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That PDP Zoning Plan …X-Ray Ciroma, Ekwueme, Obasanjo Angles

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Embattled Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor went ahead of himself, when early this year upon the declaration of then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President, he fore-closed the possibility of a Southern President in 2011. None could tell then, if he meant it or was merely patronising his political benefactors in the North.

Apparently ignoring all other variables like the fate of the then ailing President, Yar’Adua, the constitutional right of Jonathan to aspire to any political height in the land and the Nigerian peoples power to choose who governs them, Ogbulafor, with some seemingly seal of finality ruled that the presidency of Nigeria, under his party had been zoned to the Northern part of the country.

Armed with that assurance, many Northern elements have continued to repeat same refrain in such an annoying manner that makes one wonder why it should be so and whether they take into account the hopes and aspirations of other Nigerians. Apparently following same dangerous and divisive path, the highly respected one-time Minister for Finance and many times presidential candidate, Adamu Ciroma also stated emphatically that not only did the North voluntarily cede power to the South in 1999, but it also decided that the same power be returned to the north after Yar’Adua, who had been elected in 2007 for a single term of four years.

Coming from a political marksman and founding father of the PDP, one was tempted to believe Ciroma comments as the truth, not minding the many questions such arrangement raised and the doubt it created on many minds. The option was to sit by and brood until recently when one-time Vice President of Nigeria, Chief Alex Ekwueme and Yar’Adua’s predecessor, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo publicly contradicted their Northern co-founder, Adamu Ciroma.

Ekwueme was direct in his denial of such zoning arrangement and challenged skeptics to point to any portion of either the PDP constitution or the 1999 Nigerian Constitution wherein such details could be found. If such agreement existed, Ekwueme argued, he should be one of many that ought to know, in view of his profile and pedigree.

President Obasanjo, on the other hand, queried the propriety of such arrangement which in his view tantamounts to counting chicks  of a hen before the eggs are hatched.

How for instance, can one give a presidential candidate, two terms of eight years, even before his  or her first election? If there was such zoning arrangement, why was he, Obasanjo, then an incumbent PDP president, not declared un-opposed but made to go through a gruelling party primary?

Obasanjo said the closest to the half-truth being fed the gullible voters is that the party, upon formation agreed to take into cognisance the various interests, hopes and fears of all in any general election , certainly not in a re-run.

Going by this, it is unthinkable how the various interests should merely be ‘North’ and ‘South’, an arrangement, condemned to history since the forced amalgamation of 1914. How, for instance should the PDP contemplate such arrangement, if it truly did, when, the constitution defines federal character differently?

This is why all the talk of zoning the presidency to the North must be done away with, because it falls flat in the face of constructive debate. Not only that, Nigeria is where she is today, backward, due largely to the level of corruption among past leaders of the forced union, and the absolute power which a section of the country enjoyed , over and above other interests, using the traditional hold on to power.

That being so, Nigeria aught to do away with the failed by familiar and venture more pro-active measures in search for alternative leadership, which Jonathan represents.

In fact, present day realities have shown clearly the hand of God in the affairs of the nation and should naturally teach those who play god in every political plan, that the all-knowing Supreme Being has a purpose for this country and her people , and that Jonathan is the vessel.

Perhaps, now is the time to state that those insisting that incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan should run in 2011 have a point  although, like the embattled PDP Chairman, Ogbulafor, they too, went ahead of themselves. The issue is not whether Jonathan has the right to contest or not because he does, the question is if he would want to.

If he would, Jonathan must not allow the vain talks over that non-verifiable zoning arrangement to deter him, because everything about the so-called rotational plan is flawed, insane, jaundiced and lacking in vital principles of equity, fairness and good conscience.

Besides, Jonathan must realise that the number of options he had while on a  visit to the United States of America (USA) as Acting President are now drastically reduced to just two, as would be found presently.

Then, he had the options of re-contesting as Vice President to a super candidate; returning to Bayelsa State as one -time acting president or facing the presidency.

As it is today, Jonathan should not be expected to be vice to any one having become President and Commander –in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and that leaves him with two options, if service to the nation is what is on his mind, ‘run for the president’ in 2011- period.

However, Jonathan must not let such political thoughts distract him from doing the job providence has elected him to do at this trying moment.

Here’s where I do agree with the Ijaw National Congress (INC) which recently advised Jonathan to forget 2011, for now”. This is so because victory in a presidential election depends on many variables which include positive achievements made by an incumbent.

That is why it is laughable that a political party could give two-terms of eight years to a candidate even before servicing out a first in the name of zoning.

My Agony is that even those that Nigerians should depend upon to correct such miscalculations are buying the mombo jumbo.

Methinks Jonathan appears ready and able to do right, having felt that pain of deprivation and so should do well today and contest the presidential election in 2011.17051003

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.

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