PDP chairman Mu’azu meets IBB in Minna

National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu on Friday held a closed-door meeting with former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, in continuation of his nationwide consultation with elders of the party.

Mu’azu, who led a 15-man team, arrived the Minna Uphill residence of the former Military President at about 12.05pm and went into a closed-door meeting, which lasted till 1.05pm.

Members on the entourage of Mu’azu, which included the PDP National Youth Leader, Alhaji Abdullahi Maibasera; former House of Reps Speaker Gali Na’aba and the state PDP acting chairman, Tanko Beji, were excused from the meeting to enable the two leaders to have a confidential and private session.

Emerging from the meeting, Babangida declined to speak with journalists on the meeting.

The former leader bluntly told newsmen that he was not prepared to talk.

“I am not going to say a word. I am not talking,” he said.

Muazu said he was in Minna as part of his reconcilatory move and in continuation of his meeting with some elders of the party since he emerged as the chairman of the ruling party.

He said, “I am here in continuation of my visit to our elders and I had a fruitful meeting with the former President. It was a fruitful meeting.”

Mu’azu, while declining to give details of the meeting, said, “What we discussed is not meant for public consumption. All I can say is that we had a fruitful discussion”.

He also met with the Niger State governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu.


Change of cousel stalls hearing in N100bn suit against Lagos

Change of counsel on Friday stalled hearing in a suit filed by a community in Badagry, Lagos, seeking N100 billion compensation from the state government over alleged demolition of houses.

The Atinporome Community is demanding the sum from the state government and some others, which allegedly demolished 1,500 houses in the community.

Twenty-four landlords led by Mr Charles Adu filed the suit on behalf the community, before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

The Inspector-General of Police, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Commander of Area `K’ Police Command, Ministry of Police Affairs and Lagos State Task Force on Environment are defendants in the suit.

The others are the Lagos State Ministry of Physical and Urban Planning, Lagos State Lands Bureau, Attorney-General of Lagos State and Attorney- General of the Federation.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that substantive hearing was to begin in the case on Friday but the new Counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr Declan Kemdrimi, prayed the court for more time to study the court processes.

Consequently, Justice Ibrahim Buba adjourned the case till Feb. 10 for hearing.

In the originating summons, the community asked the court to declare that the fundamental rights of the landlords an 72 other members of the community were violated by their indiscriminate arrest, torture and detention by the defendants.

It also sought a declaration that the defendants forcefully demolished its members’ property on Dec.16 and Dec. 17, 2013.

The community equally sought an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the defendants and their agents from arresting, intimidating, detaining or disturbing its members.

FG committed to meeting EFA goals -Wike

The Minister of Education, Mr Nyesom Wike, on Friday in Abuja said the Federal Government was committed to plugging the gaps in the education sector.

The minister made the remark at the launch of the 2013/2014 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, which has the theme “Teaching and Learning: Achieving quality for all”.

Represented by the Director of Human Resources, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Francis Ikigbe, the minister said the move was in its drive to meet the Education for All goals.

“Quality teaching and learning will be provided for teachers to complement the efforts of the federal government in its drive to achieve the goals,” he said.

The minister, while urging teachers to be patriotic in their profession of passing on knowledge to the learners, said education was key to total transformation.

He added that government was also set to provide quality teachers who would be broad-minded and knowledgeable towards achieving the EFA goals.

Wike said government was making deliberate efforts to develop teachers to transform the nation’s education sector.

“Global efforts to improve and increase the number of educated people are high and Nigeria must not be left behind in this global drive.

“The quality of education is determined by the quality of teachers and, as such, Nigerian teachers must be well-equipped to develop the sector,” he said.

The minister, however, linked the slow progress in the sector to the huge population of students, compared to the ratio of teachers, as well as conflicts and extreme poverty.

An International Education Consultant, Prof. Pai Obanya, emphasised the need to improve the education sector so as to be able to compete favourably with the rest of the world.

Obanya noted that the quality of teachers should be a central goal which would drive the upward movement of the sector.

“Education reduces poverty and boosts jobs and growth, offers the poor a route to a better life, transforms employment prospects and increases the chance for better work conditions.

“Education boosts prosperity, since it fuels economic growth and quality of education is vital for economic growth,” he said.

The consultant called on government to unlock the potential of teachers in the drive to solve the learning crisis in Nigeria.

The Education Adviser, Department for International Development, Mrs Esohe Eigbike, also reaffirmed the United Kingdom’s support in the effort to boost the quality of teachers and students in Nigeria.

Eigbike added that the UK was also committed to supporting schools improvement to help Nigeria develop the education sector.

The Director of Oando Foundation, Mrs Tokunbo Durosanya, in her remarks, said the foundation was set to adopt 100 schools by 2015 with the aim of developing the infrastructure for teacher training.

She said the foundation was also ready to build partnerships which would raise a platform for the next generation to improve the education system in Nigeria.

Lead poison: Group raises the alarm in Zamfara

The Community Emergency Response Initiative, an NGO, on Friday warned of the imminent recurrence of the outbreak of lead poisoning in Zamfara, unless the government took steps to check the illegal mining of the mineral.

The Executive Director of the organisation, Mr Benson Attah, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja that government needed to intervene, to avert a repeat of the crisis with claimed no fewer that 400 lives in 2010.

“One thing that struck the project team was the fact that illegal mining has been going on for long.

“Governments seem not to have control over the activities even though it is losing so much revenue that should have been used to develop the sector and the state.

“This brings to the fore questions like, what is the role of the environmental and regulatory agencies and why are the laws not being enforced on defaulters?

“Why are policies on solid minerals not being implemented? These questions beg for answers which cannot readily be provided.”

Attah noted that the state’s authorities had been exposed to the importance of proper consultation among relevant partners, particularly in such sensitive situation that required wider intervention.

“The implication of having people exposed to contaminated waste a second time and particularly without being equipped with personal protective equipment, contradicts the objectives of the whole intervention.”

The poisoning, which affected Gusau, Bukkuyum, Anka, Maru and Gummi Area Councils claimed many lives and caused severe disabilities in the state.

Lead poisoning, also known as ‘plumbism’, accounts for 0.6 per cent of global disease burden, according to the World Health Organisation’s estimate.

It is also responsible for approximately 600,000 cases of intellectual disability in children annually, says the UN agency.

Lagos begins issuance of electronic C of O

The Lagos State Government on Friday in Ikeja issued electronic Certificates of Occupancy to 55 property owners in the state.

Gov. Babatunde Fashola presented the documents to the beneficiaries at a brief ceremony to officially kick-start the issuance of the e-certificates.

The first set of beneficiaries are property owners in the various government land schemes.

Presenting the documents, Fashola said that the migration from the paper title to electronic C of 0 was the state’s response to the problem of document counterfeiting.

According to him, the illegal printing of the “Yellow Paper” by some unscrupulous people has affected the reliability of the paper C of 0 as a legal title to properties in the state.

He said the new electronic title was to eliminate fraud in the system and ensure efficient land administration in the state.

“This new electronic document is more secure as it is designed to eliminate cloning and issuance of documents that are not genuine.

“Those issued with this e-C of O can be sure they have bought land rather than law suits. The new document guarantees safety of properties,” the governor said.

Fashola said that the government would speed up the process of issuance of the new document to clear the backlog of applications.

He said those with authentic paper C of O had nothing to worry about as the old document still provided temporary legal cover on their properties.

The governor, however, stated that holders of the “Yellow paper” would soon be required to turn in their old document for the new e-C of 0.

Shedding more light on the new document, the Permanent Secretary, Lands Bureau, Mr Hakeem Muri- Okunola, said the issuance of the e-C of O was faster and less cumbersome.

According to the permanent secretary, applicants who fulfil all necessary conditions will be issued the document within 45 days.

On why property owners in government land schemes were being issued the new document first, Muri-Okunola said the step was purely for ease of administration.

“We are focusing on properties in government’s plans because we are just starting; very soon, we will extend it to private purchasers of land as well,” he said.

One of the beneficiaries, Mrs Abimbola Akinyemi, commended the government for the initiative and noted that it would put the minds of property owners at rest.

“I feel so great getting this document and I want to commend the government for the idea.

“With this e-C of 0, property owners can now feel safe with their properties as it has eliminated the many problems with the old paper document.

“I applied online and within a short time, here I am with the document. This is unbelievable and it is really commendable,” she said.

Kaduna frees 62 inmates

The Kaduna State Government said on Friday that it had pardoned and freed a total of 62 inmates in January. Also pardoned were four prison inmates awaiting trial at the Kaduna Central Prison.

Mr John Randa, the Litigation Officer in the state Ministry of Justice, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna that the inmates were discharged on the basis of no witness to prosecute the matter.

Randa said that 24 inmates were recommended for discharge while 10 cases were ordered for legal advice, before the next prison visit.

“This exercise is to decongest the prison in Kaduna.

“We are planning to release a total of 800 inmates, based on minor offences, as they constitute the large chunk of those in prison,” Randa said.

APC’s season of defections and internal crisis

In this piece, JOHN ALECHENU writes on the struggles for the control of the structures of the All Progressives Congress in some states of the federation and the party’s attempt to resolve them.

The struggle for the control of the structure of what is arguably Nigeria’s fastest growing political party, the opposition All Progressives Congress, between the foundation members of the party and five governors who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the APC, has led to some unintended consequences. It has led to a crisis of confidence, which has arguably become the opposition party’s greatest challenge.

Members of the three legacy political parties -the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, the All Nigeria Peoples Party and the Congress for Progressive Change- have been locked in a supremacy battle over the control of the party’s structure in some states.

This situation is more pronounced in four northern states of Adamawa, Sokoto, Kano and Kwara.

Just as the party was celebrating an influx of aggrieved members of the ruling PDP into its fold, two key figures in the merger of opposition political parties, which gave birth to the APC, left to join the PDP.

Former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, and ex-governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, eased themselves out of the APC.  The duo, it appeared, felt it was obvious that the party’s hierarchy was more favourably disposed to recognising their arch rivals, Governor Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) and his Kano State counterpart, Rabiu Kwankwaso, as leaders in their various states.

While advancing reasons for his decision to leave the APC, Shekarau told his supporters on Wednesday, that “we intended with the merger to form a solid foundation for the entrenchment of democracy.

“The legacy group sacrificed all interests for the merger, but for the past six months, all agreements reached by the merged parties have not been met.

“No clear leaders, no registration of APC members at any levels. This shows a clear lack of commitment, transparency and accountability to all concerned.”

Ten members of the House of Representatives, who are Shekarau’s loyalists, distanced themselves from the decision which they claimed was unilateral.

But the Interim National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in his response to the defection of the party stalwarts, simply said, “We wish them luck.”

It was however learnt that while the party leadership was grateful to the two for their contributions to the merger, it felt it made more political sense to give serving governors a sense of belonging.

A party insider noted that since party politics is all about getting political power to better the lot of the people, it is better to make concessions to governors who are already privileged to be in power. This approach appears to have worked in Adamawa State, where peace has been achieved.

The duo of Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.) and Markus Gundiri had initially opposed the concession made to the governors by the national headquarters of the party.

The APC had assured the five governors, who defected to the party, that they would enjoy equal privileges enjoyed by their counterparts, who were members of the legacy parties.

Marwa and Gundiri capitulated when the state governor, Murtala Nyako, conceded several positions to his adversaries in the state APC’s Interim Management Committee. The State Interim Management Committee was subsequently inaugurated at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Yola, on Monday, January 27, 2014. The 14-man committee is headed by Kobis Thimnu, who is the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government.

This followed a marathon meeting of the state harmonisation committee, presided over by the National Deputy Chairman, North, Alhaji Bello Masari. The meeting was first of its kind in the fledging party because all the stakeholders participated directly and endorsed the outcome.

During the inauguration ceremony, Masari, Marwa, Gundiri, Nuhu Ribadu, Boss Mustapha and Fati Balla paid glowing tribute to Nyako for his sterling leadership qualities and spirit of reconciliation.

Those, who spoke acknowledged that the governor’s decision to concede several slots paved the way for the peace, harmony and mutual understanding which currently prevail. They all accepted Nyako’s leadership of the party.

An APC insider explains that each state has its peculiarity, saying, “There is no one shoe that fits all types of scenarios.”

Although it appears to be too late for the likes of Bafarawa and Shekarau to rescind their decisions, the party and its members in states like Kwara and others will draw positive lessons from the Adamawa example.