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The President’s Cross …As Jonathan Battles To Be Understood

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From when Nigeria’s serving President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan took oath of office as Vice President to his principal, Late President Umaru Yar’Adua in May 2007, up to when, on account of his master’s death he became acting President and re-elected May, last year up till December 31, 2011, not once did Nigerians witness official hike in prices of petroleum products, particularly fuel. Instead, the price of fuel was slashed under the duo’s watch, from N75 per litre to N65.

Also, due largely to the liberalization of the petroleum sub-sector, the perennial problem of long queues at filling stations on account of scarcity of the product was eliminated. What was scarce was kerosene. But why? Marketers needed it to adulterate aviation fuel.

Why then should one with such pedigree become a saddist over-night? Why should a child of very indigent parents from the little town of Otueke in today’s Bayelsa State, who, so poor, could not afford footwears to school, choose to inflict on others such pain, hunger and endless suffering of the kind Nigerians today protest against, simply because he has crossed the crucible? Why should a President who promised a breathe of fresh air turn around to choke the masses with such grueling discomfort, by the removal of what is said to be left of the subsidy on petroleum products?

In fact, why is the Nigerian President, allowed to be so powerful as to unilaterally wage such a war on his own people and still cow all other political, natural and spiritual leaders into submission? Why does the vibrant National Assembly feel helpless and instead urge dialogue? Why? Why now?

Or, is it simply a case of the child not being able to see, even from a roof-top, what an elder sees sitting?

Furthermore, why should one so popularly elected, devoid of ethnic, religious, class, regional or even partisan political lines choose to lose such popularity, just for the sake of being a saddist? Is power such an intoxicant as to change a once amiable gentleman into an incurable political drunk? Why? Why now?

Most importantly, why has Mr President refused to change course in the face of increasing protests in Lagos, Kwara and elsewhere, with an even bigger threat by both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to join the sway today? But was it not the same President who, priding himself as a listening leader once ate his words, on account of public outcry, after his publicly pronounced ban on all Nigerian’s teams participation in any FIFA organised soccer competitions for two years? Why? Why not now?

Even so, desirous to be fair, albeit reluctantly, I laboured to weigh the other side of the argument, if for nothing else, to satisfy my conscience that my case against a wicked President, who promised a breathe of fresh air was and is still rock-solid; that the Otueke born indigent son, has, like others before him, actually kicked off the ladder, from whence he hit the summit of power and opted to inflict on others, the same pain and anguish he once faced as a child of indigent parents, not to mention that he has chosen to change from Goodluck to badluck as mocked by a former member of the House of Representatives, who led a less-than-co-ordinated protest in Lagos last week, against the removal of subsidy on petroleum products.

First, I considered the President’s motive and then asked what he stood to benefit from his action. How, I wondered further, could a President facing serious security challenges, on account of the danger which the Boko Haram Islamist Sect today presents, chose to cut his nose to spite his face?

Then I got an SMS message from an unfamiliar cell phone number and since, at times like this no information must be considered useless; I rushed through it and wondered: Could the President or his men be reading my thoughts and chose to present their own case? Impossible! If they had such supernatural tracking devices, why is the Boko Haram terror group still a spoilt spot to all?

Not willing to give the President and his men such credit of clairvoyance, I reluctantly went through the message again. Holy Moses! I screamed without knowing I did so loudly.

It was then, I came to the painful realisation that what Nigerians have been protesting against was in fact, support for a cabal of very powerful and super-rich oil marketing cartels who found in the so-called subsidy, their own conduit for smoothly amassing public funds and have for years held the nation captive. With such power, they imported petroleum products and determined the cost. And each time any government dared question their guts, they create artificial scarcity of petroleum products to force successive governments to negotiate the amount of public funds to vote in support of their clandestine pass-time. And because of the huge profits, they grew in ranks and directly or indirectly frustrated refineries from running at full capacity.

Just as powerful generator importers have for years frustrated the actualization of uninterrupted electric power supply in the country, these petroleum products importers are capable of determining  what Nigeria must pay for their own imports or make consumers to queue up for days, even weeks, at filling stations.

So, upon election as president, Jonathan had a choice to make: keep quiet, receive as much as N300 billion monthly in bribes to look the other way, let it remain business as usual and vacate his seat, richer than Nigeria in four years or call the bluff of the vicious importers, stop paying the cabal what was erroneously considered subsidy, and rechannel those funds to more productive uses, including of course, job-creation, through Turn Around Maintenance of the refineries; huge investments in Agriculture and irrigation; provision of thousands of buses to check arbitrary hike in transport fares; improved funding for rural development, road construction and rehabilitation, education, crafts development, health and infrastructural development.

Simply put, government decided that rather than pay so much to an ungrateful cabal, running into trillions of naira annually in petroleum subsidy, such funds should be directed to other more meaningful uses. And then again, I read the SMS to behold the list of how much often went to the various marketing companies, and was convinced that, if its indeed factual, then President Jonathan might well be waging a war to take the loot from the super-rich 19 marketers and spread such funds among the most gullible of the societal chain.

Surely, that could cause temporary pain like the type President Jonathan himself suffered in Otueke, but one that will guarantee a brighter future for all, like the one that saw him through university up to the pinnacle of his political career.

The message listed major marketers and their due as follows: Oando Nig Plc, N228.5bn; MRS N224.8bn, Enak Oil and Gas, N19.7bn; Bovas & Co Nig. Ltd, N5.7bn; Obat, N85bn; AP, N104.5bn; Folawiyo Oil, N13.3bn; IPMAM Invest Ltd, N10.9 bn; AMP, N11.4bn; Honeywell, N12.2bn; Emac Oil N19.2bn; DJones Oil, N14.8bn Capital Oil N22.4 bn; AZ Oil, N18.613bn; EternaOil N5.57bn; Dozil Oil, N3.375bn; and Fort Oil, N8.582bn.

The president’s crime is that rather than look the other way, and have his own ‘cut’ from the loot, chose to say, ‘No’. Let these funds be rechanneled into putting the refineries back on line and ensure effective competition that would force down prices of petroleum products. Remember the Telecom sector? May be not. We forget easily. Some Nigerians may remember, that some early subscribers bought mobile phones’ starter packs at between N17,000 and N20,000 but today, thanks to the deregulation of the sub-sector, service providers are virtually begging subscribers to pick such packs for as low as N100 naira.

Surely, it requires the courage and resilience of a Jonathan to carry the cross of political unpopularity in order to ensure that Nigerians enjoy a breathe of fresh air in the long run.

My Agony is that many, like me agree that it is indeed a right and courageous move to take but still wonder why it must be now and not latter? Answer? Never leave for later, what can be done now. Its called procrastination, the thief of time.

 

Soye Wilson Jamabo

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Wike, Pride Of Nigeria’s Democracy, NUJ Affirms

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The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as an exhibit of pride to democracy in Nigeria.
The NUJ also noted that Wike has redefined governance through demonstration of democracy in action with his service to Rivers people.
The National leadership, the 36 State Executives, and the FCT, including members of the NUJ across the country made the assertion in Port Harcourt during the inspection tour led by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim of both completed and ongoing projects being undertaken by the governor in the state.
The National President of the NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, said the 1999 Constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold governments accountable to the people.
Isiguzo posited that having placed the projects side-by-side with the expectations of the populace, it was obvious that the governor’s investment in critical infrastructure would remain lifelong empowerment tools for the people.
”We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country.
”At the much-talked about Real Madrid Football Academy, where they are going to train the young ones, we saw that they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.
”That’s also to catch-them-young, and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources is continuously invested in sports development in Nigeria, it’s just a matter of time, it will gain its pride of place in sporting world.”
On her part, the National President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Ladi Bala said that the projects she had seen were entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country.
According to Bala, the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges’ Quarters stand out as first of its kind in Nigeria, with its serene ambiance that would translate into enhancing the productivity of judges of Rivers origin.
”I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State, and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them, and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.
”I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leaf from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working, and we are very proud of what we have seen here”, she added.
In his reaction, the National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur, stated that Wike was a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of life of his people.
Tukur, who expressed gratitude to Wike for his support to the NUJ National Conference in Port Harcourt, said that his show of love for journalists confirms his commitment to the welfare of the people.
On his part, Chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ismail Ademola Babalola, asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital, and the Real Madrid Football Academy were part of projects Governor Wike was using to secure a productive future for the youths of the state because they meet global standard.
Also speaking, the Vice President of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako, commended the quality of the various roads and flyover bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city tourists’ destination of choice.
In the same vein, the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Comrade Larai Musa, said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Wike and his projects’ mantra, and asserted that it was leaders like him that were needed at the national level.
Also, Comrade Ikechukwu Ordu of Enugu State Council of the NUJ noted the need for other political leaders to emulate Wike in providing dividends of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortunes of his state.
Also from the Enugu State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ugochukwu Chukwudieke, said she was completely overwhelmed by what Wike has done in constructing the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover Bridge, Rumuogba Flyover Bridge, and Rebisi Flyover Bridge delivered within one year.
Chukwudieke also praised the quality of work on the Rumuola Flyover Bridge, Ogbun-nu-Abali Flyover Bridge, GRA Junction Flyover Bridge, and the Orochiri-Wurukwo flyover project at Waterlines Junction by Aba Road.

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Stop Constitution Review, CNG Tasks NASS

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The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), yesterday, called on the National Assembly to suspend the review of the 1999 Constitution, describing it as ill-timed and uncalled for, particularly in the face of the growing agitation for Nigeria’s break-up.

It also urged the National Assembly to invoke the doctrine of necessity to organize a Biafra referendum as the final step towards the separation of the Igbo from the rest of Nigeria.

This was part of the presentation which CNG made before the leadership of the National Assembly against the backdrop of the disturbances created by certain interest groups in the South-East, in the form of the agitation for a separate state of Biafra.

Briefing journalists in Abuja after the presentation, CNG Spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, noted that the Biafra agitation in the South-East had turned violent, alleging that the aim of the unrest in the region was to instigate reprisals by northerners against people from other parts of the country.

He said, “We demanded the immediate suspension of the ongoing exercise for the review of the 1999 Constitution and to concentrate on the first priority of determining who and what actually constitutes Nigeria as a nation in the present circumstance in which the Igbo, by taking up arms against the Nigerian state for the third time, have foreclosed every hope for the rest of us to continue coexisting with them as one nation.

“In order to achieve the final separation of the Igbo from the rest of Nigeria, we also demanded the NASS to organize a referendum by seeking the cover of the same Doctrine of Necessity invoked by Nigeria’s federal parliament that paved way for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s takeover by declaring the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua unfit.

“We further demanded NASS to prevail on the Federal Government of Nigeria to invite the United Nations as well as the African Union and ECOWAS, to initiate the process of self-determination to mandate the Biafrans out of the Nigerian union by leveraging on the several relevant international treaties and conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory.

“Today, everyone can see that the diabolical scheme planned and exhibited in the actions and clamours of IPOB, supported morally and politically by the vast majority of the pliant and affrighted Igbo elites, politicians, traditional rulers, business persons, and the larger population of this ethnic group has pushed Nigeria to the precipice.

“We are convinced that this renewed violent determination of the Igbo to see through the secession of the South-East from Nigeria is now real and cannot be avoided or deferred any longer without terrible consequences.

“In order to avoid such mishaps and unnecessary devastation on all sides, particularly the South-East whose leaders and agitators are now bent on driving it over the brink into a catastrophe, CNG is of the view that resort to available means of actualising the separation of the South-East from the rest of Nigeria is today a vital task that must be undertaken by all.”

Suleiman also argued that in order to prevent a descent into another civil war, and to forestall mass killings and untold sufferings, CNG has committed to the call for a referendum that will finally separate the South-East from Nigeria.

He added, “In this connection, we are hoping the NASS will come up with a framework to be agreed upon in the course of the referendum and its final implementation in the South-East or any enclave that wishes to secede from Nigeria.

All identified indigenes (Igbos) of the enclave or entity that called for secession (South-East) must leave the territory of Nigeria and assemble in their designated enclave for the purpose of the exercise.

“The outcome of the referendum shall be final, irreversible and shall not be reviewed or reconsidered for any other reasons. Citizens of the breakaway enclave shall be deprived of any automatic rights to return to the territory of the rump Nigeria, or to be admitted to live in any of its parts.

“We are aware that all this while, the North continued to bear the brunt of the violent agitations for secession with equanimity, stoical calm and resignation.

“Therefore, as the CNG recommits to the pursuit of a final constitutional separation with Biafra, we urge the North to remain the bulwark of respect, integrity, dignity, decorum, tradition, decency, morality, civilization, etiquette, good behaviour, politeness, accommodation, and all other positive traits with the assurance that the good will ultimately prevail over evil.”

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PDP’s Performance Has Diminished APC In Rivers, Wike

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike says with what his administration has achieved, and is still doing, in terms of delivery of critical infrastructure, nobody in the state needs to talk about the All Progressives Congress (APC) anymore.
The governor made the assertion at the flag-off of construction work of the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern-Bypass Road project, yesterday, in Port Harcourt.
Wike explained that the previous administration politicised the reconstruction of the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern-Bypass road and actually failed to accomplish it.
The governor said he has defied those political intrigues, and has genuinely interfaced with the people to understand the economic benefits a dualised road in the city centre could attract.
According to Wike, with the level of infrastructural development around Ogbum-nu-Abali, there would be a spike in the value of property and enhanced economic activities.
“I know that the people of Ogbum-nu-Abali resisted the dualisation of this road because of lack of information. When I met with the community leaders, they said look, they have houses bequeathed to them by their grandparents.
“I told them that whether they like it or not, if I don’t dualise it today, tomorrow somebody else will do it. And you don’t know who is coming.
“So, it’s better done now that I am a governor than when you don’t know who is coming. And the economic benefit of this road is too much, which you may not understand now.”
Speaking further, Wike stated that the entire Old Government Residential Area (GRA) has been given a facelift with quality road projects.
“This is the only place remaining. Old GRA cannot be like that and then we will leave this place. We have done the Rebisi flyover, the Oru-Abali flyover. There is no way this place will not be dualised at all. It’s not possible.”
Performing the flag-off, the member representing Port Harcourt Federal Constituency 1, Hon Kenneth Anayo Chikere, said the formal flag-off ceremony has ended several speculations about the possibility of executing the project.
“This day witnesses the eventual actualisation of the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern Bypass Road project. Thank you governor for the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern Bypass Road project!
“Thank you governor, for the Ogbum-nu-Abali internal roads, completed, commissioned and profitably in use. Thank you for being a worthy son and governor! Thank you for the exemplary leadership, the infrastructural and human development in all sectors.”
The Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Elloka Tasie-Amadi, while giving the project description said the dualisation of the Ogbum-nu-Abali Road will extend all the way to the ongoing Eastern Bypass dualisation.
“Today, Ogbum-nu-Abali Road is a 7.3m wide single carriage way, with a cross section of approximately 8.5m width inclusive of the drains on either side of the road. After reconstruction and project completion, we will have a cross section of 18.1m width on the axis extending to Eastern Bypass and 17.35m width along Ogbum-nu-Abali Road.
“This cross section is made up of 2 carriageways, each measuring 7.3m wide, both of which will be separated by a median of 1.5m width along the extension to Eastern Bypass and a median of 750cm width along Ogbum-nu-Abali Road.
It includes 1m wide drains on either side of the road, and of course, street lighting to ease movement at night as well as enhance security.
The commissioner said, the project like many others commissioned or ongoing will be built to design specifications aimed at guaranteeing minimum life-span requirement of 30 years.

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