Archives November 2023

Bank recapitalisation: Presidency backs CBN, investors rush for mega-banks stocks

•We must address banks capital adequacy to grow economy – Tinubu’s adviser

•Investors inject N110bn in UBA, FBNH, Zenith, Access, other stocks in two days

Presidency on Tuesday expressed support for the banking sector consolidation initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria, saying it would help the country to grow the economy to a new height.

This came barely five days after the CBN said it would ask banks to raise new capital.

According to the Presidency, it has become important to consider the capital adequacy of Nigerian banks in light of the projected $1tn economy in eight years.

Representing President Bola Tinubu at the 40th Anniversary Celebration of The Guardian Newspapers in Lagos on Tuesday,  the President’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, said there would be a strong need to revisit the capital adequacy levels of banks

Onanuga said, “On the economy, that is facing all of us, our ambition to attain the $1tn appears daunting but we believe that it is achievable with God on our side and our collective determine. This explains the reason the VP and I have been on the road trying to attract huge investments into various phases of our economy; agriculture, oil and gas and others.

“To arrive at the $1tn economy, we must address the capital adequacy of our banks that will prepare the fuel for this journey.”

At the 58th annual Bankers’ Dinner last Friday, CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, had said a stress test performed on Nigerian banks revealed that while they would withstand mild to moderate stress, they would be unable to service a $1tn economy projected by Tinubu in seven years, hence the need for recapitalisation.

Cardoso said, “Stress tests conducted on the banking industry also indicate its strength under mild-to-moderate scenarios of sustained economic and financial stress, although there is room for further strengthening and enhancing resilience to shocks. Therefore, there is still much work to be done in fortifying the industry for future challenges.”

He added, “Considering the policy imperatives and the projected economic growth, it is crucial for us to evaluate the adequacy of our banking industry to serve the envisioned larger economy. It is crucial to evaluate the adequacy of our banking industry to serve the envisioned larger economy. It is not just about its current stability. We need to ask ourselves, can Nigerian banks have sufficient capital relative to the finance system needs in servicing a $1tn economy shortly, in my opinion, the answer is no, unless we take action.  As a first test, the central bank will be directing banks to increase their capital.”

Mega bank stocks

Meanwhile, PUNCH findings show investors have begun positioning themselves in the stocks of Tier-1 banks listed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited following the announcement of the proposed recapitalisation of the banks.

There are reports some big banks may be eyeing smaller and weaker ones in the event the proposed consolidation in the sector fuels possible acquisitions.

Meanwhile, findings showed that some listed financial institutions gained over N101.18bn on Monday and Tuesday, following the announcement of the proposed banking sector recapitalisation.

An analysis done by The PUNCH at the close of trading on Tuesday revealed that at least six of the lenders added to their market capitalisation in the two trading sessions this week, while five banks shed their value and two remained unchanged.

The lenders who gained included United Bank for Africa Plc, whose market capitalisation rose to N731.87bn on Tuesday from N713.06bn on Friday, the market cap of Zenith Bank Plc appreciated by one per cent to N1.10tn and Access Holdings Plc’s market cap rose by four per cent to close Tuesday’s trading at N639.81bn.

FBN Holdings Plc has been the biggest gainer so far as its market cap stood at N800.47bn on Tuesday from N717.91bn on Friday, marking an 11 per cent appreciation. The market cap of Sterling Financial Holdings Plc rose by 4.51 per cent to N106.81bn and the value of FCMB Group’s share rose by one per cent to N137.63bn.

The five lenders who lost during the period under review include; Guaranty Trust Holding Company (-1 per cent), Jaiz Bank (-2  per cent), Unity Bank (-8.69 per cent), Wema Bank and Stanbic IBTC Holdings (-3.08 per cent) to close with their market capitalisation at N1.13tn, N55.27bn, N19.64bn, N66.61bn and N816.29bn respectively.

The market capitalisation of two lenders, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated Plc and Fidelity Bank remained unchanged over the two-day period at N293.59bn and N288.11bn respectively.

A bank CEO, who earlier spoke to The PUNCH, welcomed the CBN policy direction regarding the recapitalisation of the banks, saying his institution was ready to raise fresh capital though it had yet to conclude the modality.

“Even before the CBN governor made the pronouncement, our bank was already considering raising fresh capital to significantly increase the capital base. This should happen in the first quarter of 2024. So, we are in tune with the CBN governor,” the CEO of a Tier-1 lender told one of our correspondents on Saturday.

In the last few months, First Bank of Nigeria Holdings, Wema Bank and Jaiz Bank have proposed Rights Issues, while Fidelity Bank has announced plans to raise additional capital via the issuance of 13,200 billion ordinary shares via public offer and rights issue. It was gathered that Wema Bank would commence its Rights Issue on December 1.

Already, players in the capital market have expressed varied views as to the capability of the market to support the proposed recapitalisation drive.

While the doyen of the Nigerian Exchange Limited, Rasheed Yusuf, in his comments, believed the local bourse could support such a major capital raise, even without the presence of foreign investors, the Managing Director of Afrinvest Securities Limited, Ayodeji Ebo, expressed doubts the capital market could support the recapitalisation.

He said, “The Nigerian capital market may not be able to fully support the recapitalisation of the banks given the market is currently been driven by domestic investors. To also achieve this, the banks must adopt technology to drive the capital raise process as we saw during the MTN public offer.

Ebo added, “We believe if the foreign exchange policy is clear and consistent in the medium term, we expect to begin to attract FPIs to the capital market.”

Meanwhile, some minority shareholders community have expressed the conditions under which they will support the financial institutions. Mr Boniface Okezie of the Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, said that minority investors must do their due diligence and invest in stocks with track records.

“What we will be looking out for include those who have been paying dividends in the past, those with good capital appreciation and a good track record from their management team. How have they been communicating with shareholders when the situation was rosy or not?  I have my fears and some of those banks can’t convince me, not when my money has been trapped.  In the past, they have been reckless. Even those who acquired the shares of those banks did not pay compensation to shareholders and are using the assets of the bank as leverage to build up their branches. They are not paying dividends to shareholders but have created an empire. For such banks, shareholders must be on the lookout for them and this is the time to pay them back in their coins, “he said.

(Punch)

INEC should be unbundled, inter-party defections banned – Jega

The immediate past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega, has called for the unbundling of the commission and a comprehensive review of the processes and procedures for the appointment of the INEC Chairman and Resident Electoral Commissioners.

Jega stated this on Tuesday at a town hall meeting in Abuja, organised by the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Electoral Matters.

INEC and the 19 registered political parties were noticeably absent at the event.

Jega, a professor of Political Science, also called for a law prohibiting inter-party defections, adding that the practice of jumping from one party to another had destroyed discipline and democratic ethos.

“I will recommend the unbundling of INEC because the commission has a lot on its plate to deal with, a situation which has made it struggle to meet its core mandate. Some functions that INEC is currently performing should be given to another body entirely to handle if we want to make progress on our electoral journey.

 “If we truly want to improve our electoral process, there is a need to proscribe cross-carpeting by political actors. The frequency with which Nigerian politicians cross-carpet has become a big source of worry.

“A candidate will be elected on party a platform and he gets to the office and joins party b without first resigning and relinquishing the position he or she holds in trust for the electorate. This has destroyed the essence of our democratic ethos.”

Jaga, who called for the review of how political parties field presidential candidates  said, “Look at the number of registered political parties in Nigeria and each fielding presidential candidates but at the end of the day, only two or three score significant votes while the majority do not receive any vote.

“If we are serious about our electoral reforms, there must be a threshold for political parties to meet before fielding candidates in presidential elections. The rule must be set that parties that failed to secure a certain amount of votes would not be allowed to present presidential candidates. There must be sanity in the polity and we must get it right.

 “It is not only a huge waste of human and material resources, it’s absurd to have parties that cannot win a seat in the local council to field presidential candidates in a general election. The Electoral Act and INEC guidelines should be reviewed.”

Founder of The Albino Foundation, Jack Ekpele, called for the amendment to electoral laws to give room for persons living with disabilities to fully participate in the electoral process.

(Punch)

Automation of passport application takes off in one week – Minister 

Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, on Tuesday said  the automation of Nigeria’s passport application is 99 per cent completed.

Ojo, speaking in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today said the automated application will become operational in a week’s time noting that after completion,  Nigerians will only go to immigration centres to do fingerprint biometrics for their passports.

He further revealed that with the new system, Nigerians can upload their passport photographs and other supporting documents from the comfort of their homes.

The minister said, “We gave a date — December 2023. We are 99 per cent done. In fact, we have done the testing and we should be going live in the next week or thereabouts.

“This will ensure that what Nigerians need to do at an immigration centre is just fingerprint biometrics.

“Everything regarding pre-biometrics will be done in the comfort of your homes, including uploading passport photographs and supporting documents.

“They will have gone live about two weeks ago but I saw some errors when they came to do the presentation and I said no. We were talking about balancing national security and convenience”.

In the interview, the minister also disclosed that e-gate systems would be installed at international airports in the country by February 2024.

“By February, all our international airports will have e-gates

“Once you are a Nigerian coming to Nigeria, you have no business seeing an immigration officer except if you are a person of interest,” he disclosed.

(Punch)

Court convicts former NDDC special adviser of N2.8bn fraud

A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has convicted and sentenced George Turnah and two others to six years imprisonment on fraud charges.

Turnah was Special Adviser on Youth to Dan Abia, the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Turnah, Ebis Orubebe, and Uzorgor Silas-Chidebere were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in May 2017 on a six-count charge of obtaining N2,894,500,000 (two billion, eight hundred and ninety-four million, five hundred thousand) under false presence, money laundering, conversion of funds, and forgery contrary to the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, punishable under Section 1 subsection 3 of the act.

DAILY POST reports that the trial judge, Justice Abubakar Turaki-Mohammed, in his judgement found the accused guilty of the charges preferred against them by the Port Harcourt Zonal Command of EFCC.

Justice Turaki-Mohammed convicted and sentenced them to two years imprisonment each, making it a total of six years, starting from the date of their arrest.

He, however, gave them the option of a fine, ordering the first defendant to pay one million naira and the second and third defendants to pay N500,000 each into the consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

(Daily Post)

Kogi will overtake Lagos in terms of development – Yahaya Bello

The outgoing Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello has expressed hope that the state will overtake Lagos in the area of development.

Bello said overtaking Lagos in the area of development was the reason he is following the footsteps of President Bola Tinubu.

He spoke on Tuesday while leading the state governor-elect, Usman Ododo on a visit to Tinubu’s wife, Oluremi.

According to Bello: “Definitely Ododo is my worthy successor that the almighty has given the crown to be the governor as from January 27, 2024.

“In a simple term, what I am envisioning Kogi to be is just like what our president planted in Lagos to what Lagos is today.

“In the next administration and nearest future, I envision Kogi to be trailing behind if not overtaking Lagos in terms of development; that is why we are emulating and following the footsteps of President Tinubu.”

(Daily Post)

Dangote refinery to start with 350,000 Bpd next month – Aliko Dangote

The $20 billion Dangote Refinery will be starting with 350,000 barrels a day in December.

The refinery will, however, fully come online with the refining of 650,000 barrels per day by the end of 2024, its owner, Aliko Dangote, has said.

Dangote, whose personal wealth is estimated by Forbes at $10.5 billion, told the Financial Times that by next month the first cargo of about 6 million barrels will be ready for refining.

“Dangote, 66, said he believed the refinery could reach its capacity of 650,000 barrels a day by the end of 2024,” the report said, adding that “We’re starting with 350,000 barrels a day.”

At full production, the refinery, the world’s largest “single train” facility with just one distillation unit, could save Nigeria billions in foreign exchange currently spent on imported fuel. It was “shameful”, Dangote said, that Nigeria, a major oil producer for more than 50 years, could not refine its own crude in anything like sufficient quantity. Head of the Africa practice at political risk consultancy, the Eurasia Group, Amaka Anku, said the refinery was “a massive, complicated undertaking”.

In a country where most business people looked for short-term profits, she added, it was a blessing “that we have someone like Dangote who is willing to spend billions of his own money on long-term projects”.Dangote conceded there were times when he thought the massive project – long delayed and about $8 billion over budget – might jeopardise his business empire.

“The challenges that we faced, I don’t know whether other people can face these challenges and even survive,” he said. “It’s either we sink or we sail through. And we thank the Almighty that at least we’ve arrived at the destination,” he added.In the interview, Dangote complained that rivals were carping because they did not understand what it took to run a business that was the country’s biggest private-sector employer and its biggest taxpayer.

“Sometimes when people talk about us, Dangote, it’s like the government is holding everybody down and allowing us alone to fly,” he stated. He did not want to discuss in detail a tussle over the supply of crude with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), which owns 20 per cent of the refinery after a $2.76 billion equity purchase in 2021.

Nigeria produces about 1.4 million barrels of oil a day, well short of its Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quota of 1.74 million barrels, with much pre-sold in forward contracts.“Let’s not have the blame game here,” he said of NNPC’s reported difficulties in meeting the refinery’s requirements. “We have resolved all the issues of supply,” he stressed.

Dangote rejected suggestions NNPC was playing hardball to negotiate a bigger share of the refinery, which he said would generate revenue of $25 billion a year at full capacity. “I don’t think NNPC needs to buy more shares. I think they’re okay with what we’ve given them,” he added.

The refinery would eventually be floated as a separate company, he said, initially on the Lagos stock exchange.

To build the massive project on 2,500 hectares of swampland, Dangote had to construct his own port and road to take delivery of heavy equipment, establish his own trucking company to move it and his own industrial welding facility to put it together.He said he had laid enough cable to stretch twice around the globe and had moved 65 million tonnes of sand. “You will not see this kind of project in Nigeria in the next 20 years,” he said.

No outside contractor had been willing to take on Nigerian risk, he said, so he had to design and build the whole thing in-house.“We didn’t cut costs. We didn’t cut corners,” he said. “We didn’t do it for people to clap for us. We did it for posterity,” Africa’s richest man pointed out.Dangote would not be drawn on his fight with BUA Chief, Abdulsamad Rabiu or his relationship with the president. But he said nothing should distract from the refinery — a “national project” that was “bigger than Dangote”.

After years of promises, he was adamant that everything was ready. “The refinery is done,” he said. “The baby can come out at any time,” he added.

(Thisday)

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Fix refineries urgently to strengthen naira, Octogenarian pleads with Tinubu

An octogenarian and retired international businessman, Alhaji Azeez Adebayo, has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to summon the political will to urgently repair the nation’s refineries in order to alleviate the current suffering of the teeming masses and strengthen the devalued Naira.

Adebayo, who recently clocked 82, was an international vehicles and accessories dealer in the 70s before he retired from the business.

Speaking with journalists in Ilorin on the state of the nation, he said the current hardship faced by the masses in Nigeria was largely as a result of high cost of fuel prices with slight international consequences.

The senior citizen explained that this was because Nigeria economy is majorly run by oil, stressing that the drastic reduction in the prices of petroleum products when the refineries are repaired would bring succour to the masses.

Adebayo recalled with nostalgia how he used to exchange N55 to a dollar during his business transactions in the 70s, compared to now when a dollar is well over N1, 000.

“I want to strongly appeal to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to do everything within his powers to repair our refineries to maximum production within the next two years,this is not impossible if given serious attention”, the octogenarian said.

“This to me is a major step that would bring relief to the teaming masses because the current suffering is becoming very unbearable.

“Nigerians are now finding it difficult to survive, it’s not until our leaders start seeing corpses of masses on our streets before they understand how very critical our situation is”.

Adebayo, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State, also asked the Federal Government to establish the Price Monitoring Unit across the nation to ensure that people in shops and public markets do not exploit the masses by arbitrarily increasing prices of goods and commodities hiding under high cost of fuel prices.

He suggested that the Price Monitoring Unit would comprise of representatives from the manufacturing sector, the market association and relevant stakeholders to jointly determine prices of our products and ensure that they’re strictly complied with.

“It’s very sad that we Nigerians are our own enemies. People in the open markets arbitrarily increase prices of their products”, Adebayo said.

“Can you imagine someone selling gari, pepper, yam flour, citing the cost of dollars for the increment in the cost of local food items? he said.

“The Federal Government should establish Price Monitoring Unit at all levels that would be responsible for fixing our products and commodities prices and also move round at random to ensure that they are complied with.”

The senior citizen kicked against the protracted delay of cases in our judicial system, observing that cases take long time in courts before delivering judgment which he described as very unfair to the people of the country.

Adebayo lamented that some cases lasted up to 30 or more years from the High Court to the Supreme Court before final judgment, adding that many people that started cases might have died before final judgment.

He urged the President to take urgent action to review the entire judicial system so as to ensure that cases are disposed off within a short time by the courts.

(Vanguard)

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Hold politicians’ feet to fire, Bishop Kukah tells Nigerians

Bishop Matthew Kukah of the Sokoto Diocese of the Catholic Church is the Convener of the National Peace Committee which has been getting stakeholders to commit to peace in elections in Nigeria by signing Accords.

The Committee parades eminent Nigerians as members with General Abdulsalami A. Abubakar, GCFR as Chairman and the latest of such Accords was signed ahead of the Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo governorship polls. Before Kukah’s involvement with the National Peace Committee, he had been part of many other national assignments including the Oputa Panel which, under the Obasanjo presidency, investigated human rights abuses in the country.

In this explosive interview, the Bishop speaks on the job of the National Peace Committee, how Nigerians can grow institutions around which democracy functions, the fallout of the Supreme Court judgments on the 2023 presidential election, the Tinubu administration, the concept of justice and the Oputa Panel among other issues. Excerpts:

People praised the idea of the National Peace Accord when it started. Looking back, do you think stakeholders in the political space fulfill its terms during election seasons?

 I think there is a total misconception of the work of the Peace Committee and we continue to hear people say the agreement has been signed, yet nothing has happened. Therefore leading to a question like what is the Peace Committee doing about it? Let me repeat what I have always said in response to all these. For those married, two people come together; they gather people in the church or mosque as the case may be, and the people who come around, come at the invitation of those getting married.

They pledge to love each other and honour each other until death do them part. Now, the promises that we all make are subject to different circumstances and conditions. Merely making the promises is no guarantee that life is going to be humpty dumpty. No. As problems emerge, families have to find a way of resolving those problems, while keeping their eyes ahead of what marital stability ought to be. Similarly, when we call people to sign onto the Peace Accord, we also have a duty and responsibility to engage them. That means ordinary Nigerians should acquaint themselves with the contents of the peace statement that is being signed because I think this is what is seriously missing in the Nigerian democracy.

You can get into the most expensive Lamborghini, but if you just sit in it and do nothing, it will not move by itself. Nigerians think that after we have elected people, all we need to do is go play golf and continue with our lives, read the news or write the news and go to the market that people are going to trust us and do what is in our best interests. Collectively, as priests and civil society, we all must continue to hold the feet of these people to fire. They are not perfect people. Poll after poll has always illustrated that politicians all over the world, not just in Nigeria, are the least trusted category of human beings.

Despite that, people kill themselves to get into public life. The United Nations poll showed very clearly that the most trusted people are medical doctors, next to them are hairdressers. The point made is that the Peace Accord is merely a symbolic gesture; the rest of its fulfillment is left to the commitment of Nigerians to hold their political actors to account.

Is there a time that we will carry out research on the culture of electoral violence including snatching of ballot boxes which herald our elections?

 Happily, there are no ballot boxes to be snatched again. If that were to happen, things have changed dramatically. I was reading an article a few days ago written by a former British Prime Minister, John Major. He made a point that he delivered a speech somewhere and he asked those in the audience who believed that Britain has lived up to the spirit and letter of its laws after 850 years to raise their hands and not a single hand went up. I think we have engaged in too much self-flagellation and that is largely as a result of the communication facilities and all things that are now available to us to see all that is happening elsewhere. Truth be told, these processes take time when we talk about institutions.

Nigeria became independent in 1960, and we beat ourselves everyday asking why we are not like America and other countries. Again, ask yourself this question: Is it just an election? When the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, comes together to organise an election, is it different from what happens nationally? Even in the elections of priests and bishops, there are tensions, even in processes that are supposed to be divine. Is there any single thing involving elections that is not the subject of contestation? You watch football and see what happens. We must place these things in proper context. What is 23 years in the life of a nation? Because traffic is a bit slow on the other side. The infrastructure and institutions of state are severely weakened, they are corrupted but we must also not forget these processes and everything that involves a contest takes time. It is part and parcel of life, but what makes our elections so tense is that this is Nigeria, a heck of a country with extraordinarily intelligent and brilliant people who cannot lower the bar of their expectations and there is nothing wrong with that. It is natural that we will have these contestations. The question is for us to grow the institutions around which democracy functions. Again, to radically struggle to ensure that the hands of the judiciary are tied behind their backs and they have nothing to do with electoral outcomes.

That means academicians, intellectuals and civil society groups must debate the issues with the National Assembly and hope that we can amend the laws because it is the nature and quality of the laws that are eliciting this kind of reaction. Truth be told, I think that we are relatively new in this game and we are not getting what we deserve, but I think that we must keep our eyes on the ball and know that the next election should be better than the next. We have lived in this country, and we know that ordinarily that there are things that have happened in this country that if it happened 20 or 30 years ago, we would have been living under the military but the fact that even the soldiers themselves have decided to keep their hands behind their backs and the fact that no editorials have been written calling for military takeover shows that Nigerians are committed to a democratic culture. It is long in coming, but we must continue relentlessly because it is the only guarantee against war and returning to the state of nature.

Considering that the Supreme Court has upheld the election of President Bola Tinubu, what do you think of the administration? Do you think it is getting its priorities right? What are your impressions?

 Let me start by saying I read both Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi’s statements which should be the stuff of seminars and the struggle for regeneration. I think those statements are worthy of note. To talk about this current administration, I don’t want to say it is too early, but for me, one of the biggest challenges that this government has faced from the very beginning is the quality of its communication and the qualities of the kind of strategies that it has in terms of communicating with Nigerians. I think that the people’s hearts may be in the right place but I think that the quality of decisions that have been made so far, whether it is the removal of fuel subsidy, certain policy decisions have unleashed untold suffering on ordinary Nigerians and everybody can see it. I think the government needs to have a conversation that suggests to ordinary Nigerians that, “no, we are on the road to Golgotha, but guess what? There is going to be redemption and we need a sequencing of outcomes. If we do this, suffer for a period of time, this is what we are going to see.” I think that hasn’t come out. I think it is a little bit too early in the day for us to see things one way or the other, but given the volatility in the market and its impacts in the lives of ordinary Nigerians, this government’s intentions need to be properly articulated, otherwise people are going to get very despondent sooner or later despite the good intentions. I think on balance, there is very little anybody can do except to prepare for the next election and to strategically figure out how to engage the government. In the area of policy, there needs to be a much clearer articulation of what government intentions are. We need to have an idea of how long this ‘suffering’ is going to last, what are we to expect, when and how? I think these are the critical issues.

Don’t you think saying six months is early is lowering the standard because some will argue that six months are enough to outline a roadmap and start to show signs?

 As a metaphor, it can’t be better than when you get into a plane and when the plane is about to land, the cabin crew tells you to be careful when opening the lockers because items may have shifted during flight, and as a result, items could fall and cause injury when the locker is opened. What I am saying is that Tinubu had over 20 years of intense preparation for this, but the process of team selection in Nigeria creates its own problems. The idea that a Nigerian President must choose 40 or 42 ministers, and, as you saw in the administration, you have to go back to beg the governors who say they gave you the election. I feel sorry for a Nigerian President because elsewhere, you will be dealing with Curriculum Vitae and letters that have been generated over a period of time.

A Nigerian President should spend a lot of time looking at the best person to run a ministry so that he would literally hit the ground running, but I think that the structure is so self-constraining. I am not making excuses for anybody and I am just saying the very fact that you have to rely on governors to give you the names of ministers and you rely on external agencies to be able to do things that ordinarily, you, composing the team, need to be able to do. The coach decides the players to play no matter how good they are and the coach decides who comes in at what time depending on the skills that the person has.

I agree that by now, one would have thought this is what we want to do, this is who can do it and this is how it needs to be done. As I said, the best solution to this is for us to continue to harass those in power. If you stand up to be elected and get elected, you must be prepared to face the consequences of that election and that means we must constantly hold your feet to the fire. That is why I am saying institutions and instruments of engagement must be in full blast. Also, we must help to clarify public policy by articulating the things that need to be done and where the country needs to be heading. These are the kind of things that, ordinarily, policy institutes, independent think-tanks should also be doing, but it depends on if the government sees power as something that our party has won and nobody can tell us what to do, then it becomes a tragedy and a farce. It is really a question as the title of a book suggests: ‘How Do You Create a Team of Rivals.’ That is, even from those that contested against you, now that the contests are over, who can best help us do XYZ?

Six months later, do you miss your old friends, President Muhammadu Buhari and Femi Adesina, who used to respond to some of your statements at that time? And what is your take on the conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas?

 President Buhari has served his time and I respect that he also knew that there was nothing I was saying that was personal. I imagined Adesina and his team had a job to do and they needed to do that job. I would expect and I hope that Pastor Adesina knows that there is a Foursquare Gospel Church in Daura and I believe that the President of Foursquare should send him there as a pastor so that he is quite close to his godfather. Having said that, I mean President Buhari has finished his term and there is very little else to be said for or against the administration. Everybody had a job to do, there was nothing I said about Buhari that was personal or disrespectful. I am shocked to hear the kind of things that people are saying about those who served in that administration.

But, that is talk for another day. On the issue around the Middle East, it is one of the greatest tragedies in human history. Nobody imagined that we would be where we are today and I don’t know how this is going to be reversed. I have gone to watch tapes and read up stuff about things that had happened right through from 1917. It is an area in which I have been very much interested. I came up with a proposal and I set up a team for example. I listed Obama, Mary Robinson and President Obasanjo. For me, that body was not supposed to be dealing with the issues of what to say to Netanyahu. No. It was just to ensure that traffic continues to flow as far as human life and survival is concerned and that the corridors that have been created are effectively and efficiently managed. As you can see and you have heard so far, that is really not the case.

Going forward, I think it must be clear to everybody, even Netanyahu, that his days are numbered politically, but I think most importantly, you cannot move forward or go backward in any sense of seeking justice if you are not going to talk about the creation of a state for the Palestinians.

Again, to say that is to say the Palestinians must also look back at the terrible and horrible mistakes that they have made, the opportunities that they weren’t able to take after Oslo One and Oslo Two and even looking back to the elections in 2006. What if Hamas had been allowed to take over power? Worse case scenario, Hamas would be wearing suits and become statesmen. Maybe the conversation would have been different. I think going forward, I don’t know how this genie will be put back in the bottle, but we are set for a very long painful and troubling road and my heart goes out every blessed day and every morning to the people of Palestine and the tragedy that has afflicted them. Of course, we hope that it is in their good interest that those who can should help to release the hostages, so that Netanyahu will have no more reason to continue in this wild goose chase.

 Hypothetically, what would you call justice in the Middle East? You served in the famous Oputa Panel where many of today’s political actors sought justice for the ills perpetrated against them. As someone who has seen it all, what would you say about the actions of the same people in recent years?

 One day, Moshe Dayan, the former Israeli Chief of Defence who had a patch on his eyes, was asked how it felt like being the leader of the most powerful army in the world with just one eye. He said for all that there is to see in this evil world, one eye is enough. I have seen a lot, there is no doubt about that. When I finished the Oputa Panel, I wrote a book that was 650 pages and people said nobody was going to read it, so I cut it down to over 400 pages. The good news is that almost everybody who has read it said once they started reading, they couldn’t stop. I have tried to tell my own story as I experienced them. The new book I have written is ‘Witness to Reconciliation’ which is about my work in Ogoniland. We have got selective memories. Nigerians choose to remember what they want to remember, how they want to remember and when they want to remember. We are the ones who go out to vote for these people. Remember during the Oputa Panel, people said the panel was set up by President Obasanjo purely to get even with Babangida, General Abdulsalami, Buhari and so on and so forth. As I said, I took trips and spoke with each and every one of these generals. Remember the same Nigerian media and civil society were shouting that none of these people must be allowed to participate in the political life of Nigerians. In the same Nigeria, Buhari didn’t stage a coup, he was elected. Please let us not outsource our sins to other parties, we are the ones committing the sins ourselves and we are the ones to repent.

The second point is that elites, civil society and the media very often resort to one liners, they don’t even read the summary of these reports. When I was in Oxford for some time, universities invited me to come and speak about the Oputa Panel, and I often joked that here in Nigeria, I don’t remember any university telling me to come and talk about what happened at Oputa Panel. We have a shortage of memory and it is so selective. For me, it is our business. Like the late Dele Giwa would say, it is the business of the government to hide secrets, (but) it is our business as media people to find those secrets. If people stand up for election, it is left for us to design a programme of public scrutiny. This is the responsibility that we have as media, intellectuals to remind people of such short memories that there are consequences for forgetting so quickly. It is little wonder that the sins of yesterday are repeating themselves and they are actually growing in magnitude.

On justice, Justice Oputa from whom I learnt so much used to say justice is a three-way street – justice for the perpetrator, the victim and society. Jokingly, I said to Justice Oputa one day, ‘can I make an amendment to your concept of justice? I think there should be another way, which is a four-way street – justice for the perpetrator, victim, larger society and justice before God.’ What constitutes justice to one person is injustice to another, but there has to be an aggregate of sentiments that says an environment was created for me to thrive only that I just didn’t make it. You go back and read Peter Obi’s statement, which is really exceptional in its content. There is no animosity, there is just clarity of thought to say this is the road not taken, but these are the consequences, and we must continue to renew ourselves. I am happy that this process went all the way to the Supreme Court as it has always been the case. The challenge now is what can we gather from the crime scene in order to make sure that we don’t repeat the same mistake? If we can do that, we would have justice not just for the political class, but even for ordinary Nigerians.

When ordinary people feel that if you do this, this is what the outcome is going to be. Someone else’s justice is another person’s injustice. For Netanyahu for example, justice might be, let’s get back our captives. For me, I think that the Egyptians, Russians and the Chinese need to lean very strongly on Hamas and those who know them to make sure that these people are released because if they are released, it will be difficult for Netanyahu to find something else to do. Netanyahu will probably be thrown off the ship as new elections will be conducted and a condition might then be created by which this kind of conversation can be heard.

•    Interview first aired on Arise News

(Vanguard)

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Tension doused as APC, NNPP supporters suspend planned protest in Kano

Some supporters of the All Progressives Congress, APC and New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP who planned to stage a protest in the ancient city of Kano on Saturday shelved the protest.

It was gathered that the supporters had planned to stage street protests on Friday 24th and Saturday, 25th November 2023 against the Kano State Governorship Appeal Court’s verdict.

Our correspondent, who monitored the situation in the state gathered that none of the protesters embarked on any form of protest in the state.

Our correspondent also observed the heavy presence of security deployed in strategic areas of the state to avoid a breakdown of law and order.

Meanwhile, officials of the political parties have disassociated themselves from the planned protest as they said they were not aware of the arrangement.

The NNPP party chairman in Kano, Hamisu Dungurawa said they were not aware and not party to any riot or protest in the state.

“We are the govt, we are in charge of security, we don’t have anything to harm the state because we don’t have any other place other than Kano. Our governor is peace-loving and law-abiding. You can see how the Governor is busy providing palliatives to ease lives, the health among others.

“We are doing everything to ensure the state is safe and calm,” Dungurawa said.

On the other hand, an official of the All Progressives Congress, APC said the police had banned the protest.

Efforts to reach the State Public Relations Officer, All Progressives Congress, Ahmad Aruwa failed as he could not be reached.

However, the spokesperson of the Kano State Police Command, SP Abdullahi Haruna commended the organizers of the planned protest and supporters of the political parties for heeding to warning by the police not to embark on street protest that could trigger violence in the state.

SP Haruna said the police have embarked on rigorous patrol raid of hide out and visibility policing will continue throughout the state to ensure a serene atmosphere for all.

He also said the police will not relent in maintaining the momentum to ensure the safety of lives and properties of the residents in the state.

(Vanguard)

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Bandits on the rampage, kill 11 in Taraba, abduct over 100 in Zamfara

Terrorists led by one of their kingpins, Damina, have attacked some villages in Zamfara State, kidnapping over 100 villagers just as 11 persons were killed in Taraba State by suspected bandits.

The terrorists stormed Mutunji community, Friday, killing a local and abducting their victims including women and children.

It was learnt that the bandits had imposed over N100 million-levy on farmers before they would be allowed to access their farms.

The incidents were said to have taken place at Mutunji, Unguwar Kawo, Kwantar Dutsi and Sabon Garin Mahuta in Dansadau axis where Damina operates.

A local source told BBC Hausa the gang leader led his men on motorcycles and surrounded the community a few minutes after the dusk prayer at 8:00 p.m.
According to him, “we were sitting in a place called Yar Kasuwa after the Isha’i prayers when the terrorists stormed the community. They surrounded the community while others drove into the community centre. We began running but it was already too late. They matched people into the forest. Men, women and children were abducted.”

Another source also said,”They attacked other communities including Unguwar Kawo, Kwanar Dutsi and Sabon Garin Mahuta and took away several people. We’ve at least 100 people taken. We’re still counting to ascertain the true number of those taken.”

The source said Damina attacked Mutunji because the village failed to give him N50 million he asked them to pay as compensation for “informing soldiers” of bandits’ movements.
The kingpin was said to have given the residents a week to gather the money but the source said they couldn’t gather it.

“We were trying to gather the money reaching out to people when he,Damina, decided to strike.
“He had also imposed such levy on the other communities. Kwana residents were asked to pay N30 million, people of Sabon Garin Mahuta were asked to gather N20 million while residents of Unguwar Kawo were asked to pay N10 million,” he said.

Police spokesperson in the state, Yazid Abubakar, did not respond to calls on his mobile phone.
Meanwhile, when contacted, the spokesperson for 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Lt.Col Musa Yahaya, said the area is under the 8 Division of the Nigerian Army.
Similarly, rampaging bandits attacked communities in Yangtu and Ussa Local Government Areas ,LGAs, of Taraba State, killing 11 people. The attacks, which happened Friday, resulted in the death of nine people in some communities in Yangtu Special Development Area and two others in Tukwog community along Takum-Manya Road.

The Chairman of Ussa Local Government Area, Peter Shamwun, who confirmed the development, raised the alarm that the bandits have laid siege to Takum-Ussa Road, threatening more lives.
A survivor, Yakubu Tinya, who spoke to newsmen, said the attackers came in numbers, shooting sporadically.

The spokesman for Taraba State Police Command, Superintendent of Police, Abdullahi Usman, also confirmed the report.

He further said a joint patrol of the police and military were patrolling to forestall further attacks.
In a related development, Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum, called on North-East governors to collaborate in order to overcome insecurity in the region.

Reacting to the incident, Taraba State governor, Dr. Agbu Kefas, condoled with the families of victims and communities in Yangtu and Ussa LGAs.

A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Digital Communications, Emmanuel Bello, urged security agencies to ensure terrorists are defeated in affected areas. The statement said:” He, Governor Kefas, has promptly directed the Deputy Governor and top security heads to visit the troubled area to seek lasting solutions.

“He said he would not tolerate the threats to lives to continue under his watch. Consequently, Kefas noted that he was doing everything humanly possible to bring an end to such carnage in the state .”
Speaking during a meeting of North-East governors aimed at addressing challenges in the area in Yola, Zulum stressed the need for renewed commitment in the fight against insecurity, poverty, and underdevelopment in the area. He further urged federal government to lend support to the region in addressing key issues such as the poor state of roads, the lack of functional rail lines, and underutilisation of waterways.

(Vanguard)

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