Archive for November, 2012

By Prince Charles Dickson

The leopard’s stealthy gait is not a result of cowardice; it is simply stalking a prey. (Do not mistake people’s gentle nature for spinelessness).

‘Concern’ is an English word, used both as a verb either reflective or passive, and as a noun.

1. Concern, means to relate to; to be connected with; be of interest or importance to; affect: The state of killings ‘concerns’ us.

2. Used in the passive, to interest or engage: We should ‘concern’ ourselves with how we are governed.

3. To trouble, worry: Are you ‘concerned’ about how much will be spent feeding animals in the villa?

4. As a noun–something that relates or pertains to a person; business; affair: Nigeria should be the ‘concern’ of every Nigerian.

5. A matter that engages a person’s attention, interest, or care, or that affects a person’s welfare or happiness: ‘Concerning’ Nigeria, there is need for government to provide social services.

How does defining ‘concern’ concern you…interestingly the word ‘concern’ finds home in our local long called pidgin and in my admonition this week, I ask in local parlance taking into cognizance the working definition and the thread meaning– does Nigeria ‘concern’ you, how ‘e take concern’ you, Nigeria dey worry you…?

Is there need for apprehension, are we drifting towards distress or unease ate we perturbed, troubled or bothered about the construct called Nigeria and her people?

For example, how ‘e take concern’ me and you how a man of ‘god’ chooses to display his wealth, or are we ‘concerned’ by the fact that in the midst of lack a lot of folks will spend money in crude fashion to obtain passports to heaven.

Are we apprehensive about the acquisition of jets, whether from Canada, Port Novo or Alaska, or the issue is an increasingly  dangerous gap between a super-rich clergy and a psychologically milked pew, not that the congregation are concerned anyway.

So, it is a typically crying more than the bereaved or showing more concern than the ‘concerned’ attitude. The type that you see when we talk corruption; that we are all concerned about the killing corruption around us.

I don’t know about you, but I am concerned and uneasy that we have ghost schools, ghost teachers, fake graduates, and in a nation that seeks Phd teachers, we get Phd drivers by default of availability not choice. Indeed we talk trucks because the nation lacks  an efficient train haulage system, so we strain roads that are already death traps.

We are not concerned that we contain teachers with forged certificates not because of government but a decaying moral fabric torn by ‘god of men’ who tell the teachers Sunday in, Friday out that it is well, just pass the offering plate.

We have become accustomed to the fact that, my name is Gyang Dalyop or Mohammed Josaiah should concern my getting a job or being killed.

Yet in almost comical fashion in one mouthful we are all perturbed in unison that ethnic nepotism, parapoism, sickening ‘unfederal discharacter’ is a major ill in our society.

We get anxious and disturbed by the terms, ‘they, them, us, our, we, their, those’  all depending on  convenience and yet we want a united Nigeria to ‘concern’ us.

My friend and brother, Benjamin Aduba, in Boston puts it this way and I rephrase in this manner…”Nigerians want changes so long as the changes no ‘concern’ them, …for others to change but not for me to change”. 

We are all concerned about corrupt politicians and persons be punished, but not Ibori if you are from Delta, not Obasanjo if you PDP and Tinubu can do no wrong if you are ACN.

We show concern in very queer manner by honoring same people that have turned our collective harvest to personal fiefdoms with institutional awards, traditional titles, as long as the person is from our side, al, other things should not concern us.

People who challenge security should be rounded up and shot, but not members of MEND f you are from the SS; not Boko Haram members if you are from the NE; not MASSOB or kidnappers if you are from the SE.

In Ekiti a bill to cut off the ‘penis’ of rapist has been submitted to the state House of Assembly, but none to cut off the hands of pen robbers, or remove their eyes so they cant see government funds to steal, which really should concern us?

We are concerned to paranoid if the government is to build or do something good, which is rare, it must be for us, with us, and by us or else it is not good . It concerns me more than anybody.

Does it concern you that we generate power individually, buy portable water, educate our kids privately, provide healthcare for our families, both immediate and extended, run micro welfare and social security systems for family, and relatives, and still create other infrastructures despite being milked in taxes from a meager  18k stipend for those being paid that much.

The problem with our ‘concerns’ is a top-down, down-up systemic failure. Like we are programmed towards grinding to halt, rather than repair, we are so accustomed to cosmetic dressing, ala Dr. 90210… So we focus our ‘concern’ on leadership, when it is as much a problem with followership.

Do you feel concerned that we ate raising a dangerous mixed grill society with kids largely ‘schooled’ abroad, with allegiances to other nations and a home bred population of children denied education outrightly?

Don’t we feel irritated that, it is the same five and five pence from Umuahia, to Jos, Oshgbo to Minna, Sokoto to Eket, same political class and patrons displaying stupendous wealth in the ‘ very before’ of lack?

If one is not concerned, if you don’t care, if we are not bothered, we may be behind our comfort zone, there may be ease but it’s not calm…I may not be worried, you may not be troubled or see distress in Nigeria, you may be the eternal optimist, or cautious optimist, our hope may cloud reality, however let us remember that the leopard’s stealthy gait is not a result of cowardice…our actions or inaction is being stalked.

The Yorubas say “were were nikan njele” meaning slowly, slowly is the manner in which termites consume a house, our inconspicuous and imperceptible problems in time are piling…if ‘e no concern you now, e go concern you soon’ Time will tell.

NAN|amebo|burningpot

The Permanent Secretary in the State House, Mr Emmanuel Ogbile, says the N1.3 billion budgeted for refreshment, meals and other miscellaneous expenses in the 2013 budget is inadequate.

Ogbile stated this in Abuja on Tuesday while defending the State House’s 2013 budget estimates before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs.

The total budget estimate for the State House in  2013 is N14.715 billion.

Ogbile explained that out of the N1.3 billion, “the Federal Executive Council (FEC) holds every Wednesday and we take care of them through this budget”.

He said, “I have taken pains to explain that this money is not just to fund the residence of the President and that of the Vice President.

“The experience I have had is that this fund is grossly insufficient. It’s not even enough,’’he said.

He listed other expenses that were taken care of in the refreshment and meals vote to include National Economic Council, Council of States, Presidential retreats, National Merit Award, Children’s Day, and hosting of dignitaries.

A breakdown of miscellaneous expenses in the presidential budget showed that N203.7 million was allocated for refreshment and meals, N107,4 million for honorarium and sitting allowance while N37.27 million was budgeted for publicity and advertisement.

Others include medical expenses of N50,3 million; postage and courier services ,N10.03 million, welfare packages N195,06 million; subscription to professional bodies, N4.58million as well as sporting activities, N32.9 million.

Meanwhile, feeding of animals including animal supplements for the veterinary clinic had N30.58 million.

Sen. Isa Galaudu (PDP-Kebbi) noted that Nigeria’s budget in one year was equivalent to what South Africa spent in five years.

Galaudu said that this was unacceptable, adding that efforts should be made to cut down the miscellaneous expenses in the budget.

In an interview with newsmen, Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Dahiru Kuta (PDP-Niger) said that the committee was concerned about the high cost of overheads for the State House.

Kuta said that the committee was working to ensure that the State House cut down its overheads.

 “We are saying that there is still room for improvement, they should do everything possible to cut down their overheads, particularly as it affects feeding and other things.

He, however, cautioned against comparing Nigeria with South Africa, saying that Nigeria’s population was far more than that of South Africa just as the environment was different.

Meanwhile, at the budget defence session of the Senate Committee on Police, the Minister of Police Affairs, retired Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade, told the committee that the police needed about 600,000 officers to effectively police the country.

Olubolade said that if the force had a staff strength of 600,000, it would translate to one policeman to 266 Nigerians, adding that this was the accepted global standard.

According to him, the staff strength was currently 370,000 officers which translates to one policeman to 432 Nigerians.

Senate President David Mark, who attended the session, noted that there was an urgent need to increase the staff strength of the police.

According to ark, the reason why people are clamouring for state police is because the police force does not have the numerical capacity to protect Nigerians.

“We need to seriously increase the strength of the police because, if increased, the clamour for state police will reduce,’’ he said.

Mark, who also attended the budget defence session of the Senate Committee on Power, decried the low level of implementation of the ministry’s 2012 capital budget.

“From what I have here, your allocation for overheads in 2012 is N541 million and N448 million was released, this shows 80 per cent implementation.

“For the capital component, however, only 28 per cent has been achieved which is relatively low,’’ the Senate President stressed.

Mark lamented that this was unfair since the ordinary Nigeria did not benefit from the overheads but rather the capital projects.

He appealed to the ministry to prioritise projects as this would yield better results, adding that Nigerians were complaining over low implementation of the budget.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that more ministries, departments and agencies are expected to defend their budget estimates on Wednesday.

 

Jonathan Loses Brother On Birthday

Posted: November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

AP|amebo|burningpot

The Nigerian presidency says President Goodluck Jonathan’s younger brother has died.

Spokesman Reuben Abati said in a statement that Meni Innocent Jonathan died Tuesday at the National Hospital in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja following a brief illness.

The hospital is considered one of most modern hospitals in a country where the political class typically seeks medical treatment abroad.

President Jonathan’s brother died on the president’s 55th birthday.

PT|DT|amebo|burningpot

In a continued cocktail of anomaly in our educational sector, Gov. Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State said that the recent verification exercise by the state government has revealed no fewer than 2,000 teachers with fake certificates employed in public schools.

…nearly 50 per cent of the fake teachers lacked the required teaching qualification.

While about 800 public school teachers in Ogun State used fake certificates to secure their employment, the Commissioner for Education and Technology, Segun Odubela, said in Abeokuta, the state capital, ‪‪Mr. Odubela said the state carried out an audit of all its teachers during which they were asked to come along with their certificates.‬‬
‪‪

An alarming number of teachers have been discovered not only to possess fake certificates but also engaged in various irregularities with which they were offered jobs in the public schools throughout the 20 Local Government Areas of the state, Mr. Odubela emphasised.‬‬

‪‪Apart of the 800 that may have used fake certificates, another 223 teachers did not show up for the screening, the commissioner said.

Also, cases of 21 birth certificate forgeries were detected just as a case of a teacher who gave four differing dates of birth, including one that showed that he would have commenced primary school four years before his birth were discovered.

‪‪The commissioner also said an official of the state’s basic education board disclosed that of the 19, 146 teachers on its payroll, only 69 percent were able to prove their eligibility to teach during the verification exercise.‬‬
‪‪

There is the case of a teacher who admitted amid tears, that in desperation, she paid N30, 000 to secure a forged certificate.

‪‪In his reaction, Sam Idowu, the state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) said the union is in support the government’s effort to sanitise the teaching profession, describing those who did not turn up for the screening as those who have been giving the profession a bad name.‬‬

Finally at the upper echelon, 529 ABU students use one toilet daily according to a report.

The average ratio of toilet to users in most public universities is 1:20, but Nigeria’s premier Northern University, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, breaks the record with an all time high of an average of 529 students using one toilet.

Graphic details of how the university, now celebrating 50 years of existence, has fallen from grace to grass is contained in a report which took a comprehensive inventory of facilities and assessment of the general condition of 61 public universities.

The Needs Assessment report put together by an 11-man committee headed by former Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) with former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as member, says the state of facilities and resources at ABU need “urgent attention.”

These record holding toilets are located at the Asma’u Mustapha Hostel, initially meant to accommodate 312 students but now has 3,178 students residing in it. With only six toilets at the disposal of these students, an average of 529 students use one toilet daily.

“The state of toilets in the university is of grave concern. The toilets are grossly inadequate. On the average, over 40 students share a toilet,” says the report.

But it isn’t only the toilets that need urgent attention, its learning resources were described as ‘obsolete and non-functional’ so much that, it’s two programmes- Architecture and Engineering, which earned it a revered reputation, now only have infrastructure and learning resources that are in a ‘parlous state’.

The university barely has interactive boards, public address systems, computers, magnetic boards, projectors, video-needful resources required to make teaching and learning easy.

As for the capacity of its 1,815 teaching staff, 42% have PhDs, 36% with Masters and 22% have first degrees.

This commendable quality of teaching staff is quite the opposite at a very young university within the same state, Kaduna State University, only eight years old. KASU is bottom heavy with Lecturers I to Graduate Assistants constituting 88% of the staff strength, only 1% are Professors, 5% Readers and 6% Senior Lecturers. Only 14% of full time staff are PhD staff, the rest are either Masters or 1st degree holders.

The university’s inability to attract high degree staff might not be unconnected to the stumpy release of its total allocation. Though N4 billion was allocated from 2009 to 2011, only 17% was released which is about N700 million.

The crisis of dilapidated hostels resurfaces at the Kano State University of Science and Technology Wudil.

Established in 2001, the university inherited a large majority of its physical facilities from Teachers College, most of which are as old as 54years.

It’s only hostel “is improvised and very unfit for human habitation. It is ramshackle and massively overcrowded with looming risk to health and safety,” says the report.
KSUT has only one professor, no reader and 151 of its 165 full time lecturers are between the ranks of Graduate Assistant to Lecturer 1.

Laboratory space is inadequate. 2 theatres constructed by TETFund in 2010 are the only excellent facilities.

Again, state government funding is nearly non-existent as only 6.5% of the N1.9bn allocated as capital grant from 2009 to 2011 was released.

Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto has a total of 16 abandoned projects. Most of the equipment in the laboratories and machineries in the workshops are obsolete.
The university has not commenced any form of automation in any of its libraries.

One irregularity noted by the report is that the Vice-chancellor’s office has the highest number of non-teaching staff- 390 out of 1,822.

In Kogi State university, every on-going project is being funded by TETFund and all abandoned projects in the university are those of the state government. 23 buildings are in a state of rapid deterioration and need urgent attention.

Generally, there is an average of four abandoned projects per university in Nigeria. Most of the abandoned projects are funded from capital allocations and are mainly students’ accommodation and lecture theatres.

The report accused university managers of expending huge resources in erecting university gates, wall fencing, and Vice Chancellor’s lodge, purchase of exotic cars while their libraries are still under construction, lecture rooms overcrowded and laboratories are bereft of basic facilities.
It is perhaps for these gross inadequacies, it recommended that federal government stop establishing new universities but rather concentrate on improving and expanding facilities of existing ones.

Proliferation of universities, the report says, has not improved access or assured quality.

C.Premium Times, Daily Trust and #amebo#

BBC|amebo|burningpot

Millions of pounds of UK government aid to Nigerian schools has failed to produce any major improvement in pupil learning, an independent watchdog says.

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact said the aid scheme was being undermined by a shortage of effective teachers and a lack of local support.

So far 102m has been spent in 10 Nigerian states, with a further 126m committed to 2019.

The UK government said the report had a limited focus but would be reviewed.

The Department for International Development’s (Dfid) education programme is operating “in a very challenging environment, with too few effective teachers, poor infrastructure and unpredictable state funding all contributing to poor learning outcomes for pupils in basic education”, the ICAI said in its critical report.

“Our review indicates no major improvement in pupil learning.”

‘Recent progress’

Using a traffic light rating system, the ICAI rated the scheme as amber-red – the second-lowest – which indicates “significant improvements” were required.

It found that around a third of the eligible children – an estimated 3.7 million – were still not in school, while those that were received little by way of education.

“We are concerned by the very high numbers of out-of-school children and the very poor learning outcomes in nine of the 10 Nigerian states supported by Dfid,” it said.

It said that, as a result of British aid, a seven-year-old Nigerian girl could be learning in a new school where the teacher had been trained with UK funding, but she still might leave education not knowing how to read or write.

The UK aid goes to 10 of Nigeria’s 36 states, but a Dfid spokesman responded: “This was a limited inquiry in that the team only visited 1% of schools, most of which were in only one state in Nigeria, and they did not take into account the most recent evidence of the project’s progress.

“However, we will carefully review the report’s recommendations and respond in due course.” C. BBC

By Leonard Karshima Shilgba

One of the responsibilities of a president is to inspire their citizens, to give them a reason to look forward to a better life. I watched the presidential media chat on Sunday, November 18, 2012, expecting to get answers from my president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan on certain national problems. I came away without answers. I was saddened the more that my president provided nothing refreshing on the menu. It was a disappointing episode of self-confession of incompetence and helplessness. In fact, it would be true to characterize Jonathan’s answers to pointed questions, particularly from the Editors of the Guardian and Sunday Mirror newspapers, as evasive and rambling, a presidential lamentation.

The president’s answers are a good example of what a president should not say.  A president must at least give the citizens a reason to have confidence in his abilities through presentation of clear bullet point solutions that he has for specific problems. He is not only to acknowledge that there are problems, but he should provide his solutions to those problems. He should have confidence in those solutions, and be courageous to make them open to public scrutiny. He is NEVER (I emphasize this word) expected to tell his people why it is difficult to implement a law or an act of the national assembly; rather he should tell steps he has taken or is taking to implement those. If a president laments and stops at that, what should the people do?

EDUCATION:The Editor of the Guardian newspapers, Mr Martins Oloja, asked what the president was doing to correct the disappointing rating of Nigerian universities. President Jonathan responded by painting a more disappointing scenario, and concluded that state governors should also be shown the report of a committee he had set up to compile a report on the state of both federal and state universities. That’s it! Did the president offer any solutions? He offered none! Any defence for Nigeria’s rating? President Jonathan said that he noticed that there were quite a number of countries in the world whose universities were not well ranked either!

Nigeria deserves better. In 2010, in my article titled, Goodluck Jonathan: Luck is not Enough, I wrote: “If I stood before the unapproachable throne of the Almighty and He asked me to choose one item from the list—Luck, Strength, Courage, Understanding, and Grace, I would definitely not choose Luck. Let me tell you why. There is an illusion that comes with luck right unto the doorsteps of a man’s soul. Luck creates an illusion of achievement where there is no labour. Luck disarms a man of the necessary barometer of self-assessment; it darkens the thin veil that shields human faults. You have not arrived on the wings of luck; rather the journey has just started when luck pushes you unto the dais which is only fit for those who have tasted both the bitter pill of defeat and the sweet wine of success. Luck carries with it the burden of responsibility, to prove yourself to those who hold the consensus that you are undeserving.

Luck does not qualify a man for leadership; it questions his ability to lead. Luck does not necessarily come with excellence; it makes you the cynosure of prying eyes, coloured with the question, ‘Can you excel; can you distinguish yourself now?’ The burden of leadership cannot be borne by those who never prepared for the opportunity. Truly, if you did not prepare for an opportunity before it came, you might waste it. Luck could be a wonderful thing, but that is if you prepared for it. The winds must have blown in your direction the suspicion that the opportunity was coming. That nudge that whispers the question: ‘What if…?’ must be unmistaken.” I am more convinced of the rectitude of those words now!

On Monetization Law:The president was asked by the Guardian editor why his government was not implementing the monetization policy without formally taking steps to put it aside. Mr Oloja cited two examples how the official houses of the senate president and speaker of the house of representatives were bought by those public officers and yet Jonathan’s government permitted new budget votes to build new official quarters for the current holders of these offices, which votes the current officers claim are not sufficient. Jonathan replied by saying that the policy “is good in theory” but difficult to implement. He gives an example of a government project supervisor who needs an official vehicle to supervise public projects. To him, that justifies the abuse of public office that the monetization policy sought to correct, which resulted in improvement in capital expenditures above recurrent expenditures. This beats me! Do you remember when during the Yar’Adua-Jonathan government, they started chipping away at the cornerstone of the monetization policy, first with buying  a “pool of vehicles”, which was contrary to the Certain Political, Public And Judicial Office Holders (Salaries And Allowances, etc.), Act 2002? Because Nigerians kept quiet President Jonathan has come out boldly to declare that an act of the national assembly cannot be implemented. The growing cost of running government, with expanded number of ministries post 2007, increased number of cabinet-level ministers, surging numbers of assistants, special assistants, advisers, senior advisors, etc., and the concomitant over-bloated overhead costs all combine to shoot up recurrent expenditures of the Nigerian government under President Jonathan. And he spoke in a cavalier manner about this.

When you heard of N 480 billion statutory transfers in the 2013 budget proposal of the Jonathan government, know that this is because of the negligence of the act I have referred to above and the breach of the monetization policy, which makes beneficiaries of such transfers (the national assembly, judiciary, and commissions recognized by the constitution) to take scandalous sums of money, yet producing nothing or little in return. Who can check this abuse when the legislature and judiciary in Nigeria collaborate with the executive to waste our commonwealth? If Nigerians will not collaborate, in spite of their mutual suspicions, and work together to enlighten the uninformed about the extravagance and lack of good conscience of the ruling party, and stir them against supporting the party, only a violent overthrow shall redeem this nation if it will not violently come crashing down.

When reminded by the editor of the Sunday Mirror, Gbemi Olujobi how Nigerians were fascinated by the personal story of his humble background, and voted for him, only to be disappointed by the extravagant lifestyle of his government, epitomized by lavish expenditures on feeding by the presidency, Mr Jonathan responded by naively saying that, “I eat only twice a day.” How did Nigerians get for themselves such a president who fails to understand simple question? He surprised probably not a few when he claimed ignorance of how much the presidency spends on food and drinks! That nails it. Our president is not leading; he has surrendered governance to those Nigerians did not vote to be their president. President Jonathan, shamelessly went on to say that, “Nigeria is an important country,” implying the expenditures on food and drinks that some folks are complaining about are none issues.

 

Halliburton scam:

When asked why his government was prevaricating about trying culprits entangled in the Halliburton bribery scandal, Jonathan used an old and stale line, “It is better to let criminals go free than to punish one innocent fellow.” This is an incongruous dictum adoption. The fact is that Nigeria does not have a government that is ready to punish rogues; and when punishment against evil is delayed, men do not learn to do right. President Jonathan would need decades to sort out the “innocent” from criminals before taking the Halliburton scandal criminals to court. In my article, “A Lessons on power for Dr Goodluck Jonathan” (2010), I wrote about the president: “One obvious mistake Dr Jonathan has consistently made since the resolution by the National Assembly on February 9th, 2010, making him the Acting President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation is to still think like a Vice-President. Until a man changes both the content and construction of his mind upon the thrust into the limelight of power his efficacy in the new role will be mediocre. Until Dr Jonathan re-creates himself, he shall remain insipid, boring, and of no positive effect whatsoever to the exigencies of the time. My reading is that Dr Jonathan is scared of many Ministers of the Federation and certain individuals whom he considers ‘very powerful.’ You cannot be an effective leader when you are afraid of the people over whom you should preside.”

 

Security

President Jonathan was asked why he did not care to visit the troubled region of Nigeria (North Eastern states such as Borno and Yobe, which have been hard hit by Boko Haram). He rather spent time talking about some incidental reference to the Odi raid of 2000. He provided no answer for his failure to visit Nigerians in Borno and Yobe states who don’t feel they have a president who cares; neither did he provide hope about resolving the security challenges of Nigeria.

On electricity power supply in Nigeria, I guess you have read how the Jonathan government has promised to grant tax holiday to manufacturers that can generate their electricity! Do you know the implication? The leadership failure of Jonathan’s government will lead to loss of tax revenue because of this holiday. You may have noticed that in some parts of Nigeria (I say this advisedly because I don’t know where you are reading this article from) electricity supply has deteriorated in the past few weeks since the exit of Professor Barth Nnaji. The president promised during the media chat that he would fix the electricity problem and the Benin-Ore road (on which one of his ministers shed tears about two years ago). This statement was made in response to a comment by a Nigerian viewer who had tweeted that if President Jonathan could fix the road and electricity problem of Nigeria, he would become a great Nigerian president. I would wish for Jonathan to become a great Nigerian president. But he cannot become one without showing a good knowledge and understanding of what our problems are, without having the will to tackle them without fear, and without a sense of urgency that Nigerians expect of him. His answers were uninspiring. He did not speak to the fears and discouragement of Nigerians. He failed to show he was on the side of the people. Jonathan has lost (if at all he had it in the first place) any moral authority to engage the national assembly on their excesses, for they bear the same kind of spots. The Nigerian judiciary is openly corrupt (Jonathan was reminded during the chat about the latest rating of Nigeria as the second most corrupt country); anarchy has set in the land. The presidential media chat was a reminder to Nigerians that they should be ready to suffer all kinds of indignities and torments for the next two and half years. The three arms of government have collaborated to oppress Nigerians. Now they govern by “committees”. The president spoke quite a bit about committees he has set up, and how ignorant Nigerians are for not noticing when he is implementing the recommendations of those committees. Well, I know that committees have never been helpful, at least in my adult days in Nigeria. When a matter has been handed over to a “committee”, it is only a euphemistic expression of taking it off the public menu of engagement.

Every nation that practices governance through elected representatives must define so clearly what democracy should mean to its people. Such definition comes in form of rituals that distinguish it from other nations. The ability to invent forms of governance that are specific, meaningful, acceptable to the majority of the people, realistic, and time-bound sets a nation apart as intelligent in its conduct. A nation consists of people who have agreed to live and interact together on the basis of laws, not necessarily given by a divine being, but given by the people to themselves in the form of a constitution. And if the people have given to themselves a constitution, it is then a given that such a constitution should not be injurious to their interest, not be restrictive on their aspiration, and not vitiate provisions that are generous to them through some other clauses in the same constitution. Is this the best we can afford for ourselves? Is this the best president we can have for ourselves? Is this the best legislature or judiciary Nigerians are deserving of?  The president said that, “PDP is the party to beat.” If this is true then I don’t know Nigerians; they must be truly a queer group.

By Prince Charles Dickson

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review

Tom and Jerry is a series of theatrical animated cartoon films created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, centering on a never-ending rivalry between a cat (Tom) and a mouse (Jerry) whose chases and battles often involved comic violence…

The series features comedic fights between an iconic set of enemies, a house cat and mouse. The plots of each short usually center on Tom’s numerous attempts to capture Jerry and the mayhem and destruction that ensues. Tom rarely succeeds in catching Jerry, mainly because of Jerry’s cleverness, cunning abilities, and luck.

A longtime television staple, Tom and Jerry has a worldwide audience that consists of children, teenagers and adults, and has also been recognized as one of the most famous and longest-lived rivalries in American cinema. In 2000, TIME named the series one of the greatest television shows of all time.

The cartoons are infamous for some of the most violent cartoon gags ever devised in theatrical animation, such as Jerry slicing Tom in half, shutting his head in a window or a door, Tom using everything from axes, firearms, explosives, traps and poison to try to murder Jerry, Jerry stuffing Tom’s tail in a waffle iron and a mangle, kicking him into a refrigerator, plugging his tail into an electric socket, pounding him with a mace, club or mallet, causing a tree or an electric pole to drive him into the ground, sticking matches into his feet and lighting them, tying him to a firework and setting it off, and so on.

In January this year when I wrote on the fuel subsidy, I stated categorically that government, Tom as it were, the big cat was just telling lies, and looking for rats to make meal of, when I equally penned my admonition on the ‘Occupy Nigeria’ which saw about half a dozen Nigerians die, I said we were just deceiving ourselves, like Jerry we will keep running.

I equally knew that like Tom and Jerry we were just romancing each others’ arms looking for spots of evil compromise at the expense of the ‘reality. While in the cartoon, Jerry often has his ways, escaping Tom, the reverse is our case, as I read my wife’s project on ‘Cinematography, The Art Of Storytelling: Tom And Jerry…I decided to watch again, I laughed in tears, knowing Nigeria is painfully not ready, between Tom and Jerry is just one cartoon tale of pain

I am almost laughing in a most comical manner as I go again through that unSURE document, a pirated version of old SAP paper and NEEDs document.

Fact is, how’s fuel crisis Jonathan’s problem. Its been there before him, will be there even after him. A stage-managed launch of some unpaid for, smoking diesel buses were used to deceive Jerry of Tom’s good intent. We simply forget they lie, the president lied, it is all lies, damned lies and statistics.

The government is doing a Tom. Labour is not left out deceiving the Jerrys while hobnobing with Tom. The industrial players or thieves as I call them and we the docile populace complete the animated series, of mayhem and destruction that ensues, each party playing cleverness, displaying cunning abilities, and luck, but for how long?

Why does deregulation translate to high prices, why is it that its only in Nigeria that these high prices are not reflective of earnings of Jerry. The routine is in the horizon, strike, mass protest and the Toms will be on vacation and Jerry will be the sacrificial lamb, and off course more Tommy millionaires and billionaires will be made.

Nigerians are tired, hungry and not in protest mode. There’s no fuel scarcity but fuel criminality because we are Tom-ing and Jerry-ing with a leadership that lacks will.

Where are the refineries promised–Tomed and Jerried, instead we see budgetary allocations called ‘Turn Around Money’ for the ‘Toms’.

In this Tom and Jerry cartoon, there’s no PMS in the fuel station but unregistered marketers/blackmarkers all have the commodity, subsidy thieves and Toms are negotiating a plea bargain. Nigerians and Jerry are made to suffer.

Our Tom and Jerry is the continued rationalisation and justification of absurdities like a commentator put it. It is even more disheartening when the intellectual effort and voice of elites are at the heart of such theatricals due to ethno-religious cleavages birthed on economic disenfranchisement.

In Tom and Jerry, despite all, they don’t kill each, I dare say pricing of fuel is not the major problem Nigeria is facing. Our major problem is the lack of leadership manifesting itself in every facet of our human endeavors. Some of these areas may be fixable in future if we get the right people with right policies but how do you fix the future of the mass population of our children who are not getting educated today?

The future of Nigeria is bright interesting, but scary if we reflect about it. Teachers are illiterates, students can’t go to school because schools are closed down and alternatives unaffordable, the change is bleak…with minds largely improvished and constantly on the run like Jerry.

In a functional society, a working democracy with a strategic plan, a modern mass transit system, which connect cities to towns, workers to businesses and government facilities, in order to foster the productivity of the entire economy would have been a part recipe. Sadly the Toms are buying jets, while Jerry is perpetually scheming for survival.

The Tom and Jerry cartoon was finally rested, there are times and seasons…The fuel management chain is a lucrative cankerworn of corruption, a serious government can yet tackle it, its beyond committees and white papers. Its action, only action can stop the Tom and Jerry chase.

Jonathan can, I believe he can but he doesn’t know that he can, doubt if he’s ready. The Toms are having a field day but each fleeting moment , three facts of life beckons, the rising of sun, setting of the moon and truth–Time will tell.

God Loves a Cheerful Giver…

Posted: November 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

By Simon Kolawole Live!:

If you think I am about to mount the “pulpit” this morning to ask the “congregation” to “donate” generously, you are correct. But it is not to buy a private jet. Rather, it is for humanitarian purposes – to save lives, to put a smile on someone’s face, to clothe someone, to feed someone, to comfort someone in this season of pain. This is an unusual topic to write about; you are used to reading politics and economics on this page every Sunday. But as I sit in the comfort of my room hitting my laptop keyboard, without a worry in the world, over two million Nigerians are homeless as a result of the floods that ravaged a dozen states between August and October this year.

The floods are now receding, but nearly 400 lives were lost in the tragedy. Thousands were injured, some permanently. Overall, seven million Nigerians were affected. Lives and livelihoods are disrupted or destroyed, further worsening poverty in the land. As people live in make-shift shelters and defecate in open spaces, the risk of contracting diseases is high. Some commentators are putting the human tragedy on the scale of what happened in New Orleans, United States, in 2005. It is that catastrophic. It’s a new experience to us in Nigeria as we have not witnessed such a widespread disaster before. But what are YOU doing about it, apart from shaking your head in pity and lamenting how irresponsible our leaders are?

One thing I have discovered about us Nigerians is that many of us are not averse to giving – the problem is, I suppose, we think certain kind of giving is not for us. While we may find it easy to help a cousin who needs to pay school fees or a neighbour who wants to settle hospital bills, it is not very popular to give to people we don’t know. When we read that there is school that has no desks, we shake our heads and lament about “this country”. It doesn’t usually cross our mind that we can buy desks for that school with just N50,000! When we hear that some people have been rendered homeless by a fire incident or a collapsed building, we just say “so sad” and move on to the next topic. This problem should be handled by the government, we declare.

Aside individual responses, however, big business must also learn to give responsibly without being pushed. It was a bit embarrassing watching Alhaji Aliko Dangote practically cajole the big guys to donate at the fund-raising dinner for flood victims two weeks ago, but maybe it’s a culture we have to develop gradually. We are used to giving in a particular way and to particular causes. The flood catastrophe appears to be the first major national disaster that we are raising funds for. When Ikeja cantonment was rocked by explosions in 2002, with over a thousand killed in the ensuing stampede, I can’t remember if there was any national effort to help the victims. For a country that courts disasters all the time, individuals and big business may have to alter their approach to relief efforts.

Dangote, the co-chair of the Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation, said at the dinner: “As my grandfather once told me, ‘The soul of business is not making money but making people happy.’ I believe quite strongly that people make the difference – and not the balance sheet. We impact positively on the lives of the people, not by how much money we have accumulated, but by how much goodwill we have accumulated. We should give while we are alive and also when we are young and capable. Sometimes, we need to have the genuine experience of deprivation and poverty in order to appreciate the need to be our brother’s keeper.” Big business must understand this fact.

Dangote followed his words with action, donating a total of N2.5 billion. That is the spirit. Telecoms and oil companies were conspicuously absent, although Mr. Jim Ovia saved the day with N1 billion donation on behalf of Visafone. Arthur Eze also gave N1 billion. I have heard the ever-cynical Nigerians say these are government contractors who would make their money back and I wonder: why are we like this in this country? Give, we won’t give! All we can do is sit down and criticise those who are giving! There are many contractors who care little about the poor and would never give even if we beg them from now till eternity. I know many Nigerian billionaires who cannot be bothered with putting a kobo into charity, yet they keep benefitting from the system. Yet, those who decide to give, we malign. The cynicism is getting to the point of insanity, I’m afraid.

We need to talk less and do more. I was touched to learn that Professor Pat Utomi had launched an individual effort. We don’t have to go through the government route to help the victims. Anything government, we know, is prone to fraud. All food is Halal to corrupt government officials, including relief materials and budgets for poverty alleviation. It’s an incredible country. But we can identify credible agencies that will channel our donations directly to the victims. Meanwhile, we cannot all give N500 million like Otunba Mike Adenuga Jnr, but there are things we can give in our own little way. There are shoes in our racks we’ve not touched in three months. There are clothes in our wardrobes we’ve not seen in four months. There is N5000 hiding in our wallets that can buy mattresses. Even N1000 can buy a bag of “pure water”. We can donate buckets and toilet rolls!

Above all, we – individuals and big business – must begin to cultivate the culture of giving not just to our family and friends and customers, but also to causes and people who don’t know and may never know. It is not always that people have to say “thank you” to us.

And Four Other Things…

Jonathan Beware
Could it be that President Goodluck Jonathan is not aware that posterity will judge him largely on his performance in the power sector? Why is he listening to the confusionists and greedy guys in government who are bent on stalling the reform so that billions of naira will continue to be voted to PHCN? First, they chased away Professor Bart Nnaji as power minister. Now, they are scheming to take over the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) by seeking to terminate the management agreement with the Canadian firm, Manitoba Hydro International, through the back door. I’m scandalised.

The Godfather Sleeps
My grandfather, who died this year, was a staunch supporter of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Our house used to serve as the UPN office, I recall. I don’t know what happened before the 1983 general election (I was too young to query him), but grandpa suddenly switched to NPN and became an ally of Chief SB Awoniyi and Dr. Olusola Saraki. Ironically, Saraki, having fallen out with the incumbent Kwara State governor, Alhaji Adamu Attah, directed his supporters to vote for UPN’s Chief CO Adebayo. UPN won convincingly, and Saraki consolidated his position as the godfather of Kwara politics forever (well, until his son dethroned him last year). Good night, Oloooooye!

Elections and Violence
In my article last week, I accused politicians of fomenting violence after losing an election. However, a reader said the violence is “spontaneous”. I beg to disagree. Electoral violence is never spontaneous. It usually starts before the election. Guns are bought and distributed. Opponents are tagged “traitors” or “quislings”. Threats, blackmail and intimidation are deployed. Sectional sentiments are played up. Petrol and disused tyres are acquired to burn people’s houses. How can this be spontaneous? And, I ask yet again, where is the love for country? Must you serve “my people” by force?

Incredible Ibra
The football world has been celebrating Ronaldo and Messi, but my favourite player for many years has been Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish striker, who is loved and hated in equal measure for his self-confidence, is a deadly finisher with his back to goal. Last Wednesday, the son of a Bosnian Muslim father and Croatian Catholic mother scored what should easily pass as the best goal ever on TV – an incredible overhead kick from outside the penalty box in Sweden’s 4-2 win over England. For good measure, Ibrahimovic scored all of Sweden’s goals in the friendly match.

simon.kolawole@thisdaylive.com

20121118-112050.jpg

 
NLC|amebo|burningpot

The statement by the President claiming that only the removal of fuel subsidy will allow for domestic refining of fuel is highly disturbing. More so coming at this time of the year, when many see the current fuel scarcity being experienced in most parts of the country as being artificially created. With the wave of revelations regarding monumental corruption in the Petroleum industry it will be unimaginable to contemplate any other thing than focusing on ridding the industry of the endemic corruption that has become so pervasive in the industry.
 

Nigerians would love to see President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan dissipate energy on fighting corruption in the industry as he promised Nigerians. All those so far indicted in corrupt practices in the Fuel Subsidy scam have not yet been prosecuted. More revelations on corruption keep coming out by the day.

 

The argument proffered that domestic refining of Petroleum products is only possible under private operators cannot be defended. Our refineries were built and operated successfully as fully public owned enterprises in the past and until the industry was massively inflicted with corruption and home for corrupt government officials and their cronies, the refineries functioned well.

 

Today, the problem with the petroleum industry is largely lack of decency and political will on the part of the government to deal with those who have already been identified as having corruptly enriched themselves with funds meant for the industry.

 

We believe Mr. President is not being honest with Nigerians about the real problems of the industry. The same President who set up several committees to identify the crisis in the industry and who have been given detailed reports by the committees cannot validly say he is still helpless. Some of the committees, including those set up by the National Assembly, particularly the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee led by Hon. Farouk Lawal identified not just the problems of the industry but specifically named individuals and companies who have diverted subsidies meant for the industry to private use. Majority of them are political associates of those in power. 

 Indeed, 

 the President has been seen severally hobnobbing in public with some of the key persons indicted by the reports.

 

In a decent society, all those who have been indicted by all the reports would have been facing accelerated prosecution or serving severe jail terms for committing economic crimes injurious to public interest.

 

As at this moment, N1.7 trillion meant to subsidize the industry has been diverted by identified private individuals and companies and the government is not in any hurry to prosecute the alleged thieves. We can’t therefore understand why the President is in so much haste to inflict deeper poverty on Nigerians.

 

When government kept silent over the prevailing scarcity of petroleum products in the country, we alerted Nigerians that it was clear the government was testing grounds for further increases in fuel prices and we wish to reiterate our resolute rejection of such attempts.

 

No responsible government will allow private interests to hold her hostage against the collective interests of the people. It is becoming apparent that those in power seem more inclined serving individual interests than protecting our collective treasures. And we will massively mobilize Nigerians against his new anti people plans.

 

While the Department of Petroleum Resources of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum has the responsibility to ensure consumers are not shortchanged by marketers, the DPR, security and other government agencies watch helplessly as marketers sell far above the official rates. They are even bold enough to display the unilaterally fixed new prices in their pump meters. These cannot be reigning under a serious government.

 

The crisis that will welcome any announcement of further withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products will be so monumental and so far reaching than envisaged by anyone. 

  The January protests would seem a child’s play compared to what might follow any attempt to deregulate the downstream sector of the oil industry.

 

This government has more than enough reports and details to commence a honest process of punishing those in illegal possession of our collective wealth rather than inflict more pains on Nigerians, while industries and virtually all public infrastructures have collapsed.

 

 

Abdulwahed Omar
President NLC

ST|amebo|burningpot

While the Federal Government in Nigeria is making efforts to completely deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry that will see an increase in pump price of petrol from the current (official) N97 to at least N141 per litre, the Chinese Government has for the fourth time this year reduced the price of petrol for its motorists.

Starting from Friday, Chinese motorists will pay a reduced price for petrol and diesel. In China, price for petrol per litre has been reduced by 0.22 yuan (N5.5) while the price per litre of diesel has been reduced by 0.26 yuan (N6.6).

The price reduction is the fourth in 2012.

The regulatory National Development and Reform Commission, NDRC, said on Thursday in a statement that the cuts followed a drop in the cost of crude oil in the international market which was affected by the presidential election in the United States and the slow recovery of the global economy.

International oil prices have tumbled. WTI and Brent oil futures dropped to $85 a barrel and $105 a barrel, respectively, as of the start of November,” the NDRC said in a statement on its website.

The cut which takes effect on Friday represents a decrease of 3.2% for petrol and 3.4% for diesel on the ceiling benchmarks of CNY9, 640/tonne and CNY8, 820/tonne respectively.

As at Wednesday, the value of China’s crude basket had fallen by 4.36% since September 7.

Under the country’s oil-product pricing system, which started in 2008, domestic fuel prices may be adjusted when the moving average of the basket of international crudes change more than 4% over the 22-working-day period.

China imports nearly half of its oil requirements and the NDRC determines the price of the products based on international market forces.

The NDRC last adjusted petrol and diesel prices on September 11 this year, adding CNY550/ tonne and CNY540/tonne respectively, to reflect rising international oil prices.

China’s system is a bit different from Nigeria’s. Though prices are adjusted based on international price of crude, the government still determines how much petrol and diesel are sold to the citizens to avoid exploitation by fuel stations.

The Nigerian Government has said it needs to completely deregulate petrol to make it readily available. Diesel is already completely deregulated and marketers choose how much they want to sell to motorists.

C. Premium Times