Archive for November 2011

EULOGY TO OJUKWU, 1933-2011!   Leave a comment

I join multitudes of my fellow Nigerians to mourn the passing of one of our nation’s foremost revolutionaries, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, whose death was announced yesterday, November 26, 2011.

Indeed, I concur with the press statement issued in Abuja by the Senate Spokesman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia) in which Ojukwu was described as “…a visionary leader whose passion for a Nigeria where every federating unit would be proud of belonging to was unparalleled. He saw tomorrow and his action and passion for a truly united Nigeria shaped our socio-political environment of today”.

Born on November 4, 1933, one of the earlier indications in Ojukwu’s life that he was going to be a freedom fighter came when he was briefly imprisoned for assaulting a white British colonial teacher who was humiliating a black woman at King’s College, Lagos.

Ojukwu’s career witnessed stints with the civil service in the defunct Eastern Nigeria as an Administrative Officer at Udi, in present-day Enugu State in 1956; and in the military where he was one of the first and few university graduates to join the Nigerian army in its early years.

Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1964 after serving in the UN peacekeeping force in the then Congo under Maj.-Gen. Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, Ojuwkwu was appointed military governor of the defunct Eastern Region on January 17, 1966 and it was in this capacity that he declared the defunct Eastern Region of Nigeria a sovereign state called Biafra.

Indeed, it was his courage, military astuteness and sterling leadership that earned him a TIME magazine front cover page feature in August 1968!

When his effort at providing an alternative state for the Igbos failed, Ojukwu
returned to Nigeria from self-exile in 1982 after he was granted state pardon by President Shehu Shagari.

Until his recent illness, Ojukwu has since remained a prominent opposition figure, regularly criticising the ruling elite for bad governance. It was his appealing political reckoning that led to the creation of the All Progressives Grand Alliance party under whose platform he ran for president in 2007 and which now controls two key South-Eastern Nigerian states, Imo and Anambra.

Adieu Ojukwu! Nigeria will sorely miss you!!!

Posted November 27, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Celebrating Nigeria

GEJ SAYS CORRUPTION ISN’T NIGERIA’S MAIN PROBLEM   Leave a comment

On October 14, 2011, at a two-day retreat organised by his administration to forge a common front between the private sector and government for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) that will unlock capital in the private sector for public development, contrary to the well-known vote that corruption was a greater problem than any other variable troubling the country, President Jonathan said it was critical infrastructure.

Jonathan should know that you can build a brand new and a better Nigeria with all the funds that have been lost to corruption. Officially, it is said that, since independence, Nigeria has lost over $500 billion and one can only imagine how much unofficially!

As analyst, Sabella Abidde explains in his October 19, 2011 write-up entitled President Jonathan and the fight against corruption, “The cost of corruption can be seen in other aspects of our national life. We know, for instance, that these negative practices increase transaction cost; discourage foreign direct investment; reduce overall growth of the formal economy; help to weaken our public and private institutions; encourage the informality of the political and economic system; and help to personalise the rule of law. We know, too, that corruption and corrupt practices negatively impact the cultural and social space, and encourage indolence, nepotism and an uneven playing field. One of the saddest aspects of the Nigerian reality is that less than one per cent of the truly corrupt are ever brought to justice. And in cases where they have been prosecuted, the penalties are usually mere slap on the wrist: less than one per cent of those prosecuted will ever be jailed. The fact is that high-end criminals rarely ever go to jail in Nigeria.”

In addition, the very fact of the huge salaries paid Nigerian legislators in particular and the overall extreme high cost of sustaining the bureaucracy comprises corruption itself given the country’s dire need for capital investments.

It appears Jonathan doesn’t know what he is saying because you need funds to build infrastructure. He has said his main interest in wanting the fuel subsidy to go is because of the need to free capital spent on it for public investment. He has also said one major reason for his proposed single tenure is to cut down on how much Nigeria spends conducting elections and again to free such funds for development.

Sadly, Jonathan has however fallen short of admitting that Nigeria loses more funds to corruption than to all these perceived waste valves of his. There is therefore no gainsaying why Jonathan cannot make any headway against corruption. It stems from his naive perspective on that mother of all vices in Nigeria!

For a president who promised to fight corruption and not to tolerate “any sacred cows”, this mistaken view is akin to denying the fight against corruption the substance and pre-eminence it deserves. Nigerians will have to wait for another day and most certainly for another president for this scourge to go!

Posted November 14, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Aso Villa

NATIONAL HONOURS AWARD: FOR SERVICE OR EGO-BOOSTING?   Leave a comment

The National Honours Award (NHA) Committee recently released the list of its 2010 and 2011 award recipients totalling 364 and broken down into different categories.

Whilst it is good to recognise outstanding achievers in any field of human endeavour so as to encourage others to emulate them, an objective look at the said list of NHA recipients reveals that what should otherwise be a true awards ceremony where Nigeria’s best are recognised, with due respect to the few deserving ones, appears rather to be an ego-boosting political jamboree for Nigeria’s high and mighty.

Interestingly, this development comes at a time when all sectors of national life are begging for salvaging. The recently-published 2011 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance exposes the sad truth that Nigeria is lagging way behind in virtually all Human Development indices. Out of nineteen classifications, Nigeria scored above 50% in only three! A few days ago, the CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido, corroborated reports from a senate plenary which revealed that most states are broke. Yet, today, November 14, 2011, the nation and indeed, the world will be invited to celebrate recipients of Nigeria’s highest honours – former and current office holders who span the socio-economic and political strata of our national life – and who, in many cases, are, on the one hand, responsible for our present woes and are, on the other, doing very little to make needed amends! An awards event of this magnitude shouldn’t be to serve political ego-boosting.

Posted November 14, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Aso Villa

KUDOS TO GEJ FOR SLASHING BRITISH AIRWAYS FLIGHTS   Leave a comment

I commend the Jonathan Administration for slashing British Airways’ (BA) flights to Lagos from seven times a week to three, with effect from November 8.

The Federal Government’s decision to slash the frequency of the airline to Lagos is in response to the forced suspension of Nigeria’s Arik Air flights to London from Abuja by the UK’s airport management.

In the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA), which Nigeria signed with Britain, both countries agreed that airlines from the UK would fly 21 times to Nigeria and vice-versa. Arik Air recently explained that the BASA accord signed between the two countries was only beneficial to British carriers which freely come into Nigeria without hindrances whereas she, the only Nigerian airline that operates into Britain, faced impediments, including the denial of landing slots at Heathrow which compelled her to rent slots from a British agency at £1.4 million between 2009 and 2010, after paying an initial deposit of £600,000.

Britain must respect the BASA accord or be treated this way! The British government must be made to know the days of impunity over our economy are over. If they are seeking to fight their way out of their recession, they should do it the appropriate way and not go cheating on other nations! President Jonathan and Aviation Minister Stella Oduah shouldn’t capitulate. They should stand their grounds and demand a comprehensive review of the BASA accord which will serve Nigeria’s interests accordingly.

Posted November 14, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Aso Villa

GEJ’s FEDERAL BOARDS COMMITTEE: A REASON FOR MORE CORRUPTION!   Leave a comment

In announcing the inauguration of the committee on the composition of the new boards for Federal Government parastatals on October 19, 2011, President Jonathan invited the Senate President, David Mark, represented by his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu; the Speaker House of the Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; the National Chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Abubakar Baraje and the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim.

For GOD’s sake, what has the PDP National Chairman, Abubakar Baraje, got to do with being an official member of the committee on the composition of new boards for federal parastatals? Even then, why should the Senate President, David Mark, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, be in that committee? Don’t they have legislative business to do – especially when it comes to the screening of those who will nominated into these boards?

Sadly, this is designed to get these fellows give jobs to their boys and then perpetuate the circle of corruption and lack of accountability in the system.

Posted November 14, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Aso Villa

GEJ WILL BE STUPID TO REINTRODUCE TOLL GATES   Leave a comment

The Jonathan Administration has concluded plans to reintroduce toll gates on federal highways beginning from January 2012. Jonathan’s Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, on November 3, 2011 told the Senate Committee on Works that the proceeds from the toll gates would be used to effect repairs on the roads, which are currently in a state of disrepair.

Former President Obasanjo had, in 2004, abolished the scheme and dismantled all toll gates across the country, after accusing the managers of using the avenue to enrich themselves.

Jonathan must be crazy to go ahead with such a terrible plan especially given that he has promised safety nets for the masses if his planned fuel subsidy removal goes through.

It should be noted that the overwhelming, if not exclusive, majority of the motorists who ply these federal roads are the suffering and struggling masses. Toll gates, depending on the length of the journey, have the potential to result in increased transport costs that do not in any way comprise safety nets.

Funds with which to effect road repairs and carry out other developmental initiatives can be gotten by drastically reducing the extremely heavy cost of governance – recurrent expenditure which is at least 70% of the federal budget.

Also, funds for road repairs should be sourced from the private coffers of top political elements in, especially GEJ’s PDP who have often misappropriated capital allocations. If GEJ means business, he should muster the political will to go after these fellows since he promised he would tolerate no sacred cows anyway, rather than, once again, resorting to get the common man pay for government’s failures.

Posted November 14, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Aso Villa