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
elected.

”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
times?

”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.

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Unending ripples over unbundling of PHCN

By CHARLES KUMOLU
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
sector.
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
cheated.
“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
Employees.
“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
assets
“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
community.”
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
deal.”
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
2013.
‘“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.

Nasarawa massacre: Director arrested, accused of leaking information to cultists

Still trying to fish out the masterminds
of the massacre of dozens of policemen
and security agents in Alakyo in
Nasarawa State about two weeks ago,
security operatives have arrested a
senior director working with the state
government in connection with the
killings.
The officer was alleged to have passed
strategic security information to the
cultists thereby enabling them to
strike with precision on the fateful
day.
Vanguard learnt from a reliable
source that the director, whose name
was given as Mohammed and works at
the office of the Secretary to the State
Government, was privy to most
security decisions taken by the state on
account of his position in the
administration.
Findings by Vanguard yesterday
revealed that angry security agents,
who are still peeved over the killings of
their colleagues by the dreaded
Ombatse cult group, swooped on
Mohammed after tracing some vital
information leaked to the group, to his
phone.
The suspect, who is believed to be an
Eggon native, where the cult has its
roots and base, was reportedly picked
up from his office to the surprise of his
staff, when the security men
handcuffed and whisked him away in a
commando-like fashion.
Mohammed was initially detained and
questioned by men of the Criminal
Investigation Department in Lafia
before being transferred to Abuja for
further interrogation in connection
with the heinous crime.
A senior official of the Nasarawa State
government, who pleaded anonymity
because he had not been authorised to
speak on the matter, confirmed the
arrest of the director and transfer to
Abuja by security men.
The officer said that the man was
arrested after security agents
established a relationship between
him and the deadly cult group in the
state.
The Inspector General of Police,
Abubakar Mohammed, had on Monday
confirmed the arrest of no fewer than
15 officers and men, who allegedly
connived with the cult group to
massacre the policemen in the state.
The IG said the men were still being
investigated to determine their level
of culpability or otherwise in the
offence.
It would be recalled that no fewer
than 96 police officers and men as well
as Department of State Service, DSS,
officials, who had gone to Eggon, about
10 kilometres away from the Nasarawa
State capital, to arrest the leader of
the Ombatse shrine were ambushed
and murdered by the cultists on May
9, 2013.
As at yesterday, the security agencies
were yet to swoop on the cultists, who
are believed to be holed up in the vast
forests in the area, roaring to descend
on any intruder in the community.
The cult group, which had earlier been
outlawed by the Al-Makura
administration, was reportedly
encouraged by some powerful
politicians to continue with its
malevolent activities, hoping to use
them to outsmart their opponents in
the 2015 elections.

Suicide Bombers Kill 20 Soldiers In Niger Republic, Nigeria Mounts Troops Across Borders With Niger

Movement for Oneness and
Jihad in West Africa  (MUJAO),
an Islamic group which claims to
be committed to the
enforcement of Shariah law in
West Africa, has claimed
responsibility for a twin suicide
bombing attack this morning at
the Nigerian/Niger border in
which over 20 Nigerien soldiers
were killed.
A journalist in transit in the
area told SaharaReporters that
the terrorists also injured about
15 other soldiers, while four of
their own were killed.
The terrorists struck in a
military barracks in Agades, one
of the major cities in Niger
Republic, while another group
belonging to the same group
struck in a uranium plant in
Arlit.
According to the journalists, the
suicide bombers arrived in a
bomb-laden car and forced their
way into the military facility.
The journalist also said that
more Nigerian troops have been
deployed to the Niger-Nigerian
border since yesterday, and that
today’s bombings may also alert
the Nigerian authorities to
further strengthen the security
situation.
By SaharaReporters

Janet Jackson becomes a billionaire

Janet Jackson is celebrating reaching an
impressive milestone, earning more than
$1 billion in her illustrious career in music
and film.
The Rhythm Nation’ singer has hit a lofty
milestone, with her personal wealth
exceeding more than $1 billion this year,
following an incredible career in
entertainment spanning four decades,
according to Variety.
The 47-year-old star – whose brother, the
late King of Pop Michael Jackson, also
amassed a vast fortune over the course of
his career – is thought to have made her
windfall from years of touring, album
sales and roles in movies such as The
Nutty Professor II.
Jackson reportedly made $458 million
from various concert tours, a further $304
million from movie roles – including the
Eddie Murphy comedy and Tyler Perry’s
box office hit, For Colored Girls – as well
as $268 million in album sales and $81
million in endorsement and sponsorship
deals.
The famous Jackson sibling joins an elite
club of celebrity billionaires including talk
show queen Oprah Winfrey, legendary
film director Steven Spielberg and Harry
Potter author J.K. Rowling.
As well as her own fortune, Janet shares
the wealth of her billionaire tycoon
husband Wissam Al Mana.
The Control singer secretly wed the retail
magnate, who earned his fortune
investing in the Middle East, last year.
Although Jackson’s career has put her
musical career on the backburner in
recent years, the singer is planning a
comeback this year to mark the 20th
anniversary of her iconic album, ‘janet’.
She said earlier this month: “I am working
on a new project now. We are creating
the concept and initial thoughts on the
music.”

image

By Bang Showbiz