Monday, 31 March 2008

Edo Politricks

The Edo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Calus Enoma, has been declared missing by the state government.

There are, however, controversy over the circumstances of his disappearance as some are linking it to the crisis within the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) .

The Special Assistant to the state Governor on Communication and Public Relations, Tony Ikpasaja, says the government was shocked by the sudden disappearance of Enoma.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Peter Ogboi, has however, dismissed the report saying the government had not reported the incident to the police.

Ikpasaja who accused the Action Congress (AC) of being behind the disappearance of the commissioner, gave the party 48 hours to produce Enoma or face the consequence.

AC’s gubernatorial candidate who the tribunal declared winner of the April 14, 2007 governorship election, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said the PDP and the Edo State Government should look inward as the allegation is a mere ploy to distract the people of the state and Nigerians into believing that the party and its candidate are violent and lawless.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Food VAT

I was at a popular eatry in Lagos a few days back for lunch and was suprised to see a new notice informing customers of their decision to charge Value Added Tax (VAT).

The management stated that the decision to charge VAT on food served customers was 'forced down their throat' by government authorities.

I merely laughed over it but on a second thought it dawned on me that for once we are waking up to stark realities of development.

Over the years we have run away from paying taxes; maybe cos our leaders have never justified payments made.

But going tough on food tax is what i can't come to terms with at the moment. Are there no other areas we can start with before food?

But if this food tax will end our misery borne out of bad road, lack of food, power,water and shelter then we have a deal.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Breeding Cultism

Ogun State Command of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), has arrested 15 secondary school students for cultism.

Reports say the students, who were arrested last week, were members of rival cult groups.

The student cultists were apprehended when the Corps received a distress call that rival cult groups that were fighting over ``name calling''.

Fracas reportedly broke out when members of a cult group challenged the other group for bearing ''Iroko'' as its appellation.

This is a disturbing news which should be properly investigated and those involved made to face the full wrath of the law.

Government has to quickly step in before cult activities spreads among secondary school students.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Ministerial Casualty

Health Minister Mrs Adenike Grange yesterday resigned her appointment.

Also forced to resign is Minister of State Mr Gabriel Adukwu.

They quit over the N300 million budget leftover which an investigation said was tampered with.

But Grange insisted on her innocence, saying she did no wrong.

Reports say top government officials in the ministry shared the over N300 million unspent budget.

A civil servant in the ministry, who was unhappy with his share of the money, allegedly reported the matter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The commission, in its final report which was submitted to the Presidency last week, indicted some top officials of the ministry as the brains behind the award of fake contracts worth over N106 million and the sharing of the balance.

The EFCC report indicted the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Prof. Simon Ogamdi, for allegedly collecting N5 million as his share of the unspent budget, thereby flouting President Umaru Yar’Adua’s directive that the money should be returned to the treasury.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

NITEL for Sale

Another round of bidding will soon begin for the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) following the Federal Government's decision to resell the public utility.

The sale of NITEL to the behemoth Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) was revoked last month, generating ripples in the telecom industry. Transcorp had acquired 51 per cent of NITEL in 2006 for $500million.

A statement issued in Abuja said the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) has directed the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to resell NITEL.

The new core investor would acquire 51 per cent equity in NITEL.

Twenty-two per cent of the equity would be contributed by the government and Transcorp, 29 per cent.

This would leave the government with 27 per cent and Transcorp, 22 per cent.

I hope they get it right this time.

BPE should open its eyes wide and verify all claims by prospective investors to avoid mistakes of the past when NITEL was sold to a non-exisiting foreign firm.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Dangerous Airspace

Air traffic controllers in Nigeria have said that if not for their ingenuity, no plane would be flying in the country’s airspace.

The controllers, who spoke strictly on the condition of anonymity said that the CNS-ATM (Communication, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management) in Nigeria is ineffective.

The main function of the CNS-ATM, they said, is to enable the controllers maintain communication with any aircraft that is flying in the country’s airspace.

According to them, there are breaks in communication in many flight routes in the country.

The air management officials, however, recommended that the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) should take over the management of airstrips in the country.

NAMA officials, they said, are in a better position to effectively interpret changes and differences in the weather.

The controllers revealed that there are some airstrips in the country where pilots land on their own judgment aided by instruments on board the aircraft because they are not covered by the nation’s airspace communication system.

They also explained that it is not the duty of NAMA, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) or Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to find any missing aircraft; it is the duty of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Commenting on the missing Beechcraft 1900D owned by Wings Aviation, which disappeared on a 51-minute flight from Lagos to Obudu Cattle Ranch on March 15, they said that if the country had effective and full radar coverage, the position of the aircraft would have been picked before it disappeared.

They said the radar would have picked the aircraft the last time it was in the air before it disappeared.

This, they said, would have helped to look for it because recorded images from the radar would have revealed the point it disappeared, a piece of information that would have been pivotal in the search.

According to the controllers, NAMA is yet to complete the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON), which is aimed at picking any aircraft in the nation’s sky.

Substantial aspects of the project have been completed in Lagos and Abuja, but the primary radar, which is a significant component of the complete radar, is yet to be installed and experts say that when that component is installed any aircraft entering the nation’s airspace would be picked immediately and its location revealed.

Meanwhile, NEMA has said that the agency would solicit the assistance of advanced nations like the United States to ensure that the Beechcraft 1900D aircraft was found.

Reports say NEMA technical officers manning the Nigerian Mission Control Centre claim that the missing aircraft had not shown up in their system ever since it was declared missing.

After reading this report in the local press am compelled to risk my life on our pothole-riddled roads than patronise operators of these 'flying coffins'.

What are the estacode-conscious 'ogas' doing in the office when they ought to fix these problems promptly?

Friday, 21 March 2008

GSM Wahala

Two GSM operators, MTN and Celtel, have lost their bid to evade payment of compensation to subscribers for poor services.

A Lagos Federal High Court directed them to comply forthwith, with the order of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCJ) on the payment of the compensation.

The court held that MTN’s and Celtel’s application challenging the NCC directive lacked merit.

MTN and Celtel had gone to the court, requesting for an interlocutory injunction to restrain the NCC from implementing its directive that they should pay N175 per subscriber for January, for not meeting key performance indicators on quality of service.

The NCC had on January 9, won the case instituted against it by the operators which are protesting the notices on payment of compensation to subscribers issued to them on September 19 and 20, last year.

I don't think this is a bad step towards restoring sanity in the system.

Service delivery should now be paramount for the GSM firms rather focusing on declaring huge benefits.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Breaking News!!!

Ex-NLC president, Adams Oshiomole has been declared the governor of Edo State by the election petition tribunal sitting in benin-city.

Congrats comrade after a hard fight.

Oshiomole's Day of Glory?

The Edo State Governorship and Legislative Election Tribunal delivers judgment today in the petition by former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and governorship candidate of the Action Congress party (AC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole contesting the election of Governor Oserheimen Osunbor.

Oshiomhole is challenging the INEC election result, which declared Senator Oserheimen of the Peoples Democratic Party as winner and duly elected Governor.

However, in an apparent bid to avoid any threat to civil peace and security in the state, as a likely consequence of the verdict that would be returned by the election tribunal sitting in Benin-City, the police has deployed at least 20 armoured personnel carriers in strategic locations, particularly in areas considered flashpoints in the state capital.

Reports say at least 3, 000 policemen are being mobilized to maintain peace and order in the state, before and after the pronouncement of the tribunal’s judgment today.

This judgement is long overdue.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Executive Gaffe

The nation suffered a monumental embarrassment yesterday when the Minister of Air Transport, Felix Hassan Hyat and the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, said earlier reports that wreckage of the missing 19-seater Beechcraft 1900D airplane had been found was false.

The minister had said, on Sunday evening, that the wreckage of the plane had been found in Iyalla Local Government Area of Cross River State.

Speaking to the press in Abuja on Monday, through the Chief Press Secretary of the Ministry of Air Transportation, Rhoda Iliya, the minister said that the information he earlier received from the NCAA and released to the press was false.

While regretting the misinformation, he advised that it be discarded as the search mission was still on.

The new position of the minister corroborates the statement made on Sunday by the Managing Director of Wings Aviation Limited, the owners of the plane, Capt. Nogie Meggison, that there was no expert identification of the crash site, as the AIB was yet to confirm the exact location.

He had said: “The AIB has communicated with the airline (Wings Aviation Limited) that the wreckage of the aircraft is speculated to be in Iyalla or Abakaliki area of Ebonyi State.

“The search and rescue operations, in respect of our missing aircraft, has been intensified with additional hands deployed around parts of Cross River State.”

Reports say some overzealous officials from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and some villagers, who were reportedly on the search train, located pieces of metals and hastily concluded that the rubble were scraps of the ill-fated airplane.

A call was put across to the minister and the NCAA boss, who just arrived from London. Later on, the news filtered out to the media that the wreckage had been found, which eventually turned out to be a hoax.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Another Ugly Chapter

The missing Beechcraft 1900D light aircraft has been found almost 48 hours after its disappearance.

The wreckage of the plane was located in Dabu Village in Yalla Local Council of Cross River State where it crashed.

All the three crew members were confirmed dead in the mishap.

The report of the discovery of the plane ended the confusion, anxiety and fear that pervaded the aviation sector since Saturday when the aviation authorities reported the disappearance of the plane belonging to Wings Aviation Ltd.

The aircraft, which departed Lagos at 07.35 a.m. for Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross River State, made contact with the Enugu Control Tower at about 7. 54 a.m. and lost touch with it at 08.04 a.m.

Prior to the discovery of the scene of the crash, Nigeria had reached out to neighbouring Cameroun to help it trace the chartered aircraft.

The Minister of State for Air Transport, Hassan Felix Hyat, told journalists yesterday that the aircraft was found in the hilly village very close to Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort.

Earlier yesterday, Hyat disclosed that the government had contacted the Camerounian authorities to assist it trace the plane in its shore.

It's reaaly a shame that we don't have equipment to trace a missing aircraft and it had to take several hours to find the crash site.

Who knows if the system was effective the lives of the victims could have been saved with timely medical attention.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Power Contracts Probe

The House of Represen-tatives may issue a warrant of arrest on the former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, if she fails to honour the invitation to testify before the committee probing the release of funds to the power sector between 1999 and 2007.

Okonjo-Iweala, who is now a Managing Director of World Bank, had been invited by the House Committee on Power and Steel, but she is yet to honour the invitation.

The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, said if she fails to turn up again, the House would move against her.

This is indeed a great step towards sanitising the power sector which has been a conduit for corrupt practices over the years.

I am keenly watching procedings at the public hearing sessions and am not disappointed at the revealations so far made.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Black is Beautiful

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has resigned, after being linked to a prostitution ring.
He told a news conference he could not allow "private failings" to disrupt public work. He is to hand over power on Monday.

Mr Spitzer again apologised for not living up to the standards he demanded of others - but he gave no details.

Mr Spitzer had allegedly been identified arranging to meet a prostitute in a Washington hotel.

Mr Spitzer made his name as an investigator of organised crime, financial crime and prostitution, and his fall from political grace is being seen as one of the biggest New York has known.

Mr Spitzer said he would hand over power on 17 March to his deputy, Lieutenant-Governor David Paterson, who will become New York's first black governor, as well as its first blind governor.

Mr Paterson issued a statement saying it was time to get back to work.


I have watched the US Democratic Party primaries with keen interest given the power display/performance of Barack Obama and this has further spurred me on.
Barack Obama's performance is enough pointer that colour/race discrimination will soon be a thing of the past.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Kidnappings PLC

A six-year old girl was abducted yesterday in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State.

Prite Anthony, a pupil of IBCF School, Woji, Port Harcourt, was on her way to school when the abductors struck.

Eyewitnesses said some unknown men riding in a Mercedez Benz 190 car stopped the car in which the girl was being taken to school. The incident happened at D Line. They dragged her out, put her in their car and sped off.

This is really a sad commentary on the agitations of people of the South-South region.

Increasing cases of kidnap of toddlers and relatives of wealthy people in the zone is not the way foward to realise their objectives.

This trend has to stop and leaders of the region have to support security agencies to stop criminals from hijacking their struggle for a better south-south region.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Repentant Ali

The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ahmadu Ali has warned politicians against acts and pronouncements that could lead to electoral violence, warning that politicians who sponsor violence might just be playing into the hands of the military who often seize such opportunities to sack civilian governments in Nigeria.

The warning is coming as political parties in the country traded blames as to the party that is responsible for much of the violence witnessed during elections and blamed the police for inaction especially in electoral violence and poll rigging involving the ruling party.

Ali said that the consequences of allowing political squabbles to degenerate to widespread violence as in the first and second republics were too grave to contemplate and urged leaders of the various political parties to put their houses in order to avoid sending the wrong signals to the barracks.

This is one of the most sensible things i have heard from Ahmadu Ali. It definitely means he has called himself to order too because he's been the chief architect of making violence-related pronouncements capable of truncating the nation's democracy.

It definitely means he is taking his diplomatic lessons seriously.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Power Embarassment

President Umaru Yar’Adua and the five governors of the North-West zone were yesterday thrown into darkness at the zonal congress of the Peopless Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna, following a series of power outage.
The outage occurred three times, lasting for nine minutes.
President Yar'Adua felt embarassed by the power outages and vowed that it would make him confront the power monster head-on.
Mr President, frequent power outages has become a way of life for us and does not constitute any form of embarassment.
If these embarassments can continue at the top i am confident things will improve.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Days of Darkness

Nigerians may have to endure the erratic power supply situation, which took a worse turn recently when cables, which transmit about 330kv electricity from the national grid to Lagos and some other parts of the South West, were vandalised by unknown persons.

The affected areas are considered the nation's core commercial hub.

The vandalism took place at Okobaba and Tempest Farm at Ota, Ogun State, taking its toll on electricity consumers around the country, as the backlash has affected the national distribution system.

I understand the repair work on the vandalised cables will take about two months.

What will happen to us if thrown into total blackout for two months?
How will artisans who dont have generators cope? How about those who dont have generators at home?
The weather is already very hot forcing many to rely on their generators before they can have a sound sleep.
My generator is already giving me problems after falling victim of the 'bad' fuel allegedly imported into the country by a major oil company.
The PHCN has to announce the duration of the 'dark days' so that some of us can purchase our candles in cartons.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Airport Rehabilitation

I travelled to the eastern part of Nigeria at the weekend and i was really concerned at the extent of decay of our airports.
I used the Sam Mbakwe airport Owerri on my way to Umuahia and came back through Port Harcourt international airport.
Am shocked that the werri airport is still being patronised by passengers given the state of facilities there.
There is absolutely nothing to show that it is an airport aside the tarmac and abandoned aircraft belonging to the defunct Oriental Airlines. No waiting area for passengers travelling and the security is so porous. The airline booking spots looked more like roadside kiosks.
It's same story in Port Harcourt. The airport is still as it was months before it was shut down for renovation work. The departure hall which was overcrowded was so stuffy and the only difference i noticed was the tarmac which had been expanded.
Must we shout before things are done right? How about all the huge allocations to the aviation sector and the income generated by various agencies operating at the airports?