When the Senate passed the “Bill for an Act to Make Provisions Creating the Offence of Corporate Manslaughter and for Matters Incidental Thereto last month, the ovation that greeted it was understandable. Besides the emotional attachment occasioned the passing of its sponsor Senator Akpor Pius Ewherido in June, many feel relief has come the way of workers who work in sub-standard conditions while rendering legitimate service to eke out a living. Nigerians are largely burdened with the couldn’t-care-less disposition of employers who often keep them in filthy, poorly lit environments, and with being forced to use faulty machines that are literally death traps. Some workers are locked up in factories with little ventilation, where they inhale toxic emissions and from where escape would be difficult in the event of an emergency.
It is therefore a welcome development that the provisions of the bill provide for the welfare and security of citizens by government and seek to punish corporate negligence and dereliction of duty. The law will make an organisation guilty of corporate manslaughter where such conditions lead to the death of persons, with the prescription of a jail term of a minimum of three years and maximum of seven, with an option of fine of not less than N500, 000 and not more than N1million. The law will presume that in the work environment, management should be held responsible for preventable accidents or gross breach of a duty of care, if an employee is unduly hurt or killed.
I am pleased to share my thoughts on the legacy of a foremost statesman and hero of One Nigeria, His Excellency Gen. Yakubu Gowon, in tribute to him as he turns 80 this month.
As a historian, I appreciate the place of documenting the roles of key national figures in our history and making same available to as many people, particularly of the younger generation, as possible. This is particularly so in view of the dearth of heroes and role models for our younger generation, predominantly within the Public Service space in our country.
We often think of public servants as omnipotent figures that can make and remake history according to their whims and caprices. In reality leaders are shaped by their times as much, if not more, than they shape it. Assessing the records of political leaders therefore necessarily calls for understanding the temporal context in which they exercised power.
The mantle of national leadership fell on Yakubu Cinwa Gowon in very trying circumstances. The First Republic had fallen after politicians’ antagonisms had escalated into deadly rivalries. Serial mutinies heavily tinged by ethno-regional antipathies had undermined the solidarity of the armed forces and the nation at large. This coupled with the mass killings of easterners in Northern Nigeria had pushed the country to the brink of destruction.
I recently had a phone conversation with a dear compatriot who just shared with me a desire to support Muhammadu Buhari for president, come 2015 elections. The conversation we had convinced me to put down these thoughts that have been with me for quite some time now.
Let me start by saying that it is a sign of how much military rule destroyed our sense of what is right and our relationship to history that dictators like Buhari and Ibrahim Babangida are still respected figures in our public life. But that is a topic for another day.
The Nigerian government is set to introduce a social safety net that would allow millions of poor citizens enjoy cash backups to meet their basic socio-economic needs, the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, announced Tuesday.
The minister, who disclosed this in Abuja during her appearance on the Ministerial Platform to brief the media on the programmes of her ministry, said arrangements towards the take-off of the scheme were being finalized.
Unlike several other countries, Nigeria presently runs no social security package for either the poor, unemployed, aged or women. Only a few states, such as Ekiti and Ogun, provide monthly support to the aged.
The outgone Fayemi government paid N5,000 monthly to the elderly.
In South Africa, for instance, social services for the citizens forms a significant part of the country’s annual budget.
Bills pushing for government support to unemployed and aged Nigerians have remained stuck in the National Assembly for years.
Details of the new plans announced by the finance minister are not clear yet.
The swearing in of Mr Peter Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state has in doubt opened a new chapter in the governance of the fountain of knowledge. The recent revelations of the governor of how his predecessor mismanaged the state economy and her apparatus were also expected. At least he has to discredit the former government to pave way for his acceptability and create more hatred for the former governor and his party. The revelations nevertheless are really surprising most especially concerning the furniture of the Dr Kayode Fayemi’s wife bedroom that reportedly cost N50m according to the Special Assistant on Information and Social Media, Mr Lere Olayinka. This is indeed mere wasting of public funds if it is later established to be true.
The other areas that has been calling for public attention is the level of indebtedness of the state during the reign of Dr Fayemi, it is clear that the present government goofed in playing with figures regarding the debts. The governor put the debts of the state to N86b in his first interview and later reduced to N56b before the former governor confirmed the actual level of the state indebtedness of the state to N36b which has not been be proved otherwise since the statement. That confirmed that, Gov. Fayose’s assertion about the debt profile of the state was false. It is ridiculous and not expected from a governor to mix lies with governance as this will later taunt him and his administration.
According to Wu Ch’i (430-381 BC), there are five matters to which a general must pay strict heed. The first of these is administration; the second, preparedness; the third, determination; the fourth, prudence; and the fifth, economy. With this in mind, it can be proved that Dr Fayemi has not done badly as projected by the present administration. Gov. Fayose needs to make his own assessment on these five values and see if he really fits in. In four years time, another person will come in to discredit his leadership; will he be able to defend himself as Dr Fayemi has done?
Arik Air, West Africa’s largest carrier has announced an initiative to help reduce the suffering, pain and sorrow of people with Sickle Cell disorder in Nigeria by joining forces with the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria to combat the condition.
The initiative is in the form of in-flight donation whereby Arik Air will support the Sickle Cell Foundation to raise monies by way of charity donations to be made by passengers on board Arik Air flights. Specially designed envelopes will be distributed on Arik Air’s planes to passengers to make voluntary donations.
The monies so collected are to be turned in to the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria and utilised for the aims and objectives of the Foundation – particularly for the treatment, care and support of children with sickle cell disorder in Nigeria.
Arik Air’s Managing Director/Executive Vice President, Mr. Chris Ndulue commented on the initiative:
“Arik Air is a caring airline and this explains the partnership with the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria. This is in line with our Corporate Social Responsibility and our humble way of giving back to the Nigerian society”.
The Chairman of Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria, Professor Olu Akinyanju said:
“Sickle Cell is essentially an African problem and Nigeria is the country with the highest number of people with the condition in the world; 150,000 Nigerian babies are born every year with the disorder, three quarters of whom die before their 5th birthday. We are motivated by our belief that this partnership with Arik Air would go a long way in improving the quality and duration of lives of persons affected by sickle cell disorder in Nigeria”.
Response To Gov Fayose’s Wild Allegations Regarding Ekiti State Finances-Kayode Fayemi ….. Sahara Reporters
The media was awash last Friday with allegations of financial recklessness and huge indebtedness by the immediate past government of Dr Kayode Fayemi, levelled by the newly inaugurated Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose.
Governor Fayose had in his inaugural speech put the state’s debt profile at N57billion. A day earlier, he had put the figure at N89billion during a television interview. This is in addition to the various unprintable words he used to describe the immediate past administration in the state, all in an attempt to paint a dismally poor state of finance for the state.
Although the erstwhile Commissioner for Information, Mr Tayo Ekundayo has responded to the puerile allegations and orchestrated lies, it has become necessary to provide additional details to that earlier reaction.
The concern here is the general public that could be misled by the fraudulent claims all and deliberate distortions of facts and figures in an attempt to invent excuses for imminent poor performance in office.
For the avoidance of doubt, the indebtedness of the state as at October 15th, 2014 is N36,316,017,758.93 (Thirty six billion, three hundred and sixteen million, seventeen thousand , seven hundred and fifty six naira, ninety-three kobo). Of this amount, the sum of N7,830,636,440.62 (Seven billion, eight hundred and thirty million, six hundred and thirty-six thousand, four hundred and forty naira, sixty-two kobo) represents foreign loans incurred by previous government since the days of the Old Ondo State.
The remaining sum of N28, 485,381,316.31 represents internal loan. This include inherited loans from previous government and outstanding balance (debt) of the bond taken at the Capital Market.
In spite of this, the Federal Government is owing the state the sum of N17,710,728,299.06. This include N10,839,493,135.63 (amount due from construction of federal roads); N4,012,384,082.60 (refund on Paris Club) and N2,858,851,080.83 (amount due on ecological projects).If the Federal Government would graciously effect part of this payment, the debt profile of the state would have been greatly reduced.
It is our belief that Mr Fayose was hasty in making a pronouncement on the state of the state’s finances and other matters without first going through the handing over note which contains explicit details of government transactions and financial situation. Nothing can be more mischievous and irresponsible than this.
While Mr Fayose alleged that the state account was in red, the state bank balances as at October 15th stood at N1,930,739,725.84. This comprised N1,463,805,908.56 (state account) and N466,933,817.28 (local government account). Also the Bond Sinking Fund Account balance as at September stood at N3,019,987,424.03.
Nothing could be farther from the truth than Mr. Fayose’s allegation that none of the MDA’s account had up to One million naira. For instance, the Ministry of Agriculture’s account is in the excess of N90million, while the MDG account has close to One billion naira.
There is no responsible leader in Nigeria today that will not acknowledge the poor state of the country’s economy, a development that has made it difficult for the Federal Government to meet its obligations to the federating states. In the last two years, states on many occasions have had to leave the monthly FAAC meetings empty handed, like they did last week. This is in addition to a huge reduction in the amount given to the states.
In Ekiti State for instance, the federal allocation to the state has dropped by about N480million monthly since the beginning of the year and this has placed a huge strain on government finances. The government has had to resort to bank facilities in order to augment the now insufficient allocation and pay workers salaries as well as meet other obligations.
As a government that is committed to the welfare of the citizens, the Fayemi –led administration had in 2011 approached the Capital Market where it raised a N25billion bond which it spent on infrastructure projects which are regenerative in nature. Of the sum, about N14 billion has been repaid through the laid down repayment regime. The outstanding balance of the bond money forms part of the N28billion debt profile according to the state’s audited accounts which was published in some national newspapers last week.
It is also pertinent to state that the governor’s claims that the former administration owed two months salaries is dubious. The only salary being owed the state workers is that of September and the development was sequel to the reluctance of banks to give the state facilities following sundry allegations of collaboration levelled against the banks by Fayose.
In all this, the Debt Management Office (DMO), a Federal Government agency, still rates Ekiti State as one of the least indebted states in the country.
It would appear, however, that the new governor is ill prepared for the job at hand. His hasty approach to governance without paying due cognisance to decorum and tact would succeed only in exposing his incapability and further ridiculing the state.
Our advice to him: Stop this comedy of errors. Pursue substance!
Some causes and treatment of male, female infertility (3) Some causes and treatment of male, female infertility by Femi Kusa
I spoke with a group of health seeking women sometimes last week. For me, it was a re-enactment of the tribute which this column paid to women, especially mothers, for all the health challenges their bodies undergo in the process of bringing us human beings to this earth. That was a MOTHERS’ DAY tribute, which examined some female reproductive system failings or challenges which may cause anguish of soul or physical impairment or damage to the sufferer. Many readers of that column were surprised to learn that some women could become pregnant without menstruating. I had read of such cases in Susannah and Leslie Kenton’s RAW ENERGY in the late 1970s, but it was in the mid 1980s I learned of a Nigerian case somewhere in northern Nigeria.
It came up at a Gothe Institute Alternative Medicine seminar in Lagos. Of course, the young mother of three was banished from her village. But as the Kenton sisters explained in their book, such women have more beta carotene, an antioxidant Vitamin A precursor, than the average women who, probably, on account of a deficiency, must menstruate. The book mentions research work on animals which found some female animals do not menstruate but are, nevertheless, fertile, like these human females. The researchers concluded, says the book, that menstruation may actually be a disease caused by Beta Carotene deficiency, and this ailment has probably been accepted as normal simply because a majority of women have been menstruating for as long as anyone can remember. Indeed, it should be serious food for thought if some female animals with “abnormally” high levels of Beta carotene do not menstruate on the basis of this “abnormality” but are fertile and have babies and human females with “abnormally” high levels of beta carotene in their blood exhibit the same phenomenon.
Super Eagles caretaker chief coach, Shaibu Amodu, has revealed that he was initially reluctant to accept the rescue mission job the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) gave to him because he strongly believed that the erstwhile coach, Stephen Keshi, did not actually deserve the treatment melted to him.
Amodu, who dropped the hint while answering questions from newsmen on arrival at the Glass House with his coaching consortium yesterday, argued that Keshi’s removal was not the best of decision, especially when he has only two remaining matches to round up the qualifiers.
“My reaction to my coming back is that first and foremost I was surprised in the sense that I have been disconnected from football at the national team coaching level for the past four years. So, I was the last person that could think of being called to come and rescue the team,” he admitted, stressing: “The first thing that came to my mind when I was approached was to say no.”
Despite the much touted promise of assistance to Nigeria on the Boko Haram insurgency by the United States of America, it is now very clear that no military assistance will be coming from the country, after all. The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James F. Entwistle, who made this clear penultimate week, said the position of the US was informed by the unimpressive human rights record of the Nigerian military.
He said the highhandedness of the Nigerian Army in its fight against Boko Haram, especially in the North-Eastern part of the country, has been headlined by massive human rights abuses, and that it is the policy of the US government to restrict the flow of arms to such countries and armies.
Speaking at the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, the US envoy said: “it will be ungodly for the US to sell arms to Nigeria, a country that its military is notoriously known for human rights abuse. We cannot sell our arms to a country that will use our technology, which is meant for defence of helpless people, to harass helpless citizens”.
The immediate former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Okey Wali, SAN, was kidnapped two weeks ago by unknown gunmen in his village in Obio-Akpor Local Council, Rivers State and his whereabouts remains unknown. At about the same time in Delta state, two major assassinations took place. First was the daughter of General Dominic Oneya, a mother of four who was gunned down on her way from the bank. Then an upcoming film actor was also gruesomely killed. Elsewhere in another state, whole family members were murdered in the middle of the night while they slept. The horror of it all was that the killers were not even in a hurry while carrying out their dastardly act.
A common denominator in the foregoing cases is that the perpetrators of the crimes would most likely never be found and brought to justice. Besides, chances are that the matters would soon be forgotten as newer bizarre cases of violence assail our collective sensibility as a nation.
Very few history textbooks are as depressing as the records of Nigeria’s transition from a young independent nation to this pseudo-democratic chaos that is the product of half a century of conflicts of interests among the ruling elite. In their construction of this entity with the bricks of the very drawbacks that highlight our differences – ethnicity, religion and region – the only firm architecture is the wall that keeps the generation after them confined, frustrated, wasted, away from the corridors of power as long as age and health allow.
This is why a thinker once said the African politician is monarchical, ever desperate to remain in the corridors of power once out of the Boys’ Quarters. This biological confinement of the young is a cultural trend that dictates deference to elders and forbids any form of rebellion against their excesses. In the north, this syndrome is captured by the “ran ka ya dade” – long may you live – salutations and mentality that glorify even the place of known thieving politicians, while dissenting young occupants of political Boys’ Quarters are considered “yan iska” – rascals!
The irredeemable rascal, in their dictionary of misinformation, is that person who is young, has no resources to hire political thugs and buy loyalty, can’t afford a convoy or even a decent car, wears jeans and tees often, criticises their excesses, and thus is expected to kowtow to the Big Man for possessing what he “lacks”, but does not. The occupants of Boys’ Quarters in this space have generally been ridiculed as disrespectful for merely demanding good governance from their “parents” in power, even an honest analysis of their misappropriations is seen as proof of such Boys’ Quarters-dwelling critics’ lack of “home training”. The young ones are meant to be uncritical cheerleaders of incompetence, dishonesty and failures.
Chinese Firms Exporting ‘Torture Devices’ To Africa In Higher Frequency, Raising Concerns … Sahara Reporters
Amnesty International, the human-rights watchdog organization, in collaboration with the Omega Research Foundation, a British organization focused on studying the international use and distribution of law-enforcement equipment on Tuesday made claims that Chinese companies are now massively exporting torture equipment to Africa.
According to the report, over 130 Chinese firms are involved in manufacturing and selling weighted cuffs, neck cuffs, electric shock batons, restraint chairs, spike batons, and more torture devices.
Amnesty International described the act as a “worrying trade”, in which the “inherently abusive” aforementioned instruments are being shipped to Africa.
China is known for its use of torture to extract confessions from suspects and according to Amnesty, some of its home-made equipment like projectile stun guns and handcuffs are considered standard police issue and “can have a legitimate use in law enforcement if used correctly and in line with international standards for law enforcement.”
Amnesty also stated that the country also specializes in selling torture instruments to police departments in countries with miserable human rights records.
So far, Liberia, Uganda, and Madagascar are among the countries that have used the Chinese services to import such torture equipment to their nations.
According to Xinhua, China’s state news outlet, three officers and four security personnel from Harbin, China were convicted of torturing and killing one of seven suspects to get confessions this week alone.
Although there has been a huge increase (28 a decade ago, now 130) in the number of Chinese companies that are involved in the manufacturing of torture instruments, they have not upped protocols to “ensure that the exports do not end up in the wrong hands,” says Amnesty. “Instead, most of the equipment is going to African countries where the rule of law is poor and where the potential for abuse is high, the human rights advocacy organization says.
Former Vice-President and aspirant in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is expected to outspend his opponents in the presidential contest, a THISDAY survey has shown.
With a war chest from various business sources and contacts, the Atiku campaign promises to be a huge money show all the way.
Already, the campaign is getting donations from individuals. It received a cheque of N1000 on Monday.
Principally, heavy funds would be expended on media activities such as adverts on the radios, televisions and newspapers.
Atiku, a grassroots politician, believes in the efficacy of the media – a force he easily displays to his advantage.
In the last general polls, Atiku outspent his opponents in advertorials where he took on his traducers with carton-type adverts.
Currently, his campaign office, which runs like a mini-media house, has in its services experienced media handlers like Alhaji Garba Shehu, Paul Ibe and a host of others.
“Certainly, we plan to spend on advertisements, jingles, bill boards and all the other publicity activities. The truth is that Atiku is not holding back when it comes to campaign spending, especially with the media which he sees as partners in everything he is doing.
AMCON and the Cross River state government have been working on how to revive Tinapa, what level of work has been done so far?
We had an agreement in principle with the Cross River state government, but we needed to do some legal due diligence. We have concluded the legal due diligence and we have a new legal structure. So, the transaction remains the same, but we needed to create a new legal structure to protect all parties legally. That structure has been put in place and agreed by Cross River state government and by AMCON management. So, we now need to go to AMCON’s board to get an approval for the final structure and also, we believe the state governor may want to go to the state Assembly to get final approval for the new structure. But we think the new structure is more efficient to protect everybody legally. So, I think we are almost there and certainly by early next year, you would start seeing some action at Tinapa. What AMCON is trying to do is to get operators, basically two operators to manage the resort and another operator that would manage the free trade aspect. But they would be working for the owners and managers of Tinapa.
Who are the successful managers?
We advertised a long time ago and I think we have actually selected the free trade operator as well as the resort operator. It was a big process that was jointly done by the Cross River government.
At what stage is AMCON on the talks to make Aero Contractors a national carrier?
Making Aero Contractors a national carrier or not making Aero Contractors a national carrier is largely a Ministry of Aviation and Aero Contractors’ board of directors’ business. AMCON does have some representations on the board of directors, but that is not really an AMCON’s decision. AMCON’s only concern was that it is in the interest of Nigeria; in the interest of Aero Contractors because we are obviously a shareholder and also that the process should be done in a transparent fashion. Once we are sure of these three concerns, we leave it in the hands of the Ministry and Aero Contractors’ board of directors. Aero Contractors as you know was indebted to the defunct Oceanic Bank, AMCON bought the debt and having looked at the debts and realised that the company could not continue to service the debts and remain operational, so we converted some of the debts into equity and that was how AMCON ended up with equity in Aero Contractors.