Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fire guts Obasanjo’s hill top home

Fire guts Obasanjo’s hill top home
A section of the multi-million naira mansion of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta, Ogun State, went up in flames on Thursday.
Members of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigeria Police Force, State Security Service and close friends of the ex-president battled to contain the fire from spreading to other parts of the sprawling estate.
Ogun State Fire Service truck marked OG 122 AO9 roared into the compound an hour after the fire was detected and was joined by another ten minutes later.
The Nation gathered that the fire which started at about 4:30pm gutted Obasanjo’s office within the building and it is not yet clear what caused it.

Fire guts Obasanjo’s hill top homeThe Nation

Sunday, December 23, 2012

How Anenih, Alison-Madueke, Others Robbed Nigeria Of N234bn Meant For Road Construction-PREMIUM TIMES

Anthony Anenih and Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke
By Ogala Emmanuel
Despite his indictment, Mr. Anenih has now been appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan to head the NPA board.
Tony Anenih, recently re-appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan to head the board of the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, does not have a clean past in managing public funds, a 2009 senate report said.

In December 2009, a damning report detailing how Mr. Anenih, a former works minister and then leader of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), allegedly mismanaged billions of naira meant for the rehabilitation and construction of Nigerian roads, was listed for debate – for the third time in a row – by the Senate.

The transport probe report is filled with revelations of alleged serial malpractices, and shows how, in 10 years (1999 to 2009), through multiple contract inflation frauds, connivance between contractors and government officials, some N645 billion was spent on 4,752 kilometres of road; shortchanging the government to the tune of N49 million on each kilometre of road worked on, amounting to approximately N233 billion.

The report, produced by a senate ad-hoc committee on transportation, led by Heineken Lokpobiri, blamed Anenih and his successors in the ministry, for the poor state of Nigerian highways during the period and called for their prosecution.

The report

The report shows that Nigeria’s public transportation sector, under the watch of Mr. Anenih and three others, was a cesspit of monumental corruption and fraud as contractors connived with government officials to defraud the country.
The report contains details of what its authors said was one of the nation’s largest portfolio of official scams at the time.
During its 20-day sitting in 2008, the ad-hoc committee said it scrutinised 532 written memoranda and listened to 248 presentations.

The committee said ministers and other senior officials of the ministries of transportation and Finance between 1999 and 2009 awarded multiple contracts for the same roads and paid for unapproved contracts.
According to the report, between 1999 and 2009, the ministry of transportation gave contracts for the construction and rehabilitation of 11, 591 km roads at a cost of N1.008 trillion – about N87 million per km.
During the same period, only 41 per cent of the roads were worked on, after close to 64 per cent of the contract value was paid.

In the 10-year period, work was done on only 4,752 kilometres of roads for N645.8 billion, at very high cost of N135.8 million per kilometre, defrauding the government N49 million on each kilometre.
“There was no commensurate value for funds expended on the roads from 1999 to 2009,” the committee said.
The committee said contractors, who were usually selected on questionable grounds, liaised with the leadership of the ministries and reduced the scope of awarded contracts without an equivalent scaling down on costs. In all cases, no one received any query from the internal audit.

The report said that under the reign of Tony Anenih, Adeseye Ogunlewe, Obafemi Anibaba and Cornelius Adebayo, road contracts were awarded depending only on estimates that were submitted by the bidding contractors, without prior design by the ministry.

The ministry also “fixed prices even before the roads were actually designed by the companies,” the report said.
The report detailed how about half – 46 per cent – of the companies that got jobs under Mr. Anenih and the three were not registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission at the time they were awarded contracts, against contract management rules.

It described the engineering representatives of the transport ministry as some of the most corrupt and lacking in technical expertise. “They granted clearances to the contractors when the jobs were far from finished,” the report said.
The current Petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who – as minister of Transportation and Works – literally wept while inspecting the condition of the Benin-Ore road, was also indicted in the report.
The panel said Mrs. Alison-Madueke paid more than N1.2 billion into the private account of a company called Digital Toll Gates Limited, against the written advice of the Due Process Office.

Recommended for prosecution

The senators recommended that Tony Anenih, Adeseye Ogunlewe, Obafemi Anibaba and Cornelius Adebayo, who headed the transport ministry within that period, along with their Ministers of State and the Permanent Secretaries be prosecuted by the government for defrauding the nation.

The report also recommended the prosecution of Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who was the permanent secretary during the administration of all the ministers except Mr. Anenih’s. He was alleged to have crafted a means of splitting contracts into sizeable amounts to bring the values within the approving authority of his office. With this, projects with single appropriation were allegedly awarded by him separately sometimes to non-existing companies.

Swept under the carpet

That report was never considered on the floor of the senate.
The report, which took the ad hoc committee 18 months to produce, kept appearing on the senate’s order paper as a matter to be considered at the next plenary till February 2010 when it was again listed to be debated and adopted in March. That was its last listing before that senate session ended in June 2011.
Ayogu Eze, a member of the committee and spokesman for the senate at the time, said the report could have “skipped the minds of those in the Senate leadership” or, perhaps, the Rules and Business committee of the Senate failed to slate it for discussion.

The Rules and Business Committee schedules matters handed down to it by the Senate leadership for discussion.
Alloysius Etok, then chairman of the Rules and Business Committee explained at the time he could no longer schedule the probe report for debate because he got no green light from the then senate leadership, led by David Mark.
“I’m trying to prioritise them (issues to be discussed by the Senate) and again, they (the authors of the report) did not finish that job,” Mr. Etok said. “I was trying to weigh the options which I am still trying to talk to the leadership to see if we can now take the report in part. If the leadership agrees that we treat it in parts, then I will bring it up for the interest of the public and Nigerian people. If the leadership says we should wait till they bring the second part of the report, then I will wait.”

The report indicting Mr. Anenih was the first part of a larger investigation of alleged corruption in the transport sector since 1999 by the Lokpobiri led Senate ad-hoc committee.
The second part of the report, which lawmakers said detailed the misuse of the funds meant for the marine and air transport sector during that time, was never submitted.

Mr. Jonathan ignores indictment to reappoint Anenih

President Jonathan has now brushed aside that indictment hanging on Mr. Anenih’s neck, appointing him to head the board of the NPA. Critics say the appointment has once again underlined the president’s non-commitment to the war against corruption.
The presidency could not be reached to comment for this story. His spokespersons, Reuben Abati and Doyin Okupe, did not answer or return calls made to their telephones.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2015 election will not hold –NAP

Dr. Tunji Braithwaite
Second Republic lawmaker and Chairman, National Advance Party, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, in this interview with LEKE BAIYEWU, says no sovereign national conference, no election in 2015

How would you react to the deregistration of your party?

The INEC decision was clearly unconstitutional. It’s a diversion.
At this point in time when we are talking about the level of poverty and sufferings of the people of this country, when we are also calling for the convocation of a national conference, deregistration is a non-issue as far as I am concerned. We should get on with more important matters. We are getting to the end of the year and the issue of corruption remains completely untouched. I have said it many times that no force can prevent the people of this country from coming together to take political action, either they are active in political parties or not. No force can stop them.

Now that the 2015 general elections are approaching, are you planning to form another political party?

There will be no election in 2015. Go and write that down. There will be no elections in 2015 unless a sovereign national conference is convoked and a new constitution acceptable to the people of this country is agreed upon. Then if there are no elections in 2015, there is going to be an interim administration. We cannot continue in this rot; in this morass. Let the masses realise that deregistration of parties was intended to distract attentions from the real issues as to whether this country will remain as it is. The constitution we are operating now (1999 Constitution) has been adjudged as completely ineffective because it’s not a people’s constitution. We need to have a people’s constitution which will include dealing with corruption. We will also include decentralisation of power. That is the primary focus that we are concerned with and we will do our best. So, forget elections in 2015; that is putting the cart before the horse. We must convoke a national conference first and bring out a peoples’ constitution, not the whitewashing they are doing now in the so-called town hall meetings.

Some Nigerians have been calling for a revolution. Do you see it coming?

Yes! That is the answer. Enough of all this nonsense!

Can you compare the Nigeria legislature in the First and Second Republic with what we have now in terms of efficiency?

The performances of both the legislature and government in the First and Second Republics, which I participated in, were far better than this corrupt legislature. Since the military took over, corruption has been instituted and it is interesting to hear some of the anchor heads of corruption coming out to denounce corruption and even trying to jump boat. It’s too late. We know, the people of this country know the people who have looted their treasuries; those who have desecrated justice and values.

What do you think are the challenges of the nation’s anti-corruption agencies in prosecuting corruption cases, even with available evidences?

The anti-graft agencies are still being manipulated by the government.
The judiciary too is not much of a help in the fight against corruption because some members of the judiciary are deep in corruption themselves. That is why there has to be a revolution for the people to take their destinies in their own hands. And that is what the National Advance Party has been calling for since it was formed.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pardon Me Sir, But Aren’t You a Dictator? Ghanaian Journalist Asks ‘Democrat’ Olusegun Obasanjo

By SaharaReporters, New York
At the preliminary press briefing of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the outcome of Ghana’s 2012 at the Best Western Hotel in Accra on Saturday, a local journalist forced former Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo, the ECOWAS Head of Mission, to re-examine his credentials as a democrat.

The occasion was the Question and Answer segment that followed the presentation of the preliminary report presentation of the Commission by the Deputy Head of Mission.
As one of the Commission's recommendations curiously calls for a media framework to curtail the “excesses” of the media in election reporting, the first time such a recommendation has found its way into an official ECOWAS document, a journalist in the gallery sought clarification on the proposed the media framework, in a question addressed to “General” Obasanjo.

The immediacy of the attack was not lost on Obasanjo, who promptly tackled the reference, in the process exposing himself as the author of the anti-freedom of information recommendation.

"My friend, I don't know why you address me as General Obasanjo,” the two-time Nigeria leader said.  
“In Nigeria where I am the former president, it is my political opponents that address me as “General” Obasanjo when they want to show me as a dictator. My party call me Chief Obasanjo. It now depends on which side you belong".

The exchange threw the whole room into uncontrollable laughter before Obasanjo turned to the request for him to expatiate on his media framework proposal which is regarded among journalists and other election observers as reactionary and repressive.

Obasanjo said he believes there used a law to "curtail the excesses" of the Ghanaian media in the reportage of election process, and tried to distinguish between "right of information" as opposed to "freedom of information" in journalism and access to information.

In Ghana, Obasanjo’s assessment and position contradicts the popular verdict of independent, local and international observers of the election.  It is believed that the proactive, efficient, timely, accurate and popular reportage of developments at polling units and transmission of verified results for public consumption is the missing recipe for transparent, popular, free and fair election in many African countries, including Nigeria.

In this regard, Ghana has over 1500 FM radio stations, community radios inclusive. Correspondents and reporters have been in polling units across the country, transmitting certified results live to their stations.

It is believed that the positive influence of such media participation does not meet with Obasanjo’s approval, as he is known to cherish secrecy in the election process that can be manipulated at the last minute as has been widely-done in his Peoples Democratic Party in Nigeria.
In 2006, Obasanjo single-handedly chose his party’s presidential ticket, and superintended a rigged election that brought Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan to power.

Pardon Me Sir, But Aren’t You a Dictator? Ghanaian Journalist Asks ‘Democrat’ Olusegun Obasanjo | Sahara Reporters

Friday, December 7, 2012

Senate Kicks Against Extra N9 Billion for VP's Residence

 Vice President Namadi Sambo

The Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) was told Thursday that the ongoing construction of the vice-president's official residence would on completion cost N16 billion.
But the committee, chaired by Senator Smart Adeyemi, has opposed the release of an extra N9 billion for the residence.
Adeyemi, who spoke while on an oversight visit to the site of the project at Aso Drive, Abuja, noted that such a huge sum was uncalled for especially at a time when most Nigerians could not afford three square meals.
The total cost of the residence was revealed by the Executive Secretary of the FCDA, Mr. Adamu Sumaila.
While it was not clear when the project will be completed, over N7 billion has so far been expended on the project, with the FCDA requesting an extra N9 billion to complete it.
In his explanation, Sumaila, however, said that the extra funds would cover the cost of two guest houses, security gadgets, fencing, infrastructure and furnishing, including banquet halls.
He further revealed that the N7 billion so far committed to the project was for the first scope of work, stressing that the building was a big project of about 4,000 square meters as captured in the master plan.
Sumaila stated that the extra N9 billion had been revised by the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) to N6 billion.
The contracting firm, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, also revealed that the project was stalled for 5 months as a result of lack funds, but observed that the N7 billion allocated for the work was within the scope of their designated operation.
Reacting, Senator Adeyemi, said even with the adjustments by the BPP, the cost of building of the house, was incomprehensible and inexplicable.
He recalled that the committee last year refused to approve the additional N9 billion, adding that it would not release such a huge amount in the face of the austere situation in the country.
Senator Domingo Obende, in his remark, wondered why the security fittings were not included at the initial stage of the work and asked for a breakdown of the requirements to justify the additional funding, which should be submitted to the committee.
He said: "Additional N9 billion is inexplicable to us. We will not add one kobo more for completion of the project. N7 billion is more than adequate to complete the project. Nigerians are in need of money.
"We are aware of the security of the VP but in a nation where people cannot afford three square meals, we will not put additional money in the project.
"You will have to source for additional funds for the project. If you had said N3 billion or N4 billion that would have been understandable, but N9 billion, that is even more than the original project."
Also, while overseeing the construction of the Millennium Tower, the committee queried the contractor over why no Nigerian was in the engineering team.
They expressed concern that there was no technology transfer, as the 30 professionals in the contractor's employ were foreigners while 304 Nigerians were labourers and junior cadre staff.
Impressed by the outcome of the work at the tower, the committee promised to ensure that the statutory allocation is included for the Millennium Tower in the 2013 budget alongside the N2 billion already budgeted.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Conjoined Twins In Kano Need N600,000 For Separation

Three months-old twins joined at the vertebrate and one anus need N600.000 for a surgery that would separate them.

Hassana and Hussaina, according to their mother, Malama Badariyya Badaru, were born at the Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital Kano, but were later transferred to Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital for intensive care.

“I gave birth to them at Murtala Hospital, and they seemed to be in good health, but when the nurses found out that the twins were joined from the back, we were quickly referred to the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital for intensive care. We were also told that a surgery has to be carried out to separate them,” she said.

According to Malama Badariyya, her husband and the father of the conjoined twins is a civil servant with low income, and cannot afford the money needed for the surgery.

“My husband is a civil servant, and we cannot afford the amount of money needed. We have been given a three months waiver by AKTH, and the waiver will expire in a few days. We are in need of assistance from the public to save these babies,” she said.

Head of Department Surgery at the Teaching Hospital, Dr. Muhammad Aminu Gwarzo, said the conjoined twins have a joined vertebrate and one anus, and that N600, 000.00 is needed for a surgery on them.

“We have done some investigations on the conjoined twins, and we discovered that instead of having a separate vertebral column, the twins were joined at the tail end of their vertebrate forming a ‘U’ shape. We still need to conduct other investigations before conducting the surgery,” he said.