Friday, May 30, 2008

Yar’Adua’s Chief of Staff, Mohammed, Resigns

From Juliana Taiwo in Abuja, 05.30.2008 (THISDAY)

Chief of Staff to President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, Major General Abdullahi Mohammed (rtd.) yesterday resigned from his position. His resignation has been accepted by the president who then appointed his Senior Special Assistant on Political Matters, Dr. Gbolade Osinowo to act as Chief of Staff until the appointment of a substantive replacement.
A statement signed by Special Adviser to the President on Communications, Olusegun Adeniyi stated that Yar’Adua in accepting Gen. Mohammed’s resignation, praised the outgoing Chief of Staff’s immense patriotism and dedication to national service.
The President thanked Mohammed for his enormous contributions to the present Administration in the past year, and to national development in the course of a remarkable public service career spanning many decades within and outside the Armed Forces.
Gen. Mohammed’s resignation is with effect from Monday, June 2, 2008.
Mohammed came into political limelight as a member of the corps of crack colonels in the army who effected the change of government in which the then Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon was toppled in a bloodless military coup and General Murtala Muhammed took over. He was then made the director general of the Nigeria Security Organisation (NSO) and later, director of military intelligence.
After General Obasanjo handed over to elected civilians in 1979, Muhammed retired from the army and went into private business. He was managing director of Atoto Press in Ilorin, his home town.
He was recalled from retirement in 1998 when General Abdusalami Abubakar took over as head of state following the demise of General Sani Abacha. Muhammed served as national security adviser to that government. When former President Olusegun Obasanjo was elected, he retained General Muhammed and made him chief of staff.
Yar'Adua also re-appointed him as Chief of Staff when he assumed office on May 29, 2007, meaning that he had spent close to a decade in the presidency serving three leaders.
Some analysts believed he was retained by Yar'Adua on the basis that he would help to achieve smooth transition between the Obasanjo Presidency and its succeeding administration. He is reputed to have served as institutional memory for Yar'Adua in the running of government in the past one year.
His reappointment by Yar'Adua was also said to be the government’s way of staving off the pressure from politicians including former governors and ministers seeking to be appointed into the position which has now become more influential than many other non-elected key offices in government.
He was said to have agreed to serve for only six months in the present administration before retiring. Then, Dr Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi, a close confidant of President Yar'Adua was appointed deputy chief of staff to understudy Muhammed and subsequently take over.
Kurfi was later moved out of Aso Rock to become special adviser on economic affairs to the president. With his deep involvement in economic issues on behalf of the president, Kurfi may not be interested in administrative issues now.
With Gen Muhammed's exit from the presidency, it is believed that one of the last old guards of the Obasanjo presidency has now left. But the man appointed to act as chief of staff before the appointment of a substantive holder, Osinowo, also came to the presidency through Obasanjo who appointed him as a senior special assistant in 1999.

Agonies And Fears Soldiers’ Widows

05.29.2008 (THISDAY Features)

Juliana Taiwo witnessed one of the most emotional funerals in the country last Friday as the remains of the 46 soldiers just back from Sudan were laid to rest at the national military cemetery in Abuja. It will take the dependents a long time to recover from the loss of their breadwinners

Friday May 23, was the day it dawned on the families of an officer and 45 soldiers that they would never see their bread winners again. Most of the relatives were brought in from Bauchi in military vehicles while others came in chartered vehicles. The venue was jam-packed, as relatives, colleagues, and other sympathizers were on ground long before the 4 p.m. burial time to bid the fallen heroes farewell. The men had lost their lives Wednesday May 21, on the Bauchi-Potiskum road while on their way to join their families in Monguno Borno State. It was an irony of life that the soldiers, who survived the challenging terrain of Sudan’s strife torn Darfur region where Nigeria had in October lost eight soldiers to die in their own country.
They were said to have died with their six months allowances and entitlement in dollars paid them on arrival at the Abuja airport, having served six months in the AU Hybrid Force in Darfur, Sudan. Those who saw them on arrival on Tuesday May 20 when they were dropped in Abuja by the United Nations (UN) aircraft said they were in high spirits. The children cried uncontrollably, the widows shouted, screamed and even fainted at the mention of the names of their husbands about to be interred, the mothers, brothers, uncles, aunties, uncles lamented wondering why God has chosen to punish them this way.
The dignitaries present included President Umaru Musa Yar,Adua, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ministers, National Assembly Members, politicians, businessmen, the Chief of Defence Staff, Service Chiefs amongst others, showed that they were human beings after all as they betrayed their emotions.
The families were also consoled by Mrs. Bilikisu Yusuf, the wife of the COAS and President of Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA). For Juliana Wasiu, wife of LCPL Alamu Wasiu, it seemed the world has suddenly come to an end. She is left to fend for five children. She could not hide her feelings as she cried and wailed.
Cuddling her nine year-old son, Babatunde, she had just only one question on her lips: "where am I going to start from with the children?”
Babatunde, the first of five children who accompanied his mother to the burial ceremony, wiped away her tears. He begged her to stop crying. Already behaving like the man of the house he said: "Mummy stop crying". Another bereaved woman shouted: "There is nothing to live for again. I will die, I will die, why won’t I die." Three of the widows fainted on hearing the names of their husbands.
At another end of the ground, the intervention of a reporter prevented what could have been a disaster as one of the widows suffered asthma attack. Basirat Mohammed, mother of three and wife of Lance Corporal Shehu Mohammed who was with their eight-year old son, Ilya Mohammed was seized by asthma attack. The reporter offered her inhaler as the medical team rushed her to one of the waiting ambulances for medical attention.
The preparation for the final journey of the ‘gallant 46’ started the previous night where 46 graves were dug. Flags were flown at half mast in honour of the 46 at all military formations across the country. Their bodies were flown in from Jos, Plateau State capital Thursday night and deposited at the National Hospital for the journey to the military cemetery.
An unnamed widow said the pain would have been easier to bear if they had died in Darfur but that fate was indeed cruel to take them away just few hours to their uniting with their families. “I had cooked his special dish, turned the house inside out and made sure it was sparkling clean and all that for what? My husband is gone forever after six months absence. I want to die also”, she said amid sobs.
“After six months of their departure, the news of their arrival into the country brought excitement, happiness and joy. Everything was set to welcome them but can you imagine the way they went?” A soldier standing by queried no one in particular.
While their remains (only two of them could be identified, the rest were charred bodies) laid by the graveside with their name tags on them, Captain Okojie, was carried by six of his colleagues with the same rank. Their shoes, caps and swords placed on the caskets draped in national colours. The last honour for the gallant 46 was the stepping out of detachment of soldiers who matched smartly to the grave side for the last process of lowering the bodies.
The first bugle was sounded at exactly 4.15 p.m. After the prayers, there was the laying of the wreaths. At exactly 4.20 p.m., a sombre- looking President Umaru Yar’Adua rose to lay the wreath.
He was followed by Senate President, David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, the Minister of Defence, Yayale Ahmed, his state counterpart, Fidelia Njeze, FCT Minister, Aliyu Modibo Umar. Others were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Owoye Azazi, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Luka Yusuf, Chief of the Naval Staff, Ganiyu Adekeye and the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Paul Dike.
The 21-gun salute was fired at 4.30 p.m as the flags were removed from the caskets and folded. As the bodies were being lowered to the grave at 4.46p.m, wailings erupted from the canopy of the relatives of the deceased. One of the widows shouted “open the casket, open it, I want to see him for the last time” but a soldier responded; “what is there to see? She will be worst off if she sees what is inside her husband’s casket”
The last bugle was sounded at 5.15p.m after which the remains of the fallen soldiers were given to the son of Captain Okojie and Patrick Ogbudu eight-year-old son who represented the soldiers’ families.
A very emotional President Yar’Adua who had cut short his trip to Arusha, Tanzania, for the meeting of the Committee of 12 in honour of the soldiers promised to mitigate the harsh effects of their deaths on their families.
He described the accident as a tragedy of enormous proportion. “This is indeed a tragedy of enormous proportions. It is made more heart-rendering by the fact that these are courageous heroic soldiers who have just acquitted themselves commendably in their tour of duty in the challenging terrain of Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region. To return home and end in this way is a calamity that the Nigerian military establishment and in a special sense their families, will find difficult to live with. We however, can find solace in the knowledge that they have paid the supreme price and sacrifice in gallant service not only to our fatherland but in the course of international peace and security and in the service of humanity.
“We have an obligation to ensure that their sacrifice is not in vain by recommitting to successfully driving peace efforts in the Sudan and other troubled spots on our continent and beyond. My heart goes out to all the aggrieved families to these fallen heroes. I pray the almighty God to give them the fortitude to bear the loss to deal with the unfortunate passing of their loved ones.
“I pledged that the federal government will do all that is necessary to mitigate the adverse effects of the demise of these gallant Nigerians for their families and their dependants.” he said.
The President personally went to the bereaved families and offered words of condolence before departing the venue. In his remark earlier, the Minister Defence, Yayale Ahmed, assured that despite the deaths, the military was more than ready to render service to the country and the international community.
“We were informed that these officers came back gallantly and with deepest sense of patriotism to continue serving their nation. Alias, God who created them, love them most, therefore their time came for them to be nearer to Him. They are just waiting for us, because as we stand here, the difference between them and us is like the two side of a coin.
“While we mourn the demise of these gallant soldiers we are more than ever before determined to continue serving the nation and in international peacekeeping operations. These deaths, painful as it is, will never deepen the enthusiasm of Nigeria and the Nigerian Army and the Armed Forces in particular in servicing this great nation”, he said.
Also commenting, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Owoeye Azazi, assured that everything will be done henceforth to motivate military personnel while alive and those who lost their lives in the course of serving their nation, their families will be well catered for.
“This death is tragic for Nigerians and Nigeria. So many of us are affected by this tragedy and we are indeed in deep grief. The Holy Book tells us that there is time for everything. So we take solace in the fact that there is a time for dying, this time of dying no one knows and could indeed be anytime for any of us.
“For soldiers, the risk of dying becomes apparent when military operations are being conducted. These soldiers lying here today were exposed to such risks for six months in Darfur but they all survived it. They returned to Nigeria safely and on the way to join their unit they died. Just before their death, those Nigerians who had seen the convoy as you have been told, saw that these soldiers were in very high spirits, singing, clapping and dancing obviously, they were happy to be back home. They were happy that they have served Nigeria very well and they had also hoped that few hours later they will be with their families to enjoy blissful reunion. Sadly this did not happen for them, they had an accident and died painfully. I have seen the photographs of these individuals which they took before they departed for Darfur all of them full of life and enthusiasm but today they are no more.
“For those of us alive today, let us take solace in the fact that everything was a design by the almighty. These soldiers represent what Nigeria means to us and the international community. Nigeria has consistently brought peace to so many countries and to so many divided societies. The Nigerian military has therefore made Nigeria very proud. We therefore resolve to ensure that we create the conditions to motivate members of the Armed Forces while they are alive and ensure that those they live behind when they die are also adequately catered for. As we stand here today five of their colleagues that survived injured are lying in the hospital and we pray they recover quiet fast,” he said.

All About Yar'Adua's Media Chat

My Plan for Power Emergency, By Yar’Adua
•’Why electoral reforms, rule of law and N’Delta are central’
By Deji Elumoye with agency report, 05.30.2008

President Umaru Yar'Adua yesterday in Abuja said the plan to declare a state of emergency in the power sector would require adequate preparation and wide consultation to get an effective result.
Yar'Adua while fielding questions on a live television programme on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) said power was critical to the development of the country.
The President also expressed confidence that the 20-man Electoral Reform Committee would complete its assignment before the end of the year.
He said a state of emergency in the power sector would only yield results with details on the failure of the sector, and a blueprint for the future.
“It is not a simple issue. We need to have a national plan that includes an emergency legislation for the sector,” he said.
Yar'Adua said a National Energy Council, headed by Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, was inaugurated last August to do a due diligence on the sector, with a view to understanding the depth of the problems.
He said the Energy Council had concluded its assignment and forwarded its report to him on the findings in the sector.
The president said the report would be discussed by various stakeholders, which includes the National Council of States, the NLC, governors and the National Assembly.
He said the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Civil Society Organisations would also be consulted to make their input before the declaration of the emergency.
“The importance is that by the end of the emergency, this country will be sufficient in power supply,” he said.
Emergency legislation, according to the president, will create enabling laws for the period of the emergency and beyond.
“People also have to change the way they relate with the sector in paying their bills,” he stressed.
Yar'Adua said an emergency court would be instituted to try people who foiled regulations in the power sector as a way to change the mind set on the power sector.
The president said about 6,000 megawatts would be generated in the sector by the end of 2009, adding that the trend would be onward until the nation reached self-sufficiency.
Yar'Adua said the private sector would play a key role in buoying the power sector, alongside the states and the local councils.
He said the federal government, working with the states and local councils, would have to use a part of the excess crude oil fund to reform the power sector during the emergency period.
The president said efforts were already being made to ensure an improvement in gas supply, which would further improve power supply.
The President emphasised that the committee headed by the former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Muhammed Uwais will submit its report to government this year.
He said the committee is currently touring the six geo-political zones of the federation "with a view to collating the views of the generality of the people towards the electoral reforms."
According to him, at the end of the exercise, the committee will come up with a comprehensive electoral reforms in the country.
Yar'Adua said he is determined to leave a legacy of credible electoral process and rule of law.
He said on eof the challenges facing his administration at inception was the lack of associate respect for the rule of law in the country.
"One of the greatest national problems is the breakdown of the respect for the rule of law and order," he said.

...Cabinet Shake-up on the Cards
By Deji Elumoye and Sherif Balogun, 05.30.2008

President Umaru Yar'Adua yesterday hinted of plans to effect changes in the machinery of government with the planned shake up of the Federal Executive Council (FEC). The media had been awash recently with reports of the planned cabinet reshiffle by President Yar'Adua.
When asked the question during the media chat to mark the first anniversary of his administration,Yar'Adua said there is the strong possibility that a cabinet shake up is imminent at the federal level.
According to him,"there is the probability of effecting some changes in the cabinet as presently constituted,it is true there is that probability."
He said the changes would come in terms of not only those heading ministries but that the structures of the ministries may be affected in the expected changes.
He said with one year gone out of his four-year term Nigerians should expect better things in the years ahead adding that having laid a solid foundation his government would now be ready to impact positively on the lives of Nigerians.
"Nigerians should be rest assured that this government is committed to their well being and should therefore look forward to very exciting time especially in the next 365 days," he said.
Commenting on the anti corruption move of his administration,Yar'Adua said his government will continue to pursue the assignment with all vigour.
"The issue of corruption, we have been able to approach it from the right perspective as we have been able to face the reality on the ground very squarely.The EFCC,ICPC and other anti graft agencies have continued to function within the ambit of the law," he said.
He debunked claims that the administration is favouring is a particular section of the country with appointments into positions and said he has always filled vacant positions based on merit.
"Appointments made so far are usually based on merit.Take for example the nine parastatals under the federal ministry of information, only two are from the North while the other heads are from the South even at that those appointments were based purely on merit," he said.
Speaking on his predecessor,Yar'Adua eulogised Obasanjo who he said "met Nigeria nine years ago on the verge of collapse. He did his best for this great nation although there may be lapses."
The president said that the current spate of probes going on in the National Assembly was not his making, explaining that the legislature, as a separate arm of government, had the powers to do what it was doing.
“I am waiting to see the outcome of what they are doing and I cannot predict what it will turn out to be,” Yar'Adua added.
On whether he would later set up a full-scale probe of the past government, Yar'Adua said the outcome of the current National Assembly probe would determine his next line of action.
The National Assembly recently set up committees to investigate activities in the power and petroleum sectors as well as the FCT in the last eight years.
On the Niger Delta Crisis, the President said all hands were on deck to amicably resolve the crisis in the nearest future.
According to him, "the federal government will soon convene a summit of all stakeholders that will take proper look at the problem of the Niger Delta and we hope to use dialogue in discussing with the militants and other leaders of the region so as to achieve the ultimate goal of holding the summit which is to allow peace reign in the Niger Delta region," he said.

‘Africa Still Centrepiece of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy’

President Umaru Yar'Adua said yesterday in Abuja that Africa still remained the centrepiece of Nigeria's foreign policy.
In a televised question-and-answer session forum tagged “Media Chat'', Yar'Adua said Nigeria was working to provide leadership in efforts to bring Africa together.
The forum was organised to mark Yar'Adua's first year in office and also to coincide with a national holiday in commemoration of the country's return to democracy on May 29, 1999 after 16 years of unbroken military rule.
Yar'Adua said that efforts were being made to integrate the continent economically before political integration.
On the recent attacks on Nigerians and other Africans resident in South Africa, the president down-played calls for retaliation, saying it was unnecessary.
Yar'Adua said the South African government had taken adequate measures by deploying its military personnel to the troubled areas.
Yar'Adua also said that Nigeria's stand on the Zimbabwean election crisis was that it should be resolved according to law.
“We cannot come out like the countries of the west to pass judgments,'' he said, adding that Africans would bear the brunt of any violence in Zimbabwe more than westerners.
“Everything that has to be done has to be done according to the law. We do not support violence and we should not follow the temptation to follow it not according to the law,'' he said.
He said "by next week I will be going to South Africa on state visit and will use the opportunity of the visit to resolve the problem through dialogue that will not lead to political disintegration." (NAN)

Exciting times await Nigerians, says Yar'Adua

From Martins Oloja and Madu Onuorah, Abuja

(The Guaridan)

PRESIDENT Umaru Musa Yar'Adua yesterday looked back on his first 365 days in office, identified some achievements, many challenges, but promised that "exciting times await Nigerians."

He however foreclosed any wholesome probe of his predecessor, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo's eight-year rule, saying that the former President did "his best, whether people like it or not."

The President also dismissed the thinking of many Nigerians that he is slow, stating that it is a matter of time before Nigerians appreciate the efforts he is putting towards planning as laying the "solid foundation" for an industrial Nigeria "requires perseverance and commitment."

He also confirmed that there would be a personnel and structural change in the administration very soon, based on the lessons learnt in the last one year of his administration.

On the fight against corruption and the perceived truncation of it on account of the removal of an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman as well as the appointment of a new one, Yar'Adua said he was more interested in building institutions and systems as opposed to personality. "Nations are built on systems and institutions as opposed to personality," he said. "I do not believe in the indispensability of human beings. Only God has the attribute of indispensability. We must put in place a system where every average intelligent Nigerian can run the institutions."

Also, on corruption, he says he is more interested in fighting the root of the problem than the cause. "Here accountability is the word before the act is committed. People confer on themselves authority that is more than what is conferred on them by our laws. But to me, discretionary powers and authority are out. They are the root cause of corruption," Yar'Adua said.

The President, who let out a slight cough intermittently, also spoke extensively on his medical history from 1986 to date said: "I am human. I can fall sick. I can die tomorrow. I can die next month. I can live to be 90... "So there is nothing extraordinary about my being ill." He also lamented the predilection of Nigerians for believing rumours on health instead of information that he himself volunteered. "The last time I went to Germany for medical check up, my office issued a statement on my health, but people did not believe the official statement but the rumours."

Speaking on the controversy over May 29 as Democracy Day taking precedence over Independence Day, which is October I, the President said that for him, October 1, "our National Day, comes first." But for the purposes of its significance as the day of transition to democracy in Nigeria's history, according to Yar'Adua, May 29 is also relevant. "On that day, those of us who want to relax and recharge our batteries can take advantage of the public holiday," he said.

The President also said: "People miss the criminality in the Niger Delta. It has to be dealt with in the coming summit. People are stealing crude oil in the high seas. This can't help the Niger Delta. This criminal activity and bunkering has to be dealt with for the sake of the region."

He also said that before a national emergency is declared in the electricity (power) sector, there would be a national consensus on it so that whatever will be done in that sector would be a "shared project."

In a two-hour live programme tagged: 'Presidential Media Chat' on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) to mark the first anniversary of his administration, President Yar'Adua said that what Nigerians expect from his administration and what he is doing are "to lay a solid foundation and effect reforms to transform this country into an industrial giant."

This focus, he said, is what is facing "the direction of his government. And they are quite challenging, which involves having a sustainable democratic culture anchored on credible elections and commitment to the rule of law and maintaining law and order. These are the platforms to building a developed nation. And without political stability, you can't have a developed nation."

Asked if he was going to buy into the on-going probes of his predecessor by the National Assembly and conduct a wholesome probe of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo's administration, the President stated: "frankly speaking, my predecessor met a nation almost on the point of collapse. And during his eight years (in power), he did his best. There could be lapses. But he has done his best, whether people like it or not. For over 30 years, the system had broken down completely. It is between May 29, 1999 and now that attempts are made for proper governance. What the National Assembly is doing, they have the power to do what they are doing. I am waiting for the outcome of their reports. I cannot contemplate what they are going to do. I am waiting just like you. All of us are waiting."

President Yar'Adua described his perceived slowness as "a process of learning. When you work hard and produce plans, it will be 60 per cent of what you want to achieve. If you have a good plan, the implementation goes on smoothly. The problems we have are anchored on lack of respect for rule of law and lack of proper planning. But we are insisting that we must learn. We must take time to produce good plans that will translate to actual achievements. But am not perturbed (by the tag of being seen as slow). Once you are sure of what you are doing and the path you are travelling, it is a matter of time for it to materialise. We have to have a national culture of rule of law. And this respect for rule of law sets out the reference point for everything. The greatest national problem we have and one of the greatest problems facing Nigeria is the breakdown of respect for the rule of law and established procedures. We are learning to tackle the problems sector by sector."

On the seeming delay in declaring an emergency in the power sector, the President said that "to declare an emergency is not as simple as just making a declaration for its own sake. It is having a programme and the benchmarks that would be achieved. And by the end of the emergency, this country would be self-sufficient in the power sector and the problems in the power sector would be solved once and for all."

He added that by the programme of the emergency being planned, "the emergency period will last up till when we produce 10,000 megawatts and have a distribution network that can efficiently distribute this. This will take us to 2011. By the end of 2009, we will have generation of 6,000 megawatts and have a transmission and distribution system with enough integrity to distribute this."

On South Africa, the President noted that the issue of retaliation for the violence against foreigners does not arise as he would be going there next week on a state visit.

No regular power till 2011, says Yar’Adua

By Kayode Ketefe, Mudiaga Affe, Ihuoma Chiedozie and Stanley Opara
(Punch Newspapers)

President Umaru Yar’Adua on Thursday said Nigeria might not have regular power supply until 2011.

Yar’Adua, in a live television presidential media chat to mark his one year in office, gave two reasons why power shortage may persist.

These are non-existent of law to back up the much expected declaration of emergency in the power sector, and the fact that Nigeria had sold all its gas for export.

He said the deals entered into by Nigeria with international oil companies on gas would have to be renegotiated over seven years.

“It is only now that the nation realises the critical importance of gas to the national economy,” Yar’Adua added.

The President, who coughed repeatedly during the two-hour telecast, said the privatisation of the power sector had failed. He however pledged that a large chunk of Nigeria’s savings from oil revenue would be spent on repairing power stations and transmission grid.

The President said that the power sector was too sensitive to declare a state of emergency without having the necessary legislation to back up such a period.

He, however, noted that the plan to declare the state of emergency was still on course just as necessary steps were being taken to implement short and long term measures that would address the problem of electricity.

Yar‘Adua said that the power sector was one of the vital sectors of the economy that would fast-track development and attract more investors into the nation‘s economy.

He said, ”To declare a state of emergency, you must have a clear programme. There should be an emergency legislation that is meant to be in place during the period of the declaration.

”I had in mind that by the time I declare this emergency, the nation should know what the problems are. It has to be okayed by the National Assembly and all other related agencies, state and local governments and all other sectors of the economy.

”The issue must have been exhaustively discussed. So, it is not just a simple issue and by the time we are out of the emergency situation, it is expected that this country will be self- sufficient in the power sector.

”What we are doing is learning how to tackle the sectors one-by-one. That is where the issue of declaring a national emergency in power and energy sectors comes in. This is one of the most critical sectors that needed to be sorted out before we can move forward. I have promised this country that I will declare a national emergency in that sector.

”In August 2007, I set up the National Energy Council and also two committees that will look into the oil and gas sectors. Let me inform the nation that just this week, I received a copy of the power sector reform and had to go through it personally before it is officially presented.”

The President disclosed that as part of the plans, the emergency period would see the sector generating 6,000 megawatts by 2009, and 10, 000 megawatts by 2011.

He said his hope was that 10,000 megawatts would be sufficient for the nation’s needs to a large extent.

He said, ”Again, we will need a legislation that will serve as deterrent to offenders during the period of emergency.”

Reacting to criticisms that he was slow in taking decisions, the President said that he was not disturbed because he was determined to effect a change in the polity.

He explained that the issue of the rule of law was paramount to the sustenance of national development.

He said, ”I believe that what Nigerians expect of this administration and what I am determined and committed to do is to lay a solid foundation that will protect reforms and programmes that will transform this country from an underdeveloped one to a developed nation.

”When I came in, there were certain elements that I recognised very clearly that are key and critical to achieving these objectives and vision, in particular the vision 2020.

”These elements are the ones that can shapen the direction, and they are quite challenging, but if this nation must transform, these challenges must be tackled.”

Dismissing insinuations that he was not serious about tackling corruption, the President said he had ordered the prosecution of officials of the Federal Capital Territory Administration involved in the award of a fraudulent contract that led government to incur debts totaling N80bn.

He said, “Some officials, knowing that there is no appropriation; there is no cash backing, went and signed the contract. The contractors went and started work and then in the contract agreement, it was signed that any certificate of valuation which was not paid within the stipulated period in the contract agreement would attract a certain percentage of interest against the FCTA.

“Signing these types of agreement is against the extant laws of the Federal Government. The Bureau for Public Procurement law explicitly makes it illegal to award contracts without appropriation, or cash backing.

”What did we have? By the end of that, there were certificates worth N35bn, but the FCTA settled as and when due. It attracted an interest of N45bn.

“I have asked the FCTA to bring those who are responsible to be prosecuted.”

On his health, the President said he was amused by rumours that had gone round about his medical condition, including rumours that he had died.

“To me, this was amusing. Just like I told some foreign journalists, it is just a medical condition. Anybody can fall sick. I am an ordinary human being like other Nigerians. I can fall sick, I can die; I can die tomorrow; I can die next month; I can live to be 90. I can not guarantee how long I want to live and when I am going to die,” he said.

How I fell sick, by Yar’adua (Daily Trust)
30-05-2008 03:16

PresidentPresident Umaru Musa Yar’adua gave a com-prehensive explanation of his much-talked about illnesses last night, saying it was a simple matter that was somehow twisted and given a political meaning. Explaining why he left for Germany soon after signing the 2008 Appropriation Act last month, Yar’adua said he actually suffered from malaria for four days, which did not abate despite his taking of Metacalfin tablets administered by his doctor.

He said after four days, his doctor went and brought another doctor from the Julius Berger Clinic in Abuja, where Yar’adua said he maintained a medical file since 1986. He said the Julius Berger doctor then administered to him a new anti-malarial drug, which quickly took care of the fever and he has not suffered from it again since then. However, the president said when he woke up in the morning, his face was swollen, and the doctors said he suffered an allergic reaction from the new anti-malarial drug.

Alhaji Umaru Yar’adua said he was given other drugs to bring down the swell and when they failed to do so after some days, he went to the National Hospital, Abuja for some tests. It was there that he was advised to go to the German hospital where he normally treats himself, he said. The president said when he got to Germany, no specific thing was done for the swollen face because it subsided on its own, so he decided instead to undergo his normal medical checks at the hospital. He said he had been doing so since 1986.

The president expressed surprise that even though his Special Adviser on Communication Olusegun Adeniyi had issued a statement prior to his departure to Germany explaining this, rumours took over and alleged all kinds of things as the reason for his illness.

Yar’adua said the same thing happened last year, when he suddenly fell sick during the general election campaign and rumours made the rounds about his alleged sickness.

According to him, he had been involved in vigorous campaigns for the PDP presidential primaries and had gone on to campaign for the general elections when he suffered from a cold. Yar’adua said when doctors examined him, they said his main blood vessel, the aorta, was greatly swollen and could burst at any time.

He said the doctors described the situation as critical and ordered for an air ambulance to fly him to Germany, even though the only thing he himself felt at the time was a cold. He said when he got to his German hospital, he found that surgeons were waiting to conduct an emergency operation on him, but they decided to do a check first. When the CT scan result came in an hour later, he said, the German doctors said there was a misdiagnosis, that in fact his aorta was normal.

President Yar’adua said he was therefore surprised and amused when rumours spread that he was unconscious and some even said he was dead. "I am just a normal person, like everyone else," the president said. He said like every other person, he can fall sick, he can recover, or he can die tomorrow, next week, or he can live to be 90 years old. "I cannot guarantee anything about that because it is in the hands of God," he said.

My battle with ill-health – Yar’Adua
(Sun Newspapers)
Friday, May 30, 2008

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua last night took the wind out of the sail on the raging controversy over his health status.
In a two-hour live presidential media chat to commemorate Democracy Day, the president explained how he had been managing his ill-health, dismissing widespread fears that he was medically unfit.

Yar’Adua had a question thrown at him by one of the interviewers, who said one of the reservations Nigerians had about the seeming inactivity in governance was the ill-health of the president.

Responding to the question, President Yar’Adua regretted that the issue of his health had been politicized. He then opened up on his health condition, explaining that what took him to Germany last month was reactions from a drug earlier given to him by his doctors for the treatment of malaria.

Said he: “I had a reaction to a drug which was the case. I had malaria, I took Metakelfin, it did not go, I got my doctor who brought another doctor from JB Clinic and they gave me a new drug, the malaria went, but the following day, I woke up with a swollen face.

“So they gave me what they called term steroid, it did not work and I went to the National Hospital where they ran test and they decided that I go to my doctors in Germany. I have my record there since 1986. In 2000 I had kidney problem. My record is there. I got there and in three days my face became normal.

“So you see, the press statement by my Special Adviser (Communications) was not believed, same thing the other time, when I was campaigning then during my campaign they ran an x-ray and the doctors said my aorta was inflated and they termed it critical, because they said it can burst anytime. That was how I was referred to the hospital in Germany and they brought an air ambulance because they wanted a doctor to be with me.

“When I got there, they prepared the theatre for a major operation, but they decided to run another test and shortly after the result was out and they said my aorta was normal.
“It is amusing because you can have a medical problem anytime. I am an ordinary person and I am as ordinary as any other Nigerian. I can fall sick, I can get well, I can die, I can die tomorrow, I can live to be 90, I am pleased to be president, but I am an ordinary person.”

Speaking on former President Olusegun Obasanjo, President Yar’Adua gave him kudos saying his predecessor did his best to put Nigeria back on track.

According to him, Obasanjo met the country on the verge of collapse and he did his best in eight years to put the country on track, admitting that there might be excesses in the process of putting things right.
The probe of some activities of Obasanjo’s administration by the National Assembly, Yar’Adua said, was within the lawmakers’ constitutional power, adding that he could not envisage any outcome of the exercise. “I am also waiting for the outcome of their activities as any other person is waiting for it.”
The president spoke extensively on the plans by his administration to rescue the nation from the doldrums and restore hope in the citizenry.

According to him, lack of respect for law and order was one of the greatest national problems, pointing out that his administration had set out to guarantee entrenchment of the rule of law as well as ensure political stability with the on-going electoral reforms.

The president who also identified the lack of planning as a critical problem in the nation’s development efforts said tackling the problem would set the tone for development in the various sectors of the economy, including electricity, petroleum and gas, iron and steel and cement. According to him, those sectors would drive all other sectors of the economy.

On why he had not declared national emergency in the power sector as promised, Yar’Adua said, “To declare it one must have a clean focus on what should be done. There should be emergency legislation to govern the period of emergency. When I said so, I had in mind that by the time I declare it, the nation will know exactly what it entails, the objectives, the guidelines and how it is going to be financed.”
According to him, when declared, the power sector emergency would last till the time the government was able to produce 10,000mw of electricity and to have a transmission that would be able to generate and distribute the electricity. “That will take us to about 2011. We hope that by the end of 2009, we’ll have 6,000mw and distribution and transmission system with enough integrity to distribute the electricity generated. By 2011 the emergency period would have been over.”

He listed the elements of the power emergency to include national effort at financing the emergency. “The nation has to agree to dedicate a certain percentage of the Federation Account to fund the power sector. The other alternative is for the Federal, state and local governments to dedicate part of the excess crude account for the power sector during the emergency period. The other aspect of the emergency is the need for emergency laws to try offenders who vandalise transmission lines and those who fail to pay tariffs, etc.”

On funding of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the president said that the Federal Government had done its best to ensure adequate funding of the commission, though the issue of security in the region had been a stumbling block.

His words: “As regards funding to NDDC, the government has done its best. There is Federal Government intervention in oil producing areas. There is issue of security which is affecting our projections. The Office of the Vice President is looking after this aspect. The initiative to dialogue with the militants is bearing some fruits.”

He said the agitations of people of the Niger Delta would be dealt with during the national summit on the Niger Delta. While admitting that some of the issues would need constitutional amendment to deal with, he condemned the activities of the militants as criminal.
On the attack on Nigerians in South Africa, the president said retaliation was out of it, saying the problem should be resolved through dialogue.

According to him, Nigeria must provide leadership towards integration of the sub-regions within the African continent just as he assured that what were supposed to be done were being done to resolve the problem.

While hinting of a Federal cabinet reshuffle, Yar’Adua urged Nigerians to look forward to an exciting time in the next one year when the plans his administration had made in the last 12 months began to yield fruits.

I have kidney problem - Yar’Adua
From Idowu Samuel and Akin Durodola - 30.05.2008

PRESIDENT Umaru Yar’Adua on Thursday finally opened up on the state of his health as he admitted having a kidney problem. The President made this known during a live telecast of a special presidential media chat organised to mark Democracy Day and one year in office.

He also stated that Nigerians had been exaggerating his health condition and that it had been politicised. Yar’Adua said his last trip to Germany was to treat a reaction he had to malaria drugs administered to him by his doctors in Nigeria, adding that the effects of the drugs were so severe that they made his face to swell up.

He expressed dismay that Nigerians ignored a clear statement made on the state of his health by his Special Adviser on Communication, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, and chose to believe the rumours peddled about his health.

“Before I travelled to Germany, my Special Adviser on Communication, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, issued a statement on what was wrong. His statement was clear enough. “In the statement, he said I had a reaction to drugs administered to me to treat malaria. That was the case. I had had malaria for four days and then took drugs, and it did not go.

“My doctor got another doctor from Julius Berger Clinic. They came and gave me a new drug. I took it and the malaria was gone. The next thing was that my face got swollen up. The doctors said it was the effect of the drugs.

“I went to the National Hospital and a test was conducted. It was from there that a decision was taken that I should go to Germany. I was in Germany in 2006 because I had my medical record there. And in 2000, I had kidney problem. I decided to go to Germany to have my check-up.
“The interesting thing is that people did not believe a statement

that was officially issued, and they did not believe what was officially issued, why did they believe rumour?” President Yar’Adua also mentioned a similar rumour about his state of health during the last presidential campaign when he said he had cold and had to travel to Germany for immediate check-up.

Yar’Adua told the nation that only God knew how long he would live as the President of Nigeria. He said, “I can die tomorrow, I may die next month and I may live up to 90. I can not guarantee how long I will live. And I am not a super human being.”

Nigeria power shortage to persist (BBC)

Nigerians do not get reliable electricity supply
Nigeria will not be able to generate enough electricity for its population until at least 2015, President Umaru Yar'Adua has said.

Speaking live on television, the president answered critics who said he had been slow to address the problem.

Nigeria is the eighth largest exporter of oil but cannot generate enough electricity to meet the needs of its 140 million-strong population.

Before his election, President Yar'Adua promised to take swift action on power.

But three finished gas-fuelled power stations are unable to generate electricity because Nigeria has sold all its gas for export, the president said.

These deals with international oil companies would have to be renegotiated over seven years, he added.

"It is only now that the nation realises the critical importance of gas to the national economy," the president said.

'Failed privatisation'

The president said the nation's privatisation of the power industry had failed.

During the televised press conference with a select group of journalists he declared his intention to spend some of Nigeria's savings from oil earnings on repairing the nation's power stations and transmission grid.

Under the previous administration of Olusegun Obasanjo, the government-run power company was split up so parts of it could be sold.

Nigeria's electricity facts
Currently generates 3500MW
Would need 100,000MW to become an industrialised economy, according to the ex-president
Six power stations begun under the last administration have not been completed
$16bn (£8bn) has so far been spent on the power sector since 1999

Power stations are rotting away unfinished, and imported generator turbines are still in ports unable to be moved years after they were delivered, a parliamentary investigation found in March.

There was no way investors could be attracted to the industry as it was he said.

"Today, still, most of the companies are still publicly owned," President Yar'Adua said.

"Emergency legislation" will be needed to allow the government to spend some of the billions of dollars in oil revenue it has saved in the central bank on power, he said.

For every barrel of oil sold $59 goes to the national budget.

The rest is held in an account which has now swelled to $12 billion.

By law this has to be shared among the state governments.

Health worries

The president coughed constantly through the press conference.

One of the reasons his critics have said he has been slow to act is his deteriorating health.

Last month he was flown to Germany for emergency medical treatment.

"They prepared the operating theatre, all the surgeons were ready," he said.

"But they ran tests on me and said an operation wasn't necessary."

An allergic reaction to a malaria drug was responsible for his illness, he said.

In 2000 he suffered from an unnamed kidney condition, from which he says he has recovered.

He was also flown to Germany for medical treatment in the middle of his election campaign.

"I am just a human being, I could die tomorrow, but I could also live until 90," he told the conference.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lack of adequate power can only engender further job loss, says Esele

Trade Union Congress (TUC), President General, Mr. Peter Esele, has left no one in doubt that the he knows his onions. He has continued to change the face of collective bargaining through robust and well-informed arguments on national issues without compromising the welfare of workers.

In this interview with DELE FANIMO and ADEWALE SANYAOLU, he ex-rays the state of the economy, power sector and the one-year in office of the current administration.


YAR'ADUA promised massive job, constant power supply via a declaration of emergency in the power sector. One year down the line, what is your assessment of his administration?

One year down the road for the current administration has been more of urge purge, more of motion without movement but still credit goes to the administration in the area of rule of law and arbitrariness of the previous eight years, which there are some changes.

But after that, what next? In the area of power generation, which the President said he is going to declare an emergency nothing has been done in that respect.

For creation of jobs, how many jobs have been created since this government came to power?

In Europe, or America they know the amount of job that he has been created. And they also know the number of people that get employed every month, because they have statistics for that.

But in this part of the world, nothing like that. So, if you ask me, I will say this government has not really given us the clear-cut agenda. That one will be able to say this is what I will hold them for.

What is your assessment of the real sector of the economy? Has it really improved or the sector is going down the line, almost to extinction level?

If you are asking me about the real sector, I will say how can the real sector improve or grow when there is no power. So, if you ask me, I will say the real sector is going into extinction. They are barely surviving. And those that are still in operation live on generator.

And when you notice what is going on now, by getting power for an hour or two some of them virtually run their generators for 24 hours in a day.

So, I think they are worse-off now.

That means jobs will be lost and people will be dislocated. What is the labour movement doing, to at least mitigate some of these serious issues?

It is not that jobs will be lost. Jobs are being lost. Because we have real serious problems that this government should address. We have the problems in the Niger Delta. Companies are leaving that region, and people are losing their jobs. And these are creating more problems in the society. Now, if we are labour have the capacity to generate power, probably we would have done that.

We pay our taxes, and we expect government to provide all this infrastructures, because that is what we have government for. For government to put resources together and then solve the problem that will serve as a catalyst for the development of the society, and the country.

You and I will agree that infrastructurally, we are not there. And that is why sometimes I laugh when we talk about this Vision 2020. Because if you talk about 2020, you are looking at the 20th biggest economy in the world, and I think that is Belgium.

So, if you at where we are and where Belgium is, it's a long way off. But then for us to even get there, the infrastructure to get there is not even on the ground.

Besides, you can't even lay your hands for the plans to take us there.

Though we can say the banks via banks' consolidation are there, yes. But after that, what next, where is power, rail and road. So this decay in getting too much.

Now, we will say Yar'Adua is one year old fine. But I am looking at it from the chain that we have been under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government nine years. And I am looking at it from a composite perspective. That we have been under PDP government for nine years. And nine years is enough to at least address some of these problems like power.

Nine years is enough for government to ensure that we have adequate supply of power. For rail, nine years is enough for government to build it to ensure the cheap movement of good on our roads.

These are a lot of challenges that we face as leader and which is affecting the Nigerian workers.

What we try to say is that we are a pressure group. We try to bring it to the attention of government. And there are several ways we do this. Either by picket or strike. The last time, we had to go on strike over the sale of some refineries, which we feel we lead to job losses. And also, areas that were not cleared by government privatisation and the issue of due process. These are the things that we can also do.

But we have not rested on our oars to ensure that Aluta continue which is, we will continue to talk about things that are affecting Nigerian workers. Because, if things are not good for Nigerian workers, things cannot be good for Nigerians.

So that is the only way we can agitate for the people. Because we cannot carry guns or any other armed weapon to break the law. But what we can do is that, we must at all times bring this to the attention of those who are in power. And also to make Nigerians to be aware that this is how far we have gone and this is the stage we are.

Yar'Adua said recently that he is going to create 10 million jobs by 2011. But from what is on ground, do you think that is visible?

Yes I heard it. But if you want to create 10 million jobs, I think even in the most advanced countries of the world they can't create 10 million jobs in three years.

Well, he is the President may be there are some things he wants to do that we are not seeing. But my worry is that, if you say you want to create 10 million jobs, you should be able to tell the people how you intend to create it. In which aspect of the economy does he intends to create it and work on to create that job? Because the aspect of the economy that that can create a 100,000 or 200,000 jobs now in one year is the textile industry. And the textile industry is as good as being in a state of comma at the moment. Though everything is been done now to see if they can be brought back to life. But at the moment, it is as good as dead.

However, even if they are trying to bring them back to life that cannot happen within a year.

So, now if you look at the Oil and Gas, the sector is a specialised area. So, how is government going to create jobs in that sector?

Now, if government says 10 million jobs in 2011, and we are in 2008, that means we have three more years. Which means on the average, government wants to create 3.5 or 3.3 million jobs in a year.

If the President can do that, we all will be very happy. But if you ask me what is on ground towards achieving that, I am scared and worried. Because there is really nothing on ground for that to be achieved.

The first thing that can help you, if you say you want to create job is power. Because you need power for the formal and informal sector of the economy. And you know we have a large pool of people in the informal sector - artisans, small-scale industrialists and so on.

So, how do you encourage them? But if we have power today and the President says by the end of the year the country will generate up to 10,000 to 15,000 megawatts, fine.

This now gives you room to say, okay, if they cannot achieve the 10 million jobs, probably they can achieve a million. But this is a tall order. Though I wish him well. But I just feel probably there is a way he can do it.

Elsewhere where governments make such policy statement or pronouncement, governments let you know which area of the economy they are going to put interest and attention to generate those jobs.

I read the statement and speech. But I could not lay my hands on which aspect of the economy that is going to receive that kind of attention to create such jobs.

In the next few days, the one-year oil price freeze will lapse. But when you were negotiating, it was about $82 per barrel. Today the price is about $130 per barrel. What are Nigerians going to expect?

First, let us commend all Nigerians for their understanding in the last one-year. And also commend the government as well for sticking to the terms of agreement. We have lived through government that don't live by agreement. When they tell you one thing, they do something else. And also, one reason why we took the one-year option was that we say it as a way of creating stability. As at the time we made that agreement the price of crude was between $60 and $70 per barrel. Now the price is around $135 per barrel as at today (Thursday) last week. The issue. What are the options available to us? We are currently having informal discussions with authorities. I have had one with the Energy minister, where we are looking at things from holistic perspective. To say, where are we going to go from here?

But at the moment, there has been no agreement to the issue currently. However, we are still doing an exploratory discussion on how best to address this issue.

And we had already spoken to government to look at the issues on ground and keep it the way it is.

If government is however, thinking of increasing, we need to also sit down and say increase by what. And what are the benefits for the Nigerian people?

Secondly, we don't want a situation whereby previous government telling us that they want to increase. And subsequently telling us that they want to reduce subsidy, provide more infrastructure. But you and I know that nothing was ever done. Instead they created more hardship.

If you ask me, I will prefer that whatever we do or are going to do with government should be based on the law. If there have to be a bill, we will have a bill to tell that if an amount is coming in into the country that is been generated. That is what it is going to be used for. If there is going to be a board, it has to cut across, both labour and government and see how to tie the whole thing in.

Because if we are able to do that, it will be good. Why are people so particular about been against the increase in price of petroleum products? The reason is just because people have not seen an improvement in their life. If you are telling me to tighten my belt and you are loosening yours, so how do you now expect me to trust you?

So, these are the fundamental issues that are making labour and Nigerians so aggrieved and upset when government comes up with anything that has to do with prices of petroleum products.

At the moment, I will say we are still talking. But I don't expect government to go ahead and increase the prices of petroleum products without having discussions with labour.

When you have an agreement and the agreement laps courtesy demands that you go back to the people and then talk about it.

Lets look at the level of human capacity development in the country. In your own assessment, can the present state of education and skill acquisition take us to achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs)?

I keep hearing about the idea of condemning everything that has to do with our educational system. There are problems. I agree to that. And there is very big room for improvement. This does not mean that you throw the baby with the bathwater away. Let us look at areas where we feel we are lacking and concentrate on those areas and see how we can improve on it.

But when I hear people in government making a sweeping condemnation of our educational system is not fair.

You still get people who are out of this system and are still excelling in what they do. But what they don't know is that when you hear a minister or people in government condemning our educational system, it shows that they too are responsible for it.

It was not like this before. So, what I expect us to do, is to do an overhaul, a kind of audit on the educational system of our country and try to find out what is lacking.

Then, what do we need to do to address this concern? And in our growth, in the next 20 or 30 years, what aspect of our national life or educational aspects are we lacking that we think we should pull all our resources on to ensure that we develop it?

Science and Technology, how are we handling it? Same for IT. How are we able to ensure that Nigerians improve in that aspect of capacity building? But again, if you are talking about capacity building. You must also look at your standard of living. To improve the people, you must ensure that they have sound education. But this days, what we have is that most people now go to private schools.

So, attention is no longer paid to public schools because nobody goes there anymore. The children of the poor are the only ones you find in public schools. But instead of government to ensure that the gap between the public and private are bridged, that is not done.

Formerly, nobody goes to private schools but all goes to public school. That shows there is a decay. But I will not want to make a sweeping condemnation of our educational system. I will say there is a huge room for improvement, if we want to compete, because this is the era of globalisation.

For us to be able to compete and develop our country, then we need to carry out an overhaul in our education system and improve on it.

But the welfare of our teachers, because it is not only about making chairs and tables and you put it there. The lecturers, teachers in university, polytechnic, primary and secondary should be well motivated through up to date training and adequate remuneration, in that way they can impart knowledge; but not when you don't take care of them.

The first law of life is survival, the lecturers, teachers need to survive and in the process of struggling for survival, they might want to do anything to survive.

And all these are responsible for them wanting to take their skills abroad. Formerly, non of our lecturers want to go out. Rather they want to stay in the country. But the situation is different now.

But, if we don't do all these, in 20 to 30 years time, we are going to have a very serious social uprising in our country. Because the gap between the rich and poor is widening everyday.

So, if the government does not correct this imbalance, there will be problem because it is also for our own security and that of the country. So, that the situation does not degenerate to what is currently happening in South Africa at the moment, where people are ready to kill for the sake of joblessness and homelessness.

Monday, May 26, 2008

As African Union Strategises on Peace, Security

Juliana Taiwo, 05.22.2008

Recently, 26 journalists drawn from nine African countries assembled in Addis Ababa for the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation three-day capacity building programme on peace and security on the continent. Although plagued by a myriad of conflicts, top officials of the African Union say there is a silver lining on the horizon. Juliana Taiwo was there

Right from the Addis Ababa airport, Monday night, May 5, 2008 when participants started arriving in batches from West and Southern Africa, it was clear that the Zimbabwe and Darfur issues were going to dominate discussions at the three-day capacity building programme, "Journalists´ Training on the African Peace and Security Architecture”, by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The two participants from Zimbabwe (The Standard News Editor, Walter Marwizi and National Constitutional Assembly, Information officer, Patience Nyangara started the discussion right there at the airport. The cold from the air-conditioning units at the airport did not douse the heated discussions from Nigerian and Zimbabwean journalists, who engaged each other soon after formalities while waiting for the arrival of other colleagues from Ghana, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Madagascar and Mozambique.
Walter stated clearly when Okey Ndiribe of Vanguard Newspapers asked what the situation was when he left home adding that he was in Addis to find out why the AU has been particularly silent on Robert Mugabe’s rule in Zimbabwe.
As far as they (Walter and Patience) were concerned, what was the use of EU sanctions if it is not enforced? He said the sanctions from the West on Mugabe and his family has not affected him much as he has found alternatives to meeting his personal needs and concerns while the poor Zimbabweans in addition to poverty and hunger, are now being killed on daily basis for daring to vote against the same man who is supposed to protect them.
Walter said appointing South African President, Thabo Mbeki, as mediator was a disaster because he was Mugabe’s friend. He also said neither Mugabe nor Morgan Tsvangirai were the messiahs the Zimbabweans were looking for but in their desperate need for change, they were ready to settle for even ‘Satan’ just to be free again.
So when the 26 participants including two from Ethiopia, gathered at the African Union Conference room in Addis Ababa, from May 6-8, 2008, many took turns in hitting back at the AU and their frustrating hurdles placed on the path of journalists trying to report their activities.
The AU representatives most of whom happened to be the resource persons were quick to beat their chests about the interventions of the AU in places like Zimbabwe, Somalia, Darfur and recently Comoros but most of the disclosure sounded like French to participants as no efforts have been made to publicise them.
Mr. Charles Mwaura, an expert on Early Warning System with the AU, said it was not true that African leaders were closing their eyes to the happenings in Zimbabwe. He said though the leaders may not openly criticise bad leadership they were working behind the scenes to tell leaders like Mugabe the home truth. He said the success of SADC was as a result of the backing of the AU Commission and the African leaders engaging of Mugabe at the African Leaders Summit in 2007, this he said led to Mugabe engaging in dialogue with the MDC opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
He also disclosed that no conflict in the continent that has not been foreseen and efforts were made to warn them like that of Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
While hitting on the African media, Mwaura said while the western media markets their news with updates at intervals, some African media do not update their sites if they have any at all. This, he said, was responsible for the poor reportage of the AU and other development happening in the continent.
Mr. El Ghassim Wane, Head of the Conflict Management Division of the African Union said the issue of peace and security was a priority for the African Union. “That is why as a matter of fact in the process of putting together the AU, the leaders made the request to review the way we are working with the peace and security, look at the instruments that existed at that time and see how best we could improve on it. It was in that context that a decision was made to adopt the protocol establishing the African Union Peace and Security Council. And that protocol provided for the establishment of the Peace and Security Council and also established other key organs to support the peace and Security Council in its mandate and include the Panel of the Wise, the African Stand-by Force (ASF). But there are also provisions providing for closer cooperation with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) which play increasingly active role in the prevention and management of conflicts. For example, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Arab Maghreb Union (UMA).
“I believe we have made progress significantly in putting together what we call the Peace and Security Architecture which is made up of all these organs. The AU as of today is more active than it has ever been in dealing with conflicts situation. There is hardly any conflict situation that is not on the agenda of the AU. We sometimes play the lead roles in all these situations, we support the regional groupings, we work very closely with the United Nations, we are involved in conflict preventions, we are involved in conflicts resolutions, we are involved in post conflicts, we are involved in programmes aimed at addressing the root causes of conflicts.
“In spite of the achievements clearly we also do face a number of challenges and one of the main constrains has to do with financial resources,” he said.
On what the AU was doing to address these challenges, Wane said “when it comes to finance, of course we are trying to address it but within membership of the AU but also with our partners. You know the United Nations Peace and Security have a role to play. When the European Union act on the issue of peace and security it is also acting on behalf of United Nations and we need clearly a much bigger support from the international community. Already we have received significant support from the European Union, United States of America, Japan, Canada, China, from individual members of EU and other member states. We are trying to generate enough support to build our capacity in terms of human resources and also to increase our resources. Maybe you are aware that recently, the security council organised meeting on relationships between the UN and regional organisations particularly the AU and one of the focus of the meeting was precisely to see how best to enhance our resource base, how best to enhance our human resources capacity to make it possible for us to address or deal more effectively with the issues facing the continent in terms of peace and security”, he said.
Wane speaking on early warning system and why the AU wants to put it in the front burner, said “You know one of the main objectives of the AU is prevention of conflicts and that is for two reasons. One of which is that it is always better to prevent than to cure because many lives would be saved and of course prevent destruction of properties, killing of people. You know all the mayhem that goes with war. Second one is that it is cheaper to prevent than to send very expensive peace support operations. For instance the operations in Darfur is a project of over $400 million a year, that is literally four times the budget of the AU and it is the same for Somalia. So we have a keen interest in preventing conflicts and that is why in the peace and security council protocol I referred to earlier, there is provision on the establishment of continental early warning system that would be made up of the AU and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), to make it possible for us to anticipate and prevent all conflicts. We have made some progress in putting in place the key components of the early warning system and again I think ECOWAS for instance among the regional body is clearly the most advanced and we are working very closely with them and once the early warning system is fully in place, it will clearly enhance our capacity to anticipate and also to put policy options to our leadership in the AU so that appropriate preventive action could be taken but there is still much to be done.
The regional training, according to Dr. Sabine Fandrych, Resident Representative of FES, Addis Ababa office, is subordinate to the objective of creating a regional dialogue on security issues, and specifically aims at raising awareness among journalists about the structure, functioning and implications of the new regional security architecture in the framework of the African Union; its linkage to other sub-regional, regional and global organizations; the opportunities and challenges of conflict prevention, resolution and post-conflict peace-building.
Fandrych said the workshop was also intended to identify journalists as possible multipliers on these issues and to improve the networking of journalists in the Southern and West African region.
“This security architecture encompasses a Peace and Security Council (PSC) which, according to its founding protocol, is meant to be a ‘collective security and early-warning arrangement to facilitate timely and efficient response to conflict and crisis situations in Africa’. The PSC is to be supported by the Commission of the AU itself, via the Peace and Security Commissioner as well as the Peace and Security Department, a Continental Early Warning System (CEWS), an African Standby Force with five regional brigades as well as a special fund. Apart from that, a Panel of the Wise and a military staff committee have been set up to serve as advisory bodies for the PSC in all questions relating to the promotion of peace and security in Africa.
“The creation of such a continental African system for Peace and Security is a remarkable and innovative development, and it is unequalled even on a global scale. However, there is a long way to go to make the envisaged structure a functioning system, both in technical as well as in political terms. In order for it to function effectively, close cooperation with the sub-regional organizations as well as with the United Nations and international partners is needed.
At the end, it was agreed that African journalists need to take interest in the happenings in the AU, efforts it is making in conflicts prevention and resolutions and bring it to the knowledge of the beneficiary states as well as the continents.
While it was agreed that journalistic ethics such as credibility, balance, objectivity, neutrality and morality, must not be compromised, it was also stressed that responsible and objective reporting will contribute to peace and security in the region.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Senate Asks Waziri to Stay away from EFCC

Hi folks,

According to, Mrs. Farda Waziri had just returned from a spending spree in preparation for her new job. Now she has been asked to stay away until confirmed. It is amazing how we rush to embrace illegality when we are involved then turn around to criticise when we are not the beneficiary.

To think she has continued to report at the EFCC head office even when Nigerians are crying over how she was appointed.

Senate Asks Waziri to Stay away from EFCC

From Sufuyan Ojeifo in Abuja, 05.23.2008

Senate President David Mark yesterday asked the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs. Farida Waziri, to stay away from office pending her confirmation by Senate.
THISDAY, however, confirmed that she still reported to the head office of EFCC in Abuja yesterday and left around 3pm, although without accepting the handover notes presumably on learning of the Senate directive.
Also yesterday, THISDAY was informed that Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, the former acting chairman of the commission, was “in a fix” over different directives he has received in the last one week over his status.
At the National Assembly yesterday, Mark directed the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs, Nar-cotics, Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Sola Akinyede (Ekiti South), to interrogate the facts that she was already acting and had indeed assumed office with a view to advising her appropriately on what to do in the circumstance.
He said that if it was found out that she was already acting in the office of the commission’s Chairman, the Comm-ittee Chairman should write to her to leave and not resume until she had been confirmed by the Upper House.
According to him, “Ascertain if she has resumed or not; if she has, tell her to leave the place alone because she cannot resume until we have confirmed her. Please, go and get your facts.”
He also said that the Committee should investigate all issues surrounding the appointment while screening her as well as the five other members of the commission nominated for senate confirmation and report back in one week to plenary for confirmation hearing.
This followed a heated debate on the floor of the Senate on the propriety of her appointment in acting capacity by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua prelude to his executive communication seeking confirmation of her appointment as substantive chairman of the commission.
The debate was prompted by the observations raised by Akinyede to the letter sent to the Senate President by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, in which he justified Yar’Adua’s action.
Shortly after the Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin, introduced the first item on yesterday’s order paper and moved a motion calling on the Senate to consider Yar’Adua’s request for the confirmation of the nominations of Waziri and the five other members in accordance with Section 2(3) of the EFCC Act, 2004, with the Minority Whip, Senator Sani Yerima seconding it, Mark put the motion to question and members unanimously voted for it.
Mark said thereafter: “I think the normal practice is for us to refer the request to the committee except anybody has any objections to make. The committee would be given one week to conclude the assignment and report back for confirmation.”
But Akinyede said he had observations to make in respect of the letter sent to the Senate President on the appointment by Aondoakaa in which he attempted to justify Yar’Adua’s action since the letter was a reply to his (Akinyede’s) letter to him (Aondoakaa).
He told the Senate that he wrote a letter to the Attorney-General when Waziri’s appointment in acting capacity was announced Thursday, last week, to draw his attention to the breach of the provision of the EFCC Act, 2004.
According to him, “There was an appointment made in acting capacity and that was why I issued a letter to the Attorney-General because there is no provision for acting Chairman, as the position does not exist. But I am surprised that the Attorney-General wants to justify the appointment.
“The Attorney-General argued that the action of Mr. President is covered by Chapter 123, Section 11 (1) of the Interpretation Act on appointment which states that where an enactment confers a power to appoint a person either to an office or to exercise any functions, whether for a specified period or not, the power includes - (a) power to appoint a person by name or to appoint the holder from time to time of a particular office; (b) power to remove or suspend him; (c) power, exercisable in the manner and subject to the limitations and conditions (if any) applicable to the power to appoint- (i) to reappoint or reinstate him; (ii) to appoint a person to act in his place, either generally or in regard to specified functions, during such time as is considered expedient by the authority in whom the power of appointment in question is vested.”
Akinyede stated further, “The EFCC Act said the senate confirmation must come first. If this is allowed to pass, it is going to erode the authority of the Senate. This justification by the Attorney-General is worrisome and I want the senate to look into this.”
He also referred the Senate to Section 147(2) of the Constitution: “Any appointment to the office of Ministers of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any persons to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President,” saying that the same procedure was applicable to the office of the EFCC Chairman.
He declared that the authority of the Senate was under threat and urged his colleagues that the threat must not be allowed to stand.
Senator Lee Ledogo Maeba (Rivers South-east) shared the position of Akinyede, arguing that the Senate was already under attack.
According to him, “On whether or not to clear Waziri, we are being blackmailed to clear the woman. Ibrahim Lamorde has been acting for several months. If the President wants to appoint a substantive chairman, he should do so in consonance with the provisions of the EFCC Act, 2004. I see the appointment of Waziri as acting chairman as a breach of procedure.
“This nomination is already very controversial and the best thing to do is to send it back to Mr. President. The Chairman of the Committee has already received a bashing from the Attorney General and the Chairman has said that it was not correct and what other different report can we get from the Committee chairman after screening?”
But Senator Kanti Bello (Katsina North) said it was unfortunate that allegations were being made, pointing out that “if a Senator has got an information, he must lay it on the table.”
He maintained that the allegations that Waziri had resumed office should be investigated and confirmed before making it.
Senator Abubakar Sodangi (Nasarawa West) advised the senate to return the nominations to Yar’Adua to enable him represent them in line with due process as clearly enshrined in the EFCC Act, 2004.
However, Senator Sani Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara West), who is a member of the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, disagreed with his colleagues, saying Yar’Adua was right to appoint acting Chairman for the EFCC, prelude to Senate confirmation.
He said Senator Akinyede, who is the chairman of the committee, was not in a position to write the Attorney-General of the Federation in the first instance on the announcement of the appointment of Waziri as acting Chairman.
On his part, Senator Anyim Ude (Ebonyi South) said that the development had brought into focus the issues of due process and the authority of the Senate, stressing, “On due process, I associate myself with Senator Akinyede because the procedure has been breached, hence the controversy we are in now.”
The contribution by Senator Uche Chukwumerije (Aba North) was mediatory as he called for a middle-of-the road approach on the issue so that Waziri and other members of the Commission could be screened with a proviso that the Senate would no longer tolerate any breach of procedure after this.
He noted that Senator Akinyede made an important point on the issue of threat to the authority of the Senate but expressed concern that the debate on the issue was tending along sectional lines.
“Let us overlook this and say only this and never again. We can pass a resolution…. Let us very reluctantly accept this and pass a resolution that we will not accept any other breach after this,” Chukwumerije said.
Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) (Cross River Central), said some of the issues raised by Senator Akinyede were of serious constitutional nature.
He, however, stated that the claim that Waziri had already resumed office at the EFCC was premature, stressing, “These are facts the committee must find out. I read in the papers that she was to have resumed last Thursday, but that she has not resumed.”
He continued: “At the moment, EFCC is rudderless. Lamorde has been posted to Bauchi State; whether Waziri has taken over or not is fact the Committee must investigate. The committee must go on with the screening and in the process find out if she has resumed.”
The Senate President at this point referred to the Attorney-General’s letter to Senator Akinyede, which was routed through his office, saying the argument contained therein to the effect that President Yar’Adua was right in appointing an acting Chairman for the EFCC was worrisome.
According to Mark, “He (Aondoakaa) gave the impression that the President can appoint chairmen in acting capacity before Senate confirmation. The letter appears to be justifying that certain appointments can be acting and later confirmed by the Senate.
“The advice to Senator Akinyede is to ascertain whether she (Waziri) has resumed at the EFCC. If she has, tell her to leave office because she cannot resume until after we have confirmed her. Go and get the facts. She has no business resuming except this senate confirms her. Find out whether he has resumed and draft an appropriate reply to the Attorney-General.”
He said the letter from the Attorney-General did not need to be laid on the table.
Mark tasked the Committee to report back in one week. Akinyede had wanted clarifications on whether the one week was for investigating the facts of Waziri’s resumption in the EFCC office in acting capacity.
But Mark said: “The assignment you have been given is screening for the purpose of confirmation.”
Yar’Adua’s letter, nominating Waziri and five other members, was read on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, about seven days after the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, had announced her appointment in acting capacity.
The letter, entitled: “Appoin-tment of Chairman and Members of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)” by Yar’Adua had read: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is an agency established by an Act of the National Assembly in 2004 charged with the responsibility for the enforcement of all economic and financial crimes law among other things.
“The appointment of the Chairman and members of the Commission is provided for in Section 2 subsection 1 and sub-subsections A and B of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act, 2004 except for the appointment of the Secretary of the Commission who is also a member of the Commission, which is provided for separately in Section 8, Subsection 1 of the Act.
“By virtue of Section 2 subsection 3 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, which confers upon the President the powers to appoint the Chairman and members of the Commission other than the ex-officio members, subject to confirmation by the Senate, I have appointed the following as members of the Commission: Mrs. Farida M. Waziri, AIG retired - Chairman; Barrister Basil M.C. Anago - member; Barrister Paul Harris Ogbole - member; Mr. Banjo Olaniyan - member; Alhaji Mohammed Jibo -member; Mr. Emmanuel Akomoye - member/secretary
“Their Curriculum Vitae are attached hereto. The purpose of this letter is to request the Senate to kindly confirm their appointments in the exercise of the powers conferred upon them by Section 2 (3) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act of 2004.”
Meanwhile, THISDAY has learnt the government has reportedly written to Lamorde, asking him to hand over to Waziri “immediately” – although her appointment is yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
The police authorities have also asked him to proceed to Ningi, his new posting as Area Commander, “immediately” – even though he is yet to hand over officially to Waziri.
This could leave a leadership vacuum at the commission.
Also, President Yar’Adua was said to have given Lamorde permission to attend some conferences in Australia and Switzerland which is still running.
Although he had to return home on learning of the announcement of Waziri’s appointment, the presidential permission allowing him to attend the conferences is still valid since it has not been withdrawn.


Hi folks,

I just came across this and thought I should share. Wish you all a fantastic weekend.

Culled From UK Newspaper: Daily Indipendent

By Andy McSmith Saturday, 26 April 2008

A senior British Airways pilot reveals today the startling levels of casual racism in the flagship UK company, which once famously claimed to be "the world's favourite airline".
Captain Doug Maughan, who has 28 years' flying experience, including 15 years with BA, says that derogatory remarks about race by his colleagues are so common they are treated as normal.
Mr Maughan, a serving pilot who captains BA aircraft to all parts of the world, has decided to go public with his complaints after struggling to persuade BA's management to take racism among its senior staff seriously. He has complained by email to BA's chief executive, Willie Walsh, but says no action was taken.
His allegations are an acute embarrassment for the airline which carries 36 million passengers a year; operates out of airports in every continent; and could plausibly claim to be one of Britain's most high-profile companies. The airline is already threatened with a boycott by Nigerians flying to and from the UK.
Mr Maughan alleges that racism is a "generational" problem – common among middle-aged pilots, but rare among younger pilots.
He lodged his first complaint after hearing a senior training captain use the word "coon" during a training session on a flight simulator – but says that no action was taken.
"There was the time when we set off for Los Angeles with a large party of Saudis on board, who had joined us at Heathrow direct from the VIP lounge," he added. "In the cruise, my captain suddenly embarked on an extraordinary rant about 'rag-heads'. He got the word out twice before I stopped him by explaining he was going to be short of a first officer for the return sector if he carried on."
Mr Maughan, who lives in Dunblane, Perthshire, was on another flight when a fellow flight officer complained that there were too many Asians in Britain. "The captain turned to me and said: 'I don't suppose there are many of them up your way.' I replied: 'Well, there's my wife.' After that, they had the decency to fall silent," he said.
He has also complained about abusive emails sent to him by a fellow pilot, who is English. One of the emails said: "Come separation, will all Jocks F. off to that Welfare State (paid for by English middle classes)??? Please say yes."
Mr Maughan, 53, is so exasperated by what he sees as BA management's refusal to tackle the problem that he is planning a protest at this year's annual shareholders' meeting. "It's what I'd call a canteen culture," he said. "It seems to be accepted that people are going to make racist remarks and get away with it. The phrase 'institutional racism' has been so over-used as to be almost worthless, but I have to say that racism is as prevalent now in BA as it was in the RAF 25 years ago.
"What is common among white flying crew in BA is the use of mildly derogatory, sometimes jokey, language about other races, mainly aimed at black and Asian groups. Because it's so common, it's hard to tackle: it's ... the norm and rarely even noticed."
BA said: "All British Airways employees must adhere to our policies concerning dignity at work. Under these policies we encourage employees to report incidences of racism, sexism or any other behaviour that they deem offensive or inappropriate. Any reports of such behaviour are taken extremely seriously and investigated as a matter of priority. Captain Maughan has a duty as an employee to provide details of any alleged inappropriate behaviour direct to the airline."
Mr Maughan's revelations come as BA's treatment of Nigerian passengers threatens to have diplomatic repercussions. Robert Dewar, the British high commissioner to Nigeria, has been summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be warned that Nigeria expects its citizens to be treated with "dignity". And a meeting between BA representatives and the director general of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, Harold Demuren, broke up when Dr Demuren objected that BA had slighted him by sending junior managers.
Nigeria's President, Umaru Yar'Adua, has ordered an investigation into an incident at Heathrow in which 136 passengers were turned off a BA flight to Lagos. It developed as immigration officers and BA staff were trying to force a man who was being deported to stay on board against his will. The deportee, Augustine Eme, is a member of Massob, a banned organisation in Nigeria campaigning for independence for the region of Biafra.
A fellow passenger, Ayodeji Omotade, from Chatham, objected to Mr Eme's treatment and was arrested. Mr Omotade's arrest triggered more protests, until the BA captain ordered every passenger in economy class off the plane. BA has defended the decision to empty the aircraft saying that it was legally obliged to carry passengers such as Mr Eme. It said a large number of passengers on flight BA75 on 27 March became disruptive; that it was not possible to pinpoint which ones were involved; and that the police and crew agreed it could pose a safety risk to allow them to stay on board.
BA's other troubles
BA's biggest disaster in recent years was the botched opening of Heathrow Terminal 5 on 27 March. More than 500 flights were cancelled after a hi-tech baggage handlinge system malfunctioned. The fiasco cost the airline £16m, and, combined with rising oil prices, caused its share price to fall to its lowest level in four years. Chief executive Willie Walsh resisted calls for his resignation.
*Gate Gourmet
In August 2005, the catering firm Gate Gourmet, which wanted redundancies among its full-time staff, brought in 130 temporary staff to handle the holiday workload. The firm's 600 staff went out on unofficial strike, and were sacked. About 1,000 BA staff walked out in sympathy.As a result, 900 flights were grounded and BA lost £45m.
*The crucifix
BA was threatened with a boycott by protesting Christians, after Nadia Eweida, a check-in worker, was suspended for refusing to remove her crucifix at work.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

EFCC: Waziri’s Name Finally Sent to Senate

Why did they skip the process in the first place? And to think she had even gone to resume immeditately. Enjoying illegality meanwhile she is preparing to fight corruption.

EFCC: Waziri’s Name Finally Sent to Senate
From Sufuyan Ojeifo in Abuja, 05.20.2008

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has sent a letter to the Senate seeking confirmation of retired Assi-stant Inspector General (AIG) of Police, Mrs. Farida Mzamber Waziri, as substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This followed last Thurs-day’s announcement of Waziri as acting chairman of the Commission by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Ambas-sador Baba Gana Kingibe.
Her resumption of duty without confirmation had generated controversy because it was said to have breached the provision of Part 1, Section 2 (3) of the EFCC Act which states that “The Chairman and members of the Commission other than ex-officio members shall be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate.”
The Upper House had served notice that it would look at the process to see if the appointment and announcement of Waziri as acting chairman was consistent with the provisions of the Act.
THISDAY gathered yesterday night that an executive communication had already been sent to the Senate nominating Waziri for confirmation as the substantive Chairman of the Commission.
A top presidency source said that the letter was dispatched last Friday to the Senate. All executive communications by the President are usually addressed to the Senate President, Senator David Mark.
The source was confident that the letter, barring last minute changes, would be read on the floor of the Senate this morning by the Senate President under announcement.
Today’s session is the first by the Senate since the Presidency announced Waziri last Thursday as acting chair of the nation’s sleaze watchdog.
The announcement had drawn flaks from some circles, including the National Assembly bordering on procedural breach.
The Benue-born EFCC boss is married to Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Turkey, Ajuji Waziri (a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police) from Gombe State.
When contacted yesterday night, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Information, Senator Ayogu Eze, said he could not confirm if President Yar’Adua’s letter on Waziri was already in the Senate.
Waziri will, upon confirmation by the Upper House, replace the former Chairman of the Commission, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, on substantive basis.
Ribadu is currently on a study leave at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS), Kuru, near Jos.
Eze had stated at the weekend that the Senate would not give a stamp of authority to abuse of procedure and rule of law if it was found out that the Presidency did not do the right thing in the appointment of Waziri.
He had responded to a question on the likely step the Senate would take in the light of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Sola Akinyede’s letter to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, drawing his attention to the breach of provision of the EFFC Act in the appointment of an acting Chairman for the Commission.