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Halliburton MD, Senior Staff Clean Lagos Streets


IN an effort to set an apparent ‘corporate example,’ top management and senior staff of Halliburton, an oil and gas outfit, last week defied the early morning rain to observe the monthly Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Day on Sanusi Fafunwa Street Victoria Island and its environs.

The senior oil workers, who were led by the Managing Director of the company in Nigeria, Mr. Steve Segota, were all dressed in red T-shirts with complementing fez caps, as they cleared debris from Sanusi Fafunwa Street and its axis, disposing same with the help of the Lagos State waste disposal vehicles.

Speaking to The Guardian shortly after the three-hour exercise, Segota, said the ‘Halliburton family’ was merely responding to the “call to civic, but social duty.

He explained that the exercise was in recognition of the day’s importance within the workplace, as the company was desirous of contributing its quota to the activities marking the day, through its time-tested Performance Improvement Initiative (P.I.I). This, he said, could be better done by embarking on a painstaking cleanup of the environment.

Segota, who was practically hand-picking refuse, bagging them and loading them on to two waiting lorries, said: “We wanted to contribute to the greater society in recognition of health day and be a part of it as a company. So, everyone, who is out here today, volunteered; they were not asked by their managers to do so. No, it was a personal decision and commitment,” Segota said.

HOWEVER, the company secretary, Mrs. Chigo Wabali, said the activity was in line with Halliburton’s tradition of giving back to the society, as, according to her, the tradition is also observed in the company’s corporate head office in Houston, Texas, as well as in Port Harcourt.

“We have had several things done for the communities as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). We have renovated some schools, given scholarships to the youths, provided water to communities, computers to schools; but we are very specific on environmental sanitation and it takes individual commitment to come and clean the drainage, sweep the streets and pack the refuse.” The P.I.I team, according to Wabali, is saddled with the responsibility of improving whatever initiative the company has set up.

Asked if the exercise was not a public relations gimmick and part of concerted efforts to launder the company’s image from the bribery scandal that has confronted it in the last few years, Wabali said: “This has nothing to do with the company’s public relations. Most of the negativity that have been said and written about the company is not totally the true picture. Sometimes, newsmen write stories, maybe for whatever purpose they deem it.

Abuja Monthly Sanitation Moves To Satellite Towns
In the bid to improve on the state of environment within the Federal Capital Territory, the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), under the new minister, Bala Muhammed, has moved the monthly sanitation exercise to the satellite towns.

The exercise, which was recently carried out in the towns for the first time, witnessed an impressive turnout in some area councils, while compliance was low in other places.

The aim of involving the satellite towns, according to the director of the environmental board, Abubakar Yabo, was to make them as clean as the city centre. He disclosed that the agency had a mandate from the minister to ensure that the exercise was effective throughout the FCT.

For the three hours the exercise lasted, Yabo went round the area councils to monitor the level of compliance. While a high turn-out was recorded in Bwari Area Council, a visit to Gwagwalada revealed otherwise. There was non-compliance by the council authority, which was supposed to enforce the exercise by providing necessary logistics. However, more than 17 offenders were arrested and fined N1,000 each.

Yabo, in an interview, said that he would meet the chairman of the council to know the reason for the non-compliance. “What happened in Gwagwalada is really sad, there was non-compliance, but we will take this up with the minister and the permanent secretary, they will know what to do about it,” he said.

In Bwari Area Council, Mpape and Kubwa were visited and the people complied with the exercise as required by officials of AEPB and security personnel. About 14 offenders were prosecuted at the Kubwa environmental court, one of whom was a fuel attendant, Abodeh Odili, arrested along Kubwa expressway. He was caught dispensing fuel during the sanitation hours.

Though the road was not as busy as usual, a few passenger buses were seen doing business. Some private cars and people were also seen at the Dutse Alhaji junction where the AEPB chairman stopped to detain them while security operatives blocked the expressway to stop vehicular movement.

The AEPB boss later said that though some people were arrested, the sanitation exercise was highly impressive bearing in mind that it was the first time the satellite towns were involved. “The level of compliance is highly impressive. I am happy with what I saw in Mpape, Dutse Alhaji and along Kubwa road. We are not here to fight people but to show them the importance of environmental sanitation so that we can sustain it.

“All we need to do is ensure that area councils collaborate with us by providing the necessary logistics within their councils to ensure that we have enough personnel to cover the entire area,” he said.

AEPB’s representative who monitored Kwali area council, Arome Chukula, said the turn-out was impressive and the exercise was effective. “People worked and a lot of offenders were prosecuted. The environmental health officers worked enthusiastically,” he said, hinting that more than 20 offenders were prosecuted.

Durumi Village: Abuja’s Town Of Refuse
Durumi Village is one of the remaining slum settlements within Abuja metropolis. Located close to Area One in the Abuja Municipal Area Council, it accommodates a good number of Abuja residents, both civil servants and artisans.

The settlement is made up of plastered mud houses with virtually no amenities. Water vendors are everywhere and the streets are earth roads. Though some houses within the village have been demolished in the past, with the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCTA) planning to resettle the indigenes, a lot of people who visit the FCT in search of greener pastures continue to troop into the village to seek shelter. This is responsible for the increasing number of structures and people in the village.

Not only is the condition of living more like what obtains in other satellite towns, but despite its location within the city, Durumi is filled with refuse. Almost every corner harbours huge refuse dumps that arrests attention, coupled with the bad drainage system.

There is a big market within the village, which serves the need of the people. Its entrance is littered with a huge refuse dump where various food vendors have their stalls, showing the poor sanitation among the people.

Asked about the environmental condition of the village, an official of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board told The Guardian that the village was not part of its responsibility but that of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC). He informed that the council has the mandate to evacuate refuse from the village daily but had not been doing that.

“When the people are resettled, we will move in and provide materials such as bins for refuse disposal. By then, it will be part of the city centre but for now, it is under AMAC,” he said.

Director of the board, Abubakar Yabo, an engineer, who corroborated this, said that his agency will only take over the sanitation of Durumi Village when the Resettlement and Compensation Department of FCDA had fully resettle the people. “For now, that place is for AMAC,” he added.

Meanwhile, an official of AMAC said it was part of AEPB’s responsibility to pack refuse within the village since the area falls within the city. On its own, the council says it is planning to begin a campaign on clean environment within the council area by mobilizing community leaders, market women and youths for a monthly clean up exercise.

Public Relations Officer of Resettlement and Compensation Department at FCDA, Joseph Attah, had informed that indigenes of Durumi village would be resettled in phase two of Wasa resettlement project, which he said was at 50 per cent completion.

Wasa project, according to him, is located within AMAC and is expected to be about 10 minutes drive from Apo by the time the Outer Southern Expressway is completed. Also to move along Durumi in the second phase of the project would be Galadimawa.

Delta Diaspora Doctors To Unveil Hospital
Members of the Delta Diaspora Doctors (DDD) have commended the foresight of Delta State government in ensuring equity and fairness in the distribution of social amenities among the various communities in the state.

President of the group, Dr. Isioma Okobah, pledged that it would continue to partner with the government, to ensure that governance reaches the people at the grassroots.

She made the declaration in an online interview from her Georgia, Atlanta base, United States, noting that the Stephen Okoh Memorial Community Health Centre at Igbodo, a private initiative that has reached over 95 per cent completion will soon be commissioned. The initiative will be equipped with the state-of-the-art medical facilities when completed.

Okobah disclosed that the last batch of medical equipment ordered from the US had arrived the country, adding that installation is due to commence soon. The N150 million hospital will be commissioned by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in the second quarter of the year.

Okobah said that the annual free healthcare programme organized by the diaspora doctors for rural communities in Delta would be given an added boost at the end of the year.

The group also pledged total support for the re-election of Uduaghan in the 2011 governorship election. Okobah said the adoption of the governor was based on his excellent track record in the realization of the three-point agenda of his administration, which has impacted positively on the well being of the people

She listed Uduaghan’s micro-credit scheme, dualization of network of roads, construction of the Asaba International Airport, new government house and the free medical programme for women as some of the projects that have endeared the administration to the people.

Okada: Riding To An Early Grave
By Gbenga Akinfenwa

The influx of commercial motorcycles, popularly called okada into Nigeria’s transportation system has become a national phenomenon. In major cities across the country, where traffic jam is commonplace, okada is always the best bet to rescue stranded commuters anytime, any day. In fact, in most places including villages and hamlets where vehicles dare not tred, services of okada riders are always sought as a bailout option.

Until recently, okada was used majorly for transporting agricultural goods from farms to the villages, and from there to the market. But suddenly, the trend changed and it has turned to a major means of transportation and livelihood. This sudden change is, however, linked to poverty and joblessness ravaging the country.

In economic sense, it has provided livelihood for jobless Nigerians, hastened transportation of goods to markets and also provided door-to-door mobility. It has boosted the country’s economy, as the number of dependants has reduced drastically. It has also served as an alternative to the non-existent white-collar jobs.

But its disadvantages, according to medical experts, far outweigh its merits because of its health hazards and risk for both riders and passengers. The Guardian investigations revealed that an average okada rider makes as much as N2,500 to N4,000 per day. In Lagos, Onitsha, Port Harcourt and other big cities where business thrives, they deliver a minimum of N1,000 per day, but in Ogun, Osun and other less fancied states, their daily delivery is nothing less than N500.

For installment payment, the likes of Jincheng, Sinoki Supra and Haojue Suzuki are given out at the rate of N110,000 to N120,000 for the duration of six months, depending on bargaining power. But Bajaj Boxer and Boxer, which fall between the range of N90,000 to N98,000 at present are always given out at the rate of N150,000 for seven months only.

The availability of such credit facilities and provision of such by government had drawn many job seekers into the business. Unofficial information at the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Lagos State, revealed that over a million okada riders operate within Lagos alone. According to the Sector Commander, Jonas Agwu, “if proper census is taken, the figure could be higher than that.”

But aside its economic advantage, it is a very risky venture. Motorcycle accidents are always fatal, with riders and passengers seriously hurt or even dying in the process. Different cases of motorcycle accidents are recorded daily in emergency wards of orthopaedic hospitals across the country.

Though the FRSC boss noted that okada accident is not as bad as it was before, statistics shows that over 8,000 cases of okada accidents were recorded in hospitals in Lagos in 2008. The introduction of crash helmets by FRSC early last year has helped to reduce the rate of motorcycle accidents.

Early this month, a middle-aged man who was riding on an okada on his way to his office very early in the morning, met his untimely death at Igbala Junction, Sango, Ogun State. Last month, about 10 okada riders were crushed to death by a container-carrying truck, which lost control while descending the Ilo-Awela road, off Sango toll-gate in Ogun State.

One of the casualties, a graduate, was expected to resume at his new job that morning but decided to work with his okada for the day. Unfortunately, he was crushed beyond recognition. Another rider, Mr. James, nearly lost his two legs when an on-coming vehicle rammed into his bike while carrying passengers. He spent over three months in the hospital, even though he still limps and groan in pains.

Another fatal accident that occurred recently in Papalanto, Ogun State involved a family of three – the father, mother and their son. The father and mother died instantly. It was only the small boy, turned orphan that survived the accident.

In addition, okada operators are exposed to harsh working conditions. Come rain or shine, they face the arduous task of meeting with their daily delivery, in order to win the heart of the owners and guarantee their next day’s work. Their undue exposure to sun and cold reduces their life span and sends them to early grave.

According to police sources, most of the robbery and kidnapping incidents are carried out through okada. In some cases, people returning from banks had been trailed to isolated places where they are robbed of their money. As a result of these, some states have called for the outright ban of okada, while some including Lagos have restricted their hours of operation. In Ikeja, Ikoyi and most part of Victoria Island, they cannot work beyond 8pm, while at other parts of the state, the deadline for operation is 10pm.

Recently, Anambra State joined the clamour for the ban of the motorcycle business because of the increasing wave of crime in the state. It took a peaceful protest by members of Motorcycle Transportation Union of Nigeria (MUTUN) for the state government to stay action on the looming ban.

Further investigations reveal that okada implosion has done more harm than good to Nigeria’s economy. It has rid the country of qualified workforce and vocational artisans. Most riders are graduates, skilled labourers and artisans who have shunned their professions for the quick money okada riding provides.

The FRSC boss, however, hinted that okada is not a conventional mode of transportation, adding that he was looking forward to the day government would give order for its eradication.

Ejigbo, Isolo Communities Get Water And Light
By Bola Olajuwon

POTABLE water and electricity, just like other basic necessities of life, are essential for human needs since the two have ripple effects over other societal activities and healthy living.

However, the lack of these essential basic needs has become a source of worry to a large segment of Ejigbo communities in Lagos State, like many other parts of the country, for a long time.

But through some constituency projects worth more than N100 million facilitated by a member of the House of Representatives, Joseph Jaiyeola Ajatta, and in fulfilment of his promise to provide infrastructural amenities to the people of his constituency, some facilities were commissioned last weekend in various parts of the area, with residents, once again, heaving a sigh of relief.

And at the commissioning, their appreciation were expressed through songs, folklore and dance. But ironically, like Oliver Twist, they asked for more!

The projects, which include solar-powered boreholes and transformers, are sited in Ejigbo and Isolo, comprising Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency II, which Ajatta is representing in the National Assembly.

The benefiting communities include Akinbaiye Street in Isolo, which got a 500 KVA brand new transformer sited opposite the Oba’s Palace, while Okomala Primary School, lIasamaja, Ago Are Community, Apena Ward, Bale Street, Ishaga, and Adeyemi Kuforiji Crescent, Okota got solar-powered borehole each.

Other beneficiaries of solar-powered boreholes are Ilamose Street, Fadu, opposite Police Divisional Headquarters, Ronik Polytechnic, and Double Powerline, all in Ejigbo.

Speaking at the commissioning of one of the projects, Ajatta observed that though his primary duty was to make laws, he stressed that he would not relent in providing and bringing developmental projects to his constituency.

According to him, elected representatives of the people owed it a duty to identify the specific needs of their people and work towards achieving them. He pointed out that this realisation informed his decision to set up the Centre Point Computer Institute, which had since inception graduated more than 11,200 youths from his constituency.

Ajatta stated that in addition to the projects that were being commissioned, there were others that would be commissioned in due course.

These include motorised borehole at Olokun close, Ishaga; hand-pump borehole at Bale Street, Ishaga; provision of transformers to about 10 different communities, construction of NNPC access road in Ejigbo and three public health centres at Bucknor, lIamose and Morning Star Area.

Ajatta said he had instituted regular empowerment programmes to alleviate poverty in his constituency, pointing out that at the last edition of the empowerment programme held on December 17, 2009, various items worth more than N15 million were distributed.

He, however, appealed to the people of the constituency to see the projects as their own and ensure that they are functional at all times to serve the purpose for which they were built.

He, therefore, tasked the landlords and residents associations and community development associations to oversee the maintenance of the amenities.

Youths Challenged To Serve Humanity
By Isaac Taiwo

Youths in the nation have been asked to inculcate the idea of living for their fellow beings by associating at their tender age with organizations that are set up to serve humanity.

Giving this advice at the presentation ceremony of Miss Ekpen Ikheloa as Charter President of Inner Wheel Club, Alausa, District 911 and Miss Pamela Ebo, Charter President of Inner Wheel of Eko, District 911 respectively, the National Representative/President, Inner Wheel Club, Mrs. Ayotunde Odelana, underscored the importance of inculcating the idea of service to humanity to the youths, with a view to getting them committed to uplifting the down-trodden.

She commended the newly elected chartered presidents for their decision to help the helpless in their early lives rather than thinking of great things for themselves.

“You should not take your responsibility in the club for granted but ensure you perform to the best of your ability because as you get yourselves occupied on programmes such as this at an early life, you are unconsciously preparing yourselves as good mothers tomorrow.”

Commenting, Ikheloa, a year four student of Banking and Finance in University of Lagos said part of her training include knowing the importance of assisting the less privilege. She enumerated her programme for her service year to include the gift of sight, which entails free eye test, provision of free glasses and awareness campaign on breast and cervical cancer.

Also commenting, Ebo, who is a final year student of Mass Communications at Lagos State University, said she had decided to create awareness for cervical cancer and kidney problem, where a doctor would be invited to give lecture on the prevention.

Inner Wheel District 911 Chairman, Mrs. Oluyemisi Elegba who recently organized awareness campaign on prevention of HIV/AIDS and burn injuries with the theme: “Help Bring Hope” as well as a project titled, ‘Cottage Industry for Women’ where five caterers, 10 hairdressers and 15 tailors were empowered with oven for baking, driers, and sewing machines, said the need to inculcate into the lives of youths, the idea of rendering services to humanity has become necessary so that when the old Inner Wheel Club members are out of the scene, the young ones who are now being assisted to carry out their various programmes would continue the initiative of the organisation.

Ada George Road: Sore On The Face Of Amaechi Govt
By Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt)

Despite ongoing road constructions and rehabilitation projects in Port Harcourt by the Rivers State government, some parts of the city appear to be neglected. One case in point is the ever-busy Ada George Road that connects the Agip Road, Eleporanwa, Wimpey, Iwofe and Choba Road.

This road is collapsing and dangerous to ply. There are many deadly spots on the road and whenever it rains, residents and business operators in the area park their vehicles at a far distance and then walk down to their houses, offices and business locations.

Such is the excruciating experience of many who helplessly use the failing Ada George Road. The road’s deplorable state has led bus drivers plying from Mile 3 to Choba, where the University of Port Harcourt is situated, to increase transport fare from N100 to N150.

There are also fears that if the road is not repaired soonest, transporters plying that route may well abandon their trade because, according to them, despite the increase in fares, they still end up returning 80 per cent of their profit to mechanics as a result of the bad condition of the road.

The situation has also increased the volume of traffic in the area; a distance that would ordinary be covered in 20 minutes now takes about two to three hours.

Mr. Christian Obia with his wife and six children were seen walking down the road when he reluctantly said, “you can see the road is very bad, people cannot move out when it rains, even vehicles hardly pass through this place and that is why I have to park my car somewhere and walk down to church with my family. Except you want to visit the mechanic everyday, that is when you have to drive through this road.”

A businessman in the area, Mr. Emeka Nduh narrates his ordeal, “the situation has been like this for sometime. It has affected business seriously. Nothing is actually going on. The major reason for road traffic is because of this bad road. Sometimes people will be on traffic for two to three hours.”

He added, “if the road is motorable, it will ease the traffic but because the road is so bad, the little area that is good is where everybody wants to follow and that is why we usually experience traffic here. Also whatever we get goes to mechanic due to bad road. We are just working for the mechanic.”

Nduh, who has been in the area for about 10 years disclosed that it was only a temporal rehabilitation work that was done on the road, lamenting that a major road construction work was yet to be witnessed.

“This is a very busy road that connects to other important roads in the city, so many people do not pass here with their vehicles; sometimes they park their vehicles and use Keke NAPEP or trek down; it affects our business because when the road was good, people come around to buy things from us but look at how dry the whole place has become, because customers find it difficult to drive through this area,” he grieved.

Another resident of the area, Tambari Nengi, was visibly angry with the situation of the road. While acknowledging several on-going road construction projects across the state, he regretted that the government seems to have abandoned people living and doing business in Ada George.

“Government has abandoned us; this is the only short cut we have to pass to our house and yet it is abandoned. The deplorable condition of the road has been like this for several months now; whenever it rains, I am usually afraid, my heart skips and I find it difficult to return home because of fear of bad road.”

Continuing, he said, “this situation is a challenge to me; personally, I have contributed some money to put the road in a manageable position to save our vehicles but the situation has gone out of hand and now requires immediate government intervention.”

He, however, appealed to the state government to get down to work and do something immediately to save residents and businessmen from the risk they are exposed to as a result of the deplorable state of the road.

Undoubtedly, Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s administration is doing a lot in the construction of many new roads and rehabilitation of existing bad ones, but one wonders why the ever busy Ada-George Road is neglected.

When contacted to know the plan of the government for the rehabilitation of the road, the state’s Commissioner for Works, Mr. Dakuku Peterside, failed to respond as his phone rang severally without any response; a text message from The Guardian was not also responded to, while a visit to his office proved fruitless.

The commissioner had in a recent parley with journalists claimed that the Ada George Road was among the roads rehabilitated during the ‘Operation Zero Pothole’ in the state last year. While assuring that the road would soon be re-awarded for total reconstruction, expansion and drainage, he maintained that rehabilitation work had earlier been done.

He further disclosed that about 55 road projects were completed by December 2009, adding that the second phase of the road construction programme would take-off in the first quarter of 2010. But the first quarter ended last weekend.

Girl Disappears In Church, Pastor, Others In Police Custody
By Odita Sunday

The pastor of Truth Foundation Ministry, Ejigbo, Lagos, Samuel Akpan, and other key officials of the church are presently responding to detective’s enquiries on the sudden disappearance of a 15-year-old Chinedu Kalu.

The teenager and her parent had gone for prayer and deliverance at the church, when the incident occured last month. The mother of the girl, Mariam Kalu, had taken her four children to church for the special service, where they were allegedly asked to fast for the deliverance after being told by Pastor Akpan, during a prophesy session that the children were under the spell of ancestral spirits.

The mother of four said in a bid to cleanse her children from the influence of the “ancestral spirit”, she complied with the directives of the church and provided money and other requirements for the deliverance of her children.

The deliverance, which held about 1a.m was deemed successful by the pastor and one Evangelist Mary Smart, who allegedly prayed to release the family from the grip of the said spirit.

The service later went awry when they could not find Miss Kalu. Her whereabouts has since then remained a mystery.

Narrating how the disappearance started, mother of the victim said “last month, I told one of my friends that I needed prayer for my children; she then took me to this Calabar church called Truth Foundation Healing Ministry. I met with the reverend and they asked me to bring my children for prayers. When we got there, the General Overseer said that my children had ancestral spirit disturbing them so that was how he asked us to come for deliverance.

“He directed me to one Evangelist Mary Smart, who told me to bring N10,000. She said she was supposed to charge me N100,000 for the deliverance, but since they knew that I cannot afford it, I should just come with N10,000. She asked me to also bring native egg, native sponge, 21 unripe plantain, five N5 and N10 notes, palm oil and groundnut oil for the deliverance.

“I gave them N8,000 and all they requested, after which they said we should prepare for fasting. The G.O. and the evangelist conducted the deliverance inside their church, before myself and my children slept off. But when I woke up in the morning, I did not see my daughter again. I immediately raised alarm and the men of God told me that I should not report to the police, that God will bring my daughter back. But since March, I have not seen her and that was why I went to report to the police.”

The suspect, Akpan, however denied the allegation. He said God would vindicate him at the end of the day. “This woman came for deliverance with her children. That particular child that is missing now is an imbecile. The mother brought her for prayers and we prayed for her and the other children in my church. I left them inside the church and went to sleep after the deliverance.

“When I woke up and came to the church the next morning, she came to me that her daughter was missing. We looked around for her but we did not see her; I told her that God would bring her back and she even reassured me that, that was not the first time the girl will disappear like that. So I said we should pray. I did not report to the police because I believe that God would bring her back.”

Police spokesman, Frank Mba urged Lagosians to practise their religion with caution. “It is unfortunate that this woman went to seek for spiritual help for her children and now her daughter is missing, right inside the church. We implore people to practise their religion within the confines of the law.

“We are working hard to locate this girl and reunite her with her family. Anybody found guilty of the crime will be prosecuted. This girl was missing since March but the case was never reported to the police! A responsible clergyman should have reported immediately; and this speaks volume, as the Commissioner of Police has ordered a discreet investigation into the matter,” Mba said.

Lions Club To Build Destitute Home In Lekki
By Abiodun Fanoro

RELIEF may soon come the way of the increasing population of destitutes and beggars on the streets of Lagos, just as their population is also expected to be drastically reduced.

This ray of hope for the less-privileged was given recently by the president of Lagos (Doyen) Lions Club, Akinrogun Tunde Odanye, during his investiture as the 44th President of the club.

In pursuit of this, Odanye announced to the gathering at the Metropolitan Club House, Victoria Island, Lagos, that a large expanse of land had already been acquired on the Lekki-Epe highway, where the destitutes would be camped.

According to him, the multi-million naira project would include houses for accommodation and farm, where they would practice agriculture as well as craft works.

Important dignitaries, especially members of Lions Club graced the occasion. Among whom were the governors of Ogun and Osun States, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola respectively.

Oyinlola was, however, represented by the state’s Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Mr. Ayo Akinsanmi. Other dignitaries at the occasion include Lagos State former Chief Judge, Justice Omotunde Ilori, Retired Justice M.A. Olugbani, and Representative of Afenifere in Europe, Otunba Kole Omololu.

Speaking at the occasion, Daniel urged Nigerians to rescue the country by voting into power in 2011 credible and patriotic leaders. The governor warned that the mistake of the past should not be repeated, which was responsible for political uncertainty the country faced some few months ago.

Daniel reminded the people that their fate is in their hands at the next general elections, urging them to elect leaders who would represent them well and would always strive for their welfare and wellbeing at all times. He, however, expressed belief that if the likes of Odanye could be elected into power, it would swell the rank of the few of them who today put service to the people first in governance.

Daniel, himself a Lion and former president of the club, extolled the virtues and leadership training quality of the club, which, according to him, was one of the few institutions that helped prepared him for the leadership position he now occupies as governor.

The Osun State governor also lauded the vision of the club president, especially his concern for the common man as shown by his plan to give a new lease of life to destitutes and beggars.
Swimming In Troubled, But Familiar Waters
By ‘Fisayo Soyombo

These are not the best of times for Chief Vincent Eze Ogbulafor, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party. For him, the last five, or so, months have not been particularly eventful.

Amidst many unsavoury roles he was said to have played in the wake of the President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s almost endless absence, Ogbulafor was to later draw the ire of Nigerians, when, in the heat of Jonathan’s emergence as Acting President, he publicly declared that his party would maintain its zoning of presidency to the north, in the 2011 presidential election (with or without Yar’Adua), urging Jonathan not to run for the presidency. His insistence on PDP’s zoning formula, at that trying time, ought to have been bandied about within the party’s private meetings, many had thought. He stayed many months in the news, and for the wrong reasons!

OGBULAFOR is grabbing the headlines again, and this time also, for the wrong reasons. At an Abuja High Court, he is expected to defend allegations of fraud leveled against him. According to court transcripts, he is alleged to have conspired with contractors and officials of the National Economic Intelligence Office to defraud the government of N170 million. Specifically, he was said to have, among others, used a bogus corporation – Henchriko Nig. Ltd. – to award himself a contract worth about N83m; and employed a surrogate – Chris Abuajah – to grant himself another contract of N11.5m in the name of a company known as DHL Consultants.

His latest battle had begun two weeks ago, when the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC) preferred charges against him. And it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Already, the Prince of Olokoro (Abia State) was already facing crunchy times in PDP, after some of its most prominent founding members, under the aegis of the PDP Reform Group, commenced mobilisation for the dissolution of the Central Working Committee (CWC), headed by Ogbulafor. Although party members who constitute the stronghold of the group – Ken Nnamani and Adolphus Wabara (former Senate Presidents); Aminu Bello Masari (former Speaker, House of Representatives); Peter Odili and Achike Udenwa (for governors) and Rochas Okorocha (former presidential aspirant) – have been suspended, the threat of an implosion is yet to be quelled. For the mean time however, he may savour the threat of having defeated, even if momentarily, a bid to oust him from the headship of the CWC.

BUT Ogbulafor is a man of travails. And somehow, he almost always manages to escape, unscathed. In November 2009, for example, questions over his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) status were raised. It was alleged that he was serving as the Commissioner for Works, Land, Housing and Transport in Abia State at the time (1993) his Curriculum Vitae (CV) claimed he underwent the mandatory programme. A copy of the resume on PDP’s website had indicated that he graduated from the Lake Forest College, Illinois, USA, in 1975, and then waited for another 18 years, before participating in NYSC, as a 44-year old in 1993. Less than 24 hours after questions were raised, he immediately tweaked the document, which bore 1993/1994, to reflect Nov. 1993/1994. Today, the NYSC drama is history.

There were also petitions during his time as Minister of Special Duties (Economic Affairs) involving misappropriation but the petition did not metamorphose into his prosecution. Whether or not Ogbulafor will be the victor this time is yet to be seen. But if early signs are anything to go by, then developments are ominous. His legal team, led by Mr. Joe Gadzama, frantically sought to obtain a stay of arraignment, but Justice Ishaq Bello threw away their application, granting leave of prosecution to the ICPC.

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