[ Masterweb Reports ] - Abia State Governor, Chief Theodore Orji, has inaugurated a 7- member reconciliation committee to reach out to aggrieved members of the
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state after the recent party primaries.
The committee which is headed by former National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor has the task of bringing genuine reconciliation of all aggrieved members of the party at all levels across the state. Inaugurating the committee at the executive council chambers of Government House, Umuahia, Governor Orji who said the task before the committee is extremely urgent charged them to ensure the completion of their assignment within two weeks.
He said that the tension generated by the recent primaries of the party requires seeking amendment to keep the party united and stronger, hence the need to harness the followers.
The aim of the exercise, he said, "is to manage all avoidable lapses and resolve them amicably."
He stated that in elections some are bound to fail but that that should not affect the peace in the state and stressed that he is committed to peace.
Responding on behalf of the others, the chairman of the committee, Prince Ogbulafor commended the Governor for his peace initiative and pledged to support him to achieve his aim in record time.
*Photo Caption - PDP logo
[ Masterweb Reports ] – Abia State National Association of North America (ASNA), an association of Abia indigenes in the United States commenced their Abia 2014 free Health Fair and Medical Mission on December 15 after lengthy preparations stretching over seven months. Their medical team comprising of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other professionals are visiting locations in the three senatorial zones of the state where they diagnose and treat patients. The team is divided into three groups namely Team Alpha (to cover Abia Central), Team Delta (to cover Abia South) and Team Omega (to cover Abia North). Patients needing surgery from all centers are....... Read More
*Photo Caption - Dr. Christian Ike, ASNA National President
[ Masterweb Reports: Uchendu Precious Onuoha, Masterweb Special Correspondent reports ] - “Fading away like the stars of the morning, loosing their light in the glorious sun-thus would we pass from the earth and its toiling, only remembered by what we have done”. Horatius Bonar (1808 – 1889). When Horatius wrote this song, he deeply thought about death, the end and leveler of all men. There was a hero whom we remember today for the things he did. Three years has gone byesincethe demise of a great man who lived from November 4, 1933 to November 26, 2011. One of the greatest lgbo, and Nigerian ever to grace the planet earth. A man whose mere mention of his name could provoke lightning and thunder in the sky and could make the rainbow to appear in the cloud. He was the lion of the tribe of Igbo. A hero you would dare to enter into the lion´s den or walk into the valley of the shadow of death when you remember he was with you. The late Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ikemba Nnewi , Ezedioramma, and Eze Igbo Gburugburu was a hero of his people. In life he was the great Iroko tree. Even in death he towered above all. After death his greatness did not diminish as his name still rings bell.
Ojukwu was born with a silver spoon but he shunned to be dressed with the prince’s apparel and put on long robes and dwell in the palace of the king, but choose to identify with the poor and down trodden. His love and commitment for Ndigbo may never be equaled by any other. From 1966 -1969, Ojukwu,s love for Ndigbo compelled him to put his own life on the line to stop a genocide and annihilation of his own people, but endured a gruesome civil war when he would have lived in the affluence of his father’s wealth. Rather he stripped himself all these and sacrificed all to defend his own people. “Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends”. (John 15: 13).
A fast moving intercity train full of passengers was on its way from one city to another. Not knowing the danger on the way. The bridge to its destination has collapsed. A man who saw the danger ahead of the train stood on the way before the hazardous point shouting and signaling the train to stop, but the train would not stop. The man was taken to be mad instead. Realizing the train wouldn’t heed to his warnings as it approached nearer, he threw himself on the railway and was crushed by the train. His action suddenly caused the train to stop. And the passengers came down wondering why the man should do that. But just few meters away from the scene, they sighted the collapsed bridge. They now realized they were headed to destruction if not for that man’s action. Those who realized that the man sacrificed his life to save them wept for their hero. They gathered his remains, each holding a piece saying, this is the remains of he who died for me. Ojukwu was to Ndigbo like the man in this story.
Heroes out of love die for the cause they believe in. And to say that Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, a man who studied history and made history was an Igbo hero who believed in the cause of Ndigbo and stood in the gap for his people until death is like stating the obvious. Permit me to use this medium to pay tribute to my hero, a man I subscribe to his ideals, vision, and philosophy. Though he is gone yet he lives in me. The late Eze Igbo Gburugburu was like a mustard seed that grew to be a giant tree whose large branches offered shelter and became a sanctuary for birds of the air. Many of today’s Igbo now people and politicians rode to greatness through his wings. But many have turned the other way and have shunned the stepping point from where they ascended, yet have not kept their promise and loyalty to uphold the legacy of the hero.
As the third memorial anniversary of one of the greatest Igbo hero that ever lived is recently been observed by his widow, family, and those who recognize and acknowledge what he stood for, I would like to recall some excerpts from his speech in commemoration of his 64th birthday at the main bowel of the prestigious National theater Iganmu Lagos. To those who may have ascended to greatness through him but now seem to dash the board and to the generality of Ndigbo here his voice saying;
“Because of you, I fought a three year bitter war
Because of you, I impoverished myself to buy you protection
Because of you, I stood while others crouched
Because of you, I endured thirteen years of bitter exile
Ndigbo I have paid my dues”.
Indeed Ojukwu paid his dues for Ndigbo, and you owe him no better honour than to immortalize him by upholding his legacy. There was a hero.
*Photo Caption: Chief (aka People's Servant) Charles O. Okereke( left ), Late Chief (General - rtd.) Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu( right ).
[ Masterweb Reports: Dr. Deborah Nelson writes Tinubu ] - 1. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was imprisoned on trumped-up charges by Hausa Fulani controlled Federal Government of Nigeria [FGN] because they could not manipulate him. However, following the rebellion by Eastern Region against FGN and likely secession of Western Region from Nigeria, Chief Awolowo was released from prison and appointed Federal Commissioner of Finance and Vice Chairman of Federal Executive Council [FEC]. Because of Chief Awolowo’s sincere and selfless contributions to the fatherland, Western Region did not secede and the Civil War was brought to an end earlier than it would have been without him. But when General Mohammed overthrew General Gowon in 1975, he dropped Chief Awolowo as Federal Commissioner of Finance and abolished the office of Vice Chairman of FEC. The question is, if the military could work with a civilian Vice Chairman of FEC during the civil war, what genuine excuse did late General Mohammed have to abolish it after the civil war? Next to this was the barefaced rigging of 1979 presidential elections by FGN in favour of a Fulani Grade 2 teacher, Alhaji Shehu Shagari. In summary, Hausa Fulani politicians jailed Chief Awolowo on trumped-up charges because they could not manipulate him, they later released him from jail so that he could assist them to keep Nigeria united for them to plunder her resources and finally dumped him unceremoniously the moment they achieved their aim.
2. During Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s administration, Chief MKO Abiola used his Concord Newspapers to relentlessly denigrate Chief Awolowo while singing praises of President Shagari’s government to high heavens. However, when Chief Abiola wanted to contest for presidential ticket against Alhaji Shagari on NPN platform, he was derisively advised to forget it because, according to Alhaji Umaru Dikko, ‘presidency is not for sale’. During Babangida’s transition program, he won the presidential elections on the platform of SDP, but was disallowed from exercising the mandate because he was not a core north Muslim. His attempts to claim the mandate led to his unlawful imprisonment and mysterious death in prison. As if these were not enough, his wife, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was also assassinated.
3. General Olusegun Obasanjo reluctantly assumed power as a military Head of State following assassination of General Mohammed. He knew that if he should openly express interest to replace late General Mohammed, core north military officers would definitely waste him. During this period, real executive powers were exercised by Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, late General Shehu Yar’ Adua. As a nominal Head of State, General Obasanjo presided over state sponsored manipulations of the presidential elections and Judiciary in favour of Alhaji Shehu Shagari in 1979. Following the death of Chief MKO Abiola in prison and the need to pacify your people, core north reached out for Chief Obasanjo, believing that they would be able to manipulate him as before. They first wanted to assassinate him to pave way for his Vice, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku to takeover power. However, they decided to test likely response of your people by spreading rumors of his assassination. Core north was shocked to note that your people were solidly behind Chief Obasanjo, though they did not vote for him. Their plan to impeach him was also vehemently resisted by your people. In their misguided determination to disgrace Chief Obasanjo out of office, core north introduced Sharia Laws in their states and this led to massive destruction of lives and properties of Christians in the north. Consequently, Muslims and Christians do not trust each other and there is no major town in the north today that both Muslims and Christians live together in peace.
4. A contingent of the army of old Oyo Empire under the command of Aare-Ona Kakanfo Afonja was dispatched to Ilorin to protect Igbomina Yoruba people against Nupe slave raiders by Alafin Aole. Afonja later rebelled against the Alafin and declared Ilorin independent of old Oyo empire. In order to sustain his independence, he invited a Fulani charm maker, Sheik Shehu Alimi to relocate to Ilorin from Kuwa so that he could benefit from the Sheik’s spiritual powers. He recruited slaves from everywhere, including old Oyo Empire into his army and granted them enormous powers because he believed the slaves would be more loyal to him than his soldiers. However, Aare-Ona Kakanfo Afonja was later murdered by the slaves when he tried to bring them under his control. When Sheik Alimi died, he was succeeded by his son, Abdul Salami. With the support of the slaves that killed Aare Ona Kakanfo Afonja, Abdul Salami eliminated all perceived obstacles to his ambition to transform Ilorin into an Emirate. In 1823, he declared Ilorin an Emirate, installed himself as the Emir and pledged allegiance to Sokoto Caliphate. Today, none of your people can become Emir of Ilorin, and their traditional rulers are under the Emir, a descendant of itinerant Fulani charm maker because of Afonja’s treachery and inordinate ambition.
5. The real APC’s presidential candidate for 2015 presidential election will be either Buhari, Kwankwarso or Abubakar Atiku, all Hausa Fulani Muslims. Amongst these three crown princes of APC, you prefer General Buhari [rtd] with yourself as the VP. Sir, have you made any genuine effort to know the ‘man’ General Buhari [rtd]? As Head of State, General Buhari [rtd] promulgated Decree 4 to cage press freedom because he felt the press wrongly accused him of stealing billions of US Dollars as a Petroleum Minister. He also promulgated a retroactive Decree which he used to execute Mr Bathlomew Owo and two others by firing squad for an offence they committed even before he became Head of State. In his interview in 2013 with Desert Herald, a Kaduna based Weekly, he promised never to either forget or forgive Chief Obasanjo for undisclosed reasons. In his penchant to burn fingers that feed him, he planned to court marshal General Babangida on trumped-up charges even though it was General Babangida who installed him the Head of State after risking his life to topple the Shagari’s government. After the military coup, ex President Shehu Shagari, a Fulani Muslim like him, was placed under a house arrest in a well furnished Guest House with unfettered access to good things of life while the ex Vice Presdident, Dr Alex Ekweme, a Christian of Igbo extraction was dumped in Kiri Kiri maximum security prison with common criminals. Sir, it may interest you to note that the Buharis regard the rest Nigerians as ‘infidels’, all Yoruba Muslims inclusive. As the Chairman of PTF, over 70% of all major projects successfully executed by PTF were located in North West Geopolitical Zone. He ordered National Security Organisation [NSO] to kidnap Alhaji Umaru Dikko in London and bring him dead or alive to Lagos. Is it proper for anyone to borrow N27.5 million from a Bank without collateral and invest the whole money in politics as he did?
6. Sir, you are the undisputed kingmaker in APC and all core north politicians look up to you for direction and favour. You used this leverage to force Kwankwarso to install the disgraced Governor of Central Bank , Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Emir of Kano. Driven by hatred for the Obasanjos and desire to emerge as the leader of your people, you masterminded the installation of Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal as Speaker of Federal House of Representatives, thereby denying your people the post zoned to them by PDP. You joined forces with Hausa Fulani Muslims, the most conservative ethnic group in Nigeria to form a political party, APC, whose only objective is to wrest power from President Jonathan at any cost.
7. Sir, as you enjoy the ride on tiger’s back and crying more than the bereaved, please always note that one day the tiger will do the ‘needful’. I have made some efforts above to draw your attention to what Hausa Fulani people did to your people on more than three instances. You may wish to find time out of your very busy schedules to ponder over these questions. Why did core north military officers install Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon as the Head of State instead of the most senior military officer then from the south in line with military tradition? What led to Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s imprisonment? What led to Chief MKO Abiola’s imprisonment and subsequent death in prison? What were the reasons behind the creation of Mid-Western Region and Ekiti State from Western Region and Ondo State respectively? What led to the transformation of Ilorin to an Emirate. Why is it that all Yoruba traditional rulers in Kwara state are under the Emir of Ilorin, a descendant of itinerant Fulani charm maker? Why was Oyo Empire moved southwards to its present location? What was the cardinal reason that propelled General Babangida to overthrow Major General Buhari? Sir, no successful leader ignores lessons learnt from history.
8. In Julius Caesar written by Williams Shakespeare, Julius Caesar ignores warnings from a soothsayer and Artemidorus because of arrogance. He thinks nothing can hurt him because he, ‘Caesar’, is more dangerous than danger. This ‘greater than thou’ attitude of Julius Caesar leads to his assassination by Brutus and his fellow conspirators. Sir, here is a portion from Artemidorus’s letter to Julius Caesar for your necessary actions ‘THERE IS BUT ONE MIND IN ALL THESE MEN……..IF THOU BEEST NOT IMMORTAL, LOOK ABOUT YOU, SECURITY GIVES WAY TO CONSPIRACY’. Apart from these Hausa Fulani politicians, there are many credible northerners APC can field as its presidential candidate in 2015 and Sam Nda-Isaiah is one of them. I doubt if you will give this a serious thought because Sam Nda-Isaiah is a Christian. Please learn from what Hausa Fulani Muslims did to Aare Ona Kakanfo Afonja, Chief Awolowo and Chief MKO Abiola just to mention a few and adjust accordingly. Sir, if you decide to ignore this advice, please be prepared to go into self exile again if General Buhari [rtd] becomes president of Nigeria because he will definitely use you to demonstrate his resolve to fight corruption. Security gives way to conspiracy, Senator Tinubu, be wise and watch your back.
Dr. Deborah Nelson
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports ] – General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), 72-year-old Nigeria former military ruler will run against incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 presidential election as he clinched All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket after an all-night vote by 7,214 delegates at the party convention in Lagos. Buhari came in first with 3,430 votes, former vice-president Atiku Abubakar second with 954 votes, Governor Rabi’u Kwankwaso third with 974 votes, Governor Rochas Okorocha got 624 votes to place fourth and Sam Nda-Isaiah, Publisher of Leadership Newspapers 10 votes to come fourth. Sixteen votes were declared invalid and voided.
Atiku Abubakar, Buhari’s most prominent challenger conceded defeat as his votes soared towards 3,000. "Congratulations General Buhari. The delegates have spoken, you fully deserve the victory," Atiku posted on his Twitter account.
President Goodluck Jonathan, 57, Wednesday night, won the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket at the party’s convention. Masterweb was on ground to cover the convention and would publish a report soon.
*Photo Caption - General Muhammadu Buhari (retd)
[ Masterweb Reports: Nosa Osazuwa reports ] - On Wednesday 10th December 2014, the presiding magistrate of the coroner court investigating the cause of death of persons in the Synagogue building collapse, Oyetade Komolafe, submitted that the court lacked the powers to hear the application filed by The Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), through its lawyer, Olalekan Ojo, praying the court to stay proceedings pending the determination of the same application by the high court.
Magistrate Komolafe, citing various examples, observed that the coroner’s court was purely a fact-finding one that was not intended to witch-hunt any group or individual. He thereby dismissed the application and ruled that proceedings would continue on Friday, December 12, 2014: “I have said it several times that this court is purely on a fact-finding mission and is not intended to prosecute anybody or group. We are all here to find out the real cause(s) of the death of persons in the building collapse. I wonder why it being painted to look as if we are trying to prosecute anybody. The coroner’s court id different from the regular court and would not entertain any application that is not within its powers to do so. For this reason, the application brought by the counsel to The SCOAN is hereby dismissed. We will reconvene on Friday, December 12, 2014 to continue proceedings”.
Meanwhile prominent Nigerians have continued to storm the court premises in solidarity with The SCOAN and its Founder, Prophet T.B. Joshua. At least three traditional rulers were sighted within the court room. They included: BaaleOnipetesi, HRH. Chief Olusegun Akinola, BaaleAnifowose, HRH. Chief KayodeOkeyemi II and the Ologudu of Oguduland, HRM. Oba WaidiAyinlaFashola.
Many other groups were seen carrying placards and calling on the Federal Government as well as the Lagos State Government to leave Prophet T.B. Joshua alone and dig for the real cause of the building collapse. Prominent among these groups was the Osun State Youth Forum and a coalition of other youths from the entire federation.
Nosa Osazuwa ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ) was present during the court proceedings.
*Photo Caption - Prophet T. B. Joshua
[ Masterweb Reports: Madubuko Hart reports ] - In what was misconstrued as an “Open Letter to the President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan: Call T.A. Orji Of Abia State To Order” but rather a slight to the exalted office of the president, a faceless and
relevance-seeking organization called Human Rights Organizations’ Coalition of Nigeria (HUROCON), wrote that the president should call the cheerful governor of Abia State, Chief T.A Orji, to order.
And you may ask why. It is obvious that the group is envious about the many projects that the governor has been executing in the state, hence the call that he should be advised against that move so that whoever that would succeed him would have some projects to do.
The waste-of-time called a petition was published by one of the trendy online publications.
Those who have been following the governor would attest to the fact that he has been following equity and justice in the state to give every section in the state a fairplay and level ground.
But the group wrote: “The bird-eye view of the just concluded Ward Delegate Primaries in Abia State revealed schemes overtures for the continuity of T.A. Orji in Power in Abia State and worst still, for the entrenchment of Orji political dynasty in Abia State.”
In essence, this is an oversight of the group, because the governor never imposed any delegate against another in the state. Unmistakable is that before the emergence of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu as the PDP’s governorship flagbearer in the state on December 8 2014, neither the governor nor his government said that they had an anointed candidate. They allowed the people to make their choice, and here is Dr. Ikpeazu.
It is the ruse of the opposition and detractors alike to say, “Dr. T.A. Orji will go to the Senate, displacing Distinguished Senator Nkechi Nwogu. Dr. T.A. Orji Jnr, the son of T.A. Orji will go to Abia State House of Assembly to become the Speaker. Dr. T.A. Orji Mrs., the wife of T.A. Orji called Odochi Orji, the First Lady of Abia State, will go to House of Representatives. Dr. T.A. Orji brother from Obingwa, the son to the Sister of T.A. Orji married to an Ngwaman, will become Governor of Abia State.” These are mere propaganda. Nwogu the group was talking about quietly withdrew her intention from contesting in the PDP governorship primaries because she loved peace and had always exhibited that. So, what was the group writing about?
It would behoove on the president to note that some groups and persons who are into this invective against Governor Orji are just envious about his achievements in the state and they are doing everything they could to discredit him and his government. The truth is that the governor is open to all just as he is open to his family members. He had nothing against any contestant before, during the primaries and after. Let this type of “an open letter” not be given the attention it does not by any means deserve.
Hart reports from Lagos, Lagos State.
*Photo Caption - President Goodluck Jonathan
[ Masterweb Reports: Olusola Daniel reports ] - Over the past few days, I have read and listened to various discussions about the state of the Nigerian economy, and it is disheartening to see some supposed opinion leaders feeding the public with half-truths or blatant lies all in a bid to achieve their sinister objectives. One would expect an issue as crucial as this to be taken with all seriousness rather than being used as an opportunity to score political points while launching ill-advised missiles at well-meaning public servants.
Like King Solomon said in the Holy Writ, sensible people foresee trouble and hide from it, but gullible people go ahead and suffer the consequence. This aptly describes what we are experiencing in Nigeria today. Like a sentinel watching over the economic affairs of our nation, the finance minister has repeatedly warned of an impending shock. This apostle of prudence, who set up the Excess Crude Account to build up savings for the nation, has continued to caution the political class against profligacy while advocating for healthy savings.
These moves by the finance minister, in addition to her consistent calls for cutting down recurrent expenditure and setting lower budget benchmark in light of global economic realities, have met with stiff resistance from our lawmakers at the national assembly and our all-powerful state governors. Is it not therefore surprising that some folks would say she didn’t sound the alarm early enough when she has been drawing attention to these realities for more than three years now? Shouldn’t we rather question the governors and legislators who have depleted our reserves by constantly laying heavy demands on our oil earnings to fund their profligacy?
While commenting on the issue in April 2012, the minister noted that fiscal federalism has made it difficult for the country to save. “It is difficult getting governors to agree to $1bn savings for the SWF. We had the state governors saying they can only allow $1bn. Now they say it is illegal and the country is not able to save. In the excess crude account today we have left only about $3.6bn. Should the oil price drop today we have no cushion because $3.6bn for this economy is not enough to take us to any length of time,” she said.
Rather than criticising madam Okonjo-Iweala for everything that goes wrong, we should commend her for working hard to stabilise the economy. She has continued to defend the interests of the average Nigerian in spite of stiff opposition from those who would rather squander our commonwealth on self-aggrandisement. Even in this difficult period, she has advanced measures to protect the poor through the retention of critical infrastructure projects and building of social safety nets. Another commendable move is the planned luxury tax on private jets, champagne and other luxury goods such that the rich would also bear the brunt of the economic downturn.
When one objectively examines the measures that the minister has announced for managing the impact of declining oil prices, one cannot but appreciate her diligent efforts to help the nation cushion the shock. Having helped other countries such as Malaysia which have gone through similar challenges, she has brought her experience to bear to ensure that Nigeria has a robust strategy to confront the situation. As a technocrat, the minister of finance has not ceased to condemn profligacy and wasteful spending by politicians. We ought to team up with her in this fight rather than lending unwitting support to political figures who want to destroy confidence in the economy to help pave way for their selfish ambitions especially as we approach 2015 elections.
Olusola Daniel ( Email: email@example.com ), political observer and advocate for community development reports from Lagos, Nigeria.
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Chuks Ibegbu reports ] - I read with great concern the write-up entitled above from one Yusuf Jubril in the Vanguard Newspaper of 5th December, 2014.
The writer wrote characteristically like a typical 'Born -to-rule' actor from the North. His effervescent pooh pooh is one of the reasons why this country has remained where it is today. He is one of the zealots that want the status quo to remain in Nigeria just to satiate their insular and domineering tendencies.
Though President Goodluck Jonathan is not necessarily my fan, nor do i cherish the lack of internal democracy in the PDP, as witnessed in the last congress it held across the country, I am disturbed that the kind of mindset Yusuf displayed is still extant in Nigeria today.
Rather than addressing issues that bother on good governance which every Nigerian desires, this micro chauvinist took all his time to pillory the entire South and reel our tons and tons of what he claimed the North posses over the South.
He encaged himself in that same faulty analogy and analysis some of his colleagues with the same mindset and mentality in the North have often bandied about -- such controversial issues as the North being more populated than the South, the middle belt christains not relevant in the Northern calculus, and allotment of divine right to leadership to the core North, whatever that means, the North being benevolent enough to have allowed power to go down South in 1999 etc.
He also used perjorative words on Gen Aguiyi Ironsi, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and some past Southern rulers whom he considered incompetent against his saintly past Northern rulers of Nigeria. What a warped reasoning. Is he from the moon if I may ask. He now exhibited that posturing some of his types and ilks up North are known for and which has never helped matters ----' Buhari in concert with Bola Tinubu will win in 2015 so that their God-given right to rule other Nigerians forever will not be disrupted again.
This is the kind of reasoning and posturings that make some of us that have some liking for Buhari's disciplined mien to shudder and rethink. If Buhari by any modicum of chance comes to power in 2015 it appears that the dyed in the wood rabid chauvinist like Yusuf would dictate and define the trajectory of power and governance then and one can imagine what will happen to those he now disdain. These are the kind of people that will hold Buhari in bondage and see everything only through the prism of the the core North and not even the entire North.
This is the burden, and a big one that Buhari must unfortunately bear and which will be a serious minus to his Presidential bid despite his taciturn mien.
Even if one does not cherish the present happenings in the country, any discerning mind would see why an unbiased Nigerian(North or South) would rather President Jonathan is re-elected in 2015 than a regime change that would only emphasis and heighten North /South and religous dichotomy.
Part 2 to be continued
BY CHUKS IBEGBU
A PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND POLITICAL ANALYST
REPORTS FROM ABUJA
*Photo Caption - Map of Nigeria
[ Masterweb Reports: Issachar Odion reports ] - I am no economist. Then again, neither are a whole lot of the people who have written or spoken in recent times on the economic issues prevalent in our nation today. We are, however, stakeholders; after all, it is our country. We live here, earn a living here; our children attend schools here and what have you. Even those of us who are not resident in the country have family members who are, and probably some investment or the other here. So, we are all stakeholders.
Since the first alarm was sounded on the falling prices of crude oil, many of us have been following the news ardently, silently hoping for a reprieve of some sort. It has been several weeks since the first news broke, and though several actions and reactions have taken place since then, the narrative of the general populace has not changed; we are still in the ‘finger pointing’ phase. Two points arise from this phase which require that we take a look at the facts before us critically rather than allow ourselves be swept away in the flood of what at first may appear as ‘public opinion’, but now plays as a well-crafted plan to distract and derail the good people of this dear nation from the things which are true and right.
Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a technocrat, not a politician. She was not appointed as finance minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy because she was owed a political favour, but because the presidency deemed her the right fit for the job. Based on her past service to the country, it is not out of place for me to state that she is not one associated with reckless spending. In fact, it was during her first stint as finance minister that the Excess Crude Account was set up.
Secondly, while she endorsed saving; other parties, wielding political might, undermined her efforts. In April 2013, she openly, and on more than one occasion told us that the Federal Government was compelled to share over $16.4billion revenue accumulated in the excess crude account to the states because the governors argued that it was unconstitutional and even illegal for the Nigerian republic to have savings stashed away for some imaginary rainy day. She was also quoted saying that, “It was a fight to even get $1billion paid into the SWF (Sovereign Wealth Fund). We managed to save $20billion the last time, but now the governors are saying it is illegal. So, the country is not able to save, and what is left in the Excess Crude Revenue Account today is only about $3.6billion”.
The truth is, surviving the current decline in oil prices and its negative impact on national and global economies would have certainly been made easier had we enough funds shored up. Remember, it had been done before during the 2008/09 crises. The government was able to augment its budget deficit and continue with most of its development programmes with revenues from a healthy Excess Crude Revenue Account.
Had Dr Okonjo-Iweala not, in the past, expressed her concerns, reservations and angst about what another economic meltdown without sufficient funds in the ECA would do to us, then she should naturally be our first target for finger-pointing. But she did, several times over, she did. Yet we refuse to blame the people who squandered our future and have faced the one woman who became an enemy of state governors and legislature in her bid to secure the economic future of this country.
The Minister has always been an advocate of the need for the country to continue to create safety nets in the form of savings in order to cushion any potential negative effects of the volatility in the international oil market on the domestic economy should there be any further depression in the global economy. Just as she has repeatedly stressed that increased efforts to diversify the country’s economy remains the only viable option open to pursue in the face of dwindling revenues from crude oil exports as well as increasing volatility in the global oil market.
With elections fast approaching and our current situation becoming fertile ground for politicking, what is needed now is a collaborative paradigm shift. We need to look beyond the problem to the possible solutions; we need to shift our focus from blaming the finance minister and her economic team to focusing on the things that matter. In truth, as stakeholders, everyone has a role to play. Let us not be carried away by the opinions of naysayers as we look towards a better economy in the years ahead.
Issachar Odion ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ), a post graduate student reports.
*Photo Caption - Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala