Saturday, 28 February 2009
The Movement For The Emancipation Of Niger Delta(MEND)have warned foreign investors to stay off the Niger Delta, Nigeria's restive oil rich region, which MEND regards as its homeland and which it has been trying to "emancipate" through armed struggle.
This warning was provoked by the alleged action of the governors of Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states recently in London in which the governors were alleged to have held meeting with some officials of the British government and some investors, where they were alleged to have assured those present that the situation in the region is now conducive for investment. The three states are major oil producing states in Nigeria's Niger Delta region.
In an online news release titled, "Caveat Emptor-Investors Beware", sent to chidi opara reports, MEND warned:
"In the recent Chatam House Round table in London on the Niger Delta, the governors of the states of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers attempted to deceive investors to believe that all is well in the region for investors. Such misrepresentation of the true situation by these men should not be a surprise to anyone aware that the governors are occupying their positions today, not by the mandate given by the Niger Delta people in a free and fair election, but by massive electoral fraud, rigging and the use of armed political thugs. These three men do not represent the masses in the impoverished region. The people on whose behalf they claim to speak for consider them stooges to the Northern Sultans and illegitimate bastards. While they sat there lying to the world, the Northern dominated army continued its killing spree of harmless civilians whose only crime was daring to protest the oil spills that have ravaged their fishing ponds, farmlands and drinking wells. While they stood seeping their cocktails, their agents were busy laundering ill-gotten wealth on their behalf into UK bank accounts under fictitious names. As they were being ushered to a sumptuous three course meal, two British oil workers were huddled together under a tent being pounded by the tropical rain deep in the sweltering mangrove creeks, eating canned meals from Heinz. The warning by the British Foreign office travel advisory for which these three criminals kicked against is real. Investors must beware because the Niger Delta is heading for anarchy. Only justice and not investment will produce a conducive atmosphere for genuine peace and development. Those talking to the wrong people in Abuja about investing in the trans-Saharan gas pipe project will be investing unwisely as we are determined to sabotage the project from inception".
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 02:51
Thursday, 26 February 2009
Meltdown: Government Response Is Uninspiring(News Release By Economic Team Of Coalition Of Political Parties In Nigeria)
We reviewed the current economic challenges, identified policy options, and evaluated current actions and policies responses on the part of government regarding the global financial crisis and its effects on current Oil price, budget, and the consequent devaluation of the currency.
Sadly, one of the key points we highlighted is a lack of coordination in terms of the actions regarding who is responsible for the Nigerian response to all these issues.
There is a lack of coordination within a disjointed system with too many responsibilities fragmented all over the place unlike what you can see in many places where it is clear that there is a coordinated policy response whether you are talking to the US Treasury Secretary or the Federal Reserve.
The team was shocked at the lack of sufficient analysis regarding the impact of the economic crisis on different sectors like the household and businesses at diverse levels as we found that they are just talking at the level of government and its effects on government revenue whereas they need to drill down to these sectors in order to have appropriate policy responses.
The situation highlights the need to measure the level of economic failure or otherwise from the point of view of the common man because the reality is that most Nigerians have always been in crisis, hence the need to measure our economic performance by using the Human Development Index to gauge how are people are faring in health, education, unemployment, poverty-level and such others which must take into account the need of poor people to inform policy options.”
The crisis brings to light, the issue of lack of diversification of our economy and hence a pressing need for government to go beyond sharing Oil money and begin to actively diversify our economy and improve the quality of governance. We expect government to articulate clear policy on Agriculture, Manufacturing, and untapped Solid Minerals.
The team believes that concerning the financial sector, their is need to preserve regulatory independence and integrity, and more transparency because many times, we find regulators appearing like stakeholders in the sector rather than referees deemed and bound to be objective.
Press/Media Aide to Professor Pat Utomi.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 09:02
Sunday, 22 February 2009
Ethnic Nationality Chieftain Advises Niger Delta Youths At Nigerian Literary Icon's Thanksgiving Ceremony
The President-general of Ogbako Ikwerre World Wide, an umbrella socio-cultural body of the Ikwerre ethnic nationality of Rivers State Nigeria, Elder Samson Agbaru has advised youths in the Niger Delta region in particular and Nigeria in general to shun vices such as kidnapping, drugs, cultism, etc.
This advice was given at a thanksgiving ceremony yesterday in Aluu, Rivers State, when the family of the renowned novelist and playwright, rtd. Captain Elechi Amadi organized a thanksgiving ceremony to celebrate the literary icon's freedom from kidnappers earlier in the year. Rtd. Captain Amadi was in january this year at his Aluu country home, abducted by some armed men. The writer was released within twenty-four hours.
"We are aware that our youths are finding it difficult to make ends meet due to the harsh economic situation in the country, but vices like kidnapping are not the way out", the Ogbako Ikwerre Chieftain advised. "Our Governor has already put in place schemes to cushion the effects of these hardships, so our youths should take advantage of these schemes", Elder Agbaru concluded.
The ceremony which was to begin by 10.00am, with a church service at the Saint Paul's Anglican Church Aluu, was shifted to 2.00pm, this, according to an unconfirmed information, is to accomodate the schedule of the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who was listed on the programme as the guest of honour.
The thanksgiving ceremony was attended by people from all spheres of life. The literary icon in a brief remark, thanked "all those who in various ways expressed solidarity with the family during the time of trial".
A very noticeable aspect of the ceremony was the direct take over of organization of the vital segments by The Rivers State Government House, despite the absence of the Governor and other government officials. A protocol Officer who refused to disclose his name to chidi opara reports volunteered thus, "the celebrant is an internationally acclaimed writer, so we do not want spoilers to use this occassion to embarass his Exellency".
It is not yet known why the Governor whom chidi opara reports learnt is very close to the literary icon, did not attend the ceremony. Our checks within security circles in Portharcourt however, revealed that "the Governor's movements are now greatly minimized, except for very necessary important official and unofficial engagements, because of the recent threats to his life by militants".
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 05:41
Friday, 20 February 2009
The upper chamber of the Nigerian Legislature, the Senate, have committed a blunder in its recent indictment of Mr. Nasir El-Rufia, who presided over the strategic Ministry Of the Federal Capital Territory(FCT), in the last lap of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency.
A Senate committee recently probed the former Minister's tenure and thereafter returned a verdict of guilt. The committee alleged that the former Minister revoked legitimately acquired parcels of land in Abuja and re-allocated same to his relations and relations of the then President. It therefore recommended that since Mr. Rufia performed this function when the Federal Executive Council(FEC) had been dissolved and Mr. Rufia consequently no longer a Minister, he acted outside the law and so the re-allocated parcels of Land should be revoked. The Committee also recommended that the ex-Minister should be investigated further by security agencies and should also be banned from holding public offices for a period of time, amongst other recommendations. The Senate adopted the recommendations that the ex-Minister's tenure be investigated further by security agencies and that the parcels of land allegedly re-allocated, be revoked. Mr. Rufia is already in court challenging the probe.
Investigations by chidi opara reports however, revealed that the main plank on which the Senate rested the indictment; that the ex-Minister performed this duty when he had seized to be Minister, is baseless. We found out that the FEC met on 23rd of May, 2007 and resolved that the council would remain in office till May 29th, 2007. We also discovered that dissolution of council was not even discussed at the FEC meeting of 16th May, 2007, in which the council was purported to have been dissolved and on which the Senate acted.
Further investigations also revealed that the powerful toes on which the former Minister stepped on will go to any length for revenge. It was also discovered that some persons close to the present Administration and desperate to grab parcels of land in Abuja instigated the probe and subsequent indictment.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 02:29
The Centre for the Defence of Human Righsts and Democracy announces the establishment of the magazine "Connecting Africa". The Magazine will contains brief reports on NGOs activities around Africa. Your NGO is invited to contribute to the elabotation of this initiative. We welcome your inputs and comments to the structure below. The first edition of the Magazine will be published in March 2009.Should you be interested, please send an email as soon as possible to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The launch of this Magazine has been decided in order to reach the following objectives: - To create a connection between African organisations in order to share experiences and ideas on important issues;- To create an "informal network" of african organisations and donors by fostering cooperation and collaboration between them; - To offer african organisations an opportunity to expose their actions and works to the world.
The magazine will be published four times a year. Organisations will be invited to provide their contents that will be published in the magazine which will be distributed to stakehoders, international organisations, United Nations representations, donors and other agencies. Contents will be finalised in hard copy and soft copy; NGOs are requested to contribute with a small amount of US$ 10 every three months to support the cost of printing, publishing and mailing. The online magazine will be available for free. Let your work be known by thousands of decision-makers and people worldwide.
The Magazine will contain the following points which are subject to modification. 1. Message from the Director; 2.Presentation of participating ONGs; 3. Overview of the situation in Africa; 3. Reports from NGOs; 4. Announcements.
Centre for the Defence of Human rights and Democracy
96 Yeo Street, Bellevue
P.O Box 94057 Yeoville 2143 South Africa
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 01:42
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
The recalled Nigerian Ambassador to the United States Of America(USA), rtd. Brigadier-general Oluwole Rotimi may have burnt his fingers because of his perchant for always resurrecting the Biafran issue.
Checks by chidi opara reports revealed that the former military officer played very significant roles in the prosecution of the Nigeria-Biafran civil war, which ended in favour of the Federal side on which the former Ambassador fought. His roles, as expected, endeared him to the Nigerian power epicenter based in northern Nigeria. This closeness, we learnt further, meant that the rtd. Brigadier-general got whatever patronage he wanted. It was also discovered that he was very close to the President's influential elder brother, the late rtd. Major-general Shehu Musa Yar'Adua, as well as other retired influential top military officers from northern Nigeria. "He was to be posted to any of the African Countries for the reason that he is not a career diplomat, infact that was what the Minister recommended, but somehow, the man lobbied and got the Washington posting", a highly placed contact in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed chidi opara reports.
Another highly placed contact in the same Ministry hinted at a classified Memo from the Federal Bureau Of Investigations(FBI) of the USA, in which it was indicated that the erstwhile Ambassador was in the habit of acting in ways that could resurrect the Biafran issue and thereby endanger the fragile peace in the former Biafran enclave,the South east of Nigeria. The Memo, we learnt, concluded by advising that the Nigerian Authorities should act fast on the information because according to the Memo, the USA will not like the Niger Delta situation to occure in any other region in Nigeria. It is not yet independently ascertained how and why rtd. Brigadier-general Rotimi acts to resurrect the Biafran issue, but a rtd. Colonel of Igbo origin, who does not want his name mentioned opined that the reason may be that by constantly resurrecting the issue, those officers who fought on the Federal side, hope to place their so called heroism and patriotism on the front burner for selfish reasons. "By constantly bringing up the matter, they hope to indirectly remind those of us from the South east that they actually own Nigeria", the rtd Colonel opined.
It will be noted that rtd. Brigadier-general Oluwole Rotimi was recently recalled from his Ambassadorial post in Washington DC for what the Nigerian Presidency describbed as insurbodination.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 06:06
Monday, 16 February 2009
Contrary to news media reports that Sultan Saa'd Abubakar 111, the Sultan of Sokoto and the supreme head of moslem faithfuls in Nigeria, who is to arrive in London today on a visit to the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, is on a private visit at the invitation of the Prince, chidi opara reports have reliable information that the visit is official and at the instance of the Arewa Consultative Forum(ACF). ACF is the umbrella socio-political group of the Nothern Nigeria elites.
Although a news release from the Sultanate described the engagement as a "courtesy visit", which will also "help to reinforce the positive relationship between the Sultanate and the English monarchy", a contact very close to both ACF and the Sultanate informed us that, worried by agitations for a far reaching amendment of the Nigerian constitution, especially as it concerns sharing of revenue from petroleum, some ACF leaders had in an informal meeting in Kaduna on December 10th, 2008, came up with the idea of getting the highly influential English monarch to influence the present United Kingdom(UK) Administration to see how it can use its influence as Nigeria's former colonial master to douse these agitations. The English monarch is the ceremonial head of Government in the UK.
"What informed the choice of the Sultan for this assignment is the cordial relationship between the Kindgdom of England and the Sultanate dating back to the early years of British colonial Administration in Nigeria", our contact revealed.
chidi opara reports also gathered that the visit whose logistics are being handled by the Nigerian High Commission in London will climax with the Sultan holding a crucial meeting with the Queen. "The meeting with the Queen is the real reason for the visit, the Prince Charles angle is to make it appear unofficial", our contact further revealed.
Our investigations also revealed that a far reaching amendment of the Nigerian constitution, especially in the area of revenue sharing will place the North in a very awkward situation. There are also unconfirmed information that there are other moves to ensure that whenever the constitutional amendment which appeals to be inevitable comes, it will not be fundamental.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 00:16
Sunday, 15 February 2009
A call have been made to the Lagos State House Of Assembly to recommend the removal of Education and Works portfolios from the Governor and Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Raji Fashola and Mrs Sarah Sosan. The call was made today by the Lagos State chapter of one of the registered political parties in Nigeria, the Democratic Peoples' Alliance(DPA).
In a news release signed by the Party's Director Of Publicity, Mr. Felix Oboagwina and made available to chidi opara reports, the Party commended the State House Of Assembly for intervening to avert an industrial action by the State branch of the Nigerian Union Of Teachers(NUT). The DPA further urged that the seven-day reprieve offered by the suspension of the planned industrial action, should be utilized to open dialogue between the NUT and the State Ministry Of Education.
"We have witnessed a lot of motion without movement in the sector because of its leadership. Education needs a full time focused and committed Administration, something Madam just cannot give because she still has to grapple with her political and social responsibilities as the number two citizen of the state". The party lamented in the news release.
It frowned at a situation where sensitive portfolios like Works and Education are given to the Governor and his Deputy in addition to their already crowded work schedules.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 10:07
Thursday, 12 February 2009
Fresh from a two-week break, President Umaru Yar’Adua has pulled a Public Relations stunt by ordering a “drastic downward review” of all salaries and allowances of all political office holders in the country.
The President described the current salaries and allowances as unjustifiable in the present realities.
We of Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) received the news with little commendation that the reality of the worldwide financial meltdown is at last getting to our President. We are however not taken in by this gimmick as it is only those who don’t live in Nigeria or don’t have full understanding of what goes on here that would be fooled that our public officers would not continue their extravagant and ostentatious living even if they are on zero salaries.
For a long time, public office has become the most lucrative business in Nigeria as a result of it being the easiest route to acquisition of quick wealth through sleazy means. From the councilors to the president, we have seen embarrassing transformations in the lives of our public office holders not on account of any other business other than access to the treasury. Over 60% of our budget goes into maintaining government’s structures.
How many current or ex-public office holders in the country today can trace all they have acquired to their legitimate earnings?
How is it that a man who came out of prison with only N20,000 in 1998 in his account is today one of the richest men in Africa after eight years in the Villa? The media recently celebrated the multi-million Naira wedding between the president’s daughter and the Governor of Bauchi State, what fraction of that extravaganza could have been financed with the salaries of the President from his Governorship days plus that of the Governor-in-law? It was reported last week that a former petroleum Minister paid $2.5m to secure his wife’s release from kidnappers, could he have earned that as salaries throughout his stay in public office?
By the official figures a Senator is supposed to be taking home N2.4m per month, but independent sources have said an average Senator in Nigeria today takes home at least N10m in a month. How come?
At the executive level, thanks to the House of Representatives, we now know that over N400b was raked in as “unspent funds” last year alone which would have gone into the pockets of public office holders.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole despite blackmail from the Head of Service, Mrs. Amma Pepple has yet to retract the information that an average of N700b is annually withheld by elements within the Government from going into Government coffers.
The urgent task is how to block all these loopholes and ensure that all these funds are freed for developmental purposes.
We are equally not fooled by this hoodwink of salary cuts for the reason of high tolerance that the present administration has shown for corruption, and its overt protection of corrupt ex-Governors who have turned the presidential villa to their “Obudu Ranch”.
We cannot reconcile the concern for the “present realities” with the role the Attorney-General of the Federation has played in shielding former Delta State Governor, James Ibori from justice in London, the “bow and go” treatment of Lucky Igbinedion fined N3.5m for monumental corruption and the appointment of some of their colleagues with questions to answer before the EFCC as Ministers by the President. If there is any serious attempt to recover the hundreds of billions many of these ex-public officers have been alleged to have stolen, it would be a big bail-out for the economy.
ARG is therefore of the considered view that if we are able to stop corruption in public life, retrieve the stolen wealth from looters of treasury who are now the friends of the Presidency and plug all the loopholes that have been exposed we probably could even live with the outrageous official salaries of our public office holders.
However, to keep the rotten and corrupt structures as they are and be talking of slashing the salaries and allowances of public office holders is deception of the highest order.
We thank the President for this gesture but we were not impressed as it is an insignificant tokenism. He should come out with bold measures to fight corruption which we can all buy into before we can view the salary cut order as altruistic.
National Publicity Secretary,
Afenifere Renewal Group
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 02:30
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
The renowned Nigerian novelist and playwright, rtd. Captain Elechi Amadi, who was last month kidnapped by gun men at his Aluu country home, near the University Of Portharcourt and was released within twenty-four hours, is set to celebrate his freedom from the hands of the kidnappers in a Special Thanksgiving on Saturday, 21st February, 2009.
The programme of events released by the family of the Internationally acclaimed writer and made available to chidi opara reports, indicates that the celebration will start with a church service at the St. Paul's Anglican Church Aluu by 10.00am. This will be followed by a reception at the literary Icon's compound, with the President-general of Ogbako Ikwerre World Wide, Samson O. Agbaru as chairman and the governor of Rivers State as Special guest of honour. Other personalities expected to be present are; the Deputy governor of Rivers State, Tele Ikuru, the King of Ogbaland, Chukwumela Nnam Obi, Professors Otonti Nduka and Nimi Briggs, amongst other personalities.
Elechi Amadi who stormed the literary scene in 1964 with the novel "The concubine", also have to his credit other literary works like "Isiburu", "The woman of Calabar", etc. He was a former Commissioner in the Rivers State Executive Council and also a former President-general of Ogbako Ikwerre World Wide, a socio-cultural umbrella body of the Ikwerre ethnic nationality. He is presently, the chairman of Rivers State Scholarship Board.
The Association Of Nigerian Authors(ANA), Rivers State chapter, chidi opara reports gathered have also lined up some activities for the celebration. We could not however, obtain details of ANA participation at the time of preparing this report, but a contact within Rivers State ANA informed us that the Authors' body is fully involved in the celebration. "You know that Elechi Amadi is our Patron, so we are always with him". our contact revealed with enthusiasm.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 07:40
Friday, 6 February 2009
Impeccable Presidency contacts in Abuja have informed chidi opara reports that there is confusion in the Nigerian Presidency arising from the favourable court judgement secured by a news blogger, Mr. Emmanuel Emeke Asiwe, a United States Of America based Nigerian who was arrested and detained as he arrived the country late last year by the State Security Service(SSS). Mr. Asiwe publishes Huhuonline.com.
The online news publisher was detained without charges and subsequently released without his travelling documents, precluding a return to his base. He consequently sued the SSS at a Federal High Court in the Federal Capital Territory division. The court in its judgement declared the arrest and detention illegal and ordered the return of the seized documents and a public apology. Another USA based news blogger, Mr. Jonathan Elendu, it will be noted, also sued the SSS for illegal arrest and detention and seizure of his travelling documents.
The confusion, according to contacts we interacted with, is because of worries over the effects of the judgement on planned future clampdown on "stubborn" news media organizations, especially those that publish on the Internet. The option of appeal is being considered, but we learnt that some influential Presidency strategists think that appealing the judgement may showcase the Presidency as being desperate to stiffle the news media. The other option of disobeying the judgement, we learnt also, will rubbish the often self promoted rule of law posture of the Administration.
"We are planning to invite the man to discuss how we can work out a compromse that will be satisfactory to all", a senior Presidency contact revealed to chidi opara reports. It is however, not known at the time of preparing this report, if the news blogger have been formally invited, but a contact very close to Mr. Asiwe's Lawyer informed us that, "it is not likely such meeting will hold". Independent checks however, revealed that some persons close to the Administration who Mr. Asiwe worked with in the past may be used to lobby him, but so far, chidi opara reports have not seen evidence of this.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 00:34
Sunday, 1 February 2009
The cold war between Penticostal churches under the aegis of Penticostal Fellowship Of Nigeria(PFN) and churches founded on indigenious philosophy like the Brotherhood Of The Cross And Stars, also known as Olumba Olumba Obu(OOO) and others, claimed its first victim this morning when the GRA phase111 Bethel of OOO was reduced to rubbles by a demolition squard suspected to have been deployed by the Rivers State Ministry Of Urban Development working in concert with the family of late Melford Okilo, a former governor of the State who donated the Bethel to the church.
The demolition, which took members of the church by surprise, chidi opara reports learnt, started at about 7.00 am and was still going on at the time of posting this report.
We have not been able so far to ascertain the reason for the demolition of the Bethel which we learnt have been on the location for more than ten years, as no official of the Rivers State government or the church was available for comments. A member of the church who gave his name as Gilbert however, told a network member of chidi opara reports who was at the scene that, "I am surprised by this action of the Rivers State government, you can see that I am coming to church, if we were informed, I would have atleast gone to another Bethel for today's worship". An onlooker whom we approached for comments retorted, "I dont know, this demolition is becoming something else, even if they must do it, must they do it on a sunday?".
Checks in Portharcourt revealed that the OOO and other such christain sects, also known as white garment churches have been in cold war with the penticostal churches since the assumption of office by the Rivers State governor, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. chidi opara reports have not been able so far to know the cause of the cold war.
The governor's closeness to the leadership of PFN, we learnt, have now provided an opportunity for the body to use the instruments of government to conclude the cold war in its favour. Today's demolition is believed to be one of the weapons in the PFN armoury.
Unconfirmed information at our disposal has it that the OOO in GRA phase111 Bethel, on 31st december, had a brush with a well known penticostal church in same vicinity where the governor worships sometimes. The leadership of the penticostal church according to contacts had threatened to report the matter to the governor. We have however, not been able so far to ascertain whether the matter was actually reported to the governor or whether today's demolition is as a result of the brush.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 05:08