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Looking For Jobs, Finding Death – By Femi Fani-Kayode.


By Femi Fani-Kayode

Whether anyone likes to accept it or not the bitter truth is that 80 per cent of our GRADUATES are unemployed in Nigeria today whilst 51 per cent of our PEOPLE are also unemployed. As a frightful and grave consequence of these shocking statistics, which I happen to believe may well be a world record in terms of unemployment, a terrible tragedy occurred in Abuja and other parts of our country on 16th March 2014.

Approximately 68,000 of our youths gathered at the National Stadium in Abuja for an aptitude test for just 3000 jobs in the Immigration Service. 10 of those children were killed in a stampede whilst looking for those jobs. It did not stop there. Another 20,000 youths gathered in the stadium at Port Harcourt, Rivers state for aptitude tests for the same 3000 jobs and there was another stampede there as well in which 4 of their colleagues were killed and four more were so badly wounded that they remain in a coma up until now.

Similar gatherings for the same Immigration aptitude test took place in cities all over the country all for the same 3000 jobs and three young pregnant girls together with three male youths were killed in a similar stampede at the stadium in Minna, Niger state.

The only crime that all these children that were either killed, maimed or injured in these horrific stampedes in the stadiums of all these cities like Abuja, Port Harcourt, Minna, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Benin and elsewhere had committed was to try to get a job, to fight for a better life for themselves and to try to secure their future. What a tragedy.

One day Nigerians will appreciate the importance of facts, figures and statistics and the consequences of tolerating atrocious, lousy, insensitive and unaccountable governments. They will also understand the implications of having a government that has no qualms about taking advantage of the pitiful plight of it’s own youths and citizens and scamming them in the most obvious and shameful manner.

Why should anyone be surprised that hundreds of thousands of youths gathered in stadiums all over the country on the 15th March 2014 just to apply for a tiny handful of jobs that are available in Immigration? This is so SIMPLY because there are NO jobs available for these children in our country.

I repeat 80 per cent of our graduates are unemployed and 51 per cent of our people are unemployed. Why won’t they die and be killed or injured whilst looking for the few jobs that are available? Why won’t they gather in stadiums all over the country in their hundreds of thousands just to do an aptitude test for a job in Immigration for which there are only 3000 vacancies? Why should anyone be surprised by this madness and this turmoil? Why should anyone be moved by this horrific carnage when it is now a regular phenomenon in our country for children to be slaughtered. If they are not butchered whilst at school by islamist fundamentalists they are slaughtered whilst they are looking for jobs from a heartless government which has effectively destroyed their future.

Yet look for jobs they must because these children and these youths are desperate and they are suffering. To make matters worse they are also being taken advantage of and scammed by their own government who are desperate to extort money from them by all means available. If this were not the case why would the Comptroller-General of Immigration and the Minister of Internal Affairs order that each and every one of those youths that flooded the stadiums in their hundreds of thousands and that stood in the sun should be made to pay 1000 naira each for the forms that they were to use to do the aptitude test at the various stadiums all over the country.

Someone was set to make a whole lot of money considering the fact that over one hundred thousand youths were involved in this shameless exercise and the amount of cash that they must have made runs into hundreds of millions of naira. The whole thing was just a massive and monuemental scam to extort hundreds of millions of naira from these poor, young and innocent souls and many of our youths have paid for it with their lives.

This is what President Goodluck Jonathan’s Nigeria has done to them. We now have an army of angry, jobless, frustrated, disillusioned and desperate youths on our hands in this country and consequently we are literally sitting on a keg of gunpowder. May God help us and may He forgive us for failing these children and destroying their futures.

Other than this I will say no more on this matter because the truth is that most Nigerians no longer ”give a damn” when blood is shed and when lives are taken. This is so even when those lives are those of children. Permit me to give an example. On the very same day that our youths were dying in stadiums looking for jobs with Immigration another 100 innocent people were being slaughtered by ”unknown gunmen” in southern Kaduna and no-one seems to care. Again only two days before then, on March 12th 2014, 110 innocent Nigerians were butchered by what were described in the press as a group of ”fulani gunmen who were on motorbikes” in Katsina state whilst the President was on an official visit there. What a tragedy.

Under President Goodluck Jonathan we have become a nation of vampires where the death of innocent children and youths means nothing and where we cannot even provide jobs or a decent standard of living for our young ones. Instead we attempt to scam them and to extort money from them. What a government, what a country.

If our government had any sense of decency, justice or accountability the Comptroller-General of Immigration and the Minister of Internal Affairs would have not only been compelled to resign or fired by now but they would also have been arrested and would be facing criminal charges for, at the very best, criminal negligence and manslaughter and, at the very worse, accessories before the fact to murder. Yet we know that that will never happen as long as President Goodluck Jonathan is in power. Far from it.

As a matter of fact instead of bowing his head in shame and showing any sense of contrition or remorse the Minister of Internal Affairs has come out shamelessly and blamed the dead youths themselves by saying that ”they did not exercise enough patience during the exercise”. May God forgive this man. I wonder if he would have expressed such sentiments if any of his own children had been killed in the stampede.

Permit me to end this contribution by quoting from a moving email that I received from a dear Nigerian family friend who herself is a mother and who presently resides in the United Kingdom with her family. She sent it to me the day after the tragic death of the youths in the stadium. I have obtained her permission to share her words in this write-up but for obvious reasons I will not mention her name. She wrote-

”Good morning uncle Femi. I honestly don’t know where to start from. My heart is so heavy. What is it about Nigeria that (or is it we as a nation) nothing  good comes out of the news. I’m beginning to wonder if there is nothing wrong with me when I go through websites expectant of only bad news. Why don’t I ever expect anything good to come out if Nigeria? I don’t even know what to tell my children again. I try to give them a balanced view of the country but something would always come up to make nonsense of that. Why would any sane person want to come and live in that madness called Nigeria where nothing is guaranteed. Life is not guaranteed, jobs are not guaranteed, education is not guaranteed, security is not guaranteed, a decent daily meal is not guaranteed. I could go on and on.

I came to a realization recently which is self-preservation. Abi shebi it’s life/self first. When I saw the early morning pictures of the crowd of youths at the Abuja stadium my heart just sank because I could almost write the script of what would follow. And so I waited (expectantly?)and wasn’t disappointed. Would anything come out of it? No. Would life go on? Yes. Do they care? No. And the moron of a Minister had the gall to say that candidates died because of ”impatience”. Meanwhile the so-called aptitude test was just a ruse. They had handpicked their preferred candidates weeks ago. The crowd alone told me that we have a serious problem of youth unemployment yet Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala would come out and be reeling stupid figures. Please tell her that she’s not fooling anyone. As if the unemployment is not bad enough government is opening more universities like daycare centers and still granting licenses for private universities. Who is going to absorb these teeming unemployed graduates? Where are the industries? Are you creating an enabling environment for investment? In fact I’m just done with agonizing over Nigeria. Self first please!”

Her words and counsel moved me to tears. As far as I am concerned she captured the mood very well and her simple yet succinct submission is reflective of the thinking and deep pain of millions of Nigerians from all over the world that are fast losing hope in their nation. Yet what can we do but just continue to hope and pray. What can we do for the future of our children and to better the fortunes of our nation? This is indeed food for thought. As the bible says, ”may God deliver us from bloodthirsty and evil men” and ”may the balm of Gilead heal our wounds and comfort our mourning souls”.

 

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

ICPC Seizes 372 International Passports.


By Folu Olamiti

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has in its custody 372 international passports recovered from several persons and agents.

The recovery is part of an ongoing clampdown on corruption-prone processes in the acquisition of visas.

The Commission has directed owners of the recovered passports to appear at its headquarters, located at Plot 802 Constitution Avenue, Zone A9, Central Business District Area, Abuja between 19th and 28th February 2014 from 10am to 3pm each day, excluding weekends.

The  affected persons are  to come along with proof of ownership and the travel documents supporting their visa applications to respective embassies to collect their passports.

It will be recalled that ICPC operatives, had in October 2013, arrested 18 suspects in Abuja and Lagos. Three of them were allegedly involved in the production of fake documents to satisfy visa requirements, while one was in possession of suspicious travel documents. The rest were either arrested with forged public documents or for allegedly colluding  with someone in India to procure a fake invitation letters from an Indian Hospital. Culpable ones have since been arraigned in courts.

ICPC had initiated several arrests after receiving an ever increasing number of petitions from prospective students seeking educational placement and patients seeking medical attention abroad who were duped by some agents.

It will be recalled that ICPC had issued a “Visa Scam Press Advisory” last year warning intending travelers of the consequences of patronising and using dubious travel agents and touts to obtain visas through corrupt practices.

Travelers were further advised to use verifiable documents and only deal with official and registered travel and appropriate government Agencies.

ICPC is delighted that these investigations and arrests have led to significant changes in visa administration by respective government departments, Travel Agencies, embassies and travelers.

Folu Olamiti
Resident Consultant

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Okogie: A Profile In Discipleship, Lesson To Jet Pastors By Bayo Oluwasanmi.


By Bayo Oluwasanmi

For the Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, His Eminence, Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, it’s not easy taking a stand for what’s right when every Nigerian Jet Pastor around him is running after what’s wrong. It’s not been fun either for Okogie swimming against the current of public opinion or walking against the wind of selfish pursuits.

Standing alone may not be popular especially in a reprobate nation like Nigeria, but it is always profitable for Okogie who chooses to walk with God. Working with people is not so difficult. All you need is unfailing patience, insight, stability, and tremendous experience. And Okogie is abundantly blessed with all the four qualities – and much more.

God could have chosen to do his work another way, but he didn’t. He chose to use people. People like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and of course Okogie. God asked Moses to demand of Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” And God asked Isaiah and Jeremiah to prophesy to a rebellious nation. Moses said “I won’t.” Isaiah said “Woe is me!” Jeremiah said, “I can’t.” And God asked Okogie to fight for the poor. Okogie said “Here I am God, send me!” Yet God supplied the strength and training to prepare each messenger to deliver his message.

In like manner, when God asked the Jet Pastors to side with poor and oppressed Nigerians and confront the oppressors with truth only the truth, they said “We’ll rather begin our charity abroad in our executive jets than associate with suffering Nigerians.” In unison, they answered, “We can’t,” “We won’t,” and “We will never!”

Though I have never listened to Okogie’s sermon, that’s what he did with his life – in the choices he made, the wisdom demonstrated, the priority that he gave to prayer, and the diligence he demonstrated toward the plight of the poor and voiceless Nigerians. I’m not a Catholic, but Cardinal Okogie’s outspokenness against military dictators and tyrants of a democratic government almost persuaded me to become a Catholic.

Every successive government in Nigeria has received the full brunt of Okogie’s assault. Like a diligent watchman, Okogie guards the Nigerian multitude of poor by warning the “Ogas at the top” of the impending judgement. He calls and calls, but no one is listening.

The career of Okogie, presents the life and ministry of “theology of liberation” as he preaches to his once mighty nation – Nigeria – a withering flower or a passing shadow. For nearly half a century, Okogie proclaims an unpopular message to the politicians as well as the Jet Pastors: do not pray that the poor be fed unless you are willing to provide the bread.

His sermons go unheeded by the headstrong leaders who do their best to silence Okogie by ignoring his cries and counsel. Opposed, hated, and once arrested, the heartbroken priest lives to see the cruel political leaders unleash all forms of barbarity on Nigerians.

Okogie, one of Nigeria’s prophetic mouthpieces – what a privilege and a responsibility – for the 77-year old priest to peer into the troubled waters of 2015 and doles out unpalatable truth to President Goodluck Jonathan not to run in 2015.

In an interview published in The Citizen Online September 22 last year, Okogie focused on 2015 presidential elections. Headlined “Don’t Run, Jonathan, Don’t …” the interview is a deliciously satisfying encounter with the fiery priest. At 77, Okogie remains unbowed and unbought. He dispenses the truth with divine generosity. There is still fire in the belly of the lion.

Excerpts from his interview:

On President Jonathan and 2015: “If I were Jonathan I will not try it because the writing on the wall does not favour it. We have not even got to 2015. There is so much sycophancy and flattery. It is like telling Okogie now to go into politics, ‘come, you are the kind of person we want,’ you think I am stupid.”

“Apart from the story that Jonathan made an agreement that he would do just one term, if it is true, do you think those who were there when he said ‘just one term’ are stupid.”

On corruption: “It is quite true and corruption has been there, but not as strong as it is now. It is now a cankerworm. The only good Lord can help us out of it. But if we want to fight corruption, we should start from the top. The man at the top is thinking when I leave office, what happens to me and he want to build an empire for himself. How did it get it?”

“Why are so many people running into politics? 2015 is two years away; see how they are killing themselves. Who even knows who will get to 2015? What do you think they are looking for, money? Nothing else. They are not patriotic; they are not. All our political leaders, how many of them can beat their chests to say they are patriotic. It is just gimmick and pancake that they are doing.”

On government’s plan for the youth: “They often say the youths are the future leaders of tomorrow; it is not true, because where are the plans they have for the youths; how many of them are truly educating the youths or giving scholarships?”

“Look at the ongoing ASUU strike, then consider the amount of money the senators, president, and governors collect, compared to what others are getting in Europe. And look at our schools, the citadel of learning, where the youths are supposed to be trained for the future of the country, that they claim is for youths.”

“Why are they not sending their own children to those kinds of schools? And those who do not have enough money to take their children to Europe take them to Ghana and even Benin Republic. This is the problem we all have. And this is why corruption is there.”

On the political parties: “The parties are chop, I chop like Fela said; they are all the same. If we are all patriotic, you do not care where the person who rules comes from…” I am looking for job, but I cannot get the job simply because I am from a particular region. What is wrong with us? So, our political leaders should guide and guard their mouths, because some of the people listening to them are stark illiterates, they hear go they do not hear come.”

On unholy alliance between Jet Pastors and oppressors of the ruling class: “It is pity that a good number of those who call themselves religious leaders today are not religious leaders; they only became religious leaders because they want to feed their tummy… And they feel they can take it up, read, and interpret it (Bible) to suit themselves, but no way. And this is why they are not keeping to their calling.”

The iconic figure of the Roman Catholic Mission in Nigeria, Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie retired from the pastoral governance of the See of Lagos having reached the age limit of 75 years May 25, 2012.

Born June 6, 1936 in Lagos, to a royal family of Uromi in Edo State his father was Esan and his mother was Yoruba. He holds a licentiate in sacred theology and was ordained as a priest December 1, 1966. In 1973, he became the Archbishop of Lagos. From 1994 to 2000, he headed the Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria.

Archbishop Okogie is the ultimate friend and companion of the voiceless, the marginalized, the helpless, and the poor. He’s the people’s priest. In my opinion, Cardinal Okogie possesses one of the most revolting pens in the history of clergy in Nigeria. He’s a thorn on politicians and those of the clergy and other appendages who branded with reprobate scandals. He detests their pomp, their pride, and their luxuriousness.

Over the years, Cardinal Okogie has mystified both his critics and admirers of the courage that sustained his heart, and the peace that filled his soul, were reflected upon his countenance and struck the beholders. He once volunteered to die in place of a Muslim woman who had been condemned to death by stoning by an Islamic court for adultery.

A man of super intellect, he never hide his belief in an infallible Bible and the consequences of that belief in his conforming behavior to Biblical precepts. Okogie is a solid excellent Christian, a rare gem among his fellow clergy men both at home and abroad.  A man of great power with great piety. He was one of the few cardinal electors in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI.

With a cheerful countenance and more than stoical constancy, he confronts head on the workers of iniquities that continue to annihilate the very people they sworn to serve and protect.

In June 2005 when the police acting on the orders of the federal government, laid siege on 1004 Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos; Bishop Okogie condemned the action saying “If a soul is lost there (1004 Estate), I will not hesitate to call for civil disobedience and beckon the international community against this government.”

The estate has been a subject of dispute between the federal government who had one time sold the property to the highest bidder and consequently asked its occupants who are mostly civil servants to vacate the building.

Like other helpless Nigerians, the Bishop felt like a prisoner in an outworn, obsolete political and theological system. Worried that religious politics would tear Nigeria apart, the revered Bishop warned that no country could remain one when “adherents of a particular religion are being singled out for persecution and denial of their fundamental rights as citizens of this country.”

Addressing newly ordained priests August 2005, the Cardinal said many priests had failed in their responsibility because of their inability to match their belief with actions. In 2006 speaking on the spate of assassinations in the country, the eminent Bishop had this to say: “The assassination of the former justice minister Bola Ige, Dikibo Marshall, Funso Williams and now Ayo Daramola portends a very great danger for our country, because the killers have not been found and prosecuted to deter others…”

On safety and security, he warned that “A nation without security is not a nation… Such a nation slides gradually into jungle justice, barbarism, anarchy and chaos.” “I am no prophet,” continued the Cardinal, “but if care is not taken, the way we are going, there will be many more assassinations before the 2007 elections.” Events that followed however, proved him to be a prophet!

A champion of public education, Cardinal Okogie berated the federal government when seven private universities were approved. He accused government of promoting private education at the expense of public education. “They are (government) subtly killing education in this country and making same costly for parents,” said the Cardinal.

Never recoiling from torments of enemies of progress and accusers of the brethren, Cardinal Okogie never missed the opportunity to condemn the extravagant riches of secular and church office. In June 2007 in Abuja at the Ordination of Seven Missionaries of Society of St. Paul (MSP), the Bishop took a swipe at priests who enriched themselves in God’s name. With biting sarcasm he lashed out at their hypocrisy:

“We need good Priests to carry out the work of God and lead Nigerians to Christ,” he said. “Now you see men of God involving themselves in negative attitude, bad practices such as enriching themselves with material things under the pretence of working in the Lord’s vineyard. Priests of God should bear good fruits that last,” he warned.

He challenged Nigerians to hold their priests accountable. “You must correct the man of God when they are not getting it right. They’re not saints, they are humans… Do not hesitate to call them back when they go astray.”

Okogie, “Dare to be a Daniel” is more than an old gospel song. It is a timeless challenge for the ruling class, the Jet Pastors, and for each new generation of Nigerians, calling them to be God’s “change agents” wherever he might send them or whatever position he might plant them. Okogie’s confidence in God is nurtured by his communication with God. To Okogie, to trust God is to talk to God, and to talk to God is to trust him all the more.

No doubt, Cardinal Okogie has left a sting in the hearts and a gnawing worm in the consciences of the enemies of the people. The lesson from the Cardinal’s life to the Jet Pastors is clear: A godly life is the best advertisement for Christianity.

We wish the people’s priest a retirement full of happiness and fun.

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

 

 

US: Nigeria Won’t Break up in 2015.


Mr. James Entwistle

Worries about Nigeria breaking up may not be unfounded after all.  The  United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle, during an  interactive session with some journalists in Lagos, said his country,  contrary to misconception, was not preparing  for Nigeria’s breakup.
He said: “I don’t see any sign of a breakup. There is no sign that  Nigeria will breakup. If this country is going to breakup in 2015, to  me, I don’t see any sign of it. You have challenges in this country, but  you are moving forward towards a bright future. There is no issue that  the country might break up.“Yes, your country had a devastating civil war just like my own  country. It almost tore us into two. I think both of our countries have  learnt how difficult it is to hold a country together and that has  certainly been a big factor in my country. The idea that Nigeria is  going to fall apart in the coming months is news to me; I am not sure  where that idea is coming from.”
Entwistle, who assumed duty in Nigeria last November, said Nigeria  parades array of talents and extraordinary creativity that will continue  to make the country an important place in Africa.
“In three months that I have been here, my overwhelming impression is  how smart and intelligent that Nigerians are. After three months, I am  very impressed by the creative spirit of Nigerians as they face  challenges. It is clear there are huge challenges ahead, but we are  committed to help Nigeria.“Every conversation I have on any subject, (I am just coming from a    roundtable discussion on the power sector here), I have really been  impressed by the energy and the drive and I get this sense that Nigerian  people are saying: ‘yes, we have challenges; things we have to deal  with but we can do this. This is our country. We will get this done.’  They appreciate help from outsiders and they just have this very strong  sense of pride that this is our country. We are going to get this  right,” he added.
He urged the federal government to strengthen its coordination efforts  with international organisations and neighbouring countries to stop Boko  Haram insurgency.“Whether it is fighting terror or the war on drugs or any of these  international problems that cut across borders, no one nation can do it  by itself. To really get at Boko Haram, your government needs to  continue working with Cameroun and Chad because these guys cross the  borders. These are guys for whom international borders are largely  meaningless. The only way to deal with these guys is to collaborate with  your neigbours and relevant international organisations.“I think in my conversation with your government and military, I think  there is a growing concern over finding an enemy who mixes with the  civilian population. So, that needs to be a focus,” he said.
He reiterated his country’s commitment to a review of African Growth  and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for inclusion of Nigeria’s value-added  products for export into American market against the current Generalised  System of Preference (GSP) provisions that allow  just oil as export  commodity from Nigeria into America.“We will continue to review AGOA. We will like to see other sectors of  your economy to begin to take advantage of AGOA,” he said.
On the recent law which bans same-sex unions in the country, Entwistle  said gay issue was a controversial one all over the world and that it  was up to Nigeria to define  marriage is.
He, however, expressed worry about certain clause in the law that places restrictions on freedom of assembly.
“As a friend of Nigeria, we are worried that the new law puts  restrictions on freedom of assembly or association. When you start  limiting freedom, it is worrisome,” he said.
Adeola Akinremi

Source: Radio Biafra.

Ibori’s Kangaroo Judge Retires-PM News, Nigeria.


 

Marcel Awokulehin
By Akin Kuponiyi

Justice Marcellus Idowu Awokulehin, the judge who gave former Delta State Governor, Onanefe James Ibori clean bill of health in the corruption charges file against him, has  retired. He retired Thursday.

In a well attended valedictory service held in Lagos in his honour by judges, lawyers, past chief judges of the Court Justice, Awokulehin thanked the judges and offered his gratitude to the late Bola Ige who recommended him for the post of a judge.

On 17 December, 2009,  Justice Awokulehin in his ruling quashed all the 170-count criminal charges filed against Ibori by  the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Ibori was however extradited to the United Kingdom where he was convicted and jailed for the same offence Wokulehin set him free in Nigeria.

Justice Awokulehin was born  16 January, 1949,  in Otan Aiyegbaju in Boluwaduro Local Government Area of Osun State. He started his early education at Holy Cross Primary School, Lagos from 1955-1960 and St.Mary’s Primary School, Lokoja from 1960-1962. From there he gained admission into St. Thomas’s School Kano from 1962-1964.

He later continued his secondary education at the Hussey College, Warri from 1964-1968.

Awokulehin was admitted into the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos as part time student from 1971-1973 and full time student from1973-1975 .

He later proceeded to the City of London Polytechnic from 1975-1978 for his Modular Law and from 1978-1979 and  obtained his Master’s degree having completed a post graduate course in business law. He was called to the Nigerian  Bar in 1982.

He did his National Youth Service with the Federal Ministry of Justice from 1982-1983. He was later made permanent staff from1985-1987.

Between 1987 and 1993, he was Senior State Counsel, Legal Adviser to the Department of Customs and Excise, Chief Legal Adviser Department of public prosecution, Marina, Lagos from August 1998-March 1999.

Awokulehin was the lead Counsel to the Oputa panel during its sitting in Lagos in 2001

He was appointed as Federal High Court Judge on 7 January, 2004 and served five divisions of the court, namely Asaba, Benin, Lagos, Lafia and Kaduna.

In a well attended valedictory service held in his honour by judges, lawyers, past chief judges of the Court Justice, Awokulehin thanked the judges and offered his gratitude to the late Bola Ige who recommended him for the post of a judge.

We are Ready to Rescue Nigeria From “Clueless Leaders,” Says APC.


Ayo Balogun, Lagos

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has assured Nigerians that the party is ready, willing and determined to make all the necessary sacrifices to reverse the prevailing gloomy situation in the country and bring about the much-needed change for the better in the interest of the long-suffering citizens.

APC Interim Spokesperson, Lai Mohammed

APC Interim Spokesperson, Lai Mohammed

In a New Year message issued in Lagos by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said Nigerians should go into the New Year with an unyielding commitment to be part of ongoing efforts to set the country on the path of growth and development, rather than get into a state of funk on the basis of the cumulative mis-governance of the past 14 years by the PDP-led Federal Government.

”While wishing all Nigerians a great 2014, we hereby solicit their unalloyed support for our efforts to reshape the country’s political landscape, shake off the heavy yoke imposed on them by their selfish, self-serving and clueless leaders and make the country a source of pride not only to its citizens but to all black people in the world,” it said.

APC said the first step in what will be a tough but final battle to rescue Nigeria from the clutches of rapacious leaders will be to bring the citizenry on board the train of change that is barrelling through the country, and to ensure that elections in the country are free, fair and credible.

”As we wrote in the preamble to our manifesto, ‘democracy, to be stable and meaningful, must be anchored on the principle that government derives its powers from the consent of the governed….This means that governments are instituted on the basis of free, fair and credible elections, and are maintained through responsiveness to public opinion.

”’In addition, the exercise of political authority is rooted in the rule of law. APC believes in the doctrine of social contract between the leaders and the led; which means that the public office holder is a trustee of the people and that power must be used in the interest of the people rather than in the interest of the public office holder’,” the party said.

It said in order to ensure that as many Nigerians as possible are brought aboard the APC train of change, the party would kick-start its membership registration drive early in the year, targeting in particular the youth who are indispensable in any effort to bring about change.

”We ask all those who are yearning for genuine change to seize the moment and embrace the engine of change, which the APC represents! Our compatriots who have lost faith in our dear country because of inefficient and corrupt leadership can count on us, because we represent committed, transparent and focused leadership,” APC said.

The party pledged to halt the country’s drift towards a failed state with a conscious plan for a post-oil economy in Nigeria, details of which would be outlined in the weeks and months ahead; and to make the welfare and security of the citizenry, which is the raison d’etre of any government, its top priority.

APC said that in order to extricate Nigeria  from the dire straits in which it has been plunged by the successive PDP governments, the party has decided to make as its priority the War Against Corruption; Food security; Accelerated Power Supply; Integrated Transport Network; Free Education; Devolution of Power; Accelerated Economic Growth and Affordable Health Care.

”We know skeptics will sneer at these and deride them as mere sloganeering. After all, Nigerians have been taken for a ride for the past 14 years by those who have mistaken transmogrification for transformation, and those who have relentless pursued power for the sake of power, rather than to use it to harness the country’s abundant human resources.

”But most things look impossible until they have been achieved, and the impressive record of performance in the states under our control, from Kano to Imo states and from Lagos to Edo, testifies to our ability, determination and willingness to make things happen for the benefit of our people,” the party said.

Source: African Examiner.

Nigeria’s Problems Rooted In Ethno-Religious Intolerance -Fashola.


Ayo Balogun, Lagos

Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State says the main problems confronting the Nigeria nation are rooted in ethno-religious intolerance and advocated unity of purpose among the citizens as a means to solve the nation’s problems.

Lagos state governor Babatunde Fashola

Lagos state governor Babatunde Fashola

In his New Year message to Lagosians, Fashola said the problems currently bedeviling the country were mainly man-made and that such would only take an agreement among the people to resolve to remove the things they find unacceptable in the society.

According to him, the nation’s problems, whether economic, social or political, were rooted in ethnic and religious intolerance, saying that the panacea lay in the belief by citizens in the Nigerian Project and the resolution to determine the kind of country of our collective dreams.

“Looking back at all that we went through in the past year, perhaps, the time has come for us all to take an introspective look at ourselves in an attempt to get to the root of our problems and challenges. The truth of the matter is that, whether it is the downturn in the economy or our worsening security situation, the challenges are traceable to ourselves”, the governor said.

Fashola recalled, with nostalgia, the situation in the country in the early sixties when the citizens saw themselves as just Nigerians irrespective of tribe, tongue or religion, and declared, “We have, as a result of myopic self and group interests, created an octopus that is threatening to devour our collective heritage. That Octopus is embedded in the twin evils of ethnic and religious intolerance.”

“Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Command Performance of “Kakadu, the Musical”, and it reminded me of the Nigeria of the early post-Independence era when it did not matter where you came from. It is a story that we all must imbibe in order to recreate that glorious era when we were all Nigerians, though tribe and tongue and religion may differ. It is set against the background of a newly Independent Nigeria brimming with hope, dreams and expectations. So we have a reference base,” he said.

He pleaded “that hope, dreams and expectations must not be lost, we must resolve this New Year to return to ourselves and give impetus to them. To do this successfully, we must begin to believe in Nigeria and the Nigerian Project once more. We must start by defining for ourselves the kind of future that we want. It is only when we agree on this that we can unite our efforts towards recreating the Nigeria of our collective dreams and make it come true.”

The governor expressed his delight that the situation in Lagos had been that of religious harmony even in the midst of the challenges and difficulties that had bedeviled the country in recent times, adding that almost every family in Lagos has members of different Faith living together in harmony.

“In spite of the growing population of Nigerians of all Faith and ethnicity in this city, Lagosians have been able to define themselves and each other not by how they worship but who they are, how godly they are, how humane they are, how warm and friendly they are. It is a harmony that we do not intend to keep to ourselves alone but to share the essence with other states,” he stated.

He thanked all Lagosians “for achieving this feat even in the midst of manifest intolerance and sometimes provocation”, urging them, however, not to rest on their oars. “We must work very hard not only to keep it that way but to improve on it continually. Our modest success in the past years in transforming our dear State into a model mega-city in Africa has had its foundation on this peaceful and harmonious co-existence.”

He promised that his administration would continue to make the people its focus by putting in place policies from which enormous advantages could be drawn for the people’s benefit adding, “The policies and programmes such as the massive infrastructural renewal, Greening and Beautification as well as our investment in security and street lighting which we embarked on in the last six years have created thousands of jobs, both directly and indirectly, for our people.

“From these people-oriented programmes and many others, we have created new economies which were hardly there at the beginning. Night life and night economy, which had hitherto disappeared from our lives have been brought back”, the Governor said pledging that the administration would continue on this trend till the end of its lifespan.”

Wishing all Lagosians a prosperous New Year 2014, Fashola, however, advised, “I will only enjoin you to continue to play your parts as good and law- abiding citizens. Be vigilant and resist all attempts by detractors to distract us from our set goals. Our development plan encompasses the whole State and we will reach all parts    with the quality service which we believe that you deserve.

“In this brand New Year 2014, therefore, please let us continue to work together and pray for both our country and our dear State for peace, stability and let us continue to lead from the front in all that is right and worthy in this country and Continent.”

Source: African Examiner.

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