Nigerians need no ‘marking scheme’ to assess Jonathan’s administration – ACN

The Action Congress of Nigeria
(ACN) has said Nigerians need
no ’marking scheme’ to assess
the Jonathan Administration or any
administration at all, noting that
the people know when a
government has impacted
positively on their lives.

In a statement issued in Ibadan on
Thursday by its National Publicity
Secretary, Alhaji Lai
Mohammed, the party also
reminded President Jonathan that
it is not the business of the
opposition to spoon-feed his
Administration on how to govern,
even though the party has,
time and again, gone out of its
way to proffer solutions to the
myriad of problems facing the
nation, out of
sheer patriotism.

”Needless to say that such
suggestions from us and other
well-meaning groups and
individuals have been so
arrogantly ignored by the
administration,” it said.
ACN wondered why President
Jonathan is suddenly irritated
that Nigerians have not given his
administration a pass mark, after
about three years in the saddle
and two years since he was

”Mr. President, Nigerians need no
marking scheme to know that
the rate of unemployment went
up, under your watch, to an
unprecedented 23.9% by
December 2011, according
to figures given by the National
Bureau of Statistics. Today, the
figure must be hovering above the
50% mark!

”Mr. President, Nigerians need no
marking scheme to know that
under your watch, security of lives
and property, as well as the
welfare of the citizens – the raison
d’etre of any government – are at
the lowest ebb. A day before you
demanded a marking scheme from
Nigerians instead of giving them
better life, a popular musician was
attacked by a nine-man gang that
snatched his car and deprived him
of his money in the country’s
economic capital city – the fate
being suffered daily by millions of
your compatriots!

”Mr. President, what marking
scheme does one need to know
that despite the seemingly
impressive economic figures being
reeled out by your administration,
the average Nigerian is worse off
today than he or she was before
you assumed office? What we are
seeing is growth without
development. The so-called 6.5%
economic growth announced
by your Finance Minister is
meaningful only on paper. How
does that help the thousands of
university graduates who
are scrambling to work as truck
drivers? How does it make Lagos-
Ibadan expressway or the East-
West road safer for Nigerians?
”Mr. President, what has been the
impact for Nigerians of the
high foreign reserves figure and
the stable exchange rates for the
naira reeled out by your Finance
Minister? Is it not a cruel irony
that as Mr. President was
luxuriating in phantom economic
indices on the second anniversary
of his administration,
Nigerians across the land could
not even watch him on television
because the power situation has
been exceptionally poor in recent

”And in case Mr. President thinks
it is only the opposition and
the media – his administration’s
favourite whipping boys – that are
scoring his administration low, the
Washington-based global advocacy
and campaigning organization,
ONE, was listing Nigeria – under
President Jonathan’s watch – and
DR Congo among ”laggard
countries” pulling Africa back from
reaching the MDG goals by 2015?
Surely, this global body did not use
any ’Jonathan-style marking
scheme’ to name Uganda,
Rwanda, Malawi, Ghana and
Ethiopia as the top performing
countries in Africa (on the MDGs),
even when they are less endowed
than Nigeria?” ACN queried.
The party said it would not have
wasted its energy on commenting
on the mid-term performance
record of the
Jonathan Administration, had the
President not disingenuously
decided to blame imaginary
enemies of his administration for
his token achievements in the
face of mounting challenges facing
the country.

It urged President Jonathan to
shut his ears to praise-
singers, especially those of the
pig-at-the-trough hue from across
the Atlantic who have never seen
an African government, no matter
its governance record, that is
unworthy of their association, as
they hunt for cheap funds from
despotic governments across
the continent to rehabilitate
themselves back home.

”Mr. President, it is never too late
for you to put your shoulder
to the wheel, shun the political
jobbers around you,
reinvigorate your cabinet by
chasing away the deadwood there
– though some of them come
highly recommended on paper –
and giving Nigerians a more
purposeful governance.
”When that happens, Mr.
President, you will not need to
waste valuable time on lecturing
your much-sapped compatriots
on how to assess your
administration, and you would
have succeeded in rending those
seemingly implacable critics of
yours in the media and the
opposition jobless,”
ACN said.

Unending ripples over unbundling of PHCN

LIKE other sectors of Nigeria’s
socio-economic existence, the
story of the country’s energy
sector since the Electricity
Corporation of Nigeria, ECN,
ordinance No. 15 of 1950,  has
been punctuated by operational
failures. Although, those in charge
of the nation’s power sector can
claim otherwise owing to some
distant and recent reforms in the
But the sad state of the power
sector, is a common knowledge to
both the learned and unlearned
man on the streets of Lagos and
Lafia, as  almost all Nigerians are
victims of the near absence of
electricity in a country of about
160 million people.
It is for this reason, that a lot of
people are not often bothered
about developments in the sector,
even when such developments
could make darkness give way to
light. This situation is already
playing out, following the
liquidation of the Power Holding
Company of Nigeria,PHCN.
Expectedly, this move would have
triggered diverse reactions from
consumers following the planned
exit of government in its
management, but reverse is the
case. This, to a large extent,
underscored the apathy of the
populace to  happenings in the
sector. In fact, but for the dispute
between, National Union of
Electricity Employees, NUEE and
the Federal Government,FG, not a
few would have been aware, that
PHCN had been buried, leaving in
its trail a lot of contentious issues.
Liquidation of the PHCN: These
issues, Vanguard Features,VF,
findings revealed, bordered on
labour matters, job security of
affected staff, how the reforms
would enhance power generation
and distribution, the role of PHCN
in the new set up, among others.
For instance, it was recently
reported that the government had
concluded plans to sack no fewer
than 20,000 workers of the PHCN
ahead of takeover by successful
bidders of its assets.
Protesting PHCN workers
Though the government had come
out to dismiss the report, fear is
the word among PHCN staff across
the country.
Terminal benefits
While the FG recently announced
that  N384 billion will be used to
settle the terminal benefits of
workers  ahead of the privatization
of PHCN’s assets, the workers led
by  the Senior Staff Association of
Electricity and Allied Companies,
SSAEAC, do not feel comfortable
with the decision. The association
has not only rejected it, but it has
like its NUEE counterpart, gone
further to petition the Minister of
Power, reminding government
that labour only gave conditional
support to the planned
privatization of the sector.
SSAEAC in the petition through its
President-General and General
Secretary, Mr. Bede Opara and
Biodun Ogunsegha, warned
government that if it went ahead
with  privatization without carrying
labour along, it would definitely
be counter- productive.
The petition reads: “In furtherance
of the agreement that the unions
in the power sector signed with
government on December 11,
2013, the Federal Government of
Nigeria through the Bureau for
Public Enterprises, BPE, engaged
the services of an international
consultant, Alexander Forbes, to
compute, using the necessary
variables to arrive at the total
terminal benefits due to staff of
PHCN and also determine the
individual benefits. The unions
were invited to work with the
consultant and BPE, to diligently
carryout this assignment.”
Terminal benefits ontroversy: “At
the meeting with the consultant
that was held on 14th and 15th
January, 2013 in Lagos, our
representatives (of the two in-
house unions) on the computation
of terminal/severance benefits,
reported fundamental
observations/errors in the
computation as follows: The salary
scale used in computing gratuity is
not PHCN salary scale as at June
2012, as agreed with negotiation
team under the leadership of SGF.
“Souvenir entitlement was
omitted in computation of total
entitlements as agreed with
Comrade Hassan Sumonu
Committee, in compliance with
our 2010 Conditions of Service.
The variables used in the formula
for annuity by the consultant are
not realistic: (a) interest rate, (b)
inflation rate (c) discount rate, and
(d) life expectancy of each staff.
Alexander Forbes used:
*5% as inflation rate (pension
increase), instead of current rate
of 12.5%; *14% as discount rate,
while the current rate is 11%. The
data used for all staff are not
correct in addition to unclear
assumed life expectancy of each
worker.” According to SSAEAC:
“We are left with no option than
to bring this to your notice, for
immediate redress by directing
the Consultants through the BPE
to correct these abnormalities to
enable the reform to go on as
planned. While our Union and staff
re-affirm our conditional
acceptance of Government reform
despite our preferred position, we
will not allow our members to be
“Any attempt to the contrary of
the agreement reached will be
resisted by the workers.  It is in
the light of the above that we
were surprised at the
announcement of a N384 billion
approval by the Federal Executive
Council as representing total
terminal benefits to PHCN
“This announcement was grossly
misplaced because the Alexander
Forbes Consultant engaged by BPE
had not concluded his assignment
and no figure had emanated from
his work. We do not understand
the rationale for announcing such
a figure. It should be noted also
that only the unions as
representatives of the workers can
confirm the basis of computations
while individual staff will verify
their data.
Report of the valuers of PHCN
“The proposed issuance of
statements of workers’ terminal
benefits at the exclusion of our
association headquarters by BPE
will be counter-productive. The
earlier this verification of staff
data is done the better for
progress of the reforms. We
remind the government that our
support for the reform is
conditional upon the final
settlement of all labour liabilities,
hence the long period of
negotiations and the resultant
agreement which upheld our
Condition of Service 2010.
It would be recalled that barely 24
hours after the government said it
had approved N384 billion for the
payment of all entitlements of
workers of PHCN, and process of
the payment expected to begin a
day after (21-02-13), NUEE
rejected government position,
threatening to shut down the
industry, should government fail
to reverse its position and
perceived provocative utterances.
Similarly, the General Secretary of
NUEE, Mr. Joe Ajero, reportedly
said: “With all sense of patriotism,
we demand also for the report of
the valuers of PHCN assets and
liabilities which actually came up
with the current value of PHCN
put at N200 billion only.
Valuation of a company like PHCN
should be transparently done with
active participation of all
stakeholders. We believe that this
is the only way credibility and
transparency would return to the
whole privatisation process. This
will enhance investors’ confidence
and those of the international
Puncturing Ajareo’s position, a
retired NEPA staff, Mr. Uchenna
Onyewe, told VF that: “I have
been in that system and I know
why they are always protesting.
This is not the first time that they
are threatening fire because of
privatisation. If you know the
height of sharp practices among
these NEPA civil servants, you will
know why the sector has
remained inefficient. Privatisation
is good if well carried out, with all
parties involved having a fair
Also lending his voice, President-
General of Trade Union
Congress,TUC, Peter  Esele, urged
government to make the funds
available to the workers for a
successful takeover of the various
power assets recently privatised
across the country.
Despite these doubts on the
Federal Government’s sincerity, it
has promised that all issues
concerning labour’s severance
settlement in the sector will be
resolved before the end of June
‘“We are finalising on labour.
Labour is what is standing between
us and the handing over and all
the issues that were there had
been addressed. We are about to
begin payment, as soon as the
payments are finalised by June
ending, we will definitely be
handing over to the successor
companies by the end of July; that
is the projection we have here and
that is the stance of the BPE which
has a timeline which was created
with the labour issues in mind,”
Minister  of State for Power, Hajia
Zainab Kuchi noted.

Before you buy a $199 Nexus 7, check the $149 Hisense Sero 7 Pro tablet


The de-facto standard for small Android tablets is arguably Google’s(s goog) own Nexus 7, which debuted last May. I was expecting to see the popular $199 slate get a refresh at last week’s Google I/O event, but that didn’t happen. Instead Google focused on software: Unifying the services and APIs between Android and Chrome. That opens up a window of opportunity for other Android tablet makers. Take, for example, the Hisense Sero 7 Pro, announced Thursday and now available at WalMart(s wmt).

Sero 7On the surface the Sero looks just like the Nexus 7 and it shares many of the same hardware specifications: a 7-inch 1280 x 800 IPS touchscreen, a quad-core 1.3 GHz Nvidia(s qcom) Tegra 3 chip, 10 hours of battery life and 1 GB of memory. The device also runs Android 4.2 out of the box, so the software is up to date. The Sero…

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HTC reportedly takes a cue from Samsung, will offer “Google Edition” HTC One


With 5 million sales already, the HTC One is on its way to help HTC reverse its downward sales and profits trend. Counting on a single product to effectively save a company is a risky strategy though. Perhaps that’s why HTC is now planning a “Google Edition” version of the HTC One even though it previously denied any such Android(s goog) device.

Stock Galaxy S 4Paul O’Brien of MoDaCo reported the change in strategy on Friday, with multiple sources saying the phone would be announced next week. Like Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 “Google Edition”, announced last week at Google I/O, the HTC One would lose HTC’s Sense software and run a plain, or stock, version of Android. This would be akin to the Nexus 4 phone, which Google sells directly through Google Play.

According to O’Brian:

“It seems as though the very existence of the Google Edition device has created considerable…

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AT&T’s GoPhone prepaid service can now connect to LTE


AT&T(s t) is no longer saving its sparkly new LTE network for its high-end contract customers. On Friday the company confirmed it is opening up the faster speeds of its LTE and HSPA+ systems to GoPhone prepaid customers.

Those high-capacity connections are only available to customers who buy a compatible device (many phones in GoPhone’s portfolio are either 2G-only or can only access slower HSPA speeds) or to customers who bring their own compatible devices to the network. And yes, that includes new high-end smartphones like the iPhone 5(s aapl) and the Galaxy S 4.

AT&T sells data add-ons to GoPhone plans, ranging from $25 a month for 1 GB to $5 a month for 50 MB. New customers will get immediate LTE and HSPA+ access, but current customers will have to wait a bit. An AT&T spokesman said the carrier is working on ways to extend these new network…

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CAN you imagine a tropical beach where elephants graze by the seaside, hippos swim, and whales and dolphins gather offshore? On the African coast, there are 60 miles [100 km] of beaches where such scenes are still common.
For such scenes to be enjoyed in the future, this unique coastal area would clearly need to be preserved. Happily, this conservation priority was addressed on September 4, 2002, when the president of Gabon announced that 10 percent of Gabon—including stretches of pristine coastline—would be set aside as national parks.
These wilderness areas, covering some 10,000 square miles [30,000 km2]—equivalent to the size of Belgium—have much to offer. “Gabon has the potential to become a natural mecca, attracting pilgrims from the four points of the compass in search of the last remaining natural wonders on earth,” noted President Omar Bongo Ondimba.
What makes these reserves so important? Some 85 percent of Gabon is still forested, and as many as 20 percent of its plant species are found nowhere else on earth. Furthermore, its equatorial forests offer a haven for lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, forest elephants, and many other threatened species. The recently created parks will convert Gabon into an outstanding custodian of African biodiversity.
Loango—A Beach Like No Other
Loango National Park is possibly one of the most outstanding wildlife destinations in Africa. It conserves miles of unspoiled beaches fringed by freshwater lagoons and dense equatorial forest. But what really make Loango’s beaches unique are the animals that walk along the sand—hippos, forest elephants, buffalo, leopards, and gorillas.
Why does the beach attract those animals of the forest? Lining Loango’s white, sandy beaches are pastures where hippos and buffalo can graze. Rônier palm trees, which grow alongside the beach, produce abundant fruit that attracts forest elephants almost as much as ice cream attracts children. But most important of all is the solitude. The only footprints on the sand are those of animals.
The absence of human intrusion encourages the endangered leatherback turtles to choose these lonely beaches as a place to lay their eggs. Rosy bee-eaters have similar nesting tastes, and they excavate their colonial nests in the sand just a few yards above the high-water mark. During the summer months, over a thousand humpback whales congregate in Loango’s undisturbed waters to mate.
Two immense lagoons separate the beaches of Loango from the equatorial forest, and they provide an ideal habitat for crocodiles and hippos. Fish are plentiful in these inland seas, whose banks are lined with mangrove forests. African fish eagles and ospreys scour the open water of the lagoons, while several species of colorful kingfishers search for fish in the shallow waters. Elephants, who love water, happily swim across the lagoons to reach the beach and gorge on their favorite fruit.
Inside the equatorial forest, monkeys scamper along the upper branches of the canopy, while colorful butterflies glide around the sunny clearings. Fruit bats roost in their favorite trees during the day and then, during the night, go about their vital work of spreading seeds throughout the forest. At the forest edges, glittering sunbirds sip nectar from flowering trees and bushes. Understandably, Loango has aptly been described as “a place where you can experience the mood of equatorial Africa.”
Lopé—One of the Gorillas’ Last Stands
Lopé National Park includes large tracts of virgin rain forest, along with a patchwork of savanna and gallery forest in the north of the park. It is an ideal place for nature lovers who would like to observe gorillas, chimpanzees, or mandrills in the wild. There are between 3,000 and 5,000 gorillas roaming the 2,000 square miles [5,000 km2] of protected area.
Augustin, a former park official, remembers a unique encounter with gorillas in 2002. “While walking in the forest, I came upon a family of four gorillas,” he recalls. “The male, a huge silverback about 35 years old, towered over me. He must have weighed at least three times as much as I did. Following the recommended procedure, I immediately sat down, lowered my head, and looked at the ground in a sign of submission. The gorilla came and sat alongside me and put his hand on my shoulder. Then he got hold of my hand, opened it, and examined my palm. Once satisfied that I was no threat to his family, he ambled off into the jungle. On that memorable day, I discovered the fascination of coming into contact with animals in their natural habitat. Although people kill gorillas for bush meat or in the misguided belief that they are dangerous, they are peaceable animals that deserve our protection.”
In Lopé, mandrills, large baboons, congregate in huge groups that occasionally number over a thousand animals. This is one of the largest gatherings of primates in the world, and it is certainly a noisy one. A visitor from Cameroon describes his experience with one of these huge groups.
“Our guide detected the mandrills, thanks to the radio collars that several animals wear. We moved ahead of the group, quickly erected a camouflaged blind, and awaited their arrival. For 20 minutes we listened to the music of the forest, performed by a host of birds and insects. This tranquillity was abruptly broken when the mandrill troop drew near. The sound of snapping branches and loud calls gave me the impression that a big storm was approaching. But when I spotted the [leaders], they looked more like the advance guard of an army. The large males took the lead, walking briskly along the forest floor, while females and juveniles leaped from branch to branch above. Suddenly, one of the large males halted in his tracks and looked around suspiciously. A young mandrill that was moving along in the canopy had spotted us and sounded the alarm. The whole group accelerated its march, and the noise got even greater as they angrily shouted their annoyance. Within a few moments, they were gone. My guide estimated that some 400 mandrills had passed by alongside us.”
Chimpanzees make just as much noise as the mandrills and are even harder to spot as they move briskly through the forest in a constant search for food. On the other hand, visitors invariably see putty-nosed monkeys that sometimes bound along in the savanna bordering the forest. Perhaps the most reclusive resident of Lopé is the sun-tailed monkey, an endemic species that was only discovered about 20 years ago.
The large, colorful birds of the forest—such as turacos and hornbills—advertise their presence with raucous calls. Some 400 species of birds have been recorded within the park, making it a mecca for birdwatchers.
A Haven of Biodiversity
Loango and Lopé are only two of Gabon’s 13 national parks. Other parks preserve mangrove forests, protect unique flora, and safeguard areas for migratory birds. “Gabon has set aside the best ecosystems found in the entire country,” explains Lee White of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “It is not just the size but the quality of the areas conserved that matters. In 2002, they created overnight an optimum national park system, one that captures all the biodiversity of the country.”
Of course, many challenges remain, as President Bongo Ondimba freely admits. “We are talking about a world-wide operation,” he says, “that will doubtless involve both long and short term sacrifices, to enable us to achieve our ambition of leaving these wonders of nature to future generations.”
by Albert Oluwaseun