Trending Now and Going Viral: Nigeria Oil Minister Dezeani’s Kids Live in Opulence As Nigerians wallow in penury of Oil Subsidy removal

CULLED FROM HUHUONLINE
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Delibrate media leaks of photographs of opulent lifestyle of Nigeria’s Petrol minister’s childeren in the USA is being circulated by social networks and occupy Nigeria activists portraying their lifestyle to that of poor Nigerians affected by her recent withdrawal of oil subsidy… Read more from HUHUONLINE

“Removal Of Fuel Subsidy Is A Huge Joke” – Reuben Abati

Just three years ago, Dr. Reuben Abati, now Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, was so incensed by the “joke” called removal of fuel subsidy that he evinced the possibility of jungle justice for proponents of the idea in the corridors of power. He was the chairman of the editorial board of The Guardian newspapers back then. Today, he has changed his mind. A man has the right to change his mind. But the people too have the right to remember; to remember where, when, and how the rain of betrayal and treachery began to beat them…

THIS IS ABATI’S ARTICLE:

It must be a joke, right? The proposed plan by the Federal Government to fully deregulate the downstream sector and remove the remaining subsidy on petroleum products. When the news first broke during the week, Nigerians were told that a committee had been set up to be led by the Governor of Bauchi State, Isa Yuguda, with a mandate to work out an action-plan and a time-table for implementation and consult with stakeholders.

The mischief and dishonesty are obvious: why set up a committee to seek the input of stakeholders when a final decision has already been taken? By yesterday, The Saturday Punch newspaper had reported that a pump price of N73 per litre may be announced within a week. The assignment of the Yuguda committee had been completed even before it had a chance to sit. A Petroleum Industry Bill, and another bill seeking to change the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) template have also been sent to the National Assembly. Why not wait for the bills to be considered by the National Assembly?

The so-called complete deregulation of the downstream sector and the removal of subsidy may seem like a purely economic policy decision, but it is so tied to larger Nigerian questions that it ought to be more rigorously debated, and government should make haste slowly. As at this moment, Nigeria operates a partial deregulation regime in the downstream sector. Petrol and kerosene prices are regulated while diesel is fully deregulated. The regime is corruption-ridden, it is badly managed. There is no indication that a complete deregulation regime will be better managed. The problem is not one of form, but leadership.

The arguments being advanced to justify the proposed full deregulation do not make sense. All the arguments have a ring of deja vu. They are taken from the same textbooks that the economists have refused to update, the same ideas that led to the collapse of the global economy. Other countries are making a U-turn and subjecting textbook knowledge to the test of reality, Nigerian policy makers are still holding on to old paradigms. One of these days, we shall start stoning the economists in official corridors.

They tell us that in a fully deregulated downstream sector foreign investors, who have been suspicious of the Nigerian market, will be encouraged by a better pricing regime determined solely and fully by market forces. Marketers in the downstream sector will also be happier as the margins of profit will increase. The Federal Government under the new dispensation wants to privatise the country’s four refineries, and it is convinced that investors will jump at the opportunity. To please us, they say as investors make more money, pump prices will reduce and the scope of price differentials will widen, enabling choice. But what is more important, the profit motive of investors and marketers or the interests of the Nigerian people?

Deregulation will not automatically guarantee the happiness of marketers and investors. Who wants to buy Nigeria’s run-down refineries, with their obsolete technology anyway? And if anyone does, the profit that they seek will be automatically abbreviated by other challenges in the environment including transportation and the violence in the Niger Delta. I’ll like to see those investors who would like to take on the refineries in the Niger Delta at a time when oil mutlinationals are scaling down operations and relocating their expatriate staff due to the menace of kidnapping in the Niger Delta. Besides, the Nigerian investment environment is unstable and uncertain and it is increasingly so. What if another government shows up in the future and introduces a different policy? Full deregulation as proposed translates into only one thing: higher pump prices of petroleum products and greater hardship for the Nigerian people.

It is curious that the recommendation is coming from the Federal Government Committee on the Global Economic Crisis. Elsewhere, recession has resulted in government becoming friendlier towards the people. Countries are introducing packages to stimulate the economy and to inspire hope. Prices are being slashed in order to encourage more spending, government is intervening to play a bigger role in the lives of the people in order to save nations from anomie. These same blind market forces that Mansur Muhtar and co are reinventing as the cure-all for the downstream sector is the devil in the global economic setback. Don’t they know this? If PMS now goes up to N73 per litre, with the Naira exchanging as at yesterday at N173 to the dollar, with the stock market now a penny shop, with no regular power supply and no jobs, starvation wages are still being paid, companies are cutting jobs, and public officials are living large and bank directors are junketing about like a yo-yo in expensive jets, and the refineries are down, and there is very low capacity utilisation in the real sector, the only losers will be ordinary people. What should come first: full deregulation or house cleaning? I think the latter.

One major excuse offered by the Minister of Finance is that in the face of huge budget deficits, the Federal Government can no longer sustain an annual subsidy of about N640 billion in the downstream sector. In the past three years, a total of N1. 6 trillion has reportedly been spent. The question to ask is: How? Where is this subsidy that government talks about? How was it disbursed? It is not enough for government to talk about huge subsidy, it must explain what constitutes that subsidy. Now, they argue that if government can have access to this N640 billion per annum, it can then use it on infrastructural development. Well, we have heard that before.

It was the same argument that was used to raise the pump price of petrol from N11 all the way to N70, that was in those days when they used to tell us that a litre of petrol in Nigeria was cheaper than a bottle of Coke, and there has been no improvement in the quality of infrastructure since then. Muhtar says privatisation of the refineries is important and that government is determined to get it right this time. The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mohammed Barkindo says with local refining, cost associated with importation will be eliminated and retail prices will become cheaper. We don’t think so. Because even if all the refineries were to work at optimal capacity, Nigeria would still have to import refined petroleum products to satisfy local demand. And can anybody rely on government’s promise? The reality is that Nigerians no longer trust their governments.

The Minister of Finance put his finger on the matter when he lamented that the bane of the oil and gas sector is that government has been subsidising inefficiency and corruption. The PPPRA is to be reviewed because under the new arrangement, its role would have to change, but even more so, the Federal Government says, the body has been compromised. Also, the rehabilitation of the refineries, we are told, ended up putting money in private pockets, and so the Federal Government does not intend to spend one extra kobo on those refineries anymore. If the government knows all of these, why is it lamenting? It should immediately arrest those who have encouraged the inefficiency in the PPMC, the NGC, the NNPC, the PPPRA and let Nigerians know who and how the subsidy of N640 billion vanished annually without any impact on the economy and the people. The Obasanjo government once tried to audit the accounts of the NNPC. It couldn’t come up with reliable figures. A proper audit of the present, operative template is advisable. Yes, there are leakages, but what exactly is wrong? First, the Federal Government must determine the actual cost of petroleum products, from production to the market. This will enable it to know the exact amount of subsidy that is required, and exactly how much has been frittered away, and by who. Perhaps if it knows the actual required subsidy, and plugs the leakage pipes, it may be persuaded to seek scapegoats elswehere. Second, sanctions must be meted out to the saboteurs when identified. Into whose pockets did the N640 billion disappear every year?

It was further argued that government intends to ensure open and free licensing in the downstream sector in order to break an existing oligopoly. But, if we may ask, who are the members of the cartels that Mansur Muhtar is complaining about? Can they be named? Could they possibly be the same persons who donate money to PDP political campaigns, or Presidential libraries and who are so neck-deep in PDP politics that their names show up every year on the National Honours List for services rendered to (sorry, for damages done to) Nigeria? Independent marketers in the downstream sector complain daily about the dominance of these powerful forces who alone exercise an undeserved monopoly in the sector. Is there any guarantee that government as it is can protect a regime of free competition? With 2011 around the corner, won’t the Yar’Adua government still need the cartel in the downstream sector when it decides to raise funds for a second term project?

Again, government wants to do offshore refining. This had been recommended many times in the past, but even if the option is now adopted, has government thought its way through it? Or has this been thrown in merely as a convenient slogan after a fashion? To further simplify this matter: by cancelling subsidy for petroleum products, government wants to free more resources for its own use. I don’t want to believe that the Nigerian government is cash-strapped. Is this not the same government that returns unspent money every year to the treasury? And if the lifestyle of government officials and the politicians is any measure of reality, government remains the most profitable business in the country today. If the Federal Government is looking for more funds, why doesn’t it look elsewhere and try to cut its own costs and reduce the extravagance of government? A salary cut for public officals was proposed recently, but one after the other some state Governors are already saying: “Pay cut? Count me out?” Why don’t they cut the fat allowances and estacodes then? And strengthen the mechanism for checking corruption in official corridors?

About a month ago, the PPPRA had suddenly announced a surprising reduction in the pump price of petrol, from N70 per litre to N65 per litre. With the present development, it is now clear that government was playing games with the feelings of Nigerians. The reduction was meant to last for one month only. A month later, now the plan to remove “subsidy.” The Nigerian Labour Congress has said that it will resist any increase in the pump prices of petroleum products, but it should do more than that. It should provide strong counter-arguments to expose the folly of the proposal and the wrongness of the timing. The National Assembly should be persuaded to act in the interest of the people and say to the Federal Executive: “No, not now”.

Other countries of the world provide subsidy for their citizens. Nigerians ask: if they remove petroleum subsidy compeletely, then what is it that we are expected to enjoy as citizens? Yet, Nigeria is a petroleum producing country. The Global Recession Committee should take another look at its proposal, it should pay close attention to public responses. No matter how attractive the removal of subsidy in the downstream sector may be, this is not the time to do it. And this is not how to go about it. Now again we pay the price for poor leadership. What is being planned is provocative. It is an invitation to chaos.

—Reuben Abati

The Cost Of Political Inexperience In A ‘Shoeless’ Economy

The so-called complete deregulation of the downstream sector and the removal of subsidy may seem like a purely economic policy decision, but it is so tied to larger Nigerian questions that it ought to be more rigorously debated, and government should make haste slowly. As at this moment, Nigeria operates a partial deregulation regime in the downstream sector.

Petrol and kerosene prices are regulated while diesel is fully deregulated. The regime is corruption-ridden, it is badly managed. There is no indication that a complete deregulation regime will be better managed. The problem is not one of form, but…
leadership. The arguments being advanced to justify the proposed full deregulation do not make sense. All the arguments have a ring of deja vu.

“They are taken from the same textbooks that the economists have refused to update, the same ideas that led to the collapse of the global economy. Other countries are making a U-turn and subjecting textbook knowledge to the test of reality, Nigerian policy makers are still holding on to old paradigms. One of these days, we shall start stoning the economists in official corridors.” Reuben Abati, Presidential Spokesman to President Jonathan (March 2009).

Just imagine the cost of what inexperience could wrath on a nation? Just imagine what corruption could do to a nation in transition? And sum that up at the level of ignorance and see for yourself what damage this whole idea of strike has done to the psyche of the average Nigerian.

I have read all the bullshit about President Jonathan’s so-called courage in taking a decision that has sent the country on the fault-line. I cannot see any courage in the action of Mr. President because the whole object of his decision has brought pains and hardship on the people.

For a “courageous” decision, we now have bloods on our hands. For a “courageous” decision, we have lost over 200billion naira. For a “courageous” decision, we now have a big challenge of break down in confidence and trust between the government and the governed. For Mr. President’s action, we are now faced with a credibility problem coupled with legitimacy. What the people are now saying is that President Jonathan’s breath of fresh air is now choking.

Once there is a disconnect between the leaders and the led or once there is collapse of the social contract that binds the leaders and the led together, it takes more than a passing remark to rebuild that trust, and once trust becomes questionable, the leader will simply be on his own.

It is worse when you see dogs and goats dramatizing and protesting to show that they are also affected by the pinch and pains of the subsidy disease.

It is very obvious that President Jonathan is out of tune with the reality of the Nigerian situation. From his conduct so far, he has shown manifest inexperience in handling this whole issue. It does appear to me that Mr. President is under a spell by the cabal he claims to be fighting.

His damage control mechanism has been most obtuse, compounding issues and exposing his weaknesses more than ever before. That brings me to the question on the lips of everyone; who are the real advisers of President Jonathan? Are they sincere with him? Are they patriotic? I have heard from some quarters that it is not that the President is not getting the right form of advises, but that too much of advice can spoil the cook.

I know that Dr. Reuben Abati copiously quoted above cannot possibly be on the side of the President even though he now serves as his Spokesman. His views expressed in 2009 will cogently remain in place because of the profundity and fecundity. I do not think that a spokesman job can take away such view from Dr. Abati. True to his counsel, the issue has to be thoroughly debated and agreed upon.

I still insist that there is a missing link here in the entire subsidy discourse. Why do we discuss subsidy as if it is deregulation? Why on earth will government be talking about deregulation as a substitute for subsidy? This explains why there is so much insincerity in the system.

The Minister for Petroleum, Mrs. DizieaniAllison-Maduekwe told a nation in turmoil that one of the rationales for imposing this hardship was due to the fact that our petrol is being smuggled to our sister African countries because the cost in those countries is apparently on the high side.

Such a position is admittance that President Jonathan cannot guarantee the protection of our territorial integrity since our borders have become porous and could no longer be manned. One cannot possibly understand why the petroleum Minister would want Nigerians to pay for the inadequacies and incompetence of the government (and its security agencies).

In other words, if government is able to secure our borders and ensure that smuggling activities are checkmated, perhaps the idea of removing the subsidy would be defeated. Again, government’s response has been slow in coming; it is either provocative or essentially missing the point.

A nation that is aspiring to be one of the twenty largest and strongest economies in the world; such an ambitious dream, cannot possibly allow its economy to be shut down for one day, let alone for five days. It is five years backward. And for such an economy also, the purchase of 1600 buses as president’s palliative to cushion the impact of subsidy removal is as insulting as it is ridiculous.

Lagos State alone reportedly bought over 2000 buses for its BRT project and yet is still battling with transportation challenges, hence the idea of quickly announcing 1600 buses in a formless economy that has no mass transit culture is like a drop in the ocean.

Talking more seriously, it is my opinion that President Jonathan lacks good thinkers and proactive strategists. He also does not have good, effective and persuasive communicators. All the “neighbour to neighbour” wrap-around advertorials are simply money wasting adventures.

Those who have been speaking for government appear too militant in their delivery. Communication on its own has its principles.

When it becomes a matter of forcing down the throat what should rather be vomited, it creates a crisis situation. Rather than talk to Nigerians, government spokespersons have been busy talking to themselves. At best, it has been a monologue; government talking to government; each government apologist trying to outsmart the other and battling for any available media space to add voice.

The efforts have been uncoordinated. The organization lacks coherence and cohesion. Every government person is seen running amok in desperation to reply Nigeria Labour Congress. In the fullness of time, you see them deploying the same old-fashioned tactics of crowd renting as a response to NLC.

That is not a good response to the argument. It will further compound the crisis. I expected government to have on ground a good team comprising people who understand the subject-matter of subsidy discourse, and not those who are mixing subsidy with deregulation.

This whole plot appears to be wrapped with corruption. The approach must certainly change if we must move forward.

President Jonathan must yield to the demands of Nigerians. Government is meant to serve the people. It is not a limited liability company that counts its achievements on the basis of profit and loss. The United States of America’s debt profile is alarming, yet the people are still enjoying the gains of good governance.

There is no harm in borrowing insofar the money is channelled to the purpose for which it was sought. We need to explore the option of diversifying our monolithic economy. With our vast arable land, agriculture is a sector we must seriously invest in especially on account of our present reality where too much attention is focused on oil.

President Jonathan’s decision at this critical juncture of our national development and in the face of this strike challenge will go a long way to reposition the country. He must not yield to the claim that he is incompetent and inexperienced.

That will be too costly to administer. He also cannot yield to the accusation that he is incapable of fighting corruption which has destroyed the fabric of the society. He must show leadership and be prepared to consult widely with opinion leaders and stakeholders in his desperate efforts to find a middle road solution. He cannot afford to allow this strike drag on in the interest of the unity and oneness of the country. He must show concern and reason to act fast.

Nigeria and Nigerians are very easy to govern provided you are honest with them. On account of government’s insistence on the removal of fuel subsidy, trust and confidence in the system have been eroded. Building that trust will require a lot of time. How do the people believe and trust their leaders when the document issued by government as the possible gains of the subsidy, are also listed in the 2012 budget?

How will the people take government serious when it cannot address the issue of the cabal that has held the country hostage? Why will the people believe government when most of the political appointees are cruising in exotic automobiles and architectural derring-do and now telling poor Nigerians to sacrifice for the future? I think very seriously that President Jonathan must gain experience and capacity.

He must also learn fast too. He doesn’t need to flex muscles with Nigerians; it is certainly not a sign of strength, but that of weakness. He must be prepared to listen to all sides of the argument and take the right and plausible decision. Those who are beating the drums of support for his anti-people policy are not doing so for altruistic reasons. It is simply an opportunity to enrich themselves.

With President Jonathan’s conduct so far, he is confirming the public held view that he lacks capacity and experience. These are not good signs of a man who presides over 150million population in Nigeria.

Written by Kassim Afegbua
[In a “shoeless” economy, inexperience is very costly, corruption is worse]

Jonathan Must Hear This: Kenya cuts fuel prices, citing stronger shilling

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s energy regulator slashed the prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene on Saturday in east Africa’s biggest economy, citing a stronger shilling that helped make up for erratic international crude oil price movements.

The Energy Regulatory Commission cut the price of super petrol in the capital Nairobi by 7.11 shillings to 111.95 shillings per litre, of diesel by 3.08 shillings to 107.90 shillings and of kerosene by 3.63 shillings to 87.11 shillings per litre.

The new prices come into effect on January 15.

The lower prices are expected to offer some relief from rising inflation. Rising fuel prices have in the past had a significant impact because many people rely on kerosene for lighting and cooking as well as on diesel and super petrol for transport.

In December the year-on-year inflation rate eased to 18.93 percent from 19.72 percent in November but was still up from just 4.51 percent in December 2010.

The shilling is off an all-time low of 107 to the dollar hit in October and closed on Friday at 87.35/55 against the dollar.

Why Ordinary Americans Are Also Angry With Goodluck Jonathan – #OccupyNigeria-Atlanta

By Farooq A. Kperogi

On Monday January 9, my 7-year-old daughter and I joined many Americans from the “Occupy Atlanta” movement or, as they like to call themselves, “Atlanta’s 99 percent,” to protest against President Goodluck Jonathan’s revoltingly conscienceless war on the poor though his thoughtless and ill-conceived hike in petrol prices.

We converged at the Nigerian Consulate in Atlanta in symbolic solidarity with the admirably dauntless Nigerian people at home who have chosen to bracket their differences and unite in defense of their common humanity against a notoriously malevolent and incompetent government.

Atlanta is just one of several cities where ordinary Americans of all races came out forcefully and passionately to support Nigerians against this embarrassingly inept, IMF/World Bank-controlled government. Across major cities in America, scores of Americans are joining Nigerians in America in demonstrations against the most usurious petrol price hike in Nigeria’s entire history.

But why would Americans who live thousands of miles away from Nigeria and who have a reputation for being provincial and indifferent to world events that have no direct consequence on their lives be interested in what goes on in our country?

There are three reasons. First, the Internet, especially social media, has annihilated the boundaries of time and space in hitherto unthought-of ways. A lot of Americans became aware of the desperate conditions of the Nigerian people at home not through their legacy, mainline news media, but through online social networks and citizen blogs.

I take delight in saying that my October 22, 2011 article titled “Fuel Subsidy Removal: Time to ‘Occupy’ Nigeria!” and a sequel titled “Biggest Scandal in Oil Subsidy Removal Fraud” were major catalysts in this awakening. The articles went viral on the Internet, attracted an unprecedented traffic to my blog, and caused scores of inquiries to be directed at me Of course, as I said on my Facebook page, I don’t claim any credit for the “Occupy Nigeria” movement. I think its emergence is the product of a spontaneous outpouring of righteous anger against a smothering and insensitive government policy. Of course, several other Nigerians also wrote many thoughtful articles and analyses on the cruelty, fraud, and illogic of the Jonathan government’s inhuman petrol price hike. These disparate initiatives all coalesced to form a compelling social media narrative of what is going in Nigeria.

The second reason ordinary Americans identify with the current struggles of the Nigerian people is that many of them were intensely scandalized to learn that Nigerians, 80 percent of whom live on less than $2 a day, were paying more for petrol than they who live in the world’s wealthiest nation. The lowest paid worker in America receives the equivalent of 185,00 naira per month. Nigeria’s current minimum wage of 7,500 naira translates into $47 dollars a month. If the Jonathan government honors its promise to increase the minimum wage to 18,000 naira, that would translate into $112 per month.

A softhearted American friend of mine who saw this statistic wept profusely a few days ago. “That’s just not fair!” she cried. “Someone with a 47-dollar-a-month wage pays $3.6 for a gallon of gas while a minimum wage worker in Georgia who receives nearly $8 an hour pays $2.99 for the same? That’s just wrong on so many levels!”

She would probably have literally cried her heart out if she knew that the Nigerian government actually pays millions of dollars to an avaricious cabal of primitive capitalist vultures to import toxic, low-grade refined petrol into the country. As I said in a previous article, the petrol price comparison between Nigeria and the United States— and other countries— is, in fact, grossly inaccurate because all of the petrol that is imported to Nigeria is so low-grade that it’s a criminal offense to use it in America, Europe, and other parts of the world.

Thirdly, and most importantly, contrary to the intentional lies being hawked by the economic policy thugs of the Jonathan administration, the American government heavily SUBSIDIZES the fuel consumption of its citizen. Most responsible, socially sensitive governments do.

According to a TIME Magazine article of January 3, America’s 50 states collectively spend $10 billion a year to subsidize the fuel consumption of their citizens. In America, with all its vast material prosperity, the surest way for any government to collapse irretrievably is to encourage any policy that causes the price of petrol to go up. As TIME put it beautifully, “One of the fastest ways to alienate voters is to be seen supporting anything that intensifies pain in the pump.”

American state governments subsidize petrol prices for their citizens through low taxes on their oil companies. During the 2008 presidential election, for instance, Hilary Clinton and John McCain, in fact, advocated a “gas tax holiday” regime. That meant oil companies would not be taxed at all for an extended period so that gas prices would come down by about 18.4 cents a gallon for petrol and about 24.4 cents for diesel.

According to TIME, “politicians’ refusal to increase gas taxes in line with inflation and construction costs starves needed infrastructure of funding.” Sounds familiar? The perennial reason our governments in Nigeria advance to increase fuel prices is that the government needs money for “infrastructural development,” which by the way is a fat lie. (They should be honest for once and admit that they need more money to steal). But the point is that no responsible government starves its people to death because it wants to build infrastructure. Only the living use infrastructure.

There is an instructive example in the Midwestern state of Iowa of how a caring government, faced with a cash crunch, responded to recommendations for an increase in petrol prices to raise money. I will reproduce parts of the story, which is from TIME, without authorial intervention:

“In Iowa, which hasn’t raised its tax in 22 years, a citizen advisory panel recommended an 8 cent to 10 cent bump per gallon in November. Republican Gov. Terry Branstad quickly took any increase off the table, instead asking his Department of Transportation to look for savings.

“‘Everyone realizes that we need more funding for roads and bridges,’ said Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for Branstad. ‘I don’t think the legislature was especially willing to put a burden on Iowa’s tax payers at this time.’”

So an American state was in dire need of money to fund projects that would benefit the people and a panel made up of professionals not affiliated with the government recommended that the government increase the pump price of petrol to raise cash.

What did the government do? It said no. It said increasing petrol prices by just 8 or 10 percent would impose an unbearable burden on its citizens. It then said the state should raise money by SAVING. And this is a state in the wealthiest country on earth. Do you see any parallels here with Nigeria?

Well, that’s why every American who is familiar with what is happening in Nigeria is deeply angry with Jonathan on our behalf. So don’t give up, Nigerians. The whole world is watching you, supporting you, and celebrating your extraordinary gallantry!

Oil Subsidy: FGN Adopts Blackmail As Meeting Ends In Deadlock

The scheduled meeting between the organized labor and the federal government of Nigeria ended in a deadlock following 3hours of closed door discussions on Saturday January 14, 2012 in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. The meeting ended unceremoniously few minutes to 12midnight and saw the slim window of opportunity to avert the possible breakdown of law and order in Nigeria close shut.

The entire cabinet members of the President, Dr. Goodluck Ebelemi Jonathan and seven other select State governors were present for the meeting – which also saw eighteen [18] members of organized labor in attendance. President Jonathan was not in attendance.

According to firsthand information gathered by 247ureports.com, the meeting ended abruptly due to the new tactics adopted by the representative of the federal government of Nigeria [FGN] towards organized labor during the said negotiation. The representative of the FGN during the talks told the representatives of organized labor that the FGN has the luxury of holding them on treasonable offenses if they decide to hold their grounds to the N65 per liter demand or nothing. The labor leaders were also threatened that it is possible for the FGN to hold them responsible for the killings and damage to properties that occurred during the 5-day protest across the country.

The tone and demeanor of the FGN representatives were said to have taken a new face. The negotiations were said to be one-directional – with the FGN dictating to the representatives of labor. But 247ureports.com gathered that the labor representative remained calm and collected and were able to discard the threat – to lay their claims on the table – adding that the workers on the oil rigs are in-line to down their tools pending the outcome of the talks.

The talks immediately took on another turn. The data and figures pointing to the need to remove the oil subsidy began to make its way onto to the tables – as the Oil Minister managed to make the point that it was necessary to stick with the N140 per liter price marker. She was brute and dictatorial in her presentation. She implied ignorance on the part of the labor representatives – while accusing them of instigating unrest. The same notion was espoused by the finance minister and the other representatives.
The mood of the meeting became charged and turned into a slight shouting match between the two parties. The secretary to the federal government cleared the air – and told the labor representatives that no further compromise can be reached beyond what was reached on Thursday – that the President will have to be briefed before further compromise/shifting can be made.

To this, the labor representatives called it quits. But the secretary to the federal government, Anyim sought confirmation that organized labor would hold-off on shutting the oil rigs till the President is briefed. Organized labor gave him till Sunday.

Subsidy removal: Jonathan heading for doom – Opadokun

By WOLE BALOGUN

Foremost Nigerian human rights activist and lawyer, Ayo Opadokun, has said that the insistence of the President Goodluck Jonathan government to stick with the removal of fuel subsidy, in spite of the widespread protests by Nigerians, is a step towards doom. Opadokun also blamed the senseless killings by the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, on the failure of the Federal Government to deliver the dividends of democracy to the Nigerian masses. He called for the convocation of a sovereign national conference.

What’s your take on the removal of fuel subsidy?

Those who the gods want to destroy they will first of all make mad. They have overspent the blank cheque that Nigerians have given to them. I knew that people would react and Nigeria Labour Congress is leading the people to reject such evil policy. Let me tell you, I have done a lot on this so-called subsidy. You remember that in 1994, Obasanjo wanted to increase the price of fuel; the NLC did a thorough job, a lot of research; they went to several oil exporting and producing countries; they were able to gather the unit cost of producing one litre of refined oil; they went round and found that no oil exporting country is importing oil for its local consumption, except Nigeria. And then the question you ask yourself is why should this happen in the eight largest oil exporting country? How can a country that exports the eighth largest crude oil rely on fuel importation? How can?

There is no basis for Nigeria not to have built a new refinery since 1984. Is it that they don’t have the money? The money that they have spent on turn around maintenance, which they have done more than four or five times now, could have financed one or two new refineries. Why is it that they failed to do so? Because they have unfairly refused to build new refineries, there are other alternatives. One is that there are idle refineries in Ghana, Senegal, Portugal and Angola just to mention a few.

What stops Nigeria from taking its crude oil to them, refine them on arrangement and bring back to our country? They are not willing to do so. And to make matters worse, the only avenue through which this imported fuel will get to the Nigerian soil is through the Atlas Cove jetty. It is the only one that has been there for more than 25 years now. They knew that fuel consumption in Nigeria was increasing, as a result of the expansion of the economy. So they ought to have either done a new Atlas Cove or expanded that one, so that they could have multiple means for the oil. Now they say they have surcharge for fuel still on the sea. Is it Nigerians’ fault? Again, they claim that it is because Nigerian petroleum products are cheaper, cheaper than soft drink that people take it across the borders. Who is controlling the Nigerian borders? Is it not the Nigerian government? So you can see that there is nothing like subsidy. They are just dishonest.

Again, on oil importation, it is only the NNPC that has been licensed to import oil. Why can’t they give licence to individuals who wish to import? That is to tell you that there are questionable deals in it. Some of their friends are benefiting from the thing. They also keep on lying to the country that only a few people are benefiting from the subsidy. It is difficult for government to pay workers N18, 000 minimum wage. Now the prices of everything, from transportation and foodstuff, have sky rocketed. So it has an overbearing general effect on the Nigerian people. They know the truth, but they don’t want to say it.

Let’s talk about security. Book Haram has bean a thorn in the flesh of Nigerians, with the series of bomb blasts. What do you think?

I thought I had said much about Boko Haram. However, let me go back to give you an up date. The background to this matter, from all intent and purposes and from the investigations and consultations we have made from distinguished personalities from the North eastern part of the country, is this: They told us a long time ago that Boko Haram has resolved to confront an evil system that denies them their basic rights as citizens of Nigeria. Those who emerge as governors collect huge sums of money from the federation account, as trustees of the people, yet there is nothing to show for it; no development in the land, no job, no serious education; nothing is happening; so people are reacting, using their own method to vent their anger on the political operators in that part of the country. They have said that they don’t want western education. They said they don’t want western system of governance because that is evil to them. They preferred to be governed by Sharia law. Their resolve is that if you don’t listen to them, they will make it impossible for those in government to govern.

Now, how many people from that part of the country have come out to condemn them? They want to be governed in the Islamic way. In a federal structure, the constitution appreciates the fact that it is a multi-cultural, multi-linguistic, multi-religious, multi-customs and traditions. In a federal system, each unit governs itself independently, but coordinated at the centre. As the Boko Haram is dong their own, the Egbesu boys in the South South are saying they want to administer oil. Asari Dokubo started it all. Look at the Igbo guys, MOSSOB movement. They have been producing their own national flags, Biafran currency, and the money is being spent in some enclaves in Igbo land.

In the first republic, the regions were independent, but coordinated at the centre. But the problem is that everything Nigeria touches we bastardize it. The Yoruba boys, the Afenifere, the Oduduwa, and OPC are saying, let us live here. Don’t let anybody dictate to us; we know how to govern ourselves. The best thing, in this circumstance, which I have said over and over, is for us to call for a national conference, sovereign national conference; each nationality knows how to nominate their representatives. In the conference discuss and decide how to operate the federation

Why do you think successive governments shy away from convening a sovereign nation conference?
They are not true democrats. They are representing particular platforms that don’t want Nigeria to develop. It is for their selfish gains that the situation remains as it is today. They are the greatest beneficiaries. The system in Nigeria is terrible; no matter who you bring to preside over this current system, he would fail. And they don’t want that system to be properly established. Whatever system allows the Nigeria people to vote for a person and then a motley crowd of soldiers representing this evil platform can just annul such election. It is a terrible system that ought not to be tolerated. For example, those who schemed Jonathan into office want to continue to rule Nigeria in perpetuity, from cradle to grave. So, now if you want an arrangement that would prevent continuation of such evil regime, they will not be happy and would not support it. They will frustrate it.

You remember that the 2005 conference that Obasanjo called was because of the pressure. Instead of responding properly, he did an arrangement meant not only to undermine the clarion call but also to bend it for his own selfish interest. They don’t want Nigeria to escape from where we are today. They have held us down for over 51 years. I keep on saying that they have already overplayed their luck. My fear is that if they imagined that Nigeria is immune from the Arab spring, they will be shocked. The poverty in the land is too much.

The removal of Mrs. Farida Waziri as EFCC chairman has been interpreted in many ways. What’s your position?

We saw the sack of Mrs. Farida Waziri coming. The American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, came to Nigeria and spoke very strongly that the fight against corruption had been stalled and the enthusiasm and the momentum had reduced substantially. Some of us felt that was a dividing line to tell the Nigerian rulers that their repeated commitment to the fight against corruption is not being taken seriously by the outside world. So we thought that something would happen. I would say that Waziri had been sacrificed to please the western nations and certain people in the Nigerian political circle who are still influential in the scheme of things.

Farida Waziri was brought in by a very unholy and very subversive group led by the former governor of Delta State and the then leadership of the Governor’s Forum. As soon as their candidate, Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua became president, it didn’t take time for them to dislodge Nuhu Ribadu from office. And at that time, those who cared to know, including journalists, would remember that both James Ibori and Bukola Saraki were virtually the landlords in Aso Rock. So they got what they wanted. If an officer of the state came in through that compromised arrangement, there would be no tears to shed for her when she was dislodged.

I saw the thing coming; that Waziri would be sacrificed one day. So, for me, what happened wasn’t accidental, and it will continue to happen. Whoever takes over even now, I am sorry for him, because the Nigerian government does not have the determination to fight corruption. They don’t. They are mouthing it. They are deceiving Nigerians. They know what to do; there are too many cases of corruption against the executive, legislature and the judiciary.

Since two chief executives of that body have been sacked in this messy circumstances, I dare say that it will continue. For it to stop, they must review that act, the EFCC Act of 2004. It should not give the president the right to sack the chief executive of that kind of a body without the input of the legislature. For now, whoever is there is under the mercy of the political leader. And if you don’t want to lose your job, you already know what to do. I don’t see President Jonathan fighting corruption. It will be impossible. I don’t see him confronting the platform that produced him. He remains a product of very perverted and corrupt platform. Look at what is happening in his own state, how can he be a decent person? Since Dickson has become the candidate, it follows that he would be awarded the election. How do you imagine that such a fellow would be willing to defend and promote the rule of law, equity and justice?

Now that you have mentioned Bayelsa PDP, what do you think about the crisis relating to the governorship election?

I thought that it was an inglorious manifestation of a political brinkmanship that the sitting governor of state was physically held up in the Government House, as if he was in solitary confinement, to prevent him from participating in the primaries of the party that sponsored him into office. And that is the state of the president of Nigeria. By that, we were exposing the underbelly of crude politics that our people play. I never imagined that in this 21st century, we will still be engaged in such perverted political arrangement. All that has been exposed here is the fact that the highest authority in the land has strongly undermined the normal procedure of party politics.

What then should Sylva do?

He is a product also of a perverted system. He is not innocent. Sylvia is not in any way better off than those who are humiliating him. If he has the gut, let him pursue the matter to its logical conclusion legally.

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Muslim organization adds support to Lagos subsidy rally

The Conference of Islamic Organizations that joined this morning with about 3,000 of its followers has boosted the protest against fuel subsidy removal in Lagos.

They trooped to the Gani Fawehinmi Park in Ojota, Lagos venue of the mass rally against what labour leaders and the Save Nigeria Group, SNG called “Corruption, petrol price increase and bad governance.”

The group denounced the activities of the Boko Haram group and called for the government to rescind its decision to remove subsidy on fuel before leading the ever increasing crowd in an Islamic prayer.

Today marks the third day of the protest, which has featured many renowned human rights activists, politicians, popular musicians, artistes and labour leaders taking turns to address the mass rally.

Popular comedian Babatunde Omidina a.k.a Baba Suwe, Juju crooner Shina Peters and Fuji musician Saheed Osupa were among the new stars that joined the protest this morning, calling for the reversal of the fuel subsidy withdrawal policy.

More protesters are streaming to the venue to pep up the protest, which began on Monday January 9.

Osun Obas Express Worries Over National Insecurity

Traditional rulers in Osun State on Thursday expressed their worries over the spate of bombings and crime rate.

The monarchs, under the auspices of Osun Division Conference of Obas, condemned the Christmas day bombings across the country, describing it as unholy, inhuman and against the spirit of oneness of the country.

Urging the Federal Government and security agencies to take the bull by the horns and nip in the bud the insecurity insurgence, the monarchs appealed to sponsors and perpetrators of crimes in the country to sheath their swords and embrace peace.

The traditional rulers made the call at the last segment of the Obas meeting in 2011, held at the Akirun’s Palace in Ikirun, Headquarters of Ifelodun Local Government Council Area of the state.

Chaired by the Orangun of Ila, Oba Wahab Kayode Oyedotun, Bibire 1, the monarchs lauded Governor Rauf Aregbesola for his developmental projects accomplished within a year.

They commended the governor for his youth’s employment and poverty alleviation programmes, reawakening agriculture and policy of food security and rural development, road rehabilitations and free rail transport in the state.

The traditional rulers in a Communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, pledged their support for Aregbesola’s administration, just as they urged the people of the state, to keep on supporting the government.

AWARD WINNING MOVIE “ANCHOR BABY” RELEASED ONLINE WATCH NOW

Multiple award winning Nigerian/Canadian blockbuster movie “Anchor Baby” directed by Lonzo Nzekwe has achieved another feat never before done by any Nollywood movie.
The director of the movie has decided to give movie lovers and fans of the movie all over the world, who missed out on seeing the movie another chance to view the movie through an online Video On Demand on their website at www.anchorbabymovie.com for only $4.99 which is close to nothing. Renters will also have access to watch the movie 5 times within 30 days.
Movie lovers and fans of the movie can visit the online portal of the movie www.anchorbabymovie.com to watch the full movie instantly in HD quality.  The movie which racked in close to 18million Naira in box office was adjudged the best Nollywood movie in the Uk cinemas.
Anchor Baby has also been shortlisted by the British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) as one of the films seeking for nominations votes at the 2012 awards.
The producers are also offering 10% commission from sales generated when anyone embeds or shares the full movie on their blogs,    Facebook, twitter and any website. to start sharing the video now, one can go to the video player on their website www.AnchorBabyMovie.com, and click the “Share” or “Embed” button to start.
The movie which was shot in Canada with a cast of international movie stars and one of Nollywood’s best actresses,  Omoni Oboli was produced and directed by Nigerian born, Canadian based film maker Lonzo Nzekwe generated a lot of buzz in the entertainment industry as to the number of fans the movie generated on social and media blogs even weeks before its arrival and the amount of awards the movie carted away when it finally arrived in cinemas.
 The movie was pronounced the Best Film at the Harlem International Film Festival in New York City; it won an award of merit at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood; it has enjoyed several weeks of impressive runs and cinema success across Nigeria and now ‘Anchor Baby’ is at the verge of winning more awards as it gets two nominations from AMAA Awards
The movie,  Anchor Baby set in the United State and shot in Brampton and Hamilton, Ontario Canada  tells the story of a married illegal immigrant couple living in the US, Joyce and Paula Unanga.
They are ordered by the US immigration to leave the country by voluntary departure. They agree to leave but only after Joyce who is 5month pregnant delivers her baby inside the US, as this will guarantee automatic citizenship for their child.