Hammer to Fall on 321 Government Agencies


IF the recommendations of the Stephen Oronsaye Presidential Committee are accepted, the federal executive council may soon approve the scrapping of 321 out of 541 federal parastatals, commissions and agencies. The FEC started discussion on the draft White Paper on the report on Wednesday, June 12. Reuben Abati, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, dropped the hint while speaking to journalists at the end of the meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Abati said there was no cause for anxiety in the government’s bid to restructure for efficiency. He disclosed that a White Paper Drafting Committee set up by the president accepted only 321 out of the 541 federal parastatals, commissions and agencies considered by the Oronsaye committee. “The Oronsaye Committee considered suggestions and recommendations from different quarters in respect of 541 federal parastatals, commissions and agencies. The white paper drafting committee, accepted 321 out of that number and noted some recommendations and rejected some,” Abati said. He made it clear that the exercise was not aimed at pushing anybody out of employment but to restructure in such a way that it would make the government more efficient. He said the discussion by FEC members on the draft would continue at the next meeting.

Twenty Years After June 12


IT was the celebration of one their own. On Wednesday, June 12, all the states in the South-West, except one, shut down business in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the June 12, 1993, presidential election in which the late Moshood Abiola, a business mogul, emerged winner. But the election was annulled by Ibrahim Babangida, a general and the then military president, on June 23. In the struggle that followed, hundreds of people were killed and properties worth billions of naira were destroyed. In honour of Abiola, who eventually died in detention in July 1998, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states declared the day (June 12) a public holiday. The day was also marked with various activities.  It was only Ondo State, which did not declare a public holiday, but commemorated the day with a lecture.

In Lagos alone, there were at least five activities, which attracted people from all walks of life at various venues across the metropolis.

Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State and Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Lagos State governor, and leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, called for an end to impunity in the polity. At Abiola’s house in Ikeja, Lagos, a wreath was laid on his grave. Fashola and Tinubu criticised the culture of impunity that is threatening the survival of democracy. Speaking at an event organised by the Lagos State Government in collaboration with the June 12, Coalition of Democratic Formations, J12CODEF, they called for an electoral system that would guarantee a smooth transition in a democratic government.

Fashola said the lessons learnt from the June 12, 1993 election was enough to show the way for the nation to avoid threading the path that plunged it into its present situation. He said the process leading to the annulment of the elections as well as the inability of Abiola to regain his freedom were key pointers to the consequences of flagrant abuse of law and order. Fashola faulted the move by President Goodluck Jonathan to rename the University of Lagos, UNILAG, after Abiola, saying the process was a sham and a disrespect for law and order.

“Lately, an institution of higher learning, created by an Act of parliament, which gave the institution its name, was visited with an action that, in my view, was done to mock the memories of Abiola. The name of the institution was changed to MKO’s name without changing the law. I venture to argue that MKO would have distanced himself from such action if he were alive,” Fashola said.

Tinubu, who was represented by Ayo Opadokun, secretary of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, which led the struggle at the time, said Abiola’s struggle left a mark on the progressives to ensure the era of June 12 never repeats itself. “It is a protest that gave birth to democracy and it is the protest that will keep it on its toes. When Abiola fought for the recognition of his mandate, he did it in the spirit of protest, many people went to the streets to protest, Abiola and Alfred Rewane died in the spirit of protest. Those who stand against protest do so in the spirit of tyranny, that the military prides itself in. I dare say that we stand to ensure that never again will a mufti crowd of people deny us of our fundamental rights.”

Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, led a march by senior government officials in Abeokuta, the state capital, which incidentally is Abiola’s home state. The march terminated at his compound in the ancient city. On his part, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State urged the federal government to identify Abiola’s killers and bring them to justice. He also asked the government to announce the result of the presidential election which is adjudged to be Nigeria’s freest ever and declare Abiola the true winner and thereafter, accord him his rightful place in history. Aregbesola commended Abiola’s family members and condoled with them over the sacrifice paid by their bread winner for the enthronement of democracy.

President Goodluck Jonathan, in his own little way, celebrated the day while inaugurating the Board of the Police Service Commission, by describing June 12 as “a unique day that has changed the political history’’ of the country. “Today is also a unique day, June 12, a date that has changed the political history of this country in one way or the other. In some parts of the country, some state governments have declared public holiday to mark today, but at the centre, it has not been formally recognised as a public holiday. We appreciate what happened on this day that you are being inaugurated. I think it is a unique date,’’ he said.

APC’s Blueprint for Governance


AHMED Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, on Wednesday, June 12, promised that the All Progressives Congress, APC, the new mega party, would salvage the country from its current retrogression and corruption. In a speech he delivered at the British House of Commons, Tinubu, said he and his colleagues in the APC, would sacrifice personal political ambitions to ensure democracy survives in Nigeria. He also promised that the usual acts of impunity and disregard for the ballot as demonstrated in the recent Nigeria Governors’ Forum election, where he said, the loser claimed victory, would not be tolerated by the APC.

Tinubu said the APC government would, in its first four years, pursue an aggressive plan to lift at least 20 percent of Nigerians living in poverty out of that level. As part of the plans to eliminate poverty, he said the APC would introduce the first national social security scheme under which Nigerians who are above 60 years old would be entitled to monthly stipend from the federal government.

According to the former governor, the APC would intervene to redress poverty in the country by providing one meal a day for primary and secondary school pupils. This, he said, would help to confront the extremely high incidence of malnutrition and other hunger-induced medical conditions among poor children and thereby eliminating the recruiting grounds for illegal activities.

Moreover, he said, the APC would stimulate demand to help boost local businesses in poultry, bakery, juice and packing industries. “This will employ millions of graduates and non-graduates. Then, we can start to talk truly about the dividends of not just democracy but of impactful leadership,”

While regretting what he called ‘lack of foresight by the current leadership,’ Tinubu said the progressives in the APC would use the power of the ballot to oust the Goodluck  Jonathan administration in the coming general elections. “I do not support the Jonathan government but I oppose anyone seeking its premature, illegal end. Let this government end at the appointed time. But let it end through the ballot box. Then I shall say good riddance,” he said.

Pledges Without Redemption


THE Presidential Flood Relief and Rehabilitation Committee, headed jointly by Aliko Dangote, a business mogul and Olisa Agbakoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, has threatened to publish the names of defaulters in redeeming their pledges for the flood victims of the 2012. The committee said the defaulters have, until June 30, this year, to make good their pledges or be ready to read their names in the press. According to the committee, six months after the launch, many prominent Nigerians are yet to redeem their pledges at the special appeal fund for victims of the 2012 flood disaster.

Incidentally, some of those who made the pledges but yet to redeem theme, have gone ahead to enjoy the tax incentives attached to their pledges. Against this background, the committee in a statement in Lagos on Tuesday, June 11, said it would publish the names of defaulters in newspapers and other social media.

The statement said in part: “As we proceed to the implementation stage of the planned rehabilitation projects, we hereby call on all those who have not redeemed their pledges to please do so on or before June 30, 2013, as a mark of honour and integrity, as names of defaulters will be announced in all national dailies and social media blogs.” The committee, however, expressed its profound gratitude to all who answered the clarion call for help through their generous donations and pledges at its fund-raising dinner in November 2012, for the relief and rehabilitation of flood victims in Nigeria.

Targeting N100 billion, the 34-man committee, held a fundraising event at the Presidential Villa, during which donations and pledges made by prominent Nigerians amounted to N11.35 billion.

— Jun. 24, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

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