Monday, 9 November 2009

Milking The Cash-Cow

The nation's continued oil crisis is blamed on a tiny group in the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, which ensures that no government oil reform policy succeeds because of its vested interests

By Emma Alozie

Long queues of vehicles have once again returned to the nation's filling stations barely three weeks after such had disrupted socio-economic activities of the country. Last month's crisis was blamed on the huge sums of money owed to independent marketers by the federal government on fuel importation. The marketers claimed that government was indebted to them to the tune of N70 billion on petroleum subsidy. As a result of this, fuel importation by the marketers was halted leaving the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation to be the sole importer of the products.

Domestic oil consumption in the country is in the region of between 30 and 35 million litres per day. Major oil marketers import about 60 percent of this figure while the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, makes up the balance. The suspension of oil importation by the marketers means that only less than 15 million litres of fuel will be available for local consumption in the country. This will definitely result in scarcity especially during festive periods when there will be increase in vehicular activities.

The scarcity was again blamed on the ongoing reform in the banking sector, which made it difficult for the marketers to get loan to finance petroleum importation.

The current scarcity started two weeks ago. At first, it was thought to be caused by panic buyers who feared that prices of petroleum products would still increase by November 1, the earlier date announced by the federal government for the commencement of its deregulation policy. But as the queues persisted, some more reasons began to emerge. It was blamed on a cabal in the NNPC and its subsidiaries who are holding the entire country to ransom. Members of the cabal are believed to be benefiting handsomely from fuel importation into the country.

Nigeria has two facilities for the storage of imported fuel – the Atlas Cove in Lagos and Mosimi in Sagamu, Ogun State. It was gathered that the cabal, in pretence of ensuring adequate fuel supply in the country, would import more than the two government owned facilities can accommodate. This will require additional storage facilities, this time private jetties. The most available ones are Yinka Folawiyo and Capital Oil. Unlike government owned facilities, storage in the private jetties attracts some charges. This time, N3 is paid per litre of petroleum product stored in these private jetties. This is a business between the cabal and owners of the jetties. The cabal is entitled to N1 on every litre of petroleum product stored. The two private storage facilities are said to have a combined storage capacity of over five million litres of any product. What this translates into is N5 million a day.

Apart from that, they also make money from inflated demurrage charges. Again, the cabal also encourages the importation of up to 66-ship load of products, which berth at the Lagos and Port Harcourt ports at the same time, awaiting discharge. About $8,000 is paid per ship whereas $2,000 is paid as demurrage to port officials. This amounts to about $48,000 as over-invoicing. With the tactical out muscling of independent marketers, the corporation has monopolised the industry. The petroleum products price regulating agency, PPPRA, was also accused of denying oil licences to oil majors.

These, in addition to commission from commodity traders swell the pocket of the cabal. Officials of Glencore, Trafigura and Vitol are believed to pay about $500,000 daily as commission to the cabal to retain the petroleum products importation contract.

The current and debilitating fuel shortage being experienced by Nigerians is as a result of the move by NNPC to muscle out opposition in product importation. And the only reason why they are desperate to oust any competition is to create the atmosphere for more kickbacks.

Levi Ajonuma, general manager, public affairs, however denied the allegations. Ajonuma, in an advertorial in national dailies, explained that it was the handiwork of oil marketers who are vexed with the federal government's directive that NNPC should ensure that there is no fuel scarcity during the U-17 World Championship being hosted in Nigeria. “Indeed there is no prize for guessing that the said story emanated from the camp of some major oil marketers still ruining the federal government's directive that NNPC should ensure that there is no fuel scarcity in the run-up to the FIFA U-17 tournament, Sallah/Christmas festivities,” Ajonuma said.

In another advertorial, a group which called itself, concerned oil industry professionals, absolved NNPC of any wrongdoing in the current state of affairs in the downstream sector of the oil industry. The advert was signed by one Engr Raphael Akintunde and Engr Amaechi Ubaka as national coordinator and secretary respectively. The association's defence however, contradicted the position of Dr. Ajonuma. Ajonuma, who in his advertorial, denied the abandonment of Atlas Cove and Mosimi jetties. “It is important to state that the NNPC has not and will not abandon the Atlas Cove storage facility and the Mosimi depot in preference for Yinka Folawiyo and Capital Oil depots. For the first time in many years, the Mosimi depot did not record a single case of pipeline rupture for a whole month. This feat enabled pumping of products to peak at 100 percent in Mosimi,” he stated. But the professional while admitting that the Yinka Folawiyo and Capital Oil facilities are on lease, submitted that the two private depots are the best in Nigeria and therefore their use should be encouraged. “It is common knowledge within the downstream sector that the Folawiyo jetty is so far the best in-shore jetty. The jetty is able to accommodate an import vessel of 30,000 metric tonnes capacity without lightening. This in turn reduces the waiting time and consequently reduces demurrage. Also, Capital Oil jetty has the second best in-shore draft after Folawiyo and as such, can accommodate vessels of 25,000 metric tonnes. This again reduces vessel turn-around time and cuts down demurrage,” the group concluded.

The existence of a cabal in the nation's oil sector is an undeniable fact. President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua in May this year when the country was gripped with fuel crisis, attributed the problem to the handiwork of a cabal in the oil sector. Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, minister of petroleum also accused the cartel of frustrating the deregulation policy of the federal government.

Gaius Obaseki, former group managing director of the NNPC in June 2009 told members of the House of Representatives ad- hoc committee probing the activities of the corporation and its subsidiaries that when he took over in 1999, he met a cabal on ground, but he fought them to a standstill. He admitted before the committee that the cartel at the NNPC was responsible for the granting of oil licences even 10 years ahead of time. Obaseki also said that he suspected that the amorphous cabal was responsible for the comatose state of the nation's four refineries.

The syndicate is said to be responsible for the dysfunctional state of the nation's refineries so as to continue to sell the local crude allocation daily and import finished products at a price determined by them. The house committee was also told how the mafia masterminded the inflation in 2000 by increasing the quantity of petrol imported into the country from 5.9 million metric tonnes to 7.3 metric tonnes only to turn around and pocket the money.

Since the advent of democracy in 1999, the country has sunk in millions of dollars in trying to revamp the ever ailing refineries. Rasheed Gbadamosi, former chairman of PPPRA, not too long ago, said the nation spent $700 million between 1999 and 2003 on both turn around maintenance and rehabilitation projects on the refineries. In 2008, $57.9 million was earmarked for the turn around maintenance, TAM, of Kaduna refinery alone.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been voted in to revive the refineries. Rather, the authorities from the NNPC and petroleum ministry continue to contradict each other on the true state of the refineries. In an interview with journalists in London recently, Lukman promised that three out of the four refineries would be back to their full capacity soon. But the acting director of the department of petroleum resources, DPR, Billy Agha, said that local refining has been on the free fall without any hope of picking up soon. “If we recall, the local production of petroleum products has generally continued to fall as the refineries are operating under very low capacity utilisation.”

Investigations have shown that the refineries no matter how hard the government tries may never work. A source told this magazine that the same persons that make sure that several million dollars is expended on turn around maintenance, TAM, will also ensure that the refineries would still lay prostrate because of their entrenched interests. “These men are not working alone. They maintain various strategic positions at the NNPC in the interest of their fellow powerful importers and this perhaps explains why no matter how hard the government of the day tries, the refineries would not work,” the source said.

The cabal would not allow what it regards as external influence to jeopardise members' personal interest, which is to continue to reap the oil lucre. Sources equally revealed to this magazine that during the Obasanjo administration, all proposals brought through the corporation for government to help out in the establishment of new and modern refineries never saw the light of the day because what the clique continued to drum in the ears of the then president was that the project is capital intensive.

At the height of the oil boom during the Obasanjo regime, Nigerians in Diaspora presented a proposal on how to make the nation's oil sector more efficient. They had argued that no matter how many licenses the government grants to private individuals for new refineries, the prohibitive cost of a refinery coupled with the suspicion of foreign investors on the political stability of Nigeria would make it almost impossible for private individuals to invest in the downstream sector of Nigeria's oil industry. They therefore proposed that the government should set aside at least $10 billion from the excess crude account and treat such as loan advance to individuals who would then use such money to build refineries. According to them, there should be a five year moratorium on the loan, which should be interest free. With this, it was strongly believed that these high net worth individuals would site the refineries without consideration to the usual Nigeria geo-politics and by now, it would have been yielding the desired result.

This proposal was killed by the top echelon of NNPC because it would put an end to their products import slush fund and take business away from their outside collaborators. The cabal argued that government has no business in doing business and has heightened the campaign that deregulation is the only solution to the numerous problems besetting the sector.

Doubt Over New Textile Policy

Government's stance of injecting over N100 billion into the dying textile industry is raising some misgivings among stakeholders

By Raphael Nkwocha

Former textile worker, Mr. Akintunde Olayinka with the defunct Arewa Textile Company in Kaduna, located along the Kaduna-Abuja road which has been put for sale believes that most statements from the government are nothing but political, and are never implemented. Olayinka was reacting to the statement made by the minister of commerce and industry, Chief Achike Udenwa that government is giving N100 billion comprehensive lifeline to the textile industry. The minister had revealed that the proposal which was submitted to the government has received government backing and will soon be implemented.
Newsworld gathered that the quest to arrest the collapse of the nation's textile industry from under the weight of the hostile business environment in the country was conceived by the former administration of Olusegun Obasanjo. N70 billion was first budgeted as intervention fund which did not see the light of the day. However, some intricacies attached to the pooling of the fund did not allow it to take off. The latest fund the minister said, is to enable Nigerian textile companies invest in critical areas of need in order to strengthen the sector against foreign competition.
The fund was initially planned to be sourced through the Eurobond, a European multilateral organisation with facilities for enterprise development in the developing world. But somehow, the federal government failed to meet the conditions as stipulated by Eurobond and this resulted in the failure to make the loan accessible to the sector.
Meanwhile the country's textile sector has completely collapsed. Stating the fate of the sector, the general secretary of the National Union of Textile, Garments and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, Comrade Issa Aremu told Newsworld that 38 textile firms have so far closed shop and 15 others operate skeletal businesses, while only three are still in business. The biggest hit came last year when the textile largest mill on the continent of Africa, United Nigeria Textile Company collapsed, causing over 5000 direct job losses and over 30,000 indirect ones including those of suppliers, traders and cotton growers.
Comrade Issa Aremu revealed that so many factors have aided in crippling the textile firms. Amongst them are perennial power supply failure, dearth of expansion fund, payment of multiple taxes, prohibitive interest rates, high cost of imported raw materials and a stiff competition from the booming second hand clothing business. Newsworld gathered that before the Obasanjo government decided to offer a lifeline to the sector, all the major indices of production in the sector had nose-dived. For example, the sector, which had an official workforce of about 253,000 people in 1992, had less than 60,000 in 2006. The minister, Achike Udenwa, disclosed that the N70 billion intervention fund for the textile sector proposed by the last administration was not realised before its terminal date, but that the present administration is proposing a N100 billion to save the industry and it will be sourced from the Bank of Industry and the World Banks and also that it will be implemented according to the World Bank conditions.
The scheme known as the cotton and government scheme is geared towards the revival of the comatose textile industry. According to the minister of state for commerce and industry, Mr. Humphrey Abba at the international conference on Nigeria's textile industry , the fund is only accessible by credible organisations and it will be on a single digit interest rate for the borrowers, but Mr. Felix Adeduwo stated that if only government will implement the revitalisation scheme, it will increase the industry's earnings by N300 billion. He also stated that the sector can be revived in two years from now and within five years, will generate a minimum of 10million direct and indirect employment opportunities not only in Nigeria but also, to all other parts of the world. Comrade Aremu revealed that the N100 billion scheme can only be realistic if the government matches its words with action and it should also improve on the factors militating against its smooth running like interrupted power supply, reduction in multiple taxes and enforcement of government ban on second hand clothes. He also revealed that the government should first put its house in order as most of the importers of textile materials into the country are highly placed government officials.

NITEL: Creating A Level Playing Field

The Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, bars existing licensed GSM operators from bidding for the mobile arm of the Nigeria Telecommunications, NITEL, as the sale reaches the last stage

The Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, is making another move to privatise the Nigeria Telecommunications Plc, NITEL. This second attempt is coming less than one year after the botched effort to sell the telecommunications company to Transnational Corporation, TRANSCORP.
Already, many companies in the telecommunications business have indicated interest to buy NITEL. Industry watchers have expressed worry over the inability of BPE to effect the privatisation since 2006.
The companies that have indicated interest to buy NITEL include Etisalat Nigeria, EMTS, FineTex Consortium, MTNL Ltd, Globacom Ltd and Glob COM Ltd. Others are Anas Network Services Ltd, Telefonica Consortium, Metro Limited, Galaxy Backbone Plc and Cocnau Ltd.
Given the difficulties that have been encountered in trying to privatise NITEL, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, proposed that NITEL be unbundled into units in order to be sold separately so that any bidder could buy any combination of units.
Notwithstanding the NCC's position, the BPE told Newsworld that existing GSM operators would be barred from buying the mobile arm of NITEL if NITEL is sold by a single unbundled unit because they are presently holding GSM licenses.
According to Dr Christopher Anyanwu who is BPE's director-general, “the present GSM license holders – MTN, Glo, Zain and Etisalat, are disqualified from buying the mobile arm of NITEL (M-Tel) if M-Tel is sold as a single unbundled unit given that they are presently holders of GSM licenses.”
Agreeing with BPE's position, NCC said that the purchase of M-Tel by any of the present GSM holders would present competition challenges and would be in conflict with regulator's guidelines and licensing conditions.
Glo holds the Second National Operator, SNO license which is why NCC has ruled it out of purchasing a bundled NITEL so as not to make it have two national operator licenses which would not be good for competition, giving them an undue advantage over other operators in the country.
While agreeing that it would be right for any of the local operating firms to buy NITEL without M-Tel and SAT-3, the NCC added that a reserved price tag should be placed on each unbundled unit of NITEL in proportion to its potential market value and asset base.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Chief Earnest Ndukwe said that NITEL's assets consist of digital mobile license, fixed wireless, land line and long distance operator licenses, international cable landing right license and value added licenses.
To get maximum use of the unbundling bid, it is believed that NITEL can be unbundled into digital mobile license and infrastructure gateway and SAT-3 submarine cable access. Other components include fixed network, CDMA fixed wireless, digital switches, external line plants cable network and metropolitan fibre cable networks.
Chief Ndukwe is of the opinion that CDMA fixed wireless network could be upgraded to a CDMA mobile network if the buyer obtains a universal access (internet service provider, prepaid card, coin box, internet exchange point, etc.).
Chief Ndukwe further said that unbundling NITEL would help BPE to overcome some of the regulatory barriers since “each buyer will likely pay a higher price for the component it values most important for its strategic plan. It will thereby enable government to make more money from the entire privatisation process.”
According to Ndukwe, unbundling would enable the small and medium size operators to participate in the process, thereby increasing the number of players and creating more chances of getting buyers for each component.
“The more the number of participants, the more the competition for the purchase of the items,” he noted.
The NCC boss said that 090 analogue equipment was obsolete and may not have much market value because “telecommunication is a fast changing industry, hence equipment and systems have tendency to become obsolete very quickly.”
One analyst who is not impressed with the expressions so far is Barrister Ndioye Uteh who said the unbundling of NITEL might present a more complicated challenge because selling NITEL in units might not be appealing to prospective investors.

The Power Behind The Throne

The unabashed appointment of Katisna State indigenes into public office against the federal character principle as enshrined in the constitution is attributed to a powerful group formed in President Yar'Adua's home state in 1998

By Emma Alozie

Dangiwa Abubakar Umar, a retired colonel and former military governor of Kaduna State sees something wrong with some appointments made by President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua since he became president in 2007. Umar was particularly irked that the president's appointments are tilting towards Katsina State, his home state, an act he described as “a disturbing pattern of nepotism, cronyism and chronic disability to treat the whole country as a single constituency.” According to him “all too often as in this instance, a high profile office falls vacant and the president rushes to locate an indigene of Katsina – or in some cases Kano State – to fill it. Few can pretend not to notice or take issues with the choice of Katsina-born Alhaji Abdullahi Indi, an assistant comptroller-general, a lower level position in the hierarchy of that institution, as comptroller-general after recent appointments of Katsina State indigenes as chief executive officers of a string of parastatals including the Petroleum Training Development Fund, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, the National Inland Waterways Authority and for that matter, Federal Road Maintenance Agency.”
The former military governor has voiced what many have found difficult to say. Although the letters of the nation's constitution advocates the principle of federal character in the appointment or employment into federal ministries, departments or agencies, MDAs, the president is ready to breach this principle to satisfy certain interests. Perhaps, what Umar and many other Nigerians do not know is that these appointments are influenced by forces which came to be way back in 1998 when the president was aspiring to be governor of Katsina State. The emergence of the group which today is still known as the Katsina Mafia can be said to be fortuitous. As a governorship aspirant in 1999, President Yar'Adua did not have the wherewithal to successfully prosecute the project. He therefore sought and got the assistance of some good Katsina State indigenes to raise money for his campaign. Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in a piece titled: “Yar'Adua, Great Expectations, Disappointing Outcome” which was published in el-Rufai's blog earlier this year, said, “The PDP has from its inception, perfected the bad habit of expecting its candidates for political office to bear the disproportionate burden of campaign expenses. So Umaru got the ticket but had to raise monies for his governorship bid. As the head of the Yar'Adua family, he was assumed to be wealthy. This was far from the truth. Umaru had no money to spend on the governorship.” The minister who is now a fugitive in America, said a group of young professionals of Katsina State origin, who had made money from the Petroleum Special Trust Fund, PTF, programme under the supervision of General Muhammadu Buhari, came to his rescue. Their leader was Tanimu Yakubu, an Economics graduate of Wagner College, New York. He rallied round the likes of Dr. Aminu Safana and Ibrahim Shema who is now the governor of Katsina State. Nura Khalil was part of the group but decamped to the then All Peoples Party, APP. Other businessmen like Dahiru Mangal and Ahmadi Kurfi contributed financially to the “Yar'Adua for Governor Campaign” in 1998/99.
What began as a fund raising group has held thick from 1999 till date. Perhaps as a way of showing appreciation for the magnanimity of these fund raisers, the then Governor Umaru Yar'Adua formed what was then known as Katsina Group of 11, (K-11), which he later increased to K-34. This group included his kitchen cabinet members, party leaders, state assembly leadership and his campaign financiers. They thus became the main vehicle for the political control and governance of Katsina State. Notable among this K-34 are Tanimu Yakubu, Aminu Safana, Ibrahim Shema, Nura Khalil, Dahiru Mangal, Ahmadi Kurfi, Sayyadi Abba Ruma, Aminu Bello Masari and Samaila Mamman among others.
After the 1999 election in which they were supremely responsible for the emergence of Yar'Adua as governor, positions were used to compensate those that were to be compensated and the rest continued to enjoy juicy contracts. Tanimu Yakubu became commissioner of finance, Aminu Safana was appointed the secretary to the state government, SSG, Ibrahim Shema became the attorney general and commissioner of justice, Masari was catapulted to the House of Representatives and was later given massive support to become its speaker while Mangal chose whichever contract he wanted.
As cohesive as this group looked from the outset, there has been some re-alignments since then. Aminu Safana left for the House of Representatives, Tanimu Yakubu was recommended for appointment as managing director of Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, FMBN, in Abuja; Abba Ruma who was in the opposition party was lured to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and was appointed SSG while Bello Masari has since been estranged for two reasons – his opposition to the former President Olusegun Obasanjo's third term against the directive of the then Governor Yar'Adua, and his ambition to become governor of Katsina State whereas Yar'Adua had already anointed Shema as his successor. Senator Samaila Mamman had his disagreement and never returned to the Senate, while Senator Kanti Bello who initially in 1999 defected to the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, because of the governorship ticket denied him in preference to Yar'Adua came back to the PDP fold in 2002. He was elected senator in 2003 and again returned in 2007 where he is presently the Senate chief whip.
With the emergence of Yar'Adua as president in 2007, the group relocated to Abuja where it became a powerful influence in federal appointments. So far, the men are holding sway, dictating the pace of the administration and are ever willing to tell any willing ear that they are in control. Even some prominent northerners are complaining about the unabashed way this group is carrying out its business in Aso Rock. Though the first lady, Hajia Turai Yar'Adua is not an official member of this group, her influence looms very large in the affairs of governance.
The tilt of the appointments confirms the grip of the K-34 at the corridors of power. From the financial sector to the oil sector, from the National Assembly to the public service, the K-34 members have been flexing their muscles and fixing whoever they want from Katsina State in key positions. For instance, for the first time in recent memory, Senator Kanti Bello, the Senate chief whip and a ranking member of the K-34 was made the Amir Hajj ahead of the usual principal officers of the National Assembly. So far, there are over 15 federal appointments in favour of Katsina State indigenes since the inception of Yar'Adua's government.
Oil blocs and oil lifting licenses have been redesigned to accommodate the interests of the K-34 cabal. From the 50 licenses the Obasanjo government granted to various oil companies, Yar'Adua came and pruned it down to 28, making it possible for the K-34 to make in-roads in who gets what? Today, Petro Energy, owned by Dahiru Mangal, an avowed K-34 member is calling the shots in oil lifting business in Nigeria. CAMAC Petroleum and Sahara Energy are two oil lifting companies that members of the Katsina clique has interest in. In fact, a source disclosed that top members of the cabal are just using their goons to front these oil companies.
One thing interesting about this group is that the inner circle may not only be those with Katsina State origin alone, but anybody that has one thing or the other to do with the first family may be inducted into the amorphous powerful group. This explains why marrying the president's daughter is considered to be the wisest thing to do now in the political circle. The two sitting governors who did that have a lot of flowing influence from that singular act.
Garba Shehu, a media executive noted that, “there are these impressions that the president is holding power for his home state, Katsina and the north-west geopolitical zone to the disadvantage of other areas and, understandably, this has been generating an angry rhetoric from the citizens on whose behalf state power is supposedly being exercised.”
In Katsina where the group has tremendous influence, every political position in the state in 2011 has been shared. Sources say that Governor Shema has fallen out of favour with the K-34. His sin is that he is trying to be his own man and is running the state the way he deems proper. The governor has been labeled disloyal to the interest of the president and therefore must be sacrificed. A top member of the group is reportedly penciled down already to take over from him in 2011. Sources disclosed that the governor is trying to placate the president and the group with the naming of Katsina State University after Mr. President.
Katsina Mafia may be an off-shot of the dreaded Kaduna Mafia, which was formed in 1966 after the Nzeogwu coup. Famous members of the group included Adamu Ciroma, Mamman Daura, Ibrahim Tahir, Mahmud Tukur, Shehu Musa Yar'Adua and Muhammadu Buhari. The Kaduna mafia had one unique feature: most of them are ex-students of the famous Barewa College, Zaria, the oldest high school in northern Nigeria. Probably to show that the school is a fertile ground for breeding men of power, it has produced four of Nigeria's 13 heads of states since after independence – Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Shehu Shagari and now Umaru Yar'Adua.
The power and influence of the group might have waned since the creation of Katsina State in 1991. A great majority of the Kaduna Mafia are now of Katisna State origin. Also, the emergence of Abuja as the nation's power base and its proximity to Kaduna State might have whittled down the influence of the group.
Again, there was the Lantang mafia, which was made up of top military officers in the country from Lantang in Plateau State. This group influenced appointments into the army and into political offices during military rule in the country. The group fizzled out with the retirement of General Domkat Bali from the army in 1991. The return of the country to civil democracy further weakened the influence of this group. Nigerians believe that like the previous groups, the Katsina mafia will be history with the passage of time.

C'River Suspends Award Of Contracts

The global economic meltdown takes its toll on the Cross River State economy

By Increase Abasi-Ubong

The state government which had embarked on aggressive infrastructural development including, construction and rehabilitation of roads as well as rural electrification, has had to scale down some of the projects.

Sources at the Diamond Hill Government House told this magazine that the state government has placed embargo on the award of new contracts. The state government is also said to have decided to suspend all ongoing projects due to its dwindling economy.

Government's decision not to award new contracts is adversely affecting the state. Predominantly a civil service state, enterpreneurs in Cross River State depend solely on government for survival, so government's decision not to award new contracts may force some businesses in the state to fold up.
While presenting the 2009 budget to the state House of Assembly, Governor Liyel Imoke disclosed that the state is seriously hit by the economic recession noting that the state “cannot ignore the ominous signs now gathering like a storm in the cloud of the international sky. “The global meltdown along with all the accompanying indications suggests that all is not well and this demands from us, a new strategy of survival in these trying times. This is why we have tried to be pragmatic as possible in our approach to making choices,” he further stated.

The state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Kelly Ayamba told Newsworld that despite the circumstance, the state government has devised strategies for survival.
He further told this magazine that the state has adopted survival strategies including exploring and maximally harnessing, “all legal sources of internally generated revenue available to the state with a view to providing in the long run, a viable alternative source of funding for government programmes.”

The special adviser to the governor (Budget Monitoring and Evaluation), Dr. Peter Oti told Newsworld that despite the challenges posed by the global economic meltdown, the state government is committed towards achieving its set goals. “There may be challenges no doubt, but government would be pro-active in policy formulation and implementation.”

Dr. Oti further told this magazine that while the state started 2009 with a bleak future due to the global economic meltdown, “this situation is a signal for us to be inward looking and take firm charge of situations we can control.”
On measures put in place by the state government to cushion the effect of the economic recession, he noted with regrets that, “since inflow from the federation account cannot be fully relied on, we must make effort to step up our state machinery for internally generated revenue.”

Rekindling Sardauna's Legacies

Over N5.12 billion was realised at the memorial foundation launch of the late premier of the defunct Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, which was organised by the Northern Governors' Forum, NGF

By Femi Olanrewaju

After about one month postponement, the Northern Governors' Forum, NGF, on October 18, launched the memorial foundation for Sir Ahmadu Bello, former premier of the defunct northern region. The launching was done in collaboration with the Board of Trustees, BoT, of the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation Appeal Fund aimed at reviving the legacies left behind by the late sage. Nigerians from all walks of life attended the launch held at the Murtala Square, Kaduna. Former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) chaired the occasion. Dignitaries at the occasion paid glowing tributes to the late Sardauna. President Umar Yar'Adua was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed who expressed concern that the legacies left behind by the late Sardauna are gradually dying. Chairman of the Northern Governor's Forum, Alhaji Babangida Aliyu urged his colleagues to imitate the ideals of the late premier. “We therefore call on our elders and leaders to have a common interest and desire to help our people to live above partisanship, above selfish and parochial interest. These are the values we are promoting in our various states as political leaders and the disciples of Sir Ahmadu Bello whose sojourn in life made significant impact on our lives,” Aliyu who is also the governor of Niger State stated. He expressed the hope that Nigeria could get back on track if the leaders embrace lost social and moral values of the discipline and respect for the law and order in the land. He disclosed that the foundation was aimed at promoting good governance, responsible leadership for the region and the country in the areas of agriculture, education, resuscitating ailing industries, eradication of poverty, destitution and street begging.
The chairman of the occasion, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), was full of praises for the NGF for immortalising the late premier. Gowon noted that the Sardauna “towered his peers. He was a charismatic figure and a true servant of the north. He was passionate about education in order to narrow the educational gap between the north and the south.”

Former civilian president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari who said the late Sardauna was his teacher at the Sokoto Middle School, described him as a dedicated and disciplined leader who wanted the unity of Nigeria. And for Alhaji Balarabe Musa, national chairman of the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, the Sardauna is incomparable with the present leaders of the north because, “he was not a thief like the leaders of today. They have been unable to dissociate themselves from stealing. His legacies were not based on falsehood; they were based on real achievements and patriotism.” Balarabe further added that the late Sardauna did a lot to solve the problems of the north as much as he could. “He would have achieved much more if he was like Aminu Kano. He achieved a lot because he had integrity but the present leaders who are claiming to be his disciples do not have any integrity. They do not have anything in common with him because he lived a life of transparency, accountability and above all, he championed the cause of all. But the present leaders are thieves.”
Born in Rabah, Sokoto province in 1909, Ahmadu Bello was a descendant of late Usman Dan Fodio, the great West African Islamic revivalist who founded the Sokoto Caliphate. Ahmadu Bello started his political career as a councilor with the Sokoto Native Authority where he improved the local police, prison and other organs under his control before he was later elected to represent Sokoto in the defunct Northern House of Assembly in 1949. He later became premier of the region, which now comprises of 19 states.
As a premier, Ahmadu Bello established many industries such as Kaduna Textiles Limited, KTL, New Nigerian Newspapers, NNN, New Nigerian Development Corporation, NNDC, the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna, Kaduna Polytechnic, among others. Although some of the establishments are now taken over by the federal government, most of them have been mismanaged.

After about one month postponement, the Northern Governors' Forum, NGF, on October 18, launched the memorial foundation for Sir Ahmadu Bello, former premier of the defunct northern region. The launching was done in collaboration with the Board of Trustees, BoT, of the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation Appeal Fund aimed at reviving the legacies left behind by the late sage. Nigerians from all walks of life attAended the launch held at the Murtala Square, Kaduna. Former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) chaired the occasion. Dignitaries at the occasion paid glowing tributes to the late Sardauna. President Umar Yar'Adua was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed who expressed concern that the legacies left behind by the late Sardauna are gradually dying. Chairman of the Northern Governor's Forum, Alhaji Babangida Aliyu urged his colleagues to imitate the ideals of the late premier. “We therefore call on our elders and leaders to have a common interest and desire to help our people to live above partisanship, above selfish and parochial interest. These are the values we are promoting in our various states as political leaders and the disciples of Sir Ahmadu Bello whose sojourn in life made significant impact on our lives,” Aliyu who is also the governor of Niger State stated. He expressed the hope that Nigeria could get back on track if the leaders embrace lost social and moral values of the discipline and respect for the law and order in the land. He disclosed that the foundation was aimed at promoting good governance, responsible leadership for the region and the country in the areas of agriculture, education, resuscitating ailing industries, eradication of poverty, destitution and street begging.
The chairman of the occasion, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), was full of praises for the NGF for immortalising the late premier. Gowon noted that the Sardauna “towered his peers. He was a charismatic figure and a true servant of the north. He was passionate about education in order to narrow the educational gap between the north and the south.”

Former civilian president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari who said the late Sardauna was his teacher at the Sokoto Middle School, described him as a dedicated and disciplined leader who wanted the unity of Nigeria. And for Alhaji Balarabe Musa, national chairman of the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, the Sardauna is incomparable with the present leaders of the north because, “he was not a thief like the leaders of today. They have been unable to dissociate themselves from stealing. His legacies were not based on falsehood; they were based on real achievements and patriotism.” Balarabe further added that the late Sardauna did a lot to solve the problems of the north as much as he could. “He would have achieved much more if he was like Aminu Kano. He achieved a lot because he had integrity but the present leaders who are claiming to be his disciples do not have any integrity. They do not have anything in common with him because he lived a life of transparency, accountability and above all, he championed the cause of all. But the present leaders are thieves.”
Born in Rabah, Sokoto province in 1909, Ahmadu Bello was a descendant of late Usman Dan Fodio, the great West African Islamic revivalist who founded the Sokoto Caliphate. Ahmadu Bello started his political career as a councilor with the Sokoto Native Authority where he improved the local police, prison and other organs under his control before he was later elected to represent Sokoto in the defunct Northern House of Assembly in 1949. He later became premier of the region, which now comprises of 19 states.

As a premier, Ahmadu Bello established many industries such as Kaduna Textiles Limited, KTL, New Nigerian Newspapers, NNN, New Nigerian Development Corporation, NNDC, the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna, Kaduna Polytechnic, among others. Although some of the establishments are now taken over by the federal government, most of them have been mismanaged.

Mitigating SMEs Losses

Losses suffered by most small scale businesses could not be mitigated due to absence of insurance policy. But small scale business operators blame this on treachery on the part of insurance companies

By Onu Okorie

May 28, 2009 started like any other day for an industrialist, Chief Ndi Nweke until he arrived his business premises in Ebute-metta, Lagos. Nweke watched in bewilderment how the three storey building that housed his bakery collapsed and turned his factory to rubbles. Since then life has not been the same for him. Efforts to raise fresh capital from his bank to resuscitate his business have consistently proved abortive. It was not until then that he realised the importance of insurance. Insurance cover could have been the only option for him to revive his business if he had made provision for insurance cover for his business.
Nweke's case is just one out of many Nigerian's small and medium entrepreneurs who have neglected insurance cover for their businesses. Newsworld survey indicates that over 80 percent of SMEs are not insured. As at the last count, 20 percent of businesses in the organised private sector have suffered losses due to problems traceable to risk that could be mitigated if it were insured. In the real sector of the economy, many cottage firms such as paint industries, food and beverage, manufacturing and textiles companies have closed businesses because of insurable losses they incurred.
An industrialist, Chief Ndike Uche, told this magazine that many entrepreneurs who could not convince their banks to raise fresh capital to inject into their business particularly in the case of infernos would have no option than to close shop. Chief Ndike disclosed that about five percent of entrepreneurs' business premises in Onitsha, Anambra State have gone out of business due to inferno since the beginning of this year. “Those whose business were affected but not insured and had no other means of raising capital would definitely close shop” he said.
A Lagos based industrial analyst, Ideh Ojo told this magazine that one of the major causes of loss of business particularly in Lagos is insurance apathy among SME owners. According to him, “Lagos is a very volatile zone where anything can happen. Most entrepreneurs face risk of insecurity, inferno and of recent, the problem of possible collapse of building that is housing businesses in Lagos. Many businessmen who encounter these misfortunes always have themselves to blame because their businesses are not insured.”
A financial analyst, Lanre Oniyitan said that there are three most important factors insurance companies and business owners should bear in mind when thinking of SME insurance. These are: physical asset, employee benefits and public liability. While berating the apathy of owners of SMEs towards insurance, managing director of Arizona Insurance Brokers, Bonaventure Obiora pointed out different areas SMEs could be covered. These include health risks, illness, injury or death. They can also be insured through property risks, damage and loss as well as agricultural risks comprising low yield, livestock theft and fire. Obiora further noted that disability due to accident and natural disasters such as ecology, wind and warlike risks are also covered by insurance.
But some entrepreneurs who spoke to this magazine attributed the neglect of insurance by entrepreneurs to the act of treachery by insurance companies. According to the managing director, Chiks Chemicals Industries Limited, Chief Chidinma Sonne, many of these insurance companies are good at throwing wheels at the banner when it came to paying claims to their customers. He said he has a good number of cases in which the insurance company failed to keep their own part of the bargain when it comes to claims. “Many of us prefer to bear our risk because we cannot trust operators in the insurance industry based on past experiences unless if things change,” he said.
Oniyitan however, said operators of SMEs are concerned with the daily operations of the business than preparing for rainy days. “In other words, the sheer optimism most SMEs bring to the table is a double edged sword; they may have the vision and energy to come up with great ideas, but they also have little time to spin their own safety net,” he asserted.
Given the place of the SMEs in the economic growth, it is worrisome that government in the past has developed various policies to scale up activities of SMEs, but have not factored insurance into it. Some policy framework, small scale industrialist credit scheme, CBN special credit programme for SMEs, the defunct National Economic Reconstruction Fund and World Bank facility as well as Peoples Bank, Community Bank, Small and Medium Enterprises Equity Investment Scheme, recently, micro-finance banks have been developed to give impetus to small scale businesses without the consideration for insurance.

The Survival Series Beckons

As reality Television shows take centre stage, Taraba State government partners with Eco Challenge Limited to attract tourism through exposing Nigeria's best kept secret

By George Emine

The Mountain of Death Survival Series 1, is a reality TV show which promises to take reality shows in Nigeria to the next pedestal; the first international Nigerian reality show. The event would feature 50 finalists who would be tested to their limits in their intellect, strength and endurance, through some of the most challenging and demanding obstacles. According to the organisers, the event is to attract able-bodied men and women, “who find overcoming natural challenges as a way of inner fulfilment in a survival trek.”
While industry watchers continue to wonder how the highest mountain in Nigeria, with so much mystical and superstitious beliefs around it can be conquered, many exercise hope based on the antecedents of the organisers, ECO Challenge Limited. About two years ago, this same group had brought to mere moonlight tales, the myth surrounding the mystical Zuma rock, which before that time was held in awe. It was believed that no one had ever gotten to the foot of Zuma Rock and returned alive, until the team from Eco Challenge Limited proved otherwise.
After Zuma rock was the Mountain of Death or Chappal Wade as it is called in Fulfulde, the native tongue. Standing at the height of 2,442 metres or 7,963 feet above sea level, the mountain is located in the Adamawa Mountains, in a remote corner of Gashaka-Gumti National Park. This is why it is called the roof of Nigeria.
According to Alhaji Usman Abubakar Gumi, the MD/CEO of Eco Challenge, his team is poised to bring into open, Nigeria's best kept secret. He said the Gashaka Gumti National Park is one rich tourist site which when put to proper use, can rake in huge profits annually. What the survival series intends to do, beginning with the Mountain of Death, is to expose the huge tourism potentials of Nigeria, bringing into limelight, hitherto silent and unsung tourist sites.
Gashaka Gumti National Park which happens to be the biggest national park in Nigeria has been in relative obscurity. The park has one of the most outstanding evidence of German occupation in Nigeria as revealed by the remains of a fort built by the German soldiers during World War I. it is also home to the only rain forest in northern Nigeria, with an array of water bodies which form the source of the survival of the River Benue. Covering about 6,600 sq km and home to over 300 animal species, the Gashak Gumti National Park is blessed with five habitats, about 13 species of bats, 11 species of primates, 24 species of carnivals, 433 species of birds, 300 species of butterflies, 23 species of reptiles and many more. The park is home to the largest Chimpanzee community in Nigeria and its environs. It is this wealth of nature that the Survival Series 1 would expose to world knowledge.
The Taraba State government under Governor Danbaba Suntai has therefore decided to key into this opportunity to expose the potentials of the state and create an alternative income earner in tourism. Born about 18 years ago, Taraba is the state with the highest number of languages in Nigeria with heaving landscapes, an assortment of mineral reserves and unpolluted climatic conditions peculiar to Scotland.
But attractive as it may seem, the trek through the five habitats of Gashaka Gumti, amongst wildlife, and culminating at the peak of Nigeria's highest mountain, is not without its problems. As a matter of fact, the very endearing qualities are a real threat to life. A trek in this region is a breathtaking experience emphasising power, strength, and dynamics. The difficult terrain; dynamic weather which could get very cold and very hot, cloudy and misty; and the large family of wild animals in their natural habitat all combine to pose a threat to health as well as life. The fact that a death assurance package is in the offing for contestants has done little to allay the fears of Nigerians who would want to participate.
It would be recalled that in a less challenging terrain at the Shere Hills in Jos, the fourth edition of the Gulder Ultimate Search lost one of its contestants, Anthony Ogadje who drowned and died in questionable circumstances. Even the presence of an attendant team of lifeguards trained in first aid for drowning, and the retinue of medical staff supposedly trained in resuscitation techniques, as well as fellow contestants could not save his life.
The worry therefore is: how safe is the survival series beginning with the trek to the top of the mountain of death? From explanations from the organisers during a recent press conference in Abuja, the survival show would be rather tasking and demanding. One would therefore expect a great deal of endurance, strength and the ability to withstand high thresholds of pain or other forms of deprivation. According to Engr. Charles Nyanganji, the project Director, all the difficulties have been taken care of. Mr Emeka Mba, Director General of the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board, also stated that it is a laudable venture which would portray Nigeria in good light before the world.
The overall winner would go home with a N10, 000,000 cash prize, a sports utility vehicle SUV, and two weeks vacation anywhere of choice in the world. The event comes up within the first quarter of next year.

Ghana Vs Nigeria: Between Truth And Fallacy

As it is often said, the greatest calamity that could befall a man is self deception. It is a fact in history that since independence Nigerian leaders have been deceiving themselves, and by implication the Nigerian nation and Nigerian people. Nigerian leaders have been pursuing developmental programmes and policies on the TV and pages of newspapers. It does not go beyond their oesophagus because it is not concrete and original. Beneath them, all is corruption. That is the most concrete and original thing that underpins their initiation, conceptualisation and pronouncement. This is the deception that has helped cripple Nigerian potentials, character and contents.
We delude ourselves that we are the giant of Africa simply because the wealth of the masses is at the disposal of our leaders to dole out to other African countries that are in need. This is done without regard to the yearnings and aspirations of the citizens. Without putting the future of this nation into consideration, investible monies are squandered pursuing the big brother Africa status. They believe that the greatness of Africa lies in donating monies to other brother African countries. Some African leaders have acted patriotically in the repositioning of their countries to put smiles on the faces of their people. The role of such leaders like Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, Amilca Cabral, Nelson Mandela and, of recent, Jerry Rawlings deserves special mention. They stood out not only because they had progressive ideas, but because they were honest, courageous and selfless. For instance, about two decades ago Nigerians fled Ghana because of the activities of corrupt leaders. Today Ghana dwarfs Nigeria in all facets of living. Ghana has today become Switzerland to Nigerian public officials. Major conferences that ought to be organised in Nigeria now hold in Ghana. Nigerian students, rich men and investors have relocated or are relocating to Ghana en-mass. The secret of Ghana's success is predicated on simple but responsive leadership initiated by Jerry Rawlings' political revolution – a tactical political surgery that eliminated those irresponsive elements that continuously mismanaged the common destiny of Ghanaians.
While Rawlings found it extremely important to eliminate them in order to pave the way for the advancement of the fatherland, Nigerians celebrate their corrupt leaders despite the worst atrocities they commit against the people and the nation. As they steal and plunder the commonwealth, Nigerians hail them as achievers and men of clout. While Ghana's achievement was rooted in the understanding that those that were responsible for the country's woes must give way, looting and corruption continues to hold Nigeria and her people backward in the face of a progressing Ghana.
Rawlings was in Nigeria recently to teach the challenges of democracy in Africa on the invitation of Media Trust, publishers of Trust newspapers. The chairman of Ghana's electoral commission was also in Nigeria to lecture us on how to conduct free and fair elections in Nigeria. Somebody from Ghana's national fire service ministry is billed to admonish Nigerians on fire safety in an upcoming seminar.
The lecture series is not limited to the political circle alone. Even the recently concluded FIFA U-20 World Cup was part of the lecture series. The Ghanaian team taught their Nigerian counterparts the role of commitment, discipline, courageousness and patriotism as a pre-requisite to success. This is the secret of Ghana's emergent success. Can the same thing be said of our own leaders? Which country will be so naïve to invite them to come and speak in their national seminars or conferences? Until we tell ourselves the truth, we will continue to rely on Ghana for now.

The Price Of Hospitality

Cases of rape and prevalent rate of HIV/AIDS infection are on the increase in Cross River State. This is blamed on the influx of visitors to the state because of its tourism potentials and the behavioural attitude of the people

By Increase Abasi-Ubong

The tourism potentials, which gave rise to the annual Christmas festival in Calabar, Cross River State is turning out to be a source of worry to people of the state. Research has shown that sexual violence and prevalence of the dreaded human immuno-deficiency virus, HIV, have been on the increase in the state. The research conducted by Network to Curb Sexual Abuse, NECUSA, a coalition of non-governmental organisations, NGOs, with membership drawn from the state ministry of justice, Medical Women Association, Nigeria Bar Association, the media and the police revealed that cases of sexual violence is on the increase in Cross River State. The research indicates that girls and women in the state are no longer safe as they are potential rape victims. “Results have shown that there is a very high incidence of sexual violence where this research was carried out. In five of the six communities, it happens almost on a daily basis and the major perpetrators of sexual abuse are neighbours, strangers and even fathers to daughters.”
Because of the serene atmosphere in Cross River State, blue chip companies, business concerns and government establishments at all levels view the state as a safe haven to hold conferences, workshops and annual general meetings. The annual Christmas carnival has also attracted many visitors and fun seekers to the state. This exposes young girls and women in Cross River State to sexual abuse and harassment. A source at the State Action Committee on AIDS, SACA, told this magazine that the prevalent rate of HIV/AIDS in Cross River State is rising astronomically. Few years ago, the prevalence rate was about 6.1 percent. It has now gone up to about eight percent. This magazine gathered that more people are at risk of being infected with the virus because of the behavioural approach of the people especially in rural areas.
NECUSA also noted that, “there is a high incidence of sexual abuse by religious leaders in these communities,” adding that the victims are largely from poor background and of very young ages of between 11 and 15 years. Men, according to the research, are not spared. It said men are also being abused by women sexually. “It is striking to note that the case of men being abused has been identified although it is minimal.”
The rapists capitalise on the ignorance of their victims to go scot free. Majority of the victims are ignorant of the existence of the laws protecting girls and women from all forms of abuse while the enlightened victims most times lack the resources to seek legal redress.
Stigmatisation is also one of the reasons rape victims often do not want to seek legal redress. “Most victims of sexual abuse do not report it because they do not know how or where they can do so. Some of them are not only scared of the perpetrators, but are also afraid of being asked questions by law enforcement agents. Most of the time, the families of the victims are not even ready to pursue the case to a logical end,” the research added.
The coordinator of Girl Power Initiative, GPI, Professor Bene Madunagu blamed the escalating cases of violent abuse of girls and women on the Nigerian legal system. She told this magazine that the punishment prescribed by the law for rapists is not weighty enough to deter offenders. “Paying fine is the most common form of punishment for sexual abusers and the fines range from N2, 000 to N5, 000; and very few (rapists) are jailed. If the case happens to get to the police, they (culprits) are bailed and set free.”
An official of the department of public prosecution of the state ministry of justice decried the spate of violence against girls and women in Cross River State. The official who pleaded anonymity however, debunked claims that the state ministry of justice has not prosecuted cases of rape successfully. He said the department of public prosecution has prosecuted and got rapists convicted for the crime, adding that the department is however handicapped as most of the cases are not brought to the attention of the ministry of justice. “We have the Citizen Right's Department which handles such cases and we advice victims of sexual violence to report to the police and also notify the department of such cases. Once the matter is reported to us, we will ensure that the police investigate the matter and hand the case over to us for prosecution.” He was optimistic that with the passage of the Child Rights Act into law, there is no hiding place for violators of the rights of girls in the state.

Peace At Last?

Peace seems to have returned to Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as principal actors in the crisis agree to forgive one another

By Charles Effiong

For two years, animosity, antipathy, hostility and rancour has characterised the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Former governor of the state, Chief Victor Attah and his successor, Governor Godswill Akpabio engaged one another in a fierce battle over the control of the party's structure. Akpabio, until he declared interest to contest the state's governorship election in 2007, was a commissioner in Attah's government. Attah did not however support his candidature as he prefered his son in-law to succeed him.
The rift in their relationship became pronounced on February 28, 2008 during the state congress of the party at Ibom Hall in Uyo, the state capital. The congress was to elect the members of the party executive in the state. The chairmanship of the party was zoned to Uyo, Attah's senatorial zone. The former governor wanted the position to be conceded to him as was the case in 2005 when Otu Ita Otoyo became the state party chairman in reverence to the wish of former secretary to the government of the federation, SGF, Obong Ufot Ekaette. Attah had preferred Tony Umenyi but the PDP hierarchy conceded to Ekaette's demand since Otoyo is from his senatorial district. But at the state congress of the party in 2008, all members of the Uwem Ita Etuk led party executive were returned unopposed. This did not go down well with Attah who was absent at the congress because there were other contestants to the positions. A source told this magazine that the former governor does not care if Governor Akpabio produces every other exco member but not the state chairman. The former governor believes that as a member of the PDP board of trustees, BoT, the governor ought to have acceded to his request more so since there was precedence. Although the state deputy governor, Patrick Ekpotu is Attah's candidate, a source revealed that the deputy governor's loyalty tilts more to the governor than his benefactor.
Several attempts made to calm the frayed nerves have not yielded any positive result. It later became a media war as both sides bought pages in the papers to castigate the other. At a point, the Ita Etuk led PDP state executive announced the suspension of the former governor from the party because he was not attending the meetings of the party.
After two unsuccessful attempts to reconcile the feuding factions by the party's national leadership, the third reconciliation committee led by Ike Nwachukwu, a former senator visited the state on October 20. This time, the mediation seemed to have had some effect. Based on the recommendation of the committee, Governor Akpabio and the 23-member state executive of the party went to the former governor's country home to apologise to him. Akpabio who pleaded for forgiveness of his predecessor “for what I have done and what I have failed to do and, on behalf of the entire party, plead for your forgiveness,” said he accepted the verdict of the reconciliation committee and promised to make amends. The state chairman of PDP, Ita Etuk, also asked for Attah's forgiveness as he recited the Lord's Prayer. Other members from the state executive also knelt down for minutes pleading for the former governor's forgiveness. Senator Nwachukwu condemned the action of the party executive for attempting to suspend a board of trustee member thereby attempting to bring the name of the party to “public odium.” Attah however, said he has forgiven everyone who has offended him but would still want the chairmanship position to be conceded to him. He said he was suspended for not attending the party meetings whereas no invitation was extended to him. The former governor who addressed his supporters later told them the accord he entered with the reconciliation in Abuja was that Ita Etuk should resign as the party chairman because the manner he was elected was defective. “I have no problem with my governor. But PDP has a charter. Whether by consensus or election, Uwem Ita Etuk should have been elected properly. Most of the stakeholders from Uyo senatorial district were not present when he was made the chairman. John Udoedeghe, who was at that time a serving minister was not there nor Rita Akpan and General Edet Akpan (rtd)”, Attah stated.
Other members of the Nwachukwu reconciliatory committee include Governor Dajuma Goje of Gombe State, Professor Jerry Gana, and James Ibori, former Governor of Delta State.

On Collision Course

The organised labour in Enugu State battles the state government over the retrenchment of 163 staff of the Enugu State Waste Management Agency, ESWAMA

By Maurice Okafor

The sack of 163 employees of Enugu State Waste Management Agency, ESWAMA, a parastatal of the state government is likely to set the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on collision course with Governor Sullivan Chime. Labour is surprised that after the recall of some workers sacked by the previous administration, Chime could approve mass retrenchment of workers now that labour is hoping for industrial harmony with the state government. Osmond Ugwu, chairman of NLC in Enugu State called on church leaders in the state to prevail on the state government to rescind its decision to avert industrial crisis in the state. The Enugu State chapter of Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, also said it would not rest on its oars until the 163 retrenched workers of ESWAMA are recalled. The state chairman, Comrade Omotayo said in a press statement that CLO sees the action of the agency as unjustifiable.
The ESWAMA management had in a letter dated June 4, 2009 and signed by one Mr. M.C Ukwueze titled: “Staff Rationalisation Exercise,” said the affected workers were relieved of their appointment on the ground of age, false declaration of age, ill-health, redundancy and those whose services are no longer relevant to ESWAMA. The letter urged the affected staff to clear with the administration of the parastatal and look up for the payment of their retirement benefits. But the affected staff said the exercise was done in bad fate and in negation of the civil service rules. They told this magazine that the state head of service had conducted a review of employees of the state government parastatals in the state on the instruction of the state executive council. According to them, only 68 employees of ESWAMA were recommended to face a panel to be constituted by the state government on their fitness to continue as employees of the state government. The aggrieved workers accused the ESWAMA boss, Mr. Greg Anyaegbudike of working to satisfy the selfish interest of Mr. Chijioke Agu, the state commissioner for environment who influenced his appointment.
Patrick Anwuna, the leader of the aggrieved retrenched workers told this magazine that he could not imagine where the ESWAMA boss drew the strength of his action from, if not to satisfy the selfish interest of the commissioner of environment who also oversees the activities of ESWAMA. Anwuna disputed the ground of their retrenchment and said most of the affected staff are still very energetic and have not reached the age of 60, contending that every matter concerning their retirement should comply with conditions of their employment under the civil service rules and regulation because they are not casual workers.
But Anyaegbudike told this magazine that the rationalisation exercise was meant to reposition the agency for effective delivery services and curtail the burden of heavy monthly wage bills. He claimed that some of the affected staff were ghost workers who only wait for the pay day to receive salaries while they have some other businesses or job elsewhere. Anyaegbudike pointed out that while the agency receives about N2.5 million subvention from the state monthly, it has to contend with monthly wage bill of about N10.5 million on staff salaries alone, disclosing that the agency has to depend on what it sources as internally generated revenue to make up for the monthly wage bills and other operational services to remain afloat. According to him, it has become a Herculean task for the agency's operation due to a sharp fall in internally generated revenue because most city residents are not paying their bills. He denied the allegations that he was influenced to embark on the exercise by the state commissioner for environment, Mr. Chijioke Agu so as to create vacant positions to be replaced by his cronies and insisted that the retirement of 163 staff members of the agency was done in good fate. According to him, a committee was set up to ensure that the exercise was not used to witchhunt any staff.
Some of the affected staff were victims of eight years unlawful disengagement by the Chimaroke Nnamani administration.

I Don't Spend N200, 000 Without Telling My Workers

Mr. Dauda Pona, chairman of Chibok local government area of Borno State spoke correspondent, Benedict Adeka on his achievements at the council

Many local government chairmen complain that they do not get what is due to them from the federation account, as they claim that their allocation is being tampered with by their governors. In your case, are your allocations fully remitted to your council?

We in Borno State have no cause to regret, because our transparent governor who believes in the rule of law gives us exactly what is our own share without tampering with a single kobo. Sometimes we get N30 to N50 million, and when I receive this money on monthly basis, I call my senior officers to a meeting, we sit down, we deliberate and make good plans on how to develop our area. So to make that statement is completely false; our governor does not tamper with any council's funds. I can confidently tell it to the whole world. The bone of contention is that, what have been allocated to all the 777 local government areas in the country from the federation account or the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, after paying salaries, there is nothing left for you to do some projects with it. And that is the primary problem; it is not as some people assume that some local government chairmen are not doing well because the governor is tampering with their funds. It is totally uncalled for or a false statement as I earlier said. In fact, the governor didn't even know when we had our meetings with the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs on fund management. How much more of tampering with the funds. It is only some few disgruntled elements that want to dent his image and they will never succeed in that regards. The only thing they should do is to challenge the federal government to increase the allocation which can carter for some of these problems on ground.

Some local government councils like Jere, MMC and Biu, had experienced a lot of problem on payment of salaries and allowances to their staff. They claim they have ghost workers on their payroll. This made the governor recently to constitute some high powered committee to look into the problem. Is this applicable to your council?
Actually, we do not have such a problem. This is because during that time, the governor inaugurated some powerful committees which went round the 27 local government areas of the state and paid salaries based on concrete verifications. And to that effect my local government is fully operating without any ghost workers.

What about the working relationship with the staff of the local government and security agents?
As regards working relationship with local government staff and my administration, I can categorically tell you that it is very cordial. This is because anything (project) beyond N200, 000 I do not do it without consulting them. I have to write to the council, and they will sit down and deliberate on it before final approval is being made. Before I execute that project, their salaries and allowances are paid without delay.

In terms of security, we make sure that peace and unity prevail in the council. I want to tell you that in any society, when there is no security of lives and property, there is bound to be chaos. Against this background, we liaise with the police and other security agencies in my local government to fight crime and other social vices, and I will assist all these security agencies in whatever capacity, including the vigilante groups in my local government, having realised their immense contribution to the society. I want to equally thank my governor for launching the Operation Flush across the entire 27 council areas of the state which has drastically reduced the rate of crime in the state.

The federal government has recently approved the contract for construction of Damboa-Chibok-Mbalala road which runs into billions of naira. With this development, do you have any plan of establishing a small scale industry in your area, considering the fact that your people are agrarian in occupation?
Of course, I will say that we in Chibok are very grateful with the new development. The road you are talking about has been one of our strong agitations to the federal government since time immemorial. Now that the federal government has considered our plea, I want to tell you that very soon my council will be more developed by the special grace of God Almighty. I want to thank our governor for taking our outcry to President Musa Yar'Adua who eventually approved the construction of the road at the federal executive council, FEC, meeting in Abuja recently. So we are going to make sure that we collaborate even with the state government and any private organisation towards that regard, because establishing an industry will go a long way in eradicating poverty and unemployment among the jobless youths in not only my local government but the whole of the state.

What plans do you have for your people now?
I have a lot of plans that can improve on the welfare and living condition of the people of my area. Already we have concluded arrangement for the construction of a boarding primary school in my local government and I am happy to inform you that our governor is in full support of this project. We will also make sure that we consolidate on the good policies and programmes of the ANPP administration by providing fertiliser and other farming inputs to our teeming farmers. We will also work tirelessly to satisfy the needs and aspirations of our people within the limited resources at our disposal. My advice is that, let everybody in the area support and co-operate with the government of the day so that more democracy dividends will be rendered to the people irrespective of political differences

Still A Pain In The Neck

Academic and non-academic staff unions of Cross River University of Technology, CRUTECH, protest over poor funding and neglect of the institution by the state government

By Increase Abasi-Ubong

Even as striking university lectures and other non-academic staff unions in the nation's universities have decided to sheath the sword and return to class, the fate of students of the Cross River University of Technology, CRUTECH, still hangs in the balance. This followed the threat of academic and non-academic staff unions in the university to embark on industrial action as a result of poor condition of service. CRUTECH has been plagued by crisis since it was established by the Cross River State government in 2002.
Last Week, staff of the institution took to the streets of Calabar to protest the neglect of the institution by the state government. The protesting staff accused the state government of being insensitive to the plight of the university workers. They accused the state government of attaching more importance to tourism and the carnival than the education of its citizens. Some of the placards read: “Tourism and Carnival without education means nothing to Cross River State;” “Carnival first, education last;” “Imoke, save education for the future generation;” “CRUTECH is not part of the civil service,” “save CRUTECH from total collapse;” “CRUTECH workers are the least paid among universities” and “CRUTECH workers deserve the best like their colleagues in other universities.”
The deputy vice chancellor of the university, Dr. Ikpi Ugot who addressed the protesting workers described the situation in the university as unfortunate. Dr. Ugot who commended them for carrying out the protest peacefully assured the protesting workers that “someday, sometime, the problem will be solved.”
For now, all the industrial unions in the university are on strike. The Academic Staff Union of the University which earlier suspended its local strike because of the nationwide strike declared by ASUU has joined the other unions in the local strike. The grouse of the union is the alleged refusal of the state government to dialogue with the union.
The chairman of CRUTECH branch of the Academic Staff Union of University, Dr. Mathew Nsing Ogar told this magazine that the issues in dispute have lingered for too long. “Negotiations commenced, but were inconclusive because the state government aborted the process.” Dr. Ogar further told Newsworld that apart from the various arrears owed the workers, the university environment is not conducive for academic activities, adding that efforts by ASUU to compel the state government to improve the deplorable state of facilities in the university has not yielded any result. “Teaching and learning conditions in the university are the most repugnant, deplorable and least attractive in the country. Poor teaching and learning facilities including obsolete studio and laboratories inherited from the defunct Calabar Polytechnic and College of Agriculture, Obubra; inadequate office accommodation, dilapidated hostels, filthy environment and inadequate lecture halls litter the various campuses of the university. The state government has not been fair to staff of CRUTECH. The union has severally solicited to have audience with the governor to no avail. We strongly believe that Governor Liyel Imoke will better appreciate our problems if he meets with the union and dialogues.”
The chairman of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, CRUTECH branch, Ntufam Ndifon accused the state government of being insensitive to the plight of the university workers. He said the situation in CRUTECH was so deplorable that no staff of any other university would want to work in the institution. “We are the least paid university workers in the country; in fact we earn pittance. It is ironical that we collect the least salaries but pay higher taxes than our counterparts in other universities.”
Ndifon who expressed regret over the deplorable state of facilities in the university said CRUTECH staff are poorly motivated, their offices sparsely furnished and equipped and wondered how the state government expects them to put in their best. The SSANU chairman condemned the government's refusal to dialogue with industrial unions in the university, noting that as long as the state government remains adamant, the crisis would continue. He said CRUTECH workers were tired of government's antics and would resist any further attempt by the state government to 'enslave' them. “As far as we are concerned, CRUTECH is grounded, nothing is working in the university. We will ensure that no academic and administrative activity takes place in the university until our demands are fully met.”
But the state government said most of the protesting CRUTECH staff are not fit to work in a university. Perhaps, this might have prompted the government to redeploy over 100 academic staff to secondary schools in the state. The state Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke said his administration is committed towards transforming CRUTECH into a first class university. “If we agree that we must have a first class institution, there must be some oxen that must be gored. For CRUTECH, we either have a first class university or we do not,” the governor said, noting that the state was willing to meet the demands of the CRUTECH workers if he could be assured of the quality of their performance. "I do not have any problem paying what they are asking for, but I also need the guarantee on quality for the sake of our children and the future of the entire state."

Understanding The Times We Live In

And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life and that day come on you unexpectedly, for it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Lk. 21:25-26, 34-36 (NKJV)
Towards the end of every year, particularly the months of September to December, normally tagged as “ember” months, most people believe that these months are dangerous months to human lives and properties. So people generally live in fear and torment of the unknown daily. Some even resolve to take some spiritual cleansing and protection mechanism that are inimical to the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Believers who do not have a firm grasp of the Word of God concerning things of this nature are vulnerable to certain spiritual solution that terminate their lives prematurely due to ignorance. The question is what should a Christian do to approach these times we live in? Are we left to grope in darkness without direction from both Scriptures and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? In times like this what should be the attitude of the believer?
Secondly, apart from the “ember” months, every year is replete with all kinds of evil vices such as: unusual deaths, disasters, violence, destruction, diseases and incurable sicknesses with other strange manifestations or happenings against humanity that have never been seen, heard or experienced by mankind. So people live in perpetual fear, worry, anxiety and doubt of what next are to be expected.
In the few weeks ahead, we shall be discussing this important issue with a view to finding what Christ Himself proffered as solutions to these things. In fact, He saw all these negative attacks or problems coming on mankind at the end time and He prophesied about their unconditional coming but equally provided solutions for all the issues or problems that will come upon the earth and its inhabitants. 2 Tim. 3:1 declares assertively that: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” (NKJV).
What is a perilous time? Perilous times mean, hard times to deal with; difficult times to deal with; grievous times, dangerous times, and furiously fierce times to deal with. So, the whole world is presently besieged with humanly inexplicable happenings that naturally create fear, insecurity, discomfort, discouragement and these are designed to erode our faith and hope in God.
Most foundations of life around the world that stood numerous years and ages are gradually caving into destruction and human elements that were anchored in them are equally enveloped with despair and perpetual uncertainty. The answers are far fewer than the questions, humanly speaking!
Presently, there is a world recession popularly called economic meltdown. The best of all economic policies from the best of brains cannot handle or solve the economic questions and puzzles that are stirring and threatening us both individually and corporately in the eyes. So the prices of goods and services are rising astronomically high and soaring with great increase; and inflicting fear and danger in the lives and policies of men.
The earth as a planet is under unusual threats both from the natural forces of destruction and spiritual forces that are invisible but their negative impacts cannot be avoided physically. The earth and the whole of creation are facing great threats that have never been faced in their entire history called, global warming. The global warming phenomenon is still a puzzle yet to be solved. New volcanic eruptions and great earthquakes are witnessed very often on great scale. Economic upsurges have been experienced more frequently than ever before. Human and animal habitats with its aquatic habits are being destroyed daily. Fire disasters, wars, and violent feuds make our environment unwelcoming to any living thing. What next? See you next week!

An Ambush Of The Law

Analysts pick holes in the judgement of Abia State Local Government Election Appeal Tribunal on the 2008 Aba South Local Government election and alledge the tribunal favours the ruling party because of pecuniary benefit

By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu

The judgement of the Justice Agwu Ukpai Kalu-led Abia State Local Government Election Appeal Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, the state capital may have resolved the electoral dispute between Chief Okezie Erondu of the ruling Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA, and Dr. Christian Okoli of the Action Congress, AC, but the controversy trailing it has refused to die. The battle was over the chairmanship of Aba South local government, which the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission, ABSIEC, declared Erondu winner on January 19, 2008. The commission conducted elections in 16 out of 17 local government areas of the state.
Okoli had contested the decision of ABSIEC and subsequently petitioned the Local Government Election Petitions Tribunal headed by Chief Magistrate John Ukpabi. The tribunal, on November 6, 2008 reversed the decision of the electoral commission and ordered that Okoli be sworn in immediately in consonance with section 215(1) of Abia State Local Government Law No.3 of 2006 which says that “any candidate declared winner by the electoral tribunal as elected shall from the time of the decision of the election tribunal be deemed to be duly elected until any determination of the competent high court to the contrary, on the appeal.” The tribunal chairman contended that “the intention of the lawmaker in respect of subsection (1), to my humble view is that the loser at the election tribunal vacates office immediately the election tribunal makes the pronouncement that the petitioner won the election. The loser has the right of appeal but must appeal after vacating office. In other words, the person declared winner by the election tribunal immediately takes over the running of the office.” But ABSIEC refused to issue Dr. Okoli certificate of return in flagrant disrespect to the provisions of the law. The body instead went on appeal on November 17, 2008 against the judgement before the Justice Agwu Ukpai Kalu appeal tribunal. Erondu was, before he decided to contest in the local government election, a member of ABSIEC. It was believed that the commission was sympathetic to his plight.
While the appeal was however going on, Dr. Okoli was allegedly framed up in the kidnap of Professor Stephen Emejuaiwe, the chairman of ABSIEC and was subsequently incarcerated.
In his judgement on the appeal however, Justice Kalu noted that Dr. Okoli was not qualified to contest the election on the basis that he could not produce ABSIEC form 7 which qualified him as a candidate. But some residents of the state believed the judgement was flawed. Peter Ofor, a public affairs analyst contended that the election itself was shoddily conducted and ABSIEC did not find it expedient to issue even results to winners because they assumed it was a PPA affair. Based on this, the commission failed to do what the law required it to do at the appropriate time.
There were said to be some anomalies in the ABSIEC form issued to Dr. Okoli. While the form was dated 31/12/07, the party's letter conveying his nomination was dated 2/1/08. Also, the name on the controversial form 9 was Nwachukwu Okoli Chukwuma while the actual name of the AC candidate is Dr. Okoli Christian Nwachukwu. The judge said the candidate's form must have been previously submitted to ABSIEC by his party which was why it appeared on the said form 9.
Justice Kalu was accused of playing the government's card in the petition so as to be favoured as chief judge of the state when the incumbent retires next year.

Remembering Ambrose Alli

Friends and associates of Professor Ambrose Alli, former governor of defunct Bendel State honoured him at a public lecture, 20 years after his death

By Victor Osehobo

Twenty years after he died on his 60th birthday, friends and admirers of the late first executive governor of defunct Bendel State, Professor Ambrose Folorunsho Alli gathered, penultimate week to celebrate a man whom many referred to as a visionary leader who came ahead of his time. The event was marked with a public lecture delivered by the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri. It was a day the former governor was literally brought back to life by glowing tributes paid to his legendary leadership by friends and associates.
Senator Frank Okpozo, who served as deputy speaker of the defunct Bendel State Assembly during Alli's tenure described the former governor as a rare gem, a politician who “tactically used his educational influence and tireless industry to win his (political) opponents.” According to Okpozo, Alli promoted the policy of free education and operated well-equipped public schools even in the remotest parts of the state. He said the former governor established the then Bendel State University at Ekpoma to cater for the teeming population of students of the state who were denied admissions into federal universities due to the quota system. This was followed with the establishments of two polytechnics and colleges of education in the two senatorial districts of the state. Okpozo who spoke glowingly of Alli's feats in the health, employment, road construction and infrastructural development said the fledging democratic era in the country was suddenly truncated by the seizure of political power by a military junta led by General Mohammadu Buhari. Alli became a victim for his inability to explain how the sum of N983, 000 was spent on a road contract. Alli's daughter, Mrs. Rosemary Zuberu blamed her father's death on the dehumanising treatment he received at the hands of the military.
Mrs. Farida Waziri said in her lecture that Nigeria's problem was failure on the part of leadership and corruption which she said, eroded public confidence, undermined public service delivery and entrenched round pegs in square holes in leadership positions. The anti-graft boss noted that 70 percent of the country's over 150 million people are jobless because of bad leadership. She said that for the nation to move forward, it must develop the non-oil sector, noting that this can only be done by a leadership that is proactive and innovative in the provision of viable alternatives that could see to the effective accommodation of the huge youth population. Waziri said corruption during Professor's Alli's times was primitive compared to what is the case presently when many public office holders line up foreign bank accounts with billions of naira meant for the provision of essential services. The problem, according to her, of bringing the culprits to book was compounded by prolonged court cases and administrative and bureaucratic procedures involved in the apprehension of corrupt elements and retrieval of looted funds.
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, national president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, blamed the failure of the anti-corruption crusade on the method adopted by government to prosecute the war. He called on EFCC to publish the names of people believed to have looted public funds, adding that for Nigeria to be delivered from bad leadership and corruption, there is need for people to realise that money can get a good doctor but cannot buy health.
Former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said that people who put themselves forward for public service must be ready to serve the people conscientiously. For Nigeria to get out of the fog of bad governance, he said electoral integrity must be advocated and entrenched at all levels of electoral process, including political parties.
Joseph Anetor, one of the organisers of the event told Newsworld that Alli embodies most of the values such as transparency and accountability which are required of Nigerian leaders at this critical time of the nation's history.
Alli, a professor of morbid anatomy was governor of the defunct Bendel State between 1979 and 1983. He was sentenced to 100 years in prison by the special military tribunal set up by the Buhari-Idiagbon government for misappropriating a N983, 000 road project during his tenure. He was saved from the hangman's noose by the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion who paid the sum into the federal coffers to secure the professor's release from prison.

A Cry For Help

Mrs. Yavihi Akuma who sustained multiple injuries in an accident caused by a truck belonging to Seven Up Bottling Company has called on the company to save her from the throes of death by paying her hospital bill

By Sunday Ogli

Yavihi Akuma and Mlumun Aba were looking forward to good business as they were coming back from Tyortyu, a village market located along Makurdi-Gboko road on September 15 where they had gone to buy some goods to replenish their stocks. But an accident involving the vehicle they were travelling in and a truck belonging to Seven UP Bottling Company that day, ended their expectations. Today, Akuma and Aba are on life string at the Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi following injuries they sustained in the accident. The duo were among the other traders who had gone to Tyortyu to buy vegetables, tomatoes and pepper, which they sell to earn a living, before the Toyota Liteace bus they chartered ran into the Seven-UP truck returning from Enugu. The truck was said to be making a sudden U-turn into the company's depot located along Makurdi-Gboko road against traffic rule. The Toyota Liteace was badly damaged while Akuma who is the chairperson of the Tomato and Vegetable Traders Association at the High Level market and other traders sustained various degrees of injuries. The driver of the trailer who ran away after parking the truck, was later arrested by the police and detained at the police E Division located at Akpehe.
When this magazine visited the hospital, some of the victims had been discharged except Akuma and Aba who sustained serious injuries. Akuma was in a very pathetic condition. Her left leg which was badly damaged was stitched in several places. A medical officer who did not want her name in print told this magazine that the leg could become gangrenous as Akuma lacks the resources to manage its condition. The accident was also said to have affected her heart and lungs due to multiple fractures she sustained on her right hand and ribs. The multiple fractures was said to have led to serious internal bleeding in Akuma's chest chamber.
Rosemary, one of Akuma's seven children who takes care of her mother in the hospital told this magazine that the accident has thrown the family into a serious predicament since her mother is the bread winner. Her father, according to her is very old and has since retired to the village. “Now we cannot feed. We cannot even pay the medical bill for mama,” lamented Rosemary. Rosemary also lamented that Seven-Up has not sent any of its representatives to the hospital to assist the family in treating her mother since the accident happened. “We are disappointed; seriously disappointed that seven-up has refused to come to our aid given their role in this accident. They have behaved as if they want our mother to die,” said Rosemary.
The driver, Moses Dare is equally calling for assistance. Dare who owns the damaged bus said he now lives on charity since the damage caused to the bus is beyond his ability to repair. He lamented that his children have dropped out of school due to his inability to pay their school fees.
When Newsworld visited the depot, the depot manager was said to have travelled to Lagos. An official of the depot who spoke to the magazine on the condition of anonymity said the incident has been relayed to his superiors in Enugu after which a transport officer was sent to Makurdi to assess the situation. “I do not know why it is taking them so long to respond to the emergency,” he wondered.
Rosemary is therefore appealing to the general public to help her mother by getting Seven-Up to live up to its corporate social responsibility and save her mother from the throes of death.