PARIS, JULY 24, 2016: (DGW) Revered Yoruba monarch, the Oni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has recounted his humble beginnings and the resultant challenges that eventually shaped his life later in life.
Life, the monarch said, is not a bed of roses. He narrated how he gave his mother with hawking her wares to keep body and soul together.
Recounting his experiences during his growing up days, he said, “I used to help my mother, who was born into a family of business people. My two grandmothers were business people in Ife. My maternal grandmother used to go to the North to buy rice and beans and sold them in Ife. I hawked for my mother because whenever she came back from work, she resumed business and I was very proud of doing that for her.
“I would hawk the commodity in some communities in Ibadan and I am very proud to have that kind of experience. I used to make shoes too. I have always been enterprising ever since I was young. I made shoes for friends and families with jeans material; I made canvas with jeans material too. I went to learn how to do it at a shoemaking shop. I used my leisure time after school to do those things and I was very good at them.
“I am always a very passionate person and I did travel in a ‘molue’ on many occasions. After my service year, I lived in both Ibadan and Lagos because I was a rice and sugar merchant. I love to take up challenges and my growing up shaped my life.
“I did not hawk in a molue but I used to board ‘molue.’ Last year, there was a time I boarded the BRT bus in Lagos. The reason is very simple; I am quite passionate about mankind, so I developed a concept to live like the common man at least once every month because I believe we did not come into this world with anything.
“I would drop everything I have to live like an average man struggling in life. I would visit people under the bridge, ride on a motorcycle, and board a ‘molue’ to wherever I was going in Lagos. It was very stressful but those times were my best moments in life because I got to relate with the real people. I saw their sufferings and felt their plights.
“When I ascended the throne, I requested the elders to grant me the opportunity to continue the concept, but they did not agree, so I coined a new one that would go in line with the throne, which is stopping my convoy whenever I get to a particular open place with moderate crowd and buy ‘boli’ (roasted plantain) and ‘dundu’ and other basic food items because we don’t have to forget where we are coming from in life. Which position are you that nobody has never been in life?
“When you serve mankind, you serve God. Our people have disconnected from the less-privileged and the downtrodden. Each time I stop, the people are always happy and my security men are usually afraid and they caution me to get into the car, but I always make them realise that I cannot be harmed by these people. They are just excited and I am always happy to be in their midst.
“At times, I would not come out of the car, but most times, I do get out to shake people’s hands and I would buy from them what they’re selling and pay them higher than what they have sold. I will be sick if I am not with the common people; it has always been my lifestyle,” he said.
Senate President Bukola Saraki on Wednesday advised the presidency to prepare for a lengthy legal war in the bid to get him prosecuted for alleged involvement in the forging of the Senate rule prior to the inauguration of the Senate on June 9, 2015.
The Senate president, who is battling to exonerate himself from the forgery allegation, however, insisted on his innocence as the noose gets tightened on him in the forgery case.
He said he is aware that the new case being hung on his neck is another attempt in the ongoing move to pull him down, vowing to stay strong and defend his mandate with all legal means through which, he said, he is sure of victory.
Saraki in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, described as unfortunate the attempt to drag his name into a messy deal for which he knows nothing about.
He stated that he is only being persecuted for no just cause as he was never a principal officer in the 7th session of the Senate where the Senate rule was amended.
He posited that it was wrong to accuse him of participation in any forgery of the Senate rule as prior to his unanimous election as Senate president on June 9, 2015, he was merely a senator-elect like all his colleagues, and therefore was not in a position to influence the rules that were to be used in the conduct of the election.
This, he said, reflected in the decision of the police not to invite him for questioning when the investigation into the matter commenced initially.
“The police in their investigation were conscious that the incumbent Senate president was not in office prior to June 9, 2015 and that was why in their letters inviting some individuals for their investigation, they only mentioned officers of the 7th Senate. The last of the letters was written to the clerk of the National Assembly on June 7, 2016 and he was not among those invited.
“Those who decided to smuggle the name of the Senate president into the charge sheet after the fact knew perfectly well that only the leadership of the 7th Senate were invited for investigation. But they needed to implicate him in keeping with their declared vow to ensure that even if their current effort to nail him through the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) fails, they would find other ways to carry out their vendetta.”
The Senate president noted that the latest onslaught on him was actually against the institution of the parliament which represents the heartbeat of democracy.
He also maintained that the government should have rather concentrated on the very many problems bedevilling the nation rather than gunning for his neck over a matter that will not exalt the nation.
“This so-called forgery case is another wanton abuse of the judicial process and making a mockery of the institution of justice. As the Senate earlier stated, the sponsors of this plot are not only gunning for Dr. Saraki, what they have just launched with this latest antics is a grand onslaught on the foremost institution of our democracy.
“The only institutional difference between dictatorship and democracy is the presence of the legislature. Therefore, by seeking to cripple the National Assembly, they have declared a war on our hard-won democracy and aimed for the very jugular of our freedom.
“Let us restate the fact that the senators who initiated the police investigation in the first place had raised the same matter on the floor and were overwhelmingly overruled. They also filed a civil suit and were told by the court that neither the judiciary nor the executive can interfere in the internal affairs of the legislative arm.
“The Senate president recognises the sundry problems bedeviling our nation today – food insecurity, devaluation of the naira, inflation, unemployment, failing national infrastructure, insurgency in the North-Eastern part of the country, restiveness in the oil producing areas, and general insecurity, among others – and believes that finding solutions to them should be the priority, at this period, for every individual in government, not the pursuit of narrow political objectives.
“That is why these needless distractions will do nobody any good. In fact, it will not help in delivering on the promise of bringing positive change to the lives of our people who voted for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last elections.
“The Senate President does not see what value this current attempt to shut down the Senate by dragging its presiding officers before a court for a phantom allegation of forgery will add to the attempts to solve the problems confronting the nation.”
In assuring his traducers of his resolve to fight to the end, the statement said, “Dr. Saraki will, however, explore all legal options necessary to ward off this fresh case of persecution and distraction”. - Today.ng
PARIS, JUNE24, 2016: (DGW) THE Police in Imo State on Thursday confirmed an attack on Shell pipelines in at Awara , Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State.
Confirming the attack to our reporter in Owerri, the Imo State capital, the police spokesperson in the state, DSP Andrew Enwerem said the report of the attack on Shell facility got to his office on Thursday but could not ascertain the extent of the damage.
Mr Precious Okolobo, spokesman for SPDC said “the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP), which runs through Awara, Imo State at the Assa-Rumuekpe line, has been shut for repairs since June 8, following a leak at Okolo launch, Bonny in Rivers State.
“We are investigating the reported incident at Awara’’, he said.
However, residents of the community who confirmed to our reporter said the thunderous explosion took place at about 5:30 a.m. with huge flames billowing from the blast into the sky.
ExxonMobil’s deal to secure some oil blocks in Nigeria is under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, according to documents obtained by The Guardian of the United Kingdom.
ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, was said to have secured the lucrative oil rights in 2009 by beating out China’s fourth-largest oil producer for access, despite apparently underbidding its rival by $2.25bn.
The Guardian said a letter addressed to an ExxonMobil’s subsidiary from the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources showed the acceptance of a 2009 bid of $1.5bn for a 20-year lease on the Oso, Ekpe, Edop and Ubit oil fields, which produce about 580,000 barrels per day between them – close to a third of Nigeria’s crude oil production of about 1.8 billion bpd, according to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Sunrise Power & Transmission, which was then a consortium of Nigerian and Chinese interests that included the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation, bid $3.75bn for the same rights, according to a letter from Sunrise to the President.
The deal was said to have been reported to the Nigerian authorities by the Chairman of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, Lanre Suraju, who said he was passed documents related to the deal by a “concerned citizen” after his June 2015 petition to investigate the bid was made public. Suraju was the recipient of a letter dated August 17, 2015 in which the authorities confirm they were investigating the deal.
The Guardian said the documents were given to it by the international watchdog group, Global Witness, which said it had confirmed the investigation with the EFCC, adding that the anti-graft agency said it could not comment on the existence of an investigation, though Suraju said that as of last week, “the EFCC has progressed impressively on the matter”.
It was said that an internal memo signed by executives of the NNPC showed Exxon’s local subsidiary, Mobil Producing Nigeria, originally tried to acquire a 25-year licence to receive billions of dollars of oil for just $75m, saying they had expected the price for the lease renewal to be “millions not billions.”
The Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) yesterday said it lost 4,533megawatts (Mw) to gas constraints on Wednesday.
For vandalism of gas pipelines that resulted in the gas shortage and 182Mw line constraint, the electricity market would have supplied 6,387Mw to its customers on June 22.
“On June 22 2016, average energy sent out was 1716 MWh/hour (down by 138MWh/h). The reported gas constraint was 4533MW. The reported line constraint was 182MW. The water management constraint was 0MW. The power sector lost the estimated equivalent of N2,263, 000, 000 on June 22 2016 due to constraints,”the daily industry summary NESI posted on its website yesterday explained.
It was however learnt that for the past two days, the sector has been recording zero megawatts in the last .
But the document that our Abuja correspondent stumbled on yesterday said the generation companies produced power. “Kainji generated 224Mw, Jebba 314Mw, Shiroro 186Mw, Egbin 111Mw, Sapele I 50Mw, Delta 256Mw, Omotoso I 21Mw, Geregu NIPP 102Mw, Sapele NIPP 30Mw, Ihovbor NIPP 23Mw, Afam IV 103Mw, Ibom 90Mw, Omoku 34Mw, Egbin ST6 99Mw, Paras Energy 27Mw, and Gbarain 46Mw.
The remaining 12 power plants generated zero Mw on the day under review.
ABUJA—Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, has given Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, five days within which to retract the story that she offered bribe to convicted U.S lawmaker, Williams Jefferson, over the Halliburton scandal or face legal action.
Legal representatives to Mrs. Buhari, in a warning letter sent to the governor via courier on Wednesday, said: “Our client has referred to us statement made by you and published on the 20th of June, 2016 (and other subsequent days) concerning and pertaining to her person for necessary action.
“The said statement, which was caused by you and your agents and widely circulated and published in various media platforms: print, electronic and online such as Premium Times of June 20, 2016, contains very wild, unfounded and false allegations and imputations against the person of our client.
“Specifically, in the said statement credited to you and signed by your Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, you, inter alia, stated as follows:
‘’Even the President cannot claim to be an angel. The estate he built in Abuja is known to us. His wife was indicted over the Halliburton Scandal (sic). When that American, Jeferson, was being sentenced, the President’s wife was mentioned as having wired $170,000 to Jefferson.
‘’Her name was on page 25 of the sentencing of Jefferson. We can serialise the judgement for people to see and read. “Take note that unless you and your agents meet our humble demands within five working days of the receipt of this letter, we shall take all necessary steps within the contemplation of the law to seek redress for our client.”
Ismaila Alasa and Mary Ekpene signed the letter on behalf of the law firm representing Mrs Buhari. Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, could not immediately confirm or deny if Mary Ekpere & Co. is, indeed, the solicitors to Mrs.
Buhari. Mr. Fayose had on Monday evening distributed a statement which contained excerpts of court documents sourced from the United States Department of Justice website. In the statement, Mr. Fayose said Mrs. Buhari was an accomplice in the bribery scandal that landed Mr. Jefferson in jail, saying he added the link as a proof.
Although an Aisha Buhari was mentioned in the case files, those who investigated the matter have, however, said that the said Aisha Buhari was an impostor and not the wife of the President.
Two former chairmen of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, have come out within the past two days to say Mrs. Buhari had no connection with the Jefferson bribery scandal.
In separate interviews with Premium Times on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, Ibrahim Lamorde, the immediate past chairman of the EFCC, and Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer head of the agency, said they carried out extensive investigation into the case during their respective tenures and established that the woman named in the scandal was an impostor of the president’s wife.
Mr. Buhari himself had in the past stated, categorically, that he had no connection with the Aisha Buhari in the Jefferson scandal, who is also said to be based in the United States. - Vanguard
PARIS, JUNE 24, 2015: (DGW) A new militant group has emerged in the Niger Delta named ''Asawana Deadly Force of Niger Delta. DailyGlobeWatch reliably gathered.
The new group amongst other things demands that President Muhammadu Buhari without delay grants them ''Niger Delta Republic''.
ADFND has threatened to cripple the nation's oil industry in the next couple of days unless their demands are urgently met. Below is the satement issued by the group's commander Olomubini Kakarakokoro, a.k.a No Mercy:
“Except our demand for Niger Delta Republic is granted, without further notice to the Federal Government, we shall proceed to bomb Bonga field flow station, Asaba- Onistha Bridge, Third Mainland Bridge and other major bridges in the Southtern part of the country, just for a start.
“The Federal Government should as a matter of urgency, withdraw all the military check points from the riverside areas of the Niger Delta, else we shall proceed to match against any baby military formation in the region without further notice.
“We are most dreaded, deadly and dangerous group in Niger Delta. Our team is comprised of specialists in different fields of war, and is poised to win the struggle for a Niger Delta State. Our struggle is not for monetary benefit or the so-called monthly N65,000 amnesty stipend. It is for the liberation and the development of the Niger Delta region.
“We therefore, warn every other group or persons as regards the fake dialogue process embarked upon by the Federal Government to know that they are not doing that for us. We are taking over from our brothers, the Niger Delta Avengers.
“As we speak all preparations and plans are on ground to strike and bring down the crude oil production to 0%, irrespective of the of the military presence in the region. The Federal Government will hear from us.”
(The Sun) - Former Minister of Petroleum, Prof Tam David-West, has taken a swipe at the agitators forrestructuring of Nigeria, saying Nigerians are the ones that need a change of attitude.
In this interview, he advocated that people who have oilblocs should be mandated to use at least 25 per cent of their gross incomes to develop the area of their operations.
Nigeria came to existence in 1914 when the Northern and Southern protectorates were amalgamated. The country got her independence on October 1, 1960. This is 2016 and many people have been agitating for restructuring of the country with argument that Nigeria is poorly structured and that is why things are not working the way they should. What is your take on this?
First, I am happy that you started going down memory lane about our history. We have to know where we are coming from to know what we are talking about. By the grace of God and the goodwill of my country, I participated in drafting the 1979 Constitution of Nigeria. I was among the 50 that drafted it. The problem with Nigeria is not structure. Nigerians should restructure themselves. It’s like a bad carpenter quarrelling with his tools. I feel very annoyed about it. As a nation, we are hypocritical, very selfish and self-serving, even among the intellectuals.
Now, those people that are talking about restructuring, saying if we don’t restructure Nigeria the country would collapse and die are indirectly saying we should divide Nigeria. They are not bold enough to say, “Let’s forget Nigeria and disintegrate it.” They are so timid and so intellectually dishonest. They use the word as a euphemism for saying they don’t want Nigeria to exist. Why? In 1914, the North and South were amalgamated. In 1960, we had independence; between now and independence we have got four or so constitutions. The last one was 1979 Constitution, which every one praised as best, even the Chief Justice of Nigeria then said the same thing. However, I disagree with some things in the 1979
Constitution. For example, the constitution says that Nigeria is a federation. The Federal Republic of Nigeria with 36 states, and the Federal Capital Territory should be treated as a state in all considerations; that is the constitution in black and white. The FCT should be treated as a state.
Let me be personal. Prof. Ben Nwabueze, a constitutional lawyer, was one of us. Now, has he written to protest that the Federal Capital Territory is not treated as a state? We drafted the constitution, 50 of us. The drafting was done by the legal team. He was one of the people that drafted it. Now, the Federal Capital should be treated as a state, but Prof. Nwabueze has never criticised it. Now, we have 108 senators, that is, 3 senators per state. But the Federal Capital Territory has only one senator; by right they should have three senators. Has he ever written to criticise it?
Are you saying the FCT should also have a governor instead of a minister?
Has he (Prof Nwabueze) ever written to criticise it? All these people talking about restructuring have to be objective. We have to be objective in everything. We cannot be subjectively objective. I respect Prof. Nwabueze, not only because he is one of us, but also he is a senior, international, very outstanding lawyer. Has he ever written or protested that what we are practising is not in the constitution.
The FCT should have three senators; it should be treated like every other state. I am saying this to show you how we are not serious.
Now, we come to the restructuring palaver; those that are talking about restructuring, deep down in the utmost part of their minds, they are not bold enough to say let Nigeria not exist. As it is now, we started with three regions, then the Mid-West was created politically to break the back of the West. It was against Awolowo to cut down his empire. They carved them out and made (Sir Dennis) Osadebe, who is an Igbo, the leader there. I am tracing this to show that all along, what we have been doing is personal. When we begin to think about Nigeria as Nigeria, then everything will fall in place.
From the four regions, we came to 12 states by (Gen Yakubu) Gowon. Why did he carve it out? Gowon created states not necessarily because of restructuring Nigeria. He created states to break Ojukwu’s back. What he did was to take the oil producing non-Igbo speaking people away from (defunct) South Eastern Region. So, what Gowon did, I like it. I praise and commend him for it. He took the oil producing parts of the Eastern Region, which are non-Igbo and gave them Independence as states on their own, 24 hours before Ojukwu formally declared secession. By doing that, what has he achieved? It’s in the books. Whatever I am saying, I have documents to prove them. Why did he do that? By taking the non-speaking Igbos of that region to be independent on their own? As a state, he made them loyal to Federal Government and not Ojukwu. Immediately that was done, the oil was taken away. Without oil, Biafra couldn’t have been declared. What would they have used? Palm oil that doesn’t sell anymore? The crude oil was in these states that used to be South Eastern then. Then, Murtala Muhammed took us to 19 states. (Gen Ibrahim) Babangida started with 21 states, and 30. (Gen Sani) Abacha made it from 30 to 36 states. If you make every village a state, Nigerians will still have minority issues because they are using this argument of restructuring very loosely; that if there is no restructuring Nigeria will collapse, which is not true.
You said the agitators for restructuring of Nigeria are getting it wrong. Is there nothing good in restructuring Nigeria?
I am not saying they are having it wrong. I am saying that they are not intellectually honest and politically sincere. If you say that our problems are due to the fact that we are not restructured, then I say we are wrong. Some of them even suggested that we should scrap the states and go back to regions. When the government put infrastructure in place, the people would see that something is going on. Roads, schools, hospitals are being built and job opportunities are being opened; that is the only way to solve it and not by bribery.
Have you ever seen a country that has independence and wants to go back to being non-independent again? What type of political magic can you use to say Rivers State, Cross River should go back to Eastern Region? What kind of magic will you say that Ogun State, Oyo State will forget that they are no longer states, that they should go back to Western Region? So, it’s intellectually dishonest and it’s not possible.
It’s not restructuring that is the problem; it’s we Nigerians. There is no country in the world that is homogenous. We have come together as Nigeria. In fact, the name Nigeria was given to us by Sir Lord Lugard’s girlfriend, who later became his wife.
Nations are made by the people. Nations are not made by constitution that brought people together. In Nigeria, we have different backgrounds, and cultures. Does Nigeria wants to be one nation? If the answer is yes, let us find out how to be one nation and not accuse anybody. For Nigeria to be a nation, it requires the commitment of the people in the geographical space.
They will tell you that Chief Awolowo said that Nigeria is a geographical expression. They will quote this to support themselves and talk about restructuring. Which nation is not a geographical expression? It’s because the nation has committed themselves to be together as a nation, they will say. Chief Awolowo said Nigeria is not a nation but a geographical expression; but they forget to add also that the same Chief Awolowo, who served as Minister of Finance under Gowon, was the best Minister of Finance Nigeria had. Nigeria fought 30 months of civil war without borrowing one naira.
Somebody even mentioned Mongolia, saying Mongolia was restructured and how can Nigeria not be restructured? Stupid. When young men read it, they will say yes, that is the point. Whoever says that is ignorant. Mongolia was a communist state, where one party was allowed. The President was not elected; he was appointed. What is the capacity of Mongolia to Nigeria? Mongolia, before restructuring, was a one-party state. But people agitated and it was restructured to multi-party and the President was elected by popular vote. Some intellectuals brought out the example of Mongolia out in the newspapers. When you read it, you will say they have done well. It was very shallow.
Somebody came to Africa and said the problem the continent has is that we don’t build strong institutions but strong individuals. Somebody also replied him by saying that it is people that will build institution. So, What …(Cuts in)
It was (President of the United States, Barack) Obama that said what
Africa needs not strong leaders but strong institutions. But Buhari said that we need strong men to build strong institutions. The same people are saying Nigeria should be divided into ethnic groups that these regions or states are too many. Also, this is intellectually flawed. Why? Have they told you how many ethnic groups we have in Nigeria? We have 374 ethnic groups. If you say that Nigeria is divided into diffeºrent ethnic groups, to be independent, you are talking about at least 374 to 400 different units in this geographical area called Nigeria. It is not possible. The unity
of Nigeria is non-negotiable. The same people should decide if we are together or if we split it up. Nigerians should restructure themselves and not say we should restructure the country.
America has got presidential system for over 200 years and it’s still going on. We started the Nigerian system a few years ago. Our constitution has been amended over three times and they are even talking about amending it now. But Americans have used theirs for over 200 years.
Look at another aspect of it; we have 109 senators; our senators earn more than Obama. You will be surprise that a senator in Nigeria earns about N25million a month. I have phoned three people and they confirmed it. This is a country that cannot pay 18, 000 minimum
wage. So, they say we don’t need presidential system; that it’s too expensive. It is you Nigerians that are too expensive and extravagant and reckless. Nobody forced presidential system on us. They are campaigning how officers of the National Assembly should have life pension. It is crazy. In pension, workers contribute their own part to it.
There are agitators in different zones of the country, such as Niger Delta Avengers, pro-Biafra groups, Boko Haram and so on. Is it not possible that true federalism would put an end to the agitation?
The agitators will still be there because we have not addressed the fundamental problems. You don’t quell these agitations by force of arms or bribe, giving them money. I know some of the militants that were taken to Abuja. They put them in Nicon Hilton Hotel, all expenses paid for. That official bribery cannot stop it. Why do they agitate? They are agitating against injustice. I am from Niger Delta and I identify myself with their cause. Their cause is good. But how did Niger Delta start? Originally, politicians used Niger Delta militants and dumped them. Then, they became monsters. Boko Haram had political undertone. So, these groups will continue if we have true federalism, that is when states have more power than the centre. The problem will be solved if they have development goals in these areas. We have the case of Niger Delta aggravated because that area produces the bulk of Nigeria’s money, but it is the most neglected.
The states in the Niger Delta usually receive higher allocations from the federation account. But people from the region have been complaining that they seem not to see the meaningful impacts of such allocations as being expended by governors in the area. What is your take on this?
Before now, every state controls its resources. The derivation formula was brought by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He said the oil belongs to the Federal Government and that is what the constitution says. Minerals belong to the Federal Government. So, the mineral producing areas should have a percentage they will get and the other goes to the Federal Government. They should look at the revenue and derivation formula. Before they are giving them per cent. Every money goes to the federation account from where they share. When I was a minister, I used to represent the President in the monthly allocation meeting.
The mineral producing states should increase the percentage of their derivation. They should look at how much money mineral producing area should have. I am saying this because we have other minerals than oil. That is the problem I have because I am from the Niger Delta. Oil is a waiting asset. It cannot stay forever. In the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Saudi Arabia can roll 11 million barrels a day. They had to build a reserve. But oil is a wasting asset. It will finish one day, whether we like it or not.
So, we from Niger Delta should tread softly. We should press our rights and get if within the context of the federation. If we destroy all oil facilities, the foreign partners that are producing oil in Nigeria are producing oil all over the world. Nigerians cannot man the oil industry. If the foreign investors pull out of Nigeria, the oil industry in Nigeria will collapse. Who are going to suffer more? While other areas can go into agriculture, we cannot go to agriculture. We have no land. How much fish will you kill to be eaten?
Are the allocations received by governors in the Niger Delta being judiciously used?
No. The militants should have two targets – state governors and Federal Government, not only Federal Government. But what have the governors done with the allocations. The state governments are not doing well, almost all of them.
There is a stand-off between the Niger Delta Avengers and other groups. What would you proffer as a lasting solution?
You don’t win the war of insurrection by force. The agitators, whether in the North or South, why don’t you subtly approach them without noise and identify people you can talk to. You don’t have to negotiate. You can approach it by pure public relations – meeting these people through people that they respect. And they will state their grievances, which you know some of them. It can be done by dialogue, appeal to reasoning. They should say they agree with all or most of their grievances, but these are the implications of your approach. Tell them the consequences, if they continue to blow up oil pipes, if they continue to make the oil industry not workable. Tell them the consequences? While the Federal Government will lose money, the oil companies will pack out of Nigeria. Then, what happen to us?
The media was awash recently over allegation that majority of the oil blocs in the Niger Delta are owned by the northerners…(Cuts in)
It is a lie that northerners own 80 per cent of the oil blocs in the Niger Delta.
Can you shed more light on this?
When I saw the figure, I had to phone people. I have left oil for about 30 years, but I have a lot of connections with the oil industry. In fact, it is not even conceivable that northerners own 80 per cent of the oil blocs in the Niger Delta. I know that it cannot be true. But quite a few people from the North have oil blocs. Some of them are very extravagant and loud about it. Is there anybody from the oil producing area that applied for oil bloc and was denied for being underserved? I know at least one or two people from Kalabari in Rivers State that own oil blocs. So, the percentage cannot be true.
But if there is any indication that people from outside that area have more than equitable control of oil blocs, then they are calling for trouble. I know at least two persons from the north that have oil blocs, but they are too extravagant and pompous about it. If I am a minister, I will cancel some of the contracts.
You said it is incorrect that the 80 per cent of northern has oil blocs in the Niger Delta. What if the figure is correct?
If it is correct, there will be conflagration. If it is discovered that 80 per cent of oil blocs in the Niger Delta belongs to people outside Niger Delta, everything should be done to stop it until we have equity. The persons that have them should voluntarily return them to the federal pool so that we can re-share them equitably. In fact, the people that have oil blocs should be mandated to use at least 25 per cent of their gross incomes into the development of the area.
The agitators for restructuring of Nigeria have been calling on President Buhari to implement the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference? Do you see the recommendations as solution to the challenges facing the country and what advice do you have for President Buhari on the conference?
There is nothing in the 2014 national conference that is strange or so intellectually superior. All of them have been there. If you go to the archives, it is there. So, that document is not a magic wand to move us forward. Buhari will not implement it.
Are you saying Buhari should not implement the recommendations of the 2014 national conference?
I know he is looking at it. Just like I have been saying on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), that bill should not be implemented the way it is. If they take that bill as it is, you will create more problems for Nigeria. I said the government should set up a body to look at it. The bill gave too much power to the minister because they were doing it to please a former Minister of Petroleum. How can a minister award oil blocs without reference to the President? Is that the bill we ought to have? It is the same thing with the 2014 National Conference. Some of the recommendations from the conference are not really new; they are in the 1979 Constitution. Should we go back to regional system? People say the 2014 National Conference prefer federation; it is in the 1979 Constitution.
The reports of the conference also recommended state police. When you make states autonomous, the state police become agents of the government in power. We had the state police in the past. Why did we remove it? It was because the state government used the state police as a coercive organ to suppress opposition. There are a lot of things that we can do together if Nigeria remains one. I believe in true federalism. The centre is to powerful because some of the people that are complaining are secretly encouraging it. After all, they are gaining from it. I don’t want to buy the idea that it is ideal because many people are gaining from it. Also, some people are talking about northern domination of the country. When I was in primary school, the North it was southern domination. But why did the South leave its domination for subservience? For instance, after the second military coup in Nigeria, a Yoruba man, Brigadier Babatunde Ogundipe, was the most senior military officer and he was to succeed Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi. He was to become Head of State. But do you know why he decided to be High Commissioner in Britain? He asked a very junior army officer to do something, but he defiled the order. What did the southern senior army officer do to discipline that junior officer that defiled him? He could not do anything. He chose to be High Commissioner, instead of becoming Head of State. The South allowed itself to be conquered.
What advice do you have for President Buhari on returning Nigeria to the path of true federalism?
Buhari will not bring Nigeria to true federalism. Nigerian will bring Nigeria to true federalism. If you expect Buhari to say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, dear countrymen, today Nigeria is a true federation,’ don’t expect such to happen. Nobody can do it. Nigerians should assert that by the constitution, we are a federation.
How do you want Nigerians to go about bringing Nigeria to true federalism? Who will bell the cat?
Nobody will bell the cat. Everybody will bell the cat. We have a fundamental document of the state, which is the constitution. The constitution has said Nigeria is a federal republic. If a particular government in Abuja is not implementing that, people should stand up and force the government to respect the constitution. It has been done in many countries, where they have a change of government.
Here in Nigeria, every public office holder swore by the constitution, that they would obey the constitution. If the constitution says we are a federation, in which case the central government cannot be too powerful. If somebody is taking your rights, you have very right to protest.
President Buhari just returned from a medical trip from London. But many people have been criticising him for seeking medical care abroad, saying the action showed that the health care system in Nigeria is not okay. What is your take on this?
I am a very proud Nigerian and I love this country. But sometime some things happen that make me ashamed that I am a Nigerian. I am very close to Buhari and everybody knows. I wrote two books on him that I sold in millions. Part of the proceed was spent on Buhari Project for Nigeria. Before he left for the medical trip, some people rumoured that he had died. When I saw Femi Adesina (Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity) thanking people that wished Buhari well, I know that many people did not wish him well. Now, why are we so negative? The President is sick, then he travelled out. You didn’t bother to find out what we’re the circumstances that made him to go.
One of the great economist, who I respect even made a fun of him, saying, ‘No wonder, he had ear problem and that is why when we are talking to him, he won’t hear. Is that good? Your President had a persistent chronic ear infection, and you an economist wrote to make a fun of him. Is it good? I phoned one of the editors and told him this is obscene. On the health care system, how did he go abroad for treatment? Did Buhari say he wanted to be treated in London or he was recommended to be treated in London? My investigation showed that the doctor that was treating him in Nigeria found that the infection was persistently not yielding to treatment. It is not because the doctor is not qualified; he had done everything he could. He then recommended him to a consultant in London to examine him – ear, nose and throat. Buhari never said he has ear infection and he wanted to go to London for treatment. He was being treated in Nigeria for a long time.
There is the question that they have better medical facilities abroad. We have brilliant doctors. But if brilliant doctors don’t have facilities to work with, what would they do? If the medical facility in Nigeria is low, is it the fault of Buhari or the successive governments? If the standard of education is low would you blame Buhari or the successive government? We have killed everything. The only thing that matters in Nigeria is getting cheap money, build houses, marry wives, go to musicians and they play song for you. So, it is shameful.
It is shameful that Number One citizen had to be flown abroad to see a consultant. But other heads of states do the same thing. What about former President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin? Did he not go to America for attention?
The last time you granted The Sun an exclusive interview, you said it was possible to sell petrol from N40 against the current N145 pump price, if hidden charges were removed. Things have not changed since then. Do you still maintain your position or it has changed?
I am expecting Buhari to do something about it. In the interview, I mentioned things being added to the pump price of petrol. What I did not put there is insurance. The marketers put insurance on the pump price of fuel. Why should NNPC buy petrol in dollars to refine for you? The oil belongs to the country. NNPC is not a trading organisation. There are two major things government should consider; one, government is not a trading organisation of invest, profit and loss. Two, government exists for the people. The constitution is clear; sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria. The government is relevant to the extent that it is satisfying the people. Government exists to answer the needs of the people. The happiness the government should give to people as a welfare all depend on the economy.
Oil is now the mainstay of the economy. NNPC is an organisation to service the people. It has been in partnership with other companies to drill oil. Then, they kept their own share, part of which they refine and sell to you. So, why should they buy that oil at dollar rate.? The government should first accept that they are there to serve the people and should not deny the people everything that they should give to them as welfare programmes.
There is no reason NNPC should buy oil in dollar and refined it for you to be sold; that is why the price is high. Let us find out how much it costs to drill a barrel of oil. It used to be $2, but it has changed. It has gone up to between $20 and $30. NNPC should not pay for the crude oil they refined for the country more than the price of producing it. Crude oil is here. Refineries are here in the country. NNPC is here. Fuel stations are here. But they are selling oil to NNPC at international price. Government has to sit down and look at a lot of fundamental things that should be changed. The interest of the people should be paramount, and to make the people comfortable should be paramount; that is the role of the government, not profit and loss or investment and profit. I will not respect any government that does not have this as the centerpiece of its administration. Any government that does not put the interest of the people first, does not ensure that people are happy, I don’t belong there.
I have said it many times that Buhari did not accept there is subsidy. Subsidy is fraud. Something is wrong with the system and it should be looked into carefully. They would bring oil from Port Harcourt to Lagos and they would say it is from overseas? The most important thing is that government should sit down and reconcile itself to the fact that government is not trading organisation and government exists for the people. They should change the modus. Nigeria is a great nation; we can be greater still if we love Nigeria. We have many politicians and a few statesmen. When Nigeria gets more statesmen that politicians we will fly like kites. What is the difference between a politician and a statesman? A politician thinks about next election, but a statesman thinks of next generation. A politician only needs the election; he is not interested in the country. But a statesman thinks of what he can do so that the next generation will be happy.
Then, public office should be made very unattractive. I don’t see any reason a senator should earn more than a professor; a professor does more work. I met a senator in Port Harcourt, who has not read the constitution. What is the senator doing in the lawmaking arm of government? It is obscene and nobody has queried it. Senators that cannot approve N18, 000 minimum wage for workers per month are going to approve N25million for themselves. It is obscene. They are also talking about pension; it is obscene.
The Benue Elite Development Network mourn and sympathise with the entire catholic community, the Idoma nation and the Adeyi’s family of Ogbadibo Local Government on the death of Rev. Fr. John Adeyi, Vicar-General, Oturkpo Diocese and Parish Priest of St. Bernard Parish, Ugwu-Okpoga.
The news of Rev. Adeyi’s abduction and subsequent murder came to us a surprise. It is quite unfortunate that we now live in a world where God’s anointed ones have become the targets of heinous crimes. The slain Reverend Father was a perfect gentleman who dedicated his entire being to the service of God and humanity. This is a clear case of man’s inhumanity against man. We ask the Almighty God to grant the soul of the departed, eternal rest and give those he has left behind the fortitude to bear this great loss.
We are calling on the Inspector General of Police, other security agencies and the Benue State government to carry out a detailed investigation into this trend of kidnapping, which has been particularly targeted at Priests of Idoma extraction following the kidnap of another Otukpa born Priest, Rev. Fr. Julius Gospel Inalegwu, a Catholic Priest with Kano Catholic Diocese, who was reported to have been abducted in the early hours of yesterday in Kano State. It is worthy to note that this action is capable of jeopardizing the peaceful coexistence of the state and as such, we demand that the perpetrators be brought to justice so as to nip this ugly development in the mud and to make the society a safer place.
The primary responsibility of any government is to protect the lives and properties of her citizens. We are worried about the spate of crime across the state as our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters now lie in wake for fear of being attacked by the dreaded herdsmen or being kidnapped. We are tasking the Governor Ortom led administration to enhance on the security apparatus in the state because it seems the amnesty program is yet to rid the society of arms and ammunitions.
Comrade Omaga E. Daniel,
Public Relations Officer, BENNETWORK.