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Delta PDP Set To Expel Ex-Education Minister, His Son Over Anti-Party Activities

21 March 2019 - 1:26pm

The Delta State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is concluding all plans to expel the former Minister of State for Education, Kenneth Gbagi, his son and others from the party for working against the interest and candidates of PDP in the just concluded general elections in his ward and unit.

Speaking in confidence with SaharaReporters on the planned expulsion of the ex-education minister, his son, Emuoboh Gbagi, Special Adviser to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on DESOPADEC, and others, an executive member of the party in the state, who does not want his name mentioned, disclosed that "the expulsion followed a strong worded petition from some leaders of the party in Oginibo, Ughelli South local government area of the state, which was addressed to the state party chairman and copied the state governor and others".

According to the party official, the petition was already being looked into and expulsion already being planned so as to serve as deterrent to others.

A petition, made available to our correspondent by the party official, signed by a group of party leaders Andrew Desi, Viv Pela, Ken Pela, Ochuko Mejire, Omoefe Pela and Freeborn Onokata, under the aegis of "Concerned PDP Leaders Of Oginibo in Ughelli South Local Government Area Of Delta State" accused some past and present political office holders in the area of aiding Gbagi in the anti-party activities during the elections.

The petition, which was addressed to the state Chairman of PDP, Kingsley Esiso, copied to Okowa, former Governor James Ibori, former Deputy Governor Amos Utuama, Chairman Disciplinary Committee of PDP Delta State, Chairman PDP Delta Central, Chairman PDP Ughelli South and chairman PDP Jeremi Ward II, noted that Gbagi allegedly worked for candidates of opposition political parties as against the candidates of the PDP.

The petitioners gave names of those allegedly involved in the anti-party activities and aided Gbagi, to include, the former Minister's son who is a Special Adviser to the Governor on DESOPADEC matters, Emuoboh Gbagi, caught disbursing funds and canvassing votes for YES party in Units 15 and 16 of Oginibo; Tareri Avwomakpa, Special Assistant to the Governor on Legal Matters, who was seen disbursing funds and canvassing for votes for YES party in Unit 23 of Oginibo, Lucky Oniyan, current councillor representing DSIEC Jeremi Ward 16 who was said to have coordinated the disbursement of funds and canvassing for votes for the YES party in Imode.

Also mentioned in the anti-party activities in the petition are Gbenga Avwomakpa, former councillor; John Adjeke, former two-term supervisory councillor and Christian Ushevwitode, current PDP youth leader for Jeremi Ward II who were also seen disbursing funds and canvassing for votes for the YES party in their various polling units in Oginibo.

The petitioners alleged that Gbagi connived with others to collect funds meant for logistics for the said governorship and House of Assembly elections in Jeremi Ward II to fund an opposition candidate of the YES party to the detriment of his PDP candidates who had to go the extra miles to mobilise his teeming supporters to prosecute the said elections.

“Based on the foregoing, we believe we have established a prima facie case against Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi and the other 6 listed persons on the following counts of disobeying the lawful directives of the party by working for the YES party House of Assembly candidate instead of the PDP House of Assembly Candidate and engaging in anti-party activities.

"A prima facie case has been established against Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi and his son Olorogun Emuoboh Gbagi on the following counts of disobeying the lawful directives of former Deputy Governor, Prof Amos Utuama to involve other leaders of the community/ward in the deployment of logistics by using such to work against the interest of the PDP.

"An analysis of votes in the March 9 Election results in Agbaghara, Imode and Oginibo which makes up Jeremi Ward II, shows that because of the anti-party activities of Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi and 6 others listed earlier, the YES party got a whooping 1,049 votes from the 3 communities representing 83 percent of total votes of 1,258 gotten by the YES party in the entire local government area.

"Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi had engaged in such activities in the past but we were not bothered because he wasn’t operating in the mainstream PDP at the state level and as such we were prepared for his antics, however, having come to the mainstream PDP, such activities coming from someone benefiting from patronage and appointments from the government to the detriment of those who have remained loyal to the party over the years, could spell doom for the party in the locality if not contained.

"In view of the foregoing, we hereby recommend that Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi and the 6 others earlier identified be expelled from the party in line with the provisions of Section 58 (1) (c) (d) (f) and Section 59 (1) (g) of the constitution of the party," the petition demanded.

Calls put across to Gbagi were not responded to as of the time of filing in this report. However, political associates and allies close to Gbagi said he is unperturbed over the issue, saying the ex-minister only worked against the reelection of the House of Assembly candidate of the party, in the area, Reuben Izeze, who is said not to be in good terms with Gbagi.

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EFCC Rejects US Report On Corruption In Buhari Administration

21 March 2019 - 1:14pm

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has faulted the report credited to the United States government claiming that there is massive corruption under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Noting that the report was “far from the truth”, the commission noted that Nigeria had made “remarkable achievements” in the fight against administration.

A statement issued on the report by ThisDay, published on Sunday, noted that the US claim is “unfounded” as the present administration’s war against corruption “is on course”.

EFCC said it had secured 943 convictions between 2015 and 2018, adding that as at March 19, 2019, it had recorded additional 142 convictions.

See EFCC’s Statement in Full:

The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been drawn to a misleading report of the United States Department of Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour over Nigeria’s anti-graft war, published in ThisDay Newspaper of March 17, 2019 entitled: “Nigeria: Massive, Pervasive Corruption At All Levels of Govt – US Report”.

The report, among other things, said that “there is a climate of impunity in the President Muhammadu Buhari government that allows officials to engage in corrupt practices with a sense of exemption from punishment”. The Bureau, in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018, said Nigeria had made little progress in efforts to limit corruption in its public service. This report is not only outdated and false but misleading.

The report is unfounded on the grounds of Nigeria’s remarkable achievements in the last four years as the war against corruption is on course.

The EFCC’s commitment to the fight against corruption in the last four years is not in doubt to any discerning and genuinely concerned observer. This commitment is benchmarked by the unprecedented record of convictions, non-conviction based forfeiture and stolen assets recovery.

We are surprised that the US report could ignore or downplay our convictions in such a brazen manner when it claimed that the EFCC secured only 13 convictions in 2016. That is false and far from the truth.

Remarkable Convictions

For the avoidance of doubt, the EFCC has secured 943 convictions since 2015 till date. The agency recorded 103 convictions in 2015, secured 195 convictions in 2016, got 189 convictions in 2017. It is important to state that the EFCC secured 314 convictions in 2018 including two former state governors who were sentenced to 14 years imprisonment without option of fine. It is instructive to note that the two former governors serving their jail terms in prison are members of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). The Commission has so far recorded 142 convictions as at March 19 this year. These are verifiable facts.

We wish to state unequivocally that these convictions being celebrated included high profile persons among who were top ranking military personnel and other politically exposed persons.

It is instructive to state that no other agency in Africa has this record of convictions and recovery of stolen assets which were achieved in spite of great encumbrances faced by the Commission in the discharge of its assignment as it has come to be known that when you fight corruption, corruption fights back.

Assets Recovery and Forfeitures

As a quick reminder, the Supreme Court of Nigeria had on Friday, March 8, 2019 in a unanimous judgement, dismissed the appeal of a former First Lady and wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, against the interim forfeiture order of a Federal High Court, Lagos, for $8, 400, 000 (Eight Million Four Hundred Dollars) traced to her by the EFCC and believed to be proceeds of illegal activities.

Subsequently, on March 14, 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed another application by Mrs. Jonathan, seeking to upturn the interim forfeiture order by a Federal High Court, Lagos placed on the sum of N2.4 billion linked to her.

Also of interest is the fact that the former Chief of Defence Staff, the late Alex Badeh forfeited six choice properties and $1, 000,000 (One Million Dollars) to the Federal Government, few days ago on the order of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

It could also be recalled that the EFCC on Friday, March 1, 2019, secured the final forfeiture of the sum N732.85 million being proceed of fraud perpetuated by 17 individuals in the Presidential Amnesty Programme Office. These are no rhetoric, but hard facts!

We further wish to state that in the area of convictions, Air Vice Marshall Tony Omenyi (retd), was jailed by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, February 28, 2019. He was found guilty of the amended three-count charge brought against him by the EFCC and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment without an option of fine.

Justice Dimgba, also ordered Huzee Nigeria Limited, a concern owned by Omenyi being a corporate entity to forfeit N60, 000, 000 (Sixty Million Naira) to the Federal Government.

Indeed, the EFCC has revolutionized the process of assets tracing and recovery. From the available records, the Commission recovered assets worth several billions of naira and different foreign currencies between 2015 and 2017.

Breakdown of the recoveries for the three year period (2015- 2017) show that N676, 522, 889, 647.05 (Six Hundred and Seventy Six Billion, Five Hundred and Twenty Two Million, Eight Hundred and Eighty Nine Thousand, Six Hundred and Forty Seven Naira and Five Kobo); $254, 563, 877.27 (Two Hundred and Fifty Four Million Five Hundred and Sixty Three Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy Seven Dollars, twenty Six Cents); 486, 736.82 Pound (Four Hundred and Eighty Six Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty Six Pounds Eighty Two Pennies); Euro 8, 136, 071.13 (Eight Million, One Hundred and Thirty Six Thousand and Seventy One Euro and Thirteen Cents); 80, 931, 500 CFA; 3, 729.50 RMB/YUAN; 452, 175 DIRHAM; 90, 956SR; 117, 004 CAD$ (ONE Hundred and Seventeen Thousand and Four Canadian Dollar); 120, 141.50 YEN; 5, 000Francs and 2, 000 Ruppies.

In 2018 alone, various sums amounting to billions in Naira and other foreign currencies were also forfeited to the Federal Government through the unrelenting efforts of the EFCC. The sums are: N171, 131, 700, 541.17 (One Hundred and Seventy One Billion, One Hundred and Thirty One Million, Seven Hundred Thousand Five Hundred and Forty One Naira and Seventeen Kobo); $14, 490, 174.49 (Fourteen Million, Four Hundred and Ninety Thousand One Hundred and Seventy Four Dollars Forty Nine Cent); 873, 278. 09 Pounds (Eight Hundred and Seventy Three Thousand Two hundred and Seventy Eight Pounds and Nine Pennies); 298, 055 (Two Hundred and Ninety eight Thousand, and Fifty Five Euros); 391, 838 (Three hundred and Ninety One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty Eight Riyals) and 10, 135 Dirham (Ten Thousand One Hundred and Thirty Five Dirham). These recoveries are unprecedented as no other agency can boast of such record.

Judging by the dexterity with which the Commission has prosecuted its cases from the High Court to Court of Appeal up to the Supreme Court, the Commission is by far the major contributor to case law and jurisprudence in Nigeria. The major Law Reports are replete with successfully concluded cases by the Commission. Again, these facts are verifiable!

Burden of Proof Now Resides With Defendant

Until recently, the practice has been that the burden of proof in criminal prosecution resides with the prosecution. But that was overturned in FRN v. YAHAYA which was decided on January 25, 2019. SC.645/2014.

This was a case in which the Supreme Court upheld the argument of the EFCC that the burden of proof had now been shifted from the prosecution to the defendant in terms of ill gotten wealth.

The apex court further held that the defendant would have to show that his income was in tandem with what he acquired otherwise such ill gotten wealth and properties would be forfeited to the Federal Government.

This is a landmark decision with potential to improve the fight against corruption in Nigeria. It is regrettable that this feat failed to impress the United States Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour.

Worrisome Report with Inaccuracies

Indeed, the US report’s portrayal of the work of the EFCC which is replete with inaccurate information is worrisome considering the close relationship between the Commission and some US entities.

Agencies of the US Government, especially the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), US Securities and Exchange Commission, Post and Telecommunications Department and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) have very strong collaboration with the EFCC in the delicate task of tracing and seizing assets stolen but stashed abroad by rogue Nigerian officials. We also have FBI agent domiciled in the EFCC.

Even as many of those assets are still stashed in US financial and property markets, these US agencies are familiar with the determination and passion with which the Commission is going about the fight against corruption.

10 Different Countries Seek Mutual Legal Assistance from EFCC

Unfortunately, the US Report does not reflect this deep knowledge of the EFCC and its work, which is enough reason to be suspicious about the motives behind the publication.

To underscore the important role which EFCC is playing in the fight against economic and financial crimes, no fewer than 10 countries on Monday, March 18, 2019, requested for Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) with the Commission. This is unprecedented in the history of any agency in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular.

Malabu’s case

The prowess of the EFCC’s investigative power is worthy of note in the celebrated Malabu’s case. The historic trial of prominent major oil companies- Shell and ENI in Milan, Italy by the public prosecutor was made possible by the political will of President Muhammadu Buhari and dexterity of the EFCC.

The comprehensive investigation of the commission and evidence generated in prosecuting the corrupt deal formed part of documents used in prosecuting the criminal aspects of the notorious deal by the Milan prosecutor.

The EFCC recorded another first in Africa with its prosecutor appearing in the Milan trial as a witness, the first of such to happen in Italian prosecution.

Some individuals including an Italian, Gianlura Di Nardo and a Nigerian, Emeka Obi, were last year convicted in the matter while the Dutch prosecutor just recently notified Shell of his readiness to prosecute the oil giant over the controversial deal.

US Report, a Disservice to EFCC

From the foregoing, it is clear that the report authored by the American agency has done a great disservice to the work of the EFCC in particular and the fight against corruption under the leadership of President Buhari, an administration that is globally acknowledged for the enormous political will it has brought to the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

We are conscious of our past with previous government officials’ involvement in corrupt practices with impunity but that history is being re-written by this government and the commission.

The rest of Africa appreciate the administration’s work in terms of fighting corruption in Nigeria which was the impetus behind the designation of President Buhari as the Anti- Corruption Champion early last year by the African Union (AU). In that capacity, President Buhari is saddled with the responsibility of leading the rest of Africa out of the corruption quagmire.

At the level of the EFCC, the Acting Chairman of the commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, attained the leadership of the Heads of Anti- Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa (HACACA) in May 2018. This was based on his antecedents and acknowledged track records in the fight against corruption.

There can be no greater validation of the revolutionary impact of the fight against corruption in Nigeria in the last four years than these milestones achievements. But for those who cannot see any good in what Nigeria is doing, it is better to leave the country alone than distract it with bogus reports.

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Nigerian Government Closes Case Against Onnoghen

21 March 2019 - 10:29am

Onnoghen in court

After calling three of its proposed six witnesses in the case filed against Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), the Nigerian government has closed its case.

Onoghen is standing trial on allegations bordering on fraudulent declaration of assets.

At the resumed hearing on Thursday before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Aliyu Umar (SAN), who led the prosecution counsel, closed its case after the third witness, Ifeoma Okeagbue, an official of Standard Chartered Bank, concluded her testimony.

Umar also offered to hand over the remaining three witnesses to the defence team. However, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), the lead defence counsel, rejected the offer.

Afterwards, with the permission of the three-man bench chaired by Danladi Umar, Awomolo consulted with Onnoghen, who was docked. He then announced that the defendant had taken the option to file a no-case submission, but sought time to write an address.

“We intend to take advantage of Section 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 on no-case submission. If your lordship permits me to write a written address, I am praying to be given proceedings of 18th and today,” he stated.

The CCT Chairman then fixed March 29 for counsel to adopt their written addresses.

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IN FULL: INEC's Decisions On All The States Requiring Supplementary Election, Results Collation

21 March 2019 - 8:59am

Festus Okoye (middle) addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rolled out timelines and activities for the conclusion of the collation of results and supplementary elections in the country.

Festus Okoye, the National Commissioner in Charge of Information and Voter Education, disclosed this on Thursday at a press conference in Abuja.

He said the supplementary elections would be conduct in 13 states of the federation on March 23, 2019, adding that details of the states and constituencies where elections would take place would be updated on the commission's website before the close of work on Thursday.

He said all observers and journalists accredited to cover 2019 elections by the commission are free to observe the election.

"While the election was suspended in Rivers, it was declared inconclusive in six states, namely: Bauchi, Adamawa, Benue, Sokoto, and Kano. Following the inconclusive governorship elections in these six states, the commission has fixed election for the 23rd day of March, 2019," he said. 

"Therefore, the supplementary governorship elections earlier scheduled to hold in Bauchi State is now a subject of litigation, which was initiated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Muhammed A. Abubakar. An interlocutory injunction to suspend the process has been served on the commission by the Federal High Court, Abuja."

He said the commission would comply with the policy to obey court orders in defence of rule of law, adding that the commission had taken cogent steps to vacate the order and dismiss the action.

"It should however be noted that the litigation and consequential order only affects the collation of results for the governorship election in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area. Consequently, the supplementary election will proceed as scheduled on Saturday, 23rd of March, 2019, in the other 15 Local Government Areas of Bauchi State,” he added.

He said the commission had complied with the order by the Adamawa State High Court, which stopped it from proceeding with the supplementary elections following the application by the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), a registered political party, which did not take part in the main election. He noted that the commission has taken steps to vacate the order.

He explained that elections would hold in those constituencies where a candidate died before the polls.

On the resumption of electoral process in Rivers State, Okoye said the commission has applied activities and timeline for the resumption of the electoral process in the state.

“The commission will have engagement with security agencies on the 19th of March, 2019. On 29th March, the commission will hold inter-agency consultative committee meeting on election security, and it will take place in Rivers State, while INEC will hold meeting of the critical stakeholders in the electoral process on 30th March.”

Okoye stated that the national headquarters of the commission would issue guidelines for the resumption of collation of results for the state, adding that there will be a revalidation of party agents and observers for the collation of results, which will commence on 25th March. 

"Thereafter, there will be resumption of collation and announcement of results, which will take place between the 2nd to 5th April, 2019, and it will take place in Port Harcourt and the venue for the particular activities will be agreed upon between the commission and critical stakeholders on electoral reform. Then on the 13th of April, there will be supplementary elections where necessary. Thereafter, there will be announcement of all results between 13th and 15th April.”

The commissioner added that all outstanding certificates of return that fall into these categories of elections would be issued on April 19.

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The Battle Against Banditry In Zamfara: Questions Need To Be Asked! By Khalid Ahmed Mohammed

21 March 2019 - 8:49am

Some victims of the attack in Zamfara

Some victims of the attack in Zamfara

Absence of security and humanitarian intervention has left the state of Zamfara in a hazardous condition. The killings of innocent people in the state has made it unsafe and without security for at least four years. Experts have cited the continued carnage to the poor handling of the affairs by the government. As the primary actors of peace and tranquility, the Federal Government has neglected its responsibility to protect. Regional organizations like the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States have also shown little interest in tackling the issue. Hence, locals are left defenceless and vulnerable to attacks by bandits.  

According to the state government, there are 2,000 soldiers mobilized to fight the conflict in the state, however local sources have said as much as 5,000 bandits are operating within the Anka Local Government alone. Therefore, the prospect that 2,000 can defeat 5,000 is unrealistic at best. For long, the media and the government have cited religion to be the main reason behind the insurgency. However, that view is not shared among the locals. One of the people affected by the insurgency reported that the fight has nothing to do with religion, rather it is ethnical.

According to a local, Fulani herdsmen rear their cattle on Hausa farmland and damage their crops and kill all those that resist — this he said is the root cause of the conflict. He added that Hausa farmers have not been inciting violence in the state, yet the nomads cause havoc as they travel through the states. In defence of the nomadic bandits, they are a product of their environment and condition. It was the systematic neglect of cattle rustling that has turned nomadic Fulanis into hardened criminals in Northern Nigeria. However, to many the conflict has lost reason and has no cause, bandits are now using the ethnic issue as a pretext to incite violence in the state. Failure of governance by the state governor and lack of interference by Nigeria’s Defence Minister (who happens to be from Zamfara) has left the state in a numb situation.

A review of several military operations across the north western part of Nigeria like operation Sharan Daji launched in October 2016 shows that the military lacks strategic intelligence to end the banditry across the state and North-West in general. Clearly, the military intelligence unit still hasn’t recognized the magnitude of the crisis. Understanding the sociological underpinnings of the various emergencies of the crisis is vital to ending the conflicting. Who are the people fighting? Why are they fighting? These are essential questions that must be asked and answered. Absence of comprehension of fundamental issues implies that the issues are dealt with responsively and symptomatically instead of meaningfully and effectively. The absence of Nigerian Air Force is hindering the military from capturing the perpetrators of the act and rendering the fight inefficient. Both the state and federal government have not come forward to condole with those affected. The poor masses have little to nothing to survive on.

Another pressing matter is the issue of funding and weapons. Where are the bandits getting their funding and weapons from? The bandits engage in kidnappings and they are being paid ransom to release hostages; that alone is enough to fund their operations. Hence, the government needs to find a way to cut out their funds by tackling security in the state more vigorously.

By all counts, and with proven results, the government and the military need to take drastic and effective measures by ensuring peace and development on all platforms. If this issue is not addressed with vigor, it will likely cross over to nearby states as we have seen happen with Boko Haram.

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EFCC Petitioned Over Great Ogboru's ‘Embezzlement’ Of N3bn Election Campaign Funds

21 March 2019 - 8:45am

The crisis rocking the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has taken another dimension as Great Ogboru, the party's governorship candidate in the 2019 election, has been taken to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by a coalition of members of the party over "embezzlement of election funds running into N3billion”.

Speaking to SaharaReporters on the issue, an executive member of the coalition who simply identified himself as 'Freeborn', disclosed that a formal petition has since been forwarded to the anti-graft agency and other relevant authorities "to probe Great Ogboru on how the N3billion given to him for the purpose of elections was expended”.

"Part of the N3billion was for the 2019 campaign for our party, the APC, as well as the general election proper.

However, rather than use the money for the purpose it was released, our APC governorship candidate, Great Ogboru, decided to embezzle the cash. We must get to the root of this matter. It is a known fact that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has zero tolerance for corruption, while a person like Great Ogboru, a serial election loser, is here fighting back corruption."

Ogboru had polled 215,938 votes and was defeated by Ifeanyi Okowa, the incumbent Governor of the state and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled 925,274 votes.

Addressing a press conference on Monday in Asaba, the Delta State capital, Daniel Ekiugbo, convener of the Coalition of Delta APC Support Groups, accused Ogboru of "embezzling" the N3billion.

He said: “It is of public knowledge that Great Ogboru presented a budget of N3billion, which was over funded and availed to him. There was no evidence anywhere that he spent N1billion for the elections.

"He refused to properly disburse and chose to release paltry amounts only to his few chosen supporters. Even for his local government rallies, he never released a dime, instead he directed that local government leaders and supporters task themselves to fund such rallies, and because most leaders couldn’t raise such funds, a lot of local government rallies were either abandoned or turn out to be huge flops.

"We are also urging the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) to set up a panel of enquiry to review the outcome of the election, with a view to unravelling how the over N3billion released to Ogboru for the purpose of the election was disbursed. Ogboru as governorship candidate of the party was a misadventure; his ambition was selfishly driven to rake-in election funds without any strategy put in place to guarantee victory. Ogboru should be made to explain the whereabouts of the huge financial provisions for the entire 2019 general elections.”

Meanwhile, Ogboru has said the allegations are "baseless and unfounded".

Speaking through Zik Okafor Zulu, his media assistant who doubles as Director of Media of Delta APC Campaign Council, Ogboru noted that some persons had been hired to “peddle such wicked and malicious allegations in a bid to tarnish the reputation of a man with an unimpeachable character”.

“These persons believe everybody is in politics to make money. Ordinarily we will not waste time reacting to this preposterous allegations. Ogboru is a wealthy man; his major business is fishing. He has spent more than N5billion of his money on his gubernatorial ambition,” he said.

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For His Anti-Fake Drugs Startup, Nigerian Pharmacist Bayo Alonge Beats 4,500 From 119 Countries To Win €100,000 Prize

21 March 2019 - 8:03am

Adebayo Alonge, a Nigerian Pharmacist who co-developed a miniature nanoscanner that uses AI to identify fake drugs and assess general drug quality on mobile phones, has won the 2019 deepTech Challenge at the Hello Tomorrow conference, which comes with a €100,000 prize.

Hello Tomorrow describes itself as "the world’s best deepTech conference for scientists, technologists and their enablers". 

It organises an annual challenge that seeks to identify the best deepTech solution in the world, over a six-month period. The conference seeks to discover, initiate and support the deepTech ecosystem, the purpose of which is to scale science-based solutions to solve the world’s biggest problems.

Alonge credits his science education at King’s College Lagos and at the Pharmacy School, University of Ibadan, for providing the building blocks of this innovative technology.

In the 2019 deepTech challenge, 4,500 deepTech startups applied from across 119 countries. A global jury of the best deepTech scientists and investors reviewed the applications, selected the top 500 deepTech applicants and organised regional pitch contests to select the Top 80 finalists for the finals in Paris in March 2019.

Alonge’s startup RxAll was drawn into the Africa region finals in Cape Town, which was organised by the @africarena. RxAll won this regional final in November 2018, worth a $5,000 prize money and associated AI benefits from Microsoft.

At the deepTech finals in Paris, the Top80 deepTech startups were grouped into 12 groups — Aeronautics, Data and AI; Digital Health; Energy; Food; Agriculture and Environment; Global Health; Industrial Biotech; Industry 4.0; New Materials; New Mobility; New Space and Wellbeing.

RxAll competed in these intense finals in the Digital Health group against five other impressive startups, including some that are applying Quantum Computing for therapeutic protein development.

RxAll had to convince digital health jury consisting of health experts, scientists and investors that the RxAll solution was the best to win the Digital Health group and to further represent the group against other groups for the grand prize. It eventually won the Digital Health group and the €15,000 prize money awarded by WeHealth by Servier.

Twelve of the best deepTech startups were selected as winners of the 12 deepTech groups. The selected 12 deepTech winners from the groups were RxAll (Digital Health), Bound4Blue (Aeronautics), Insightness (Data & AI), CoreShell (Energy), Fauna Photonics (Food, Agric & Environment), X-Therma (Global Health Prize), Dust Biosolutions (Industrial Biotech), Echoring (Industry 4.0), Soundskrit (New Materials), Niveauup (Mobility), Atomos (New Space) and IlyaPharma (Wellbeing).

After careful deliberation by judges and deepTech experts from across the 12 competing groups, the unanimous winner of the 2019 best deepTech in the world, represented by the Hello Tomorrow grand prize, was declared as RxAll.

Alonge and the rest of the RxAll team will continue to expand their solution across Africa and SE Asia. They are working with drug regulators and foundations in these regions. They are also selling their solution to individuals in the developed world who are concerned about the drugs they buy online or on the streets.

RxAll is currently enabling science research application in the field of pharma spectrometry in Africa & SE Asia and is sponsoring joint research projects in the following countries:

RxAll is also running a donation programme to enable access to its solution for country medicine regulators/FDAs in low-income countries.

Starting at $60/month, pharmacovigilance inspectors from country FDAs can now use the RxAll solution to test drug quality at the ports and in pharmacies using their phones.

They can also use the RxAll solution to see where bad drugs are showing up in different cities and who is responsible in real time. Doing so, they can organise batch recalls and stop the bad actors in real time.

The RxAll solution also helps drug regulators send to one another drug test reports including geolocation data of tests and timestamps. This helps to reduce administrative burden and improve record keeping towards improved productivity and successful prosecution of bad actors.

RxAll is looking for resellers across the world, who will get the opportunity to build a million-dollar business while doing good.

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Robbers ‘Take Over’ Communities In Alimosho Area Of Lagos

21 March 2019 - 7:37am

Residents of Alimosho Local Government Area (LGA) of Lagos State have raised the alarm over the continued attacks by armed robbers in the area.

Aside attacking residents, the robbers have also taken to stripping vehicles of their parts.

The robbers attack at will, daring the residents of the area to confront them.

One of the residents, who spoke to SaharaReporters, noted that the armed robbers usually operated in the wee hours of the day.

According to the resident, on January 28, 2019, policemen arrested some armed robbers at Iyana Ipaja area in Alimosho, who were the part of a gang that robbed and burgled several homes.


However, another set of armed robbers have taken over and resorted to causing mayhem.

Affected areas include Alhaji Yekini Lawal Street, Greenland Street and Dare Close, all in Alimosho LGA. The robbers also vandalise public property, as well as rob people of their belongings.

“If you dare make a move or shout when you see someone being robbed, the robbers will reply with obscenities, and dare us to come out and confront them, while they continue with their operations,” a resident told SaharaReporters.

Speaking on the development, DSP Bala Elkana, Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police Command, said the Force was unaware of the recent incidents.

However, he said two of the seven gangs of armed robbers arrested were from Alimosho LGA in Lagos State.

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SUICIDE BY 'SNIPER': Insecticide Turns Popular Choice For Suicidal Nigerians

21 March 2019 - 6:58am

He inhaled deeply and loudly, as if trying to savour the freshness of the dusky air. He held a small white plastic bottle with his left hand and a camera device understood to be his phone, with his right hand, to capture the epic moment.

It was barely evening. The yellow sun — seemingly not scorching — filtered through the bamboo trees behind him, playing on the dry leaves on which he sat. Depressed, he looked downward, then upward. He stared ahead. His eyes rolled sideways, seemingly forcing back some sordid tears, some prickly reflections.

Suddenly, he accompanied the white bottle mouthwards. And in two gulps, he emptied it down his bowel.

It was a Sunday in the month of February, a day when believers were expected to be in God’s presence, worshipping. However, Adekunle Olanrewaju wouldn't attend church service like he used to. He preferred to be alone under the bamboo shed in a nearby bush. He appeared to have a much bigger task at hand; bidding this mundane world a goodbye on a sojourn to heaven, where God himself resided. The young lad, Adekunle, barely 20 years old, wanted to commit suicide — which he did.

Moments before drinking from the white bottle, young Adekunle had texted his friend on Whatsapp to alert him of his location, where his remains could be found, before he would be wrongly thought to be missing. "Goodbye,” he wrote. “My dead body is inside bamboo.”

Attached to these strong words was the picture of his death note — splattered with blood, beside which a blood-clad razor laid — believed to have been written, signed and snapped in his room. In blue ink, with hobble handwriting, Adekunle wrote his suicide note on a foolscap scheet, rife with omission signs and strikes, beginning with a short but strong title: ‘THE WORLD IS NOT WORTHY TO BE LIVING.’

He continued: “You as a person need people around you to make life lively. [Yet those] same people are so wicked, cruel and heartless. Why? People do evil to people they ought to help. People are collecting from those they ought to be giving…human feelings are absent from human beings. Why? Is this life worth living [at all]?”

Adekunle, who had just bagged his OND from Federal Polytechnic Ede in 2018, admitted that “although all these [aforesaid] might not be genuine enough for a person like me to poison myself… [nevertheless] never trace my death to someone else but me; I decided this on my own.”

The young lad, honey-fair complexioned, stated in his death note what agent of death he employed for his suicide mission and why. He mentioned how he “personally went to market to buy rat poison” for his own consumption, “instead of giving it to rats”.

Apparently, the rat poison Adekunle referred to was the small white bottle; the content of which he would later gulp under the bamboo trees. Findings revealed that the “rat poison” is a lethal pesticide named 'Sniper' — a DDVP (2,2-Dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate compound), marketed by Swiss-Nigerian Chemical Company — originally meant for the farm, but which has over time been wrongly domesticated by most Nigerians for use as household insecticide and rodent-killer.

“I have thought of series of ways of committing suicide, but I found rat poison [Sniper] as the simplest and fastest way of doing so,” Adekunle wrote, as if to eulogize that powerful pesticide that has come to his rescue, when other means proved too difficult and discouraging.

For Sniper, Adekunle was not the first suicide victim. In fact, a few weeks before him, besides scores of unreported cases, swarms of suicide-by-Sniper cases had set the media abuzz.

Sniper, the Viper

Late last year, Aisha Omolola, a student of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, committed suicide, upending a bottle of Sniper insecticide down her bowel. Aisha's suicide sparked a lot of controversies on social media, due to the mysteries attached it. She also dropped a suicide note like Adekunle.

But unlike the Adekunle, young Aisha had someone to blame for her action: her parents, especially her mother who she said “made life a living hell” for her and considered her the “witch” responsible for the family's predicaments. “I hope and believe that now that I am gone, it will bring them relief and happiness,” she wrote in her death note. Although it was rumoured that she survived the Sniper poisoning, findings affirmed that she gave up the ghost while being taken to the hospital — just like Adekunle.

Meanwhile, barely a week after Aisha's death, a disk jockey in Lagos, Seun Omogaji, popularly known as DJ XGee, would also consume the Sniper insecticide, after an alleged unresolved marital crisis with his wife. Ironically, he reportedly performed at a New Year party on the eve of his suicide, excited and full of life. Yet, to the perplexity of his fans on social media, DJ XGee would post a cryptic death note on his Instagram page some hours after, asking them to “please rock white [to his funerals] because [he] loves the colour so much.”

Flashback a couple of years, somewhere in Ekiugbo community in Delta State, a teenage girl aged 18, Loveth, would consume three bottles of Sniper, because she couldn’t meet JAMB’s cut-off mark for studying the course of her choice, Medicine. This is despite the fact that she had been assured of admission into a polytechnic by her father. A moment after the father-to-daughter persuasion, she discreetly strode a few meters from her mother’s shop, purchased three bottles of Sniper insecticide, gulped them all inside her room and passed away.

In his final year at Isaac Jasper Boro College of Education, Bayelsa State, Prince had a “little misunderstanding with his girlfriend” which made him acquire a bottle of Sniper on a suicide mission. This incident occurred barely two months after Aduba Daniel, a student of Niger Delta University, drank a full bottle of Sniper “because of his carryovers at school” — which instantly damaged important parts of his intestines.

Orumah Efemenah, having spent five years studying Pharmacy at the Delta State University, Abraka, was visited by his father who had come to scold him for not performing well in his grades much unlike his younger ones. It seemed this didn’t meet Orumah well, so that he decided to end it all, washing down his frustration with two bottles of Sniper.

Then, another news broke of a secondary school girl in Warri, Delta State, Slimzy Jay, who drank Sniper because her boyfriend broke up with her. The trauma of being pregnant at such a young age was what allegedly led to her suicide action.

Although quite a handful of suicide methods have been explored by many suicide victims — hanging, jumping, electricity, laceration, etc. — what Adekunle described as “rat poison” has notoriously stood out over the months in Nigeria as the most widely adopted of all.

In the past though, research shows that Dane guns and Gammallin, an erstwhile agricultural insecticide, were the commonest suicide agents; the trend seems to have taken a drastic turn over the years, since Gammallin was banned, casting the spotlight on Sniper.

In a study by the Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SUPRIN) conducted in Lagos State University Hospital. Out of 66 suicide victims cumulatively recorded in 2018, only about 37.9 per cent committed (or attempted) suicide through conventional means, while nearly 62.1 per cent bit the dust by consuming poison — often Sniper.

Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SUPRIN)      Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SUPRIN)

Suicide: Permanent Solution to Temporary Problem

On the flipside, what is it that makes people think life is not worth living anymore? What makes young ones, hale and hearty, give up on life and hurry out of this world?

“Hopelessness,” replied Dr. Patrick Ogbolu, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). “It is about the strongest indication that someone will go on to kill him or herself. When in the mind all hope is lost, then the essence of living is lost. However, the question is, is all hope truly lost? Definitely not. So, this is where depression comes in.”

Depression is a medical condition, a psychological state of unhappiness or low morale, which lasts longer than several weeks, and may include ideation of self-inflicted injury or suicide. It is usually caused by a decrease in the level of serotonin, a chemical in the brain which serves as a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness in human.

“Although, depression could be genetic, or as a result of other chronic ailments such as diabetes or hypertension,” said Dr. Ogbolu, “it is however often due to psychosocial factors, such as demise of loved ones, stress, drug abuse, stigma, etc. In other words, if five good things happen to a depressed person, and one bad thing also happens, their mind tends to focus more on that single bad thing that went awry, which makes them feel hopeless, and eventually suicidal.” 

Meanwhile, some professions and occupations pose a higher risk of suicide on their personnel. Healthcare practitioners for instance, police officers, military personnel, electricians, farmers, lawyers, etc., are at a higher risk of committing suicide. This is because of the high level of competition, uncertainty and unpredictability attached to their professions, exposing them to prolonged stress and/or depression, which oftentimes culminate in suicide.

Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SUPRIN)

Depression, Dr. Ogbolu emphasised, is not a pleasant experience. “This is what most people don't understand when they unleash unfair judgements on suicide victims. It's all centred on the concept of human frailty. As human beings, we are both strong and weak; in fact very weak. The only thing that differentiates us is how much we are able to withhold and hide that weakness.”

During the #faceofdepression campaign on social media in 2017, a young suicide survivor, in her early twenties, posted about her encounter with depression.

She wrote: “Depression is cruel and unforgiving; it has no look. Sometimes, the day I look the least depressed, I'm suffering the hardest. There's a stigma of having to look fragile, broken, makeup running, bottle of vodka and a suicide note in your hand to be worthy of help or attention for your pain.

“Depression is cowering away in bed; depression is also faking a smile in public. Depression is sometimes being exhausted getting out of bed; depression is also excessive burst of energy to try and distract yourself. Depression is crying, self-loathing and dread; depression is also laughing and trying to fit in. Depression is dark, black and cold; depression is also leading a ‘normal’ life and appearing ‘functioning’. Depression is agony; depression is also a friend, a comfort. Don't judge; you never know what someone is going through behind a smile or a laugh.”

Low Resilience and Bad Parenting as Suicide Factors

Associate Professor of Sociology, Dr. Jimoh Amzat, identifies bad parenting as one of the major factors responsible for the high rate of suicide, especially in Nigeria.

“The reason more people, particularly young ones, are attempting suicide nowadays is as a result of the over-regulation and lack of integration plaguing most Nigerian households,” said, Dr. Amzat, adding that “oftentimes, children who grow up in such homes feel despised, sometimes isolated or lonely, and in the long run, they end up killing themselves, just like we have seen in Omolola Aisha's case.”

While Dr. Ogbolu explained that in the current generation of young people, low resilience is a hallmark, this according to him is not unconnected to some environmental factors, including defunct parenting and excessive availability of information, due to the advent of the internet.

“If a kid, for instance, gets embarrassed, say at school, the news spreads like wildfire on social media, and he/she gets immersed in shame and frustration which they feel they can’t deal with, and may end up attempting suicide — which was not the case in the past,” he said, adding that the lost culture of community and the prevalence of the every-man-to-himself philosophy has reduced the level of resilience in young people of nowadays, thereby drastically increasing the rate of suicide.

On building resilience, Dr. Amzat expounded that one has to understand that “life itself is defined by challenges; in fact, they make like interesting. No one will have it all so rosy, even the religious icons like Jesus and Muhammad didn't, and being a person is how you're able to handle those challenges.”

In order to steer clear of considering suicide someday, Dr. Amzat admonished that one should not define their happiness in relation to others. “Because you can be in the jungle and be happy, you can as well be in the city and be sad; whatever situation you find yourself, you should try to manipulate yourself to achieve your goals in it and move on. Suicide shouldn't be the last option; because it never is.”

Controlling the Availability of Sniper

Originally invented for agricultural use, Sniper's domestication into the home as insect and rodent killer poses a serious threat to public health. Even on the farms, quite a lot of farmers have died due to mishandling of the pesticide. In fact, recently, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) banned Sniper from use on beans, due to the several health implications it has caused.

Mental health practitioners are worried that the pesticide is readily available almost everywhere in Nigeria: at local stores, fancy supermarkets, even on hawkers. There is little or no restriction as to how it is being accessed. Sadly, “there is no way we can effectively prevent suicide without controlling the availability of its means,” Dr. Ogbolu lamented.

Though the fact that Sniper has gotten into the wrong hands may not suffice to outright placing of a ban on the pesticide, due to the economic realities of the country, said Dr. Ogbolu, nevertheless, its availability must be controlled by the relevant authorities, if truly they are committed to curbing the suicide in the country.

“We also need to educate people on how to stock and use Sniper, because even its presence in the house is tempting enough to make one commit suicide without a second thought,” he added.

PUBLIC HEALTH DOCUMENTARY Reports AddThis :  Featured Image :  Original Author :  Muneer Yaqub Disable advertisements : 
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BREAKING: Fire Breaks Out In Surulere, Lagos

21 March 2019 - 5:59am

A fire is currently raging in Surulere, Lagos State.

The fire began after an explosion near Census Market area of Surulere on Thursday.

Fire Service officials are currently at the scene of the incident, trying to put out the fire.

At the time of this report, there was no report of any casualty.

Details later...

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The Sordid Lessons Of The Grim 2019 Election All Date Back To Jonathan! By Frisky Larr

21 March 2019 - 5:41am

Frisky Larr

No doubt, the first reaction to an article bearing a title of this nature in a blame-weary nation that Nigeria has currently become, will be “What has that got to do with Jonathan again?”. While such exasperations may be founded on legitimate and fully comprehensible grounds, the facts underlying the assertion are dangling right before our very eyes.

When crisis rocked the ruling People’s Democratic Party under the tenure of President Goodluck Jonathan in the run-up to the 2015 Presidential election, little did anyone fathom that this singular intra-party crisis will reverberate deep into the tenure of the successor and even force the successor to employ highly unconventional means to fight for his political life, 4 years after. The internal crisis of confidence in the PDP that culminated in the formation of the nPDP is, no doubt, still fresh in recollective minds. The conflict climaxed at the time, in mass defections to the newly formed coalition of major opposition parties called the All Progressives Congress.

Many people of distinction – or as we popularly call them – people of “timber and caliber” deserted the ruling party in defiance of the leadership that had also sought to see the back of most of them to advance the strategy of reelection. The defiant deserters found a new home in the new ‘Congress of Progressives’ – APC. They were rich. They were powerful. They controlled electoral bases. They controlled resources. But they also had their agenda in differing colorations.

The first warning shot was fired when the grassroots grumbled in the ‘Congress of Progressives’ reacting to the imposition of defectors in leadership positions, t6o reap where they did not sow. This was quelled quietly and swept beneath the carpet. The Tambuwals, the El-Rufais of this world took their inevitable slots after contributing to success in different capacities.

But the big bang blew beyond the finishing line when victory took hold and the new government was installed. Rebellion began from Day 1 and his name was Bukola Saraki. For people in the know, though, the rest is now history. The failure of the newly installed President to swiftly recognize the long-term impact of that rebellion and move to quell it in real-time in spite of several prudent recommendations almost cost him his political life four years later. We will revisit this issue as our discourse progresses.

As they say that empty vessels make the loudest noise, the strongest challengers to the political life of the President were not necessarily those that made the loudest noise challenging the authority of leadership in legislative houses. No. Saraki’s example now shows that such people ended up almost being the easiest to send to temporary political oblivion in the chess game of electoral machinations.

The powerful forces, who bore the lion share bankrolling the 2015 battle came to pose the most potent danger in 2019.

A very intriguing anecdote of this defection saga was the ambition that almost every defector brought in his baggage. From El-Rufai through Bukola to the legendary Kung-Fu star, Bruce Lee, of commonsense fame, everybody had presidential ambitions. El-Rufai played it cool and loyal and is seen today, as a potential heir-apparent. The power-bank voltage of a former Vice President lurked in the dark in all quietness making no fuss of his ambition until the season drew close. There are many more, unseen and unknown, who started and ended up quietly. Even a non-APC-rascal, Kpomo-market-choir-leader also dreamt of being spiritually ordained to become a President.

Unfortunately, President Muhammadu Buhari failed to nip all pains in the bud to save nine stitches with just one stitch in time. Saraki grew wings and played a major role in aiding and facilitating what became a potent fighting electoral machine forcing incumbency to the brink in political survival. That was lesson number one.

Now, President Buhari’s electoral success in 2015 was a product of collective efforts and a coalition of odd bedfellows, who had a common denominator in an enemy called Jonathan, who made life easier for his enemies by being a weak President that condoned corruption in body language and actions, no matter what he or his admirers may choose to say today.

Since ascension to power and the myriad of expectations heaped on and encouraged by him on the heels of past military memories, President Muhammadu Buhari has come a long way. His lack-luster beginning wasting good six months in the formation of a working team, when he was expected to hit the ground running as El-Rufai did, was soon followed by a decisive clampdown on corruption. In spite of his one-step-forward-three-steps-backward approach, corruption, thank goodness, is no longer as rampant and uncontrolled as it was under his predecessor. There are many, who will jump at this statement, protesting and trying to controvert it. Their arsenal of facts will be very thin indeed. Just one of several possible examples: The presidential campaign did not witness open looting of the public vault to buy prayers from Cardinals, Primates, Overseers, Imams, Marabouts, traditional looters (oh sorry) rulers, etc.

Yet, this election season taught us one more grim lesson. We were brought one step closer to the President’s personal and health problems. We were brought one step closer to an understanding of what Aisha Buhari talked about in her two-time outburst against the circle surrounding her husband. Which man of sane and average rational disposition will have watched the townhall interview of the President with his Vice President and not worry and ask questions? Who will have seen the President of his country failing in the discernment of complex questions that is not wholly the aftermath of hearing impairment and not worry? Who will see a Vice President answering questions meant for the President saying, “He doesn’t know”and not imagine how day-to-day business is most likely run in government house? This was further exacerbated by incidents on the campaign trail.

When many experts cried out that Nigeria’s economy under the present leadership was not a mere victim of crashing oil prices, I had my reservations. When details of specific decisions taken that hurt investors’ confidence were rolled out, however, it became obvious that better decisions were missed at the right time to manage the economy better. But this should be left for a detailed discussion on another sunny day.

Deep polarization of the entire country, however, set in when the opposition candidate was presented, who was expected to take the baton from the undeniably, ailing President. That is when I saw no choice but to cry out loud: “Lord have mercy”.

The opposition candidate did his best to free himself of the image of a deeply corrupt politician. The image had stuck for several years since his ill-advised open warfare against and insubordination towards his former boss. Many, who cheered him on then as now, joined him to work against a common enemy without wishing him to be the substitute for the coveted throne. His legitimate employment of lobbyist to facilitate a long-denied journey to the United States could not erase all the stench of corruption perception.

To further fan the embers of a raging bushfire, the closest aides of this candidate were prominent politicians of budget-padding fame and bank-killing reputation. There was commonsense everywhere and puberty in the giant shape of a Dino-saur looming in the horizon. These are characters that would have been weeded from the scene very early enough had the President known his onions and not pandered to displaying irrelevant democratic credentials, which he, in the end, finally dished for reelection desperation.

Now, I personally favored the removal of an ailing President from government house. I did not want a government, in which people would circumvent the elected President to form a government within the government. The infancy of such moves usually begins with the innocent plea “Please let’s handle this quietly between us. You know the old man doesn’t know”.The town hall scene gave us snippets to fan the ember. Before you know it, a secret team is formed, and the voters are hoaxed.

Yet, how can we sleep with our two eyes closed, day-in, day-out handing over the government to an opposition candidate with a trailing record of alleged massive corruption after spending massively from a private war chest to match the government’s public chest? Where will costs be recovered from?

In spite of all the contradictions in government circle, prioritizing sectionalism and clannishness, could Nigeria have been so gleefully handed over to uncertainty in the shadows of corruption doubts? Like Nigerians, the international community with the decisive leverage to shape events, also have the facts.

The massive stench of the Jonathan days that infuriated Barack Obama is no longer there. The Fulani herdsmen, the active polarization of the nation and resultant conquest of national unity didn’t seem strong enough an argument to force a determined intervention to usher in a highly uncertain future for a strategically crucial Nigeria in a volatile subregion.

Indeed, the international community feared for the overall consequence of what would befall Nigeria if a natural mass reaction of anarchy followed the presidential election with all the massive flaws that characterized it as perpetrated by the two leading parties. Memories of the 2007 elections rekindled, in which the badly aggrieved and agitated opposition rested its last hope on the international community to salvage its hopes. Alas, it took just one sentence from George W. Bush to dash all hopes. “We will work with the new government”.

Today, a government statement from 10 Downing Street prioritized the return of calmness and stability to Nigeria and dashed all hopes that someone would read the riot act. The magic sentence was that violence and irregularities were minimal and results largely agree with the records of independent observers.

The maiden deployment of the military in the premiere act featuring the unrivaled scenes of caging the opposition, storming centers and arresting functionaries was simply perfecting what Jonathan started in Ekiti State to install a kpomo-cutter. Combined with the long-accustomed act of snatching ballot boxes that both sides clearly featured in their movie scenes, the killings and arsons that western observers carefully trivialized for obvious reasons, the militarization simply goes to prove just one point. Democracy is, definitely, not an African thing.

Until we, as Africans, wake up from our self-imposed slumber seeing erudite minds and Nobel Prize winners holding back from positive advocacy, the journey will be a long one yet. The need to devise an indigenous political system based on African values and tradition that should be allowed to grow over time as western democracy thrived into maturity for western nations, has long been neglected. This is the sole missing link in the black continent.

I wrote a book called “Lost in Democracy”, in which I laid a groundwork for a possible indigenous political system for the continent. It is now time for advocates to pick the pieces and drive the point home. An indigenous system may start imperfectly but stands a chance to be groomed to growth to stem the spate of killings and arsons from election to election.


Frisky Larr is a diaspora-based writer and author of several books on Nigerian and African affairs.

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Advocacy Issues For The Federal Government Of Nigeria 2019 Budget By Otive Igbuzor

21 March 2019 - 5:34am

The importance of the budget for effective service delivery in any country cannot be overemphasized. It has been recognised that the budget is perhaps the most important instrument for the development of any modern state apart from the constitution. It can be argued that it is only through the instrumentality of the budget that the government can allocate resources to deliver services to the people especially the poor and excluded. 

During military rule in Nigeria, citizens participation in the budgetary process was virtually non-existent. The reading of the budget every January was a mere ritual with no bearing to actual government expenditure. But on return to civil rule in 1999, expenditure by government is expected to be strictly in accordance with the 1999 constitution and appropriation act for each year. The first set of engagement by citizens groups on the budget on return to civil rule in the early 2000s focused essentially on budget analysis with emphasis on sectoral analysis of the budget. Meanwhile, from 1999 to 2016, there was steady economic growth and receipt of oil income of over N70 trillion. But this did not translate into poverty reduction or service delivery to citizens. Citizens groups now turned to analysis of transparency issues and frivolous items in the budget. The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and BudgIT have consistently analysed the budget for frivolous items for more than ten years. Similarly, CIRDDOC has carried out studies on transparency of the budgeting process at the subnational level in Nigeria. 

In 2016, a DfID project known as Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) commenced work on the budgetary process. The project identified the blockages to effective budgeting and public expenditure to include lack of transparency in the budget process; poor prioritization; frivolous expenditure and poor oversight. Its work has gone beyond the focus on sectoral analysis and frivolous expenditure to deal with issues of transparency and accountability; equity, geography, demography and structure of the budget. In particular, it has focused on equity issues and service wide votes and key areas that can bring fundamental changes to the budgeting process in Nigeria. It has facilitated consistent and rigorous analysis of the budget. It also facilitated the National Budget Group made up of Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), Public Private Development Centre (PPDC), Basic Rights, BudgIT, Civil Society Action Coalition of Education for All (CSACEFA) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).  Many other partners active in the loose network facilitated by PERL include PMP, Jigawa; Kano Budget Working Group; Coalition of Civil Society in Niger;  Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED) ;Coalition of Association in Kaduna State, CODE, NOA; Premium Times; Advocacy Partnership in Yobe State and Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC). 


Over the years, efforts made by citizens groups, private sector organisations and the media has yielded some gains in the budget process in Nigeria. There is clearly an improved engagement by citizens in the budgetary process. Discussions about the budget take place almost on a daily basis in the social media, newspapers, radio and television. Several citizens groups such as BudgIT, Centre for Social Justice, Follow the Money, CODE, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development, NDEBUMOG, etc are tracking the budget. The Budget Office of the Federation has produced a simplified budget that citizens can engage with. The government has also set up the Citizens Budget Portal containing relevant budget information. On the citizens portal is an application that citizens can use to monitor projects and report. Citizens groups working with relevant committees of the National Assembly have developed tracking template that citizens groups can use to track the budget for the report to be used by the National Assembly for oversight. Citizens groups and the media are now more systematic in engaging the budget process. Several media platforms now have programmes dedicated to budget issues. In addition, there are marginal increases in allocation to the social sectors. 

In the 2000s, citizens groups were participating in the Medium Term Sector Strategy (MTSS) process. But from 2008-2015, the MTSS process was suspended but reintroduced in 2016. In the 2016/17, 2017/2018 and 2018/19 MTSS processes, citizens groups did not participate. But in the 2019/20 MTSS process, PERL in partnership with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) facilitated the engagement of citizens groups. Citizens groups participated in the MTSS of several sectors including education, health, Science and Technology. The Citizens groups that participated include Global Centre for Human Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Development (GLOCHEED), Kano Budget Working Group, PMP, Jigawa, CIRDDOC, Enugu, Voice and Accountability Project (VAP), Yobe,  and Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME). 

Over the years, citizens have attempted to engage the budget cycle from preparation, approval and implementation to reporting/feedback. One phase that citizens participation has been minimal is the budget preparation phase. However, in the last few years, there appears to be some engagement.  For instance, some organisations such as Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) utilized Town Hall Meetings to collate citizens-based project for input into the 2018 budget. Similarly, Kano Budget Working Group collated citizens demand from 115 communities across 44 Local Government Areas in Kano State and shared with their federal legislators. 

Since return to civil rule in 1999, citizens groups have engaged the budget appropriation process. This usually occurs after the presentation of the budget proposal to the National Assembly by the Executive.  Partly as a result of advocacy by citizens groups, the first National Budget Hearing was held in February, 2017. By February, 2018, there was no sign of the second public hearing and citizens groups intensified advocacy and the second National Budget Hearing was held from 27th-28thMarch, 2018. Several citizens groups have participated in the National Budget hearings including JDPC, African Centre for Entrepreneurship, I-PAC, PLAC, CSJ, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Advocates for Human Rights, YIAGA, Global Agenda, CSACEFA, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), Price Water House Coppers, SDN, GLOCHEED, Citizens Rights Concern (CRC), PMP.  At the second public hearing, the leadership of the National Assembly announced that public hearing has been institutionalized and will be held every year.

Budget implementation is one area that citizens have been active especially in terms of monitoring budget implementation. Over the years, citizens’ groups and the media have been monitoring the budget process in Nigeria and the National Assembly has been doing oversight. Meanwhile, the volume of frivolous expenditure as captured by civil society is not decreasing and the work of civil society is not feeding the oversight work of the legislature.  This is why Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) developed a budget tracking and reporting mechanism agreed by relevant committees of the National Assembly and Citizen groups.  PERL reflection session with  partners in 2017 indicated that many organisations are now actively tracking projects in the  budget. These organisations include  Connected Development (CODE/Follow the Money); Project Monitoring Partnership (PMP), Jigawa; Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED), Kaduna; Civil Society Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA); and  National Orientation Agency (NOA) .

Finally, the audit process and reporting process is one area where there has been limited citizens participation. It is the last loop of the budget cycle and it determines how well the resources are utilised to provide services to citizens. The constitution provides for annual auditing by the office of the Auditors General of the Federation and States. The reports are supposed to be submitted to parliament to aid oversight function and published for use by citizens for advocacy. The challenge is that in the past, the report is always late and not accessible to citizens. In any case, the 2016 Federal Government Audit report has been released and published on the website of the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation. Increasingly, citizens groups are taking interest on audit issues. 

However, despite the gains from previous advocacy, there are still issues with the budget process especially with the process of making the budget and the content of the budget.  This is why citizens groups must deepen their engagement with the 2019 budget process. 


The 2019 proposed budget is N8.83 trillion which is 3.2 percent less than the N9.12 trillion in the approved 2018 budget but 2.5 percent higher that the N8.61 trillion proposed by the President in 2018. The 2019 proposed budget is based on an Oil benchmark crude oil price of US$60 per barrel; an oil production estimate of 2.3 million barrels per day; and an average exchange rate of N305 to the US dollar; and  target Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of  3.0 per cent. There are a lot of pending advocacy issues which needs to be dealt with to derive maximum result from the 2019 Budget.

Process of Making the 2019 Budget

First and foremost, there are still issues with the process of making the 2019 budget. Although some citizens groups participated in the Medium-Term Sector Strategy (MTSS) process, there is still no systematic way of capturing citizens input into the budget process in Nigeria. Some of the MDAs are not very co-operative with citizens groups participating in the MTSS process. The oversight of the budget process by the legislature, civil society and the media is still weak. Citizens groups do not participate in committee hearings on the budget. The Public Accounts Committee which was very popular in the second republic is still not very effective. There is still confusion on the limits of legislative power in appropriation. 

Content of the Budget

Secondly, there is no much improvement in the content of the budget. There is still low budgetary allocation to sectors that will have impact on the lives of citizens such as Agriculture, health, education and infrastructure. For instance, while the budgetary allocation to education by Republic of Benin and Ethiopia is more that 20 percent of the total budget since 2012, that of Nigeria is less than 10 percent. In the 2019 proposed budget, the allocation to education is N620.5 billion (about 7.05 percent), a marginal raise of the total of N605.8 billion budgeted for the sector in 2018. It is very clear that allocation to education is very low in Nigeria especially when compared to other African countries: Burundi -16.59 % in 2010; 14.98 % in 2011; 16.43 % in 2012 and 17.24 % in 2013; Benin-25.02 % in 2012; 22.34 % in 2013; and 22.23 in 2014; Ethiopia 26.30 % in 2010; 29.67 % in 2011; 30.54 % in 2012 and 27.02 in 2013; and Madagascar- 19.78 % in 2011; 20.33 % in 2012 and 13.99% in 2013.

c. Budget Realism

Thirdly, there has always been issue with budget realism. In the past four  years, the exchange rate has been fixed around N305 to the US dollar. This is very far from reality in the alternative market. Even the oil revenue is projected at 2.3 million barrels per day. The actual for 2016 was 1.83 mbpd; 2017 was 1.85 mbpd; and 2018 was 1.81 mbpd. There is a large variance between projected parameters and actual results. For instance, the OPEC quota to Nigeria is 1.9 million barrels per day but 2019 proposed budget is 2.3 million barrels per day. 

d. Geographical Balance and Equity

Fourthly, geographical analysis of the budget indicates that there is nostill no systematic way to ensure fairness and equity e.g. analysis of the proposed budget for ministry of Works, Power and Housing capital budgets indicates that 17 percent was allocated to FCT, 7 % to North East, 20 % to North West, 6 percent to North Central, 7 Percent to South East, 12 Percent to South West and 31 percent to South South. 

e. Recurrent Expenditure 

In addition, recurrent expenditurecontinues to increase, and capital expenditure continues to decrease. In the 2019 proposed budget, only 23.02 percent is allocated to capital expenditure. There is a need to increase capital allocation in the budget. This is crucial especially as part of this percentage is administrative capital comprising of budget for monitoring and evaluation; site visits and workshops. Meanwhile, capital expenditure is crucial for the development of any country as it is dedicated to the creation of new assets that leads to economic development. 

f. Timeliness of the Passage of the Budget 

Timeliness of the passage of the budget has been a big issue in the last few years. The 2018 budget proposal was laid before the National Assembly on 17thNovember 2017 and signed into law on 20thJune 2019 taking a total of seven months and three days. The 2019 proposed budget was laid before the National Assembly on 19thDecember 2019. The Fiscal Responsibility Act requires the completion of the Fiscal Strategy Paper by September each year and this has been hardly adhered to. There is the need to adhere to the Fiscal Responsibility Act and present the fiscal strategy paper and budget on or before September every year and ensure passage before the end of the year so as to return to the January- December budget cycle. 

g. Structure and Transparency Issues with the Budget

There are structural and transparency issues with the budget process which needs to be dealt with. For instance, the budget structure provides for seven statutory transfers to the National Assembly (NASS), Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and Public Complaints Commission (PCC). For the 2019 proposed budget, the allocations were N125 billion to NASS; N110.5 billion to UBEC; N86.14 billion to NJC; N95.19 billion to NDDC; N45.50 billion to INEC; N1.5 billion to NHRC and N4.2 billion to PCC. It is important to note that there are no breakdown of these transfers to facilitate tracking. 

In addition, every year, the budget devotes 4.18 percent of the federation account to special accounts for Ecological Fund( 1.0%); development of the Federal Capital Territory (1%); Stabilisation Fund (0.5%) and Natural Resource Development Fund (1.68%). The Ecological Fund is for the amelioration of general ecological problems in any part of Nigeria. Stabilisation fund is to be administered by the Minister of Finance for the purpose of initially augmenting any absolute decline in revenue suffered in any state arising from factors outside its control as a result of application of the revenue sharing formula in accordance with acceptable threshold and duration worked out by the revenue mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC). Natural Resource Development Fund (NRDF) is created to develop the non-oil sector particularly the solid mineral sector. Since these funds operate outside the budget process, there is the need for more monitoring and tracking. This is particularly important as the 2012 FGN audited report states clearly that “there is evidence of abuse in the administration of the three Extra-Budgetary Funds-Ecological Fund, Stabilisation Fund and Natural Resource Fund”. The alleged wrongful purpose includes for servicing budget deficits, giving loans to federal ministries, payment of identity cards programmes and payment of severance benefits. Moreover, the 2016 audit report has raised a lot of complaints including decreasing allocation to audit function, poor overhead releases against already inadequate budget and neglect of audit queries. 

h. Debt Profile

The budgetary allocation for debt service in the 2019 budget proposal is N 2.26 trillion representing 25.6 percent of the proposed budget. This represents the highest share of the budget allocated to debt service since Nigeria’s exit from the Paris Club of debtors in 2005/2006. There is the need for monitoring of Nigeria’s rising debt profile. 

i. Outcome of the Budget

Measuring performance of budget through monitoring and evaluation is very important for every country. Monitoring and Evaluation can provide governments with a method of learning from past experience, improving service delivery, planning and allocating resources, and demonstrating results as part of accountability to key stakeholders. Measuring the performance of budget can occur at three levels:

Input level: How much of the budgeted amount was released and used in implementation.
Process:How was the activities carried out-Procurement process; are the activities happening as and at when due?
Output, Outcome and Impact:

Output is the immediate result of the activities e.g. how many kilometers of road tarred. 
Outcome is the effect of the budget activities or any change attributable to the budget activities e.g. expansion of market as a result of road tarred. 
Impact is change in people’s lives attributable to the budget. E.g improved quality of life as a result of improved income; improved livelihood and reduced accident from the road tarred. 

There is the need to measure budget performance beyond the amount of money spent to measuring performance at the three levels of input, process and output/outcome/impact. 

j. Service Wide Votes

Another huge issue with the 2019 budget is service wide votes. Service Wide Votes became part of the budgetary process in Nigeria from 2003 to 2007. It was actually introduced to improve budget credibility and enhance fiscal discipline. Service Wide Votes is made up of unallocated funds set aside to meet genuine budget details of which cannot be ascertained at the time of making the budget because of sudden escalation of prices, contract variation, natural disasters, etc.  The international good practice in budgeting is to set aside unallocated amounts for unforeseeable or indeterminate expenditure at the time of budgeting. But to promote transparency and accountability, it is recommended that “Contingency Budget” or service wide votes should be between 3 and 10 percent of the original budget. But service wide votes have increased steadily in Nigeria. It increased from N871 billion in 2015 (32.8%) to N1.14 trillion in 2016 (35.4%) to N1.3 trillion in 2017 (34.2 %) to N1.8 trillion  in 2018 (37.6%) and to 2.14 trillion(30.5%)  in the proposed 2019 budget. 


The budget is crucial in allocating resources and delivering services to citizens. In the last few years, there has been some improvement in the budgetary process especially in terms of citizens engagement, but a lot still needs to be done. There is the need to deepen citizens engagement with the budgetary process. Conscious efforts need to be made to create more awareness and advocacy for deeper citizens engagement in the budget process. There needs to be a systematic way to get citizens input into the budget through consultation, dialogue, town hall meetings, citizens charters and other tools. Secondly, citizens groups need to prepare evidence-based presentations to the National Assembly at National Public hearings to influence the process and content of the budget process. Thirdly, more citizens groups need to systematically track and monitor projects in the budget and submit report to the National Assembly for oversight. Fourthly, there is the need for the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and the Budget Office to institutionalise the participation of citizens groups in the MTSS process. Fifthly, citizens groups need to engage more with the audit process and engage in evidence-based advocacy based on the report of the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation. 

Finally, the Federal Government need to be responsive to the advocacy issues that have been raised by citizens groups over the years. The first issue is that of budget realism. The government need to amend the macroeconomic framework of the 2019 budget to be more realistic. The second issue is the need for more budgetary allocation to sectors that will have impact on the lives of citizens such as agriculture, health, education and infrastructure. The third issue is the need to eliminate items that can be considered as frivolous, inappropriate and unclear. Budget lines items should be clearly defined to remove any doubt and ambiguity. In addition, there should be geographical and gender balance for the budget. Furthermore, efforts should be made to reduce recurrent expenditure and service wide votes rather than increasing them.


Strategist, Policy Analyst and Development Expert 

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BREAKING: It's Official! Adamawa Supplementary Gov Election Won't Hold On Saturday

21 March 2019 - 5:12am

Reverend Eric Theman (in white suit), the supposed MRDD candidate

The Adamawa State supplementary governorship election slated for next Saturday has been put on hold exactly as SaharaReporters reported on Wednesday that it would happen.

Justice Abdulaziz Waziri of the Adamawa State High Court on Thursday in Yola, adjourned ruling on a counter motion filed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), seeking to vacate a motion ex parte restraining INEC from conducting the supplementary governorship election.

The Judge cited personal health condition as the reason ruling on the matter could not be done on Thursday. He therefore adjourned till Tuesday next week for ruling.

Speaking on the court’s decision, Tanimu Inuwa, counsel to INEC, said: "As far as I'm concerned, it is a normal day; we canvassed our position, because the plaintiff wanted to stop us from conducting the supplementary election on the ground that they claimed exclusion.

"Our position is that the court does not have jurisdiction, because by the provisions of both the Electoral Act and the Constitution, it’s only a relevant tribunal that has jurisdiction to entertain this matter.

"More so that the commission had published the list of candidates for the governorship election in Adamawa 30 days to election without their candidate, where were they? Assuming that in this election, a winner had been declared what would they have done?

"Fundamentally though, our argument is that the court does not have jurisdiction. There's no material placed before this court to warrant the court to entertain this matter.”

With the adjournment, it is now clear that the supplementary governorship election would not hold on Saturday March 23, 2019, as scheduled, more so that Kassim Gaidam, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in charge of Adamawa had stressed that the commission has "a very good tradition of compliance with court orders".

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BREAKING: ‘With A Heavy Heart’, OurMumuDonDo Begins Probe Of Charly Boy Bribery Scandal

21 March 2019 - 5:02am

Pressure group OurMumuDonDO says it is immediately launching a ‘formal inquiry’ into the allegations of bribery rocking Charles Chukwuemeka Oputa ‘Charly Boy, convener of the group.

An audio exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters on Wednesday showed Charly Boy acknowledging he collected money from Festus Keyamo, spokesperson of President Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation in the 2019 presidential election.

Responding on Thursday in a statement by Adebayo Raphael, its National Secretary, the movement vowed to get to the root of the matter.

“Fellow Nigerians, I wish to say that it has become extremely important that I react to the sordid developments that have recently emerged in the OurMumuDonDo Movement,” read the statement.

“Firstly, I must confess that I am utterly disappointed by the audio recording that went viral between last night and this morning, of a conversation between the present Chairman of the group; Mr. Charles Oputa, and a former member, Mr. Deji Adeyanju, where the former is alleged to have confessed to his dealings with the regime of General Muhammad Buhari and the APC while the latter was languishing in Kano Central Prisons. 

“It is with a heavy and pertinent heart that I offer an unreserved apology, on behalf of myself and the other members of the OurMumuDonDo Movement, to the Nigerian people who we have hitherto proclaimed to represent in all our actions and activities as a pressure group for the last three years. My sincere hope is that you all will view this development as a necessary event needed to sanitise our civic space and reinvigorate our collective commitment to the struggle for social change. 

“Secondly, I must inform the general public that the OurMumuDonDo Movement will now commence a formal inquiry into the body of allegations that have been made public in recent days, and the most appropriate decision will be determined by the Board of Trustees in line with the group’s constitution. 

“In conclusion, I would like to emphasise that the purpose for which OurMumuDonDo Movement was founded has not changed. If there are black sheep in the group, working against the group’s objectives, we will find out and deal with them accordingly. Thank You.”

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BREAKING: INEC Fixes Dates For Collation, Results Announcement And Supplementary Elections In Rivers

21 March 2019 - 4:26am

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the scheduling of supplementary elections in Rivers State for April 13.

Announcing this at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, Festus Okoye, INEC commissioner for information and voter education, also said that collation and announcement of results already generated will be resume between April 2 and 5, 2019.

He added that issuance of certificate of return will hold on April 19.

More to follow...

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BREAKING: 'Cultists' Shoot Three Corps Members In Bayelsa

21 March 2019 - 4:07am

Three National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members have been shot by suspected cultists in Bayelsa State.

The incident occurred on Wednesday night in the Swali community of the state.

When SaharaReporters arrived at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, where they were rushed to by men of the Azikoro division of the anti-robbery squad, it was learnt that one of the corps members was already dead on arrival.

All efforts by the men of the Nigerian Police and the medical personnel at the hospital to save the life of the second corps member was unsuccessful, as he died while receiving treatment.

A third corps member, though, survived the attack and is receiving treatment for the wounds he sustained.

A police officer who refused to give his name at the hospital said they were shot at the Primary School, Swali.


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Injustice In Ivory Tower: The Unreported Ordeals Of Ogun College’s Staff (II)

21 March 2019 - 3:39am

Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu, Ogun State

Comrade Daniel Aborisade, chairman of the Coalition of TASCE Staff

Sofolabo James: “Life has not been the same again since 10 years ago.”

Judgement of the National Industrial Court, Ibadan (1)

Judgement of the National Industrial Court, Ibadan (2)

Odeneye Adesola lecturing a phonetics class on February 6, 2019

Odunlami Samson: “Since my employment I have had series of bitter experiences that I cannot express without shedding tears.”

Ishola Monilola Ajoke: “Some lecturers even borrow money before they can buy fuel to come down to school.”

Video of Injustice in the ivory tower: The unreported ordeals of Ogun college’s ‘walking dead’ (2) Injustice in the ivory tower: The unreported ordeals of Ogun college’s ‘walking dead’ (2)

ONE of the structures close to the main entrance of Tai Solarin College of Education is a place known as the Business Arena. Sitting along the dusty stretch of road that leads to the Degree Complex is the campus’s major commercial hub where students can buy items from food to drinks and stationery.

On Wednesday, 6th of February, at half past eleven o’ clock in the morning, a lecturer is pleading with a stall owner to help him make photocopies of some documents free of charge.

“Please madame, I have brought A4 papers of my own,” he says, holding out the blank sheets as evidence of his thoughtfulness. But the woman remains unpersuaded.

“This is not about providing your own papers,” the business owner snaps in Yoruba.

From her tone, it appears that was not the first time the lecturer would make such demands.

“I cannot do it for you unless you bring some money. I am not running a charity organisation and I have responsibilities too.”

Awkward encounters such as this are not a rarity on the campus of the college of education.

Two days earlier, all through a 20-minute trip between ‘Lagos Garage’, Ijebu-Ode, and Omu-Ijebu where the campus is located, two staff members of the college squeezed themselves in the  front seat of an old cab, and passionately discussed the ugly trends in the school — the driver and another elderly passenger occasionally weighing in.

The topics ranged from prolonged non-payment and partial payment of workers’ salaries, alleged financial excesses of the college provost, Lukmon Adeola Kiadese, and his conditional ban from the campus by the staff union congress to political implications of the state governor’s insistence on picking his successor.

“I am tired of this job,” says the 53-year-old male lecturer, seated closer to the front door.

“If I am given the N12 million the government is owing me today, I will in fact resign and tell them I am no longer interested.

“In another 12 years, I will be asked to go to my house, and you are owing me my money, you don’t want to pay. So it is fight to finish,” he adds with displeasure.

Still speaking to his female colleague, he narrates how he was once given a ride by his former girlfriend at Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), in her Toyota Highlander and how he could not sit comfortably in the car because he was overwhelmed with inferiority complex throughout the short trip.

He had secured a lecturing job before her, but while she rose fast through the ranks, first in a secondary school then at OOU, his career has since grounded to a halt due to the crisis at TASCE.

Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu, Ogun State

Across the campus, the complaints of workers, both teaching and non-teaching, are similar: of children that cannot be sent to school, of backlogs of house rent that cannot be paid, of medical bills that cannot be afforded, of tremendous shame, of begging, of the death of colleagues and loved ones who would still be alive had there been enough resources to pay for basic healthcare.

'Walking corpses'

One label often used by those on the inside to describe themselves and capture their situation is “walking corpses”. With close to 50 dead already and many more struggling to feed well and properly treat one deadly ailment or the other, the description may not be very far from reality. For many of the staff members, the over ten years they have so far spent on the campus since the reestablishment of the college has been, at best, a waste of time—worrisome especially for a country where average life expectancy is no more than 55 years.

When Gbenga Daniel handed over the office of governor in May 2011, he owed staff members 10 months of salaries. But of this, seven months of net salary have been paid by the former provost, Abiodun Ojo, using internally generated revenue. For the 15 months between April 2015 and August 2016, no salary was paid at all to the workers, following a peaceful protest in Ijebu-Ode. Instead, to discourage work stoppage, the lecturers were paid monthly transportation allowances ranging from N3000 to N6000.

When a new provost, Kiadese, was to assume office in September 2016, he persuaded them to keep working while receiving half salaries. This regime lasted until August the following year.

In September 2017, this was raised to 60 per cent pay, until December 2018. Finally, the provost’s office proposed in January to pay 75 per cent of the salaries, after  ‘realising’ it had the capacity to do so. As it stands, the government is owing over N4.3 billion in arrears and owed pension commitments. Part of that is 29 months’ salaries and 48 months of arrears, stemming from the late implementation of a new salary structure approved in July 2009 by the federal government for tertiary institutions.

“I can tell you there is no senior staff on this campus that will collect less than N5 million if all those monies are paid, at least from level seven upward,” observes Daniel Aborisade, chairman of the Coalition of TASCE Staff.

“We have principal lecturers, chief lecturers who will collect as high as N17 to N20 million.”

Comrade Daniel Aborisade, chairman of the Coalition of TASCE Staff

Even if the college resumes the full payment of salaries today, it may fall extremely short of the workers’ financial needs. This is because no actual promotion exercise has been conducted since 2008. The staff are still paid based on the structure and their professional levels in 2008. This is in spite of disturbingly increasing market prices of basic commodities and services.

According to data from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the average inflation rate, year on year, between October 2008 and January 2019 is 12 per cent.

Also, whenever payments are made, those who have obtained loans from the cooperative societies on campus—campus and they are many—have their loans gradually deducted from their salaries.

However, the various deductions are not remitted into the cooperative societies’ accounts, and so the debtors are compelled to pay a second time in order to access other packages, allow others benefit from the pool, and apply for benefits such as their retirement package. Elizabeth Hemba, for example, had N461,000 deducted on paper from her total pay, but she still has to pay the same sum to the societies.

Life has been tough for the workers. Their children have had to sit at home because they cannot afford the fees. People close to them, or they themselves, have died because they could not afford the pills. Some have been chased out by their landlords because they could not afford the bills, so they move to less expensive places or their family homes.

Moses, an administrative staff member, and his family had to seek shelter in a few churches in Ijebu-Ode for several months before he could gather enough money to transport his properties to Sagamu, where his father’s house is.

For Sofolabo James Olatunde who has been in the system since 2006, the challenges are not only financial and physical, they are also deeply psychological.

“You can imagine the psychology, when you come around to teach other people’s children and your own children are struggling to go or remain in school, will you be able to give in the best?” he asks in a mild, almost hushed, tone.

Sofolabo is unable to fulfil his perceived duties either as a husband at home or as a son to his aged parents. He has a son at Olabisi Onabanjo University, but his wife has had to bear the burden of paying the fees alone. She is also responsible for other bills at home. In a deeply patriarchal society like Nigeria, this role reversal has taken an emotional toll on her husband.

“My wife is now my husband,” he mutters in an emotion-laden tone.

“You know… when you live in a house and your wife determines this and that, who are you? I am just like a housemaid to my wife at home because she knows there is no way for me to do all my dues as the husband.”

Sofolabo James: “Life has not been the same again since 10 years ago.”

The ban of a union and the rise of another

In most public institutions where the workforce is considerably large, trade unions naturally emerge to protect the interests of the workers. For TASCE, there was the College of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) to which staff members regularly paid commitment levies, among others. The unions were in the frontline of championing for the payment of arrears and full salaries. But in a letter dated June 11 2015, the Ogun State government declared it suspended, as well as other union activities in the school.

The government also proceeded to suspend the union’s chairman and secretary, Dan Oludipe and Modupe Oba-Adenuga, alleging that they did not uphold the instruction to suspend all union activities. A 2018 order of the National Industrial Court, Ibadan, voiding the letters of suspension and awarding damages of N100,000 to the applicants is yet to be complied with.

Seeing there was no voice loud enough to speak on behalf of the workers, Daniel Aborisade, Sub-Dean of Students’ Affairs for the college’s degree programme, and other lecturers formed in November what is now known as the Coalition of Tai Solarin College of Education Staff, which has since filled the void. Aborisade describes the coalition as a child of necessity that will fizzle out once all demands have been met by the authorities.

Hemba, the coalition’s secretary, believes its emergence is nothing short of divine. She recalls how some college employees predicted that the initiative would be short-lived, and says instead it has gone on to achieve much more than was envisaged.

“When we started, some of us were saying it will not last, that ‘by the time they pick one or two of them everything will die down’. But, thank God, we started in November and we are still moving.”

The coalition has written letters upon letters to important personalities and government figures at various levels. It has written newspaper rejoinders. It has organised peaceful demonstrations, and even successfully forbade the college provost and acting bursar from visiting the campus until they have “good news about something to be paid”.

Judgement of the National Industrial Court, Ibadan (1) Judgement of the National Industrial Court, Ibadan (2)

The new union also recently appealed to the public for help in cash and kind. One of the few who answered the call was the Ogun State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, which supplied bags of rice, beans and garri, packs of noodle, paste, spaghetti, among other relief materials. These have been distributed to lecturers between levels one and nine. The families of deceased staff members were also given some of the foodstuff.

“We really want to commend the NLC because the foodstuff really came on time and those staff that got it really appreciate it,” says Aborisade.

Ambali Akeem Bolaji, Ogun State chairman of the NLC, acknowledges in a phone interview with this reporter the challenges facing the college staff, and says the union sees the government’s inaction as “a deliberate attempt to kill that institution and to send some of the lecturers to untimely death”.

The union leader adds: “When we even visited, we were moved to tears when some of the lecturers sought for used cloths, used shoes and what have you. It is a deliberate attempt to ensure that they are pauperised, they are demoralised, and some them die untimely.”

He also accuses the state government of not using the released bailout funds for what they were intended for and calls on the federal government to “set up a probe panel to unravel the appropriation of Paris club refund and bailout to Ogun State to ensure that all these monies will be properly utilised”.

Nuhu Ogirima, COEASU’s President, says the national body met with the Secretary to the State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, towards reversing the decision to suspend the union. The government has, however, insisted that the staff coalition must stop its activities for negotiations to start.

“The state government is not happy that the coalition has been making serious negative publicity against it,” Ogirima informs The ICIR.

A brother’s death

The reporter met Odeneye Adesola, a lecturer at TASCE’s English Department and a single mother, as she taught phonetics to a class of about 70 students. Two Fridays before this encounter, on the 25th of January, she had lost her only brother, a 43-year-old, to illness. Yet, like most of her colleagues, she keeps showing up for work in spite of bereavement.

She explains that she was the deceased’s only benefactor and the major reason he died was because she could not afford to properly get him treated.

‘Sola herself has been diagnosed with arthritis and postmenopausal osteoporosis. She cannot walk long distances nor can she stand for a prolonged period.

Odeneye Adesola lecturing a phonetics class on February 6, 2019

Just as her brother before his recent death, she has had to rely on herbal medicines as she is unable to afford orthodox medical treatment, which she has discovered to be expensive. But her ill health and brother’s death are only few of the problems the English lecturer is faced with. Her postgraduate programme at the University of Ibadan, where she had applied for a PhD in Pragmatics, also suffered premature death as she could no longer afford the expenses.

Her youngest daughter, a 2017 TASCE graduate, has just gained admission to study at the Lagos State University, and she has still not been able to meet the financial obligations. Asked how she has managed to see her other two children through school, she instinctively gives one answer: donations from friends and families.

“It got to a stage that when you beg everyday, people do ask us if we are really working,” she laments.

“So we are potential beggars… We beg and our benefactors are tired of us. Even we are tired of our benefactors.”

“I just thank God that I don’t have parents again because I wonder what I will be telling them,” ‘Sola adds.

Of shame and a stagnating career

While Adesola is thankful for the absence of her parents so they would not have to share in her adversity, for Oluwatobi Elizabeth Hemba, a senior administrative staff at the college, her feelings concerning her living parents are a mix of regret and shame.

She explains with a heavy heart: “At time, I still go to my mother, whom I ought to be taking care of at her old age, to collect money and to collect foodstuff. When will she start enjoying me?”

Hemba, who also serves the Coalition of Tai Solarin College of Education Staff as the secretary, was employed at Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) in December 2004. She observes that she achieved much more in the four years between that December and July 2008 when TASCE was separated from the university, compared to the over ten-year-period that has followed. This, according to her, is because her salary was paid completely and regularly at the time and she could save as well as plan with it.

“But since I got to this place, I don’t think I can count anything that I have actually achieved,” she says. “My children, as little as they are, always pray that: ‘mummy your salary will be payed. By the grace of God, Amosun will pay your money.’ It is as bad as that.”

Compared to the staff members who were transferred to TASCE from TASUED, those who remained at the university—despite having similar degrees, engaging in the same work, and being at the same institution—are doing much better for themselves in terms of achieving basic life goals.

Hemba goes into the detail of moments of humiliation she regularly goes through, especially when she attends ceremonies together with staff members from other colleges. At other times, as she waits under the sun to hitchhike at the usual spot near Lagos Garage, she finds friends in other institutions drive by in enviable cars. This awkward situation often leaves her overwhelmed with shame, she said.

“We have been downgraded,” she bemoans. “It is only the grace of God that has been sustaining us, [and the hope] that once we still have life we will make it… But when you come to the office at times you will not want to work because you feel very bad.”

Odunlami Samson: “Since my employment I have had series of bitter experiences that I cannot express without shedding tears.”

Another of the many college lecturers who wait at the Ijebu-Ode bus station for free rides to work is Odunlami Samson, employed at the college clinic. He describes his experiences at TASCE since his employment in 2008 as pathetic, traumatic and dehumanising, adding that he has been on the same spot ever since. Narrating a familiar experience common on campus, he says his first son gained admission into Olabisi Onabanjo University earlier in the year, but he does not have the means to pay his fee.

Years ago, he was sent packing by his former landlord after owing a house rent of N2500 per month. He had to live temporarily with his wife and children at an uncompleted building in a government quarters. “And I will go out saying that, yes, I am a government worker,” he adds.

“We are still working. You can see us on campus, going about our normal duty, doing the job effectively. And we are glad that we are doing the job,” says Samson.

“But it will be a thing of sorrow that at the end of the month, we could not have our pay … because the same market they are going to is the same market we are going. And the market women will not give us special considerations because the government did not pay us.”

Students cry in solidarity

It is apparently not only the employees of TASCE who feel the heat from the non-payment and part-payment of deserved earnings, undergraduates at the college have their fair share of the misfortune that has befallen the college. While lauding most of their lecturers for not allowing the setback to prevent them from teaching properly and regularly, they also acknowledge that the financial suffocation has greatly affected their studies.

The matriculation ceremony of freshmen, slated initially for January 18, has been postponed indefinitely. They have also neither received their identification cards nor undergone any orientation processes. Power supply has been erratic on campus and the generators have not been used for months.

Lecturers, says Aanu, a second-year student of Political Science, sometimes do not attend classes with the excuse of not having the needed fare. The students are also worried a prolonged disregard of the lecturers’ clamours may disrupt the smooth-running academic calendar.

Ishola Monilola Ajoke: “Some lecturers even borrow money before they can buy fuel to come down to school.”

“If we should go on strike now, it is a big deal,” states Ishola Monilola Ajoke, a student legislator representing the School of Art and Social constituency.

She explains: “So many students have already spent three to four years at home before even gaining admission into NCE. Now imagine if the school goes on strike because of salaries not being paid. Where do they even want to start from?”

For Adenuga Abisoye, a student of the School of Languages, the only explanation for what has befallen the staff of the school is that the Ogun State government “does not have human feelings”.

He asks Amosun, the governor, to imagine a scenario where he has to work for two years without getting paid his salaries and allowances.

“He will talk now,” he quips in pidgin English, “that this thing is unfair.”

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Court Declines To Prosecute Fani-Kayode, Abaribe Over Nnamdi Kanu's Disappearance

21 March 2019 - 3:32am

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has thrown out the case seeking to ensure the prosecution of Femi Fani-Kayode, former Minister of Aviation, and Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe over the disappearance of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.

Nnamdi Kanu disappeared since September 2017 after he was granted bail by Justice Binta Nyako. He has since been sighted in Ghana and Israel.

He is standing trial for alleged treason.

One Isaiah Ayugu had approached the Federal High Court in October 2018, asking it to hold Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, Femi Fani-Kayode and others responsible for the "disappearance" of Kanu from the country

In their response to the suit, Abaribe and Fani-Kayode described the application as an abuse of court process, citing other ongoing cases related to the instant application.

Justice John Tsoho, however, dismissed the suit on Tuesday, for the failure of the applicant to respond to preliminary objection describing his case as an abuse of court process.

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INEC Begins Movement Of Sensitive Materials For Supplementary Election In Plateau

21 March 2019 - 3:26am

The movement of sensitive materials for the supplementary elections in Plateau State has commenced.

Disclosing the timeline of events, Osaretin Imahiyereobo, Head of Department, Voter Education and Publicity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Plateau State, said distribution of sensitive materials to Local Government Areas (LGAs) will take place on Thursday, March 21, 2019, while movement of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members to LGAs will take place on March 21 as well.

Batching of sensitive and non-sensitive materials from LGAs to Registration Area Centres (RACs) will take place on March 21, movement of personnel, materials and security officers to the RACs and refresher training at the RACs will take place on March 22.

Supplementary elections are expected to hold in the 40 polling units of nine LGAs of Plateau State to determine the winner of the governorship election.

Professor Richard Anande, INEC Returning Officer in the state, had on March 11 announced that Governor Simon Lalong of the All Progressives Congress (APC) scored 583,255 votes against Jeremiah Useni of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who scored 548,336 votes. He also added that none of the leading candidates met all the requirements of law to be declared winner of the election.

A rerun will also be conducted by INEC for Langtang South State Constituency.

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EXCLUSIVE AUDIO: Charly Boy Acknowledges Collecting Money From Keyamo

21 March 2019 - 3:09am

An audio has emerged of the co-convener of ‘Our Mumu Don Do Movement’ Charles Chukwuemeka Oputa aka Charlyboy acknowledging he collected money from Festus Keyamo, spokesperson of President Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation in the 2019 presidential election.

Deji Adeyanju had revealed that Charlyboy confessed to him that he collected money form President Muhammadu Buhari to attack Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), before the presidential election.

Adeyanju also threatened to release audio evidence of his conversation with Charlyboy where the 67-year-old made the confession.

However, in his reaction, Charly Boy did not refute or confirm Deji's allegation.

In the audio, exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters on Wednesday, Charlyboy acknowledged he met with Keyamo and collected money from him.

Deji confronted Charly Boy with the allegation,  and Charly Boy stutteringly admitted that he collected the money.

Charly Boy said: “Festus came here after we talked about your problem, I asked Festus, 'do you believe in what I’m doing'? He said yes.

“So I told him, 'because you don go follow these people, you no go fit support me?'"

Video of EXCLUSIVE AUDIO: How Charly Boy Acknowledged He Received Money From APC's Festus Keyamo EXCLUSIVE AUDIO: How Charly Boy Acknowledged He Received Money From APC's Festus Keyamo

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