Monday, 18 February 2013
Whatever PACT made by characters within the PDP is not binding on Nigerians. What those who want to unseat Ebele should be doing would be to articulate views to Nigerians on how they hope to stop the free-fall into CLUELESSNES that is reigning supreme in the Nigerian Presidency.
Jonathan’s opponents should seek a mandate from Nigerians. Campaign based on issues and what they can do better than the Pharaoh of Aso Rock, any attempt to stop Ebele from contesting in 2015 would be admitting that his opponents can’t defeat him in OPEN PLAY.
Nigerians should be giving an opportunity to vote another 4 YEARS OF “FRESH AIR” or seek an alternative. Ebele must not only run in 2015 but run so people like us would be able to know if Nigerians are indeed enjoying Ebele’s FRESH AIR. Let the voters decide.
Sunday, 17 February 2013
The resurrection of FAKA JONATHAN.
“It was not an easy experience for me,”
'Mrs. Jonathan told the congregation which included senior government officials.' Premium Times NG
"I actually died. I passed out for more than a week. My intestine and tummy were opened.
I am not Lazarus but my experience was similar to his. My doctors said all hope was lost. It was God himself in His infinite mercy that said I will return to Nigeria. God woke me up after seven days. It is the Lord’s doing that I returned alive, When God says yes, nobody can say no. People are always afraid of operation. But in my own case, while my travail lasted, I was begging for it after the third operation because I was going to the theatre every day. It was God who saw me through. I did eight or nine operations within one month. I know that some people somehow leaked the information that I was dead. They are people that I trust and rely on. To them, I was dead and I would never return to the country alive, Some of them even sold my things off. I won’t say everything here. It was not an easy one. The day I came back, I said God I have nothing to say, I offer myself to you. I will be doing things that will touch the lives of the less privilege. God gave me a second chance because I reached there. He knew I had not completed the assignments He gave me that was why I was sent back." Patience FAKA Jonathan
("Dame" Faka is the publicly known wife of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. She resides in Abuja the capital city of Nigeria)
Saturday, 16 February 2013
Kidnapping is now a big business in Nigeria and what is worrying is how underreported the scourge is, what you read in the media are simply a very low percentage of the real case of abduction in Nigeria.
A friend’s father in-law who is a retired public servant, over 70 years old, he came visiting the UK and simply refused to return to Nigeria.
Here is a man who is not only comfortable back home but ALL is children are upper class professionals, he loves his country and he served his homeland, he deserves to rest in his old age and live in peace. When I met with him, he stated that not less than 9 of his friends have either been kidnapped, or have relatives kidnapped and the least ransom paid was 35 Million Naira.
He even mentioned a case of ransom being paid trough a local Divisional Police Officer (DPO) who advised them not to involve the press.
I also had a friend who returned to Nigeria from Scotland to join a local telecommunication firm as an IT consultant, when he was leaving Scotland he called to proudly announce his departure and emphasised he’s glad to say good bye to the UK. He left with his family, his returning 14 year old daughter was kidnapped and not only did he pay for her safe return but he was locked up for alleging police complicity and non action. Now he’s back in the UK. Sold his inherited properties in Nigeria and now job hunting, when he called me, I could sense fear and frustration, he said “I AM NEVER GOING TO DISCUSS NIGERIA EVER AGAIN” all trough the time of the trauma, the kidnapers threatened to rape his 14 year old daughter, an innocent girl, born in the UK but happy to be in Nigeria a country where she’s not known as an “ETHNIC MINORITY”. Now that young girl can only remember the dingy den of kidnapers and her 23 days of trauma.
Nigerian Law makers must expedite action in increasing the prison terms for kidnapers, we have to recognise that it is now becoming an epidemic and that kidnaping is now not limited to the upper class of society, I read of a young boy kidnapped in Abule Egba Lagos Nigeria and the kidnapers demanded a ransom of 200 thousand Naira.
The kidnapers finally let the poor boy go and settled for 140 thousand Naira (£600) when the teacher father told them they could keep the boy.
From information available, bank officials are proving to be tools in handling funds for not just kidnapers, but other fraudsters, if we are to attract the best of our diaspora community we have to put our acts together, checking kidnaping is also in the interest of Nigerians based in Nigeria. It is a rising terrorist act that must be nipped in the bud.
True we have a ruling elite that are kidnaping our commonwealth daily but that should not be a reason for evil to reign supreme in our homeland.
Friday, 15 February 2013
Monday, 11 February 2013
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God,
I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
Saturday, 9 February 2013
Are you a Nigerian Christian? Before you pay Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission READ ATACHED LETTER FIRST!
30th November, 2012
The Executive Secretary
Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission
... (via e-mail)
Dear Mr. J. K. Opara,
RE: LETTER OF COMPLAINT
This is the last thing I should be doing after a supposed ‘pilgrimage’.
I saw UCB’s advertisement of Holy Land Tours in one of the issues of Word for Today which I got from the United Kingdom. I started to contact a gentleman called Chris for information. Of course, he was extremely responsive and helpful. In the course of getting myself ready to go with UCB I found out that I had to get a visa to Jordan as the Tour includes Jordan. In a nutshell, I contacted my Jordanian friend Nisreen who was willing to help, but advised as someone who had once worked in Jordan’s Ministry of Tourism, that it was better to go with a tour company from one’s country. I heeded Nisreen’s advise.
My first port of call was the Lagos State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alausa (LASPWB). I was so excited I could not wait till the Forms became available. I purchased mine on 21st March, 2012, shortly after I got the news that the Forms were available. I was the 74th person who purchased the Forms. I have attached a copy of the Lagos State Government Treasury Receipt (No.02730135), to this letter.
I encouraged an elderly couple in my church Deacon Bola and Mrs. Ronke Balogun who had told me they wanted to go to Israel to purchase their Forms from the LASPWB. Shortly after they did they were told that the Federal Government is the co-coordinator of the all Pilgrimage exercises in the nation; Deacon and Mrs. Balogun were thus encouraged to abandon all plans to go with the Lagos State Government and go to Israel with the Federal Government of Nigeria. I remember Deacon Balogun calling me rooting for the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC). Needless to say I went online conducted a search on Google and got some information about the NCPC. I printed out the Forms and later paid for it at the Ikosi Branch of Diamond Bank.
I started to have troubles with NCPC as soon as I bought the Forms; I found I was calling NCPC all the time making enquiries, seeking information that ordinarily should be available even on the NCPC website. I found that quite harrowing, to say the least. I still have a text 2
message on my handset telling a staff of NCPC that I hoped I would not regret going with NCPC to Israel. NCPC should learn from the likes of Chris (above).
A friend of mine told me sometime in December, 2011 year that she could get us to go to Israel on the bill of the Government. I was not interested in that at all, I simply did not want to be at anyone’s mercy. The Lord provided and I was able to pay for the package Four Hundred and Six Thousand One Hundred and Fifty Naira (N406,150.00). I also paid the sum of One Hundred and Eight Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty Naira (N108,750) for the Seven Hundred and Fifty United States Dollars (US$750.00) Traveler’s Allowance. I sent an e-mail to a female staff of NCPC forwarding copies of the receipts from UBA and included a note reiterating things NCPC through its staff had made me understand that were included in the package I had paid for. The list of things included payment for accommodation in 4* and 5* hotels. I have attached a copy of the e-mail to this letter.
I encouraged friends to come along with me, thank God none of them did. I also thank God Deacon & Mrs. Balogun did not go as well.
On 17th October, 2012 I received a text message from NCPC noting in its words ‘a final confirmation’ of my flight to Israel on 31st October, 2012. On Monday 29th November, 2012 I received a call from a male staff of NCPC telling me that he was not sure if my visa was ready… I cannot describe my shock and confusion at the time. In order to understand what the man said I said to him, ‘I don’t understand’. The man retorted ‘what part don’t you understand’. I thought that was extremely rude, but I guess he is one of those people who are by nature tactless. I simply needed him to explain why NCPC had confirmed my flight if it had not received the result of the visa application, in whatever form, it must have made to the Israeli Government. He told me he would call me back forty five (45) minutes after our conversation to confirm the status of my visa. He did not call back till the evening of the following day (less than 24 hours to the time I had been advised to get to the airport) to tell me I couldn’t travel because my visa was not ready. I received another text on 4th November, 2012 confirming Friday, 9th November, 2012 for departure. I then sent a text message to a staff of NCPC to confirm if my visa had been issued, I never got a response. Well, by the text message of 4th November, 2012 we were advised to get to the airport by 4pm, Friday, 9th November, 2012.
I got to the airport on Friday, 9th November, 2012 and waited endlessly for at least one of the staff of the NCPC to tell us what was happening. I got a ‘lucky break’ when I received a text message at 9.45 pm informing us that a certain Ben Okoh was held up in traffic and would soon be at the airport. I lost track of time afterwards, Ben Okoh eventually turned up and asked those of us that had been waiting to confirm if our visas were ready. 3
It happened that the list in which the names of self sponsored persons was not available. Mr. Ben Okoh contacted his colleagues who advised him to check I think his e-mail and print the same out. We eventually took off after 3 am on Saturday, 10th November, 2012. No apologies, no reasons for the delay, no information about take off time except when I asked, no refreshments whilst at the airport, nothing! We picked up passengers from Abuja and left Nigeria after 6 am on Saturday, 10th November, 2012.
We arrived Tel Aviv, Israel and traveled some two hours to our ‘motel’ in Galilee. I will never forget the words of my room mate Mrs. Dupe Ojo when someone announced ‘this is the hotel’ and we looked at this place… She said ‘maybe the hotel is behind this building… She was wrong, it was our motel! I will also never forget the feeling of despair that overwhelmed me as we walked into the reception; the place was filthy, for want of a better word. There were cats everywhere, including the reception, cuddling up on the dirty chairs, the wood floor was terribly dirty and the entire furniture and place were terribly unclean. I have enough pictures in proof.
Mr. Raphael Ben-Hur of RBH Tourism/Israel Holy Land Travel ‘welcomed’ the group in a dirty room and handed out bags with tee shirts, face caps and a pamphlet of the sites of interest. The bags never went round the 57 people in our group; at least I did not get any.
I did not attend Mr. Ben-Hur’s welcome speech and remained in the reception waiting for the meeting to end; I took my time to take pictures of the dingy motel the NCPC put us in. I cannot for the life of me remember when the rest of the group went to have dinner nor do I remember when they returned to the reception and went to their rooms. I remember too well that I protested and told the NCPC representative Mr. Tonte Ojogbo that I would not sleep in the place because I did not pay for a motel; I knew what I paid for and I knew too well Savyonei Hagalil was far from it.
If I may mention at this point by God Israel was about the eighteenth (18th) country I had traveled to so I have a very good idea about holiday packages, including hotels; what I pay for and what to expect for what I paid. That night I stated that if I had paid to sleep on a floor I jolly would have slept on the floor!
Mr. Ben-Hur offered the Queen Suite in the motel but I refused to sleep in it, I did not eat the dinner I just protested and threatened to sleep in the reception till the following morning, when I would decide on the next course of action. Mr. Ojogbo called NCPC in Nigeria and reported the matter; well I heard a bit of his conversation. A certain Henry Ezike spoke with me over the phone he told me he was head of operations at NCPC. He asked me about the hotel and I was quite surprised that the head of operations of NCPC 4
would ask a question like that, especially after Mr. Ojogbo had reported the matter to Abuja. I was upset. Mr. Ojobo persuaded to sleep in the motel and said NCPC should resolve the issue the following day. I remember waking up the following morning and weeping; I felt horrible it woke my roommate up. We returned to the motel really late the following day, so I still slept in it. We never heard a word from NCPC on the matter. Well, the group spent four (4) days in the dingy motel eating in a dinning room where the foods (no cereal) were angrily displayed on grimy tables as if the kitchen staff were expecting the cats and not human being to dine; where bread was displayed on a dirty barrel after a piece of cloth was placed on top of the barrel, where milk was served in sachets ‘reminiscence’ of our pure water sachets, where tea had to be drunk with plastic spoons, amongst other demeaning circumstances. The bed linens were filthy and the pillow cases in the room I slept in were terribly stained. Some people said there were mosquitoes in their bedroom! I had no way of confirming that. I have attached some pictures of the motel called Savyonei Hagalil…
I have had time to check Savyonei Hagalil up on TripAdvisor and one guest’s review is my sentiment exactly:
This is a run down hotel which should be advertised as a cheap motel! The whole building is in need of renovation, simplistic breakfeast (sic) served in a nearby building & staff at reception were(sic) inefficient, You won't see me there again!
Another guest wrote:
Very disappointed from maintenance and cleaning rooms and public areas. Breakfast was very poor - the buffet was empty and full of dirt. Workers Milled around doing nothing in the dining room with their mouth full and it seems that the work not really known for them (sic).
After two nights I checked into Kfar Giladi and stayed there till we left Galilee. Savyonei Hagalil was depressing and was defeating my purpose of been in Israel. I attach copies of my receipt to this letter. It cost me One Hundred and Ten Dollars (US$110) to commute to Savyonei Haglil to join the group.
Before I left Savyonei Hagalil I wrote a letter headed ‘Rejection of Hotel Room In Israel’ which I handed to Mr. Ojogbo to sign. He did not sign and his reason for not doing so was that he needed to confirm from NCPC if he could sign the letter. I guess he never got the confirmation he needed. A copy of the letter is attached to this letter. 5
Amiran the gentleman cabby who took me to and from Kfar Hagalil and Savyonei Hagalil had this to say about Savyonei Hagalil, in his very nice Hebrew accent: ‘the hotel very very bad, very very bad.’ He did not understand what I was doing in a place like that. I guess that is what you get if you pay less than Five Thousand Naira (N5,000.00) for a motel. I got the rate from Trip Advisor, I rang the place up with a view of getting prices for group booking, no one picked the phone. Please see link below for prices. It must have cost NCPC a lot less in view of the group booking:
I must not forget that in my room No. 184 (see picture) a sticker read ACCOR HOTEL (please see picture)… I have contacted Accor Hotel and it stated in its e-mail to me that Savyonei Hagalil does not belong to Accor Hotels! I have attached a copy of Accor’s e-mail to this letter.
I do not understand why NCPC and Raphael Ben-Hur a man who once served the Israeli Government in the country’s Ministry of Tourism for 15 years thought that was the perfect place to put Nigerian Pilgrims for four (4) good nights. I was certain we would be lodged in a worse place it happened…
NCPC and Mr. Ben-Hur also must have thought we deserved to stay Bethlehem in the Palestine territory of Israel for five (5) days, inspite of the trouble in Gaza which is about 73km away from Bethlehem. The troubles in Gaza started before we arrived Israel. Mr. Ben-Hur had prior to the morning we left Galilee said we were going to stay in Jerusalem for the rest of our ‘pilgrimage’. I guess the NCPC put cost savings before our safety, notwithstanding that we paid no small amount.
I was petrified the first night we arrived in the $27 per night low budget hotel (cost includes breakfast and dinner). Please see e-mail between the hotel and I, re room rates. The room I was put in (No. 302) was extremely cold the first night. I called the reception to help with the heater; it did not work. The second night when I called the reception to complain about the cold in the room the gentleman who picked up the phone told me the heating in the hotel was faulty and that was it. 6
Sahara Hotel was a notch above Savyonei Hagalil. Trip Advisor ranked it 14th out of 16 hotels in Bethlehem,, as at the time of writing this letter.
NCPC increased the number of nights we stayed in the hotel from 2 nights as Mr. Ben-Hur had earlier informed us to 3 nights, for reasons best known to the NCPC. They also attempted to put three (3) people in some of the rooms till we protested; how much was the NCPC desirous of saving! At $27 per person they still wanted to put three people in a room… ludicrous! I didn’t like the fact that we had to inhale the smoke from cigarettes anytime we were on the ground floor either for breakfast dinner or for any reason whatsoever. It was terrible. The reception was a small area just next to the dinning room.
Our food was extremely limited and boring as well, no yogurts, no sweets/desserts. I felt and still feel really cheated. We had a choice between multi-colored cereal I don’t know what it was and a chocolate cereal. I was not impressed and there were some times some food will run out and the kitchen staff will tell you for example ‘we have used all the eggs in the hotel’.
I am also attaching pictures of a typical breakfast setting; we had the same thing throughout our stay.
Though another low budget hotel we were quite happy with Paradise Hotel. The rooms were really nice, but I was not impressed with the limited food; it was just slightly better than Sahara Hotel’s spread. Again, I guess that was what we deserved for $27 per night that is just less than Four Thousand Naira (N4,000.00) at the rate of N145.00 to US$ the rate the Government gave us when we paid for our Allowance. I called Paradise Hotel and spoke with a certain Ahmed who gave the rates for fifty four (54) persons.
The Paradise Hotel was unsafe; we were welcomed with tear gas and gun shots the first night we got to the hotel. I had to turn up the volume of the television when I was about to sleep so as not to hear the gunshots. The second night was worse as the whole area was filled with tear gas even as we got down from the bus. My eyes were affected but I used a scarf to cover my nose and held my breath before I got down from the bus till I got into the reception. It was bad and scary. Some people in the group complained the following morning that they were unable to sleep for fear and for the noise. Some people had also started a fire right in front of our hotel. People asked that we moved to Jerusalem, we were moved and spent the last night in Jerusalem. 7
This was a joke… In a nutshell, the hotel we stayed at in Jerusalem was worse than Savyonei Hagalil so I will leave things to your imagination. It stank like the gutters in Lagos State just after they have been cleared after a long period of time. I am not exaggerating, we all know the smell. I have googled the hotel but Trip Advisor has nothing to say about it, probably because it is not even worthy of mention. It was a nightmare, simply put.
On the last evening we drove to Zion Square, Jerusalem, we stopped on the road some place and our tour guide Nuriel Cimaeh (Uri) got down and went to look for the hotel. People were furious when Uri returned and we were told that we had to walk to the hotel which was a bit of a distance from the place the bus had stopped. We were told that there was no access to the hotel, by bus.
Well, we took our luggage out and some pulled their luggage to the hotel, some people got help from a young man and our Mr. Kehinde Salami who took our things to the hotel. We had to get our suitcases ready for the early morning departure so we took out what we needed for the night and for the next morning and then dragged our suitcases to the bus for storage. It was unfair!
There were no less than 5 persons in my group who were over 70 years old and I cannot imagine the toll the stress had on them. I have pictures (attached to this letter) as well as video of the movement that night.
I feel I have been robbed by NCPC, and should be grateful to receive by return explanation for the treatment we received. I do not understand why my life had to be endangered in Bethlehem because as far as I am concerned some people wanted to make money from us. It was this attitude that cost over two hundred (200) lives to be lost in the Dana air crash, causing families grieve.
I called NCPC and spoke with a female staff who told me that pilgrimage is not about comfort. I know too well that I paid for comfort and NCPC collected money enough to provide me with just that. Again, if I paid to sleep on floors I would have. The lady told me the Legal Department of NCPC is waiting for my letter. I do not know exactly what that meant. She said I was the only one who complained and that some people had actually called to thank her. Now, I do not know of a culture where someone spends her hard earned money gives it to another in trust to provide certain services and the giver picks up a phone to thank a person she (the giver) has patronized! 8
I find the attitude of the NCPC rather worrisome; most of the delegates are people who are sponsored by the government; local, state or federal, or by some other institution or church. NCPC may wish to bear in mind that it may not enjoy the patronage of the government for long and should appreciate people who save money to pay their way.
I have had the opportunity to compare notes with some people who went to Israel and paid the same amount I did; their experience relayed to me confirmed I was cheated. NCPC failed to fulfill its obligations to me; I did not get what I paid for and should be grateful to be compensated, accordingly.
I look forward to receiving your response, soon.
Efunbola O. Coker
Thursday, 7 February 2013
Consider the reactions to an Igbo presidency, to Okonjo-Iweala tenure as minister; to Diezani, etc. And to Army chief of Staff Ihejirika.
The fear of Igbo domination is not a new fear and comes up even when there are no bases for it. There had not been an occasion when the Igbo dominated Nigeria or any part of Nigerian political or economic segment. NCNC was a political party that had significant Igbo membership but was not dominated by the Igbo, not in the sense of Yoruba in Action Group or Hausa/Fulani in NPC. There was powerful Yoruba presence in NCNC and with the alliance with NEPU significant Northern presence. One could not say the same for AG/UMBC alliance. Before the Civil War the Federal Government and Civil Service had significant Igbo presence but not a dominant position; not any more than the Yoruba or Hausa/Fulani.
Even after one had classified all Easterners as Igbo.
Even in Eastern Nigeria the dominant role was not true. There was a non Igbo government leader in Eastern Nigeria . There was never a non Yoruba leader in the West even though Midwestern Nigerians had minorities. There was never a non Hausa/Fulani Government Leader in the North even though there are many minority ethnic groups in the region.
Why are the Igbo so feared?
On the other hand there were many occasions when the Igbo had been marginalized. In the first 30 years after the Civil War there were no Igbo of any worthwhile rank in the Nigerian Armed Forces or police. Few headed any powerful ministries, or parastatals, or headed the civil services. The economy is now dominated by the Yoruba/Hausa/Fulani oligarchy and now one is complaining. After the indigenization decree nearly 60% of Nigerian economy was in the hands of Yoruba and there was no word from the Igbo or other Nigerians about domination. A review of the Federal Government foreign indebtedness from 1960-2007 shows that the East, especially the SE, was very poorly served.
But all Nigerians paid for and are paying the loans.
The only part of Nigerian life one would find Igbo domination is in the number of Nigerians who live outside their states of origin. There are more Igbo in this case than any other ethnic group. But these people moved on their own, are often engaged in petty trading or practicing some kind of trade funded by their sweat. There is no government handout involved and they do not work for any government.
Why should anybody be envious?
This essay was prompted by the insidious attacks on Chief of Staff Ihejirika. This writer had written in the past that non political appointments ought to be based solely on merits while political appointments would try to take into consideration the national character concept. I still hold this belief. But analyzing the recent army promotions and deployments, one sees that the national character concepts was very much in evidence. Could it be that in this instance the marginalization of the Igbo was not as obvious as in the past and therefore people are afraid that the Igbo might come back?
There is nothing to fear. The Igbo had never dominated anything, are not planning to dominate anybody and would be unable to do so even if they tried.
The Igbo is just like the rest of Nigerians.
There are no 8 ft tall Igbo.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
Boston , Massachusetts
February 7, 2013
Monday, 4 February 2013
While American waited 35 minutes for the Super Bowl’s lights to come on, Nigerians just chuckled.
They know all too well the problem of power outages: Nigeria has been plagued by rolling blackouts that last hours, sometimes even days.
So as the television audience worldwide waited for the power to come back on, Nigerians took to social media with wit.
"Power outage at the Super Bowl on Sunday. Suddenly, Nigeria doesn't look as dark anymore,” tweeted one Nigerian.
"If they had the Super Bowl in Nigeria, the power coming back on would be the real surprise," another tweeted.
Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, recently told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that his country’s electrical woes have been improving.
“That is one area that Nigerians are quite pleased with the government, that commitment to improve power. It's working,” President Jonathan told the president.
Many Nigerian viewers tweeted messages to Christiane Amanpour to express their continued frustrations about having to rely on back-up generators for power.
In the video above, you can watch an “Open Mic” series CNN conducted after Amanpour’s interview with President Jonathan. We left a microphone in a public place and recorded Nigerians expressing their frustrations with their notoriously unreliable power supply.
Culled from CNN INTERNATIONAL
Sunday, 3 February 2013
I read Dr. Reuben Abati's article titled 'The Hypocrisy Of Yesterday's Men'' (3rd Feb.2013) which was published in virtually every newspaper in the country with amusement. He sought to ridicule and demean those of us that served President Olusegun Obasanjo's government and that are not very impressed with the performance of his boss. The fact that we asked President Goodluck Jonathan to account for the 67 billion USD that he squandered from our foreign reserves has clearly upset him. We dared to ask about the money and so we were singled out and targetted for a tongue-lashing and a long lecture from the Presidency. Yet we remain undeterred. This is how weak governments that have nothing to offer and something to hide always behave. They come after their perceived enemies with full force and they are petty and oversensitive. This is all the more so when they lack experienced hands and when they do not have anyone with deep insight or wisdom about the art of governance or politics within their ranks. In his response instead of answering our questions, addressing the issues or making any pertinent and sensible points about the numerous allegations against his principal, Abati chose to go on a delusional and self-serving joy ride. He simply refused to address any of our numerous concerns but instead indulged vainly in what can only be described as an utterly vulgar and distasteful form of intellectual, spiritual and psychological masturbation by telling us that he and his master were ''today's men'' who needed no lessons from the ''men of yesterday''. The essay was nothing but the usual smear campaign and a crude attempt to intimidate which has been the hallmark of this Government whenever they are faced with even the mildest form of criticism. I will not dignify most of the insulting and childish submissions that Abati indulged in with a response other than to say that he told a shameless and pernicious lie when he wrote that as Minister of Aviation I ''shut down Port Harcourt Airport for two years'' and ''allowed grass to grow all over it''. This is false. It is a classic case of disinformation coming from a man that is obviously suffering from a very low self-esteem. It is clear that Abati, who is a journalist, has forgotten the most important tenet of his profession which is that ''facts are sacred and opinion is cheap''. Ordinarily one would have ignored his bitter rant but it is important that I set the record straight for the sake of posterity. The facts are as follows.
Port Harcourt International Airport was closed on Dec.10 2005 after the Sossolisso Air crash in which 100 people were killed. The crash affected the runway of the airport very badly and consequently the then Minister of Aviation, Professor Babalola Borishade closed it. I was redeployed from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to the Ministry of Aviation in November 2006. This was 11 months after the Sossolisso crash took place and that Port Harcourt Airport had been closed. It is clear from the foregoing that I was not the one that shut down Port Harcourt Airport. When I took over at Aviation my priority was to carry out all the necessary repairs at Port Harcourt Airport and to open it as quickly as possible. I was saddened to discover that in the previous 11 months before I got there nothing had been done and the contract to repair the runway had not even been awarded. Consequently within a month of my being appointed Minister of Aviation we set to work and awarded the contract to Julius Berger at the cost of 3 billion naira. 50 per cent of the money was paid up front and Julius Berger set to work immediately. The runway was fully completed and the airport in pristine condition before I left office on May 29th 2007 just 6 months after I awarded the contract. However despite this the airport could not be opened before we left because the runway lighting system was still in the process of being installed. The Yar'adua government went ahead and opened the airport a few months after we left office even though the runway lights had still not been installed. The record shows that from the day that I was appointed Minister of Aviation and the time that our mandate ran out 7 months later my staff at the Ministry and Julius Berger worked night and day on the runway project at Port Harcourt International Airport in order to ensure that we finished it in record time. And this we managed to do. It was my project. I sourced the money for it, I paid for it, I forced the contractor to move fast on it and I finished it. The fact that the Yar'adua administration did not complete the lighting system and open the airport for another few months after we left office, even though the runway was ready, is for them to explain and not for me. Even though nothing was done at that airport for 11 months before I got to Aviation, once I was appointed we swung into action immediately. I repeat that it was under my watch that work commenced, that it was rebuilt, that it was completed and that it was fully restored and after that the airport was ready to be fully utilised. Given these facts how Abati can peddle the lie that I was the one that not only closed the airport but that I also kept it shut for two years, did nothing there, caused it to remain idle and allowed ''grass to grow all over it'' honestly baffles me. I was Minister of Aviation for only 7 months and not 2 years and within those seven months, from scratch, I did all the work that needed to be done in order to make the airport functional again. I am proud of the fact that we succeeded in meeting our target and completing the job.
Abati also so asserted that I closed down ''other major airports'' whilst I was Minister of Aviation ''for the purposes of renovation''. Again this is not true. Not one of the four major airports in the country were closed down for renovation works or any other reason whilst I was Minister of Aviation. And neither, to the best of my recollection, did I close or suspend the operations of any of the smaller airports except perhaps for safety reasons. As a matter of fact the opposite was the case. I actually installed and completed the sophisticated Safe Tower Project in three of the four major airports in the country, resurrected and funded the Tracon Radar System which is operational in our country today and which gives us full radar coverage in our airspace, upgraded the facilities in many of the old smaller airports and granted permission for the establishment of new airports in places like Gombe. Quite apart from that we not only stopped the terrible cycle of plane crashes that was prevalent at that time but there was not one aircraft that crashed under my watch and no loss of life from the air under my tenure. I am the only Minister of Aviation in the last 10 years of our country that can boast of that and yet Abati seeks to tarnish my name, stain my record and rubbish my efforts with his lies. All this and far more and Abati accuses me of ''running the aviation sector down to a state of near collapse''. For that I commit him to God's judgement. It is obvious that he is just being malicious and dishonest. I take strong objection to his specious lies, his brazen falsehood and his distortions of fact. The suggestion that I closed Port Harcourt Airport and neglected it for two years, that I closed other airports for renovations and that I ran the aviation sector down to the ground is what I would refer to as a figment of his malicious, overactive and fertile imagination. It is a glaring mendacity, a brutal assault on truth and an affront to my sensiblities. I find it utterly reprehensible and repugnant that a man that is entrusted to speak for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can indulge in such petty lies.
Let me end this contribution by pointing out the fact that being ''yesterday's men'' does not mean that some of us cannot be ''tomorrows men'' as well. Only God knows what lies ahead for each and everyone of us. So when Abati glibly writes people off as if they will never be in power again it is a sad reflection of his lack of experience and naivety. It is God that determines our tomorrow. It is He that lifts men up, that pulls them down and, sometimes if it be His will, lifts them up again. There are countless examples of that in our history. Finally I have a few questions for President Jonathan and his ''todays men''. When will they take President Obasanjo's advice and finally do something concrete about Boko Haram and our security situation? Does the fact that at least 4000 Nigerians have been killed by these terrorists in the last two years under their watch not bother them? How can they sleep well at night with all that innocent blood that has flowed and precious lives cut short whilst they were at the helm of affairs of our nation? More innocent souls have been killed in the last 2 years by terrorists than at any time in the history of Nigeria outside the civil war. How does President Jonathan and his ''today's men'' feel about winning such a dubious and dishonorable title? Does he still regard Boko Haram as ''his siblings'' who he ''cannot hurt''? Why has the President refused to visit the good people of the north east despite the fact that dozens of people are still being slaughtered there by Boko Haram every day? Moving to the issue of corruption and the economy when will our President and ''today's men'' answer the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron's question and tell him what they did with the 100 billion USD that they made from oil sales in the last two years? When will they answer Obi Ezekwsile's question about how they squandered 67 billion USD of our foreign reserves? When will they answer the question that Nasir El Rufai asked sometime back about how they spent over 350 billion naira on security vote in one year alone? When will they answer the many questions that Dr. Pat Utomi and many other distinguished and courageous leaders and ''yesterday's men'' have raised about the trillions of naira that have been supposedly spent on oil subsidy payments in the last two years? When will they implement the findings and recommendations of the Nuhu Ribadu report on the thivery that has gone on in the oil sector? When will they cultivate the guts and find the courage to respond to a call for a public debate to defend their abysmal record? When will these ''today's men'' stop being so reckless with our money? Why would our ''today's man'' FCT Minister budget 5 billion for the ''rehabilitatioin of prostitues in the Abuja''? Why would he budget 7.5 billion naira for a new ''FCT city gate''? Why would he budget 4 billion naira for a house for the First Lady? Why would the Federal Government of ''todays men'' budget 1 billion naira for food in the Villa? Are these the priorities of ''today's men and women''? And all this when Nigeria is back in foreign debt to the tune of 9 billion USD and is still borrowing, when local debt has hit almost 50 billion USD, when graduate unemployment has hit 80 per cent, when 40 per cent of Nigerians do not have access to good food and ''are hungry'' and when 70 per cent of Nigerians are living below the poverty line? Is this the vision of ''today's men and women''? If so may God deliver Nigeria. Femi Fani Kayode
Reuben Abati on the offensive: Face-off : The hypocrisy of yesterday’s men, by Reuben Abati
A loosely bound group of yesterday’s men and women seems to be on the offensive against the Jonathan administration. They pick issues with virtually every effort of the administration, pretending to do so in the public interest; positing that they alone, know it all. Arrogantly, they claim to be better and smarter than everyone else in the current government. They are ever so censorious, contrarian and supercilious.
They have no original claim to their pretensions other than they were privileged to have been in the corridors of power once upon a time in their lives. They obviously got so engrossed with their own sense of importance they began to imagine themselves indispensable to Nigeria. It is dangerous to have such a navel-gazing, narcissistic group inflict themselves with so much ferocity on an otherwise impressionable public. We are in reality dealing with a bunch of hypocrites.
With exceptions so few, they really don’t care about Nigeria as a sovereign but the political spoils that accrue from it. And so they will stop at nothing to discredit those they think are not as deserving as they imagine themselves to be. President Jonathan has unfairly become the target of their pitiable frustrations.
Underneath their superfluous appearance, lies an unspoken class disdain directed at the person and office of a duly elected president of the country. It is a Nigerian problem, perhaps. In the same advanced societies which these same yesterday men and women often like to refer to, public service is seen and treated as a privilege. People are called upon to serve; they do so with humility and great commitment, and when it is all over, they move on to other things. The quantity surveyor returns to his or her quantity surveying or some other decent work; the lawyer to his or her wig and gown; the university teacher, to the classroom, glad to have been found worthy of national service. When and where necessary, as private citizens they are entitled to use the benefit of this experience to contribute to national development, they speak up on matters of public importance not as a full-time job as is the case in Nigeria currently.
What then, is the problem with us? As part of our governance evolution, most people become public servants by accident, but they soon get so used to the glamour of office that they lose sight of their own ordinariness. They use the system to climb: to become media celebrities, to gain international attention and to morph into self-appointed guardians of the Nigerian estate. They mask self interest motives as public causes and manipulate the public’s desire for improvements in their daily struggles as opportunity for power grab.
They are perpetually hanging around, lobbying and hustling for undeserved privileges. They exploit ethnic and religious connections where they can or join political parties and run for political office. They even write books (I, me and myself books, packaged as cerebral stuff); if that still doesn’t work, they lobby newspaper houses for columns to write and they become apostolic pundits pontificating on matters ranging from the nebulous to the non-descript. Power blinds them to the reality that we are all in this together and we have a unique opportunity to do well for the taxpayers and hardworking electorate that provide every public official the privilege to serve.
Unsatisfied with the newspaper columns, they open social media accounts and pretend to be voices of wisdom seeking to cultivate an angry crowd which they feed continually with their own brand of negativity. They arrange to give lectures at high profile events where they abuse the government of the day in order to gain attention and steal a few minutes in the sun; hoping to force an audience that may ‘open doors’ for them, back into the corridors of power. These characters are in different sizes and shapes: small, big; Godfathers, agents, proxies. The tactics of the big figures on this rung of opportunism may be slightly different. They parade themselves as a Godfather or kingmaker or the better man who should have been king. They suffer of course, from messianic delusions. The fact that they boast of some followership and the media often treats them as icons, makes their nuisance factor worse. They and their protégés and proxies are united by one factor though: their hypocrisy.
It is in the larger interest of our country that the point be made that the government of the day welcomes criticism and political activism. This is an aspect of our emergent democracy that expands on the growing freedom of expression, thought and association but there is need for caution and vigilance, lest we get taken hostage by the architects of odious disinformation. Nigerians must not allow any group of individuals to hold this country to ransom and no one alone should appropriate the right to determine what is best for Nigeria. The accidental public servants who have turned that privilege into a life-long obsession and profession must be told to go get a life and find meaningful work to do.
Those who believe that no one else can run Nigeria without them must be told to stop hallucinating. The former Ministers, former Governors, former DGs, and all sorts who have been busy quoting mischievous figures, spreading cruel propaganda must be reminded that the Jonathan administration is in fact trying to clean up the mess that they created. They want to own the game when the ball is not in their possession. They want to be the referee when nobody has offered them a whistle. They seek to play God, forgetting that the case for God is not in the hands of man. One of the virtues of enlightenment is for persons to have a true perspective of their own location in the order of things. What they do not seem to realise or accept is that the political climate has changed.
When one of them was in charge of this same estate called Nigeria, he shut down the Port Harcourt airport and other airports for close to two years under the guise of renovation. The Port Harcourt airport was abandoned for so long it was overgrown with weeds after serving for months as a practice ground for motoring schools. It was reopened without any improvement and with so much money down the drain, and the pervasive suspicion that the reason it was shut down in the first place was to create a market for a new airline that had been allowed the monopoly use of the other airport in the city.
Under President Jonathan, airports across the country are being upgraded, rebuilt and modernized; in less than two years, the transformation is self-evident. Perhaps the greatest hypocrisy from our see-no-good commentators comes from the one who superintended over the near-collapse of the aviation sector who is now audacious enough to claim to be a social critic.
For the first time since 1999, the Nigerian Railway Corporation is up and running as a service organization. The rail lines have become functional from Lagos to Kano; Ewekoro to Minna, and very soon, from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, Abuja to Kaduna and Lagos to Ibadan. They couldn’t do this in their time, now they are busy looking for money that is not missing with their teeth. When questions are asked, they claim they invented the ideas of due process and accountability. They once promised to solve the crisis of electricity supply in Nigeria. But what did they do? They managed to leave the country in darkness with less than 2,000 MW; abandoned independent power projects, mismanaged power stations, and uncompleted procurement processes. The mess was so bad their immediate successors had to declare an emergency in the power sector. It has taken President Jonathan to make the difference. Today, there is greater coherence in the management of the power sector with power supply in excess of 4, 200 MW; a better conceived power sector road map is running apace, and the administration is determined to make it better.
They complain about the state of the roads. Most of the contracts were actually awarded under their watch to the tune of billions! They talk about corruption, yet many of them have thick case files with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the courts and the police on corruption-related charges. One of them was even accused of having awarded choice plots of government land to himself, his wives, his companies and other relations when he was in charge of such allocations! Really, have we forgotten so soon?
These yesterday men and women certainly don’t seem to care very much about the Nigerian taxpayer who has had to bear the brunt of the many scandals this administration is exposing in its bid to clear out the Augean stable. They’d rather grandstand with the ex-General this, Chief that, Doctor this and ex-(dis)Honourable Minister who has no record of what he or she did with the funds the nation provided them to deliver results to protect our interest so that we don’t end up continuing to make the same wasteful mistakes.
It is enough to make you shudder at the thought of any of them being part of government with access to the public purse; but then we’ve already seen what some of them are capable of doing when in control of public money, authority and influence; and to that the people have spoken in unison – they have had enough. Nigerians are wiser and are now familiar with the trickery from these persons whose claim to fame and fortune was on the back of their public service.
Our point at the risk of overstating what is by now too obvious: We have too many yesterday men and women behaving too badly. We are dealing with a group of power-point technocrats who have mastered the rhetoric of public grandstanding: carefully crafted emotion-laden sound bites passed off as meaningful engagements. That is all there is to them, after many years of hanging around in relevant places and mingling in the right corridors, all made possible through the use/abuse of Nigeria. Our caveat to their audience is the same old line: let the buyer beware!
Dr. Abati is Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to President Goodluck Jonathan