Nigeria's elected President, Governors must be graduates as from 2011 as Senate, Reps amend 1999 Constitution

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Written by Idowu Samuel, Taiwo Adisa and Ayodele Adesanmi, Abuja

The Nigeria Senate and the House of Representatives, on Thursday, respectively endorsed the Constitution Amendment Report by the (House) Committee on Constitution Review and passed into law, the electoral reform aspect of the constitution amendment bill.

While there were points of convergence in the Thursday resolutions of the two chambers, there were equally points of differences.

As an instance, the two chambers differed on the issue of cross-carpeting. While the House outlawed it, the Senate endorsed it.

The report on constitution amendment presented to the plenary session by the Deputy Speaker, Honourable Usman Nafada, outlawed defection by political office holders, while allowing independent candidacy.

According to the amendments, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly had been granted financial autonomy, as they would now be paid directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federation and states.

The approved report also indicated that to become president, vice-president, governor, deputy governor and member of the National Assembly, candidates must possess a degree from a recognised tertiary institution, just as it also indicated that a member of the National Assembly who had served before could contest, even without being a graduate.

An executive summary of the report, which was made available to the Nigerian Tribune, indicated that sections 65, 106, 131 and 171 of the 1999 Constitution was amended to accommodate independent candidacy.

Also, sections 68, 109, 135 and 180 of the constitution was amended to deal with defection, thus making a defector to automatically lose his seat.

According to the amended sections, where a person elected on the ticket of a political party decided to join another political party without evidence of a merger or factions in his former political party, he would vacate his seat.

The amended portion of the constitution also specified that where a person who was elected as an independent candidate became a member of a political party before the expiration of the period of his tenure of office, he would vacate his seat.

Any political office holder who was expelled by his political party, according to the amendment, would retain his seat only if he refrained from joining another political party when his tenure was still on.

Sections 81 and 121 so amended made provisions for inclusion of INEC, National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly for payment in the consolidated revenue fund of the federation and the states.

According to the proposed amendment, section 65, 131 and 177 had been altered to encourage a certain level of academic qualification among contestants into the office of president, vice-president, governors, deputy governors and member of National Assembly, such that contestants for the offices would need to possess a minimum of tertiary institution level or its equivalent, while obtaining relevant certificates of service as a member of the National Assembly for a complete tenure.

Sections 145 and 190 dealt with the periods of election in which a maximum of 60 days to a minimum of 30 days were required before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of the office to a minimum of 120 days and a maximum of 150 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of that office.

The report also recommended relevant sections of the Nigeria’s electoral law to accommodate the alterations and adjustments made in the 1999 Constitution.

Also, on Thursday, the Senate passed the electoral reform aspect of the constitution amendment bill into law, with the approval for a change in the time for holding general election which could see the next election holding between January and March 2011.

The senators had voted in favour of the amendment of all the clauses of the electoral reform bill on Wednesday, but they deferred the passage of the bill for the third and final reading because of the discovery of the omission of Section 109 and errors on other aspects of the bill.

The Senate thus directed that the errors be corrected and the bill represented for final passage on Thursday.

The bill passed by the Senate indicated that general election would hold, not earlier than 150 days before the expiration of the term of office of the office holder and not later than 90 days before the expiration of the tenure.

Another feature of the bill is the approval of the nominees for resident electoral commissioners (RECs) by the Senate, which were, before now, appointed by the president.

The senators, also on Thursday, approved the missing Section 109 of the constitution to pave the way for cross carpeting by members of the Houses of Assembly.

It was also approved that anyone who would seek elective office must be a university graduate or its equivalent, besides that he must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth, attained the age of 40 years and sponsored by a political  party of which he is a member.

The amendments also provided time frames for the disposal of election petitions before the swearing in a and general conduct of elections.


Of the Logistician and the Actualizer by Peter Claver Oparah

By Peter Claver Oparah

One calls the other the Logistician while the other calls his friend, the Actualizer. They are friends and have worked together. Between them lies the most mobile, progressive and solid political base in the country at present. Between them lies the massive upgrading Lagos, Nigeria's most influential state, has received in the past eleven years. Between them exists a rich coterie of associates, political colleagues and savants and between them lies the very hope for the resurgence of progressive politics in the country.
The Logistician is very versed in the art of politics. He was a huge success also in government. He is a great thicker and a strategic egg head when it comes to issues of politics and power. He compliments these attributes with a very deep pouch of human feeling and these have worked to generate for him so many friends across the country. He reserves a deep pouch of friends and lives for the people, a consummate man of the people who invests so much on building enduring bridges of fellowship with people. He is revered and respected and at the same time loathed and feared in the murky terrain of Nigerian politics. He is fearless and is bristling with guts with which he pokes ceaselessly and tugs at the soft underbellies of the regressing conservative politicians that want the country served them for dinner.

On the other hand, the Actualizer is a safe effacing, very efficient and brilliant worker. Plain and sincere, he feels awkward on the political terrain but proves clinically efficient in governance. He has an honest, simple and easy going approach to statecraft and this has rubbed off so well on Lagos that the state has become a lone oasis in the widening valley of despair, which the country has turned out to be. He leaves you in no doubt of his intention to do good and sometimes ruffle feathers in reaching to an end. He will choose to be a worker than a politician and has proved very inept in imbibing the weird ways of politics in Nigeria. He leaves the politics to the Logistician and this symbiotic union has tremendously worked well for Lagos in the past couple of years.

When the Logistician nominated the Actualizer for the job of governing Lagos, hell was let loose as he surprised not only the legion that looked up to him for accreditation for the job but also the beneficiary himself. The Logistician fangled out the mantra of 'The Best Man for the Job' to sell the Actualizer and that stuck in the gritty campaign for who will bear the burden of taking Lagos to the next level from where the Logistician took it. In pitching his tent with that dark horse, which the Actualizer was at the time of nomination, the Logistician spared nothing in promoting his candidacy. He faced a tough challenge from the riotous lot that was displaced to accommodate the virgin candidacy of the Actualizer. He offered himself as a body shield against erstwhile colleagues and friends who fired countless darts on him for picking the Actualizer over and above them.

It would have been really disastrous if the Actulaizer did not justify the trust reposed on him by the Logistician. If he never did, he would have succeeded in burying himself and his promoter. He made those that stuck their necks for him, even when it was a risky enterprise, walk tall with the stellar performance he unleashed on Lagos. He made his benefactor, the Logistician walk with a gait and it wasn't long before the nay sayers became converts to the wonderful achievements of the Actualizer. So from the lone endorsement of the Actualizer by the Logistician, millions of Lagosians began to rightly claim their governor as their own and the best thing to happen to this dysfunctional democracy. Before long, Nigerians, scorched and parched from lengthy period of arid leadership, warmed up to the poster boy of achievement and the Actualizer became an unputdownable brand everyone wants to identify with. In this state, it was even difficult to acknowledge the brillian

 t performance of the Logistician, who cleared the way, tilled the soil, prepared the ground, laid the foundation and started building the new Lagos as we know it today.

Among the admirers of the Actualizer were those that wanted to sow dread and mischief so as to arrest the symbiotic union from which Lagos is benefitting. They helmed into the unwieldy club of fans and admirers and they know that the greatest way to promote their cause was to cut through the iron-clad relationship between him and the Logistician. On the Logistician's side, gathered those that have the primary intent to cause discord between him and the Actualizer. They heckled him and told him that the Actualizer cannot exist without him and he must therefore tighten his grips on the Actulaizer. In this fuzzy state, enough room was created for friction between the two. It was a matter of time before the bubble bursts and the two allegedly became suspicious of each other. Some other extraneous factors came in though but those are firearms for those that deign the complete ruination of the good rapport between the Logistician and the Actualizer as the needed elixir for the rejuvenation of their sagging political fortunes.

So what is happening between the Logistician and the Actualizer now is preventable and I firmly believe it would be arrested before it works to the full satiation of the interlopers that want to cash in from it. I have been very emphatic that the quarrel is normal but would soon boil over and that Lagos and the entire crust of the embattled Nigerian progressives would be the better for it. I believe that any fight between the Actualizer and the Logistician will only work towards strengthening the conservative clique that has messed up all of us. I had also expressed the firm belief that such battle would be arrested before it does great damage because the casualty is neither the Logistician nor the Actualizer or even the people that have spared on their respective sides but the Nigerian polity that faces an excruciating challenge from the stranglehold of the reactionary forces that have digging deep to take

The fact remains that a fight between the Logistician and the Actualizer would not be an ordinary fight. This is because the enemies are not well marked out, the battle line is blurred and the casualties would be the common acquaintances of both of them and indeed all Nigerians who look up to them for strength in these awful times. Their friends are the same, so also are their colleagues, acquaintances and admirers. They fight the same noble cause and share the same belief. They have the same enemies and these include those that have warmed their ways into their respective hearts for the purpose of causing division among them. These are interlopers and dancers of fortune and both the Logistician and the Actualizer should pick them and ostracize them. They have only one intention and such intention will never elevate both of them, their friends and admirers but would inflate the fortunes of their enemies. I know that both of them are very intelligent and suave politicians and certainly will realize this fact. I know they will not take this spat on their friendship too far and they will know when to rein in their turks and sound the bugle for the end of a needless war.

So far, they have done brilliantly in managing the problem between them but they need to do more and prevent such frictions in the future. They have to iron out their differences and ensure that from the frosty present, they navigate to a smoother future not only for them but for Lagosians and indeed all Nigerians. Both are very relevant to Lagos, to Nigeria and to the cause they believe in. Again and again, I insist the Logistician and the Actualizer will not tear themselves in the market place to please the raunchy permutations of their envious political opponents. I am sorry for those who saw the bright spots for their weary political fortunes in the division between the Logistician and the Actualizer. They will be utterly disappointed because the two will certainly know that what binds them together is far stronger than what divides them. I hope that in a matter of days, this storm will sweep by, the waters will still and everything will come back to normal, if it hasn't yet.

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Between Tinubu and Fashola by Dele Momodu

Between Tinubu and Fashola

Pendulum By Dele Momodu

If you ask Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu if he’s fighting his godson, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola(SAN), the answer will definitely be a capital NO. And if you ask the godson if there is a major rift between him and his godfather, he would certainly blame the “rumour” on some imaginary enemies. But if the truth must be told, Asiwaju Tinubu and his warmongers are about to tear their own man, the Governor of Lagos State into shreds in the market place. I have met people who are close to both camps who have boasted that the Lagos State Governor would not be impeached but he would be taught a lesson in “how not to bite a finger that feeds you.” The idea is to pummel him so much that his dream of a second term in office will become a mirage.  Except God intervenes and enters their hearts, they will try everything possible to achieve their mission.

 I have no doubts in my mind that they have the capabilities to destroy their own candidate. My theory is very simple, the same white man who made the pencil made the eraser. If a man can make anything, then it is possible for him to destroy it. But why would any man attempt to destroy his own creation? What offence would warrant the determination of a father to ruin his own child? The answer eludes me. The on-going battle for the soul of Alausa Government House in Lagos is of tragic proportions. I’m worried because of the danger the Alausa battle portends for the rest of Nigeria. Going for the jugular of Lagos is like cutting the throat of Nigeria.

 We’ve witnessed such wars of big egos in the West before. Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola fought themselves to their graves. Why do old friends turn against themselves to become such rabid foes? Why is it so difficult for brothers and their wives to enter their bedrooms and settle their differences away from the gaze of man but in the presence of God?

Depending on whom you ask, Governor Fashola is seen as a traitor and ingrate on the other side of the fence. He had no chance of ever being a governor until his godfather forced him on the Action Congress, the tale-bearers would claim. Tinubu single-handedly funded the campaign and succeeded in fighting PDP to a standstill.

The one common denominator that rings most stridently from Fashola’s accusers is that he has not paid Tinubu enough returns on his huge investments. They hate him for what they see as ivory tower arrogance. He’s alleged to be selfish and inaccessible. His supposed disdain for politicians seems to enrage the group to no end. Some of the allegations are dripping with venom. Fashola’s popularity as an achiever makes them even angrier. In their view, everything was conceptualised at the level of Tinubu’s ingenuity. They’ve gone to great lengths and incredible extent to lampoon Fashola’s glory as an over-bloated creation of paid spin-doctors.

On the other hand, there are those who would argue that Tinubu as a benefactor should not seek to turn Fashola into his slave or robot. Whatever money Tinubu claimed to have spent came from the coffers of Lagos where he made huge profits from a robust tax collection. Why is Tinubu always seen at most functions with Fashola, as if the agreement was that the Governor Emeritus would continue to rule Lagos by proxy? Why can’t Tinubu leave the Governor alone to become his own man and carry his own cross? The war drums are sounding everywhere.

I have been a great fan and disciple of Tinubu since our days in exile. I have seen him go through some ups and downs of life. He’s an exceptionally generous and energetic leader. He’s also a very consummate politician who understands the uses of power. I will call him a gambler of sorts because at the time he brought out Fashola, the move turned out to be a masterstroke. No matter Fashola’s mistakes today, I join well-meaning stakeholders in appealing to Tinubu to embrace the hardworking Governor warts and all. He should be proud that he did not bequeath a liability on Lagos.

Even members of the ruling party have been praising the promising moves of Fashola in Lagos. Tinubu should listen to the war drums, but he must never dance to it. War never gives birth to a beautiful child. It won’t be any big news if Tinubu defeats Fashola. But it would be a bigger headline if the unthinkable happens, and Fashola pulls an upset. As Thomas Paine explained in his essay on miracles, it would have been a bigger miracle if Jonah had swallowed the whale.

Such is politics. It is like a game of football. Anything can happen in 90 minutes. And the devil you know is always better than the ones pretending to be your friends today. I trust Tinubu to know better. A father must never use his hands to kill his own son. My advice is out of profound love for both great men.


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Of the Logistician and the Actualizer by Peter Claver Oparah

Jonathan’s Ministerial Blues by Dele Momodu

Pendulum By Dele Momodu

I’m now finally convinced that there is a curse on Nigeria. And all men and women of good conscience should henceforth direct their prayer points at the many hopeless warlords who litter the political landscape of Nigeria. Holy Ghost fire should descend urgently on those who would never work for the badly-needed progress of Nigeria. Muslim and Christians, and possibly animists, alike should form an alliance of prayer-warriors so that God can exorcise the genies that have tirelessly militated against the general wellbeing of Nigeria and Nigerians.

Please, don’t treat this as a joke. Our situation is that desperate. It is now very obvious that this brood of vipers will never change their ways. It is cocksure that these septuagenarians and octogenarians are determined to kill Nigeria totally before they head to their graves. Can someone please tell me what these super Nigerians want from us again? These are people who have been in the corridors of power for about 50 years. They were sent to school at public expense. They were trained abroad with our money. They rose sporadically through the ranks unlike their contemporaries in other climes.

They forced themselves on us many times, claiming messianic mission. They bastardised our psyche and wasted our resources with little or no resistance from us. Before our very eyes, a nation of surplus became a nation of minus. In a country with the biggest black population on earth, we have continued to ignominiously recycle a few men and women from a filthy database of less than 1,000 cronies, dynasties, cult members, and housekeepers, most of who come to power with less than impressive credentials.

Is it not tragic that each time we thought we have come close to a resolution of our political gridlock, something always cropped up to set us back? The story of Nigeria is the sad tale of a motherless baby who was sent to live in the home of a witch. Sooner or later, the baby would go the way of the mother. For too long, Nigeria has been kept under the firm grip of political vampires whose only desire in life is to keep us all in bondage. They care not about what becomes of their own children, and many generations to come, after they would have completed their sinful mission on earth. Nigerians must wake up from this narcoleptic state and confront the merciless usurpers and interlopers. These were the same people who connived in 1993 and encouraged General Ibrahim Babangida to shoot down our best presidential election ever without any fear of God or retribution. Why would those who shout patriotism on the rooftops hate their country so much, and denigrate her at every opportunity?

Nigeria’s intractable political crisis is reminiscent of Abiku’s “going and coming these several seasons,” as John Pepper Clarke would have described it.  All the hopes we placed on Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to challenge the status quo, and halt our senseless drift to anarchy, seem to be evaporating slowly but surely. I received the first ominous sign last Sunday night at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos as we prepared to board a flight to Paris. I had come across a very influential member of the ruling party, and after exchanging pleasantries, we drifted to the issue of ministerial appointments. The thought of Jonathan attempting to radicalise governance in Nigeria did not resonate with the obviously conservative party Lord who was flying to a different destination. “We have told him to perish the idea. Nigeria operates a partisan system, and this system produced Jonathan himself. He can’t afford to tamper with it,” he said with a burning conviction.

For a split second, I thought I was suddenly on another Planet, and was confused as to what to make of this postulation. It was difficult to imagine that at this time and age, the overwhelming views of Nigerians did not count in the eyes and minds of members of this privileged class. Most of those visitors to Dr Jonathan’s office and home in the last couple of weeks were said to have fed him with bile instead of sucrose. Fear has been at the centre of their strategy. Nigeria is a cake that must always be shared by a few people who have formed themselves into groupies. The rest of us can go to hell and remain there. The sordid theory is that nothing will happen. Nigerians are too stupid and docile to do anything. They are both right and wrong as we shall discover one day.

I told our man that if I were Dr Jonathan, I will damn the consequence and let the heavens fall. Why would I want to repeat the same things that have repeatedly brought catastrophic results to our land? I will allow the people of Nigeria their few months of glory for a change. It would form my compensation to those who stood by their country when others stood by their long throats. I will line up those faces that the hawks usually hate to see, and make them ministers and special advisers. I will march on the streets and kick the bums of those too lazy to work at my pace. I will demonstrate clearly that governance is no rocket science. I will spend the next twelve months working assiduously on fixing a few of our myriads of challenges as a nation.

The world will hear my name and stand at attention. And my name would be perfectly etched on the golden side of history. The country is not a personal property of anybody. I will call their bluff and savour the pleasure of it. They will come like beggars and shall be so treated. I will shred all the useless CVs they brought to me. I will ask if other Nigerians have no right to serve their country. I will show how unimportant they are in the new scheme of things. If they were such responsible adults, Nigeria would not be in a state of coma today. They must allow the man holding the life-support some fresh air, because the task at hand is not a joke. It cannot be business as usual.

How can one man be allowed to determine the fate of an entire state? The choices we have seen from some states could only have come from people suffering from acute state of dementia. It is an insult on the people of those states, and a big shame on the warped judgment of the godfathers. The true identities of members of the selection teams must be leaked for posterity. Even if Dr Jonathan needed to satisfy the insatiable demands of the garrison commanders, he should have insisted on certain criteria to be met, like age, mental alertness, integrity and reputation, education, achievement in chosen career, acclaim to fame, international exposure, personal development, business acumen, worldview, charisma and general appearance.

Nigeria needs its best outstanding stars available at home and abroad at this critical moment because we are far from where we should be. If we have to revert to the carcass of our past the way we do always, it means we are making a violent revolution inevitable. Nigerians have reached the very limit of endurance tests. They should not be made to snap. Those who think Nigerians can be trampled upon with reckless abandon should go back to the history books. Once upon a time, there was slave trade. There was racial prejudice of the worst kind in the United States of America.

The Berlin Wall divided Germany along the lines of atrocious hatred. South Africa suffered the worst form of apartheid known to mankind. The Irish Republic engaged in a self-immolating war of attrition. Hitler attempted to rule the world. The holocaust sought to wipe out the Jews from the surface of the earth. So many other things touched the soul of our universe. But nothing lasts forever. Our collective madness must end someday, one way or the other, but perhaps with cataclysmic dimensions.


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Jonathan’s Cabinet Choices

Jonathan’s Cabinet Choices by Reuben Abati

Written by Reuben Abati

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet choices, as represented by the 33 names that he has already sent to the Senate for screening and confirmation sends a clear message about his own politics and ambitions: the Ministerial list has nothing to do with public interest or the delivery of democracy dividends in the remaining 13 months; it is all about Jonathan’s attempt to consolidate his hold on power, here is a man who is ambitious for power and wants to survive politically by all means.

 Before eight additional names were added to the initial 25 that were forwarded to the Senate, it looked as if Jonathan wanted to bring a few professionals on board in addition to his own loyalists. But by the time the number of nominees increased to 33, a much clearer picture had emerged: divided in terms of the background of the nominees, there are far more politicians on the list of 33 than professionals or technocrats. In real terms what are we dealing with? Given the choices that he has made, it is unmistakable that President Goodluck Jonathan is effectively distancing himself from his boss and trying to take charge of power. His advisers seem to be telling him that the best option is to launch a Jonathan Presidency. Somewhere in the corridors of power, a decision has been taken that the Yar’Adua presidency is effectively over. But was this not what the people wanted when we all demanded Yar’Adua’s resignation and called on Jonathan to be his own man?

 There is however now another Yar’Adua: one Murtala Yar’Adua, a son of the late General Shehu Yar’Adua, former Chief of Army Staff (1976-79), and founder of the PDM political movement, whose political goodwill was one of the factors that brought Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to power in 2007. Murtala Yar’Adua’s nomination is not fortuitous; he is the product of sheer political expediency and an acknowledgment on the part of President Jonathan of the need not to alienate the Yar’Adua clan even while taking over power from his boss. But there are implications. For the Yar’Adua family, a difficult question may have been raised: who is better entitled to the Shehu legacy: his son or his brother? But for the rest of us, we should be concerned about the turning of the power corridor into a space for the creation of dynasties by those who are pursuing expedient political objectives. Must the Yar’Aduas be in power by this means or the other? I sympathise with Murtala Yar’Adua: no matter how competent he may be, the popular perception is that he is being made a Minister because he is a useful pawn in a grand power game.

 There is also a Josephine Anenih on the list. She is a women’s leader of the ruling PDP and wife (some say former wife, but she still bears his name) of the PDP strongman, Chief Anthony Anenih. She may deserve high office in her own right, and it may well be true as is being peddled around that she and her spouse are estranged, but the truth is that by her appointment, the Anenih brand and identity have been brought again to public consciousness. The cleverness behind this should also not be discountenanced: Chief Anthony Anenih gets his name back into reckoning at a time when he seems to be losing out heavily in Edo state, his constituency. Nine Ministers have been retained from the old Yar’Adua team but these are the nine Ministers who did not show any open fanaticism about either Turai Yar’Adua or her husband in the course of the politics of the latter’s ill-health. All the die-hard Yar’Adua loyalists have been dumped. Dora Akunyili has been rewarded for her courage and loyalty. Senator Bala Mohammed who called for an investigation of President Yar’Adua’s health status on the floor of the Senate is on the list.

 What seems important as the overriding values in these appointments is loyalty and support. Acting President Jonathan has offered us a smart balancing act, a cabinet of compromises that helps him to build a power base of his own; every cabinet in Nigeria is about compromises - afterall the Constitution insists on the reflection of Federal Character in the composition of such bodies, but in the present instance, the compromise is more obvious than the goals, and it is a compromise of survival not Federal Character or service delivery. What is President Jonathan’s own grand plan – beyond his so-called four-point agenda -and how does he hope to address all the urgent social and infrastructural issues that confront the country? This much is not clear from his cabinet choices.

 The emphasis on survival should be underscored. On many occasions in the past, it had been the tradition that state Governors had a strong input into the appointment of Federal Ministers and ambassadors especially where the same political party is in power at both the state and the Federal level. Appointments at the centre were part of a network of political patronage up to the grassroots level, to make governance representative and to create spheres of influence for the Presidency in the states. It is doubtful if the PDP Governors made any strong input into the Jonathan list of Ministers in spite of Governor Namadi Sambo’s claim to the contrary. It will be recalled that it was these same Governors who took the decision recently that the Presidential slot for 2011 will remain in the North, thus ruling out the possibility of Goodluck Jonathan hoping to succeed his boss by exploiting the power of incumbency. By ignoring the Governors (most if not all of them) in compiling his list of Ministers, Jonathan is boldly reminding them of the power and influence of his office. In this regard, Jonathan’s cabinet choices are in part about 2011 and intra-PDP politics.

 The two nominees from Ogun state, former President Obasanjo’s home state, certainly could not have come from Governor Gbenga Daniel. Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye, one of the Ogun nominees, is an arch-rival of Daniel in Ogun politics. Nor are Dora Akunyili and Josephine Anenih, nominees of the Anambra Governor, or Charles Ogiemwonyi a nominee of the Edo Governor, or Yar’Adua of the Katsina Governor or Bala Mohammed, a nominee of the Bauchi governor who happens to be President Yar’Adua’s son-in-law, and so on. It is not impossible that by now, the state Governors who trooped to Abuja with their recommendations and who were tactfully snubbed will be busy analysing the implications of the Jonathan list. Hitherto, Governors as party leaders in the states saw and treated Ministers and lawmakers in Abuja as their own ambassadors at the centre. Jonathan’s attempt to checkmate the Governors and the Yar’Adua group is however a double-edged sword that could result in vicious intra-party wrangling and this in the long run, may not be in President Jonathan’s interest.

 The real question about the Governors and the counter-balance effect of Ministers can only be best understood in terms of who controls the delegates for the 2011 election caucuses.  It is also instructive that a group of Katsina lawmakers this week tried to create a scene at the House of Representatives when they sought to move a motion of urgent national importance with claims that President Umaru Yar’Adua is being marginalised and victimized and that there are plans to withdraw his security aides. President Jonathan may have unwittingly set the stage for the distractions that could further hobble his efforts.

 Two future developments may well further indicate the thinking of the Jonathan Presidency: what the new cabinet when properly constituted does about the Yar’Adua Presidency and what President Jonathan does with the post of the  Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which will become vacant, with the expiration of Professor  Maurice Iwu’s tenure in June, regardless of the silly campaign by a few misguided elements that Iwu’s tenure should be extended. Will the new cabinet take the decision to declare President Yar’Adua incapacitated, a step that the Yar’Adua cabinet could not take and which civil society expects? And whoever Jonathan appoints as INEC chairman, will he not feel obliged to do Jonathan’s bidding in the 2011 elections since the National Assembly has refused to accept the Uwais panel’s recommendation that the position should be fully independent?  There are many grey areas in need of further deconstruction.

 Worth noting is the fact that Dr Jonathan had to visit the Senate President at home before the list of Ministers was forwarded to the Upper House. The Senate has promised a proper screening of the Ministers which is unlikely to happen. More so as the intended portfolios for each nominee were not indicated. In previous exercises, there had always been a strong demand from civil society that the portfolios of intending Ministers should be disclosed to allow public participation in the screening to provide the Senate an opportunity to ask task-specific and knowledge-based questions and to prevent the usual comical display whereby would-be Ministers are asked either irrelevant or stupid questions.

By submitting his list of Ministers in a business-as-usual fashion, Dr Jonathan is not interested in any rigour. By accepting the list, instead of sending it back for the inclusion of intended portfolios, the Senate is also equally complicit in denying Nigerians the benefit of a proper screening. The Jonathan Presidency is faced with three main transitions: a Presidential transition, an electoral transition, and a policy transition: reducing all three to the politics of expediency is bound to further foul up the political space. The argument that a near end of term cabinet that is likely to become lame-duck in a matter of  months is not meant to deliver any service is an abuse of privilege, and we can only hope that this is not the sub-text for the absence of rigour.

 The present situation is unfortunate considering the fact that the dissolution of the Yar’Adua cabinet was a popular move. Nigerians were fed up with that morally conflicted cabinet which, when confronted with the truth about Yar’Adua’s ill-health, failed to act honourably. Its dismissal could have given Dr. Jonathan a good opportunity to make a strong statement about change, solidarity and progress at once. But he failed to act decisively ab initio by delaying the announcement of his list of Ministers, even now six states are yet to be represented in the list. No one should be optimistic that the Jonathan cabinet will make any difference in the social and development issues that affect the people in the remaining 13 months before the next change of government, compromised as it is by the politics of its composition and Jonathan’s own ambitions. In the long run, replacing a Yar’Adua cabal with a Jonathan cabal (comprising mainly influential retired Generals) serves the same narrow interests that have held Nigeria down since independence, and can only trigger a deadly struggle for power and control. The season of the people’s liberation appears to have once again been postponed.

Source: Nigerian Guardian Newspaper

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Jonathan’s Ministerial Blues by Dele Momodu

Fredrick Akpowene Aseroma, Nollywood actor, accused of beating wife silly


 By Peter Nkanga

A Nollywood actor, Fredrick Akpowene Aseroma, was on Friday, March 26, 2010, arrested and detained at the Ojodu-Abiodun Police Division, Ogun State Command, over allegations of beating his wife, Blessing Aseroma, who he has been married to for 10 years.

Mr. Aseroma, 40, along with his younger brother, Temotighe, 30, was detained after they both allegedly tried to strangle Mrs. Aseroma, 38, bruised her arm and almost stripped her naked because she reported them to a non-governmental women’s rights organisation, Project Alert.

Can’t take it anymore

“I went to Project Alert on Wednesday (March 24) because that same morning, they both beat me until the neighbours intervened. What caused it then was that our children have been out of school because of non-payment of school fees,” Mrs. Aseroma said.

The wife, who has three children for Mr. Aserome, claimed that the husband has always been abusive right from the University of Lagos, where they both schooled.

“Even in school, he had been beating me. But I thought that it would stop and things would change. I don’t know why I tolerated it. I guess because of love I overlooked everything,” said Mrs. Aseroma, a graduate of History.

State of shock

The executive director of Project Alert, Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, said Mrs. Aseroma came to the NGO in a state of shock. She said it was evident that, over the years, the lady had lost her self-esteem, as a result of the physical and psychological abuse suffered.

“We invited her husband to try and resolve the issue, but he refused to come. We have now taken the case up with the police. Her case is a very sad one, and a reminder that women are being abused at an alarming rate. So now it’s about naming and shaming people who violate women,” Mrs. Effah-Chukwuma said.

When NEXT called Mr. Aseroma’s phone number, he picked up, but immediately cut off when asked for his reaction to the allegations of wife battery.



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Yar'Adua fails to show up at the mosque

Ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua failed to appear at the Friday Jumat service in Abuja today, dousing tension in the political and security quarters of the federal capital that he will be ending his four months absence from public space by praying at the National Mosque.

Wide claims that Mr. Yar’Adua will be at the Jumat service caused anxiety among Politicians of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) last night who heard that loyalists of the President planned to bring him to the Friday service today.

A presidency source who wanted to remain anonymous said the plan triggered an urgent security meeting that went into deep hours of the night, the resolution of which was a stern warning to elements of the Yar’Adua inner circle to tread carefully and restrain from plunging the nation into a crisis.

“Ï think a riot act was basically read out to the Yar’Adua team with a cautionary note that they will be held responsible for any security breach in the city and in the country” said the source who refused to read any meaning to the sudden news that the president and his inner team had prepared to appear in public today.

Last night party officials described it as disturbing that the president’s planned re-entry into public life was coming three days before the Senate begins the screening of ministerial nominees on Monday, and a day after the 2010 budget was passed. They also questioned the choice of a religious occasion for Mr. Yar’Adua’s re-emergence in public.

One source said, “if the President would be coming out four months after his absence, it ought not to be at a religious event because that will send the wrong signal.” Mr. Yar’Adua, a Muslim from Kastina State participated in the weekly Jumat service at the National Mosque located at the Central business district in Abuja until his illness kept him from public view.

The ailing President was flown out of the country on the 23rd of November 2009 to Saudi Arabia for a heart condition and has since been out of public view. The issue of Mr. Ya Adua’s appearance became subject of interest last week when two national dailies claimed that plans were afoot for the ailing president to make a public outing this week.


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Yar’Adua to attend Jumat service

Yar’Adua to attend Jumat service

Politicians of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have expressed anxiety over plans by loyalists to ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua to bring him to the Friday Jumat service today.

Party officials said it is disturbing that this is coming three days before the Senate begins the screening of ministerial nominees on Monday. They also question the choice of a religious occasion for Mr. Yar’Adua’s re-emergence in public.

One source said, “if the President would be coming out four months after his absence, it ought not to be at a religious event because that will send the wrong signal.”

Mr. Yar’Adua, a Muslim from Kastina State participated in the weekly Jumat service at the National Mosque located at the Central business district in Abuja until his illness kept him from public view.

The ailing President was flown out of the country on the 23rd of November 2009 to Saudi Arabia for a heart condition and has since been out of public view.

Last week, two national dailies claimed that plans were afoot for the ailing president to make a public outing this week.

Top presidency and PDP officials confirmed to NEXT last night, that the planned outing has being fixed for today’s Friday prayers.

“The idea is to achieve maximum political impact and a religious approval” a PDP official said last night.

The PDP chairman; Vincent Ogbulafor, the speaker; Dimeji Bankole and a few other officials were in a closed-door meeting regarding the development, and the mood at the meeting, a knowledgeable source told NEXT, was “celebratory and bubbling.”

The National Assembly, on the 9th of February, 2010 declared the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as the Acting President based on the ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ because the ailing president failed to hand over the reins of power to his vice before his departure as recommend by the constitution.

After much outcry and protest from civil societies and series of litigations on the lacuna in the nation’s presidency, the ailing president was sneaked into the country in the early hours of 26th of February, 2010, days after his Vice was declared the Acting President

The Acting President dissolved the Cabinet of ministers appointed by the ailing President last week and had just sent a list of Ministerial nominees to the Senate for screening. Mr Yar’Adua’s return to public life could cause uncertainty in the polity.


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Yar'Adua fails to show up at the mosque

Yar’Adua’s Men Cause Stir In Abuja •Parade Villa In Presidential Convoy

Written by Idowu Samuel , Abuja

It is now becoming clearer that family members and aides of ailing President Umaru  Yar’Adua are all out for a psychological warfare against Acting President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in order to frustrate plans by Jonathan to take further major decisions, including reconstituting the cabinet he sacked last week.

The psychological warfare being waged against Jonathan assumed a very funny dimension as they staged a make-believe parade of ailing president around the Presidential Villa on
Thursday to give an impression that Yar’Adua was truly recovering well and may return to his duty posts any moment.

The drama of Yar’Adua’s street parade started in the afternoon of the day when a convoy of cars believed to be Yar’Adua’s started filing slowly from the Presidential Villa, making rigmaroles around major roads within the villa premises in the guise that the ailing President was being driven round as part of the exercise said to have been recommended for him by his doctors.

All the while the convoy was on parade, Senators and members of the House of Representatives, who attempted to leave the National Assembly through the back exit adjacent the Presidential Villa, got the shock of their lives having been held in a thick traffic jam caused by the dummy parade of the president.

Some of the crowd who beheld the strange spectacle told Saturday Tribune that they had earlier been told that Yar’Adua was being taken round for fresh air in a motorcade around the Presidential Villa as part of scheme aimed at making him keep fit before returning to power.

No siren was blown for the convoy of cars, for anyone to believe that the President was indeed being driven round as suggested, although the cars on parade and the nature of security shown around the convoy almost gave the impression that the president could be inside.

Last Friday, speculations were rife also that Yar’Adua would make a brief appearance at the Central Mosque, Abuja, for special prayers preparatory to his returning to his duty posts, thus prompting newsmen to move cameras to the mosque for coverage, but all to no avail as the president failed to turn up as speculated.

A Northern-based newspaper had, during the week, taken the nation aback with a report that Yar’Adua had already overcome his state of health, stating that the president might appear in his office next week.
The newspaper, which quoted a family member of the President, also reported that based on his present state of health, he might not appear until next month.

The same Northern-based newspaper had three weeks earlier similarly reported that Yar’Adua had started walking about within the Presidential Villa, stressing that he had attended to some of his relations, state governors and some of the ministers sacked by the acting president.

It went as far as interviewing one of Yar’Adua’s relations, who claimed to have seen Yar’Adua physically and then engaged him in discussion, as he expressed hope that the president could possibly overcome the trauma of his health by returning to power at a time he deemed convenient.

The shock waves being created around the corridors of power with reports of plans by Yar’Adua to return, from indications, have been coinciding with the period the acting president was about taking major decisions on governmental issues, top of which is now the re-composition of the cabinet he had earlier sacked.

The same scenario had played out at the peak of the heat on Jonathan to sack the cabinet considered to have shown sufficient signs of disloyalty to his authority, as reports started filtering out that Yar’Adua had been jogging round the Presidential Villa, while other news organisations reported that he had been playing games of squash, just to keep fit for return to power.

Speaking with Saturday Tribune on speculations about possible return of Yar’Adua to power, former House of Representatives leader, Honourable Abdul Ningi, said Nigerians, who had been praying for his quick recovery, were indeed eager to have him return to power.

Ningi, however, sounded a note of caution on speculations about his planned return, saying Nigerians should rather wait for the president to really indicate that he had improved tremendously and that he was capable of ruling. Said Ningi, “It is the same government, it is the same Presidency and so if the president has fully recovered and is now willing to take back his power, he is most welcome. The truth of the matter is that we should avoid these kind of speculations while leaving every decision for the president to take, because ‘seeing is believing’”

The Deputy Minority Whip of the House, Honourable Sulaiman Kawu, echoed the same view when he said much as Yar’Adua’s return would do Nigeria good, it would be pertinent to allow him return on his volition, and not through speculations which, according to him, were needless

Tolu Maintain’s lost Wife to jaundice

Friday, March 26, 2010

                                                                     Tolu Ogunniyi

Tolu’s wife, Funmilayo Aderonke Ogunniyi, who married to Tolu Ogunniyi in January 2008, passed on early this morning at the University College Hospital, Ibadan.

Report indicates that she had been sick earlier, but she later recuperated from the ailment. Funmilayo complained that she was not feeling well, and she was taken to UCH by a family member. Mrs. Funmilayo Aderonke Ogunniyi was pronounced a death at UCH this morning. The cause of her death was determined to be jaundice

                                                        Funmilayo Aderonke Ogunniyi

Mrs. Funmilayo Aderonke Ogunniyi is survived by her husband, Tolu Ogunniyi and  her two year-old son, Bukunmi Ogunniyi.

Kanu: Triumph of a Soccer King

by Isioma Madike

The protracted off-form problem appeared as a stumbling block to Nigeria’s international captain, Nwankwo Kanu, who has been consigned to warming the bench of Portsmouth football club of England for the better part of this season. But, the two time African footballer of the year seems to have seized the tide, and his late season form is exciting all that loves the round leather game.

However, the leggy player, it seems, has invigorated his knack for scoring goals. This fact was evident on Saturday, March 20, when his 89th minute dramatic winning goal sank hard-fighting Hull city. Kanu’s scintillating strike was all that the Pompey fans needed to smile again, especially at a time of adversity that has seen the club sitting pretty unchallenged at the bottom of the English premier league table.

Before the Fratton Park display, Kanu, who, some football enthusiasts had laid aside for the archives, had played himself into the hearts of other soccer devotees with his deft touches on the ball that caused nuisance to goal keepers in England. A football commentator had, for instance, described him as the heart of the Pompey’s new vigour, to describe his astounding display that had seen him scoring three beautiful goals in three matches.

Yet, Kanu, who is aiming at firing his club to another FA Cup final, appears not to be selfish in taking the credit as he shares same with club colleagues. “You can see the fans have come to support the club they love. So, you have to give them something back,” he stated.

His club manager, Avram Grant, who hailed Kanu as an Ambassador for the premier league, insists his club Jewel is as good as any other Eagles aiming to perch at the world cup finals in South Africa. “Kanu is not running as fast as before and his is not in the physical condition of before. He’s not young any more.

“But, he is clever. His movements for his goals were unbelievable; he was always at the right place at the right time. I think he can still play active soccer for two more years,” Grant remarked.

In spite of all these, however, Super Eagles technical adviser and former national team coach of Sweden, Lars Lagerback, seemed to have made up his mind on Kanu and his likes. He was quoted recently as shopping for a new captain and younger players to replace “some tired legs of Eagles” so as to fly unhindered in South Africa.

To former Super Eagles assistant coach and Nigeria’s goalkeeper in the 1970s, Joe Erico, “world cup is not a place to build a new team. It is the ultimate where countries showcase what they have over the years and you need the experience of the Kanus of this world to make appreciable impact in such global fiesta.

“Kanu has been particularly wonderful of late; to me, he is still relevant because of the psychological strength his inclusion would add to the team. Unfortunately, we don’t appreciate experience in Nigeria. But, it’s all discretional. The coach has the final say in selecting players he believes would deliver for him,” Erico said.

A decade ago, Kanu’s career was punctured before it began, when he was diagnosed with a faulty valve. Surgery gave him a second chance and inspired him to use his fame to save lives by setting up the Kanu Heart Foundation. His charity exists specifically to help children as more than 1000 African kids have benefited from his milk heart.

He has played for great European clubs like Ajax of Amsterdam, Inter Milan of Italy, Arsenal and West Brom, all in the glamorous English premier league. Kanu has all the laurels except the world cup medal to show for his soccer artistry. He is in his early 30s and hails from Arochukwu in Abia State.

Google accused over China censorship

By John Oates

The Chinese government has reacted angrily to Google's decision to stop censoring search engine results in the country.

From last night visitors to found themselves redirected to, based in Hong Kong, and a less-censored selection of search results - more details on the move here. The company has been reconsidering business in China since January, when it accused the Chinese government of backing hacking attacks.

But official Chinese media said the accusation of government support for hackers was groundless and said Google was "politicalizing itself".

An official from the Internet Bureau of the State Council Information Office said: "Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks. This is totally wrong. We're uncompromisingly opposed to the politicization of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts."

An opinion piece on Xihuanet noted that regulation of the internet was a matter for sovereign states - all countries censor aspects of internet content and activity.

It said: "It is unfair for Google to impose its own value and yardsticks on Internet regulation to China, which has its own time-honored tradition, culture and value."

Google has also set up a site to monitor which services are available in mainland China - at the time of writing YouTube and Blogger remain blocked and there are restrictions on Google Docs, Picasa and Groups.

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Google redirects China to uncensored Hong Kong servers.

By Cade Metz in San Francisco

Google has shut down its Chinese search engine,, and is now redirecting site visitors to its Hong Kong-based engine,, where it will provide uncensored search results in simplified Chinese designed specifically for users in mainland China.

The move comes just over two months after the company said it had decided to stop censoring search results in China due in part to an alleged Chinese cyber attack that pilfered unspecified intellectual property from its internal systems. According to Google, a primary goal of the attackers was to access the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, and since exposing the attacks - which also targeted as many as 33 others companies - the web giant has been in discussions with various Chinese government agencies over the matter.

"Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on has been hard," Google chief legal officer David Drummond said Monday in a blog post.

"We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement. We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from is a sensible solution to the challenges we've faced—it's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China."

But Drummond went on to say that although Google believes its new setup is "entirely legal," the company is aware that the Chinese government could block access to its Hong Kong-based services. With this in mind, the company has set up a website here designed to show which Google services are currently available in China and which are not. Drummond says the page will be updated "regularly" each day.

China already blocks access to YouTube, Google's video sharing site.

Google is redirecting Chinese users to Hong Kong-based versions of Google Search, Google News, and Google Images. And as it takes the load from China, will continue to serve Hong Kong-based users as well. The company warns that the increased load from China may cause a slowdown in services or cause them to become completely unavailable at times.

Despite its earlier indications that it may exit China entirely, Drummond said that Google has chosen to stay. It intends to continue its R&D work in the country and maintain its sales operation, though Google says the future of its Chinese sales staff will depend on continued access to

Google first set up shop in China in 2006, but it has struggled to compete with the native search engine Baidu. has a 33 per cent market share, next to Baidu's 63 per cent. Though Google has risked being blocked entirely in the country, this wouldn't be a huge blow to its revenues - at least not in the short term. Estimates put the company's Chinese revenues as one to two per cent of its total income.

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Google stops China censorship, but searches still blocked

Chinese access to websites covering sensitive topics such as Tibet remained blocked on Tuesday despite an announcement from Google that it had stopped censoring its Chinese-language search engine.

The web giant announced Monday that it had stopped filtering results on China-based and was redirecting mainland Chinese users to an uncensored site in Hong Kong -- effectively closing down the mainland site.

Searches of subjects like "Falun Gong" and "June 4" -- referring to the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests in 1989 -- from mainland computers ended with the message: "Internet Explorer cannot display the web page".

Even when a list of results came up for other sensitive key words such as "Tibet riot" and "Amnesty International" not all of the sites could be opened and the response "cannot display the website" again was seen.

Websites of organizations deemed by China's ruling Communist Party to be hostile to the nation -- such as the Epoch Times, Peacehall and groups supporting the Tiananmen Democracy Movement -- were all still blocked.

And popular websites such as Google's video-sharing service YouTube also continued to be inaccessible from Beijing despite the re-routing through

The same searches on from computers in Hong Kong displayed full results -- suggesting that China was itself using its "Great Firewall" of web censorship to keep users from having unfettered Internet access.

Google's action came a little more than two months after the Internet giant said it had been the victim of cyber-attacks originating from China.

"Earlier today we stopped censoring our search services -- Google Search, Google News, and Google Images -- on," Google chief legal officer David Drummond said in a post on the company's official blog.

"Users visiting are now being redirected to, where we are offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong."

China quickly denounced the move, saying Google had "violated its written promise" and was "totally wrong" to stop censoring its Chinese language search engine and to blame Beijing for alleged hacker attacks.

Professor Dora Akunyili and others make Acting President Goodluck Jonathan's ministerial list.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan adds five more names to ministerial list.

 The additional ministerial nominees are:
  1. Dora Akunyili,
  2. Shamsuddeen Usman,
  3. Emmanuel Iheanacho,
  4. Musa Sada and
  5. Prof Sheikh Abdullah

Sharia judge in Kaduna State ban discussions on the amputation of Buba Bello Jangebe.

A curious order emanating from a Sharia judge in Kaduna State is seeking to gag users in a forum launched recently on an amputation case on Facebook and Twitter.

Justice Lawal Muhammed of Magajin Gari Sharia Court in Kaduna has ordered social networking sites - Facebook and Twitter - to stop discussions on the amputation of Buba Bello Jangebe until the determination of the suit instituted by the Association of Muslim Brotherhood of Nigeria.

The restraining order is the first of its kind in Nigeria where a court seeks to interfere in the freedom of interaction and activities of people online. It is not clear how the restraining order would be enforced. But it has been delivered to the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) that opened the discussion on Sharia law and Jangebe on Facebook and Twitter recently.
Court documents obtained by THISDAY in Kaduna confirmed the ruling of Justice Muhammed.

“An order is hereby given restraining the respondents (CRC) either by themselves or their agents from opening a chat forum on Facebook, Twitter, or any blog for the purpose of the debate on the amputation of Malam Buba Bello Jangebe,” the document read.
Jangebe was the first person to have his right wrist amputated on the orders of a Sharia court in Zamfara State, a year after 12 Northern states adopted the strict Islamic penal code during the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration. In an interview with THISDAY, President of the CRC Shehu Sani said the group would challenge the order at a higher court. He said the order tramples on his right to free speech and freedom of association.

Sani added that the chat forum was opened about 10 days ago to provide an avenue for Nigerians to discuss Sharia law as a whole and the amputation of Jangebe in particular.

“We opened the blog on Facebook and Twitter chats 10 days ago to serve as a platform for which Nigerians could air their opinions on Sharia law as a whole and the justification or otherwise of the amputation of the hand of Malam Buba Bello Jangebe,” Sani said. This is not the first time Sani is having an encounter with Sharia courts in the North.

In 2008, one of the courts banned his satirical play “Phantom Crescent” after it ruled that the content violates Sharia law. The ban was later lifted on appeal. Kaduna is one of 12 states to introduce the stricter version of Sharia law in the North after Zamfara signed it into law in 1999.

Macebuh was not a Nigerian

By Bob Anikwe 

THE recent passage of Dr. Stanley N. Macebuh closes a chapter in Nigeria’s golden age of journalism, inspired by two New York imports. Macebuh was one, Dele Giwa the other. Macebuh and Giwa were hired to work in Daily Times.

In his tribute to Giwa, who was assassinated in 1986, Macebuh revealed how Dr. Patrick Dele Cole employed him, how he was subsequently sent to New York to recruit Giwa, and the difficulties he had convincing Giwa to return and take up the job.
Macebuh and Giwa were soul mates.

Macebuh was the intellectual. He loved life, was kind to people, and stood behind journalists whenever their works ruffled the feathers of the powerful and mighty. Giwa, was the professional, with his prior experience in the New York Times. He also loved life, action, and the pursuit of journalism excellence. Their newsroom panache inspired a new generation of media freedom fighters when they created two of the best known and most powerful media institutions in Nigerian – The Guardian and Newswatch.
Those who learned at the foot of these masters have since fanned out and planted their editorial footprints in the sands: Almost 80 percent of the great media institutions that came after Guardian and Newswatch were either founded or editorially directed by their apostles.
Through their tutelage and the force of their ideas, the Nigerian media came to the battle, armed with lucid and powerful editorial arguments and investigative reports that exposed inept and corrupt leadership, as they fought to wrest Nigeria from the iron grip of military rule.
Their efforts stung the military which lashed out viciously, beginning with the jailing of Messrs Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson when Macebuh was at the helm in The Guardian, the assassination of Dele Giwa himself, the CEO of Newswatch, and following with a spate of detentions, closures, jail terms, and other physical abuses of journalists and their media.

Macebuh was in this warfront. It was barely a year after he assembled his Guardian team that the military began its onslaught on the newspaper. Dele Giwa was a warrior, and eventually paid with his life for his editorial daring. His boys eventually spread to other advocacy news magazines to wage a long and relentless battle with military dictatorship in Nigeria.

The panache and fact-based methods that were used to press the case for democracy won them many admirers. Both Macebuh and Giwa were to end up earning the admiration and friendship of military top brass, although they never allowed such friendships to intrude on the editorial independence of the newspaper and magazine that they managed.
Macebuh counted among his friends the late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. All three offered to assist him stand on his feet when he left The Guardian. Through late Gen. Yar’Adua, he briefly relocated to Kaduna to found a weekly magazine, Sentinel; the venture lost steam through a combination of poor funding and internal management wrangles.

Through Gen. Babangida, he briefly tried his hands at sugar importation, but this business also did not fly due to what was described as deadly local competition. Through Gen. Obasanjo, he became a public servant, serving at the highest levels of government. This was after his innovative Rapid Response (Media) Team packaged the General, just released from prison, and successfully sold him to Nigerians as “the leader we can trust” in 1999. Unfortunately, his puritanical beliefs and spartan disposition at Aso Rock pitched him against the power mongers, and he recorded the distinction of being the only one that was appointed and sacked twice by his friend, ex-President Obasanjo.

It was after his second sack from the Aso Villa, that Dr. Macebuh became disillusioned and dropped out completely from the social circuits. Aided by an illness that took him to a major surgery at the National Hospital in Abuja, his life experienced a radical transformation.
Although he was my boss at The Guardian, I never met Dr. Macebuh face-to-face until I came to work in the State House Abuja in 2003. He was then Deputy Chief of Staff to the President and I was a consultant in Mr. Ad’Obe’s State House Public Communications Unit. I requested to see him when I learnt that he held a grudge against me for “refusing” to take up the editor position in the Post Express.

When I told him my side of the story, he was shocked and saddened. It became clear to him that his friend, who was asked to, did not reach out to me. As it turned out, this friend wanted someone else, and so went back after a few days to lie to Dr. Macebuh that I was not interested in the position.

I got to know and appreciate him a lot better after that, and I can say that Macebuh lived and died with two “weaknesses”.

He remained till the end the ethical professional, in a country where the worth of a man is sometimes measured by the millions that one is able to shave off from the company till, combined with what one begs, blackmails, or coerces from those stealing public funds.
He trusted everybody, most of all his friends. This gave some of them room to stab him in the back, or to snatch his ideas and appropriate them as their own. He did not get used to the “Nigerian way”, where those with less abilities tag along with the man of ideas, and, at the critical moment, snatch the ideas, proffer it to those that need them, and thereafter insist to the world that this was their “baby”.

In that sense, Dr. Stanley Macebuh was not a “Nigerian”, thank God. Men of goodwill in the profession must pray that the ideas that he and Dele Giwa introduced to Nigerian journalism will not die with them.

Two Pittsburgh schools will close in June

 Pittsburgh Public Schools Board voted 8-1 Wednesday night to close Vann Elementary in the Hill District and Rooney Accelerated Academy in Brighton Heights.

Mark Brentley Sr. voted against the measure. The schools will close in June.

"It's sad, but a lot of thought has gone into this," said board member Sherry Hazuda. "It's something not anyone anywhere sitting around this table takes lightly. The enrollment just is such that we had to look at where our students can get the best education."

Both schools have declining enrollment.

Students at Rooney don't have any music classes, said district spokeswoman Ebony Pugh.

At Vann, administrators were concerned about asbestos in the building. It had been slated to close after each of the past two school years, but the board twice delayed the move because of community concerns.

"I am not sure how an educator can look a parent in the eye after this," said Brentley, who represents the Hill District on the board. "You cannot ever expect a parent, a child, a community to rebound from these changes."

The closings are part of a move by Pittsburgh Public Schools to reconfigure schools in both neighborhoods. Weil Accelerated Learning Academy in the Hill District will no longer educate middle school students. In Northview Heights, Northview Accelerated Learning Academy will begin enrolling sixth- through eighth-graders.

Because of Vann's closing, the geographic boundaries determining where Hill District students attend elementary school will change. However, students attending Miller and Weil elementaries will not be moved.

Rooney's building will remain vacant next year while administrators evaluate how best to use it. Superintendent Mark Roosevelt said students from Morrow Elementary School may move into the building eventually. Its students will attend one of three nearby middle schools.

The district has said the Vann building will no longer be used.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has sent the list of the first batch of ministers to the Nigerian senate today.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The List of Nominees

1.  Engineer Chris Ogienwonyi (Edo)

2.  Josephine Anenih (Anambra)

3.  Adetokunbo Kayode (Ondo)

4.  Godsday Orubebe (Delta)

5.  Dieziani Allison-Madueke (Bayelsa)

6.  Fidelia Njeze

7.  Somo Nuhu Wya

8.  Odein Ajumogobia

9.  Akinlabi Olasunkanmi

10.Professor M.K. Abubakar (Vice Chancellor Kebbi State University

11.Navy Captain N. S. Olubolade

12.Ndanusa Alao (Kogi) former NNN MD

13.Alhaji Murtallab Yar’Adua (katsina) Son of Late Gen Yar`adua .

14.Hon. Nduese Essien (Akwa Ibom)

15.Alhaji Umaru Aliyu (Taraba)

16.Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq (Gombe)

17. Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga (Lagos) MD Goldman  Sachs

18. Labaran Maku (Nasarawa)

19.Mrs. Josephine Tapgun (Plateau)

20.Bello Adoke, SAN

21.Captain Earnest Odebola

22.Chukwuemeka Worgu

23.Suleiman Bello

24.Sanusi Daggash

25.Bala Mohammed
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