Ekpu, Ezeife, Bongos Ikwe to Serve in Federal Boards


RAY Ekpu, a former editor-in-chief and managing director of Newswatch magazine, has been appointed as a member of the board of Centre for Black and African Arts and Culture, CBAAC. Ekpu was one of those appointed chairmen and members of the recently reconstituted 42 federal government parastatals and agencies. The appointment was announced in a statement by the secretary to the government of the federation, Anyim Pius Anyim on Tuesday August 20, 2013. Also appointed were Yusuf Brimmo as chairman while Paul Ogbonnaia, Folorunsho Taiwo, Madam Rhoda, Patrick Aiden Anuda, Oyedokun Oladepo and Frank Ikpeze as members respectively.

Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former governor of Anambra State was appointed the chairman of the board of the National Commission for Colleges of Education while Margaret Zidon, Mohammed Dantsoho and Ngozi Nnadozie will serve as members.

Bongos Ikwue, a renowned highlife musician, was made chairman of the Nigerian Film Corporation, Jos, while Sani Danja, Wada Musa, and Bright Chinedu Nnebedum will serve as members. Kanayo O,  Kanayo, a nollywood actor, was made chairman of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Studies but members were not named.

Olusola Akanmode, was made chairman for the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, while the members are Idonibin Obagama, Garba Dahiru, Mahmud Gurumpawo, and Mohammed Abdulkadir. Abubakar .H. Girei is to chair the board of the National Mathematical Centre. The members are Prof. G.A Badmus, Stephen Ahaneku and Dr. Zilkifilu Abdu. Bolaji Anani, will chair the board of the National Institute for Education Planning and Administration while members are Hajiya Jamila Baba Buhari and Barrister Nma Mowete.

Arma Yau Abubakar, will chair the National Institute for Fresh Water Fisheries Research while Francis Ayodele, George Moghalu, Bimbola Yusuf and Oche Elias will serve as members. Sulieman Galadima, is to chair the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria while members are Umoru Ningi, Bennette Ughamadu, Yinka Adeojo and Mr. Uche Igbokwe.

ASUU Strike to End Soon


IF the directive of President Goodluck Jonathan is carried out, the two-month strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, may end soon. At a closed-door meeting held with the two federal government committees negotiating with the striking university teachers, the president directed the committees on Tuesday, August 20, to take immediate measures to end the strike.

Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State and chairman of the Universities Needs Implementation Committee, disclosed shortly after a closed-door meeting of the two committees and other stakeholders with President Jonathan at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday, August 20. Speaking with State House correspondents, Suswam said that the meeting was summoned by the president “to take some decisions that would end the strike.’’ According to the governor, the president would flag off projects worth about N100 billion in the more than 60 universities in the country.

“So, we are hoping that we will be able to see the end of the strike very soon. At the end of the day, we hope ASUU is satisfied with the measures that have so far taken. The federal government will also be meeting with the universities councils’ and vice chancellors of our universities within the week towards updating them on some of the decisions taken,’’ Suswan said, adding that about N100 billion had been approved by the government to his committee to address infrastructure deficit in all the universities.

At the meeting with the president were, Vice-President Namadi Sambo, chairman of the Earned Allowance Committee and Anyim Pius Anyim, secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF. Others were Ruqayyatu Rufai, minister of education; Emeka Wogu, minister of labour; Julius Okogie executive secretary of the National Universities Commission, and Mike Oghiadome, chief of staff to the president.

An Expensive National Assembly


OBY Ezekwesili, a former minister of education, has alleged that Nigeria had spent more than N1trillion on the National Assembly members in the last eight years. Ezekwesili made the disclosure while delivering a keynote address during a one-day dialogue session on the ‘Cost of governance in Nigeria,’ in Abuja on Monday, August 19. To buttress her claim, she said that “a research conducted in the United Kingdom identified Nigerian legislators as being the highest paid in the world.”

Ezekwesili, who was also a former minister of solid minerals and a World Bank’s vice-president for Africa region, challenged civil society groups to demand a mini-national dialogue that would centre on good governance and the release of the Steve Oronsaye report on rationalisation and restructuring of federal parastatals, commissions and agencies.

According to her, one of the greatest mistakes of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, under which she served twice as a minister, was that Nigeria went into democracy without necessarily doing away with a military mindset. She said that the current social malaise of the country would only be overcome if stakeholders, especially lawmakers, consider part-time legislation as a means of bringing down the cost of governance. “Things will improve through part-time legislation. It will also reduce the number of people who will go into the National Assembly. You must have a means of livelihood so that you won’t have to depend on public funds,” she said.

She warned of dire consequences that might follow the insensitivity of mismanagement of the nation’s resources. “I feel sorry for any person who is fairly okay in this nation and doesn’t care about the poor because there will be an implosion. Whatever treatment that is given to the poor and vulnerable in the society must matter to everybody because except we have social inclusion in the society, we stand the danger of implosion. This has happened in other countries which ignored the vulnerable people,” Ezekwesili said. She added: “There is a recent media report of our National Assembly members being the highest paid in the world. The size of the cabinet at the executive level, including the retinue of superfluous aides and special assistants, is alarming. The fact that the 10 planes in the presidential fleet gulp N9.08bn annually is something that must be looked into.”

Although she was applauded by participants for her contributions, the disclosure drew flak from the National Assembly members, who said her claim amounted to blackmail. Victor Ndoma-Egba, a senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and Senate leader, said it was nothing but blackmail and that the National Assembly received far less than other arms of government. “I don’t know how she arrived at the figure. But what is allocated to the National Assembly is known to the public. In the last four years, the National Assembly has been allocated N150bn, which has been the highest since 1999. It is another attempt to blackmail the National Assembly,” he said.

No One-Term Agreement With Jonathan


FOR the umpteenth time, the Presidency has again denied that President Goodluck Jonathan had signed an agreement that he would serve for only one term in office. Ahmed Gulak, special adviser to the president on political matters, in a reaction to a statement credited to Anthony Sani, spokesman of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, on Monday, August 19, said there was no truth in the statement. He challenged anyone with a copy of the agreement to produce it.

“Rather than insisting on an agreement that does not exist, since anybody can contest for the highest office in the land, those who are so interested should declare their interest and contest,” Gulak said. Babangida Aliyu, governor of Niger State, had a few months ago, claimed that the president had signed an agreement to serve for only one term. It was also speculated that that caused the five governors of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to visit Jonathan and some past leaders.

Sani lent credence to the speculation by saying that the crisis in the party would be resolved if Jonathan respected agreements he entered into with stakeholders before the 2011 elections. He added that the visit of the five PDP governors to Jonathan and some past leaders, was to resolve the problem. “Our understanding of the G-5 governors is that they want governors to be carried along in the management of their party; they want internal democracy and they want an end to divisions within the party, and for President Jonathan to respect agreements he entered into voluntarily with stakeholders,” Sani said. Since the visits, the governors, Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso (Kano), Muritala Nyako (Adamawa); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) have been criticised by the party hierarchy and the Presidency. But the ACF spokesman insisted that their action was noble.

However, Ahmed Sajo, director of press to the Adamawa State governor, said that he and his four colleagues did not discuss a single-term agreement with Jonathan when they met with him. He said that their discussion was only based on the crisis in the PDP.

Why First Lady Snubs Deputy Governor

Patience Jonathan
Patience Jonathan

THE political crisis in Rivers State is not likely to get resolved soon. Patience Jonathan, wife of President Gooluck Jonathan, said that she shunned Tele Ikuru, deputy governor of the state, who came to receive her at the Port Harcourt airport because no senior official of the Rivers State government paid her a condolence visit when she lost her foster mother recently. She said despite the fact that several groups and individuals from across the country came to commiserate with her, she did not receive any delegation from Rivers State, her state of origin. The first lady disclosed her feeling in a statement by Ayo Adesugba, her spokesman.

The first lady was reacting to media reports that she snubbed Ikuru, when she arrived at the Port Harcourt airport on Sunday, August 18. The president’s wife said she made her visit to the state as quiet as possible so as not to give room for those who she called “mischief makers” to succeed in their plans of involving her in the political intrigues in the state.

“Ordinarily, the wife of the state governor receives the first lady whenever she visits any state. That is why the wife of Bayelsa State governor travelled from Yenagoa to receive the first lady. In addition, as a daughter of Rivers state, the first lady is free to visit the state any time she desires. But we are forced to ask: why does the presence of the first lady in Rivers State always generate rumpus? … They should learn to give respect to those who deserve respect so that they too can earn respect,” the statement said.

How to Fight Insurgency


THE Nigerian military has vowed to win the war against terrorists’ insurgency, Azubuike Ihejirika, a lieutenant general and chief of Army Staff, assured Nigerians on Monday, August 19. According to him, the events of the last two weeks were enough lessons for security agents to know that the military is determined to succeed. Speaking at the Second Commanding Officers’ Workshop at the one Mechanised Division of the Army in Kaduna, Ihejirika said: “Yes, you have had few cases of soldiers relating with the adversaries. But, as a unit commander worth its onions, you can turn such a soldier into an asset, a veritable asset; you can use such soldiers to track the enemy rather than the enemy having the advantage. This is why as a unit commander you must be alert always, because there are no excuses.”

In an apparent reference to the recent attack on military formations in Borno State where some members of the Joint Task Force, JTF, were killed, the Army chief said: “Now there is the challenge of counter terrorism and counter insurgency. If you go through the books, there are definitions of these two concepts; but one thing that is wrong with most definitions is that terrorism has to do with terror.

“When we are talking about insurgency, you are talking about aggression most likely with the use of fire arms. So, we are training you to fight terror and also insurgency. So, all the traditional methods of fighting aggression will still have to be brought to bear in fighting insurgency. It is only the environment that will modify your style.

He enjoined the commanding officers to get their officers and soldiers to know that they were already in an operational situation and once they got that right, every other thing would continue to fall in place. “We do not have to learn it the hard way, but if as a commanding officer you stroll out in the evening and in the night and look at your environment and look at how safe your troops are and put yourself in the position of the attacker, I am sure you will come up with several ideas of how to deal with the problems. So you must all get into the mode,” Ihejirika said.

Garba Wahab, major general and general officer commanding, One Mechanised Division, said the workshop was one of the series of strategies by the army headquarters to ensure capacity building of officers and men. Wahab said that the challenges facing the country “are real and for the Nigerian Army to raise its level of performance, it requires the upgrading of its personnel’s knowledge, identify the problems and adopt appropriate policies that will effect the changes required.”

— Sep. 2, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

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