This has been a testing three years for Yemi Osinbajo – an economic recession, proliferating security crises and now a resurgent opposition rallying for what most politologues think will be one of Nigeria’s closest-run elections.
As soon as the election campaign opened on 18 November, Osinbajo set off on a regional tour to convince Nigerians to vote for his All Progressives Congress (APC). Osinbajo is not a natural politician and his careful delivery and considered statements are out of kilter with the revival of populist politics.
The Africa Report caught up with Osinbajo at the Presidential Wing at Abuja airport, just after he had attended the dedication of the Dunamis International Gospel Centre. Osinbajo soon snapped back into campaigning mode, with his critique of the opposition’s manifesto.
Then he was ready to jump on a plane to address more meetings in Lagos. Osinbajo’s outreach to people at town hall meetings and his criticism of those trading in identity politics have won him a growing respect. A former law professor and a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church, Osinbajo now comes across as the cool-headed technocrat.
But that is not the whole story. Politics runs through his veins – not the partisan barracking style of politics, but one of organising communities to change society. Osinbajo is married to the granddaughter of nationalist leader Obafemi Awolowo.
He sees the rapid development in those early independence years as holding important lessons for today’s political class. Since Osinbajo took over the vice-presidency in May 2015, he has been put in charge of stabilising the economy against a backdrop of crashing oil prices and militant attacks in the Niger Delta.
“A good man in a crisis,” said one of his colleagues, without much fear of contradiction. And the crises have piled up. For much of 2017, there was intense speculation about the state of President Muhammadu Buhari’s health after lengthy trips to London for treatment.
Osinbajo temporarily took over as acting president in his absence and won more good reviews. As he and Buhari take to the campaign trail, Osinbajo will need all his powers of persuasion. Buhari’s campaign director Rotimi Amaechi says that people will need to feel there is more money in their pockets.
But the recovery has been slow. The economy is set to grow at 1.9% this year, slower than the birth rate. Osinbajo has been stepping up social investment programmes, which he says have brought 13 million Nigerians into job creation schemes, a free school meals programme as well as a cash transfer programme for 300,000 very poor households.
With a population nudging 200 million, it is a question of scale. If the government is doing the right thing, is it doing enough of the right thing for enough people? Or will the opposition under flag-bearer Atiku Abubakar start to land some killer blows? Few are prepared to place large bets either way.
Q -What are the big issues for you in this election campaign?
YEMI OSINBAJO: Corruption, security and the economy. We have stemmed grand corruption, by which I mean the direct looting of state resources, the inflation of contracts and various schemes like the ‘strategic alliance’ contracts in the oil and gas sector set to divert state resources for personal gain. In terms of security, in direct contrast to the hand-wringing, self-pity and corruption which typified the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) response to Boko Haram, this administration has retaken the 14 local government areas that were under the control of Boko Haram and has restricted their attacks to a limited geographical area. Whereas in the past, people in places as far away as the Federal Capital Territory slept with one eye open in fear of attacks by the terrorist grouping. Of course, there is still a lot more to be done in terms of security in general, but the benefits of decisive positive action are there to be compared with an era of supine helplessness.
What is your reaction to the calls to restructure the federation and devolve more power from the centre?
I reject the idea that geographical restructuring will magically solve our problems. Good governance, honest management of public resources, deeper fiscal federalism and a clear vision for development are the keys to addressing most of the challenges the nation faces. The APC empanelled a committee chaired by governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State to look at the issues. They came up with recommendations on geographical restructuring, revenue allocation, devolution of powers, the form of government and residency of citizens in states, and increased community participation. The proposals are being deliberated in a wide-ranging and inclusive manner, and we will be coming out with the official stance of the party.
Could restructuring speed up economic growth?
Stronger more autonomous states will lead to faster growth for the states and consequently for the whole. Greater devolution of powers is the way to go: enabling state police and more control over natural and other resources. The Lagos State government, between 1999 and 2007 in particular, undertook a policy of seeking to deepen the autonomy of the state and fiscal federalism by litigation. I was then attorney general of the state. In several cases before the Supreme Court, we challenged the federal government’s fiscal and administrative hegemony.
The opposition presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar is promising that his economic strategy will promote growth and be driven by the market.
I don’t see anything original about what he [Atiku] is saying or in his policy documents. He takes a few things from our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), a few sound bites here and there. We very strongly believe in markets, and we have always believed in a private sector-led economy. If you look at the ERGP, one of the key issues is how to sell down some of the government’s shares in our joint ventures.
Then do you favour a radical privatisation programme?
The opposition saying that they’re going to sell 90% of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is neither here nor there. Between 2010 and 2014, the country realised $383bn from oil and we can’t see the infrastructure that was meant to be built. So, if at that time all of our assets had been sold in some purported free-market operation, we would have been in an absolute mess today. At the moment we have all these joint ventures, the government is the principal party in these joint ventures. The real issue is fiscal prudence, good governance, ensuring that we are able to deal with corruption – especially fiscal corruption. I don’t think it’s a matter of just throwing open everything. The first question that ought to be answered by the opposition is what happened to all of the resources that we’ve earned all this time? Why do we think that selling the crown jewels today is a solution to the problems? We think that a gradual process putting in place strong systems to ensure good governance is the way to go.
This economy does not need a shock right now by removal of subsidies and the cost-push inflation which will result
So you oppose shock therapy?
When the opposition talks about deregulation, I mean these are the same people who say they want to deregulate the downstream oil sector and then they’re going to fix petrol prices at N80-90. There is absolute confusion as to how they intend to execute their economic policy. Their policies are not thought out. They are simply taking a look at our economic programme and trying to see what can be tweaked here and there. If you say, I want to deregulate, then you are saying let the markets determine the price.
But your government has retained a fuel subsidy regime?
We were determined to ensure that the abused subsidy regime was corrected. The reason why subsidies have earned such a bad name is because we had several companies that were purportedly supplying petrol to the markets, so they would say they brought five cargos whereas they brought only one but they would claim subsidies for five. So there was what was called the subsidy scam and several companies and individuals are still being prosecuted. Under the former regime, this scam was pervasive. What we have tried to do is to attempt to deregulate, but not complete deregulation. So the petrol price moved from 87 naira to about 145 naira a litre which is where it is today. It’s not a situation where different companies are coming with their claims and all of that. This is purely a government-funded subsidy and there is no room for abuse.
Do you think this fuel subsidy is a good use of state resources?
Most countries subsidise something or the other. You may have to subsidise agriculture or something else to enable the economy to go the way you want, empower people in the way that you want. Today we know that if there is a sudden shock and the subsidy is completely removed, transport prices, housing prices and food prices will go up. So the subsidy in our view holds down those prices. We think that this economy does not need a shock right now by removal of subsidies and the cost-push inflation which will result. We are doing quite a bit in terms of funding. Giving micro-credit loans, loans to industry and giving loans to traders to improve consumer spending and all of that.
Atiku has said he would float the naira if he wins the presidency. What would happen if he went through the policy like that?
First is that it’s not up to him. At the central bank we have a monetary policy committee that determines many of these parameters and there’s the central bank governor. I’m surprised that he [Atiku] would say that. We believe that we should as much as possible allow in the markets where the naira is concerned. If you look at our ERGP and several of our other policies, we’ve pushed in that direction. We also think that it has to be gradual.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been highly critical of Nigeria’s exchange rate policy. What’s your response?
I’m one of those who believe that any purist, monetary theories belong in the realm of academia, not in practical economics. You’ve got to look at your circumstances, you’ve got to look at what is going on and you’ve got to make your calculations. The IMF has its own doctrines and ideas. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all. You can’t make the same recommendations to Ghana as you would make to Croatia. I think that there are substantial differences in the way that we want to approach the economy and calculations that we are making. So I am not certain that their recommendations ought to be accepted.
There is rising concern about the quality and availability of education in Nigeria. How are you addressing this?
Under its Every Child Counts policy, the government will focus on public education with the aim of democratising digital, functional skills and science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics literacy. The main tools utilised will see an uptake in coding, animation, robotics, design thinking and other computational skills, as well as critical thinking, collaboration, project management and skills that prepare children for the world of work. The plan will also target a nationwide retraining effort to ensure teachers are able to impart the skills to revolutionise the sector. The third plank of the plan aims to remodel 10,000 schools per year to deliver the required outcome.
This week the government floated a $2.8bn eurobond. How sustainable is this borrowing, given the high percentage of state revenues spent on debt service?
Our debt-to-GDP [gross domestic product] profile is quite low: The public debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 18.4% by the middle of this year. We are reducing the debt overhang that has been stifling investment and growth. Up to N2.2 trillion ($6.1bn) in debt is owed to states, contractors, electricity distribution companies, the export expansion grant, on judgment debt and pensioners, amongst others left unpaid [by the last PDP government].
This article first appeared in the December-January 2019 print edition of The Africa Report
Ramadan heralds new probe for Nigeria’s Emir of Kano
The holy month of Ramadan began on a good and peaceful note for many Muslims around the world, but not for Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the former Central Bank governor who is Emir of Kano, in northern Nigeria.
Officials of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission have reopened investigations into allegations of corruption against Sanusi, at the supposed behest of Umar Ganduje, governor of Kano and its most influential citizen.
Sanusi, who was recently named to the board of MTN Nigeria, has been Emir of Kano since succeeding his late grand-uncle in 2014. The flamboyant monarch is regarded as one of the top three in the hierarchy of traditional rulers in northern Nigeria.
His ascension to the throne came after he was controversially suspended as central bank governor by former president Goodluck Jonathan $20bn that went missing earlier that year.
Two years ago, the Kano state parliament suspended a probe into Sanusi’s lavish spending and alleged misappropriation of council funds. The affairs and needs of the Emir and his council are funded by the emirate council, which has done the same for previous emirs for centuries now. The investigation was suspended after vice-president Yemi Osinbajo and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote – who is also from Kano – intervened.
The payments being looked into span the years 2013 to 2017, going back even before Sanusi became Emir. While he himself has not yet been questioned, four of his staff have been.
Legislators in the Kano state House of Assembly are also considering a bill to create more emirates in the state, which would reduce the Emir’s constituent territory.
Pot calling the kettle black
Ganduje’s feud with the Emir stems from the latter’s often sensational comments about Northern leaders. The outspoken Sanusi had criticised the governor’s many foreign trips and romance with Chinese contractors.
Interestingly, more than five videos showing Ganduje stuffing wads of dollar notes into the folds of his robe – alleged kickbacks for infrastructure contracts – surfaced in 2018 and almost marred his election during the March 2019 polls.
The former Central Bank governor is believed to have backed opposition candidate Abba Yusuf of the PDP in the elections, which analysts say were marred by violence and widespread intimidation of voters.
Yusuf is a political godson to Ganduje’s foe and former benefactor Rabiu Kwankwaso, the ex-governor who is still apparently on good terms with Sanusi.
Does Ganduje stand a chance?
It will be a hard task to dethrone the Emir. Should Ganduje and his band of killjoy lawmakers take the easier route of creating new emirates, they will successfully weaken his influence and leave him as a glorified district head, thus stripping away the powers of what is historically one of Africa’s most celebrated royal positions.
The royal father will have to fast steadily this Ramadan and pray for a déjà vu: to triumph like his predecessor Ado Bayero. In the 1980s, the then governor Abubakar Rimi, in a bid to settle scores with Bayero, created new emirati councils to whittle down the Emir’s powers. Rimi’s successor reversed the action a few years later.
Nigerian police accused of abusing prostitution suspects
ABUJA – Nigerian police are investigating allegations that officers sexually assaulted women arrested in nightclub raids during a crackdown on prostitution.
There has been widespread public outrage over last month’s raids in the capital Abuja.
Various women among the dozens arrested said they were not prostitutes but were detained randomly.
“They did all manner of things to us,” said one 27-year-old student, speaking on condition of anonymity among around 200 people during a protest march over the weekend.
The woman told Reuters she was groped, beaten and pepper-sprayed after being picked up in a club and held for three nights at the end of April. Other women said they were raped.
Long accused of widespread human rights abuses, the Nigeria Police Force said it was looking into the accusations.
“Investigations have commenced,” Usman Umar, deputy commissioner for Abuja police, said on Saturday, promising anyone found guilty would be “fished out” and punished.
At the protest, marchers carried messages such as “to be a woman is not a crime.”
Marcelle Umar, a member of Coalition to End Rape, said police were ignoring men involved in the prostitution business and targeting women indiscriminately.
“Women are walking on the street, wearing short skirts and they are tagged prostitutes for nothing,” she said, as protesters chanted behind her.
Similar to the global #MeToo movement, Nigerians have been using social media to highlight mistreatment of women, using the hashtags #SayHerNameNigeria and #AbujaPoliceRaidonWomen.
Obiano, Ambode are NACJ Integrity Governors of the Year
Nigerian Association of Christian Journalists (NACJ) has declared the Governor of Anambra State , Willy Obiano and his Lagos State counterpart, Akinwumi Ambode , as the Integrity Governors of the Year, for their Annual Integrity Lecture/Award holding later this month at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos.
Their nomination was predicated on their transparency and accountability in governance with high sense of integrity.
The annual event which is designed to discourage corruption, especially amongst leaders would have distinguished Senator Dino Melaye as the keynote speaker on the topic: Integrity: Essential Ingredient for Effective Legislation and Building a Virile Nation. Also, the famous journalist and ace broadcaster, Mr Patrick Oke will be on hand to speak on the theme: Integrity is Everything.
A statement from the Secretary General NACJ, Charles Okhai, said: “The focus of the annual event is on Integrity because integrity is the direct opposite of corruption and if our leaders are mentally integrity conscious, cases of corruption in our society will be drastically reduced.”
Other eminent Nigerians to be equally honoured include at the ceremony are Hon. Alex Egbon, Hon Nkem Abonta, Hon Chris Azubogu, Senator MAO Ohuabunwa, Engr Chinedu Orji Majority Leader Abia State House of Assembly, Hon Sunday Ibuot, and Hon Daniel Chimezie Okeke all in the parliamentary category.
Others in the religious category are Apostle Wole Aladuni, Prophet David Babalola, and Dr. Paul Obadare. The entertainment industry is not left out as popular DJ Jimmy Jatt and Charles Oputa, aka Charlie Boy will be honored as Young person of integrity and man of integrity award respectively.
In the Judiciary Category, Justice Morenike Obadina and Justice Sedoten Sosi Ogunsanya will be conferred Woman of integrity Award. His Royal Highness Sir Henry Micah and a few others are also on the roll call of honor at the event.
Several eminent personalities have been slated to grace the occasion in their support for the fight against corruption in our society.
Willie And Ebelechukwu Obiano, Like Minds In Development
BY COMR. IFEANYI OKECHUKWU
More feathers were added to the already congested caps of the first family of Anambra state, Chief Willie and Chief Dr Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano last week when the workers in Anambra state, under the aegis of Trade Union Congress, TUC, bestowed another award on the duo. The awards were jointly presented to them at the Dr Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka during the 2019 May Day celebration.
The workers, who spoke through the state chairman of TUC, Comrade Ifeanyi Okechukwu, said, quote; “Our labour-friendly governor has shown a lot of goodwill and favorable disposition towards the welfare of workers. Since the inception of his administration, salaries, pensions, gratuity and leave allowances are regularly paid as and when due. This has earned him the nickname, THE ALERT GOVERNOR, because workers receive the alert of their salaries on or before the end of every month. His Excellency’s kind dispensation and goodwill towards workers are equally manifested in his promise to be one of the first governors to implement the new minimum wage”. End of quote.
The TUC chairman acknowledged Governor Obiano’s concept that it is nice to take good care of human beings at the same time social amenities which the governor often say, “analu olu, ana alu mmadu. It is therefore for these reasons that the workers honoured the Obianos with the award.
No doubt, workers, globally, remain the engine room of every civilized society. They constitute about five to seven per cent of the population of every society. This infinitesimal percentage does not however, in any way dwarf their influential capabilities towards policy formulation and charting the modus operandi for societal development. This truism reflected in the United Nations resolve to set aside first May every year to celebrate workers globally
Happily, the multiple award-winning governor of Anambra, Chief Willie Obiano, soon after his inauguration on March 17, 2014, keyed into the vision of the United Nations by recognizing the imperative of a motivated workforce. This he proved by increasing workers’ salaries by fifteen percent in 2015. In addition, his administration formulated an unprecedented policy of ensuring that on or before the twenty-fifth of every month, workers smile to the banks to receive their salaries.
Furthermore, the governor has demonstrated in unmistakable terms that workers’ welfare is sine–qua-non to enhanced productivity by ensuring that every year their leave allowances are paid along their December salaries. Also, workers are given a bag of Anambra rice every December. This innovation, which has been running for five years, was made possible by the Obiano administration. No other state government in the federation has achieved this feat.
The governor has equally directed the civil service commission to commence the process of promotion in line with the civil service rules. In the area of transportation, the present administration procured mass transit buses to ply the Onitsha, Ekwulobia, Nnewi and Otuocha routes. The essence is to convey workers to work from their places of residence at highly subsidized rates.
To further demonstrate his penchant for motivation, the governor inaugurated a 10-man committee to study the issues concerning the welfare of workers in the state. The committee is headed by the state deputy governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke. Graciously, Akpokuedike announced, in the last May Day, that government had accepted in principle to implement the recommendations of the committee. What a worker friendly governor.
Fortunately, the same milk of human kindness equally flows in the blood of the governor’s wife, Chief Dr Ebelechukwu Obiano. There is no jewel in the world so valuable as a chaste and virtuous woman. Osodieme is clothed with strength and dignity and she touches the poor and the vulnerable without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise and she gives instructions with kindness.
Chief Dr. Ebelechukwu Obiano, Osodieme, is by all standards, the icon of our time. The assumption of office by her husband, Governor Willie Obiano, in 2014, thrust her forward for the role of first lady. She assumed the responsibility and within a very short-while, she acquitted herself creditably as an icon and beacon of hope, to the admiration of many, including widows, children, youths, women, the physically and mentally challenged and indeed the hoi poloi in the society.
Glory be to God that the first family of Anambra state, the Obianos have paid their dues in the governance of the state and every member of the different strata in the society are better for it. Her Caring Family Enhancement Initiative, CAFE, projects have brought solace to multitude-orphans, helpless ones, fatherless and the rest. Hence, he has won many awards, nationally and internationally.
For sure, it is well with Anambra state, the Light of the Nation.
The Duchess of Sussex gives birth to a baby boy
Meghan Markle has given birth to a baby boy, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.
MEGHAN, THE Duchess of Sussex has given birth to her first child with Prince Harry.
The Duchess gave birth to a baby boy on May 6 at 5.26am, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.
In a statement shared on the couple’s official Instagram page, it reads: “We are pleased to announce that Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed their firstborn child in the early morning on May 6th, 2019. Their Royal Highnesses’ son weighs 7lbs. 3oz.
“The Duchess and baby are both healthy and well, and the couple thank members of the public for their shared excitement and support during this very special time in their lives.
“More details will be shared in the forthcoming days.”
The baby is seventh-in-line to the throne and is the Queen’s eighth grandchild.
It is believed that the birth took place at the Sussex’s home in Frogmore cottage. It was confirmed that Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland is also at the cottage with the couple and their newborn.
The Duke, 34, and Duchess, 37, married nearly one year ago in a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle after dating for 16 months. They announced their pregnancy in October 2018 at the start of their first official royal tour in Australia.
At the time, Prince Harry said: “We couldn’t think of a better location to announce the upcoming baby…be it a boy or a girl.”
Prince Harry spoke to the press following the birth and has confirmed that the couple plan to make an appearance as a family in two days time to introduce their son to the world.
kidnappers paradise : In Nigeria, the rich also cry
Nigerians great and small are living through a kidnapping pandemic.
Two weeks ago, I took the train from Kaduna to Abuja for a reporting assignment. I turned up over an hour early at the Rigasa terminal after being warned that tickets could be completely sold out.
Still I had to join a very long queue that looked like child’s play when we got to Abuja, where ticket racketing and hoarding schemes have become the norm. Despite train tickets being almost double the price of interstate vehicles and both journeys being approximately the same time, no one wants to go by road.
The reason is simple.
The Kaduna-Abuja Expressway is one of the most dangerous in the country, thanks to kidnappers who now lurk in the bushes day or night.
Not even the wealthy in their chauffeured SUVS ensconced within security convoys want to travel by road.
To put it plainly, the entire Northwest region is currently the most unsafe place in the country outside northeast Nigeria where Boko Haram still routinely attacks.
The fear of being abducted is now the beginning of wisdom.
Outside the region, there has also been a resurgence of kidnapping elsewhere as criminal elements are emboldened by the exploits of their comrades in the North West.
According to the acting Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Adamu, at least 685 persons were kidnapped across the country in the first quarter of 2019 alone. This is in all likelihood, just a conservative estimate.
Consequently, millions of naira in ransom have been exchanged over the last few months, with each transaction further stimulating the kidnap-for-cash industry.
While the rich have been able to squeeze out monies needed to secure their release, the poor have kept faith in charms and ethnic militia who are gradually joining the bandits to make quick bucks.
To add salt to the injury, the government of Zamfara is officially recruiting over a thousand charmers to keep citizens safe. That an elected official deems it necessary to recruit shamans and spend taxpayers’ money borders on ridiculous if not insane.
So what is Nigeria doing keep its citizens safe?
President Muhammadu Buhari – currently overseas for a private trip – has proved exceedingly nonchalant about the situation.
Earlier this week, the district head of his hometown Daura in Katsina State and father-in-law to his aide-de-camp, was captured by unknown gunmen. Perhaps that will finally push him to act decisively seeing as few things change in Nigeria until a big man or his relative becomes a victim.
Little has changed since separate convoys of Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai and popular policeman Abba Kyari both dramatically charged into the bushes surrounding the road like cargo-cult Jack Bauers, claiming to be in pursuit of the criminals’ and their hideouts.
On some levels, the government is moving: but it still took injury to the powerful to drive action: “MTN was fined $2.2bn as Nigeria was unable to trace owners of SIM cards used by kidnappers of former finance minister Olu Falae, who was freed after his family paid a ransom”.
And beyond the noise, there are more questions than answers. For instance,
What are governors doing with the monthly millions (billions perhaps?) they get as security votes?
Why are the governors paying large sums as ransoms and amnesty to gangsters who then reinvest in newer, more sophisticated weaponry?
While the current constitutional structure does not permit for state and communal policing, how well equipped and regulated are the local vigilante and neighbourhood watch services they are setting up?
Is the federal government properly financing the intelligence unit so security outfits can share information in real-time?
It is imperative that a state of emergency be declared first on Zamfara and Katsina States ahead of a proper overhaul of Nigeria’s security apparatus.
The ineffectual security chiefs who like most of Mr. Buhari’s cabinet in his first tenure have been ornaments possessing neither shine nor lustre, need to go ahead of the president’s second (democratic) coming.
If Nigerians have to provide their own electricity, water, healthcare, transport and security on a year-to-year basis despite paying taxes in a country that parades itself as socialist, of what importance are the elected officials at every tier of government to them?
Would it not be better the country were divided into small lots, with each household having its own governor to administer to their wants and needs?
This article was written by Eromo Egbejule
Osodieme Lends Support to Anambra born Mayor of London Borough of Brent
By Emeka Ozumba
The wife of the governor of Anambra State, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme), Wednesday lent support to first Anambra born new Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi at an impressive Annual General Meeting and Mayor Making ceremony held at the Brent Council Centre, London.
The new Mayor of the London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi who until the investiture was the Deputy Mayor, is an illustrious son of Anambra State and the state government under governor Willie Obiano has a clear policy of supporting Anambra indigenes who through hardwork and dedicated service to community have brought honour and dignity to State in particular and Nigeria as a whole.
In view of the political weight of this development, the wife of the governor attended the London event to reassure the new Mayor that Ndi Anambra are with him in this moment of glory and high responsibility and expect him to do his best in the service of his mayoral district and humanity.
Speaking on the significance of the event, Osodieme said that we came to support our son who has made us proud by distinguishing himself and is being honoured with more responsibility by the people of Brent as their Mayor. According to Osodieme, “I am particularly happy because it is not every time that we get to hear bad story about our country. This is one good example and ndi Anambra and our governor are delighted and we have no doubt that he will continue to excel.”
In his reaction, a member of Anambra State delegation to the Mayor Making and Member Representing Ayamelum Constituency in Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Uche Okafor, eulogized Mayor Ezeajughi for showing good focus and competence while presiding over the Council meeting and commended the governor of Anambra State and his wife Osodieme for rallying round the new Mayor.
Earlier in his acceptance speech, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi expressed his appreciation at the honour done to him by various dignitaries who attended the event from across the world especially Nigeria. He singled out the wife of the governor of Anambra State and thanked her and her delegation for their support. He also pledged to work closely with her NGO, Caring Family Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) and others in his chosen cause for charity during his tenure.
Ezeajughi, a 1998 graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka is a native of Awgbu, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, was elected Councillor by the College of Councillors of Brent, London as a member of the Labour Party representing Stonebridge Ward at Brent Council in 2014, re-elected in 2018 and was until recently Deputy Mayor of Brent.
Other members of Anambra State delegation to the epoch Mayor Making event include; three members of the Legislators Wives Association (LEWA) led by Wife of Deputy Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Mrs. Sylvia Oseke, and wives Honorable members of Mrs. Lilian Ibuzo and Mrs Uche Enwezor.
Pix 1(L-R): Wife of the governor of Anambra State, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) and Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi after his Investiture.
Pix 2(L-R): Wife of the governor of Anambra State, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) and Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi (centre) flanked by Member Representing Ayamelum Constituency in Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Uche Okafor, and Wife of Deputy Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Mrs. Sylvia Oseke, and wives of Honorable members of Mrs. Lilian Ibuzo and Mrs Uche Enwezor after the Mayoral Investiture at Brent.
Pix 3(L-R): Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi and his wife the Mayoress.
Pix 4(L-R): Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi signing after investiture before the Brent Council Executive, Mrs Carolyn Downs and his predecessor,
Pix 5(L-R): Wife of the governor of Anambra State, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) and new Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi flanked by Anambra community in London after the Investiture.
Anxiety grips Ministers as cabinet reshuffle looms
The joyful disposition of Nigeria’s ministers as they arrived for Thursday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council belied anxiety over who would be retained in President Muhammadu Buhari’s next cabinet.
President Buhari had, last week, directed ministers to submit status reports on policies, programmes and projects on their ministries, departments and agencies to the Audit Committee in the Office of the Vice President, fueling speculations over imminent dissolution of the cabinet.
The deadline for the submission of the reports was Wednesday, the 24th of April, but the cabinet meeting was postponed to Thursday because of the Easter holiday.
The ministers arrived for Thursday’s meeting accompanied by their aides who had boxes and bags, probably containing the reports in compliance with the president’s directive.
Before the commencement of the meeting, which has Vice President Yemi Osinbajo presiding, the ministers were seen exchanging banters excitedly.
However, uncertainties still pervade how the new cabinet will look as President Buhari prepares for his second term in May.
Nigeria must tackle its doctor brain drain
Nigeria’s minister of labour, Chris Ngige, has caused a furore by denying that Nigeria has a medical brain-drain problem.
The minister, a trained medical doctor himself, said on national television that the country has a surplus of doctors:
“We have surplus. If you have surplus, you export… Who said we don’t have enough doctors? We have more than enough. You can quote me. There is nothing wrong in them travelling out. When they go abroad, they earn money and send them back home here. Yes, we have foreign exchange earnings from them and not just oil.”
According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, doctors cost an African country between $21,000 and $51,000 to train. Nigeria is one of nine countries who have lost more than $2bn since 2010 training doctors who then migrate.
Meanwhile countries like the UK benefit. With one in 10 doctors working in the UK coming from Africa, the country saves around $2.7bn by recruiting these doctors.
Ever-faster brain drain
And the Nigerian medical brain drain is accelerating. Prompted by a comment from former Commonwealth secretary-general Emeka Anyaoku, Africa Check revealed that the UK had 5,250 Nigerian-trained doctors on its books in April 2018, a rise of 10% on the previous year. That is an average of 12 doctors a week fleeing to the UK. A recent NOI poll showed that 88% of Nigerian doctors are considering working abroad.
Other countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa are also attracting Nigerian doctors in droves, with Saudi Arabia aggressively recruiting in the country.
Why the exodus?
With its status as the poverty capital of the world and home to an estimated 13.2 million out-of-school children according to UNICEF, Africa’s most populous country is battling to keep the attraction going for its citizens. In September 2017, its economy marginally exited its first recession in over two decades and experts warn that it could yet dip again.
- Nigerian state-employed doctors earn as little as N150,000 ($416) a month, with top salaries for consultants rising to N800,000 a month – still way below what they could earn in Western countries.
- Medical professionals are also frustrated at the lack of investment in the health sector, where a paucity of equipment and frequent strikes prevent them from doing their job to the best of their abilities. In 2019 only 3.6% of the annual budget of N8.8trn was allocated to health services.
No support from politicians
Contrary to what labour minister Ngige said, the country has not got a surplus of doctors – at least by global standards: the World Health Organisation recommends one doctor to 600 people. Health minister Isaac Adewole argues that at one doctor to 4088 people this is better than other African countries. He also made the facetious comment when questioned on the lack of residency placements for young doctors that “we can’t all be specialists… the man who sews my gown is a doctor. He makes the best gowns.”
- The data cannot be ignored, however, that Nigeria has one of the worst health records in Africa, including the second highest population with HIV and the largest number of deaths from malaria. Although its has significantly reduced its maternal mortality rate since 1990, Nigeria’s is lagging behind other nations.
- That Nigeria’s number one citizen, President Muhammadu Buhari, regularly jets to London for medical checks is a damning assessment on the state of the health sector. He too is unfazed by the brain drain: “Others who feel they have another country [to go to] may choose to go”, he said casually.
Bottom line: Only greater investment in health will reduce the brain drain of Nigerian doctors. This needs to start with an acknowledgement by the government that the brain drain is costing the country more than it benefits it in remittances.
Nigeria vows to capture killers of aid worker couple
Nigeria’s government vowed Tuesday to track down gunmen who stormed a luxury hotel and murdered two aid workers, a British woman and a Nigerian man, before abducting three other people.
“The security agencies will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to apprehend the killers and bring them to justice,” the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said.
Police were doing “everything possible” to secure the safe release of the three kidnap victims, he added. The hostages are understood to be staff at the hotel.
Gunmen burst into the Kajuru Castle resort late on Friday night, spraying bullets as people relaxed at the top-end hotel over the Easter weekend holiday.
The luxury resort, built on a hilltop and resembling a medieval fort, is in Kaduna state, some 230 kilometres (140 miles) north of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
Faye Mooney, a British aid worker employed by Mercy Corps, and Matthew Oguche, a Nigerian working for the International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO), were both shot dead.
The pair were reportedly inside the hotel when the gunmen opened fire, and fled the building at the sound of gunshots.
“They rushed out of the room in panic,” one local resident said. “As they descended down the open staircase, the gunmen took aim and shot them. This was why they were the only ones killed.”
Mooney had been based in Nigeria for nearly two years, working on a programme to help countering hate speech and violence. Oguche helped train aid workers on staying safe in dangerous areas.
-‘Brave and dedicated’ –
Both organisations paid tribute to the murdered pair. Mercy Corps called Mooney “dedicated and passionate”, and said her colleagues were “utterly heartbroken”.
INSO said that Oguche was “a kind, intelligent and outward looking young man with a passion for learning, and a deep commitment to helping others.”
The UN aid chief in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, mourned the “brave and dedicated aid workers” in a message of condolence.
“This horrific tragedy has left the entire humanitarian community in mourning,” Kallon said.
In Kaduna and the wider northwest region, kidnapping for ransom has become rampant.
Local residents claimed the kidnappers had made extortionate cash demands for the three hostages, but Kaduna state police spokesman Yakubu Sabo said he was “not aware” of ransom demands.
Kidnapping in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, has long been a security challenge, where wealthy locals and expatriate workers are often abducted.
Yet the problem has escalated in northern areas too, like Kaduna, where criminal gangs made up of former cattle rustlers have been pushed into kidnapping after military crackdowns on cattle theft.
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Five years after Boko Haram kidnap, 112 Nigerian girls still missing
Announcements, Arts & Books
Driving Job Creation for Africa’s Youth: Mentor to Watch.
Ada Osakwe, CEO of Agrolay Ventures
Ada is an award-winning food entrepreneur and investor. She was also a lead in the launch of the Youth Employment in Agriculture Program (YEAP) that supported the rise of a new cadre of food-entrepreneurs in Nigeria through training, mentorship and financing. Ada is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and a Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow.
In 2016, she was Entrepreneur of the Year and featured on Choiseul 100 Africa list consecutively from 2016 to 2018. She received the ‘Achiever in Agriculture’ Award and was on the 2014 Forbes 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa list. She is also a mentor on the Future Global Leaders Fellowship.
Uzodinma Iweala : CEO of The Africa Center in New York.
Uzodinma is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and medical doctor. He is the CEO of The Africa Center in New York, promoting a new narrative about Africa and its diaspora through a focus on culture, policy and business. He is the author of three books: Beasts of No Nation (2005), a novel also adapted into a major motion picture; Our Kind of People (2012), a non-fiction account of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria; and Speak No Evil (2018), a novel about coming-of-age in Washington, D.C. His books have been mentioned by Time Magazine, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Times and Rolling Stone. ‘Uzodinma Iweala completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University and he earned a medical degree at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.’
ENTER NIGERIA Winning Sunday with The Young Netpreneur for the Week :Ken Nwadiogbu @kennwadio
Ken Nwadiogbu (b. 1994) is a Nigerian born Multidisciplinary Artist, popularly known as KenArt, whose practice is primarily centered around hyper-realistic drawings and works on paper.
Nwadiogbu believes that the society speaks- This voice inspires his art, which evaluates, interrogates and challenges socio-political structures and issues within the society. In his reply to this society, he is able to inspire one or two people to also re-valuate their socio-political structures as we know it. The desire to change his society and the way people think is what drives him to create art every day. Gender equality, African cultures, and Black power are a few aspects of his current research and artistic practice.
Nwadiogbu was born in Lagos, Nigeria and holds a B.Sc in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. His art career started in the university, and with no formal training, has pushed him to become one of the most interesting young contemporary artists from Nigeria, creating works that question life- calling out some of the problems and becoming very grounded in human consciousness..
Nwadiogbu has been featured in lots of local and international group exhibitions and fairs, including the Insanity exhibition, sponsored by Frot Foundation, in Omenka Gallery, Nigeria; the TMC’s It’s Not Furniture, curated by Winifred Okpapi; the Artyrama’s group exhibition curated by Mr Jess Castellote; Art X Lagos, sponsored by Artyrama Gallery, in Lagos, Nigeria; the Moniker Art Fair, sponsored by Creative Debuts, in Brooklyn, NYC; the Anti-Trump show organised in UK; the Afriuture Exhibition by Ramati Art Africa in association with Commonwealth Africa Summit, in Toronto, Canada; amongst many others. He has been televised and publicized on different platforms like Guardian Life, Tush Magazine, WIRED Magazine, Candid Magazine, Bored Panda, BBC, CNN, and more as well as inspiring and encouraging young creatives through public speaking appearances like TEDx. He co-founded Artists Connect NG, the largest Nigerian artist gathering that took place at Lekki Leisure Lake, in Lagos, Nigeria.
To Nwadiogbu, Art is indeed timeless, it is his solace and hiding place, a safe haven he has found to be devoid of restrictions, boxes and boundaries.