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Soyinka: Nigeria is in a mess… it’s disintegrating before our very eyes

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Soyinka

He spoke on Thursday at a media briefing held at the Freedom Park in Lagos.

Soyinka, who said the present administration doesn’t appear to have a grasp of solutions to the country’s challenges, said Nigerians need to embrace unity to foster true development.

“We’re in a mess. This country is in a mess. It is disintegrating before our very eyes. The government is floundering. It’s not merely that the government is devoid of a holistic solution, the problem really is that this government does not have a holistic grasp of the problems of the nation and the environment in which we live and the time also in which we live in,” he said.

“After all, look at Sudan right now; it’s in turmoil simply because some people got up one day and decided that an arrangement come into for the governance of that nation be abrogated, because they’re carrying the guns. And of course, the people have responded in a marvellous, united way. Doctors, workers, students, market people and the last time, the oil workers, they’ve all got up and said ‘no’.

“Part of the problem which we have in this nation, and which has plagued us, except for a few memorable times, is this ability to act in concert. From time to time, we have a section of the nation come together and say ‘enough; we’re human beings; we will not be treated like beasts’.

“Like #EndSARS for instance, that’s one such movement. Unfortunately, it ended somewhat tragically. But it doesn’t matter; it was a step in the right direction.

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 “What I’m trying to say to you is this. If we’re still looking to this government for solution, then I think we really are lost. We’ve got to find a way of piling up pressure to enable us to meet as equal beings across the entire nation for a national indaba, involving the various professions, group interests, ethnic groups — any productive sector of this nation should be encouraged to come together and really debate the future of this nation.

“We’re going along piecemeal solutions all the time. One way or the other, one misses that sense of a grasp of the totality and understanding of the connection of one part of governance, one part of civic society to the others.”

While speaking on his latest book, ‘Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People in the World’, he said people should read and “decide whether that title is justified or it’s meant to be ironic, and if it’s the latter, what really it is trying to say”.

He also lamented the “unnecessary” questions Nigerian travellers are expected to answer as part of the COVID protocol.

“When you go through this questionnaire — the thing you have to fill on your computer — you just wonder what it’s all about. Is it really about COVID prevention or is it to gather information on Nigerians in a covert way utilising the COVID requirements?” he asked

“It’s unnecessary. I’m not saying an attempt was made to banish me, but I felt like I was serving a decree of banishment, at least for 24 or 48 hours. That’s exactly how I felt. You know, you have to carry your bag as we’re about to enter the plane, then go all the way back, then you go through immigration again, to be let into France.”

The Cable

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$418m Paris Club Refund: Govs Tackle Malami, Say Action Fraudulent, Self-Serving

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Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Wednesday described the positions of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on the controversial $418 million Paris Club contractors’ fee as “fraudulent and self-serving.”

The NGF Chairman and governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, disclosed the position of the forum in a communique issued at the end of its meeting, held at the Conference Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Fayemi, while reading the communique to journalists, said the governors had resolved to pursue the issue, which is before the law court, to a logical conclusion so as to know the next steps to take on the matter.

The governors, who insisted that the deductions for the payment of said consultancy were illegal, especially as the matter is before the courts, said Malami was not acting in public interest.

“The forum extensively reviewed the purported attempt by the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Finance to circumvent the law and a recent judgment of the Supreme Court, to secure the approval of the Federal Executive Council, to effect illegal payment of the sum of $418 million to contractors who allegedly executed consultancies in respect to the Paris Club Refunds to state and local governments.

“The forum set up a committee comprising the Chairman, the governor of Ekiti State, the Vice Chairman, the governor of Ondo State, the governor of Plateau State, the governor of Nasarawa State and the governor of Ebonyi State, to interface with the committee set up by Mr. President to review the matter.

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“But the position of the Governors’ Forum is clear and unequivocal. Although this matter is sub-judice and we are very reluctant to get in the way of a matter that is still being pursued in the courts, we are constrained by the manner in which the Honorable Attorney-General has been going around various media houses and purporting to create the impression that this is a liability to which governors have committed themselves to and agreed to, even though he is very much aware that that’s not the case.

“We reject all of the claims that he has made on these issues and we also insist that states will not give up on insisting that these purported claims are fraudulent and will not stand, as far as governors are concerned, and we will take every constitutional and legal means to ensure that these purported consultancies are fully litigated upon by the highest courts in the land.

“If the courts now find governors and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and states liable, then we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. As far as we are concerned, this is a matter that governors feel very strongly about and we do not believe that the Attorney-General of the Federation is acting in the public interest. We believe he’s acting in personal, selfish interest, that would ultimately become clear when this matter is fully addressed in the law courts,” he said.

The governors, who also deliberated on the prevailing economic and security situation in the country, agreed to intervene by engaging with the federal government and other stakeholders to deliberate, suggest immediate action plans on ameliorate the current situations.

“The Forum extensively discussed the state of the Nigerian economy and security, following a presentation by Mr. Bismarck Rewani, member of the President’s Economic Advisory Council, the Forum resolved to immediately engage with the federal government and other critical stakeholders; Labour, the presidential candidates of political parties, and corporate actors on finding resolutions and suggestions to implement a set of immediate actions to ameliorate the worsening economic conditions in the country”, he said.

On the industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the communique said “on the prolonged strike by Nigerian universities, the forum encourages the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities to find meaningful resolutions to the lingering impasse and as proposed to engage with both parties, just as we have done in the past, in a bid to ending the strike”.

The communique further revealed that the Forum discussed several other issues, ranging from resolve to increase funding for the health care sector to encouraging fiscal transparency in states.

Daily Trust
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Ex-IBB spokesman, Duro Onabule, dies at 83

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Duro Onabule, former Chief Press Secretary of former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, has died at the age of 83.

The veteran journalist reportedly died on Tuesday evening.

A close associate of Onabule’s family, Chief Eric Teniola, broke the news of the foremost journalist’s death, saying, “Chief Duro Onabule died this evening”.

He Onabule was presidential spokesman for the greater part of Babangida nine-year administration when the government shut down many newspapers and magazines and slammed their publishers with temporary proscription to make them comply with the code of conduct set up by the administration.

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He was born in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, on September 27, 1939 and graduated from CMS Grammar School and School of Journalism, London.

He started his first media work as a reporter at the Daily Express in 1961. Three years later, he joined the Daily Sketch and spent some time there before going back to his previous employer, Daily Express.

In 1969, he served as the London correspondent of the Express. In the mid-1970s, he worked for the Daily Times and later became a deputy editor of the Headlines magazine.

Onabule was appointed features editor when the late MKO Abiola started Concord Press and in 1984, he became the editor of Concord newspaper.

He was a columnist at the Sun newspapers until his death.

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Insecurity: Lagos considers total ban on okada

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The Lagos State Government says it is considering a total ban on commercial motorcycles in all local government areas of the state.

The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said this at a stakeholders forum organised to review the ban on commercial motorcycles in parts of the state.

The forum, held in Lagos on Tuesday, had the theme: “Okada Ban, What Next: Review of Enforcement and Compliance, Two Months After.”

The Lagos State Governor, Bababjide Sanwo-Olu, on June 1 banned the operation of commercial motorcycles, popularly called okada, in six local government areas and nine LCDAs.

The six local governments are Ikeja, Surulere, Eti-Osa, Lagos Mainland, Lagos Island and Apapa.

Omotosho said after seeing the results of the ban in the six local government areas, the people of Lagos had been calling on the government to expand the ban.

“Some people have suggested that the ban should be statewide, considering the present anxiety over security,” he added.

According to him, the forum is to take stock of the government decision on the ban and agree on the next step to take.

He recalled the criticisms that initially trailed the ban, “based largely on sentiments of those who had not witnessed the havoc some of the Okada riders caused in the areas of health and security.

“Residents were being robbed of their belongings by robbers who used motorcycles to flee scenes of crimes.

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“Our public hospitals were being filled with victims of Okada accidents, doctors had their hands full at Emergency wards, and hoodlums who rode unregistered motorbikes posed great security risks.”

The commissioner said all stakeholders now have the opportunity to make suggestions on what steps the government should take on the matter.

In his remark, the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde said that the ban had recorded significant successes and compliance.

Oladeinde said in the affected areas within the period under review, available records’ showed that crime and accidents had reduced drastically.

“In the affected areas within the period under review, available records’ show that crime and accident rate reduced astronomically by 86 per cent and 63.7 per cent, respectively.

“While a total of 7,500 motorcycles were impounded and crushed accordingly,” he added.

He said that the rise in the level of insecurity nationwide has made it imperative to review the impact on the ban on motorcycles in parts of the state and further steps to protect the people.

“The Federal Government is presently considering the total ban of motorcycle operations across the federation as most of these underground activities are been enhanced with the use of motorcycles.

“Also, the attention of the state government has been drawn to the security threat parading the news across all socio-media platforms that some unscrupulous individuals are planning to attack the state.”

Oladeinde said the government was already working round the clock to secure the state.

The commissioner said the focus on Okada operation was due to their non-compliance to traffic rules and regulations, and its being used for robbery, kidnapping, arms supply and attack on citizens.

He said the forum was expected to re-ignite the state’s commitment to tackling traffic rules violations and criminals operating as commercial riders.

The Special Adviser to the governor on Transportation, Sola Giwa said the forum should come up with suggestions to guide the government on decisions to take on the operation of Okada riders.

Eagle

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