Breaking News: Supreme Court dismisses Oni’s appeal against Fayemi


Supreme Court dismisses Oni’s appeal against Fayemi

The Supreme Court has struck out an appeal by former Ekiti State Governor, Segun Oni against the election of Governor Kayode Fayemi.

In a unanimous decision by a 7-man panel delivered in Abuja on Friday morning, the apex court said it lacks jurisdiction.

Justice Sylvester Ngwuta read the lead judgement which others agreed.

More details later …

Odedina Taofeek


Jonathan’s half-time: The hard facts By: Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai Part 3


Jonathan’s half-time: The hard facts By: Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

Part 3

Addressing the epileptic power supply that has plagued Nigeria for decades, Jonathan vowed that Nigerians would no longer talk of generators and that he would end chronic power shortages in his promised one term of office. To achieve uninterrupted power supply for all Nigerians, we need some 50,000MW being generated, up from about 4,000MW Jonathan inherited. That requires billions of dollars in investment, program management skills and at least five years of hard work. So Jonathan knew he was being economic with the truth from day one. It is not surprising that this is one of the many promises that he has failed on. An increasing number of Nigerians depend on generators; studies last year show that the industrial sector in Nigeria spends N1.2 trillion yearly to run diesel generators while households, according to NERC’s estimate, spend N796.4 billion a year on powering generators. Does anyone really expect anything different when the Presidency and PHCN also have generators as major source of power supply, while the government-funded PHCN serves as stand-by?

The petroleum sector is another classic example of the President’s airy promises remaining in thin air. In 2011, Nigeria’s crude oil production was about 2.55m bpd, in 2012 it reduced to about 2.52m bpd and now it fluctuates between 1.89m bpd and 2.1m bpd because of massive crude oil theft to build the war chest for the next elections. Similarly, Jonathan promised that all our existing refineries will be rehabilitated by March 2013, and new one built such that we are able to refine 1m bpd by 2014. It would have been an easy feat to achieve considering that he inherited a plan to build three more refineries in Lagos, Kogi and Bayelsa States from the Yar’Adua administration. Today, not only is none of the existing refineries working at full capacity, but there nothing to show that even a single new one will be nearing completion by 2014! Instead, Nigerians have seen increased fuel prices from N65 in 2007 to N141 in 2012 and N97 in the same year!

Clearly, President Jonathan has not delivered on most of the promises he made despite the fact that federally-collectible revenue including foreign exchange earnings have increased substantially under his watch, just as have domestic and foreign borrowings escalated, with little or nothing to show for them. Where have those funds disappeared to? What is there on ground to justify the domestic debt level, now a staggering N6trn? Are these signs that things would be any better? Is it not inherently dangerous for a grossly incompetent administration to devote so much energy and resources to seeking another term when at half-time, it has only multiplied poverty, corruption, unemployment and hopelessness among the majority of Nigerians?

Next week, we would draw stylized conclusions from Jonathan’s promises and look at the evolving political developments that seem bent on returning him to power in 2015 at all costs, regardless of what Nigerians think or feel, just as it is clear from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum election – that there is no way Jonathan and his surrogated can win any decently free and fair election at any level, anywhere in this federal republic!

The input, contributions and feedbacks from readers have been truly valuable. Please keep them coming via or 08142997922 (SMS only).

Odedina Taofeek

Jonathan’s half-time: The hard facts By: Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai Part 2


Jonathan’s half-time: The hard facts By: Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

Part 2

A lot of noise has been made about rail transport being revived by this administration, but the effort is deceptive and unplanned at best. According to one Nigerian, Abdulrazaq Hamzat, he spent 19 hours on a train ride from Ilorin- Lagos; a bus ride on the same route would be about 4 hours. Another Nigerian, Ben Ezeamalu also spent 33 hours on the Kano- Lagos route, when the same route takes about 12 hours by road. In its current state, a train ride would be nothing but time wastage and until our current dilapidated locomotives are replaced by modern bullet trains, it would be irresponsible to consider it an achievement.

On roads, only about 12.6 kilometers of the 77 kilometers Enugu – Abakaliki road has been completed in two years. This is the same road the President promised would be completed and dualized within one year of his Presidency! Apparently tired of waiting for the federal government, the Ebonyi state government opted to bear the N6.8billion contract sum for the road. The same failure applies to the Lagos- Jebba rail project and the Ijesa Dam and virtually all the major roads in Nigeria. Those that ply the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Benin-Ore Road, the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Road and the like know that the promised transformation of our roadways has gone to nowhere but the pockets of the officials near President Jonathan.

On job creation, the story is the same: in Rivers state, Jonathan promised to build a Petrochemical plant that will create jobs; the people are still waiting. It has been two years since he made that promise, but the realities on ground prove that he has only succeeded in further shrinking Nigeria’s dwindling middle class and worsening inequality. In fact, under his stewardship, unemployment in Nigeria has grown from about 21% in 2010 to an estimated 29.3% in 2012. Perhaps our president should learn from Osun state’s Governor Rauf Aregbesola who has succeeded in reducing unemployment from 14.3% in 2010 when he began presiding over affairs in the state to an estimated 3% in 2012!

There is much talk about the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWIN) initiative. The scheme was launched in 2011 and is open to Nigerian youth entrepreneurs who send in business proposals out of which the very best as judged by a third party international consulting firm would receive business training and financial grants to start up businesses that employ a minimum of 5 people. In March 2012, 1200 young Nigerians received training and grants of between 2 and 10 million naira.

And after the second stage of the competition targeted at women (YouWIN women), 1200 women winners emerged in May 2013 and received similar training and grants. While commendable, it begs the questions: how effective is this strategy to tackle unemployment if in the span of 3 years, it only generated 2400 direct jobs (about 0.4%) for Nigeria’s 67million unemployed population? If you measure this against the 3 million jobs Nigeria needs to create yearly, you begin to appreciate how much unemployment would escalate by the time the Jonathan administration is voted out in 2014!

For many readers who wrote in, the President has done anything but fight poverty. In publications and press releases, the Presidency boasts of a purported 2% decrease in poverty from some 48% to 46% and claim that he has fulfilled his promise to the Plateau people to launch a straight fight against poverty, someone needs to tell the President that a 2% decrease in his 2 years of presidency, if at all correct, is no achievement at all and only points to failure.

President Jonathan promised the people of Enugu and Aba that he would stamp out kidnapping. In Bauchi, he promised to combat terrorism. Again, he has failed on both fronts. A look at recent kidnappings in or around Enugu and Aba says it all: In October 2011, 2 monarchs Igwe Obiora of Obuofia and Igwe Pius of Mgbidi were kidnapped. In September 2012, the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) Vice Chancellor Prof. Cyprain Onyeji was kidnapped, in December of the same year; the mother of Finance Minister Prof. Kamene Okonjo was also abducted. As recent as early this month, two brothers apparently returning from the UK got abducted by kidnappers. Even the daughter and wife of Supreme Court Justice Rhodes-Vivour were not spared recently. Kidnappings are not just on the rise, but now an industry that the media hardly bother to report all but the most sensational cases.

Odedina Taofeek

Jonathan’s half-time: The hard facts By: Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai Part 1


Jonathan’s half-time: The hard facts By: Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

We began the assessment of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration by listing a number of the campaign promises he made in 2011 and added that the achievement of those promises was not easy to measure because in essence, they were just broad generalizations with no targets, deliverables or timelines. Perhaps, that was the point of making such vague promises; so that performance cannot be measured and failures would not be easily evident.

This week, we would rely on field visits and the feedback received from readers who responded via email, phone and SMS addresses provided last week. These responses along with other published facts and opinions would form the basis for assessing the President’s performance. Some readers used the platform provided to engage in abuse, diversion and bigotry that the Jonathanians have perfected as response to any questions demanding their accountability. They forget that we are thick-skinned and do not respond to brainless insults. Many more provided on-the-ground status of projects and programs for which we are grateful.

While the perception amongst majority of respondents is that the Jonathan government is significantly underperforming; most of those who work with him or indirectly benefit from the schema of ethnic division, corruption and impunity his administration has perfected are engulfed in praise singing and forget to remind him of his many promises. Let us look to some of the specific commitments summarized last week.

Let us look at his promises in agriculture; President Jonathan’s government appears to have shifted focus from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture expecting that farm output would increase significantly. Nigeria spends about $11 billion importing rice annually. Apart from three new integrated rice mills built by state governments – Ebony Agro Industries in Ebonyi state, Umza Rice in Kano state, Ashi Rice in Benue state and a large-scale facility for production and milling in Taraba State which combined would process some 390,000 tonnes or a fifth of imports – no noticeable steps have been recorded in reducing this massive foreign exchange outflow under Jonathan’s watch. Against Nigeria’s annual import bill of N23.4trillion, are we close to becoming an exporting country by 2015?

Yet the federal government in September 2012 approved another sugar master plan; some N496bn would be raised from private sector funds to finance the 7 year plan. This immediately leads to the question, what informed the government’s focus on sugar when its annual import bill is less than N100 billion as opposed to the very hefty N635 billion spent on importing wheat annually or the worst case of rice? Or even the N100billion expended annually on fish imports? These imports are unjustifiable in a nation that has surface water bodies, reservoirs and wetlands suitable for rice cultivation covering about 14.9 million hectares or about 15.9% of our land mass. The agricultural sector has witnessed more rhetoric and declaration of early, non-existent victories than any real transformation.

The president fulfilled two promises related to the South-East – the physical upgrade of Enugu Airport and completion of the Onitsha Inland Port. The Onitsha port reportedly has a 3000-container warehouse capacity of 40 tonnes each. But how come, nine months after commissioning, the port is yet to commence operations? Why are international airlines not flying passengers or cargo to Enugu? Does completing a project simply mean erecting a structure? Do unused facilities benefit the economy?

Interestingly, Jonathan’s promise to provide water to Onitsha has remained just that: a promise. The state government initiated a new partnership with a Chinese firm to resuscitate the greater Onitsha Water Scheme with the state providing 30% financing over 18 months. After cancellations in 2009, 2010 and 15 months into the project implementation with little evidence of progress on ground, the Onitsha people have reasons to doubt the sincerity of government.

As to the president’s promise of building an airport in every state, the logical poser is: would airports in every state be the best investment to benefit local economies? Is there sufficient passenger traffic to sustain these airports, and do we have vibrant airlines? In an economy with an officially-accepted poverty rate of about 46%, would light rail and better motor-able roads not be more effective? Would it not make more sense if efforts are directed towards fixing the intercity road or the ‘death traps’ that exist in these states, as opposed to building airports with no sustainable flights, planes or passengers?

Odedina Taofeek

Presidency Jittery Over Obasanjo’s Stance On Lamido


Presidency Jittery Over Obasanjo’s Stance On Lamido

The joy of the Presidency over the success of the  mid-term assessment was cut short with former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement of Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido, one of the speculated presidential aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at that state’s economic submit on Wednesday.

Obasanjo who boycotted the Democracy Day activities reportedly presented Lamido as a preferred option to President Goodluck.

According to an informed Presidency source, while Obasanjo was speaking in Jigawa, he was monitored by two presidential aides who reportedly briefed President Jonathan.

The brief was said to have angered Jonathan who was said to have summoned the chairman, Board of Trustees, PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, the chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, his chief of staff, Mike Ogiadomen and a few others where they deliberated on the arsenal coming from Obasanjo camp.

“The meeting was held on the Red Carpet and President Jonathan could not hide his disappointment in former President Obasanjo. He was said to have asked what does this man want again? But after a while, both Tukur and Anenih calmed him down and Anenih volunteered to intervene in the matter by meeting Obasanjo in Ota before the week runs out,” the source disclosed.

According to him, the meeting fingered Obasanjo as the master puppeteer of the on-going crisis within the party and pointed out that the likes of Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu, Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako, and Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido, and a few others who are making things difficult for the President “are all Obasanjo’s loyalists”.

“Although some hawks asked President Jonathan to ignore Obasanjo that there was nothing he could do and argued that the whole southwest where he comes from have become the haven of the opposition party, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) but many of those in the meeting agreed that Anenih could still go ahead with his planned visit of the former president.”

The meeting also cautioned against fighting Obasanjo on the pages of newspapers because of the backlash agreed that the “governors that are loyal to him should be placed under watch.”  

Odedina Taofeek

The PDP, Governors’ Forum and Democracy


The PDP, Governors’ Forum and Democracy

LAST week’s return of Rivers state governor, Chibuike Amaechi, as chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), despite the desperate effort by the Jonathan presidency to stop him, represented a major kick in the groin for President Jonathan Goodluck.

A significant plank of the maneuver for the presidential battle in 2015 suffered an embarrassing reverse, despite the concerted effort put into the venture to stop Amaechi’s return. But in the bad-tempered response of the pro-Jonathan governors, as represented by Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom state, we caught a whiff of the danger which the hawks of the PDP represent to democracy consolidation in Nigeria.

If 35 governors took part in an election and the votes were split 19 to 16; an election which was recorded and has now become available on many news sites on the internet, it is clear that these individuals who would not manage their response to a vote by 35 individuals, would certainly do anything to subvert a national election which does not go their way.

And that is what we have lived with since 1999: a systematic theft of elections which have enthroned, arguably the most irresponsible ruling elite, on the African continent today.

The PDP and its denizens are desperate to clear every hurdle on the path of Goodluck Jonathan’s candidacy in 2015, and they are managing the effort so incompetently and crudely, largely because their potential candidate still has his work cut out for him in the lead to the electioneering process to come.

On the one hand, the records of governance have been pitiably poor; the president has alienated most of the country and he has been frighteningly divisive, with a propensity to exploit the fault lines of Nigeria. Take the NGF election, for instance.

It was first rumoured that his preferred candidate was Governor Shehu Shema of Katsina; then a few days to the election, the newly anointed candidate became Isa Yuguda of Bauchi and finally, on the day of the election, Jonah Jang of Plateau, who is an emblematic expression of divisiveness, all of a sudden, became Jonathan’s preferred choice to lead the NGF. It came as no surprise when Amaechi defeated Jonah Jang!

Monopoly of power

It was the much-lamented Chief Sunday Awoniyi, who provided the best description of what the PDP evolved into, in its years of monopoly of power in Nigeria. Under the stifling control of Obasanjo, with its unresolved assassinations of political operatives, he said the party had become a basket of scorpions, all stinging themselves to death. In the period since that apt description, things have evolved beyond the wildest imagination.

The PDP is suffering the fatigue and degeneracy associated with a long residence in power. What unite its members are not grand ideas, but naked, irresponsible and unaccountable power in order to facilitate grand larceny against the Nigerian people.

They know that they have a whole lot to lose if they are kicked off their perch. But the vicious rivalry within the conclave has become so destructive, largely because so many of the members are genuinely worried that President Jonathan is just not up to scratch as a candidate. On the other hand, the power of incumbency is so enormous, that there is no reason why it should not be wielded.

Those who do the president’s biddings from Tony Anenih, the party leadership through to the governors, like Akpabio, believe that is where they can find cover for their own ambitions too. Not to talk of protection from the anti-graft agencies!

When people like Atiku Abubakar called on founding fathers of the party to rally, in order to save the PDP from itself, he probably believed that the party can still somehow, re-discover the basis for some dubious idealism. But the PDP is far too lost in its new ways.

It will do only what suits the president and for as long as the route can be cleared for Jonathan’s 2015 ambition, no loss along the way, will be seen as too much. The intention is for Jonathan to run in 2015, and that alone will justify whatever damage might have been inflicted upon the party, the state structure, the democratic process and Nigeria.

When Tony Anenih boasted that when the time comes, the PDP will do what it knows best, maybe a lot of people did not take note of the implications of the statement. Those who were defeated at the NGF elections were acting their part of an elaborate script; they could not be bothered about the niceties of democracy and decency. They displayed a doctored piece of paper, as evidence of ‘endorsement’ of the defeated Jonah Jang.

And in the days since, the diminutive man has added a new line of blasphemy to Nigeria’s anti-democracy lexicon. God, he said, backs a successfully rigged election, such as the brazen effort to enthrone him chairman of the NGF.

To further the charade, President Goodluck Jonathan’s Man Friday in Bayelsa, Henry Seriake Dickson, bought pages in Nigerian newspapers, to congratulate Jonah on his “emergence” (not election!), as Chairman of the NGF. The suspension, early this week of Governor Amaechi, just underscores how vicious is the bite that the Jonathan camp is willing to inflict on perceived opponents of the man’s ambition.

They will not take any prisoners. In this type of politics, the most useful opponent is the one that is completely routed. The incredulity of the action led even the normally pro-PDP THISDAY newspaper to lead its Tuesday, May 28, 20103 edition, in a most pithy manner: “For PDP”, it said of Amaechi’s suspension, “it is punishment before investigation”!

What we have witnessed in the past week is merely a peek into the next two years of political life in Nigeria. Unfortunately for the Nigerian people, in all these naked expressions of power politics, not for once, will the political gladiators give themselves the pause to think about our best interests. The people just do no matter in all the calculations to acquire power and hold it firmly, any which ways.

Kwankwaso and Bola Tinubu: Timely gesture

LAST weekend, the former governor of Lagos state, Bola Tinubu, was given an honorary degree by the Kano State University of Technology in Wudil. The university was established during Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso’s first tenure, between 1999 and 2003.

The occasion brought to Wudil many politicians from the southern part of Nigeria, who probably were visiting that part of Northern Nigeria for the first time! I have always had a very ambiguous view of Bola Tinubu’s politics.

But in recent times, I have come to view more favourably, the work he has done together with other politicians from around the country, in trying to build a new platform for politics in our country. I do have reservations about the APC contraption being cobbled together, but there is no gainsaying the fact that Nigerians want a new platform that can challenge the hegemony of the PDP. In APC, an effort has been made to bring together political tendencies that one would have argued in the past, can never come together.

But the imperative of the day in Nigeria is to think outside of divisive prejudices which have kept us divided for a very long time. In that effort at building new alliances across regions; across political traditions and tendencies, Bola Tinubu has played a very central role.

Although wedded to the regionalism that had strong secessionist proclivities for a long time, I believe that Tinubu’s politics now has a more pan-Nigerian, content today and is more in tune, with the needs of contemporary Nigeria. It is this backdrop, which made Governor Kwankwaso to host Bola Tinubu’s honorary degree.

It was a timely gesture that speaks to the yearnings of Nigerians to defeat the divisive politics that was embedded in the exploitation of the ethno-religious fault lines of Nigeria.

The frustrations of the years since 1999, have not left out the mass of the Nigerian people, North or South, Muslim or Christian; it is this background which is driving people towards a new definition of politics. Politicians like Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Bola Tinubu are now responding to the challenges of the times in Nigeria. But they will do well to stay the course!

Jigawa’s green shoots of growth

THIS morning, the First Jigawa Economic and Investment Summit opens here in Dutse, the state capital. The planning for this elaborate summit has been on, for the better part of the last three months, and it brings together intellectuals, technocrats, investors and politicians from all over Nigeria.

I have been invited to participate as a rapporteur at the three-day gathering, along with other colleagues from around Nigeria.

The government of Sule Lamido has very grand hopes to make this state one of the leading investment destinations in Nigeria; and already, Jigawa is ranked as about the best place to do business in the country. Here they want to do even more! I have been travelling back and forth to Dutse in the past two months, working in a Technical Committee to help establish a state-owned television service and each time that I have been back here, I get the impression that there is admirable commitment to the public good on the part of a government which sees itself as organically connected to the wishes of the people and is also sworn to upholding the best interests of the people of this state.

It is this background which has also informed the amount of work done to arrive at the summit which opens today. The possibilities are enormous for the economic development of this state, with its rich agricultural potentials; the diverse mineral deposits and the increasingly attractive opportunities for commerce with the incentive environment.

The old saying that if we all do a little, we can achieve a lot still applies; all over Nigeria, there is a yearning need for initiatives like this, that concentrate the best minds and capacities for the creation of economic opportunities.

Ours is a very young country, in terms of the demography and it is very vital to open up opportunities for rapid economic development that create jobs and opportunities. In Jigawa, there are significant shoots of growth which give hope and the economic and investment summit opening up today, represents something very creative and useful.

Odedina Taofeek

Reuben Abati is sinking with Jonathan’s regime-CPC


Reuben Abati is sinking with Jonathan’s regime-CPC

Reuben Abati, spokesperson of the president and Rotimi Fashakin, spokesperson of the CPC engage in a war of words.

The ongoing war of words between the presidency and the opposition Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, continued on Wednesday, with the latter expressing ‘pity’ for presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, saying he has decided to ‘sink’ with the Goodluck Jonathan regime.

Mr. Abati had while responding to an earlier statement by the CPC spokesman, Rotimi Fashakin, called the latter a “brainless ignoramus” and a shame to his family.

In response, Mr. Fashakin said it is unfortunate that Mr. Abati had resorted to ‘unmitigated incivility’, saying it is apparent the president’s spokesperson’s career as a journalist is over.

“As a Party, we really sympathize with Abati for the dislocation in his career path and the utter misadventure the media aide appointment has turned out for him. The future, as a practicing Journalist, is bleak and the past cannot be recalled. He is stuck in the conundrum of a sinking regime. Unfortunately, his choice is to sink with it,” Mr. Fashakin said adding that “the intemperate and vile verbiage” of Mr. Abati, “was symptomatic of a pathetically disoriented presidential lackey”.

“The trajectory of Abati’s career as a Presidential aide reveals a beginning scripted in deception and, undoubtedly, can only be sustained by deception. It explains why, in his current circumstances, he cannot be expected to deal in the truth. The Palace appointment, as a fitting reward for a hatchet job in mendacious writings in his regular Newspaper column during and after the April 2011 elections, is to him, something that must be desperately clutched unto.

“We understand; only appalled by the descent to uncouth and gutter language! Reuben Abati just showed, in his last statement, lack of training for his job function and an inbred atavistic incongruence,” the statement added.

Abati explained nothing

Mr. Fashakin also said Mr. Abati failed in his attempt to explain the circumstances leading to the president’s inability to address the summit.

“President Good-luck Jonathan, as head of the Nigerian delegation, left the country for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to attend the AU summit. In diplomatic arena, that was the Primary objective of the delegation. This presupposes that any other business is secondary,” he said.

He also said, Mr. Abati himself, had confirmed that the president had indicated interest to address the summit but chose instead to attend to other matters which he considered more important than the primary objective of being in Addis-Ababa.
Mr. Fashakin also said Mr. Abati’s explanation that Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister had adequately represented the president is appalling.

“We shudder to think that all the Nigerian Tax payers’ funds used in paying the humongous estacodes for Reuben Abati and his colleagues on the President’s entourage was for mere submission of a statement after the summit”.

No President in Ethiopia was represented by a Minister.

Mr. Fashakin also said no president that travelled to Ethiopia for the event mandated their ministers to represent them, as claimed by Mr. Abati.

“ We know Dr Samura Matthew Wilson Kamara, Sierra Leone’s foreign minister, represented his President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, who was unavoidably absent at the summit. Abati failed to tell us the other foreign ministers, aside Nigeria’s, that represented Presidents who were physically present for the AU summit! If we may ask: is submission of a statement by a foreign minister after a conference coterminous with the President, using the stage, to articulate the Nation’s position on the regional discourse?” he asked.

Odedina Taofeek