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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Video: My Taxi Driver! Rotimi Amaechi and Rivers State Development. Kayode Ogundamisi



In January of 2012. I was scheduled to interview the president of Nigerian Trade Union Congress Peter Esele in Port Harcourt Nigeria.

On my way from Port Harcourt Airport I noticed a nicely built primary school, just 20-minute drive from the airport. I simply concluded it was one of the emerging privately owned schools. Most Nigerian public schools are grimly run and facilities left to rot, in most states of the Nigerian Federation, pupils are left to study under the tree and under extremely harsh conditions, most of the schools are derelict.

About 36 minutes into my Port Harcourt Airport- Hotel Presidential journey. I saw another identical primary school; trust the sceptic in me concluding that a private school proprietor must be making a hell of money out of super rich Nigerians.
As we steered towards hotel presidential I saw yet another identical school, I no longer could hold back. I simply asked the airport Taxi Driver if he had an idea about the private individuals behind the well constructed schools, he looked at me strangely, now his time to pay me back for ignoring his attempt at engaging me in a conversation at the beginning of our trip.

With pride he delayed the answer; rather he decided to question me. “Oga where you come from” he asked, unmmmmm I hesitated, did not know if to tell him I live in London or just say I am from Lagos. Now being embarrassed that I ignored his initial entreaties for a chat, I chose the later and also chose to reply in pidgin English so he could see that I am like him, “Na Lagos me I dey live o!” I finally half blurted out, “Hia Lagos people!” he exclaimed, stressing the G in the Lagos. Raising his right hand and in a circular version over his head and snapping his fingers as he said “God forbid I no fit live for that una Lagos.”

Noticing that he was holding to the price of revealing the brain behind the schools I was enquiring about, I decided to black mail him by saying “One day poor people pickin go fit attend the fine fine school wey I see so” He took a glance at me trough the rare mirror and announced proudly.

“Oga those school wey you see so, na Rotimi Amaechi na him build them”

He further stressed that the schools are public school and replicated across Rivers State, in fact he proudly announced he had 2 of his children in the schools, government responsible for school uniforms and books, and that the primary schools I just saw are “child’s play” compared to facilities in Rivers state secondary schools. (I could not independently confirm if it is replicated across Rivers State as I had less than a day to stay in Port Harcourt) well replicated or not I must go inside the schools and see things for my self.

After my interview with Peter Esele I asked him if he had contacts within the Rives State government. I told him about the schools and that I would like to have access into the facilities. I wanted to be sure what I saw outside is replicated in the interior. Esele cheerfully linked me with a contact that facilitated my access not just into five different schools but also a specialist health facility that was being constructed in a poor area in Port Harcourt.

To say I am impressed with what I saw would be an understatement, but we have to put things in perspective, Rivers State is a oil rich State with almost unlimited access to oil revenue, and it should not come as a surprise that the state governor is able to put in place such excellent facility, but in Nigeria. Standards are different, expectations are so low that an attempt by a government to fix an existing facility is celebrated, to Rotimi Amechi’s credit one would argue that we also have oil rich Bayelsa State, the current Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was governor and his only achievement as highlighted by the man who took over from him Timipre Silva is an abandoned 4 start hotel, and Bayelsa is a shadow of development even after Silva was forces out of power by President Jonathan.

I made the video recording in January and it is now March 31ST. Each time I try to edit the video for my blog. I get bogged down with uncertainty, how is it possible releasing the video and the Rivers State government not claiming a PR victory, well I finally decided it is not my duty as a blogger to keep a story simply because it will probably raise the profile of one of the public officers I see as a part of the Nigerian PDP cabal, sure I have reservations about Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi, his demolition of water front areas has been well criticised by local Non Governmental Organisation’s and Amnesty International.

Rotimi Amaechi is also one of the hawks within the ruling Nigerian Peoples Democratic Party who championed the removal of oil subsidy. Observers also accuse him of high handedness and running a government devoid of transparency. I also recall Rotimi Amaechi profligacy with the purchase of a 2nd helicopter claiming the earlier one he bought was too small. But it is difficult to fault him when it comes to initiating developmental projects, it is not certain if the projects spread to the nook and crannies of Rivers State especially the rural areas, it would be misleading to commend a government simply based on projects located in state capitals.

I have learnt from the “Babatunde Fashola is working” charade in Lagos. True Lagos did undergo some positive change in the governors first term in office, but rural Agege, Alimosho Ajegunle and others are yet to feel the impact of the “Fashola is working”. Only the people of Rivers, especially those in rural area can determine if the Port Harcourt development is a charade or evenly spread across the state.
Another issue worth looking at would be the costs of Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s projects, how transparent are the bidding process? That is also one angle the River’s State government should look make available to the public. Publishing names of susses full contractors, funds spent on capital projects and benefits accruing to the under class.

In the Rivers video you will see a specialist hospital project and I will leave my readers and those who may view the video to judge for themselves, if we can have such facility replicated all over Nigeria for the poor in our society, we would have taken a small but mighty step towards progress. Rotimi Amaechi would write his name in gold if the hospital I saw is truly for the masses of Rivers State and accessible to them irrespective of status and class.

Rivers State hospital project is impressive and one would hope his government would replicate same in other parts of Rivers State especially the hinterlands and Riverine areas.

ALL THAT GLITTER IS NOTGOLD

That Rivers state still rank high in failure rates in National Examination proves development goes beyond excellent buildings, something must be missing in service delivery, it is therefore important that the government takes a close look at the quality of education impacted on students, training of teachers, rigorous review of the educational sector can make that possible.

I observed that even though some of the Rivers State student and staff are studying and teaching in what in my opinion is the best educational environment in Nigeria. The quality in terms of how they speak and expressing themselves still fall bellow standard. Note that in the 2012 JAMB result Rivers State came top on the list of states whose candidates where involved in examination malpractices, the government should therefore not sit down and fold its arms thinking that by providing first class facilities in schools the job is done.

The task to make those excellent facilities relevant should start now and I can see a bright future if the government takes criticism on board and strive to do better. I hardly commend public officials as I believe they should not be thanked for doing their job, but it is a step in the right direction by the Rivers State government and my hope is that every state will use Rivers State model as a standard in the educational and health sector, it will also work better if public officials work toward good governance so that when a child leaves a well built school environment, he would return home to a clean neighbourhood and be free from the impact of bad governance.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Dr Kawu's bribe story is a Vicious Lie against Mr GAP Wakama my Custom Officer Brother.


RIGHT OF REPLY:

Corruption and the pain of being a Nigerian physician. Written by Ahidjo Abdulkadiri Kawu is a Vicious Lie against Mr GAP Wakama my Custom Officer Brother. A rejoinder by Asonumaka George Wakama

"Mr Kayode Ogundamisi

there is always 2 sides to a story- i will advise you go the extent
of getting a balanced story before going to town...

The vilified Customs officer happens to be my eldest brother
as a public servant -he may not have that privilege to defend himself
especially in a paramilitary setting like his...
same doesn't apply to me....

i would wish to have my comments equally broadcast as you have done for the dear Doc...
i hope you would be this magnanimous?

Extracts

3. At the completion of my training, Dr Baron S Lonner on my behalf approached Samantha Torres of DePuy Spine Inc US for donation of spine equipment to help operate indigent patients in Nigeria to put to practice all I have learnt with him.

4. On the 15th December 2010, DePuy Spine Inc US approved the donation of some spine items for use by me at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada.
5. I contacted my hospital management who informed me to ship the equipment to Nigeria.
6. My clearing agent Siklaw Global Resource Ltd after completing the Form M and risk assessment paid the custom duty on the 6th march 2011.
7. The equipment was shipped in to Nigeria from the US and arrived in May 2011.
8. On arrival, the O/C (Officer in Charge) Custom Services Mr Wakama GAP inspected the document and said that we must settle him before he release the good since the donated equipment has a value of about N50 million.
For donated equipment- this isn’t my business though
1. The donors always donate to institutions and NGO’s in the case it would have been to the Teaching hospital not to the individual doctor- hence the passive role of the Teaching Hospital Management because the equipment are personal property of the Doctor.
2. Such donations are backed by appropriate paper work
3. Import duty waivers are not automatic you have to apply for them
4. The Donated Equipment never had such waivers nor support documentation
a) No waiver document from ministry of Finance, Presidency or a concessionary waiver from the office of the CG of customs and excise
b) Why pay duty for Donated Items?
“My clearing agent Siklaw Global Resource Ltd after completing the Form M and risk assessment paid the custom duty on the 6th march 2011
Form M is only completed by the authorized dealer bank of the importer but is approved by destination agency-

On arrival, the O/C (Officer in Charge) Custom Services Mr Wakama GAP inspected the document and said that we must settle him before he release the good since the donated equipment has a value of about N50 million.
1. Do you have any evidence of his demand to back your allegations?
2. How much did my brother demand from you as bribe?
3. Did you meet him or was there a go between who made the demand on his behalf?
4. What did you pay as customs duty?
5. The donated equipment have a value of N50million- how was that valuation arrived at
6. What was the value you presented for Assessment- we need that evidence
7. I believe import duties have rates and my understanding is that it was 5% – what did you pay
My Brother said.
The doctor declared the value of the equipment to be a paltry $500 ( five hundred dollars)
Upon his inspection of the documents he found out that they were worth well above $236,074,000 (Two hundred and thirty six thousand and seventy four dollars) as against the declared value of$500.00
Facts of the matter:
1. The Consignee imported some medical equipment – whose documentation showed discrepancies.
2. Upon query of discrepancies his Clearing agent absconded and the equipment where impounded.
3. The Equipment where examined by all relevant agencies who have their reports in place for scrutiny and there is no way my brother would demand bribe thereafter.
4. Granted the consignment where donated- the consignee never presented appropriate documentation to back this claim.
5. There are procedures in clearing goods of such nature –spelt out in the Customs& Excise act (CEMA)
6. I am sure as at the time of the examination we need to scrutinize if such qualify to pass as donations
7. Goods that Import Duty has been duly paid would be difficult to confiscate"

Asonumaka George Wakama

Friday, 23 March 2012

Video: Trayvon Martin: A Cry 4 Justice In America

Witnesses to the shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin describe what they saw the night he was killed. WKMG reports.




Thursday, 22 March 2012

UPDATE ON SEIZED MEDICAL EQUIPMENT BY NIGERIAN CUSTOMS


UPDATE ON SEIZED MEDICAL EQUIPMENT BY NIGERIAN CUSTOMS

RE: Corruption and the pain of being a Nigerian physician. Written by Ahidjo Abdulkadiri Kawu

To all my colleagues, thanks a million. There is a new twist to this saga.

1. The National Assembly has asked that I should come wit the document related to this case on Monday.

2. The ICPC has contacted me that the case would be solved soon.

3. The office of the Comptroller General Custom(CGC) has called me to say that the goods has been released with immediate effect and the officer has been ordered to report to Abuja and would be punish because they have read the message on the internet and are scared the dimension it has taken.

4. The warehouse said the demurrage is about 3million already

5. When we go to the NA, the Custom would claim that they have released the goods
what do I want?

1. That all doctors who have had similar experiences with the custom officials should come out to report their cases.

2. Letter of Apology from the CGC.

3. The goods should be brought to Abuja and delivered at my office.

4. Letter to the donor company clearing my name that I have not diverted the goods for private use.

5. Public apology to Nigerians for their insensitivity and directly responsible for the death of Nigerians.

I pledge to work for the plights of Nigerian with spine related problems and this I would do with all of my strength. Thanks once again.

Ahidjo Abdulkadiri Kawu

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Corruption and the pain of being a Nigerian physician. Written by Ahidjo Abdulkadiri Kawu



Colleagues,

1. I am a spine surgeon employed at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada Abuja as a consultant.
2. I was a fellow of Scoliosis Research Society at the New York Hospital for Joint Diseases, US in August 2010 under the tutelage of Dr Baron S Lonner.
3. At the completion of my training, Dr Baron S Lonner on my behalf approached Samantha Torres of DePuy Spine Inc US for donation of spine equipment to help operate indigent patients in Nigeria to put to practice all I have learnt with him.
4. On the 15th December 2010, DePuy Spine Inc US approved the donation of some spine items for use by me at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada.
5. I contacted my hospital management who informed me to ship the equipment to Nigeria.
6. My clearing agent Siklaw Global Resource Ltd after completing the Form M and risk assessment paid the custom duty on the 6th march 2011.
7. The equipment was shipped in to Nigeria from the US and arrived in May 2011.
8. On arrival, the O/C (Officer in Charge) Custom Services Mr Wakama GAP inspected the document and said that we must settle him before he release the good since the donated equipment has a value of about N50 million.
9. I instructed the clearing agent to refuse to part with any money.
10. In order to frustrate the release of the equipment he refused to examine or release the equipment till it incurred a demurrage of N27, 800.00. His Immediate bosses intervene and directed him to inspect and release the equipment
11. In-order to justify his delay in inspecting the goods, he wrote a report that we undervalued the goods so as to evade payment of the requisite custom duty
12. Due to his greed; the need to justify his action and covered his crime he forgot that medical equipment and donated materials for humanitarian purpose do not attract any duty
13. This issue dragged on till 15th July 2011, when I wrote an official petition to the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Custom Service.
14. There was no response from the Nigeria Custom Service till October 2011 when I officially reported the case to ICPC for further action
15. In November, I was invited by the investigation officer from Nigeria Custom Service to tell my story
16. I was informed by the investigating officer that I have not done anything wrong and that the officer knows that too and that the equipment will be brought to the hospital for me.
17. Since November till date, the equipment is still at the storage which the Nigeria Custom Service has refused to release
18. I have discharged home to die many patients who would have benefited from this equipment.
19. I wanted the government to investigate this claim and appropriate sanction should be applied to this irresponsible officer whose greed has led to death of many indigent patients in Nigeria, yet I have not received any correspondence from them.
This is the story of Nigeria, where thieves have taken up our lives and greed is our religion

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

N850,000 meal a day lies and Frivolous allegations against me. Arunma Oteh D-G SEC


FRIVOLOUS ALLEGATIONS AGAINST THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION (SEC) & MS ARUNMA OTEH, D-G, SEC

On Tuesday, 13th March 2012, the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Markets and other Institutions commenced a public hearing “to identify the manifest causes of the markets’ near collapse with a view to finding lasting solutions.”
In our belief that such a step aligned with the expectations of most Nigerians, many of whom suffered losses as the equity market plummeted from a capitalization of N12.6 trillion at its peak in March 2008 to N3.99 trillion at its lowest in February 2009, we prepared and presented a submission on the first day of the hearing. (Read here).
We outlined the causes of the market downturn in Nigeria, what steps we have since taken to salvage the market from further decline and what further steps we plan to take to fully restore investor confidence.
Since Ms. Oteh assumed office as SEC DG on 7th January, 2010 she has led a reform programme to restore market integrity and revive investors’ confidence.
These reforms included charging over 260 individuals and entities before the Investment and Securities for market abuses that led to the downturn, and seeking orders of disgorgement and restitution of investors.
Based on evidence of financial mismanagement and corporate governance lapses, the SEC in 2010 also replaced the leadership of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
As a result, equity market capitalization now stands at N6.6 trillion.
There are also new products, new listing requirements, greater capacity among operators and regulators and a drastic reduction in market infraction among others.
Aware of the sensitivity of the capital market to information, we have generally exercised restraint despite the use of some media publications by some vested interests to tarnish the reputation of the DG and the SEC
These facts are provided to avoid creating room for persons pursuing personal vendetta to damage the reputation of our Director General, to diminish the authority of the apex regulator to fight market infraction and to undermine the integrity of our market.
The DG SEC recognizes the need to follow due process, probity and fairness, given her vigorous war against white-collar crime and other capital market improprieties.
The SEC therefore welcomes investigations by relevant authorities into its operations, actions and processes, as well as requests for information by members of the public.

At the public hearing, several frivolous and false allegations were made against the SEC and the person of Ms Oteh, Director General of the SEC. This release presents the facts as follows:
a. Did Ms Oteh consume a meal of N850,000 or did the SEC pay a meal bill of N850,000 for the DG SEC?
b. Did SEC DG stay at a hotel prior to getting her rented accommodation
c. Did the SEC procure official accommodation for Ms Oteh?
d. Did the SEC purchase four cars for the DG SEC, Ms Oteh?
e. Did SEC or the DG SEC compromise her regulatory function by engaging Access Bank staff?

Did Ms Oteh consume a meal of N850,000 or did the SEC pay a bill of N850,000 for the DG SEC?
Answer: No, Ms Oteh has never consumed a meal worth N850,000 nor has she ever submitted such a bill to the SEC.
The bill referred to at the public hearing related to Ms Oteh’s hotel expenses during her stay at the Hilton following her assumption of duty.
We have reviewed her hotel expenses during her stay, and the highest charge for food was N83,400 on March 24, 2010.
This bill was in respect of an official dinner hosted by the SEC with a group of international capital market experts who were visiting Nigeria to provide technical assistance to SEC Nigeria.
The bill for the official dinner was charged to her room, and therefore the SEC’s account.
This was a single incident, and was not a personal affair. Hilton’s billing records can corroborate this.

Did SEC DG stay at a hotel prior to getting her rented accommodation?
Answer: Yes, and this was in line with the terms and conditions of her employment verbally communicated to her on January 7, 2010 and confirmed in writing on January 11, 2010.
At the time of Ms Oteh’s assumption of duty as SEC DG, she had no home in Abuja.
The official policy of the SEC is to provide official accommodation for the DG. Pending the provision of such residential facility, the DG is lodged in a hotel.
Ms Oteh however voluntarily left the hotel before an official residence could be provided, unhappy with the lack of privacy at a hotel accommodation and for security reasons.

Did the SEC procure official accommodation for Ms Oteh?
Answer: No, she lives in a rented accommodation procured in her personal capacity, on her account.
In accordance with its policy of providing official residential accommodation for its DG, the SEC began on January 7, 2010 to search for official residence for Ms Oteh.
This policy on official accommodation was communicated to Ms Oteh in writing upon assumption of duty.
The transaction referred to at the public hearing was in February 2011, in respect of rental property in Maitama, Abuja at N25 million per annum, actually lower than the going rate of similar property in the area. The transaction collapsed when the property owner required the SEC to pay as much as four years rent in advance.
The issue of high rents has been a source of concern and been the subject of a bill debated on the floor of the House of Representatives. (Read here)
All the negotiations for an official accommodation failed for reasons relating to high cost, availability, and frequently changing terms.
These transactions never materialized; the SEC NEVER leased any property for Ms Oteh.
The SEC was not successful in finding accommodation for the DG. In line with its policy, the Commission offered rental allowance to Ms Oteh in lieu of official accommodation.

Did the SEC purchase four cars for the DG, Ms Oteh at N42 million
Answer: No. She uses the two pool cars assigned to her, one in Lagos and one in Abuja.
Pool cars are official cars that belong to the Commission and used for the purposes of the Commission
Since the DG’s arrival, only two pool cars have been purchased by the SEC and assigned to the DG
The two pool cars were purchased to replace two old cars that were subject to frequent breakdowns.
The purchase of these cars followed due process and the provisions of the public procurement laws.

Did the SEC or DG SEC compromise her regulatory function by engaging Access Bank staff on secondment?
Answer: No. Laid down rules, procedures and processes have been strictly complied with by the SEC since January 2010 (including in the processing of any transaction involving Access Bank). The seconded Access Bank staff were: a project adviser and a communications assistant, and these two areas are not at the core of the SEC’s regulatory function.
Prior to Ms Oteh’s assumption of duty, two independent studies commissioned by the SEC’s Board indicated that there were human capacity gaps at the Commission.
One of the initiatives she took to quickly address the capacity issues was to reach out to development agencies, sister regulators and the private sector for assistance.
This way, the SEC received technical assistance from a multilateral development bank, a sister regulator and the private sector to revamp its sub-optimal ICT infrastructure, to complement the in-house ICT staff.
Equally, the IFC/ESMID provided a Resident Bond Adviser, for 18 months, to help develop the fixed income market.
In addition, the SEC requested and received pro bono secondment of two employees of Access Bank, one a project adviser (on facilities management), the other on brand communication support (communication assistant).
These Access Bank employees have no connection with the core regulatory functions of the Commission in any manner as would create a conflict of interest.
In fact, Access Bank has disclosed the details of the secondment in its 2010 annual report.
The fact that the SEC has bank accounts and investments with a number of banks has not undermined our capacity to regulate or approve transactions relating to them.
The Access Bank secondment in 2010 happened because recruiting full-time staff at the SEC, as in many government agencies, takes a long time. For instance, the SEC’s recent recruitment of 52 Young Professionals lasted one full year.
Note also that Access Bank is primarily regulated by the CBN.
The transaction involving Access Bank that has required the SEC’s approval was that bank’s recent acquisition of Intercontinental Bank.
Most significant securities transactions involving a bank, such as a merger or acquisition, involve shareholders, the Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance, various departments at the SEC and the Federal High Court.
For a merger, an acquisition or takeover, there are laid down procedures for the SEC’s approval.
The DG’s office receives all applications to the SEC, and in the case of a merger or acquisition, forwards it to the Executive Commissioner Operations (ECOP). The ECOP in turn forwards the application to the Director of the Securities and Investments Services (SIS) Division who then forwards the application to the Head, Mergers & Takeover department, the Head, Legal Division of SIS. The Director of SIS receives the analysis of the transaction from M&T and the legal opinion of the Legal Division, both of SIS. The Director SIS then makes a recommendation to the Executive Commissioner, Operations who in turn reviews and either endorses or disapproves the transaction and submits to the DG for final approval. The DG’s decision is based on the recommendations made and is communicated to the parties through the ECOP and Director SIS.
The Access Bank transaction was recommended for approval by all the departments and officers of the SEC who reviewed it.
The other stakeholders including the shareholders, the CBN, the Ministry of Finance and the Federal High Court also approved and endorsed the transaction.
On a review of the SEC’s records, we find that secondment is not a new practice and the public sector.
Indeed as far back as 1988, the DG SEC as a member of the Technical Committee on Privatization endorsed the involvement and appointment of private sector officials in the privatization process.

Obi Adindu
Securities and Exchange Commission
oadindu@sec.gov.ng

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

On the trail of Boko Haram Written by Andrew Stroehlein.

One of the best perspectives on Boko Haram. Sadly a Foreigner gives a sound analysis on the Nigerian Crisis than most Nigerian writers.

Please take time and read,

On the trail of Boko Haram Written by Andrew Stroehlein

“You could say Boko Haram is everywhere, or you could say it’s nowhere: both would be correct.”

This apparently confusing observation about the Nigerian militant Islamist group from one local expert is actually more helpful than it seems.




Responsible for a string of violent attacks in Nigeria that have killed some one thousand people over the last two years, Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden”, has been bewildering and surprising to security specialists here. Ask some, and you will hear that the organisation is a threat to the very unity of Nigeria. Ask others, and you will hear that it is not an organisation at all.

And, yes, they are both right.

Unspinning the complex and contradictory web of Boko Haram reveals four key threads.

First, taking in the historical perspective, it is a fundamentalist revival in northern Nigeria. Like other such movements, it rejects modern narratives and seeks to apply what it sees as traditional religious answers to all social questions. The term “Boko Haram” does not adequately capture their thoughts on Western education: they are not against Western technology and technical learning, but they lament the perceived deterioration of morals unleashed by Western influence. In other words, it is fine to use a laptop to access the internet as long as you are reading what they see as acceptably wholesome things.

Second, it is a political movement, which is really called Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad), not Boko Haram. This political side, apparently split into at least three factions, is not afraid to use violence to achieve its aims. Those goals are both long-term, like instituting their version of strict sharia law in Nigeria, and also more immediate, like pushing for the release of their members in prison.

Their grievances against the police are particularly deep-seated. Not only are many of their followers locked up, their leader, Mohammad Yusuf, was killed in police custody in 2009, and that, perhaps more than any other single event, drives the group -- sometimes also known as the “Yusufiyah” -- in its violent campaign, with police stations a frequent target.

Fears of connections to outside terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Shabab, should not be overblown. Islamic militancy and extremism in northern Nigeria have always had external connections and linkages, but this is predominantly a Nigerian phenomenon. A few members may have received training abroad, butit probably contains few if any foreign fighters. This sect has a well-developed domestic bomb-making capability now, as the frequency of deadly explosions and the discovery of bomb factories demonstrate. And despite allegations of arms streaming south from post-Qaddafi Libya, adherents are able to source small arms from corrupt security services with relative ease.

Third, “Boko Haram” is an ideology providing inspiration to some Nigerians living in grinding poverty under a set of rulers who concern themselves not with running the country but with simply stealing the country’s oil wealth. It passes no Nigerian’s notice that decades of official plunder have left what should be a thriving -- or at least developing -- nation in a pitiful state of neglect. Illiteracy stands at 40 per cent, and poverty is rising, with 100 million people, or 61 per cent of the population, now living in absolute poverty on less than $1 a day. Despite petroleum’s billions, citizens have to cover all their basic services themselves: health, education and security.

Like other political and armed movements that have sprung up in this country, including the recent fuel subsidy protests that brought the country to a standstill, Boko Haram is just a symptom of the crumbling Nigerian state. Of course, despite their daily trials, the vast majority of Nigerians do not turn to armed militancy, of the Islamist variety or any other, but the fact that a small and very deadly portion do is a clear sign of the country’s basic underlying dysfunction.

Finally, “Boko Haram” is also a cover for criminal activity and political thuggery of all sorts. Anything that turns violent can be blamed on the Islamist movement, whether it has a link to it or not. It is a perfect alibi, one that prevents further questioning. Bank robbery? Boko Haram. Attack on political opponents? Boko Haram.

As such, the name is ceasing to have any meaning at all: Boko Haram is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

The hype in much of the Nigerian media also contributes to the problem, as many media outlets chasing sales seem all too willing to fall for unsubstantiated rumour and outright lies proffered by political trouble-makers -- or by nobody at all. Of course, some international media reporting has also been more scare-mongering than substance, presenting this as a new terrorist threat to the West, when it is fundamentally a Nigerian issue.

The Boko Haram phenomenon, in all its threads, has captured the imagination of the entire nation, filling newspaper pages and air time with fear and misinformation that reaffirms everyone’s core understanding of their deeply dysfunctional state: Nigeria is broken and headed toward the brink.

It is hard to imagine a state that is so much a part of the problem effectively dealing with it. Still, the dozens of security experts, academics and journalists I met with all agreed on the basic elements to address the four interlocking parts of the Boko Haram phenomenon.

The criminal side of everything claiming to be, or claimed to be, Boko Haram needs to be handled as criminal cases. This requires a non-rapacious police force and independent judiciary. Every aspect of the police needs reforming: recruitment, training and management. With the reputation of the police at rock bottom, even practical intelligence gathering within the community is extremely difficult in the absence of trust.

Other internal intelligence agencies have competent hands, apparently doing their job professionally, but they are routinely undermined by undue political interference and rampant politicisation of their data. Added to that, information sharing between security agencies seems to be limited at best, and many suspect that intelligence is often withheld or fabricated to boost agencies’ claims for greater slice of the budgetary pie.

All that would be a huge set of tasks for Nigeria to overcome in its current condition. It may seem unlikely enough, but sadly, it is hardly all that is required.

To counter the recruiting potential of violent movements in Nigeria, not only Boko Haram, the country has got to address rampant corruption and pour the oil wealth into government services rather than officials’ overseas bank accounts. Otherwise, the very word “state” will have no meaning at all, and people will continue to seek other solutions to help organise their society and support their lives, with some using violence to achieve those aims.

The idea that Nigeria, failing its people on so many fronts and with too many looters posing as leaders, could achieve all this seems almost fanciful. The far more likely scenario is continued deterioration on all fronts and a disastrous military-first approach to the insurgency that only drives more young men to grab a gun or build a bomb.

Still, as impossible to achieve as a comprehensive good governance solution may seem, it is also by common consent here the only thing likely to work. If there is any optimism in this generally dismal picture, it is exactly this: a clearly growing consciousness that the current situation is not sustainable and that Nigeria needs some stiff medicine to address not only the symptoms of the disease like Boko Haram, but the disease of state failure itself.

Andrew Stroehlein is Communications Director of the International Crisis Group, www.crisisgroup.org —

Originally published by UK Daily Independent.

Monday, 12 March 2012

HOW TO BECOME A NIGERIAN "ACTIVIST" by Elnathan John


You stare at the Nigerian on CNN; at his gleaming forehead. He is taking his time answering questions about Nigeria in an accent that is improved for export. After his name comes the title, ‘Activist’.



This man has gone places with this title. You are not quite sure what this guy does, but you like the fame. There is NGO money involved for all the noise and ah, he travels. He goes everywhere. Places you dream of, London, Vienna, New York.



Ok. Calm down. I am here for you. You can be just like him. Just listen closely and you will very soon be acclaimed as one of Nigeria’s foremost activists.



Find something to be angry about; nothing special, nothing revolutionary. Something easy you can handle; like fuel prices, corruption or electricity. Finding the right thing to be angry about can be the key to success.



Many people in this business have gotten international interviews for organising town hall meetings with projector slides and statistics. Call it anything. Fuel-up Nigeria. Road-up Naija. De-corrupt Nigeria. Whatever. In fact don’t call it anything. Just be angry about something.



Be angry at the right time and in front of the right camera. Foreigners won’t give you cash or attention if they can’t access some tangible evidence of your work. Have a friend follow you around with a camcorder which will eventually be used to make that CD or DVD which will sell you to the clueless international media for whom Nigeria is a just a country with two regions that hate each other.



An activist doesn’t need to do anything in particular. So, avoid projects that will make you work as hard as Kenya’s Wangari Maathai whose Green Belt movement has planted 10 million trees. That is the real deal and it takes decades to get any recognition that way. So no Wangari moves, God bless her soul.



Let’s say you choose ‘Road-up Naija’. You see, you don’t have to build roads; that’s the business of government. You don’t even have to organise communities to pave their own roads with mud and stones to show the government how it’s done. Not like that other Kenyan, Evans Wandongo, who, instead of holding ‘Light-up Kenya’ town hall meetings in the heart of pretty Nairobi, made nearly 10,000 solar powered lanterns for the good people of rural Kenya. The man thinks he knows too much eh?



For our ‘Road-up Naija’ project, we will do press conferences, write scathing articles, and rent a projector for our town hall meetings in pretty Abuja and posh Lagos. Places like Kano, Kaduna, Ebonyi, and Akwa-Ibom are too dangerous.



Now to be a successful activist, social media is a prerequisite. Twitter and Facebook. Twitter especially. You must spend a lot of time tweeting angry thoughts and statistics. You must say to the government, ‘I am watching’.



Have the right people following you on Twitter, those with many followers who will be awed by your intelligent anger given in 140 character instalments, so awed that they can’t help retweeting. I’d choose someone like popular gossip blogger Linda Ikeji. Just make sure she retweets you. Gbam. Slowly you will gather followers and one day, you won’t even need Linda.



Ok. Let’s go hardcore. Just in case you get bored and want a little action. Not the real deal- no hunger strikes and crap like that; just something sufficiently wild that you can boast of. Let’s get arrested. Don’t panic. It’s not that bad. Just be in the right company so that it gets in the news. Then brag about it for the next many years. Tell people who doubt your activist credentials that you spent so and so period in jail with so and so and that they don’t know the half of it.



Name the cells you have slept in and how awful they smell so that your accusers will bend their heads in shame and curse the day the thought came up in their minds to challenge you. Prison or police-cell time boosts your activist CV. It sells you. Before you know it, you will be spending more time in London and America than you could have ever dreamed of, holding meetings with NGOs trying to help suffering black people.



Be prominent in a protest. You don’t need to start the protest. That is plenty work. All you need is to be in front where the cameras are. The videos and photos of you frothing at the lips raining curses on the government won’t say who started the protest or why. Even though you have houses in your home state, in pretty Abuja or Lagos, and in London, you speak for the masses.



Wear a lousy t-shirt to prove it. The masses will be grateful and will speak about your goodness on radio, on TV and on Twitter.



There are landmines though.



Say your activism gets noticed, and you start feeling like the best thing since nkwobi. You start getting invitations from the Presidency to represent and speak on behalf of groups you know nothing about. Then they stab you by leaking information of the transport fare they provided (which you totally deserve by the way). It could be a mere fifty thousand, an amount you spend on recharge cards and shawarma in a month. But when it hits Twitter, it will look like a huge bribe delivered in Ghana-must-go bags. Then people will hate you, with the same fervour with which they loved you.



Another landmine, closely related to this, is that you begin to have government contacts. You will become friendly with so many people in government that when the time comes for a real event, say a protest you could have exploited, you are already too entangled with these people to join in insulting them. So you offer half witted statements on Twitter or disappear from Twitter altogether. And people WILL notice! Lesson: don’t play god or get greedy.



So, there you have it. I wish you a long and fulfilling career as a Nigerian activist.



Elnathan John

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Video: "If you are not in ACN, you are not Omoluabi" Gov Rauf Aregbesola

Governor of Osun State. Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola gives a no holds barred presentation of his views of Yoruba politics
Disclaimer: This translation from Yoruba to English may not be completely accurate. Kayode Ogundamisi.


'Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, did not give me N10m to kill Gani Adams' Wale Adedayo

Contrary to pleas from a number of senior cadres and some respected Yoruba Leaders I need to make these few clarifications concerning OPC’s Otunba Gani Adams’ unfounded claims that former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, gave his Personal Assistant, Segun Akanni, and me, N10m to kill him:

Otunba Gani Adams

1. It is our ancestors and the gods of Yorubaland who have problems with Adams, not Wale Adedayo. For this reason, Adams should seek for forgiveness and do appropriate restitution concerning the errands he did for former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, in their desperate bid to take me out, IF he wants to regain his sanity. When they failed, they did all sorts of things to accomplish their objective spiritually, forgetting that Wale Adedayo has paid, and continue to pay his dues, where issues concerning Yorubaland are concerned. And these have nothing to do concerning money from ANYBODY
2. Shortly after I left Daani Elebo’s Administration, the weekly National Coordinating Council (NCC) of the OPC under Gani Adams became a place he did everything possible to set the boys against me. He failed, because they knew the truth. At a meeting held in Abeokuta, Gani Adams claimed I was ‘chopping’ certain sums of money meant for cadres of the OPC sent through me by OGD. Of course, it was a lie from the pit of hell.
3. I am of the firm opinion that OGD still want to take me out. They want to set the boys against me. But they have failed. A number of us risked everything in our lives and career for the OPC under Gani Adams when The Carpenter from Arigidi Akoko was a NOBODY. The members know that. It was for that reason ALONE they refused to move against me. Even now, they are the ones pleading I should leave Gani Adams to his dementia in young age, swearing that The Carpenter form Arigidi Akoko has lost his mind because of crumbs from OGD’s table.


4. But I need to be careful here. Some will know. But others may not. There are those who know next to nothing about the OPC who may want to act against me based on this false allegation. They should check first before embarking on another suicide mission. I remain who I am, solid in that knowledge that once our fathers do not agree to a death, nobody can kill.
5. Despite being a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) I have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with Tinubu. And that has been there since 2001 when I decided to pitch my tent of the AD/Afenifere divide with Senator Abraham Adesanya/Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu-led side. Not money, not position, not anything in this world but principles about how the Yoruba did things in the past led me to this conviction unlike Gani Adams and those who run around him today who follow so-called leaders because of money.
6. Gani Adams should search his conscience. Those who are hovering around him today should look back and see where he has erred. Our ancestors and the gods of Yorubaland do not accept bribes. You can do all you want to do. But ultimately, you will pay for whatever infraction you may have committed because to them you MUST be white!
7. Funfun ni owo tiwa. Awa kii fi igba kan bo ikan ninu. A kii se Odale Okete ti o ba Ifa mu’le ti o da Ifa. Eyele ni awa nse. Eyele kii ba Onile je, ki o ba Onile mu, ki o wa di ojo kan ijogbon, ojo kan idaamu, ki o ye’ri …
Wale Adedayo

I was never deported from South Africa . Victor Ndoma-Egba Senate Majority Leader

Thursday, 8 March 2012

British and Italian hostages killed in Nigeria seen in video from August 2011

A British man and an Italian kidnapped in May 2011 in northern Nigeria appeared for the first time since their capture in a video sent to AFP News agency in August of last year

David Cameron named the man as Chris McManus who was killed with fellow hostage Italian Franco Lamolinara.

It is understood a Special Boat Service operation to free them from al-Qaeda aligned kidnappers failed.

The effort to free Mr McManus, from the North West of England, and an Italian hostage was launched by Nigerian forces with the assistance of the UK.

The Prime Minister said the pair appeared to have died at the hands of their captors, either before or during the course of the rescue bid.




Courtesy: UK DAILY TELEGRAPH

Monday, 5 March 2012

MASSOB Reacts Over Failed BIAFRA Burial For Ojukwu: Plans RE-BURIAL

OJUKWU TO GET 2ND BURIAL: Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra MASSOB plans 'Biafran state burial' late Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.




No word from MASSOB on how it is going to remove Ojukwu's body from his resting place, or if it is going to 'UNWRAP' the NIGERIAN FLAG used in Burying the RESTED leader of Biafra. MASSOB was pushed to the background, as Nigeria took over the burial of Ojukwu with a deserving, FULL NIGERIAN MILITARY BURIAL. Ojukwu's coffin was decorated with a glowing GREEN WHITE GREEN Nigerian Flag.



Ojukwu's Nigerian Army Colonel Cap & Nigerian Army Boots. His colleagues in the Nigerian Army gave full military parade, 21 gun salute and a guard of honour. The face-saving RE-BURIAL efforts by MASSOB is seen as a PR-STUNT to calm the nerves of an angry MASSOB membership, who felt neglected by South East Governors during Ojukwu's burial.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Francis Osuwo was Killed by Nigerian Government For Refusing to Implicate Henry Okah: MEND


Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta


The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (M.E.N.D) received without surprise, news of the death of Mr Francis Osuwo.

For refusing to cooperate with two Nigerian government informants, Raphael Damfebo, an employee of Agip and Mr Emmanuel Allison, an employee of Daewoo, Yenagoa, in testifying falsely against Henry Okah, Osuwo was arrested and accused of complicity in the M.E.N.D. bombing of 1 October, 2010.

Francis Osuwo and all other detainees in S.S.S. custody wrongly arrested in connection with our October 2010 attack on eagle square, Abuja, have been held under the most appalling conditions and exposed to toxic fumes in their cells. Francis Osuwo died as a result of such exposure and neglect by his jailors. His body was smuggled out of Kuje prison, Abuja, yesterday, March 3, 2012, to an unknown destination, shortly before midnight.

Jomo Gbomo

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Death in Custody as MEND October 1 Bombing Suspect Is Killed



Apprehension over the safety of Charles Okah and other October 1 bombing suspects, as fellow suspect facing trial over October 1 bombing is killed in Prison. Tiemkenfa Francis Osvwo, who was seen pleading his innocence and accused SSS of trying to frame him up in an earlier video, was murdered in Kuje Prison, Abuja, where he was held with other suspects.

PRESS RELEASE BY Festus Keyamo Lawyer to Charles Okah:




Murder of a suspected October 1, 201o bomber in Kuje Prison. Abuja-Nigeria

We are solicitors representing some of the Accused Persons FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA v. Charles Okah & others alleged of carrying out bombings during the October 1, 2010 Independence Day Celebrations in Abuja.

On, Saturday March 3rd, 2012 one of the suspects in the case by the name, TIEMKENFA FRANCIS OSVWO (ALIAS GENERAL GBOKOS) died in the Kuje Prison.

His death came on the heels of series of complaints by counsel representing him and his co-accused about the maltreatment meted out on the accused persons by the Nigerian Government in custody.

The sickness leading to the death of TIEMKENFA FRANCIS OSVWO (ALIAS GENERAL GBOKOS) started when their cell was fumigated with a strange substance on the 8th of January, 2012, which affected the health of all the four suspects. Suffice it to reiterate that we, their solicitors, raised alarm about that development at the time.

Prior to his death in custody, ‘Gbokos’ had been urinating and defecating on himself in the prison and despite pleas by his solicitors requesting that he be treated properly, no one attended to him.

On the 21st of February, 2012 TIEMKENFA FRANCIS OSVWO (ALIAS GENERAL GBOKOS) collapsed in court which stalled hearing for that day but despite the order of the court on the day in question that TIEMKENFA FRANCIS OSVWO (ALIAS GENERAL GBOKOS) be medically attended to by the Prisons authorities, no medication was administered on him. It was obvious therefore that the authorities wanted him dead.

May we for the upteenth time resound our alarm that other accused persons in the October 1, 2010 bombing still in Kuje Prisons are facing similar conditions that claimed the life of TIEMKENFA FRANCIS OSVWO.

At this juncture, we are constrained to state that we find it extremely inequitable that virtually all the suspects linked to the Boko Haram bombings have been enjoying bail while our clients, the alleged masterminds of the October 1, 2010 bombings, (still presumed innocent) continue to suffer indignities in custody.

We therefore, respectfully, call on all well-meaning Nigerians join in the call for their bail and the Nigerian Government to facilitate the release of the other suspects in custody with a view to attending to their deteriorating health before they die in custody.

Friday, 2 March 2012

We will launch rockets at the superstructure of uncooperative vessels: Niger Delta's MEND


Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta(MEND) confirms that the attack on a Nigerian marine police checkpoint on Thursday March 1, 2012, in Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria was carried out by our fighters. Additionally, we are in contact with the abductors of Captain Pikus Viktor, chief engineer Melnikov Slava and crew member Frederick Villamor taken off a Dutch registered reefer, "MV Breeze Clipper", anchored approximately 3 nautical miles off the coast of Port Harcourt on Tuesday, February 28, 2012.

The kidnappers have offered to hand these sailors who are all in good health over to one of our camps in Rivers State. We are considering this offer as these men were not captured from a vessel related to the Nigerian oil industry. The master and chief engineer are Russian while the remaining crew member is from the Philippines.

M.E.N.D wishes to sound a warning to masters of oil industry vessels considering adopting manoeuvers aimed at preventing our fighters from boarding their vessels.

We will launch rockets at the bridge and other parts of the superstructure of such uncooperative vessels, and ensure such vessels are set alight, when we eventually board.

Jomo Gbomo