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If Not For June 12 …That Not Messy Eagles’ Ordeal

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fredjun141003To many who believed and still do that the June 12,1993 presidential elections, generally known to have been won by business mogul and popular philanthropist late Chief Moshood Abiola was the best thing to happen to a politically depraved Nigerian state, and its eventual annulment by Military President Ibrahim Babangida, a curse, the outcome of last Saturday’s 2010 World Cup soccer encounter between a highly rated Argentine National side and the Super Eagles of Nigeria would mean one of two things.

Surely, that Nigeria lost by such a slim margin of 0-1, to a Lionel Messi inspired Mecurial Argentine National team might well be because the curse which June 12 epitomised is gradually losing its potency, or that the date still remains one for a national guilt which can only be assuaged by a national disappointment just like last Saturday’s which came in the form of soccer defeat.

Interestingly for once in a very long while, the Nigerian Senior National team, the Super Eagles, not withstanding the sixth minute goal by one of the world’s best teams of the tournament  gave the African continent and indeed Nigerians in particular a reason to believe that the Argentines were not invincible.

Strangely, perhaps on account of superior technical expertise by the new Super Eagles’ handler, Swede tactician Lagerback over his predecessors, Nigeria, for once had a strong bench with the likes of Obafemi Martins, Osaze Odewminge, Nwankwo Kanu, John Utaka and Uche Ikechukwu, among others. Although the Argentines were blessed with experience and tactical wit and also seemed to be better co-ordinated, more organised, obviously more skillful and business like, the Super Eagles succeeded in averting what many had predicted would have been, at least,  four goals to zero (4-0) humiliation.

But the Argentines’ superior ball possession, averaging  55-45, with an equally more business like shots on target, in the first 45 minutes, 12 against Nigeria’s zero and in the second 10 against 6, the Super Eagles held their heads high even in defeat as they proved very clearly that in spite of the misfortune of an early goal, the Argentines were no super humans.

Infact, to several who watched the match, the Eagles were victorious even in defeat and would have outclassed their opponents if not for the choice of that cursed date – June 12. Perhaps, a day earlier or even later would have made a huge difference even though margin of loss should give Nigerians hope for the better. With the only June 12 date, in this year’s calendar gone and two more encounters at the group stages with South Korea and Greece in Group B, the Nigerian National side should brace-up for the challenge of fighting an enemy in their own home, knowing that the outcome might either make or mar their soccer rating and international respect as an independent and respectable national side.

Need we add that, this year’s FIFA soccer World Cup being hosted by South Africa is indeed the first in 80 year history of the tournament that that African continent will play host to the world and the first time the hitherto derided dark continent will be showcasing her soccer prowess in this manner, using as many as six national teams which include host South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria, Ivory Coast and Cameroun, and should leave nothing to chance.

Thus far, the co-operation among fans of the African teams in cheering their own to victory has been most awesome even unbelievable. Nigeria, for instance enjoys not only the blessing of a committed Presidential Support, the National Assembly, other top political office holders and indeed all Nigerians are all united in Support of the Super Eagles.

Infact, sans the large contingent of Eagles supporters, there is the unofficial official Nigerian political delegation headed by Senate President, David Mark a huge national investment which strangulating economic cost to the nation may be huge but so what? There is also the Presidential task force for the qualification of the Super Eagles to the World Cup, add impressive performance, headed by Rivers State Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and then a technical crew which also includes officials of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), its state and national officers who, from all indices appear more concerned with their post World Cup elections into executive offices of their organisation than the World Cup.

In all these, it must be said that the crop of Nigerians in South Africa officially groomed to do battle is barely 23, the technical crew and NFF welfare officers amazingly more. Far far more.

All these, annoying as they may appear in these times of lean national earnings, are not the main source of worry. Apart from the misfortune of June 12, the date many, I inclusive, have chosen to blame for the wonderful showing but painful defeat of the Super Eagles even without a deserving draw, the other is the blunder of Hi TV, one of Nigeria’s indigenous cable networks.

Not too long ago, the Network prided itself as the best in Nigeria with a monopoly of showing the English Premiership League (EPL) franchise and beamed live to all its subscribers virtually everyEnglish league match to viewers.

But in an event as important as the FIFA 2010 soccer World Cup now going on for the first time on the African continent with the Nigerian National side in battle, Hi TV subscribers were last Saturday disappointed and  made to wonder about in search of other cable networks or sit at home to watch last year’s Athletics grand prix or watch a repeat of an EPL encounter between two English premiership sides Portsmouth versus Manchester United on their sports channels, Hi Sports 2 and Hi Soccer respectively while the Setata Sports Station shows viewers echoes of the last French open tennis competition. It took them up until yesterday to run half-hearted and belated  previews and analyses.

This column would hardly have bothered because our own Rivers State Television (RSTV), DSTV, Silver Bird TV Port Harcourt and CTL among many others are up to the challenge, but when about 250 angry subscribers staged a public protest after the Nigeria/Argentina encounter along some streets in the old Port Harcourt City, crying blue, it became instructive to show a little concern.

In days leading to the World Cup, the Hi TV Network embarked on a rigorous campaign aimed at encouraging subscribers to pay for subscriptions covering between one and three months, with a silent assurance that they would enjoy a better deal, which subscribers now find, does not include the World Cup.

If the thousands of Hi TV subscribers had not been denied live viewership of the World Cup, and obliged the privilege of cheering the Super Eagles against the almighty Argentine side, may be , just may be, the outcome might have been different, June 12 or not.

May be, the date June 12, being a day of protest, in spite of even the distraction which the World Cup offers, Hi TV wanted its subscribers to fill the void of anger in celebration of that date through the denial which successfully ignited the street protest. And shamefully so.

My Agony is not so much that Nigeria lost to a highly rated Argentine side and with such slim margin, it is instead that try as we have to forget June 12, its ghost still hovers around our every national endeavour. The intension of IBB to contest the 2011 Presidential election is one such reminder.

The way out may well be to declare that date, a public holiday for fasting and praying so that the ghost of June 12, may rest in peace. Please don’t just laugh it off.

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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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