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Archive for February, 2013

EFCC Press Release: Ex-Governor Audu’s Son Gets Bail.


 

By Wilson Uwujaren

A Federal Capital Territory High Court, presided over by Justice Abubakar Sadiq Umar on Thursday 28 February, 2013 granted bail to Mustapha Audu, son of former governor of Kogi state, Prince Abubakar Audu who is standing trial alongside his wife, Zahra Audu and their company, Constructor Guild Limited over an N18 million land scam.

 

The couple who were arraigned on Tuesday 26 February, 2013 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC were alleged to have falsely obtained the sum of N18 million from one Nike Kolawole under the pretence that they will get her a four- bedroom house at Katampe Extension, Abuja; and another property at Caemly Estate, Idu Sabo, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Counsel to the accused, Okechuku Ajunwa prayed the court to grant the first accused person bail since because his first alleged offence he is eligible for it.

However, the prosecuting counsel, Samuel Ugwuegbulam, opposed the bail application. He said though the offence for which the accused was charged is  eligible for bail, it nonetheless carries a sentence of not less seven years which could be a motivation to jump bail.

“I urge this honourable court to fix a short date for trial so that the case will be heard and justice be served in the shortest possible time. The EFCC has only three witnesses to present which can all be heard the same day.”  He said.

The presiding judge having heard the arguments of counsel, granted the accused bail in the sum of N5million (five million naira) with two sureties in like sum.

He ordered that the sureties must be residents within the jurisdiction of the court and one of them must be a federal civil servant not below the rank of level 10.

Mustapha Audu’s wife, Zahra was on the day of her arraignment magnanimously allowed by the judge to enjoy the administrative bail granted her by the EFCC owing to her status as a nursing mother.

Trial date has been set for 15th April, 2013.

Wilson Uwujaren
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity
28th February, 2013

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Judge Postpones Okah’s Sentence To March 18th 2013-CHANNELSTV.


 

By Channelstv.com

The judge presiding over the sentencing of Henry Okah in the Johannesburg High Court, Neels Claassen has postponed the case again to the 18th, 19th, and 20th of March.

Although the judge had said he would not allow any other postponement, he said he had to do this in order to give Mr. Okah’s new legal team time to get used to the notes left by the old legal team.

The new team led by Gerrit Miller requested for the time following the withdrawal of the former team led by Lucky Multulanla.

The prosecution described the request as a ploy to delay the delivery of justice but Judge Claassen went ahead to grant the plea because, as he said, he didn’t want to force the new team.

If the hearing had held today, witnesses from Nigeria and the United States would have testified in a bid to mitigate the sentencing of terror suspect, Henry Okah following the request of his former attorney, Mr. Multulanla at his last appearance on the 1st of February, to give witnesses time to get to South Africa to testify.

Mr. Okah intended calling at least five people to testify.

He was found guilty in January of 13 counts of terrorism, including engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activities, and delivering, placing, and detonating an explosive device.

The charges related to two car bombs in Abuja, Nigeria, in which 12 people were killed and 36 injured on October 1, 2010, the anniversary of the Nigeria’s independence, and another two explosions in the southern Nigerian city of Warri, earlier in March 2010.

Source. SAHARA REPORTERS.

EFCC Press Release- Okey Nwosu: FinBank Didn’t Approve Nwosu’s Purchase of Shares with Depositors’ Fund – Witness.


Photo: Premium Times
By Wilson Uwujaren

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday, February 28, 2013, told a Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, that the former managing director of the defunct FinBank Plc, Okey Nwosu and three of his former directors standing trial for an alleged N20 billion scam used the bank’s depositors’ funds to purchase shares without the consent of the board of directors of the bank.  The other directors are Dayo Famoroti, Danjuma Ocholi and Agnes Ebubedike.

 

EFCC’s witness, Mr. Usman Zakari told the court that the shares were purchased using seven different company names which, according to him, were neither incorporated by the bank nor authorized to carry out the transactions.

EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, also presented a documented proof of the board’s resolution on the said shares’ acquisition. The document did not contain any approval for the purchase of the shares.

Counsel to the first defendant, Nnamdi Oragwu objected to the admittance of the document as an exhibit before the court.

According to him “the defence is surprised at this document and is seeing it for the first time”. Counsel to the third defendant, Kunle Ogunlesi, SAN also argued that the author of the document should have been in court to tender the document and not the witness. While counsels to the second and fourth defendants; Seyi Sowemimo, SAN, and I. A. Adedipe, SAN respectively, aligned with the submissions of Oragwu and Ogunlesi.  They all prayed the court to discountenance the document.

Justice Okunnu, however, overruled the defence counsel and asked them to proceed with the cross examination of the witness. She also admitted the document as an exhibit.

Justice Okunnu adjourned the case to March 27, 2013.

Wilson Uwujaren

Ag. Head, Media & Publicity

28th February, 2013

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Blade Runner Tops The News, Rape Takes Back Seat; French Make Patent Grab For African Tea; Ivory Coast Dumps Bodies (Amnesty), African Med Students In Cuba On Strike.


GENDER DEBATE TAKES BACK SEAT WHILE ‘BLADE RUNNER’ TOPS PAGE ONE

Feb. 26 (GIN) – As the international press corps spins rafts of copy on accused killer Oscar ‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius, the much-needed gender debate expected to follow a young Black girl’s rape and murder has sunk to the back pages.

Cabinet ministers were also missing in action at a crucial debate in Parliament this week on gender-based violence.

Ministers Lulu Xingwana of women, children and people with disabilities, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini all failed to show up at the debate, the local Mail & Guardian newspaper reported.

Democratic Alliance spokesperson Debbie Schafer called it symptomatic of a lack of leadership on the issue. Spokesman for the ANC caucus Moloto Mothapo excused the absences telling a reporter that ‘this was not a debate on a portfolio like a budget vote, but a political debate.’

Meanwhile, a rape survivor will have her day in court thanks to pressure by the Treatment Action Coalition that followed up her case lost repeatedly by investigators after it took place in 2010. “Rape in the East Cape is out of control,” an investigating officer acknowledged. “Drastic measures need to be taken to combat this.”

Finally, the release on bail of accused sports icon Oscar Pistorius continues to raise eyebrows as details of his arrest emerge. Essayist Rapule Tabane in the Mail & Guardian observed:  “Pistorius is indeed privileged, what with a big-name spin doctor flying out from London to salvage his diminishing reputation, a specially hired pathologist and sympathetic headlines screaming “Prayers for Oscar”.

“His got special treatment, even from the police: they could not bear to put him in the back of a police van…  After his arrest, he did not have to spend time in a prison. Instead, he was detained at a police station where, it was reported, family members came to visit and gave him food. I do not need to dwell here on the horrors of our prisons, which thousands of our young men have to endure daily, and which Pistorius was spared.

Pistorius was granted bail of 1 million rand. He was allowed to pay an initial installment of 100,000 rand, with the balance due by March 1. He is next due in court on June 4. w/pix of O. Pistorius after arrest

AFRICAN MEDICINAL TEA AT RISK OF ‘PATENT’ BY FRENCH COMPANY

Feb. 26 (GIN) – It’s been called “the new pomegranate juice” blessed with antioxidants and benefits for cardiovascular, diabetes, liver and respiratory ailments. Rooibos tea, grown only in a small area in the Western Cape province of South, has been a popular drink in Southern Africa for ages.

Which is why it came as a shock to learn that a French company was petitioning to own the name “Rooibos Tea”.  “The Dept. of Trade and Industry stands ready to defend South Africa’s trade and intellectual property interests vigorously,” Trade Minister Rob Davies said.

French corporate bids to own foreign names include an attempted patent claim on “Darjeeling,” the name of an Indian tea, which the French company had used for a lingerie line.

This is the second patent fight for Rooibos. A Texas firm, Burke International, registered the name “Rooibos” in 2004 with the US Patent and Trademark Office. When the tea became popular, Burke demanded that users either pay fees for use of the name, or cease its use. Burke’s claim to the name Rooibos was legally denied in 2005.

Copyright claims have even been launched against the national anthem. According to City Press of South Africa, “there are 61 claimants on royalties for Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrica or any derivative of the name, including the National Anthem of South Africa.” But Owen Dean of Intellectual Property Watch, refutes the claims.

“At best such claimants can only claim rights in their particular versions or arrangements of Nkosi (provided they are original).”

Meanwhile, the South African Rooibos Council (SARC) has reportedly applied to register ROOIBOS as a Certification Mark under the South African Trade Marks Act, which registration is intended to serve as the basis for international protection. w/pix of farmer harvesting rooibos

NEW IVORY COAST GOV’T ‘DUMPING BODIES OF GBAGBO SUPPORTERS IN WELLS”, SAYS GROUP

Feb. 26 (GIN) – A year after the international community pushed for polls in the Ivory Coast and helped remove the former president, Laurent Gbagbo, serious abuses of human rights by the current administration have been documented in a new report by the rights watchdog Amnesty International.

“Ivory Coast’s army has committed “widespread human rights violations” against supporters of ousted former president Laurent Gbagbo, Amnesty said in its report published Tuesday.

“This new national army, along with an armed militia of traditional hunters, are carrying out extra-judicial executions, deliberate and arbitrary killings, politically motivated arrests and torture”.

“They are acting with almost total impunity under the pretence of ensuring security and fighting against perpetrators of armed attacks,” the report said.

The Amnesty team heard first-hand evidence about how detainees were being held for months, with no access to their families, doctors or lawyers.

Amnesty delegates visited several places of detention. They heard accounts of torture with electricity or molten plastic to extract confessions about alleged participation in armed attacks.

Gbagbo himself has been detained by the International Criminal Court in The Hague since the end of 2011, accused of crimes against humanity.

Amnesty called for an international commission of inquiry into a July 2012 raid on a displaced persons’ camp near the town of Duekoue, which targeted people from the Guere ethnic group, considered to be pro-Gbagbo.

Fourteen people were reported killed, but Amnesty said “many more bodies are believed to have been dumped in wells”.

Meanwhile, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan begins a four-day visit Wednesday to the Ivory Coast to discuss with other leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) the current crises in Mali and Guinea-Bissau. At the end of the summit, Pres. Jonathan will remain for a 3-day state visit at the invitation of Pres. Alassane Ouattara. w/pix of Ivory Coast special forces

SOUTH AFRICAN MED STUDENTS FACE DEPORTATION OVER STRIKE

Feb. 26 (GIN) – South Africa’s Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, has called for the deportation of over a hundred South African medical students in Cuba who launched a hunger strike over conditions they considered unacceptable.

“The sense of entitlement and lack of gratitude displayed by these students who come from a country with such high levels of desperate need for higher education and training, and limited state resources, is totally unacceptable. I condemn it in the strongest terms,” Minister Nzimande said. “If they are threatening to come back home, then maybe they should do just that.”’

But emails sent to the South African daily City Press painted a different picture. A bottleneck apparently held up payment of student food bills which left the students without meals for four days. Meals are primarily pork, not acceptable to some students. The stipend is insufficient, they say, to cover incidental expenses and amounts to a third of what children of the South African diplomatic corps receive.

“The department of health might say our demands are unreasonable, but, honestly, we wouldn’t go to such lengths for something we didn’t believe in,” said one student who asked to remain anonymous.

“None of us are trying to be heroes here, and none of us want to go home and lose our careers,” he added in an email.

Some 2,000 South African medical students are enrolled in the 6 year program which includes one year of practical work in South Africa. This week, about 187 of the student doctors staged a protest outside the South African embassy in the Cuban capital of Havana and were arrested.

They were detained overnight but have refused to give up their fight over food and money.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s spokesman, Joe Maila, initially promised a “fact-finding mission” to look into the complaints. “We really want to find out what is happening with the food. Where there are serious concerns we will do something immediately. We want these students to succeed. We need more doctors.” According to the students, the mission never arrived.

He defended the pork diet. “Our students are usually served alternate meals consisting of beef, chicken or pork but for the past two or three weeks the Cuban government had problems acquiring beef and chicken. They could only serve what was available, which was pork.”

The students responded: “Whenever we ask for change we are reminded of the fact that we are from poor families, squatter camps, that we are women and men with difficulties, children of the storm and we should be grateful for the little we have.”

The father of a student detained this week told City Press it was unfortunate the department felt this way.

“When our kids complete their studies they return to serve South Africans. In many cases, they work in rural areas where local doctors refuse to go.” w/pix of Minister B. Nzimande

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Nigerian Economic Development And Inland Waterways: Dredging Rivers Niger And Benue By Chima Iheke, Ph.D.


By Chima Iheke, Ph.D

As Nigeria looks ahead, on its march toward sustainable economic development, it faces the daunting task of pulling every region along while creating an economic revival capable of releasing the masses from the existential pinch of economic depression.
Along with other infrastructure, and despite the many structural problems, the creation of navigable waterways is perhaps the easiest, cheapest and most effective for Nigeria, weighed against geography and a return on investment.

What is called for is a transformational project, finally unclogging the choked up arteries of commerce, which will enable Nigeria to slip through the current crushing grip of debilitating poverty.

The good news is that in our peculiar brand of politics, the creation of a navigable inland waterway(especially on) rivers Niger and Benue is what Nigerians of all regions can agree on embarking. This will illuminate the path of economic transformation nationwide since the two rivers transverse every region of the country. A sparkling, rumbling sleepless flow of majesty gliding serenely in condensed eternity.

On the Niger side, starting from Kebbi in the Northwest through Kwara, in the West to the confluence town of Lokoja in the middle and from the Benue side, starting from Adamawa through Benue State to Lokoja and southward through Onitsha to Yeangoa in the Niger Delta.

These are natural inland waterways which providentially straddle the length and breadth of the country before emptying into one of the deepest natural harbors of the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic.

This is a potential game changer capable of engendering an economic revival that will ameliorate the anxiety among our people distraught under the perpetual worry of the indispensable necessaries of life.

Why the dredging of these two rivers has never been a major part of an overall development plan is anyone’s guess. It seems to pay heed to the elementary school canard “that Mongo Park discovered River Niger” since our people seem to avert their eyes to the existence and economic potential of the river which carries more water than any other river in Africa, except Congo.

This article though is not a polemic on Nigeria economic development plan, rather an attempt to proffer a solution by pointing out the pedestrian and the obvious: A viable commercial inland water way on the two rivers is probably the nation’s single most important infrastructure to spur economic growth throughout the whole country that Nigeria can and should undertake.

In this shared public forum of common discourse, a rather bold, intellectual disquisition is mandated to find solutions and refrain from lancing boils without a poultice. Let us sheath the daggers of cynical criticism that cut through necrosis of the body polity, a debridement bleeding only jeers heard around the world without sutures to bind the wound.

Nigeria is our country. Her triumphs and failures belong to us all. I am of the school of thought which believes that you correct your child with the right hand and draw him or her back to your bosom with the left. You don’t throw away the baby with the bath water. A recognition and an understanding of the enormity and difficulty in a nation-building is expected.

That said, in this brief but crucial period when the economy is sprouting fresh shoots, and Nigeria has become a member of  “MINTS” (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey), it’s incumbent upon the government to mandate the Army Corp of Engineers to draw up a plan for the dredging of the two rivers and a further plan linking other rivers into an integrated inland waterways system.

Empirical evidence from other countries shows that inland waterway construction follows the course of natural rivers because of the high costs of building man-made canals. The cost of dredging, deepening the channels and eliminating sharp curves on the on the rivers are normally much more cost effective than building an integrated railroad and road network to move the same amount of cargo.

That is not to say that road and railroads should not be part of the development package. Importantly, in the course of making these rivers more navigable by building dams to raise the water level, there are externalities of irrigation for farming and power generation while the dams enable the engineers to control the flow of the rivers and manage Nigeria’s epic floods like the ones of recent months. For example, here in America, the banks of the mighty Colorado River used to flood a wide area of downtown Austin, Texas, and other towns along it. Thanks to LBJ’s vision, the river was dammed upstream- eliminating floods, providing drinking water and producing electricity and spurring recreational benefits for a booming central Texas population that came once it was built, affirming once again Kevin Costner‘s assertion in the Field of Dreams movie that “if you build it, they will come”.

To travel past the dams, the corps of engineers can then build locks, a water-filled chamber with gates at each end allowing ships to travel past the dams, just like a mini-Panama Canal. After the ship enters a lock, the water level can be raised to match the water level upstream of the dam or lowered to match the level down. These dams can also help maintain higher water levels during dry season. They can also prevent rivers from becoming too rough and flooding following periods of heavy rains which are very common in Nigeria.

The enormous irrigated land will foster good paying agricultural jobs for Nigerians. We can extrapolate from what is obtainable in other places that once the rivers Niger and Benue are dredged making them accessible for commercial traffic, there will be a surge in economic activities in every part of the country especially the hinterland. This will open up Nigeria’s bread basket to commercial farming since farmers in flood plains of both rivers will gain access to move crops and supplies to and from the market.

At the risk of being accused of pedantry, maybe didactic is a better word, consider this: with increased economic activities on the rivers, towns and depots will spring up along the banks to supply both the commerce on the rivers and the hinterland thereby reducing the population pressure on our major cities. An inter-connectedness, developing a robust durable cohesiveness as a fount of stable social order invariably will emerge.

Transport cost, a major hindrance to economic expansion, will be greatly reduced all around since no place in Nigeria will be more than two hundred and fifty miles from the banks of the rivers. Not only that, the volume of traffic will be immense since a single tugboat commonly transports fifteen barges, each capable of carrying about 1,500 tons (1,360 mts) of cargo and in some cases one tugboat can push more than forty barges moving bulk cargo including chemicals, coal, construction material, grains, mineral and petroleum products.

Moribund mining concessions and the extractive industries in the North and Dim Lang highlands will get a shot in the arm intensifying Foreign Direct Investment into the region. Moving bulk ore coming from the mines require river transport to be cost effective and a great attraction to mining companies.

We should be cognizant of the fact greatest successes in raising living standards have come about by not altering individuals’ choice, but by changing decisions made by government in creating an enabling environment for the people. A framework within which citizens can pursue their personal betterment.
Nigeria should borrow a leaf from nations that have made inland waterways a major part of their infrastructure project to achieve economic development. From the Germans on the Rhine project completed in 1895 to the English on the Thames and the United States with its ubiquitous inland waterways including the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Mississippi River.

There is nothing coincidental in the fact that most of the major economic centers in the United States and other developed countries are located along the banks of major inland rivers and waterways. Neither is it coincidental that China’s leading economic city of Shanghai sits right on the coast or at the mouth of the Yangtze River. Inland waterways are the arteries to the heartland of a country’s economic activities.

This asymmetry in economic development in Nigeria between the North and the South can be explained in large part to geography and proximity to the sea.

The futility in, and draw backs attendant in economic development with inadequate infrastructure in Nigeria is too glaring to offer any analysis. Once strategies are adjusted to reflect both the limits of the possible and the relative importance of the various goals toward long-term national development, we then abominate the alternative, that doing nothing is not an option. This dilemma can be solved in only one way, by the birth of a new faith in our people, adjusted to the peculiarities of the task at hand.

The creation of commercial inland waterways on the Niger and Benue is one such option and will go a long way in rectifying this structural anomaly. The arrangement and mechanism which they favor are important, and the appropriate means must be found to give them effect. Physical geography, that is the geography that informs a country’s topography has been identified as one of the main reasons why some countries achieve remarkable development while others lag behind. This is mainly due to high transport cost that retards economic pursuit.

In answer to the question why some countries fail to thrive, Dr. Jeffery D. Sachs in his book, the End of Poverty, asserts that the answer often lies in the frequently overlooked problem of physical geography. “Many of the world’s poorest countries are severely hindered by high transport costs because they are landlocked, situated in high mountain ranges, or lack navigable rivers, long coastlines or good natural harbors.”

Dr. Sachs noted Supra “Adam Smith was acutely aware of the role of high transport costs in hindering economic development by stressing in particular, the advantages of proximity to low-cost sea based trade as critical, noting that remote economies would be the last regions to achieve economic development. As by means of water carriage a more extensive market is opened for every sort of industry than what inland-carriage alone can afford, so it is upon the seacoast, and along the banks of navigable rivers, that industry of every kind naturally begins to subdivide and improve itself, and it is frequently not till a long time after that improvement extends to the inland part of the country.”

The trick here is getting political and economic structures to work in tandem. The Niger-Benue natural waterways should not be allowed to become the proverbial Naira on the sidewalk, neglected and waiting to be picked up. To that effect, an expansive, non-parochial political will, eschewing and transcending regional and ethnic nativism in the appointment of a civilian administrator is called for. An office with delegated authority over the military flowing from the president in his capacity and role as Commander in Chief.

The administrator should be a woman or man of cold, energetic intellect…a Hammer, of compounded fist and brain with temerity to boot. A person combining a non-blenching fortitude with lucidity of purpose. We have Nigerians who fit this bill and have exhibited such qualities. Men and women actuated by excellency both at home and abroad. Nigerians occupy various prominent positions around the world and one will be honored if tasked to help build the Motherland.

The eternal optimist that I am, a firm believer that since this will be a “Project Specific”, I am persuaded that mandating the Army Corp of Engineers with the task will meet success, if for no other reason than to protect their professed professional integrity. With a civilian at the helm of the agency, it will not be with the trampling boots of arrogance that the military approaches this task but rather with chastened humility of one making amends.

It will be a redeeming project, that will allow the military to shed the scarlet garb of ineptitude and mollify to some extent the opprobrium and lingering public outrage for the long years of military misrule. Let us make an effort, this effort! Doing nothing is not an option at this point of our history when staggering joblessness, hopelessness, crime, and corruption are insidiously joining forces to derail Nigeria.

By Chima Iheke, Ph.D
Arkansas, USA

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

The Banana Invasion By Aliyu Modibbo Umar.


By Aliyu Modibbo Umar

In the beginning, they imported apples. We bought them because we don’t grow apples.  Then they started to import grapes, plums, and all kind of exotic fruits. We purchased them because we don’t cultivate them. Now, they are importing bananas. We are buying them by the dozen even though we cultivate bananas in abundance.

Before I go any further with this discussion, permit me to put a disclaimer:  I am not a banana farmer. I was however privileged to be in the Federal Minister of Commerce and Industry in those days. In this transformation era the name of the Ministry has changed to Trade and Investment. I have no objection to the trade nomenclature, but investment is not exactly industry in my estimation. Please pardon me if I am beginning to sound like one of those “yesterday’s men” courtesy of Reuben Abati. To those who may entertain the notion that I am breaching protocols, by not channeling my observations to the relevant authorities but instead using a public forum like this one as if I am “an accidental public servant,” I wish to state that, my long sojourn in the public service precludes me from claiming to be an “accidental public servant”. About a year ago I drew the attention of my friend, Segun Aganga, the Minister of Trade and Investment on this matter.  Since the problem has persisted, I found it absolutely necessary to bring this matter to the public domain, so that we can see the clear and present danger the importation of bananas may pose to the socio economic well being of our dear country, Nigeria.

Now, back to our discourse. Like most of you out there, I began to notice and even purchased beautifully formed and succulent bananas in Abuja two years ago. The banana is long, with a perfect tan, that if it were not a banana, you will swear that it is using one of those expensive suntan lotions. The first clue that gives them away that they are not our homegrown banana is the label pasted on their side. One day before making a purchase, I curiously asked my banana vendor, “ From where do you get this banana?” The girl balanced the banana tray on her head and retorted, “ Me self, I no know oo. Na sell I dey sell am.” Now that short response got me more curious, because, I know as a fact that Nigeria is a major banana producer in the West Africa Sub Region.

About two years ago, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reported that there is an influx of imported bananas in the country. In the course of their investigation, NAN found out that the banana is imported from Cameroon and Togo. The NAN investigation reveals that the foreign bananas flooding the markets of Abuja, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Plateau States were distributed from a warehouse located at the Marrarba Orange Market, which is on the outskirts of Abuja.

According to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Bananas are grown in nearly 130 countries. In Africa, Uganda is the largest producer, followed by Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. If Nigeria is among the top five producers of bananas in Africa, then what business do we have of allowing the importation of bananas to the detriment of the teeming banana farmers across the country? I posit that there is negligence on the side of authorities responsible for safeguarding our markets from all kinds of dumping of commodities. We must be extra vigilant in matters of this nature.

While serving as Minister of Commerce and Industry, I recalled how myself, and officials of the ministry, put up a vicious fight to stop the importation of tomato paste from Ghana. Our position based on our mandate then was to make sure we safeguard the Nigerian market for Nigerians first. It is not my intention to place the blame of this kind of lapses on the Ministry, but to buttress the point that the ministry must constantly take inventory of any anomaly in the market place and quickly intervene before the situation gets out of control. I recalled before and during my tenure how the trend of allowing importation of one hundred percent fruit juice was halted to give way to at least the importation only of concentrates while packaging and other processes are done within our local industry. At best , veritable employment are created through such actions.

The consumer too should be wary of buying without proper scrutiny of objects for consumption. Particularly if they are agricultural products. These days a lot of genetic crop engineering is practiced to grow the perfect looking banana, mango, tomato, cucumber and many other agricultural commodities. The effects of the genetic engineering of crops on the human body are still being discovered. Perhaps, that partly explains the sudden presence of diseases hither to unknown in this part of the world.

My angst on this matter is based on the cycle of hopelessness we are in. As a people we are taking trade with a nonchalant attitude. It is with this set of mind set we lost out on cotton and textiles. I remember, how in the early 1980’s, some of the Kano textile merchants began to outsource the production of Ankara to China, because it is cheaper. Before you know it, the market has been flooded with low price fabric consequently running our indigenous textile companies out of business.

As indicated earlier in this piece, the onus of responsibility for safeguarding our markets, and protecting our farmers as well as the manufacturing sector is for both the Government and the entire citizenry to be on the alert of goods and services being dumped on us even though we are quite capable of satisfying the consumer demands of such products and services. If we continue with our lackadaisical attitude, we will wake up one day and find our supermarkets stocked up with packets of Egusi, Ogbonno and Kuka all imported from China.

Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar was at one time Minister of Commerce and Industry, and also former Minister of the FCT

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Sleeping Through a Revolution By Ifeanyi Igbokwe.


By Ifeanyi Igbokwe

In October 1908, Ford introduced the Model T. He had done his homework extremely well and had taken his time to make it far more advanced in technology and design, easier to repair, more innovative and most of all cheaper. He knew quite well that the working class American of his day needed a car but often they could not afford it so he gave them the Model T.

It was a phenomenal success. In just a few years about half of the cars on American highways and elsewhere came from Ford. He had produced over fifteen million copies of this easy-to-drive car and had begun to think the model would last forever. While his competitor were busy building faster, more durable and better cars Ford could not bring himself to think he would ever need to make another model. While away on holiday, his workers improved on the design and built a newer better model and presented to him as a surprise on his arrival but he destroyed it, viewing it as a threat. When after two decades sales had begun to decline massively, Ford decided to build a new model but not before it had forfeited its coveted number one position to his competitors.

Why does a brand sell more than the other? Why does Sprite sell more than 7up? Why would a customer prefer one brand over and above the other? Why do Eva and Nestle consistently upgrade their table water containers? Why would two people who graduated from the same university the same year be hired by a company into different positions with such disparity in wages such that one earns N150, 000 and the other smiles home with N75, 000, given that the company is an equal opportunity employer?

Could it be that there is something one knew and the other didn’t? Could it be that there is something one is doing better than the other or does that the other is not aware of? Could it be that one is doing a thing the other is not considering important yet? We have come to dwell in a time that handsomely rewards hard work; a generation that has no time eulogizing the weak or the not-so-good-enough.

Therefore the worth of a man is more of what he can do with his head than what he can accomplish with the strength of his muscles. The ability of an organization to do what the other does not know of yet and keep far ahead of the competition has become their strength and the very advantage with which it rules in the market in which they exist. For surely the employer would always go for the best, the customer would go for the best leaving the good with little or nothing at all.

So the question is: How much do you know about what you do? Do you know it enough to be preferred over your neighbor? Are you busy wasting away time in the name of waiting for employers to come with nothing in your head to attract them? Are you among the workers that just go with the flow, trudge along with the crowd without any unique output to distinguish you? Then you may be in for a shocker. For it is almost sure that one day there will come the need to restructure the workforce. It would become obvious that those who have no significant input to offer the company would be the first to be dismissed. Until you give an employer a reason to keep you, it’s a pity you have no job and even a worse pity that you are not aware and are not ready for it.

Have you come to ask yourself why it is in the building of any great architectural edifice, the casual laborers who actually do the bulk of the personal physical labor required to put the structure in place earn peanuts when compared to what the architects and engineers in reality do more intellectual work than strength-based work on the project?

Why do business owners, CEO’s and managers who often sit in their big offices dishing out orders and doing no much physical work earn almost everything and become millionaires while the employees who actually do the bulk of the work that generates the revenue go on year after year, managing to stay an inch away from poverty. Could it be that the business owners, CEO’s and managers do something that the employees don’t do or know something they don’t know? I tell you YES!

Time has changed and is changing. To thrive in the information economy in which we are, an individual would require a lot of intellectual capital.

The world’s population stands at seven billion while Nigeria’s population is an estimated 170 million. These figures are expected to double in the next couple of decades. Out of the seven billion, what would we need and people would recommend you as the person that knows how best to do? What do you know more? Why would anyone prefer you to your neighbor? Until you we address these issues personally, things may never change.

Being an individual survival, relevance or dominance in a sphere of existence in an information-driven economy would largely depend on how much you know, which would give one an edge, advantage or preference over the other. More than in any age would it be an unpardonable crime to exist in an age like this with a central nervous system capable of storing all the names of the sand grains of the earth, had they  individual names and carry it about everywhere empty.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Manhunt For Maina By Charles Ofoji.


By Charles Ofoji

If any Nigerian still had doubt that our country is a cassava republic, it must have been finally expunged by the failure of the security agencies to arrest a common civil servant called Abdulrasheed Maina. Last Wednesday, the Senate drilled the Inspector- General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar over his failure to capture the embattled chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), after Senate President David Mark issued a warrant for his arrest.

Listen to what Abubakar told the Senator Paulinus Igwe-led Senate Committee on Police. He promised to hunt for Maina with INTERPOL, which will help track him down abroad. I dey laugh o! My ribs o! According to him, the police will soon declare Maina wanted, using INTERPOL.

He also told the Senators that he was prepared to place monetary ransom on the head of the fleeing felon. He assured the senators that the force would deploy every means to arrest the run-away civil servant. Abubakar further told the senators that he withdrew the police attaches from Maina immediately the Senate issued the warrant of arrest and since that time, the man absconded and has not been seen. My countrymen and women, this must be some kind of comedy for a depressed populace. Which one was easier? To withdraw the police orderlies and bodyguards and then send other policemen in search of him or to direct the same policemen attached to him to arrest him forthwith? Is it not strange that Abubakar was telling the Senate of what he would do, instead of telling them how far he has gone is going after Maina overseas? The fact remains that the police knew at each point where Maina was. It was their men and women who guarded him, until he vamoosed from the geographical space called Nigeria.

If Maina disappeared by some kind of magic from Nigeria as the IGP told the Senate and found his way to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as reported in the media, then it must be stuff for a Hollywood blockbuster. He must be a movie star and eligible for an Oscar. But this, in my view, was not the case. Mr. Abubakar merely took some punches and embarrassment for some powerful people who covered Maina with “presidential immunity”. With such, he could not have been arrested. How could the police tell us, while the film played out, that they never knew his whereabouts when at each time, about a dozen of their own men and women guarded him? This kind of story is unbefitting of a fine officer I know the IG to be. But then again what options did he have against the superior powers that precluded him from doing his job?

Unfortunately, the Nigerian nation has been reduced to a conundrum by the ruling class. It is a country where the rich and mighty are above the law due to historic corruption. If not how could an ordinary civil servant have grown so mighty to be untouchable. This writer once wrote that the real cankerworms tearing down the Nigerian fabric are the civil servants. Apart from their daily sucking of the Nigerian milk, there can be no looting or embezzlement by our elected officers without their collaboration.

To maintain the status-quo and ensure that nothing changes, those in-charge rule the country by abracadabra. The more the citizens look the less they see. But sometimes, the citizens get an unimpeded view of the state of things. Public outrage normally follows. Then the government is compelled to take some drastic measure to give the people the feeling that their country is after all not a cassava republic. Just as the Judiciary last week, despised by the public, attempted to purge itself by wielding the hammer against three of its controversial high-profile members – three justices mired in corruption allegations. Because of overwhelming public outcry, the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended their compulsory retirement on account of corruption.

The same thing was what happened in Maina’s case. It was alleged that someone very powerful was playing the music to which he danced. Some pointed fingers at the presidency. The angry speech of the Senate President, Senator David Mark, as he issued Maina’s arrest warrant clearly buttresses this. Nigerians got another rare picture of what was going on. There was another outcry. The music stopped; the dance stopped as well. Maina automatically became an ordinary citizen again. The presidency could no longer afford to shield him from facing a different kind of music. Nevertheless, perhaps, it conceded to him an easy passage as the public was cuckolded with the hocus-pocus of a manhunt.

It would not be un-Nigerian if it later emerges that Maina actually left the shores of this country on a ticket or on a plane paid by the taxpayers. How could a flamboyant man like him, who is wanted by the authorities, pass through the Nigerian immigration, wherever his point of exit was, without being noticed? I disagree. Some kind of cover was provided. But who was protecting Maina? The President himself? The Vice-President or Secretary to the government of Nigeria? And why was he spared? Whoever it was must be an accomplice to the crime Maina is believed to have committed. The sad thing is that, because as typical of Nigeria, he will never be prosecuted. So, we will never get to know.

checkpointcharley@yahoo.de

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Weeks After Parking Spot Stabbing Incident, Lagos Police Spokesperson In Public Outburst With Reporter.


Lagos PPRO Ngozi Braide
By Citizen Reports

Only weeks after the Lagos State Police spokesperson, Ngozi Braide, allegedly attempted to stab another female police officer over a parking spot at the Police Command Headquarters in Ikeja, a female journalist said Ms. Braide today in the same premises threatened to fight with her.

The journalist, a PM News reporter who requested anonymity, said she had gone to obtain a comment from Miss Braide on a story she was working on, but said the spokesperson became furious, threatened a fight, and ordered her to leave the office.

According to the journalist, “She became angry and told me that my friends and I are peddling lies that she fought with a CSP in public.  Miss Braide went on to call me all sorts of names and accused me of blackmail. She went on to order me to leave the office but I told her that I will not leave because the Lagos State PPRO’s office is a public office and does not belong to her.  At this point she got up from her seat and charged towards me as if she wanted to fight me.  I still stood waiting to see what she will do next. She walked towards me and she said, ‘Take your dirty body out of my office. This is my office.

You and your friends can go on to say all things and blackmail me. I don’t care.’  At this point some journalists held her and prevented her from fighting me.”

She said she was shocked and dismayed at Ms. Braide’s behavior but was not surprised as the spokesperson has quarreled with other reporters before and even gone as far as threatening a superior police officer with a dagger over a mere parking space at the police headquarters.

“She fought with this female CSP until her breast was exposed,” the reporter said.  “Other policemen had to restrain her that day.  This is something that happened in public and is well known but she is lying, denying that it never happened.”

She said she did not blame Ms. Braide, as the Inspector General of Police and some other journalists were shielding her, giving her the opportunity to continue to misbehave, but expressed the hope that the spokesperson does not one day stab the commissioner or even the IGP.

For herself, she said she would contact her lawyer and then petition the authorities. “This is a threat to my life and defamation of character,” she said.
In a previous incident, Ms. Braide was reported to have threatened to stab a senior police officer, identified as Cynthia Ibeama, over the use of a parking spot in the office premises.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

LEADERSHIP Publisher Sam Nda-Isaiah A Conman, Says Yobe Governor Ibrahim Gaidam.


By SaharaReporters, New York

Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Gaidam has dismissed the publisher of LEADERSHIP Newspapers, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, as a conman hiding under the umbrella of journalism to extort money from, and blackmail Nigerians who refuse to advertise with him.

Mr. Gaidam, who made the claim in a strongly-worded protest letter he caused to be circulated around the country and published in several dailies today, threatened to take action against Nda-Isaiah if he continues in his unethical practices.

“He has committed grave ethical infractions that strike at the very core of the integrity of journalism,” the governor said of the publisher, adding that Nda-Isaiah’s brand of journalism will expose the profession to ridicule.  “The publisher has decided on a deliberate editorial policy to fabricate lies against us, ridicule our institutions, pillory our achievements and maliciously libel our functionaries all because we refused to yield to his unceasing demand for advertisement patronage. Recently, he has invested enormous editorial energies to malign and lie against the government and people of Yobe state – he is likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”

The governor cited an incident this month in which the newspaper published an editorial attacking the State government, followed by a personal comment in Mrs. Nda-Isaiah’s column that he attributed to his having refused to place advertisements in Leadership.

Mr. Gaidam also offered a 2008 example of conflict between the government and Leadership concerning a N10 million payment to the newspaper for the publication of special supplements.

“This followed Nda-Isaiah’s visit to Damaturu where he met our late governor, Senator Mamman Ali,” the governor’s complaint said.  “But the project did not even go half-way when the governor passed on. Leadership stopped the supplements following Governor Mamman Ali’s death and to date there is no explanation on this or a refund of the balance of the money collected.  This, however, did not stop us from placing adverts in the paper whenever we saw the need to do so. But on almost all occasions we have had reason not to patronize the paper; we never fail to receive harassing calls from Nda-Isaiah or some members of his staff.”

He said his government recognizes the media’s responsibility to alert it to its duties, which is why it does not regard all negative stories about his administration as a declaration of hostility or as a slight on individuals.

The governor further said: “Some negative stories can be constructive and redemptive.  But there is a world of difference between critical journalism and blackmail journalism. It is blackmail journalism when a publisher abuses the privilege of his medium to traduce and manufacture lies against people simply because they refused to place adverts in his or her news medium.”

Having made his case, Mr. Gaidam urged the public to discountenance any future insults or campaign of disinformation against the Yobe government or its officials that Leadership may engage in, as there is more to what the newspaper writes than meets the eye.
Excerpts from Governor Gaidam’s Letter:
“We are writing to call public’s attention to the disturbingly unethical practices of Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, publisher and chairman of Abuja-based Leadership newspaper. Since November 2011, we have been victims of Nda-Isaiah’s blackmail. He has committed grave ethical infractions that strike at the very core of the integrity of journalism. We feel obligated to state the facts because we are concerned that Nda-Isaiah’s brand of journalism will expose the profession to ridicule.The publisher has decided on a deliberate editorial policy to fabricate lies against us, ridicule our institutions, pillory our achievements and maliciously libel our functionaries all because we refused to yield to his unceasing demand for advertisement patronage. Recently, he has invested enormous editorial energies to malign and lie against the government and people of Yobe state – he is likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

“In one week, Leadership wrote an editorial titled “Yobe and the Murder of Korean Doctors” on February 13, 2013 where it tendentiously accused Yobe state governor of being responsible for the regrettably cold-blooded murder of three Korean doctors in our state (about which the security agencies with the support of the state government are working tirelessly to unravel). We wrote a rejoinder (in Daily Trust, Blueprint, People’s Daily and The Nation on February 15, 2013) calling attention to the untruth of the editorial’s claims and pointing out the many inaccuracies that informed its conclusions. A few days after our rejoinder, Nda-Isaiah again dedicated his personal column, under the title “Yobe Governor Should Be Held Responsible for This” (February 18, 2013), to hurl coarse invectives and repeat the same false statements against us. He called the governor a “sadist” and his media adviser a “thuggish underling,” among other unsavoury insults. That is clearly beyond the pale.

“So, why is Nda-Isaiah so fixated on Yobe state and its officials? Well, it is because we have had occasions to spurn his entreaties for advertisement patronage, and he seems unwilling to accept the fact that it is absolutely our decision to choose which media to patronise with our advertisements.As a state government, we do place advertisement in the media from time to time. We do so because we think it is the best way to record our achievements and inform our people at home and elsewhere about our programmes, projects and policies. In doing this, we are guided by the imperatives of availability of funds and the reach and relevance of the media we patronize. We have in the past had occasion to place advertisements in Leadership when we thought it was appropriate to do so.

“For instance, in late 2008, Yobe state government paid ten million naira to Leadership to publish special supplements on the state. This followed Nda-Isaiah’s visit to Damaturu where he met our late governor, Senator Mamman Ali. But the project did not even go half-way when the governor passed on. Leadership stopped the supplements following Governor Mamman Ali’s death and to date there is no explanation on this or a refund of the balance of the money collected.This, however, did not stop us from placing adverts in the paper whenever we saw the need to do so. But on almost all occasions we have had reason not to patronize the paper; we never fail to receive harassing calls from Nda-Isaiah or some members of his staff.

“As a government, we recognise the media’s responsibility to alert us to our duties. That is why, as a policy, we do not regard all negative stories about our administration as declarations of hostility or as slight on our persons. Some negative stories can be constructive and redemptive. But there is a world of difference between critical journalism and blackmail journalism. It is blackmail journalism when a publisher abuses the privilege of his medium to traduce and manufacture lies against people simply because they refused to place adverts in his or her news medium.

“Of course, we recognise the importance of advertisement to the survival of the news media. As a government accountable to God and the people, we spread our adverts as best we can within the resources available and the possibilities of local consumption. There are many national dailies which are happy to receive adverts from us but would never resort to blackmail if they did not. The relationship between advertiser and medium must necessarily be based on trust, not blackmail, coercion or extortion.

“With the foregoing, we believe the people of Yobe state and Nigerians who have followed the bizarre and unbelievable saga between Leadership and the Yobe state government are now better informed about the context in which the newspaper picks and targets the state government and its officials in an unfair and unprofessional manner.We, therefore, ask the public to discountenance any future insults or campaign of disinformation against the Yobe government or its officials that Leadership may engage in. Anyone who sees such libellous material from the newspaper should recall the above historical background and know that there is more to what the newspaper writes than meets the eye.”

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