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Posts tagged ‘Kogi State’

Northern govs meet over oil exploration.


Northern-Elders-Forum

Thirteen northern governors, whose states falls under the regions’ sedimentary basin are set to meet today on how to kick start oil and gas exploration activities in the Inland Basin States.

Niger State governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, who is also the chairman of the Northern State Governors Forum, NSGF, will declare the meeting of the Association of Petroleum Inland Basin States of Northern Nigeria, APIBONN, open, according to a press statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Danladi Ndayebo.

The statement said Governor Aliyu in his capacity as the chairman of the forum has invited his counterparts whose states fall within the region’s sedimentary basin to direct their relevant commissioners to attend a meeting of the association in Minna, the Niger State capital.

 

The meeting, according to the statement, would enable them brainstorm on the modalities and action plan that would kick start and sustain oil and gas exploration activities in the north.

The forum said; “The meeting will fashion out strategies to harness the resources in Sokoto Basin, Chad Basin, Bida basin and Benue Trough, whose hydrocarbon contents are yet to be properly developed and estimated.”

The forum expressed support for the ongoing efforts by the Federal Government to explore oil in the sedimentary basin of northern Nigeria.

The Inland Basin States comprise of Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Gombe, Kogi, Kebbi, Niger and Sokoto States. Others are Zamfara, Kwara, Nasarawa, Taraba, Yobe and Plateau States.
by PRISCILLA DENNIS

Source: Radio Biafra.

Slouching Into 2014, The Eve Of Nigeria’s Destruction! By Ogaga Ifowodo.


 

Columnist:

Ogaga Ifowodo

From the same poem that gave Chinua Achebe the title of the work that immortalised him, Things Fall Apart, comes this more foreboding sentence: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” The end of a year is traditionally a period of reflection and projection.  We look back in hindsight at the errors and failings of the dying year and promise to do better; to banish all missteps from the coming year. Like the proverbial Owl of Athena/Minerva of Greek mythology, we are supremely wise only in retrospect—by the pitiless backward glance.  As I participate in this ritual—after all, the capacity for retrospection and to learn from experience, is probably what best distinguishes humans from animals—my mind, unbidden, fixates on W.B. Yeats’s great poem, “The Second Coming.”

The first section of the poem, laden as it is with troubling images of a world unable to contain anymore the chaos and catastrophe laid unblinkingly bare by the hitherto unprecedented barbarism and carnage of World War I, also gives us those powerful statements borne of the most acute observation: “The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned; / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” I don’t know, but maybe the sanctimonious carrying-on of former military dictator and (s)elected president General Olusegun Obasanjo, and the rather tepid response by President Goodluck Jonathan (why did he trouble himself?) has something to do with my mind’s unilateral musing on this poem. I make no judgement as to who might even qualify for “the best” among the tiresome writers of epistles supposedly driven to passionate intensity by nothing but patriotism and probity.

But perhaps it is the image of a blood-dimmed tide that unconsciously led me to brooding on this poem, and after a while, inevitably on Christopher Okigbo’s equally memorable verses of despair, “Come Thunder”— in his case, a prediction of the Nigerian Civil War that would claim his life at the tender age of 35—but more on this presently. Still mourning the murder of my friend and mentor, Professor Festus Iyayi—and now that we have photo evidence that he was shot straight through the heart at close range, showing that the automobile accident was merely a cover for a high-tech assassination, we must insist on a judicial inquest and charges of murder and conspiracy to murder soon after by the Kogi State Attorney-General—I dwelled on that image of a beast, half man and half lion, slouching towards Bethlehem (Nigeria? since we surely have surpassed Bethlehem in holiness?) to be born.

Only Yeats, who dabbled in the occult, consulted Ouija boards, and had devised a personal spiritual vision of the world symbolised by two intervolving spirals or gyres whose outward and inward spinning represented the unending tension between order and anarchy, might have explained with any clarity what his poem is really about. Yet the tension produced by its lapidary diction and the puzzling obscurantism of its private spiritualism makes the poem plainly unforgettable. Proof is that it is one of the most anthologised poems of all times in the English language. And the more I recalled each image, the closer to Nigeria’s “blood-dimmed tide” I found it to be; not less that phrase “somewhere in sands of the desert,” an image sustained by later mention of “indignant desert birds.” Could it be because the unending bloodbath in the north-east of Nigeria creates bright red trails to the Sahara, where beasts of human head and human body roam menacingly?

Okigbo, who may be indebted to Yeats, given what I now see as the structural similarity of “Come Thunder” to “A Second Coming”—both poems start with gripping images of the chaotic present and move on to prophecy, all in very clear diction, ending with lines that defy easy explication (in Okigbo’s case, “A nebula immense and immeasurable, a night of deep waters” and “the secret thing in its heaving / Threatens with iron mask / The last lighted torch of the century,” for instance), not to mention the private spiritualism of both poets (Okigbo’s less intricate or pronounced)—spoke of “The smell of blood already float[ing] in the lavender-mist of the afternoon” and of “The death sentence [lying] in ambush along the corridors of power.” Somewhere in those corridors, I insist, someone pronounced a death sentence for the assassination of Iyayi, and the direct involvement of a driver in the convoy of the Kogi State governor leaves a lot, an awful lot, to be explained!

Well, it is 2014, the eve of the year Nigeria falls apart, according to America’s intelligence experts and war gamers. Clearly, the falcon (our so-called leaders) can no longer hear the falconer (the people). I do not believe that doomsday prophecy, the US government’s disclaimers notwithstanding. It seems to me that Nigeria has perfected the art of recoiling from absolute self-annihilation when it stares down into the abyss from its precarious perch on the edge of the cliff. And with President Jonathan’s national conference/dialogue, as deliberately ambiguous as it is, we have the rope, the lifeline, to pull us away from the fatal plunge. I will, therefore, raise a toast to 2014!

omoliho@gmail.com

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

A Recent History Of Your Sagamu-Benin Road By Sonala Olumhense.


Columnist:

Sonala Olumhense

If you are a Nigerian, chances are you know someone who has spent an entire day, at least once, traveling the 140-mile SagamuBenin City road, or been killed trying to do so.

Sagamu-Benin, sometimes referred to herein as “The Road,” is the only direct link between the eastern and western parts of Nigeria, and between her political and economic capitals, Abuja and Lagos.

It is a thirsty road, guzzling the blood of innocent Nigerians.  In one accident, a friend of mine was able to find only her brother’s head, but no other part of him.  In a well-publicized crash a few years ago, a vehicle ran over tens of people who had been forced to lie on The Road by armed robbers while being robbed.

It is also a hungry road: almost every week, vast sums of money are “spent” on it by federal authorities who pretend not to know that federal authorities are “spending” vast sums of money on it.

On 23 September 2003, the Minister of Works, Adeseye Ogunlewe, announced that the government was losing an estimated N185 billion annually to bad roads, and had awarded 156 road contracts since 1999 at a cost of N302 billion, and describing the situation as “shameful.”

At different times, desperate governments of Ondo and Ogun States have intervened to rehabilitate damaged portions of The Road in their areas, only to come under the attack of federal officials.

Sagamu-Benin is part of the Lagos-Mombasa, as well as Algiers-Lagos sections of theTrans-Africa Highway, and of Nigeria’s East-West Road.   It is probably Nigeria’s most vital road.  That is why it is in many ways a good way to study and analyze Nigeria.

In the 1970s when it was built by Dumez, travelers needed only a comfortable three hours between Benin City and Lagos.  But that joy of easy travel lasted only a few years.  Collapsing sections yielded the phenomenon of full-time, year-round budgeting for endless repair.  Traveling back, in terms of hot air and hot funds, here is some of what we know:

On January 21, 2013, Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, told a visiting Kogi State delegation led by Senator Smart Adeyemi that The Road, along with three others, would be completed before the end of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, using funds of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).

In April 2013, SURE-P was said to have invested N16.5 billion on The Road.  Vanguard newspaper said the agency had (also) budgeted N21.7 billion to cover the dualisation of the East-West road.

In December 2012 , Gabriel Amuchi, the Managing Director of FERMA, said that the “zero potholes” target set for the festive period on critical Federal Highways, naming one of them as the Sagamu-Benin Road.

In October 2012, Solel Boneh won a three-year $390 million contract to widen and pave the Sagamu-Benin road, and rebuild drainage and water channels.

In September 2012, the government awarded a three-year contract for the reconstruction of sections of The Road, worth over N65b.

In September 2011, during a courtesy visit to Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Minister Mike Onolememen explained that the real problem with the Benin-Ore part of The Road was the water table being very high, and that every construction methodology had been defeated because in the raining season the road would be washed away.   The governor expressed shock that neither contractors nor the Minister’s predecessors had identified and corrected this issue. The N16 billion reconstruction/asphalt overlay of the Benin-Ofosu section, by RCC, continued.

In August 2011, the Federal Government approved an additional funding of N106 billion for the East-West Road, to bring the total sum to N245 billion, up from N138 billion, Minister of Information Maku citing a failed portion of the Sagamu-Benin Road.

In July 2011, Mr. Onolememen announced that Nigeria had decided to concession the Sagamu-Benin Road to capable private investors, using a Public-Private Partnership model.

In December 2010, the House of Representatives Sub-Committee on FERMA asked the government to inject over N500billion as an intervention fund to rescue the country’s roads from collapse, adding that FERMA needed about N100billion annually.

In November 2009, the Federal Government awarded contracts worth N12. 2 billion to RCC and Borini Prono for repairs on the road.

In October 2009, President UmaruYar’Adua directed that unspent allocations to the Ministry of Works, be channeled into road rehabilitation and construction.

In September 2009, Minister Dora Akunyili announced government contracts worth N29.5billion, including an additional N16.67 billion for the reconstruction of The Road, raising the cost of reconstruction to N24.27billion.

In May 2009, N9.7 billion contract for rehabilitation of the Ofosu-Ore portion of The Road was awarded.

In April 2009, the government approved N376.4 billion for 30 road contracts nationwide, including two sections of Sagamu-Benin, part of 26 road projects worth N116.57 billion.

In August 2007, the new Minister of Transportation, Diezani Allison-Madueke, reportedly broke down when she visited and saw the deplorable condition of The Road. Soon after that, she disclosed that the Obasanjo government had spent over N450 billion on roads in its eight years.

About two weeks after her crying act on The Road, something of a reconstruction began.  A top Ministry official, John Ibe, told reporters the first phase of the contract, for N7.5 billion, had been awarded.

In Feb 2007, Solel Boneh International received a $52 million contract for renovating the “Lagos-Benin” expressway.

At the end of 2006, Solel Boneh won a contract to pave a road in Nigeria for $270 million; that road was unspecified.

On 21 December 2006, the government gave RCC a N7.5 billion contract for rehabilitation work on The Road.

In November 2006, President Obasanjo stated that N36 billion had been made available for the construction of the East-West Road, among others.

On October 16, 2006, Olubunmi Peters, the Managing Director of FERMA, announced the government had approved N6 billion for repairs on The Road.

In July 2006, the government said N438.8billion had been made available for three major highways, including the East-West.

In November 2005, the Senate, citing “the deteriorating state of our federal highways and the increase in the spate of road accidents,” specifically on the Lagos-Ibadan and Sagamu-Benin highways, asked its Committee on Works to investigate FERMA and the Ministry of Works.

“The Minister of Works ought to be invited because we can’t explain where all this money is going,” Senator Victor Oyofo said.  “The Benin-Ore road is [the] worst.”

In March 2004, Adeseye Ogunlewe, the new Minister, said the government had approved N15 billion for road maintenance.

In February 2004 , the government announced “Operation 500 Roads,” to rehabilitate a total of 26,400km of roads, including Benin-Sagamu; and in October, “Operation 1000 Roads” and 32,000 kilometres, at a cost of N5.8 billion.

Following a November 2002 request by the Ministry for a virement of N10 billion to enable it make payment for contracts already executed, the House of Representatives agreed to probe how N300 billion disbursed to the Ministry in three years was spent.  In a resolution, the House noted that in the 2002 Appropriation Act alone, the National Assembly made monthly appropriations of over N70 billion to the Ministry.

In September 2000, Minister Anenih said that the Federal Government had set aside N19 billion for the rehabilitation of roads in the South-West.

On 21 August, Information and National Orientation minister Jerry Gana announced a N1.7 billion contract for emergency repairs of the Sagamu-Benin Road to Piccolo-Brunelli Engineering Ltd.

In May 2002, the Ministry announced that the government had already spent over N42 billion nationwide on completed road projects.

In May 2000, at the end of the first year of the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency, the government announced that it had up till that point awarded contracts for 45 road and bridge projects valued at N65 billion.  I presume that somewhere in there was Sagamu-Benin.

There, in shorthand, is partly where Nigeria has been.

Happy New Year, Nigeria!

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

PHOTONEWS: Activists In Lagos Protest Over The Death.Murder Of Professor Iyayi.


Civil society activists of the the Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) marched on Kogi State liaison office in Lagos to protest over the death of Professor Festus Iyayi caused by convoy of the state Governor, Idris Wada.

The protesters said the protest was necessary because Professor Iyayi was a member and former leader of the CDHR. CDHR blamed Kogi State Governor, Mr. Idris Wada for the death of Festus Iyayi. The members also insisted Federal Government murdered Iyayi through it Kogi State governor.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Festus Iyayi: Assassination Or Accident? -The News Africa.


By Folarin Ademosu

The nature of two holes on the late Professor Festus Iyayi’s body gives life to suspicions by his colleagues that he may have been shot.

Along with grief, anger will be the dominant emotion when Professor Festus Iyayi is buried this week in his hometown, Ugbegun in Edo State. The two feelings have mixed, predictably with unsavoury outcomes, since the former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, died on 12 November in an auto accident on the Lokoja-Abuja Expressway.

Iyayi was travelling to Kano in the company of three other ASUU members for a meeting on the ongoing strike by members of the union when a police escort van in the convoy of the Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State rammed into the bus the university teachers were travelling. Iyayi died instantly, while three his colleagues were seriously injured.

Wada, who was severely injured in an accident involving his convoy last year, was widely criticised by ASUU and the wider public for his failure to learn from his own experience and for allegedly failing to stop to assist the victims.

CLICK HERE TO SEE Iyayi’s chest showing a big hole -VIEWERS DISCRETION ADVISED

The escort vehicle was said to have veered off from its lane to hit the bus bearing the ASUU members, a claim the Kogi State government denied.

The Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, called for an official inquiry into Iyayi’s death and urged the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, to curb the recklessness of official convoys.

The FRSC also got a slice of the criticisms, following an accusation that it was shielding the driver of the vehicle that smashed into the bus conveying Iyayi and his colleagues.
One week after, ASUU dismissed the view that Iyayi’s death was accidental and forcefully contested the official claim that his heart was pierced by a strange object at the accident scene. The association pointedly blamed the death on the government and “its agents”. In a statement issued by the University of Benin chapter of the union, ASUU said Iyayi  did not die in an accident, but  was “wilfully” murdered. The union said it will demand concrete answers from the government for the alleged murder. It demanded that an autopsy be performed on Iyayi’s corpse and warned government officials to stay away from the burial.

“His burial should not be an avenue for government officials to score cheap political points, as we will resist any state involvement in the burial,” the union raved. Civil society groups in Edo State also demanded an inquiry into Iyayi’s death.

Was Iyayi murdered? ASUU believes it has what constitutes prima facie evidence to support its suspicion. Members of the union point to two holes, one in the chest and another in the back, as offering a less than complicated indication that Iyayi was shot. Photographs of Iyayi’s corpse obtained by this magazine, show holes that look like entry and exit bullet holes.

The Joint Action Front, JAF, a coalition of labour organisations, accused the government of masterminding Iyayi’s murder. A statement signed by its president, Comrade Abiodun Aremu, said the circumstances of Iyayi’s death are questionable.
The group believes that Iyayi was allegedly murdered to destabilise ASUU.
“We strongly believe that the assassination of Comrade Iyayi was carried out by expert shooters in the cover of the Nigerian intelligence, reminiscent of the state murder of Dele Giwa in 1986 and Kudirat Abiola in 1996,” the statement said.

Another on his back
JAF also alleged that the statement of Dr. Paul Amodu of the Specialist Hospital in Lokoja, where Iyayi was rushed to, did not adequately explain the piercing of Iyayi’s heart by a strange object.

Dr. Sylvester Akhaine, a Political Science lecturer at the University of Lagos, is similarly persuaded. Akhaine alleged that the accident was invented as a cover for the murder because ASUU’s struggles have made the government hot under the collar. He argued that there was nothing at the accident scene that could have drilled holes in Iyayi’s body. When told the coroner’s inquest did not support his claims, Akhaine retorted: “The coroner’s report is not the result of an autopsy. Until an autopsy is done, you cannot say anything to the contrary.”

Writing in THE NATION, Dr. Ropo Sekoni, a retired teacher of Comparative Literature, branded as incompetent Amodu’s claim that the piercing of Iyayi’s heart must have been responsible for his death. “What is this medical talk designed to achieve, a science-driven identification of etiology of death? Did Dr. Amodu’s observations derive from the result of a post-mortem examination?” Shekoni asked.

Dr. Ngozi Ilo and Dr. Sunny Iyalo, ASUU National Welfare Officer and  Zonal Coordinator respectively, who travelled with the deceased, also disputed the claim that a metal object at the scene of the accident was responsible for the holes on Iyayi’s body.

But how closely do the holes on Iyayi’s body resemble those made by bullets, especially given that the one on the chest looks big? A retired army colonel told TheNEWS that the holes have a high degree of consistency with those made by bullets. “There is a 70 per cent probability that the man was murdered and 30 per cent that it was an accident,” he said. If it was an accident, he argued, the impact would have caused a squeeze, not neatly drilled holes. He explained that a close-range shot from a pistol would cause the bullet to enter an object, as it allegedly did Iyayi, and exit through the back. “The big hole in the chest shows that it was a pistol. This is because the wound a pistol creates is bigger at the entrance and smaller at the exit. But if it was a Kalashnikov (AK47), it would be smaller at the entrance and bigger at the exit,” he further explained. The retired officer added that AK47 bullets gather momentum as they hit target, unlike pistol bullets, which create bigger impact at the point of entry.

“There is the possibility of shooting in the confusion of the accident or that the accident could have been contrived to cover up shots,”  the retired colonel told this magazine.

But did any of the survivors hear a shot before or after the crash? Not exactly, but they are not ruling out the possibility that a gun may have gone off on account of the impact created by the collision. This is because in all likelihood, the vehicle responsible for the accident had heavily armed passengers. “I heard the two vehicles collide. But given that it was a police vehicle, it is possible that, as we usually notice, cops in the escort vehicles of governors are always armed. So, anything could have happened on impact,” reasoned Anthony Monye-Emima, Chairman, University of Benin ASUU branch. If that was what happened, could Iyayi’s death be described as anything but accidental? Obviously not.

Lawyer and former university teacher, Professor Itse Sagay, urged caution. Sagay, who was sacked alongside Iyayi from the University of Benin by the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida in 1987, said: “Nobody can pinpoint exactly what was responsible for the injury (the hole in the chest), which I believe killed him. There was no piece of iron or sharp-edged object found that could have done it. I believe the only solution to the problem is to have a very thorough autopsy to determine the cause of death and from there, one can then begin to build on what possibly could be responsible for his death.”
Sagay added that since there is no doubt that Iyayi’s death was caused by somebody in Governor Wada’s convoy, a case of murder or at the minimum, manslaughter, could be established.

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, ascribed Iyayi’s death to criminal negligence and executive recklessness. Abdulwaheed Omar, NLC President, said the organisation will petition the National Human Rights Commission should the federal and Kogi State governments refuse to take responsibility for Iyayi’s death.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Protracted Strike: JAF Ready To Join Forces with ASUU over Reckless ‘Sack’ Comment by Education Minister, Wike.


 

Comrade Abiodun Aremu addressing the press
By SaharaReporters, New York

The Joint Action Front [JAF] has indicated its willingness to join forces with striking university lecturers over the government’s unwillingness to honor the agreement it reached with their union.

In a statement today, JAF condemned the resort to threat by the Minister of Education to the lecturers in place of honouring the agreements between them.

The statement, signed by secretary of the front, Comrade Abiodun Aremu, stated that the threat employed by Government has only confirmed the fear of the university teachers that the Federal Government may not honor the agreements if it is not made to sign an MOU.

JAF also condemned choice of December 4 by the Education Minister as the deadline for the lecturers to return to classrooms even though the agreements reached with the lecturers have not been met.  The movement noted that the date was the same as the one elected for the commencement of the burial rites for Late Professor Festus Iyayi.  The professor was killed in a fatal crash involving the convoy of Kogi State Governor, Idris Wada, while on his own way to a NEC meeting to find solutions to the university education crisis.

JAF placed on record that the struggle to Save Public Education by ASUU and its members will outlive the Jonathan Presidency and the “class of exploiters in Nigeria”.

 

Why Is Nigeria’s Education Minister Wike Still In Office When The Entire Education Sector Is On Strike? -Dr. Ogbinaka.


Chairman of Academic Staff Union of Universities [ASUU], University of Lagos Chapter, Dr. Karo Oginaka has said it is disturbing to still have the current  Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike retained in government when the entire education sector in Nigeria in crisis, with the minister unable to resolve any.

He also said the directive and deadline given by the minister for Nigerian university teachers to go back to work was nothing of a threat to the lecturers.

Ogbinaka stated that government’s resorting to threat rather than implementing of their agreements further confirmed the lack of sincerity to fulfill it’s side of the obligation to resolved the lingering ASUU strike.

In this interview, Ogbinaka also said Nyesom Wike’s deadline date of December 4th for compulsory re-opening of universities is curious as it   coincides with date chosen for the burial of Dr. Festus Iyayi, who was killed in a auto accident caused by the convoy of the Kogi State governor,  Captain Idris Wada.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Who Killed Iyayi? Who Owns Nigeria’s Roads? By Ogaga Ifowodo.


Columnist:

Ogaga Ifowodo

If you were looking for further proof that Nigerians are yet to attain the status of citizen, then look no further than the murder of Professor Festus Iyayi on 12 November 2013 by a driver to the convoy-death-and-injury-happy governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada. And now you should ask: Who killed Iyayi? The obvious answer is a yet unnamed driver under the influence of “power-drug,” the narcotic on which Nigeria’s ruling class and those in its circle are permanently stoned. But you would be wrong to hold the driver solely responsible for Iyayi’s murder.

The other culprit is Governor Wada who despite a previous convoy accident that claimed the life of his aide-de-camp had done nothing to prevent another needless death. Also in the dock is the federal government for fomenting the circumstance that put Iyayi and his injured colleagues on the road at the haunted hour of Governor Wada’s lethal convoy. By neglecting its duty to education, by signing one agreement after another with the Academic Staff Union of Universities for the rehabilitation of our dilapidated universities only to back out of its obligations the next day, the federal government created a needless crisis.

But Iyayi was slaughtered on a public highway, so you should also ask: Who owns Nigeria’s roads? The answer by our convoy-loving men and women of power is that they, and not all of us, own the roads. So they recruit and train drivers and policemen to drive us out of THEIR roads with whips and gun-butts. And where we do not get out fast enough, they smash our vehicles with intent to maim or kill so that we may never again dare to use THEIR roads, for they are never to be impeded when hurrying off to one more urgent business of dispossessing us. You may think these to be the grief-soaked words of one mourning the avoidable death of a friend and mentor, a pillar of integrity and courage. But I say “with intent to maim or kill” advisedly, as a person must be deemed to intend the natural consequences of his or her action. The salient fact of the fatal “accident” — that the driver swerved recklessly out of his lane in a bid to overtake all other vehicles and take a position at or near the head of the convoy — fixes him with the presumption of knowledge of probable death or grievous bodily harm resulting from his action.

In 1985 when I entered the University of Benin intending to study law but nursing a burning desire to be a writer, I looked up to Iyayi more as the author of three exemplary novels that told the stories of the poor and powerless in which the depravity of the powerful was in full exhibition than as a teacher of business methods. It wasn’t long before I sought him out, eager to show him some of the half-formed poems I had written; in particular, the one that had just won me a consolation prize in a national anti-apartheid poetry contest and that would bring me to Lagos for the first time. That was when I witnessed the charming humility that endeared him to all, except the sworn enemies of the people. “So you are a poet?” he had said, with a slanted smile. “I’m a novelist. Perhaps you will teach me to understand poetry!” Many years later, as I grappled with a poem for his 60th birthday, the lesson of that first encounter became clear to me: he had sought to put the nervous aspiring writer at ease the better to remove any obstacle to full communion.  Iyayi loathed nothing more than the artificial boundaries created by power and privilege.

But the riveting idealism of his social vision, I would learn, was matched by an earthy philosophy. When finally I overcame my doubts and showed him the first decent draft of my poem, he once again put me at ease. I had hesitated out of the fear that its rather pessimistic ending disdained his struggle and sacrifice. As I watched him face with equanimity his dismissal and eviction from the University of Benin, the many subsequent acts of official malice aimed at breaking him, the snail pace of his case of wrongful dismissal all the way to the Supreme Court, then his return to teaching on being vindicated, the respect and admiration spawned in my mind by that first meeting rose to the point where I might get up and leave the room if anyone spoke ill of him.

This was the man murdered by a power-drugged driver on a public highway. We have reached the dangerous point where powerful public officials and their minions believe that the people are their slaves, not citizens with inalienable rights to whom they are accountable. They own Nigeria and we live in it at their pleasure. It is time we reclaimed our roads, symbols of our shared heritage, of our collective existence as a nation. Time to reassert our citizenship rights, starting with the prosecution of the reckless driver. Iyayi’s widowed wife and half-orphaned children must seek, through civil action, punitive and exemplary damages against the Kogi state government. And we must demand an immediate end to official convoys; or, at the very least, their strict subjection to traffic regulations.

omoliho@gmail.com

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Plans by ex-Biafran soldiers to stage protest uncalled for Pensions board.


Ex-Biafran-soldiers

AUTHORITIES of the Military Pensions Board in Abuja have described plans by some ex-Biafran soldiers to storm Abuja and protest the non-payment of the benefits as uncalled for, noting that if they are genuine ex-soldiers, they should seek the necessary clearance and come for payment.

Chairman of the board, Commodore D.S Audu, who spoke with Nigerian Tribune on the issue, said so far, over 330 ex-Biafran soldiers and Air Force personnel had been cleared to enjoy the presidential pardon.

According to him, out of the number, the board initiated the publication of the beneficiaries in the national dailies, with instructions on how to go about collecting their benefits, to which they had responded without any hiccup.

“So, for any so called ex-Biafran soldier to come forward and claim that he is being owed benefits and he wants to embark on violent protest, that shows the person or persons are either fake or not genuine.

“We have the names and records of those that are genuine. Let those complaining come forward to prove their genuineness, then we will sort their matter out,” he said.

While explaining the procedures, the Director of Army Pensions, Colonel A. Akerele, noted that once the ex-soldiers showed up, their names would be sent to the Directorate of Army Records for verification and to see if they were gazetted.

He said from Lokoja, Kogi State, the names would be forwarded to the Central Pay Office, Apapa and after clearance, the names would be sent to the board for commencement of payment.

“As I am talking to you now, for the Army, we have a list of 226 ex-Biafran soldiers that are qualified and gazetted and out of this number, about 110 have come forward for clearance.

“They have had their details taken into our biometric system, after which they got their money. So, if the ones complaining are sure that they are not fake, let them come and prove it,” he said.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Two arrested in UK over £20m Abacha loot.


 

Abacha

The last is yet to be heard about looted funds traced to ex- Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, as £20m(N5.12billion) laundered through some lawyers in Britain is being probed.

Two suspects, including a former Attorney-General of Kogi State, have been arrested in London in connection with the loot

The two suspects, who were trying to convert a 1994 CBN Traveller’s Cheque worth £2,000 at Travelex are undergoing interrogation in London.

Upon a search in the suspects’ hotel in London, it was gathered, about £78,000 traveller’s cheque was found on them.

There were indications that the UK Police may invoke the Mutual Legal Assistance to seek the extradition of Mohammed Sanni, who is allegedly linked to the probe.

A source said: “The arrest of two Nigerian suspects (including a former Attorney-General of Kogi State) has triggered the latest round of investigation.

 

“With the £20million loot in their care, they decided to test the waters with £80,000. So, the two suspects took £2,000 Traveller’s Cheque purchased by the CBN in 1994 to Travelex to get some cash but the desk officers were suspicious because of the time frame.

“The attendants alerted security agencies who arrested the suspects and later searched their hotel rooms where additional £78,000 worth of traveler’s cheque was found.

“The security agencies are working on the suspicion that the suspects were on a laundering mission in the UK as part of moves to repatriate the alleged £20million stashed by the late Head of State.”

The Press Bureau of the Metropolitan Police last night said: “We have contacted officers to get any details of this incident. We will reply in due course as and when we have them.”

The Abachas were alleged to have laundered about $3billion cash.

The Federal Government has so far recovered more than $2.550billion.

The government is trying to trace the whereabouts of $450million hidden in many countries.

A Federal Government counsel on repatriation of Abacha loot, Mr. Tim Daniel, had said about $2.550billion of $3billion had been so far recovered by the Federal Government from the late Abacha’s accounts and his family.

He gave the breakdown as follows: voluntary surrender ($750m); Switzerland ($570m); Jersey ($380m); UK($150m); Luxembourg ($300m); and Liechtenstein ($400m).

A few months after the 13th year anniversary of Abacha’s death, the Federal Government recovered£22.5m (N6.18billion) loot which the late Head of State, allegedly stashed in Jersey.

The £20million being investigated is alleged to be part of the outstanding $450million.

Source: Radio Biafra.

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