Nigeria Weekly News Highlights #01,2000
index19.jpg (19306 bytes)

Nigeria Weekly News Headline

Jan.8, 2000

Forward With  A United Nigeria: Nigeria Shall Rise Again!

Magazine FrontPage

OUTCRY Magazine

Free Website Design


nigerianflag.gif (11532 bytes)

naija-coat3Nigeria.gif (5444 bytes)

nigerianflag.gif (11532 bytes)

head2_small.jpg (3098 bytes)

niger2.jpg (11476 bytes)

Jan.8, 2000


By Blessyn Okpowo, Deputy Editor

FOR those who have come to know Dr. Ore Falomo and the late MKO Abiola family, he is more than just a family doctor. Over the years, he has become very close to the Abiolas that there is hardly anything that happens in the family without Falomo’s knowledge or input.

In the thick of Abiola’s struggle for his mandate, he remained loyal to his client even at the risk of his own life. When Abiola was incarcerated and until his death, Falomo drew global attention to his client’s deteriorating health condition in detention.

In death, Falomo stood by the Abiolas. He struggled to ensure that foreign experts were invited to carry out the autopsy report even while alleging that the custodian of the June 12 mandate was murdered.

Eighteen months after the death of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, and three months after his will was made public, Dr. Falomo says the philanthropist’s family is still united more than ever before.

In this interview at his living room in Anthony Village, Maryland in Lagos, he spoke on Abiola’s will, the DNA test, the final autopsy report and much more. It is simply revealing. It is our worldwide exclusive. Enjoy it.

For sometime now, we noticed that you’ve withdrawn into your shell; you’re not as visible as you used to be; what is really happening?

You are correct that I am not as visible as I used to be. Maybe because one was getting to the end of the year, and the end of the century, and one was approaching the end with a bit of caution and reflection on what has happened in the last 5 - 10 years, 

It is not as if I was keeping away from publicity and all that, it is just that it is natural that after the pressure and a fury of activities, you take some rest and you can also use that period to reflect on a number of things and have a renewed determination in preparation for the beginning of the new year and a new century. 

So, I wasn’t really deliberately keeping quiet. In addition, I travelled out of the country to meet some friends and relatives and to take stock of what’s going on around the world and what people are thinking about us, and to see the hope of a new Nigeria coming into focus. That, more or less, had kept me away from you - my friends in the press.

You talked of reflection in the last 5 - 10 years; what are those things that you reflected upon and what are the lessons you learnt?

Fortunately for me, I do not believe that there was anything really that I regretted having done in the past that I should not have done. Maybe there were things I had thought I would be able to achieve that could not be achieved. My only big regret from my reflections, which I am sure, you’ll probably guess, is that we lost Chief Abiola in the struggle, which we fought rather gallantly in the last five years. But I hope that his loss and sacrifice will not be easily brushed aside. 

You see, the Abiola issue is something that you keep thinking and thinking about maybe there was one thing or the other, which one would have done which probably, would have prevented the eventual outcome. But all in all, I am happy with myself that I was involved and by the grace of God, I didn’t get swallowed up in the whole process and that I will live to struggle or fight another day.

When you talk of the struggle, Nigerians remember you for your role, but now that democracy has been achieved you are no longer involved in the affairs of government. Why are you staying away?

I think there must always be a role for one to play. The fact of the matter is that this government was put together rather very quickly, and the President himself has said that he had the votes of the devil, the saints and everybody. Having had that now, he has a duty to perform but I guess what he was trying to say is that even though everybody voted for him, all sorts of people contributed money for his success, that he was not going to be bound by that. He was going to do the right thing. And you must not forget that the fact that he is there now is largely as a result of divine intervention. And if you agree with what he is doing and what he wants to do, the only thing for you to do is to keep on wishing him well, praying for him. It is not compulsory that you must be in government for you to support him.

And while we are not forgetting exactly the reason for Abiola’s arrest, detention and eventual death, coupled with his philosophy about life which informed his goal of freeing ourselves from the military colonialists which I think we are doing now, we have a duty to support the nascent democracy that we now have.

But if along the way, one discovers that the ideals, which Abiola fought and died for, are not being realised, of course, one is bound naturally to get involved and say no. We cannot just allow this thing to continue this way, so that those who have sacrificed their lives for this country will feel satisfied wherever they may be that their sacrifice was not in vain and that we have not relaxed in the struggle. For me, I am going to make sure that the thing Abiola lived and died for is not lost so quickly and that he would be satisfied with the role all of us played.

Talking about sacrifice and reward, MKO sacrificed his life for democracy in this country, and some people feel that those who are in charge of that democracy today have not adequately compensated Abiola in terms of immortalising his name. Do you share in this school of thought?

This is a very difficult question, which has arisen from time to time. What I think is happening is that maybe, the President has his own way of doing things. I believe that very strongly and I hope I am not wrong. I know that the president is a man who is very appreciative of many things. Things that you wouldn’t think he took note of, he always does take note of them. I guess that he may not agree with us in the way we do things, like naming places after people, identifying the role people have played, I know he appreciated the role other people play even for him when he was in prison.

But you know, he is a President of the country and that is a very difficult position. I think it is too early in the day to conclude whether he has been able to show appreciation for the worth of the sacrifices of people who were involved in the struggle for democracy, whether he has been able to acknowledge their role appropriately or not. I think we should watch him and watch events as they unfold. I’m sure that at the appropriate time, if we think that enough acknowledgment or recognition is not being given to the sacrifice of people we should be able to speak out, we should be able to say to them, don’t let us forget so quickly.

But if you were in the shoes of Mr. President, would seven months not be enough for you to immortalise Chief M. K. O. Abiola?

Yes, if I were the President, I will probably handle the matter differently, I agree. But you know, I have not conceded that something is not going to be done. I think Mr. President has his own special or queer way of doing things. And those who have gone near him will agree that you may not agree with his methodology but he will always do what has to be done. But I can say so to many people and they will agree with me that Abiola deserves to be honoured and adequately recognised for the sacrifice that he made for this country. How we do it and how soon it is done is another matter. 

But it has to be done for posterity’s sake and I can assure you that we are already putting something together in a book form on Abiola’s life and struggle. And by the time the book will be launched, I think it will bring back the memories of everything again and maybe by that time too, adequate credit and recognition may have been given to the role and sacrifice that he played in life.

Talking about roles, some people believe that government’s role in health care delivery is not adequate; they argue that the health sector is not being given the attention it deserves; as a medical doctor, what is your view on this?

I can honestly tell you that I have not been very happy with the progress we have made in the health sector. Considering the fact that we did struggle a lot right from 1970 up till now, I have been very actively involved in the restructuring of health services in this country especially in the grassroots. And in so doing, one had some brushes with almost all the governments that had been in existence in Nigeria since 1970. One is happy to have been involved because all the things we were fighting for have turned out to be true. We’ve been vindicated by time.

All the slogan about health for all by the year 2000, we told them at that time that they were not committed enough and that all they were doing was mere lip service and that we were just making a mockery of ourselves. Unfortunately, they did not respond as expected, maybe they thought were we just being alarmists.

However, all hope is not lost yet. Professor Olikoye Ransome Kuti proved during his tenure that our health system can work if only it is given the right commitment and attention. And we are proud that the Nigeria Medical Association had a hand in the choice of Professor Kuti. And he did not turn out to disappoint us. So, it is very necessary that there would be a round peg in a round hole. People who are dedicated must be allowed to come and serve and not chosen in terms of how much money or political connection they have. The Nigeria Medical Association must be consulted in the choice of who should man the Health Ministry. 

I am hoping that in the not too distant future, the opportunity will arise for some of us to move forward, to carry on from where Professor Kuti left it and probably try and do better than what he did. That will give him joy in his retirement and to us we will see it as a task that must be done.

What areas do you think the government should immediately address as a matter of urgency?

There are two things that the NMA has identified as being very urgent. During the time of Babangida, the NMA noted that to be able to bring health to the reach of everybody, there is need for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). But it must be a very reformed scheme, that is it must satisfy the goals, which we anticipated. And these goals are that the ordinary people in the country must benefit, no matter how low their income is. And that the doctors who are providers of health services must be fully utilised in all grades, from the lowest grade to the highest. And there must be a plough back into the health system from that scheme. That is, you are not going to let some people come in and reap the gains from that Health Insurance without putting anything into it. We now say that we can sit down and plan our own insurance scheme that will be something of administration to the rest of the world. We really sat down to work it out. But unfortunately, like many good projects in the country, it was hijacked by those who only saw what they could reap from it. People saw it as a way of enriching themselves. But that is blood money because medicine is not a profession you can go into and hope to get very rich. It is a sacred profession that you’re going to sacrifice a lot for the less privileged.

Are you saying now that government should pay attention to the National Health Insurance Scheme as a matter of priority?

The government has accepted the scheme in principle but there are still very many loopholes in it and attention must be paid to the implementation of that scheme so that it will not end in disaster. And those of us that are behind the formulation of the scheme would have to ensure that it does not fail so that we won’t be accused of giving the country a wrong policy. The scheme is good in principle but it needs to be looked into properly so that the ordinary Nigerian can benefit from it. How we are going to do that is straightforward enough for those of us who formulated the policy. We must not allow opportunists to hijack the scheme and milk innocent Nigerians dry. 

I do hope that in this new millennium, the government will take the challenge that the ordinary Nigerian does not have enough to eat, does not have a house over his head, does not have enough clothing, and is not enjoying good health so what’s the future for him? So, health is something that I’m involved in and it is inter-related to the problems of food, clothing and shelter. It is therefore a task that must be done.

In the last few weeks, the trial of the alleged killers of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola has been going on, what is your reaction to the trials?

It is interesting that we are on the path to justice. But I must tell you that I was one of the few people who were not alarmed about the revelations that have emerged from the trial. I was not surprised at all because right from the time it happened I had made accusations concerning his death. I said so at that time. I wrote it in my statement to the police. I tried to even figure out what the government should do and the right track they must take in finding out the killers. But they deliberately ignored it.

That it is being done now, let us just say that it is better late than never. And I now have a sense of satisfaction that I am being vindicated over what I was courageous enough to say then. Government tried to make his death look like an inter-family feud, and I told them at that time that it’s a lie. But thank God that we are now in a position to know the whole truth abut the whole thing. So on my own part, what I am trying to do is to see that one contributes his own quota to the government’s effort to unravel the whole secret about the heinous act.

How are you doing this?

Everybody that was involved in the whole scenario at that is being encouraged to come out and say what he or she knows and the role he or she played. In this respect, I have helped the government in contacting Dr. Adesina who is now the only living witness in the team of Kudi, the driver and himself on the day of the incident. And, of course, to say all that he saw or heard in the weeks preceding the incident. So, he is a very vital witness, infact he is the crown witness to the case. And it would have been very sad if the government cannot get him to testify. So I have been able to locate him, I have been able to talk to him, and I have been able to get in touch with the Attorney General’s office to tell them how the man can be brought in. And a lot of things will be put in the right perspective.

What role Shofolahan played, what was he doing; what did he say; how did he lay the whole track for them, for them to be able to get Kudi, all those things will come from Dr. Adesina. He has said a lot to me and to other people. But officially, it must be said in the open for a whole lot of us to see the extent to which people will go in trying to achieve their own inordinate ambition and still destroy the lives of good people in this country.

So, where is Dr. Adesina now?

I am not going to tell you that. Just wait until he arrives the country.

Were you not shocked that somebody like Shofolahan who was very close to the Abiolas could be linked with Kudi’s death?

It is a good lesson for all of us. I think the whole of the country has come out to condemn the role he (allegedly) played. It’s a pity that Abiola and Kudi are no more. If only the dead can see, they would have seen the treachery of this man. This man l am sure did not do what he did by accident. It must have been inborn in him. It takes somebody who actually found that time of act natural, to be able to do a thing like that. I don’t think he was lured by money or anything, he is a man that is very unusual in the act of self-destruction of people that were close to him. He moved so smoothly and so perfectly that he tried to even get other people, apart from the ones he has shown their houses to the killers, into the net.

He made attempts to get to me, he made attempts to get to Femi Falana. So he did not do it by accident.

You mean he tried to get you killed too by setting you up?

Yes! He came to me to try and pick my brains and set me up so that he could go and feed them on what my position is and what my relationship with Abiola is too. He visited me here after Kudirat’s death to try and set me up. But I was warned before hand that he was a dangerous man and so I was on the watch out.

You see, information actually got to us that Kudirat’s security had been penetrated and that there was a mole in the house and that we should be very careful. And so, we started to look around. On two occasions, Shofolahan was strongly suspected as being the mole, but Kudi decided to forgive and ignore him. She overlooked him. You see, she trusted Shofolahan so much that when they warned her about him, she thought that people who are envious of the man and who simply want to come between them so she did not take them seriously. But that was the nature of Kudirat. She was too trusting. She trusted people on the face value until you give her reason to doubt you. She trusted Shofolahan.

And we also learnt that each time he took information back to them, he was paid. So for those periods he was spying on us, he was being paid. And while the thing lasted he was enjoying it. But the question is, at what price? What he got was blood money and it was too dangerous. He forgot that one day he would give account of his activities to his Creator. 

What do you think will be the outcome of the trial; do you think the prosecution has enough evidence to convict, that is speaking from an insider’s point of view?

I am not a judge, so I cannot say. But I believe that no matter what judgement we pass on these people, the greatest judgement is from God and He will definitely visit His judgements on everybody according to your work. Whatever we have done, even though the earthly judge may use his own words to qualify our level or degree of guilt, God has already seen what you have done even in secret so after the earthly judgement, he will pronounce his own judgement. They are already facing God’s judgement without us knowing it.

The areas government is trying them for are the areas they can prove, there are other areas you cannot prove, you don’t even know of, but God knows everything and you can never escape God’s judgement. You see, the prayers of the people of this country in the last five years have been so much that we are now seeing their results.

Almost two years after Chief Abiola’s death, what is the situation in the Abiola clan; what is the relationship between the wives and the children?

I don’t really think the family has fallen apart as it is erroneously believed in some circles. As I said earlier when Abiola died, that Abiola’s role is a role that 50 people put together cannot be able to play effectively. And that is becoming very clear by the day. Don’t forget that Abiola’s family is a very large family. It will take them more than two, three years to be able to adjust to a life without Abiola. The man went away when they least expected. He really did not prepare anybody to take over from him. So, everybody has to now play his or her own part in order to keep the family going. 

The man left a vacuum that is too large to fill. So, I guess that what they are going through now is like a transition from what I consider to be a very smooth glorious reign of the man and the traumatic period of his detention, then the sudden death. 

Now that he is gone, they’ve realised that the reality must be faced and everything is now being restructured by different people in different ways. There are so many projects and enterprises that the man single-handedly ran, they are now being handled by different people and none of them has the capacity, the ability and the wherewithal of Chief Abiola. So, they have to make it from their own intelligence, ability and resources and with a bit of luck because they have been operating under a very hostile economy and government. One should expect what you can call hiccups now that people are talking about. But the family is together. If anything, the revelations that are coming out the trials are unifying and pulling them together because now all the suspicions and misconceptions have been cleared. They now know that they fought together without knowing it.

Chief Abiola mandated some of his children to undergo a DNA test in his will, how far has the family gone in complying with the provisions of that aspect of the will?

The DNA test he talked about is like a decree Abiola left behind. And he also did something which people have failed to talk about. He said his will should be interpreted under the English law. So, no room was left for anybody to say ah, this child looks so much like his father, what other proof does he need as it is done in the Nigerian context? We have our own way of doing things in Nigeria. And Abiola knew about all these before he died, for him to have said go and do a DNA test. 

So, even if some people don’t agree with him and say, why should a man go to that extent to prove that he is his father, well one should give it to him as the way he saw it. There are so many things he knew that we don’t know. So, once he had put that down, we just have to conform, all of us. Whether we agree or we don’t agree is irrelevant. What we have to be doing is to help the children who would like to conform and perform that test. That is a reasonable role that one must play. 

Have you started doing that?

Yes, we have been doing that in so many cases without advertising it.

You mean some of the children have actually started undergoing the DNA test?

Oh yes! Oh yes! They have.


Just how many have been tested so far?

I can’t give you the figures right now. 

Have you recorded any casualties?

(General laughter). I think it will not be proper to tell you of casualties. You can only hear of those who have passed, because those who have passed will jubilate and celebrate, I think we should spare those who fail the agony of revealing their identities to the public. 

I just want you to confirm whether, indeed, there were casualties?

Well, in an examination, some people will pass, some people will fail. So, there are definitely some people who have failed (another general laughter). You see, if Abiola didn’t believe there would be failures, he would not have directed that some of his children go through a DNA test. He would simply have just said these are my children and they are all entitled to some proceeds from my estate. I am sure that he thought some people might just not meet up to the "standard" and that’s why he said okay, all of you go for this exam and those who pass can laugh themselves to the bank, while those who do not do well will have to look for their father(s) elsewhere.

Abiola wrote his will in 1989, and between 1989 and 1998 when he died, almost ten years, he had other children. What happens to the children he had after the will was written?

I think that will be taken care of easily. Up to that date (1989) he listed the children, but of course he got married to some people after that year who had children for him. So, the executors had been given the duty to take case of those born after 1989 when the will was written. And of course the DNA test applies to those who were born after 1989. Everybody who is claiming that he is a child of Abiola, and there could only be Abiola’s children born after the will was written between 1989 and March 1995. This is because Abiola was arrested in July 1994, so give a difference of 9 months, only those born at least, up to March 1995 could be Abiola’s children. Anybody that is born after March 1995 could not have been fathered by Abiola. Having said that, therefore anybody that was born between 1989 and March 1995 could still lay claim to being born by Abiola. And the only way to confirm such a claim is through the DNA, which actually makes it a lot easier.

So what will be their share since they were not mentioned in the will?

The will is just specific of what goes to any child. The residue will be there for life and it will be used for the education of these children. And that is the work of the executors. I am sure that none of Abiola’s (authentic) children would suffer from the ordinary necessities of life. The problem is executing the will, but those who will benefit, who ought to benefit will definitely benefit from it.

There was this talk that Kola the first son, has taken effective control of the family and that he is now referred to and addressed as His Excellency by the other wives and children, how true is this?

(Laughter). Well, if he has taken control of anything, definitely he has not taken control of Abiola’s wives except Abiola himself. Kola is too small, too different for a thing like that. So that much I can tell you. He has not taken over his wives. Even though in Yoruba tradition, he is supposed to be the husband of all of them, but I am sure Kola cannot perform that role at all. (General laughter). Kola will just be the father figure of the family. That is talking about the wives. But his immediate concern must be on his sisters and brothers and I am sure the women will be satisfied with themselves leaving Kola alone. Those who want to get married can do that, they are free. While those who think they have put their destiny together with that of Abiola for life would stay. And Kola’s main concern must be his younger ones and I have absolute confidence that he will play the role very well. 

In the next few years, people will give him credit for playing the role well because then, he would be seen in a different light from what they are seeing him now.

Sometime ago, you were quoted as saying that the autopsy report on Abiola made available to the public was not the final report, have you received the final report now?

Yes, we have it. But we have presented it to Oputa’s Panel. We’ve petitioned Oputa’s panel with that aspect, well documented and we don’t want a distraction now that’s why we’ve kept quiet.

But is the final report out?

It is out and we’ve been able to draw conclusions. And we’ve been able to see more than what we had seen before, because a lot of things have come to our hands now. Most of the documents that Abiola himself kept and other people have come out, just as Rogers has come out, so many things we did not even think could have happened have been revealed to us. 

Is the report you have now different from the one earlier released?

Well, we know and I have said it in a very veil manner that his death was a conspiracy, so what we have to do is to expatiate on it and see how the conspiracy was hatched. And it is very interesting. The account of his last 40 minutes on this world would be made public and you’ll be surprised. His death is something that people just gloss over easily without actually visiting what happened before he died. Now we have an account of what happened before he died now.

Is it very revealing?

Yes it’s interesting and it will shock Nigerians when it is made public.

Maybe you can let us into the details?

You see, you cannot bring him back to life, but you can learn from what happened so that it will be a guide for all of us. Let us just leave it there.

Vanguard Transmitted Saturday, 08 January, 2000 


Saturday, 08 January 2000

From a widow, a cry for justice

By Tunji Bolaji

A WIDOW is crying for justice and the Presidency is likely to heed her call to investigate the killing of her husband.

Mrs. Ifeanyinwa Madubom has sought the intervention of the government in the mysterious death of Lagos-based auto spare parts dealer Chukwuma Madubom who, according to Ifeayinwa, was taken away last November 18 by faceless gun-men and killed a few days later.

The widow who said the abduction occurred at about 7 p.m on the fateful day stated that she had already petitioned the Inspector-General of Police and a source close to the presidency has said the president has promised to give it speedy attention.

The personal Assistant to President Obasanjo, Mr. Steve Itugba, confirmed that Mrs. Madubom's case was receiving attention, adding that the widow would hear from the presidency before the expiration of 21 days.

Mrs. Madubom who said men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, (SARS) have a case to answer in unravelling the identities of the killers of her husband, revealed that at Agboju police station, Lagos, where the matter was being handled, no one would volunteer information on the matter but a police officer of the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) said a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) was earlier detained in connection with the incident, but this has been resolved and the detainee released.

The widow was of the view that her late husband was in fact shot at a nearby police barracks.



Saturday, 08 January 2000

Senate deplores plan to increase fuel price

From Abiodun Adeniyi, Abuja

THE National Assembly would not support deregulation of fuel prices and any such move would be an illegality, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Labour and Productivity, Senator Shettima Mustapha said yesterday.

Mustapha restated the position of the Upper House in reaction to the government's insistence on Thursday on the deregulation of the prices of petroleum products, as was confirmed by Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity. Dr. Doyin Okupe.

The Senator who addressed a press conference was emphatic that the Senate could not allow such increase in fuel price, adding that Nigerians, especially the Labour Congress (NLC) would not want a deregulation.

He said: The statement made by President Olusegun Obasanjo on deregulation and hike in fuel prices is not a law. The budget for the year 2000 is yet to be deliberated on by the National Assembly. And I am sure that the Senate would not support increase in fuel prices.

The senator appealed to the NLC and other union members to repose confidence in the Senate and shelve any plan for strikes on the matter.

According to the legislator, the Senate is also aware of the artificial scarcity of fuel in some states. The senate committee is giving a strong warning to the petroleum dealers that their action will be seen as a sabotage to the young democracy, and their licences may be revoked by the National Assembly.

Mustapha continued: The passage of the budget will not support the increase in fuel price and I don't see why the president will go ahead and approve it.

The legislator said he was using the press to reach out to the NLC and also to assure the populace that at least 80 per cent of senators would kick against the move, adding that workers should not be disturbed.

Mustapha noted that there was no justification for the increase, except that the government has trying to follow some of the policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


Saturday, 08 January 2000

British minister arrives in Nigeria tomorrow

THE British Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr. Peter Hain (MP), arrives Nigeria tomorrow on the first leg of his visit to the West African sub-region.

While in Nigeria, Hain will on Monday visit President Olusegun Obasanjo, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Foreign Affairs Minister, Sule Lamido and principal officers of the National Assembly as well as chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.

He is also to attend a reception in Abuja in honour of Nigerian Chevening Scholars to be hosted by the country's High Commissioner in Nigeria, Sir Graham Burton.

At the reception, Hain will present the 1998/1999 scholars with certificates.

The Chevening Scholarships are prestigious awards, funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and enables overseas students to study in the United Kingdom. The scholarships are offered in more than 150 countries and supports talented graduates and young professionals to become familiar with the UK and gain skills that will benefit their countries. The programme currently provides around 2,200 new scholarships each year.

Nigeria receives 45 Chevening Scholarships yearly, at a cost of approximately N113 million. Five hundred and eighty-five Nigerians have studied in the UK on Chevening Scholarships since 1984.

On January 11, Hain will visit the Niger Delta where he is expected to meet a representative selection of community leaders and members of the British business community in the area.

He is also to visit the Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili and hold a meeting in Lagos with representatives of NGOs before leaving for Ghana the following day.

At a press conference in London during the week, Hain noted that Nigeria is re-inventing itself after a long period of brutal military dictatorship, to a new democracy which could successfully transform Nigeria to where it should always have been, as both a leading African nation and an African superpower.

While in Nigeria, he hopes to encourage President Obasanjo to stay on course with his courageous reforms, especially as the going gets much more difficult.

Prior to his current appointment on July 29, last year, Hain was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Welsh Office. He has been a Labour Party member since 1977 and was shadow employment minister between 1996 and 1997.


Saturday, 08 January 2000

Agency invites carriers for Christian pilgrimate

THE Office of Pilgrims Affairs of the Foreign Affairs Ministry has invited interested national/international airlines/carriers with qualifications and experience to submit quotations for the transportation of pilgrims from Nigeria to and from Israel for the year 2000 Christian pilgrimage operation.

Operations shall be carried out at three airports namely:-

Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and Port Harcourt International Airport, Port Harcourt.

Wide-bodied aircraft such as Boeing 747 or DC 10 with capacity for 240 to 400 passengers per trip will be required for the operations. About 5000 people are expected to perform this years pilgrimage.

Other conditions set by the pilgrims agency are that:

the airlifting operation shall be in rapid succession of a minimum of two batches;

each successful airline/carrier will be required to provide every pilgrim it carries with one traveling bag;

each successful airline/carrier shall be required to make necessary arrangements for its own handlers including landing and overflight permits in both Nigeria and Israel;

quotations (full package) are to be submitted to the Chairman, Christian Pilgrims Committee 1999/2000, Office of Pilgrims Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja on the approved Tender Forms, which are available at the Office of Pilgrims Affairs, Christian Section, (near Sheraton Hotel) Suez Crescent, Wuse, Zone 4, Abuja;

conditions of payment and other relevant information shall be provided to the applicant during a formal interview to be arranged by the Office of Pilgrims Affairs within six weeks;

quotations, which should be on wet lease, must be submitted to the Office of Pilgrims Affairs, Abuja, on or before February 22, 2000.


Saturday, 08 January 2000

Surrender to police, Tinubu advises Adams

Lekan Sanni

LAGOS State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday advised Mr. Gani Adams, leader of a faction of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) to surrender himself to the police adding that what happened in Mushin on Wednesday was a gang war.

Answering questions from reporters at the end of the Ed-El-Fitri prayer to mark the end of the Ramadan fasting at the Dodan Barrack, Obalende praying ground, the governor said that being wanted by the police does not determine criminality.

Adams was declared wanted by the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Mike Okiro over the activities of his OPC faction in recent times.

The police has information to the effect that they want him. And it is advisable for him to appear, surrender to the police. That is what I would suggest. They have enough information to want to invite him for questioning or chat. As a good citizen, he should report to the police.

Being wanted by the police does not determine criminality. You have to be careful, Tinubu said.

On the Mushin fracas, the governor said it was a gang war adding that it was abnormal that such things happened.

It is not political. It is just one gang trying to gain control of the other within a tiny section of Mushin, and the police are in control, he said.

Tinubu accused the media of blowing the crisis and violent clashes in the state out of proportion and expressed the fear that it has the tendency of discouraging investors.

For instance, the level of violence in Nigeria, according to him, was not comparable to that of South Africa or the western world.

I don't believe there is that degree of violence and we have to be careful of our report here. We are all public servants, whether you are in journalism or in politics.

Don't forget you being the people to lament the level of unemployment in our society. The moment you overly report or exaggerate ordinary gang clash, you undermine the investing potentials of this state.

You need fresh investment to come to our state and particularly Nigeria. You have to be careful because your brothers and sisters are directly involved and you want to ensure that actual and accurate fact is given to the public, particularly the international community.

The measuring of the barometer of what progress we are making in this country is through the media. If you exaggerate what has occurred all over the world, even in the western world, it works against everybody.

The level of crime being committed in Nigeria is not as heavy as that of South Africa. It will hurt our economy if care is not taken. But we are going to do everything possible to safeguard the lives and property of our people, he said.

He re-iterated his call for the establishment of state police. The call he insisted was not an indictment of the police. Rather, he said that the present structure was fundamentally defective as nobody can determine the security requirement of a state except the man on the spot.

He said that if the amount being spent by the Federal Government on the police in Lagos State was giving to the state, there will be better, efficient and effective policing, which will reduce crime considerably.

If we are ready, the regionalisation of the police is the right thing. Over centralisation of power, greed, blind ambition is what has hindered our progress, he said.

The governor urged Lagosians to make total commitment to the word of Allah in keeping peace, stability and rendering service to humanity.

He said that government must put smiles on the faces of the people, and expressed the need to close the gap between the rich and the poor.

Yesterdays prayer was led by the Chief Imam of Lagos, Alhaji Garba Akinola Ibrahim.

Also present at the praying ground were the Baba Adini of Nigeria, Alhaji Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo and members of the state executive council.


Friday, 07 January 2000

Nigeria on path to recovery, says Obasanjo

From Emeka Nwankpa, Abuja

THERE are sufficient indications that Nigeria is fully back on the track of development that will improve the life of citizens, according to President Olusegun Obasanjo.

This, he said yesterday, gave cause to be thankful to God. But there is need for all to persevere, and to rededicate themselves to the cause of national rebirth, he added.

The President spoke at a brief informal ceremony at the State House, Abuja, organised to mark the end of Ramadan. He played host to Vice-President Atiku Abubakar who returned three days ago from Mecca where he performed the lesser Hajj, and led some ministers and senior government officials of the Moslem faith to the Presidents official residence.

Regaled in a heavily-embroidered ceremonial robe usually found on northern royals, called al-Kyabba, and a small white Moslem cap known as Tajia, President Obasanjo said the polity's situation called for greater efforts by citizens to foster growth.

He reminded Nigerians that the virtues of discipline and self-denial exhibited during the fasting period are prerequisites for national progress and development.

The President prayed that the country experiences divine blessings soon, saying: Our country will be a land of plenty, peace and a land of love.

Wishing his guests happy celebration of the Eid-El-Fitr}, he prayed that God would grant those travelling to their various home states journey mercies.

Vice-President Abubakar called on President Obasanjo in the company of Minister of Environment Hassan Adamu, his Inter-governmental Relations counterpart Alhaji Umar Kida, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister Ibrahim Bunu, Minister of Special Duties in the Presidency, Mr. Yomi Edu and Power and Steel Minister of State Danjuma Goje. He stooped before President Obasanjo, who patted him at the back while he made his brief remarks.

Also in the delegation were Chief of Staff to the President, Maj-Gen. Abdullahi Mohammed (rtd),Chief Justice Lawal Uwais, Police Inspector-General Musiliu Smith and Special Adviser to the President on petroleum, Alhaji Rilwan Lukman.

President Obasanjo, breaking into his characteristic humour, took a deep look at the Vice-Presidents white embroidered babariga} made of guinea brocade and said: I told the VP that my own outfit (referring to his regal look) is original; it is from the source.

The entire hall rocked with laughter, as all members of the delegation took their turns to shake hands with the President.

The Chief Imam of Abuja National Mosque, Alhaji Musa Mohammed, had earlier prayed for the country and committed the president and his team to Allah for guidance and protection.


Let’s get Nigeria to work again —Obasanjo

President Olusegun Obasanjo has asked Nigeria workers to change their attitude to work in order to contribute their quota to the development of the nation’s economy.

In his New Year Message, the President said, " The Government hopes that these measures will improve the efficiency of the system and increase productivity. Those for whom jobs are available but are not willing to work will not enjoy our sympathy. Let us develop the attribute of industry and hard work".

On the expected pay raise this year, the President said " Our Administration is aware of some of the institutional causes of this situation and we will in the new year, implement policies such as review incomes and salaries to ensure that every Nigerian worker takes home a living wage, improve the supervisory capacity within our institutions, rationalise organisation and method within the system, encourage and reward all deserving Nigerians for industry and enterprises and substantially reduce avenues for easy and illegitimate acquisition of wealth".

Lamenting the attitude of Nigerians to work, he said " In the context of our persisting hard habits, I wish to single out one specially here and now, that is, the problem of low productivity in the country. We have before us a picture of an economy requiring gigantic productive input if it is to be resuscitated. Nigeria today needs the brains and brawns of all of us".

President Obasanjo told the nation" If the tasks necessary for an effective turn- around of our economy were shared out equitably, there would be enough jobs to keep every woman, man and child working for a long time. Yet we have this absurd situation of massive unemployment co-existing with underemployment of those who are in jobs".

Clearly, the President said " there is something wrong. It would appear that many Nigerians in job are doing things, which they ought not to do and leaving undone those things, which they ought to do. The result is colossal inefficiency in the system".

The President declared " In short, for too long, Nigeria has not been working and it is not working yet". He advised " We must reorientate ourselves to a better sense of duty and begin to see our service in the context of getting fulfillment from doing a full day’s job. Let us once and for all get rid of the colonial notion that our official responsibilities are Whiteman’s job from which we derive nothing more than a pay packet and therefore owe nothing to the society at large nor expect fulfillment.

We should collectively resolve to get Nigeria working again. We should all rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of the goals we have set ourselves, to the direction we have chosen to move our nation.

We are all agreed to build a Nigeria where no citizens should lack the basics of life- food, shelter, education, employment and health care- a Nigeria that holds promise for our children and future generations.".

The President concluded " These requirements are the absolute minimum we can demand of ourselves at this time of history. And rededicating ourselves to attaining them is the only way we can get our country moving again".

Vanguard Transmitted Thursday, 06 January, 2000

Obasanjo's goodwill message to Muslims

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday sent his goodwill message to Muslims over the Eid-El-Fitr celebrations.

The message reads:

"I send our Muslim brothers and sisters greetings and hearty felicitations on this joyous occasion of the first Eid-El-Fitr celebrations in the 21st century. I congratulate you all who have fulfilled one of the major demands of Islam by enduring the edifying self-denials of the month of Ramadan.

"The lessons which adherents of the great religion of Islam are expected to internalise from the rigours of Ramadan are those of piety, discipline, truthfulness, honesty, charity, justice, equity and fairness to all. These are worthy virtues which we all will do well to imbibe as there can be no doubt that our dear nation, Nigeria will be a much better place for us all to live in if, collectively and as individuals, we reflect these virtues in our daily lives as well as our social, economic and political relationships.

"The mass internalisation of the ideals of charity, honesty, justice, equity and fairness to all by our political leadership at all levels and the general citizenry will certainly stand our country in good stead as we continue to seek solutions and the resolution of the many problems which have hindered the realisation of our immense potentials.

"We all have a role to play in the national effort to build a strong, united, progressive and prosperous nation of our dreams and I urge all Nigerians, on this auspicious occasion of Eid-El-Fitr to rededicate themselves to overcoming at last, the great challenges which we must surmount for our country to take its rightful place in the comity of nations in the new millennium.

"In this regard, the importance of mutual tolerance and respect for other faiths and beliefs cannot be over-stressed. The path of separation of state and religion, which was chosen for our country from the beginning, is still enshrined in its supreme law, the 1999 constitution. Given the multiplicity of religions and sects in the country, the wisdom of this choice cannot be doubted and we must do our best to safeguard it and guarantee the freedom of all our people to practice their chosen faiths and religions in peace.

"Our new democratic dispensation provides a political framework for the realisation of our collective aspirations and we must all do our best to strengthen and not weaken it. One way of doing this is to ensure that our collective attention is properly focused at all times on the urgent tasks of nation-building before us and that we are not distracted by needless and diversionary controversies.

"As we celebrate Eid-El-Fitr today, it is my sincere hope and prayer that God Almighty will, in His infinite mercies, continue to guide and bless our nation and give us, its leaders, the wisdom and courage to always do what is in the best interest of the citizens.

I wish you all happy celebrations".

Vanguard Transmitted Thursday, 06 January, 2000


40 die in Mushin, Ibadan mayhem *As OPC confronts robbers *20 houses set ablaze

By Ogbonna Amadi, Kingsley Omonobi & Sina Babasola, Ibadan

NO fewer than 40 people were feared dead yesterday in two separate clashes at Idi-Oro in Mushin area of Lagos and Ojoo in Ibadan.

Thirty of the deaths were recorded in Lagos.

At least 20 houses were also set on fire in the Mushin incident by suspected members of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) in what they called a cleansing operation, aimed at ridding the area of robbers, prostitutes, drug addicts and drug merchants.

Some of the charred bodies littered Akala, Alhaji Lasisi and Elegba streets yesterday afternoon.

The battle which began 7.00 p.m. on Tuesday and was still raging as at the time of filing this report saw the OPC members and their opponents freely using arms, ammunition, matchets, axes and other dangerous weapons.

Economic activities were temporarily halted as residents of Akala, Akinbiyi, Alhaji Lasisi, Elegba, Anifowose, Braimoh and adjourning streets fled as the mayhem reigned.

The OPC members who overwhelmed their opponents and were enjoying the support of landlords and tenants of the area, according to eye witness account dragged their targets out to the streets and on receiving a nod from the residents confirming each suspect to be a robber or hoodlum set him ablaze.

Houses hired by some of the suspects were torched after other tenants had been warned to move out their property.

But at least, three other houses were inadvertently burnt as fire from suspects’ houses spread.

As the battle raged the police were no where to be seen. The Olosa Police Station was shut. According to a member of the OPC who chose to be anonymous: "Trouble began last Thursday when a female member, Miss Biola Lamidi who was on an errand for our president was killed by Akala boys on Ogunmokun Street.

"There were 18 of them armed with a police rifle which they had earlier snatched from a mobile police officer who they killed in the process.

"They met the girl at the Ogunmokun Street and killed her and abandoned the dead body.

"After killing her, some of our members resident here carried the girl’s dead body to police zone ‘D’ to incident the case.

"And so on Thursday after we had incidented the case, we headed for the house of their leaders, at least to report the matter to them only to be attacked with bottles and stones.

"Five of our people were injured.

"Later at about 9.00 p.m. on the same day they attacked the houses of some of our members, killing and burning down 11 houses on Railway Line on Oloruninbe, Adegbite streets.

"Again on Friday they attempted to burn the house of our leader, Alhaji Lawal, the Baba Ode of Yoruba land.

"Now we are telling them we are ready for war, Akala versus Oodua."

Residents confirmed that one of the streets, Akala, had become notorious for all sorts of crimes: Robbery, drug and prostitution.

A resident of Ogunmokun Street said: "These people had made life unsafe for everybody. They enjoyed the support of the police who were always quick to release them every time they were arrested."

He added: "We identify with what the OPC boys are doing, and happy that these boys are being flushed out of this area."

As Vanguard made to leave the war zone another building said to be the warehouse for the robbers’ stolen goods and ammunition was set ablaze.

Everyone scampered for safety as bullets exploded in different directions as the building was gutted.

However, the police claimed that only four bodies had been recovered, and seven houses burnt.

The state police commission, Mr. Mike Okiro told reporters that the mayhem resulted from a crisis between OPC members and residents of Akala area.

He said security had been tightened up in the area.

bulletIbadan mayhem

The Ibadan mayhem resulted from a motor accident at the Oojo end of the Ibadan - Lagos expressway.

A Kano-bound trailer with registration number XA 233KBK had allegedly lost control, ramming into a stationary Lagos bound passenger bus with registration number CX 459 LUY. Three of the passengers in the bus died instantly.

According to eye witness, the driver of the trailer after realising that his break had failed jumped out of the truck and went to hide among Hausa traders in the area, even after the trailer had hit three other vehicles.

On-lookers went for the trailer driver, but Hausa leaders in the area declined to release him, sparking off a clash between Yorubas and Hausas.

Cutlasses, arrows and other weapons were used by both sides.

The Oyo State Commissioner for Agriculture, Professor Banjo Olateju who was sent to the scene by Governor Lam Adesina nearly lost his life but for the timely efforts of policemen deployed to the area to maintain law and order who shielded him from missiles.

At exactly 2.55pm, the anti-riot policemen deployed to the scene left for reinforcement as the combatants got uncontrollable.

To forestall the spread of the crisis to Bodija area of Ibadan, a detachment of anti-riot policemen was drafted to the main gate of the University of Ibadan.

Mr. Mike Olagunju, the Oyo sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) confirmed the death of the three Lagos bound passengers.

Traffic and vehicular movements around the area were completely disrupted for several hours as people abandoned the route.

Buses plying Ojoo-Shasha route terminated their journey at Orogun bus stop while those from Oyo and Ogbomosho stopped at Shasha while the clash lasted.

A photographer with the Punch Newspapers, Mr. Sikiru Adeoye was manhandled by the mob and his camera damaged.

The FRSC sector commander warned that drivers should desist from parking at the expressway, saying "erring drivers would be henceforth be arrested, we can no longer tolerate the situation again."

The Baale of Oojo Alhaji Busari Emiola told Governor Lam Adesina who later visited the scene of the incident that the arrival of foreigners from Senegal fuelled the crisis.

The Baale said that one of his relations was shot with an arrow and died instantly adding that three other dead bodies were discovered after the mayhem.

The Governor accompanied by the state police commissioner warned residents of the area against fomenting trouble stressing that security agents had been directed to deal ruthlessly with anybody disturbing the peace of the state.

Alhaji Adesina told leaders of the various ethnic groups in the area to call their people to order, as government could not afford any breach of peace and destruction of life and property.

Leader of Hausa community, Alhaji Ali Yaro assured the state governor that his people would not embark on any reprisal.

While the governor and his entourage were still holding consultations with leaders in the area, members of OPC arrived the area and caused a stir.

Assistant police commissioner (operations) in the state, Mr. Olu Olaniyi informed the governor that several policemen injured in the fracas had been taken to the hospital for treatment.

Friday, 07 January 2000

Nigerians in U.S to launch newspaper

AGROUP of Nigerian journalists in New York, United States, will this month launch a newspaper titled: {African and Nigerian Abroad}.

The newspaper, which has Africans as its readership target in New York area, is promoted by former Abuja correspondent of {Tempo} Newspaper, Alex Kabba; former bureau chief of {Concord} Sam Omatseye and Remi Oyeyemi.

Kabba told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in New York, that the newspaper to cost $1 would debut as a weekly on January 15.

{African & Nigerian Abroad} is an independent, non-partisan newspaper geared towards the promotion of the blackman wherever he may be, and will not hesitate to take a position where it is generally felt that the interest of any descendant of Africa is threatened, Kabba said in the mission statement.

Vanguard Transmitted Thursday, 06 January, 2000 


Friday, 07 January 2000

Odili urges communities to end hostilities

From Vivian Egbulefu, Port Harcourt

GOVERNOR Peter Odili of River State has appealed to citizens of the state to live in peace as it was essential for the development of any nation.

Speaking when he visited Eleme, Okrika and Ogu/Bolo communities as part of efforts to restore peace to the three communities, he said: Any price we pay to save lives and get peace is worthy because God does not intend us to live in crisis.

He assured the people of Okrika of improved and better living condition before the expiration of his tenure, but appealed to them to support and co-operate with his administration to enable him fulfil his programmes.

At Eleme, the governor urged them to eschew bitterness and rancour in their activities and rather join hands with his administration to enthrone lasting peace, prosperity and progress in their area by being law-abiding.

The various communities had in their addresses of welcome, called for the release of the government White paper on the Eleme-Okrika conflict.

At this year's Armed Forces remembrance week, Odili promised to establish a special healthcare scheme from which families of ex-servicemen would benefit.

He said it was imperative for all Nigerians and the government in particular to ensure that the families of fallen heroes were assisted, in appreciation for the supreme sacrifice they made to keep us all alive.

Donating N1 million to the Remembrance Emblem Appeal Fund and a new 18-seater air-conditioned bus to the Nigerian Legion, the governor said the gesture was part of the welfare package from the government, while assuring that an office complex would soon be provided.

Odili appealed to Nigerians to show love and unity to the legion to ensure that their services were not forgotten especially for their contribution in keeping peace outside and within the West African sub-region.

The state chairman of the legion Diggs Akobo (rtd) restated his members commitment to work in partnership with the government to bring about the desired improvement in the quality of lives of ex-service men and their dependants.


Friday, 07 January 2000

Rivers to build millennium centre, 6,000 houses

AMILLENNIUM centre, comprising a 130-metre tall tower is to be built by the Rivers State Government before the end of this year.

When completed, it would have facilities for an ecumenical hall of worship, restaurant, shopping malls, clinic, amusement park, a museum and a multi-storey 500 capacity car park. Governor Peter Odili who announced the plan in Port Harcourt, yesterday, also disclosed governments decision to build 6,000 new houses this year.

It is our prayer that by the time we finish with our mandate, no Rivers man will be disgraced as a tenant in this state, Odili said.

He added that the government has resolved to redirect its attention to agriculture because, it had realised that oil and gas are not the sources of economic emancipation.

State-owned oil palm company, RISON Palm, would be expanded in the next two years, adding that a team of experts would be sent to Malaysia to understudy that country's experiment in that regard.

He called on the people to exhibit sense of unity and commitment to common good and eschew primordial sentiments, which he said could retard the progress of the state.

In his speech, the Minister of Labour and Productivity Chief Tonye Graham-Douglas, said that River State, was first among others in virtually every area of governance in the country.

He stressed the need for unity, good focus and a determination toward a strong commercial base to ensure the success of the programmes already put in place by the Odili administration.


Friday, 07 January 2000

Fawehinmi condemns acid attack on police

ACTIVIST lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi has condemned Tuesday's acid attack on two policemen in Lagos, warning that the trend could lead to anarchy, chaos and instability if left unchecked.

In a statement in Lagos, yesterday, Fawehinmi urged President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Musiliu Smith to check the spate of insecurity in the state.

His statement reads: I am disturbed by the reported acid attacks on the police in various parts of Lagos State by various hoodlums.

To the civil society, policemen and women are constitutionally empowered to protect life and property and if they become targets to acid attacks, then the citizenry is without protection. The consequence of that is anarchy, chaos and instability.

Lagos is the economic nerve centre of Nigeria. The Federal Government should not leave the state of insecurity in Lagos State

I appeal to the President and his Inspector-General of Police to be alive to their responsibilities of protecting life and property of the general citizenry and of their own men and women who wear the nation's police uniform.

The first duty of any government, whether at the centre or in the state, is to protect life and property. A situation where policemen are bathed with acid by hoodlums does not augur well for the peace, order and good governance of the country in general and Lagos State in particular, it concluded.


Use religion to foster peace, leaders urge clerics

January 07, 2000 Use religion to foster peace, leaders urge clerics From Isa Abdulsalami (Jos),Mike Osunde (Benin) and Julus Alabi (Akure} THE need for religious leaders to foster peace formed the kernel of messages from various political leaders yesterday as Moslems marked the Eid-el-fitri with prayers at various praying grounds. Plateau State Governor Joshua Dariye urged all Moslems to use the vehicle of religion to unite the country and not to bring about its disintegration. He charged religious leaders to preach peace and sensitise their followership to live by example. “For the Moslem Al-Umma, Ramadan fast has a great significance. It is a period of sobriety, self-denial, love, humility, consecration and purification of the body, soul and spirit. It is a period for spiritual upliftment and closeness to God,” Dariye said. He urged all to preach peace, love and unity in the country through the practice of religion. According to him, “each of us will stand individually to give account of our stewardship here on earth. Since religion is the way of achieving conformity to the will of God, its effects have to be felt in our public life.” At the Polo Field praying ground, Alhaji Aliyu Aliyu and Alhaji Alhassan Said harped on humility among Islamic faithful. In separate sermons, they both urged Moslems not to revert to their old ways of living before they started fasting. The essence of fasting, according to them, was total sacrifice, adding that by fasting, Moslems experienced what the poor who did not have enough constantly experienced. Governor Bonie Haruna of Adamawa appealed to Moslems to use the lessons of the 30-day fasting to promote religious tolerance and harmony. He also called on them to support the government’s efforts to make life more meaningful for them and to make patriotism, hardwork and absolute commitment to the goals of the government their watchword. Thousands of Moslem faithful in Yola joined their counterparts in other parts of the world to celebrate the first Eid-El-Fitri of the new millennium with a prayer session. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said the session was led by the Chief Imam of Yola central mosque, Alhaji Ahmadu Bodoi, who prayed for the unity and progress of the nation. The Lamido of Adamawa, Alhaji Aliyu Mustapha, his title holders, the state Deputy Governor Bello Tukur, some members of the state executive council and some legislators attended the prayer session. In Lagos, Governor Bola Tinubu appealed to citizens to reciprocate government’s gestyre to make their lives more meaningful by reflecting on the experience of the fasting period. He said: “I urge all to ensure that the values of sacrifice, self-denial, discipline, self-control, and love for our fellow human beings do not end with the holy month of Ramadan. We need to exhibit tolerance, self-denial, and discipline if Nigeria is to survive as a united and prosperous country.” Tinubu also urged rich Nigerians to always “spare a thought for the millions of Nigerians who are forced to fast on a daily basis not due to any religious commitment but because they have no food to eat.” He stressed that security of lives and property was vital to the successful implementation of his poverty alleviation programmes. He pledged government’s determination to “effectively protect lives and property” in order to “make our state safe for foreign investment.” There was a mild drama at Ikpoba slope praying ground, Benin, as a snake emerged from the overgrown bush, sending gaily dressed worshippers scampering for safety. The prayers resumed after the snake was killed. Some of the worshippers blamed Islamic leaders in the community for failing to clear the overgrown weeds on the praying ground. A worshipper who spoke to The Guardian on condition of anonymity said: “If you were on to the network news on NTA last night (Wednesday), you would have seen what ought to have been done before today. “While some adults cleared the praying grounds in Abuja, children swept and cleared the place of rubbish,” he said. Alhaji Ramonu Omozuufor said it was only yesterday morning that attempts were made to clear the weeds. But this was not completed before worshippers began to arrive to spread their praying mats. He said the Chief Imam had just called the faithful up to prayers when the snake, apparently hiding under a mat, took flight, sending children and their parents scampering for safety. The prayers dwelt on peace, which was the theme of the Sallah message released yesterday by Edo State Governor Lucky Igbinedion. Igbinedion sued for peace in the land “for the enthronement of a true democracy,” and said: “We need peace for the seeds of development this administration has sown to mature and bear fruit.” The president of League of Imams and Alfas in Yoruba land, Edo and Delta states Alhaji Yayi Akorede in his message enjoined President Obasanjo to address the major socio-economic problems confronting the nation. He said that in this new millennium, “there is an urgent need for an equally spiritual transition in our conduct as individuals and men in authority.” He urged political leaders to eschew greed and give priority attention to matters that would serve the interest of the people in the country. “It is incumbent on all Nigerians, including the Moslems, church, the government and the people, to sanitise the system by fighting corruption, bribery and other social vices that had destroyed the social fabrics of the nation,” he said. Akorede who is also the Chief Imam of Akure however prayed that Nigeria as a nation would be endowed with good leaders who will lead her to glory land. He advised Moslems to know that God would judge every faithful and reward those with good deeds. He likened righteous Moslems to wheat and described the disobedient ones as weeds, pointing out that they would be rewarded accordingly. The Emir of Ilorin Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, while recalling the recent religious upheaval in the town, warned Moslem youths to uphold the tenets of Islam which abhor violence. He upbraided the press for sensational coverage of the crisis, saying no visible economic development could be attained in an atmosphere ladden with violence.


Friday, 07 January 2000

Air crash victims leave hospital

From Arthur Obayuwana, Abuja

SECURITY was yesterday tight-knit around the ill-fated Skypower Express Airways plane that crashlanded on Wednesday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, as survivors picked up the pieces.

Seven of the 11 persons who were injured in the mishap were discharged from the Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital. But as at 4.30 p.m. yesterday, the crashed aircraft was still in the bush farmland at the east end of the airports terminal run way curve.

Security personnel intercepted The Guardian} a few meters to the aircraft, in the precincts already designated security zone. A polite officer in response to promptings ascribed the security cordon to a need to forestall the aircraft being vandalised.

He also explained that the lady who was killed when the plane crash landed was on the runway.

An extra security arrangement has also been put in place, with the drafting in of personnel believed to be from places other than Abuja and Lagos.

Explaining why the reporter was intercepted after some anxious moment of waiting at the main security post, a senior security officer said: We have armed men in those bushes. I cannot guarantee what will happen to you because you do not know what instructions were given to the soldiers; you should have come here first... The reporter consequently took a bush path through the neighbouring Tsoro village.

The pilot, Capt. Mohammed Baba Azimi, who sustained serious injuries, is responding to treatment.

At the monitoring room of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Gwagwalada Hospital where he is receiving treatment, his head was yesterday heavily bandaged.

His left leg was in a Plaster of Paris (POP) while the left arm revealing blood stains was also in bandage.

He was sleeping when The Guardian} called in towards the evening. One of the hospital workers spoke on his recovery. He said: He doesnt have any major complications. He has been particular about his crew members, suggesting that there is no brain damage. He is always requesting for pap. He is quite humorous and prefers being referred to as Captain, not pilot...

Azimi who has been flying for seven years, was said to have expressed dismay at the mishap, especially when he was almost touching down.

At his bed side yesterday were his wife, Jumai, and son, Isah, both of whom came in from Kano.

She said: I am alright now seeing him alive. When the news first came to us, we thought he was dead.

There were about five unengaged step-carriers belonging to the Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) at the airport yesterday.

The other discharged victims, The Guardian} learnt, have been taken to the CBN Clinic in Abuja, as the Airport Clinic was said to be ill-equipped.


Friday, 07 January 2000

Nigeria to launch UK High Commission on Internet

THE Nigerian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, Mr. Bola Ajibola, on Wednesday in London, announced plans to launch the country's mission on the Internet.

Ajibola, who spoke during a dinner he hosted for African media practitioners, said information on the commission would be provided on the Internet to ensure easy accessibility to the public.

He said with the information on the Internet and his new approach to issues, the activities of the commission would no longer be shrouded in mystery.

The former judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), The Hague, Netherlands, said the commission was now people-friendly, stressing that the lackadaisical attitude of its staff towards Nigerians has changed.

He gave an assurance that requests for new or renewal of passports, as well as visas, would no longer be delayed, adding that most of the requests would be attended to and dispensed with within 48 hours.

On corruption in Nigeria, the high commissioner said once the anti-corruption bill was passed by the National Assembly, things must begin to change, emphasising that the law would bite anyone that defaulted.

He recalled that as the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General under President Ibrahim Babangida, he initiated measures against corruption, which culminated in setting up an anti-corruption committee under the chairmanship of Justice Kayode Eso.

Ajibola warned Nigerians against indulging in corrupt practices or colluding with outsiders to portray the country in bad light, as was recently done by a television station in London which portrayed Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos negatively.

The high commissioner urged African media practitioners to be in the forefront of projecting the continent positively, rather than portraying it in bad light. He, however, charged them to purge themselves of the pull down syndrome which, he said, was inimical to development in the continent.

He noted that the media in other parts of the world not only projected their people positively, but also defended their interests, stressing that the African media should not be an exception.


Jan. 5, 2000

Adebanjo blames AD crisis on external forces *Song remains the boss, says Pub. Sec.

By John Ighodaro

DEPUTY National Chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Chief Ayo Adebanjo has described the ongoing crisis in the party as an inspired one created both by internal and external forces.

Speaking to newsmen yesterday in Lagos, Chief Adebanjo said: "The crisis you talk about is inspired crisis created by internal and external forces. How can some people just wake up from nowhere and say they have removed the chairman of the party?"

Asked to comment on the purported suspension of Senator Abraham Adesanya from the party, he retorted: "Usman Song has denied he ever said that."

Asked further if he recognised Alhaji Song’s purported position in the party, Chief Adebanjo said: "I don’t know Song. If he were to enter this room now, I wouldn’t know him. I don’t know him."

He was irritated at the suggestion that the AD would have to dialogue with the "protem national chairman."

His response: "Dialogue? How? I wouldn’t know those responsible for this. They planned to create artificial crisis."

Told that the AD senators in the National Assembly planned to wade into the crisis by investigating the crisis with a view to resolving it, he said, "have you ever heard of a tail wagging the dog? What constitutional provisions do they have to do that? That is an irregularity by itself."

Chief Adebanjo also reacted to complaints by former civilian governor of Edo State, Chief John Oyegun that AD leadership should be blamed for the current crisis.

He said, "Oyegun must have a reason for saying what he said. I don’t want to engage in a press war with members of the party. You don’t run a party by doing a press war. However, Oyegun made some comments which I will agree with but I don’t want to engage in a press war."

Asserting he was a true party man, Chief Adebanjo said he would react to Chief Bola Ige’s comments on the party at the appropriate time and place and "not on the pages of newspapers."

While agreeing that all was not well with the party he said the Usman Song’s issue was being looked into.

He acknowledged that "all the parties were formed in a hurry, and some candidates were not even properly screened."

He dismissed the allegation levelled at the national chairman of the party, Ambassador Yusuf Mamman by Alhaji Usman Song as "general accusations," saying that Alhaji Song was not specific.

Asked if he hoped to run for the chairmanship of the party during the forthcoming convention, he said, "many of us are not dying for office. When we get to the bridge, we shall cross it."

Alhaji Song who was the Kaduna State Chairman of AD was suspended by Kaduna State chapter of the party.

 Song remains the boss, says Pub. Sec.

Meanwhile the National Publicity Secretary of Alliance for Democracy (AD), Dr. Dominique Abubakar has said that Alhaji Adamu Song remains the authentic national chairman of the party.

Abubakar in an interview in Abuja yesterday said that there was no truth whatsoever in a report, which claimed that the Kaduna chapter of the party, to which Song belonged, had suspended him from the party.

"There is no truth whatsoever in the reports. It is simply the handiwork of Amb. Yusuf Mamman, who has engaged in misinformation since he was removed as the national chairman of the party last month," he said.

Abubakar said that the chairman of the Kaduna chapter of the party would address the press on the issue today.

Abubakar also denied reports that the party had suspended Senator Abraham Adesanya, an elder of the party, saying that only Mamman was removed from office.

The publicity secretary said that Mamman was removed from office because he had avoided giving account of his stewardship and that while the other two political parties, APP and PDP, had held their convention and submitted their audited accounts to INEC as required by law, ad was yet to do so.

"AD was the first to set up a convention committee headed by Chief Olu Falae, but Mamman sat on the report,’’ he claimed.

Abubakar said that Song, the new chairman, had embarked on nationwide tour of the federation and that he had been well received in the three geo-political zones he had so far visited in the Northern part of the country.

He said that the National Executive Council (NEC) of the party would meet in Abuja in a fortnight to decide on the modalities for conduct of the party’s convention, where new leaders to run the party would be elected.

Efforts to reach Mamman to comment on these failed.

Vanguard Transmitted Tuesday, 05 January, 2000


Wednesday, January 05, 2000

 Police arrest five OPC members in Lagos

By Ben Akparanta, Police Affairs Correspondent

FIVE suspected members of O’odua Peoples Congress (OPC) who were bleeding from wounds in their thighs were paraded yesterday at the premises of the Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja as police authorities confirmed the killing of two of their men on Monday, in Lagos.

  The suspected men were stripped of their shirts and blood soaked trousers as they lay motionless near a 50-litre jerry can said to contain acid, which was allegedly found with them. There were also  assortment of charms and matchets that were displayed by the police.

  Sources said police arrested the suspects two days ago, following a tip-off that they were planning to attack a police station.

  Details of their arrest was sketchy, but  Police Commissioner, Mr. Mike Okiro who opted to meet with Governor Bola Tinubu on the issue is expected to release details  later today.

  Meanwhile, police authorities have confirmed that marauding hoodlums shot and killed two policemen on Monday, at  Bode Thomas, Surulere and Trinity end of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.

  The policemen, an inspector and a sergeant of the Police Mobile Force (PMF) unit, were killed at different intervals by the gunmen who opened fire on them while driving past police routine stop and search points.

  Mr. Fabulous Enyaosah, spokesman of the  Command, said efforts are on to unmask the culprits.

  Enyaosah added that 12 policemen were killed by gunmen in different parts of Lagos last year.


Wednesday, January 05, 2000

 Govt votes N10b to create .2m jobs

Scraps FEAP, NALDA, FACU From Emeka Nwankpa, Abuja

SOME 200,000 jobs are to be created by the government, in its poverty alleviation drive for which an initial budget of N10 billion was yesterday voted by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

  Official axe, however, fell on the Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP). The government announced its scrapping along with the National Agricultural Development Authority (NALDA) and the Federal Agricultural Co-ordinating Unit (FACU).

  Simultaneously, an implementation council for comprehensive poverty alleviationand job creation programmes has been raised. The new council has President Olusegun Obasanjo as chairman; while members include the ministers of Agriculture, Education, Works and Housing, Water Resources, Industries as well as Health.

  Minister of Integration and Co-operation in Africa at the Presidency, Prof. Jerry Gana yesterday said the job creation budget would shortly be presented for the National Assembly’s assent.

  He explained that the three agencies were being scrapped in the government’s effort to rationalise and streamline activities of the 16 poverty alleviation organs currently in existence.



Wednesday, January 05, 2000

 Import ban on finished goods imminent

By Ade Ogidan, Senior Correspondent

NIGERIA’s borders may shortly be shut against importation of finished goods for which local industries have capacity, in a new drive by the government to propel the comatose real sector.

  A substantial cutback on raw materials import duties may also be in the offing; while a safety valve is to be put in place against goods dumping through proper monitoring of the Customs and inspection agents.

  Sources said the Presidency was also already fine-tuning a new bill to that effect, which is shortly to be sent for the National Assembly’s assent.

  Goods likely to be affected by an importation ban include textiles, edible oil, cement, refrigerators, certain brands of vehicles air conditioners, soap and detergents, personal as well as other consumer products.

  The new policy drive, an apparent reversal of the policy of import liberalisation hitherto pursued, is coming on the heels of a clamour for Nigeria to review its embrace of World Trade Organisation (WTO) treaties. The treaties stress dismantling of trade barriers among nations in the spirit of globalisation.

  Presidency sources confirmed that the government could no longer ignore the unfair competition locally made goods are being made to face against imported finished materials.

  Specifically, President Olusegun Obasanjo was said to have expressed dismay at the dwindling fortunes of the manufacturing sector, which now operates at an average capacity utilisation level of 28.6 per cent.

  The president, according to sources, is convinced that only protective measures for local producers can boost the sector’s employment profile in line with the official poverty alleviation drive.

  To effect the proposed import ban policy, Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, himself a former Customs officer, is expected to be directly involved in monitoring of the department’s activities.

  Besides, import inspection agents are to come under closer scrutiny, to ensure that banned goods do not find their way into the local market.

  Vice-President Abubakar has reportedly alerted the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and inspection agents to the government’s mood, warning that heads may roll in the efforts to ensure strict implementation of the protective measures.

  Presidency sources said the new policy thrust crystalised from a recent parley between government officials and members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS). Vice-President Abubakar led the government delegation comprising Finance Minister, Adamu Ciroma, NCS Comptroller General Aliyu Mustapha and Mr. Shola Akanmode, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Vice-President.

  The OPS team at the parley was led by Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Vice-President, Chief Kola Jamodu. Other members were MAN’s Acting Director-General Jide Mike, Chief A. Chanrai and Alhaji Aliko Dangote, both of the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association (NTMA).

  At that meeting, Jamodu had presented, on behalf of the OPS, a catalogue of woes being faced by local manufacturers, which he said had arisen, largely from unbridled importation of finished goods.

  Also, he complained about leakages on the part of inspection agents and the Customs, which allegedly have encouraged under-invoicing and, sometimes, non-declaration of goods - thereby giving imports undue price edge over local made goods.

  The OPS consequently proposed a ban on all imported goods for which there is enough local production capacity, while all other imports should be registered and subjected to compulsory comprehensive pre-shipment inspection.

  At the meeting, Vice-President Abubakar expressed disappointment over the performances of inspection agents and the NCS. He also reportedly warned that the government would henceforth view seriously any lapse on the part of the two agencies.


Jan. 4, 2000

NLC okays peaceful protest

By Ise-Oluwa Ige

THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) pledged, yesterday, its commitment henceforth to a culture of peaceful protest with a view to protecting the country’s democracy.

NLC members recently stormed the Presidential Villa, Abuja to protest the planned deregulation of fuel price, but were dispersed by policemen who fired tear-gas.

But in a New Year message yesterday, NLC President, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole said:

"As we enter the New Year and a new century, the Nigeria Labour Congress reiterates its commitment to a united, strong, indivisible and virile nation where justice, equity and egalitarian ethos predominate in our national life.

"To preserve and sustain our current democracy, we shall continue to work towards deepening democratic culture and practices.

"In this respect, we shall continue to cultivate culture of peaceful protest among all our affiliates and state councils and work with civil society organisations and professional groups to build a grand coalition for the defence and sustenance of democracy.

Mr. Oshiomhole described 1999 as eventful for the NLC.

"His words: "For the labour movement, the year had been eventful. It opened with the struggle against increase in the price of petroleum products by the Abubakar regime. This was followed by the campaign for a new minimum wage and its enforcement. These twin issues as well as the campaign for good governance and sustainability of the new democratic rule, were to occupy the attention of the labour movement throughout the year."

On the challenges before NLC in the New Year, he said: "In the New Year, one of the challenges we must address squarely is the actualisation of a new national minimum living wage."

He asked workers and the generality of Nigerians to continue to be alert and vigilant to ensure that the pressure against government’s plan to deregulate petroleum products’ prices is sustained until the whole idea is dropped completely."

Comrade Oshiomhole, however, commended President Olusegun Obasanjo for being responsive to the yearnings of the people by dropping the planned increase, which according to him should have taken "immediate effect."

Vanguard Transmitted Tuesday, 04 January, 2000


Jan 4, 2000 

Federal Government Probes N1b UN Grant

By Rotimi Ajayi, Abuja

A TEN million-dollar (N1 billion) grant from a United Nations agency to the Federal Government for activities to usher in the new millennium is now the subject of a probe ordered by the Presidency, which is dissatisfied with the handling of the programme.

The Presidency, according to sources, is not happy with the "poor programme," drawn up for the ceremony, the poor attendance at the Eagles Square venue of the ceremony on Friday night and more importantly the costs of some of the arrangements which sources said appeared unrealistic.

The programme was handled by the Committee on Millennium Ceremonies.

The committee was set up last July with a mandate by President Olusegun Obasanjo to draw programmes to usher in the new millennium on 31st December, 1999.

The programme kicked off on Tuesday, December 28.

The committee allegedly turned in a bill of N13 million in respect of three drama events.

A millennium monument estimated to cost N105 million was not erected, sources alleged.

Other programmes executed by the committee are as follows:

bulletMillennium publications at N52.5 million;
bulletPavilions for exhibitions at N8 million;
bulletBoat regattas at N4 million;
bulletBrochures for the ceremony 5,000 copies at N4 million;
bulletFireworks at N10 million;
bulletTee-shirts and face-caps at N15 million;
bulletKey-holders and bottle-top openers at N8.5 million; and,
bulletSpecial Durbar at N5.5 million and erection of billboards at N18 million.

Sources revealed that the President was upset by the quality of fireworks used by the committee.

It was learnt that the President described the fireworks as lacking any clear-cut pattern.

One of the ministers, who headed the culture sub-committee, disclosed to State House correspondents that his sub-committee got only a little over N200 million.

He said, "this is supposed to be an open administration. My committee only got a little over N200 million."

Vanguard Transmitted Tuesday, 04 January, 2000

Tuesday, 04 January 2000

Police to comply with court ruling on shot pupil

From Emmanuel Onwubiko, Abuja

NINE-YEAR-OLD Master Ndubuisi Azubuike, who lost his eyes when he was shot by men of the defunct Operation Sweep} in Lagos, may be compensated by the police, force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Young Arabamen (DCP) said yesterday in Abuja.

The primary four pupil had been awarded N8 million exemplary damages by an Ikeja High Court in December last year.

Azubuike was shot on October 7, 1998 while returning from church. The security outfit had gone to disorganise a rally said to have been called by members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC).

Speaking exclusively with The Guardian} in Abuja, Arabamen noted that since the decision was made by a court of competent jurisdiction, the police has no reason not to obey the ruling.

It is the courts order, so police as a law enforcement agency does not believe in the practice of violating court rulings. Since it is a court of competent jurisdiction, the police will comply with the ruling.

On the strategies being put in place by the police to combat the rising crime wave in the country, Arabamen who disagreed with the view that crime was on the increase, asserted that a crime-free society cannot be achieved without what he called patriotic cooperation of the citizens.

He also said the public image of the police has never been as bad as people portray it, remarking that the force was planning comprehensive anti-crime strategies to reduce crime this year. He advised that people should volunteer useful information to the police, since, according to him, policemen are not magicians.


Tuesday, 04 January 2000

Church procures buses for mass transit

By Richard Abu

TO ease movement of faithfuls especially in Lagos, the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) in conjunction with private investors is to establish a mass transit firm to be known as Canaan Land Mass Transit. It will take delivery of the first batch of the buses this month.

Bishop of the Church, Dr. David Oyedepo who stated this at the weekend, said it was one of the church's plans to alleviate the suffering of the masses, especially the faithfuls who transit to Canaan Land, on Idiroko Road, Ota, which houses the church's new 50,000-sitting capacity Faith Tabernacle.

He said it would also enhance the status of the place as a tourist centre, saying: Since the dedication of Faith Tabernacle, on September 18, last year, the church has become not just a spiritual ground but a centre for tourists attraction. These tourists need to come here in good buses.

He assured private participants in the protection for their investments as the firm will operate on commercial basis. To ease the problems of worshippers, the buses, he said, would be stationed at the church satellite zonal headquarters for easy accessibility.

The church's Covenant University, according to him, will take off in October as arrangements for its successful implementation have been concluded.


Tuesday, 04 January 2000

Five killed in Lagos on New Year day

By Ben Akparanta, Police Affairs Correspondent

FVE people were killed in Lagos during the New Year celebrations thus renewing widespread fears that efforts to stem urban banditry in the metropolis were yet to yield results.

Two people were killed in Ajegunle while a businessman was killed at Oshodi. Also killed were two policemen attached to the Lagos State Police Command.

The killed at Ajegunle was suspected to be an assassination because no valuables were taken by the felons. The two killings were carried out at 1:15 am and 5:30 am on New Year day.

According to police sources, Gabriel Omoniroro was killed at his 169, Uzor Street Ajegunle residence, shortly after the turn of the year while Bukuola Folaranmi was shot dead about four hours later.

It was not clear whether the killings were connected to the ethnic violence that plagued the Ajegunle suburb late last year. But the police identified the dead as an Ijaw and a Yoruba.

So far, there are no links to the two killings.

However, police at the Ajegunle Station told The Guardian that Omoefe Omoniroro, a relation of Gabriel, said two gunmen approached Gabriel while he was celebrating the dawn of the new year and shot him at point blank range. He died immediately.

Few hours later, another group of gunmen, according to the police, approached Folaranmi at 10, Olodamu Street Ajegunle and shot him in the head.

These are gangland killings and we are taking precaution that it does not spread, a senior officer at the Ajegunle police station who pleaded anonymony said.

Plainlcothes detective were detailed from the officers of the Criminal Intelligence Bureau (CIB to prowl the streets of Ajegunle to determine the impact of the killing on the residents.

A businessman identified simply as Micheal was also shot dead at 72, Church Street, Oshodi at the peak of the new year merriment.

He was shot while in a procession with other celebrants. Those who were with him at the time told the police at the Makinde Station that bangers were going off at random and had doused the sound of the gun with which he was shot in the crowd.

The two policemen attached to the Lagos State Police Command were shot dead by an unidentified armed gang, according to Mr. Fabulous Enyaosah, the Commands spokesman.

Briefing journalists on the incidents yesterday, Enyaosah said that one of the policemen was attacked and shot dead by a fleeing gang.

He said members of the gang were in a Mercedes Benz car with registration number AQ 282 EKY, at Berger Bus Stop on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, where they attacked the policeman.

Enyaosah added that the second policeman was killed at Bode Thomas area in Surulere local Council Area. Another policeman, who was shot on the same day along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway in Lagos, was, however, lucky to survive the attack.

The victim, he said was being treated for injuries sustained in the attack, the police spokesman said that more than 10 policemen were killed by armed gangs in the state last year.


Tuesday, 04 January 2000

Nigerians in South Africa homesick

 MANY of us want to go back home where we will not be treated as second class citizens. We live in fear here everyday. Fear of repatriation, fear of being killed, fear of being imprisoned and all manner of fear, lamented citizen Ugo Onyekachi, resident in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Homesick and longing to contribute to their fatherland's development, Onyekachis speech at the weekend represented those of his compatriots in the country where they now eke out a living. They, however, want to return to a much-improved Nigeria.

Onyekachi continued: Please tell President Olusegun Obasanjo to make Nigeria work again, so that we can come home and get jobs. We Nigerians were once proud people, but look at us now. Hanging out on the street in fear everyday of our lives.

The graduate of Imo State University now operates a barbing salon in the black dominated Hillbrow area of the city.

All the Nigerians who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) expressed renewed confidence in the growth and stability of their fatherland but urged the government to initiate necessary measures and infrastructure that would ensure development in the new century.

They asked the government to intensify efforts in the development of basic infrastructure and the economy, to attract foreign investors and encourage the repatriation of capital by Nigerians living abroad.

Nigeria should endeavour to catch up with the rest of the world in modern technology, Nigeria should be able to tap its abundant natural resources for the development of the overall economy, said Dr. John Kilani, environmental adviser to the South African Chamber of Mines.

We have a lot of natural resources, but have been focusing on just one. Diversification will help the economy and will go a long way in solving the nations many problems, including unemployment and stagnation in growth. Nigerians themselves should be law-abiding, because we need law-abiding citizens to be able to build a stable nation, he added.

For Prof. Ambrose Adebayo, Head of Architecture Department at the Durban University in Kwazulu-Natal province, Nigeria should begin to look at new ways of interacting with the rest of the world.

Nigeria should not be a mono-product economy. It should tap into all available human and natural resources and channel proceeds towards the betterment of living standards of its people, he noted.

Dave Oguejiofor, project manager of Johannesburg-based SIO Properties Limited, expressed concern at the spate of instability in the National Assembly, advising legislators to concentrate more on the business of refining the constitution to reflect the views of the populace.

The current tide of impeachments and internal fightings should stop. These misdirected efforts are not helping the country. Also, the main religious groups in the country should strive to use their faith to ensure development in the country, rather than embark on destructive and intimidating tendencies, he added.

Hundreds of Nigerians in the Johannesburg and Pretoria areas assembled in the residence of the Consul-General in Johannesburg, Charles Onwuagbu, to usher in the millennium.


Jan. 3, 2000

FG puts Army, NAF on alert

By Kingsley Omonobi

THE Federal Government has placed the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) based on the Eastern flank of the Tactical Air Command (TAC) in Yola and Maiduguri on the alert, following the discovery that France was building a military base in Gagura, a Camerounian town close to the border with Nigeria.

Also put on the alert is the Nigerian Army Armoured Division in Maiduguri.

The French military base, according to defence sources, is nearing completion and has facilities for landing and take-off of military aircraft.

Sources said the decision to build the base, which is not far from Bakassi, which Cameroun is laying claims to, might not be unconnected with Cameroun’s determination to have the oil-rich peninsula by all means.

The National Security Council (NSC) headed by President Olusegun Obasanjo; it was gathered had directed the immediate reactivation and upgrading of the two NAF bases, which are homes to the Air Force assault helicopter wing.

Already, approval has been issued by the Defence Ministry for the Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) of the Air Force’s Super Puma assault helicopters.

Government also directed the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), AVM Isaac Alfa to get the bases, which were abandoned during the Abacha regime, ready by the end of this month.

Government, according to sources believes that Cameroun and France may have designed the Gagura base to neutralise the edge which Nigeria has in ground and sea defence over Cameroun.

Nigerian and Cameroonian troops have clashed several times over the Bakassi Peninsula.

Cameroun has failed a legal action before the World Court in The Hague, to declare it the rightful owner of the peninsula.

Vanguard Transmitted Monday, 03 January, 2000

Monday, 03 January 2000

NEPA explains operations

FREQUENT power outages in some parts of the country have been linked to isolation of electricity points at Shiroro plant and at the Egbin Thermal Power Stations.

The Assistant General Manager, Public Relations, Malam Mohammed Mousa-Booth, said the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) isolated the two power points for rehabilitation. According to him, this was responsible for the rash of power outages in the country.

Mousa-Booth said in Abuja at the weekend that the isolation of one of the four turbines with a capacity for 150 megawatts at Shiroro and another with 220 megawatts at Egbin were affecting stable power supply in the country.

He said that the isolation of the two units, with a total of 370 megawatts, had greatly depleted the power generating capacity in the country and that the non-availability of funds had hindered their immediate repair.

There is currently a shortfall in the national grid, as a result of the inactivity of the two vital units. Egbin for example with a capacity of 1,320 megawatts, is currently producing about half of the figure due to grounded machines and non-availability of spare parts and lack of funds to procure them.

Mousa-Booth also blamed the state of the nations power sector on the failure of NEPA to obtain letters of credit for the funds needed for the rehabilitation works. The inability to secure this letters is constituting a stumbling block for the planned rehabilitation of all power stations in the country, he said.

The NEPA spokesman also attributed the frequent power failures in the country to the sharp drop in the water level, which was affecting effective performance of the three hydro-power stations.

According to him, the generating limitation of the ailing seven power stations, vandalisation of NEPA's installations and equipment nationwide, illegal connections and the lack of adequate financial resources to keep the network going were also responsible for the epileptic power supply.

Mousa-Booth praised the Federal Government for its efforts to reinvigorate the power sector, but stressed the need to always provide the enabling funds to execute maintenance and repair works to keep them working.

President Olusegun Obasanjo had last month directed NEPA's management to embark on a comprehensive overhaul of its plants to be able to generate between 4,000 megawatts and 6,000 megawatts of electricity by next year.

He also gave approval for the development of proposed Mambilla and Zungeru hydroelectric projects, which have capacities to generate 3,960 megawatts and 960 megawatts, to improve the power generation capacity of the country.

NEPA is currently unable to execute some of its rehabilitation works and can not procure some components, as well as spare parts, worth about $330 million (about N33 billion) due to lack of funds.



Monday, 03 January 2000

Imo to recover N200 million from contractors

From Chukwujekwu Ilozue, Owerri

A WHITE paper issued on contracts awarded between January 10 and May 28 last year by the erswhile military government in Imo State has recommended that the government should take steps to recover over N200 million allegedly siphoned by former government officials.

The four member committee headed by Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN) which investigated contracts awarded within the period found that most of the contracts were a ruse to siphon government money.

It also discovered that many contracts were awarded after money was drawn on government accounts by the former Works and Transport Commissioner, Mr. Peter Orji.

The committee also found that some of the companies were incorporated by relations of government functionaries who collected over 81 per cent mobilisation for the job up front.

In some instances too, people related to government functionaries were used as fronts to collect money from contractors.

Mostly affected are road contracts awarded in the last two months of the previous administration.

The committee observed that most of the contracts were won by just three companies which collected mobilisation fee and abandoned the jobs.

Also affected was the order by the then administrator, Col. Tanko Zubairu (rtd), for the sinking of 36 boreholes at N1 million each without the contracts passing through proper channels. The sum of N36 million was paid out, out of which no single borehole was sunk. The committee, therefore, recommended that Orji and Zubairu who awarded the contracts should refund the money.

Besides, it recommended that Orji be referred to the police for investigation and possible prosecution, for fraudulent conversion, and for obtaining contracts by false pretences.


Peace rally in Warri

By Uwakwe Abugu, Warri

IT was song of peace all the way; weekend in Warri as thousands of Delta State indigenes stormed the Township Stadium to launch a fresh campaign for peace in the state and the entire Niger Delta region.

The peace rally, organised by the Niger Delta Oil Producing Communities Development Organisation (NIDOPCODO) was designed to foster peaceful co-existence among feuding ethnic groups in the region.

Peace in the state was also the kernel of the New Year message of the state governor, Chief James Ibori who urged the people to eschew violence so that "the decadence and decline of the past will be redressed fast in the new millennium.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Niger Delta, Chief Fred Brume who is also patron of NIDOPCODO told the crowd that the new millennium would sweep away "all the evils that have plagued Delta State and the Niger Delta all these decades."

Like Brume, clerics who spoke on the occasion stressed the need for the people to reject evil at this dawn of a new millennium.

Brume said: "Today we shall say goodbye to the neglect, marginalisation and lack of development of the Warri/Delta area and Niger Delta as a whole.

"This past century, indeed, this past millennium has witnessed also a lot of evils in this area; we witnessed slave trade when brothers sold brothers to foreign lands.

"We witnessed cheating in trade when we were not always paid fair prices for our produce such as palm oil and we also witnessed foreign colonial exploitation and even a form of local colonial-type exploitation.

"We witnessed bloodshed amongst our people as ethnic brothers attacked and maimed and killed other ethnic brothers.

"We witnessed destruction of our own dwelling houses and properties as if moved by a kind of evil force," lamented the senator.

But he said there was a ray of hope and light at the end of the tunnel.

His words: "Today we shall say good-bye to local colonialism, inter-ethnic exploitation, inter-ethnic hatred and bloodshed, and destruction of our belongings; goodbye to all the bad news of the last millennium."

Both Evangelists Cousin Mosheshe and Akpo Ofomana who preached at the rally drew attention to the mystery of the creation of mankind by one God and urged the feuding ethnic nationalities in the region to draw inspiration for peaceful co-existence from their oneness with God.

Ofomana reminded the people of the rewards of violence and any act of killing of man by another man.

"The vengeance of the Lord awaits those who waste and kill their fellow men, so, Itsekiris, Ijaws, Urhobos, Isokos and all the other ethnic groups have no choice but to live together peacefully," he said.

Mosheshe on his part said: "Peace has eluded us here these past years and it is like all the idols and shrines in the land have conspired to cause confusion in the land."

The leader of NIDOPCODO, Chief Saturday Eregbene who also addressed the rally stressed the need for the people to turn a new leaf.

He said, "our genuine struggle devoid of the thuggery postures of kidnapping, hijacking and vandalisation of oil installations will no doubt give us an edge over our detractors who have over the years deprived the people of the oppressed region a due attention in all ramifications in the past 40 years.

"The oppressed can never be oppressed forever but we should not turn our problem into laughter for others who watch some of our youths engage themselves in illegalities," he said.

Chief Ibori in a broadest to the people on the New Year day said: "I wish to solicit the co-operation of all Deltans for a peaceful environment.

"You must eschew violence, intra and inter-ethnic violence and other vices for us to move ahead.

"Put behind you all the ugly incidents of the past so that we can go on to develop our dear state," pleaded the governor.

Vanguard Transmitted Monday, 03 January, 2000

Monday, 03 January 2000

FRSC holds ECOWAS roads safety campaign

From Mike Osunde, Benin

NIGERIA'S Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) at the weekend joined its counterparts in the West African sub-region in their yearly road safety campaign with a special appeal to motorists to avoid night travels.

Statistics showed that 70 per cent of accidents involving commercial vehicles occurred at night, it disclosed.

In a statement flagging off the campaign in Benin, Edo State, the sector commander, Alhaji Danjuma Garuba, also urged motorists to avoid overloading vehicles.

The statement titled: 1999 ECOWAS Road Safety Campaign Message To All Motorists As We Arrive Into The Next Millennium.

Garuba identified other causes of accident to include excessive speeding, the use of tokunbo and worn-out tyres, drunk-driving and use of drugs.

He urged motorcyclists to undergo proper training and obtain a licence before using them for commercial purposes.

On the sectors operations in the first 11 months of last year, he said, 10,526 traffic offenders were booked, 33 of the 73 who offered bribe to the commissions officers were convicted, while 241 people died in 433 accidents in which 569 others were injured and taken to hospital.

While wishing motorists a happy new year, he said: The FRSC loves you and wishes to behold your faces in the next millennium.



Monday, 03 January 2000

Police indict monarchs over abduction in Niger Delta

By Ben Akparanta, Police Affairs Correspondent

HOSTAGE taking by youth in oil communities is being encouraged by local chiefs and liaison officers of oil companies in the area, the Delta State Police Commissioner, Mr. Yakubu Mohammed, has said.

Five of such chiefs, according to him, are already in court for alleged conspiracy and abduction while some others are under police surveillance.

The practice, according to him, was becoming rampant because some local chiefs and liaison officers of oil firms are acting as go-betweens for kidnappers and such firms.

We are aware of this trend and have measures to discourage it, Mohammed told The Guardian at the police headquarters, Asaba, at the weekend.

He said the home of a local chief at Oboro was recently raided by police and a foreign national who had been taken as hostage several days was found there. The chief, he said, had earlier approached employers of the hostage to pay a multi-million naira ransom.

Describing the Enere and Oboro communities as flash-points in the abduction of foreign nationals, the Delta State police helmsman accused the liaison officers of colluding with kidnappers to extort money from oil companies.

He said: Liaison officers of these companies convince their executives to pay millions of naira to kidnappers without informing the police. We are aware that only a small percentage of money paid to these liaison officers actually reach the youths who kidnap these expatriates.

The police, the commissioner said, would act more effectively to discourage the practice if oil companies take the police into confidence before any ransom is paid.



Monday, 03 January 2000

Abiola wins Nigerian of the millennium contest

By Francis Obinor, Staff Reporter

THE late business mogul and widely acclaimed winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola yesterday won the Nigerian of the millennium contest organised by Rhythm FM Radio in Lagos.

The contest was fashioned along the recent British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) African of the millennium contest won by the late President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.

Named alongside Abiola were the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Lagos lawyer and activist Chief Gani Fawehinmi, former military Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye and President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Abiola came top with 94 entries followed by Chief Awolowo with 42 entries and The Guardians man of the year, Gen. Abubakar coming third with 41 entries for being the second ruler after President Obasanjo to return the country to democracy.

Obasanjo had 35 entries while former military Head of State, late Gen. Sani Abacha had three entries.

Stressing that the contest was in the quest for societal growth, to highlight and honour worthy personalities with laudable positive imprints on Nigerians and the country, the presenter, Momoh Kubanji said Chief Abiola was chosen because of his detribalised personality and efforts which culminated into the current democratic dispensation in the country.



Monday, 03 January 2000

Doctors list keys to health sectors growth

By Akin Jimoh and Joseph Oji

HEALTH experts, including doctors, have identified the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as the key to optimum healthcare delivery in the new millennium. Besides, they listed innovative programmes, increased funding and better management as the keys to success of the sector.

For the scheme to succeed and impact positively on health care in the country, the experts, however, called for adequate funding and implementation of the appropriate legislation.

Mr. Bunmi Olaopa, the managing director of GlaxoWellcome, said the take-off of the NHIS is only a first step to ensuring that Nigerians have access to affordable health care with available genuine drugs.

Government, according to him, should increase the level of funding for the sector and pursue programmes that would enhance local manufacture of drugs, especially essential drugs. This, he said, would lead to gainful employment, capacity utilization and development of skills in the sector.

Noting that the pharmaceutical sector is far under-funded, Olaopa called for government subsidy for drugs in the form of tariff-waiver and other incentives that would make drugs affordable.

Particular drugs for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and other ethical medication were recommended for subsidy. According to Olaopa, the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a time bomb that needs to be addressed.

Dr. Wole Atoyebi, the secretary-general of the Confederation of African Medical Associations and Societies (CAMAS), hoped the democratic environment would further impact positively on the health sector in the new millennium.

According to him, what has worsened our health care situation in Nigeria has been our political instability. This has indeed impacted negatively on the drive for Health for All by the year 2000.

The national president of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Dominic Osaghae, looked forward to a situation where health indicators like the Infant Mortality Rate, Under five Mortality rate, Maternal Mortality Rate among others would improve tremendously.

He hoped that in the next 10 years, the NHIS would have not only taken off but would be fully consolidated, for a universally available, accessible and affordable health care service in the country.

As a first step to achieving this, he called for a review of the National Policy on Health, fully functional Primary Health Care (PHC) system for preventive health, and NHIS for curative care.

For Dr. Theodora Njoku of Kings Hospital, Ikoyi, there is still a lot to be done. There are still a lot of problems on ground as health is becoming expensive and people result to self medication, she said.

She called for increased funding of the health sector by the government, both federal and state.



Thursday, 30 December 1999


Govt compiles directory of Nigerian professionals abroad

From Emmanuel Onwubiko, Abuja

A directory of Nigerian scientists and professionals abroad is currently being compiled, with a view to establishing contacts with them. In effect, the government will be able to encourage them return to help rebuild the economy.

Co-operation and Integration Minister Prof. Jerry Gana who disclosed this yesterday, said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other affiliated agencies of the world body had already agreed to help in achieving the objective.

Represented by his Chief Press Secretary Sam Nwaobas, he noted that: The ministry ... is leading the governments efforts aimed at strengthening co-operation and economic integration in Africa.

Part of the strategies, he said, is establishing strategic partnerships with some African countries among which are South Africa and Ghana, adding that discussion was going on with other countries.

Disclosing that President Olusegun Obasanjo had approved the establishment of a Nigerian Technical Cooperation Fund to ensure the success of the Scientific and Technological Exchange Programme (STEP), Gana said the Fund would provide financial support and incentives to Nigerian participants.

He dismissed reports, that the government planned to force Nigerian experts back home, saying it was hopeful of the cooperation of its citizens in rebuilding the nation. The directory is, therefore, one of the programmes to reach out to the people, he added.

He said: My concern is for Nigerian scientists and professionals living outside the country to understand the good intention of the Federal Government and heed the call to contribute to the efforts being made by President Obasanjo to turn the economy around and improve the lot of Nigerians.



Thursday, 30 December 1999

U.S. attributes airlink restoration to Obasanjos hardwork

By Francis Obinor, Foreign Affairs Reporter

LAST weeks restoration of airlink between Nigeria and the United States is a testimony to the leadership qualities of President Olusegun Obasanjo, an American government official said yesterday.

US State Department deputy spokesman James Foley in a statement said but for Nigerias new leader, the feat would have been impossible.

He said: This achievement is a tribute to President Olusegun Obasanjo's leadership and to the hardwork of Nigerian and U.S government agencies.

The airlink was severed by U.S on the heels of the annulment of the presidential election in1993, attributing the decision to insecurity of facilities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport MMIA.

Several entreaties by Nigeria to have the link restored were however rebuffed until December 22, when U.S Department of Transportation DOT Secretary Rodney Slater announced his government's change of heart.

Foley praised Obasanjo for his relentless effort, saying the achievement capped on long-term effort by the Departments of State and Transportation and the Federal Airport Authority to work with Nigerian authorities to identify and take every necessary step to meet internationally accepted standards for airport security.

He said with the restoration, the certification would now make it possible for airlines that meet International Civil Aviation Organizational ICAO standards to fly directly between American airports and the MMIA.

Slater, last Wednesday, announced the restoration at a special ceremony at Dulles International Airport to the Nigerian Aviation Minister, Segun Agagu, leading a Nigerian senior government delegation.



Thursday, 30 December 1999

Deregulation wont bring hardship, says Afolabi

By Clifford Ndujihe, Staff Reporter

INTERNAL Affairs Minister, Chief Sunday Afolabi has dismissed the apprehension over the proposed fuel price deregulation, saying the policy would improve the lot of the people in the long run.

He attributed previous hardship after fuel price increase to improper deregulation, the unique feature of the new deregulation method is that petroleum prices wont be the same all over the place.

Condemning previous attempts at fuel prices deregulation, the minister who spoke at the weekend, at Ada, Osun State during the 60th birthday of Dr. Tunde Ponle, Chairman Miccoms Engineering and the 20th year anniversary of Miccoms involvement in community development, said they did not do proper deregulation. They just increased prices of petroleum products. This is a different method and you are going to see what will happen.

He spoke just as the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) said it would seek divine intervention to get the federal government change its proposed fuel deregulation policy.

Mr. Dayo Adejuwon, the General Secretary of NANS, Zone D, while addressing a news conference in Lagos on Tuesday said Nigerians were subjected to untold hardships under the various military administrations, adding that the proposed increase is another indication of oppression and could worsen the plights of Nigerians, majority of who are wallowing in poverty.

Adejuwon claimed that the planned deregulation was at the instance of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), noting that it would add to the woes, agony, poverty and miseries of Nigerians who voted the current government into power.

According to him, the youths will be the worst hit and, therefore, called on them not to fold their hands and watch their future destroyed.

We, the students and other youths, must seek divine assistance from the almighty God to protect us against the powers that be, he said.

On plans to move the country forward in the new millennium, Afolabi said: I can assure you workers would smile in the new year inspite of all odds because there are a lot of good things that will happen to them.