Friday, September 28, 2012

Bad weather on the way

We at Times Square are already in the long Independence weekend mood, so we will keep this short.

Our students are probably getting better at [snip - DT Lawyer]. After performing terribly at the NECO SSCE for the last five years, they have finally started listening in classes. But then again, we'd advice the young uns to keep a record of their exam success so that when they are governors, they wouldn't have to worry about false accusations of being uneducated. Ask Comrade Adams, such accusations are embarrassing.

On Wednesday, three members of staff of this newspaper were headed home after a long day's work. Their route took them through Yaba, to Oshodi by way of Mushin before hitting Ikeja. At Yaba (and its normal traffic brouhaha), they were stuck on a rail track when the Entertainment correspondent screamed. Her problem was that a train was headed towards the car, and as far as she could see, there was no effort to close the road. Luckily, traffic moved a little, the car got off the track, the car behind them held its peace, and the train rolled by on its majestic journey with no incident. Our staff members were luckier than an unnamed woman who had been killed by a train just a few stops further up the track that morning.

The woman, God rest her soul, died on the same day as a bus conductor in far away Abuja was strangled to death. His driver has been placed under arrest and is facing prosecution because the day before, they'd had a fight over the sum of N5000, said amount found missing from the day's takings. It would appear that the theme of today's newsletter is about people taking the law into their hands because someone decided to express his frustration on one of Nigeria's flag carriers in the airline industry yesterday.

Arik Air's website was hacked by the Nigeria Cyber Hacktivist group, a downtime that cost the company a yet to be determined amount in terms of online bookings, and more likely, a never to be determined amount in terms of embarrassment. The chaps at Arik are yet to make a formal statement on the issue, probably because they are concerned about the weather.

You see, bad weather is on the way, as those who survived the deluge in Lagos yesterday can confirm. Following the multiple tragedies in Kogi, Benue and Edo states, a word should be more than enough for any wise person regarding this weather issue. But then again, quite a number of Lagos residents might just use the opportunity to fetch some water, rather than endure inhuman treatment from the state's water board. Fear not, help is on the way.

Best of the rest

Nigeria and Chelsea striker, Victor Moses proved his potency by scoring goal number one for Chelsea on Wednesday evening, and another goal. Congrats to the young father.
The House of Representatives have told the President that they would probably not be at the presentation of the 2013 Budget.
Deji thinks that we import 80% of our food, so he's convinced that reports saying that record floods would affect our food supply are a bit exaggerated.

Do have a wonderful weekend, and see you on Tuesday. Happy 52nd Independence.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

22% of Lagos drivers are high

Yesterday afternoon, Umar Dan Michika walked up to Ronke Taiwo's stall in Kaduna for lunch. Being a good, and familiar customer, she served him his regular meal worth NGN80, and bade him on his merry way in the full knowledge that a few hours and okada rides later, he would return to settle his debt. Only this time he never came back to pay her for his meal. A few minutes after he had left her stall, Umar was dead. A bullet from a mobile policeman's Kalashnikov lodged in his skull. While praying that Allah receives Umar's soul in Jannah, we are using this medium to demand that the Kaduna state police commissioner Femi Adenaike desist from empty platitudes, and actually ensure that the erring policeman is brought to justice.

So it turns out that 22% of drivers in Lagos, or a sample of drivers, have tested positive for all manners of, err, driving stimulants. For the more cynical of those in the newsroom though, these numbers are, well, not exactly accurate when you consider the kind of carnage that occurs daily on Lagos roads. But then again, Nigerians have not been exactly the best at keeping records, as shown by the national awards.

You see, it emerged a few days ago that the Presidency has no records of the full list of those who have received National Awards in the past. A Special Duties Ministry suit told a committee of senators that "there is no record of the full list of those who have received the award so far". While at this stage we are tempted to advertise the Daily Times archives as the most accurate place to take a look for such a list, we are scared to refer back to the National Awards of 1973 lest we see the name Oyenusi as a recipient for that year.

1973 was a very interesting year in Nigerian history. It was the year that we hosted the All Africa Games, which was preceded by our first National Sports Festival which has gone on despite the odds and challenges. This year's Sports Festival will be hosted by Lagos, successfully if the NNPC keeps up its part of the bargain and sustains fuel supply.

However, going by the Federal Government's pronouncement yesterday, fuel shortages having a crippling effect on our nation may soon be a thing of the past as approval was given for the construction of high speed rail lines to connect Lagos and Abuja; Benin to Abakaliki and Abuja to Sokoto. There is no doubt in the minds of people here at Times Square that Nigeria desperately needs rail, and this can only be good news as our economy cannot afford to continue its dependence on roads that are all too easily washed away by floods.

In other, flood-related, news, Ibaji a farming community (formerly) in Kogi state, is for the time being at least, no longer on the map as it has been submerged by floods. This on the same day that the FG announced the reopening of the Abuja-Lokoja Highway which had been underwater.

Best of the rest

Disturbed by the prospect of losing a local government area, and about 300,000 Nigerians, the Senate has urged the Federal Government to appeal the ICJ's ruling handing the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon. We have less than 2 weeks before those citizens will be forced to start supporting the Indomitable Lions who have a 0-3 loss to Cape Verde coming up in Yaounde on October 13.
The police have charged three more people to court over incidents relating to the murder of Cynthia Okosogu. We will keep watching this trial because Cynthia's family MUST get justice.
And finally, if you are an eligible bachelor, then you would do well to hop on the next available flight to either Paris or Hong Kong. 76 year old businessman Cecil Chao has put US$65million (NGN10,227,761,743.59) on the table for any man who can make his bent daughter straight. There's currently a mad dash towards the door of the newsroom as almost all the guys here have dusted their passports and are headed for the airport. After all, as El-Nathan says, Nigerians know how to show love.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Selling light

As far as fire sales go, yesterday's announcement of the preferred bidders for Nigeria's electricity generating infrastructure was a good one, which will when completed, give the country's power generation over to some citizens who are already very powerful people. Potentially, the power industry is very lucrative, so the more cynical amongst us would say that this is a classic case of the rich getting richer.

But the rich also cry as Al-Hassan Garba is showing. Three of his sisters are being held under "pathetic" conditions in Saudi Arabia. The three being among 400 Nigerian females who flew to Jeddah for the Hajj and kind of forgot to take their male companions with them, a condition that is very clearly stated among the requirements for any woman wishing to visit the Gulf Kingdom. The House has directed the National Hajj Commission to ensure that the female pilgrims are allowed to perform the Hajj, so expect a plane load of male companions to jet out of Abuja shortly.

Speaking of plane-loads, the Lagos police yesterday announced the seizure of a massive haul of arms and ammunition. Lagos Police head honcho, Umar Manko claims that this is the biggest cache of arms ever seized in the history of the state. Items recovered include AK47s, GPMGs, RPGs and dynamites. Enough to take out one of our smaller neighbours it would appear, and, in a country where weapons possession is not exactly legal, the haul was seized from three men, who given their age of 23, should be participating in the NYSC!

Granted that our economy is in the doldrums as the saying goes, but whether that is a justification for robbery is another matter. In any event, the three young men should all things being equal, get their day in court. Not like a robber in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi state capital, who made it a point of duty to make an effort to access his victim's place through the roof. A naked wire later, and he is resting in peace.

Best of the rest

Still on the theme of robbery, Kudirat Omotara yesterday told a court that her bricklayer husband of ten years, Kazeem, moonlights as a robber. His main victim, her shop.
Still unsure as to whether the 2012 Budget has been fully implemented, both chambers of the National Assembly will take their seats and listen to the President present the 2013 Budget in just over a week's time, this is right after the senators have warned people like the government mouthpiece to stop "ridiculing them".
NEMA has told the people living in flood prone areas in Anambra, Bayelsa and Kogi states to prepare for some of the Kogi treatment. More than 7000 people have been displaced in Kogi, and some avoidable had it not been for statements such as, "why should I move out of my father's land".

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

...and in other transfer news

Over the weekend, football superstar, Obafemi Martins did a couple of back-flips. He did them because he scored a goal for his new club, Levante, in his very first game since being transferred to the club.

The question then becomes whether another transferee, Justice Donatus Okorowa, will be doing any back-flips soon. You see, Justice Okorowa received a transfer yesterday, from an Abuja Court to a court in flood ravaged Taraba. We are yet to ascertain what the transfer fee was, or how many agents were involved, or whether the transfer received a FIFA clearance. What we can ascertain though is that the transfer has put a bit of a comma on the trial of a famous Nigeria big boy, Dimeji Bankole.

You see, in Nigeria, and in a few other parts of the world, when a trial judge is transferred from one location to another, and in the middle of an arraignment, the trial has to begin afresh. Since we do not practice the jury system around these parts, it is left to the discretion of the Judge, using such advanced methods as reading body language, to determine if a witness is being truthful. If the old Judge has been moved off, then a new Judge has to read the body language all over again and decide whether that 80 year old witness has memory loss or not. The EFCC is not amused.

However, justice in Nigeria does not always move at a glacial pace as ex-Naval Rating, Joseph Moses discovered yesterday. Enraged that his girlfriend, Glory Yusuf had had the audacity to bring his child into the world, out of wedlock, Moses had in February gone to her house, beaten her up, then thrown his three week-old daughter into the lagoon. The baby drowned. Naval authorities were not amused, and yesterday Moses was given ten years to think of the benefits of his actions. We wish the mother fortitude to bear the loss of her daughter.

From one kind of loss to another, and it turns out that the oil majors owe Nigeria the small sum of N1.5trillion in taxes. According to NEITI's mouthpiece, the debts were accumulated between 1999 and 2008, and have remained simply because the government agencies charged with collecting them have not made "adequate efforts to recover them".

Truth is that the sum of N1.5trillion can easily be used to cover any skills gap in Nigeria, which is probably a good reason not to be worried that the power sector has a shortfall of 8400 skilled workers. According to a NAPTIN hijab, the "huge gap between actual skilled manpower and manpower required is increasing annually". In just five short years, we will expect to have a shortfall in the power sector of 17441 skilled workers. But the guess is that we can easily make use of the N1.4trillion which the free export zonesclaim to have generated for the country to import more generators and plug the gap.

Best of the rest

About two weeks ago, talked about Isaac Anyaso threatening to take himself out because of "the shrew" in his home. Well, yesterday he told the court the reason why. Apparently, she's denied him his conjugal rights for five years now. Imelda on her part says that Isaac does not touch her cooking. Expect the Judge to cancel their contract on October 23 due to "irreconcilable differences".
Lagos police have denied the story making the rounds that men in police uniform shot dead the newly married Ugo Ozuah. Ozuah was shot at Gbagada only two days after returning from his honeymoon. At the very least Ms. Braide, we demand a proper investigation into this travesty.
Tired of waiting for his runs to click, Osakpolo Igbinosa took to creating his own money in 2010. The runs, which netted him a move from a one room apartment to his own house, and a Nissan Pathfinder, finally crashed yesterday when an honest policeman refused to take N300k from him.
Kelvin wants us to learn from the United States. The more imaginative among us would imagine that he wants us to learn how to shoot properly.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Washed away

Following Sunday's event, we think that hoping you had a good weekend is rather out of place. Yesterday, the attacks on churches by Islamist insurgents, attacks which appeared to have been on the wane in the last few weeks, resumed. A suicide bomber attempted to drive into St. John's Catholic Church in Bauchi, but failing to get to his target, he detonated his payload anyway and took at the very least a woman and a child with him. At the last count, 22 people have been confirmed as needing treatment for various degrees of injury. God rest the dead.

Sadly NEMA had a very busy day yesterday. Not only did the Bauchi bomber have them scrambling, the only direct road that links our Federal Capital to the south of the country has been turned into an opportunity for our Olympic team to practice their swimming ahead of the Rio games. Unfortunately, this swimming practice will also have a rather negative effect on our economy following the fiasco that our airline industry has become. Unusual seasonal floods washed away large sections of the Abuja-Lokoja highway, leading to transportation chaos as people had to make use of boats to continue their journey from point A to point B. The FRSC has closed the road to prevent any loss to life, while NEMA hope to complete the evacuation of villages around the flood struck areas.

The rather unseasonal flooding is not the only thing having an effect on our economy. Over the weekend, the CenBank rolled out aWho's Who in Nigerian business, then promptly informed us that a majority of those guys are owing huge amounts of money that they appear not to have any intention of servicing. These debts are being owed by people in fields as diverse as the airline industry to the oil industry. We wonder whether simply stopping them from taking further loans even begins to scratch the surface of how bad the rot is, and another question that arises from this whole brouhaha is what the CenBank was doing while these chaps were racking up those debts and not paying.

Sometimes it is easy to wonder at people who can sleep at night even when owing huge debts. Maybe, just maybe, we should spare a thought for single Mum, Udoka, who along with four others attempted to smuggle 398 wraps of exotic stuff through MMIA. As such silly stories go, they were caught. "The people that gave me the drugs promised to pay me $2700," she sniffed, "I wonder how my daughter is coping without me." At the risk of sounding self-righteous Udoka, we are inclined to point out that there was no guarantee that you'd not have been caught at the Malaysian end of the journey if you'd successfully gone through Lagos. If that had happened, your daughter would have had to cope with you until the after-life.

Best of the rest

For those of you who have run out of cooking gas, you might want to find out more about the risks posed by traditional stovesbefore settling on an alternative.
Following the release of that Rick Ross video that got so many people choking on their afternoon snacks, Joachim wonders just who is being real.
Another columnist, Semiu tells us that Mikel Obi has character. A bit of an argument at Times Square here as the resident Tarzan's Monkey, a lifelong Juventus fan insists that Mikel folded after that second goal for his club, while Jide the Sports Editor, and a Chelsea fan insists that Mikel is the best thing since sliced bread.
Charles Novia decided to write a book, and wham-bam he came up with something telling us about a rivalry between Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalada-Ekeinde. Yup, and the sun rose this morning.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Gangs of Eko

There has been a quiet war going on in Lagos for a couple of years now. It is as silent as it is deadly, and it involves gangs on Lagos Mainland especially around Fadeyi, Onipanu, Ebute Metta, Ogba and Somolu. There have been occasional outbreaks in other areas, but these spots are the main flashpoints. In the latest episode of the series yesterday, three people were killed.

Speaking of gangs, the Pyrates Confraternity is trying to reinvent itself as some sort of political think-tank. What better way to do it than to get involved in a pressing national issue. One that has international ramifications. The confra have instructed the FG to lodge an appeal with the International Court of Justice regarding the status of the Bakassi Peninsula before the 10-year statute of limitations runs out in 19 days time.

Unfortunately though, it appears that the FG is more interested in other pressing matters such as the N5000 note, and the fact that most of the people who shuttle between Lagos and Abuja might soon have to do so using ABC "Airlines". One of Nigeria's flag carriers, Arik yesterday reduced the number of airlines plying domestic routes in Nigeria by withdrawing their services following an altercation with FAAN. FAAN says that Arik owes a lot of money, a charge which Arik does not deny. Arik in their turn is accusing FAAN and Ministry of Aviation blazers of wanting a commercial interest in their airline, a charge which their adversaries are yet to deny. Expect this story to develop more wings as the bolekaja continues.

Another story that should interest you is the rather outrageous claim by the Americans that Boko Haram is only interested in making Nigeria's current government look silly. Quite different from the movement's own stated doctrine of making Islam the sole religion in Northern Nigeria (at least).

Best of the rest

Fresh from completing her autopsy a week ago, the police in Lagos do not know what to do with Cynthia Osokogu's remains, and are appealing to her family to come for them. In their reaction, the family have made it quite clear that the police have not contacted them.
The House of Reps say that they are not witch-hunting the SEC DG, but that rather she was not even qualified for the job in the first place. A claim that calls into question the credentials of CBN lead bow-tie, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
Like most of us at Times Square, Jide is really peeved that not one head has rolled following Team Nigeria's rather less than encouraging performance in London. He wants answers, and we'll leave him searching for them and wish you a great weekend.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Seeking relief

Obinna, 23, will owe neither God nor Man. So unable to settle the balance on the piano his pal, Elijah, sold him, he settled it with several blows to Elijah's head and then went to The Lord's Chosen Church at Ijesha to confess his crime. It may interest the cynical among you to note that Obinna's confession was aided by the small matter of the person who witnessed him dumping Elijah's body, and decided to relieve him of the money he owed Elijah. Obinna has been relieved of his freedom.

Relief is what commuters in Nigeria's megalopolis need at the moment. You see, as a direct result of the shortage of petrol in the city, the transporters resorted to their usual antics and raised the costs of transportation. In some cases by 20%, in other cases by 70%, thus contributing more to the non-oil sector of our GDP.

A few days ago, the National Bureau of Statistics had proudly told us that our GDP grew 6.28% in the last quarter, driven by non-oil growth. These figures were yesterday sneered at by some analysts who to put it in simple terms say that whatever growth we may be seeing has yet to impact positively on the lives of Nigerians. Something that we are sure that those Lagos commuters will agree with.

Agreements do not necessarily have to be reached under duress, but CBN bow ties will probably swear that the President accepting not to go ahead with the controversial N5000 note was done under duress and as a result cannot be an agreement. Well, someone has to let the economic eggheads know that having an agreement does not necessarily translate to action as Lagos teachers have discovered. Their response? To beat the well worn path of going on strike. Expect more stay at home parents in Lagos from Monday.

And expect more young people to go into the entertainment industry. What, with schools not in session, and the quality of the education going down the toilet anyway, it would make more sense both practically and financially, to shake your waist a little, and get the privilege of having lyrical beefs. Ask Davido, he knows a thing or two about such things.

Best of the rest

A few drinks in the system, 20 kilometres to drive, and a road well known. Piece o'cake normally. Or so ElNathan thought until he ended up in Australia, and his trusty Sylvanus was sent to the undertaker.
INEC has started the arduous task of printing 40 million voters cards from the finest material, not that we would be using them for Senatorial elections if the Jagaban of Lagos has his way.
You see, Lord Jagaban was credited with saying that the National Assembly should be scrapped. Considering that Lord Jagaban's iyawo is a Senator, Deji is not quite sure what to make of that statement.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The President's speech and other stories

The National Assembly have resumed from their long recess and gotten down to the important business of lawmaking. Except that our distinguished legislators did not pass any new laws yesterday, rather, they spent a good deal of their time going on the attack. The distinguished Representatives want the President to "immediately dismiss" the Director-General of the Securities and Exchanges Commission based on the recommendation of its ad-hoc Committee in July. While we genuinely believe that the Reps have a bone to pick with Ms. Oteh, we must point out to them that the Stock Market crash occurred before her tenure.

Both Houses of our bi-caramel legislature asked the CBN to "immediately" suspend its planned introduction of a N5000 note. You see, the lawmakers believe that the CBN does not know just how bad or good our economy is, and that the apex bank's argument about the new note helping the economy only smacks of the influence of those perpetual saboteurs at the World Bank and IMF. "If a doctor treats a patient, it is left for the patient to say how he is doing," harrumphed Ali Ndume while somewhere, a Boko Haram member wondered why his funding was drying up.

It is possible that Boko Haram would soon be overtaken as our country's number one security headache if the threat by the Bakassi youth is anything to go by. You see, October 10 would make it exactly 10 years since the International Court of Justice ruled that Bakassi Peninsula should be handed over to Cameroon. If Nigeria fails to lodge an appeal against that ruling by that date, then the good people of Bakassi would find themselves having to turn east to Yaounde for their monthly allocations, rather than West to Abuja. Again, it turns out that they would also be supporting the Indomitable Lions at the next footie-fest rather than the Super Eagles. Considering that the Lions were beaten 2-0 by lowly Cape Verde and as a result may not even be at said footie-fest, some Bakassi youth would rather remain Nigerian, or failing that, become even "better" than Boko Haram.

As if the prospect of someone besting Boko Haram isn't bad enough, someone else has bested them by taking down the websites of the Defence HQ and the Navy. Luckily, personal details of top officials of both services have yet to make their way to internet forums as the details of SSS officials did a few weeks back. Here at Times Square, we've had to confer with our resident Tarzan's Monkey to find out why it appears to be so easy to break into the websites of our security services. He sat on his computer, pressed some buttons, and said some nerdy stuff such as ASP, IIS, Windows, Apache, PHP and Linux. Whatever all of that means, so we had to leave him to bounce away and continue swinging from tree to tree.

Meanwhile, the President has swung a major right hook into #OccupyNigeria. GEJ said that the protests which rocked the country in January over the removal of petroleum subsidies were staged by "unpatriotic elements". According to the President, the demonstrations were not carried out by ordinary citizens of Nigeria, but by people who were given bottled water and expensive food. We have said before that GEJ is someone we all like and would love to have a beer with, however, we must, as patriotic citizens ask him not to heat up a polity already unhappy as a result of the current fuel scarcity by making denigrating statements concerning a popular movement. There are more pressing issues that require our President's attention such as the flooding that has displaced tens of thousands of people in Taraba state.

Best of the rest

And the Prez is at it again. This time, he has announced to us all that there is nothing special about Lagos. We agree with him. The city is a slum. It has a lot of bad roads, especially the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway which has been abandoned more or less by the Federal Government. But then again, almost every other city in Nigeria is a slum. The difference between Lagos and the others is that it is our economic capital. Foreign Ed tells us that you will never hear a Barack Obama speak negatively about New York...
Former Veep Atiku is asking that Nigeria reverts to a two party system. Tarzan's Monkey just swung by and mentioned that he thinks that Nigeria is already a two party system, PDP and the others. We'll toss him a banana.
Two of our columnists are on fire this morning. Zainab is unhappy about the reaction of some of her fellow Muslims to the movie made by some attention seeking nut-heads in the United States, while Matilda is very clear that Nigeria is a waste of space when a vast majority of the population exist on a basic level.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Their Honours will remain in place

Our President yesterday told the world that anyone who has a national award, but has "questionable" character, or participates in "questionable" actions after the awards have been given would be stripped of the awards. While we love Dr. Jonathan and would like to have a beer with him someday, we must point out that some of his soundbites are (language - DT Grammar Police). We must call out (language - DT Grammar Police) for what it is, and point out that the President made his statements simply to appear like he is doing something. Truth be told, there is no basis for asking the National Honours Committee to withdraw an award when the National Honours Act of 1964 does not give the President those powers. Maybe, just maybe, he can get the lawmakers to amend the Act so that he will be granted such powers. But that will bring up the question of what will happen if Baby Ed is given a National Award by President Jonathan today, and then President John Obi Mikel in 2028 does not like Baby Ed's face. Like the thinking?

In any event, if the President is really serious about withdrawing Nigerian National Awards from people with questionable character, then there's no need to set up (yet another) committee to compile their names. The courts have helped already, and this shortlist would be a decent place to start: James Ibori, Olabode George, James Ibori, Diepriye Alams, James Ibori and Lucky Igbinedion. Then we can throw in the entire Olympic Team for good measure.

Yesterday, the army announced that they had killed Boko Haram's spokesman, Abu Qaqa. The man alleged to be Abu Qaqa was in a car with two other "high-ranking" members of the Islamist sect when they met a checkpoint, he tried to bail, and promptly got shot. The others in the car have been detained at a secret location where they are said to be singing high notes. As for Abu Qaqa himself, we are expecting a statement from him any time soon claiming responsibility for the murder of Borno state's Commissioner for Justice, Zannah Mallam Gana who was shot to death last night in the town of Bama. The Commissioner's death once again highlights the state of seige that our country's north east has been living under for almost three years now.

From one place under seige to another, and residents of the Lagos Islands who normally have a go at residents of the Lagos Mainland appear to be fast losing those bragging rights, particularly in the area of security. You see, while those on the Mainland have to put up with the occasional robber, it appears to have become a matter of fact for residents of Oniru, Agungi and Victoria Island especially. A victim told Gbenro that most people are scared of reporting to the police, or sharing their experience because the robbers have gotten so bold that they might actually return for another bite at the cherry.

On the issue of cherries, there will be plenty to go around Abuja residents as their city will host a food and drink carnival in late November, which will allow a lot of legislators take yet another break from the tedious task of law making and mingle with common folk, and pay for their stuff with a few coins.

You see, getting your grubby hands on coins will no longer be a difficult ask as the Central Bank has concluded plans to turn our ATM machines into mini versions of Viva Las Vegas. CBN blazer, Chidi Umeano announced that the introduction of these ATMs would hasten the acceptance of coins by Nigerians, while in the background Okoro Ed picked a phone to call his Chinese contacts and ask for the price of coin ready GMG bags. Ka-ching!

Best of the rest

Irregular columnist Jude Ezue got off the phone with his Chinese manufacturers, was quite satisfied with the results of the conversation, and is actually suggesting to us that even N500, N1000 and N5000 be denominated in coins!
It appears that the Chinese in Nigeria are bent on being involved in today's newsletter, and some of their staff decided to keep them there by drowning in a Chinese owned swimming pool. Funny enough, no one reported Martins Odion and Richard Dada missing for a week! God bless the dead.
Retired NEPA staff will soon have their pension problems behind them, and hopefully we will have some light.
Finally, in a bid to keep them alive longer to collect more pension, the Lagos state government is shutting down illegal health facilities.

Monday, September 17, 2012

On arrested ex-ministers and scarcity of petroleum products

Hope you had a great weekend, not like that a certain former minister of the Federal Republic had. Times must be hard if your name is Emma Iheanacho. First you get accused of dealing in illegally acquired petroleum products, then get picked up by people belonging to organisations that were once under your jurisdiction, then told to go and sin no more, then told that there would be a court case anyway. While we are at it, his company has been sealed up. Not that that contributes to the fuel scarcity currently creeping up in Lagos and parts of western Nigeria. That was caused by insecurity, the pipeline leakage at Arepo in Ogun state, andthe murders of three of the engineers sent to take a peek at what the problem could be.

Insecurity is still something that is a major issue, and yesterday, an official of the Nigerian Civil Defence met his end when gunmen walked into his house. They gunned down his wife, daughter and brother for good measure, and walked away. This was shocking news, but sadly the kind that we are slowly beginning to become inured against in Nigeria because senseless shootings happen at a frequency that is sadly becoming all too regular.

In more insecurity news, gunmen last night shot five Christians in Bauchi. Nine others are receiving treatment from that incident.

The insecurity in the north has begun to have an effect in Lagos as it's one of the issues blamed for the cost of beans which has trebled in the last six months. A bag of the basic ingridient of moin-moin now goes for N37k as opposed to N13k causing a shortage. Expect regular akara quaffer, Yinka to go on a starvation diet when he returns to Lagos from Oyo where he went to cover the Oranmiyan week and returned with the outrageous claim that Oyo was once one of the most powerful kingdoms in Africa, a claim that Sly in Benin is very likely to dispute given that Sly is from that particular warlike breed that inhabit Edo state.

Edo state asides from the decent elections held there recently, has been in the news for mainly the wrong reasons. Such as the long running war between multiple confraternities, which appears to have gone beyond the boundaries of tertiary institutions within the state. In Sly's piece about the current battle, he lets us know that "almost every male above 18 in Benin without a life-threatening physcial ailment is a cultist", and since 2+2 usually equals 5, we can extrapolate that since Sly is a male in Benin, without a life-threatening physical ailment, then Sly is a (snip - DT Lawyer).

That close shave with slander and libel is something that a lot of social media users do not even begin to think about in their daily rants on Twitter and Facebook and BBM. This lack of concern about the effect of their words is something that has caused a lot of consternation for senate presidents. On their part, House of Representatives speakers would like more social media in government.

Best of the rest

One of the victims of social media gone wrong is the late Cynthia Okosogu. At least four people have been arraigned in court following her murder, two of them, Nwabufor Okwumo and Chidiebere Ezike had already confessed to being the masterminds of the whole scheme. However, two other suspects, Gideon Okechukwu and Nonso Ezike are still loudly protesting their innocence.
Crooner, Davido has denied that he is wanted by the police. A national newspaper had reported that the kid was wanted for assault, but the singer through social media, informed all his "beloved fans and friends" that no officer has given an order for his arrest.
Swinging back to the issue of insecurity, and the Nigeria Customs Service found a cache of 3000 shotgun catridges in Ogun state. Look at it on the very bright side, 3000 people will remain with us.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Anambra, Kogi, and the resource curse

Obafemi Martins is a rich kid, and has done what rich kids do when they are fed up. With not a care in the world, he's left the freezing wasteland of Russia and its resource curse and gone on holiday to sunny Spain, where while the economy is a bit of an issue, the lack of government presence brought about by too many big guys fighting over oil is noticeably absent.

And thus it was that oil was discovered somewhere in what we think is Anambra state, and the President visited a few weeks back to declare the state one of our oil producing states, and the people rejoiced. But suddenly, it appears that the people from Odeke, are no longer Anambrarians as Kogi state's head kaftan has declared them to be Koginarians, or whatever adjective it is by which indigenes from Kogi state are referred to. Captain Wada in his statement delievered right after President Goodluck announced that Anambra had joined the league of states with environmental problems, said, "Kogi state will soon join the league of oil producing states in the country." However, it appears that Anambra's big red cap has taken exception to Kogi's claim. "Since the President commissioned the facilities of Orient Petroleum in Anambra state, some groups and states have been trying to lay claims to the ownership of the oilfields located here," harrumphed Peter Obi, while nearby some policemen cocked their guns.

The Anambra police in question, were involved in a gun battle in which they snuffed the life out of a robber and arrested four others Wednesday night in Agulu. Items recovered from the men of the underworld include a Kalashnikov, a pump action an a mini bus. Police mouthpiece, Raphael Uzoigwe told us that the gang had been terrorising people in assorted locations including Nkpo, Umuoji, Ojoto and Agulu, so do not expect the people in central Anambra to shed a tear any time soon for the departed.

However tears are being shed and quite profusely in Katsina as businesses there are wailing over a power outage that has lasted for two weeks. The complaint from Daura to Sandamu to Zango has been the same: total power failure. Residents now rely solely on generators to run their businesses, and those who cannot afford generators, namely most of them, have simply shut up shop. Some jubilant staff in NEPA would rather blame a damaged transformer than their own incompetence, while the more cynical amongst us would note that the problem apparently began soon after a certain Professor shuffled off of his desk...

Speaking of PHCN (I prefer NEPA - Baby Ed), it turns out that there are more than 300 cases of litigation against the company which have to be resolved before its privatisation. Apparently, many people sue PHCN, while on the other hand, PHCN itself sued some people, we were told by the head honcho of one of the companies meant to handle NEPA's transition from a public behemoth to nimble private cats. A snap poll taken in the newsroom cannot determine what NEPA could possibly sue people for, and the same poll indicated that our correspondents wonder why there are only 300 lawsuits against the company. Maybe those poor journalists should lead by example and head for the courts themselves.

The courts on their own part are trying rather hard to decide on the competence of the Lagos Coroner to hold an inquest into the Dana Air crash of June 3. Remember that Lagos has made an effort to get to the bottom of the crash, but some people have questioned the authority of the state to hold an inquiry into an incident that happened on its territory. Expect the judgement on that little issue to be delivered on September 28, exactly two weeks from today.

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ElNathan is back to the office, and he's not too pleased that we implied that he was high yesterday. He's at pains to explain that he had a problem with his motor mechanic, and as a result had to churn out something concerning said mechanic.
The Americans have issued their customary warning to their citizens in Nigeria. Maybe they know something we don't?
The MDG are behaving like a lot of high end research firms and telling us something that we know already. This time around, an MDG suit has taken the pains to inform us that producing HIV drugs locally will reduce the cost. Of course it will Mr. Gbenero, you do not pay shipping and import duties for stuff from Mummy's Kitchen.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bitter kola has magical powers

It would appear that bitter kola has some magical powers. It is an antibiotic, it can heal your lungs, and improve your breathing, or your ability to scream if you are from either Abakaliki or Ofada. You see, the people of Abakaliki, and Ofada, are likely to scream in even more terror, while the people of Llongwe in Malawi will squeal with delight as Nigeria is set to add Malawi to the guys from Thailand as our preferred source of rice. Yes, the President it seems asked the good people of Malawi to sell us their excess ricegiven that we lack to ability to produce the stuff that has quickly overtaken eba as our national staple.

Just as well, given our helplessness at feeding ourselves. Better to beg than to starve to death as a certain study would seem to suggest that we are. The given impression is that we are starving to death. Consider this, if 13% of Nigerian kids are malnourished, then it goes without saying that their parents are malnourished. The argument can be extrapolated further if you are creative enough to say that 13% of our population is malnourished.  Given that only last October, our population officially hit 166millions, it would imply that 21.58millions at least, are malnourished in Nigeria. That is just less than the population of Ghana!

Not that the Ghananese have much over us nowadays given that their new President's first visit outside his country was to Aso Rock to pay homage to Big Brother, but we must take a look at the mirror and wonder what kind of Big Brother we are. Do we set a good example for others to follow? Do our big wigs set a good example for normal citizens to follow? Somehow the news that our Army chiefs deemed it as beneath their status to obey the summons of a court controlled by bloody civilians puts a lie to that belief. Nigeria's big men do not set good examples for Nigeria's small men.

And why should they really? When a couple can easily be remanded to Kirikiri at short notice over a case of missing kiddies while someone who was removed from office and charged for fraud is welcomed back with open arms and a waiver to contest for the soon-to-be-vacant governor's stool in Ekiti state. No, we do not set good examples.

However, we do hope the President will set us on the right path at least when he hosts our heroic Paralympians, and not-so-heroicoverunder 20 girls to dinner on Saturday. This next line is to go down on our knees and beg GEJ to grant the Paralympians something more than just cassava bread. They deserve it.

On to things that are deserved, or not, and Nigeria has racked up oil production to a three year high. Oh shoot! We talked about that yesterday, what we didn't talk about was the fact that Nigeria's new, improved, output, along with increased output from Angola and Libya has shot up the total output from that not-too-useful cartel known as OPEC. Expect the Americans to reduce the amount of gas guzzlers that they send our way now that they can use them.

But then again, the Libyans have a lot of sucking up to do to the Americans after the monumental blunder of killing a US ambassador in an American election year. Broda Barack must be breathing fire. Maybe we should give him some bitter kola.

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A CBN blazer spent a good deal of yesterday afternoon trying to explain why his organisation has suddenly decided to do away with those polymer notes. "Securency is the only producer of polymer currency in the world and so we have been resorting to single sorting for banknotes which we don't think is good for the country," wept CBN suit Tunde Lemo, while pointedly forgetting that he was with the CBN when we were told that those notes were the best thing since sliced bread. There's also the little question of allowing a foreign firm patent rights to our legal tender...
A man was allegedly caught stealing electrical cables at the Oji River Water Scheme in Enugu. Problem is that he had been caught by the cables a week earlier, and since live cables can be quite merciless, he could not tell us his side of the story.
For those of you missing regular Thursday columnist, ElNathan John, don't worry, he failed to show up for work this morning, effects of too much drink last night. He will be with us tomorrow. In the meantime, his place is taken by Semiu, who makes a convincing case of why Victor Moses's name will soon be on the mouths of every Ch£l$kyy fan. Provided he doesn't ignore the Hazard lights of course.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On the President's sudden return

Yesterday our President cut short his three-day visit to Botswana and Malawi, for reasons that have yet to be disclosed. What we can tell you with certainty, is that the President left Gaborone, the Botswanan capital in a bit of a hurry. What we can tell you, as a result of an off-the-record chat with a source in the Presidential Villa, is that the security aides around the First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, have been changed and their communications cut off. What we can't tell you however, is the current state of health she's in.

Mrs. Jonathan's health is of concern to all of us, because having been his spouse for more than a decade, it only makes sense that Dr. Jonathan will be affected by whatever is happening to her. We can only continue to wish her a quick recovery, and call on the Presidential media team to handle this matter with as much openness as the situation will allow. Frankly, the speculation going around social media, born out of secrecy, is in our opinion, doing more damage to our President than good. We need him focused.

His focus is needed because our economy, contrary to figures being spewed by a lot of other government bodies, is in a not too good state of health. It turns out that 800 companies have exited our manufacturing sector in the last two years. 800! That would mean tens of thousands of Nigerians thrown into an unfriendly labour market without ceremony. This makes the government's move to finally collate data on the number of unemployed people in the country most urgent, and most welcome. However, based on the speech given by the president of the Chamber of Commerce (NACCIMA), the cost of fuel has a lot to do with the cost of doing business in Nigeria. Which is why the news of a petrol scarcity in Osun state is really scary.

Probably not as scary as the impending food crisis in Adamawa, or the floods in Enugu. You see, the coming shortage in Adamawa is as a result of flooding, which has been happening at record levels in the last two years. Flooding, and not enough hands to take up farming, which is why Lagos Governor Fashola's challenge to okada transporters to take to the farms rather disobeying the new traffic laws in the state is interesting. While we find his challenge to the riders a little heart-warming, we also recognise that a lot of them have no training at all in farming, and as a result we are genuinely afraid that not a few might become miscreants.

Miscreants abound a lot in our society, as poor Cynthia discovered at the cost of her life a few months back. Thankfully, the alleged perpetrators of her dastardly murder would soon be brought to book. That will go a long way in finding closure for her family, as will releasing her body for burial. Now that her autopsy has been completed, we sincerely hope that the relevant authorities will expedite this process. It is time to set Cynthia's family on the long road to recovery.

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For those of you groaning under petrol scarcity, here's a bit of ironic news, Nigeria's oil production has hit a three year high.
Despite the government's best efforts to ensure that we have petrol in our cars and generators, PENGASSAN is not quite sure. Following the murders of three of their members in Ogun state last week, the union is considering withdrawing its services.
However, just to ensure continued supply, 19 petroleum product lade ships are among 79 waiting at the port for clearance.
Isaac Anyaso has finally had it with Emeld Anyaso. Following two failed attempts to get a divorce from her, he calmly informed a judge yesterday that he would shuffle himself off the mortal coil should the split not be granted.
Not to bore you with bad news, but the World Health Organisation tells us that Nigeria is the only country in the world left with polio types 1 and 2.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

U bi tif, I no bi tif...

Musa Sada cut a worried figure yesterday. You see, it is rumoured that one of the clauses he signed up to in his performance contract with the President has to do with the little problem of kid gold miners in the Zamfara corner of our country. Unfortunately for him, since 2010 at least 150 people (or 400 depending on whether you chose to listen to sources other than the government) have died from the dangerous lead side product of the enterprise, and what is even worse, the small sum of N650millions budgeted to assist save lives appears to have developed Usain Bolt-like qualities. Not so says Mr. Sada, then proceeds to tell us that the money, rather than aping the fabled Mr. Bolt has rather chosen to be more like the Nigerian contingent to the London 2012 Olympics.

For those of you who are into fairy tales and dreams coming true, Scottish, or British (success has many fathers), tennis player Andrew Murray finally overcame his chronic case of stage fright to win a tennis grandslam. The first by a Scottish, or British (success has many fathers), male since before almost all of you reading this morning email were even a twinkle in your daddy's eyes. The new world number 3 overcame the daunting task of winning the fifth set against Novak Djokovic who we all know has incredible stamina...

...and stamina would just be the virtue that Nigerian airlines are wishing for now, especially given the fiasco that is happening with Air Nigeria. The airline's hoodoo has become so severe as to have one of Nigeria's more reliable carriers, Aero Contractors really worried. You see, the Asset Management Company is apparently bent on merging both carriers, but according to an Aero skirt, they are not a little worried about the "mess" left behind by Air Nigeria's leading babariga. She had a pretty long moan with our correspondent, using words such as 'anxiety', 'mess', 'labour' and 'troubles' in the same breath. Air Nigeria's own PR blazer pointedly ignored phone calls and text messages.

Speaking of people who are tired of being ignored, doctors in Kano are fed up of the state government's blocked ears over the CONMESS issue, and have decided to remind Rabiu Kwankwaso that despite the high influx of patients into such spots as Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, a walk out is not out of order. Their thinly veiled threat makes it quite clear that the government in Kano will not have the luxury of sacking all of them and replacing them because of a "lack of infrastructure and manpower".

From one unhappy story of a lack of manpower to another seeming one, and Nigeria's top cop has assured Las Gidi residents that they can keep hitting the clubs on weekends despite the killing of six people by men of the underworld on Sunday. Yesterday, the police in the state got 114 more patrol vehicles, and 52 more powerbikes. We do hope that the current petrol scarcity in the megapolis would not prevent our new crime fighting toys from being put to good use. Mr. Abubakar on his part, couldn't resist the opportinuty to remind us that crime in Lagos has been on the downswing in the last six months. A fact probably buttressed by the increasing number of arraignments (and dissolution of marriages) we are seeing in the courts.

Yes, our courts have been a tad busy recently, as would be easily testified to by Idris Wada, Kogi state's head honcho who yesterdaywas told by the highest court in the land that he committed no sin in getting into the coveted chair at Lugard Lodge in Lokoja. We can only spare a small thought for the defeated ACN candidate, Abubakar Audu, but then remind him that his lot is better than others who also lost at court, such as the unfortunates at Uyo Prisons who might just be seeing a light at the end of their tunnel if the implacable march of nature continues. They might just one day wake up with no prison walls around them.

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Fans of M-Net's Tinsel will no longer have Damilola Adegbite's pretty face to adorn their screens with. The stunning starlet has decided that she wants to leave the torchlights of the small screen for the kleiglights of Nollywood.
The Committee set up to look into the PHCN Pension Fund has submitted its report. Expect another committee to be constituted to look into its report.
Worried by the growing number of people who can't spell their names, the FG has set aside N1billion for adult literacy.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gunmen on the loose in Lagos

Our columnist, Sylva Ifedigbo is launching a book with a rather morbid title. Right after moaning to us about the new rage on facebook, twitter and BBM. Apparently, he is not interested in #SavingSomeoneElse because he would rather put the proceeds from his book launch to more useful things like having a good weekend's rest such as we had at Times Square.

We sincerely hope your weekend was as peaceful as ours was, initially. Quite restful it was, until some gunmen shattered it at the Ikeja-Along bus stop yesterday afternoon. In a scene reminiscent of a poorly acted Nollywood movie, the gunmen opened fire on a bus, killing the driver and a policeman who was seated in front. Presumably the same robbers went on to re-enact the same scene at Anthony Village and Oba Akran. There were also incidents in Agege and Ijesha. As of the time of writing this morning newsletter, the men had yet to be caught. We sincerely wish the dead a peaceful rest, and we sincerely hope that the Lagos government will put a lid on the seemingly worsening security situation in the state or simply give us the right to have our own guns.

You see, when a government pays lip service to security, that lip service will eventually lead to things falling apart, and vital services shutting down. And thus it would be, that a vital service would be shut down if our telcos have their way. Following the apparent shift in strategy by the Islamist group Boko Haram, a shift which puts the telcos in the direct line of fire, the body to which all the telcos belong has made it clear that they are quite ready to shut up shop. It doesn't make sense to them that a base station costing somewhere in the region of half a billion naira would just go to waste. So they expect the government to actually secure their property, or else...

...Problem is that the government might just be busy with the more important issue of national awards. A list released yesterdayproudly informs us that 149 people will have various new acronyms to add after their names. A statement by the Special Duties Office (finally, a use for Special Duties), tells us that Globacom chief, Mike Adenuga, will get the highest award in the land, while happily, none of our Olympians will get an award.

However, we do have a criticism of the list given that at least 13 Paralympians deserve national honours for bringing pride to Nigeria, something that we have not experienced in a very long while. Congratulations to the sportsmen, especially the powerlifters who left our shores with ZERO fanfare, and went on to utterly dominate their discipline. Of Nigeria's 13 medals at the London Paralympics, 12 came in powerlifting, along with quite a few world records.

Moving on from those who brought us pride, to those who ought to be ashamed of themselves. The Lagos government has vowedthat "no stone will be unturned" (emphasis ours) in prosecuting three former civil servants who swindled a lawyer of N49million on the pretext of helping her with the payment of land charges. While trying to stay away from the obvious temptation of declaring them guilty before a court of law does, we can only wish such people a fate that will make dankest Kirikiri look like a holiday in Obudu.

A holiday in Obudu is probably what a certain James Ibori would be longing for at the moment. Problem is that he is stuck in a not-too-nice place, and will remain stuck there for a while. How long is suddenly very uncertain. As you read this email, he should be seated at the Southwark Crown Court room that has not treated him so well, to listen to a judge decide on two little matters. First, what to do with the sum of £50million recovered from him, then whether he will be on his way back to Nigeria for his grand reception in five years time or less.

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Her opinion is definitely not the popular one at the moment, but right after Levi Ajuonuma's son started an online petition against the resumption of Dana Airline, Joan tells us that grounding an airline because of a crash is a classic kneejerk Nigerian reaction.
Five years may not be able to save the one million people whom the World Health Organisation reports do their bit to help reduce global population on an annual basis.
3 NNPC staff were killed by pipeline vandals in a sad turn that indicates that pipeline vandalisation is not something done by poverty stricken villagers after all...
While the usual accusations of using mothers to play against virgins have reared their ugly heads in some assorted quarters, FIFA boss, Sepp Blatter, wants to oogle the Falconets next time, so he has charged the NFF to keep this group together.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Quacks in Aso Rock

And so it turns out that the First Lady really is ill, and was in Germany for treatment. Truth is this: she's the wife of our President, but also ostensibly a private citizen, so she has a right to seek treatment in any part of the world where her money can take her. However, what is disheartening is the news that has come along with the story of her treatment. Doctors domiciled in the Presidential Villa apparently misdiagnosed her ailment. If some of our best and brightest, who have access to the best facilities in the land can misdiagnose an issue of such gravity, what hope have the rest of us lowly masses? Maybe it's time for us to start putting money aside for a medical trip the next time we sneeze, lest it be misdiagnosed as the common cold rather than whooping cough.

In all of this, we sincerely wish Mrs. Jonathan a speedy recovery.

A speedy recovery is what is most definitely needed by the relatives of victims of the Dana Air tragedy. News filtering through to us says that Dana Air is attempting to get the inquest into the June 3 tragedy stopped dead in its tracks. The airline has filed an affidavit supporting a motion by a nebulous group, the Civil Aviation Round Table Initiative, seeking to stop the inquest over jurisdiction matters. In our humble opinion, that is most definitely a PR failing on the part of Dana especially given that they have quickly reopened their offices in the wake of the FG's reinstatement of their right to fly.

The right to fly is what some of us will be hoping for after our Lottery Commission has announced that MTN's "wonder plane" promo is genuine. This morning Baby Ed was seen furiously scratching recharge cards in the hope of winning the plane. Given Baby Ed's proclivities though, one wonders whether he actually wants to own the plane, or flog it to the nearest billionaire and raise some much needed revenue.

Since Baby Ed is really into revenue, he could do well to take lessons from the Nigerian Customs Service's, Tin Can Island Command. Apparently in the month of August, the Service was able to generate a whopper N18.4billion in revenue. We do wonder though, how they managed to generate the last N4billion odd of that sum given that four days to the end of the month, they'd managed to generate 'only' N14billion. For some others in the newsroom though, switching jobs is the next target now, and being members of the Customs Service is what beckons...

We can almost guarantee that it is not only poor, ragged, journalists that are thinking of a career change. Some of the engineers in our mobile operators must be having similar thoughts now that the insurgents have made it quite clear that telcos are in their sights.More masts were burned yesterday, and 16 people added to the list of casualties of that limited conflict happening in our country's north-eastern quadrant. The Police Inspector General has promised to increase surveillance around base stations across the land.

Speaing of the police, kudos must go to them for the swift and nearly efficient manner in which they have handled the tragedy of poor Cynthia Osokogu. We must warn bodies such as the Tourism Development Corporation that attempting to distract from the meat of the case at this time is in very poor taste. Had you done your job properly in the first place, 'illegal' hotels wouldn't be springing up, down, left and right across the land. This is no time to attempt to appear competent.

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Cheluchi uses the First Lady's illness to talk about the widening gully between those who can afford to go on medical tourism, and those who cannot.
In yet another blow to press ownership, or freedom, well, depending on which side of the divide you are on, a court has ordered erstwhile Newswatch head honcho, Ray Ekpu, to stop acting on behalf of the media house. The court agreed with Jimoh Ibrahim who wants to call Ray's bluff.
Meanwhile more trouble is brewing across Mr. Ibrahim's sprawling empire as staff of Air Nigeria should be holding a carnival, or protest, in Ikeja, just about the time you read this morning newsletter.

Do have a great weekend, and talk to you on Monday.