Shun partisanship, work for the uplifting of Osun – Aregbesola

*Reiterates call for decentralization of police

The Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has urged all indigenes of the state to shun partisanship and work for the uplifting of the State to be a reference point among committee of states in the country.

The governor made this call while commissioning the newly renovated police officers’ mess and the presentation of Awards by the state police command on Sunday in Osogbo.

Aregbesola commended the State Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Kalafite Adeyemi for her courage to bring together members of various political parties for the award, stating that Kalafite has shown the essence of democracy in the presentation of her awards.

At the event with the Governor was the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Gani Olaoluwa.
The governor stated that a political set-up where people cannot freely express their minds can’t be referred to in anyway as democracy, adding that participants in democracy are free to express themselves without hinderance or brutality.

According to the governor, “the Commissioner of Police has shown that she is a professional to the core. This attribute clearly showed in her guest compilation of the recipient of awards today. Some other people will be so destabilised by the fact that there is a governor from a party that is opposed by another party who is equally in a democracy, has every right to be effective and functional in the state.

“Rather than shy away from what will happen considering the contribution of both the current party in government and the one out of power, she brought two of them together.”

The governor who did not hide his feelings about Kalafite’s professionalism and courage told the gathering that, “this may shock you, I have never had the opportunity of meeting the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This the first time I will ever meet him, we are all brothers and sisters in the quest to make our people great, our land honourable and our state an example of good governance.”

Speaking further, Aregbesola noted that the present structure of the Nigeria Police cannot guarantee effective policing, stating that if it’s impossible to have state police, the present structure of police in Nigeria must be decentralised.

The governor held that, “If it is impossible to have state police, we must decentralize the command structure of the police such that the zonal formation will have the total control of policemen and officers under their zone for effective policing.

“Although the best form of policing to me is that of America, where even county which is equivalent to our own local governments, schools, campuses and the likes have their own police.” The governor held

The most gullible people in the world

by Cosmas Odoemena

A Harvard study said the most gullible people in the world are the Filipinos. The study said, “The causes of this gullibility include the inability to question information and an over-reliance on interpersonal sources.” The study also said, “For Fillipinos, a tsunami warning from the government does less than a mother’s directive to avoid the sea because of syokoys (mermen).” According to the Mosquito Press that reported it, “The study involved content analyses of over 500,000 historical documents from 300 societies. The documents were then evaluated according to a quantitative metric called the Gump Index.” The study went on, “What’s curious about the Filipino condition is despite a respectable literacy rate, many of its people still believe that condoms cause cancer – or that Appolo Quiboloy, CEO of kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, Inc. is the son of God.”

The Harvard Institute of Socio-political Progression may have gone through a rigorous effort in arriving at the Filipinos, but the same can be said of Nigerians. Recently, a 62-year-old male patient was brought to us by his son who was not satisfied with the treatment he was getting in a ‘home’ in Cotonou in Benin Republic where the children had taken him for treatment because the man was “behaving abnormally.” What amazed us was that we were the ones who pointed to the injuries which we discovered on the man’s body. Apparently, the old man had been traumatised to ‘remove’ whatever was ailing him. And it took our pointing these out for the man’s relatives to realise this. The face, the body and even the genitals were all assaulted, for the dementia we found he has.

All too often, Nigerians fall easily to swindlers, especially money doublers. Usually, the customer brings a small amount of money say N10, which they hide under a scrap of cloth. The trick is for a few customers to win small amounts to convince those with big money to play. Those who win the small sums are smart when they take their winning and walk away. But the greedy will stay and stake a bigger sum. The customer is given the cloth with the money and warned not to open it for a given period of time. When the customer opens it, he finds no money but scraps of paper. And when he returns to complain, they lay the blame on him, he must have opened it before the given time. Even now, Nigerians will go for ‘wonder banks’ that promise unreasonable returns.

Aristotle said, “Youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope.” In Nigeria, the youths are lured easily by politicians for their own selfish purposes. And when the politicians have no need of them they discard them. Looking for work to do, and finding none, the youths become a menace to the society.

At no place than the church is the gullibility of Nigerians most manifest. Nigerians, believing that whatever the pastors tell them is divinely inspired, accept everything in ‘faith’. People have been flagellated to exorcise their purported demons. Men have allowed their pastors sleep with their wives believing that it would be the solution to the couple’s infertility. Nigerians, seeking for any means to get wealthy, go to witchdoctors who are poor themselves. Idolaters carve images and call them their god.

Nigerians have an unrivalled herd mentality. Suicide bombers have continued to bomb their own fellow Nigerians in the dubious belief that they are carrying out a divine injunction. And because of gullibility, there is no shortage of recruits. Without asking questions, without examining facts, Nigerians gang up to mob and burn fellow Nigerians alive; petty thieves, anybody whose voice cannot be heard allowed, with the Aluu Four the latest victims. It has happened many times where Nigerian men, women, children, or even a whole family follows the leader who has gone to vandalise oil pipelines or gone to scoop oil when it has burst, as if they are all in a trance, and getting roasted in the event.

Tribalism is not left out of the consequences of gullibility. Nigerian children grow up hating other tribes because their parents told them that those other tribes are their enemy. When the children grow up, they pass it on to their children and the cycle goes on. It is this deep-seated prejudice that has made Prof. Chinua Achebe’s new Civil War memoir, “There was a country”, an issue of truculence.

Perhaps, the most gullible among Nigerians is the government, particularly to organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and some other so-called international lenders. As of today, Nigeria’s debt profile is $44bn, and recently it signed a new deal to borrow $600m from China’s Export-Import Bank, supposedly to build a railway to service Abuja and its environs, a deal said to be in dispute. If our earnings from oil are judiciously used and leprous hands of corruption don’t touch them, we would not need to borrow money to finance any projects. Our creditors sold Structural Adjustment Programme to us, and we took it because anyone in debt is a slave to the one who lends.

Debt is a tool for manipulation by neoliberalists led by these institutions and other institutions known as the “Washington Consensus”. They sold to a gullible Nigerian government the idea of fuel subsidy withdrawal. They preach privatisation but are on hand to make sure local industries are not protected, and do not survive, so that they will have a leeway for their own exports. They are the ones who sold devaluation of currency and high interest rate to our government.

The line usually starts with “Fellow Nigerians…” and the yarn goes on. Only gullible people are taken in by “Shelter for all by the year 2000”; “Food for all by the year…”; “Health for all…” or that by 2020, Nigeria will rank among the 20 biggest economies in the world.

I am not done yet. Gullibility fosters corruption. That is why fuel subsidy thieves can manufacture any figures to get undue payments under the nose of gullible Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and government officials and still get away with it.

In Nigeria, many still ascribe the cause of stroke to an attack from the ‘enemies’ or from the gods. Such is the way of Nigerians that the very sight of two goats fighting can attract a crowd and keep them standing there and even cause a traffic hold-up, or even an accident. It is in Nigeria where a juju man has more credibility than a professor of science. It is in Nigeria we vote politicians in because they had no shoes growing up.

If we must develop as a nation, government, institutions, individuals should be critical and refrain from swallowing everything hook, line and sinker. As G.K. Chesterton, journalist, novelist, and essayist said, “Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out”.

– Dr. Odoemena, a medical practitioner, wrote in from Lagos via [email protected]

On the Side of the Little Angels – Rauf Aregbesola

Rauf's Little Angels

Providing care for children remains a significant part of government programme in Osun State, writes Adeola Akinremi

Osun State may have prided itself in culture, a state on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) diary of global cultural heritage, it is expected. But, there is something more. For its culture to be preserved, providing care for children becomes much more significant. And that has become a rallying point for Mr. Rauf Aregbesola‘s administration in the state in the last two years. “We are committed to giving the children and our pupils, the right support for their ages,” he says.
According to the National Demographic Survey, Osun State has the lowest maternal mortality in Nigeria.

Olanike Yussuf, a resident of Ikirun, whose children had died many times told THISDAY, “I have almost given up, when the current government came in, and the reform in the health sector has completely wiped off my tears. I lost three children to ailment and childbirth, but in the last two years I have been full of joy for this one. He was born naturally, healthy and growing rapidly. The medical officers at the hospitals are treating us like angels.”

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an estimated 19 000 children died every day in 2011, and 40% in the first month of life, most from preventable causes. The gains in child survival, although significant, are still insufficient to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4 of reducing the global under-five mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. Only six of the world’s 10 regions according to UNICEF are on track to reach the target. UNICEF said that some of the reduction was due to poorer countries getting richer. But some was also due to well-targeted aid such as encouraging breastfeeding or immunising against common diseases.

Across the planet, the five leading causes of deaths among children under five include pneumonia (18%); pre-term birth complications (14%); diarrhoea (11%); birth-related complications (9%) and malaria (7%).

But, the Osun State government is trying to change all that. By the end of last year, the state government had reduced the record of malaria from 500,000 in 2009 to about 200,000 in an intervention to safe both mother and child.

According to the Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr. Temitope Ilori, there has been a boost in the attendance of outpatients care in the state-owned hospitals.

“For expectant mothers coming for ante-natal care and delivery, a significant boost has been recorded all over the state,” she said. “In our data collection as well, some ailments like malaria are dropping. In 2009, we had over 500,000 reported cases of malaria, but by the end of 2011, it had dropped to less than 200,000 in the state. This reduction can be connected to the totality of governance in the state, especially the efforts of the governor in the fight against filth and dirt. Through environmental sanitation, the government has been able to take care of broken bottles, old tyres, waste containers that store stagnant water where mosquitoes, which are the carriers of malaria breed.”

“Besides, the dredging of waterways also helped tremendously. As a result of these efforts, Osun is the only state, especially in the Southwest that did not have any incident of flood last year, and we all know the health hazards that come with flood, but God spared us in this, just as it also helped in reducing malaria.

“Apart from this, we have distributed treated mosquito nets to pregnant women, the young and the aged in a bid to reduce the infection of malaria. Also on malaria, we have gone all over the state and selected three local governments where we can carry out a pilot study on what we call insecticide residual spraying, through which we spray walls, house corners, roofs, among others. The Commissioner said that several water-borne diseases like cholera, diarrheoa and dysentery have been curbed through the dredging of waterways by the state government. There has also been infrastructural upgrade in the state’s health sector. In the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Osogbo, the state capital, the Aregbesola administration has built a male hostel, while a library complex is in the process of completion.

Last year, the governor employed over 20 nurse tutors to boost the ones in the school. In the same year, 26 tutors were employed for the School of Health Technology to improve the teaching staff of the institution.

And to ensure that death on the highways are minimised. The government had commenced the street ambulance program. On the major highways, well-equipped ambulances at different points on the highway will soon be stationed to take care of emergencies. This, THISDAY gathered will be backed up by health workers, doctors and paramedics that were sourced from the OYES [the state youth empowerment scheme] cadets who have been further trained to be on ground to handle such emergencies.

Aregbesola reiterated his commitment to providing quality health care delivery to the people, while overhauling the entire health care delivery system of the state.

He stressed that the government had spent N220 million on the procurement of drugs for the free health programme.
“Several other steps have been taken to uplift our health care delivery system from the deplorable state in which we met it; these include the renovation of nine hospitals.

“Others are the purchase of additional 19 ambulances, procurement of medical equipment, furniture and electrical appliances.’’
In its two years, several of the biggest projects undertaken by Aregbesola’s administration to transform the state he says were aimed at building a good future for the children.

“We are talking about the future of Nigeria. It is these children that will sustain the any nation and if we refuse to care for them today, then we may be putting that future in jeaopardy.”

The state government is currently constructing scores of new schools across the state, including 100 elementary schools, 50 middle schools and 21 high schools. Pupils in primary one to four are being fed daily, while the tablets of knowledge, tagged opon-imo, would soon be made available for final year high schools students.

The administration also initiated a schools uniform project. The governor explains that several thousands of new jobs would be created, and about N3bn would go into the pockets of the ordinary citizens.

But for all these, the man who claimed he is on a rescue mission in Osun seems to know more is needed to take the State to an enviable height, so, he says, “We are not there yet, but we are well on the way.”

In recognition of his developmental strides and good governance in Osun, the NEPAD Business Group, Nigeria (NBGN) has honoured the governor with an award of Excellence and Good Governance.

According to Mr. Goodie Ibru, the Chairman of NBGN, ten governors were chosen after a rigorous screening exercise undertaken by a six man group of experts gathering and analysing information about the activities of the governors in their respective state.

The group considered the performance of the governors in the context of poverty reduction programmes and policies, infrastructural renewal and development, youth empowerment projects, health development programmes, sustainable environmental projects and policies and lastly public/private partnership initiative.

In arriving at its judgment ratified by the NBGN Board, Mr. Ibru says, ‘the group was never unmindful that the awardees still have a lot of work at hand in spite of the realities and peculiarities of their respective states’.

NBGN Award of Excellence and Good Governance was instituted to appreciate and motivate the governors so that they can further deliver democracy dividends and consequently achieve the elusive Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

Culled From THIS DAY NEWSPAPER

BREAKING NEWS: Barack Obama wins election for second term as president!

BARACK OBAMA WINS

President Barack Obama handily defeated Gov. Mitt Romney and won himself a second term Tuesday after a bitter and historically expensive race that was primarily fought in just a handful of battleground states. Networks project that Obama beat Romney after nabbing the crucial state of Ohio.

The Romney campaign’s last-ditch attempt to put blue-leaning Midwestern swing states in play failed as Obama’s Midwestern firewall sent the president back to the White House for four more years. Obama picked up the swing states of New Hampshire, Michigan, New Mexico, Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Ohio. Florida and Virginia are still too close to call, but even if he won them, they would not give Romney enough Electoral College votes to put him over the top. The popular vote will most likely be much narrower than the president’s Electoral College victory.

The Obama victory marks an end to a years-long campaign that saw historic advertisement spending levels, countless rallies and speeches, and three much-watched debates.

The Romney campaign cast the election as a referendum on Obama’s economic policies, frequently comparing him to former President Jimmy Carter and asking voters the Reagan-esque question of whether they are better off than they were four years ago. But the Obama campaign pushed back on the referendum framing, blanketing key states such as Ohio early on with ads painting him as a multimillionaire more concerned with profits than people. The Obama campaign also aggressively attacked Romney on reproductive rights issues, tying Romney to a handful of Republican candidates who made controversial comments about rape and abortion.

These ads were one reason Romney faced a steep likeability problem for most of the race, until his expert performance at the first presidential debate in Denver in October. After that debate, and a near universal panning of Obama’s performance, Romney caught up with Obama in national polls, and almost closed his favoribility gap with the president. In polls, voters consistently gave him an edge over Obama on who would handle the economy better and create more jobs, even as they rated Obama higher on caring about the middle class.

But the president’s Midwestern firewall–and the campaign’s impressive grassroots operation–carried him through. Ohio tends to vote a bit more Republican than the nation as a whole, but Obama was able to stave off that trend and hold an edge there over Romney, perhaps due to the president’s support of the auto bailout three years ago. Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan all but moved to Ohio in the last weeks of the campaign, trying and ultimately failing to erase Obama’s lead there.

A shrinking electoral battleground this year meant that only 14 states were really seen as in play, and both candidates spent most of their time and money there. Though national polls showed the two candidates in a dead heat, Obama consistently held a lead in the states that mattered. That, and his campaign’s much-touted get out the vote efforts and overall ground game, may be what pushed Obama over the finish line.

Now, Obama heads back to office facing what will most likely be bitterly partisan negotiations over whether the Bush tax cuts should expire. The House will still be majority Republican, with Democrats maintaining their majority in the Senate.

The loss may provoke some soul searching in the Republican Party. This election was seen as a prime opportunity to unseat Obama, as polls showed Americans were unhappy with a sluggish economy, sky-high unemployment, and a health care reform bill that remained widely unpopular. Romney took hardline positions on immigration, federal spending, and taxes during the long Republican primary when he faced multiple challenges from the right. He later shifted to the center in tone on many of those issues, but it’s possible the primary painted him into a too-conservative corner to appeal to moderates during the general election. The candidate also at times seemed unable to effectively counter Democratic attacks on his business experience and personal wealth.

By Liz Goodwin, Yahoo! News

Culled from YAHOO NEWS

Oyinlola: Lest we forget

A Leopard can not change its spots. And so it was that Mr. Olagunsoye Oyinlola couldn’t but replicate precisely what he did in Lagos State as a military administrator in Osun where he served as a supposedly elected governor.

In Lagos the citizens gave him the nickname Mr. No Bitumen following his familiar refrain that there was no bitumen to fix the roads. He left the roads worse than he met them. How about the security situation? The people of Lagos expected that a military ruler would scare the living daylights out of the armed robbers who were having a field day in the state. It was not to be under Oyinlola. Again the security architecture crumbled in the era of the soldier.

These had a ripple effect. Society suffered generally: education was in ruins; roads couldn’t plied; health centers recorded more deaths than recovery; industries folded up; morale dropped among civil servants; unemployment was on the rise and finally poverty enveloped Lagos.

Nearly ten years after, Oyinlola found his way as the elected governor of the state. But a leopard cannot change its spots even over a million-year time lag. Oyinlola proved the validity of that old saying. He established his formidable trade mark in Osun in grand style.

For close to eight years the retired soldier warred against all that were the good deeds of his predecessor Chief Bisi Akande. Oyinlola was the opposite of the mythological Mides, who turned everything he touched into gold. All what the ex-military man touched became base. A commentator who observed his reign made this prescient forecast “at the expiration of Oyinlola’s tenure, the situation in the state (Osun) cannot but be worse than how he left Lagos. It will surely be a disastrous case of bad roads, collapsed education, moribund health sector, lack of portable water, inefficient transportation system, rotten civil service, stagnated economy, worsened case of unemployment, and abject poverty amongst other negative developments. Meaning that by the time Oyinlola will be leaving office he will go in history as the worst governor that has ever ruled that state since its inception.

How prophetic! Within months of that prediction, a court sacked Oyinlola from office when it discovered that he had been occupying it illegally through a fraudulent electoral process. With his removal and the coming in of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola the new adjudged winner of the poll, the rot that characterized the Oyinlola era began to seep through to the public domain.

We’ve not seen it all but it suffices to declare that the prediction hit the bull’s eye on the observation that Oyinlola “will go down in history as the worst governor that has ever ruled that state since it inception.

Determined to right the wrongs of the past and set the record straight, Aregbesola instituted a six-man Commission of inquiry to look into the circumstances surrounding the N18.38b taken by the ousted administration of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. Aregbesola said: “in view of excruciating loan of N18.38billion taken by the previous government and major financial transactions and contract awarded from May 2003 to November 2010, there is need to probe the activities of the immediate past government.”

Observers are noting two developments about this gesture of the Aregbesola. First, they can see from the disclosures so far that truly Oyinlola made a mess of the state. Money running into billions of money was paid to cronies for jobs which they didn’t execute. A former ambassador failed to supply hundreds of tricycles on behalf on government for which he collected huge funds. Similarly the project of the Osun liaison office in Abuja suffered from the corruption stigma of the Oyinlola government as its cost jumped from N1.3b to a whopping N2b. the second observation is that the Odekunle Commission has shown the fair-mindedness nature of the Aregbesola government in contradiction to the harsh and anti-people era of the Oyinlola administration. Oyinlola himself has been allowed to testify at the Commission. He testified freely before the panel and came with a lorry load of rabble rousers. He even paid ten million naira to African Independent Television to air his appearance live.

Yet time was during his administration when he emasculated all opposition, used the judiciary to hound adversaries into jail while his henchmen dispatched several of ACN supporters to their early graves. It is an irony that he who denied the citizens the enjoyment of such critical dividends of democracy as freedom and security in his days is enjoying the same under the government he supplanted for more than seven years.

What is happening in Osun State is a total delivery of the dividend of democracy as wasn’t witnessed under the previous administration. Both those who denied the people these and those in government now who were barred from those goodies have been captured under the canopy of the new fresh breath of freedom and security in the state of Osun.

It is a marked difference, whose fruit will be seen and enjoyed in the years ahead by all the citizens. Just as history has recorded the evil deeds during the rule of Oyinlola, history will also note the progressive rule of Aregbesola. It will note that he has refrained from adopting the tactics of hounding down members of the opposition. Rather as a democrat he set up a public inquiry where everyone could exercise his inalienable right to freedom of speech. The final word: if 67 years after the end of World War 11, the sword of justice is still hounding the perpetrators of crime against humanity during the conflict, it is certain that the likes of Oyinlola who committed atrocities against the people of Osun State while in power will also have a date with history!

• Written By Leke Adegbite who is a retired teacher in Osogbo

Culled from DAILY INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER

The Sun Interview: Me? Islamize Osun? Forget it – Gov Aregbesola

Governor Rauf Aregbesola

In a couple of weeks, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State would clock two years in office, marking the mid-term of his four-year mandate. And what interesting time it has been, with the governor always under the spotlight of controversies. If he’s not being accused of attempting to secede from the federation, then it is that he has an Islamisation agenda. Or he wants to create a republic within a republic, thus dubbing his territory, “The State of Osun”, with its own flag, emblem and anthem.

Does he truly have an Islamization agenda, Sunday Sun asked the governor during an interview in his office in Osogbo. His response: “If my brother, from the same uterus as me, is a Christian, and my sister, from the same uterus as me, is also a Christian, and I have not been able to retain them as Muslims, how then can I Islamize a whole state?”

He abhors being addressed as ‘His Excellency.’ He equally forbids the display of his official portrait in government offices, all these pedestalling him as a most unusual person. But the governor explains the rationale behind the actions and decisions, as he did in this interview with FEMI ADESINA and TOPE ADEBOBOYE.

By November you will be two years in office. How will you reflect on these first two years as governor of Osun?

It has been inspiring. Because if I say it’s been challenging, it won’t capture it. Governance, to those who see it as a call to duty, can be very stimulating. And for me, it’s just a continuum. I’ve come to see my existence as part of a process of supporting the cause of human actualisation of self to conquer nature, to overcome obstacles. So, from that tendency, opportunities like this could only further imbue one to see how best one can go. The period spent so far is a period of assertion, exerting myself to the duties that I’ve seen myself in long before now.

We have impacted on the lives of the people and on the environment. I told the world that we’ll concentrate on food production, through land preparation, through mass mobilisation of both existing farmers and new farmers, and introduction of new techniques, improved seedlings and easy access to other important inputs that would make farming extremely profitable and attractive. That, to a large extent, we have done. Nobody is any more in doubt as to the commitment of the government and people of Osun to turn here into a food basket. And that is at the production end.

We have equally engaged the Nigeria Railway Corporation. As a matter of fact, we woke up the Nigeria Railway Corporation with our ambition of turning here into a hub of commerce in agricultural commodity, essentially, by our novel idea of transporting to Lagos free of charge, commodities, from wherever they are sourced. On reaching Osogbo, whoever brings in any agricultural commodity will not pay a dime to get those commodities to the Lagos market.

Before now, we had told the world that Lagos is our focus for agricultural commodities distribution. And it is not just a superficial choice. Before I assumed office, we had used our opportunities in Lagos to verify what is the financial value of the commodity food exchange market in Lagos. And mindful that there is N3.5 billion on a daily basis, we realised that whoever wants to make any gain in agriculture, particularly food commodity, must target Lagos. For that reason, we put in place a mechanism, in conjunction with the Nigeria Railway Corporation, to move food commodity free of charge from Osogbo to Lagos. Occasionally, to encourage NRC, we run a free passenger tariff from Lagos to Osogbo and Osogbo to Lagos, but those are during the festival seasons. But part of our agricultural programme is this free freight for food commodity. It’s not catching on with the people as much as we would want, but it’s there. It’s the first of its kind in this part of the world. I’m not even sure there’s any part of the world where government subsidises, I mean, openly provides free freight for agricultural commodities. That, we do as part of our massive food production programme.

There is a state programme directed at mobilising all sectors in government and outside government in this area. It’s called O’REAP – Osun Rural Enterprise and Agriculture Programme. We give land to whoever wants to farm, we prepare the land partly, we open up the land that we would have cleared of all stumps and trees and other things that might require any capital expenditure. That is in agriculture, and it is ongoing.

In education, we have not done badly at all. We have changed the structure of learning here. We have three structures of basic education. Rather than employing the existing primary, junior secondary and senior secondary format, we now have elementary, middle and high school. The 6-3-3-4 broad education system of the federal government is not affected at all. But we have tinkered with the physical infrastructure and arrangement of the pupils even in the 6-3-3-4 system. How? We realised that naturally, pupils at stages of development, have different desires. That is number one. Two, we are committed to giving the children, our pupils, the right support for their ages. To that extent, we have broken basic education into three clear, distinct structures. We have the elementary school, we have the middle school and we have the high school. The elementary school caters for children from age six to nine, that is grade one to four. And they are going to be neighbourhood schools, neighbourhood to where their mothers are during the day. If you are in the market most of the time, the neighbourhood school will be near you in the market. If you are at home most of the time, the neighbourhood school will be near the home. But they will be schools that will not require the pupils to move beyond 100 to 500 metres to wherever their mothers are. And they are limited to that age bracket because we realised that is the age in which full mental development will aid learning.

Considering the general poverty condition prevalent among our people, we have decided to support parents by feeding these pupils with nutritious meals. So, to do that without creating both psychological and physical trauma to their seniors should they be in the same school, we have separated the schools for that category of students from those in primary five and junior secondary schools. So, all students in our elementary schools will have access to good meals that will help develop them mentally and physically for learning. They will have good lunch.

What’s the budget for the lunch?

About N3billion. The uniforms too, which we are providing, are about the same cost. We are kitting all our children. We are almost concluding it. I hardly want to talk about it because it’s still not fully formed, but we are very close to concluding it. We are almost at the end of preparation.

We realised that information technology will be the tool of life in another decade. In the next 10 years, hardly will anyone survive without information technology. We know that already, the situation in the world everywhere is almost making it a routine. Hardly can anyone, no matter how uninformed, live without the use of things that are ICT-related. Now, even if you don’t know anything about digital technology, people are using handsets. Hardly is there any person that cannot use telephone handsets now. If they cannot dial themselves, somebody can dial and give to them.

But beyond that glaring reality is the fact that education would be more attractive, will be easy to acquire, and will not be cumbersome if we can present it through the available digital devices. So we are working on the use of computer tablets which we call opon imo (tablets of knowledge), that our high school students, the 150, 000 of them and their teachers will be provided by the grace of God. We have done the laboratory test, we will soon do the pilot. It has not been done, there is nowhere in the world where anything like it has been done. There would be dedicated books, lesson notes, examination papers programmed. Everything they need to know about their curriculum will be made available to them. I pray we succeed with it. It will be a unique tool for learning.

What is stimulating and unique about it is that as we are developing the software and negotiating with the hardware supplier, we are equally planning on how the tablets can be assembled here.

Of course, our first three, four months was to powerfully reposition our state in the eyes of the world and in the minds of our people. We went about a vigorous rebranding programme that sought to give us the image and character that we feel is our own. We told the world that we are virtuous people (omoluabi), epitome of character, valour, pride and history. We put up a flag for the whole world to see. The flag isn’t just any flag; it’s a flag that is meaningful. And there are totems. We have our emblems and we have our anthem. To casual observers, these might be simple things. But if you visit our schools, if you listen to the ordinary citizens and see the enthusiasm with which they render the anthem, the joy that they exude each time the anthem is rendered, and the attestation in their relationships, clearly show that something is happening.

Closely linked to that is the first-of-its-type mass youth employment and empowerment programme. When we announced it during the campaign, nobody gave it any chance of success. We said we would employ 20, 000 youths within 100 days, but everybody thought it was a gimmick. But to the glory of God, we really did it within the specified period. We engaged 20, 000 youths. The end result is simply fantastic. But to me, the real challenge, and what has been very remarkable, is the logistics of getting it to that end. People who just looked at it as just 20, 000, how did we get the 20, 000? How many people applied? How did we select 20, 000 without using any sentiments of relationships, of partisanship? How did we do it? This to me is the greatest achievement of the empowerment programme, apart from that programme itself. The success we made of the extremely herculean task of fairly picking 20,000 out of 250,000 applicants which in itself tells you of the enormity of the crisis Nigeria faces on youth unemployment. One is therefore very much shocked at the crass ignorance of the naysayers who, rather than look at the impact of that scheme on the pool of listless youths that for years – we are not talking of people with just one year unemployment experience; there are people with 10 years history of unemployment, pining away, wasting away, doing nothing, a fraction of whom we took, refined – because it’s not just engagement and kitting; they were given the best in orientation, in leadership, discipline and conscientisation. We didn’t just put them and say go and work, no. At a cost, we invited the best in psychology, leadership and community mobilisation to give these youths the required orientation that would make them useful. Otherwise, they won’t be as productive as they are even in those things we give them to do.

And we did not hide what would be their engagements from them before they even applied. We advertised in the papers. We said, “These are the things you would be asked to do. You would be engaged in social, community public works”. When ignoramuses now condemn the scheme, I laugh. A scheme that the World Bank commended. Even some advanced economies are copying our model, because that would be the first time a government would tie up social welfare scheme with community service. That again cannot be just overlooked.

In security, we have done what no administration here had ever done. We have not eliminated crime, but we have considerably checked the incidence of crime to a large extent through the provision of facilities, equipment and tools for the management of crime. The height of it will be a very rapid response gadget that we are working on. We are working on a facility that can cover the state within 30 minutes during any distress or attacks from hoodlums.

We are embarking on massive road construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation and maintenance that have never been the case in the history of the state. It is massive. There is no town, no community in which not one road work or the other is not ongoing right now. And more will still come. Healthcare is being pursued vigorously. We are doing urban renewal too, and urban renewal has a road component.

We have set up committees to develop a complete town upgrade and renewal programme for nine of our ancient towns. These are Osogbo, Ikirun, Ila-Orangun, Ede, Ejigbo, Iwo, Ikire, Ile-Ife and Ilesa. This is different from the urban road works. The target of this is to clean up and upgrade the one-kilometre radius of the town centre in each of those nine ancient, historic towns and make them a world-class zone. These are what I could readily recall of our efforts in the last 22 months.

What’s your feedback mechanism like? Are you getting returns from the people, and are they happy?

For the people, one should just give glory to God. I’m happy with the sustained support of the people. It’s definitely not possible for any government to sustain the level of popularity with which it was received at inception. I don’t know how many of Awolowo’s books you have read. In his biography he would tell you that a time was when six months after he assumed office, people were booing him on the streets of Ibadan. But does that mean that Awolowo is not a legend? For anything to be enduring, ultimately popular and beneficial, people must naturally resist such things. You did not happily go to school. You must have cried when you were being taken to school. So it is not possible for one to sustain the level of enthusiasm that ushered us in, but without exaggerating, I can tell you that the people here are still very much with us in terms of support, enthusiasm, acceptance of our programmes and policies and our commitment to them. To me, I’m satisfied with the level of support I get from the people.

How do you get funding for all these programmes considering that Osun is not a rich state?

This question is very important. I don’t know why some people are deliberately mischievous. You can’t even call them cynics again. A cynic does not believe in you and does not want people to believe in you as well. But those who go beyond that to even lie about what is not, to me, are mischievous. Knowing that these programmes are essential programmes for the transformation of our state to be economically viable, buoyant and therefore self reliant, because that’s the ultimate goal, the schemes we are putting in place, the initiatives we are introducing are a necessity. Poverty is not a thing of pride; it’s not a thing of joy. Every human being, society, political space and region must work on overcoming poverty. So it’s not a pride to keep on saying you are a civil service state. To escape that, you must develop strategy that will overcome that unacceptable condition. It is towards that, that everything we are doing is geared. When you mobilise the people to be more productive than they were, you are preparing them for prosperity. That’s what the agricultural initiative is all about. You are improving production as well as introducing market. It’s for money. If they are prosperous, they will support the government. We are turning here into a hub of commerce with our rail transportation programme. By improving the condition of basic education, we are developing the leadership of tomorrow that will have the knowledge, skill and education that will further move production up and further increase prosperity. So, even the security that you are providing, will give confidence to those you want to come here, either for leisure or for work, that they are safe, that their lives are not threatened. So, all that I’ve mentioned are focused on developing virile economy that will guarantee prosperity.

To do that, we must seek for ways through which we could fund the process that by itself and on its own pay back the investment we are making. The simple right word is sustainability. That’s what they call sustainable development. We are, therefore, working on a sustainable growth and development process that will transform Osun and situate it at a level far, far beyond what it is now. We are dissatisfied with our position in Nigeria’s political space, economically and socially. We believe we must rank among the first 10 in Nigeria. And that is our goal. To achieve that, we have introduced what is called a flexible financial system for the execution of our programmes.

Our projects are being funded in a way that would not hurt our budget. And we are going for a combination of capital market funding. We are the first government in Nigeria that would go for sukuk. This is the Islamic funds from the capital market as well as the conventional funding from the capital market. We are mixing them. We are using sukuk, that is, free interest investment fund from the capital market to fund education. In education, it’s very difficult to get returns. It’s social. We are using the main conventional funds from the capital market to fund roads and agriculture. So that is the combination of an ingenious creative financial method as well as access to capital market where we are combining Islamic sukuk capital investment with conventional capital market investment.

What’s the inflow like from the federal allocation and IGR, and what’s the outflow monthly?

Well, we are doing a balancing act that is peculiar to us. There is no way I can give you an accurate description of the balancing act we are doing, but it will surprise you that as tough as it is, I’ve put in place a sovereign fund deposit where every month, a percentage of our income, particularly from the federation account, must go into a sinking fund for the future. It is for the unborn generation, and we will not touch it.

Yet, I’m using that inflow to fund all my projects as well as meet my statutory obligations to staff and general running of the government. I receive between N3.6 and N4 billion every month, and I’ve been able to raise my IGR from N200 million to N600 million every month. But I’m quite hopeful that my efforts on the IGR would still yield result that will far improve on what I have now. And I pay all out except what I have to save in the sinking fund. So nothing is left. But I still have untouched, all my excess crude oil allocation. Because that is not regular, rather than dip hands into it, I am simply saving it. At the last count, I have close to N10 billion there and it is the totality of all this that I leverage on to do my projects. So you just have to understand my mindset. My mindset is using everything I have to prosecute development and growth. You cannot therefore simply get me on your line of questioning, like, what do you spend? I spend everything, except what I have used the law to prevent me from spending: my own sinking fund for the future. Then I save everything I get that is not routine. Allocation is routine. But everything outside allocation is saved and I use it to leverage capital development.

But as you do all this, you have also cut the picture of a very controversial person.

Really? I don’t know about that. Tell me how.

Well, people would say that you said you’re now State of Osun, and not Osun State, some said you came up with an anthem and an emblem that made it appear as if you want to secede from the federation. Lot of controversies.

What you want to say is that we are charting courses that had never been charted. Is that controversy? No. That is not controversy. The unfortunate thing here is that we have been badly screwed or mesmerized by the military particularly, that we no longer even know the fundamentals in our system. If I tell you that we have even forgotten that we are a republic, you would be shocked. But to make us not lose the sense of what we are – Nigeria’s name is not just Nigeria. Nigeria is Federal Republic of Nigeria. Over the years of the repression by the military, even the highly educated ones among us have lost the import and significance of that name, “Federal”. And not federal alone; Federal Republic of Nigeria. If that name has any meaning at all, then some things must change. You call the government in Abuja, Government of the Federation. But it’s not the government of the federation; it is a federal government. The Secretary to the Federal Government is not the Secretary to the Federation. There is no secretary to the federation. There is nothing so called. He’s secretary to the federal government. Several things like that, that we just take for granted. No! The danger is that if the generation that witnessed independence should go with this misinformation, we are doomed. So it is in your interest and in my interest for us to put these things in proper perspective so that we don’t lose it all.

This is the only republic where people call themselves prince and you all aid it. In a republic? The meaning of a republic is equality of every person under the law, regardless of who you are, that there is no privilege on the basis of birth or any position. That’s a republic. And yet we have all accepted the misrepresentation and misunderstanding of that word. I ask people all the time: what’s the name of Nigeria? Nigeria is Federal Republic of Nigeria while the name of the government of Nigeria is Federal Government of Nigeria. Why is it not Nigeria Federal Republic? Why is it not Nigeria Federal Government? If it is not Nigeria federal government, and it’s not right to say Nigeria Federal Republic, why is it right to say Osun State government? Pause and think. If it is right to say Nigeria federal government, if it is right to say Nigeria federal republic, of course it is right to say Osun State government. That is my first position on that.

The second is this: we have a constitution and the constitution is clear on this. So I want you to fault me based on this. The constitution says that the names of the states are Abia, to Zamfara. The constitution did not put any qualification, any prefix or suffix of any nature. So, at best, Osun is Osun. As long as I put Osun, I’ve not violated the constitution. If I say State of Omoluabi, oh, I’m in big trouble. If I say O’ Sun, I will be in trouble. To the extent that I’ve not changed the name of Osun, then we should be hailed for deepening our understanding of the federalism that is the form of government that our founding fathers chose for us. I didn’t choose federalism.

That is not all, sir. If you controvert that, let us go to Section 3 of the constitution. I read: There shall be thirty-six states. Let me now show you something that will shock you. In Section 176, something interesting happened. It tells us how to call the state. There shall be a House of Assembly for each state of the federation. So what we should have in Osun is the House of Assembly of Osun. It’s the constitution. Look at it right here. How does the constitution describe the governor of a state? You’ll wonder why we allowed ourselves to be fooled all along.

According to the constitution, I’m to be called Governor of Osun. This is it here. Are you getting my point? We should have the High Court of Osun, not Osun State High Court. And I’m quoting the constitution here. So I’m not controversial. I’m simply trying to live by the instrument on which I swore an oath of allegiance.

Let’s even go to Nigeria’s name. So, what I’ve told you is there. Let’s now go to international convention. All over the world where you have states as the structure of government outside the federal government, how they call their state is State of…. Let’s start from Australia. You must have heard of the State of Tasmania. From India, move to Malaysia. It is State of… India has 28 states, and their constitution says State of…. Germany has 16 states, and they are all States of… In America, they are called California, New York, Wyoming, Ohio, Florida, and so on. These are the nations that I can recall. With the exception of India where some two states refused to follow the constitutional prescription – I know of Gujarat and Goa – all the other states are States of…

I’ve used the name of Nigeria to tell you that what we’re doing is what is appropriate. I’ve taken you to international convention. Finally, in Yoruba, we say, Ipinle Osun, not Osun Ipinle. How do you call Ipinle Osun in English? It’s State of Osun. So where did I go wrong? That we have not adverted our minds to all of this, does it now prevent somebody from calling our attention to it?

Nobody cared about “His Excellency” before now and I’ve come to say that, for goodness sake, don’t address me as His Excellency or Your Excellency. My religion even forbids me from sharing the same title with God. Besides the fact that the constitution has not asked anybody to so do, there is nothing here that says you must call anybody His Excellency. It’s a carry-over of the military mentality. Now, if you don’t call somebody His Excellency, he will not even answer you. If you don’t put Executive Governor, some people will even take umbrage. Where is Executive Governor in this constitution? What does the constitution call the governor? The governor. So these are things we have just adopted without foundation. Even the pictures of governors and the president that we hang around, where is it in this constitution? What should be displayed are the symbols of the state, the accepted images of the state – symbols, crest, coat of arms. We have done a very wrong mixture of monarchy and republic. It’s not done where we copied it. You don’t call the American president His Excellency. You say Mr. President. Do they even remember academic titles of public office holders in America? No! Gordon Brown has a Ph.D, but throughout the time he was British Prime Minister, no one even realised he had a Ph.D. Condoleezza Rice is a professor. Throughout her period as Secretary of State in the United States, there was no mention of that. Where did we get this atrocious, bogus attitude of wanting to just sound off? If somebody says, ‘look, these are not my needs’, what is controversial there? Why are we all interested in pursuing unedifying models? Why are we not interested in doing things that will inspire our citizens and promote patriotism, nationalism and zealous commitment to our people, our environment and the future of the generation? If these could therefore mean undue interest in controversy, well, I have no apology to make to anybody. But I believe that these are things that should not only be advocated by one person, but by all those who are genuinely committed to the progress of our people and the development of our race.

But even those at the highest level of government in the country are not comfortable with this. It got to a point that there was a security report, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) even took you up on this. How do you react to all this?

The SFG never took me up, because he’s Secretary to the Federal Government, actually. As for the security report, the agency your paper claimed issued the report denied it. I went to the agency, and they said they didn’t write any such report. If there was that denial, and I still react to it the way you want me to, the problem is with me then. Because everything speculated in that report was false. How could my effort to brighten my state by giving students here, rich or poor, attractive uniforms, be interpreted to mean Islamisation? I told the world that I did not attempt, not to talk of failing or succeeding, to Islamize my nuclear family. My father was a polygamist, rightly so, as a Muslim. My own uterus sister from my mother is a Christian. My uterus brother, also from my mother, is a Christian. How could you therefore say that of a man who failed woefully to keep people born as Muslims and given Islamic names but today, are serious Christians? If I have not succeeded in retaining them as Muslims, where is the power to make those who are not even related to me Muslims? If I have failed completely, not even to Islamise, but to retain my siblings as Muslims, they are still my siblings and they are still very close to me, where then is the ability to attempt to Islamise a whole state? I mean, it’s all bunkum. I have no pact with any group.

Beyond that, in history, I will go down as the only governor that has promoted all religions here, officially. Officially from the day I assumed office here, the Muslims pray, the Christians pray, and traditional religion people too pray. It was not without a protest from those who had had a preference before now. It was not just an happenstance; that has been the order now. I think the paper you got was the paper prepared by the opposition here, mischievously in the name of the agency you referred to, and it was used liberally. Well, that agency denied the authorship.

As for the Secretary to the Federal Government (SFG), the president is the president of the federation, and we must be clear on it. We all appointed the president; he’s the president of the federation but the other man is the secretary to the federal government. I don’t want to be drawn into this because he has not written me personally, and I would therefore not want to react openly on what I’ve not received from him personally. So, I take it that what was reported, as coming from him was his personal opinion, in exercise of his freedom to comment on national issues. All I know is that we are on safe grounds, constitutionally, on what we are doing. It’s unfortunate that it’s attracting this sort of attention. We didn’t intend to attract attention. We simply want to deepen the knowledge of federalism, understanding of the Nigerian Constitution, roles of all the tiers of government in a federation. Beyond that, we have no other interest. We are not irreverent, we are not rebellious, we are not seeking attention. We are simply, calmly pursuing the cause of our people in the best way we can for their interest, for their progress, for their development and for their greatness.

Are those raising these issues doing it out of ignorance, or is it a conscious attempt at mischief?

In any democracy, everyone has the right to believe what he wants. Honestly, I don’t believe there is any animosity on official relationship. We are getting on well. You must therefore concede the right of individuals to their personal opinions and their expressions. What is important is for the media and the public to know what is right. If you do, then there is no problem. It is only when you too have the wrong notion that we are wrong and they are right. So, the purveyor of information must respect that sacred ethic of journalism which says that facts are sacred, comments are free. Once you live by that, you too will know why you must be by the truth, by that which is factual. Then where you tend to, because of long years of misconception, assume that that misconception is true, there is a problem. In life, knowledge is dynamic, it can’t be static. If you recall, a time was when the popular knowledge was that the earth was flat. And when empirical evidence came that the earth was round, all the initial effort to kill people based on that notion fizzled out. We must equally give allowance for the dynamism in life and knowledge to accept the reality of new knowledge when it comes to us. We had never bothered about all of this before now, but the fact of the case is that the fulcrum on which our political system is based is unambiguous. For as long as that is, we must not spare any effort to support what is factual. That is what I have not found in the public discourse on this matter. In fact the thinking in most quarters is that we are the ones that are wrong, they are the ones that are right, whereas the reality is to the contrary. Perhaps what you are worried about is that we have not had the support that we should have from the media in particular on this matter. The media is not sure whether this is true. But please, don’t back me. Let us go to the constitution. We all swore to uphold the constitution. There is nobody in public office that did not swear to uphold the constitution.

As we speak, Mr Governor, about 30 states have been taken over by flood. In Osun, is there any cause for alarm?

Before flood became an issue of national interest, we had taken it upon ourselves to combat that prospect and it’s been an annual commitment that, well, may there not be an extraordinary occurrence, flood here is thoroughly eliminated. Why? The year preceding my office, there was a terrible flood here, and at that time, there was no national calamity. It was carried in the papers, on television and on the radio. Lives were lost and properties weredestroyed. The Capital city was seriously affected. So as soon as I assumed office, I engaged all waterways, canals in massive dredging. As a matter of fact, no government has ever attempted to do such. We cleaned up all arteries, all waterways, all canals and possible outlets for storm water control.

When the rain came last year, people just saw rain, and storm water just flowing, without disturbing anybody. Even those who were living in flood-prone areas and water-ways just saw water passing by them. It was amazing. Thereis a joke here. There is one stream called Okoko in Osogbo. The joke is that Okoko would soon become a lagoon. Our intervention has reduced Okoko into a mere stream. We have not relented.

Mr Governor, Please what’s the issue of about 48,000 mud houses being demolished? Wouldn’t that be too ambitious a project.

There is a difference between elimination of dangerous buildings that can affect lives and urban renewal. This phenomenon of rickety , distressed ,dangerously dilapidated houses that pose serious threat to lives is not limited to this state. As a matter of fact, it’s a manifestation of the abnormal poverty that is prevalent in our country and for which the federal government has failed to take a decisive action.

Culled from SUNDAY SUN NEWSPAPER

WTA Ranking Fluke: Serena, The Undisputed Tennis Queen of the Year 2012

serena williams

By Emma, Los Angeles, California

The WTA rankings are a joke and need to be fixed! Serena is easily the undisputed best player (i.e. #1 player) in the world and here’s why:

The WTA used to award “quality of opponent” points when a player beat player ranked higher than themselves; however, they eliminated it and now weigh quantity of wins over quality. As a result, players end up chasing points to maintain their ranking even if it means racking up meaningless win against lower ranked players to do so (perfect example – Victoria Azarenka played a tier 3 tournament right before the WTA championship just to pad her ranking and to keep Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova from having a mathematical chance to pass her in the rankings). Azarenka’s plan worked in regards to ensuring her the #1 ranking but it ultimately back-fired because she lost to both Serena and Maria in straight sets.

Let’s compare the 2012 record of the top 3 players so you can see how screwed up the rankings are:

Serena – winner of 2 grand slams (wimbledon, us open) & olympic gold
Serena’s 2012 record – 55 wins & 4 losses
Serena is 5 – 0 against Azarenka in 2012
Serena is 2 – 0 against sharapova in 2012
Serena has won 17 matches in a row against Top 5 players (last loss came in june 2011)

Sharapova – Winner of 1 grand slam (French)
Sharapova’s 2012 record – 57 wins & 10 losses
2012 head to head with serena – 2 losses / 0 wins
Lifetime head to head with serena – 9 losses / 2 wins (last win was 8 years ago in 2004)

Azarenka – Winner of 1 grand slam (Australia)
Azarenka’s 2012 record – 67 wins & 9 losses
2012 head to head with serena – 5 losses / 0 wins
Lifetime head to head with serena – 11 losses / 1 win (last win was 3 years ago in 2009)

So as you can see, Azarenka is only ranked #1 because the WTA policy of rewarding quantity (67 wins) over quality.

It is pretty ridiculous to non tennis fans that Serena has beatdown all the top players all year but is only ranked #3

Of course, ultimately it doesn’t matter because Serena will continue to make a mockery out of the WTA rankings, especially if she wins the 2012 wta championships also on tomorrow Sunday 29th October 2012 in Turkey.

By the way, Serena 55 wins & 4 losses is comparable to her 2002 record of 56 wins & 5 losses when she won the serena slam – PRETTY AMAZING THAT SHE IS COMPLETELY DOMINATING AGAIN LIKE SHE DID 10 YEARS AGO!!

Katy Perry ballot dress concert voting Barack Obama

Obamakaty

As we’ve already established, Barack Obama has a lot of celebrities on his side in this election—both to do their patriotic duty in voting, as well as to inspire the youth to “Rock the Vote” or whatever the hot new slogan is. Never was that clearer than when he attended the “America Forward” Grassroots Event in Las Vegas last night. One of the headliners was Katy Perry, who couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to let us know exactly what’s on her mind by displaying it in her bizarre fashion.

Yes, the woman who commemorated the Royal Wedding with a manicure sported a skintight ballot dress at last night’s concert. And in case that wasn’t enough of a political message for you, she’s already filled in her vote. For Obama and Joe Biden, natch. None of that Mitt Romney bullshit here, no sirree. Well, she was never one for subtlety anyway. Frankly, I’m surprised she didn’t play off the always-relevant hanging chad joke and flash a little skin to the assembled concertgoers.

To get everyone in the right mood, Katy kicked off her set with a cover of Al Green‘s “Let’s Stay Together” — though we prefer the President’s version — as well as her own anthems, “Teenage Dream” and “Firework.” Later Obama addressed the crowd, saying, “I believe in you. I need you to keep believing in me.”

To back him up, here’s Katy doing her best Uncle Sam impression

Read more: http://crushable.com/entertainment/katy-perry-ballot-dress-concert-barack-obama-democrat-voting-936/#ixzz2AW4u1SDd

How Presidency Pronounced Gov. Danbaba Suntai Dead, Misleading Nigerians

Reno Omokri

A misleading tweet by an official of the Nigerian Presidency helped fueled nationwide speculation Thursday that Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba died in a plane crash.

Anxiety had mounted over the fate of the occupants of the ill-fated plane after the story broke that six passengers and crew, including Mr. Suntai, were aboard the small jetliner which crashed Thursday evening close to the NNPC depot in Yola.

But rather than help defuse the tension over the crash, which came less than five months after a Lagos-bound Dana-operated aircraft from Abuja crashed into a two-storey building in Lagos, killing all 153 passengers, and 10 others on the ground, the presidency added to the confusion, pronouncing the governor dead without getting confirmation from officials on ground in Yola, the Adamawa State capital.

“May the soul of the late departed Governor, Danbaba Suntai, of Taraba State rest in peace and may God grant the state peace this trying time,” the Special Assistant to the President on New Media, Reno Omokri, said via his twitter handle, @renoomokri.

But after this newspaper reported claims by witnesses and Taraba State officials that the governor survived the crash and was in hospital, Mr. Omokri hurriedly deleted his misleading tweet. When we checked his twitter handle at 9.25 p.m., the tweet was no longer there.

He did not offer any apology or explanation.

Mr. Omokri had in the past used his handle to convey presidential statements and information to Nigerians, and many were quick to believe the information he circulated.

“Once I saw Reno condoling Taraba and the family of the governor, every doubt I had about the purported death of the governor evaporated,” a state House correspondent told PREMIUM TIMES this morning. “It is unfortunate that the presidency misled the nation once again.

The Federal Ministry of Aviation later issued a statement saying the Taraba State Governor, Danbaba Suntai, and the other five passengers aboard the crashed plane are alive.

This is the second time the presidency would mislead the nation in less than a month. In his Independence Day anniversary speech, President Goodluck Jonathan had lied that global corruption watchdog, Transparency International, had endorsed and praised his administration’s war against corruption.

“In its latest report, Transparency International (TI) noted that Nigeria is the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption,” the President said with glee.

But after this newspaper exposed the lies contained in the president’s broadcast after doing a thorough fact check and interviewing officials of TI, Mr. Omokri took to social media deriding our medium and labeling it an opposition platform.

President Jonathan and his officials are yet to apologise for the misinformation and the global embarrassment many believe the false claim brought upon Nigeria.

No presidency official has also been punished over the matter.

The Special Adviser on Media to the President, Reuben Abati, could not be reached to comment for this story. Calls to his telephones were neither answered nor returned.

Culled from NAIJ

5 Reasons President Obama Will Be Re-Elected


How good are Mitt Romney’s recent poll numbers? Republicans even believe them—for now.

Mitt Romney has definitely received an unprecedented boost from the first debate that has erased the boost the president received from the Democratic National Convention and the release of Mitt Romney’s ‘47 percent’ tape.

But the fundamentals of this race have not changed. Mitt Romney is still Romney. The Republican Party is still the Republican Party. And President Obama is still President Obama.

Both campaigns said this race was going to be close and the media has been hoping that would be true. In addition to huge spending from Super PACs and outside groups, Republicans have undertaken a huge effort to stop Democrats from voting in key states. The courts have mostly blocked these efforts, but voters may have been intimidated. We won’t know until Election Day.

What’s clear is that President Obama will probably still be re-elected. Here’s why.

1. Mitt Romney Is Still Unpopular

Romney just hit a record high in his favorable ratings at 47 percent. But 51 percent still view him unfavorably, putting him “underwater.” The only other presidential candidates who were underwater—Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush and John Kerry—all lost.

2. Mitt Romney’s Policies Are Still Unpopular

Mitt Romney supports extending the Bush tax breaks for the rich and turning Medicare into a voucher plan. He says he wants to cut taxes for the middle class but experts say his plan can’t do that without exploding the deficit. And his Medicare plan will cost all Americans more for the Medicare seniors currently receive. If you’re 65, it will cost you $11,100 more than current Medicare. A 48-year-old will pay $124,600, and a 29 year-old will pay $331,200.

3. President Obama Still Has The Advantage

Mitt Romney’s debate bump seems to have quickly met the President’s jobs bump. While his chances of being elected have skyrocketed recently, Mitt is still the underdog and will have to overcome the big fundraising and field advantage the President’s team put together over the last few months.

4. Romney Now Has Massive Debate Expectations

Going into the first debate, President Obama was expected by a large majority of voters to wipe the floor with Mitt Romney. The situation has completely flipped. President Obama now knows the Mitt Romney he is facing and so do voters. Much of what Romney said in the first debate has been debunked, and the president—who hasn’t been in a “debate” situation since he was elected four years ago—will have a chance, in the second and third debates, to give the performance voters were expecting. And that one of the debates is a town hall where actual voters ask questions requires Romney to really shine in a situation he has not before.

5. The President Is Popular And The Economy Is Improving

As Mitt Romney hits “record” popularity, the president’s favorability at 55 percent is higher than it has been in two years. Additionally unemployment is under eight percent for the first time since he took office. The housing market is improving and consumer confidence is up. All in all, America is outperforming most of the world. The economy isn’t nearly perfect for the president, but we’re in a much better situation than most expected us to be.

Culled from National Memo