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President Goodluck Jonathan official visit to Anambra State Thursday 30/8/2012. President Goodluck Jonmathan, Gov Peter Obi Opf Anambra State, Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu And Minister Of Works, Chief Mike Onolememen at the unveiling Of Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu statue in Onitsha. Photos–State House
PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN (L), WITH THE FORMER COMMONWEALTH SECRETARY-GENERAL, AND CHAIRMAN, ORIENT PETROLEUM RESOURCES PLC, CHIEF EMEKA ANYAOKU, AT THE INAUGURATION OF ORIENT PETROLEUM RESOURCES PLC PRODUCTION SITE AT AGULERI-OTU IN ANAMBRA ON THURSDAY (30/8/12).
PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN (3RD R) INAUGURATING ONITSHA INLAND WATERWAYS PORT IN ONITSHA ON THURSDAY (30/8/12).
PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN (L) INAUGURATING SAB-MILLER BREWERY AT ATANI, NEAR ONITSHA, ANAMBRA, ON THURSDAY (30/8/12). WITH HIM ARE GOV. PETER OBI OF ANAMBRA (M) AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, SAB-MILLER AFRICA, MR MARK BOWMAN. NAN
OBI of Onitsha
Ghana President John Dramani Mahama will be officially nominated as the ruling National Democratic Congress’ presidential candidate Thursday in preparation for the December elections, according to a leading member of the NDC.
The NDC’s national delegate congress opens Thursday at the Baba Yara Stadium, in the Ashanti region’s capital, Kumasi.
Baba Jamal, who is also deputy information minister, said the NDC will also officially launch its campaign for the presidential, parliamentary and local elections.
“We are going to have the national delegate congress, which is the highest decision making body where we will vote to endorse the president or do otherwise,” Jamal said. “And then in the afternoon, we are going to have a campaign launch, where we will launch officially the beginning of our campaign as a party.”
Jamal said the party’s main objective is to improve the lives of Ghanaians.
"We are going to further the better Ghana agenda,” he said. “We are going to promote the achievement of the better Ghana agenda and take it even to a higher level.
"We are going to make Ghanaians the center of our policies. We are going to ensure that our work, as it has always been, is about advancing [and] investing in people, creating jobs and ensuring that we have justice for all in this country.”
Opposition groups say the ruling party has failed to keep its promises. They said the NDC has yet to offer solutions that address the economic challenges the country faces. The opposition parties have also called on voters not to return the NDC to power for the next four years.
United States Sec. Hillary Clinton and President John Mahama
But, Jamal disagrees with that assessment, noting that the ruling party has built more than 1,700 schools and roads, upgraded hospitals and created jobs.
“If all these things are happening and people don’t see it, then it is people who are deliberately refusing to see it,” he said. “But, those who have seen it have seen what is happening and I think that they will continue to reward [us] as a party that is bettering the lots of Ghanaians.”
Jamal also said the NDC will work with other political parties to ensure the December voting takes place without violence, intimidation or harassment.
“We are the party that had a presidential candidate who by his nature and character was named Asomdwehene [late President John Atta Mills] or the man of peace,” he said. “We also have a candidate that by his character, everybody can see clearly that he abhors violence and he is not in for that. So, our party has always stood for peace.”
source: Voice of America
Onitsha (Anambra), Aug. 30, 2012 (NAN) President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday commissioned the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu Gateway in Onitsha as part of his one-day official visit to Anambra.
Speaking on the occasion, Jonathan said the gateway stood as a symbol of unity in the South East and prayed that the cause for which the late warlord was known for would not die.
PETROLEUM MINISTER, MRS DIEZANI ALLISON MADUEKE (L), AND PROF. DORA AKUNYILI EXCHANGING PLEASANTRIES IN ENUGU WHILE WAITING FOR THE ARRIVAL OF PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN AT THE AKANU IBIAM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ON THURSDAY (30/8/12)
GOV. PETER OBI OF ANAMBRA STATE (L) WITH PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN WATCHING ADAEZE DANCE GROUP AT THE AKANU IBIAM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT IN ENUGU ON THURSDAY (30/8/12).
He said the strategic site of the statue would always bring to mind the memories of the warlord and urged the people not to allow his dream to die.
Speaking earlier, Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra said the gateway was the first point of contact with the South East, hence its choice for the immortalisation of Odumegwu-Ojukwu, and prayed that the statue would always touch the minds of the Igbo to think and act as one.
Amb. Bianca Ojukwu, the widow of the late warlord, said she was delighted with the decision of the state government to honour her late husband in a special way.
Also speaking, Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo said the gateway would surely bind the Igbo together on sighting the statue.
Present at the commissioning were Senators Chris Ngige and Andy Uba, Representatives Uche Ekwunife, and Victor Ogene as well as former Minister of Information and Communication, Prof. Dora Akunyili, among others. (NAN)
We all wake up one bright morning; the next thing we heard was that Sanusi’s Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) will introduce a 5,000 naira banknote in the circulation in nearest future. The most perplexing question that begs for an answer is when and why CBN arrive to this decision to print such a large denomination without adequate consultation and research analysis. Although CBN is an autonomous institution, it still own certain explanation to Nigerians on the strategic importance and impacts of its decision and on how the country can benefit from it.
Sanusi’s CBN have for a while been worried about the increasing inflationary trend in the economy. To that effect the country’s reserve bank has gone about it by raising the interest rate to more 12 percent to combat rising inflation. Now in a split of second they chose to rubbish their good work with this incoherent policy decision. By printing a large denomination of naira notes, the value of the naira will nosedive while inflation will gain momentum and that can be disastrous to the economy. Sometimes, our policy makers especially those of them that are making important financial decisions act like those that do not grasp the fundamentals of monetary and macro economic theories. One cannot quench a burning fire by throwing kerosene into it. How can you tame inflation by application of tools that will make it worse than before? I am totally disappointed with Central Bank of Nigeria.
Does Nigeria desire to make naira become worthless akin to Zimbabwe currency that is miserably worthless? Is Nigeria policymakers ever ‘chill out’ and think critically on how their decisions may destroy the house they are trying to build. These impulsive financial and monetary decisions were what wrecked the economy of Zimbabwe. Nigeria is tilting to the path of Zimbabwe economic gulag where hyperinflation and incoherent economic decision will doom the nation’s economy.
one hundred trillion Zimbabwean dollar bill sits atop a pile of other old Zimbabwean notes of various denominations.Photo: TSVANGIRAYI MUKWAZHI / Associated Press
It may be incredulous to believe but it was in a record that Zimbabwe printed the largest banknote denomination of 1oo trillion dollar bill. Zimbabwe with its fool’s decision demolished their agricultural based economy with massive inflation. And restored to printing large banknotes to control inflation which made worst of the situation.
Nigeria has everything going for it in terms of steady influx of foreign exchange it derived from the continuous sale of oil. Even with that phenomena naira is still soft and malleable when compared to other similar economies of Nigeria’s standard. Most of country‘s problems from their quick and unsound decisions that comes from their political and policy makers come from the country’s supposedly best and brightest who should have known better.
Nigeria has produced capable men and women that can affirmatively transform their countries. Yet Nigeria is obsessed from getting counsel from international bodies that are not working on the interest of the country. No one is implying or accusing any international body of making Nigeria to print large bank notes, but one thing for sure, self doubt and self negation made Nigeria to sort advice from outsiders whom they believed that are more intellectually superior to them.
There are perilous cultural and economic ramifications that may likely come from the printing and introduction of 5,000 naira note into the circulation. First and foremost it will be an inducement for Nigeria to progressively print larger banknotes, today it is 5,000 and next time it will be 10,000 naira note until naira become worthless.
The cultural implication is quite enormous; already Nigeria has a problem with corruption, money laundering and bribery. The large banknotes will be a powerful facilitator for bribery and corruption and that is not the intended purpose of CBN. It will not make it easier for the fight against corruption to see the light of the day.
Finally, the so-called cashless society that CBN is gearing up to implement may not materialise by printing more currency with large denominations. It is illogical to be printing such a large note, while simultaneously setting up a cashless system, for that is an apex of irrationality.
Emeka Chiakwelu, Analyst and Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol Organization.
"While Oprah took the top-earning slot, bringing in an estimated $165 million in the last year, she was followed by a slew of both "in-the-moment" directors and legendary standbys, like "Transformers" director Michael Bay and Steven Speilberg, who pulled in an estimated $160 million and $130 million respectively between May 2011 and May 2012." (Click over to Forbes for the full list) - Huffington Post
Below are Black Celebrities that made the Forbes list:
The media mogul's earnings fell by a staggering $125 million from last year. However, even with the drop, she remains the highest earner on the list, just inching out director Michael Bay. It's been a challenging year for Winfrey, who signed off from her 25-year syndicated show and immediately turned her attention to struggling cable network OWN. The bulk of the earnings dive comes from lost income on The Oprah Winfrey Show, but her diversified portfolio includes O: The Oprah Magazine, spin-off shows like The Dr. Oz Show and a radio deal with Sirius. She does not earn a salary at OWN, which has faced ratings disappointments and financial issues since it premiered in Jan. 2011. As chairman and CEO of the joint venture with Discovery Communications, she hopes a recent restructuring, new programming and a distribution deal with Comcast will turn the network around.
The ageless super-producer's latest hit isn't a song, but rather a line of headphones. In August handset maker HTC paid $300 million for a 51% stake in Beats by Dr. Dre, the headphone company he co-founded with Interscope chief Jimmy Iovine in 2006. Each owned about a third of the company, pocketing about $100 million apiece, before taxes, from last summer's deal.
Perry continues to be a busy, well-paid director/producer/writer/actor. His low-budget films, like the recent Good Deeds have built-in audiences and don't need to earn a ton of money to become profitable. Perry's most successful film was 2009's Madea Goes to Jail, which earned $90 million. He also has a successful TV empire that includes House of Payne, Meet the Browns and For Better or Worse.
Tiger Woods broke a 30-month winless streak on the PGA Tour when he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. His income is down, as sponsors like Tag Heuer and Gillette failed to renew their endorsement deals with Woods. His golf course-design business is also on the ropes. But Woods remains one of the world's highest-paid athletes, thanks to his Nike deal. He has won more than $100 million in prize money worldwide during his career.
(Click over to Forbes for the full list)
In a move aimed at salvaging the reform and privatisation programme of the power sector, President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday in Abuja accepted the resignation of one of the key members of his cabinet, Professor Bart Nnaji as Minister of Power, with immediate effect.
The president, who in a press statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, thanked the former minister for his services to the country and wished him well in his future endeavour, was said to have decided to accept the resignation, following Nnaji's admission that companies linked to him had submitted bids for one of the successor companies created from the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
However, speaking to THISDAY Tuesday night on his decision to leave the cabinet, Nnaji said he opted to resign in order to save the privatisation and reform programme from those who might want to use ulterior motives to bring down the programme.
Nnaji said he had met with the president Tuesday afternoon, during which he (president) informed him (Nnaji) that he was using his company as a proxy to buy shares on behalf of the president in Afam power station through the privatisation process.
On hearing this, he informed the president that rather than drag him (Jonathan) and the entire process through the mud, he would prefer to resign but reminded the president that he had brought it to his attention two weeks ago that a company he owned was part of a bidding consortium that had submitted bids for Enugu Distribution Company.
Nnaji explained that there have been all sorts of efforts to bring him down since his appointment as Special Adviser to the President on Power and later power minister, but decided Tuesday that it was best to leave rather that allow fourth columnists to mar the entire process.
"It is a huge conspiracy to scuttle the programme, but rather than drag the president and the programme down, I decided to tender my resignation," he said.
On what would become of the reform process on which he had worked so hard, the former minister said he had managed to put the power sector on track and all key reforms in place, adding "it would be difficult to derail it right now and I hope it would proceed as planned."
When asked if the independent power company he owns, Gemetric Power, would withdraw from the consortium bidding for Enugu Disco, Nnaji said: "As far as I am concerned, the bid is still alive.
"I know that they set up a new committee to re-evaluate the bids, but I don't know if the process will still be fair after what has happened."
However, sources in the presidency told THISDAY last night that Nnaji had no choice than to resign, because had he failed to do so, he would have been sacked by the president.
The president, THISDAY learnt, was said to have been very disappointed that his power minister, who should have known better, had gone ahead to bid for Enugu Distribution Company, despite the Code of Ethics of the privatisation process which bars staff of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and members of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) from buying shares in companies being privatised.
"The president had made up his mind by this morning, so if Nnaji had not resigned, he would have been sacked," explained sources in the presidency.
Participation by two companies linked to Nnaji in the power privatisation process had compelled the NCP to cancel the technical bid evaluation process conducted for Afam and Enugu Disco last week.
The NCP, after its meeting last Friday, had announced the results of the technical evaluation conducted for the 25 bids it received last month for the six generation companies (Gencos).
From that process, seven bidders were said to have successfully met the cut-off mark of 750 and above during the technical evaluation process and were prequalified to have their financial bids opened on September 25.
However, the NCP was silent on the bidders that were prequalified for Afam Power Station owing to the potential conflict of interest that had arisen during the privatisation process.
An NCP source said that before the consideration of the report of the evaluation, Nnaji, who was a member of the NCP by virtue of his position as Minister of Power, had brought it to the attention of the council that O & M Solutions of Pakistan, a member of one of the consortia bidding for Afam, had worked as a contractor for Geometric Power.
The consortium, in which O & M Solutions has a stake, is Skipper Nigeria Limited, which had submitted technical and financial bids for Afam on July 17, the deadline set by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) for the submission of bids for the Gencos.
The minister also notified the NCP that Geometric Power has a minority stake in Eastern Electric Nigeria Limited, which had submitted technical and financial bids for Enugu Distribution Company Limited on July 31.
He went on to inform the council that owing to his position, he had notified the president of his company's bid for Enugu Disco, and brought it to their attention that although he has an interest in Geometric Power, he had resigned from its board and transferred his shares to a blind trust.
Having been informed of Nnaji's direct and indirect interest in two companies being privatised, the council decided to cancel the technical evaluation that had been conducted for Afam and disbanded the evaluation team.
It also decided to stop the evaluation of the Enugu Disco, which is still ongoing, and would likewise disband the evaluation team.
The decision to cancel the evaluation for both companies was premised on the fact that all major stakeholders, including the former power minister, had been asked to send nominees to participate in the evaluation process.
Coincidentally, Nnaji Tuesday afternoon had welcomed the NCP's decision to disband the evaluation teams and re-evaluate the technical bids submitted for Afam and Enugu Discos in the wake of his admission that some members of the bidding consortia has links to a company he owns.
Nnaji said the NCP's decision to re-evaluate the bids submitted by potential investors for Afam and Enugu Discos was necessary considering that justice should not only be done but also seen to have been done by all and sundry.
Last year, Nigeria's state oil company began paying him $9 million a year, by Mr. Dokubo-Asari's account, to pay his 4,000 former foot soldiers to protect the pipelines they once attacked. He shrugs off the unusual turn of events. "I don't see anything wrong with it," said the thickly built former gunman, lounging in a house gown at his home here in Nigeria's capital.
Nigeria is shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars a year to maintain an uneasy calm in the oil-rich delta, where attacks ranging from theft to bombings to kidnappings pummeled oil production three years ago, to as low as 500,000 barrels on some days. Now production is back up to 2.6 million barrels daily of low-sulfur crude of the sort favored by U.S. refineries, which get nearly 9% of their supply here.
The gilded pacification campaign is offered up by the government as a success story. But others say the program, including a 2009 amnesty, has sent young men in Nigeria's turbulent delta a different message: that militancy promises more rewards than risks.
While richly remunerated former kingpins profess to have left the oil-theft business, many former militant foot soldiers who are paid less or not at all by the amnesty, and have few job prospects, continue to pursue prosperity by tapping pipelines.
Now, oil theft appears to be on the rise again. Royal Dutch Shell RDSB.LN -0.19% PLC's Nigerian unit estimates that more than 150,000 barrels of oil are stolen from Nigerian pipelines daily. That is one of the lower estimates. In May, theft from one pipeline got so bad that Shell simply shut it down.
"Everybody seems to believe…that the Niger Delta problem is over," said a former government mediator, Dimieari Von Kemedi. "It's just on pause. The challenge is to move from pause to stop."
Meanwhile, Nigeria is facing a separate militancy, in the form of the radical Islamic group Boko Haram, whose guerrilla attacks on churches and police stations in a different part of the country have left hundreds dead. Some legislators have proposed extending amnesty to Boko Haram, as well.
It is an expensive proposition. This year alone, Nigeria will spend about $450 million on its amnesty program, according to the government's 2012 budget, more than
what it spends to deliver basic education to children.
Under the arrangement, the government grants living allowances to tens of thousands of former members of the bandit crews and sends them to vocational classes, in sites ranging from Houston to London to Seoul. These costs are on top of millions of dollars paid at the outset to the crews' leaders for handing in their weapons.
For a few, the program has meant spectacular rewards. To improve ties with former delta warlords, the government invited the top "generals," as they call themselves, for extended stays on the uppermost, executive floors of Abuja's Hilton hotel.
The Nigerian state oil company, according to one of its senior officials, is giving $3.8 million a year apiece to two former rebel leaders, Gen. Ebikabowei "Boyloaf" Victor Ben and Gen. Ateke Tom, to have their men guard delta.
"For you to address the whole issue of poverty and development, you need some kind of peace," added Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director for Shell's Nigerian unit. "That is what I think the amnesty program has offered."
Enticed by the program, the militants emerged a couple of years ago from the oil-soaked swamps of the delta. Some of the leaders took up residence in the executive floors of Abuja's Hilton and through much of 2010 and early 2011 spent weeks or months enjoying the Executive Lounge's complimentary supply of Hennessey V.S.O.P. cognac, priced at $51 a shot on the room-service menu. Over a buffet of fiery Nigerian dishes—gumbos, Jollof rice pilafs, goat stews—they rubbed shoulders with the country's leading politicians and influence peddlers, who often live in the floor's $700-a-night art-deco rooms.
"These are young men who came out of the creeks and were given the opportunity to hang out with the crème de la crème, wearing gold watches and drinking from gold-rimmed teacups," said Tony Uranta, a member of the government's Niger Delta Technical Committee advisory group and a frequent Hilton executive-floor guest. "It's a natural thing."
Photo: AFP/Getty Images and Reuters
Most have since moved out of the hotel. "It's too high-profile," said an aide to one ex-warlord, Mr. Tom.Meanwhile, thousands of former militant foot soldiers have been given job training, a feature of the program that officials call its most indisputable success. The question is how many will be able to make use of this training. In Nigeria, the government estimates, there are 67 million other people waiting to be employed.
Kempare Ebipade says he spent six years guarding creekside armories as an oil militant, in the course of which he took two bullets to the thigh. In 2009 he accepted amnesty and was sent to the U.S. for two weeks at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. He displayed a booklet of Dr. King's speeches from which he said he sometimes reads to villagers.
Mr. Ebipade is a skilled welder now, trained in the craft by the amnesty program. But the father of four struggles to imagine how he will find clients for a welding workshop he has set up, or how he will continue to afford his apartment's rent of $1,100 a year.
The government has vigorously pushed oil companies to hire locals. Mr. Ebipade says that out of the former militant army of 10,000 he belonged to, he has heard of only five that landed jobs with oil companies.
Shell's Mr. Sunmonu warned against the idea "that every trained ex-militant is going to get a paid employment, because if you just look at the number, it's probably huge. So we therefore must broaden our solutions to focus more on self-employment: small enterprises, medium enterprises."
The Niger Delta has seen promising economic progress. Construction on a regional highway is under way. Nigeria's overall economy is projected to grow at a brisk 7.1% this year. But much of the growth is in cities far from the delta, and a population boom reduces the degree to which the growth helps with the unemployment problem.
In the delta, years-old electric towers punctuate village skylines, but many don't carry electricity, having never been connected to the overtaxed power grid. Children travel to scattered schools aboard canoes, navigating creeks coated by the rainbow stains of oil slicks. A United Nations office has estimated it would take 30 years to clean the waters, which once sustained fisheries.
Amid this landscape, oil-related crime lures locals like Atu Thompson, father of 18 and self-described oil thief, who says he and others see few other ways to provide. "You can take me to amnesty, give me a good contract—but others are still there," Mr. Thompson says. Mr. Dokubo-Asari, 48 years old, used to be prominent among them. While not all of his account of life in the mangrove swamps could be verified, he long was one of Nigeria's best-known oil marauders.
About 25 years ago, Mr. Dokubo-Asari left overcrowded university classrooms, he says, to study guerrilla warfare in the Libya led by Col. Moammar Gadhafi. He says he was given $100,000 to stir up trouble back in Nigeria, an oil competitor to Libya.
Fomenting conflict proved easy in the restive Niger Delta he returned to in the early 1990s. From a local governor, Mr. Dokubo-Asari says, he procured weapons and money to build a militia that ultimately was several thousand strong. For years, as he tells it, they broke open pipelines, filling canisters with crude oil and refining some of it through timeworn techniques used by locals to boil palm-tree sap into wine.
The government struggled to lure him out of the mangroves. Mr. Dokubo-Asari responded to one amnesty offer that he considered meager by announcing a death threat against petroleum workers. Shell evacuated hundreds of expatriates and oil derricks briefly slowed to a stop. The next day, oil prices hit $50 a barrel for the first time.
Nigeria's government offered Mr. Dokubo-Asari a truce and $1,000 apiece, he says, for his AK-47 rifles, numbering 3,182. He says he took the deal and used the profits to purchase more weapons and return to the swamp.
There, he recounts he was finally arrested and coerced into another round of negotiations. Fearing assassination, he fled to Cotonou, Benin, where he says he founded a school for Niger Delta children. He showed a video of him teaching kids kung fu at the school.
New warlords quickly took Mr. Dokubo-Asari's place. Marauding under noms de guerre like Gen. Shoot-at-Sight, Gen. Africa and Gen. Young Shall Grow, they formed a loose confederation of gunmen calling itself the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, and crippled enough oil infrastructure to bring Nigeria's production on some days to a near-halt.
That was when Nigeria announced the 2009 amnesty. In televised ceremonies, guerrillas dropped off rifles, machine guns, tear-gas canisters, dynamite bundles, rocket launchers, antiaircraft guns, gunboats and grenades to be sold to the government, which also offered the nonviolence training courses and nine-month vocational classes.
Theft fell sharply. Yet now, just as Nigeria's state oil company has begun institutionalizing pipeline-watch jobs for some ex-militants, theft has blossomed again. "It's quite an escalation. If nothing is done, it will continue to increase because more and more people will just come to feel that this is a gold field," said Shell's Mr. Sunmonu. "We're not going to give up on this and run away from it. We believe it can be stopped."
Maclean Imomotimi left an overpacked university four years ago, the muscular 30-year-old says, to rob barges in the Niger Delta swamps. Now, befitting his new career, he is known as Gen. Imomotimi. He says he accepted the government's amnesty offer in 2011 on the expectation he would be feted, his hotel bills and bar tabs paid; instead, he was disappointed to receive a living allowance of just 65,000 naira ($413) a month.
So Gen. Imomotimi has returned to the waterways, this time, he says, not to rob barges but to steal oil."I take amnesty's money—what [little] they give me—I take it and I buy other guns," he says. "There's much, much more money in the creeks."
A version of this article appeared August 22, 2012, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Nigeria's Former Oil Bandits Now Collect Government Cash.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Bassey Edet Otu, said that it had become imperative for Senate to put a halt to the new CBN arrangement because a project of this kind required parliamentary approval, adding that the upper legislative chamber was never briefed prior to the announcement of the soon-to-be introduced note.
"As a committee, we should do our work. This morning there is a burning issue that is going on in our country and there is need for us, as a committee, to comment on this topical issue. I am the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Currency and other financial institutions.
"We have also read in the papers just like you about the currency restructuring that the CBN embarked on. I believe that a project of this nature requires parliamentary approval because there are numerous and fiscal implications on the entire economy," Senator Otu said.
The CBN governor had on Thursday, last week, announced the introduction of a new currency series where the existing denominations of N50, N100, N200, N500 and N1,000 will be redesigned and a new note of N5,000 introduced.
According to Sanusi, the front face of the new highest denomination will be adorned with the pictures of three women activists - late Margaret Ekpo, Funmilayo Kuti and Hajiya Gambo Sawaba, while the back side would have the National Assembly structure.
Speaking further, Senator Otu warned the CBN to be very careful in taking some decisions that would worsen the nation's economy and send wrong signal that Nigeria's currency was valueless. He stressed that the country did not deserve this policy since the nation was not in a major crisis.
According to him, "this type of action is only taken where there is a major crisis and the CBN must be very careful in order not to send a wrong signal or message to households, domestic sector and even the external ones that the Nigerian currency is valueless, which I believe it is definitely not, and that for every unit of value they need to carry a large quantity of cash.
"The CBN in 2008 and 2009 came up with a proposal to re-denominate the currency, that was even to take off the zeroes. This was just 2008 and 2009 and here we are in 2012 we are seeing a kind of policy somersault even though we understand the dynamics of the sector very well. I believe that we have to be well briefed on this.
"Also in 2005, the CBN undertook a major currency restructuring which ran into billions of Naira.
"Till date, a proper value has not been done to know its costs to the Nigerian tax payers and the extent of the benefits and in that 2005 coinage, I think it did not work at all because both the goldsmiths and the blacksmiths converted the coins to moulding bangles, earrings, etc.
"So, we believe that the coinage works very well where there is infrastructure to take it like a half, probably like a parking where you go and put it, etc. We have not developed that real basic infrastructure and those coins, most of them, are nowhere really to be found.
"The CBN will have to prove that the policy is not a clear contradiction or at variance with cashless society, which they are even yet to justify and whether this is the popular economic way to go. We are asking and we are sending a letter to them to stop all further actions on this until the senate of the Federal Republic is properly briefed."
Asked if the CBN informed the Senate prior to the decision, Senator Otu said: "Well, we have not been properly briefed yet, so I would not know. We do not know the reason for it, even though at the moment we do know that inflation is a problem, but I don't think that they have used all the mechanisms to tackle it and it is not really out of hands.
"There has not been any meeting with the CBN yet. This is a major policy issue and there is no way this kind of thing can go on without us knowing everything about the details in order to know how it will affect the people of Nigeria."
On what section of the constitution the Senate was relying on, he said: "We are not really going to rely on laws per se, what we are trying to do here is what is best for the Nigerian people. The Senate is not really against the independence of the CBN, but what we want in place is proper check and that there should be checks and balances in all these things that we do.
"So, I believe that at some point we will be able to sit down together and look at the merits and demerits, but till date we do not know anything about it and we do not know what the people stand to gain and until that is properly put through, we say everything about it must stop."
Source : Vanguard
They” in this piece refers to all the cynics, the pestle-wielding critics, the unrelenting, self-appointed activists, the idle and idling, twittering, collective children of anger, the distracted crowd of Facebook addicts, the BBM-pinging soap opera gossips of Nigeria, who seem to be in competition among themselves to pull down President Goodluck Jonathan.
This army of sponsored and self-appointed anarchists is so diverse; many of them don’t even know why or how they should attack the President.
The clear danger to public affairs commentary is that we have a lot of unintelligent people repeating stupid clichés and too many intelligent persons wasting their talents lending relevance to thoughtless conclusions. Hold on. I don’t want to be misunderstood. I am not saying nobody should criticize the Nigerian President. I spent some time learning that legal maxim: “volenti non fit injuria”. Public position comes with its own share of risks and exposure. But the twittering, pinging, Facebook crowd of the new age must be guided by facts.
Hold your stone. Don’t haul it yet. Shhh. Wait, Mr. Alaseju! I have spent the last fourteen months working with President Jonathan. I have followed him everywhere. I can write a whole book on his Presidency so far, but you won’t get to read that until much later. I have heard that some people are protesting that they will not buy the book if it gets written. Well, your choice. What I can report, for now is, that he is a grossly misunderstood President. Too many people are unfair to him. They criticize him out of ignorance. They abuse him out of mischief. And the opposition doesn’t make things easy at all. Can we look at a number of issues?
You say he is a clueless President. You are wrong. He is not clueless. Nobody is more committed to the Nigerian Project than President Jonathan. In spite of unforeseen challenges which his administration has had to contend with, President Jonathan is doing his utmost best to positively transform Nigeria. Ordinary Nigerians know and appreciate this. Those parading themselves as leaders of the opposition who claim that the President has lost the support of Nigerians represent only themselves and their selfish interests.
President Jonathan is a clever, methodical and intelligent man, who is very adept at wrong footing all the persons who make an effort to second-guess or under-estimate him. He understands the complexity of Nigeria. He is acutely conscious of the historicity of his emergence as Nigeria’s No. 1. He knows that he is here as the leader of all Nigerians. He knows that he is a representative of all common persons, particularly the children of all blue collar workers who never wore shoes or got a chance to eat three-square meals, and whose mothers and aunties could never be part of policy-making processes.
When he spoke about not wearing shoes as a child, he meant that as a metaphor for the disparities in the Nigerian system, and the urgent need to redress inequalities. But I have heard some persons responding literally that Nigerians should never vote for a man who never wore shoes. How simplistic. Attention needs to be drawn to the fact that a rooted, people-sourced President who seeks to transform Nigeria, and who campaigns on a platform of transformation, will necessarily be opposed by those who consider themselves the children of Empire builders, those who think that their ancestors built Nigeria. Wrong.
The Ijaws, the fourth largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria, have as much right to have their son as President as every other Nigerian group. But Jonathan doesn’t even dwell on this. I have never heard him utter an ethnic statement. He sees himself as the President of all Nigerians. He is at home with every group. He is focused on the challenges of nation-building. He wants to transform Nigeria. He wants to unite the country. He is determined to promote the country. And he is doing so already. He knows Nigerians want regular power supply. He is working at it. That is why we have crossed 4, 400 MW.
He knows Nigerians want infrastructure. That is why he is telling Bi-Courtney to fix Lagos-Ibadan Expressway or get out. That is why he is telling a particular Minister to fix the East-West road and get it fixed quickly. That is why he has directed the relevant agencies to get corrupt persons to answer for their misdeeds. That is why he is strengthening Nigeria’s foreign relations. That is why he is transforming the agriculture sector, from a contract-awarding, fertilizer distribution enterprise into big business. And more… The reason President Jonathan does not go into a song and dance routine is because he knows that true rebranding of a nation is a projection of positive things that are already happening.
They say he is “tribalistic”. Not true. How many Ijaws are in President Jonathan’s inner circle? Very few, I can tell you. There are of course, all kinds of persons who go about telling people that they have the President’s ears and eyes. They would even tell you that they think for the President! I used to have nightmares whenever I heard that, but it no longer bothers me. I have since learnt that some Nigerians consider it fashionable to wear false garments.
The Presidency qua Presidency is staffed by key officials from all parts of the country. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation is from Ebonyi State. The Chief of Staff and the Head of the President’s Secretariat are both from Edo, the Protocol Liaison Officer and Principal Private Secretary are from Adamawa, the Chief Detail is from Borno, the Aide De Camp (ADC) is from Kogi, the Perm Sec, State House is from Benue, the State Chief of Protocol is from Kwara, the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity is from Ogun, the Chief Physician to the President is from Rivers. Only the Chief Security Officer, the Special Assistant, Domestic and the Special Adviser, Research and Strategy are from Bayelsa.
When he is in the office, and he gets there early every day, and works till very late, he is exposed to all categories of Nigerians. He runs a modern and open Presidency. He is on Facebook, Twitter, email, SMS, BB, and he reads. And he writes. This is not a provincial President. The intelligentsia, his immediate community, should support him to do his work.
President Jonathan was the first Nigerian leader to appoint a woman as his Chief Economic Adviser as well as the Nigerian leader who opened up the Nigerian Defence Academy to women. And he took affirmative action in political appointments to a higher level by reserving 35% of all appointive positions in government for our women folk.
The facts in this regard are incontrovertible. Under President Jonathan, women occupy very strategic positions (Petroleum Resources, Education, Co-ordinating Minister/Minister of Finance, Water Resources, Minister of State, FCT, Minister of State, Defence, Minister of State, Foreign Affairs 1, Minister of State, Niger Delta) and the headship of many of the MDAs. The President’s commitment to Nigeria is total. All his children school in Nigeria. Even his dress code promotes Nigeria.
They say Mr. President drinks. My friend and colleague, Etim Etim, called the other day to say that whatever may be the challenges on this job, he could affirm that I am at least enjoying. “What with all the choice drinks on every trip,” he said. I told him, “No, we don’t drink.” He protested. He thought I was lying. He had heard that kain-kain is a staple fare on presidential flights. I told him No. We are not allowed to touch alcohol. Alcohol is not served during official duties. Yes, when there is an international function, wine is served, but nobody gets drunk around here. That will amount to an act of indiscipline. The President himself does not allow alcohol to be served at his table. But when you go to social media they tell you something else. Lies. Lies. Lies.
I have even heard that the President spends billions on feeding. Well, I have enjoyed the privilege of eating at the President’s table. What does he eat? Fish pepper soup. Cassava Bread. Slices of yam. Rice. Boiled plantain. Fruits and vegetables. He fasts when he chooses, and fasts all month during Ramadan and Lent. And because he takes his exercises and keep fit regime seriously, he eats very little. Okay, he drinks coffee. And yet there are people out there who keep claiming that there is a feast in the Villa every day. They say at every meal, the table is decorated with roasted turkey, and every delicacy under the sun. Lies. Lies. This President is not a glutton. We have a disciplined, hardworking president who enjoys his privacy, and the company of intelligent people.
Here is a man who is an epitome of loyalty and simplicity. The thing about the President’s critics is that they just cannot accept that someone with his simplicity can be their President. This is the Saul Complex. Saul could not accept the fact that somebody as simple as David could be favoured by God. And just like Saul threw the spear at David out of uncontrollable jealousy, these critics are out to throw any kind of spear to see which hits the target, hence all their lies about the President.
Let me end by saying that the President is a simple man but simplicity is not naivety. If simplicity were to be naivety then the world would not be where it is today because it is simple men like Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Kwame Nkrumah, who have shaped the world that we live in by simplifying what others have complicated.
Reuben Abati is Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to President Jonathan
They allegedly targeted other Chinese, kidnapping businessmen for ransom and sometimes burying victims alive.
They lured women to Angola, promising well-paid jobs, but then forced them into prostitution, Chinese police said.
Tens of thousands of Chinese live in Angola, and Chinese state-run firms have large interests in the country.
China's Ministry of Public Security said a special police team was sent to Angola in July to help investigate criminal gangs.
The ministry said the officers had helped their Angolan counterparts break up 12 gangs and free 14 victims, most of whom were thought to be women forced to work as prostitutes.
The 37 suspects arrived at Beijing airport in handcuffs with balaclavas covering their faces. They are due to be tried in China.
Mineral-rich Angola is China's biggest trading partner in Africa, with some $24.8bn (£15.7bn) in 2010.
Commercial opportunities have attracted private businesses and state-run firms.
But according to Chinese media, crime had begun to seriously affect operations in the country.
China Police, a website run by the ministry, published an article documenting 14 kidnappings during 2011 in which five victims were killed.
The article said Chinese business owners had moved away from the capital Luanda, while others had hired private security guards and bought bullet-proof cars.