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11/24/11

Permalink 03:04:00 am, by ifeatuagbu, 1699 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News

*Nigeria: Free Healthcare Programme in Niger Delta

By Ifeatu Agbu

Like the Biblical woman with the issue of blood, who probably had a fibroid, Mrs Azuka Okwuosa endured the pains and shame of carrying a 20 kilogramme tumour for twelve years. Respite came for the poor widow when the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, in conjunction with Pro-Health International recently moved its free medical mission to Oguta in Imo State. Today, Mrs Okwuosa has been relieved of her 20 kg burden and the public ridicule that came with it. As she recuperates, she now hopes to live a normal life and naturally, she could not find enough adjectives to qualify the benefits of the NDDC’s heath mission. In summary, she said: “NDDC is the hand of Jesus Christ, the saviour in my life.”

Mrs. Okwuosa is only one out of many poor people in the remote communities of the Niger Delta who have been rescued through the intervention of the NDDC’s free medical missions. For five days, the Oguta General Hospital was a beehive of activities as the sick and their caring relatives thronged the place for medical attention from the visiting volunteer medical team.

Mr. Gilbert Ikeagu, who brought a relative for treatment said he was delighted that the free healthcare programme came to Oguta at a time he was almost giving up hope on how to save his aunty who was very sick but could not find money to go for medical treatment. “You can see the joy in our faces. We are glad the NDDC has come to our rescue,” he said.

Of all the development programmes which the NDDC has undertaken in the Niger Delta, the one that brings tremendous relief and makes immediate impact on the lives of the rural people is the free health care programme. The free health missions have gone round virtually all corners of the Niger Delta, healing the sick and giving hope to the medically challenged.

At Oguta, the free medical train did not only provide medical services, it also gave a tremendous boost to the facilities of the General Hospital. The commission donated a mammogram for the benefit of breast cancer patients, an ambulance, a 30KVA generator and other important equipment to the General Hospital, as part of its effort to provide good health care service delivery in the Niger Delta region, Obviously happy with the gesture, the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Mrs. Osato Arenyeka, said the equipment will help improve mother and child healthcare. She said the free health care programme was a combination of many activities, which include carrying out of HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, healthcare promotion and malaria roll-back campaign. “Other health programmes include vaccination of 10,000 children against typhoid fever and 3,500 children received 3 doses each of hepatitis B vaccination,” she said. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt

For the roll back malaria programme, insecticide-treated mosquito nets were given to children, pregnant women and nursing mothers in all the nine states covered by the NDDC. In 2010, 141,500 mosquito treated nets were distributed through the free rural healthcare programme. This has continued as the free health programme moves from one community to another.

The NDDC boss commended the Imo State Government, Imo Foundation, Pro-Health International and the Imo State Ministry of Health for their support in making the mission at Oguta a success. Speaking in the same vein, Professor Anthony Gozie Onwuka, the Secretary to the Imo State government, commended the NDDC for the equipment especially the Mammogram, which he said was the first of its kind in the state. “I thank the NDDC .We appreciate the much you have done so far with the human capital development programme. We appreciate what you are doing, and please continue to remember us and come again,” he said. Professor Onwuka who hails from Oguta said that the NDDC deserves to be given the title of “Ozo Igbo Ndu”, meaning saviour of Igbo people, for its efforts.

Also expressing satisfaction on behalf of the Imo State government, Dr. Obi Njoku, the commissioner for health, urged the people to show appreciation to NDDC for partnering with the state government to bring quality health services to them at the grassroots. He said that with the kind of equipment provided by the commission the status of the general hospital has been enhanced.

What happened in Oguta has been replicated in several other communities in the Niger Delta. According to Dr. George Uzonwanne, who is coordinating the NDDC free medical missions, there is virtually no community in the region that has not benefited from the free Health programme. He said that so far, 2.5 million people of Niger Delta have benefited from the free health care delivery by the commission since its inception.

He gave kudos to the Non Governmental Organisations that have been partnering with the NDDC in this critical intervention in the health sector. Giving an example, Dr. Uzonwanne said that Nelpan korea Medical Centre, one of the key partners, provided free healthcare services to 15 communities of the Niger Delta, last year alone. During this period, he said, they attended to over 60,000 cases, carried out a total of 863 general surgeries, 112 gynaecological surgeries, 3281 dental surgeries, 640 eye surgeries, distributed over 5000 reading glasses and over 12,000 insecticide treated nets.

Dr. Iko Ibanga, the coordinator of Pro-Health International, which started the free health mission with the NDDC in Odi, Bayelsa State, ten years ago, said that its medical team from the US volunteer their services and indeed pay their bill to come to Nigeria. Two days into the mission in Oguta, Dr. Ibanga said that the medical team had already attended to 800 patients and performed over 40 surgeries. The Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan, facilitated by the NDDC, had underlined the fact that Niger Deltans live in very difficult conditions. The very comprehensive document clearly showed that the people are trapped in a web of environmental problems. It stated that their fishing activities are inhibited because the waters are polluted. According to the document, frequent oil spills and pipeline fires ensure that their farmland does not yield much. It identifies illiteracy, ignorance and unemployment as factors inflicting poverty and deprivation on the people. The extreme poverty combined with the absence of potable water has also induced the widespread of preventable diseases.

Gas flaring, which has been going on in the region for about 50 years, is another challenge identified as having very harmful effects on the people. The gas flares release a cocktail of toxic and green house gases into the atmosphere, endangering the lives of the people. Health workers say without equivocation that gas flares could cause respiratory diseases, cancer, acute leukemia and a variety of other blood-related disorders. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing some major cities, including the Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)

This dismal outlook must have caught the attention of the international community, as the World Bank warned in a study it conducted on the Niger Delta region that “an urgent need exists to implement a mechanism to protect the life and health of the region’s inhabitants and its ecological systems from further deterioration”. Other environmental experts agree with this finding, and note that the region is the least developed in Nigeria. This is also evident in the fact that health indicators in the region are way behind the national average.

Flowing from the regional development Master Plan, some quick impact programmes were identified. Of course health was high on the list of priority programmes to be tackled. Thus, the NDDC swung into action to redress the situation. The commission launched awareness campaigns in the local government areas, through public advocacy. Similarly, it adopted several strategies in the effort to provide healthcare services for the people of the Niger Delta. It has for ten years sustained the very popular regional free health care programme in partnership with Pro-Health International and other Non Governmental Organizations.

In the words of a former Managing Director of the NDDC, Mr. Timi Alaibe, “the free healthcare missions, which has taken us to the nooks and crannies of the Niger Delta, has indeed opened our eyes to the incredible level of poverty and diseases we hitherto never imagined existed.”

Dr. Uzonwanne, who drives the free healthcare programme, said that the mobile health care delivery system could not adequately meet the health care needs of the rural communities. This, he said, was evident from the large number of patients that swarm the centres for the free healthcare programme. “In almost all the cases, the benefiting communities pleaded with the health teams to stay with them for a longer period to be able to attend to their various medical problems,” he said.

The high demand for the healthcare services is understandable given the poverty-induced desperation of the people. The comprehensive health missions provide all forms of medical services, ranging from general consultation, laboratory services, general and gynaecological surgeries, as well as eye and dental services. Apart from the free medical missions, the NDDC has committed substantial resources to providing physical infrastructure in the health sector across the Niger Delta. In addition to building health centres, hospitals and residential quarters for medical personnel, the commission is also equipping these medical facilities. According to dr. Uzonwanne, the commission supplied medical equipment to 19 hospitals and health centres spread across the region last year.

The beneficiaries included Umunneochie Health Centre in Abia State; Ikot Udo Primary Health Centre in Akwa Ibom, Otuabagi Primary Health Centre in Bayelsa; Ukem-Odukpani General Hospital in Cross River; Ugbomoro Primary Health Centre in Delta; Ughotun Primary Health Centre in Edo; Eziorsu Primary Health Centre in Imo; Imoluma Comprehensive Health Centre in Ondo and Bodo General Hospital in Rivers State. It is no secret that the bane of our rural healthcare delivery is the lack of basic medical infrastructure and equipment. Thus, the intervention of the NDDC in this regard is like rubbing the much-needed soothing balm on our ailing healthcare delivery system. What is more, these health facilities give the necessary backbone to the free medical missions that have been sustained for one decade uninterrupted.

Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( ifeatuagbu@yahoo.com ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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11/23/11

Permalink 11:29:00 am, by callmeike Email , 1883 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, World News, African News

*Nigeria And The National Celebration of Failure

By Ikechukwu Enyiagu

If there were no truths, then there would be no responsibility, no accountability; no justice, and no God. But even among atheists who have lost track with truth, responsibility, and accountability, strong demands for justice still echo throughout the horizon. The danger of atheism-even when hidden within the walls and alters of churches and mosques-is that it strips one of the will and the ability for a life of responsibility and accountability. Worse still, it drains from the one who believes in nothing the right, whatsoever, to demand for responsibility, accountability, and justice from those upon whom the affairs of the people have been thrust. And as faith in nothing secretly eats deep amongst these self-propelled atheists, amongst those who insist on a “One Nigeria,” a god is born: Selfishness; selfishness now becomes the god. But, to them, they still have no god; they are atheist in their hearts, and whether they are held in esteem in mosques and churches, or not, they can be sure of one thing: they have only themselves to worship. But suddenly, the wind of justice catches up with them and they are, not just no more, but worse than those they have oppressed.

This is the faith of those who have led Nigeria from one doom to another, and those who, even when they are quite aware that there can be no other solution for unity, peace, and progress than a divided Nigeria, still go ahead to confer and receive awards prepared and sealed with the blood of the innocents. This is the fate and end of those leaders in Nigeria who call evil “development,” and call decay, “achievement.” How worse off shall those who seek honor from the hands of murderers be!

Sometimes, most times-even in absolute rejection-, there seems to be evidently reasons to momentarily laugh at “project Nigeria.” The mockery in the tone of my laughter is not, in any way, directed to Nigeria or every-day Nigerian; no, but it’s in every way directed to the blind leaders who, in complete conviction, actually believe they are the best of the fold. They attribute their position as a proof for that, yet they forget the bribes, the compulsions, the blackmails, the threats to life, and the blood spilled and lives wasted in other to sit on those seats; they praise themselves for being elected and, all through their tenure, their election and re-election remain their highest and only achievements. The rest is their puppet-like controlled selves, preparing for the manifestation of their father, the antichrist. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing some major cities, including the Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)

It hurts when I remember all the oppositions and attacks that Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, had to go through in the hands of his enemies, detractors, enemies of the States, and enemies of mankind as a result of his stance on the slavery of blacks. After over one hundred and fifty years, and looking at the man OBJ and his Otah farm, and the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan (a man who grew up in the raw realities of Nigeria and even had to divert his attention and affection to fishes and biology when he lost faith in everything Nigeria and returned to nature), one can only ponder aloud: Were the whites really right when they insisted that blacks should not be treated as equals with them? Looking at how consistent and caring OBJ is to his Otta farm (qualities he lacked entirely as the president of Nigeria the three times he ruled an autocrat), and the choices that the incumbent president has been taking towards everything (from education to power, insecurity to tenure elongation; fuel subsidy to prosecution of obvious guilty politicians, human rights to killing of Christians and Corpers in the North, etc), one wonders: why are blacks their very own enemies? Why do our leaders crave for praise from the west and other places, but give no hoot about the opinions at home?

It can only mean one thing: they have all been marked for the punishment of Herod, Nebuchadnezzar, Gaddafi, and the likes of Assad, whose burning shall be the first. These leaders will not go severely unpunished-even if those who claim to be fathers of all Christians in Nigeria pray and fast for them, day and night. To such pastors and Imams: Your prayers are abominations to God when you cannot tell them openly what the mind of God is. You are as accursed as they are when you tell them that all is well while heaven is angry. To such a man who claims to represent us before heaven but does not represent heaven among us, your eyes shall be shut forever, and your office taken from you and given to another. For God says: “He that will go for me will stand for the freedom of my people, but he that stands for the enemy shall not go unpunished.” Its’ time Nigeria’s religious men and women bypassed those who do everything to bind together again the very veil which was torn from top to bottom at the consummation of Christ’s sacrifice, and sat with Christ himself in the place where no veil and no treachery hinders truth. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing its 36 states, and Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)

Who do we celebrate from the amalgamation to date? Do we celebrate the first and false election, the counter-coup which had nothing to do with the first military coup; the genocide which Nigeria and those who led it will live their existence-here or there-paying, the man Gowon who now lives daily in regrets of what he has caused, military and civilian presidents who had nothing to show but guns, extorted and stolen funds, booze, and women? Do we celebrate those whose only mission in life is to dominate and not to lead; what about academicians who have led and are still leading? Obasanjo came and ruled thrice and left nothing but more decay, disease, loots, and deaths than IBB did; today, he has a farm which does well. Everyone knows that, to have a successful farm, one must posses a mother-like quality. That OBJ, a man who ruled Nigeria with iron fist and impunity for three consecutive times and made Nigeria worse, is able to keep his Ota farm growing and better, tells all the stories there is to tell about Nigeria and its leaders.

We had a president who was a lecturer: Musa Yar’adua. But all he convinced his wife and followers to believe was that, “when it comes to Nigeria, it is the property of the incumbent.” Now, we have another president in the person of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, a man who holds degree in Hydrobiology and Fisheries biology, and a Ph.D. in Zoology, yet he is not close to telling the country that the only way forward is a Sovereign national Conference. Since none deserves it amongst the leaders, maybe, we should look at their achievements: falsehood, bloodshed, looting, bad roads, no water, no energy; failed schools, corrupt privatization, juries and judges swollen with bribe, injustice, bloodshed, etc. Which amongst these should we celebrate? Obviously, neither the leaders nor their legacies are worth celebrating. The Nigerian security agencies are so corrupt that they only go for the innocent citizens or those who, by the actions of the government, were compelled (as with a rope round the neck) to do things they would never allow others do in an ordinary situation; they go after these seemingly helpless people, while those who have sat and are still sitting on the doors of any developments for Nigerians move freely about with their guns, thugs, loots, and blood-stained consciences. When the presidency cannot be protected by the country’s highest and best and open celebration of Independence has become a time-bomb in Nigeria, what do we have, as a country, to award or be awarded if not bribes? It is a shame that the government of Nigeria today really thinks that the way to save face is to celebrate individuals who were never given a single leadership post in Nigeria. The country and those who have turned it into their father’s estate have nothing to offer or celebrate; now another step is being sustained: the bribery of some Nigerians. It’s not just a shame; it’s a decay which shall not remain hidden or inconsequential for long. ( Continues below….. )

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria (2010 - present)

There is no honor in the land, and the government of Nigeria is not in any justifiable position to confer honors to anybody. Honors can only come from hands that have been thorough washed clean and honored; true honors cannot come from dishonorable places just as old wineskin cannot carry new wine. Professor and Elder Chinua Achebe, a man who has brought more glory for Nigeria than those who, with guns, force, and looted money, have ruled Nigeria from time to time, has made and won a case for Africa without having to soil his hands in the blood which keeps all government houses in Nigeria in their places. By his second rejection of the worthless national award, he has shown, once more, a greater concern for Nigeria than all who bribed, forced, threatened, and murdered their way into election and their respective seats. Any man whose self is no god would have followed the path of Achebe; a man who stands for responsibility, accountability, and justice must always seek these before receiving due praise. Prof. Achebe is not a man to be counted amongst the sycophantic crowds that have become the majority of our elders, spiritual leaders, and traditional leaders today.

To those who receive awards from a blood-soaked government, I say this: Even when you do deserve honor, it is an honor you should give yourself-not the honor that Nigeria, as a country, should confer. There are men who deserve honor, and there are governments worthy enough to confer honors. Even amongst qualified governments, there are times to receive honor and there are times to reject honor. But, in the case of Nigeria and all of you, the hand that honors, the honor itself, and the honored have proven to be no leaders to emulate. Finally, it does not matter whether a person believes in God or not, the laws of God always bring justice at appointed times. To demand justice is to accept responsibility and accountability; to accept responsibility and accountability, and to demand justice, it to accept, with all reasonable doubts, that there is a God somewhere, who is Supreme and before whom all are held accountable. When these are considered, one can only opine: Let all those who received award from the government of Nigeria return them without delay, and let every Nigerian speak with one voice in support and affirmation of Professor and Elder Chinua Achebe’s godly and perfect stand: The conditions why awards mean nothing in Nigeria are still standing today-unaddressed and worse. That alone is the only true award in a nation where injustice and evil are crowned.

Ikechukwu Enyiagu can be reached at ike.enyiagu@gmail.com

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11/22/11

Permalink 11:34:00 pm, by admin Email , 866 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, World News, African News

*Nigeria: Governor Obi Splashes N6b On Handover of Schools To Churches

[ News Roundup ]

Awka, Anambra State capital, was agog yesterday when the governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi, handed over a total of 1,040 primary schools back to their original owners, the churches, who were equally given N6B to maintain the schools. The N6B will however be distributed to the affected churches over the next 15 months based on the number of schools owned by each group.

Addressing a mammoth crowd of education stakeholders, elders of the state and the general public on the occasion which held at the Women’s Development Centre, Obi said the handover was necessitated by the level of moral decadence in society owing to what he described as the forceful takeover of mission schools by the government in 1970. ‘The collapse of education in Anambra State is directly connected with the takeover of schools owned by the missionaries, churches and voluntary organisations in 1970. That singular exercise signalled the disappearance of morality and the building of character from our school system. This can no longer be allowed,’ Obi stated.

He said that after consulting with stakeholders he had decided to return all primary and secondary schools taken from the missionaries back to them and expressed the hope that government’s gesture would be reciprocated by the churches so that the school system would be returned to its glorious days. The N6B will be shared among the Catholic, Anglican, and remaining government schools in four instalments. In the first instalment, the Catholic Church which owns a lion’s share of 453 schools will receive over N762M while its Anglican counterpart receives over N498M. The remaining public schools not taken from the churches will share over N489M out of a total of N1.75B.

The second and third instalments will gulp N1.25B each, while the fourth and last instalment will cost the government N1.75B. ( Continues below….. )

Anambra State Governor Peter Obi

Photo Above: His Excellency Governor Peter Obi

According to the governor who assured them that the money was already available and in the bank, the money would be released to the churches after they must have submitted their work plans within 30 days. ‘Let us all resolve today to be positive change agents especially now that we have a government that is ready and willing to work with individuals that can complement the efforts of government for the good of society. What we have done today may not be popular but it is the right decision and we will continue to take the right decisions,’ Obi told the people of the state.

In his speech, the minister of state for education, Ezenwo Onyeso Wike, praised the action of Mr. Peter Obi, describing it as capable of turning around education in the state and bringing back lost moral values. He urged other states to emulate the Anambra State example. The secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr. Ahmed Modibo Mohammed, who said he was a product of mission schools, praised Obi’s action and assured him of UBEC’s continued support. Wike pointed out that states were free to use UBEC’s money any way they wanted and that the commission was bound to give support. ‘The handover of schools by the Anambra State government is a step in the right direction and one that will boost education in the state,’ Wike said. ( Continues below….. )

A policewoman blocks a driver who was reluctant giving them money

Photo Above: L-R Barr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, the Hon. Minister of Education; Most Rev. Dr. Christian Efobi, Archbishop of the Niger Province of the Anglican Communion; Gov. Peter Obi; Most Rev. Dr. Valerian Okeke, Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha Catholic Province; and the National Chairman of APGA at the return of 1040 schools to the missionaries by the Governemnt of Anambra State. - CLICK FOR ENLARGED PHOTO.

Responding on behalf of Catholic bishops, the arch bishop of Onitsha metropolitan province, Valerian Okeke, in an emotion laden voice, assured Obi that his action of handing back schools to their owners was one of the most popular decisions ever taken in the state. In his words, he told the governor, ‘you have written your name in gold and you have wiped the tears of our people. You have rectified the anomalies of the civil war and rectified the fault of past leaders. With this action the church has forgiven them for forcefully taking our schools,’ Bishop Okeke said. In his speech on behalf of the Anglican bishops, the arch bishop of the Niger province and bishop of Aguata diocese, Most Reverend Christian Efobi, said, Governor Obi’s action showed that when the righteous mounted the throne the people rejoiced and he pledged that they would continually pray for him.

The national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Victor Umeh, also hailed the handover of the schools to their previous owners and thanked the state legislature for supporting it. He noted that it had been possible because APGA was the dominant party in the house, thus giving the executive arm the needed cooperation. Meanwhile the Anambra State government has set up a committee to look into the disputed schools whose handover has been delayed. The committee will be chaired by a retired chief judge of the state, Godwin Ononiba.

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Permalink 10:29:00 am, by admin Email , 818 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, South East News

*Nigeria: Governor Obi Does It Again

By Clement Obum

On Monday November 21, a history of monumental proportions was recorded in Anambra State. It was a day all public primary schools in the state previously run by the missions were returned to their rightful owners. We are talking about 1040 primary schools scattered across the state.

As was the case when Obi’s administration handed over about 50 secondary schools to the missions, the new owners will see to the daily administration of their schools while the government will supervise and pay the teachers.

But that is not all. Under this new arrangement, government will spend 6 Billion Naira on the primary schools handed over to the missions. This cover their maintenance and is beside the salaries of the teachers which the state government will be taking care of.

Obi’s gesture is significant as it was the first time it happened in the new Anambra State. It also came at a time when our society is in dire need of moral rejuvenation. In the past we all knew how our parents fared under the tutelage of the missionaries. Discipline and good morals were the order of the day and the result impacted very positively on the society. ( Continues below….. )

Anambra State Governor Peter Obi

Photo Above: Governor Peter Obi

Today, however, the reverse has since become the case. Children have increasingly rebelled against their parents and teachers and the crime rate has continued to soar. This is because no one has cared to address the root cause of the problem.

After handing over some secondary schools to the missions, Governor Obi has observed tremendous signs that the future will be bright again. He is pleased about the way those schools have responded to the change of guards so far and because of this he has been encouraged to go another step by replicating what he experimented with the secondary schools at the primary school level. By so doing, he simply applied the catch them young slogan.

Obi’s current gesture is only a part of the tremendous achievements he has wrought in the state’s education sector. It is an undisputable fact that the education sector has witnessed a revolution under the Obi administration. It is under his administration that secondary school students in public schools in the state saw computers for the first time. The government first provided computer desk tops and later added lap tops to schools. It made it possible for many students, especially those in rural areas, to acquaint themselves with computers and actualise what they had dreamed of but never seeing. ( Continues below..... )

Anambra State Governor Peter Obi

Photo Above: Governor Obi's high performance score symbolized on photo     *Click here to Read Full Story of Gov. Obi’s High Rating

He was the first governor in the state to dig bore holes, provide generators and donate buses to secondary schools in Anambra State. Before then students, especially females, had been at risk each time they foraged for water in town and many of them had been molested in the process by criminal elements.

Obi’s administration has also blazed the trail in Anambra State by building for the first time a classroom of five blocks in each of the 177 communities of the state.

At the tertiary level, the story has been the same. He has positively turned around the fortunes of the state university by helping it to get accreditation in many disciplines. He has equally sunk money into the infrastructural development of the university’s two campuses which were virtually empty before he assumed office and is currently embarking on a massive development of its permanent site at Igbariam.

The Obi administration has today turned the state’s College of Agriculture at Mgbakwu from an abandoned, rodent-infested site to a thriving institution worthy of its name. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Anambra State, Nigeria.

Photo Above: Map of Anambra State, Nigeria.

His government has elevated primary school teachers beyond grade level 14; He has recruited more than 2, 000 teaching and non-teaching staff; he has trained more than 12, 000 classroom teachers and school managers; he has renovated more than 10, 000 classrooms through intervention funds; among other gestures.

It is on record that the first Anambra State library outside the one last built in 1966 is being built in Awka today by the Obi administration.

It is therefore not for nothing that the Obi administration is regarded as one of the most education-friendly governors in Nigeria and the handing over of all public primary schools formerly owned by the missions back to them is a vindication of this assertion.

It is however necessary at this juncture to urge the benefiting missions to justify the confidence reposed in them by not just utilising the funds to be given them by the government very well, but to impact the needed and expected change on the children under their care. To whom much is given, much is equally expected.

Clement Obum wrote from Nnobi, Anambra State, Nigeria.

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11/21/11

Permalink 03:48:00 pm, by lateef lawal, 591 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, World News, African News

*Arik, BA Imbroglio: Lufthansa Owns 100% of BMI, Investigations Reveals

By Lateef Lawal

Contrary to the claim in certain quarters that the British Midland was owned by British Airways and that it was the airline used as fronts to scuttle Arik's slot at London Heathrow Airport, it has been discovered that the claim is a fluke. It was also claimed that the slots in question were sold by BMI to Arik. BMI was also said to be one of the subsidiaries of BA. From investigations by NigerianAviationNews, as at this moment, Lufthansa initially owns 50% and later 100% of BMI which it bought in 2008 from the previous Chairman, Sir Michael Bishop who at the time owned 80%.

Lufthansa is just about selling British Midland (BMI) to International Airlines Group (IAG), which owns British Airways and Iberia. No details have yet been given of how much will be paid for the loss-making carrier. The airlines said they hoped to sign a purchase agreement "in the coming weeks" and complete the deal before April 2012. The sale still has to be cleared by regulators. BMI, which is based in Castle Donington in Leicestershire, operates flights to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. ( Continues below..... )

Airborne Plane

Photo Above: An Airborne Plane

The key issue for regulators will be the extra take-off and landing slots at Heathrow Airport that BMI owns. The acquisition would mean that IAG would have more than half of the landing slots at the UK's busiest airport. Virgin Atlantic, which said it had also made a bid for BMI, is likely to strongly oppose the deal. "British Airways' hold over Heathrow is already too dominant and we are very concerned - as the competition authorities should also be - that BA's purchase of BMI would be disastrous for consumer choice and competition," Virgin Atlantic said.

Geoff van Klaveren from Deutsche Bank said the deal would make a big difference for IAG. "It boosts their slots at Heathrow to 54% share from 45%. Given that no new runways are likely to be built in the South East of England in next 10 years, this is a crucial strategic move," he said. It decided to sell it as the carrier's losses widened. It reported a loss of 154m euros ($213m; £133m) for the first nine months of this year, hit by rising fuel costs and social unrest in some of its destinations in North Africa and the Middle East. ( Continues below..... )

A landing Arik Plane

Photo Above: A landing Arik Plane

BMI also has a no-frills subsidiary called BMIBaby and the Aberdeen-based BMI Regional. BMI announced on 28 October that it was in advanced talks to sell BMI Regional to a UK-based investor group that would continue to run it as an independent airline. British Midland Airways Limited (styled as bmi, British Midland International), is an airline based at Donington Hall in Castle Donington, England, United Kingdom, close to East Midlands Airport, and a fully owned subsidiary of Lufthansa.

The airline flies to destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia from its operational base at London Heathrow Airport, where it holds 11% of all take off and landing slots and operates over 2,000 flights a week. In January 2007, BMI bought British Mediterranean Airways which has enabled it to serve a wider range of mid-haul destinations. British Midland Airways Limited holds a United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority Type A Operating Licence, permitting it to carry passengers, cargo and mail on aircraft with 20 or more seats.

The airline is currently ranked as a 3-star airline by Skytrax.

Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)

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11/20/11

Permalink 03:27:00 pm, by callmeike Email , 2361 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, World News, African News

*To Those Who Claim ‘World Powers’ & 'Democracy Bringers'.

By Ikechukwu Enyiagu

Yes, to those who claim world powers, I write. I write to you even when the seed of the issue on ground has its gained-roots in Nigeria. I chose this title, not because you do not already know the truth in the case of Nigeria, but because it’s important for everyone-not just you-to understand that no one is oblivious of the happenings and of this blaring truth which greets everyone like the air of survival. The title of this piece could have been: “Gaddafi: One Truth In Nigeria,” however, the aim herein far outweighs the truth of the past. Gaddafi is gone but we are still, therefore, the living still has beliefs to choose from before time calls no more. The truth of times has never changed; this time will not be different. The truth of Nigeria lies bare to all before whom truth is the saving grace. This truth which has taken over the influence of Nigeria is this: Disintegration of Nigeria stands as the only true justice which will change Continent Africa and propel minds and wills for the next phase. Much ado has been going on about “project Nigeria,” yet Nigeria’s situation which, invariably, bears evidence on the citizenry, cannot be overemphasized; the need to address Nigerianism has become more resounding as the days roll in and subsequently become history. I write to you, world powers, because, at the end of it all, you have to take a clear stand; only, let it not be too late-even for all involved.

Democracy is the best leadership and government man can give in a world of godlessness. It’s a mockery of what is true and right, yet it serves to remind all that there must be something better, deeper, fulfilling, and everlasting. Democracy tries to maintain peace among men who think that there is no need for God whatsoever. Democracy says: “we all have a say, and we don’t care even if we are sure that our say is borne out of selfishness, greed, and callousness-our rights are to be counted.” Now, that is wonderful because it is the peak of man’s quest for excellence in relationships. However, there is a standard limit for science and it has proven that without godly principles, no human will ever attain complete satisfaction-the quest for rights and wants can only multiply. Yet, democracy serves in it’s time. I still commend the efforts of the likes of the great Abraham Lincoln of the blessed memory for his stand on issues of the slavery of blacks in the days of white men with prevailing dark minds. I also appreciate the gains of democracy in parts of the world where it’s properly practiced. Democracy replaces what will fight peace, that’s why democracy is better than war. And to avoid further degradation which could spur another war amongst the peoples of Nigeria, sovereign-democracy should be established for the peoples living within what is called, presently, The Nigerian Federation. When sovereign democracy fails, how difficult it shall be to have any form of truth in the democratic running of state! ( Continues below….. )

Map of the World

Muammar Gaddafi, the man whose seed of destruction was planted when he took “king of kings” as a name to himself, who damned his people and challenged the world, was not entirely the picture of evil. He had his graces, but selfish leadership is a blindfold of its kind; his almighty-kingship could not reveal to him the times. Nevertheless, in the midst of his vices and demons, he wriggled free and spoke the one truth I’ve heard from him in all my awareness: He said that the only way to settle the matter in Nigeria is to divide it along religious borders. It was alleged that he made two different recommendations regarding Nigeria’s problem, but one thing was clear from his speeches: Nigeria must divide for peace to reign in this part of the world. Leaders who bear ‘honorable’ in democracy were said to have retorted in anger from different quarters, yet they all know he spoke the absolute and inevitable truth. Even at his death, some of these clueless leaders have gone ahead to blame every calamity that happens in Nigerian on Gaddafi; now, they say he is more dangerous dead than when he was alive. The truth is: My questions are: are you being true to yourselves? Does democracy have boundaries demarcating those who should benefit from it and those who should not? It’s clear enough: division (or disintegration, whichever you choose) of Nigeria stands as the only possible chance of salvaging much more of what remains of Nigeria. Over fifteen billion naira are wasted monthly just for the presidency’s foreign security unit, wasteful contracts have gone out to set up CCTVs in every strategic point in places where people who claim to be more Nigerian than others live, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are getting ready to keep surveillance over Nigeria’s borders as means and measures to check the Boko Haram disease.

While these steps are good, they are no solution for any people going through Nigeria’s phase. All these serve as the dividends of the Nigeria-type democracy-wastage of money over matter which solution is simple and clear, and continued and conscious degradation of lives by those very leaders. Evil had been around in Nigeria before Boko Haram branched out. This evil stands fixed at the root of the pillar of Nigeria’s unity. To properly address the challenges of Boko Haram, Nigeria’s oneness must, as a matter of no alternative, be revisited, and proper adjustments made. Two can never work together unless they agree, and as long as agreement remains elusive, progress is only a false dream. The setting of CCTVs, the paying foreigners to guard those who believe death is not coming-and speedily-, the wasteful budget on drones-all these only aggravate matters. Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other states like them are enough lessons for those leaders who claim to have peoples’ agenda in Nigeria. You cannot use force to counter-measure a man who has decided to kill you or die with you unless he has his way, and expect to survive it. The only way is a permanent severance of bonds of oneness.

The Arab world has had a very large share of changes in this century; what has happened, and indeed are yet happening in the Arab world, point only to one thing: Change is imminent and already taking roots. America is in a critical moment of decision; Europe is in confusion, while the Arab world is in painful but indispensable transition. China is fighting for supremacy, while Africa is being prepared as the battleground for powers. Yet, whoever comes in peace must also come in truth; it’s the very case of Nigeria. And in Africa, powers that cannot be controlled for good will become scapegoats. Contrary to economists, it’s not all about the money and power-these fail when they are needed the most, as can been seen in most parts of the world today and yet to be seen in other arrears as well. It’s about legacy, and posterity; it’s about laying foundations of truth-laying foundations in truth. Gaddafi’s defiance and pride made a mess of Libya; Assad’s ignorance will make a bigger mess, if not immediately halted, and Iran’s stupidity is just a suicide mission. My question, therefore, is: Must there be civil wars and deaths before those who claim to have the right leadership and dependable muscles stand for what is necessary? Does Syria have to be engulfed in a civil war before it’s clear that Assad is the enemy of mankind and quickly removed? And must another civil war be recorded of Nigeria before these world powers address what needs to be addressed? Most times, I wonder what the governments of China and Russia truly stand for, what their goals are when they often take decisions which do, clearly, not favor the survival and thriving of mankind. But I can assure man of one thing: except for the Antichrist whose mission and ushering-in events have been predetermined, powers mean nothing except God’s, and those who oppose truths in their pursuit for power are really standing on a hollow ground. By the way, the Antichrist shall only manifest to fulfill his own doom. ( Continues below..... )

U.S. President Barack Obama

Photo Above: U.S. President Barack Obama

Boko Haram has indeed come to stay, as it’s said, and no number of drones can drive them to extinct; if it were that possible, the Taliban would have become history, instead, they grow in leaps and bounds by the day. Al-Qaeda has taken shape in some African countries, and now bonding strongly with their Nigerian extension; the only way to avoid an Al-Qaeda-fully-controlled Africa may be a quick decision to dissolve this false entity which brings no news of joy to anyone from any country all over the world-whatsoever-this entity called Nigeria. So much can be addressed now, and in the case of Nigeria, a break-up is the only way out. It does not have to come to a place where reprisal attacks will be directed against northerners in Nigeria by other citizens, and our Southern graduate children who are faithfully serving Nigeria in the Northern parts of the country must not be entirely wiped off before these world powers realize that a war has been going on- a war against democracy and a war against humanity.

In the 1967 war, truths were silence and the world has not finished paying for that; governments who should have stepped in to do the right thing kept mute, and today, they are paying dearly for it. Churches have remained targets, and worshippers, sacrificial lambs to the god of bloodshed; must every Christian be killed before the UN Security Council understands that what has been going on in Northern part of Nigeria has advanced from tribal/ethnic genocide to a religious cleansing? Is the price of an eventual NATO presence considered cheaper than the prevailing wisdom-than a Sovereign National Conference (SNC), and a disintegrated Nigeria? These questions are directed both to Nigeria’s leaders, and to the World Powers-to those whose words and actions have largely participated in the woes and gains of the now all over the world. Another moment of decision has come for Nigeria’s leaders, and for the World Powers regarding Nigeria: Have the results of a Pakistan, an Afghanistan, and a Yemen of today pleased us so much that a repeat of their story is happily awaited in Nigeria? The speed and determination of Boko Haram can only drive the country to one thing: another civil war. But this time, it will be a never-seen-before experience. NATO/UN’s military intervention has no use for Nigerians. A good NATO and UN leadership would pressure and implement on Nigeria decisions which saves lives and costs before it blooms into another war. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria

Just as Gaddafi voiced out his one truth which many heard, I stand in the division of this entity called Nigeria. Among the things every man who desires growth learns is that change is constant and should be embraced and encouraged. The story of today’s Nigeria has gone beyond regional differences to a religious mission. It’s now a religious mandate and a spirit-goal: An Islamized Nigeria or nothing. Nigeria, as a country, would not be a bad idea if it becomes an Islamic country, because there are so many Islamic countries that are at peace and progressive. However, having an Islamized-Nigerian will only be achievable after the South and those who want out are removed from that false and evil amalgamation. Nigeria was not set up with that understanding or agreement, the amalgamation deal was not sealed with the understanding of a 21st-century Islamic Republic of Nigeria. Opposing this clear revelation or playing politics with it can never go unpunished; there is every repercussion for every negligence and wickedness. Simply waving aside the clear demands of Boko Haram as mere rants would also be rated as negligence of duty, and selfishness on those whose positions hold all responsibility; each has its rewards also. The true picture of a disintegrated Nigeria can never be given those whose god is self. Many leaders in Nigeria have ignorantly assumed that a divided Nigeria translates to weaker groups of new West African states. To them, maintaining a “One Nigeria” is their sacred vow-in life, and till death. But that is evil in clear manifestation; that is the insistence of the enemy of mankind. Contrary to these fears, a divided-Nigeria would actually result to more prosperous and free people, living as understanding and cooperating neighbors.

Since true democracy does not tolerate the selfish and outright wicked choices of the past, Nigeria’s breakup will be the first true step towards true democracy in Africa. South Africans still have the marks of Apartheids to bear in their bodies always, yet they were able to call it history soon enough because there are ‘white-skin’ citizens; those who claim to know better, selfishly, felt more concerned. In Nigeria’s case, it’s black-against-black, and so, all interests, influence, and support from the outside-from those who claim ‘world powers-’ now lie on whose promise has more relevance in their continued insatiability and crookedness. So in Nigeria, it seems, the World Powers resist democracy, but in their countries and other places, they fight to keep democracy. What hypocrisy! What wickedness! To those who claim to be at the top of the world’s stabilization: until you address, and urgently, the matters of Nigeria’s continued oneness,(which, obviously, you are sitting on) you have not made any point; make it now, because time and beauty are fleeting. The beauty of justice is that it comes when it pleases, but man can make a choice now to stand in its arm of favor when it eventually comes. And no matter what happens, there still will be remnants; let the decisions we take today judge us fairly in the days of calamity. Those days are fast coming upon men. The times still speak.

Ikechukwu Enyiagu can be reached at ike.enyiagu@gmail.com

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11/19/11

Permalink 09:25:00 pm, by lateef lawal, 1021 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News

*Nigeria's Civil Aviation--Journey To Transformation or Retrogression?

By Lateef Lawal

The new Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah since assumption of office about five months ago is used to talking tough on her vision for the industry and other sundry issues that ordinarily should have been left for Chief Executives of Agencies under her Ministry to address.

One of such major pronouncements was the remodeling programme of 11 airports in the country.

She emphatically stated in July this year that in three months, that is, by October 2011, at least the remodeling of the four major international airports of Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt would have been completed. Good talk! ( Continues below..... )

Nigeria Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah

Photo Above: Nigeria Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah

October has come and gone, no physically visible re-modelling of any of the airports listed in the first phase of her projected re-modelling can be seen on ground.

One incontrovertible fact is that before the appointment of the Minister, the Management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) has had the plan of carrying out total infrastructural overhauling of old terminals across the country in gradual phases, starting with the major international airports aforementioned.

Next, was the Committee set up also in July, 2011 to look into the problems of high cost of operations by Nigerian registered airlines, especially the cost of Jet-A1 which members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria(AON) complained, was on the high side selling as high as between N180 and over N200 per liter depending on the location from where an operator lift the fuel.

The Minister gave the Committee 30 days within which to complete its job and churn in its report and recommendations to soot the operational 'sores' of the airlines. ( Continues below….. )

United Airlines Airborne Plane

Thirty-day has rolled on to over 90 days, there is yet to be submitted any report nor recommendations to address the airlines' complaints.

The most the public heard of the issue was from the Technical Adviser to the Minister, Mr Victor Oche was that the Committee would soon submit the report(when asked about the report three weeks ago by journalists. How soon after sixty clear days from the initial 30 days directed by the Minister?

Effective administration is not run this way, if at all the Transformation Agenda of the President Jonathan's administration is to be felt in the Aviation Sector.

Before setting one month deadline within which the Committee was to sbmit its report, the Minister ought to have weighed the enormity of the job given to the committee.A leader's pronouncement on issue affecting all of human endeavours must always be his/her unshakeable bond with the people and the environment within which such leader operates.

Taking a second look at the Minister's recent strides and pronouncements, I want to believe that, fresh from being in the saddle, the Minister was unaware of the enormity of what she was into or She must have been deceived by some so-called experts within and outside the Ministry of Aviation in taking some actions not well thought out.

If the re-modelling as earlier pronounced by her had been achieved within the set three months she told the public, it should have been a great feat no other Minister before her had achieved! You talk of MIDAS touch?

Much as one appreciates the good intension of the Minister to put things right, She must be very cautious in making specific pronouncement which from all intent and purposes can not be achieved within the set time frame.

Her recent public outburst on the planned review of concession and lease agreements entered into by aviation agencies, especially the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) before her coming into the saddle is understandable.She deserve commendation on this.

This is because there had been calls from several quarters for such an exercise in view of the apparent lopsidedness observed in some of the agreements but previous Ministers foot-dragged on taking necessary steps to rectify tha anomalies.

However, shock again was the word, when I read an advertorial placed by the Ministry of Aviation in the Nation newspaper of October,17, 2011 tagged "Invitation To Tender".

To quote the introduction of the tender: "In furtherance of the Federal Government commitment towards improvement of the Aviation Industry, the Federal Ministry of Aviation is embarking on improvement infrastructure at some of the Fedral Government owned Airstrips Nationwide".

I was surprised and pissed-off with the word "Airstripes". I had thought it was "Airports". Should improvement of airstrips be the priority of a government that prides and touts its transformation agenda. Airstripes across the country are known to be veritable points from where all sorts of atrocities are comitted in the smuggling of arms and ammunitions illegally into the country by politicians and people that are well connected. Of what urgent economic relevance is an airstrip to the industry and the contry at large today? ( Continues below..... )

A Dana plane

Photo Above: A Dana plane

The advertorial was specifically calling for the invitation to tender for the -Fencing of Potiskum Airstrip-. Again the question that arises from this tender is-What is the economic relevance of Potiskum Airstrip placed side-by-side with the myriad of problems facing the industry? Must the fencing of this particular airstrip be the focus of an aviation minister that is barely five months in office.

The problems of incursion by unauthorised human andanimals onto the sterile areas of all the four major airports of Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt have not beenfully addressed not to talk of other commercially operational airports of Kaduna, Sokoto, Enugu, Maiduguri, Calabar and Jos and several others.

I should reiterate here again that airstrips that dotted the country's landscape are first anf foremost routee used by the super-rich for their convenience and in most cases to smuggle into the country, illegal items. There is more or less no security presence at almost all the airstrips that are even more than the number of funtional airports we have in the country.The must be very cautious of her action and inactions. Aviation industry is much more sensitive than other sectors of the economy.

Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)

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Permalink 12:39:00 pm, by lateef lawal, 694 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, World News, African News

*United Continental Launches Inaugural Flight Between Houston - Lagos

By Lateef Lawal

"Nigeria is open to exploration by foreign investors and closed to exploitation", this was the statement with which the Director General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren early on November 17, welcomed United Continental Airlines inaugural flight from Houston, Texas (US) to Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria.

He said that Nigeria has the market and good environment with which to accommodate investors and that the Federal Government was willing to assist foreign business men and corporate investors, but unfair dealings would not be tolerated in any guise. Saying that the maiden flight of United was historic and the demonstration of the government's resolve to look after the welfare of her citizens at home and abroad, the commencement of daily flights between Houston and Lagos would bring great relief to Nigerians in the U.S and especially in the state of Texas which host the largest percentage of Nigerians in the United States of America.

Dr Demuren who attributed the coming of United Airlines as one of the gains of the attainment of Category 1 Status by Nigeria therefore implored the management of the airline to give their passengers on this route, especially Nigerians the best of service and not to engage in unfair dealings. ( Continues below..... )

Airborne Plane

Photo Above: An Airborne Plane

Also speaking, the Nigerian Ambassador to the US, Professor Adefuye Ibidapo noted that the development was an attestation to the Fedral Government's commitment to improve on the high standard already set in air transport business in the country and also ease foreign investments by opening up to foreign investors. He said he was delighted with the commencement of flight services by United between Lagos and Houston because the State of Texas has the largest concentration Nigerians in the US and these Nigerians had contributed positively to the economy of US in various human endeavours.

Before yesterday,he said it has for years been ardous for Nigerians in Texas to come home through direct flights and had to go to Europe first to connect flights to Nigeria and on many occasions spent a whole day at the European airports to be able to come home adding,:"Now, they will feel comfortable having direct flights from Houston to Lagos and back". Speaking earlier, the Vice President of United Continental Holding, Mr Charles Duncan said he was greatful to the Minister of Aviation,Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah, the Nigerian Ambassador in the US , the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority,Dr Harold Demuren and everyone that have assisted the airline in making the launching of the service a success. ( Continues below..... )

Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos

Photo Above: Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria.

According to him, "Houston, is an important destination for both business travelers, particularly from the energy sector and leisure traffic.At the same time,our Houston hub provides Nigerian travelers with fast and easy connections to destinations across the US and throughout the Americas.The launch of this new route underlines the importance of the Nigerian market to United and we are confident that it will further strenghten commercial and cultural ties between the two nations." The 10,460 km flight is operated with a Boeing777 aircraft, featuring a total of 276 seats-50 in BusinessFirst(business class) and 226 in Economy.Flying times are approximately 13 hours 20 minutes westbound and 11 hours 35 minutes eastbound.

Present at the ceremony today apart from the aforesaid speakers include, Mr Joseph Stafford, U.S Consul General, Mazi Nnamdi Udoh, Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Mr George Uriesi,Managing Director,Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and Captain Edward Boyo, the Managing Director of Landover.

ABOUT UNITED CONTINENTAL

United Continental Holdings is the holding company for both United Airlines and Continental Airlines. Together with United Express, Continental Express and Continental Connections operate an average of 5,717 flights daily to 376 airports across six continents from their hub in Chicago,Cleveland, Denver ,Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark Liberty,San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington DC. United and Continental are members of the Star Alliance which offer more than 21,200 daily flights to 1,185 airports in 185 countries and employs 80,000 staffers in all the 51 States of the US and in many countries around the world.

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11/18/11

Permalink 12:47:00 am, by lateef lawal, 362 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, World News

*BASA Controversies- Truth Should Be Told

By Kolawole Adeoti

I wish to comment on the lingering controversy going round in the aviation industry in the country. If you could recall, there was a move to reduce the frequencies of British Airways to Lagos from 7 days a week to 3 days a week. This action was alledged to have been prejudiced on the BASA agreement with UK. This is a blatant show of shame on the part of our government officials. The critical questions to ask are "Why is it that the government officials remember the BASA agreement when Arik frequencies was reduced at Heathrow?. Is Arik Air a National Carrier? What is the connection of British Airport Authority (BAA) with British Airways? I wonder whether people forget the anticident of Arik Air as to the ways the Airline owes every airports it patronised. ( Continues below..... )

A landing Arik Plane

Photo Above: A landing Arik Plane

Reports say one of the Airbus was recently seized in South Africa because of Debt. Sierra Leone Airport Authority also seized one of the planes because of debt, ASL was reported to have gotten a judgement debt over Arik and seize one of its planes in Kano, not to talk of over N4billion the airline is owing FAAN and other agencies. One wonders, why our government officials will want to indulge in this kind of show of shame: Do they realise the effect of what they are trying to do? ( Continues below….. )

United Airlines Airborne Plane

It will send wrong signal to the International Community at this time that we are campaining for Direct Foreign Investment. BA has established her clientele for the past 75years of operations. There is nothing anybody can do to make British Airways customers to go and fly Arik. The most annoying part of the issue is, as we understand, that BA pays its dues regularly while for the past one year, Arik refused to pay a dime to Aviation agencies even the Passenger Service Charges that Arik collects on behalf of FAAN are being held by it. We should be careful of our actions and watch the after effect of it.

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11/16/11

*Nigeria: Case For Conference & Referendum Organized By The States

By Folorunso Makinde

Nigeria today is bedevilled by a lot of problems that requires more than what elected representatives can resolve on their own. The problems are various and many - there is the problem of the cost of administration brought about as a result of the unending states creation exercise embarked upon by successive administrations. Currently, Nigeria is reported to be spending over 80% of its GDP on the cost of administration. No enterprise on such a spending scale in proportion to its revenue can survive. This is already calling into question the viability of Nigeria as a going concern. This is more than any one president can resolve.

There is the problem of revenue allocation that we have not been able to actually sit down, discuss and resolve. This can never be resolved by elected representatives on their own without consulting the electorate to find acceptable formula.

As a country, no one actually know the size of our population. It has ranged from 100 million to 120 million to 150 million. The truth is that the federal set up has made it impossible for the accurate and true head count of Nigerians as figures have been inflated time and time again. There are also problems associated with the breaking down of infrastructures, tribalism, incessant religious violence, degrading level of our education, to mention but a few. Many Nigerians who could afford to leave the country have voted with their feet. Many of our youths have lost their lives in their efforts to find greener pastures outside the country when the opportunities to maintain a living in Nigeria after their education are very scant. No country sustaining such a high level of skills drain can develop at a dignified rate or maintain a respectable level of development. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing its 36 states, including Sokoto State and Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)

Many have called for a national conference to discuss our problems as a country. We in Nigerians For Referendum (NFR) also support this view but we disagree on the focus for the call and the method being advocated to bring it about. Many who have advocated for National Conference have directed their calls towards the President of the Federation. We in NFR believes that the call was directed towards the wrong quarter.

Firstly, the Presidency in a country practicing a federal system of government like Nigeria is, should not be the first point of call for the convening of a National Conference. The purpose of a National Conference is to discuss and address issues affecting the people. No one belongs to a federal constituency unless he/she has initially or originally belong to a local constituency that is part of Nigeria. A person is identified as a Nigerian because that person first belongs to a state or locality that forms part of Nigeria. The President of Nigeria today was able to contest and holds that post because he belongs to a local area of a state that forms part of Nigeria. Just as they say in the European Community (EC) that the main requirement for anyone to hold an EC passport is that such a person must first hold a nationality of a member state of the EC. The same thing applies here.

This is akin to an association formed by members who then decide to elect a chairman for the association. The duties and responsibilities of the chairman will be determined by the collective agreement of all members of the association who can also determine when and whether to reduce or increase the role/powers of the chairman. The agenda of the meeting of such association will be determined by members of the association and not by the chairman alone, and being elected a chairman does not give whoever holds the post the right to disenfranchise any member of the association or restrict the right of any member to include a particular item on the agenda for discussion provided such item is not restricted by the collectively agreed rules and regulations of the association.

As a matter of fact every member would have equal right to include an item on the agenda of the meeting of the association. However, what made the Nigerian system to become muddled up is the fact that in Nigeria, the federal government and hence the Presidency, rather than being seen as a product of agreement of the various constituencies that make up the country, it is seen as an entity with a separate and independent existence. The consequence of this is all around us - duplication of authorities, duplications of services etc. Take for instance, education; we have state universities and federal universities, when it is the same people the two level of authorities are trying to provide education services to.

Secondly, asking the President to convene a National Conference shows lack of understanding of the politics at the federal level. The Presidency has as its constituency the whole of Nigeria and as such the President has a balancing job to do. Some people will want one thing, others will not want that thing. For a politician to successfully contest for the post of a president and win wider support for his candidacy, he has to be everything to everyone. No wonder why successive Presidents has given the idea of a National Conference a cold shoulder. President Goodluck Jonathan publicly declared that he would not do it. This is not to say that he or Presidents before him do not believe that as a country Nigeria has serious problems or does not see the need for a National Conference to discuss the issues. President Jonathan like any other candidate for the presidency of the nation must thread very carefully in order to gain wider support. The state governors has no such inhibitions. This is not to say that each state has homogenous constituents but the diversity within the states are not as many and not as distinctly pronounced as in the wider country, and the issues affecting a state is more likely to affect the constituents in a similar way though not necessarily equally. ( Continues below….. )

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

NIGERIANS FOR REFERENDUM - NFR

We in the NFR believes that the focus for agitation for a conference and subsequently a referendum should be the state authorities rather than the federal authority. Whatever the agitation of the people, they should first discuss it at the state level. This is why we are advocating for a state level conference followed by a referendum organised and conducted at the state level and the results analysed at the state level or by regions. The outcome will then be used as the basis for negotiations among the constituents/regions that make up the country. The advantages of this type of arrangement are enormous. Firstly, it will help to give a voice to people that otherwise would not have got a voice. When the debates start at the grass root level, everyone will be able to voice their views, and aggregation and alignment of views can take place. This will help to ascertain the actual views of the people and avoid the usual criticism of second guessing what the people’s views are, a criticism that is usually levelled at representative democracy.

Furthermore, it is a well known fact that politics at the federal level is not conducive to allowing all the necessary issues and views to be given air time. It does not allows for all the views to be properly heard and considered. Business at the corridor of power and in particular at the centre is done by negotiation, trading off and compromise without enough time being given to actually analysing the issues. With the debate conducted and the referendum held at the various states, groups within the states can put forward whatever views they considered important to them and then vote on it in a referendum.

We understand that there are 36 states in the federation together with the capital territory Abuja but we anticipate that during such debates and referendum, alignment of views and demands will emerge which will help to aggregate the various views and demands. We understand that there are elected representatives however certain issues are best discussed by the ordinary people themselves. Some of the issues involved may also affect the positions of the elected representatives and as such will raise the question of conflict of interest. For instance, the issue of the kind of government we want at the centre or addressing the formula for revenue allocation or even reducing the number of seats in the national assembly. Issues like this cannot be left in the hands of the elected representatives.

Secondly, decisions in a referendum organised at the grass root level will attract a higher legitimacy as it is the undiluted decision of the people. The fact that everyone is involved or has the opportunity to be involved in the debate and the decision making will give such a process or decision a wider acceptance and thus wider legitimacy. Thirdly, everyone should be given the opportunity to be involved in taking decision on the future direction of the country. Nigeria today is completely different from the Nigeria our forefathers signed up to and it is only fair that everyone should be given the opportunity to participate in crucial decisions that will determine where we go from here as a country.

Nigeria is at a crossroad and important decisions are necessary to determine where we go from here as a country. The status quo is no longer defensible. We in the NFR believes that conference and referendum organised and conducted at the state level and analysed regionally is the way forward to ascertain the wishes of our people and determine the future of our country. This is why we are urging all progress minded Nigerians to join us in demanding that each state governor organise a state-wide conference and holds a referendum in their individual states to determine what their constituents want and this will then form the basis for negotiation among the various constituents or regions that make up the country.

Folorunso Makinde
President
NFR (www.nigeriansforreferendum.co.uk)
Email: nigeriansforreferendum@mail.com
Tel. + 44 - 07574342640

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