Insecurity: Babangida, Obasanjo call for urgent actions

Former heads of state, General Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Babangida leaders issued a rare joint statement on Sunday calling for talks to end a deadly insurgency by Islamist group Boko Haram, warning the violence could put the nation’s unity at risk.

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-military ruler Ibrahim Babangida, who have been rivals in the past, said in a joint statement that the killings had become “unbearable” and had led to a nation “gripped by a regime of fear”.

“Unfolding events in our dear motherland, Nigeria, over the last few years are threatening to unravel the nearly a century old labour of our founding fathers and subsequent generations in building a strong, united, peaceful nation …,” the statement said.

Without mentioning Boko Haram by name, they called for “community involvement” in addition to security measures to resolve the crisis, urging efforts from local governments, religious leaders and grassroots organisations.

The statement also said that “for us, and we believe for millions of other Nigerians, the continued unity of this nation is not only priceless but non-negotiable.”

Boko Haram’s insurgency has left hundreds dead since mid-2009. Its attacks have grown increasingly deadly and sophisticated, moving from drive-by shootings to homemade explosives and suicide bombings.

The insurgency has been focused in the northern part of Nigeria.

Obasanjo, president from 1999 to 2007, is a Christian from the country’s southwest, while Babangida, who ruled from 1985-1993, is a Muslim from north central Nigeria.

New Chief Justice vows to rid Judiciary of corruption

The newly appointed Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Alooma Mukhtar said on Wednesday that there was corruption in the judiciary and pledged to get rid of the systems bad eggs.

Being the first female to be appointed as the CJN, Justice Mukhtar assured the senate that there will be “internal cleansing” to shore up the image of the third arm of government.

She added that “Corruption is in every system of our society and I cannot pretend that it is not in the judiciary. What I intend to do to curb this is to lead by example and to hope and pray that others will follow.

“As the chairman of the National Judicial Council, I will encourage internal cleansing based on petition.”

Justice Mukhtar admitted that the confidence in the nation’s justice system was at its lowest ebb.

“As I said I will try to make sure that the confidence reposed in the judiciary as it were before will be restored. I will try as much as possible to ensure that the bad eggs that are there … that there will be cleansing by the NJC based on petitions.

“It is sad that the ordinary man in the street now thinks and feels that he will not get justice and this is because of the situation we find ourselves. I will ensure that this perception is changed.”

Justice Mukhtar spoke on the concept of plea bargaining which has become an issue in the fight against corruption, saying that there was nothing wrong with the option, provided that it was done in good faith and properly.

She also spoke on terrorism calling on the the National Assembly to immediately put the law in place to curtail the increasing cases of terrorism. She promised that the judiciary would activate the law once it was enacted.

According to her, the court might be idle since terrorism was not an offence committed on a daily basis.

She therefore recommended that a single judge could be designated within a court to hear terrorism cases, “or at least three judges in a division, instead of an outright separate court.”

“I think this depends on what is before the judge. If the judge finds that there is nothing that should warrant remand of a person accused of terrorism, he will be at liberty to release him on bail.

“But then, I think I will take steps so that we partner effectively with the authority to ensure that unnecessary granting of bail is limited.”

On the controversies surrounding declaration of assets by public officers, the new CJN said that the declaration of assets every four years as required by extant law was sufficient, but doubted if it could be extended to private concerns since it was not provided for in the nation’s constitution.

Supreme Court cedes disputed 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom State

The Supreme Court on Tuesday conferred on Akwa Ibom State, the ownership of the 76 oil wells along the Atlantic Ocean, ruling that Cross River State has lost its claim to being a littoral state.

According to the Court, Cross River State lost the right of an oil producing state when the federal government under the leadership of former President Olusegun Obasanjo handed over portions of the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroun.

The seven justices of the court headed by Dahiru Musdapher, in their ruling, submitted that the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) was right in attributing the oil wells to Akwa Ibom at the inter-agencies meeting.

Justice Olufunlola Adekeye, who read the lead judgment, which was unanimous, dismissed the appeal by Cross River State as lacking in substance and merit, insisting that the agreement which initially gave the state rights to the 76 oil wells was upturned by the handing over of Bakassi to Cameroon.

“The facts before the court do not support the claim of the plaintiff to being a littoral state. A non-littoral state cannot claim oil wells offshore as she has no maritime territory. The plaintiff has no maritime territory since the cessation of Bakassi Peninsula and the Cross River estuary which used to be part of the state prior to August 2008. The present position of the plaintiff cannot be blamed on any government agency particularly the National Boundary Commission and the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC.

“This court cannot because of the influx of refugees from Bakassi into Cross River State, give a legislative judgment. The government of Nigeria has a means of providing for the social needs of the people of Cross River State faced with the social problems thrust on the state due to the cessation of the Bakassi Peninsula to the Cameroun,” the court ruled.

The 76 oil wells had before the judgment of the International Court of in Justice in Hague belonged to Bakassi Local government area of Cross River state.

Bakassi was however handed over to Cameroun on the order of the International Court of Justice as the new owner of the oil rich area after its victory in a boundary legal battle with Nigeria.

However, the Supreme Court said that Akwa Ibom being a littoral state with its boundary directly touching the sea remains the only state that can lay claim and remains the rightful owner of the 76 oil wells in line with the International law.

The Cross River State government had through it counsel, Yusuf Ali, approached the Supreme Court and asked it to compel both the Federal Government and the Akwa Ibom state government to respect the sharing formula put in place by the former President Obasanjo on the 90 oil wells which had been a subject of dispute between Cross River and the Akwa Ibom state government.

Imoke flaws judgement

The Cross River State governor, Liyel Imoke has faulted to the judgement of the Supreme Court which handed over 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom State.

Mr Imoke said: “As a wronged but law-abiding people, we had hoped for justice. We had hoped for a dispensation of justice that would restore our belief in the timeless saying by the iconic American civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior that “the arm of the moral universe still bends towards justice.”

He said that the judgment differed from the opinion of the people but noted that justice could only be delayed and not denied.

“We maintained our peace and dignity even in the face of what could easily have provoked unprecedented violence and reprisals. We hoped for justice from the highest court in the land. But our hope was dashed. My dear brothers and sisters, our spirit will never be broken,” he said.

Akpabio hails ruling

The Akwa Ibom State governor, Godwill Akpabio, who also spoke to journalists after the judgment, said had the apex court ceded the 76 oil wells to Cross River State, the oil well would have automatically been transferred to Cameroun.

He said: “we are happy that the Supreme Court did justice today, but we hereby extend hands of fellowship to our sister state, we have always lived amicably with one another, and we are committed towards ensuring that the relationship that had always existed between the two states is not jeopardized in any way.”

Obasanjo says fighting corruption is not a one-night affair

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday said that fighting corruption in Nigeria is not a one night affair.

In an interview with a UK newspaper, theguardian, Mr Obasanjo told the reporter interviewing him that instead of saying Nigerian leaders lack accountability, he should say they are corrupt.

“You are being euphemistic when you say lack of accountability. Call it corruption,” he said.

“There is no part of the world where corruption is absolutely eliminated. But [in other countries] that corruption has not been a way of life. When you are found, you are dealt with. And that’s what we need.”

Mr Obasanjo was in the UK to promote investment in Nigeria.

“Fighting corruption is not a one-night affair,”  the former president, who made fighting graft a significant element of his manifesto ahead of his election in 1999, said.

“The givers of most of the corruption in Africa are from outside Africa,” he said. “They do in Africa, [things] they would not do in their own countries. In my part of the world, we have a saying that the man who carries a pot of palm oil from the ceiling is not the only thief. He has an accomplice in the man who helps him to bring it down. The giver and the taker are criminals, and they should be treated as such.”

The former present who is working as a roving ambassador, facilitating firms’ entry into Nigeria and the rest of Africa said he believes that positive examples of business success will encourage avaricious minds to look for more legitimate routes to wealth.

“I still believe in the opportunities that Africa affords to make legitimate money,” he says. “Africa is one place I believe that if you are courageous enough, you get the money, you can invest and get 25% return on your investment annually. There aren’t many places in the world where you can get that return.”

A corrupt nation

In 1999, Transparency International Corruption Perception Index rated Nigeria the second most corrupt nation in the world.

Successive democratic government have since 1999 attempted to fight corruption in Nigeria. Following his election as president, Mr Obasanjo established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in a bid to halt corruption.

Despite the efforts of these agencies, corruption continued abated in Nigeria.

In a country ranked 143 in the world on the Transparency International corruption perception index, civil society fights a perennial battle with institutionalised corruption, which has led to some officials – including some of Nigeria’s extraordinarily influential state governors – becoming dollar billionaires.

One, James Ibori, a former governor of Delta State, was convicted this year of embezzling £150m and jailed for 13 years. Ibori, whose annual state salary of less than $25,000 (£16,000) was bolstered by the systematic theft of state funds, built up a portfolio of luxury cars and properties in the UK, US and South Africa.

Timipre Sylva, the former governor of Bayelsa State, was arraigned this month by the EFCC on charges including fraud and money laundering.
Since 2009, the crusading central bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, has had some success in cleaning out the banking sector, claiming high-profile scalps such as Cecilia Ibru, the former CEO of Oceanic Bank, who was jailed for fraud and mismanagement.

Arunma Oteh came in to head the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010, attacking vested interests in the stock market. Ms Oteh had since been removed from office based on allegations that she abused her powers.

Brazilian president to lead trade and economic mission to Nigeria

 Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff has accepted an invitation to visit Nigeria before the end of the year to boost economic and trade relations between both countries.

Goodluck Jonathan meeting with Dilma Rousseff in Rio

A statement by Special Adviser to the President on media and publicity, Reuben Abati, stated that Ms Rousseff’s state visit to Nigeria has been tentatively scheduled for November.

President Jonathan had extended the invitation to the Brazilian leader at a bilateral meeting on Wednesday during the on-going United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, noting that greater economic and developmental cooperation would be in the mutual interest of both nations.

The President affirmd that Nigeria will welcome increased Brazilian support and cooperation for the development of mechanized agriculture, power generation and other sectors in which Brazilians are globally acknowledged experts.

He also called for the revitalization of the Africa-South American Cooperation Forum which was jointly initiated by Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and the former President of Brazil, Mr. Lula Da Silva as a platform for the promotion of economic and political cooperation between the two countries and continents.

Accepting President Jonathan’s invitation to visit Nigeria, President Rousseff said she will come with Brazilian investors and businessmen with expertise in many fields to give them an opportunity to meet their Nigerian counterparts with a view to establishing profitable joint ventures.

She assured President Jonathan that Brazil, currently the world’s sixth largest economy, would be glad to deploy the skills and expertise which its people have acquired in many fields, including engineering, construction, technology, public infrastructure, hydro-power generation and large scale mechanised agriculture for economic growth and development in Nigeria.

Renaming UNILAG after Abiola is ‘mere tokenism’ – Lisa Akerele

Former special assistant to the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, Lisa Olu Akerele, has described the naming of the University of Lagos after the late winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election as “mere tokenism and not far-reaching enough.”

Akerele in a press statement in Abuja on Tuesday, stated that the activities of late MKO Abiola transcended the South-West geo-political zone where he came from, noting that naming UNILAG  after Abiola tends to limit his recognition to the Yoruba speaking areas of Nigeria.

Though he commended President Goodluck Jonathan for honouring Abiola, he advised that the president should have named the Eagle Square, Abuja or the University of Abuja after him for sacrificing his life for democracy.

Akerele, who spent time in Abacha’s gulac along with Abiola, noted that being the Pillar of Sports in Africa during his lifetime, it would also have been appriopate to name the National Stadium, Abuja after the late doyen of sports.

He said it was not late in the day for Jonathan to name Eagle Square or the National Stadium after Abiola.

He said he was pleased with Jonathan’s recognition of Abiola’s role in returning the country to democracy, but requested that the family of the late winner of the 1993 presidential race be compensated.

Saying “anything worth doing must be done well,” Akerele noted that Abiola was owed millions by the Federal Government, while his business empire was destroyed by the government during Sani Abacha.

“Jonathan needs to settle these bills as well as compensate the family for government’s deliberate action in stiffling Abiola’s businesses,” he said.

He berated former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who he said was the direct beneficiary of Abiola’s sacrifice, for refusing to acknowledge the late doyen’s contributions to democracy, adding: “With Jonathan’s tokenism, Abiola’s ideas have outlived Obasanjo’s wickedness and self-centredness.”

National Assembly is filled with rogues and armed robbers – Obasanjo

The line-up of speakers at the AES conference.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, not mincing words, has lampooned the nation’s legislative and judiciary arm of government, describing them as corrupt.

He claimed majority of lawmakers at the national and state assemblies as “rogues and armed robbers,” as well as the judiciary, which he stated is corrupt.

Mr Obasanjo made this outburst while speaking at the fourth annual national conference of Academy for Entrepreneurial Studies (AES), in Lagos on Tuesday. The conference had the theme, “Strong Systems: Necessity for Building a Virile Nation.”

“Integrity is necessary for systems and institutions to be strong. Today, rogues, armed robbers are in the state Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly. What sort of laws will they make” he asked?

Not sparing the judiciary, Obasanjo stated that “the judiciary is also corrupt.” He noted that while he was the president, he tried to weed the judiciary of some corrupt judges but they are still around. “During my tenure, many of the corrupt judges were removed, some are still there.”

Citing the trial and imprisonment of former Delta state governor, James Ibori in the UK, Mr Obasanjo, wondered why the nation’s legal system let him off despite myriads of allegation on financial embezzlement.

“The judiciary did not see anything wrong with a former governor but the same set of evidence was used to sentence him in the United Kingdom” he noted.

“If the Judiciary becomes corrupt, where is the hope for the nation” he questioned.

The former president however, rated the lawmakers and lawyers better than the nation’s Police Force in view of crime and corruption which he claims is plaguing the country.“The police are even worse” he expressed in a somber mood.

“Well, I will not lament; I will only say, ‘let us understand our problems and emphasise the good ones” he quipped, trying to bring in some optimism to his presentation.

He also did not spare the Nigerian populace in his vitriolic, as he accused Nigerians of lacking in diligence and integrity.

“The problem is that the diligence that was being undertaken before people are appointed or elected is no more today,” Obasanjo said.

He said the country needed strong, stable, enduring and sustainable institutions for the country to remain virile, dynamic and successful.

“I believe we will get there, but all Nigerians must play their roles,” Obasanjo said.

Not a bad country

Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, who was the chairman of the occasion, urged all Nigerians to work for the unity of the country, saying the unity of the country is not negotiable.

“Nigeria is not a bad nation or where nothing works. It is not a country that anything goes; we may have got it wrong somewhere, but we are on the right track. This does not make us a failed nation or people. The need for strong systems to achieve a virile nation is a necessity,” Gowon said.

Also, former Head, Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, said Nigeria needed a stable socio-economic environment to grow the economy, stressing that there was absolute need to improve the security in the country.

“We must improve on our governance system and the age-long values of hard work, honesty and integrity. The judicial system also matters. Justice must not only be seen but must be clearly seen to be done. Corruption must be battled and exterminated because it tarnishes the image of our country and discourages investment,” he said.

Also present at the event was the Lagos State Governor Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who made a case for the creation of state police as measures to build strong judicial system.

“The question of whether we will have state police ‘is not a matter of if, but when’. If we want our judicial system to be strong, we need a well-motivated, equipped, remunerated and efficient police system,” he said.

Noting that the Judiciary did not belong to the government but a part of it, the governor, added that there was the need for Nigerians to re-assess their values if strong systems and institutions could exist.

Other speakers at the conference were former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Muhammadu Uwais, who also admitted that the problem of corruption had spread even to the judiciary and constitutional lawyer, Professor Itse Sagay, who stated that Nigeria has strong systems and institutions but the political elite were the problems of the country.

The president of AES, Dr. Ausbeth Ajagu, urged Nigerians to imbibe ethical values to move the country forward.

Third term bid:Should it be investigated?

Still on the third term bid saga,remember the former President Olusegun Obasanjo raised the dust of forgotten issues when he claimed that he never spear headed the bid for a third term,that it wasnt an ambition he was nursing.

Now the question is should the third term matter be followed with an investigsation? Join Deji Bademosi on this issues and more

Four arrested over power plant vandalisation

Four men suspected to be vandals have been arrested by men of the Nigerian Army attached to the  multi million naira Papalanto Power Station in Ogun state south west Nigeria.

The suspects were alleged to have vandalised some security cables at the power station located in Ewekoro local government area of the state.

The suspects according to investigation have been carrying out their nefarious activities which has been taking its toll on power generation at the power station whose first phase was commissioned over five years ago by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Although, according to some of the officials of the power station, the station activities has remained undisturbed but findings revealed that the operation may be hampered any moment from now as a result of the damage done to the installation with the incessant cutting of the copper wire by the vandals.

Speaking with Journalists after the assessment  of the level of damage done by the vandals, the Acting Principal Manager, Public Affairs, Mr.Tokunbo Peters described the situation as economic sabotage which will not only affect the people of Ogun state but the entire Nigeria  as the  damage done will affect the input of the station in to the national grid.

He put the total cost of the cable stolen by the vandals at N35 million saying with the situation, there is possibility of shutting down the station for necessary repair to be carried out in order for the station to pick up again for optimal performance.

He said the activities of the vandals remain a great disservice to the intention of the Federal Government to stabilizing power supply in the country. He said it was quite unfortunate that while the country was still grappling with severe load shedding due to inadequate generation , some criminal elements in the society could be going about vandalizing power installations ,thus adding to the sufferings and discomfort of the public. The suspects have been handed over to the Police for prosecution.

They have however been handed over to the police for proper investigation as well
as to ensure the arrest of their sponsors.

(Exclusive Interview) I didn’t initiate third term idea – Obasanjo

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has denied the allegation that he ever solicited for a third term as the president of Nigeria, saying it was the national assembly that included it amongst the other clauses of the constitution, that was to be amended.

While commenting on the challenges of deepening democratic institutions in Africa; the former president for the first time, in an exclusive interview with Channels Television stated firmly that “I never toyed with the idea of a third term.”

The former president insisted that he has always denied the allegations and talks around the third term issue which he allegedly sought at the end of his two-term tenure of eight years in 2007.

Obasanjo resigns as PDP BOT chairman

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has resigned as chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), to enable him focus more on international duties.

The former president in a statement personally signed by him on Tuesday said he had sent the letter of resignation to the chairman of the party.

According to the statement, he noted that he is pulling out of the responsibility so that he can devote more time to the international demand on him.

“I have formally sent in my letter of resignation as the Chairman of BOT of PDP to the National Chairman of the party as prescribed in the party’s constitution. I have formally requested the President to allow my bowing out and to issue a short statement to that effect” stated the letter.

He further explained that “by relieving myself of the responsibility for chairmanship of BOT of PDP, I will have a bit more time to devote to the international demand on me.”

He also noted that, stepping down as the ruling party’s leader, will give him time for mentoring. “To give some attention to mentoring across the board nationally and internationally in those areas that I have acquired some experience, expertise and in which I have something to share.”

He added that the departure from party affairs would afford him more time to develop the on-going construction of his presidential library in Abeokuta and also “mobilise and encourage investment in Nigeria and Africa.”

The resignation is coming after the just-concluded national convention of the ruling party to elect the party’s new esxecutive.

24hours to this resignation, the former president also led a delegation of party members to appeal to estranged former governor of Oyo state; Rashidi Ladoja on returning to the party.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala joins race for World Bank presidency

Coordinating Minister for the economy and finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has finally thrown her hat in the ring for the race for the World Bank’s president.

Flanked by her counterparts from South Africa and Angola, Dr Okonjo-Iweala, unveiled her candidacy at a press conference in Pretoria, on Friday.

Her candidacy is backed by Africa’s leading economies and its two biggest oil producers in a push for greater influence at global financial bodies dominated by rich nations.

According to the two-time Minister of finance, “I consider the World Bank a very important institution for the world and particularly for developing countries deserving of the best leadership,” she said.

“So I look forward to a contest of very strong candidates, and am I confident? Absolutely” she added emphatically.

Her bid was unveiled in the South African capital, hours before the deadline for nominations to succeed current president Robert Zoellick, who is stepping down at the end of his term on June 30.

Former Colombian finance minister and central bank chief, Jose Antonio Ocampo, who has also been tipped to assume the office, announced his candidacy on Wednesday. Washington has yet to announce its own candidate for the office which American has held since it was founded nearly 70 years ago.

Okonjo-Iweala is a respected former World Bank managing director who joined the Goodluck Jonathan administration as finance minister in August. A capacity she once served during the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo after which she was transferred to the Ministry of foreign affairs before her resignation.

“I have long experience in the World Bank, in government and in diplomacy and I look forward to giving you my vision at the appropriate time,” she said.

“I share the World Bank vision of fighting poverty with passion. The issue is in what direction one must take this to make this the most beneficial,” she said.

The World Bank has 187 member nations and focuses its activities on development loans.

Under a tacit agreement since the World Bank and its sister institution the International Monetary Fund were founded, the United States always selects an American as World Bank president and Europe puts a European at the IMF helm.

That traditional arrangement has triggered outrage from developing and emerging economies seeking greater representation to reflect their rising contributions to the global economy.

The US Treasury in February declared “the United States continues its leadership role in the World Bank,” as the largest shareholder, and would announce its candidate “in the coming weeks.”

Since then, the Treasury has declined to comment on the nomination process.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has long been among the most circulated names rumoured to be under consideration by President Barack Obama, along with UN ambassador Susan Rice, Democratic Senator John Kerry and former Treasury secretary Larry Summers.

Clinton has insisted that she is not interested in the job. Another American, economist Jeffrey Sachs, has garnered support for his self-declared candidacy in small developing countries.

Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, has a decades-long career in development and poverty eradication and headed the United Nations’s Millennium Development Goals project.

A candidate must be presented by the Bank’s 25 executive directors, or by governors through the director representing them on the executive board.

The World Bank said that if there are more than three candidates, it will release a short list of three candidates but did not indicate the timing of the publication.