​Niger Delta: Exercise Crocodile is not about guns, boats alone – Army

The Nigerian Army said yesterday that the military training exercise involving hundreds of soldiers, military gunboats and other weaponry, under “Operation Crocodile Smile” is not solely about launching attacks on militants.

The army said other aspects include providing medical outreach programmes, assisting infrastructure rehabilitation as well as other essential services.

A statement signed by Col Sani Usman, Acting Director, Army Public Relations said, “The military training exercise embarked upon by the Nigerian Army to train its Special Forces, formations and units located in the South-South geo-political zone of the country, has commenced in earnest.

“Recall that we have shown pictures of the massing up of the troops on Tursday.

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  4. Source: Vanguard

​Naira crashes to N415/USD1, ban on banks lingers

Amidst lingering dispute between Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and eight banks banned from participating in the inter-bank foreign exchange market, the local currency, Naira, has suffered further bashing, depreciating to N415/ USD1 yesterday in the parallel market, bringing total weekly loss to N20 per dollar.

But the inter-bank market registered moderate stability as mid-day trading rate hovered at N315/ USD1 after depreciating to N316.

The developments were coming against the inability of eight out of the nine banks banned from the interbank market failed to resolve the issues with the apex bank and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, over the weekend.

The affected banks are First Bank of Nigeria Plc, FCMB Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Limited, Keystone Bank Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc and Sterling Bank Plc.

Chief executives of the banks have been meeting with the apex bank since Wednesday up till yesterday but no solution was reached as Vanguard learnt that CBN was insisting the banks should return the NNPC foreign exchange deposits to the Treasury Single Account, TSA, before they could be allowed to return to the market.

Consequently, pressures continued to build against the Naira exchange rate with the local currency depreciating against all major international curren-cies at the weekend.

The local currency had reversed its four-day straight gains on Tuesday after the ban was announced, but banks’ forex dealers, however, told Vanguard that the renewed pressure on the Naira had more to do with scarcity than the ban placed on some banks.

They also said that many dealers and buyers were speculating that the apex bank was showing some desperation in controlling access to foreign exchange and weakening its intervention with supply of foreign exchange to the market, a situation which drove negative sentiments in the market.

Parallel market dealers corroborated the scarcity concern when they told Vanguard that though they do not have demand pressure, the supply was also not coming in as the banks have not been fulfilling the directives of the CBN to sell to Bureau de Changes, BDCs.

They explained that the initial moderation in rates last week when CBN gave the directive has given way to further apprehension when the banks refused to comply fully.

But amidst these CBN was able to settle the USD152.48 million of Naira futures contracts it sold in two months ago which matured on Thursday at an exchange rate of N279/ USD1.

The apex bank also executed a fresh 12-month contract at N241/ USD1 which is scheduled to mature on Aug. 16, 2017.

The apex bank suspended the banks from forex transactions on Tuesday for failing to remit money they received from NNPC into the TSA.

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  4. Source: Vanguard

​Buhari should seek help outside APC – Okwesilieze Nwodo

Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo was born on July 28 1950 in Nsukka, Enugu State. He is a Medical Doctor, a Surgeon, an Administrator, a politician. The Medicine and Surgery graduate of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was elected governor of Enugu State in 1992 under the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention, NRC during the third Republic.

Nwodo, as a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was twice elected the National Secretary of the party and in 2010, he became the National Chairman of the party following the forced resignation of former National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor. Nwodo was later forced to resign as National Chairman because his policies for the party e- registration of members and his fight against imposition of candidates did not go well with the Governors.

In this exclusive interview with Vanguard, Nwodo speaks on issues in the country, Restructuring, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration, the 2014 National Conference, the PDP, among others.

Excerpts:

By HENRY UMORU, ASSISTANT POLITICAL EDITOR

You have been quiet for some time, what is happening to you sir?

Well I have been enjoying my retirement, but I won’t call it sabbatical holiday. I am enjoying my golf, I am enjoying my family. It had been a long time I have had the opportunity to spend time with my family.

When you look at the situation in the country now, will you say it is the kind of country that our fore fathers envisaged?

Well, I want to be very blunt; I don’t believe that anybody ever contemplated, wished, hoped or imagined that the situation in our country would be as bad as it is today. When we had an economy that depended basically on agriculture, our founding fathers were able to do a lot when it came to development of this country. With the cocoa in the West they were able to build the first television in Africa.

With the palm produce in the East we were able to build the first indigenous Nigerian university and up North also the first generation universities were also established. Water wasn’t in bad supply, electricity wasn’t in bad supply and education was strong.

Most importantly we haven’t planned our economy to absorb the increasing population. We are producing many graduates, who are not getting jobs. We haven’t prepared for their employment, we haven’t trained them to be self employed so that with the education they have acquired, the confidence they have acquired, the entrepreneurship that they have acquired in school, they can become employers of labour. We haven’t done that.

Look at the problem of electricity; can you believe how many megawatts South Africa is producing and how many megawatts Nigeria is producing? And our population is almost 10 times the population of South Africa.

We never planned to meet the needs of this population as far as the power industry is concerned and the same thing goes for every other aspect of our life; we didn’t plan for the health care of this population, we didn’t plan for the educational care of this population, a lot of things were taken for granted and today we are suffering all of this. The infrastructure of our country is very weak and that is why the economy is very difficult to turn around.

This is 17 years of unbroken democracy in which we have our ups and downs. In your candid view, do you think the present government has the capacity to lead us out of this present economic crisis that we are facing?

To be honest with you we have all prayed for democracy in our country and as you have said we are enjoying 17 years of unbroken democracy. We have put a lot of blame on military intervention in our governance and that is also true but then with the advent of democracy and the lessons that politicians are supposed to have learnt about the truncation of democracy by the military, one would have expected that we would organise ourselves better.

When we formed PDP, one of the cardinal things that we said which we believed in was that no Nigerian should go to bed hungry. This country had the capacity to make sure that this didn’t happen because our country is a rich country, but what has happened is that the people who managed our affairs in these 17 years haven’t been as frugal as those who managed it in the first republic and even in the second republic.

It is easy to look at the personal wealth of people like Aminu Kano, Amadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, M.I. Okpara, look at what they left behind in terms of material possession and look at what state governors, senators and people who are just in the periphery of power in our country now have. You look at the amount of wealth that is going through their fingers and you look at what they are doing for the people in terms of services.

Now coming specifically to the present government, this government came in with a lot of high hopes, Nigerians had a lot of high hopes and I think their biggest problem also is that they were responsible also for raising the hopes of Nigerians;  so the people felt that all the problems of Nigerians were going to be solved in day one. But at the time they came the price of crude oil came crashing down.

Secondly, the bombing of gas and oil pipelines have made it difficult for them to meet their targets. So the price of oil is down and the quantity you are selling is down and we are a mono economy nation after so many years of saying that we are going to diversify our economy.

You can imagine the problem the government has in its hands. What is disturbing Nigerians is not that the government has this problem because other governments have come at a worst period; when Obasanjo came, crude oil was selling at 30 and he still managed the economy very well, he was able to get a debt relief from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank which gave us a window and he was able to grow the economy.

Therefore it is a question of do you have a strategy that will work? Now in the past one year, we have been watching the government and we have been co-operating with every strategy that they have brought but things are getting harder and harder for our people.

Secondly, when the price of petrol has gone so high, almost double of what they met now even the farmer in the rural area who has to transport his farm products to the city is paying more for transport. We are therefore paying more for the things we are cultivating in our land. The biggest problem is that people are not having more income; the minimum wage hasn’t changed, the sources of income have not changed and then there is high inflation. This is why out there, people are hungry, people are angry, people are saying when is government going to solve this problem and they are impatient .

So I think that what the government needs more than anything else at this time is a very strong economic team. We need an economist in the Ministry of Finance, we need an economist in the Central Bank, we need economist in Budget and Planning and we need economic advisers. There have to be a strong economic team and Nigeria has this man power, it is there, it is a question of government appreciating the need to bring them together to help government to solve the economic situation and I think the government should do that.

Even if it means going outside the party?

It doesn’t matter! In a presidential system, the president can source manpower from anywhere, it doesn’t have to be party men. This particular problem of the economy isn’t calling on party members, it is calling for the best brains in Nigeria, the hunger doesn’t believe in party.

Secondly, government has done well in targeting agriculture, but there is also another which I think government needs to do more and that is skills acquisition.

I believe that all over Nigeria, you should have skill acquisition centres because lots of our young people have gone to university, they have gone to tertiary institutions, but they have no skills and they need to add skills to whatever they have qualified for and also educate them along the line of entrepreneurship so that they can begin as resource people and fend for themselves. People who make tyre and POP come from West African countries and those who paint houses come from West African countries.

We need to do a lot of skill acquisition and entrepreneurship training and we need to build industrial centres where these kids could have access to take off from day one. In agriculture, government is making a lot of emphasis on increased production and I think that government should also spend time to think about what happens to these farm produce when they are all over the place, so we have to begin to think about converting the farm produce and adding value to them and this is where agric industrialization comes in.

So we need to build small scale industries around. If you go to Malaysia everything that comes out of the palm tree is money, but here we have our palm tree and we don’t do anything with what comes out of the palm trees. The same thing if you have mechanized agriculture and agro based industries by the side you will find out that nothing that you produce in the farm will go to waste.

The debate over restructuring has resurfaced and gaining momentum, is it an inevitable proposition and how do you think this government should approach it against the backdrop that the  South wants it, while the North appears to be opposed to it?

Well let me make a categorical statement; Nigeria will find it extremely difficult like we have found in the past 100 years to move ahead politically without restructuring. The structure we are operating today isn’t known anywhere in the world. There is no country in the world that is a federation and still operates a unitary system.

It is only in a military regime that it works where the Commander in Chief gives orders to its military governors and down the line, but in a federating unit, there is a lot of autonomy and because this autonomy has been largely removed, they are all depending on the centre to feed them. But in a true federalism in the 1st and 2nd republics, the federating units were moving; the West was moving, the East was moving and the central government wasn’t starved of funds to do what it was supposed to do.

Now the discovery of oil in Nigeria is what has brought about this unitary system. It has also removed all incentives for the federating units to produce their own economy. Everybody waits at the end of the month for the money from crude oil to be shared around and they spend it. We don’t use it to grow money because we know at the end of next month, more money will come.

Now if the federating units are too small and not viable, we should be courageous  enough to merge them to viable units. If you look at the raw materials across Nigeria and if you look at the human resources across Nigeria, I don’t know why you are afraid to have true federalism because I don’t see any of the six geo political zones of Nigeria that can’t survive even as a country today if they look inward. Maybe we have to wait until the crude oil completely finishes then it would become attractive for people to say ‘ok let us restructure’ for true federalism. It is something that we will have to do to survive as a country.

This may have explained why former president Goodluck Jonathan set up the 2014 National Conference and one of the issues raised was true federalism and there are arguments now that the report of the confab should be jettisoned. Do you agree with that?

You know Nigerians each time they have had a constitutional conference, they agree perfectly well on what they want to do, but somewhere between submitting the report and implementation, people tamper with these things and that is why we are where we are. You know when General Abacha did his conference, we had a beautiful document even the 2020 document, these things were master pieces, but when they gave us the constitution they tampered with it.

The same thing also happened in Babangida’s time and now the people of Nigeria spoke again only a year plus ago and some people believe that they know more than all the people gathered together to form this document. They think they have superior intellect than all the brains that Nigerians have produced that sat down there for a couple of weeks and produced those documents.

Any president who implements this would be remembered in history as a man who freed Nigeria because we are holding ourselves in bondage as long as you don’t implement those cardinal decisions that you arrived at during the conference we are just holding ourselves down in chains. So someone should have the courage to free us and implement that document.

Sir, if agitation in the Niger Delta is sustained, the Biafra struggle is sustained and the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East is not stopped, how will Nigeria survive?

The government is just making governance more and more difficult for themselves. There is a limit to which you can continue to use military power and violence to control this uprising. First and foremost, I don’t rule out military intervention when there are flash points of violence in the country, the security agencies must move in, but they haven’t solved the problem. Until government begins to listen and dialogue, then you get to the root cause of the problem and then you solve it.

When Babangida was here, he brought these Niger Delta boys to Abuja, spoke with them and made peace with them and he was selling his crude oil and his economy was good. When Yar’Adua  was there, he made the most dramatic reconciliation between the federal government and the militants and Jonathan enjoyed it because we had uninterrupted produce from the Niger Delta. Now I don’t know why this government believes that the use of force would have been the first.

The same thing with the Independent People of Biafra, sending troops after these young men will not stop anything. Even I as an Igbo leader, I can’t tell them to stop and they will stop. This was how we ignored Boko Haram at the beginning because we didn’t take it seriously or we thought that it was something that would soon be over, but look at it today, look at how many people have been killed, how many people have been displaced, what about property? What about the economy in the North East?

These things should teach us that our country is a country where we have too many nationalities and we have come to a point where everyone is aware and nobody can take what belongs to every other person. So I believe that the government should reache out and tries to carry everybody along, tries to dialogue and most importantly think about restructuring so that people can go and fend for themselves, federal government can no longer fend for this kind of population with a mono economy, it isn’t possible.

Every part of Nigeria should be able to produce what can sustain them, they have the capacity to do so and they have the natural resources to do so.

President Buhari appears unwilling to give the Igbo nation a significant presence in his government. As an Igbo leader what do you think the people of the South a east should do to survive this?

The President himself is not a politician, his entire training has been in the military so he doesn’t see things the way we politicians see them. If I lose an election in any part of my constituency my strategy is to make sure that next time around I would win in that constituency and that is by reaching out to the people and convincing them that they were wrong for not voting me and that I can take care of them more than anybody else.

That doesn’t mean that I will ignore those that voted for me but I need to get those people who didn’t vote for me more in order to convince them to vote for me the next time, so I think that is the basic problem we have in this scenario. The President hasn’t been able to let go that he didn’t harvest votes from South East and South South and that being the case he has more or less marginalised them from his government. I believe that government needs to change its strategy completely and its approach to issues affecting South East and South South.

The President has to understand that if you win an election, you become the President of everybody and not just those that voted you.

To what extent can the Igbo nation endure Nigeria without presidency?

That is again another hot question because when you push someone to the wall and there is no other way to go the next thing is to turn back and fight. The Igbos have survived a civil war in this country, they have survived all sorts of marginalization. The safety vamp in all of this is that the Igbos are completely entrepreneurial people. Their entrepreneurship has been their sustaining will and nothing else.

In the South East, there are no roads, you can’t move from the capital of one South east state to another. In the South East there is no federal presence, we don’t have industries, we have to create all the infrastructure we need to survive. I went a few days ago to Nnewi and I visited a factory, Tom Tom, they have been producing Noodles and Pasta for the past 10 years on generator for 24 hours every day. Now if they had power in that factory, they will take over the whole West Africa and the African market, so we don’t have government presence in terms of road, power, water, and meeting all the enabling environment.

The Igbos especially the younger ones believe that if they had a country of their own called Biafra that they would be able to provide all these for the people and the country would be viable, but many of us who have gone through the Biafra war have questioned them because the independence of Biafra is really attractive if it is negotiated, but if you have to sit back and watch another cycle of problems, mass killing of our people, mass displacement of our people from their homes, I don’t think that they would like to go through such a trauma a second time within their history.

But that doesn’t mean the federal government should take our situation for granted, they need to meet the needs of the South East and we as elders will also be able to control the agitation of our people if the federal government is doing what they are supposed to do.

Sir are you still in PDP?

Yes!

As a member and founding father of PDP, you have seen it all in PDP as a National Secretary and as former National Chairman. What was the dream of the founding fathers in PDP?

I will tell you three things that were driving us when we formed PDP; first, we believed that the resources of Nigeria weren’t properly managed and like I said before if you manage the resources of this country properly no Nigerian should remain hungry. Secondly, we believe that the military had not done too well in the management of the affairs of Nigeria and we wanted a lasting democracy so we went out not to form a progressive party or a conservative  party.

We had the progressives like Rimi and others, we had the conservatives  like Ekwueme and others; we brought everybody together believing that the problems of Nigeria were not problems of the progressiveness or conservativeness, it was a problem of solving Nigeria’s problems and everybody should bring their idea to solve this problem.

The third thing is that our country hasn’t been futuristic. We don’t plan for the future. Nigerians wait till the last minute and they want miracle to happen. So we believe that we should have short term, medium term and long term plans for our country and follow it religiously to make sure the mistakes of the past are not repeated. Now it hasn’t worked out that way.

I think the first major mistake that happened to PDP is that those who planned PDP were not the people who brought it into power when the election was won. President Obasanjo in spite of all the good things he has done was also the biggest problem that PDP had because his military background made it very difficult for him to understand democracy. He was constantly at loggerheads with the parliament. Money was being  dumped on the table of the speaker to bribe, it was said that this money was being used to bribe the parliament to accept the demands of the executive.

In the party, the presidency was influencing the change of the party leadership in such a frequency that it was difficult to build the party. The institutions that are critical for democracy were being muscled by a strong president from a military background and therefore as we speak today, the democratic institutions in the country are still very weak whether it is in the parliament or the party structure or the judiciary.

All the institutions that strengthen the democracy of the country 16 years down the line are still weak and that wasn’t what we wanted and because Obasanjo came at the beginning all of this he had influenced the dramatic personnel that have succeeded in all of this democratic institutions more or less for hind sight if it wasn’t for selfish issues, it was for wrong judgement.

So today, in the position of authority in Nigeria two things are important; money and godfather rather than the quality of the person as decided through an internal democracy by the people.

So the way the democracy has been managed has weakened the democratic institutions and it affected PDP tremendously. We were able to patch it up for the 16 years we were in power using the robust power of the presidency and majority of the state governors and majority of the parliament and as soon as we lost the presidency, all our parts came tumbling down. Some of us saw it coming before the last election, but unfortunately all the alarms we raised were ignored until it happened and now to have the presidency and put the party together has become very difficult.

You said some of you saw it coming?

Yes!

Did you see the choice of former President Jonathan and the printing of one nomination form as part of it and was your idea of having e-registration which was frustrated part of it?

All the things I wanted to do for PDP as chairman if they had allowed me to do them the party would not have lost the election. He who pays the piper dictates the tune and I wanted PDP to be financially independent. Using e-registration, the party would have a revenue of not less than 11 billion every year which was sufficient to fund the party structure from the national down to the ward level. Now people who wanted to control or dictate the tune never wanted the party to be financially independent so that they will continue to dictate what happens in the party. That was one problem.

Secondly these same people wanted to have complete monopoly of who is a party member and they disenfranchised those they didn’t want to be party members. So in order to have 100 percent control of the party structure, they didn’t want e-registration because in e-registration you can stay in any part of the world and fill your e-membership registration online and you become a member of the party and your name would immediately enter your ward register and no one can stop you.

So these two things that would have done with e-registration would have brought membership to the party, it would have guaranteed financial independence to the party. The third thing, I tried to do for the party was to bring back internal democracy. When we went to Jos we had about seven presidential aspirants and by the end of the primaries when they saw transparency, they conceded victory to General Obasanjo and all of them went with him round the country to campaign because they accepted defeat seeing that everything was transparent.

When you impose a candidate you have to buy votes for him because the people who refused him at the primaries will not come out of their homes to vote and campaign for him. So internal democracy was critical. By the time I left PDP they had 11 billion in fixed account and 800 million in current account. These were all monies we made from sales of nomination form and expression of interest. Now this could be sustained for membership good and the whole thing was planned in a situation that the party wasn’t spending 10 kobo.

The participating banks and our consultants agreed on percentage that they will take from how much we are making every month. We give them what is their percentage then we have a percentage for the 6 zonal offices in the country. We have a percentage for the 36 states and the FCT. We had a percentage for the structures in the Senatorial zones.

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  4. Source: Vanguard

​Crude oil money buried in septic tanks under PDP – APC Woman leader

ALL Progressives Congress, APC, Woman Leader in Delta State, Dr. (Mrs.) Janet Oyubu, has urged Nigerians to allow President Muhammadu Buhari to work, saying the country did not make any reasonable achievement in the past 17 years because government officials secreted excess money realized from crude oil sales in septic tanks and private pockets.

Dr Oyubu, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard in an interview, said: “These are the things the present government is trying to correct and you do not solve problems by creating more problems.”

“The way President Buhari is steering the nation, tackling official corruption and all that, I see hope. Nigeria has a bright future under his watch, the America we see today is over 200 years old. You cannot compare someone running 55 to somebody running 500 years and above.

“I repeat the rate at which we are going shows that we are going to do better than the nations presently ahead of us. The developed countries also had their shortcomings before they got to where they are today. We are growing at a fast rate and looking for alternative means for dividends overnight. Remember we are the eyes of the black nation and we cannot do less,” she stated.

PDP responsible for renewed militancy in N-Delta

Dr. Oyubu opined that one of the immediate problems of PDP misrule, which the Presidency was doing everything to manage, was renewed militancy in Niger Delta region. Her words: “In actual fact, it is the problem of PDP we have been suffering from, these were part of the things that aggravated militants; it is a fact that the people from the region are not benefitting anything. We have feelings as mothers and the PDP- led government in the state should listen to voice of reason.”

She explained: “The most recognized militant group now is the Avengers and more are springing up from the three major ethnic groups, Ijaw, Itsekiri and Urhobo in Delta state. The last two ethnic groups are saying if it is mainly dialogue, those of us, who are not talking will be left behind, maintaining that they all must be carried along.”

“However, do not forget that the militants are those agitating for the benefit of the region. Some are politically motivated and they want to benefit from what they are agitating, but some criminals also joined in perpetrating the act of criminality.

“Nevertheless, whether criminally minded or politically minded, they are agitating for the good of the region. We are all suffering shortage of income from the federal government, especially with the non-payment of salary, absence of infrastructure development like what is going on now.

Appeal to militants

“I therefore say that APC led government is trying to reclaim their campaign of palliatives to cushion the already created problems by the past government of the PDP,” she added.

Her words: “For instance, in Delta State, most of the palliative structures came from the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbanjo’s office and they passed them through the state government, you can now see the PDP people jumping about President Buhari’s programme that it is their own making, whereas, they have nothing to offer from their PDP- led government. They are now hijacking the palliatives from APC in Delta state and claiming that they are cushioning the sufferings created by the APC- led government.”

“The militants should know that we are losing because you cannot destroy your own property. We should all come to a round table, down our tools so that Nigeria and the region can gain as well as cushioning the hardship we are going through.

“This is my appeal to the militants and I give kudos to the military because they have tried and they are still trying and willing to try the more. I do know that the military knows what is going on in the region and they do not want to add more hardship to what is going on in the region because the citizens are their relations, they are their people, and hence the military is treading softly,” she stated.

Dogara/Jibrin controversy

Commenting on the budget padding controversy involving the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, she said: “Really, it is not an offence in the context of accusation because budget has to go through several processes taking into account the laws of our land”

“However, the multi-million question now is how did an angel become a demon overnight? Hon. Abdulmumini Jibrin was the Head of Appropriation Committee at the House. All these accusations and counter accusations bring to light a malicious act in governance. President Muhammadu Buhari has ears to the ground, especially when he suspects a foul play. The same Hon Jibrin came on air to say there was nothing like that,” she added.

The political activist asserted: “Overnight, he is the same person, who cried loudest that there was padding all because of questions of who got what. Perhaps, Hon Dogara tried to assert his position as the leader of the House and questioning some acts that are not too transparent. Because of this, somebody is taking an offence and pointing finger.”

“That is why I asked that question; how Hon. Dogara, regarded an angel, yesterday, had suddenly become a demon today. It is the act of democratization and it means that APC is doing well; we are meticulous and the glory goes to God. They blew it open that the budget Mr. President signed is not the one under criticism; therefore, we believe in the president, we believe in our programme in APC and we believe that all is well.

Alleged Mrs. Buhari partisanship in Edo

Dr Oyubu said it was preposterous to say that the wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, was meddling in the Edo state governorship election, adding: “I do not also see why she cannot throw her weight behind the man Oshiomhole has groomed to take over from him. There is nothing wrong if we display and support our own.”

Other govs should emulate Oshiomhole

“His supporters have not even been touched, he does not believe in emotion and sentiment; he believes in who can do the work better. Take the Edo State we are talking about for instance, I tell you that Governor Adams Oshiomhole has every reason to hold his head high because all the work he did are known to the common man, even the blind can feel it because the blind man can also feel bumps if he is going on the road.

“But, there are no longer bumps throughout Benin City and these and many others show that Governor Oshiomhole has worked. PDP was there before, unfortunately, we could not record anything they did. Edo state General hospital by Ring Road is like five- star hotel. Take for instance Uselu axis; where flood used to carry people, you do not even know now that you are driving through such a dangerous road, which used to be death trap in the past.

In fact, Oshiomhole has worked throughout the length and breadth of Edo State. It is not a question of President identifying with him, but he (Oshiomhole) has executed several projects all over the state. He increased workers’ salary; he does also not owe salary. Truly, he has indeed tried and we should commend his effort. He has also done well in the palliative programme, which all state governors should emulate,” she said.

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  4. Source: Vanguard

​Zamfara 8: Defend yourselves, CAN urges Christians

ABUJA— Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, yesterday, said eight people killed in the state were not Christians.

This came as National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, yesterday, responded to a recent statement credited to the Sultan of Sokoto, who allayed fears of a plot to Islamise the nation, arguing that Nigeria was already an Islamic state and no longer a multi-religious nation as His Eminence was quoted in the said report.

Also, northern CAN has asked Christians to defend themselves whenever they came under attack, following the killing of eight Christians in Talata-Mafara in Zamfara State and a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Luka Ubangari, by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Unguwan Anjo in Kaduna State.

They were killed over false alarm— Yari

The governor, who spoke to newsmen after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, described the act as unnecessary and ‘act of the devil.’

Yari said: “From the intelligence I gathered from security agencies, there was a fight between two students of Abdu Gusau Polytechnic. One of them started shouting that the other person abused Prophet Muhammad.

“Other students came and beat the other boy, who is a Yoruba from Kogi State. Some people say he was a Muslim, other say he was a Christian. They beat the student until he collapsed and thought he was dead.

“Then security personnel requested help from one shop owner, who then took the boy to the hospital in his car. When the students heard that the boy was still alive and in the hospital, they went to the hospital. But he was rescued by the army.

“The students went back to the polytechnic and burnt down the shop of the good Samaritan. They then went back to town, and threw tyre in the man’s house and burnt it down.

“That was how everybody in the house was killed and everybody killed in the house were Muslims and not like the rumours going around in the social media that Christians are being killed in Zamfara.

“In fact, the mob wanted to go and burn churches and attack non-Muslims, but security forces stopped them. It’s my home town and that’s where I live.”

The Sultan of Sokoto had told Nigerians to forget the fears or suspicion of a grand plan to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state, pointing out that it was impossible for a multi-religious country as Nigeria to be converted into a monolithic religious state.

But the NCEF, in a statement signed by the National Chairman, Elder Solomon Asemota (SAN), yesterday, said: “It is correctly assumed that in the interest of peace and justice, the constitution in Section 10 prohibits the state from religious participation by way of recognizing one and two religions. Multi-religious country does not fit the interpretation of Section 10, rather it is its opposite. The Sultan’s interpretation, we submit, is intended to justify Islam and Christianity as state religions until Islam dominates to become de facto and de jure religion of Nigeria.

“Apart from Prof. Ben Nwabueze, most lawyers, Christians and Muslims, shy away from the proper meaning of Section 10 of our constitution. It is our hope that this issue of whether Nigeria is a secular or multi-religious state will be subjected to proper conversation in the future.

“By taking Nigeria into the OIC in 1986, Ibrahim Babangida officially turned Nigeria into an Islamic state. Simply by the act of the application for OIC membership, Babangida tampered with the secularity of the Nigerian State. That unilateral decision should be reviewed because it violates Section 10 of the Constitution.”

Why police arrested man who named his dog Buhari

Reacting to the arrest of a man who named his dog Buhari in Ogun State, Asemota said: “Police said the arrest was made to save the suspect’s life because the complainant and his group have threatened to kill him if he comes back and this may happen.

“If Nigeria is being run as a secular state, the Constitution in Sections 10, 37, and 38 guarantees right of private and family life, right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion that should protect Joe Chinakwe and the complainant would have been arrested but because Nigeria is an Islamic state, Joe Chinakwe has to face trial.

“One wonders if the dog had been named Gowon or Jonathan, would there have been any furore about the matter?”

Defend yourselves, CAN urges Christians

Meanwhile, northern CAN has asked Christians to defend themselves whenever they came under attack, following the killing of eight Christians in Talata-Mafara in Zamfara State and pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Luka Ubangari, by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Unguwan Anjo in Kaduna State.

Secretary to Northern CAN, Rev. Danladi Yerima, confirmed yesterday that his group had scheduled an emergency meeting for tomorrow to look at the state of the nation, especially as it affects the Church in Nigeria, with a view to finding solutions to them.

Appealing to the youth wing of the association, who are unhappy with the current developments across the nation, Rev. Yerima told the Federal Government and stakeholders in the Nigerian project to expedite action to arrest the growing trend of militancy in the North to avoid more devastating consequences.

Yerima said: “Nobody has monopoly of violence. We have been holding our youths from retaliating some of these unwarranted killing of Christians in different parts of the country. We are not happy and I think this should be the last of such incidents because let them not take for granted the peaceful manner that Christians had approached some of these developments.”

“I cannot allow myself to be killed or allow some other person to be killed because some hooligans see themselves to be more Nigerians than others.

“What happened in Zamfara is most unfortunate. I do not know when our brothers in the North would realize that life is created by God and it is sacrosanct to the effect that nobody is allowed to take the life of another person unless in accordance with a judicial pronouncement on account of an offence committed.”

As S-South CAN kick against plans to re-introduce Sharia

In another development, South South CAN has kicked against plans to re-introduce Sharia law into the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, urging the National Assembly to ensure that Nigeria remained a secular state instead of funding one religion with public funds to the detriment of other religions.

Arising from a meeting of senior clergymen in the South-South geopolitical zone, regional chairman of CAN, Archbishop Goddowell Avwomakpa, who spoke on behalf of the clergymen and other stakeholders in the Nigerian project, tasked the National Assembly members to put the nation first before their personal or group interests, stressing that Nigeria needed no Sharia law in a secular society.

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  4. Source: Vanguard

​High-level talks on-going in Delta to resolve Clark, MEND, Avengers’ rift


WARRI—THERE are ongoing high-level talks to resolve the differences between the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND and Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, on the one hand, and MEND and the pan-Niger Delta group recently set up in Warri, Delta State, to speak with one voice for the region.

It was learned, yesterday, that there is a consensus among the warring militant groups and leaders to uphold the decision of the monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the Niger Delta coastal states, that nobody should undermine the decisions taken at the meeting convened by Chief Edwin Clark and others.

The Presidency, international community and traditional rulers from the North and other parts of the country had called Chief Clark to commend him for the initiative, which has practically reduced tension in the region.

MEND, whose intervention other stakeholders misconstrued, also got the wrong impression about the move of the Niger Delta monarchs and leaders, which it wrongly assumed to be a delegation led by Chief Clark.

Vanguard gathered that the Aaron Team 2 Dialogue, Peace and Development Initiative, the interface group of MEND, would meet shortly with Chief Clark to look at the temperamental areas and bury the hatchet.

Secretary of MEND’s Aaron Team 2, Mr Timikpa Okponipere, told Vanguard that the group headed by Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, would meet with Clark soon to iron out issues.

Contacted, Chief Clark confirmed that he was contacted by secretary of Aaron Team 2 and that they would want to visit him in Warri to sort out grey areas.

A Niger Delta leader, who spoke to Vanguard, yesterday, described the move by Aaron Team 2, as a wise initiative, as people were beginning to see the people of the region as unserious and divided.

Spokesperson of the Ultimate Warriors of Niger Delta, Sibiri Taiowoh, in a statement, cautioned the Federal Government “to be wary of those using the defunct MEND, which it accused of “seeking political relevance and wanting to free incarcerated Henry and Charles Okah who are dishing out commands from their prison cells.”

The group said that MEND’s proposal would cause more crises in the Niger Delta if government failed to heed its persistent warning.

Also, National Secretary, Urhobo Youth Leaders Association and former youth president general of Udu Kingdom, Delta State, Vincent Oyibode, called on the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, NDGJM, a militant group that rejected appeals by Niger Delta monarchs and leaders in the region to sheathe its sword.

The group, which also kicked against the establishment of a pan-Niger Delta group to speak for the region, actually bombed a pipeline in the state a day before the stakeholders met in Warri.

Oyibode condemned the attack on an oil pipeline in Udu by the Greenland Justice Mandate and appealed to the members to embrace the initiative of the leaders of the region, though he said that the federal and state governments, oil companies, NDDC, DESOPADEC and other development agencies have marginalized the area, Udu youths should give peace a chance.

Also, a pan Niger Delta civil society group has called on President Buhari to embrace the Niger Delta monarchs/leaders’ initiative for peace to reign in the region. The coalition includes the Niger Delta Security Watch Organisation of Nigeria, led Dickson Bekederemo, Ijaw Human Rights Monitors, headed by Mr Fred Brisibe, Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, led by Austin Ozobo and Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-inflammatory Corruption Crusade, shepherded by Alaowei Cleric.

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  4. Source: Vanguard

​We’ve video, pictures of soldiers engaged in oil bunkering —Avengers


WARRI —Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, yesterday, alleged that soldiers were the merchants of oil bunkering in the Niger Delta and that they have video and pictorial evidence of their involvement in crude oil theft and records, including how much they collect and make per day from illegal oil bunkering.
The group, in a statement denying security reports linking its forces to the killing of troops in Nembe, Bayelsa State, said it was surprised at the desperation of the military to always connect NDA to crimes in Southern Nigeria.

“It is a shame that Operations Delta Safe is still employing the old habit of deliberately dining and wining with fake intelligence from political thugs, political paymasters and enemies of the Niger Delta to perpetuate their continuous funding and relevance by leveraging on the hunger in the land,” spokesperson of the militant group, self-styled Brig Gen Mudoch Agbinibo, said.

The NDA had ceased hostilities, though unannounced, weekend, in deference to the plea by Niger Delta monarchs, leaders and stakeholders to all militant groups in the region to sheathe their swords.

It said, “One question for the Commander of Operation Delta Safe, is, who are the people perpetuating the ongoing illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta at the moment? We have both video and still photographs of the serious involvement of your troops in the pervasive crude oil thefts. We have records of how much profit you collect and make per day from these atrocities in the Niger Delta.

“To set the records straight, we cannot come after your dane guns and ammunition. Since the start of ‘Operation Red Economy,’ our forces have not fired one shot until we have achieved this great success of crippling crude oil productions in the Niger Delta to about 800,000 barrels per day.

“Those gang members paraded as killers of troops of ODS are well known followers of Mr. Africa Ukparasai and Mr Timipre Silva, who were armed by the All Progressives Congress, APC, during the governorship election  in Bayelsa State.

“If your forces and formations come under attack by notorious elements of your own political collaborators and calculations, you should accept it as a friendly fire (from your own dubious creations getting loosed and fighting back to protect their territories and bellies) and enjoy it while it last. Excuse the NDA from your “Pig and Mud squabbles.

“Yesterday was Arepo in Ogun  State, today is Nembe in Bayelsa State, which is the next state you want to involve the NDA in this your bread and butter security conspiracies and collaborations ?”

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  4. Source: Vanguard