Former President Olusegun Obasanjo last week, fell short of tagging the Buhari administration’s optimism to rescue the Chibok Girls, abducted nearly two years ago, as deceptive. According to him, to achieve such feat after three days was futile and after as long as two years, unrealistic.
Pessimistic as the former military general’s position may appear at a time when Nigerians have invested all of their hopes on the current administration should worry the security community, the Federal Government and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Viewed from the standpoint that Obasanjo, all through the former government’s tenure, was a steady critic of the manner the war on terror was being prosecuted and repeatedly challenged it to do everything necessary to rescue and bring back home the girls, Obasanjo’s recent comments are defeatist and capable of discouraging the security community determined to die trying.
To some Nigerians, the former Head of State’s position should be seen as a frank-talk that depicts the reality on ground but the question is : At what time did he come by this painful realization? Did he know this and yet blamed the failure to rescue the girls on the incompetence of the Jonathan administration and failure to take the right steps?.
If indeed the mission seemed impossible after three days, what advice did he give to the former government? Forget the search? Or the present, too unrealistic to continue?
Obasanjo was an open supporter of APC and for which he not merely withdrew as chairman of Board of Trustees of the PDP, he also allegedly tore his PDP membership card. A party that brought him to power and which kept him for eight years on corridor of influence and affluence.
Some of the reasons for Obasanjo’s preference for the APC over the PDP were among others, poor security, poor economic management, failure of the PDP administration under Jonathan to listen to wise counsels, the lack-lustre approach to the war on terror and the failure to accept head-on the challenge to rescue alive, the Chibok girls.
But all through the campaigns, at least after more than Obasanjo’s three day deadline’, the former President did not tell Nigerians that the promise by the APC to rescue the Chibok girls in no time, after assumption of office, was an impossibility, hopeful that it was possible to do what the Jonathan Presidency could not achieve, many Nigerians jettisoned the PDP and voted overwhelmingly for the APC, which premised its electoral promises on security, war on terror and corruption, drastic economic revival, aggressive investment in agriculture, infrastructure, education and power among many other promises.
Nearly a year after, Obasanjo has punctured the optimism of Nigerians to see the Chibok girls alive. Security still remains a major issue with increase in cases of kidnappings, armed robbery, religious conflicts, frequent battles between Fulani herdsmen and farmers, oil theft and illegal bunkering, a shaky currency and an economy on its knees.
Although Nigerian troops deserve the people’s praise for the success recorded in the war against terror’ in the North East of the country, Boko Haram, which government promised would be no more after December 31, last years, is still alive killing many more at soft targets. The issues of the military and Islamic Shitte confrontation is under the carpet waiting to boom. Benue and Plateau States farmers have continued to raise alarm over attacks on them by herdsmen. Pro-Biafra agitators still pose a challenge to security in the South-East, imminent electoral shocks loom in parts of the South-South over rerun polls and the uncertainty that still hangs over young men in the South-West asking for amnesty.
In the areas of power, the Discos are still insistent that the hike in electricity tariff announced February 1 must remain even after Senate and most Nigerians insist otherwise. And for this, no reasonable progress has been made in that sector.
What of the 2016 Federal Budget? Amidst accusations and counter- accusations of corrupt withdrawal from the National Assembly and padding, nothing has been heard on what to do with culprits, in a government that prides itself as fighting corruption. For instance, who exchanged the President’s copy to the Senate with another one and why? Who was responsible for the observed increases of allocations to some Ministries, Departments and Agencies there after?
But the area that has attracted the most criticism by Nigerians is the government’s approach to the war on corruption. It appears that more of the war is on pages of newspapers and intimidation of suspects who ought to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
In recent times, ‘Arm-Gate,’ has made most of the headlines as the anti-corruption agency EFCC virtually relies on the accounts of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Dasuki to publish names of opposition politicians and even professional bodies, as beneficiaries of a more than $2billion arm purchase vote. With proper probe, names like the Nigeria Guild of Editors, should not make the list.
The story round town is that some of those named have since made refunds, to avoid detention while others continue to insist on their innocence in the midst of all these, there are accusations as that court decisions granting bail to some suspects were being disobeyed or deliberately delayed to punish opposition politicians.
These are serious accusations that should worry the present Federal Government, considering the nature of democracy that brought it to power. If court orders can be violated, like that which granted bail to proprietor of the Pro-Biafra radio station, then, there is trouble. Sadly, President Buhari himself, faulted the judiciary when in an interview aired on national television, he described the action of the Biafra radio operator as treason, an end which is the exclusive right of the judiciary to proclaim. And assured he cannot be released on bail.
To succeed therefore, the APC government must revisit its campaign promises to Nigerians and see what it has achieved and can.
This is not what pre-election propagenda can resolve because Nigerians are no fools. Already, some have started counting their losses in votes cast wrongly.
This is not good for a political party that created and highlighted both real and imaginary dangers which if not given the chance to address could bring the country to its knees. The long delay in search for ready-made Ministers, the protracted newspaper-based war on corruption, the shaky Naira and the dwindling economy are issues that did not add-up with the nature of readiness APC promised Nigerians, if elected.
With nearly a year almost gone, the question is: can the APC government truly claim that it has indeed matched its campaign rhetoric with action? Which major promise can the party claim to have met or do so soon?
The Chibok girls rescue was to be achieved very soon once in government. And with what Obasanjo has said, will ‘soon’ ever be ‘soon’? When will APC look at its blueprint to pick and choose items to address for Nigerians to know government is working?
My Agony is that even the war against corruption which should endear the government to the people, is gradually losing its original popularity on account of the fact that it has worn the toga of a war on opponents.
Time is not the APC government’s friend. Because it is getting to the time when the people will hold them to account for unfulfilled promises.
Soye Wilson Jamabo
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
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.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
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.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
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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