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In Defence Of Odili …A Prophetic View Beyond 2015

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FRED081103For a moment, let’s just think aloud, agreed that in politics, as in any inappropriate liaison with a spouse, it is not what a man says that is important, it is in fact, what he does have to say.

If therefore, former Governor of Rivers State, and first from the Niger Delta to get, barely a kilometre’s touch to the Presidency of Nigeria, Dr Peter Odili, were to be asked why he prefers former Military President, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) to fellow ‘kinsman and incumbent President Goodluck  Ebele Jonathan, his flawless oratory would come alive, even magically.

Far far away from the nastiest things pro-democracy groups would like Nigerians to remember, like: the unresolved murder of the founding Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch Magazine, late Dele Giwa, and the annulment of the June 12, 1992 elections generally presumed to be the freest and won by late Moshood Abiola; the clouds surrounding the undying $12 billion Gulf War windfall; wrongly or rightly, his perceived ambition to rule Nigeria for life, and most importantly, the general’s outrageous investments and bewildering personal estates, former Governor Odili, for instance, will explain why IBB is the most suited for the Nigerian Presidency and list a whole lot.

Odili would, I can swear, look straight into the eyes of his interviewer, never mind the saying that “If a politician looks unsquintingly into your eyes and makes promises, know, he is lying”, and tell his listener how IBB’s wealth of experience, rare patriotism and adept knowledge of governance can alone address, in a lasting manner, the fluctuating fortunes of a nation which at 50, is still slaving to provide her peoples regular electricity supply needed to revamp comatose industries, provide jobs, depart from the substantially oil-based monolithic economy and help Nigeria earn the most elusive global respect that would, once again, see her as giant of Africa.

To appreciate this line of thought, one needs to know the many qualities of Odili, a man so powerful, the only power he lacks being, turning a woman into a man, if even he is a medical doctor by calling.

Like the indigent Jonathan from Otueke in Ogbia, Bayelsa State, Odili equally has a moving story of his growing-up years, enriched with how he once used a rickety auto-mobile owned by an uncle for ‘kabu-kabu’ in order to raise funds for his ticket to travel abroad for studies.

A dashing character, known for his unique dress code and interesting style, Odili is capable of disarming  any one alive, including retired generals, natural rulers, labour unions, churches or even criminals, and get what ever he wants or needs. Remember, in days leading to his re-election bid as governor of Rivers State in 2003, the politician confronted the fiercest of oppositions ever known.

Apart from striking teachers, the traditional political leadership in the state, all his known backers, political mentors if you like, among them, Chief Rufus Ada-George, late Chief Marshal Harry and late Chief A.K. Dikibo, among others, saw no use for him to return to power on account of poor performance, during his first tenure.

The general protest at the time was that Odili was using Rivers’ funds to oil his own later-day presidential machine, by making outrageous donations to traditional rulers in all major ethnic nations and stockpiling all manner of titles, including the one from The Source in Ife.

Those were days when, various associations, students groups, market unions, and even road-side mechanic ensembles, paid solidarity visits randomly, fed fat from Odili’s generosity and offered their phony assurances for his re-election. But did Odili need their votes?

At the end of that election, Odili scored far more votes than the number of voters registered. Even his opponents, who said they were disenfranchised and even tendered before the tribunal unstamped voters’ cards, didn’t know that while their bodies were against an Odili return to Brick House, their souls and spirits thought otherwise, and not merely voted, not using voters’ cards, they in fact, made sure that they invited even the dead to also ensure Odili’s victory in their large numbers. And the outcome showed so.

Weeks later, on May 1st, the Workers’ Day, at the Liberation Stadium, Elekahia, a grateful Governor Odili told Rivers workers how grateful he was for their support and love, and quickly added, “but una nearly put me for trouble-o with una plenty votes.” That said, the man’s aggressive PR machine and the unapologetic giver-instinct at once gushed forward as he doled out N2 million to each participating trade union, Agaba groups and other area boys.

A political marksman with an imposing personality, Odili is indeed an interesting politician to study. Many say any student of Ada-George should naturally be politically intelligent, savvy and tactical but Odili’s transcended all permutations.

For instance, within his eight years as governor, Odili made sure that all other governors saw him as a super governor, the golden governor, the governors’ governor, and indeed, heir apparent to the Presidency which Odili didn’t know in time, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was not keen to vacate in a hurry.

So close was the duo of Obasanjo and Odili that the very busy president visited Rivers more than 13 times, excluding that day, at the Liberation Stadium, when he told  bemused Rivers people that then Speaker Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi’s ambition to succeed Odili has K-leg, meaning, a virtual impossibility. All the rest is now history.

But not many are wont to accept that nothing comes between Odili and his own ambition. So, even in their strong political romance when Obasanjo mooted a third-term agenda, a step which had the likelihood of truncating Odili’s own projections to be President in 2007, rumours had it that he refused to break ranks with the many that vigorously lobbied members of the National Assembly to stop Obasanjo. By all means.

That deadly information apparently leaked out and an angry Obasanjo, we later heard, felt that an Odili Presidency would be the most tactless political step to take. That, rumours had it, was how a Nuhu Ribadu was unleashed on a virtually done-deal, and ended the Golden Governor’s dream of the Presidency.

That being so, if another opportunity offers itself, if you were Odili, what would you do? Where is that opportunity? In Jonathan’s election bid or IBB’s?

Luckily for Odili, IBB has publicly assured that all he needs today is a single tenure of four years only to ensure that the now contentious zoning formula imposed on the North and South was maintained. This means, a southern Vice President, preferably from the Niger Delta region, becomes the best bet for 2015. Is that where Odili’s hopes lie? If yes, what’s wrong with that?

Conversely, should Jonathan win the Presidency in 2011, chooses to leave only four years later in 2015 or even decides to seek a second term, as of  right, when will another South-South turn come? After Odili has long died and gone?

My Agony is that some supporters of Jonathan expect Odili to join their ranks, while after Obasanjo had favoured Yar’Adua for the job, he did not even consider the “Golden Governor” worthy enough for the position of vice president, and instead, chose Jonathan.

Methinks, Odili’s support for IBB is not for 2011, it is instead to water the political ground for 2015, rightly or wrongly but more of the former. So, why blame Odili?

Just thinking aloud. You too can.

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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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