audience abandoned the usual show protocol of critical impassivity in favour of cheering on the celebrity models. After all, it was for charity.

Abolurin's Legacy

Ade Abolurin, commandant general of the Nigera Security and Civil Defence Corps gives account of his stewardship and makes projections for the future

By Onyekachi Eze

Ade Abolurin, Commandant General, CG, of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, cherishes so much the transformation of the corps in the last few years. And he will not miss any opportunity to flaunt what he believes are his modest achievements in the para-military outfit. This is exactly what he did when Senator Olalekan Mustapha, chairman senate committee on Interior led other members of the committee on oversight functions at the corps headquarters, Abuja. “Some notable achievements of the corps are the arrest of 1300 vandals and their tools,” Abolurin told his guests.

NSCDC is a paramilitary outfit established by Act No 2 of 2003 as amended by Act No 6 of 2007 with the responsibilities of assisting in the maintenance of law and order in the society as well as rescuing of civil populace during periods of emergency. It also recommends to the minister of Interior for the registration of companies wishing to operate as security guards as well as monitor and supervise their activities. The CG said the corps has brought sanity into the operation of private guards in the country. “It has ensured close monitoring of the activities of private guards companies while sensitising them towards making them to be more proactive in matters relating to security. A stakeholders' forum of PGC operators, the third in the series, was held in April 2006, where the corps rubbed minds with operators in the industry on the way forward. The operators now see the corps as partners in the security of lives and property,” he added.

The corps inspected about 967 companies seeking registration out of which 206 have so far been registered. About N228.3 million was realized from the process. Out of the 206 companies which got the corps nod to operate, only 62 were able to secure a license.

However, some unregistered companies which operate without approval incur the wrath of the corps. About 230 of these illegal companies have been sealed while 10 out of the licensed guard companies have been upgraded from category B to A for optimum performance.

Another area the corps has scored a point is in staff training. About 14,070 members of the corps have been trained locally while some 502 others were trained abroad in countries like Pakistan, Burkina-Faso, Uganda, Egypt, United States of America, United Kingdom, Ghana, Switerzland, South Africa, China, Israel, UAE, Mali, Republic of Benin, Holland, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc.

It is in the area of surveillance and intelligence gathering that the corps has recorded huge success. To this end, Abolurin said the NSCDC has been able to make “adequate security report to relevant agencies of government to enable them take necessary steps to avert/prevent unpleasant situations such as civil unrest, crimes and other criminal tendencies and to improve where there are lapses. Some of these reports have assisted government in enhancing security in the country.”

In spite of these achievements, the corps has some constraints. Among these, according to Abolurin, are lack of basic facilities such as training schools, communication equipments, operational vehicles such as cranes, trucks, fire fighting equipment, disaster and rehabilitation equipment, boats and helicopters especially in difficult terrains.
Senator Mustapha and his colleagues appear satisfied with the achievements of the corps as they said the corps has justified its existence. They commended Abolurin for his prudent management of resources and assured that the senate would work for the approval of the use of arms for members of the corps.

Scrambling For The Pie

Investors struggle to establish business in Nigeria because of her investment opportunities

By Onu Okorie

When it comes to natural resources, Nigeria, no doubt is well endowed. For instance, apart from being the sixth largest producer of hydrocarbons in the world it also has huge reserve of gas. The country is also blessed with extractive mineral deposits, such as coal, gold, silver, iron ore, bitumen and zinc.

No wonder Nigeria has of recent become the toast of foreign investors, who want to have a slice of the pie in the country's resources. Chief among the countries that have been exploring the investment opportunities in Nigeria is China and the United States of America, USA. But China seems to be smarter with its interests vested in almost every aspect of Nigeria's economy.

According to a Chinese investor and chairman, Hengshul Yahua Communication Equipment Company Ltd, Mr. Liaxi Hue, “We acknowledge Nigeria as a very important investment destination in Africa, which cannot be overlooked given its market size and the strategic position of the country in the West African sub-region”.
Today, the Chinese are honing their skills in almost every human endeavour, making in-roads into different aspects of the Nigerian economy with speed. For instance, a Chinese Telecommunication Equipment Manufacturing Company, ZTE, is one of the leading communication companies in Nigeria now. Recently, the Zamfara state government signed a Memorandum of MOU with Chinese investors for the establishment of agricultural produce processing plant in that state.

There is no gainsaying that the romance between Nigeria and China, is leaving the Europeans and America, which were traditionally the economic and political allies trailing behind.

However with the U.S. renewed drive to grow business between Nigeria and them, it appears it want to reclaims their prime position. Some of the strategies the US have adopted to expand their business interest in Nigeria is what they call Networking U.S.A., NUSA, and the Africa Growth Opportunity Act, AGOA.

According to the U.S. Economic Officer, in the department of commerce U.S. embassy, Mr. Larry Farris, NUSA is a programme developed to help link up Nigerian business men with their U.S. counterparts in order to expand business relations between Nigeria and the US. “Our primary focus is supporting U.S. companies that are looking to export their products and services abroad to link them with the Nigerian companies that are looking for a way to source product servicing know-how and finance from the United States,” Larry said.

According to him, the need arose for such a programme because a lot of U.S. companies are making inquiries about Nigerian companies and partners. Through the programme, they would be able to identify the genuine Nigerian businessmen and women, who want to partner with their U.S. counterparts. The Nigerian companies however have to register and provide information about their background to enable the American co-ordinators to verify it and speak for them when reaching out to the U.S. companies.

Larry told Newsworld that the programme has been very successful. “The programme has been successful in achieving the objectives of expanding the U.S.A. and Nigerian business relationship. We have over 3,500 companies registered with U.S., throughout Nigeria. We use that group of registered partner companies as a basis of all the services we provide.”

Larry also disclosed that one of their areas of focus is the mining sector. For instance, there is a plan underway to send some Nigeria business groups to U.S. to understudy the recent development on mining technology and get first-hand information on new developments in the extractive industry so that they can explore how to invest in developing it.
In addition to NUSA, Nigeria is a member of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, which is one of the U.S. strategies to improve investment and expanding trade with the eligible AGOA member counties.

AGOA can be described as a success story considering its impact in developing and expanding business relationships between Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole and U.S.A.

Newsworld study shows that U.S. total trade with Sub-Saharan Africa, that is imports and exports increased by 15 per cent in 2007, as both exports and imports grew. U.S. exports increased by 19 percent to $14.4 billion, driven by growth in vehicles and parts for oil field equipment, wheat, non-crude oil, and medical equipment. U.S. imports in 2007 increased by 14 per cent to $67.4billion. Of the top five African destinations for U.S. products, export to South Africa rose by 24 percent, Nigeria by 25 per cent, Kenya, 11 per cent and Gabon by 253 per cent. However U.S. exports to Angola declined by 17 per cent.

The top five AGOA beneficiary countries include Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, Chad and Gabon. Other leading AGOA beneficiaries include Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Kenya, Cameroon, Swaziland and Mauritius.
Given the new drive for a piece of the action in exploring investment opportunities in Nigeria by American businessmen, analysts said it bodes well for the country's economic growth and development.

While welcoming the Networking U.S. programme, an industrialist, Engr. Solomon Nyagba, said the group could be useful in reviving the ailing infrastructure in the country, particularly the transport system in Abuja, the nation's capital city. According to him, “With the traffic congestion gradually creeping into FCT and the rise in the pump price of petroleum, we want to partner with NUSA to develop this concept of park and drive innovation, that is to create huge park where you drive your car and park it and take public transportation, which is quite cheaper” He believes that is an innovation that would certainly make life cosy for Abuja residents and the environs.

Haunted By His Past

For the second time, former Edo State governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion fails to show up at father's birthday celebration fueling speculation about his whereabout

By Ndubuisi Orji

September 11 is a very special day in the life of Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, the Esama of Benin Kingdom and father of the immediate past governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion. It is customary for every member of the Igbinedion clan, friends and well wishers of the Benin Chief to gather on that day at his Garden of Eden residence in Benin City to observe the annual ritual.

But this year, Lucky the heir of the Igbinedion dynasty was conspicuously absent in the celebration that dignitaries from various walks of life within and outside the country attended. Though last year family sources say he was in school abroad hence he could not physically share his father's happy moment, this year, no reason was given for the absence of the former governor whose wife, Eki and siblings featured prominently in the one week event that preceded the birthday proper. It would be recalled that the younger Igbinedion was also absent from his father's birthday last year. However, impeccable sources say the former governor's two years absence in one function which means so much to his father is due to his current political travails.

While he held sway as Edo State governor, Lucky who is also the deputy chancellor of the Igbinedion University never for once missed the birthday events. Irrespective of which part of the world he would be at the time of the celebration, he always attended the September event with a number of his fellow governors.
But things are no longer the same for the deputy chancellor of the Igbinedion University, whose preferred candidate in last year's gubernatorial election, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of the Action Congress lost to the state governor, Professor Osareheimen Osunbor. Apart from being in political wilderness, the former governor has never made any public appearance since he handed over to Osunbor on May 29, 2007. He is currently being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for graft.

The EFCC had on Wednesday January 23, 2008 arraigned Igbinedion before a Federal High Court sitting in Enugu on a 156-count charge of corruption and abuse of office as governor of Edo State from May 29 1999 to May 29 2007.
Appearing in Court to give account of his stewardship has been Igbinedion's worst nightmare. For fear of being arrested by the EFCC on alleged corrupt practices during his tenure the former governor had fled the State shortly after relinquishing power on May 29 last year. But things came to a head for him January 8 this year when a Federal High Court presided over by Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako issued a warrant for his arrest. The warrant was sequel to a 142-count charge filed against Igbinedion by the anti-graft agency alleging that he stole and laundered a total sum of N2.8billion within the eight-year he spent in office as governor.

Just as the anti-graft agency is prosecuting him the State government is also probing his eight years reign as governor of the heartbeat state.

The senior Igbinedion is not happy with the travails of his eldest son which has made it impossible for the former governor to participate in family celebrations like his birthday. At a pre-birthday press parley last year a reporter had sought to know from the respected chief if the former governor would be physically present at the celebration. In response, the Esama who was infuriated by the question thundered “if I were your father will you be asking me that question”?

Prying Into The Electoral College Map

Ekerete Udoh

The November presidential election could end in a landslide victory for either Obama or McCain. However, it would not be won through the actual votes cast, but by the number of Electoral College votes garnered by either of the candidates. American presidents, unlike other elections in presidential system of government are not elected by the plurality of votes cast, but through Electoral College.

The founding fathers of America in one of their strokes of genius had inserted the Electoral College mechanism in the Constitution as a means to protecting the smaller states from being marginalized and rendered impotent by the large and highly industrialized states on the Eastern seaboard in the socio-political scheme of things in the then fledgling republic. Thus, smaller states such as Wyoming and South Dakota with combined populations of a little over a million, significantly less than the population of Eastern Queens (a New York City borough) is as influential in presidential elections as California with Electoral College votes of 52.

As the candidates barnstormed the nation, persuading the electorate to buy into their vision of a new America, attention has now shifted to who is leading at this time on the Electoral College map. A candidate requires 270 Electoral College votes to become the president of the United States. America has in the past four election cycles been divided into what is called the “Blue States” (Democratic states) and the Red States (Republican states.) The Blue States are mainly the large states along the East and Pacific coastlines with Illinois in the Mid-West. The large swath of land in the Deep South and the Bible-Belt vote solidly Republican. Certain states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida are considered Battle Ground states, a euphemism for independence or states that are not ideologically aligned with either of the parties. In the last two presidential elections, Republicans won in Ohio and Florida by a squeaker, while Democrats won in Pennsylvania.

In the current election campaign, it appears that we may be witnessing a major realignment. States that have solidly voted Republican such as Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin are trending Democratic. Most polls in those states show that if elections were held today, Obama would win handily. The traditional Blue States however, appear to have remained solidly Democratic. McCain has not been able to persuade electorate in those states on his vision of change that he has lately been trumpeting. What does the above trend suggest? It means that if Obama could hold onto his Blue states, which John Kerry successfully did in 2004, and pry at least two or more states from the Republican, he would win the November elections with more than the required 270 Electoral College votes to become the president.

The Obama Campaign appears to have taken the above calculations into consideration during the primaries. It went on a massive recruitment of new voters and according to the current New York Times polls voters' 18-44 favour Obama 55 to John McCain's 39. It was this group that the Obama campaign had the most success in registering. The widespread enthusiasm shown by African-Americans in Obama's historic run, has also helped him a great deal in Virginia which in the 90s, elected Douglas Wilder as the first Democratic governor of the former Confederate capital since Reconstruction. The influx of Eastern liberals and moderates to Northern Virginia has negated the gains of the Republicans in that state. On election night, if early results coming from Virginia show an Obama win, then it would be bloodbath for the Republicans.

On the other hand, if John McCain keeps Florida in his column, and win in Pennsylvania, and Ohio, then it would be a catastrophic night for the Democrats. It could go either way. For now, all indications seem to point to an Obama win, a fact underscored by the current New York Times national poll which showed Obama leading McCain nationally 48 to 43. We keep our fingers crossed.

Mixed Reactions Over N/D Ministry

Opinions vary over the federal government's creation of Niger Delta ministry

By Tosin Omoniyi and Emma Alozie

For the beleaguered residents of Alakiri, in the southern fringes of oil-saturated Rivers State, Sunday, the 14th of September will remain an unforgettable day in their lives. In the wee-hours of that day, masked, blood-thirsty and battle-ready Niger Delta militants transformed the usually serene enclave into an arena of violence and blood letting.
According to credible sources, armed men, who arrived the Royal Dutch Shell's Alakiri flow station in the early hours of the morning engaged the equally battle-scarred men of the Joint Task Force, JTF, who had stepped up security in the wake of similar onslaughts by the militants. By the time, the smoke and battle dust cleared, after a concerted exchange of gunfire by both sides, a security man was allegedly slaughtered, while not less than four people sustained mortal injuries.

The Alakiri conflict came on the heels of a similar unprovoked attack on Chevron's Robert Kiri facility in Rivers State, a raid, Chevron officials have played down. In June this year, the group attacked Bonga, Royal Dutch Shell's flagship deep water enclave. Bonga, situated about 120 kilometres (75milles) from the coastal area of Nigeria, hitherto believed to be inaccessible to the debilitating fangs of militancy.

Scenarios like this are common in the creeks of Niger Delta, especially since 1999, when democracy made its famous return to Nigeria. Ordinarily, people had expected the people of Niger Delta to be very grateful and jubilant with the recent creation of the Niger Delta ministry by the Yar'Adua administration, but on the contrary, many people from the beleaguered region have received the creation of the ministry with what Davies Sokonte, a member of House of Representatives representing Degema/Bonny federal constituency of Rivers State termed as “cautious optimism.”
This can be attributed to the fact that on so many previous occasions, such seemingly goodwill gestures have not turned into anything tangible for the people. From 1957 when the Henry Willinks' Commission recommended that a special treatment be meted out to the people of the area to the recommendation of the Obasanjo's Constitutional Reform Conference for an 18-per cent derivation formula; it has been fertile promises and barren fulfilment all the way.

In all the previous agencies and commissions, set up to tackle developmental issues in the region, the problem has been that of funding. For instance, since the creation of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, a total of N3.15 trillion has been appropriated to the commission by the National Assembly in the national budgets, but only N350 billion of this amount has so far been released to it. This could have accounted for why the federal government's proposed Niger Delta summit was tumultuously shouted down by stakeholders in the region, who argue that the federal authorities are well aware that the problem of the region does not lie in any other summit, conference or symposium but on a political will to galvanise development plan.

Beating a hasty retreat from the summit, Abuja set up a 40-man technical committee headed by Ledum Mitee, president of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, considered by many as a major stakeholder in environmental crisis that is one of the causes of the Niger Delta problem.

The mandate of the Mitee committee is to review and harmonise all the previous reports on the Niger Delta with a view to coming up with workable recommendations that if implemented by the government would bring an end to the intractable problems of the region. But, no sooner had this committee settled down to work than the federal government came up with the creation of the ministry of the Niger Delta, which according to the government “is to articulate the twin problem of development and youth restiveness in the Niger Delta. This particular ministry will help in the daily responsibility to monitor and advise the government on the way forward.”

Since this pronouncement was made public, condemnation has been as loud as the ensuing ovation. Davies Sokonte, argues that the creation of the ministry was calculated at taking off the shine off the Mitee committee, whose membership composition has been applauded by the people of the region. He called on the people of the region to receive the gesture with cautious optimism because according to him “it was not time for jubilation because many other efforts of government in the past have been efforts in futility.”

While Sokonte may be optimistic that the new ministry would find solution to the Niger Delta problem, Kazim Afegbua, acting chairman of the National Democratic Party, NDP, dismissed the creation of the ministry as plunging the issue of Niger Delta into the darkness of avoidable bureaucracy. According to him, “the NDDC as an already existing platform should have been empowered, reenergised and restructured to carry on the job it is doing, instead of reducing it to a mere parastatal under a ministry's bureaucracy.” Afegbua's argument is that the problem of the region does not call for creation of a ministry because even without being an oil-bearing region, the government would still have been required to pay special attention to the place. “Creation of a ministry for a particular region in the country would engender another call by any other part of the country that is having problems for such a creation,” he said.

For Emmanuel Deigha, representing Khana/Gokana federal constituency in the House of Representatives, the creation a ministry for the Niger Delta is another policy somersault and inconsistency by the federal government. The solution to the problem of the region from his view is not the creation of any ministry rather, what is at the root of it all is resource control and derivation.

The Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, was the first to kick against the creation which they described as diversionary. “Creating a ministry is not the coming of the much-awaited messiah. Nigeria has in existence, ministries over 40 years old, which have not impacted positively on the people. It will be yet another avenue for corruption and political favouritism. Some examples of moribund ministries include energy, with its epileptic power supply, Health, with hospitals that have turned to dispensing clinics such that even the president prefers to be treated in Saudi Arabia and Germany.”

U.O Uket, CEO, Royal Initiatives and Accountability Organisation sees things differently. According to him, the establishment of a Niger Delta ministry is a luxury the nation cannot afford at present. He told Newsworld: “The technical committee is 100 per cent okay. The Niger Delta ministry however is not advisable. It is a needless duplication of the functions of the NDDC. It may not help matters in the long run. It would degenerate into many things that will eventually bring problems to the FG.”

On the panacea to the brewing crisis in the region, Uket supports the convening of an all-inclusive Niger Delta summit charged with proffering workable solutions to the stand-off between militants and the government. He also believes the formation of a mediatory committee and the financial empowerment of the NNDC will go a long way in putting a stop to the needless carnage going on sporadically in the oil-rich region.

However, it has not been all knocks without kudos for the new ministry. Former petroleum minister Tam David-West gave his thumbs up saying, “it is an excellent move in the right direction, but a crucial test is the content of the portfolio of the ministry. I give kudos to President Yar'Adua. Without taking out anything from all of his tremendous achievements, what he has done is highly commendable.”

On his own part, Edwin Clark, a chieftain of the South-south region hailed the creation of the new ministry describing it as a welcome development. “It is a welcome development. It shows the commitment of President Yar'Adua to his seven-point agenda. In Britain and other countries of the world, governments create special ministries to tackle development problems in certain areas; that is what the new Niger-Delta Ministry is going to achieve and I am happy about it.”

For those who have expressed reservations about the creation of the new ministry, their misgivings towards the government's gesture may not be out of place. Already, agitations have started from solid minerals producing places for the government to set up an agency or commission in the mould of NDDC. People from Jos, Plateau state are arguing that the environmental problems they are experiencing today is a consequence of the mining of tin in the state by the Nigerian state and therefore they are calling for the creation of a Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission, SOMPADEC to help assuage the injustice of devastation.

Following the argument of the Plateau people are the Niger people, who are equally agitating for the creation of Hydro Power Area Development Commission, HYPADEC for hosting three dams; Shiroro, Kainji and Jebba dams.
Teslim Folarin, leader in the Nigerian Senate shares Uket's views. According to the lawmaker, the federal government has a historic role to play in the mitigation of the conflict in the crisis-ridden region. According to him, “there are three approaches to solving the problem. The first is to make man the index of development in the Niger-Delta. For too long, we have sought to assess performance in the resolution of the crisis by the quantum of money going into the Niger Delta. In spite of such budgetary allocations, virtually all surveys on human development index in the country have returned a damning report on the Niger Delta.”

He further notes: “Also, there is need for synergy between the federal, state and local governments in the area. Governments at the state and local government levels in the state have provided a fertile ground for those who argued that they have not done enough with the enormous resources that have accrued to the area in the last one decade.”

The legislator concluded by saying that the federal government needs to review some of its laws in order to enhance communal autonomy and make the communities stakeholders in the exploitation of the resources in their localities.
With the numerous cacophonous dissenting voices of those against and for the creation of the infant ministry and the unrelenting conflagration of conflict between MEND and the Joint Military Task Force in the creeks of Niger-Delta; it is now clearer to all that it is not yet uhuru in that oil-rich region.

Face Of Yar'Adua's New Cabinet

By Sam Uwodi

The withdrawal of the first list of ministerial nominees from the National Assembly last week is an indication that President Yar'Adua may not find it easy constituting his new cabinet

Two weeks ago, it was rumoured that former deputy president of the senate, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu made the new ministerial list sent to the National Assembly by President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua in his anticipated overhaul of his cabinet. Mantu who lost his senate seat to the Action Congress, AC candidate in the last general election and again during a re-run this year, was Obasanjo's arrow head in the senate when the latter was president. This, to most of his supporters, was consolatory and would launch the longest serving deputy senate president back to national politics. Early last week, that list was withdrawn.

Also in the list were former governor of Bauchi State, Adamu Muazu, former Niger State governor, Ahmed Abubakadir Kure and Professor Attahiru Jega of Bayero University, Kano. Professor Auwalu Yadudu, former legal adviser to late head of state, General Sani Abacha and present deputy president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, equally made the list.

Newsworld gathered that the list which was presented to the President of the Senate, David Mark by the Special Adviser to the president on National Assembly Matters, Senator Mohammed Abba-Aji, was withdrawn because of a plethora of petitions against some of the nominees. A member of the senate committee on Establishment and Cabinet matters, whose committee is saddled with the responsibility of screening the nominees, Senator Sahabi Ahmed Yahuza, disclosed that there are several controversies surrounding some of the nominees. Some of the controversies, according to Senator Sahabi, bother on security reports against them. He said the letter from the presidency withdrawing the list said the move was for proper re-adjustment of the nominees. “As it is now, we are still expecting the names of the fresh ministers from the presidency, when they will come to re-present the new re-adjusted list to us, ” Sahabi added.

The list includes 18 serving ministers and 15 new ones.
The ministerial list was necessitated by the restructuring in the federal cabinet carried out by President Yar'Adua two weeks ago. The restructuring saw the number of ministries increased to 28 with the creation of a new ministry of Niger Delta. This also means increase in the number of ministers.

Apart from the increase in number, some of Yar'Adua's ministers have been scored below average. Also, the president wants this time around, to choose the people who will work with him and to do away with a situation where the party and other powerful individuals impose ministers on him. A member of senate committee on Establishment and Cabinet Matters, Senator Kabir Gaya told Newsworld the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is battling with President Yar'Adua for not allowing them to have their way in the ministerial list earlier passed to the senate. Gaya, former governor of Kano State and an All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, from Kano State, accused the ruling party of using several political fronts and godfathers to arm-twist President Yar'Adua to appoint their protégées. “What they are now doing is to turn in to the senate spurious allegations bordering on security reports on the nominees so as to forestall their scaling through the senate screening,” he added.

The former Kano State governor berated the PDP over what he described as their greed for positions, noting: “Because they can't get what they wanted, they now want to frustrate the president. We in the senate, even though some of us are not from the PDP, we will not allow them to do so. We believe the president has good intentions for the country, and he is looking for those who will deliver the goods to the people. So, we will assist him to do just that for the country.”

It was gathered that, 22 of the 39 ministers may be dropped in the planned cabinet re-shuffle. The decision of Yar'Adua to pick his men does not go down well with the leadership of his party. They have been making moves frantic to make him change his mind. However, some persons who wish to be included in the new cabinet are using highly placed traditional rulers, former heads of state and prominent Nigerians to lobby the president.
The special adviser to the president on National Assembly Matters, Senator Abba-Aji said the president did not withdraw any ministerial list from the senate as a result of petitions against some of the nominees, but that there was need to make slight adjustments, which is why it was withdrawn.

Obviously, some ministers have performed creditably and may therefore be retained in the cabinet. Some others adjudged as below average will be made to look for job elsewhere. Newsworld gathered that the president might as well retain some members of his kitchen cabinet. Already, Mahmud Yayale Ahmed erstwhile minister of defence, a close confidant of Yar'Adua is sure of his continued membership. Ahmed was two weeks ago appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, in place of Ambassador Babagana Kingibe who was sacked for alleged over-ambition.

Though, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Micheal Aondoakaa might have had some battles at the earliest period of the administration, the president seems to have absolute confidence in the minister so he may be retained. Other ministers likely to retain their job are Abba Sayyadi Ruma (Agriculture and Water Resources, although the ministry will be restructured), Shamsudeen Usman (Finance), Sanusi Daggash (National Planning), Aliyu Modibbo Umar (FCT) and Hassan Lawal (Labour and Productivity). Lawal, even though he was inherited from Obasanjo's government is believed to have performed and may still be in the government. The minister of state, Information and Communication, Ibrahim Nakande may retain his job in the event that the PDP/ANPP accord subsists.

Among those likely to give way are Charles Ugwu, the current minister of Commerce. He was said to be involved in the importation of cement scandal, which favoured the Dangote Group. Other cement companies accused him of taking gratification from Dangote. The price of cement has remained high despite his promise that the measures taken by government will crash the price of the commodity.

The minister of Culture and Tourism, Adetokunbo Kayode may be reassigned but his counterpart in Education, Igwe Aja-Nwachukwu, may have to look for another job. Igwe has been having a running battle with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and his recent handling of teachers’ strike on salary increase did not speak too good of him.

Foreign Affairs minister, Ojo Madueke, an old bloc from Obasanjo's regime will also bow out. His recent comments about hanging of some Nigerians in overseas countries on drug trafficking was negative. Also, his image laundering project tagged “citizenship diplomacy” did not work out. Newsworld gathered that the minister of Information, John Odey may be sacked because of his alleged poor handling of the health saga of the president. Likely to get the boot also are ministers of Transportation, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Science and Technology, Grace Ekpiwhre and Women Affairs, Saudatu Usman Bungudu.

Top notchers in the PDP and the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo were said to have filed in damaging security reports against some of the names in the list like the former deputy senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, Auwalu Yadudu and the present minister of Justice and Attorney General, Michael Aondoakaa.

Mantu, Newsworld gathered was petitioned by some people from the PDP national secretariat and his home state, Plateau, recalling his actions and deeds, as deputy senate president and the ill-fated third term agenda of former president Obasanjo, while Aondoakaa was said to have been petitioned by the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, cataloguing the role he played with the former vice president, Abubakar Atiku, when he supervised the controversial Petroleum Development Trust Fund, PTDF. The minister of Justice, who served as Atiku’s lawyer, according to Obasanjo's petition to President Yar'Adua and the senate leadership, was said to have benefitted from PDTF contracts in controversial circumstances.

Other prominent new entrants in the ministerial list include the former Imo State governor, Chief Achike Udenwa, whose nomination was greeted with petitions from members of the Imo State PDP, who were said to have accused him of selling out the state gubernatorial ticket to another party. Apart from this, the petitioners accused Udenwa of money laundering, which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is already investigating.
However, it is not certain the fate of the PDP/ANPP accord that brought in some ANPP members into the cabinet following an agreement after the contentious general elections of 2007.

Paul Mumeh, Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President told Newsworld, that the senate is not in a hurry as regards the screening of the ministerial nominees. He said, the senate will be patient and wait for President Yar'Adua to conclude his re-adjustments of the list of nominees and represent it to the senate at a date acceptable to him, pointing out that, no senator has any vested interest on the matter.
Additional report by Anthony Maliki