The Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), a group passionately campaigning for a second term for President Goodluck Jonathan, has been hit by allegation of fraud, with some members of the group accusing it of staging a crowd in support of the president and refusing to pay them as agreed.
TAN has conducted regional rallies in support of Jonathan since August, with the last of its six conventions held in Kano, for the North West, which comprises Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, and Kaduna states.
The Kano event held September 27, like the previous five regional rallies, was attended by senior officials of the Federal Government, and thousands of supporters.
Much of the crowd at the event was rented, some aggrieved members of the group have told our correspondent.
The politicians, who are members of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), in Kano State, and were drafted to be part of the TAN rally, narrated how they were asked to rent a crowd for the president for an agreed fee, only to be left stranded without money to compensate hundreds of youth and women hired for the rally.
The matter is threatening to tear the support organization apart with the aggrieved members gearing to seek redress and expose the sham they claim was on parade at the events.
The aggrieved agents now have a pile of debt to settle and some of them, who spoke with our correspondent, say they do not know who to talk to about the money they spent in bringing in supporters.
One of the agents, Ibrahim Lawan, who claimed to be the secretary of the PDP Youth Awareness Initiative, Kano, told our correspondent that he was instructed to bring in 500 youth and women and to hire buses that will transport them to the venue of the rally in Kano city.
The arrangement, according to Lawan, was that each participant would be paid N500 on arrival, and N2, 000 for each bus. Those contracted to rent the crowd hired, at least, 50 busloads of supporters, he said.
The story changed once they arrived at the venue, Lawan told our correspondent.
“But to my utmost surprise and confusion, as we entered the venue, we tried to locate the organizers but we could not see them. When I called them, they said I should be patient as they would settle everything after the event. But almost immediately, we realized that the whole thing is a scam because nobody was talking to us again,” Lawan said.
He said they were left to source money and settle some of the youth who became restive and attacked them and their personal vehicles, and seized their belongings, including phones.
“This left us in rancour with over 600 angry youth who went wild due to frustration of spending lots of hours, no food or water, and also no available transportation back to their various destinations,” he said.
Lawan said he managed to escape while two of his guards were injured in the fray that followed.
Students in the state, who were also asked to put up a showing at the event, were treated the same way, he said.
Another agent, Bello Dan Alkarya, also told ou correspondent that he was asked to bring in women and youth to the venue and would be given N500 for each of them.
Alkarya said he did, but unlike Lawan, he was short-changed as only N300 was paid for each person transported to the rally venue.
Our investigation revealed that TAN has no official representation in Kano.
Our correspondent, who made findings in Kano, was told the group has only two resource persons who are responsible for the entire North West.
One of the officials, who agreed to speak, but on the condition his identity be protected, said he had received several complaints of people short-changed by the group after the event.
“I simply told them I am not an insider on the activities of TAN because I don’t know much about them. We are only two of us in the whole of North West region, and we don’t have any office. The only way I get to them is when they call me, I don’t know anything about them,” he said.
“In fact, the only person who holds everything is the owner of the group, Ifeanyi Uba. He is the one who directed one Jibrin to make sure that they get some people to bring in women and youth. Now, you can see that there is a problem in the whole thing,” the man said.
TAN’s Director of Communication and Strategy, Udenta Udenta, told our correspondent in a telephone interview last Saturday that the association was not aware of the issue, and could not have been involved in such an arrangement.
“Kano rally was our last rally. The response of Nigerians to our objective and rallies was spontaneous and they are full of passion and conviction. From the South East rally to the North West, that has been the trend.
“However, stakeholders, including those contesting elections, can mobilize people to come to the rallies. It is not like TAN is doing the entire mobilization. It is like a market place. TAN only set up a platform to accommodate various interests. Therefore, whoever made the accusation (you are talking about) should be clear on it; he should state clearly who is responsible, when the agreement was reached, date and if not, such a story should be dismissed,” Udenta said.
Lawan said he and others affected have decided to reach out to the media, the PDP leadership and the police.
“Till now, those in charge of the mobilisation and payment of transport fares and feeding stipends are nowhere to be found or contacted,” he said.
“It’s indeed a pity to see how things are being organised by TAN North West (Kano). Please, PDP, GDG and TAN members, come to my aid, I am currently under pressure and threatened by angry PDP youth to pay them their stipends,” Lawan lamented.
TAN has been at the centre of controversy before.
During its earlier rallies, the group staged the events at the peak of the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, defying complaints and warnings from Nigerians about the possibility of helping to spread the deadly virus.
Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road
No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.
By: Taneh Beemene
Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank
The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.
Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms
Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.
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