Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige is one of the leading figures in the All Progressives Congress (APC) within the South-east zone and one who had once taken the party to electoral victory in a senatorial contest. Ngige tells Onyebuchi Ezigbo of the strategies and calculations to be deployed by his party to overrun opponents in the general election.
In 2015 President Buhari secured less than 200,000 votes in the South-east and of recent leaders from that region who are members of APC have often boosted that in 2019 it would be different that the president will score a good number of votes, where does that confidence come from considering that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Vice President candidate is from that region?
True the PDP has a Vice Presidential candidate from my zone and I can tell you that it won’t be easy for them. Politics and winning of election is all about calculation and strategic positioning and measured steps towards a direction. Two things are happening; in 2015 election there was no voting in most of the South-east and South-south states. Votes were allocated, the card reader hadn’t become functional it was just new and it can be tampered with and at the end of the day most votes were allocated. So Muhammadu Buhari was allocated 18,000 votes in the entire Anambra state; is it possible? When my local government alone, Idemili South had 80,000 registered voters, Idemili North had 200,000 registered voters you are talking about 280,000 votes. Even if they want to allocate they can’t do it now because they are not in charge of police and army like that time. They took police, army, navy everything and armour tanks and drove us away, in fact they put a price on my head when I was going to the collation centre. I got a call they said I shouldn’t go because the situation has been taken over from the centre but I refused I wanted to go because I am not afraid of death. So my boys insisted and I said they can go so they started chasing them about. It was my boys chasing them around that resulted in the writing of only 600,000 votes for Jonathan against the 1.2 million votes promised that they would bring. This time it won’t happen they will go and cast votes and whatever is cast is what we will announce. We are not interested in rigging or chasing people about with armour tank. Secondly, the Vice President of the PDP is former Governor Peter Obi my successor in Anambra state. I can tell you that those who are shouting that Obi is this and that are the elites who are looking for one thing or the other and people who don’t believe that Muhammadu Buhari has done something good in their lives because he is already building infrastructure for them. They want money.
They want all the monies that have been trapped by the TSA to be pushed down again on the table for them to start taking. That one is no longer possible. Peter Obi hasn’t been a wonderful governor as people expected him to be because I am the one to tell you because I know what I handed over to him. He is making noise that he handed money over to Governor Obiano. I was the first to leave money. I left N3.8 billion cash in the bank and I am not counting the bank shares we bought and dividend but because of propaganda they shouted that the left eighty something billion naira for Obiano and I left a lot of infrastructural work done, federal roads of which he received close to N15 billion as refund after my tenure. I was the first person to handover schools to the missionaries in Anambra state. I built more 880KM of roads. If you go there today you will see the roads I built 15 years ago they are still standing and most of them have no single potholes because I used first class contractors. So for people to say because he chose Obi ‘this will happen’. Nothing will happen. If anything, Peter Obi has no influence in South-east apart from Anambra. Even in Anambra Central Senatorial district we are going to battle him in there. Presently, I can tell you that in Anambra state Obi and I will struggle for the votes. We are not going to be pushed down like we were the last time.
What do you make of the recent endorsement from the leadership of Ohanaeze for the PDP Presidential candidate?
Ohanaeze is a socio cultural organisation. In a bid to please their masters they went overboard. First and foremost they went overboard to do an endorsement in November 2018 and when the strategy committee of Ohanaeze confronted them in the executive they denied. They said they endorsed them just like every other person whereas the clips showed that they were in that meeting in Nike Lake Resort Hotel. I am telling you we found it difficult to still conceal what they were doing so just two weeks ago they put this meeting on a date that Mr. President was visiting Anambra state. I personally spoke to the Ohanaeze President General who is my personal friend of many years and I said to him we have a guest so he should do us that favour of moving this meeting so that we can all attend, so that the governors of the South-east will also be involved; the governor of Anambra and Enugu who will welcome Mr. President to their domain because the President was to commission CBN Centre of Excellence build in Nsukka. These were functions created for that day and he said no that he couldn’t do so because this meeting had been long fixed and I said no the president of the nation fixed an appointment in our place. So finally he said we can move the hours. He said no he can only move it to 4pm so I spoke to Ebonyi state governor who is the chairman of governor’s forum and I said look at the problem we have with the current Ohanaeze maybe you can intervene because you are supposed to be part of this meeting. I had already contacted the governor of Anambra state so he said he will take it up with him which he did. In fact I personally invited him and said it is your function, you should be there and the Governor of Anambra also told me he invited him. The Governor of Ebonyi called me and said I should tell my colleagues that we would be accommodated that the meeting will be for 7pm because he had spoken with him. By 6pm, the President departed at Enugu airport and we started heading to the meeting which we arrived around 6:30 pm and we were told that the meeting was concluded by 20 minutes past 5pm and that they have endorsed the candidate of the PDP. Two things are clear; Ohanaeze is a socio cultural organisation not known for endorsement of any candidate. What you are supposed to be doing is to get the candidates and give them your demands not going to endorse because it is clear in our constitution that we are not allying with any political party and some people have tried it before unfortunately they got their fingers burnt. With all due respect, Professor Nwabueze in 1999 without clearance from Ohanaeze general assembly endorsed Olu Falae against Obasanjo. Olu Falae was flying the flag of APP/AD alliance and Obasanjo won the election and they held it against the Igbos and claimed that it was late Chief Alex Ekwueme that secretly told Nwabueze to go and endorse Falae. Little did they know that it caused a lot of bitterness between Alex Ekwueme and his friend Nwabueze. Nwabueze is a strong willed man so he did that by his own judgment thinking he was doing the Igbos good and Obasanjo antagonised Alex Ekwueme and all of us who are members of Ohanaeze and all of us who he felt were close to Chief Alex Ekwueme and that was how he took some mafias from South-east and made them his friends. At another time, they went and endorsed in 2003 and the same thing happened. In 2015 the immediate predecessor of Nwodo and the Secretary General, my good friend went and endorsed President Jonathan and said he is Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, that he is their brother and they failed because President Buhari beat Jonathan in the 2015 election. The claim of marginalisation because of that endorsement and even the award and allocation of votes that followed there after some APC members used it against all of us in the APC. They said there was no vote from us that the election was won without input from the South-east. That gave rise to the famous five percent; those who gave me five percent and those who gave me 95 percent being peddled against Mr. President. In any case we are all human beings if someone looks you in the face and says ‘I will not vote for you’ and you eventually win the election and he didn’t vote for you and you saw he didn’t vote for you even though it is a secret ballot buy you also saw that there was allocation tell me would you be very happy? I am not trying to justify anything. All I am saying is that we can’t be adopting candidates. We can see the second Niger Bridge. He has committed N3 billion. No other government has done it. He put it in the national budget and put it as a flagship project in Nigeria and we are funding it. Unlike the previous governments that said it should done on PPP basis for foreigners to invest and collect money this president said I am building direct. Okonji Ewela when they came into the senate caucus of the South East in 2011 when we became senators the first meeting they came and told us that it is an PPP that they are doing on second Niger Bridge and investors are coming and I told them that they should clear away with that kind of proposal. We did a bridge to connect FCT which cost N80 billion. It was funded from the federal budget and at the time they came the Niger Bridge was estimated at N110 billion and Madam Okonji Ewela and my friend Pius were saying that it would be built on contractor PPP and I said no and that was what happened. Today this man is building second Niger Bridge. He is building Enugu to Okigwe to Umuahia to Aba to Port Harcourt which was abandoned in the last 16 years. He is building Enugu, Oji River, Awka to Onitsha also abandoned during PDP regime so I have no apologies to say that this man is doing well. A lot of us, the South-east governors don’t believe in what they have done. Governor Obiano has voiced his discernment. I have worked in Ohanaeze, I was Secretary in Ohanaeze strategy committee, I was deputy chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo as President of Aka Ikenga. I brought Aka Ikenga from Lagos and we organised a forum for South-east delegates under Abacha regime to go to the constituent assembly. We did it with our own resources.
No one will talk to me about Ohanaeze or Igbo politics. I have paid my dues. I was president of Aka Ikenga for six years. All these people that are parading themselves can’t talk to me about Ohanaeze or Igbo politics and no one can tell me that he loves Igbos than me. The Igbos of Anambra know that I love them more than any of these people that are parading themselves up and down. I put my life on the line for the people of Anambra state so that they would have good things and I am also ready to put it on the line again for the Igbo nation so that they can secure their future in the nation and the only way they can secure their freedom is for them to follow a man who has shown signs that he loves everybody, that he is working for everybody. People say that Obi is Vice President what is Vice President? The shortest route for the president of Igbo extraction is for them to vote for APC and in 2023 by the rotation principle even if it is not entrenched in our constitution but has become a norm and convention now the presidency will come back to the South and when it comes back to the South on moral grounds it will be the turn of the people of the South-east. We must struggle for it and it starts now. We must show our party that we can deliver. We must show our party that if we are given the ticket in South-east, we can do something with it.
This issue of 2023 presidency is one of major plank of APC campaign in the South East. The party has not decided on it. Don’t you think that you are building castle in the air when indeed there is no such decision within the party?
Decisions of this nature are not taken four years away from when it will happen. ‘The come comes to become the men would be separated from the boys’. So when 2023 comes, the party will speak. The gladiators who are interested will come out and it will be the turn of the South if Muhammadu Buhari does another term. He even said it in the South-west rally in Ekiti that he isn’t seeking for third term because some people have tried it and failed but he has only a second term so we should support him to go for a second term. After his second term, the different zones in the South will come out and lay claims and make their point so there is no question of building castle in the air, we are being realistic. It is those that are saying the Vice President in PDP is a step away from presidency that are building castle in the air and not us in APC. When the time comes for the shuffle or the push, we will do it
Why did it take so long to resolve the issues with ASUU?
In 2017, ASSU went on strike. They had at that time about 12 points which we tried to address, we addressed them. Some of the issues are the ones in court now which is about pension reform which they floated for university workers. They made that demand in collaboration with other people operating universities ; Non Academic Staff Union, (NASU); National Association of Technologist (NAT) so that was one thing that unified all for a common demand. So government told them what to do, set the process in motion for them and they started. Midway they felt there was a lot of money and they were required to make some deposit and they paid some deposit and but later found out that they didn’t have an office which was locked which you can call the headquarters of the organisation, They didn’t have personnel so we summoned PENCOM and they got that together. It was there in 2017 negotiations, it is also there now but we resolved it finally because there has been an issue with an operating licence. Again there was the issue of end allowances both for NASU, NAT and SANU and of course with ASUU which is called ‘End Academic Allowance’ which are all part of a generic allowance therefore last time we paid them N31 billion. This time around that they have been computed collectively to know the aggregate amount because at that time in 2017 they were paid N30 billion by the Jonathan-led administration and this government came and said it will be verified by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA). So PICA was looking at that and we discovered that it wasn’t necessary for PICA to do that because PICA was more of looking at allowances and salaries. So we felt that a consultant should be engaged by the former minister to audit the usage of the N30 billion before the new one can be released which was an agreement that was done. So we gave the auditors and they worked on it and found out that government was in arrears of that money from 2013 to 2016. So we owed them N105 billion which were allowances earned from extra teaching, extra work in laboratories, and allowances earned by those who ordinarily will do what we call overtime so government saved and paid it.
In 2017, we released N31billion to them. On that N31billion they were asked to bring a template for the sharing between the various workers in the various universities and that was just concluded early this year. The money is being paid to them which came in two tranches of N23 billion and N8 billion making N31 billion. That was the agreement which spilled over to 2018. One month ago, the last tranche of N8 billion was paid to the various unions because they had problems in carrying out the template for the payment. Then there was the issue of revitalisation of the universities. Again we gave then N20 billion as a sign of good faith that the agreement they reached with President Jonathan in 2009 that we believe in it notwithstanding the fact that we had a negotiating committee which was supposed to get alternative source of funding for the revitalisation of the universities. Take note that President Jonathan’s administration paid them N200 billion in 2013 after four years and they had programmed that they would be paying N220 billion every year for six years and that was what was in the agreement and that came to N1.3 trillion. Therefore when they could not pay in 2013, the administration went into TETFUND money and took N200 billion and paid the universities which was just like recycling. We don’t want to do that, we are looking at alternative source of funding so we gave them this money and said it is an act of good faith. The summit for the alternative source for funding completed its work and reported to the president where they listed and categorised alternative source of funding for university education because come to look at it; everybody knows education is an expensive business and that is why even in the best of climes like the United States of America students have to pay, they have to go for loans, even in Nigeria there was a time that students were paying from loans. So these were the things that government thought about, saying let’s look for an alternative source of funding. Today, you now know that there is an education tax and that tax goes to TETFUND and another education tax goes to UBEC. So that raised its head again and we appealed that the workshop had to finish but the president isn’t yet decided on the sources of funding. However, N25 billion was dedicated to universities for them to go on until government makes its final decision. There are other issues like human calculations that resulted in shortfall in salaries of people and immediately it was brought to our notice Finance Ministry intervened, the Accountant General’s office made up the payment for the shortfall. About N15.4 billion was released for the university system alone and they confirmed that they had received the money starting from about one month ago. The last was Tafa Balewa University that got their money last week. Therefore, all those issues were almost done with, however, I must tell you that ASUU saw a different kind of negotiation with me. I believe in being bitterly frank, straight forward and saying things as they are. Whatever they cannot get I tell them. For example one of their requests was that the University Panel renegotiating the 2009 agreement should be disbanded and we said no. I even referred them to the various statutes and conventions that no partner in a negotiation between an employer and an employee can dictate who would be in your team to come for the negotiation. So we can’t tell labour people that we don’t like the face of Mr. A and Mr. B and in the same way they can’t when a panel has been set up to negotiate something, you turn back and say you suspect that Mr. Babalakin because he had appealed for a university license for a private university so therefore he shouldn’t lead the negotiation party on government side.
They consulted their constituency and came back two, three times and finally they saw reason and we agreed because everything that has a beginning, has an end. That panel should be commencing work on the February 18th and they are to finish their work by March 28 and turn in their report which is six weeks to conclude their work. Other issues they raised include visitation panel because they wanted the rot in the university system cleared which we also felt the same way. This is an anti-corruption government. In fact they were aiding us in what we wanted to do so we had no problem in putting up Visitation Panels. They also talked about state universities being inferior in terms of funding and infrastructure. We then set up a Standing Committee comprising of ASUU members, NASU members, other unions in the university and on the government side, Pro- chancellors of universities as members. It is a seven man panel and they are supposed to be the Standing Committee that meets with the governors under the auspices of Governor’s Forum and also commissioners for education on things they want rectified. About eight issues were handled during this period and I can tell you that we had to do what we had to do so that they can get back to schools and our children can go back. A lot of people registered in university campuses to vote in the election and if these universities are closed then these students won’t be able to vote.
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.