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Nigeria limping towards disaster, says Emeka Anyaoku

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  • Osinbajo, Soyinka, Osoba hail Ogunbiyi at 75
  • Duke blames elites for decay in education

Former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, yesterday, warned that Nigeria will continue to limp and underperform if she fails to revert to the constitution negotiated by her founding fathers.

Anayoku said this as a guest of honour at the book presentation of Yemi Ogunbiyi’s memoirs, ‘The Road Never Fails’, held in Lagos to celebrate the author’s 75th birthday.

Apart from decrying the state of the nation, Anyaoku and other notable Nigerians, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, and former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, paid glowing tributes to the former managing director of Daily Times, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, for bringing intellectualism to the journalism profession.

In his keynote address, Professor Osinbajo said Ogunbiyi is capable of telling a story without embellishments.

Osinbajo said, “I think that by and large, for anyone who has read this book or will, you will notice that all that Dr Ogunbiyi wants to achieve in this book is to tell a story, not just of himself but also of our country. And I must confess that in this book, not only does he discharge that obligation, he has also shown that he is one who is capable of telling a story without embellishments.

“A young nation lost its innocence, just as the six-year-old Yemi Ogunbiyi lost his, but he has become the brilliant university teacher, newspaper executive, connoisseur of wines, and collector of fine arts. So, in telling this compelling story, we are led through the nationalistic idealism of our pre-colonial days, the excitement of civil rule, the military rule, the return of civil rule and other minor contemporary events, but he engages every subject honestly, openly and frankly.”

The former Commonwealth scribe expressed worry over the current state of the country, saying Nigeria can make a fresh start to effectively tackle the myriad of challenges.

Urging Nigerians not to vote any politician who is not committed to restructuring the country to fiscal federalism, he said: “The pictures that emerge from the book show that Nigeria has largely been on the decline during the period in question and in Yemi’s words; Nigeria needs a fresh start, new thinking and a new beginning.

“I want to repeat the essence of what I have said in many occasions about how Nigeria can make a start if it wants to effectively tackle the myriad of challenges that I have listed in the indices. Informed by my long association with governance in the 54 Commonwealth countries, some of which are as pluralistic as Nigeria, my view remains that we cannot begin to successfully deal with our challenges with the governance system we currently operate.

“With our present federal structure, the country will only continue to limp along and to underperform with a growing threat of a national disaster.

“To achieve political stability and to unleash the country’s inherent abilities, we need a governance system that is a true federation with appropriate devolution of powers from the centre to more viable federating units as against the current largely not viable 36 units we have.

“The facts, I believe, are there to show any observer that Nigeria, notwithstanding the years it was held together by military fiat at the centre, began its drift and decline to its present, indisputably perilous state when it abandoned the truer federal constitution on the basis of which our founding fathers negotiated our independence.

“We should return to a governance system that is based on the lines of our constitution.

“If among other challenges we are to arrest the killings of ordinary people, the latest example being the reported killing four days ago of over 80, with the further abduction and the burning of several houses in Plateau State.

“As the country is now gearing up to the 2023 general elections, I urge all the prospecting candidates to commit themselves to prioritizing the reformation of the country’s present governance system and more importantly, I urge the electorate, our people, not to vote for any candidate who fails to pledge to do that.”

Anyaoku, however, commended Ogunbiyi for his contributions to his emergence as the Secretary General of the Commonwealth.

He said, “I am delighted to be part of this memoir by Yemi Ogunbiyi. In his career as a university teacher, journalist, publisher and as what I would describe as a general consultant, Yemi has always performed as a true Nigerian patriot.

“I would like a small diversion to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge my thanks to Yemi for his contribution to the then Nigerian government’s diplomatic efforts, robustly led by the foreign minister, General Ike Nwachukwu, retd, to assist me to defeat a former Australian Prime Minister of seven and a half years in the election as secretary-general of the Commonwealth.”

Also speaking, former Governor of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba, commended Ogunbiyi for bringing intellectualism to the journalism profession

Osoba said, “When I went into politics, the remarks I kept getting from my rivals were that, ‘Yes, Osoba was a great journalist but everywhere he went he recreated newspapers; The Herald, the Sketch and then the Daily Times, but after he left everything collapsed.’ But this is false because Yemi Ogunbiyi continued to create profitability when he succeeded me as the managing director of the Daily Times and I am happy that he achieved better than I did.”

Professor Wole Soyinka described Ogunbiyi as a hyperactive individual.

He said, “When Yemi was teaching at Ife in my department which I was head at the time, he and another businessman, the late Alex Ibru, got together, behind my back, conspired to effect Yemi’s detachment from the academic world for a time. Eventually, they cooked it all up. One day, Alex came to my office and said I am about to take Yemi Ogunbiyi away from you. I said, ‘Is it the same hyperactive Yemi Ogunbiyi? You can have him. I (also) said, ‘This place is too small to contain him; he needs a larger space. Take him away, when he gets tired of you, he will come back.’ I am so happy that a school has been named after him and I think that is the most important gesture and development especially for us in this country. I want to lobby all of you to support this noble cause.”

Former Governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke, said aside from political reforms, there was a need to reform the justice sector.

“Mr Vice President, before you arrived, Chief Emeka Anyaoku did say something symbolic. He said that any candidate that does not make political reforms should not be voted for. I am going to add mine. There should be judicial reforms because if there is no justice, there will be no peace.”

He blamed the elites for the decay in the education sector. He said, “We the elites are responsible for the shortcomings of our nation, the way we raise our children leaves a lot to be desired. We sent our children outside the country, because those of us who run the society have no say in the school system.”

Some of the prominent people present at the event are Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Segun Osoba; Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr Niyi Adebayo; Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; Deputy Governor of Osun State, Mr Benedict Alabi; Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, and another former Ogun State governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.

Others are the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi; former Foreign Affairs Minister, Major General Ike Nwachuckwu, retd; former Governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke; Mr Ray Ekpu and Nobel Laurate, Professor Wole Soyinka; and Publisher of The Guardian Newspapers, Mrs Maiden Ibru.

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FG recovers N120bn from crime proceeds —Lai Mohammed

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Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has said it had realised at least N120 billion as proceeds from criminal financial operations since the bill on Proceeds of Crime Recovery Management was signed into law earlier this year by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the disclosure at a news briefing where Minister of Environment presented the scorecard of the ministry under the Buhari administration in Abuja, yesterday.

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Mohammed said:  “I have an update on the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act (POCA), 2022. In line with the new law, all relevant agencies of government have now opened ‘Confiscated and Forfeiture Properties Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

“I can confirm that so far, the Federal Government has realised over N120 billion, among other currencies, from POCA. This money will be used to fund the completion of ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the country such as the Second Niger Bridge as well as Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kano Expressways. We will continue to update you on this,” he added.

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Appeal court nullifies sale of Intercontinental Hotel to 11Plc

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The sale of Intercontinental Hotel in Lagos to 11Plc by Polaris Bank and Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, (AMCON) has been nullified by the Court of Appeal.

The appeal court sitting in Lagos also ordered a return of the facility to the original owner, the Milan Industries Ltd.

The decision was taken in a unanimous judgment delivered by three Justices of the Appeal Court: Jimi Olukayode Bada, who read the lead judgment; Muhammad Ibrahim Sirajo and Peter Oyinkenimiemi Affen.
The appellate court ruled that Milan Industries Ltd had fully paid the bank the N2 billion mortgage facility it secured from Polaris Bank before the hotel was taken over and sold by AMCON and the bank.
The bank, which was then known as Skye Bank, had put the management of the five-star hotel under the receivership of Mr Kunle Ogunba, an arrangement that was nullified by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Despite this, the bank went ahead and sold the hotel to another company, 11 PLC, a move that was challenged at the Appeal Court by the lawyers to Milan Industries Ltd, Messrs Ahmed Raji SAN and Tunde Kasunmu of Prof A.B Kasunmu SAN chambers.
Milan Industries Ltd had taken a facility from Skye Bank to part finance the five-star hotel located in Victoria Island, Lagos and managed by IHG.
The Milan Group had up till 2021 to pay back the facility. But in a curious move, the bank obtained an interim order to take over the management of the hotel, an order that was vacated when the suit was struck out by the court on March 20, 2018.
According to the Certified True Copy of the judgment signed and released on Wednesday by the Senior Registrar of the court, A. G. Balogun, the appellate court held that the two issues Milan Industries as Appellant/Cross Respondent was contesting were resolved in its favour.
According to the lead judgment by Justice Jimi Bada, “With the resolution of Issues No. 1 and 2 in favour of the Cross Respondent and against the Cross Appellants (Polaris Bank, AMCON and 11 Plc), it is my view that this cross appeal lacks merit and it is hereby dismissed.”
While agreeing with the lead judgment, another member of the appeal court panel, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, stated, “The appellant insisted that it had paid over two billion Naira in liquidating the facility and that as at the time the 1st respondent (Polaris Bank) entered into agreement to sell the appellant’s secured asset to the 2nd respondent (AMCON), there was no collateral and secured asset to sell to the 2nd respondent.
It was also the case of the appellant that at the time the 2nd respondent sold the appellant’s Intercontinental Hotel to the 3rd respondent, the appellant had discharged its obligation under the legal mortgage by paying the amount secured by the property.”
Justice Sirajo ruled, “I adopt his lordship’s reasoning and conclusion in the leading judgment as mine in also allowing the appeal.

“I abide by all the orders made in the lead judgment including that of the costs.”
While also concurring with the lead judgment by Justice Bada, the third member of the appeal panel, Justice Peter Affen said, “The judicial reasoning and conclusions reached on the issues raised accord with mine, and I hereby affirm my agreement with the leading judgment which allowed the main appeal and dismissed the cross appeal. I equally abide by the orders on the costs.”

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Auditor General report: 100 govt establishments risk zero allocation

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About 100 government establishments, comprising ministries, departments and agencies face the risk of getting zero allocation in the 2023 budget should they fail to respond to the queries raised against them in a report by the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation.

The affected groups, according to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, have one week to respond.

He said this after Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo), raised a point of order during plenary that agencies indicted in the audit report had refused to appear before his panel.

Urhoghide said his committee had invited heads of the affected agencies on several occasions to respond to queries raised in the Auditor-General’s report.

The lawmaker said sections 88 and 89 of the constitution empowered the parliament to summon federal government agencies to account for public funds they had spent.

He lamented that the agencies had refused to appear before his committee, saying the amounts involved were staggering.

He urged the Senate President to issue warrant of arrest to compel the agencies to appear before the Public Accounts Committee.

Responding, the Senate President said, “Reading this list at plenary, it gives the agencies the opportunity to now know, if they were not aware before for those that may claim ignorance.

“I am taking the opportunity to advise that, in the next one week, the agencies mentioned here should appear before the committee. If there is no communication whatsoever and no cogent and verifiable reasons are given, we will slash the budget of the agencies.”

Some of the agencies are Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Transportation, Health, Works and Housing, Information and Culture, Mines and Steal Development, Police Affairs, Defence, Youths and Sports, Petroleum and Aviation.

Others are State House, Budget Office, Presidential Fleet, Nigerian Army, Navy, Nigerian Air Force, NAFDAC, Civil Defence, Presidential Amnesty Programme, FERMA, NEMA, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Debt Management Office, INEC, North East Development Commission (NEDC), Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Dept Management Office, National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), National Examination Council (NECO).

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