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Posts tagged ‘Dubai’

Nigeria’s New “MINTed” Hope By Okey Ndibe.


 

Columnist:

Okey Ndibe

During a brief trip to London last week, I was intrigued to realize that part of the news buzz pertained to Nigeria’s inclusion in a list of countries with prospects of becoming four of the world’s biggest emergent economies. The so-called MINT countries are Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. Jim O’Neill, an economist at the international investment firm, Goldman Sachs, popularized the acronym. He earlier coined the term BRICS countries, denoting Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which he rated a few years ago as some of the globe’s emerging economic giants.
On Thursday, Peter Okwoche of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ended a short interview on my new novel, Foreign Gods, Inc., by asking what I thought about Mr. O’Neill’s rosy prediction for Nigeria.

Lacking the time to offer a detailed and nuanced response, I stated that Nigeria is endowed with extremely bright people, that the country is full of energetic and industrious men and women. By contrast, I added, the country has never been lucky in the department of leadership. To sum up, I invoked Chinua Achebe’s dire—but hardly contestable—conclusion that Nigeria has an amazing facility for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Nigeria’s economic policy makers are understandably giddy about Mr. O’Neill’s flattering prognosis. I’d caution the infusion of a high dose of chastening realism into the premature celebration. A sense of history demands nothing less than a sober—and sobering—confrontation of the facts. Achebe was no economist, but the central fact of Nigeria’s journey, as far as economic development is concerned, bears out the late writer’s dim take on his country. In a sense, we could say that Achebe was the sounder economist and Mr. O’Neill, in inflating Nigeria’s odds, the fiction-maker.

This is not the first time Nigeria has been mentioned enthusiastically in prognoses of dramatic economic growth. Again and again, experts, foreign and homebred, had foretold that Nigeria was on the cusp of becoming a stupendous economic miracle. Each new prediction or declaration would trigger its own surge of elation. Nigeria’s policy makers and their sometimes over-pampered partners in the private sector would go into a spree of premature celebration, as if the word potential was interchangeable with reality, as if promise were the equal of performance. Each time, in the end, the outcome was embarrassing. Rather than rise to its potential, Nigeria always somehow found a way to stay stuck in the mud of failure and mediocrity, continuing to romance its worst nightmares.

Nigerians are all-too aware of their country’s missed opportunities. Many years have been lost to wasteful, visionless squander mania. Rampant, unchecked corruption has smothered many a promising grand idea. For many discerning people, Nigeria has become a huge graveyard: a cemetery littered with betrayed dreams, dashed hopes, and asphyxiated aspirations. We’re all too familiar with many dud promissory notes that came with such flamboyant names or phrases as “Green Revolution,” “Consolidating the Gains of SAP,” “Vision 2020-10,” “NEEDS,” “Dividends of Democracy,” and “Transformational Leadership.”

Read Nigerian newspapers or watch any Nigerian television station and you’re bound to realize that there’s zero discussion of the things that matter. It’s all about one empty-headed politician decamping from one political party to another; one squabble or another between two politicians or two political parties; one hireling or another warning that presidential power must stay where it is, or must be transferred to a person from a different geo-ethnic sector, or it’s hell-in-Nigeria; some pastor or imam declaiming that God whispered into his/her ears that Nigerians must fast and pray more (even though most of the populace is already on poverty-enforced fasting). Much of Nigeria’s public discourse is taken up by a tizzy of political rants and faux piety.

Greatness never comes by accident, nor is it imposed by divinity on an unwilling people. A country, like a person, must prepare—be prepared—for greatness. It starts with dreaming greatness, imagining it, contemplating what it must take, and deciding that the venture is worth the risk, that we’re willing to invest the time, intellect and material resources to translate the dreamed into reality.

Do Nigerians dream big? In words, they do, but not in deed. In the 1960s through the 1980s, Nigerian “leaders” used to speak of “this great nation of ours.” But even they have abandoned that species of bad joke! Now, they speak of “moving the nation forward” or “delivering the dividends of democracy.” But the rickety molue they claim to be moving forward is in reverse gear, headed, any moment, for a jagged gorge. Ask any Nigerian official what “dividends” they have delivered and you’re bound to hear such fatuous lines as, “I purchased 100 tractors to mechanize agriculture,” “I don’t owe civil servants any arrears of salaries,” “I bought chalks for all elementary schools in my state,” “I have commissioned 500 water boreholes,” etc, etc.

It’s the 21st century, but very little of the language of those who run (that is, ruin) Nigeria suggests that they are aware of what time it is. They’re conscious of the world, of course, but only in a slavish, opportunistic way. They, their relatives and cronies are at their best when they travel in style to the world’s most dazzling cities: New York, Paris, Dubai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Beijing, etc. Once in these cities, they unleash their rank consumerist impulse, eager to bask in the most garish of each city’s sensual offerings. But it never occurs to them that the goods that make them swoon, the services they lust after are products of other thinking people’s imagination and work.

Meanwhile, back home, the masses are steeped in grim lives, trapped by ignorance and disease. Last week in London, a friend showed me a Youtube video of a brackish lake in Nigeria swarmed by thousands of sick, desperate Nigerians who believe that the stagnant body of water has healing powers. I was incensed by the spectacle, the hysteria of ignorance. Then it dawned on me: this is what can happen—what happens—in a country bereft of any healthcare system.

I’d like to hear Mr. O’Neill stipulate a recipe for Nigeria’s emergence into economic greatness. Nigeria has a high supply of thinkers, of experts in every field, including economic policy. But the hordes of unthinking, grub-obsessed politicians who dominate the political sphere are consistently threatened by expertise.

I don’t know of any country that rose to economic powers via fasting and prayers. And yet that’s the formula most treasured by Nigerian politicians who exhort their victims to fast and pray. Luck can only carry a person or a nation so far. And Nigeria has long exhausted its stock of luck, even if it somehow keeps borrowing some more.

The “N” in Mr. O’Neill’s MINT will become yet another mirage unless Nigerians find a way to reverse the toxic culture that validates corruption and venerates mediocrity.

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe

(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

UAE Sentences American to 1 Year in Jail for Youth Parody Video.


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An American man detained for months in the United Arab Emirates and seven co-defendants were fined and sentenced to jail Monday after being convicted in connection to a satirical video about youth culture in Dubai.

The case, which has drawn the attention of international human rights advocates, centers around a mockumentary uploaded to the Internet.

Officials charged that the film spoofing would-be Dubai “gangstas” ran afoul of a 2012 cybercrimes law that tightened penalties for challenging authorities, according to supporters of one of the filmmakers, Shezanne Cassim.

Cassim, 29, is a U.S. citizen from Woodbury, Minn., who was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Dubai for work after graduating from the University of Minnesota in 2006. He became the public face of the defendants after his family launched an effort to publicize his months-long incarceration following his arrest in April.

He was sentenced Monday to a year in prison followed by deportation and a 10,000 dirham ($2,725) fine, according to family spokeswoman Jennifer Gore.

American consular officials have been following the case closely and attended Monday’s hearing at the State Security Court in the federal capital, Abu Dhabi.

The U.S. Embassy had no official comment following the verdict. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf last week said American officials were troubled by Cassim’s “prolonged incarceration” and called for “a fair and expedient trial and judgment.”

Two Indian defendants received similar sentences, while two Emirati brothers were sentenced to eight months behind bars and received 5,000 dirham fines, according to state-owned newspaper The National. A third brother was pardoned.

The paper said the defendants had been accused of “defaming the UAE society’s image abroad.”

Three other defendants, a Canadian, Briton, and an American, were convicted and sentenced in absentia to the penalties given to their other foreigners. They have never been detained by authorities and so are unlikely to serve their sentences.

The paper identified the defendants only by their initials, which is common in the Emirati media.

Gulf Arab authorities have been cracking down on social media use over the past two years, with dozens of people arrested across the region for Twitter posts deemed offensive to leaders or for social media campaigns urging more political openness.

The video, called “Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs,” is set in the Satwa district of Dubai. It is a documentary style clip that pokes fun at Dubai youth who style themselves “gangstas” but are not particularly thuggish, and shows fictional “combat” training that includes throwing a sandal and using a mobile phone to call for help.

It opens with text saying the video is fictional and is not meant to offend.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

N1.5bn Imo contract scam, EFCC clears impeached deputy gov.


Efcc-boss-imo-dep-gov

After about nine months of investigation, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has cleared the impeached deputy governor of Imo State, Sir Jude Agbaso, of any wrong-doings and involvement in the N1.3 billion contract scam that rocked the state earlier in the year.

Twenty three members of the 27-member Imo State House of Assembly impeached him on March 28, 2013 over his alleged indictment in the contract saga.

Agbaso has been in court challenging the impeachment as well as his alleged indictment in the contract scandal.

He was accused of demanding and receiving a bribe of N458 million from a firm, JPROS International Ltd., which was awarded the said controversial construction contract by the Imo State government.

A letter signed by the commission’s Director of Operations, Olaolu Adegbite, dated November 27, 2013 with reference no CR: 3000/EFCC/ABJ/E.G/T4/VOL.14/252, which has been seen by Nigerian Tribune, showed that the investigation was at the instance of the impeached deputy governor.

It was entitled: “Formal Request for Investigation of Mr Joseph Dina of JPROS International Nigeria Ltd, a Construction Company located at 11, Umezuruike Street, opposite Umezuruike Hospital, Owerri, Imo State.”

The letter addressed to Agbaso read: “We refer to your letter dated 21st March, 2013 on the above subject and hereby provide our findings so far into the case.

“Road contracts for the sum of one and a half billion naira awarded to JPROS International Nig. Ltd was alleged to have engendered fraudulent bribe payments of N458 million by the Managing Director of JPROS, one Joseph Dina to you as the then Deputy Governor and Commissioner for Works.

“In furtherance of the investigation, evidence adduced from interview of key officials of Imo State government and other important witnesses, as well as documents obtained from relevant financial institutions confirmed that the sum of N1.305,000,000.00 was paid to JPROS to execute the Warehouse Orlu Road Junction, Odunze Street, Aba Road and Old Nekede Road projects within Owerri metropolis before mobilisation to the sites.

“The total sum of $5,538,830 USD was found to have been remitted to the personal accounts of Dina in Dubai and Lebanon. There is no single evidence so far that suggested that you benefitted from the funds.

“In his statement to the commission on 28th March, 2013, Dina revealed that he never gave any money to you or any other official of the state government over the contracts, which are yet to be fully executed as at the last visit of our officers in April 2013.

“The commission’s legal department is working on the case file with a view to taking appropriate legal action, please.”

Agbaso was replaced as the state deputy governor by the governor’s Chief of Staff, Mr Eze Madumere.

The state Chief Judge, Justice Benjamin Njemanze, had set up a seven-man probe panel which indicted Agbaso for alleged financial misconduct over the alleged bribery, paving the way for his impeachment.

It was also learnt that the clean bill of health given him by the anti-corruption agency had been communicated to the state lawmakers.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Tinapa, Elephant In Our Room By Enobong Udoh.


By Enobong Udoh

In Nigeria, we are very familiar with the cliché “white elephant” and use it to refer to grandiose government projects which are oftentimes a drainpipe of scare resources that serve no purpose whatsoever to the welfare of the people. Generally, our interpretation of this cliché is same as its universal literal meaning; as a label for a rare item that is no longer useful to its owner. However, many Nigerians are oblivious that real white elephants ever existed.

The tradition of white elephants originally derives from a story about the birth of Buddha in Asia. As the story goes, Buddha’s mother dreamed of a white elephant presenting her with a lotus flower (a symbol of wisdom and purity), on the eve of her giving birth. In ancient Thailand culture, white elephants were used as a symbol of power by royalties, and one white elephant used to be featured on the flag of Siam (1855-1917). So in fact, possession of a white elephant was a sign of great virtue and wealth.

Kings of Thailand often presented white elephants (colossal gift) as a way to impress rivals while simultaneously imposing financial and physical burdens on the gift-receiver. White elephants were so sacred, that they could not be put to work, and as with all elephants, they were very expensive to care for. Hence, English language interprets a “white elephant” as somewhat of a paradox – being a valuable item but not worth its maintenance costs. Even till today, his majesty the King of Thailand still keeps a few white elephants.

This brings me to the crux of my treatise, an event that was widely reported in the news recently. Like other tabloids, Nigeria Business News of October 27, 2013 had a caption “Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State Endorses Privatization of Tinapa”. Surprisingly, to the uninformed, Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) nationalising Tinapa is being confused for privatization. AMCON’s MD/CEO Chike Obi, noted that Tinapa’s asset and debt will first be taken over, made profitable and later privatised. In his words, “The strategy is to find an operator for Tinapa immediately. We will advertise for an operator very soon, inject capital into the facility and allow the operator to run it for some years”.

He continues, “After Tinapa has been made profitable, we will privatise it just like we are doing to the three bridged banks we took over. So it is the same strategy we used for the banks that we are using for Tinapa.” Nevertheless, come to think of it, if the state government could turnaround the fortunes of Tinapa with a private operator, they would have since April 2007 done so with Broll Property Group and Sun Group all of South Africa who were on ground as the facility managers.

Moreover, AMCON shouldn’t be quick to get high on self-delusion, as banks profit making model of borrowing government money at not more than 15% interest rate then turnaround to loan it at 25% prime lending rate and with their round tripping in FOREX, all the cat-in-the-bag tricks which Tinapa cannot afford. Sincerely, I hope to see if the resort will ever be sustainable.

To be candid, diehard skeptics always ask; was Tinapa ever designed to be successful? As some will say the resort looks like a contraption by its promoters to simply CLEAN OUT. But how else can these skepticism be faulted when its economic supporting structure is a façade. Does all the talk about its poor planning and feasibility studies hold water, when the KPMG and Vetiva advisers of this world didn’t hold back their ‘reject decision’ at the initiation stage but all smiled to the bank to get their consultancy fees without looking at the huge burden they were going to put the state as the 3rd most indebted behind Lagos and Bayelsa.

In all, when its promoters go to Dubai don’t they see the Abu Dhabi citizens almost outnumbering the visitors in those malls? Or could it be they simply refused to see beyond their nose? The constant lamentation of Calabar port dredging, the pie in the sky new airport and the pipe dream monorail finally comes to naught.

Furthermore, a deep analysis of the 55 billion Naira project’s opportunity cost to the people and government of Cross River is even more if one factors in the 100 million Naira monthly maintenance cost and its earlier media propaganda that was splashed on satellite TV – true to the nature of a white elephant.

One wonders what AMCON hopes to achieve with the agreement to buy back Tinapa’s debts and futher provide the sum of 26 billion Naira for the revitalization and resuscitation of the Resort. AMCON should tell us if this 26 billion will provide the supporting economic structures or be used to tutor the big cats at Nigeria Customs, that a Free Trade Zone is suppose to be a country inside a country where you don’t make revenue from the importer/sellers but from the buyers going on to show them how to.

Tinapa, Africa’s Dubai in Nigeria recorded many firsts. First prime business/leisure resort, first zero coupon bond issue in Nigeria, Nigeria’s biggest public-private partnership projects ever with 13 banks. At a time the resorts promoters said renowned global supermarket chains, has indicated interest in taking its shopping space. Later on, was the actual confirmation that international labels like Shoprite, Wal-mart, Flamingo and Aspamda have all taken spaces or occupying the emporiums, which meant 10,000 m2 of shop space each at the cost of $75 to $200 per square meter (m2).

So because it costs between $5 and $6 million to rent an emporium, to assist average local retailer especially Cross Riverians the state government claimed to have secured a $3m grant facility to which the state government would add the matching fund of another $3 million to have a $6 million portfolio available for the serious local business persons who want to participate in Tinapa. Back then this was cheerful news, till today no one has stepped foward to tell us how these big local and foriegn shopping outlets missed their Tinapa address or was it a hocus pocus?

Explaining its business model, again there was this talk that the 13 billion Naira directly financed by the state government was not on the company’s balance sheet. The promoters said the money is like a quasi-investment, like a quasi equity as they call it – a soft loan from the government to be payied off over a period of 40 years, after which the state government will finally exit the Tinapa project.

Certainly, that wasn’t all as the Nigerian Stock Exchange was another body that saw the potential of Tinapa as an opportunity to boost market capitalisation and afford investors an opportunity to diversify their portfolio and reap bountiful harvest sliped. It was no surprise to observers, when the promoters were quickly offered an opportunity to list the resort on the Exchange, without allowing it go through the rigorous listing requirements according to reports then.

But don’t weep for Tinapa yet until you hear from its former CEO Sam Anani, “Our plan is to take Tinapa through an IPO and take it to the market early 2008. The justification is that we want Tinapa to trade for almost a year so that people can see revenue streams in order to make the IPO a massive success”. But remember in 2009, when the global financial crash hit the markets, our economic managers had boasted ‘no shaking’, so this couldn’t have deterred Tinapa’s fortunes. To buttress this, by December 2009 Hi Media owners of HiTV even went on to seal a deal with Tinapa Studios. Hi Media’s owner Mr. Subair even boasted, ” Tinapa Studios even makes us ‘Hi er'”. Since the business case is faulty, as we already know all these came to naught and the rest is history.

Though Tinapa is the biggest white elephant gift a state government has given its people in the history of Nigeria, one wonders the likelihood of it not reoccuring in the near future with the type of Houses of Assembly we have that are ever ready to look the other way and do the bidding of their majesty – his excellency.

Tinapa might have achieved the objective of being a beautiful brick and mortar spectacle from the hitherto lush rubber plantation of 250 hectares of rubber trees and sloppy terrain in 2004 but a huge question mark surrounds its sustainability. True lovers of Cross River can only imagine what 55 billion Naira would have yielded even if invested in risk free government assets. Time will tell if AMCON can transform our elephant to a horse.

Enobong Udoh srites from  Calabar

giftsoncaly@yahoo.com

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Tinapa, Elephant In Our Room By Enobong Udoh.


By Enobong Udoh

In Nigeria, we are very familiar with the cliché “white elephant” and use it to refer to grandiose government projects which are oftentimes a drainpipe of scare resources that serve no purpose whatsoever to the welfare of the people. Generally, our interpretation of this cliché is same as its universal literal meaning; as a label for a rare item that is no longer useful to its owner. However, many Nigerians are oblivious that real white elephants ever existed.

The tradition of white elephants originally derives from a story about the birth of Buddha in Asia. As the story goes, Buddha’s mother dreamed of a white elephant presenting her with a lotus flower (a symbol of wisdom and purity), on the eve of her giving birth. In ancient Thailand culture, white elephants were used as a symbol of power by royalties, and one white elephant used to be featured on the flag of Siam (1855-1917). So in fact, possession of a white elephant was a sign of great virtue and wealth.

Kings of Thailand often presented white elephants (colossal gift) as a way to impress rivals while simultaneously imposing financial and physical burdens on the gift-receiver. White elephants were so sacred, that they could not be put to work, and as with all elephants, they were very expensive to care for. Hence, English language interprets a “white elephant” as somewhat of a paradox – being a valuable item but not worth its maintenance costs. Even till today, his majesty the King of Thailand still keeps a few white elephants.

This brings me to the crux of my treatise, an event that was widely reported in the news recently. Like other tabloids, Nigeria Business News of October 27, 2013 had a caption “Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State Endorses Privatization of Tinapa”. Surprisingly, to the uninformed, Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) nationalising Tinapa is being confused for privatization. AMCON’s MD/CEO Chike Obi, noted that Tinapa’s asset and debt will first be taken over, made profitable and later privatised. In his words, “The strategy is to find an operator for Tinapa immediately. We will advertise for an operator very soon, inject capital into the facility and allow the operator to run it for some years”.

He continues, “After Tinapa has been made profitable, we will privatise it just like we are doing to the three bridged banks we took over. So it is the same strategy we used for the banks that we are using for Tinapa.” Nevertheless, come to think of it, if the state government could turnaround the fortunes of Tinapa with a private operator, they would have since April 2007 done so with Broll Property Group and Sun Group all of South Africa who were on ground as the facility managers.

Moreover, AMCON shouldn’t be quick to get high on self-delusion, as banks profit making model of borrowing government money at not more than 15% interest rate then turnaround to loan it at 25% prime lending rate and with their round tripping in FOREX, all the cat-in-the-bag tricks which Tinapa cannot afford. Sincerely, I hope to see if the resort will ever be sustainable.

To be candid, diehard skeptics always ask; was Tinapa ever designed to be successful? As some will say the resort looks like a contraption by its promoters to simply CLEAN OUT. But how else can these skepticism be faulted when its economic supporting structure is a façade. Does all the talk about its poor planning and feasibility studies hold water, when the KPMG and Vetiva advisers of this world didn’t hold back their ‘reject decision’ at the initiation stage but all smiled to the bank to get their consultancy fees without looking at the huge burden they were going to put the state as the 3rd most indebted behind Lagos and Bayelsa.

In all, when its promoters go to Dubai don’t they see the Abu Dhabi citizens almost outnumbering the visitors in those malls? Or could it be they simply refused to see beyond their nose? The constant lamentation of Calabar port dredging, the pie in the sky new airport and the pipe dream monorail finally comes to naught.

Furthermore, a deep analysis of the 55 billion Naira project’s opportunity cost to the people and government of Cross River is even more if one factors in the 100 million Naira monthly maintenance cost and its earlier media propaganda that was splashed on satellite TV – true to the nature of a white elephant.

One wonders what AMCON hopes to achieve with the agreement to buy back Tinapa’s debts and futher provide the sum of 26 billion Naira for the revitalization and resuscitation of the Resort. AMCON should tell us if this 26 billion will provide the supporting economic structures or be used to tutor the big cats at Nigeria Customs, that a Free Trade Zone is suppose to be a country inside a country where you don’t make revenue from the importer/sellers but from the buyers going on to show them how to.

Tinapa, Africa’s Dubai in Nigeria recorded many firsts. First prime business/leisure resort, first zero coupon bond issue in Nigeria, Nigeria’s biggest public-private partnership projects ever with 13 banks. At a time the resorts promoters said renowned global supermarket chains, has indicated interest in taking its shopping space. Later on, was the actual confirmation that international labels like Shoprite, Wal-mart, Flamingo and Aspamda have all taken spaces or occupying the emporiums, which meant 10,000 m2 of shop space each at the cost of $75 to $200 per square meter (m2).

So because it costs between $5 and $6 million to rent an emporium, to assist average local retailer especially Cross Riverians the state government claimed to have secured a $3m grant facility to which the state government would add the matching fund of another $3 million to have a $6 million portfolio available for the serious local business persons who want to participate in Tinapa. Back then this was cheerful news, till today no one has stepped foward to tell us how these big local and foriegn shopping outlets missed their Tinapa address or was it a hocus pocus?

Explaining its business model, again there was this talk that the 13 billion Naira directly financed by the state government was not on the company’s balance sheet. The promoters said the money is like a quasi-investment, like a quasi equity as they call it – a soft loan from the government to be payied off over a period of 40 years, after which the state government will finally exit the Tinapa project.

Certainly, that wasn’t all as the Nigerian Stock Exchange was another body that saw the potential of Tinapa as an opportunity to boost market capitalisation and afford investors an opportunity to diversify their portfolio and reap bountiful harvest sliped. It was no surprise to observers, when the promoters were quickly offered an opportunity to list the resort on the Exchange, without allowing it go through the rigorous listing requirements according to reports then.

But don’t weep for Tinapa yet until you hear from its former CEO Sam Anani, “Our plan is to take Tinapa through an IPO and take it to the market early 2008. The justification is that we want Tinapa to trade for almost a year so that people can see revenue streams in order to make the IPO a massive success”. But remember in 2009, when the global financial crash hit the markets, our economic managers had boasted ‘no shaking’, so this couldn’t have deterred Tinapa’s fortunes. To buttress this, by December 2009 Hi Media owners of HiTV even went on to seal a deal with Tinapa Studios. Hi Media’s owner Mr. Subair even boasted, ” Tinapa Studios even makes us ‘Hi er'”. Since the business case is faulty, as we already know all these came to naught and the rest is history.

Though Tinapa is the biggest white elephant gift a state government has given its people in the history of Nigeria, one wonders the likelihood of it not reoccuring in the near future with the type of Houses of Assembly we have that are ever ready to look the other way and do the bidding of their majesty – his excellency.

Tinapa might have achieved the objective of being a beautiful brick and mortar spectacle from the hitherto lush rubber plantation of 250 hectares of rubber trees and sloppy terrain in 2004 but a huge question mark surrounds its sustainability. True lovers of Cross River can only imagine what 55 billion Naira would have yielded even if invested in risk free government assets. Time will tell if AMCON can transform our elephant to a horse.

Enobong Udoh srites from  Calabar

giftsoncaly@yahoo.com

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

American Man Jailed in Abu Dhabi for Making Funny YouTube.


A Minnesota man is in prison in Abu Dhabi for making a video mocking young people who live in Dubai, and his family is working to try to get him out.

Shezanne Cassim, 29, and four others who appear in the video he uploaded to YouTube in October 2012, were put in prison in April for violating cybercrimes law and for posing a national security threat, the United Arab Emirates say, CBS Minnesota reported.

Cassim has been living and working in Dubai for seven years as a business consultant.

He and his friends made a spoof showing young men in Dubai going to a fake camp where they learn how to strike people with belts and throw shoes.

The video was a parody of “a certain cultural stereotype about the youth in Dubai,” Cassim’s brother explained. “It’s just teenagers living in a suburb called Satwa who try to act like they are tough guys, even though they are suburban teenagers. And it’s like making fun of hipsters in Brooklyn.”

Cassim’s family members have all visited him at the maximum security prison in Abu Dhabi where he was transferred to in June, and they say no date has been given as to when he will get out. He has been denied bail three times by a judge and no ruling or a sentencing date has been issued.

“Part of the frustration is that he is essentially in there indefinitely, with no end in sight,” said Shervon Cassim, brother of the detained man. “He doesn’t understand what they think he’s done wrong.”

Some of Minnesota’s congressional delegates have tried to help, but have yet to make any headway.

Video from CBS Minnesota:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Courtney Coren

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