Sunday, 30 September 2012

Video: Nigerian Diplomats join poor Nations in UN wasteful Spending Spree!

U.N. delegation visitors from some of the world's poorest countries are spending lavishly in New York City during the General Assembly

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As diplomats congregate for the United Nations General Assembly, delegations from some of the poorest countries in the world are spending extravagantly in New York City while their homelands struggle, NBC 4 New York's I-Team has discovered. 
“The lavish spending is just endemic of autocratic politics as a whole,” said Alastair Smith, a politics professor from New York University and co-author of “The Diplomat’s Handbook.”
He believes the U.N.’s Manhattan address has become a distraction from the intended work of the General Assembly.
“They are here for the shopping, the food the wine, the dining. If it was in a less attractive place, I'm sure fewer people would want to come as hangers-on,” said Smith.
On Monday, I-Team cameras found several visitors with the U.N. delegation from Swaziland walking out of high-end retailer Bergdorf Goodman. The women had Bergdorf Goodman shopping bags, though they said the items inside were just gifts.
According to U.N. data, nearly 70 percent of Swazi people survive on less than $2 a day. The nation has one of the highest AIDS rates: 18 percent of the population is HIV positive.
Despite those struggles back home, numerous members of the Swaziland U.N. entourage are staying at the luxury Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the I-Team has learned.
Also staying at the Mandarin Oriental were members of the delegation from Togo. According to one U.N. report, 2.4 million Togolese citizens live on less than $1.25 a day.
Diplomats from Gabon were staying at the Plaza Hotel, where rooms go for a $1,000 to $15,000 a night.
Nigeria’s delegation is keeping five vehicles parked outside the Pierre Hotel where the cheapest room is about $800 a night – or roughly what most Nigerians earn in two years.
At the Waldorf-Astoria, where rooms are between $800 and $9,000 a night, the I-Team found the delegation from Mali, a country where 4.6 million people are battling starvation. A recent U.N. report found Mali is the third poorest nation in the world with a poverty rate near 87 percent.
To be fair, not every poor nation spent so much for hotel accommodations: Members of the Tanzania delegation were found staying at a DoubleTree hotel in Midtown.
Although it may be unseemly for diplomats from poor countries to live ostentatiously during their stays in Manhattan, advocates for business point out there is an undeniable upside to much of the diplomatic extravagance – the boon for New York City’s local economy.
"I don't think it is really up to us to moderate the type of spending that comes from other countries. That's their business,” said Nancy Ploeger, president of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “What I'm concerned with is the economic impact on this city. I like the money. I want the money!"
None of the permanent missions to the UN from Togo, Swaziland, Gabon, Mali or Nigeria returned calls or emails relating to this story.
Nonprofits that monitor developing nations are also becoming increasingly sensitive to the issue of third world rulers spending lavishly abroad.
The group “100 Reporters” is actually holding a contest asking New Yorkers to snap photos of UN diplomats spending ostentatiously.
By one estimate, the ruling classes of third-world nations divert as much as $1 trillion from their developing economies to spend and invest the funds in the U.S. and other Western nations.
“The real underlying motivation for the movement of so much money out of developing countries is the hidden accumulation of wealth,” said Raymond Baker, executive director of Global Financial Integrity, a nonprofit watchdog that monitors capital flows into and out of impoverished countries.
“This is about getting rich secretly and not having to distribute those funds locally,” Baker said.Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Video: President Jonathan address United Nations GA 67th session, UN Headquarters in New York.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

STAR ARTICLE! GEJ's bad conscience is worrisome. Professor Wole Soyinka

GEJ's bad conscience is worrisome. Professor Wole Soyinka writes on President Jonathan's accusation about #OCCUPYNIGERIA protesters being bribed with pure water and food.

The most generous response that can be given to President Jonathan's recent statement on the people's fuel subsidy protest is that he is suffering from a bad conscience. The worst – which I fear is closer to the truth – is that he is lamentably alienated from the true pulse of the nation, thanks perhaps to the poor, eager-to-please quality of his analysts, those who are supposed to provide him an accurate feel of the public mood. Since I have had the opportunity to contest this perception of the protest with him directly, it is clear what kind of interpretative diet he prefers. The nation needs all the luck it can get. 

The president sent in the army and shock Police squads to forcibly seize and occupy grounds from a demonstrating public, a violation of the people's rights as entrenched in the constitution, a right – as it happens – that has been further consolidated by a pronouncement of the courts of law. This should be seen as a grave danger to democracy, and a warning. Both the participants, and those who – myself included – even though unable to be present, lent both vocal and moral support to the demonstration, have been maligned and insulted by such reductionist reasoning. The culture of public protest appears to be alien territory to President Jonathan, which is somewhat surprising, considering the fact that he has not only lived in this nation as a citizen but served in various political offices. He has lived through the terror reign of Sanni Abacha whose ruthless misuse of the military and the secret service did not prevent demonstrations against perceived injustice and truncation of people's rights.

Jonathan's pronouncements truly boggle the mind. What is this obsession with bottled water, comedians and musical artists? Must demonstrators drink water from the gutter? Is protest no longer viable when sympathizers cater to their needs, supply decent water and food rations? And since when have entertainers been deemed a sign of unseriousness in a protest rally. Static or moving, demonstrators boost their morale in any way they can, including dancing and even mini-carnivals. Sit-down occupation and hunger strikes are also legitimate public weaponry against unacceptable state conduct and policies. It may interest the president to know that during the SNG protest march on the legislative houses, a march, not for any individual, but for the sanctity of the constitutional rules of succession, discussions were on for the acquisition of Mobile Toilets for the next stage, in case the protests attained the momentum of continuous encampment. Presumably Jonathan would have preferred to march into office over a field of human waste.

What is especially ominous in Jonathan's distortive re-visit of that campaign is his attitude of self-commendation, from which one deduces a clear intent to repeat the same action if the people choose to exercise their right of assembly in the future. It sounds warning of a state of mind infected by one of his predecessors who was never weaned of his military antecedents, a predisposition to intolerance of dissent that was expressed in mindless muscularity and contempt of judicial decisions. We should not wait for a tragedy to happen before we serve notice that democracy is incompatible with the arbitrary deployment of armed forces against a people gathered or marching peacefully in freedom, articulating their grievances with or without accompaniment of songs, clowns, water sachets or bottled water. The reaction of the public to attempts at military intimidation is always unpredictable – government at the centre should know its limitations, act responsibly, and refrain from incursions that override even the expressed wishes of state governors, and the rights of a people rendered fractious by decades of misgovernment.

Let there be no further attempts at revisionism. The Nigerian people's right to gather and protest remains inviolate. Gani Fawehinmi
Park – and any place of choice for a people's assembly – is a people's space. It should never again be invested by menace and attempted coercion.

Wole Soyinka

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Video: Senseless & meaningless Movie by 'Sam Becile' that caused protest & led to the Killing of US Ambassador

It is Important our Muslim compatriots watch the Idiotic video so they can make informed judgement. I am sure no true Muslim would KILL 4 such and no sane Christian would support such meaningless movie meant to provoke anger and hatred amongst people. When you watch the video any right thinking person would come to the conclusion that the best response is condemnation and peaceful protest and not the killing of innocent people.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Nigerian Aviation Flying Coffins: Stella Oduah is Overwhelmed! Scream for Help!

Call me Unpatriotic but the last time I flew any NIGERIAN OPERATED airline internationally was probably before I was born. I do fly them locally, not that I have any other choice, I just take it that an hour of risk is 'safer' than 6 to 12 hours of risk flying what is now known in local jokes as a 'Nigerian Flying Coffin'

Nigeria Airways used to be the pride of Nigeria, it had its own problems but it ran well until it became a private taxi for public officers, they hop in and out with complimentary tickets and ran the airline aground.

Today it is better to crash knowing the airline you are flying is able to fulfill its commitment to your dependents’ and your government will see to it that the airlines are held to account for all obligations outlined in the terms and conditions of flying.

Airlines crash all over the world but it is double jeopardy knowing if you have the misfortune of being in a plane crash in Nigeria you are basically on your own.

Aviation Minister Stella Oduah appears to be out of her depth and does not seem to appreciate the monumental crisis facing that industry, she started her reign waging a price battle with British Airways and jumping on any opportunistic populist campaign that will get the fancy of an elite blinded by 'patriotism' she then opted for 'redesigning the airports' a long overdue intervention but not when it is at the expense of regulating the regulators, from NCAA to FAAN corruption was eating deep, regulators became complacent, stories of checks not being carried out but certification issues, Stella Oduah did not help matters with her reputed involvement in the sale of Aviation Fuel Jet A1 and interest in a company supplying aviation fuel to airlines, the Minister appears to be on a trial and error mission, anything to get the attention of a gullible mass will do, the aviation industry is a far cry from 2011 'neighbour to neighbour' campaign directorship, it is serious business requiring innovation and gut, well one should not blame Ms Oduah, ministers before her did not really do much to save Nigeria from what is fast becoming a National disgrace. A number of aviation ministers who attempted a revolutionary change in the industry did not last.

Successive Presidents see the aviation ministry as a place to source foreign exchange for the President and associates; appointments in the aviation sector are based more on political expediency than professionalism.

From chronic corruption in the sector from top to bottom to the use of adulterated jet A1 fuel, to regulators developing extremely cozy relationship with airline operators, and in many cases compromising safety, Nigeria is running a motor park aviation industry. 

One of the worst area is the Aviation Security Unit, underfunded, and emphases placed more on the screening area for the benefit of ICAO inspectors, with a compromised baggage screening system after check in, it is a shame that we are yet to equip our airports with secondary screening equipment’s. A lot said about the porous perimeter fencing at the Lagos International Airport.

Those who man our airports require training that meets international standards and equipment’s that would make them do the job well.

It is a fact that the industry is facing trying times globally but safety should not be compromised at the expediency of profit.
Even if it means the airlines merging to run a smaller but safe and effective fleet, something urgent must be done.

The aviation industry should not be a hobby for former public office holders, in need of a place to ‘invest’ stolen funds; it takes commitment and love for the industry and the strength of wanting to create a global brand. The Minister should check the number of licence issued to private operators and the ALL COMERS policy of any money bag establishing a airline at the slightest opportunity.

NO Nigerian airline can pass the SAFETY test as we are today, from Arik to Dana and others it’s been a game of survival of the smartest.

Aviation experts must come to the aid of the Nigerian government even if it means declaring a state of emergency. In our country the roads are DEATH TRAPS and the sky is now almost a sure route to depart the world. Every landing should no longer be a MIRACLE it should be assured that you will reach your destination and if you don’t, investigations would be carried out, and our country would learn from every mistake made.

It is never too late for Ms Oduah to provide leadership, seriously call stake holders and save Nigerian aviation industry from imminent collapse. She is sure going to get the backing of Nigerians. Right now Ms Oduah is acting more like a chief mourner, waiting for the next plane crash.

Kayode Ogundamisi

Friday, 7 September 2012

Farewell Elder Gwaza! You made Jos Prison a loving home for me! Kayode Ogundamisi

Jos Prison

Jos prison in Nigeria was once my home, in that prison built by the colonial masters I met "Elder Gwaza a Tiv man from Nigeria's Benue State, by the time I met him in the 90's he had been at the AT (Awaiting Trial) wing of the prison for 9 years. He was later set free thanks to the efforts of the then active Civil Liberties Organisation (Either led by Titus Mann or Steve Aluko (aka Maradona) the former ABU SUG President.)

Gwaza made Jos prison home away from home to me and later Benjamin Okonofua who later joined me, as General Babangida felt that was the only place fit for Nigerian Students activists. Elder Gwaza a living Encyclopædia on the politics of the middle belt, during my stay in Jos prison served as my teacher and guardian angel, I maintained a close relationship with him until I departed Nigeria in 1999 and thanks to him I had my only experience of the exotic Tiv Kwagh-hir Festival.

I promised Elder Gwaza a trip to the land of my ancestors Ikare Akoko in Ondo State. As I plan to visit Ikare on a long term basis I initiated contact just few days ago with Gwaza’s family, so I can fulfill that promise, only to be told he’s long gone, he’s gone to join his ancestors at the age of 92 but he left me a long letter, a letter I can’t wait to read.

If it is true that those who leave us can read I want to let Elder Gwaza know that I appreciate all his love and affection. I am glad I made time out to visit him three times in Benue. So sorry I did not fulfill my promise to take him to Ikare.

Rest in peace Gwaza. Rest until we meet at God’s chosen time.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Goodluck Jonathan's problems are his "FACEBOOK FRIENDS". Segun Adeniyi

The real problem this president is facing is from his social media “friends”, the crowd he carefully cultivated and set out to please as the first “Nigerian Facebook President”. Unfortunately, he ought to have been warned that the social media can cut both ways. So if he in 2010 enjoyed public adulation at the expense of the “Yar’Adua cabal”, it is naïve not to understand that he is playing in a jungle where rumour peddling, hate mongering, bitter retorts, malicious gossips and innuendoes are also fair games.
Without conducting a poll or a content analysis, Dr Goodluck Jonathan has declared himself the most criticized president in the world. That I guess is what he is being told by some favour-seeking politicians and ‘media consultants’. But from experience I know why the people who peddle those tales to the president do so: one, to make

his media managers look bad; two, to bring in their own men if possible; and three, to make money. Before I however conclude on what President Jonathan’s real problem is, I want to share my experience with the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on this same issue.

In my first year working for him, I was aware that many people were telling my late principal how his efforts were not appreciated by Nigerians because of media opposition. Both the Minister of Information, Mr John Odey, and myself were blamed for this situation. These were, however, mere whispering campaigns until the day I got a document from the president directing me and Odey to read before meeting with him to discuss it. The document in question was a media strategy paper from one of the aides retained from the President Olusegun Obasanjo era. Even though the man wrote that it was strictly a secret paper, the president forwarded copies to myself and Odey.

The paper brought to the fore the challenges I faced and which I think any serious journalist in government would face. My understanding of an effective media strategy was for government to address the issues critics were raising and that was the approach I adopted which my late principal appreciated even though there was also pressure on him that by not “fighting back”, I was not showing enough commitment to his administration. This was the same argument advanced in the ten-page paper which the author apparently never imagined would come back to me.

The “foundation” to the submission, according to the man, centered on the fact that “Nigeria is today being led by a visionary, self-less and committed leader but how many Nigerians know about him or his vision? Whereas government has done so much and achieved positive results in so short a time, most of the achievements are not known to the public and other critical constituencies, largely because of the barrage of negative press coming out of the Nigerian and international media—both in hardcopies of Nigerian newspapers and other internet media.”

According to the official who incidentally was brought to the villa by Obasanjo, and is a Yorubaman, a good media manager should be able to sell Yar’Adua’s “gentle mien and approach (dialogue and consensus building) in contrasts to President Obasanjo’s aggressive and combative approach” aside Yar’Adua’s “personal integrity and simplicity which Nigerian masses can identify with and the ambitious vision 20-20-20 can be positively projected for maximum redefining.”

After the long preamble, the official now recommended a Media and Information Management Team which would require “co-option of good writers drawn from editors of Nigerian newspapers” to be domiciled in his office! There were other recommendations that would require huge capital outlay for both domestic and international propaganda.

When I got a copy of this paper with a directive that myself, Odey and the man should meet with him (Yar’Adua) four days later, I could not contain my anger as I sent a memo back to the president that same day. I am reproducing excerpts from my memo which underscores my own understanding of what I consider to be the role of a journalist in government.

“I have received an invitation to a meeting with Your Excellency on Monday with an accompanying document on ‘Media and Information Management’ and I hasten to say that the meeting is not only unnecessary, the motive behind it is unfortunate. I wish to inform Your Excellency that the so-called strategy paper is a rehash of an eight million Dollar proposal from a consultant promoted by…to me upon assuming office last year but which I turned down because I believed then, and even more so now, that that is not the way to go.

“While I will in a separate paper counter each of the false assumptions which inform the conclusion that there is information management deficit, I wish to reiterate my stand that on balance, this government and indeed President Yar’Adua has a relatively fair media image. While it can be better, the approach being proposed is unnecessary, wasteful and will at the end be counterproductive.

“This ridiculous idea of selective newspaper cuttings (of negative media news reports or articles) to the president has a purpose: either to portray me as incompetent or create the image of a media siege so that some consultants (and necessarily huge resources) can be deployed to combat this exaggerated problem. While some people can bring in ‘experts’ who they assume have the magic wand to ensure that the media begin to celebrate the president and the government without any criticism, the problem is that the only beneficiaries of such self-deluding enterprise are the consultants and their promoters, not the president or the government.

“Your Excellency, I scan the Nigerian media everyday and I also do same for American and British media and I am aware our media is not as cynical and contemptuous of their government and the man in power as the British or American media. While some people have issues with the style of government, there is still a general perception that the president is a man of integrity and has his plan but rather slow in his approach. Because some key issues like power emergency/Niger Delta Summit/Infrastructure are yet to be resolved, I am aware of current media challenge. But I also know that this can be an advantage because when the media create low expectations, as they do now, results will be easy to see and appreciate as it would ultimately happen in this instance. On the other hand, when you pump the people up with expensive media propaganda, then you create problem when results don’t match expectations…”

After reading my memo, President Yar’Adua cancelled the meeting earlier called and just directed that myself, Odey and the man should iron out the issue. Not surprisingly, the man felt so small at our meeting chaired by Odey and three weeks later, he was sacked by the president. But it would not be the end of the intrigues I would survive in the villa nor of the constant bombardment of the president with insinuation that the media was his problem.

Now that President Jonathan is also facing a barrage of criticism, he has promised to be “the most praised president” by 2013. If I understand that statement clearly, what it means is that the critics are justified because the president has not met their expectations and that by next year, his performance would have been such that they would begin to sing his praise. But we all know that is not what President Jonathan meant to convey. He feels he is being unfairly attacked by the media.

That, however, is not true. The fact is that the conventional media is not more critical of President Jonathan than his predecessors. The real problem this president is facing is from his social media “friends”, the crowd he carefully cultivated and set out to please as the first “Nigerian Facebook President”. Unfortunately, he ought to have been warned that the social media can cut both ways. So if he in 2010 enjoyed public adulation at the expense of the “Yar’Adua cabal”, it is naïve not to understand that he is playing in a jungle where rumour peddling, hate mongering, bitter retorts, malicious gossips and innuendoes are also fair games.

It is, however, patently dishonest for his handlers to argue that those who criticize or hurl personal abuse at the president do so because he is from Niger Delta (or whatever other ridiculous reasons being invented). No, it is because he is the president of Nigeria while his implacable traducers even enjoy attacking him for the simple reason that he has made them to know that they are getting to him.

What makes the situation so pathetic is that those close to the president refuse to locate when the real problem began, especially with regards to genuine supporters who now feel disappointed. It all started in January following the sudden withdrawal of fuel subsidy on the first day of the year. Not only was the timing inauspicious (with many still in their villages) there was also the question of trust since government officials had announced that the policy (which by the way I wholeheartedly endorse) would not commence until the second quarter of the year.

To compound the situation, revelations began to come from the probe of fuel subsidy payments in 2011 of how billions (in Dollar) of public funds were practically shared by some unscrupulous marketers and their government collaborators, all under President Jonathan’s watch. Then, on a rare interview on national television which was watched by many Nigerians (at home and in the Diaspora), he angrily proclaimed that he doesn’t give a damn about what people feel on his refusal to publicly declare his assets. With all these, the president frittered away enormous goodwill though there is still time to make amends not with the critics but with the silent majority of Nigerians who only desire good leadership and appreciate genuine efforts.

What Dr Goodluck Jonathan must, however, come to terms with is that presidents don’t crave momentary applause as he seems to be doing; they target history. To his credit, the power situation has improved significantly but the things that would earn him enduring legacy in the sector (or in any other sector for that matter) are not necessarily decisions that would provoke instant praise. The way things are in Nigeria today, the president is like a man charged with leading an orchestra. To succeed, he must learn to back the crowd.

But here is the greater lesson for President Jonathan: Asked on Monday how he took actor Clint Eastwood’s bizarre attack on him (characterised by an empty chair) at the Republican Convention, President Barack Obama said: “One thing about being president or running for president—if you’re easily offended, you should probably choose another profession.”