Igbo will never be President of Nigeria, MASSOB insists

Igbo will never be President of Nigeria – MASSOB 


Ihuoma Chiedozie, Enugu
The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, on Tuesday declared that an Igbo man would never become Nigeria’s President.
In a statement signed by MASSOB leader, Comrade Uchenna Madu, entitled ‘We insist on Biafra through non-violence, not Igbo presidency’, the secessionist group berated Igbo leaders, describing them as ‘political slaves’ who have no chance of ruling the country.
Leading Igbo politicians are nursing strong hopes that the presidency would be zoned to the South-East in 2023, and a former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, recently suggested that that the Igbos should run for the office in 2019.
But MASSOB described expectations that an Igbo man would become the country’s President in 2019 or 2023 as mere wishful thinking.
“The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra has declared that an Igbo man may not be President of Nigeria again because Igbo leaders are political slaves in Nigeria.
“Even 2019 and 2023 will come and go, an Igbo man will not be President of Nigeria.
“We insist on Biafra actualization and restoration through non violence, not Igbo presidency,” the group said in the statement, which was made available to journalists in Enugu.
Source: The Punch

​Naira appreciates further, sells at N425/$, pounds at N510 in parallel market

​Naira appreciates further, sells at N425/$, pounds at N510 in parallel market


The Naira continued to regain strength and appreciate in value in the parallel market on Tuesday as it was sold for N425 to a dollar .

However , it was N450 to a dollar at the close of transactions on Monday .

At the Bureau De Change market in Abuja on Tuesday BDC operators bought at the rate of N 415 and sold at N425 .

The BDC operators bought the Pound Sterling at N500 and sold at N510 , while the Euro was bought for N420 and sold for N 425 .

For the inter – bank rate, the dollar exchanged for N331 . 6 , Euro 335 . 75 , while the pound exchanged for N394 . 25

Some of the BDC operators said that the provision of forex by the CBN to the commercial banks was responsible for the appreciation of the naira in the market .

Mr Sani Ahmed , one of the operators said that the best way to crash the high rate in the market was the continuous injection of liquidity into the market .

According to him , the appreciation of the naira is a good development for the BDC operators and other investors who require forex for their businesses .

He said , “ Now that the naira is appreciating, we make more profit because if you buy at the lower rate, you sell and make gain .

“ When the cost of dollar is high , we make little profit ; but when it is low , we make more profit because we buy more to sell . ”

He , however , said that there was the challenge of accessing the forex from the commercial banks because of the stringent measures stipulated by the deposit money banks to obtain the forex.

“ If someone applies for forex from the banks , it takes time and the process is frustrating ; sometimes , they make additional demands before they issue forex to you , ” Ahmed said .

Experts have , however , expressed concern about the sustainability of the measures by the apex bank.

An economic expert, Prof . Uche Uwaleke , admitted that a complete currency float was capable of unifying rates and reducing round tripping and speculative activities in the market .

He , however , said that such a measure could be suicidal for an import- dependent economy that derived much of its forex inflow from a single commodity .

He , therefore , recommended coordinated fiscal policies designed to encourage import substitution and enhance competitiveness of local production to help reverse the downward trend in the value of naira .

“ Government should fast track efforts to improve the ease of doing business and the state of infrastructure in order to attract foreign investments to develop multiple streams of earning foreign exchange .

“ It is only when the supply of forex is guaranteed from diversified sources that the issue of market – determined value of the naira can be tabled for consideration , ” Uwalake said .

( NAN)

Breaking! JAMB bars awaiting results candidate from UTME

​[BREAKING] UTME: JAMB scraps awaiting results registration
Friday Olokor, Abuja

With effect from this year ( 2017 ), candidates awaiting results would no longer be eligible to apply for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination , the Joint Admissi ons and Matriculation Board , said in Abuja on Tuesday .

The organisation also said it had concluded all r estructuring and reforms and is now set to commence the sale of its application document in March .

The restructuring exercise will now allow for only one choice of public university in which new registration platform will now be first choice , second choice , third choice and fourth choice and not most preferred , preferred choice .

A statement by the spokesperson of JAMB , Dr . Fabian Benjamin , said the agency had taken time to add value to the services it have been offering to Nigerians for over three decades .

According to him , the restructuring was aimed at expanding the opportunities available to candidates since almost all the public universities do not consider candidates on the second choice list because they hardly exhaust their first choice .

He said , “ We have designed a Central Admissions Processing System where the Board will interface with the institutions and ensure the compliance of this reform . The summary is that no candidate will be admitted with awaiting result . Candidates and their parents are also to note that JAMB has restructured the registration platform to allow for only one choice of public university. The new registration platform will now be first choice , second choice , third choice and fourth choice and not most preferred , preferred etc as it was .

“ Candidates ’ first choice can be a College , University , Innovative Enterprises Institutions or Polytechnic/

Monotechnic . However , if a candidate makes a Public University his first choice , he will not have any public University to choose for second , third and fourth choice . He will have on the remaining three choices , a College , Polytechnic , Private University and IEI’ S . However , c andidates for the 2017 UTME can now select National Certificate in Education (College ) or National Diploma (Polytechnic /Monotechnic ) as their first choice up to third choice and the fourth IEI . They can select the IEI ( Innovative Enterprise Institution , ND ) as their first choice up to the fourth choice , but can only pick a public university once . ”
Source: The Punch

We are not banning danfo buses- Lagos State Government

​No plan to ban Danfo buses – LASG
Lagos State Ministry of Transport has no plan to ban yellow buses known as “ Danfo ” but to upgrade them to international standard , the acting Commissioner for Transport , Mr Lanrewaju Elegushi , has disclosed .

Elegushi made the disclosure in Lagos on Tuesday during a stakeholder ’ s forum to deliberate on how to improve the transport system in the state .

He said that the plan of the government was to restructure the transportation system in the state to international standard.

He said , “ What we are planning is to restructure the transportation system in the state to meet international standard.

“ That is why we organised this forum to seek the contributions of the people involved at the new Bus Terminal at Tafawa Balewa Square .

“ We are changing the face of the transport system in Lagos state with fully air condition buses, charging port, CCTV and other infrastructure for the benefit of commuters . ”

Elegushi said the government had also embarked on the building of standard bus terminus in various locations across the state , to standardise the transport system .

The acting commissioner appealed to the stakeholders to make judicious use of the new bus terminal at TBS .

In his remarks , Mr Kunle Azeez , the Chairman , National Union of Road Transport Workers , Idumota branch , commended the government for building befitting bus terminal for members of the union .

He assured the government that members of the union would obey rules and regulations and ensure proper maintenance of the terminal .

“ We appreciate the government for carrying us along in its development plan .

“ I am sure that our members will not let the government down in its plan to make the state a Mega City , ” he added .

On February 6 , Governor Akinwunmi Ambode announced that the government plans to restructure the operations of ‘ danfo ’ buses for an efficient , well – structured and world -class mass transport system .

According to the governor, a well -structured transport system will ease movement within the state and make Lagos cleaner .

( NAN)

​Can’t Fight Xenophobia with Xenophobia

​Can’t Fight Xenophobia with Xenophobia

By SIMON KOLAWOLE
Something unNigerian happened in Abuja on Thursday: protesters vandalised an MTN office in an apparent reprisal mission over the perennial xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa. MTN, being the biggest South African company in the country, is by far the easiest for reprisal. This, I suppose, was meant to send a message to South Africans that their interests in Nigeria are also at risk if they do not relent in their shameful targeting of Nigerians. It would seem Nigerians in the former apartheid enclave have committed an offence by doing well economically. When you flourish in a foreign land more than many of your hosts, envy and resentment are to be expected.

I said the Abuja reprisal is unNigerian because, to the best of my memory, Nigerians do not assault foreigners unprovoked. We even tend to treat foreigners better than fellow Nigerians. We must rank among the most accommodating societies in the world. Like a Nigerian who suffered xenophobic attacks in South Africa two years ago told the BBC: “If I should take you to my place, my mother would make your food first every morning before making my own food. That is how welcoming we are. That is how we show appreciation to foreigners.” He was described as “Ibo” but I can assure you that my mum would do the same thing. It is very Nigerian!

In a funny way, the attack on MTN in Abuja did not hurt South Africans — it hurt the Nigerian employees instead. Their phones and laptops were stolen. They were assaulted. So Nigerians are being robbed and molested in faraway South Africa — and, to retaliate, Nigerians are robbing and molesting fellow Nigerians in Abuja! You may say this is the dumbest thing to do, but I could see that many Nigerians — including those who should know better — were delighted. They even asked for more South African companies, such as Multichoice and Shoprite, to be targeted. Indeed, Nigerian students have asked a couple of South African companies to leave the country.

Why are South African thugs always attacking Nigerians? I think there are political and economic roots to the malady. Politically, Nigeria and South Africa have become fierce rivals since the end of apartheid. There is a struggle between the two to lead Africa. Nigeria, having contributed so much — more than any other country, I dare say — to the liberation of South Africa from apartheid, believes it deserves some deference from the southern African country. South Africa, having been built into a mini-Europe by the apartheid government, believes it should be the pre-eminent country in Africa. They feel superior to the rest of Africa, Nigeria inclusive.

When the question is asked, for instance, on the African country that should get a permanent seat in the Security Council of the UN — in the event that the Big Five are in a generous mood to admit more members — the battle is directly between Nigeria and South Africa, with Egypt putting up a slight fight. Nigeria displays as its credential the role it plays in peace-keeping across the continent and its financial and material support to poorer African countries, not forgetting its enormous population. South Africa flaunts its economic might and level of physical development, which is clearly ahead in sub-Sahara Africa. Pride is thus at play between the two countries.

However, the ascension of Mr. Jacob Zuma to power in South Africa seems to have magnified the rivalry between the two countries, who are working very hard to outplay each other in the politics of African Union. We should remember that South Africa and Nigeria took different positions in the crisis that rocked Cote d’Ivoire after the defeat of the recalcitrant President Laurent Gbagbo in the 2011 elections. In the crisis that engulfed Libya, eventually leading to the death of Muammar Ghaddafi, Nigeria and South Africa did not see eye to eye. We can safely conclude that there is no love lost between the two countries.

The political rivalry, I suspect, has spilled into other areas of human endeavour. The South African white economic elite, empowered by massive accumulation of capital under apartheid, had invaded the rest of Africa at the end of white minority rule. They had the biggest telecom companies, the biggest supermarket chains, the biggest banks and the biggest media companies. They were always going to dominate Africa. In no time, South African Airways, MTN, Vodacom, Shoprite, Pick n Pay, Spar, Steers, Debonairs, Hungry Lion, Mr. Price, Woolworths and DStv were all over the continent, prospering spectacularly in the huge Nigerian market.

Bu there are two South Africas in this game. There is the White South Africa and the Black South Africa. White South Africa is prosperous and adventurous while the Black South Africa is poor and desperate. The poor and desperate South Africa was created by the white supremacists who treated blacks as foot mat under apartheid, denying them good education and oppressing them mindlessly for decades. It will take several generations to undo this damage. White South Africa owns the big corporations, although the black middle class is gradually being initiated into the inner circle. Nevertheless, the majority of blacks are still struggling to breathe.

Now, the narrative of “Superior South Africa” is no longer limited to White South Africa; the black “nouveau riche” are also in on it. The poor and desperate blacks have also apparently been indoctrinated into seeing other Africans, particularly Nigerians, as different from themselves. They possibly see themselves as “black Europeans”. The success of immigrant businesses in South Africa is thus viewed by them as a threat and a nuisance. They cannot understand how Nigerians will come into their country and be making it big while they are struggling. The result is that Black South Africa now “beefs” us. We are easy targets when their economic frustrations boil over.

It gets complicated that some Nigerians are into crime — drug, fraud and prostitution. This provides an excellent excuse for South Africans to lump everybody together and conclude that Nigerians are “destroying” their country. Although Nigerians may not be able to run big corporations very well (most of our so-called big companies are one-man businesses that can hardly survive in a competitive economy), we are not bad in small business. Nigerian SMEs are doing very well in South Africa. Therefore, the poor and desperate South Africans cannot but envy and despise the prospering Nigerians. Their frustration and resentment are conjoined. Hence the attacks.

I have two conclusions. One, it is time for the Nigerian government to stand up strongly for Nigerians. Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, the foreign affairs minister, should summon the South African high commissioner and deliver a firm message to him. Also, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo should call up Zuma and let it be known that we too have the capacity to hurt them without throwing a single stone. It appears the South African government is deliberately not doing enough to protect Nigerians, maybe for political reasons. In fact, Nigerians complain that the authorities look the other way when they are being attacked. What a shame.

Two, the federal government should continue to protect South Africans and their assets in Nigeria. Nigerians are not known for xenophobia. We must not allow some misguided and deranged hate-mongers down below to distort our culture. We should, I propose, not repay evil with evil. We should not allow the conduct of the thugs to shape our own reaction. Hospitality to foreigners is a cultural thing for Nigerians. We cannot afford to lose it. An eye for an eye, it is said, will only make the whole world blind. We cannot fight xenophobia with xenophobia. When they go low, Michelle Obama said, we go high. Word.

“It appears the South African government is deliberately not doing enough to protect Nigerians, maybe for political reasons. In fact, Nigerians complain that the South African authorities look the other way when they are being attacked”

OSINBAJO ON-THE-SPOT

You will never understand how overjoyed I was when I heard that the acting president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, paid an unscheduled visit to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos on Thursday. Not just that, he even inspected the God-damned toilets, conveyor belt, travelator, escalator and carousel. Osinbajo expressed dissatisfaction with most of what he saw. I love that. We have been complaining about this intercontinental embarrassment for years but we were ignored. It appears the airport has been deliberately left to rot in order to market Nigeria as an unserious country. Yet we keep saying we want to promote tourism, trade and investment. Jokers.

THAT N500K GIFT

Mr. Kola Awodein, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has admitted giving Justice Adeniyi Ademola, a judge now facing corruption trial, a “gift” of N500,000 for his daughter’s wedding. Judges are normally not expected to accept gifts from lawyers — neither are lawyers expected to give gifts to judges. But this case is particularly interesting because Ademola was handling a case involving Awodein’s client, President Muhammadu Buhari, at the time. The bigger problem, though, is that since many judges are on trial for receiving “gifts”, Nigerians will be watching how this particular case goes. One gift can certainly not be more equal than others. Intriguing.

ASSESSING THE ASSESSOR

The University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) appears to be the first Nigerian public university to introduce student assessment of their teachers. UNN students will now grade their lecturers on the quality of instruction. The days of the “almighty lecturer” may be over — assuming the authorities will do something about teachers consistently rated poorly. It’s a common practice abroad. There is another practice I would want Nigerian universities to adopt: appointing two markers for every paper (preferably one male and one female). If both cannot agree on a grade, an external marker will make the final decision. The issue of sex-for-marks will be tackled forever. Innovative.
Source: ThisDay

I will not collect salary until you are paid, Akeredolu assures Ondo workers

​As long as you’re not paid, your governor cannot be paid — Akeredolu

• TO SET UP COMMITTEE OVER UNPAID WORKERS’ SALARY IN ONDO

Hakeem Gbadamosi – Akure

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu

NEWLY sworn in governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, has assured workers in the state that “for as long as you are not been paid your salaries for that long, your governor too cannot be paid his salary.”

This is just as the governor is set to set up a committee to look into the seven months’ salary backlog owed by the state government.

Akeredolu who made this pledge in Akure, Ondo State capital while formally meeting with the workers in the state civil service also appealed to the workers in the health sector to suspend their strike action and give room to dialogue on how to ensure payment of their salaries.

The governor said that all issues relating to payment of salaries would top his agenda as he assumed office and disclosed that a committee would be put in place by the government to address how the backlog of salaries would be paid and how to move the state forward.

Akeredolu said “I am aware of your pains and agony. I feel your pains and what you are going through, and I can see your sufferings that you are still able to put up these smiles as I can see everybody here without seven months salaries, I am surprised. No doubt, a labourer deserves his wages.

“A committee will soon be set up to address this salary issue, we are set to move forward and at the end of the day we will all win. Let’s join our hands to work together for the development of this state and I can assure you that with God on our side, we shall scale all obstacles to make Ondo great.”

He vowed not to receive any salary until he was able to put smiles on the faces of the workers, saying “For as long as you are not been paid your salaries for that long, your governor too cannot be paid his salary. A governor should not earn salaries when others are owed salaries.”

Akeredolu however solicited for the people’s support, urging them to be patient with his government and sustain the peace in the state saying “any act of thuggery will not find a place in this state.”

He said “I don’t need anybody’s two arms: they will see a different governor. I am particular about the touts going to work, not going to the street begging and disturbing the lives of the people. We will put an end to it.

All I need from the civil servants in the state is dedication. I want dedicated workers, you are the engine room of any government, with you, we can make Ondo State a better place. What I need is workers who are ready to work with me to move the state forward and I want you all to be prepared to work with me.”

He lamented the untapped bitumen resources in the state, assuring the people that in about two years, “we will be exporting bitumen” and pledged that Federal Government will commence cocoa rejuvenation in the state before March.

Akeredolu stressed the need to make agriculture the mainstay of the economy, calling on young graduates and idle hands in the state who engaged in street-begging and other vices to explore the opportunities available in the sector.

He however urged people to always say the truth, admitting that no human being is perfect, but said “be critical of your governor, be critical about our government but be constructive in your criticisms. We will run an open government.”

“We shall move forward, and we shall all team together to Ondo State forward. Let us be patient with this government, I beg all of you let us work together, we shall move forward.”
Source: Tribune

Lagos to break, recycle 400 seized commercial motorcycles

Lagos to crush, recycle 4000 seized Okada

•Bikes may be banned in Lekki, VI

Over 4000 commercial motorcycles seized for flouting the Lagos State Traffic Law 2012 will be crushed and recycled, Police Commissioner, Fatia Owoseni said yesterday.

The law prohibits Okada and tricycles also known as Keke Marwa from operating in at least 495 of the 9200 roads and routes across the state.

Owoseni told reporters at the Olusosun Refuse Dumpsite in Ojota that the clampdown on Okada was a fall out of the government’s renewed resolve to address the security issues since criminals operate mostly with okada

He said Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had directed the police and other security agencies to ensure the law is complied with.

The Commissioner said: “It would not be one-off. So far, we have impounded about 500 motorcycles since we started our renewed efforts and we now have a total of about 4, 000 bikes ready to be crushed. The law made provisions on how those motorcycles should be handled and the law also made provision on how to handle those that have flouted the law itself.”

According to Owoseni, the decision to crush and recycle the motorcycles accords with the law.

The enforcement, he said, would also affect Okada patrons, adding that mobile courts would be instituted to try offenders.

“The operators of the commercial motorcycles and those patronizing them, with time, you will get to see the Mobile Court going around to try some of those that have been arrested. What we are saying here is that we want people in Lagos to know that there is a law and the law is made for a purpose and if all of us obey the law and conform, the better for us.”

The government, Owoseni said, was considering banning okada in some areas, , starting with the Lekki and Victoria Island axis.

He frowned at the way Okada and Keke Maruwa flout the law, especially by not obeying traffic light, which in most cases lead to avoidable accident and death.

Acting Commissioner for Transportation, Olanrewaju Elegushi said commercial motorcycles have been warned to clear off restricted routes.

“We have an enforcement unit led by the Commissioner of Police, the Task Force on Environmental and Other Special Offences, the Divisional Police Officers and the Area Commanders. They have started enforcement and we came to see how far they have gone,” Elegushi said.
Source: The Nation

Presidency alerts on plot to divide Buhari, Osinbajo

​Presidency alleges plot to divide Buhari, Osinbajo

By Terhemba Daka, 

President Muhammadu Buhari

• Cautions against social media reports

The presidency yesterday raised the alarm over an alleged plot to cause a division between President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

It said that the government would not allow those it described as mischief makers to have their way. “Some people are trying to promote division and we are not going to allow that. This president and vice president worked together in tandem and we know they both have confidence in this nation,” the presidency said.

Reacting to trending discussions in the polity with some Nigerians comparing Buhari and Osinbajo, Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Babafemi Ojodu said the development was the handiwork of those who do not wish the country well.

“It is thoughtless. I also see it as a ploy by the opposition to cause an unnecessary division. It is a joint ticket, the president and the vice president were elected based on the manifesto of the party and since they were sworn in, they have been committed to implementing that manifesto.

“The same people who said we never had an economic team, no policy, nothing are the ones saying this. It is the policies we are now implementing and they are seeing the result. It is not a question of one person being better than the other person.

“There is nothing that has been done since the vice president started acting that is not something that started far back in the past. “A good example is the Niger Delta initiative. The president called the vice president and said I am giving you the mandate, go into the Niger Delta, meet with everyone who is a stakeholder, all the communities, talk to the militants and make sure you solve this problem for the benefit of Nigerians.

“We are losing 1.2 million barrels of oil per day, all the gas pipelines powering the turbines are being blown up. And the president has said unless and until we resolve this problem we will not get out of recession. The VP took up the mandate and went to the Niger Delta, it is the initiative of the president not that of the vice president,” Ojodu said.

According to the presidential aide, these “mischief makers” were responsible for the crisis in the polity and promotion of divisive tendencies, a development that would deny Nigerians the opportunity to benefit from the dividends of democracy.

Ojodu said Osinbajo “consults the president on a daily basis” concerning major decisions. “This is a joint ticket, the president of Nigeria remains the president of Nigeria. He is more experienced, he has been in the game longer than the vice president and if there are major issues that he needs to take decision on, he could call on him and say ‘sir, what do you think about this, we are about to take a decision on it’, that does not mean he is not in charge.”

Some of the changes that have taken place since Osinbajo became the acting president include a rapid return of peace to the Niger Delta due to his visits and parleys in the region. These visits have seen to the cessation of hostilities, thereby paving the way for the availability of gas that has improved electricity supply. Under Osinbajo, the foreign exchange crisis is being tackled with the naira appreciating from N520 to about N420 to a dollar yesterday. Unlike Buhari who neither commented nor took a decisive action to rein in killer herdsmen, Osinbajo quickly summoned the Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris when there were fresh killings in southern Kaduna.

On timing of the changes taking place, when the president is on an extended vacation in the United Kingdom (UK), the aide said: “One other thing you have to see is that if you give someone a responsibility, he must be able to show to the president that his not being around is not going to create any vacuum.

“He can then decide not to sleep at all, all through the time the president is away just to show him that he is capable of ensuring that Nigeria goes on well while the president is away. And the president could also have given the mandate that the vice president should let nothing go wrong. You must make sure that you do this. If you have a boss who gives you an assignment, you will want to impress him and Nigerians as well and that for me is what has happened. It is not that one person is better than the other, certainly not.”

Ojodu said he had seen some things sent out intentionally to cause some kind of division within the presidency. “Some people who have been condemning everybody in the past, I see them on twitter and on facebook and generally on social media.”

Reacting to clerics in Katsina allegedly propagating information on the president being poisoned, Ojodu urged reporters to be mindful of their choice of stories from the social media, as the channels, according to him, are becoming factory for fake news in Nigeria.

“A lot of things you see on social media can never be true. I saw them, I read them and I assessed them using the prism of these factors, those indices we use to analyse stories in the media and found out that they cannot be true.

“For example they said somebody kept N77 trillion somewhere, imagine that. What is the total value of Nigeria’s economy? Because somebody is keeping N77 trillion, some people want to poison him so that they can inherit the money. I mean we have a president whose integrity nobody in this country can question.”

According to Ojodu, “as a young officer, a middle officer, a senior officer and as a head of state till now, nobody has been able to tarnish Buhari’s image or come up with anything. For me, it is not even worth responding to, as soon as I read it, I dismissed it, it is so ridiculous.”
Source: The Guardian

PDP reps divided over support for Sheriff

​PDP Reps split over Sheriff, Makarfi’s crisis

Ali Modu-Sheriff

Olusola Fabiyi, John Ameh and Godwin Isenyo

The unending leadership crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party appears to be taking its toll on the unity of its members in the House of Representatives as the lawmakers can no longer speak with one voice on who to support between the National Chairman , Ali Modu Sheriff , and Ahmed Makarfi .

Investigations by The PUNCH , on Monday , showed that many members of the caucus were divided over the choice of Sheriff and the Makarfi – led National Caretaker Committee , which was sacked by the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt penultimate Friday.

The House Minority Leader, Mr . Leo Ogor , had summoned a caucus meeting last week soon after Sheriff was declared as the chairman by the appellate court .

The struggling opposition party controls less than 139 lawmakers out of the total of 360 in the House.

At the meeting, members were said to have agreed , as a caucus , to back the Makarfi – led faction .

The resolution of the meeting was later made public as the position of the caucus on the raging crisis .

On Monday , however , some members came out openly to distance themselves from the position of the caucus , saying they were not part of it.

One of the members, Mr . Adesegun Adekoya , said many lawmakers in both the Senate and the House were “ solidly ” behind Sheriff .

Adekoya , who represents Ijebu North /East / Ogun Waterside Federal Constituency, told The PUNCH that the “ so – called ” caucus position was non -existent.

He said , “ You can quote me anywhere any day . We are for Sheriff . As a lawmaker , I should not be a lawbreaker . All the people in my constituency, down to the last councillor, are for Sheriff .

“ In Ogun, we have two PDP members : myself and my second ( Adebutu Oladipupo ) . He is for Makarfi ; yes , that is his choice .

“ But , I am for Sheriff . That makes it 50 – 50 .

“ If you go to Osun State , Hon . Wole Oke is for Sheriff . Go and check in all the states , you will find out that many of us are for Sheriff .

“ See , my brother, there is one thing about politicians . When they are in the open , they will say one thing , but when it comes to voting, they will go the other way . They will surprise you .

“ That is why they always prefer secret voting because what they say in the open is not the truth. ”

In Ekiti State , where Governor Ayodele Fayose is a vocal supporter of the Makarfi – led faction , a member from Ekiti , Mr . Olamide Johnson- Oni , is for Sheriff .

Another member of the party from Edo State , Mr . Johnson Agbonayinma, told The PUNCH that some members had realised that they would have to be with Sheriff to be on the side of the law .

Agbonayinma, who contested the PDP governorship primaries in Edo State in 2016 , added , “ Members have realised that they are lawmakers and not law breakers.

“ Based on the decision of the court , we have to support Sheriff .

“ Why are people saying they are not with Sheriff ? He has won ; or is Sheriff not a member of the PDP?

“ More importantly , we are all PDP members ; it is not about victory for Sheriff or Makarfi , but Sheriff is the man , based on the decision of the court . ”

However , several members contacted by The PUNCH dismissed Adekoya ’ s position.

They described him as representing the “ few bad eggs” in the caucus , bent on destroying the opposition party .

One of the members from Adamawa State , Mr . Adamu Kamale , told The PUNCH that it was not possible that serious party members would team up with Sheriff .

Kamale added , “ It is not possible that I will be with Sheriff in what he is doing , same for most of our colleagues.

“ Sheriff has been working with strangers ; we don ’ t even know these people he carries around .

“ I recall vividly that there was a particular meeting he called ; when I went there as a PDP member to , at least find out the peace efforts being made , I was locked out .

“ How can a man , who keeps intimidating legitimate party members , claims that he is our leader ?”

Ogor claimed , however , that there was no division in the caucus .

He said Adekoya and those thinking in the same line with him were “just noisemakers . ”

Ogor , who is from Delta State , added , “ You will expect that some people will always want to cause trouble to seek attention .

“ The caucus met and took a position . We all agreed that Makarfi is the one in charge of affairs of the PDP and we are with him .

“ All these people talking about Sheriff should be ignored . We don ’ t know Sheriff . ”

At the inauguration of the current 8 th Assembly in June 2015 , the PDP controlled 139 out of the 360 members of the House.

But , in the months following the factional crisis , some members seized the opportunity to defect to the ruling All Progressives Congress .

Only on Wednesday last week, Mr . Emmanuel Ukoette from Akwa Ibom State , a PDP stronghold, also defected to the APC on the floor of the House.

Like others before him , Ukoette cited the factional crisis as his reason for shifting his political party platform .

Sheriff, Makarfi clash over secretariat

Meanwhile , Sheriff and Makarfi groups are at the brink of another clash over the plan of Sheriff to re -open the party ’ s national secretariat.

The two parties also accused each other of either blackmailing the Supreme Court or attempting to pre -empt the impending appeal before the apex court .

The secretariat, which had been locked since May 2016 , was forcefully opened by Sheriff and his members of the National Working Committee on Friday.

He stated that he took the action following the favourable judgment he got from the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, Rivers State , on February 17 .

But the sacked caretaker committee asked Sheriff to vacate the party ’ s national secretariat immediately.

It said Sheriff should await the Supreme Court judgment on the matter .

Spokesperson for the faction , Dayo Adeyeye , who stated this at a press briefing in Abuja on Monday , also accused the police of working in favour of the former governor of Borno State in the crisis .

Adeyeye , a former Minister of State for Works, said Sheriff must leave the secretariat in order to avoid a breakdown of law and order.

Sheriff also declared that all the activities and programmes done by the Makarfi group , in the name of the PDP, were illegal .

Saying the case was still in court , Adeyeye said the police must ensure that Sheriff and others “ are not allowed to use the secretariat , ” adding that the status quo ante must be maintained until the determination of the appeal before the Supreme Court .

Adeyeye added , “It is common knowledge that Sheriff and co . forcefully broke into the national secretariat of the party around 6 pm on Friday, February 24 , 2017 .

“ The keys of the national secretariat are with the Board of Trustees , who are the custodians of the assets of the party .

“ We know that the keys of the secretariat are still with the BoT but Sheriff entered by breaking the doors in an action totally unbecoming of a person who had been governor of a state , Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , and also claiming to be a national chairman of a major political party .

“ We therefore demand that Senator Sheriff and co vacate the national secretariat immediately.

“ We have stated several times that the APC has its hands deep in the PDP crisis . There is no doubt that Sheriff ’ s activities against the PDP are being aided and abetted by the APC.

“ For the record , just last week, the Governor of Imo State , Rochas Okorocha , gave unsolicited advice that we should support Senator Sheriff .

“ That is one instance of their meddlesomeness in the PDP affairs. No doubt that Okorocha and co are happy that their man won at the Appeal Court but very much afraid that he could lose at the Supreme Court . ”

Adeyeye alleged that Sheriff and his group had perfected plans to receive non – serving state executive committees of the party at its national secretariat in order to give an impression that he had been accepted by the party ’ s organs .

Speaking for the Sheriff – led PDP , a former political adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan , Ahmed Gulak , said , “The Supreme Court belongs to all Nigerians . They have been talking and grandstanding as if the Supreme Court belongs to them .

“ They said they will get judgment from the Supreme Court as if it is their institution . They should stop blackmailing the Supreme Court .

“ This party is bigger than everybody . The law does not see your face . It is not a popularity contest and I must say that the law is the law . ”

Gulak , who spoke in company with the acting Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr . Bernard Mikko , also justified their entry into the party secretariat.

He stated that the complex was opened to them after the Court of Appeal judgment , noting that both camps had agreed not to head for the apex court .

He said , “ It is a fact that the former Inspector – General of Police , Mr . Solomon Arase , with the consent of both factions , closed the secretariat of the PDP and both sides agreed because of the conflicting court judgments .

“ Both parties agreed that in order to pursue genuine reconciliation, nobody should pursue the case again at Supreme Court .

“ All the things that the Makarfi group has done before the judgement are illegal and cannot stand. ”

Also , the PDP in Kaduna State vowed never to support the Sheriff ’ s NWC .

Kaduna State chapter of the party described Sheriff ’ s reinstatement by the appellate court as an act of impunity, which was against the constitution of the party .

They also declared that the state executives and members were loyal and answerable to the Makarfi – led National Caretaker Committee.

The party stated its decision through a communiqué signed by the Chairman , Drafting Committee, Dr . John Ayuba , after the party ’ s meeting in Kaduna .

The communiqué read in part, “ Members of the PDP in Kaduna State should not lose focus of where we are going as we know where we are coming from . We must face the current challenges headlong to ensure that we change the change come 2019 .

“ The PDP in Kaduna State remains united , strong, resolute , steadfast and solidly loyal and answerable to the National Caretaker Committee under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi . ”
Source: The Punch

The civil servant in recession and inflation

The civil servant in recession and inflation

Muhammad Ajah

HOW are civil servants coping with life under recession and high inflation? Today, there are public servants whose monthly salary is less than N25,000. That is US$50 if a dollar is equated to N500. This is not to talk of the state government workers who get far less than that. One is, therefore, pained the more considering the fact that the minimum wage of N18,000 has not been implemented by some states over five years since it was enacted. Maybe there is no mechanism for enforcement of this law. Yet, wonderfully, the government engines are working and they are expected to be maximally productive, corrupt-free and patriotic. Nonetheless, many of these lovely country people are doing their best to keep their national and state obligations sacred. But alas! Their rewards are in heaven!

Most civil servants have been living on the mercy of God. The salaries they get are not realistic because the cost of living has risen to unbearable height. It is surprising that the government is foot-dragging in making any quick increase in the wages of these meek lambs. This policy of underpaying and expecting high productivity is of the colonial era and not democracy. Though the recession has dealt with the government itself, it must be a matter of national emergency to improve the salaries and welfare packages of the real government labourers, with the high hope that the economy will get better. No one in Nigeria today does not complain of hardship. Generally, there is no more free money. I think the rich have more complaints than the poor; a terrible situation that heralds the reluctant justice in the distribution and utilization of the commonwealth. Maybe the private sector is still better because they control the prices of commodities. Though they base their calculations on government provision of basic amenities which are mostly lacking, they are mostly capitalists and everything centers on profit – huge profits. The government creates the vicious circle because the primary requirements for businesses are expensive and also insufficient and inefficient.

The means of transportation and production are exorbitant. Transporters and producers therefore capitalize on the high cost of machines, electricity, fuel/diesel, amongst others to cheat the masses. According to the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, the illegal fees collected on Nigerian roads by the Army, police, Customs and local/state government agents are responsible for the hike in the cost of commodities. The private workers need not wait till the end of the month to earn a living. But, the civil servants whose salaries have remained paltry and static are always at the receiving end.

Especially for the junior workers who get little above N20,000, life is miserable. How a single mature citizen survives on this amount is a miracle. For those who are married and have children, life is hell. Some families have been broken because of this. Parents quarrel over household demands: feeding, accommodation (rent), school fees/requirements, utility bills and medicals. Unfortunately, some female partners secretly engage in unholy acts to complement the male’s efforts and vice versa. The children of these workers do not go to school; some go halfway and are chased back home for school fees; some allow their grown-ups to go into unholy acts to meet up. Child abuse and labour are natural companions of the low income earners in the public sector.

A holistic analysis of the conditions of the civil servants attracts sympathy and fears for the nation. They are accused of being the engineers of corruption. While the politicians come overnight and lord it over the civil servants, they teach the politicians the job and still remain poor. And by the time the politician finishes his or her tenure, the story turns the other way round that the money belonging to the government and the people has been looted. It is true that some workers are corrupt, especially those who see/keep funds or make decisions for the diversion of the money for personal use. But the low income earners depend on the gifts from their superiors and contractors. In that case, a file in a public office must be pushed to the next desk/office with a bribe which is subtly called gratification/gift. And before now, a contractor must have parted away with over half of the contract value before the contract is eventually handed over. It was 10% unconditional payback and conditionally anything above half of the contract money. The situation is unpredictable with this recession, inflation in prices and war on corruption by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government.

Most houses in the cities are vacant because the rent is high. This is despite the fact that rents have reduced with the present reality. 90 percent of the civil servants live in the suburbs where all kinds of affordable houses are erected for them or by themselves. For instance, in Abuja, civil servants live outside the Abuja Municipal where their offices are located

Ajah writes in from Abuja