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Posts tagged ‘New Year’

Your New Year’s Invitation to Say ‘Yes’.



Cheryl Boyd

I was going through the mail that had been addressed to me, yet sent to my parents’ home. This in and of itself brings out weird feelings. The movie title Failure to Launch seems suddenly to be flashing over my head.  I know it’s an over-reaction.

My sister just celebrated her 16th wedding anniversary and an occasional letter intended for her is misdirected to my parents’ house as well. That thought is enough to shoo the ridiculous insult in my imagination away. Am I trying to rationalize dysfunction, or am I really in a healthy place in my life? Like the junk mail in my lap I sort through a few quick comparisons with others I know, careful to choose areas of personal strength rather than competing in a category where I struggle. Those thoughts quickly buoy me up, and I continue sorting my mail.

I flipped the postcard over and saw exactly what I expected to see—an adorable picture of two lovebirds. One of the turtledoves is a dead ringer for my young friend. Another “Save the Date.” If I am completely honest with myself, I have to admit that I had a warmer feeling in my gut when I read the postcard with a photo of my dentist’s two, mournful-eyed mutts reminding me to reschedule an appointment than looking over the beautifully designed correspondence informing me that my friend wants me to join her in celebrating one of the most joyous occasions of her life. No offense to my dentist! He’s great, funny, skilled … and he also happens to be my uncle, but this ironic reaction revealed to me that there is something going on in my heart. In the sorting of my mail, I realize that I just received a different kind of invitation—one to invite my Lord to sit with me as I explore this root in my heart that has a twinge of bitterness mixed with insecurity.

I can’t understand why I tend to avoid these opportunities to till the hardened soil of my sometimes-frozen heart. As always, this provided a rich time of depth and intimacy as I was reminded of the power of giving thanks for God‘s abundant kindness and provision in my life. He reminds me of my true identity as a uniquely crafted masterpiece, his child and heir. Instead of becoming my own preposterous motivational speaker, engaging in ridiculous mind games, comparing my strengths with others’ weaknesses, or conversely taking the role of bully to myself which relegates me to a pile of pathetic shame as I compare my failures and shortcomings to shining accomplishments of others.

Neither of these remedies bear fruit in my heart. One leads to false confidence and reinforces the lie that my strength lies not in my weakness, not as a steward of talents, gifts and the story that God has graciously given me, but in my hard work, personal accomplishments and in the things I have that others admire or wish they had. This is an ugly place. On the other hand, my attempts at self-management, focusing on my flaws, shaming myself into a plan set on self-redemption, self-correction and self-discipline reeks of the same self-absorption as the first and nothing good comes of it, either.

I have come to the conclusion that the popular tradition of making New Year’s resolutions is actually a prescription of my own charlatan-efforts to peddle a self-remedy. The statistics show that a successfully maintained New Year’s resolution has more in common with the stuff of fairytales than real, effective discipline and growth. Evaluation, making adjustments and coming up with a personal development plan are all healthy practices when they are undertaken with a clear understanding of who I am and where the roots of my issues really lie.

If I take a shortcut, skating over the ice encrusting my cold, broken heart, then I will never benefit from any resolution. After a while the pride and the fear of shame cease to motivate. Even if I am still going to the gym or if I decide to follow the advice of well-meaning friends and put myself “out there” more intentionally with the hope of finding a mate, after the first month when I fail to see any sign of the longed-for results, I begin to taste the bitterness of disappointment once again. My efforts to solve my problems apart from honesty, truth and vulnerability are fruitless.

So what can I do to see real, abundant fruit that I long for in my life? It starts with accepting those divine invitations to explore the roots in my heart when prickly reactions pop up in response to everyday events. I have to remember my identity and choose to walk in it—by faith, not by feeling. Any plans for changing habits, developing new skills or achieving desired outcomes have to be motivated by love for Jesus and a surrender to his perfect will for my life. Attempting to take control of circumstances which are beyond my control are a form of idolatry where I become the grotesque, impotent statue sitting on the throne of my heart’s kingdom.

Sound ridiculous? It is.

Instead of making a New Year’s resolution I want you to accept a New Year’s invitation. It is an invitation to say, “Yes!” to the Holy Spirit when your own heart reveals a bitter root. Live out the reality of Jesus’ words: “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15). I hope you will say “yes.” This is what it means to abide in Christ. You won’t see the fruit you long for in your life any other way.

As for me, I have decided to respond. I am looking forward to the invitations that are coming my way. The “Save the Date” for my friend’s wedding is hanging prominently on my refrigerator. It serves as more than just a reminder for my calendar. It reminds me to check the soil of my heart for bitterness. If I can look at the lovebirds without a sense of joy and happiness for them, then there is a little more gardening that needs to be done. I am not abiding in my Vine and the fruit I expect to harvest in the days ahead won’t appear. I am reminded that gardening is a never-ending process. Any gardener will tell you that it takes patience, hard work, diligence, and then, the results are awe-inspiring and miraculous.

 My prayer is that we would not let our hearts stay hardened and that we would never forget that we are not our own gardener. There is a Gardener, there is a Vine, and we are the branches that get to see the fruit burst forth from us.

Cheryl Boyd is on staff with Cru where she currently serves in launching a new ministry among young professionals in cities across the country. For 12 years she called Russia home as she helped give national leadership to the campus ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. Follow Cheryl on Twitter @cheryloboyd
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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.

In New Year Message, Jonathan Promises To Cut Unnecessary Government Foreign Travels.


The African Examiner

In his New Year message to Nigerians, President Goodluck Jonathan has declared that Foreign travel by government personnel will be reduced as part of government’s efforts to block financial leakages in the system.

He said “this directive shall apply to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government.”

President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan

The president also said financial reforms will continue in the system through the introduction of biometrics and digitizing government payments.

“Through these reforms, we have already saved about N126 billion in leaked funds and intend to save more,” the president assured.

 As usual, the president also promised to fight corruption in key sectors of the economy and to confront the security challenges facing the country.

The President’s Message reads in full:

“I greet and felicitate with you all as we enter the year 2014 which promises to be a momentous one for our country for several reasons, including the fact that it is also the year of our great nation’s centenary celebrations. I join you all in giving thanks to God Almighty for guiding us and our beloved nation safely through all the challenges of the outgoing year to the beginning of 2014.

“Exactly 100 years ago today, on January 1, 1914, the British Colonial authorities amalgamated what was then the separate Protectorates of Southern Nigeria and Northern Nigeria, giving birth to the single geopolitical entity known as Nigeria.  For us therefore, today is not just the beginning of a new year, but the end of a century of national existence and the beginning of another. It is a moment for sober reflection and for pride in all that is great about Nigeria.

“Whatever challenges we may have faced, whatever storms we may have confronted and survived, Nigeria remains a truly blessed country, a country of gifted men and women who continue to distinguish themselves in all spheres of life, a country whose diversity remains a source of strength.  We pay tribute today, as always to our founding fathers and mothers, and all the heroes and heroines whose toil and sweat over the century made this country what it is today.

“As I noted, a few days ago, the amalgamation of 1914 was certainly not a mistake but a blessing.  As we celebrate 100 years of nationhood, we must resolve to continue to work together as one, united people, to make our country even greater.

“I assure you that our administration remains fully committed to the progressive development of our country and the consolidation of peace, unity and democratic governance in our fatherland. Despite several continuing domestic and global challenges, for us in Nigeria, the year 2013 witnessed many positive developments which we will strive to build upon in 2014.

We have diligently carried forward the purposeful and focused implementation of our agenda for national transformation in priority areas such as power, the rehabilitation and expansion of national infrastructure, agricultural development, education and employment generation.

“You may recall that our 2013 Budget was on the theme, “Fiscal Consolidation with Inclusive Growth”, and I emphasized the need for us to “remain prudent with our fiscal resources and also ensure that the Nigerian economy keeps growing and creating jobs”. I am pleased to report that we have stayed focused on this goal.

“Our national budget for 2014 which is now before the National Assembly is specifically targeted at job creation and inclusive growth. We are keenly aware that in spite of the estimated 1.6 million new jobs created across the country in the past 12 months as a result of our actions and policies, more jobs are still needed to support our growing population. Our economic priorities will be stability and equitable growth, building on the diverse sectors of our economy.

“In 2013, we commenced implementation of the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) aimed at industrializing Nigeria and diversifying our economy into sectors such as agro-processing, light manufacturing, and petrochemicals. We have also negotiated a strong Common External Tariff (CET) agreement with our ECOWAS partners which would enable us to protect our strategic industries where necessary.

“I am pleased to note that as a result of our backward integration policies, Nigeria has moved from a country that produced 2 million metric tonnes of cement in 2002, to a country that now has a capacity of 28.5 million metric tonnes. For the first time in our history, we have moved from being a net importer of cement to a net exporter. Foreign direct investment into Nigeria has also been strong. In fact, for the second year running, the UN Conference on Trade and Development has named Nigeria as the number 1 destination for investments in Africa.

“We are witnessing a revolution in the agricultural sector and the results are evident. We have tackled corruption in the input distribution system as many farmers now obtain their fertilizers and seeds directly through an e-wallet system. In 2013, 4.2 million farmers received subsidized inputs via this programme. This scheme has restored dignity to our farmers.

“Last year we produced over 8 million metric tonnes of additional food; and this year, inflation fell to its lowest level since 2008 partly due to higher domestic food production. Our food import bill has also reduced from N1.1 trillion in 2011, to N648 billion in 2012, placing Nigeria firmly on the path to food self-sufficiency.

“The sector is also supporting more jobs. Last year, we produced 1.1 million metric tonnes of dry season rice across 10 Northern states; and over 250,000 farmers and youths in these States are now profitably engaged in farming even during the dry season.

“This Administration is also developing our water resources which are key for both our food production and job creation goals. In 2013, we completed the construction of nine dams which increased the volume of our water reservoirs by 422 million cubic metres.  Through our irrigation and drainage programme, we have increased the total irrigated area by over 31,000 hectares creating jobs for over 75,000 farming families while increasing production of over 400,000 metric tons of assorted irrigated food products.

“Fellow Compatriots, I have always believed that the single greatest thing we can do to ensure all Nigerians realize their potential and play a full part in our nation’s future, is to invest in education. The education of our young people is a key priority for this Government. We take this responsibility very seriously and I urge all other stakeholders in the sector to recognize the national importance of their work, and to help advance the cause of education in our nation.

“Between 2007 and 2013, we have almost tripled the allocation for education from N224 billion to N634 billion – and we will continue to vigorously support the sector. We have improved access to education in the country with the construction of 125 Almajiri schools, and the establishment of three additional Federal Universities in the North, bringing to twelve, the number of universities established by this administration.

“In 2013, we rehabilitated 352 laboratories and constructed 72 new libraries in the Federal Unity Schools; and also rehabilitated laboratories of all the 51 Federal and State polytechnics across the country.

“In the Health sector, we are building strong safety nets and improving access to primary health care under the Saving One Million Lives programme. In 2013, we recruited 11,300 frontline health workers who were deployed to under-served communities across the country. Over 400,000 lives have been saved through our various interventions. We have reached over 10,000 women and children with conditional cash transfer programmes across 8 States and the FCT and we intend to scale up this successful initiative.

“Our national immunization coverage has exceeded 80%. And for the first time in the history of the country there has not been any transmission of the Type-3 Wild Polio virus for more than one year. We have also eradicated the guinea worm that previously affected the lives of over 800,000 Nigerians yearly. In tertiary health care, we upgraded medical facilities across the country. Two of our teaching hospitals – the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu, and the University College Hospital in Ibadan – commenced open heart surgeries this year after the installation of new facilities.

“Fellow Nigerians, I have dwelt on some of our administration’s achievements in 2013 to reassure you that we are working and results are being achieved on the ground. As we enter our Centennial year, there is still much work ahead. We are determined to sustain our strong macroeconomic fundamentals, to strengthen our domestic institutions, and to invest in priority sectors. These investments will create more jobs for our youth. Government will at the same time, continue to scale-up investments in safety nets and the MDGs to take care of the poor and the vulnerable so that they too can share in our growth and prosperity.

“In 2014, we will continue to prioritize investments in key sectors such as  infrastructure development, power, roads, rail transportation and aviation. In the past year, the Federal Government completed the privatization of four power generation companies and 10 power distribution companies. We are also in the process of privatizing 10 power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP).

“We shall boost investments in transmission to ensure power generated is properly evacuated and distributed. In this regard, we have already mobilized an additional $1.5 billion for the upgrade of the transmission network in 2014 and beyond.  Government will also strengthen regulation of the sector, and closely monitor electricity delivery to increase this beyond 18 hours per day. We will complete the privatization of the NIPP projects, accelerate work on our gas pipeline infrastructure and also continue to invest in hydro-electric power and clean energy as we monitor the effects of climate change on our economy.

“Our administration believes that the cost of governance in the country is still too high and must be further reduced. We will also take additional steps to stem the tide of corruption and leakages. We have worked hard to curb fraud in the administration of the pension system and the implementation of the petroleum subsidy scheme. We have introduced a Pensions Transition Arrangement Department under a new Director-General. This department will now ensure that those of our pensioners still under the old scheme receive their pensions and gratuities, and are not subjected to fraud. Prosecution of all those involved in robbing our retired people will continue. The Petroleum Subsidy Scheme is also now being operated under new strict guidelines to tackle previous leakages in the scheme and prevent fraud.

“Foreign travel by government personnel will be further curtailed. This directive shall apply to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government. Our strategy to curb leakages will increasingly rely on introducing the right technologies such as biometrics and digitizing government payments.

“I am therefore pleased to inform you that we shall complete the deployment of the three electronic platforms in 2014 – namely, the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System(GIFMIS) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) – which are all geared towards improving efficiency and transparency in our public finances. Through these reforms, we have already saved about N126 billion in leaked funds and intend to save more.

“To sustain Nigeria’s ongoing agricultural transformation, we have planned further investments in the sector. We will provide input subsidies to five million farmers nationwide using the e-wallet system.  This Administration recently launched a self-employment initiative under the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), called the Nagropreneur programme. This scheme would encourage our youth to go into commercial agriculture as entrepreneurs and we plan to develop over 750,000 young Nagropreneurs by 2015.

“We will also establish new agro-industrial clusters to complement the staple crop processing zones being developed across the country. In 2014, this Administration will continue to work with the private sector to improve financing in the agricultural sector. For example, we will launch the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN) which will serve as a private equity fund to invest in agri-businesses across the country.

“Our Small and Medium scale enterprises (SMEs) will be the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization. We have about 17 million registered SMEs, and they employ over 32 million Nigerians. When our SMEs grow, more jobs will be created for our youth. Therefore, in 2014, this Administration will focus strongly on implementing the Nigeria Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) to address the needs of small businesses. Our interventions will include helping SMEs with access to affordable finance, business development services, and youth training. In addition, our new CET policies will enable us to support our emerging industries.

“We will also intensify our investment promotion efforts abroad, to ensure we bring the biggest and best companies from around the world to invest in Nigeria.

“Dear Compatriots, the housing and construction industry is a critical sector in most developed economies. When the housing sector booms, it creates additional jobs for architects and masons, for electricians and plumbers, for painters and interior decorators, and for those in the cement and furniture industries.

“Today, I am pleased to inform you that this Administration is reinvigorating our housing and construction sector. We have established the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) which will increase liquidity in the housing sector, provide a secondary market for mortgages, and thereby increase the number of people able to purchase or build homes at an affordable price in the country.

“In 2014, we will work in a number of pilot states where the State Governors have agreed to provide fast-track land titles, foreclosure arrangements, and serviced plots. This new institution will enable us to create over 200,000 mortgages over the next five years at affordable interest rates. In addition, those at the lower end of the economic ladder will not be left behind as this new initiative will expand mass housing schemes through a re-structured Federal Mortgage Bank and other institutions to provide rent-to-own and lease-to-own options. I am confident that very soon, many more hardworking Nigerian families will be able to realize their dream of owning a home.

“In this our centenary year, we will continue our efforts, through the Saving One Million Lives initiative to strengthen primary health care services. We will scale up interventions in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition, routine immunization, HIV/AIDS, malaria elimination, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, and non-communicable diseases. We will pay greater attention to the provision of universal health coverage. Besides the implementation of new initiatives such as my comprehensive response plan for HIV/AIDS, we shall continue to collaborate with global health partners to deliver our health sector transformation agenda.

“I am glad that the issues responsible for the long-drawn ASUU strike have been resolved and our children are returning to their campuses. We are committed to making our tertiary institutions true centers of learning for our young people. We will therefore focus on upgrading hostels, laboratories, classrooms, and halls.  As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals approaches, we will continue to expand access to basic education for all Nigerian children. Working with State Governments, we shall decisively tackle the problem of the large numbers of out-of-school children in this country. We will also invest in technical and vocational education to promote skills development for our youth across the country.

“Nigerian entrepreneurs still lack access to affordable financing, with medium-to-long-term tenors. To address this gap, a new wholesale development finance institution will be established in 2014 to provide medium-to long-term financing for Nigerian businesses. We are working with partners such as the World Bank, the Africa Development Bank, the BNDES Bank in Brazil, and KfW in Germany, to realize this project. Our existing Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry will be re-structured as specialized institutions to retail financing from this new wholesale development bank.

“In addition to the foregoing, our administration will also do all within its powers to ensure the success of the forthcoming National Conference. The report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Conference is undergoing urgent review and the approved structure, guidelines and modalities for the conference will soon be published as a prelude to its commencement and expeditious conclusion.

“It remains our sincere hope and expectation that the success of the national conference will further enhance national unity, peace and cohesion as we move ahead to the 2015 general elections.

“In keeping with our avowed commitment to progressively enhancing the credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process by consistently upholding the principle of one man, one vote, our Administration will also ensure that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) receives all required support to ensure that it is adequately prepared for the next general elections.

“As peace and security remain prerequisite conditions for the full realization of our objectives, we will also do more in 2014 to further empower our security agencies who are working in collaborative partnerships with our friends in the international community to stem the scourge of terrorism in our country and enhance the security of lives and property in all parts of Nigeria. The allocation of over N600 Billion to Defence and Policing in the 2014 Budget attests to this commitment.

“Fellow compatriots, the task of making our dear nation a much better place for present and future generations cannot be left to government alone. I therefore urge you all to be ready and willing to do more this year to support the implementation of the Federal Government’s Agenda for National Transformation in every possible way.

“Let us all therefore resolve as we celebrate the new year, and Nigeria’s Centenary, to place the higher interests of national unity, peace, stability and progress above all other considerations and work harder in our particular fields of human endeavour to contribute more significantly to the attainment of our collective aspirations. I urge all Nigerians, no matter their stations in life, to rededicate themselves to contributing meaningfully to further enrich our national heritage. The time for that re-dedication is now, not tomorrow.

“I wish you all a happy and rewarding 2014. God bless Nigeria. Happy New Year.”

CAN to President Jonathan, Buckle up or be ready to vacate Aso Rock.


 

Goodluck-Jonathan-03

Christian body in the country; under the umbrella of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has warned President Goodluck Jonathan to ‘tighten his seat belt’ in the New Year, or honourably resign and vacate the Aso Villa.Chairman of the South- East chapter of CAN and the Anglican Bishop of Enugu, Rt. Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma handed this warning to Jonathan in a New Year message released on Tuesday.The cleric said that President Jonathan must rise to the challenges facing his administration, especially the alleged cases of corruption in the polity, unemployment and epileptic power supply.The cleric avowed that if Jonathan fails to live up to expectation, he should prepare to vacate the Aso Rock in 2015.Bishop Chukwuma who said that doom awaits the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the New Year noted that except the likes of Chief Tony Anenih and Alhaji Bamanga Tukur retire from active politics, the party would continue to face greater calamities.“If those elders I warned before to retire don’t retire, then the party will be in trouble in 2014. At 80, Anenih should retire; Bamangar Tukur should retire.These people should now serve as elders and advisers; if they do that, PDP will get its dignity back, but while you still have these analogue leaders and elders in the party and the polity, forget about PDP in 2015,” he warned.He called on President Jonathan to be focused in the New Year to avoid attracting the wrath of the greater percentage of Nigerians, noting that since the buck stops at his table, all blames of every failure in his government would be completely laid at his doorstep.Chukwuma said, “The letter between Obasanjo and Jonathan is a boomerang of Obasanjo’s selfish act in enthroning a president of his choice for Nigeria.“There are many better leaders out there than Jonathan who would have been elected, but Obasanjo selfishly maneuvered Jonathan into leadership by first putting a sick Yar’Adua in power. Because he couldn’t control him anymore, he started writing letters.“That is why Jonathan must be focused in 2014 in order to prove himself worthy for 2015.“Failure to do that and he gets distracted and doesn’t prove himself, and Nigeria continues with the way it is today with corruption, no light, poverty, unemployment, I beg him, he should just step aside, let us seek for a better leader in 2015.“He has tried in the last six years, and rather than the thing getting him into trouble, and cause him more tension, I think Nigeria is greater than everybody, all of them should give way and give room for new spirit to rule Nigeria from 2015,” he said.Bishop Chukwuma however called on Nigerians to be more faithful to

God by pursuing peace and righteousness.“We should all work dedicatedly for the unity and peace of this nation as we celebrate our country. Any attempt by anybody to fuel violence or confusion will call for the review of our amalgamation,” he added.

Source: Radio Biafra.

President Jonathan: My Government Created 1.6 Million Jobs In 2013.


By SaharaReporters, New York

In what appears to be an election campaign statement to rebut those who say his government has failed, President Jonathan has in a New Year message to Nigerians rolled out a list of his “achievements” in the past year.

Among them, he claimed his government may have been responsible for an astounding 1.6 million jobs in 2013 alone, but did not clarify where the jobs were filled.

“Our national budget for 2014 which is now before the National Assembly is specifically targeted at job creation and inclusive growth,” he said.

“We are keenly aware that in spite of the estimated 1.6 million new jobs created across the country in the past 12 months as a result of our actions and policies, more jobs are still needed to support our growing population. Our economic priorities will be stability and equitable growth, building on the diverse sectors of our economy.”

Mr. Jonathan did not say anything about the challenge of leading by example, and only referred to corruption and bad governance, which his critics claim he is nurturing in the country, in passing.

“I urge all Nigerians, no matter their stations in life, to rededicate themselves to contributing meaningfully to further enrich our national heritage.  The time for that re-dedication is now, not tomorrow,” he said, referring to the 2014 being Nigeria’s centenary year.

He reiterated that the amalgamation of 1914 was a blessing rather than a mistake, and called on Nigerians as they celebrate the landmark, to continue to work together to be “even greater” as one, united people.

“Whatever challenges we may have faced, whatever storms we may have confronted and survived, Nigeria remains a truly blessed country, a country of gifted men and women who continue to distinguish themselves in all spheres of life, a country whose diversity remains a source of strength.  We pay tribute today, as always to our founding fathers and mothers, and all the heroes and heroines whose toil and sweat over the century made this country what it is today.”

On the issue of peace and security in the country, he said his government will do more in 2014 to further empower the security agencies who are working in collaborative partnerships with its friends in the international community to stem the scourge of terrorism in our country, adding that the allocation of over N600 Billion to Defence and Policing in the 2014 Budget attests to this commitment.

Mr. Jonathan also highlighted, among others:

•    The commencement of the National Industrial Revolution Plan in 2013, aimed at industrializing Nigeria and diversifying our economy into sectors such as agro-processing, light manufacturing, and petrochemicals;

•    Nigeria has moved from a country that produced 2 million metric tonnes of cement in 2002 to a country that now has a capacity of 28.5 million metric tonnes; for the first time becoming a net exporter of cement;

•    A revolution in the agricultural sector, where 4.2 million farmers obtained their fertilizers and seeds directly through an e-wallet in 2013;

•    Nigeria produced over 8 million metric tonnes of additional food in 2013 and inflation fell to its lowest level since 2008 partly as a result, the nation’s food import bill reducing from N1.1 trillion in 2011 to N648 billion in 2012;

•    Between 2007 and 2013, the government has almost tripled the allocation for education from N224 billion to N634 billion; and

•    Nigeria is building strong safety nets and improving access to primary health care under the Saving One Million Lives programme, and in 2013 recruited 11,300 frontline health workers who were deployed to under-served communities across the country.

Mr. Jonathan promised that in 2014, his government will continue to prioritize investments in key sectors such as infrastructure development, power, roads, rail transportation and aviation.

“We shall boost investments in transmission to ensure power generated is properly evacuated and distributed,” he said.  “In this regard, we have already mobilized an additional $1.5 billion for the upgrade of the transmission network in 2014 and beyond.  Government will also strengthen regulation of the sector, and closely monitor electricity delivery to increase this beyond 18 hours per day. We will complete the privatization of the NIPP projects, accelerate work on our gas pipeline infrastructure and also continue to invest in hydro-electric power and clean energy as we monitor the effects of climate change on our economy.”

He said his administration believes that the cost of governance in the country is still too high and must be further reduced, and would therefore take additional steps to stem the tide of corruption and leakages, including curtailing foreign travel by government personnel will be further curtailed.
He did not say how he would recover public faith in his government that has been shattered by his refusal to declare his assets publicly, his protection of corrupt government Ministers and the state pardon granted to his corrupt friends, all being elements that are known to curtail or compromise every government’s best initiatives.

Full text of the statement:

NEW YEAR MESSAGE TO THE NATION FROM PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, GCFR
DECEMBER 31, 2013
Dear Compatriots,
I greet and felicitate with you all as we enter the year 2014 which promises to be a momentous one for our country for several reasons, including the fact that it is also the year of our great nation’s centenary celebrations. I join you all in giving thanks to God Almighty for guiding us and our beloved nation safely through all the challenges of the outgoing year to the beginning of 2014.

Exactly 100 years ago today, on January 1, 1914, the British Colonial authorities amalgamated what was then the separate Protectorates of Southern Nigeria and Northern Nigeria, giving birth to the single geopolitical entity known as Nigeria.  For us therefore, today is not just the beginning of a new year, but the end of a century of national existence and the beginning of another. It is a moment for sober reflection and for pride in all that is great about Nigeria.

Whatever challenges we may have faced, whatever storms we may have confronted and survived, Nigeria remains a truly blessed country, a country of gifted men and women who continue to distinguish themselves in all spheres of life, a country whose diversity remains a source of strength.  We pay tribute today, as always to our founding fathers and mothers, and all the heroes and heroines whose toil and sweat over the century made this country what it is today.

As I noted, a few days ago, the amalgamation of 1914 was certainly not a mistake but a blessing.  As we celebrate 100 years of nationhood, we must resolve to continue to work together as one, united people, to make our country even greater.

I assure you that our administration remains fully committed to the progressive development of our country and the consolidation of peace, unity and democratic governance in our fatherland. Despite several continuing domestic and global challenges, for us in Nigeria, the year 2013 witnessed many positive developments which we will strive to build upon in 2014.

We have diligently carried forward the purposeful and focused implementation of our agenda for national transformation in priority areas such as power, the rehabilitation and expansion of national infrastructure, agricultural development, education and employment generation.

You may recall that our 2013 Budget was on the theme, “Fiscal Consolidation with Inclusive Growth”, and I emphasized the need for us to “remain prudent with our fiscal resources and also ensure that the Nigerian economy keeps growing and creating jobs”. I am pleased to report that we have stayed focused on this goal.

Our national budget for 2014 which is now before the National Assembly is specifically targeted at job creation and inclusive growth. We are keenly aware that in spite of the estimated 1.6 million new jobs created across the country in the past 12 months as a result of our actions and policies, more jobs are still needed to support our growing population. Our economic priorities will be stability and equitable growth, building on the diverse sectors of our economy.

In 2013, we commenced implementation of the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) aimed at industrializing Nigeria and diversifying our economy into sectors such as agro-processing, light manufacturing, and petrochemicals. We have also negotiated a strong Common External Tariff (CET) agreement with our ECOWAS partners which would enable us to protect our strategic industries where necessary.

I am pleased to note that as a result of our backward integration policies, Nigeria has moved from a country that produced 2 million metric tonnes of cement in 2002, to a country that now has a capacity of 28.5 million metric tonnes. For the first time in our history, we have moved from being a net importer of cement to a net exporter. Foreign direct investment into Nigeria has also been strong. In fact, for the second year running, the UN Conference on Trade and Development has named Nigeria as the number 1 destination for investments in Africa.

We are witnessing a revolution in the agricultural sector and the results are evident. We have tackled corruption in the input distribution system as many farmers now obtain their fertilizers and seeds directly through an e-wallet system. In 2013, 4.2 million farmers received subsidized inputs via this programme. This scheme has restored dignity to our farmers.

Last year we produced over 8 million metric tonnes of additional food; and this year, inflation fell to its lowest level since 2008 partly due to higher domestic food production. Our food import bill has also reduced from N1.1 trillion in 2011, to N648 billion in 2012, placing Nigeria firmly on the path to food self-sufficiency.

The sector is also supporting more jobs. Last year, we produced 1.1 million metric tonnes of dry season rice across 10 Northern states; and over 250,000 farmers and youths in these States are now profitably engaged in farming even during the dry season.
This Administration is also developing our water resources which are key for both our food production and job creation goals. In 2013, we completed the construction of nine dams which increased the volume of our water reservoirs by 422 million cubic metres.  Through our irrigation and drainage programme, we have increased the total irrigated area by over 31,000 hectares creating jobs for over 75,000 farming families while increasing production of over 400,000 metric tons of assorted irrigated food products.

Fellow Compatriots, I have always believed that the single greatest thing we can do to ensure all Nigerians realize their potential and play a full part in our nation’s future, is to invest in education. The education of our young people is a key priority for this Government. We take this responsibility very seriously and I urge all other stakeholders in the sector to recognize the national importance of their work, and to help advance the cause of education in our nation.

Between 2007 and 2013, we have almost tripled the allocation for education from N224 billion to N634 billion – and we will continue to vigorously support the sector. We have improved access to education in the country with the construction of 125 Almajiri schools, and the establishment of three additional Federal Universities in the North, bringing to twelve, the number of universities established by this administration.

In 2013, we rehabilitated 352 laboratories and constructed 72 new libraries in the Federal Unity Schools; and also rehabilitated laboratories of all the 51 Federal and State polytechnics across the country.

In the Health sector, we are building strong safety nets and improving access to primary health care under the Saving One Million Lives programme. In 2013, we recruited 11,300 frontline health workers who were deployed to under-served communities across the country. Over 400,000 lives have been saved through our various interventions. We have reached over 10,000 women and children with conditional cash transfer programmes across 8 States and the FCT and we intend to scale up this successful initiative.

Our national immunization coverage has exceeded 80%. And for the first time in the history of the country there has not been any transmission of the Type-3 Wild Polio virus for more than one year.We have also eradicated the guinea worm that previously affected the lives of over 800,000 Nigerians yearly. In tertiary health care, we upgraded medical facilities across the country. Two of our teaching hospitals – the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu, and the University College Hospital in Ibadan – commenced open heart surgeries this year after the installation of new facilities.

Fellow Nigerians, I have dwelt on some of our administration’s achievements in 2013 to reassure you that we are working and results are being achieved on the ground. As we enter our Centennial year, there is still much work ahead. We are determined to sustain our strong macroeconomic fundamentals, to strengthen our domestic institutions, and to invest in priority sectors. These investments will create more jobs for our youth. Government will at the same time, continue to scale-up investments in safety nets and the MDGs to take care of the poor and the vulnerable so that they too can share in our growth and prosperity.

In 2014, we will continue to prioritize investments in key sectors such as  infrastructure development, power, roads, rail transportation and aviation. In the past year, the Federal Government completed the privatization of four power generation companies and 10 power distribution companies. We are also in the process of privatizing 10 power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP).
We shall boost investments in transmission to ensure power generated is properly evacuated and distributed. In this regard, we have already mobilized an additional $1.5 billion for the upgrade of the transmission network in 2014 and beyond.  Government will also strengthen regulation of the sector, and closely monitor electricity delivery to increase this beyond 18 hours per day. We will complete the privatization of the NIPP projects, accelerate work on our gas pipeline infrastructure and also continue to invest in hydro-electric power and clean energy as we monitor the effects of climate change on our economy.

Our administration believes that the cost of governance in the country is still too high and must be further reduced. We will also take additional steps to stem the tide of corruption and leakages. We have worked hard to curb fraud in the administration of the pension system and the implementation of the petroleum subsidy scheme. We have introduced a Pensions Transition Arrangement Department under a new Director-General. This department will now ensure that those of our pensioners still under the old scheme receive their pensions and gratuities, and are not subjected to fraud. Prosecution of all those involved in robbing our retired people will continue. The Petroleum Subsidy Scheme is also now being operated under new strict guidelines to tackle previous leakages in the scheme and prevent fraud.

Foreign travel by government personnel will be further curtailed. This directive shall apply to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government. Our strategy to curb leakages will increasingly rely on introducing the right technologies such as biometrics and digitizing government payments.

I am therefore pleased to inform you that we shall complete the deployment of the three electronic platforms in 2014 – namely, theTreasury Single Account (TSA), theGovernment Integrated Financial Management Information System(GIFMIS) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) – which are all geared towards improving efficiency and transparency in our public finances. Through these reforms, we have already saved about N126 billion in leaked funds and intend to save more.

To sustain Nigeria’s ongoing agricultural transformation, we have planned further investments in the sector. We will provide input subsidies to five million farmers nationwide using the e-wallet system.  This Administration recently launched a self-employment initiative under theYouth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), called the Nagropreneur programme. This scheme would encourage our youth to go into commercial agriculture as entrepreneurs and we plan to develop over 750,000 youngNagropreneurs by 2015.

We will also establish new agro-industrial clusters to complement the staple crop processing zones being developed across the country.In 2014, this Administration will continue to work with the private sector to improve financing in the agricultural sector. For example, we will launch the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria(FAFIN) which will serve as a private equity fund to invest in agri-businesses across the country.

Our Small and Medium scale enterprises (SMEs) will be the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization. We have about 17 million registered SMEs, and they employ over 32 million Nigerians. When our SMEs grow, more jobs will be created for our youth. Therefore, in 2014, this Administration will focus strongly on implementing the Nigeria Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) to address the needs of small businesses. Our interventions will include helping SMEs with access to affordable finance, business development services, and youth training. In addition, our new CET policies will enable us to support our emerging industries.

We will also intensify our investment promotion efforts abroad, to ensure we bring the biggest and best companies from around the world to invest in Nigeria.

Dear Compatriots, the housing and construction industry is a critical sector in most developed economies. When the housing sector booms, it creates additional jobs for architects and masons, for electricians and plumbers, for painters and interior decorators, and for those in the cement and furniture industries.

Today, I am pleased to inform you that this Administration is reinvigorating our housing and construction sector. We have established the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) which will increase liquidity in the housing sector, provide a secondary market for mortgages, and thereby increase the number of people able to purchase or build homes at an affordable price in the country.

In 2014, we will work in a number of pilot states where the State Governors have agreed to provide fast-track land titles, foreclosure arrangements, and serviced plots. This new institution will enable us to create over 200,000 mortgages over the next five years at affordable interest rates. In addition, those at the lower end of the economic ladder will not be left behind as this new initiative will expand mass housing schemes through a re-structured Federal Mortgage Bank and other institutions to provide rent-to-own and lease-to-own options. I am confident that very soon, many more hardworking Nigerian families will be able to realize their dream of owning a home.

In this our centenary year, we will continue our efforts, through theSaving One Million Lives initiative to strengthen primary health care services. We will scale up interventions in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition, routine immunization, HIV/AIDS, malaria elimination, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, and non-communicable diseases. We will pay greater attention to the provision of universal health coverage. Besides the implementation of new initiatives such as my comprehensive response plan for HIV/AIDS, we shall continue to collaborate with global health partners to deliver our health sector transformation agenda.

I am glad that the issues responsible for the long-drawn ASUU strike have been resolved and our children are returning to their campuses. We are committed to making our tertiary institutions true centers of learning for our young people. We will therefore focus on upgrading hostels, laboratories, classrooms, and halls.  As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals approaches, we will continue to expand access to basic education for all Nigerian children. Working with State Governments, we shall decisively tackle the problem of the large numbers of out-of-school children in this country. We will also invest in technical and vocational education to promote skills development for our youth across the country.

Nigerian entrepreneurs still lack access to affordable financing, with medium-to-long-term tenors. To address this gap, a new wholesale development finance institution will be established in 2014 to provide medium-to long-term financing for Nigerian businesses. We are working with partners such as the World Bank, the Africa Development Bank, the BNDES Bank in Brazil, and KfW in Germany, to realize this project. Our existing Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry will be re-structured as specialized institutions to retail financing from this new wholesale development bank.

In addition to the foregoing, our administration will also do all within its powers to ensure the success of the forthcoming National Conference. The report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Conference is undergoing urgent review and the approved structure, guidelines and modalities for the conference will soon be published as a prelude to its commencement and expeditious conclusion.

It remains our sincere hope and expectation that the success of the national conference will further enhance national unity, peace and cohesion as we move ahead to the 2015 general elections.

In keeping with our avowed commitment to progressively enhancing the credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process by consistently upholding the principle of one man, one vote, our Administration will also ensure that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) receives all required support to ensure that it is adequately prepared for the next general elections.

As peace and security remain prerequisite conditions for the full realization of our objectives, we will also do more in 2014 to further empower our security agencies who are working in collaborative partnerships with our friends in the international community to stem the scourge of terrorism in our country and enhance the security of lives and property in all parts of Nigeria. The allocation of over N600 Billion to Defence and Policing in the 2014 Budget attests to this commitment.

Fellow compatriots, the task of making our dear nation a much better place for present and future generations cannot be left to government alone. I therefore urge you all to be ready and willing to do more this year to support the implementation of the Federal Government’s Agenda for National Transformation in every possible way.

Let us all therefore resolve as we celebrate the new year, and Nigeria’s Centenary, to place the higher interests of national unity, peace, stability and progress above all other considerations and work harder in our particular fields of human endeavour to contribute more significantly to the attainment of our collective aspirations. I urge all Nigerians, no matter their stations in life, to rededicate themselves to contributing meaningfully to further enrich our national heritage. The time for that re-dedication is now, not tomorrow.

I wish you all a happy and rewarding 2014. God bless Nigeria. Happy New Year.

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
President,
Federal Republic of Nigeria
December 31, 2013

All hope is not lost, Bola Tinubu tells Nigerians.


Bola-Tinubu-003

National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has urged Nigerians not to lose hope in the country’s future.

He said the progressives are poised to transform it into a fertile land of prosperity, when they take over power in 2015.

In his New Year message, the former Lagos State governor said Nigeria is destined to be better than it is today.

Tinubu said: “If put in the hands of enlightened progressive leaders, this nation can become a fertile land of prosperity, lawfullness, peace and dignity for us all.

“This is why we formed the APC, a vehicle to generate and accelerate the process of change towards the most beneficial end for

the greatest number of our people.

“We may not be perfect, but we are dedicated to the wellbeing of something far greater and more important than ourselves.

“Beginning this New Year, the APC will show the people the vast difference between it and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). We shall demonstrate our commitment to democracy by exercising internal democracy and transparency in our party deliberations.

“We shall communicate with the people at the grassroots as well as at the national level. You will see and hear from APC members and leaders at the local, state and national levels.

“We will highlight the ideological and substantive policy differences between the progressive us and the elitist them. Where the PDP has imposed trickle-down economics reminiscent of 1980’s Reagan –Thatcher-IMF road show, we seek an economy of genuine and broadly-shared growth, where the labouring wage earner and small business person benefit proportionally to the powerful financier and big corporate power

“2014 will be the year of an even greater change foretold, for it shall set the stage for year after. May, 2015, will be the fateful year when we affirm into governance the change Nigeria needs.”

Source: Radio Biafra.

Chief Justice Roberts: Federal Courts Need More Funds.


Image: Chief Justice Roberts: Federal Courts Need More Funds

Congress and the White House need to restore funding to the nation’s federal courts to keep from undermining “the public’s confidence in all three branches of government,” Chief Justice John Roberts said Tuesday in his year-end report.

Roberts has made similar calls for more money in the past.

“I would like to choose a fresher topic, but duty calls. The budget remains the single most important issue facing the courts,” he said.

The courts have been severely affected by government cost-cutting, Roberts said.

“The combined effects since July 2011 of flat budgets followed by sequestration reduced on-board court staffing levels by 3,100 (14 percent) to about 19,000 employees — the lowest staffing level since 1997, despite significant workload increases over that same period — and reduced federal defender offices staffing by 11 percent in fiscal year 2013 alone,” he said.

What would happen if the sequestration cuts continue? If Congress instead freezes court funding at sequester level, it “would lead to the loss of an estimated additional 1,000 court staff,” Roberts said.

“The first consequence would be greater delays in resolving civil and criminal cases. In the civil and bankruptcy venues, further consequences would include commercial uncertainty, lost opportunities and unvindicated rights. In the criminal venues, those consequences pose a genuine threat to public safety.”

Court officials are calling for $7.04 billion for fiscal year 2014, which they calculate at less than two-tenths of 1 percent of total federal outlays.

“In the coming weeks, and into the future, I encourage the president and Congress to be attentive to the needs of the judicial branch and avert the adverse consequences that would result from funding the judiciary below its minimal needs,” Roberts said.

“The judiciary continues to depend on the vision and statesmanship of our colleagues in the executive and legislative departments. It takes no imagination to see that failing to meet the judiciary’s essential requirements undermines the public’s confidence in all three branches of government.”

The judiciary system also is working to save money by ensuring any new space requested by a judicial circuit is offset by an equivalent reduction in the same fiscal year. The courts also are looking to reduce their overall space by 3 percent by the end of fiscal 2018.

“The only exceptions from these policies are new courthouses and repair and alterations projects specifically approved by Congress,” Roberts said.

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

Source: Newsmax.com

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